God’s Infinite Power

In 1995 scientists turned the Hubble space telescope towards a corner of space not thought to contain anything. A space that’s no bigger than an inch in our viewing if we hold our finger out at arm’s length. This was a big risk because of the enormous expense involved in using Hubble for something that might not even show them anything.

Not only did it show them something, they witnessed, for the first time in human history, 10,000 previously unknown galaxies, each one containing hundreds of billions of stars. That’s right—every speck in the image is not a star but a complete galaxy. And likely every square inch of our view of space has an equal amount of galaxies in it.

Have you ever sewed something that had a mistake in it, but it wouldn’t show so you didn’t worry about it? Note that God put all this in place billions of years before human eyes would ever see it. Earthlings saw it only 22 years ago. Why do you think he did that? I think perhaps one reason is that he wants us to know what he is capable of. This God of infinite power is the same one who helps us all the time, every day, with the tiniest and biggest of concerns. He is the one who remembers his promises to us.

He is an omnipresent God—he is everywhere. He is an omnipotent God—he is all-powerful. He is an omniscient God—he knows all. The same God who breathed life into the universe and flung these billions of galaxies into their positions billions of years before we would ever set eyes on them 22 years ago, is the same God who cares about your littlest concern as well as your biggest problems.

No, he does not want you to suffer with these things. He wants you to come to him. Actually I think you don’t have to go to him, he’s already there. He wants you to accept his power in your life. You can’t find that kind of power anywhere else. You might feel like you’re alone, or that nothing is happening to help you. But you are never, ever alone. And there are things constantly happening behind the scenes in your behalf. A powerful God who knows all has already started lining up solutions to problems you haven’t even had yet.

What miracles have you experienced that by rights shouldn’t have happened?

Psalm 139:1-3 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

 

 

 

What I’m Doing

Time for an update! It’s been a different and unusual kind of year for our family after losing my husband and the boys’ dad last summer, lots of feelings to deal with while trying to find our new normal, establishing new traditions while reflecting on and honoring old ones. I’m quite proud of how our family is transitioning to the new route.

For now, I am working part-time where I used to long ago. But one of my immediate goals is to grow my editing business and provide stellar service to many more clients. (You’ll want to visit the page for Eagle Eye and learn about all the services available.)

I have some fantastic plans for my Eagle Shadow series in the future, but…patience, patience. My current creative project is a Southern Baptist comedy book. My inspiration for this project is a secret only a few people know! But suffice to say (or is it ‘sufficeth to say’ or ‘suffice it to say’? Not gonna research it now. Pick your favorite.) you’re gonna just love Pastor Eugene Romans and his colorful congregation. I have been attending a writers critique group since last fall, and so far they have loved what they’ve heard of it. Their great comments and laughter at all the right parts have been encouraging me—or shall we say egging me on. It’s been a great experience as well to hear their creative works read aloud and to learn how to critique. It makes us all better writers. I highly recommend that all authors find such a group.

I’ve also had the opportunity to read a lot more books than I’ve had in recent years (books of my choice, not for homeschool prep). Some of my favorites have been: a couple Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (you see me advancing in age-level as I go!), Lake Wobegon Days, The Secret, rereading The Jackrabbit Factor, and I’m currently on my way through Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. My two most favorite and life-transforming books I’ve read this year (for obvious reasons) are: Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander and Talking to Heaven by James Van Praagh, both #1 New York Times bestsellers. What amazing books about the ‘other side’.

And recently, my boys and I realized a bucket list dream when we spent two weeks touring London and Paris. For purposes of this blog, I will just mention a couple of our literary adventures: the Treasures of the British Library exhibit where we saw the Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, and many other historical writings dating to the 300s A.D., and the famed Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris where we squeezed through tight hallways lined with tons of books and saw the tumbleweeds (writers-in-residence) at work. It was truly a wonderful gift for us to have this opportunity together and to make better memories than last year at this time of year. We came home with a bigger-world perspective and new resolve going forward. Till next time…

“I’m Calm” — Tribute to David “Harley” Davis

Stay in the BoatThe world lost a great poet, photographer, and artist this year when my husband, David “Harley” Davis, passed away in July from complications resulting from leukemia. How I miss his talent and creativity, his uncanny ability to find and bring home the unusual and rare antiques, and introduce the rest of us to ideas and worlds we never knew existed. While going through his many treasures and writings this summer, it was especially touching for me to come across poems he’d written that I’d never read before, including this one, a message directly to me from eternal worlds. What better way to pay tribute on my blog, I thought, than by sharing his own words, written October 3, 2014 from his hospital bed, at the beginning of his treatments. These words have been a secret treasure to me these last few months, but it’s time to share them with others now. I’ll let his own words take it from here:

 

“I’m Calm”

 

I’m calm as a summer morning

A time when dews distill

On ground alert with creatures

That graze on a distant hill.

 

I’m calm as whispering heather

That sing in a highland breeze

I’m calm as a crystal lake

With images that mirror me.

 

No greater peace have I then

Where angels came to tell

I’m calm as a summer morning

When Father found me well.

 

Fear not this sad refrain then

Time goes ever on

Beats warmly rich responding

Our hearts are ever calm.

 

No love is lost forever

No psalm is silent sung

No bells go unnoticed

When they ring together as one.

 

I’m calm to see my Master

Embrace him, linger there

I’m calm to see my mother

And enjoy her perfect fair.

 

I’m calm as a summer morning

Feet dangle in celestial foam

On heavenly beaches lapping

A familiar din back home.

 

At last the stars are sparkling

And brighten my heavenly shore

I’m calm and await my darling

And will love thee ever more.

…bring all things to your remembrance

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” ~ John 14:26

I’m all about lifelong reading, studying, and learning, but I have discovered another really cool reason for doing so. As a spiritual person, I believe that one of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to bring things to our remembrance when we need them. I also believe we have some responsibility here. Experts say that all the things we read and learn stay permanently in our minds, albeit the subconscious mind. I don’t always believe those unnamed experts, but in this case I do. Our brains are computers that take in information from the moment we’re born, catalog it, and file it away, and thankfully, these computers never run out of memory. Oh, you might think you run out of memory (it does often seem that way), but that’s only because the information has left your conscious mind (the 10% we use) and lodged itself in your subconscious mind (the other 90%). But the information is there, every piece of information you’ve ever taken in, every great (and not-so-great) thought you’ve ever had. The Holy Spirit simply brings things to our remembrance, from our subconscious to our conscious minds, when we need them. BUT, he can only bring things to our remembrance that have been put into our minds to begin with, so the more we study and gain wisdom, and life experience, the more he has to draw from to help us. Like the law of attraction says, every single thing we need, we already have! Is that not exciting?

Book and candle

 

 

“Whiplash”–Disturbing or Inspiring?

Clapboard & cinema reel

As Oscar season approaches us again, I want to draw attention to a fine movie that was nominated last year for best picture, an independently made film that had its debut at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to receive critical and box office acclaim. “Whiplash” is the story of a young, talented drummer, Andrew (Miles Teller), studying at a music conservatory, and his merciless mentor, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), whose methods of drawing out the best in his students venture into abusive territory (think Simon Cowell with singing contestants, except add blood). Although audience members may sway back and forth between respect and annoyance, and dare I say, amusement at Fletcher’s extreme personality and methods, I know of several people, myself included, who report that the movie ends up inspiring the creativity in us. We need that toughness, I think, to bring out what simply cannot be discovered in us with just family and close friends telling us, “You’re great. You’re the best.” That kind of biased critique is what leads the unsuspecting to embarrass themselves in front of crowds, or to self-publish books that have not been vetted by the professional world.

I always am in favor of accepting honest and helpful, yes, even brutal critique. Of course, it’s hard, but if you want to be a professional, you will have much harder things to deal with in your career than critique that might hurt. Suck it up and take your medicine!

There is a fine line, though, between helpful critique and flat-out abuse. The kind dished out by Fletcher would break the dreams of the most flimsy creators. I’m not sure that that’s a good thing. Many who might give up under those circumstances may actually be geniuses in waiting who need not only the brutal critique but also some uplifting encouragement. My feelings about Fletcher’s methods can be summed up by addressing one telling scene near the end of the movie. Fletcher famously says, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than, ‘Good job.’” I would say that the seven most powerful words in the English language are, “Good job…but it could be better.”

 

Need Help Getting Motivated Creatively?

“God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.” ~ Thomas S. Monson

Isn’t that a marvelous quote? Doesn’t it just make you want to go create something?

At our house creativity often strikes in the middle of the night. Not sure why, except I have read that creative people tend to be night owls. Here’s my son burning the midnight oil doing filmmaking in the backyard studio.

Burning the Midnight Oil

My husband has done some of his best painting during all-night sprints, and I would venture a guess that 90 percent of my book writing is done between midnight and 2 a.m. Whenever the mood strikes you, don’t resist! Creativity rules!

Disabilities vs. Abilities

 

Stolen ideas

In recent years, there seems to have been a rise in the occurrence of mental and emotional disability labels on children. Whether that’s due to a changing, unhealthy environment, or an increase in those seeking professional diagnoses, or both, is unclear. I tend to think it’s some of both, but I also think we as a society have become sort of mental hypochondriacs. Since the advent of the internet, I know I’ve diagnosed myself with all sorts of maladies, some real, some imagined! Time was, we used to receive a doctor’s diagnosis and trek around to other doctors getting second, third, and fourth opinions. Now sometimes we trek around to different psychologists until one does diagnose something that placates us.

But the concern I have is for those children out there who may be, as it were, held back by some label of “abnormality” placed on them by well-meaning adults, an abnormality that, but for the label, they would never know they had. “Treat the disabled normally. They don’t want to be singled out,” the labelers beg of us, when they themselves have already singled them out by placing the glaring label on them for all to see.

Consider my analogy, simplified I know, but it makes sense to me. Suppose half the people of the world prefer blue as their favorite color; the other half likes red as their favorite. It’s been that way for centuries with no notice, but then, during our “enlightened” 21st century, some highly degreed doctors get together and decide that liking blue best is what they’re going to call “normal”, and liking red best is now “abnormal”. The sad news for red-lovers is that there is no cure for their condition. The best hope doctors have for the families of red-lovers is that, perhaps with some medication and/or ongoing therapy, they might get those so disabled to at least like purple, then they could have some semblance of a productive life.

Blue-loving families everywhere demand equal treatment for their unfortunate red-loving family member, but those who haven’t watched the news didn’t even know there was a blue-red debate going on.

And color preference is relative. What about the family made up of all red-lovers, except for that one single blue-lover? Might “normal” have a different definition to them?

Now I’m not saying that “abnormal” doesn’t exist. Genes can go awry. If a person is so obsessed with the color red that they paint every visible object red, the lamps, the carpet, the TV, the dog, then yes, they need some intervention, especially before they go painting the neighbors’ house, lawn, and dog red. But don’t let such persons give all red-lovers a bad name. Most likely, there are a commensurate number of painters whose work has gone unchecked during their blue period.

But if you look at history, you’ll see that it’s been both the blue and red-lovers who have made progress in our world. A worried someone once told me their child had the same disorder as Einstein, Isaac Newton, Mozart, Bill Gates, and Steven Spielberg. “And this is a problem why?” I sorely wanted to know. I submit that if those illustrious figures had not possessed such a, so-called, abnormality, we would not have the scientific discoveries, inventions, and profound cultural arts that we have today. Oh, they may have been trying at times to their mothers, but thank goodness they weren’t medicated and therapied into some ordinary human’s definition of “normalcy”.

We have a family member who no doubt could’ve been diagnosed with a certain disability. I’m not sure because we never took him to a doctor. We bought him a video camera instead so he could give form to his creativity. And our home has often been a hangout for several friends with varying degrees of disabilities. We’ve never noticed anything abnormal about them…I guess because we’re just a bunch of red-lovers over here, happily ignorant of the box we’re thinking outside of. And for the record, my favorite color really is red…..and green, but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog post!

 

“Choreography of Awakening” a Worthy Addition to Any Bookshelf

Faye Kitariev

Choreography of Awakening by my friend Faye Kitariev is now available on Amazon, and I sincerely hope you will get yourself a copy. I had the high privilege of helping to edit this book, and I found it so empowering and beautifully written that I couldn’t wait to tell people about it.

Faye has loads of experience as a world-class figure skating coach. Her success was tied to her unique ability to bring out the hidden potential of her skating proteges. She shares that, what I can only call “superpower”, with her readers. She uses her vast experience to help all of us, in whatever walks of life we follow, realize our own potential. She uses skating terms to show us what we are capable of and inspires us to achieve our own greatness.

Her writing style is impeccable, her words lilting, as they touch the reader’s inner soul. Check out this great book and awaken yourself to your possibilities. Find out more here, and buy a Kindle edition or paperback on Amazon.

Choreography of Awakening

 

Heavenly Help for Homeschool

School books

Some moms who are thinking of homeschooling their children are stymied by a lack of confidence and question their ability to succeed, maybe forgetting that, for the Christian, there is infinite heavenly help available for all righteous desires. Certainly my uneducated self (at least on paper) has benefited on a daily basis from divine inspiration in my task, to the point that it’s become fun to watch for all the miracles. Even my boys have learned to often recognize God’s help in our homeschool.

When Taylor was younger, he wasn’t very good at writing. He answered questions on paper with as few words as possible, and he was better at expressing himself through drawing pictures than writing words. In some subjects I saved his papers, where he answered end-of-chapter questions, as answer keys for his younger brother Tristan, but Tristan usually writes more detailed answers where Taylor was very brief and/or illustrated his answers, for instance, drawing a chart of the water cycle instead of describing it. But Taylor has since turned out to be quite a good writer. David and I saw a couple of his college papers from his first semester and were amazed. “You really wrote this yourself? You didn’t plagiarize this?” we asked him. (Great confidence builders, aren’t we?)

Only in hindsight was I able to see that God’s inspiration to me during Taylor’s high school years had produced an effect I hadn’t expected. It started before his eleventh grade year when I shopped online for high school literature textbooks. I wanted to do American lit first, then English lit for twelfth grade. Everything I found was much more expensive than I was willing to pay, or just didn’t suit me. Then God showed up. “Shelly, you numbskull,” he said (yes, God talks to me that way), “use what you have.” You see, for years I’d shopped the thrift stores and secondhand bookstores for paperback copies of the classics for fifty cents or a buck, then tossed them into boxes in the basement. “Those books are meant to be read, not just bought,” the inspiration continued.

Well, hot diggity dog! This got exciting! I dug into my boxes and picked out several books by American authors and more by English authors. As he read each book I assigned papers for each one. First he researched and wrote author biographies, learned and wrote about the context of the story (its background, how it related to the time period, its impact on society). When he finished reading, he wrote a synopsis of the story and then a critique in which he addressed thematic elements, pace and flow, prose, what made it a classic. We didn’t have time to read all the books I might have liked, so in some cases, we did a “quick study”, where he learned about the author and the plot and read excerpts from it. I also assigned him two other books, The Train-of-Thought Writing Method and Wordsmith Craftsman, which taught story structure and essay writing respectively. By the time he’d graduated he’d written so many bios, synopses, analyses, critiques, and essays, it made an impressive collection.

I was elated when he scored a 35 (out of 36) on the English portion of the ACT test. He was just accepted to his university’s theater and media arts department. He isn’t sure what he wants to do in the field of filmmaking, but he’s mentioned screenplay writing as a possibility he might want to try. At one time I wouldn’t have thought that possible. That’s what homeschool (and for that matter lifelong learning) is all about, not being great at everything, but uncovering what you are great at, what you’re interested in, and running with it. And a big thank you to God and the heavenly homeschool angels.

And if you’d like to know some of the books we read or studied excerpts from, here are a few:

Of Plymouth Plantation:  Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650

The Scarlet Letter

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Huck Finn

To Kill a Mockingbird

The 5,000-Year Leap

Pilgrim’s Progress

Hamlet

Oliver Twist

Emma

Silas Marner

The Screwtape Letters

Animal Farm

Frankenstein

Sherlock Holmes

Around the World in 80 Days

 

Don’t Underestimate the Value of the Insignificant

Mountaintop

One of the most common problems people facing trials encounter is feeling like their bad situation is permanent, like everyone else will get to move on in life but not them. But take heart–even a small change in perspective is a magical thing.

When I first moved out of my parents’ house when I was 21, into a nearby apartment by myself, I was very homesick for the first weeks. It was depressing and I wondered if I would ever get used to it. I liked my childhood and my home and wasn’t in a rush to leave it. One Monday evening I attended the church young single adults activity. It was a fun game that we played all evening long. It was well-attended, and we laughed so hard all evening. I came back to my apartment happy that night. I thought the homesickness would return. After all, the game night had no connection to my moving out into my own apartment. But it never did. From that night forward I never experienced that sadness again. I still don’t know why one event would make such a difference, but it did, and the memory of that has really helped me at times. It is possible for one good success to kick our problems to the curb and change our perspective permanently.

Never stop looking for your seemingly insignificant but successful moment. It’s there, closer than you imagine.