Monthly Archives: March 2011

Space travel and nude beaches

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I am on day two of my vacation adventures, I saw and went to places that I have never been for now.  Because we were unable to check into our condo until one, the family I am traveling with decided to see the sites and do some exploring.

All the way down there, we had joked about nude beaches. And that’s exactly what I thought it was: a joke. Yet when we arrived at the Titusville Old Beach today, I discovered that it was real.

When we got to the gate that would let us down the highway to see the wildlife preserve and the beach, the guard in the guard shack told us the first ten parking lots were fine. However if we ventured down to parking lots 11-13, we might see something we didn’t want to see.

It took us awhile to get to any beach though. There was lots of wildlife, and I even saw a gator. We tried to look for manatees, but they never surfaced.

On our way to the beach, the man in the guard shack also told us to look for the Shuttle Endeavor.

April 1 was the original day it would be lifting off for the last time, and I think the family I was with was going to go see it.

The date got changed though to April 19. We did see it from far away on the launchpad though.

After some time, we decided to park at the tenth parking lot. We enjoyed what little sunshine there was on this cloudy day in Florida.

And that is when we wondered all the way to the 11 parking lot where the supposed naked people were.

I guess because it was such a mild day, the nude bathers decided to stay inside because I didn’t even see a single person down that way.

Either that or they decided they might want to wear clothes today. I went to a nude beach today, but I kept my clothes on.

Six years ago today

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I can’t believe it has actually been six years. Six years that Renee has not been here. Six years feels more like an eternity.

It truly has been six years to the day this very  Sunday. A Sunday I will never forget for the rest of my life.

I remember it vividly. I was in the sixth grade, and the day was not normal by any means. Easter came early that year, and so it fell on this day, March 27. It was also one of my friends 13th birthday.

March 27 also marked the day I got baptized and was the first time I can even remember my brother ever coming to church.

I don’t even remember if I saw Renee that Sunday. She rarely ever came to early service, and that was the service my family and I always went to.

However, that Sunday she and her boyfriend were there for first service. In fact they sat directly in the pew behind my parents. I wish I had remembered seeing her.

Easter came and went that with all it festivities. It stormed that entire afternoon, and I remember my dad didn’t want to go to night service, so we decided not to go.

I remember reading a book in bed when my mom came in my room. Her face was very reserved, and she had her cell phone in hand.

“Renee was in a very bad wreck on her way to church,” she said. “I am not sure she is going to make it or not.”

I just stared at her. Renee couldn’t die I thought. She was only less than two minutes until she would have arrived at church. How could this happen? No. This just couldn’t be. Not to Renee.

She was my pal. At the time she was a senior in high school, so I most definitely looked up to her. She always sat with me when I waited on my mom and dad, and she always made time to talk to me.

We always talked about her playing volleyball or softball since that was the sport I played.  And, she would always tell me how bad her in-grown toe nails hurt every time she played volleyball. I am not sure why I remember that strange fact, but I do.

Renee had seizures though, and she explained it to me in terms a sixth grader could understand. She always put herself down on my level, and I guess that is why I liked her so well.

Not fifteen minutes later my mom came back in my room; her face was softened. She sat on the right hand side of my bed and gently took my book out of my hands.

“Renee has died,” she said.

I was shocked. I didn’t cry though or not immediately. This was the first person that had ever passed away in my life that wasn’t old or expected to die. It was complete smack  in the face. I did eventually cry at some point, but I am not sure when.

Her funeral followed a few days afterward. It was so strange. I remember being checked out of school to go to her funeral and what the weather was like outside. I remember everything precisely down to the flower arrangements and where a friend and I sat.

Six years ago, Renee died. However, I know where she is, and I will see her again. I know her life made an impact. She impacted my life by simply taking the time to talk to a little sixth grader like me. She impacted one of my very best friends life with her death by making her realize she needed Jesus.

She probably impacted more lives at her school and with her friends.

God blessed me by putting a kindhearted soul like her in my life. She was a blessing to all of those around her. I will always remember Renee and March 27. It is a day in my life that will never be forgotten.

Falling Down 101

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Recently, I learned that I can sit myself into the bottom of the filing cabinet. The filing cabinet even tried to file me as the bottom drawer started rolling to a close.

However, I just didn’t decide to see if I can fit in a filing cabinet. No, I tripped or rather tripped over backwards and landed in the bottom drawer.

As I was reaching for a camera battery and memory card that was slightly out of my reach, and I tripped over backwards. The camera went flying and so did the battery.

Neither the camera nor the battery were damaged during such an incident, but my backside sure did hurt. Of course it had to be in front of people, but it was at least people that I know who love me.

Friday afternoon was a complete disaster of an afternoon as nothing was working out the way I wanted it.

I fall a lot of the time especially when I am stressed, and Friday was one of those days. My filing cabinet fall wasn’t the only one of the day either.

As I was scrambling to the board to erase something, I tripped on a tub of papers on the way back to my computer face first.

Most of the time I bounce right back up or I always try to anyways. Well, I didn’t bounce right up that one time I fell into the recycling bin. There was no bouncing out of the recycling bin. That actually required getting up slowly since I wedged myself into a small orange box full of papers.

However, we fall down. I fell down in life Friday too along with literally falling on my face. To say we are too balanced to fall down would not be true.

Everyone falls down in different ways though. Sometimes we might be the most balanced person in the world when it comes to walking, but behind the mask we hide behind everyday, we are unbalanced emotionally.  When we are unbalanced, we fall whether it be with our emotions, relationships, or literally.

It doesn’t matter how we fall; it matters how we get back up. Life is hard. There is not doubt about that. Edmund Vance Cooke says it best in his first stanza of his poem “How Did You Die?”

“Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it.
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?”

Point is we are going to fall. We are going to get hurt. We might hurt so much our heart aches, and it just snowballs into even more problems. Our problems are bound to make us incredibly sad or so angry that it can’t be contained. Our attitudes mean everything, though. No one is entitled to a terrible attitude no matter what.

But no matter the problem, it is always going to revolve with how you take it.

If I didn’t get back every time I fell or landed in a filing cabinet or a recycling box, I wouldn’t learn anything. We are going to fall down. It’s what we learn from getting back up that matters.


The Wall

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In my room there is one place where I am not organized. Where I just let myself go and  be as creative as I want. This one place is my wall.

Like Pink Floyd kept putting another brick in the wall, I do the same with mine. Okay, I don’t place bricks. I place the items I treasure most. The items that I have accumulated over the last four years.

I try to stay as structured and as organized as possible usually. Some people think I am just over anal, but I guess that is just who I am. I love organization and everything surrounding it.

While I try not organize my wall at all, some things just land in the same corner. Rick Bragg is in my corner. Since my freshman year of high school, I have read all Rick Bragg items I can get my hands on. I think he is one of the most amazing writers, and I love the way he is able to tangle words with emotions and tug my heartstrings. That is the sign of a real writer, and he inspires me. I guess since he inspires me, he get’s a corner all to himself. I can’t tack his books to my wall, but I sure can tack up his magazine articles. He just recently started writing in Southern Living and will continue, so I am sure my corner will just continue to grow with the more articles he writes.

Everything else though is generally scattered, and I like it that way. Whether it is my latest art project or something I have doodled, I place anything on my wall. I have cards that special people in my life have given and my first Starbucks cup. I have Vacation Bible School decorations  ranging from a black sheep to a koala bear. I even have a small plate where one of my favorite little kids traced his hand, and gave it to me. I have notes from my freshman year that some of my best friends gave me, and I even found a letter from the summer before my freshman year started from a special friend. My wall contains many memories.

But through all the pictures and cards, I have awards from organizations I have participated in. The majority of them are from my years of newspaper. Whether it be the real awards from the Tennessee High School Press Association or the ones that we receive at the end of the year, my wall is covered in them. They are not all in one place though and I have spread them out across the wall. I have every single one of them and I plan to always treasure them.

Aside from awards though, I have every wristband from every church conference I have ever attended. YEC and the Strength to Stand conference arm bands hang on my wall. In fact every arm band I have ever worn from a concert or camp is on my wall too. They each have a special meaning believe it or not, and a special memory. They were sort of like small stepping stones and milestones each year I have been in high school.

I can place everything important on my wall if I want, but everything on there will always be layered. My wall is the just surface to who I truly am.

If someone were to just walk in my room who didn’t know me, they might have a perception. A perception that doesn’t necessarily define me.

People have layers too, and they have walls. Walls built around their hearts, and walls they believe will keep them safe.

I don’t disagree, but then again I do. I have walls and several layers to who I am.  I have surface just like everyone else. I try not keep everything inside though. I enjoy letting some things out and letting people see who I am the best I can.

That is what I do with my wall. I express myself and maybe I even learn a little bit about myself.

Reflections

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Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them. ~Marcel Proust

It is so strange to think that in the past four years of high school I have changed into the person I am now. I was reading through all my old Facebook and MySpace messages and journals the other day and cringed.

After reading all of that I couldn’t help but be thankful I am still not like who I once was. It wasn’t a pretty picture to look at by any means. I am not the same.

Change is inevitable, and I will keep changing I am sure the older I get.  But I forget that I am not the only one changing. As time goes on, the people I interact with or have interacted with are changing too.

A couple of days I saw someone whom I had not seen in a year to a year in half. I used to be extremely close with this person. To spare all the ugliness, I am just going to say we went our separate ways. This didn’t exactly end well.

My first thought when I saw this person was to run and run very fast. My stomach curled, and I wanted to dissolve into the ground. I felt like a sitting duck just waiting to be shot down.

However, this duck swallowed her fear to go and talk. The little voice inside of my head wasn’t going to let me not say anything. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

We passed pleasantries. Nothing bad took place. I escaped with all my feathers so to speak.

I felt uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. My mind was racing, and all I could think of was the terrible memories that I will forever have.

I shouldn’t have felt uncomfortable, though. Because just like I am not the same person I was three years ago, neither was the person I ran into. That person has changed, and thankfully I can sense it’s for the better.

We have to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Everyone deserves a second chance even the ones who have hurt us the most.

That doesn’t mean that some don’t leave an imprint on our heart because they do and always will. I have some footprints on my heart. Footprints that I wish had never ever treaded on my heart.

More than likely, we will see the people that hurt us for who they used to be.

Everyone changes at some point and not everyone stays the same. More importantly, everyone deserves a chance to redeem themselves.

God gives us grace and we don’t deserve it. We should at least make an effort to give others grace too. No one is perfect.

I hope the next time I see that person I have a better mindset.

I hope I see the good and the changes that have been made. I hope see that person for who they truly are now.

So this is what it feels like?

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Success is the strangest feeling to me especially since I am a perfectionist. Perfectionists are never truly satisfied, and they rarely think whatever they have done is good enough. That changed today though.

I am happy, proud, joyful, ecstatic. There are not enough positive words in the world to convey how I feel right now.

Today was the 2011 Tennessee High School Press Association awards day. This would be my last time to ever attend since I am a senior.

It meant an immense amount to me since I am the editor of the paper that was being judged for competition. I was on huge emotional roller coaster  the minute I sat down in my seat. I came expecting the worst.

I prayed about this day for a long time. Maybe you think that is selfish. However, this competition just meant a lot to me. I wanted to do so well because writing is what matters most to me. I did not want to fail or disappoint anyone.

Until I stepped into Lipscomb’s auditorium, I had felt this uncanny peace. Generally, I am nervous about something like this days in advance. You know that nervous. The nervous the grips your stomach because all the butterflies in there hatched out of their cocoon.Yeah, that’s the kind of nervous I usually am.

Yet, I didn’t ever feel nervous. I was just anxious. Anxious every time they called out a different category for our newspaper medium. It was hard to sit there and wait.

I watched as other members from our staff got individual awards which made the waiting much easier. It was fun to watch some of their facial expressions and cheer them on. After all, they worked hard too and they deserved to have their talent recognized.

After what felt like a small eternity, the ceremony finally drew to a close. Our award was last which made it even more painstaking to sit there. I must have slid almost to the floor in the chair I was sitting in by the time the reached the top three. I was about to implode.

Before they called out first place, I was about ready to cry. If they didn’t call us out, it meant I would failed at the thing that matters to me the most.

However, I didn’t cry. Well, I almost did. I almost burst out into this huge mess of tear because we won. The EDGE was named the 2011 Best Overall Newspaper in Tennessee. I almost combusted.

All of the deadlines and staying late after school finally paid off. All of the printing fiascoes finally paid off. All of the stress, worry, and hectic days finally paid. The hard work all of us put into this newspaper finally paid off. And it showed we were number one. 

God blessed me with this newspaper, and He certainly didn’t have to at all. He blessed me with a wonderful staff and an awesome adviser. Most importantly, he blessed with the opportunity to just be apart of this for the past four years of high school.

Even though hours have passed since we were awarded this, I am still happy. I am just simply thankful that this happened.

Success feels different, and it actually feels weird. I get to share my success though, and I couldn’t think of 18 other people I would rather share it with.

Oh snap

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If there is anything that I might possibly love as much as I love writing, it would be photography. I love being able to capture the moment.

Last night I went to the OVC semi-final basketball game. It was intense to say the least between Tennessee Tech and Murray State, and I got to participate in the youth media challenge they hosted. It was interesting.

My part of the media challenge was to take pictures. So, my Canon Rebel and I went to Municipal Auditorium to handle the job.

When I arrived they gave the participants media passes. Media passes I thought. Oh the places I could quite possibly go with this little piece of laminated plastic hanging from neck. I refrained, though. I didn’t want to get in trouble the first half hour I was there.

After all the pre-game hoopla, I finally got to do what I was there to do: take pictures. The game clock started ticking, and I hopped out of my seat and went searching for a place to be. I did not want to encroach on any legitimate photographers territory.

However, I got tired of standing in the little corner near the Tech cheerleaders, and I certainly was not going to go over where the other eight photographers from my media challenge group were standing.

So, off I ventured to the other side of the court. It was a much better angle and less crowded, not to mention there was one spot still left on the baseline where all the other photographers and video people were sitting.

I made myself right at home and acted like I knew what I was doing. The guy beside me welcomed me to sit by him on the floor, and I did for the rest of evening.

The angles and shots I got were amazing to me. I was on a photographers high once the game was all said and done. However, not every shot I took was picture perfect.

There is so much more than pointing and shooting with sports photography, or so I have learned after taking pictures of almost every high school sport.

Everything has to be just right. The lighting, aperture, and setting.

At some points I even got frustrated. Sometimes, I snapped way to soon missing the moment I wish I could have gotten, and other times I was too late and ended getting blurry blobs of huge guys on my camera screen.

Snapping away with all these pictures sort of reminded of my relationship with God. Just like I snap away too fast, I find myself being anxious especially about college. I want to know, and I want to know now.

Other times, I just sit back and wait. And wait so long that I miss the opportunity that was right in front of my nose.

The cool thing about it is, God always gives a second chance. A time for me to redeem myself. I am going to mess up. I will probably get to impatient at times, and I know I will probably be blind to some opportunity that comes my way.

But it’s okay. Just like my camera, I can always snap away again, and I hope I am able to catch the right moment.