Saturday, December 18, 2004

a few things that tick me off

My wacky, inadequately functioning immune system. For my reasoning on this, see previous blog entry. ;o) [The smiley is to show you that I’m making *this* post in good humor, not in anger or bitterness.]

Snow is currently falling in Chemnitz but refusing to stick to the ground.

Undisciplined children. Actually, the parents of undisciplined children.

I ran out of vanilla flavoring today, so I can’t finish baking the last three batches of chocolate chip cookies I wanted to make this weekend.

The exchange rate from dollars to euros. It’s getting worse.

A friend in Texas seems to be mad at me but doesn’t have the guts to tell me upfront. Instead, I get ignored. This is both unfair to me and insulting.

The last batch of cookies I baked today got slightly scorched. The kitchen and I are grudging friends, at best.

I don’t want to admit how much time has passed since my last personal Bible study time.

“Religious Christmas songs” sung only at Christmastime. I guess I’m a stickler for being happy year-round that Jesus was born. ;o)

Otherwise excellent science fiction stories ruined by superfluous sex.

My white sugar addiction.

Email money-making scam forwards. And that’s all one noun phrase!

I can’t seem to rid my houseplants of gnats. On the bright side, though, they keep Ripley entertained.

Reactionary people who believe everything they read and attack before thinking. And without warning. And I’m talking about your “next-door neighbor,” not global terrorists.

Humans dislike coming right out and saying what they want. If you want me to do something, listen to you, shut up, hold forth, laugh, be serious, or make like a tree and get out of there, please tell me. Don’t make me guess, and don’t expect me to read your mind. My telepathy hasn’t developed that far yet. (But I’m working on it. See blog entry on August 8, 2004: “Telepathy; Or, Love: How Far Are You Willing To Go?”)

The nail of my left big toe is ingrown and hurts.

Our white curtains are no longer white and need washing, but I don’t really have time to do it. I guess I could do it now, while I’m sick, but… blech. :oP

I can’t find the “Peanuts” (Charlie Brown) comic strip where Linus counts up how many partridges in pear trees through twelve drummers drumming the guy actually gives the girl in the whole song.

I can’t decide what I really think of stem cell research.

Ripley won’t stop attacking Ed’s feet.

I’m gonna have to compile a list of positives to make up for this one. ;o)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Friday, December 10, 2004

What's inside you?

Every other Thursday night, a group of us meets for a Bible study. This one is somewhat informal, because we use the time to discuss certain Christian literature designed for practical application of scripture to daily life. For the last ten months, we’ve been reading and discussing Gordon MacDonald’s “Ordering Your Private World” (auf Deutsch “Ordne Dein Leben”).

MacDonald’s book is one of the most practical books I’ve ever read. He tackles one of the problems I think most of us can identify with: our seeming inability to “find” time for intensive study of the Bible and deep, private communion with God. We complain that we can’t “find” time to read the scriptures; we can’t “find” time to pray; we’re too tired at the end of the day to think about anything save supper, TV, and, finally, bed.

Without going into detail (if you want detail, read the book), I’ll tell you that MacDonald discusses why we make all these excuses; the fact that they are excuses; and how we can reorganize our priorities and our lives with the goal of deepening and strengthening our relationship with God. If you’ve ever longed for that kind of relationship with God, but you haven’t been able to figure out how to make it happen in your life, I recommend this book to you.

No, it’s not a magic cure-all. I’m living proof of that. I’ve read the book, and my spiritual life is still woefully lacking in the depth I desire. MacDonald is not a God-inspired writer; and I encourage any reader to measure all of his ideas against scripture. But most of his ideas are good, and he gives an interesting, refreshing perspective…things that make you go, “Hmm.” ;o) I’ve started using a few spiritual “exercises” he recommends, and when I use them regularly, I can see a difference in myself.

Really, it’s just a matter of MacDonald’s words giving me a kick in the rear. He’s not telling me anything that God hasn’t already tried to teach me. It’s only that MacDonald is knocking me on the head and yelling into my ear, “Hello? Hellloooo, anybody home? Think, McFly! Think!”

MacDonald’s main premise is that each of us has—or, rather, should have—a place deep inside our souls where there should be stillness. Peace. Quiet. On the outside, more and more people, things, situations, conflicts, pressures, stresses, worries are screaming for our attention…but deep inside, in our inner world, we need to have a place to which we can retreat. A place where we can forget, for many moments or for just a few, those things which seem so pressing. A place where we can learn to recognize that the things which clamor for our attention are usually the things that aren’t so important in the grand scheme of things.

We need a place where light reigns and shuts out the darkness of our outer world. We need a place where we can listen to God’s voice.

Here are a few quotes from MacDonald’s book that really hit me hard, especially concerning the difference between our inner and our outer worlds:

In our pressurized society, people who are out of shape mentally usually fall victim to ideas and systems that are destructive to the human spirit and to human relationships. They are victimized because they have not taught themselves how to think; nor have they set themselves to the lifelong pursuit of the growth of the mind. Not having the facility of a strong mind, they grow dependent upon the thoughts and opinions of others. Rather than deal with ideas and issues, they reduce themselves to lives full of rules, regulations, and programs.
V. W. Burrows wrote, “One of the saddest experiences is to awaken at old age and discover that one has been using only a small part of self…’”

I like to refer to this center as a person’s spirit; others call it the soul. You can’t physiologically locate the spiritual center of a person’s private world, but it is there. It is eternal, and it is the point at which we most intimately commune with our heavenly Father. The spirit can never lose its eternal nature, but it can exist in a state of such disorganization that almost no communion with God is possible. That usually leads to a general chaos in other parts of one’s private world.

We are naively inclined to believe that the most publicly active person is the most privately spiritual. We assume that the larger the church, the greater its heavenly blessing. The more information about the Bible a person possesses, we think, the closer he or she must be to God.

Natural gifts such as personal charisma, mental brightness, emotional strength, and organizational ability can impress and motivate people for a long time. Sometimes they can be mistaken for spiritual vitality and depth. Sadly, we do not have a Christian culture today that easily discriminates between a person of spiritual depth and a person of raw talent… The result is that more than a few people can be fooled into thinking they are being influenced by a spiritual giant when in fact they are being manipulated by a dwarf.

MacDonald quotes Proverbs 4:23,
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

Then he goes on to say:
[The writer of the proverb] wants the reader to understand that keeping or guarding the heart…is a deliberate and disciplined choice a man or woman must make. Am I being heard? We must choose to keep the heart. Choose! Its health and productivity cannot be assumed; it must be constantly protected and maintained.
…In the New Testament, Paul made the same sort of observation when he challenged Christians to ‘not be conformed to this [outer] world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Rom. 12:2). He’s talking heart here…
…Are we going to order our inner worlds, our hearts, so that they will radiate influence into the outer world? Or will we neglect our private worlds and thus permit the outer influences to shape us? This is a choice we have to make every day of our lives.
…We will know that we have learned this significant principle when we come to the point at which the development and maintenance of a strong inner world becomes the most important single function of our existences.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Work-In-Progress



Wow, three blog entries in one day! I must be getting soft in my old age. ;o)

Anyway, here's a shot of that painting I'm still working on. I thought there might be a couple of people who'd be interested in seeing what I've done with it. Which isn't much...but I like the dunes better, now that they have a more definite shape. I think they add an interesting dynamic to the picture. The original isn't this dark. I took the shot with the digicam, but couldn't use a flash because the paint is still wet and would reflect in a rather irritating manner.

I hope to finish this one soon! And it's about time, too. ;o) Posted by Hello

Court and Edney


In the Dresden woods in late October? early November?

I can't remember. ;o) Posted by Hello


Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Odyssey

Greetings, Fellow Travailers and Paint-Covered Ones!

By popular demand, I'm posting again, though I can't promise anything coherent. I've thought about this blog a lot over the last few months, just never got around to putting thoughts into action.

-- Wait a sec-- Oh-- Mm-hm. Yeah.... That there was a fairly telling statement on one of my major sources of trouble. Instead of e = mc², Einstein should've worked out an equation relating to the difficulty of "thought not always = action."

So anyway, on to the news......

Since my blog last heard from me, I've partaken in and been subjected to a serious of interesting adventures, happenstances, crises, and opinions. I'll give you a short recap, since it's probable many of you have not yet heard of some of these latest reports in the Varied Conglomeration of Whatevers That So Often Make Up Courtney's Life...

Since my last post, I have...

...spent a wonderful week in the Austrian Alps, learning more about how the Holy Spirit works in us; leading my first German Ladies' Bible Discussion Group (the CAPS make it sound more intimidating than it really was); enjoying both the gorgeous scenery and our wonderful hotel; and, together with Becky, Joy, and April, singing Bavarian "Dreigesang," the dialect of which was so hilariously and wonderfully confusing, we didn't know what we were singing half the time and ended up giggling most of the other half.

...spent ten days in Bremen, located in Northern Germany. Ed and I are taking an evangelism training course with Jim and Elsa Springer, who've worked with the church in Bremen for about 30 years. Except for that one intensive week, the rest of the course is by correspondence. I highly recommend the course to anyone who's fluent in German. We've really focused on what our individual talents are and how best to use them for the church, and it would be another five blog posts for me to describe how thrilled and fascinated I am by everything I've been learning.

...gained about 5 pounds because I don't have the self-discipline to lay off the sugar and the late-night snacks. I've been eating more veggies, though--tomatoes and cucumbers, yum!

...had something of a showdown with an alcoholic.

...started to learn that I am in no way responsible for the messes other people make of their own lives.

...been accused of being under the occult influence of evil/demonic spirits, the main symptoms of which are, allegedly, my artwork and my writing.

...decided I can compromise with people to a certain extent without burying the talents God has given me.

...apparently lost a good friendship, because the friend in question has broken off communication with me and refuses to tell me why.

...started to learn how to say "no" in a nice way and mean it, because I can't do everything, I can't take care of everybody, and it's ruining my health and my spirit to continue trying.

...been plagued more and more by people who can't seem to get it through their heads that when Ed and I are ready to produce offspring, we're not necessarily going to broadcast it to the world anyway, so there's really no point in asking us repeatedly.

...wondered how I'm going to restrain myself from smacking people who come up to poke and prod my stomach uninvited once I do get pregnant in the (distant?) future.

...seen Sting live in concert! Oh YEAH!

...prayed more often and more intensively than I ever have in my life to date, though I must admit that I've slacked off again lately. (Elsa, thank you for the smileys and rainclouds.) ;o)

...started rediscovering that quiet place within myself where God lives in me and soothes me when I slow down and pay attention to what he's trying to tell me.

...listened more. I think.

...decided I'm going to try to take Steffen's Greek course in the coming Spring, provided there are enough students for a course.

...read "The Notebook" and "The Wedding" by Nicholas Sparks ("Wedding" was better) and a whole bunch of Dean Koontz and Robert Heinlein books.

...written about 50 English lessons on the book of Acts, and I'm not done with the book yet.

...thought a lot about the future.

...created three of the best poems I've ever written.

...thought a lot about family and friends stateside.

...met two published writers--one by letter, and one in person.

...entered NaNoWriMo 2004. But the time and the emotional energy weren't there this year--I only managed about 12000 words of the 50k goal.

...done and thought and said and learned and laughed and cried and anguished and rejoiced and fled and hid and reemerged and fought and given up and joined the battle again and railed and comforted and screamed and danced and imagined and wondered and created and destroyed and circled and climbed and reached and lost and won and and and.

And now I'm going to bed. ;o)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Away Message

Greetings, Fellow Sojourners!

Starting later today, I will be in Austria for a week! There I will make my temporary dwelling-place amongst the Alpine mountains in the little town of Filzmoos--which, directly translated, means "feltmoss." 'Tis a strange world in which we abide.

I bid you all a spiffy week!

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Christmas Song For The New Millennium

Matt (see Blogadocious link on far right) and I have decided to put our linguistic creativity to good use and try to make a little extra cash on the side by entering the lucrative world of songwriting. If you care to read below, you'll find our first attempt. I'll admit, we're still a bit shaky on writing music, so we're temporarily borrowing someone else's tune. If you hum "The Christmas Song" to yourself as you read, you'll get a hang of the melody and rhythm. Enjoy!

The Christmas Song For The New Millennium

Chestnuts roasting on open fires,
Jack frost nipping at status quos,
Yuletide carols being flung by choirs,
And folks dressed up apropos.
Everybody's nose,
Some turkey has a middle toe
That helps to bring the season's blight.
Tater tots made out of cookie dough
Will find a farty sleep tonight.
Paul knows that marmot's on his way,
He's loaded pots and pans and cooties on his sleigh.
And Paul's mother's child is going to fry,
And flee the reindeer who ate all the pie.
And so, he's offering this entrails' phase
To kids who cannibalized not a few.
Although they've been fed mini-guys many ways,
Some fried crustaceans will do.

by Marmot Boy and Court-knee

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

In the news....

On Saturday I went to my first alternative rock concert. Since I know the lead singer of the band and am aware of some of the struggles he's going through, the whole concert inspired a lot of thought. I understand now, to some degree, the temptation to lose oneself in such intense, throbbing sound. I'm not ashamed to admit that this understanding is a bit frightening. It was an interesting experience, and I haven't yet digested all of it.

Ed and I are taking a sort of leadership training course that starts Oct. 1 and goes through mid-December. Since I'll be at the European Ladies' Retreat in Austria next week, I've started working on the homework required for the training course. Today I realized that I've quite forgotten how to study. Apparently, being a student is a learned art...and I seem to have unlearned it. :oP

Ripley knocked over the Love Fern again last night. I was not pleased, especially since most of the spilled dirt ended up in Ripley's litter box. I gave in and moved the fern into what will hopefully be a more stable spot. This past summer, I thought I was finally showing Mama's genes and developing a green thumb, but alas and alack, that thumb is turning black again. My Venus flytrap is struggling and seems ready to throw in the floral towel. And my beautiful, bright red begonia has decided to perish utterly. I despair.

Also this week: Everybody in the world is either having babies or wanting babies, and I wonder if I've got alien heritage, since all I really want right now is more time in each day so I can write and paint.

*sigh*

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Dream # 14

Kendera, your wish is my command. I'm posting this one because you requested. ;o)

I'm Not Pregnant!

November 30, 2001

Last night, I dreamed that Ed and I were going to have a baby. But I wasn’t pregnant; instead, Kendra was the surrogate mother. I was out of town on a business trip. When I called home, Ed informed me that Kendra had given birth to our child, a 17-lbs. boy. I didn’t even register the “17-lbs.” part—all I said was, “A boy? But I wanted a girl!”

Then the dream ended.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Blogged For The First Time Ever: The Cantrell Domicile

Well, here's what you've all been waiting for: pics of our apartment posted online. For your viewing pleasure, I bring you images from our dwelling-place here in the great Land of Deutsch. You will see digital photographic representations of every room in our home, with the exception of the kitchen and attic, neither of which is currently in publicly presentable condition.

So fasten your seatbelts, strap on your safari hats (Does one *strap on* or *don* a safari hat? I wonder...), and grab the helping hand of the person sitting next to you (Yes, even if it's a stranger in an Internet cafe--what's life without a little adventure?), because you're entering...

The Zany Zone...

...or something. Would someone humor me with a drumroll, please?

To kick off our tour, I'd like to show you the section of our hallway that is supposed to be my reading nook. Someday, when I get to buy a comfy chair, the dream of a reading nook will become reality. Until then, I shall content myself with perching on this uncomfortable, yet lovely chair with its genuine walnut armrests. ;o) Posted by Hello

A second picture of our rather peculiarly shaped hallway. In the other hallway picture, the front door was toward the left side of the image. In this picture, the front door is behind me and to my right, and the "reading nook" is behind me and to my left. If you're now completely confused, then my work here is finished. Posted by Hello

Please notice the small, black feline in the foreground. Ripley, in her ever-growing awareness of life beyond the confines of her small feline brain, decided that it would be interesting to follow me around as I took pictures of the apartment. She makes for a fairly good model, though she's not particularly receptive to suggestions that she pose. In pictures, she much prefers the "freestyle" or "natural" look.



Next, I'd like to direct your attention to the bedroom. I particularly enjoy the sheer mosquito netting that adds a romantic touch, though Ripley has been responsible for several large holes in it. She seems to think it's a great climbing opportunity. If this were a panoramic shot, you'd see a wardrobe on the left and another wardrobe on the right, but they're not very pretty, so I'm skipping them. Posted by Hello
Hopefully, I'll soon be able to start working on the bedroom walls, which I've wanted to do for at least two years. A deep maroon appeals to me, though I'm still debating on whether or not that would be too dark. On the other hand, a bedroom should look cozy and dark and romantic, so I'll probably just go with my artistic instincts on this.

A second shot of the bedroom. If Clint's stuff ever arrives from that black hole known as London (check April's blog for further info), we'll soon be the better-sleeping owners of a queen-sized bed (courtesy of Clint) instead of this double. Yay for more restful sleeping!!! Posted by Hello

Please turn your attention over here and enter the realm of the apartment-indigenous feline. This is Ripley's room, in which she generously allows us to do our showering and grooming and so forth. Today we had our first major mishap with the fern beneath the window. (Yes, Kendra, it's the Love Fern!!!) ;o) I don't know just what the cat did, but the fern ended up on its side and there was dirt everywhere. Ripley and I had a bit of an altercation over it. Posted by Hello

Ripley loves to stalk humans from the protective and secluded confines of the empty bathtub. Posted by Hello

Moving right along on our tour, we come to the livingroom, in which quite a bit of living occurs. This is also where we have most of our one-on-one Bible studies. The couch pictured left isn't really discolored--that's just an effect of the flash, I'm glad to say. ;o) Most people tend to comment on the comfort and warmth of our livingroom. I appreciate their appreciation, but I'm hoping to do something with the walls that will make the room feel even more inviting. I'm tired of all-white walls, so I'm considering something in a pale-but-warm yellow to match the throw pillows. Posted by Hello

Another shot of our livingroom. Notice the fun, jaunty angle of the crooked tablecloth. That is *so* characteristic of how things go around here. ;o) Posted by Hello

If I may direct your attention here, you will be pleased to note that two other beings besides Ripley also currently occupy our abode. Ed and Clint were sufficiently occupied with computers that they weren't aware of my picture-taking ambitions. Please disregard the general disarray visible in this pic. The office functions as office, art studio, and catch-all room, so it's difficult to keep it better organized than this. Usually, it's worse. Posted by Hello

To conclude our tour, and just for fun, let's venture into the depths of the office-computer-lab-catch-all, emerging on the other side in Courtney's art studio. Here you see what's been my work-in-progress since May. When I finally finish it, I'll blog an entry of it. Working title of this piece is "Soldier's Dream: Sweet Desert Rose." Posted by Hello

Well, that's the end of our tour. I hope you've enjoyed it. If you lagged behind at some point and found yourself taking a rest on one of the comfy couches in the livingroom, I don't blame you. ;o) If you've made it this far with me, then I salute you and dub thee Longsuffering And Persistent, and I thank thee for thy bountiful patience. You get a cookie. ;o) Stay tuned for future broadcasts featuring The Kitchen and The Nefarious Realms of Attic-dom!


simplicity

If you meet me and forget me, you have lost nothing.

But if you meet Jesus Christ and forget him, you have lost everything.

~Author Unknown


Friday, September 10, 2004

What's *your* story?

This morning, together with several others, I sang at the funeral of Rosi Kallus. Rosi and her husband Karl have lived in nearby Zwickau and worked with the church there for many years. I’ve never really known very much about Rosi—during the seven years I’ve known her, she has never been in good health. The few times I saw her, it seemed as though she didn’t have the strength for a long conversation; she and Karl never stayed late anytime I saw them at church or social functions.

Rosi was diabetic; unsteady on her feet; and in need of frequent medical attention most of her life. During the last few years, she suffered thirteen brain embolisms. These health problems were one thing I knew about her. The other thing I knew about her was that she never complained.

This morning at the funeral, Reiner Kallus, Karl’s brother, gave the eulogy. Reiner told us two things about Rosi that I didn’t know. And when I heard what Reiner said, it reminded me of something I think might be important.

Reiner told us that even before Rosi was born in 1940, it seemed that dark forces wanted to prevent her from coming into the world. Rosi wasn’t supposed to have been born. Her mother was in the process of having an abortion, when something went “wrong,” and instead of having an abortion, the woman had a baby. That was Rosi.

In 1945, Rosi was on a ship that was fleeing from the Russians. A Russian submarine torpedoed the ship, and the ship sank. Rosi and her foster mother were two of the very few people who survived.

God had a purpose for Rosi’s life, and he was determined to keep her alive, even when evil tried to take the upper hand and force her out of this world. I won’t go into the influence she had on those around her—for with her sweet, uncomplaining nature, that influence certainly was profound. Especially considering that her husband, Karl, wrote that her life is responsible for who he is today.

But what all of Reiner’s words reminded me of was this: Every person I meet has a story. When someone is present in my life, I probably take that presence for granted, without giving enough thought to what shaped that person into who he or she is today. But every person has a story, and every person’s story is fascinating in its own way. It seems to me that a great service would be simply to invite someone for a cup of coffee and a chat and say, “Please, tell me your story.” Inviting someone to share their thoughts, feelings, experiences, moments of clarity, moments of confusion and sadness…inviting someone to tell the story from the heart…. Wouldn’t that be an amazing gift to give someone?

And, if we all remained conscious that each of us has a unique, fascinating, and breathtaking story as part of who we are, wouldn’t that bring us to a better understanding of one another? Wouldn’t that help us recognize the value inherent in each of us, the special quality that sets us apart from all other creatures? If we made it a habit to ask each other for our stories, wouldn’t that create a soul-to-soul bond that would strengthen us as a whole?

If a small act of kindness is like a ripple in a pond, covering more and more area as it widens from the point of origin, then a small act of kindness can turn into a great act of selfless courage and sacrifice and love, years down the line and far away. If asking one person for his or her story is a small act, then that one small invitation could become a great empathetic, compassionate, unbreakable spiritual bond years down the line and far away.

If you do that one small act today, you take part in all great, loving, self-sacrificial acts that result from that point of origin. By connecting on a soul-level with even only one other person, you are changing the immediate area around you. By issuing one small invitation—tell me the story of your soul—you are a spark of light, driving out the darkness. And since that light will spread—the act of kindness, like the ripple in the pond, becoming great acts of courage far away—by illuminating the little corner around you, you are lighting the entire world.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

~ Jesus
Matthew 5:14-16

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

a thought or three

I know I've been negELcting my blog (that one's for you, Mr. Gambill). So, no reminders necessary. ;o) I will try to post more soon. I've been in an anti-writing mood again lately: every time I sit down with the intention of writing something--blog, email, novel, lessons--anything, I get this overwhelming sensation of tiredness. However, I'm well aware that the only way to banish that feeling is just to grit teeth, handcuff self to desk, and put the thumbscrews to self until self gets her butt in gear and does what she needs to do.

So, now that you have that lovely mental image, let's move on.

This isn't going to be a long post. In fact, I'm almost done. I have only two more thoughts to share:

One is a gripe. It frustrates me when people write "definatly" or "definately." The word is definitely. As in, de-finite. No longer finite or in question. Whatever the issue is, the possibility of finiteness has been taken out of it. I know that's not the correct etymological explanation for definitely; however, it helps one remember the correct spelling.

Yes. I know I'm a total grammar and spelling snob. What can I say, I was raised on My Fair Lady. ;o)

Second and final thought is a quote I'd like to share:

"There is a way of perceiving that leads to cynicism and divisiveness, a closing off of possibility; and there is a way that leads to a higher faith and love. To 'believe all things' means always to orient yourselves toward the highest possible outcome in any situation and strive for its actualization."

~Cynthia Bourgeault
Love Is Stronger Than Death

Monday, August 23, 2004

Dream # 49

Scarlett O’Hara Goes Antiquing

recorded May 6, 2003

Two nights ago, I dreamed that I was in Darmstadt in the American military housing area. I was on my way to the home of David and Margaret Hall to tutor their son, Clayton. (In the dream, I was 26, while Clayton was still 12; in reality, he’s in his early 20s, married, and has a kid.)

When I arrived at the Halls’ apartment, Clayton was going to let me in the door. But Margaret got upset with him, because they had just sold most of their furniture, and no one was supposed to know about it. I could see that their apartment was nearly empty. I thought it might be better if I weren’t there, so I left.

When I got outside, my friends Randy and Bri joined me, and we started walking through the apartment complex. We came to a building that had an empty apartment on the ground floor. We looked in the windows and saw that someone had left some antique furniture inside. We opened a window and climbed through to get a better look at the furniture. I thought, “I wonder if I can get at this furniture before Larry does.” (Larry is really into antiques in real life.)

When we finished looking around, we climbed back through the window. Then, the dream shifted, and I was in a recording studio. I was supposed to be doing a voice for a cartoon. The cartoon was of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from “Gone With The Wind,” and I was doing Scarlett’s voice. But the story was different from GWTW. Scarlett and Rhett were in a hot air balloon, and she pushed him out because she wanted to kill him. When he fell, he dropped a really fancy ring that was some sort of family heirloom.

Then I left the recording studio and went to a family reunion. Everyone from both sides of my family was there. We were sifting through old belongings of our ancestors, trying to divvy up the loot. It was strange because a lot of the ancestors were present, and they floated around the table like ghosts. There was a box full of old jewelry that I really wanted, because it included some beautiful antique rings. Some of th rings were transparent, too, as though they were ghost rings. Rhett Butler’s fancy ring was one of them. I was trying to think of ways to get those rings before anyone else could. Then, the dream ended.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Dream # 36

Run! It’s Eugene Victor Tooms From The X-Files!!!

March 8, 2003

Last night, I dreamed that I was someone else, though I don’t know who. I was vacationing at some kind of ski resort. Strange things began happening, and it turned out that one of my fellow skiers was really a monstrous creature bent on killing and eating me and the rest of the resort patrons. (The creature looked like Eugene Victor Tooms from the “Tooms” episodes of The X-Files.)

The other skiers and I were running toward the ski lodge, trying to get away, but the creature came after us in some sort of sailplane. He killed a great many of the other skiers. While he was eating them, ten of us managed to reach the lodge. We gathered up a few supplies and headed for the back of the lodge, because we knew the creature would be after us in a minute.

The lodge was built into the side of the mountain; at the back of it was an access panel leading to the ventilation system and a deep ventilation shaft. By climbing through the shaft, we could reach the old abandoned mines in the heart of the mountain.

As we climbed into the shaft through the tiny access panel, we could hear the creature coming after us. I felt jagged rock scraping my bare stomach as I pulled myself into the ventilation shaft.

When we reached the mines (which, strangely enough, were well-lit with fluorescent lighting), we tried to hide behind some equipment. But as I lay on the ground, trying to stay as still as I could, the creature caught sight of me and came after us again. We ran into another section of the mine, but the thing ambushed us. Eyes glowing and mouth frothing, it tried to reach us and bite at us. One of the guys managed to pull a gun on it.

Everything became very still as the guy confronted the creature. It glared at us and growled. We all yelled at the guy to shoot it, but for some reason he couldn’t. I grabbed the gun from the guy, but it was some kind of high-tech laser gun, and I couldn’t figure out how to fire it. I yelled, “Somebody tell me how to shoot this thing!”

Stupidly enough, one of the other women stepped between the gun and the creature. I guess she wanted to show me how to work the gun; but she left herself unprotected. The creature immediately attacked her, knocking her to the ground and raking its claws down her back. She screamed and passed out; I knew she would be dead in moments.

The creature ran off, and we pursued it; but somewhere in the mines, it found allies: a large, bald man with a mustache, and a dark-haired woman in a skin-tight, red leather bodysuit. Between the three of them, they began killing off everyone in our small group.

I smeared someone else’s blood all over myself and lay on the floor, pretending to be dead. Four of my companions did the same, so we were able to escape with our lives. But the three evil creatures sang bloodthirsty songs as they slaughtered the rest of our group. Then they left, and the five of us still living picked ourselves up out of the carnage.

Someone at the resort had brought along a pair of greyhounds on vacation, and the dogs had tracked us through the mines. They could now lead us further in, aiding our escape. We began the next stage of our long journey. Then the dream ended.

When I woke up, I had a hard time convincing myself that the Tooms-creature was not in the room with me.


Saturday, August 21, 2004

Cute Ed, The Former Bookstore Man


Woo hoo. How consistent I am! I said, "Let the pic-posting begin," and lookit me, I've posted a grand total of 1 pic so far. Posted by Hello

So here's a pic of Ed and me in a pseudo-Texmex restaurant in Prague. Sounds like I'm saying that tongue-in-cheek, but really the food was excellent. No, it wasn't the gen-yoo-ine Texmex we prefer...but it got the tastebud-pleasing job done. Yay for cultural diversity in food! ;o)

Plus, since I already narcissistically posted two pics of myself, I figured I should let people know what my sweet husband looks like. So here y'all go. ;o)

libera me

To see what we have never seen,
to be what we have never been,
to shed the chrysalis and fly,
depart the earth, kiss the sky,
to be reborn, be someone new:
is this a dream or is it true?

Can our future be cleanly shorn
from a life to which we’re born?
Is each of us a creature free—
or trapped at birth by destiny?
Pity those who believe the latter.
Without freedom, nothing matters.

--Dean Koontz
The Book of Counted Sorrows

Friday, August 20, 2004

my most random blogpost to-date

I’m bored. What a perfectly terrible state to be in. Also, I’m extremely tired and unable to think straight, yet strangely reluctant to go to bed. I have this irritating feeling that something else is supposed to happen today, although I don’t know what that could be.

Maybe this mix of weird emotions and physical exhaustion simply means that I did a lot but didn’t quite accomplish everything I needed to today.
I haven’t a clue.

In the meantime, some Random Thoughts By Courtney, Accompanied By A Few Quotes From Other People:

I’ll bet my hands would look a whole lot nicer if I could rid myself of this compulsion to pick at my cuticles.

I don’t think time travel will ever be possible via any sort of machine. If we ever figure out how to do it, it’ll be something more along the lines of “mind travel,” an entirely mental process that somehow relates to Einstein’s theory of relativity. (Anyone who has read “Dune” by Frank Herbert will know what I’m talking about; see: “Navigators” and “foldspace.”)

There’s nothing like the dusty, exciting smell of an old book.

The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness.”
--Anonymous

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
--Edward Everett Hale

Art for art’s sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants.”
--Author Unknown

I heard a fantastic German tongue-twister yesterday:
Der Zweck hat den Zweck, den Zweck zu bezwecken, und wenn der Zweck den Zweck nicht bezweckt, dann hat der Zweck ├╝berhaupt keinen Zweck.
Roughly translated: The purpose has the purpose of purposing the purpose, and if the purpose doesn’t purpose the purpose, then the purpose has no purpose at all.
I think it makes more sense in German than in English.

Ignorance is bliss. Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Cheese corrupts. Therefore, knowledge is cheese.”
--Author Unknown

I think I’m done for now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Atoms, Quarks, and the Meaning of Light

This one's gonna be a doozy. My admiration goes to whomever has the patience to read this entire entry and actually comment on it. These are some of the typical things that go through my mind at random times. And people wonder why I have a hard time sleeping. ;o)

‘…It’s what you said about atoms…what is it you can’t cut into smaller pieces? And then I thought—why, if it’s got any size at all, it can be cut. So an atom, it’s nothing more than just a place, one exact place, with no width at all.’

‘Euclid’s geometric point.’

‘…if it’s got no size, then it’s nothing. But it isn’t nothing. It’s a place. Only then I thought, it isn’t a place—it just has a place. If you see the difference. An atom can be in one place, one pure geometric point like you said, but then it can move. It can be somewhere else. So, you see, it not only has place, it has a past and a future. Yesterday it was there, today it’s here, and tomorrow over yonder.

…‘See, I start thinking, if this atom’s got no size, how can anybody tell where it is? It’s not giving off any light, because it’s got no fire in it to give off. …Just suppose this atom’s got no size, but it’s still got some kind of mind. Some kind of tiny little wit, just enough to know where it is. And the only power it has is to move somewhere else, and know where it is then.

‘…Say you got thousands of them just lying around, just going any which way. How can any of them tell where they are? Since all the others and moving any which way, nothing around it stays the same. But then suppose somebody comes along—and I’m thinking about God here—somebody who can show them a pattern. Show them some way to set still. Like he says—you, there, you’re the center, and all the rest of you, you just stay the same distance away from him all the time. Then what have you got?’

…‘A hollow sphere. A ball. But it’s still composed of nothing.’

‘But don’t you see? …(E)verything’s mostly empty. That anvil, it looks solid, don’t it? But I tell you it’s mostly empty. Just little bits of ironstuff, hanging a certain distance from each other, all patterned there. But most of the anvil is the empty space between. Don’t you see? Those bits are acting just like the atoms I’m talking about…’

‘You’re saying that what we see as solid objects are really nothing but illusion. Little nothings making tiny spheres that are put together to make your bits, and pieces made from bits, and the anvil made from pieces—‘

‘Only there’s a lot more steps in between, I reckon. Don’t you see, this explains everything? …

‘…The point is that everything is alive. That everything is made out of living atoms, all obeying the commands that God gave them….

‘…The atoms were nothing, just places that didn’t even know where they were. It’s God who put them all into places so he’d know where they were, and so they’d know where they were—and everything in the whole universe is made out of them.’

--Orson Scott Card
“Prentice Alvin”

“For by him all things were created: things on heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

--Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ
Colossians 1:16-17 (emphasis added)


My thoughts on these things:

Everything we see is composed of atoms. Atoms are composed of neutrons, protons, and electrons. And protons and neutrons, which form the nuclei (centers) of atoms, contain smaller “particles” called quarks.

Keep in mind, my comprehension of this stuff is very limited. But from what I’ve read, it seems that scientists aren’t really sure exactly what quarks are; in fact, some might say that quarks don’t actually exist. They seem to be nothing more than particles of light.

To the Christian, this begs the question: If through Jesus, all things hold together, and quarks--particles of light--are the smallest particles of everything that exists, then quarks are……?

From a scientific standpoint, I know I’m oversimplifying. But the thought fascinates me. The power of God infuses everything that exists. Whether you believe in God or not, you carry his power around with you, inside the atoms that make up the cells that make up your entire body. Your physical body is held together by the power of his will.

And what if his will is materialized in a particle of light that science doesn’t know how to define?

Kind of gives a new meaning to the phrase “light of the world.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

"The Passion of the Christ"; Love; and What Matters

We just got back from seeing “The Passion of the Christ” for the second time. First time was back in March, and tonight we went to the German version of the dollar-theater: the 1.50€-theater.

I’m not sure what I’m going to write about this. All I know is, I have the urge to write about it, so I’m just going to say whatever is in my head.

The first time I saw the movie, I started crying during the first scene and didn’t stop until the whole film was over. My thoughts as I watched provided quite the paradox: Through the whole thing, as the film depicted Jesus’s being beaten and flogged and spat upon, I remember thinking, Please don’t do this. Please don’t do this to him. Please stop. I call those thoughts a paradox, because in my mind I was speaking to people who’ve been dead for two thousand years, about brutalities that were done then and are in the distant past. It’s a paradox to ask someone in present tense to stop something from being done in past tense.

One of my main reactions the first time I saw the film was to acknowledge my own responsibility. I had an overriding sense of my own guilt. Some of you will accuse me of being too hard on myself; of tormenting myself with my own failures; of making myself into my own martyr. But I honestly don’t believe that was the case. And it still isn’t. I simply acknowledge that everything Jesus went through (my words are inadequate, so I won’t try to describe it), he went through for me. Every moment of pain he suffered, he suffered for me. In every moment that he chose to endure those horrors instead of allowing himself the release of death, he made that choice for love of me. He did all of that because he loves me, and he didn’t want me to suffer.

That’s not my guilt talking. That’s my unending and wholly inadequate gratitude.

Tonight, as I watched the film a second time, the tears were still there. If I can ever watch that, knowing that it really happened and that Jesus, my innocent savior, truly went through all that two thousand years ago…if I can ever watch that and remain dry-eyed, I’ll know my heart has grown cold and hard. Tonight, the tears were still there, and the paradoxical thoughts surfaced once or twice.

But right now, I’m dwelling on the final scene, the moment in which the stone is rolled away from the tomb and we see what happened next. Without the resurrection, the crucifixion is meaningless. And right now, I have an overriding sense of gratitude that God designed his plan in such a way that his son came back from death. I know myself to be so very blessed to have Jesus in my life, to have Jesus as my life. I mean this in the sense that I know that because I participated in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection through baptism, when God looks at me, he sees his son. That means more to me than I can express. When God looks at me, he doesn’t see my soul stained with sin—he sees his son. I have life because he has life. To me, that’s the most amazing fact in the universe. I can’t imagine anything more amazing. Or wonderful.

I think that when Jesus first sat up inside that tomb, as he opened his eyes and took his first breath as a living being again, as he realized that he was breathing and alive…I think he smiled. I think he smiled as he stood up, and I think he smiled as he walked out. I would love to know what he was thinking in those moments….but I imagine that he was excited. Because he knew something new and extraordinary was beginning—the worst was behind him, and this was the start of God’s new relationship with humanity. Finally, the bridge was built, the gap was closed. Everything God had ever done had finally culminated in Jesus’s death and resurrection, and now the new era could begin. From that point on, Jesus could call his followers his brothers and sisters and truly have communion with them. And I can well imagine that knowing this made him so happy and so excited, he walked out of that tomb with a great smile on his face.

How can I not tell people about this? How can I not tell people about him? How can I not let them know that he loves them so much, he allowed humans to torture him to death? How can I not let people know that he loves them so much, he stood up and walked out of a grave, smiling at the prospect of being with them in heaven forever?

I can’t remain quiet about this. If I tried, it would burn me up from the inside out. If I shouted it from the rooftops, it wouldn’t be loud enough, the sound wouldn’t carry far enough. I can’t not talk about this. It’s emotionally, physically, spiritually impossible for me not to talk about it. Nothing else matters.

There have been times in my life when I wanted to die. I wasn’t suicidal—I would never condemn myself by taking my own life. It’s not mine to take. (Another nifty paradox, but I like this one.) But there have been times when I looked around me and saw the pain of those around me, and I just didn’t want to see it anymore. I was sick of seeing people I love get hurt. And my reaction was that I wanted to die. I decided that the best solution was for me to be in heaven with God, where I could receive comfort and wouldn’t have to watch people suffer anymore. I was tired of seeing pain, and I wanted to be in heaven where I’d find rest.

I still want that. I still long to be in the presence of God forever, where I’ll find complete rest. But I add this to my reasons: I love Jesus, and I want to be with him. No love can equal his; there’s no personality more attractive; there’s no presence that gives more comfort. I love him, and I want to be with him more than I want to be with anyone anywhere else.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Telepathy; Or, Love: How Far Are You Willing To Go?

To approach telepathy, you start with empathy and crank that up as high as you can. You care about each other. You feel each other’s joy and pain. You make each other laugh, and help each other cry. You work hard at trusting each other, so that it’s safe to dismantle the fortress around your ego. You forgive each other anything that stands between you, and try to bring out each other’s best, you work very hard at hosing all the [junk] out of your head so that it’s clean enough for guests, silencing all the demons in your subconscious so that it’s quiet enough to hear somebody thinking at you, and most of all you finds ways to make that work so much fun that you keep on working. You stick together and love each other and keep on growing.

--Spider Robinson
The Mick of Time
in “The Callahan Chronicles

“The Callahan Chronicles” is a collection of Robinson’s science fiction short stories all based around a bar where “shared pain is lessened and shared joy is increased.” Robinson’s stories are some of my favorite writings ever—not because of the sci-fi element, which always fascinates me, of course…..but because the basic message and principles behind his stories are essentially godly--in the same way that J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis’s “Narnia” chronicles are essentially Christian works. I’m not sure what Robinson’s beliefs are—actually, a dim memory of something I read tells me he doesn’t necessarily believe in God. However, just based on the message behind his stories, I can say this: He gets it.


And regarding the quote above: I firmly believe that if we humans could ever figure out how truly to “love one another,” we would accomplish the kind of telepathy Robinson is describing.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Dutch lawmakers mull banning toe licking

Isn't the world a fun and zany place??!!?!?!?!??!?!!?!??!!!!!! LOL

Sunbathers bothered by toe-licker, but man not charged

The Associated Press
Updated: 1:11 p.m. ET Aug. 6, 2004

Toe-licking could become a criminal offense in the Netherlands after a man who licked the toes of several women was released by police without charges. The toe-licker, whose name was not released, was arrested in Rotterdam earlier this week after a woman who had been sunbathing said he unexpectedly licked her bare foot.

Other women had also complained, and the 35-year-old man has reportedly been pursuing his fetish for years, but prosecutors in Rotterdam said they are powerless to stop him.

“A lick over the foot doesn’t qualify as a crime: there has to be some kind of objective sex act committed,” said prosecution spokesman Cees van Spierenburg in the Rotterdam Daily newspaper. “That’s the way the law is.”

Lawmakers Peter van Heemst and Aleid Wolfsen, members of the leading opposition Labor Party, asked Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner in a formal complaint to change the law.

“How can you explain that we can prosecute someone for throwing a cigarette butt or soda can on the ground, but not for this kind of misbehavior?” the men wrote.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

yeehaw! let the picture-posting begin!


Well, this is my first attempt at using this Hello software. As is usual when I start using a program that's new to me, I have no clue what I'm doing. Ah, the story of my life. ;o) Anyway, assuming this works, here's a recent picture of me. ;o) Posted by Hello

EDIT: 08:15 p.m.
Hey, whaddaya know, it worked! Wow, that pic is way huge. I'll have to scale 'em down a bit in the future.
And wow, somebody sure was smart to invent software like this. And wow, I bet somebody's makin' a ton of money off it, too. Somehow. Even though it's free for the user. Hmm.....

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Dream # 65

Things That Make Ya Go……What The ?

February 22, 2004

Last night, I dreamed something that’s going to be very difficult to narrate, but I’ll give it my best shot. The dream started out with this man who had recently been in all the news reports and papers. He was accused of kidnapping or murdering his 1-year-old daughter—at any rate, the baby was missing, and nobody knew what had happened to her. The man was out on bail, and he was proclaiming to one and all that while he and his daughter were at the zoo one morning, he turned his back on her for just a second. They were standing in front of the lion cage. When he looked back, one of the lions had stuck its head through the bars and swallowed his daughter whole. There was no blood, and nobody saw it happen, so the man couldn’t prove this accusation. Nobody would listen to him, and although he tried to sue the zoo, the judge had thrown the case out.

So this man had decided to take matters into his own hands. He was crazy with grief and anger and the need for revenge. I was some sort of neutral observer, and I watched the man as he snuck into the zoo late at night and waited for the security guard to pass by the lion exhibit. Once the guard was gone, the man climbed into the lion pit carrying a huge butcher knife. I guessed he was planning attack the lion with it, or try to cut his daughter out of the lion’s stomach or something. He was muttering nonsense as he passed me, and I couldn’t understand anything he was saying.

Then the dream shifted to the path leading away from the zoo. The man with the knife came out of the zoo. I thought he must have been successful in whatever he had wanted to do, because he was still alive and was also covered from head to foot in the lion’s blood. By now, it was early morning, and the man started across the city, back toward his home. I followed him. In the distance, I could see someone jogging. The man recognized the jogger as a friend of his, so he hid, because he didn’t want his friend to see him with blood all over his clothes.

The dream shifted again, and now I was a woman whose name I don’t know. I was talking to Melanie, the mother of the baby girl who was missing. Melanie was sitting in a park, resting against a fallen tree and reading a book. When I asked what she was reading, she showed me the book. I couldn’t make out the title; and now I don’t remember what the book was about. All I know is that when I read a small section of it, I was horrified. Something about the book was deeply disturbing. Somehow, I knew that whoever read this book cover-to-cover would end up completely and irreversibly insane. I said, “There is something seriously wrong with this book!”

Melanie just sat there looking at me with this horrible, ear-to-ear grin on her face. Her lips and gums were bright red, as though she had been eating raw meat and her mouth was full of blood. I asked her if her husband (crazy lion guy) had read this book, too. Melanie didn’t answer me, but I already knew that she and her husband both had read the book and gone insane. I was sure that the little girl was dead somewhere and that these two crazy people had killed her.

I started to feel really disoriented, and I knew it was because I had read a small portion of the book. Suddenly, I remembered that a dozen copies of this book were lying around at my school (which one, I have no idea), just waiting for unsuspecting students to pick them up and read them. There were also a few copies at the church building. (?) I started running, trying to get to those books so that I could destroy them before anyone else read them. Then the dream ended.

??????????????

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Writing Exercise: Sensory Experience

As some of you might already know, I'm taking a novel-writing correspondence course through Writer's Digest School.  One of my recent homework assignments was a writing exercise in which I had to describe a sensory experience related to a scent.  I was rather pleased with the results, so I decided to share them below.  Feedback is, of course, always welcome.

 
Sensory Experience:  Night-Blooming Jasmine Body Cream from Bath & Body Works (my always and forever favorite scent!)

This scent lunges into my nostrils, and suddenly it’s summer. 
And all I know is heat.

A deep plum and wine velvet caressing the back of my mind, while my eyes see greens in shades from fresh jade to lime sunlight trying to penetrate shy new foliage.  And, where heavy, low-hanging branches droop to sweep their tendrils across ticklish tips of grass: a deep green of near-black tinges the shadows.  And still, all I know is this heat, heavy with maroon moisture, clinging to my body, dripping deep into crevices and sliding slowly across curves.  The cloying spice of my own sweat swathing my arms and chest.

I smell jasmine, and my heart rushes faster, and a heat of another kind coils itself in the center of my body, ready to burst from my fingertips.  I smell jasmine, and my breath quickens.  Tingle of anticipation fingering my lower back and along my hairline at the nape of my neck. 

I smell jasmine, and suddenly it’s summer, and anything can happen.


Monday, July 26, 2004

blogare humanum est

Just seemed like a fun thing to say.  ;o)

joyful thoughts

Really and truly, I must learn to trust God to take my worries and bring them to an end when he knows it's the right time.

When I made my last post, I was spiritually miserable, worried that I would never have the opportunity to make things right again.  Only rarely do I fool myself about the reality of death--I know that it can come unexpectedly, and I should live my life as if every passing moment were the only moment I have.  I think that if I were genuinely aware of the immediacy of death, that awareness would keep me from some of my more foolish words and rash mistakes.

I'm laughing at myself as I write this.  I even wrote an article on this subject: theorizing that humans are the only creatures in the created world--both spiritual and physical--who can both think about death as well as die.  Angels can think about death, but they can't die.  Animals can die, but they can't contemplate their own mortality.

When a human forgets to consider the reality of death, that human makes himself into nothing more than an animal. 

Evolution, if such a concept exists, has nothing to do with it.
Thinking has everything to do with it. 

So when I forget to think about death, I make myself into an animal.

That hurts.

At any rate, I believe that was one reason I was in such spiritual misery when I made that last post.  I remembered the reality of death--and worried that one way or another, death could prevent my ever making that wrong right again.

Single mistakes have a way of creating harmful ripples that spread and become wider and more destructive as they move ever outward, spreading from person to person.  A single harsh word today could turn into a terrible act of hatred many years from now, far away, by someone I've never even met.

If I sin against someone in this life, I want the opportunity to ask forgiveness and heal the relationship.  I don't want to live the rest of my life with an unforgiven sin.  And I don't want the other person to have to live with it, either.

I haven't been able to atone completely, yet.  That will only happen over time, as I earn back the trust that I destroyed.  But at least I received the chance to ask for forgiveness and received that forgiveness, as well.  At this point, I can't ask any more than that, and I am satisfied.

Here's the irony:  My opportunity to apologize came just minutes after I posted my last entry in this blog.  I've no idea if there was a connection between the two events....But still, this proves to me once again that God is in control over every situation.  He has a handle on things that I will never have.  Here I was, making myself sick with worry, wondering if it were going to be weeks or months or longer before the healing could start in this relationship.....And all the while, God knew that the start of the healing process was just around the corner.

Patience and faith.  I have so much more maturing to do in order to learn both.  I'm thankful God is giving me the opportunity.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

painful thoughts

Pain immobilizes.  Whether the pain is physical, emotional, or spiritual makes no difference.  When we hurt, we don’t want to move, for fear of jarring the wound and causing agony to flare up.  Emotional and spiritual pain can cause even greater physical immobility than physical pain can.  And when we hurt, we lie motionless in the dark, hoping and sometimes crying for the pain to stop.  The only movement we can make is to wipe ineffectually at a tear.

Thus, time passes until we can move again—until we can move forward again—and then, we discover that the pain has changed us…sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse.

Pain immobilizes.  And pain changes us.  Irrevocably.

I have made a mistake, and, as of this moment, I can’t do anything to make it right.  I have made a serious mistake—I have sinned against a friend—and because of circumstances and the severity of my mistake, I can’t make it right.  Considering what I’ve done, it feels selfish even to mention that *I* am in pain over this…But how can I discuss another person’s pain when I can’t even talk to that person?

So the only thing left for me is to express my own pain—and this feels like an appropriate place to do that, since nothing in my head or in my heart makes sense to me until I’ve put it in writing.  It’s a new experience for me, not being able to make something right after I’ve done something wrong.  Seems that when I’ve hurt someone in the past, I’ve always been in a position to ask their forgiveness and show them that I’m truly sorry.  Perhaps it took some time for me to win back that person’s trust…but at least, in those past situations, I had the opportunity to do so.

Now, I don’t have that opportunity.  I’m not even in a position to try.  I can’t make it right, and I feel completely helpless.  I’ve asked the person’s forgiveness, and I’ve asked God’s forgiveness.  Intellectually, I know that I’ve done what I need to do…  But I also know that it’s not necessarily enough.  Building up the trust in the relationship is the priority now, but I don’t have the chance to do that.  I can’t fence myself in and comfort myself with the knowledge that I’ve done what I need to do by asking forgiveness.  Yes, by the letter of the law, I’ve done the right thing in being repentant and asking forgiveness, both of God and of my friend.  However, I’m not a Pharisee.  And I know that the letter of the law is not nearly enough.

In spite of the fact that I’ve asked forgiveness, this sin is still on my conscience because I can’t start building the relationship up again.  It’s causing me pain because I know I’ve caused my friend pain, and I can’t do anything to alleviate that pain.  My own pain is immobilizing me.  This is still on my conscience, and it is ever before me.  It is affecting every aspect of my life.  I understand now why Jesus told his followers to “leave their gifts at the altar and be reconciled to their brother” if their brother had something against them.

My friend has something against me, and I cannot worship God in good faith until I’ve made it right again.  Unless I can make it right, the pain will continue to immobilize me, and I won’t be able to move forward.  I want to lie in the dark and wait for it to go away.  Though I know that ignoring it and hoping it will disappear is never the answer.

Maybe you think that I only want to heal the relationship because it will make *me* feel better.  I won't deny it--I do want to rid myself of this pain.  But will you believe me when I say that without this friendship, my world is a lesser place?  And that I want to heal the friendship for the sake of helping my friend stop hurting?  I hope you can believe that.

I am truly, deeply sorry for my harsh words, my selfish attitude, my pride, and my attempt to heal the breach in a frivolous manner.  I am truly, deeply sorry that I have not been the kind of friend that I expect others to be for me.  I am truly, deeply sorry that I have been the kind of hypocrite I have always disdained.  I honestly don’t know what else to do other than to say I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Dream #63

Sinkholes and Psychopaths  
   
recorded January 16, 2004

Last night I dreamed that I was just starting college somewhere.  I was living off-campus with several other students in a huge, ancient villa or mansion.  Daddy was at the house with me, and we were just leaving to go to my freshman orientation.  We were at the car, together with (real-life friends from OC) Dave and Caryn and their daughter.  I realized that I hadn’t locked up my cat, Ripley, so I went back into the house to look for her.

When I got inside the house, I looked back outside and saw that Dave and Caryn’s babysitter had arrived.  She was very tall and had her hair done up in a very fancy hairstyle.  She was also one of my housemates.

I couldn’t catch Ripley, so Daddy came back inside to help me.  First we couldn’t catch her, because she kept running away from us; then, we couldn’t even find her.  Finally, I caught a glimpse of her outside in the wheat field that stood next to the house.

I stepped outside through some folding glass doors and walked into the wheat field.  Someone had set a trap to catch snow leopard kittens, and I found one of them caught in the trap.  It was pleading with me to set it free, but then a man in a clown costume drove up in a rickety old car that looked like something a dogcatcher would drive.  The clown threw the snow leopard kitten into the back of his car and drove away.

I kept walking through the field until I’d circled around toward the front of the house.  Several people were moving down a wooden walkway that lead from the house out into the field.  I joined them on the walkway.  I knew that sections of it were prone to disappearing, and if a section disappeared while we were on it, we would fall into a deep pit.  Together with several others, I left the walkway and stepped back into the field.  There was a tiny path leading through the wheat, and we followed it for awhile.  We had to be careful where we stepped, because there were sinkholes that would suddenly appear beneath us.  Most of the sinkholes were shallow, only several feet deep.  But at one point, I turned around just in time to see the lady behind me fall into a hole that was twenty or thirty feet deep.

Several of my companions gathered around the hole and looked in, but I stayed away because I knew something terrible was about to happen.  The woman who’d fallen in was shouting up at us that she was okay.  But then we started hearing sounds like a huge animal growling and shrieking down inside the hole.  I think the woman screamed once, and then there was silence, and I knew that something had eaten her.  I got back up onto the wooden walkway and started helping several people who were trying to build another walkway on top of the other one.  This new walkway would hold us up if a section of the old walkway just disappeared. 
 
I began to realize that these people and the clown from earlier were all completely crazy, and they were trying to drag me down into their insane reality.  It seemed like the dream tried to shift backward into the scene when I was looking for Ripley, but everything was too hazy for me to see what was really happening.  Then the dream ended.




Dream #51

Lyme Disease Has Turned Me Into a Paranoiac…..I HATE TICKS!!!!!
 
recorded July 31, 2003
 
Last night I dreamed that Ed and I were spending the night at someone else’s house.  We were lying in bed, and the light in the room was very dim.  I was looking up at the ceiling…except that it wasn’t really a ceiling.  There were about ten or twelve screen doors that had been laid across the rafters, and they formed a ceiling of sorts.  Then I realized that there was at least one cat sleeping on each screen door.

In the dream, I started worrying that the cat had ticks that might fall off onto us as we slept.  This thought woke me up, and the dream ended.

However, I spent the rest of the night half-awake/half-asleep, worrying that since Grandpa Weger works outside a lot, he might bring ticks into the house and they might get on me.  (We’re in Lawton right now.)  I never really went back to sleep the rest of the night, because every time I dropped off, I started dreaming about ticks again.

Yuck.

I HATE THOSE MISERABLE LITTLE CREATURES!!!


Dreams shmeams

Well, since it seems that a blog post may be about anything, I’m going to plod on in my developing theme of Extreme Randomness and post two excerpts from my dream journal. 
 
I have always had extraordinarily vivid dreams—even when I was three or five years old, I was already having dreams of such detail that I can still remember them today.  I always dream in color.  Often, I am someone else in my dreams, experiencing the dream events from another person’s point of view.  Since I speak English and German fluently, I dream in both languages (English more than German, though.  Once, I even dreamed in French, though after waking, I had no comprehension of what I’d dreamed about.)  Sleepwalks have occurred, but only rarely—as far as I know!  ;o)  However, I talk, cry, laugh, and flail about on a regular basis while I’m asleep.
 
My husband Ed says that I have a big IMAX movie theater in my head at night, while all he has is a big, empty warehouse.  ;o)  But I think he gets the more restful sleep!
 
Almost three years ago, I began writing down my dreams as I remember them.  I give them a date, a number, and a title.  To date, I’ve recorded almost 70 distinct dreams. Of course, I’ve had many more than that during the last three years….but I record only the ones I remember well.  (The Duke claims this is a waste of time, but I say it’s an amusing, entertaining, and personally illuminating pastime.)  ;o) 
 The following two posts are excerpts from my dream journal.  Please don’t think I’m completely crazy.  (Only judgments of partial insanity, please.)  ;o)  Feedback is more than welcome.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

testing

Well, I tried to figure out how to post a picture in one of these things......  I went through (I thought) all the necessary steps, then hit "upload."  The nice little window told me, "Loading now, please wait," or something like that, and then the nice little window turned a lovely shade of white,and nothing else transpired.  This, of course, leads me to believe that I did something wrong somewhere.  No clue what.  Oh well, maybe I'll get lucky and April (chemnitzchronicles.blogspot.com) will solve the mystery tomorrow and let me in on this most important secret in the elusive world of blogging.
 
"Blog" is one of the new words I've learned recently.  It's not a particularly new word, but I, personally, haven't used it very much, so it's still somewhat new to me.  I'm delighted that it functions as both a verb and a noun.  Now, I'll be looking for opportunities to use it as an adjective and an adverb.  For instance:
 
I feel the urge to write in my blog today.  =  I feel bloggy today.  (bloggy = adjective)
 
The adverbial variant of "blog" would, of couse, be "bloggily," which demands somewhat more creative thinking when one is considering actual use of said adverbial variant.  Hmm........the wheels are turning....
 
I received an email from Fran yesterday, and it was more like a blog than a letter.  =  In Fran's email yesterday, she wrote rather bloggily.  (bloggily = adverb)
 
Ahh, I feel better now.  ;o)
 
Another new word is the curious term "metrosexual," which I find highly amusing.
 
And, my third recent favorite, "janky."  My introduction to this multi-functional word I owe to Mandy, who used it pretty much on her very first day here in Chemnitz.  I love this word!  It can mean anything, and flexibility is one of the top qualities I look for in an adjective.
 
I'm going to scare you now by stating that I am absolutely serious about the aforementioned statements.  ;o)
 
In other news, I recently found out that Alice Cooper lives.  This surprised me, because I hadn't heard anyone mention Alice Cooper in years.  What surprised me even more was the realization that I really like his song "Poison."  I guess that makes me a heathen, but oh well.  Such is life.  ;o)
 
And now, I am going to bed so that I can (a) be conscious for the daily morning meeting with Ed, Clint, and April in about 9 hours and (b) have energy for the aerobic workout that I hope will take place sometime tomorrow.  I want to make "Buns of Steel" my friend, but it is a relationship that moves forward only very slowly and is often trying.  ;oP

Something new to do....

Well, hm. This is interesting. I've never had an online journal--or blog, whatever--before, so this is a new experience. But I'm always up for new experiences (within reason, that is.....you perverts get your minds out of the gutter!) ;o) so that's a good thing. I guess one could say this is an experiment. I can't seem to manage to write in my private journal on a regular basis, so let's see if I can keep an online journal frequently updated for all my voyeur friends and family. ;o) (Sorry, I've had a lot of coffee today, hence the rambling and silly nature of this particular post. I promise, you'll get to see me on pedantic off-days as well.)

So.....what does a girl talk about on/in (What's the correct preposition? Do I write in a blog or on a blog? What are the correct parts of sentence structure to go with this relatively new term "blog"? [If nothing else, you now know that I'm a nerd. {And that I like parentheses.}]) one of these blog things? I hate to talk about just the weather and health-related issues....

....However, the weather has weighed heavily on my mind of late. It's cold here in the lovely green land of Deutsch. Currently, yes, it is July. And currently, yes indeed, we are having weather of the October variety. This is a great source of frustration for me. I.e., IT'S DRIVING ME BATTY! I WANT SUNSHINE!!! I DON'T WANT TO WEAR SWEATERS IN JULY ANYMORE!!!!!!! There, I feel better. I'm trying not to think about the lovely 100°F temeratures in Oklahoma.....it makes me homesick. Actually, I'm trying not to think of OK/TX much at all...I'm missing too many friends and family, and dwelling on that kind of homesickness just makes me sad. Not that I'm bottling it up...but I'm not allowing myself any pity parties.

...Related to that, I've started reading "Cross-Cultural Reentry: A Book of Readings" by Clyde Austin. I can't decide if what I'm experiencing is culture shock or cultural reentry shock...or both. I don't much want to go into that right now...I want to let it circle around in my head for awhile before I put thoughts into words. But I'll probably talk about it again at some point in the future.

Well, I think that's enough for a first entry. Or too much, you're probably thinking. ;oP But I'm gonna post this and see what it looks like and see what I think about the whole thing and so forth.