29 October 2007

Camping 101

What I learned from camping:

  1. It's best to spoil yourself when camping: steak and salmon for dinners and the like. It helps if you pack a Master Chef with you for just such an occasion. This is why I take my husband with me.

  2. Coffee tastes better percolated outside.

  3. Full moons are just as bright as the dawn.

  4. Also bring with you a pyro. They make the best campfires (um, my husband again).

  5. Watching a lake shimmer in the sun is better than DVR.

  6. Fires are hypnotic.

  7. If lit on fire, marshmallows are excellent carriers of fire and can easily ignite other items such as sweatshirts and chairs.

  8. The only time hot dogs taste good is cooked on an open fire.

  9. You get a lot of exercise just doing everyday things, like walking up to the bathrooms, taking out the trash, and hiking, so packing things like chips, hot chocolate, and the makings for s'mores is okay.

  10. I can get dressed laying down.

  11. At night, that walk up to the bathrooms can't be bothered with. Squatting behind the tent is fine. Pack toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

  12. No matter how clean the showers are and if they get hot water, nothing will feel so good as a steamy shower in your own bathroom when you get home (followed by a good night's sleep in your bed rather than an air mattress that you suspect is losing air).

  13. The Creator God must really love us to give us these trees and water and deer nibbling by and yellow and blue and orange butterflies fluttering this way and that and grasshoppers playing along the path.

  14. For the last one, you'll have to go to the Misfit blog. I will tell you this: it has to do with fire.

Review--The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I had this written and was waiting to post it when Mich put some of her thoughts on it on the Misfits blog. So here are mine.

Stark. Desperate. Severe. Agitated.

I don't know how often I agree or disagree with Oprah, and I'm certainly not one to go against Pulitzer Prize people (okay, so I might if I wanted to), which means, in the end, that, friends, readers, countrymen, please read this book.

As you well know, it's a postapocalyptic story of a man and his son, the survivors of a world tragedy (most likely nuclear). It's about their unlife, their struggle, and their jealousy of the dead.

Creation undoing itself (rather, man undoing creation), returning to chaos. Few survive, and you don't know who to trust. Man reveling in evilness, and that in itself seems to be required to live. Who are the good guys and the bad guys? When struggling to live, what is acceptable? Where does goodness come in and how far will it take you? Does love count for anything?

That's what this book is about.

I was talking to a friend about the book. He said, "But nothing ever happens."


Tribulation times are not the stage for Rambo. They won't be solved by a good Van Damme kicking. Mir made the point that this is exactly why The Road is a better depiction of end times than Left Behind. There are no toys and coalition to defeat evil. It's you taking one step at a time, making decisions that will affect your life and your character.

The writing itself, the look, the feel, the sound, everything reflects the subject matter. It doesn't use flowy, lush words when there's nothing flowy or lush about the world of the book. Even apostraphes and quotation marks are too much to bear. The dialogue is true and real and shows the labored breath and the arduous journey and the desperate love.

One more thing, and I'll leave you be. The characters. A man and a boy. Could be any man or any boy. Any father and son. Names are a thing of the past, relegated to a world that no longer exists. What is important is carrying the fire. And to keep moving, as Mich said.

Mentor Monday--I Am Not Prince Hamlet

Today, we have a guest blogger--Luke Damoff (who can also be found at his blog, hints and guesses). Besides being the son of the amazing writer, Jeanne Damoff, Luke is known for his poetry and for his heart for missions. Currently, Luke serves in Cote d'Ivoire doing medical missions. No, Luke is not a doctor. However, he felt called by God to heal the wounded in Africa so he works in the dispensary. (As far as I know, Luke has not brandished a scalpel or other surgical instrument, although I believe he plays guitar.)
For this blog, I asked that Luke be willing to share his struggle. He's only been in Africa for four or five weeks.
With that being said, I'll hand the mic to Luke...

There is an axiom, "The safest place to be is in the center of God's will." I believe this holds in all circumstances, even in ones we normally would consider quite dangerous. In the minutes preceding the martyrdom of Thomas à Becket, T. S. Eliot writes him as saying, "I am not in any danger, only very near to death." Such is the immense power of confidence one can have in the promises of God to His children. Certainly we may find God's will leads us to martyrdom, but we must not think this is a dangerous thing; but rather, for us as believers, the only thing we should consider dangerous or worth avoiding is God's disapproval if we turn the way of Jonah. Since I certainly believe that God has ordained my going to Cote d'Ivoire I draw a lot of courage from such confident statements. But at the same time, when I look inside myself, I see only weakness and doubt. I am not a martyr and I am no great hero of the faith; I do well to remember to get up each morning for my daily devotions.
Of course the questions that accompany uprooting oneself from home and traveling to a foreign land for a year would be problematic by themselves. But to be honest, I have no idea why I, out of all God's children, am called to be here. Oh me of little faith. I recognize that there are aspects to my personality that make it easier for me to live cross-culturally than others, but by no means am I the best suited person I know for cross-cultural living. In the month I have so far been in Cote d'Ivoire my experience has been primarily defined by frustration at the language barrier, feelings of ineptitude, and doubts as to whether or not I even know what God's calling sounds like. I know hardly anything about medicine or health even though I work at a dispensary. I know hardly any French, and most of what I know about Ivorian culture I have learned since my arrival.
There is, consequently, a constant and great temptation to withdraw; to simply wait out the coming year in my room reading and playing guitar until I get back on the plane for America . Already I struggle with counting how many weeks I have been here (4) and how many I have before departure (48). On every side there is doubt as to why I am here, and the struggle to obey God's calling on me to be with these people and love them. And there is no satisfactory response to these crushing crises of faith than to say, "I believe this is what You want from me. Help Thou my unbelief." And that is it. There is no certainty, only a tenuous belief. At times this is enough for a small confidence, but other times I think that I may have gotten it all horribly wrong. And while I certainly hope such reactions are simply a part of the unavoidable culture shock experience and that they will pass in a month or so, even if they don't, the Lord has made known what He requires of me. I am to follow His will, as best as I can ascertain it, no matter how ill-equipped I feel to carry it out, or how much doubt I have over whether or not I got it right.
I claim neither wisdom nor vast experience, but it seems to me the longer and deeper I follow Christ the more doubt I face. When growing up in the church I was dutifully told that doubt is not the opposite of faith. Tension is part of the life of the Christian, and it is how God makes us grow. But when one is thousands of miles away from home at the beginning of what seems like an interminable year away from friends and family, one would prefer to not have to live in any more tension than necessary. I would love to know every minute of every hour that this is precisely what I was supposed to be doing, but contrary to what I might wish God is not about the business of giving His children such luxuries. If we are to follow Christ doubt will hound us. His promise is not that we will be certain, or confident, but that He will always give us the faith we need, and carry us to His rest. This is enough, we are safe in the hands of our loving Savior, and dare I say that is much more than we deserve.

26 October 2007

Review--The Restorer by Sharon Hinck

To be perfectly fair, the fantasy genre is not my expertise, just so you know as you read my thoughts on this book.

Susan is stuck and depressed. She can't take one more argument between her kids. Her husband, Mark, decides to build her a getaway in the attic--a space where no one but her is allowed, where she can journal and pray and read to her heart's delight. But God had a different getaway in mind. Falling through a portal, she comes upon a nation threatened by war on the outside and by forgetting their identity on the inside. She learns that God sent her as their Restorer.

It's entertaining, and it has a good message. She does a good job with setting and descriptions and an excellent job with characterization. I knew these characters. The book also motivated me to memorize Scripture. We used to do this as kids, but at some point, it stopped seeming important. After all, I have 3,258 Bibles in my house. I can look anything up. Why memorize? But Sharon depicted both the power of lies to poison our thinking and lives and the power of Scripture to combat those lies.

For mothers out there struggling with their purpose now that their lives are consumed with laundry and dishes and snotty noses, this book that God has work for each one of us, including mothers, work for His kingdom. Susan finds out that her identity isn't wrapped up in her kids.

I liked it. I liked that the main character in the fantasy is a woman. To be honest, though, it felt more like an allegory than a true fantasy. More like Hinds Feet on High Places. Almost a long parable. A lot of one-to-one corollations. Lies poison the mind with physical devastation. The nation represent Israel (people that follow the Verses; they even have 2 lost tribes, sorry, clans). It was more like an Hans Christian Anderson story with a morality at the end than a Grimm's Fairy Tale. This is not a bad thing. It has its own power. Like I said, I found it both entertaining and it challenged me to memorize Scripture again. I just tend to prefer non-allegorical books.

A Diatribe in E-flat Minor

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a hater of technology. I like it. I like my laptop. I like my cell-phone. I especially like my coffee maker with the timer.
But sometimes it bugs me that now, because of technology, when you're with someone, you're not really with someone (Godfather, anyone?). You meet a friend for tea, but their cell phone rings half a dozen times, so in the middle of a heart-to-heart she breaks to talk to Suzy about bringing snacks for the next event.
Now, I happen to be lucky. I have a couple of wonderful friends who don't answer the phone just because it rings if we're having coffee together. I appreciate that.
Or there's the evening together--spent around the boob tube. Ah, yes. Some real bonding time. Stimulating conversation.
Today my husband and I leave to go camping, to get away from the TV and cell phone to have conversations and pray and wonder at the beauty.
Of course, I say all this, but if my cell phone were to have a day without service or my cable were to crash, then I'd be lashing out in major diatribes.
(Note: I just realized that I already have a label "diatribe." How often do I do this?)

25 October 2007

Writing Influences

Of course, there are thousands and thousands of influences--more than I know. From growing up on Anne of Green Gables and Nancy Drew and Janette Oke to digging in to Austen and Dickens to discovering new loves like Anne Tyler and Richard Russo and Lisa Samson. From practicing piano and flute to studying the symphony to poring over Kierkegaard.
But there are two things that I keep in the front of my mind:

1. One dance scene from a musical of which I can't remember the title, and
2. Hebrew poetry.

First, the musical: I remember the musical not being all that great. One song from it frequently gets stuck in my head, rather one line from one song. Some musicals resemble a two-term presidency: the first act too wrapped up in impressing you that it comes off on the idiotic side and the second act concerning itself with the story. This musical was the same. The second act was good. I could've done without the first.
Nonetheless, this one scene captured me. To set the stage: three sisters come home after the death of their mother and rediscover themselves and each other (we've seen it before). They grew up dancing together, and in this one scene, the youngest sister resurrects a dancing song. I don't remember the details, but she had to call out the steps and moves to her older sister (step, ball, change sort of thing). During the dance, the sisters get into more and more of a heart-felt, serious talk, all the meantime puncuated by "step, ball, change." I loved it. I loved how something everyday acted as an ostinato during their heart-to-heart. It both added to the tension but also kept it from being maudlin.
I want this in my writing. Life intersects. Kids don't stop fighting over the Batman toy just because your best friend called in tears. It meshes together.

Second, the Hebrew poetry. Two things in particular: metonymy and symbolic parallelism. Metonymy is a figure of speech where a word or phrase is substituted with another associated with it. It's saying "The White House said" rather than "The President said." It's claiming that "the hand of God was upon him" rather than "He acted with God's power." Sometimes it's taking a piece of something to represent the whole, or the whole to represent just a piece. I could give you thousands of examples, illustrations sometimes beautiful, sometimes shocking.
I want this in my writing. Pieces substituting for a whole. A grown woman crying because she lost her favorite stuffed animal as a child when really she's grieving her lost innocence.
And symbolic parallelism. Two lines in Hebrew poetry, both metaphors, usually, that echo the same thought.
In other words, my lists.
I love my lists. I can't resist them. Like in the beginning of my book about a single mom:

One of these days I’ll be able to say “single mother” without retching or having visions of Craig’s death, one where he falls out of a boat at Lake Wallenpaupack and gets caught in the propellers, one where he gets lost skiing in the Poconos and eventually gets eaten by wolves, and one where he gets poisoned by one of the hers when she discovers another of the hers.
Lists of painful and untimely deaths.
Reading Hebrew poetry my whole life, is it any wonder I love metaphors?

23 October 2007


Blank canvas syndrome.We all experience it. Okay, not all, but we don't like the people who don't. We talk about them behind their back.
Everyone tells you to put butt in chair and write anyway. Anne Lamott looks at her one-inch picture frame for inspiration.
I have no such words of wisdom.

The rest of the non-wisdom post is at the Misfits.

22 October 2007

Mentor Monday

Today I'm going to tell you about a woman I've never met but have long admired. I don't know much of her ministry, but what I do know challenges me daily.
She had nothing.
She was a widow, poor. But she loved God and determined to give Him everything.
The money she gave was neglatory compared to what the wealthy and businesses give just to get their tax write-offs. But she gave it all, and her motives were pure.
Not many noticed her. Her life was quiet, nondescript even. But it's a beautiful example of the poor ministering for Christ.
What she did makes me rethink our vacation and HDTV savings.

21:1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. 21:2 He also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 21:3 He said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 21:4 For they all offered their gifts out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in everything she had to live on.”
Luke 21:1-4,

21 October 2007

The High Calling

“I don’t deserve to be treated like this,” the patient yelled at me.
Neither did I.
“If the doctor is running late, I should be called.
Don’t you know that I have better things to do with my time?”
Didn’t he know that I had better things to do with mine?
These days, liberal arts degrees are used more often to answer phones than to wax Shakespearean. Many find contentment and meaning in their job is a rare thing indeed. In fact, Paul describes contentment as a secret, something not everyone comes by.

Today, I have an article up at The High Calling, an ezine dedicated to encourage believers to see their work as valued by God and as glorifying to God. You can read the rest of the article, "God's Secret to Contentment at Work," here.

19 October 2007

A Cup of Creativity

To get your weekend going...

Yesterday I went back to the English classes I guest taught last week to hear the stories they wrote. The eighth and ninth graders used the hero's journey to structure their stories, most of them taking the bones we created last week and fleshing them out, a few going down a different path. Let me tell you, those kids stepped up. We had psychadellic horror (Mich, Chris--you guys would've been so proud), a more Catcher in the Rye feel (with a scruffy beagle), a Disney bent story, a mafia tone. We had it all. One girl had perfect dialogue and character development. Another did an amazing job with her POV. One guy--the horror guy--well, we'll have to watch for him. His descriptions, tension, and flow almost made me jealous.

And the sixth graders with their Halloween stories--scary, gory, and with humor. All creative.

Here's my point--when do we unlearn creativity?

I taught junior highers at a church for a bit. Loved it. At one point, I taught a series on the life of Jacob. From the beginning, I told them that at the last session, they would teach me. They could use whatever method they wanted to embody the story. It's church. Not required. I didn't expect much.

I was wrong.

These kids, ever single one of them, not only worked hard to prepare something, but they all displayed creativity in different ways--song, drama, powerpoint, drawing. And they got the point of the whole series. They understood.

As adults, we stop being creative. We've told ourselves one too many times that we're not creative, that fingerpaints isn't good enough, that creativity is for a few people who are left-brained (or is it right-brained? I can never keep that straight!). Or we're too busy. Who has time for creativity? By the end of the day, about all we can do is flop on the couch with a remote.

So I have a challenge. (Chal-lunge! What movie is that from? Where some sumo-type guy walks around saying, "Chal-lunge!") Actually, it's two part.

Part one: go to SoulPerSuit to register to win a coffee cuff. I shouldn't tell you this because if you register, then I have less of a chance to win one, but Erin (of They Hang Like Paper Lanterns notoriety) is one of the coolest people I know. If she could bottle some of her creativity, it would sell like iPods, and you need to know about this particular product she's handmade.

Part two: color in a coloring book or use fingerpaints or sculpt with Play-Doh or doodle with fun gel pens (the sparkly ones are the best). Personally, I have recently discovered an obsession with yarn: fuzzy yarn, sparkly yarn, ribbony yarn, yarn that looks like Mardi Gras, yarn that feels like kitten fur, yarn that has reminds me of dreadlocks. So I'm spending the weekend knitting. I'll color some too. Report back on Monday.

You know what I think? (Well, you must have some curiosity on the subject seeing as how you're reading this blog.) Since all of us have a piece of the image of God embedded in us, we all have the capacity for creation and creativity--not that we can create from nothing, conjuring up dust into humans, but we can all create. The question is, will we?

17 October 2007

What's Running through My Mind

(and maybe why I can't sleep)

As I lay in bed this morning listening to the high school band rehearse a few miles away with the tick-tick-ticking of their metronome, these questions went through my brain:

What did poor Mr. or Mrs. Bubonic do to get such a devastating disease named for him or her?

How on earth can one 50-yard skein of yard cost $100?

What goes through a dog's brain? We know they have emotions. We know they can be trained. What else do they know, and do they think we're idiots?

Is cancer more prevalent now than 100 yrs ago or just more diagnosed?

Are mold and mildew effects of the Fall?

In the Swiss Filtration System, how is caffeine rinsed out of coffee beans without flavor being washed out?

Why did the writers change up the roles in House and will it make the show over-cast?

Will we lose vowels in language due to text-messaging and return to a Hebrew system?

Why is it that someone who is afraid of turning thirty is also excited to learn of a local knitting club?

Why do people I haven't seen, talked to, or thought about in a decade show up in my dreams?

Are humans decaying--not just individually but as a whole?

Will I be able to fly in the New Earth? Will there be dinosaurs and unicorns?

Mmmm--will my homemade apple sauce go well with pancakes?

Bueller? Bueller?

16 October 2007

The Pursuit of Happiness

Is it a God-given right as our handy-dandy Declaration of Independence
I struggle with this question.
On the one hand, let's be honest, I pursue it everyday. Who doesn't want to be happy? If you pursue a bad state of being, we call you a masochist and give you happy drugs.
On the other hand, what would Job say? After everything was taken away from him and he sat in ashes in mourning demanding an answer from God? I guess the very nature of the fact that Job demanded an answer shows that he believed he had the right to be happy--after all, he lived a righteous life. So the appropriate question would be, what would God say? God swept in and said, Where were you when I created everything? You have no right.

For the rest of the post, pursue the Misfits.

15 October 2007

Mentor Monday--All without Air-Conditioning

I was so proud of myself, of us, really. My husband, my parents, and I decided one Christmas morning to serve breakfast at a homeless shelter called GodTell.
Yes, so spiritual.
We spooned eggs on to their plates along with toast and hash browns, orange juice and coffee, and a smile, of course. Then I played some carols on the piano. Mary took us on a tour: the rooms, neat and clean, the storage area with diapers stacked and donated clothes hung, the bathrooms, scrubbed and sanitized.
Maybe it was Thanksgiving. Which would have meant giving up watching the Macy's Day Parade.
So spiritual.
The group consisted of mostly men, a couple of women, and one mother with her three children.
Then my husband, my parents, and I went home to our turkey dinner and mashed potatoes and hot wassail.
Yes, yes, so spiritual.
GodTell is run by Mary and Martin, whose desire it is to shower the down-and-out with God's love, to give them food, a place to stay, clothing, job interview helps, and the Word of God.
After breakfast, on a typical day, Martin teaches a short Bible study. Then the tenants have to leave. They can't come back until 4:00.
They have to look for a job.
They have no suits on their backs and a brown bag with a sandwich and maybe chips or an apple in hand. They have their resumes, spiffied and shinied-up with the help of Mary and Martin and a few other volunteers. They're ready to conquer the world. At 4:00 they come back. Each has chores to finish before dinner to keep the place going.
The goal: those who come to GodTell won't need to be there long. They'll find new jobs, new homes, a new life. In the meantime, they have food, shelter, clothing, and love.
There's one couple, though, that will never leave. Mary and Martin.
They live their full-time in a trailer next to the tenants' home. And since the tenants don't have air-conditioning, neither do Mary and Martin. Did I tell you that this is in hot and muggy southeast Texas?
But sometimes God's love looks that way. Living with the poor. Without air-conditioning.

11 October 2007

This morning, part deux

Two things I want to continue from this morning:

First, the speaking was plain, old-fashioned fun, especially the eighth and ninth graders. We went through the hero's journey (using Wizard of Oz), then we used it to come up with our own plot. The kids will take those bones and write their story, adding ligaments and tendons and muscles and flesh and all that jazz. I can't wait to hear how they turn out next week. These kids have talent. The story? A beagle has to save his parents from a mad scientist.

With the sixth graders, we did a Halloween scene and practiced using the five senses to increase the scary factor (Mich, I thought of you the entire time with their haunted houses and cemeteries and werewolves and zombies and pictures with eyes that follow you). These kids had a harder time focusing, but the ideas shot out like fireworks.

It energized me, seeing brains open up (not literarly, for those of you still on the Halloween theme).

Second thing (still regarding creativity), you need to see a picture of my beloved Nancy Drew pad. It's small and goes every where with me. A friend saw it in Barnes and Noble and thought instantly of me. I'm glad she did. I suspect that I could not be a writer without it (especially considering the memory factor).
Imagine her worn on the edges, and filled with ideas: dialogue snippets, settings, observations while in the train station, and you have one of my best friends in this writing world.
By the way, Christianne, yes, the pic is from this year's ACFW, and good memory re: last year's pic. Impressive. The memory I used to have...

Memories, in the corner of my mind

I used to remember things. Whole paragraphs I'd tuck into a pot in the back of my mind without needing to write them down. They'd simmer and, when, ready, I'd collect them, full of spices melding flavors.
Now, I have an idea for a post, and by the time I type in the URL, poof! It's gone.
I make a better magician than an historian.
No matter. I plug ahead.
This morning I have the opportunity to guest teach on writing and being a writer. In one class, we'll talk about setting and using your five senses to create the stage and how that contributes to the story itself. In the other class, we'll talk about the hero's journey. Should be fun. I'll have to let you know how it goes.
Hopefully I'll remember things.
It's a good thing I have my handy-dandy Nancy Drew pad in my purse for just such occassions.

09 October 2007

Creativity on Nick-at-Nite

The war was against the pirates.

No, it's not Pirates of the Caribbean. It's my dream. Go to the Misfits to read the rest.

08 October 2007

Mentor Monday

A couple of weeks ago, before I got distracted by the land that I love (aka New Jersey), I told you about the upcoming Mondays that would highlight people incarnating Christ's love and truth. The time is here.

I've decided to call it Mentor Monday because these are people that are doing what I talk about doing. The Apostle Paul said in one of his letters that the new believers should emulate him. These are people I want to emulate.

The truth of the matter is that there are thousands of ministers and missionaries who have given up corporate salaries, powerful positions, and limosine lives in order to serve God in professional ministry. My husband and dad are two faithful examples of these servants.

But for now, I'd like to highlight those who are specifically serving the poor. These are people who help the poor build businesses, spoon soup into the mouths of the hungry, play soccer with the leper, kiss the boo-boo of an orphan, and knit blankets for a local shelter. These are the Mother Theresas, the Shane Claibornes. These are the little Christs. They live overseas, and they live in our neighborhood. As I mentioned before, if you know someone like this, please email me at heatheragoodman [at] yahoo [dot] com.

For the big kick-off, I'd like to tell you about Carmen.

I met Carmen in 1995 at an orphanage in Honduras. More like saw her hugging this child, kissing that girl's scraped elbow, kicking the fútbol around with some of the teenagers. She mothers a whole lotta kid at Hogar de Niños Nazareth.

No wonder her back hurts sometimes.

This orphanage, run by Mama Carmen--if you hadn't guessed--doesn't see adoptions. No Angelina Jolie flying in to save the world. But Carmen has made a home for all of them, the abandoned, the lost, the parentless. They have a farm, chickens, and a cow, both to feed the orphanage but also to sell in the local village to help sustain the facilities. Carmen trains the kids with vocational skills, such as sewing, woodworking and welding, so that when the time comes, the new adults will leave the orphanage prepared to support themselves and contribute to the economy of a Two-Thirds World country. The children also receive spiritual training, including a Sunday walk to the local church and daily prayer.

Carmen's ministry started with two abandoned girls. Carmen was 19 at the time. She broke ties with the convent she was serving in (who refused to take the two girls) and broke the law by taking in children that were not her own. She had no job and no money, but she had God's love, and she knew that was enough. With the help of a group of mothers of children she had taught previously and Air Force soldiers who volunteered their time when they found out what she was doing, Carmen turned an abandoned and disrepaired house into an orphange, into a home.

Now she has close to 200 children in her care.

Through the years, God continued to provide helpers--local farmers, crazy estadounidenses (U.S. citizens), and "graduated" orphans who stay on as staff.

Carmen says that her greatest challenge is making sure that the children feel like they're in a family rather than a facility. But her love covers that. After all, it's Christ's love.

For more information on Carmen, the children of Hogar, or All God's Children, the nonprofit that helps support the ministry, visit their website.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him...If you do away with the yoke of oppression…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched landand will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail…you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Isaiah 58:6-12

07 October 2007

Review - Leaper by Geoffrey Wood

This book is quirky, provocative, and hilarious. Over-caffeinated barista (baristo if male?) James discovers God has given him a super-power--leaping (or transporting) from one place to another. It's an odd power, he knows, but it's there. The question is, should he use it for good? Even if it gets him into trouble? The guy's a worry-wart and has trust issues, which makes for some laugh-out-loud (literally--just ask the people next to me on the plane to Jersey) stream of conscious. And the dialogue! It crackles and sparks like dry wood. It is dry humor, after all.

While there is some Catholic theology that I don't agree with, it also addresses questions of faith and the true purpose of the gifts God gives us.

Guys, you need to read this book. Seriously. You will not regret it. You will laugh. Loud and hard. I'm thinking of emailing the author to become his publicist. If you like Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity, A Long Way Down), if you are one of the lucky ones to have seen a sneak preview of My Name Is Russell Fink by the illustrious (I'm not even sure I know what that means) Mike Snyder and liked it, than you'll like this book. Trust me on this one.

05 October 2007

New Jersey in a 1000 Words or Less

I'm back. Visiting your roots, your childhood and your parents' childhoods, refreshes the soul.
Since this was a research trip for me (and it worked--it answered a lot of questions about my current WIP and got some ideas germinating for two more), I took pictures. Tons of pictures (if a picture is worth a 1000 words, how many words does that make--and, more importantly, Misfits, does that count toward my daily word count?).
Here are a few (I'll try to keep it down):

Since I told you about Eastern State Penitentiary: here's what would greet you at the entrance, although from pics I saw of the original, he was added later.

Philadelphia City Hall: you can't really see much of the tower on the right side, but on the top stands William Penn (guess what: Pennsylvania was not named after him but after his father 'cause a good Quaker would never name anything after himself).
Elfreth Alley: oldest houses in the States still lived in. The road is teeny tiny.

A building on Haddon Ave in Collingswood, one of the two towns in NJ where I grew up.

The church I grew up in.

You know I had to put a pic of the shore. My mom and I stayed in Ocean City for two days. These morning clouds worked their way inland giving us Irving Berlin blue skies and the perfect temperature in the afternoon.

Christ Church cemetery (partially dedicated to Angie): where Ben Franklin and four other signers of the good ole Declaration that started it all are buried (as well as some other interesting folk)

01 October 2007

Today you'll find me frolicing (frolicking?) in Misfit sand.