The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness

The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness

Singleness wasn’t your plan, was it, girlfriend?

Yeah, me neither.

Feel it? The throbbing, gnawing ache that chews its way up through your heart?

Put it there, girlfriend. Yeah, me, too…it comes and goes.

A bad stretch? Your cousin’s getting married, now? Your childhood friend posted more kid pics?

We have lots of tissues — knock yourself out.

Listen, maybe you don’t want to hear this right now, but God’s plan is always –

No, I’m not going to be your aunt. Not going to quote the plaque your church gave, you, either. Yeah, everyone says it to me, too—

The Gift – Yes, Gift – of Singleness — Kimia Wood

Rub it in, why don’t you?!

God’s got a man for you somewhere out there.

So, how’s the “fishing” going?

Y’know, you’re not getting younger… Let me tell you about the wonders of marriage –

You know what the Bible says: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord –”

No, I wasn’t going to say that.

I was saying, “God’s plan is always good.”

Have another tissue, and I’ll explain. Continue reading

You Are Here

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You can also start out specifically with Medieval AdventureMurder Mystery/RomancePost-Apocalyptic Adventure — or Sci-Fi Intrigue Suspense!

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If you’re a Christian…You Are Here — Welcome from Kimia Wood

…and you like seeing the story of your beautiful Savior connected with everyday life…well, there’s a lot here for you to love. You’ll have your thinking challenged…you’ll be inspired…you might find something you disagree with. But I trust you will find Jesus in the middle.

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Open Letter to Chick Publishing

Open Letter to Chick Publishing

Dear Chick Publishing,

I grew up with your tracts. My mom handed them out every Halloween.

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: Pixabay

I’ve often cried real tears while reading them because I see the beautiful story of my Master Jesus and His love for His people. And now that I’m grown, I’ve made your tracts a part of my own “passive evangelism” strategy (as opposed to the times I actually have conversations with people).

Which is why I feel I have to write this letter. I feel you (as an organization, maybe not as an individual) have a blind spot that’s hurting your witness and your relationship with your brothers and sisters…and our common Lord.

Is the KJV Really Your Hill to Die On?

I don’t mind if y’all prefer the King James Version of the Bible…but the anger and bitterness with which y’all 1) defend your preference and 2) attack others who make a different choice is frustrating.

Quite apart from the ways in which the KJV is a poor reflection of the original Greek, the things y’all write in your newsletters (and even in some of your tracts!) make it sound like you believe God sent an angel down in 1611 with golden tablets inscribed with these words, and to translate them would be a heresy!

Dude! Seriously?! What– Is this seriously how you want to be remembered? If even I, a Christian fundamentalist patriarchalist, thinks you sound cray-cray, what are unbelievers who run across this material going to think?

But let’s break it down. Because it’s not even rational. The KJV is the only valid Bible? Really? Are y’all for real?

God’s Literal Words…in English

Okay, so…your company (Chick Publishing) prints Spanish tracts.

SPANISH tracts.

People. You print tracts…in SPANISH.

Those tracts ARE NOT USING THE KING JAMES.

When Paul of Tarsus sat down and dictated to Silas, he wasn’t using English…they were speaking (gasp) GREEK. Literally Greek.

Were the things Paul, Peter, Luke, Moses, Jeremiah, etc. said/wrote all wrong until some random guys in Great Britain came along to “translate” them into the words God actually meant (meaning the KJV)?

What about the Bible translation work going on around the world?

This very moment, as I write this, Wycliffe Associates is supporting more than 1,550 translation projects, translating the Bible into languages around the world.

Not a single word of those translations is going to be KJV.

Do y’all seriously, honestly, intellectually believe that no one can be a “good Christian” unless he reads the Scriptures in 17TH-CENTURY ENGLISH?

I guess I’ll just go give the bad news to, like, literally 99.9% of Christians who have ever lived in the history of the world!

If We’re Here to Communicate…Shouldn’t We Speak Their Language?

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: ThisFragileTent

Not all English is created equal.

Meaning, many English-speakers (even those who speak it as a first language) have trouble with the phraseology of the King James.

I’ve heard a pastor preach about how bad “diver’s weights” are…not realizing the Proverb is talking about “diverse weights” AKA “weights of various (lying) measurements.” (Prov. 20:10…note how the ESV renders it…)

There was also a girl who was turned off from Jesus because she though He wanted children to suffer (“Suffer the little children to come unto Me…”). Using a translation that actually spoke her version of English helped her see that Jesus meant, “Let the children come to Me…”

We want to show people the real Jesus. I believe we can do that without compromising the truth of God, while still speaking in language people actually understand.

Incidentally…

Your tracts are written in modern English.

The cartoon on the back of one of your recent newsletter shows a “figure like a man” on a shiny throne, and he’s saying, “What are you doing with my words?”

Not, “What dost thou with My words?”

So is he really God if he’s using modern English sentence structure?

Oops! I was sarcastic!

Check out the tract “The Big Spender,” which y’all just published/republished.

It devotes a lot of text to explaining the Bible verses it quotes.

If it just used a translation that spoke modern English, it wouldn’t have to waste that space.

You apparently understand that the KJV doesn’t clearly communicate your meaning a lot of the time…so why do you insist on clinging to it? I’m honestly mystified.

“Do Not Add ANY Words…”

One of the things y’all complain about with other translations is “taking away” or “adding” words that aren’t in the original languages.

But honestly, the KJV isn’t immune, either.

Take this addition:

In John 8, we find the story of the woman caught in adultery.

The crowd asks Jesus to rule on the matter, and He ignores them to write in the dust.

Then the men, beginning with the oldest, left (vs. 9).

The KJV mentions they were “pricked in their consciences.”

The problem is, that phrase isn’t in the original Greek!

It helps with understanding the passage, but it’s an ADDITION to the literal words of Scripture! Those responsible for the KJV used their own interpretation in how they chose to render the passage.

To an extent, every translator makes choices like this.

But if you’re going to get bent out of shape over “adding or subtracting” from the word of God, you should at least apply the same metric to your own favorite translation. (Not even touching on the fact that Rev. 22:18-19 technically applies to “the book of this prophecy” AKA Revelation…)

Anger

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: pinterest

Y’all might have picked up on some “passion” from this writing. You might even read in a tang of bitterness, anger, or frustration.

That is not my intention. I’ve tried to speak as frankly as possible to take away some of the sting of my point…and because, if you are born again in the blood of Jesus Christ, then we are brother/sisters.

And that’s what siblings do: smack each other around, yell at each other, and be willing to die to protect each other.

So don’t mistake my sincere frustration for anything more hostile than sisterly care for the state of your witness and mentality.

I’ll be blunt…I don’t feel that care from your material.

When I open your newsletter and see a cartoon man guiltily holding an ESV, it hurts.

The ESV is one of the best translations for balancing the sense of the original languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic) and communicating clearly with a modern English audience.

If Cartoon Man had been dropping the KJV for a TNIV or a Jehovah’s Witness Bible, I would agree with your condemnation.

But the ESV?

Attacking a solid translation isn’t fair.

You’re dying on this hill…and it ain’t pretty.

You’ve dedicated countless newsletter articles to this issue…You even have entire tracts dedicated – not to sharing the Good News of Jesus our Savior – but to the KJV!

I get you love it…but is it really so important to tell everyone that every single Bible translation is corrupted by some Satanic Catholic cult except your precious gold-plated King Jimmy?

(That sounds like the pop-up on that website I visited telling me about Jesus’ super secret cure for diabetes!)

The unbelievers are watching. Weak Christians are watching you. What do you want them to hear you say?

“Jesus washes us from our sins and teaches us to follow Him!”

or

“You need to be using my Bible or you’re a degenerate, reprobate heretic who’s probably not saved to begin with.”

One of these feels a whole lot more loving to me.

Your reasons are your own.

I don’t care if you really, really want to use the KJV. Whatever. You be you.

Maybe that’s what you grew up with, so it sounds familiar…maybe you like how it renders this or that passage…maybe it’s in the public domain, so can be used in new publications without any costly licenses or contracts (well, at least in the USA!).

You can defend your own preferences and make choices for your own publications without demonizing fellow sons and daughters of God!

GOD Builds His Church, Y’all!

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJVAnd God preserves His word.

Just look at the Septuagint.

This Greek translation of the Old Testament was pretty inaccurate in a lot of ways…even so far as changing the ages of the patriarchs in Genesis so that they no longer add up!

And yet, when people in the New Testament quote the Scriptures (Jesus, Paul, etc.) they use the Septuagint! (In Greek, by the way.)

Are y’all really saying that the All-powerful, All-wise God of the Universe can’t get His point across unless we use specific English words (words that even some native-speakers have trouble understanding)?!

Again, if you want to use the KJV, more power to ya.

Whatever floats your boat.

But stop telling every other Christian in the English-speaking world that we have to use some hundred-years-old translation commissioned under a Catholic king.

(Oh, yeah…y’all hate – Catholics, too. But that’s a discussion for another time.)

God speaks to the Christians in Tanzania…in Bolivia…in Indonesia…in Russia…and in Kansas. And He uses His Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to do it.

Yes, He calls us to faithfulness.

Yes, He calls us to follow to the best of our ability…to holiness…to love and patience and grace.

But…He’s like the literal MAKER AND KING OF THE UNIVERSE who sees the end from the beginning and if you’re honestly saying He needs your specific translation to reach the English-speaking world – then I have one question for you:

Whuht?

What Did God REALLY Say?

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: Unsplash

So…I wrote this section title, and suddenly remembered the person in the Bible who’s quoted as using those words.

Hint: he had a forked tongue.

Yes, there are bad translations. Some translations are better than others. But God in the person of the Holy Spirit hammers home the lessons He wants to teach each and every one of His children, and you’re not going to mess that up by reading the “wrong” Bible.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to get as close to the original as possible. But by “original” I mean the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic that the original authors penned their words in.

It’s good to be concerned that we’re learning from reputable sources, and that we’re following God to the best of our ability.

But we’re all going to fall flat on our faces…and Jesus has to pick us up and help us walk again.

Remember Job: Satan is a dog on God’s leash.

Don’t you give that liar more credit than he deserves. He’ll try to twist our Scriptures, pull our pastors away after riches and sex, and confuse us with constant arguments about tiny details that don’t matter.

He’ll try.

But he can’t touch us unless our King and Master allows it…to test us, to teach us, or to teach someone else something.

So stop being so afraid! God’s got it!

The vibe I get from your material is that you’re so controlling and fixated on this particular aspect that you’ve taken your eyes off some other things that are equally (or perhaps more?) important:

“I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters below.”

“You Pharisees have abandoned the teaching of God in favor of man’s tradition. Foolish hypocrites!”

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

“The one who is weak should not judge the brother who is strong…and the one who is strong should not despise the brother who is weak.”

“Little children, love one another, for love comes from God.”

(Those are “off-the-top-of-my-head translations” of Exodus 20:1-4/Deut. 5:6-8; Mark 7:6-13; 1 Cor. 13:1-2; Rom. 14:1-4, 9-13; and 1 John 4:7-8)

I hope, hidden in my words here, you can feel the love…somewhere.

And I write this message with the firm conviction that y’all will…do precisely whatever you please.

But I had to write because I would hate for you to hum along without ever being confronted with an alternate perspective – AKA never being given the chance to choose differently.

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJV

Image credit: Oliver Roos on Unsplash

Just as, in my own walk, I would far rather my church family bring issues to my attention so I can grow and improve…rather than let me float along in error without a clue.

Because the other thing the Holy Spirit does is He puts people in our lives to challenge us, irritate us, have painful conversations with us, and rub off our rough edges to make us more pure for our Father.

So to anyone who actually reads this…thank you!

Keep up the good work!

Fear not…God is king!

And if God starts poking you over something…well, it’s best if you listen the first time, is all I’m sayin’.


Featured image credit

Open Letter to Chick Publishing — Kimia Wood — King James Version KJVKimia Wood is a Christian – fundamentalist – patriarchalist.

She also writes novels full of lovable characters and mysterious plots. She’s currently living with her family somewhere in the American Midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing exploits.

Friendship—Casualty of LGBT Agenda

Friendship—Casualty of LGBT Agenda

Friendship is about so many things.

Having fun doing the same things. Encouraging each other to be better than we are. Feeling safe with one another.

It’s not mutually exclusive with Romantic Love…but it’s something special, distinct, and different than Romantic Love.

Which is why, when I saw several works of fiction dirtying this platonic ideal, I had make a stand.

Can’t a girl have a friend who’s also a girl? Can’t two guys feel a brotherly bond – and nothing more complicated? Do these authors have to boil everything down to sex – sex –sex?

And if they do…what a sad, tiny world they must live in. In fact…a world without Friendship. Continue reading

Disgourgement of Art

If, in the following note, I have used poetic language, it is because of the cascading radial beams I observe in the beauty around me. Please understand that I have attempted to capture the over-abundance of this life-force, and do not wish my meaning to be obscured by lofty ambitions of prettiness.

You are an Artist. This is why I speak to you. I am an artist. Note the distinction. Some may mock at your works – image, sound, building of words – but I do not intend to. I merely intend to send forth the clarion call of warning that echoes in my being – that echoes in the universe – and pass on the scent of danger that I have caught from your work.

Yes, your work — seeing as it is separate from you, I do not despair of you – nor of it, please note. There is only a pathway to Death – not Death itself (if you are reading this!). I do not even say that the work in itself is evil (not in this fashion) but only that – if taken wrongly – can cause death…like medicine, or water, or sunshine.

One final preface: I have addressed you as “Child” because that is my affection for you…as an anxious mother bending for her child, eager to see the young ones follow in her footsteps, but afraid that by misunderstanding her example – and her instruction – they shall be misled and end up far away.

(Not that I am your model, you understand – in art, in work, or in other areas — but I strive for the glories I wish for you, and so am your fellow-worker, a fellow-artist (not Artist), and consequently concerned (read: terrified and sick with longing) for my brothers, my sisters, my BFFs…my children.)

Oh, Art. How I sicken of it.

Now, now, Child – I myself “do art”. But Art is a sucking of vapid desire that cannot be met outside of Faithful and True.

Take music. I sing, dance, feel the rhythm of the melody echo in my membranes with the cry of the cords that animate creation. Think me immune to the swell? I feel, too. But I do not worship it, any more than I worship the sun. Any more than I worship the crackling, biting, rhythmic flow of power that courses through the machines as the lifeblood of the digital world.

I have seen them: the ones who take Music (as Art) and cling to it as though with the patterns of sound – waft and wave – they could unmake and remake the very cords of humanity. They mistake the beauty – the Art – for Who put it there…and that is Deadly.

You see, I do not say that these things cannot be sanctified, but to suppose them to be holy of their own nature is to confuse the flow with the source, to confuse this beauty and this pic-line to the soul with Holy Holy Holy (being His name).

Oh Fool of my fellowship, oh Child of my family-blood, how I long to gather you as a sheepdog gathers sheep – and will you flee?

And now, what is art?

Do you not know that all time and space, all matter and every point of being, even language and thought itself, is directed toward this: worship? What you worship: in that lies Everything.

Art. Beauty. Paint and stone and words words words, and notes in harmonious sequence. What do they make? Beauteous Child, do not clutch gravel thinking them stars. You know Eternity stares at you whenever you close your eyes. And to step forward to meet the Eternal One, or recoil backward out of His grasp, has been the whole aim of mankind.

We all have our ways. Whatever we make with these clarion calls to the soul of Man, it will not go unrecorded. (There are “books”, you know, for that purpose. Rev. 20:12) And here again, with worship in mind, we find imitation the simplest tool in our hands. What, surely you know how Story has been used before! Do I presume to create new worlds, or do I hope – with what I weave – to capture the vibrating cord of Creation that echoes backward and forward and in every particle of the universe the eternal call of worship to the source: Holy, Holy (thus His name).

So you see we all chant back but one refrain — all our speech has one end, to speak Faithful and True.

Reach for the Eternal One, and all Eternity shall be yours to explore, along the paths of radiant joy that pierce the outermost shadows.

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

The Light pierces the Darkness; Image from ArtStation.com

What is Art?

A picture, a statue, a concept, a form, a beauty, an abiding, a pretty thing, a cry from the soul of Man.

No, no, some say. My Art is not this…not a stylized beauty, an Object, a thing of crude matter to cheat the haggard, clutching fingers of entropy. It is passing, like our lives. We stare in the face our own mortality.

This man does not build a statue…he builds an “event.” What are his tools? Steel, plastic, cloth, earth, people, words. Time and place. The hearts and souls of men. It is not art…it is interaction, relationship, human spirit, human energy, experience. He draws pictures, he spends money, thousands of lives are touched, someone takes a picture, and they call it Art.

“A matter of days,” he says. “A matter of days, and it’s gone. I take it down.” Flirting with his own unraveling, this event mimics the vaporization of his own humanity. “I did it!” he says. “I have created Art; I tore down my child with my own hands.” The Art is the idea, the memory, the fusion of human energies. “My name shall abide.”

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

The Gates; Image from Wikipedia

They grasp for the immortal. They think an idea will not die. Granite crumbles, bronze ferments, wood and paper melt, but the words, the concepts, the memories of millions…how can they die, in the hearts and souls of men? It shall abide.

Folly. The thoughts of men evaporate before the morning dew is birthed. How can your name abide in the minds of men, the outcry of your soul in their hearts? It is but a shadow, a mist. The emotions, the thoughts, the dream will fade faster than the grass.

What is Art? Can it be a form, a thing, a holding-in-the-hand?

Some have sought everlastingness in this…a stone, a page, a piece of glass.

Imagine a youth. His master calls, and he comes, strips, and stands in position, waiting to be turned into stone. The master works, and then he cries, “I have made beauty. — I have signed my name on a page. — Now I shall abide.”

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

Image courtesy of Jörg Bittner Unna/Wikipedia

Men see the statue. They enjoy its form, and the work lives on. They cherish it and care for it, and it goes on into the centuries to follow.

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia Wood

Vincent van Gogh; d. 29 July 1890 (aged 37); And the worms ate his flesh…

What of the youth? His master finishes, he walks away, and his flesh dissolves into earth. And his master? Can he abide in a name, in a form? In his hand-children, even in his own mirror image? No…the worms eat his flesh.

“I have made beauty.” “I have made Art.” “I have made a concept, a vision, a dream, a human thing.”

Meaning. By which they reach for eternity. What abides? Meaning. Purpose soars into the ages beyond, while the aimless dissipates as the vapor that creates it.

Fie! I say, this crumbling snatch at the immortal. This grasping for the eternal, the timeless.

Look.

See. What do we see?

Tree…mathematical formula…star…cat…galaxy, physics, newborn’s hand…I don’t just see beauty. I see the beauty of God.

Give him your soul, and he will give you life. Clutch it to your breast, in greedy fear and hesitation, and you will die for all eternity.

What joy, what love, is mine!

What bubbling of life in my soul! What can I do – what will express this other-worldly life?

I find color in my hand. I reach out…what does it touch? No matter… I look at a tree. At first, I get a sketch. But soon, I get a form, a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, an image of beauty. Not reaching for time, for life, for myself…forming a mirror image of His hands as they craft delight and beauty and thought.

What is the heart and soul of man?

Reach for the Eternal One, and He will lift you up.


Originally written 2016. Dedicated to my dear friends who have mistaken the means for the end…I hope you learn to see.

Disgourgement of Art — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family, including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.

She’s bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive occasional updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

Listen, Kid…(What Do You Say Next?)

Listen, Kid…(What Do You Say Next?) — Kimia Wood

CHOOSE YOUR PATH! Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

So once upon a time an older person met a younger person. They didn’t know each other very well, but were connected through socio-cultural similarities.

Wanting to encourage the younger person, the older person chose to give advice about their potential life choices.

See if these words sound familiar…

You’re interested in writing? You should go to a four-year college and get a Master of Fine Arts degree! That will let you make money as an author.

You did very well with your three lines in the church play! Maybe you should go to a four-year acting college, move to California sight-unseen, and get a job in the movies!

You enjoyed high school math and economics? Invest in that! Go to this website and check out internships in your field, then look into advancing your education and getting into clerical/economic positions!

Do you notice anything…off?

Naturally, there’s a lot of good here: the older person is trying to affirm the younger person…to notice their interests and passions…to give them positive feedback…and encourage them to better themselves.

The older person wishes only the best for the younger person. They seize on what little data they can find, and build on that…with nothing but the best intentions.

And yet…

What god do these people worship?

Take a close look at the quotes. There’s not a lot to go on, is there? There’s mention of a “church play”…but what else in the scene places these two characters?

They might be meeting at a Lions Club. They might be distant relatives at a family reunion. Perhaps they’re total strangers interacting briefly in a store.

Look again at what the older person said. Based only on their words, who (or what) do they consider the most important thing in the world worship?

Short Aside—What Is A God?

If you’ve ever read the Bible, you know that “idols” are things people worship apart from God, and it makes Him very angry.

Because, if we’re Christians, we’re “married” to God…but every time we put something else in His place, that’s like having an affair with the idol.

That’s what He literally says through his prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

(Anyone else feeling dirty right now?)

My dad defines a “god” as this—

A god is something we go to when we want to get things done…or something whose claims on us we acknowledge.

Examples?

Money is an easy target. It’s even mentioned in the Bible. Money is a very generous god…it gives us anything we could desire.

But in exchange, it demands our soul.

Power and sex are other “gods” we go to for getting what we want.

Sports is a harsh authoritarian, demanding our Sunday mornings, our school nights, and our time with family. It can be hard to deny Sports the things it demands.

Pride? Pride is a god worshiped by many (including me – that’s why Jesus needs to change my heart). I want other people to praise me, to acknowledge me, and to speak great things of me. Because (get this) it’s all focused on ME…not God.

And in exchange, Pride rots my heart from the inside out.

Back to Our Fairytale…Who Gets My Life?

An older person spots a younger person…just starting out, an image of what they themselves once were, with a chance to do anything and be anything this world offers.

This older person wants to advise the younger person…to give them a hint about the direction they should take…to encourage them to put their youthful energies and resources into something meaningful.

So the older person says:

[…what would you say?…]

[…what is the most important thing?…]

[…what one thing would you point to, that you wish every whipper-snapper in your life would devote themselves whole-heartedly to?…]

There’s no guarantee they’ll listen. They’re young…they probably won’t.

But what is so critical, so vital, that you’ll use your one interaction with this incarnation of Past You to impart?

Think about it. Your answer will say a lot about where your heart is…


Listen, Kid…(What Do You Say Next?) — Kimia WoodKimia Wood lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family…including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.

Subscribe to her mailing list before society collapses and the web goes dark! You’ll get a FREE copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier…plus periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

Christmas Night, From the “Other” Side

What is he waiting for?

Christmas Night, From the "Other" Side — Kimia Wood

Image from Pixabay

The shepherd men are here. The mother and husband are in position.

Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting? Isn’t it time?

I got excited when the Emperor signed the census order. After all, that was finally the beginning of the end, right?

Then there was that Simeon guy…Remember when the word came down? Somebody took him a message from the Throne:

You won’t die until you have seen my Promised Anointed One with your own eyes. (see Luke 2:25-26)

Good grief gravy! I was so pumped I couldn’t walk straight. Remember how we said to each other, “You know what this means? It’s happening soon. Like, human-standards soon!”

Man! I can’t even–

What is he waiting for? How long can it take to deliver a baby? Couldn’t some of us dash over and give the girl a hand? Please?! I’ve been waiting so long!

Just make yourself visible already! We can’t come out until you come out! Listen, I’ve been practicing this song since Isaiah got the tip.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

I can’t even imagine being separated from Him – even for a moment. I despise our former kin who took up arms against Him.

And yet…these weak, momentary humans…He’s coming for them! The Great Plan – you’ve heard the rumors, yes? The little, cryptic hints we were allowed to give the prophets?

Gah! So long! Why is this taking so LONG? Don’t you tell me, “It’s only one night.” This is THE night — the night all other nights are counted from…

The point where Eternal, Immortal Invisible cracks Time, the Physical, the –

We have got to go to the stable after this and see for ourselves. Imagine Him – wrapped in a flesh body – hokey smokes, won’t the light and majesty just leak out of Him like a bush on fire?

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? The shepherds are just waiting around for us. The fat one is asleep – I can tell. Wake him up! Wake them all up! Wake up the whole damned, soon-to-be-redeemed-and-ransomed world!

He Is here! In the flesh! God fused with human form so closely and completely that He is fully both –!

At last! Look at ’em scream and hide their eyes. If you only knew, boys…if you only knew.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

It’s time! IT’S TIME! Can’t take it any more…gonna become visible – Boom! Listen up, little men of the sheepfold – listen!Christmas Night, From the "Other" Side — Kimia Wood

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

He’s here! He came! The Son of Man Himself! How can you not be shouting – dancing – with me? He’s come to redeem your poor, pathetic, flesh-bound lives and make ALL THINGS NEW!

How can you not sing?!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Kimia the Author lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family – including the brother that strangers mistake for her boyfriend.

Subscribe to her mailing list before society collapses and the web goes dark.

Now I gotta go dance and sing for a while…

Best Articles You Shouldn’t Miss

I love Twitter for all the cool articles I can find and share there. So I dug back through my feed for the best articles, posts, and videos I found and shared this past year!

Whether you’re an author, a blogger, or just a Christian who likes thinking deeply about things, here are some cool (and/or important) pieces for you to enjoy!

Writing and Story DevelopmentBest Articles You Shouldn't Miss — Kimia Wood

This year I fell down the deep, dark hole of “writer YouTube”…Here are some of the amazing (and addicting) videos I found:

Former CIA Chief of Disguise Breaks Down 30 Spy Scenes From Film & TV

via WIRED

I found this video while researching my spy/suspense/action story Transmutation of Shadow, and it’s so cool!

Trope Talk: Robots

via Overly Sarcastic Productions

Red does a great job recognizing that humans and computers have totally different ways of thinking…and she also breaks down the good, the evil, the friendly, and the realistic of writing robots in fiction.

Rey and the Sad Devolution of the Female Character

via Thor Skywalker

We don’t hate female characters…we hate poorly done characters that serve a meta agenda, rather than feeling like genuine people within the story world.

Watch the video to see for yourself!

(Also check out this video – by Literature Devil – about “Mary Sue” characters…what they are, why people dislike them, and how they relate to the issue of “Social Justice Warriors”.)

A Few Words from Roger Zelazny

via on Tor.com

Roger Zelazny wrote the Chronicles of Amber, which inspired my dad as a young writer…and became a surprise favorite with me when I read it. This interview with him gives insight into his writing process, his opinion of fantasy vs. science fiction, and on writing complex characters.

It’s not a video…so read it at your leisure.

Action Choreography for Novels

via Felix the Fox Mysteries

Action plays a big role in my White Mesa Chronicles (especially Gladiator…guess why) and in Transmutation of Shadow. Thus it’s important to get the physics right!

This post (also not a video) will help you think about those pesky problems of what’s actually, physically possible in your story!

Also check out his post on making pre-modern (and fantasy) battles more realistic in terms of equipment, technique, and strategy. Remember: everything happens in context!

The Elevator Pitch

via Christa MacDonald on Christian Shelf-Esteem

If you’ve been in the “author” circle for long, you’ve heard you need an “elevator pitch”…a short, pithy expression of your book(s) that would fit into the space of an elevator ride, but make whoever’s listening want to hear more.

Christa MacDonald found she was making assumptions about what the people she was talking to would be interested in, and defending her work before anyone had raised any objections.

Read her post to see how she decided to let go of this fear rooted in pride, and share her stories at face value.

Worldview

Best Articles You Shouldn't Miss — Kimia Wood

Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

How we think about the world is crucial…and our different perspectives form a central part of who we are.

Each of these articles (or videos) explores a different element of our lives and challenges us to think about morality, culture, art, ourselves, and/or God in a different light.

Enriching Lives – What Mass Effect 2 Teaches Us about Morality

via Extra Credits

Extra Credits create entertaining, thought-provoking videos about video games…how to make them well, how to tell meaningful stories through them, what they can mean for the broader culture, etc.

This one talks about how video games can force us to examine our own moral beliefs!

Artistic Originality: Is It Dead—or Was it Merely a Fallacy to Begin With?

via Sean P. Carlin

In our cultural climate of reboots, sequels, prequels, reboot-sequels…Mr. Carlin has asked the question, “What is artistic originality anyway?”

Can we ever truly be free of our creative influences, and make “original” art?

Read his article to find out!

Also check out his article about his childhood of urban exploration in New York City, and how our shifting culture of security-consciousness makes that impossible for kids of the modern day. We’ve lost something…is it worth the price of “safety” to give up?

Read his piece and decide for yourself!

How Virtual Horse Armor Paved the Way for Micro-Transactions

via Cheddar

Micro-transactions are all over the place in free-to-play games…sort of like YouTube has started shoving ads in my face every time I want to load a video.

This video (on YouTube…ahem) talks about how it started…and why micro-transactions that affect game-play make players more unhappy than things that affect aesthetics.

How Our Addiction to FREE is Poisoning the Internet and Killing the Creatives

via Kristen Lamb

This post was so interesting, I even wrote my own follow-up piece.

Basically: we all love free stuff. Getting free stuff, that is. But nothing is free…someone has to give it. And as authors give away more free stuff (books, songs, etc.) the more audiences expect free stuff, and the worse the whole problem gets.

Just go read her full post – then read my post about living generously!

(Also read her post about the flood of new books that self-publishing has created, and some strategies that we as an industry could use to find the “good fish” amidst the tsunami. Basically, go check out her blog in general.)

My Son Was Addicted to a Smartphone

via Sabrina McDonald on Family Life

Yes, smartphone addiction is a thing, and yes, you can confront it. In fact, before drugging your kid up for ADHD, look into culling his screen time! It might be the trick you need.

YouTube: Manufacturing Authenticity (For Fun and Profit!)

via Lindsey Ellis

Having become, ahem, slightly addicted to YouTube this year, I naturally found channels/content providers that I liked and looked up all their videos.

However, as an author and blogger, I also have a feeling for the other side (people all over the world aren’t watching my face, but they can look up my words at any time).

When the wall between “media celebrity” and audience comes down…when your favorite YouTuber or author “gets real” and shares personal things…what does that do to them? What does it do to us? What are the “moral hazards” of this “authentic celebrity” culture?

If you’re not sure exactly what I mean, just watch the video! It’s thought-provoking! (Language cautions, though.)

Christian Fiction Guidelines

via Chad Pettit

Did you know that some “Christian” readers have very specific guide-lines for what they consider to be “Christian” fiction? And that they’ll rake authors over the internet coals if they break these rules?

Perhaps we should go back to the BIBLE for a consideration of what we should be reading/writing in our fiction…and maybe we can extend some Christian kindness to our brothers and sisters.

This post is a plea for just that. Read it yourself!

A Tale of Two Worldviews

via Scott Allen at WORLD Magazine

Ta-Nehisi Coates versus Martin Luther King, Jr. — two African-American thought leaders with very different approaches to the race issue. Justice and reconciliation will only come from a Jesus-centered worldview.

MarketingBest Articles You Shouldn't Miss — Kimia Wood

We authors are always looking for ways to better get books into readers’ hands. Here are some of the useful posts I’ve found on marketing:

How To Improve Your Amazon Book Descriptions

via Jane Friedman

How do you describe your book so that someone else will want to buy it? Making the text easy to skim, and starting with a grabby line, are just a couple of the suggestions you’ll find here!

How to Improve Your Email Newsletters Right Now

via Bad Redhead Media

Email newsletters are one of those things that are so important, yet so mystifying. These tips and tricks will help you look like a pro to your fans! (Hint: STOP USING G-MAIL ALREADY.)

How to Write for a Blog: 10 Tips for Writing Strong Web Content

via Anne R. Allen

Writing a blog post is different than writing a term paper. Here are some easily digestible, understandable tips to help anyone write a better blog!

Blogger + Author Interaction Etiquette Survey Responses: Answers from the Book Bloggers’ Perspectives (2019)

via Vicky Who Reads

200+ bloggers were surveyed (anonymously) about how they want authors to interact with them. I found some of the answers very interesting, and it’s worth it to check out someone else’s perspective.

The Eternally Clickable Headlines of Buffer (And How to Write and Find Your Own)

via Buffer

Blog post headlines are mysterious, but very important. Here’s some advice that is readable and digestible to make your blog headlines even better!

Six Reasons Nobody Reads Your Blog and How to Fix It

via Mixtus Media

You say you could never write a blog? That it’s too complicated, or too hard?

These six tips might just give you the tools and the steps you need to become a blogger (or to take your blog to a more professional level)!

Hope you enjoyed these posts!

Be sure to share the posts you liked best with your friends, and support the authors!

What did you enjoy learning this past year? What were your favorite things to read? Give us your suggestions!


Best Articles You Shouldn't Miss — Kimia WoodKimia Wood lives somewhere in the American Midwest with her family – including the brother people mistake for her boyfriend.

She’s currently bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to the mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes

Nursing homes are scary. Not only is there the perpetual smell of urine and chemical cleaners, there’s the constant blathering of a thousand TVs all set to something different…not to mention they’re full of little old ladies who mistake you for their daughter (when actually you’re their son).

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Image credit: IrishExaminer.com

And yet…Those little old ladies are sick, lonely, inching towards death, trapped in this mysterious and scary place that smells like body fluids, and could sure use a smiling face to set the day apart from all others.

In short…they could use YOU to break up the week and bring some cheer into their pain and uncertainty!

Impossible, you say? You could never go visiting in a nursing home? You’d rather be caught dead than in one of those places? (Jinx.)

It’s not as scary as you think. Check out these tips for visiting a nursing home…and then you might decide that even you can help out in this important ministry!

Starting is the Hardest

The first time I visited a nursing home, I wasn’t sure I would make it.

When you walk in, you might not know anyone. Besides the intimidating environment, you don’t know what to expect. Anything could happen.

You’re there to “love on people” and “touch lives”…but what does that even look like in real life?

You won’t know until you try. And chances are, it’ll look different in your case than it did in mine…but don’t give up!

Here are some strategies to make those new friends:

  • Walk down the hall, knock on doors, and see who smiles back at you. Chances are good that people will let you say hello for a few minutes, if you just ask.
  • Contact the staff of the facility where you’re visiting, and ask them which residents don’t have family or friends in the area…or which residents might enjoy having the Bible or a devotional read to them. The staff will probably be excited to help you…Our bodies heal faster when our minds and emotions are in good shape!
  • Bring a dog, baby, or small child with you. People will come to you to make friends!
  • Talk to the activities director or other person in charge, and bring a craft, special movie night, or other activity in to the facility. Those who are able and interested in participating will show up…and now you have a connection for other visiting opportunities!
  • Go see someone you already know: a relative, former church member, or friend of someone you know. Chances are they’ll have a roommate you can talk to at the same time, and you might meet someone in the hallway you can get to know.

It does get better!

You’ll get the hang of things, find a routine, and make new friends.

Just like the first day of school, the first month in a new town, or the first few weeks in a new apartment building…it’ll take getting used to.

Just remember: there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!

Take a Buddy

Yes, you’re there to make new friends…but sometimes the best way to do that is to bring old friends!

From the disciples Jesus sent out, to Paul and Silas and Barnabas and John Mark, to the multiple-elder model of the Biblical church, we’re supposed to do ministry together.

Not only does this provide accountability, to 1) keep us on the straight and narrow and 2) protect our reputation from the Enemy…but it’s also more fun!

Walking into a strange place to speak to people you don’t know is a lot less intimidating when you have a buddy at your side. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or someone from your church, take that buddy!

You can’t swim without a buddy…don’t try to visit without a buddy. They’ll be there for you when you don’t know what to say, they’ll be a prayer partner with you, and they’ll keep the ball rolling on days when you can’t make it.

No one ever said you had to do this alone! So don’t try 🙂

Don’t Worry About What You’ll Say

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

My grandma, dying of brain cancer

What do you do when an old lady looks right at you and says, “I’m dying?”

When a woman tells you she has cancer?

When someone weeps about the disfunction in her family, and how she’s not getting the care she wants?

Just like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, the temptation is to open our big mouths and fix everybody’s problems.

Sometimes they need their problems fixed. Sometimes God put us there to share Jesus with them and point them to ultimate healing.

And sometimes…the very best thing we can do is sit beside them, holding their hand and crying with them.

It feels like doing diddly-squat. But people appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Pray. A Lot. For Everything

What about the times when you need to say something?

You’ve got the Holy Spirit inside you, right? Leave it to Him.

If He starts poking you from the inside, whispering, “This lady will go to Hell without Me — introduce us!” you just better listen is all I’m saying.

And as long as you’re having good, long conversations with Him on a daily basis, you’ll have the strength you need.

Pray for one another

You can also pray for your friends – new and old!

While it’s vital that you spend quality time with God for your own spiritual health, it’s also important to bring others before him.

Your contacts in the nursing home will have obvious needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that you should tell your Father about…but what about your visiting buddies?

Don’t forget to pray for them, too — that they will have just the right words to say, that they will meet just the right person God wants them to minister to, and that they will be strong on the days that are hard.

(And encourage them to pray for you, too!)

Just Showing Up Means the World

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, learn this:

Don’t sweat it.

God is able to take your little, pathetic efforts, and work His grand, amazing scheme out of it.

You’ve taken the first step. God doesn’t ask us to give Him everything all at once…just one thing more.

And until you actually step out, you’ll have no idea how much five minutes of conversation actually means to someone!

Just one short conversation with someone who isn’t paid to be there, who isn’t necessarily related to them, and who’s only there to brighten their day…people will be so grateful, it’ll break your heart.

Commit

Like dieting, exercising, cleaning the house, and other good habits, consistency is key.

Go once a week…or even every other week. That’s all. No pressure.

The more you show up, over and over again, the deeper your relationships with the patients will be. They’ll start to expect you. They’ll remember you from last time, and smile.

You’ll have made a friend.

They’re the ones stuck in a nursing home, so it’ll be up to you to make the effort. But you can do it!

(Not only that, but the staff will start to notice your commitment and faithfulness…which gives you another place to shine Jesus’ love!)

Just show up – week after week, month after month – and people will begin to trust you…in a way that they can’t trust someone who might or might not show up, maybe.

Find a schedule that works for you.

Don’t let yourself make excuses. If this is what God wants you to be doing with your time, make sure you get it done.

And again…don’t sweat it. Emergencies will come up, you’ll miss a day here and there…and sometimes your “contacts” will be out, too.

Just make sure that, when you commit, you really mean it.

It’ll mean the world to some poor senior or patient.

Pray – All the Time – For Everything

Did I mention this?

It’s not super hard to remember to pray for your new friends…especially if you write it down and ask your ministry partners to hold you accountable.

What I find harder is remembering to pray before I go visiting…and to pray for the right words, that God will lead us to the right people, that I will trust Him in every situation, etc.

8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia Wood

Look at that smile 🙂

But this is just as important.

Pray for your fellow visitors. Also pray for the families of the people you will meet, and for the staff, and for the healthcare system as a whole (it needs it, trust me).

Pray that Jesus will be evident in every single action we take.

In this way, you will immerse yourself in God’s will, and invite His Holy Spirit to take charge of your life – and of your commitment to visiting.

I said “take a buddy.” The Holy Spirit is the best buddy you can take.

You Will Fall in Love

I keep saying, “You’ll make new friends.” This is not a figure of speech.

You might just get addicted to this. If a week goes by, and you don’t visit your little buddies, you’ll feel weird.

You’ll have deep conversations…some hard, some amazingly cool. You’ll get to gush about Jesus, and maybe find out you have “brothers and sisters” in some unexpected places.

Your heart will break. You’ll be built up. You will touch the lives of some lonely, desperate people.

God doesn’t call all of us to this kind of ministry…but if He’s calling you, don’t be afraid. He’s got this!

Now go be sunshine to someone who needs it!


8 Tips for Visiting at Nursing Homes — Kimia WoodKimia Wood currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by knitting, baking, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.

Subscribe to her mailing list for a FREE e-copy of her post-apocalyptic adventure novella Soldier! You’ll also receive periodic updates on her latest reading and writing adventures.

“Wedding Score” by Amanda Tero

"Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia Wood Stephanie – and her author Ms. Tero – are both single Christian girls inching toward thirty. I am also a single Christian girl inching toward thirty.

This short novella is all about the unique (or not so unique) struggles that we loners face when we have no one but God to depend on…and He doesn’t have physical arms to lean on.

I was super excited for this book from the moment I first heard about it in the author’s newsletter. After all, Christian singleness is a topic I’ve blogged about a time or two, and I’m still traveling the wave of acceptance-to-desperation-to-resignation-to-panic-to-acceptance…

By Single Gals, For Single Gals

"Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia WoodMs. Tero has me by a year or two, but we’re both still waiting for our Prince Charming…and at times we’re not even sure he’ll ever show up.

But that’s okay. At least, it should be okay, if we affirm that God is the only one we’ll ever really need, and that His arms are big enough to carry us through anything life throws at us…even lifelong lone-ranger-ing.

But – focus on the story!

Stephanie is a relatable protagonist. To the point you might feel Ms. Tero snagged your own characteristics, changed a few particulars to deflect suspicion (for instance, I’m not a musician), and put you full-bodied into her work.

Stephanie is a conservative Christian young lady (wears denim skirts and everything!) and while I don’t think it’s spelled out, you can easily guess she was homeschooled (come on – denim skirt!). She’s also well connected to her church, reads her Bible faithfully, and has a large, loving extended family.

And, just like the rest of us (ahem), she gets hit with a debilitating case of “loner syndrome”.

Christian Religious Inspirational…

Writing about spiritual issues is a ticklish business. It’s so very easy to stray into preachiness, sticky-toffee sugar-coating, awkward marionette-plotting, literal Deus-ex-machina, pat answers to complex questions –

Ms. Tebo’s writing, however, rings authentic – probably because she supplied the text of Stephanie’s devotions from her own personal devotions. The trouble with a story is that we know it’s a story, and therefore that an author crafted it for a deliberate reason. By allowing herself to be vulnerable, and share her own struggle with singleness, Ms. Tebo allowed Stephanie’s journey to be as realistic as possible.

It also helped that the book description and marketing made it obvious this book would tackle religious issues. It wasn’t, for example, pretending to be a murder mystery (AHEM). Everyone who picks up this book will be expecting a Christian exploration of the struggle of singleness…and they won’t be disappointed.

Happily Ever After

"Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia WoodEven before I received my early-access copy of Wedding Score, I knew the ending would be a deal-breaker. After all, when you’re writing a fictional story, you are the “god” of the story world, and can give your characters any ending you want!

It would be too easy for a sick-with-loneliness author to hit all her characters with the “hunky Mr. Right” wand. But that kind of ending would be the last thing a Christian single struggling to be faithful would need. And, that kind of ending would in some ways negate the whole point of the story.

Ms. Tebo escapes that simplistic solution! After wrestling through the entire book with leaning solely on God, Stephanie isn’t “rewarded” with a flesh-and-blood man to hold her hand. No, she still has to depend on God – even while her friends are still getting married all around her! – but the work of His Spirit in her heart has brought a change.

And that is what we have to hold on to, fellow loners! Cling to the knowledge that no matter what – even if we never get to wear that dress or have our own kids – God will be right by our side and we will be “sons and daughters” to Him.

Not Alone

So what else can this book teach you, other than that God is faithful and will be all you need?

That you’re not alone!

Yes, maybe you don’t have your own little nest, but there’s still extended family, church family, and all the other single Christians who are going through the exact same thing you are! Maybe they’re in a different “stage” of singleness than you are, but you can bet they’re bouncing on the wave just the same (unless through the grace of Jesus they’ve arrived, in which case NOT FAIR).

Cry. Laugh. Tell us about your struggles. On the bad days, come for hugs. On the good days, dish out hugs – ’cause we need them!

Somewhere, someone has walked the exact same path as you. And for me at least, that makes the wilderness a little less lonely.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free ARC from the author as part of the book launch. I was not required to write a review of any kind, and all opinions are my own (imagine me being vocal about my opinions!)."Wedding Score" by Amanda Tero — Kimia Wood


Check out my interview with the author!

Wedding Score releases this week!
You can add it on Goodreads, then find it on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, or as a signed paperback from the author!

Check out the author’s official website at AmandaTero.com.