Monday, July 25, 2016

I've Put This Off For Far Too Long....

I've been reading Fellowship of the Ring aloud to my siblings and have all the quotes from both book and movie fresh in my head. :D

With a title like that I've probably got all of you searching through your heads for some reason as to why I'd write that.  I regret to announce that...

I am moving to South Korea and therefore am saying goodbye to blogging.

No, not really.  If I were, I sure as blazes wouldn't be regretting it, and I would most definitely blog about it... rendering unnecessary the real announcement.

I am taking an official semi-break from blogging and some other online activities.

It's been a looong time in coming.  I haven't posted regularly since early last year sometime or even before that.  I keep trying to, keep meaning to, and it hasn't been working.  I've been tagged by people (Carolyn most recently) and haven't yet done the tags.  I have a zillion drafts sitting in my blogger draftbox.  I have literal lists of topics I keep wanting to post about.

My mother has been telling me for YEARS that I need to take a break and I refused to listen.  More than once this spring and summer, she's repeated that.  When my MuseTwin and I were discussing stress recently, I suggested that what she needed was an official semi-hiatus from many online activities.  She agreed and immediately implemented it.  For three days I fought the idea that I also needed one, and then finally, in another discussion between us, she (figuratively) grabbed me by the shoulders and insisted I needed to take one also.  I finally capitulated.  (FYI: if you want to be a super stubborn person your whole life who wins almost every single battle ever, don't get an awesome soul sister and don't have a mom who knows you very well.  Especially not a soul sister who can threaten as well as you can... or a mom whose 'I told you so' look is as fiendish as your own.)

All of that to say that no, I'm not disappearing from blogging- stars, no.  I'd miss you all too much.  I'll still post now and then, but for now, I need to set the official seal on taking a break and restoring some energy and fun to my spirit.  I'll also be less active on Facebook, and other online areas.  I don't know for how long, but it won't drag on for months and months, I can assure you of that.  I'll still be /around/- reading blogs, commenting here and there, emailing, FB messaging... but I won't be forcing myself to do online things on days when I just want to write or go do something else.

I wish each and every one of you a happy, blessed summer, and look forward to seeing you more when I return.  Thank you for staying with me this long.

Until our next meeting....

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cover Reveal ~ The Rose and the Balloon

Many months ago, one of my dearest blogging friends emailed me to say she'd finished the short story retelling of Beauty and the Beast that she was writing and did I want to beta read it?  I immediately said yes and pounced on it when it appeared in my inbox.  I laughed my way through it and clapped at the end.  Now, Kiri is publishing that story and today, I'm delighted to reveal the cover!

In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn't even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father's rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there's a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father's beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you've never seen it before.

The Author:
Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Connect with Kirsten:
RatB on Goodreads
RatB on Pinterest


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Green: Envy or Healthy Jealousy?

'Healthy jealousy?' you ask.  'Oh stars, Melody's off her rocker.'  Ehehe, maybe and maybe not.

Apropos of using spare moments in the last several weeks to analyze the various friendships I have and how they all fit together- like different colors in an embroidery tapestry- I've been doing a lot of thinking on the different kinds of love that exist, the different kinds of friendship, and on jealousy.  As usual, when I finally came to some conclusions late last night (showers are wonderful places for helping one think) I bounced the thoughts off my soul sister, the final step in my thinking.  Bouncing thoughts off of her clarifies them for me.

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines 'jealous' as:
1) 'feeling or showing envy of someone or of their achievements and advantages'
2) 'feeling or showing suspicion of someone's unfaithfulness in a relationship'
3) 'fiercely protective or vigilant of one's rights or possessions'
4) '(of God) demanding faithfulness and exclusive worship'

We're taught that jealousy is a bad thing.  In the context of the first meaning above, it is.  Being jealous of someone's achievements or their skill or their personality is understandable, but frustratingly silly at times because God made each of us different.  Sometimes it seems like one person has better talents or is more likable than you are, but your focus is in the wrong place if you think that makes you less than them.  Instead of wishing you had someone else's friends or their talents or skills or their advantages, take a long, hard, HONEST look at who you are and what you do have and try to understand how you fit in the world and God's plan.

With the the second and third meanings above, the prevailing belief in many Christian circles seems to be that jealousy is an evil thing that poisons relationships and that if you feel it, you're giving in to Satan's evil influences and you're being weak and silly and you need to do something about that.

But.  God says more than once throughout the Old Testament that he is a jealous God (see meaning #4).  That if His people turn away, He won't strive with them forever and will at some point punish them because He won't tolerate other loves in their spiritual heart.

A lot of people (including me at one point) assume that jealousy in human relationships exists as a result of sin in the world.  But we're made in God's image, are we not?  We are created to have certain kinds of relationships that are exclusive.  The 'eros' love- what we in the Western cultures call 'romantic' love- is the foremost example of this.  We are created to only have one romantic love at a time.  (No, people, I don't subscribe to the 'polyamory is actually fine and possible' belief.) 

It's actually natural and right and /in His image/ that IF there is suspicion that your romantic partner is wandering in their love to you, there be jealousy.  Thinking that there might be unfaithfulness is you being protective of your rights in that relationship.  It's not clingy or needy to notice that something might be wrong.

But sin enters in where we're all fallible humans.  We make mistakes.  Sometimes we'll think someone is wandering in their love and they aren't.  But we won't know that if it's not discussed.  The only surefire cures for jealousy are 100% honesty and then faith in the other person.  'Hey, wife, it feels like you're spending an awful lot of time with him.  Can we talk about this?  Can we spend more time together?'  'Hey, husband, I know you and she are friends from way back but that familiarity with her, that's making me uncomfortable.'

Sometimes, it really is an issue that needs to be changed and sometimes, after it's been discussed, you figure out it's not really an issue after all, but either way, it requires ABSOLUTE HONESTY.  And then having faith in the other person that when they say 'I really do love you more than anyone else in the world' and then DEMONSTRATE IT, that they mean it.  (And to clarify, yes, there are a lot of people who have a difficult time balancing emotions with reason or faith and belief in their partner, and hence do become ridiculously jealous and needy and clingy.  Also, there are plenty of people who say they love you but don't back it up with actions and yes, that's also a problem.)

In friendships, the issues become at once both simpler and more complicated.  We are not created to exclusively have one 'phileo' love- what we in Western cultures know as 'platonic love'.  We were created to spread that around.  Because of the way human personalities interact and intersect, people usually have 'levels' of friends.  Some people only have one friend period (I feel sorry for them).   Some have one best friend, others have five best friends.  Beyond those, they have close friends, then good friends, then friends, etc.  Friendships are not supposed to occupy the exact same place in our hearts that romantic relationships do.  They have their own place and yet they are no less important, and can be almost as deep as the relationship with your spouse.  But, although each of those phileo loves is unique, it's common for jealousy to exist in friendships, and it's not always a bad thing.

Firstly, it means that the friendship means enough to one or both of the participants for one of them to feel protective of their place in the other person's life or of the other person's place in their life.  Secondly, it means that they're observant enough to have noticed a change in the relationship and to feel concern over it.  As with romance, there is one way to handle it if you even want to try to fix it.  100% honesty.  'Hey, A, we don't spend as much time together as we used to, can we change that?'  "Hey, B, I feel like you're not talking to me as much about the important things in your life; why not?'

'Well, all this is fine and good', you say, 'but what about clinginess in either friendships or romantic relationships?  People do get awfully clingy sometimes.  Jealous girlfriend/boyfriend is a cliche for a reason.'
Yes, they do.  But.  Healthy jealousy is often mistaken for clinginess.  There is a difference and sometimes it's very hard to tell where the line is.  The New Oxford American dictionary defines clinginess in regards to relationships as: 'overly dependent on someone emotionally'.

Clinginess isn't saying 'hey, there is something unsatisfactorily different about our relationship now, is there something we can do about that?'- whether you're talking to your girlfriend, husband or friend.  Clinginess is calling someone a dozen times a day because you feel insecure about your relationship unless you are talking to them almost incessantly.  It's pitching fits about every little thing that your friend does without you.  It's constantly guilt tripping people with 'I thought we were friends; don't you like me anymore?'  It's freaking out when someone doesn't reply to your FB message within an hour.

In conclusion, sometimes jealousy isn't the green of envy; it's the green of an alive relationship realizing there might be something wrong that needs to be fixed, some dead growth to be pruned to keep the relationship healthy and growing.  100% honesty is not an absolute fix- sometimes it won't work for a variety of reasons- but it's the best starting point you can have.

May you have happy, healthy, honest relationships.