26 February 2009

Stream of Consciousness

In class, we are reading Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf. This novel is extremely interesting in that there is a constant stream of consciousness that flows through each character, especially the main character of Clarissa.

I was laying in bed this morning reading the novel, and I realized that it was the kind of novel that inspire one to think consciously about their own stream of consciousness and to have their awareness of it heightened. Basically, it makes me feel inspired to write.

For example, this morning was such a delicious morning, with the windows opened and the cool Oklahoma wind by turns gently blowing the blinds into the room and then sucking them out against the screen as if the wind were taking giant breaths of life in the world and then only to violently bang the blinds against the screen, as if the wind were trying to force them outside to join it. The air was light and not too bright - perfect for morning reading in bed. The kind of lightness where you feel that perhaps time has stopped, and will stay stopped. The sage green blanket on the bed and the soft gold sheets against my skin set the light off just right. I felt as though I was wrapped up and nestled in the wind and the air and the feeling of the morning, not just in the blankets and pillows as I curled up with my book. There was a stillness, a peace in the morning; a calmness that calms the soul and refreshes and revives the body. I wondered how many mornings like it I had missed because I was caught up in my business or the business of the day and the hustle and bustle of time and appointments and commitments that push me through the day, often as I resist, longing for the moment I was so enjoying - that quiet stillness. Time wins out though with its pushiness and pushes the morning out to be taken over by the lunchtime hour, whose start was signaled by my growling stomach as it thought about the food in the kitchen, just waiting for me to prepare it. Then the lunchtime hour hurries and rolls into the afternoon hour, which is taken up with commitments of various kinds - writing thank you notes, making necessary phone calls and other obligations. I find myself torn between longing to have a busy, "professional" life and the stillness of the day at home, being a simple housewife. It seems no matter which I have obtained for myself, I long for the other. Such juxtaposition of the soul is such a torment! And so I try for both, which is almost worse because I am in perpetual state of "looking forward" and unable to relax and enjoy the now. The now, like this morning, the soft, light white air of the calm morning: cool, quiet, undemanding, relaxing, wanting nothing but company, which I was only too happy to give it. Alas, but not all mornings can be of such!

I used to write like this quite often - I was always carrying around a small notebook to write an important thought or a poem that came to mind. That was when I was a teenager and the world was new and fresh and I was in love with it. Before I was wounded by circumstance, by time, by uncompassionate selfishness of people, of a person. That was when my writing stopped. When the pain of my life was too much to bear, to even pen, when I wanted simply to get through the day and had no hope of a better tomorrow. That is all behind me now - I have hope of a better tomorrow and yesterdays' better tomorrow was in fact, today. And life is great, life is enjoyable, life is content. Perhaps I shall pick up my pen again and begin to think like I used to . . . but with a new, fresh outlook on life.

22 February 2009

Thomas update

Thomas called me on Thursday late afternoon and said that he was leaving for Iraq that evening. I was driving home, but I was able to talk to him for a few minutes and pray with him. The reality that he was calling to say goodbye was pretty hard; I prefer to view it as "I'll talk to you later" and not "goodbye". Goodbye to me signifies a kind of permanence. Call it a form of denial, but I live in the land of denial - it works for me.

Overall, I do feel peaceful about Thomas being over there. I have done a lot of praying since he got orders back last May in Kansas City and I have turned over the situation to the Lord, not that there is anything I can do about it anyway . . . I do have complete trust and faith in the Lord though that all will be done according to His will and that Thomas will return safely, and in one piece and alive.

James 1:2-8
"2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."


I have been updating posts I had saved, but not yet posted back in January. The ones I have updated include the Thanksgiving trip to South Dakota. :) You have to scroll down to read them though. :)

Pregnancy Pics

Marilyn took some pregnancy photos of Mike and I yesterday, and they turned out really awesome! (I'm 34 weeks here.) Here are some of the favs:

21 February 2009

"When Love is Old"

I really enjoyed reading "When Love is Old" by W.B. Yeats. Personally, I like to put myself sometimes (not always) in a character's place in a story (or especially a movie). I can see Mike and I being married forty years or so down the line, still in love, having reared our children and seen them out, having gone through careers and houses and cities and bases and life events and hard times and good times and births and deaths, all the while still loving each other and still there for each other. This stems from the commitment that we have made to each other: indeed we made a covenant with the Lord in front of family and friends to be committed to each other until death do us part. I know that Mike's love for me is not the passing love for my youthful looks and I think that he has certainly proved that throughout the length of our first pregnancy. My body underwent some major changes, and his love for me has not changed. And his desire for me has not dwindled in the least either - in some ways, it has increased, perhaps because I am bearing his child, a fact that he quite proud of. (Men glow too when their wives are pregnant.) I can see how the speaker in Yeats poem has that kind of love for his wife - how he has stayed with her through it all, until the very end. I find this to be very romantic.

18 February 2009

End of Rampant Consumerism

From: http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/article/176478/%22Worst-Is-Yet-to-Come%22-Americans'-Standard-of-Living-Permanently-Changed?tickers=WMT,WFMI,FDO,%5EGSPC,%5EDJI,RTH

"Worst Is Yet to Come:" Americans' Standard of Living Permanently ChangedPosted Feb 17, 2009 12:53pm EST by Aaron Task in Investing, Recession

There's no question the American consumer is hurting in the face of a burst housing bubble, financial market meltdown and rising unemployment.
But "the worst is yet to come," according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, who believes American's standard of living is undergoing a "permanent change" - and not for the better as a result of:
An $8 trillion negative wealth effect from declining home values.
A $10 trillion negative wealth effect from weakened capital markets.
A $14 trillion consumer debt load amid "exploding unemployment", leading to "exploding bankruptcies."
"The average American used to be able to borrow to buy a home, send their kids to a good school [and] buy a car," Davidowitz says. "A lot of that is gone."
Going forward, the veteran retail industry consultant foresees higher savings rate and people trading down in both the goods and services they buy - as well as their aspirations.
The end of rampant consumerism is ultimately a good thing, he says, but the unraveling of an economy built on debt-fueled spending will be painful for years to come.

10 February 2009

Joe's story

In class we are reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I'm not through it yet, but it has been very hard to put down. This afternoon one of the parts that I read about was the story of Joe's childhood. I won't describe it here, in case you haven't read it yet. I was completely shocked at the story and my heart really went out to his poor mother. I can't believe that Joe, to that day (in the story) defended his father saying he had a heart.

I think of similar stories in today's world, about women who try to get away and can't. And then people are afraid to house them for fear of their own lives, or making a scene, and that's how women in domestic violence end of dead.

Last week I read a story of a local woman who was beaten to disfigurement by her husband. It is a miracle that she escaped alive. From the pictures, it was hard to tell if she still had her left eye or not. I don't understand how men can resort to such violence. I mean, intellectually, I've read papers, textbooks, seen movies in class and I still don't get it. Even after being in a relationship with an extremely controlling and verbally, mentally and sexually abusive man, I don't understand how they can do that. Except that they are heartless, confused victims themselves. That is no excuse though.

And my heart goes out to Joe, for he has married someone just like his father. And he won't leave. And his wife won't change. And poor Pip has to bear the brunt of it.

On another level, I can't understand how Mrs. Joe can do that to her husband. She is supposedly a Christian in the novel. Hasn't she read 1 Peter and Titus???? How can she do that to her husband? How can he take it? How can he allow it to happen to Pip, except perhaps with the understanding that her wrath will come his way if he sticks up for Pip.

I realize all my questions are big, and probably without answers. Frustrating. Of course, I think the answers are in the Bible - but not every person is a Christian, and not even every Christian understands certain Godly principles such as love and respect, especially for one's spouse. And you can't force beliefs on anyone. They have to chose for themselves who they will serve.

I'm registered!

I finally am all registered! It only took me until my third trimester . . . I know, I know, I think there was some denial involved in that. And definitely being busy with school and not being a wise time manager. . .

Anyway, I'm registered at Target and Babies R Us. :)

09 February 2009

Australian fire zone a crime scene; 135 killed

WHITTLESEA, Australia – Police declared incinerated towns crime scenes Monday, and the prime minister spoke of "mass murder" after investigators said arsonists may have set some of Australia's worst wildfires in history. The death toll rose to 135.
There were no quick answers, but officials said panic and the freight-train speed of the fire front — driven by 60 mph winds and temperatures as high as 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47C) — probably accounted for the unusually high toll.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, visibly upset during a television interview, reflected the country's disgust at the idea that arsonists may have set some of the 400 fires that devastated Victoria state, or helped them jump containment lines.
"What do you say about anyone like that?" Rudd said. "There's no words to describe it, other than it's mass murder."
More than one dozen fires still burned uncontrollably across the state, though conditions were much cooler than on Saturday.
Evidence of heart-wrenching loss abounded. From the air, the landscape was blackened as far as the eye could see. In at least one town, bodies still lay in the streets. Entire forests were reduced to leafless, charred trunks, farmland to ashes. The Victoria Country Fire Service said some 850 square miles (2,200 square kilometers) were burned out.
At Kinglake, a body covered by a white sheet lay in a yard where every tree, blade of grass and the ground was blackened. Elsewhere in the town, the burned-out hulks of four cars were clustered haphazardly together after an apparent collision. Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio reported a car in a small reservoir, the driver apparently steering there in desperation.
"What we've seen, I think, is that people didn't have enough time, in some cases," Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon told a news conference. "We're finding (bodies) on the side of roads, in cars that crashed."
But there were also extraordinary tales of survival.
One man leapt into his pool to escape the flames as they roared over his house, leaving it unscarred but razing his neighbor's. Another woman sheltered with her children in a wombat burrow as the worst of the fire passed.
Mark Strubing sheltered in a drainage pipe as his property, outside Kinglake, burned.
"We jumped in the car and we were only literally just able to outrun this fire. It was traveling as fast as the wind," Strubing told Nine Network television news.
He said he and a companion rolled around in the water at the bottom to wet their clothing as the flames started licking the pipe: "How we didn't burn I don't know."
Elsewhere in Kinglake, Jack Barber fled just ahead of the flames with his wife and a neighbor, driving in two cars packed with birth certificates, insurance documents, two cats, four kittens and a dog.
"We had a fire plan," he said Monday. "The plan was to get the hell out of there before the flames came."
Their escape route blocked by downed power lines and a tree, they took shelter first at a school, then — when that burned — in an exposed cricket ground ringed by trees, where they found five others.
"All around us was 100-foot (30-meter) flames ringing the oval, and we ran where the wind wasn't. It was swirling all over the place," Barber said. "For three hours, we dodged the wind."
The wind surged and changed direction quickly time and again on Saturday, fanning the blazes and making their direction utterly unpredictable from minute to minute. Local media had been issuing warnings in the days leading up to the weekend, but many people guarding their homes with backyard hoses would have been outside when the wind changed, and thus could have missed the new warnings.
Jim Andrews, senior meteorologist at accuweather.com, said the combination of record high heat, high winds, gusts and low humidity created a perfect storm scenario for the fires. "I cannot fathom in my mind anything more, hellish, firewise," he said.
"Last Saturday we had the most intense fire weather conditions we have had in forecast history," David Packham, a research fellow in climatology at the School of Geography & Environmental Science at Melbourne's Monash University, said in an e-mail to journalists on Monday. He said the heat and a recent lack of rain made it clear days before the weekend that "conditions were in place for a disaster to occur."
At least 750 homes were destroyed Saturday, the Victoria Country Fire Service said.
Officials said both the tolls of human life and property would almost certainly rise as they reached deeper into the disaster zone, and forecasters said temperatures would rise again later in the week, posing a risk of further flare-ups.
Police Commissioner Nixon said investigators had strong suspicions that at least one of the deadly blazes — known as the Churchill fire after a ruined town — was deliberately set. And it could not be ruled out for other fires. She cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
The country's top law officer, Attorney General Robert McClelland, said people found to have deliberately set fires could face murder charges. Murder can carry a life sentence.
Police sealed off Maryville, a town destroyed by another fire, with checkpoints, telling residents who fled and news crews they could not enter because there were still bodies in the streets. Armed officers moved through the shattered landscape taking notes, pool news photographs showed.
John Handmer, a wildfire safety expert at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, said research had shown that people in the path of a blaze must get out early or stay inside until the worst has past.
"Fleeing at the last moment is the worst possible option," he said. "Sadly, this message does not seem to have been sufficiently heeded this weekend with truly awful consequences in Victoria."
Even if a house is set ablaze, it will burn more slowly and with less intensity than a wildfire and residents have a better chance of escape, he said.
Victoria state Premier John Brumby on Monday announced a commission would be held to examine all aspects of the fires, including warning policies.
"I think our policy has served us well in what I call normal conditions. These were unbelievable circumstances," Brumby said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.
Blazes have been burning for weeks across several states in southern Australia. A long-running drought in the south — the worst in a century — had left forests extra dry and Saturday's fire conditions in Victoria were said to be the worst ever in Australia.
In New South Wales state on Monday, a 31-year-old man appeared in court charged with arson in connection with a wildfire that burned north of Sydney over the weekend. No loss of life was reported there. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
The country's deadliest fires before the current spate killed 75 people in 1983. In 2006, nine people died on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.
Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in New York contributed to this report.

08 February 2009

The Browning's

Elizabeth Browning and Robert Browning were both poets in their own right who met, fell in love and got married. It sounds like a literary fairy tale of some kind. I haven't read all of their poetry, or the poetry that they both wrote after they were married yet.

The poetry that we read from them this week in class was a rather interesting selection I thought. Rather than the lovey-dovey poetry you might expect from their life, the selections were far from that. Robert's poem was about a duke who may have killed his previous wife, probably for extramarital relationships. Elizabeth's poem seem liked she was begging for love and affirmation of love in a marital relationship. Do these peoms reflect real -life situations, as some of their other works doing (according to various literary sources online)? It would be interesting to find out . . .

Mike has a blog!

Hey Everyone,

Check out Mike's blog - he finally posted his first blog and it's really great! :) You can click on his blog by clicking on "Mike VB" from my page under Fellowship Blogs.


04 February 2009

My paper got accepted!

I submitted my paper "Exile and Restoration in the Old Testament" for the Liberal Arts Symposium on Feb 25th back in mid-December. I have been wondering and waiting for six weeks to find out if my paper would get chosen for the presentation. (I posted this paper on an earlier blog if you'd like to read it.)

I received an email today from the organizing professor and my paper was chosen!! I'm so excited!

Now, if I can stay pregnant and not be on bed-rest until then . . .

And I have a chance at 1 of 3 cash prizes, although that's not why I entered my paper. I'm looking forward to the experience of sharing my work. :)