M is for…Ministry

16 Apr

I’ve taken a long time today to post. It’s almost midnight and then I’ll be two days behind instead of one. But maybe it’s worth the wait to become more sure of my words.

Prayer begins my day. Ends it. Winds through. I’m so conscious of God of late, not always in a good way. Oh, I argue with Him frequently. Even been known to swear and throw things at him (figuratively throwing at any rate) because I don’t always like the answers I’m given. I don’t know if anyone fights God as hard or as frequently as I do.

The thing is, years ago I prayed for Him to use me. To guide me. To set my feet on a better path than the one I was chosen. I figured that it was my job at that point to pick up whatever was given me to do, to take it and move with it and tend it until it was time to let it go.

Ministry starts in funny ways. I started out in publishing in a backwards sort of way. I never intended to be a publisher, an editor, an agent…any of the things I was or am now. I was going to be a writer. Plain and simple. These other things…all just came along.

It’s hard when you have no idea where you’re going. It takes a whole lot more trust than I have, or ever had. You see, trust was always my biggest issue (don’t we all have one area that we’re weakest?) So to step out in faith and do…whatever…is a Big Awful Scary thing.

But four years ago God placed an idea in my head, a way to minister to writers. Build markets, he seemed to say. Let them be heard. 

The problem with a publishing house that’s a ministry that happens to be a business is that…well…we don’t always do the things that make practical sense. And sometimes you have to release the things that make financial sense in favor of doing what’s “right.”

In the last several months while I’ve been on sabbatical I’ve questioned a lot just what my ministry is. Has it changed? Am I still called to do what I am with the bookstore, with the publishing house? Am I still where God wants me to be.

Turns out I’m not. Because when I laid it all at God’s feet, the answer came back in a much more terrifying way than I’d expected. Right now I feel like I’m standing up here all by myself, trying to do it all alone. And what’s more, the place I’m standing is on the edge of a very big cliff.

And God told me, “Leap!”

Trust. Ministry comes down to that doesn’t it?

I asked God why everything was so difficult right now, why now, when my health is still precarious, why I’m where I am.

He answered with a question of his own. “Do you trust Me?”

Perhaps I needed to be weak and alone so that I would see only Him.

Whatever the case I’m pressing on, in the best way I can. Taking the plunge again, knowing that alone as I feel, I’m not completely on my own. After all there are some mighty awesome arms out there waiting to catch me.

Picture by Kandil1 and taken from the Wikimedia Commons

Advertisements

L is for…Life

15 Apr

Years ago I could have been accused of going through the motions. Every morning I woke up, went to work, came home, watched TV, went to bed. The next day was more of the same. The odd day off was reserved for errands. Library. Shopping. Reading. Maybe seeing a movie.

Then I got married and traded that life for…more of the same. Except my day involved waking up, taking care of babies and then toddlers with the TV blaring in the background. Errands, teaching, Church every Sunday, and never enough sleep, never enough LIFE.

I was a Zombie.

I blamed it on the motherhood. After all, who had time or even more important, ENERGY, for anything else.

This constant routine, the blur of days, the passage of years eroded me as surely as wind upon a rock. I was lacking meaning, and as a result I found out just how far down a person could travel emotionally. Cutting, watching the blood well up on my skin scared me enough to look for meaning wherever I could find it. Nights filled with fatigue and too much time alone left me as a seeker online, falling in and out of relationships. Cheating, sex, adultery. Name it what you will but this frantic burst of motion was no more living than endless hours in front of the television and ended in suicidal fantasy followed by suicidal action…

Yeah, not my best time.

After coming to the startling realization that you can hit bottom not just once, but it’s a place you can visit time and again if you’re not careful, if you’re not alive enough to even CARE, I knew something had to change.

Starting with me.

A lot of prayer was involved. A lot of time of reading the Bible, and screaming to God why didn’t HE just fix things and I felt the first glimmerings of life. I really didn’t want to die deep down, so much as I wanted the meaningless monotony to end, I wanted to feel…alive. No. I wanted to BE alive.

Counseling pointed me in the right directions. I began to pray daily to ask God my direction. To show me where I could find my myself. Where I could perhaps…minister. The answer came in Written World Communications.

Oh it wasn’t easy. Living after being dead inside so long never is. And the scars…not just the ones upon my arms, but the ones upon my heart, upon my soul would take years to heal.

But oh it felt good to be ALIVE.

At this point I’ve spent four years trying to build something, to do something that MATTERS. To reach out to writers and give them voice, give them platform, give them LIFE because I know how it feels to be silenced. Yet it’s a struggle. Every single day. The money issues are horrendous (we’ve put $67,000 into this so far…every penny a miracle) and the spiritual toll is worse.

Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you that the field of Christian publishing doesn’t bring down a storm of spiritual warfare on a daily basis.

My health has suffered.

But inside…inside I’m alive.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life. It’s a fight every day to continue. But I’m not going to give up just yet.

Life…is too precious for that.

K is for….Knitting

13 Apr

 

I feel like it should read N is for Knitting for some reason. This word doesn’t feel like a “K” word, simply because you don’t get to hear it. And I’m rather fond of the “K” sound, it being part of my name and all that…

When I was five years old I watched my mom knitting a bright yellow afghan, and pestered her to the point where she gave me yarn and needles and showed me how the two worked together. My first project was a little blanket for my cat and it took absolutely forever.

Since then I’ve made blankets, clothing, toys…just about anything you can put create I think. I love to knit while watching movies on Netflix and wish I could get away with taking my needles and yarn into movie theaters to do the same (there being no need for light for me to see to knit by – a trick I taught myself on long car rides where a person needed SOMETHING to do once the sun dropped below the horizon and you were hours from the intended destination).

But knitting isn’t just useful to me, it’s relaxing. It’s a way to feel like I’m accomplishing something even when I’m buried under blankets in bed when I’m having a ‘bad’ day. Knitting has helped me to save my sanity during this long sabbatical.

I feel like I can’t chatter about knitting without mentioning that I’m a total Ravelry junkie – after all where else do you expect me to get patterns for everything from a Hogwarts approved scarf to racy lingerie (no, I haven’t done lingerie yet though I’m tempted if I ever come across the right yarn.) You can look me up under Katagillian though I’ve yet to really spend time posting what I’m working on. Which is currently a dishcloth obsession with random forays into the world of sweaters.

Anneka's Afghan

Though right now it’s near impossible to knit as I’m caught up in crocheting an afghan for my cat. Which wasn’t supposed to be for her but she somehow claimed as I was working on it. But that’s another story.

What do you like to create?

J is for…Jokes

11 Apr

 

…AND I’m caught up. Don’t kill me for the jokes. Some of them, not in very good taste, but I’m letting them slide because let’s face it, several made me laugh, I’ve love the VlogBrothers (Hank and John Green) for years (because they’re made of awesome!)  and I needed something before midnight.

’nuff said. Got a joke? Share it in the comments!

I is for….Ice

11 Apr

Because, you know, we had a cold spell. And the neighbors didn’t turn off their automatic sprinkler system.

This is after 2 days of sunlight hitting this tree to melt the ice...

This is after 2 days of sunlight hitting this tree to melt the ice…

I really really wish I’d gotten a picture of their car which was parked next to their front lawn. But they chipped it out of the ice before I could get a shot of it. And well, because I didn’t have the guts to take the picture when they were staring at the 2 inches of ice that covered one entire side of the car because the wind had been strong and blew most of the water there.

Some days it’s a real challenge to not laugh until you can get back inside. Where no one can hear you.

I love how every blade of grass became a work of art

I love how every blade of grass became a work of art

H is for the Hard Things

10 Apr

It’s been a rough week. Discovering that the thing I’d swept under the rug has created a PTSD panic in my life, waiting to erupt when least expected.

So like any sensible person, when that happened, I shoved down the emotions, endured the aching feeling in the pit of my stomach for several days until finally today I could spend some quality time with my SD.

SD stands for Stupid Doc because it’s an easier tag to give this individual than “Psychologist” or “Shrink” – as if putting her down with acronyms would somehow make me that much more sane than other people who don’t go to counseling once a week regular as clockwork. (I would never admit to being that regular. After all, some weeks I see her on Tuesdays and on the others on Wednesdays).

We hide that kind of thing in our society. No one likes to talk about getting help because that seems to imply that you need help after all. That there’s something wrong, and you weren’t big enough, strong enough, smart enough, or SOMETHING enough to handle it on your own like everyone else in the world.

The truth is I’ve got issues and I do need help and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Much. Ok, a lot. This is a hard post to type.

But I’m brave enough to make the effort to speak up. It’s when we hide things that everything spirals out of control and the bad stuff happens. You know THAT stuff. The person you read about in the newspaper that did a Terrible Thing. That story in your prayer group…you know the one…you were horrified when it was told when deep down you knew, KNEW that at one point in your life it could have been you. Or someone you love.

I was there too. Several years ago I suffered in silence and finally reached the point where the cutting wasn’t enough and I was going to end my life on the last night of a Writer’s Conference I was attending. Because after all, I couldn’t do that at home. And everyone would be so busy with packing up and leaving that I wouldn’t have disrupted a thing.

Yeah. Right.

Those were hard days back then. And the truth is, for those of us for suffer from depression it’s not something that goes away completely. Not always. Too many grey days, too much stress, too little sleep and not enough of the right kinds of foods…all that can trigger the sadness.

A crises can trigger a catastrophe in your thinking.

Thankfully I realized something not that long ago. I’ve learned something in all these years. I don’t have to deal with the bad thoughts alone. And honestly? That there’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help. And then seeking it out.

Yeah, today was a hard topic, but it needs to be talked about. You’re not less of a wife, mother, son, Christian, father, grandparent, whatever if you ask for help.

Honestly? To my way of thinking it makes you one awesome and amazing person.

Hold onto that thought, ok? As Red Green says, “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”

G is for…Good Night

8 Apr

Sorry everyone, today was a day that got a whole lot more derailed than most. I’ll write something especially interesting in the morning to make up for it. Hopefully. Unless I get blown away in the blizzard first…

Sleep well, everyone!

Gallery

F is for…Furry Things

6 Apr

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

E is for…Ephemeris

5 Apr
I actually created this picture out of a different Sailor Moon image, after 9/11. I wanted there to show my love and support for my country with my favorite anime.

I actually created this picture out of a different Sailor Moon image, after 9/11. I wanted there to show my love and support for my country with my favorite anime.

An Ephemeris is a diary of sorts. One that tracks the movements of celestial bodies. While it’s always good to know when it’s a full moon (trust me, that’s NOT the night to shop at Wal-Mart), about a dozen years ago, it took on a much bigger meaning.

I came onto the internet for the first time in 1994 and remember asking, “But what can it DO?” – not that many years later I figured it out.

It all started with Sailor Moon. A Japanese anime, very badly dubbed into English and showing at zero-dark-thirty, at an hour when babies OUGHT to be sleeping but never were. I became addicted to the adventures of clumsy schoolgirl Serena and her alter ego, butt kicking supergirl Sailor Moon. And of course, having time when I had little else to do, I poked around on the internet to find out more. And discovered an entire subculture of otaku – anime fans – from around the world.

I became one of those, putting my first website up somewhere around 1998. About Sailor Moon of course. This was the start of my Lunar Ephemeris (a name I later used on one of my webpages). Over the next 6 years I built and maintained 37 websites, mostly on anime, some on writing, a few on American cartoon shows and even a little dip into the world of comic books (Alfred’s Archive – a Batman fansite). This all grew into my own little empire of sorts (another great “E” word) with thousands of hits every month, a constant struggle to find free bandwidth, and instant recognition at Anime Conventions (OMG, I can’t believe I’m talking to YOU!)

Oh, it was fun…

Sadly things came to a crashing halt in 2004. The server I eventually bought space from went under (left town in the middle of the night with all the money, taking all domains with them) and my websites were all gone overnight. Looking at what I’d had, what I’d BUILT, I lost heart and didn’t bother returning. It seemed too big of a task to start all over again. I’d spent years building one of the most comprehensive Sailor Moon websites on the internet…for what?

At the same time, the Internet was changing. There weren’t as many of us anymore. Back when every kid with a computer was making a fansite of some sort or another, it was fun. Now when the internet was taken over by professionals, the actual companies that made the shows…I couldn’t see where there was room for me.

In looking around tonight I found something interesting. My first little Ephermeris has been preserved – the main page of it. The design I’d placed a week or two after 9/11. A group trying to find and keep those websites alive that were part of HISTORY had chosen this as one of their site worth keeping. I am humbled.

So, here you have it, the link to the main page of one of my webpages from October 2001.

I think about it sometimes, doing it all over again. But I’m not sure I’m wanted / needed anymore. Not for this kind of thing. People have Facebook and DeviantArt and other such places to meet and talk.

I’m a dinosaur. We used to talk in ICQ and build our websites on places like Geocities, 50Megs, and the like. Now and we pin our interests and see each other face to face on Skype.

I miss my Lunar Ephermis. The worlds I’m trying to build seem so…corporate and cold sometimes. Maybe it’s time we began again, at least with our online presence.

Maybe it’s time to build again.

What were your favorite places to go in the early days of the Internet?

D is for…

4 Apr

Not sure which D to go with on this. Maybe at the end of this post you can tell me.

1977 JCPenny Christmas page001

Back when I was a kid, the highlight of the year had to be the arrival of the JCPenney Christmas Catalog. Every year I would flip very first to the dolls. Oh, they had all kinds. Big and small, hard bodies or soft cloth. Eyes that were stitched in a friendly open expression, or eyes that would close when you laid her down to sleep at night.

I don’t think my parents understood what I was looking for in a doll very well. Christmas would come either with the ubiquitous Barbie or else a pudgy cheeked baby doll, of hard molded rubbed that had plenty to say if you just pulled the string.

I was looking for a friend.

1977 JCPenny Christmas page454

A little poking around today and I found one of those pages I’d probably circled in red magic marker before Christmas. The doll I never got though plenty of her older and younger sisters graced my bedroom. I think I was looking for someone just like me.

This longing for a doll seems silly now – I’m a grown woman of 43. But for years I’ve stared with that same delight every time the mailman brings me a new catalog from American Girl. You see, years ago American Girl came along to tempt our  youngsters with beautiful (and expensive!) historical themed dolls. That yes, come with equally expensive and beautiful clothing. Because, you know, half the fun is in putting her in a fresh and pretty new outfit for the day.

American Girl Dolls

My girls are fortunate. Their grandmother has treated them with a handful of these dolls during the holidays. It even became a rite of passage of sorts, when they reached an age to care for her properly.

A rite of passage that always left me a feeling a little like I wanted to say, “Hey, Mom…where’s MY doll?”

Recently I made a decision. Enough already. If I still want a doll, why shouldn’t I have one? So this year I’ve started putting aside a few dollars each month with the intent of getting me my very OWN doll someday. One of the American Girl dolls that I love so much, though I’m having a hard time deciding just which one to get – Do I get Molly? Or Emily? Or Julie? So many to choose from…so many to LOVE! I’ll admit it, I want them all. My girls have quite a head start on me.

I have plenty of time to decide – that bank account doesn’t have near enough in it just yet. But I’m hoping…and waiting.

She looks like I did back then!

She looks like I did back then!

So does D stand for DOLL…or DREAMS?