Wednesday, April 30, 2008

in which i ponder art and purpose

I am thinking about the act of writing.
I am thinking about music.
I am thinking about visual art, art on paper, art on canvas.
I am thinking about the multitude of ways in which we humans express ourselves in what is commonly known as a 'creative' way.

Genesis 1:1 reads, "In the beginning, God created..."
Genesis 2:26 reads, "God said, 'Let us make man in our image...'"

I have always thought that "in our image" refers to the fact that God created each of us with a soul.
I still believe that.

But I also believe this:

The first thing we learn about God from scripture is that he is a creative being. Since he made us 'in his image,' I believe this means that he made us to be creative beings.

Being a writer and an artist is, for me, paying homage to this fact. As a child imitates a father, so through my art, my creativity, I am imitating my Father by bringing forth something that, by human perception, wasn't there before. It is all by his design and through his workings in my spirit and in my life.

Every human, by Divine definition, carries a creative impulse within the soul. Every human. Without exception. Discovering that impulse is simply a matter of discovering how best to express it so as to bring glory to God.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

cultural transitions bite...

...and I despise bathtub drains that leak into the neighbor's apartment *AGAIN*, thereby depriving me of a well-earned bubble bath.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

i've been blogging this in my head since 7am

Dear Traffic Hazards,

While watching you today, aiming snarky comments at you in my head--or aloud, when I was alone in the car--I decided that the time has come, as the walrus said, to let the you-relevant snarkiness leak from my mind, ooze down through my nervous system, trickle out of my fingertips, gush into my keyboard, and spawn its way onto my blog, where you may gnash your gnashing teeth over it in impotence. That said, here are the points I've wished all day that you might see fit to ponder:

1. The manufacturer of your car, law-abiding and foresightful individual that s/he is, wisely equipped your car with headlights. Yeah, if you could turn those on when it's dark outside....ummmmm.....that'd be grrreaaaat.

2. The aforementioned mountain-top-guru-esque manufacturer also built into your car a couple of nifty gadgets called turn signals.
     a. Some of you are using turn signals as a method for asking permission to change lanes, instead of using them to announce your intention to change lanes. Asking permission is not only a misuse of the turn signal (a misuse which should, I might add, be a federal offense, like tearing the tag off of a pillow--yeah, they know who you are, you delinquent pillow-tag-tear-offers!), it is also dumb.
     b. Some of you aren't using the turn signals at all. This is not only dumb, it is also stupid, because you are begging me to run into you because I don't know where you're going.

3. Entrance ramps are not parking lots. Please to be noticing the difference. Thank you.

4. Random Breaking Syndrome* is a disease. Seek help before it's too late**.

5. When I am abiding by the speed limit of 25mph and you, in your culturally-induced haste to get from Point A to Point Z so fast it threatens to tear the skin off your face, run up behind me and begin trying to push me to break the speed limit, the law of cause and effect comes into play.
     a. The effect might be that I simply ignore you, because I am in a good mood and not susceptible to your wily speed demon ways; stay thee behind me! Pwned!
     b. The effect might be that I actually slow down because I am annoyed (and you are not a droid, which is unfortunate, because it would make you more interesting). You are SO not swinging my verge, here.
          --> The cause of these effects is you, so do not gnash your teeth at me, or the effect will be that I purchase and apply to my car a bumper sticker that reads "I might be slow, but I'm ahead of you."

Cause-and-effect-really swings my verge.

6. I'm sure there's another point of severe snarkiness, but ruminating about you has kept me up long enough past my bedtime, so I think I'm going to go to sleep now.

Yours Truly,
The Chick in the Ancient Red Nissan

*Random Breaking Syndrome (RBS): the illness which causes vehicle drivers to slam on their brakes without warning and for no discernible reason, seeing as how there are no cars in front of them, much less cars that are braking. The braking of a car in front of you, by the way, is indicated by the glow of two brake lights at the back of the aforementioned car. Or one brake light, if you are in Oklahoma. Or no brake light at all, in which case we move on to the condition of the breaking of the car in front of you, which occurs when you run into said car because it is rapidly decelerating and not bothering to inform you of the fact.

**In this case, "late" would be a condition occurring, for example, when you begin using the entrance ramp for a parking lot.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


FYI, I updated my Froogle Wish List, should you discover, deep within your soul, the burning desire to brighten my corner by spending money on li'l ol' me.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

i wish this story were fictional

At the bottom of this post are the tags "being the church" and "brighten the corner where you are."

This post is about what being the church and brightening your corner isn't.

After the funeral, he spots someone he hasn't seen in years. He greets her, she greets him. He asks several interested questions about her life. So far so good. As she launches into her exposition, two children approach.

They are two children of the deceased. Rightfully so, he interrupts the woman in order to address them. The woman turns with him, and together they express their condolences.

But he doesn't leave it at that. Can't leave it at that. Stepping close to one of the children--a youth in black with pierced ears and a girl on one arm--he puts his hand on the boy's shoulder and tells the grieving one, "Just remember that if you do what the Bible says, this isn't the end. And you'll see him again, if you do what's right."

(The youth nods, and politeness tugs at the corners of his mouth. But in his eyes is the confused rage of a heart that is wholly misunderstood, grieving, yearning for intimacy...but learning once again that to be vulnerable is to find not healing, but rejection. Judgment based on appearances. And so he turns away from the well-wisher's concept of soul-care, thinking that among these self-proclaimed followers of God, there is no safe haven for the likes of him.)

Having executed his Christian duty, the well-wisher then makes for the parking lot and drives away. After embracing the children a final time, the woman turns to look for him. But he is gone. She guesses that the conversation must be over.

Monday, April 21, 2008

in which i don't know whether or not locusts and cicadas are the same thing

I intended to write about this weeks ago but forgot.

A few weeks ago, on a warm spring evening (as opposed to the hot spring evening we are currently experiencing--25 degrees Celsius at 22:00!), Ed and I were sitting in the office with the windows open, doing the kind of nothing that people do in their offices at home on warm spring evenings.

(An aside: I just now sneezed and hit my head on the edge of my laptop. Ow.)

As we sat there, doing nothing, I gradually became aware of a noise. I'd been hearing it for quite some time but hadn't consciously taken note of it. When I finally did begin paying attention to it, I knew immediately what it was: a locust!

Some people find them creepy. Some find them annoying. I find locusts completely fascinating, both in appearance and in lifestyle. ("Lifestyles of the Green and Bug-Eyed!")
As I told Ed on that do-nothing evening of a few weeks ago, the sound of locusts takes me back to childhood summers in Oklahoma, lying awake at night, sweltering in the heat, listening to the locusts as they sang me to sleep.

I've been a lot of places and heard a lot of things, but so far, for me, the sound of locust song is unique to Oklahoma. There's just no other sound like it. And because I associate it with the wonderful, boisterous, adventurous summers of my childhood, it's a sound that is very dear to me. I love walking out into a warm, humid summer evening in Oklahoma and hearing the locusts as they "sing" so loudly, they're almost deafening. Every time I hear them, there's a split second when I'm a kid again.

"Reeeeeeeeeeeeee!" said Ed, imitating the locust. "How would you like it," he asked me, "if your whole purpose in life were to crawl out of the ground in the spring, stretch, look around, and then start making that noise?!"

I laughed.

Oh, and speaking of humid, tonight is definitely the night for that! Earlier, I walked outside, and I could smell the heat and moisture rolling through the air. Like the locust song, this smell is unique to this place. No other place I've been smells quite like this. Germany has its share of humid summers, but they smell different: woodsier somehow, scented with tree mold and green, deep and dark and growing.

Oklahoma humidity smells like earth and rain and wind. It's a wild smell, scented with power barely restrained, occasionally threatening with a hint of ozone. This, too, takes me back to childhood, when storms meant running out into the rain for the sheer joy of getting drenched and seeing the lighting; when climbing water towers didn't seem foolish; when simply everything was possible.

Monday, April 14, 2008

great quote

"I was certain that God had a greater purpose for me, and I prayed every day for Him to reveal it to me. At first I was expecting Him to show me my entire future all at once--maybe with a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder thrown in for good measure. But I came to learn that God never shows us something we aren't ready to understand. Instead, he lets us see what we need to see, when we need to see it. He'll wait until our eyes and hearts are open to Him, and then when we're ready, He will plant our feet on the path that's best for us...but it's up to us to do the walking."

--Immaculée Ilibagiza
"Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust"

book comments 5 (in which i briefly wax political)

Most of my latest reading adventures. I think I'm forgetting a few, but I'm sure those few of you who actually read my book reviews will forgive me. ;o)

"Velocity" by Dean Koontz
--fast-paced, entertaining, good read, kept me on the edge of my seat
--Billy Wiles is the tormented main character, and I just wanted to cuddle him.
--SPOILER: The love of Billy's life is in a coma, and she doesn't wake up before the end of the book, if I recall correctly. This is a little too close to the situation of one of Koontz's other leading men, Odd Thomas, the love of whose life is dead. I'm starting to get a little tired of Koontz Leading Men who don't get to move on emotionally because their girls are either incapacitated or deceased. I'm a girl. I like a little requited romance here and there.
--That said, I still recommend the book. ;o)

"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller
--I will betray my ignorance of classic American literature by admitting that before I picked it up, I thought this was a novel, not a play.
--So it was a faster read than I'd been anticipating. ;o)
--thoroughly enjoyed it, thought it was a great comment on society, both past and present
--saw the movie a few years ago, so had trouble not seeing Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder in my head while reading
--no complaints about Day-Lewis visual; "Last of the Mohicans" is still a favorite
--but I digress
--"Crucible": highly recommend, especially in light of society's continuing penchant for inciting hysteria among the masses; nowadays, this takes place a great deal over email forwards :oP

"Cat O'Nine Tales" by Jeffrey Archer
--picked it up because the author is a British politician telling stories he heard while he was in prison (true!)
--collection of extremely clever short stories with often hilarious criminal punch lines
--fascinating, fun, excellent read
--Archer writes in a style I call "veddy British," and I love it.
--highly recommend

"Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust" by Immaculée Ilibagiza
--Um. Wow. Scary. Heartbreaking. Infuriating. Horrifying.
--I thought after watching "Hotel Rwanda," I had found out as much as I wanted to about the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda. Well, I was wrong, and I'm ashamed of my prior lack of interest. I think everyone needs to read this book. Especially everyone who has a strong opinion about the war in Iraq.

You think political errors have been made in regard to Iraq?

The political errors regarding Rwanda--specifically, the barely-there and very late-in-coming involvement of the world's democratic governments--stand out much more starkly. And are a whole lot more embarrassing. Those people needed the Western world's help *a lot sooner* than any of us gave it. I am embarrassed that we didn't give it.

But Rwanda doesn't have oil.

'Nuff said.

"By the Sword" by Mercedes Lackey
--classic sword-and-sorcery fantasy
--reminded me pleasantly of Andre Norton
--for the most part, fast-paced and action-packed
--got me interested in checking out Lackey's other novels set in this particular universe ("Heralds of Valdemar")
--I had some trouble relating to the heroine, simply because I'm much more of a girl than she is. ;o)
--I did get bored with and skimmed over a lot of the battle tactic and war strategy stuff, especially toward the end of the book. Those parts made me think, "Get on with the story!" The large gaps of time (one spanning ten years!) between chapters and parts were a little distracting
--recommend to anyone who likes "old school" fantasy ;o)

Coming Soon to a Courtney's Blog near you:

(drumroll, please)


"The Golden Compass" trilogy, more correctly known as "His Dark Materials"!!!

Lighting will strike! Run for your life!!!!!!


Friday, April 11, 2008

the worst food in america

Check out this article about how bad restaurant (not fast food!) is for us. It's scary. And scary. And did I mention that it's scary?

According to the writers' research, this is the Worst-For-You Food in America:

Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing
2,900 calories
182 g fat
240 g carbs

"It's the caloric equivalent of eating 14 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, before your dinner arrives. Even if you split this "starter" with 3 friends, you'll have downed a meal's worth of calories."

This isn't food for thought. This is food for your fat cells. This is food to add on to your fat cells.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

more nickelback randomness

So it happened again. I heard a song I liked, Googled it, and found out it was Nickelback again. This is seriously starting to weird me out.

Anyway, this time, it was "Rockstar." The picture the lyrics paint of the celebrity life is painfully vivid and accurate. In spite of the two vulgarities, I still appreciate the song for its truth.

And the sarcasm just really swings my verge.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

my transition meltdown. let me show you it.

I ought to be getting in bed right now. I've actually not been doing half bad about keeping to a regular sleep schedule lately. I'd hate to mess it up just because of a little case of RRRCS. Reverse Reverse Reverse Culture Shock. But as I was about to shut down the taplop, I realized I simply didn't want to go to sleep without blogging about this first.

Don't let the sun go down on your culture shock. Isn't that how the scripture goes?


I've been feeling edgy the last few days. Partially because of hormones--I'll spare you those details. But even if it is hormone-related, that doesn't make the emotions any less valid.

So. Edginess. Still, okay. Then came a couple of phone calls yesterday. Well-meant, and ordinarily not something I'd react to adversely. But I came away from them feeling inadequate, untrustworthy, weak, and foolish (notably, not by the callers' doing). I don't need to say that this did nothing to take the edge off the edge. So I won't say it.

Today, I got an email from our dear friend Elsa, reporting on the latest ETM class that took place last week. And there was a photo, too. Not only that, but there was a meeting over the past weekend for *all* the ETM participants *ever*.

I took one look at that photo, read the first line of Elsa's email, and promptly started bawling.

I should have been there, was what I was thinking. I wanted to be there. Desperately. But I couldn't be there. And I suddenly felt like I was wholly and irrevocably in the wrong place.

Shortly thereafter, I called my parents to talk about something totally unrelated, ended up misunderstanding something Daddy said and getting upset all over again, and then bawling to both him and Mama. Later, Jennifer came for coffee, and I bawled to her. Then Isaac arrived, and I bawled to him, too.

By the time Ed got home, I was all cried out. Besides, just seeing him made me feel better. Later, Jennifer and I went for a walk and a talk, and that helped a lot, too.

I don't *really* think I'm in the wrong place. I'm not *truly* dissatisfied with where I am in life and why and whatnot. That might be how I feel right now, but I know it's not so. The feelings are valid, but they aren't a reflection of reality. They're simply part of the transition process.

So eventually, I'll be okay. Today was just a rough day. I've known for awhile it was coming. But, like the day I cried in Buy-for-Less, I didn't expect it on a particular day. It's impossible to predict what will trigger it.

Tomorrow evening, I'm supposed to substitute teach a Ladies' Class. On personal evangelism. You know, that thing I did fulltime in Chemnitz. That thing I believe is part of the definition of "Christian." I hope I can get through the class. With God's help, I know I can. But only if I let him take care of the transition-emotions. And I'm not sure I'm ready to let go of them and let him, yet.


I don't like this.

I think I might do some painting this week.

That's all. I feel better now. :o)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

i finished chapter 25 today!

...and it's ten pages longer than I expected it to be. Not sure what happened there.

But still, there is much rejoicing!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

ima hogg

Today's featured article on Wikipedia is about a woman named Ima Hogg. I find this highly amusing, because I've heard anecdotes about her for, like, ever, but I never believed she really existed.

So now, having perused the article, I sit amusedly corrected.