Geralyn Wichers

"Life is a great adventure, or nothing"

“I feel like if I had total dominion over myself, I would never look at pornography again. One day at a time I would kick it out of my life” -Russell Brand.

Yesterday I posted about how sexuality in media, romance novels, and soft-core pornography has affected my life. This was actually sparked by the following video in which comedian Russell Brand talks about the ‘mainstreaming’ of soft-core pornography (such as Fifty Shades of Grey), and how it affects people. He is candid about his own pornography use, and how it influenced him. Thought provoking stuff.

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I’ve remained silent, at least in the blogosphere, about 50 Shades of Grey because everyone seemed to be blogging about it and I didn’t want to add my rant to the cacophony. Frankly, whoever wants to see it probably has, and whoever was desperately against it has said their piece. 50 Shades likely benefited tremendously by the controversy.

I haven’t seen the movie. I haven’t read the book, aside from reading a synopsis, but this isn’t from lack of interest. Believe you me, there is a base level of me that wants to read the book and see the movie. I’d like to explain why I haven’t.

First Exposure to ‘Romance’

I was eleven or twelve when I had my first exposure to steamy literature. My Grandma had a romance novel (a conventional one, not ‘erotica’) in her bathroom. I picked it up, and in a few page flips, came upon a sex scene. I still remember it really well. The hero and heroine had a bath together, undressing and caressing in minute detail.

It was my first real peek at sex, and I guess I was curious. Soon I had another chance to read a romance, and I paged through it until I found that scene. I don’t really understand the biological reasons for why this had such an impression on me. All I know is that as a teenager, these books drew me like a magnet. Not to read the story, but to read the racy bits. I knew it was wrong—I’d been raised to believe that human sexuality was sacred—but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. It was only after confessing this in tears to a group of girls from church, much later in life, that I experienced a real breakthrough and no longer felt the dreaded pull. The library became a safe place again.

This may sound prudish to some of you, and by today’s cultural standards perhaps it is. As a Christian, my belief is that sex is an expression of love between (and only between) husband and wife, designed to be a means of bonding them together, and for procreation. I believe that if I follow this design, it will ultimately give me the happiest life. This belief doesn’t just define how I conduct myself with a boyfriend, but also how I dress, what music I listen to, what books I read, and what movies I watch.

Why Shouldn’t I Watch What I Like?

What is the harm of watching a movie with a racy sex scene? Maybe nothing—at first. But what about the compounding effect? Face it, we are bombarded with sexual material at various points in the spectrum. I don’t view hardcore pornography, and never have, but softcore porn is almost impossible to avoid. Sexuality is the selling point of media. If I view a movie trailer, there will be a hint of a sex scene (cutting away as the woman removes her top), or if I listen to the pop music station, there will be some line about ‘loving all night’. The magazine at the checkout has a girl in a bikini and says “best sex moves” on it. The rom-com has the couple waking up together, the morning after they consummate their relationship.

Brainwashing of the Sexy Kind

Like it or not, this has altered my perception of sexuality. I’ve realized there’s what I think I believe, and what I actually do/think. Here are some of the ideas that have taken residence in my head.

  1. Romance is primarily expressed sexually, and physical intimacy is a precursor to emotional/relational intimacy. The sex is the exciting part, and the conversation, shared experience, shared hardship, commitment, and work is ‘boring.’ I write fiction, and before the story ever hits the page, there is an incubation period where the story evolves in my mind. It seems I always have this conversation with myself, in which I decide what kind of romantic relationship the hero and heroine will have. Will it be a healthy, wholesome one? Or will it be an exciting one? Does there really need to be that dichotomy? No. That’s a lie I picked up somewhere. And it wasn’t from Bible study, I’ll tell you that much.
  2. People are primarily sexual objects/animals—or at least young, attractive ones are. Not that I go around fantasizing about every handsome guy I meet. What I mean is that I’m in the hunting mindset far too often. When I joined a very large church with a healthy population of young men, it was very difficult to not walk through the teeming hall going ‘there’s one, and there’s one, and there’s one.’ Whereas, if they don’t fit my type of ‘good looking’, they were dismissed. This is normal, I guess. But I wouldn’t want this done to me. Likewise, I am ferociously hard on my physical appearance. Do I want to be known as a person of good character, high intelligence, ambition and kindness? Absolutely! But face it, what do I spend more time on? My appearance. It’s a point of despair sometimes, because I will never, ever fit the cultural mould of beauty. I do alright, but my genetics just aren’t there.
  3. I’m a prude and sexually repressed. I’ve done it already in this article—apologized for being sexually conservative. Why should I be ashamed of my celibacy? Why should I apologize because I have a moral standard that I hold myself to? Don’t I have just as much of a right to NOT partake of sex as others have to be sexually free?

So Why Not 50 Shades?

So let’s loop this back around to 50 Shades of Grey. Why didn’t I watch it?

First of all, there are actually redemptive points to the story. Ana, a nobody, is noticed, desired and romanced (I guess) by a powerful, rich man. Many of us want to believe that though we are ordinary, we are worthy of love, we are noticeable, we are special.

The story is also a backhanded expose of childhood abuse and the lengths a person will go to to expunge their pain. In an article on XXXchurch.com, Craig Gross says, “The best available research suggest that 75% or more of those who commit acts of sexual or physical abuse against others were themselves abused as children. Christian Grey was abused as a child, a horrendous act that he never got over or dealt with or talked with anyone about. This has led him to some serious walls that have gone up in his life. and the only way he knows how to deal with it is to abuse someone else. He has done this to over 15 women and will continue. I heard this story was about sex, but this story at its core is about a broken man and his inability to love and be loved.”

That’s actually a very compelling story. It’s not the story, then, it’s the delivery. In the end, I have to keep that sexual imagery out of my head. My author’s imagination couldn’t handle it. I would never, ever get it out of my head. It would sit there, further selling me on ideas that don’t line up with my moral foundation. It would change how I view myself, and how I view others.

What do I want out of life? I want to have a loving relationship with my God. I want to view all people as inherently valuable as bearers of God’s image. I want to treat all with love and respect, and be treated with love and respect. I want to have a loving, trusting relationship with a future spouse, complete with a healthy sex life. Watching Ana and Christian get it on in the red room will only get in the way of that life.

What we take into our minds matters. In the end, do what you like. But don’t imagine that everything is neutral. Know who you want to be, and what you believe. Because whatever you’ve done, looked at, heard, and read in the past all added up to the person you are today. What you are doing now will produce the you of the future.

I’ll run my first half marathon in June. It’s the Manitoba Marathon, a run my Grandpa did many times (both full and half). I have patchy memories of going to see him cross the finish line, so in my head I can already picture what that looks like.

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For me, the idea struck when a relative announced that she was going to run/walk the Manitoba half. In fact, she was already training. My ire was piqued. What? She was going to run a half marathon before I was? She wasn’t even a runner! Cue googling ‘Half marathon training plans for beginners’, ogling the course map, and visualizing running into that stadium, where I’d seen my Grandpa cross the finish line many years ago. I felt a cascade of excitement.

I could do that–I could!

Allow me to confess that over the winter I’ve slacked off. I’ve run twice a week most weeks, since late November, in increasingly shorter lengths and slower times. My confidence was down, due to some really bad runs. I was ready to push my limits again, to chase again. I wanted to find out who I’d need to become in order to run the half.

So I downloaded a plan, and got started. And here’s what I know so far.

I Must Redeem All the Time I Can

I’ve pared my plan down to four workouts per week, since at the moment I just can’t do five. Still, that’s a heck of a lot more time than two runs per week. I came into training knowing:

  • 1. My writing must not slack off. I’m about to publish again.
  • 2. I can’t neglect my family and church community.
  • 3. I can’t neglect my spiritual life. God must be in even my running.

So how do I do that? Well, I’m not sure yet. Last week involved training myself not to hit snooze, since that gives me 18 minutes more for morning prayers and scripture. This will become a habit… eventually. I have to plan meals (and cook meals) well in advance. I have to make a to-do list and squeak those chores into five and ten minutes chunks of time. I have to write blog posts in the waiting room at the doctor’s office (like this one!).

Efficiency will become my middle name.

Likewise, I need to maximize my rest and relaxation time. Resting is growing, waiting is training.

I Must Endure the Pain

“I’ve signed up for four months of chronic pain,” I whined to my Mom.

And I don’t know the half of it yet, I’ll wager. The last three weeks have been one long pain fest as my winter-softened muscles adapt to extra miles and a new strength training routine. I curse my third-floor, no elevator apartment. My family and coworkers are tired of hearing me complain about my sore muscles. After all, I did it to myself.

But it’s a good kind of sore.

And Why?

Because I want to know what it feels like to be that strong–physically and mentally. Yeah, I’m stressed and my legs, back, shoulders, and arms hurt. But the optimism and drive of having a huge goal is addictive.

Who will I become?

sons of earth final ebookToday wasn’t a good day for Khalia’s new assistant to arrive, but… there he was, the boy-wonder.

The travel mug slipped from Khalia’s hand just as her swipe card passed the swipe-station and the door clicked.

Khalia kicked it through the door ahead of her and let the warm interior air wash over her before she stooped to pick it up. She was cold, damn cold, and wet, thanks to the damn bus that had been damn late for the third damn time, and then had the gall to splash water all over her as it pulled away.

And she felt sick. Her stomach was compressed into a hard ball in her center, empty because in her frantic effort to get out of the house, she’d forgotten. Her mind was on the medication stashed in her desk, where she’d forgotten it the day before. She’d barely slept, her chest was so tight with the panic of not having the pills in the house.

She shoved her way through the turnstiles, barely looking at the security desk, where two guards were laughing and talking, with guns hanging off their shoulders, and past the buzzing HR offices. The three ladies chatting by the front desk looked up with big eyes, and immediately bent their heads together.

Yeah, gossip about me, you dirt-bags.

Khalia barged through the lab door without even looking up. Her feet pointed toward her desk.

“Good of you to join us, Khalia.” Adam’s deadpan voice made her halt.

“The bus…” Khalia mumbled, then cut herself off as she glanced toward him.

Everyone stood in a semi-circle around Adam, lab-coats buttoned, hands clasped behind their backs. Barjinder met her gaze and his brown eyes softened. Adam peered at her over his clipboard. His hand was still poised, as if he’d been making some almighty point.

Khalia pushed past and dropped her bag on her desk with a solid clunk. She fumbled in the drawer for the pills.

“As I was saying,” Adam turned and squared his narrow shoulders. The fluorescent light reflected through his thinning hair. “This is…” his voice faded out as Khalia’s fingers closed around two small, green pills. She dropped them on her tongue and gulped them down with a wash of cold coffee. She set the cup down, squeezed her eyes shut and sighed. Her hand fumbled to stick the bottle into her purse, but it just scrabbled across the papers on her desk. Khalia opened her eyes yanked the bag toward herself and glanced around. Mina and Jennifer walked, heads together, toward their desks at the far side of the lab. Jennifer laughed, high and shrill. Adam’s drone continued. His gesturing hands poked and waved from behind a white, lab coated back. A dark head nodded.

“Oh…” Khalia froze in place with the bottle poised above the purse. It was Monday, and that was Vermeer, her new assistant-read-replacement. And she had just walked past him and dove for her medication.

Not fair, not today of all days.

She took a covert glance at his back. His erect figure towered over Adam—square shoulders, slender, sable hair in a short, fashionable style. He’d turned his head slightly to the side as if skeptical. He had just a bit of neat facial hair. Was it to make him look older?

Dominic Vermeer was young, twenty-six or seven, but the man had an impressive resume and she was determined to like him,

as unlikely as that seemed. Maybe he’d become an ally of sorts. She needed one. But now she just hoped the oxy kicked in before Vermeer put his fine ass in the seat next to her.

Khalia squared her shoulders and got up. She screwed the top off her coffee cup with hands that trembled and exited out the back toward the cafeteria. She’d be composed by the time she got back.

When she returned with a full coffee cup and a muffin, Vermeer already sat at the desk next to hers, speaking numbers quietly into the laptop. Images and input boxes flicked across the screen at tremendous speed, but as she slipped through the door he looked up. He jerked back his chair and stood.

“Doctor Kassis.” He held her gaze with intent brown eyes that glittered from behind a dark fringe of lashes. She had to tip her head back to look him in the face as she walked forward to accept his extended hand.

She squared her shoulders and smiled. “Khalia, please.”

“I’ve read all of your published papers,” he said as she released his hand.

Khalia pressed her lips together for a moment so her mouth wouldn’t drop open. “Oh, uh, thank you. I perused your doctoral thesis as well. It was… interesting.”

So you’re a looker and a kiss-ass. Great. You’ll go far here, one way or another.

“This didn’t faze the management at Caspian, apparently,” Vermeer’s lip curled.

“Indeed.” The man had written about ‘post production death rates among manufactured persons’. Postulating that the number one cause of death among Empties was suicide hadn’t been a popular conclusion. She’d doubted his reasoning, but she couldn’t deny that he had moxie.

Khalia took a step back and glanced around the room. “Barjinder got you situated? I’m sorry I didn’t greet you properly earlier. I had some unforeseen circumstances this morning.”

“No trouble,” he said.

“I will give you a tour of the production floor this morning, but first I have some policies for you to read and sign. Have a seat, I’ll just go get them.”

“Of course.”

As she turned to her desk for the sheaf of policies, Khalia caught sight of Adam marching toward her desk. She sighed.

“Vermeer’s bracelet.” The slim metal bracelet, sealed in a plastic bag, dropped in front of her. Adam leaned in and said in a low voice, “You know, if you’re unhappy with my choice of assistant for me, just say it to my face, Khalia.”

What, was that what being late made him think? Khalia looked up into Adam’s fat face. He had a smudge of something purple in the corner of his mouth, probably grape jelly. Of course, she wouldn’t tell him. Let him figure out that he’d oriented the boy-wonder with breakfast on his face. “No, I’m not unhappy with your choice, Adam,” she said coolly, “And if you’re here to lecture me on being late, you tell me to my face.” Adam knew she’d worked late last night, finishing work he was supposed to do.

“No, I’m not…” Adam mumbled, glancing at his scuffed dockers, “Just give Vermeer the policies and the tour, okay?”

“I have the policies right here,” She tapped the folder, “I’ll give him the tour after break. Good enough?”

“Yeah.” Adam walked away.

Khalia blew out her breath and glanced over her shoulder at Vermeer, who had returned to his computer. No, she wasn’t unhappy with Adam’s choice, though she’d been miffed when he’d made it clear she had no real input in the matter. If Vermeer would just work hard and not be a pain in the neck, everything would be fine. If she could trust him, maybe even call him a friend, well… that might be too much to hope for.

Sons of Earth is a sci-fi novel, slated to be released this spring. I’m excited to share it with you! If you enjoyed this preview, you may enjoy my post-apocalyptic love story, We are the Living (may include zombies). 

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I offer this up as my gold star for you.

I am a hopeless idealist, an admittance I am both ashamed and proud of in turn. Life has a habit of knocking the stuffing out of me, and sanding off my shine. Yet I do my best to hold up my head and look for the best in myself and others, no matter how much the cynics scoff and complain.

So, to my fellow idealists, here is a quote I’d like to share to remind you that no matter what your scoffers say, you are a winner.

Oh gosh, doesn’t that sound cheesy? Be proud, idealists. Be proud.

Dr. Denis Waitley said:

“The term ‘Winning’ may sound phony to you. Too materialistic. Too full of A’s, or luck, or odds, or muscle-bound athletes.

True Winning, however, is no more than one’s own personal pursuit of individual excellence. You don’t have to get lucky to win at life, nor do you have to knock other people down or gain at the expense of others.

‘Winning’ is taking the talent or potential you were born with, and have since developed, and using it fully toward a goal or purpose that makes you happy.

Winning is becoming that dream of yourself that would fulfill you as a person with high self-esteem.

Winning is giving and getting in an atmosphere of love, cooperation, social concern, and responsibility.

Winning is coming in fourth, exhausted and encouraged–because last time you came in fifth.

Winning is giving yourself to others freely.

Winning is never whining.

Winning is treating animals like people and people like brothers and sisters.

Winning is turning all the cards up in solitaire–without cheating.

Winning is picking up a beer can you didn’t throw on the beach.

Winning is being glad you are you.

Winning is habit forming. (So is Losing.)

Winning is unconditional love.

Winning is a way of thinking–a way of living.

Winning is all in the attitude.

Talent is cheap. You can buy it, and recruit it. It’s everywhere. The world is full of talented alcoholics.

Education is not cheap, but it’s for sale and for hire if you have the time and money. You can get your BS, MBA or PhD. You can panel your den with diplomas. But the world is full of educated derelicts, unable to relate to supportive roles with others.

Not aptitude.. attitude is the criterion for success. But you can’t buy an attitude for a million dollars. Attitudes are not for sale.

Not all individuals are born equal. Some are cursed and some are blessed by their hereditary uniforms. Equality is not Nature’s way. The equal right to become unequal by choice is the natural cycle.

All environments do not breed and nurture the winning spirit. And yet, how often we are witness to living examples of greatness springing out of adversity…

Attitude is the answer.

Your attitude toward your potential is either the key to or the lock on the door of personal fulfillment.”

From The Psychology of Winning.

In the city, your job, your income, your house, your lifespan, are predestined by your class. Justine is determined to do good at her new job, but how can she do good when her job is to create slaves for the city?

sons of earth final ebookBrrring. Brrring.

Casey’s arm pinned Justine momentarily as he reached across her and shut the alarm off. “Enough already,” he muttered in her ear.

“It’s too cold.” Justine burrowed into his side and put her face in his neck. He smelled like soap, and he was deliciously warm and solid beside her. And outside it was dark, and freezing.

His lips tickled her ear, nibbled the lobe, and pushed against the delicate skin behind. Justine twisted in his arms, met his smiling green eyes just for a moment, and found his mouth with hers. For a moment his lips possessed hers, hungry and gentle all at once. She pressed up against him.

“No, no,” he muttered against her lips. He dropped his arms and rolled out of bed. “Ah, dear God it’s cold.” He hopped from one foot to the other as he leapt into his pants. “Ah, dear Jesus, must I?” He jerked on the lamp’s cord as he snatched up his shirt from the chair.

“No.” Justine drew the covers over her head to get away from the light. She smiled in spite of herself. He was too cute in the morning, dark curls all rumpled, skin covered with goose-pimples as he rushed to get into his clothes, complaining good naturedly all the while.

The blanket jerked off her face, and Casey grinned down at her.

“It’s my happy place too,” he tweaked her nose, “But duty calls.” The bed wobbled as he got up and padded in sock feet out of the bedroom. In a moment she heard the clank of the kettle against the metal sink and the gush of the faucet. The building’s old pipes groaned.

Casey hummed tunelessly in the other room. The radiator clanked and rattled, and air started blowing.

“Ohhh…” Justine rolled out of bed and sat for a moment, her feet poised over the bare floorboards. In the kitchen she heard the distinct creak of the toaster as Casey depressed the springs. Breakfast would be ready in a minute.

She mustered up her willpower, put her feet down, and then rushed around the room at top speed, throwing on her jeans and her sweatshirt, grabbing Casey’s wool sweater from the chair where he’d forgotten it. By the time she reached the kitchen, she was almost warm.

Casey was just pouring the water over tealeaves.

Casey would pick up their weekly rations tonight, on his way back from the work-truck, and they’d get coffee with breakfast again. She sat down at the table by her toast. Casey pushed his chair back and plunked down. He covered her hand with his own, bowed his head, and said “Lord, thank you for a new day. May we glorify you today. Grant us strength to do your will cheerfully. Grant Justine courage as she begins her new position. Thanks for your provision. Amen.”

As Justine bit into her wheat toast she realized it was generously buttered, and as Casey set his down to take a sip of tea, she saw his was dry.

“Case…” She took his uneaten toast and switched it for her other.

He switched them back. “I’ll get butter at the farm.”

“But I’ll get food at the plant.”

He held her gaze, unflinching.

“Okay.” She bit her toast again. She’d catch it next time.

“So, first day on the production floor?” Casey smiled weakly over his teacup.

“First day.” Casey knew how she’d hoped to fail the two-week training course, anything to avoid going onto the facility floor. She didn’t want to work with Manufactured Persons. She didn’t want to be any part of manufacturing human beings. She’d seen them walking past the window, patrolling the district, every one of them near twins of each other, the imprint of what someone had decided was perfect.

And someone like Casey, the beautiful man gazing at her across the table, worked himself to exhaustion just to provide for her because he wasn’t gifted enough to make it into the academies and into a professional position. Though, she would never have met him if he had, because she wasn’t good enough for that either. And now she was chosen to work at Caspian. There was no choice in the matter for her.

“You will do good there,” Casey said quietly.

Justine chewed her toast and looked down.

“And you’ll finally be able to tell me if an Empty has a belly button.”

Justine’s gaze flew up toward his.

Casey winked. He grinned at her, then stuffed the last of his toast in his mouth. “My bus will be here soon. I’m going down.” He sighed and shrugged. “Three more weeks. I better enjoy it.”

She raised her face, he dropped a kiss on her eyelids, and ran a finger down her jaw. Then he grabbed his bag from the hook by the door, slung on his coat, and stomped into his boots. Justine’s stared at the last bit of toast in her hand as he clomped down the stairs toward the street. Yes, three more weeks until Casey was laid off for the winter, and her income became all they had.

She ate the toast. Her bus was only five minutes behind Casey’s.

The bus rumbled up to the gates of the district and jerked to a stop. The last few passengers crammed their way on. Lisa squished onto the seat beside Justine and squeezed her hand.

“Good morning,” Justine said softly.

“Good morning.” Lisa leaned in. “Church is at your place, not Ernest’s right?”

Justine smiled weakly. “Yeah.”

Lisa laughed under her breath. “Case is preaching?”

Justine smiled. “Yeah. He rehearsed on me last night—like he needs it.”

“You set to start?”

“I guess.”

“The supervisor told me that I’ll be training you.”

Relief washed over her. “Good. Oh, good.”

Two MP guards swung open the chain-link gates and the bus ground into gear again. It rolled off the rutted gravel road onto a paved street and picked up speed down the thoroughfare. They flew past tall brick apartment buildings; the worst of the professional district and far better than anything Justine had ever lived in. Big-box stores with massive, empty, parking lots—not yet opened, flanked the road.

Justine looked down at her lap. Yes, she was vaguely curious what was in those stores. She’d only heard stories. But compared to the small, government-run stores in her district, they looked awfully intimidating.

Lisa’s blond head bobbed against her shoulder, her eyes shut. A forty-five minute bus ride usually provided Justine with a half-hour nap. But not this time. This time her eyes stayed wide open as the bus bumped over the bridge into the industrial district. The white steam clouds melded into the grey sky. Snow wafted down against the bus windows as it stopped at the train tracks. A tanker train inched by, and when it finally passed, Justine saw the square silver sides of Caspian genetics. Beyond it, trees. They’d reached the edge of the city. They’d go no further.

Sons of Earth, a SciFi novel, is to be released this spring, and I’m pumped to share it with you! If you liked this snippet, check out my full length work We are the Living, an apocalyptic romance, which you can buy on Amazon.

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I was born to Christian parents. I went to the same church for the first twenty-three years of my life. It’s natural that I’d follow in their footsteps. I believed from a young age. As a young teen, I began reading the Bible for myself, and spending time in prayer. Bolstered by my parent’s faith, I began my own relationship with God. I saw rapid change in my life, as I learned to listen to and obey God.

I was confident in the validity of my faith. As part of my home-school studies, I loved to study ‘proofs’ of God’s existence, especially materials that spoke out against the theory of Evolution. Truthfully, I thought that everyone from the scientists to the ‘poor public school kids’ who believed in Evolution were deluded, maybe stupid.

At age twenty, I enrolled in a local conservative Bible college. In my second year, during a course called ‘Faith and Science,’ I read a book called The Lost World of Genesis One, which espoused the view that as 21st century, scientific minded people, we couldn’t read Genesis one literally, as the Hebrews would have. The creation story was actually a response to the Babylonian creation myth, and didn’t truly mean a literal seven days of creation.

It was frightfully logical. I dove into study, and realized that whether I believed in the young earth creationism of my youth, or that the earth evolved under God’s direction, I could find equally convincing evidence for my ideas.

Was The Lost World correct? And if so, what else couldn’t be read literally?

My protective bubble shattered. I was shattered, and very angry. I began to view knowledge with cynicism, and discount whatever people said about the Bible or God. After all, however convincing, there was probably an equally good argument against it. They might be lying. I wanted to talk about my doubts, but when I did I’d only become angry and cry.

One day a professor suggested that God sometimes causes evil to accomplish his purposes. Causes evil? Didn’t that make him evil? I lay in bed that night, broken and in tears. What would I do? Could I believe in anything anymore?

It’s occurred to me that this is the part where I’m supposed to say, “And so I became an atheist.” Many stories do end like that: “I had questions, and no one could give me convincing evidence, so I ceased to believe.” I sympathize, but that’s not how it ended for me.

Lying in my tears and snot, I asked myself, “Do I believe that God is good?”

“Yes. I do believe that God is good.”

I fell asleep.

My questions weren’t resolved. In fact, on the question of Creation, I simply had to suspend judgment. I had no more energy to expend on it. Is God good? This has been resolved through time.

I’ve seen his faithfulness in the midst of a horrible job and the depression that resulted. I saw his provision when I lost that job and went without a job for over two months. I managed to find enough money to pay all my bills–actually, partially because of an injury while doing casual work. I see how he’s orchestrated my life, brought good from bad events, and led me to a fulfilling purpose to drive me from day to day.

But mostly, I experience his love, forgiveness, friendship and fatherly guidance on a daily basis.

Can I argue from philosophy? Certainly. I still love to study how to defend my faith. I can tell you the logical reasons why I need a god in my life, how without God neither I nor you have inherent value, how without God we must base our lives on the ‘firm foundation of unyielding despair’ (Bertrand Russell).

Does that cement my faith? No.

It is the simultaneously tenuous and bulletproof foundation of God’s love in my life that I build upon. My story cannot be proved, nor disproved. It is only mine. But I hope it will encourage you to probe your own ideas, and seek a firm foundation.

This blog has been discontinued due to amoeba brain.

Hello Friends, yes it’s been that kind of winter. :) For the few weeks (forever, it seems) I’ve been in survival mode, my brain descending into ever deepening layers of slush, reduced to basic functions such as watching TV and scrounging for salty, fatty snacks.

Even running has lost it’s appeal. I continue due to doctor’s orders. ‘You must not let up on the running. It will be the best therapy’ he said. What if I’m reduced to ugly crying because my easy 5K has become an insurmountable task?

It’s time for a pattern interrupt, a jolt of positivity. So, here are five things I’m thankful for.

Work and Fantastic Coworkers

The doctor asked, “Have you been missing work?”

“No, I find it easiest to concentrate there.”

Strange but true. It’s easiest to leave my raincloud behind when I go to work, partially because I have one focused task at a time, and part because of great coworkers who are so crazy they make me feel sane laugh and joke and make me happy. There are crazy conversations about stuffing people into barrels and feeding them spray cheese with one coworker. Another coworker lovingly, and in a motherly sort of way, pinches and slaps me when she passes me in the hall. I told my sister about how at the end of a long shift, I wrapped my arm around this coworker, and she wrapped her arm around me, and we walked off the manufacturing floor together.

“That would never happen at my work,” she said.

A Neverending Supply of Folk Music

Thanks to Spotify, of course.

This song, with it’s sublime string introduction, is one of my favourites right now. I’ve sung, whistled and hummed it almost every day for, I don’t know, weeks? It also serves as a romantic theme in the series I’m currently writing.

Damien Rice: I Don’t Want to Change You

 Winter Running

IMG_0839Despite recent bad, bad runs, I’ve enjoyed running outside this winter. I was a big chicken, and ran on the treadmill for November and December. But soon I got very bored and started staring out at the snow and sunshine, saying, “It’s not THAT cold, is it?”

Cue trips to Walmart to find makeshift winter running gear. The proper stuff is far to expensive, even if it is really pretty… (sigh).

In my grape Kool-aid purple jacket and three layers of pants, out I go to slog where no runner has ever slogged before. I’ll stop when I can’t feel my legs anymore.

Sermon Podcasts and Other Audios

Because sometimes I need help to shut up the voices in my head. An outside voice speaking truth and inspiration can pattern interrupt long enough to reboot my brain and stop the negative thoughts for a while. The church I attend records and podcasts their sermons, so during the week I can listen to them again. LIFE leadership audios are also excellent.

And… Summer!

You know, it always comes back. It always does.

dontstandthere

If you’re like me and never finished–or never started–your degree, and now feel like you missed the bus, I’d like to encourage you with this quote by business leader and author, Chris Brady:

“Those who deliberate, dilly-dally, hesitate, ponder, get bogged down in analysis, or have to be sure everything is perfect before taking action might do a very good job at what they do; they just don’t get much of it accomplished… It is almost always the go-getters who become the biggest leaders. To lead implies action, and leaders are people of action. There are usually people who have more talent, more time, more connections, more means, and more information than the leader, but the leader emerges to influence events because he or she takes action while others hesitate,” –Chris Brady, Leadership Lessons from the Age of Fighting Sail. 

I spent four months working with a gentleman with a masters degree in physics. His wife has her masters in mathematics. They are immigrants, and in the courageous way of immigrants, they took the jobs they could find so that they could begin a new life. So he is now a pharmaceutical coating operator like me.

But I do feel woefully undereducated, with my two-year diploma in Biblical Studies, when I compare myself to him. I’d love to have a degree–heck, in almost anything. In fact, I’d be a student for life it just paid better. But circumstances don’t allow that right now. Sometimes I get an inferiority complex because I don’t have the education, it seems, to do anything other than manual labour.

But there is something I do have: initiative. According to Mr. Brady, that’s a big part of being a leader. Initiative: something that doesn’t require a student loan, four years of school, or a certificate from the government. It just takes courage and action.

In a caveat, Brady says, “This is not to imply that all leaders are reckless or reactive–though some may be–but rather that leaders err on the side of decisiveness. Over time, the tendency toward action builds ability, so deficiencies of talent or means are eventually overcome.”

Or deficiencies of age, as I continually remind myself.

So, if you’re undereducated like me, take heart because, “There are usually people who have more talent, more time, more connections, more means, and more information than the leader, but the leader emerges to influence events because he or she takes action while others hesitate.”

By the way, can I just say that if you can get your hands on a copy of Leadership Lessons from the Age of Fighting Sail, do it! Anything by Chris Brady is worth reading, and this latest release is a thrilling way to learn leadership principles. If you are a history buff, you’ll love it. Find it at his blog, here.

“Why are there so many people here?”

That was early January in the gym, as I pounded away on the treadmill and grew increasingly annoyed by the chatter around me.

Oh yeah, January–resolutions and such.

stretching-498256_1280I confess that as I watched two pretty, thin girls do five or six reps on each machine and then complain how hard it was, I killed myself laughing on the inside. I’m a little chunky, but I’m in a heck of a lot better shape than those barbie dolls. But after I stopped laughing, I felt guilty. Judgement is pretty rich coming from me. I spent the summer daring anyone who passed me to laugh as I panted and wheezed through Couch to 5K. Now I’m thinner and can run farther, but I still probably look like I’m going to die when I jump off the treadmill.

I hope to heck those girls don’t quit. I hope they can push past the pain and actually get in shape. Not to look better–like I said, they were both beautiful girls–but to become strong in body and mind, and to prove to themselves they can keep their promises to themselves.

I still can’t pinpoint what is the difference between a kept New Year’s resolution and one that dies in the womb. Why did I actually lose weight last year, when every other time I failed? Why am I motivated to run, when I always used to say ‘me no work out’? Because I can’t say ‘here is the cure’, I can’t judge the people who start, and then quit after a few weeks. It wasn’t a physical thing, because I don’t think I’m designed to run. Too short, too thick. I’m predisposed to be addicted to sugar, flour, any kind of crap food. I should still be fat.

I worked really hard–I do work hard–but maybe I’m also very, very blessed.

I mentioned that I had a whole list of New Year’s Resolutions. Well, when I made them I forgot that January is historically when I have a bout of seasonal depression. This year was no exception, with added anxiety and chest pain. I feel like I’m pulling out of it faster than last year, but in the meantime I’ve gone into survival mode. Hence almost no blogging, less running. Less of everything, except maybe sleep. Like I said to my sister today after an aborted 10K, you have to learn to listen to your body. I’m no good at that. But Sons of Earth, my next novel, is on schedule, and I have many months yet to get in fighting shape for my half-marathon (the big resolution of the year). I’m not ahead, but I’m still on track.

Each day is a new day. If your resolutions have all been broken, I encourage you to take stock of what’s important, and try again, and again, and again.

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