Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Summer with Grandma

There is no partiality with God. Romans 2:11

“Will Southern Baptists go to Hell?”

I could not believe my ears. Delbert’s question was outrageous. After all a Baptist is a Baptist, right? I laughed inside, “Don’t they know I’m Beulah Jane Lark’s Southern Baptist granddaughter?” As my insides bounced around like waves on the ocean, my outside displayed strong righteous indignation. Thank goodness the Sunday School teacher hem hawed around and never said one way or the other. Still, the question shook me up. Me, go to Hell? I was only visiting for the summer.

Between the ages of eleven and fourteen, most of my summers were filled with two-week long visits to grandma and grandpa Larks house. I was young enough not to rebel against mother and old enough not to cause undue hardship for my grandma, except for the time I threw up on the other side of “grandpa’s” bed. Hey, I was sick. How in the world could I not throw up? In any case, I had to clean up my own vomit.

My older brother’s escape from these summer retreats made me seethe. He was four years older and got away with things that I, as a girl, could not. Like the time he drug me home from the school dance because he didn’t like who I was dancing with. What nerve! And, once he drove the family’s new Chevy sedan around the town square on two wheels. In a town of 600 it’s hard to keep something like that a secret. Did he get shipped to grandmas? Nooooo. Nothing happened to him. Oh, I think he had to work on the combine during harvest time a few extra hours but everybody did that.

Now don’t get me wrong. I loved my grandma and grandpa, but it was lonely snapping and shelling green peas and beans, and watching grandma watch “As the World Turns” (this is when soap operas were shown “live” on TV and for only 15 minutes per episode). Grandma’s ten inch black and white TV made the actors look like negative pictures. Nevertheless, grandma talked to them as if they were visiting while we snapped peas. With a sly smile on her lips grandma would revel on each word. “Uh oh, I knew she would do that.” Now how could my grandma know what a TV actor was going to do?

Summers with grandma were bitter sweet. Bitter because as a child I resisted enjoying her and I resented my mother for sending me there. I felt nothing in common because my grandma was just too old to relate to me. As an adult I find myself becoming more and more like grandma. I will be posting a series of short stories about summer at grandmas as I get to know her after the fact.

You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord. Leviticus 20: 32

Write it down,

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Thin Place Discovered

Following is my submission for Thin Places kindle contest.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matthew 7:13

One summer I attended a Billy Graham crusade at the Los Angeles Coliseum. I went alone and sat in the nose bleed row so my cigarette smoke would not be noticed. The top row was my fig leaf because I wanted to hide from God too. Besides if God was really there He would reach me no matter how high I sat. I defied Reverend Graham to touch me with Truth. The invitation was given and I tried to force myself to feel something. I watched as hundreds of people moved toward the stage and remember thinking if I, a Christian, didn’t feel anything, then how could my salvation be real? I turned aside and entered the wide gate to destruction.

That one act sent my life on a downward spiral of alcohol co-dependency, divorce, abortion, anxiety and worry. I was an empty clay pot, severely cracked. Since that time I have found my way back to God and His mercy. Through His love and grace He is using my botched attempts at doing it my way as teaching tools on how not to live. Also, reliving my past helps me discover a new thin place where His “living water” never fails.

“And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places,…and you will be like a watered garden…a spring of water whose waters do not fail” Isaiah 58:11a. 


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thin Places - Book Review

Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted and of the millions of sexual abuse and rape victims, 15 percent are under the age of 12, according to a 2007 study by the U.S. Department of Justice. Critically acclaimed author Mary DeMuth is among the millions of adults who are victims of childhood rape and are living with the emotional scars of the haunting abuse.

DeMuth bravely shares her painful story in her new memoir, Thin Places. Repeatedly raped by two neighborhood boys at a young age, DeMuth details her traumatic and disturbing childhood in the memoir. Raised in a broken home, she lost her biological father when she was ten and was stripped of her innocence growing up in an unstable environment where drugs were commonplace. Read the rest of the Media Release here.

Author and speaker Mary DeMuth helps people turn their trials to triumph. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God; Building the Christian Family You Never Had; Watching the Tree Limbs; Wishing on Dandelions; Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture and the first two books in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy: Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn.

Thin Places a memoir - Book Review (by Carma Dutra)

An intro to an old Andy Griffith show, when Opie Taylor throws a rock “Frisbee style” on the lake, is reminiscent of a simple childhood with fond memories. Mary DeMuth’s memoir “Thin Places” is also reminiscent but instead of a happy and simple childhood, it is one of pain, insecurities and betrayal. Mary’s wounds are deep and she writes about redemption – her redemption. By sharing her deepest personal journey, she gives us all hope, encouragement and affirmation that Jesus saves.

An additional delight in this moving memoir is Mary’s poignant poetry written in breathtaking, healing and bar-none honesty. “Lord, please be patient/Please take time/To understand this life of mine/I’ve wanted to obey You/I really have tried/To understand Your love inside/I thank You for listening/I thank You for life/I hope You understand as I take this knife/Too many rules/Too many nights/….”

Mary faced trials of self absorption, selfishness and a litany of other sinful offenses that cried out for forgiveness. Jesus tells her that her weakness is a “platform for forgiveness.” Mary teaches us through her pain that learning to accept our flaws is the only way to understand God loves us just the way we are and it is God’s love that sustained her all these years ( and continues to do so) giving her strength and courage to share a piece of herself with us.

Throughout her experiences of intense healing, her words are a call to all who need to experience God’s presence in their life. After you read this beautiful memoir you just might find your own “thin place” to meet Him in.

Review copy of this book provided by Zondervan publisher.

A complete list of Tour Stops for Thin Places can be viewed when you click on the following link. I hope you can take some time to visit a few Thin Place Blog Tour begins here

I know you will enjoy Thin Places by Mary DeMuth as much as I did.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Thin Places - Writing Memoirs - Mary DeMuth

Writing Memoirs
By Mary DeMuth

I wrote Thin Places only after I gave myself permission to say it all. More on that later.

First, one clarification about memoir: no memoir can be 100% accurate. Every memoirist must recall, to the best of his/her ability what happened in the past. Only God knows what truly happened! And to protect the people listed in a memoir, I’ve changed names and distinguishing characteristics. That’s allowable in a memoir, and is often expected.

To make a memoir work, it must be:

1. From someone famous.
2. Or a story so strong and surprising, the story carries the book.

I’m of the latter category since I am by no means famous. But my story is raw and redemptive. And a bit out there. Find out more about Thin Places here.

The most important thing for a memoir is that it be memorable and beautifully written. If you don’t have a platform, near perfect writing is a must backed up by an intriguing/surprising story. Think of a memoir as a novel with rising action, climax and denouement. Consider writing it as you would a novel, with characters, dialogue and a plot (even if the plot is your life!)

A great example of a memoir that tells an amazing story is Parting the Waters by Jeanne Damoff.

But even though the story is beautifully written, Jeanne shopped the story to every publishing house far and wide through her agent. Though it was a great story, she faced a lot of rejection.

Eventually, after much prayer and seeking wisdom, she decided to self-publish the book through WinePress. It’s got a wonderful cover and is selling well.

Another amazing memoir is Startling Beauty by wife Heather Gemmen. Wow. It’s one of the most beautifully written, achingly painful memoirs I’ve read.

It’s not easy to write a memoir. I fear that some people are so afraid to do it because the people involved aren’t yet dead. So they work on a fictionalized version. Is that really honest? What is the purpose of telling your true story if you make it fiction? Of course, you can take elements of your struggle and life and place that in fiction, but I’ve found that tacked on messages seldom make a book.

My best advice: obey God. Write what He tells you to write. If you’re too afraid to write a memoir, then don’t do it. Prayerfully consider whether your need to get it all out is, instead, a form of catharsis that no reader really needs to see. And if you add some of your story to the memoir, consider that story is the king. The story must support what you write about.

Stay tuned for Carma's review of Thin Places a memoir,

Receive some Peace of Mind today. Watch Thin Places trailer here.