Writing Journal: Introducing Sisterhood

492599If you follow me around in real life, on FaceBook, and or read my Blog, you will quickly realize that one of my favorite concepts in stories—right after the idea of the Undeserved Rescue—is Brotherhood. I love action flicks with a core group that would kill for each other. I love stories about enemies becoming inseparable friends. I love stories about cops and their partners. I love war stories because of the brotherhood concept. Band of Brothers is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, but I feel like you see this same idea play out, to lesser degrees, in StarTrek: NG, Firefly, Sherlock, and Chuck. It’s all about the person next to you. It’s all about the guy willing to spill blood to defend you, even his own. It’s what I love about Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. It is what I love about Lord of the Rings.

With all that said, it’s not surprising that my Fairytale has at least two brotherhoods forming in Book 1. I’m diligently working on a brotherhood within the antagonist’s army and a brotherhood centered around my protagonists. Since brotherhoods tend to form in the middle of intense situations like combat, and since I’m a bit conservative and think combat should be left to men, and since it typically has been left to men so men are the ones forming these brotherhoods, my protagonist is a male. In fact, most of the books I’ve written have a male protagonist.

Why?

Most of the books I enjoy reading have male protagonist. It’s not that there aren’t books with lead females out there. It’s not that women don’t have adventures. It’s just that I never find books and stories with lead females as interesting or as fun as I do the ones with lead males. This started back when I had a choice between the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Can you guess which one I picked? (If you guess Nancy Drew you need to start this article over and try again. 🙂 )

Why is this?

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I’ll be honest, and a bit hard on my own sex, I find stories with lead females a bit annoying. Either the woman is doing something completely ridiculous in some vain attempt to prove that she’s just as big and bad as the guys are, or she’s standing in a corner screaming with a phaser not three inches from her hand while her man gets beat to death, or she’s eye candy. There are very few stories where the woman is a woman. And the ones where she is being a woman can be a bit harder to make interesting because they can end up catty, manipulative, and self focused. I just don’t think they’re as fun as male driven stories. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I was a Tomboy growing up.) What it really came down to was boys had adventures and girls had boyfriends. I would rather have an adventure.

Me and my Bestie!

Me and my Bestie!

Then, a dear friend laid down a challenge. She pointed out the many wonderful relationships I have with other women. I’ve been blessed with a wise mother and extra mother, grandmothers, sisters, sisters-in-Christ, wise older women, and a very dear best friend, and many nieces. I have more dear women than I can possibly name in my life right now. I have women who are going before me into old age and widowhood, I have young women coming up behind me into marriage, life, and adulthood. I wouldn’t trade these women for the world. I love each and every one of them. My dear friend, who is a woman, asked me why I don’t have more of those types of female relationships in my books? They are some of the best friendships I’ve had, why don’t I mirror the brotherhood concept with a sisterhood concept? If I hated women being written just to have boyfriends, why was I doing the same thing. (Don’t read this the wrong way, I think loving a man and being loved by him, being married, is one of the most wonderful and rewarding relationships you can have.)

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I was floored. I couldn’t believe how long I’d missed the opportunity to share something that has always been a part of my life. Facepalm.

Again, I find myself beholden to a woman while I write about a man. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be: Women supporting women who are helping men? So now I’m weaving women together. I have a mother and now I have a GateKeeper and a few elements who are women, plus some other girls. I’m shooting for a story that has brotherhoods, sisterhoods, and also some marriages.

I hope to show the positive sides of women and sisterhoods without reducing them down to catty relationships. One of the things I hated most about the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan was his sisterhoods. Every woman in the book constantly manipulated the men around them for their own ends. It grew very frustrating. It was like watching all that is the worst part of you instead of being encouraged to be better. I want to have a story more like Lord of the Rings that makes you want to be a better person when you finish reading it.

With this challenge accepted, I will be working on my female characters. I will be exploring what makes women and men different and how those things compliment each other. I have some good books to read, good movies to watch, and of course some interesting personal experiences to draw from. Plus, I have a whole host of Godly women ready to help me! I’m gearing up and ready to go!

 

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Sunday Thoughts: Facebook Syndrome

Facebook-logo-1817834_pngFirst off, this is not a rant against Facebook.  I love Facebook.  It’s the only way I’m able to keep up with my very large and amazing family.  It’s great for storing and sharing pictures.  More importantly, it’s helped me take steps to get to know my church family on a more personal level.  Seeing their status updates throughout the week allows me to pray for them, encourage them, laugh with them, and serve them better.

I tend to be the kind of person who doesn’t rant on Facebook or even post negative things.  I try to be positive and light, focused on what activities I’m involved in, and share happy events.  These types of things seem more appropriate for a social venue with 200+ friends and family members reading my status updates.  When your audience ranges from pastors, parents, grandparents, kids, old friends and new it seems wise to practice discretion and limit the deep personal content.

Here’s the rub: sometimes we use Facebook, and its appropriate surface relationships, as a crutch and forget to get to know one another on a deeper level.  This is the Facebook Syndrome, or the, “Hi, how are you?”, “Fine.  How are you?” Syndrome.

My life is far more complicated and difficult than any of my Facebook statuses would ever indicate.  (This is a personal choice.  I don’t have a problem with someone posting prayer requests or negative circumstances.)  Because I choose to do this, I often wonder if others do as well.  Because I know some of my Facebook friends on a more personal, open level, I know they do.

This means we don’t know what a week has held for a fellow believer based on their Facebook status updates.  They may have experienced horror, joy, sadness, depression, struggles, or persecution.  Some things may weigh so heavy on a believer’s heart that posting anything about it on Facebook can seem flippant and disrespectful.  Sometimes things can happen that are so painful talking about them in the lunch line or between services is humanly impossible.  Behind the smile or the busy status update could be concern for a brother or sister overseas, a sister or friend’s miscarriage, a grandparent’s death, a long term illness, a chronically sick spouse, a difficult marriage, great loneliness, job stress, or aging parents.

Our lives are more than our Facebook status updates.  We want to share life’s blessings and wall up our tears.  It’s nice to be happy and busy.  We certainly don’t want to come across as whiny, needy, or depressing to others.  But, dear church members, if we don’t move beyond quick hellos and Facebook status updates we aren’t serving or loving one another.  Who will bear us up if we don’t share our tears with one another?

Go out of your way to get to know your church family.  You don’t have to be the only shoulder to cry on – we all have emotional limits – just don’t content yourself with a Facebook only relationship with your church family.  Don’t be satisfied with a surface relationship.  That’s a great place to start, but don’t stop there.  Practice hospitality.  Text, write a note, go out for coffee, visit, and share.  Be open with your own walk and needs, without gossiping, and listen to the person on the other side of the table.  Actively seek the unpopular, fringe members of your church.  You will find that when you seek to be a friend, you suddenly have many friends.  When you pour yourself out for others, you are blessed.  Don’t think about yourself, think about others and you will find that the Lord has fully supplied your needs.

A Rare Selfie of Grand duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna, early 1910

A Rare Selfie of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna, early 1910

We live in a culture focused on ourselves.  We can create our own online personas, take selfies at more forgiving and filtered angles, and we indulge in a fair amount of ‘me’ time.  With all this online exposure and all this time focused on yourself, do you ever feel alone?  Do you ever wish someone knew you, understood what was going on in your heart and head, and still liked you?  Dear friend!  If you want to have friends, be a friend.  We have forgotten about self-sacrifice.  Pouring yourself out for people is largely uncool these days, but it’s the mark of a believer in their church.

You know the popular passage “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”? Have you ever noticed its context?  It is in the context of our submission and humility in our local church!  Think about that!  Is it hard for you to reach out to people?  Is it hard for you to open up to others on anything deeper than your weekend and your favorite movies?  Do you talk to wise, older women and then take their advice?  Do you listen to your family?  It’s hard.  It’s very hard to be in an active, open, loving church family.  Why?  It requires work, planning, and purpose.  More importantly, it requires you to work with sinners.  It requires you to forgive and love.  It requires you to be a soldier of the Lord, to put yourself in harm’s way for the sake of the soldier next to you, and he might be the one hurting you.

hbctxThe good news, the silver lining?  Christ is the head of this family, our elder brother, our King.  He walks amongst His lamp stands, and He commands us to cast our cares on him.  So dearest family member, let’s strive together to shake of the ease of a relationship only as deep as Facebook, and go at the hard work of learning, listening, and loving each other.  You and I might be surprised to find we have plenty in common, even if it’s just grace – what a place to start!  My experience has been that my preconceived notions about my fellow church members are often wrong or far too shallow.  I have found that when I take the time to get to know my church family, they are the salt of the earth.