Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 20

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 20

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

See Part 18 here.

See Part 19 here.

 

The Appointment

My sister, mother, and I loaded ourselves into the car. We got to the hospital, and my sister took us to get some blood work for Mom first to make sure we didn’t get slowed down in case they wanted more recent results than we’d had.

It was actually a quick process. We were in and out before I could finish a game of Sudoku. We then walked around to the actual treatment area.  We got to the desk, where they informed us the copay for this treatment would be somewhere around $300.

I confess this to you all: I was standing there with my mom, who had cancer, and when they listed that price, I worried.  What a horrible thing! I worried about the money I’d already spent flying down, the money it cost to fly back up, and I even worried about this ring I had planned to buy.

I asked if the copay was required before treatment.  I asked if my father could pay it at a later time.  Here I was balking at a few hundred dollars.  It wasn’t until the woman at the counter said it wasn’t an issue that I felt the shame. How dare I? How dare I think of myself and my bank account in a situation like this.

Strangely, that shame was quickly followed by a thought.  God always provides. What am I worried about? I wondered.

Here I am, still under the belief that God can cure my mom of cancer, but he can’t make sure I have money to do things?  What a ludicrous thought.  I’m not saying people should just spend willfully without thought or sense to a budget.  But we should always give to those in need.  I say again, the Bible is quite clear on this. We should give freely to those in need.

“You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake,” Deuteronomy 15:10.

For those who want to argue the conflict between the Old and New Testament, let’s look at what the New Testament says on the matter:

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work,” Corinthians 9:6-8.

I paid the money, and I still feel ashamed for how I let my thoughts dwell on the aforementioned, selfish wants I had at a time like this. This event taught me something: I’m not a cheerful giver.  I used to be. When my circumstances were better, and I had a generous amount of money in my bank account, I gave freely without a single worry in my mind.

Since I’ve transitioned and pumped a ton of money into my dream to be a published author, I’m less secure. Now, I do and give, having to remind myself that God always provides. Here’s some more fuel to this fire. I never think about money when I go to a movie. I eat at the same restaurant every Friday. I buy caffeinated beverages whenever I struggle to stay awake.

I’ve made it my new goal to remember the man I was when I was much better off because God will always provide. I’m not rich, but I’m blessed already because I’m probably still a bit more stable than some other people I know because I’ve always tried to live far below my means. Once I climb out of the debt I’m in, I think I’ll be even more stable.

The point isn’t that I paid. The point isn’t that I did the right thing or even that I did it because I knew it was right. The point is that I wasn’t a cheerful giver. I felt the temptation to horde and cling, and that was an alarming realization.

After we paid the fee, my sister called our dad to let him know we were about to begin. Mom overheard and finally realized what had happened.

She’s hard to understand these days. What I remember about that conversation is how mad she was. “They’re liars,” she said.  “I’m done!”

That got my attention. My sister and I talked to Mom together to explain that nothing had changed.  We still intended for her to get the treatment, meet with the cancer team, and then get back to Yuma as soon as my father could finish up the work at the house.

We let her know that we weren’t worried about the money.  That calmed Mom down, and shortly after that, she was in the treatment center getting her first dose of the new treatment plan.

I met with the liaison during the treatment. It was my only chance to get a medical opinion on where things stood. She was the one who told me no matter what the problem or issue since that last visit to the emergency room, this treatment would address it.

She even did something I felt thankful for. My flight left right in the middle of everything. She told me my sister could put me on speaker phone so I could listen in on the meeting.

Therefore, after I said my goodbyes and got through airport security, I waited for my sister to call and let me listen in. It was a bit of a relief having everyone able to ask questions or make comments. Our first worry was the possible effect this treatment might have on my mom, and the team (through one person I think is the liaison), told us there weren’t any immediate concerns with this treatment. My mind shifted then to the plan.

“So we’re going to do a treatment. Then Mom can go home until it’s time for the next treatment (about two weeks apart).  We’ll do three treatments before we check on the tumor again.”

The doctors confirmed that was the plan.

I flew home, and the first thing I did when I got back was send a text. Mom seemed fine.  The next day, Mom seemed a bit more mobile and clear.

Things looked well for the next few weeks, but the trial wasn’t over, and things were about to take another turn.

 


Questions and Revelations

 

You seriously thought about not paying?

If I’m being nice to myself, what I was looking to do was verify if I was the one who had to do it. I was a coward who’d seen a wolf creeping up on the sheep. I’d be willing to fight it off, but only if there weren’t any other options. I do this far more than I feel I should. Oh, something has to be done? Can anyone else do it? Can anyone else bear this burden I don’t want to bear. I mean, sure, I’ll do it if I can’t find anyone else, but I’d really rather someone else handle it.

This is why I find myself remembering that God sent his son to die for my sins.  Jesus, willingly sacrificed himself for my sins.  They didn’t balk and look around hoping someone would come along and grant us salvation.  They didn’t even discuss it.

They did what they did out of endless, joyful love for us. So why complain or balk when any ask for something that isn’t, “Hey, would you mind dying for my sins?”

At this point, I still have to remind myself. When I feel doubt, I tell myself, “God always provides.”

Did God provide?

Yes! I’m fine! I even bought that ring I mentioned. Heck, I bout a freaking Kindle (the lowest-priced one). What the heck was I worried about? The answer was simple. I had, and I didn’t want to have less. What a selfish, sinful thought.

We all face this from time to time, and I don’t want anyone to think it wasn’t at least something to give. I’m of the opinion that those who do give, even begrudgingly, are still blessed. However, I don’t think those blessings are as great as those who give cheerfully.  I’m glad I paid the money. I just feel thankful that I’ve come to realize how miserly and selfish I have become.

Don’t just give when you have so much more to give. Don’t be generous at just those times in which you have so much to give you honestly don’t  know what to do with the rest. If I have $2, and someone needs one, I’ll give it.  Currently, I’ll have to remind myself not to worry. I’ll have to remind myself not to be selfish.  I aspire to simply give without any thought or worry at all. This is what I ask others to pray for at this point. Pray that I have a cheerfully generous heart. I give because I know it’s right, but I want to be happy when I do it. I want to do it without “hoping” or “wondering” if “God’s going to take care of me.”

That leaves me to what I want to conclude with.  I think a lot of people know this verse: “The lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Until quite recently, I had been reading that to mean. “The Lord is my leader, but I don’t really want to be led.”  I thought it was a statement on the hardened hearts of people and how they resist. I thought it was a reminder that we should want to be led.

Well, that’s true.  We should want to be led.  But I’ve seen a few other translations, and I want to share that with you all.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I will never be in need.” That’s from the Contemporary English Version.

But you said the Bible is accurate!

What I said was the Bible was accurately transcribed. From Greek text to Greek text, through the generations, the Bible is remarkably accurate. Translation is a different matter.  This is why reading other translations of the Bible. (New International version, King James Version, New American Standard Bible (which I plan to buy when I read the Bible again) are those I think should be compared from time to time.) I’d love to learn Greek one day so that I can read the New Testament in it’s Greek.  For now, I tend to listen to John MacArthur audiobooks, where he explains some of the Greek words and their connotations.

Back to my point. For the longest time I had a negative view on the lesson from Psalm 23:1.  The message isn’t that we should trust in God even if we don’t want to. It’s that we should trust in God because if we do, we will have all we need.

I’m seeing it in my life now. I’ve seen it before. I’m not over this hump. I’m of the option that there are two major sins I want to sanctify from my life at this point: the sin of pride, and the sin of worry.

Yes, worry is a sin. Jesus tells us in a plain, direct command not to worry.

These two sins of mine, these thorns in my flesh, cause me to grumble at work when I think I’m doing more than others. They cause me to lament giving money (I didn’t say loan). They cause me to be selfish with my time.

I’ve come to the belief that these bad habits are rooted in my sins of pride and worry. My current plan? Humble myself, and give. My intent is to start looking for tasks to do. I’m not worried about which of my coworkers is doing what. Ok, I am, but my efforts are in the spirt that if I keep doing this, I’ll improve.

To be clear, my actions are correct, but only God can cleanse these sins from me, and I ask that those reading this pray for him to do so. Free me from my pride and worry so that I might do the work of my hands and give cheerfully.  The actions I’m taking are to give me the opportunity, so that when God calls, I find myself answering by doing that which I know I’m supposed to do and find joy in doing so.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month!

Announcing the June Book Cover of the Month!

Hello everyone,

We’ve just wrapped up another month. This month was comparatively slow, but things got a bit better late in the game.

We had 2,560 votes this month.

It was close for a few days, but then the winner had a ten-voter surge and never looked back.

The June Book Cover of the Month is…

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Alphas and Airships by Melanie Karsak! If you’re curious about how I felt about the book, check out the Facebook post that I posted when this book first landed on the bracket, here.

Let’s look at the stats!

Karsak received 145 total votes.

A Guiding Light by Susan Copperfield came in second, so Copperfield becomes the first author this year to get two second chances. We only saw that happen twice all of last year.

But for now, let’s look at this month’s winner!

Amazon:

(START BLURB)

With Lionheart as the new alpha, the streets of London are quiet.

But above the realm, mischief is brewing.

While airship pirates are a common plague upon the kingdom, the airship Fenrir proves particularly troublesome–especially on a full moon.

Clemeny must take to the skies before these shape-shifting Vikings kick off a new Ragnarok. Easier said than done now that she’s down one good eye, a partner, and not to mention the fact that she gets motion sick.

On top of that, the new scar across her face makes Clemeny feel like she’ll have better luck intimidating her foes than finding a beau. But Agent Edwin Hunter, recently assigned as head of Clemeny’s division, is proving to be an interesting prospect. Despite her apprehensions, it’s up to Agent Louvel to chase Fenrir across the heavens.

Alphas and Airships
 
is a retelling of the Red Riding Hood fairy tale set in Melanie Karsak’s bestselling steampunk universe. Alphas and Airships is Book 2 in the Steampunk Red Riding Hood series.

(END BLURB)

I’ve added Alphas and Airships to my TBR. (For those who are new to the deal, I buy the Book Cover of the Month to read and review in the future. I buy all the winning covers. I’ve already bought MayAprilMarchFebruaryJanuaryDecember’s book.


MAY_Cover_Collage
Here’s Melanie’s Facebook page. Give it a like if you’re curious about her and her work.

I’ll try to find out who did that cover. Truth is interviews are a bit hard to arrange on my end these days.  I’ll try to get back on track, but things are looking a bit busy lately (in a less good way at the moment).

The July Book Cover of the Month is coming along, and that contest will launch Aug. 1.

I will continue to identify and select covers for each day from Amazon’s New Release section for fantasy and science fiction. If you follow and like my Facebook page, you can see what covers will make the bracket.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Shore Leave Does Every Sailor Good!

Shore Leave Does Every Sailor Good!

Greetings all,

36784775_1305859139558856_9163806771809091584_nNo, I’m not re-enlisted. I am, of course, referring to Shore Leave 2018. It was a wonderful three days

I sold a few more books than I have the last few conventions, which was nice.

Even better though was to see a few readers I’d met last year.  Amanda, thank you for stopping by and telling me you liked the book!  I had a few people come by just to say they liked the book, and that really means a lot to me.  Obviously I want to make writing my full-time occupation, but the real goal is to entertain people with my books. I’d rather sell ten books and everyone like them rather than sell 10,000 books and only ten people like them.  I really would.  Sure, I’d rather sell 10,000 books and have 9,000 people like, but the point is I want to know people enjoy my stories.

I was privileged to be at a panel about binge watching shows to improve writing. I’ll get that video uploaded soon.

I also ran into a few vendors I’ve come to know along the way. Conventions are always a fun time, and I just wanted to say this was a particularly fun one.

I didn’t get away to meet any of the guests this year, but that doesn’t change how awesome they are. It’s just an indication of how driven I am to tough it out at the table.

36792796_1305502329594537_1772902400311427072_nI have one more event in September (Baltimore Comic Con). I hope I finish the year of strong. No matter what, I increased my total number of convention attended.  Next year, I already know I want to expand my radius to meet new readers. I also want to do a full 12 conventions. The plan is to continue to grow and build product, which is good because The Power of Words is just about done, and Repressed is equally close to being finished.  Stay tuned for an announcement on The Power of Words as well.

If you were one of the people who bought my book at Shore Leave, please know I’m honored you gave my work a chance. No matter what you fell about the book, please feel free to leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Those things really help out.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

Book Review: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

41z4pv7JWnLA coworker gave me Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur after I spoke with that coworker about a frustration I have.  I say have because it’s still a frustration of mine, but I’ll explain as I talk about this review.

I was sitting in his office, telling him how much I’d be willing to do God’s will if I just knew what, exactly, he wanted.

I remember reading Samuel, where David would just ask God, “Shall I attack?” and God would answer back, “Attack, and I’ll deliver them into your hands.” (I’m working from pure memory here, so I can’t offer the book and verse).

I remember in Exodus where God spoke to Moses.

I’d read this and think about how much easier it would be if God would just give me a direct order. 

In fairness, it’s not as if I’m that good (or any good) at following the direct orders I know.  I’m human, therefore I sin.  But I do genuinely want to know the decisions I make are the ones God wants me to make. 

My coworker told me about a book.  He handed it to me a few days later.  I picked up the Audible version because I knew I could get to it sooner, but I’m glad to have they physical edition to refer to.

What this book does is explain a few key principles about God’s will.  The premise is we can’t understand the smaller details of God’s will and purpose for our lives if we’re not following the basic tenants that exist in scripture. Then he breaks those tenants down into five simple categories.

John-MacArthur-Primary-2I feel I’d be violating Mr. MacArthur’s copyright if I summarized all five points. I also feel like he does it so well, my summary would fall short.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what God wants. 

With that said, I appreciated the summary.  I value the clear, direct commands that he pulls not from his opinions, but from scripture, which is God’s word. 

That list has become one that I pray on every morning before I start my day. I find it helps me get my mind right. It helps me focus my attention and give me purpose through the day.  I do more than is on the list, but I try as well as any man of flesh can, to check off my choices and actions against that list.  I often find areas on which I fell short when I look back at some things and compare it to the list. It’s not a burning bush, but it helps me feel confident that I’m on the right track, or it helps me adjust my behavior if I don’t think my actions line up.

While I won’t summarize the whole list, I will posit an opinion on one of the five tenants of God’s will as listed by Mr. MacArthur.

“God wants you to suffer.”

If you’re anything like me, you just read those words and said, “What now?”

I promise I wasn’t ready for that phrase when I heard it.  But when I reflected on that segment and thought about the scripture, I adapted my thinking.  I hope it’s not out of line with Mr. MacArthur, but I think this interpretation is a bit more in line than the demand for suffering and more in line with what that suffering is.  This is my interpretation, and I’d defer to Mr. MacArthur in pretty much any scriptural discussion.  Since I can’t sit and chat with him directly on the matter, I can only posit how I better understood that phrase after reading and contemplating the information.

I’d like to suggest the following phrasing:  “God wants you to know that if you follow his will and live as he wants you to live, that you will suffer.”

When I think of that phrase and read the rest of Mr. MacArthur’s segment on that tenant of God’s will, I simply think it puts a focus on the warning more than the demand.  To explain more, I don’t think God wants us to suffer, but rather understands that those who follow his will and live as we’re supposed to live will encounter persecution and suffering.  The demand then implies that if we follow the first four tenants of God’s Will (which are far less ambiguous or controversial, that suffering will be the natural result.

So when I say my morning prayer, I pray this: “God, if I should suffer, let it be for your sake. Let it be because I am following your will, for if I know this, I will take heart and work harder to endure.  Whatever the cause of my suffering, Lord, let me endure it. Grant me the strength to perceiver. Let my enduring be a testament to my love, respect and fear of you.”

religion-2927802_960_720I’m still developing and growing in my faith, so it’s possible I’m wrong.  It’s possible I just don’t like the idea that God wants me to suffer, and perhaps he does literally want me to suffer.  At this point, however, I don’t think that. I think (and I’m just a guy here folks) that I’m supposed to live right and understand that the world will pressure me to turn to the desires of the flesh or temptation.  I also think that any suffering I encounter (if, and only if, I’m living right) will be for my own good and for God’s greater purpose.

Regardless of that one segment, I want to make it clear that this book gave me a better sense of purpose. It gave me something to focus my energy on, and these tenants make me believe that  if my focus is on those things, the rest will take care of itself.  It’s been a few months since I’ve read this particular book.  My life isn’t perfect.  I still suffer.  When I remember this book, I take heart in that.  I can better analyze the cause of my suffering.  Am I suffering because I’m doing God’s will?  Am I suffering for his sake? If so, stay the course. Believe that I’m doing what’s right and know that I’m building my treasure in Heaven.  If I’m suffering, and I realize it’s because I’m denying God’s will or disobeying his commands, I correct my actions.  While I am prone to counting and gathering statistical data , I haven’t kept track of the ration of my suffering against God’s will or my disobedience.  What I can say though is I hurt a little less.  When I correct myself, I notice things get much better much more quickly.

I still struggle with some things, but I admit those struggles have more to do with the fear that what I might want to do isn’t what God wants me to do more than my understanding of his purpose for my life.

If you’re interested in Christianity, if you are a Christian, and you want to be better in your faith or you want to walk closer with God, this book is a quick, easy-to-understand,  summary of his will as stated in scripture.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 19

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 19

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

See Part 18 here.

The Night Before the Appointment

 

The night before I left Yuma, I thought the plan was that mom would wait about a week to get her first of the new treatments. My dad had the long-awaited appointment with the carpet people the same Tuesday I was scheduled to fly out.

This was a bit sketchy as the appointment was set. I was there when my dad called to shift the appointment. In addition to the carpet issue, Dad wanted Mom’s body to have time to recover from the last emergency room visit (the same one which brought me to Yuma).

Both Dad and my sister received a text that pretty much said, “See you in a few days!”

Having thought everyone had already shifted the appointments, Dad called them back to get the plan finalized.

The next day, my sister, niece and nephew piled into the car and started the three-hour drive to Phoenix.

We made it about 45 minutes down the road when my phone rang.

“Matt, are you guys still in the area?”

I put my hand over the phone to tell my sister to pull off at the next exit.  We turned around as I resumed my conversation.

“They don’t want her taking that high a dose of steroids for too long,” Dad said.

The appointment was moved back to the original date, right about the same time I was scheduled to fly home.  Honestly, that was the least of my worries.  Anything that might get my mom back on track to recovery was something I was a fan of.

I was still working to ease the tension between each member of my family, and now we were on our way to pick up mom.  That happened without incident, and while there was a brief car-sickness battle, we made it to Phoenix.

I was exhausted, and I only drove one leg of the trip. We pulled in.  My brother-in-law, whom we told to expect Mom when we went back to pick her up, got the house ready. I filled him in on how I felt.

If I were writing this as fiction, I’d do more to describe the tension. I even typed about 1,000 words. I simply felt those words insufficient to match the core of the issue.  My family was exhausted. Some were afraid Mom had already had enough. Some were upset at how the previously mentioned people felt. The back and forth to Phoenix took a toll. The fear of this next round of treatment was high. The memory of that last hospital visit was too recent to move on from.

The relevant issue from my perspective was that I wanted to keep my family together, and I felt (and still feel) insufficient for the task. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

If I’m being honest, I say that verse two or three times a day, and to this point, I’m not able to observe any positive effect I’m having on my family.  Please note, I’m not claiming the absence of an effect, I’m simply stating my human inability to see it.  Present or not, I’m lost. I continue to pray that I figure out the right thing to say.

The problem is, I’m the most arrogant, superior, uncompromising member of my family. For a while in my somewhat younger days, I quite enjoyed flaunting my self-proclaimed superior intellect and standing in the family. I elevated myself above them by pointing out each of their shortcomings. Now, Matt the hypocrite wants everyone to appreciate what others do rather than what they don’t do or do wrongly.

Sons, don’t be arrogant with your siblings. Don’t mock them or insult them. Don’t drive them to anger or elevate yourself above them.

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35

Oh how I wish someone had read that to me about twenty years ago. How much easier it would be for me to be an example now if I were a better example then. I wouldn’t wish this feeling of shame or helplessness on anyone.

I grew up wanting to be the best among everyone. I was prideful, and if I’m being honest, I’m still prideful. I’m just more ashamed of it than I used to be. I thought one should stand over his siblings and rivals.

I was an idiot.

My work spoke for itself. My love and grace could have said all I needed, but I insisted on this fatal, prideful flaw: I wanted credit.

Behold, I am like John, one of the sons of thunder. I act properly, but my heart is filled with pride and not respect. My heart is filled with ambition rather than humility.

To be less poetic, I am an idiot.

Now, in this time of stress and pain, I know the right thing to do.  I’ve read the scripture and understood my path but though I walk it, those who knew me have no reason to hear or imitate my actions. My words of caution sound like words of ridicule. Words of peace sound like prideful,  sycophantic pandering. Why shouldn’t it.  I was self-righteous jerk for some twenty years.

I’d ask anyone reading this to think about how they treat their families. What example do you set? How do you show your love for your sibling? In what ways do you speak about them to others?

If you ever need to be the one to unify a family, are you the example they’ll need to follow?

I can’t change any of that, but I understand what a disadvantage I put myself in.

That night with Mom, all I knew to do was respect my new, favorite mantra. Listen! Be supportive.

Mom doesn’t have anything remotely resembling a schedule.  She might be up till midnight and then up again at 2 a.m. as if she’d had eight hours of sleep. So my sister and I worked out a schedule.  My brother needed to work, so he’d go to sleep so he could function. My sister would take the first shift, and I would get a few hours of shut eye (knowing I had an entire plane ride to catch up on sleep) and watch Mom from 2 a.m. until it was time to go to the appointment.

I did a bit of planning to get things in order for my return to Maryland. I slept a bit and then spent one last night with my mom. We watched true-crime television and slept off and on.

Just as I type this, I remember when I was young.  I slept with my mom until a pretty embarrassing age.  I wasn’t a teenager, but I might have been in the double digits. I’d have nightmares and crawl into bed. My mother has made me feel safe my whole life. When I felt lonely or ashamed, I’d lie on the couch and shove my head between her and the cushions of the couch. It was the act of being connected that made me feel safe.

Years later, I’m lay in bed to make sure my mother doesn’t hurt herself trying to go to the bathroom.

It’s like watching the “safe-place” you think about when you’re scared mutate into a nightmare.

Time passed, and mom got hungry. I made her some cereal, and I was pleased at how much she ate. These days, if Mom eats at all, it’s cause for celebration. I knew she’d want to get cleaned up, so I set up her stuff in the bathroom. Again, Mom needed help.

I still feel strongly that Mom, the woman who raised me, the matriarch of the family, and the shot caller and voice of authority, is in there somewhere.  So as she prepared to shower, I found myself clumsily trying to balance ensuring her safety with allowing her what dignity I could to a woman who needed help getting in and out of the shower.

Morbidly, I thought of an episode of The Big Bang Theory in which the lead female character falls in the shower. “No adhesive ducks.”  There weren’t any ducks in the tub. Don’t worry, she didn’t fall. The point is, I had to watch. The door was closed, and I glanced back and forth, looking down the whole way.

She finished, and I made sure she got dressed safely, and put a towel on the bottom of the tub to avoid non-duck-present-related injuries.

Of course, the thing I thought was body wash was, in fact, lotion.

I, am an idiot.

My sister informed me (without malice or insult) of my mistake, but there wasn’t much to do about it.

That was one night. One, stress-filled angst-ridden, humbling night. My sister did this for three weeks.  My father did it for another four (my math might be off, but I think that’s about right).

This is why I stand behind the belief that anyone who’s done anything to help my mother is a blessing worthy of thanks to God. I remember three bathroom visits, two meals, and the aforementioned shower. After one night, I found myself in awe of the strength God gave those who’ve been doing this since it began.

The Bible says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12.

I’d also like to point out the irony of a passage of the Bible pointing out how I’ll be humbled being in the very book of the Bible after which I was named.

This is me humbled. This is me laid low.

One thing I was excited about was that I’d get to at least see my mom start treatment and maybe even talk to a member of the cancer team.

 


Questions and Revelations

 

Why did I feel the need to exalt myself when I was younger?

If you’re asking for the justification, it was because I was a sad, lonely teenager who was afraid he was doomed to become the monster his forefathers were. I craved nothing more than to prove, with my every action, that I was the good son. Hilariously, I never was. I was a thief. I was a liar. Even when I stopped stealing and lying with every other breath (oh, that must have been around age 15) I jumped straight to arrogance and self-righteousness.  I cared more about how I looked than what I did. My heart was filled with the desire to validate my feelings and my self-image, rather than to submit to God and live as Jesus taught me to live.

Why? Because I’d been taught that I can’t trust anyone who talks about Jesus. I was raised to believe Jesus as nothing more than the stick people used to beat you into submission with or threaten you with damnation. I wasn’t armed with the tools necessary to defend myself.  I didn’t learn about the Armor of the Spirt until perhaps a month ago (literally).

I didn’t read the Bible. Even when I started reading the Bible, no one encouraged me. I just got tired of wondering what the truth was, so I went straight to the source. I’m telling anyone who wants to listen; that did more for me than a hundred people talking. By that time, I didn’t trust anyone. Men talking about a book other men had transcribed from thousands of other men more than 2,000 years ago.

The temptation was to refuse the Bible in its entirety because I, who’d only read a few chapters, maybe a book, here or there, couldn’t explain parts of it. Since I’ve actually read it, I feel differently.

A note on reporting. One must always know the source of their information.  The following source, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry’s website, is, of course, a Christian site.

It says the translations of the Bible are 99.5% accurate. This is four percent more accurate than the Iliad, a book written at about 400 B.C.

Non-believers can throw other articles that refute this (I found a Newsweek article that did just that.)

So how about a bit of evidence from a third, independent source.  Here I found an article from Independent, a British news website.  According to Media Bias/Fact Check’s website, they lean left, but the information is “generally trustworthy for information.”

The key fact in that Independent article is that a 2,000-year-old scroll, the oldest biblical text ever found, had been digitally opened and read.  The text from that scroll “is 100 percent identical to the version of the Book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries.”

Here’s another article from National Geographic’s website about the same scroll that at least corroborates with the above statement. In 15 years of journalism, if you can get three independent sources to say the same thing, you can trust that information.

This tells me at the very least the Bible was translated accurately.  People can debate the “reality” of the events, but I don’t think there’s any legitimate, scientific evidence to support an argument that the translations themselves are not accurate.  This is not related to altered Bibles for branch religions. Neither is that what this particular statement is about.

This all leads me to my point. Accurate or not, I had no foundation of how to act as a member of a family. Being shown the Lord’s Supper or the book of Matthew or Mark would have at least given me some sort of anchor. I can’t say I would have listened or not, but I can say I wish I’d have had the chance.

If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading

Matt

A June Book Cover of the Month Update

A June Book Cover of the Month Update

With just seven days left in this month’s bracket, it’s time to update you all on how things have been progressing.

As I type this, we have 1,580 votes so far. This is unfortunately far slower than normal.  I’m afraid we might not even get to the 3,000-vote mark (which I feel is average). Any help you all could offer to get these authors and artists some much-deserved attention, would be much appreciated.


61iQpoT0C9LAlphas and Airships 
by Melanie Karsak is in the lead at the moment.

Most Voted on so far: One Thousand Tears by Pauline Creeden, which is in fifth at the moment, is just two voters behind Karsak, but Creeden does have the most total votes so far with 128.

Least Voted for:  Metal Chest  by Chris Yee. This cover has 14 votes.  That might be the fewest votes I’ve ever seen, and Yee’s cover deserves a lot more credit than that, but I’ve already stated that I think all of these authors deserve a lot more love.

The honest fight is the one between Alphas and Tears in the Elite Eight.  Ragged Heroes by Andy Peloquin (and a bunch of others), is technically in second place, but it only has one Finals vote. It’d need some fifteen more people to vote it all the way through to help it take the lead. It’s possible, but it looks as if fans of this month’s bracket are far more interested in the left side of the bracket than the right.

51mZ8ezNU8LA quick reminder of how the tournament works. The easiest way to win is to have the most people vote for you in every round. The trick is you have to have the most people vote you through in each round, all the way to the final.  As an example, 100 people could vote someone through to the finals, but that doesn’t do a cover any good if he doesn’t win the first round. It’s not total votes. It’s not simple championship votes. The winning cover has to have the most votes in each round of the competition.

This will be the only update for this type of bracket. It’s been slow so far, so I hope readers start lining up to support their authors by voting, liking, and sharing the bracket with as many people as possible.  You can vote at this address!

I’ll announce the winner is just seven days!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Something Always Remains is Now Available for Preorder!

Something Always Remains is Now Available for Preorder!

Greetings all,

SomethingAlwaysRemainsCoverI’m so very happy to announce that the final part of The Journals of Bob Drifter is now available for preorder on Amazon!  You can preorder Something Always Remains here.

The book will be 99 cents from now until two weeks after it goes live.  It goes live Aug. 1, so the sale will end Aug. 14.  After that, it’ll go to its regular price of $2.99.

The deals don’t end there.  From July 18-Aug. 1, An Unusual Occupation will be on sale for 99 cents as well.  That way you can get two-thirds of the story for $2.

Bob’s Greatest Mistake will be free, that’s right free (said in a cheesy commercial announcer voice) from July 25-29.  I’ll make a post on the 25th regarding that, but I’ll be asking for your help again.  You all did an amazing job helping get Occupation so many downloads, and I hope this next free campaign is even more successful.  I’m thinking about more “stupid human tricks” I could do. I’m open to suggestions for ways I can show my appreciation. If you have any ideas, feel free to comment below.

The Journals of Bob Drifter Front CoverEach of these benchmarks will be met with a blog post of its own, but I wanted to be sure I let you all know the plan for this moving forward.

Please remember, these three stories, An Unusual Occupation, Bob’s Greatest Mistake, and Something Always Remains, are all parts of a complete story that’s out and available (see the first link back at the top). Breaking this into parts was done to allow readers a way to try a portion of the book for a smaller financial commitment. I just wanted Bob’s story to be as accessible as possible, and this felt like the best way to do it. (Also, I love Collin Fogel’s art, so I could resist getting more of it.)

I hope you’ll all give my work a try. If you already have, please be kind enough to offer a rating and review on Amazon and Goodreads. Man! Those things are important and helpful to indie authors like me.

Thanks for reading,

Matt