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Thursday, December 25, 2008

gold


Every Christmas season I am reminded of one of the gifts brought to Christ at His birth by the wise men: gold. I often wonder what gift I could give to my Savior for the many gifts He has given to me; what could I place on the altar for Him.

In Job 23:10 it reads that, "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."

It dawned on me years ago that, though Christ gave me the gift of life, my gift to Him is that very life He gave me - He wants ALL of me back. Am I willing to sacrifice what He has given me and return it ALL back to Him? Am I willing to trust Him, follow Him and allow Him to refine me so that I may become something more than I could create on my own?

It is my true desire to show Him my love, adoration and sincere devotion by allowing Him to make me into a gift fit for His kingdom.

This song is one of my very favorites:

"GOLD" (from Camille Claudel)
lyrics by Nan Knighton music by Frank Wildhorn
as performed & recorded by Linda Eder


I wonder if when all is done
Anyone heard my voice
But from the start, we have no choice
Our journeys just begin

I'll never know if I was right
Did I fight hard enough?
Or when the battles grew to rough
Should I have given in?

But here I stand and swear to you
I did the best that I could do
I know my voice was just a whisper
But someone may have heard
There were nights the moon above me stirred
And let me grab a hold
My hands have touched the gold!

My heart's been driven by extremes
Blind with dreams, tight with fear
But still, God knows that I was here
And I was so alive!

So now I lay the past to rest
For in the end I did my best
You have to live the life you're given
And never close your eyes
You hold on and stare into the skies
And burn against the cold
For any moment, you might find the gold

And there was joy
Through it all
And I am standing tall

I know my voice was just a whisper
But someone must have heard
There were nights the moon above me stirred
And let my life take hold
I rode across that sky
And once I touched the gold!

Here in my own two hands
I once held the gold

You have been caught Jey Walking! (you're lookin' good!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the battles i face



Who am I today and what battle must I face? What armor should I put on?

Am I fighting as a man - to be a man - to be be masculine - to understand masculinity - to be accepted by the world of men - to know the secrets of the brotherhood?

Am I fighting as a white person to prove that I am not the stereotype or maybe I am - that I too wish I was not judged by the color or lack of color of my skin? Must I prove that I have a dream as well?

Am I fighting as a brother, a son, a grandson, a nephew or a cousin to connect my family dots and repair what may be broken or find what my be lost?

Am I fighting as a friend to keep friends close - to find support from those I trust and to give support to those I care about?

Am I fighting as Latter-day Saint (Mormon) though I am excommunicated or maybe because I am - to prove that I am faithful - that I belong - that I am worthy?

Am I fighting as a Jew descendent - standing up against hatred and misunderstanding - or am I fighting to prove that I am apart of the family too even though I accept Christ as my Savior and not just a nice guy or an radical prophet/rabbi?

Am I fighting as a man struggling with same-sex attraction - proving that I can change through the power of the Atonement - while supporting and loving my gay brothers and sisters who don't seek change?

Am I fighting as an abused and neglected child who experienced the failing bureaucracy (are there any bureaucracy that are successful?) of the foster care system that is a part of a society that so often forgets that foster children are victims/survivors - not criminals and that with enduring love - any child can reach their potential?

Am I fighting as an HIV positive person who faces the stigma of a disease that is deemed by many to be less "honorable" than fighting against something like cancer? Am I fighting to educate others so that one day funding isn't entirely cut because of ignorance? Am I fighting to keep loved ones at a distance so their eventual loss isn't so dramatic - am I fighting to accept it all and learn to love more carefully? Am I living to die or dying to live - am I fighting to make the most out of what I have?

Am I fighting as an advocate for drug abuse prevention - so that people around the world, especially youth, will realize the dangers of the drugs they choose to take - the substances that destroy so many lives?

Am I fighting as an sex addict - someone who has put everything including his and others' lives on the line for fleeting moments of pleasure that merely act as my drug - clouding the pain of a life full of loss, abandonment and rejection?

Am I fighting as a American for democracy, freedoms, rights and privileges?

Am I fighting as a voter - someone who regardless of political scandals, lies and conspiracies - still puts his faith into a broken system - hoping that eventually the change he is seeking will come?

Am I fighting as a creator, a visionary and an artist for authenicity, originality and integrity? Am I fighting the - sometimes - thin line between reality and imagination - dreams and actuality? Am I fighting to create selfishly or share selflessly?

Am I fighting as a student - to learn all that I can and share that knowledge to those around me - freely and without arrogance? Am I fighting to learn or learning to fight?

Am I fighting as a human - a member of mankind - to live long enough to see people change their hearts and seek peace and love with one another more often?

What battle will I choose to face today? With so many battles - so many enemies - how am I to win and overcome?

"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward." Hebrews 10:35

"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

"Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."
2 Kings 6:16

You have been caught Jey Walking! (and fighting too!)






























Friday, December 19, 2008

do you believe in magic?


The other night I took one of those 5-Hour Energy drinks - to stay up while I continued cleaning up the mistakes of my semester long procrastination. Around 11 pm I decided I was hungry and decided to go to McDonald's. I went to the one of 6th Avenue and 14th Street instead of my usual 7th Avenue and 14th Street eat-something-before-I-get-on-the-train-home location.

The change was somewhat refreshing. In fact it was clean. The cashier was kind and quick. There were no more than 20 people in the place and this location is large. It was quiet and actually peaceful - for a fast food place and McDonald's in NYC - no less. I got fresh, hot fries for the first time in forever. There was no employees yelling at each other. No one walking around soliciting people for money and no one loitering . It was quite the experience.

I got my food and sat down and as I began to eat - The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) began to play. To be real honest - I thought a tear might come rolling down my face at that moment. I wondered to myself if the energy drink had transported me to a hallucinogenic dimension. Where was I - New York City's Union Square was outside but inside it felt like I was in Small Town USA. Another song came on that is about going to Toytown but for some reason it sounded like Georgia - and that warmed my heart a little more. Maybe it was the magic of the Christmas season - it all seemed like an out of body experience.

Just as I was swept away with dreams of a snow covered New York City Christmas - in walked three white guys who - in my opinion - may not realize that they're white. Their clothing choices said it all - baggie pants - NASCAR racing jackets (one was for Double Stuff Oreos - maybe he thinks he is an "oreo") and Yankees hats cocked up and to the side. Even more disturbing was their language - there is nothing worse than anyone - but certainly white guys - throwing around the "N" word.

I soon left the McDonald's magic to return to my computer and the nightmare of the finals season - but now it's over - so there's some magic!

You've been caught Jey Walking!

Monday, December 15, 2008

something's coming


http://www.westsidestory.com/site/level2/lyrics/something.html

During this fast I recently held I requested a blessing from a friend. In the blessing it was mentioned to me that my life was on the Lord's timetable - as I believe all of our lives are. I felt something different though - I have since felt a deep urgency to get my life in order; to no longer procrastinate and to prepare for something that is coming - just as Tony sang in West Side Story - but most likely unrelated.

A few days later I sort of had a half-conscious dream of a name - the name of a foundation/organization. I am in school for Nonprofit Management and I had a dream about a foundation that doesn't exist, yet - is it a sign or just a dream?

The thing is I care about three things a lot:

HIV/AIDS related issues and policies
Foster Children's Rights Advocacy / Child Abuse Prevention
Drug Abuse Education & Prevention

So I guess I wonder what it is I am here for...what's my purpose? What does God want me to do to better myself and to serve Him?

Is it to manage a nonprofit, be an advocate/lobbyist, write a blog/books/essays, run for public office, be a motivational speaker OR am I supposed to live the gospel, be a good friend, a loving brother and testify of Jesus Christ and His gospel of peace and salvation and not worry about others so much (is that considered living the gospel)?

Today was my last session of my Making A Difference: Global, Organizational & Individual Perspectives on Social Change class.
We had our last discussion stemming from these three thought-provoking questions:

What kind of change do you plan to bring about?

What does "social change" mean to you?

What kind of leadership is needed to bring about this kind of change?

Whether I live until September 21st 2013 or 2079 - I realize that I cannot continue to waste my time here on Earth - not when there is so much work I could do - so many things I can contribute with the many gifts, talents and abilities I have been blessed with.

I will say what a friend told me - I will not mock my journey. After coming so far, being blessed so much and being saved so many times - how can I turn my back now - how can I mock the journey I have made thus far? I can not. I will not.

Just some thoughts for today. I will try to tell a joke next time - I don't want to be accused of being so serious all the time.

You have been caught Jey Walking! (a little struttin' too - tisk tisk)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

faith, hope & love


I visited my doctor yesterday and my T-cells went back up from 303 to 360. My viral load went down from 81,000 to 66,000. This is great news, but not a significant change.

I do, however, completely acknowledge the faith, hope & love of the many people who fasted, prayed and/or went to the temple on my behalf and others with HIV/AIDS. I acknowledge the great power, love and grace bestowed upon me and others by God. It could have been worse; my T-cells could have dropped to 246 and my viral load could have gone up to 96,000 which would be REALLY close to being diagnosed with AIDS.

I decided that, though the results were good, I would still start my medicinal treatment when school ends next week. After discussion of my options (thank goodness I have any) I am going to start my first drug cocktail of Viramune (http://us.viramune.com/) and Truvada (http://www.truvada.com/). I only have to take 3 pills once a day. What a blessing and how marvelous is the advancement of science and medicine - people used to take anywhere from 12 - 20 pills three times a day or more. Not to mention that EACH pill would cost between $40 and 100. My medicine is provided to me for free. Like I said, God loves me - I can't possibly doubt that He does.

I just wanted to share this update with you and thank you for your continued support - it means so much to me. I know that God blesses those who bless others - I pray that God shines His light and love upon you, especially during this joyous and beautiful holiday season.

love Jey

You have been caught Jey Walking! (thank you, come again!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

procrastination, frustration & revelation

These three words seem to sum up all of my experience in 2008.

Every year, around this time, I ponder my mistakes, regrets, grudges still held and fleeting moments of enlightenment.

I usually send out an email in lieu of a picture of myself, alone, inserted into a classic "Holiday" card. The one year I did that it costs me nearly $50 so I vowed not to do it again until I am married - so at least I have someone else to talk about and be in the picture with.

This year I will still email - but due to the downfall of the economy, I am merely attaching this post on my blog to people I love and care about. (I know, lucky them)

As it is with tradition I will run through this year's past events and milestones - some of them you may not have heard of yet - so it's like a gift.

January

A new year, last semester of school and I just ended my internship with the GA Secretary of State - I was looking for a smooth 11 weeks towards degree completion. I went back to work for The Art Institute of Atlanta, where I was attending, in the Accounting Office. I continued to record my piano music with friend, Phil Hall. I applied for the lucrative MTV Networks Summer Associate Program but was later told I was not qualified or acceptable - ouch! I said good-bye to Jennifer - my girlfriend - as she went back to Columbus, GA to prepare to leave for the MTC. President Gordon B Hinckley died - I still miss him.

February

Jennifer left to the MTC. Another Single's Awareness Day (Valentine's Day) goes by me. I bought a new laptop - my first! LEAP YEAR! (really, I don't know why that's exciting for me)

March

My 10th anniversary of March 1st - I can't believe how fast times go by. Joined forces with the Clark Howard team to help Habitat for Humanity finish 5 houses in one day. I finished my BA Advertising degree from The Art Institute of Atlanta. Within a week afterward found out I was accepted into Milano The New School for Management & Urban Policy in New York City. I would be pursuing a Master's of Science in Nonprofit Management degree. I moved in with Jacob Terry - great guy!

April

General Conference - first solemn assembly I remember viewing - but I was sad because I could not be counted. (I am hoping I will be able to next time) Started a PT job at The Fresh Market in the bakery - remember the posts earlier this year? I brought my family history out of the dust and tried to get some work put together - thanks to Jeff Babcock. I broke my silence once again and wrote an essay to North Star - a website for LDS people dealing or wishing to help those who struggle with same-sex attraction. Nate Mortensen, Geoff Davies and I journey to the Jacksonville, FLO-RIDA to chill with Lt. Cliff May before he departs to Japan for his military duties flying helicopters

May


Jennifer completes her stay at the MTC and leaves for Mongolia to begin the end of her mission. My brother Steven gets engaged to girlfriend Katie. I officially accepted my acceptance into graduate school - which was terrifying. I started working for friend, Mindy Spritz, at the Spruill Center for the Arts. I opened up to my friend at church, Clint, about struggling with same-sex attraction - we become better friends because, well, we share the struggle and he's awesome! I start my new blog - duh - THIS ONE!

June

I walked across the stage of the the Georgia World Congress Center and graduated - just after they cleaned it up from a tornado that rushed through downtown Atlanta. I attended Journey Into Manhood - it was quite an experience. I am finding out a lot about myself - the way I treat myself and how far I have come in this journey called life.

July

My 29th Birthday! I found out I could help produce/have children someday despite being HIV positive - I was shocked! Friends said temporary good-byes to Cliff & Jill May as they left the US to live in Japan for three years. (I am planning to go to Japan next summer) Spruill Summer Camp ends - it was so fun and such a great experience. I stopped working at The Fresh Market as well.

August

My grandmother Carole's health is still declining but she turns 81. My mother turns 60 despite struggling with AIDS for over 15 years. Amazing 2008 Beijing Olympics takes place - Michael Phelps wins eight gold medals and I saw it happen. My awesome friends join me in my farewell to Atlanta party that was just too wonderful - words can not express. I played one last song for the North Point Ward sacrament meeting, "Because I Follow Thee" - parting is such sweet sorrow - I really do miss my Atlanta friends - I feel I have taken them all for granted. I moved to New York City (Brooklyn) with acquaintance Martin Harwood and within a few days I lost my new phone and pair of Rx glasses in a cab. Welcome to New York City!

September

Ty Mansfield comes to NYC and a few of us enjoy Long Beach on Long Island on Labor Day - a day full of riptides and lifeguards! Classes start - I must be so used to art school that I forgot to bring a notebook and pen to class - too funny - I felt real stupid. Within a month of living in NYC - I get mugged on a Sunday night but am not hurt - my new laptop and passport are taken from me, sadness. Again, welcome to New York City!

October

Martin & Mim get married and I move out to a temporary apartment in Manhattan while my permanent place gets renovated. General Conference felt different, but sweet. Visited Atlanta for a week to get some of my belongings. Enjoyed a day with friends at an Apple Festival and Pumpkin Patch. My doctor tells me it's time to start medicinal treatment and I finally have to face the fact that I am not invincible.

November

Finally moved into my NEW semi-permanent apartment on Madison Avenue. Senator Barack Obama elected first black US President! (I voted as a New Yorker!) Watched the NYC Marathon from my livingroom - love my Central Park/5th Avenue view. Special Stake Conference with a visit from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - awesome! Thanksgiving Day celebration with Seth Hill - "Enchantment Under the Leaves" - what a great time. Held a special World AIDS Day fast - over 40 people joined me.

December

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin dies - another spiritual giant gone. Completed first semester of graduate school - somewhat unscathed. Looking forward to my first NYC Christmas and New Year's Eve celebration, (though without family) while starting medicinal treatment this week despite doubts and fears.

I guess that's all - it still amazes me that so much fits into one year. Here's to the new year 2009 which will, undoubtedly, bring with it opportunities and challenges to face and learn from and maybe a few revelations along the way.

I love all of my friends and family wherever you are and hope and pray that each of you continues to celebrate the life you have with those you cherish so deeply. I hope that as we tread forward into the dawning of a new era - we can all face the opportunities and challenges we are given without forgetting to remember He who walks with and watches over us has provided a way to that eternal joy we all seek.

L'Chaim!

love always, your friend and brother Jey

You have been caught Jey Walking (like an Egyptian!)

Monday, December 8, 2008

reaching


Yesterday, in church, a young woman told us about how she had asked God, "how should I worship today?" The answer came to her, "Worship is reaching, reaching is worship."

I immediately replaced the word worship with a hundred different words - but the word grow - in its many forms - rested upon my mind the longest.

God, how can I grow today?

Growth is reaching, reaching is growth.

This has stayed with me since. I have always known this to be true, but maybe not as much in the spiritual sense. As a former athlete, I was taught the importance of muscular growth and care. I learned that one must set goals and reach them in order to have muscles expand. In order for the muscles to be useful, one must stretch them out before rigorous use, like a race or a game. If a muscle is damaged, there are certain ways to repair it over time.

A young man spoke about turning 30 and the concern he had regarding such a milestone. He was concerned about his physical ability and health and wanted to make sure he was in great shape for his thirties. He read a guide to prepare for a new physical fitness regiment in which the first step is to consult a doctor before making any major changes to one's daily routine. After he found out he was in great shape and had the go ahead to apply a new, rigorous workout to his 30 year old life - he pondered about his spiritual 30. He wondered why he had not worried about where he was with his testimony and spiritual growth. He then made the comment that maybe the scriptures should have a tag on them that reads: Please consult God before starting a rigorous spiritual regiment. How often do we just binge on spirituality in an effort to become closer to God, but leave God out of the process along the way?

I guess I needed to hear about growth yesterday - whether it be in the way I worship, take care of my body or spirit and also the way I treat others.

In Sunday School I read Mormon 7-9, in which Mormon is telling the Lamanites of our time what they must do to receive celestial glory. At the top of the list was that they needed to lay down their weapons of war and delight no more in the shedding of blood. I pondered how I could apply that in my life, though admittedly, I am not a descendant of the Lamanites. Then it came to me that I have various "weapons of war" that I use to battle or hurt others and even myself everyday. Weapons like hate, fear, doubt, sarcasm, lying, stealing, cheating, mockery, gossip, fighting or contention. These weapons can also replace "shedding of blood" - I doubt that I delight in murder, but how much do I delight in the misery of others - heck myself - sometimes I enjoy conflict. At first, I thought, I don't really delight in doing any of these things and yet there are some on the list and some not listed that I do and continue to do even when I know they cause myself or others pain or anguish. Fortunately, I have been able to recognize my faults as I grown up and been able to reduce my weapons of war and my "delight" in the shedding of blood or causing someone else pain or anguish.

So, how can I continue to grow?

Mormon tells me the answer is accepting and living the gospel. Now that's a reach for me, but I don't have to reach all the way to the Celestial Kingdom now - nor could I ever - based upon my own strength or merit. That's why I have a Savior - one who will reach the distance I can not. He is the one who will match my growth times infinity. The first step to growth is reaching. Reaching is growth; in the spiritual sense - it is humility.

In response to President Benson's statements on humility, a young man in Sunday School made the comment that he is weary of praying for humility because it will only bring more trials upon him. Truthfully spoken I think because humility is obtained through trials. However, I responded to him with a story I was inspired to read this last week in scripture study - the story of Moses. Moses saw God face to face and was transfigured before him to be in the presence of glory. It took time for Moses to regain his own natural strength once God left. Moses comments that, "Now for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." (Moses 1:10) Listen to the sound of humility in that verse. Immediately after this is said Satan arrives to tempt Moses. It is because Moses was in the depth of humility that he could fight against Satan - for Satan had no glory. Moses called upon God for help to get rid of Satan because of humility - he knew God was God and He would add to his strength during a very overwhelming trial. My point I made to the young man is that trials will come regardless of whether you pray for humility or not. The idea is that while you pray for humility you are in essence praying for God - not to take away the trial - BUT to guide you - as He did Moses - in fighting against Satan when the trials and temptations are upon you.

I just wanted to share what I had learned yesterday - I found it all to be enlightening and helpful.

Maybe I am only 5'10 here on Earth - but I hope that as I continue to obtain humility and strength from Lord and as I grow - I will spiritually be at least 10 feet tall or maybe bigger just for effect.

You have been caught Jey Walking! (or "growing" for that matter)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the distance you have come


I thought these lyrics came to me at just the right point in my life - The Lord knows I learn best through music and this song really moves me - I hope you agree (to listen: go to his website)

The Distance You Have Come

music and lyrics by Scott Alan
www.scottalan.net

I don't know where tomorrow finds me
The only thing I know is where I'm standing now
In this life there's never been a guarantee
Which seems to be the only guarantee I've found

But keep your eyes upon the road - keep driving
It won't be long until you see a sign that says that you're arriving
And when you reach that day
When you conquer what's behind you
Don't forget the fight it took to get you there
And when you reach the top of the mountain you've been climbing
Don't forget the distance you have come

It's hard when no one tells you if you're winning
But just remind yourself how far that you've already come
And some days you may feel that there is no ending
But if you give up now you'll never know if you could have won

Keep your eyes upon the road - keep driving
It won't be long until you see a sign that says that you're arriving
And when you reach that day
When you conquer what's behind you
Don't forget the moments that have come before
And when you reach that place
When you're miles from where you started
Don't forget the distance you have come

And there'll be days that the weight of the world will bind you
And you're wondering if the world really needs you
But keep on going - keep on driving on
Cause the sign ahead will soon be behind you

And when you reach that day
When you conquer what's behind you
Don't forget the fight it took to get you there
And when you reach the top of the mountain you've been climbing
Don't forget the distance you have come

When you conquer what's behind you
Don't forget the moments that have come before
And when you reach that place
When you're miles from where you started
Don't forget the distance
Don't forget the distance
You have come

Saturday, November 29, 2008

what can we do?


December 1st is World AIDS Day - who cares, right?

What can WE really do about it?

I want to talk about what we can do for World AIDS Day.

I am starting a special fast TONIGHT through tomorrow for those with HIV/AIDS

I call on those who can and are willing to participate to join me in one united fast and one united prayer that those who struggle will have the care they need - that those who struggle with addiction that led to infection may find the help they need that leads to change - and that they will want to change, that a cure will not only be discovered, but made available to all, not just the rich. I am fasting and praying that leaders across the world and our future government leaders will do more, spend more to help educate, outreach and prevent further transmission of HIV.

Here's my story:

Three years ago today I walked out of AID Atlanta diagnosed as HIV positive.

A lot has changed in three years including my health.

Since August my T-Cells (helper cells/CD-4) have gone down and my viral load has stayed high. Doctors recommend medication to positive patients whose T-Cells have dropped below 350 or whose viral load is consistently high.

My T-Cells have been below 350 since May 2008 and have dropped down to 303. HIV positive patients that drop to 200 T-Cells are diagnosed as having AIDS (You must be HIV positive to be diagnosed with AIDS - you can't get AIDS.)

Starting this December I will be looking at medicine or my first "cocktail" (a mixture of meds) to start fighting the HIV virus in my body. Unfortunately, these potent drugs can cause adverse side effects - so I may not feel so great this holiday season. Also, I can become immune to the positive effects of a drug and have to switch to another drug which also comes with its own side effects. This is a process I have been avoiding because of school, but now I have to face the music and the holiday break is the ideal time to do this.

The point of this email is to ask you to take part in a special fast on my behalf and on the behalf of all those who struggle with HIV/AIDS including my mother. I will be fasting all day Sunday, November 30th for World AIDS Day on December 1st. I also ask that as many of you that are willing to go to the temple during this time would really be appreciated. I am not sure how it works to get my name on a temple prayer list.

This is a huge transition for me in my life, especially right now. I am praying that Heavenly Father will provide my doctor with the right knowledge needed to prolong my life as long as He wills me to be here. I am praying that the medicine that is chosen will be the right one to help me overcome HIV. I am praying that I will have the faith and courage to make better lifestyle choices to assist me in having higher quality of health. Please join me in these prayers on my behalf.

I love all of you and I am so thankful you are in my life. I trust you and know that I am in your thoughts and prayers already. I know that if we join together in this special fast that God will hear our prayers and bless us for our faith.

Just one more thing, prayers and fasting are awesome, but if anyone would be willing to make a contribution of time or financial means to your local HIV/AIDS organization for World AIDS Day it would mean a lot to me.

There are a number of things one can do to observe World AIDS Day! Buying Starbucks that donates only 5 cents to the Global AIDS Fund through product (red) is not the greatest idea - but how you observe it is up to you. I suggest an action because faith without works is dead. I never feel like my prayer will be answered if I do something on my part to make it happen or get the ball rolling.

Thank you so much for joining me and others in this united fasting and prayer.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

the not-so-lonely road

The Journey To Emmaus by Robert Z√ľnd

December 1st is World AIDS Day

Though I wrote this awhile ago for another site - I felt that I should share it again.

The Not-So-Lonely Road

I am inspired by those with cancer and other life threatening illnesses as they battle with courage and optimism to the end of their mortal existence. However, I seldom look in the mirror and witness my own courage and perseverance I exhibit each day of my own personal war with both body and soul. One day I may see that I am like those I am inspired by. Maybe this will lift the hearts of those who read on—I'm not sure—but I feel the call to share my story.

I have struggled with same-gender attraction for longer than I can remember. It wasn't until 19 that I went to a bishop for the first time and attempted to put on my armor of God and become a soldier in my own fight. For the last ten years I have wavered in my Church activity and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but I haven't given up.

Between 19 and 23 I was very sexually active even while being very active in Young Single Adult wards. Living a double life cost me the blessings the Lord had in store for me. I missed an opportunity to serve a mission when the branch president announced the "raising of the bar" for missionaries. Going inactive again because of my lack of faith, I ventured head-first into the shallows of the darkness off the path that led to the Lord. I sought ways to hurt myself emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically—nothing seemed to ease the pain and agony I felt because my choices only led to more pain and agony, not to mention anxiety. I made the choice to make my road lonely by leaving the path of light and truth I was on with friends, family, and even the Lord.

Later on I was motivated to return to church and make my life right, but I still didn't trust the Lord would help me or come to my aid. My bishop showed me all the love he could, even when it came to time to discipline me for my actions. He always supported me and tried to lead me back to the safety of the Lord and His gospel. I came to a point when I realized I needed to be excommunicated because I had offended the Lord and was unwilling to make sacrifices needed to be worthy in His church. I didn't realize it immediately, but that day was probably the most painful day for the Lord and me both—but it needed to happen for change to occur in my life.

Shortly afterward, I assumed being excommunicated was like a free ticket to the "sin amusement park"—I could sin as much as I wanted to without any consequences. That was the sign Satan posted on the gate anyway. I gave up my sobriety from alcohol, pornography, and sex and continued down a slippery slope to the bitterness of hell. I remember that summer vividly. I was in school full-time with three jobs and three rehearsals a week for a show I was in, not to mention it was hot, humid, and I didn't have a car. My body, mind, heart and soul ached everyday—I had no or little connection to anything or anyone—especially because I lived in a dark and lonely basement apartment. In October, I started to notice a change in my body—something very different and very physical. Maybe it was from a steady diet of Ding Dongs and Yoo-Hoos, or overworking my body and mind. Maybe it was from not having the spirit with me. Either way, I was exhausted!

One day after a shower I took to relax, I looked into my mirror and saw something new. It wasn't courage or optimism like I hope to see one day—it was yellow. My eyes and parts of my face were yellow. The last time I saw something like this was when my brother had jaundice caused by his hepatitis that came from his life long battle with cystic fibrosis. Doctors thought I had cystic fibrosis when I was born, but it was just pneumonia. In fact, I was born with a weak immune system—I can get sick quite easily. Being somewhat alarmed I decided to get it checked out after my show was over and I could relax for a bit. During the next two weeks it only got worse. It was particularly bad when others began to notice. I decided to go to a free STD clinic to check everything out, since I had been so sexually active.

On November 18th, 2005, I walked out of the clinic knowing I was HIV positive. The jaundice was caused by the Hepatitis B I also had. Apparently, I had been positive with both since early 2003 based on my low T-Cell count. The jaundice came due to my stress, unhealthy diet, and constant dehydration. Actually, it came as a blessing, because I didn't know I was living with HIV. I walked alone out of the clinic back to the train station and soon realized how different my life was going to be. I knew immediately that I was being given another chance to turn back to God—even though it was like my 21st chance; God found a way to call my name so that I would finally listen. There's nothing like a terminal illness to catch one's attention.

I am not sure this qualifies as irony, but years before in 1997 I found out that my then-imprisoned mother had contracted HIV in the late 1980's. I decided to learn a lot about HIV/AIDS and later in 2003 became an educator and activist. The problem was that I didn't believe it could ever happen to me. During my self-destructive phase, I went looking for HIV-positive men to have unprotected sex with to ensure my chances of becoming positive. My tests never came back positive for two years! I am glad that they didn't because I was more inclined to suicidal thoughts then, and I am afraid that had I known then, I would have ended my life. The good part of being an educator, even despite my ignoring what I knew was safe and right, was that I knew what steps to take now that I knew I was positive.

My mother was released from prison earlier in 2005 and had told me how she had changed her life in prison and was looking forward to being rebaptized. At the time I told her I was excommunicated, and why, and also that I wasn't sure what I wanted anymore. Later when I found out I was HIV-positive, I reconnected to her since she was now living with AIDS. And God blessed us both. She was able to testify to me that regardless of what happens to her body, her soul belongs to God. That testimony has stayed with me and has changed my life. Even though I had been to church off and on after my excommunication, this time I decided to really put forth an effort to gain a testimony of the gospel and exert my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It has not been easy; I have missed being rebaptized twice in the last three years because I gave in to temptations that, at the time, seemed so harmless.

HIV/AIDS is a terrible disease, like many diseases are. For my mother and me, it has been a catalyst for change. Some may say my mom found jailhouse religion, and others may say I feared my death, so I changed. Regardless, God has allowed the two of us to reclaim our souls and to be purified and made whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That is what was central to my mother's testimony to me. She has been rebaptized already and testifies to me that the Atonement of Jesus Christ works deep within us to cleanse and sanctify us all. I am still looking forward to the waters of rebaptism and the rebaptism by fire and the Holy Ghost—which I miss dearly—but my mother can testify "that all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28).

HIV/AIDS doesn't have to mean that life is over. It actually can be the sign that a new life has just begun. Some say God gave mankind HIV/AIDS to punish them; I believe I was given a second chance to turn my life to God. I find now that my path is the not-so-lonely road because I know Christ walks with me each step I choose to walk with Him—and like the story of the footprints in the sand, there are days He carries me instead.

Is it any wonder that the scriptures tell so many stories about paths and roads? Think for a moment on the stories of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, the Good Samaritan finding the beaten man on the road, the road to Emmaus, the conversion of Paul, the path towards the Tree of Life and the conversion of Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah, to name a few. Think even for a moment of the road that Jesus walked with a cross upon His back towards Calvary's hill. Paths and roads are powerful symbols of trial, tribulation, miracles, conversion, and sacrifice. What is even more powerful about paths and roads is that they either lead to light and the Lord, or to darkness and sin. The Lord is with those who choose to walk the path towards His light, truth, and joy. I have seen both roads. I testify that the Adversary will make his road look easy and comfortable, but further down it only leads to misery and pain. The Lord's path includes hardship, trial, and tribulation, but with endurance and faith in Jesus Christ, it will always lead safely home to eternal rest and joy. The road many of us travels on toward God, while enduring the hardship of HIV/AIDS, is a not-so-lonely road because Christ and His angels are with us and will guide us safely home toward the Tree of Life to have eternal joy and rest.

To my dear brothers and sister who struggle with HIV/AIDS—please know that your life is not over. Seek the understanding needed to see that this life is truly the time to prepare to meet God, regardless of our physical ailments, deformities, or hardships. When God asks his sons and daughters to do something, He also promises to prepare and provide a way to do what He has asked. I testify to you that God knows you; He loves you with or without a disease. Having HIV/AIDS is itself not a sin. It's not fun, either, but it can be an opportunity to humble yourself to ask for the mercy and help of God and His Spirit to guide you in the rest of your journey here and beyond. Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Savior, took upon Himself the sins, sicknesses, and heartaches of all mankind. I know He took on HIV/AIDS. I know that, because He did so, He knows how to succor those who struggle with it. He knows the way, because He is the way. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. It is the power to make us whole and allow us the opportunity to enjoy eternal life with our Heavenly Father and family again. If you are not on the right path, please hear the call to join Christ on His not-so-lonely road of light, peace and love. There's always room for another.

Whenever I think of my mortality and how my days may be numbered, I think of Job, whom I love for his great testimony:

"For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; And though after my [immune system, HIV/AIDS will] destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25-26)

Diseases, sickness, and ailments of all kind may destroy the flesh, but only we can make the choice to destroy our souls. "Choose you this day [whose path you will follow]…" (Joshua 24:15)

In the words of President Gordon B Hinckley:

I know that my Redeemer lives,
Triumphant Savior, Son of God,
Victorious over pain and death,
My King, my Leader, and my Lord.

He lives, my one sure rock of faith,
The one bright hope of men on earth,
The beacon to a better way,
The light beyond the veil of death.

Oh, give me thy sweet Spirit still,
The peace that comes alone from thee,
The faith to walk the [not-so-]lonely road
That leads to thine eternity.
("My Redeemer Lives," Hymns, no. 135)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

special visitor


It was only two weeks ago that I heard that Elder Jeffrey R Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve was visiting the New York New York Stake for a special conference. Apparently this is a new type of conference that the Twelve are trying out - I know Elder L. Tom Perry recently visited West Georgia and Elder Dallin H. Oaks was in Seoul, Korea today.

It's all really exciting to have a real, live prophet in the same room as me. I have been been in the same room as President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder David B. Haight and actually shook hands with Elder Richard G. Scott and now Elder Holland. I didn't even try to shake his hand, but he did mention my name in his talk - ok that doesn't count because we have the same name and he was actually referring to himself. I know many people who know have met the prophets, shaken their hands, had them as Mission Presidents or talked with them at length. I dare not compare our experiences. I only bring it up to tell you how many times I have been humbled in the presence of the Lord's called servants. They are not perfect men - but I feel they're some of God's best and more refined.

I was struggling to feel the spirit today for several reasons that included 20% of the audience screaming, crying and running around, not to mention there were also children present. I was also distracted by my own unworthiness. I kept thinking, what if, for some reason, he meets me and shakes my hand - as a prophet he will know what a sinner I am. He will look into my tear-filled eyes of shame and feel my shaking hand and look at me with that "look" - funny enough - Elder Holland spoke of this as his fear in meeting the Savior (this is where he mentions himself by our name) He described the look as saying, without words, "Don't you get it - after all the testimonies, the lessons, the miracles, the blessings - don't you understand?" I think we have all had that look from our parents at one point or from a concerned Bishop, Stake President or spouse. It's a look of sadness, disappointment, but hope for the other - faith they will one day get it and understand - a look of compassion.

This fear Elder Holland spoke of was in reference to the story of Christ and His disciples being caught in a storm crossing the Sea of Galilee while the Savior slept in Mark 4: 35-41. The disciples asked, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" and then Christ stood up and looked upon His disciples - that look that compels someone like me to become broken and humbled. He compassionately rebuked them saying, "Why are ye so fearful, how is it that ye have no faith?" The response after the storms were calmed was, "What manner of man is this..." I know the answer is that He is the Son of Man - the Only Begotten Son Of God and my Savior. Though the "look" is hard to receive - the refinement it offers is not only needed but a catalyst for change - we see how it helped His disciples.

Elder Holland went on to instruct us through the Spirit - he said any man can steer a boat upon the calm sea - even a child can do it - but when the storms of life come - we need to turn to the Savior (even experienced seamen like the disciples were frightened and called upon the Savior). There will always be challenges - but the gospel makes living here in mortality alright because we have a better existence to look forward to, though we must try to live that quality of life here as much as we can now. He warned that often we are tempted to jump off the boat in the middle of the storms (give up on relationships or the lack of, quit school or jobs,etc). He cautioned us to hunker down in the boat, grab on and don't let go. Now, more than ever, we need to hold onto the boat that is the gospel of Jesus Christ that will guide us safely to the lighthouse that is Celestial glory. We need the gospel in our lives more than we've ever need it before, we need the scriptures in our lives more than we've ever needed them, we need faith more than we've ever needed it, we need prayers more than we've ever needed them. This is when the Spirit finally broke through to me - though I fought it off while the children's choir sang "If the Savior Stood Before Me" and "I Am a Child of God" - but now I really knew God was talking to me directly.

Elder Holland also made a point about when Christ told His disciples that the kingdom of God is within you. He noted that the emphasis needs to be on "YOU" - meaning that we individually and collectively through our obedience and faith carry the kingdom of God within us. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a pyramid where the prophet and leaders sit at the top - it's inverted where - somehow - each of us individually and collectively sit at the top and matter most. Our leaders do their (the Lord's) work for us not necessarily for themselves - not because they're concerned with their salvation as much as they're concerned with ours.

The messages of the day were beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear today, now, this exact point in my life.

I am also excited to find out that the music and prints from the "Reflections of Christ" project ( www.reflectionsofchrist.org ) are now available. I remembered my awesome friend Ashley gave me an iTunes gift card I haven't used yet. I was able to buy the album of beautiful and spiritual music. Today has not been perfect but how many days do I get to be in the presence of a living prophet, enjoy the generous gift from a dear friend and listen to angelic music.

I still fear the time will come when, like Elder Holland, the Savior will greet me and will look into my tear-filled eyes trying to hide my shame and sins. As I write this I am overcome by the Spirit comforting me to know that despite the enormity of my sins and shame - Christ will wipe my tears away - give me that look - rebuke me as He did His disciples and say, "Why are ye so fearful, how is it that ye have no faith?" I hope He will continue and say, "You are cleansed, healed, made whole through my atoning sacrifice - you are made worthy in me - enter in and rest. He will embrace me as the hen gathereth her chicks, keeping me safe and protected and guide me home.

I have failed at many things and I know it is true that I am not clean - but I hope the Savior will help to clean me. I love Him - Jesus Christ is my Savior. He is my friend when it has seemed I had none - when I have often walked alone in this life - He has been there - maybe like He was with those on the Road to Emmaus - in my presence while I was unaware. I know He has also sent me certain angels in the form of friends and loved ones who have, maybe unknowingly, guided me back to Him.

If I had one message to leave to the world, my family and friends - it is this, what I learned today that burned inside of me:

When the storms of life come - turn to Him that is the steady compass, He who knows the course - He who will lead to safety. In these times, more than ever before - we need our Savior Jesus Christ.

"Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" 2 Kings 6:16

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Monday, November 17, 2008

raison d'etre


I haven't posted in awhile because, while a lot of it is because of my four month transition period here to NYC, it is also due to the lack of internet connection, a major distraction called 'graduate school' and waiting to write about something considerably important. In October I found a new apartment in Central/Spanish Harlem or the very Upper East Side and three new roommates since my temporary arrangements in Brooklyn expired. The apartment I was to move into and signed a lease for was not ready - so they placed us into a temporary five bedroom apartment down the hall from ours which was being renovated. We were told we would we would move in within a week and a half - but no later than November 1st. Without going into any extravagant details - we fought our way into the new apartment by November 7th - it wasn't easy; I had to get tough! {thanks jewish mafia!} Outside from this excruciatingly painful process with an ignorant management company there was a full load of classes to worry about with lots of reading and writing to be done each week. An adventure I would only wish upon the most evil and deserving of my adversaries. {sadly, I think includes myself since I am my own worst enemy, but not in a Christian Slater way} ANYWAY...

Raison d'etre does not have much to do with the sweet dehydrated grapes I like to put into my oatmeal or those wrinkled dancing globs we remember seeing on TV in California years ago. No, raison d'etre is french for reason for being or in the English use, "suggests a degree of rationalization, as the claimed reason for the existence of something or someone." {thanks wiki!}

In attempting to figure out what I would write or how to piece stories together under one umbrella, I remembered what is being discussed in my class, Making a Difference: Global, Organizational and Individual Perspectives on Social Change, aka MAD. Among other words like vision, mission and strategy, we are also focused on this word raison d'etre and how organizations or individuals define their reason for existence or being. I will not nauseate anyone reading this blog with my deep, profound and long-winded definition or opinion on the subject, but I thought it would make for a great theme or umbrella, as it were.

The metamorphosis has begun, unfortunately I don't feel like I am turning into a butterfly, so to speak. {I will refrain from discussing a butterfly's reason for existence, as if there were one} I completely blame this on not having my awesome Atlanta friends and support around me - however - the fault lands on my personal choices. Nothing is the same - going to church is different, going to school is different, the way I dress and present myself is different, my priorities have evolved into an almost unrecognizable creature. The last time I really looked into a mirror and studied my reflection I really felt I was looking at an entirely different person, but that was Halloween. Seriously, I knew NYC was going to be a catalyst for change, but no matter how I tried to pivot or position myself to be ready for that change, I am still a little dismayed and shocked. Not all of this experience has been negative - but in a place like this, negativity seems to reign supreme.

On November 11th 2005 I walked into AID Atlanta feeling pretty low and exhausted. I was there to figure out why my skin was yellow, eyes bloodshot and I felt weak. I went there because I knew I was at risk for Hepatitis, STD's and HIV because of my lifestyle choices of the past. I took my routine HIV test and waited 20 minutes for the preliminary results - twenty minutes turned into an hour and ten minutes. It had not crossed my mind that something was wrong with me - I was so mad I was focused on the "dimwit" tester who must have lost or forgotten about my test. He appeared with another man where I was sitting and told me my results were ready. I didn't tell him how mad I was because all of a sudden I felt like something was different. It was the volunteer's first day on the job and I was his first HIV test he had ever administered. All of his training told him what he was to do - but apparently nothing prepared him for me - his first test he gave was to an HIV positive patient who didn't know he was infected. He couldn't find the mandated counselor he had to have with him to tell me the results - that's why it took so long to get back to me. When I was told that preliminary results suggests that I am HIV positive I simply shook my head acknowledging that I had understood him, told him I didn't need counseling and left the building, alone. The next week on November 18th I found out by blood test that I was in fact, definitely HIV positive and had Hepatitis B - causing the jaundice.

Three years later - here I am. I asked God to let me live long enough to finish my BA at The Art Institute of Atlanta and today I received my diploma in the mail, finally. {thanks Beverly} Now I am asking God to let me survive getting my MS at Milano The New School for Management & Urban Policy. I don't generally focus on the "end" of my life, in fact the "woe is me" bit isn't really my style - though others may argue, it is. Things have shifted a bit recently. Up until now I have lived free of drug treatment because I have been quite healthy for a HIV positive guy. My T-Cells/CD-4 cell count has dropped to 303 {200=AIDS/>600=good} and my viral load is consistently over 50,000, which is not horrible, but not that special either. After my test, in a couple weeks, I will start drug treatment to fight against the virus, in hopes that I will prolong my life and sustain my good health. My goal is to become "undetectable" which would be a T-Cell count of over 600 and a low viral load. I was hoping not to have to do this for awhile, but part of moving here was because I knew this day was coming.

Needless to say, life and my perspective on or about it has changed. My raison d'etre has become more fluid in nature but more defined as I experience more of "life" everyday. The important things I have learned to focus on are simple truths I have known within me for most of my life - I hope that others know this about themselves as well:

I am a child of a loving, all-knowing and merciful Heavenly Father

He has sent me here to learn, grow, be tested and advance {this includes messing up BIG time}

By coming unto His Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior, seeking forgiveness through repentance and sanctification through adherence to covenants and commandments, I will be blessed, healed, made whole and brought home to live with Him again in eternal glory

Heavenly Father has given me parents, {not necessarily biological} angels, friends, teachers, leaders and His Spirit to lead me, guide me and walk beside - to help me find my way - to teach me the gospel and all that I must know to endure to the end with faith, courage, patience, joy, hope and charity

I was not sent here to fail - I am not alone

My raison d'etre is as simple as this: "I am that I might have joy"

Despite my circumstances or maybe because of them - I will do all that I can do to focus on what brings me that eternal joy I so desperately crave - to live with Him someday. I guess I have to start with the man in the mirror {thanks MJ!} and learn how to live with him first.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

mugging & masculinity


Painting by George Bellows

Today marks my one month being here in beautifully crazy New York City!

So far I have lost my phone and Rx glasses in a cab, locked myself out of my apartment for six hours, been stuck on a subway train/gotten lost in the subway system and of course, gotten mugged.


Before anyone jumps to conclusions - this stuff hardly happens in NYC anymore. NYC is a much safer city than it used to be and my experience has just been uniquely misfortunate (though it has happened to any real New Yorker in the past). I prefer to think of it as a Rapid Residency Program-it's how they help new residents adapt to their new life in the city.


But on to the reason why I am posting...


Being mugged for the first time in my life (knowing it was going to happen) has shaken me up. In reality it was two teen boys who used no weapons, threats or force - they were merely looking for cash. Unfortunately for me, they got my laptop and passport instead (the passport was in the bag).


I could have screamed, ran away, tried to fight them off (trusting they had no weapons) - but I wanted it to be over so I gave in. To be honest I feel raped - violated - and weak. Any sense of masculinity I had - has swept away - though it is creeping back day by day.


I immediately believed it was my fault for carrying my laptop with me, walking alone at night, not fighting them off, not having enough muscles, etc. For the first day or so I have replayed the incident over and over which has led to tears and even made it hard for me to leave the apartment the next day.


As I work with police - I feel more empowered again and am still working on gaining my sense of masculinity - which has proved difficult because that was an issue for me before the incident occurred. It helps to talk about this openly with other men - but I found it hard to talk to my "straight" roommate about it in fear he would judge I wasn't manly enough. I got over that and humbled myself to ask for a blessing after talking to him about it. Things are looking brighter as I continue forward knowing that God's got my back.


This has actually been one of those blessings in disguise as I have asked the Lord what I am to learn from all of this - the obvious answer is humility. I have been slipping down the darkened path and taking upon me the flaxen cords of temptation and sin for the last few months prior to moving and definitely since being here.


I know the Lord loves me so much that He would allow such events to happen in an effort to "wake me up before I go go" too far. I started reading "Believing Christ" by Stephen Robinson again - it has definitely helped to remind me of the true meaning of the Atonement of Christ - who Christ is and what He is not only truly capable of doing but what He is doing for me now and especially when I love and follow Him.


Being excommunicated I have had a hard time remembering how to recognize or feel the spirit- let alone have it stay with me. As I have placed my "sacrifice" upon the alter and humbled my unworthy self before the Lord - I have found that comfort, peace and healing I need.

I know that despite my weaknesses - struggles - shortcomings and lack of faith - the Lord created me as a man. I am a man - but most importantly I am a son of God.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

what kind of light am i?


My great grandfather Arthur B Clinger was one of the early Stake Presidents of the San Diego region back when it stretched from Oceanside to Yuma, AZ. He later became the Stake Patriarch (the youngest called in the church at the time) giving almost everyone who lived in that region between WWII and and 1975 (I think) their patriarchal blessing. Even my patriarch got his from my great grandfather. Anyway, he had told my grandmother who had told me later on that we are all stars in this great universe. Some of us are great, bright stars who guide others with our consistent testimonies and Christlike lives. There are others who are bright but not always seen - when found those stars can be helpful to those looking for direction. Then there are others who are not as full of light as others - they can't help others because they themselves need to find the light. All stars are loved, needed and apart of the universe - each of us plays a part - but what light are you?

About 73 years ago I lived in this place called Atlanta - quite the strange place - hard to find - very mysterious. One day as I wondered the halls of the church there I was feeling full of wisdom and spoke to a friend about light. I asked her, "what kind of light are you?" This conversation continued for a few Sundays...but eventually it died off.

Recently my mind has wandered in much the same way and the blessing of losing my 24/7 connection to the world via losing my phone in a cab has helped me to connect inward. This has led to insanity on many levels - but now that I am connected to my insanity I have found myself feeling wise again - this is a rare day!

What kind of light am I? Do I lead or do I follow?

The sun
At the center of all things - it is consistent - gives off light, energy, life, direction and warmth. All things follow the sun.

The moon
Basically reflects light from the sun to others when the sun cannot be seen. Though it moves consistently - there are times it can not be seen or seemingly, disappears. The moon both leads and follows.

The stars
Light varies - depending how far they are from us - how old or young they are - how large or small they may be. Some give off strong light and provide consistent direction through the night - while others can hardly be seen. Stars are both leaders and followers depending on their strength.

Halogen
Manmade-Bright, clear, gets hot easily, burn out if left on too long.

Flood Light
Manmade-Bright, long-lasting - used for security purposes or light up large areas.

Flashlight
Manmade-Depending on what brand you buy, batteries used and the bulb it uses can burn out quickly or last awhile. Used to find one's way through the darkness.

Christmas Tree lights or Track Lighting
Manmade-Nice for decoration - superficial and not always too reliable.

Fluorescent
Manmade-Bad for your eyes - provides a false reality of color - overbearing and overused!

That's my list anyway...what kind of light are you?

Please add to my list or make suggestions for definitions

Oh and by the way - I may not be the brightest light or star for that matter - but I am working on becoming the kind of light that warms others, gives life and direction to the lost and weary. I know that as follow the one constant light of the universe I will one day become the kind of light that can do as He does.

My friends, one thing my great grandfather did not include is that we may think we are dim stars in the distant not giving off light or leading others to safety - but so often WE ARE!!! with a smile, a hug, kind words, a text or a prayer - please never underestimate the power of the light you have within! REMEMBER to share and cherish the light you have, receive and give to others.

You have been caught Jey Walking!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

i don't think we're in kansas anymore


This song has been in my head and playing in my heart for the last few days as I heading out toward a new chapter of my life. I hope the lyrics move you as they have me. Carry on...

Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas

{Refrain
Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
I can hear them say

{Refrain

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, well
It surely means that I don't know

On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I'm like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune
But I hear the voices say

{Refrain
No!

Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
The center lights around your vanity
But surely heaven waits for you

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry (don't you cry no more)

Friday, August 8, 2008

amazing update

Just a little note for those who read the "amazing" post in June. I took some tests and found that I am able to have children. I guess now all I need is a wife - willing to have them with me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

southern hospitality


I got to thinking - finally...

All this talk of New York City and I have failed to acknowledge the place that has gotten me this far

Atlanta - HOTLANTA - Capital of the South! Where would I be right now if I wasn't here. Literally, I suppose I'd still be in Washington, DC but I doubt it. I could be in California - but I probably would have left again by now.

It took me four years to figure out - yeah - I was meant to come here - not necessarily forever - but at least long enough to learn a few things.

So here's to southern hospitality and the lessons I learned:

When giving directions - include the exit number - it's easier that way

Southern people don't understand why anyone would call it "THE" 400, "THE" MARTA, "THE" 285...so don't confuse them

No matter what you do on the road, simply attach a little wave of the hand - it seems to fix everything - even fatal collisions & near death experiences

Leaving the slightest hint of space between you and another car is an invitation for any one - even three lanes over to cut in

The state motto: Wisdom, Justice & Moderation means wisdom & justice are to be used in moderation - this of course does not apply to Jack Daniels

Apparently anyone is allowed to run a red light as long as it has only been red for under seven seconds - so, yes - you CAN block an intersection even when there is a sign saying not to

Pedestrians don't use sidewalks - they use the force of being hit by cars to get them where they want to go - so please be considerate and hit a pedestrian

If you see a sidewalk - please try to understand that it will dramatically cease to exist at any point (the sidewalk does really end) - wear appropriate shoes for such occurrences.

If you aren't screaming and sprinting to catch "THE" MARTA bus - how will they know you want a ride?

On a more serious note I have learned that it may be difficult to make close friends immediately - but when you make close friends here - you have friends for life - through thick and thin.

I have met some of the most amazing people here in Atlanta who have taught me so much and helped me grow to where I am now. I am blessed to have had such an experience and to leave knowing I am always welcome back with plenty of open arms.

I appreciate and love each of you who have joined me on part of my journey.

love Jey

You've been caught Jey Walking! (and I know you like it!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

thanks billy joel


Early on the morning of March 31st - a few days after my classes ended and I graduated college - I got an email saying that I am an acceptable Master's candidate for Milano The New School for Management & Urban Policy in New York City this Fall.

Since then my mind has daily spasms of dreams come true and nightmares realized - a bittersweet concoction of fear, doubt, overwhelming joy and excitement. There are days I think both "Am I ready for New York?" and "Is New York ready for me?" I've come to realize that what I am embarking upon is the beginning of the new authentic ME that sees my vision of my dreams coming to fruition while confronting and conquering my fears. You know, cause if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere and I intend to make my vision come alive EVERYWHERE!

So now one might wonder what that vision is...
Life has thrown me quite a few curveballs and obstacles - I'd venture to say I've even created some those obstacles myself -REGARDLESS - my vision has been and always will be basically this:

I will share all that I have - talents - gifts - knowledge/wisdom - time and means to those who - like me - have endured life's curveballs - continued to fight and are looking to create for themselves a new life and see their visions come alive.

I will achieve this through starting an organization for youth and young adults that focuses on assisting abused foster youth and emancipated young adults in various ways. The organization will also focus on Drug Abuse Prevention Outreach & Education. I will also have an HIV/AIDS Outreach Prevention & Education team serving young adults who are at risk and/or already infected.

I know New York City is the place for me to learn more about how to achieve such goals and, of course, network with others interested in assisting is such a large project and ongoing work.

I am so happy to know in my heart that I am taking the right steps to provide myself with the credentials needed to start and take on such work. I am ecstatic knowing that God supports the work I want to do. The more I think about all the amazing things I've witnessed and experienced in my life and all the things I am about to engage myself into - I can't help but to thank Billy Joel for inspiring me with a New York State of Mind. Thanks Billy Joel!

I hope New York is ready for me...Start spreading the news...

You've been caught Jey Walking! (and there it's ok :D)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

what 29 means

Aw yes - I am finally 29 years old today!

I am so happy to be that much closer to thirty - but I am getting ahead of myself - I must enjoy the year ahead as it comes.

What lies in store in the next year?


August: move to NYC
September: start grad school
October: miss all my Atlanta friends a lot more!
November: NYC Thanksgiving / Macy's Parade - Vote for US President as a New Yorker!
December: enjoy NYC holiday season / go to Cali for Christmas hopefully to warm up - first grad school semester completed! Oh yeah and NEW YEAR'S EVE NYC style!
January: make resolutions!
February: break resolutions and someone's heart on V-Day!
March: start defrosting!
April: spring break!
May: half way thru grad school!
June: start planning a huge NYC 30th Birthday party for this guy I know!
July: yeah, you know - party 'til dawn the next week! / Fourth of July NYC!

So what does 29 mean?


Birthday Number 29

Optimism will be your best friend. You are imaginative and creative, but rather uncomfortable in the corporate world. You are very aware and sensitive, with outstanding perceptive skills and analytical abilities. The number 29 reduces to 11, one of the master numbers, which often produces much nervous tension. Learn to be calm and cool. This is the birthday of the dreamer rather than the doer. You will maintain good contacts.

Today's most reliable unreliable horoscope:

You'll have high energy today, although it might not kick in until later in the day. More than help you get a lot of stuff done, this buzz will help you make some changes within your group of friends. Not everyone is on the same page right now, and these differences are causing people to forget how much they truly care about each other. It's time for a party or other type of group event where everyone can relax and enjoy hanging out together. Plan something with all that energy of yours!

Today brings a sense of starting over, though you may not be entirely sure what part of your life is changing. That's okay -- you just need to make sure you're open to new possibilities.

Is your birthday day 2 of the month?
Your Life
You have great common sense but usually fail to follow through. This might happens because you are too busy with your mission and shut yourself from the outside world. You are clever and profound so there's a slight chance for self-control problem.

Your Love

Your love progress slowly, and quietly. You seem to be contented with your unrequited love. Your are a romantic and loyal lover.

ANYWAY - so I thought this would be a fun little post...I'm not sure any of this stuff can hold up in court.

You've been caught Jey Walking!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

yeah!

So yesterday was my last day working for a certain grocery store bakery. It was quite the fun last day - I'm glad it's over! I will still pop in to help create signage for the store - but that's on my terms only.

I wanted to reminisce on some fun moments of working in such a place.

The funniest thing to ever happen there has already been posted about - please reread to laugh your head off or at least giggle.

Some memorable quotes:

"Can you tell me the main difference between the Almond Croissant and the Strawberry Cream Cheese Croissant?"

"What's the difference between the Key Lime Pie and the Key Lime Meringue Pie?"

"I didn't see any fresh rolls out on the table - do you have anymore?"

"Are these all the cakes you have?"

"Oh my gosh Mom - I want this! MOM - I want this! MOM Give it to me NOW! (crying while being dragged away)"

"I'm trying to be good - uh - I'll take 12 large canolis"

"Can you tell me where the bakery is?"

"Well I guess I'll just have to go to Publix (in a threatening voice)"

"Can you put those in a box - I'm going to Chastain (said in a snobby voice)"

I know most of what I experienced was "you had to be there" type moments - but I promise you that some customers are just too funny.

I told my manager that corporate wants us to be more friendly and helpful to customers so when I ask "Can I help you" and they reply "No, I am just looking..." I am supposed to reply "Well, you didn't end up looking like that by JUST LOOKING!"

I am such a trouble maker! :D

You've been caught Jey Walking!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

the blind man who saw

"Healer" by Mark Mabry (Reflections of Christ)

The Blind Man Who Saw
written by Jey Gladstone
6/22/2008

There was a certain blind man blinded at an early age
Sent off into a dark world to venture on his own
He was cast away from family
He felt alone at church-he had no friends
His community simply rejected him

So he wandered with all his hurt
He didn't understand his blindness
What caused it-when, how or why
No one would give him answers only 'cause he was blind

So he wandered more and just kept on going
He would bump into things-hurt himself-fall down-stumble and cry
He really couldn't help it no matter how hard he tried
To him-the only life he knew was blind
No one offered a hand-a kind voice-or a light
The blind man's world was cold and dark
It offered no relief from the night

The blind man tired of trying - sick of falling and getting hurt
Ventured into his darkest corner where nobody would come to search
Once in awhile he'd reach out begging for water or food
But he's only be scoffed at-rejected-even beaten and often bruised

The blind man sunk so deeply
He never wanted to see the light
He hid as far back into his corner as he could
Losing hope to ever have sight

Then one day he heard footsteps-a few of them walking by
He hadn't heard such sounds where he lived
Where he was is where men die
He started to hear voices-not as harsh as he's heard before
He wondered if they could help him with a little food or more

He wrestled with the decision
Should I stay? or Should I go?
But he knew deep within him if he never left he'd never grow

The blind man thought of the risk
What if they beat me to a pulp?
What if they'd kill me and take away what's left of my hope
Then something welled within him
A feeling he'd hardly felt before
He felt that it was worth taking the journey once more

So he crawled out of the darkness
Yes, bumping-stumbling-falling on the way
But he finally made it into some light
For the first time in a long time felt the warmth of the sun's rays

He could still hear the voices-the footsteps traveling by
He gathered all his strength with him and let out a plea and cried

Oh Lord of Lords - my Master
My Savior-My Friend-whoever you might be
Would you have some kindness on a lonely blind man
Do you have food or water that I need?

He was shaking at the very core while he stayed kneeling on the ground
There was a deafening silence in the air - not even a sound

Then the blind man heard someone ask
Whose fault is it that this man is like this?
Some others said it was his parents
Others said it was his sin

The blind man felt ashamed
For certainly even he didn't know
He's tried to figure that question out
But no answers have come

Another man stood forth
The blind man could sense him draw near
The other man knelt to pick something off the ground
What was he to do was still unclear

The other man answered NEITHER
Not his parents fault nor was it his
Hearing this made the blind man smile and feel so warm within

The other man drew closer and put his hand on the blind man's head
The blind man started to shake but then came peace he's never had
The other man took mud and put it all over the blind man's eyes
The blind man wasn't sure what to do but he heard the other man cry

But that the power of God may be manifest this man will be healed
The mud was wiped from his eyes - the feeling was surreal

Stand and be blind no more said the other man to the blind
Something wonderful was in store that he would soon find

The blind man's eyes filled with tears that helped wash away the mud
But when he opened his eyes he saw unconditional love

HE SAW! HE SAW! and all he could do was SEE!
He saw so much for the first time - it made him so happy
He fell back down to his knees

Oh Lord MY Lord - MY Master
MY SAVIOR IS WHO YOU ARE!
I was once blind but now can see OH so far!
I can see the distant horizon - the azure sky - the clouds
the trees and the glorious sun
I can also see and feel that you are the Almighty One!
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
shouted the once blind man as he rejoiced
The other man stood and smiled and said in a beautiful voice

You are healed my son and you are forever mine-I can be your friend
And now that you can see I will walk with you and also be your guide
I want you to follow wherever I might go - to the end
I want to give you everlasting food and water -
A new life for you to live
I've opened your eyes so that to others you might give
Your gift of love and compassion because there are others like you who are cannot see
You can go to reach them - help and rescue them - just like me
Will you be my follower? Even take upon you my name?
I promise you everlasting blessings and release from all the shame

The blind man was so energized - so fresh - clean and pure
He knew he could help other blind men
Whose lives were darkened, cold and voices unheard

The blind man said YES! with a resounding voice
I'll do my very best because now I have a choice
Lord, I will always follow you-I will listen and obey what you say
I will walk in your footsteps and help others on their way
The other man said Thank You and the men-together- left that place
The blind man has begun his walk with the other man
And received His eternal grace

I will continue to follow the Mighty One - the very Son of God
For I am the blind man who-through the Lord's healing- finally saw!
And what I saw was the love of the other man
My Lord-My Master-My Savior-My Friend
I know if I will follow Him
I will be made whole and saved in the very end.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

i'm ruthless, cranky & eating top ramen

Let me begin by saying it's not entirely my fault.

Because I'm a Cancer (zodiac sign) my emotions and mood apparently are going a little haywire.

This happens every year - why?

The full moon before the summer solstice aka the beginning of the cancer zodiac reign. If you don't understand this - I don't care. keep reading.

So for the last few days I have been ruthless, cranky & eating top ramen.

Let me remind all of you that I stopped eating top ramen in 2003. Even at my lowest point financially - I still avoided buying that crap.

Well it's not a financial thing - it's a mood thing. I graduated from The Art Institute of Atlanta on Friday the 13th which must have unlocked something within me because the next day, and since then, I've been, well, not myself.

If you are around me in the next few days - have mercy on me even if I don't extend the same kindness to you - I can't help it.

You've been caught Jey Walking!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

amazing!

I just wanted to share a touching moment in my life...for those who I have already shared this with - you must endure it again :D

I went to the doctor's today - yeah! My doctor wants me to go to a urologist to check out this extra vein I have connected to my testicles - I've had this issue since puberty - but no one seemed to think it was a big deal. My doctor told me she wants me to check it out so it won't prevent me from having children later on if I wanted that option...

Imagine the blankest stare you've ever seen...

I am HIV positive so I looked really blankly at her.

She asked me what was wrong. I said - uh - how do I have children
without infecting my partner or child?

She blankly stared at me and was like - uh - you've never heard of
sperm washing?

Another blank stare.

Uh NO...

Well HIV is only in the semen - not the sperm - so the sperm can be removed and injected into the partner and safely create a child without infection to the mother or child. The egg would just have to receive the sperm - but that's no different from any other pregnancy.

I WAS SHOCKED!

The doctor left for a minute to set an appointment - so I let it soak
in and of course I wept a little for joy.

I am not married yet, but to have the option of having my own child even while being HIV positive is amazing to me. God is a god of miracles and wonder.

HIV really isn't the end of life - I realize now I have no excuses to hold me back from living a normal life on Earth - not that I do anything normal...

PS. For those just finding out about my HIV status - I apologize you are finding out this way - if you have any questions I am not that shy - which is obvious 'cause I've posted about my testicles already :D So anyway...

You've been caught Jey Walking!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

the greatest person i've ever known


The greatest person I've ever known personally was imperfect.

I was recently reminded that my grandmother passed away just a year ago. She played a large role in my life - especially growing up - and still has an influence over me now. Knowing the lasting effect she has on me I could confidently state that she will always have an influence on me and my choices - maybe even more so now that she has passed.

My grandmother raised me from age seven to nineteen. I was taken from my parents in 1986 one morning and after two unsuccessful temporary foster homes - I went to live with her and my grandfather. My grandfather played a role in my life that I only came to understand and appreciate later after he died...but my grandmother and I have a deep connection - a friendship that started long before I knew her on Earth, has been through hell and back and will last through eternity.

A little bit about her...
She was born fourth of eleven children into a prominent LDS family - the daughter of a well-known Stake President and Patriarch. By 15 she was married and by 17 she became a mother. She divorced and married again - having a total of seven children from both marriages. Later, she became involved with the LDS Church's Indian Affairs program for seventeen years. She "adopted" a couple of Navajo exchange students for about ten years - one of which I know and call "Aunt" Marie.

Fast forward a few years later after sending her youngest child out of the house to when my family broke into fragments. My grandmother did what she could to put the pieces back together. She raised seven of the ten children in my family - meaning she raised sixteen children over a span of 60 years! I was a handful in and of myself - so 15 other children to raise must not have been as fun as it sounds!

My grandmother and I had our battles but we knew we loved each other. She reminded me often that she was the only best friend I had because no one else would put up with my crap like she did - she was right! She would get so mad at me for my poor choices, temper tantrums, rebellion and defiance...in return I would become livid over things she would say or ways that she would act. No matter what - though - we loved each other.

She was and still is a remarkable and amazing person. She would never admit that she had a racism problem - but, after our many arguments she began adjusting her thinking - my cousin got married to a black guy and she eventually accepted him into the family and supported my cousin's choice - my grandmother grew to love the guy.

Another example of how amazing she is was when my mother was released from prison and revealed to my grandmother that she has AIDS - my grandmother really didn't want too much to do with her - but eventually with my help - she came around to love her, support her rebaptism and not be afraid of her disease. My grandmother was somewhat bitter against my mother who abandoned her children, but before she died she forgave her and made peace with her daughter.

My grandmother and I have had some serious bonding experiences. Years ago I confessed to her and my Bishop of my struggle with addiction and same gender attraction. She was mortified; there was a period of time we didn't talk and she almost disowned me, but we came back to our senses and made a truce.

Later the same year my mother was released from prison I found out that I am HIV positive. She was so supportive and loving but also really scared for me - she didn't know what she could do to make things better. One day I got a box in the mail and in it was a knitted cap and scarf. I had told her that it was cold and I was afraid to get sick - so she immediately knitted me a cap and scarf. To other people it was just some yarn - to me it was probably the most beautiful and meaningful gift I have ever received. It was not the first time she gave me the gift of life. She saved me from an abusive home, she saved me from my own destructive behavior and path and she did the one thing she knew she could do for a scared and lonely grandson at that time - keep him healthy and warm with a cap and scarf.

So, a year later I am missing the greatest person I've ever known. Despite her faults, weaknesses, imperfections galore - she tried her best to keep me both physically and spiritually alive and I could never thank her enough for her steady testimony of God and his gospel and just being my mom when I needed one the most.

Never take for granted the people in your life who are willing to go through hell and back with you or even for you - just so you won't be lost or alone!

I know I do take people for granted too often - but if I call you my friend - you should know that I love and appreciate you - but you'll never be as great as my grandma :D

This is the song I sang at her funeral

Mama by Il Divo
(one of her favorite groups - the video is so beautiful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwaVMP6tphA)

Mama thank you for who I am
Thank you for all the things I'm not
Forgive me for the words unsaid
For the times
I forgot

Mama remember all my life
You showed me love,You sacrificed
Think of those young and early days
How I've changed
along the way

And I know you believed
And I know you had dreams
And I'm sorry it took all this time to see
That I am where I am because of your truth
I miss you, I miss you

Mama forgive the times you cried
Forgive me for not making right
All of the storms I may have caused
And I've been wrong
Dry your eyes

Mama I hope this makes you smile
I hope you're happy with my life
At peace with every choice I made
How I've changed
Along the way
And I know you believed in all of my dreams
And I owe it all to you, Mama


You've been caught Jey Walking!