Why the blog?

I write as the Spirit moves me. I have prayed about what I'm supposed to do with my life a lot. A lot. Writing. Writing is what I believe God is leading me to do. Whether or not He wants me to write for anyone to read is His business. Much of my writing has been therapy for me so maybe I'm the only one who is supposed to read it. So, why the Blog? As a sounding board, a note pad, a place to keep my ideas and thoughts. A place to share and promote my books, and photography. Written prayers, a place to vent. Possibly, even a place for the unknown reader to learn about the love of Jesus.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Re-post of Atheist article

The following is a story I was asked to share:

Atheist 'mega-churches' take root across US, world
© AP Photo: Jae C. Hong
Hundreds of atheists have been drawn to Sunday Assembly gatherings as a way to meet likeminded people in a landscape dominated by faith.

AP1 day ago | By Gillian Flaccus of Associated Press (11/11/13)
LOS ANGELES — It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Hundreds packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational sermon, a reading and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.
Dozens of gatherings dubbed "atheist mega-churches" by supporters and detractors are springing up around the U.S. after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.

On Sunday, the inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles attracted more than 400 attendees, all bound by their belief in non-belief. Similar gatherings in San Diego, Nashville, New York and other U.S. cities have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.
The founders, British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, are currently on a tongue-in-cheek "40 Dates, 40 Nights" tour around the U.S. and Australia to drum up donations and help launch dozens of Sunday Assemblies. They hope to raise more than $800,000 that will help atheists launch their pop-up congregations around the world.
They don't bash believers but want to find a new way to meet likeminded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith.
Jones got the first inkling for the idea while leaving a Christmas carol concert six years ago.
"There was so much about it that I loved, but it's a shame because at the heart of it, it's something I don't believe in," Jones said. "If you think about church, there's very little that's bad. It's singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?"
The movement dovetails with new studies showing an increasing number of Americans are drifting from any religious affiliation.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last year that found 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years. Pew researchers stressed, however, that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in God but had no ties with organized religion and people who consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious."
Sunday Assembly — whose motto is Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More — taps into that universe of people who left their faith but now miss the community church provided, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.
It also plays into a feeling among some atheists that they should make themselves more visible. For example, last December, an atheist in Santa Monica created an uproar — and triggered a lawsuit — when he set up a godless display amid Christian nativity scenes that were part of a beloved, decades-old tradition.
"In the U.S., there's a little bit of a feeling that if you're not religious, you're not patriotic. I think a lot of secular people say, 'Hey, wait a minute. We are charitable, we are good people, we're good parents and we are just as good citizens as you and we're going to start a church to prove it," said Zuckerman. "It's still a minority, but there's enough of them now."
AP Photo: Jae C. Hong
British comedians and co-founders of the Sunday Assembly, Sanderson Jones, right, and Pippa Evans sing a song Sunday, Nov. 10, in Los Angeles.

That impulse, however, has raised the ire of those who have spent years pushing back against the idea that atheism itself is a religion.
"The idea that you're building an entire organization based on what you don't believe, to me, sounds like an offense against sensibility," said Michael Luciano, a self-described atheist who was raised Roman Catholic but left when he became disillusioned.
"There's something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery and ritual for atheism."
That sentiment didn't seem to detract from the excitement Sunday at the inaugural meeting in Los Angeles.
Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection and an "inspirational talk, " and some stand-up comedy by Jones, the movement's co-founder.
During the service, attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered as Jones and Evans led the group through rousing renditions of "Lean on Me," ''Here Comes the Sun" and other hits that took the place of gospel songs. Congregants dissolved into laughter at a get-to-know-you game that involved clapping and slapping the hands of the person next to them and applauded as members of the audience spoke about community service projects they had started in LA.
At the end, volunteers passed cardboard boxes for donations as attendees mingled over coffee and pastries and children played on the floor.
For atheist Elijah Senn, the morning was perfect.
"I think the image that we have put forward in a lot of ways has been a scary, mean, we want to tear down the walls, we want to do destructive things kind of image is what a lot of people have of us," he said. "I'm really excited to be able to come together and show that it's not about destruction. It's about making things and making things better."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Holiday Season is Upon Us!

The Holidays are coming, the holidays are coming!!

The Holidays are coming along with shopping season.  With that in mind, all ten of my books will be on sale.  Prices drop beginning Nov 1 on both paperback and e-books.  Once a week, one book at a time will be free on Saturday.  Go to Amazon often to get a great deal on books for your friends and family. 

Buy now at Amazon.com

Buy now at Amazon.com

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Monday, October 28, 2013

United in Love

My husband and I recently completed an 8-week marriage course.   Now, I had done classes, seminars, week-ends and the like in the past and really did not have high expectations of learning a whole lot.  Maybe, I would learn a little bit more about my husband, maybe correct a flaw or two in each of us.  Learn a lot?  Probably not.  However, I love my husband, we have a good marriage, and I wanted to strengthen it even more, and prevent repeating past mistakes.

You see, I had endured a 20-year marriage that, well, ended in divorce.  It was painful.  Not at all something I wanted to repeat.  I was determined to be proactive, Christ-centered, focused on improving us.

I didn't expect to improve me.

When I received the materials for the course, I was surprised for a lack of a better word.  There were reading assignments, scriptures, probing questions, surveys, and classroom assignments where we had to speak in front of everyone in the group.  Yikes.  

The first session was on respect.  I read the lesson and immediately broke out into tears.  My reaction was to re-hash the past.  There was no respect in my previous marriage.  If I had taken this course with my former spouse, would it had saved the marriage?  God commands wives to respect their husbands.  I had been hurt, humiliated, degraded, embarrassed.  Respect was long gone.  I knew that then and now I am reliving those feelings I had in the past.  I didn't like this.  Feelings were foreign and this class was all about sharing feelings with our mates and 20 other people, some of whom were complete strangers.  One couple knows my ex-husband.    

To be quite honest.  As a writer, I have  difficult time writing emotion.  I have "feelings" sheet that I often refer to. My characters are not touchy-feeling, and like me most have tough exteriors.  

I had to answer this question honestly and share it with the class:   Is there anything in my life hindering me from respecting my spouse or myself as God intended?  

My answer:  Past relationships, specifically my previous 20-year marriage. 

I was going to have to put that in a steel box, lock it up and focus on the right now.  Let me tell you, that was difficult.  Habits created over the past 20+ years is really difficult to break down, define, and then change.  Respect, trust, forgiveness, vulnerability.  All concepts that had been crushed.  

How do I show respect without being fake or dwelling on the past?  I find it fairly easy to show respect, however, having respect for someone who does not "deserve" it is way hard.  There is a difference between respect and just being nice.  Respect comes from the heart.  I can be nice to my spouse and have no respect for him whatsoever.  I know, I did it for a long time.  If my former spouse said or did something to embarrass me, which happened often, I smiled politely and said nothing.  On the inside, I was ashamed to be his wife.

Trust.  That's tough, too.   There was no trust in my former marriage.  I have had a difficult time revealing my past to my husband, which leads me to believe he does not trust me.  Or maybe I cannot trust him to understand.  I did not tell him everything about my past when we were dating or even after we got married.  Not, that he needed or wanted to know all the nitty, gritty, sinful details.  I, however, heaped guilt upon my own head.  I did not feel worthy of him.  I was certain if he knew "the truth" he would hate me and leave me.  I certainly did not feel deserving of such a wonderful man. 

My husband, however, assured me he was not going anywhere.  I believe him now.

I learned to be a control freak.  One is not born with the need to control every aspect of their life.  It is a learned behavior through years of hurts, disappointments, lack of leadership from those who should be the leader.  I learned I had to control the finances, raising the children, pretty much every detail of every waking moment, my emotions, who I allow to know anything at all about me.  Mostly, I learned not to show emotion in public.  I was right, and everyone was wrong unless it was done my way in my time frame because whenever "it" deviated disaster struck.  If something went wrong, "See, I told you.  You should have listened to me."  

When class time rolled around I was terrified.  We had to answer four questions from the book.  In front of class. Standing up.  With all eyes on me.  And they took notes on what I said.  I knew, I just knew I would be the only one with problems.  I learned that:

1)  We were not the only divorced couple.
2)  I was not the only one who had been severely hurt in a previous marriage.
3)  I was not alone.
4)  I was not the only one who struggled with emotional intimacy, 
5)  I was not the only one who had built great big walls around my heart so I would not get hurt, again.  
6)  I was not the only one who struggled with feelings of inadequacy, judgment by others, had difficult time speaking openly and honestly, giving over my struggles to God. 
7)  Pride, selfishness, insecurity is in everyone.  
8)  We are all afraid of getting our hearts broken. 

We talked about living dependent, independent, and interdependent lives.  Babies are dependent on adults. We grow and become independent as a single person. In a marriage, however, each spouse must be interdependent.  A marriage will only work if both parties are fully committed to being interdependent.  Fully committed.  Both parties.  To each other and God.  I and others realized that commitment is vital.  I mean, come on, I was so committed to a dying marriage that I held on for 20 years!  

Prayer was a big focus of this class as well.  Prayer with my husband is something we have done off and on.  Nothing too deep or specific.  Until now.  Through the classes our prayers have deepened in meaning, intimacy with each other and God, have become so much more specific and honest.  We are beginning to show each other our hearts through our prayers.  I can hear and know what he prays for in private and he can do the same.  It connects us.  

In my previous marriage, I don't think we ever prayed together.  Not privately, just the two of us.  Dinnertime prayers often seemed staged or rehearsed, grandiose, but not intimate or personal.   Prayer is preventative maintenance.  Prayer brings us back to what is real and important.  Prayer puts God first and self last.  It brings you into a closeness only God can give.  

Through this class I am learning that true Biblical, Godly, spiritual love IS possible.  God took woman out of man and through the act of a wedding God re-joins us spiritually to be one.  Godly love in a marriage is not self-seeking and does not depend upon the other person.  How I love him does not depend on how he loves me.  For a marriage to be successful, in God's eyes, this must be demonstrated by both parties.  It IS possible.  

Most of all, I think I learned forgiveness.  So much in life and love is hinged on forgiveness.  No one is perfect.  No one. Not me, not my husband, not you either.  Jesus Christ came to this earth to rectify that and to perfect us in his crucifixion.  

Acts 2:38:  "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Acts 10:43:  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Acts 13:38:  "Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you."

Through repentance and baptism, God forgave and remembers our sins no more. I believe in forgiving and forgetting as well.  However, God gave us a memory.  Sometimes it is necessary to forgive but reconciliation is not possible, healthy, or even safe in some instances.  I also learned that forgiving oneself is the hardest of them all.  I'm getting there.  I can stand tall and say, "Yes, I had premarital sex in my youth- and my husband knows it. Yes, there is sin in my life.  Yes, I suffered through and survived divorce.  Yes, I did all that I could.  Yes, I prayed about my marriage.  Yes, God is in control. Yes I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ without whom I am spiritually dead."

You cannot change your spouse, you can only change you.  In my marriage, there is no me without you, Mark.  We are United in Love.  

(United, Together in marriage, Together through life.  From Family Dynamics Institute.  FamilyDynamics.net)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Are your chains broken?

This morning, I was minding my own business, doing my early morning running and doing what I always do when I run - praying.  The night before, my husband and I had been talking about forgiveness.  God has forgiven us (if we believe and we have asked him, believing, to do so).  When he forgives, he then forgets.  It is so difficult for me to forget my own sins.  I'm trying, but I came to the conclusion this morning that Satan really does not want me to forget. He wants me to continually tell myself, "You aren't good enough.  Nobody really likes you or even loves you, because you're no good, not good enough."

Well, God has a way of answering prayers pretty quick sometimes because I was praying for Satan to be banished from my life and from the lives of everyone I come into contact with.

Then, this song comes on, through my headphones, while I'm running and in mid prayer:

"Break Every Chain"
There is power in the name of Jesus [3x]
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

There is power in the name of Jesus [3x]
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

Theres an army rising up. [3x]
To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

Theres an army rising up. [3x]
To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain. [2x]

I hear the chains falling.

There is power in the name of Jesus
to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.

From the lyrics, you might not get what I heard, so here is a video:  Break every chain.  This is a live performance, a bit long. Watch just the first five minutes if you want.  Here's a shorter version, Break Every Chain

Now, normally I don't listen to Southern Gospel music even though I grew up in a Southern Baptist church.  I'm a Skillet girl.  Today, however, I was not in a position to skip the song.  Maybe it was God keeping me from it.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's it.  Half way through the song, I was in tears. I'm mean a good 'ol ugly cry.  For me, in that moment, I needed to hear that song.  I had been listening to Christian music for an hour and a half, but this song spiritually brought me to my knees. 

Listen to the song.  Go back and read the words.  Do you know what they mean?  Satan thought he had me in chains with my guilt and shame and unable to forgive myself of past sins.  He did his best to convince me of this.  God used this song to remind me that those chains had been broken long ago!!  Can I hear an AMEN!!   Mine are broken, never to bind me again.  Are yours?  

Thank you Lord Jesus for sending me this song.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Korean adventure: From mountains to baptisms, beginning to end.

How do you sum up a 10-day adventure in one blog post?  I don't know either, however, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will begin there. (actually, this is post #5 so you might want to back up a few posts and start way back at the beginning)

 All great adventures have a beginning.  Mine began with a picture of a mountain.  Mt. Daedunsan, to be exact.  It was one of my son's first outings after being sent to the Air Force base in Osan, South Korea.  I thought to myself, "If I ever go to Korea, I want to climb that mountain."  Well here I stand at the path, ready to take my first step.

The trek was hard, really hard.

But the view made it well worth it.
See that tiny little white spike at the top?  That is the goal for today.

My husband Mark on the suspension bridge.

Me in the middle of the suspension bridge.

These stairs go straight up!!  And, the monument is not where it seems to be.  

At the top of Mt. Daedunsan!
Looking down.  Can't we stay??

A close up view of our path.  It's like this the whole way up and down.
We are rewarded with a great lunch. Dennis, our guide, did the ordering.  Bless you, Dennis!!!

 Potato pancakes.Ginsing chicken.

Side dishes.
If you are ever in South Korea, get yourself a guide/translator and go to Mt. Daedunsan.  It is a difficult but amazing hike.  The weather the day we went was perfect, 80 degrees with a cool breeze, early September.  The lunch at the base was the best meal we had the entire trip.  Take your camera, good sturdy hiking shoes, and plenty of water.

That night, after the amazing (have I used that word too much?) trip to the mountain, we moved hotels from Suwon to Seongnam.   We took Thursday "off" and made these discoveries:  
Art was everywhere.  This one is really funny!

 This stream is flanked by
a bike/run/walk path on either side.  It travels 20+ miles from here to Seoul.  On the morning my husband and I ran, at 6 a.m., there were several dozens of people using the path.  The vast majority were over 60 years of age by my estimation!!

The night lights up with neon.

Cars park and drive on the sidewalk.
Mopeds drive anywhere they please, completely ignoring traffic lights, lanes, laws, etc. 
Lotte Mart is similar to Wal-Mart.  They had Oreos!!

My overall impression of South Korea is one of expect the unexpected.  I expected a third-world country.  I found it to be extremely high-tech yet ancient.  The Japanese completely destroyed the land during the war.  The palaces and fortresses I visited looked ancient, yet were only approximately 200 years old. 

The city is huge!  High-rise buildings, apartment buildings are everywhere, yet surrounded by majestic mountains.  Old sits right next to new.
Entrance to Hawaseong Fortress next to Eco mobility lab.

The outer wall of the fortress.  Across the street, homes, condos, shops, and schools.

The older people are very active.  We saw them exercising, walking, traveling by subway wearing hiking gear. 
Smoking is rampant.  
The older women cover themselves head to toe- hat, gloves, and mask included.  (I saw a man wearing a medical mask with a cigarette hanging out the side!)
Young women like short shorts and short skirts.
The people are very polite.  The subway is clean, very clean!  I dropped a piece of trash by accident once and a woman got my attention and pointed it out to me.  Yes, I picked it up and threw it in the trash can. 
It is fairly easy to get around.  Signs are often in English and people will stop to assist you if you look even vaguely lost.

I wanted to take a picture of the scenes in the subway, but didn't want to be arrested for stalking.  Everyone, and I mean 99.5% of the people, had smart phones, old and young alike. Many times we witnessed this scene:  The door to the subway car opens, a person is looking down at their smart phone, usually with headphones plugged in.  He/she walks in, stands in the middle of the car, continues to look at their phone, then several stops later without so much as looking up walks out of the subway car! Many times I looked up and down the car to count the people on their smart phones and I loved to watch the people next to me text in Korean.  Fascinating. 

Food was difficult when we were not with my husband's colleagues.  It was so foreign we did not know what to ask for, even with picture menus.  My food allergies made it more difficult.  Having a translator app was invaluable! 
Shopping malls were fun just to stand and watch people.  Sales personnel stood at every section, every kiosk, every register waiting to assist you.  Strollers were uncommon.  Most mothers, and fathers, wore back or front carriers for their babies. 
Men carry "purses".
TV commercials are hilarious.  The Koreans probably think the same about ours.
The women are very into plastic surgery.
Kias and Hundais are the primary brand of car.  I'm guessing 90-95%. 
I never felt unsafe, even when wandering around on my own. 
Subway stations have "squat" toilets.  Eww.

Transderm scop patch for air travel is a must and a life saver.
13 hours in an airplane is too long!!!   This is the only thing I disliked about the trip.  Security was not a problem; customs, flight changes, going through immigration.  It was all an adventure I will never forget.

Baptisms at Jubilee

Me and Kristen, the homeless ministry leader.

On our last Sunday in Korea, we went to church at Jubilee, in the Gangnam district.  Kristen met us at the subway and we discussed ministry over Asian infused tacos.  Ministering the homeless is a challenge, but that is a story for another blog.

Will I do it again?  Maybe.  If that's where God wants me to go. I am every grateful to my husband for inviting me and putting up with my "getting into mischief".   I learned a lot about myself.  A lot of my fears are mind over matter.  Crowds, heights, airplanes.  Maybe it's because we had absolutely the most perfect conditions the entire trip, no problems, no issues, no one got sick or hurt.  This trip was a real boost to my confidence.  I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me!! (Philippians 4:13) 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I interrupt this Korean Adventure to ask a question....

What is going on here???

I stumbled across a protest this evening at the AK plaza south of Seoul, South Korea.  There were hundreds of women wearing white shirts carrying signs and chanting.  A woman spoke, followed by the man in the picture.  Police escorted them into the plaza outdoor courtyard then left.  It was very peaceful.  No news reporters anywhere.  I have no idea what it was all about and would really like to know.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Korean Adventure #4, Walk-abouts.

My husband had to work, so I toured Suwon on my own.   A lot of the signs are in English which helped, some.   I was told if I took a business card for the hotel all I needed to do was hail a cab and show him the card.  The driver would know what to do.  With that in mind, I packed my backpack with water, my camera, a general map, and a vague idea of where I wanted to go.  My son told me I should go towards the Suwon train station and I wanted to go see the Olympic park.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  Off I went into the wild blue yonder.   I took photos with my phone to give me some idea of where I was.
McDonalds delivery mopeds

Suwon Stn, a destination for today
I had lots of time.  My curiosity took me in circles.  Whenever I saw something interesting down a street, I turned.  Eventually I would see a sign pointing me back in the direction I was supposed to go and I would follow it for a while.   I realized I had left my battery to my camera in the hotel so this day's pictures were all taken from my phone.  Oh well, it worked well enough.  I did find the Suwan station and Olympic park (which was 3 blocks from the hotel).   The cab ride home was a lifesaver.  No clue how to get back.

Park with an amphitheater

Pedestrian overpass with elevator.

From the top of the overpass.

Olympic park.

Monday night we had dinner at a nice restaurant, Japanese style.   I wore a dress.  Good thing I brought a sweater.  The food was very different, but this being an adventure, I tried it all.  Not too bad.

Feeling pretty good after a successful first day, I decided to go to Hwaseong Fortress.  The map provided by the hotel indicated that it was only about a twenty minute walk.  Turn right out the door, two blocks, make a left,  half a mile and there it is.   Well, the map was missing about a dozen or so streets.  Still, undaunted and not in a hurry I zigged, zagged, explored, and eventually found it.  Not at all what I expected, yet had a great time and met an older gentleman who spoke very good English. 
First building of the fortress.  The road goes around it, both sides.

Market place at the entrance to the fortress.

A woman selling her crops on the street.

Down the alleyway.

Looking across the street to the main entrance.
Me, almost to the top of the fortress.

This 'thing' is people powered.  They are sitting on bikes.
One of the buildings.  Very intricate woodwork.

Golden statue up the hill.  I hiked above and beyond.

The back wall.  Apartments right across the street.
I remembered my battery this trip and took about 200 pictures.  What struck me most was the juxtaposition of old and new, like the picture above.  The building in the background was someone's house.  The wall, that of the fortress.  The gentleman I met told me the Japanese burned down the original fortress and this is a replica, only about 200 years old.  It must have been field trip day because children were everywhere  
Catching dragon flies.

Children on a field trip.

Human sculpture.

My trolley companions.

This is at the very top, back of the wall.  You can see for miles.
Yes, after this long day I took a cab back to the hotel.  Had a great time wandering around, watching people, trying to talk to the children, but most of all, enjoying God's creations.
Loved the details.

Colleen Wait Edits

Colleen Wait Edits

About Me

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This YouTube channel was created to add video to my blog.  Read it here:  www.colleenwaitwrites.blogspot.com.  I write about my life, my books, my family, my cats and kids, and of course travel.