Monday, March 30, 2009

telling it like it is--a side effect of mission work

Frankly, when you do mission work, a lot of people put you up on a pedestal, and that's a really bad place to be.

Because it's easy to fall off.

I'm not going to go into the every-Christian-is-by-definition-a-missionary, because that is another story and shall be told another time. My point for this particular blopgost is that many people (1) seem to think that only a "special few" have what it takes to tell others about Jesus in a "foreign" (also a topic for another time) country; (2) these same people make a big fuss over those who tell others about Jesus in a foreign country; and (3) these same people continue to put the "missionaries" up on a pedestal even 1.4 years after said "missionaries" are no longer working in a foreign country.

Please note that I am not trying to mock anyone or infuse my post with contempt for the well-intentioned folks who "fuss" over me.

I just wish there were a brief yet polite way to communicate that...

..."I'm proud of you" is not a phrase that makes me feel good.
I am not the one who did the work--*God* did it--so there's no reason for me to be proud. The other person is not the one who did the work--so why should they be proud? I am glad I did the work; I wouldn't trade my time as a "missionary" for anything; I am pleased that God used me to encourage others. But pride is a dangerous thing for me, and I'd like to avoid even the appearance of it, even if it's well-meant.

...I appreciate the encouragement, but I do not want to be elevated in anyone's eyes.
The pedestal thing really doesn't work for me. Actually, it scares me--because pedestals are high; and I've been up there before; and I have liked it; and I have fallen. I really don't want to be up there again and face the possibility of liking the lofty heights again. There's only one way off, and it's fast, and it really hurts when you hit the bottom.'s an honor for people to be in the presence of God.
It is not an honor for people to be in the presence of me. I am no different, no better, no higher, no purer, nor more admirable than any other human being. Save the honor and the praise for God, because he is the only one who has done something to deserve it. He is the only one who *is* something to deserve it.

...I love to feel appreciated, and I love to hear that I'm appreciated.
Encourage me, yes. Be my friend, yes. Tell me you love me, yes. Ask me for my stories, yes. That is the way to let me know that I have encouraged you, that I mean something to you. But don't feed my ego. It's big enough already.

What is the way to say this in ten words or fewer? :o) I try really hard to give credit where it's due (--> GOD), but it's hard to find the right words without hurting the feelings of the well-intentioned. And I just don't want to hurt anybody. I've done enough of that, too.

*sigh* Life is hard, and then you do the potato wave.

I don't know exactly what that means, but I think it's the truth. ;o)

Friday, March 27, 2009

a few items of randomness

I have really been enjoying getting books from the library.

Also, I like to read them.

I think this is positively lovely. It's nice to know that there's a guy out there who just wants to make a girl's day go better. To that anonymous gentleman: You know a lot about women. Don't forget. :o)

Yesterday, I got to witness the power of prayer working in the life of a 6-year-old girl suffering from cherubism. A scheduled 6-hour surgery that only took an hour-and-a-half, and she got to go home today. God is good.

Our TV is broken, and we haven't gotten to watch this week's episode of Lost yet. I am in mourning.

I plan to factor the purchase of the "Twilight" DVD into our budget for April, and I plan to purchase said DVD on April 1st--no fooling.

Today, I heard two fish stories--one big, one little--and they both made me laugh.

Today, I remembered that Jim Carrey is the reason I didn't like "Batman Forever." I have enjoyed Carrey's performances in (a couple of) other films, but his "Riddler" in BF is just tasteless.

Christian Bale is my favorite Batman, hands down.

I miss seeing Chris O'Donnell in movies.

I really don't care what any radio dj looks like without his glasses.

It was a blast to spend the afternoon of Janine's birthday with her. I miss my Saxony friends.

I would like to live somewhere with a yearlong temperature between 68 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If either my brain or my consciousness were somehow transplanted/transferred into a man's body, I don't think I'd be able to walk.

Hey, Germans: Do any of you remember "Knuffelbunte"? I had a pink one when I was a kid.

I started a painting in January, and I haven't finished it.

People have been asking me lately if I have lost weight, and I have answered "yes," and I have liked it.

I'm going to stop writing this and go to bed now.

Friday, March 20, 2009

my first ever post about a professional sport

Ed and I went to tonight's Thunder game. This was only the second time I've ever been to a professional basketball game, and I have to say that the first game a few months ago was more enjoyable than the second. Tonight, the refs stopped the game so often, it was as though somebody had a big remote control somewhere and kept hitting "pause." :oP But Jennifer, Andy, and Joel were there, so we made up in silly fun-ness for what the game lacked in continuous excitement. ;o) And I really enjoyed the extreme dunking guys during halftime!

On the way back our cars after the game, Jennifer and I spotted something funny-odd. In the sidewalk were two rectangular metal plates, about the size of a regular sheet of paper. Embossed on both plates was the following:



Quoi? How could anybody trespass beneath the sidewalk? The plates weren't really large enough to allow access to any adult human with a pelvis and collar bones. And "eclipse blow-off"? I'm assuming it's not a "Twilight" reference. ;o) Do the plates blow off the sidewalk if there's an eclipse? Are we supposed to blow off the eclipse if one happens?

I'm having visions of little metal plates all over the city, exploding into the air at the first sign of the moon's edging over into the sun's territory.

This world is not short on oddities.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

changing my blog template

Greetings all,

I have decided to change my blog template. I've found several options that I like, but I'm having trouble choosing between them. If you're inclined to help me out, please check out the templates below and tell me which one you think would suit me best. I'll probably give this another week before I make a final decision.


Template options:

Dream Light
The Hobbit
Going Home (This one is on a different site than the others, and the sample template is smaller.)

why i'll always love fiction...

...both reading it and writing it:

"Ultimately, conflict is the reason we read novels. It forces characters to make decisions, it tests their strengths and weaknesses, it reveals what makes people tick. Conflict, ultimately is revealing.

"A man serenely walking down the street is not a story. It only becomes a story when he is captured by space monkeys who try to force him to root for Duke. Now that's conflict."

--Nathan Bransford,
literary agent

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

faith and fixing things

This evening, in a group discussion, we talked about the definition of faith and what role faith plays in relationships. Here are some thoughts this discussion inspired in me:

As some of you know, I am, by nature/nurture, a "fixer" of things. I see something broken, I want to fix it. I see a problem, I want to solve it. I see another person's dilemma, I want to resolve it. My instinctive reaction is, "Oooh! A challenge! Let's stop talking about it and DO something about it!"

It is very frustrating and discouraging to others when I react this way.

They don't want me to fix it.
They just want me to listen.
They just want me to feel with them.

This has been a very difficult lesson for me to learn. In the course of learning this lesson, I hurt people who were close to me. I did some severe damage to some very important relationships, relationships that are still recovering from my immaturity. And my arrogance.

I fight against this natural/nurtural tendency to try to fix everything. I still have to squelch that initial, overeager, overbearing reaction--and I will probably have to exercise that rigid self-control for the rest of my life. But I am *learning*. I am growing. And that's the point.

Here's my definition of how faith should affect my relationships:

Faith is acting on the knowledge that when someone opens up to me, it is not my job to "fix" that person. It is not my job to fix that person's problem. It is not my job to worry and nitpick over how/when that person is ever going to change.

It is not my job to offer a solution. Why not? --> Because any solution I offer is a solution based on *my* experiences, *my* vision, *my* thought patterns, *my* emotions. The solution that I consider so clear and so right might be completely wrong if applied to the other person's life.

Faith is acting on the knowledge that God has a plan for the other person. Faith is acting on the knowledge that God has a "time schedule" for the other person, and that is *not* the time schedule that *I* would set. And this is The Way It Should Be.

My job is to make myself vulnerable and submissive to God's-will / God's-precepts / the-relationship-laws-God-has-set-up-for-his-universe.
My job is to let that will / those precepts/laws change me from the inside out.
My job is to ask questions in order to help others figure out what their worldview really is.
My job is to help others get to know who the Being is who set those precepts/laws in motion. The other humans' reaction to that Being is entirely up to them.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a young existentialist, sort of

This poor, dentist-drugged kid is asking the questions that plague most of us at some point in our lives:

Is this real life?

Why is this happening to me?

Is this gonna be forEVER?

I don't know if this video is funny or sad, but you can see it here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

book comments 14

“The Willoughbys” by Lois Lowry
A Novel
Nefariously Written & Ignominiously Illustrated by the Author

That “nefariously” line isn’t actually part of the title, but it’s printed on the front of the book, and I love it.
I liked everything about this book.
--story of the four Willoughby children who decide they would make good orphans and must therefore get rid of their parents
--funny, witty, sarcastic, morbid, parodying multiple conventions of children’s literature
--Lowry’s newest novel, and she does not disappoint
--highly recommend to anyone who enjoys children’s lit, satire, humor, or just plain good stories
Note: Lowry describes herself as “a wizened, reclusive old woman who sits hunched over her desk thinking obsessively about the placement of commas.” I adore her for this. That’s going to be me someday, you just watch. ;o)

“The Night Angel Trilogy 1: The Way of Shadows” by Brent Weeks
--story of Azoth, a street kid trying to get out of the horrible life he was born into
--fantasy story of betrayal, hardship, least-of-multiple-evils choices, love, faith, forgiveness, redemption
--gritty and dark
--one theme is child abuse, and there is some vulgar language --> caveat emptor; kids and young teens shouldn’t read this
--compelling characters (especially main characters!), nonstop action --> left me breathless, unable to put the book down
I’ll definitely read the second novel in the trilogy.
--recommend to fantasy fans and anyone interested in aforementioned themes

“Nights in Rodanthe” by Nicholas Sparks
--story of middle-aged mom Adrienne, looking back on the time she unexpectedly found love and figured herself out
As Sparks novels go, this one was somewhat disappointing; definitely not on the level of “Notebook,” “Wedding,” and “Walk to Remember.” I checked it out to see if reading it would make me want to see the movie.
It didn't make me want to see the movie. (I might see the movie anyway, but only because of Diane Lane.)
--characters were well-developed but lacked vibrancy
--did not suck me in; I never really got emotionally involved with anyone in the story
--possible exception was Adrienne’s daughter, but she was a minor character
--use of big coastal storm to symbolize peak of action seemed cliché to me
Celia asked me how I enjoyed it, and my honest response was, “Meh.”
Unconditional Sparks fans will like this one, but I neither recommend nor disrecommend it. ;o)

“Winter Moon”
Collection of three fantasy novellas

“Moontide” by Mercedes Lackey

--story of Moira, trying to foil her father’s plot against the king
--sounds classic fairy-tale
--heroine's training as a magic-wielding assassin adds quite the twist ;o)
--strong, vivid characters; well-developed, fast-moving plot
--loved how Kedric reacts when Moira goes off to fight Massid
As expected, this novella is yet more proof that Lackey is a master.

“The Heart of the Moon” by Tanith Lee
First of all, this lady has a terrific first name.
Also, she writes really well. ;o)
--story of Clirando, seeking inner peace after getting her best friend banished
--loss, betrayal, consequences of choices, love, redemption
--fascinating cultural ideas about the moon and spiritual life
--great world-building, well-developed characters, lovely surprise ending

“Banshee Cries” by C.E. Murphy
I’d never heard of Murphy, so I didn’t know what to expect.
I was definitely *not* disappointed.
--story of Joanne (aka Joanie, aka Siobhan), a cop with magical “shaman” powers, trying to solve a case of ritualistic murders in Seattle
--very strong, clear characters
--main character is especially vivid, full of great contradictions and inner conflict
--confusing to me at times, because of the mix of Native American “magic” and Celtic “magic”
--but the reconciling of the two cultures was interesting
Murphy sucked me in with the very first line: “Cell phones are the most detestable objects on the face of the earth.” ;o)

I don’t get into novellas as much as I do novels, for the obvious reason that they’re shorter, and some of the story- and character-developments are truncated. That's why these three get plain “recommend”s instead of “highly”s. ;o) But I did enjoy all three, and I think any fantasy fan would get a kick out of them. Lackey’s and Lee’s are more standard sword-and-sorcery stuff, and Murphy’s adds an interesting present-day-our-world contrast.

2009 Book Count To-Date: 12