His Words

I love how you can read something in the Bible 100 times, but at certain moments in life, those words suddenly take on a new meaning.  That happened to me the other day.

I’ve still been struggling with anxiety, it’s better controlled that what it was, but it’s still an effort on my part to keep it in check.  It hasn’t gotten to the point where I need to seek help for it – yet – but I am willing to do that if this keeps up.

The verse came out of Proverbs 31 — you know, the passage that describes the most amazing godly woman/wife.

“She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31:25)

A godly woman should “laugh at the days to come.”  Why?  Because the Lord is taking care of it.  She’s not concerning herself with it because her strength and dignity come from Him.  It covers her, like clothes.  I don’t always feel very strong or dignified, and honestly, I fret at the days to come — especially at work — did I do this right?  Should I have done this instead?  What if I didn’t catch something I needed to…..blah blah blah.  It’s quite exhausting, really.  And as a Christian woman, I need to change my internal dialogue to giving it to the Lord and resting in Him.

Continuing with my German reading, I was further amused to see the German translation of this verse:

“Kraft und Schoene sind ihr Gewand, und sie lacht des kommenden Tages.”
“Power and beauty are her garb, and she laughs of the coming days.”

In English, it says she “can laugh” – like it’s a choice whether to laugh or not.  In German, it’s present tense and active: she laughs.  Sometimes German speaks so much more emotion than we can ever fit into English translations!

I also appreciated God’s Word translation:
“She dresses with strength and nobility, she smiles at the future.”

I, too, smile towards the future.  What will it bring?  God’s promises, that I’m sure of.  His plans are better than mine.  Come what may, I have the Lord to uphold me.

In the meantime, I’m going out shopping today.  I need to find some strength, dignity, power, beauty, and nobility to wear.

Speaking German in Germany….or not.

After spending the last year or so trying to learn German, I suddenly felt like this trip to Germany was my final exam.  I was sweating as we approached the immigration officer  in Customs after we stepped off the plane into Germany — I practiced it in my head 100 times: “Wir werden 5 tage lange bleiben.” – we will stay 5 days.  The guy looked at us and stamped our passports in silence.  Well, okay then.

After we got to our hostel, most of everything was in English.  The staff spoke fluent English.  They spoke better English than some people who live in North Carolina (correct use of the verb tense!).  Every restaurant we went to had menus in English!  I was disappointed.  Granted, as a guest in a foreign country, it was so kind to be spoken to in my native tongue.  But still, I was determined to speak to these people in their native tongue, so I did.  Stupid Germans and their hospitality: I’d ask something in German and receive a reply in English.  Seriously?  Can you smell the Yank on me?  The answer was yes.  They did humor me a bit: I asked where to buy stamps and later figured out I had asked where I could sell stamps.  Oops.  I also ordered a glass of water and the waiter brought me white wine.  Oops again.  He was not as amused.

Eventually I gave up and started saying please and thank you in German.  I have a long way to go to master this language.  And it inspired me to take a German I at the community college next semester – it can only help.  I need to practice talking with people – I think that’s where my biggest mistake was.  Computers and people are very different when learning a language.  Rosetta Stone was a great resource, but not everyone speaks with the clarity and e-nun-see-a-tion of someone who made callbacks for the recording session.  All the language learning websites I read said just to go out and start speaking in the country – which I did – but I hate failing.  I also need to be prodded to learn the grammar behind everything.  I’m much more of a “oh, it’ll come with time” kind of person.  German for me is going to be a lifelong project.

Land of the free, home of the brave

I love how every time I plan to go to Europe, something happens.  Shoe bombs? Why, yes, I’ll take off my shoes at security, circa 2004.  Subway bombings?  I’ll be riding them within the month, as I did in 2005.  Of course I’ll stow all my liquids in a cute little baggie in 2006.  And I am not on a no-fly list, here is all of my information Mr. Airline – in 2009.

And now this.  All the civil unrest in the Muslim world and where am I heading?  Germany.  They overtook the German Embassy in Sudan, which is a far cry from Berlin proper, but I must say I am slightly alarmed at everything that is going on.  I’ve been reading the Berliner Zeitung (Berlin Newspaper) and so far, all’s quiet on the western front (please ignore the WWI pun).  I went to CNN today to see there are riots now in Australia.  Good grief.

I must say, though, despite the chaotic world we live in, I have never had any sort of problem overseas <insert knocking on wood here>.  I remember seeing a solider with a large machine gun on a street in London’s east end while I was there in 2004 – that was a sight to behold!  And even then, in “downtown London” there was a huge protest against America; they claimed absurd things like President Bush was killing babies and protested our paradoxical oil interests.  Some of it was true, some of it wasn’t.  I ignored all of it by walking on the opposite side of the street.

It’s often been said to me while traveling in the post-9/11 world to downplay the fact I’m an American.  “Say you’re from Canada,” various advisors said.  Like most in America, people assume one person or group speaks for the entire population.  “Oh, you’re from America so you think you’re better than everyone else.  You hate Muslims.  Your country has no business being in Afghanistan, you just want everyone to be like you.”  It’s much like how the south is characterized by a bunch of uneducated rednecks.  And there are some out there, believe me, but the vast majority of people here are not only educated to some degree, but also incredibly kind.  This time, however, I find myself trying to figure out ways to not only distance myself from my American citizenship, but also my religion.  I’m not wearing the cross I usually wear when traveling, nor am I bringing a Bible or my journal (too much to pack, really).  The small purse I’m bringing says “Wrightsville Beach, NC” on it and now I’m going to try to find one that doesn’t have writing on it.  I don’t want to draw attention to the fact that I am not from there.  Or than I’m a “practicing” Christian.

The one thing I have going for me is my face.  A friend of mine who immigrated here from Southeast Asia once commented that I don’t look American.  My features are very chiseled, my eyes are deep set, and I have a straight brow and a large nose: I look very German (thank you Great-Grandma Magdalena and Great-Great-Grandma Julia).  My husband, took after his mom’s side which is all Polish (mixed with Scot-Irish), so he looks European.  And I can speak a little German, not very well, but I could get us around.  I hope. “I’m going to blow my cover the moment I open my mouth, ” says The General, who’s very American accent is a mix of northeastern slang and southern drawl.  “I’m just not going to say anything and let you do all the talking.”  The General is very worried he won’t be able to read a menu or find things in a store because of the language barrier.  This coming from the guy who navigated Stockholm like it was his hometown.

There’s a lot of anxiety on this trip.  I keep pulling The General out of his comfort zone – and mine as well.  The Islamic world is on fire and I hope we don’t get caught in the cross-hairs of unfriendly retribution because of what my passport says.  I’ve never been to Berlin before.  We’re going to a country that speaks the language of our ancestors, but my only training is from a high school German class 15 years ago, Jersey Shore, learning modules on Rosetta Stone, and random German TV shows.  Needless to say, I sent an itinerary to our friends and family in the unlikely event the fit hits the shan.

Nonetheless, I plan to fall more deeply in love with Ireland and embrace Germany like it is an old friend.  I love adventure and this trip is surely going to bring it.

Jersey Shore auf Deutsch

Never in my wildest dreams have thought that I, a Christian/college educated/professional woman, would ever watch Jersey Shore, let alone watch it with a notebook and writing stuff down.  Ah, the joys of watching trashy American TV with German subtitles!  Because my job is so cerebral, I think this is a great way to unwind.  Is it wholesome?  Not in the least.  But it lets my mind go.  So far I’ve learned useful phrases such as:

“Ruf ein Taxi!” Call a cab!

“Vinny ist weg!” Vinny is gone!

“Wie findest du die brueste?” What do you think of the boobs?

“Poppen” – a vulgar term for sex.  (My translation software didn’t even know it.  I had to google it and find it on an urban dictionary.)

It’s slowly coming together, but it is nice to see how things translate.  I keep hitting pause so I can use my software to further translate.  Some other things I have noticed about Jersey Shore, now that I’m through half a season:

  • For people who have a beach house, they are never at the beach.  What is up with that?  I’d be out there all the time.  My camera crew would be sunburnt.
  • Why on earth would you tan in a bed when you have a beach house?  Or go to gym?   Hello!  Morning run on the beach?
  • I know there are guys out there who pull girls from clubs, take them home, and then call them a cab before the sun rises.  I just never expected to see it on TV every time they go out clubbing. Which is every night.  Good grief, they must be tired.
  • I wonder if MTV gives them STD checks/test every few weeks.  Because they should.
  • I never realized how common weave/extensions were.  They’re so expensive!
  • I know, especially from my younger days, it’s fun to get dressed up and go out clubbing.  But every night at the same few spots?  I’d get bored.  Also, there’s no way I could drink that much.  The enzyme doo-dad that breaks down alcohol is not plentiful in my body.  I have a low tolerance and I aim to keep it that way.  These guys are professionals.
  • They work at a t-shirt shop on the boardwalk – this is the closest they come to the beach on film – and they either don’t show up, show up late, or go AWOL.  I know it’s not a “real job” and they have contracts with MTV, but still……it just shows poor character in my opinion.
  • The only thing they take seriously on the show is drinking.
  • I could never hang out at the house.  I would not have sex with any of them.  I would not (and could not) drink with them every night.  I have very little tolerance for drama in my face.  I’d turn into den mom/buzz kill.
  • They don’t do dishes and apparently MTV does not have a maid come in either, so their kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it — I’d be cleaning the entire time.  I’d be excited for everyone to go to the club so I could sweep and vacuum.  OMG, I’d be the old lady.
  • One of the hilarious lost-in-translation bits is “The Jersey Turnpike Dance:” to do this you put your hands on the floor and shake your butt in the air.  I only know this because I looked it up on the internet.  Jersey Turnpike Dance does not translate.  They call it “bück-dich-tanz:” literately the “bend-you-[over]-dance.” It’s stuff like that I’m trying to get a handle on — some things just don’t translate.  At all.

HE HAS RISEN!

It’s Easter.  I should be at church.  But I’m not.

I got up early yesterday to freeze my butt off in my 1st 5k of the year. Early is 0630.  It’s especially early when you don’t leave work until 2300. I attempted a nap, but sleep failed to come.  The weekends at work tend to be crazy, and I need sleep.  I would have loved to have gone to a sunrise service at the beach – something I’ve never done – but going on a few hours sleep when my day off isn’t for another 5 days didn’t sound fun.  So while Jesus and the sun rose, I slept.  It doesn’t help that The General is at work.

I’m in between churches at the moment too.  I’m not sure where I belong.  I need more information about the new church before I really become invested.  My old church is awesome, but there will be about 12,000,000 people there for each of their services and I don’t feel like being the salmon trying to go upstream.  And I’m a bit sick of being alone in a crowd.

As I’m waiting for my coffee to be done, I feel like I should have gone somewhere.  Why?  It’s Easter.  I don’t go to church on Christmas because of the crowds (and that work thing).  As I’m sitting here thinking I should have gone to the one in my backyard, and my phone bings.  My Bible app messaged me.

While the Bible I read is in English, I changed the app settings to be in German – I figured I could navigate it and learn some new German words at the same time.  The text was in German.  I was able to translate the 1st part, but needed translation software for the 2nd.  It read:

“Er ist auferstanden!  Lies den Benricht und feiere!” — He has risen!  Read the report and celebrate!

The Lord makes me smile.  Stop sitting there hemming and hawing about where you didn’t go for church!  Pick up your Bible, read the accounts and be joyful that Jesus died for yours (and everyone’s!) sins!  And I’m going to do just that!

It was also nice to wake up and come down to an Easter basket filled with all sorts of chocolate and a card from my General, thanking me to for helping him walk with God.  Melted my heart.  I got him an Easter basket, too.  While I didn’t put any candy in there (his weight is starting to concern him, since he’s not running due to a nerve in foot injury), I did put 2 plastic eggs and 2 of his newly favorite craft beers from a local store he couldn’t stop raving about.  I wrote a note on a piece of scratch paper: He has risen!

The General wrote back: the Easter bunny and Jesus loves us both.

So true.

“If Christ hasn’t come back to life, our message has no meaning and your faith also has no meaning.” (1 corinthians 15:14)

IDKWYM

I’m only 30.  I still feel young.  I still look young.  I have a better body now than I did at 22.

In any case, it’s come to my attention that I am old.  I’m out of touch with what the kids are doing.  I suddenly feel like I’m using a 14.4 modem with the internet slang out there.  Do kids these days even know what a modem is, er, was?  Oh, I remember when I upgraded to a 56.6……

Part of learning German lead me to MTV.de — Germany’s version of MTV.  It’s the same show as in the States, with German subtitles.  Sweet.  Where could I find a show that speaks in slow sentence fragments?  Jersey Shore.  It’s much more interesting with the subtitles, because English does not translate into German perfectly. I like it in German, it’s simplified.  We use way too many words in English.  I’ve picked up useful phrase like, “Freue mich” which means “I am pleased” when someone says “nice to meet you.”  (And the “nice to meet you” is on a dance floor at a club.  Take it as you will.)  While I spent time in ROTC and the medical field, I’m quite used to acronyms.  They started throwing around DTF.  “This girl was so DTF.” The Germans translated it as “willing.”  Hmph.  Here I am, a native English speaker, googling my own language because I find something I can’t understand.  Yup, translated as “willing,” all right.  Wow.  If they were any more forward, they’d be in tomorrow.

My niece Martha, who just turned 13, posts on Facebook quite a bit, and today she posted, “Like my status for a TBH, pleeeeeze!!!”  After my Jersey Shore acronym debacle, I quickly googled it to figure out what it meant.  It means “To Be Honest” – so whomever “likes” her status, she will post on your wall something along the lines of, “tbh, you’re an amazing singer and you’re always there when I need someone to talk to, blah blah blah.”  Basically, you complement the person.  How freakin’ awesome, especially when you’re in middle school.  I suddenly felt like my mom when she found these different colored balls in my sister’s sock drawer – she thought they were designer drugs – my dad confirmed them to be paintballs.

So, TBH IDKWYM.
To be honest, I don’t know what you mean.

Just Say No

I love trying new foods from different countries….and now that I am currently seeking treatment for a Nutella addiction, I figured I should branch out a bit.

World Market has some of this stuff called Marmite aka Vegemite that is popular in Britian, New Zealand, and Australia.  It’s a vegetable spread that is made from what’s left over of the yeasty stuff when making beer.  A native New Zealander said it was amazing, so I bought some.  An itty bitty jar cost $5 for 125g, but I figured, why not?

We got home and I immediately tried it on a cracker.

I don’t think I have ever tasted something so awful in my life.  I think the worst part of it was leaving the hoppy taste in my mouth and was unable to find anything to get rid of it with……old tea, water, and a plain cracker helped. Oh my.

Even The General was a little squeamish about it and he loves thick hoppy beers.

So if you come to my house, you will be offered a bit of Marmite on a cracker; it will be for my entertainment if you have the same reaction I did or if you love it, well, you just got yourself a free jar of Marmite.

Tonight’s dinner is a also a conglomeration of cultures: Low Country and German.  The menu includes crab cakes from the kitchen of Chef General and Spaetzle Casserole with swiss cheese and sauteed onions by yours truly.

Neue Deutsche Härte

I found this awesome new band, Eisbrecher aka Ice Breaker while listening to a Rammstein Pandora channel.  I love Rammstein, although their lyrics are pretty hardcore at points, the sound is amazing.  I never realized that Rammstein is its own genre: Neue Deutsche Haerte or New German Hardness.  It’s a mix of electronica, heavy metal, and rock with the lyrics in German and some English thrown in here and there.  From the little I have listened to, they lyrics aren’t as bad as Rammstein, but I definitely wouldn’t put them anywhere near a Christian category.  I’ve learned such words as “schwartze witwe” — black widow; “narkotisch” — narcotics.  Again, like Rammstein, to learn the language using the lyrics to get around isn’t a good idea.

I totally forgot I had this audio book on learning key German phrases for the traveller – it’s 50 minutes long with the line in English, German, and then a pause so you can say it. I really suck at the tongue of my ancestors so far, I am slaughtering the language while listening to it in the car. I figure on my commute to work I will try to do something useful instead of belting out Rammstein lyrics.  Although it is a good remedy after a bad night!

My favorite German word so far?  Flug.  Pronounced “Flewg.”  It means “flight” as in, “What time does the flight arrive?”  Listening to a native German say it cracks me up everytime.

The best song I’ve come across is Fanatica (Fanatic).