Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sin, Grace, and the False Dilemma

The other day, the Christian band "Among the Thirsty" had a quote posted on their Facebook timeline. No one was credited, so I'm assuming it was one of their musicians, but I could be wrong.  Anyway, I liked this quote because it perfectly summarized a thought I've been having lately.

This is what was posted:

"The depravity of man and God's unconditional love for man are merely opposing truths without the bridge that Christ creates."

Lately, it seems I've been bombarded with this idea that EITHER we are dirty, worthless, weak sinners, OR we are redeemed, beautiful, beloved children of God.  I've been gently chided by well-meaning people for suggesting that I'm weak or worthless. I've heard people talking about this either-or scenario, seen people post about it on social media. And honestly, I have wanted to speak up about it for awhile.

Now, I get where some people are coming from (to a point). There are those that can't believe God would love them or that Christ would die for them because they believe the lie that they're too dirty or too far gone. There are also people who have gone through situations that make it oppressively difficult for them to refer to themselves or others as "dirty" or "worthless." I'm trying to be sensitive to that, but I'm coming from a different place. I can't keep quiet about it.

I'm coming from a place where I realize how sinful, weak, and worthless I really am. I'm coming from a place where I know the depravity of my heart, the way it can be quickly turned, the way it seeks the idol of self, the way it always has sought the idol of self. I know how weak I am, that I fear so much, that I want to hide away from the world. I know my worthlessness, that I've corrupted myself for the sake of such temporal things, that I don't have anything of my own to give.

In the perspective of the either-or philosophy on redemption that I've seen so often lately, things don't look so good for me.

Good thing I don't buy into the false dilemma, either-or philosophy.

It's not an either-or; it's a BOTH-AND. It's the most remarkable both-and scenario that ever existed, will ever exist. It's the both-and that changes everything.

I can't grasp how remarkable it is that God loves me unless I know how unlovable I am. I can't grasp how powerful God is unless I know how weak I am. I can't grasp how remarkable it is that Christ would die for me while I was still a sinner, unless I have some minute knowledge of how totally depraved I am.

I'm not wallowing in sin and worthlessness.  That's not where I am at all.  I'm understanding (as much as I can) how hopeless I would be without Christ so that I can appreciate (as much as I can) how much hope I have with Christ.

I'm no longer worthless, not because of some innate worth, but because Christ has given me worth and restored me to the purposes for which I was fearfully and wonderfully made-the God works which were prepared in advance for me to do, to the glory of God. I'm no longer weak because Christ's power is made perfect in my weakness. I'm no longer dirty because Christ literally went through hell to clean me up.

But I can't forget who I would be if God decided to leave me as I was, without Him. I can't act as if I were (and I quote a "Sidewalk Prophets" song that has great intent, and yet, I believe, misses the point) "someone worth dying for." I'm NOT someone worth dying for. But God, because He IS worthy, became a man and died for me. It's not because I am lovable, but because HE IS LOVING.

That is the point.

And while others might find the both-and scenario oppressive, I find that this truth frees me up.  My time and talents aren't mine. They were freely given to me, so I can freely give to others. My worth isn't by my own merit, so I don't have to be afraid that I'm going to mess up and somehow lose my worth. My weaknesses are just opportunities for Christ to reveal His strength. I can truly love my Father because I know how much He loves me. I can truly serve my Father because I know what He has done to adopt me as His child--not just a servant (though I don't even deserve to be that) BUT HIS CHILD.

I'm not wallowing in sin here at all. I'm realizing the remarkable, wonderful, incredible truth that Christ has done the impossible. He bridged the dilemma, the gap, the chasm of our sin, ever keeping us from God's holiness.  He's brought us back to God, made us whole again, and made us children of God.  No, I'm not wallowing. I'm rejoicing!

All glory to God.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Gift of Weakness

Beth Lutz, a friend of Rich Mullins, gave this account of something the late Christian musician had once said:

"...he was very emotional. He was crying. He said, 'I don't want to run from the experience of the pain because I would miss what God is trying to teach me through it.'"

I'm not going to write about pain, although I can CERTAINLY relate to what Rich Mullins was talking about there.  Pain has definitely been a gift in my life, but I'm going to talk about a different gift.  I'm going to talk about how God has used weakness in my life to teach me and to lead me to trust Him more.

I've noticed lately that I've been a little more on edge than usual. I don't want to say that I've been anxious, since I don't feel particularly anxious unless I'm right smack dab in the middle of something that typically causes me anxiety. For example, being around unfamiliar people might cause me to suddenly find myself unable to form coherent sentences--or even speak at all without getting visibly agitated, but I'm not sitting around worrying about this sort of thing when I'm not actually dealing with it.  At least, not usually.

I have been extra jumpy lately. Since having a panic episode (wasn't quite an attack) back in May, I've noticed that I've had to work harder at keeping calm at work when the kids get loud or when they make multiple demands for my attention.  I am rather tense when there are sudden noises.

So while I don't think "anxiety" is quite the right word fit what I've been dealing with, it is fair to say that I've been struggling lately.

And with my trip to Romania now less than two weeks away, I've started to become legitimately anxious about that.  With as tense as I've been lately, I am even more fearful of what could happen on the trip.  I'll have to talk in front of strangers, in front if groups of people, have to initiate conversations, and all with a translator.  Knowing me, knowing the way I can get sometimes, the world would tell me that I have every right to be anxious.

Some of you might already know this, but the thing about me is, when I get nervous and anxious right in the midst of a situation, like when I have to talk in front of people, or interview for something (no really-yikes), sometimes my nervous system goes really crazy and I start crying and/or just generally freaking out. I'm not sad. I'm not emotional because of subject matter. I'm just really, really nervous, and the way my body copes is by turning me into a teary, shaky mess until I can go find a quiet place to calm down for a good half hour or so. With chocolate.

Now that I think of it, that sounds almost like one of my panic episodes.

If you had asked me ten years ago, I might have said that there was something wrong or sinful with the way my body reacts (sometimes) when I get nervous. If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have said that it would be a blessing for God to take that anxious reaction away.

I did pray for that.

God said, and apparently is still saying, "no" to that prayer I used to pray.

Only, I'm not praying it anymore.

I've blogged so much about weakness lately, but I keep coming back to this point. I am weak. I am so very weak.  I don't know what to say or how to say it, and sometimes my body shuts down so that I'm unable to say things even if I do have something to say.  And people wonder why I say I communicate so much more clearly in writing....

It's absolutely terrifying to lose control like that, in front of people, with everyone misinterpreting the situation, because apparently it's not normal for people to just start hysterically crying in the middle of a speech.  And in losing control, in realizing I'm never truly in control, that at any second I could be reduced to a sniveling, shaking, small little girl--well, I have no trouble realizing I'm weak.

But here's the thing. God is not weak, and God has given me something to say. This mission trip has changed in so many details since I originally signed up for it, but one thing that hasn't changed is that God called me to go on it because He has given me something to say.

I've had some frustrations in preparing my salvation story in a way that won't offend people in Romanian culture. That's just one more obstacle, one more thing that should deter me. But I'm not deterred.

Because if God has called me to go, then He will give me words to speak, and knowing how He usually works in me, it will be right when I (and others) need them and not a moment sooner.
I am planning. I am preparing. I am praying and praying and praying. Because in the end, it's really not going to matter how many preparations I've made (though the better prepared I am, the better things should go). The thing is, if God doesn't go with me, then I might as well not go. Because if I have anything to say, it's got to be from Him. Why? Because I'm weak; He is strong.

And honestly, it's really freeing to know that. It's so freeing to know that there's nothing I can do. It takes the pressure off me. The choice I have is to just go off somewhere alone and wallow in my worthlessness, or to accept the worth my Father lavishes on me, and go out, trusting Him in faith to work through me. I'm not important on my own; I've just gotta trust Him and be willing.

God never promised to take away the thorns in my flesh. He just promised to provide me with sufficient grace, and that's a HUGE promise. And honestly, having panic episodes and basically just being a basket case has been something God has used to help me trust Him. My weaknesses have been a gift.  I'm grateful for them, for being awkward, for struggling, for just HAVING to rely on Christ, because I surely can't rely on me.  I can't do this on my own, but His power is made perfect in my weakness.

If you're just hearing me say "I'm weak" and not hearing the BIGGER, MORE IMPORTANT, INFINITELY MORE AMAZING NEWS that "HE IS STRONG," then you are missing what I'm saying.

Because I'm not wallowing.  I'm not hiding.  He's given me something to say, and somehow He's going to use me to say it-even though I'm not at all good at speaking.

Neither was Moses.

Look what God did through him?  It wasn't Moses.  It won't be me.  It's always God.

Please continue to pray that God will do great things on this trip, that He will go with our small team. I won't ask you to pray that He'll prevent me from breaking down crying in front of a church so that the translator can't hear through my sobs (though I really hope that doesn't happen-unless there's a reason for it that I can't see) but I will ask you to ask that He gives me what I need when I need it.
But He's pretty good at that.

Pray for those we'll meet. Pray for clear communication of both truth and love. Pray that God changes hearts and lives. Pray that He will be glorified.

 Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Restless (The Holy Tension)

The following is a definition I pulled from, because I'm lazy (hence my problem) and that was the easiest way to get a definition posted:



1. characterized by or showing inability to remain at rest: a restless mood. 
2. unquiet or uneasy, as a person, the mind, or the heart.
3. never at rest; perpetually agitated or in motion: the restless sea. 
4. without rest; without restful sleep: a restless night. 
5. unceasingly active; averse to quiet or inaction, as persons: a restless crowd.
When most people hear the word restless, they seem to think about something negative.  It's easy to see why when the definitions use descriptions like "inability to remain at rest," "unquiet," "perpetually agitated," "without restful sleep," "averse to quiet," etc.  The emotion that accompanies restlessness seems to be one of angst, of disquiet, of a lack of peace.
Last week, I went to a training meeting for my upcoming mission trip.  My pastor, in greeting, asked how my day had gone.  I had gotten that particular day off.  While I did spend a little bit of that day working on preparations for the meeting (and the mission trip in general), I spent a great deal more of that day playing games on my phone, sleeping, or just wasting time.
So when my pastor asked me how my day had gone, I had a one-word reply: "Restful."
My pastor said that was "good" or "nice" or something, and then the meeting began.  And I remember just briefly thinking, before focusing on the meeting, that my day hadn't been all that nice or good.  Even though I had spent most of the day resting, I didn't really feel all that rested. 
And though I was feeling angsty and unsettled at the time, I really don't think I was in a restless mood. 

I was just lazy.
There's a song by Switchfoot that's been out for a couple of years I guess.  It's called "Restless."  The first few times I listened to it, I was both confused and curious about it.  After all, wasn't it a BAD thing, particularly for a Christian, to feel restless?  Didn't that indicate a lack of peace?  Didn't that indicate that we weren't satisfied or content with life?
What if the answer is YES.  What if restlessness does mean a lack of peace, a lack of satisfaction?  But what if that weren't a bad thing, after all.
What I'm NOT saying is that we shouldn't be content.  I'm not saying that we shouldn't have peace with God. and be grateful for all the blessings He gives us.  But I am saying that there is something we should be pursuing, and honestly, on that wasted day off, most of what I was pursuing was not really something worth pursuing.
I'm also NOT saying that we shouldn't have rest.  God created the Sabbath and placed pretty high importance upon it.  Humans were created to NEED rest; that's part of who we are.  There's nothing wrong with taking a day off. 
There's also nothing wrong with playing games, watching a good movie or television show, reading a good book, etc.  Art is also something God created, and He created us to be creative.  As a writer, I would think it pretty awful if I wrote things that would never be read and appreciated.  Art is meant to be appreciated.  So I'm also NOT saying that it's sinful to watch a good movie or play or to read a good book or even play a silly game every so often.
But what I forget all too often is that there are things that are worth pursuing, and if I stop pursuing these things in order to chase the frivolous, if my passion is for my worthless addictions and not for the things of God, then I'm creating an idol, and that idol is ME. 
The more I started listening to that song by Switchfoot, the more I realized what it was talking about., and it quickly became a favorite song.  In the song, "Restless," the beginning illustration is a drop of water pursuing something more.  The drop seeks the stream.  The stream chases the river.  The river chases the ocean.  The ocean seeks the shore.  And for the stream, for the Christian, to be stagnant is to be dying. 
No, there's nothing wrong with taking a day off or with relaxing, but we can never allow ourselves to believe the LIE that this world is a place where we can be comfortable.  This world isn't our home.  In fact, we are aliens living as strangers in a strange land.  Spiritual battles rage around us.  And sometimes I just want to kick off my shoes and stretch out and rest a good long while in the things that make me happy.  We can visit that, but never live there for more than a little while.  We weren't meant to live like that, and I think it's "restfulness" like that which causes the "restlessness" we don't want. 
I also think that sometimes we all want to be happy and carefree that we pretend that a lack of struggle is a good thing.  So we believe the LIE that if we're struggling, that must necessarily mean there's something wrong.  If we're wrestling, then that must necessarily mean our heart isn't right.  Certainly a lack of Spiritual peace can cause struggle, but I have a different perspective.  If we're not struggling, if we're not actively striving for something more, if we're not experiencing any hardship, then it could mean that Satan has us right where he wants us.
There are people who are dying in their sin, not even believing or caring that there's a Savior waiting to save them.  We need to wrestle in prayer for the lost of this world.  The enemy is all around us, trying to find a foothold into our lives, seeking a way to devour us.  We need to equip ourselves for battle--including more prayer.  There are evils and injustices all around us--we need to fight.  We need to seek.  We need to ask and knock.  We need to strive with God.
And more than that, we need to pursue the God of the universe, the One who created us, the One who knows us and loves us so completely.  He created us to need Him.  We need to pursue Him if only for the simple fact that He is perfectly pursuing us.
This is the restlessness I want, the restlessness I need.  I call it the holy tension, the knowledge that while we need to seek peace and rest in our Father, we also need to live in the reality that this world is not quite right, and that the days are evil.  We need God.  We can't be stagnant.  We have to keep seeking that deeper ground.
"...until the Sea of Glass we meet
At last completed and complete
Where tide and tear and pain subside
And laughter drinks them dry
I'll be waiting, anticipating
All that I aim for
What I was made for
With every heart beat
All of my blood bleeds
Running inside me
Looking for you..."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Armor Doesn't Fit

The armor doesn't fit.

I didn't even intend to fight that day, but one should always be ready.  It's easy, too easy to forget that as long as we're breathing this simple air, the battle isn't truly over.

But this battle, this foe, it was different.  And as much as everyone loves the underdog, even I could see how unlikely a champion I was.


I'd always been overlooked.  I'd always been last.  I'd always been left behind.  I'd always been the smallest, the least important, the weakest.

But there's a blessing in being weak.

When I stepped forward to fight, that's when they brought the armor out.  I know they thought it would protect me, but it was more than that.  They wanted to hide me.  They wanted to hide all my weaknesses under the guise of the finest armor the kingdom had to offer.  And it was fine armor, indeed.  When I looked in the mirror, I barely recognized myself.  I didn't look much like an unimportant weakling.  I looked like a soldier, a warrior, someone who could fight battles in his own strength.

But it didn't fit.  The armor didn't fit.  I looked impressive, but I could hardly move.  When I attempted to appear to be something I wasn't, I only became clumsy and foolish.  I was wearing something that wasn't made for me. 

I was never meant to look that impressive.  I was never meant to be the obvious hero. 

That's because I wasn't the hero.

The armor didn't fit.

So I took it off. 

I didn't take a sword into battle.  I didn't take a spear.  My foe had both.  His weapons were as threatening as he was.  And I know that if my comrades weren't too busy shaking in fear, they would probably be laughing at me as I went to go face the giant.

 I took a sling.  I chose a few smooth stones from the stream.  I heard the whispers from my comrades and the taunts from my enemies.  A sling and a few stones?  Were those really the only weapons I was taking into battle?

That's all I was carrying, but that's not all I had.  I wasn't going into that battle alone.  God was there with me.  And I didn't need to look or act impressive.  All I had to do was be obedient.

I had gone down that day carrying a few sack lunches for my big brothers.  I never intended to slay a giant.  I was just being obedient to my Dad. 

Because even after the prophet came and anointed me with oil, telling me I'd be king someday, I never really saw myself as someone terribly important.  I remember how Dad had sent me to go watch the sheep while the prophet was examining my brothers.  He thought I'd never amount to anything more than a shepherd.

And that's okay, because out there in that pasture, I'd take my harp and sing songs to God.  And it was there that He came and sang over me in love.  His love for me never had to do with how strong or wise or important I am; it had to do with how wonderful He is.  If He loved me, if He was good, then what did I have to fear?  I didn't have to fear the bears or the lions that attacked as I watched over the sheep.  After the prophet came, I didn't have to fear the future when I knew I'd have a completely different kind of Flock to watch over.

And I didn't have to fear the giant. 

But it was never because of my own strength.  It was because I knew that if God was for me, no one could be against me.  He was, He is my strength, my worth. 

The world tried to put its armor on me--the armor that said I was big, that said I was important, that said I was strong and worthy.

But the armor didn't fit.

All I had was a sling.  Some stones.  A willing heart.  But that's not all I had.

God was, God is with me.

He's the One who makes the giants fall.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fiction Friday: Fun and Unusual Author Interview with Fun and Unusual Jay Mims! Merry Christmas in July!

And now for something completely different.

For this "Fiction Friday," you, dear readers, will experience Poor Reflections' first author interview. ...but it's probably not like any author interview you've read before. I have interviewed mystery writer, Jay Mims.

As I was reading his first book, THE FIVE SANTAS, I realized that his descriptions pleasantly reminded me of an old text-based adventure game from the 1980s. You know...the ones that Sheldon Cooper always tries to get his friends to play. Just to let you know how much of a geek I am, I would totally play text adventures with Sheldon Cooper. For about two minutes. Because that's about how long it would take for him to kick me out because I was playing it wrong.

I asked Mr. Mims (it's fun to call him that) if he would be willing to be interviewed as if he were playing a text adventure. He agreed, because he's about as odd as I am. The following interview (which quickly reached the point of delightful ridiculousness) is the result. Enjoy!

(* For those of you who are unfamiliar with text adventures, they are games without any graphics, heavily relying on the writer's description and the player's imagination. The player would have to type commands that he or she wanted his or her character to perform--usually something simple like, "Take beaver" or "Kill troll with beaver." Because a text adventure interview can get confusing (ya think?), I have noted what I have said ARC (that's ME) and what Jay Mims has said with JM (that's not me). If I appear to be speaking in third person, it's because I'm emulating a text adventure. And talking in third person is what text adventures would do if they were people. Ok---on with the most bizarre interview ever, with the awesome Jay Mims! Buy his books!)


ARC: You have arrived in a strange, yet awesome blog, with no memory of how you got here. The exit is blocked by a strange, yet awesome blogger named RUTH. She doesn't look like she's going to let you pass without a fight, and you won't hit a girl. There is a large sparkly orange SIGN here, and also a TURTLE. Your obvious exits are NORTH, EAST, and CANARY YELLOW.

JM: Look at SIGN

ARC: The sign is large and sparkly. It reminds you of a disco traffic cone...if that were a thing. It reads, "He must answer questions ten, ere the blog exit he see. I know that doesn't rhyme. Shut up. I'm here to axe you some questions. The turtle's name is Sam. Don't touch him. He'll give you the Samonella." After all, it is a large sign.

JM: Say "Hi Sam" to the TURTLE

ARC: Sam the turtle says, "Don't touch me. I'll give you the Samonella."


ARC: You have reached the North Pole. The air smells like peppermint, and also it's kind of cold here. You should have worn an ugly Christmas sweater. There is a Santa Claus here. He is holding a toy AXE and looking pretty confused.

JM: Tell SANTA hello. Ask SANTA why he looks confused.

ARC: "Tell" is not a verb I recognize.

JM: Say "Hello" to SANTA.

ARC: Santa smiles knowingly at you, then looks down at the axe. "Why am I holding this thing? Do you want it? I KNOW that you do!"

JM: Take AXE from SANTA

ARC: Santa hands you the axe and whispers, "Use your powers for good," before vanishing in a puff of green and red swirly smoke. You are alone in the cold, holding a toy axe for no apparent reason. You assume there's a toy workshop or some kind of Santa village somewhere nearby, but it's too cold to go exploring. At this rate, any Santa villages you see will probably be the lovely visions you have right before hypotherming to death. Yes, hypotherming is totally a word. Never mind. Your only exit is SOUTH, back to the strange, awesome blog.

**Your score has gone up 100 points**


ARC: "Head" is not a verb I recognize.

JM: Walk SOUTH, keep head lowered to chest and mutter about verbs.

ARC: You are back at the strange, yet awesome blog. The exit is blocked by a strange, yet awesome blogger named RUTH. She doesn't look like she's going to let you pass without a fight, and you won't hit a girl. There is a large sparkly orange SIGN here, and also a TURTLE. Your obvious exits are HYPOTHERMIA, EAST, and CANARY YELLOW.

JM: Ask RUTH "Do you want to ax me a question?"

ARC: Ruth says, "Bring me something I can axe questions with."


ARC: You are in a twisty maze of passages, all alike. Ain't nobody got time fo dat. Better go back the way you came. Your obvious exits are GO WEST, YOUNG MAN.


ARC: You are back at the ...oh, you know the drill. Your obvious exits are HYPOTHERMIA, RUN AWAY!, and CANARY YELLOW.

JM: Offer RUTH axe.

ARC: "Offer" is not a...oh, okay, I'll take it.

Ruth accepts the axe and says, "This is how it works. If you want me to axe you a question, you hand me the axe. Since you already did that once, I'll go ahead and axe you a question. Do you have any snazzy introductions you'd like to offer at this time?"

JM: Two psychics bump into each other one says to the other "Well you're fine, but how am I?"
Thank you so much for having me here Ruthalicious.

ARC: Ruth says, "You're welcome. Don't call me Ruthalicious. I'm holding an axe!!" She looks down at the axe. "But I guess you'll need it back if you want me to axe you more questions."

JM: Takes axe back

ARC: A random Christmas ELF wanders in.

JM: Waves at ELF saying "Hello!"

ARC: The elf ignores you completely.

JM: Gives AXE to RUTH.

ARC: Ruth takes the axe and says, "Now you're getting it. Tell me a little bit about yourself. I know that's not a question. Shut up. Well, answer my not-question and shut up. Simultaneously."

The elf hops on Sam's back, and the turtle and elf fly off into the distance.

JM: I'm Jay, I'm a mystery writer by trade, though I also enjoy making macramé. I like meeting new people, am a huge fan of Christmas movies, and might have an unhealthy obsession with the tv show He-Man.

ARC: Ruth hands the axe back to you. She wonders if the elf will catch the Samonella now.

JM: Hands the axe back to RUTH

ARC: Ruth accepts the axe with a flourish and asks, "What's your favorite Christmas movie?"

JM: This is going to sound out of left field, but I have three: Favorite Christmas Carol interpretation is "The Muppet Christmas Carol" because The Muppets and Michael Caine FOR THE WIN! Favorite musical is "White Christmas" and favorite Santa is, I'm not being sarcastic, "Ernest Saves Christmas"

ARC: Ruth nods with interest and said, "I didn't expect that. I mean, the Muppets, yeah, but I didn't peg you for a 'White Christmas' fan." She hands you back the axe.

JM: Hands RUTH axe.

ARC: Ruth takes the axe and pretends she's going to maul you with it. But it's just a toy. "You said that you're a mystery writer. What projects have you worked on, and *LOADED QUESTION ALERT* are any of them Christmas themed?"

JM: I DO! I have two mystery novels, with a third due out October 15th. My first novel THE FIVE SANTAS is a Christmas mystery! The smarmy detective, Dan Landis, is working as a security guard over the holidays when he stumbles across the body of Santa.
He recruits his partner, Abbey, to help him catch the killer. It's a race against time as Dan has to stop the Kringle Killer, solve the mystery, and find an appropriate gift for Abbey.
Book 2 THE CULT OF KOO KWAY picks up where SANTAS left off, but also tells the story of how Dan met Abbey.
Book 3 will have Dan and Abbey take their friend Doc to a cozy bed and breakfast to spend a nice, quiet New Year's Eve together. Until the body shows up. It's called THE GRAY GHOST INN.

ARC: Ruth hands you back the axe and looks as though she's dying to axe you a follow-up question. A mysterious blue box materializes nearby.

JM: Hands AXE to RUTH while casting glance at BLUE BOX.

ARC: A mad man sticks his head out of the blue box. He looks around and sheepishly says, "WHAT? This isn't the North Pole!" Then he goes back into the box, and it disappears.

Ruth looks longingly in the direction of where the blue box once stood, then shakes her head to clear it, accepts the axe and says, "Where was I? No. That's not the question. The question is, "Are you planning more for the Dan Landis series?"

JM: I have 13 books planned in the series. BUT, that's only if people like them. Right now I've got a quartet lined up, what I'm calling "The Oncoming Storm" series.

ARC: Ruth says, "And I thought *I* was obsessed with Doctor Who," and hands the axe back to you.



Hands axe to Ruth

ARC: Ruth accepts the axe and asks, "So if Dan Landis invited you over to hang out, what would the two of you do?"

JM: I'd imagine watch episodes of MOONLIGHTING. Barring that, we'd go out to a bar where Dan would prove to be the GREATEST WINGMAN EVER! Or I'd be a mediocre wingman. Either way it would be LEGENDARY!
Or we'd go out back and project DOCTOR WHO against the back of the house.

ARC: Ruth says, "Watch out ladies!" and throws the axe at your face.

JM: Catches AXE

ARC: A reindeer trots in. His nose is red and glowing.

JM: Points and says "RUDOLPH!"

Hands AXE back to RUTH because he doesn't throw things at girls either.

ARC: Ruth says, "Thanks for not hurting me. So, what would you get Dan Landis for Christmas?"

The reindeer whistles "You're a Grand Old Flag" and trots away.

JM: Dan is a sophisticated kind of nerd, so I'd lean toward a red shirt that has "EXPENDABLE" on it.
Alternatively, I could get him a TARDIS USB splitter.

ARC: Ruth chuckles and hands the axe back to you.

JM: I have both of those, FYI. Hands AXE back to RUTH

ARC: Ruth takes the axe. "That's because you're awesome," she says. Then she asks, "How many questions was that? I'm bad at math."

JM: I don't know.
7 I think.

ARC: Ruth shrugs. "Doesn't matter. It's my blog. I can change the rules. I have a toy axe. Your argument is invalid." She starts to hand the axe back to you, but pulls it away and says, "psych!"
She asks, "Is there anything else you really want to tell us about your writing, Dan Landis, yourself, or life in general?"
And by "us" I the invisible pony in the corner.

JM: Oooh PONY!
I really enjoy writing, and it's kind of weird because I've found myself constantly improving. If you read book 3, THE GRAY GHOST INN, you'll notice a significant improvement over book 1 THE FIVE SANTAS.
I realize my books aren't for everyone, but if you are interested in a low-key mystery, with interesting characters, and an ever growing and maturing story, then you should totally take a chance on me. To quote Abba.

ARC: Can't go wrong with Abba. Well, since I have read THE FIVE SANTAS, I can say that I'm eagerly awaiting THE GRAY GHOST INN. FIVE SANTAS was very entertaining. Ruth eyes the toy axe and throws it and all the rules out the window that just appeared from nowhere.

So let's talk about THE FIVE SANTAS! What did you like, dislike, any piercing questions you might have?

ARC: Who's interviewing who here? I like the characters. You have a wonderful grasp of characterization, which makes me wonder how much of you is in Landis, and vice versa.
In other words, he's very believable. Like an alter-ego.

JM: It worries me how much of myself is in Dan. I'm not going to lie about that. I like to think Dan is what I would be if I just listened to every bad idea that came to mind.

ARC: Hahaha! Sounds about right. Yet it usually works for him.

JM: Dan's probably the easiest character in the cast to write for. I think Abbey or Doc are the hardest. For two different reasons: Abbey is highly intelligent, but she doesn't do pop culture references, so I end up struggling with something to say.

ARC: How does the rest of the world communicate?!

JM: DON'T KNOW! I have had to interact with non-nerds recently, and I sometimes feel like I'm speaking Klingon. I'm just like "Something something Honey Boo Boo?"
Because when in doubt just make all statements into questions.

ARC: Ha! What about Doc?

JM: Doc is difficult because he's mature, wordly, and always uses $5 words. I have to break out the thesaurus then.

ARC: What's an example of a word Doc would use?

JM: Jocularity

ARC: How would Dan Landis define that?

JM: Father Mulchahy's sense of humor (From M*A*S*H)

ARC: Tell us (the pony and me) where we can find your books.

JM: You can pretty much find them anywhere books are sold. Amazon and Barnes and Noble carry them, and if you want, Barnes and Noble can order the physical copy for you.
Most indie bookstores either carry them or can order them for you.
You can also get 'em on ebooks, including on Smashwords, the one-stop-shop for ebook publications.

ARC: Awesome. The pony will order them today! There's one more question I have to ask before I let you exit this blog.

JM: I'm all aglow with excitement!

ARC: Do you believe in Santa?

JM: Totally! I still leave out cookies. Though, in fairness I also have the memory of a goldfish, so when I come downstairs I go "Oooh cookies!" eat said cookies, and then later marvel that Santa ate his cookies.

ARC: So, basically, Santa thinks you've left him a plate of crumbs.

JM: Yes. It's really no wonder I keep getting jipped. I get like socks, a straightened yo-yo, some string, a Rubic's cube that's been solved. Which, if you don't know, is just a block. A BLOCK IS NOT FUN!
I did get a game of Battleship, but since my only company is a passive-aggressive Dalek named Steve, it's not as much fun as you'd think. He keeps going "I HAVE EXTERMINATED YOUR BATTLESHIP! EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE!"

ARC: You can build with a block. "I built a small cube-shaped tower. Don't knock it down, Steve."

JM: Yes, but if there's only block then I've mostly built a mild inconvenience.

ARC: I build those all the time.

I'd love to build a cube shaped fort and be all "BWAHAHAHA! I NOW HAVE A FORT! YOU CANNOT SEE ME!"

ARC: The invisible pony can see you. The invisible pony SEES ALL.



After that, the interview kind of went downhill into a nerdy conversation about Doctor Who....

MANY THANKS to the talented Jay Mims for his time...and also for being a great sport and trying a WAY different (and somewhat obnoxious) kind of interview.  You can read his blog at

I highly recommend THE FIVE SANTAS. Happy Christmas in July!  Dan Landis for president!

Oh, and it's a good thing that Mr. Mims didn't venture off into CANARY YELLOW. He was likely to have been eaten by a Grue.