Sermon on On Gays, Love, and God

Coming soon

God may have inspired all of the books that exist in the Bible, but He didn’t write all of them. Even the gospels he wrote or helped write, such as Kings, Songs, Proverbs and parts of Psalms, Job, and Genesis, among others, are limited or constrained by their time periods and more importantly, by the terms of the covenants that appeared in those gospels. Also, whatever God wrote has been respoken, repeated, rewritten, retranslated,  and often completely altered by the shifting hands of well-meaning souls over the millennia.

God inspired the Bible, yes. He spoke to the prophets, some better and more clearly than to others. For example, Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah wrote what they were given, and faithfully transcribed vast amounts of material. Even these great prophets, however, missed some things. It’s hard to understand the meaning and intent of the Lord. Very hard.

            Moses was perhaps the greatest of the prophets, and he contributed greatly to the first several gospels. Even Moses had to use human ears to hear, and these human ears, well, they’re limited by a number of factors. Sometimes we just hear things wrong; sometimes we hear things through our own filters; often our own cultural prejudices inform how we interpret the words we are given; and sometimes we put our own beliefs into what we hear, and then when we go to write down the words we’re given, well, we add some of our own.

            I believe this was the case for Deuteronomy. And the message God has asked me to deliver to you is both simply and complex. First, the simple: Deuteronomy was limited by its time period; it does not completely capture the will or the Word of God accurately; and for guidelines on how to behave, you are not to look to Deuteronomy, but to the words spoken by the only begotten Son of God instead.

            Second, there’s clear biblical justification for disregarding the laws set forth in Deuteronomy. You see, the Old Testament gospels, especially the early ones, capture promises, also called covenants, made between God and His people. In exchange for agreeing to obey God’s laws, God promised His people Israel, which also means, “the promised land.”

            Over time, the sheer number of laws piled up. There were more than 600 laws and rules and regulations the Jews were following . . . and yet they were still leading unfulfilling lives, which is to say they were constantly breaking not just the little laws, but the big ones, as in the ones set forth in the Ten Commandments. Souls weren’t just breaking laws—they weren’t finding their way Home, and they weren’t loving or finding God.

            Jesus came to set humans free—free of the Old Covenants. He brought with him a new covenant, which, to put it simply amounted to this: Love God; love your neighbor; accept that Jesus died for our sins . . . and you’re on your way Home. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, a lot of his fellow Jews thought it did. They didn’t think Jesus was really a prophet, or the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Jews asked questions like, “Yes, but where’s the Ark of the Covenant?” Or, “Yes, but even with all your miracles, how can you prove you are the Messiah?” Or, “Yes, but wait, that sounds so different from anything we’ve ever heard—it just doesn’t . . . sound right?”

            The sad thing for so many people is that what Jesus was bringing was some incredibly good news. He was also bringing the people this amazing gift: the Holy Spirit, or the  third part of the trinity, which amounted to a piece of God that would forever exist within each child of God, or within each soul born of water and spirit forever after. But before I explain what the Holy Spirit means and how it relates to gay love, I wanted to quickly cover the nuts and bolts of the New Testament’s New Covenant.

            If you want to learn about the Old Covenants, the best place to start is in the New Testament; specifically, go to the Gospel of Hebrews, which was written by an Essene priest named Barnabus. A teacher and close family friend of Jesus, Barnabus was one of the greatest intellectuals of his era, and he not only walked and talked with Jesus for five years—he also walked and preached the good news to Jews and Gentiles for an additional fifteen years after Jesus died. For more on Barnabus, please see Elaine Phoenix’s The First Lost Gospel of Mark, or preferably read the Gospel of Hebrews as well as the (formerly lost) Epistle of Barnabus on your own. It’s always best to go directly to the primary sources.

            Barnabus explains the Old Covenants very well. He starts off by setting forth the superiority of Jesus to the prophets who contributed to the Old Testament:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
Hebrews 1:1-4.

Then Barnabus explains why Jesus had to be human: he had to suffer just as we suffer so that in overcoming suffering, he could show us how to set ourselves free of the fear of dying.[1] Jesus suffered at the hands of man; he was made fully human, and he defeated death.

            Jesus was also greater than Moses, and the words he spoke could be trusted as coming straight from God.

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrews 3:3-6.

In the days of Moses, God made agreements with His people, and both sides, or parties to the agreement made promises:

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:13-20.

Jesus was a high priest of sorts in addition to being a prophet and the Messiah, or the promised one, the soul promised by so many earlier prophets such as Moses and Isaiah, Elijah and Elisha, among others. And Jesus took an oath as a priest, an oath that guaranteed the truth or sanctity of any covenants he would later announce to the people:

Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
 and will not change his mind:
 ‘You are a priest forever.’”
Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

What does Barnabus mean when he says that Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant? That means that we can trust Jesus—we can believe that what He says is the Word or intention of God is true. What Jesus promises us is accurate and real, or to put it in financial terms, if we want to cash a check in, Jesus will make sure that so long as we upheld our end of the bargain and lived virtuously, loving God and loving one another, He would make sure that we would receive the salvation promised.

            Barnabus explains why we should listen to Jesus in Hebrews:

Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. Hebrews 8:1-2.

The earlier priests, from the time of Moses, had to offer up sacrifices up on altars to make good their part of the covenant, or agreement with God. The priests had to make sure their altars were built just so, and that they basically built copies of the sanctuaries that (they thought) were built in heaven.

            But Jesus didn’t need to use these altars or follow all these practices as set forth in the Old Testament. Why not?

But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. Hebrews 8:6.

Jesus was bringing a new covenant because the old covenants weren’t working, and were now obsolete.

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said:
“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
  when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
 when I took them by the hand
 to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
 and I turned away from them,
 declares the Lord.
 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
 after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
 and write them on their hearts.
 I will be their God,
 and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
 from the least of them to the greatest.
 For I will forgive their wickedness
 and will remember their sins no more.”

 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. Hebrews 8:7-13, quoting Jer. 31:31-34.[2]

There it is—right there in black and white. The old covenants from Deuteronomy and other books from the Old Testament are “obsolete and outdated.” For those of you who have been looking for a reason, a clear justification, biblically sound, absolutely logical and doctrinally accurate for why God has not outlawed gay love, here’s the passage you’ve been searching for. And then there’s this:

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. Hebrews 9:15-17.

As Barnabus explains, Jesus “made good” on his promises by shedding his blood on the cross. While this seems anachronistic, maybe even cruel to modern ears, God sealed His agreement with us, His people, with the blood of His son. Jesus died so that we, in a manner of speaking, would gain eternal life much more easily.

            The old laws, as set forth in Deuteronomy, concerning what humans can and cannot do are no longer in force. That’s why proscriptions on eating certain foods are no longer in effect; and more importantly, Jesus wants us to focus on the deeper, more meaningful issues. As far as what we eat, for example, it’s not what goes into our mouths but what comes out of them that matters.[3] Or as far as the laws regarding the Sabbath, did Jesus stop working to make the world better? No—he healed the sick:

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”
 But they remained silent.
 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Mark 3:1-6.[4]

Jesus taught us to look deeper, to search for the true meaning behind all of the teachings earlier prophets had shared.

            Indeed, when Jesus was saying goodbye to his followers, he didn’t give them a long list of rules. He kept it simple, oh so very simple.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

Jesus told us to love one another, and he gave us a tool, a new tool, that would help guide us: the Holy Spirit.

It is this, the Holy Spirit, or the light within our souls, that should inform how we treat one another. This light, which is pure love, God’s love, is inside all of us, and when we look on our brothers and sisters, we should shine light, not darkness, on them. After all, why should it bother us who our brother, or who our sister . . . loves? What, after all, is love? Other than light, shining like a beacon from the Almighty One who made us?

In closing, brothers and sisters, be not afraid. The new laws of the New Testament supersede the old laws of the Old Testament. Even if Deuteronomy once accurately captured the will of God (a position I do not accept but grant for the sake of argument), the laws God gave to his people within that gospel have been rendered obsolete by the New Testament covenants. For the map Home, look to Jesus, and look within, to the piece of God given to you in the form of the Holy Spirit. That light, and His love—is all we need. For love, is love. And love is good.


[1] Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:15-18.

[2] See also Galatians 3:21-26. “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

 

[3] See Matthew 15:11; Mark 7:15; The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 14.

[4] “The Father is like that. He labored in the Sabbath, for the sheep that he found fallen into the pit. He saved the life of the sheep and brought it up from the pit. Understand the inner meaning, for you are children of inner meaning. What is the Sabbath? It is the day on which salvation should not be idle. Speak of the heavenly day that has no night and of the light that does not set because it is perfect. Speak from the heart, for you are the perfect day and within you dwells the light that does not fail. Speak of truth with those who seek it and of knowledge with those who have sinned in their error.” See The Gospel of Truth, The Nag Hammadi Scriptures.

 


I am a Prophet

God came to me early this year, originally through an archangel, and then directly, and he started giving me messages he wanted me to share with you. But first, he wanted me to go into seclusion for a few months so that I could understand my mission better. I have been with God every day, and now I will be sharing His word with all of you.

For two thousand years, we haven’t had a prophet walking among us. When God is not with us, we get lonely.

Photo on 4-9-14 at 8.24 AM #3

I think the reason God anointed me as a prophet is that you would feel comfortable coming to me, since I speak not from above, but from among, from beside, you. As your sister. As your very real, very messed up to, very human . . . sister.

To watch more, please go here:


Paul Hollis’ The Hollow Man: a Benchmark for Thrillers, Belongs on Big Screen

I don’t care for most thrillers because within the genre, plot tends to drive characterization, and I prefer the reverse. I read books to find characters who seem as real as anyone I might see in real life. Fast-paced thrillers often seem one or two-dimensional to me. In HOLLOW MAN, however, Paul Hollis manages to create not just one, but several real people. The characters in this character-driven thriller are as real, as compelling, as three-dimensional as any I’ve come across in real life. And this is the mark of a great book.

Hollow Man by Paul HollisHollis is a very visual writer. I could see the countryside unfurling from the train window. I could picture the blood spurting from one of the many villain’s carotid arteries. I could picture the ghost, a murdered little girl, translucent, yet lucent (for real, Hollis uses this word), forlornly gazing into a camera, or into the main character’s eyes.

Speaking of cameras, HOLLOW MAN belongs on the big screen. I’m hoping that Hollis ships this novel to either Indie filmmakers or perhaps to the titans in Hollywood. I predict that if this is adapted for film, it will be a mega hit.

What audience will enjoy HOLLOW MAN? Fans of literary fiction will appreciate the craftsmanship. Male readers will love the pacing, the action, and the likable lead. History buffs will appreciate the early 1970′s time period, which almost amounts to a separate character in itself. Former intelligence officers will likely chuckle about the author’s take on the spy world. Anyone with a pulse will enjoy reading HOLLOW MAN.

I highly recommend this book. I received a free copy of HOLLOW MAN from the author in exchange for an honest review.

E.L. Farris
AIA Reviewer


Spirituality and Sexuality: How Rape Fantasies Hurt Abuse Survivors

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I read an interesting article yesterday, written by August McLaughlin, about how rape fantasies can help women heal. Initially, I felt this heaviness in my heart when I read just the phrase “rape fantasies,” but I tried to read and learn, which I often do when I read one of August’s posts. As August explains:

“Fantasies allow us to experience the outer limits of our imaginations safely, with no risk–and for some people, that includes fantasies of coerced sex,” writes Michael Castleman, MA, author of All About Sex.

August cites five reasons women fantasize about rape:

The thrill of desire.
Permission to experience pleasure first, without worrying about performance.
Permission to be sexual.
Societal teachings.
Adrenaline boosts.

August then explains that Dr. Laura Berman on her Showtime TV series Sexual Healing says the following:

The fact is a lot of women who have been through sexual trauma . . . have rape fantasies, submission fantasies…because it’s sort of a way to work through it . . . It’s kind of taking what was out of your control and putting it in control.

What I think is missing from this discussion is the all-important question of how fantasizing about rape can affect a women’s spirit, or soul. After all, we humans are not mere physical beings. We are of God, from God. And we have a mind; we have a body. But most of all, we have an eternal spirit that never dies.

The standard by which I measure whether sex is good or bad for us is in part whether it feels safe and good, and in part whether it helps our souls heal from whatever wounds life has inflicted on us. Again, we are not just a mind and a body. We’re a mind, a body, and most important, a soul.

Mere physical responses to stimuli involve just biology. As many rape and incest survivors will tell you, their damn bodies let them down. Or as Sally Lane Brookman cries out in anguish in I Run, when admitting how she was turned on just talking about her brother raping her:

I feel turned on. That’s how I feel, and I’m pissed off feeling it. “Fuck biology.” I laugh and try to soften my anger, and then I wish I would stop doing that. “I know it sounds childish, but I hate it. I hate that my body fails me like this.”

She explains again that it is just biology, but I’m not taking it in. I don’t, I can’t really hear her. There’s too much shame. I feel confused. And ashamed. I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be here. I want to escape.

Our bodies and minds fail us in so many ways. Indeed, when I write about rape and incest, I often feel turned on. This is actually why I started drinking again while writing Ripple. I’d write the pervert’s scenes, feel this physical response, and feel this deep, awful shame. Alcohol numbed this.

My body and my mind have let me down sexually in so many ways. August asks the reader if she has experience rape fantasies. In my case, hell yes. For a good part of my life, I could only get off if I was being the dirty girl, the slut, talking dirty, wanting to “fuck” rather than make love. And the only way I could fuck or make love was when I was buzzed or high.

Whoa. Right? Does this sound healthy?El_aviator

I can tell you, quite simply, this mentality did not help me heal; indeed, it retarded, or stunted my healing. Being only able to perform when you feel like a whore is not a good thing. It’s just not.

Now, I am a big advocate of sexual freedom. I think God gave us sex as an extra awesome gift. For real. But there are good orgasms and bad orgasms. Good orgasms uplift you. Bad orgasms make you bow your head in shame, or discomfort, or just relief that you got off and can release your physical tension.

A word about my own healing. Through hard work in therapy and spiritual study, I no longer reenact the whore-virgin dichotomy in bed. I don’t have to feel slutty to get off. I don’t have to subjugate myself to the man I’m with; I don’t need to replay my sexual abuse over and over in some misguided attempt to make sense of it. And my bedroom is no longer a shackle. But the key to my newfound freedom from my past is letting go of being a victim, either in life, or in fantasy. At least in the bedroom, I am free of my past.

And for that, I’m truly grateful.


Are Furloughed Workers Lazy, Unnecessary and Unimportant?

As y’all know, I love our conversations.  I have been surprised, however, by how hostile some have been with regard to the partial Government shutdown and furlough.
On responses at my site and others, a few themes have arisen regarding the furloughed employees that are just not true.  Usually these themes accompany an ad-hominem attack on a previous commenter.
One of my favorite sayings is that we are all entitled to our own opinions, not our own facts.  Here are what I see as two of the most egregious examples of demonstrably false statements–mythology of the furlough–that appear in comments to furlough articles.

Myth # 1:  Furloughed employees are not doing important work.cropped-BlondeSally.Avatar4.jpg
This myth is a pumped-up spin on the old stereotype of the Government employee as a feckless clock-watcher.   You have probably heard it in the form of a comment that reads:  “if the Government does not need them [the furloughed workers] why are we paying them?”
Like that lazy government employee stereotype, assuming people on furlough are not doing necessary work is ignorant, uninformed and just plain wrong. Furloughed employees often have policy and oversight responsibilities; for example, take a look at Federal agency shutdown plans to see who is not in the office this week.  Among the furloughed, you will find contracting officers–the employees who award Federal contracts.

Those employees sign the contracts that support the national economy – lest we forget which entity purchases more goods and services than any other.  Even with the Department of Defense back at work, the economy will presumably suffer with most Government spending on hold.  For sure, many problems the furloughed employees would address will not be addressed as a result of the shutdown. A veritable army of GS-14s and 15s watch over how our money is spent, design safeguards to protect our money, and perform similarly important functions . . . and this army has been idled.  If you know a Federal employee on furlough, try asking him or her what work is not getting done. I bet you’ll be surprised.

Myth # 2:  Furloughed employees are enjoying a vacation.
The furlough is not a vacation.  On every one of our vacations, my husband will generally spend around an hour each day working. He can’t just ignore his duties even when we’re at the beach. He has to get online and address small problems to keep them from becoming big ones; he has to check the pulse of whatever is happening to make sure he can seamlessly transition back to the job he loves when he gets back to the office. And I want to underscore, friends, that he loves his job, which centers on serving the public welfare. His work breaks do not interrupt our vacation (he is the only early riser in our crew and our vacations always include downtime), but we all know he needs to stay on top of what is happening at the office.  And he’s not alone in the dedication he shows to his job. The vast majority of the Federal employees I know work every bit as hard as private sector employees. And in the case of attorneys like my husband, for half the pay.
During the furlough my husband is not checking his e-mail, telephone messages or doing anything else directly related to his work.  I can tell it bothers him.  The Federal employees are not enjoying a vacation. He can’t take care of his duties, and no one else is, either. People depend on him. Businesses depend on him. And he cannot help them. I think it’s driving him slightly crazy. In fact, I know it is, because he’s reorganizing the family library according to the dictates of the Library of Congress Catalog. I know he’s not the only Federal employee who’s worrying about the work he or she should be getting done, but cannot, during the shutdown.

How about it?  Are some of you furloughed Government employees?  If so, I would love to hear what you would be doing if the Government were funded.

Have you heard any other ridiculous statements related to the shutdown?


Two Friends, five kids on a Concall

My Bad Doggy Productions partner Stephanie Saye just wrote this hilarious piece about what a typical conference call between us sounds like. © 2013 Stephanie Saye
El: *answers phone* Hey.farrisandsaye3-300x227
Stephanie: Hey. Can you give me the login info for the Web site?

El: You lost it again? *kids screaming in background* WOULD YOU GUYS BE QUIET! I’M ON THE PHONE! Hey, how far have you read on my book?

Stephanie: I dunno, chapter 13 or something? *kid repeating “mommy, mommy” in background* I didn’t have much time over the weekend. Luke, mommy is working, I’ll be done in a few minutes. No, no … please put that down. That’s mommy’s stapler. GIVE IT TO ME BEFORE YOU STAPLE YOUR EYE!

El: *sighs* So … this whole not working on the weekend thing, is that gonna be like a regular thing for you? *more screaming* DAMMIT! I’M ON THE PHONE … WORKING!

Stephanie: Dude, I have no doors on my office. *cat wails in background* I can’t do shit when my family’s at home.

El: What author doesn’t have doors on her office? BEN, GET DOWN FROM THERE NOW! Oh my God, is your cat dying?

Stephanie: *more wailing* Nah, she’s just hungry. JESUS CHRIST TYRA, WOULD YOU GIVE ME A FREAKIN’ BREAK? Okay, so where were we?

El: I was just about to ask you about the logo …

Stephanie: *kid crying in background* Oh hold on a second. IAN, IS YOU BROTHER HURT? Great. He’s hurt. El, lemme call you back.

And you wonder how we ever get stuff done? ~S © 2013 Stephanie Saye and E.L. Farris

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The really neat thing about these concalls, besides the friendship and the laughs? With Stephanie Saye and Christina Frey’s help, I’m happy to announce that I will be releasing I Run within the next 24 hours. I have a final cover, and there’s a long, messed-up story behind that, but that’s for another day, when we’ve all imbibed our coffee. We’re just conducting some final proofs and hopefully, tomorrow (happy sob) I Run will be out! Thank you all so much for your friendship and support; thank you for sharing my joy, my weird humor, and my deep thoughts about God, children, running, and sundry other random topics. Thanks for laughing at my jokes, and thanks for giving me cyber-hugs when I’m crying. Just . . . thanks. Here’s the cover for I Run: A Novel. Special thanks to Christina Frey of Page Two Editing and Stephanie Saye for all your awesome help.


Dear Congress: Please Take my Husband Back

Dear Congress:

Re:  Please Take My Husband Back

On behalf of all the wives of federal workers, I wanted to thank you for sending my husband home to me. I’ve loved having him around. Really, it’s been great . . . but—would you please TAKE HIM BACK NOW?

Here’s why you gotta take him back:

1. His furlough beard is itchy when he kisses me.

2. His quiet creeping around the kitchen is making me nervous. His incessant opening of the fridge is making me nervous. I wish he would go and get groceries. “I can’t; the commissary’s closed, too.” Shit.

3. He has reorganized all the CDs and left a stack of at least 100 of them next to my laptop, and won’t leave my study until he downloads all of them to the cloud.

 4. He has thrown out at least 500 hangers, which was great, but he also threw out my children’s School Picture Forms, and I got a hysterical, slightly accusatory call from our fifth grader this morning. “Mom? Um. Where’s my picture order form?”

 5. He’s making me look really bad in front of the other soccer moms. My kids actually have their hair brushed when they show up at the bus stop in the morning; they’re not wearing flip-flops; and no one has worn sweats or frayed t-shirts all week.

6. Is it really necessary to store 50 bottles of water in the basement? Like really necessary? Just checking.

7. C-Span. Nuff said.

8. He keeps walking past the stack of bills on the counter, sighing so heavily, I can picture Al Gore during a presidential debate.

9. He’s caught enough fish to feed the family for the rest of the year, and there’s no more room in the freezer to store it, so now we’re eating it every night for dinner and have I mentioned I hate fish?

10. He’s redesigned the family escape plan at least ten times, and now he’s making us stop, drop, and roll several times a day.

11.  Every time I go to get my nails or my hair done, he gets this look on his face, like, “What the hell do you do with all your free time, anyway?”

12.  Fox News. CNN. And more bloody C-Span.1374806_626495280714167_505490152_n

13. No, we don’t need to build traps to catch all the squirrels in the back yard, and no, we really shouldn’t buy the boys BB Guns for target practice. No. No, no, no!

14. No, I’m not hungry for lunch right now.

15.  My daughter can now burp the entire alphabet.

16. My husband has spread enough insecticide to kill entire universes of ant colonies, and now I’m worrying about the neighbor’s dog.

17. Speaking of the neighbor’s dog, I found three bark arrestor collars on the side counter. We do NOT own a dog.

18. Last night, before I got into bed, my husband was holding his iPad watching baby videos. And when I started to undress, he said something about trying for a fourth. “Trying for a fourth what, exactly,” I almost screamed, before I cuddled up against his itchy furlough beard.

19.  C-Span. Again.

20.  He keeps editing my work. He is editing MY WORK.

 

Dear Congress, I’m hoping you can understand just how badly you need to take my husband, our husbands, back.  Before we deliver them to the hallowed grounds of the nation’s . . . oh whatever. Sorry. The phone’s ringing again. It’s a Republican politician calling for the fifth time this week. I gotta take this call.

 

Respectfully Yours,

 

A Soccer Mom in the Suburbs of Northern Virginia


Congress: Can You Hear Me Now

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I just got a phone call from some Republican running for political office here in Northern Virginia. They call my husband and me because we vote red most years. Yeah, stupid us, right? Anyway, I almost picked up the phone and started screaming, “I’m mad and I’m not gonna take it . . .” but I thought better of it.

Upon further reflection, maybe I need to hit the caller ID button and return that phone call. Fuckers. Really. Forgive my language. But I’m really angry tonight. I’m a little bit angry at myself, and a lot more angry at the folks we voted for. Sure, I voted some of them into office. But my party has now put my awesome, hardworking, proud to serve and all of that family out of work.

I am so irked I could spit. You know what I say? They really want to say the government is unnecessary? Then shut the whole thing down. Military? Shut it down. FBI? Shut it down. Counter-terrorism unit? Shut it down.

Something explodes somewhere? Oops. No emergency workers. Need to visit someone you love somewhere? Oops, we sent the air traffic controllers home. There are no planes flying the friendly skies tonight.

You need more government handouts? Nope. You’re relying on your social security check? Oops. Defunded. Forget about welfare. Too bad you need food stamps. You’re injured? Oops. Medicare just went kaput.

You know what? If government doesn’t matter, then just shut it all down. You get my point, right? Or if you’re a crazy anarchist, you’re nodding, and howling, “Right on El!!! WAHOO!!”

The government either matters or it doesn’t. If you really think it doesn’t matter, dear Congress, then shut the whole thing down. Then clean up the mess you’ve created. Do your own dirty work–even for just a day. Take responsibility for tearing out the walls that bind our collective welfare together. 800px-United_States_Capitol_west_front_edit2

I’ve heard some folks argue, “Stop paying Congress. That will solve the problem.” You know what? They don’t care. Most of them are rich. They won’t miss a measly paycheck or two. But you know what? My family will. Oh, we’re not going to lose our home. Nor is my friend Joanne. But we’re scared. We don’t know when we will receive our next paycheck. And it’s not like we’re raking in money. A federal government salary is solid, but it won’t make anyone rich.

I don’t work for the government. But my husband does. And he has no opinion on this issue. I do, however, and I speak on behalf of the more than eight hundred thousand men and women who comprise the federal government’s work force. I’m too mad to be eloquent, but I need to say my piece tonight.

Dear Republicans in Congress:  It’s been said that the power to tax is the power to destroy. It’s a power you’re supposed to use wisely, with great care, respect, and prudence. You’re not supposed to use it to further your own ends, or advance your partisan beliefs. 

Job One, Republican friends, is to keep the lights on and the electricity running. Now, you refuse to do either. You’re not building. You’re destroying. You claim to be protecting the country, but all you’re doing is breaking stuff. 

You’re not keeping the lights on and the electricity running. You won’t, unless the Democrats agree to your terms. You know what this amounts to? It’s blackmail. You’re basically blackmailing the country. And this is a sick misuse of your power over the nation’s purse strings. ObamaCare may be a piece of controversial legislation, our nation’s elected representatives rightfully, duly, voted for it. When challenged judicially, the Highest Court of the Land ruled in favor of its constitutionality.

The Democrats followed all of the procedures, obeyed all of the rules, and now all we’re asking is for you to do the same. You lost–we lost–fair and square.

But now, you want to break the rules–the same rules that all of us live by. When we lose, we shake hands and move on. And for more than two hundred years, that’s how our country operated: you fight your ass off, lose, shake hands, and get back to work.

The rest of the country has moved on. We might not love the health care bill, but we’re making do with it. We’re doing the best we can. We’re compromising and working shit out. And all we want is for you to keep the lights on. Please don’t make us go home to a much too quiet house on a darkened street.

We the People deserve better.

 


Up All Night and Missing Electrons

I stayed up all night last night, or almost all night. I tried to stop working at 4 a.m., but the document I left on the big iMac followed me around as I tried to nod off. I had taken on this project pro bono, as we used to say in law firms, for a friend of mine who paid all this money to get her book edited, and the editor had left the formatting in complete, total, disarray. So I’d offered to help, knowing it would take at least a few hours. And once I got into it time lost meaning. I couldn’t, wouldn’t stop working. It’s always like that when I take on technical work, or mechanical jobs, like formatting a Word doc.

            So I lay there, cuddled up against William, and I tried to absorb myself into his calm, steady heartbeat. I wanted to slow down, and rest, just like he was. But . . .

What if I moved the stuff from the front, like the Acknowledgments, the Dedication, and the infernal Table of Contents, to the back of the book? That would solve my pagination problems. Maybe T_____ won’t mind. I really should move the TOC. I should get up and move it now. No. No. I shouldn’t do that.

 

I close my eyes, and the words from her book run across my mind’s eye, kind of like a newsreel. I can slow it down if I try really hard. But nothing’s moving slow right now. Hell. I can’t slow it down, so I just let the pages race past me. Sometimes I spot a misspelled word, or what would my editor call it? A predicate? A fucking predicate? Damnit, predicates are about as interesting as gerunds. I don’t like them either. I wonder what page she is on, or was on, when she went to bed. At what? Midnight?vbsd0157_ntsc

            Man, I should just get out of bed and fix it. But what if I have a seizure? My synapses are bugging out right now. Like, zing. Ping. It’s like my head is filled with some of Jim’s missing electrons. Carbon’s missing four electrons. Sodium has one extra. And one you combine that with chlorine, which has one extra electron, they get stable.

            “Oh,” I’d cracked to Jim, “So that’s why they call it table salt. Because the salt is stable.”

            He’d laughed out loud at my first and only chemistry joke.

           


Self-Publishing: Hyperventilating, Sardines and Kimchi

One of my closest friends wrote me a note last night. “El. I’m almost hyperventilating. About self-publishing. And marketing. And promoting. And layout. And . . .”

Well. It was a long list of stuff. And what she actually wrote is a lot different than that, but I write fiction, so I get to change stuff around a lot. I smiled when I read this, because I get it. I’ve felt the same way so many times, as I sat in front of my computer contemplating all the things I had to do, at that exact moment, when all I wanted to do was to write.

So what do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed about the whole icky, impossible, terribly awful self-publishing process?

Well, as an athlete, I learned how to focus on the basics. So if my swing was messed up, or my jump shot kept clanging off the back of the rim, I’d run through a checklist. As far as hitting a ball coming at me at 60 miles an hour from 45 feet away, I’d make sure my elbow was up, my shoulders were way back, hands nice and low, and I’d see the ball right when it left the mound and try to watch it all the way to the barrel of the bat. In basketball, I’d focus on elbows in, back straight, and that gorgeous wrist flick on my follow-through.

In self-publishing, whenever I feel overwhelmed, I refocus on the basics as well. Am I hitting my daily word count of 1,000 words? Am I working my social media contacts in a personal, helpful and awesome way? In other words, really talking to people and making myself useful?

Am I building my newsletter subscriber base? Is it time to price pulse, or drop down to 99 cents and contact advertising sites like EReader News, Bookblast, Free Booksy, and a few others? Am I on track for my release date, and is there anything I can do between now and then to get better prepared?

When I played ball and was in a hitting, shooting or (gah!) pitching slump, I practiced extra hard, stopped worrying about outcomes like shooting percentages, games won or lost, and ERA. Instead, I put in the extra time, and kept it simple. Elbows, follow-through, release point, and number of shots taken or pitches thrown during each practice session. I focused on the things I could control, and ignored everyone and everything else.

When my sales drop, or my Facebook page interaction numbers tail off, I stop looking at the results. I pay attention to the things that really matter. Is the dialogue in chapter six of Wave realistic? Did I nail the roller derby action sequence? Is this scene a funny and helpful resting spot for the reader, or I am being self-indulgent again?

And when I can’t focus on any of these things because my worries paralyze me, I stop away from the computer, and I do something different. Like complain about how nasty my husband’s kimchi and sardines smells. Or I grab a football and ask my daughter to play catch with me.

Basics. I get back to basics.


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