Live Like a King

I love to read. Great stories sweep me away to places and times that I’ll never see this side of heaven. I feel almost naked if I do not have a book with me at all times and taking a bath is boring without one. Over the last few weeks, though, I’ve been feeling a pull from the Lord to put aside novels for a time and refocus my life. Reading novels is not sinful or always a waste of time. Some of the best spiritual epiphanies I’ve had were while reading a novel. As with anything, there is a balance. Unfortunately, my reading habit is out of whack and negatively affecting everyone around me.

I have a tendency to bury myself in a book instead of living the life I’ve meant to live. Good stories gloss over the “boring” parts of life and allow you to live the adventure vicariously through someone else. But there are things I’m supposed to be doing for my family and for God which I never get to because I’m busy living a fictional person’s life in my head.

I think it will be nice to walk around without the brain fog a good story gives me. Even if I’m not reading, I’m thinking about the story and characters. What will happen next? What will happen after the story is over? How would the story go on if there was another book? Why does Harry have to keep going back to the Dursley’s? (I know why now).  For some books, such as the Harry Potter series, it took a few days for the fog to lift. I need that mental energy for something else.

I know I’ll pay more attention to my children and my poor neglected husband and my friends. My husband has gotten used to being ignored in the car because I always have a book with me. If he talks to me, sometimes I answer him five minutes later. I do not hear the kids bickering while engrossed in the duel between the hero and the villain.

Or worse yet, I’ll read when the kids need my help with homework or just want to talk. And if by some miracle, I look at them, my mind is still thinking about the book. When Chris wants a kiss (or more) and I want to read, I get irritated because he’s bugging me. At church, I have to resist the urge to sneak into the bathroom and read a chapter or read after service instead of talking to my friends. No story is more important than my husband, children or friends.

I’ll pay more attention to the Lord and read the Bible more if I am not reading novels. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve read through many more pages of novels than I have my Bible. Why is it that I could spend hours reading a book, but reading the Bible for 20 minutes feels like a chore? Ridiculous! The Bible contains the Words of life, Words able to change me into Christ’s image.

There are times when reading a good story crowds out the voice of the Lord for me. I have also taken what should have been my quiet time to get in “a quick chapter” and suddenly look up and it’s an hour later. I put my desire to know how the story will turn out above my duty to and desire for God. That’s idolatry.

I’ve found I have a tendency to try to hide from unpleasantness in my life by reading. For example, while I was in labor with the baby that died at 19 weeks gestation, instead of talking to those around me who were there to comfort me and help me through this, I read a book. A whole book (really three books in one as it was a trilogy bound into one book). It helped me tune out the painful feelings and kept me numb. Instead of reaching out to God, I slapped a bandage on the hurt and ignored it.

I should not be looking to a bunch of paper for comfort and strength when God is right there wanting to the do the job. The books again became an idol, the god I’d go to for comfort.

I might actually get some of my own writing done since I’m not reading other peoples’ work. Yes, reading other books for “research” has been a great way to procrastinate my own calling to write.

During this fast, the house might be cleaner. Yes, I’m guilty of putting off cleaning to read. Of course, I’m not much of a housekeeper to begin with so abstaining from novels may not help much. I’m sure I can find something else to do instead of cleaning (like writing) so don’t get your hopes up Chris.

Well I can’t say that this fast will help our financial woes. Even so, I have a tendency to spend money that should not be spent on books. Most of the books I read are not in the library, so if I want to read them, I have to purchase them. I do believe we should support the publishers and authors we enjoy during these hard times, but maybe I overdid it a little. There is always something that someone in my large family needs. Spending the limited resources we have on me is plain selfish.

What do you think? Do you have something you love to do that you need to lay down for a while to refocus on what’s really important?

As  many of you are aware, I love reading the Stuff Christians Like blog. I can’t say I’m a real fan, because a REAL fan would pre-order the book, something I haven’t done and probably won’t do (although I’ll buy the book when I can). Anyway, I digress. Today’s post is on Spiritual Attacks. Acuff has a way of making everything funny, even serious topics. You might want to pop over to the blog and read the post so you will understand what I am talking about.

Acuff’s premise is that there are two camps of Christians: The Everything is a Spiritual Attack and Nothing is a Spiritual Attack.

I have to laugh because isn’t it just like us Christians to try to pigeon-hole everything in our life? We just love to make up a sweeping rule to govern ourselves so we don’t have to spend time with the Lord to find out what He says about the situation. Yep. I said it. And I’m guilty of it.

If I believe everything is a spiritual attack, I can just go into Super Christian Warrior mode and bind everything around me in hopes I’ll get the right target and my suffering will stop. If I don’t believe that anything is a spiritual attack, I can resolutely look to the heavens and moan, “This must be God’s will.”

Obviously, as with most things, there is a balance. But the only way to find balance is to spend time with the Lord yourself. He gives us discernment to know what to do in all situations when we take the time to listen. It’s much easier just to follow some rule we were taught or made up.

Did you ever notice that in most things we are faced with in life, there is no hard and fast rule? I think God likes it that way. Then we have to seek Him even more.

Well I almost missed the tour…For some reason, I did not see the e-mails reminding me about the tour in my inbox and they got deleted. I saw someone else’s blog, which thankfully, triggered my memory. So now I have to put three days’ worth of blog tour stuff into one.

Donita K. Paul is one of my favorite authors. The characters in the Dragonkeeper Chronicles were so lifelike I swore they were standing in my living room having conversations. She always manages to make each character have some strange, but believable quirk.  That gift continues in The Vanishing Sculptor, Donita’s new book.

It’s been a while since I read one of Donita’s books (they were all destroyed in the fire), but I believe I enjoyed The Vanishing Sculptor the most. The story is full of depth, more great characters, and tons of laugh out loud moments.

Tipper, the main character The Vanishing Scupltor, is a young emerlindian woman who is running ragged trying to hold it all together. Her father disappear some 15 years ago, her mother is not quite right and has a weak grasp of reality, and financially things are falling apart. She is slowly, with great reluctance, selling off her famous sculptor father’s artwork to support herself and her mother. Unbeknownst to Tipper, doing so has set off a chain of events that may be the death of her father and the unraveling of their world.

In Paul’s previous Dragonkeeper Chronicles books, I had come to think of Paladin as a unique Jesus-like person. He seemed almost invincible (except when he was ill because of unbelief in the land). In fact, in a few of the books, Paladin came in and saved the day with little effort against the bad guys. But in The Vanishing Sculptor, the role of a Paladin take on an entirely different context and there can be more than one Paladin. That was quite confusing to me, but my confusion did not get in the way of enjoying the story.

All of Donita’s books are suitable for children and adults alike. There’s enough whimsy in them to keep children fascinated and a great story, lifelike characters, and rich description to keep adults coming back for more.

Below are other participants. I’ll include notes for some of my favorite posts:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Rachel Briard
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson Excerpt of book showing humor/wordplay. Hysterical!
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher Good interesting post. More info on Donita K. Paul
Dawn King That would be me!
Rebecca LuElla Miller Our Tour Leader…Didn’t know that Donita K. Paul was the author of the first book the CSFF ever featured.
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
Nissa
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Crista Richey
Cheryl Russell
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson Rachel always has great blog posts
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren Nice post with food for thought
Dona Watson Deeper look at the characters
Phyllis Wheeler Good summary
Elizabeth Williams
KM Wilsher First post by a new CSFFer

Last night, while humping myself and books back to my car after a night class, it hit me. I’ve probably been in contact with more unsaved people in the past couple weeks since school started than I have for the past 15 years. That’s scary.

I’ve been quite sheltered since I started having children. Besides family members, for the longest time, I didn’t know anyone personally who was unsaved. I had church friends, joined homeschool co-ops and joined into online communities with Christians.

It is so simple, when you are surrounded by Christians, to feel that everyone believes as you do and that those things going on in the world are just anomalies. Everyone in my social circle believed, at the minimum, that Jesus died for our sins and that we are accountable for our actions. All my friends (irl & online) were moving in the direction of being formed into the image of Jesus. During this time that my passion for evangelism was almost nonexistant. How passionate could I be if I didn’t have relationships with lost people (except my family, but that’s a whole other issue)?

There were several times in those 15 years that God told me to get out of my ivory tower. I really didn’t understand what He was talking about. I do now.

Imagine my rude awakening when I started delivering newspapers a couple years ago and had to run into non-Christian people. I was shocked by the details of some of their lives. My heart started to ache and I longed to tell them about Jesus (and some I actually did!).

Last night on the way home from school, the topic of discussion on the radio station I listen to (Star 99.1) was “How did you reinvent yourself?” They were talking about voluntarily changing your life direction, reinventing yourself. I certainly did not change my life direction voluntarily.

Instead I feel like I was thrown out of the Ivory Tower by the seat of my pants. I didn’t have one of those cool landings where you roll out the force and into a stand gracefully. Nope, I hit the ground face first, body crashing into the ground leaving a crater. I’m slowly getting up amidst much pain, checking for injuries.

Over the past year,  a big part of my identity was ripped away, leaving me kind of confused and wondering who I am and what life has in store for me. Since Ariella was a newborn, when I first held her in my arms, I made the decision to homeschool her and shelter her from all the yuck out there in the world. As each child came along, I’d think, add another couple years of homeschooling to my life because I planned on homeschooling each through high school. I was a homeschooling mom and proud of it. I relished my role and even the admiring exclamations that came when I mentioned I was the homeschooling mother of 7. My whole identity was built around it.

Until the fire, the chaos and finally, putting the kids in school last year. I felt like a failure, but secretly inside, I hoped this was a mere bobble on my life plan. This summer, I knew that decision was not just a bobble, but a new way of life and it broke my heart. All my talk about how sending a Christian kid to public school is sin crashed in on me. My disgusting judgmental and critical self was humiliated. Pride comes before the fall and I ate crow in huge helpings.

God had to strip me of who I thought I was to not only to change my character, but also to get me out of the ivory tower into the world. I have to learn to interact with unsaved people and not let my shock show on my face. I’m also learning that who I am and my worth does not depend on what cool thing I do. I belong to Him and that is enough. I am learning (slowly) who Dawn King is and who God made her to be. I’m learning to seek Him, listen for His instruction, and obey so I don’t end up in another mess. I am not reinventing myself, God is reinventing me into the person He created for me to be. Out of my ivory tower, trying to reach others for Christ, hoping that my experiences will bring someone else hope.

Familiar_Stranger_Cover (2)

I usually do not read contemporary fiction. Honestly, if I am going to escape from life, I want something that will take me completely away from my culture and lifestyle. That said, ocassionally I do jump the shark and read some contemporary books that intrigue me. The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry is one of those books I would make the exception for.

Imagine getting a call during church that your husband comatose after a car accident. You rush to his side and as he awakens, he can’t remember his life. As you work together to recover memories, you find that the life you thought you had, you really didn’t have. How do you both put the pieces of your life and marriage back together?

Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author’s life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, releases from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently–Forgive Extravagantly!

I had the opportunity to ask Christina a few questions…

How did you come up with such a fascinating plot?

In the summer of 2006, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot for The Familiar Stranger. It will be interesting to see if readers can figure out which stories inspired the book.

What do you want people to ponder after reading your novel?

What takeaway value do you hope readers receive after reading your novel?

The recent changes in my life—losing my husband, facing finding a “real” job, selling my home—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

What part does God play in your writing?

I believe He guides the story, adding layers I’m not even capable of comprehending while I write it. I’m not great at starting my writing time with prayer, but I try to stay open to where He might lead me.

I see writing as one of the tools He uses to form me into His image—a tool to teach me patience, self-control, determination, reliance on Him, and other life lessons. I also see writing as a gift that brings hope, fulfillment, and purpose when the rest of my life is falling apart.

Thanks for sharing with me Christina!

For a chance to win a free book, post a comment on this post. Make sure you include some contact info!

If you can’t wait to read the book, you can order at Amazon.com.

Check out tomorrow’s stop on the blog tour.

I’m sorry all that I missed Day 2. We had some things going on regarding our whole fire/insurance claim yesterday. Not fun. I won’t be able to post much today either. Check out the other participants

I read through a couple of the blog posts about Offworld by Robin Parrish. Amy Cruson that the book is not overtly Christian as expected from a Christian publisher. While Offworld is a great, action filled read, but I didn’t feel that my faith was edified at all.I’m not saying that it is a bad thing, because some books can be just entertainment.

Someone else commented that they wished that there had been more character development, especially for Mae.

***Spoiler warning***

In my opinion Mae does not need much character development. She should be a two dimensional figure because she’s not a real person.

Remember, if you post a comment on this blog, you’ll be entered to win a copy of Offword! Just make sure I can contact you!🙂

Check out some of the other tour participants:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Gina Burgess
Canadianladybug
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen (posting later in the week)
Nissa
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Steve Rice
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Stephanie
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Elizabeth Williams

The featured book for this month’s blog tour is Offworld by Robin Parrish. When the first astronauts to visit Mars arrive back on Earth, they find that everyone has disappeared. Why?

Reading this book felt like a ride with a crazed race car driver speeding along a Los Angelos highway. It is a high-intense, can’t put down book that would make an AMAZING action movie.

Tomorrow I’ll comment more. For now, leave me a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing with the chance to win a copy of this book. Make sure you also leave me a way to contact you!

My fellow tourists:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Gina Burgess
Canadianladybug
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Ryan Heart
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Steve Rice
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Stephanie
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Dona Watson
Elizabeth Williams