Archive for the ‘#mondayblogs’ Tag

The Times … They Are Changing   1 comment

List some of the things that you have seen change or develop in your lifetime.

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I used to marvel at my grandmother’s generation. Born in 1887, she entered a world without cars, airplanes, phones, electricity, running water, radio or television. Women didn’t have the vote in almost any country and they wore dresses down to their ankles and corsets were considered modest. By 1971, when she died, there were cars, airplanes, phones, electricity, running water, radio and television and women were barely wearing clothes in the country at the time. Imagine how thoroughly exciting the pace of discover and development must have been in those 84 years.

Image result for image of changing times

My own lifetime hasn’t changed that much, but there have been a fair number of changes since I drew my first breath.

In 1960, the US was in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, each busily dividing up the world based on their individual philosophies. The Civil Rights movement had already begun, but had yet to be felt throughout the nation. Women had long had the vote, but women who worked outside the home in jobs independent of their husbands were few and far between. Kids were respectful of their parents and what their parents wanted them to do as adults. Religion was seen as a net benefit to society. When my mom in Fairbanks Alaska called my grandmother in Seattle Washington, they had to scream to be heard across the 2000-mile line and a 10-minute phone call cost a half-day’s wage. Computers filled warehouses. You didn’t need a passport to travel to Mexico or Canada. Everybody smoked and, in Alaska, everybody including the kids, drank alcohol, but almost nobody had heard of cannabis. Cars didn’t have seatbelts … at all. Baseball was the national pasttime. Almost no Americans had ever played soccer. Unless you lived in a big city, your television (often black-and-white) only got a handful of local stations. Everybody in the nation watched Walter Cronkite at 6 o’clock and families sat down to watch general-age programs together after dinner.

So, what’s changed?

Almost everything.

In 1960, my parents created me outside of marriage and being a mature adult in her late 30s, my mother considered having an abortion. Fortunately for me, abortion was illegal at the time and the only doctor in Fairbanks who would perform one was a drunk, so she asked my dad for traveling money to go to Anchorage to “take care of the problem” and found out that he was happy with being a first-time father in his late 40s. My parents didn’t really have an option to prevent pregnancy. Condoms were highly unreliable and so were diaphragms. Today, options abound and they are extremely reliable if used correctly. Why this generation continues to fail at that simple task is a mystery to me, but I count effective contraception as a major achievement in my lifetime. For the record — anti-abortion and pro-choice – I just believe your choices should occur before you create a child.

Today, I can call someone in Africa and have as clear a conversation as if they were right here in Fairbanks. More than that, we can Skype as if we’re talking face-to-face. Video conferencing didn’t exist when I was born and for most of my adulthood it was hurky-jerky, but today, it’s seamless. And virtually free. If I Skype, it’s included in the price of my Internet connection. If I call long distance on my cell phone, it’s paid for with my subscription. Even using my landline, it costs only pennies to talk for significant amounts of time.

Of course, that ease of communication is born of the computer age. In 1960, the University of Alaska Fairbanks installed a Honeywell computer the size of an aircraft hangar with a computing capacity comparable to the laptop I am typing on right now. When I graduated high school in 1979, the personal computer was only four years old, you had to build them yourself and do all the programming as well. I remember going over to my cousin’s house in winter of 1981 to see the first Apple. My computer teacher in college, one of the original Bell Labs programmers, referred to the personal computer as a “fad”. I can order a laptop from the Internet for about a day’s wages and it comes loaded with tons of software and will fit in a briefcase. I have more computer power in my smart phone than that Honeywell number cruncher had. It’s a major technological change that has transformed society and made it possible for people like me to become authors and publishers.

I could go on about the Internet of Things, the gig economy, streaming and social media, but if you’re reading this post, you already know about those things.

In 1960, politics were pretty ho-hum. My mother, a fiscally conservative independent, and my father, a staunch Democrat, could congenially argue about their opposing viewpoints and not feel the need to end their relationship. In Alaska, politics was an indoor sport and everybody was permitted to participate. Even kids were expected to have an opinion, which the adults would try to sway us from. Starting in the late 1960s, politics became a divisive issue where people could no longer reasonably debate the various topics and points of view. I blame the first half of my own generation (I’m a boomer) for this. My older brother and his friends felt very passionately about what they believed and their inability to consider the alternatives to their viewpoints or to follow those viewpoints to their natural negative consequences has led to the polarized entrenchment of our day. When you start insisting that everybody ought to walk in lockstep with you toward a mythical utopia, sooner or later someone is going to point out that there is a cliff ahead and refuse to keep monkey-walking with you.

Frankly, because I was raised in Alaska, I didn’t experience the Civil Rights or Youth movements in the same way I would have if I’d lived in another part of the country. Alaska passed a civil rights bill in 1945, so we’d already been desegregated 15 years when I was born. Our schools and neighborhoods were already mixed race. Alaska is considered among the three most racially diverse state in the union. But we did have a few protests in support of the Lower 48 Civil Rights movement and some of the people who came up from other states really didn’t get that nobody here much cared about race. Of course, you can’t dictate what is in people’s hearts, but you can ostracize idiots and it worked pretty well. But in 1960, even racially liberal Alaskans couldn’t have foreseen that there’d be a black man as president within my lifetime. That alone ought to be a testament to some huge changes in our culture and the fact that some people think otherwise suggests there is another kind of racism in the works today..

In 1960, my mother was an odd duck – a “married” woman who worked outside the home in a job not attached to her husband.  This was partially because my parents never married legally, but it was more because my mother had learned from her first marriage that having your own income was a good thing … even a necessary thing if your husband was a fool with money. She enjoyed working and she enjoyed being able to direct her own economic life and my dad was all right with that. They were able to buy two houses and fund a retirement because she worked. But only about 8% of married women in 1960s worked outside the home in an independent job. Today, it’s about 68%. My mom was seriously bucking a trend and she took some flak for it. Today the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. People tend to look down on women who stay home with the kids. The times shifted and will shift again. Women in the workforce is here to stay, but hopefully we’ll learn to accept that women aren’t being subversive when they decide to tend the home fires instead.

I think the thing that has changed the most in our culture since 1960 is the concept of morality and the value given to those who adhere to morality. In 1960s, pastors were respected and churchgoers were coveted as employees. People might not be regular attenders, but most people belonged to a church and it was considered a gauge of integrity that you attended. Today, many people distrust churches and subtly ostracize people who regularly attend them. Although employers are not legally permitted to discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation, many employers make it difficult for faithful employees to continue with regular attendance and/or any acknowledgement of faith in the workplace. Companies owned by Christians are increasingly under pressure to ignore and violate long-held Biblical principles and practices. They’re told they should keep their beliefs out of the workplace, which is a PC way of saying stopping believing what the Bible teaches. Discrimination against Biblical beliefs and those who hold them is considered by some to be a worthy goal, something to be stated proudly in public. On the other hand, we have had vast improvement in accepting non-Christian religions and their right to express what they believe in the public square. The first is a deplorable mistake. The second is a positive development.

Times always change and I expect my children will be able to write a similar post with different details in 30 years. I don’t think the world has changed as much in my lifetime as it did in my grandmother’s, but I still have 30+ more years to live. What will be different then?

Maybe everything and maybe not much. You know the Proverb, right? “There is nothing new under the sun.” The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s because, despite the technological and social window-dressing, human nature remains stubbornly the same throughout history. The details change, but we do not.

Posted August 7, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Keeping It Simple   2 comments

What Are Your Favorite Blog Plugins?
Write out all the awesome plugins that you are using on your blog. Make a big list of how you use them and why others should also be using them.

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To be perfectly honest, I don’t use a lot of plugins. I’m still using a “free” Word Press blog, which means that I can’t use a lot of the plugins available, but I’m not sure I would even if I could. I am definitely a subscriber to the “Keep it simple, Stupid” school of most things.

Image result for image of a wordpress appWhich is why I have only four plugins I would recommend for every author.

Word Press allows you to link your social media accounts, so that when you post on your blog, it also posts to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. This definitely falls under the KISS concept because I don’t have to mess with my other social media accounts. Right now, I’m in rewrite mode for “A Threatening Fragility” and so Twitter is being updated while I’ve taken a hiatus from maintaining it. While I know I’ll drop some in stats because I’m busy elsewhere, I can afford to do that because my blog is still feeding into Twitter.

It also allows you to post to Goodreads. Because my blog is not always book-related, I don’t have that plugin for Goodreads set up on my main blog, but reblog book-related articles on Daermad Cycle’s page, which is linked to Goodreads. It’s an extra step that allows me to use the linking feature for Goodreads without annoying readers with political philosophy, economics and Christian themes.

The second recommendation that I have is Grammarly. You can associate this grammar checker with your blog quite easily and it saves all the mess of cutting and pasting from Word to check your blog articles. Again, KISS dictated its use for me. Once I set it up, it works there in the background and I don’t need to think about it much.

Buy links are available for Amazon for Word Press and Facebook. I highly recommend these point-and-click bait buttons. Make it easier for your potential readers to buy your books … give them a one-step portal to your Amazon author page.

Newletter signup. Word Press in association with Mailchimp allows visitors on my blog to sign up for my newsletter … which I only publish every few months. It’s a simple process to sign up and insert the commands and “they” claim that authors need to build a mailing list.

So, that’s it. I’m sure there are dozens, maybe hundreds of plugins one could use and there may be a day when I get around to using a few of them, but these four are the most basic, the simplest and the ones I think give me the most benefit.

There comes a time when authors need to stop playing on their blogs and return to writing their books. I’m there … I really am … but if you have any recommendations for me … you know … comment.

Lessons of an Employment Vagabond   2 comments

July 24, 2017 – What Kind Of Lessons Could Anyone Learn From What You Do In Your Career?
Are there life lessons that people who aren’t in your career could learn from? You might be amazed.

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Related imageI’ve been a fair number of things in my employment career. My first “real” job (not working for my mother’s daycare or babysitting the kids down the street) was washing laundry and running the cash register at a laundromat. Then I was a waitress at a family-style diner, a janitor, a maid, front desk personnel at a campground, a cashier in a few businesses, a reporter/journalism, and then I went into administration. When I first decided that I needed a job that actually paid money (reporting wasn’t providing me with a living wage), I decided my existing skills best suited office work, but I didn’t have any experience in that field, so I signed up with a temporary placement agency while I was still working as a reporter part-time. I showed what I could do. I also learned that temps, though they aren’t eligible for benefits, make more money than full-time employees, so I actually temped for about 2 1/2 years in a variety of offices — medical, legal, insurance, University of Alaska, did some research for private investigators, took minutes for some boards, and transcribed a lot of depositions and the minutes for Doyon’s annual meetings.

Then I took a break to spend time with my daughter when she was little. That company went out of business, so I had to start with a new company when I went back. I didn’t like it so well, so as soon as a temp position offered me a full-time gig that I thought I would like, I landed a “real” job. I worked in a construction company, a travel agency, and then went into the mental health field. Now I work in transportation.

I’ve probably had 25 “permanent” jobs in my working career, one for 15 years and then the one I’m working now will probably be the one I take into retirement. I expect to work about 12 years here. That job number is not unusual for Americans these days. We’re all employment vagabonds. The era where you took a job right out of high school or college and worked there until you retired has been over for about two decades. I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing for society, but this one thing I learned from my own employment journey … be flexible.

Image result for image of flexibilityFlexibility is the most important tool an employee can bring to any job. Even in the long-term job I had with the mental health agency …. I used a variety of skills, the demands shifted from time to time and I had to learn new skills occasionally to continue to do my job correctly. The job I am currently in added a component to my position that is journalism-adjacent. I aggregate the transportation news for Alaska on a daily basis. Although I had a background in journalism, it required adding new skills to my set because it had been nearly 25 years since I’d worked in the field.

Flexibility keeps employees in demand and, as an indie author, it provides me the confidence to say “I can do that.” Maybe I’ve never done “that” before, but I am confident that I can learn how to do “that” because I have been acquiring new skills and being flexible my entire working career.

Flexibility is the key to employability.

Posted July 24, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Beginnings   2 comments

How’d You Start Your Business, Blog, Or Freelance Career?
People always want to know how to start out in their niche. This means the nitty gritty details on how to do it all. Teach them how to start one of their own.

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Wow, this is an interesting topic that I don’t think I can teach anyone else. I didn’t start writing as a business. I wrote a story in the 5th grade that I hated and decided to write a better one and I haven’t stopped in several decades.

Image result for image of wordpressI love writing so much that I thought I would enjoy making my living at it, so I went to college to get a degree in journalism. I did enjoy the writing part and even some of the reporting part, but the office politics part turned me off so I eventually drifted away from journalism.

I wrote some freelance magazine articles to keep my hand in, but then I had kids and I didn’t have time. I hear tell of the mythical freelancer out there who makes a living freelancing, but I’ve never actually met such a legend. My day job does include some writing, but it is not a “writer’s” job per se.

Still, I always wrote fiction. It is a part of who I am. I don’t know that I can stop. And all of that is something I can’t teach anyone else because it’s my personal journey and I think we all walk different paths in artistry.

Starting a blog was really pretty easy. When I decided I was going to self-publish my first book The Willow Branch, someone told me I needed to start blogging to build an audience. Yeah, okay. I quickly realized that Facebook is not a blogging platform, so I decided not to go that way. As part of my day job, my boss asked me to look into a local blog which happened to be hosted by Word Press. I thought this would work. I signed up for a free account and started playing. There are still a lot of things about it that I don’t understand or make full use of, but I get my message out. Ah, but … the message ….

Image result for image of wordpressThe hardest thing about blogging is that you have to have content. I stared at the blank computer screen and went “hmm.” One thing I was certain of was that this wasn’t going to be a personal blog where I talked about ME. Not my thing. I quickly realized by looking at other blogs that writing only about my books would be boring … and not just for me, but for the readers as well. That’s no way to grow an audience. So I stared at the screen some more and then … someone posted something really nasty on Facebook and my first real blog post was born. I was working through a series on who I was – writer, non-partisan, fiscal conservative, Christian, but that hate-filled vitriolic Facebook post caused me to launch full-bore into the overriding theme of this blog “political philosophy” with Shouting Across the Chasm. It is actually kind of surprising to see how little my message has changed since 2012 and how the problems we’re addressing today are the exact same problems that existed when President Obama won his second term of office. It’s kind of amazing really. It’s like I wrote those posts just a few months ago.

Starting a blogging is really easy. Just go to wordpress.com and follow the instructions. Weebly is also a good site with some features that I wish Word Press had … and some features I’m glad Word Press doesn’t have. Find a platform that works for you and use it. Content is the hard part. Don’t be boring. Don’t be self-absorbed. Find something interesting to talk about.

We were supposed to get into the “nitty-gritty” details of starting our business or blog, but the fact is that blogging is easy to get into and Word Press makes designing the site relatively simple. There are some things that I struggle with and if I weren’t so cheap, I would hire someone to fix. Yeah, that’s a thing and you can find these people actually on Word Press. Pretty much anything I could teach you … if I remembered how I did it from 5 years ago … is available on Word Press’s website. Good luck. May the Force be with you and, if you learn something amazing, post it in the comments so I can learn it too.

Then there’s the novelist part of my business, but I’ll leave that for another post at another time. Lots of moving pieces to that one.

Chillin & Thrillin in a Tropical Paradise   7 comments

Image result for images of maui

What Is The Next Vacation You’d Love To Take?

Dream away. Share the fun. Or if your blog or business is made up of a team, you could always share where each of the team wants to go on vacation next. This is another one of those blog ideas that really help an audience get to know you better.

 

 

 

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Most of our vacations involve a road trip, often in Alaska, where everything is so far away from everything else, but if I were planning a “dream” vacation, I’d go back to Maui and stay at a Best Western in Kehei.

Yeah, simple tastes. Before Brad and I honeymooned on Maui, I spent four days in Kehei a couple of years before. I stayed in a cheap motel that was on the beach. That motel is now a boutique hotel with an Italian restaurant in its parking lot and … well, the beach is still there. When we were on our honeymoon, we couldn’t get into the motel, so we stayed at a “beach” hotel without a beach. We’ve since been back to other islands in the chain, but I would love to return there and thoroughly enjoy it.

Image result for image best western kiheiThe motel is sandwiched between upscale residential estates and high-rise condos, but it is only two stories, so as not to make you feel separated from the ocean that is only a few yards away. And that’s why you come to Hawaii, right? The beach. Ah, the beach. We might never leave the property. A lot of people are skeptical of this boutique property, but I’ve known people who have stayed there more recently and they all say the same thing — “It’s on the beach. It’s clean and has the Best Western customer service. And, oh, Temperpedic mattresses and Sargento’s in the parking lot and great restaurants in the nearby hotels … and a grocery store just down the way … and fruit stands just a few blocks away, and ….” Yeah,  you get my point. Yeah, we could spend hundreds of dollars a night on a luxury suite on the 8th floor of some Kanapali resort, but I prefer the more intimate, on the beach experience of a simple motel.

Image result for images of mauiI was an extremely recent college graduate when I stayed there, so I couldn’t afford all the nice restaurants along the Keawakapu Beach, which is part of a string of four of the best beaches you’ll find anywhere that runs along Maui’s Kehei shore. This time, we would have saved the money to truly indulge ourselves.

I think I might be a little old for body surfing now, but snorkeling right outside the door sounds like heaven. (Breaking the rule about not putting my image on the blog, that’s me snuba-ing about 18 years ago … on Kaui). This section of Kehei doesn’t have a rip tide, so it is perfect for viewing fish and coral formations, of which there are many just off shore. I think we’d go in late winter because that is prime whale watching season and Kehei is on the whale migration route. We were on the wrong side of the island last time, so we didn’t see any whales.

AImage result for images of mauis I said, we might never leave the property unless walking to a nearby restaurant, but we’re active people, so we would want to visit some of the places we saw as young honeymooners. I would love to hike the Io Valley, a lush rainforest in the interior of the island that we visited with inappropriate footwear. One of us (I say Brad) forgot to put the tennis shoes in the trunk that morning. We still hiked some, but the risk of turning an ankle or stabbing our toes with tropical bark limited our adventures and we just didn’t get back to it during the remainder of our stay.

We’ve never done a luau, so I think we’d do the feast at Lele. We’re not getting any younger and we might never get back there, so this time we would do it. I choose that one because it has been around a long time (we almost went to it on our honeymoon, but another adventure got in our way) and has intimate tables, so Brad and I would not have to interact with strangers. I love to talk to locals, but I have a low tolerance for tourist chatter (having worked in Alaska’s tourist industry for several years), so that would be important for us. And west Maui sunsets are delicious!

Image result for images of mauiOf course, we would return to Haleakala to hike … bringing adequate water this time. When we did it last time, we underestimated how hot things can get at 10,000 feet. It was still really fun and Brad likes a little possibility of death in his adventures, but I think we would enjoy it a great deal more because we would be better prepared this time. We would probably allot two trips to fully explore Haleakala – do the hike one day and the sunrise and bike ride another day.

Of course we’d visit Lahaina and I really want to check out the Maui Ocean Center, which didn’t exist the last time we were there. We’d allot a day to hike the King’s Highway, way south on Makena. We didn’t know it existed when we were there last, but history buff that I am, the old fishing villages draw me.

We were young and dumb when we were on Maui before, so gave the upcountry short shrift. We’d go back to Makawao and Kula to enjoy a quieter atmosphere, or and including the zipline that starts at Waikapu and goes to Maalaea, which is near the coast. This is actually a series of zip line, all of them amazingly long and just scary enough to be exciting without risking a heart attack. We’re Alaskans. We hike in forests with bears. We ain’t afraid of no heights or speed. No, siree! On the shortest line, you have the option to zip backwards. I probably won’t for fear of blowing chunks (can’t ride in a car backwards either), but I’ll bet you Brad will. Ridgewalker likes his vacations to be thrilling and at least slightly death-defying.

We definitely want to go back to Hana, but this time, take our time and enjoy the Road to Hana. I know people who think the road is a nightmare, but for Alaskans, it’s just a curvy drive to the next town. And, man, what a drive! It’s like a fairy tale jungle trail. Back then, Brad was still stuck in the Lower 48 rule of private property and needing parking areas, so he didn’t feel comfortable stopping to enjoy the hidden pools and waterfalls that are everywhere along the road, but this time we would take full advantage. We’d book a B&B in Hana so we wouldn’t need to be concerned with getting back to Kehei. Back when we drove to Hana on our honeymoon, we sort of ignored Paia because we’d already been there to attempt wind-surfing. Again, my windsurfing days ought to be behind me, so I do want to poke around the town now because I hear it has remade itself into an organic farmers paradise. Hana itself, though, was fascinating because it was not so touristy. I really love talking to locals and learning about their real lives. The 50-mile-long winding highway keeps most of the crowds away, so I love the idea of spending the day just wandering about a real Hawaiian town. Maybe there will be water in the Sacred Pools this time.

Back when we were there before, Kapu road was driveable, but rental car agencies didn’t recommend it. We did it anyway. Today, the Kapu ranches are embraced tourism, so we would try to find something smaller and intimate to go see the ranches.

Related imageAnd then there is kayaking. We kayaked on Kaui and it was a great way to see the island, so we’re looking forward to doing it on Maui, where it promises to take you places you can’t see by road. Again, that would be a return to Makena and a small tour company to keep things intimate and low key.

You might notice I didn’t mention a lot of night life or shopping. That’s because I’m really not into night life or shopping. Sure, we’d poke around in some shops while we’re in Lahaina. We thoroughly enjoyed the dancing at Spats in Kaanapali way back when, but the places that have replaced it sound … uh, grubby. Maybe it’s us, but the Dirty Monkey and the Sly Mongoose sound just plain creepy. And we probably won’t go cliff diving as we did on our honeymoon. Some things are just better left in the past (yeah, that’s me again). Besides, we’re in our 50s and a sunset meal on the beach after a day of snorkeling sounds more like our style.

 

 

Advice Well Received   2 comments

What Advice Has Stuck With You For A Long Time? And Who Gave You That Advice?
Did someone give you some great advice at a certain time in your life? Think back to that time and write down the advice as you remember it.

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So last week, I alluded to a period in my marriage that was not easy. I didn’t go into detail because I wanted to use it for this week’s blog hop article.

Image result for image of christian adviceBrad doesn’t make a secret that he’s a recovering alcoholic. We have a rule where we try not to bring up things from decades ago to shove in each other’s faces today, but I have to sort of do that to make this blog post make sense. I’m doing this with his permission.

Relapse happens with alcoholics, but recovery is not guaranteed. About 22 years ago, Brad went off the rails and I decided that for the sake of our daughter and myself, but also for Brad’s sake, he couldn’t be with us for a while. This coincided with the younger adults of our church choosing to dis-fellowship Brad until he straightened up. As a friend of ours put it, “If you show up at our door asking me to drive you to an AA meeting, I’m all in, but if it’s for anything else … don’t bother.” That might sound cruel, but Brad now credits those people as some of his best friends.

My choice to make an ultimatum (get help or lose us) came from advice I received at Alanon, but how I did it was entirely based on advice from my friend Theresa.

Theresa had been a missionary’s wife who discovered that her husband was sexually abusing their sons. By the time of my crisis, she’d been divorced from her husband for 25 years. She’d never remarried, which I had always assumed was because she had so many kids, but when my decision became public knowledge in the church, she came to me to give me some time-honored advice from a modern perspective.

I HATED that we were moving toward divorce (and at that time, it didn’t look like there would be another outcome). I knew that divorce outside of the exemption for desertion of a Christian spouse by a non-Christian spouse or adultery was not Biblically allowed. It bothered me that I was deliberately sinning. But Theresa explained things to me in a different way.

 7:10 To the married I give this command – not Ibut the Lord 8  – a wife should not divorce a husband 7:11 (but if she does, let her remain unmarriedor be reconciled to her husband), and a husband should not divorce his wife.  1 Corinthians 7:10-11

Take a really good look at that clause in verse 11. Theresa chose to remove herself and her children from a damaging situation. She divorced her creeper husband. More power to her. We should never seek divorce lightly. “Irreconcilable differences” is a trivial excuse to end a covenant relationship sealed before God, but some marriages are not salvageable for deeper reasons than he leaves the toilet seat up or he watches football all weekend. There are husbands who beat their wives (and women who abuse their husbands). There are spouses who gamble away every dime and others who drink it away. Alcohol shuts down important centers of the brain having to do with reliability, self-control and judgment. Brad was doing things that needed to stop and he just couldn’t see that through the amber haze he was shrouding his mind in. I needed to keep a roof over our daughter’s head and I couldn’t afford his habits any longer. I provided him with a way back to us before I closed the door on him. But it looked like he wasn’t going to take that lifeline and I felt guilty that I was disobeying God by divorcing my husband.

Image result for image of christian adviceAnd then Theresa showed me this one little clause and my perspective changed.

“If you leave (for a good reason), remain unmarried or be reconciled.”

When Theresa left her husband, she did so to protect her children. He remarried (and there’s tales to tell about that one), but Theresa never did. She understood that she was still bound by the covenant they had both made before God. She was certain that (we’ll call him) John was a Christian, so his remarriage didn’t absolve her of her covenantal responsibility. She remained unmarried as an act of honoring God’s standards.

God blessed her by the way. Jobs fell out of the sky for this woman and her younger children, who had escaped their father’s predations by her choices, turned out to be wonderfully committed Christians who married wonderfully committed Christians. Some of her older children worked through their issues and are adults to be proud of. She was a respected elder in our church and among Christians throughout the state. And, she was happy, surrounded by grandchildren, financially secure, knowing she had obeyed her God to the very best of her ability.

Of course, I was at the other end of that decision. Divorcing without committing a sin wasn’t my only object in view. I had made that choice in hopes of driving Brad to a healthy choice. Would I still be there if he made it? How long was I willing to wait?

If I was going to remain “unmarried”, I could wait until God gave me other instructions. I could still have friends and a life. I didn’t have to grieve or fret about being alone because my relationship with Jesus would fill the voids. I could accept God’s will for my life and live that life.

I didn’t have to adjust to long-term singleness. Brad entered sobriety several months later, although he chose for us to remain physically separated for several more months because he didn’t want to put our daughter through a roller coaster ride while he got his head screwed on straight again. It also gave us time to enact the other part of Theresa’s advice.

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation. It sucks when someone hurts you. It sucks more when you hold a grudge. It sucks for you more than it sucks for the person you’re angry at. Theresa never reconciled with John … more power to her … but she forgave him. She prayed for him. She wished him well. In the 1970s, there were no laws against what he’d done to their sons, but she did what she could to protect people from him. She managed to prevent at least one woman from marrying him by telling her about his past. Then he moved out of state and back in those days, it was impossible to intervene long distance. When she heard he remarried, she prayed for that woman and the children she was bringing into that marriage. She prayed every day for them, I suspect until her death just a few years ago. She never forgot, but she did forgive. She wasn’t bitter. Her daughters are friends of mine and they say that she taught them a great deal about what it takes to sustain a marriage that doesn’t have a sexual predator as a partner.

When Brad and I were working out how to reconcile, we discussed that forgiveness thing a lot. It’s not something either one of us grew up seeing modeled. His parents have been married five times between them. My mother would bring up decades-old hurts whenever she was mad. When two people get married, they have to deal with each other’s baggage. We rely on an old Amish tradition. When a person repents of sin in the Amish community, they have to do it in front of the whole community, but once they do it, there is a prohibition from ever bringing it up again. The Amish will actually discipline the person who breaks that rule. Brad and I try to practice that at all times … which still means occasionally having to bite our tongues. Every now and then one of us will say “You’re not being very Amish”, which serves to remind us that the past is dead and we need to leave it buried. That’s usually enough to make us laugh and knock it off.

Not only do we do this for those unfortunate months way back when, but we try to practice it as an ongoing discipline.

To boil Theresa’s advice down:

  • Remember, you two Christians made an unbreakable contract with God for your marriage. You can walk away legally, but God won’t. (This applies only to Christians married to Christians, btw.)
  • You can divorce, if you have a good reason, and provided you’re prepared to reconcile or remain single.
  • Regardless of the outcome, forgive. Don’t leave that anger hanging in your past so that it ruins your future. Forgiveness is not necessarily for the person who did wrong. It’s for you, so you don’t have to live with all that pain.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation. Because God created us to have free will, there are times when He can’t fix something that really needs fixing. Trust that He’ll be with you even when things don’t turn out the way that you want, and … because He’s there with you … you can be happy even when other people think you shouldn’t be.

Vagabond Writing   5 comments

How Do You Work While Traveling?
Many people work remote and travel with their work now. It really helps to see how others work and reach their goals while they’re traveling. Share your tips.

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Okay, I live in Alaska, where we are still in 3rd world status when it comes to connectivity, so working remote is different depending on where I am traveling.

Image result for image of a stenographer's notebookIf I’m traveling to Anchorage or the Lower 48, I bring my laptop and continue working like I always work … although I did stay at a friend’s house a while back who would not allow me to use his wi-fi. I still worked off-line and we went to Starbucks often enough that I could continue to do things on the Internet, just not on my own schedule. The cloud is very accessible these days and I also carry a thumb drive because it’s a lot harder to steal a thumb drive in my pocket than my laptop.

In reality, though, there are a lot of places I go where my laptop shouldn’t. It would just be a really stupid idea to take it camping, hiking, hunting, fishing or white-water rafting. The Alaska Marine Highway doesn’t have connectivity, but it also doesn’t have places to plug in. There are just a lot of places where I go that I can’t take my trusty writing tool.

But that doesn’t stop me. All I need to write is a spiral-bound stenographer’s pad and a pen. Those are almost always in my backpack as I hike into the woods. I take it with me when I’m going somewhere without connectivity. I usually carry one with me even when I travel in the Lower 48 because sometimes we have odd friends with issues about wi-fi. I can write anywhere with my steno notebook and pen. What I lose in efficiency by having to transcribe into the computer later I sometimes offset by the burst of creativity that writing long-hand affords me.

Sometimes the simplest approach is the best.

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