Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Knew It Not

The other day Bryan and I went for a walk at Abilene Christian University with Gracey. It was such a beautiful day here in the 70! Doesn’t seem like that freezing weather stayed long! There is a new a new place there called “Jacob’s Ladder” explaining a vision recorded in the Bible about a ladder extending from earth to heaven in Jacob’s dream. It seems to be a very popular spot to sit, walk, read, or (my favorite) taking pictures. To be honest, every time I have been, there have been professional shoots going on all around me. It really is THAT pretty and the sentiment behind the assembly of it is seen when artist Jack Maxwell, designs promote history and spirituality on campus.

Anyway, we went and played around. It is the prefect spot to just relax. The grass is very green and nice with no prickly things. So I brought my camera for the first time there and took some shots. I liked how on different stones there were words etched in them. You could concentrate on one, but when you stepped back, all the other words jumped up from different places and they formed sentences, bible verses. I will try to post one here so you can see the beauty of it. I am certain this artistic piece glorifies God. It was done to portray His glory and Maxwell definitely accomplished it.

I got home that evening and looked over the photos. There was one in particular that I saw and slowly something in my heart triggered and I listened to the masterpiece I saw inside. I woke up at 11pm and worked on it for nearly 3 hours. God gave me a vision to express myself in this photo, and I was so pleased at the end. I felt like I accomplished my message.

The stone photo below inscribes the words “I knew it not.” I felt sad when I read this. It initiated a response in my heart for Natalie Grace. I kept thinking after we walked and all the way home, how it exactly represented my loss.

I worked on the photo and then wrote a brief explanatory poem with it.


© 2008 Inspired by Grace
All rights reserved Olivia M. Brigham



I knew it not,
The fear I lived with every day about what would happen
I knew it not,
If my daughter would live
I knew it not,
that you could love someone so much without even holding or seeing them
I knew it not,
that I was to be on bed rest for 2 months feeling alone
I knew it not,
that I would view on the monitor that my little babies heart beat stopped
I knew it not,
that delivery would be very painful
I knew it not,
that I when I would see Natalie Grace, it would be for the first and last time
I knew it not,
That pain and sorrow could run so deep that you feel like you are being suffocated
I knew it not,
Everyday I would question God
I knew it not,
That God was keeping me safe and loving me even though I hated Him
I Knew it not,
My daughter, although amounting to nothing by the world standards, showed me more hope than anyone I ever met
I knew it not,
That love and faith can be so strong, even in circumstances that will never make sense
I knew it not,
That love and sorrow could consume unwilling souls
I knew it not,
That I would lose my daughter, so I was lost my joy
I knew it not,
That God would work gently in my heart
I knew it not,
But now I shall know, God always keeps His promises.



This photo also initiated my new Header. Praise God for allowing us all different talents. Let’s use them to express our hearts in love to Him.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Play A Game, Help Feed the Hungry

There is a neat website worth sharing. You play a word matching game and for every question you answer correctly it literally donates grains of rice to starving children. I know, I know! I looked at Bryan like he was crazy last night when he suggested to find it after he heard about it at work. But it is real. We found the site, examined its authenticity, and began to play! We earned about 2,000 grains of rice last night, and more than this…we definitely learned some new words. It matches your vocabulary to words in the system for your level. Bryan and I together were a 41 out of 50! (Mostly him!!!) You should really try it. The picture below is a link to the site. They allow you to post it on your site to promote this really neat game. There is also information on the site to read about why this had been created.

Have fun!


Monday, January 28, 2008

Anger

Why is it that when you are studying a topic with the Lord, a situation arises dealing with it? Wouldn’t it be easier to just, ya know, read, ponder, and THEN be alerted that an opportunity to put in action what you just learned is coming?

Sometimes I look at the world and feel so tired of it. It’s like we are all trying to be someone we are not. We fight, we lie, we cheat, and we gamble our way into fake existence. We try to be more important than we really are in fear that if we don’t we wont matter. We decide we deserve something, whether possessions or respect and there is no concern for who is run over in the process. The fact is, the world is more like this than not. There are very few people actually on guard towards selfishness. And selfishness in itself is not something we would normally feel as a bad attribute. Because after all, isn’t it looking after yourself? Isn’t it not letting others take advantage of you? What does it mean to be a follower of Christ today when there is a necessity of safety, which means standing up for yourself? Do we simply just sit there and let other people with no value for anyone else, make life miserable for us? And I am not just talking about the occasional grocery store incident; I mean people that are unfortunately in your surrounding. The ones you can’t do anything about.

There is great injustice in this world and I have been learning to take it and focus it on righteousness. I am meant to have anger against what I believe is unfair. But what I need to learn is what is unfair. I myself have a very strong belief about what is wrong and right. But it is tainted by experience and perception. Some of it may not be true. I need to ask God for the truth. I need His heart to understand what it is that I feel wrongness towards. And when He teaches me, I will be able to submit myself to Him instead of being angry with things related to myself. There is much injustice God sees and hates. And perhaps my comfort level is not on the top of the list. Or maybe it is an opportunity for me to love and am unable to do.

I just want peace, and maybe there is something in me that expects people to still treat others “the way you would want to be treated.” But these days are no more. And when you do see someone like this, it blows you away. I believe it will get more and more difficult to love. And I mean the times you love when you expect nothing in return. Like the choice to love when there is nothing offered back. I hope God can soften my heart and show me people through His eyes. I can do this most times, but sometimes, when you are sick and tired and just want to rest, and then feel violated by people’s cruelty, you sit down at a computer and wonder about heaven and the sanctity it offers. I question my intentions and focus when I feel upset like this. I want to be consistent. I know I am not expected to be perfect, and this is why I write, to remind myself.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ilona Says "Please"

Ilona has decided that "please" is really pronounced "nyaaa." It is very cute! Here she is excited to have a bagel and we make her say "nyaaa." It takes a couple of times, but she finally says it.

Ilona Asks for Money

Ilona is very smart for a 19 month old! She can repeat almost anything, but we've decided this may be the most important phrase out there, do you agree?




PS. My niece (and niece to be) are one of the most best things in the world! I always smile when I think of them.

Friday, January 25, 2008

3 hours and an IV Later

I went to the doctor today and they had me on some IV fluids for dehydration for about 3 hours. It was not fun, but necessary. I was by myself and Bryan met me there for the last 2 hours, and then he had to go work his second job. So Gracey and I are sitting here watching terrible daytime TV. It is times like this that I wish we had cable or satellite. I expect to be feeling a lot better tomorrow, or at least that is what they assured me. I want to clean the house and make dinner, but tonight I am to rest and have dinner served to me. My beautiful mother-in-law to the rescue! She's the best. I am so blessed to have people in my life who really care.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wishing 2B Well

I have been feeling very sick since Monday. I feel like my arms don’t work well and I have very little energy if at all. I think it is probably just my Lupus flaring, but it has not been pleasant. I will actually go into the doctor tomorrow morning to make sure I am ok. Please pray that I will have my energy back soon, I hate feeling like this! Bryan has been working a lot lately. He is on his second shift today and I am ready for him to be home. Gracey and I went to therapy today and she made a wonderful sweet friend that walked her, brushed her, and gave her treats! What dog wouldn’t love that? I guess it doesn’t matter how much I validly feel sorry for myself, it always is healing to help someone else.

PS. Gracey is completely snoozing away, she hasn’t moved from her bed for hours now! Here is a silly picture of her and Daddy the other night. I was laughing so hard at her “in tow” in his hood.



Monday, January 21, 2008

Gracey's Portrait

I was working in the studio today and a very cute Chawennie dog wanted her photo taken. Needless to say, she put on her best sniffer face and we got these really sweet photos of her. She's the best!

One Step

Standing in the middle between four paths
I am confronted with a life decision
Which way should I proceed?
My head begins to ache
My throat becomes dry
My eyes squint as I review my possibilities once again,
For the third and last time
I turn left
There is no answer
Just a rocky mountain, jagged with course crevasses
Black birds fly and peck to kill, they are waiting for opportunity
I turn right
There is no response
Just barren land, dessert blowing dust, no sign of shelter or rain
It is all a nothingness breading nothingness
I turn forward
There is no solution
It is dark, there is no sunshine, no where to get light
Death and lies move easily here unseen
I turn backward
There is no remedy
It is stormy oceans looking for someone to devour, it is angry
Drowning victims without any purpose of revenge
So which way am I to go?
Every step I could take is a dangerous risk
But I am forced to continue my journey, my road
I must make my decision quickly
Without hurting anyone’s feelings
And give up the need of having the support for my choice
They are waiting for my next move
I must go
I must go NOW, or I never will
I lift my foot forward and step out
I will not look back, I decided
I close my eyes and continue
For I have taken at least this step
In faith

Friday, January 18, 2008

It’s Just Plain Nuts!!!!

I am convinced now more than ever that eating healthy is a luxury most cannot afford. I believe I mentioned this concept a few years ago in a blog, but a new argument has been discovered to prove my point.

In a grocery store I saw cashews for sale. It is my favorite type of nut, yet they always seem to come in packages with more salt then in all the oceans combined. We even got the new and improved “low-sodium” carton, yet the salt was still too much. I have to be very careful with how much salt I eat, since my kidneys and the medicines I take for them are sensitive to this element.

When I saw these cashews in the “pick-your-own” amount, I was so excited. They were actually salt-free! It was a little kiosk with many different snack type foods that you can get a tiny spoon and bag up the desired quantity. But my joy was abruptly destroyed as I noticed the price for one pound, a whopping $5.99! “How in the world can they get away with this,” I thought. A can of salted cashews are only $3.00 and in order to get them this way someone had to salt them. They took the natural nut and had to do something to it and then sold it. These unsalted nuts were the way they came from the shell, but were way more expensive! Ummm, does that make sense at all???

Organic nuts? We pay for ORGANIC nuts because we are charged more for products that require no alterations. It is absolutely insane. I get so frustrated because I want to eat healthy, but my options do not allow purchases like these. So, unfortunately I must admit, we grabbed a cashew from the bottom catch container (to hold any pieces of anything that might hit the floor when people bag them) and popped it in our mouths. I really felt like I was in Hollywood in my pink Ferrari for a moment, and then I remembered we needed to get toilet paper.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

P.E.T.S.

Gracey has done very well at being a therapy dog. I can’t even begin to explain her little heart towards the people. She is very happy to be doing what she does and with a little more practice I know she will be a lot more comfortable with her environment.

Right now we “work” one day a week as it is a lot for one small Chawennie to be on her feet for 3 hours. I also have to pace myself, as energy is always a challenge. I come home exhausted, yet I know it is worth it and I never regret using my energy in this way.

On the calendar each month we are allowed to pick the therapy sessions we want to attend and one I knew we had to be a part of was the weekly Chemotherapy lab visits. This will probably be a regular one we attend and I absolutely love what the Lord is showing me through these sick men and women. I sat in the same seat they were in, literally. I also was blessed to see two of my nurses that administered my treatment.

It is challenging for me sometimes, as it was yesterday visiting the ICU. I had flash backs and a little anxiety, but again, the Lord is working in my heart to surrender it to Him…both the victory and the hazy suffering.

I am so happy to be doing this. Thanks for all the support we have! Here is a photo of us in our uniforms. We just got back from a session, so we look a little tired! LOL!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pray With Us

Please pray for Nathan, Tricia, and Gwyneth. I wasn’t planning on being so touched by their story, but if you have a chance visit their site and ask the Lord to give this family peace, comfort, and love. Pray that God will give Nathan His strength to carry his family through this trial and that no matter the outcome; God’s name would be glorified. Pray for little baby Gwyneth, born at 25 weeks (I believe) that she will survive and grow strongly. Pray for Tricia, that she will get the medical help she needs and will be able to communicate.

Having a illness has risks, ups, and downs, good times, and bad, but I truly believe God works in them. Having been helpless once (although very differently and I am NOT trying to compare anything), I am reminded how fragile life is and how much we sacrifice for our futures.

I am glad I stumbled upon this blog through Leah’s post. I notice great love this man has for his family. He is being very real and proactive about what is going on. I am sure there are many struggles yet to come, but sharing grief with others so we can pray, is what we are called to do.

Here is their site:
http://www.cfhusband.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Being Thankful Honors

I wrote this in response to my sisters’ sweet heart. She has much compassion for those hurting and her neighbor is very sick and she mentioned to me how sad she feels because she is blessed while her friend is suffering. I thought hard about that and this is what I came up with:

I’ve been touched by many different situations lately. Difficult sad circumstances that leave me feeling life is way too fragile. It seems like some choose to ignore these people, treating them like stories, tales, or fiction. These men, women, and children are the “that would never happen to me” things you hear about. I write about these times and conditions of trials because they are real and offer great insight into the soul and our desperation as humans to know our purpose.

I am not a pessimist, or obsessed with writing about pain. I just know, through experience, that when you hear news that changes your life, it quickly rids many superficial things and thoughts. A completely surrendered attitude forces you to think and process some of life’s most difficult questions. And you can sit there and get angry and in denial, or you could ask God and search for truth and meaning in Him. And even so, even after 3 years of complete tragic loss, there may never be answers, yet a decision remains to either trust God, or flee from Him. It is the hardest most satisfying choice ever.

And then there are people who may have witnessed much pain and suffering. They have blindsidedly watched their loved ones hold to hope by only one frail little string. They may not know completely of the physical pain, but their internal suffering perhaps outweighs even the victim. Helplessness attacks mercilessly those who can only watch and pray. But, their hearts cannot be overlooked. Their “cards” dealt were better and fortunate. Their guilt of stability should never be permitted. It is not wrong to be ok. It becomes, however, a matter of the heart. It is a matter of compassion as well. But most of all, if this is you; it is a matter of appreciation and joy.

When someone has been blessed in a way that I’ve been hurt or challenged, my heart rejoices when that person reflects great gratitude for their gifts. For example, we have been confronted with how the Lord will provide children. But when someone announces their pregnancy or brings a baby into the world, the only pain I would experience is if that person acted and was unthankful. This is how we can bless others in hard times, by being thankful and faithful with what we do have.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Marley & Me"

I knew the danger simply by looking at the cover. I was searching for a gift for my mother. She was a lover of life, outgoing, and had great compassion for small furry living things, and most of all, she loved a good book. A lab was on the front with a title that said, “Marley & Me.” It was perfect. I grabbed it, and off it went to her for Christmas that year. It was a small token of my love and presence that would be absent for the second time ever in my life for the holidays.

Two years later, this past Christmas, I was sitting at my mom’s house after a wonderful Hungarian meal. Looking around I spotted a pile of books. I would have to admit, I am extremely picky about what I read. I shoot down more books than a hunter at a very prosperous duck hunt. I prefer an emotional response to the characters and a plot that doesn’t leave you wondering, “Why in the world, did I waste my time with this?” My sister and mom are the best at suggesting worthy books and I have read many this past year including “Gone with the Wind.” (I am proud of myself for reading that one, since it is very long.)

In the pile was “Marley & Me.” I hesitated, and rightfully so. “Was it a good book?” I asked my mom. “Yes,” both my mom and sister replied. I was told I needed to read it, and before I knew it, the book was in my hands with an oath to my mother that I would return it safely. “It is one of my favorites,” she said. I explained I was afraid to read it. I knew all to well, without even reading it that dogs never live forever, and if this dog was being written about, then there must be an ending of some sort that would cause me much sadness.

See, I love Gracey. She is my sweet pet. She has loved me through so much. She chooses to love me even when I am unlovable. She waits for me at the door with a spirit that could never be imitated or ignored. But one of my fears is knowing, most likely, I will outlive her. Sometimes when I go to sleep at night and think of this fact, I cry. She is my little fur ball, my joy, and my best friend. If you have a pet like this, you know exactly what I mean.

So, saying all this, I began reading the book on my plane ride home with enormous fear that it would bring me to irreversible tears. Just two chapters in, my anxiety became reality and I began sobbing with great tears. His wife suffered a loss of a baby and found comfort in her dog. Gracey was there for me too. She snuggled with me and didn’t leave my side. I cried deeply and every time I wanted to stop, the tears came stronger until I simply let myself feel the pain again. Bryan looked at my bewildered. I explained and we just sat there in silence. I didn’t pick up the book again on the flight. But, I knew it was going to be a good one.

To be honest, I haven’t read a good one in a while. I laughed hysterically as the author wrote about Marley and their adventures. But as I noticed the books pages becoming shorter and shorter, I braced myself for what I knew lie ahead.

Tonight I finished it. It took longer to read those last 4 chapters than I think “Gone with the Wind” took altogether. I would read, then cry, then blow my nose, then wipe my glasses and then start the whole process over again about 10 times. I even called my husband and he asked me what happened. I explained through sobs, “Marley died.” He gasped and asked intensely, “Who died?????” “Marley,” I said again. This time, he knew it was the book since he had been asking how it was over the time I had been reading.

Tonight after finishing it, I hugged Gracey. I scratched her ears, and let her even lick my spoon after I ate ice cream. (The only suitable thing to do after crying for hours). I am glad someone understands the impact a little fury treasure can have on a human life.

I always tell Bryan how much I love her and want her happy because she really only has us, this, what we give her and show her. She has one life and it will be spent loving me. Doesn’t that deserve recognition and appreciation? Yes, and if that means we spoil her with love, than so it will be. She never withholds her love for me, and I will not with her. She is my dog, but she is happiness and a constant reminder of what can be good in life, and who doesn’t need that?



Book Recommendation: “Marley & Me” by : John Grogan (Make sure you have tissues handy.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Donkey

I like donkeys. I know… what a strange statement. Profound yet complicated. But there is something about them that attract me. Maybe it is because they look eternally sad, like they lost their best friend in the whole world. Or possibly it’s because they had enough of their tails being pinned on by little kids at birthday parties (by the way, so kids still do this?). I want to convince them I could be their friend. Like Eeyore says from Winnie the Pooh, “Nobody ever notices me.” I notice them. They seem harmless, oversized beasts with fluffy ears and slanted lady-like eyelashes that any woman would covet. So whenever I see a donkey, I have to stop and chat. And Bryan graciously accommodates my heart toward them. “After all,” I always tell him, “Jesus road on one.” Ok, so maybe it was because this was the primary way of transportation, but even so, it was in fact a donkey. One probably like we have today, heartbreaking and swishy-tailed.

Known for stubbornness, donkeys are mainly used today for labor. Farmers take advantage of their strength as they assist with crops, plowing, and carrying heavy loads.

Maybe this is what Bryan and I need for our next pet?! I am sure Gracey and Bryan wont mind sharing the bed with a little helpless donkey? Our backyard is big enough! We would have so much fun together. Bryan, Gracey, the donkey and me.


Can I have one please?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Right Seat

This past Sunday I was incredibly blessed at church. We had just arrived home the evening before and were tired, yet excited to be back at our home church, Beltway Park Baptist.

Since being married we learn the differences we have with much patience. I like to sit in the middle of the ground floor for service. Bryan, however, has a slogan I am sure of, that goes “The closer to the stage, the better. And if you get to see spit, then you are in the artist circle achieving optimal experience range.” It has been an adjustment to me. At first I felt odd being right up front, but as time went by, I began enjoying our little routine sitting place. I was able to concentrate better on the message and worship without getting distracted by others.

This morning, I felt tired and reclusive seeking a place in the rows and rows of our congregation to kind of disappear. But, Bryan gave me those eyes and together we sat in the second to front row, our normal seat. Almost immediately we were handed an envelop with an incredible blessing. It was a gift from our friend as well as God. Something I am not even sure we deserved, but nevertheless: Jehovah Jireh, "The Lord will see and the Lord will provide.” Gen. 22.

After this, we began worship. My heart opened and I forced my mind to concentrate on God, on His love, His grace and His never-ending journey with me. Isn’t worship supposed to be about loving Him? Should I be happy when I worship? If He were walking down the aisle to see us, what would my worship look like? I must dive into my soul and without fear or shame, praise my God. I want to be real, and even if I don’t “feel” like it, I must remember what worship is about and whom it is for.

Then we stopped singing. I knew worship wasn’t over yet. I opened my eyes to see the baptism light on, the band squatting to not be in the scene, and our pastor talking with a man who was about to be baptized in God’s name, vowing he believes Jesus died on the cross for him and that He will follow Him.

He was a well-built man. His eyes reflected his joy as well as the seriousness of this moment in his life. He was excited. Two people were in there as well to baptize him. But the scene does not stop here. Even if this were all, it would be an amazing blog. But, I saw something I would have never had a chance to if it were not for me being where I was, the front row.

A beautiful little girl no older than 4 stood at the steps of the altar. Perhaps it was her friend or grandmother who held her hand and helped her on the first step to watch. I couldn’t help but watch her. The entire room was filled with hundreds of people. She was so happy and kept looking at the man. She smiled, eyes were wide, and mouth was open in amazement.

Her father was now baptized. He came up with authority raised his arms to heaven and smiled and laughed. “Praise God!” I think he said. There was victory in this moment. Truly God has mighty plans for this man.

His daughter clapped with the congregation sneaking peaks over her shoulder of her dad excited of his expression of belief behind the stage walls. And when she was led away I saw her face light up even more and she said something just loud enough that I could understand. It was like she could nearly burst if she didn’t say this. She said with a childish glow about her, “That’s my Daddy!!!!”

She was witnessing her Daddy submit to God as a leader. His little girl was able to see him surrender to God. Jesus did great things in that family, no doubt. Do we give our kids opportunity to be proud of us even if submitting to Jesus may look weak?

I feel something else when I remember this happening. We should be eager to brag and be swelled with joyful pride at how much our Lord submitted in order to love us. Jesus gave up His life to save us.

That’s my Father.
The One up there on the cross.
He loves me.
He promised if I believe in Him
I would have eternal life.
I am so proud of Him.
That’s my Daddy!!!!
He’s my home,
My protector
I am so honored to be his child,
His daughter.
He knows me,
and I know Him.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The View Finder: On Perspective (January 2008)

I am taking over the organization of the West Texas Photographic Society's Newsletter. I decided that every month to highlight different aspects if photography. This month I decided to write about Perspective:

When you think about photography, one aspect that may come to mind is perspective. There is no doubt you would be able to agree that without a unique perspective in photos, it would be very boring. Perhaps there is something only one person would be able to notice and capture that allows individual growth. For some, we seek beauty in landscape. Deep colors that reflect magnificence. Others delight in people. They capture faces in instants of joy, sorrow, and laughter. And maybe it is the tiny things in life that provide perspective. The little things we would normally not notice that we seek to share with others. It doesn’t matter who you are, we all have something to offer as we portray our hearts to others with our photographs. Perspective is personal yet learned. Don’t be afraid to use your digital cards to the max. Take many photos, you might surprise yourself with a perspective and view you never knew was there.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Photo A Day

It was a very hard decision to make...one photo to post for everyday we were gone...but these were some of my favorite moments. I wish we were able to see other friends and stay longer, but it was no doubt time to come back home, unpack, and do the ever-so-monstrous mound of laundry. But, through all of it, I was reassured of one thing, Bryan and I are truly blessed with wonderful people in our lives.


Back with Gracey...I missed her so much.

PS. So ok, if you noticed there were more photos than days we were gone...it was really hard for me!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008 is Here


We have been in MA visiting my family. It has been very nice, but cold. Our niece is huge now and so much fun, she keeps us busy for sure. I am looking forward to 2008. Here is a picture of us in the snow.