30 March 2007

Better one or better two?

Two picture posts in one day! Where's the inhaler? Okay, so back to website/blog ideas. I love these two purses, so I'm turning to them for inspiration. I love the red and pattern of the first one, but I'm worried it might be too busy (by the way, ignore the countertop stains from last night's dinner, thank you).

I'm leaning toward this one: works in the orange, fun, but more earthy.

What do you guys think?

Picture Perfect

Okay, so how often do I post pictures? Usually, I'm too lazy, so savor the moment. I went to the Dallas Arboretum for their Spring Blooms with a writer, Jeanne (who is an amazing writer - her posts at The Master's Artist often lead me to both prayer and laughter - and an even more amazing person). So here are some of my fave pics:

I love reds and oranges. They make me want to dance.

Did I mention that I love oranges?

This tree tells stories of lauging children and lovers and love lost and death and fairies.

Okay, so this one is actually my daffodils from my backyard. I'm so proud. The tulips are in front. I was too lazy to walk around.
And now I know why I don't do more pics. This was a nightmare!!!

28 March 2007

All the science in the world

"Danger, Will Robinson" post!
Not too long ago, my husband and I watched one of the shows in the series, The Hawking Paradox, based on the scientific discoveries of – three guesses – Stephen Hawking. So for the past, I don’t know, 30, 40 yrs, he’s been studying black holes as part of his research on the big bang theory. (Caveat: I’m no physicist. I don’t claim to be. What I’m writing is an example of Western culture, so bare – or is it bear? – with me while I attempt to explain something over my head.) At some point, Hawking looked at the evidence and said that the matter (or information, as this show termed it) being sucked into the black hole doesn’t just compact more and more to some crazy density, but when the black hole disappears (if I remember correctly, he observed the disappearance of black holes – not that he ever saw the black holes themselves, but a black spot that scientists assume are black holes, so I guess observing the disappearance of a black hole would be to re-see matter, see something where the black spot was – oy vey), so when the black hole disappears, so does the matter.
What! the other scientists exclaimed. That goes against one of Newton’s laws (the one that says that matter doesn’t disappear, nor does it appear, everything is here – I’m wording that terribly, but as I said, not the scientist, and I think you guys all recognize the law I’m trying to describe, albeit pitifully). Proofs and more proofs crowded chalkboards and composition notebooks everywhere. (Anyone see that play, Proof ? Excellent play.) And you can imagine the implications – if there are black holes in the universe being sucked away, how long until everything is sucked away. And if there are black holes in the universe, then there are black holes in our own brains sucking away our memory (yes, I can see you all falling back on that one as an excuse – sounds like a Calvin excuse for not finishing his test). Then Hawking stands on the stage of some major convention (last minute, of course, and everyone makes way). I’ve found the answer! You see, he says, there are black holes and they disappear and take away this matter (or information or energy), but it’s okay because there are parallel universes, so it’s all good. Even Stephen. The media went wild, and the physicists thought Hawking had one too many knocks to the head.
Now here’s my point with all of this. A few years ago, I read C.S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image (highly recommend it for any of you who enjoy the study of culture). As we all know, Lewis’ specialty at Oxford was Medieval and Renaissance literature. This is his text book of sorts. I love studying other cultures, especially the medieval and its transition to modern and enlightenment, because it helps me better understand the culture we’ve been in and the transition we’ve been experiencing. The best part of TDI was the epilogue in which Lewis says that he doesn’t mean to highlight the Medieval Model (Lewis uses the term Model where we would use culture or worldview) as the epitome of mankind. He doesn’t think we should go back to it. He thinks Models/cultures shift, and that’s okay.
But let me get to my point with this post (the crowd cheers).
Here’s what Lewis says about how science fits into all of the model-shifting:

“The demand for a developing word—a demand obviously in harmony both with the
revolutionary and the romantic temper—grows up first; when it is full grown the
scientists go to work and discover the evidence on which our belief in that sort
of universe would now be held to rest. There is no question here of the old
Model’s being shattered by the inrush of new phenomena. The truth would seem to
be the reverse; that when changes in the human mind produce a sufficient
disrelish of the old Model and a sufficient hankering for some new one,
phenomena to support that new one will obediently turn up. I do not at all mean
that these new phenomena are illusory. Nature has all sorts of phenomena in
stock and can suit many different tastes” (p. 221).

In other words, there’s enough science in the world to prove anything, and the science now is shifting to suit the next paradigm, just as it shifted to support the modern paradigm. We’re not always improving, as Modernism claimed. We’re just always changing. And now we have alternate universes, possibilities of life on other planets, and What the Bleep? to sustain our chosen path.
In missions, I repeated this mantra: It’s not wrong, it’s just different.

26 March 2007

Thinking Outloud

I'm redesigning me. I do some speaking, a retreat here, a small group there, a special event thrown in for good luck, and I love it. So I'm hoping to take this thing to the next level, which means a website. Not just a blog, but a real Pinnochio website with no strings. This website has to reflect me in all my glory. Here's how I see me (through rose colored glasses): whimsical, creative, yet professional, intelligent (or at least educated), contemplative, challenging, compassionate, fun (can I add health-conscious even though I've been getting into this horrible habit of eating ice cream every night? hey - no hydrogenated oils!). Okay, okay, so maybe that's more how I'd like to see me, how I would like others to see me.
I love green and orange and bold red and deep purple. My husband doesn't think the green and orange all that professional. What to do, what to do? I have a wonderful (and extremely talented) friend who is going to do some graphic arts for me for my up-and-coming website as well as for this blog (look for fun changes ahead!). What do I tell her? How can she embody me in one symbol (not symbol as in artist-formerly-known-as)? Any suggestions?
Here's what I like: books (huh, there's a surprise), theology (which includes study of Bible, study of history, and study of culture), anything tropical, beaches, music (Broadway, classical and jazz mostly), seeking to live an incarnational life. Now put this together to say: you want to hear me speak (and hopefully someday, you want to buy my books).
Here are some topics I've spoken on in the past: Ministering in today's world (ministering in an iPod world), Abraham and Sarah, Incarnational ministry (caring for the outcasts), Arts and theology, Women of the Bible - Mentors from the Text (in part or whole, looking at women such as Ruth and Naomi, Sarah and Hagar, Eve, Mary mother of Jesus, Miriam - not in chronological order here).
So, no, you didn't really need to be here for all of that. Just thinking outloud.
Isn't it sad that I started this post with a claim to redesigning me as if I'm going through some intrinsic, deep, philosophical, life-changing transformation and then talk strictly about website stuff? (Notice the tongue-in-cheek.)

22 March 2007

Yay, Angie!

Fellow Misfit Writer has a story up at Infuze, a great story at that - A Stone's Throw. It would behoove you to check it out.

21 March 2007

Review – Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk

This book shares the same loose premise as Quaker Summer, namely that of the typical suburban housewife and mother disenchanted with life. However, while Samson’s character retains loving relationships with her husband and son and authenticity with friends, Cusk’s women are estranged from their families and friends because of hypocrisy, deprivation, and selfishness. This set of women feel entrapped by their husbands, kids, and their own desires to keep up appearances.
The book opens with a rain storm. This rain does not nourish but oppresses, and its tyrannical drops reach every aspect of life in Arlington Park. Funny, I just began Bleak House yesterday, and Rachel Cusk’s opening reminds me of that.
Set across the spread of one day, Cusk portrays five women, Juliet, who considers her husband a murderer because of her stripped dreams, Amanda, who obsessively tries to maintain an order and cleanliness that pushes away any relationships and she hopes will push away the mess of death, Maisie, who fears that a move to the suburbs from London will squelch compassion, beauty, and passion, taking her back her an unloving childhood, Solly, who’s pregnancy has stolen her femininity, and Christine, who vacillates between being proud of achieving the ranking of the posh Arlington status (much removed from her childhood of fish and chips) but detests the hypocrisy of it all. All the women resent their husbands for the lives the men lead and the lives the men have forced the women to lead, and they fluctuate between a clinging love of their children and begrudging them for sucking out their lives. In the end, the author’s answer seems to be acceptance. Choose to enjoy life. Maybe it was supposed to be one of those ironical endings, these women trapped have no other choice sort of thing, but I preferred Samson’s ending of transcendence through becoming more human. Cusk embodied my worst fear. Not about the husbands – my husband is too loving for any of that nonsense – but the whole suburban thing and even some of my fears about having kids, so this novel was powerful for me.

20 March 2007

Who knows?

Gritty and snarky – what’s up with these two words? I can’t get away from them. TV reviews and writing standards and passé terms. Is it a fad? We all want to be gritty and snarky like we’re a bunch of comics on a reality show.
That’s about all I’ve got today, folks. I had more, but I forgot between walking in the door from my morning flute lessons and sitting at the computer. C’est la vie. Que sera, sera.
So some filler: I haven’t started Bleak House, yet, but I will. Had some audible/iPod problems. Reading Arlington Park, which is expanding my vocabulary. I’m not ashamed to tell you that. I don’t know every single word in the English language. Of course, I’m telling myself it’s because Rachel Cusk is a British author and they use different words than we do and it is definitely not because of any delinquency on my part. Uh-huh.
Anyone need piano lessons in the north Dallas/Richardson/Plano area? I’m full up on flute, but I have openings for piano.
Update: Began Bleak House yesterday - loving it thus far. Laughed aloud at the tongue-and-cheek descriptions while running .

16 March 2007

Baby Keira

Some very dear friends of ours have an 11 mo. old little girl (whose new cutest thing is waving hello and goodbye) with lung cancer. If you are the praying type, please say a prayer for this precious girl and her parents. For updates, you can go to http://keirabo.blogspot.com/.

Books & Running

I’ve started listening to audio books while I’m running. Let me tell you, this is one of the better decisions I’ve made. Not only do I get more “reading” in, but I’m motivated to get those sneakers on. Once I start running, I enjoy it, but getting out the door is sometimes like hacking through the thorny vines to get to Sleeping Beauty. But knowing I have a story to listen to, I have my shoes tied before you can say “on your mark.” Here’s the catch: I only let myself listen to the book while I’m running or doing a little Pilates and stretching at the end. No other time. (Okay, just one more Pilates exercise…) Over the past two weeks, I listened to Tiger Lillie. Maybe because I was into the book over a longer period of time (coupled with Lisa Samson’s amazing characterization), I am now going through Lillie withdrawal. I almost cried yesterday when the voice on my iPod said, “The end.” (And let me tell you, crying and running do not go together.)
Today I’ll start Dickens’ Bleak House. We’ll see how conducive this one is to running. But who doesn’t love Charles’ characters?

15 March 2007

The Constant Gardener

Chris has whipped out his green marker and is doing his best to color my thumb. Okay, so it's a washable marker and it may take a while for this thing to stick, but we color on.
This past weekend, Chris and I planted strawberries, a couple different types of tomatoes, basil, and aloe vera. (And my daffodils are budding! Hopefully my tulips will follow suit.) Oh, and I planted a cutting from what I think is a rose bush, if I remember correctly.
Sigh. I feel so at-one with nature.
I love gardens and flowers. I could live at an arboretum. Chris and I camp several times a year (although we do the drive to the camp-site, not backpack in 3 miles), and I love spending those weekends seeing how great God is because of all this wonderfulness that He put around us.
In short, I love nature (except for snakes, of course, but that's a biblical hatred - hey, if it weren't for snakes, perhaps there would be no evil in this world).
I'm new to this gardening thing, but I'm liking it. I like feeling like nature and I are working together to glorify God.

13 March 2007

Newsflash! Read all about it!

I entered the "First Chapters" competition at Gather.com with my novel, Following Breadcrumbs. Being very democratic people, the first two rounds are chosen by the readers' votes and comments. I would love to tell you to go and give me a ten! (with a flick of my pom-poms) Tell me how wonderful the first chapter of my book is! But, alas, even more than winning, I want to become a better writer. (Dare I hope to someday be a great writer?) So I want honest feedback (gulp). If you have time, please register at Gather.com here (registration is free), and then read the first chapter to my novel here.
Signing out.

Reading, Writing, and 'Rythmatic

I lied. No arythmatic.

First off, Chris. I’ve been waiting for Infuze magazine to announce their winners. They haven’t, but it looks like (I hope I’m not doing anything bad here) that my friend Chris (not my husband Chris, for clarification), a fellow Misfit Writer (our critique group) won 2nd place in an Infuze contest. You can read his poem here.

Second off, Mir. She won a short story contest at The Sword Review. Now, I have to admit, except for a sprinkle of L’Engle here and a dash of Narnia there, I didn’t grow up Sci-Fi and Fantasy Free, but so many of my writer friends have opened my eyes to the fun in it. That and my hubby loves to watch Star Trek Enterprise. Don’t tell him I admitted this, but it’s not so bad, although I'm not to the point where I would watch it without him, and I can still leave mid-show without worrying about what happens. But back to Mir, you can read her story here.

And finally, Ulysses. Oy vey. At page 238, and only 1/3 of the way through, I’m putting it down, whether for permanently or temporarily, I don’t know. I’ve learned several lessons: writing how people think (stream of consciousness), connecting threads (connecting people by the little things going around town, like the sandwich board men or the same beggar), the everyman, everyday story of The Odyssey (like seeing the sacraments in daily life), and some other things I can’t remember now (some learning!).
So this weekend I read Life of Pi. Loved it. Great story, great metaphors for life, and great philosophy. If you haven’t read it (although I think I’m the last on the chain to read this), I recommend it. Today I'm picking up Arlington Park, although I may spend some time on that theology book first, seeing as how it's been hanging around for a while.

Oh, wait. Sorry, last bit was not so finally. I’ve started going to this writer’s group that meets once a month in Rockwall, TX (a bit of a drive for me and fighting all that traffic – I told them last week that it’s a good thing I’m not Arminian cuz I would lose my salvation every time I drove there). Great group and great critiques. My point in telling you this: if you live in the Dallas area, check out their site.

Okay, I've officially put in more hyperlinks in this post then ever before. Can I have a lollipop?

08 March 2007

I'm Only Human...

Blogging gives me an ideal spot for airing out all my pets and peeves. And I can get out all those crazy wonderings, the ones that usually get me those, “um, where’s the straight-jacket?” looks. Today I’ll do a little of both.
Pet: Someone messes up and as explanation claims, “I’m only human.” The account of creation in Genesis, whether you believe it to be a literal 6 days, stretched out 6 days, done through evolution or what have you, asserts several points. First, God is sovereign over His creation. Second, humans are special and primary in this creation (rather than an accident, after thought, or result of a sexual encounter, as the creation stories from other religions allege). Third, that God created humans in His image, and He declared them good. Yes, absolutely, in the Fall and every time I fail to love God or love my neighbor, I taint that image. But it’s still there. So “I’m only human” is something to live up to, not something to fall back on. Jesus is the only one to walk this earth and be truly human. Someday, whoever depends on Jesus for their right-standing with God will learn what it means to be truly human, with perfect bodies exuding the image of God, in harmony with God, each other, and nature. So, no, don’t tell me “I’m only human” when you mess up. Tell me you acted a little less humanly.
Peeve: Whenever someone sees some sampling of good in the world, someone who puts themselves in a dangerous position to save another sort of thing, they sigh and say, “He must be an angel.”
How bout this? He must have actually let his Imago Dei (image of God) shine through. He must have just for one moment lived up to what he was created to be.
There is a verse that says that we need to be hospitable and caring of others cuz you never know when you are entertaining angels. Note: we need to be nice because we might have angels in our presence, not the other way around. The angels are the recipients. Other references to angels include messengers, sword-wielding warriors fighting demonic forces in a realm we don’t see, and those that serve in the presence of God. None of this is baby butt-cheeks playing a miniscule harp with curls framing a pudgy face.
Here’s what I think: as long as we say it was an angel, we don’t have to set that as a standard to which we should attain. Just like my flute students. If they preempt the whole thing with, “I can’t,” they think they have a way out and they don’t have to practice. (Little do they know with whom they deal!)
So to the crazy wonderings: My dad said once that he believes that when Jesus calmed that storm, he was being truly human (rather than demonstrating divine powers). In the beginning (I love those words. They mean story time.), man was created as caretaker of the world, over the world, naming things and caring for them and keeping them in check. Humans should be able to calm storms. Of course, because we are fallen and corrupt and decaying and would use that power for our own agenda (or should I say, we do use that power for our own agenda), we can’t calm a storm. Or walk on water, or fly (except in planes). So in that day when God restores everything to good, will we be able to walk on water and fly? I mean, in Rev. 21 and 22, it says the city is a mile high. How else will we get to the top?
Okay, I’ve rambled enough. So here’s to fairy dust and Superman and caring for the least of these.

05 March 2007

Review - Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

Heather and Jace Curridge are living the American Dream complete with a house on the lake with a swimming pool and plans for tennis courts, a son who hasn’t gone through that rebellious stage but is chocked full of artistic talent, and everything else listed on the Jones’ to-be catalog. Heather even has an adoring husband (and a great name, I might add).
But something is missing. She loves her stuff, but she was not made for all of this, she knows.
So when she meets a hard-nosed yet loveable nun and a pair of quirky Quaker sisters, she’s doomed to scratch away the glittery materialism and get down to the core.
I love this book. Of course I do. How could I not with Lisa Samson at the pen (or, rather, computer)? Aside from the fact that I am Heather, I was Heather (if that makes any sense), and I want to summer with the two sisters. None of her characters are perfect, and none are complete villains (don’t you just hate when you can’t have some good old hatred for a villain, that you have to look at them with God’s John 3:16 compassion?). Aside from the characters, which is Samson’s strength, I love this book because of its heart. How many U.S. lives are empty? And how many try to fill that emptiness with the latest and greatest technology/Eurway couch/house addition/kitchen gadget/antique find (I could go on here)? Lisa addresses the issue behind that.
How many times (while we're on the question) can you say a book not only entertained you, but challenged you to look deeper, to change, to incarnate Christ’s love? I can say that about this book. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to make a cake for the orphanage about five miles down the road from my house.