Wonder Woman: Being a Warrior is a Good Thing

Perhaps you’re finished with all the Wonder Woman hype. As long as there are new thoughts popping up about this superhero, I’ll be writing about her on my blog.

After all, in the realm of “holding out for a hero,” Wonder Woman has been worth the wait.

Last week, I wrote about Wonder Woman’s pure motives and how that makes her a better kind of superhero than most of the Marvel and DC creations.

When my Social Media Jedi shared an article on my Facebook timeline, I realized there was another reason to give Diana Prince accolades. She isn’t the original female warrior, that would be Eve.

Yes, I do mean Eve, the mother of all living. The one who God made to be a helper for Adam and who Satan convinced wasn’t living up to her full potential without the Fruit.

Woman as Warrior

As Ms. Sanchez pointed out in the article mentioned above, the very word translated “helper” is the same word used to describe God as a help during battle.

God created women to fight alongside their man (or their friends or family or whoever).

In another famous passage about women, Proverbs 31, several of the words used are generally used to describe soldier or battle. Even the word translated “virtuous” in Proverbs 31:10 is translated at “valiant” everywhere else in the Old Testament. And refers to warriors, men of valor, strong and might men.

Apparently, that seemed a little unfeminine for the translators. Shame on them for not seeing women as the warriors they were created to be.

Other words in the Proverbs 31 description of this woman also refer to soldiers. Like bringing her food from afar which refers to hunting (31:14) and girding up her loins (31:17) which is military terminology for suiting up for battle.

Women were never created as weaker or less than man. God intended for them to fight alongside others, helping win the battle against sin and evil.

Warrior with a Cause

It only takes once to get between a mother bear and her cub for an ignorant soul to learn a lesson. If they survive.

Women have many causes worth fighting for. Not the least of these is their marriage and their children. The world will try to weaken a marriage with everything from career promotions that take a spouse away to office romances.

And children arrive in our world helpless. Their mothers step up to provide everything the child needs for survival: food, drink, clothing, shelter and love. (And yes, people do need love as much as they need the physical necessities.)

When the child is sick, she fights the fever. When the child is in danger, she jumps to protect and shield him.

Women look on others with compassion and it gives them a passion to fight for the rights of the downtrodden. I love that Sanchez points out that shedding tears is not a weakness, but is a sign of having a heart closer to Christ’s.

The best part about a woman warrior is that her weapon doesn’t generally shed blood (but she will pick up that kind and use it when necessary). It cuts a conscience to the quick or snips through the BS and to the heart of the matter.

What are some other causes women fight for? Do you feel like a warrior in your life?

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Something for Everyone in I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

Once you pick up this book from Julie Hunt, skip right to chapter 25 and you’ll see why a review of it appears on my “No Fear This Year” blog. I’M ABOUT TO GET UP is a memoir about grief written from a Christian perspective, but it has nuggets of truth to help anyone who wrings their hands when faced with death.

You’re at the funeral, next in line. The family stands there, red-rimmed eyes glistening with tears, hugging each person in turn. What will you say?

I’ll confess that I avoided a number of funerals in my younger years just because I couldn’t imagine how I would interact with the grieving family.

Until I was the grieving family. And I heard those cliché phrases that meant nothing or experienced the deep comfort of a wordless hug.

I’M ABOUT TO GET UP

about_to_get_up_coverThis book came to me before it released to the public. A publicist whose newsletter I follow invited me to be on the “launch team” for the book.

Since I’m intermittently writing my own grief memoir-ish book, I thought reading one would give me an idea how other approach the topic.

I’ll admit, it was difficult to read the book in December. Christmas has been a difficult time since 2009 when my grandmother graduated to Heaven a few days before the holiday.

Julie’s experiences are raw and real. She pulls you in to the Rainy Day with her and the grief she depicts resonates. It was too close to my own heart some days, so it took me a few weeks to get through the less-than-200-page book.

If you read nothing else, read the appendices. Here Julie lists all the things people want to know, the “where the rubber meets the road” practical things. Like what you can do for a grieving person, what NOT to say at the funeral (or any other time) and words that do offer help or hope.

In a world where people want to sweep the grieving process under the carpet, this book is just the dose of reality we need.

My Review

It was obvious from early in the book that Julie’s religious beliefs differed from mine. There were moments when my eyebrows scraped my scalp as I thought, “They did what?!”

Still, that’s not what this book is about. And Julie didn’t defend or expound on her specific spiritual ideals. Well, not the ones that had me gawping. The ones that had to do with facing grief head on? Yep, those she tackles.

Nothing can prepare you for the death of a loved one. I speak from experience at the bedside of a terminally ill mother. When they go, you grieve. A part of you shatters and needs time and care to be repurposed.

Julie goes chronologically through her own grieving process. This approach worked well, making the book read like a novel. If you like “based on actual events” reading, this book fits that bill.

Advice and encouragement for both those struck by grief and those attempting to minister to them is sprinkled throughout the prose. You won’t find sermonizing or patronizing in these pages.

In fact, the best part of the book is the practical, pro-active lists given in the epilogue and appendices.

I give four out of five stars to this book.

My Recommendation

This book is a must-read for every person in ministry. The glimpse inside a grieving heart will offer the best hands-on training a person could get without facing an actual death in the family.

Julie admits that she couldn’t read books when she was grieving, but I think this book is the sort that could be read to a grieving person. It is certainly an exceptional handbook for someone who fumbles with how to comfort others in the face of loss.

If you’ve been grieving a loss for a while and feel like the pain is still more raw than it should be, pick up this book. I promise you’ll see yourself reflected from a page or chapter, and you’ll be able to take the next step toward healing.

Thank you, Julie Hunt, for being real with all of us. Your journey will empower others so they can get up and get back to living.

What books helped you deal with grief and loss on a practical level?

Everyday Heroes Teach Unexpected Lessons

Maybe a hero is someone who showed you how to be a better person. You might not even have realized that person was heroic until much later.

It might have been a family member who showed unexpected tenacity in a difficult situation. From them, you learned that life was hard, sure, but also that the hardness didn’t have to crush you.

Stand up and fight against cancer or an unexpected accident that cripples you.

All of us have had a teacher or coach who imparted an unexpected life lesson to us.

For me, there were several:

  • My seventh grade language arts teacher made me believe I could be a writer
  • My freshman basketball coach showed me that no matter how little a person has to offer, every bit is important for the success of the team
  • I learned from a high school teacher that dreams don’t always look the way you expect them to…but that doesn’t make them any less amazing
  • A drill sergeant taught me that a positive attitude changes everything and affects everyone around you

The list could go on.

In this article from success.com, the author learned these lessons from everyday heroes.

  1. From her grandmother: nothing is impossible
  2. From her basketball coach: the greatest enemy of excellence is “good enough” (Here is double proof that coaches impact lives AND the athletics teach real life lessons as well as any sit-down subject in school)
  3. From an employer: learn from your mistakes

What can you add to this list? Share a lesson you learned from an unexpected source in your life.

One more day and July is gone

July, a month meant to be the dog days of summer. Going, going, gone.

The same can be said for another week.

Counting time week by week makes it whirl away at quite the clip. Maybe posting these memes wasn’t the best idea I ever had. *touches the gray hair at her temples*

Day after day, there’s so much to be thankful for. I’m having no trouble filling my calendar with #365DaysofGratitude. What about you?

What makes my gratitude sing this week?

Sunday

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Most of the time I get my scoops in a dish because an ice cream cone on a hot day is a big mess.

Monday

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My husband actually had one with RAT BAT written on it in bold, Sharpie letters.

Tuesday

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I love a good hike, but take my advice and don’t don new boots for the trail. Inner strength never gets old.

Wednesday

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In my (imaginary) mountain cabin, I have a pet bobcat. Even the wolves are too smart to mess with him.

Thursday

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Another Wonder Woman Thursday. I hope my actions can inspire others to heroics.

Friday

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Now that brings back memories from my short stint with college co-ed softball. The bruise on my left shoulder took on every hue in the dead-blood-cell rainbow.

Blink twice and August will be here. No matter how fast it flies, I’m so grateful to take the time to count my blessings.

How were you blessed this week?

A Cherished Journal

Life is never appreciated quite so much as when Death comes calling. The same is true of this journal chosen for the 2016 Cherished Blogfest.

As a writer, I have stacks of journals. Finely bound books with gorgeous illustrations…

Journals

Spiral notebooks covered in scrawling ink and lead…

Spiral Notebooks

And then there’s the Cherished Journal.

Cherished Journal

After I wrote in in the other night, I realized there were only five empty pages waiting to be filled.

Tears puddled. I flipped to the first page, lovingly inscribed by my mother. She purchased it during a ladies’ retreat with a group of women from church.

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Years from now, when I’ve forgotten what the lessons were about that October in Seaside, Oregon, this note from my mom will crackle like a fire in my heart.

Because three short months after she wrote those words, my mom graduated from this earthly plain. Now she waits in Heaven to impart more encouraging words – someday – when I have moved past this life.

This made me think, not for the first time, how neglectful we are of the people in our lives. People we love tend to see the worst from us. We pick up the phone and vent at them when a day turns mean.

How many times have I snapped at my husband because something or someone else hurt or irritated me? Too many to recount. And the thought shames me.

On the other hand, how often have I hugged him and told him what he means to me? Since the day my mother broke the earthly chains, this has happened more frequently.

But less so the further from that painful goodbye I travel.

Do I really need someone dear to me to depart in order to cherish those who remain?

It chills me to think this has become the way of things in my world. Casual words and flippant teasing dominates the conversation. What about meaningful remarks of sincere appreciation?

I hold the cherished journal in my trembling hands. It blurs. The dry ink can’t be touched by my teardrops.

Open Journal

But can my heart? Will I finally learn the lesson this simple gift – now filled with my own thoughts and plans – tries to teach me?

Don’t wait for Death to show you what is truly cherished.

Live today with words and deeds that cherish all those whose presence in your world is a greater gift than any book or heirloom or brightly wrapped parcel.

Who will you cherish today?

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Whose story is it anyway?

In a non-parody of a comedic television show, let’s take a moment to investigate the ownership of a published work. Recently, this author has been pondering this oft-debated issue, and I’ve come up with four possibilities.

One of the co-authors in the romance anthology Accidental Valentine posted on the topic July 16, 2015. Her points made me reconsider this whole notion that a story belongs to any one person.

I hope you’ll take the time to read Wendy Sparrow’s post on this topic, as well as the comments (there were only two at the time of this writing). I won’t attempt to paraphrase what she says because I don’t want to twist her original meaning.

And there is the crux of this issue for me. How can I know Shakespeare’s intended meaning a few hundred years after his death? 

If an author is still living, and of sound mind, I suppose we could interview them to find out what they meant. However, if we assume that words can take on a life of their own when formed into a story, is the original intention even the point?

Those questions are to give you a hint how my brain arrived at the four possible owners of a story. (And I’m not talking about copyright issues because we have laws that clearly govern those.) Once a story is penned, published and consumed, does the story belong to the author, the readers, the literary community at large or the characters?

Perhaps you have a fourth alternative. I hope you’ll share it in the comments.

Author

As an author, it’s no surprise that my first thought of ownership centers on the story’s creator. Surely, the one who created it should be able to say, “That’s my story.”

As Wendy Sparrow says in her post, ” authors pour a little bit of themselves into what they write, so taking the author’s opinion away from the work might strip it of some of its value.”

I would say authors pour heart and soul into whatever piece of fiction they’re working on. And creative non-fiction based on personal experiences takes an even bigger chunk. If the author holds back, the writing lacks authenticity.

Like Hemingway said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” (Read more on the debate of the true origination of this quote here.)

However, I can’t take full credit for any of the stories I’ve created. Something in the real world sparked the idea in my brain. It originated from that little seed. To grow it, I just kept expanding on the idea, asking “what if” until I had a solid story line.

Readers

I agree with Sparrow in that I am a reader first. I love to write. I live to write (or is that I write for a living?), but my first love is reading.

Once an author releases a story into the world through publishing, it settles into the hearts and minds of readers. Some stories are in the mind only as long as it takes to read them. Others embed themselves deep in the heart, offering up reminders of characters whose attitudes and experiences shaped my own worldview.

Do I write for readers? Yes. My stories are as much for them as it is for me. If I didn’t want to share it with someone, I wouldn’t.

Does that mean I’ve relinquished ownership to them?

What does that mean? Ownership, according to dictionary.com is “the state or fact of being a person who has or holds” some object. Ownership implies possession. If I possess it, it is mine.

Once I publish the story, I have consented to share its ownership. By making it available for public consumption, I’m sharing my creation. It’s like baking a cake. Everyone who consumes a part of the cake becomes owner of its deliciousness. I can’t take it back. It’s in them.

The same with written words. Once they are consumed, they become part of the consumer. That story is now part of the reader. It might go out as quickly as the cake. Or it might stay around for awhile (like the fat on my waistline from all the cake I’ve consumed over the years).

Sparrow says it well: “Authors want readers to invest in their stories…to become so involved that they care what happens to the characters. In some ways, we want to pass on ownership of our vision to the reader so that they immerse themselves in reading. It’s the only way a book becomes more than just text and becomes a journey.”

Literary Community

Once a book is published, it’s fodder for the public. One major voice in this realm is the literary community. You know who I mean, the professors at universities and English teachers at every level.

We’ve all suffered through a lecture on symbolism in some classic story or another. We were told the blue walls represented the author’s depression. The sword was a euphemism for death or power or kingship. (How can it be all three at once?)

In her post, Sparrow cited some literary figure and his theory on “The Death of an Author” (read more here if you’re interested). He’s one of many who believes if an author didn’t infer or state something in the text, it shouldn’t be later implied to be there.

Can we hear professors of literature everywhere sobbing?

Let’s face it, stories – especially fiction – are subjective. Each of us interpret the text through the stained glass of our own experiences. And the author did the same while they wrote it.

Can a story mean more than one thing? Certainly. It can live a thousand lives in the heart or mind of anyone who reads it and gleans meaning from it.

As an author, I want people to find themselves in my stories. I want them to relate to characters who are like them and find compassion for those who are completely contrary. Some of my writing is purely for entertainment, but even a short romance story I wrote had a deeper message: “breaking free from expectations takes determination.”

Characters

This is where my mind went after I read Sparrow’s post.

I might have birthed the story. In fact, I know I labored hard to perfect it on the page. It’s my baby. Or, I should say, it’s about a bunch of my babies. I’ve given them life by writing their story down and sharing it with others.

“Dream Architect” is whose story? Ashlin’s and Dylan’s. I told their story and submitted it to a publisher. The publisher liked it and bought the first American publishing rights to it. (So maybe the publisher is the owner of the story-for three years anyway.) Readers consumed the story.

But the story is about Ashlin and Dylan. It belongs to them. They lived it (as much as a fictional character can). They experienced the accidental encounter and the turmoil that followed. I wrote their experiences down and readers learned about them through reading, but the story is Ashlin’s and Dylan’s.

What do you think? Does a story have a single owner (possessor)? Do all of these people share in ownership of a story?

Life, Time and other Non-renewable Resources

Image courtesy of gacowallfoam.com

Growing up, I heard about water conservation and gas shortages. Sounded like another lesson to memorize, but it didn’t inspire me to take shorter showers or keep the faucet off while I brushed my teeth.

Sometimes, I think we’re as careless rationing the valuable resources that pepper our emotional biosphere. We waste time playing Candy Crush instead of choosing to interact with people around us. Procrastination paves our daily to-do lists with something other than lines indicating accomplishment.

Sometimes it takes an emotional earthquake to shake us out of our wasteful stupor. Time is valuable; once it is spent, there’s no bringing it back, and it can’t be hoarded like Scrooge McDuck’s gold. Life is more than lists. We can make a difference or we can trudge along, minding our own business.

Hours and days have been invested by me into the lives of middle school students. Many of these kids touched my heart. All of them meant more to me than a paycheck. (If you saw the size of the check, you’d understand I’m not really esteeming them all that highly.)

One student entered my classroom, a pixie of positive energy. Her voice, made more childish by a slight diction issue, spread feel-good fairy dust whenever I heard it. The round face of seventh grade matured to a lovely young woman’s features by the end of eighth grade.

I spent several hours each school day with this girl. Some days felt like weeks. She would probably say they drug on for a year. Hyperbole, a teenager’s best friend.

“The sixteen-year-old driver was killed in the crash.”

Image from OSP
Image from OSP

Time stalls for no one. It doesn’t give an extra second to those in desperate need. All that time I spent with her, not enough, non-renewable.

A winding road in the wee morning hours combined with the whir of the tires against pavement to create a lullaby. Snapping awake when the tires spun on the gravelly shoulder, the driver jerks the wheel. Too sharply.

The car rolls end over end. Seat belts strangle the two occupants. Air bags deploy to soften the impact. The windshield shatters, spraying glass shards into the front seats.

“Police suspect driver fatigue could be the cause of the accident.”

Only 16 short years of life – gone. No mulligans. No second chances. Life is a precious commodity and sadly, non-renewable.

Several months before this, almost two years after she spent all those hours in the classroom with me, I saw the pixie at the grocery store. Or I should say, she saw me. Ran up to me and threw her arms around me.

I’m not much of a hugger, but her affection softened my reserve. I returned the hug and asked about her life. School wasn’t going so well. There were so many activities at high school to distract from doing homework. She missed having someone like me to help her understand the assignments and encourage her to complete them.

She was floored when I said I wasn’t working at the middle school anymore. “But you were one of my favorite teachers.”

Precious words. The time wasn’t ill-spent. Meaning infused those years of my life. Apparently, the investment paid dividends.

What other “non-renewable resources” do you see being wasted or well-used in our world? Don’t let it take an earthquake to make you consider conservation and productive use of these irreplaceable commodities.

Your Choices Do Matter

Frost Road

Robert Frost is one of my favorite American poets. This line is from a short poem I memorized for a language arts class in high school and again recited for a college poetry class: “The Road not Taken.”

Who’s your favorite poet? Share a favorite line or title in the comments

A Mother’s Life

When you’re writing your mother’s obituary, it occurs to you that sometimes words fail. A life is more than education, residence, employment, awards and surviving family. All the column inches in the newspaper can never hope to capture the full story.

My mother’s life conceived mine. If she had listened to the obstetrician who told her pregnancy and her body didn’t mesh, I would not be here to write these words.

My mother worked hard to make sure I had what I needed. She taught me the value of hard work as a means of reaching beyond the necessities of life into the pleasures. Did I appreciate having to scrub the toilet twice a week? (Make that six times if the first attempt didn’t meet her specification for cleanliness.)

Episodes of raw fried chicken and undercooked potatoes aside, I can prepare tasty and healthy meals because my mother taught me how to use a stove. I started drying the dishes at the age of five (lucky older sister got to wash). I recall stirring jam until I thought my arm would fall off, being hypnotized by the valve on the top of the pressure cooker and sending raw venison through the meat grinder.

My mother taught by example as much as by direct instruction. She loved to read. She sat in the chair with my sister on one side and me on the other, reading aloud to us. When we were old enough, we took turns reading the stories to her. She sang along with The Carpenters as their 8-track played on the stereo. She took us to church on Sunday and helped us learn to recite the books of the Bible.

As much as I grumbled about keeping my room clean, I knew what a clean room should look like. Our house was spotless. No need for a “five second rule” in our kitchen. Go ahead and eat directly off the floor; it’s as clean and sanitary as the counters. No joke.

My mother worked at the bank when we were younger. When we were in high school, she returned to college to pursue a nursing degree. She taught me that a person is never too old to pursue a dream.

I resented her determination to get high marks in college. She spent too much time studying, I thought. Of course, when I returned to college as a 40-year-old, I couldn’t settle for less than an “A” either. She had passed her perfectionism on to me – by example as much as admonition.

I wanted to make my own choices. I deliberately chose things she disapproved for my life, claiming it demonstrated my independence from her. Most of my regrets were decisions I made simply because I knew Mom wouldn’t want me to do it. Can anyone say “stupid”?

I didn’t appreciate her advice until I had children of my own. I didn’t understand her grief at my rebellion until my own children stood toe-to-toe with me debating the rules I set for them. The magnitude of her love in the face of my idiocy boomed like a megaphone when I cried over my own children.

How can these sentiments be expressed in journalistic style for the obituary page? In truth, I’ve barely scratched the surface of describing my mother’s life. More experiences lie ahead when the epic boundlessness of her love and sacrifice will be revealed again and again.

A mother’s life is about securing the best for her children and grandchildren. In the absence of financial wealth to purchase this, my mother spent her own blood, sweat, tears, love, wisdom and time to procure success by outfitting us to strive for it.

What words describe your mother’s life or your life as a mother?