They may do that, but we do NOT

It’s getting harder to teach my children civility when they see mature adults deliberately flouting the law.

Like right here:


We were at the grocery store waiting for my daughter when a seemingly healthy man around 60 and wearing nice vacation clothes pulled his Subaru up to this sign. I watched as he eyed it, pondered it, then shut off his car and got out. Astonished and knowing he saw the sign, I watched as he took a bag of trash to a can at the front of the store. But he wasn’t just tossing garbage; he took a cart then went in. This wasn’t a quick trip; he was shopping.

As I blinked in confusion, I heard, “Why’d he do that?”

Yessirree Bob, you who broke the law: a 13-year-old saw you ignore legal parking spaces ALL AROUND us, and saw you instead choose to do whatever you wanted.

“That’s against the law, isn’t it? Parking where you shouldn’t?”

Think about this: how are kids supposed to become civilized adults respecting the law when they see seemingly-respectable adults deliberately ignore it?

And people wonder how seeds of anarchy are planted, how civilizations crumble. It’s this way, folks. Seriously–THIS WAY. It starts with our youth witnessing selfish arrogance, and their own begins to grow.

Except when kids have moms like me who don’t put up with that behavior.

Fuming quietly, I said, “That IS against the law, and even though he may choose to do that, we do NOT.”

Now I try very hard to always think the best story about people, to assume goodness or innocence when something seemingly bad is happening. So perhaps this man has early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s and the sign confused him (a worrying thought since he’s driving); or maybe, because marijuana is legal in this state, he was buzzed (another worrying thought since he’s driving); or maybe he can’t read English and didn’t understand the sign (which is doubtful because he could have seen where the other dozen cars were parked and easily deduced where he should leave his Subaru).

Still, no matter what the reason, what an impressionable youth saw was an adult showing no regard for the law, or anyone else for that matter.

This is a huge problem.

I still believe in respecting the law, in treating others with kindness, and in doing what’s right even if–

No, ESPECIALLY when no one else seems to care.

So to my son I said, “Look how his car is blocking traffic, how he’s created a dangerous situation. People can’t see around him at that intersection. The sign is there to protect everyone, and he’s causing problems by his behavior.”

Don’t misbehave around me, because my duty as a mother demands that I draw attention to the behavior and teach my children what is acceptable and what is NOT.

Disrespect is exploding everywhere. I’ve written before how I’ve told my kids why I’ve “hidden” a number of adults they know on my Facebook feed because they won’t post anything civil. Name-calling, ridicule, snarkiness–none of that is ever acceptable behavior, but now it’s become a pastime.

Two days ago I came across a house listing posted on Facebook by someone with a large following. It wasn’t her house, but because she found its decor gaudy and over-the-top, she went out of her way to hold it up in a public place to mock the owner of the house. She went so far as to insinuate that certain religious groups “helped” the seller create such an “outrageous” house.

More than 80 people joined in the public derision of this innocent home owner’s pride and joy. All she was trying to do was sell her house. She didn’t deserve to be bullied, and that’s what it was: bullying.

Even more disgraceful was that many who commented were those I knew who claimed to be Christians.

It was if they forgot that Christians don’t bully one another. They don’t post snide comments about anyone–public figures, politicians, neighbors, random people they’ve never even met–no one.

And Christians certainly aren’t supposed to deliver hell to someone. My heart ached for this home owner who would undoubtedly discover how she’d become the object of ridicule simply because her decorating tastes were different than others.

This is not how grownups are supposed to behave. We should have outgrown this childishness back in 8th grade. Immaturity, selfishness, and disrespect is what causes civilizations to collapse. These seemingly-little moments of, “The rest of the world can go to hell; I’m going to do and say and write what I want” will be the downfall of us all.

Because the younger generation is watching. My kids, your kids, someone else’s kids are learning from adults, and what they’re learning is, Anything goes.

Why do adults treat others so horribly? The best I can guess is that they are arrogant yet also insecure. They can feel superior only by trying to show others to be inferior. They’re not interested in building up the world, but in tearing it down so they might have a chance to stand on top of the rubble in some position of authority.

But it won’t work. You can never increase your confidence while putting down someone else’s. Just because more people are engaging in selfishness, arrogance, and bullying doesn’t make any of it right; all of that just makes the world nastier.

There are, however, adults who do behave properly, and being a mother demands that I also point out their civility to my children.

For example, a gentleman I know–and he is a true gentleman whom I’ve award the Internet Civility Award to–is plagued almost daily by a childish adult who posts on his Facebook page why this gentleman should no longer be friends with those of a certain religion. And every day this gentleman kindly says, “Thank you for your input, but your statements don’t change my mind.”

Then his attacker–and he does attack–goes off on a furious rant against this kind man, throwing at him all kinds of vitriol as if the gentleman deserves such rancor for his willingness to befriend others from different walks of life.

The gentleman never rises to the fight, but always walks nobly away.

I watch closely other truly mature adults, men and women who encourage, instruct, and gently, kindly admonish others to live a little better, to be a little kinder, to be more Christlike. Their posts are loving, heartfelt, earnest.

And never, ever mean.

They are my heroes, the ones I also point out to my children and say, “They do this, and so should we.”

Book 5 Teaser–We’re letting the bullies take charge

In America I feel like we’re facing an election of bullies. Having to choose a president from among the name-callers, threat-issuers, and truth-manglers is like being offered, for our last meal, something from the dumpster behind a toxic waste disposal company.

We’re increasingly becoming a nation of whining children, reluctant to take responsibility for our choices, and instead want someone else to call every shot, from cradle to grave. To surrender so easily our freedoms which, two-hundred-forty years ago, we raged a war over, is a manifestation of our willfully growing stupidity.

We want to follow our impulses, without any consequences.

We want to indulge ourselves, without any thought for others.

We’ve increasingly decided we don’t want God to govern us, and since we won’t control ourselves, we’re letting the bullies take over. 

High Polish Tatra mountains

Supporting Religious Freedom, everywhere

(I recently updated my About page to reflect what’s below, but I feel so strongly about this that I wanted to share it here as well.)

Astronomers estimate there are 160 billion (yes, with a “b”) alien planets in the universe.

I assert that God created all of them, the entire universe, and that we’re not the only ones floating around in this massive existence knowing about our Creator. (See Hebrews 11:3 or Moses 1:33)

So what might life be like on just one of those 160 billion worlds? What might God’s Plan of Salvation look like on another planet?

universe picture

(In the summer I look up into the night sky, slightly northeast from my position, and I’ve pinpointed a star which I think may be Edge’s sun. But please don’t ask me to map it.)

That idea is what drove me to write the “Forest at the Edge” series, to explore how God’s gospel might be manifested in another part of the universe.

So far I haven’t found any genre of literature which tackles this point of view, so I’ve struggled finding the correct niche for my books.

The books are “fantasy,” but there’s no magic or mythical creatures;
The books are “Christian,” but Christ isn’t overtly mentioned because He didn’t live on their planet;
The books are not, however, “sci-fi” because there’s no speculative science in them, although exploring life on another world seems to fit the bill.

See my problem?

I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of different cultures and different worlds. My kids will tell you I’m a Trekkie at heart. (Some years ago I made all of them matching Star Trek uniforms for Halloween.) But I’ve always been a bit disappointed that no sci-fi/fantasy world I’ve encountered ever has God. Yes, they have “god(s)” created by their culture, but I have to find a sci-fi/fantasy series or show which dares to touch the real God with a 10-foot-planet. (C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia is the only one I know of that comes close.)

So I’m out here writing about a Christian society which originates, lives, and dies on a planet somewhere else than earth. And oh, is it fun!

What would a God-directed creation look like on another planet? How would He populate another world? What kinds of limits, terrain, people would be there? What would their belief systems look like?

I think they’d look a lot like ours.

I wholly trust that there is life on other planets, but aliens aren’t creepy blobs or elongated masses with telepathy, or even possessing Spock-like ears. “Aliens” look just like us: human beings made in the image of our shared Father in Heaven. (Animals, however, may likely be very different than our earth’s, but I’m not creative enough to come up with those so I stole earth’s animals for my series).

I think our spiritual siblings on other worlds experience trials and tests, frustrations and fears, happiness and holiness quite the same as us. That’s because God’s plan of salvation is the same everywhere in the universe, because He is the same everywhere. As philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has famously said,

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (I would add, either on this world or one of millions others.)

At the heart of that human experience is the test of our wills. What do we want more: to follow God and His will for us, or to follow after our own impulses? And at the root of that is our ability to choose what we worship, how we live, and what we pursue.

But as I’ve been writing this series, something fascinating has happened: each year those choices become more restricted by those who would control us.

When I started drafting this series back in 2010 I couldn’t have comprehended how much American society would change in the following five years. Future books seven and eight describe a world which frankly terrifies me, and it seems we’re running headlong to that end in our world. (I’m not pretending to be a prophet; I’ve merely read the book of Revelation a dozen times for ideas. That John the Beloved really knows what he’s talking about.)

As a result, much of the “Forest at the Edge” series pivots upon this declaration:

“Make your decisions as to what to embrace, but let me embrace my belief.” ~Perrin Shin, The Forest at the Edge of the World, Book 1

In 1836 a prophetic man wrote the following words: “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege: let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (emphasis added)

Suddenly I realize that what I’m writing is about supporting religious freedom. Today, in 2015, I declare that our freedom to “worship how, where, or what [we] may” will soon be under hot and direct fire. Denying people their ability to worship is the first step to imposing a tyranny. Tyrants, being merely well-funded bullies, are stealing away our ability to control our lives one little liberty at a time.


I don’t like bullies. I had my share of them in gradeschool. Sometimes it’d be nice to retreat to the very edge of the world and hide from them. But now’s not the time to run away. Now’s the time to take a stand. I only wished I were as brave as Mahrree who declares without reservation:

“I will defend the right for any one to question any thing. Each person has the right to find her own answers and believe as she wishes!”
~Mahrree Shin, Falcon in the Barn, Book 4

I’m warning you right now, the world truly is out to get you.