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Did he Really Just Say That?

I was watching a “controversial sermon” (as the interwebs is calling it) made by the wife of Joel Osteen, Victoria Osteen, on serving God and self. I don’t think this is controversial at all. People are going bananas because Victoria Osteen was preaching and said that when we serve God, we’re really “doing what makes us happy” rather than God. She was endorsing this particular method of serving God and telling the congregation to do just that, because when we make ourselves happy, we make God happy. This shouldn’t be taken out of context! For example, if a person is a kleptomaniac, it’s not going to make God happy if they steal, if stealing makes that person happy, etc.

However, I do think Victoria Osteen is on to something in that when we are playing into our altruistic ways and doing good for others, we are in fact “serving ourselves” in our deeds too. She was merely highlighting this aspect of “self” which can be seen throughout various psychological perspectives, as I’ve learned through my studies. I can’t say I’m in 100% agreement with her, but I can’t dispute her claim altogether either.

But this isn’t the jaw-dropping part. Steve Camp, a pastor and former chart-topper in the Christian music world, said in a Huffington Post clip (at 2:55- 3:28), “Victoria seems like a sweet person but an uninformed person. She can’t be a pastor of a church- there’s no place in the Scripture for a woman to be a co- pastor of anything, and…she needs to be discipled. She seems immature yet very sincere in what she’s claiming.”  (http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/highlight/christians-react-to-victoria-osteens-controversial-sermon/540e11b5fe3444535b0001dc?cn=tbla)

Dude! What?

I cannot believe in 2014 that such ignorance is still thriving. How in the world can a person think that God is limited and that He cannot move His Spirit upon a woman if He so chooses? This level of ignorance is shocking. I could pop off a fat handful of  Scriptures right now- from memory alone- that proves that God can and indeed does encourage women to preach- and not only encourages them but ordains them.

The very fact that God says that we (both male and female) are created in His image tells a person that God is not just male, but female too.

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen. 1:27)

Here’s something else to consider: There’s a place in the book of Numbers where God sends a prophet, Balaam, to go and speak to the people in a town. The prophet decided to not go and changes his direction. When the donkey he was riding on actually corrected the prophet’s misdirection, the prophet smote the ass, hurting it. This happened three times, causing the donkey to actually speak out- as in- using actual words so that the prophet understood it:

“And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass and she said unto Balaam, ‘What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?”‘ (Num. 22:28)

What does this Scripture tell us?

It tells us that if God can open a donkey’s mouth and cause it to speak, don’t think He can’t open a woman’s mouth and cause her to preach.

And here’s one for the road, which eradicates sexist claims, such as what Mr. Camp offered:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

And here’s another important Scripture to chew on. Deborah, who was a prophetess, judge, and warrior–mentioned in the book of Judges–was chosen to lead Israel out of the hands of their oppressors. The people had prayed for a leader, and they were given Deborah- a woman.

People came and sought advice from her under a palm tree, where she used to sit:

And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:5)

Barak, a warrior, sought advice from her about going into battle. in so many words, she told him that sure, she would go with him (being a warrior too), but that there would be no glory in it for him and that the Lord would deliver their enemy into the hands of a woman:

“And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.” (Judges 4:9)

Sexist men, who think a woman must “remain silent in the church”- please- educate yourselves in the Bible before opening your mouths, calling women “immature” and saying that they have no place to preach. Be a disciple yourself and stop limiting God’s strength and power. Does Jesus not say that all things are possible with God?

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, ‘With men’ this is impossible but with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

If you are truly a “believer”, then believe.

Bear’s Lair, Here we Come!

Josh has been working so so hard lately. As I’d mentioned before, he’s been working 7 days per week for almost two months straight with only 1 day off (somewhere, weeks ago). Because my schoolwork takes up much of my time, we have to snatch away an hour here or there when we can, and if you think our ridiculously busy schedules don’t cause conflicts on a microscopic level- think again!

Sometimes it can get pretty ugly and it’s easy to cop a ‘tude when you feel like his boss gets double the time with your man than you do. Every. Single. Day. of. Every. Month. But that’s just me being selfish. I at least wanted to be able to spend my birthday (Sept. 18th) with my guy. Not asking too much, right? But then my guy said his boss needed him on my birthday.

Um…

K. NO.

And so we haggled over this particular date (not unlike Marrakesh hagglers in a tug-o-war over the best ceramic pot) and I wasn’t budging. Until…

he and his boss got together (and outsmarted me) and presented me with a package that I just couldn’t refuse. If I would be willing to give up my birthday, then his boss would give him two whole days off the following week.

I took the bait. :)

And then Josh did something that completely blew me away. He’s never taken me away on a trip before. (Apart from the tent in the woods thing several miles from our home- which I have to say was pretty darn awesome.)  In the past, it’s always been me that’s done all of the surprising and arranging and booking and reserving and all of the extras. In his defense, he just never had the means to do so. But all this work he’s been doing = the means to do so now.

So, he went behind my back and booked two nights for us at a luxury cabin several hours away in Red River Gorge (in the Appalachians of Kentucky) that sits on a spring-fed lake that’s just loaded with various types of catfish, crappie and the like- no fishing license required. Also, there are natural caves all about the private property that include actual cave paintings + plenty of hiking trails with gorgeous wildflowers peppered throughout. The cabin itself is absolutely gorgeous- bi-level- with all leather furniture, beautiful hard wood floors throughout + pine wooden walls- everything is shiny wood- tile bathroom basins with one long, clawed faucet (like something from House & Garden magazine) and a wrap-around deck on all sides that extends over the lake. Not only did he pick a great cabin on a lake, but it includes a canoe and a motor-powered boat at our disposal 24 hours a day, waiting for us at the dock which is only a few steps from the back door via a walkway.

Can somebody pinch me?

The location is 30 minutes from Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade, Kentucky and is again, part of Red River Gorge. What’s really funny is that I was Googling this very place not even two weeks ago (when I was planning my grand escape and had thought about running away from home) and I wanted more than anything to go there. Of all the places, I wanted to go and see this “Red River Gorge”. Josh had no idea I had even done that.

He told me he had been praying about where to take me for my birthday. So, he stumbled across this place after Googling “cabins in Kentucky”. What are the chances?! My mouth dropped when he showed me a picture of it and I caught the words “Red River Gorge”- I just couldn’t believe it. (And we don’t share computers, so there’s no way he could have known that it was this place that I was wanting to see more than anything.)

It’s neat how things work out when you finally surrender and give up the fight. When you say, “It just doesn’t matter if I get my way any more. I quit.” I think when God sees us waving the white flag, then He opens up His treasure chest and says, “Well here, silly. I wanted to do this months ago!” :0)

Much school work to do, as usual. I can’t say I’ve been so happy in a very long time: My guy is amazing. :)

Bear’s Lair

BL

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

(Spring-fed lake is at bottom right in the back. Not my pics- borrowed from website.)

My Head is a Wreck Again

It’s been a while since I’ve battled one of these migraines: I’ve grown a little too comfortable without them. Life has been a dizzying whir of cramming chapters again, quizzes, and posting a ton of forum posts per class. Some professors are asking for 6 posts in a week. (That’s an unusually large amount for one week.) I ended up dropping my Statistics class because…well…my professor was less than competent. On the first week of class, he was still vacationing in the wilderness of remote Alberta. By the end of the week, we still didn’t have a syllabus or our course ID number for the MyStatLab. (Um, what am I paying for again? Can I get a competent teacher up in this mug?)

Still, I managed to get the 100+ Statistic problems finished that he asked for- all without extending our due dates up a week. Unfortunately, that much math ended up causing me to be late in another class, and although I was only late for one forum discussion board, my professor- my communications professor- cited me as a “risk”- all because I was late for ONE FORUM POSTING. Let’s keep in mind that I emailed her 3 times and she never responded. Communications my ass.

But that’s not the bad part. The bad part is that she herself had a family tragedy and forgot to post week 3’s assignment. For 3 days. But I’m a “risk”. (Hello? Is there a button I can push to notify somebody of my professor being a risk?) If you can’t walk the walk- don’t talk the talk!

I have a heap of assignments due still by Sunday but after 6+ hours of straight schoolwork- I’m toast. Normally, that would just be my starting point, but 6 hours with a brooding semi-migraine is quite an accomplishment. Josh has gone to retrieve the remedy. I won’t say what the remedy is, but if you know me well enough, you know what that remedy is. (It’s not pot and I sort of wish it was.) Alas, I hate pot.

So tonight, I’ll lounge in bed with my laptop watching Project Free TV, nursing my head, and I hope I’m eating bad crap and feeling really good about it.

Grrrr…

grrr

Painting with Light

Pics taken manually with the Super Tak film lens + Digital Rebel XSI. Natural sunlight- some SOOTC/straight out of the camera/Spring Mill Park- Mitchell, Indiana 9/8/14 (“Painting with Light” my interpretation- start out with total blackness. Bring in the light subtly via ISO/sh. sp./ & ap.) 

TreesMJ

SOOTC/straight out of the camera- cropped only

flowerMJstixMJ

fungusMJ

IllBeBlueMJ

millmj

lanternmj

loommj

TheWayMJ

Another SOOTC/cropped only
TheLightShowmj

hereweareMJ
brushmj

 

 

Unhappy Customer

It’s 3:10 a.m. and I’ve just finished up 7 hours of Statistics. Why 7 hours you might ask? Because my professor was unable to get our class up and running for the whole first week (and our corresponding online homework site) and it set us back a week. Rather than move our schedule up by a week, he’s left the due date for 100+ 3 and 4 part math problems (some taking a 10 minute completion for one problem) at Sept. 6th at midnight. I was only able to access the site 3 days ago, so this left me trying to complete a GAZILLION freaking problems today. I actually managed this insane task- barely. (My only other option was to drop the course and that ain’t happening.) 

Rather than sleep, I’m going to jump right into my assignments in my other classes, because:

a.) They’re due today by midnight, and

b.) Who needs sleep anyway?!

The good thing about this schedule is that you’re both too busy and distracted to be depressed. 

Josh hasn’t had a day off in more than a month: We see each other in passing these days. We still managed to sneak in a dinner date last night at the river where we dined on Vietnamese just before midnight. 

I need a freaking vacation already…

The  Big Sleep

This and That

I’m honestly too tired to think of a clever title. I’m beginning to think I was mad to attempt 5 classes this semester! Alas, the boat has left the shore so onward I go. Here’s what my schedule’s looking like for the next few days:

Cross-cultural Communications- Read chap. 1 & do DB/Discussion Board-respond to 2 classmate’s posts/take exam

Research Methods of Experimental Psychology- Complete CITI training/DB postings/Read chap. 4- take Ethics exam

Ethics- “Think & Write” assignment/Read chap. 1/Read Plato’s Republic (various chapters), Lord of the Rings commentary and chapter excerpts & discussion along with The Rings of Tolkien & Plato, DB/Discussion Board on Chap. 1/Respond to 3 classmate’s threads

Everyday Psychology- Read chap. 1/Journal entry/Do both DBs and take exam

Statistical Techniques for Health Professionals- do 90 more Stat problems on descriptive and inferential Statistics + 2 quizzes and 1 test

That about wraps it up for week two!

My day began with me taking my Mom to her doctor’s appointment at 9:00 a.m. Her medication levels were off and she was toxic. Thankfully we caught it in time. Afterwards, my day was a flurry of activity but I managed to squeeze in a mile walk at the park with the dog- back to flurried activity- supper (Mom and brother fed- check!) 5 hours of schoolwork- milkshakes at Steak ‘n Shake with the fam-back outside for another late night walk with the dog. I’m pretty sure my punctuation is blown all to hell but I’m too tired to check. 

So, at almost 2:00 a.m., I’m off to slap some Proactive on my face and brush my teeth- slam an Ambien and drift off into blissful nothingness. I’ll be back when I come up for air!

Taken today at the park- Helios 44-2/manual exposure

form

punch

Louisville

Downtown Jeffersonville/Louisville, KY in the background

Old Leaves- New Day

leaves Canon XSI + m42 (to EOS) EF adapter + Helios 44-2/manual/natural sunlight/ ISO 100/ f/2
The marriage of digital camera + old (Helios) film lens imported from the Ukraine
Taken today

Let the Good Times Roll

Five years ago, my sister gave me her Honda, thinking it wouldn’t last much longer. I had been praying that very day for a miracle, asking God to help me with a car. That evening, she came over and told me that she wanted to give me her car. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect! So, for five years I’ve been driving it. The water pump crashed and died last year, but all year, I’ve been driving it- overheating every two miles. Talk about trying your patience! It can be super stressful when you feel like you’re in a death trap. 

Thankfully, my Frank O’Bannon award came in a few days ago: $1,800 that doesn’t need repayed. I’m buying a new laptop for school ($70 from Craig’s List- hey, it’s “new” to me!), a new camera (Canon t3i 18 MP body only for $255- brand new- a steal) and a new copy of the Helios 44-2 film lens- imported from the USSR. And, I bought this!

1997 Isuzu Rodeo

my car

It sells for around $3,000-$5,000 used, but I was able to trade in my old car and knock a few hundred down. I gave the car lot guy $1,000 cash and drove it off the lot- I’m ecstatic. It drives smoother than butter and it’s a 5 speed, which I love.

Essentially, I still have 5 days left before the start of my semester, but I like to get an early start, so I’ll be ordering all of my books in the next hour and then loading up my laptop tomorrow: 5 neat folders- each class loaded with its respective syllabus, assignments, contact info & email instructions, and all of the other necessary bits. (You can never be too prepared.) 

My son, “Bob-Brian”, is staying over with his little lady, Mandy Tator Tots, and I’m in the best mood I’ve been in ages. 

Two-headed Monster- taken tonight in parking garage- crappy cell phone pic- Josh & I

us

I had just enough money left over to send a few hundred to my daughter and give $300 to my little brother to help him out.  I think it’s safe to say it’s a very good time in our lives. Five days of freedom left! 

Until we meet again. x

A Little Spark

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” -Robin Wlliams

WarholMOMAMuseum goers at the Warhol exhibit- 2010/Museum of Modern Art(MOMA)/New York City, New York/Canon Rebel XSI-Sigma 17-70

Why Good People Suffer

I’ve recently read a story about a beloved blogger (Rara AKA Rarasaur) who has been the victim of a hate crime. I can’t go completely into her story because I don’t have enough information, but she was accused of embezzling $500,000 from her former employers.

She left their employment to start her own business along with a healthy client list. My suspicion is that her former bosses were afraid that she would be competition in some manner, so they assassinated her character by accusing her of embezzlement, and went a step further by contacting her entire client list, damaging her reputation and corrupting any potential hope of generating clientele.

She and her husband sold all that they had to obtain an lawyer, and she ultimately lost her business. They moved into a tiny hotel and lived on $5 pizzas- hardly the stuff of half a million dollars! For the next few years, Rara fought for her life. In the end, it was useless. Rara was sentenced to 3 years in prison: 18 months for good behavior. (Most prisoners only serve 50% of their sentences if they become model prisoners.) There was never an official investigation into the (alleged) missing half a million dollars. It was all very hush-hush, yet they still managed to ship the case over to the D.A. and she was charged.

I don’t know Rara personally and have only ever left one comment on her blog, but her pictures of herself reflect a woman who radiates love. She’s been known to raise boatloads of money for other people and is an activist in the blogging community, as well as a poetess and huge supporter of organizations she believes in.

Everything in me says that she is innocent. The reason this story is so close to my heart is because I too was falsely accused of something I didn’t do many years ago. My entire family was ripped apart and we were all punished relentlessly, year after year. I wasn’t allowed to speak in court, ever, and so after years of being thrown about in a vicious and abrasive system, I fired my attorney just to be able to speak out in court, finally. I slammed my hands down on the table and demanded that my kids return home. They had taken everything else from me, but I wasn’t going to let them take my voice.

It was the right thing to do. The case took a necessary turn and I was spared going to prison on trumped up false charges. The case drug on for 13 years or so. I was pulled apart at the seams and tested beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I went through absolute hell but I never gave up. Year after year, the battering continued, but I never gave up. I learned just how weak I was in the face of such a crushing device as our government- but I also learned how strong I was.

So many innocent people are sentenced to prison every day. It’s a horrific circle of injustice: the accusers, lawyers, and everybody involved knows that poor people cannot defend themselves properly, therefore, they offer a plea agreement (which is seldom in favour of the defendant) and most times, the defendant ends up taking the prison sentence because they’re out of resources and too exhausted to continue fighting.

I have my own theory as to why evil things happen to good people. I deal with many (many) people on a daily basis who have suffered abuse, trauma, etc. and who carry deep scars and even deeper resentment. I’ve spoken (typed) with literally thousands of people over the past decade, sharing my own personal story of tragedy and triumph. Why do horrible things happen to people like us, who just want to do good in this world and live our lives?

Why?

And every time, I think of Joseph (from the Bible). His is a true story. Joseph’s siblings hated him so much because his parent favoured him over them. Jospeh had had dreams of his brothers bowing down to him: it infuriated them! Josheph’s father, Jacob, had given Joseph as special coat made from various colours. When his brothers saw it, their envy was so intense that they wanted to kill him. So one day, they thought of a scheme that involved killing their brother, and smearing animal’s blood on his precious coat. They would take the bloody coat to their father and tell him that Joseph had been murdered by an animal, and that’s just what they did. They wanted to defile the very thing that represented their Dad’s love for Joseph.

So, they threw Joseph into a deep pit, ripping his coat from him. They devised ways that they might kill him. Only one of his brothers, Reuben, loved him. He stood up for Joseph and suggested that they sell him instead and get some money. He appealed to their greed to save his brother’s life, and it worked.

Joseph was sold to some travelers on their way to Egypt. He landed in a rich man’s house named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife desired Joseph and tried to seduce him on a number of occasions, but Joseph was all about doing the right thing. He was thrown into prison for telling the truth. He had done nothing wrong.

While in prison, Joseph suffered much hunger and beatings; diseases and all sorts of evil things. All the while, God had been preparing Joseph’s heart for great things! But look what he had to go through to get them.

Fast forward many years. Joseph had grown into a man and had been incarcerated for many years in dark, diseased dungeons. One day, the king of the land had troubling dreams and only Joseph could interpret them. He told the king that there would be a great famine in Egypt- the king himself had dreamed about it!

In the end, Joseph was made chief in command (second only to the king) and saved all of Egypt, and ultimately his very brothers who tried to kill him. And in the end, they indeed did have to bow down to their brother, just as his dream had predicted.

When you observe Joseph’s life in bits and pieces, it seems so unfair that he had to suffer the way he did. But God just wanted to “give him a new coat”. The bigger picture is a beautiful one.

Joseph’s story is not so different than my own.

In all that happened to me, God simply wanted to give me a new coat. :) That coat is very expensive. It looks like old goat skin that is weathered and worn, shredded here and there and barely held together after years of being ripped apart, but it’s laced with diamonds- the most durable stuff in the world.

The most important thing to remember, when you’re in the fire and feel as if you’re going to be burned to a crisp- is that the heat is God’s love. It hurts like hell, sure it does, and it feels like hell. But His intention is not to kill you. It’s in that fire that all of the impurities are burned away, and in the end, you’ll come out shinier than gold and you’ll have the goods that it takes to help other people who are still in the fire.

So Rara, if you ever read this some day, I have no doubt that you’re going to come through this thing a winner. Think about all of the lives you will touch that can only be reached by becoming the sacrifice, as you have done.

There’s a great need for genuine love in prison. I have no doubt that you’ll touch many lives. God needed to send the right woman for the job, and I believe He did.

Shine on, Rara. xo

ForRara

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