How Great is Your God?

March 26, 2015 — 1 Comment

Reserved 12 by Steve Snodgrass on FlickrYou probably remember the first time you prayed and something happened, even if it was really small.

Maybe, like one of my childhood friends, you prayed for pizza at dinnertime, and ta-da! There it is.

One friend of mine has a daughter who prayed that the automatic window on their SUV would work again, after weeks of malfunctioning. Ta-da, now she can order milkshakes at Sonic.

And it’s hard not to roll your eyes at the myriad parking spot miracles out there. It’s enough to fill a very boring book.

And on the eighth day, Adam sought a space large enough for his Prius. The sun approached its apex, and the cinnamon rolls he desired would soon be discarded, forever out of reach. So he closed his eyes to pray and – lo, and behold! – his front bumper knocked over a parked motorcycle, giving him enough clearance to set up camp.

This gave me a really skewed idea of God. Shouldn’t you be praying to find a good spouse, raise good children, freedom of religion, and a fulfilling and prosperous career? How does finding a front row parking space outside of Whole Foods on a Sunday afternoon factor into God’s priorities?

How May I Help You?

Not wanting to skew HIS priorities, I decided early on to ‘help’ God.

No more praying for small stuff. God is an important figure in the universe.

Like, if a boss I wanted to impress gave me a job to do and I couldn’t find a pen, I wouldn’t bother him about it. Instead, I’d do what I have to, go buy a pen, and get the job done. Because, as I believed it, God shouldn’t be bothered with trivial things.

It would be better, I thought, to pray that I write a really great book, or built a business that gave me complete financial freedom. Or, if my spouse had a major disease one day, I’d save up my goodwill with God for a real big miracle at that moment.

If we’re dealing with regular human beings, that is a great idea. Except we’re not.

How Great is Your God?

I was trying to build what’s called Emotional Equity.

As if every time I didn’t bother him about something small, I preserved my capital with the Most High.

And every time I pursued my calling, or helped someone, He’d really pay attention when I prayed for the big stuff.

I was praying as if every prayer was subject to a holy audit.

You Cannot Bankrupt God.

Emotional equity is a great tool and a savvy way to live when building long-lasting relationships with people. It sucks as a foundation for your friendship with God.

What God is really looking for is a relationship with you. Any prayer, of any size, opens the communication channels, giving you face-time with the Creator. Small ones build your faith. Big ones honor God’s capacity to bless you, and when fulfilled, they vindicate your faith.

In God’s eyes, every time you talk with Him, it’s a deposit!

So pray for the small, petty, inconsequential stuff. It’s cool, He want’s to hear from you. You’ll also be less nervous about prayer when you go to Him for the big stuff, and won’t hesitate to seek His counsel first – in all things.

Piggy Bank and Calculator by Images Money on FlickrI was wrong. The kid praying for pizza was right. God is good.

Go for it. What are you going to do, wipe Him out?

Luke 18 (NIV) Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 

 Photo Credit:

Reserved 12 by Steve Snodgrass (courtesy of Flickr.com)

Piggy Bank and Calculator by Images Money (courtesy of Flickr.com)

 

Original: LARK SWAP MEET by Dave Parker on FlickrSometimes the crazy people you meet make so much sense that you realize you were the crazy one all along.

While researching for a book series, I became interested in all the things that make spies and MacGuyver-type characters so awesome. It’s the skills and problem solving, executed with a flare that is sock-rocking impressive.

On the way out from Lowes, getting supplies for a related hobby, I ended up chatting with a retired veteran.

His car was a few spots from mine, and when I spotted it, I saw a monstrosity sticking out the back of his trunk. It looked like the photo to the left.

He also had two more antennas than the car in this photo.

“Anyone who pays money every month for a cellphone is a sucker,” he said.

“It’s not ideal,” I said, “But what’s the alternative? Do we give up text and internet, and tell all our friends to buy CB radios? ‘Breaker breaker one-nine, this is rubber ducky…'”

And he proceeded to tell me about HAM radio.

HAM RADIOS

I got the idea he knew something I didn’t.

He holds up what looks like a tan, military-style blackberry. “I can talk, text, and video chat with anyone I want, and it’s free.”

It sounds cool, but you probably have to have your own cell towers, and the equipment probably costs tens of thousands, I thought.

And then he tells me the large 80-meter transmitter on his car cost him about $680 bucks to build and install.

He can call on his handheld HAM to an antenna, which bounces it to the 80-meter (that tall tower you see in the photo), transmitting it pretty much anywhere in the world he wants.

I was skeptical, but then I gave him my number and he called it!

This meant he could talk to anyone using his HAM. Rock on. He could order a ham pizza using his HAM if he wanted to!

So not only could he call anyone, and do so away from his car, he could also do it for less money than most people pay for a year of cell-phone service.

Except, instead of paying a cell-phone provider to use their systems, he can drive around with his own radio tower.

Radio Tower? You mean like radio stations and stuff?

Yeah. AM, FM, CB, and a host of other frequencies. If you’re willing to look a bit like a nutcase, you can have a free radio that you can use to talk to anybody.

And Internet, too?

That may be the wave of the future.

There are organizations like the San Francisco hackerspace, Noisebridge, that are building an alternative network modeled after the Internet. This could provide high-speed connectivity for a fraction of the cost of traditional internet service.

Skype-style communications like video chat are already available to HAM operators. If your computer has a camera and it’s on, HAM operators can face-to-face with you.

And systems like Packet Radio allow you to make long-distance wireless networks to transfer text and other messages between computers. While a bit on the slower side, this technology could speed up as our need for it increases.

When it pays to be a nut

So why would we need it?

The answer should be no!I could think of a few reasons here with the FCC Net Neutrality rules…but instead I’ll let U.S. News do it.

Right or left, soccer-mom or hippie, I think we can all agree on this:

I don’t know about you, but oligopolies – industries ran by just a few companies – are something I’m against. Why? Because they can halt new technologies, treat customers badly, and even price fix if the existing anti-trust laws are not enforced.

In short, they don’t have your best interest in mind.

Same with bills our elected officials aren’t allowed to read. The U.S. News article has other reasons why it’s a bad move, but the fact that the Congressmen can’t read it is proof enough that it doesn’t have people’s best interests at heart.

That aside, let’s say regulation blocks certain parts of the internet, creating a digital gulag. Where’s the alternative? HAM can be that alternative – accessing necessary information during crucial times.

If superpowers like Russia can use ‘white boxes’ to block cell and internet signals, how are people going to communicate under such circumstances? What if extremists in the Middle East block signals while committing genocide against Christians and Atheists?

They can pray… if they’re willing to do so.

But what they can also do is use HAM to get the word out if they can’t use Twitter or Facebook.

But what about the most common reality we face in the western world today…natural disasters?

HAM radio is twitter for when things goThe man continued showing me his tech as he explained, “A hurricane swept through a town in North Texas a while back. Me and a few friends – about ten of us – we went up to the town while all land lines and cell towers were down. For about a month, we provided communication to citizens and their families – for free. And there’s about 670,000 HAM operators in the US alone.”

The Great News

The FCC rules regulating HAM radios have created a special culture. I don’t know all the rules yet, but here are some:

1. HAM operators cannot use their equipment or HAM radio-related services to make money. (NOTE: I get the impression this rule is intentional, to protect the oligopolies while keeping the frequencies from getting too crowded)

2. They must be registered. (It takes more work to track down a HAM operator than the constant surveillance of cell users, but it is possible after enough signal watching)

3. No swearing. Keep in mind you are operating a radio, and a little kid could be listening to that frequency.

4. Morse code knowledge  - just kidding, that rule was dropped in 2007. But still, the veterans of HAM radio can speak another language, giving them a whole new level of competence.

This means we have a bunch of competent people, who are generous and not predatory, with cleaner language than me.

My hat goes off to these 600,000+ people. All potential heroes, just waiting in the wings in case disaster strikes. The next time we see a Hurricane Katrina, A giant snowstorm in the Northeast, an EMP attack, earthquake, or civil unrest, know that you or a loved one could one day be assisted by one of many such heroes. These heroes can help call out and let others know they’re okay, get necessary supplies, and be a lifeline to their broken world.

Do You Want to Ham it up?

Learning about Ham-radios and their capabilities has filled a major blind spot in my quest to one day be self-sustaining. In the not-too-distant future I want to start accessing the conveniences of modern technology without sacrificing privacy, and this is a great way to do it.

And if you’d like to:

  • reduce your dependence on oligopolies,
  • save thousands of dollars
  • look like a nut-job
  • protect your privacy
  • Anger your Homeowners’ Association
  • Stop future-Hitler from getting away with murder
  • and be a hero in the process…

Then maybe HAM radios are for you.

Find out more at many different websites, like the old-school HamUniverse, or check out the how-to guide from Wired.

Photo courtesy of Dave Parker on Flickr

Edge Conference by Jeffrey Zeldman at flickr

You ever spend time on an event for a specific reason, and then get something completely different out of it?

I came to the ReWrite conference last week expecting to get a lot of tips on how to improve on marketing, and perhaps figure out when a traditional publishing deal would be worth my while.

What happened instead is that I ran into my people.

You know, your people? A group you can be yourself around?

If I’m lucky I develop friendships with 1-2 of those kinds of people per year.

Imagine running into 100 of them in 2 days.

Esther Fedorkevich of the Fedd Agency set a strong, indie-friendly tone in spite of her traditional publishing background. The feud between indies and traditional publishers is fading fast, and she is definitely part of the solution in that area. Rest assured, I still hammered her employees with ‘Audit the Fed’ jokes.

Personally, as long as I live in a relatively free part of the world, I’ll use whichever route achieves the goals that matter to me, as long as those decisions are legal, moral, and ethical.

Traditional? Sure, why not?

Indie? Sure, why not?

Keynote speaker was Ted Dekker, who wrote the Circle series, Thr3e (also a movie), and many other bestselling novels.

People who stood on stage and said things

Like the subtitle? The tone of the festival was that all authors are equally important, because even the top selling folks were at one point learning the basics. And people learning the basics are just like the top sellers, traveling on the journey from where they are to where they want to be. It was a judgment-free zone, and even the major players were in the audience taking notes, just like everyone else. That is some real ‘walking the talk’.

At the risk of leaving out any names, or name-dropping, here were some other panelists and attendees:

Takeaways

Here are some lessons that anyone can take with them, writer or not:

“When you love your neighbor as yourself, you love yourself, because we are one.” – Ted Dekker

“Everything you do in life will flow out of who you are…rewrite what you believe about yourself.”

“Do not despise obscurity” – Mary DeMuth

On gurus and how following their checklists often fails to bring you the success you seek. “What if the ‘Guru’s’ advice works?! You might risk pointing to them or yourself rather than to God.” – Mary DeMuth

Just because God is in something, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will prosper the way we want it to.

“It’s difficult to read the label (your qualities) when you’re standing inside the bottle.” – James Rubart

“Culture is a gathering of people around a common idea, item, or belief.” [that is the goal of social media] – Sandi Krakowski

“Nobody [successful authors interviewed] could identify a single moment of breakthrough… they only noticed breakthrough after the fact.” – Esther Fedorkevich

All the moments pushing the flywheel led to the breakthrough.

“Think less like an author [on PR] and more like a journalist for a news outlet.” In the end, that’s what social media is, and our job as creatives or businesspeople or writers is to report on what’s making the most impact in our respective subject matters. – Randy Shelton

Don’t put your identity in your work. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword (paraphrase of Ted Dekker). On a personal note, I noticed you can replace ‘Sword’ with…well…anything. Also notice if you live by God, you die by God, but since He’s the source of salvation it is the only way that death turns into an illusion.

Chad Allen showed me something called the living systems theory, which in my opinion is one of the reasons that change can be so hard sometimes. Living Systems Theory = when you change 1 or 2 parts of a system, the whole system changes.

“If you spend your whole life teaching a fish how to climb a tree, the fish will spend away its whole life thinking it’s stupid” – Kevin Kaiser

 So, should you go, if you’re a writer?

I’d say yes, if only to get your head in the right place. In the future, I’d like to see more case studies and tactical stuff, but it is what it is. If the above quotes helped your mind in any concrete way, look into it the next time the event comes around.

Note: thanks goes to JayNeanDD from flickr for the photoGreat news!

The rough draft of my next book is complete!

“That thing’s operational.” to quote Lando Calrissian.

Originally written because the Fonzie won’t just hand me the rights to MacGuyver, this book is larger than anything I’ve written. Emotionally Bulletproof – Book 3 was around 50,000 words, including back matter. This thing is over 65,000 words and is designed as two plotlines that steadily converge into a superhero origin story. I plan for subsequent books in the series to focus mainly on one character as he gets into – and out of – dangerous situations in order to help others.

NaNoWriMo was a great success. I wrote 62,000 words, roughly, between November 3 and month’s end. Then it took until Dec. 5 to tickle out the conclusion. 33 days to a novel while working two jobs? It can be done.

Over, under, around, or through – whatever it takes, I’ll do! Except spiders and frontal nudity – at least not at the same time.

So what’s next?

Fresh eyes are good, just ask any book editor or Eskimo.  For 2-3 weeks I’ll break from the manuscript to focus on marketing, experimenting with new ideas, plotting the arc for the whole series, and reading research material that should help in that process.

From there, it’s major surgery, plastic surgery, wardrobe, makeup, etc – then off to the beta readers, editors, and proofreaders.

Why do I bring this up? Because I’d love for you to be a beta reader!

If you’d like to get a first look at my novel, in exchange for some notes about what you liked and didn’t, sign up on the right to join my mailing list.

What? You think I’d ignore the people who sign up for that? No, no compadre. They are the honored guests at my house. Bread and water for all of them!

It will be first come first served when I send the invite, so come on over.

 

 

Nano Rhino by mpclemens at flickr.com

My rough drafts have slightly better spelling.

What the heck is NaNoWriMo?

I saw that wierd word on a bumper sticker glued to the back of a laptop in a coffee shop a few months back.

It feels embarrassing that as a writer I didn’t know what it was until then.

What is it then?

It’s an acronym that writers added extra letters to, so it became easy to say.

National Novel Writing Month

Apparently lots of authors I have trouble starting a project without a deadline. So worldwide, many authors decide one or two things are going to take place in the month of November:

1. They will complete an entire rough draft of a novel they’ve been thinking about writing but haven’t started. AND/OR…

2. Write 50,000 words towards that project before the month ends.

It’s like No-Shave November, but people have to actually do something.

What’s Been Going on at Author David’s Bulletproof Lab:

This is my first NaNoWriMo, and I’m not doing it because it’s November, I’m doing it to get into the habit of knocking out first drafts in a short time, no matter what.

And the Results?

I have a series idea, and plotted it out so that I could start writing by November. That meant september was a month of research and plot outlining.

With a goal of a finished 60,000 word rough draft by months end I set to work.

Stats:

Week 3 results: 42,639 words written.
Chapters Completed: 23/36

Since one of my weeks was 18,600 words, I am sure I could hit 60,000 if I had to. The truth is, it’s looking like this book might be a bit longer than 60,000 words though. I still have 36% more book to write. Based on an average chapter length of about 1800 words, it looks like I’ll need to write 24,100 words or so to hit my completed rough draft goal. Seeing as I’m developing a habit of working on marketing as well as writing, along with two jobs, it may not be realistic to push for 24,000+ words in a week.

But if I’m anything, it’s unreasonable.

Implications

Since this upcoming book is a series, I may still have to write new characters, plots, and scenes. However, the fact that the character has a history, motivation, and supporting characters, along with a few repeating environments, the pre-book planning process might be a little shorter (4-5 weeks rather than 6-8).

I like to take a break between first draft and revision, so this gives me two weeks to spend a bit more time on marketing and develop some plots for future releases.

The hard part for me is revising. It can be fun when once I start, but I tend to dread it until work really begins. The revising process, and everything leading up to releasing a book, also comes with having to work with other people’s deadlines (editors, beta readers, proofreaders, book cover designers, etc). While I’ve gone through the gauntlet a few times, I’m still looking for an editor that will work within my budget without reducing quality. Someone I can go to over and over. As book sales increase, I’ll probably sink more into having great editors than anything else. To sum up, I can crank out some relatively fast rough drafts in spite of nearly anything, it’s the stuff afterward that needs the most improvement in order to write lots of books and get them out in a decent amount of time. While I still dream of 4 books a year, that dream may not become a reality until the middle or end of next year, with one book – from concept to completion – in a 3 month period being the metric that really shows I’ve got it down.

Pool of Echoes - Book CoverPool of Echoes is out!

Here’s it’s about:

Jordan Mitchfield is heir to a media empire worth billions. He also sees and hears things that aren’t there.

Then someone close puts him in an insane asylum against his will.

When it looks like there is no way out but to take his own life, he is stopped. Is it a vision? Is what he’s seeing actually real? Is it even part of this dimension?

Whatever it is, it opens his cell door and throws him into a dangerous time-travel adventure through his memories.

As he goes deeper into the Pool of Echoes, he is forced to confront everything he has ever known, reconstruct his own mental health, and play a role in something much larger than himself.

If you or anyone you know has ever questioned their own self worth, get on board this life-changing fiction thrill-ride. You will never be the same.

I’ll make an entry on the BOOKS page so it will be easy to find later.

This was my first of ‘hopefully’ many thrillers. I’ve noticed that my favorite stories have a bit of action and conflict in them, and it’s an underserved area for those who like Christian fiction.

 

The Reason for Pool of Echoes

The basic message of the story is: where does your self worth come from?

If it comes from your possessions, your family, your socio-economic background, your friends – these are all things that can change. Even worse, whatever you make as the center of your self worth ends up being a chain, preventing you from a healthy relationship with whatever idol you’ve chosen – even if it’s just an idea.

There is one exception – and that is to put your self worth someplace where it cannot be taken away.

Wanna know where it is? Wanna know? Well I’ll tell you, but I also wanna make a living and share this great story with you, so come on down to the Amazon, where my book file yearns to visit you.

Click here to check out the book and/or download a preview.

Enjoy.

-David

 

Note: If you’re finding out this way rather than through the mailing list, my list server is temporarily down. The matter should be resolved in a day or two.

Recent Developments

October 12, 2014 — Leave a comment

Hello friends,

You may have noticed a lack of posts. Don’t worry, I’m not dead.

If anything, I’m writing – a lot!

Here are some recent developments I’m psyched to share with you.

Pool of Echoes

Pool of Echoes is about to be released. It is now in the process of formatting, proofreading, and some basic marketing preparation.

It is a story that does some things I haven’t seen anywhere else, yet still has familiar elements that fans of science fiction and psychological thrillers are certain to enjoy.

Marketing

In another post, I talked about getting a marketing degree. Unlike many authors who have a phobia of promoting themselves, I intend to be the opposite.

Writing is what I’m really committed to, and when you commit to something, it makes sense to ensure that your activities are as valuable as possible – to yourself and others. To suggest otherwise is to cheapen your time, life, and mission.

Though to be honest, I’m just barely starting to get a handle on what I’m doing.

I may in the future write some posts about the different things I’m doing to promote the books. If you’re interested in spreading the word about what you do, you may find it useful. If not, you’re welcome to skip it.

To synthesize everything I’ve learned into a few short sentences, it’s this: Write what really excites you, then position your work where it is easy to find, and make sure you have a way to remain in contact with people who like what you do. Repeat – the more often you can do this without sacrificing quality, the better.

Working

Austin is a challenging place to live, especially if you’ve started in the city unemployed and without any network in place. I’ve managed to change both of those things, thanks to my faith and the Three Legs of Trust.

As a commitment to my writing career, I’ve decided that not a single month will go by where my expenses exceed my income. Sometimes that means 60+ hours a week between multiple jobs. So be it. Doing this may seem like a tough thing to do, but I’ve managed to pull it off for the last 5 months without too much problems. It also has helped me to earn enough money to release more than one book a year. Great news, as that means I’ll be able to put out enough books to – within a few months/years – drop back to 40 hours/week or less. Like a normal person.

From there, it isn’t unreasonable to expect 2-8 completed works a year, depending on how many worthy ideas I find, and how improved the writing process gets. About 75% or so will be novels while the remaining 25% will likely be screenplays.

Marketing 2.0

Ultimately, the activities that are going to work best will have two big features:

1. It will be effective in earning income and creating more freedom to live well and continue writing indefinitely. (this usually will mean book sales, publishing advances, or screenplay options)

2. It will be enjoyable for both myself and others.

Here are some thoughts on different methods:

Blogging

Ask any how-to book on how to succeed in writing, and you will get the following advice: Start a blog, write 3-5X a week, and guest post to build your audience. Then, after 6 months or so, you’ll have a platform of people who will be interested when you have something to offer.

I’ve noticed that for this to work, it’s best to have something valuable and useful to say, 3-5x a week, and even more for guest posting elsewhere.

For a lot of people, this has worked really well. For me? I just don’t have something incredibly useful to say 3-5X a week, every week.

Plus, this takes time to do, time that could just as easily be spent writing more books – something I know you really want if you’re on this site. Why would I delay giving you what you want in order to do something I’m not naturally good at, when I don’t have much time to spare as it is?

I am interested in blogging on specific things, like a production diaries and a reporting of interesting things I find during the research process. Perhaps as sales improve, freeing up more time, I’ll be able to do more of this.

Audio and Video

Big secret here.

When I write, I’m basically writing down a movie that I’m seeing in my head. At least on good days.

Audio takes very little budget, but works best when you have guests to interview and interface with.

Video, on the other hand, can be done solo or with guests. You can do interviews, short narratives, how-to’s, screen-captures, and other forms of content. While it takes more resources to do well, I believe my mind works in a way best-suited for this type of content. Doing this will likely be just as rewarding as the writing process.

PR, Radio, and TV Interviews

I’m open to them, though I think a publicist would be tremendously helpful if I’m seeking to do this consistently and well.

Blog Tours

Heard they’re not that effective, but willing to try them out.

Series

There’s Emotionally Bulletproof, and another one in the works! I’m really excited about what you’ll get to read in the near future.

Audiobooks

The groundwork is being laid for producing audiobooks of all my works. I don’t have a publicized deadline, but it is super important to me. Audio is one of the best ways for me to read, and I know that a lot of people feel the same way for many different reasons.

Advertising

To see if it works, I’ll do it. It seems to be working for a lot of writers. If it works, I’ll keep doing it. If it doesn’t, I’ll try again later with a different release.

Guest Articles

I want to have more recent posts, even if I don’t post very often, before really leaning into this. The big reason for using this form of promotion is mainly to make friends in the new media and add value to them as much as possible.

Book Signings

They aren’t a great way to leverage your time unless you have a large platform already. If you’re last name is Rowling, or Patterson, or King, or Dekker, then do it. If not, your sales will likely be in the single digits unless you promote hard for 4+ hours on end. This is based on multiple personal experiences. There may be exceptions if you cross-promote with other authors, or create an event with unique appeal. Otherwise, it isn’t a sustainable way to make a living and write, especially if your energy diminishes from being really social – the definition of introversion. With your tank on empty from promoting all day, where is the energy to write more? Add a multi-city tour, and you’ve just added time off work and travel expenses as dual costs that have to be surpassed in order for the event to succeed.

Book Publishing Events and Conferences

Completely new to this, but looking forward to seeing how other authors use these in order to improve their connections and contribute as panelists on specific topics. There is one coming up near the end of the month in my home city.

Compiled Short Stories With a Variety of Genre Authors

Sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t know how to get something like that started, but I think that with the right group of people it could be really great. While I’m not really accustomed to short-form storytelling, I’d push through that knowledge gap in order to participate in the right compilation.

Short Story Submission

Despite searching through Writers’ Market, and some thorough online research, I don’t know a lot of authors doing what I do (best described as Christian-inspired fiction with elements of action, thriller, and sci-fi mixed in), and with the few magazines I have found, it doesn’t look like there’s enough readership and/or financial incentive to justify the work that goes into that type of work so far. Given, if I’m inspired to write a short story, and I later find that such a platform is the best vehicle for it, I’ll gladly put it there to attract readership to my other books and to help the magazine broaden its reader base. Until then, not really feeling it.

If you know of any good Christian Fiction, or Magazines open to the type of work I do, let me know. It would be an honor to contribute to something people love.

That’s all folks!

My next post will likely be about Pool of Echoes being released, so look forward to that. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to sending more great work your way.

By K.reitmeier (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWhat if your soul was separate from your body?

This is going to fly in the face of the denomination I grew up in at church. That’s okay.

I’m not talking about the immortal soul, or anything like that.

What if your body was a vessel that simply housed your soul, and you could see your soul as equally valuable to everybody else’s? The richest man on earth is worth just as much as you, the only difference is that his vessel – and your ‘vessel’ – are in different places.

If somebody says ‘You’re a great writer.’ Cool, but my vessel is the one that takes pride in being a writer. It’s really my soul trying to speak messages, and it’s guiding my body to write.

Need to run more but don’t feel like it? What if your soul had no emotions about it at all, and simply told your body to go? It’s just guiding your vessel to get the physical form it needs to be healthy.

The more I think about this, the easier it is to switch between the Horse (Vessel) and Rider (Soul) in my mind.

Right now, my soul knows that this idea is worth spreading. It can help you become consciously aware of your life situation, so you can separate your emotions from who you really are.

Every bad (or good) thing anybody has ever said? Doesn’t touch your soul. Your soul is greater and more amazing than any compliment could ever describe.

Rejection in dating, business, or the job market? Doesn’t touch your soul. Your soul knows you need success in many different ways, and it’s job is to consciously guide you in the direction you need to go.

Yesterday a tire blew out on my car. At three in the morning. On a dark country road. Despite the rough situation, and the fact that I didn’t have all the necessary tools, my soul was calm. It reminded my body that this situation will soon end, and it will guide me to make sure I change the situation step-by-step. In the end, things worked out very well, and I MacGuyvered the crank I needed to operate the car jack even though the part was missing.

The issue I’ve been having? When you have your soul guide your body to what it wants, you slip out of your soul-mode, and into your body. This subjects you to frustration, disappointment, and the usual manic-depressive roller coaster associated with impatience.

The big solution I’ve been finding is to ask God where He wants my body to go. This allows my soul to enter my body with the right programming.

This is very high-level consciousness. It may even be crap for people who can get by just fine without all the mental jiu-jitsu. However, for neurotic crazy folks like me, it may be helpful.

I’m noticing a lot of parallels in different philosophies that have elements of this higher consciousness. The teachings of Christ and his thoughts on being born again.

The stoic teachings of Seneca, where he says to explore what you fear in order to realize it’s not really all that scary.

The practices of meditation in Buddhism.

Even folks with Multiple Personality Disorder employ a twisted version of this thought process.

It’s all about being aware that we can act outside of the urgent emotions that try to hold us down and make us into slaves.

By ARD (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons  Two weeks back, I was watching Worst-Case Scenario with Bear Grylls. Bear’s last show was basically “I’m gonna eat one disgusting bug”, from every rough patch of the earth.

This time, he turned his focus to more commonplace dangers, and one was: Surviving a dog attack.

Little did I know that 5 days later, I would face this same situation.

I was running a new route that connects to the interstate through a broken-down suburban neighborhood. I had ran the same path once already, and didn’t think anything of it.

Halfway to the interstate, two dogs burst from a trash-ridden driveway, snarling and barking.

One was a Pitbull, and he was the nicer one.

First rule: Don’t run.

I slowed down to a walk, and edged further from the driveway. Perhaps the dogs were territorial, and they wouldn’t follow me.

Wrong. They kept a-coming.

Next: Stay Calm.

Everybody knows animals can smell fear. I don’t know the biological reason for that, but simply knowing made things easier. When you have no other choice, becoming calm is easier than you think.

Bear’s further rules: Look for a collar, put obstacles between yourself and the dogs, and try to find a high place to climb up out of their reach.

The collar one is simple: dogs who are used to receiving commands may listen to you. I told them “Heel, Stop, Go.” they responded with such rebuttals as “Woof. Arf. and Grrrrr.” Not good. They wouldn’t know what ‘heel’ means. I don’t even know what ‘heel’ means.

As for obstacles and high places: I’m not a fast runner, and there wasn’t anything to climb on for a quarter mile. The dogs would bite me before I got there. While I saw sharp pieces of wood, glass bottles, and all manner of post-apocalypse weaponry on my way there, suddenly none of it could be found. These rules weren’t going to help.

One dog lunged at me as I continued to move away. I realized that as this dog was going to bite me if I kept doing what I was doing.

Last rule: Shove something down it’s throat so it can’t bite you, and use your arms to appear larger while protecting your neck and groin.I got big. I got mean. And I started yelling at them. Nothing I said back then will be repeated on this blog, but I gave them threats as if I really was going to die and I had to say something terrifying and memorable.

They circled, stunned but not backing down.Finally I made to rush at them whenever they started advancing on me. As soon as I did that, they’d jump back.

This back and forth continued for about 20 seconds before an SUV drove by, horn blaring. That caused the dogs to back off, and me to get away.

The surprising thing about the whole experience

When I got away, I felt really good. I don’t get a rush from many things, but evading a dog attack is now one of those things. Just don’t catch me running back there for a good buzz. Not gonna happen.

What I learned about all survival situations:

Some survival rules won’t apply to your emergency scenario. Most of Bear’s rules didn’t for me. Despite that, I was calm enough to keep the dogs guessing, and that was what needed to happen.

Not every step is going to go according to plan. Sometimes this can hurt you, but if you took the time to prepare, and stay calm, you can handle it better than if you hadn’t prepared at all.

Anyone can Serve

April 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

Confession: For the longest time, I thought I disliked serving people.

The reality was that I love serving people, but hate being imposed upon.

I recently had the pleasure of doing outreach with my church in an assisted living home. After some songs, Bible verses, and a short message, we chatted with the people who lived there. One of them, an obese diabetic in a wheelchair, mentioned that she did Mass in a room down the hall every 2nd Sunday, and said it would be great if we could come.

Years of guilt-tripping has taught me to recognize an imposition so I can escape it before I am asked. So that’s what I did. I was one of the first to leave, and drove out of there a bit faster than I should have.

Imagine her surprise next week when she saw me there!

So I helped with communion, handing out the wine and the bread. Most of the attendees could hardly move, and needed help just getting around.

And the woman who led mass? She has no legs.

I don’t mean she can’t use her legs – below the middle of her thighs are thick, round stumps – then nothing but air.

So this woman cannot move around. She’s stuck in an assisted living home. She’s old and at least 300 lbs – not winning any beauty contests there. Plus, she has no legs.

Despite that, she had one of the most cheerful spirits out of anyone I had ever met.

Possibly it’s because she knows that no matter where she is in life, she can always do something that makes a difference.

If she can, so can you.