Posted in Life, Writings

NaNo 2019

Come the beginning of October, I still had no idea what I was going to write during National Novel Writing Month. This was a problem. I know from experience that if I don’t have some sort of plot in advance, I can write the 50,000 words, but no useful plot happens and then I never want to revisit my work.

When I capslock-shouted about this to my friend GG, she gave me ideas. And managed to spark exactly the inspiration I needed. I’m very grateful. I think she knows that, but it’s worth stating again.

One idea I liked was trying out a TV show sort of format, writing a collection of interconnected short stories, like episodes. Somehow that seemed a whole lot easier to plot in less than a month than a regular novel, so that’s what I have prepared. I’m currently on the third story/episode of out of 13. The goal is to make them all roughly the same length, but to be honest, I don’t think I’m likely to succeed.

The overall story arc is about some people who work for a famous superhero. Said famous superhero is mostly a decent person, but also kind of obliviously doesn’t treat his employees too well. It all gradually draws to a conclusion where everyone has to deal with the big baddie who has been behind more problems than they realized. It should work. I have a spreadsheet.

I entered November way more prepared than I anticipated, considering how late I started planning, and pretty excited. I already liked my story and my characters. And it’s going pretty well. It’s a rough draft. But it’s a rough draft that I feel like I can work with, and I’m enjoying it, even though it’s making me very busy right now. It’s a great improvement on last year.

Some of my favorite prep for projects like this is making a story-related wallpaper for my laptop in hopes of it being inspiring. I’m very pleased with how this year’s turned out. It’s the sort of cool I wanted it to be, but I didn’t quite expect to pull it off.

One of the characters on there is a villain. The famous superhero is not included. That really says a lot about me, this story in particular, and my writing in general.

And the words are from this song, which I picked out as the theme song for my fake TV show.

To anyone reading this who’s doing this crazy thing with me, happy writing, Wrimos!

Posted in Christianity, College, Life

New Class (Singular This Time)

It’s been a long time since I sat through a class and frantically scribbled notes, but I did it last night. Though I was sitting my living room watching a Youtube livestream instead of in a classroom watching a teacher in person.

The West Virginia School of Preaching is testing out offering free online classes for anyone who wants to participate. I heard about the first one a while ago and was somewhat interested, but its schedule put it right on top of NaNoWriMo, so that gave me pause. But I continued to think about it and continued to be interested and finally decided to give it a shot.

The class covers the book of Hebrews. Yesterday was the first session and an introduction on the book’s background. There’s not a lot of homework (thankfully), so it sounds like the workload will be manageable, even alongside writing 50,000 words in November.

I have already learned some things. Hopefully this continues.

Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

It Takes All Kinds – Part 2

“There is so much of God, it takes a whole human race to reflect his image.”

I, like my dad, do not have a temper. We just don’t get angry, not on any sort of regular basis. I hear and read about anger, and I see it, and even the angriest I have ever been is… not that angry. I’m apparently patient by nature.

Yet God’s patience far exceeds mine.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
       slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
– Psalm 103:8

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger;
       for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
       that I may not cut you off.”
– Isaiah 48:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

But you know what else God has? Great anger.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. – Romans 1:18

“Thus says the Lord God: Because the Philistines acted revengefully and took vengeance with malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity, therefore thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the rest of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon them.” – Ezekiel 25:15-17

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” – Revelation 14:9-11

There are things in this world – sin and suffering and torment – that deserve wrath. I cannot give it to them. The best I can work up is some saddened indignation.

But there are people who can. There are people who can be moved to righteous fury and use it as fuel to work to right wrongs. How amazing and important.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to patience and anger. We see it everywhere: extroverts and introverts, quiet people and loud people, people who thrive on endless activity and people who slowly focus on just one thing. And with all sorts of other personality traits.

Of course, in our fallen world, all of these devolve into sin. My patience means putting up with things I shouldn’t ignore. Someone else’s anger means outbursts when they’re not called for. But the sinful aspects don’t mean the traits themselves are not reflections of God’s image.

Perhaps the reason we often struggle to recognize the balance of God’s nature is because that’s not what we see in humans. We don’t see many people with tremendous patience and also terrifying wrath. We don’t see people with equal passions for justice and mercy. We don’t see people who have the ability to run a giant organization while simultaneously having the attention to focus intimately on each small part. So it’s important to look at the whole of humanity to get a more complete picture.

Once again, it takes all kinds.

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
       the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
       and keeps wrath for his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
       and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
– Nahum 1:2-3a

Posted in College, Life

“It Takes All Kinds, I Guess”

In my experience, we use this phrase in a confused, mildly insulting tone to dismiss people with interests we can’t fathom enjoying. But recently, I heard a much better version.

As far as I can remember, it came up in an episode of the Spoken Gospel podcast, but unfortunately, I’m no longer certain of the source. But there was a sentence to the effect of, “There is so much of God, it takes a whole human race to reflect his image.”

No one, finite person has the capacity to care passionately about as many things as our infinite God does. And that’s not a bad thing; it’s how he made us. We each do our part and reflect God in our limited way. But looking at all of humanity, we get a fuller picture of God.

It takes people who love snow and people who love heat.

It takes people who love prairies and people who love mountains.

It takes people who love oceans and people who love deserts.

It takes people who lovingly work in nursing homes and people who dote on children.

It takes people who care for dead bodies and people who bring newborns into the world.

It takes those always full of boundless energy and those who do their tasks slowly.

It takes men and women.

It takes those who heal animals and those who design skyscrapers.

It takes people who close their eyes in delight over the taste of foods from all different cultures.

It takes world travelers and homebodies.

It takes musicians and writers and gardeners and construction workers and preachers and fishermen and fashion designers and firemen and judges and housekeepers and artists and bryologists and hippotherapists and people who care about all the millions and millions of other things there are to care about in this huge, amazing, multifaceted world.

It takes all kinds.

 

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
– Psalm 104:31-32

Posted in Life

For Your Viewing Pleasure

This afternoon at work, a coworker whispered my name and beckoned me over. To be honest, my first thought was, “What drama is happening now?”

Turns out she just wanted to show me elephants eating pumpkins.

It’s pretty cute.

Even if you don’t have time for the whole thing, watching a few minutes of this is worth it. My favorite part is one of them walking around with an entire pumpkin in its mouth.

Posted in Life

Happy Birthday, D! (The Sixth)

My friend D had a birthday yesterday. So close to a Tuesday when it would have been the proper day for this post…
She posts her friends’ funny quotes on her blog on their birthdays, so I have taken to doing the same for her. This year I did not do as well at saving funny quotes as they happened as I have done in previous years, so several of these are probably not in chronological order (sorry, D). Enjoy them anyway.

 

I was like, “They’re gonna think I’m dead. Oh well.”

I know even less about modern music than I do about inebriated people, frankly.

Someone took a bite out of this flower. It wasn’t me.

I am now “I have cried at the mother/son reunion scene in Home Alone” years old.

School started today, so I also started my new procrastination project.

Ten years ago today, I stumbled across the online Narnia forum where I made some of my dearest friends. S/O to Google for being the portal to both tremendous garbage and luminous joy.

About how her parents met: For someone who complains a lot about technology, I forget that I was only born because of it. XD

I always feel like because my name is Dorothy, I’m especially threatened by tornadoes.

I know how pleased my younger self would be to know that strangers on the Internet can appreciate my dreams. XD The family got bored of my recounting them at the breakfast table every day, but maybe it would have gone over better if I had been limited to 280 characters.

I don’t know if I ever told you this story. I’m thinking probably not, since it involves underwear.

Job and Jonah both speak to my drama queen soul.

On shopping for shorts: Fortunately, the boy’s department brought comfort and solace once again to the girls in my family.

I’m not in denial. I just have a unique interpretation.

I will never go into Victoria’s Secret unless someone drags my dead body into the store.

I learned that [Winston Churchill’s mother] came from America on a mission to land a wealthy English husband. Little did she know that the future of the Western world hung in the balance! It’s alarming to realize that the future of Europe hung on her husband-hunting activities.

In other news, I have decided that I’m not paid enough to shelve romance novels.

Only I would look at a total and think, “Really? I only wrote 14k about that social event? That’s lower than I expected.”

Sometimes I feel like I go overboard with being a judgmental history major, but The People Need to Know.

As I was watching RotK, I realized, “Oh, wow. I first learned all of these place names from Monopoly. Tolkien was not planning on that.”

After I bought the dragon, I decided to name him Khalil, since he will be my traveling buddy.

 

For more, see:
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014

Posted in Christianity, Thoughts

I Lift My Eyes

The Psalms of Ascent are a beautiful little group of psalms near the end of the book (120-134). Supposedly they were sung by Jews traveling to Jerusalem, which is on a mountain, hence the ascent part. There are wonderful themes of worship and God’s protection running all through all them, and the more I read them together, the more I see how interconnected they are.

Psalm 120 begins the set talking about how wearisome it is to live among liars and foreigners (which, for the Israelites, was a problem because foreigners served foreign gods) and people who hate peace. Then Psalm 121 starts with some imagery you’ve probably encountered:

I lift my eyes to the mountains:
where is help to come from?

In his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson makes a point about this verse I had never considered. When you looked up at mountains in ancient Israel, what would you see?

Idolatry.

Over and over throughout the Old Testament, centers of worship for false gods are called high places. God condemns them repeatedly, and occasionally someone goes around and knocks some down, but they always pop back up. Even some of the better kings who try to get the nation on the right track don’t destroy the high places.

But when the psalmist looks to the high places and wonders where he can get help, he realizes it’s not from those gods.

Help comes to me from Yahweh,
who made heaven and earth.

Then we get a lovely description of all the help Yahweh provides.

No letting our footsteps slip!
This guard of yours, he does not doze!
The guardian of Israel
does not doze or sleep.

Yahweh guards you, shades you.
With Yahweh at your right hand
sun cannot strike you down by day,
nor moon at night.

Yahweh guards you from harm,
he guards your lives,
he guards you leaving, coming back,
now and for always.

In Psalm 122, the psalmist arrives in Jerusalem and is excited to worship God there with his fellow Israelites. And in Psalm 123, we have some development.

I lift my eyes to you,
to you who have your home in heaven,
eyes like the eyes of slaves
fixed on their master’s hand;

like the eyes of a slave girl
fixed on the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes are fixed on Yahweh our God,
for him to take pity on us;

pity us, Yahweh, take pity on us,
we have had more than our share of scorn,
more than our share
of jeers from the complacent,
of scorn from the proud.

No looking around at the mountains to see all the false gods with their high places and wondering who to ask for help. This time we look straight to Yahweh – and with laser focus.

As it should be.