Wednesday, June 29, 2011

If I had my way

If I could have my way, I wouldn’t be where I am.

I would be sitting along a clean, blue shore, feeling the salt gather on my skin and brushing strands of hair away from my face.

I would be walking along a rushing river, listening to the water splash against rocks and logs. Barefoot, avoiding anthills hidden in tall grass.

I would be miles and miles above the earth. Looking at the top of cotton candy clouds, dreaming of walking among them.

I would be teetering on the edge of the horizon, watching the sun melt in colors of pink, orange and turquoise. The heat slowly dying.

I would be far away from city lights that illuminate even the darkest nights. And lying on my back, look up to see millions of stars looking back at me.
I would be running through endless fields my only guide being inconstant fireflies.

I would be worlds away from where I am, at my cold desk, looking at a screen that can merely show me glimpses of the joy I wish to take in.

Friday, June 24, 2011

When there is nothing to write about...

post something you wrote a long time ago. This was written when I first moved to Columbia. I was living at a place that I greatly disliked. One day it snowed and it was so beautiful. This is what came out of that day. Of course, it is a fiction piece, but it evokes the emotions felt during that time.

I danced in the rain today. I threw out my arms and twirled around like I used to do when I was a little girl. I tilted my face towards the sky and closed my eyes, letting the icy rain tingle and run down. I knew that my mascara would run and that passerby’s would point and shake their heads at my wet clothes and stringy hair that quickly plastered itself to my face. I didn’t care. I was free. I was free from something that I didn’t want to be free from but nonetheless, I was free. And in this moment, it seemed as if God was crying. Cold, harsh and heavy tears; shed just for me and me alone as if to say that He knew my pain; that I was not alone. But I was.

Then the rain turned into snow and I stopped dancing. I looked in awe at the frozen rain that rarely falls in this humid state. I let it drop delicately in my hair and set on the edges of my eyelashes until it dissolved and was no more. Over and over tiny flakes set upon me and the ground; enveloping me in hope and white purity. I smiled and my heart was filled with warmth. I wanted to call out to everyone and tell them of the snow and the beauty that it was bringing. I called. But no one answered. I knocked on doors and screamed for them to come outside and see the wonder that God was pouring out on us. No one came. So I sat on the ground upon a pillow of snow and cried. Wishing my tears would freeze and fall slowly to the ground.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Blue Star Mothers

There is a cause that burns deep in my heart. That cause is the care of our military. Many family members and friends have served in the military from the Army, Navy, Marines, Airforce and Coast Guard (we love all branches in my family).

Whether or not you agree with our military being overseas, whether you are a republican or a democrat and whether or not you know someone who has served or who is serving: it is our responsibility to pray for, to care for and to support our soldiers.

That being said: I have a grand opportunitiy for you to be able to serve. It won't cost you a thing (unless you want to donate, which is completely cool with me) and it will only take you about 30 seconds...maybe 52 seconds but who's counting?

Four Star Plumbing and Air Conditioning is giving away $1,000 to a lucky non-profit organization. Who should that organization be, you ask? The Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina, of course.

Click here and scroll down to the very bottom of the site. Fill out your information and where it says "HORRY COUNTY Non-Profit or Charity Organization Name for Nomination" just type "Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina".

Go ahead, do it. I'll wait....(be sure to vote EVERYDAY!)

Okay. Now that you're done, let me tell you a little bit about who you are voting for. Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina constists of a group of loving parents who have sons and daughters that are currently serving in the United States Military. They are a non-proft, non-sectarian and non-political organization that lives to support one another and to send support to troops.

Through Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina, you can donate items to be sent overseas, donate funds for postage to send the packages or attend an event in support of the Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina.

If you are interested in joining the BSMCC, you can click here for more information.

Also, I have a vested interest as my cousin is serving overseas and his momma (also my cousin) is a Blue Star Mother.

Even though their children aren't with them, they bring them to every event via a picture on a stick. (Usually everything is better on a stick...but for some reason a picture on a stick isn't as good as the real person).

Go vote!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life is fleeting

The last few weeks have brought a myriad of emotions to both sides of my family.

It started with the passing of my husband’s grandfather, Pop. Then my first cousin, Lana Carol Beaty. Next, it was my Great Uncle Eugene and finally, yesterday, my Uncle Gregg. The first three passed within days of each other, making for a very hard week.

A week full of tears and laughter. A week of longing to hear the voice of our loved ones just one more time. A week of peace knowing that all those who were suffering were in a better place.

***Side note. I hate when people say “so and so is in a better place”. Though it is true ( hell is a VERY real place that souls go to) it just sounds so cliché. End side note***

However, this past weekend was full of wedding bliss. I was able to watch two amazing couples join together in the wonderful (yet tough) union of marriage.

Then, there was the birth of my cousin’s baby, Sadie Lynn.

While all of these events have greatly affected my life the past few weeks, the two events I want to focus on both happened on June 13. The death of Uncle Gregg at around 12:30 am and the birth of Sadie Lynn at around 8:01 pm.

While God took an amazing man from our family, He also gave us a new life. While we continue to mourn for the life that once was, we celebrate the life that now is. While we cry over the last breath of Uncle Gregg, we are rejoicing at the first breath of Sadie Lynn.

I am reminded of the scripture found in Job 1:01-22, “ He said, 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the lord.' Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”

When we lose someone, we are quick to anger, to blame God, to ask why. Anyone will tell you that these are all ways to cope with loss. But Job makes such a beautiful point. God gives. God takes. He is the source of balance and He is also our comforter.  He replaces mourning with joy. Weariness with strength.

That isn’t exactly where I wanted to go with this post. I wanted to point out the perfect beauty of birth, life and death.

Enjoy the song from is kind of appropriate. Kind of.

The end.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A challenge

I was given a challenge. And I, in my opinion, succeeded.
I present my first designed and executed brochure. While I didn't create the content, I did gather it :)

Click on the link below to see the brochure made for our Drug and Addiction Studies program at the College of Social Work.

Drug and Addiction Brochure

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Time to stand up for what I believe

Michael Bolton is awesome and completely underrated. Before you start sighing and navigating away from my blog...hear me out.

My first concert was Michael Bolton, the opener was Celine Dion (that tells you how long ago this was). I remember it was in Charlotte, it was hot, we had grass seats and we sat on a multi-colored checkered blanket. I was very young so I only remember snapshots of the show but since then I have had a soft spot for Mr. Bolton.
So yes. Michael once had outrageous curly, weird, blonde hair. It looked like he stuck is finger in a socket one too many times. But was his trademark and it worked. When you think of Michael Bolton, you think of ridiculous curly hair.
But people...I challenge you to take a journey with me into the world of Michael.

Look past the cheesy, 90's videography. Look past his mane. Look past the terrible jacket, fake fire, halfway open shirt and tight jeans. Scratch that...we can keep the tight jeans.
But seriously, listen to his voice. That man can sing. Amen and Amen.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

About a man...

This is the speech I wrote for my grandpa's funeral a little over two years ago. Speaking at his funeral, recounting his life and talking about the man I knew as grandpa is one of the greatest memories I have. As you can see, his life was one of stuggle, addiction and finally redemption....

"Today we are not mourning the death of Raymond Eugene Pressley. We are celebrating the life he lived and his reunion with our Heavenly Father. 

Grandpa was a proud man, serving three years in the United States Marine Corp, spending 13 months in the Korean War.

In his early days, he was fond of having friends over and cooking out. He was the master of the grill serving up grilled steaks and baked potatoes. He retired from Town and Country Ford inCharlottewhere he was given the responsibility of opening the service department and closing it down. While at Town and Country he met some of his greatest friends. During his brief stay in a nursing home about three months ago, dementia had already settled into the depths of his mind, he constantly yelled out random names including “Momma” and “Pinkie”. We explained who these people were to the nurses. However, the nurses were puzzled when he would yell out “Lonzo! Lonzo!” but we knew what he meant. Alonzo was one of his greatest friends at Town and Country Ford. Ultimately, he was devoted to his friends, family and his career. 

He was proud of his children, David a Union County Police Officer, his daughter-in-law Tammy who he fondly called “Slammin’ Tammy,” his daughter Beth, a Registered Nurse, his son-in-law Chris who helped take care of him in the last year of his life.

 Grandpa also found tremendous joy in his grandchildren. His oldest grandson Drew followed in the footsteps of his uncle, becoming a Horry County Police Officer. Grandpa lovingly called Drew’s wife Heather “Half Pint”. There is Brandon whom he called “Bran-Man”. He is graduating this year and attendingCentralPiedmontCommunity College. Katelyn was his little girl who he called “Katie-Pooh”. She is also graduating this year and attending Coastal Carolina University. 

To Brandon and Katelyn, I want you two to know that Grandpa will be walking with you across the stage as you graduate. He is so proud of you as we all are. 

Then there is me a Graduate student at USC. He rarely called me Jessica preferring to affectionately mispronounce my name as “Jessic-er”. 

He was elated when he was able to visit his sister Jennie Mae and his brother Harold around Christmas time. Out of 8 children these were the remaining three. After the visits, he couldn’t stop talking about the joy that the visits brought him. 

Grandpa lost two of the most important people early in his life His first son, Raymond Eugene Pressley, Jr. died at a mere 13 months old and even though my nana Gwen or as he called her “Pinkie” and him divorced many years before, he came to see her right before she died of lung cancer in 1993 and never stopped loving her. 

Her death marked a milestone in my grandfather’s life. It was the time when he put down the bottle and picked up his heart and life. He became the model grandfather, teaching us all how to drive…which may be the reason for my lead foot. He was always willing to play a game of blackjack or Uno and told us stories of his time in the Marines, stories that we hold dear to our hearts. 

He had many sayings which probably wouldn’t make sense unless you knew him. After drinking a cold drink he would exclaim “Woo Woo Welches”. He would speak random Korean words that he learned in the service, one being “Ichiban”. When saying hello to someone he would say “Hello Wall”. This saying finally made sense when he was at the nursing home. He was a speed racer in his wheel chair and would bump into a wall and exclaim “Hello Wall”. Finally, he would say “Guess what”. We would ask him “What?” He would grin and affectionately say “I love you”. 

And lets not get started on his Gomer Pyle references…all he needed to do was look in the mirror. At the end of his life he spent most of his time watching Gunsmoke, Andy Griffith, Bonanza and Hogans Heros.

These are only a few of his many stories that we will always keep with us. He learned how to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life and in doing so taught all around him how to do the same thing. 

Overall, his life is a testimony to how our Lord can deliver and set free a person’s soul giving them a new lease on life. As he left this world he smiled his Raymond smile, letting us know that he was entering the arms of our Father.