What am I writing? – After incorporating the changes Mary DeMuth suggested for my opening, I’m proofreading then entering Contingency in a contest. The prize is a look at the first chapter by an agent. After this, I’m taking the rest of July off. (We’ll see how well I stick to that 😉 ) The next project looks like Claire and Mike Jamison’s story. Claire was Nick’s attorney from the 5th book, and she was a scene stealer. Her ex-husband Mike, left her for another guy and she turned all her hurt and bitterness on him in divorce court. As this story opens, their oldest daughter is getting married and she wants her father to give her away. How will Claire deal with this and with facing Mike again? It has the makings of a great one. I hope I can capture it all. Interestingly, the book that has stayed with me the longest is the story of Doug and Cass’ struggle with his Alzheimer’s. That’s the one that constantly runs through my head even now.
What have I learned? – No geeky stuff this week. I was too busy catching up. However, if you Twitter, I will recommend the new and improved Mr. Tweet. Refollow helps organize your followers with a slick interface.
What have I read? – One of the glorious things about vacation was that I got to read a book a day! I finished The Great Influenza. In the 1918 pandemic an estimated 50 million (!) people died. Adjusted for today’s population, that would mean 1.75 million deaths in the United States. Now consider the Tribulation when 25% of the people succumb through disease or famine or war. That’s 95 million people, just in the U.S. It causes the mind to reel.
Next, I read Karen Rabbit’s Trading Fathers. It’s memoir about learning to trust God after her father molested her. She describes the freedom and healing that come in forgiveness and in turning things over to her Abba Father to deal with. A tough topic but she treated it with frankness balanced with sensitivity.
The Mom Factor by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend is a look at how our mothers impacted us. I enjoy reading these kinds of books, not just for myself, but they are invaluable when I build characters. I grabbed tremendous insights for Nick and his mother when I get to rewriting Stolen Blessings.
Sin, Pride and Self-Acceptance by Terry D. Cooper was not what I expected. It is a summary overview of all the theological viewpoints of what man’s greatest sin struggle is. Is it pride or is our inability to approach God rooted in our inability to accept ourselves? I’m old school, so I agreed more with the ‘pride’ people, but it was good to read a balanced, thoughtful treatment of all sides. I felt like I was in seminary that day. I need a good brain workout like that.
In the Grip of Grace is an old Max Lucado book that I bought for a dollar. It’s a conceptual overview of the first eight chapters of Romans. There’s very little sermonizing, and much more explanation and application. It would be a great introduction for new Christians or for someone mentoring new believers.
Finally, I read Soul Repair by Jeff Van Vonderen and Dale and Juanita Ryan. This book was really the heart of what I wanted to accomplish on my trip. They introduce four types of damage done to our spiritual selves, whether it be spiritual abuse of authority, addiction to the ‘stuff’ of faith, trying to single-handedly bring changes in the lives of those around us or spiritual anorexia where, for whatever reason, we have difficulty receiving from God. They also invite us to examine the distorted images of God we may have developed. They offer several steps toward rebuilding genuine intimacy with the God of the Bible. I highly recommend it.
What have I learned? – In Soul Repair, there was a look at the parable of the prodigal son. I recently taught that on Wednesday and in Sunday school. If God brings something in front of you that many times, He’s trying to say something. The story is so rich in meaning and there are so many lessons we can take from it. This time, I realized I have a lot in common with both sons. I could feel how awkward it would be to be the guest of honor at the banquet the father threw. Everyone, all the friends and family knew what the boy had done. Did they welcome him as the father did? Were there uncomfortable moments between the boy and the other guests? The father didn’t care, though. He lavished his love on the boy. That’s what the young man (and I) needed to focus on. But then I’ve also accused God of not providing things I never asked for, just as the older boy did. I’ve harbored bitterness over a host of perceived slights that existed only in my mind. I need to hear the father’s words to the older son. “All I have is yours.”