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NaNoWriMo 2013: Another Month, Another Book

2013-Winner-Facebook-ProfileAnother NaNoWriMo has finished. I still feel crazy to have gone through with it, but the greater feeling of accomplishment pays off in the end. The resulting book has the working title of Foster, though I’m still brainstorming other options. A mother-daughter drama, the book covers broad themes such as identity, family, and the need to be loved.

This story begins in Spokane, Washington, a mid-size city on the border of Idaho. A 15-year-old girl named Angela comes home to find out she and her mother are about to be evicted from their apartment. Then her mother is arrested for drunk driving, and CPS picks up the girl to take her to foster care. Everything in Angela’s life depends on whether or not her mother, Cynthia, can take care of herself and her daughter. Angela tries to be independent and responsible for her own life, feeling forced to grow up early. But despite her façades, she still waits for her mother to grow up too and be the adult for the sake of their family. If Cynthia doesn’t, Angela may spend the last three years before legal adulthood in foster care, bounced from family to family, house to house, until she can live on her own outside of the state’s guardianship.

“The eviction notice wasn’t a surprise. I was used to moving. I couldn’t remember spending longer than six months in one location. Such a childhood makes it hard to ever feel settled. You have to stay on your toes. One tip: keep everything precious to you in a backpack. Then keep that backpack in your sight at all times. All times. You never know when you might need a quick escape or when you’ll come home to find the locks changed.”

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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Books

 

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One Week to the End

Once again, I must apologize for infrequent, irregular updating. I preferred to use my time spent writing to write for Nanowrimo than my personal blog. If I’m going to form words into sentences, it might as well be for the 50,000-word behemoth, right?

Yet, even neglecting blog posting has not guaranteed Nanowrimo success. I have 23,945 words written so far, leaving 26,055 to finish by next Friday at 11:59 p.m. That means over three weeks were not sufficient for me to make it halfway. Now I have one week to make up the rest and reach my goal.

My biggest hurdle is to find topics to write about. It feels as if I’ve already used most of my thoughts and opinions that I wanted to say. Now I’m drawing blanks. Why is it when you focus on writing originally that, instead, all your writing comes out bland and boring? Wish me luck, and you will hear from me in a week whether I managed to think up 26,055 more words in time.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Christian Reading: The Greatest Hits

Your next summer read may be in this post. As promised, I have some book recommendations to inspire you. This top 10 list comes from the pastor of my sister and brother-in-law. In no particular order, Pastor Jason recommends these summer reads:

  1. Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels
  2. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
  3. If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg
  4. Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus
  5. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  6. Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick
  7. Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
  8. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
  9. Letters from a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd
  10. Knowing God by J. I. Packer

I have read three of the above books (5, 7 and 8) and can say they place on the list for good reason. It’s a safe bet that the others have equal “top 10” merit. After all, if the entire list is the same quality as Searching for God Knows What, anyone who has been reading this blog knows it would be a life-changing summer if someone read the whole list.

Do you think there are books missing from this list? What other books should a Christian read over the summer? I mean besides the obvious one too great to even compare with others. Seriously, comment with your favorite Christian reads.

And while you’re commenting anyway, maybe you can answer a question that came up with a couple friends this weekend. They were wondering who the contemporary, big-name Christian authors are. Those authors whose books become fodder for church small groups and they get invited to speak at every Christian conference in the nation? Who are those authors who everyone seems to talk about? Let’s start a list.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Books

 

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Searching for God Knows What Part 3: A Filled Cup, A New Name

Okay, I promise I haven’t abandoned this blog. It’s been almost a week since my last post, and that will probably be usual for the next few months. College life, you know.

For now, I will continue my review of Searching for God Knows What. These will not be as detailed or dense with quotes as the first couple not only because I have less time and feel lazy, but because I want to avoid copyright infringement. I greatly respect Don Miller and his work, and therefore do not want him suing me. I will instead continue pulling interesting ideas he presents and then commenting on them. If you are interested in following along with my reading, I encourage you to buy the book. It’s worth the full read.

Miller’s books live apart from other memoirs or theology books because he uses a humorous yet realistic tone. He brings up ideas in situations readers can relate with that, once read, you wonder why you hadn’t noticed the same things before. As you read, it feels as if you are discovering these new ideas along with him. Miller doesn’t put up any pretensions as he leads you through his story. He steps off the pages as a fellow human, someone with faults and without everything figured out. Refreshing.

Last time, I left off by saying how Miller’s childhood “god” deflated like his belief in Santa. Chapter three picks up with why Miller believed in God again. He found a person rather than the system of ideas he used to call “god.” The person he found, God himself and not a made-up image of him, turned out to be bigger and more powerful than he had ever thought of before. He said if you know God as he truly is, then you should fear him because of his overwhelming greatness.

If you read the Bible, you will see a fearsome deity who seeks justice and with the ability to destroy whole nations out of his righteous anger. God is not a pet. He is a wild lion with your head inside his jaws. His omnipotence should be enough to terrify, but God also wields all knowledge and exists in every place in every moment. Thank God his description doesn’t end there (not that he can be fully described, anyway). We can be relieved that he is perfect love. People seem to focus on this trait most and hold it above all else. And yes, it’s important, because it’s the only reason this world still turns. It’s the only reason we have any hope for the future.

But I want to discuss more in-depth another point Miller comes across. Reading the Bible, he saw God’s true greatness alongside our desperate need. The Bible began explaining humanity and our current condition better than any personality theory he had studied in psychology. Specifically, he noticed for the first time his searching need for something or someone to give him an identity. Every teenager experiences this. We call it “finding oneself.”

“I could see it in the people on television, I could see it in the people in the movies, I could see it in my friends and family, too,” Miller wrote. “It seemed that every human being had this need for something outside himself to tell him who he was, and that whatever it was that did this was gone, and this, to me, served as a kind of personality theory.”

In high school, Miller tried earning his identity from others by being the “smart” guy and memorizing poetry to attract the attention of girls. As you can guess, none of it satisfied. Earthly love, the broken love we gather from people around us, just leaks out of our cups and makes us look for constant filling up.

“Imagine, a Being with a mind as great as God’s, with feet like trees and a voice like rushing wind, telling you that you are His cherished creation,” Miller wrote.

That kind of love, when fully accepted, is enough to fill the cups of the world and never run out. Christians are called to be wholly engulfed in this waterfall. We are invited, not to subscribe to a list of ideas, but to identity and love in Christ.

A couple friends recently shared their struggle with losing themselves within Christ. They are concerned about giving up their identities, how they know themselves, to grow closer to God. I understand how they could feel afraid of this strange call. We Christians can accept many sacrifices: our comfort, our desires, even our lives. But who we are? That seems a bit much. How is it even possible?

We all can relate to searching for an identity. We constantly live in a state of personal redefinition. We change and grow. We find different names for ourselves: boyfriend, mother, leader, Doctor, Sergeant, President. Our lives and decisions form us. God extends us an invitation to a new, final identity. He wants to form us into who we were meant to be, before the Fall, and in relationship with him. We are comfortable with what is familiar. We don’t want to give up the moth-eaten, scratchy coats around us even as the stitching comes apart. God offers us silken royal robes.

Which will you wear?

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Books

 

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