Monday, November 30, 2009

Where do I go from here?

Where do I even begin? Quite frankly, I'm utterly brokenhearted at being home again. I love my country, I love my family and my friends and sure, the comforts of home are nice. But, I left my heart in Central America and I think its there to stay. Its been years since I've cried this much this many days in a row. It was an incredible week, really, it was. Yet, my heart is devastated at the pain some of those children are going through. Take away the poverty, take away the lack of clean water, take away the hunger, and its still terrible. There are still gangs, there are still fatherless boys, motherless girls. There is still death, there is still tragedy, there is still loss. Add the poverty, hunger, dirty water, and it nothing short of shocking. God broke my heart much more on this trip. I sit here, with a pain in my chest greater than I can even describe. My heart has literally been aching these past few days. I feel shattered inside, I feel lost, I feel completely torn in two. I fell in love with those smiling faces with sad eyes. My soul is bound with a community that I never would have expected. Had you told me 2 years ago that I would be aching for Guatemala, and I doubt I would have believed you. I expected my heart to be sold to Africa and Middle East. Don't get my wrong, I feel tremendously for that region of the world. My heart hurts for the children of Uganda and I know that it always will. I hurt for the people of the Middle East and the way their land has been torn apart by war. But that is an expected pain for me. Guatemala hit me like a ton of bricks that came out of nowhere.

Two boys in particular stole my heart completely. Their home lives are enough to make anyone cry. I have a distinct remembrance of both of them from my last trip. One of the boys stands out in my memory because of the intense sadness that covered him. His eyes seemed to be pleading for an escape, for a respite from the daily existence that was his life. I had a few pictures of him, smile-less and empty. Things haven't changed since February. At the start of the week, he caught my eye right away, still stoic in expression. He ended up in one of my classes, and ritual began between us where I would give him a huge hug and kiss each time I saw him and would then proceed to push up the corners of his mouth into a smile. After a few minutes, it would typically turn into a real smile, however slight it might be. There would be times where the weight on his shoulders would win out, leaving that small mouth in a straight line. Heartbreaking doesn't begin to describe how I felt looking at this kid.

Something happened with him though... Perhaps it was the relief of being away from home. Or perhaps it was his soul getting a chance to express itself. Whatever it was, I began to see this boy come alive in my class. The transformation was shocking in its unexpectancy. He would get so excited when the music came on, as if it was transcending in its presence. That was the moment where the awful bus ride out to the camp, the heat, the sweat, the preparation, the anxiety was all completely worth it. Just for that moment of seeing him smile, unabashed and free. I swear I could practically hear the heavens singing the hallelujah chorus, rejoicing as much as I was at this boy being freed from the sadness that surrounded him.

I spent a chunk of the week going out of my way to make this boy feel loved. By the end of the week, the change in this kid was incredible. He was smiling and laughing and playing. I found out that the other boy that had taken me so much was his brother, so I knew that the same situation and sadness was around him as well. I don't recall ever feeling such violent love for kids that I just met. All I wanted to do was to help take the hurt away, to remove them from their reality and give them some relief. I loved them so much that it actually hurt.

I believe that I got a small taste of how Christ loves us. In a way that is violent in its sheer power, all consuming in its force. That love is nearly suffocating, to the point where breathing almost becomes optional because your heart is so full that your lungs don't have room to expand. Its the kind of love that takes you over, that would give you the courage to do anything, give any sacrifice.

It was hard seeing this little 12 year old boy the day after the camp was over. That sadness had come right on top of him again, the childish smile gone, the eyes back to that same emptiness. Saying goodbye to him was extraordinarily difficult... I felt as if my heart was being ripped out of my chest. As I told him that I loved him, his lips began to quiver. At that moment it hit me that he wasn't used to hearing those words often. At 12 years old, he wasn't used to being told that he was loved. No child should ever have to grow up like that.

I don't know where to go from here, honestly. I've only been gone for a few days and I feel as if I might explode. My heart is still aching in my chest, the tears are still running down my face. My heart is so broken, and as much as it hurts, I want it to stay that way. When God breaks your heart for people, it is the beginning of understanding his love. Its hard, its painful, but its the only thing that is truly worth it in life.

Such a medicine is love.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Great is Thy Faithfulness

You know those days where you can clearly see a lesson to be learned? Friday was one of those days for me, without a doubt. I went through the first part of my day at the office, trying my hardest to concentrate, which isn't the easiest when you're about to embark on a journey of the proportions I knew my trip would be. I left early, hurried home, and began the final preparations of my luggage. My heart was undoubtedly pounding in my chest from sheer anticipation.

I am a naturally distracted person. Anyone that knows me should understand this one thing about me, if nothing else. It has to do with my overactive brain and inability to calm my thoughts down enough to relax. Its probably not the best quality to have, but its the way that I am and it probably won't ever change. The major downfall of said distraction is that one tends to not pay attention to the location of one's cell phone. This causes some problems when said cell phone is in one's back pocket and one attempted to use the restroom. My cell phone nearly came to its final resting place at the bottom of my toilet, which would have been the second phone this year to meet its end in a container of water. Its become a joke, really. A sad, pathetic, funny joke. Thankfully, my phone seems to be mostly ok. Last I checked only a few buttons were being fritzy.

My flight out of Philly was delayed for 45 minutes. Considering that I only had an hour to connect to my flight in Houston, I was definitely feeling a bit anxious. My plan landed with 20 minutes to spare, and naturally, it took a while to deboard. I took off the second my feet hit the terminal (I believe it was the first time I actually ran through an airport). They were boarding my flight by the time I reached my gate. Naturally, we sat on the tarmac for an hour after boarding, which is never fun. It was late, I was tired, and hungry, and had a nasty headache from not eating.

As I sat in my cramped seat, battling with hunger and pain, I started looking back on my day. My own rushing had caused my phone to nearly die. But it didn't. I almost missed my connecting flight. But I didn't. I was hungry. But I would be eating soon. I had a headache. But I had medicine for that. The faithfulness of my Father hit me like a ton of bricks. My phone definitely should not be ok. I had only missed one meal that day. There are millions of people around the world who don't have the conveniences of industrial life. There are millions of children dying from malnutrition. I had only missed one meal.

My savior's faithfulness was astounding. I don't know why it was so apparent to me on Friday. He is faithful every single day. But for some reason, it was my lesson for the day, and I have a feeling it will be my lesson for this trip. He is so faithful.

Great is thy faithfulness, oh God, my Father.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Day Back

The first day back in the ghetto was the same as most days in the ghetto: fast and busy. The day started off with not nearly enough sleep, lots of coffee, a few minutes lying in the newly hung hammocks and then the insanity began.

The first hour in the ghetto was spent with Dulce and her mom and sister. It was an amazing time. In February, Dulce was extremely shy, hanging back a bit with sideways glances. I felt as if I was a guest in her home, welcome but not quite part of the family. This time, everything was different. Dulce met me at the door with a massive hug that lasted at least 5 minutes. She was glued to me for the entire visit, sitting in my lap, showing me magazines, toys and the picture of me that I had given her. It seemed that I had become part of her family, her mom was more relaxed (and also made the most incredible papaya juice. Like, really, really good). Her dad was unfortunately not able to be there since he was working, but he did call to ask if I was there. It was hard leaving, as it was last time. I really felt that I had become part of her family, and another small piece of my heart was chipped of and left behind.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in meetings in preparation for the camp. They were as exciting as meetings usually are. This evening found Leah, Donnie and I out for dinner at Cafe Saul, housing the most incredible crepes known to mankind. Like, seriously. So. Freaking. Good. I may actually open a franchise in Philly. They are that amazing.

This trip has just begun. I'm tired already. I know that its going to be a hard week, hard in the sense that it will be demanding and exhausting. I'm very excited though. Excited for seeing God's hand in these kids, excited to watch His faithfulness continue to abound, excited for the things that I will learn and the ways I will be stretched. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Round Dos

In 4 days, I will be heading back to the place where I left my heart about 8 months ago. La Limonada has been on my heart and mind every single day since I left in February, and I have been craving to go back. This past summer when the opportunity to teach the kids at an arts camp arose, it quickly became apparent that God was clearing the path for me to go. Guatemalan kids.... sunshine... dance... the beach... Really, how can I say no to that?!

I'm a bit more nervous this time around. Last time, I was a little anxious about the actual traveling aspect, never having flown internationally and being by myself. This time, I'm nervous about teaching. This may sound ridiculous, considering the fact that I've been teaching for 10 years and it should be something that comes so naturally to me now. But, I have been on a sabbatical for the past 18 months, only teaching intermittently. Plus, this time I will be teaching with a language and a cultural barrier. Its just a tad intimidating. I'm excited, don't get me wrong. Very excited. But, I woke up this morning with my stomach somewhere around the region on my vocal cords, feeling way more anxious than I'd like to admit. I'm doubting myself and my ability to pull this off. Pretty severely, in fact.

Perhaps its just a spiritual test. We all know how much Satan likes to batter us down, make us feel like we aren't worthy or good enough. But normally when he does that, its because he's scared. He's scared because he knows the power that we hold when we are moving in our God-given talents and using them to affect other people's lives. If I were him, I'd be scared too. When we are moving in the things of God, we become warriors. Warriors with Uzis coming against an enemy with a water pistol. Satan is really rather pathetic when we look at him in his true light.

I covet your prayers over the next week and a half. I ask for prayer for the kids, for the teachers, and for the time that we'll get to spend ministering to them inside, and outside, the classroom. I know that its going to be an incredible week. Sadly, I may not be able to keep you posted to the same extent as last time, due to a possible lack of internet connection. But, have no fear... You will hear stories when I return.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

City Living and Roaches

I have come to the official conclusion that I hate old houses. Especially when they are in cities. I used to love them. Alot. Why is it that we can never just have nice things that we like without them being tainted? I wish I knew...

I found a cockroach today. Considering that I live in an old house in the city, I suppose this is to be expected. I hate cockroaches. I hate bugs. But cockroaches are up there with spiders and millipedes on my list of things that I absolutely abhor. Now, I would probably have been able to handle having a roach in my house. But this one happened to be found in my bed. My bed!! My sacred place of all things nice and cozy and warm! The devil invaded my very precious throne of goodness with its vile presence.

Now, this wasn't some tiny little cockroach. It had to have been at least an inch and a half long. I honestly wasn't sure what it was at first. I'm not used to having roaches in my house. There was the initial freak out of seeing it in the first place, and in my bed, which is possibly the worst possible place to find a large bug. I quickly scrambled out of bed and grabbed the first thing I could get my hands on. It happened to be a slipper. Not exactly the best weapon against one of Satan's minions, but it would have to do. I skirted around the edge of the bed, keeping a sharp eye on the monster, certain it might attack with those large claw looking things at any second. As I moved the covers to get a good look at it, it began to move much quicker than I would have liked. I'm pretty sure that I was dancing around in disgust as I swatted at it to get it off the bed and onto the flat surface of the floor before I could slay the beast with my almighty slipper. I really wished I had a blowtorch right around this moment. It would make my life so much easier.

I managed to get the thing off the bed, onto the floor and successfully smooshed. After discarding said beast, I made the very large mistake of googling cockroaches to see what they looked like. I know a roach when I see it outside. I'm not so certain when they're in my house and invading my bed. I'm pretty sure I wish I would have left well enough alone. I now have the creepy crawlies so bad that I can't even bear to put my feet under the covers. Its entirely possible that I may never sleep again. Ever.

Also, I'm not quite sure what the point is of having two cats who can't detect, let alone kill, big nasty bugs. I mean, really. Its just not right.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Effecting Change

I have lofty dreams and ideas. Or maybe they're delusions. I haven't quite decided yet. The Superman complex seems to have overtaken my life, but not in the haughty, obnoxious way. I just want to save the world. Plain and simple. Becoming a catalyst to effect change has become a mission, a charge from on high that my life simply must echo, morph into.

My new job has afforded me the awesome opportunity to head up the philanthropic arm of the company, which is an incredible occasion for me to gain experience doing the things I actually want to end up doing one day. Its been awesome for me to have a team of people who want to effect change in the community around them, and were just waiting for someone to step up to the helm. Its been an interesting and humbling experience for me thus far. I had someone that I respect at the office tell me something along the lines of, "people will follow a leader like you... including me." I think that was one of the most powerful things anyone has ever said to me. Being a leader is not something that I have ever necessarily aspired to. I've never taken any steps intentionally in that direction. And yet to have someone point that out in me was... strange. Exciting, almost. Not in an egotistical way, but in the way that if I can be a leader, I can be that catalyst to effect change.

I have discovered that much of that effecting is tied to finances, which has posed a significant challenge. Fundraising has never been a feat I had to face. If you've never done it, it is daunting. Like, holy crap. Naturally, I don't have on my heart to do the simpler things, one that could be done with small contributions throughout the company employees (not that we aren't doing those things as well). No. Of course not. I have dreams of health clinics in Africa and building processing plants for plumpy'nut in remote areas of the world. I oft feel like I've completely gone off my rocker. Who am I to think I can accomplish such things?

I presume that God will just have to move some mountains.

Be the change you want to see in the world.- Gandhi

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Adventures of Brita

Step 1: Remove filter from package. Step 2: Remove aerator from faucet.

You know you're in trouble when you get stuck at Step 2. I didn't even know what an aerator on a faucet was until about 20 minutes ago. One of the first things I discovered as a new Philadelphian is that the water down here is awful. I truthfully have zero desire to know what's swimming around in the stuff that comes out of my faucet. I feel a bit sorry for giving it to my cats, and they lick their own butts. That's saying a lot.

Upon my discovery, I started purchasing bottled water. I love the convenience of having bottled water on hand, but the expense of it adds up quickly (particularly when you consume as much water as I do) and I hate thinking of all my convenient water bottles ending up in some landfill that could be put to better use. Considering the fact that my refrigerator is approximately the size of a postage stamp, that excluded purchasing gallon jugs of water. 5 weeks after the big move, I had an epiphany. "I'll just buy a Brita filter! Eureka!" Sometimes I amaze myself at my own brilliance.

At my second trip to Target today, I find the Brita pitchers, thanks to help from a friend 60 miles away who knew where to find them (thanks, Tunes. I'd probably still be looking for them). But, alas! I suddenly remember that, due to the postage stamp, I can't actually get a pitcher. It won't fit in my tiny fridge. What to do, what to do?

I have no idea how I managed to forget that they have filters that screw right onto your faucet. Probably because I've never had need for one. Happening upon the faucet filtration system was terribly exciting, probably the highlight of my week. "I'll just take this little beauty home and screw it right on my little faucet in my little kitchen. Oh joy!" I thought to myself.

When I was hanging up with my dear friend who told me where to find the filters, she says, "I feel a blog coming on." "Oh ho ho ho" I thought. It can't be that hard.... right?

Step 2: Remove aerator from faucet. What is that? Apparently, the aerator is the little dojigger screwed on to the end of your faucet. You wouldn't even know it was there unless... well, unless you knew it was there. I managed to get that off, with ripping off minimal skin in the process, and placed the adapter in place. After screwing on the Brita filter, I said to myself, "Oh, how silly. Blog my foot! This was so uneventful!" Then I turned the water on.

WHOOOOOOSH!!! It happened so fast that I don't actually recall the water spurting from the top of the filter onto the front of my shirt. I just know that I was drenched instantaneously. Something was clearly not right. I tried to tighten the filter, because that surely must be the problem. Turn faucet back on. "That's odd," says I. "I somehow just got even more wet."

A few more attempts of tightening the filter found the filter completely fallen off, nearly breaking a glass, and getting me even more wet. I finally managed to get it back on and tightened to the point where water wasn't spewing everywhere. The stray stream of water is now mostly contained. I can't seem to get that dang thing on properly to get it to completely stop though. I figure its better to risk getting a little damp than die from gastro-intestinal distress from drinking Philly water.

This is one of those times when having a man around would really be useful.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Creatively Restless

I crafted 8, yes eight, pairs of earrings today. I sliced the tip of one finger on beading wire, and stabbed another to the point of blood. I also put a paint brush to a canvas for the very first time in my life. Now, my brain is moving so swiftly that I have to write or my cranium may find itself in a dire situation from an outward explosion. Never in my life have I experienced the kind of day that I had.

To anyone that knows me, its no secret that I am a naturally restless person. I can't sit still, and God forbid I have to focus on a mundane task for too long. I fidget, I shift, my right foot sways back and forth at the joint more often than I'd like to admit. Restless. Its probably one of the defining characteristics that makes up the core of my being. But typically my restlessness is a result of my overactive brain, too much sitting, or boredom. Today, my restless resulted from an intense need to create. There was near a feeling of if-I-don't-create-something-I-may-just-explode.

It was odd, really. I consider myself to be a creative person, though not a terribly effective one. Jack of all trades, master of none effectively sums up my opinion of my artistic side. Yes, I am decent at a few things and most definitely have varied interest creatively. But nothing I do has that "wow" factor. Perhaps I am too hard on myself (most creative types are), but there is a mediocrity in my art that makes me look at it and say "eh.

However, this side of me took over with a ferocity that was near frightening. It was gripping, all consuming. Like a drug that seeped through my skin and found its way into my bloodstream and coursed through my body.

After driving around for an hour this afternoon (I still don't know where alot of things are around here), I finally came upon my desired destination of Michael's Craft Store. A danger zone with the kind of day I was having. Aaaaaahhhh!!!!! With a joviality that can only be compared to that of a small child on Christmas Eve, I raced through the aisles finding all kind of goodies, including several small canvases, some acrylic paint, a few brushes, and an easel. I have never, and I mean never, painted anything in my life. Well, besides those paint by numbers things, but they hardly count.

My first work of art is hardly anything to brag about, but I am still somewhat proud of my efforts. It was exciting to try something new and not have it look completely awful. I can hardly wait until tomorrow to go back to the craft store (now that I can actually find it) and purchase a few more items so that I can get this idea in my head out on a canvas. Oh joy!

I don't know what's wrong with me lately. I can probably chalk some of it up to the adjustment of being away from nearly everything and everyone I know. I am probably bottling up some emotions that are coming out through this need to create, rather than being soothed by the comfort of familiarity. Who knows. But, while it continues, I can only hope to be able to produce something decent out of it.

One can never tell. I might become an artist yet...

Friday, October 9, 2009

How Oliver Found His Meow

I do believe that baby kitten meows are among the worst sounds in the world. My ears are currently bleeding from that very noise. Oliver has gotten somewhat better with his kitten-ness in terms of being calmer perhaps one half of one percent more often. This doesn't really equate to very much, but I'll take it.

His "growing up" also brought with it the maturation of a real live meow, rather than pathetic little squeak that use to emit from his little jaws. I actually felt bad for the poor sucker, what with not being able to really meow. I mean, isn't that part of being a cat? Its like the crowning glory of cathood, alot with a flowing tail. Considering I had one cat unable to meow, and another without a tail, things weren't looking so good in the household. Its rather tragic now that I think about it.

Well, silly me. Actually feeling sorry for the poor beast and his inability to meow. Whatever was I thinking? Clearly, I was not. About 2 weeks ago, Oliver found his meow. I rather wish he would loose it. Misplace it, perhaps. Even just forget he has it. Whatever the case may be, I would like it gone.

His naughtiness finds him locked out of the bedroom every night. He is not so much a fan of this situation. Being the pathetic little mancat that he is, he wants to snuggle and play with mommy at night when mommy is trying very hard to sleep. Mommy has to get up for work in the morning, unlike the little mancat. By the stroke of midnight, the little monster is oft romping around in the living room, being denied access to mommy's bedchambers. This was fine... until 2 weeks past.

The whole discovery of the meow has made the nightly ritual a bit more painful. Within 2 minutes of the door shutting, the meowing starts. And then continues... and continues. This typically last for at least 15 minutes. And then if I wake during the night, I hear it again. And then again in the morning. Its fun. Really. By fun, I mean its like raking screws across a chalkboard. Its enough to make one cringe. Not to mention the fact that I feel horrible because the poor little monster really just wants to snuggle and play with mommy.

I'm a mean, mean mommy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Lately I've felt like I have an invisible splinter in my soul. There is some sort of a thorn in the center of my being that I can't seem to find in order to take it out. There is an illusive something that is nagging me constantly and I can't seem to figure out what it is so that I can remove it or supply some kind of salve in order to take away the discomfort.

This is nothing new, really. Its been a nuisance for quite some time now. I think that this knowing that there is an element in my life missing has been what drove me to move away, constantly looking for what's next, and the force behind my desire to go to grad school. I'm not unhappy. Not at all actually. I believe that I'm the most content than I've been in a while. And yet, I find myself checking into grad school on a weekly basis, the neverending search for new hobbies, books, movies. Something, anything, to explore the nature of me to find what this splinter is, to discover the piece of the puzzle that is missing.

Perhaps this is part of the nature of life. I assume that this is nothing out of the ordinary, feeling this way. I assume that most people go through this same thing often. Its possible that its the continuation of my quarter life crisis. That time when you hit that brick wall of reality in the realization that this is life, this is it, this is all it has to offer. And yet, I hate the taste of those words in my mouth. I hate the thought. Its like a concession, a surrender to the ordinary. I don't want that. Who does want that? No one, if I had to guess.

That is what drives me to pursue something more. That will be what pushes me to continue to look into school, find new hobbies, books, movies. I don't think that this is bad, as long as its balanced with a sense of contentment. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I should give up this desire for more. Maybe I'm wrong. But I can't imagine that God created us just to go through life feeling unfulfilled. I want that fulfillment of my life meaning something, of my days being filled with purpose.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

For the Love of Traffic- Part 2

I love good stories. Good, random stories are even better. As I settle into my life in Philadelphia, I find myself making mental notes to self about the amusing things I can write about, and perhaps bring a bit of entertainment to all of you readers out there. For some odd reason, there is something in our humanity that is bemused by others misfortunes. Now, I don't mean misfortune in the sense of injury or serious calamity of any sorts. Misfortune in the sense of hapless circumstances. Considering my usual luck, that really works in all of your favors. I have just such a story for you.

Not too long ago, I relayed my distaste for traffic. An experience several weeks ago left me stuck on the Surekill much longer than I expected. Little did I know that was a mere taste, a spoonful of the reality of bad Philly traffic.

Tuesday morning found me at a stand still. On the ramp. I wasn't even able to make it onto the highway itself before I was stuck in the nastiest traffic I have ever seen. It took me approximately one half hour to get from my house to the actual highway. This drive typically takes around 5 minutes. I inched, literally inched, along up the ramp onto the freeway. I believe inching is a slight exaggeration. It may have been more like 3/8-ing, rather than full inching. Once you are on those ramps, you're committed. Forget backing up and going another route. I realized I was screwed with 2.5 seconds of making the turn onto the ramp. It was unreal.

After finally making the enormous trek up the ramp, I then sat at a complete standstill for about another 30 minutes. When I say standstill, I mean standstill. As in, the car was in park. On the highway. I have never had my car in park on the highway. Ever. It was really quite the sensational experience, and not one I'd like to repeat anytime soon.

After 90 minutes, I was finally able to go the full mile that it took to get to the next exit, so that I could take my leave from the disaster otherwise known as 76. "A backway will be much faster!" I told myself. Off I go into the unknown of suburbia, where I have zero idea where I'm going. Thank God for GPS. Seriously. They are a complete lifesaver in this situation. If any of you are psychotic enough to move to a heavily trafficked area, I strongly recommend one.

The backway didn't really prove to be much better. All of the other smarties must have made their way off the highway and decided to go the exact way that I did. An otherwise 25 minutes commute took over 45 minutes. Do the math. What should have been a 20 minute drive to work took 2 hours and 15 minutes. Yeeeeaaaaah...

I know that my patience is not the best when it comes to small kittens that like to chew on everything, but thank goodness I have relative patience in traffic. Otherwise, I may have arrived at work completely bald and bleeding. I did manage to pull up rocking out to 70s disco. One must amuse oneself when trapped in such a small space for that long.

However, I suppose it is also a reminder of our mortality. The traffic was caused by what must have been a not-so-nice car accident. I am unaware if anyone was hurt, but I'm sure some cars sustained damage to account for the backup. I am thankful that I made it to work safely that day, with everything still in tact and my car without anymore dents than it already has.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

That's Business

As the years go by and I find myself getting older and older (and older), I realize that my perceptions about life alter with the passing of time. My once stalwart conceptions begin to change, to take a different shape. Not utterly transform into something completely different, just morph into something I didn't necessarily expect.

My very first blog post, nearly one whole year ago, consisted of a rant of my distaste for Corporate America. I recognized its need to exist, but I certainly did not have much appreciation for it. If I'm not mistaken, that same theme has found itself threaded across several of my posts. Its strange, really, that after such disgust with the business world, I am lately finding myself having an entirely new appreciation for it. Mind you, the greed that is so evident across the bulk of Corporate America still makes me vomit in my mouth a tad. I don't see that ever changing. However, I have been seeing business through new eyes.

Not terribly long ago, I was introduced to the concept of microfinance institution, or MFIs as they are commonly referred to. In case you are new to the term, MFIs help to provide loans to low-income individuals and business in poverty-stricken areas of the world. The loans are folded into entrepreneurial endeavors, varied as they may be, ranging from purchasing a new cow or goat for a farm to soda pop production and selling. This provisions people who would never have been able to do it on their own to have a boost, a helping hand towards providing for their families. The lofty goal is to help people help themselves out of seemingly hopeless situations of extreme poverty. That's business. It is the business that enables people to eat, to put food on the table, to afford medical care, education for their children. Business gives them the basic necessities of life.

My desires to work for a non-profit one day have not changed. Helping people is still my ultimate goal, in a larger capacity than most corporate employments will be able to give. However, my perspective of business in and of itself are very much changing. I have a new found respect for our economic structure in leaning on corporate jobs for stability. I think I'm just looking at it from a different angle, an angle that makes sense to me. Perhaps for most of the monitor-heads sitting behind desks in a corporate job, it may be all about bringing home as much bacon as possible. For me, it will never be that. Yet, I respect it now. And I find that to be terribly interesting.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stop Chewing on Mommy's Cellphone

I imagine the things that you say as a pet owner, particularly of an infantile pet, are similar to the things that you say as a parent of a real, live human child. Things like "don't eat that", "stop licking the toilet", and "go ahead and put your nose in that hot cup of tea and see what happens." When I committed myself to this little ball of fur a few short months ago, I don't believe that I imagined the phrases that would shortly be emitting from my lips.

A few short months ago, I doubt that I would have believed you if you told me that I would currently have baby kitten teeth marks on my laptop. I may have giggled a bit if you told me that I would be worried about damage done to my cell phone from slobber. I most certainly would not have believed you if you said that this kitten would eat anything and everything, from ice cream, to potato chips, to grapes. To date, the only thing he has yet to try to eat or drink is wine. He goes to stick his little face in my glass and then backs up with his eyes half closed and his nose crinkled. Yes, in case you were wondering, kittens noses do crinkle. Now, my mother would tell you that he does that because he's smart and his instincts are telling him that wine is bad (hi, mom!), however I feel it has something to do with the tartness of the scent. Regardless, its rather amusing.

I have a grape currently rotting under some random piece of furniture of my apartment. I probably won't find it until it starts fermenting and the cockroaches that I'm sure exist in this house come out of the woodwork looking for their next meal. Cute little kitty will most likely find himself flung into the throes to fend off the evil beasts as punishment.

When Oliver first came into my life, someone said to me that perhaps this was a preparatory season for me, with the strong implication towards the future pitter patter of little feet. I admit, I am a bit sad that it is not ok to fling children across rooms onto beds (where they inevitably bounce and hit the wall. Not that I've done that with my kitten or anything...) I've come to learn that I do not have alot of patience for small things being constantly under foot and getting into simply everything. Did I mention that I left a bag of cat food out that last for about 3 minutes before it had 3 holes in it? Sigh.

This experience has made me seriously doubt my faculty at being a mother to real, live human children. If my patience is this low with something that I can lock up and ignore its cries for a while, how ever will a manage a household of screaming children that climb bookcases and spill cereal all over my newly vacuumed living room floor? I suppose that this is a preparatory season for me, regardless of if I ever have my own human children. My patience is being built up, even if I go kicking and screaming.

It is amusing to me the way that God chooses to teach us important lessons. My patience is being built up by a small cat. It is rather strange.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I wonder...

How much am I willing to give up? I mean, actual, full blown reality. How much? I've been pondering this question innumerable times in recent weeks. One of my last posts touched on my inquiries into the depths of my soul and mind about my willingness to sacrifice, and this has continued to haunt me. I look around me, at all my "stuff", at my comfort, security, the normality that I've grown so accustomed to and I question whether I could give it all up if called to do so.

Its incredible to me how much security "stuff" brings. Having all the things that make up a life and a home, all those material possessions produce a sense of security, albeit false most of the time. What exactly do we think all of these "things" can do for us? In reality, what can they do? Absolutely nothing. Sure, they make our houses nice to look at and comfy to visit. But they don't provide any security, not really.

Our society is drenched in the want of "things." Clothes, shoes, jewelry, furniture, big TVs, lots of DVDs and BluRay discs. These things are all material and have no value aside from what we give them. One can't take these "things" to their mansion in heaven, they are only for our benefit here on earth, for the few short years that we can enjoy them.

The thought of storing up my treasures in heaven and not focusing on the "stuff" that can only weigh me down here on earth has been plaguing me. I don't consider myself to be a materialistic person, and yet, I opened my closet the other day and was filled with disgust. I have all this "stuff", "things" that have no intrinsic value. They're only as important as I've made them, and I became disappointed in myself for the worth I placed on them. If I put a dollar amount on the shoes and clothes in my closet, I wonder if I would be embarrassed by that. I wonder if I would be overcome by my selfishness. I wonder if I would think about how many children I could have fed, how many wells could have been built, if medicine could have been provided for that dollar amount. I wonder...

Now, I realize that there needs to be a balance. I understand that one cannot live one's life deny oneself of all pleasures because we have been blessed to live in a country that is financially stable. However, I wonder if I've tipped the scales in my favor, rather than someone else's...

I wonder...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Captcha, Kittens, and the City

I find "captcha" to be a funny word. Its quite enjoyable to say, as well. It kind of just rolls off one's tongue like butter off of a piece of corn on the cob. I'm wondering if I took a poll right now, how many of you would know what that word is referring to. It may be more common knowledge now, but several years ago people looked at me like I was attempting to create my own form of pig latin or something.

In case you don't know, captcha is the computer generated way of ensuring that a human is posting something, like a comment on this blog, rather than just a spider out on the internet on a spamming trip. It shows up in the form of those funny words that you have to input into a text box. Some are sheer gibberish, but others are quite amusing. I must say, has done a fabulous job with their captcha words. They're variations of English words, or just odd spellings of them. Its quite entertaining, really.

On another note, I have been living in Philadelphia for 3 weeks now, and I have only been downtown once. This is nearly shameful. I believe that I have simply been too busy and tired to have the energy to venture out. I may have to carve out some time tomorrow. Because, really, wasn't being close to the city half the reason for me moving down here? Geez!

If anyone is in the market for a 5 month old kitten, please feel free to let me know. He is so cute that one almost can't stand it. And he'll only make you completely insane 97% of the time. He will snuggle up with you and then kneed his claws into your neck. He loves to play, particularly with any piece of flesh he can get his teeth on. You can have nifty art work on your hands from all the scratch marks, added bonus! He will bite your toes and jump on your face. I've learned to keep a water bottle attached to me at all times for the sake of my phalanges. But he sure is cute...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coffee and Sacrifice

First, I'd like to point out that I'm writing this while soaring thousands of feet above the ground aboard a 737 aircraft. I wonder what the Wright brothers would have thought if they knew that their first very primitive flight would eventually lead to such things. The advent of technology provides the average joe with luxuries that are almost silly in their unecessity.

However, I am grateful for the ridiculousness of modern day life because it affords me the opportunity to put down my thoughts, regardless of my location and proximity to solid earth. I have spent significant minutes and hours as of late pondering the concept of sacrifice. True, painful sacrifice. Not just the giving up of niceties that allows us comfort throughout our normal day. I mean the kind of sacrifice in that God asks us to give up everything, to leave behind the normalcy and amenities of Western life in an industrialized nation.

I attended a benefit performance this past Sunday that was raising funds for clean water wells in Africa. This is a strong interest, dare I say passion, of mine because of the seriousness of the lack of clean, sanitized water. Wars are fought over water. Thousands of people die each day from water related illnesses that are so preventable. Entire nations can be devestated with sickness, famine, and war all because of the scarcity of water. During the performance, each audience memeber was charged with a very simple task: drink nothing but water for the next 2 week. With all of the money that is saved from not purchasing soda, wine, beer, tea would be tallied up at the end of the fortnight and then sent to the sponsoring organization for the continuation of the project in Africa.

Simple enough, right? Try it and realize that the sacrifice of something so simple is in reality difficult. I have been drinking tea and coffee and beer and wine since then (although, I did not pay for any of it). The simplicity of needing that boost of caffeine in the morning or the casual drink with a friend after work is suddenly interrupted if you are sacrificing something so simple. I am ashamed of not giving up something so very elementary.

I suppose I am telling you this out of guilt. Yesterday found me picking up Elizabeth Elliot's biography on Amy Carmichael, a missionary in India over a hundred years ago. She decided at about the ripe age of 24 that God had a calling on her life to go to the nations. Twenty-four. Here I am, three years the senior, and I can't even give up coffee for 2 weeks. Its shameful.

I don't understand the concept of sacrifice. Not really. Sure, I may know how to give up the comforts of life sometimes. But could I do it permanently if so called to do so? Can I discipline myself enough to learn to give things up? To be selfless, truly selfless?

I think, like most things, sacrifice needs to be learned. Its most certainly not something that is built into our DNA. It is burning on my soul to begin to earnestly pray for a sacrificial spirit, for a heart that is willing to give up, to let go of all of my nice things. I don't want to get caught up in the worldliness that is rampant in our society. God help me, its the last things I want. There is no permanence, no immortality to the comforts of life. It is all fleeting, here today and gone tomorrow, never to be seen again.

I want my desires to be of things above, of heavenly worth and import. I can only pray that my heart will be changed like Amy Carmichaels. That my flesh will melt off, never to be heard of again. For this, I ask for your prayers.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

For the Love of Traffic

I've decided that I have quite a strong dislike of traffic. Not that this is necessarily any kind of life changing epiphany. I'm mostly certain that I've never particularly enjoyed traffic. But I do now know that I definitely, most certainly really, really don't like traffic.

This is perhaps a very unfortunate conclusion, considering that I just situated myself in one of the most densely populated cities in the US in terms of residents. I also have to drive, not once, but twice daily on the Surekill Expressway, as we like to call it round these parts. The number of vehicles on that road each morning and early evening is quite incredible. Whoever decided to make it a 4 lane highway, with 2 running each east and west, should probably be horsewhipped. It simply was not a smart idea. One bazillion cars do not easily fit on so few lanes for traffic.

It should only take me 40 minutes round trip to get to and from work. It takes me an hour on a good day. Sometimes that hour is spent going one way instead of both. Do the math on how much time I could potentially spend in the car each day. I am hearing my mother's sweet voice in my head saying, "why don't you look for an apartment closer to work?" This is such an excellent question. The answer would be that when I moved down here less than 2 weeks ago, I had one friend in the area. Who happened to live in Manayunk. Which happens to be a non-trafficed 20 minute drive from the office. I think any normal person would gravitate towards living close to someone they know.

I like Manayunk. Alot. Its kind of a yuppie area, which provides plenty of coffee shops and a Banana Republic right on Main Street. There are great restaurants and cute art galleries. And I can be in the heart of Philadelphia in 10 minutes. Without any traffic, of course.

I am not sorry that I moved to this lovely neighborhood. Not yet anyway. Ask me in a month and I may be so tired of feeling like I'm living in a 4 year olds dream of backed up matchbox cars, with definite crashes and explosions around that make such fun noises. But for now, I try to keep my frustration at bay and my road rage semi in check. I suppose I'll get used to it and probably will hardly notice after a while.

Until then, I'll need to find the closest library so I can get some good books on tape.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Do You Punch a Noun?

I do not enjoy allergies. At all. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while are much informed of my strong dislike for seasons of much pollen and other invisible contaminants that cause such violent reaction.

I've woken up for the past two mornings feeling like someone punched me in the face. Literally. My sinuses are about to explode (with what, I'd rather spare you details). My teeth hurt. My throat is sore. My eyes are akin to a leaky faucet. Its fun. Really. By fun, I mean like trying to clean railroad tracks with your tongue and some foaming bathroom soap.

I ate two full meals today. One of which I paid for. I can't tell you what either of them really tasted like because I've lost 97% of my sense of taste. And smell. I've only caught half of the conversations at both said meals because my ears are so clogged that everyone sounds like they're talking under water. I've smiled and nodded alot.

Every year round this time, I start getting a wee bit excited for fall. I love fall foods, fall smells, fall tastes (pumpkin spice lattes... mmmmmmm). I love breaking out the fall fashion of light sweaters and jeans and scarves. Especially the scarves. But the past few years have had me dread the gorgeous changing colors of the leaves because I know that means waking up in the morning with a small anvil dropped on my face. Its so not fun.

Oh well. I suppose it makes me thankful for the times of year when I can actually breathe deep and inhale the scents that remind me that I'm alive. There are much worse things in life to suffer from. I could have cancer or be missing limbs or be apathetic. I definitely believe I will take allergies over all of those.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm Sorry, what?

Some of you may be wondering why the lack of postings for the last month or so. Most of you probably know, though. Life does have a way of turning itself upside down and inside out in a matter of a few short weeks that can leave one reeling in its wake. I have had just that type of month.

On a whim, I decided to interview for a job in the Philadelphia region. Within a week, I was offered, and accepted, the position. This translated into a mad rush of finding an apartment, adjusting my expectations of the next few years of my life, and a general psychosis of deciding to, and then following through, with a major life change. In a very, very short period of time.

I started said new job yesterday, after moving into Manayunk, a delightful neighborhood in Philadelphia, and saying goodbye to everything that I've known. I can safely say that this was not part of the plan that I had for my life, but that is just like God to go completely against what one thinks is the right path.

I am excited for what my future holds, for the new and exciting experiences that I will have in the big city, and for more expectations to be blown out of the water. I have no idea what my life holds down in the Philly, but I do know that its going to be good. I am used to having to fight for things tooth and nail. For once, everything just fell into place beautifully and without a struggle. It was strange, really. Almost disconcerting in its simplicity. Its what I like to call it a "God thing." And I'm sure it will be quite the ride.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Demons in Disguise

I've learned something new in the last week. Kittens are actually capable of morphing from angels to demons right in front of one's eyes. Its quite the phenomena. When I brought my new little delight home last week, he was so stinking cute. For about 5 minutes. And suddenly that little halo was replaced by two little horns that snuck through the soft baby fur.

4AM is apparently a great time to play. I must have missed that memo somewhere along the lines. I also missed the memo that elbows, laptops and cellphone make excellent chew toys. Particularly at 4AM. I didn't know that elbows were really that interesting. But when Mommy is sleeping and you want attention... they're easily accessible, so I'm learning. As are toes, noses, fingers, calves... I think you get the point.

The latest fashion is gnarled hands from excessive claw marks. Its really sexy. You should try it sometime. Its also best done at 4AM. Hair makes a great replacement for mommy cat. The soft texture must be reminiscent of mommy's belly, because little kitty tries to nurse on my head every time he gets tired. Which includes kneading his little claws in my scalp. Particularly at 4AM. Or... right now. That works too. When I move him from my head, he doesn't get the hint. The kneading just moves from my head to my neck. Which isn't any more comfortable, in case you were wondering.

Little Oliver (as he has been named) does have one thing going for him though... He's entirely too cute. While he may be a monster 97% of the time that he's conscious, his cute little baby kitten face combined with his little baby kitten meow makes him irresistible. Plus, when he does get tired (which doesn't happen often enough), he turns into a snuggle monkey and purrs like Jesus is coming back tomorrow and he needs to get all of those purrs out posthaste. This is also when the kneading claws come into play, but its almost forgivable because of all the cuteness. I have felt like I've had a small child in the house for the last week, dealt with excessive hissing from Bella, but its been worth it.

But mind you, I'm saying its worth it because it is not 4AM and playtime right now...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kittens and Big, Nasty Angelfaces

Today, I did something very stupid. I allowed myself to get suckered into taking a stray kitten. One thing to know about me: I am a softie. To the enth degree. Mix that with my complex of trying to save the world, one child and kitten at a time.... I'm totally screwed.

This little delight showed up across the street from my parents house and was happened upon by neighbors. My youngest sister finds out, and the first thing she does? Go ahead and guess... She calls me. Her big old softie sister. Who can't say no to small children and animals. Especially poor helpless little kittens who were obviously dumped outside by their previous owners. Naturally, my soft heart melted into a rather large pool of butter, leaving me virtually helpless in resisting.

The little kitten found its way into my house today, much to the chagrin of Bella. Momma's sweet little angel face is non too happy about sharing her castle with another animal. After I finally coaxed her out from behind the living room curtains, there was an excessive amount of hissing and batting at her beloved mommy. Naturally, I just laughed. The poor cat was in shock that I would be so cruel as to bring another animal home that she would have to share me with. How could I think of doing such a thing? Clearly, it is unacceptable. To say that Bella is mad at me is an understatement. That found her locked in the bathroom for a while. I think she may have calmed down, but I'm sure that won't last too long. Especially after the baby has her vet appointment tomorrow and I can release her into the rest of my apartment, instead of being locked in my bedroom as she is now.

So, the nameless kitty is sure to upset the peace and harmony in my home for a while. All thanks to my big ol' softie heart. I'm really hoping not to regret this...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Return of the Lost

I find it incredible how certain elements in life stay with us forever. Its as if they are built directly into our DNA, so close to who we are that we will never be separated from them. As if God combined ourselves with these things, never to be fully parted, or life itself would feel dim, glum in a sense that is inexplicable.

Last year, I very painfully decided to resign from my post as a dance teacher at a studio I had spent 13 years at, 9 of which were dedicated to instruction. I began teaching at the ripe age of 17, still in my last year of high school. I had such an intense love, an exuberant passion for my art that sharing it with others seemed to be the only logical next step.

I was given the opportunity to not only teach at the studio that I was trained at, but several others as well. I saturated any opportunity I could to be involved. After 9 years on the job, I knew it was time to move on from my home studio. I had no other teaching position lined up, and thought that my time as a dancer may have come to a close. Many, many tears were shed after the finalization of my determination. Part of my soul felt empty at the proposition of leaving such an important part of my life behind, yet I knew that I had to move on from the position I had held at the studio for so long.

An entire year has passed since. The few chances I had to teach in those 12 months were cherished. I believe that the kids thought I was straight from the state hospital, because my level of excitement was so intense as to be easily determined psychotic. I really do turn mad when I get passionate. Its nearly a problem.

When the juncture arose for a position at a new studio, I jumped at it. Having missed so terribly participation in what had been a defining part of my life, I knew that I must return to it. The following week I began instructing ballet classes yet again. My body is remembering (slowly) how to move again, aided along with a class that I was able to take myself. Lots of aches and pains ensued, but I am returning to my second love in this world: immersing myself in my art and being an instrument of change in others lives through what I do. It has been a blessing to get back what I thought I may have lost. The experience was akin to being unexpectedly returned a precious item that the beholder thought lost forever.

I am also being reminded that teaching isn't easy. That my personality may conflict with my students, and that they will drive me crazy more often than not. However, I am reminded as well that most things in life that are worth it are not easy. And that crazy part of me is willing to put myself through frustrations for the love of what I do. Crazy, perhaps, but to me, it is well worth it.

God really does have a way of returning things to us. Maybe not all the time, and maybe he doesn't return to us things we wish He would. However, when He has placed a call on our lives, there is no getting away from it. We will ache, we will slowly wither away, until we remember our passion, and return willingly. God does take us away from our loves sometimes, perhaps just to remind us of what they mean, why we do what we do. That acceptance back into our calling is then welcomed, desired, longed for so strongly that we leap at any chance we can to return. This then morphs into an affirmation of what we were created to do, what our purpose is in life.

Nothing is ever taken away for good if God has bound you to it. Its rather incredible.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lessons in Change

So, news flash everyone! Barack Obama is not the messiah! Shocking, I know. I mean, come on, he was the Change that our country needed to be turned around.... right? Let's look at his track record, shall we?

Obama has now passed his 6 month mark as leader of our great country. He's approved funding for overseas abortion, spent $789 billion on a special interest stimulus package that was promised to turn our economy around, his healthcare reform is still struggling through congress because the few smart people that we have on the Hill are fighting it, he's siding with Palestine in the not-so-silent war between that nation and Israel, most of his nominees for his cabinet have been rejected due to tax fraud, his recommendation for the Supreme Court is way too liberal (besides, lets just face it, we all know she was nominated because she's a woman and hispanic). Am I the only one that this concerns?

Let's go back to the stimulus package for a moment. I know I've ranted about this in the past, but its such a juicy subject that its hard to stay away from. It finally hit the mainstream news today that part of the funding that went to the National Endowment for the Arts is going towards porn and other racey films. I'm so glad to see our hard earned tax dollars going towards the satisfaction of lust-filled men who are feeding their sexual addictions at the price of women who exploit themselves for the sake of the almighty dollar. Not only is the pork package doing absolutely nothing to turn the economy around and create jobs, Americans are now unwittingly supporting a disgusting industry. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?

Healthcare reform! Ha! Obama's idea of reform will put small businesses out of business because they won't be able to afford to cover their employees as will be required by law. Not only that, but the cuts to Medicare will put our elderly population in a dire situation of not having enough health coverage. Some are even calling this reform a scheme of euthanasia. That may be a bit harsh, in my opinion, but I can sure as heck understand why one might call it that.

I am honestly afraid that this administration is going to do nothing but promote the degradation of our society and push us further into debt. Not to mention befriending terrorist nations and pushing us closer to socialism. Who knows, 3 years from now we might be a tyrannical country. Congress' approval rating is tanking and Obama's rating are slipping. Probably because the country thought that Jesus Christ himself was stepping into the Oval Office. Surprise!

Oh well. Guess we all need to wear out the knees of our jeans and pray for a miracle.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm Taking a Lesson From Giraffe

There is a great Robot Chicken sketch that I like to simply call "Giraffe". Go Youtube it immediately. In said sketch, there is a part where Giraffe yells rather perturbedly, "AAAHHHHHHHH I JUST WANNA BITE SOMEONE IN THE FACE!!" I had exactly one of those days today.

Without going into much detail, today involved alot of noise and being taken advantage of. I don't always do so well with either of those. My company just moved offices this weekend to the other side of Allentown (the side where people don't get murdered constantly). This new office removes me from my nice cozy work space with my BFF officemate to an open air office with approximately 15 million other people. Or at least it sounded like that many. Do you know how much of a din it makes to have about 20 full grown adults talking at normal volume simultaneously? Alot. As in, I had my ear buds in, music blaring, and I could still hear them. Its dreadfully hard to concentrate and get any sort of work done with that kind of noise. I'm sure I'll adjust eventually. Either that or I'll freak out and everyone will start tiptoeing around me so that I don't go ballistic on them.

Also, I've come to the conclusion that I may not be a great team player. Maybe that's why I never really got into sports. I don't do well with feeling taken advantage of and being "asked" to constantly do work that is completely out of the range of my job description. At my last job, I called myself "the dump person." The gopher. The if-anything-needs-to-be-done-just-go-ask-Bethany person. This is my fault, really, because I am incapable of saying "no." Ever. I am such a Yes person, that its nearly a compulsion to try to make everyone else happy, even if I'm miserable in the meantime. Really, I'm just too nice.I'm finding myself in the same position at my current job, because I still can't say "no." Ever. Let me tell you, when you don't ever utter the "N" word, people start coming to you with all kinds of requests. Its amazing. What's even more amazing is when you overhear conversations (which is almost shocking because of the 15 million other people talking at the same time) about how someone is going to ask you to do something simply because they know that you won't say "no." This is where I almost bit someone in the face. Right. There.

It was great. Hearing people walk towards me to ask me to do something because they knew I wouldn't say "no." I nearly did, just because of that. But, alas and alack, because of the parties involved, I knew that I wouldn't be able to do so, no matter how much I may have wanted to.

I suppose I'll get over it. Once my tension headache subsides and the next two days are over and done with, I feel that I may be able to continue living without wanting to hurt someone. I know that I need to be thankful, but I just don't feel like it right now. Maybe after I eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in a single sitting, I'll feel better...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thoughts on a Monday

I oft wonder if men are built with the same innate desires... no, longing, to be needed. As a woman, it is programmed into my DNA. I need to be needed. My lack of a husband and children often leaves that longing, in a sense, unfulfilled. I'm not really needed by anyone. Sure, there are people whose lives may not be as full without me, but I fear that it is still different.

Today, I felt needed. It wasn't for long, and it wasn't for much, but a friend needed me today. She didn't even ask, I offered my assistance to a very difficult situation. I was so grateful to be able to help, and, selfishly, to feel needed. I can never decide just how selfish it is to hunger after being needed. In that necessity, there is most definitely an unselfish act, that putting aside our own to be something for someone else. But is there still selfishness in that selfless act? It is a ponderance that I have mulled over time and time again. I don't know that I will ever quite have it figured out.

Today, I also experienced a miracle. I am planning on making another trip down to Guatemala this fall to be part of an arts camp for the kids. I was at first uncertain that I would be able to make the trip, due to finances. After some discussion, it became clear that God was calling me to make the journey and somehow figure out the dollars and cents that went along with it. Less than two weeks after making the decision to follow my heart, the financing for the trip has basically fallen out of the sky. I was nearly flabbergasted. It was some much needed encouragement for a not so great day up until that point. Jehovah Jirah certain does watch out for his children and provide.

I have nothing profound to say today. No soap box to climb up onto (although I'm sure I could if I tried), no great revelations or epiphanies on the meaning of life. Just some random thoughts that have been pressing on my tired mind. I do believe I shall try to sleep now. I do certainly believe I'll try.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm Sorry, Could You Translate That?

There are times in life where certain things bring such sheer delight that it will continue to bring laughter to your soul hours after the occurrence. I encountered one of those very occurrences just this afternoon.

I think most of you dear readers would agree that mommies and technology aren't always so buddy buddy. All of those new, hip, trendy, newfangled techie... things... are like some alien device. My mommy happens to fall right into that category. She's a teachable student, thankfully, but at first it can be rather entertaining. She was always pretty good with computers, from what I remember. I do distinctly recall a period where she suffered from a rather serious addiction to Sim City, so I think she caught on to the computer age relatively quickly. We put her in a 5 step program to help her cope with said addiction though. My poor mommy had some very late nights glued to the computer screen, helping those little Sims build their cities. I can't lie though, she was pretty stellar at it. Her cities always beat mine with an awesome stick. If they had Sim City competitions, I'm pretty sure she would have been super supreme gold medalist. Might have even won the Sim City Olympics. She was that good.

Anyway, sometime after my mommy recovered from her Sim City obsession, she was introduced to a cell phone. Back in those days said cellular devices were less phones and more solid bricks with this little antenna sticking out the top. They made for a great weapon if you were ever being mugged though. They could cause some serious damage. I'd say that Mommy learned the basics pretty quickly. She likes things simple though, and always wanted the nice, easy, basic phones whenever a new device was acquired. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles. Just nice and easy. Kind of like sunday morning.

Now, most of us know that technology is continually advancing. Text messaging has largely replaced phone calls between friends, acting as a substitute for actual talking. Humanity will one day forget how to verbally communicate due to text messaging and the internet. Mark my words. Anyway, even though most of the civilized world has been texting for years and years, Mommy has never had the need. Her babies know that mommy doesn't have text messaging on her plan, so you pick up the phone and call. Until yesterday, that is....

My dad informed me last night that Mommy's cell phone now had text messaging, due to it now being included on their family plan. Naturally, this concept sheerly delighted me. I decided to try it out this afternoon and send a text to my mommy, saying that I had heard she now had texting and just needed to learn how to actually use it. This was the reply I received:

Uh0 0 0 0 aao ok i knozw h6m to use it maybe wggg wheres thequestion marlk arde you crackhging u p yet

Crackhging u p didn't even begin to describe it. I was at work when I received that, mind you. I burst into hysterical laughter to the point of tears. She definitely succeeded in actually sending the message and it almost made sense, and that was highly impressive for her first time.

Thankfully, my little sister was there to give her texting lessons during this. Mommy informed me in her next few texts (which were perfect, FYI) that she was laughing so hard that she was crying. Glad I wasn't the only one. Mommy picked texting right up and is an old pro after just a few tries. Apparently, her thumbs need some exercise though, because she tired rather quickly.

Texting is just like anything else, Mommy. Just takes some practice and you'll have lightening fingers like the rest of us. That may even become your superpower- super duper fast texting. I'm sure that could save lives or something.

Oooooooh yeaaaaaaaaaahh......

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Skewed Sense of Justice

Justice. Its a word that should bring people to their feet. Its powerful. Its truth. Its a force that brings about light and life to humanity. Or does it?

If any of you dear readers have been following the news lately, I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about when I mention the Florida Cat Killer. For those of you who have not read up on the case, there was recently a killing spree of pet cats in the Sunshine State. People's animals were snatched from their homes and brutally murdered and dismembered. The 18 year old assailant was apprehended and arrested about a week ago. If found guilty on all 19 counts against him once put up for trial, he could face up to 158 years in prison.

Those of you who follow the news may also remember the tragic events last summer in which 2 Pennsylvania teenagers brutally beat a Mexican immigrant, who eventually died from blunt force trauma. The racially-driven murder attracted national attention because of its sheer ruthlessness. The young attackers, ages 19 and 17, were put on trial for their crimes. They were acquitted of the murder charges and sentences to 6 to 23 months of jail time. Potentially only 6 months. For taking a human life.

Does anyone else see the discrepancy here? Where is the justice? A foolish kid goes around killing animals and faces almost 160 years in prison. Were his crimes disgusting and brutal? Absolutely. And yet, 2 teens commit a racially charged murder and they nearly get away scott-free. Where is the justice? I certainly don't see it.

We brag about our government. We brag about our way of living. The rest of the world is wrong and we are the only ones who seem to have it right, all straightened out and peachy keen. And still, there is no punishment for taking a human life. Yes, they are young. No, I don't believe that their original intent was to murder. However, that was exactly what they did. And somewhere along the lines it has become more of a crime to kill an animal than it is to take a human life. We have certainly lost ourselves. We have certainly forgotten the meaning of justice and truth.

A nation that does not value life will fall. Period. We have murdered millions of unborn babies in the past 50 years. Now, its okay to murder a helpless man who couldn't defend himself. We have forgotten the value of life, how precious it is, and we will pay for that. PETA rained down fire on President Obama for killing a fly during an interview, and yet they didn't say one word about an immigrant who lost his life to 2 bratty teenagers who couldn't see past the color of their own skin.

Silence is a crime in and of itself. And we have developed a skewed sense of justice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cell Phones and Water STILL Don't Mix

Some of you may remember a few months back when I blogged about my unfortunate tendencies to force cell phones and liquids to collide. As in, dropping my phone in various containers of water. Sinks, toilets, etc. This past weekend takes the cake, wins the trophy, goes down in history for the best one yet.

I may have also mentioned in the past my dreadful fear of critters. As in, bugs. Especially spiders. I hate them. As in, loathe, despise, abhor, detest. I think you get the point. I personally feel that Jesus was having a very bad day when he made spiders. Seriously, it was simply unnecessary. I love when people try to tell me that spiders are good because they eat other bugs. I tell them that they must have brain damage if they think that spiders are actually good. Who cares if they eat other bugs? My cat eats bugs. At least she's cute and cuddly and not sneaking around on eight legs and trying to literally eat people in their sleep. I suffer from extreme terror when I wake up with bug bites. Let's just be honest, they're from spiders. Which not only means that a spider was crawling on me in my sleep, but that it was also consuming my blood. It was feasting. On my life force. While I was unconscious and unable to defend myself. I personally think that Satan should have come in the form of a spider and not a snake. Spiders are way worse.

This past weekend marked the annual youth retreat with the youth group at my church, which I am a leader of. It is held each year at Tuscarora Inn, out in the middle of God-freaking-forsaken nowhere (oddly, and somewhat uncomfortably, close to where I spent my formative years). Do you know what's out in the middle of God-freaking-forsaken nowhere? Bugs. Particularly spiders. And not small ones. Big ones that probably wouldn't wait until you're sleeping to climb on you to suck your life force. They just tackle you and pin you down. Bottoms up, baby! Its dinner time! They are basically comparable to Shelab in Lord of the Rings. Or... at least in my mind.

Friday night found me hanging out on a dock by the shore of the Delaware River at Tusc. The spiders must have thought that was a good place to chill as well. After spotting one climbing a post reeeeeaaaaally close to me, my shrieks of terror sent one of the youth girls hustling off to find a few stones with which to slay the beast. This thing was ginormous. I mean, the leg span had to have been at least 2 feet. That's my side of the story, anyway. If anyone else tries to tell you differently, don't believe them. Its a lie straight from Satan. However, Jo successfully brought down the monster with a rock, only to have another one surface a few seconds later. I'm pretty sure that it was going to come after us in revenge for killing is fellow creature. This was not going over so well with me. Jo quickly went off in search of more stones with which to slay the new beast, whilst I cowered in a ball, probably whimpering like a little girl.

Immediately before throwing the stone at the Shelob, Jo mentions that it might be a good idea for me to move, because if she missed, the beast would probably make a beeline for me. My hysteria at the thought had me swiftly to my feet.... forgetting that my cell phone was lying peacefully in my very small jacket pocket.

*bounce, bounce, PLOP* No... it couldn't be!! My laughter started immediately upon the realization that, yes, my cell phone did just, in fact, hit the dock and bounce its way into the Delaware River. It was dark. And its the Delaware. I was not about to go jumping in after it.

My cell phone, may it rest in peace, is now making friends with the fish at the bottom of the Delaware. I have done nothing but laugh about it. I mean, its a great story. Its hard not to laugh about it. Plus, I'm up for a renewal on my cell plan next week, which means I'm eligible for a phone upgrade. The trusty old backup phone is being used in the interim. Good old, trusty old cell phone.

Lessons to be learned: do not, I repeat, do not try mixing electronics and water. It just doesn't work.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Little Pieces of Me

I'm getting tired of slipping into funks. Work funks, life funks, relationship funks. We all suffer from funkiness on occasion and I don't believe that any of us particularly like them. My funks are typically not of the severe sort, just enough to bring my mood down to a brooding level and make me want to just sleep it all away.

I've been recently struggling with a funk that was previously unknown to me: loneliness. I'm not a lonely person. I've been forced over the years to be comfortable with being by myself and alone, to the point where I've embraced it and has become a necessity to get that time to myself. However, there is definitely some falsity to the phrase "you can't get too much of a good thing." I think I'm basically over all of my superwoman independence. I am beginning to dread coming home to an empty house at night, I'm learning that my conversation skills are deficient due to a lack of exercise.

My very good friend, Leah, spent a week with me while on hiatus from long-term missions in Guatemala. I can't lie... It was awesome coming home and being greeted by someone who did not walk on all fours and stand about 18 inches high. We had dinner, drank wine, asked about each other's days... And it was amazing. Silly, right? Something so simplistic as having someone close enough to share every day things with can really make such a tremendous difference.

I feared as Leah's time with me came to a close that I would depress. That my feelings of loneliness and isolation would be magnified even more. Its incredible how being reminded of the fruitfulness of relationships when it is sorely lacking in one's life can impact a person on such a level. I knew that this was true when my mom called after I had dropped Leah off at the airport and asked if I would miss her and I nearly burst into tears. I know its kind of selfish. Wanting someone to stay around simply for your sake. But it is what it is (and hopefully Leah will be flattered! Te quiero mucho!)

It was a stark reminder of how God created us to be relational beings. That we were not meant to live this life out alone. I was reading something the other day on the Eastern State Penitentiary (don't ask) and their method of solitary confinement during imprisonment. There were direct links in the prisoners of insanity from such severe isolation tactics. I couldn't help but find that interesting. We are so much meant to be with and around other human beings that the lack of a human connection can actually drive a person out of their mind.

I know that I am in this place of my life for a reason. Yes, I do struggle with loneliness. No, I am not miserable. Its hard, sure. But, most things in life carry with them a certain level of difficulty and this is no exception. Its a time where I can focus solely on the things that God has for me, on my purpose, on my personal path, and just wait to see what's in store. Maybe this place of reclusion will soon be at a close. Maybe it will be for the rest of my life. In the end, I know it will be for the best and I've learned to not want for things that I cannot change. Just to hope for a brighter tomorrow and trust that fate is not what controls my life, rather the hand of God.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Where is the love?

I've discovered that I have an issue. Well, I have lots of them, let's just be honest here. But I have one issue in particular that really lights a fire under me: People who lack compassion. Oh. My. Gosh. I've learned that if I come across someone who is blatant about their lack of compassion for people who are truly and sincerely hurting, being exploited, starving, et cetera... I basically want to hurt them. As in, severely maim.

I had a certain situation this week involving some people who were displaying a total lack of compassion for the people of Africa. They came up with the worst excuses I had ever heard for their behavior and comments, and it was everything that I could do to keep from stabbing their eyeballs out. I now understand a bit more why Jesus went on a rampage through the temple. Righteous anger is an intense emotion, let me tell you. I do not believe that ever in my 26 years have I been furious to the point of physical shaking and my hearing buzzing. The anger I felt towards these people was mixed with sympathy for their unfeeling attitudes towards people, children no less, in horribly desperate situations that are beyond what those living comfortably in America can even begin to imagine.

I do not understand how a person can have any sort of knowledge whatsoever about the devastation around the world and not feel for that. How is that even possible? If anyone even mentions human trafficking, starvation, exploitation, regardless of who it is or where it is, my heart physically aches. The human side of anyone should hurt for that. And yet, so many of us are so caught up in our own lives that we cannot see past that. Or, we are so focused on our own passions or ambitions that we segregate our compassion towards a single group of people and leave the rest to their own defenses. This is not right. I do not believe that segregated love is the kind of love that Jesus taught.

How can we, in good conscience as a human being, turn a blind eye to suffering? How? This completely boggles my mind. I do understand that younger generations may need to grow into compassion, in a sense. That egocentric mindsets can be lessened with maturity and may be something that has to be learned, rather than coming naturally. However, I find any excuse still to be pitiful. If you cannot look at a suffering fellow human and feel nothing, you are wasting your life. Absolutely throwing it away. We were not created to be caught up in ourselves, to spend what little time we have on this earth focusing on our own wants and desires. We were created for a higher purpose, to uphold each other, protect each other, help each other. Anything less and we may as well just give up. It is pointless.

I had to pray for compassion on those who angered me so. It took me a little while to remember that their self-involvement and arrogance in the situation was most likely fueled by issues that I could not see, personal crises that could be skewing their perception. I also need to remember to have compassion on those who do not seem capable of the same at that moment in time.

"Compassion is the radicalism of our time." - The Dalai Lama

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cameras and Thankfulness

I find myself getting frustrated often with technical difficulties that get in the way of my dreams. Like money. Money is a very big technical difficulty that presents a host of obstacles that clutter the path towards my dreams.

We all have those ideal careers, those things that we wish oh-so-hard that we could do well. I have quite a few of those. Things like, be a wild horse tamer, domesticate alligators to keep as pets, a best selling author, principal dancer for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. But probably topping my list is to be a phenomenal photographer. I mean, the kind of photographer that makes people's jaws drop when they look at my photos. I have a decent eye for pictures, but I know that I'm not the most naturally gifted person out there. But I really want to be good at it.

One particularly massive obstacle in my path towards becoming the world's best photographer is that I don't have thousands of dollars just lying around with which to purchase top-notch camera equipment. In case you didn't know, let me enlighten you. Camera equipment is expensive. I mean, expensive. I've dug in my couch a few times to see if I could come up with enough loose change, but what I found wouldn't even buy a candy bar, much less super expensive equipment.

This is one of those times where I must learn to be satisfied, and remind myself that at least I have food on my table and a roof over my head. The important things in my life are more than taken care of, and that should be enough for me. I've been reminded lately of being thankful for what I have, and not to be longing and lusting after things out of my grasp. If God deems it fit, I will be blessed with my hearts desires for things I cannot afford. If not, I'll just be thankful for what I do have.

Its much simpler to just be thankful.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Presumptions and the Overwhelmption

As previously mentioned, I had a penchant for being a ridiculous version of a hypochondriac. As in, a fake one. As in, I'm am not actually a hypochondriac, but I sure do have a famously good time pretending to be. As also previously mentioned, I am partial to another amusement: originating diseases.

Several of my recent imaginings include the Swan Flu and the Pot Belly Pig Flu. Both continue to make symptomatic appearances on a daily basis. An another fabricated medical condition that I suffer from regularly is known as the Overwhelmption. I may have enlightened you to this infirmity in the past. It is of the direst of all ailments, causing symptomatic distress that is equitable something dreadful. Like Ebola. The Overwhelmption causes its victims much mental distress and emotional angst. There are typically sleepless nights and heightened anxiety to the point of hardly being able to focus on any one thing. Its quite terrible, really.

Yes, my friends, I have been afflicted with said Overwhelmption much of the last few weeks. I have been investigating some circumstantial life changes and my chronic indecision and lack of being able to trust God to lead my life in the right direction has brought my underlying Overwhelmption very much to the surface. I oft wonder why it is that I still have such a dreadful time trusting that God is leading me. I have 26 years of experience under my belt with no apparent life-altering horrible decisions that led me completely astray. Even the times where I felt that may have happened, I have been brought to a place where I can really see God's hand so evidently working me just to the place that I need to be. As in, at age 22 I was certain that I had missed the boat. I had several serious regrets about my college decisions, wondering if I had managed to royally screw up my life. Yes, some remnants of those regrets still remain deep in my soul. However, I am watching my life take a turn in a new direction, with new passions, new desires, and had I followed the path I thought I should be on at 22, I would be in quite the opposite place right now. My true calling in life could have been completely lost under what my presumptions were in relation to my ideas on what my life should be.

It is rather fascinating how our lives turn out. It is typically so opposite from what we thought it should be, in our stupidity of years past. And yet, even when we don't see it, God is moving us along, towards our destiny of as close to perfection as we will ever be. To be what He molded and shaped us to be.

Tonight, I am glad that I am not in charge of my life. Boy, how I would have screwed it up....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There Are Still Some Kinks

I found myself angry today. At me. In the rough wake of Sue's funeral, I was highly agitated at how I hadn't been there for her and her family more, how I hadn't called enough, hadn't emailed enough, hadn't put my own selfishness behind a bit and put her before myself. In complete honesty, I was afraid to go visit her. I knew how I had reacted the last I had seen Sue. It involved a total emotional breakdown. Not to mention barely being able to control the tears from rolling down my face at the skeleton of a woman I had once known while she was right in front of me. Looking back now, I realize the utter egocentrism involved. It never should have been about me, about how I would react, but about being an encouragement to someone I cared about. About showing my love, respect, care.

Love is not selfish, the Bible says. I know that my love still needs to be perfected, that I have yet to learn to love as Jesus loves me. Learning to become like my Savior is going to be a life-long process, and it is again blatantly obvious how far I have yet to travel on that journey. I will never be Jesus, but I will still strive everyday to be more like Him, to learn His character, to work out all the kinks in my life so that it matches His. It will never be perfect, but I will try like hell.

As my day progressed I couldn't help but be reminded of how we truly do need to cherish every day. All the cliche Carpe Diem phrases that we oft roll our eyes at suddenly have so much meaning in times such as this. There is no guarantee of what tomorrow holds, and only God knows where are life's path ends. Every moment should be regarded to be as precious as gold, and as savored as the most elusive herbs. Every instance where we can remind another of how we love them should be snatched up and put to use. The only guarantee in life is that there are no guarantees. That chance may never be had again.

To all my friends and family, I know I do not say it often enough, but I love you.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ponderances and Decisions

One of my favorite phrases is "life has been very life-like lately." Its a fabulous way of getting across that things aren't necessarily terrible, but they may not be so great either. I do feel that the last few weeks have been very, well... life-like.

Combine all the drama with my car, depression issues, sleep deprivation, and certain tragic incidences, its all been a bit overwhelming and I've found myself repressing the urge to smash my head into the corner of something heavy. Okay, so it really hasn't been quite that bad. But still, I feel that I can make the case for life being slightly less than desirable in recent weeks.

I have often been quoted as saying that I find it simply incredulous that children at the age of 17 or 18 are forced by society to pick their life's path in the form of a college major. I mean, seriously, at age 17 one is still so young and naive as to think that life is going to all work out exactly the way one wants it. Should people such as these be trusted with life-altering decisions? I think not! One of my most pressed suggestions with high schoolers is as follows: "take as many elective courses as you possibly can. Even if you're not sure if you'll like it." My reason for saying this is that, if given the right circumstances, one can learn so much about oneself in college through random course taking. One discover interests and talents that one never knew existed. One's path may alter completely based off of a single course.

Sadly, I was not afforded this opportunity in my advice during my college stay. Being an education major for my first 5 semesters of college, each semester was essentially planned out for me and jam-packed tight full of required courses. I believe I had 6 credits of free electives for my entire college career (how depressing!). However, one of those required courses did alter my career path nonetheless. A hellish semester with 5 required classes in my major (Secondary Education with a concentration in History) also brought along an Instructional Technology class that prompted a change of heart and brought about a switch in major midway though my junior year. A bit late for changing my mind, huh?

Here I am, nearly 5 years after college graduation. First off, I am flabbergasted that I am 5 years out from my undergrad degree. How does that happen? Each day pushes me closer to the 30 year mark, and I have a single thought that runs through my cranium every single day: What am I doing with my life? Yes! It is so true! I am about to head into my "late twenties" and I'm still relatively clueless as to what I am actually doing with my life. I have heard that this is a common theme amongst humans. I've had 50 year old people tell me that they still don't know what they want to be when they grow up. I do not find this encouraging. Another 25 years of swimming around in the sea of indecision does not sound like a good time.

I am on a quest to find out my life's calling recently. Well, not really recently. I suppose its more a quest that I've been on for the last 26 years, its just become accelerated as of late. I do believe that some light may be beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel. I'm hoping that I may get some direction soon, or I may just get steamrolled by the train that is attached to said light. Who knows. I do know that God knows the plans that He has for me. And they are plans to prosper me and not to harm me.

I'll simply take comfort in that. For now.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sue Jakiela

I first met Sue about 5 years ago. She brought her daughter, Esther, into one of my dance classes and I remember being struck by her quiet strength that just emanated from her. As I got to know Sue over the next few years, I discovered that her walk with the Lord was tremendous. She was one of those people who trusted her God for every single thing in life, was optimistic in everything, knowing that she would be taken care of and that nothing was too much for her to bear, as long as her Lord was beside her. Her son, Caleb, had a hearing dysfunction, which later contributed to learning problems once he was of school age. Still, Sue was strong. She was an inspiration to all, she would light up a room the instant she walked into it. She took care of her body, eating so healthy (I never understood how she could do that!), ran miles every week.

About 15 months ago, Sue came to the studio to drop Esther off and sat in the waiting area like she had done every Monday evening for the last 4 years. I noticed that she was holding her head off to the side, and naturally asked if she was okay. "Oh, I just woke up with this kink in my neck the other day and it will not go away!", she said. A trip to the doctor's later on that week revealed nothing. Sue told me the following Monday that the doctor had wanted to prescribe anti-depressants, since apparently that would solve everything. Because of the strength of her faith, Sue refused, stating that she knew that it was not an emotional issue that was causing the problem.

The following week, Sue was not there. Her husband was dropping off Esther, which was unusual. When I asked if she was okay, I heard those dreaded, dreaded words. Sue has cancer. I'm sure that utter shock must have registered on my face. "It can't possibly be!", I thought. Sue, of all people. The woman who had taken quite literally that her body was a temple of the Holy Spirit. The woman whose faith was a rock. That woman could not possibly have cancer.

As the details started pouring in, it was discovered that Sue had Stage 4 cancer in her collarbone and also her liver. Aggressive treatments were started immediately to try to slow the spread of the disease. I didn't see Sue for a while, but received updates from her husband often, and I called and emailed on occasion to find out how she was.

Last June, I was very surprised by Sue's presence at the dance recital. I struggled through several conversations with her that day. She had always been very thin, but she was down to about 90 pounds at this point. The chemo was ravaging her body and was not as effective as the doctors had hoped. She had started on experimental treatments in hopes that they would achieve better results.

That was the last time I saw Sue. I received word early this afternoon that Sue had fought, fought so hard, but had lost her battle with cancer. She went to be with the Lord at around 8 this morning. She was determined that the cancer would not get the best of her, and it never did. She kept her faith and her optimism until the very end. I know that she used her sickness to witness to many, and to be an inspiration to all she met.

In times like this, it is impossible to not ask why. Why?? With all of the Osama bin Laden's in the world. Of all those who spread hate, and agony, and misery.... Why someone like Sue? I heard it put so very well one time that God chooses the strong of faith and heart to endure these awful things sometimes because He knows their hearts. He knows their faith. He knows that they will be the epitome of His love because of the essence of who they are. Because they love Him above all else and will keep that in front of them at all times. Because they will be an inspiration and a walking testament of God's unfailing love and faithfulness in their lives. It is one of those things that is very hard for those that love them to accept. I don't want to accept it. But, I will. Knowing that God has her best in mind. That she was used of her Father in tremendous ways, and there can be no regrets there.

Sue, you will never be forgotten. We love you and will miss you terribly. Thank you for everything that your life meant, for all that you are, for what you were to your family and friends. Thank you for your life and the blessing that it was.