wise words…

“There is no peace without hope.  No hope without liberty.  No liberty without integrity.  No integrity without virtue.  No virtue without enlightenment.  No enlightenment without truth.”  ~Glenn Beck

Remember this as you go throughout your day.  Make TRUTH your main goal!

Blessings,
Em

p.s. Remember: Character matters!

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New Dreams

Travel writing is a new goal of mine.  My boyfriend mentioned it as a life goal of his once, so I figured… hey, I better get on board with this idea!  Then I took a travel writing class to England and now I’m completely sold.   For a girl my age, I am well-traveled, but the thought of travelling for a living never ocurred to me as a possibility.   I just love home too much.  When I stand before an English meadow, or inside a cave deep in Mexico and think “Gee, I miss the wheat field east of the house,” it becomes pretty obvious where my loyalty lies.  I’m a simple American farmgirl.  Me, a world traveller??  But here was the clincher for me:  I love people.  I am a writer always on the lookout for characters.  People make me laugh; they make me question; they make come alive!  And as (one of) my favorite quote(s) says:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Unknown

What is more exciting than sitting in a foreign pub, deep  in conversation with a complete stranger?  (Well, maybe sky diving?) 

I am a regional writer.  I write about the place I live; its where my passion lies.  Travel writing was a huge stretch for me.  It meant I had to go somewhere unfamiliar and write about that place and do so as if I was a native.  What great practice for a writer.  What a way to educate myself.  Examining new things makes one grow as an individual as well.

Life as  a travel writer would be an adventure.  My life has always been a crazy ride; I welcome the memories.  Life moves and I wish to move with it!  Very few things in life are constant; that was a lesson I learned early in my childhood.  Perhaps this is what I was being prepared for? 

Obviously, I am talking into the future here.  Right now, I am loving home and need to finish school.  And one doesn’t just “become” a travel writer.  I am realistic; I have done my research.  If I am serious about this, it will mean a lot of work and a lot of luck.  But this probably won’t be the last you hear of my new goal.

So now I have recorded it: Emily Grace’s career goal has experienced an addition.  For the first time in ten years, she has altered her goal of being a novelist.  On her way up the ladder to published fiction, she may (if opportunity provides) take a detour on the travel writing rung.

Blessings,
Em

p.s. Remember: Character matters!

melancholy

That is the word that could describe what my mood has been lately.  My favorite definition of the word (from dictionary.com) is “sober thoughtfulness.”  So often we associate melancholy with depression, but they aren’t actually the same thing.  Although I am far from being a depressed person, I do reflect on my life a lot.  I examine the past, question the future, wonder at what might have been.  I pray, I ponder. 

The future is what trips me up the most.  As a writer, I have an overactive imagination that is hard to keep in line.  And as a speed reader, I am used to reading of people’s lives and reaching their conclusions fast.  But real life doesn’t happen that way.  I’m impatiently waiting to see what the next phase in my life-story will hold, and am unable to shake the feelings of uncertainty because I’m not writing this story.  I don’t have control (although, what control I have over the stories that I do write is questionable as well. Many authors will tell you that stories rarely go the way they anticipated.)grain field

Fall is an easy time to have these moments of “sober thoughtfulness.”  As a farmer’s daughter, I am most inspired by harvest (especially grain harvest.) Now that harvest is over and the ground bare, a sad feeling lingers in my gut.  The weather has turned chilly, the wind nippy…and my thoughts more negative and worrisome.  What if I fall in love with a man who isn’t a farmer? What if I never get a book published? What if my career makes me move and leave the family I love so dearly?

After brooding over these things, I slowly come to my own realization: Achieving our dreams doesn’t mean we arrive where we want to be.  It means we allow ourselves to be happy where we are.  Instead of viewing my dreams as specific little things inside my life, I need to acknowledge that it is life itself.  Being denied certain hopes and goals while still having the strength to wear a smile will allow me to lead a fulfilled life.

I don’t recommend being “melancholy” very often.  Keeping yourself in the future or the past (mentally speaking) denies living in the present.  Fulfilled lives… accomplished dreams…those things are done while living right where you are, not meditating where you want to go.  Yet, occasionally, that self-examination and time of sober thoughtfulness is a good thing.  For the first time in my life, I have realized that I can be happy wherever I am.  I don’t have to marry a farmer, I do possess the strength to move far from home, and I am a writer whether or not I ever get published. 

These are freeing realizations.  I can close this period of melancholy in my life with confidence, knowing that it will enable me to live a more fulfilled life in the present.  But what about you?  What periods of sober thoughtfulness are you reflecting on?

Blessings,
Em

Candlelight Reflections

candle flameI attended a funeral last night.  It was a candlelight service held at my college for a girl killed by a drunk driver last weekend.  Although I did not know this girl, she lived in the same dorm that I do and the girls on her dorm floor hosted the service.  I always leave funeral services thinking of myself (not sure if that’s unusual or not) and this one was no different.  I always question if I have lived my life in such a way that, were I the one in the casket, people would be able to sincerely say the same kind words about me that they are saying of the deceased.  Watching a college student die only renewed that vow.  Am I impacting the people in my life?  We’re only one month into the semester.  This girl’s friends and teachers, who were sobbing and sharing fond memories, only had a handful of weeks to get to know this girl.  Yet she still impacted them.  Do I do that?  Do I rub off on people immediately?  There was a professor who shared at last night’s candle light service.  If one of my professors were asked to share their opinion of me, would they say, “She always came to class and turned her assignments in on time” or do I give them more to talk about?  The challenge I am trying to make is to not live the bare minimum.  Don’t just obey the rules.  Be influential! Go the extra mile!  I want my professors to be able to say that I was friendly or joyful or helpful, that I made them laugh or roll their eyes (in a good way.)  Hopefully they can say that I talked with them about issues and left a mark on their lives.  Because if I can impact people as remote from my personal life as my teachers…what will my family, friends and neighbors be able to say?   

The other thing I wanted to discuss about this girl’s accident was her means of death.  I had honestly begun to think that the phase of drunk driving issues was in the past.  So much awareness has been made on the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated that I had begun to see an obvious decline in the number of accidents.  I know a lot of people who are foolish about their alcohol consumption…but they still make sure to call a friend or a cab when its time to leave the bar!  I thought my generation would be battling other evils.  Apparently that is not so.  Due to one man’s reckless choice, a girl’s life was snuffed out much too soon!  I’m so proud of her for living her life to the fullest while she could! 

One Year Later

About this time last year I said this about a memorable horse ride with my aunt and uncle:

It was 8:30 at night, a beautiful sunset. My aunt put Baby Whitney in a stroller and came out and watched. The four of us laughed and talked . . . nothing heavy. He (my uncle) rode, she rode (her first time since having the baby). They took turns slowly pushing the stroller back and forth, because Whitney was fussing a little. We took pictures. . .It was beautiful. Afterwards, I helped my uncle put the horses in. I fed them, brushed them. We talked. All was right with the world. Family. It was the way God intended it to be. No one rushed, just giving each other time, love and beauty.

That story was my way of mourning.  To read the whole thing, click here.  That night riding horse is memorable for me because it was the last time I saw Baby Whitney.  She was a very sick baby and died a couple days later.  Today, the 16th of August, is the first anniversary of her death.  Truthfully, I forgot about that this morning.  I had it in my head that it was the 20th of August, because that was (or was close to) the day of her funeral.  But then, this afternoon, my uncle called and told us to tie up our dog.  We were puzzled until he confessed that he was on his way to visit us…riding horseback!  He and my aunt live just across the field from our place and, though we’ve joked about his just trottin’ over, he has never actually done it.  He came alone (they only have one riding horse, so my aunt couldn’t come.  She’s also pregnant again–due in December–and can’t ride.) 

When we found out my uncle was coming, my brother casually commented, “Isn’t it Whitney’s death date today?”  I looked it up, and he was right.  It was.  My uncle arrived and we all took turns riding horse.  It was the first time any of my family had ridden Bits.  For them, this was fun.  For me, walking Bits along the driveway and eventually picking up to a trot out in our pasture, it was about re-living memories.  It was about a baby who I loved and longed for, but was forced to give up, never allowed to cuddle with her or watch her grow.  It was a way of healing.  We didn’t talk about Whitney at all, but I did ask my uncle how he and my aunt were doing, and he said they were fine.  I’m grateful.  Today was a big day and this horse ride was about healing as much as it was anything else. 

 Me & Bits, 2008, before Whitney's death

                                                                                                                          Me & Bits, 2008, before Whitney’s death

Me & Bits today, one year later

Me & Bits today, one year later

Restful ReflectionsEvery sunday I try to spend some time reflecting and meditating on life.  Today, I learned the exact same lessons I blogged about last year: take time for family.  I truly believe that’s the way the world was meant to run.

Blessings,
Em

friends

Yesterday was a good day.  Why?  Because any day spent with a good friend is.  There are many relationships I have with people that I mistakenly label as “friendships.”  We all have them–people we spend time with because we are obligated to.  We work with them, attend school or church with them, are in similar clubs as them… They’re nice people, but not the individuals we feel comfortable unburdening our hearts to.  Yesterday was not spent with that kind of “friend,” however.  This special girl I am emotionally and spiritually tied to is one of my favorite people on the planet!  We met at a small coffee shop, as has become our habit, and chatted the morning away.  (Going for months without communicating leaves a lot to be discussed!) 

One of those things we discussed was friendship.  She is the same age as I am.  We’re both young girls getting ready to head back to college in a week’s time.  College has a way of stretching a person and forcing you to examine both yourself and your world.  One examination we made left us with a bitter taste: friendships are dying.  Now, I’m not talking about High School friendships.  I was under no illusion of those lasting.  High School peers fall into that “friend-by-obligation” category–you spend time with them because no one else is around!  The examination my friend and I made was different.  We sawthis shift into adulthood that cut ties with the dear confidante’s in a person’s life.  It’s like you get through college (where you rely on friendships to make it through) and then go out into the world alone.  Humans are so dedicated to their busy schedule that coffee-shop mornings with an old pal are nonexistant.  Tearful confessions and compassionate hugs are traded for rushing up the corporate-ladder and driving our kids to soccer games.  This can’t be good!  Because when your mid-life crisis hits (which I’m only recently starting to believe exist as I observe people around me) you really do think you’re alone. 

My husband is the only man who watches TV more than he talks to me. 
My wife is the only woman who gained weight and got moody as she aged.  
I am the only person whose temper is running on a shorter fuse each year.
 

And what happens then?  Divorce? Depression? Drugs? Job loss? 

My friend and I committed to maintaining our friendship for life and at all costs!  We figure that, no matter what paths life may take each of us on, (and believe me–we’re both dreaming big in two very separate directions!) we’ll always need the other in some way. 

“Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.”
– Elbert Hubard

Do you keep a close friend or two by your side?  What commitments do you make with each other?

anxiety

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~Philippians 4:6

Someone needs to tell Paul, the author of Philippians, that this is easier said than done!  I know that I shouldn’t be anxious, yet, last night and into today, I have found that I am.  Normally, I am a very even-tempered person.  I don’t let most issues faze me.  There are only two topics I know of that will get me worked up: religion and my family.  Right now, I’m dealing with the latter.

My cousin just recently left for Basic Training in the Army National Guard.  We have received word, however, that he has failed his hearing tests and may be medically discharged.  Apparently, the Guard was leaving the option to him.  This morning they were to have a meeting where they gave him alternative options where he could work inside the Guard, just not the area he’d signed up for…if he didn’t like the options, he’d be sent home.  The meeting was at 6 AM in my time-zone at home.  Last week my alarm clock broke, and I fervently wished for it last night.  I wanted to wake up and pray for him while he was at the meeting.

God is amazing. 

I just happened to wake up in the wee hours of the morning, for no apparent reason (something I am not in the habit of doing.)  Not having a clock, I can’t prove that it was 6 AM, but I knew that, whatever time it was, it was when my cousin needed prayer the most.  You see, this isn’t just about a minor setback in life and a lesson-learned by a young boy fresh out of High School.  It’s about the only future plan my cousin has being stripped from him.  Maybe its a guy thing, but he never made a “plan B”.  Once he signed up for the guard, that was it.  He has nothing to come home to: no school options, no career options…he’ll have to start back at the beginning and plan again.  Its also more than that.  I know my cousin.  In his eyes, this is failure.  He couldn’t succeed, he didn’t make the cut…he wasn’t good enough.  And even beyond that is the scary news that he now has a hearing problem.  His hearing was just fine last I saw him, but from the reports we’ve been getting, it’s not “fine” anymore.  Somewhere between my last visit with him and arriving on Base in Georgia, the boy’s hearing finally went out the window!  However it had been abused over the years, it finally snapped at the most inopportune moment in his life.  So what does this mean for him?  Will he need surgery, a hearing aid?  This is a disability he will have for life!  And how will that affect his job options in the future?  For an 18 year old to stop hearing normal sounds is very scary.  I can’t imagine the fear and shock raging through his body right now!

I know lessons can be learned from this.  I know God always has a plan that is even better than our dreams.  What I don’t know is what decision an 18-year-old boy made at 6 AM this morning and whether he was able to show uncharacteristic wisdom in making a decision that will affect years of his future. 

Anxiously,
Emily Grace