There are some things that do not directly affect us and yet they define something in us all the same.

Challenger liftoff. January 28, 1986
My "soul sista" Laura sent this to me when she was editing Going in Circles. Uhm, do you think she was trying to tell me something?

Oh, and bonus random observation... this cat looks almost EXACTLY like my daughter's cat. Now I'm really wondering...
This has, at the moment, got to be one of my very favorite worship songs. The first time I ever spoke in church, I spoke about this song. It's kind of weird the way that I think about it, but it's what hit me the first time I ever heard it. (And you can, of course, hear it by clicking on the title above.)

I hate to tell any of the ladies who are reading this, but my husband can beat up your husband. With all of my heart, I believe that he is even better than Rambo. I firmly believe that he could get up the morning of the Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, call up his best friend, show up with no practice, and leave every other Ranger there in the dust. I believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is the most brilliant military planner that ever lived. Personally, I feel his chain of command is lucky to have him. I believe that there is not a job in the Army that he can’t do and do perfectly—the first time he tries.

I also believe that he is the greatest husband that ever walked this earth. It’s true; there is no better man on earth. No one is more honest, more sexy, more loving, more open, or a better father than him. I hate to tell you, ladies, but if you didn’t marry my husband, you got gypped.

The thing is, though, that one of my best friends, Jill, believes the same thing about her husband. According to her, KC can beat up Paul, shoot holes in any military strategy he devises, and smokePaul so badly in any competition that he'd make him cry. In order to save our friendship, we’ve agreed not to discuss whose husband is the greatest. (Just kidding… I think.) We now call them “co-Rambo.”

I’m willing to bet that, if I talked to most of you women out there (or to any of the men about their wives), you’d tell me (and Jill) that, actually, it’s you’re husband who can single-handedly save the world then come home and be the most loving and tender husband ever.

Why is that? Why is it that the vast majority of us are convinced that our husband (or wife) is the greatest?

Because we’re in love. I’ve been married for ten years and I have to tell you, he still gives me butterflies sometimes. (Of course, months and months of Army separations probably help to enhance that newlywed feeling…) I can brag about my man all day, through sunset, past midnight, and into dawn the next day (and don’t think that doesn’t totally embarrass him, either… he hates it!). Believe me, there has never been one ounce of shame in my love for my husband.

So why do I bring all of this up? Because I have to ask myself (and you) a question.

Do I love God that much?

Am I so head over heels in love with my God that I publicly display my affection for Him?

Am I willing to talk about all that my God has done until my throat is hoarse?

Do I think—and am I willing to say aloud in mixed company—that my God is bigger than any other god? That He always has been and always will be the Triumphant One?

If I am so ga-ga over a mortal sinful man, how can I fail to be the same way over my God?

There’s no shame in my love for my husband, but is there shame in my love for my God? Am I scared to profess it, afraid that someone will roll their eyes at me or think I’m weak because I love God?

I’d take a bullet for my husband; would I be willing to face death for loving God?

If we really love God, we should be as willing to profess it as we are to profess our love for our spouses. We should be willing to do as much as—well, more—for God than we do for our spouses. Are we?
I was watching the concert video "TobyMac: Alive and Transported" with my daughter today and, during the concert, TobyMac told the story of writing "The Slam." (You can click the title above to hear it if you don't know it.) He said he sat in his car after he saw "The Passion of the Christ" with his "pen and notebook" and thought, ya know, my Jesus didn't halfway do it... he slammed it. Now, seriously, when you first hear the song, you aren't quite sure what to make of it, especially if you're not familiar with TobyMac. It's loud and rockin' and most churches probably wouldn't put up with it. But here's the thing...

...that very song has been known to make me cry.

Why? 'Cause "my Jesus slammed it." See, some people don't like TobyMac or other artists like him who full-on put Jesus music to hip-hop or rock or pop or punk or whatever beats. They think it's sacrilege. I don't. I think, when it's real and it's anointed and it's 100% about God that it's, well... it's about God. This is why I just love TobyMac and guys like him. It is full-throttle, straight-on, unashamed joy and love for Jesus that gets them up there singing that song.

I used to have a preacher who said that we go to football games and baseball games and we cheer for our teams, so how come we don't walk up in church and just shout with all of our mights, "WAY TO GO, JESUS!" And to me, that's what artists like that are doing. They're yelling, "Oh yeah... My Jesus SLAMMED it!" For real, isn't that what a lot of us--especially the ones younger than me--would shout out if they really meant it?

Don't get me wrong... I love every kind of Jesus music there is, from the oldies to the newbies. And I love it when people shout out, "Praise the Lord!" and "Hallelujah." But I also used to teach middle schoolers and high schoolers, and it was really coming from the very core of their soul when they started using "street words" (for lack of a better term) for Jesus. When they started talking about Jesus with that kind of feeling, the kind of words that were the ultimate in "cool" to them, then I knew they were deep down feeling their Jesus. It's genuine and it's real and it's them meeting Jesus where they really and truly live, with a geniuneness that I totally miss out on sometimes.

And this is why I love TobyMac and Relient K and Audio Adrenaline and Kutless and Plankeye and so many others... they are talking their authentic talk, sharing their real selves with Jesus and with us. MAN! That just makes me high, ya know? Being genuine for Jesus? Wow... What if we were all that way?
SO... ACFW is holding their annual Genesis competition for unpublished writers. Entering means that professionals look at my novel and comment on it. Constructive criticism from professionals. VERY cool. And, placing means a prime meeting spot with them at the convention in Colorado this year. Even cooler.

BUT... in order to enter I have to agree to NOT submit it to any publishers for the duration of the contest which, if I don't place, is in May. It's not that I think I'm all that, it's just the question: Where does GOD want this manuscript to go next? Competition or Agents? Hmmmm...

What to do, what to do... That's a really tough call. I mean, it's guaranteeing that industry people see the book (at least the first chapter, anyway). On the flip side, it means putting it on the shelf for a few months.

Not sure what to do. Just not sure what to do.
Christmas vacation was awesome this year. I got to spend it with my husband AND my family all at the same time. Usually, because we're military, one of the other is missing. It was nice. It was very, very nice. I also got the opportunity to hang out with three of my very best friends from college, most of whom I haven't seen in a decade. Wow. I'm getting old! :-) That was fun, too, and set me to musing about friendship, but that's a post for another time.

What's got me thinking today is something that's had me thinking for several days now. I'm trying to sit still and just listen to God more, instead of doing all of the talking to Him. Sometimes I can manage to sit still and just BE with Him, and other times I wind up getting fidgety and missing anything He's trying to tell me. Well, on Saturday, I managed to get still. And what He said really got me.

In college, I did something that I consider to be the top Very Bad Thing I've ever done. I've said before that it took me a lot of years to come around to forgiving myself for it, and that the realization that I actually had to forgive myself was the basis of my book, Going in Circles. Let's add to that the fact that what I used to write was way way way less than God-honoring. It was selfish and just plain ol' wrong.

I said that to say this: On Saturday, God let me know that even when I was doing the Very Bad Thing and even when I was writing all of the not-so-God-honoring stuff, He was looking at me and seeing the ultimate outcome. He was looking at me, mired in that sin and mired in that writing and He was seeing the good that would come out of it, was seeing the way that He would one day use it for His glory in my life. Not that the sin wasn't sin. Not that He discounted it or approved of it. But in His infinite Godness and grace and glory He saw the big picture. Not only that, but He loves me so much that He let a sinner like me actually do a work for His glory. That not only blows my mind, it's like a full-force category 5 hurricane in my brain. Wow. He lets me work for Him, when I'm 100% unworthy. Unreal.

So when I say that God rocks my world, I'm not being figurative. That's a totally literal statement. He has continually rocked the foundations of everything I thought I knew in the world and settled them back down on Him, the foundation that can't be shaken.

That reminds me of a song. (Ha, ha... what doesn't, right?) And it's not a song you'd expect. It's a B-side Weird Al Yankovic song (Weird Al and God... interesting combination...) called "Everything You Know Is Wrong." And in it, he says, "Everything you know is wrong, black is white, up is down, and short is long. And everything you thought was so important doesn't matter." Every time I hear that song--which isn't often, actually--I get to thinking about God and how He did that to my life. He shook me all up and showed me that, yep, everything that I thought I knew before Him? All wrong.

Ain't it cool?