Tag Archives: hope

A Year In Review

I’m terrible with resolutions, so I’m not making any this year.  Instead, I’m reflecting on a year of ups and downs, focusing more on the ups, however big or small they were.

My parents have continued to lovingly welcome me to live in their home, rent-free.  They’re pretty awesome.

I was able to celebrate my Baba’s 80th birthday with her:

I reunited with my dear former apartment-mates, Meggie, Amy, and Casey  in Chicago.  Through the wonders of technology, we were joined by Whitney in Bulgaria, via Skype.

I’ve been able to spend more time with dear friends, like Megan & Valerie.

I celebrated the weddings of many special people this past year, including:

Tom & Christine Chiaccio

Ben & Kerrie Taylor

Steve & Cortney Conn

Zach & Janelle Taylor

I’ve rejoiced with loved ones who have brought new life into the world.  Welcome to the babies!!!



Baby Theresa, whom I do not yet have a picture!  Babies yet to arrive are Baby Oakleaf and Baby Constantino, and I’m excited for them all.

I’ve become a member of a church plant that has given me a huge family to be a part of, and they bless me immensely.

I’ve met a world of bloggers who are artists, cooks, writers, and thinkers, and they continue to inspire and delight me each day.  Basically, 2010 was about reconnecting with people.  People can be the worst part of your day, but they are also what makes life most beautiful.











































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Maria’s Adventures in Paraguay (III)

Hey, remember that one time that my younger sister, Maria, went to Paraguay and lived with the native Ache people for a while?  Perhaps you’d like to see a couple of photos:

Maria is very approachable, friendly, and small in stature, so the Ache children loved her.  Maria, who has never in her life spent this much time with kids, adored them in return, and she still misses them all the time.  Aren’t they so cute?!

This little guy, Wachugi, was the most difficult for Maria to leave behind.  She had a special attachment to him and, as you can see, he could sense the impending departure of Maria’s team.  She grew so much as a person and learned a lot about people and faith and herself.

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He is risen! (and so have the flowers…)

Easter is a holiday of hope, forgiveness, mercy and joy.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve enjoyed celebrating holy week more and more.  Just as Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the earth itself seems to celebrate the gift of a new life.  My mother’s daffodils are blossoming and blooming, and I indulged in their simple beauty:

Christ is risen!  Happy Easter to you all, and I hope that however you choose to celebrate the day that it is filled with blessings and wonderful memories.  I leave you with our gorgeous Easter lily…

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Until the Second Coming…

We said goodbye to my great-uncle a few weeks ago.  The funeral was a traditional, Eastern Orthodox service, and those are always very liturgical and beautiful.  I don’t know if I have just never noticed before or if this was actually the first time I have seen it done, but the priest, after blessing the casket with holy water, then tapped each side of the casket with a cross, saying:  “This tomb is sealed until the second coming of Christ.”

I’ve been thinking about that since then, the idea of millions of people swiftly gathered to heaven, and things of an apocalyptic nature.  It led to the following painting, which took a completely different direction than what I had originally intended.  I’m not sure what else to do with it, if anything:

Detail:  I dried rose petals from my great-uncle’s funeral, lacquered them, then brushed silver metallic paint onto them for this look.

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It smells like rain.  It’s warm enough to throw open all the windows.  There is hope that the season of rebirth is on the way.

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Gift of Water

There are so many things that many of us take for granted:  food, clothing, shelter, fresh air, sunshine, laughter.  Most of us never even consider where our water comes from, that it is clean and pure and we have it in abundance, whenever we want.  So many people all over the world must walk for miles to retrieve one pitcher of clean water to last all day.  These people have a basic need that is not being met.  Groups such as Charity Water and Blood Water Mission are working to bring the clean, refreshing water these people must have to survive.

Scott Harrison of Charity Water took the following picture, which beautifully illustrates the gift of water:

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Resolute Beginning

I’m taking a moment to hop on the New Year’s bandwagon.

2009 was a rough year for me.  I had to drag myself through an extra year of college to finish foreign language credits for my degree.  I had to live at home with my folks because of being a poor college student.  I worked a job with which I slowly became more and more disenchanted.  School loan payments began.  I got laid off before Christmas.  I gained weight.  By December, I was so ready for 2009 to be the heck over with already.

So, here’s a toast to 2010:  may this year start with hope and bring about new beginnings and happy endings.

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Kidney for Christmas

A few years ago, we learned that my cousin, Robin, had only one kidney, and it was failing.  Robin is only a few years older than me, so you can imagine the reaction.  We learned in July of 2007 that no one in Mom’s family matched Robin’s blood type, so there were no donors.  Her family had been reaching out to everyone:  churches, co-workers, anyone who would listen.  We learned that July that my Dad and Robin shared a blood type.

Dad, after learning this, quietly began the process of applying to be a donor, making trips to Chicago for tests and evaluations.  Only Mama, my siblings, and I knew he was doing this; we didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up in case it didn’t work out.  Finally, near the end of November, he was declared a match and the operation was scheduled for December 10.  Robin knew she had a donor; she didn’t know who it was.  My parents figured they had to tell their secret, since Dad and Robin would be in the same area of the same hospital in Chicago, and they’d both be quite obviously recovering from major surgery when we were all together at Christmas.  They made the trek north one night to tell Robin’s parents and the rest of Mom’s side of the family and, as you can imagine, it was extremely emotional.

On December 10, one of Dad’s kidneys was removed and given to Robin.  The surgeon was amazed at the immediate production of the kidney:  the surgery was a success.  Soon after she awakened, Robin insisted on going to see Dad, so she slowly hauled herself and all of her gear down to Dad’s room, where he was making a much slower recovery.  They just held hands and looked at each other and everyone cried and cried.  Robin has since made an incredible recovery and is living a full life, as is my dad.

The best part?  Dad had Robin’s name in the family Christmas gift exchange.  Just like a Hallmark movie.

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It’s a good thing Christmas comes at the end of the year.  It’s usually when everything appears the most dire, when people are worried about making ends meet, and when everyone prepares his or her New Year’s resolutions, probably soon to be broken.  Right now, I don’t have a job, or a car, or my own place to live.  I don’t have dental insurance or prescription coverage.  I have student loans and bills to pay.  Things appear quite dire.

However, though frequently pessimistic, I am a person who believes in hope.  I think one of the reasons people are so happy during the Christmas season is because of the anticipation, the hope that things are going to get better.  I am one who has a great hope that next year will be better.  We continue to celebrate Christmas and uphold traditions, even if we have to cut back due to loss and a poor economy.

Hope is a foundation of faith.  Without it, we could never muddle through war, death, poverty, hunger, and loneliness.  If no one lived with hope, no one would waste time doing anything good.  Things are difficult for many people right now, but I have hope that things will come back around.  That’s the only way I can survive in a fallen world.

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The fear that she had cancer was keeping me awake at night.  Sometimes I had nightmares, sometimes I just tossed and turned, and occasionally I stared into nothingness.  I’ve been trying to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the future losses of all of my grandparents, but for some reason, I deluded myself into thinking that Nana would either never go or she would be the last.  Now, she may leave me first, and my heart was aching.

Tonight was another one of those nights in which I was restless, trying to find that comfortable spot on the bed, fitfully trying to sleep.  Suddenly, it felt like she was there, like she was in my room.  I could sense her presence so strongly.  I didn’t move.  I could feel her soft, cool hand press against my forehead, the way she gently rests it there when I’m on the couch at her house and she thinks I’m asleep.  I cried.  I’ve heard stories like this:  people sensing the presence of a loved one just after that person has died. 

But she’s alive, and there is no cancer.

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