photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

Posts tagged “love

The Crucified Way

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Never in a million years did I think I’d live to see the day when my Church would be divided. It happens to many churches. There are differences in opinions, feelings, ideologies, and ultimately, beliefs. So, church members branch off so that all people might feel included and have a place to go or belong. It doesn’t make the people who left “wrong” and it doesn’t make the people who stay in the original church “right”. Each person must decide for him or herself what is best in their lives.

I was born into a family of Pentecostals. My Church is Christ Gospel (Headquarters) and my Pastor is Rev. B. R. Hicks. She’s getting up there in years (in her 90’s) but she’s got plenty of fire left! 🙂 I consider her my spiritual mother and owe her a great deal; I always will. I was raised in duality, however: when I lived with my Mom, I went to prayer meetings twice per week and church four times per week. We didn’t have a t.v.- didn’t wear make-up, pants, etc. (skirts/dresses only), and lived a pretty clean life, to say the least. (I remember once, becoming heavily convicted at 14 because I was reading “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Yep!)  When I lived with my Dad, however, it was AC/DC, loads of whiskey, beer, and pot, and I had free reign of my life. I was perpetually bouncing back and forth between my parents throughout my adolescence and I was the only one of my siblings who did. Both sides- the spiritual world and the carnal world- were well developed within me. I’ll always be grateful for that. Had I been raised “only in church”, I would have felt inadequate, or as if I were a perpetual sinner and could never measure up to my cohorts and peers. Had I been raised “without God/church” (only) I’m sure I’d be dead by now, as I’m rebellious by nature and like to live life on the edge. Having both sides has allowed me to “sin with the sinners and sup with the saints”, as it were. What it’s also allowed me to do is get to know people from all walks of life- judging no one.
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There’s a saying in my church that we call “the Crucified Way”. It’s choosing to focus on Jesus’ crucifixion and believing that all things go back to that: the Cross. As Christians, we pray and ask God to “crucify our flesh” so that our own carnal pride will become crucified- transformed- and cleansed so that rather than making something “about ourselves”, we make it about Jesus and His will. It’s no secret that we’re living in a self-fulfilling, hedonistic world where it’s all about “gaining followers”. I think though, we can become lost, chasing after a hollow goal if we’re not purpose-driven and sanctified- seeing the world through anointed “holy” eyes. Without that, it’s too easy to get caught up in “self” and “status” and “followers” and “likes” and on and on and on. But we all do it, no matter how clean we think we are- we all do it.
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But back to the matter at hand! Recently, my Church has become divided. Bro. Bill Hudson (whom I really like a lot) started a separate church and many people have left our home Church to join his. They call it “Return Ministries”. Keep in mind, I, myself haven’t been to an actual Church (building) in quite some time- but that has no bearing on my feelings and beliefs. I love my church- Christ Gospel- and always will. Whether I’m actually “attending the building” doesn’t add to or take away from my walk with Jesus- one bit.

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I love my Pastor very much because she’s taught me what it means to forgive and to love, truly. I’ll never forget what she said one day, “You can’t love people from a distance.” In other words, you have to “get your hands dirty”. DO something to show people you love them. Help them clean their house, give them food or a ride to the store- HELP them! Don’t merely say a hypocritical prayer that “God will help them or bless them” and leave them out in the cold…
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It’s because of my Pastor that I was able to forgive my offenders – 100%- and find healing in my life. She’s lived by example and has poured out her heart, soul, time and her very life to help other people (like myself), and I’ll always be indebted to her for that.

There are a lot of lies on the internet about her, and there are people who have set out to destroy her her whole life. But just as the Bible says, “The servant is not above his Master,” and just as they tried to twist Jesus’ words, they twist hers too and try to make her out to be all sorts of things she is not.

I’m only one person with once voice. But consider this (part of) my testimony and that I have learned from Rev. Hicks how to love, forgive, overcome, how to give to others selflessly, how to actually give thanks to God for hard times, and how to take my eyes off of myself and put them on Jesus. She’s an awesome person, in general, but she’s an incredibly awesome woman. 

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What I love most about her, though, is her refusal to “go with the flow”. She stands on what is in the Bible- 100%. In 2015- that offends a lot of people. People want conformity and change. Under pressure, Moses struck the rock (in the wilderness) so that the people would have water, but he struck it out of fear and to silence them. He didn’t strike the rock because God wanted him to. He did it because the people moved him to do it- but it wasn’t God’s will. He “went with the flow” so there wouldn’t be an uprising.

Rev. Hicks doesn’t “go with the flow to silence the masses”, and again, that’s one of the things that I love her for the most. People blame her for their own unhappiness, but if we don’t give others credit for our success, why should we blame them for our misery?

The single greatest thing I’ve ever learned from Rev. Hicks is this: “Nobody can push your buttons unless you allow them to.”

That statement literally changed my life. We each have the power and ability to choose LOVE. To choose peace. And to choose forgiveness. I’ll forever hold these precious lessons close to my heart, and I’ll forever be grateful for what Rev. Hicks has taught me. ♥

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A Very Special Thank You to a Very Special (Extended) Family

I’m far too excited to sleep. I’ve only got 2 weeks left in the semester! I’ve been up for hours researching Master’s programs and trying to decide if I want to move away when I begin working on my PhD. That’ll be a few years from now but I’ve actually been thinking of moving much sooner. My kids are all grown and everybody’s on their own, pretty much, but I can’t leave my mother, so I’m sticking around this ole town. At least for a year or two more. (But it’s in the cards.)

The major hurdles are over this semester and I’ve only got my term paper on OCD to tighten up and two finals remaining. That’s reason to celebrate. 🙂 The mood around the house is jovial and I’m feeling packed full of love!

For anyone who may be reading this who has chosen to follow my blog and has offered your support over the weeks, months, and years, both emotionally and artistically, I want to take this time to thank you. I started out writing this blog so that my kids could have a piece of me when I’m gone. And, so perfect strangers might read my story (BIO) and see my pics and be inspired. I’ve had a lot of hard knocks in this world, but they’ve only served me. I like to tell people that the more cuts you have in your stone, the greater your shine, and that’s so true.

What’s started out as a lone walk through bloggie land (more than three years ago) has turned into me claiming several hundred of you as family, and you certainly are. You’ve supported me, held me together (stapled, tied and glued!), encouraged me when I was downtrodden, and made me laugh when I thought it impossible. I love all of you. ♥ Oh! And thanks a whole heap extra for encouraging me to hang in there when I wanted to quit school (a million times)!

Thank you guys- friends and strangers alike. Here are some flowers for you. 🙂 MUCH LOVE. xo And Oloriel, if you’re reading this, the 2nd pic is especially for you. I thought of you when I was editing it- it totally reminds me of you. :0)

Taken two days ago- Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.4 vintage film lens
(I’m totally in love with this rocking lens.)

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One more thing. SAMI, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I MISS YOU VERY MUCH. I hope things are well, and I hope you’re still toughing out that journalism major! I also hope “other situations” are better too. I miss our many chats. Lots of love to you. X


I’m so Damn Proud of My Kids

My son, Brian (AKA Bob Hedge) was walking along Eastern Blvd. today and encountered a woman who asked him for .89 cents for bus fare. He gave her $10. As he walked on, he saw a homeless man. He was compelled to give him $20, and so he did.

I couldn’t be more proud of my kids. 🙂 As a Mom, there’s nothing that could make me more proud than to know they’re giving $ to strangers on the streets. Being compassionate, loving, and thoughtful goes a long way in this world, and people who do these things are at the top of my list, always.

Rock on, guys! I love you. NAMASTE xo

Helios film lens 44-2/Canon Rebel- private retreat (bamboo forest in background)
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Bathed in Light: Jesus’ Love

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I’m watching The Dark Crystal and thinking about nabbing another bowl of Pistachio Almond Ice cream. Party for one. 🙂

I’m in a particularly jovial mood- a bit celebratory. For weeks, I’d been super depressed- lost in the post-breakup haze that always accompanies splitting up with the mate. I knew I would have my bad days here or there, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be so bad. My heart was just wrecked.

Two days ago, in the twilight hours of pre-dawn, I fell on the bedroom floor and just wailed. I hadn’t let myself cry after Josh left (except for once) and finally, the damn burst; I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I cried and cried and prayed and really just got all of the ick out. I read Isaiah 26 (out loud) and really felt the Lord there in the room with me. After I anointed myself and finished reading the Bible, the cloud passed over me; I could feel it lifting physically, not just in my spirit, and afterwards I felt so light. The chains fell off of me and it’s been that way since. The heartbreak and sorrow were just too heavy for me and I knew that I wouldn’t make any type of progress until I let it all out, and let it all go.

So I did. It’s funny…to the hungry, desperate soul, even bitterness is sweet, and I was just soooo desperate to feel Jesus’ love. My heart has been restocked with sweet love and I feel a warm glow swimming around inside.

I have one of these too. >>>>>>> 🙂

Oh…and these little guys don’t hurt either:

DoeyandVirgilCarl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.4 film lens/Canon Rebel 

We have two new housemates! Our dog, Chance, is crazy about them: He gives them baths and is a great guard dog. Brianna named the male kitty Virgil (from Dante’s Inferno), and Brian named the female Do Re Mi Fa So La To Do, but we call her Doey for short.

They’re absolutely adorable and I’m madly in love with them.

(Time to hit the hay.)
Good night morning, world.

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.”  -Isaiah 26: 9


Chasing Rabbits (and Big Dreams)

I read an article the other day in which a woman said, “A person who chases two rabbits at the same time catches neither in the end.” Thanks Taylor Swift.

It’s 4:10 a.m. and I’m just getting out of the shower. My head is throbbing again; I’m trying to stave off another migraine. I haven’t had a head-smasher in about 6 weeks- that’s a record for me! I ate en entire bag of Swedish Fish though and it’s trying to bite me in the ass: sugar is the enemy! (And I’m slightly addicted to Swedish Fish.)

I’m fresh out of Ambien; hence my insomnia. I was too lazy to go to the doctor, so…here I sit, editing pics and contemplating my future in the early wee morning hours! And on that note, I’m pretty sure I’m only 15 credit hours away from receiving my Bachelor’s in psychology. I have almost 100 credit hours so far; I’m pretty stoked about that. 🙂

I’ve decided that I’m going to try and get into Indiana University Southeast’s Master’s-to-PhD Clinical Psychology program in another year or so. Once I get my foot in the door- it’s a given- I’ll be in. So, it’s crucial that I keep my grades up because the competition in grad. schools is fierce! I’m going to have to really up my game when that time comes. Staying on the Dean’s List is very important. I raise the bar super high for myself so that if I don’t meet my standards and end up falling short, I’ll still succeed. And, I’m thinking about getting a dual Master’s degree- one in Clinical psychology and one in Social Work (M.S.W.); I’m going to need all of the extra tools in my bag that I can get. I’m betting that if I get a master’s degree in social work and a master’s in clinical psychology (minoring in forensic psych.) as well as my PhD in Clinical- I’ll be set. So, that’s what I’m aiming for. It’s ambitious as hell, but I’m an ambitious kinda gal.

In other news, I’m shocked (but not really) that Doggy Daddy hasn’t even requested to see his dog (or spend time with him) – not even once. 😦 It’s heart breaking. Who could walk away from a baby this cute?!

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I really shouldn’t be surprised. Same thing, different year. On the other side of the coin though, it’s given Chance and I time to bond even more. I’ve had to fill in the gap and really make sure that he (my dog) isn’t suffering in Doggy Daddy’s absence. And, he’s not. But don’t let me get started on THAT.

Life has been super quiet lately. I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the peace and quiet and the restoration of sanity in general. It hasn’t been easy! My heart is still raw and I’m still confused and bewildered that Josh and I aren’t even friends any more- we don’t speak. At all. It’s…very weird. But I suppose that’s how it has to be. I’m alright with it. As much as I want to divulge all sorts of juicy tidbits here, I’ll refrain. I don’t owe that man one more thing, but I do owe him the decency of not railing on him if he’s not here to defend himself. I’ll give him that. 

Sometimes, it’s a struggle to find my peace and smile throughout the day. I wrestle to do that in the wake of such a hideous breakup. (Then again, it’s only been a little over a month since parting ways.) But I know that I’m capable of great love and great compassion. If I were to lose those two components within me, I’d be nothing. So those are the things that I strive to hold onto more than anything: my love and compassion for my fellow human being. Generally, that’s not hard for me to do, love. But breaking up with the love of your life has a way of destroying innocent things and feelings; it pollutes beauty, and in the end, can leave a thick, evil feeling in your heart. It can be a real battle just to breathe sweet air again- but thank God those feelings don’t last. For some people, they actually become those feelings, until they’re hateful rotten shells of their former selves.

But I know me, and I know my heart. I’ll come out of this a winner. Stronger in love for it. 🙂

I’m not quite there yet! But I will be. And I can still smile and feel like a child inside. That’s a precious thing to me. Life is still sweet. ♥

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Spring break is officially over and I have to get started soon on my 7 page term paper/literature review on OCD.

Short term goal: finishing my term paper
Long term goal: becoming a doctor/psychologist

One day at a time.


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I’ve discovered that it takes me approximately 4 days to get over a man.

Enter Exhibit A
Taken today with my new Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.4 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI

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Somebody got her groove back!

Just wanted to take a minute to say thanks for all of the emails, PM’s, and feedback supporting me through this really difficult time in my life! Your love and support have pulled me through some rough waters, and miraculously, I feel 100% back to my old self and very happy. I was all set to follow through with the doom and gloom but the clouds have rolled over me and the storm was gone before it even got started. I love you guys! Thanks again. XO


The Crazy Train has Left Town

For the first time in many weeks, it’s quiet here. It’s 3:14 a.m. and I really have no business being up at this time of night; tomorrow’s a school day- in more ways than one. I’m home-schooling my nephew, Johnboy, now. He comes over 3 times per week and we put in about 30 hours weekly. I won’t say where he was academically before I took over, but he’s making great progress and he’s got the grades to prove it. 🙂 Before we began, I made him an irresistible proposition: I offered to buy him a cell phone if he wrote me a report on any book from the library that was 300 pages or more. Over the next few weeks, he cultivated a careful 3 page report on Malcom X and I made good on my promise.

There are other incentives! Such as this:

PieforJboyI made him his favourite pie (cherry) the other day. It looks a little beat up, but it did the trick. 😉 (I also made 2 salted caramel chocolate pumpkin cheesecakes and homemade red pepper and roasted garlic chickpea hummus. It was to die for!)

Earlier this evening, things got a little out of hand, as they usually do, and Josh and I parted ways. I really hope it’s for good this time. I’m exhausted from the emotional chaos and I deal with conflict in a calm, peaceful way the majority of the time. I usually just “go away”. I like my quiet time where I can reflect and collect myself (and talk to with God). But these past few days, I’ve felt this raging sea boiling up in me, because that’s what’s been unleashed on me for weeks now. I just reached my breaking point- I really did. Thankfully, Josh left, taking his things with him.

It’s been hard lately, but I’m eager to explore this new chapter in my life! Even a year ago, the thought of living my life as a single woman was daunting, but I lived the whole winter “manless” and got by just fine. Sure, it was pretty rough sailing for a while! And I was heartbroken. But what I feel now is actually relief. I’ve waited a really long time to be able to focus on me and actually begin a career. (Or, begin to begin a career.)

And now I’m there. I don’t need anyone screwing that up for me! I want to be alone for a good long while. I don’t feel sad at all, but I’m sure those days are coming. Pain is inevitable. I’m just at the very beginning of it all when denial is still at its peak and everything is “just spiffy”. But the gray days are coming.

I’m going to be alright though. I’ve come to a new place where I enjoy solitude- not only enjoy it, but crave it.

I think I’m actually growing up. 

ThisLoveMJ


When Love Comes Walking In

It’s such an awesome thing; when life has given you a big crap sandwich for a bit, and then you see two people madly in love and you just have to smile and be in awe and think- I remember that. :0 )

In this case, it’s my son, Brian, and his little lady- Mandy Tator Tots:

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And then when I was driving home tonight, and saying, “God, I know you have a great plan for me. It’s painful, it’s hard right now. But I know you have my best interest at heart.”

And then I looked up and saw this!

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“Yeah. I’ve got you, kid,” He said…and smiled.


“My Death Needs to Mean Something”

Those were the words that were found in Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note that was posted on all of her social media accounts shortly after her death. Leelah chose to commit suicide because she felt that the life she was given to live was too painful to bear. Ultimately, she was not allowed to be who she wanted to be.

Leelah Alcorn was born Joshua Alcorn. She was born into a moderately strict religious home in which the gender you are born with is the gender you are expected to die with. Leelah took a great risk sharing her conflicting feelings with her parents as a young teenager. I too am a Christian and come from a tightly-woven Pentecostal family. In families like ours, “gender reassignment surgery” (or the like) would be asking for a one-way ticket to Exile Island where you would be expected to live out the rest of your days with spiritual leprosy as a complete and utter outcast. Sadly, this is the perspective of many Christians today.

Leelah was hoping to find love and acceptance and most importantly understanding when she told her parents that she’d felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body since the age of 4. If your own parents can’t accept you for who you are, then who can? She was shocked and heartbroken to be met with resistance, denial, and total rejection. Her parents told her it was “just a stage she was going through” and that “God doesn’t make mistakes”. They immediately banned Leelah from all social media for the next 5 months, taking away her cellphone and laptop. They also deleted her Facebook account and restricted her social activities to church-related group activities mostly, and when Leelah wasn’t being conditioned in such ways, she was restricted to her bedroom. They also forced her into Christian-based “reparative therapy”, which is, in short, a  “corrective therapy” for homosexuals and and people who identify as transgender.

I couldn’t imagine, as a Christian, somebody forcing me to go to “transgender therapy” where I would be told that I would have to be made into the opposite sex- including sexual reassignment surgery. I can only imagine how Leelah must have felt: She was made to feel like a leper in her own home, school, community, and church.

Leelah pre-scheduled her suicide note to post to her social media outlets following her death with one final request, “Fix Society. Please.” On the early morning of December 28, 2014, she walked four miles in the cold to interstate 71 and at approximately 2:17 a.m., she stepped out into the highway and into the path of a tractor trailer.

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Her family’s rejection of her chosen identity was more than she could bear. It breaks my heart that her mother still lives in denial- still choosing to call her Joshua instead. Even after Leelah’s suicide note had been posted, having begged other parents to never reject their children’s rights- including their right to choose their own gender- her mother posted this message to her Facebook account:

“My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn, went home to Heaven this morning. He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thank you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

They rejected Leelah in life, and they reject her in death. That’s beyond heartbreaking to me.

Jesus’ Words have forever transformed my heart and life. When a group of men had gathered around a woman to stone her (having accused her of adultery)- each having a handful of stones- Jesus looked at them and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

One by one, they all dropped their stones. Jesus said to the woman, “Go thy way and sin no more.” He forgave her and loved her. Completely. One of my friend’s once said something to me that I’ll never forget. She said, “The sound of forgiveness is the sound of a stone dropping.” I love that. And although Leelah’s life choices weren’t a “sin” to her, the fact remains in many religions, a transgender lifestyle is viewed as sinful. I think we should stop expecting other people to “live up to our expectations” but rather deal with our own insufficiencies and our inabilities to accept his or her alternative lifestyle. After all, our lifestyle is “alternative” in their eyes.

I do not “support” suicide, but I most certainly respect any person willing to die for his or her cause. Leelah didn’t commit suicide because she was “so depressed”. Not really. She committed suicide because she felt that she had a cause worth fighting and dying for. Soldiers do that every day. Who’s to say that any person’s cause is more important than another’s?

So for Leelah, I’ll do what I can so that she didn’t die in vain. As a parent, I’ve let my kids know (and they all know this already) that I will support them always– no matter who they choose to be. True love is all-encompassing and non-conditional. If my children choose different genders, religions, whatever- I will love them just the same. It’s not my “job” as their parent to love them, it’s my privilege. I only wish Leelah would have received the same support from her parents. She may have chosen to stick around…

It saddens me that Leelah’s parents are wanting to put Joshua Alcorn on her tombstone, instead of Leelah Alcorn. I have just gone and signed the online petition so that her parents might honor Leelah and give her her chosen name for her tombstone. Already, there are over 200,000 people who have signed the petition. If you too think that Leelah should have the right to her own name on her tombstone, you can go here and sign the petition. I think it’s what Leelah would have wanted.

To any parents out there who may read this and defiantly cling to your strong Christian roots- I admire you. I cling to mine too! But let’s do what Jesus wants us to do above all else, and that is to love others- just as they are; not who you think they need to be:

 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1st John 4: 7-8

” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1st Corinthians 13: 4-7

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

-John 13:34

In memory of Leelah Alcorn (Nov. 15, 1997- Dec. 28, 2014)
Leelah Alcorn

If you’d like to support Leelah’s right to have her name on her tombstone, you can sign this petition (and/or reblog this post).

Thanks for viewing! x


Life is But a Dream

Lately, life has been so good. I’m enjoying my summer break, but am looking forward to going back in just a few more weeks. I can’t believe I’ve been out of school for a month now. I’m in the process of being accepted at WGU Indiana: it’s the only school in the nation with a fully accredited teacher’s program- distance ed- and it’s award winning.

So……I’ll be majoring in Biology in the teacher’s college. (Yes, teacher’s college!) I’m either going to explore the possibilities of becoming an elementary/middle school biology teacher, or using my bachelor’s to begin work on my master’s in biology (again, at the teacher’s level) or work on my master’ in DNA & Serology. Either way, I’ll have a few more years before I’ll need to make that executive decision. For now, I’m content with working solely on the Biology major.

Josh will be going back out of town on business for a few days. We spent the day out at the park (Lapping Park) walking on a trail that we officially claimed as our own. Afterwards, we hit a flea market and picked up some BBQ sauce for our new smoker/grill and Josh bought me some pumpkin coffee (for our Espresso maker) and then hit up a Chinese buffet. I feel like I’ve got ticks crawling all over me so I’m off to hit the shower.

Au Revoir.

Treesmj

 

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