guest post

A Body in Prayer: A Guest Post by Neil Combs

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Neil Combs.

Neil Combs

Why Write A Body in Prayer?

Prayer. What is it, really? Am I doing it right? Am I doing it enough? Do I pray with just my words, or can I pray through my actions? These were just some of the questions I was asking about 5 or 6 years ago. I was still a fairly new Catholic and I was struggling with prayer. I recalled the verses in the Bible that said “…pray always…” (Luke 18:1) and “…pray continually…” (1 Thes 5:16) but I could barely find the time to say a morning and night prayer. I did a lot of soul-searching at that time, but more importantly, I did a lot of information searching; books–The Catechism of the Catholic Church, CDs, and Scripture–to find out what I could about prayer.

What began as a personal quest for a better prayer life became something I never would have expected… a book. See, I wasn’t an author, I was just a pharmacist who had an idea and insights I wanted to share. I started by sharing it with a men’s group I belong to. They encouraged me to write it down, and a journal slowly became a book. As I shared more, I realized there were a lot more people like me who wanted a better prayer life but just didn’t know how to get there.

A Body in Prayer first defines prayer, and then it helps to identify and break down the common barriers to prayer, like the ever popular “I just don’t have enough time to pray!” But then it talks about the many different ways we can pray. You see, I always thought of prayer as talking to God, but in reality, it is so much more. It’s a conversation between two people in a relationship, and if you think of your own relationships, you know much can be said without a word being spoken. My wife has always said “actions speak louder than words,” and the same is true in prayer, maybe even more so, because God sees all our actions!

It was that realization, that by including Christ in all the daily activities of life, I could pray more and pray better. I could use my whole body to pray, by focusing everything I did (work, fasting, or appreciating a sunset) on God. Suddenly my actions could say more than my occasional words of prayer ever did.

A Body in Prayer challenges readers’ perception of prayer, yet is written in a light, conversational style. It uses ten chapters based on body parts – hands, eyes, mouth, even stomach – to give simple, real life examples of how we can use our bodies, and our actions, to pray and truly become A Body in Prayer!

BodyInPrayerCoverNeil Combs grew up as a Lutheran, but was confirmed into the Catholic faith, along with his children, in 2004.  A Pharmacist by profession, he was drawn to working with youth, and has been involved in the Youth Ministry program at St Le’s church in Hilton, NY, where he lives with his wife, Mary. He is also an active member of the Knights of Columbus. Learn more about A Body in Prayer on Facebook.

Word Addiction! A Guest Post from Rebecca Willen

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Rebecca Willen.

I Admit It! I Have a Word Addiction.

RebeccaWillenDo you ever feel a shiver up your spine when a particular phrase of prose or poetry hits you just right?  Do you visualize conversations in your head in Times New Roman, 12 point?  Do you enjoy Bananagrams, Scrabble, and crosswords?  Do you get absurdly excited about new bookshelves?

If so, you might just be a word addict like me.  Welcome to the club!

Whenever I get the dreaded interview question “Tell me about yourself,” my answer usually involves the fact that I really like words and people.  My two loves work in tandem – words have little purpose without someone to listen or read them but find their end in the communication of truth to a receptive mind.  Likewise, communication, counsel, teaching, and so many other forms of written or spoken words help people to bond and grow.

The challenge with technology and social media is that the value of words can be lost.  Popular vocabulary is dwindling, and the beauty of a word is reduced to an arbitrary number of characters, or an attempt to catch a short attention span.  On the other hand, the myriad methods of communication, and the speed at which words can be transmitted from one person to another, allow words to gain new impact and power.

For a word addict like me, the challenge is to reinforce in my friends, my readers, and all those with whom I communicate, the truth that words are important.  Every word you use, down to its order in a sentence and the inflection of your voice, carries with it a vast array of connotations and connections.  A good writer knows how to use words to draw a reader into their story, to wring the heart and spark thoughts in the mind.  A good speaker knows how to grab the audience’s attention and keep it, while communicating important information in a way that interests and encourages retention.

As a Catholic, I have a great responsibility for the words I use.  I can, and must, try to communicate God Himself, infinite Truth, through words.  A single word misspoken can ruin another person’s image of the Church; in an apologetic conversation, a badly-used term can muddy the waters; in counsel, a wrong word can ruin a friendship.  But think of what can be done positively through words!  Look at the great saints and writers of the Church.  They took their responsibility seriously and gave words their greatest possible power for good.

I like to help words achieve that power, in my own little way.  Right now, that means working as a freelance proofreader and getting experience so that someday I can be an editor.  (Consider this a commercial break—I’m looking for proofreading jobs starting in September!)  And honestly, you’d be surprised how a misplaced comma or badly chosen word can mess up the message of a sentence or work.  Writing is also fun and valuable, something in which I’m trying to grow.

If you’re a word addict, writer, speaker, blogger, bibliophile, or use social media, be encouraged!  The Word has given Himself to be our aid and support.  May the Lord bless and keep you in all that you do with the words He has given.

Rebecca is a confirmed bibliophile, a word addict, and if you haven’t guessed, a bit of a nerd.  Having recently graduated from Christendom College, she’s starting out in the world as an anachronistic millennial, and retains her sanity by never leaving the apartment without a book.  She writes at Our Hearts are Restless, and works as a database analyst and freelance proofreader. Contact Rebecca.

Nostalgia: A Guest Post from John Paul Wohlschied

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, John Paul Wohlschied.

Nostalgia for the Good Old Days  

BendixMicrophoneMost of the time, when people say they feel nostalgic about a certain time period, it means that they lived during that period and miss it. Well, I’m a little different. I am very nostalgic for the period between the 30s and 50s. For a guy born in the middle 80s, this might seem strange to you. Before you call for the butterfly net and straitjacket, let me explain.

In the 30s to 50s, life was much simpler. (Except for World War II, of course.) You didn’t have to worry about keeping up-to-date with your friends’ updates on social media. You weren’t inundated with noise and entertainment everywhere you went. Phones were only capable of receiving calls. Anyone could open the hood of their car to fix or tinker with it. You were content to have four channels on your TV with real content, instead of 25 channels dedicated to the intricacies of basket weaving.

I write detective stories, and my main inspiration for those stories are the detective radio and TV shows of that era. Radio shows (such as Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Let George Do It, Barry Craig Investigator, Your Truly Johnny Dollar, Mr. Keen Tracer of Lost Persons, Nero Wolfe, and others) were fun to listen to and told great stories. Dragnet was another favorite detective show, both on radio and TV, and was responsible for the creation of realistic police procedural shows (such as CSI and Law and Order).

(Everyone from a certain age knows what this sounds means.)

If detective shows aren’t your thing, you can listen to cowboy shows (Frontier Gentleman, Lone Ranger, Have Gun Will Travel, Hopalong Cassidy, Gunsmoke, and others), or comedy (Our Miss Brooks, Amos and Andy, My Favorite Husband, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello and more).

If radio programs are not your cup of tea and you are more visual, the 30s to 50s produced some great films and TV shows, most are cleaner than today’s films thanks to the Motion Picture Production Code or Hays Code. This Code prohibited the use of profanity, drug use, sex, and willful offense to any nation, race or creed. In other words, think of Going My Way versus Kill Bill.

So, let me know if I inspired you to join me in my nostalgia or to reach for the butterfly net.

P.S. I would like to thank Erin for allowing me to write for her blog and I apologize in advance of any drop in readership I might cause.

HeadshotCloseJPWJohn Paul was born and raised in West Michigan. He attends daily Mass with his parents and brother, Michael. John Paul and his brother have served English, Latin and Polish Masses for over 17 years. John Paul has always loved to read about the saints and about the Roman Catholic Faith in general. He hopes someday to become a priest. He discovered detective stories at an early age through the magic of Old Time Radio. Since then he has devoured hundreds of hours of radio shows (such as Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Boston Blackie, Richard Diamond and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) and mystery stories. With all this knowledge, he decided to take a crack at recreating those hard-boiled stories of yesteryear. Someday he plans to expand into scifi and westerns.

Safety and Forgiveness: A Guest Post from Karina Fabian

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s hear from today’s guest, Karina Fabian, author of the Mind Over Trilogy (among much else).   

Mind Over Trilogy 160

Safety and Forgiveness

Have you ever struggled with forgiving someone, especially someone you love or who is close to you? It’s a difficult issue, especially when we believe we should do as Christ said and forgive seventy-times-seven times if need be.

MindOverAllAs often happens in my fiction, my characters explore issues I didn’t really think about at the time, but looking back, they have insights I can learn from. Case in point: in my latest novel, Mind Over All, the two supporting characters, Joshua and Sachiko, are on the verge of breaking off their engagement. Long before they met, Sachiko had had an abortion at the behest of her lover at the time. It was a wake-up call for her, making her dump the guy and change her life so that she became the kind of woman Joshua would fall in love with, but she never told him about the abortion. When they first met, he was still reeling from the fact that his own girlfriend had destroyed their baby without ever telling him she was pregnant.

By the time of the third book, they’ve been engaged for four years, and he’s forgiven his ex-girlfriend and even enlisted her help campaigning for a father’s right to know. Meanwhile, Sachiko still hadn’t told him. She kept waiting for the right time, kept stalling, and finally Joshua found out from someone else at possibly the worst time ever. Of course, now that the cat was out of the bag, she’s horribly sorry she never told him and wants to apologize and talk about it, but he won’t listen. He’s afraid to forgive her.

Why? It comes down to safety.

Even though Joshua was working with his ex, their romance was over. He knew she’d never be able to hurt him again the way she had. He knows how she thinks and how she works in a business situation, so he knows he can protect himself. Despite the pain she caused him, he can put it in the past because he feels safe. Thus, it’s easy for him to forgive her.

With Sachiko, the situation is different. He loves her, want to spend his life with her, and have as many children as possible. She said she feels the same way, yet she never told him this secret of her past (though he was very upfront about his). Plus, she’s put off the wedding date numerous times because she wanted to finish her medical internship. What if she gets pregnant at what she thinks is an inconvenient time in her career? She’s already has one abortion and has kept secrets from him. No matter how much he loves her and wants to trust her, he doesn’t feel secure in her. Thus, forgiveness is hard.

Joshua is lucky, He didn’t know the key element of Sachiko’s abortion: her lover at the time was a master manipulator, and Joshua knew him. (Another reason she never said anything.) Since Josh had seen this man in action and knew how well he could twist people’s minds, he was able to look at Sachiko’s situation with new eyes. Now, Joshua was open to her remorse, and he knew that with him, she’d never be in that situation again. Plus, he could see how she’d changed from the woman under Malachai’s spell into the woman he loved.  Once he was able to make that leap, he was able to talk to her and forgive, and they set a wedding date (the wedding happens in Hearts Over Mind.)

It’s easier to forgive people when you feel safe, which is part of why it’s easier to forgive someone you don’t see often or who no longer has an influence on your life. God, however, expects us to forgive everyone, even those who may hurt us again.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean we have to be martyrs. With few exceptions, which have to do with standing up for our faith, God does not expect us to knowingly put ourselves in danger. Forgiveness does not mean becoming a willing victim of a sinner. Find a way to make yourself safe. Not only will you make your life easier, but you will find it easier to forgive.
Incidentally, lest you think the Mind Over trilogy is all about relationship issues, let me reassure you. You will find sword fighting, talking animals, dangerous lunatics, aliens, and crashing planets. I hope you’ll check out the trilogy.

Karina Fabian headshot Aug 2013By day, Karina Fabian is a mild-mannered reviewer of business software and services for TopTenReviews.com. After hours, she’s a psychic intent on saving the world; a snarky dragon who thinks he saves the world all-too regularly, a zombie exterminator who just wants her world clear of undead vermin, and nuns whose callings have taken them off our world. Needless to say, her imagination is vast, her stories legion, and her brain crowded. When she’s not converting her wild tales to stories, she’s enjoying time with her husband, Rob, their four kids, and their two dogs.

 Find Karina: Website + on Facebook + on Twitter + on Google+

Here’s who’s watering my plants while I’m away.

Wait, you didn’t know I was going away, did you?  I’m going away.

10DontWannaGo

Seriously, I don’t.  And that’s why I must.  I’m just taking a couple of months off so I can, hopefully, DEAR GOD PLEASE HELP MEEEEEEE!!!! finish the sequel to Don’t You Forget About Me.

In that time, I’ll be starting a newsletter.  So if you want the totally, top secret, exclusive scoop on what I’m doing while on blogging hiatus, sign up here for EMC Reader: The Newsletter of Author Erin McCole Cupp.

SubscribeFormHeader

Thanks to Cristina of FaithfullySocial.com for the logo design.

Also in the meantime, I’ve picked around and recruited a few friends to keep the place in shape while I’m writing, you know, actual fiction.  They’ll be scooping the litter pan, feeding the fish… and here’s where I admit I spent too many minutes searching for a GIF of Scully saying, “That would be bad for the fish.”

So here are some of the neighbors who will be dropping by. I’m letting you know so if you see some stranger unlocking the door, you don’t freak out and call the police.

MulderAtDoor

See, I wouldn’t leave my Tomato Pie Fans without anything to enjoy while I cooked up a little something new.  See you in a couple of months! Please pray that I can finish this draft.  This is proving a very difficult book to write. The good news?

quote-Samuel-Johnson-what-is-written-without-effort-is-in-109386_3