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.