Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012


You know the signs...an e-mail appears from someone you know, or someone you haven't heard from in a million years.  You open it up and then realize it is for a nasty url address.  I have dreaded the day when I would be taken advantage of, and this weekend it happened.  My e-mail address sent out tons of inappropriate e-mails.  Last night I couldn't help but think of people that do these type of things.  What kind of perverted thrill does someone have to hack into an e-mail system and send out an e-mail to every address in there about disgusting topics?  Do they really think it is funny?  It is incredibly sad to me that someone would actually think what they did is comical.  Maybe it is a power hungry thrill.  Maybe they have been violated and feel the anger drawing them to hurt others.  The enemy seeks people like this to do his work.  It isn't surprising, but it still feels so wrong and horrible.  I remember years ago late at night someone tried to scam us over the phone saying they needed help getting an airplane ticket because their Aunt suffered from epilepsy, fell down a flight of stairs, into a paint bucket, then it started raining and yellow polka-dots appeared on her forehead and kangaroo's were jumping all around them swiping their claws and angrily yelping to save them from the evil hippo that threatened their colony.  At least that is the way I remember them saying it.  What will people come up with next?  Make sure your information is safe.  Change your passwords often.  Don't enter personal information unless you absolutely know it is safe.  Be wise and guard your eyes, hearts, and homes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Under Construction

My new photography site is under contruction!!!!!  So if you have tried to reach it, I apologize.  It is taking a lot of time and tweaking, but I am very excited to be at least half way done!  I've taken a journey back to the beginning of Inspired by Grace in 2004 and watched how the Lord has grown my heart and passion for people and their stories.  I have been given a tiny window into someone's life if only for that brief moment.  It is a privelage to remember all these faces, dreams and hopes of my clients.  God has blessed me and I pray I can continue showing off His creation through my lens.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Journey

The many trees lined evenly down the dirty worn-out path.  The familiarity brought me comfort.  It was as though overnight a bag of marshmallows burst open and puffy white sweetness covered every branch in their festive attire of spring’s arrival. It was inviting and cheerful, a scene perhaps only a child would appreciate to its fullest.  And while I was far from youth, I savored this display as though simply walking those few steps somehow transported me back those many years to when I was free, when I was happy.  The wispy clouds seemed to reflect its mirrored delight below and both swayed gently to the soft crisp breeze as if they were greeting one another in their usual friendly “good morning.”  It was something so familiar, yet everything seemed changed somehow.  The canvas before me brought my thoughts to the winter we’ve just come from.  As rough as they were for me at my age, I truly enjoyed the snows soft caress and the warmth I shared nestled with those I love on those bittersweet evenings most never appreciated.  Maybe it was God’s way of saying to be together, to hold each other close and somehow stop time.  If I closed my eyes just enough, those memories almost seemed reachable again.  As I emerged into my marshmallow forest, I imagined what it would be like beyond these woods.  These thoughts initially surprised me.  But perhaps there was more.  Perhaps even contentment can give way to discovery. Perhaps discovery gives way to trial and trial therein reveals who you are.  I gazed above, imagining I’ve entered my secret world.  The ground faded and I felt the earth transform to softness beneath my bare feet.  In that moment, I floated into my dreams.  I could not tell you what was real or realer.  My heart beat rhythmically with the music that filled my head and heart and I knew at that very moment I would never be the same again. 

Monday, April 02, 2012

Voice of Grace: Hope's Dance

Yesterday was a huge blessing.  I am not quite sure how to write about it yet, but here goes a try.  Bryan has been friends with a beautiful family for years and years now.  When he met them, Hope, the youngest daughter, was only 3 years old.  Today she is 18 and a Senior in high school who's about to graduate just within a few weeks.  She was actually the flower girl at our reception!!!  I have always admired her spunk, joy and passion.  I love how the Lord gives everyone a different gift.  Hope's gift is dancing, and she does it very well.  A little over a week ago Hope's Mom, D'Nette, called me.  I heard an urgency in her voice and listened as she explained the most beautiful thing to me.  Hope has been dancing with a company ever since she was a toddler.  As a senior this year, she's been given the privileged to choreograph and design her own piece for the annual show.  The theme this year was VOX: Voices in Motion.  The neat part about it, was the dancers voices were not audible, they were expressed in their motions.  Each senior chose a song, created the set and costumes and choreograph a specific number.  Voices in Motion birthed from the idea to give a voice to situations that may only have been one voice standing on its own, but that have mattered.  In fact, before each piece, a small tune sang "All it takes is one voice..."  Tears flowed freely as D'Nette explained that Hope's inspiration for her piece came from me.  She knew the struggles I have faced over the years with Lupus, heart ache, and pain and Hope wanted to express that she never saw me give up and that I always believed even in the confusing sad times.  She had been trying for days to figure out what she was going to dance for and had just about given up, when close to midnight she knew instantly her piece was for me.  The title of it is "Voice of Grace" and she danced to Flicks by Frou Frou.  And although I must admit I had to look up and learn what a Hessian is (a 17th century warrior), my absolute favorite line of this song says "And I'm motioning still..."  It is a declaration to keep going and not give up, and I saw myself in each step she took, grasping, yearning, believing, and straining to keep motioning and keep going.  A few of the dancers were interviewed by the local paper and Hope told them about her piece.  I cried again.  I seem to be doing that alot.  The article is titled Body language: Abilene dance troupe speaks through movement.  She writes:

Carroll is dedicating her sequence to a close family friend who has struggled with lupus, a chronic disease that causes the body's immune system essentially to attack its host.
The young woman's grace under duress inspired Carroll to design her dance as an ode to optimism and faith.
"Being in her presence makes me want to be a better person," Carroll said. "You can look on the brighter side of things and keep going. There's good that can come out of every situation."

I have been so excited to see the performance all week and finally yesterday I sat there as if the only people were the 3 dancers and me in a beautiful room with a beautiful stage and a beautiful artist who danced, glided, and gave HER ALL to show how much she believed what she was dancing.  I was stunned.  At the beginning of her piece, before anyone entered the stage, she precorded a brief explanation.  Her voice rang out clear and strong as she dedicated this dance to me and to the hope I have lived for.  Then, to make it even harder for my tears to be kept at bay, she spoke my most favorite quote by Ricard Bach, "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly."  I sat on the edge of my seat, enthralled and overwhelmed.  It was beautiful.  It was better than I could have ever imagined in my mind.  She wore a flowy shirt like a butterfly.  Another girl and a boy danced with her.  I sincerely could tell they all knew why they were dancing this song.  They felt the story and physically walked my pain and entered into the Grace that comes with the journey.  At one point it looked as if Hope was in great distress.  Her Mom leaned over and whispered gently to me..."Olivia, you know she is really crying up there for you right now."  I looked at Hope's face, and sure enough there were tears, real tears...for me.  And yes, if you must ask, I am crying right now as I write this, just as I was using every tissue I had in my purse yesterday.  One of the neatest sequences was when they all joined hands.  I thought in that moment of all the people who have held me up over the years.  I thought of so many faces.  I thought of D'Nette coming to my hospital room on Josiah's birthday and bringing us dinner and wasn't afraid to help us remember him so freshly, of how my friend Tighe being pregnant sat praying the ENTIRE time in my delivery room just to be a support, of how Ana  wasn't afraid of my sorrow and wanted us near to love us, I thought of Angela and Tighe and the kids doing their butterfly photo and surprising me, I thought of Bryan (I could write a million novels on him for sure) and my mind rewinded to how many times God provided for me.  I thought of Oxford Street and the house God gave me to live in while I went through Chemo, I thought of a couple who sent me spiritual and financial encouragement every single month for a whole year, I thought of my friend LeighAnn who bought me food, and my friend Karin who was very pregnant and bought me an air conditioner and lifted and installed that thing!!!!  I could list these things on and on and on.  God reminded me and I needed this at this very moment. Hopes dance reminded me of how many times God has given me a gift in His provision.  How many times He completely gave me not just what I wanted, but what I needed.  Her dance was a portal you see.  I don't know why God inspired her heart, but I wont try to figure this one out.  I am taking the gift and I want to be faithful with it.  I want it to help me never forget my journey and that although there has been so much struggle, that I have felt the love of God and the love of His people in deeper ways then most people could ever hope for. 

Hope is the kind of person that literally lights up a room.  I know people say this a lot, but I truly mean this.  She is beautiful. There are a lot of people that waste their talents, testimonies, and life, but I know Hope is called to something deeper and she will not be afraid to figure out how to use her life for the best.  Out of all the pieces performed yesterday, hers was the most tasteful, sincere and real.  She didn't chose to dwell on the difficulties even she has faced, but she was able to look into the eyes and heart of someone else and love them.  This shows what kind of person she is.  If we can somehow follow the example of this young beautiful girl, we could bring Light into so many places that just need someone to believe with them.  Thank you Hope for your blessing.  I will treasure it forever.