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I’ve had Grace on my mind. Its Jonathan’s fault really. He got me talking about Les Miserables, and that started me thinking about the rich imagery portrayed in the play, how Jean Valjean and Javier so epitomize the difference between the Covenant of the Law and the Covenant of Grace.

Sometimes… When i think about it. I get that feeling. you know the one? I have to stop what i’m doing, and pause for a moment. Because my eyes start to get warm, and emotion wells up from my stomach in a rush. Because Grace is that powerful. Its so rich.

I wish I was better at explaining it to people. I think about my own life, and consider my failures. Because there are so many. A world full of sinners, and a God so holy even the smallest mistake is enough to render us unworthy to even be in His presence. And I consider a love so deep, His love, that it wasn’t enough just to let us fall away, punished righteously. He created me, knowing I would fail, and then gave up His own life for me.

Valjean was a man beaten by the law. you can’t win against it. Its harsh, unyielding and it doesn’t matter why you did what you did. The law doesn’t care. The law doesn’t forgive. The law has no mercy. The law made Valjean bitter, and though he was a prisoner for stealing bread to feed his starving family, he served 20 years.

But Grace. Grace cares. It cares more for you than it does for itself. The Law made Valjean a thief, stealing silver from the one man who had shown him kindness. And that man, a man who understood Grace, being wronged, did not just forgive, but gave of himself beyond anything that could be required. An act inexplicable really. Grace is inexplicable. Grace extends mercy when mercy doesn’t make sense. Grace loves the loveless. Grace will take a man who is bitter, angry, and broken, and make him like itself. Grace made Valjean an honest man, a man who would sacrifice himself on the behalf of others. A man who would know love, who would extend mercy to his greatest enemy, and who would give his life in exchange for the happiness of those he cared about.

And that Grace. It has been extended to us. to me. to you.
 

For the last two years I’ve been carrying a steel bar in my chest. It looked like this:

Last friday, I had it removed. It was the last step in the Nuss Procudure. Having had two years for the bones and cartilage of my rib cage to set in the new position, the bar was no longer necessary.

Here are some thoughts. The incisions hurt far far less than the broken bones. Recovery this time around has been orders of magnitude less difficult. Like last year, I have a cough during this process. I don’t recommend getting sick before your surgery.

Between the two incisions and the cough, I’ve been more tired than usual. You don’t realize how much work your body is doing just repairing itself.

If you’re interested in more about this procedure, I’ve written several posts a couple years ago detailing the process. you can find those posts here: Pop Goes the Sternum! or How I Had My Pectus Excavatum Corrected, the Aftermath.

In other news:

My life has been a complicated and tangled mass of stuff lately. I’d like to tell you all about it, but I can’t. Lets suffice it to say that if I appear distracted, its not you. I’ve just had a lot on my mind. Work has been busy, Church has been busy, and my Life has been busy (photography business, surgery, etc…).

I feel rather emotionally raw.

I’ve lost sleep. I’ve watched more tv/movies than is good for any normal human being. I’ve written moody poetry, some of which I actually like. I’ve seen God do amazing things. And last night, I cried three times watching Amistad. Take of that what you will.

 

Its true. I do not. I responded that I don’t consider myself a writer, perse. A poet, but not really a writer. Writers are concerned with a far larger scope in language.

I like to think of myself as an artist. A photographer and a poet, both mediums serve as a foil for helping me articulate and explore life. And while photography remains a pastime I hope to make my living from, poetry is the craft I hope to keep to myself.

There is a phenomenon in experience, when you do something you love, but pursue it for the purpose of gain, where you have to give up a part of your love for the craft in order to share it with someone else. Bloggers who have gone pro have complained of the phenomenon, seeking for a balance between pleasing their readership, and holding onto the joy that drove them to blog before it became about money.

I’m willing to subject myself to that dilemma with my photography, because I believe the joy of being able to use my camera every day without the distraction of another field is worth sharing myself with the public.

But poetry is my private conceit. I write my poetry for myself, and unlike other aspects of my creativity, I enjoy reading my own verse, more so than many greater in this craft than I. This may make me egotistical, perhaps a bit narcissistic, but thats ok. Because its mine you see.

I reveal this to you, not to drive you away. I like your attentions dear reader. I like showing you my poems, and I sincerely hope you find them of worth. But I write them on my own timetable. And I fear to try and rush them. I don’t want to make my poetry about expectations, yours or my own, for expectations rob me of the joy of discovery.

 

I think its time to redo the whole walljm site. from scratch. admin, design, architecture, rss, all of it.

I tell you this, because I assume you are interested in the minutia. and because publishing is free. and because i’ll probably not do it otherwise. and because i needed to post something new. ;) 

What to say really. That is the eternal question on the bloggers mind. Me, i mostly ignore it, as evidenced by my infrequent posts. You see, i hate to water down my content, and I’ve been uninspired. Dry spells, they come and go. And what do you to overcome them? Sometimes, you can get away with simply talking about the dry spell. Like I’m doing now, but that only works once, then you need to post something of substance.

I’d like to blame it on the winter. Theres a good chance she is the culprit. But the truth is, emotionally, I’ve felt pretty good, and lets all be honest. Contentment is a poor muse. The best thoughts, the poetic ones, the deep and interesting ones, those stem from extremes. Emotional highs and lows, drama, peaks and valleys. But its winter and cold. Nature is boring. Work is good, not too much, not too little. Church is busy (as always), and on a good keel. Life is bland. :) and I like it.

Photography will resume more in earnest in the spring, when i have a chance to get outside without feeling like a Popsicle. I have a new computer, which has greatly reduced the amount of time i have to wait for photoshop to do simple things like, you know, open. ;)

I’ve rambled. And I’ve bored you. I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better next time. 

I’m writing free form here. I have no idea what I want to say. I know only that the need to say something is more urgent than my natural desire to remain unheard. There is a kind of mood, a certain melancholy, brought on by anxiety and hints of disappointment. It settles like a thick blanket over your heart, which beats slowly, almost sluggishly in your chest. Times like these come and go. A time to question. It isn’t a moment wholly disliked. There is a part of you that finds value in the mental state, motivation to create, and insight into a rich world of substance and emotion.

Phrases float in and out of your mind. Rage against the machine, you view the world philosophically, can I, will I, am I? Eventually your heart settles on certain facts. Not expressed in concrete forms such as words, but the Idea of Him. That’s enough most times. Just the thought of Him, His being there. In this world, questions, conclusions, battles, victories and defeats are played out in brief moments, with emotions that move and beat against each other like waves in an ocean, not violently, connected, testing the lines, pulling, pushing, praying, resting.

Moments like this breed discontent, cravings for release from pressure, solitude, company, companionable silence. Worlds of art, like the soft glow of candles, flicker and flame, breathing, growing, pulsing, fading. In the end, you take a deep breath, and the outside world asserts itself. Your mark is what is left behind, the output of a drifting mind, a free form stream of language, like liquid, languishing on the page.  

Its been a dizzying few weeks. All sorts of emotionally stretching activities. Being an entrepreneur is emotionally hard. ;) at least, at first.

So. the ads at theknot.com have been up since last Friday. it has been almost a week, and I have received two email inquiries (from the knot i believe), one which i met with yesterday. And one call from a bridesmaid of a couple whose wedding i shot 3 years ago. Three contacts in a week. not bad. :)

This should make me excited, and it does. Very. :) but unexpectedly, I found myself up against feelings of doubt and personal ego. I found myself feeling that they might not like me. and feeling the pressure to perform up to expectations, expectations i had less a firm grasp upon than I liked.

This all, I think, will pass. I’m new to this kind of situation. I want so badly for things to go really well (and honestly, I believe they will. don’t mistake this for a pity party.) that I feel more pressure than normal.

It has revealed to me a side of myself I wasn’t fully aware of though. I’m a worrier. ;) I come from a long line of worriers. I don’t worry in the traditional sense, but I do tend to dwell on things much longer than is profitable, wondering how it will turn out, and feeling unsettled by the prospects of it going a direction I don’t like.

This is something I think has had its subtle fingers in my life for a long time, and frankly, I welcome the opportunity to dig it out. I can’t sleep when I travel because I’m afraid I’ll miss something. I tend to meddle in places too long when I shouldn’t because I don’t like not being in control of my own destiny. I don’t like to trust God, or other people, until I know where they are heading, because I want to be in control, and when I’m not, I worry.

My natural tendency, when confronted with this problem is to stop caring. Thats a clever way of avoiding the problem I think. It doesn’t build anything, doesn’t strengthen anything. No risk, no reward.

So heres to practice. practicing trusting God, not by giving up, but by accepting that what God is going to do is going to be good, and whatever the circumstances, those i can simply enjoy as experiences, no more, no less. 

2007 was a big year. At least, I think it was. *thinks* Yes. Yes it was. Don’t ask me to iterate why. I can’t recall the specifics. I’m bad at that.

Reading Jennifer’s blog made me want to write something. Because she put my blog on her links list (yay!) and I don’t want to be the blog on the link list that hasn’t been updated in forever. :)

I can’t remember exactly what I was doing early this year. I don’t recall it being all that important. I do remember Jon leaving for Dallas in early February, and driving through the worst ice storm in years. Warren and Athena got married that same weekend and I spent 35 hours driving in 3 days.

2007 was the first year I have lived alone. My whole life. I discovered, after a brief few months that I didn’t like it. But I adjusted and am pretty happy with things.

I bought the last of the necessary equipment for my professional photography, put up a Professional Photo Site advertising my work, and after one false start, started advertising on the Knot. Ads should be up today. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve been talking and planning and working on getting this started for years, and it looks like things may finally take off.

I get out more. I had to. For several months, I hardly left my apartment, and though I enjoyed catching up on years worth of lost TV :), I was a little depressed. But I have great friends, who I found I had to make some effort to keep in touch with.

I discovered that I don’t like living without the internet. I spent 6 months without it, from Nov 2006 – Mar 2007. I found it cut me off from people I care about. I know people (mostly techy snobs (i love you guys)) say that Facebook is evil, but truth told, it prevents my family and friends from retreating into their little holes.

Because, I come from a family of Introverts (mostly all of us, to one degree or another), and many many of my best friends are introverts. Without the internet, we don’t speak to each other. Much. ;)

I’ve discovered that more than Facebook, I really really like Twitter. Best app ever. Honest. When my Grandma died this Fall, half my extended family got hooked up. It was the best way to keep track of a dozen or more families, and keep them updated about her and the funeral arrangements. And now that most of them are on, I hear and know about whats going on with them in ways I simply never would have otherwise. And, they are talking more to each other.

The naysayers seriously underestimate the damage distance can have on relationships. Twitter makes me feel close to people I consider important, when they live halfway across the country.

I traveled some this year. Not overseas, but I did go to Louisville to see Tamara (had so much fun) and went down to South Carolina to see the Bergeys and meet Drew for the first time. I had really missed the Bergeys. For a couple I’ve only met three times in person, the Bergeys are some of my very best friends. The first two times I met them (Jenn’s graduation, then Daniel for the first time and Jenn for the second time at their wedding) was hectic and busy. But this time, I got them all to myself, had time to relax, talk and just enjoy company. I consider it the highlight of my year. :)

Well. I’ve spoken long. I did more, but these are the really important things. At least, the important things to me. 

I have for a long time wanted to participate in the STL Bloggers meetups, but for the longest time they were scheduled on Wed nights, a time that is permanently booked for me. So I was pretty excited when they scheduled one on a Friday, last night.

I met some neat folks. And if you are one of those neat folks dropping by, let me first offer you my apologies for the mess. ;) I started redesigning walljm.com a few months ago, and err, got stalled. So part of walljm.com is different than the rest.

In the spirit of linkyness, here are the websites of people I met:

The State of Discontent is Jaelithe (her real name!), a writer. Very cool, who apparently has a sister (i think) who is getting married. Send her my way! (JasonWallPhoto.com).

Courtey Watson makes bracelets out of data wire. Crafty. I met her only briefly at the end. You can buy those cool little wire bracelets here on her etsy shopping site.

The Cupcake Project girl is named Stef (full name i don’t remember, sorry!). Her husband is getting into photography professionally also. The cupcake site is a great concept. very cool.

Dwight is a wannabe writer and blogger (so he says). Wears a leather jacket and swaggers. ;) He writes thrillers in novel form. Sweet.

Nothing Gained and Nothing Lost is the blog of Farrel, a single mommy with reddish hair. I didn’t get to speak much with her, but she writes technical manuals for a software development firm.

Bill Streeter runs LoFi Saint Louis, a video blog centered around bands and music mostly. Cool guy. One of the first video bloggers on the vlog scene.

Susanisk i met only briefly also. She works for a PR firm, beyond that, you’ll have to visit her blog.

So great fun. There were 25-30 people there, a number of which i didn’t meet, and some who i didn’t get websites for. Here’s to keeping in touch! 

Every so often, here on walljm.com, its time for me to talk about myself, to let all my adoring fans know what goes on in my life. I write these only sporadically, because to be terribly honest, my life, albeit busy, is pretty awfully boring. :)

Here at walljm.com we are busily ignoring the fact that Christmas seems to be just around the corner. There are things afoot here, but I’ll not tell you about them now. What I will instead tell you about is my job. Which I have come to dislike much less than in past years. During this last year I worked on three different projects, found out that a project I worked on 4 years ago and despaired of ever seeing come to fruition was finally put into production. Hurrah!! I’ve found I still don’t really like Java, but that I understand it better now than I used to. Hmm? Maybe I’m getting better as a developer.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on becoming a full time photographer. On the contrary. I’m really close to thrusting myself out into the cold cold world of entrepreneurialism. In fact, you can see my first tentative step by going to JasonWallPhoto.com and checking me out. I had planned to start advertising in Saint Louis in November, but a series of things kept me from achieving that goal. Not to be deterred, I plan to launch myself in January. So Saint Louis Brides pay attention. You’ll be seeing my name soon. :)

If you’re a Family or a Senior from High School or College, or just a guy or girl looking to have a nice photo taken, don’t feel left out. I have room for you too!

And, because I’m such a cool guy (really, I am.) I also do product photography. So if you’re a business needing good photos of items, give me a call, or if you’re just an average joe trying to sell something online or on Ebay or Amazon.com and need good photos to compliment your great products, give me call. I can help.

I can’t think of much else to say. No major life changes here. My grandmother went home to be with the Lord two weeks ago, and I will write more about that later. My extended family has discovered Twitter! Yay! And this will do I think.  

She had straight blond hair and sharp features. She was writing in her journal. Her penmanship was a neat rounded print, and she was curled up in the seat of the metro car. She had a brown leather bag the color of burnt autumn leaves. She wore a black dress that hung between her knees propped up against the seat ahead of her. She had grey stockings and boots the color of her travel bag. Her face had the far away look of the travel weary. She would stare out the window in between writing in her journal. 

  • good harmony anticipates the melody, at times encouraging it, at times resisting it, but always anticipating it.
  • like harmony, the purpose of rhyme, meter, pattern and other poetic elements in verse is to anticipate the meaning.
  • harmony should never follow the melody blindly. in this way, it is like a marriage relationship. the melody should love the harmony, and the harmony should submit to the melody.
  • what separates poetry from prose is the explicit form. we use rhyme, alliteration, repetition and patterns to focus and add potency and meaning to the words. often this lets us be more concise, relying on the form to fill in the blanks.

 

ef-fu-sence (ĭ-fyū’zhənce) pronunciation
n.

1. The state of unrestrained outpouring of feeling.
2. Being in the grip of a feeling that makes you want to effuse.
 

Walljm.com has slowly been evolving through the last 7 years that I’ve been blogging. This represents the 6th version and a slightly new philosophy of presentation.

At this point, none of the sub pages have been converted yet, a task that I will get to when time permits and I’ve been able to think out how I want them to look exactly. I’ve wanted to implement something using a bigger footer for some time, but hadn’t been able to come up with something I liked.

The new face of walljm.com is one post per page. This reflects the slower nature of my posting style. I’ve removed the linklog from the normal stream and put it down below, but I’ll probably include it in the archives. The most recent photo and/or regular post will appear on the front page. I’ll probably add some navigational aids below the post for jumping either to the archive for that month, or for clicking through posts one at a time.

I hope you like it. I do. :) 

but no time to sort and post. But the real reason the photo blog is sitting idle, is because what I have in the bin doesn’t really express what I want to say right now.

For all those who know me, but hear from me little, life for me has been consuming. Mostly at work. The project I’m currently on has required a great deal of concentration and I’ve had little time to devote to other things. *sigh* It sounds like a poor excuse. At the very least, its a common one.

What you get, dear reader, out of all this is more writing than usual. I haven’t been totally void of creative energy. I’ve been posting poetry, but mostly, I’ve been working on something brand new. Its not ready yet, but I want it to be ready soon, so it has consumed all my available creative energy. If you’re eager to see it, then send me an email or shoot me an IM (AIM: walljm2002, Jabber/GTalk: walljm@gmail.com) and bug me to finish it. ;)

 

but unlike Lore I adore Fall. By many lengths it is my favorite season, the crisp air and clear skies as the temperature drops and pulls the haze out of the sky and lets you see for miles. Many tout the rich vibrant colors, reds and oranges, earthy browns in great flourishes of classical elegance, a final bow before the desolation of winter. But for me, it is the smells and the cool touch of the wind on my face, and air that seems to have more oxygen in it than other times.

I like culminations, the golden times. In stories, it is the ending I want, and in movies I live for that moment when the protagonist triumphs over what seemed were overwhelming odds. That time when the task is complete, when fruits appear, and worries and fears of failure are permanently laid to rest. This reveals in me a character flaw. I am too proud to let go of my own desires and simply enjoy the benefits of the now.

I do not trust easily. That isn’t to say that I’m easily bothered. I’m a rare example of one whose temperament is nigh unassailable. But I accomplish this mostly by refusing to care, because its easier to not care than to trust.

I have been reminded lately of His love for me. I have been reminded also that life, this life, is very unimportant. That desiring the "good life" is worth little when compared to the life we’ll live eternally. It should be simple to do the math, so accept that pursuit of anything outside of God’s will, of anything that isn’t what He commanded is of little value.

Being reminded, of course, is not the same as accepting, and I cling to the narrower view, caught up in my wants. I have a short memory it seams, and most things pass, if you let them.

Still, I yearn for the Fall. Its comforting. A warm blanket. It reminds my emotions of that idea of home, where you feel safe. It wakes in me the longing for the beautiful and the romantic, a soft muse whispering to my inner poet. A time for reflection, and even genuflection. And perhaps, this year I wont forget so easily, and the reminders of His presence, elements that feel like personal notes, just for me, will sink in deeper as the cool wind blows. 

But its a strange I like. Mostly the style of her words makes me contemplative, and helps me get in touch with that emotional aspect of myself that is most creative. Its like she is thinking out loud, only in crisp well thought out sentences. It feels natural, and makes you feel like you are somehow best friends, though you’ve never met and have only actually conversed on two, perhaps three occasions.

 

I’ve been busy, and I’ve been negligent of certain responsibilities. I understand the need to converse regularly with you, those who stop by to see if anything has changed, but other things vie for my attention. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be motivated enough, efficient enough to do everything I desire. Hmph. Well, perhaps.

My vacation a couple weeks ago, for those whom I have yet to speak to, was good. It was especially good to see cousins I hadn’t seen for 15 years or more. It was odd, not in a bad way, but strange because it happens infrequently, to see them grown up, married with kids. To watch them interact with their daughters and spouses. It was really good to find out what has been going on in their lives, and to reacquaint myself with who they were and what they had become. Familiar faces who were no longer the people who I knew as a child, and seen through eyes that were no longer childish. In some ways it was like I was meeting some for the first time, people I really didn’t know, but with whom I shared a bond with. All in all, it was a lovely time.

I also, while I was in Michigan, had the chance to meet some of my fathers old college friends. My parents don’t talk much about their earlier years, though I have heard stories at different times. It was fun to watch my dad interact, to be so familiar with people I had never met. Its strange (though it shouldn’t be really) to see my father as someone outside of the image I had built of him as his son. It was also fun to realize that my dad was the kind of guy I would have hung out with in college. I see more clearly parts of myself that are like him.

It was also fun to meet his friends, friends he had known in his youth. Its funny. I think my parents have few friends who they are completely themselves around. Watching my dad around those people brought out a side of him I only usually see when its just our family. It made these people seem close to me, even though I barely knew them.

In other areas of my life, work has been a bit tumultuous. I’ve been dropped into a situation that is confused, stressed and fraught with risk. I find myself not much liking my options or what is being asked of me. It distracts me and prevents me from really concentrating on anything else when I’m at home. I don’t like stress. I don’t like uncertainty, especially when I didn’t volunteer for it. But I suppose it is these times that God uses to build character. Nothing improves in life without an accompanying kind of pain. It is the inheritance of Adam and the curse he left all his children.

I’ll close with a short telling of my weekend, which was spent in a state of nervous anxiety. My hard drive, the one i keep all my photos on, crashed on Friday afternoon. I usually keep a backup off site, but murphy being who he is, this week i had wiped my secondary backup to use as storage while on vacation. The truly horrifying part was that Naomi’s engagement photos had been lost, and I had not yet filled her order. It was a truly sickening feeling, as i watched the files and directories turn into meaningless dots and squibles. This story has a happy ending though, and I emerge wiser. Using several file recover programs, and finally settling on GetDataBack, i was able to recover most if not all the photos i lost, and all of Naomi’s photos, which were sent off to the lab yesterday. Truly, God was gracious to me. Now, i will have to formulate a more robust plan for data backup. I don’t ever want to have to go through that again. 

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