Posted in Christianity

Have a Poem

Not a poem by me. It’s by Willie Mullan. I don’t know if it has a name. It came up in the On This Day app on Facebook as something I once shared, and I think it sums up the concept rather well.

 

God manifest in flesh, oh wonder to behold!
Creative power within the breast that felt the blast of cold.
God in our likeness made, oh may we understand
The One who made the wondering worlds appear as lowly man!
He stood within the realm He fashioned with a thought;
His creatures gazed upon Him; alas they knew Him not,
They cried out for His blood, His claims cast down as dross,
They spat upon His princely face, then nailed Him to a cross.
BUT He made the tree for that cross of wood,
He made the hill on which it stood,
And in some hidden vein of land
He made the steel that pierced each hand;
He made the sun which hid its face;
He made the fathers of that race
Who, in their hatred knew Him not.
He made the fiends with which He fought,
And there, in death, He made a way
Back to Himself
Eternally.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Another NaNoWriMo

I’m cheating this year. I’m not writing a brand new novel for National Novel Writing Month. I’m editing an old one.

I feel kind of weird doing it. Especially because it’s going a lot faster than writing from scratch, so I’m already halfway to the word count goal for the month. But I decided that overall it would be much more productive to use the month to make myself work on the older project than to try to start something new.

And I think I’m going to be able to finish the editing by the end of the month. Possibly before.

………. This is really, really short. I thought it would be longer. But it seems to be all I have to say on the subject. So. Sorry.

Here, this’ll lengthen it a bit. Enjoy this accurate description of writing.

Posted in Life

Happy Halloween!

Here’s the thing.

It’s after 9:30.

I have no creative post ideas.

I want to read my book or watch a movie or do something that’s not staring at a blank blog post for another two hours wondering what to do with it.

So have a Halloween-related Studio C video, and then we can all move on with our lives.

Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Slow Down

“I’ve got to go to work.”
“On no account. You need rest.”
“It’s the planning meeting, it’s important.”
“You’re important.”
– From the 
Doctor Who episode “The Lodger”

I do not like commercials for cold and flu medicine. They all seem to say basically the same thing: “Don’t let anything slow you down! Take this medicine so you can keep doing everything you always do even though you’re sick!”

First of all, I don’t care what they’re selling, when I’m sick, no medicine ever makes me feel as good as the commercials suggest. But even more than that, the “Don’t let anything slow you down!” message bothers me.

When you’re sick, your body is already working hard to fight off the germs. Which takes up energy you normally use for other things. So, you know, if you try to do all those other things, too… It doesn’t work out well.

I’m not sure what it is that makes humans want to go, go, go, even when their bodies want to rest, rest, rest. Maybe it’s a subconscious desire to believe that the world needs us. Maybe it’s fear of boredom. Maybe it’s a culture that equates value with productivity. Maybe some combination of lots of different factors, depending on the person.

But when you are sick, it really is okay to slow down. Not just okay; important. Resting when you genuinely need to is not laziness. The world will continue spinning if you call in sick to work, or if the laundry has to wait an extra day, or if you take a nap instead of reading. And it’s okay that the world continues spinning while you rest.

And I think that God sometimes uses illness to remind us to slow down. I’m certainly not going to tell someone with the flu, “Oh, God made you get sick so you would slow down.” I don’t have that kind of knowledge. Notice that my first statement didn’t even say, “I think sometimes God makes us get sick to remind us to slow down.” But it might be something to consider.

One of the best things that happened to me in college is that I had a cold during my first finals week. I had to just do some studying with the limited energy I had, show up for my tests and do what I could, and let that be enough. And lo and behold, things turned out fine. Which gave me proof that I did not have to stress about finals week to do well. It was great.

(You know, I think this blog post was much better constructed in my head. It seemed like it would flow so nicely, but it’s not working so well now that I’m trying to type it out. Oh, well. We’ll jump to the conclusion then.)

So. If you’re sick, slow down. Please. The planning meeting is important. But so are you.

Posted in Christianity, Life, Thoughts

Generating Community

I follow a few pages on Facebook that post clean, funny pictures. I’d say my favorite is probably Debi Downer (and yes, the funny part applies despite the name).

Recently, the admin of the page posted this:

I did not see the picture in question. But all the comments on this post were along the lines of, “I appreciate your clean content!” “We all make mistakes; don’t worry about it.” “You’re the best!” And I have seen this sort of thing happen on this page before. Infrequently. But always handled with the same grace and tact. I scrolled away from this post appreciating this small, pleasant, safe corner of the internet and wanting to remain part of it.

I’ve also seen the same situation happen on another, similar page, which I don’t think I shall name because that doesn’t seem necessary. But that admin’s response was always something like, “Excuse me for accidentally posting something inappropriate! Haven’t you ever made a mistake? I’m busy and can’t catch everything. Go ahead and unfollow me if you want to. No skin off my nose!” This is not a direct quote. It’s been way too long to attempt to find one. But you get the gist. And I’m sure you can imagine that this did not produce the same sort of pleasant conversations.

I never actually unfollowed that page. But I did slowly stop interacting with it, and I don’t see much from it now. When I scroll past a picture that makes me laugh and I notice that it’s from that page, I go, “Eh, I don’t think I’ll hit the like button.” I don’t really want to be a part of that community.

It fascinates me how in the exact same situation, one person’s decision to be consistently humble and pleasant or consistently bitter and annoyed completely shapes the sort of community that develops around them. Because while individual people may be pleasant or bitter no matter what situation you put them in, as a group, people tend to follow the lead of the person who initiates the tone of the group’s emotions.

What sort of community would you rather encourage in your life?

Posted in Life, Thoughts

On Buying Clothes and Feeling Beautiful

I’m no fashion expert. But I’ve watched a lot of What Not to Wear and I’ve worn a lot of clothes, so there you have my qualifications.

I like shirts shaped like this. In theory. I pull them off the rack at the store and go, “Ooh, it’s pretty!” But I’ve stopped doing anything more with them because I know from experience that when I try them on and look in the dressing room mirror, the thought changes to, “Ugh, that looks AWFUL!” This shape and my shape just do not mix well.

That’s not a problem in and of itself. But, “That looks awful,” easily translates to, “I look awful,”  and that thought repeated over and over consistently becomes the belief, “I am inherently awful-looking.” And that’s just depressing; no one wants to live like that.

So I could buy the shirt I think is pretty in theory and go around feeling frumpy and thinking I’m the problem. Or I could put it back on the rack, move on, and maybe find something like…

… this.

This is a shirt I actually own, and it’s one of my two current favorites. When I’m wearing it and catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror at work, I almost always go, “Hey, I look GOOD!” and it makes me smile and brightens the day a bit.

What changed? Not my shape. Not attempts to tell myself something I don’t really believe. Just my choice of shirt. That’s all.

Clothes that look beautiful on other people or on the rack might look genuinely awful on you. That’s not a problem, it’s just a fact. It only becomes a problem when you sigh and resign yourself to wearing them anyway because you think they should look beautiful.

Stop. Put it back. Find something else. There’s another shirt out there that will be better. And maybe you can’t see this for yourself, maybe you need to do some research or recruit a friend who can tell you, “Yes, this is good, see how this one shows that you have a waist instead of making it look like you’re wearing a tent, and this color complements your skin tone.” But there are options that can make you think, “I look good!”

And guess what? “I look good,” repeated over and over consistently, can at least encourage the belief, “I am inherently good-looking.” And that’s a much happier way to live.

Posted in Christianity, Life

More Great Books I’ve Read This Year

Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?: And Other Questions Single Girls Ask by Cindy Johnson
I don’t read many books or articles about being single. Most of them seem to sound pretty much the same: “Just be content! If you’re meant to get married, it will happen! Your relationship with God is more important!” Which just makes me want to say, “I already KNOW all that! You’re no help whatsoever!” But Cindy Johnson acknowledged, “This being single long after you wanted to be married thing? Yeah, sometimes it really, really hurts. And it’s okay to let yourself hurt.” She didn’t encourage wallowing in that feeling forever. She still pointed out that contentment is the goal and that life can be great when you’re single and that your relationship with God is more important. But her way of going about it was much more encouraging than most of what I’ve read on the topic. This quote is especially important: “Please be careful not to imply that we should be content with God either. All we take away is that in addition to being single, we are also doing a terrible job following Jesus. There is room in the Christian life to be sad. There is room to be frustrated. We are often so quick to rush people into being okay that we make them feel it’s wrong to be anything short of content.”

John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
This is a picture book and a biography. The title seems pretty self-explanatory. The illustrations are beautiful. My friend D posted a glowing review of it on Goodreads, and I had to get it from the library. My hold arrived while I was at work one day, and I read the whole thing during a break, but I still felt the need to take it home that night. Then D gave me a copy as an early Christmas present, and I was pleased to add this lovely book to my personal collection.

Edward Unready for School by Rosemary Wells
Another picture book. Edward is a small bear who’s old enough to go to… Preschool? Kindergarten? I’m not sure. I’d say either works. Anyway. The first day, he’s quite nervous and intimidated, but he goes. And he keeps going. But it doesn’t get better. He doesn’t warm up to the whole experience in the slightest. After enough time has passed to be sure that this was not simply first day jitters, Edward’s parents are brave enough to decide, “Edward is not ready for school. We will try again next year.” This is so important and so rarely acknowledged.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God by Eugene H. Peterson
This is a collection of sermons given by the man who translated the Message Bible. I didn’t know what to expect from this one. I only picked it up because the concept piqued my curiosity. But I loved it. There’s a whole section in the photo gallery on my phone that’s pictures of pages from this book because there were things I wanted to have a chance to revisit that were too long to easily write down. Eugene Peterson definitely has a way with words. I ended up glad I gave this book a chance.

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
I just finished this one yesterday, for the third time, actually. It’s a book I get random urges to reread. The main character, Giannine, is playing a virtual reality game when some protesters break into the gaming facility and damage the equipment. The result is that the only way for Giannine to get out of the game is to win, and she doesn’t have much time to do it before the damaged equipment could cause permanent damage to her. Unfortunately, she’s not an expert gamer, and this is the sort of game with multiple ways to win. So she tries again, and again, and again – and again. And while all that repetition could become incredibly boring, the author keeps it interesting. And it’s fun to see how the video game characters react differently to Giannine’s different decisions, especially as someone who likes to play, “But what if this happened instead?” with my own characters. This book is technically the second in a series, but the books are connected because they all involve the same virtual reality game company; they’re individual stories that don’t need the others to make sense. I’ve read all of them, and I think this one is by far the best.

 

(To see March’s post about books, click here.)