Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Terrain Generator


I’ve been playing with the first steps of Terragen Classic*, a freebie computer graphics “terrain generator”. Fortunately, I don’t have to understand the program’s mathematical algorithms that mystically produce hills, valleys, skies, and waters. I only have to imagine viewing scenes through a camera lens -- with numbers and buttons which mimic camera height and angle, lighting, coloration, water effects, etc.

The first step generates an on-screen pattern. The pattern seems to bear no resemblance to what will become the finished rendering. But it’s actually an altitude map. Whites are hills; grays are middle grounds; darks (or blue, as shown here) are low ground. Arrows mark the camera position and the parts of the pattern -- the altitudes -- the “camera” will see.

Random patterns are generated at each session. Therefore it appears that an almost limitless number of different scenes could be rendered.

I used the same pattern for all the scenes shown here. Settings for camera height and angle are the same, but a few other settings have been changed to give different views. The land portions in these frames are all of gray rock (the default), only because I haven’t learned yet to use options such as grass, brown earth, snow, sunsets, tropical settings.)

Often I don’t understand the lights and darks, highs and lows, in the pattern of my life. From my limited perspective, I know (yes, even fear) my ongoing landscape will hold many surprises and strange encounters – and probably some faded colors or ugly lines. However, I like to allow my playing with Terragen to remind me that God is never surprised by what happens to me. He knows exactly how to refine me into the “true me” that he desires me to be.

He who created me in the first place, has not only created my pattern, but is capable of reading it, and continuing to write it in/on/through me.

“He who began a good work in you will see it through to completion…”

This post is shared with L. L. Barkat, “Seedlings in Stone”
And Laura Boggess’ “The Wellspring.

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Friday, January 20, 2012


This post is shared with
three from here & there
prompt: "anatomy"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Grief and Joy


(this is my response to a post by Ted Gossard, "Sadness and Grieving", )


I don’t know where people get the idea that Christians are to be joyful all the time -- or even that this is really possible. However, there’s a difference between being blissfully elated, and choosing to rejoice in the midst of trouble, just because God is mighty, and nothing is too difficult for him.

We are all made differently. Some people are so focused on themselves that they either can’t, or won’t, see that others are afraid or sad or grieving. Their whole world seems to revolve around their own need for attention. That isn’t good. Others of us are so sensitive we hurt too much and too often, both for ourselves and for others. But I would rather be a weeper identifying with the sufferings of God’s people, than a clod who didn’t, or wouldn’t CARE about anyone but “self”!

The Bible says God keeps our tears in a bottle. Also, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” So it isn’t “unChristian” to grieve. As we get older, many of us have “seen and heard too much”. Injustices, wars, selfishness, arrogance, pride, physical and mental and spiritual suffering. How could we not be affected enough to keep crying out to God for his mercy for us and for everyone?

Since I entered the world of blogging, I’ve been amazed at the number of people who describe their hurts and wounds. Some people have been through such horrendous experiences. How could we not mourn with them? Or identify with what they face? (Insofar as we’re able to grasp the emotions of their pain because we ourselves have hurt or grieved or suffered.)

When I hurt in any way, I want to cry out to God for help. While asking for his strength and help and mercy for me, I’m also trying to ask him to come to the assistance of everyone else who faces my kind of needs.

When I ache physically – that he might heal and touch and comfort and bless everyone with physical maladies.
When my energy is too low for bodily comfort – that he might strengthen and energize everyone who feels that way.
When I’ve lost sight of my hopes and dreams – that he may work out his dreams in me and in everyone else who has lost something precious.
When I’m confused, or broken-hearted – that he will bring clarity and comfort to all who need such ministries.

Joy, for me, is not a happy-go-lucky attitude. There is a sort of joy in ENDURANCE -- just having gotten through another day. Meanwhile, I need to ponder a heaven at the end of the road, where life will no longer be so tough. Where there will be no sorrow or pain or tears. It doesn’t come naturally to me to genuinely rejoice in the midst of deepest sorrows. I do, however, CHOOSE to attempt to be content in all things, trusting my Maker to lead me in his ways. That doesn’t mean my feelings always change to joyful thoughts. But yet will I ask him to enable me to praise him intention-ly, even when my feelings don’t line up.

“If you suffer with him, you shall reign with him.” In comfortable churches, I doubt if preachers preach on that text very often. (Though I imagine it’s a powerful theme in the persecuted church.) But it gives me hope that my joy doesn’t depend on having a naturally sunny outlook on life. But Jesus Christ is my joy.

How thankful I am that when we don’t know how to pray, when we don’t know how to feel “spiritual” (by our own definition) or emotionally joyful, that the Holy Spirit intercedes to the Father with groanings too deep for words. Thus, in my distress I participate in Christ’s sufferings – and hope in his resurrecting power. And even trouble or difficulty can become a place of worship and a way to turn more closely to Jesus Christ. I’m also thankful to consider that one day, “sorrow and mourning shall fade away.”

This post is linked to L. L. Barkat and Laura Boggess

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Doodling to Restore My Spirit

Doodling to Restore My Spirit

Last week I read a book about getting past the excuses people used to keep from exercising their gifts of creativity. Unfortunately, it seemed to me the author was implying that following “her way” quite specifically, was the only, or at least the best, way to unstick any creative block. Some of her advice troubled me: Get up a half-hour earlier so there would be more time… Keep working so many minutes or hours even when not feeling inspired Focus on enlarging your activities… Take your responsibility for using creative gifts instead of letting fear or "self-talk" stop you… Only work on (and think about) one type of project, not diffuse your energies by trying to go in too many directions.

These suggestions left me in a desolate mood. They were so NOT ME! For they treated not using the creative gift as laziness, fear, or negative self-talk. But they didn’t take into account that one might have actual health problems, or commitments that couldn’t be broken, either of which would forestall long hours devoted to creative pursuits

And I AM an experimenter, not a highly-focused-on-one-thing person. Some of my most satisfying hours are spent thinking about a project in one area, while actually working on an activity in a very different genre. I even admit that I actually enjoy thinking about making art or writing stories, mulling over ideas and images in my head, far more than the actual labor of "carrying them through."

A blog post that came to my inbox, and also an essay in The Curator* about daydreaming and listening times being a valid part of the creative process -- restored my good spirits. So I made a choice to ignore what I perceived as threats (from the book’s “how-to’s”). Rather than pine over complicated projects that I didn’t have time and energy for, I celebrated the capability to sketch some quicky doodles with colored marking pens. Fine art, it wasn’t. But it satisfied my urge to create. The activity also gave me back my self-respect and restored my peace with God. Thank you, Lord, for the creative ways you enter our space to redeem us!


This post is shared with L. L. Barkat and Laura Boggess
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hope Makes Me Laugh

Note: My cat – Hope -- is a beautiful half-tailed Manx (with a very slight knob on the end of her stubby tail).

Hope Makes Me Laugh

Sometimes our daily life seems dreary, and oh-so-serious. We “labor and are heavy laden.” We don’t smile as often as we should. Often, we aren’t even aware that what we really need to chase away the heaviness, is a great, good laugh.

A tired day for me. Life feels overwhelming.
There’s a low footstool in the bathroom, covered by the folded bath-mat-rug.
Hope loves to follow me from room to room. She suddenly materializes onto the mat-covered stool. Watching me intently. Ready for me to notice her.
Hoping to be petted, I think – given a hearty chin rub.
But she’s not turned the right direction. Her head isn’t close enough for me to reach.
Hope adopts an “oh well, never mind” posture. Ignores me. Begins licking herself clean.

Cats are certainly flexible! Her hind feet/haunches face one way;
Her head and upper body are parallel to them but completely turned the other way.
Tail east, head west.

Suddenly, she stops all activity. Looking intently at something.

Ah, there is –
"Oh, there's that strange thing again.” Her posture seems to hint that she’s noticed it for the first time. (Though of course she’s seen it many times before.)
“Why, look at that!”
“There’s that waggy thing with the knot on the end!"

She makes a dive for the knot.
Of course, as she’s on her feet, there’s no way a half-tailed Manx can catch her own tail!

She tumbles over on her side, reaching again for it.
But being so large (she weighs 15 pounds), she runs out of stool to support her.
Topples off, hind end first.
Hope swivels in mid-air to catch herself to land on her front paws.
But there’s a small bucket next to the stool.
She comes down, all off-balance, with her head in the little bucket.
Her haunches and body weight hang over the edge -- which of course tips over the bucket.

Zoom. She backslides, power-slithering her way out of the bucket.
Scoots out of the room as if chased by the bogeyman.

Am I rude, to laugh prolongedly and chuckle outright all the time she’s chasing her tail and tumbling into the bucket and scampering away?

Hope will soon forget her undignified fall. She’ll forget that a half-tailed Manx never wins the game of “catch my tail.” But I’m given a great and precious gift. It changes my outlook on the whole day – when Hope makes me laugh!

This post is shared with Laura Boggess and L. L. Barkat

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