16 April, 2015

Grand Canyon Beauty

My husband and I took a road trip through the Grand Canyon over the weekend. It was remarkable. I have never been. The color, the grandeur, the vistas and views - it was breathtaking. 

We got to see the sunrise (twice) and enjoy a sunset. We hiked along the rim, drove out to the tower and took our time coming back. 




As we traveled, a song kept playing in my head. I posted the lyrics on my Facebook, but the entire song is worth a listen:




"Hey, Jamie, do you see I'm broken by this majesty. So much glory in so little time. So turn off the radio, let's listen to the songs we know all praise to Him who reigns on high

And I don't believe that I believed in You as deeply as today. I reckon what I'm saying is there's nothing more, nothing more to say.

And the mountains sing Your glory hallelujah. The canyons echo sweet amazing grace. My spirit sails, the mighty gales are bellowing Your name and I've got nothing to say. No, I've got nothing to say

Glory, glory hallelujah..." 



Has anything ever left you breathless and inspired? 

07 April, 2015

The Canyon

Here is my entry from the March 27th's Creative Prompt:

He sat on the bar overlooking the scenery. He had finally made it there. Six months late, but he had finally fulfilled her wish to come to the canyon.

The canyon – she had been obsessed with it for as long as he could remember. Their families weren’t rich and could not afford the trip. But she knew everything about it. She knew its depth, its length, the space between the ridges. She used to go on about the wildlife and the best time to go.

She knew that too – the best time to go. She always talked about how they would go there in the fall and watch the sun hit the golden leaves on the other side.

Somehow without ever seeing it she had described it perfectly.

They were married after college. He took a job the next town over and they moved. They realized money was going to be tight, but they hung a poster and started a fund to get to the canyon.

Then she got sick. It came without warning, a cold that didn’t feel right.

Tests, injections, medications… More tests. He hated the smell of hospitals. He hated waiting. He hated how every waiting area had a TV on or that people could go about their day as if it was normal.

Normal – what did that word mean?

She died less than a year later. The fund was spent to pay for her funeral. At 31, he was alone.

Unwilling to get lost in the memories, he looked over the scene again. He tried to take it all in. Tried to take in the details she had told him about. He had finally made it.

Sliding his pack from his shoulders he removed the urn. He had talked to it the entire trip, on the train ride, in the hotel room, on the hike up there. It felt silly but it also brought finality.

“We made it Elly,” he said. Opening the urn he turned it to the wind. The warm breeze hit his face, carrying his wife with it. “We made it,” he said again.

Looking to the sun on the other side of the canyon he couldn’t help but notice the colors were somehow dimmer then they had been a moment before.



01 April, 2015

Journaling Guideposts

Today we continue our series on journal ideas and tips. You can find my previous entries in the series here.

One good thing to do every once in a while is stop and reflect. Reading over the Bible, I have come to see the importance of markers. Guideposts that remind us of key events, where we have come from and what is important.

In Genesis these were literal shrines in the desert to commemorate a key encounter with God or a pivotal moment. They always had a scared name and it was to be a reminder of all who came by what happened there.

In journaling we can do this by simple reflection. Every once in a while, I like to stop and think about where I was a year - 5 - 10 years ago.

I've been reaching out to some old friends, so where I was is at the forefront of my mind.

I took paper from my Joyful Things journal and wrote the intervals I wanted to remember.




Then I went back and filled in the gaps.



Now I am a huge picture-taker. I try to get a photo a day. So I went back into my library to see what I could find. These are shots from three of the moments.




As I sat and thought about these times, I realized they are times of transition and that throughout them God used music to keep me focused. I took out a tag and wrote about this, and added it in the center of my two pages.


Music is another kind of guidepost. I can remember days in Rwanda, sitting on the porch, hands over my ear buds, Sara Groves blasting - a reminder that God was with me and the isolation would not destroy me.

Or in DC when I would stand on the rooftop, look at the Capitol dome and feel God says I was home. During that time was a lot of Bebo Norman and Andrew Peterson music.

Before my wedding, a time of joy and some hurt. The nervousness of joining my life to another, the realization that planning my "big day" did not have to be stressful and it was one day in the course of my life with D. We played JJ Heller's Tonight at our wedding, so she filled that time of anticipation and happiness.

Then last summer, choosing to lay down DC again. Choosing to buy a home with room for D's son and stay in CO a while longer. It was mixed emotion - contentment and a bit of loss. Back to Groves, Heller, and others.

I can mark my journey through music. Songs bring up a time in my life and a moment in time. I will forever associate some music with certain moments.






 
Guideposts can come in different forms and imprint in our lives differently. But whatever they are - capture them, write them down, remember. Then when things get cloudy, when days are bad, when life feels unaccomplished. Look back on where you've come from and realize how far you are now.


What are some key guideposts in your life?

30 March, 2015

Someone Else's Headline



Happy Monday!

Today we are going to discuss a very relevant and important topic: cyber-bullying and harassment.

NCAA Madness

A couple weeks ago Ashley Judd set off a firestorm on Twitter by posting her opinion. For doing so she was met with threats against her life, her womanhood, and her safety.

For some reason, people think it is okay to tell a woman that you are going to rape her in a dark alley or beat her for because she stated her opinion. It is “okay” to write horrible, graphic intentions against another human being online for simply stating what they think.

And what was Judd posting about: an NCAA Conference basketball game.

Not world news, a controversial trail or new bill. She was not speaking out against sexism in an industry or taking a stand for women’s rights in India. Judd was simply reacting to a sporting event. And for that she got threats against her life.

Unfortunately Judd is not alone.

Lewinsky Speaks Out

Monica Lewinsky recently spoke at a TED conference about cyber-bullying and online harassment. She spoke about the culture of harassment and cruelty we let hide behind, “freedom of speech.” “We need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of expression,” Lewinsky said. If you haven’t watched her talk, it is well worth the time.

Gamer Anita Sarkeesian has been speaking out against the sexism in the gaming industry and has received death threats for it. Things got so bad that Sarkeesian had to cancel a speaking engagement in Utah

Time to Take a Stand

Women every day are told they are going to be attacked in an ally, beaten into submission, have physical violence done to them because they have an opinion.

Online sexual harassment is disgusting and far too pervasive. And until now there is almost nothing that can be done against online bullying.

But as Judd said, “I knew it was a crime. It was time to call the police, and to say to the Twittersphere, no more.”

If someone said these things in a public place, or in a letter, there is recourse. But because it is done from a computer screen, victims are expected just to take it. It’s not right.

In her talk, Lewinsky mentions Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after his time with another man went viral.

Rebecca Sedwick jumped from a building after bullies followed her online and told her to kill herself. 


"Public Humiliation as a Blood Sport" 

In her Ted Talk, Lewinsky said, “Public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop, and it's time for an intervention on the Internet and in our culture."

We have let our words becoming meaningless and we have let them become repercussion-less.

Men need to be held accountable for the threats of violence and death they make against women.

Teens need to be held accountable for bullying others online.

If you cannot say it in real life, you should not be able to say it online. 

The facade of the protection of the screen needs to end. 

Like the Wizard in Oz, it's time to expose those speaking nothing but hatred and evil to other human beings online.




This is something I am passionate about. I do not understand how we have allowed cruelty and threating behavior to become so pervasive. What is at the heart of this? Again, I turn to Lewinsky:

A marketplace has emerged where public humiliation is a commodity and shame is an industry. How is the money made? Clicks. The more shame, the more clicks. The more clicks, the more advertising dollars. We're in a dangerous cycle. The more we click on this kind of gossip, the more numb we get to the human lives behind it, and the more numb we get, the more we click. All the while, someone is making money off of the back of someone else's suffering. With every click, we make a choice. The more we saturate our culture with public shaming, the more accepted it is, the more we will see behavior like cyberbullying, trolling, some forms of hacking, and online harassment. Why? Because they all have humiliation at their cores. This behavior is a symptom of the culture we've created. Just think about it. (link)

Enough!

A person bullied, threatened, abused online should have the protections of someone bullied, threatened, abused in real life. If you cannot make bodily threats in a public square, why can you make them online (arguably the largest public square ever)?

It’s time for action. It’s time for a shift in cultural acceptance of public shaming. This sensationalized love of other people’s suffering has to end.

As Lewinsky said: Just imagine walking a mile in someone else's headline.


What do you think can be done to stop cyber-bullying? Have you ever been a victim? 


27 March, 2015

Friday Prompt: Man on the Ridge

 
 
The Rules:
1. Set a timer for five minutes
2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write. 
3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.
4. Save what you write
 
Pete Rojwongsuriya and BucketListly
 

26 March, 2015

Cancer Will Not Win


Our family took a hard hit recently. My oldest step-daughter (24) was diagnosed with a tumor in her brain. It's an aggressive, inoperable, incurable cancer. 

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last month. Cancer is not something my husband or I are strangers to.

My nephew beat cancer at the age of three. It was 17 years ago, but I still remember the sound of his crying after the bone marrow operation. His puking at night after the chemo. His cute bald head, happy disposition, and how he just had this resiliency that I think only children possess. I also live in wonder if some of the health issues he has now are not related to the chemicals pumped into his body to save him. Cured does not mean unaffected.

 


My husband's oldest son died from a long, drawn out battle with cancer that began when he was little and came and went until everything had been tried and he passed away at 17. 

Five years ago I lost my grandmother to a brain tumor. She was 88 and declined treatment. She didn't want the side-effects. She had lived an incredible life and wanted to get to heaven. I can't blame her. Still it was hard to see her deteriorate. It was hard to watch this spunky, resilient, bold woman become a shell of who she had been. 


But that doesn't prepare you for this. Nothing does. Nothing prepares you to hear the words (again) that someone you love is about to undergo chemo and radiation. Someone you love has a disease that is vile and destructive. As a parent (a step-parent) there is nothing you can do.

Faith Unshaken

I was driving to see my husband the other day and got thinking about all of this. I tried to reconcile it but realized the questions people throw out at a time like this did not resonate with me.

I don't doubt God's goodness or that He is in control. I don't ask why He "allowed" this to happen. I don't blame him. I'm not angry. 

See my God is strong, powerful, good. My God is who He is 100% of the time. So He cannot be any less loving, awesome, praiseworthy or gracious than He was before we heard the word cancer.

My faith is not on shifting sand. It does not ebb and flow based on my circumstances. I can cry out, pray for healing, pray for grace and strength for all those involved, but that does not mean I question, am mad or have unbelief.

My God is good all of the time. All of the time my God is good. He will be our compass, our strength, our endurance, our grace. Cancer does not define us. Cancer will not have the last word.

25 March, 2015

Kara Tippetts and Legacy

Today we continue our series on journal ideas and tips. You can find my previous entries in the series here.

Have you ever thought about your legacy?

As a culture, we don’t like to think about death. We avoid aging and find it difficult to talk about what comes after. But our days are limited. We are given but a brief moment here.

What do you use to define yourself?

When it is all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?

Kara Tippetts passed away this week. Kara has been open and vulnerable as she battled breast cancer. Her grace, love and faith has inspired many (including me).

This is not a journal activity, but a prompt.

Take a moment to think about legacy

What do you want people to say about you after you die? It’s not morbid. In fact, considering how you want to be remembered can lead you to live a more intentional life.

It is often said that money cannot buy happiness. People will not know you’re income at your death – so why pursue it? The big house will be sold. The possessions given away. The car will be driven by someone else. And yet this is what we as a society choose to promote.

I want my legacy to be one of adding to the beauty.

I want people to say I was loving and kind and pushed them to be better. I want to add to the beauty – to show God’s love, to brighten up the world. I want to speak truth into darkened places. I want to bring life and light.

Mostly, I want people to say I was sold out to God and for that reason helped others find Him more authentically. Whether in my writing, this blog, my interactions, my focus– I want to add to His beauty in a genuine way.



So here is your journal prompt:



 
© Amanda Lunday