Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I love music. I am not a musically talented person, but I absolutely love listening to good music. One of the things I love most about music is that it expresses certain feelings in such a way that the person listening to it can feel as if they themselves are expressing those emotions. When I sing along to a love song, I feel as though I am in love, and when I listen to a song that praises God, I praise him too.
By playing certain songs, I can improve my mood. If I ever feel sad, I play "Better Days" by Dar Williams or "Tomorrow is Gonna Be Better" by Joshua Radin, and I feel more optimistic. When I start to feel depressed and like I can't make myself do anything, but I have things that I have to do, I listen to the right music and am capable again.
I find religious songs incredible because at times when I feel close to God, I feel something warm in my heart, but cannot express it. Music gives me words in a beautiful form that I would not have been able to create myself. Truthfully, music taught me how to pray. I cannot turn my prayers into songs, but I feel like I know better what words go together to form prayers because my favorite praise songs taught me.
My God, you are Lord of the Whole Universe. You are Creator of the Whole Universe. You sang the world into being, and all songs that we sing exist because You gave us the words and You inspired us to put them to song. Thank You for music, because it gives me another way to worship You. May all of Your creations be able to sing for You during our worship.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
This is my mother. Isn't she beautiful? I love her so much.
I was thinking earlier about how incredible it is that when someone becomes a parent, they create an entirely new identity for themselves. That person as a parent is completely different from the same person as a friend or a sibling. My parents each became completely new people for me.
My mother is an incredible person. I rarely see her angry, and I also rarely see her put herself before others. How she manages to be a wonderful mother two four children, and be a great wife to my Dada, and work a full time job all at once, I do not know. I do know that it is hard for her. I know that she often feels that she is not good enough at doing these things. However, it is her headaches that truly make it difficult for her. I would bet anyone that if that constant headache of hers went away for good, she would have no trouble accomplishing anything that she put her mind to.
My poor mother spend almost all of her day taking myself and my sisters out to enjoy ourselves. She had fun, too, but I can tell you for sure that she did not want to spend all of her day without thinking of herself. Yet she does that every day without complaint, and, sometimes, without receiving any outward form of gratitude.
My poor mother was on the verge of tears earlier tonight, simply because her head hurt that bad. My beautiful mother is constantly in pain. How can that be what she deserves for being the best mother a girl could ever want?
Today I have a request to any who may be reading this. Please pray for my beautiful mother. Pray that her pain will go away or at least ease some. Pray that she will no longer have to force herself to smile and bear it when all she wants is to be in the dark and to try to sleep away the pain. No one, least of all her, should have to bear that.
Dear Lord, there is not a day that I am not grateful for my beautiful, incredible, sweet mother. I love her dearly and I only wish that she would stop hurting. Please take away her pain.
Monday, January 7, 2013
The hugs that I give depend on the level of my relationship with the person receiving them. My family receives long, lingering hugs. With my closest friends, I will hug them, let go for a moment, and then decide the first hug wasn't enough and will hug them again.
It also depends on my mood, though. I hug for longer when I am feeling strong emotions. When I am very sad, or very happy, I don't want to let go. Hugs are comforting and reassuring. It seems more obvious that someone is there for you when your arms are around them.
Lord, thank you for the comfort that I receive every time I embrace someone. Thank you for putting people in my life who do not mind when I hug them, and thank you especially for the people who give me hugs before I can even show that I want them.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
A little over a year ago, I would have said "I'm Annabel. I don't go to church."
A few months ago, I would have said "I don't talk in front of a bunch of people."
One month ago, I would have said "I'm vegetarian. I don't serve meat to people."
Yesterday, I would have said "I am holding a grudge. I don't consider this person's feelings and I certainly do not try to comfort her."
The thing is, I think that when we set up these boundaries, we are setting ourselves up for God to stage an intervention. He will, somehow or another, knock down all of the walls we put up and leave us awed and infinitely grateful, wondering why we ever put them up. The funny thing is that it is often the things we least wanted to do that we wind up doing with the most fervor.
Holiest of Fathers, you work in incredible and mysterious ways. Today I received what was clearly a message from You, Lord. I pray that You will not let me forget that message, and that it will weigh on my heart and push me to act as You wish me to. May all of my deeds bring the kingdom of Heaven that lives within me closer to the surface.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Holding a camera in my hands make me feel something special. I can't accurately describe it. It's as if I have a whole new set of eyes, and through them I can see the world with a perspective that is always changing. With my camera, I am able to see possibilities that I would never think of with my naked eyes. That is what I find most wonderful about photography: with a camera, a photographer not only sees things as they are, but as they could be.
Lord, the first thing that you created was light. Now I am able to capture light to create beautiful images. Thank you for showing me your grace through the passion that you have given me for photography. I ask only that you will help me to always see with a photographer's eye by remembering that if I only approach it from the right angle, everything can be beautiful.
Friday, January 4, 2013
What strange and silly creatures my little sisters are! Yet they make my otherwise quiet days at home constant adventures. How uninteresting life would be without them!
One sister has an obsession with cheese and enjoys improvising parodies of popular songs, inserting cheese as the subject of each song. My favorites are "I dropped my cheese in a well. Don't ask me how, it just fell," and "I want your cheese and all your dairy products. We can make a good cheesecake." She and I stayed up for hours one night simply because she wanted me to do some improv parodies with her and we didn't stop until our voices were hoarse. That girl is brilliantly witty when she wants to be, and is downright dangerous when it comes to smart comebacks. Most of our time together is spent insulting each other because I love how funny she can be. I lose those fights every time.
My oldest sister has a catchphrase, "Well then!", which she will exclaim whenever there is an awkward moment, or if she can think of nothing else to say. She has consistently crazy hair which matches her personality quite well, and an adorable smile that is absolutely contagious. She gives some of the best hugs, although when she gets her arms around me I wonder if she will ever let me go! She also manages to say the most incredibly philosophical things every so often, amazing all who hear her every time!
Then there is the littlest, who has been running around in a princess dress today. She just made Harry Potter style wands for herself and her friends and has been waving her new wand around and shouting "Expelliarmus!" and "Episkey!" and"Avada Kedavra!" for the past half hour. Her imagination never ceases to amaze me, nor does her infinite amount of energy! One of the funniest things about her is how bossy she is. Her first sentence was "Not a good idea!", and she would say it whenever she thought we were getting into trouble.
They say that little siblings exist to teach the older siblings patience. I suppose I agree to some extent. However, I think that my little sisters have taught me several other valuable life lessons as well. They have taught me that picture books are always fun to read, that taking care of someone is a feeling to cherish, that making someone laugh is one of the best feelings in the world, and that one should always take into consideration a little person's judgment of the boy I like, because they will most likely be right!
Holy Father, You have given me three precious little sisters and I am ever so grateful for them. They give me new perspectives on the life you have provided for us, and they give me so many opportunities to teach them and to learn from them. Help me to remember how much I love them even when they test my patience. Help me to always remember how valuable they are are to me and how grateful I am for their presence in my life. More than anything, God, help me to always show them my gratitude and my love for them.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Dictionary.com's first three definitions for friend are:
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile
"Friend" is a word that is often used very lightly. Because of Facebook, a friend is someone whose face you may or may not know and whose posts you do not necessarily look at. Little children excitedly tell their parents about their new friend whom they just met on the playground and whose name they do not know.
I suppose the basic idea is that a friend is someone you enjoy spending time with; the third definition, "a person who is not hostile", fits here. However, I prefer a combination of the first two definitions. A friend is someone who I am "attached to by feelings of affection", and also someone who "gives assistance".
Some synonyms for friend that I like are alter ego, ally, and mate. An alter ego is usually a term found in comic books. The definition, "a second self", describes how everyone wants to feel about a close friend. An ally is someone who supports you in a cause, and describes someone you can trust to help you fight your battles. A mate is one of a pair; you can't have one without the other.
All of these names for friend describe how I feel about my dearest and closest friend, M____. We have been friends for almost 4 years now. Before her, all of my friends had abandoned me in some way or another before 2 years had gone by. Because of that, I am very clingy when it comes to my friends, and I often worry about what they think of me, wondering when they will finally decide that I am no longer worth their time. My M____, however, has shown throughout these years that I have no reason to worry when it comes to her.
She does not see it, but she has been a light in my life, and I will always be grateful for that. She pushes me when I need to be pushed, and she is there when I need her the most, even though we are parted by hundreds of miles. She has a beautiful heart and a bright spirit. I only wish that I could take away the pain and the worries and any other burdens that weigh her down.
My sweet Lord, you have manifested yourself quite clearly in this girl, M____, whom I call my closest friend. I pray that you will show yourself clearly to her as the infinite ocean of love that you have been described as. M____ has been a blessing to me with her guidance and has helped me around so many obstacles. Please bless her in return by guiding her and by clearing all obstacles from her path. I offer you thanks and praise for gifting me with such a dear friend.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Today I am thankful for a man whom I have never met. I just started reading a book titled Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina, by Michael Casey. Michael Casey is a prior at Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia. His writing is incredibly eloquent, yet easy to understand as well. Even as he describes the history of lectio divina, he compels me to take up the practice.
Anyone who can encourage me to include more spirituality in my life deserves an infinite amount of gratitude from me. Dear Lord, thank you for inspiring Michael Casey to write this book, and thank you for giving me the desire to read it. May it continue to inspire and teach me.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Every night during my family's spiritual time, we each share something for which we are grateful. I believe this is an important practice because we often go throughout our everyday lives taking things for granted, seldom pausing to give thanks. Meister Eckhart, a famous monk in the Middle Ages, once said, "If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."
Too often we dwell on the bad things in our life. We should instead think about the good things and give thanks for them. To encourage myself to remember the good things in my life, I am going to post something that I am thankful for each day of this year.
Today I thank the Lord for my family and for our nightly spiritual time. It is wonderful to know that every night, all of the family members who are home will gather together in our living room and join together to read holy writing, sing, and pray. For half an hour every night, there is no negativity and we are brought together by our shared love for that which is pure love. What a glorious thing to look forward to every day. I pray that I will never take it for granted.