Novels by Angela Dolbear

Novels by Angela Dolbear
Novels by Angela Dolbear

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Triangular Peg in a Square Hole

It’s hard to change churches. It’s like changing families. Actually, it is changing families.

It takes a while to see where you fit into your new family. Are you the crazy aunt? Or the uncle who tells really long stories, over and over again?

What if you don’t fit in at all? What if it is God’s purpose for you to not fit in and take up the status quo? What if His purpose is for you to stand up and point to truth…even if it is at your very first Life Group Meeting, and it’s about a taboo-in-church subject?

I will admit I got angry as we watched a video about sharing the gospel in compassion and truth. I started to blame my recent change in my menopausal support supplements. At almost 51, that can be a risky endeavor, like kicking a hornet’s nest of hormones that trigger irritability. But I prayed.

I know better than to let anger get the best of me. I have been a professing Christian for almost 30 years. Yep, I know better. So I prayed, asking Father God to quench my dander.

I don’t like feeling this way. Especially in church. I don’t want to miss out on anything that God is trying to teach me because I am blinded and stopped-up by my emotions.

As one of the speakers in the video shared what he called truth, his hypocrisy was becoming more and more apparent to me. But I kept praying, asking for calm and clarity.

The video ended, and the group facilitator began speaking. What she said didn’t trigger my outburst. It was the lack of the real truth of God that she wasn’t coinciding with that stirred me. It was the “missing it by that much” that I heard myself addressing. Even a slight deviation from God’s truth is so not good. And oh so damaging.

After the meeting, I felt so much remorse for speaking up. I wanted desperately to make new friends with my new family. I prayed, asking for forgiveness in the car on the way home.

God reminded me of a time when I didn’t speak up. Of how He convicted me for staying quiet while non-truths were flying around the church room. And I knew better.

Then He asked me, “Do I give you wisdom, which you ask Me for, for your own enjoyment?”

Ouch. Ouchy of the most high ouchies. Please forgive me, Lord, I asked, as I brushed my teeth, and got ready for bed.

I checked my phone before I plugged it in to charge for the night. There was a message from someone who had been at the Life Group that night. Uh oh.

The messenger thanked me for speaking up. This person also struggled with the way the church treated gay people. She had struggled with it for a long time, and thanked me for speaking up against the hate and ostracizing, and for pointing out that every person on earth needs the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

I showed the message to my husband, who I had been lamenting to about my bad behavior. We high-fived each other.

My self-imposed remorse was instantly lifted. Also, I remembered other people in the group telling me their views, which are similar to mine.

Will I make friends in my new family? I super hope so. It was heart-breaking to leave my beloved family behind as we moved from Austin to Nashville. But my new church family are some of the most genuinely kindhearted people who are devoted to God. I strive to be like them.

I actively and fervently pray for every request in my new family, as I continue to do for my old church family. We are all the Body of Christ, His Beloved Bride. Geography has no bearing on that.

This new season of being used to speak out in truth is hard. But I know my God will help me in it. I may never completely fit into the new family, like a triangle in a square hole. But that is God’s purpose.

With God’s help, I will try to always champion truth, because that is what is called of me. I want that “well done” from the Master far more than I want the satisfaction of being well-liked.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Hindsight is 50/50

Hindsight is 50/50
I don’t always learn from the past. Though, I wish I did.

I carry around with me daily, in my heart—well, it is my heart—that God performs miracles, so I should have big huge gleaming faith all the time.

He healed my heart of a giant blockage. I felt the healing, and I saw it on extensive expensive scientific medical tests. There is no doubt. The blockage was there. We asked specifically for God to heal it. And then it was gone (as was evident in a heart catheter procedure done the next day). Healed.

So why do I fret and ache, and bring anguish on myself when a difficult situation arises?

That’s not practicing 20/20 hindsight, is it?

I have been hearing about having faith is not just faith in God, but faith in His character.  I heard it in the book I am currently reading by Max Lucado, Anxious For Nothing. And I read about faith in a newsletter from a faithful missionary I have the honor of supporting.

God’s character. I KNOW God is faithful and good. I know that about Him. So why do I fret? Am I thick-headed as well as thick-hearted?

As I have learned in my 20+ years as a follower of Christ, when trouble comes, cover with the Word of God. (BONUS TIP: Look for the verse that jumps off the page or screen at you…that’s the work of the Holy Spirit directly for you.)

Today’s verse for me (and hopefully for you too):
Psalm 138:7 New American Standard Bible (NASB):
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.”

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Getting to the Ballpoint

I have an obsessions with pens.

The top center drawer of my vintage 1960’s teacher’s desk in my home office barely slides closed due to its overabundance of ink pens. I have to shuffle the packages of Pilot Razor Point pens in 8 colors, with the jumbo highlighters in every perceivable highlighting-friendly color, just so I can close the drawer.
There is also wide variety of Sharpies, in varying point sizes and colors, mixed in with promotional pens from hotels, banks, and businesses. 

Promotional pens are my least-reached for pen. The ink flow is usually uncertain. That kind of unreliability should be avoided if possible.

But one of my favorite pens is of the promotional variety. I carry it with me in my handbag. It came from the escrow company, with which I signed a large stack of forms to sell my home in Austin, in order to purchase my beautiful cozy home in Nashville, Tennessee. Perhaps the good memory makes it a favorite. It’s more likely because of its smooth bright blue flow of ink from a medium point felt tip. 

The Mickey Mouse coffee cup on my desk holds my other favorite and most used pens: the Uni-ball Signo Retractable Gel Pens, Medium Point, multi-color pack. Purple, green, blue and a few other colors with a dash of black ink mixed in, to give them a more grown-up, serious impression. These pens also have a cushioned grip. Comfortable and consistently dependable. But, sadly, they are no longer available for purchase. Perhaps, I will have to opt for plain blue or black ink to replenish my stock in the future.

Mixed among these favorites are a couple of purple ink pens, of various make or model. My favorite ink color since I graduated from pencils to pens in the seventh grade. Do pens signify adulthood to me? Possibly.

When it is time for me to write, whether it be novels, letters, or any manifesto of creativity, such as this here blog even, no pen is used. I type. Directly into my computer. There is a pen to the right of my keyboard, possibly for comfort, but not for use with my work.

But still, my obsession with pens is so strong. 

I suspect my real fascination with pens stems from my childhood determination to improve my penmanship, which was uneven and sloppy (so said my third grade teacher). And I think it morphed into an outlet for personal expression, and even an avenue for creativity.

I am consciously trying to thin my herd of pens, as well as other items in my home. I just have too many. If no ink flows readily from any pen, I force myself to say goodbye to the untrustworthy writing instrument, and then toss it in the garbage. (Should it be recycled?)

A failed pen never sparks my joy.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Defective Prayer

Prayer. Daily, hourly, moment-by-moment, conversation with God.

Jesus taught us how to pray in a portion of scripture commonly referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer.” In it, He instructs to pray God’s will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. 

That doesn’t include, “God change my circumstances because they make me uncomfortable, and because they don’t fit within my expectations of how things are supposed to be.”

Which is how I pray. It has been the motivating force behind my prayers. I have been praying defective prayers.

Expectations and comfort. They rule my mind like a whining baby king. How can I dethrone these immature and relentless idols? 

And unmet expectations and discomfort make me feel hopeless. And frustrated.

But feelings are little liars. They undermine the will of God. If I was stirred to pray strictly by the pursuit of the will of God, feelings would lose their validity, and their stronghold on me.

And frustration. I once heard a Bible study teacher define frustration as the flesh trying to get its own way. The solitary pursuit of seeking the will of God would annihilate frustration out of existence. 

Your kingdom come; Your will be done. 

I marvel at the words of Christ. Some phrases seem so simple, and would spill from my lips from rote memory, but they contain power. So much power.

Power to pull off the blinders that cause me to worship the false gods of comfort and expectation, which deceive me into feel hopeless and frustrated.

I once was blind, but by His words, now I see. And I am free.

Free to pray God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. And God’s will be done in me.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Travel: New experiences—even lingering elevator odors—help authors bring their pages to life

I feel extremely blessed to be able to travel. Being an independent author doesn’t leave much of a budget for extracurricular activities such as traveling. So when my well-traveled audio professional husband has accrued enough airline miles, I tag along.

Keeping my writer’s eyes alert to the different sights and sounds of the new places makes for excellent story telling. Oh, even the various smells. 

Okay, so we have to share the world. Most of us must live around other human beings. Most of us have more than a silent volleyball with blood-smear features with whom we must share our space.
So elevators. They are small rooms that seal occupants inside as they ascend and descend to the desired floors. I am consistently amazed by the level of scent that lingers from the past occupant(s).
For example, in the space of one 24-hour period during our week long stay at the Courtyard Marriott in Midtown Manhattan, I encounter three different distinguishing odors. For seven floors. Just me and these pungent aromas. Coping with these copious aromas involves sparking the imagination as to who or what brought them into the elevator.

Number 1:  Heavy cologne and perfume. Not bad. Kind of strong and musky for my taste, but makes me think of a couple all dressed up for a night out in one of the most extraordinary cities in all of America, New York City. Possibly enjoying dinner at an elegant restaurant, or cocktails at a swanky club. I personally do not participate in either of these activities so I use my imagination. Where ever they went, they will smell good doing it and have a good time…hopefully.

Number 2:  Coffee. One of those aromas you know the instant it hits your nose. Oh the lush roasted, heady, beany and warm scent. This coffee far exceeds the standard hotel-issue bags that are stocked in the rooms. I imagine the steaming cups are of an exotic brew, possible from the deli next door to the hotel, where everything is fresh and delicious. The person who carried two cups (because the aroma was so strong) up to their room, perhaps will share this rich warming elixir with their loved one, on this chilly autumn day…hopefully.

Number 3:  Super sweaty body odor. It was Sunday afternoon, on the day of the famous New York City Marathon. I had just finished a morning of some light shopping and lunch, and decided to stow my bag from Sephora in my room, and grab my laptop for a writing session in the beautiful Rose Main Reading Room in the New York Public Library (one of my favorite places in NYC). I stepped into the elevator and was hit with this thick humid and acrid decomposing-ish odor.

My mind flashed to marathon footage I’ve seen of people who stumble and flop across the finish line like rag dolls because their bodies were giving out. While I admire the discipline and physical stamina of people who choose to run marathons, the stench their weary bodies leave behind nearly made me lose my turkey and cranberry sandwich on artisan bread.

In my effort to try to always remain positive, I imagine a victorious runner wrapped in the mylar-like blanket knotted at the neck like a metallic superhero cape, with the shiny metal draped around his/her neck, taking the elevator (what, not the stairs?) to their room to take a long, hot Silkwood-scrubbing-scene shower…hopefully.

Even in light of strange odors, new experiences in a town or region where you don’t live are invaluable. Some place or situation I have experienced somewhere is good fodder for fiction writing, and fills novels with life-like situations. And providing interesting and entertaining writing for my readers is important to me. In my latest novel in progress, the lead protagonist experienced a similar spiritual encounter I had in St. Ludwig’s Church in West Berlin, Germany.

So I find joy in all the challenges that arrive in traveling, even when confronted with the strange and sometimes sickening elevator odors.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Question of Comfort

I love to be comfortable. “Lounge wear,” as Old Navy calls it consisting of t-shirts a stylish stretch pants, and bare feet are my uniform for my work-at-home career in writing. When I watch episodes of Mad Men on Netflix, I cringe in astonishment at how uncomfortable women must have been back in the 50’s and early 60’s when they dressed in girdles and heels all day.

 More than my clothing, I like the comfort of being well rested. I like the clear mind that a full night of sleep brings. Being a full-time writer affords me the ability to alter my schedule to get my much valued sleep. That is, until a few days ago when I decided I had been sans dog for long enough and it was time to get a puppy.

An eight-week-old chocolate-colored, four-legged, needle-toothed, ball of energy has taken over my life and transformed me into a light-headed comprehension-impaired zombie since I have been only getting 3-4 hours a night of sleep.

Did I pray about the major decision to get a puppy? Yes, a lot. I proceeded cautiously seeking God’s permission the whole way.

After the first night of staggering out the backdoor with a little puppy hopping happily behind me, I was so tired, I was sure I was going to be sick. I was beyond uncomfortable. I was miserable.
Did I hear God wrong? I felt like I had made a huge mistake. I was so tired I couldn’t get any writing done, music or prose. By the fourth night, I was seriously entertaining the thought of putting an ad in the paper:  “Chocolate Lab puppy for sale by sleepless owner.”
 I’ve raised puppies before, so I knew what I was getting into when I purchased the pup. I knew about taking the pup out for potty breaks in the middle of the night. So why was it so different this time? Why was I so miserable? So stressed-out and lacking in patience?
Lacking in patience. That phrase caused me to pause. Patience is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Had I coveted my comfort so much that I was not able to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit to the depth that He desired? I’m thinking yes, I did. I pondered this thought as I waited under the moonlight at 3:33 AM while the puppy bounded happily around my backyard instead of doing her business.
Did God give His blessing for me to get a puppy knowing it was a good opportunity to clean out my selfish pursuit of perfect restfulness? I’m thinking yes, He did. His blessing also created a situation where I need to daily press into and rely even more on God to get through the day. He emptied me physically so I could be filled spiritually.
One of my favorite Bible verses says, “’not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord God Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). I’m living in that verse, even now as I type these thoughts with a second cup of coffee next me and bigger-than-carry-on-size bags under my eyes.
One day little Abby will outgrow her puppy-ness. She will be an adult dog and she will use the doggie door on her own while I get a little more sleep. But for now, not only will she be a loving pet sleeping beside me while I write (as she is now), but she will always be an instrument of teaching and blessing from God to me.