The Price of Love

“But I don’t understand!”

I can’t tell you how many times that thought went through my head when I was sitting at the back of a classroom as a kid, and even now when I’m “adulting”. When you have Asperger’s Syndrome you can be brilliantly smart, yet also have a very hard time learning.

I didn’t know I was an Aspie back then. Heck, I didn’t even find out until a few years ago (I’m in my 30s now). I only knew I was different, and quickly realized that in order to mask the struggle, I’d have to figure out what worked for me.

School was a place with teachers supplying the material and the means for how most students went about solving a problem or structuring a sentence, blah, blah, blah. While that was happening, my mind was hard at work on the cluttered mass of puzzle pieces someone dumped on my desk. We all knew the teacher was likely to call on someone at some point. Putting those pieces together was like manic panic, a race to put the same picture together as the rest of the class so that I didn’t humiliate myself when, and if, she called on me. Sometimes, I nailed it; most times the latter was true.

I thought I was different and awkward and screwed up because of my home life. I was and wasn’t. There were a lot of factors against me and my perception of love and acceptance, failure and success. A life where love was freely given was my idea of success; where I could be accepted and loved for who I awkwardly was. I was always trying to pick apart and understand the minds of my peers, why they did things they did, and how they saw me. Could they see my effort to seem normal? I know they did. My insecurity made things worse. Could they see that I was hiding terrible secrets while pretending I had the luxury of growing up in a family that didn’t hurt each other with their friends who didn’t touch inappropriately?

They were normal to me because they didn’t have those things against them. Without realizing, I’d drawn a line between them and me, building walls.

The first time anything came naturally to me, was when I had kids of my own. Being a mother was a silent conversation between us I found fluency in. Each of my newborn babies loved and looked to me with unconditional love and trust; something I was determined they’d never have to feel the pain of losing or paying a price for. Love should be as freely given to them as they naturally gave the moment our eyes met.

As for me, I’ve found that love outside of my children (and my step daughter) isn’t so natural to accept at all. I have the best freak’n husband, and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve known bad relationships. Which is why when my fantastic, gentle, genuine man tells me he loves me, I think there must always be some sort of trick. We’ve been together for years, and he’s never given me reason to doubt him. The opposite, in fact.

A hurt person doesn’t accept love freely. No matter how positive I strive to be, I will always be a haunted and scarred version of who I was born to be. I’m skeptical when someone is kind. I have to find a quiet place to try and pick apart why he told me he loved me. Why he did this nice thing or bought me that. Couldn’t possibly be because he REALLY LOVES ME?! Because these doubts and fears keep me from receiving his love, does that make my husband’s love or words any less true? Hell no. However, my lack of self-esteem makes for a frustrating companionship, when in reality, I have love like you read about in novels and dream of. The hardest part is acceptance.

Here’s why.

According to victimsofcrime.org, 1 in every 5 girls, and 1 in every 20 boys are victims of childhood sexual abuse. Three quarters of those were victimized by someone they knew.

Thehotline.org states that on average 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. That’s 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men in their lifetime who have had these experiences.

Naasca.org estimates that 1 in every 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys, WILL BE sexually abused before the age of 18. That equates to one fifth of America’s youth and 20-25% of the population! Between two thirds and 90% (including me) never tell! Don’t even get me started on how 1 in every 3 is exposed to unwanted sexual material.

For more stats, you can visit any of these sites I’ve hyperlinked, but you can see the damage in person through the loss of connection and compassion in today’s youth and society. What this ultimately says to me is that millions of men, women, and children are paying a steep price for love, whether they are being compliant to the wishes of someone’s selfish, perverted desires, or some bully holding them hostage in their own lives. When you consider that around 30% of victims will go on to victimize others? Ugh.

We live in a society that once preached free love but went on to cross boundaries and love freely whomever they wanted, including children! Hypocrisy at the most dangerous and damaging, so should we be surprised when someone shares the sacrifice of Jesus, (yes, here’s the spiritual part) love without a hidden price to pay is almost absurd to imagine?

“Okay, but I don’t understand! What does he want from me? What’s the catch? How much money do I have to give? Will this require fellowship with people I feel out of place with? Will they single me out? Lay hands on me and say a bunch of words interrupted by a crap ton of ‘father Gods’ or ‘Lord Jesuses’ over and over? How many Hail Mary’s do I have to say to be accepted and loved? What’s in it for me? What does it cost???

The answer is: nothing. Jesus’ love is free to you if you want love without penalty. The only requirement is for you to accept the only free love you can ever know. Christ won’t hurt you. People do. Ever read the passage in Corinthians on love? Yep. That’s for you. For free. Unlike anything humans produce. Look to anyone who ever a had a cult following in Jesus’ name, and you’ll find sociopaths who hopped on the back of a message they could use in order to trick the most vulnerable for their sick benefit. Jesus didn’t do that. The disgusting human did.

More on discerning between a predatory proselytizer and the true preachers of the Lord Yeshua needs to be discussed in a further blog post. I can say that Jesus said, “you will know them by their fruit.”

Proverbs straight up lists the detestable things God hates including a lying tongue and a heart that devises wicked schemes, both of which are necessary to trick people into following a wicked person.

That in mind, if someone hands me this beautiful present, and I have no idea who they are? Sorry, I’m gonna have to pass. That’s dangerous. Well played, Satan. I can’t accept candy or kindness from strangers these days, don’tcha know!

Why Jesus is a stranger to you or anyone else is another topic for another day, because I’ve gotten way longer than intended already. Sorry, not sorry, but if you’d like to know who offers the gift, or died in his love for you as if you were the only human ever made, click his name or watch here https://vimeo.com/404001307.

The gift is free and safe. There aren’t any rituals or gimmicks required to open the present. You can puzzle over the offering, ask questions, pick apart the reasons love like that doesn’t make sense the way I spoke of waaaay up there in the beginning of this. Caution is a good thing, and you have a right to be after what you’ve been through. You don’t have to understand why this is free or why a spiritual being would take on the form of a human, confining himself to Earthen weaknesses and limitations. You don’t have to understand why he would choose to walk among the living just to die an unspeakable death so you could be saved. I’ve been a Christian since childhood and I didn’t understand the sacrifice or depth until I was left with nothing of myself. My point, you aren’t required to understand, because that comes in time. You don’t have to believe you are loved to make love true. Truth is such whether you believe or not. Skepticism is okay.

You don’t even have to open the gift. You can leave the package on your doorstep, push the plain wrapping away with a stick to keep a safe distance. Watch the box to make sure there isn’t a bomb or some sort of chemical inside that’s gonna hurt you. Just realize the gift exists and is available when you’re ready to open and receive what’s inside. You may find some healing powers in there! =D

But wait! There’s more! Act in the next five minutes, and we’ll throw in as many additional gifts as you like for your friends and family! 😛

Couldn’t resist. If you’ve made it this far, you’re a trooper! Have a blessed day, this was for you.

You Mentioned What?!

Recently, I received a one star negative review from a reader who felt my dumb protagonist had stooped too low. This reader admitted they quit the book halfway through, therefore had no way of knowing the resolution. In a past writer’s life, their words may have devastated me, however I now learn from every review rather than allow myself to doubt my mission. After all, I’d written the exact actions of my characters knowing they would offend but staying true to their nature.

What was so offensive, you may wonder, unless you’d read the review already?

My character, Kinsley, was talked into sleeping with two men at once.

Gasp! Hand slapping over mouth! Eyes wide! “But you’re a Christian! How could you write something so secular? You should be ashamed!”

Yup. But it wasn’t the fact that she slept with two men. The mention of God afterward was the offensive part, because God has no place in something so debauched or offensive. Why did I write that situation into the book?

Because part of the challenge for Kinsley is that she herself is a Christian, so her morality and faith is being truly tested for the first time. The men in her life don’t care so much, but for a character of faith, or a believer in real life, this is the truth trial we face.

Once upon a time I wrote erotica. The era was Fifty Shades of Grey. A group of my mommy friends were raving about the story, so I read the series and challenged myself to surpass the scandalous situations in the books. After all, no one else was affected by what I was reading. No one could see through my Kindle. Just me and the book. Wrong. What goes in is what comes out. I used the erotica as an aphrodisiac in a failing marriage and during postpartum depression. The stimulation masked my ability to see the issues turning me off as something needing immediate addressing, however instead of proactively working on these issues, I hid in reading situations that made mine not seems as unhealthy as intuition was trying to tell me.

I’d never written a book before, but I was tired of reading the same ol’ weak females. After all, in real life I’d known plenty of strong women who’d also been talked into awful regrets.

I wrote what ended up being my first Don’t Close Your Eyes Series. In that series, Kinsley gets herself into situations sexual temptations pulled her into. While this time around I am rewriting for a less pornographic audience (after all, I still love a great romance scene without debauched terminology) I cannot leave out the same pitfalls she fell into in the original. I fade to black where I can, but sex happens in real life. I’ve learned grace with words compared to before and every word I am acutely aware I will answer for at some point, whereas last time around I wasn’t in a healthy frame of mind or relationship.

How could I mention God after such a situation? How dare I?

This is exactly what a sinner is thinking after they’ve sinned and fallen from grace, they think God has no place in their lives anymore, so they walk away. They don’t know how to fix what they’ve done to atone. People who find out condemn their actions and shun them rather than finding out and praying for their fallen brother or sister to see the truth in what we CHRISTians claim to believe. The sacrifice of Jesus (Yeshua) for our sins and the ability to ask forgiveness and repent. If God doesn’t have a place with sinners after sin, then what are we believing, those of us who do?

In God’s eyes all sin is equal, with the exception of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and all men have fallen short of His glory. Sin is sin. Prayer and repentance are the answer. Not pushing God away from a bad act, but pulling Him closer for healing and help. The gross feeling of falling from grace is where the repentance comes from.

To those I may offend further by writing real acts of people I know or have known through fallible characters, including myself, I’m sorry for offending, but remember not all are fortunate enough to have never been preyed upon during weakness. Not all of us have been strong enough to walk away when wanting to be liked or under pressure. I write the fallibility of humans in dark places and situations, their struggles, even the ones who resent or hate Christians because I’ve walked through each of the phases and don’t like pretending the bad sides aren’t real.

I don’t mind the offense. I don’t mind if a reader stops reading because it wasn’t the story for them. I don’t mind the criticism, in fact it’s a building block. Now you know why I have the audacity to write what offends.

What is the dark side of light?

The dark side of light is my way of saying that I am what you’d call a controversial Christian. I have repeatedly been told I have an intriguing dichotomy in that I don’t come off the way most Christians do: holy roller, Bible thumper, wholesome. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t frustrating that I apparently have a certain image to uphold. The truth is, I’m human. I’ve endured an early childhood of sexual abuse, divorce, and domestic violence. I’ve seen the darkest sides of those who portray themselves as light and holy, and I hate the hypocrisy both inside and outside of churches.

Therefore, welcome to the Dark Side of Light: my refusal to pretend to be anything other than who I am. I love Jesus. I’m bipartisan, but do not care to discuss politics or contribute to the hatred and unnecessary BS that makes up the U.S. Quite frankly, I believe in right and wrong, but also that there are some gray areas.

I also write novels and stories about the hypocrisy and dichotomy of characters who believe the misconceptions they paint themselves with. We live in a dark world, and there are pretty bright happy spots. I will blog about both, I won’t shy away from using scripture where I feel led to, and I will not make apologies for standing firm in the effed up mess God loves me as. Chances are, you are also an effed up mess or pretending you don’t feel like it from time to time. Welcome. Jesus loves you 😉 =D =P. True story.

The Hypnotic World of DCYE

After trips to my local B&N and BAM stores seeking the right balance of mysterious intrigue and noir romance, I left empty-handed and irritated. Nothing quite captured my imagination. I’d find mystery and suspense, but no romance. I’d find steamy dangerous alpha males, but paranormal. Where to find human alphas, powerful females, romance and crime in one place?  Where was the cure for what the repressed reader inside me was seeking?

There’d been another time I’d asked that question. Years ago. The Don’t Close Your Eyes series was born from my frustration as a reader tired of devouring paranormal serials to get that dangerous romance fix. I was tired of predictable plots and mysteries I solved before being halfway through a book. In short, I longed for intrigue and complexity that I could believe. I wanted twists and turns so great, even I, a reading detective, couldn’t predict, but that would also be a joy to read. An adventure with flawed characters I could admire but didn’t always love. Realistic yet superhuman in their endeavors and abilities to overcome obstacles.

Rather than throw a frustrated tantrum, I had an impulse I’d been running from as a scorned author avoiding a life she’d been forced to walk away from. Instead of turning on the TV for an escape, I grabbed my Kindle instead.

For the first time in years, I thumbed through my unpublished series while the rain poured outside the window. Every invitation was there. Klive and Kinsley sucked me into a world I thought I’d put away forever after intense stalking and life issues from my previous stint as an author forced me into hiding.

I’m not an idiot. I’d written the story for my reading mind. MINE. I’d never intended to share. DCYE was a fun suspenseful romance. Mysterious and steamy.

Others fell in love, too, but after I left the publishing world, pulled all my manuscripts, erased my presence, I put my effort into earning a copy editing certification. I devoted years to learning what I hadn’t known when I’d initially written the series. With new eyes, I expected to cringe with disgust upon opening the manuscripts for the first time in years. I was facing a great fear of failure.

Five books later, I’m cringing only at grammatical errors and common mistakes, yet sucked into this hypnotic underworld of a story that seems so real, you come out of the pages and remind yourself that – oh, yeah, there’s life out there. The content was great, even if gratuitous erotica needed toning down to romance or cut entirely.

The original plot is there. The updated version contains new supporting cast and situations blending with the familiar. I’ve raised the bar on character traits, redeemed previously shallow ambitions, crafted dynamic elements into an actual setting I know, love, and have lived in.

Writing the new/revised version is as much fun as reading for the first time.

Once upon a time, I was defined as prolific by my writing peers. For years, however, the scars of life blocked my creativity. Now, the time is right. The block is gone. I am prolific and healed once more. Overall, very blessed and enjoying every minute of the craft again.

Between Jase, Klive and Kinsley, I feel like I’m coming back into the presence of old friends I’ve missed for far too long. Redemption is now.

Living Recklessly

I read something somewhere: If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing Jesus work through you.

I can’t help thinking of some of my most irresponsible friends and family members whose behavior seems anything but the responsible examples of what we are taught to be in church.

For example, my biological father has had more run-ins with the law than I (or he) can count or recall in his younger days. When I say younger, let’s be honest, he is in his fifties and his last brush was so several years ago. A great many of my childhood memories are haunted because of mistakes he made and took out on his family. We very much suffered for the sins of the father so to speak. However, he had his ‘Come to Jesus Moment’ when I was about twenty-three, and he lives by faith every single day for his basic provisions. He pressure washes homes for a living and to do so, he’s knocking on doors every day and depending on the yes, no, or cursing out of strangers to put gas in his vehicle and eat for the day. I marvel at his reports on how God provided because he really is like a bird not storing away in barns but managing to eat every single day.

I endured one of the worst legal battles concerning my children that I didn’t ask for, and my dad kept sharing stories of how even in his most disrespectful and doubting times, God came through and provided for him long before he gave his life over to the Lord. You might say God loved him even when it wasn’t reciprocal. My dad shares with me how he all but pissed on the judge’s podium in his hearing, but how afterward he was thrown in the slammer by furious cops. As he lay on the floor, a woman paused when she was walking by and asked, “Mike? Is that you?”

He looked up at the female officer and nodded. He’d washed her house only two months before while wearing an I ❤ Jesus hat. Talk about hypocrisy, but is it? When we love Jesus, does it always mean we will act just as he acted, or that our love for him is contingent on our own behavior? If we mess up, that our relationship is also screwed up?

And there you have it. No. Because Jesus is forgiveness. Beyond which I can comprehend or understand. We know how we are supposed to behave, the example we are supposed to set, but God knows we are human and we are going to screw up for the fact that we aren’t Jesus and we aren’t perfect.

The female cop got him released from jail in under one day because he’d been so nice to her at her house and had gone above and beyond in his work. At any other time, he may have looked like an out-of-control idiot who deserved to be behind bars for as long as they wanted just to get back at him for being such an asshole. Yes, I said it. Let’s call it like it is.

My father lives a reckless life at times, just as my friends who make thousands of dollars above their bills per month but seem to have a hard time paying them because of reckless spending, but when they see a need, they also fill it. They aren’t going out committing crimes or sinning away, but they definitely aren’t responsibly handling what they’ve been given for their basic provisions. They are spending it like they can’t take it with them… Hmmm… You might call them cheerful givers…

I’m fascinated by how God provides no matter their behavior. It’s almost as if Jesus and his angels are thrill-seekers and get to enjoy the rush of coming through for those who believe no matter how they’ve screwed up or how recklessly they spend, God is going to provide.

Obviously I’m not advocating an irresponsible life or abusing the Lord’s gift of forgiveness. I am saying, maybe we who have lives of our own ought to pray and love and judge the way we want to be judged, for we will be measured by the same standard we have held others to. That’s biblical.