Merry Christmas, and watch out for the New Year

Merry Christmas, friends!

I had so hoped that today I could give you a full download of book 1 in one chapter-separated audio file, and a lot of Book 2 chapters as an audio book.

However, at Thanksgiving we were visited by the stomach flu bug, which a week later was followed by COVID. Both my husband and I were felled at the same time, nearly within the same hour. There were COVID outbreaks at both of our jobs, before and after we became ill, and at our son’s part-time job (he brought us home the stomach flu first).

For 10 days we were knocked down, hard.

Blessedly, our college-age son was well enough to get drive-thru dinners for his siblings, and our teenage daughter who had no symptoms could go through self-checkout lines and get us supplies of Gatorade and soup (shout-out to Progresso and Campbells Chunky soups for being so easy and making us feel like we were swallowing down bowls of vitamins).

We’ve also been enormously blessed to have understanding bosses who cared more for our well-being than the fact that we were missing over a week of work.

But most of all, I’m grateful for specific blessings of health. One Saturday, five days sick, I crashed, hard. My tachycardia heart couldn’t calibrate itself, and I felt a fatigue I’ve never experienced before. I worried that this might be “it.” But I also knew it wasn’t “it”. I know there is more that I need to do in this life. And since 99.7% of people recover (with few ever needing hospitalization), why should I not think I could?

I asked my husband to pray for me, specifically requesting that I begin to get over this. He did, promising that I “would begin to reclaim my life, day by day.” The next day, I was well enough to get down to the couch. The next day, I was stronger still.

By the next Saturday, one week later, I felt so healthy that I scrubbed all of the bathrooms, rearranged my closet (my “recording studio”), tossed out three bags of purged junk, and made dinner AND dessert. Two days after that, I walked my regular three-mile circuit, pulled by a puppy I’m babysitting, with no problems.

Prayer works.

In fact, it’s really the only thing that does.

I still have bronchitis which visits me yearly, but even that is waning, so hopefully soon I’ll have enough voice and fewer coughing fits that I can get back to recording Book 2 very soon.

I feel reborn in a strange way. Everything about my body feels different somehow, similar to as after having a baby. The body has to “find” itself again and reclaim what it used to be. I’ve heard others recovering from COVID mention the same thing. (And not all of it is bad–I see advantages to not having a sense of smell: my house has never smelled cleaner! Anyone have stinky diapers they need changed? I can do that, no problem.)

But already I know I won’t go back to what I was. Nor do I want to. I feel God pushing me on to different planes. I did a lot of thinking when I was feverish and exhausted (not much else you can do except watch reruns of “The Crown”).

Much was taught to me during those two weeks, and I’m looking into ideas and meditations that I haven’t before, finding great strength and insight I haven’t expected. (And I also have all these lovely natural immunities; bodies are strong and resilient.)

Nothing’s the same, anywhere.

Friends, if you haven’t felt that the world is different yet, you have to, or you’ll be surprised in very unpleasant ways.

Two years ago, this COVID threat began to rise in Wuhan, China. But that wasn’t all. More came with it, much that we couldn’t yet see, but it’s been impressed upon me for the past two years that the world is changing, and will continue to change. I believe much of that will be revealed in the next year.

There’s no going back to “normal.”

Why would the “Administrators” give back power once they’ve taken so much hold of it? Not without a battle, not without some kind of catastrophic collapse of power. That will be coming, I feel it in my gut and in my mind.

I haven’t seen one country in the world relinquish any of the additional control it’s illegally seized since this all began. Trust me–none ever will peacefully.

When I wrote Book 6 Flight of the Wounded Falcon where Young Pere travels to Edge and finds a strange, unpredictable place, it nearly broke my heart to do that to Edge, a village I’d grown to love.

But a strange impression came over me as I drafted those pages: Our world would also, in a few years, become as strange and unpredictable. It would become unrecognizable. And it has. Frankly, I didn’t think it’d happen for many more years—I wanted to be older and wiser when everything started to go weirdly downhill. But it’s happening now.

Nothing in the next few years will be anything that we’re used to. All we can do is hold on and listen to the promptings of the Spirit, which may tell you to do something different than it tells me, because we are all on different paths.

Most of all, we need to have compassion for each other, love for those whose paths are different, and choose to cling to each other, and not let the sharp divisiveness that is trying to pit city against city, family against family, parent against child. It’s been prophesied, but it doesn’t have to happen to you or me.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Revelator and others saw our day. And honestly, they saw terrible, strange things. But we can get through these years if we choose to love despite everything, choose to support instead of tear down, and choose to hear Him, who I promise is coming, sooner than we realize.

It’s time to build Zion, beginning in our own hearts.

All my love and hope for you this coming year. We’ll need all that we can get.

Audiobook FINISHED! Chapters 23-24 now available

It’s finished, guys! I thought this would take me until January to get finished, but once I decided to do it, I found ways to keep going. The Forest at the Edge of the World is complete! (And that last chapter is just over an hour, so take an extra long walk or deep clean your fridge as you listen. Why do I write such long chapters?!)

Yes, that means Book 2, Soldier at the Door, will be coming soon. I need to work on the thumbnail for it, then I’ll start recording chapter by chapter for that one as well.

Audiobook Chapters 20-22

Today I took my students through some Emerson, and one student said, “I feel he’s calling me out! I’m always procrastinating and I just can’t make myself do something it it’s not going to be perfect. He says we doubt ourselves and that holds us back!”

“Well?” I responded.

“Well, he’s right!” she declared, guiltily and angrily.

“And what was true nearly 200 hundred years is true now. This is just human nature, but we can dare to be better.” Then I told them about my great fear and hesitation to make these Youtube videos of me reading very imperfectly my imperfect book chapters, but that I’m doing it anyway. I can’t wait for perfection; I’ve always been a B+ student, and sometimes B+ is the best we can hope for.

And that this process has been immensely fun and going faster than I anticipated.

They claimed they were going to listen to my chapters someday, but they can’t now because none of them are allowed computers in our treatment center. And when they leave our program, they’ll have forgotten all about this and I’ll be safe from their mocking. (Whew.)

Still, this has been so much fun. I’m totally enjoying this. And it seems about half a dozen people are as well. Last couple of chapters should be up this week sometime.

Audiobook Chapters 17-19

I teach high school English at a residential treatment center, and today I showed my students selections of “Mulan” as part of a unit in Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. (We’re tracking the cycle in a variety of stories and movies, such as Harry Potter and Hunger Games).

As my students spontaneously sang along with, “Make a Man Out of You!” I realized that Capt. Shang has a lot in common with Perrin, except that Perrin is of Japanese descent (“shin” means “truth”) while Shang is Chinese.

I hadn’t realized before how much Shang may have unconsciously influenced my character development of Perrin:

“Tranquil as the forest . . .”

(Admit you, you sang along in your head, didn’t you?)

“Mysterious as the dark side of the moooooon!”

(There. We both knew we had to finish it.)

Audiobook Chapters 11-13 ready (14 delayed by Relf-voice)

I was really hoping I could 14 done tonight, too, but my voice couldn’t hold out for two long chapters, and started sounding as gravelly as Relf Shin. Sadly, I didn’t have any Relf Shin lines to read, though. (Mahrree’s lines were really starting to sound bad.)

I’ll have to record chapter 14 tomorrow. Stay tuned . . .

Chapters 6-10 Audiobook ready on Youtube

Yeah, I’m cranking these out. It’s absolute joy.

I can’t tell you how much I look forward to going to my closet to read out loud. When I’m having a rough time at work (I teach at a residential treatment center for high school girls), I remind myself, “Just a few more hours and I get to read out loud about Edge. That’s your reward!”

There’s so much in these chapters that I couldn’t think of which to “meme” (plus I’m late with making dinner, so I don’t have time). But I’m finding myself startled by how much I wrote is actually happening to us right now. I kind of suspected some day these problems would be ours, but I didn’t think it’d be so soon.

The big questions: Who do you trust? And what would it take for you to completely change your mind about something?

An Audiobook! Sort of . . .

For years (about eight, I think) I’ve been wanting to turn my books into audiobooks. But the process is time-consuming if you do it yourself, and expensive if you hire someone else to do it. Since I don’t make any money off of my books, and I’m a school teacher, affording a few thousand bucks per book just wasn’t realistic, nor did I have the time to do it all myself.

But then, early in the morning of Labor Day, I had a bizarre dream that woke me up, and I eventually came to the realization that I could do a YouTube channel of me just reading my books, as I do for my high school students. The recordings didn’t have to be perfect (which I can never do anyway) so a LOT of pressure was taken away, I could make a video-per-chapter relatively quickly and easy, and best of all it’d be free–for you and for me!

So my goal is to read a few chapters a week, beginning with Book 1, and see just how far I can go.

You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYu2xT0b_plwsNnIK7P6ZBw

And here’s my first attempt at mangling my own books. (I wouldn’t dare read anyone else’s and record it, so it’s ok if I do an only half-way decent job on my own!)

Worst tactic in the battle: canceling and silencing your enemies

Strategically, it’s a bad idea to silence the “emotional” and “illogical” rather than to let it rant. I personally want—no, need—to know what everything thinks, no matter what extreme side they’re on. (I sit in “the middle” so everyone is “extreme” to me.)

“Cancelling” those who you disagree with on Twitter, Facebook, etc. is a dangerous tactic; you’ve lost your insights on what the “opposition” is plotting next.

As a high school teacher, I can assure you that ejecting an angry student from class doesn’t always humble their behavior. Exclusion doesn’t always make them want to reform to become part of “the group.” Exclusion instead often makes them stronger in their oppositional behavior. They become even more “rebellious” to prove their point.

Ignoring those who think differently than you is akin to those in a war refusing intel about movements of their enemy. “Oh, they’re about to invade by crossing our river? Ooh, I don’t like that! That’s not what I want to hear!”

Ignorance leads to irrational decisions. Knowing the next moves of the opposition is crucial to winning your battle and then the war.

Unless you’re afraid their strategy is better than yours.

Unless you’re afraid your battle isn’t based on a wholly solid, noble premise.
Even then, if the enemy is calling out your weaknesses, wouldn’t you want to know that? To turn them into strengths?

Unless the “emotional and illogical” are telling you a truth you don’t know how to counter, a truth that demonstrates the fallibility of your position.

And you’re desperate to create an alternative “truth” that gives you what you want, despite the heavy casualties that will undoubtedly follow.

“Silencing” and “canceling” only suggest that you’re afraid your opponents are right.

However . . .

Zion allows for all ideas of thought. Zion doesn’t force, or coerce, or censor. Zion allows for debate and discourse and even disagreement—civil disagreement. And still people can be of “one mind and one heart” without agreeing on every detail. (I look at my own family; I still love and work with them, even though some may be Star Wars geeks and others are devoted to The Lord of the Rings.)

It’s time to stop silencing other and start Building Zion. #buildzion