Hey, Y’all (Contemplations on “You” Plural) (Part II)

file0001217628885Remember that post I did awhile back about the need in the English language for a plural form of you? Well, I’m finally getting back to that thought. (And, like last time, the images illustrating this post are random things that came up when I searched for free images for “you.” So don’t waste your time trying to make sense out of them.)

This being somewhat of a grammar issue, I asked Granny Grammar to take over. But she wouldn’t touch it. Says it ain’t polite to discuss politics or religion in public, and since this deals with both, she wouldn’t even consider it.

Umm…. what does this have to do with politics and religion, you may ask? Good question. Bear with me, and ye shall see.

As I mentioned in that previous post, the lack of a plural form of you in modern English can lead to loss of clarity. Sometimes it can create misunderstanding, for example, as to what God is saying/who He’s talking to in the Bible. (Ah, that’s where the religion comes in.) This is one, though not the only, reason why I use the King James Version in my personal Bible study: it’s the only version that retains the nuances of meaning lost through updating the old thee’s and thou’s.

A case in point: let’s look at Deuteronomy chapter 9, where Moses is addressing the nation of Israel on the cusp of their entrance into the land God promised to give them. If you don’t have a KJV Bible handy, you can read it here.

Moses points out how God supernaturally protected and provided for them for the past file3281246664325forty years, all for the purpose of bringing them to this very place. It starts to get interesting from the grammatical point of view in verse 10. When Moses talks about the people’s responsibility to remember God and keep His commands, he uses singular pronouns: When thou (singular; the plural would be ye) hast eaten and are full, and have built nice houses, verse 12 – when thy (singular; the plural would be your) personal wealth has multiplied, verse 13 – beware that thine heart (singular; the plural would be your) not be lifted up and thou forget the LORD thy God, verse 14…

This singular you continues all the way through until the last part of verse 19, where it shifts back to the plural for the rest of the chapter. Moses tells the people, in essence, that if each of you, as individuals, do these things, it will affect all of you — the entire nation.

Historically, this is directed to the nation of Israel in the time of Moses. But it reveals a principle that applies to everyone, everywhere. That is, God’s plan isn’t for a nation to carry the people on its back; rather, the individuals are responsible for the health of the nation.

Ah, that’s where the politics comes in! Quite so. When we understand and believe God’s word, it affects our lives as citizens, not just our religious lives.

But there’s more. The same principle is seen in the next chapter. Moses puts the responsibility of remaining humble before God on the individual (verses 4 through the first half of verse 7); their individual failures to do so drag the whole nation into rebellion and bring consequences upon all the country (the second half of verse 7 through verse 24). Again we see that the individual is responsible for the nation, not vice versa.

We miss all this if we think of all those “you” pronouns as plural. How easy it is to point the finger! To think you (plural) need to do this or that; I’m okay just the way I am.

It might be comforting to think that, but often, God’s thoughts run contrary to popular thinking.

Perhaps what we do, or the relationship we have (or don’t have) with God, isn’t such a private matter as we’d like to think. The decisions we make as far as our personal behavior and freedoms might not be wholly personal after all. Perhaps it’s not just my life I need to consider, but how my choices affect the whole nation.

Or maybe I’m reading something into this that isn’t really here. What do you think?

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GlendaAbout this time last year, I was traveling by RV with my friend Susan Lawrence and her husband, Gary, 700 miles across the US to Iowa. After a brief stay with the Lawrences in their home in Carlisle outside Des Moines, I invaded the home of David and Glenda Mathes (near Pella) for another few days. I blogged about this 2 or 3 times during that period–here’s one post, for example. But that ancient history is not what I’m here to talk about today.

Glenda’s had a good year with her writing, having published two books since my visit. They’re both nonfiction, and both well worth reading! Little One Lost is a compassionate, sensitive look at early infant loss. If you or someone close to you is going through that valley, or if you minister to others who come to you for counsel about this, I highly recommend the book’s solid scriptural perspective. Her 31-day devotional, A Month of Sundays, explores the topic of resting/trusting in God. I don’t care what’s going on in your life at the moment–I recommend this one too!

For some reason, Glenda took it into her head yesterday to give me a shout-out on her blog, which gets a lot more daily hits than mine. I’d like to return the favor. But since I don’t have the reach she does, this is more like a futile wave from afar rather than a shout.

As she points out in her post, we need friends on this journey of ours. This is true whether we’re writers or not. But especially for us crazies who have this irrational penchant for trying to put things into words, we’ll never get anywhere without the support of others.

If people are going to buy our books (and isn’t that why we write them? if the work of a plumber, a carpet installer, or tax accountant is worth paying for, why not the work of a writer? and if you don’t think it’s “work,” try doing it yourself once), they need to learn about them. And one of the best ways to get the word out is to tell people about them.

So thank you, Glenda, for going out of your way to do that on my behalf!

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A Thoughtful Review

Rabid Readers ReviewsYou may have noticed (though I doubt if you’ve given it much thought) that I haven’t been very attentive to my blog lately. I’ve been pretty much ignoring Twitter, too. Some of this is for the purpose of a test: if I neglect social media, will the world come to a screeching halt?

Surprise, surprise: the answer is no. I doubt it’s caused my book sales to fall off either, since they weren’t selling to begin with. Bottom line: it’s freed up some of my time with no dire consequences. Perhaps the experiment was worthwhile!

Whether I take up blogging and tweeting again with greater diligence remains to be seen. Meanwhile, a new review came to my attention this afternoon, and I thought I’d share it with all my fans out there in Blogdom. It’s a little different, but rather gratifying.

Don’t let me tell you what to think of it, though. Decide for yourself: Review of The Story in the Stars on Rabid Reader Reviews.

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Jumpstarting My Week

I received a personal message this morning in my Paperback Swap Club account.

If you’re not familiar with the club, it’s an online group for readers in which members swap books. It’s free to join, but not to participate, because you have to send books through the mail. In a nutshell, here’s how it works: on the site, you post books that are laying around the house that you’d like to get rid of. When another member requests one of those books, you send it to him or her. For every book you send out, you receive one credit, which entitles you to order any book you see posted. The more books you send out, the more you can request from other members.

I joined the club before I was a published author, in part to get rid of some books. I realized right away, however, that I wasn’t accomplishing my purposes, because 1) even with the media postage rate, it costs real money to send all those books through the mail; and 2) it didn’t help my clutter problem because I replaced all the books I got rid of with different ones. Nevertheless, I’ve been sending and receiving books this way for several years now.

When The Story in the Stars was published, I posted it to the club in the hopesStars cover someone would request it, love it, and help get the word out about it. It languished on the list for months before someone finally ordered it, and I never got any feedback from the person afterward.

When Words in the Wind was released, I posted it as well, and someone requested it. A little later I realized both books were out of circulation (that is, no one had them posted), so I posted them again. This time, they both went fairly quickly. These aren’t book sales — they’re giveaways. But, like with any other author giveaway, the idea is to expand my fan base and get the word out about the series.

This morning I received a message from the person who most recently requested The Story in the Stars. Her message said: “Thank you so much for this book! It is truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. It held my interest from the first page through to the last. I posted reviews here and on Amazon. I’m looking forward to reading the next book. This is truly a hidden gem! It was indeed very happy reading! :)”

What a lovely shot in the arm! (Or elsewhere — when I was a girl, my mother used to go to the doctor to get a vitamin B-12 shot [which was not administered in the arm] when she felt run-down, and she swore it gave her pep.) It’s not like money in the bank; it’s not even a hint of money in the bank, let alone a promise. But it’s confirmation from a wholly unbiased source that I can write a good book. (Which, at this point, I’d begun to doubt.)

At a time when my marketing efforts amount to throwing time and money into a bottomless pit, when I wonder why I waste my time with this writing nonsense, and when I’m asking myself (and God) how long I’m supposed to continue on this go-nowhere treadmill, that small comment is enough to keep me going.

At least for one more day.

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Hullo? Anybody Home?

knocking on door
Who’s that knocking at my door?

Not having heard from me for a while, Granny Grammar came knocking on my door to see what was going on. Her knock was so feeble, I didn’t hear it, but the security camera picked up her image.

Actually, she didn’t care much about what was going on in my life; she just wanted to see the test results. I told her that, of the 5 people took the test, everyone got Questions 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 correct. In Question 3, someone apparently thought vowels have ankles. Granny chuckled at that.

But while she was visiting, I told her where I’d been since her last post. On Monday the 25th, we headed for Virginia to visit with the grandkids. (And with the grandkids’ parents, too, of course.) Shortly after we started on our journey, Craig noticed cold symptoms starting, though when we left the house he’d felt fine. By the time we arrived in Reston, there was no doubt in his mind; he had a full-blown cold.

We’d just acquired a GPS, so I plugged it in and played with it along the way to familiarize myself with how it works, as we’ve never had one before.

We decided to stop at a couple of real estate agencies along the way to see what we could find out as far as availability of what we’re looking for, price ranges, etc. We stopped in Uniontown, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland and met with real estate agents there. In Cumberland, we picked up a flyer with various available listings and found an interesting place in Flintstone, Maryland — just what we were looking for, and at a very affordable price. You know when something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t? Well, the address was listed in the flyer, and since we had a GPS, we thought we’d go take a look to see what was the matter with it.

We got off the highway onto a smaller road, then onto a smaller one, then a smaller one yet. Lovely area! We liked it! The GPS sent us farther into the mountains until we reached a point in the road where a sign appeared saying: “End county maintenance. Beyond this point, the road is privately owned.” And still we continued on.

It became apparent that when the county quit maintaining the road, no one else picked up the responsibility. After a while, it was nearly impassable. (Though it was a little above freezing, it had been snowing all day, so everything was wet and slushy, and some of the potholes in the road looked like you could sail a good sized boat in them.) So we turned around and went back to the highway. It might have been a very nice house, and it was certainly an affordable price. But we didn’t want to buy a house on a road we’d have to maintain at our own expense.

Somewhere after leaving the realty office in Cumberland, I wanted to call Shelley to tell her we’d arrive later than we expected and they shouldn’t expect us for supper. But I couldn’t find my phone! Argh! I’d remembered putting it into the left pocket of my sweater, but it wasn’t there. Nor was it anywhere else I looked, including under the seat. (While we were driving around in the middle of nowhere, Craig pulled over so I could get out and take a good look.) I finally decided it must have fallen out of my pocket at one of the offices we’d stopped at.

Grandma with Daniel kids at National Zoo 03-26-13
At the National Zoo

But I still wanted to let Shelley know what was going on, so we found a McDonald’s along the route, got out my laptop, and used their wi-fi service to email her. When I got online, I found an email from the realtor in Uniontown asking if I’d lost my phone, because they found it under the chair I’d been sitting in. Hooray!

Anyway, we made it to Shelley’s without further incident, except that Craig was miserable by the time we got there, and didn’t get any better throughout the visit. He couldn’t play with the kids for fear of infecting them, and he didn’t feel well enough to go anywhere with us. So we had fun and he sat around and watched TV and slept while we were gone.

On Tuesday, we went to the National Zoo. The weather was cool but sunny and not too breezy, the kids were good, and we all had a great time.

On Wednesday, we went to Leesburg Animal Park. It was about the same temperature as the day before before, but windy, which made it feel a lot colder.

Kids looking at the zebras at the animal farm.
Kids looking at the zebras at the animal farm.

We all had a good time, but we were glad there was a little greenhouse available for us to hide from the wind at lunchtime (which thrifty Shelley had packed for us).

And then the next day we headed for home. Craig still wasn’t feeling so hot, though he was well enough to drive. But along the way, I realized I had a slight sore throat. It didn’t amount to much, and I wasn’t sure if would develop into anything, but by the next morning I could tell it wasn’t going away anytime soon.

The following day (the day before Easter) I went to Stat Care with a bad sore throat and swollen glands, and the doctor prescribed an antibiotic. However, I continued feeling worse for the next two days, adding a bad cough to my symptoms.

I appear to be over the hump now, though. I hope…

Meanwhile, we have people coming tomorrow to install new carpet in the living room, dining room, stairway and landing to the basement, and pantry. Which meant that in the last few days we had to tear up the old carpet in the pantry (fortunately we’d already done the stairway before we left) and moving all the furniture out of the other rooms. Also, we’d started re-doing our bedroom closet before we left, and I hung wallpaper in that a couple days ago. Craig put the shelves and clothes racks back in and I’ve put everything away in it now, except for the things (like shoes) I keep on the floor. We’re hoping to snatch a carpet scrap tomorrow to put in it. If not, no big deal — it’s a pretty nice hardwood floor as it is.

So, Granny, that’s where I’ve been all this time. Thanks for stopping by! Next time, I hope to resume the series I started about the need for a plural form of “you” in the English language.

What’s that, Granny? Yes, you’re right; there is a plural form of you: y’all. But I’m talking about a form that’s approved by the Chicago Manual of Style.

See ya later!

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