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 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.)

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 Audiobook “Forest at the Edge of the World”

I never thought sitting in my closet talking to my laptop could be so fun. (And not only because I heard my husband walk into the closet and exclaim, “A chair? Why is there a chair in here?” Our walk-in closet is also part of the bathroom, so he was really confused as to my purpose. I think he’s put it together now, though, when I vanish in there for an hour at a time and talk to my clothes.)

It’s fun just reading these stories out loud, and also freeing. A dear friend of mine assured me that perfection isn’t necessary; my best is enough. What a liberating, delightful assurance! God also doesn’t ask for perfection; He asks for our best, and that is enough.

Wow. You can really get through life with that attitude.

(I did redo one of these chapters entirely, though, because I had a coughing fit in the middle of it and realized that was not my best effort.)

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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

Thank a mentor today–they probably don’t realize how they’ve inspired you!

Today I sent an email to my old AP Biology teacher, Doyle Norton, who I found again four years ago. I graduated from high school in the 1980s, but Mr. Norton has influenced me as a teacher, even now. He was creative, hilarious, yet so intent about us learning the content. I was thrilled to pass the AP Biology test! Four years ago I wrote him and told him how much he meant to me. He wrote back the greatest, most enthusiastic email–typical for Mr. Norton!

Today, as I started planning for my third year of teaching AP English in a few weeks, I thought of Doyle Norton again and sent him a follow-up email. I realized I’d never told him I was an AP teacher now, too, and I thanked him profusely for his teaching style which I try to emulate (even though biology and English aren’t exactly interchangeable). I’m awaiting his response (I sure hope he’s still kicking around–he’d be in his seventies) but it felt great to say, “I’m now getting to pretend to be you!”

PICT0007

Doyle Norton, circa 1986, on a biology trip to southern California

It’s an immense responsibility to share your vision of the world with the rising generation. That vision needs to be shared carefully, honestly, fairly, and beautifully. I’m still working on that, and will for the rest of my life.

Today with the Light the World initiative is the suggestion to thank a mentor for their influence. Try it. You’ll make everyone’s day–especially your own!

control world students see