Archive for category Audrey

I’m Not Afraid, I’m Not~Audrey

 

“Making Everyday a Holiday”

Kids-OneRepublic

I was sitting at the table the other day thinking about the best times of my life. And I quickly saw that I was so happy right now. I might have finical issues but I am happy emotionally and physically, I’m at a great point in my life. I think knowing that is really the whole goal here; to not just think back on the past years on the bad or that that those years were better than now.

“And God Knows I’m Not Dying But I Breath Now”

My Blood- Ellie Goulding

My health has improved a hundred fold since I started my treatments. But I’m still not doing good enough with my exercise. I am trying to get back to my walks. I had a port put in in July and have been under a lot of stress and I’ve had a body collapse. I spent the last weekend sick. I tried hard to take care of myself but sometimes there are flare si cannot fight and I have to remember that there will be these times and I can’t change them. 

“I Know You Hear Me Now”

Hear Me Now-Five

My friends are huge to me. It depresses me that my high school best friend has fallen off the radar. But I remember that I  haven’t lost my best college friend. No matter how far away she is, she is still with me ibn my heart. I tried to contact some friend and they didn’t respond. Instead of getting said, I tried to understand their situation and what is going on with their lives. I will welcome them with open arms if they ever come back.

 

“Let’s Destroy Each Mistake That We Made”

Fake It, Bastille

I have done well here I think. I have et the Lord led he way and to second guessed who I was, what this relationship was doing, I was happy with what I experienced. I saw that I can do so much and am not stuck. I don’t give into peer pressure and I have been so much happier because of it.

“I Always Thought That Things Would Change But They Never Did”

Lonely Town- Brandon Flowers

Depression is an interesting beast. I have worked on techniques to help me when I got in those moments. And though some lasted longer than others, I have come put the other side happier. I have also worked hard this year with being an advocated. Celebrity suicides have been made public and I have tried to portray a real picture of what depression is and bbeing someone who will be there for others.

 “Treat Her Better”

Send My Love- Adele

I still have dreams of my exes and I don’t understand why. But I don’t think of them and get angry anymore. I have worked on myself and this has been a release. But it’s not perfect. Someone texted me that one was having a baby an di blew it off. I still have trouble understanding how they can be so happy and I am still single. But I remember I am where I am suppose to be. So even though I can’t say it, I do hope they are happy and that they have changed enough to make their spouse happy.

“You Let The Whole Wide World See”

The Veil- Peter Gabriel

I am me. I piss people off, but I am honestly me. I try to treat people with respect for their ideas and opinions so often I am quite. But I am fighting; fighting for freedom for all, freedom to be myself with out peer pressure getting to me. I am showing my true colors more and more each day and I am happy with who I am,

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Send Me

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

I graduated in 2005 with a degree in psychology and a desire to help children. One of my biggest interests in school was developmental psychology and helping children grow up well-adjusted so they need less help as an adult. I believe in the cliché that children are our future and if we can get them on even footing as they grow up, they can be happy, stable adults. IMG_2405
That same year I was introduced to therapeutic horseback riding. Using horses, I could help those with physical and emotional disabilities thrive in a world that doesn’t take the time to get to know them. I helped one be able to walk across the stage at graduation as well as helped those with Asperger’s find confidence and self-esteem. My niche was those with low functioning autism and developmental delays and helping them blossom. I’ve heard first words, seen first steps, and had first hugs. And I LOVED it!
Then I started getting really unwell. I’ve had health issues and reoccurring infections my entire life. But then abscessed tooth pushed my body over its limit. Struggling to find help and a diagnosis, my whole life changed. I couldn’t live my life as I had. I was stuck. But then Bridges of Faith happened.
My history has been really helpful especially when we have children from special needs orphanages like we did this time. Their chaperon and Alona worked really hard with two of the kids to help them transition to another culture and have a great time. No one asked me in particular to do this. I saw that these kids needed some who knew how to work with their special needs and stepped up to the plate.
The Lord sent me here once I was open with him about needing a change in my life and wanting to follow his ways. He has rewarded me not just in my health but by allowing me to work with these sweet precious children. The orphanages are bleak places. One in ten will commit suicide before they hit 21, one will be in jail and three in five girls are sexually traffic. Since the program began, we have seen 110 orphans be adopted. Being part of that has been magical and amazing. I said send me and he showed me what I could do!
In the Mary Poppins picture are Ilona and Bogdon. Bogdon falls in the developmental delay category but if it’s because of abuse and neglect or other issues, I could not tell you. What I can tell you is he wants someone to love and to love him. He needed someone who could love him but discipline him as well. Bogdon doesn’t respond to yelling and running after him. This makes him happy; he has your attention and he loves that you are paying attention. I pulled out some Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy tricks that helped him see he could get love and attention without acting out. Was it easy? Not at all. Was it worth it? Yes; to see that smile on his face and have him hug me knowing he felt safe loved meant everything to me.
IMG_1898Another young girl named Luyba (Russian for love) had some similar issues. While she didn’t run off, she would hug you too tightly or squeeze too hard. She had so much love inside she didn’t know how to express it at all. She and I spent a lot of time together. She saw she was loved but I didn’t fool around with unwanted behavior. The last day, while they waited at the airport for them to go home, she gripped my hand hard. She didn’t want to leave someone who didn’t just yell at her like they are prone to in orphaned (if they get any attention at all);she wanted someone who loved her for who she was, who she knew loved her even as she corrected the behavior.
God knew where I was needed, where my gift would fit perfectly. Because I let him send me so many people are happy and have had their lives changed. It’s more than just about me. It’s about our world, or brothers and sisters in Christ.

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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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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