Immediate Healing

I just had to sit down and write yesterday, and this is what came out!

Last March (2018), while I entertained the thought of leaving my marriage, I thought that I would be facing years of counseling to put my delicate, unidentifiable, self back together.

About two weeks before I left, I remember sitting with some friends for dinner, and one of them asked me about doing some kind of skit or something like that and I flat out refused and I thought to myself, “No way!!!!!  I’m not even funny anymore.  In fact, I have no idea who I am anymore!?!?!” (Some of you may thinking that it’s funny that I ever considered myself to be funny at all, but
anywho . . .).   I felt like the essence of who I was, was no longer even present inside of me. . . anywhere???? Talk about terrifying!!!!   At that point I was 98.7 percent sure I was leaving my marriage, (however, I had been there a couple times before and didn’t leave) barring some crazy miracle and I wondered how long it would be, before I would feel like myself again . . .  if ever. I thought I would be some delicate, broken, child, for a long time, needing countless hours of therapy and whole lotta time.  I can tell you, with great relief, that as soon as I walked through the door of my old house and into a new life without my ex, it SERIOUSLY was like something supernatural happened.  It’s like whatever was so heavy and whatever I was wearing that kept me from being me, stayed behind me as I walked through the threshold of my previous HOME.  It’s like it wasn’t allowed inside and it just fell away, turned to dust and blew away.  I think that requires an Hallelujah!  It nearly brings me to tears. OK . . . I am teary.  It just reminds me so much of how gracious Jesus was to do that, and I didn’t even ask or expect it.  These are some of the first pictures, after we moved back into our HOME, last summer!!!!!

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All last summer, I couldn’t believe how immediate the relief was and shocked at how in one instance, I felt like I was back to myself.  I did go to counseling and did some, for reals, intense work with EMDR, which is a form of therapy, in relation to my ex. But my whole point is that, when I left him, I felt like a whole person almost immediately. And I would not consider it a stretch to say that I felt like MORE of a whole person after going through an abusive relationship and leaving it, than I did, even before Dave died.  I didn’t feel delicate, I felt strong.  I was certainly wounded, but I was not wrecked. I thought my kids would be broken and angry that I was leaving, but they were relieved to the core and forgiving of me (mostly) for not leaving earlier. I did not feel condemned (by Jesus), like I expected. In fact, NEVER EVER  have I felt so loved and taken care of in the most gentle way, by Jesus, than when I left.  Sadly, I kinda miss that feeling and consider it a true gift that I had a season where my God was so incredibly personal and just . . . so gentle, when I thought I would feel debilitating guilt.  These are all things that I absolutely didn’t expect and didn’t even think to entertain, before I left my marriage.  I absolutely didn’t expect to feel whole so quickly and I absolutely did not expect to feel that Jesus was the most understanding and gentle of anybody.  I guess that says a lot about how I viewed (view) Jesus.

Now a good solid year away from moving back to my house, I still find myself questioning the character of Jesus.  It’s so easy for me to fall back into seeing Jesus as condemning.  For instance, I used to be such a good little Christian (I mean, I don’t really think I’m “good,” but “a good little Christian,” who doesn’t get drunk, loves Sunday morning church, reads my Bible consistently, adopted a child for crying out loud, and certainly didn’t get divorces!!!) Now, things are different.  I don’t really love church anymore, after this whole ordeal.  I feel cynical, I feel distrustful, I feel confused about the church.  When I hear messages of how to love well as a Christian or how to turn the other cheek or to put others before yourself, or countless other messages, I just die inside, because I know these messages are trapping and guilt inducing and confusing for those in destructive marriages.  And often times the abuser uses these very messages to reiterate how the other is deficient at loving well.  What is really quite astonishing is how quickly I return to the idea that I don’t qualify to receive his voice and his love, since I don’t really love church, and I’m questioning so much about my faith, yet I can hardly say the name Jesus, without dying in pile of tears, because I love him so much and I’m so beyond grateful for His presence, His love and His grace.

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Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

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The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

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