Tag Archives: Inspiration

I’ll Stick Around To Remind You

I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus. I’ve been busy loving a teenage boy from where, I don’t know, praying, working on my book, and working on music in the studio. I just finished up the second song, “Heart Of Love.” I don’t know where it’ll be on the album, but I’m just overjoyed at how good it sounds. A lot of love went into this song, on my end, for sure, but I’m convinced, from heaven as well. Ken and I pray before every session, and both of us have been convinced that we’ve had very little to do with this song. Even when the work was barely started, we couldn’t stop ourselves from laughing at how good it sounded.

Last week we finished “Heart Of Love” and started work on a song called “Sunset Sparrow,” which is partly dedicated to my new friend, but also to anyone who is suffering from loneliness or any kind of mental health issue. The first verse ends with a question: “Sunset Sparrow, can you see the city lights, and in the sky beyond, can you see the stars?” The Chorus goes like this: “If your answer’s ‘no,’ I’ll stick around to remind you, the night can’t last forever, and the morning’ll break through.”

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I decided to watch “The Hunger Games.” There’s an interesting conversation in the first movie between President Snow and the guy who designed the game/arena. President Snow questions, “You like an underdog?” The guy responds by saying, “Everyone likes an underdog,” to which the president responds, “I don’t.” My friend reflected, “People don’t actually like underdogs. People like underdog stories.” Truthfully I haven’t thought about it a whole lot, but at the time, she seemed to be right, and I think she probably is.

I have also heard over and over that we live in a cut-throat, survival-of-the-fittest society. Though I have seen beautiful exceptions, I think, for the most part, this is overwhelmingly true, too. This leaves people afraid to reach out to one another in kindness because it leaves them vulnerable. Any show of weakness could mean defeat. I am reminded of the “Good Samaritan” story. Two of the three people who pass the wounded man–the underdog–pass him by. They are more interested in their own survival; the task at hand.

Jesus uses that story in a particular context as a teaching device, but I wonder what the wounded man–the underdog–would have been thinking. I had a very strange conversation with my new friend just a couple of days after we made contact. I asked him how his weekend had gone. His response was not a positive one. I spent two hours trying to convince him that he was lovable, that he was loved, that I don’t abandon my friends, and that I wasn’t going to abandon him. He countered by saying that he was very good at pushing people away, and that we couldn’t possibly really be friends because we had only known each other for two days, and then, it was only over the internet.

I spent the whole two hours inwardly hoping he wouldn’t ask me why I loved him because if he asked me, I don’t think I could have explained. The fact of the matter is, though, that, though I only really know his name and his age and the bare minimum of his personality, I love this kid, even if I can’t articulate a reason. Pope Benedict XVI said, “Only when God accepts me, and I become convinced of this, do I know definitively, it is good that I exist.” Saint Paul said that we can know God loves us because, and I am not quoting directly, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I’ve recently come up with a prayer that I find exceedingly helpful when, in a sense, I have to remind myself of what I believe. “Lord, I’m a mess, but I’m your mess.”

For too long I tried to figure out why God loves me. Of course I know that God is Love, so I can infer that, in some sense, he has to love me. He kind of can’t help it. At the same time, I personally don’t have to exist. He wanted me with all my quirks and talents, and preferences, and what not, to exist. He created me knowing I’d be a mess, but he loves me too much not to have made me. Accepting my own messiness has not been easy. It probably never will be. By messiness, I don’t only mean sinfulness. I’m talking about other things, too, like the leftover insecurity that still occasionally tries to rear its head from when I was a teenager, or even my medical weirdness.

Acknowledging the mess is important, but if anyone only looks at their mess, they’re left with not much more than a bad mood. That’s why the second part of the prayer is important. By saying that I’m His mess, I am reminding myself that I belong to Him. It’s my pledge of loyalty, but also a way to say, “I know you love me, and I love you, too.” In a world where we’re convinced we have to do everything on our own, it’s easy to make the mistake of either not asking for help when we need it, or ignoring those who do need our help.

From talking with my new friend, I’ve discovered a new sense of the idea of tough love: “I’m going to love you whether you like it or not because you need it.” Sometimes unconditional love is uncomfortable. It can sometimes seem entirely idealistic and unrealistic, when, in fact, the opposite is true. The God of the universe who can literally do anything, and never changes, loves each person literally no matter what, even if our actions or words are sometimes not to His liking.

Last night I reflected on the fact that, while praying, I usually call God, “Lord.” That should be no surprise, except that, when Jesus instructed his disciples (i.e. us) to pray, he told us to address God as “Father.” That’s the whole point. God is the most perfect Father we could ever have. Even when we’re being “the actual worst,” He loves us. Sometimes when our loved ones are going through something particularly hard, or they do something particularly detrimental to themselves, another person, or our relationship, it’s tempting to decide, “I can’t deal with you right now,” and then “right now” lasts a long time. God, on the other hand, doesn’t think like that. Unlike humans, God can handle any mess, no matter how big, and nothing we do, and no matter how we feel, we are unconditionally loved.

I wrote “Sunset Sparrow” initially as a promise to my friend from my personal perspective. However, on further reflection, I’ve realized two things. The first is that I have never encountered the kind of deep darkness I’m finding in his soul. Maybe he’s being an overly dramatic teenager, but I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt. Secondly, though, I think the chorus of the song can be addressed to anyone. “I’ll stick around to remind you. The night can’t last forever, and the morning’ll break through.”

My upcoming album is a worship album, but I wanted the songs on it to be a bit less conventional than the usual fare of worship songs. The fact of the matter is, after a while, truth can only be said the same way so many times before it starts sounding like white noise. I hadn’t intended to write a song to reflect God’s faithfulness directly. On the other hand, I have asked Him to give me some words from His perspective that He wanted me to address to someone in particular, or the world in general. I had hoped He would give me something new to say, but no spectacular divine revelation came. Instead, He gave me new words to convey an ancient message: “I am faithful;” in other words, “I’ll stick around to remind you. The night can’t last forever, and the morning’ll break through.”

Advertisements

That’s Life

I’ve been trying for days to write something interesting and profound. I’m obviously trying too hard. This is just a life update because I can’t think of anything else to write.

For various reasons my sleep schedule has been messed up this week. I’ve been trying to get back on track, so far with minimal success. I also haven’t got a lot of work done on my book, though I’m almost done with one of my longer stories, and I really need to finish this one because I’ve come up with a magic system, and I’m using this story as an experiment to see if it works. I find it often helps to figure things out as I go along. It often complicates things, but the project is reasonably organized right now.

It’s been super warm out the past couple of days, which is most excellent. I’ve had terrible cabin fever. Because it’s New England, it basically went from winter to summer in a matter of days. It does that around here. I was just waiting for it. This winter was long. There wasn’t a whole lot of snow, but it was cold for a very long time. My idea of cold is anything below sixty degrees, though.

I’m currently rereading the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I just started the second book. I’m completely addicted. I had read the first book twice, but this is just my second time reading the whole series. It’s partly because of my addiction that I’ve been staying up way too late. I pretty much don’t watch Netflix or anything anymore. Instead I do this. I realized that I love fantasy so much because it takes my mind off the real world. I think too much.

We had a minor setback on the development of hour house in Maine. They guy who was digging the hole for the foundation did some kind of calculation wrong and had to redo it, but apparently it wasn’t a huge deal. Stuff like that is annoying, though. I really have no idea when we’ll be able to at least camp up there. Even if the house isn’t totally finished, it would be good to just have a place to stay when we visit family and such.

We recently learned that both of the priests at my church will be leaving at some point. They’re being reassigned by the diocese. One of them is going to be working full time at a Catholic school in town, and the other is moving to another town. I’m bummed because I like these guys a lot. They’re my friends. Plus, getting used to someone new will just be odd for a little while. I’m still hopeful, though. I was nervous when the priest we have now was assigned to our parish, and it turned out great.

Speaking of Catholic stuff, my cousin was confirmed last weekend. I was, and I guess really still am his sponsor. I don’t want to be too much of a pest, but I want to try and keep him connected to the faith. After I was confirmed, “church stuff” sort dropped off the face of the earth for a while, and I fared the worse for it. I would have been spared a lot of pain had I actually known Jesus back then. My cousin seems more receptive to it than I was at the time, though, so that’s a good thing.

I just finished another mosaic. I’m kind of obsessed with doing them now. I’m not sure what my next one will be. I’m going to wait for inspiration. The one I finished was harder than my others because I was using materials I wasn’t used to. I’m happy with how it turned out, though. Mostly my ideas have been inspired by religious concepts, but I might try and make a mosaic visual of one of the Realms from my book. That might be hard to do because the Realms are kind of an abstract concept in themselves, plus there are a lot of them.

So as you can see, I’m still pretty boring.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Blue Diamond

About a week ago, I went out for breakfast with my mom. The sky was bright blue, the sun was shining, and it was warm. There were some wispy white clouds in the sky that, as I was getting into the car to go home, reminded me of a blue diamond. I didn’t know if blue diamonds were real, and neither did my mom, so we both assumed they were something I made up. I make a lot of things up. The next day, though I looked them up, and it turns out they are real. They can be made from normal diamonds and chemically altered to look blue, but they can also be found naturally with the blue tint. Either way, they are extremely rare, and extremely precious.

On Saturday, my dad and I went wandering around in the woods to look at the foliage. Ironically, there is an amazing red maple tree across the road from our house, but there wasn’t much color to be seen where we went. Still, it was very nice out, and once again, the sun was shining, and the sky was blue. There were a lot of interesting things to be seen where we went. I found the remainder of a tree stump that only had half of it’s outside left, and to me, it looked like a crown. I also found a dead fruit tree of some sort that had a branch and a shoot curving up towards each other like hands. I also hugged a fern because it was exactly the right height, and because I felt like it.

After seeing the blue diamond in the sky, I’ve been referring to happy, blue sky days as blue diamond days. When I was looking at the red maple outside our house, I thought, “I wonder what God was thinking when he made that.” Then it occurred to me that I might know. He was probably thinking something along the lines of, “That’s good.” Then it occurred to me that when he was making me, he was probably thinking, “She’s really good, and she’s going to like this tree.” I was really amazed by that thought. God made that red maple to stick out among all the other trees against a vivid blue sky, and he cares infinitely more about me.

Of course not every day is a blue diamond day. Maybe today the sun is shining, and the sky is blue, and your favorite tree still has all its amazing foliage on it, but you can’t see it past the broken glass in the window of your heart. Or maybe the window is just fine, but the sky is gray, and the leaves are gone and it’s cold outside. The truth is that we have blue diamond days to remind us how precious we are to God. You are God’s blue diamond. You are good. You are loved.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Stop Telling Us We’re Inspirational!

I remember reading a post by a mother a while ago, talking about her disabled child. Basically her post was saying that it annoys her when people say her child is “amazing” because they can do interesting, “normal” things despite their disability. At the time I think I agreed with it because it was well written, etc, but I didn’t really think much about it.

Last night I read a poem by a 16 year old girl who was paralyzed from the chest down. The person who posted it explained how she got paralyzed, etc, and then said how amazing it was that she managed to live a happy, fairly normal life despite her disability.

I have decided that this kind of thinking irks me. I don’t often think about it too much, but I do sometimes get comments about how inspirational I am for doing seemingly standard things. In fact, my dad sometimes gives me the “you’re amazing” talk. Don’t get me wrong, I do think I’m amazing and wonderful, but it’s certainly not because I can manage to be happy. I just like myself.

I have probably mentioned this before, but I’ve been disabled since I was born. I have Muscular Dystrophy, which makes my muscles week, and for some reason I can’t extend my arms or legs all the way. I also have epilepsy, which is mostly taken care of by my medication, but I still get symptoms occasionally. I have pretty terrible eyesight, too. Quite frankly, none of this has ever bothered me too much. I mean, it’s inconvenient in some respects, but I have far more important things to worry about.

I’m not special because I can write coherently or read stories, or critically analyze movies. I’m not special because I’m good at racing games. I’m not special because I’ll get up and sing in front of people. I’m not special because I learned to play guitar upside-down. I’m not special because I’m going to college. I’m certainly not special because I can manage to be happy. I choose to be happy. There’s nothing particularly different or amazing about that. It’s not that hard. Anyone can choose to be happy. It just makes life easier.

Saying that “people like me” are special because we can manage to be happy and functional is actually a bit insulting. It implies that we should pity ourselves and let the world run our lives for us because we have the right to. I have no interest in doing that. I sometimes pity myself. It’s true, but it’s certainly not because I can’t walk. Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t ever been able to get a date and why it’s so difficult to get gigs as a newbie musician. Then I stop worrying about it and move on because worrying solves nothing. And yes, I do complain about some of that stuff on this blog. This is where I do my worrying about it.

We’re just people. Maybe we look a little different and our bodies or our minds work differently, but at our core we’re no different than anyone else. I met a man this past semester who had no arms and no legs. He seemed very nice and I didn’t get to talk to him very much, and it only occurred to me after our conversation had ended that he was somehow driving his wheelchair with no arms or legs. I asked his sister about it because she is a classmate of mine, and she said because he lost his limbs when he was young, he was able to develop muscles in his elbows that most of us don’t use. I thought it was cool because I learned something new. It’s a testament to how adaptable humans in general are. This man was not inspirational to me, however, because he wasn’t trying to be. I liked him because he was friendly and interesting. He was just a normal person to me because I expected him to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad some people can find “people like me” inspirational. They would be wrong, but it doesn’t cause them too much harm. What I would ask is that they keep it to themselves. Be our friends. ask us about what we’re interested in. Argue with us about philosophy. Treat us like you would treat anyone else. Just stop telling us how amazing it is that we’re happy.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Things We Hear And See In Dreams

In the past 3 years or so I have had 3 very important dreams.

The first was in my Freshman year of college. That year I had joined a small group (which has since disbanded), to pray and study the Bible together. One night we read a passage where Jesus says “Don’t be afraid. Follow me.” That very same night after I went to bed I had a dream where I was in the dark and I couldn’t see anything. I wasn’t afraid, but I was lost, and I was trying to find my way out– wherever “out” was. At one point, even though it was pitched black, I saw a faint silhouette appear in front of me. In a man’s voice, the silhouette said, “Don’t be afraid. Follow me, and I’ll lead you out.” I followed him, and eventually we saw a light in the distance. The man then said something along the lines of, “Follow me, and be a bridge for other people to come.”

The second dream happened right around the time my grandfather passed away in November. I’ve already mentioned this in an earlier post, but I’ll go into some more detail here. I should preface this by mentioning that I dream about the same weird city a lot, and something is always going wrong there. I’m always in some sort of peril. Well, this time I was in a suburb of that city. At first I was just playing some sort of game where I had to run around and find things, but then I began to feel feverish and I knew that I was actually looking for something very important, and if I didn’t find it, something very bad would happen. Well, I was running out of time, so I decided to run into the all-night subway station. When I reached the bottom of the stairs that led to the platform, I fell down. A moment later there was a man standing over me. He was young, and very well dressed; in fact, he looked like anyone you might encounter on the street, but I was absolutely terrified of him. He picked me up, and I tried to escape at first, but then realized it was pointless, so I walked along with him up some stairs and into a strange, dingy hallway. Up ahead we saw an open door and heard what sounded like a fight. When we reached the door, we saw that two young men were beating up a girl who looked to be about my age. The young man who was escorting me asked, “Would you like me to spare her life?” I said “Yes, of course.” The young man took a step forward, and suddenly the other two men were gone. He told the other girl to head back to the train station where she would find help. Then I realized something. I looked at my escort right in the face and said, “You’re Death, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” he said.
“And you’re not awful.”
“No, I’m glad you don’t think so.”
“And you’re taking me away.”
“Yes, dear.”
“But… you’re bringing me to God, right?”
“Yes.”
That was when I woke up.

The third dream I had was just a week or two ago. Over winter break I read a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven, which was about a pastor who was in a terrible car accident, and actually died for 90 minutes. The EMT’s said that his heart had stopped. While he was out like that, he saw a piece of heaven and heard wonderful music. Miraculously, another pastor came upon the scene of the crash, climbed into the back of the wrecked car and began praying for him and somehow, his heart started beating again. After I read this book I was jealous. I’ll admit it. I wanted to see a piece of Heaven too. I prayed to God and said, “God, I’d really like to see or at least hear something like that, but if this story is going to be all I get for now, please just help me let that be enough.” A while after that (last week, maybe), I had a dream. Once again I was in complete darkness, except this time I was laying down. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear the most beautiful music ever, and somehow I knew that I was hearing angels. Then the music changed to earthly worship songs, then it changed again to secular love songs, and as this was happening, it began to get lighter, and then I woke up.

I have vivid dreams just about every night. I don’t always remember what happens in them, but I know I have them. Most of them are just insane and don’t make any sense, but sometimes I get these little gifts while I’m asleep and they make me feel awesome for days, if not years on end. I’ve recently decided that everything is awesome; freaking awesome! Yes, bad things happen, but 1) God doesn’t make bad things happen, and 2) it could always be worse. Furthermore, there is nothing that is broken that can’t be fixed, and if we can’t fix it, God can and he will.

I had a thought at first, that maybe these dreams were just coincidence, since many of my dreams have to do with things I’ve recently seen or read or done, but I’ve decided that I no longer believe in coincidence. everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is simply to start something else. We can take things as random, or we can take them as inspiration. I prefer the latter.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!