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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sean Taylor...Looking the Other Way and The Breath of Life

National news. Front page headlines. Sean Taylor, Redskins All-Pro Safety, Gunned Down in his Florida Home. Dead at the age of 24.

I'm a HUGE Washington Redskins fan. I bleed maroon and gold. But even so, I'm not sure why Sean Taylor's death has hit me so hard. I didn't know Sean. I've been to Redskins Park for training camp many times, but I've never shook hands with the man.

Unlike the thrilled young man in the picture above, I've never had Sean Taylor sign a ball for me or my kids. And yet, when I flipped on the TV this morning to catch the weather, saw the graphic pronouncing Sean Taylor dead, I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. All day long I've felt a thick mantle of melancholy on my shoulders. And all day long I've been trying to figure out why I feel this way. Maybe it's the fact that last night there were a few small signs that Sean Taylor might recover…only to have that hope stolen away. Maybe it's the fact that someone close to my brother lost an 18 month old boy in a tragic drowning accident...and I just feel the sense of general loss. Maybe.

I've been thinking about it all day. I'm still not sure, but here's why I think this event has hit me like a hammer. Sean Taylor's death was senseless, unnecessary, sudden, and tragic. He was murdered in the prime of his life. I noticed. The news networks noticed. America noticed. But how many kids die in America every day…with very few people noticing? How many teenagers are murdered over gang turf, casual glances at girlfriends, trendy jackets, or tennis shoes? How many kids are bullied into self hatred and take their own lives? How many kids drink or drug themselves into a stupor and kill themselves in a car accident? How many of these headlines and news reports do we read and shrug off as "just another statistic?"

And I many of these lives were lost because someone or many someones looked the other way when they could have lent a helping hand. Don't get me wrong. I'm not claiming that I could step in, clean up gang violence, racism, drug abuse, bullying, and all the other ills of the world. But I can do something for someone. I have a sphere of influence. And so do you. Maybe once a week, maybe once in a year, maybe every day we find ourselves in a position where we could step up and help someone OR not. Many times these situations we can ignore and no one will know any differently...just us and God. In some instances other people would totally understand or even applaud us for looking the other way rather than "getting involved." How many of these situations come down to a decision between "The Need" and "Our Want?" Personal convenience versus helping someone who may not ask again. I pray that I won't look the other way anymore. I pray that you won't look the other way anymore.

I hear Joe Gibbs (The Redskin's Head Coach) talk on LIVE television about cherishing life. Gibbs said Sean Taylor had become a Christian that he "has a great relationship with the Lord" and now has gone home. Gibbs explained that this loss will not be easy to handle--that it strikes each of us with how fleeting life is. But Gibbs said he will comfort himself with knowing that Sean Taylor is in heaven where it will take us a 1000 years just to get over the sheer impact of being in heaven.
Amen to that, Joe Gibbs. None of us are guaranteed even one more second of life. Not one. The moment we took our first breaths, we were already dying. Who was it who said "The statistics on death are staggering. 100% of people die."

Life is a vapor...a breath. We've got to come to grips with the facts:

1. The world is too beautiful and complex to be an accident, so someone had to make it.

2. This someone made the world just right to support human allow humans to flourish, so this Creator someone had to love mankind.

3. This loving creator must have loved people enough to give us choice because somewhere along the line evil entered the world where it continues to this day.

4. This loving Creator cannot love He must do something about it and yet make a way for people to still love Him back. This loving Creator must have a plan.

5. If He has a plan, he should communicate it to people. He has. No other book can explain life like the Bible. No other book offers hope like the Bible. No other book is verified by prophecy, history, archeology, astronomy, and human experience like the Bible.

6. The plan was made flesh and God's son Jesus took the penalty of the world's collective evil on his back. He nailed it to the cross, died, and rose.

7. He defeated death once and for all so that we could go to heaven one day...the day that my heart--your heart--beats its last.

I still have a heavy heart, and I can only imagine what Sean Taylor's family must be going through. But, this life is not all. And this life is not the end. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Monday, November 26, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour for Stephen Lawhead's Scarlet, Day One

Today is Day One of the CSFF Blog Tour for Mr. Stephen Lawhead newest book:
Most readers of fantasy know of Mr. Lawhead's groundbreaking work with the Pendragon Cycle and the Song of Albion Books. He blends amazing historicity with clever fantasy and the result is nothing short of magnificent. I've not read Hood or Scarlet, but the reviews are very strong. If you'd like to read a sample, check out the sneak preview chapters at:
Mr. Lawhead's Cooler-Than-Cool Website

If you're looking for something cool to read this Christmas season, give Stephen Lawhead's King Raven Trilogy, Book 1: Hood, Book 2: Scarlet, today!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Joys of Editing...

Two Points in this post:

1. The first is an excuse for not posting for a week or so. My edits have just come back for Isle of Fire. So far there aren't any major issues…so far. My editor rocks, and she claims that most of what I need to fix are polishing types of things. Hmmm...we'll see if that holds true. lol Either way, I need to put nose to the grindstone on this, so I'll be sparse in my posts and comments for a time.

2. About Editing. I talk to students quite often, and one message I want to get across to them is "Don't hate your editor." Your editor is like a surgeon--their cuts are made to heal, to cure, to improve.

Still the edits hurt. It feels like my ideas aren't good enough. I've discovered that each set of edits is a bit of a puzzle to be solved.

Some edits are "DUH!" things where I have one character with blond hair in chapter 3 and red hair in chapter 18. OOPS. Others are logic things: the moon can't be full because it was full so many days ago. Others are grammar things. All of those are relatively easy to fix.

But what do you do when the editor wants you to change something big? What do you do then? How do you decide when to go to war on something? For me, it comes down to the following grid:

__Is the suggestion something that will fundamentally change the story?
__Is the change an improvement to the story?
__Does the scene/idea work for its intended audience? (helps to test it with readers)
__Does the editor have a valid reason for the change?
__Is there a compromise--something that keeps what I want while granting what the editor wants?
__Am I resistant to the change simply because of ego, or do I really have a good reason for NOT making the change?

How do you deal with edits? Are there other questions that come up when crossing pens with an editor?