More Than Ever?

Today, Memorial Day 2016, began with my working my part-time custodial job at my church. The work could have waited until tomorrow, but I liked the thought of doing it when no one else would be around. As I have aged, my mind has gotten busier. (I almost said grown busier, but I’m not sure it is growth.) So I welcomed this alone-time to connect with my Father. I am sixty years old now. Sixty years. How can that be? What happened to my twenties? Vanished, long vanished, over the misty hills. Many sunsets have come and gone. I have lived much and seen much, more than I realize, more than seems possible. Most of the time I don’t think about it. But it pays to contemplate now and then the path I have traveled. For a path it has been, bearing far more resemblance to the trails I love to walk in the Barry State Game Area than to the civilized sidewalks trod by young urban professionals, or to the Interstate highways that carry the busy masses swiftly and predictably from city to city. I have always preferred the back roads—curvy, leisurely, bumpy, intimate with the land, winding ever on past changing vistas and new points of interest, some glorious, some heartbreaking, some terrifying. I have earned my white hairs as a traveler through this life. True, I color those hairs—I’m still vain enough to allow myself such silliness—but if I am not exactly an old man yet, I am most certainly no longer a young one. I have, as I have said, seen life. And more than ever, I know I cannot do it apart from God. Oh, I can survive. But I cannot live. This morning, running the vacuum over the gym floor, I thought of what my Father has brought me through, of where he has brought me to, and of the uncertainty of what lies ahead in this increasingly turbulent world.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4 NLT)
Yes, I know. That is how it has been and how it will be, Lord. You have always been with me, the shadow of a great oak in the hot sun, the solidity of a massive rock amid the turbid millrace of time and culture. “I need you, Lord, desperately. Today more than ever, I need you.” Those were my words to him this morning, but they were not quite right. The “desperately” part—that  was beyond question. But “more than ever”? That would imply there were times when I needed him less, and that has never been so. There have only been times when I’ve been less aware of how much I need him. Like a child, I am utterly dependent on him. I think he likes it that way. And so do I. I like thinking that however many years I have left, I will always have a Father. Always. However old I may get, I will always be his child. Always his man, yet also always his little boy, welcome to climb up onto Daddy’s lap; welcome to share my delight with him over simple joys when life is going my way; welcome to weep my heart out when grief strikes, knowing that “underneath are the everlasting arms.” Always and forever, I am my Father's beloved son. I will never stop needing and desiring his fathering. I will never outgrow my need to feel his strong arm around my shoulder and to sense his presence, his guidance, his reproof and correction, his way making, his gentleness, his kindness, his patience, his encouragement, his yes-you-can.

My Father, you love me. How I thank you for that!

I love you too—because you first loved me.

Two Ways to Save Money in Editorial Costs (for Independent Authors)

As a self-publishing author, naturally you want to save money. Unless your pockets are lined with sable, you're concerned about your budget. So am I. As an editor, I want to help you keep your costs down if I can. Of course, I'll be happy to spend all the time in the world on your manuscript to do the job right—provided you compensate me. Because like you, I have bills to pay, and the maxim that time is money applies. So if you'd like to save yourself money by saving me time, here are two helpful tips.

1. Document your sources fully. When you quote from a book, magazine, or other print or online source, provide a citation with complete publishing information. If you don't, and if I have to research that information myself in order to show it properly in your endnotes, the time I spend will cost you.

What does complete information look like? Consult this resource (courtesy of The Chicago Manual of Style).

2. Avoid using quote compilations. Whether they're online or in print, collections of quotes are not dependable sources. They work great for speaking but not for writing, which requires thorough and accurate documentation. When you use trustworthy sources (e.g., you quote Twain directly from, say, Huckleberry Finn, not Goodreads), you make my job easier and cut your costs accordingly.

On Forgiveness

On Forgiveness Some injuries are hardly noticeable, and forgiving them is barely an issue. Others go so deep our soul doesn't know how to even begin processing the pain, the grief, and the rage. It's this latter that is the costly kind. Jesus both made the way for us and placed the requirement and glory of forgiveness on us when, on the cross, he spoke the words, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing." What does such forgiveness look like? How do we walk it out in a way that is real and realistic? I think it starts with a single decision that initiates a long series of similar decisions, acts of the will that in time sink into the emotions. That first decision might be worded something like this: "If it were in my power to send that person to hell, I would not do so." That may be about the best we can do to begin with, but it is enough for God to work with, and we place it in his hands. We tell our Father, "I choose to forgive this person. I feel nothing but anger and the desire to make him (her) hurt the way he's hurt me. But I am more than my feelings; I am your child, and hatred and bitterness are not my heritage. Love and freedom are, and I will walk in your heart--for I myself am loved by you." We make this choice again, and again, and again, as often as is necessary, through the days, and weeks, and months, and quite possibly the years. We talk to God about it. He is in it with us, and he is pleased with us that we choose his character over fleshly vindictiveness, which seeks to draw us into its perpetual black hole. There is no peace in that hole. But forgiveness--that becomes a trysting place where we meet with the One who knows and loves and esteems us beyond what we can imagine. And in his presence comes "the peace that passes understanding." Forgiveness of deep injustices is not easy and it is not quick. Many Christians will be quick to tell us that we need to forgive, as if they're revealing some great wisdom we don't already know. Ignore these advice givers; they know the formula but not the answer. What we need isn't glib advice; it's wise friends who will walk with us in the Spirit of our Lord as we pay the cost of forgiveness. Encouraged and strengthened by such true, godly confidants, we struggle and pray through toward the day when our anger gives way to seeing the person who wounded us with different eyes, and the seeing ushers in compassion, and the compassion brings release for our soul. What Forgiveness Is Not Now, here is what forgiveness does NOT look like: It is not something that requires us to place ourselves back within striking distance of the person who hurt us. It is good to forgive the dog that bit us; it is foolish to try to pet him. It is we who have changed, not the dog, and forgiveness is not naivete. There is no need for us to get bit again. But what if the person who treated us wickedly really has changed? After all, God does transform hearts. Very true. Real change will show in that person's willingness to earn our trust over time. He (she) will not insist that we trust him, and he will not use forgiveness or our walk with God to manipulate us. Rather, he will demonstrate humility and a respect for where we are at, and understand that restoration of relationship is a great gift, not a cheap trinket that we must supply on demand. We are not so obligated.

Forgiveness is a change that occurs in us. Restoration requires a change in the other person.