Well, the final manuscript of Asher of the Angelmen is with the publisher now, so it won't be long until the book itself is released! Until that time I will let you get started for free!
Below is the Preface to Asher of the Angelmen. Next week's blog post will contain "Chapter One: The Stranger."
So, please enjoy this tiny little morsel of Amity of the Angelmen's paraquel.
A very old-looking, yellowish paper was slipped onto the man's desk. The soldier who brought it couldn't help being intimidated in the presence of such power, and he stepped back quickly as bony fingers raised the page to examine it.
“These are the first four, then?” The yellow eyes lifted from the paper and bore an imaginary hole with his evil gaze into face of the soldier at his desk.
“Yes, sir,” he answered, still unable to meet the eyes of the man behind the desk. “Our spies have come upon no others. The source of spiritual energy is centered around these four.”
The soldier gained some confidence, knowing the information he presented was accurate. The man sensed that confidence and felt the need to squash it to prove his dominance.
“These four are too young. I would hope my enemy would not be so stupid. Children? One of them is even female. Surely I am not so underestimated.”
He succeeded; the minion shrunk back, defending himself and his information from a position recoiled. “But their powers are great, sir, and will multiply in the presence of the others. Energy detectors around them have confirmed that these are the leaders.”
The man stood. “If this is the best they have to offer, I will enjoy flaunting my power over them and taking back what is mine with ease.”
“Where should I tell them to begin, sir?”
The man looked at the paper. “This one is obvious. Pride will make his flaws the easiest to subdue. We only need to bring down one. If the four do not all meet, we have won before we have even begun. That should require very little effort. Is that something your squadron can manage?”
“With ease, sir.”
Pacing carefully to the front of the desk, coming closer to the soldier, the man answered, “Good. For this one, you will only require one female. Bring down first the angelman they call Asher.”
He returned to his seat behind the desk, storing this new information, the discovery of the angelmen leaders, in his brain so that he could mold it into a plan and use it.
“Yes, sir.” The soldier nearly sighed in relief of retaining his life at the exit of the brief meeting with the powerful one.
“Yes, sir?” asked a worried warrior.
“Let's send a message about the power of our army. Annihilate him, then the others.” He made his point clear by crumpling the paper into a ball in his hand. After a tight squeeze, the ball burst into flame before quickly extinguishing itself. The ashes drifted onto the desk.
“It will be done, sir.” The soldier was happy to carry the order out on the angelman, and glad it would not be done to him.
Just for a few hours, anyway.
The past few weeks, my 6-year old has needed me by her side more and more. School will be starting soon, and as excited as she is about it, I think she wants to have as much of me as she can cram into these last days.
But when she sits with me, she needs to sit next to me on my not-to-wide-or-spacious one-person chair. Not ON my lap, but next to me. I have cats that do this too. Not ON me, but NEXT TO me. What is that all about?
Anyway, as I often explain, I do love my children. But summer is hard. The post you are reading will have taken me the three days to write. Because I will have had to stop to read directions to the 6-year-old, explain a parenting decision or comfort a friend dispute for the 11- year-old, and monitor the screen time of the 9-year-old all before dinner. The words that I will be writing will come and go through my brain, and if they get lost, I will sit, unproductively searching for them for way too long.
Those are all important things which need to be done. However, I do have a regular job, and a writing career, which do not stop for summer vacation. I love both of those endeavors, and they do not NORMALLY take up too much of my time, but time interrupted becomes at least triple the time each would take when there are no distractions.
I love and enjoy having my child on my lap, so before you tell me not to take it for granted, please know that I do, indeed treasure time with my kids.
I just treasure it more when it is ALL the time.
During the school year, the background noise of the TV is gone. The cats do not ask me which day I will be washing light laundry. And the train of thought has two stations - Departure and Arrival.
Are you cringing at the inhumanity of my fantasy?
Are your fingers poised above the comment section, ready to remind me that God has called me first to be His child, then to be a wife, then to be a mother, and everything after that is bonus?
You aren't commenting because you know I know that, don't you?
I am a work-at-home mom, and so often criticized for not spending more time with my children when I have the luxury of being at home with them. But if I were away at work, would people be asking me why I am not home taking care of my children? (Possibly, but less than I am asked when I am working at home). And does ANYONE ever ask a stay-at-home mom why she isn't out earning a living? (Besides herself, of course. She is asking that all the time.)
No one seems satisfied these days with what the "proper" place for a woman should be. Seventy years ago, there was no question that a woman would stay home and spend her day on household chores while raising her children. (Though, I do not recall seeing June Cleaver sitting down to go over math facts with her boys.)
Then, in the 1980's, the only women who were taken seriously were the ones in shoulder-padded suits working 9 to 5. They gave us kids a key to the house and told us to start our own dinner if they were going to be late. And we better make sure our homework was done.
So, we latch-key kids grew up, knowing how to be self-sufficient. Our children are then born helpless, and we don't know what to do with that. So we teach them how to be independent and wait for society to come down on us for neglecting them.
I bring my laptop to soccer practice so I can do my writing, editing, or other work. This has become a joke to many. So I feel guilty for letting my child down because I am not the one on the field coaching.
It becomes the case of not getting it all done well, or getting it all done much later than it should have been done. All of what needs to get done DOES get done. The house gets clean, the kids are fed, and work is done too. And I promise the kids are loved. Just not smothered. (Don't take that wrong. Some kids like to be smothered, and as long as you are smothering with love, it's all good.)
So I don't coach my kid's soccer team. But I do go in to help out at school once a week. It's less than a lot of other moms do, but more than some others. I don't want to judge anyone by the number of hours they put in anywhere.
I want to do my best. Everywhere. If the kids are at school (a place that they LOVE, by the way), they are getting the 100% attention of the teacher, because she is doing her job. Who is asking why that teacher is not at home with her own kids instead of being out working? Not me. Thank you, teachers, for taking good care of my children!
I, on the other hand, am home concentrating fully on my work during the school year, to get it done so that when the kids and husband DO get home, I can concentrate on making dinner, running to soccer practice, going to church, or maybe playing a game of Uno with my son. I can give my full attention, because my work is done. During the summer, it isn't that easy. So I get stressed, and less gets done.
But bear with me, because September is around the corner. Books will be written, work will be done, floors will be clean, and doggonit, hot meals will be on the table. Feel the love!
A satisfying place to be.
What's the biggest argument we get when we tell our kids "no"?
"But _____ is allowed." (insert your child's whiny voice and their classmate's name).
Even the most determined of us will crack sometimes when we find out it's true. Every child in your daughter's class DOES indeed have an instagram account/iPod/cell phone of their own.
Do they need all this adult stuff? They are, after all, kids. There are some exceptions, I'm sure. And I know a lot of kids whose parents had good reasons to give them a cell phone. But, I have yet to hear a good reason for kids under the age of 13 to have a social media account, when the age limit on all social media clearly states that the user must be at least 13 years old. The first thing he would have to do to get his account is lie about his age. Has anything good ever happened from lying about one's age?
I'm not sorry if I sound like a wet blanket. I'm sure plenty of people are going to think I've taken this too far. Fine. You don't have to agree, join me, or even comment. But I would like to see a majority of parents lean in a more conservative direction to save our kids from growing up too fast. If you don't agree, you don't have to. But your kids will no longer be an influence on mine.
So, I came up with a simple starter list that we parents can use as a standard to cling to. A list I will hold my kids to, despite what "everyone else is doing." Here's my list. Join me!
a. Immodest clothing - Why, oh why, would we want to draw attention to our daughter's bodies by revealing them to everyone on the street? No one in our house is allowed to wear a bikini or a shirt short enough to reveal a belly, but I would propose a guideline that puts this revealing clothing off limits to our kids aged 4-18. (Under age 4, bikinis really are more convenient for diaper changing and potty training, and after age 18, she can make her own choices.)
b. Name Brands - I don't mean to run any company out of business. But some companies don't have our wallets in mind (especially those of us with several children). Let's leave the name brands to those who can afford them. The rest of us will take the knock-offs!
2. Soda/Junk Food:
a. Soda- My kids are only allowed to have soda on special occasions. That doesn't have to apply to everyone, but may I ask what need any child has to drink soda? What if everyone stuck to the guideline of "only for special occasions?"
b. Junk food - Dessert food only for dessert, not for a snack.
a. Social Media- NO social media accounts for kids under the age 13. (It's the rule anyway!) Here's my reason, besides it not being necessary. First, we are all aware of online predators, lying about who they are to take advantage of kids. They befriend our children, who just aren't mature enough to know any better. No matter how tuned into the world they are, kids still lack the maturity to realize that even adults who seem nice might have bad intentions.
OK, so my child's argument is that she would only friend people she knows. As we know, a lot of context can be lost in a text conversation and our kids, who are naturally self-centered, can assume their friends mean something worse about them than they actually do. Do we need more drama, invading our peaceful home base? No. Let's let the home be a place where parents can help to solve conflict, not where uninvited guests online could possibly make this circus never-ending.
b. Cell Phones - The rule in our house is that you don't need a cell phone before you are old enough to drive. As my oldest becomes old enough to babysit, however, I am considering letting her use mine when she babysits. However, she will not have one of her own until she is driving.
c. "The latest electronic gear" - (be this the next gaming device, the next iPod, or whatever!) We, in our family, are very slow about making sure our kids have the latest thing. We did get a Wii for our kids and several games that encourage movement. (Since then, I admit, we have accumulated many games that do not require much movement.) Other than that, our kids each have one device of their own (with limited amounts of time). And they better be happy with them, because we do not plan to let them upgrade until what they have is completely obsolete. (They still enjoy the Leapsters from preschool days.) In our belief (mine and my husband's, mind you, not the kids'), they do not even really need the electronics that they have, but it does make long car trips a little easier.
d. TV time - I think 2 hours a day is more than enough, don't you? (Of course exceptions can be made here for a special program that is longer. That's not being inconsistent if you are talking about one program that is longer than normal ones. That's TV being inconsistent.)
e. TV's (etc.) in the bedroom - If a child has access to TV, DVD, or the internet in the privacy of their room, parents can't monitor what they are watching. Kids don't really need that temptation to disobey by watching what they might not be allowed to watch.
4. Bed time:
a. I understand bedtimes can vary with children, based on how early or late they can wake up. But, since sleep is necessary for health's sake, let's agree to let our children between the ages of 6-12 have a bed time that relates to about 10 hours of sleep. (As recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.) That would mean, if your child gets up at 7:00 in the morning, they should have a bed time (meaning, in bed, with lights out) no later than 9:00 p.m.
b. Younger kids should have more, teens might need less.
a. Can we stick with the guidelines? Kids under the age of 13 not watch PG-13 movies and under 17 not watch rated R movies? Our family goes a little tighter than this and reviews movies ahead of time for content, but I'd be happy if the general public stuck with recommendation.
There are probably exceptions to everything above. Some doctor, somewhere, may have told a parent to make sure their child gets plenty of soda each day. And maybe the visually deprived children out there require a TV on in their room all day. But, I would say for most of us, these guidelines are do-able. It may take some work or back tracking, but we can get our kids back.
I'm asking you, parents, to comment below to let us know that you're in on our commitment. If you recommend changes to the list, or only agree to part of it, fine. Note it in the comments. But let's take a stand! (And remember, it won't work if we don't stay CONSISTENT!)
Our old answer of, "If _____ jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?" isn't going to work in this generation raised on sarcasm and competing to be class clown. You know they all will answer, "Yes, of course I would. And I'll bring you too."
So now, when our kids give us, "But _____ is allowed...," we can come right back with THIS list of so-and-so's who are NOT allowed. Maybe they will feel less lonely.
And before we know it, we'll be sitting in our retirement homes, being served by a more responsible generation.
Passion Under Grace,