Hello! Welcome to Feels and Flowers. Your host is preparing for the crazy that is coming up in November. Yes, one of the most important elections of our generation is coming up, as well as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, plan your epitaph day, and NaNoWriMo 2020.
But aside from all the nonsense I share about the many novels I have written during National Novel Writing Month, I am finishing out Genesis 15 where Abram and God make a pact, or rather, God makes an oath that he will give Abram the promised land to his descendants. How does that help us see a clearer picture of the loving character of God? Stick around and find out.
The flower of the week is Manuka! Learn about its history, its uses in aromatherapy, and why Manuka honey is only produced in New Zealand. Learn how to have healthier gums and disinfect wounds at https://feelsandflowers.com/featured-flowers/manuka/
Find semi-accurate show transcripts, essential oil blends, notes from the episode, and all kinds of random extras, including a chapter of a book I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2015 go to https://feelsandflowers.com/episode-017
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STORY BEATS: Genesis 15 and Abram’s Black Moment
Sometimes I think that life would be so much easier if I had something like an outline or a plot to guide me through the story of my life. If you had the opportunity to see into the future and know how your life is going to play out, down to the details of how and when you’ll die… Would you choose to have that knowledge?
— [THEME MUSIC] —
Hi! Welcome to Feels and Flowers, a Christian podcast where I share with you a gospel based entirely on love: Love God, love yourself, love others and where every week we cover the history and healing properties of a plant or essential oil. My name is Paula Perez.
So as your antidote to toxic Christianity and general negativity, I am here to remind you that your brother and sister in Christ may be entirely wrong and their views may not align with yours, but they are still your brother and sister. Before your frustration gets the better of you and they drive you nuts, do take time off social media. Join me and many others who have taken a small breather. I promise you, your mental health will improve by leaps and bounds. Oh, and get on out there and vote as soon as you possibly can.
That’s all I have to say.
This week we have a very short episode just to finish out Genesis 15. But before that, our featured flower. This week we are talking about Manuka.
— [FLOWER MUSIC] —
Manuka is a scrub-type tree which grows prolifically around coastal areas of New Zealand. It is said that when Captain Cook sailed into New Zealand’s Mercury Bay, many of his men were plagued with scurvy and other kinds of infectious diseases. The Maōri people offered them a natural remedy derived from boiled Manuka leaves.
Historically, the Maōri have used the wood and bark of the Manuka tree extensively, not only for building and crafting things but also for healing. They used an infusion of Manuka bark as a sedative and to treat scalds and burns. The ash from the bark was also rubbed onto the skin to treat skin diseases, while vapor from leaves boiled in water was used for colds. The inner bark was boiled and the liquid used as a mouthwash.
With colonization in the early 1800s and the introduction of bee hives in New Zealand came what is now the famous Manuka honey which is produced by bees who pollinate its flower. It is said to have prized healing and bioactive properties which make it essential in a natural medicine first-aid kit.
Manuka has powerful properties but the most important is its strong antiseptic properties ideal for use on cuts and wounds. You can take advantage of these properties by using either the essential oil or Manuka honey.
Learn my favorite way to use Manuka Essential oil at the end of the episode. Now, back to finishing Genesis 15.
— [FLOWER MUSIC FADES OUT] —
Around this time each year, thousands of people around the world prepare to take on one of the most fun and rewarding challenges around. It is a challenge that doesn’t require the ability to run a mile or to do a single pushup, but does require endurance of another type….Or rather discipline. Discipline to write 1,667 words a day, every day, for a month. I’m talking about the National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo.
Ever felt like writing a novel? Ever felt like if you could join in a group of fellow story tellers at writeathons and do some low-stakes writing sprints? Then NaNoWriMo is for you. The challenge is to write a 50 thousand word manuscript in one month. It doesn’t have to be great. It only matters that you are meeting your word count goals.
I have done NaNoWrimo for years and years now and thanks to NanoWrimo I have at least 20 manuscripts at different levels of completion in my archives with such riveting titles as Citadel of Hate, Fire of the Moon, and Nine Starless Nights; wholesome Narnia rip-offs for the kids; angsty coming-of age stories featuring problematic substance-abusing teens; as well as a slew of light erotica novels that are best left languishing in a dust-covered floppy drive I hope no one has the misfortune to find. I have explored many genres and many themes with various degrees of success, and with every year I have learned more and more about the art of writing better stories from developing a story, creating conflict, fleshing out compelling characters, writing better dialogue, and so on.
I’ve also learned to type my stream of consciousness at lighting speed because the more words on the page the better. Unfortunately this is not so helpful outside of a challenge where the point is quantity, not quality. As a result most of my writing is verbose and prone to veer off into fantastical tangents.
But to counter that, I have learned that it is important that going in I have a kind of map to guide me in the form of an outline or beat sheet. Beats are the large landmarks within a story — guideposts that I need to hit as I write the protagonist’s progress through the story.
Not every author needs an outline or beat sheet going in. But I think it is essential as having it dramatically increases your chances of reaching your destination, even if you go off on a tangent and explore a subplot, a beat sheet brings you back on track.
Sometimes I think that life would be so much easier if I had something like a beat sheet to guide me through the story of my life. How about you? If you had the opportunity to see into the future and know how your life is going to play out, down to the details of how and when you’ll die… Would you choose to have that knowledge?
I mean, if we are authors of our own lives, how nice it would be to either plan ahead of time the way. Instead we are often reminded how little control we have over our lives as we look on in bewilderment when life plays out in a way we never expected.
So then let’s say the author is God. Well, if indeed God is the author of our lives and he wants us to live our best lives, why not let us know what’s ahead so that we may not waste time exploring irrelevant subplots or veer off into dangerous territory? It would be so good to know when we reach our lowest point that whatever difficulties we are facing that it will come to an end, and end in victory.
Yes. I want a glimpse into my life beat sheet. But that’s not how life works.
Yet, there was one instance where God saw fit to show a man the future so that he would see the eventual outcome of all things. That’s right. That was Abram.
Picking up from last week, Genesis 15:7
7 “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
Genesis 15:7-8 continues on the conversation between God and Abram where God was promising Abram the fulfillment of all promises, and Abram though believing, still asks for a sign. And God, rather than being offended at Abram asking for a sign actually stoops down to the human level and tells Abram to prepare the animals necessary to do the oath ritual that was common in the day.
In those days, contracts were made by splitting animal sacrifices and laying broken corpses on the ground. Later both participants of the pact walked together between the halves of the animals, repeating the terms of the pact. (Jeremiah 34: 18-20). Abram obeyed and waited for God.
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him–a sense of dread, dark and heavy. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here.”
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “I’m giving this land to your children, from the Nile River in Egypt to the River Euphrates in Assyria”
Every story has a Black Moment. At some point in a novel, our protagonist will symbolically “die.” This usually means they’re stripped of their hope and they will seem further from their goal or destination than ever. Darkness and despair will rule the day.
Well, this chapter is Abram’s Black moment. Alone with his thoughts after talking to God and setting out the animals, he pondered on the promises of God all day, chasing off the carrion birds, which signify death and darkness. It’s easy to keep doubt and despair at bay in the light of day.
Yet it was inevitable that the sun would go down, and as it did the darkness descended upon him. It is generally understood that Abram had a vision at this time. In the cloak of darkest night he experienced a deep feeling of dread as he gazed out into the future and witnessed the suffering his descendants would have to endure.
Abram could have said, “If that’s what is going to happen, I don’t want to have children!” Yet God was with him in this darkest moment and brought him hope. Telling him his descendants would leave the country of their oppressors full of riches and would settle on the land he’d give them.
When Hebrews 11 lists out all the heroes of the faith, it makes mention of Abram and his great trust in God’s word.
Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God. (Hebrews 11:10)
It was because of this black moment that he was able to have faith enough to believe God and his great plans for him.
A black moment in a story is super important in the growth of our protagonist, because from it they rise to tackle the climax action. In real life we experience something similar. Just as it is important for our characters to experience a symbolic death and brokenness during the Black Moment, so it is for us. Facing down our fears and doubts is how we grow. Whenever we are going through our Black Moment, we also need to find the courage to do the things or take the risks necessary to win.
But the beauty of this chapter is that God assures us that, even though we do not have that view into our future as Abram did, when we DO face the darkest moment of our lives, our Black Moment, we will not be alone.
Jesus tells us, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)
Life would be so much easier if I had something like a beat sheet to guide me through the story of my life. But that’s not how it works. We are co-authors with God in this great epic story of life. And while sometimes I wish I knew what is coming up and how I’m supposed to deal with it, I have a strong suspicion that I wouldn’t like it if my life had been planned out and written out regardless of my own wishes. It would be contrary to my own spirit of independence.
Let’s be co-authors with God of this wonderful thing called life and together with our maker, brave out the storms, bring light to the darkness, and rise from the ashes with the full confidence that we are never ever alone, and that with him, we win.
— [WRAP UP] —
If you’ve reached this far, thank you for listening. As promised, my favorite way to use Manuka is as a component to an oil blend I use when I oil pull or when I brush my teeth. I talked about this oil blend back in episode 14. This oil blend incorporates essential oils such as peppermint, cinnamon, clove, myrrh, and of course Manuka. You can find the master blend at Feels and Flowers as well as the blend for a far stronger blend to use when you have a toothache. Might not work for you but it certainly works for me. Additionally, in the post for this episode I have shared with you additional links and media that you may find helpful, and just for kicks I’m sharing a chapter from a novel I wrote back in 2015 during NaNoWriMo. It’s HIGH cringe stuff. Woo-hoo!
Send me flowers! If you’d like a shoutout or you just want to say hi, you can reach me at email@example.com. If you enjoy Feels and Flowers please be sure to leave a rating on Apple podcasts.
Until next time… please remember that you are beautiful, you are loved, and you were made with a purpose.