Sunday, July 31, 2005

Helpless

My brother-in-law, RJ, was admitted to Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts twice today and is still there. He is deathly allergic to bees and was stung on his neck while my sister was away visiting with a friend. She happened to come home within minutes of when it happened and was able to call 911 and drove in the ambulance to the ER with him. It is only a miracle to know she was there to call. After four hours and many drugs later he was released.

RJ and Cyndi returned home only to witness RJ relapse and have to be taken back to the ER again. The allergic reaction was internal as well as external, and he has taken a lot of medicines to help stabilize him. My sister is very shaken, but doing ok. He will be discharged probably in the early hours of the morning. I am glad to know he is stable and as of this moment doing ok. Please keep him and my sister in your prayers. I am beyond upset and feel completely helpless being so far away. I will try to update later tomorrow.

A Place

There is a place beyond what is seen that shines with radiance and glory. Although it can’t be felt, touched, or moved, it is real, for I have been there. It is beyond these human qualities in so that it is sensed and experienced in the soul. It is a safe place where evil is intolerable, pain is unfathomed, and tears are only wept in happiness. Nothing can destroy what is pure, honest, and true. There are no battles, no wars, no fighting, but peace. Connecting radiance to earth are simple joys reminding us of a deeper existence: a baby’s laughter, the stars, and such things as music. This place is not trapped in a child’s utopian-minded book of fairies and princesses. It is within each one of us waiting to be noticed. Waiting to be explored, and waiting to be lived in.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Memory Lane, ACU Texas


I was at Abilene Christian University today and took a walk around campus. It has been almost a year since I visited and everything looks so beautiful and still familiar. I could almost sense all my college friends walking with me to chapel, waiting on the bench right near the fountain before we went to eat lunch, and sitting with all the chairs grouped up laughing as it echoes in the Bible Building's hall of servants.

I walked by Gardner Hall and heard the laughter as we ran up and down the halls playing pranks on each other and getting the latest news on who is dating whom. I was almost in a trance-like state when I entered the Quiet Rooms and listened to the fountain as the water glistened over the stone. It looks like liquid gold. I starred at the figure of the man holding both arms up to the heavens. His eyes were closed and the intense look reminded me of all the prayers I said by myself and with others within these walls. Prayers pleading for a deeper understanding of who God is. We said prayers for peace, comfort, and strength. I walked through the building and looked at all the rooms. When passing each door I remembered the professor, the class, the fellow students, and all the good and bad times that went on inside. I remember group projects, working weeks and weeks on Exegesis papers, going to chapel and sitting in the same section, same row, with the same girls, for 4 years, I remember going to class and learning about and praying on September 11, 2002, I remember people I should have made time to know, but didn’t. But the journey 7 years ago when I started freshmen year is like mine today, brief and purposeful.

In the last two years I have grown the equivalent of twenty. I want to soak in every good moment. There is no way to hold on to a good moment. The only way to make the best of it is when you’re in it, live it. My expedition doesn’t end with leaving ACU, although I may be back getting my masters before I know it, but life keeps going even when there is sadness or happiness.

Noticing a group of potential college students, I decided to sit and watch them. They flocked out of the Campus Center being as loud as possible, jumping up and down, and competing for each other’s attention. I almost could see myself within the group next to the guy with baggy jeans and spiky hair. When you live through pain and sorrow you begin to remember the happy things. The small things. There has never been another time in my life where I felt so free, alive, supported, and challenged than while at ACU. It is a blessing and has shaped in me a foundation that will affect me forever.

Prayer Needed

These past few days have been extremely hard to say the least. But for some reason I know it is all going to be ok. I have peace in my heart and no matter what happens to me over these next weeks, I have to get through it.

I am especially concerned for a friend of mine, Laura. She battled cancer about 2 years ago and has been cancer free for almost 21 months. Recently, in the midst of happy life events (buying a house and being in a relationship heading towards marriage) she has been experiencing some symptoms that are causing worry, anxiety, and stress. The earliest she can get scanned is in the middle of August. Her experience with treatments, surgeries, and ongoing symptoms in the past give little ease to the “what if” questions she asks herself everyday. I know that life is filled with things out of our control. I don’t know why bad things happen to the most undeserving people. I want to pray for her and her family. I ask for you to join me by praying or even writing a comment to her (she checks this blog) or post to hers: LINK. Pray that the cancer is not back and God will give her peace and comfort. Having something like this in life at any age is terrifying, but even more when you are so young. I don’t know how to encourage her and I have been in somewhat of the same position as she is. I feel helpless.

I am sitting here wondering what else to say, think, or type, but nothing comes but inexpressible sadness and empathy. I believe God has a way of doing things even through pain. I just don’t want this to be one of those times.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Some Hope and Peace

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight. Don’t worry about tomorrow; He’s got it under control. Just trust in the Lord with all of your heart and He will carry you through.”
Proverbs 3:5,6

In high school this was my sister and I’s favorite song. It brought comfort to me and I carried it with me through college and use it today for God’s peace.

When I was pregnant with Natalie I sang this song to her everyday. I prayed this prayer over her and my life. I prayed that God would somehow teach me to trust when all I had was Him to comfort me and knowing the road ahead was filled with hardship.

I pray this prayer tonight. I know I need to trust and even if I don’t know how, I can say these words and ask for faith. I was reminded by Dee and Laurie Lott about Paul and Silas imprisonment. They did not know what to do, but decided they needed to praise and sing. I shivered when I heard these words that I have read before. This time I realized I have joined in with these faithful men and resorted to praise when I did not know what else to do.

For the future I make a choice today to not give up or give in to the pressures in this world. So much looks good to me right now, especially the thought of running away and disappearing for a while. But I can’t. In college I opened up the Bible one night after I felt the same way I do tonight. I wanted to run. That night God gave me the word Beersheba. I thought it was odd and even tried to get that word out of my head. I have never really heard of it until then. But it kept coming to me like a whisper, “Beersheba.” I got up and took my Bible all while thinking, “this is crazy.” I looked up Beersheba and turned to 1 Kings 19. It was the story of Elijah. Here is what it says:

“1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them."
3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The LORD Appears to Elijah
And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."
15 The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came,”


accessed from LINK on 7/27/05

The story of Elijah running away to Beersheba spoke to me in an amazing way. I too feel like I have done everything I can. I am trying so hard and feel like everyone is against me. But God still nourishes me, and keeps me safe long enough to tell me that I need to go back the way I came. I can’t run away because I am a child of God with His protection and love as a shield. God spoke to me through a situation that has nothing to do with me. But I have found encouragement in those words written so long ago. I can run, but can’t hide. I need to go back the way I came and face life and its struggles and through this I can be who God wants me to be. It does not mean it is easy, but knowing and believing in God's promises makes it worth it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Challenge Accepted

Sometimes the harder thing to do is what people mistakenly assume is the easiest. It would be a life dream fulfilled if I were to get on a plane right now and travel from country to country documenting remote experiences of people and life. Anything and everything I see would tell a story and bringing it back here I would be assured of “ohh’s” and “ahh’s” as those who have never traveled to these places viewed the world through my lens. It would be life changing and my photos would capture nothing less.
But what does it mean for me as a photographer, both commercial and fine art, when I am unable to travel because of my illness SLE? Life for me has to be somewhat planned and moment-to-moment. If it is too hot outside, too long of a drive, or too much walking I am powerless to my creative longing. This affected me negatively as I contemplated my talent. Was I able to do this, be a fine art photographer if I am limited to mostly Abilene? The answer hit me, or maybe it was Kelli gently, but forcefully encouraging me to open my mind, but the truth was that it takes more skill, effort, or talent to make people see what they see everyday as fine art, than it would be for someone to go on a plane and capture something that no one has ever seen.
This is the challenge I take: I desire to photograph people, events, and life around me and instigate a feeling and emotion in people’s hearts. Maybe it won’t be of the Eiffel tower, Monte Saint Michelle, or a Safari Jungle in Africa, but I can use my heart and soul to show others of the things around me that are amazing. I can use a different perspective and view that someone will notice and react to.
There have to be photographers that travel and shoot amazing pictures of the ruins, waterfalls, and authentic buildings. They are called to do this and share it with the world. I adore their effort and aspiration to use their gift to enlighten others. Right now that is not my area and after thinking about it I realize it is ok. I take the harder road in trying to make others see what they see everyday in a new and exciting way.
Everyone who has ever “made it” in the world has stuck to his or her passion. I have to remember my foundational passion and keep doing what I do, where I can, and when I can.
There was a time not too long ago where I lived life without observing what was really important. It is hard because family, friends, careers, and hobby’s get in the way. Pretty soon everyday is filled with stuff to do and life moves by fast. I had the opportunity when I became sick and now with Chemotherapy treatments to slow down. And when I say slow down, I mean almost slow enough that all I could do was sit for a whole day. But as I did this to recover, I noticed things I never have before. Little things like a bird or a sunset would speak to my soul in ways that perhaps only a child would get excited over. I want to re-capture this through my art. My photos speak of life. They freeze moments to remind us of the journey we are all on.
Jody Page, president of the West Texas Photographic Society, said to me that we can never hold or take with us the experiences or moments lived in life, but with a photo you have a stored gift as a reminder of that place, that smell, and that sound. What she said to me that day inspired my heart deeper with a desire to make photography something more than a hobby or talent, but a ministry.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Beyond Thrilled

I just got back from the West Texas Photographic Society Meeting. Tonight was our competition and it was officially my first time ever to enter anything to be pondered and examined. There are eight categories:

Open and Assigned Slide
Open and Assigned Black and White and Color print
and Open and Assigned Enhanced print

I won first place for Black and White Open Print and Open Enhanced Print.
I could not believe it. If it needed to come on any day it needed to be today.
My photos will be posted on the WTXPS web site along with other photos placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd check it out: http://www.pothierphoto.com/west_texas_photographic_society.htm.
You can also see the photos I took that won on my Portfolio Website: http://ibgphotography.blogspot.com/

Also I will be hanging some work in the Center for Contemporary Art to sell during this next ArtWalk. Our reception is at 6:30-7:30 on August 11, 2005. Can’t wait!!

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

What is so valuable about sleep? That when you don’t have this jewel it is craved before money, food, and company.I think it has to do with the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” If you don’t get your basic needs met, than it is impossible to deal with conflict or hardship. Maybe this is why I have been over emotional.

"Abraham Maslow is known for establishing the theory of a hierarchy of needs, writing that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied. Maslow studied exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglas rather than mentally ill or neurotic people. This was a radical departure from two of the chief schools of pyschology of his day: Freud and B.F. Skinner. Freud saw little difference between the motivations of humans and animals. We are supposedly rational beings; however, we do not act that way. Such pessimism, Maslow believed, was the result of Freud's study of mentally ill people. "The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy" (Motivation and Personality). Skinner, on the other hand, studied how pigeons and white rats learn. His motivational models were based on simple rewards such as food and water, sex, and avoidance of pain. Say "sit" to your dog and give the dog a treat when it sits, and-after several repetitions--the dog will sit when you command it to do so. Maslow thought that psychologists should instead study the playfulness, affection, etc., of animals. He also believed that Skinner discounted things that make humans different from each other. Instead, Skinner relied on statistical descriptions of people.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs was an alternative to the depressing determinism of Freud and Skinner. He felt that people are basically trustworthy, self-protecting, and self-governing. Humans tend toward growth and love. Although there is a continuous cycle of human wars, murder, deceit, etc., he believed that violence is not what human nature is meant to be like. Violence and other evils occur when human needs are thwarted. In other words, people who are deprived of lower needs such as safety may defend themselves by violent means. He did not believe that humans are violent because they enjoy violence. Or that they lie, cheat, and steal because they enjoy doing it.
According to Maslow, there are general types of needs (physiological, safety, love, and esteem) that must be satisfied before a person can act unselfishly. He called these needs "deficiency needs." As long as we are motivated to satisfy these cravings, we are moving towards growth, toward self-actualization. Satisfying needs is healthy, blocking gratification makes us sick or evil. In other words, we are all "needs junkies" with cravings that must be satisfied and should be satisfied. Else, we become sick.
Needs are prepotent. A prepotent need is one that has the greatest influence over our actions. Everyone has a prepotent need, but that need will vary among individuals. A teenager may have a need to feel that he/she is accepted by a group. A heroin addict will need to satisfy his/her cravings for heroin to function normally in society, and will not worry about acceptance by other people. According to Maslow, when the deficiency needs are met:
At once other (and higher) needs emerge, and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still higher) needs emerge, and so on. As one desire is satisfied, another pops up to take its place.
Physiological Needs
Physiological needs are the very basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, sex, etc. When these are not satisfied we may feel sickness, irritation, pain, discomfort, etc. These feelings motivate us to alleviate them as soon as possible to establish homeostasis. Once they are alleviated, we may think about other things.
Safety Needs
Safety needs have to do with establishing stability and consistency in a chaotic world. These needs are mostly psychological in nature. We need the security of a home and family. However, if a family is dysfunction, i.e., an abusive husband, the wife cannot move to the next level because she is constantly concerned for her safety. Love and belongingness have to wait until she is no longer cringing in fear. Many in our society cry out for law and order because they do not feel safe enough to go for a walk in their neighborhood. Many people, particularly those in the inner cities, unfortunately, are stuck at this level. In addition, safety needs sometimes motivate people to be religious. Religions comfort us with the promise of a safe secure place after we die and leave the insecurity of this world.
Love Needs
Love and belongingness are next on the ladder. Humans have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. We need to feel loved (non-sexual) by others, to be accepted by others. Performers appreciate applause. We need to be needed. Beer commercials, in addition to playing on sex, also often show how beer makes for camaraderie. When was the last time you saw a beer commercial with someone drinking beer alone?
Esteem Needs
There are two types of esteem needs. First is self-esteem which results from competence or mastery of a task. Second, there's the attention and recognition that comes from others. This is similar to the belongingness level, however, wanting admiration has to do with the need for power. People who have all of their lower needs satisfied, often drive very expensive cars because doing so raises their level of esteem. "Hey, look what I can afford-peon!"
Self-Actualization
The need for self-actualization is "the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming." People who have everything can maximize their potential. They can seek knowledge, peace, esthetic experiences, self-fulfillment, oneness with God, etc. It is usually middle-class to upper-class students who take up environmental causes, join the Peace Corps, go off to a monastery, etc."

*accessed from http://web.utk.edu/~gwynne/maslow.HTM

Just some fun midnight snack information!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Yeah, Just A Puzzle Piece

My heart was touched deeply today. A place in my soul where I have let no one contact in a long time has been exposed. I was at the Texas Oncology Cancer Center having a routine check-up. I was by myself as I am used to by now, and have decided a long time ago to become a “people watcher” and learn from those around me as I quietly sit and ponder.
After concluding I was not going to get any practical insight from the young teenage girl talking on her cell-phone, I picked up a magazine and started to flip pages trying to act as though it were the most interesting thing I have ever seen. That is when they walked in and sat down at the large round table in front of me. They were older and of course, as it is a cancer center for those receiving Chemo or radiation, the gentlemen had no hair. Out of the corner of my eye I watched as they looked at the table and saw a puzzle that had been partially put together by the many other patients as they waited for their treatment or appointment. Maybe it was started that morning, or perhaps it has been a weeks worth of one person at a time adding to create this beautiful picturesque scene on the box. They did not act as though they were in a doctor’s office. It was as if they came to work on the puzzle as a date. I sat and watched as he looked at who I presume is his wife. They laughed and spoke softly to each other. She found a matching piece and they erupted in laughter as she added it to the other ones. I thought, “these people have found the same key that I have.” It is the little things in life that we share with others, love, laughter, and joy that really matter when all else is lost.
A nurse came out of the wing labeled “Radiation therapy” and called the man’s name. This is what got me, brought tears to my eyes, and maybe instilled hope yet for the male species. He looked at the nurse, and then leaned over to his wife, took her face in his hands, looked into her eyes, and said, “I love you, you are so beautiful.” He then gently kissed her forehead and got up and walked down the hallway probably knowing all to well what he was about to do. His wife continued to gather pieces and connect them with similar colors and shapes. She smiled and waited probably knowing all too well how much he needed her. I began to cry soft unnoticeable tears. I was happy.
I want to be someone’s puzzle piece. Not their whole picture, but a piece that one notices if it is not there. I don’t mind if I am just another part of someone’s life, but when all else fails I want to know that I am significant because I add beauty, change, and excitement. I want to know that if I ever left this world sooner then later, I would have loved another with my whole heart without holding back, without wondering if everything is ok, and without expectation and control. It is something I fear but hope for. I never thought I would want to just be another puzzle piece, but tonight I don’t think I would mind.

To the couple: May God bless you today. May the love you share with each other always shine through wherever you go. And if separation occurs, may the love you have remind you of the life we await in heaven together forever.

A Memo for Cyndi

Okay, so here’s a little Olivia Jones’s Diary Memo
(for my sisters enjoyment and amusement; but thought others might enjoy too)

20 July 2005 (Wednesday)

Weight: 112 (2 pounds must be from little Debbie consumption over last few nights), How many times I made a fool of myself today: 3 ½, in the last hour: 1, Times taken Chawennie Outside 15, Times Chawennie did not make it outside: 1 (v. bad dog), Number of Little Debbie Snack Cakes 0 (v.v. good)

8am: Woken by v. disturbing phone call, delighted that I actually slept so I did not let it bother me.

8:15am: Bothered by v. disturbing phone call.

8:30am: Decide to not let v. disturbing phone call ruin the rest of my day.

8:45am: Contemplated why so disturbed by call.

9:00am: Started getting ready for meeting at 10:20.

10:13am: Realize meeting is at 10:15am not 10:20am, sped down Judge Ely Blvd dodging cars and still thinking about phone call.

11:45am: Called sister and Best Friend about v. disturbing phone call. Felt awkwardly better after sternly talked into reality and assured I am not insane.

12noon: Spent many hours fixing computer that did not want to be fixed. After a hefty battle I won around 4:30pm as it gave up its right to my control and power. Like trying to get a toddler to stay still or consume broccoli when a cake is in front of them. Told the computer it was lucky because I was about to unplug the whole thing and throw it off two-story window. Computer obliged with accurate time, date, and e-mail ability. It is a v. lucky machine. I think my consistency with attention and discipline paid off. After all they say computers don’t rule you, you rule computers.

5pm: Went out with best friend and family to celebrate third wedding anniversary. Felt lucky to have friends like them.

7:45pm: Got home from dinner, Chawennie dog did not make it outside. But, hey I think I might sleep again tonight. Ah, the little things in life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Unwanted Houseguest

My friend, Insomnia has definitely over stayed his welcome. Like the never-ending houseguest I feel flattered by its initial arrival, but as the days go on I wonder where in the world did he come from and why is he still here. Not that I don’t appreciate company, I would just rather have things go back to my sense of “normal.” I think I might have taken too many medicines to try and convince myself I really do want to fall asleep. Bad dreams or not, I’d take it right about now. I think there may be a miscommunication between my body and head. Perhaps there is a battle going on over my desire for sleep and the need to get up and do stuff. Maybe if I were a new mom this would be valuable time feeding, not valuable feeding myself time with Little Debbie Snack cakes.
Going to try and rest some more. Maybe that is what the train is blowing its horn for, “Ok!Olivia you made it until 5am, now you can go to sleep!” it hisses as it goes by my window. I feel like some nocturnal creature that lurks in the night. Prowling for food and company, but all I have is Little Debbie Evil Cakes and insomnia. I guess it could be interesting enough if I tried.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Olivia Jones's Diary

18 July 2005 (Monday)

weight: 110, little debbie snack cakes: 3 (v. bad), times taken Chawennie dog outside: 12, calories: who knows and who cares

11am: Gracey found all of Christmas bows in closet and shredded them into tiny pieces. Too tired to pick them up and seem to enjoy the extra festive colors around.

11:05am: Noticed complextion. Used facemask last night to “open pores and breathe in mint fresh aroma.” Convinced by directions that “tingling” sensation is normal. Woke up with rash all over face. Ear and neck itch.

2:00pm: Ate 3 more Little Debbie products and still crave more.

Lost credit card, called everywhere I just was and emptied my purse 3 times. Gave up and paid with check. Leaving with items and credit card is under bag. Feel stupid and run to car.

7:00pm: Decide microwaves are deadly potent machines that will one day take over the earth. Heated up dinner and explodes all over microwave. Too tired to wash it, besides bits of ravioli hanging on microwave top go with just about anything.

Dog shedding. Hair everywhere. Breathed in clump while lying on couch pillow and choked. Chawennie hair does not go well with burnt ravioli. Gracey getting groomed tomorrow.

9:20pm: Crave sleep or something that could at least knock me out for a little while. No more Nyquil left in the house. Probably won’t sleep. Must have another Little Debbie.

Sleepless in Seattle

I wish I were writing after being out on a great date, or returning from a party, or after watching an awesome movie with friends. But instead it is literally 3 am in the morning and I can’t go to sleep for 3 nights in a row. Maybe if there was a radio program I could call like Tom Hanks did in "Sleepless in Seattle." I could think of a couple interesting things to say. It is very disappointing and frustrating. I am beyond tired. I lay on my pillow, but my head stays wide awake and minutes and hours pass until I finally arise to maybe eat a snack (I swear Little Debbie and her snack cakes are making a fortune off of me!) and take some other medicine to encourage my head to stop racing at 90mph and rest. There is nothing in particular on my mind. Actually more positive things than typical worries that would make one loose this valuable, wanted, craved slumber. I guess I feel you can’t win either way. You have overload of worries: stay up worrying. You have abundance of miracles and encouragement: stay up excited about what God is doing next.
Unfortunately, insomnia is another aspect of my illness, SLE. It may be one of the only parts about it that I suffer from and it knocks me into a flare for days. I am unable to accomplish much the next day. I know most would consider a sleepless night unfair and ridiculous, but even more with SLE. Night is the time the body starts over and regains strength for the next day and if I do not have this I am in pain and kind of disoriented.
Insomnia happened a lot to me growing up and in college I remember very well nights that I would finally fall asleep at 5am and then be at my 8am class. But for some reason, I don’t know if it was the ample supply of coffee, or the cute guy that sat behind me in class, or even maybe the professors lecture, but I made it through the days and took upon me that maybe God was trying to speak to me at night.
I have learned, because it is vital to me staying alive to take nights like these and do the best I can. Keep my peace and look at the positive. If I have to cancel plans for tomorrow, I have to. I have to take care of myself and that is the most vital thing.
I pray a lot at these moments. I pray for my friends who have given me such encouragement and love. I think of those amazing men and women who are struggling and yearning to keep going. How great of a testimony will they have for the Lord! I pray for my family in Massachusetts, that they will know the Lord. I pray for people I have met who have Lupus and other diseases (Laura and Becky) that unknowingly encourage me just by writing and existing. It is quiet moments, when the lights are off, and the world seems frozen that I emerge with hope, dreams, and prayers. For me and especially those I love.Be blessed today and send a prayer my way. For healing, and while you’re at it, maybe some sleep too?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Just Another Puzzle Piece

I used to think everything I did had to do with God. Every step, move, and situation was a direct affect of the Lord. But maybe everything is not as planned and absolute. Perhaps Peggy is right when she says sometimes we can get too focused on trying to do what we think God wants, that we completely ignore what is in front of us to enjoy. There are lots of ways to be distracted, but it was hard to admit I was doing this to myself.
Now that I am moving on with my life and dreams I have discovered my actual part in God’s work is so small. My part is no longer a “bible story” or a thought, but an action and decision to take steps. Once I began to reach out, I recognized there are more people out there willing to help me than I ever imagined. I am not lost in God’s view. Just because I am “small” does not mean I have no purpose. It runs deeper than these thoughts and words. Every time I think I grasp the Lord, I am opened up to a knew level. I am reminded it is ok to be right where I am without the knowledge of what tomorrow will bring. This used to give me great stress and pain, but I have learned to be ok with it. God has shown me He will take care of me.
It reminds me of playing a video game. You’re playing, racing, or battling, and finally after you accomplish the success of a level or “world” you are given the key or trophy. But it does not stop there; you have to keep going on to the next level and struggle to do the same thing. But this time, there are powers you receive to help you and bigger attacks from enemies.
The symbolism and parallelism between a video game and life is amazing. The more you earn in the game, the more is expected of you. Same for God’s people. God’s word says, “to much is given, much is required.” When we are blessed with strengths and weapons against the enemy we enter a new level of compassion, love, and acceptance.
In no way am I saying God does not have His hand in our lives. I would be a fool to have gone through everything I have so far and deny this. It is deeper than Him guiding us. God gently nudges me and whispers His truth in my heart. He actually wants me to be happy, smile, and laugh. I don’t have to fight my whole life. It does not have to be so hard. I’ve always wanted to follow and honor God. Ever since I was a child I knew who God was, and I knew He had His protection over me. Many many times, I felt the presence of something bigger than life. I want to live for this. To me it is a happy thing, and I want my life to reflect that, starting right now.

Friday, July 01, 2005

NUMBER 1: MY SISTER CYNDI


"Then and Now: Sisters are Forever"
Inspired by Grace Photography



“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”
Luciano de Crescenza


Slowly, yet surely I explored the depth of how so many people make a difference in my life. I have relived moments I cherish and recall the blessings of knowing I am not alone. I come to a conclusion for this topic and reminiscences with my sister, Cyndi.
We are only 18 months apart and have been constantly confused as twins when we were younger. Today she is married and lives with her husband and her dog, Lucy, in Massachusetts. In fact, I have recently returned from visiting my family by staying with Cyndi for two weeks. The days went by fast as we filled it with laughing, crying, and “catching up” on each other’s lives. Every night we would sit and talk together. We ended up saying good night to each other more than once because we had “one more thing to say.” We are as close as Crescenza quote, giving support to one another when we need it most. The road between Texas and Massachusetts is great, and there have been times when it would feel so hurtful to be away from each other. However, we understood the distance meant communication was vital. It is not good enough for me just to call every now and then and see what is going on. We make an effort to be involved, ask questions, and listen.
The best thing about my sister is we are close in age and can relate, encourage, and be there for one another during these stages of life. It is a relationship that moves beyond arguments and annoyances. Although they are a part of our connection, they in no way define or constrain us from loving and growing. I honor my sister for always loving me. Our lives share the same past, and yet we are two amazing different people. Our memories are sacred, solemn, and plentiful. You know the kind that can be talked and laughed about for hours, and then in one moment change to serious. I notice what I have to lose and hope that maybe if the world does not understand, my sister will.
We conquered the pain distance creates and used it to our advantage and perhaps know each other better now than we ever did. I know I mention Natalie and the hospital a lot in my writings, but something like this never leaves you even if you wish it away with a million dollars. Sorrow affects you and surrounds each thought, dream, and hope, and if you don’t succumb to it, it can be a catalyst for great great things in the future. I pondered greatly the big question of life during my initial release. Why was I here? What is the purpose of life? Why does any of this matter?
I know these questions are normal. But these questions were not merely inquiries; they are the source of my continuation. I made a mental list of why I should keep going, struggling, and surviving. It was not for a job or success. I did not get up each morning to be caught up in shopping, meetings, or a hobby. The only thing that remains after your life is ripped from your hands is love for people. Love for those who stand by you even when nothing you do or say makes sense. There are people that stay in your life for a while who serve a very real and required purpose. But the ones, who remain close, like family, have to find a way to love beyond illness, prior incidents, and expectations for one to react a certain way. My sister steps out of this boundary with a heart open to love and assist me. She inspires me to keep loving and get well. She makes me smile, laugh, and feel special. She is beautiful, intelligent, and fragile. I would do anything to protect her, and hope she knows what an impact she has on my life. It doesn’t matter that she is not famous or a millionaire. She is not perfect, but to me she will always be number one.

Szeretlek.