Thursday, December 20, 2007
...of staying up till all hours of the night. Or the wee hours of the morn, if you will. Or even if you won't. Either way, I've gotta get out of this nightowl routine again, or I'm never gonna get adjusted over here.
Speaking of adjusting, here's a funny thing, if you think this kind of thing is funny: While we lived in Chemnitz, I spent September through May of every year feeling almost unbearably cold, especially where the temperature of my poor footsies was concerned. No matter how much I bundled up, I was usually cold. The acquisition of a hot water bottle a few years ago was a great help, but I had to keep it filled with almost boiling water at all times, otherwise it was useless. ("The boy's Eustace, m'lord!" "'Useless'? I dare say he is!") So most of the time, I simply bundled up and froze and made sure as many people as possible were aware of my utter misery. (Sorry, friends.)
Since we've been here in OKC, I haven't been cold. At least, not as bone-deep, ice cold as I usually am this time of year. This is partially due to the fact that the weather here is a bit warmer than in Chemnitz, and partially due to the central heating prevalent in this part of the country. In most places here, including in my own apartment, I have been warm to the point of feeling uncomfortable.
Until this morning.
Yesterday, when I started unpacking boxes, I got too warm. The sun was shining outside, so the apartment got pretty toasty as the day wore on. Finally, I just switched the heating system off, and it has been off ever since. Today, I even had the windows open, so as to create a through-train (draft). Yup. On purpose.
Okay, now here's the funny thing: This morning (or, rather, yesterday morning, since it is already the 20th), while sitting at breakfast, I got cold.
And I liked it.
Because it felt like home.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Today, Gentle Readers, I am executing three-point turns in my living room. Except that instead of driving a car, I am shoving bookshelves around, and instead of edging around parked cars, I am maneuvering around Leaning Towers of Boxes.
Yup! Our shipment has arrived! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The movers brought everything yesterday, and now I sit in what seems, on the surface, to be utter chaos, but upon further inspection reveals itself instead to be utter chaos. ;o) This morning, I wanted to get a really good start at unpacking and finding places for things....but, to my dismay, I discovered that I hadn't a clue where to start. Ed was looking for something in particular last night, so I thought I'd apply myself to the task of uncovering the something's location...but the 'how' of this endeavor was a mystery and remains so even now.
Finally, I decided that I wasn't going to find anything specific (the rest of our towels and bedding would be nice) until I just started unpacking boxes at random. However, even starting at random proved to be a challenge. Ed came home briefly for lunch, and by then I was nearly in tears. He commiserated, but there wasn't a whole lot he could do at that point besides give me a hug and say that he wished he could stay. I wished that, too.
After he left, I was determined to keep the tears at bay, so I began delving into cardboard depths. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a plethora of books and a tiny reindeer!
Um...minus the reindeer.
But that, in brief, is The Story Of How I Conquered Today's Demons: As I've done so often in the past, I found my refuge in books. A total escape mechanism, but considering the circumstances, I'm okay with that right now. I have unpacked 13 boxes of books so far, and there are about 8 more to go. The rest of the afternoon should go fairly well.
What's comforting to me is that particular characteristic of books that has always comforted me: Books are entire worlds compacted neatly into something you can grasp, deal with, survey, and compartmentalize with ease. These convenient, well-organized universes are particularly appealing to me right now, since my own world is currently so disorganized, intangible, disoriented, and incomprehensible. If I can't quite get grip on my own universe right now, and least I can take these small, compact universes and put them in bookshelves, where I know they belong and will rest secure and unscattered. I look at them, tucked safely away on their shelves, and I feel much more at peace and relaxed than I did this morning. I have made sense of a tiny part of the chaos. Woman has triumphed! ;o)
Like I said, this is very much a psychological escape method (as well as a human construct), but I *know* that this is what it is, I recognize it for what it is, so I feel comfortable with allowing myself to indulge in this kind of retreat. I think that for now, it's what I need.
More later...since our apartment now has Internet access! Yay!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Study: Religion is Good for Kids
By Melinda Wenner, Special to LiveScience
posted: 24 April 2007 09:39 am ET
'The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services—-especially when both parents did so frequently—-and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.'
There are those who support taking all religious influences out of the lives of all children. I wonder if secular, scientific studies such as this one have any bearing on the belief systems of these anti-religious individuals. They pay heed to other scientific studies--do they selectively edit which studies they will allow to form their worldview? Their faith? Because, like it or not, a refusal not to believe in a deity is as much a faith position as is the choice to believe in a deity.
'[John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist] thinks religion can be good for kids for three reasons. First, religious networks provide social support to parents, he said, and this can improve their parenting skills.
'...Secondly, the types of values and norms that circulate in religious congregations tend to be self-sacrificing and pro-family, Bartkowski told LiveScience. These “could be very, very important in shaping how parents relate to their kids, and then how children develop in response,” he said.'
I'm glad that this researcher has come to this conclusion. I simply don't understand why it takes a scientific study before humans will recognize the things that quite a few religions have been teaching for millennia.
'Finally, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance, he said.
'University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, who was not involved in the study, agrees.'
If all parents could come to see that their responsibility and right to parent comes from a higher source, what kind of dramatic and wonderful change might come over societies worldwide? Of course, I am speaking from a completely idealistic standpoint....but just imagine the amazing and beautiful changes that would occur! No more abuse, no more authoritarianism, no more lack of nurture, no more lack of discipline, no more lack of love...
'But as for why religious organizations might provide more of a boost to family life than secular organizations designed to do the same thing, that’s still somewhat of a mystery, said Annette Mahoney, a psychologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, also not involved in the research. Mahoney wondered: “Is there anything about religion and spirituality that sets it apart?”' (emphasis added)
'It’s also possible that the correlation between religion and child development is the other way around, [Bartkowski] said. In other words, instead of religion [sic] having a positive effect on youth, maybe the parents of only the best behaved children feel comfortable in a religious congregation.'
Umm....I don't think so. (Just speaking from personal observation!) ;o}
Food for thought, dear neighbors!
Monday, December 10, 2007
I just read this phrase online somewhere, and I've decided that this is a good description of an aspect of my personality: a secret recalcitrant side. Of course, some might claim that it's not so secret; that they see this side of me quite frequently. And to those most learnéd souls, I must reply: You are absolutely right.
However, I also think that that to which you are referring is my occasionally self-revealing streak of obnoxious obstinacy.
My true, secret recalcitrant side? I don't think you've seen that yet. At least, most of you probably haven't.
There's really no other point to this post other than to say that I like that phrase and that I think it applies to me. I guess I could go into detail on just how my secret recalcitrant side manifests itself, but then it would no longer be secret, now would it? And then there really would be no point to this post.
Okay, so I Googled a problem I've been having off and on for years, and the best term I've found that others are using is "mouth boogers." Gross as that is, I'm just gonna call it that because it amuses me.
Over the years, I've noticed that if I use certain toothpastes at night, I wake up the next morning with goo in my mouth, as though the top layer of skin on the insides of my cheeks and lips had sloughed off. (Please note that "slough" is spelled "slough" and not "sluff." Thank you.) Anyway, I figured out from the get-go that it was related to toothpaste and that I wasn't diseased or anything like that.
So, my solution has always been to find a toothpaste that doesn't do this but also gets my teeth clean (not always an available combination), and then stick with it. The best one I'd found was Arm & Hammer Dental Care Baking Soda Toothpaste.
Unfortunately, a few years ago, Arm & Hammer jumped on the teeth-whitening bandwagon and started selling only peroxide-laden, teeth-whitening toothpastes. The good ol', simple, just-get-your-teeth-clean paste is no longer to be found. Bad news for me, because I've discovered that ***every single brand*** of whitening toothpaste causes sloughing on the inside of my mouth ( --> mouth boogers!). So ever since the plain Arm & Hammer disappeared from stores, I've been on the hunt for a toothpaste that works for me.
I mention peroxide as one source of the problem, but the sloughing happens even with toothpastes that don't contain peroxide, so I don't know what ingredient it is that causes it. But whatever the ingredient is, it seems I'm severely allergic to it.
I've tried off-brand, "natural" toothpastes, but although they are not given to causing mouth boogers, they are also not given to getting my teeth clean.
The problem is that sometimes, I'll buy a toothpaste and use it for a week before the sloughing starts again. I finally found a brand in Germany that I could use (the Elmex/Aronal combo), but since I ran out of my German stuff, I've been looking for something here that I can use. I've tried Ed's German Blendi, but that was a no-go. I've tried the plainest Colgate I could find, but that lasted only two days before the mouth boogers were back to party again.
What frustrates me is that nowadays, you can't find just plain, no-frills toothpaste anymore. Everything is "extra-whitening-action" this and "special-tartar-control" that. Any day, I'm expecting to find a toothpaste that will get up and dance a jig for you while you're brushing. I'm thinking of making my own baking soda / salt mixture and just using that for the rest of my life.
Last night, I tried Rembrandt's plain mint toothpaste, and so far so good. I'll keep you posted.
P.S. Right now I'm also trying Crest Whitening Strips, just for the fun of it, and I've discovered that I can only use them once a day instead of the recommended twice, because if I use them twice, my teeth hurt like someone's drilling holes. Can we say 'overly sensitive'?!?
Sunday, December 09, 2007
So, in Matt's livingroom is a life-size cardboard cut-out of Elvis. The King and I have spent a lot of time together lately, since Ed takes the car to work every day and there's no bus. I've asked him (Elvis, in this case, not Ed; although I occasionally ask Ed, too) to sing for me, but so far, he has not deigned to oblige.
Anyway, that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this to announce that, in case you haven't heard, Ed and I have an apartment! We got the keys on Thursday, and my parents helped us move in the few items of furniture we stored at my grandparents' six years ago. We're not actually living there yet, because we first had to get the electricity turned on, and then we went to Ed's family reunion over the weekend, so it hasn't been feasible to move over there yet.
Here's a funny thing, though, in case I haven't mentioned it yet (which I can't remember whether or not I did): Our new apartment is in the same apartment complex that we lived in before we moved to Chemnitz! And not only that, but the new apartment is right next door to the old one! It kinda weirded me out to walk into the new one: It's an exact mirror image of the old one. I'll have to be careful not to try going into the neighbor's apartment thinking it's mine. ;o)
Ed's family reunion on Saturday was lots of fun, if a mite overwhelming. There were 80 people there! In my family, it'd be unusual to have half that number. I'm culture-shocking anyway, but I really had to remind myself that being in a crowd wasn't a bad thing and that I didn't need to get upset about it. So I had a good time instead and was glad to be there. Ed's rough biker uncle dressed up as Santa and handed out candy canes to all the kids, and Ed sat on his lap, and much laughter ensued.
And once again, it was very nice to say bye to Ed's folks, to his sister and her kids, and to say 'see you soon' and have it be true. It won't be another two or three years before we see them again, and I am truly thankful for that.
I think we'll continue the moving-in process tomorrow evening, though I don't know yet when we'll move over for good and let Matt have his house back. ;o) It'll be before the end of the week, anyway.
In the meantime, I think I'll try to woo Elvis by buying him a nice string of beads.
P.S. The first time I heard U2's "Mysterious Ways," I was on a bus on a clas trip to Köln. I just thought I'd mention that.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tonight, I had my first intense moment of homesickness since we arrived here three weeks ago.
Ed and I went grocery shopping at Buy For Less after eating dinner at Zorba's. Zorba's is Greek fast food, and the homesicknessfeeling started while we were there, because I started thinking of Palas Athen, our favorite Greek place in Chemnitz, where we've spent so many wonderful hours and had so many great laughs (not to mention spectacular food!!!) with great friends and with the jovial owner. Zorba's, with its hectic atmosphere and high-decibel noise level, didn't exactly measure up to what we're used to. (The food was good, but their idea of gyros isn't what we've gotten to know at Palas Athen, either. However, we're remaining open enough to give Zorba's another chance. We'll just have to put our minds in a different gear beforehand. Or would that be 'beforefood'? ;o)
Anyway, by the time we got to Buy For Less, I was already feeling somewhat melancholy from missing Palas Athen and the fun times we've had there--and especially the people we had those times with (you know who you are). Then, at Buy For Less, Ed ducked into the bathroom for a few minutes, and I found myself in the foreign/specialty foods aisle.
And suddenly, I saw it: German food.
Buy For Less has Klöße. And Rotkraut. And Sauerkraut. And Rittersport and Lindt! And Spätzle! And Semmelknödel! And Bratkartoffeln! And Gurken pickled in Thüringen! And Buy For Less even has pickled herring, which I absolutely despise, but it's a staple of Saxon kitchens, and it all reminded me so much of home that I suddenly found myself standing in the middle of Buy For Less, crying and thinking that I probably looked absolutely ridiculous but not caring whether or not I looked ridiculous, and then Ed came back and just hugged me, and I took him to see the German food, and slowly I started to feel okay again.
Oh, and Ed and I also spent the evening speaking German with each other, and that probably added to the sudden burst of homesickfeelingyness as well.
I think what helps is that I knew this was coming. It had to happen at some point, and I'm kind of relieved that it happened. It needs to happen--and it will happen again and again for awhile--so that I can acknowledge my feelings, accept them, and move on.
Coolly enough, Buy For Less also has Twinings (Erin!) and PG Tips (Ed!) and Branston Pickle (Boynses!). And Turkish Delight, which I don't eat, but I still think it's keen that they have it!
*sigh* I probably don't sound like it, but I do feel better now. :o)
Monday, November 26, 2007
Scott asked me to let him know what it was I didn't like about "Babel" so that he could hear a trustworthy opinion about it before he watched it (Scott, thank you for the vote of confidence!), so I thought I'd just post a brief review here while I'm at it:
"Babel" is about four different groups of people--two Moroccan goatherd boys; a husband and wife traveling in Morocco; their children and their Mexican nanny back in California; and a deaf-mute Japanese girl in Japan (Tokyo?)--and how all of their lives intersect. Conceptually, it's a very interesting idea, because it's not till the end of the movie that the viewer finds out how they're all connected; and the viewer then realizes that these people's lives all intersected in one brief moment that occurred toward the beginning of the film. From that angle, the film was very well-made and thought-provoking, in that it brings home how we cannot view ourselves as individuals completely independent of others: Each of our actions, each of our decisions has some kind of significance because even in some small way, each of our actions/decisions affects people we've never met and might never meet, people who are continents and (in a great sense) years away.
I have a tag for this concept: "brighten the corner where you are". It's a concept I believe in very firmly and have discussed in this blog before.
Linguistically, it was also interesting: in each of the four groups, there were communication difficulties resulting either from personality differences (emotional and social barriers) or from linguistic differences (Arabic - English, Spanish - English, Sign Language - spoken Japanese). Very effective in portraying the "Babel" aspect of human relationships.
Okay, now for what makes me recommend not watching this film: a boy, approx. 12 years old, being shown masturbating; the same boy being shown spying on his approx. 14-yr-old sister as she takes off her clothes, and both of them enjoying it; and another teenage girl exposing herself multiple times to various people, then taking off all of her clothes and trying to seduce an older man (full frontal nudity).
Some might claim "oh, this is what makes the film so real, so true-to-life" etc. Well, even if that were true, those are still things that were unnecessary for advancing the plot; there are other methods that could have been used for character development and portrayal of character psychology; and I think it's exploitative to have child actors filming scenes like that.
So conceptually, the film had some very good ideas; but the execution of those ideas left something moral to be desired. The scenes with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were very good, as were the ones with the CA kids and their Mexican nanny. But I could have done without some of the rest.
I've gotten a few emails from some of you who are apparently concerned about my recent lack of posting. *sniff* I didn't know I had such a loyal following! ;o) So here's what's what:
We had one Thanksgiving with Ed's family at his brother's house.
We had one Thanksgiving with my family at my grandparents' house.
(Please note apostrophe usage.) ;o)
Much fun and food and fellowship was had by all.
We looked at rental houses.
None of them seemed right for us. The last one we looked at was totally trashed, and the landlord didn't seem terribly motivated to do anything about it.
We decided we wanted something a bit more secure.
So we went to talk to the manager of the apartment complex where we lived before we moved to Chemnitz.
Bernice, the manager, was thrilled to see us again.
We filled out a rent application and are waiting to hear whether or not we get an apartment.
Ed has filled out multiple job applications and has had multiple come-see-us-after-Thanksgiving conversations with prospective employers.
So, no job yet.
But we're hopeful.
Our shipment is scheduled to arrive in port in Houston Dec. 12th.
We've been reconnecting with lots of family and old friends whom we haven't seen in a long time.
I have really been enjoying this. It's nice to know it won't be another two years before I get to see them again.
I'm also missing my family in Chemnitz.
Ahh, the emotional roller coaster never stops.
I want a place to live, a place with my stuff in it, and the settled feeling I need in order to start writing again.
I also want my paintbrushes and some new paints and canvases. Autumn has ben very inspiring of late.
This is already longer than I intended it to be, so I'm gonna quit now.
P.S. If you haven't seen the movie "Babel," please don't. It's not worth it, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett notwithstanding.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The Book Meme
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four to seven sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest [unless it's too troublesome to reach and is really heavy. Then go back to step 1].
6. Tag five people.
I'm not doing Step #6, but here's the rest of it:
"I hope that you claim the freedom to be whoever God made you to be in fulfilling your role in His service.
"This is a great time to be alive--especially for those who love Jesus Christ. The opportunities to minister are unparalleled: the millions of searching hearts and agonized souls, combined with the abundance of resources Christians have at their disposal, make this a very special era for the Church. Throw in the rapid and profound cultural changes occurring, as well as the struggles local churches are undergoing, and we have an environment in which the birth of a spiritual revolution is inevitable. The confluence of those elements demands a dramatic response, and the emerging Revolution represents such a historic thrust."
by George Barna
It's one of Matt's that he has recommended I read. I haven't yet, but I plan to soon, especially after that paragraph above.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Well, it is currently 06:27 a.m. here in unexpectedly mild-weathered Oklahoma. As many of you already know, Ed and I arrived here Tuesday night with no problems. Oh sure, there was a delay in Chicago, and as far as Pippin was concerned, the trip was the worst thing that has ever occurred in the history of the universe, but other than minor frustrations and the quite vocal protestations of the feline persuasion, we arrived here safe and sound.
There was only one minor, teensy-weensy negative aspect to the whole thing.
On the long flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, I had an aisle seat.
Across the aisle from me was an older man.
In my direction.
I couldn't escape.
I turned my head away.
Apparently to no avail.
Guess what I have now?
"Hi Courtney! Welcome to the new chapter in your life! Wouldn't you like your usual sinus infection to go along with it?"
I do not have to tell you how I feel about this.
So far, at least, it's not too bad. I'm not sure yet if I'll need to go to a doctor. In the meantime, I got up at 6 a.m. because I had this terrific sensation of drowning while I was lying in bed. I didn't enjoy that very much. So I got up. Problem Solving For The Internationally Rootless. ;o) I am so glad I have my nose shower.
I hope that by my sarcasm, you can tell that I'm acutally in a fairly good mood. ;o)
Here's a brief recap of what's been going on so far:
--About 20 people met us at the airport. That was really neat and gave me warm fuzzies. We didn't get to talk to everyone extensively, of course, but it was nice to see faces we haven't seen in a long time and to know that we're of interest. :o)
--From the airport, we went with both sets of parents to my parents' house, where we had Mexican food for dinner. That alone would have been amazing, of course, but what really topped the cake was knowing that this was only the second time the 6 of us have ever had dinner together. It was really neat to look around the table and to know that if life goes as we hope it will, we'll be able to do this more often now. We also sat around and drank coffee and talked all morning. It was cozy and nice and exciting to tell each other stories of our lives.
--Yesterday was our first Wal-Mart adventure. It was scary and overwhelming. I didn't like it. But the first person we talked to in the store had lived in Germany before and was really nice. So that was comforting. But then other people started talking to us, too, and I suddenly felt weirded out that so many strangers chat with each other over cat food and shelves of aspirin. I *really* had to remind myself that this isn't weird, just different.
--Last night, we went to Bible class at Britton Road, our sponsoring congregation. Saw a lot of people we haven't seen in a long time. Got a lot of hugs. Heard a lot of "welcome home"s. I didn't like that part. Heard a lot of "we know you're not coming home, but we're still glad to see you here." I liked that part. One of the elders, Charlie, said he was looking forward to sitting down with us and hearing us talk about Jim, because he's been interested in everything we've said about Jim in various emails. I was really impressed and felt sehr gut aufgehoben when Charlie expressed that personal, specific interest in our thoughts.
I felt out of place because of the size of everything: enormous building, big crowd of people, umpteen different classes to choose from. I felt out of place because of the cultural references made in the Bible class we ended up in. I felt out of place because a lot of people greeted me by name, and I couldn't remember theirs.
But I didn't feel as out of place as I expected to. I think it was good that our first visit there was on a Wednesday night instead of a Sunday morning. I feel like I was able to stick my foot in the water and see what's what before going swimming. Nothing nibbled on my toes, so I guess I'm okay so far. ;o)
So that's the new chapter so far. Today, if I'm not deathly ill, I need to go buy some black boots; Ed wants to stop by Oklahoma Christian Academy to talk to someone about talking to someone about talking to someone about a possible job ;o) and tonight, we're going with my parents to see the musical "West Side Story" at OC.
And at some point, I'm going to take a nap.
Maybe after breakfast. ;o)
Monday, November 05, 2007
Yes, I am awake, even though I have to get up in three hours and so should be sleeping right now. I had intended to put down just a few thoughts before this new adventure begins, but now that I sit down to write, I find that I can't. I'm too tired, I can't think, I'm anticipating tomorrow (with sadness and with excitement), and I can't be coherent right now.
But still, I wanted to write something, so I guess this is the something. My note to my future self is this: God has a plan for everything, his plan is always right, and his plan is always what works best.
Even if it hurts at the time. Sometimes, *especially* if it hurts.
In the book of my life are many finished chapters. Tomorrow, I am beginning a new one. Someday, it too will be finished. Right now, in spite of my sadness and -other-emotions-too-complex-to-describe-right-now, I am eager to put the period on the last sentence of the chapter I have just finished, and I am eager to begin the next chapter. But I do acknowledge and respect the fact that this next new chapter will end someday; it too is temporary, fleeting.
I find permanence only in God. He has put my name in a book that will never, ever end.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
A Brief History of the Life and Times of the Winsome Wench in Her Weirdness...
I wouldn't say that Ed and I were desperate up until Monday morning. Yes, we were very, very busy, and yes, we had no downtime, and yes, we were rather concerned that we wouldn't have time to get it all done...... But all things considered, I don't think we were desperate. I'd say we weren't even frantic. We were just very, very busy. And tired. Did I mention tired?
But when you compare International Moving Adventure 2007 with International Moving Adventure 2001, the 2007 version is going much more smoothly. In 2001, when we moved to Chemnitz, we had no clue what we were doing. The night before the movers came, we stayed up working in the apartment until 3 a.m. This time, we were in bed at midnight the night before the movers came. Some might think that a 3 hour difference does not great progress show (thank you, Yoda)... But in 2001, we also had an entire room marked "Do Not Enter" while the movers were working, a large room full of stuff that we had to get rid of after they left. This time, in 2007, we had only about half of a medium-sized room of leftovers. Plus, this time, there's our general feeling of preparedness resulting from having started this process 8 months before the move instead of 6 weeks before. ;o)
Anyway....Monday morning, the movers arrived, brought their packing materials upstairs, built some cardboard boxes, and started packing. And suddenly, Ed and I had nothing to do. We weren't allowed to help them pack, because the insurance only covers our belongings if the movers are the ones who packed the boxes. There was nothing more to organize, nothing more to sort, nothing more to throw out. All we could do was sit and watch as these five strangers entered our space, went through our things, put all our things in boxes, and took them away.
I was tired. I was relieved that I didn't have to pack it all myself. I was excited. I was sad. I was amused by the banter of the men as they worked. I was nervous when one dude started packing up my oil paintings. I hovered and made him nervous, so I forced myself to go sit in the living room and let the poor man do his job. I was glad that we were finally getting this step of the process out of the way. I was numb from the back-and-forth motion of this emotional roller coaster.
Tuesday afternoon, when they started taking the last of the boxes downstairs and packing them into the 20-foot container, I thought I was going to cry. We finished up paperwork, tipped the guys, and watched as they drove away. They honked and waved, and we laughed. Then we went back upstairs. I looked around the emptiness of our apartment, and all I wanted to do was get out of there. It didn't feel like home anymore. Later that evening, when we were coming home from Tuesday night Bible study, I started to cry because we couldn't go home and I felt homesick, and all I wanted to do was go home.
Have I mentioned the emotional roller coaster?
The last few days have been more of the same, but much less intense. In Germany, renters are required to paint the apartment before they move out, so we've been working on getting that started. Today was the first real work day, and thanks to multiple helping hands, the stairwell is clean, and three rooms are completely finished. Three down, three to go. The best part is that our landlady intends to have all the carpets but one ripped out, so we only have to worry about protecting the one. We can smear paint all over the rest, which speeds up our work considerably. Yay for practicality.
Since Monday, we've been living over at Karen's (aka KarenCamp). It feels funny to "come home" over here now instead of to our own apartment. Pippin seems to be adjusting well, although she's having difficulty with the Stay Off the Table Rule. She's really enjoying the ground-floor windows. For her sake, it would be nice if we could find a ground-floor place in Oklahoma City. But that's another story for a future time.
I think I've rambled on enough for now. In short, we're busy, we're tired, we're of very mixed emotions, we're enjoying the "last times" we're spending with various people. All of this, of course, is reinforcing in me the knowledge and the sense that I am truly at home nowhere on this earth. My citizenship, my allegiance, my home is heaven. Perhaps God has led me to this rootless, often-moving, TCK life because he knows that I need it; perhaps I need it so that I will know where my true refuge and sanctuary and comfort is.
Check out 2. Corinthians 4:18 and Philippians 3:20. God says it better than I can.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Today, in a box stuffed into a shelf in the attic, Ed found something that I have been missing for almost six years, ever since we moved to Chemnitz: my old journals. Not a big deal to some; a priceless treasure to me. When he brought that box down from the attic and I realized what was in it, I whooped for joy. Literally whooped. Not many people in my life have had the experience of being in my presence when I whooped, but Silke and Guido had that experience today, because they were here when it happened. I whooped.
Anyway…my old journals. I have them back. And I’m very happy about that. These are my journals spanning most of my teens and my early 20s. These are pre-blogging journals. These are pre-*typing* journals. The only drawback to finding them is that I now see how terrible my handwriting used to be. (Some might claim it’s still terrible, but for now, that’s neither here nor there nor anywhere.)
The earliest one starts out like this: “Hello. My name is Courtney Anne Weger. I am 14 years old…” And so begins the saga. Cute, eh? What’s funny to me, as I page through these written treasures, is to see that that 14-year-old had quite a few mature insights and quite a bit more wisdom than the 17-year-old or 19-year-old who was to reveal herself in later writings. Something happened to me between the ages of 14 and 17. I think it was hormones, because most of my journal entries from my later teen years seem to concern boys. Good grief…did I not think about anything else?
I would be mortified if anyone read some of the things I wrote back then. But I’m also finding lots of happy memories, moments that I described in detail because they meant so much to me. I read them, and I find myself thinking, “Hey, I *remember* that…” even though I hadn’t thought of it in years. I remember now what happened, and I remember who I was, and I find that I don’t dislike that girl of years ago as much as I thought I disliked her.
Someone once said that a woman’s heart is a deep ocean full of secrets. Sometimes, a girl’s heart is deep that way, too. Another someone once said that we can’t know who we are and where we’re going until we know who we were and where we came from. My journals help me know these things. I’m thankful to have them again.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
No, I don't *really* have time to do this......but I found the idea on Patricia's blog and thought that even though time is running swiftly through my fingers, I *need* to take the time to do this. It's a little 'spoonful of sugar' that will help improve my attitude, lower my stress level, and remind me to stay positive in the near future.
Okay, so here goes:
10 Things That Recently Made Me Happy
(...Although, overly analytical as I am, I must note that I know nothing can "make" me happy; nothing has that power; the way it really works is that I choose how I react to things and people; my emotions are within my own realm of responsibility. Sorry for the psychological tangent, but I needed to go off on it for my own benefit. ;o) /tangent
10 Things To Which I Recently Reacted In A Most Positive Manner (lol, much eye-rolling) ;oD
In random order....
1. Spending time with lots of sisters at the Ladies' Retreat in Filzmoos, Austria.
1b. Recording with the "5 Sächsy Angels"! ;oD
2. Talking with Matt and Ben, 2 Vienna students who stayed with us last weekend.
3. Allison's email telling me that she enjoyed our talks in Filzmoos.
4. Elsa's statement that Jim isn't lost; we know exactly where he is.
5. Hearing that God had worked things out for Van, Ja-9 and Isa for their university studies.
6. Remembering how much I enjoy autumn.
7. Hearing how much friends and family in Oklahoma are looking forward to seeing us soon.
8. Realizing yet again that God is always there for me and is working to take care of me, especially 'behind-the-scenes' where I am not able to see.
9. Being part of Alex and Barbara's wedding with loved ones and seeing old friends!
10. The privilege of being in a position where I can watch the spiritual growth of people I care about a lot.
And lots of other things too numerous to list. There are so many happy things in life, if we'll only take the time to think about them honestly and write them down.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
How can two humans accumulate so much stuff over the course of six years??!???!?!!?!?!!!!!!!!!!?
The other day, Ed stood in the doorway of the bedroom and announced, "There is something wrong with me."
"What?" I asked, beginning to tick through possible maladies in my head.
But he quickly dispelled my concerns over any physical ailment: "I can't throw anything away."
Turns out that he found a drawer full of wires that he hasn't seen in nearly six years, but he has kept them all this time. "Just in case."
I think I must've shredded a hundred pages of documents today, stuff I'd stuck in a drawer at least three years ago and then forgotten about.
I have decided that Ed and I should no longer be allowed to own drawers.
And you may do with that pun whatever you wish. ;oD
Sunday, October 14, 2007
...I know this, because all my fingernails have broken off over the last few days.
Moving is also bad for sinus health, because one stirs up a lot of dust that one's sinuses are not reacting to in a particularly pleasant way.
It's not just the dust, though. I've cried a lot.
I'm not as scared as I was, though. I think I'm trusting God more, which is a very hopeful, encouraging thing. I'm just sad. I feel like I'm already starting to say goodbye, and I walk around on the edge of weeping a lot of the time now.
On a good note, though, the moving company said they can't come till the 22nd. This means that Ed and I get to go to Jim's funeral on Friday. Personally, I don't have the need of going to funerals in order to experience closure; I prefer to remember people as I last saw them, instead of as a grave site or, worse, a shell in a coffin. But I go to funerals in order to be there for the people who are left. It's something I can do to show respect for the deceased and to share the grief of others. And since shared pain is lessened...
Elsa was really happy to hear that we could come to the funeral. She has asked us to sing, along with Larry and the Springers' daughter Karin. We feel very honored that she asked us. I don't know if we'll physically be able to sing (through tears), but we agreed to do it, and we will at least try.
After talking to Elsa yesterday, I am even more in awe of her faith and of Jim's. And I am thinking more and more about how the death of a Christian is a thing to be celebrated more than mourned. As Elsa put it, Jim is now exactly where he is supposed to be, and he is now doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing. I'm sad that we no longer have his physical presence to brighten up our lives and encourage us in faith...but at the same time, I know that the special essence that makes him Jim is not snuffed out or even diminished. That which makes him Jim is still intact.
As someone else said to Elsa: We have not lost Jim. We know exactly where he is.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Well, only a few minutes, and I am already posting something non-moving-related. But for good reason.
Ed and I just got a call that Jim Springer, our dear friend and Christian brother, died just a few minutes ago. We knew this was coming, but it's still a terrible blow. "A terrible blow"--what a terrific understatement. I don't have the right words to describe what's going through my mind and heart right now. But "a terrible blow" is the very least of it.
Jim has been Ed's mentor for 11 years and mine for about 4. In a way, Jim and his wife Elsa have been another set of parents for the two of us. We just saw him in July, when we took part in another of the Springers' ETM classes. God works in amazing ways, because to me, this was the most helpful, challenging, and valuable ETM class I've been in. I feel so privileged and encouraged to have benefited from Jim's teaching one last time.
Early September was the first hint that anything was wrong. Jim was diagnosed with cancer about three weeks ago.
I think maybe that is why this is such a huge shock. Nobody saw this coming. And yet, this is how reality is: None of us have a guarantee of tomorrow. Jim's situation was not unique; that could have been any one of our spouses; it could be any one of us. What a strong reminder this is that each of us needs to be prepared.
Jim was prepared. In her last email, Elsa said he was happy to be going home. He was excited about the next step he would take. Now he has taken it, and in my heart, sadness is accompanied by thanksgiving. For over a week now, since the German churches learned how serious Jim's condition was, we have all been praying that Jim would not suffer. God has answered our prayers in the grandest way possible, by sparing Jim the suffering and by taking him to a perfect place.
Death isn't the worst thing that can happen. We humans usually believe that, but it is a lie. The worst thing that can happen is for a human's life to end before that human has entered into a covenant relationship with God. Jim had that covenant relationship, and now he's home. Even in our grief, we certainly don't begrudge him that.
If you're the kind of person who prays, pray for Elsa. Pray for Jim's daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren. Pray for the family and friends who are still here. Pray for the German churches, who have been blessed through Jim for more than 30 years. Pray for us, because we miss him.
So. Today was the ninth wedding anniversary of Ed and Courtney, and we celebrated it by itemizing and estimating the worth of all our household goods that we're shipping to the States.
I won't mention how much stuff we have.
I won't mention what our grand total (for insurance purposes) was.
All I want to say is that my brain feels like mush.
Last week's relaxing, inspiring, encouraging Ladies' Retreat in Filzmoos, Austria, seems like a year ago.
The weekend in Miskolc, Hungary, celebrating the marriage of Alex (from Chemnitz) and Barbara (from Miskolc), seems like half a year ago.
This has been THE DAY THAT NEVER ENDS. ;oP
I have Sticky Tack that my mother bought for me when I went to college. That was eleven-and-a-half years ago. I found some of it today, stuck on top of the vanity mirror.
I wonder if Sticky Tack can go bad.
It was covered in dust. I'm sure there were things growing in it.
I didn't investigate more closely. I threw it out.
The telephone company turned off our phone. They're about two weeks early.
Figuring it's not worth hassling over, we said, "Oh well." It's cell phone time.
I regret to announce that until further notice, this blog will most likely become a receptacle for my moving-related venting. I gotta have an outlet, and I suspect this is gonna be it. My only regret is that further posts about the UK Trip are suspended for now. But it's all still in my head. I'll get it out eventually. ;o)
Friday, September 28, 2007
"It is good to debate the mysteries of prayer, to ponder the profundities of prayer, to learn the methods of prayer. It is better to pray.
"Prayer is a little like an automobile: you do not have to understand everything about its inner workings for it to get you somewhere."
--Richard J. Foster
in "Devotional Classics"
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Most nights around this time, if I'm awake (which I frequently--okay, usually--am), I hear the street cleaner go by. The street cleaner is this little, boxy, orange vehicle that comes out at night to clean the streets of Chemnitz (kind of like the robot mice in the house in the nuclear disaster area in one of Ray Bradbury's short stories, but a lot less morbid).
The street cleaner has a huge, round brush and an assortment of other cleansing nozzles, gizmos and whatsits attached to its underside. So at night, when all the good little children are asleep, and naughty little Courtney is yet again putting off going to bed, the street cleaner whirs and whines its way up our street and then, awhile later, back down again on the other side.
The whirring and whining kind of make for a melancholy sound. I wish I could say that the thing chuckles to itself or something equally quirky, but it doesn't. It just whines and whirs and sounds kind of like a big, sad vacuum cleaner from a distance. This is one of those sounds that, for me, is distinctly Germany. It's a sound I think I'm going to miss.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Ahoy, mateys! Just wanted to point out briefly that today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day (TLAPD)! Follow the link if you wanna know more.
In the meantime, this sinus infection is keepn' me shivers timbered....or me timbers shivered.....or somesuch. But it's not too bad this time--I'm on antibiotics, and I still feel human. Arrrrrr!
I hope you scurvy bilge rats are haulin' your bunts well up today!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This way. Today I come to listen there is very next this that my body says to me so he should know only, all the work I can actually cost without erasing. And for what listening so much important? Well, we will only say that it had four magnificently gunk-without month, and yesterday afternoon since went to sleep, my period of the elegance was finally (and, he might add, it is very sharp).
Ich nehme an, dass von einer intellektuellen Einstellung es ziemlich faszinierend ist, wie schnell diese Kurve-Infektionen herankommen. Ich kann vollkommen fein sein, mich groß, lah Di dah fühlen, und zwei Stunden später wird alles über meiner Lippenlinie behindert, und mein Hals wird geschlossen angeschwollen. Ja ist es ganz recht faszinierend. Wirklich faszinierend. Oh, die Heiterkeit der Biologie. Blech.
--> I assume, that intellectual hiring it will be charming enough, as fast these infections of a curve come nearer. I can be quite thin, on a maximum, lah, di dah me feels, and two hours later, to all stir on my line of lips, and my neck becomes closed, up. It is absolutely absolutely charming. Really charming. Oh, gaiety of biology. A leaf.
Die Arbeit ist das, was mir gefallen würde fähig sein, heute, zu machen, die Arbeit der Überredung "sie bereiten den Stock auf die Bewegung vor". Da dieser riesig die Bewegung und die möglich schwere Erhebung braucht, weiß ich nicht, wenn mein Körper in diesem Feinem mitarbeiten wird, infectiony Tag. Wir werden sehen. Mittlerweile, erhöhe ich Selbst Übertragungen Dopamin um mein Gehirn für unterhalten durch den Übersetzer in Linie. Vielleicht wird er ihm die Leute manche Lachen auch geben.
--> The work is that what I would like is able, today, to do, the work of the persuading "they prepare the floor for the movement". Because this needs gigantically the movement and the possibly heavy elevation, I do not know if my body co-operates in this fine, infectiony day. We will see. Meanwhile, I Myself raise transference dopamine by my brain for maintained by the translator in line. Maybe he will also give him the people some puddles.
Vorwärts! Die Anfragen der Arbeit! Aufzeichung-ho!
--> Forward! The requests of the work! The list ho!
And, for those who have difficulties deciphering the online translator’s ciphers, here it all is again in real English:
So. Today I get to listen very closely to what my body is telling me, so that I will know just how much work I can do without wearing myself out. And why is this listening so important? Well, let’s just say that I’ve had four gloriously gunk-free months, and last night, as I was getting ready for bed, my grace period was finally (and, might I add, quite abruptly) up.
I suppose that from an intellectual standpoint, it’s rather fascinating how rapidly these sinus infections come on. I can be perfectly fine, feel great, lah di dah, and two hours later everything above my lipline is clogged up and my throat is swollen shut. Yeah, that’s fascinating all right. *REALLY* fascinating. Oh, the joys of biology. Blech.
The work I would like to be able to do today is work of the prepare-apartment-for-move persuasion. Since that requires a lot of movement and possibly heavy lifting, I don’t know if my body will cooperate on this fine, infectiony day. We shall see. In the meantime, I’m increasing dopamine transmissions in my brain by amusing myself with the online translator. Maybe it’ll give you people a few laughs as well.
Onward! Work calls! Tally-ho!
Monday, September 17, 2007
Just something I consciously thought of that I wanted to record for future reminding:
Other people have the right to be sad that Ed and I are moving from Chemnitz. They also have the right to express this sadness.
Other people have a right to be happy that we're coming to Oklahoma. They also have the right to express this happiness.
My emotions and my thoughts about moving should not depend on the emotions or the thoughts of others. If they do depend on the emotions and thoughts of others, this means that I am choosing not to set healthy boundaries.
I have the right to be sad that we are moving from Chemnitz. I have the right to be upset that I have to be separated from my friends. I have the right to be frustrated that our necessary decisions have led to this. I have the right to express these things.
I also have the right to be excited about the future positives of living in Oklahoma. And I have the right to express that excitement.
I have the right to say that I am looking forward to good times and grand adventures, and I have the right to say that leaving Chemnitz tears me up inside. I am allowed to feel these things.
I just read the following in a Yahoo! news article:
"Last winter — when spring blossoms popped up all over the Austrian Alps, Geneva's official chestnut tree sprouted leaves and flowers, and Swedes were still picking mushrooms well into December — was Europe's warmest in 500 years, [says Christian Pfister, a climate historian at the University of Bern]. It came after the hottest autumn in a millennium and was followed by one of the balmiest Aprils on record."
And in Saxony at least, that balmy April has, in the meantime, turned into a rather chilly September. Today is nice, the sun is out, and the air smells fresh but not autumn-crisp. But we're supposed to have rain again starting tomorrow.
I think I'm ready to live in Hawaii now. ;o)
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The following is part of a comment I left on Alisha's blog and considered worth immortalizing here:
I compulsively count stairs. In our stairwell, three of our staircases have nine stairs each, one staircase has ten stairs, and the one leading to the back door has five stairs. That's 42, which is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. I remain, therefore, convinced that counting stairs (and other things) is a worthwhile pastime.
And if I step on a crack in the sidewalk with my left foot, I have to step on a crack with my right foot, too. Otherwise, I feel unbalanced. I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable psychological explanation for this, but I haven't found it yet. ;o)
In other news, I'm working on finishing ETM homework this week, so I might not be able to continue regaling you with tall tales of traveling. Day Three, however, *is* written, so if I can get around to working with the pictures, I'll post that sometime this week.
Generall overall mood: melancholy and lethargic because I have too much to do and have passed the point at which the workload is a motivating challenge. Instead, it has become an overwhelming task of monumental proportions, leaving me feeling drained and nearly unable to concentrate on anything that I actually need to be doing.
Part of the reason I've taken on so much and am procrastinating about it is that the workload and the procrastination are providing an escape from having to think about what's coming ( --> moving).
However, don't feel sorry for me, Gentle Readers. I'll be fine eventually. :o)
Thursday, September 06, 2007
The card is from sheepworld, and it reads, "I am always there for you!"
And voilà! The haircut. ;o)
Addendum: Just noticed that I posted something about sheepworld exactly one year ago today. How weird is that.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Tuesday, August 14
Today is the day of education! Patrick, Ed, and I take the train from Peterborough to King’s Cross Station in London. A brisk walk, and we are at the British Library.
Patrick is the Director of Studies at the British Bible School, and he will now show us and give us explanations of some of the most important documents in existence today.
Currently, the Library is putting on an exhibit relating to three major world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam... The documents that are of interest to us are not in the same places that they usually are, so Patrick leads us on a merry hunt, narrating as he goes. He has given us a pamphlet pertaining to what we are seeing, and I hastily check things off and make notes as we go along. (Unfortunately, taking pictures here is not allowed, so I have no accompanying illustrations.) We see:
--> London Codex or British Museum Codex (Oriental Hebrew Bible), ca. A.D. 950, which contains most of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). We see Exodus 20.
--> Codex Sinaiticus, ca. A.D. 340, the oldest “complete” manuscript in Greek (“complete” because some scholars question this). We see Mark 15 (I think) through 16:8 and Luke 1:1-18.
--> Codex Alexandrinus, ca. A.D. 450, which contains most of the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) and the New Testament.
--> P18, a papyrus fragment of Revelation 1:4-7 in Greek, 3rd or 4th century, from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt.
--> Old Latin Genesis 5:29 through 6:2, 5th century, also from Oxyrhynchus.
--> Lindisfarne Gospels, ca. A.D. 700, in Latin. Made by Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne. In the tenth century, a priest named Aldred wrote an Old English translation in the margins.
--> Dead Sea Scrolls, Psalms 31 and 33 from Cave 4, A.D. 50.
--> Samaritan Pentateuch, ca. 14th century A.D.
--> The “Unknown Gospel,” 2nd century A.D., from Egypt.
--> P45, a papyrus manuscript from the Chester Beatty Collection, ca. A.D. 250. Luke 13:6-24 and 11:50 through 12:12
--> Gutenberg Bible, the first large book that Johannes Gutenberg printed on his moveable type press in 1454-55.
I am stunned by the historical magnitude of it all. The manuscripts I am seeing are merely a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of Biblical manuscripts housed in museums worldwide. So many documents confirming the age and reliability of the Old and New Testaments…and yet people refuse to believe in the Bible’s veracity. All over the world, children are learning historical “facts” that are based on only a few confirming documents. Bruce M. Metzger of Princeton says, “The quantity of New Testament material is almost embarrassing in comparison with other works of antiquity.” And yet, people choose to believe that these works of antiquity are reliable and that the Bible is not. I stand in the British Library, looking at these ancient proofs, and marvel at the blindness of man.
My only regret in viewing this wonderful exhibit is that I cannot photograph it.
As a fun aside, we enter the John Ritblatt Gallery, which usually houses some of the Biblical manuscripts that have been moved and are currently part of the exhibit we just left. The Ritblatt Gallery also houses, among lots of other neat things, original manuscripts of Beatles lyrics (one song is scrawled on a napkin); Mozart, Bach, and Chopin originals; and a letter from King George III to the American colonies, warning the upstart rebels against sedition. We smile as Patrick tells us that we are merely loyal subject who have finally come home to England. ;o)
Before leaving the Library, we encounter a most peculiar sight: an optical illusion picture by Patrick Hughes entitled (appropriately, I believe) “Paradoxymoron.” Looking at it from the front, we see what seems to be a perfectly normal painting.
Walking slowly past it, we realize that the picture is changing: following us not with “eyes” but with entire bookshelves! Every viewing angle gives us a different picture, but always one of extreme depth.
The sign beneath the picture read, “Please do not touch,” and I can understand why: The depth of the picture is so deceptively real, it seems we could reach right into that miniature library and pull a tiny book from its shelf.
Finally, a view from the side reveals the secret:
We spend about ten minutes walking back and forth in front of this painting. We attract a small crowd. ;o)
We lunch at what I think is the English equivalent of “fast-food”; and since the proprietors are of Eastern persuasion and serve quite a few dishes seasoned with curry, I conclude that this is an Indian establishment. Ed braves the curry and orders a so seasoned, very spicy baked potato, while Patrick and I content ourselves with “second breakfast”: eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns. Tea is, of course, a staple of every meal. And of every in-between, for that matter. ;o) Ed and I particularly enjoy the smoke-freeness and the fresh air blowing through from the open doors. It’s nice to eat a meal in public without having to breathe the unwelcome nicotine exhalations of strangers. I long for Germany to follow the UK’s lead.
After lunch, we head over to the British Museum. And here, I can snap pictures to my heart’s content. (I'll refrain from posting them here, though, as I'm not sure I'm allowed to display them outside of my home.) The Museum is hums and buzzes with human life moving in and out between and around exhibits of the lives of humans long crumbled to dust. The Egyptian exhibits draw a particularly large number of viewers, and we have to fight our way through the crowds in order to get to the rooms that are of greater interest to us.
I am thankful for Patrick’s guidance, for he can point out to us the special gems in this vast horde of archaeological wealth. Without his expertise, we would be lost, doomed merely to wander about, not really knowing what we’re seeing, unable to grasp the significance of even a minute part of what the Museum has to offer. Patrick can give us at least an inkling of the meaning of what he shows us and how it relates to our lives--and to humanity worldwide--today. We see:
--> Amarna Letters, 14th century B.C., from vassals to Amenhotep III, Akehenaton and Tutankhamun, kings of Egypt.
--> Clay Model of Sheep’s Liver, which priests used to tell the future and interpret prophecy. No wonder Nebuchadnezzar’s magicians couldn’t figure out his dreams! (see Daniel 2)
--> Human-headed Winged Lions, portal guardians from the throne room of Ashurnasirpal II, king of Assyria from 884-859 B.C. and the father of Shalmaneser III.
--> Black Obelisk (ca. 827 B.C.) of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria from 858-824 B.C. Among other things, the obelisk depicts Jehu, king of Israel, bringing tribute to Shalmaneser (see 2. Kings 9 and 17).
--> Balawat Gates from the palace of Shalmaneser III.
--> Samaria Ivories, probably 8th century B.C., probably similar to what Ahab used in his ivory house (see 1. Kings 2:39).
--> Human-headed Winged Bulls of Sargon II, king of Assyria from 722-705 B.C. (see Isaiah 20) and father of Sennacherib. The bulls stood in Sargon’s palace, built around 710 B.C.
--> Sculptured panels of the Capture of Lachish by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, 705-681 B.C. Judah rebelled, so Sennacherib went on a campaign to destoy Judah’s fortified cities. This did not include Jerusalem, as Sennacherib’s army died before he could destroy the city (see 2. Kings 18-19 and 2. Chron. 32). Otherwise, these panels would probably depict the fall of Jerusalem, since Jerusalem was a far more important city than Lachish.
--> Sennacherib Prism, or Taylor Prism, on which Sennacherib recorded his first eight military campaigns. He writes of Hezekiah, king of Judah from ca. 715-687 B.C.
--> Phoenician Warship Relief of a ship built for Sennacherib.
--> Sculptured panels of Ashurbanipal’s Royal Lion Hunt. Ashurbanipal was king of Assyria ca. 669-627 B.C., and he was the grandson of Sennacherib.
--> Bethlehem Tomb Artifacts, from the 7th century B.C.
--> Royal Steward Inscription, from 7th century B.C., possibly of Shebna, steward of King Hezekiah (see Isaiah 22:15f, 2. Kings 18:18).
--> Lachish Letters, from before 586 B.C., and Figurines from Lachish, showing idol worship of the Judeans.
--> Cyrus Cylinder, on which Cyrus, king of Persia (549-530 B.C.) recorded his conquest of Babylon. He decreed that the Jews could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city and the temple (see Ezra 2 and 6:3-5).
--> Darius Seal, which belonged to Darius I, king of Persia from 522 to ca. 485 B.C. He made sure the decrees of Cyrus concerned the Jews were implemented (see Ezra 4-6).
--> Column-drum from the Ephesian temple of Artemis (aka Diana), ca. 320 B.C. (see Acts 19).
--> The Rosetta Stone, 196 B.C., inscribed in hieroglyphic and demotic Egyptian and in uncial Greek.
--> Other sights: Nebuchadnezzar’s Bricks; the Flood Tablet (Gilgamesh Epic) made for Ashurbanipal in the 7th century B.C.; the Babylonian Chronicle, 605-595 B.C.; and a Glazed Brick Panel from the palace of Darius I, father of Xerxes (Esther 2:16-23, Neh. 1:1).
Thoughts are still whirling like mad through my head, similar to those I was having at the British Library. My faith in God and in the inspiration of scripture is not dependent on these archaeological findings… But all of these artifacts do answer some of the questions that others have asked me and that I have asked myself over the years. God has allowed nature and history to leave behind these tantalizing clues, openly displayed on the other side of clear glass, pointing in the direction of truth and certainty. I examine Shalmaneser’s Black Obelisk, studying the image of King Jehu of Israel bringing tribute. This is the only known depiction of an Israelite king. I look at his bowed head, and suddenly I’m able to picture so much better the things I read in the Old Testament. If Israel had turned to God for strength instead of to the Assyrian king, how different our history would have been!
As we depart the Museum, we take a very welcome break in the "Friends of the British Museum" Room, courtesy of Patrick's "Friends" membership. It's great to know people in high places! ;o) My feet are very thankful, as they have now been throbbing their tired displeasure at me for quite some time. And a cup of coffee hits just the perfect spot.
On the way back to the Boyns’ house, we take a train from King’s Cross again. Naturally, we must stop to admire “Platform 9 ¾” of “Harry Potter” fame. I’m disappointed that the “platform” is not situated in a pillar, as it is in the films, but rather in a blank wall. However, the half of a luggage cart, bolted to the wall and apparently “disappearing” into it, is amusing enough. Ed and Patrick tease me into following the example of other apparent HP fans: I stand at the cart, as though pushing it into the wall at a dead run, and throw an exuberant glance over my shoulder so that Ed can take a picture. I feel silly, but agree with the men that if I don’t do it, I’ll fly back home next week regretting it. ;o)
Monday, September 03, 2007
Monday, August 13
We arrive at the Stansted airport and immediately get in the customs line for those of non-European-Union persuasion. Foolishly, we think that because this line is shorter than the line for European Union members, we will get through customs and to the baggage claim rather more quickly than the EU people. Not so. Our line might be shorter, but the customs officials are scrutinizing each of us far more carefully than they scrutinize their fellow EU members. Rightfully so. Ed and I confuse the customs agent a bit when we explain that we live in Germany. Our American passports would seem to belie this. By the time we get through to baggage claim, ours are two of the few suitcases left on the carousel. Just as well, as this means we don’t have to wait for our luggage!
When we exit the gate area, the first person we don’t see is Patrick. We stand gawking for a few minutes, thinking that if he is here, he will be able to spot us, as we’re making ourselves somewhat obvious. Not so this time, either. We leave the airport and look for him outside. Oodles of people, and I’m sure most of them are English, but none of them are the Englishman we’re looking for. Ed rings Patrick up on his cell phone. Where are we? Suddenly, the cell phone has become a walkie-talkie, and Ed and Patrick are giving each other a play-by-play as we (hopefully) begin to move in his general direction. Finally, we spot him, and he spots us. Jolly good! (By the end of this trip, I will have picked up a few local words and phrases, and “jolly good” will have become a particular favorite.)
On to Cambridge, where we sightsee the university. Patrick’s daughter Shanae is a student here, so he’s well-equipped to give us a tour and a welcome explanation of the university system. Shanae belongs to Newnham College, which does not denote a particular area of study; rather, it designates the house she lives in. Patrick ponders trying to pop in for a look inside, but we decide it might seem slightly odd for a student’s father to be poking around during summer holidays. Ed and I offer to play the Confused American Tourists bit, but we decide to leave this particular adventure for another day.
At least we get to see the beautiful grounds of Newnham College, and I think that this would be the perfect place for an afternoon of reading in a sunny, grassy nook.
Outside of King’s College, we find a Victorian post box:
a public mailbox still bearing the designation of Her Royal Highness, Queen Victoria. Most other post boxes carry the name of Queen Elizabeth II, so this one is special.
Patrick tells us that at least once per semester, each college has a formal dinner, complete with multiple-course meals. Shanae’s college, Newnham, is an all-girls college (they even have their own private library), so she and her fellows wear ballgowns under their formal university robes (gowns in England; and they are open to the front instead of covering everything the way American robes do). Of course, the girls are welcome to invite male guests to their dinners. But a ticket (which members as well as non-members of the college must buy) can run several hundred pounds. (I believe Patrick said that attendance at one dinner per year is required.) Some of the wealthier colleges, such as King's and St. John's, can even afford for well-known bands to play at their formals. I think that I could get used to the fun of the occasional formal dinner, but the price would be somewhat prohibitive!
Soon, we come to The Backs, which is the back of Queen’s, King’s, St. John’s, and Trinity. Along The Backs flows the River Cam, which is, of course, the namesake of Cambridge.
Here, one can go “punting.” Punts are boats which are poled up and down the river. The punter drives a long pole into the riverbed and pushes the punt along. This requires strong arms and a good sense of balance!
The punter can get himself into trouble if he passes under a bridge and gets the pole stuck lengthwise between bridge and riverbed! Then he must make a choice: keep hold of the pole and be pulled off the boat as it continues to drift, or leave the pole behind, stuck, and stay on the boat without a method of propulsion. Either way, he must wait for rescue from some kind, punting soul. I regret very much that we don’t have time to try this out ourselves! (The punting, of course, not the getting-stuck part.)
Walking around downtown Cambridge brings us two highly memorable experiences: One, we encounter a fudge shop purporting to sell the best fudge in the world. Naturally, Ed and I must try some. This is also an opportunity for me to get rid of some of the UK change bequeathed to me by other Uk-adventurers of my acquaintance (a.k.a. my parents). The coins are unfamiliar; I stand there, counting them out into the hand of my mortified husband, and feel like a foreigner. Go figure. ;o) The shopgirl has a great attitude about it, though, even when my 50p coins prove to be the old kind only accepted by banks. We buy the fudge--three varieties turn out to be irresistible--and troop outside again. Much to Patrick's delight, our first English fudge experience is most excellent. (In fact, it's good enough that we will manage to make it last several weeks!)
The other new experience brought to us by irrepressible Cambridge is the street performer. Patrick calls him a "busker"; the name alone would have been newness enough for us. But this busker brings it all to new heights of "nouveau": His stage of choice is the interior of a litter bin! With the neck of the guitar sticking out one side and an elbow out the other, he's playing and singing as though sitting inside a garbage can were the most natural thing in the world.
I ask Patrick if this is normal behavior for British buskers, but even Parick is nonplussed. I give the busker points for originality, as well as some of my change (though I'm not obnoxious enough to give him the useless 50p coins). ;o)
We wind up our evening at the Boynses’ home in Peterborough. We walk in, and the first thing I hear is the music of KT Tunstall issuing from somewhere in the back of the house. June, Patrick’s wife, has dinner ready for us: lasagna with all the trappings, and real custard for dessert! We enjoy a great meal and fun fellowship with Patrick and June and their two teens, son Aubrey and daughter Rachelle. (Shanae is on a summer mission in India.) Afterward, Patrick shows us a video he has made, featuring some of the things we will see at the British Library and the British Museum tomorrow. I go to bed feeling at home.
Courtney and Ed at the River Cam
So. Due to popular demand (voiced to me by multiple people in person, if not on this blog), I'm gonna start "reporting" on the mid-August vacation Ed and I took to the United Kingdom. We'd been planning this trip for over a year, and it was my Christmas present from Ed last year. So by the time we actually got to go, I was as excited as Snickers when it's time to leave for her Sunday walk and the dumb humans can't find the leash. Getting to go to London and Scotland really swung my verge, if you will. ;o)
A few preliminary remarks about the vacation, or "holiday," as they say in the UK: This was the first real vacation that Ed and I have had since my parents took us to Ireland five years ago. Yeah, we've had a few trips to Oklahoma since then, and we've taken "mini-vays" (mini-vacations = day trips or weekend trips) to various places, but nothing like a real, frolicking, get-away-from-everything, see-something-totally-new, get-into-another-world kind of vacation. The trips to the States are never vacations because they're more "business" than pleasure. And four of my trips to the States have been for family medical emergencies or deaths. All in all, it would be nice to take a trip to the States that actually involved anything like a vacation!
Also, this was the very first vacation Ed and I have been on together, just the two of us, since our honeymoon (almost nine years ago!). So we've been rather overdue for something like this!
And a few prelims about my vacation "blopgost": It's gonna be a lot, it's gonna take me some time to finish writing it, and I seriously doubt that most of you will want to read all of it. However, I'll be posting it piece by piece, so maybe that'll keep it from being too overwhelming. ;o)
Saturday, September 01, 2007
A couple of days ago, I saw a report on Yahoo! about a phenomenon called "lifecasting": People strap cameras to their heads and broadcast their lives over the Internet 24/7. In a way, this has been done before by those who set up 24-hour webcams in their dorm rooms, office cubicles, refrigerators, what-have-you. The difference here is that lifecasting is mobile; people are broadcasting their lives as they live them, outside of their homes, everywhere they go.
Call me antiquated, but I think this is kind of odd. The word "nutty" comes to mind. Yeah, I'm kind of indulging voyeurism by having a journal that is accessible to the world (see: blog) and by reading other people's blogs. However, I do not record every moment of my private life here, and I don't read every moment of other people's private lives. Lifecasters have no private lives.
The only time this one guy turns his camera off is when he goes into public restrooms, because otherwise he'd be breaking the law. Even when he's having sex with his date, he leaves the camera on, though it's turned toward the wall with the mic off. That's something anyway, I suppose.
Another lifecaster allows her viewers to give her direction on what to do. If they say, "Buy and drink a cappucino," she buys and drinks a cappucino. (She carries her laptop around with her so that she can remain in constant contact with her viewers.) So far, she refuses to obey orders to take off her clothes in front of a mirror, but I wonder how long this resolution will last.
Lifecasting, to me, is just a bizarre phenomenon. It's like "Big Brother" on steroids. I suppose George Orwell would be thrilled.
Friday, August 31, 2007
I know, I know, I've posted a lot of "check this out" and "do this" and "don't do that" lately. I'm sorry, but I just gotta. It's all relevant! It's all for your own good!!!!! ;o)
Anyway, today's helpful hint is, yet again, about those pesky EMAIL FORWARDS! Today, I am taking to task those who hit "forward" without checking their facts first. You know what I'm talking about. Those emails saying such-and-such a network is gonna air such-and-such a program that violates every ethical and moral principle that every sane and pure human being holds dear. The emails saying that Celebrity A has been talking trash about ______________, while Celebrities B and C just donated 10 years' worth of movie-made money to some liberal organization that supports killing infants and small fluffy dogs.
Yes, my sarcastic streak is showing.....but c'mon, guys, enough is enough! Imagine a friend comes up to you and says, "Did you hear about Person XYZ? Well, you'll never guess what he did......"
Do you believe every "fact" whispered into your ear?
Do you rush home, whip up a "fact"-sharing email and fire it away to everyone in your address book?
No. Of course you don't.
Especially not without checking to see if all these "facts" you just heard are true.
And why don't you do that?
Well, because it's called "gossip."
And that, my friends, is all a tell-all, tattletale email forward is. It's gossip. It's telling a story about someone you don't know, with facts you can't verify, all to rile other people's emotions up into a frenzy of email-forwarding busybodiness. When you forward an email like that, you're gossiping. And it isn't pretty.
Especially when other people can, upon receiving your gossip, immediately head over to sites like these to check on whether or not your gossip is true:
Truth or Fiction? (thanks for the link, Alisha!)
Sarcasm aside, guys.....please check one of these sites before you hit "forward"! They all have search engines that pick up on key words from that email you want to send on to your friends.
You wouldn't gossip in non-Internet life. Don't be a gossip over email.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The latest on The Epic Adventures of The Chronically Sinusitic (I don't know if the word "sinusitic" actually describes "one who suffers from sinusitis," but I'm gonna say it does because I just made that word up. I think.):
When I saw Dr. A a few weeks ago, and he revealed that I don't need surgery on my nose (?!???!???), I forgot to mention that he also prescribed me something new:
So now, I have my nose spray, which I use once or twice per day, as needed. No, I'm not hooked on it. Chronic sinusitis means that one is constantly sensitive to all sorts of random things. For instance, the moment the weather starts to change (i.e. turn colder), my sinuses close up. One positive thing about this is that my nose is turning into a fairly accurate barometer.
Anyway.....so, I have my nose spray (once or twice daily); I have the ever-amazing nose shower that flushes gunk out (daily); and now I have nose oil, which contains a whole lotta stuff including citric oil (I smell lemony fresh now!), peanut oil, orange peel oil, and "terpinol," which I think is related to terpentine.
This concludes the lastest episode of The Epic Adventures of The Chronically Sinusitic. Thank you for watching!
Monday, August 27, 2007
Today, boys and girls, I'm pointing you in the direction of a place on the web that offers some helpful hints on how to stop procrastinating. If you've been putting off looking up the definition of 'procrastination,' then you've come to the right place: 'Procrastination' means 'putting something off.' 'Not doing something when you know you need to do it.' In other words, ' not gittin' 'er done.'
These people here have some great suggestions on how to turn not gittin' 'er done into 'gittin 'er done. No, I don't always care for their choice of words, but I can live with them. Besides their principles are excellent, and these are their ideas, not mine. I'm not into plagiarism simply to avoid resting my eyes on bad language. ;o)
All of that to say...go check out that link up there. Do an 8-minute dash on something. Git 'er done. I'm gonna go dash something now. :o)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Here are a few things I just read on the website of the The Skin Cancer Foundation. Both of my grandmothers had skin cancer, and I inherited extremely fair skin from both of them, so my risk factor for skin cancer is way high. So I try to use sunscreen and wear protective clothing as much as possible. And keep in mind that tanned skin is damaged skin! I just burn and freckle anyway. ;o)
So here are a few facts I picked up from the site above and thought I would share for educational purposes:
--> More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
--> A person's risk for skin cancer doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns.
--> Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a proven human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
--> Exposure to tanning beds before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.
--> Nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the U.S. annually; 2.3 million of them are teens.
--> On an average day in the U.S., more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons; 70% are Caucasian women aged 16-49.
--> People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
--> Occasional use of tanning beds almost triples the chances of developing melanoma.
--> New high-pressure sunlamps emit doses of UVR that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun.
--> The indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion.
--> Up to 90 percent of the visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. These changes can be seen as early as in one's 20's.
(I can attest to that! ;o)
The Food and Drug Administration in the USA is starting a new labeling system for sunscreen: The labels will now show the protection factor against UVA as well as UVB. So look for SPF (or SBPF) of 50+ and 3-4 stars when you shop for suncreen!
Friday, August 24, 2007
....for a report on our trip to the United Kingdom! Yes, in case my previous, late-night post about fermented oj didn't give it away, Ed and I are back from our wonderful vacation to England and Scotland. I'm in the process of journaling about it, and I will post part (if not all, I'm not sure yet) of my reportive ramblings here. So keep your eyes open, laddies!
(In the meantime, I think I've answered all comments.)
Thursday, August 23, 2007
...is when it's 1 o'clock in the morning, and for some reason you're craving orange juice, and you go to the kitchen, open the fridge, take out the carton of orange juice, pour yourself a glass of that delicious, golden sweetness, raise the glass to your lips, take a big swallow...
...and discover that the orange juice has been quietly fermenting in the fridge while you were away on vacation.
Blech, blech, and triple-blech!
And orange juice gives me heartburn anyway! *grumble*
Sunday, August 12, 2007
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Friday, August 10, 2007
Well, Dr. A looked at my X-rays, did an ultrasound / visual exam of my sinuses / nose, told me that there is some swelling of the tissues in my sinuses (which I already knew), and pronounced that there's no need for an operation at this time (which floored me) as long as I keep using my nose shower.
I was so surprised that I totally forgot to question him on why his diagnosis is so different from Dr. K's.
But in retrospect, I don't think I need to know. I've decided that, since I've gotten two conflicting opinions here, I'm going to postpone the whole kit-and-caboodle and get a third--deciding--opinion from a doctor in Oklahoma. I'm quite perplexed about the whole thing and really wish that I didn't have to deal with this. But, as we all know, if wishes were equines, I wouldn't have to ride my bicycle everywhere, either.
So there ya have it, folks. Modern medicine strikes again. Strike three, yer out! ;oP
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
That said, however, I found the following to be accurate, illuminating, and disturbing. The trends which Renfroe (see below) presents in his article are realities of which the church today needs to take note. If we don't, we're in for some rather nasty surprises in the very near future.
"...I can't help wondering, in the midst of the current [technological] craze, if any room is left for God. Do the movers and shakers of the technological revolution have any place for a 2,000-year-old book? Indeed, does anyone even read anymore? In our quest to gain academic prowess through tech savvy, have we failed to instruct regarding the most important knowledge our children will ever need to acquire--the knowledge they need to save their souls (John 8:32; 1. Timothy 2:4)?"
"Parents naturally want their children to succeed, obtain advanced degrees, and secure high-paying jobs believed to ensure not only financial security but also the ever-elusive happiness that evades so many...
"During Old Testament days, parents were to teach their children about God and His marvelous works at every available opportunity (Deuteronomy 6:7; 11:19). Today, some parents are asleep at the proverbial wheel. We clamor for our kids to be in the best schools and taught by highly qualifed professionals. We expect them to play sports--the big three, at least--and would not think of their missing practice. (They might get a scholarship, you know.) But are we failing them where they need us most?
"If we could muster the same enthusiasm toward our children's spiritual education that we do for their secular activities, it would be far less likelly we would see a generation that, in many quarters, is 'destroyed for lack of knowledge' (Hosea 4:6 ASV)..."
"21st Century Kids Are Wired"
Gospel Advocate, June 2007, Vol CXLIX, No. 6
Some of my thoughts as I read this:
Why is it so important to us that our children Get A Good Education?
Do we really believe that it's more important for our children to become Christians than it is for them to Get A Good Education?
Are we teaching our children to spend at least as much time studying the holy words of God as they spend studying textbooks written by humans?
We hear kids say, "When I grow up, I wanna be a teacher/rock star/fireman/astronaut/vet/police officer/etc."
We encourage them in these dreams. And rightfully so.
But how much encouragement do we give them in developing a dream that when they grow up, they "wanna be a faithful servant of God"?
I've never heard a kid say, "When I grow up, I wanna be what God wants me to be."
Why is that?
Are we studying the Bible with our kids and worshiping God with them at home? Every day?
Or are we leaving that part up to the "Sunday school teachers"?
When did Sunday morning Bible Class replace parental responsibility?
Renfroe says that we make sure our kids never miss sports practice.
Are we making sure they are present every time the church assembles to worship God?
Are we ourselves present every time our Christian family is together for worship?
Or are we ourselves skipping worship because this or that activity "is only this one time," which just "happens to be" during worship time?
Are we ourselves skipping worship in favor of attending secular activities?
Are we teaching our children to "go to church" because that means they're being good?
Or are we teaching them to be the church because being the church is the only scriptural concept? (After all, where in the Bible do you find the concept of "going to" church?)
Where are our own priorities? Yours and mine?
Is God truly the center of our lives?
The only constant reality?
Or are we lying to ourselves?
And are we raising our children on a diet of these holy-seeming lies?
Are we teaching our kids, by our example, that God's word, the Bible, is not binding?
What do you think?