Monday, December 5, 2011

How To Love a Hedgehog

I've been slacking on writing, I know. But here's your update: I got a hedgehog. And he's teaching me...

I know it sounds really weird. How much can one actually learn from a hedgehog? They have quills, poop a lot, and generally aren't the most social of pets. I named him Ahijah (after the Prophet Ahijah the Shilonite from the Bible) but since autocorrect on my phone keeps changing it to Shikar it has become an understanding in our house that he goes by both names. Ahijah Shikar. Word.

Ahijah has opened my eyes in the past few weeks as I've been discussing the concept of love with some of my closest friends. Let me just go ahead and get this out in the open: I don't understand love. I don't understand God's love, I don't understand love in marriage, nor do I understand love in friendships. Not to say that I don't love because I'll be the first person to tell you I basically love everyone. I just want a definition of love. What is love? How do you show it and know that the person you're showing it to will understand? 

My parents weren't really affectionate towards each other when they were married. Most of the friends I grew up with have fallen off the radar. The one guy that I gave up everything for chose an addiction over me. So with no clear concept of love how am I supposed to understand that this Creator I've never met really loves me? I know people love me, but I don't see it. Please don't misunderstand this as me being ungrateful I'm just saying that I'm that kid that doesn't recognize when someone truly cares because I've never really had a good example. 

Ahijah Shikar is a lot like me. I love this cute little creature with a dark hidden face, weird feet, and quills. To show him love I care for him, feed him, shelter him, bathe him, talk to him, sing to him, and buy him toys. But I have to wear a glove to pick him up because he's scared of me. Hedgehogs curl into a ball when they're scared so that their quills will stand upright and poke whatever is bothering them. No matter how much I care for him, he still gets scared every time I pick him up. He doesn't mean to hurt me, he's just protecting himself.

I don't mean to hurt the people that care about me. I'm just protecting myself. When anyone comes around my wall is up. I'm scared of being hurt so I question intentions, push to see how much it will take before someone walks away, and prepare myself for the worst case scenario. It has happened so many times in the past, so why wouldn't it happen now? Changing this thought process is one of the more difficult tasks in my life. 

Tony Gaskins and Urban D gave a great talk last week on love. Love is to nurture, provide, protect, and cherish. Now this, I can understand. But it will still take time to be able to recognize when this is happening. It will also take time to break down the beliefs the world has put into my head of what love is. Love is not the same as lust. They're two opposite beings that are commonly confused. Today's society tells girls to sleep with guys they barely know for validation and that hopefully, one day, they'll get a ring out of the deal. More often than not they get an STD, a baby, or a broken heart.

Ladies, know your worth. Guys, man up and stop acting like grown boys. God put us on this earth to build each other up not tear each other down. Pleasure only brings pain in the long run so stop running to lust because you're hurting that person AND yourself. And stop depending on people who don't really care about you and are just using you to fulfill their "wants". 

PS-I would definitely recommend that everyone follow Tony Gaskins on Twitter. He keeps it real, honest, and understandable for guys and girls.   

If they can't be there in the down time then they shouldn't be there in the high times. -Tony Gaskins 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Season of Rest

James 5:17 starts out by saying "Elijah was as human as we are..." in context the writer is saying that even though Elijah was an average, everyday guy, he still got to fight for God. He knew that God had his back because he had been filled with the Spirit, he had heard God's voice, and he had seen miracles performed. Yet Elijah still got discouraged. And that's where I come in. Because when I read "Elijah was as human as we are..." all I can think is that it's saying even though all these amazing God-things happened to him... that doesn't mean he's going to turn around and be worry-free.

Pastor Craig went over the four reasons why Elijah was discouraged and I made sure to take each point and really apply it to the things happening in my life right now. Why have I been so discouraged the past few weeks?

-Fatigue: I have been mentally and physically exhausted. I haven't taken any time for myself even when I've told others that I would. I haven't spent time reading. I haven't spent nearly as much time lately praying. I haven't taken time to rest because I didn't want to let anyone down. Resolution: To start saying "no" and really stick with it. Spend lots of time in prayer about what I should and shouldn't be involved in. Go to bed earlier!

-No friends: I miss my friends at home but this is really the one area that I didn't feel applied to me. I have an awesome group of friends who pray for me, support me, and encourage me. I prayed a few weeks ago that God would remove any toxic relationships in my life and all the people that had been the main sources of distress, worry, and discontent seemed to just fall off the grid. People that had been in the background really started to emerge and relationships I had already built became stronger. Resolution: Keep praying and spend quality time with the board of directors of my life.

-Fear: I'm not one to be negative, but I am very sensitive to negativity around me. I easily pick up other people's tension and stress and carry it myself. I can hold onto hope the rest of my life but when I hear others complain about not having faith, or God being unfair, or even just heavily venting it really takes a toll. I start to fall into the same rabbit hole. Resolution: Lessen the time I spend around people who drain me. Stay in God's word. Increase the time I spend with God and people who aren't wavered by their circumstances.

-Perceived Failure: I'm so scared that I won't get this nonprofit up and running God's way. Just because I can't see His entire plan I get freaked out when it seems that something I thought should've happened already hasn't happened on my time. I can be a failure to my family, to my old friends, and to the world... I'm okay with that. If I'm a failure in God's eyes... that would break my heart. Resolution: Be patient. Understand that my schedule is not the same as God's. Understand that the way I think things will play out is not necessarily how God wants it to happen. Persevere. No. Matter. What.

Pastor Tommy's sermon that same night really reiterated everything to me. So often lately I'm the mentor to everyone and I'm the shoulder to lean on. But I've felt like I had nobody to guide and mentor me. So I'll continue to pray for that. But at one point he was saying "God has chosen you. God is about to do amazing things through you to change this city and to change this world. God has filled you with His spirit. You have to have faith that your obedience will pay off." And even though I know he was speaking to the entire congregation I couldn't hold in the tears. I've been needing to hear that for so long. I've been so discouraged from being obedient and not seeing MY expectations met of what I thought was supposed to be done by now. As we listened to Benjah perform later that night I really just allowed myself to get lost in the music for a minute and stop worrying about everything going on around me. I had spent different pockets of my day with Ilene, Darla, Mario, Megan, Amy, Jamie, and the Davila crew and really just realized how blessed I was to have these people in my life on such a hectic Sunday. God has sent me the people I need and who need me, and taken away the people who were eating away at my peace.

Resolution: Don't commit to anything until January. Spend the next two months with God, family, and friends. Take a good look at myself and what I hope to accomplish for God in 2012. Love on the children in my life. Tidy up. Lean on God. Realize that I am only human and I will get discouraged too. But know that when I do start feeling like that, I have people to talk to and God to listen.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In one word...

I love dinners with my friends back home in Virginia. I love sitting around the table and enjoying a bottle of wine and plates of amazing food. Whenever I’m in town we all catch up for one night at my favorite restaurant and it has become a tradition I look forward to no matter what it is that’s bringing me home. A few weeks ago while we were dining, conversation turned to the guys I had dated in the past. If you ask my friends to sum up every guy I’ve dated in one word they all agree on “worthless”. Ouch. What does this say about my character if the men I’ve chosen to spend my time and energy on are all considered worthless to my friends? It’s not the first time I had heard that… it started in high school, but it’s astounding to me that years down the road I have many new friends that still have that same word in common when describing guys I’ve been interested in… worthless.

This past Sunday I was at Crossover and Pastor Tommy was speaking about Paul’s letters from jail. In Philippians 3:7-8 he tells everyone in Philippi “These things that I once considered valuable, I now consider worthless for Christ. It’s far more than that! I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord! It’s because of him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain Christ.”

There it was again! Worthless! But in hearing this it occurred to me that I can’t be so hard on myself. Everything I ever strived for that wasn’t Christ-centered was, in fact, worthless! The money, the fame, the guys… worthless! So I really dove into the Bible and wanted to find out more about what was worthless so I could just avoid it from now on or even just how to pray for wisdom of what is worthless in my father’s eyes. This is what I found:
Turn my eyes away from worthless things. Give me a new life in your ways. –Psalm 119:37
The tongue of a righteous person is pure silver. The hearts of wicked people are worthless. –Proverbs 10:20
A worthless person plots trouble, and his speech is like a burning fire. –Proverbs 16:27  

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I found Job 15:31 – “He shouldn’t trust in worthless things and deceive himself because he will get worthless things in return.” – and it hit me like a brick! All these years I put all my effort into getting things or people that I thought would complete me or make me greater. Christ is the only one who can do that. With every little gift he has given me lately it just adds onto my recognition that everything else is so worthless. My friend, Megan, will be the first to tell you I’m still learning… but it’s all so worth it in the end.

Stop going after worthless worldly things. Just because everyone is saying it’s better for you to have something or be with someone doesn’t mean that’s true. Find the truth in the words written in red. Every job I ever took because it would make me lots of money: Worthless. Every outfit I ever bought to turn somebody’s head: Worthless. Every ambition I ever had that was solely focused on pride and vengeance: Worthless. Every guy I ever dated without seriously considering God’s will for me: Worthless. Knowing that I’m being obedient, walking with my father on a daily basis, and patiently waiting while I rest in faith that all things will work for his glory: Priceless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I knew you... I set you apart

            Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. It’s like God gave me this vision but I feel like I’m so ill-equipped to carry it out. What do I know about a nonprofit? What do I know about foster kids? How much could I have really ever learned about construction for only working in the business less than a year?
          I’m not one to usually doubt myself and especially not God, but the last three weeks have really played into every insecurity I could possibly have. I keep telling God I can’t do this and He keeps sending others to affirm the vision. I even had a talk with my mom the other week to ask her to not question anything I was doing but to constantly encourage me and pray for me. I’m doubting myself enough and I don’t need anyone else to even hint at my insufficiencies. Why would God want me to start and run a nonprofit when the only business I’ve ever run was a nightclub? Maybe He was preparing me for the drama.
          I was reading the first chapter of Jeremiah this morning and I knew God was speaking to me. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” As I read this it occurred to me how crazy it is that I’ve wanted to adopt kids since I was in preschool. What four year old do you know that even grasps the concept of adoption? God knew before I was born that He would show me this vision one day – God has already appointed me to this nonprofit.
          As I read Jeremiah 1:6-8 it became clearer, “I, Jeremiah, said, ‘Almighty Lord, I do not know how to speak. I am only a boy!’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Don’t say that you are only a boy. You will go wherever I send you. You will say whatever I command you to say. Don’t be afraid of people. I am with you, and I will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.” Here I was thinking the whole time that it was all self-doubt and I realized that my insecurity wasn’t the main problem! It was me worrying that other people would doubt and judge me along the way. People can say what they want about me not having experience or about me being the crazy girl with dreams, it’s never stopped me before and now that God is behind me why should it stop me this time?
          So I’m preparing myself. I’m putting on the full armor that God has given me and I’m not giving up. In fact, if I hadn’t had this vision I probably wouldn’t have ever thought that I could do this, but God showed me His promise and what it is that He wants me to work toward. He told me in Jeremiah 1:19, “They will fight you, but they will not defeat you. I am with you, and I will rescue you…” No matter what has you doubting yourself lately, and no matter the opposition that crosses your path, know that God will rescue you. He knows exactly where He’s taking you, and so what if people judge you or gossip about you or the enemy stands in your way… they will not defeat you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's in a Ring?

I'm not the type to wear jewelry. Each piece of jewelry that I wear more often than not has a meaning. Usually you'll see me with my Easter cross necklace my mom gave me, my Alzheimer's necklace in support of Mema and Granddaddy, a bracelet from my mom that reads "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams", my baptism ring, and two silly bands for my favorite college and pro football teams. Everything is pretty no frills.

A few months ago I decided I wanted a purity ring and found the perfect one for $10 on ShopSCAD. It was called "Waiting" and had a Mona Lisa-esque face on it with filigree on the sides. My mom got it for me and two weeks later it cracked in half. I was heartbroken. Yes it was cheap. Yes I only had it for a short time. But the significance behind the ring meant everything to me and to have it lying in the palm of my hand in two pieces gave me a distinct feeling of desolation. 
      des-o-la-tion (n): -a state of complete emptiness or destruction
                               -anguished misery or loneliness
      synonyms: devastation - havoc - ravage - destruction - solitude

I know! I know! I sound totally dramatic right now! How could a plastic ring breaking make me feel totally empty? Because it was more than plastic. It meant something. There was significance. There was a powerful reason I was wearing it and when the ring broke part of me felt like the reasoning was gone too. 

Up to that point I had never really felt like that about a piece of jewelry and I still didn't really understand why I was so emotional about it. But this past week I was thrown into the pit yet again by ANOTHER piece of bling. 

When my dad's side of the family started having kids it was boy after boy after beautiful baby boy. My nanny and my granny (my dad's grandmother and mother) set-up a deal... the first granddaughter would get both of their engagement rings. And guess who came along... my first word ended up being "pretty" because all I ever heard from any of them was "pretty girl".

Nanny died when I was around seven years old, and Granny continued to call me her first granddaughter rather than my name half the time. It was a badge I was happy to wear... even though she only ended up having two granddaughters. I've known about the ring deal practically my whole life and had a plan that if my granny passed away before I was engaged that I wanted the two diamonds to be included in my own engagement ring. When I heard that Granny passed away last week it occurred to me that I could use her ring as a substitute for the plastic purity ring that had broken not long before. What would be more perfect than wearing my granny's diamond in remembrance of her and as a promise to God? She would be proud, right?

One of the first things my dad said when we got to Virginia was "Granny didn't leave you her ring in the will. But here's this one." He handed me a sterling silver ring with a marquise cut jewel on it. It could be a diamond... but it's doubtful. And as the days passed, the resentment thickened. It seemed my granny had all but crossed me off the will, leaving me a box of quarters. My other female cousin got practically everything my granny had ever told me would be handed down to my daughters and me. I even found out the gold "Y" pin that my dad had given me as a consolation of sorts was actually supposed to go to my sister-in-law... so I handed it over.

As for the ring I got. Nobody knows the story behind it. It might be from some guy who Granny was engaged to before she eventually broke off the engagement and then he passed away. Or it could be from this other guy; a man that my dad and my aunts avoid talking about who was also engaged to Granny... a man that may or may not have intentionally burned down half of my granny's house many years ago. So I have this ring that I don't really know what it is or what it signifies, and the desolate feeling is back. Please don't misunderstand me. It wasn't about having something worth some amount of money - it was about having something that MEANT something to my granny. Something significant. Something with a reason behind it. It seems that every hypothesis of this ring I wear has a negative connotation. This is what I'm left with.

For some reason I can't take it off. I act like I don't want it. It hurts me so badly and there's a sting of rejection every time I twirl it on my finger, but I know there has to be some lesson in this. So for now I'll wear the "reject ring" and wonder what the story is behind it. Maybe I'll still wear it as my purity ring, a ring I'll be more than happy to trade in when the day comes. Genesis 41:51 says: Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Maybe when I have a ring of my own, that will be my Manasseh... to forget the hurt, rejection, and desolation of the ring before it. Because even if my husband gives me a ring made of straw, I'll know I'm worth more to him than a box of quarters. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I know the plans I have for you...

A year ago today I started my prayer journal. If you don't have one I suggest you start one. Not that I want to keep track of what I've asked God for and what He has delivered... but it's so good to see how my heart has changed over the past twelve months. It's especially crazy to see the irony and humor of God when I go back and look at certain things I was praying for and how He answered those prayers. Most of them were "no", many of them were "wait a while", and few of them were "yes". But I've been so blessed and the people that I've prayed for have been blessed. There are people in that journal that will never know how many days I prayed for them, but I hope they see the difference God has made in their lives this year.

My prayer journal went from asking for forgiveness all the time (because I didn't feel like I was worthy to ask for anything) and has evolved into
"Sun Stand Still" prayers. And ever since August 23rd, my vision has radically changed not only the way I pray and who I pray for, but my understanding that even though I got a glimpse I will never see God's WHOLE vision. Things that a year ago I would have brushed off as crazy coincidences are now being recognized as God's hand at work. It used to be that I just prayed and expected dramatic changes... but now I listen, pay attention, and if that doesn't work I ask Him to be so in-my-face that there's no way I can ignore it. (Warning: That prayer can often times lead to God pulling things out of your life that you weren't willing to get rid of yourself - but have faith it's always for the better)

The cover and theme of my prayer journal is Jeremiah 29:11 (see inset).picked it because a year ago today I knew that I needed to trust in God's plan. Every plan I had ever made had fallen apart at my feet. God had been trying to lead me for years and I kept walking down my own path instead of His straight and narrow one. 

God has something so amazing in store for all of us but the hardest and best thing for you really is just giving up all control. Let go.

The secret is praying for the desires of your heart and aligning them with His Word. Pray powerfully.

The most meaningful way to acknowledge Him is to praise Him even during your hardest times because you know that something so abundant will come from your trials. Have faith.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lose Yourself. Lose Your Hair.

     Identity is a tricky thing as a Christian. We all get recognized for something but what happens when that one thing becomes too distracting for others to see God in you? It could be anything from a job, your style, hobbies, or your past. For me, I've realized it's my hair. 

     As funny as it sounds, lately I've been feeling like God has been sending me little messages here and there telling me my hair has got to go. Well, little messages AND very clear ones. I've been dying my hair since 6th grade so of course I came up with all the usual arguments... "but God a lot of people who aren't saved ask me about my hair!" or "God, my hair isn't making me or anyone else stumble... and it's ME" or even "it's just hair, so why ask for this when you know how much I love it?". And with every question there was a reply, "people should be asking you about ME", "you're identity should be in ME... I am a jealous God", "leave yourself and hold no idols above ME". 

     Ouch! For years I've had this crazy hair and part of what I love about it is that people who normally wouldn't speak to me walk straight to me to ask about it or tell me how much they like it. God has been asking that I humble myself, get rid of the daily ego-boost, and do something that people will ask about where I'll be forced to talk about His glory. Changing my hair would do exactly that. All my friends know that my hair is held in high regard in my life and going back to a plain brown would certainly raise some questions for anyone who has ever run into me. I've been asking God for months to show me what gets in the way of our relationship or what I haven't given up from my old life and He definitely showed me. Not to say that I couldn't go back to crazy hair later, but it has to go for now. And as I've told people that this has become a recent struggle they're also taking notice of how many people comment on my hot pink head on a daily basis. This may sound like something very trivial to many people but to me this is a HUGE deal... and God knows that. So He asked me, "Why are you holding onto this one small thing when I'm offering you so much more?"

     I'm losing myself daily. I must become less so that He may become more. So now the problem is how do I get back to the basics? I'm already on a tight budget. My hairstylist, who is also in love with the freedom he has in doing my hair, would probably kill me if I ever asked him to return me to my roots. I feel like everyday I hold off on doing this I'm postponing God's plan for my life and the nonprofit. So I'll continue to pray that if this is what He really wants He will provide a way. 

She knelt at his feet. She was crying and washed his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them over and over again, and poured the perfume on them. -Luke7:38

Monday, August 29, 2011

Chasing God & Building an Ark

       I haven't written in two weeks. There wasn't much to write about. Not that God hasn't been amazing, because he has... he proves to me everyday exactly how amazing he is. But this week my life changed.

       My plan ever since I was a pre-schooler was to adopt kids. Yes, I want children of my own too but my heart has always ached for the motherless. It wasn't something I ever really talked about. I told my mom once when I was four that I was going to adopt simply because I didn't see any point in bringing more children into the world if there were already so many out there that didn't have parents. My view has changed a bit, but my passion has not. But growing up, I didn't feel like explaining that to anyone so I always just kept my mouth shut. As the girls around me planned their future weddings and picked out baby names, I was busy thinking of how I could become wealthy so I could afford to adopt multiple children. 

       I dedicated the last eight years to chasing fame and fortune. My heart was in the right place, but my mind was taken over by every possible distraction along the way. I would have done just about anything to "make it". There were many times I had to walk away because I realized people were asking too much of me, taking advantage of me, or having expectations of me that I wasn't willing to fulfill. Throughout the battle I became bruised and beaten, lost my direction, and at times... lost hope. But God never lost me.

       I've always had my faith. Even though there have been times I've been angry with God or haven't been able to understand why things didn't seem to work out the way I wanted - I always knew that I wasn't completely alone. But I wasn't willing to give him everything. I had plans. I had dreams. Even though I had messed up along the way I knew God knew that I was out working for a good cause. 

       This past year has been an eye-opening year. Not everything has been great, in fact this has been one of the toughest years ever for me financially. But I decided that God could have everything. It didn't all come at once... I've been taking baby steps. But with each step that I take I become more aware of the little miracles around me. I started writing down my prayers and talking to God whenever I had a chance. I started making business decisions based on prayer and discernment. I started tithing again, cutting coupons, and watching where I was spending what I had been blessed with. I started chasing God and building relationships with other people in the church. And I stopped worrying about the things I knew God would handle for me.

       Like I wrote earlier, this week changed my life. In the middle of a conversation with God I had a vision. A few days later a friend told me she had prayed for me and somebody else that was in the vision. At the end of the week, another friends told me she had a dream... that happened to go hand-in-hand with my vision. Let me let you know I have never had a vision before. And to be quite honest, I thought I was losing my mind. I was embarrassed and reluctant to talk about it because I know a lot of people already think I'm not all there just because of my pink hair. I called a few people when I first had the vision to ask their opinions, and when I would get into conversation later on in the week I felt like God was urging me to share my vision with others. Now, it looks like God is making it clear that in order to be obedient I need to keep sharing the vision as I patiently wait for doors to open. 

       The good news is: God's plan is based on my passion for adoption and fostering. The scary news: it seems like a HUGE task! And there are people involved in this vision that barely know me. So how am I supposed to approach them without scaring them off? But that's when I think of Noah. I picture people laughing at him while he built the ark and questioning how he thought he would move that monstrosity to water. I can see me in his shoes with a hammer in my hand saying "God said build a big boat... so that's what I'm doing. If you've got a problem with it, take it up with the  big guy." 

       I know this won't be easy, and I know there are pieces and people here that only God can put into place but through him, nothing is impossible. I need supporters, I need fundraisers, I need steel-toe boots, and I need your prayers as I begin my "ark". 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Picture Perfect

       I'm sitting here, watching the rain outside, bumping some Urban Sophisticates and looking at old pictures. I've always loved pictures and just the chance to sit around and reminisce. I have thousands of pictures on Facebook, hundreds at my mom's house, and two or three scrapbooks laying around my dad's house. I started doing make shift photo-shoots when I was probably a pre-schooler with the photographer and close family friend that lived next door to us and I've loved doing them ever since. 

       When I was in high school I developed an obsession with taking pictures. After losing a close friend before freshman year I started looking around for pictures of the two of us together and could only find one of the many I knew we took. The picture is from my thirteenth birthday party... she's sitting on the couch in my basement (that was the same exact couch she had in her basement), staring straight at  the camera, while I'm laying on the couch leaning on her and looking off to the side. It's the only one. The pictures we took around the pond, in my backyard, of us goofing off in our rooms, the rest are gone. The one I have framed is the only one I can find of us. I wanted more to look at, I wanted more to remember. 

       About a year later my grandaddy started to show signs of Alzheimer's. I watched his memories get twisted and fragile as they slowly disappeared. What he could remember, and what he was presently living were all skewed into one reality. My family got together a scrapbook and framed pictures of all the grandchildren for him to look at. But when he was having an episode or lapse of memory he could look at the pictures of all of us and name us even if he didn't realize we were the people standing right in front of him. 

       Like I said, I became obsessed with pictures. Taking pictures, being in pictures, finding pictures, sorting pictures, looking through pictures. About a year ago I decided I was going to organize all the pictures in my mom's collection... we're talking huge tupperware bins full of birthdays, chicken pox, first days of school, halloweens, and vacations. While my mom was in the hospital I took over her living room with piles and piles of memories. My brother and sister (who happens to be a photographer) were staying at the house and helping out, and I can remember telling my brother names of people that were in pictures taken before I was even born. I've seen these pictures over and over again. I've pulled out the bins before just to scour through the fading gloss and ask questions about the people I didn't know. These pictures are my blood. In fact, the past couple of months I've been chastising myself because I don't think I ever got a picture of my uncle Gigi and me before he passed this year.

       Every time I hear about a house burning down I think about the things I would grab. But I know it'd be useless. The material things don't matter as long as my family is safe, but I would be devastated if I lost all my pictures. Going digital hasn't helped my anxiety either, I'm always worried my computer will crash or Facebook will disappear and I won't be able to access photos I need. Sure, after looking at them as often as I do, I can tell you every detail about my favorites... the clothes people are wearing, the way we're interacting, when and where it was taken and the way I felt that day. Test me. I dare you. 

       As I watch Mema walking down the same path my grandaddy did I've come to terms with the fact that it's a good possibility Alzheimer's will affect my mom, uncles, cousins, brothers, and probably me. It's been hard to see it happening again, but easier this time because we've been prepared and know that we can't control it. The symptoms are a little different with her, and my aunt and uncle have been so generous to move her into their house. The layout is different, her responsibilities are gone, her furniture is brand new... but when you walk into her room you can't help but notice that covering every wall and surface are pictures of her entire family. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Legacy

     Family traditions and heirlooms are often thought of to be only for milestones or certain holidays. Things that are passed down tend to offer an emotional security blanket to the recipient. A sort of reminder that our friends and family have passed down something important for us to carry on. With that being said: it is a huge possibility that I will disown my children if they don't like football.
     I have a true love of football. You can thank my mom and uncles for my raucous yelling whether I'm at a game or in front of the t.v. - and the family football heirloom was passed down to them from my grandaddy. Football is more than gridiron and pigskins to me. It's my family legacy. Watching the game gives me time to reflect on what my grandaddy would say if he were there with me. He would playfully lecture me on reasons I should have stayed loyal to my family's dear Redskins rather than work for, and eventually befriend, the enemy... the Bucs. But then he would tell me it's okay on one condition... I must never, ever, under any circumstances... become a Cowboys' fan.

     When I had the chance to take my uncle, mom, and cousin to a game last season I jumped on it. I talked about it for weeks before game day. What I thought would be a great day of football and bonding turned into one of the most memorable days of my life, and all I could think of was how my grandaddy was probably watching over us and just laughing all day at the awesomeness of our experience. This was his hope for us, we were his children and grandchildren living out a legacy that he probably dreamed up in his lifetime. That day was a gift. That was my heirloom.

     I'm a big sports fan, and I have to be honest I don't think I could marry a guy that doesn't support that. A coach and his team are a great example of how a family should work. Football isn't about the money the players are making. It's about heart. It's about seeing people give everything they have as a team, when so often in life we work alone and rarely reach our full potential. My grandaddy was a steadfast coach. He lead us to be faithful... to God and football.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who Am I?

     Every time I think I know exactly who I am and exactly where I stand something knocks me to my knees and it takes awhile for me to build myself back up. Not that I lose my confidence, but there's a new path of discovery to find out who I'm growing into. There are certain things that have never changed... I'd much rather wear sneakers than heels, I've always collected fitted caps, my obsession with sports isn't considered normal for a girl,  I have vivid dreams that I can remember for years, and even though I may not always order it... I want the most expensive item on the menu. Priorities change, relationships change, beliefs change, interests change and it's more constant than most people realize. Even things that I thought would be constant in my life... in the blink of an eye... are different. 

    So rather than try to introduce myself and tell you who I am... I'll just clue you in to who I am right now.

     This week, I'm craving my favorite restaurant in my hometown, Mangia. Not just the food, I want a group of my friends sitting around the table sharing a bottle of wine and the stories I've been missing for the past seven months. My playlist has been filled with Lily Allen, Jamie Foxx, Iron & Wine, Forever Jones, and Dolly Parton. I'm amazed by apps on my phone. My hair is cotton candy pink, magenta, purple, and black. I cried the other night because I was worrying why people have been treating me the way they have, but when I woke-up I didn't care. I'm broke. I love God. I plan to spend part of my next paycheck on a carwash and new capri pants. Tonight I'm painting my nails a light yellow color called "Unicorn" but it depends on how tired I am if I paint my toenails. 

     I want to be alone most of the time, and for the first time in a long time, that's fine. I just want to read and write. Life, although so complex at times, can be very simple when you take the time to sit by yourself. It has been a really long time since I scheduled a "date night" for me, myself.... and I if she feels like being a third wheel. 

     Things are changing, but that's good. If things never changed I'd still be in Lynchburg. I would have never fallen in love. My heart would never have been broken, and therefore I never would have learned how to truly forgive someone. I would still run from the helpful straight into the arms of hurtful. If things didn't change I'd be a little freckle-faced brunette with a good heart, a bad attitude, and the world on my shoulders. I've taken what I've gotten and grown from it all. I'll never pretend to be perfect, I'd rather be amazing in my imperfections. At least for this week.