This Book is Awesome

(aka, Famous Sunday School Mishaps)

I’ve mentioned before how I first got in trouble in a Sunday School class for adding bloating bodies to the flannelgraph of our lesson on Noah’s Ark.  It’s not a story I shared with my boys, as many of my antics, let’s just say I 1) didn’t want to give them any ideas and 2) want to have room to provide context and talk through to use my many, many failures as teachable moments.  Hadn’t gotten around to that one yet.

Apparently, the boys were going over the flood story in their Sunday School class this past Sunday.  They ended up drawing pictures depicting the story.  Both boys became enraptured with the phrase “drowned like stones”.  So they both ended up drawing dead bodies floating on top of the water.  And began to regale me with tales they found in the Bible.

This book is awesome!  As my youngest told me he found a scene where there was a beheading.

This book is awesome!  Did you know there were parts where folks were eating each other?  My oldest informed me.  (Yes, that’s a person on a spit in the lower right corner.)

Uh … yeah, this is going to come back to haunt me.  (I can already hear my wife saying “they’re your sons”—they always become MY sons after something like this—“so you handle it.”)

I was talking to a friend and he mentioned that he was disconcerted about how we sanitize and present the story of Noah and the flood as some cute tale of a guy saving some animals.  It’s rare that we confront the horror of what we have encountered.  Here it is, the God we say we worship and he’s wiped out nearly all of creation, saving essentially one family.  That’s a lot of men, women, and children now dead.  How do we reconcile that with the image of a loving Father who knows the numbers of the hairs on our heads and wants us to pursue a relationship with him in love and without fear?

Just like we forget that there are other aspects to God than just love.  We forget that God is also holy. And, like Aslan, the lion from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, we need the occasional reminder that there is a (righteous) fearful element to holiness. “Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God” (Romans 11:22a, The Message version). This idea isn’t comfortable, but it’s good to wrestle with.  You may spend a lifetime of journeying wrestling with many parts of this awesome book which seem incongruous or contradictory.  But don’t let words like “inerrancy” keep you from loving people or pursuing knowing God.

After one VBS lesson (again, on the Flood), the boys came back with the idea that every time it rained, God was mad at someone.  We have to be balanced and careful with our depictions of God, especially if we act like we understand Him perfectly.  Eric Seibert in his book Disturbing Divine Behavior: Troubling Old Testament Images of God about the God depicted in the Bible:

1. The God who really is and the God who is sketched in the Bible, that is, the Textual God vs. the Actual God, must be distinguished. And here he is saying that the Bible’s depictions of God are from a human point of view and reflect Ancient Near Eastern views of God that are not modified.

2. The God of the Bible, he says, must be judged by God in Jesus or Jesus as God so that what conforms to Jesus is the Actual God and what doesn’t may be the Textual God.

3. And he argues that the Bible’s inspiration is “general” instead of “comprehensive.” He doesn’t care for accommodation theories and finds the traditional evangelical view of plenary inspiration too problematic so he concludes that inspiration is general instead of comprehensive.

All of which would be lost on an eight and nine year old.  So I’m left with yeah, the book is awesome.  Yeah, there’s a lot of cool stuff in it.  Some of it is descriptive, telling us what happened and what folks did; and not prescriptive, that we shouldn’t imitate everything that everyone does in it.  Words have meaning and power and stories often leave us with questions.  There are stories which disturb us and stories that uplift us.   There are things in there we like to pretend/wish weren’t in there and hope that no one notices.

Apparently not while the Broaddus clan is on the case.

It’s in the Genes

When I was in junior high school, I was a one man Triangle trade.  My mother gave me a dollar a day for lunch money which to my pre-teen mind didn’t get me very far.  So, creative thinker that I was, I got up early to school, stopped at Kroger, and used my lunch money to buy candy.  I took that to school and sold it by the piece, then used that money to buy whatever lunch I wanted and then after school to buy comic books.  In turn, my comic book collection grew so large I was like the godfather:  any comic book trade in the school had to go through me for approval.

Yes, it was ridiculous.  On the plus side, this is what helped keep me out of selling drugs:  I had a huge profit margin, limited risk, and limited violence.  On the downside, I eventually expanded my interests into a scheme involving school lunch cards.  Turns out what I was doing was a Federal offense and led to my suspension.  [Yet another reason I opted to not become a business major in college as my natural bent toward money schemes tended to bring out the worst in me, i.e., picture me in a boiler room, so I pursued writing instead.]

But it all comes around.

Watching my sons is like watching an episode of the Flintstones with their nearly daily money-making schemes.  We’ve watched them launch a massage business (don’t ask – that got busted up pretty quick), an art dealership (of their drawings), a snack stand, a restaurant (charging people at our Tuesday night gatherings for them to serve them), a toy store (recycling their Christmas toys they lost interest in), a cleaning service (trying to find a way to profit from doing chores), and a lemonade stand.

So the other day I busted my oldest running his variation of a ponzi scheme/con at school.  He had purchased a “ruby” at the dollar story.  He was running around school selling and re-selling his “ruby”.  He was quite literally on the verge of pulling in three figures worth of income when I stumbled across his paperwork (stumbled as in he was having me double check his “homework” to make sure his figures were correct).  This led to several conversations* and returning of funds he had collected because, as my wife reminded me, this would have been one of those parent-teacher-pissed off parents conferences that I’d have to attend.  Alone.**

*One of which was a reminder that he should perhaps wait until he gets his MBA before he sets out to defraud the public.

**In a conversation where the boys went from being “our children” to “your children”.

Lemonade Day Vote

So May 2nd was Lemonade Day in Indianapolis.  Kids around the city set up lemonade stands, including our own.  It was a pretty rainy day, but our kids were undeterred as they had a captive crown of potential customers as it was also the last day of Mo*Con.

Apparently there is a contest going on and my wife is hijacking my blog in order to make the following announcement:

Lemonade day stand contest is up and going, please vote for my son’s stand – Reese B. (do it once a day for 1 week) Please, please, please!! Just find his name and hit vote, it’s just that simple, no logging in or password, just vote. Thank you!!!  Go to

http://thinkforwardfoundation.org/indexindy.php

So come on, interwebz.  Do it for the children.

Ten Years Ago …

Sally and I got married.

Honestly, I’m as shocked as anyone that we made it. Yet through God’s provision, and through a continuing testimony of love and forgiveness, here we are.

I know that we also wouldn’t have made it without the love and support of our friends and family. And for that, we thank you.

[And it’s also Maunday Thursday]

Merry Christmas from the Broaddus Family


(And yes, this is the actual Broaddus family creche scene, complete with black Joseph, white Mary, and a mixed baby Jesus). May God bless you with the very best gift during this Christmas season … Himself.

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

Hanging with My Sons

So after watching How to Train Your Dragon, I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with my sons and how each of them have such different relationships with me. My oldest likes to engage me intellectually, a bit of a schemer, and do what I do. He asks questions, talks to me, challenges boundaries at every turn, writes, believes he’s more charming than he is, and watches television like it’s an interactive event. He’s his father’s son.

My youngest is a daredevil, physically and emotionally as he’s prone to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He loves to be held, constantly needs physical assurance that I’m there. So he hugs, enjoys snuggle time, lays on me, and holds my hand. He pretends to be shy, but really just enjoys keeping people at a distance and making them relate to him on his terms. It’s like raising my baby brother.

One thing it’s reminded me of is the need to be present for them. We often forget how much our relationships with our parents can teach us about our relationship with God, how it should be, what it ought to be, and what it isn’t. The longing of our heart is to be with our fathers (sometimes causing us to seek out adopted fathers or mentors or other role-models when one isn’t present).

Fathers can be absent in a variety of ways: emotionally distant, aloof; overly critical, abandoned us physically; or being abusive. Sadly, even these things can teach us (false) lessons about the idea of fathers: that they can’t be trusted, they are prone to abandon, they aren’t safe, they are prone to judge, they are prone to be painfully silent, they are prone to be abusive.

We teach when we aren’t intending and we communicate in all we say and do. What we model is more important than what we preach. To be known, find security, and have stability, that’s what I want my sons to know about fathers. Most importantly, that they are loved.

2009 Broaddus Family Christmas Party


With the second novel of my Knights of Breton Court series done (finished about 12 hours before this picture was taken) and the contents for the Dark Faith anthology set, the Broaddus family turns its attentions to entering the Christmas season with our tenth annual themed Christmas party. They started out as murder mystery dinners but quickly got too large. This year’s theme was “Musicals” though we were very generous about what was considered a musical. Any excuse to celebrate with our friends/family.

Your hosts

With lips (and yes, for those following along on my Twitter, I finally got the lips removed from my head)

Dueling Sweeney Todds

best male and best female costume winners

You can check out the full gallery on my facebook (or view even more shots at my wife’s facebook account). One more time though, our very strange family. We wouldn’t have them any other way:

Belly Pride (aka Eat THAT Kate Moss)*

To know God is to know beauty; to know beauty is to know God. Just as God is the source of all truth and goodness, God is also the source of all beauty. God is the Supreme Artist – the Creator of all. Thus, everything that is beautiful reflects God’s artistry. Indeed, God is Beauty itself. –Rich Vincent

I was bumping around Amanda Palmer’s web site as well as the fatshionistas web site and was reminded of a few things. We have reduced beauty to surface matters, not thinking twice about being retouched, computer enhanced, reimagined through surgery in order to achieve the makeover of our false selves. We’ve reduced beauty to that with is merely pretty, setting cruel standards (impossible thinness and youth), the endless pursuit of which changes us and our definitions of beauty.

The tragedy is that beauty is so often determined from the outside that we’re left in need of constant validation. We cling to a fundamental insecurity about ourselves to the point where we can’t recognize beauty in the mirror. We are taught to be ashamed of our bodies, disgusted by any part of us that fails to meet up to some metric impressed upon us by others. Forgetting that beauty can be self-defined and self-determined. And easily recognized.

Admittedly, I was thinking about this while staring at my wife’s belly. It’s not a 25 year old belly. It’s a belly that has seen the birth of two children. A belly that has stood accused of being evidence of pregnancy. A belly that has caused her to defiantly retort “no, just fat. Thanks for asking when I’m due though.” It’s a belly that isn’t afraid to go swimming in a two piece bathing suit.

What impresses me is that it’s a belly that won’t be shamed by others. That won’t be belittled by the short-sighted or narrow-thinking. It’s a belly that won’t be defined by modern society’s pressures of beauty and physical definition because her sense of beauty isn’t rooted in what people think of her. It’s a belly that demands appreciation on its terms. It’s a belly that won’t believe the lies of her past won’t be condescended to and won’t be pressured by others.

Hers is a belly has been tested and persevered. Held a marriage together through good times and bad. Sure, that belly has dieted, exercised, but it still knows how to enjoy the occasional hot fudge brownie sundae. Hers is a belly that has lived and loved life. A belly that is fearless. A belly that demands to be known, loved, and appreciated.

A belly that knows peace and contentment because she knows that she is a beautiful creation of God, His perfect daughter.

Sometimes it takes a spiritual eye, a discerning eye, to truly appreciate beauty. A spiritual perception of glory, the loveliness of holiness, and the preciousness of grace … all the things that come with being created in God’s image. All beauty reflects its source, namely, God. When we experience beauty, we experience God. Sometimes we need to be reminded how much we need to still grow to appreciate the beauty around us.

*Hers is a belly that says “it’s your blog, why don’t you take a picture of YOUR belly.”

Winners and Losers

I was trying to explain to my wife why I was sitting at my table with my ten sided dice that I wasn’t rolling imaginary D&D; characters (which REALLY would have been the sign of a problem), but rather I was randomly picking the winners for my book giveaway contest.
Without further ado, the winners are:

-Samantha
-Degood
-Taerb

Because I am prone to making up rules as I go along, I decided on some second place packages:

-Meljprincess will be getting a copy of Heretic’s Daughter
-Gaby317 will be getting a copy of Boneman’s Daughter

Not that anyone asked, I randomly selected three people to receive copies of the latest anthology from Apex Publications, Harlan County Horrors, which features my story “Trouble Among the Yearlings”. And those lucky recipients are:

-Amanda Parrish
-Wolfnoma
-Noigeloverlord

I will be dropping them an e-mail to collect their addresses and get them their books. Speaking of winners, here are my sons Reese and Malcolm in their Halloween costumes:

(with this comment from a friend: “If Reese couldn’t make it as a writer, he could have dressed as an editor.”)

As for the losers, those would include all of the folks who are still sending in stories for the Dark Faith anthology. I’m afraid those are being deleted unread. Also in the loser category, me for MY Halloween costume. I tweeted “In light of my novel, I’m dressing up for a super hero party as Kevin Matchstick (Mage). I’m betting only one other person will get it.”

See? I was on it! Unfortunately, it later led to this tweet: “”Maybe being a black guy w/ a baseball bat on the south side of Indy wasn’t my best call… officer.” #obscuresuperherocostumefail”

I should have gone more mainstream.

Life in the Broaddus Creative Mind

When I was in second grade, my teacher (Ms. Rainey) didn’t know what to do with me. I wasn’t exactly a bad or troublesome student, but I was the only black student in my class and obviously bored. Ms. Rainey had an overloaded class and had her hands full catching kids up to the current curriculum in class much less deal with students who were ahead of the curve. So she put me in a corner with a stack of paper and told me to just “create whatever appealed to” me. So I wrote, drew, created little books and just let my imagination and creativity run wild.

[As opposed to my brother, who was also bored, but his teacher—who shall remain nameless—had low to no expectations of blacks, males in particular, and all but said so. So through neglect, she stripped away any interest he had in school that he’s only regained as an adult.]

I was reminded about the state of my desk as I wandered into the room of my eldest son, Reese. He has his own desk in there, surrounded by books and stacks of paper. Within easy reach were trays of markers, pens, pencils, crayons, beads, and clips – things he’d need at fingertip access to in order to create at a moment’s notice. Everything was collected and separated by sandwich bags (which reminded me of the shelf of cereal boxes I used to use as my filing cabinets for all of my projects and “research” when I got home). All about were half-finished projects and preparation for new projects amidst the organized chaos that is a creative mind.

I had entered the forbidden zone since I had to clean it because when I’m in MY creative throes, I am compelled to clean and organize. No worries, I preserved the order and condensed it to his desk, getting rid of only the trash and toys and cups that tend to accumulate during … creative bursts.

Just something I wanted to note. On the flip side, we spent the evening trying to convince my youngest son that “Cock” was not the best way to shorten the name for his pet rock, “Cock-A-Doodle”. Of course, I suppose that I probably ought to be more disconcerted by him talking to and petting a rock …