Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Gracey Face


"I know...I'm cute"

"Surrender"

"You told me the world has yet to see
what YOU can do with
one that is committed to your calling"
This is a line from one of my favorite songs "Surrender" by BarlowGirl.
It has become a prayer of mine during these last few days.
But more than that, I feel it has become
an assurance and promise from the Lord
specifically for me during this season of my life.

Friday, January 27, 2006

re-Focusing

There is a tree in my back yard and I am convinced it has seen better days. It crackles and makes noises every time the wind blows relentlessly through its remaining exposed limbs. It is one of those unapproachable mesquite trees whose branches simulate long scary arms that could gobble me up into the underworld. When bringing out the trash, I make a point to not look over there, just in case my intuition becomes reality. Hey it could happen!

Standing out there tonight I looked at the pitiful thing. It was bare, broken, and sick. The wind added nothing more than further fear to my mind. Face it… it was worthless and probably needed to be cut down. Maybe, it was dead? But it is winter and my thoughts turned to the hibernation of life during this time. Perhaps this tree too was storing its energy and sleeping. Standing in a moon gazed shadow I held my hands to my face for warmth and looked up. Branches like an unconquerable maze didn’t seem so daunting anymore. It was through these branches, the bareness of this tree, that I saw something beautiful. In a world where I am the tree, and I have been stripped away simple and innocent pleasures, just like this one has no leaves, something beyond it shone brightly and beautifully that otherwise would never be noticed. The stars!

Inevitable are the times and seasons where beauty can’t be seen. There comes a day in each of our lives where we feel more like a nearly dead tree that instead of being approachable, run others away. In transparency something else can be seen…the light. Being a photographer it is important to comprehend focus and exposure. Tonight as I focused beyond the first thing, I was thankful for such a symbolic way to view truth. I was overcome with the verse in John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” When I am less focused on, (the tree), then the Lord (the stars) becomes radiant even through the absence. In my life, although stripped to where I have felt vulnerable and unprotected, God’s beauty can be seen through it all offering hope. And as far as hope, well, God’s word assures in Psalms 24:3 that “No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Pink Alien

A while back one of my favorite stores closed. Walking into this place there is a sense that one was no longer in a small city but a huge metropolis with various exclusive items with diversity, artistic beauty, and imagination. Inventory was bright and happy and much of the store was something I could directly place in my world. Whenever my sister came to visit it was instantly a stop on our list of things to do. One particular time we went we noticed a shirt that said “the Pink Alien.” Pink and anything with wings on it (mainly butterflies) attract me and this business used just that and a different looking figure of an alien with wings. It was beautiful, exquisite, and we both wanted a shirt the moment we saw it. Newly to be purchased item in hand, I walked around the store and noticed the “story” pamphlet attached and read it. It struck me as so powerful to create a meaning behind art while using it as a way to demonstrate something influential to your buyers. “Inspired by Grace” had already been initiated and I was searching for a way to incorporate what the Lord had done in my life into every piece. Seeing the power Katherine took from the something she faces, gave me the idea to do just the same when selling pieces of my work. Although things we sell are different, there is one thing in common: we all have something to share, something to say, and we are all our own mouthpieces to the world to make a difference.

If you would like to visit Katherine’s site, see products, and read the story, please visit http://www.thepinkalien.com/about.html

We all make a difference in everything we do…and you never know who you can reach just by not being afraid of who you are.

And, for my favorite store that closed, I hope maybe someday I will see you again…sniff…sniff.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Quote

“It is only by thinking about great and good things that we come to love them,
and it is only by loving them that we come to long for them,
and it is only by longing for them that we are impelled to seek after them,
and it is only by seeking after them that they become ours.”

Henry Van Dyke

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tag...R U it?

Wow, I can definitely say I have not played tag in a while…thanks Becky…this should be fun! So in hopes to keep the games alive, I will attempt to answer the almighty question, “What are your five most favored habits or future habits?”

Habit #1: Admire the small things in life. I will stop on the side of the road to watch a sunset, drive hours in the wrong direction just to see what is over the hill, and spend time watching ants scurry along a dirt path. It is the small things in life, the beauty we often ignore as a result of hurried schedules, that I am convicted to appreciate. I don’t want to wake up 20 years from now and not see how I got there because I chose to live in such a rush. This leads me to my next habit.

Habit #2: Live each day and moment. Exactly what I said, live each day and moment not yearning for the next event or life milestone. I literally practice this each day and most of it is reinforced by Habit #1. Once I decide to admire the small things and live each day for itself life is a little easier to maintain. Breathing becomes easier and I find myself not a slave to time, but rather time is a slave for me.

Habit #3: I realize my prior habits are more of an internal habit so I will try to touch on some of my physical habits. I’d have to agree with Becky that I love to sing. My best friend has to be my guitar that I named “Trinity.” Whenever I am sad or happy I write songs, sing, and just have fun praising God. I will play until my voice goes and my fingers are tired. I may not be able to get up in front of a million people, or even write the best, but there has to be a way to express who I am. It is so severe at times I feel as though I will explode if I don’t tell me heart. So I write and sing as a venue to express myself. Sometimes it is just for me, and others it can be a way to minister.

Habit #4: Writing. I have written stories, poems, and non-fiction since I was a little girl in grade school. Recently I had a chance to explore some of my ancient writings. It was unbelievable to notice how much I knew of my world back then. I’d write fiction with my hopes and dreams as the characters. Today I write mostly poetry, short stories, and things I have learned for inspiration. It is fun. I enjoy getting these thoughts out of my head and organizing them so other people can either agree or not. I will always write in one way or another. It is just my soul to.

Habit #5: Renew my mind with truth. God says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2. Let’s face it the world is awful! People are more and more liable to pass you by if you were dying on the side of the road. Ones we should look up to are inadequate leaders who manipulate the truth to satisfy themselves. Kids are growing up with deep issues of hatred, self-loathing, and confusion. Where’s the truth? No one is going to give it to us…chase us down and say, “Here Olivia, stop…I think you need this!” Yes, God does live and dwell in our souls through the Holy Spirit, but I also have a choice to seek truth and know what I believe. It is up to me, not my spiritual leaders to understand the Word of God. I live to seek truth and wisdom. In Proverbs 4:7b it says, “Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” I am willing to give up everything I have to know God’s heart. I comprehend how valuable it is and ask that God would grant me wisdom this day.

So now back to Tag, right? I guess I will tag…

Christina (Stina-B)
Allison Condry
Laura (lau-lau bee!..up north)
Amanda Dunn
Laura Bentley
Joanna Wiley
Casja Jarry

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Shining Light

This photo was taken at our "good-bye" party at 20/20. Laura and Jessica are in the grey shirts in the middle!
Several days ago, two of the most precious people I know left to go on a mission trip around the world within one year. I knew the day I’d wake up way early and see them off at the airport was coming, but it did not make the actualization of the morning painless. I missed them the moment I saw their plane twinkle with the morning stars as prayed God would somehow fill the gap in my heart that my friends spaced.

Finally I came home that morning and went to bed after an entire night of tossing and turning wondering and waiting for the 4 am buzzer to sound. I woke up and saw that this day is beautiful. The sun was shining with temperatures in the 80’s. Looking around my place the snowmen and other Christmas winter decorations had to go. I decided that this day would be my cleaning day. I got out boxes and began to pack away all my decorations. One of my favorite winter Christmas decorations is a candle that shines in the windows. In Massachusetts it was common to see these in every windowpane of one house. Most houses up north are two to three stories and 20-30 candles may be seen on a property. I had three this season and every night I’d light them.

As I was taking these down I thought of how symbolic they are to Christ and our lives. In Matthew 5:14-16 it says “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Also in 1 John 1:5-7 it says “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin.”

My friends, Jessica and Laura are proclaiming this light. They have gone to live by their example that God is real. They sold nearly everything they had to fund this mission. I decided that I would leave one of my candles up for them. I will light it every night in prayer and reminder that they will continue being a light in such a dark world. And that they will return safely with a heart full of wisdom, compassion, and love.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy True Year

This was written several days ago on my journal while I was in Massachusetts.

Last night a secret wish of mine came true. It was New Years Eve and a weekend full of fun with friends and family gave me little to complain about. Yet, flying all the way to the east coast from the south there is one thing I desire most to complete each visit during the winter season, snow and while its at it a lot of it too. Local newscasters cheapened my hope with predictions of warmer than normal weather with precipitation only of rain. After coping with nearly two weeks without snow I was a little, well, bummed. We left to the Cape (Cape Cod, MA) in hopes that bringing in the New Year I would get not only this wish, but also all the others I have so wonderfully aspired to fancy. We were at the Cape’s “Scargo CafĂ©” celebrating the coming of 2006 when behold I look out the window and God granted me my request. First slow glittering sparkles fell as though I were its only audience. Then a finale lasting 3 more hours premiered millions and billions of white petals covering the earth. Walking to the car was entirely different then our arrival. It was a different place, a winter wonderland! We all piled into the car as though massive amounts of dandruff crowned out heads. Casja and I began to talk of the snow. I was amazed by it, the way it fell, the way it looks, and the way the sounds seem to be more intimate when covered by it. To me it is a consistent frailty patiently covering all. Each thing, big or small, beautiful or ugly, old or new, was touched by this one common thing- white. The more we traveled down the road I recognized other truths about the moment. White symbolizes cleanliness, newness, and beginning all over again without what is underneath. How proper these thoughts were in my head to welcome in my 2006. It is a new beginning for sure. One that the Lord has complete control over. No matter what I doing my 2006 (just as my 2005), God, my God will be that common one thing covering all my triumphs and failures, my big moments and those no one will even know about. He is the universal element, my snow claiming all in my life and making everything beautiful once again. Everything is fresh and clean…a new beginning for sure. He claims all that it touches and touches all that He claims.

After the ride back to the cottage I was excited with the actualization of the snow on this night. I stood outside watching and listening. The snow contacted everything around me- nothing was hidden from it and it was gorgeous. All other sounds were deadened by the natural absorbency of it. I heard my every breath and every heartbeat. Each snowflake was different, unique, and made especially for that moment. Even though my life is made of up moments like each snowflake…different in everyway, they nevertheless add up to the same thing purity of a new beginning given graciously by the Lord.

My change into the New Year was just that, a year which is new. A cleansed 2005 covered with beautiful white fluffy snow making everything original, fresh, unmarked, clean and ready for me to live.

PS. So yeah, I asked for snow…OK Lord I know you heard me. My flight home was canceled due to a huge snowstorm across the east coast.