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


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. "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)