Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Light and Shade Challenge, #2

The folks at Light and Shade Challenge put up a picture and (usually) a quote as a writing prompt. The challenge is to write a 500 word (or fewer) short story based on the image and quote. This week's challenge had no quote, but the idea was to write without adverbs. I think I succeeded, but it was hard weeding out modifying clauses!

Anyway, here is the photo:

Here is my story:

Gillian didn’t want to go to the concert. She had a headache. Brad snorted and said that was the same old excuse.  So she sighed, picked up her purse and got into the car with him.

After a silent drive, they got to the arena. The parking lot was full. “Of course,” thought Gillian. They found a spot three blocks away and walked back. It was raining. This didn’t improve Gillian’s headache.

They joined the line for the door, endured the search for contraband, and made it to their seats. The prelim band hadn’t started, and the crowd was restless. There were a few shouts, and some jostling, but the vibe was cool. People who liked this band were known for being laid back, and the smell of pot proved it.

Brad kept talking to her, and she kept nodding her head. Talking made her head hurt. She dreaded the start of the music. Why did she let Brad talk her into these things?

Brad took a hit from a joint offered to him, and then passed it on to her. She was afraid to refuse it, so she took a deep breath, held it, and exhaled.

“See, Babe? Isn’t this fun?” Brad grinned. She nodded.

“Fun,” she said, but thought, “NOT!”

She took another deep hit, feeling just the teensiest bit of tension leave her forehead. Maybe if she got stoned she wouldn’t care how she felt. And it struck her: this is the story of her life with Brad. He talked her into doing things she didn’t want to do. She zoned out on booze or dope to make it livable. What kind of relationship was that? She knew what she had to do, but it could wait. She wanted to enjoy the concert.

The house lights went out. The crowd stood and yelled. Blue lights from the stage came on, and they illuminated the haze of pot smoke hanging over the crowd.

“How’s your headache?” Brad yelled.

“All better!” she replied.

“I knew you’d be glad you came!”

“You have no idea.”

Monday, June 22, 2015

They're the Same

There is a flag that some people don’t like, but others do. This flag symbolizes one side in a war, a side that thought certain people were ‘subhuman’ and could be enslaved, because it was the “right order of things.” Those who fought under this flag lost the war, and their crimes against humanity were eventually recognized for what they were. Yet some people still want to fly this flag. They wear it on jackets; they have it in their homes and places of business. It’s even in some churches.

The flag I’m talking about is this one:

And really, everyone in the world, with the exception of extreme white supremacists, realizes that flying or displaying this flag is wrong. If you display this flag you are saying that you supported Hitler’s ideas of racial superiority and his efforts to kill off millions of people that he thought were less than human (Jews, blacks, gays, etc.)

Yet, this flag:

means exactly the same thing. It was from a war in which supporters sought to keep the right to enslave (and kill) those they thought were less than human, and that they had the God-given right to subdue. Not only is it from a war, but it’s from a treasonous war. How is displaying this flag any different from displaying the Nazi flag?

Those who fly the Confederate flag often say things like this:
“It’s our heritage.”
“My ancestors fought in the war – I only want to honor them.”
“It’s part of our history.”

Well, the Germans could say the exact same things! But they don’t. Why not?  Because they realize that Nazism was an extremely misguided and evil movement. They are embarrassed that their ancestors went along with it. They recognize the evil that was done under this flag and they do not honor it.

So I’m saying the same thing: slavery was evil. This flag represents those who sought to keep enslaving people. There is no situation where people should want to see this flag, except in a museum. You do not honor something that symbolizes the enslavement of other people and that symbolizes a treasonous war.

Ask yourself this: would you fly the Nazi flag? If the answer is no, then you should not fly the “stars and bars” either. If your answer is yes, then you are a crazy white supremacist, and you need serious help.

Friday, June 12, 2015

That's Life!

I’m trying to process a change in my outlook on life, so I hope writing it out will help me, and maybe be helpful to others, as well. Most of you know that I've been struggling with a “mystery disease” for over 11 years, which has taken me from an elite amateur athlete to a fully disabled, mostly house-bound person. Through most of this time, I've viewed my illness as a “storm” in life that I need to somehow get through. As a Christian, I've always been taught that God will help us “weather the storm” (Matt. 7:24-25, Phil. 4:13, etc) so that’s what I did. I leaned on God, and He certainly has helped me find the strength to carry on through it all. But it’s been 11 years, and the “storm” isn't over. And, it doesn't look like it will ever be (specialists all over the US are stumped by my case, and have no answers for a diagnosis, let alone a treatment.) So I am faced with the reality of a “storm” that will last the rest of my life – not a pretty thought! How can you keep fighting a storm when you know there will never be an end?

And then it hit me: that’s life.

My illness is just part of my life on this earth. It’s not a “storm” that I have to weather or overcome, it’s just the way my life is now. Instead of bemoaning all the things I can’t do anymore (including Kingdom-building things), I can just do the best I can with what I have now. No, I can’t go on a mission trip. I can’t volunteer at a food bank or rescue mission. Heck, I can’t even make it to church! But I can pray. I can be a friend. I can encourage. I can be a shoulder to cry on. If I keep thinking, “After the storm, I’ll be able to do X” I’m missing the whole point! Life goes on. Bloom where you are planted, as they say. Right now, I’m mostly planted in my chair at home, but that doesn't have to stop me from living life to its fullest. It’s just a different definition of “fullest” than I used to have.

And why do Christians think that life should be trouble-free, anyway? Jesus himself said “You will have trials and sorrows” in this life. (John 16:33) So instead of seeing hard times as some sort of special storm you have to endure, and you just need to keep your head down until it’s over, recognize that “storms” are just a part of life. You don’t need to be on the shelf, waiting for the “storm” to end. It might never end! Just stand on the rock, hold onto God, and get on with life – whatever that might now look like.

So, yeah, I have a crippling disability that no one can figure out. Yeah, there’s a whole ton of stuff that I used to do that I can’t anymore, and that is a major bummer. But, you know what? I’m done fighting this “storm” – it was never a “storm” to begin with. It’s just life. Jesus and I, we’re moving on. (And, friends, when I have a bad spell and get discouraged – as I know I will – remind me of this post. Thanks! ;-)