Snake!

Sorry this is a little late, but we had a little incident in our home.

I woke up on Palm Sunday. We weren’t going to church, because of the Coronavirus restrictions. But it was Palm Sunday. My wife and I decided to take advantage of the fact that many services are available online now, especially in response to Coronavirus. Particularly, my sister–a Presbyterian minister–had started filming her services at home to broadcast on Facebook and YouTube. My wife gathered some palm leaves, tied a ribbon around them, and taped them to the door.

Palm leaves on front door
Staying home on Palm Sunday

She made blueberry pancakes, and I made scrambled eggs. We were looking forward to a pleasant breakfast and my sister leading worship right in our home. While I was getting my plate together, my wife called out from the dining room. It almost sounded like the way she screamed when she saw a mouse, but there was something different about it. I figured it must be a critter of some kind.

She rushed back to the kitchen. I asked what it was, but she couldn’t even tell me. I went to see, and there in the middle of our dining room floor was a snake. Not a big one, it was only a little more than a foot long. But still, a snake. In our home. That cannot stand.

Perhaps the truest verse in the Bible is when God told the serpent there would always be enmity between women and snakes (Gen 3:15). She hates snakes, and I wasn’t thrilled about it either.

It started crawling for the china cabinet. I stepped on it before it got there. The front half was under the cabinet, so I figured that would block it from making a quick strike on my foot. But I was only wearing sandals. Maybe its head would come back out. So I lifted my foot, and it went under the china cabinet. Great! Now how are we going to get it out? Needless to say, Palm Sunday and worship were forgotten at that point.

You Will Trample the Serpent Under Foot?

Why didn’t I just keep my foot on the snake? I had stopped it from going under the china cabinet. And the Bible says, “You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot” (Psa 91:12).

I had it under my foot, just like the Bible says. Should I grab it at the bottom half and pull it out? I shouldn’t have been afraid to do it. After all, the Bible says, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: … they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mar 16:17-18 NRS).

So I could just grab that snake and not worry about whether it was poisonous, and then take it deep into the woods outside my home and release it. That’s supposed to be one of the signs of a believer. While I had it under my foot, why didn’t I grab it? For the same reason I don’t drink cyanide, strychnine, or diesel fuel, even though this verse says it won’t hurt me. Folks, hear me when I say this. NOT EVERYTHING IN THE BIBLE IS SUPPOSED TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY.

So no, I’m not going to grab that snake with my bare hands because of a couple of Bible verses taken out of context. The point of Psalm 91 is not for you to go to the local zoo, climb into the lion’s cage, and jump on its back and say, “Look, I can trample a lion underfoot, because I believe in Jesus Christ.” Many Christians in the first century found that was not meant literally, in case you’ve forgotten.

So we were trying to figure out how to get him out from under there, and how to trap him once he did. While I kept an eye on the snake to be sure he didn’t leave and crawl under something else, my wife brought a Hello Fresh box, a rake, a paint roller, a broom and dustpan, a yardstick, and a pillow case for various ideas we had. I tried calling local pest removal services, but they were closed. Whether because of Coronavirus or that it was Sunday, I don’t know. Finally, I went to the best how-to source on the web, YouTube, and found this from a Tampa area pest control expert.

Glue traps. That was his advice. My wife went to the dollar store to get some.

Rat Guard(R) Disposable Glue Traps
Works on rats, mice, insects, and snakes (small ones at least)

Meanwhile, I wondered if we might need to move the china cabinet to force him out, so I removed everything from the top section. We never moved it. Instead, we put some glue traps under it. But how do we force the snake onto the trap? My wife fashioned a coat hanger and prodded it into the corner, where I had set a trap. Then its tail showed out the back. I folded another glue trap over its tail to make sure I had it. It was hard to pull out, because the front half was indeed stuck to a glue trap.

A rat snake caught in two glue traps
We caught the snake with glue traps

I thought about killing it, but the guy in the video reminded me a lot of snakes kill and eat other pests, like mice and rats. It didn’t look like any of the poisonous varieties of snakes in this area, so I was okay with letting it go. He said you could free it from the trap with vegetable oil. I tried the tail first (after going outside, of course). The snake worked its tail free, so one trap down. I took it deep into the woods and poured oil over it. Within a few minutes, he worked himself free and crawled away. Later, I found out it was a rat snake, so I’m glad I let him go.

Lessons for Coronavirus

I had never had to remove a snake from my house before. I didn’t know what to do, so how did I do it? By quoting Bible verses, or naming and claiming promises from the Bible? Truth is, I did quote this verse in my mind.

“You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.”

(Psa 91:12)

But you already said not to take that verse literally, so what good was that supposed to do?

I said don’t take it literally. I didn’t say don’t meditate on it. I meditated on that verse the whole time I was trying to figure out what to do, the whole time I pulled the snake out and took it outside, and while I was pouring oil over it to release it. I wasn’t treating it as a promise that God was somehow obligated to put a force field around me and my wife, so the snake couldn’t touch us. “Come on, honey. We can just wait for it to come back out, and I’ll grab it then. Here’s two verses that say snakes can’t hurt us, because we’re believers. Don’t you believe the Bible?” How do you think that would have gone over?

I still put on whatever protective equipment I could: socks, shoes, long pants, and gloves. I didn’t expect that quoting that verse meant the snake couldn’t bite me. I meditated on it for one reason only: To keep myself calm through the process.

I listened to an expert, I did what the expert said, and it worked. I didn’t use the scripture as a substitute for expert advice, only as something to meditate on so I could stay calm. The author of this Psalm did not mean for it to be taken literally. It would help all of us to remember Psalms were originally sung. Songs and poetry most of the time are not meant to be taken literally. They are meant to move us emotionally. Emotions were running high with a snake in our house. This song was made for moments like this. It was meant to help you stay calm and trust God when you have to do something that scares you. And I can tell you in that way, it worked for me.

So with Coronavirus, just as with snakes, listen to the experts and follow their advice.

What Time I Am Afraid, I Will Trust in Thee

Psalm 91 is one of the most popular scriptures for promoting peace of mind in stormy circumstances, and with good reason. It is not a license to abandon common sense. As I heard a preacher today talking about his reasons for closing the church and moving services online, “Faith works best when it’s combined with common sense.” So with the understanding that this is not a “promise” that “obligates” God to protect you from Coronavirus by becoming your invisible hazmat suit, I invite you to meditate on these scriptures from Psalm 91 that I am meditating on for comfort and peace in the storm.

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”  

(Psa 91:1-2 NRS)

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;  he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge;

(Psa 91:3-4 NRS)

You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

(Psa 91:5-6 NRS)

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

(Psa 91:7 NRS)

Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. 

(Psa 91:9-10 NRS)

When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

(Psa 91:15-16 NRS)

-Grace and Peace to you.


If you want something to read while staying at home, check out my award-winning ebook, Dark Nights of the Soul: Reflections on Faith and the Depressed Brain, also available in paperback. And check out other books I recommend on Biblical Fiction, Depression, and Self-Publishing.

Happy Holidays!

I am not posting any blogs until next year. I will resume the first Monday morning. And I hope to have a pretty major announcement then.

Until then, Happy Holidays. Or …

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, Happy Sol Invictus, Happy New Year, and Happy Dia de los Reyes. Oh, and a Happy Festivus for the rest of us.

Now do you understand why some people say Happy Holidays?

I'm underwater with my right hand above

Baptism with my right hand above the water

My parents live in Honolulu, so if I want to visit them, I have to fly there. I know. Life is hard. Anyway, I went with my wife and stepson recently. My sister and brother-in-law came as well. Of course, in addition to seeing everyone, I was looking forward to getting in the water.

The day before we were to fly out, I got a flat tire. While I was trying to get to the spare in the trunk, my hand slipped and banged against something. My thumb started bleeding. That’s what I get for trying to fix it myself. I called roadside assistance while trying to stop the bleeding, got the car towed to a place where I could get a new tire, and then went to the emergency room to get my thumb stitched.

We stayed at a hotel near the airport, so we could get there on time. While washing my hands, I broke open a stitch or two. I managed to get the bleeding stopped, but how would affect my beach time? The doctor and nurse who stitched me said after about twenty-four hours, I would be okay to put it in water. However, that was with the wound closed. Now that it was re-opened, I couldn’t be sure anymore. It was Friday night, we had to make the flight Saturday morning, so it would probably wouldn’t be until Monday that I could see a doctor again.

Well, the doctor said I should keep the hand out of the water, just as I feared. Even thought it’s salty, the marine life has to take care of their business in the ocean (not to mention some people, but we won’t go there). That was not a problem without broken skin, but… It was still a good trip but a huge disappointment that I couldn’t really get into the water the way I wanted.

On my last day, I went all the way into the water with my right hand sticking out. I got my wife and stepson to take pictures.

I'm underwater with my right hand above
Does Baptism like this count?

This wasn’t just about obeying doctor’s orders. I was re-enacting a bit of Roman history. One story I heard about the Roman army is that when the emperor Constantine wanted his soldiers to be baptized, they asked if they could keep their right hands above the water. Why would they do that? Because the right hand was their sword/spear hand. It was the hand they used to kill in battle. This is one reason I believe early Christianity was a pacifist religion. I mean, when your founder says, “Love your enemies,” doesn’t that pretty much preclude killing them?

However, soldiers after Constantine were not prohibited from killing. Constantine’s rule marked a sea change where Christianity went from being distrusted and sometimes persecuted by the empire to being the religion of the empire. Unfortunately, it adopted the violent ways of the empire, among other things that we are still living with today.

When people say the church needs to get back to the first century, I wonder if they understand what that really means. Persecution could spring up anywhere without warning, and you could not kill to defend yourself. Their belief was that life was a gift from God. Only God could decide when a person’s life would end. That meant you could not kill for any reason: abortion, euthanasia, war (even if it’s just), the death penalty, or self-defense. Not even to defend your loved ones. When their lives were threatened they did not return evil for evil. They trusted God enough to believe in overcoming evil with good. They did not expect non-Christians to live the same way, but these acts were forbidden in the church nonetheless.

What would it look like if the church really did that? I explore this in a novel I am getting ready to publish with the title (subject to change) Through Fear of Death. A gladiator named Silas converts to Christianity. This means he cannot kill. His defiance will incur the wrath of his lanista and the Procurator of the Games. He finds an unlikely ally in his prison guard, a retired soldier named Marcus Valentinius. Will their friendship and loyalty be strong enough to bring down a ruthless emperor, or will Rome’s system of violence and treachery destroy them?

Through Fear of Death cover choice1, gladiator helmet
One possible cover for my upcoming novel
Through Fear of Death possible cover image, gladiator in arena
Another possible cover for my upcoming novel

If you have an opinion about these covers, let me know in the comments below.

Love post – First Anniversary

 

If I wrote a book titled How to Meet and Marry Your Soulmate in Just 50 Years, do you think it would sell? I think back to myself at eighteen. He would not have bought that book. He needed God to come through much sooner than that.

At eighteen, I prayed, believing I would receive the wife that God had matched to me, because the Bible promised it. What scriptures are there to promise a wife?

 

It is not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18).

She is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone (Gen 2:24).

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD (Prov. 18:22).

Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD (Prov. 19:14).

It is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor. 7:9).

 

Oh, yeah. That last one. I was eighteen years old. You know what it’s like at that age. Hormones were driving a lot of these prayers. But more than that I wanted to find my rib, the woman who would be flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. In other words, my soulmate. If you want God to introduce you to your Miss Right, you can’t settle for Miss Right-Now. At least that was what I was taught. I wanted to finish college and get a career before I got married. There was some waiting involved. I understood that and accepted it. I figured it would be worth it if I married the woman God intended for me.

But the waiting was much longer than I thought it would be, and it took a toll on my relationship with God. I blamed God for all the years of frustration, opportunities missed, and the ticking of my biological clock. You don’t hear men talk about that, but at a certain age I saw my potency slipping away from me. How was I going to have children? If God were going to answer that prayer of mine, you’d think God would have made it happen in time that my (still nonexistent) wife and I could have made that choice. God promised to grant the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). I listened to preachers who set up those expectations for me, and it just made the disappointment greater.

 

Why is the game of love so hard to win?

 

There are some things I understand now that I did not understand then. My mom summed it up when she told me, “You will never find another woman who’s a better fit for you than Fran.” She never said that about any of my previous girlfriends. And with good reason. She was right on both counts, as mothers usually are.

When you are with the right person, you don’t have to talk yourself into it. You don’t have to make excuses for all the ways they make you miserable. The thought of spending my whole life with other girlfriends made me scared. There was too much drama with them. With Fran, the thought of spending the rest of my life with her made me happy. More and more, I got the feeling she was what had been missing in my life. She was both my true love and my best friend. In other words, my soulmate. I had a hard time understanding why my other relationships did not work out. Now, I know. I just did not know what it looked like to be with the right woman until I met Fran.

It was about thirty years later when the prayers of that eighteen-year-old were finally answered. In all that time, I’ve learned the game of trying to find the love of your life is so unfair. You don’t know what it looks like to be with her until you actually meet her. Before then, the rush of being in love can easily fool you. With all my previous girlfriends, there were moments when I thought they could be the one, but we just were not good matches for the long term. Eventually I figured that out. That saved me from marrying the wrong person. But each time it left me frustrated, wondering when will I meet the right person. For a long time, I resented God for making me wait so long.

People would tell me, “It will happen when you don’t expect it.” I did not see how that was possible. Every time I met a new woman, I noticed two things: Is she attractive, and does she have a wedding ring. I got some of them to go out with me, but it never worked out. Eventually, I got so frustrated I gave up completely. So God said, “It is not good for man to be alone”? Apparently God did not include me in that. I resigned myself to a fate of being single my whole life. And then I met her, and fate changed its mind.

Newlyweds

 

What I like most so far is how natural it feels for us to be together. I don’t think about being married the same way I don’t think about breathing. It’s just the way it’s supposed to be. Occasionally, people will remind me, though. Friends or family will ask, “How’s married life?” “Great,” I tell them with a smile. When we tell people we are newlyweds, they are always happy for us. That has been fun. I figured we could keep it going for the first year. A year has passed, and I’m wondering if I can still keep it going.

When something feels natural, though, the danger is in taking it for granted. If anything good has come of waiting so long, it’s that I think it’s impossible to take her for granted. We went to a writer’s group in Buford, Georgia back in May. I talked to one of the men there. He said he has been married fourteen years and still considers himself a newlywed. So my plan now is to keep thinking of us as newlyweds, at least for thirteen more years. And then . . . maybe another fourteen years?

collage of proposal

Show Don’t Tell

 

Writers hear the saying “Show don’t tell” all the time. What that means is you don’t tell what the character is feeling. You show it in their actions, physical response, facial expressions, body language, etc. Instead of saying, “He was worried,” or “He was anxious,” you might say, “His brow furrowed.” Fran says I had a furrowed brow when we first met. Now that furrow is gone. What does that show you? For me, it shows how much my relationship with God has healed.

It also shows I didn’t know how much I needed her until I knew her.

Fran with caramel apples we made

What if?

 

If there was one thing I could have changed, it would be having a child or two of my own, in my thirties or maybe late twenties. That ship has sailed. It’s highly unlikely at this point that we would have any children together, unless God pulls an Isaac on us. And I don’t think I would have the energy or desire for it now.

I had no idea that what I was asking for was harder than I thought. I wanted a relationship and a marriage the way it was in the Garden before the Fall. She was flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone. They matched on every level: spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. If I had just asked for a wife because it is better to marry than to burn, maybe it would not have taken so long. I might have been able to get married in college to satisfy those yearnings. But I asked for more.

When I got married, I wanted it to be right in every way, and I wanted it to be for life. The vast majority of couples, when they get married, don’t think they’ll get divorced. They think it will be for life. And yet, over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Why? I don’t have the answer, and I’m not in a position to judge anyone. If I had married one of my previous girlfriends, I’m sure we would have ended up divorced. I just didn’t want my marriage to be part of that statistic. That meant I needed a woman I connected with on every level.

What if God had said to my eighteen-year-old self, “I can give you your heart’s desire. It’s going to take time before it is right for the two of you to come together. I won’t promise you will be able to have children when it happens”? Would I have taken that?

I might have asked a couple of questions, like, “Why is it taking so long? If you can turn stones into children of Abraham, surely there is more than one woman in the world who can be my wife. If she doesn’t exist yet, take one of my ribs and make her like you did from Adam.”

And God might have said something like, “I haven’t worked that way since the Fall. She does exist. All I am promising is that in the fullness of time, you will meet the desire of your heart.”

“How long is that?”

“In the fullness of time.”

 

Chronos and Kairos

 

When you pray for something, it’s really hard to pin down an exact time from God. Look at all the times throughout history someone thought they had figured the exact time of the Rapture, and it still hasn’t happened. So when will it happen? Just like the first advent of Christ happened in the fullness of time, the second advent will happen the same way. So stop trying to calculate when.

In Greek, there are two different words for time: Chronos (quantitative time) and Kairos (qualitative time). We live in Chronos, where time is measured in seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, etc. God operates in Kairos, which means it happens at the right time.

At eighteen I was in Virginia, and she was in South Carolina. The time was not right for us to come together. It took about thirty years to make it happen. As we got to know each other, we learned that all the while, God was slowly, imperceptibly moving us toward each other, so that at the right time, we finally met. It would take a whole other post to tell how it all worked together, but it was enough to convince me whether I believed it or not, God kept working to make it happen at the right time.

Since then it has been a lot easier to trust that God is working everything in my life – even my most frustrating and painful moments – for good, as Romans 8:28 says. So when I ask why God didn’t give me children, if I believe God knew what He was doing better than I did, there must be a reason. I don’t know the reason, and I don’t have to, because even that was something God did for my good. I couldn’t always believe that. But my relationship with God has healed to the point that now I can.

David and Fran wedding photo

Infinity

 

This is a famous passage from The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, first a book and later made into a movie.

 

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

 

Remember that statistic about 50% of marriages ending in divorce? That hasn’t been true in my family, including extended families. At family reunions, I have great aunts and uncles who have been married fifty, sixty, seventy years. Some who have outlived their spouses. I have cousins who got married at a “normal age” and are still with the same person. A few were divorced and remarried, but not many.

Fran and I will complete our first year of marriage this weekend. It’s very unlikely – unless God does something incredible – that we will live to be married as long as my grandparents were, my parents have been, her parents have been, and of course my many great aunts and uncles and even some cousins have been. I don’t know how long we will have together before one or both of us leaves this world. In comparing the length of time we will have together versus what they have already had, and will have, our Chronos looks so small. John Green reminds me here that no matter how short the time, in Kairos she has already given me infinity within the numbered days. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Ring - Best friend, true love

Led Zeppelin sermon

September 7 marked the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s first live performance. They have been my favorite band since I was sixteen. It seemed a good time to follow through on something I told my friends in college, that I could make a sermon out of Led Zeppelin songs, so here goes. There are 79 songs in here. See if you can find them all.

50 years since the first gig. Led Zeppelin. September 7th, 1968

Feeling dazed and confused ‘cause you’re trying to find your stairway to Heaven? Ten years gone, and you’re still searching for the houses of the holy? You’re out on the tiles, sick again ‘cause you got the hots on for nowhere. Life is wearing and tearing on you. You can’t sleep because of what is and what should never be. When you’re under the Crunge, life can feel like you’re being trampled under foot. It ain’t nothing but a communication breakdown between you and your creator.

Whether it’s in the evening or on some night flight to a southbound suarez, it’s like I told Darlene, my black country woman, “Your time is gonna come.” Oh that living loving maid. She’s just a woman. When she left me down by the seaside, I cried, “I can’t quit you, Baby,” but she just said, “Hey, hey, what can I do?”

Life was lonely as tea for one. I sailed away and threw myself into the ocean, waiting for Moby Dick to swallow me. But in the darkest depths, I heard God say to me, “Fight for your life.” And for the first time I knew, I mean I really knew, God is with me always.

So believe me when I tell you, friends, it doesn’t matter if you’re a rover and an immigrant, traveling the riverside and singing the blues. You can go over the hills and far away to some misty mountain hop, and God is there for you. You can travel to the black mountain side of Bron-Yr-Aur, and God is there. Even in the ozone, baby, God is there. How many more times must I tell you, God is with you through good times, bad times, even when the levee breaks.

Poor Tom. He thought the Devil was his rock and roll, but that black dog don’t give no quarter. He wants you to keep wandering, lost in the rain. I know because I faced my own devil, and I had to admit to him, “You shook me.”

Oh yes! Oh yes! It’s nobody’s fault but mine. But I’m free today because I told that old heartbreaker, “Babe, I’m gonna leave you,” and I left my wanton ways behind.

Hats off to Roy Harper. He took Walker’s walk to the gallows pole, where he made Achilles’ last stand. In his time of dying, he cried out, “Oh my Jesus! Oh my Jesus! Oh my Jesus! Oh my Jesus!”

So stop being a fool in the rain and step in the light. Because wherever you are, going to California or Royal Orleans or Kashmir or D’yer Maker, the song remains the same.

I don’t mean to ramble on, so let me bring it on home. I’m gonna crawl if that’s what it takes for you to understand. I’m sending you all of my love to let you know this is how you win the battle of evermore. Not with four sticks, but two, joined together. He took that cross on himself to show he’s got a whole lotta love for you, and he won’t never quit you.

Do you feel it now? Do you hear that Carouselambra of the Spirit? Hot dog! This is your celebration day! Are you wondering what you should say? Thank you would be a good start. We’ll boogie With Stu. I’ll bring lemons and tangerines and give a Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, because these are your dancing days. You’ll be like a kid in a candy store rock. That’s the way you get through this life. Beloved, I tell you a mystery. You don’t need to search anymore, because you are all houses of the Holy. God bless all of you.

 

Valentines Day Post

For Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d tell you how I met my new wife. Before I met her, I had given up on my dream of marrying the love of my life. So if, like me, you’ve reached a point of giving up and thinking it will never happen for you, I hope this will give you some hope.

image of me and Fran with wedding cake

Fran and I met at a meeting of American Christian Fiction Writers, which my mom told me about, so she gets credit for that. Fran and I were placed in the same critique group, and she had brought the first chapter of a suspense novel she was working on. She had a man watching some security footage of his cabin, thinking he would catch the thieves who stole his canoeing equipment, but instead witnessed a murder. And then through conversation, he found out his boss might have been involved. I was impressed. I told her she had already created fertile ground for suspense.

After the session, we talked a little. I asked if she would like to meet at a coffee shop next Saturday for a mutual critique session, and she agreed. Now you have to understand when I’m interested in a woman, I go into stealth mode. I don’t want her to know I’m attracted to her until the right moment. So for now, we were just talking about writing.

Our critique session went well, and our personalities seemed to click. But before I knew it, we were about to go home. I started to panic, because I had to tell her before she walked away. Time to get out of stealth mode. I said, “I was interested in your writing. But the real reason I asked meet with you is I noticed you’re not wearing a wedding ring.”

And she said, “I think I’m a little old for you.”

Oh no!

I blurted out, “I’m older than you think.”

People tend to think I look younger than I am. I always thought this would be an advantage in approaching women. But now, I had to totally get my head turned around, because I had to convince her I was actually old enough for her. I told her how old I really was, and she replied, “A southern lady doesn’t tell her age.”

I was not going to ask, in case you are wondering. But since the topic was in the open, I needed to reframe it so she could answer in lady-like fashion. I told her, “And a southern gentleman doesn’t ask. But since you know my age, maybe you could just tell me, am I within your range of possibility?”

She said yes, and that’s how it all began.

2018 Writing Resolutions

Found this post in one of my FB author groups, BooksGoSocial Authors’ Group. It’s a closed group, but if you are an author, you might consider joining.

What are everyone’s writing goals for 2018? Mine is to finish and release my two WIPs: the sequel to IVL and my side project novella.

Here was my answer.

David Anderson This is not official yet, but here are some of my ideas.

  • Complete two unfinished nonfiction projects
  • Find a publisher for my novel, win at least two contests
  • Publish at least ten articles, become an Amazon bestseller in Biblical Fiction, Historical Fiction, and a yet-to-be-determined Nonfiction category
  • Make enough money writing to finally justify this career choice.

Looks like 2018 will be a busy year

To be continued…

Thanksgiving for a long awaited wedding

Fran and I have been married for a month now. I wanted to post this on Thanksgiving. Because I have so many people I need to thank, I couldn’t get it done in time. But our one-month anniversary seems as good as anytime to recognize those who made our wedding possible. I’m not using names except where I think they may want publicity.

  • My grandparents, unfortunately, never got to meet her. They left a house that was paid for, and I was able to live in it. This allowed me to stay relatively close, so we could continue to see each other on weekends.
  • My parents, who supported my plan to stay in South Carolina, so I could see if this new relationship would go anywhere.
  • The ACFW writing group: We met there, writing was a big part of how we bonded, and others in the group have been very supportive of our relationship all along.
  • All my relatives and friends who showed up (or wanted to): You met her at family reunions and weddings and made her feel welcome.
  • Her parents: They received me graciously and gave their blessing.
  • Her relatives: including several who live nearby. If they had not approved of me, I know she would have had a lot of misgivings about getting married.
  • My Sunday School class: I knew church would be important in our lives. They became her friends as quickly as they had become mine.
  • My sister: for moral support and giving one of the best messages I’ve ever heard on 1 Cor 13/ 1 John 4:16-21.
  • My pastor: for conducting the ceremony and being a calm in the midst of the storm leading up to it.
  • My brother-in-law: for being the best man, for accepting what was probably the mildest “bachelor party” ever, and being totally cool with it.
  • To the bride’s son and brother for being ushers. I know your acceptance of me was crucial to her. And two who deserve special recognition:
  • A Purple Heart to the maid-of-honor: Broke her arm the day before. Would she let that stop her from being there on her BFF’s big day? If you think that, you don’t know her. Let a doctor put a cast on so she would not even miss the rehearsal dinner that night.
  • The Unsung Hero award to the friend who came to stay with the maid-of-honor in the emergency room (thus releasing Fran to get to the rehearsal), drove the maid-of-honor to the rehearsal dinner, and stayed overnight and through the wedding to drive her home.
  • To the bride’s great-nephews and great-nieces for being ushers and bridesmaids, and her 3-year-old great-niece for being the cutest flower girl ever.
  • To my own niece for being a bridesmaid, and my nephew for being ringbearer.
  • To her brother and sister-in-law for getting the decorations started and helping us clear them away the morning after, and to all the friends and family who helped behind the scenes. I know you did a lot more than I will ever know.

And for all the compliments we got on the ceremony, the venue, the music, and the food, here is who we all have to thank.

  • Music during the ceremony: Robert Parrish, classical guitar student at Anderson University, and Sylvia, vocalist/guitarist and friend from church and choir.
  • Music during the reception: Scott Smathers of Black Tie Entertainment.
  • Catering: Kellye Rainey and Sullivan’s Metropolitan Grill. The food tasted much more expensive than it actually was.
  • Venue: Shelby for making the entire space of the Bleckley Inn available from Friday to Sunday morning. It was the perfect package for ceremony, reception, and rooms to stay the night before and the night of, all in one.
  • The cake: a friend at Piedmont Tech who delivered a beautiful cake under less than ideal circumstances.
  • The dress: from David’s Bridal, and a friend who saved us a lot of money on alterations.
  • Men’s wardrobe: from Men’s Wearhouse.
  • Decorations: Event Rentals, Linda’s Florist, and items contributed by my bride and sister-in-law.

And most of all to my bride, who agreed to a big wedding and all the preparations and stress that came with it, when she would have been just as happy to get married in the courthouse and hold a reception at home sometime later.

And finally, I have to thank God. That may sound cliché, so I’ll explain why it’s not only right but necessary to say that. From the beginning, God said it is not good for man to be alone. When I was young and first started thinking about love, I had a hope of being married to a woman I could live happily with for the rest of my life, and who would be happy with me as well. I promised God I would be faithful to her always if He would bring her to me. When that didn’t happen, I grew frustrated and angry with God. I’ve always believed in being honest with God, so when I’m angry, I tell Him. God would comfort me, and I would be all right for a while. Eventually, I would get frustrated and angry again, God would comfort me again, and I would be all right for a while. This cycle kept repeating until I had had enough. I gave up completely.

“It will happen when you’re not expecting it,” people told me. How can I not expect it? Every time I met a woman I was attracted to and did not have a wedding ring, I wondered if she was the one. Should I talk to her? What do I say? If I don’t say anything to her, and she walks away, have I missed my chance? And when I did manage to say something, she wasn’t interested. “It is not good for man to be alone?” Apparently, God did not include me when He said that. I will be alone, but I will direct my energy into writing.

So when I went to a meeting of American Christian Fiction Writers in my town, I didn’t expect to meet someone. I was just going to learn about writing and network with other writers. But I happened to be placed in a critique session that included Fran. She shared the first chapter of a novel she was working on, and I found it and her intriguing. I don’t know how to talk to a beautiful woman, but I do know how to talk writing with another writer. I managed to convince her to meet me outside the group. When I finally got up the nerve to ask if she would go on a date with me, I could hardly believe it when she said yes. That was the beginning of the most beautiful relationship of my life.

And the funny thing is, we learned we had a number of connections through Abbeville before we ever met. She was born in Georgia, and her family moved to Abbeville when she was sixteen. My grandmother was born in Georgia, her family moved to Abbeville, and several of her brothers and sisters were born there. And as if that wasn’t enough, my sister met and married a man while living in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a brother named David who is married to a woman from Abbeville. How weird is that? What connection does Louisville have with Abbeville?

Our lives were connected in all these ways we never knew until we started seeing each other. And all the years I was angry at God, saying He let me down and had sentenced me to a life of being alone, God had begun connecting our lives together without our knowing it. And both of us can look back and see if we had met before we did, we would not have been ready for it. I thought I was ready long ago. But if you really want the right person to spend your life with, it’s not just about when you are ready personally. It is about when it’s the right time for the two of you to come together.

All of that was to say when I thank God, it is not because it’s what I’m supposed to say. It’s because I can see God was working all along to bring us together. It was not the way I would have done it. I wanted it to happen a lot faster. But just like when you plant an acorn because you want an oak tree, you don’t see the sprout growing beneath the ground. You can yell and scream and ask over and over again, where is the oak tree? You can give up and say the oak tree will never grow. You’ve waited and waited and waited, and nothing is happening. Oak trees are not God’s will for you, and you were a fool to believe they were. And all the while, the sprout keeps growing until one day it emerges. And it keeps growing, putting out branches and leaves, and eventually growing acorns that will grow into more oak trees. And then you realize from the moment you planted the acorn, that oak tree was already emerging.

I know everyone’s story is different. I don’t know any stories of soulmates finding each other that are quite like this. All I know is where she and I planted, God gave the increase. And that is why we are together now. As I said before, I believe in being honest with God. If I am honest in anger, I also need to be honest in praise and thanksgiving. I once thought I was a fool for believing I could have the kind of love my heart longed for. Now I know I was a fool for not believing. I can think of no words to express this whole experience with all its ups and downs except, Thank you.