Engaged!

Engaged  [inˈɡājd, enˈɡājd] Definition: A state of being firmly and continuously connected.  E.g. “A car cannot move until its gears are engaged; when they are disengaged, it ceases to move forward.”

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My wife and I got engaged 34 years ago today.

We still are.

Yes, we got married. But we’re still engaged. Completely. Oh, we’ve changed gears too many times to count. And we’ve gotten stuck in neutral on occasion. But every time we did, we realized we’d ceased to move forward, and worked to get our marriage back in gear (good marriages are strictly manual transmission vehicles; automatic simply won’t do).

So, thank you for 34 years of engagement, honey. I wouldn’t want to travel this road with anyone else. And, oh yeah, this isn’t very automotive sounding, but…

I love you.

Posted in Culture, Memoir, Quips and Quotes | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments

Forgiveness + Love = Freedom

I played a leprechaun in a high school musical, and forthwith adopted the leprechaun’s moniker, Og, as my nickname. But only last week did I learn via DNA testing than I am actually more Irish than anything else (39% to be exact). And so it is with a new sense of ethnic enthusiasm that I celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day. Not by drinking green beer (which is more American than Irish), but by revisiting the story of the real-life saint the day is named for. 

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Even the Romans feared them. For centuries they avoided the Irish Celts, whom Julius Caesar had called “more savage than any other race.” When the newly Christianized Roman monks finally arrived in the 5th century, they looked down on the Irish barbarians. And in turn, those barbarians looked down on them, while continuing to live in fear of their own vengeful gods.

Then a Roman-British boy of 16 was captured and came to live among them. During his six years as a slave, he learned their language and their character. In slavery he found freedom, finally turning his heart toward God.

Patrick escaped, but then wandered restlessly. In his Confession he writes of a vision in which “the Voice of the Irish” cried out to him, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, come (back) and walk among us.”

After his ordination, the young bishop returned to “walk among” them. They were stunned by this former slave’s embodiment of love and forgiveness. And as a result, not only commoners but warlords and nobles alike surrendered their hearts to God. Faith in the God not of vengeance but of love spread like a flame. Patrick’s simple formula of forgiveness + love had set them free, just as it had him. Just as it has me. And you? If so, pass it on! And have a…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Freedom Awaits

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Even if I’d never been a father, this picture would touch me. But because I have, it touches me even more deeply. It pierces my heart and salves it all at once. Why? Because even as I write this a beloved family member is in hospice struggling to release her own mortal coil, to be set free the way this precious little boy has been.

She’s much older, and has enjoyed a life of physical mobility this dear child never had. But now he’s the free one, far more free than she. Or any of us, for that matter. The roles are temporarily reversed. I love her, and her closest family members love her even more, so our tasks are twofold:

  • First, to be grateful for her and her time with us, and to accept it as enough; for some that’s the most difficult part.
  • Second, to learn from her passing. Because the people we love can teach us how to live, but they can also teach us how to die, if we let them. And when they do…

They teach us to be free.

Posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir | Tagged , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Tips for Writers: Creating Dynamic Sentences

 

BAH-da-da-DAHHhhh! BAH-da-da-DAHHHhhhh! BAH-da-da-DAHHHhhhh, BAH-da-da-DAHHHhhhh, BAH-da-da-DAHHHhhhh! Even if you’re not a classical music fan, you know the iconic opening from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Ludwig van Beethoven is the ultimate pin-up boy for one of the most important of all creative techniques: dynamics.

Dynamics is the use of unexpected juxtapositions. It generates the kind of excitement and energy that only variety and the unexpected can impart. The 5th is famous for its juxtapositions of loud and soft. But dynamics also means juxtaposing long and short, fast and slow. Without it, music can put an audience into a coma.

And so can writing. Here are a few dynamic juxtapositions you can use to keep your writing unpredictable and exciting:

  1. Focus on one thing per sentence. Don’t cram multiple descriptions into a single sentence: “Gouty, aching Sir Reginald trundled down the circuitous, weed-choked footpath en route to the ancient, crumbling wreck that was once the proud stately mansion built by his great-grandfather the Duke of Frickenham.” Break it up, please! “Gouty, aching Sir Reginal groaned as he set forth on the path. It was choked with weeds and toe-catching roots. But at the end—if he made it all the way—he would find the treasure he’d sought all these years: the unsurpassable mansion built by his great-grandfather, the Duke of Frickenham. The legendary estate would be his!”
  2. Watch out for redundant word usage. Grammatically incorrect? No. Coma-inducing? Yes! “Dick Morehouse stopped at his house for more food. He’d stopped here before for food, so he knew more food could be found here. But where was the food in the house housed?” Most redundancies are more subtle than this, but if you look for them, like ants in the pantry, you’ll find them!
  3. Use a mix of short and long sentences. Nothing will put your reader into a stupor faster than strings of sentences of the same length. But don’t be random about it, think character and situation: “Jenny ran! Faster than she’d ever run before, faster than she’d ever thought possible. “Adrenalin? Good,” she thought, “because right now I need all the chemical superpower I can get!” Her feet burned as if they were on fire, but the alternative was unthinkable. Except that now she was thinking about it, about what the man with the butcher knife would do if he caught her, and as she did the fire vanished and her feet turned to turbines. Damn the pain! She was the Flash, she was Thor, she was Wonder Woman, she was Ripley facing the Alien, she was…on the edge of a cliff!”

Make it dynamic!

Just for fun:

Posted in Humor, Quips and Quotes, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Heaven?

heaven_and_hell_by_kizuna_chan

Many will say:

Those who do this

and steer clear of that

clearly have God

tucked under their hat.

And those who’ve insured

themselves against fire

by naming the cross

and defaming desire

are certain their names

must appear on His list.

And if He complains

they’ll firmly insist

“You’re mistaken, I’ve done

everything that You said,

I drank all Your wine

and ate all Your bread…

“So why don’t I feel

like abiding here now?

You aren’t what I’ve loved.

Where’s my sacred Cow?

When I look all around

I don’t see a trace

of the heaven I’ve built,

no, it’s not in this place”

But the One says:

There are those who have burned

in their hearts to heal others

and ached at the loss

of their sisters and brothers,

acquitting the worst

and illuming their night.

And despite their own failings,

refusing the flight

that beckons with death,

they strive once again

to align every breath

with the presence of Him

whom they’ve loved since they learned

that He shed from his side

the one balm that heals

their festering pride.

When finally they gaze

in His eyes they’ll see home,

not citings or symbols

but His presence alone.

And then as they look

on this setting again

they’ll see heaven’s been built

out of His love for them.

Ω

Posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers, Poetry, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , | 30 Comments

Just Snap Out of It!

cropped-valerie_090813-e1494264056464My Featured Blogger this week is Valerie Cullers of ValerieCullers.com. Like me, Valerie is a faith-driven writer who reaches out to a broad spectrum of people–believers, nonbelievers, and everyone in between. She is transparent, curious, and insightful–I never fail to gain something of value from her posts!

Valerie is also the author of the Bible study “Psalm One for Women on the Run” and “The Unwelcome Stranger,” a historical novella set in the early fourth century, as well as an in-the-works sequel.

Do yourself a favor and discover ValerieCullers.com!

Valerie Cullers

man person people emotions Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Have you ever been in a situation with someone who was going through something temporary and you wanted to say to them, “Just Snap Out of It!”? I have and even if I haven’t said it, I have thought it. 

Three weeks ago, my husband hurt his knee at the gym. He was kind of moping around the house because he couldn’t go for a bike ride or do any physical activity. I knew he would get better in a few days and was very supportive on the outside, but inside I wanted to say, “Just Snap Out of It!” I thought I knew what he was going through; I just wanted him to skip feeling bad and move to being okay with it. You know what I mean, “Just pretend you are not going through the process.” 

Fast forward a couple of weeks; I…

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Posted in Books, For Pastors and Teachers, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Serious Groaners

I’ve been getting way too deep lately! Figured it was time to pull out my Groaner File. These are originals, so you have only me to blame if you don’t find them pleasantly punny. (P.S. Add your own groaners in the Leave a Reply section!)presentation1

Question: What does a sadist do?148957_600

Answer: Beats me.

A. Did you know there’s a new treatment for mosquito bites?

B. Yes! I’m itching to try it! 

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Brochure seen at a plastic surgeon’s office: “Picking Your Nose.”

A.     I used to go to a masseuse. But I quit.

B.     Why?

A.     She rubbed me the wrong way.

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Banker’s Joke (warning: slightly rude) – Genesis 38:9:Whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, Onan spilled his semen on the ground. What he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD, and so He took Onan’s life.” This is the oldest known example of a …(wait for it)… “substantial penalty for early withdrawal.”

And finally:have-you-found-jesus

Posted in Humor, Mitchellaneous, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Quips and Quotes | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments