Gramma’s long journey into cyberspace

Last year at this time, I would have thought I was more likely to swim the English Channel than to open a Twitter account.   But God does indeed move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Recently I realized that the Lord has been relentlessly leading me into cyberspace for the past twenty-five years.

It started one day in the 80s.  I was just thinking about Adam and Eve, wondering how they would have understood God’s warning: “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Since the first humans did not know any other persons who had actually died, what would “die” have meant to them?

From that point, I continued to think how completely our vocabulary has been ravaged by sin.  It seemed to me that words like death, pain, sorrow, and even words like remember and forget would have no meaning for perfect people in a perfect world. My mental exercise did not disturb me until I realized that sinless people could never understand mercy, forgiveness, or salvation.

These ideas came to me about the same time I abandoned my own books for other women’s brooms, so I spent many hours vacuuming, dusting, scouring, and visiting the unfallen planet in the universe of my imagination. I actually talked to several friends about turning my fantasy into a novel, and they were unanimously encouraging. But, as the reigning Queen of the Procrasti-nation, I just planned to start writing tomorrow for over two decades.

Then in January of 2009, I found myself in Lubbock, Texas. What I thought would be a six- week visit with my sisters turned into two and a half years of disabling cancer treatments.  I was far from home, unable to work, and equipped with a laptop.  Tomorrow had arrived with a vengeance, and I began the hard labor of translating fleeting ideas into a story on a printed page.

In the fall of 2010, I finished World Without Mercy, and I immediately started to look for a publisher. (What else can one do with a completed manuscript?)  It was then that I learned of the Catch 22 in 21st century publishing: editors only look at books represented by agents, and agents only accept authors who have already published.

It is true that many small publishers will accept proposals directly from the author.  Alas, with the notable exception of Marcher Lord Press, it seems that small Christian publishing houses have very little interest in science fiction. To tell you the truth, I’m not much interested in science fiction myself, but my story about life on another planet fits in no other genre.

During those first few months of publisher/agent hunting, I also learned that it is my duty as a 21st century author to attend writer’s conferences, establish a website, create a Facebook page, and fully exploit the social media to build a platform that will impress agents, editors, and/or publishers whenever I describe it in a book proposal. In other words, I had to line up potential buyers for my book before I could ever convince anyone that it might be worth publishing.

I attended my first writer’s workshop in Amarillo in April, joined Facebook in May, and started this blog (on Blogspot) in June of 2011. But absolutely nothing could motivate me to begin deliberate self-promotion of a book that only one of my eight siblings had taken the time to read.  (Just to be accurate, even if they all had read it and loved it, I still would never have promoted it online because I would have been dead from shock.)

In July of 2011, I came home to Pennsylvania and attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. There I met media expert and avid gardener Daniel Gasteiger.  He told us that Twitter was at the top of his list of social media tools, but…..and this is a wonderful but….it would be very annoying if all we did was tweet about our books.  He encouraged us all to go online to meet like-minded people and have fun. He gave us three rules: be yourself, be kind, and be helpful.   I thought, “I can do that!  I can go online to promote the ministry that I helped to incorporate in 2008.”

So in November of 2011, I finally set up a Twitter account, but it wasn’t until a few short weeks ago when I found #mkbiblechat that I really began to enjoy myself.  A whole new range of retweets began to appear in my home stream by way of #mkbiblechat (ters) that I happily follow.  I quickly discovered that many profiles were dedicated entirely to sharing Bible verses, prayer requests, and quotes from the saints both living and dead.

I’ve placed those accounts on my “Retweetable” list, where I now go for quick inspiration.  It was just that type of account that inspired me to begin my own “TIP” (Twitter Intercession Project).  On March 6, I started daily tweeting from Andrew Murray’s “Helps to Intercession” with the hashtag #amintercessionhelp.

I pray that God will use this post (and the next one) to connect me with intercessors to join in daily prayer in one accord.  Now that I have blogged about my TIP, I will switch to #amhti to conserve thirteen precious characters.

May the Lord abundantly bless my effort to tweet for His glory.

TIF but I didn’t LOL

I suppose this post could be categorized under “Gramma’s Guide to Textese,” since I want to address two terms commonly used in texting that make me uncomfortable.

The first term is LOL. So far I’ve never actually had an occasion to use it.  While I am frequently amused by things I read in email, in a chat, or on Twitter, they never make me laugh out loud, and it just seems dishonest to acknowledge the humor with LOL.  Whenever I read that familiar trio of letters in response to something I have posted, I am tempted to reply, “Really? It didn’t seem that funny to me.”

I would genuinely like to know how often LOL expresses a literal truth.  Through my intimate acquaintance with Lynette, Kelly, Bob, and others, I have learned that there are many people who do indeed LOL over almost anything.  Those are the people who stand-up comics want in the audience.  I, on the other hand, identify with the scowling curmudgeon I saw years ago in a New Yorker cartoon.  He answered two bewildered people with the caption, “Just because I’m not laughing, it doesn’t mean that I don’t get it!”  And in my case, a failure to laugh doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not amused.  I just don’t LOL easily, and I never do so when I am alone reading–whether from a book, magazine, or computer screen.

In solitude I might smile, perhaps even broadly.  In company the degree of my amusement is directly proportional to the depth of the curve in my smile, but more often than not that amusement is silent.  For me, laughing out loud is a special communal experience that requires two elements: excessive amusement and someone I trust.  In the company of the beloved, the silliest joke can suddenly explode into an irresistible wave of laughter that grows and crests and finally breaks, leaving in its wake helpless victims holding sides and wiping eyes. Then with just a look or a word the flow can start all over again.

That is LOL to me.  I can’t use it lightly. Still, I need some way to communicate via social media that I appreciate humor whenever I see it.  So I have decided to introduce my own acronym: TIF for That Is Funny.  Sometimes I may even think “very” and make it TIVF.

It is important to respond appropriately because behind every email, behind every line in a chat, and behind every tweet is a real person with feelings.  And the relationships we develop with other people have eternal value and eternal consequences. The ability to form relationships and share humor is part of the image of God that all humans carry whether they recognize it or not.

It is because I do recognize that I bear God’s image, and because He has made it possible for me to have a relationship with Him that I am uncomfortable with the second texting term.  Each time I see OMG, I am compelled to mentally add ITIT to relieve my distress. But that is the subject for another post.