Thursday, November 19, 2015

7QT - Ohio, Saints, and Cemeteries

Since August of 2002, when I moved to Joplin for college, I have lived in Missouri. Since this August or September, I have been considering moving back to just seems that besides jobs, I really have nothing holding me in Missouri anymore, except a handful of friends I never see anyway. I got some employment opportunities in order and decided to move on December 12 - pretty much finish out the school semester subbing, but still have time to get paperwork through for jobs in Ohio to start after the first of the year. But things worked out so I got to move a month early! My bosses were very understanding - I had great jobs in Springfield.

My brother Sam came to Missouri to visit, and so I moved back with him. On the way we stopped at Cahokia Mounds, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, near Collinsville, IL. We decided we should do YouTube videos of "tours" of popular tourist sites. For instance, as we approached the north end of the temple mound where I think the chief's home would have stood, we looked over the side and reminisced how this was where the chief peed every morning...and learned the hard way which direction the wind was blowing.... And on the "platform" (flat space of land) between the two large staircases leading to the top of that mound, a bench had been built. We commented how this was where the chief probably took his afternoon nap every day, before having his squaw make him a sammich.... 

We would, of course, have a group of friends act the part of believing tourists in these videos. It could be a lot of fun. Next time I'm bringing a video recorder, cuz you probably just had to be there to get the humor of it.

Really, though, the place was very interesting. I love learning about past cultures, and the fact that a thousand years ago this was the largest city north of Mexico flabbergasted me when I first discovered it a couple months ago. Right here in 'Merica, guys! So cool.

Here is a picture viewing westward from the top of the temple mound. You can see St. Louis in the background. 

Since arriving in Ohio, I have been catching up with family and interviewing for jobs. Friday night I got to go watch my niece cheer at Mount Vernon Nazarene University's homecoming basketball game. She's very good. While the girls (and a couple of guys) do their thing in the background (which my niece is part of half the time) the coach usually has her in the foreground tumbling. Pretty nice privilege for a freshman, methinks. 

Today (Thursday) I had a little down time, so I took my dog and went to the shrine park in Carey. The shrine is Our Lady of Consolation. Before hitting the park (which I haven't been to in years, but used to walk there sometimes with a friend and it was beautiful!), I decided to check out the gift shop. So I walked in and a lady asked if she could help me find anything. I said, "Well, I've never been in here before...I was wondering if you had any rosaries." 

She laughed.

And so today I bought my first rosary. (My camera phone doesn't do it justice - it was not expensive, but it is quite pretty.)

I also let her know how brilliant I am by asking, "Who is the saint on there?" She said, "Well, I think it is the Sacred Heart...." 

"Oh. Cool!" 


Here are a few pictures from the shrine park. There are stations of the cross that encircle the whole thing. (There is fresh candle wax all over them - probably from All Saints' Day celebrations, I am guessing...? Cool, anyway; a witness to devotion.) 

Other statues can be found, too - like one of St. Andrew (not pictured), one of Jesus sitting on the Cross (also not pictured), and one of the Holy Family (again, not pictured). Pictured are one of Rachel mourning for her children ("Memorial to the Unborn"), St. Francis of Assisi (one of my favoritest saints), and one of St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin (made me realize something: Jesus had grandparents!). 

This was the only picture the whole day for which the sun came out!
It was cold, and Albie was with me, and I had a flat I decided to come back and visit the Basilica another day (the lady at the gift shop told me it has a lot worth seeing, including a statue of Mother Teresa - my MOST favoritest likely-going-to-be-a saint). 

I am enjoying the rural scenery here in Ohio. I've missed it! (I would post a picture or two, but they are on my brother's phone - it takes better pictures - and he is not cooperating with sending them to me in a timely manner, so you'll just have to take my word for it!!) I have noticed that EVERYWHERE is surrounded by fields. You can seriously just walk right into one at any time. Arrowhead hunting available at a moment's notice. (That's another thing on my soon-to-do list.) 

So one other thing I've done a little of since being back is visiting old cemeteries. I just find them interesting - the old Civil War (and other wars) medallions beside some of them, the worn-down poems on the really old ones, and the mysteries.... Like a small family vault in a small rural (Smithville) cemetery I passed probably every day of my childhood. It features three Smith graves. One was from Connecticut, one from Virginia, and one from "Negro Town." I tried to look it up on the Internet to find out the history there, but that is all it said, too. Just a record. I still have no idea who Henry Harrison Smith was, or where Negro Town was, or why he had come to Wyandot County, Ohio. I will have to check out local museums and see if there is any other information on that. I also found it interesting that, in the same cemetery, most (probably at least 90%) of the gravestones with deaths between the years of WWI and WWII bore German names. There must have been a large German immigrant community in this area then, and it made me wonder what their lives were like here in such an era.

I stopped by a couple other cemeteries, too. And I am staying in my brother's basement for the time being - kind-of my own little apartment, but a basement nonetheless. And when I turned out the lights last night to go to sleep my dog decided to start barking at something I couldn't see because it was pitch black. And then I started thinking about all the things I'd ever wondered or heard or read about animal possession and avoided eye contact with poor little Albie for a while.... The only way forward for me was clear: I had a little talk with Jesus! lol

Oh, the things we fear in the dark. (Again, smh.)

For more Quick Takes, check in with Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kicked Out for No Reason

The other night one of the children at the residential facility I work at got up in the middle of the night and tried everything under keep from going back to bed. At one point she was reading to my work partner from a children's story Bible. My coworker said to the child, "You're really good at reading. What is your favorite part of that story?" The child replied, "The part where Adam and Eve get kicked out for no reason."

We laughed at this (not in front of the child). My first thought was, "Someone didn't listen very well when this passage was explained...she missed the whole point!" My second was more along the lines probably does seem to her that they were kicked out (of the Garden of Eden) for no reason.

All they did was eat an apple.

They disobeyed God in eating the forbidden fruit, yes; but from this child's perspective, disobedience is part of everyday life - especially this child, one who is in residential care for behavioral issues. It made me wonder how she perceived the idea of "getting kicked out" by God for something as little as eating a piece of fruit He left on the counter but then said was off-limits. I mean, it's fruit! If someone doesn't eat it, it will soon go bad anyway. Isn't that a waste...? And there's always an abundance of it lying around, it's not like eating this fruit will be putting anyone else out of a meal or snack.

I wonder how this story makes this child perceive God (and, in fact, everyone else in authority over her). Is she unwanted because she chooses to disobey? Is she going to be banished forever from the presence of those who brought her into being and are supposed to be there to care for her and love her?

Are we...?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Worldbuilding Wednesday #1: Creation Myth

I am excited to join with the link-up this week, but I don't think I'm far enough in my worldbuilding to think about transportation yet. So I'm beginning here by submitting the work-in-progress creation story for my world. One of the larger difficulties I've run into is coming up with good names (for people AND places). Where do you get your inspiration for names? Are the names I've chosen here too complicated? (Other thoughts on the following submission are welcome, too.) 

Here, too, is a rough, incomplete, and likely-to-be-changed map of my world:

[Beginning still needs fleshed out, but: gods overcome with plague – last to survive are the Sebestri siblings. Dying grandfather gives them each a handful of seeds to plant so another race will grow and take over where the gods left off. Sebestris put the seeds in their pockets and run as fast as they can, thinking they can escape the plague and continue living as they always had. Maybe they could even plant the seeds and raise a crop of slaves to care for them since they no longer had parents and didn’t really know how to do any work for themselves. But they ran so far and so fast that before they knew it they fell off the edge of their habitation.] 

They fell a very long way, through darkness and wind and chaos, to land with a fatal crash in the water below all that was. Their bodies lay there, partly submerged and partly above sea level, tangled and heaped over and around each other, until they eventually transformed[decomposed?] into land of a (mostly) fertile nature.

The seeds of humanity never left the pockets of the Sebestris, but took root where the carriers fell. The roots drew sustenance both from the lifeforce no longer claimed by the slain siblings, and from the ground where each now lay. Thus the tribes of the seven lands were born.

One of the siblings, Monsighe, fell on his side, so that one of his pockets lay submerged in the sea, while the other remained high in the air and became a mountain known as Mt. Grimeni. The mountain soon had a twin from the elevated backside of Frosketta who fell behind her brother, face-down in the water. The twin mountain is called Mt. Mostracea. Other, lesser, peaks eventually grew around these, but the two remain the most prevalent in the             range to this day. The mountains proved a rougher area for the seeds to grow, so the fruit they brought forth had a harder shell; this race of RACE 1 grew strong and solid, but short. Possible to mistake as part of the rocky landscape from a distance, their skin was a color between grey and brown, rough to the touch and difficult to pierce. Isolated by their geology, the RACE 1 kept to themselves and, because they were little-known to outsiders, they have long been feared and readily left alone.

Monsighe’s submerged pocket brought forth an altogether different set of circumstances. The abundance of moisture caused the humans’ roots to develop a fungal coating that sealed in the necessary nutrients to produce life, but also provided some of its own. The Nelsmarsh at the foot of Mt. Grimeni thus birthed the race of magic-wielding RACE 2/WIZARDS. They alone possessed magic, so they, too, were somewhat feared by the other races, but they were also sought out when extraordinary help was needed. With the aid of their special abilities, the RACE 2 had the means to become the most broadly traveled and well-learned of all the humans. And so they did. 

[This is still far from finished, but I am strapped for time! Still to come in my creation myth: Five more races (one for each Sebestri sibling); beliefs regarding what happens when humans die.]

Monday, September 14, 2015

Looking Forward to Worldbuilding Wednesdays

This is not a writing/fiction blog. However, it is my personal blog, and one thing I am doing right now is attempting to write a fantasy novel. One blogger I follow is beginning a biweekly hop:

There will be a prompt for each submission, but it is not necessary to follow it; more
information for those interested here.

I'm not sure I will participate every Wednesday, but I do plan to participate some. For example, the first week's theme is Transportation. I don't think I'm far enough in my planning to consider that just yet, but I may enter with another subject. (However, I may not participate at all this first week because there is a submission deadline and I just found out about the hop.) 

Thought I'd let anyone interested know about the hop, and let any of my readers know that it's possible they'll be reading some fiction here biweekly. But no, my blog as a whole has not switched genres. 

Hope some of you participate! I'm really looking forward to this. My goal is to get enough worldbuilding done that I can realistically participate in NaNoWriMo this November. I am going to use this bloghop to try to accomplish that.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Why Do I Read Those Things?

Seems like I haven't had much to say for a while, but all of a sudden the last day or two I've felt like posting several times. And not bad/stressful stuff, either! Yay!! :) last post. Yes, I know it may have been a little volatile. But I'm leaving it, because it's where I'm at. And the initial purpose of this blog was to be a place to discuss my theological thoughts, because I had MANY. All the time. I'm changing a lot. Discovering truth is a large part of who I am, and the lifetime JOURNEY to discovering that truth is something I treasure, even though at times I find it difficult being in an "in-between," less-certain place. So, I noticed I lost a follower. That's okay (though it just goes to prove the point of my last post). It's hard to face difficult questions or very opposing views to what we believe - it causes a very uncomfortable condition called cognitive dissonance. I've been there. It IS very uncomfortable, and that's putting it mildly.

But today, I have some other thoughts to talk about.

I came across this post by Modern Mrs. Darcy blogger Anne Bogel discussing WHAT OUR FAVORITE BOOKS SAY ABOUT OUR OWN CHARACTER. It's an interesting read, and it got me thinking about my own favorite things to read, and what they say about me. Like Anne, it's difficult for me to choose a particular "favorite" book...but a few do come to mind.

I love the Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings. I've read many other fantasy series, too, and if I write my own novel, it will likely fit in the same genre. The creativity jumps out to me about these books - they contain all types of mysterious objects, diverse characters, and fluid "rules" for various worlds and situations. They involve heroes and villains and great personal struggle. Life in the story is not ordinary, ever, for the reader...but yet it is, for the characters - especially after the crisis has been overcome. The foreign nature of the fantastical setting gives a busy mind a lot of detail to pay attention to as the action unfolds, and the struggle usually requires make-or-break decisions to be made by the character/s on moral matters and personal values. In the end, evil is defeated (or set at bay), good prevails (usually), and the character resumes life-as-usual knowing he/she has played an important part in the unfolding of all things.

Historical Fiction is another genre I have enjoyed as long as I can remember. When I was young I loved anything by Scott O'Dell, and anything about pioneers moving into uncharted lands to live or interact with its inhabitants. I still love historical fiction (like the one I read recently on Catherine the Great, and the Highlander series, which I'm still working on). There are a lot of the same elements here, as in any story - the character facing crisis and making life-changing decisions, etc. The obvious conclusion is that I love history! But also, perhaps I find comfort in the idea that these stories represent people who have gone before - real people - who have already walked the road, survived the journey, affected their world, and determined their destiny.

Perhaps I long for some kind of adventure.

Perhaps what I desire is direction and assurance that it is right and things will be okay.

...Or maybe I just like a good plot!

What to you like to read, and what do you think it might say about you?

Monday, August 24, 2015

You Know What Isn't Fair?

Through a friend's social media post this week I came into contact with this article on how atheists find meaning and purpose in life. This was actually always one of the questions I could never wrap my mind around when I thought Christian evangelism was the highest purpose/call one could pursue. And I didn't see how everyone else couldn't come to the same conclusion and seek that higher meaning which, in my opinion, was to love, serve, and recruit more lovers and servers for Jesus. (Side note: I highly recommend giving this article a read if you are a Christian.)

But you know what isn't fair (besides pretty much most things)...?

The hipster-culture, materialistic jump-up-and-down-in-the-smoke-and-lights, first-world Christians of today who think the rest of the world to be arrogant rejecters of Christ, and poor Christians to be lacking in faith and not living in the full potential of the "abundant life" available to them, and poor "unreached" peoples as desperately in need of hearing a prosperity gospel with the hope that they, too, can have all their material needs met in Christ if they just turn from sin and believe with their poor heathen hearts...what's not fair is that these Christians will continue to live just as they are, and if they are wrong and atheists are right, these (dare I say it?) oppressive Christians (one of whom I have indeed been) will never know it. They'll just continue to live in ignorance, and then die, and...well, that's it. There's nothing else.

But if they are right...then everyone else will suffer eternally for just trying to live life and be decent people.

It's not fair because it makes God seem pretty sadistic.

If God exists, or if Christian religion/theology has any merit at all, then God cannot be as/what most Christians claim [Him] to be.

Because it's just not fair.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What I'm Into (July 2015 wrap-up)

It has been quite a while since I've posted! I wanted to stop in here and chat you up with something kind-of light, so I thought I'd join this link-up for the first time when two of the blogs in my feed reader featured the same title today! So...



All things 70s. I, as the last person on the planet, bought two new albums via iTunes yesterday: Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. A friend and I went and saw Elton at the end of March, and I read a biography of him after that, and this is far-and-wide purported to be his best album ever. To think, six months ago I barely had any clue who the rocker was. I knew some of his songs, but had no idea he was the artist behind them. Even the Lion King, people!! My favorite songs on this album are "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (of course), and also "Sweet Painted Lady" and "Roy Rogers" (not necessarily in that order). And when I listened to Rumours my first thought was, "This is okay, but I'm not sure it's as great as everyone else seems to think...." But I do like several of its songs, and the whole theme of the album seems to fit my life well right now. I probably would not have "gotten it" if I had listened to it before this year.

It's been too long since I just indulged in listening to great music!!

Since the 70s seem to be my musical era at the moment, I looked up some other great albums from the decade. I did some listening to Pink Floyd (and was not impressed - someone PLEASE explain all the hype here, please!!), Led Zeppelin (a little better than Floyd, but still...), and Roxy Music (it just didn't really hit it for me). I of course love me some Dylan, and some sixties groups like the Beatles and the Beach Boys still rock my world, but I'm beginning to think the 70s as a whole aren't really my decade, and I've already discovered all the greats I'm going to from then! We'll see, I guess. I am, however, definitely a fan of the coherently themed album.

Oh, also, a Facebook friend posted this recommended playlist of current "repeat" songs of public radio hosts. I have cued it up on YouTube, but haven't listened yet. I'm all about the creative!


I was going to post this as "Books," but even though I've downloaded and ordered several still on their way to being delivered, I'm really reading more on the Internet this week than I am reading in book form. I discovered J. R. R. Tolkien's essay (originally given as a lecture) on Andrew Lang called "On Fairy Stories," and this week blogger Richard Beck has broken down the essay in a (so-far four-part) series called "The Theology of Faerie." I'm working on the essay and plan to read the blogs next. The title caught me, and the cross between fantasy literature and theology is RIGHT up my alley!

July 21st I finished the book Catherine: Inside the Heart and Mind of a Great Monarch and fell in love with this long-dead symbol of feminine leadership. She had a couple of obvious flaws, one of which was that she came to love her authority more than her youthful ideals of justice for peasants, and thereby missed an opportunity to capstone the legacy of her greatness. The book is well-written, though (even if I would fault some of the technical editing shortcomings), and keeps one's attention from beginning to end. It read differently than any other work of fiction I've ever come across - I guess that can be attributed to the author's style, and the style made me feel like I was reading more research than fiction. I recommend this read!

I found this (and several other interesting reads) through a daily email service from It allows you to choose your favorite genres, and in a daily email you receive a recommendation in each category you chose, at a very cheap price or free. I've ordered quite a few books since a friend recommended Bookbub to me a couple of months ago.

Small Space Living (and extra money)

Okay, I know this craze has been going on for a little while now and I'm late to jump onboard the party boat, but I'm not into it in such a way that I want to buy a little pop-up camper and park it in the forest over by Walden Pond. I just live in a small house and am looking for ways to optimize my space. I know I will move again at some point, anywhere from very soon to a couple of years from now. I'm tired of moving beind a hassle; I'm tired of clutter being an ongoing enemy that surrounds me and tears at my mental-health defenses...I'm just tired of pointless "stuff" and all the wasted money that goes into it.

So I'm trimming back. I've taken probably close to a hundred books to a local bookstore this week for cash. They give pretty decent trade prices, or you can cash out for half the amount they offer in in-store trade credit. (I always cash out.) And I'm finding extra stuff around the house to put on Craigslist. Double benefits: I'm clearing out the clutter and making a little extra pocket change to boot. I've been reading all kinds of articles on quick ways to make a few extra bucks. I opened an online checking account that offered two hundred dollars for doing so...but I set up my direct deposit a week after the deadline so that fell through. I also ordered an online prepaid debit card for the promise of an extra $40 in return. This was through Netspend. I did not get the $40, even though I called and verified that it would be put into my account within a couple of business days of uploading my first amount of money onto the card. (So I don't recommend doing that. The checking account, though, was through Nationwide Bank, and it seems to have been a legitimate offer of $200; I was just late on my end in meeting their very reasonable requirements.) The lesson learned in all of this: for me it is easier to earn "easy money" in the traditional ways. Just sell stuff I'm not using! It benefits me in more ways than one.

But don't be fooled; I still have not triumphed over my clutter.

But I'm working on it!!

Oh, and I signed up to be a mystery shopper! I have my first assignment coming up later today. It should be fun. It's definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it'll be gas money! And without too much effort.


A new guy started at my overnight job a few days ago. He was assigned to work with me that night, and we immediately clicked and had an hours-long philosophical conversation. It was so refreshing! Working third shift, you don't always meet a lot of new people or join a lot of extra-curriculars in which to chat it up with friends. It was pretty affirming in the direction my personal beliefs have taken over the last couple of years. I've learned I really value the Eastern "group" mentality, and that it sheds light on some of my grittier cosmic questions.

And also in the face of that liberal-ish statement, on the other hand, I'm thinking of checking out a local Catholic church's Catholicism 101 classes starting this month. (I think it's akin to RCIA, but I'm not sure. It might be a less commitment-oriented forum.) If I remain part of the official Christian community, the intellectual openness and expanse of the Catholic church draws me. As with so many other things in my life right now...we'll see!


I discovered tomato sandwiches this month. Toasted bread, mayo, tomato, and just a smidgeon of heaven.... Goin' back to my Appalachian roots here!! ;)

And I finally found a really good pizza place here in town, after having lived here and survived on Domino's and Pizza Hut for over 3 years. It's brought a measure of peace to my life that has been missing....


Damages. Pretty sure that's 'nuff said.

What are you into?