My New Life

Every time I sit down to write, I lose courage. On the “before” side of achievement you tend to think, “If I could accomplish that, I would be confident.” But it’s a big, fat lie. I’ve written and published a novel, but to sit down and update my blog after nearly a year’s absence seems impossible.

Every transition in life changes you. And I have gone through a humdinger. Marriage does that. Not that I haven’t enjoyed it! I love being married to Jonathon. But I feel changed, nevertheless, and so it’s difficult to know what to say…what to say…

All the same, I have felt a drive to write for a couple months now, so here I am.

This last year and five months, I’ve wrapped myself in a cocoon and sort of observed and rested and basked in what life has become. There have been so many transitions. First, I moved from the North to the South, and not just to the South. I moved to the first state that seceded from the Union. People, I live just a half an hour from the first county in the first state that seceded from the Union. Just in case you wondered, the War of Northern aggression is definitely not over. Second, I went from being a half-hearted voter to being thrown into politics head first. Third, I used to teach music to forty kids. Now, I sit in on legislative sessions and watch politicians bloviate. (Except for Jonathon. He doesn’t bloviate. He says a lot of good stuff. But the bloviaters generally think he talks too much.)

Here’s Jonathon in the House, “bloviating.” It was a mighty good speech.

And fourth, I used to stay happily at home as often as I could. Being the introvert that I am, I love solitude and I’m a consummate homebody. Nevertheless, I have traveled more in this last year and a half than I have in my entire life, and that includes one very long international flight to the Philippines.

I’ve learned a lot. Before, I knew there was a lot of corruption in government and politics. Now, I see it first hand. I have learned that there is very little difference between the two major parties. They spout and fume and fuss, but underneath everything, many of the politicians representing both sides are loathe to depart from the status quo, with rare exceptions. I have also learned that the politicians on both sides are just people with hopes and dreams and faults and sins and sadness. They need accountability, yes, but they also need unconditional love just as much as their constituents who fuss and fume about “those durn, corrupt politicians!” People are people, and there are no innocents among us.

Sometimes I sit with Jonathon on the House floor and “watch the fights.” The gas tax fight was a doozy, let me tell you.

I have learned to love the South. There’s some beautiful country down here. It may be hotter than Hades most of the time, but the mockingbirds sing sweetly just the same. Its people are bull-headed and stubborn. They’re the kind of people who’ve maybe never flown a Confederate flag before, but by George, they’ll fly one just for spite if you tell them not to.  Sometimes, you just have to chuckle in admiration for bull-headed, stubborn people.

I have reaped the blessings of love. Jonathon has loved me so fully and completely, knowing all my faults and my weaknesses, that I feel I’ve grown a foot taller. Not in pride, I hope, but in confidence and freedom. Perhaps you have often wondered, as I used to, whether your friends and acquaintances would still love you and want you if they knew everything about you? If they knew your sins, your struggles, your faults, your fears? Well, it’s simply not possible to expose your inner self to every friend and acquaintance. Not possible or wise, I might add. But when a potential marriage partner comes along, you must not only let that person see you but also see deep down into you. Anything less would be dishonest. It’s terrifying. The threat of rejection is imminent. But early into our friendship, we opened ourselves to each other and saw: past ugliness, future struggles, present pain, and beautiful promise. And we both chose to love the whole person. To this day, it still amazes me. I have always known that God loved me like that, but I so often doubted that any human could. I was right. No human really can. But God can love me through the human He empowers to do so. God has given me a great gift in Jonathon. More than ever, I need the approval of people less today than I did yesterday. I am more free to love and care for people without being shocked by their darkness because I am loved and cared for in spite of mine. The best part is that the love of God is more powerful than any mere human darkness. Not only that, but it’s the only antidote. I have learned that marriage is a picture of the Gospel.

He’s a sweet man.

I have also learned not to make promises I cannot keep. So, as I close this update, I will not promise to write again in another month. The last two promises I made here were dismal failures. But I think it safe to say that I may be writing more in the coming months than I have in the last year and a half now that I’m settled in my new home and feel like marriage isn’t quite as new as it used to be.

God bless, friends.

 

Of Men and Toilets and Parental Responsibility

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Being married to a libertarian-leaning Republican member of the South Carolina House of Representatives has been an informative experience. As some of you may know, before I met Jonathon, I really hadn’t given politics much thought beyond the fact that I self-identified (sorry, I couldn’t help it) as very, very, VERY conservative. I am still conservative, but through the influence of my husband, one question has been at the top of my mind almost constantly these last four and a half months of married life. It is this: What is the role of government? More specifically, is it the government’s job to tell private business owners who they shall or shall not allow into their restrooms? A number of you will loudly proclaim that this is precisely the government’s job. Here’s another question: Is it the government’s job to tell private business owners who they shall or shall not bake a cake for? I suspect the same number of you will now disagree. But we’re dealing with the same larger issue (the role of government) only now we have an inconsistency. Before you beat me over the head with the “wedding cakes are totally different than innocent women and little girls stuck in the bathroom with a pervert” stick, please hear me out.

As my husband often says, the role of government is small, concise and to the point. The government’s job is to protect your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as outlined in the Constitution. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not the job of the government to provide your children’s education; your healthcare; your birth control; your food supply; your housing; your cell phone; religious training; vegan, paleo, or organic food options; your paid maternity leave; your gun; your sex change; money to bail you out if you default on your loan; or even bathroom facilities. All government is supposed to do is protect your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so you can go out and get all of that stuff yourself. Now, as a Christian, I have a pretty good idea which things on that list will allow for happiness and which things will lead to abject misery. However, it is still not the government’s job to protect you from the consequences of your choices.

Every act of government is, by default, an act of force. As my husband likes to say, “If you doubt that, try not paying your taxes and see what happens.” With that in mind, legislators need to be extremely careful and responsible when wielding that force, because with every act of force, you necessarily grow the government just a little bigger than it was before. When contemplating new legislation, Jonathon often asks, “Is what I am about to do, a proper use of government force?” Good or bad? Let me pose the question to you in another way: Is it a proper use of government force to prohibit a transgendered “woman” to use the lady’s restroom? If yes, then what makes it wrong for government to force businesses and schools to allow transgendered individuals to use the restroom of their choice?

I’ll put my thoughts before you plainly. It is not the government’s role to decide who goes into bathrooms or who stays out of them. It really doesn’t matter which political school of thought you approach this from. Both Republicans and Democrats have recently grown government by sticking their noses where they didn’t belong. Individual school districts are completely capable of hashing through these issues without the state or federal government getting involved. Businesses like Target have every right to decide what their bathroom policies are going to be. Their customers have every right to boycott and shop somewhere else just as other people have every right to boycott Hobby Lobby for refusing to provide certain contraceptives to their employees. But to force Target to change its policies and to force Hobby Lobby to provide those contraceptives…that’s crossing the line between legitimate and illegitimate government force.

“But!” you say, “The innocent children! This is a matter of protecting them from perverts who would take advantage of the transgender loop hole to get to vulnerable people and take advantage of them.”

That is possible, and I sympathize with your fears. I’m not yet a mother, but I can imagine how you must feel. And yet…how many little boys have been molested by adult men in public restrooms? Too many, I fear. But we aren’t in a hurry to pass legislation banning adult men from using the same restrooms as little boys. Or for that matter, banning adult women from using the same restrooms as little girls. The threat of danger is, I’m afraid, the same. So, it seems to me that the best possible solution is to accompany your young children to the restroom. Most parents are doing that anyway, these days. For grown women, I recommend a good pepper spray.

“But!” you say, “I can’t go with my kids to the bathroom at their school. What about the locker rooms? What if some teenage boy, hormones raging, decides to masquerade as transgender for a day for a good time?”

I can understand that concern, as well. As it is my brothers and sisters in Christ who are making their disapproval known the loudest, I’m going to speak specifically to you from here to the end. Why do you keep running to the government to fix a problem that’s well within your reach to solve by yourself? Here’s the thing. According to Barna, eighty-four percent of you are still sending your children to public schools, funded by the government with money the government takes from your paycheck. Understand that the government now has incredible leverage over you. It shouldn’t (but it does) send down edicts about who shall and shall not go into the bathroom with your daughters. You can’t really help that. But there is one thing you can help that I know you aren’t doing. You are still at liberty to pull your kids out of school and either homeschool them or pay their way at a private school.

“But!” you say, “That costs money! That means one of the parents will have to stay home with the kids. We won’t have two incomes! We may have to sell one of our cars, give up our swimming pool, buy clothes second-hand, get a house with cheaper payments, stop eating out so much, be reduced to beans and rice. In short, it’ll crimp our standard of living.”

To which I reply, yes. To be fair, some of you are already living frugally while you send your kids to public school. I applaud you. But if what you are saying is true, that a transgender student in your daughter’s bathroom represents a grave threat to her safety and well-being and you still won’t get her out of that environment no matter what the cost to you, then your cries of “boys in the girls’ bathroom!” fall on my deaf ears. To me, you aren’t being serious. You’re just making a lot of useless noise.

Now that I have completely alienated and angered both my liberal and conservative friends, it is time to close. There is more I could write on this topic, but much better thinkers have spilled gallons of ink on it already. If more thoughts occur to me or angry commenters demand answers to further questions, perhaps I’ll write a follow-up.

For now, I leave you with the best thought of all. Empires rise and fall, but God is still on His throne. It looks to me as if America is on the last half of it’s decline. But you know what?  God doesn’t need America. Remember that in the muck and grime of many a fallen empire, His church has shown the brighter as it got dark.

I’m Back!

It has been a long time. Last spring, I took a long break from blogging. I think I gave the excuse that I wanted to get some more book writing done. That was true. But there was another reason, too.

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Yes, there was a man involved. On December 27, I married him. I seem to have trouble doing more than four or five things well at a time. So, when I took some time off blogging, I was trying to decide whether I ought to marry Jonathon Hill, teaching 38 students, writing assignments for Union Gospel Press, working on my film script, and teaching Sunday School. As you know, I decided to marry him.

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Aren’t you glad? Of course, once I decided to marry him in September, I had to plan a wedding for December. (It was either that or wait until June, which simply would not do at all. At thirty years old, both of us felt it was high time to get on with things!) The wedding went off beautifully, thanks to God’s grace and the help of my friends and family. Wasn’t my dress pretty?

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So far, these are the only pictures I have to share. But expect I’ll have more share with you in the coming weeks. There might even be a video.

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How did we meet? Well, you can read that story here. Jonathon is in the South Carolina House of Representatives. He is in session from January to June for three days a week. I am, in fact, typing this from the house floor. He likes me to join him there from time to time to watch the proceedings. It’s interesting, though I usually have about a ten-minute struggle between my desire to be a supportive wife and my equally strong desire not to be conspicuous. During the days he’s not at the capitol, Jonathon does nerdy computer stuff.

Cora has grown quite fond of him. In fact, just this morning, she did the unheard-of . She flew from my shoulder across the room to land on Jonathon’s—not once but twice. I think he’s a winner.

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As you might have already surmised, I have moved from my lovely Michigan lake town, St. Joseph, to Jonathon’s home in Townville, SC. In fact, before I get into all that, why don’t I just tell you what has happened since my wedding. We headed off to our honeymoon (a cabin in the woods a few hours away), traveled back to St. Joseph to pack up the rest of my stuff, drove the twelve hours south to my new home, proceeded from there to Columbia for the opening of the legislative session, from there we drove to Atlanta where we barely caught our flight to San Francisco (there’s a whole blog post I could write about that). After a few days there, we flew to Japan, flew from Japan to Manila (the Philippines), then from Manila to Dumaguete where we met my brother, Justin, and his fiancé, Felis. (Oh, did I tell you that my brother also got married?)

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Nice-looking couple, aren’t they?

At that point, we hopped on a bus and bounced, jolted, and swerved for three hours to our destination on the island of Negros Oriental, Felis’ hometown of Basay. At the end of that week, Felis and Justin were wed and we began our long journey back to the states. From Dumaguete we flew to Manila, then to Guam, then to Honolulu, then to San Francisco, then to Los Angeles, then to Atlanta. (The tickets were cheap.) From there back to Townville where I promptly fell ill and laid around on the couch for the next two days. Suffice it to say that I do not intend to look at the inside of an airport or set foot on another airplane for at least a year.

I am still uncertain about how often I’ll be writing new entries. After one rather crazy month of marriage, I’m not yet sure what is a reasonable frequency. But I can say that it will be far more frequent than once every six months!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all in print as soon as I can.

Yours truly,

Amanda B….Hill, I mean

Leave of Absence

I am writing to inform you all that I am taking some time off blogging for at least the month of May. My life has hit the fast forward button and I find myself constantly searching for time to actually sit down and write. Several other writing projects are suffering as a result. Namely, my freelance work, my second novel, my second movie script, and a whole host of other writing projects. So, I’m hoping that by taking some time off, I can refocus my energies and finish at least one of the above-mentioned projects this summer. In the long run, I think you might enjoy reading a novel or watching a movie I wrote more than reading blog posts. Just a thought!

I’ll be taking May off for sure. At the end of May, I will re-evaluate and decide whether I ought to take the entire summer off.

At any rate, you can still keep up with projects I’m working on through Facebook–https://www.facebook.com/authoramandabarber!

Until next time, God bless!

Oh, Rest in the Lord

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It’s good to have Scripture memorized, and even better to have it come back to your mind through song.

I felt bone-tired on Saturday evening. I’d been going great guns all day. Truth be told, I’d been going great guns all week and I was tired in every sense of the word. My mind was tired. There are, at present, many responsibilities crowding in on me, and so many things to think about. There are details to iron out and decisions to be made. There are questions I have no answers for. There is an endless pile of work that I can never seem to get done. There is fatigue that comes on after my mind has been working away to come up with solutions to problems and not solving any of them. There are the many cries for help I send up to God at all hours of the day, and the many worries underneath everything that threaten to reach up, grab me by the ankle and pull me under. Resting in the Lord. It’s such a phrase of beauty, such an attractive prospect. Saturday night, I was wondering why it was so hard to actually do it.

Instead of caving to my weariness that day, I had filled my mind with God’s word while I went about my household projects and chores. Thank God for sermonaudio.com! Every sermon is like an hourly meditation on God’s word. Then I sat down to write, that evening, and my load of care came back with a rush. I shook my head to myself, wondering if it was because I was such a rotten Christian, overly-tired, a female, or all of the above. Just about then, a song that I’ve taught to a couple of voice students came to my mind. It’s from the oratorio, Elijah, by Felix Mendelssohn and features Psalm 37:7. I’m sure the words are familiar to you, “Oh, rest in the Lord. Wait patiently for him, and he shall give thee thy heart’s desires.”

There was a wealth of things to learn from that small handful of words. Things like: rest only comes when I stop trying to control everything. Or that answers to prayer don’t always come right away and waiting on Him is required–specifically, patient waiting. That my heart’s desires may need an overhaul if its desires are not something God can righteously give. But I think the most encouraging thing about the incident was that those particular words attached to that tune spontaneously came to my mind when I most needed them. The wisdom behind God’s commands to hide His word in our hearts was evident to me.

So, I thought that today, I would share the song with you in the hopes that it would prove to be a blessing now and perhaps in the future.

Blue Skies, Bright Sun

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Friday and Saturday surprised me in the most pleasant way possible. It was warm. It was sunny. So warm and sunny, in fact, that I had the immense privilege of wandering out into the back yard in my short sleeves to dig in the dirt. Last fall, I covered a garden spot with all of the leaves that floated down from the trees. And there were a whole bunch. It took me and Justin several days to clean them all up. Well, now is the time when they must all come off. So yesterday and today I raked and hoed and shoveled until I was quite tired and warmed by the sun. I have a crop of blisters to prove it, but I really don’t mind. After the long, long winter, I was only too pleased to be outside for a change. Continue reading

Housekeeping

I’m writing first, to apologize for being so tardy with my blog posts. (I missed last week altogether!)

Secondly, did you notice this lovely new design? My dear friend, Jonathon Hill, spent an entire evening searching for new design ideas for my blog, figuring out why Google Analytics stopped working, getting Akismet working again so I don’t have thousands of spam comments to delete every week, and generally taking pity on a technologically inept girl who really just wants to write and…not deal with computers. It looks lovely.

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Some Ordinary Stuff

I’ve started this post at least five times now, trying to come up with something to say. But, you know, even authors of novels can be idea-less at times.

It’s one of those calm-before-the-storm kind of weeks. A bunch of writing needs to be done before the end of the month, orchestra rehearsals resume on Monday, and…I have this vague and uncomfortable sensation that I’m forgetting something important. I’ll probably sit up in bed at three in the morning and remember it. Tomorrow night. When it’s too late to do anything about it. Continue reading

My Week in San Antonio

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I’m home after a week in San Antonio, Texas, at the Christian Worldview Independent Film Festival. If you recall, I was there last year along with the film I wrote, The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club. We had a couple of well-attended screenings, lots of good feedback, and our movie made it into the final five feature films at the awards ceremony. That was pretty neat. Continue reading