Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Bible Study on Mind of a Maker

It was seeing a mentor of mine created a Bible study from a book of sermons that inspired my passion for teaching Bible studies. Later she taught me things like time management and other practical skills that helped me as a Bible study teacher, but that fire of enthusiasm for sharing spiritual insight has always been of central importance to me as a teacher.
     I had always loved Dorothy Sayers' thought, especially the deep insight into the nature and character of God she displays in Mind of the Maker. I began to see the possibility of using it as a Bible study by adding specific Bible verse to study that showed the general biblical concepts Sayers was referencing. As I worked on this dream over a number of years I added other helpful features to my fission until I had created a study guide with everything you could need to turn Sayers' book into a group Bible study. I'm very proud to have published A Study guide on Dorothy Sayers' Mind of the Maker, and I hope it will be a help to fellow Christians in finding insight into God given creativity and into the mystery of the Trinity.


Friday, February 17, 2017

being brought to maturity

Luke 12:25-28

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

When
I got my flower arrangement a few days ago the lilies in were closed buds. But now the lilies are opening up and they are lovely. The white and pink tiger lily also smells amazingly wonderful. It feels like catching the sent of that joy that heaven can create. Its remarkable how a this flower can transform like this, going something plain to bloom into such amazing beauty. And these are cut flowers, they are already doomed, removed from their roots and plants. Today I sniped off the bottoms of the steams that were starting to she decay so that those flower could keep drawing up water and delay wilting for a little longer.

But
God still allows them to come to maternity and show the glory they have. Tonight I am doing a Bible study about how God will brings us to maturity, and that maturity means we will be perfect in Him. As I get older it is easy to think of maturity in terms of signs that my body is wearing out and will one day break down and loose functions. But God values maturity. I should be reaching forward to what is ahead and pursuing the prize He has promised. (Phil. 3:12-16) These lilies remind me of how wonderful God's vision of something brought into full bloom can be. In just a little time these flowers will wither and be grown away. How much greater than this beauty will be the eternal blooming that Christ has in store for me. Yes, I still have a lot of imperfections now but:

We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside.
           - 1 Cor. 13:9-10

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Life filled with Love

Today is Valentine's Day. It is also my father's birthday.  He passed away a number of years ago, and there is the potential for pain there. I had a wonderful day, with a surprise delivery of flower from my husband.
As I staged a picture of the flowers that were delighting me, I noticed how nice they looked with a photo of my dad and me at my baptism. 
      Then tonight I was going over 1 John 3:21-23 in a Bible Study I am doing. And I was thinking about a life of pleasing God and following His commandments. About His commandment to love one another. And I was struck by what a wonderful live God is offering us here, a life filled with love. Not a life filled with a need for people to love us and a need to collect trophies of that love that compete with others. Not a life filled with collecting public virtue points to prove that we love others so that we will be worthy. But a life filled with mutual love based not in ourselves but in God. This life of love sweeps away all imperfects in our love or others or in circumstances because the wellspring of this love is from God, and it carries all before it. 

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Orphans No More

"I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
                                                             - Jesus (John 14:18)

I'm in my 40s and must of the time I'm responsible for taking care of myself, and sometimes other people too. But recently I went through a surgery that left me needing care for several days. I was so grateful that my mother was able and willing to take me into her home for several days. She brought me meals, helped change my bandages, and generally rearranged her life so that I could have the time to feast and heal that I needed.

She didn't have any cognitive dissidence at the fact that I was someone in need of care and not the one being the care giver. She was taking care of me like a parent takes care of a child. There is no one else in my life who would be quite as comfortable taking that role with me.

When my pastor read John 14:18 I was reminded how glad I am for having my mom. I also thought of the fact that we call it unnatural and tragic when a child dies before a parent. But that means that what is normal and accepted is for children to outlive there parents. That is, for most people to go through the experience of being orphans at some point in there life. In the best case, it is when we are adults and we have other people around us to take care of us when we need it.

But there is still that lack. There is no other relationship where your role as the one career for, the one guided, the one looked out for is so fundamental, so natural, so unforced. We can see how sad it is when a young child doesn't get that kind of care from a parent, or when that role is reversed wild. A still living parent because of a medical condition. But even in the most "normal" pattern there it still a loss.

But here is anther way that Jesus's resurrection takes the sting out of death and reverses the victory of the grave. Not only do we have the hope of being united again with loved ones in the resurrection. We always have a Father in heaven. We always have a Shepard in Jesus. We always have an Advocate in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus will care for us better than any human parent could. He has given us better guidance then any other source of counsel. He is pursuing our best interest in a way unmatchable by any other benefactor.

Christ is risen. We have a living Lord. And we always have someone with whom we can take the role of a child, someone whose feet it is always appropriate to sit at, someone to whom the power and the wisdom to lead s is totally natural.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

On Tracks

by ProjectManhatten CC BY-SA


A friend asked me if I could give any insight as to why an autistic acquaintance of his was so fascinated by trains. I’m not myself particularly fascinated by trains but I had a vague intuition that such a fascination did make sense. Though I gave it my best shot, I couldn’t really articulate a good explanation at the time, but I’ve been thinking about it since.
As you walk down the street are aware of constantly falling to one side or the other and needing to correct to keep your balance? Only you have to be careful not to over correct or you'll make the situation worse. Just exactly the precisely right correction is needed. But exactly how much to correct is a very difficult calculation. Take a look at the early attempts to mots with human like strides. A human like stride requires constantly updating judgments of balance that are actually quite complex.
I’m not consciously aware to all the calculations that go into staying balanced when I walk. But when I turn my mind inward and consider what I’m doing as a walk, I’m aware of something tense and stressed just below the level of my deliberate thoughts. There’s a feeling connected to my balance of something that’s never stable, that’s never settled, that I’m constantly uncertain of. It’s something that’s intrinsically unpleasant and unsettling. We I was a child I remember like to run my hand along fences or rails when I walked. When there was nothing suitable I would extend my hand so it made an imaginary line to the border of the sidewalk of some other guide that I could could as a reference point, as an additional sense of stability.
When I’m thinking of other things that sense fades into a disregarded buzz in the back of my awareness, but the doesn’t mean it has no effect on me. Mostly it is something that I notice not by its presence but by its absence. In the room I teach Sunday School in there are these movable partitions in tracks in the ceiling. If you push them or pull them by leaning your weight into them slightly they give you a little extra feed back as they move because they only want to move in a certain line. I like to be the one to move the partition. When I open or close it there’s a wonderful sense of relaxation, of being able to move without the stress.

I think a major part of the faciation of trains may be the tracks. The idea of something guiding the path precisely, of something providing stability even in the midst of motion, may be the source of the attraction. To someone with an intuition of the inherent instability of bipedal motion, or to someone with sensory issues who experiences motion as jarringly unpredictable, interacting with something on tracks can be very appealing. Seeing a train following exactly the visually predicted path, feeling the feedback through your fingertips as you play with a toy train, it could provide a sense of stability and an opportunity to relax.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Arbitrage in Createspace Sales


I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon that is happening with POD books. Now that fact that I was in a position to notice this particular practice is an artifact of a failure. I wrote an odd quirky book that didn’t have a really good commercial hook. Then when I launched it and I let other life stuff get in the way and it launched with almost zero effective publicity. (Copping with Autism mean that I have plenty of experiences with doing things fairly clumsily the first time I try them. I’ll get this writing+selling books things down; it just may take me a couple more tries.) So the total number of sales of POD print edition is:

And I know who has both of those.

But then I noticed this on amazon:



I’m pretty sure most of these retailers don’t actually have a copy of An Arrow of Atossa on hand.  So here is what I think is happening.  I signed up An Arrow of Atossa for extended distribution, which means that books stores, or people with book store account on service such as Ingram or NACSCORD can by the book at a significantly reduced price, that is partially made possible by my taking a reduced royalty on these books. This is done so h brick-and-mortar stores can offer the book at the same retail price on it is available online and still cover their overhead. I think the re-sellers advertising on Amazon are bookstores that manage to contain their overhead so they can use their wholesaler discount to undercut the amazon.com price. The thing is, one of the ways they are probably containing overhead is by not actually ordering any copies from Createspace until someone buys a copy from them. This means I’m not getting much greater visibility or availability because these retailers are carrying the title.

I initially saw the smaller royalty for sales through bookstores as a trade-off for better visibility and the faint possibility that if I got this marketing thing done properly, someday a bookstore might stock my book. And if the visibility then I wouldn’t get sales through that channel and lower royalty rate would be a dead letter. Now it looks like those lower royalty sales would mainly be siphoned off from my amazon sales. Now with the poor sales showing I’ve made with this book it probably doesn’t matter that much. But I’ll still probably be pulling the book from extended distribution.

The thing that is really interesting here is that this is another potential problem of brick-and-mortar bookstores, and while small, the current business model is already struggling. If other low selling authors also decide that extended distribution isn’t worth the loss in full royalty sales, then even if an indie book store wanted to shelf  oddball titles,  there would be and smaller selection that they could afford. This might mean brick-and-mortar stores forced more into the box of limited selections and mass audience only. Another interesting factory in the ever changing world of publishing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Enjoying being Cared For


This last week end my husband took me to get shoes. He just said I should go put on shoes and some real pants because he wanted to go shopping with me. As we went out the door I asked where we were going and he said to get shoes.
             Now I had some options. I could have asked where we were going before getting ready. I could have said I wasn’t sure we really had the money to get anything. I could have questioned the need for shoes or brought up other priorities. I could have sked what store we were going to if that would really be the best place to buy. But I didn’t. I didn’t try to manage the situation. I didn’t assume I needed be in charge and check that everything was being taken care of. I didn’t automatically take responsibility for all the decisions.
                My husband took me down to the mall to a store I’d never been in before that was having a sale on good quality athletic shoes. Shoes had been on my list of things that I needed to find the money for. And last time I had been shopping for shoes I had looked at getting walking/jogging shoes. But I had gotten intimidated by trying to figure out which type of shoes I actually needed and how to figure out if I was getting quality that was worth the money. So I had ended up getting a type of comfy work shoe I had gotten before.
                My husband had noticed that my shoes were looking a little worn. He had figured out how we could fit new shoes into the budget. He was confident and acted knowledgable about types of soles and types of shoes. As we looked at shoes for me he showed an awareness that color would influence how broad an array of circumstance I could wear the shoes in.
                I got a nice looking, comfy new pair of athletic shoes. I got to feel comfortable that I had decent shoes at a fair price. I didn’t have to use up any spoons deciding if this was the best possible next purchase. I didn’t have to stress out planning the trip. I got to relax in that fact that my husband had his own way of viewing the budget that worked as long as didn’t pull everything sideways by superimposing my own paradigm and priorities. My husband offered me his planning skills, his knowledge, his executive function. I could joy enjoy being cared for while he lifted the burden off my shoulders.
                The thing I noticed was that I needed to be willing before I could benefit from this care. Even if he had done all the same things for me, he couldn’t have taken the stress off of me like he did if I had insisted in knowing all the details and approving each step before moving forward.  If I had tried to question and understand and check out all his knowledge of tennis shoes I would have ended up less confident, because I would in the end be relying on my much inferior knowledge of shoes rather than his. If I had been focused on being responsible for myself, I couldn’t have enjoyed that sense of being provided for and looked out for, that certainty of being cared for. And I did enjoy it.

Thank you, Baby, for taking care of me.