Jamberry

I used to be somewhat suspicious of people who got involved with home businesses of the type where you purchase a kit and then sell products for the company and they pay you a commission, and there have been some which I have gotten involved in which didn’t work out to well for me. It’s not the kind of thing that I want to make a career out of, but lately I have been looking into some more opportunities, some that would be unique to me and my personality. There are actually a few companies I am looking into taking the plunge with; a big part of it for me is having fun doing something that I enjoy with products that I would use and enjoy. With that in mind I have joined the Jamberry team, because Jamberry fascinates me and I think it is a great idea.

I’ve heard all about not having too many irons in the fire, because I’m also working on my book The Girl With the Grace Tattoo which I am going to keep working on until it is as amazing as I want it to be, but the thing is that there is nothing wrong with having your income coming in from several sources, in fact it could be a darn good idea. I’m not getting involved in lots of different things because I’m unable to commit to one certain thing, I’m trying to make money and enjoy doing it. I enjoy being able to sell products that I enjoy, especially if, in the case of my book, those products happen to be mine.

I’ve been chasing a traditional career for a long time now, and while I would like one of those the reality is that with three out of four of my children having special needs, and one of those three having major special needs, and being a single mom, that really isn’t a realistic goal. So here I am, almost thirty years old, continuing my education so that I can pursue a Ph.D., writing a book when many have told me not to bother because that doesn’t make a living, getting involved with selling products that I like and use, volunteering with skills I went to college for, and doing the mom thing. It’s a fast-paced life but I enjoy that aspect of it. I want to be a professional, but I want to pursue my own interests. So far God hasn’t provided me with a traditional career, maybe that’s not his plan and maybe it is one day, but right now it is not.

My book is my most important project; it’s the one I’m the most personally invested in and the one that means the most to me. Even if I didn’t do any of these other things, I would still keep working on the book. It’s the thing that truly makes me come alive, it’s the talent that God has given to me and I’m not going to go bury it like those dudes in Jesus’ parable. But God has also given me other talents and other interests and I guess it is time to see where they go. 
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My Baby

I haven’t worked on my book as much this week as I have in weeks previous and in this case I don’t regret that decision at all. I have had something very important come up. My institutionalized son is projected to come home at the end of April, and that’s more important than getting the book done quickly. This week, instead of working on the book, I have been working on a GoFundMe campaign formy son because the work that needs doing for him to come home is both urgent and expensive.

There were some modifications that I was supposed to make to my home, which I had the manpower and probably the funding to do. But as people prepared for the initial modifications, we came across an urgent problem that needs fixing before the modifications can be done, turning a $1,500 job into a much bigger job. Whether or not there will be more surprises in this is yet to be seen. The work that needs to be done is urgent, and we have just a few days really to raise the funds.

There have been applications for funding made, whether or not those will be approved is something that I do not know. What I do know is that I am not going to sit idly by in the meantime, especially when I have people on standby that are willing to donate the entire cost of the labor. Along with this comes a whole wave of emotions, such as feeling unworthy to have people care about me and my family so much that they would take time out of their own busy lives to try to solve a problem for me when it isn’t their problem. It’s scary and I don’t know how to respond because somehow “thank-you” just doesn’t seem good enough. But right now that’s about all I am in the position to be able to give in return. It’s really scary to be in a vulnerable position and have people care so much, at least, it is for me, because it is an unbridled display of love and sometimes love scares me because I’m not sure I know how to give love in return even though I love these people.

I have tried in this situation to not plaster on the blog or on Facebook the things that happened that betrayed me, the losses I have suffered, because it wouldn’t have been profitable. All I can say is that I hope nobody is ever faced with the same set of circumstances I was handed. My life is so completely different than it was six months ago, and I have to say that despite everything it is better and that God knows what he is doing, and I trust him that he still knows what he is doing. I am hoping that seeing as I have volunteers willing to do the work that God will also provide the funding because it is something totally beyond my capability to provide, and I’ve been seeing my God provide in amazing ways these last few months. This situation is huge and scary and very emotional, but I have been learning that God is bigger than all of that. 

If you would like to contribute to the campaign to bring my son home, please check out the GoFundMe campaign where you can see some pictures and read more about him.

Lent 1.1 (Redemption)

Since the beginning of Lent, I have done some amazing reading and just finished a very powerful, redemptive book titled “Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer” by Micha Boyett. I read it in two days and had tears in my eyes when I was done. I even called a friend to rave about the book almost the minute I put it down. It’s one I’m going to read again almost immediately, at a much slower pace, savoring every moment. It was so ordinary and yet so sacred that I couldn’t even glean great quotes out of it to share on my Facebook status, which is unusual for me when I’m reading a great book.

I can tell that this Lenten season is going to be huge for me, I’ve already learned so much. I keep using the word redemptive, and I truly believe that if I continue to being open to learn, that this will be a redemptive season for me, which totally makes sense when I realize that after Lent comes Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. The resurrection is what makes all of this possible. The resurrection is why grace exists. The resurrection is a promise of life when there should be death. God has spent the last six months uprooting my entire life, leaving nothing untouched. A lot of dreams and plans for the future have died, in many ways I have died to an old way of life, and yet I have the promise of the resurrection. God will resurrect these things because using the bad and the ugly and the downright horrible things in life and turning them around for good is what God is all about. Which is why the word redemptive fits, and this is a redemptive book.

As I work on my own book, Micha Boyett’s book is something I am glad I read during the writing process. Seeing as I am writing a memoir about faith, I have been reading a lot of memoirs about faith, particularly new releases such as this one, because I’m trying to make my book relevant to the current market, because after all that is how to sell a book. The process of writing requires as much or more time spent reading as it does writing for me, because reading helps to inspire my own work. I am glad to have read such a redemptive memoir because I hope that mine will be powerful and redemptive also. This particular book was a very positive memoir even though it was about an ordinary woman like me, a mom trying to recognize her value in the world and her value to God. Perhaps that was even part of its value. I’m not expecting the next memoir on my list to be as positive in tone as this one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant, and I could be wrong about it. The next book on the list is also a brand new release that I pre-ordered called “Girl and the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future” by Elizabeth Esther. I guess I will see where that book takes me. 

Lent 1.0

So, that fancy list I earnestly wrote at the beginning of Lent of just one thing I would do to observe Lent each day…I did it…for two days. After that, life happened and the list fell apart. I haven’t done more than two or three of the things on the list I wrote for the kids, either. Until now, that’s been my pattern; I’ve had big ideas and set out to change the world, and then let life get in the way. I’ve made excuses, used the fact that I have been abused, that yes I did something wrong but so did somebody else, or said that I was just unworthy of what I longed for. And it’s true, I have been abused, somebody else did do something wrong, and I have felt unworthy.

It’s time to get past all of that; the truth is that I haven’t done the things on my lists because I used the time for other things. And the truth is that I haven’t done a lot of things because I used the time for something else, or I made the wrong decision, or I was sulking and figured it was just too hard, or I lacked the confidence that I could do it. The Girl With the Grace Tattoo is a concept I have had for at least two years now, and I’ve worked on it slowly. I’ve been excited about writing my book, but I’ve also sabotaged myself with some terrible marketing, and a huge lack of confidence. I’ve complained that others get opportunities that I don’t, saying that they were just “more special” but I’m beginning to question that attitude.

It is true that some people have had far more advantages and opportunities than I have, but it’s also true that I haven’t taken full advantage of the ones I have been given. I’ve been burying the few talents that I’ve been given just like is described in the parable Jesus told because I compared myself to others and I was afraid. I need to start taking advantage of the opportunities I have been given, which is why I am using The Girl With the Grace Tattoo as my dissertation for my honors work, locking myself into finishing it well and in a timely manner.

While I haven’t been keeping up with the lists that I set out to do at the beginning of Lent, I’ve chosen to let those go because the truth is I think God has decided on a different focus for me for Lent. He wants to redeem the abuse I have suffered, redeem the wrong others have done to me; redeem the mess I have made of my own life. He wants to change the entire way that I think about life, he wants me to change what I do. And because of that, the theme of Easter is all through the Lenten season for me. It’s a death of old thoughts and attitudes and a resurrection to new life, one where I take responsibility for my life and the things I choose to do with it. 

New Attitude?

When it comes to writing, especially writing my book “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo” I am my own worst enemy. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me that I am good at writing, there is a lot of times that I just don’t believe them. I complain that others blog about the same themes that I blog about, or write books about the same topics I write about who are successful from the get go and it seems like these things were thrown into their lap. I get to wondering why I am unable to enjoy the same measure of success that these other people do, and then I get jealous, which then puts me into a cycle of thinking that is definitely not conducive to writing anything worthwhile.

Two weeks ago, I got tired of feeling this way and wanted to know what it was that made these people successful that I didn’t have, because whatever it was, I wanted it. So I started reading and asking around, asking people to be honest with me even if it hurt my feelings. I sought feedback from a young man my age who used to be in a similar position as I was except without the spouse and kids, he was broke, unemployed, went to school for the same thing I did, and today he is employed and has climbed the change of command where he is working. And here I am still unemployed, getting divorced, and feeling like I suck at life. So I asked him what he was doing that I wasn’t doing, and his answer was helpful.

He told me that I was very qualified and very skilled, but that without confidence in myself and my abilities, I would never get anywhere. He also told me that I tend to use my situation to make excuses for why I haven’t accomplished anything. That hurt a whole lot more because I do try to take responsibility for my actions, but I realized that he was right. So thanks to his honest responses, I have started really reading and studying on how to perform better. I need to realize that I have the power to change myself, and take the responsibility to do so. Instead of making excuses saying I responded badly to a situation because I was having a bad day, I need to admit that I messed up and that I will be more mindful of how I respond to things in the future regardless of how I am feeling at the time.

I’m almost thirty years old, and for the last twenty nine years, the ways I have tried to gain success have not been successful, and so it is time to try something new, to listen to people who have been successful, to research and study so that I can learn how to change my thoughts and my attitudes and to stop sabotaging myself. This will greatly enhance my writing as well as allow me to be more disciplined about the whole book writing process, so that in the end I will not only produce a book, but I will produce one worth reading, one that will touch hearts and change lives. 

Mark Driscoll

I think it is probably common knowledge that I am not a fan of Mark Driscoll and his misogyny among other things. I’m certainly not a fan of the things he has done that have gotten public scrutiny and rightly so. But I have to say that the man has issued an apology for the things he did wrong (a copy of it in an article can be found at one of my favorite Christian RELEVANT magazine), in fact he has gone so far as to ask his publisher to remove the title “New York Times Bestselling Author” off of his books. Not only did he issue an apology, he also acted in repentance and is taking steps to try to make amends for what he did.

I know there are many things that I struggle with, over and over again, that I apologize for and make amends for and yet I turn around and do them again. People judge the sincerity of my repentance even though it is genuine every time, because that is what people do, and I can’t say that I blame them. However much I dislike him and however much I would recommend never buying his books or listening to his sermons, it is because of the teachings contained therein.

But when someone issues a pubic apology and takes steps to make amends, even if he has issued a public apology before, I think we should take his word for it, and strive to treat him with the grace that we would like to be treated with had we been the one that screwed up. While I can understand the hesitation to forgive and show grace, if we truly want to follow Jesus our instructions are to forgive him and show him grace. It doesn’t mean we have to expose ourselves to his teachings.

Some of the things that Driscoll teaches have been personally damaging to me, but that isn’t the issue here. I don’t want to show him grace because of such hurtful teachings, but the Jesus that I claim to follow wants me to. I know I would want others to give me a second, third or twenty-fifth chance were I to apologize for screwing up. And all of those who know me know that I need that twenty-fifth chance. Let’s show Driscoll same grace, and give him a chance to demonstrate his repentance. We need to separate his terrible teaching from his apology and forgive him for the things he has admitted he has done wrong. It’s what we are called to do as part of the teachings of Christ.

Publishing Decisions

My six year old son believes that I am a “real author” already. For him, having a mom who “makes books” is really exciting. He told me the other day that he wants to be a real author and make books just like I do when he grows up. While it would be nice to be able to be a real author by how a six year old perceives me, the journey to being a real author is not easy. I haven’t even decided yet whether I am going to pursue traditional publishing or if I am going to self-publish. There are so many things to think about, including the fact that I’m not sure whether I would be considered a “real author” if I produced a self-published book.

Well the truth is that I would love to traditionally publish my book, I feel like it would give me the appropriate author cred, which is very important to me. But then I have to wonder why there are an amazingly large number of terrible books that are traditionally published, particularly in the Christian market. I am not sure that I want my book published by someone who thought that crappy Christian romance books were a good idea. Well, as far as dollars and marketing goes, they probably were a good idea. It is so frustrating that publishing is more about what makes money than what makes good books. I suppose this is how one tells a book lover apart from someone who is just in it for the money. I don’t have a problem with people doing things for money, after all, we all need some to get by, but sometimes it makes people make bad decisions and it makes publishers publish some lousy books (50 Shades of Grey” for example). I also don’t like the reticence to allow new authors to leave their mark because they have other established authors already. How is a new author supposed to get established if they can’t get their work picked up because they aren’t established?

These are some of the things that lead me to want to self-publish. But I have to admit that I want the recognition for my work, and that is easiest to be obtained by traditional publishing. I guess what it comes down to is that neither option is perfect and that there are definite benefits to both. Using the self-publishing option would mean more work for me to do, but it would also mean I get to maintain more creative control over my work. Traditional publishing, however, gives more access to getting my book into bookstores. Then again endorsement is amazing but I am not sure if I want my book to be published in the Christian market because a lot of what is published in the Christian market isn’t that great. And then I’m also not sure my book could be classified as a Christian book although it has Christian themes and is primarily for a Christian audience. 

Being Real

Writing is a creative gift that God has given me to be an expression of who I am, of who he made me to be. I’m so thankful for this gift; I can’t imagine having been given a different creative outlet because God created me to write. It’s an amazing way to communicate and to express myself, whether I am happy or sad. However with this gift comes the responsibility to tell the truth, even when that truth sucks and I’d rather not deal with it. I also process a lot of things by writing about them, and right now I am writing this to try to avoid writing something else.
I’ve been working on a deeply painful part of the book I am writing titled “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo” (and yes, I did totally steal that title idea from Steig Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” not just because the guy is a genius and a master storyteller but because he also came up with a really cool title, and I am using my first tattoo, which is says “grace” on my wrist as the central theme of the book, the thing that everything comes back to). This section has been taking a lot out of me, physically and emotionally. I’ve had a really rough week processing everything and it will probably be only chapter I didn’t write almost entirely in one sitting. It’s taken almost a week to write the introductory section. Something tells me that it may become one of the most important chapters of the whole book.
Like I said, writing this blog post is actually one of my avoidance tactics for working on this chapter, and normally I am really happy about working on book chapters. As I reluctantly sat down to work on this chapter I decided that I really, really needed to take a shower. And once I had taken a shower there were some things I had to look at on Amazon, even though I wasn’t buying them, and then of course I have plenty of books to read.
I have been restless this week, which is always the result of needing to write something but struggling to do so, not because I can’t but because it’s too painful and as much as I pride myself on being real, to be honest there are just some things I don’t want to be real about. That is because being real is scary. People might talk, people might react, people might think differently of me. And yet I cannot be dishonest about my story and so I will persevere in writing it, and I will trust God that it will speak to the audience that it needs to speak to, even if that audience is me.

Writing is a part of who I am, I love it and it is something that I do for leisure, but it also goes much deeper than that, so deep that sometimes I hate it and don’t want to do it. But if I were to choose not to write, it would damage me deeply. So even in the painful times, the only choice that I have is to write. God wants me to write. It is something that he gave me and he wants me to use it.


If you would like to contribute financially to “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo” book, you can send your contribution via PayPal to katy.binstead@cqumail.com and mark in the memo that it is to contribute to the book. It will be used only for that purpose. 

Satire

One of the first things that made me start seeing through fundamentalism was a satire blog website written by an ex-fundamentalist. I was weird to read the articles and the comments and see how those not in fundamentalisms may view some of the things that went on within fundamentalism. It was my first real inkling that something was amiss as it planted questions in my head about what I had always believed. Many fundamentalists would think this was a bad thing and would therefore condemn such websites, but for me it was a blessing to see the things I had always believed being satirized because I began to realize that there was more than one way to see things, even weird fundamentalist culture.

Such websites can be extremely useful and I am very thankful that they were there during the time that I began to question. I’m also thankful that the sites are available to others who may need this kind of wakeup call. However, in the last couple of weeks I have had to think seriously about giving up such websites, because these days they just make me cynical. I’m at a point right now where cynicism is something that I struggle with and I don’t need to feed it. These websites are online communities that I have grown to know and love, communities that I have been able to talk about my experiences with others. But I’m not sure that they are healthy for me anymore if they are just leaving me jaded.

I know that there is plenty of dirt in fundamentalism, but it’s probably time for me personally to move along and stop spending so much of my time and effort on it. It would be a better use of my time if I were to help someone who is hurting either from religious abuse; fundamentalism in general, or from many other issues rather than spending my time getting all worked up about something I cannot do anything about. It would be so much more profitable and it would save me from getting upset about situations that I cannot control or change.

I don’t think that anyone should be sweeping sin under the rug, but I also don’t want to feel the need to anxiously follow every scandal or situation that comes up. There are some situations or issues that I have had experience with that are issues I might want to keep up with, I don’t want to feel resentment in my heart every time someone satirizes an experience I went through, I don’t want to well up with anger inside because I read a story that I would have been better off leaving alone.

Which is why, although I am extremely thankful that such sites exist, especially for people that need them, it might be time for me to take a break, where instead of focusing on the issues in fundamentalism, I focus on Christ instead.

Observing Lent Daily For Children

As I was making the lists for observing Lent for myself, I wanted something that I could use to engage my small, special needs children in the Lenten season. So here is a list of 40 daily practices for Lent that were designed for my children. If they help you with yours, then that is awesome. Again, if you pick and choose between several lists or observe in a completely different way, do what makes the season meaningful for you and your family. These are little things that shouldn’t take too much time. And remember, be flexible. My children have special needs so if something doesn’t work out, don’t worry too much about it.

1. (Wednesday) Plant the seeds for the garden indoors in a Jiffy greenhouse or similar, seeing as it is still too cold to plant outside. Spend time explaining to the children how God created the seeds to work, try to inspire wonder in their minds.

2. (Thursday) Get the children to help cultivate the gardens, pulling the rest of the weeds and getting the gardens ready for planting. Explain how, after the seeds have germinated and sprouted, we are going to plant them in the gardens.

3. (Friday) Read the children a story about Easter.

4. (Saturday) Take the children for a walk outside to pick up trash and talk to them about taking care of the earth God gave us.

5. (Sunday) Teach the children some prayers, and encourage them to pray them. Things like “The Lord’s Prayer” for example.

6. (Monday) Pull up some worship music videos on YouTube and spend time singing and dancing in worship.

7. (Tuesday) Fill pots with dirt, letting the children get dirty and explaining that God made us out of the dirt.

8. (Wednesday) Begin reading Matthew 5. Read Matthew 5:1-12 today. This list will cover the entire Sermon on the Mount during Lent. Explain that God’s Kingdom is different to our culture and his ways are different than society.

9. (Thursday) Plant one of the seedlings, even if it is too cold still to plant them outside yet. Plant one in a pot for the children to be able to keep inside and observe.

10. (Friday) Make a very basic meal, such as beans and rice, or ramen noodles for dinner, and talk to the children about how other children in other places don’t get three meals a day, or don’t get to eat all the wonderful things that they do.

11. (Saturday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 5: 13-21. Continue discussion about God’s Kingdom vs. the world.

12. (Sunday) Have prayer time with the children, encouraging them to pray their own prayers, as well as reciting some well-known prayers. Talk with them about how they can dialogue with God at any time.

13. (Monday) Do something creative with the children, letting them make a craft, draw a picture, write something, etc. Have them thank God for giving us ways to express ourselves and be creative.

14. (Tuesday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 5:22-37. Continue discussion either where you left off last time or on specific things that come up in the reading of this section.

15. (Wednesday) Sit down and read a story that shows them something about God. Discuss the story.

16. (Thursday) Let the children spend extended time playing in water, talking about the cleansing power of water and also about how we are very blessed to have running water, and clean water, for drinking, and that other children don’t have that. Encourage them to spend some time thanking God for the gift of clean, running water.

17. (Friday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 5:38-47. Discuss themes of justice and charity.

18. (Saturday) Encourage children to help with household tasks, doing more than they usually would. Use this time to talk to them about love and unity and cooperation and being part of a family and how we each do different things and all are important.

19. (Sunday) Have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers. Have those old enough to do so write God a letter.

20. (Monday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 6: 1-13. Discuss themes of forgiveness and for doing the right thing because it is right, not because people can see you.

21. (Tuesday) Spend some time tending to the new gardens and plants, extra time than your normally would on a day to day basis. Encourage the children to look closely at how much the plants have grown, tear out any weeds and use this to explain how weeds come up in our lives and we need to get rid of them.

22. (Wednesday) Get your children to write a note or draw a picture for someone that they love.

23. (Thursday) Give your children a treat, for no other reason other than that you love them. Especially if they have been less than good today. Explain to them how much you love them and then use it as a springboard to share with them how much God loves them.

24. (Friday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 6:14-23. Discuss how hoarding things doesn’t benefit us in the long run, also explain about walking in light and being careful what you allow yourselves to engage in and look at.

25. (Saturday) Sit down and read a story that shows them something about God. Discuss the story.

26. (Sunday) Have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers.

27. (Monday) Watch a movie with the children that has a good message and discuss.

28. (Tuesday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 6:24-33 today. Discuss how God wants us to trust him with our lives.

29. (Wednesday) Get children who are old enough to talk about a time when someone hurt their feelings. Discuss how so often we ourselves offend other people and talk about how we should treat others.

30. (Thursday) Light a candle for just a few minutes, so the kids can see it. Talk to them about how fire keeps us warm and gives us light, but how it can also be dangerous because we can say mean things and gossip which can spread like wildfire and be very destructive.

31. (Friday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 7: 1-6. Discuss how the way we judge others will come back to haunt us. For instance, if someone is having a rough day and we say they aren’t a nice person, that might not be true. Maybe they are just having a hard time. Also talk about how we want to be treated when we aren’t being nice.

32. (Saturday) Take the children to the park to run around in the fresh air. Discuss how God gave us fresh clean air to breathe, and how that is what gives us life. God breathed life into us after he created us specially.

33. (Sunday) Have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers.

34. (Monday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 7:7-14. Discuss how doing what everyone else is doing isn’t the best choice because following God is hard sometimes.

35. (Tuesday) Take pictures of all the children, telling them how beautiful they are and how glad you are that God made them.

36. (Wednesday) Read a Bible story about Easter to the children, spend time discussing it.

37. (Thursday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read Matthew 7:15-20 today. Discuss not only false prophets but for the kids use the time to discuss bad friends and how they can lead you astray.

38. (Friday) Spend time talking with the children about the death and resurrection of Jesus.

39. (Saturday) Continue with reading the Sermon on the Mount. This is the final reading. Read Matthew 7:21-28. Discuss the wisdom of following God and the foolishness of not doing so and the consequences.

40. (Sunday) Explain to the children about the resurrection, preferably before church. Also have special prayer time with the children, continuing with the recited prayers as well as encouraging them to pray their own prayers.