starsinhereye

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One Year Ago~Audrey

 

About this time last year, I made my first visit overseas. I joined my coworkers in a mission trip toIMG_9465 change the lives of the 1000,000 plus orphans in Ukraine, I had never been overseas. In fact, I had only flown one time. A few years ago I made a trip to DC. But that was nothing like the 12 plus hour trip I would make over the Atlantic Ocean. I was slightly nervosa as one might imagine.

 

Funnily enough, issues with planes and getting on were one of the only two things I was worried about. I had heard to many horror stories about people missing their flights or not being able to get on the plane. After a momentary issue when we got there and a potential panic attack, I was fine. I was able to move when I needed to (that was concern number 2; how I would manage my illnesses) and was perfectly comfortable and entrained during my travel.

 

I took this all as a good sign: a great start to a productive trip. I was excited to see a new culture, to work on the actual soil the orphans I had met with came from. I was excited for my experiences. But I never expected to be as moved or to be as comfortable as I was when I arrived in Ukraine.

 

We stayed at a transitional care facility in Korosten. A kind of foster home in case where kids were taken care of during the scary time of transition with great care and love, the children here were between IMG_9840.JPGfamilies and orphanages here. This was one of the nicer places BOF had been stationed, and I was very thankful because it was easier for me, a chronic illness warrior, to do my job with some comforts. I had respect for all those that came before and after who made do with a lot less and never stopped them.

 

We met the children briefly before everyone headed to a local park. Everyone but me. I stayed to rest. I was an exhausted from travel and wanted to be able to give the kids my all the first day of programming. I was resting up to deal with the life changing overview I was acquired.

 

The first day, we started by playing with the kids with our VBS programming planned for that night. We walked with them to their dance lessons, something rare for these kids and were touched by how art can make a difference. As a ex marching band member and music lover, I knew that music could change lives, but when you saw these kids come alive to dance to the music it took on a new depth. They escaped their pain and shook it off. It was amazing.IMG_9543

 

 In fact, these children came alive whenever they got some affection. I sat next to one child while they crafted and for the rest of the trip he was especially attached to me. I let one child wear my sunglasses and then we were best friends. Even just pushing a toy truck across the floor made me popular with the kids. Sure, they had great caregivers that worked with them, but new friends meant the world to them.

 

Our VBS program was filled with music and dancing and crafts and fun. We shared stories of Jesus and the bible. Each team member shared testimonies of their life. I, of course, shared my story of chronic illness and how I was on broken but that God gave me strength to persevere and gave me doctors and medicines to make me better. This was especially important to me because I had made friends with a young girl with brittle bone disease. When we went outside to play, she had to be extra careful and didn’t get to do as much as the other kids. I hung out with her and helped kept her occupied. I hope one day she remembers that story. When the word seems hard and you can’t do everything you want because of your body, I hope she remembers she met someone who had hope: in herself, in medicine, and in God.

 

IMG_9615The week was amazing and on the last day with the child, I went with them one walk around the neighborhood. Just me, the kids, and their caregivers. No other team member or translator. And I was perfectly comfortable with this. I had no problem walking around an area I didn’t know with people who didn’t know my language. In fact, I had been comfortable the entire time. When I arrived, I was tired not afraid. I was never afraid. Was I frustrated that I couldn’t communicate like I wanted? Sure, but that nevermore I feel like I didn’t belong. On that walk, I had fun with the kids. We had made up a fake language that had crossed barriers and broke the ice. And on this particular walk, a few of eh kids and I practiced our skills of English and Russian, teaching each other new words in both languages by what we saw around us. I will always remember learning the word for fish at the market that day. Thanks Daniel!

 

But that walk brought more to my attention than just a few words. I really got to see the big picture. Walking around this town in Ukraine, I notice the differences but I also noticed the similarities. Housing was different but I could see the tell tale signs of those with not enough money. I saw people just trying to survive. The trapping may have been different but the people were the same. Working to support their families. Here they had markets on the street and back home they are cashiers at Walmart. I looked into the faces of these children and saw the same kind of spirit I saw in the kids I grew up with: dreams and aspirations trying to overcome what life threw at them. I saw souls light up: I saw God.

 

One of the criticisms of our work is that we work with children in a different county and don’t focus on IMG_9762.JPGkids in Alabama. As someone who worked in Alabama improving the lives of those with children and adults with disabilities for ten years, I can tell you I’ve done that and I can assure you there are big hearted, god driven people already doing that.  But the thing is, God’s people aren’t limited to Alabama–they aren’t even limited to the United States. That I day I truly saw what He was trying to show me! I felt so comfortable because I was among his people! My brothers and sister may have spoken a different language but that didn’t change what we had in common. God was in Ukraine and He loved his children there. He has called me to be part of a team of American and Ukraine who wanted to change these kids life for the better!

 

I am truly honored. I always wanted to make a difference and never though He’d called me for something as big as international missionary work.  I remember their faces so clearly and it’s almost like they haunt me.  These children, along with the ones that come to camp, are my touch stone. They remind me that love their neighbor doesn’t mean the person next to you or the person next door; it means that we you love each of your brothers and sister regardless of distance.

If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/

 

And if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to BOF in my name to continue my domestic ministry work , please contact audrey@bridgesoffaith.com, donate on-line (mention my name) or send checks to 302 County Road 383, Billingsley, AL 36006. Thank you for your support!

 

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It Ain’t No Rainbow~Audrey

It’s time for a “half year” check in (more or less; I’m always late these days). I’m having a tough time in my life right now but I am trying. Here’s where I stand.

 

“Just Let Me Know”

 

I have worked hard on connecting with friends. I wrote two very heartfelt letters to friends I thought of as “wayward.” Not that they are bad, but they have a life that has helped them close up and not reach out. So I tried to reach out but no response. But I feel better about my stance with them. I also posted a birthday post on a friend who my only contact is on Facebook. We were very close in high school but she’s changed and while I understand we grow, I wish we weren’t complying separate.  I didn’t expect her to reply; she didn’t; but I tried.

 

I failed at staying in touch with current friends. I’ve been so focused on my specific problems that I haven’t been much of the “reach out and touch someone” person I had been. Maybe I can fix that this week.

 

“And, God knows, It’s the Only Way to Heal Now”

I’m losing this battle in the war of my health. I stope exercising and sometimes just stopped caring. I’m stuck in rut. I’ve been busy and very stressed which chokes my body. My chores don’t get done but I am so tired of not feeling good. My fatigue level is high. I am upset because I worked so hard to get out of this rut and here I am again. I am trying to deal with the idea that these periods will happen because it is a CHRONIC illness. But it’s hard to adjust

 

“In the Heart of the Free World”

I thought about giving up the other day. I was tired and I had gotten a lot of flak for my opinions on pop culture (of all things!). This song played in my head and I remembered I wasn’t trapped in Russia like some people. I could choose as I always have to ignore people who are mean because they don’t like the minority opinion. I am me and I don’t have to like what everyone else does.

 

“Spinning like a Gravitron When I was just a kid”

With all that is going on in my life, I am stuck in one of depressive spirals. It’s not as bad as some instances but my fatigue isn’t making it better. In some sense I am happy but have too much stress. It’s clear when you look at my habits when I’m in a depressive mood; I get obsessive. At this point, it’s reading (especially all the Rick Riordan novels) and Final Fantasy XV. They keep my mind of the bad stuff and one glace at my Facebook and you can see the obsessiveness. Lol

 

“I’ve Forgiven It All”

I’m not mad at my exes. But I am working on wishing them a happy life. I know I can check off all but one of them (but that’s another story}.

What I have realized is that I don’t like the idea that my exes think I might care. Interestingly, I was commenting on a mutual friend’s Facebook where she was paired with Captain America. She was talking about how he was too goody goody for her. My ex then comes in and says something about him being a Nazi (that is Being erased this May and it never happened so ha!). To any other person I would have replied “shut your dirty filthy mouth” but since he was an ex I wondered if he thought I was angry at him still as opposed to the Nazi. I decided not to post but that’s when it occurred to me, that I wish them well but I don’t want them to think I actually care about them. Is that a paradox?

 

“I Refuse to Look Back Thinking Days Were Better Just Because They’re Younger Days”

So I was in the shower the other night and having an objective look at my past. For every great memory, there is a cringe worthy moment. I truly realize that things were never perfect, just different. I am not enjoying now enough because it is different. So the focus going forward is to celebrate the different.

 

“We Can Never Go Back”

 

Nothing can be the same, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better.

 

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Link in the Chain~Audrey

 

Author’s Note: This was written in January but other pressing concerns caused this blog to be posted out of order.

 

 

 

I sit here, a week after the kids have left. A lot has happened since they left. We got a new president, the world came together to march for the rights of women. And I learned a new lesson.

 

I have a habit of being a rescuer. I want to help other get better and meet their potential. I want to be the one that helps them rise up and be the personal God meant them to be. This is all well and good. It’s noble and it gives me self-satisfaction. But I have to remember I am just a cog in the huge wheel. While the kids were here, I realized I couldn’t be everything someone needed.

 

img_8853We had 10 kids in our December group. This was a pretty good group and they had the youth exsuburance that comes with a group of kids. I noticed one girl who didn’t flock to this energy. She instead liked to chill and would often sit off by herself just watching everything. As someone who needs some time to sit and rest, I would sit next to her and talk to her. This was all she needed: someone to come up to her, to care for her.  It was just a simple action, sitting next to her, but it meant the world to her.

 

It was easy to connect with Sasha. I’m an introvert.  I like to chill. We used Google Translate and talked about our lives. If we had brothers and sisters. What we like to do. Who our favorite authors were. We spent a lot of time together but I was happy when she went off with her friends or other volunteers. In fact, about a week before she left, she told me I was her only true friend. It brought tears to my eyes.

 

This was a huge reveal that was supposed to make me happy. And in some way it did, but it made me sad. I wanted her to have many friends and, loved ones. So I went about getting her to talk to other and expanding friends while still being a stable pat of her life. I wasn’t going to disappear and she seemed afraid of hat when making new friends. I had to explain we can share friendship.

 

The day Sasha left hurt. She was very calm and handled everything maturely like she did the entire img_8177month. I only saw her cry once. We had made boxes as a craft and I gave her mine I made with our picture in it. Even then she didn’t want me to see her cry.

 

I talk to her some on Facebook but it is hard connect. I have told her that I miss her and still love her even though she was far away. She shared a picture on Facebook of us and I know that she still loves me.

 

My job is full of these moments. Where I get to share with the kids and help them understand they are loved. I miss Sasha so much. I have been praying for people to step up in her life. She needs more than just me to become the woman I know she can be. But at least I could plant a seed and be part of a chain that will help her potential.

 

 

 

If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/

 

And if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to BOF in my name to continue my domestic ministry work , please contact audrey@bridgesoffaith.com, donate on-line (mention my name) or send checks to 302 County Road 383, Billingsley, AL 36006. Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

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Loss~Audrey

Author’s Note: This post was begun during the beginning of January to focus on the idea that it’s ok to mourn celebrities but before I could finish it, my whole world change and the post took on a new light.

Maybe Death Gives Me One of Those Fresh New Starts


2017 was rough for many. It saw a lot of deaths for people they personally knew and for a variety of celebrities. I (and others) were heartbroken for the loss of Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin and David Bowie. There were other people who would make fun of people who were saddened about the lose of these icons. As if not knowing they personally made the loss unpainful. These people were actors and singers who played character or sang songs that we could relate to. Some of these characters and songs we grew up with and some whose lives were cut short.

In December, quietly, M. Lawrence Abrams passed away. You may not have heard of him. He had a prolific career and worked with the likes of Tina Turner. In his last years he was involved with one of my favorite bands: 100 Monkeys. Fans of the band are loyal and had more access to the members than any other band I have ever followed. I have met them on numerous occasions and was very fond of the man dubbed Uncle Larry. He was polite, respectful and deep. He had no qualms being in a band with four younger fellows; he could hang with the best.

He played a variety of instruments and only fronted a few songs for the band. “Invisible Monster” remains a 100 Monkeys classic and only Uncle Larry could give the soul the song needed. The band had some issues disbanding a few years ago due to the band members other projects. But in the last year, they had released new music together. Fans had hope of the revival of the good old days. But then Uncle Larry succumbed to cancer and that hope was shattered. 100 Moneys can go on but it will not be the same.

I cried and I shared the story with my family and friends who knew of him and his music. But I didn’t have too long to grieve; the next group of orphans were coming and I was busy for their arrival. I put away this blog post to post when they were gone once I had time to really give it the thought and emotion it deserved. But what I didn’t expect was that I would be dealing with an even bigger loss: the loss of one of my orphans.

 

It Only Matters if We Care Now

Last June, we brought our first group of summer Ukrainian orphans to Bridgestone. We had siblings, girls and boys of a variety of ages. There were two particular teen boys who liked to push the boundaries and they had to go head to head with me. But a mutual respect grew between us. They understood they were loved even though they had to be told no. When they left we were all in tears and hugging one another. I knew that all these boys needed was to someone to help them get on the right path; they were not lost for good.

A few of the kids were pursued for adoption but these boys weren’t. Sadly, not every child gets adopted but all we can do at Bridges of Faith is try.

Flash forward to this past Tuesday, I am going about my day writing grants and filing, typical things I do when the kids aren’t here. I came across a post by one of my friends that an orphan had asked for her prayers because his friend has died. My heated plummeted. We are connected by the same orphans. I immediately went into research mode to seek out the story. Sadly, I found that I did knew the boy who died: he was the quiet one of the teen duo mentioned above.

Finding out what happened was hampered by language and time barriers. But I knew this much, he was stabbed and fled for help but bled out. His friends are devastated. I connected with the other pair of the above duo; it was true. I found an article written up out the even and sent it to one of the translators know for details.

Sasha. He was quiet and wanted love but was scared because he had been hurt. His best friend was a leader who helped protect both of them. Their rebellion was protection against the harsh realities of their world. At Bridgestone they felt safe. I saw them both smile. These were rare and beautiful gifts which I treasured. This boy had potential and could live a productive life.

I think this is where I was the most heart broken. He was gone at 16. He was killed brutally in what turned out to be a triple homicide. Alcohol played a major factor in the incident. He was gone stupidly. His potential gone. His sweet inner heart gone. And I couldn’t help him. I could not save him from this fate.

I know, I know. We can’t save them all. Days later, I am finally starting to look at this with a clear head. I did help him. I showed him love. I didn’t just talk Jesus to him, I showed him the love of Christ through action. I got to be a ledge for a month when he lived in avalanche.

This is why I do what I do. Just because I can’t save them all doesn’t mean I can’t try.

Loss comes in all forms. Each death of a precious life affects the world and the souls on it. Whether you have lost a sibling,a friend, a member of your favorite band, a student you taught; it’s the same pain. I pray for release of your heart break and a positive outlook for the memories of your loved ones.

 

If you would like to find out more about Bridges of Faith please visits: http://www.bridgesoffaith.com/

And if you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to BOF in my name to continue my domestic ministry work , please contact audrey@bridgesoffaith.com, donate on-line (mention my name) or send checks to 302 County Road 383, Billingsley, AL 36006. Thank you for your support!

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My Blood~Audrey

7c1462d1dc35f8607d759ebb541a59e3I am a huge Ellie Goulding fan. Both the music itself and the lyrics move me. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of her songs embodies my feeling about my body and my chronic illness. My Blood helps explain my journey. When I saw her in person tears flowed when I heard this song live. It was a very ethereal moment, and I will never forget it as long as I live.

Let me walk you through the song.

 

That feeling, that doesn’t go away just did

And I walked a thousand miles to prove it

And I’m caught in the crossfire of my own thoughts

The color of my blood is all I see on the rocks

As you sail from me

 

 

These verses capture the struggle as my body was breaking down. I could barely walk or sleep. I was miserable. I had to see so many doctor and travel many miles to even figure out what was wrong with me. I struggled with the idea that my body was fighting. It is literally parts of my actual blood that doesn’t work right. And my blood was all I could think of.

 

 

Alarms will ring for eternity

The waves will break every chain on me

My bones will bleach

My flesh will flee

So help my lifeless frame to breathe

 

Finally I got a doctor who cared and promised he would make me feel better. He did confirm that this was a lifelong disease and there was no cure. But there was a treatment and that helped me breathe and step forward. My lifeless body could actually become something useful again. These promised kept me going.

 

 

The lost dreams I  buried in my sleep for him

And this was the ecstasy of a love forgotten

And I’m thrown in the gunfire of empty bullets

And my blood is all I see As you steal my soul from me

Alarms will ring for eternity

I skip the chorus to get to the next verse for a purpose. I want to leave you with the chorus as that is my hope for my life so forgive me for the incorrect order.

This is my life as I started to heal and fight the pain. I looked back at what I wanted to do and tried to succeed instead of letting my dreams be buried. I refuse to let this disease steal my spirit but it’s a tough battle and I saw my spirit be dragged from me. But no more! I will capture it again and I will be me again!

 

 

And God knows, I’m not dying but I breathe now

And God knows, it’s the only way to heal now

With all the blood I lost with you

It drowns the love I thought I knew

 

 

This is the hope portion of the song. Treatment is the only way to heal. I am not terminal and I can live on. I can find that spirit I lost. I am working towards this more every day! I am so much better that this time last year and that’s just amazing! My mantra? I’m not dying but I breathe now.

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The Blog Where I Get Closer to Christianity by Reading Norse Mythology Fiction~Audrey

The rune perthro is the symbol of an empty cup lying sideways. Its meaning is a mystery for practitioners of rune magic and can be used for many reasons. For me, it’s not the magical properties of the symbol of the rune that moves me; it is the fact that we can use other mythology to help understand some of the truest ideals of Christianity.perthro

I am reading a YA fantasy novel by Rick Riordan. That will lose many people there as it’s about the Norse gods. But bear with me. Riordan uses the symbol for his deaf elf who had to decide to drink from Mimir’s well of knowledge. But to truly understand what he was being taught he had to empty himself to fulfill his destiny. This is further illustrated by the story of how Odin learned rune magic. He hung himself from a tree and then pierced his side with his spear to empty himself; to become a receptacle for the magic.

Do you see the connection? Jesus was crucified and poked with a spear. His life force left him; he as empty. His soul and biological life force were gone. Then he arose and brought with him the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had to sacrifice himself and empty himself of his humanity to fulfill the destiny that Christians were meant to have. Had he not gone through, this ordeal this world would be a vastly different place.

As Christians, we have to become that empty cup. We have to give up our humanity and accept the Holy Spirit and the will of Jesus Christ. We can’t receive our destiny preaching hatred and bigotry. We must shed our preconceived notions and look at the world through Christ’s eyes. I encourage you to focus on the things Christ said and did instead of other people who try to overturn Jesus’ ideals to promote their own. Clear your mind and spend time in the four gospels. That is where I have always found the most proud ideals and changing of spirit.

Become perthro; become an empty vessel. Leave your destiny up to Jesus, not to the dice of humanity.

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Punching the Time Clock~Audrey

I have made a positive start in taking care of my body. I already feel more upbeat and healthy. Now If I can just keep it up!

Keeping to my bodies’ schedule

The first step was to embrace my body’s time clock. I am a night owl. I stay up late and sleep late. It was really bad for a while because the pain was so bad, I couldn’t sleep even when I needed to. My treatments have helped that. Now I just have to embrace the way my body is.

So my new schedule is this:

  • Get home from work
  • Walk with the cat
  • Fix dinner
  • Relax; read my bible; create
  • Exercise and chores when my second wind hits
  • Take a quick shower
  • Read a book for fun; color
  • Into bed with a comfortable movie to fall asleep to

 

This really seems to work well. It boosts my mood before bed and helps me get my work out. I feel less tired as I embrace that I get going again at 7:30/8:00. I have accepted my weirdness and embraced it in a way that benefits me highly.

 

Being health and happy

The next step was making me happy. Exercise does not make me happy. I hate it! I don’t enjoy it. I enjoy walks with Tig. I enjoy SITTING out in nature.  I also hate doing chores. I finally made a schedule where I did one chore each day. But I never looked forward to it. I always felt too tired. Plus I was already down emotionally. The election is making me so sad that I have had to remove myself from it and bring back my boy band music (It always makes me feel better!).

Then I had a brilliant idea. I popped a 5ive CD into the BluRay player and started to rock out while I washed dishes. I had found the way to get exercise and get stuff done. It made me smile and I enjoyed self. So now I pop in my fave music and get my cardio on!

Not beating myself up

The last step is an important one. It is very important  for people with chronic illness but it is something that everyone needs to understand: sometimes were just can’t do it all and that is ok. There are days I just don’t feel good enough to dance because I’m in pain (but I will try) or chores don’t get done. I just double up when feel up to it. I also need rest days and, even though I have scheduled them, sometimes they come on different days. And it’s ok because this empowers me. Saying no but not giving up, accepting who I am. It’s already made  a difference on me both mentally, physically, and spirutally.

 

 

 

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