Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 14

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 14

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.

Discouragement

 

Job 28: 28: “And he said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord– that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'”

I hope those who read this journey understand my goal. I want to be a better Christian. I want to be more sanctified with each day.

I recently finished reading the book of Job, and that passage struck me.

The first part makes perfect sense. How could it not be wise to fear our God who is sovereign over all of us. Fear his wrath.

But how well do I understand?

My most powerful temptation is one I’ve struggled with my whole life, and, thanks be to God, I’m improved in that area.  In this, I show my understanding by turning from that sin. I fear saying so because the last time I felt I had a handle on my lust I got battered and fell to temptation.

Even if this sin is one I’ve finally turned from completely, I’m sometimes devastated over how much more sin is in my life.

In order to better process my testimony today, I searched for “How does the Bible define sin?”

I found this webpage from the United Church of God’s Beyond Today.  I’m unfamiliar with this, but it referenced several Bible verses, and I feel more confidence when a church bases it’s sermon on comprehensive Bible study.

The first frustration is the seemingly (important adverb) vague definition of sin.  “All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.” 1 John 5:17.

I’ve read Deuteronomy, and that’s a quite comprehensive list of God’s laws, including the ten commandments.  As I read the Bible, I’m taking note of the books I feel are important to me to study.  Job, 1 John, Romans, and Deuteronomy are up there.

When I look at all the wrong in my life, even in comparison to how far I’ve come, I can feel such discouragement.

That discouragement, according to mutliple books from John MacArthur (Saved Without A Doubt is the one that most comes to mind), is a powerful weapon of Satan.

“You’re never going to be perfect!”

“Look at you! You’ve worked this hard just to overcome this one thing, and you still have this much other filth in your life!”

I’m resentful. I’m lustful. I’m prideful. I’m lazy (my friends would dispute this, but consider please that I only, and I mean only, do what I want). I’m judgmental.

All of those are sins. To think how much I’ve grown because I’m so much less lustful I am when compared to how lustful I was.

I feel weighed down by that discouragement at the moment. I pray more than I ever have.

“You still don’t have a mindset of permanent prayer.”

I make more of an effort to be understanding and compassionate.

“You still fly off the handle when you hear something you consider wrong.  You still judge.”

I don’t know about you, but this tool, this single whisper is something I wonder sometimes.

“If you’re never going to be good enough, why not just give up?”

To give it context, I was raised near a church I’m not of the opinion bases it’s beliefs on the Bible. One well-respected member of the church would stop me on my way home every day and tell me in great detail how destined for damnation I was. He even went once so far as to say he was “concerned” for me because of the company I kept.  That company? The man who is now my brother in law. I stated what a kind man my now-brother was, and he immediately replied with, “So Native Americans go to Heaven now?”

Can you imagine how devastating that was to my journey? What an effective tool it was to think this hateful, clearly-racist man was a respected representative of God.

I’m currently reading the Bible. There are many reasons why people would be concerned for the company one keeps.  Those are hot-button reasons alone. The point needed to be made here is that I have yet to find any scripture that summarily condemns any one race to Hell.

First off, the Bible is quite clear on the only requirement for salvation:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17.

There are ways to evaluate and have assurance in your salvation, and absence of sin in your life isn’t such a way.

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:13-16.

One must truly believe in Jesus to be saved.  The next part is the trick though, and this is where discouragement comes in.

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” 1 John 5:18-20

A saved person’s life changes. He becomes more holy. Some call this the process of sanctification.

I need to remind you I’m not regarded as an expert in the Bible. I haven’t even finished reading it yet, and I promise you I don’t understand a percent (not one) of what I read. I have to study.

What I think I understand through bible and reference to Mr. MacArthur’s books is that it’s a fallacy to think a saved person will never sin again. The point is, you’re life is changing, and it never stops changing.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2-4

We’ll never be fully sanctified and without sin until Jesus returns. What saved people do, however, is purify themselves. The cleanse sin from their lives each day.

Where does the discouragement come from? For me, it’s the thought that I could erase a sin a day from my life and still have a multitude of sins.

I try to target sin.  I try to say, “This is the sin I’ll stop.”

I go a week or a month avoiding it. I might even go that long without ever thinking about it. However, I can’t confess I don’t do any of it anymore.

There are things I haven’t done for some time. There are things I haven’t done for quite a long time. But we sin with our thoughts, and I still think about sin.

This is where my discouragement begins.

Readers, my prayer for you, and what I hope you pray for me, is that you don’t allow your discouragement to become an excuse to give up. Neither should you treat sin as an inevitable opponent. I discussed this in Part 11.

The trick is to be confident in your salvation and diligent in your efforts to change your life. I still have such a long way to go. That list above is a real list. Those are my real sins. I don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I think I’ll be lazy today.”  I just look at my day and realize how lazy I’ve been. My condo is a mess.  My car is in worse shape. I haven’t worked out in two weeks.

Be better.

That’s the option. Our efforts to have permanent change in our lives should be the goal. If we are truly saved, we’re saved. It’s permanent. One effective way to know we’re saved (and there are others) is that our life is changing. My life is changing. I can’t let the fact that my life isn’t “changed,” past tense, trick me into doubting it will.  I can’t let how much more I have to change cause me to want to stop trying to change.

When I dwell on my sins, I hear myself thinking, “Now you don’t deserve to have your mother healed. Now you don’t deserve to marry the woman you’re dating. Now you don’t deserve to see your students succeed or your friends comforted.”

“Fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”

Yet I lack the understanding to shun evil. Perhaps I have the understanding to know I should shun evil. I do shun some evil, but that’s not the same.

My weapon against this discouragement is the sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:10-18).

The sword of the Spirit is defined in that verse as the word of God.

My current discouragement is that I still sin too much. So today, the verse I look to is 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struct down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

Sure, I have a  was to go, but I need to keep going.

“Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Corinthians 9:24. (NOTE: More than one person may attain salvation. What I take from this is running is what matters.  Never stopping. Never trying.)

I will face trials and receive blessings.  I’ve received quite a few of late (a good review at work. Students all passed their last test. My home. My girlfriend (pretty much a blessing every day).

I just can’t get caught looking at how far I have to go any more than I can stop thinking I’ve come far enough.

 


 

Questions and Revelations

Do the verses help?

When I’m smart enough to look for them. Every time I look for scripture on a subject, I feel better. I feel more resolve. I feel more certainty that I know what to do because I went to the bible to find out what that is.

Sometimes I put the sword of the Spirit down, and that’s a mistake for me. The Bible implies by sentence structure that there are parts of the armor you never take off and parts that you occasionally pick up. At this point in my growth, I sort of feel the need to wear the whole thing.

You still think your mom’s health rests on your sin?

No, my mom’s health rests on God’s will. When I sin, I’m not doing a very good job of showing my faith and trust in him though, am I?   I show my faith in him by obeying. I don’t do so based on the belief that “I’ll get what I want.” That’s not really how it works. We show our faith by enduring trials and resisting temptation.  Each failure to resist, I think, is a discredit to God. It hurts your standing. This is compounded when you fail to ask for forgiveness and repent (knock it off). So if I’m not staying true to my faith and trusting in him, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think he’d be less inclined to answer my prayer?

Let’s be clear at this point. This story isn’t the story on my “deal with God.” It’s not a demonstration of what a great Heavenly Walmart manager God is. This isn’t an exchange. There is no exchange. Get saved, or be forsaken. I am saved. I will be saved regardless of my mom’s health.  I’m not trying to be a better Christian because I think that will save my mom. I pray God will do that, but it’s not a transaction. God is glorified in all that he does. He will be worthy of praise if he saves my mom, and he will be equally worthy of praise if he allows my mom to perish. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11.  This ordeal humbled me. It yanked me closer to God more quickly than I was walking at the time. To pretend God will give me what I want simply because I’ve given him this lip service would be a contradiction of the very point of this testimony.  I pray for my mom’s help every day, and I ask you all to do the same for me. However, my mom’s health is not the condition on which my Christianity hinges. If it were, I’d already be lost.

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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Balticon 2018!

Balticon 2018!

Greetings all,

Last weekend, I was pedaling my wares author style. Balticon was a fun time. I was pretty much surrounded by other authors and other cool folks, just talking shop and getting to know people.

I wanted to share a few images from the event.

 

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Steve here was selling custom etched glass with his wife as part of +2 Charisma. I think I spent the bulk of the convention either talking to him about writing or talking to my girlfriend about whatever made us laugh the hardest.  I think I love talking about the craft more than most, and he seemed equally enthused.

 

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Willa Snap here just had an amazing cosplay outfit. I felt odd because she’d been around the table a few times. I eventually got worried I wasn’t going got get a photo of her, so I sort of walked up to catch her, hoping people wouldn’t call me a creep.   I asked her permission, which she appreciated, and she let me grab this image. I don’t really know the character or even if it is one, but it’s a great outfit.

 

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This cosplay individual wanted it clear this character was Not The Brave.  I think most cosplay people really think highly of those they dress up as, and she seemed to prove the theory.

 

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K.S. Brenowitz is a  cartoonist and illustrator who’s just charming and adorable as all get out. I actually first met her at an AwesomeCon (I forget which year), and she pretty much wears that sort of outfit normally. She’s a great artist, so if you like comics, check out her site to see if her art is your flavor (because art is a very niche thing).

 

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Yes, I did sell a few books.  I didn’t clean up, if I’m being honest, but I did sell some books, and John here was my first customer.  So there I was, literally praying, trying to keep up my faith and my confidence. I was telling my girlfriend how I had to just keep plugging along. There wasn’t that much traffic, and a guy with two paranormal books might have been out of place at a convention attend by hard scifi readers.  Next year, when I have The Power of Words, I might have a bit more luck. Anyway, I was really at a low place, worried I was doing something wrong when John shows up an asks about my books.  Here’s the coincidental part.  He’s not wearing cosplay.  Jon is literally a priest.

I don’t want to get into too much, because I don’t want anyone to infer that Balticon isn’t good or there wasn’t a ton of fun.  I didn’t have any panels. My books weren’t really in line with the audience this year (it changes from year to year).  This year felt a little slower. So I didn’t sell a ton.  That said, the staff was still ultra helpful and just plain fun to hang out with.

I’m glad to be there, and I’d be honored to attend next year even if I just spend another four days hanging out with cool authors who like to talk shop as much as I do.

Thanks for reading,

V/R
Matt

The May Book Cover of the Month Begins!

The May Book Cover of the Month Begins!

 

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Happy first everyone! As is now officially tradition here on my blog, it’s time to start a new book cover of the month competition.

Siren’s Lure by Frost Kay joins 31 brand new covers this month.

You can vote all the way through the tournament, supporting the covers you like best through each round. I like to make sure people get the credit they deserve, so please show your support. Please vote and share as much as possible to get people a chance to pick their favorite.

As always, I’d appreciate it if you tag the authors and artists if you know them. I try to tag or friend every author I can, but sometimes it’s hard to track someone down. Max participation is a huge deal to me. The more people who vote, the more recognition these authors and artists receive, and I want this to be as legitimate as possible.

If you are the author, let’s remember to be good sports! 1) Please feel free to message or contact me at any time. 2) Please feel free to like, share, text, ask for support, and call everyone you know. I absolutely want max participation. However, if you’re going to offer giveaways or prizes, please offer them for voting, not just voting for you.

Also, while your summoning your army of voting soldiers, please make sure you ask them to vote in every match. Part of the idea of this is to get exposure to as many artists and authors as possible. By all means, if you can get 1,000 people to vote for your book, do it. Just please also send some eyeballs to the other matches.

A final note to authors and artists: I currently have links to the books’ Amazon pages. If you’d prefer I switch that link to sign up for your newsletter or like your social media page or whatever, just send me the link and let me know. I want this to help you. I want this to be as helpful as possible, so whatever you need me to do to facilitate that, just let me know.

I hope you keep having fun. Please, vote, share, and discuss as much as possible.

All you have to do now is head over here to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Matt

A 5-Star Review for An Unusual Occupation!

A 5-Star Review for An Unusual Occupation!

AnUnusualOccupationCoverGreetings all,

 

Just sharing a quick 5-Star review for An Unusual Occupation.  It was short, but just look at what it says!  That makes a writer feel great!  God bless you, V.O. for this great review.

 

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Book Review: The Core by Peter V. Brett

Book Review: The Core by Peter V. Brett
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This cover was taken from Amazon.com for review purposes. The featured image was taken from Tachyon Publications for the same reason. 

Spoiler Free Summary:  In The Core by Peter V. Brett, The stage is set for Sharak Ka, the final war against demonkind. Arlen, a man who tattooed himself with wards to fight demons; Jardir, the leader of his people and self-proclaimed Deliverer; have joined forces and entered the core, dragging a demon prince as a guide. Inevera is trying to hold Jardir’s kingdom together no matter how much it seems to want to fall apart without her husband to lead. Leesha is ready to give birth, and her child’s complicated parentage forces her to try and outwit the world. She has to do this while preparing the free cities for a war they refuse to admit is on their doorstep.   As Arlen and Jardir travel to take out the queen of all demons, the rest of the world is left alone to face the onslaught of those same demons. Killing the queen is unlikely enough without the loss of life, but can they do it before everyone they’re fighting for dies?

Character:  I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Peter V. Brett is the best writer of characters and character plots in the game.  His ability to use each previous book to give more insight to specific characters makes this book that much more compelling. Every single person, no matte how much screen time, has a deep, well-developed story. This reason alone would be enough to make this my favorite book of the year (which it is), but there’s a lot to like about this book. The characters are just the unquestioned strength of the series.

Exposition: Whenever you have a multi-book series, there’s inevitably a necessary amount of exposition to help readers who haven’t read the rest of the series know what’s going on. Brett weaves most of that in through dialogue, which makes a tad of it feel forced (see below).  However, I didn’t really notice much exposition here. Some, but not so much that it bothered me.

Worldbuilding: This is the other aspect of Brett’s saga that stands out. This is an interesting world with a solid foundation of lore, magic, and demonology. There were some elements here that felt a bit like Wheel of Time in that just when you think “that guy is scary!” some other newer, more powerful monster shows up. The political intrigue is a nice bit of detail. I’m glad the story is over (I hate series that run long or never seem to end), but I hope we see this world again soon.

Peter V. Brett
Portrait by Karsten Moran taken from Mr. Brett’s website.

Dialogue: When you’re characters are strong, everything else feels strong regardless of how good it actually is. As I sit here and really think about the dialogue in this book, I realized that’s where the bulk of the story’s exposition went. Characters realistically had to fill each other in, but those chunks of information were force-fed in some places. As long as the reader understands they’ll needed to get through those “info-dump” sections (I can think of three right now), the rest of the dialogue is crisp and powerful.

Description:  People who like deep, detailed description won’t think as highly of this as I do. I like my imagination to do the bulk of the heavy lifting, and Brett lets me do that. I get the details I need, and my mind takes care of the rest.  Those who want three adjectives for every noun won’t be happy though.

Overall:  The Core is (as I type this on May 28), the best book I’ve read so far in 2018. I figured it would be, but this book didn’t let me down in any way. It’s exciting, compelling, funny, and tragic. If you haven’t read this series, consider this my notification. Get this series! Read it! Great, interesting sagas with original magic systems are hard to find.   This one fits the bill.

Thanks for reading

Matt

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 13

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 13

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.

Duty

 

In part seven, I talked about how I felt like I failed to a degree. I went on to explain that I didn’t intend to go to the graduation because my mother’s care had been seen to. I still hated the idea of not going. I still felt like I wasn’t doing what I should.

I did some research into scripture to see what would best apply, and what I found was Colossians 3:12-17.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all the wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

My guilt led me to resent the texts and phone calls I got in regard to my niece’s graduation. But then, while talking to my sister (my niece’s mom), I learned that there weren’t many people actually going to the graduation.  There were surgeries and leave conflicts. My mom was and is still fluctuating in health. None of the reasons are the point. The point is, this wonderful young woman was about to end the act of her childhood and begin the act of her young adulthood, and there weren’t many people coming.

That’s when I decided to call in a few favors, buy a ticket, and go.

 

Saleah

I’ve seen that wonderful young woman, Saleah, from the moment of her birth until this day and, if God blesses me, more. The fact is, I was wrong to resist it in the first place. I had reasons, but I wasn’t having faith at that time. I was letting doubt and fear rule me more than anything. It didn’t eliminate my responsibilities. I couldn’t just not go to work, so what I ended up doing was flying down one night, attending the graduation, and flying back the day after. It was an exhausting three days, but I would’t trade them for any other way they could have gone.

I had fear and doubt in my heart rather than kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

If I’m being honest, those are traits my mother wants us to have, but my siblings and I don’t have. You want the excuses? OK. We were raised to be antagonistic. Not by my mother, but by the man who broke our family in the first place. That divorce split the family once, and another divorce split the family again. Somewhere in there, I (to ensure I accept responsibility) and my siblings developed this strange habit of competing when we should be uniting. It could be as small as what most would call common sibling rivalry, to as big as directly blaming one family member for something to elevate above him or her.

I understand this doesn’t put my family in a very good light, but this isn’t intended to make us (or me) look good. It’s a testimony, and in this case, it’s a confession.  If I’m not the worse offender of this, I’m at least as guilty as the next. We bicker. We fight. We doubt.

I’m wrong for my role in that. I’m wrong for judging and resenting when that’s not what scripture demands of me. Humility isn’t something I do well, and this trial has humbled me because I need to be humble. It’s shown me how patient I can be when I never want to be patient.

To be clear, we’re not a family that argues and throws things at one another every time we’re in a room like a bunch of strange cats. I also won’t go into great detail of what does happen because this is supposed to be a confessional on my end. So what do I do? I judge. I resent. I blame. Should we as christians hold one another accountable? Yes. But letting someone know they’re not following scripture is far different then stomping on them to elevate myself.

The Bible is explicit and clear on how children should behave. The fact is I wasn’t obeying. How did God show me just how wrong I was? My love for my niece. I had in my mind an image of her graduating with nearly a dozen people watching. When all the circumstances that limited people’s ability to be there (in some cases physically), my reasons seemed pretty insignificant.

I present to the world both the image and name of this wonderful young woman I’m so proud to have watched grow up. She’s smart. She’s kind. She’s compassionate. She’s humble (mostly, I mean, she’s 18..so..)  and she’s honestly one of the most gentle souls I know. I was there the day she was born, praise be to the Lord; and I was blessed by His grace to be there to watch her graduate. I got to tell her how proud I am. I got to hug her (several times). I got to play with my nephew. (The boy’s name will not be uttered by me until he graduates high school.) I got to (sort of) hear her sing (part of the choir) for the first time. I’ll cherish those memories. What a fool I was for even considering missing the chance.

What saddened me is that my refusal cost me something. I imagine if I had answered my sister’s call, the family wouldn’t have worked out what they did to care for my mom. The fact is, my mother was taken to the house in Yuma (three hours away). So I got to see my niece graduate, and that made me so happy. However, I didn’t get to see my mom. She wasn’t in Phoenix. By the time these things had been determined, I’d already bought my tickets and gotten all the support I could just to make it so I could be away from work for the two days I missed.  There wasn’t any way to then add more time to drive down to Yuma.

I didn’t get the chance to talk to my family. Honestly, even when I flew down, I had a heart more full of resentment than the required list above.

I learned from this, praise be to the Lord. That lesson cost me. I still have hope that my mother’s appointment (July 7 is a huge day for us, please keep us in your prayers) ends in the best way possible. There’s still a long road to recovery if that happens, but it has to start with good news on July 7.  But I had this glorious opportunity to be a source of support for my family, and I balked. I knew it five weeks ago, and I feel the consequences of it now.

I needed to set that tone to make sure that I demonstrate my role. This is how I humble myself, by pointing out how I was involved. What wrong did I have in this situation? One thing I’ve known for a long time:

Everything is my fault. I’m not alone in my accountability, but I have at least some responsibility for my role in things.

I’ve had that mindset for about four years now. So when I find myself in a situation I don’t like, and that desire to blame or resent creeps in, I humble myself by pointing out my role and my mistakes. I’m of the opinion that if people reflect on their own actions, everything will improve. I can’t immediately recall a single time when pointing out someone else’s shortcomings ever fixed the problem. There are times, I believe, where you must inform someone of their wrong (accountability is still a thing). But once the individual is notified of his shortcomings, the only other thing to do is help or be quiet. Be humble. Be compassionate.

I implore you all to consider the consequences of my actions the next time you find yourself at odds with a sibling. Try to remind yourself of your own responsibilities rather than point out those who aren’t holding up their end. What does it matter? Do the shortcomings or failings of one member of a family permit me to be negligent in mine? Do they allow you to be negligent in your duties? It’s easy to blame. It’s so tempting to say, “Look at what he’s not doing!” or, “Look at what she did wrong!” Maybe it is bad. But where is the humility in that? Where is the compassion? Is it kind to drag down a sibling just to elevate yourself? Is it gentle to ridicule or judge someone?

These are my crimes, and I repent. As God wills, as His strength allows, I’ll focus on those qualities whenever I deal with my family from this day forth.

 


 

Questions and Revelations

Why not just take more time?

Like I explained. Things shifted while I planned my trip. I used money I didn’t have and leave I couldn’t take during a time my coworkers actually needed me just to pull of the two days I took. (I flew down after work one day, which ended in me being awake for essentially 24 hours straight.)  Had I known, I would have planned differently, but that’s just not the way it happened, and I still want to be sure I have some leave in the books in case something more urgent and related to my mother’s immediate health  happens.  I certainly hope it doesn’t. This phase of the treatment is over, and I ask that you pray it’s also the last round of therapy before the doctors pull out the remainder of the tumor.

Why not explain more about the other members of your family?

Because that would be a direct contradiction to what I said I wanted to do. It’s not for me to point out everything.  I’ll say this, there were honest barriers that prevented everyone from being able to attend, and the fact is, had I simply answered the call when my sister originally asked, none of these other obstacles would have been nearly as restrictive. I could deflect and hedge, but the fact is we need to stop that. I need to stop that. It doesn’t matter what others could have or should have done. It doesn’t matter what didn’t or did happen. What did I do to put myself in this position, and what does the Bible say I should do?

I wasn’t even in that place on the flight to Phoenix or back to Baltimore. That temptation to resent or judge was so strong. It made me feel better to think on everyone else. But we’re not supposed to feel better. If you disagree with that, then at least agree we’re not supposed to make ourselves feel better by pointing out our perceived (which may or may not be accurate) shortcomings of others. It wasn’t until I searched for and found those verses that I found the perspective I should have had from the beginning.

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

My First Balticon! Why This Event is Special

My First Balticon! Why This Event is Special

33527076_1266975076780596_6166677699583541248_nI think I’ve alluded to this story a few times here or there, but I wanted to make sure I expressed why Balticon was something special to me.

About four years ago, I attended my first Balticon. I heard about the guests, and couldn’t help but drive straight to the event.  It was like paradise for aspiring authors.

The first night, I was wide-eyed and awestruck as I stumbled into a dining area and realized several authors (including one I think particularly highly of), were just hanging out and chatting like regular people and stuff.  So I took a seat at a table with said respected author and a bunch of us just talked.

During the conversation, I’d mentioned how many rejections I’d gotten and how I was worried I wouldn’t get published.

The author (who will remain nameless because while I wish this person knew how much of an impact that conversation had on me, I never want to try to imply an endorsement) asked how many books I’d written. I think I’d finished four manuscripts by that time. Author told me about self publishing. Author took away the fear I had regarding self publishing. Here’s this best-seller and huge community influencer talking to rando-wannabe #273,99, and Author is nothing more than encouraging.

We didn’t talk about any of my books in particular. We talked about overdone tropes. We talked about world building. We talked about the permanence of dark fantasy, and Author simply told me to go for it.

During that same convention, I met the man I hope will one day be my agent. I haven’t trapped his attention yet, and I have several agents I think I’d work well with, but this is the guy I’ll confess is number one on my draft board. That happened during a conversation I had with him.  I was wandering the halls (trying to stalk Author without earning a restraining order) when I saw the agent sitting by a small, handmade sign that read, “I’m an agent. Pitch me your book.” I pitched him Bob Drifter. It didn’t grab his attention, but he gave me a touch of feedback and it helped make the story better.

The point is, I was this young man who wanted so desperately to be an author, and Balticon was this warm, encouraging environment devoted to the craft I wanted to have as a profession. I can say with absolute certainty that I’m not where I am now (this soon) if I didn’t go to that Balticon. I’d gone to a few others as an attendee, and now, here I am, selling two books at the convention that set me on the path to getting published.

I can’t really express how this feels. I’ve come to ave more realistic expectations for what happens during conventions, but I’m still excited to be here, hitting a major genesis point for my life. It’s full circle, but not complete.  I still have a lot of growing and learning to do. I still have a lot of work.

That said, I’m happy to be here and look back on how far I’ve come.

I hope to see you all at the convention. Whatever your goals or nerdish habits are, this is a place you’ll enjoy seeing.

Thanks for reading,

Matt