Archive for October, 2017

In a Place of Acceptance???

Posted: October 19, 2017 in World On The Edge

 The Distance Between High and Low is my new upcoming southern gothic novel, now in the final stages of proofing.  The novel is about young people–specifically a set of twins, a boy and a girl–who must do without a father, and about those who pick up the slack. One of the twins is the girl in the picture, completely devoted to her brother. More to come about her later.

But there’s another important character in the novel, an adversary called, Hobart McSwain. Hobart, born in Detroit, was adopted as a child by an Alabama family. Expressing his need for acceptance in the fictional town of Highlow, he says:

“I never asked for Alabama; I never asked to be her son. I had no choice over my deliverance. A child has no muscle, at all; just a displaced leaf riding on a stale wind, blowing this way and that. But when the wind stops, the leaf descends. I descended into the high side of Highlow and was raked aside, and it hurt that I wasn’t good enough to be noticed.”

Not good enough to be noticed. A frightening and continuous worry that most of us have throughout our lives.

Four years ago, I had my first book-signing at Barnes and Noble, here in my hometown. I worried a lot–like a child: Will anyone come? Will I sign any books? As a new author, will I be accepted?

Since then, I’ve spoken at many events and venues, but always wondering the same. Am I good enough?

Acceptance is one of the themes in The Distance Between High and Low. And it’s what we all want, isn’t it? From the time we are born until the time we die, we strive for the acceptance of those we admire. Am I good enough?

In high school, in college, on the job—am I good enough?

In marriage, in parenthood, as a friend —am I good enough?

Living on the edge of a materialistic world that places wealth, power, and beauty on the altar of success—am I good enough?

Do I hide as if I’m inferior, and only now and then, peek out? If so, I need to remember that I don’t have to please another’s version of ‘good enough.’ I only have to satisfy that place in my own soul that pricks me to follow my highest inclinations, not my lowest ones.

Because in that place, I can relax in comfort and ask the Lord to lead me, then hear His voice as a Father to His child: “I love you no matter what you do, or who you are. I accept you. You are mine.”

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We all have our “little kingdoms” to protect–those tangible and transient things in our lives that we covet. Some covet position, holding to their bank account, or personal appearance. Some hold tightly to their addictions, bad habits, or sins. Others concentrate on influencing and swaying people–maybe, or maybe not, in a loving way.

And we work hard to keep up these things we hold on to. We pay great attention to them because they fill some perceived lack within us. If we have, or if we do, this or that, we will be completely satisfied, and happy. Or so we think. But often, even if our little kingdoms are attained, we still feel unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

This is because, as human beings created by God in His own image, we are made for more than seeking satisfaction in the kingdom of Self. That kind of satisfaction is shallow and stagnant. We are made to thrive in a much bigger kingdom right here on earth. And I don’t mean kingdom as a symbol. I mean a genuine kingdom for each of us in light of our great value. In other words–Who We Are.

And who is it that we are? Children of Almighty God. All of us. Every one of us. No matter our status in life. “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” –2 Corinthians 6:18

It is odd that we put so much more stock into our own personal little kingdoms which may bring us passing happiness, but often cause discord and unhappiness, and yet ignore the bigger kingdom of everlasting happiness that is our birthright.

What are we waiting for? Why are we holding back? We strive for, obsess over, and give all our attention to our passing kingdoms. Why won’t we give everything for the only kingdom that lasts?

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It’s a fact.

Women spend lots of money to “stay young.” So do some men.  The biggest thing to many of us is appearance.

And its expensive, especially for women, who reportedly spend over 426 billion dollars on beauty products with dreams of having the taut faces and bodies of our younger years.

All these beauty products may, or may not, keep us looking good on the outside, but as human beings, we possess so much more than our bodies. We possess a soul.

Our soul, our interior self, projects to the world our genuineness, or our falseness, as human beings. The Catholic Catechism tells us that the human person, created in the image of God, is corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that “then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God. In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person. But “soul” also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is made in God’s image: “Soul” signifies the spiritual principle in man.

How much attention do we pay to that?

Do we ever ask ourselves how does my soul look, instead of how does my body look?

We are called to pay attention to our soul, called to recognize that it possesses a divinity created by, and shared with God, making us His.

I ask you this: will your body live forever? No answer is needed. We all know it won’t.

But our soul will live forever.  So, doesn’t it seem smart to take better care of it than we do?

black-and-white-1283234_640What’s a hidey hole??

According to the dictionary: a place for hiding something, or oneself, especially as a retreat from other people.

A hidey hole has positives and negatives, and there are times when we need one–times when we need aloneness. One of those times is for prayer. Of course, we can pray anywhere, even in the middle of a noisy crowd, but solitude is a requirement for most of us when making prayerful decisions about our life in a conversation with God, who loves us and will lead us, if we let Him.

But sometimes our very private hidey holes are breeched by other people who want to destroy our convictions and closely held beliefs. These people crowd around us, increasing their loud cacophony to distract us from our deeper self. The sound of their voices keeps some of us from hearing our own inner voice, while the breath from their mouths attempts to blow out the personal candles of our once-enlightened soul.

We are lured by a false connection to these people we don’t even personally know–and who surely don’t care a thing about us. These people are haughty and proud, big-screen personalities out for themselves. Yet, we let them tell us who, or what, we ought to be.

At first they come at us to question our appearance:

We ought to be thinner.
We ought to dress like them.

Then they come at us touting their own actions:

We ought to sing their way, or dance their way, or go on their Survival trips.

Finally, they come for our thoughts:

We ought to tolerate whatever they say we should tolerate, no matter if it goes against the grain of what we know is right. We ought to silence our own thoughts and take up theirs. And on and on, until we’re not thinking for ourselves, at all.

Except inside us, in our tiny hidey hole, lies our conscience–a still, small voice that will speak to us if we let it. A voice that comes from the wonderful gift of free will–the opportunity to think and act for ourselves.

Do we realize how much we lose by not listening to the voice within us?

Do we realize how much we miss by not trusting in ourselves?

Don’t miss the opportunity to become who YOU are, not who THEY are.

Never give up your own, valuable hidey hole–that quiet place within you that nourishes and strengthens your spiritual convictions.

Need to Re-shape the Pie???

Posted: October 4, 2017 in World On The Edge

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My mother was not a pie-maker in the physical sense. But in the sense that she could usually find a way to get through any crisis, she was a top-notch re-shaper of pies.

Most of us have our unique ways of ‘getting through’ undesirable times in our lives when sadness seems overwhelming. We cannot change a sad situation, but we can try to motivate ourselves out of it. We have the ability to decide to climb out of the dark hole we find ourselves in. Some of us look back and choose to appreciate the people and things we still have, and that brings solace. Others look ahead and choose to begin again, to dream and plan for better events to come. Getting through a bad situation begins with a vision of improvement. Because, without a vision, we remain static.

But for those who do nothing except bathe in their misery, better times will come more slowly, if at all.

In reality, many of us make a decision to give-up and remain the victim of circumstances. Maybe these are circumstances that we have brought on ourselves through our own pride, greed, envy, lust, vengeance, laziness, or anger. We let one or more of these vices control us, forgetting the God-given gifts we have to overcome them.

Or maybe an awful life event happened that was not caused by us at all, yet we must deal with it. Well, we cannot give-up. We are not made to give-up.

No, it is not easy to move ahead. Yes, it may take time. But we are children of God with His gift of imagination, His gift of an ability to think and plan, love and forgive–even to forgive ourselves.

We are wonderfully created human beings who can re-shape ourselves, just as a pie-maker reshapes a pile of sticky dough, and makes it into something desirable, something we can smile about and, again, be proud of.