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.