7QT - NaNoWriMo, Jesus: CEO, and St. Therese of Lisieux
I'm doing NaNoWriMo!! I had never heard of it until the April A to Z blogging challenge, and came across several mentions of it then. But I heard about it again last week, so I checked it out and thought it sounded like fun! I've always wanted to write a work of fiction, and this is as good a time as ever! Better, actually, since I'm actually not in school this semester. So...I'm going for it. I don't know if I will hold myself to 50,000 words of actual text or not, but I have already begun my research and writing out character descriptions and plot ideas, etc. I plan to use this month to plan the book and get it started. So...I'll let you all know how that goes! I have actually started writing text, and as of this posting my word count is at 2265 (yeah, I'm behind already). I'm pretty excited about it! My title is The Order of the Oak, and I am thinking of it more as part of a series (fantasy genre). Want an excerpt? Here are my first few paragraphs:
He stumbled across the plain of grass in the direction of the trees about half a mile ahead. Occasionally the new moon shone for an instant between dark clouds rolling swiftly, angrily overhead. It would have been very dark if not for the incessant streaks of lightning staking the land as if to mark the boundaries for a coming battle. The thunder roared, a little more loudly this time than last. The rain held back, but clearly the river god, Thyrodo, was going to air some terrible grievances through a pugilistic storm this night.A great bolt of lightning struck a tree ahead and to the left, the crash of it issuing a threat as real as any of the others Red Runner had heard lately, and that was saying something. He lifted the clay flagon to his lips for another gulp of Rowan berry mead; more ran down his chin and neck than down the inside of his throat, but what he swallowed burned to please. He tripped but didn’t realize it until he hit the ground hard. The cool grass felt soothing against his sweaty face. He could have lain there and slept contentedly for the night, but knowing this storm would likely yield flooding, he knew he should get home if he wanted to wake in the morning, undrowned. Sober he might have decided to stay there and pass silently in his sleep, but drunk as he was, deep thoughts and regrets did not register. He regained his feet and stumbled on, slightly uphill, as the first raindrops began to tease the windblown land.The Oak leaves gave shelter from the sprinkles when he reached them. He continued to plunge through the light undergrowth until the woods grew thicker. It would be a little while yet before the rain found its way through the thick canopy above, but he could already hear that its cadence had grown steady. Another burst of thunder reassured any listeners that the night’s portents had only just begun. It was nearly pitch black in the cover of the trees, but Red Runner knew the way through them without needing his eyes to guide him. He had traveled this same path nearly every day of his twenty-seven years of life. This was the path from the main village to his own dwelling. There had been a council of warriors tonight. All the men of hunting and fighting age had been present to decide as a group what to do about the recent signs of disease in the trees down by the river…all the men except Red Runner, that is. He had filled his flagon at the community drinkhouse next to the meeting place, thrown the ladies in the far corner a playful wink on the way out, and strutted past a handful of men about to duck into the meeting, probably the last of those coming, on his way to the river below the small plain west of the village. Those men had glared at him disgustedly as he shoved past them, and one had even called after him, “It shouldn’t surprise me anymore that you don’t care enough to do your part to protect the land that keeps us all alive! You know this affects you, too, don’t you?”Red Runner hadn’t answered. He hadn’t even looked back, but kept the same stride toward his destination. His angry neighbor had shaken his head of long, dark hair angrily and proceeded inside to the meeting.
---2---I have been doing a sort of a daily devotional reading out of Jesus: CEO by Laurie Beth Jones. (Okay...I don't do it every day so much as every day I remember. But that's okay. I'm learning to live with my quirks, and this is something I'm doing for me, not someone else who demands I do it a certain way.) Today's lesson talked about how Jesus expressed Himself, and the author pointed out how our society pays exorbitant amounts to entertainers because, she thinks, we express ourselves vicariously through them. One of the suggested reflection questions asked how much it costs me (financially and emotionally) to allow others to express themselves in my place, including entertainers, writers, etc. That made me think...what exactly is it that I wish to express through writing this work of fiction? ...In answering I'm still trying to decide whether to keep it simple with, "My creativity," or get all deep and use it to decide a few of my plot motifs. If I did that, it would certainly have to include a character's search for understanding.... Personally, I kind-of think that's what the fantasy genre is about anyway.
---3---I read a post by Leah Libresco this week on how she's using Jennifer Fulwiler's Saint Name Generator to study a new saint each month. I went over there for fun and got St. Therese of Lisieux. I have not read much about saints ever..seriously, though:.I have read a little bit about St. Francis of Assisi, and maybe snippets about one or two others. So I clicked over to the provided link and read about St. Therese and found myself quite surprised how much I identified with her!
The source said, "Her pain [from tuberculosis] was so great that she said that if she had not had faith she would have taken her own life without hesitation. But she tried to remain smiling and cheerful - and succeeded so well that some thought she was only pretending to be ill." I have felt that intensity of emotional pain, and struggled, and at times attempted to hide it because I thought it made me weak or less spiritual.... The more I have studied it, however, the more I have come to realize that thoughts of suicide are not terribly enigmatic...they are a consequence of human pain. I have also felt the added strength of faith during times of suicidal contemplation.
She was passionate; experienced early significant grief and personal loss; enjoyed a deeply personal relationship with God; and was an encourager, particularly to missionaries through prayers and letters. And one of the well-known things about her that has sometimes brought her unflattering scrutiny is that she struggled greatly with her emotions. At the occasion when she considered herself to have entered true conversion, she was able to override her automatic desire to vent her own extreme emotions and behave more sensitively to her father's feelings than her own. I have run the gamut with emotions in my lifetime. I experienced early trauma and became an overemotional young child because of it. Then, as I got older, I learned to supress my emotions and never let them show because it was the only thing in my life over which I was permitted to exercise much control. Now I think I fluctuate between healthy expression of emotion and depression, which is in my mind an extreme negative emotionalness...but I am learning to cope with it better. So...I get Therese's struggle there.
One other thing that stuck out to me was this: "By the time she was eleven years old she had developed the habit of mental prayer. She would find a place between her bed and the wall and in that solitude think about God, life, eternity." I was maybe three or four years older than that when I, too, became serious and individual about my faith. I remember a time when I was about 15, and I made a commitment that God would be the first thing I thought about when I awoke in the morning and the last thing I thought of before I went to sleep. In making that conscious decision, Christ moved to the place of priority in my mind; that is when my life became Christ-centered, and I began to relate all the nuances of everyday life to Him. And it wasn't long after that when my prayer life became more personal and relational, too. I remember the moment that happened, too. I had been reading a new devotional called Mature Christians Are Boring People (and Other Myths) by Ron Luce. I had been applying my mental energies to learn more about God. And I think it was that book (along with other sources, I am sure) that mentioned how praying is simply sharing your life with God - talking to Him like you would to a friend. And one evening after my brother had died and my family was moving into another house, my parents left me at the new place with the younger kids while they went to get more cleaning supplies. In one of the rooms was a foldaway cot, and I crawled into it, a peaceful, protective cave of comfort, and it was there that I had my first "conversation" with God, and told Him about my day, and about how I had been feeling about all the things in my life that were out of control.
St. Therese demonstrated the great significance of consecration in the SMALL, everyday things. How beautiful.
---4---Got the email this week that I was not accepted into the physics program at MSU. They said they do not do provisional acceptance, but I am welcome to reapply if/when I catch up on the prerequisite courses. I was a little discouraged at the news...not so much because I believe physics is the calling of my life, but because I feel like I have undergone/am undergoing a bit of a crisis of faith...or at least a huge transition of faith...and it has caused me to question the educational path I have taken thus far. I don't regret my theological education. I do, however, wish it had been a little less expensive. I'm thinking now about taking some time off to decide what exactly I want to do next. No need to rush things, right? Life, after all, is what happens right now, not something I'm working toward and will achieve with some degree in the future. So, as I was wallowing a little in my disappointment today or yesterday, I came across the following tweet:
"In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you."
— Typical Pastor's Kid (@Typicalpk) November">https://twitter.com/Typicalpk/statuses/398199207955554304">November 6, 2013
Guess I'm still learning that "graceful letting go" part.
BUT, speaking of Twitter, there were also a few posts in my feed that made me chuckle this week:
|"The Lord shall preserve thy Pinterest..."|
|"...so that we may be wholly Pinterest..."|
|"...God's beau, Pinterest..."|
|"I will find rest nowhere but Pinterest."|
|I often give thanks through Jesus to Pinterest, how about you? ;)|
---5---Made one of my all-too-frequent visits to the DMV this week. Heard a truck driver and apparently a truck driving company owner or administrator having a conversation. Apparently the owner/administrator guy spends one week out of every month on the road with a driver, in his words, " making their life meaningful." He explained how the drivers sacrifice a lot being away from their families so much, and he gives them an occasional companion for conversation, " to be heard and receive affirmation," as he put it. I thought that was pretty cool. (And he really seemed like a nice guy...I don't think he meant truck drivers' lives are meaningless; he just choose his words poorly.) Wouldn't that be a cool job (for an extrovert, of course, as he apparently was)?!
---6---One of the bloggers I follow posted this link to artist Roland Deschane's combinations of Star Wars with Thomas Kinkade artwork. Here's an example:
---7---My Albie-boo is going to be a year old on Sunday!! I love my little sweetie so much. :)
|(A picture from 3 or 4 weeks ago after I gave him a haircut.)|