contradictions

I’ve received several heart-warming comments from some of you lately in reference to my blog and just wanted to say “thank you!”  Comments are always, always, always appreciated.  Any of you who have your own blogs know how relieving it feels to be assured you’re doing something right.  I’m grateful that things I say strike a chord with people.  That is one of the reasons I do this. 

One thing I am sure I will never be complimented on, however, is my blog schedule or the timeliness of my posts.  I haven’t written a word here in several weeks!  Part of that is due to a busy schedule with college, but a lot more is due to laziness.  I find myself mulling over what I should blog about, then scratching all my ideas because they aren’t profound enough. Then I realize that trying to be “great” or “profound” is killing my blog.  Striving leads nowhere.  So, I’m going to jump on something rather random today and ask for some feedback.

I attended a lecture on the craft of writing this afternoon.  The lady speaking shared her favorite quote by Walt Whitman. 

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”  ~Whitman

I am not a big fan of poetry, but Whitman’s poetry would rank as some of my favorite.  I feel this quote to be somewhat cocky of Whitman, but I couldn’t help but empathize.  As a writer, I have so many ideas running through my head that it is very hard to keep them all in perspective. 

eye of the beholderSo what do you think?  Is the great Walt Whitman merely speaking of the dichotomy that exists in the human mind…or is he bragging about his own greatness and ability to be above average?  (To get this quote in its context, read “Song of Myself.”)

Thanks in advance for any and all opinions!

Blessings,
Em

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Rent

I saw a production of “Rent” this past weekend.  The theatre department at my school put it on.  WOW, do we have some talent here!  They sounded amazing together.  I came close to crying many times throughout the show.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, Rent is rock musical about a group of friends, most of whom are dying of HIV AIDS.  It follows a year in their life, chronicling their journey with each other and the disease.  Like most modern musicals, it makes you think and reflect.  I watched as one girl pole danced, another started a lesbian relationships, a third watched his gay partner die.  I just wanted to run up on stage, hold each one in my arms and ask “WHY? Why are you doing this to yourselves? Go back home! Go to college! You can have a wonderful, prosperous life.  You don’t need to be rebellious!” 

How tragic that this is very prevalent in American society.  We’ve told people that truth does not exist and whatever feels right to them is the correct path.  We’ve led them straight to their deaths; we should feel intense shame.  Every time you treat someone’s sexual struggle with anything less than empathy and sincere love, you have helped push them down a path you don’t want them to go.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m a firm believer in personal responsibility.  People need to own up to the responsibilities of their actions.  But that includes us.  I’m sick of people pointing a finger at gay communities while failing to examine their own hearts.  

If you have ever prayed for God to break your heart with the things that break His, you should not allow your heart to feel disdain and anger at people who are hurting.  Even if it is of their own doing.  The prodigal son received censure only from his brother.  His father’s arms were held open for the day when the prodigal would return.  

Blessings,
Em

p.s. Here are my two favorite songs from the musical!

Love 146

stop the traffick IIToday is Tuesday.  This is the day I choose to focus on the subject of Human Trafficking here at Footsteps.  There’s really only so much a person can say about Trafficking.  Eventually I just start repeating myself! (If you’re new to Footsteps, and would like to see what I’ve said about this issue in the past, click on the Topics” drop-down on the right sidebar and go to “Human Trafficking” or “Stop the Traffick” or click on the “My Cause” tab at the top of the page.)  One new thing I’ve been doing in regards to Trafficking is watching a plethora of different videos on the subject.  Seeing other people’s emotional works is an inspiration to me.  I’ve found one video that I would like to share with you.  It’s a new organization I stumbled upon.  Their website is Love146.com.  They are an organization specializing in Aftercare and Prevention.  In other words, they train safe houses how to best care for children rescued from sexual exploitation and they speak out about prevention of Human Trafficking. Here is their promotional video.

p.s. Quick reminder: Don’t forget that September 25-27 is prayer weekend for Human Trafficking, set up by the Salvation Army!

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! 

Good in Hollywood?

honest to goodnessI never thought I’d say this, but I am very impressed with Beyonce!  For those of you who haven’t heard about what happened at the VMA awards, watch this video. This is just another story that proves that there still is a lot of good going on in our country!

So why am I impressed with Beyonce?  According to Celebuzz, later on that night Beyonce’s video won Video of the Year (ironically enough).  When she rose to give her acceptance speech, this is what she said:

“Thank you. I remember being 17-years-old, up for my first MTV Award with Destiny’s Child and it was one of the most exciting moments in my life. So I’d like Taylor [Swift] to come out and have her moment.”

Taylor then was able to thank her fans.  I’ve never been very impressed with Hollywood.  They have continually drug down the morality in our society, instead of encouraging our culture and building it up.  But the respect and character that Beyonce showed was amazing and inspiring.  It was what Hollywood needs.  It makes me wish I was a fan of hers (or at least her genre of music).  I want to support her and send a message to hollywood that says “This is what I want to see more of!”  Anyone have any good recommendations of Beyonce songs/albums that would make a good buy?

My list

Yesterday I promised to look for good in my local community as my own personal act of patriotism.  This is my way of telling all America’s 9/11 heroes that the country they sacrificed for has not completely abandoned they values the died under.  I’ve decided to do this simplistically with a bulleted list.  Here is what I witnessed the past week:

America is Good

  • An older-than-average student returning to college after her youngest child moved away from home.  She waited until her mothering responsibilities were over before devoting herself to her newfound dreams. 
  • A friend delivering cookies to her invalid neighbor who is laid  up due to knee surgery.  After spending hours visiting, she bought more food to bring to the sick man later.
  • A religious organization that I have never particularly cared for nor supported invited a “non-churched” friend I know to hang out with them.  They stayed up til 3 am playing card games, then invited her back the next day.
  • A girl willing to work a small job for a family who had formerly gossiped about her “fall from grace” when she became pregnant.
  • A college professor taking time to send me a detailed e-mail when I asked him a question.  His response was full of truth and he refused to skirt around his personal convictions.
  • man who puts up with confusing, complaining and questioning e-mails from myself and others, but diligently searches out very detailed answers that we are seeking despite the vast amounts of research and writing it causes him to do.  This is not his job; he likes helping people so he does this voluntarily!
  • College students studying Early Childhood Education taking young kids to the local Farmer’s Market and the owner teaching those kids what the different vegetables are.
  • A family willing to leave their church (and therefore their friends and comfort zone) when that church openly accepted corruption that they could not, in good conscience, be part of.  This was done despite the fact that moving churches added another 2 hour drive for this family each sunday and they have a young child.

honest to goodnessThis is a short list.  I didn’t spend many hours searching and I know that so much more good remains!  But now I want to hear from you.  What is your list?  What good have YOU seen in your community?  

Blessings,
Em

Never Forget

9-11-attackI was 12 years old when my country experienced the worst attack in its history.  So, not very old, but old enough that I still remember it. I was at home (my mom was homeschooling my brother and I that year) working on math problems, when a friend called and told us to turn on the television.  The first plane had already struck but by the time we turned on the news, I watched the second plane strike on live TV.  As a young child, I watched people–real people, not hollywood characters–die before my eyes.  I will never forget Peter Jennings’ voice relating each fact and revealing the latest announcements.  I will never forget the stark contrast of billowing black smoke against a cloudless blue sky.  I will never forget the screaming, the crying, the swearing, the blood. For several years after, I watched anniversary coverages that highlighted the heroic acts made on that day and was inspired.  Today, I can pick up a history book, point to that section and say, “I remember when that happened.”  I can’t believe 8 years have past!

Now I’m 20. I have watched my beloved country hurt and heal.  I’ve watched the aftermath of 9/11 continue on to this day.  As American citizens, we’re reminded every time we go through security before boarding a plane, every time the news anchor reads off another war casualty, every time we visit a national tourist attraction.  We have scores of families growing up without moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandparents, aunts and uncles.  That hole will remain for the next several generations.  not forget 911

We’ve also had countless struggles surrounding 9/11 that were of our own making:  conspiracy and cover-up theories, the debates on whether the 9/11 movie was too soon and tactless, a long and tiring two-front war that continues to rage and the vast protests surrounding it…Most importantly, however, we’re living with the scary realization that the man responsible for attacking us is, as far as the public knows, still alive and at-large.            

As I pondered these things today, my heart broke.  We always discuss how strong America is and how inspiring she acted on 9/11.  We should discuss this because it is true.  It is also true that we have prevented such an attack from occurring again, despite the near certainty that there were more plots.  Yet even with the assurance of that knowledge and the founding of Homeland Security, I still felt fear today.  And it had nothing to do with Islamic Extremist Terrorists.  We have experience in dealing with enemies.  What I can’t figure out is just how we Americans can protect our country from ourselves. 

911 carry manWho will inspire our children to be moral and upstanding citizens of character?  Who will clean up our media so it no longer trash that glorifies violence?  Who will put an end to materialism? Who will remind us that “politically correct” is far from correct? Who will teach us to stop spending more money than we have?  Who will show us the difference between love and lust? Or between wisdom and knowledge?  Who will remind us that “sacrifice” is something we should do daily?  Its a gift we need to give to the people we love!  These are lessons and priorities that I have learned and that I am reminded of every September 11. 

Glenn Beck has started a program called “The 9/12 Project.”  You don’t have to approve of Glenn Beck to realize that he has something great going on here.  The 9/12 mission statement says this:

This is a non-political movement. The 9-12 Project is designed to bring us all back to the place we were on September 12, 2001. The day after America was attacked we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties. We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created.

That same feeling – that commitment to country is what we are hoping to foster with this idea. We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12th, 2001 again.

9/11 taught us a lot about coming together.  9/12 was a day where you were proud to claim you were an American.  Can you say the same today?  I’m not involved in any way with the 9/12 project, but tomorrow (on 9/12/09) I will talk about the values America used to stand for and whether or not I have seen them at work lately. September 11 was a horrible day that I wish never would have happened.  But it has served as a constant reminder to us.  Each year citizens shout out “Never Forget.”  Just what is it we are refusing to forget?  I think those words are far deeper–and stand for much more–than any of us really realize.

911 lights