Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I Samuel 23-24: Yesterday, I found it amazing that Saul's hatred and jealousy toward David turned him to evil. Today I read that Saul decided to sneak into a cave to...ahem...relieve himself, giving David the perfect opportunity to kill him. Most people, including David's men and even David for a moment (& me) would think that David was perfectly justified in killing Saul. After all, Saul had been hunting him, trying to kill him, and God had promised David that he would be the future king of Israel. Yet David resorts to cutting off a piece of Saul's robe and chastising him later. Here, we see two hearts laid bare. Until Saul's hatred of David, he never really did anything wrong in the sight of man. (In the sight of God, he did, but that doesn't enter here.) Saul's heart, however, was twisted and evil; it only needed his hatred of David to bring it out and to take him beyond trying to kill David to killing innocent women and children. David's heart, on the other hand, was pure, and when given a chance to kill Saul, David declined. That must be why Paul said that David was, "A man after God's own heart."
Romans 12: Romans has some good stuff today. (It always has good stuff, but I can't write a doctoral thesis every day.) Some of the stuff I never realized was in verse 19. Michelle's Translation: Don't take revenge. Let God do it for you. Sounds kind of mean, but hey, Paul said it, not me. I also like verse 18, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Note that Paul does not say, "Live at peace with everyone." Paul recognizes that sometimes force is necessary. Then there's verse 16 that says, "Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position." That was probably the most convicting verse I've read today. I think I harbor more conceit in my heart than I realized. I'll have to work on that.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I Samuel 21-22: Saul, the king of Israel, is still king, and still responsible for governing God's people. With those responsibilities comes protecting the land and dispensing justice. Saul allows his jealousy and hatred of David to lead him to
Abandon his post as king as he seeks to kill David, thus leaving the land unprotected.
Kill God's priests at Nob, whom he believes helped David in rebellion against him--a true injustice.
Kill the innocent women and children in the town of Nob--again, injustice--and he's causing it!
This is such a great illustration of how harboring hatred for another in our hearts can lead us to do evil in ways we never thought we could.
Yankees: Great job to my Yankees for officially clinching the AL East. Now if we can just win the World Series. And those of you working for Beelzebub—I mean Bud Selig—please work on the design for the playoff sweatshirts next year. This one is just blah. I’m not buying one—not even that nasty pink one you keep trying to pawn off to us serious chick-fans. (Although I must confess that I do have a pink Yankees hat. It’s muted pink, to go with my muted pink shirts. Hey, my accessories gotta match.)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Well, that’s it for my football season. Sims Jr. is out after spleen surgery. Drat! Unless the new Tampa Bay rookie turns into the next Tom Brady or Ben Rothlesburger (sp?), my Bucs are going to have a great shot at some good draft picks next year. And I hope Mr. Casey of the Carolina Panthers breaks his ankle. GRRR!
Fantasy Football: Great job, Pink Jeep Cherokees! Looks like my little speech last week helped. Everyone performed with excellence, giving me a win. Congrats all around—especially to Tatum Bell and Tom Brady. Feely, you’ve gotta get onto Eli Manning and get him to get you close enough to have more than one or two field goal attempts.
For more information on my debut novel, A Prophecy Forgotten, check out my website at http://www.elysianchronicles.com
Monday, September 18, 2006
To my boys in Yankee Stadium: You’ve played around with Boston long enough. The playoffs are not in the bag yet, so please don’t become complacent. You can become complacent when your magic number is 0, not 4. Win the next 4 games (so I can buy a playoff sweatshirt), and then take a break. And A-Rod, don’t even think about returning to August form. Jeter, good job on the 25 game hitting-streak. Tell Melky to get on base next time you’ve got to get a hit to keep the streak going. And Jorge, just…. Just don’t let the last part of last night happen until after you guys clinch the division. And will someone in the Red Sox clubhouse please tell Coco Crisp not to play so hard. Geez (sp?), you’d think the guy actually cared about the game or something. (Just teasing. Nice catch. Made me angry, but a really nice catch.)
To my boys in Tampa: Sims, what’s up with the 300 passing yards but three interceptions? You’re better than that. Get out there and silence the media about it. Oh, and please throw every single pass to Galloway. He’s on my fantasy team, and I’m about to yell at them.
To my Pink Jeep Wranglers: All right boys, laps for all of you. You’re all about the biggest bunch of underperforming pro-bowlers I’ve ever managed. My rookie is playing better than most of you are! Lamont Jordan, you’re just going to have to figure out a way to get around everyone despite the fact that your offensive line collapses the moment the quarterback yells “Hike!” Figure it out. The only reason I’m keeping you in is because I think the Raider’s new quarterback might take some pressure off of you. And Colts Defense, I’m ashamed. Your team being up by almost 40 points is absolutely no reason for you to take a nap in the second quarter. We fantasy football people are counting on you to maintain consistency even when you’re offense is up. And Tom Brady, I know that you got away with a big fumble during the playoff game against the raiders a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean the refs are going to give it to you every time. No more fumbling for you.
That's all for now. I'm expecting a much better performance (and a playoff sweatshirt) next week.
For more information on my debut novel, A Prophecy Forgotten, check out my website at http://www.elysianchronicles.com
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Today, what stood out the most was the friendship between Jonathan and David. Jonathan, the crown prince of Israel, basically knew that David--not him--would be Israel's future king, yet he loved David as a best friend. Jonathan loved David so much that he was willing to create tension between he and his father to help save David's life. Sometimes I wonder if I have that kind of love toward anyone.
Also, I Sam 18 is about David running away from Saul. I wonder how David felt as he became a fugitive. The prophet Samuel had told David that he would be the future king of Israel, yet we know that David spend around ten years running from Saul. What did he think, then? Did he ever lose faith? Did he ever question whether or not Samuel was really a prophet or just a weak old man with too much olive oil? I must marvel at David's faith, in continuing to trust God, even when the world was going in a way that didn't make sense. I hope that when I begin to endure things that don't make sense, my faith will remain strong.
Psalm 127: 1-2 Unless the Lord builds the house, it's builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. I hope that I seek to labor on the homes that the Lord wants built.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Readings: I Samuel 17-18, Psalm 126, Romans 9
This was the David and Goliath chapter. We all know the story, so I won't bore anyone with the details. I remember doing a Sunday school lesson on this. I took a piece of tape and put it on the wall where Shaq's head would have hit (had he been there). The dude is over seven feet tall! Then I took a piece of tape and put it where Goliath's head would have been at nine feet. Egads! If you picture Goliath as two feet taller than Shaq with just as much mass per foot, you've got one big dude. And Goliath wasn't saying to the Israelites, "Let's fight each other." He was saying, "Send one man to fight me!" Now I don't know about the rest of you, but if I was an Israelite listening to him, I would be scared, mainly because I'd know that no one had a chance against Goliath. Maybe four soldiers who were quick with nice long bows could defeat him, but not one soldier. I for one, would not step foot on that battle field. As I read the story, I began to realize that my faith is sometimes just as weak as the faith of the Israelites, even after such a great weekend. I guess it was the Holy Spirit trying to keep me humble.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Writing Tip of the Day: Getting your character from one scene to another is like walking along a path. You don't want to focus on the path. You want to describe the journey.
I just went on a trip to Annapolis to do some on site research for my second book, Out of the Shadows. I’d like to thank my good friend Cheryl and her family for letting me tag along with them. It was the most amazing trip. We stayed in a rented house within walking distance of the Naval Academy and downtown Annapolis. I spent the whole weekend walking around the city and the campus trying to glean as much information as I could for the sequel of my novel, and I have the popped blisters on the back of both heels to prove it. This morning when I jogged, my socks ended up bloody. (Kurt Shilling has nothing over me—well, except that he can throw a fastball over 90 mph, a minor detail. But bloody socks aren’t everything, Kurt.)
I went to Annapolis knowing what I needed to find, but not exactly knowing how to find it. Little did I know that God basically had my entire trip planned out for me, and He took care of anything. Unfortunately, He did not pencil in "rest for Michelle" as one of His options. Let me tell you what I needed, and then what I discovered, so you can get a full understanding of how awesome God is:
1. I needed a football ticket to a sold out game so I could see the inside of Navy/Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (so I could write about it).
2. I needed to watch the midshipmen (Naval Academy cadets) do their march over to the football game so I could describe it in my book.
3. I needed to see the inside of Bancroft, the dorm, but no civilians are allowed in.
4. I needed to see plebes (freshmen) chopping (half-run/half-walk) through Bancroft. It's a form of plebe hazing. They have to shuffle down the middle of the hallway and yell, "Go Navy, Sir!" or "Beat Army, Sir!" each time they turn the corner. If they want to enter a room, they have to do a right angle turn on a deck plate. I knew all of this before I went, but I wanted to see it.
5. I needed to see the inside of a plebe's room on the forth floor. I also needed a room number. (My protagonist needs to sleep somewhere.)
6. I needed a coffee shop with: a) a back door, b) an area for a secret room, c) a restaurant right next to it, d) a street behind it that was residential instead of commercial that led to water if possible. An address of such coffee shop, if it existed, would be nice.
7. I needed to see every part of the Naval Academy that was on the water. (Can’t tell you why.)
8. This is the hardest to describe, but it is the most important. Tommy, my midshipman character, begins the story by deciding to look for Gabriella, his guardian angel (I call the cherubians in my novel) who was human for a while and disappeared. (Long story. It’s in my first novel, A Prophecy Forgotten) In APF, Tommy walks in on a few other cherubians who have morphed into humans and are attacking Gabriella. He goes into shock and forgets the incident for ten years until the beginning of my second novel, affectionately known as OOTS, when he dreams about the incident. Tommy notices, in his dream, that all of the guys who attacked Gabriella wore armor similar to the armor worn by Romans with holes in the back of their armor and their shirts (where their wings are when they are cherubians) so that Tommy can see the skin on their backs. The holes intrigue Tommy, and he begins wondering what the holes are for. To make a long story short, I needed a picture of an angel that Tommy could look at that would make him go, "Oh my, the holes are for their wings!" and realize that cherubians really do exist. I originally had something like this happening at his grandmother's house, but I needed it to happen at Annapolis, preferably at the Naval Academy. I wasn't sure what I was looking for.
That's a lot of needs for one trip. Look at how God answered them:
1. When I bought a ticket for the walking tour at the visitor’s center, I asked the lady if there were any tickets left for the game. She said that a friend of hers had given her their season tickets for that game, and that I could have one for twenty dollars. Right after that, the tour began. No wasted time.
2. The tour ended just out side the entrance of Bancroft, where the midshipmen had just lined up to do their march over. I followed them all the way to Memorial Stadium, and was totally inspired to add in stuff to my sequel that I hadn't thought of before. Again, no time wasted.
3. On Sunday, I woke up early to check out more stuff in the city while the Cheryl and her family slept. I returned five minutes before they left for breakfast (coincidentally). I went to breakfast with them, and then their son (a midshipman) took us inside Bancroft--the only day when civilians are allowed in.
4. There, I saw plebes "chopping."
5. Their son (you're not going to believe this) lives on the fourth floor of Bancroft. He showed me a plebe room close to his. I now have Tommy’s room number and a detailed picture of what is outside his window.
6. On Saturday, I took a wrong turn in the morning when I was heading for the Naval Academy. I probably ended up two miles out of my way, and right in front of a coffee shop with a) a back door, b) an area for a secret room, c) next to a restaurant, d) a residential area behind it, e) that led to water. I also have its address: 49 west street. Oh, and it’s on the exact same side of the street that I envisioned when I wrote the original scene, and the restaurant is on the correct side (has to be after the coffee shop if you're walking away from the Naval Academy). It is also laid out the exact same way as I imagined it, with the bar on the right side.
7. After half-time, I left the football game and walked around the perimeter of the Naval Academy that was on the water. I took careful notes.
8. When I toured the Naval Academy chapel, I saw a stained glass window one hundred feet tall—seems like it, anyway. The stained glass window is called “Admiral Farragut Memorial Window,” and it depicts Michael, the archangel, directing the admiral in action. Michael is wearing Romanesque armor—just like my cherubians and just like the armor Tommy would have seen in his dream. It was exactly what I needed. What is so weird is that I had no clue this picture was in the Nave (as they call the chapel) when I began writing this Elysian Chronicles trilogy. I had no clue Tommy was going to go to the Naval Academy, either. Truly a miracle.
“Good morning, Seraph Davian. Would you like some tea?”
“Good morning to you, my dear Marcus. Tea would really hit the spot. You know, I just love wandering around in the woods with absolutely nothing to do.”
“Two lumps, please. What I like best is hiding from all of my enemies, who are too far away to be a bother right now. They’re so unskilled, and we’re so skilled that they have no chance of even finding us.”
“Please. Makes me wonder why I even carry this heavy sword around.”
“I agree, sir. Your sword does make you look a little too rough. And you should shine that breastplate up a bit. It makes you look like you’ve seen too many battles.”
“Quite right, Marcus. I was thinking of cutting my hair and shaving so Seraph Salla would respect me. I notice you took three baths yesterday.”
“That I did, sir. You know how much I hate smelling like the woods. So what future battle should we talk about today?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Marcus. Those battles won’t happen for such a long time. Maybe we should discuss logistics and weaponry.”
“Would you like a crumpet, sir?”
“Crumpet? Do you have any brambleberry tarts from yesterday?”
“Plum out of those, sir.”
“Plum out? Dear me. Crumpet it is then. You know something, Marcus. I think I like being in this book more that I liked being in the last one.”
“Why is that, sir?”
“Because nothing seems to be happening right now in this one. I’m not tracking down clues to a conspiracy, my life isn’t on the line, I haven’t seen the enemy in ages, and I’m getting along with you and all the other soldiers in my unit just fine.”
“No thank you, Marcus. I must say, this really is a splendid tea.”
Grab your swords, boys. All hell is about to break loose. (Excuse the cliché. I’m not yet done cutting the crust off my watercress sandwich. Tea anyone?)
P.S. Thank you to Michael Campbell for giving me the idea I needed to bring in some good, old fashioned conflict. And if you don’t know who Marcus and Davian are or why the idea of Marcus taking three baths a day is about as likely as me becoming the Pope, you will just have to read my first book, A Prophecy Forgotten.
I just finished the pre-draft for my second novel, Out of the Shadows—seven days before my artificial deadline of June 30. It took 2 hours to print—406 pages and probably half a printer cartridge. It’s a heavy sucker, too—not exactly something I look forward to dragging around while I’m trying to edit it. It’s not the first draft—just the pre-draft, basically a rough skeleton of my story without any description or character development. It’s also missing pieces of information—lots of pieces, just like a half-done jigsaw puzzle. Ugh! Two to three years worth of work and it’s still full of holes.
I’ve set the artificial deadline for my first draft at the end of the July. I feel like that is pushing it, but then, I thought setting my pre-draft deadline for June 30 was pushing it, too. I’ll be spending this next month reading the thing, searching for holes, creating timelines so everything will flow, making sure the seasons are described. (With A Prophecy Forgotten, I totally forgot that most of the novel took place in winter. I didn’t realize that I had forgotten to add snow until I watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the movie theater. While everyone in the theater gasped at Czechoslovakia’s (or whatever country it is now) snow-covered scenery, I was choking because I realized that my own little world had no snow. That’s what living in Florida will do. Gosh, now that I think about it, I forgot to describe the spring flowers at the end of the book. Dag nab it!) I also have to do research on the Naval Academy and surrounding Annapolis so when my heroes are running through the town for their lives, the residents of Annapolis won’t be laughing at me. Does anyone out there have any good military jokes, preferably Army/Navy or Navy/Marines?
Saturday, September 09, 2006
I guess the thing that stood out to me the most in I Sam is the anointing of David. I wonder what was going through his head. If he's anything like me, he was probably worried about how he would become king, if he would have to dethrone Saul, if people would accept him or not as king, and whether he, as a youngest son and shepherd boy, really had what it took to lead the country of Israel. If I were David, I know I would be constantly worried about the path I would take, as I am now. I know God wants me to write for him, but I'm not sure about the path I should take. What's funny is that immediately following David's anointing, God causes an evil spirit to torment Saul. Saul wants a harpist, and one of his advisors just happens to know David. POOF! David ends up in Saul's court as a musician. Just like that. The kid didn't do anything at all. I know that God is telling me that I need to relax and let him take care of the details. (Of course, David probably practiced his harp daily, and his poetry, so he wasn't exactly sitting on his butt waiting for stuff to happen.
Romans 8 is always such an in-depth chapter. I always get something new out of it. This time, what stood out the most is that "the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." I don't really understand what Paul means by this, but I know that I can see the earth groaning, just through earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, etc.
I'll leave you with this:
Romans 8:38 I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor dept, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.