Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

God's Child at Play



That’s what’s going on today.

I’m playing with my wonderful computer graphics-making program –
A pursuit I so love to do! Create bright designs,
Mix swirls, diddle with colors and shapes.

God the Creator of All Things made me to be an imitator of Him.
Therefore, it’s part of my nature to be creative.
Is it okay, then, to take time to make – or look at – beautiful things?

When –
Into impotency, today.
Oh, woe!

So, do I have a right to “play”?

There are people starving,
Those who’ve never heard the gospel “good news”,
And not enough dedicated missionaries to speak of it all.
Global economy is bitter,
Natural resources are ravaged,
Not enough money for fuel in winter.
Wars and rumors of war,
Natural disasters and toxic spills;
And predictions of apocalypse.
Oh, woe!

Should I not expend my limited energy
By somehow lending a helping hand?
Might I be a peacemaker or a compassion-consoler?
Write helpful letters, or give away food?

Oh, how can my art make a difference for the people
And places of the world, helping to usher in what Jesus proclaimed:
“I am the light of the world.”
“My kingdom is not of this world.”
“In the world you have tribulation, but I (Christ) have overcome the world.”

And here I sit, “playing” little arty games.
Am I showing signs that I’m overcoming the world?
Sometimes, taking time to work on art makes me feel guilty.
Ought I to be doing more for others?
How else will they know the love of my blessed Savior?
Oh, woe!

But, “They also serve who stand and wait”.
And there is the strong power of prayer!
Communion with Almighty God.

No woe!

We need “playing” when it becomes worship.
Making beautiful things may bring new vision to the hopeless,
And bright colors might lift sad souls out of depression.
And a quiet time with God may freshly empower me.
“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

May I always play His songs (and not discordant expression)
Through the instrument He’s given me of creating art.
And may he get all the glory, not me!
Let me never forget I’m God’s child at play.

(c) 2012 by Marilee Miller

This post is also shared with "Seedlings in Stone"
and "The Wellspring"

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Playing with a Turnip



Since getting a digital camera some years ago, sometimes getting a meal can take a long, but pleasant, time!
(I have to have my play-place, and my pastime!)

1. Wash turnip.
2. Listen to the slurp slurp of fresh, flowing tap water. Be mindful of the roundy feel, and the weight, of a turnip. Count up all those who bring us that turnip: the farmer or gardener, the harvester, the truck drivers, the warehouse personnel, the grocery store clerks.
3. Thank God for the availability of food, and for the nutrition in healthy food that fuels our bodies. Thank Him for convenient kitchens. Thank him for turnips that can be cooked without seasoning and then go with just about any dish’s seasoning. Thank God for not having to go hungry.
4. Get out cutting board and knife. Chop turnip into wedges. If center crown is interesting, cut the wedges in a pattern which saves the top features -- in a square, or a triangle, perhaps. Slice the top from the rest of the wedge.
5. Enjoy the purple tinges of the skin. Think about the contrast between the white flesh and the purple (lilac?) skin. Listen to the thump thump of the knife as it cuts the turnip. See – really see – the neat wedges (their shapes, sizes, the way they topple to the cutting board.)
6. Thank God for good ears to hear that knife snick snicking, and eyes that love beauty-things – yes, even turnips! Maybe sing paeons of praise to Our Creator for knives and utensils and cutting boards and countertops, and other useful things.
7. Arrange wedges artistically. Lay the cut-off top on an interesting surface. Photograph the wedges, then the top. Build a memory of beauty-making.
8. Cut wedges into slices. See how the purple tones (lilac?) become rich patterns. Revel in the way the slices fall to the cutting board in a different mannerr than the wedges did.
9. Be the artist arranging the slices to have their picture(s) taken. More memories of an indulgent time, captured!
10. Peel the slices. Notice that the colors are gradiated. Marvel at the sight of peelings falling to the cutting board in arched curves. Explore in mind the way the parings separate from the whitey flesh.
11. Thank the good Lord for memories in the making. Thank Him for hands that do as you command them. Thank Him for having the time to notice the interesting feel of a knife in hand as it skillfully carves off the parings. Offer praises to Him for those graceful arcs lying on the board.
12. Arrange the peelings in quirky or interesting designs. Be the little child for a moment. Photograph those foodly scribbles. Don’t forget to memorize the patterns.
13. Dice the peeled slices. Scrape them off the cutting board onto a plate, or directly into a microwave-safe bowl. Or maybe, if there’s time, transfer them from one plate or bowl to another, just to see the emphasis made by differently colored dishes. What do you see? Aren’t there clever shadows around some of the little cubes? How do the fleshy-whites either contrast with colors, or emboss white-on-white? Is imagination strong enough to behold little building blocks, or strange-ish sugar cubes, or at least some interesting layouts or textures? Concentrate on the feel of a knife-wielding hand dicing the flesh. Ponder how hefting the bowl makes wrist and hand muscles contract with strength, to bear the weight.
14. Thank the Heavenly Father for everything seen, felt, and thought about this step.
15. Photograph the bowl(s) of diced turnip. Add the picures to a scrapbook-in-mind.
16. Add some water to the bowl. Lay a plate loosely over bowl, leaving a steam hole. Microwave until turnip pieces are tender.
17. I’ll let you decide how the cooked turnip will become part of your meal. (Some of the ways I serve boiled turnip: 1. As a separate vegetable, with cinnamon, ginger, and melted low-cal imitation butter. 2. Stir into non-fat yogurt flavored with Splenda artificial sugar and a little vanilla – on a bagel spread with peanut butter. 3. Add more volume and nutrition to a pizza or spaghetti. 4. Make the turnip part of a chicken and vegetable dish with classic oriental sauce.
18. Oh yes, and thank God for the ability to fix an interesting and creative supper! And don’t forget to appreciate the way it’s possible to worship the Maker of the Universe (and of turnips) while playing with food – er, preparing a meal!

This post is also shared with "Seedlings in Stone" and "The Wellspring"

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Convenience vs Risk

Convenience, or Risk?

Above are some intriguing landscapes. But wait – they weren’t taken with a camera. I made them with Terrragen, a terrain-generating computer program. Machine-made art. So clever. Software that’s so much fun to play with. However, there are machine-made arts that may seem helpful, even intriguing, but the after-results are not pleasant little landscapes.

“Facebook Is Using You” – that’s the title of an article by Lori Andrews, in The New York Times. The author says, “Facebook’s inventory consists of personal data – yours and mine… The magnitude of online information Facebook has about each of us for targeted marketing is stunning. In Europe, laws give people the right to know what data companies have about them, but that is not the case in the United States.”

Google, and countless other companies, sift through the data from e-mails, web-visits, and online searches. Then they sell ads targeted to individual interests. For example, if a user writes about, or searches for info about health, ads for medications and treatments appear on-screen.

But there’s a lot more at stake here than us getting bombarded with ads. According to Lori Andrews’ findings, the collected data may be used against people seeking child custody or criminal defense, allows government agents to find out what uses people make of social networks, agencies such as the IRS and the Immigration Service to look for evidence. Employers may reject interviewees based on data found online. An application for credit may be cancelled, not because of any personal history, but because of “aggregate data,” meaning a group of people with similar buying habits have been found unreliable as credit risks.

Andrews points out that data-aggregators may consider our searches out of curiosity or research as part of our own set of habits. “Because no laws regulate what types of data these aggregators can collect, they make their own rules,” writes Andrews.

There’s no question that the internet is a great and wonderful service. It’s changed the way we do business, affected our leisure time, and opened up a world of knowledge and interaction. But using the world wide web is also rupturing our right to privacy. How do we weigh the advantages of convenience against the risks of being stereotyped and tracked – spied on? Machines, deciding our future. Depersonalization. De-humanization? And all for the motive of more profits for certain companies. Do we really want our futures damaged by a few words taken out of context from a supposedly private e-mail? How do we combat the potential harm of machine-fortune-tellers broadcasting our “aggregate” fate?

For me, this issue calls for much contemplation – and prayer. How can I be as careful as possible? Is there a way to leave a low footprint on the web? And, will I, will we, know when it’s time to get off the net completely before “they”, whoever “they” may be, come after me, after you, after us?

A man from a persecuted nation once said something to the effect of -- “I’m willing to die for Jesus’ sake, but I’m not willing to die for my own stupidity of saying too much to the wrong people.”

I appeal to a higher power, Almighty God, the Lord of the Universe. May he give each of us the wisdom to know Him personally, and to “seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Only thus may we engage in our “playdates with God,” our prayers, our respite from the buffeting from the world. Our refreshment and restoration – our present and our future – is in Him.

“Facebook Is Using You” –

This post is also shared with "Seedlings in Stone"
and "The Wellspring"

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