Already. Not Yet.

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My pastor is fond of the phrase ‘already, not yet.’
We’re new creations in Christ already, but bits of the old man’s skin  cling to us. Sometimes entire swatches haven’t yet shed. Oh wretched people we are. Just when we think we have this Christian life figured out we get slapped upside the head with God’s requirements and see how short we fall. Not perfect yet.

Christ already came, bringing His Kingdom. But not every citizen of the Kingdom has been gathered in. Not yet.

Heaven is already ours. But we’re not there yet. We’re still in the messy, contentious, polluted, violent world that, unlike the one to come, is filled with war and death and tears. Lots and lots of tears.

Speaking of not yet: ever notice how warty the body of Christ is? Sure, the church is already the bride, already hands and feet etc. But does it look lovely and pure and fully functional?
Not yet.

Since the ‘already’ doesn’t look nearly as good as the ‘not yet,’ hope can by mighty hard to come by.
Another day hearing about hatred and its Pandora’s Box of evil deeds, another season seeing the earth we’re supposed to steward laid waste,
another Sunday wondering why we didn’t get to choose who would be our siblings in Christ because this bunch ain’t cutting it.
Another nightfall of self-examination and muttering over the ugliness in our hearts that refuses to heed the eviction notice.

Seems like hope for the ‘not yet’ is too much to hope for.

I live in the land of four seasons. Six months of winter coming, staying, and leaving, almost-three months of mosquito-spawning humidity, and the four remaining months divided haphazardly between autumn and spring.

March is an odd month in Four Seasons Land. Technically spring begins toward its end. March displays flashes of fine-weather promise interspersed with dour skies and spiteful snowfalls. After beguiling us with a glimpse of bare earth and its awakening aroma, songs of birds returned to the hearty climate, the feel of balm on one’s skin instead of ice, March retreats to do what it does best. It disappoints.

We get discouraged. We think we cannot hang on one. More. Day. Spring has to come or we will go absolutely, spectacularly mad. Underneath the gnawing need for spring to appear right this minute though, is the realization that it is closer than it was last month, last December, yesterday.

With no definitive glimpse into the mind of God, I still speculate if March is one way He chooses to help us comprehend the not-yet-edness of our existence. The landfill a few miles from my house grows by the day. Birds still see fit to nest along the top. My siblings in the body of Christ squabble one minute, rally round each other in deeds and prayer the next. We are family you know. Against all earthly odds Christ has sustained and nourished this body for two thousand years.

I went to bed last night more aware than ever of the hopelessness of my sin nature.
I woke up this morning more aware of, more humbled by, and more exhilarated because of grace. The Kingdom is nearer at hand now than it was yesterday.

It may not be spring yet, but the robins are already singing outside my window.

Prude Approved Reads: Time Tsunami

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Ah. Do-overs. Let’s all take a minute and think of something that, if we could go back in time, we would do over.
-Red Sox 1st baseman Bill Buckner wouldn’t have let a ground ball dribble between his legs to lose the 1986 World Series
-The Sox wouldn’t have sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees (bringing on the curse that would lead to Mr. Buckner’s tragic error in the previous lines)
-Europe and the U.S. wouldn’t have meddled in the petty arguments that led to WWI
-Parents wouldn’t have invested their children’s college funds in Beanie Babies

You’ve thought of something by now, right? So did Danele Rotharmel in ‘Time Tsunami.’ But instead of time travel to avoid a bad blind date, Gil Montgomery’s assignment is to stop the events that would lead to the creation of a serial killer. Instead of a wardrobe to Narnia or a DeLorean to 1955, Gil travels through a television portal to 24 years in the past. She accomplishes her task with such ease, you just know the other shoe is going to drop. Right on Gil’s head. It does, and things start to get really exciting from there.

Ms. Rotharmel creates a complex world with a charming heroine, honorable heroes and a really, really nasty villain. She writes with humor and warmth. There is a love story but the romance doesn’t fully develop till the end, and by ‘fully develop’ I mean we have semi-passionate kisses. No procreation scenes are described or even hinted at. Bless you Danele.

There is blood, though! While not intensely graphic, the author doesn’t spare us from seeing how evil deeds play out. It is a sobering reminder that one act can unleash the hordes of wickedness, but love and selflessness can cover (and prevent) a multitude of sins.

‘Time Tsunami’ by Danele Rotharmel is a meaty, intense and intricately-plotted story with memorable characters and twists nobody (I guarantee) will see coming.

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I had to ask Danele how she created the world of time travel. PhD. in physics, maybe? She graciously shared the fascinating process.

“Basically, “Time Tsunami” is the product of years of daydreaming. I have a clear picture of the TEMCO lab in my mind, and I had fun creating the rules and procedures that govern time travel. I tried to make TEMCO as realistic as possible–that meant giving
the program a history and also a future. I enjoyed showing my reader that
new inventions were being made and new policies were being implemented. The
TEMCO of today isn’t the TEMCO that existed five years ago, and it won’t be
the TEMCO that’s going to exist forty-five years into the future. One of the
things that always fascinated me about JR Tolkien was the fact that he KNEW
his world so well. He had backstories for everything. That’s what I tried to
do when I created my world. I know how the games were designed, the funny
story behind the archives, and why certain rules and regulations were
created. I basically LIVED within my world while I was in quarantine, and it
became my own.

As far as the nuts and bolts–I don’t have a background in physics, but I do
have a big imagination. I managed to get around some of the tricky
time-travel details by having Gil neglect to read the manuals. Her ignorance
covered some of my own. When I was writing my book, Crystal was my biggest
challenge. She was so intelligent that I had to make her words seem
believable–and that meant research. Wikipedia became my best friend. I’d
research little bits and pieces–enough to make the mechanics of time travel
seem plausible. I had such a blast polishing up the details.

One of the fun things about my books is that I wrote all six of them while I
was in quarantine. Because I wrote all six before getting any of them
published, I was able to connect them with little details. For instance, in
book 3, a time portal is opened leading back to events in book 2. Since none
of my books had been published, I was able to go back into book 2 and write
about a mysterious flash of light–a flash that suddenly takes on big
significance when you read book 3. During quarantine, I was constantly
writing and rewriting parts of my books to make the Time Counselor
Chronicles flow effortlessly from one book to the other. I hope that the fun
little details I’ve added will make my books enjoyable to read and reread.

I had so much fun living in my created world. I’m so glad that the world of
TEMCO became real to you as well!

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Please come back tomorrow to learn more about Danele. Her real-life story reads almost like a nail-biter suspense book.

Prude Approved Reads: Dandelions on the Road

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‘Dandelions in the Road’ tells the story of fourteen—yes, 14—people and their search for true love via a local TV station’s version of ‘The Bachelorette.’
After enjoying success with a program called ‘Accept This Dandelion’ (also Ms. William’s first book in the series) centered on a bachelor and a dozen potential female significant others, the producer decides to try his hand at a spin-off with a spin. For ’Dandelions on the Road’ he chooses Eva, one of the runners-up from the first show, to sort through a bevy of eligible and hopeful men. The twist? They’ll shoot various competitions at various locations in America’s heartland.

Eva is beautiful and loves animals and is a great friend and ideal employee but for some reason has not connected with true love. Now she gets to choose from twelve handsome men. She should be able find a heart-mate among the bachelors on ‘Dandelions on the Road,’ Right? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Besides, you’re just itching to know who the 14th love seeker is, aren’t you?

PRUDE APPROVAL: Brooke Williams does an excellent job of keeping the love scenes wholesome with just a sprinkling of spice.

PRUDE PEEVE: While not a raging feminist, I wonder why we found it necessary to adopt the French term meaning ‘little bachelor’ for unattached women. While the French have shared many worthwhile words ending in the suffix ‘ette’ such as
‘barrette’ (little bar to keep one’s hair tidy)
‘dinette’ (a dining set newlyweds with little money can afford)
‘cigarette’ (because a little cigar is infinitely preferable to a ‘megacigar’) and
‘videocassette’ (meaning ‘good luck finding something to play that in’);
but ‘bachelorette’ has no place in the enlightened New World.
PRUDE APPROVAL: Instead of choosing glamorous locations like Vegas, Hollywood, or New York City (all of which, when I was growing up, were referred to as ‘Sin City’) the author has her producer bring his cast and crew to hiking trails and adventure parks and ranches in Nebraska and Iowa and Texas. What these states lack in flamboyance they make up for in solid common values and sense.

PRUDE APPROVAL: The author has imbued each of the bachelors with distinct personalities. There are some flaws—not every male is a perfect male—and Eva is all the more likable because she is willing to overlook little idiosyncrasies to discover the worth of each man.

GET TO KNOW BROOKE:
I asked Brooke for a short autobiography and then gave her some questions to answer. (Those of you looking for potential mates feel free to use any of these questions. Knowing the answers could save you a lot of grief down the road.)
Brooke Williams is a former radio producer turned freelance writer/author. When she’s not writing, she’s playing with her two little girls, Kaelyn and Sadie, ages 6 and 2. Brooke has been married to her husband Sean since 2002. Today, she specializes in romantic comedies and some of her titles include: Someone Always Loved You, Wrong Place Right Time, Accept this Dandelion, Dandelions on the Road, Mamarazzi, and Backwards Christmas.

Links:
http://www.authorbrookewilliams.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrookeWilliams/

Why do you write?
To me, writing is like breathing. You know how the doctor tells you to exercise in order to stay healthy? That’s how I feel about writing. On the days when I don’t get a chance to write, I don’t feel as good! It’s become a necessity in my life. So I write because I love it and because I can’t NOT write! I never start a novel unless the idea and/or characters are bugging me so badly I HAVE to write it to get rid of them!

What book made the biggest impact in your life?
Yes. Haha. I honestly can’t pinpoint one single book. I absolutely love to read and as soon as I finish one book, I’m on to the next one. I enjoy fiction of all different kinds and like books that surprise you in one way or another.

If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?
In grade school I wanted to change it to She-Ra. Luckily I matured and settled on Christine later in life. But my parents named me Brooke for whatever reason so I’ll just stick with that!
You’ve been writing all day. You don’t want to cook. You do want to get out of the house. Do you get pizza, burgers or Chinese?
Burgers. But I never get to write all day. I have a 2 and 6 year old that are constantly on the go!

What is your favorite sport?
Gymnastics
What is your favorite song?
World’s Apart by Jars of Clay

What three items would you take if you knew you were going to be stranded on a tropical island for a year? (FYI: It has fresh water and plenty for you to eat and a flush toilet)
My phone. 🙂 It has endless books on it for entertainment. Chapstick. I can’t live without it for an hour, much less a year. My girls. They’d love the sand and water!
If you could learn any new skill, what would it be?
I’d love to be good at a musical instrument. I used to play the marimba and other mallet instruments, but they are expensive and since I don’t have one I can’t do it anymore.
You are offered a huge contract to write a ‘How To’ book on your area of expertise. What would it be about?
How to play with two little girls. 🙂

You can choose any author you want, living or dead (well, they wouldn’t be dead when you met them), to be your writing coach. Who will it be?
Richard Paul Evans
What chore do you absolutely hate doing?
Cleaning in general. So I write instead… 🙂
What is your favorite form of exercise?
Walking, but I run on my elliptical machine most days

Do you personally find yawning contagious?
Oh heavens yes. I just yawned from the word, believe it or not!
Where do you write?
At my computer in the desk in the kitchen.
Music or silence while you write?
I prefer silence but my youngest has music playing in her room when she naps so I hear that through the monitor.

Skittles or M&M’s or…carrot sticks while you write?
M&M’s—are you kidding me?! Obvious choice there! 🙂

Could you toss me that roll of ellipsis tape?

Writers have a host of tools at their disposal*
In their box of power and hand tools, writers may use any or all of the following:
– The Synonym Screwdriver, with interchangeable tips, also called bits.
– The Sneer Quote “Hammer”
-The Adjustable Active Voice Wrench by which passive voice sections are removed
-The Comma Unsplicer is a great tool, it helps even the most novice of writers look as though she passed her grammar classes.
-I would also recommend that the Unnecessary Words Extractor should be found in any writers’ toolbox as it is very useful for tightening up sentences that drone on and on.
-This particular writer refuses to get rid of her Nuts and Bolts of Miscellaneous Adverbs no matter how vociferously anyone pronounces them obsolete.
Oh, and my up and coming favorite—I highly recommend this one—the Em dash Staple Gun. Holds sentences together.
But today we will examine one of my favorite tools of all time.
A roll of Ellipsis Tape. To cover something that for some reason we don’t want to write out.
An ellipsis is easy to use. Look:   …
3 dots. On the computer it is even easier than by hand.
Just depress the period key 3 times.
If you want to make more than one ellipsis, you can, but you have to refer to them as ‘ellipSES’ and you run the danger of over-kill taping.
But…or did I mention this already…ONE NEEDN’T BE A WRITER TO OWN AND OPERATE ELLLIPSIS TAPE!
Ellipsis Tape can also cover something we want to imply without really saying it.  ‘OK, honey, if you think that shirt you bought in 1984 still fits you…”

Ellipsis Tape can extend a grievance indefinitely. “Even Wilma Flintstone and Aunt Bea have garbage disposals. Why I still don’t have one, I have to wonder…”

Ellipsis Tape patches together the disparate thoughts that zing simultaneously through our heads as we struggle to communicate. “Drive carefully, watch out for deer and drunk drivers, and…you’re wearing THAT to go out tonight?”

Ellipsis Tape is a temporary fix for faulty memory. “I could have sworn I had enough gas to get us there…”

Ellipsis Tape can make one look more intelligent than one really is. We can appear to mull over a significant notion when really we just totally lost track of what we were about to say. “I was just reflecting the other day that…ah…hmmm…yes…deep reflection. Deep…deep…”

As a chatterer and a long-winded writer, I use my Ellipsis Tape all the time because I never know how to close out a conversation or a scene.
A period puts a direct and speedy end to a thought, idea, comment, or statement.
But the ellipsis lets me put that thought, idea, comment or statement on limitless hold until I return with something else to stick onto it.

If anyone wants to borrow my Ellipsis Tape, let me know…

*DISCLAIMER: IF A CERTAIN TOOL FALLS TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX, CERTAIN WRITERS MAY BE TOO LAZY TO FISH IT OUT. HENCE, BAD WRITING

I See Your Lek and Raise You a Qindarka

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How do you like those fracti?

 

You immediately knew what is wrong with the title of this post, don’t you?

Since a qindarka, as anyone in outer Albania knows, is equal to 100 lek, this would be a pretty lopsided game of poker.

And you no doubt had a pretty good yock at my expense.

But does it hurt my feelings that you laughed boisterously at me? Nah. I’ll just boff heartily along with you.

Your ordinary man-about-town may not recognize the above bold-faced words, but a devoted Scrabble player who is eidetic (possessed of vivid recall) will have at least a nodding acquaintance with some.

That which is pyic is often xanthic, which means pus-ish stuff tends to be yellow.

If you see a chacma in a cwm on the side of a jebel you are, in the non-Scrabble world of language, looking at a baboon in a hollow on the side of a mountain.

You want to write a scathing commentary on the state of humankind via analogy using the chacma stuck, through no fault of its own, in the cwm which is stuck, through no fault of its own (but rather the fault of a cold and heartless glacier) in the mountain.

But with one thing (preparing to celebrate the yahrzeit—anniversary of the death of an ancestor celebrated by Jews) and another (you are part of a busy and creative krewe, a private group participating in Mardi Gras) your magnum opus has shrunk to the size of a opuscule (a minor work).

Fracti are ragged clouds and gjetost is hard brown cheese and a fyke is a bag-shaped fishnet and all are acceptable in Scrabble.

pfft and psst and sh and hm? Legit.

Alif, bubu, and a thousand others have no meaning but are still recognized. No doubt some ambitious Scrabble player with connections in the Scrabble Word Approval Department begged for them.

The Prude plans to cozy up to someone with clout at the Scrabble Dictionary and get ca approved. It’s the sound made by the chacma trapped in the cwm.

The stumble after the fall

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Decades of experience have proven that a blessing can, conversely, work as a curse.

Take the old Irish benediction ‘May the road rise up to meet you.’
Think about it. One is walking, in a carefree, guileless manner along a road/path/sidewalk/carpeted hallway, and it rears up to meet one in the form of a bump/stone/protuberance/wrinkle.
What happens then? Anything from a face plant to a gyrating series of stumbles, bobs, weaves and windmilling arms. It’s never pretty. If you ever see me do any of the above—please be kind and pretend you didn’t. Don’t offer me a hand up or ask if I am all right.

Because pride hurts worse than the fall.

What is worse than the physical pain of bruised shins, bloodied knees or chipped teeth?
Metaphorical falls.
They occur, with irritating regularity, on the twisting, booby-trapped, buckling road of daily life. We are tripped up by bumps of:
-forgetting stuff
-mispronouncing stuff
-acting out of ignorance
-making faulty judgements based on incomplete facts
-speaking loudly and publicly and foolishly using those faulty judgments
-social blunders
-at a baby shower, during a game,  announcing ‘Myrtle’ as a name to  never name a baby, forgetting the hostess’s name is Myrtle.*

Unless you are a hermit, perfect, or have the gift of flight, you can no doubt remember one or two figurative stumbles of your own.
When we fall—spraining hubris, skinning egos, and banging up pride, we hope no one noticed.

Just in case though, we take ridiculous measures to maintain some semblance of dignity. Instead of rising to our feet, smiling ruefully and taking note of what precipitated the fall so we don’t repeat it, we might:
-make excuses for our forgetfulness so we don’t appear at fault
-stubbornly cover slips of tongue or mangling of words so we don’t appear less than clever
-huffily defend ignorant behavior so we don’t have to appear humble
-bluster through wrong assumptions so we don’t appear ignorant
-blather on with foolish pronouncements so we don’t appear…foolish
-grumble past our social blunders as if society where at fault instead of ourselves
-refuse to apologize profusely for an unintentional personal insult because we might appear vulnerable—i.e.—mortal

A fall is embarrassing and it can hurt. But it happens, and it isn’t irremediable.
Unless.
Unless we pretend we meant to fall.
Unless we sacrifice others to save face.
Unless we blame the road instead of our own inattention.
Unless we never look at what caused the fall to avoid it in the future.

The stumble after the fall is worse than the accident itself.
It compounds the topple, hurts the onlookers, and ensures we’ll continue, in spite of bobbing and weaving and windmilling, to fall flat on our faces.

Let’s stop deluding ourselves. Clumsy, prideful, defensive methods to make certain no one noticed serve to only prolong the stumble.
Let’s turn that curse back to a blessing.
When the road rises to meet us, grin, and thank it for pointing out that the clumsiest of humans can rise after the fall, a better person.

*An all-too humbling real-life experience that occurred in the distant past of the Tuesday Prude.

Can Bombs Burst in my Hair?

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Bonny

Here is my pup.

Awwww, you say, she is so cute!
What doesn’t show up on photos is the yellow streak running down her back, her lily liver, or her chicken attitude.

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The little girl is a coward.

Now firecracker season is upon us and I’ll spend the next several days trying to convince the pup that the Fireworks are Not Out to Get Her.

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The pup won’t believe a word.

We’ll head out to fireworks tomorrow night. Without her. We’ve learned from the experience of the last several years.

We would weigh our options:
1) Take her along into the thick of the battle, where at least we can hold her and try to comfort her?
Or
2) Leave her home alone, where she can hear the bangs and booms, but in a more muted form?
When she is home and hears the pop of a gun, a backfiring car or–heaven forbid–continuous fireworks set off by patriotic neighbors, she panics and tries to insert herself into the smallest hole in the deepest corner of the house.

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If she could, she would stuff her paws in her ears.

We worried that someday we would return from fireworks to discover the dog with only her nose sticking out of a toilet paper tube.

So we would take her along.
This is what ensued:

Family: “Oh look, Doggie! Fireworks in the sky! Far away! Aren’t they pretty?
Family Dog: “Not again! We just went through this 7 dog years ago!”

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Family: “You’re OK! See? We’re cuddling you tight!”
Family Dog: “If you really loved me you would throw yourself of top of those bombs.”

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F: “It’s almost over! You can make it!”
FD: “Possibly…if that gopher over there will share his hole with me…”

F: “All done! Let’s go home!”
FD: “Could you check and make sure I still have all my extremities? Oh, and by the way. You’ll be hearing from my SPCA representative.”

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We’re leaving her home this year, and working on a new business venture. Soundproof pet cages.