Saturday, December 31, 2005

new year for real this time

Happy real New Year, world!!! I'll post pics of our New Year's celebration later today, possibly tomorrow. Depends on how well my sleep-deprived brain functions in the afternoon. ;o) For now, I leave you with this final thought that was part of our ringing-in-the-new-year devotional earlier:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Philippians 3: 8-16

Happy early New Year!!!

My final post for 2005. How weird is that?!? ;o)

This is about 6 hours and 15 minutes early where I am, but...

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!!!!!!

Have fun tonight, stay safe, don't do anything dumb...

...but most importantly, my hope for all of you (and me) is that you (and I) will make 2006 the best year yet. Let's become better people than we were the year before...people more dedicated to serving others instead of our own interests; and for those of us who belong to Jesus Christ, let's become Christians more dedicated to serving God than to serving ourselves. Let's develop a deeper understanding of Christ's death for our sins; let's grow ever more intimate with our Father in heaven so that we can be more vulnerable to him and allow his Holy Spirit to change us fundamentally into the people he wants us to become.

Let's focus on making our relationship with God the single most important function of our existence.

Love to all,

Friday, December 30, 2005

new art on elfwood

Hi all,

Just thought I'd let you know that I have three new pictures up on Elfwood. You can find them here:

'Dance of the Peadog'
'Portal: Enter, Please'
'Where She Hopes'

Please note that all pictures in my online gallery are copyrighted. You may not alter (this includes resizing, cropping, or in any other way changing) or distribute them (this includes using them as clipart or decoration for your homepage, posting them anywhere online, etc.) without my written permission. I'm not trying to be mean; this simply has been a problem recently. Thank you for your consideration.

Feedback on the art is always welcome! :o)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

why evangelizing over here can be so difficult

Ponder the implications behind this statement, and you'll begin to understand why the work of the Lord progresses so "slowly" (by human standards) over here:

"The tragedy of Christianity in Europe is that the state church makes Christianity look about as attractive as the post office."

--Dr. Jim Baird
Advanced Seminar, Köln
January 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Courtney classic, pt. 2

When I made this post about how my life is a cult classic, I forgot to mention an all-important conversation pertaining to the subject. At the end of October, Ed, Clint, April, and I were driving to Dresden (this was back B.C.S.--Before Car Selling), and we started talking about what a movie of our lives would be like.

First, we decided that nobody would go see it. Then, we decided it would be a blockbuster. (Anybody remember what title we decided on?) And finally, talk turned to which actors would portray us. We came up with the following:

Clint: Jack Black
April: Courteney Cox
Ed: Adam Sandler
me: Drew Berrymore

What do you think???

dream #75

recorded June 27, 2005

For your reading pleasure I give you once again peeps in the foreign world of dreams and on-line translators. Find below please the 75-th dream which I registered in my dream magazine first on English then in German. The translations into both languages are complaisance of that. Enjoy!

Back Pain and Hallucinations

Last night I dreamed that a spider on my left arm crept. I tried to squoosh, but it would not become squoosh. When I understood that it was not about to die, I looked at it closer and understood that it was a tick! I continued to hit my arm, to smoosh the tick trying, but it would also not become smoosh. My only execution was to do my arm pain. So, in the end, I smooshed it between my thumbnails.

I thought that I was now o.k., but then I saw that there was a bump behind my left hand. I bumped after the bump, and something moved in it. I started being earned gross, but I seized a knife and began to cut in the skin at the back of my hand. The skin was really thick and meaty: I did not cut deeply enough even to hit bone, but I cut open 1 inch thick fabric from the back of my hand. I unloaded the fabric on the table. Blood and flaps of the meat were everywhere. I saw, in the end, that the moving thing was a spider in my hand. His legs were long and thin, and when I drew them, the spider glided directly from the back of my hand. This was still alive.

Me turned Ed and to speak me tried ones, but nothing would come out. I could not believe that I had cut just in my hand like this, and that a spider had lived under my skin. Ed it was earned just absolutely gross. The spider did weak, twitching movements on the table. Then there ended the dream.

When I woke, my whole left arm was a sore place, from my finger points the whole way in my shoulder and highly back. I think that I slept wrong on my left side, and my brain translated pain into the weird spider and discs of sharp images. YUCK!

Für Ihr Lesen-Vergnügen gebe ich Ihnen noch einmal ein Piepsen in die fremde Welt von Träumen und On-Line-Übersetzern. Finden Sie unten bitte den fünfundsiebzigsten Traum, den ich in meiner Traumzeitschrift zuerst auf Englisch dann auf Deutsch registrierte. Die Übersetzungen in beiden Sprachen sind Zuvorkommenheit dessen. Genießen Sie!

Rückenschmerz und Halluzinationen

Gestern Abend träumte ich, dass eine Spinne auf meinem linken Arm kroch. Ich versuchte zu squoosh es, aber es würde nicht squoosh. Als ich begriff, dass es nicht dabei war zu sterben, schaute ich darauf näher und begriff, dass es eine Zecke war! Ich setzte fort, meinen Arm zu schlagen, zu smoosh die Zecke versuchend, aber es würde nicht smoosh auch. Meine einzige Ausführung war, meinen Arm-Schmerz zu machen. So schließlich, ich smooshed es zwischen meinen Daumennägeln.

Ich dachte, dass ich jetzt o.k. war, aber dann sah ich, dass es eine Beule hinter meiner linken Hand gab. Ich stieß nach der Beule, und etwas Bewegtem darin. Ich fing an, brutto verdient zu werden, aber ich ergriff ein Messer und begann, in die Haut auf der Rückseite von meiner Hand zu schneiden. Die Haut war wirklich dick und fleischig: ich schnitt tief genug nicht sogar, um Knochen zu schlagen, aber ich schnitt ein Zoll dickes Gewebe aus dem Rücken meiner Hand auf. Ich lud das Gewebe auf den Tisch ab. Blut und Klappen des Fleisches waren überall. Ich sah schließlich, dass das bewegende Ding in meiner Hand eine Spinne war. Seine Beine waren lang und dünn, und als ich sie anzog, glitt die Spinne direkt aus dem Rücken meiner Hand. Das war noch lebendig.

Ich wandte mich Hrsg. zu, und ich versuchte zu sprechen, aber nichts würde herauskommen. Ich konnte nicht glauben, dass ich gerade in meine Hand wie das geschnitten hatte, und dass eine Spinne unter meiner Haut gelebt hatte. Hrsg. wurde gerade völlig brutto verdient. Die Spinne machte schwache, zuckende Bewegungen auf dem Tisch. Dann endete der Traum.

Als ich aufwachte, war mein ganzer linker Arm wunde Stelle, von meinen Fingerspitzen den ganzen Weg in meine Schulter und ober zurück. Ich denke, dass ich falsch auf meiner linken Seite schlief, und mein Gehirn übersetzte den Schmerz in die bizarre Spinne und Scheiben schneidende Images. YUCK!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

the decline and fall of the roman empire, part 2

Read this.

But don't look back. You might turn into a pillar of salt.

Monday, December 12, 2005

a few more fun pics

This was our first real snowfall in Chemnitz this year! Yay, it was pretty. Unfortunately, it was also a month ago, and the lovely snow has since departed, leaving dreary and wet in its wake. Anyway, this was the view from our bedroom window.

I LOVE SOCKS!!! My sock fanaticism is getting more and more pronounced all the time. This is one of my more recent pairs. The dorkier and more brightly colored, the better. Knee-high stripeyed ones are the best!!!

Last but not least, I'm taking a page out of Leenda's blog and offering a picture challenge: Can you tell me what this is??? The winner gets a pair of socks. ;o)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

some random pictures

A few recent pics to share, for no particular reason:

Three turkeys that were gobbling around at Thanksgiving. ;o)

My date for Thanksgiving. ;oP

Amy, you'll appreciate this one. On Saturday morning, we bought Pippin a new toy: a plastic stick with a string and a blue, feathered mouse attached. We affectionately started calling it "the birdmouse toy." Here's what we discovered when we came home last night:

Pippin's motto: Death to Birdmice!!! LOL

Courtney's Grammar and Spelling Pet Peeves

Ah, you knew this was coming eventually, didn't you? As much as I harp on accurate spelling and correct grammar, and since I've spent part of the last four years teaching conversational English, it was inevitable that I'd come to the point of needing to make a post about this ever-popular subject. *insert weary groans here* ;oD

Language is a beautiful, amazing, wonderful thing that God came up with. It is the basis of everything we do; without language--whether spoken, written, or signed--human communication and interaction would be impossible. Language carries the essence of our human cultures; you will never completely understand a culture until you know its language.

Communication is the foundation of positive human interaction. Conversely, lack of communication is the cause of our every misunderstanding. That's why I'm so interested in language, and that's the basic reason why I'm often so particular about spelling, grammar, and expression.

So, without further ado, I give you my list of grammar and spelling pet peeves. This list is subject to revising and to growth, so check back periodically if you're interested. This is my collection of frequent grammar and spelling errors that I have observed (and sometimes made) personally; some of them seem to be habitual errors that many native English speakers make.

And not to worry--I'm not anticipating any feedback on this one. ;o)


alot.....................................................................a lot






dieing.............................................................dying ( = losing life) 
NOTE: "dyeing" is the continuous form of the verb "to dye" = to color smthg.


family names:
These are the Cantrell's...................................the Cantrells
I stayed at the Cantrell's.................................the Cantrells'

had went........................................................had gone


If I would have warmer shoes,
my feet would be warmer...............................If I had warmer shoes, feet would be warmer.


it's (possessive, such as his, her, our)................its


loose (as in "not win).........................................lose
loosing (as in "not winning")...............................losing
looser (as in "not winner")..................................loser
NOTE: the adjective "loose" means "not tight." The verb is "to loosen."



productful.........................................................productive (as in location, such as "website")


their, there, they're.................................just figure out which is which ;o)



you're (possessive, such as his, her, my)..............your

your (as in "you are")'re

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

God-shaped holes

Marion and I had a great conversation at Marschner's tonight. Marschner's is the café down the street from the church building, where a lot of us go on a semi-regular basis to eat, hang out, and complain about second-hand cigarrette smoke. ;o) In the summer, it's the perfect place for ice cream.

Marion, for those of you who don't know, is my good friend--fun, witty, philosophical, rarely without a smile, and never without an encouraging word for someone who needs it. Marionuschka, this one's for you! Or something like that. ;o)

Anyway, as we were discussing the world's problems and trying to solve them, we started talking about what sorts of people we would be without God. I'll tell you my thoughts on that some other time....maybe when I feel more in the mood to expose my inner self to the world.

But that's another story. Marion and I were talking about how people are willing to try anything and everything to fulfill their own needs.....anything and everything except God. And I remembered reading once that each one of us has a God-shaped hole in our heart, a hole we spend our lives desperately trying to fill.

Remember that toy a lot of us had when we were little kids? It was a hollow, plastic ball--yellow!--with different shapes cut into it. Circles, squares, triangles, stars, etc. It had plastic pieces to go with it, pieces that were shaped like the holes in the ball. The idea was to find the shape that went with the right hole.

The only way to get the triangle into the ball was to stick it in the triangle hole. The only way to get the square into the ball was to stick it in the square hole. Sticking the triangle into the square hole wouldn't work. It didn't fit... Of course, if you were strong enough, I suppose you could force the triangle into the square hole....but you'd end up breaking the ball.

That's how we humans play with our hearts. We recognize that our hearts have holes, and we spend our entire lives desperately trying to fill those holes with something.

Work. Entertainment. Sex. Music, poetry, magazines, friendships, independence, cars, houses, movies, computers, science, ethics, morals, laws, philosophy, art, education, academics. We stuff all of those things into our hearts, yet our hearts still have these strange, alien holes in them. Nothing we stick into those holes can fill those holes up. All of those things I listed up there...we try to stick them into our hearts, but they're the wrong size, the wrong shape. Sometimes, we give up. We see that work won't fit in the hole, so we give up on work. We set the work-shaped piece aside and pick up the sex-shaped piece. And we try to stick superficial sex in the hole. But sex won't fulfill, so we try to pick up entertainment, fun. But fun won't fit, either. And we spend our lives going from one shape to the next, frantic to find the one piece that fits. And the tragedy is that nothing ever does.

Sometimes, we refuse to set a piece aside, and we try to force it into our hearts, even though it's the utterly wrong shape. And we wonder why we end up with broken hearts. We keep trying to force things into our poor, God-created hearts, and those things just don't fit. Our hearts aren't designed for them, and we crack our hearts wide open with our frantic, stubborn, futile efforts.

God, of course, is the answer. Those holes in our hearts are shaped like God, and he is the only thing that will fit, fill up, and fulfill. It's enough to bring tears to my eyes, that God can fit into each of us so perfectly, if only we'll let him. He's sitting beside us on the playing floor, waiting patiently for us to pick him up, look him over, and hold him up to the hole in our hearts. Out of all these pieces lying strewn about me, does this God-shaped one fit into this hole? Finally, is God the piece whose angles are right? The piece whose sides are the right length? Finally, after all the tears and trying, is he the piece that won't hurt?

Yes, he is. And he's waiting for you.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

a few things about me

Yesterday? the day before? I wrote the following for my bio on Chessworld, so I thought I'd post it here for fun:

...What should I say about myself?

At this writing, I am 28 years old--an obnoxious whippersnapper to some, a hopelessly old-fashioned biddy to others. ;oD

I love snow, but I hate the cold.

I have such bizarre dreams that my husband has said I have an IMAX movie theater in my head at night.

I was born in McKinney, Texas, but grew up in and around Darmstadt, Germany.

I feel American when I'm in Germany, and German when I'm in America.

I suspect I'd be most comfortable on a liferaft in the middle of the Atlantic. Except that I sometimes get lonely.

Someday, I want to travel to Egypt, Israel, Africa, and Australia, to see what I feel like when I'm there.

I believe that God created everything that exists; Jesus Christ is his son; and his Holy Spirit lives in me and guides me in my daily life. I'm a Christian, and I don't have all the answers. I sin every day, and I can only be grateful that God gives me his grace so that I can approach him.

I've lost 16 pounds in the last 4 months because I stopped eating all wheat and cow's milk products. Except on Saturdays.

I have a bachelor's degree in English/Writing, and I intend to be a published novelist someday.

I finished writing my first novel when I was 15.

I believe, as Lowell Liebermann once said, that "We live in a sarcastic age. A lot of intellectuals are uncomfortable with genuineness."

I don't know who Lowell Liebermann is, and I have no idea where I found that quote.

Someday, I would like to be on an episode of 24, Lost, The X-Files, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, even though those last two series have already ended.

I think I could have been a great actress if I'd ever gotten into drama.

I'm enjoying writing this.

Scatterbrained as I am, I often don't pay attention to what I'm doing. Especially in chess, much to my friends' dismay. ;o)

I'm a terrible cook.

I enjoy writing poetry, but I don't do it often enough.

Sometimes, I get so impatient with others that I could scream.

I've never stood in an empty field and just screamed for the sheer release of it. I should do that sometime.

I should tell people more often that I appreciate them.

I named my cat 'Pippin' because I adore LoTR.

I have a heart arrhythmia caused by a malfunction of the vagus nerve.

In November, I wrote 50000 words of a novel entitled "Triad."

When I was 20, I broke up with my first boyfriend over the phone. He was in America, I was in Germany, and I didn't want to lie over email and say everything was okay.

I love chocolate, but I hate Marzipan.

Sometimes, I do enjoy being considered eccentric,which is probably why I'm styling my bio this way. But I'm really just a simple girl who likes to be silly.

Most of the time, I have trouble thinking of myself as a woman instead of a girl. How can it be that I'm already an adult? I think that when I'm 80, I'll still think of myself as a girl.

I used to wear only browns, greens, and blacks. But now, I enjoy wearing all colors--even pink, which I once hated!--because it's fun.

I think I'm done now. Anything else you want to know?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

look! a non-NaNo-related post! aren't you relieved?

Here's something someone posted in the Chessworld forums recently. It gave me a huge laugh, language and English nerd that I am, so I thought I'd share it here. I bid thee happy chuckling!

Fun Anagrams















The Loch Ness Monster was given a Latin name - NESSITERRAS RHOMBOPTERYX - by Sir Peter Scott.
If you rearrange this, it gives you MONSTER HOAX BY SIR PETER S.


And finally:


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

oh, by the way.............

.....I'm done!!!

Final Word Count: 52,356! Woo hoo!

My brain is fried, my fingers hurt, and I think I should go get something to eat. Considering that during my last few NaNoing days, I've been fighting a sinus infection, I think I acquitted myself fairly well here! Yeehah, does this feel great!

Thanks to everybody who supported me this month, especially Ed, who gave me as much time as I needed, fielded phone calls and other similar interruptions, and put up with all my whining when the anti-muse struck. He's a keeper. ;o)

If you'd like to check out my NaNo profile and see my picture, my book interests, and my nifty you've-reached-50k-and-beyond blue bar, click here.

NaNoWriMo rocks!

Over and out.

can we stand the tension? can we?

I know, I'm a dork.




if i quit now, it would be stupid

6 words left.

closer still!

I have 35 words left!!!

even closer!

323 left!!!

almost done!

I've reached 51766.

410 words to go!!!

progress report


2757 left to go!


Okay, people, this is it. I have reached a word count of:


which means that today, I have to write

3987 words.

Can I do it???

We shall see. I'm off to write! I'll do periodic updates as the day stretches on. I have just over twelve hours to if I can't do this, I'm calling myself a loser. There. I said it. ;o)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

world's ugliest dog dies at 14

Check out this article. Hard to believe this horrendous creature isn't a Hollywood creation! :oP

Thursday, November 24, 2005

this week's NaNo pep talk

Dear Writer,

Many weeks ago, when November was just dawning, I consulted a fortune teller about you.

She was a young fortune teller, wearing the maroon striped shirt and name badge common to her trade. She was seated comfortably in her fortune teller's booth, with a line of customers queued up before her.

This is how I knew I had chosen a good fortune teller.

When it was my turn for a consultation, I approached and said the following:

"There is a NaNoWriMo participant I am curious about. I am sensing moments of excitement in Week One, and bouts of boredom in Week Two. I'm also sensing a streak of stubborn perseverance and a rising sense of satisfaction in Week Three. But then, in Week Four, the whole thing goes blank. Tell me, oh wise fortune teller: What will happen to this participant in Week Four?"

She smiled a very portentous smile. And then she asked me for $10.

Reluctant of being swindled, I asked if I might be able to pay at the end of our session. She was very insistent about the money. My suspicions raised, I reluctantly left without ever discovering your fate.

I've since learned that she was not so much a fortune teller as she was a ticket seller at the local movie megaplex. It was an honest mistake, and, frankly, the young woman's job description is beside the point. Because after that, I sat down and did the tough cogitating necessary to discern your NaNoWriMo destiny.

It turns out the ticket lady was right to be grinning.

You're going to win.

Yep. Before November ends, you will find yourself on the edge of 49,000 words. Getting there might require a lot of work between now and next Wednesday. But get there, you will.

When you round that corner, and 50K comes into view, know that all of us here on staff will be rising to our feet, screaming ourselves silly with the rest of your family and friends, as you lift your arms in a victorious salute and fly across the finish line.

Triumph. Celebration. Sleep.

It's all just a few days away.

We'll see you on the other side of 50K, novelist.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

today's final tally

Okay, here's the deal: In my story, I caught up to a section of it that I wrote *before* I started nanoing. So, technically, I can't count that section--2175 words--as part of my NaNo novel. However, I want to keep that section in the document so that I'm clearer in my mind about what's happening in the story. Therefore...

I have to up my final word count goal. Instead of 50,000, I have to reach 52,175. I'll still actually only be writing 50k during this month, it'll just look like more. So here's my count for today:

Word Count: 41645!!! of 52275

Left to go: 10630!!!

is it bad for water to be running out of my keyboard?

So about twenty minutes ago, I was happily nanoing along, exceeding my word count goal for the day, yay me, enjoying the cozy warmth of the office and the deep-sleep antics of Pippin. Then, fool that I am, I decided I was thirsty. After all, I'm still human, and water is something my body happens to require.

I grabbed my trusty Brita pitcher--the one with the built-in water filter--filled it, and brought it back to my desk, where I sat down. As one does when one wishes to fill a cup, I set said cup on aforementioned desk and proceeded to fill the cup--did I mention it's a Lord of the Rings cup with Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, Legolas, and the Pepsi logo on it?--with the water that was cheerfully filtering away in my trusty Brita pitcher. The one with the built-in water filter.

When the LoTR cup was half full, the lid of my not-so-trusty Brita water pitcher popped off.

Water everywhere. Soaking my lap, sloshing over the desk, filling the chinks between the keys on the keyboard, and coming dangerously close to the digital camera. Even the mouse was deluged. I didn't know what to pick up first, so I just left it all there and went to change my clothes instead.

Apparently, one should not consider a keyboard to be out of commission, necessarily, if one picks it up and water runs out of it. I shook it out as best I could, gave it a thrice-over with my hairdryer, and, as you can read, am now typing merrily away on it. The moral of the story--which I am bringing to an anti-climactic close, I know, but I need to get back to my NaNo novel before it's time for bed--is this:

Brita pitchers--the ones with the built-in water filters--do not always make the best sidekicks.

The End

This story has been brought to you by the number C.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

first update for today

What with calling Ed in Bulgaria to ask if he and Larry made it to Sofia, and calling Daddy in Mörfelden to ask if he's heard from Mama in Egypt (he has, finally), and fighting with the computer, I didn't get any writing done yesterday evening. Hence, I have only the following humble word count update to offer:

Word Count: 37244

I'm off to try to add to that. That's three "to"s in one sentence. "To" made up 37.5% of that sentence.

Ching! Now I'm procrastinating. ;o)

Monday, November 21, 2005

first nano update in forever

Word Count: 36187

Left to go: 13813 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Courtney classic

When I should be writing, I'm procrastinating and finding fun things on other people's blogs, like this fun thing I found on Patricia's blog:

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic

Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.
But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.

Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski

Of those three movies, I've only seen "Office Space," and though it's funny, it's not one of my favorites. I guess my life is a cult classic with all the profanity bleeped out of it.

Actually, that's pretty accurate. ;o)

Friday, November 18, 2005

call the waaaaaaaaaaahhhhmbulance...

...the beermakers are pouting. My heart really bleeds for them.

I read this article about beer market woes on Yahoo! this morning. Apparently, beermakers are worried because their target market, COLLEGE STUDENTS, is turning from beer to other forms of alcoholic entertainment. Truly tragic. One marketing CEO said, "Beer isn't as cool and sexy as it once was."

That's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. The majority of 20-somethings who drink beer (or any other alcohol) drink so much of it, they end up puking their guts out on a regular basis. Since when is that cool and sexy?

Oh yeah, I find vomit particularly attractive in a male.

How ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

a wednesday update

Word Count: 29182

Ahead of schedule. This week rocks the writing world. ;o)

a thought to share

It's taken me 14 years, but I'm finally becoming more disciplined in my personal Bible study. I haven't accomplished the ultimate goal of studying every day...but I'm working on it. Slowly but surely. :o)

Anyway, here's a passage that I read this morning, and it really encouraged me. Maybe it'll do the same for you.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
and virtue with knowledge,
and knowledge with self-control,
and self-control with steadfastness,
and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection,
and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

II. Peter 2: 1-11

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

done for the day!

Word Count: 26213

If you haven't been reading my blog and are wondering what all the word counts are about, click here.

a NaNo peptalk

Every week of November, Chris Baty, the director of NaNoWriMo, sends out a peptalk email to all 55000 NaNo participants world-wide. I thought I'd share with you the email he sent this morning. Perhaps it will inspire some of you crazies out there to go ahead and jump in the boiling pot with the rest of us and churn out your 50k words in just 15 days instead of 30. ;o)

Dear Writer,

Did you happen to order a breeze from the NaNoWriMo store?
Because we have a second wind here with your name on it.
Ha ha ha.


Welcome to Week Three of National Novel Writing Month! Where, in addition to corny jokes, we have some amazing things to look forward to. This is the seven-day period when the drudgery lifts, our stories fall into place, and everything becomes much, much easier. As you sail into the Week of Speed, here are a few good things to keep in mind:

1) The more you write, the more inspired you're going to feel. If you're feeling pokey now, it's because you're not writing enough. Push yourself to write every day, and make a point of adding something to your word count any time you're within striking distance of a keyboard. Harness the power of micro-sessions. If you're far behind, stop figuring out where you're supposed to be each day. Instead, just dive into your story and write until you've rolled the word counter up by a thousand. Then take a twenty-minute break, and go after another thousand. Don't worry about getting caught up - that'll take care of itself. Just keep rolling those thousands.

2) Don't linger in the 20,000s. The 20,000s are a quicksand pit filled with dyspeptic hyenas. The best way to deal with the 20,000s is just to heave yourself into them and then write like mad until you're out again. Some participants do the 20,000s in three big days. These are wise participants.

3) Abandon the quest for pretty sentences. Beautiful language is small-stakes writing. We're doing something epic here. We're aiming for completion. We're shooting for the dramatic arc, for the roar of the crowd, for the ticker-tape raining down on us in slow motion as we type our final sentence, run one last word count, and then close the book on a truly triumphant month.

This is big. This is very big. And it's yours for the taking. But to get there, you need to give yourself permission to make messes. To write ungainly sentences and create absolutely atrocious dialogue. I know it hurts to leave ugly prose in your book. But you can polish everything to perfection next month. For now, it's all about crossing the halfway point of your novel and beginning the sprint homeward.

This is your moment, writer. That second wind is rising, and your victory begins today.
See you in Week Four!


There you have it, ladies and gents. I'm off to micro-session some truly atrocious prose!
Hugs to all,

Monday, November 14, 2005

i got caught up today!!!

God must've given my feeble brain and my inaccurate fingers a boost today......I managed over 5800 words!!! WOO HOO. Once again, I feel like this crazy 50k word goal might actually be attainable. By me. Please excuse the passive voice. *grin*

Word Count: 23920

Also, I found this really terrific quote today. A medical guy named Edmund Bergler wrote:

"Every writer, without exception, is a masochist, a sadist, a peeping Tom, an exhibitionist, a narcissist, an injustice collector and a depressed person constantly haunted by fears of unproductivity."

There you have it, folks. Now you finally know what's wrong with me.

Or, as they say in Korea: Ching!

stats for this morning

Blog Comments Answered: all of them, so if you've commented lately, you can go back and read my reply.

Word Count: 18045

Number of Words Behind: 5755
Hopefully, this one will change significantly by the end of the day. I'll keep you "posted," ha ha.

Friday, November 11, 2005

ich will euch updaten

Yeah, so only German-speakers will get why that's funny. Ah well. Sorry, friends. ;o)

Word Count: 17070

Currently this many words behind schedule: 1630

My parents are arriving this evening to stay for the weekend, so by Sunday night, I'll be even further behind. However, that's why God created Mondays, right?

My apologies to everyone who expected to hear from me this weekend. With regularly scheduled activities, NaNo, a sick cat, and preparing for company this weekend, I've had no time to communicate with anyone. I'll be communicado again in December. :o)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

nano and a picture

In spite of vet visits, studies, and having to boil an entire chicken for the cat...

Word Count: 14874

I didn't write yesterday, as predicted, so I'm a bit behind at this point. To be on-schedule, I should have 15300 today; perhaps I can make up for it tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's a picture of the costume I wore to Bri and Randy's Fall Party last month:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pippin's sick... I don't know if I'll be writing at all today. What with visiting the vet and trying to keep the cat comfortable, I haven't written anything. Besides, I'm concerned about her, so I'm not sure I could write anything anyway. The vet said it might be a bladder or kidney infection, which are serious illnesses for cats. Or it could be a minor digestive problem.

*sigh* I don't think I could handle the death of another friend in the space of seven months. On the other hand, I shouldn't borrow trouble, right?

Monday, November 07, 2005

today's final tally

Naps: 1
Bible Studies: 2
Meals: 2
Conversations with Jehovahs Witnesses: 1
Snacks: 2
NaNo Forum Visits: 2
Yawns: uncountable
Word Count: 13237

This means I've officially surpassed the measly 12.5k word count that I managed during last year's NaNo. I rock. ;o)

today is better, so far

Word Count: 12538

Sunday, November 06, 2005

life happens...

...and sometimes, it conspires against me. I managed a grand total of 526 words today, one fourth of what I wanted to do. Ah well, there's still tomorrow, eh?

Word Count: 10711

Saturday, November 05, 2005

today was tough

And I don't know why. Perhaps because I dreamed poorly last night and never really got over it. Perhaps because my inner editor is starting to rear its ugly, word-chomping head, complaining that I've been keeping it unfairly caged for this crazy NaNo nattering I've been doing. I don't know. At any rate, I didn't quite get my preferred word count out today--about 1500 words instead of the 2000 I'd rather do.

Maybe I just had too much time on my hands, and that sadistic little editor inside of me started whispering, Take your time. Re-read. Re-arrange a couple of sentences. C'mon, what harm could it do? You've got all the time you need today. Take it easy. Take it slow.

Result: wimpy word count, frustrated Courtney, and a bunch of characters who seemed not to want to be anything I thought they should be. I wanted my healer cleric to be so arrogant in her self-righteousness that she looks really bad to anyone observing her. But nooooo, instead, she had to be arrogant, self-righteous, and reasonable. This makes me wonder if maybe she's a little bit off her little healer cleric rocker. Which I didn't see coming at all.

I guess I just couldn't see today. In one of his books, Stephen King calls it "seeing through the paper." Looking past the paper, past the sentences and words and letters, watching as a hole opens up in that paper and shows you that other world you're trying to get to. And then, when the hole opens up and you can see, you can actually be there and then come back and describe it to your readers. Just a matter of telling them what you see through the hole in the paper.

I couldn't see through it today. The words got in my way, and the inner editor got in my line of sight.

*sigh* Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Word Count: 10185

(Actually posted 12:33 a.m. on November 6th, but I wanted this one to count for Saturday.)

we interrupt this program to bring you...

...Courtney's procrastination.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

today's NaNo update

Today, I thoroughly embarrassed my heroine by making her ride a horse that's usually reserved for high-ranking officials. The embarrassing part for her is that she got to ride while her best friends, who are captives of the bad guys, were forced to march all day after sleeping all night in the mud. What's worse, my heroine's evil, gorgeous cousin is worming her way into the affections of the guy who's my heroine's best friend. This is going to cause some jealousy, I expect.

Word Count: 4557

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

the spot on my nose

Okay, since inquiring minds want to know, here's the scoop on the whatever-it-was that was on my nose:

A few years ago, I started noticing these little colorless spots about pinhead-size on the backs of my hands. They're practically invisible to anyone but me unless I point them out. I don't know what they are, but since they haven't changed in size and haven't gained color, I don't worry about them.

About a year ago, I noticed one of those spots on the bridge of my nose. This I didn't like, because that's just about the same place my Grandma Weger had skin cancer. So I decided to keep an eye on the spot, make sure it stayed as it was, and not worry until I had something to worry about.

Then six weeks ago, I guess I scrubbed a bit too hard while washing my face, because suddenly these tiny red dots began appearing inside the colorless spot. To make a long story short, over the course of about four weeks the whole spot turned red and doubled in size. Needless to say, I decided that this was something to "worry" about, i.e. something I should be concerned about. So I got me an appointment with one o' them thar skin docs for October 27th.

The dermatologist said the spot was probably a "Blutschwämmchen" (lit. "little blood sponge"), which, apparently, is a localized swelling of tiny blood vessels. Or capillaries. Or something. As near as I can figure, the English term for it is "hemangiome." Anyway, she deadened my nose with a shot (thin skin + many nerve endings + pointy needle = a LOT of pain), sliced the offending growth out and off (the procedure, even in German, is called a "shave"), used electricity to cauterize the wound (which didn't smell very good), and sent the little blood sponge off to the lab to be tested.

I assume this means a bibopsy (that one's for Jennifer ;o). The doc said that if it's something that requires further treatment she'll call me; otherwise, she'll jus send me the lab report. So while I wait for my nose to heal (it looks none too pretty right now), I'm praying for a letter in the mailbox.

I'll keep y'all posted.

NaNo update

Am finally getting my heroine on a horse, on the road, and into the adventure that's been waiting for her since I started this story two years ago. Okay, technically she's already been in the adventure awhile...but at this point, she's starting to realize it's going to be worse than she expected. Ah, suspense. ;o)

Word Count: 2415

Monday, October 31, 2005

first NaNoWriMo update

Well, here it is November 1st, and I've started my writing for this year's NaNo (see this post for clarification)! I'm exhausted, as I stayed up late on purpose in order to start writing. Otherwise, I might be displaying a bit more enthusiasm right now. ;o)

However, just wanted to let my adoring public know that the game's afoot (as opposed to a hand, of course), and my whirlwind November romance with the written word has begun! Yay. I wrote for about half an hour. And now I'm going to bed.

Word Count: 481

Friday, October 28, 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005

p.s. announcing nanowrimo

...And before I forget, I want all of you to know that I'm definitely going to participate in NaNoWriMo in November! That's short for National Novel Writing Month. If you don't want to bother with clicking the link, here's a brief brief on what it's all about:

Every November, ordinary mortals from all over the world sign up at this website, thereby pledging to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and 30th. Writing starts and ends at midnight, local time, on those respective days. Novels can be about anything you want, in any language you want. You can write in the Highland Dialect of Outer Zoob if you wish, as long as you write 50,000 words in the HDoOZ. In order to meet the 50k goal, writers should write an average of 1,700 words per day. (Or you can do all 50k on the very last day, if you want to try--but I wouldn't recommend it.) You can drink as much coffee as you want and act as weird as you want and be as reclusive as you want, all during the month of November.....because, after all, you are writing a novel!

Why do this? First of all, because it's a fun, zany project that carries all the prestige and accolades of achieving something that most of the world doesn't care about. Second, because it's a way to make "one day" a reality. As in, "One day, I'll write that novel I'm always talking about." Well, keyboard up, folks, because that day is right around the corner!

So. This is what I'll be doing during the month of November, in addition to everything else that daily life brings with it. I predict for myself many late nights, early mornings, and frantic, key-pounding between-times. Just so you know in advance, I won't be very communicative during those four weeks! I did NaNo in 2003 and "won" (i.e. accomplished the 50k goal); but, to my dismay, I didn't get much past 12k in 2004. 2005 will be different! I'm gonna win!

I'll be blogging about NaNo as I go along, updating those probably few of you who are interested. ;o) I'll post my daily word count, my characters' foibles, my hair-pulling moments, and my triumphs. For me, at least, it's gonna be a wild ride. ;o)

Anybody care to join me???

nano icon

more Pippin and some goings-on

Here are a few more pictures of our cute new kitty:

In other news:

1. I have discovered that I'm allergic to rice milk. Since that's mainly what I've been consuming since I gave up cow's milk, this leaves me with soy milk as my alternative. That's fine with me--I think soy milk tastes better than both cow's milk and rice milk. However, a doctor one told me that I have slightly low thyroid levels and should stay away from soy. But another doctor told me my thyroid is fine. I don't know what to believe. So I'll be drinking soy milk. ;o)

2. Today I have an appointment with a dermatologist to find out what this spot on my nose is. I'm praying it's nothin serious--but the location of the spot (as I said, on my nose), as well as the color of the spot (red) and its shape (irregular), make me a bit suspicious. Hopefully, the doc'll just tell me it's a wart (as unseemly as that may be! but preferable to skin cancer) and slice it off (the spot, not my nose), end of story. I'll keep you posted.

3. Day by day, I also discover that I don't know nearly as much as I thought I did.

4. Ed and I are very close to announcing our decision concerning our future. On November 1st, we will have been in Chemnitz for 4 years. Our original commitment was for five years. So we'll be letting everyone know we plan to do a year from now: stay in Chemnitz or go back to Oklahoma. If we stay, we'll have to start fund-raising again, so that alone might make the choice for us: If we can't find the funds, then we can't afford to stay. We've been praying about this decision and asking God for guidance--it's an agonizing choice, to say the least. We just want to follow God's will and go or stay where he wants us to be.

Hugs to all,

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Top 10 Things I Love About Chemnitz

In random order:

1. The history of Chemnitz can be traced back to 1136 A.D.! To put it plainly, I love old places.
2. There’s a castle right up the street from our house! How cool is that?! Its name is “Rabenstein,” which translates into “Crow Rock.” Somebody told me it’s the smallest castle in Germany. I don’t know if that’s true or not…but it’s still fun to say that I live next-door to a castle!

3. The Chemnitz Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) is one of my favorite things about winter and the Christmas season. Beautiful lights everywhere; all the traditional Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) Christmas decorations; hot spiced wine; chocolate crêpes; and roasted almonds. Add snow to the mix, and you’ve got a perfect winter evening!

4. The church in Chemnitz is a family with problems, squabbles, challenges, and disappointments…as well as forgiveness, openness, compromise, love, and spiritual growth. Here, I feel like I’m part of a family that sticks together with the common goal of serving and obeying God.

5. Our apartment is in an apartment building full of offices. We live on the top floor. After business hours and on weekends, we have the whole building to ourselves—which means we don’t have to listen to neighbors through the walls!
6. Our neighborhood has quite a bit of variety. Next-door, we have Clintsky and Aprilska—the “Eberharts,” as we like to call them—and the Sullivans and the Smileyneel live on the other side of the backyard. Therefore, I like to call our neighboorhood the Christian Ghetto. ;o) On the other hand, up the street there is housing for alcoholics who have no place else to go. Some of them frequently make their presence known by congregating in large groups outside of the local grocery store. In the summer, they congregate in the nearby park and make rude comments at passersby. This makes life around here pretty interesting sometimes.

7. Uncle Karl presides over the downtown area. Uncle Karl is the bronze, 7.1 meter tall, whopping 40 ton sculpture of Karl Marx’s head, resting on its granite base. Yes, that’s Karl Marx, the Father of Communism, also the former namesake of Chemnitz. (During Communist times, Chemnitz bore the name “Karl-Marx-Stadt.”) Why am I amused by this? Well, directly behind Uncle Karl is a huge, stone tablet proclaiming, “Working men of all countries, unite!” And directly beneath that, perfectly visible behind Uncle Karl, is “Jeans Live,” a clothing store whose logo is taken from the Stars and Stripes. Ahh, poetic justice. ;o)

8. The woods around Chemnitz are great for walking and hiking. Right up the street (past our neighborhood castle!) is a gorgeous section of woods with up- and downhill trails, through firs and pines and leafy trees…and past an out-of-town part of the zoo that houses wildcats, deer, and buffalo! The last time we were there, I took some gorgeous pictures of the setting sun shining through the trees…it was an atmosphere I can only describe as magical.

9. Chemnitz is full of random art, which is a source of neverending amusement to me. I don’t know who’s responsible for them…but peculiar, modern-art-type sculptures dot the city in many unexpected places. Deer made of wooden beams, a metal donkey, and a giant pear are three of my favorite examples.

10. Multi-cultural food is available to suit every palate. (Do I sound like a travel guide or what?!) Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Chinese, Pseudo-Tex-Mex, and not to forget good German fare! ;o) Accordingly, when funds allow, I can indulge my taste for souflaki, döner, sushi, eggrolls, whatever Tex-Mex-like dish sounds good, and Rolladen!

Thank you for choosing Cantrell Travels for all your vacation needs! Please remain seated until the tourbus has come to a complete stop.

Bye-bye now! Bye-bye! Bye-bye!

7 Lists of 7s

Not in order of importance! ;o)

7 Things I Want To Do Before I Die...

--grow in my relationship with God
--learn Ancient Greek
--get my bellybutton pierced (though some might think this conflicts with #1) ;o)
--publish a novel / sell some paintings
--live someplace where it’s warm (Hawaii!)
--have at least one child
--visit Ireland again

7 Things I Can Do...

--tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue
--write novels
--eat two Big Macs in one sitting
--talk to God
--paint mostly realistic portraits
--speak German and some French
--read enough music to get by on

7 Things I Can't Do...

--keep my mouth shut a lot of the time
--stop telling people about Jesus
--jog for more than five minutes
--be patient a lot of the time (I’m putting this in the list even though I recognize that I *could* be patient more often if I really wanted to be.)
--fix a car

7 Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex...

--active faith in Jesus
--sense of humor / wit
--the ability to listen
--eyes, smile, and sometimes the nose (I know I’m weird—I just like noses.)

7 Things I Say Most Often...

--“That didn’t sound very healthy.”
--“What are you thinking about?”
--“Your Mom.”
--“Oh my!”
--Lately: “Pippin! No!”
--“Ich bitte dich.” („I ask you“—instead of „You’re welcome.“)
--“Don’t say me that.”

7 Reasons Why I Love Germany...

--it’s very green
--all the castles and cathedrals
--Germany is the home of “Jugendstil,” my favorite style of art
--I’m allowed to drive as fast as I want on the Autobahn (with exception of a few speed zones).
--its complex and rich cultural history
--I grew up here.
--so many people that I love live here

(7) 8 People Who’ve Had A Profound Influence On My Life...
(Okay, seven was not nearly enough for this one!)

--Mama and Daddy
--Grandma and Grandpa Weger
--Grandma Boxley
--Clyde and Gwen
--Rhonda & Nita

Friday, October 21, 2005

Peregrin Took

By popular demand, here are some pictures of the newest denizen of the Cantrell home. We found this little cutie wandering around the grounds of the church building almost three weeks ago--scared to death, obviously lost, and totally dimwitted when it came to staying away from traffic. We thought she must be an indoor cat, and that maybe someone was looking for her...but we also figured it would do Someone no good to find her smooshed on the street. So we brought her home.

The first day was a bit rough for all of us. She was nervous and starving and having serious digestive issues. Ed was concerned that she might have fleas that would get in the carpet. I went up to the attic to get some of Ripley's old toys and broke down in tears as soon as I opened the box.

But after several visits to the vet; after we administered all the necessary medicines and preventative ointments; and after I got used to the sight and feeling of having a cat in the house again, all became well. Thinking we might not have her for very long, we resisted giving her a name; but since we didn't see any missing cat posters in the neighborhood, and no one came around the church building looking for a cat, we decided she was here to stay.

We named her Peregrin Took--yes, after the hobbit in Lord of the Rings! The name seems a perfect fit, as she is very happy and nearly completely clueless most of the time. Naturally, we call her Pippin. ;o) She loves people and shows every sign of being a total lap cat when she gets a few more months under her belt. (The vet says she's about 6-8 months old.)

Currently, Pippin's hobbies include sleeping, playing with a destroyed mouse toy, eating her food, and eating my plants. We're going to have some serious heart-to-hearts about this issue--especially if she starts going after my monstera deliciosa again!

But enough of my long-winded warbling. Here are Pippin pictures for you to enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

the power of Christ's touch

The last week or so, I've been reading an interesting book: "Out Of the Saltshaker and Into the World--Evangelism As A Way Of Life" by Rebecca Manley Pippert. A caveat emptor: As with all books, I'm taking Pippert's text with a grain of salt (yes, pun intended). ;o) I appreciate many of her thoughts--in fact, I'm finding her book an excellent read as well as a motivating challenge--but there are a few points at which I disagree with her on a scriptural basis. That said, here's what I read a few minutes ago and just had to share with you:

"When we find ourselves in situations that seem beyond our limits (actually we should look for such situations!), we must not hesitate because we feel inadequate. We must not complain about our limited resources. God tells us he is glorified in our weakness. God's Spirit will take and multiply what we have.

"...Because of who he is, when Jesus touches anything, there is blessing.

"But what about us? When we follow Jesus, his Spirit abides in us. That means he is a part of what we do. Everything we touch Jesus touches. If he touched the fish and multiplied them, then how does he touch our activities? He is with us when we gather for Bible study, when we eat and dance and work. And Jesus reaches out and touches others through us.

"...When, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we let Jesus reach [out], he will create a family atmosphere. Jesus will give people a sense of worth. And his love is contagious; people will imitate it. They will be drawn to us at first without knowing why. What we must not forget is that we incarnate Jesus! Whatever our life intersects with, so does Jesus. Whomever we touch Jesus touches."

(emphasis added)

Friday, October 14, 2005

again and again, this is my happy thought

Recently, I've run across a few websites (mostly discussion boards and forums) and have had a few live conversations that have inspired the following thoughts in me:

I am not perfect.
I do not have a perfect understanding of God's Word or will.
I do not have all the answers.
I am a sinner.
I make a lot of mistakes.
I'm often hypocritical without realizing it.
I have earned eternal death.


I am a Christian.
I am a member--meaning a body part, an organ, not an associate on a list of names!--of the church of Christ, the church of God, the body of Christ, the Way, the bride of Christ, the Lord's church, the called-out, the children of God, the spiritual heirs of Abraham, God's holy and royal priesthood, the living stones (sounds like a rock group, ha ha), God's chosen race, God's holy nation, God's holy house, God's kingdom.

I can call myself by all these names because my Father has given me the privilege by adopting me into his holy house as a sister of his eternal Son Jesus.

I can know that I am saved.
I do know that I am saved.

I don't care what anyone teaches about it--I know that I am saved, I know that God finds me infinitely valuable. I have no doubts that he loves me and that I will spend eternity in heaven with him. Call me arrogant if you will, but nobody can take that away from me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

stealing matt's blog topics

I just read this post about blogging on Matt's blog, and most of the following is the comment I left there:

I don't get the fly-on-the-wall itch very often, but when I do, the "Next Blog" button is my friend. Of course, this is risky, as I sometimes stumble across sites that I'd rather not see. But usually, I end up reading something that sparks my interest enough to leave a comment or write about my resulting thoughts in my blog or in my personal journal.

As for why I blog....I'm finding that blogs provide a better way for me to touch base with friends far away, better than email, anyway. I guess I blog for the contact with those I can't see face-to-face on a regular basis. Emails are nice....but blogs and resulting comments can be more like conversation, and I enjoy that. Besides, it's an easy way to share pictures!

What's interesting and odd to me is that my friends tend to have far more interest in my blog than most of my family does. I'm thankful for cousins who comment! ;o)

I also find it interesting that I get more comments on my silly posts than I ever do on my serious posts. That makes me sad sometimes, because I'd like to get feedback on some of the serious stuff I write--I'm just interested in hearing what other people think about the topics that interest me. If I can't find out what people think, it's not as much fun.

I've long believed that the words "Tell me what you're thinking" are another way of saying "I love you."

Many of my posts end up in my journal, though. I truly enjoy going back and reading through things I wrote a long time ago. I print out my journal at the end of every month, and it's fun to page through the hard copy, too. Of course, my journal contains much more personal stuff than my blog. There are some things I cannot share even with you, my Faithful Readers! ;oP

Blogging is just fun. It motivates me toward introspection, and that's an important part of my life and part of what makes me Me. :o)

the worth of a woman

I just read this great post about women on Amy's blog. It's a great encouragement to me, so I thought I'd point it out here.

If you're a believing woman, it's a good reminder of the infinite value God places on you. If you're a believing man, I can guarantee that the woman in your life will love you all the more if you see her in this way. ;o)

my other blog

I have made a new post on my other blog. I read Hebrews 11-13 this morning, so this post is specifically about faith. This brief study was a reminder to myself, but someone else might benefit from it as well. As always, feedback is welcome.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

feel like flying

Life was odd earlier this evening. I was driving to the grocery store and back, and then later to the church building, and I felt somehow restless inside. I wasn't doing anything unusual, and it's not like I was on the Autobahn, with the option of kicking it up to 120 miles per hour......But still, I had trouble keeping the speed limit. There seemed to be a connection between taking my eyes off the speedometer and pressing the gas pedal to the floor.

I don't know what was going on--all I know is that I wanted to go fast. I wanted to fly down the road with all its curves and twists and turns, with the wind in my face and nothing to stop me. I wanted wings.

Monday, October 10, 2005

two random Feltmoss pictures

Just had to share this one. This is me (obviously), right after I got back to my room and flung myself on my bed after delivering my lesson/sermon/whatever at the retreat. As you can perhaps see, I was happy and relieved that it went well. ;o)

And, last and least, here's a picture of the shower in the room April and I shared. I'm posting this because I thought certain people might appreciate it. As you can see, the shower head was attached to the wall in a rather odd location. When I stood in the bathtub, it hit me just above the waist. It seems that this shower was designed for people much shorter than your average Caucasian female.
Made for midgets, perhaps? ;o)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Feltmoss Free-Time Thoughts

Below you'll find another excerpt from my journal. This one covers my thoughts on being one of the main speakers at the Ladies' Retreat in Filzmoos last week. Just so you know, this is one of my longer entries, so undertaking this reading journey is not for the faint of heart! ;o) I've bolded certain sections to make skimming easier. I post this here because several of you regular reader-type people have asked me about my experiences....and also because I hope the process I went through will be an encouragement to someone out there. God has made me a better person than I was before he challenged me. He's still working on me.

October 1, 2005

Where to begin?
…beginnings are often difficult. Especially for me, and especially when it concerns the first sentence of anything. I guess I’ll just have to go back in time a little bit and start there—I sure wouldn’t know where to begin if I just jumped into describing how the past week has affected me. And changed me.

When Joy Pschierl called me and asked me if I’d be willing to be one of the four main speakers at the Filzmoos retreat, my initial thought was, “Absolutely not! How can she ask me this? I’m no public speaker!” I remember vividly the initial jolt of panic that shot through me when I first heard her question.

The Holy Spirit does funny things sometimes. In the forefront of my thoughts and on the tip of my tongue was the word “no,” but what I actually heard myself saying was, “Let me think about it a few days and call you back.”

Here’s where confession time starts. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t actually do much praying about whether or not I should agree to Joy’s request or not. Oh, sure, I asked a lot of fellow humans what their thoughts were….but for some reason (hmm….Satan, perhaps?), it didn’t occur to me to talk to God about it very much. Yes, I did pray…..but did I spend a significant amount of time in intensive, deep meditation to find out his opinion on the subject? No. Did I spend a significant amount of time kneeling before his throne and asking him to allay my fears as I made my decision? No. If I had, perhaps I wouldn’t have spent the last few months with butterflies in my stomach every time I thought about speaking at the retreat.

I’m such a fool sometimes. God is there for me, waiting to help me, waiting to bless me, and still I insist on navigating the traffic of my life by myself. Will I ever learn?

Most people probably wouldn’t call my decision process agonizing. I didn’t weep and wail over it, I didn’t feel the what-should-I-do-what-should-I-do desperation. But for my standards, I suppose I agonized over the decision. I wondered how I would feel about myself if I refused this opportunity. I didn’t like the possibilities, so I told Joy I’d do it. She asked me to take on the topic "Jesus and the Great Commission."

When I finally sat down to work on it, I felt completely overwhelmed at the task of putting all my thoughts onto paper (or, rather, into laptop). There were so many scriptures I wanted to use, so many evangelistic opportunities I wanted to share, I had no clue where to begin or how to impose structure on this teeming mass of ideas. I jokingly told Ed that I could just get up in front of the ladies and say, “If you want to know about the Great Commission, read the Bible,” and sit down again.

I took to calling it a sermon instead of a Vortrag (presentation / speech); after all, what would I be doing if not proclaiming the word of God? Just because I’m female (instead of male) and would be speaking on a Thursday (instead of a Sunday morning) didn’t change the nature of what I’d be doing. Some people chuckled at that, but I didn’t bother to elaborate. I think I was trying to bolster my own confidence.

Several Sundays in August and September, Larry preached sermons on the necessity of preaching itself and on being an effective evangelist. I knew he wasn’t necessarily aiming those lessons at me….but I gleaned a lot from them. Like I said, the Holy Spirit works in funny ways sometimes. I finally started praying more.

What began working its way into my heart was the idea that others have been in my position many times, and they submitted themselves to God’s will and allowed him to lead them. Moses was no public speaker, and he was scared to death to go before Pharaoh as God’s representative. But he went. Jeremiah and Timothy were considered “too young.” I could relate to that; after all, most of the ladies at the retreat have been Christians for longer than I have been alive. What could I possibly share with them that they haven’t already been doing for decades? But Jeremiah and Timothy evangelized in spite of their perceived youth, and they preached God’s word to those older than they. By his own account, Paul wasn’t a public speaker either. But he went. And then there’s Isaiah, who had no qualms about saying, “Here am I. Send me!” I started wondering if my priorities were at all as correctly ordered as I’d led myself to believe.

On Sunday, September 25th, I left for the retreat feeling mostly prepared but knowing I still had some work to do during free time over the next few days.

How can I describe the power of God to change a human heart? I don’t have the words, but I have to make an attempt at verbally praising him for his infinite patience with me and his incomparable ability to teach me the things he wants me to learn. All I can do is describe my experiences and hope my descriptions come across in the right way.

On Monday, Becky Schwarz gave us a sermon on relying fully on Jesus in every situation and aspect of our lives. Her perspective is that when we are baptized, we receive something like a spiritual implant: the Holy Spirit, which the Bible describes as our “down payment” from God. And if the Holy Spirit is like an implant, it means that the implant merges with our own “spiritual tissue” over time, becoming ever more a part of us and a part of our spiritual functions. In our discussion group afterward, I realized that a big part of my problem—not just with my sermon, but with all of my work in the church—is that I’ve been trying to perform the wrong spiritual function. I’ve been trying to be the hand, instead of the tool. I need to stop trying to be the hand, and instead become the tool, allowing God’s hand to be the guiding force.

On Tuesday, Angelika Jones spoke to us about Satan’s influence on us and how subtle he is in deceiving us. Not to mention that the only power he has over us is the power that we choose to give him. I began thinking about Satan’s simplest, subtlest, and most effective message, which he spreads to us humans through media, through each other, and through our own weaknesses. The message is: “Without __________________, you’re not good enough.” I began wondering….how many times did he whisper that message in my ear? “Without more maturity, you’re not good enough for this sermon of yours.” “Without more experience, you’re not good enough.” “Without more spiritual depth, you’re not good enough.” Did he send me this message many times? …..Or was one time all it took to shake my trust in God? That afternoon, I practiced my sermon and ignored the doubts. The butterflies tried to rise in my stomach, but I ignored them.

On Wednesday, Kathy Düsel spoke about letting Jesus help us deal with difficult people in our lives. One of her points is that sometimes, we avoid such people. And sometimes, we also avoid God because we consider him to be difficult or inconvenient. Was I guilty of that? And to what degree? Later that day, Joy told me that one of Kathy’s brothers was killed in a motorcycle accident only a few months ago. That hit really close to home, and I felt speechless. Not only did she come to this retreat so soon after such a tragedy, she was also one of the main speakers! Isolde Neumann, who lost her husband to cancer last year, was also there, and led one of the discussion groups. I thought that if these amazing women could put such losses behind them, even for a few days, in order to spread the word of God, then surely I could put my doubts aside and do the same. I felt ashamed of my unbelief, my lack of trust in God. After all, if he didn’t think I could do it, he wouldn’t put me in this situation.

When I stood up to speak on Thursday morning, I still had butterflies. But they weren’t as active or numerous as I’d expected. The week had been full of encouragements and you-can-do-its from my sisters at the retreat, and I knew that they were glad I was there. I knew that they were praying for me. As I started speaking, I still felt nervous…..but after a few minutes, the nervousness faded away, and all that was left was this amazing energy! I know that all of my preparation at home was vitally important for speaking that day….but more important, I believe, was the preparation that had gone on the few days before I spoke. At home, God helped me do all the technical preparation, and he did some spiritual work on me. But the bulk of the spiritual preparation occurred during the first few days of the retreat.

When I first heard that mine would be the last sermon of the week, I was mortified, thinking that I’d have to live up to the example of the speakers who came before me. But in retrospect, I understand that God knew what he was doing. He knew that I’d need those days of spiritual preparation and anticipation.

As I spoke, I looked out at the faces of my Christian sisters before me, and I saw their reactions on their faces. I remember thinking, “Hey, they’re hearing what I’m saying, it makes sense to them, and they’re responding to it. How did that happen?” The key, of course, is that it didn’t just happen. Though I’m not Pentecostal/charismatic in the least, I’ll say that I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit was working in me. The reactions of the listeners were the Holy Spirit working in them. And it all happened through the word of God. I quoted Isaiah 55:10-11, in which God says that his word will never return to him empty. What I witnessed at the retreat—in myself and in others—was God’s word, returning to him in the ways that please him, according to scripture.

I think that as I spoke, I let go, letting him be the hand and myself be the tool. I don’t know if I’ll be able to let go like that again, the next time I’m in an evangelistic situation. But I will try, and I know that God will be there to guide me. After my sermon, so many women—including all of those whom I respect greatly and keep in a special place in my heart—they all told me what a wonderful job I did and that I looked calm and confident and poised as I spoke, a natural public speaker. I told them that I could hardly believe that—but if the message was in any way effective, it was the work of the Lord, not me. Several of them mentioned that they were encouraged and inspired by my words on evangelizing. I tried to be polite and thank them but at the same time take no credit. I was only thankful that God’s word was doing what he designed it to do.

Last week, I told Ed that if anyone asked me to be a speaker like this again, I would give them a categorical negative for an answer. He said, “No, you won’t. You’ll do it again, if they ask you to.” This week, I can say that he knew me better than I know myself. I know that if God chooses to present me with such an opportunity to serve him again, I’ll take it. How could I not, when I know that he is picking me up out of his toolbox and telling me that he wants to use me for a particular job?

When I, the tool, am in his hand, how can I possibly say no?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Women Free Time in Feltmoss, Austria

Directly translated from the German "Frauenfreizeit" (Ladies' Retreat) in Filzmoos, Austria. ;o)

This was my third time to attend this retreat, and it was wonderful, as usual! Since I was one of the main speakers this year, I had a few added adventures that haven't happened in previous years. However, I'll write more about that sometime later in the week. For now, here are a few pictures that I wanted to share with you:

Welcome to Filzmoos! I don't know why the town is called "felt moss"--there are secrets of the German language and of the Austrian culture to which I am, unfortunately, not privy. ;o)

The view from Filzmoos of the mountain known as "Bischofsmütze"--the Bishop's Cap, based on the shape of the highest peak(s). Two years ago, Jennifer and I climbed about a third of the way up. I'd love to climb to the top someday!!!

Here are some samples of the gorgeous Austrian architecture that are part of what make Filzmoos such a special place:

Flowers bursting with color and cascading over every balcony!

I'll have to explain this poor dear. ;o) Our second day in Filzmoos was also the day the farmers drove their cattle down from the mountain pastures so the cattle can spend the winter in the warmer valleys. On this day every year, the whole town celebrates, and everyone "dresses up" their cows for a parade. We missed most of the festivities but were able to find a valley pasture where some of the cows posed for us (not altogether willingly). ;o)

And here, a few shots of the decorations in and around the town:

Looks comfy, eh? ;o)

Amy and I found a new friend. We recommended a good moisturizer.

April and I, doing the tourist bit.

On our last night in Filzmoos, after all the serious work was done, all the ladies gathered for a "Bunter Abend"--a "colorful evening." Basically a combo of talent show and after-dinner entertainment. Here, Amy, Allison, Bri, Kristi, and Marion each spoke lines from TV channels, while Pam (down front) channelsurfed, making the lines flow into each other with hilarious results!

Stay tuned for further Feltmoss-Free-Time thoughts.

more cooking wisdom

Rule #211.

Heat tends to cause plastic to melt. Don’t try to make scrambled eggs using a plastic spatula.

--from Courtney's Rules for Living and Points to Ponder

Saturday, October 01, 2005

continuing the no-wheat-or-milk-products diet....

......and, as a result, lost another 2 pounds this past week. That makes a total of 11.5 pounds I've lost in the last two months. I don't know if this new diet is going to affect my health in a positive way or not...but I sure am enjoying the weight-loss side effects.

I now have only one pair of jeans that still fits right: the pair that used to look spray-painted on. All the others are now a size too big.

I like it. ;o)

Addendum: Bri suggested that this post is lacking the fact that I am also avoiding white sugar and anything containing it, and I must say that she is absolutely right in her assessment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

a statement of opinion related to a random frustration

I know I haven't been overwhelmingly perky lately (I dunno, some of you might be sighing in relief), but I've just gotta vent about something that happened today. Please bear with me. Or tiger or lion with me, I don't care. As long as I can just get this out. ;o)

It really, really annoys me that so many people absolutely refuse any sort of psychological therapy or counseling on the grounds that “they're not crazy.”

WHAT IN THE WORLD??? You don't have to be totally psycho or maladjusted to benefit from therapy! If I recommend it, it's only because you, like every other human being on this planet, have trouble dealing with some area in your life......most likely in the area of communication with other people! It doesn't mean I think you're crazy, it doesn't mean I don't like you, it doesn't mean I think there's something inherently wrong or sick or evil about you.......It means that I've been listening to you, and I hear the pain that you can't seem to get rid of, and I think you might get some good out of talking to someone who's been trained to help people find healthy solutions to their problems! It's because I recognize that you need someone to talk to besides me!

After all, I majored in Psychology for three years, and I have a minor in the field. That doesn't mean that I am qualified to do any sort of counseling—I acknowledge freely and happily that I have no business going around analyzing everybody—but I do have experience that has shown me the positive ways therapy and counseling can change people's lives. Not only do I have some experience through education, but I also have quite a bit of personal experience in that I've gone to a counselor/therapist/psychiatrist/psychologist/alloftheabove myself. And it helped me. So, believe me, I'm not telling you anything I haven't already told myself.

I guess I'm just tired of the prejudices people have against professional counseling/therapy. They're more than happy to skedaddle off to a physician when there's something physically wrong.....but when it comes to taking care of their mental/emotional/spiritual health, they turn stubborn and claim they don't need help with it at all, because “only crazy people need a shrink.” Oh, and those who claim not to need any help at all are perfectly well adjusted, is that it?

Okay, I feel better now. See? That's what therapy does: You talk to somebody about your difficulties, and afterwards you feel better. I gripe to regular blogreaders and assorted anonymous lurkers about what's irritating me, and afterwards I feel better.

I'm sure a professional counselor wouldn't do anything remotely like this. ;o)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Audioblogger Vexes Eternal Optimist Woman....details at 11

this is an audio post - click to play

a short story

One rainy Saturday afternoon, as cars whizzed past at 120 mph, Ed and Courtney stood at the side of the Autobahn and watched the mechanic loading their car onto the tow truck.

"We had a low tire anyway," observed Ed.

Courtney replied, "Then it's just as well the engine quit."

And the moral of this story is: Either a head gasket is blown, or the timing belt broke. Whichever it is, it's expensive, and we're now walking.

I. Corinthians 10:13
I. Corinthians 10:13
I. Corinthians 10:13 ;o)