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Archive for February, 2011

Your Turn #7

What fears are you facing in your own life right now? How are you stuck, or how is God helping you conquer them?

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Today it is my privilege to announce Patrick Koschak as this month’s guest writer! Known fondly as Mr. K to the students he teaches (as well as to myself) I am excited to present to you a great teacher, a great writer, and a great person. Check out more of his writing at www.dirtheadtheology.blogspot.com. Don’t be too shy to leave a few comments for Patrick and make him welcome! Without further ado, enjoy.

Blogs Are Funny

by Patrick Koschak

Blogs are funny, aren’t they?

 Blogs allow their authors a kind of “public anonymity” don’t they?  The author can use their real name, or not.  They can write things that are true, or not.  They allow a person the opportunity to post things that might be musings…  or profane…  or meaningful… or whatever.  They allow a person the chance to re-create themselves into someone thoughtful or clever or noble or brave.  Blogs can be read by close friends, complete strangers, or both.   

 However, what happens when a blog is not just a blog?  What if it is yours?  What happens when you aren’t pretending?  What happens when it is so personal… so confessional…  that it is scary to even type it?  These blogs call for an honesty and vulnerability that just doesn’t happen much.  It is a place few dare to tread, like some kind of electronic, Indian burial ground. 

 While it does have its’ off-color moments, I think that this hallowed ground is where the Fear List resides.  This is why it is such an honor, and a challenge, for me to share something in this place.  It beckons me to share in this boldness of spirit and open myself in ways that might well be therapeutic, and most likely, uncomfortable.  It is unnerving, and real. 

 So what am I afraid of? 

 At risk of being too bold, or too simple, I fear being alone.  I need to interact with other people.  I need the connection.  I feel as though the walls are closing in on me if I have too much time to myself.  I try to read… to pray…  to take my mind off things…  but in the end, I seek out people. 

 The irony, as you might have guessed, is that simply being around people isn’t enough.  It might be the counterfeit that I often settle for, but it isn’t genuine.  I have to be “seen.”  I have to be known.  I have to be accepted for who I am.  I fear alienation, not necessarily solitude. 

 Here is where the snare draws tighter, though, because this requires openness.  This kind of acceptance can only be found if I am willing to grant the vulnerability it requires.  Tragically, I hold the keys to open these emotional manacles.  I know this.  I get it.

 But then, alienation has a scary twin brother, don’t you know?  This would be rejection.  While I fear to be truly alone, I fear being rejected just as much.  If I was to show people the “real” me…  the not-so-nice parts of me… the warts…  the worries…  the sins… the dark, twisted thoughts that torment me… would I be rejected?  Would I be treated like a freak?  Would I then be proven to be alone; not just in theory, but in reality? 

 To paraphrase Lincoln, “Isn’t it better to suspect that you are alone, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?”

 Is there a way out of this cycle?

 Sigh. 

 I suspect that there is…  but I have not yet walked this path.  I know that I am supposed to offer you some kind of uplifting ending…  closure… the victorious resolution… but I’m not there yet.  I don’t have it.  At least, not really. 

 I can offer you the Theological answer to the problem (I was a Theology major, after all).  I know that there are loved ones who offer their absolute acceptance if I will just give myself leave to speak it.  I know that, ultimately, it is in my hands.  It is my choice.  I get that.  It doesn’t help a whole lot, but I do get it.

 So, this is me.  This is where I am.  This is where my post will end.  I risk violating the spirit of this place if I were to pretend that I have this one whipped.  Sometimes, fear gets the better of us.  Sometimes, blogs don’t come with happy endings.

 Sometimes, blogs are funny, aren’t they?

_ _ _ _

 Patrick Koschak, age 33, has been married to his high school sweetheart, Rachael, for 14 years now, and they share three children, ages 11, 9, and 7.  Patrick was born in Northern Minnesota, but has called Western Colorado his home for more than 20 years.

 Patrick attended college for Biblical studies and Greek.  Along the way, he has enjoyed a variety of jobs, from restaurants to retail to the oilfields.  While he enjoys many pursuits, teaching and writing are the deepest passions of his heart.  Patrick currently works as a sales rep selling industrial supplies, and as a part-time teacher. 

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Pteromerhanophobia: People who have this phobia are afraid of flying.

Okay, for fairness’ sake I’m gonna assume this means the fear of flying in an airplane. If you’re afraid of taking off all of a sudden like Peter Pan-then, um, I hate to tell you, but you got more problems than you realize.

Secondly, can I just point out how cruel this is? Who comes up with the names for these phobias?  It doesn’t even sound like the fear it’s trying to describe! Take the fear of spiders, for example. Arachnophobia. Now that makes sense! The scientific name for a spider is an arachnid, so naturally it would be arachnophobia.

Can you just imagine trying to explain your condition to someone if you have the fear of flying? “Yeah, I have pter-ptero, pteradactyl-oh, forget it. I hate flying, is that cool with you?!”

You know what else is a cruel name for a phobia?

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia:

The fear of long words.

No, I am not kidding.

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 Last week I was in a fight for my future. Let me show you what I mean.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be one thing: an author. Though sometimes it’s faded from view like the sun behind the clouds, never has it shone brighter than in November, 2009, when I joined Jerry B. Jenkin’s Christian Writers Guild. Never have I known so clearly what God wanted me to do. He had called me to be a writer, and nothing could stop me from being one. I’d work as hard as I could, but I never doubted God would get me where he needed me to go. I trusted His promise to bless me as expectantly as a baby bird opens its mouth wide, eagerly awaiting the squirmy gift he knows his mother will bring him.

Little did I know then how hard I was going to have to fight to keep that dream alive. This particular battle began in front of a blank computer screen, a week from the Writing for the Soul conference I was going to attend. No matter how hard I tried, nothing was getting written. I found three magazine editors who were going to be at the conference I thought I could write something for, but I couldn’t escape my feeling of defeat as soon as I hit the “On” button on my laptop.

I did finally get some things written… the night before. I only got an hour and a half of sleep before it was time to get ready. Everything that could go wrong, did. Already exhausted, I got carsick on the way over, realized at the last second I needed to change my resume, and found out at the hotel I’d forgotten two of my outfits. I was in a five-star hotel for four days, so I wondered how appropriate it would be to re-wear two of my outfits. I already felt overwhelmed, but as I entered the biggest, fanciest hotel I’ve ever seen in my life, I realized I didn’t know what overwhelmed meant. How was I ever going to find my way around in such a place?

My mom and nana said goodbye to me on the 20th floor-until then, I never knew anything beyond a third floor existed-and I found myself utterly alone. Even the roommate I was supposed to meet that day had left me a note saying she’d be back in a few hours. Looking out the window at cold, towering skyscrapers hiding my view of the mountains, I was overcome. I went into the bathroom in case my roommate got back early, sat on the tub, and cried.

The actual view from my room

What was I thinking, Lord? I prayed though my tears. Who was I to think a small town girl like me could make it in such a big place as this? I don’t belong here.

Some time that night the thought occurred to me: God must have something really important for me here if the devil is fighting so hard against me to have it. I even found myself thanking God for my bad day! I’m the kind of person who likes everything to go perfectly and smoothly, the first time. So I surprised even myself when I prayed, I’m not sure why, God, but thank you for not letting everything go perfectly this time.

That battle appeared to have been won, but it was only just beginning.

Fast forward to the third day of the conference, at a Starbucks with some new friends. Each took their turn explaining their book ideas, talking about their genres and what audience they were trying to reach. I smiled and nodded and encouraged, but I prayed they didn’t ask me. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like a writer. These ladies had great ideas. They knew what they were writing, and who they were writing for.

They’d been prepared for this conference. I hadn’t. They knew what genre they wanted to write-I didn’t. I felt like a fraud in the middle of them- a counterfeit in the midst of real writers.

Once again I found myself asking, What am I doing here, God? Who am I to think I can be a writer? Look at these girls, Lord… they’ve got it covered. Who am I to think I could have anything to say? I don’t belong here.

The group of writers. From L to R: Donna, me, Jessica, Jeannie, and Michelle

Never tell God you don’t belong in a place where He’s put you! In a way I can’t describe, God reminded me I did belong. He reminded me of Moses, a man who’d argued with God over putting him in a place he didn’t think he belonged-pharaoh’s palace. Guess who ended up there anyway? Stumbling, stuttering, fearful Moses. God reminded me He could use me, even with all my faults. In a voice more tender than the sweetest of love songs, He reminded me how much He loved me, even with all my faults. At that moment, I could have easily written an entire book on God’s goodness.

The fight for my future is not over. The fight over your future may have just begun. Fear will never completely disappear. But as for me?

I’m gonna keep fighting.

And I’m gonna keep writing.

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First off, I’d like to apologize for not having a new post ready Tuesday or Wednesday as promised. It’s important for me to be a woman of my word, so I humbly ask your forgiveness. I hope to show improvement in the future.

But now for this week’s phobia!

Ephebiphobia: This is the fear of teenagers.

I finally found a phobia for you, parents! But are teenagers really that bad? Sure, they can burn the house down, crash the car, have premarital sex, get their bully buttons pierced, fail a few tests, or get into drugs-but what’s all that compared to the terrible two’s?

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Many of our fears are tissue-paper thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.     -Brendan Francis

Ahh. I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear a good quote like that today. What a  great reminder for something we so easily forget. Often our fears appear as if they are the tallest, most insurmountable mountain in front of us, when in reality they are just cobwebs; a single swipe would clear them all away. But either we think the mountain too high and never try to climb it, or we worry about rocks cascading down onto our heads. But really, I have often found this quote to be true! As soon as I have gathered enough courage to take that first step, I have found out my fears weren’t at all as scary and big as I’d imagined them to be.

I wonder if perhaps a certain shepherd boy named David once quivered in fear. I wonder if when he faced his mighty giant, a tremor went through his limbs, and a smelly mixture of leather and sweat met his nose when he lifted his sling to fire. Maybe for a moment his eyes were filled with the reflection of the giant in front of him, and all he could hear was his heart pounding in his ears. But closing his eyes, he lets the stone fly, and… a new sound! The sound of a mighty giant crashing to the earth, and a great cry of celebration all around him. The young David has triumphed in the name of his God over the giant who’s  shamelessly been pulling them around- like a girl dragging a rag doll behind her. But first, David had to pull back.

Whether you take a single courageous step, swipe away a cobweb, or simply pull back, I hope you’ll make your move this week. If you do, the shout of victory you hear echoing throughout the ancient pages of God’s Word might just be coming from your own voice. Sometimes, the smallest move can make the biggest difference.

P.S. I will be gone at a writer’s conference for a few days, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to post anything new until either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, so check back then. Until then, keep fightin’ those fears! I pray you’ll have an awesome, fun, victory-filled week. Love you all!

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Obesophobia: Obesophobia is the fear of gaining weight.

They actually have a phobia for this? By this definition, every woman in America is suffering from an undiagnosed psychological disorder! Holy Taco Bell.

(As a sidenote, never Google “obese people” images. Ever.)

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