Monday, August 30, 2010

I Have Been There

I can't tell you exactly how or when it happened, but yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. I love moments when you suddenly understand something you never did before.

There are a handful of people I used to know who have died. I could probably count them on one hand. My story is greatly fueled by their memory, and that's why this realization is so profound. Naturally, I want to see them again, sometimes very badly...I love them, after all. More than anything, it says loads about how much Jesus loves them. I never thought that he would know how we feel in this case. He's up there with's not like he has to be without them like we do. But he does know what it is to love them immensely, and for that reason He completely empathizes with us being apart. Sometimes I think people we've lost would say we need to just let it go--we'll all be together soon...that they don't miss us as much as we miss them because they're in a place without pain. How do we know they wouldn't say they understand? I always pictured them as wiser, somehow super-human...but now I think that like Christ, they're in a place of empathy. So we don't have to feel bad about grieving.

"When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked.
      "Come and see, Lord," they replied.
Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" -- John 11: 33-36

Expiration Date: N/A

Original Wordpress post date: 8.27.10

Like the end of the day;
Like the end of the year;
Like the end of summer;
Your end will be here before you know it.

Save a place for me
I'll be there soon.

Quiet Time

Original Wordpress post date: 8.26.10

We went camping this past weekend. It was a really emotional time for me. I can't even put into words all of the thoughts that have raced through my mind with everything I've seen and done. Melancholy is a good word for what it was. Being in the wilderness makes me think of God and life and what all that means. I know there's so much waiting in this life's not all about heaven. I learned this weekend (not in the woods but in the book I'm reading) that sometimes only in pain can beautiful things happen.

On the way home I saw these puffy clouds far off in the distance, directly opposite the sun. It made me sad to see them because I wanted so much to be able to go up and sit on them or just somehow be closer to them. I hate these physical limitations we have now. People are so ambitious to do more and more and more, but I just want things that can't be achieved at all, let alone yet.

All the same, it was so good to be out away from the city where I could feel God a little bit better. For some it's doing lots of adventurous stuff and taking advantage of the summer, but its just so good for my soul to sit back and look at the sky or take a walk in the woods. I don't have to have a lot, just quiet and peacefulness.
The trip got me thinking about a few things, one of them being fire. Will there be fire on the new earth? I think what I'm going to do is go with one simple answer for all: everything good will be preserved, and everything bad will be destroyed. Sounds simple enough...but is fire good or bad? *Headache*

Where Are You?

Original Wordpress post date: 8.20.10

Where are you? 

Are you up with the moon?
Are you sailing above the sea?
Are you friends with the stars,
Or high in the trees?

When the sun comes up,
Can you see it from there?
What about planets and comets
And what the angels wear?

Do you see flowers and clouds
And mist on your feet?
Or castles and towers,
Built high o'er the street?

Can you dance and sing
And speak every tongue?
Do the old and weak
Really look like the young?

I see that star
when I look out at night
I named it for you
Now that you're with the light

Those wonders and joys
I've come to adore
Now that we share them
I love them much more

When life has gone
And I breathe no more
I hope to see you,
There on that shore.

I can't wait to hear you,
speaking so clear
Never did I think
That you'd be so dear

Deep in my heart;
There you will stay
On I'll go living
Until that glad day. 

This is something I wrote tonight when I looked out at the stars and the moon. It took a bit of thought to get the rhyming, but for the most part, it just flowed freely. This one thought has stuck with me all day: Where did they go? I guess this is something I needed to express, so here it is.

Realities in Georgia

Original Wordpress post date: 8.15.10

Excerpt from a blog I've been reading about Georgia: 

"These are a list of things that are usual or normal in Georgia—at least in my experience. First of disclaimer—some of these “realities” are stereotypes and do not hold for all Georgians, so take the comments with some humor and a grain of salt. Here we go.

  • 1. Children driving cars down the village hill (actually more like starting the car to get it rolling and then turning it off to coast down the hill). Of course, this is not unlike farm kids in the US.
  • 2. “We have not such luxuries in Georgia.” – A response from a Georgian when there was mention of movies, but also applies to many aspects of American amenities.
  • 3. Turkey attacks – Yes, there are some rather large, dominant turkeys that lived on my road, and more than once was I forced to wield a long stick in order to protect myself. I may have also had to be saved by a neighbor at one point…Lesson learned: speak softly and carry a big stick applies both to politics and arming yourself against farm animals.
  • 4. Constant awkwardness. Yes, it is inevitable when you enter a village where you know no one and barely speak their language.
  • 5. Pretending you understand. Smile and nod is a way of life here sometimes. But it can also get you into trouble when you agree to marry a Georgian.
  • 6. Constant encouragement to marry a Georgian.
  • 7. Birzha and the birzha-squat. This requires a little explanation. A birzha is typically a group of men that stand around (or squat), deep in conversation, playing cards, or just watching the people pass. There can also be women birzhas or child birzhas, though they are less ubiquitous. And the birzha squat is a way of—for lack of a better word—squatting that most Georgians use if they don’t have a chair or bench. You can ask for demonstrations when I am stateside, but don’t expect much because this squat is acquired from birth.
  • 8. Injuries and illness—at least in our group of mokhalise (volunteers). For me, broken fingers. :)
  • 9. Saying things 3 times. Favorites include: Tchame, Tchame, Tchame. Dalie, Dalie, Dalie. (eat, eat,eat; drink, drink, drink).
  • 10. Animal droppings.
  • 11. Georgian hospitality.
  • 12. Constant/concerned scrutiny (but from a loving place) over everything you do in life. To understate it, Georgians are curious. And when you don’t speak the language well, your actions speak very loudly.
  • 13. Us volunteers being easily satisfied after living in the villages for 9 weeks—i.e. by hot showers.
  • 14. Living by the “gaachina” code. Gaachnia means “it depends” in Georgian and is a great way to answer questions, especially since sometimes it’s hard to boil down every American into one stereotype.
  • 15. The dative case. So, this is a little hard to explain, but in Georgian, there are cases. This means that depending on what verbs you use or how you word a sentence, the way the nouns in the sentence are said/spelled changes. Yeah, it’s fun. However, sometimes the dative form of a word is fun to say. For example, dzghals. Ok, this one might be lost in translation.
  • 16. Your music not being appreciated and soon being replaced by Georgian/Russian techno played on a cell phone (and yes, every Georgian has a better cell phone than the volunteers—though at least we have them at all!).
  • 17. Man-childs. Another Georgian phenomenon in which 16 year olds look like they are 25. Also happens with female Georgians.
  • 18. Being blessed on the way to school. As soon as you pass a bebia (grandmother) in the street and say “Gamarjoba. Rogora khar?” (Hello, how are you?), you will almost immediately be called a “kargi/kai gogo/bitchi” (good girl/boy) and be blessed.
  • 19. The stare-down. This reality happens more upon entering a village for the first time and not knowing anyone. Most of the Georgians would not initiate a hello but rather just stare at us. Now, you could respond by just staring back; hence, the stare-down. However, upon saying hello to a Georgian, he or she would probably try to strike up a long, friendly conversation.
  • 20. Chacha (very strong alcohol made from grapes) as the cure for all evils (including broken bones and the flu)."
[For a little bit more fun, here's a song I found on a Georgian radio station. Somehow I can totally see a Georgian jamming to this in a little soviet car. --Amanda]

The Characters

Original Wordpress post date: 8.12.10

David (meaning: Beloved)
Determined. Hopeless Romantic. Warm and compassionate. Patient and tolerant. Wise and witty. Very intelligent. Do or die attitude. Inquisitive and intuitive. Faithful friend. Sharp thinker. Likes to enjoy life to the fullest. Easy going. Attractive personality. Very generous. Ambitious, wanting to achieve a lot in life.

Nikki (meaning: Victory of the People)
Craves personal expression. Generally enjoys life. Very high creative and inspirational tendencies. Outstanding self-expression, regardless of field. Strives for organization and predictable order. Very ambitious. Sensitive nature. Gets jealous and angry easily. Attention seeker. Very generous. Strong character. Observant. Caring and loving.

Clever, quick, analytical mind, excellent capacity to study and learn really deep and difficult subjects. Interested in deeper aspects of life. Searches for hidden truth, pursues knowledge with vigor. Operates on a different wavelength. Can be a perfectionist. Very logical and rational approach to things. Inner turbulence because of the inability to say what they mean. Easier to express thoughts and feelings through writing. Enjoys literature, poetry, and turns to ideals when misunderstood, retreating for periods to be alone. Likes to dream and more comfortable in circumstances that tolerate reservation. Somewhat timid with strangers.

P.S. I'm thinking of naming her Charlotte instead. It means free, which I think fits the story better. Plus, Charlotte is just stuck in my head. Yet the picture seems to fit Nikki better. I'm torn. Any advice?

Eternal Youth and Beauty

Original Wordpress post date: 8.11.10

In the land of Tir na NÓg music, strength, life, and all pleasurable pursuits come together in a single place. Here happiness lasts forever; no one wants for food or drink. It's the land of eternal youth and beauty.

Many civilizations have their own versions of Tir na NÓg, dismissed by modern people as mere fairy tales and mythology, stories for children. These stories exist in the first place because "God has set eternity in the hearts of men" (Eccl. 3:11). We know that something is wrong with the world.

But exactly what does 'youth' mean? I doubt very much that we'll all be 10-year-olds. Does that mean we'll be in our twenties or thirties? I think we'll be whatever age is most appropriate for who we are. I know we grow and mature to a certain point and then just age from there. So wherever that peak point is for us, that is the 'age' that we will be.

But if a child dies, are they children all of their new life? It's one thing to be eighty on earth and have a twenty-year-old glorified body. But what about children? They never grew up to twenty-something on earth to begin with, so how could they be that mature? I'm leaning toward having children in heaven because it just makes more sense.

The Definition of Love

Original Wordpress post date: 8.8.10

I found a new song the other day that I think may work well for the story. Apparently I need to listen to the radio more often because the song has been around a while. 

I know the song is about love, but since my characters were denied romantic relationships, the strongest bond they had was each other. I think we're going to be much more affectionate in heaven, not restrained and awkward like we are now. I wanted to show a glimpse of that here on earth, and that the characters understand it. Obviously there are lines that are not crossed, they just love each other in a different way. I suppose the only thing you could call them is best friends.

A Different Kind of Nature Preserve

Original Wordpress post date: 8.7.10

A few days ago we had a very brief shower, the sun coming out afterward. It struck me how beautiful the world can be when the grass sparkles and rainbows form. Will the new earth have these wonders preserved? What about thunderstorms? They're one of the most exciting things in all of nature, but they are the result of conflict. It doesn't make sense to have conflict in a world of peace and endless joy. Does that mean everything in nature that is a result of conflict should be thrown out? One book I read theorized that God doesn't just destroy what He says is good. It's a very complicated subject, obviously, and that's just one of the millions of things I have to figure out--which is why I'm leaving that part for last. It gives me a lot of time to mill over it. Any thoughts?

From Rags to Riches

Original Wordpress post date: 8.2.10

Hello, Monday! I kind of dropped everything I was doing to go on this trip, so it's nice to get back to working on my story.

There's this one scene that I absolutely adore, and I really should make some artwork to depict it. It takes place after the children of God rise from their graves. I imagined them coming out in rags, then as they see that Christ has come back they move towards the light. When the light hits them, the rags begin to flake off, revealing white gowns underneath (maybe not gowns for the guys, but you get the idea).
As the scene progresses, Jesus is seen clearer and clearer and they begin to run to him. My ideas are all timed out to this song: My Name is Lincoln.


Original Wordpress post date: 7.24.10

The majority of my research has centered around Georgia: culture, mannerisms, language--anything I think I might need, and a whole lot that I can use that I wasn't even looking for. Thank God for youtube, too. I never would have been able to see Georgians being Georgians without it. It's naturally pretty hard to write about a country you've never been to.  I also chose to address the Russia-Georgia war in August of 2008--a topic people still debate about. I'm going to try to stay out of the politics, though, and just focus on the people affected by it. I tried to go to a different storyline when I thought that might be too tough, but it seems my heart is just set on it.

The first thing you should know is that this is a very emotional story. I really care about these characters, more than I ever have with any other story, even some from my favorite books. It's because they're based on real people, real brothers and sisters of mine. I don't want to keep everything in secrecy, but I simply can't tell anyone the true story--yet I'm trying to be honest, so just bear with me, and maybe someday you'll know what's really going on in my head.

Maybe I can take a chance and explain a little bit to you. When I express Nikki's feelings of pain and heartache during some of the scenes in the winter, it's based on how I felt this past winter, hurt and broken. When she looks up at the sky in wonder, it's because I'm doing that all the time as well. When David tells her to live her life to the fullest, maybe it's because I need someone to tell me that. Since David is based on a real person who really lived, and really died, it's a difficult story to write. Without getting too specific, my own feelings about him and death and life and pretty much everything else is all over this story. It oozes misery and joy at the same time, perhaps because I'm a moody person who can be dancing in the rain one day and crying in the dark the next. The truth is that the universe is made up of opposites: good and evil, happiness and sadness, life and death...the list is endless. So I hope that this story is made up of both, because as everyone knows, life is not always a bed of roses.