Giving Thanks

“It is easy to be thankful for the good things in life”.

I have no idea whether I heard this or read it, so I can’t give credit. As I scrolled through all the Facebook posts about thankfulness, it got me thinking.  Can I be thankful for the hardships in my life?

Let’s find out.
1) I am thankful for my parents divorce. It destroyed my faith, because it was weak. Since I drifted so far I now have no doubt that God is real, that He is good and He is trustworthy. For that rock I am very grateful.
2) I am thankful for my divorce. It helped me to better understand my mother and why she did what she did. I have been blessed to share this story to help other women see what abuse really is.
3) I am thankful for the day He brought me to my knees in repentance and tore the sinful heart from inside me. The pain and suffering of redemption and forgiveness is nothing in comparison to the pain I caused myself all those years.
4) I am grateful for the heartache of missing friends and family. This means I am capable of love.  For many years I was so numb I felt no emotions except sadness.
5) I am thankful my Oregon family (The Macy’s). In their home God taught me unconditional love and what reliance on Him looked like. it was here I truly learned to live.
6) I am grateful for my family. In-spite of our brokenness, God is bringing us back together in a more healthy version.
7) I am grateful for my years of singleness (yes, this one is hard). In it God has changed my view of relationships and marriage. I have learned that physical attraction really doesn’t matter in the end. The spirit in my mate and how he treats me does.

I have always loved the song Hallelujah, but never really listened to the lyrics before.  If you don’t have time to listen, at least read the lyrics.  At the end it declares that love of God(paraphrasing here) is ” a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah”.

So maybe God really doesn’t want our praise for the good things in our life.  But He longs for us to praise Him for the hard times. For truly loving Him is is to see His hand in the hard times and praise Him as your heart breaks in two and the tears stream down your face.

Hallelujah Video

Hallelujah Lyrics

 

What do you think about what God wants to hear?

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What does depression feel like

I want to be real on here.  That has always been my goal.  This week has been hard though and I am not sure how to put it into words.  The depression has swept in like a beast and almost destroyed me.  As I work through and find the words for this week, I wan to share a picture with you.  One that explains what depression feels like.  I wrote this in 2012 and the imagery still rings true.

“I see it roll over the hills.  The storm brews on the horizon.  I brace myself as the storm engulfs me.  The dark murky mists entangle their fingers in my hair, as I cry out for God to deliver me.  Silence echoes as the light goes out.  In the dark I begin to cry out names of those I love.  The clouds do funny things to their voices.  I can never seem to find where they are.  Through the fog I can hear them pray.  They seek God’s face on my behalf, they throw scripture into the mist.  In desperation I cling to those words and slowly the light begins to return.  I rise in hope that the onslaught is over.  But the clouds linger on the horizon.

After some time I feel lighter.  I believe the war is over, the beast has fallen.

But he waits, lulling me to sleep with his light gray clouds.  Some days they rush in and almost over take me.  Other days they seep across the horizon and I am in their midst before I am aware.  I have lost my focus, my connection to reality.  Vainly I ignore their presence, confident my focus is clear.

Then he grabs me, sinks his talons deep into the fat of my back.  I struggle, and realize I have lost the light.  I have let him get to close.  I try to regain my focus, to find the light.   I cease any effort to find my focus, hopelessness and self pity become my nourishment.  I have lost my will to survive.  My grip on reality slips from my fingers.  Anxiety wells in my soul as panic overtakes me.  I feel lost, out of control, as  if something else is controlling my body.”

Still this doesn’t do justice to the reality of severe depression.  Before you get worried, I am working with my doctor to get my medication worked out and have several people watching me like a hawk.  Not to mention I have God on my side!

If you know someone with depression give them a hug today, let them know you are still there.

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When God says No

I’ve fought this post all week.  I dislike talking about things I haven’t fully resolved yet.  And I really don’t like living what I’m preaching.  This week I have been living the whole Fear of the Lord thing; it’s been a hard week.

You see, over the past month God has systematically removed any hope I have of meeting someone.  He made it clear that He did not want me on-line trying to find someone.  He has placed me in a job that I am isolated in.  And He even brought a good man into my life.  One who makes me laugh, loves Jesus and has that gentle and quiet spirit I long for in a mate.

On Sunday, I took a walk and begged God to let this man be my mate.  I pleaded and I bargained; “I will loose the weight, put on more make-up, I will do anything to not be alone.”   “No” thundered from the heavens.  When I reached the house, I fell in a puddle of tears and cried for what felt like eternity.  This resounding NO rattled my soul and shattered my heart.

As the no resonated in my soul, the anger quickly welled.  The tears fell until there were none left to fall.  Each sob rattled my body, my heart ached, and my soul dried up.   I screamed at him “you made me this way!  You have given me this desire for a mate to love and encourage.”  The only thing I have heard since is “Fear the Lord”.

I know He answered this way for a reason.  I crossed a line and He wants me to let it go.   My singleness is a constant battle between God and myself.  The last time this happened, I was able to pick myself up and stop fighting.  But this time it felt like His NO sucked out all hope I had, and replaced it with nothing.

As I pushed, bit and struggled to get away, He just held on tighter.  His grace filled arms wrapped around me.  And once again He held my heart as it shattered.  Exhausted, I collapsed into His love.  As I laid my head on His shoulders, He whispered “Fear me”.  I slumped in defeat.

I am still angry.  I don’t understand why this is His plan.  I do know two things though.  He is the air I breathe and I love Him more than life itself.  If you wondered what it looked like to Fear the Lord, here you go.  I don’t have to feel it, and I don’t have to like it.  But I do have to choose to Love Him in-spite of my broken heart.

As I said last time (Here) Fear of the Lord is a choice.  The choice of His will, over my own.  I don’t like His will right now, but I will always choose Him over me.

What does fear of the Lord look like in your life?

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Brave

Brave is not a word I would use to describe myself.

I hate making decisions or going outside of my comfort zone.  So much so that it can take hours, sometimes days, for me to decide where to get gas.  A major decision can take months, some even take a lifetime.  I even struggle after the decision is made.  Waffling back and forth over whether I made the right decision or not.

Yeah, I’m not brave.  But, people repeatedly call me brave.  Each time it happens I am taken aback.  I respond with a shy smile and a quiet thank you.  What I really want to do is laugh “ha” and say “I’m not brave, I’m desperate”

I’m desperate to stay in the will of God.  Sometimes, my motives are out of adoration and love for Him.  Most times though, it is because I dread getting out of His will.  I remember the 15 years I ran in darkness.  Desperate to escape His gaze and the angry and hateful God that I knew.  I lived in terror of what He would do if He ever got a hold of me.  One day I gave up, let Him catch me, and now I live desperate for His presence.  But I have to choose each day which God I am going to fear.  The all powerful, all knowing, loving God that He is, or the angry judgmental God I used to envision.

You see this viewpoint results in two types of fear.  The first moves my focus onto myself.  It fills me with terror, anxiety and a desperation to claw my way out of my circumstances.  The second is when my focus is on God.  This kind fills me with an unnatural peace and a strength to walk the path He lays before me.  This is the desperation I want (you could say I am desperate for desperation, haha).  This holy fear is based on His word and who He has proven Himself to be.  He is a grace filled God who truly is working my life out for my good.  A holy fear draws me to my knees in awe and adoration; trembling as His grace and love wash over me.  Each day I have to choose which type of fear I want.

Am I desperate to be near Him or desperate to escape His gaze.  What are you desperate for?

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When Leaves Ring

A gentle flutter, the weight of the rain
The rush of the storm, or the change of their stain
Life or death the reason could be
Change of the season is always hard not to see
The gallery of beauty envelopes my soul
My heart joins in and adds to the toll
“For Him we ring, for Him we sing”
Is the song of the trees when the leaves decide to ring.

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Lies versus Truth

I am a very emotional person.  There I said it, admitting you have a problem is the first step right!

Weeding through the daily barrage can be more than I can handle some days.  That is why I love my friend Joann.  She is the logic to my emotion.  I can rely on her to take a machete to my emotions; quickly clearing the way to the lie at the root them.  And she does it with so much joy and fun that I don’t know what I would do without her.

Recently, we traveled to Dallas to attend a close friend’s wedding.  Our flight was pretty early, so we were up before the crack of dawn ( 4:30am to be exact)!  By the time we crawled into bed that night, around 10:30, to say we were slap happy would have been an understatement.  However, through out the day my old friend loneliness had crept back in.  And I have learned over the years that it is better to voice these emotions, then keep them bottled up.

Here is how our conversation went:

Me:  I am feeling lonely

Jo:  Aw, because everyone is coupling up.

Me:  Yeah

Jo:  Well lets think of ways that people meet in the movies.

Me:  *Silence…*

Jo:  You could have a cat and take it to the vet, who is handsome and single.  Or your mom could  be dying and her doctor be the man of your dreams.  Or maybe you could go on a ski vacation and meet the brooding handsome son of the ski lodge owners.

Me:  What?!? *laughing uncontrollably*

Jo:  Wait, you don’t like cats, we don’t want your mom to die, and you hate to ski!

Me:  *crying, I am now laughing so hard*

Jo:  *crying, and laughing just as hard*

Joann and I

Trish, me and Joann

Yes, you are welcome for that view into our friendship.  And as absurd as that conversation was, it got me thinking.  Do I view my life like this?  And the more I have dug into it, the more I realized that I do.  Unconsciously, I have been believing that the day I meet the man of my dreams, we fall madly in love within seconds.  And then, we will ride off into the sunset in blissful marital happiness.

Ugh, now what do I do with this!

Whenever I discover a lie, I have to counteract it with a truth.  The truth is, relationships are hard.  I desire a marriage.  A real one with intimacy, conflict, joy, and mess.  But I don’t want to put the work in.  I don’t want to weed through all the jerks online to find that one gem.  I want the intimacy without the conflict.  The joy without the mess.  And my conversation with Joann has shone a bright light into this area of my heart.  And I can’t turn it off! (trust me I tried).

Telling myself lies has led me to give my heart away to countless men.  Not to men who deserved it, but men who had no interest in treasuring my heart.  I want to believe that I am not willing to do this anymore.  But truth is I do it everyday.  So desperate for love, I fling my heart in the direction of any man who looks my way.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to”Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  The life of a real relationship flows from the heart, and I am throwing it away on pointless dreams.

So what are my steps to achieve my dream marriage?  First I need to stop flicking away pieces of my heart.  Second I need to prepare my heart to be wounded again.  Real intimacy requires handing my heart over to someone else.  That process leads to gut wrenching heartache in the depths of my soul.  I have to be willing to trust that they will take care of it.

That is what I am pondering this week.  Is the joy and intimacy experienced in marriage worth the heartache that comes with it? What do you think?  Tell me below.

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The truth about change

Recently, I was blessed to witness one of my best friends get married.  It was a great weekend, full of laughter and fun with three of my closest friends.  But it was also a weekend of stark realizations.

Life is change.  You can’t escape it.  You can’t hide your head in the sand and hope it goes back to what it was.  Change is inevitable.

Trish, Joann, Me and Christine

Trish, Joann, Me and Christine

Years ago a friendship was forged between four women.  We walked through some of the deepest valleys of my life together, and they held me along the way.  For hours each week we would laugh, cry, and share our lives with each other.  When I moved to Oregon in 2008, our friendship began to change.  Since then, I have been trying to recapture what we had.  And as I flew out that weekend for the wedding, my expectation was no different.

As the weekend wore on, I began to realize, that what we had can’t be recaptured.  But it has changed and grown over the years into something better.  But to enjoy the better, I have to let go of the old.  Change is easy to do, but harder to live with.

Life doesn’t stop just because I want it to.  It moves on.  People change, weddings and babies happen.  Distance separates us.  I watch my friends move on and feel like I have been left in that valley; struggling to get out of the muck, as everyone else leaves me behind.  I feel the same way when it comes to my hopes and dreams.  They are always within grasp, but never quite realized.

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Yes that is water about to boil. 🙂

That is the reality of dreams.  They aren’t meant to be caught, they are meant to be surpassed and new ones take their place.  They are like change, it happens when you aren’t looking.  Just like watching water boil.  You can stare at it for ever.  Even give up and turn away.  But until all the elements have aligned, the dream will not come to fruition.

As I grow and change so do my dreams.  God shapes me and makes me more like Christ.  My eyes are opened to who I am in him, and they begin to take a more solid shape.

Just like change, dreaming is easy.  But achieving them is not.  We have to work to accept change and allow dreams to happen.  Because dreams and change are one in the same.  And our success is found in allowing ourselves to change as well as those around us.  When we accept our change, chasing our dreams becomes fun.  And when you allow those around you to change, you discover how beautiful they are when they chase their dreams.

 What dreams are you chasing?  What dreams do you wish you had the courage to chase?

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Wedding Fun

I haven’t been writing much lately because God has been stretching me!  I was given the opportunity to photograph two weddings.

The first was my best friend Trish who married a wonderful man named David.  I wasn’t the official photographer.  In fact, I didn’t even shoot these pictures of the ceremony (Jo gets credit for that)!  I really enjoyed the weekend and got home exhausted Monday night.  

Then this past weekend, Iwas paid for my first gig, shooting a new friends wedding.  Talk about go big or go home.  Luckily I wasn’t the primary.  Sarah hired me for more artsy candid photos.  The Metcalfs and the Knoxs were such a fun group of people and such a wonderful heart for God.

The bonus is I learned a lot about lighting and posing people for pictures.  I am ready to tackle the world of portrait photography.  Well maybe not tackle, but at least put my whole foot in the water.

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The New Adventure Begins

Words and pictures have always been meaningful to me, and I have always had a vague dream of using them some day.

Maybe I could travel the world, and tell people’s stories.

Or capture a moment in time to share with the world.

As I finished Packing Light, by Allison Veserfelt, (Allison’s Blog), I wondered if my dream was even still alive.  However, her words, gave me permission to dream again. My hand grasped that door knob and I wondered if the dream was too tired after all these years to come to fruition.  But I tentatively turned the knob, yanked on the door as the hinges were rusted over from years of neglect and my dream rushed into reality.

Joy filled my soul.  Each step God gave me the choice.  Each time it became easier to say yes!

It hasn’t been easy!  I have had to push passed my insecurities and trust that God knows what He is doing.

I am a writer, and a photographer.  I love to tell the stories behind my pictures. What I see, what I feel, and the joy that moment brings me.  In that truth I have found true joy.  For true joy is only found when I pour my gifts out at His feet.  When I believe that He is good and He wants me to find joy in life.

What is your dream?  Are you brave enough to open that door and see what He does? Tell me about it below.

 

 

 

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Packing Light

“We discover what we need when we live without things.  This is part of the value of traveling and packing light as we travel.  Sometimes it’s good for us to need things and not have them.”  Allison Vesterfelt, Packing Light

After three cross country moves you think I would be good at the whole packing light thing.  I thought I was too, until I read this book.

Packing light Book Cover

Allison has an ability to tell a fun and entertaining story while weaving in how unpredictable life is.  Whether you take risks or choose the safe right, you have little control of the outcome.  As Allison takes you along on her 50 state road trip, she shares the profound life lessons she learned along the way.  When the book came to an end I found myself wanting more.

I have had the pleasure of following Allison’s writing for some time.  and her style of writing is fun and entertaining.  But you always know that the nuggets of truth are coming.  My truth is that I was scared to offer to review this book.  It is way out of my box to review someone else’s work.  But I took a tiny step and asked Allison if I could help.

Here I am, a mere two weeks later on the other side of that little step.  God has used her book to open my heart to the truth’s he has been whispering to me for a while.  There are too many to list here, but I will be unpacking them (yes pun intended) over the next few weeks.

What is your traveling story?  Tell me about a time that choosing to ‘pack light’ or let go of something, led to something greater.  Everyone who comments on here will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of this book.  Please be sure to use your email address when commenting so I can contact you if you win!

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