Where is God now?

How could I ever look at anything and ask, “Where’s God?!” All I have to do is look out my window. I can see God everywhere, in everything.
But I have been in that place. More than once. Spiritual desolation where God is nowhere to be found. That corner of hell with gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair.

That place where a young mother is diagnosed with cancer and dies less than a year later leaving a husband and two young children that she worked so hard to have.

The place where baby’s who are “incompatible with life” are carried full-term, the mother’s belly sliced open to give baby life and after a few short days out of the womb the mother is left with memories, photos and a wound far greater than the one from the blade of the scalpel.

The place where ends don’t meet.

There’s no happily ever after.

Where regret is a constant companion and depression is the norm.

Where one begins to doubt heaven and the existence of a God at all.

What kind of God would take the life of a 17-year-old girl with all the promise in the world, one beautiful day after a small town football game? Her mother recalls her saying, “It’s the most beautiful day! I don’t remember a day quite like it?” That was one of the last things she heard her daughter say.

Who wants to know a God that watches two small children lay flowers on their mother’s grave and ask their daddy night after night, “Where’s mommy?”

If God is so good wouldn’t he grant the wish of the young wife who has cried herself to sleep for the last 5 years when the pregnancy test is negative…again.

What about the children who are sold into a world of sex and abuse. Being promised to the dirtiest of men who use them up and throw them away when they’re finished. Surely God doesn’t see or hear their whimper for help. How could he and not do anything about it?!

I don’t know the answer. What I do know, without a doubt in my mind, is that God is good…all the time…even when it doesn’t feel like it. I have crouched, head in hands, digging nails into my scalp, hoping the pain would cure my numbness.

I have been in my corner of self-inflicted hell with seemingly no way out while making promise after promise to my Creator of what I would abstain from if only he would get me out of the current circumstances and save me from myself.I have committed heinous acts thought to push me far beyond forgiveness.

Here is what I know. The same God who calmed the sea when he told Peter to walk out on the water to him, calms my heart when I don’t understand his plan. Just like Peter, when I take my eyes off of him, I sink into the very thing I think capable of overtaking me.

I want to have faith. I do. I want to see every situation through the eyes of a just and loving God with a plan far greater than my own…but more times than not, I don’t. Half the time I shake my fist to the heavens while the other half I lay face down on the floor, arms out, palms open, “Thy will be done, Lord. Not my will, but thine.

I don’t understand his ways. Why should I? I was never promised full disclosure. If I were granted understanding, would there be a need for faith? What would it really change?

He is a God who gives and takes away.

His love endures forever and ever.

I believe.

The only other option is the opposite of hope. A life of uncertainty, waiting for the next “thing” to happen. Asking myself when atrocities occur what I could have done to prevent it, when none of it is within the realm of my control, nor would I want it to be.

God is God and I am not.
All knowing.
All seeing.
All wise.
Infinite.
Immortal.
Unchanging.
The same yesterday, today and forever.

There is one thing I do have control over.
The choices I make.
In this moment,
I choose faith.
I choose not knowing the whole story, but trusting that it will play out as it should.
I choose joy.
I choose grace and mercy.
I choose to see people as God with skin on.
I choose life.
I choose Christ.
I choose freedom.
I choose trust.
I choose forgiveness.

I choose to go out on my back porch, take in beauty that is far too majestic to capture, inhale cleansing breaths through my nose and into every cell in my body, all that is good, all that is well, all that is pure and healing. While exhaling the “what if?” “Why me?” “Why them?” “Why now?” I choose the something far greater awaiting me, if I choose to believe.

Will you marry me?

We have this adorable little girl in our lives named Aubrey. She is my close friend’s daughter. She is funny and precious, full of wonder and overflowing with character. I cannot imagine life without her.

Oh, and I should probably mention that when asking my youngest son about her, his response is, “She’s my girl.”Yesterday I asked if she could come with us to the Botanical Gardens so that Caden wouldn’t be so reluctant to go and so that I could practice photographing with a specific lens. As always, it was delightful and we had a fun time running through trails, looking at fall decor and smelling exotic flowers.

The time I will most remember is sitting around the table at lunch. The conversation that followed was priceless. I was snapping pictures as quickly as I could throughout the discussion.

“Caden, do you wanna marry me?”

(silence)

Caden continues to color. Never looking up.

Aubrey, finding this somewhat frustrating, asks a little louder and with more urgency.

“Caden! I said, do you wanna marry me?!”

Still looking at his artwork, he says, “Yeah.”
“When you’re married you can kiss whenever you want.” exclaims Aubrey.

Caden responds, “I’m gonna kiss you now.”

“Okay. Come kiss me then. The boy’s pose to ask the girl.”

Caden sends an air kiss and sits back down.Moments pass before Aubrey speaks up.

“Do you love me Caden?”

“I love you forever.” he replies. (Still coloring)

“Where do you wanna get married Caden?”

“At the Botanical Gardens.” he says.

“Do you wanna have a band?” she asks.

“Uh-huh.”

“My dress is gonna be made out of flowers!” she announces.

“That’ll be pretty.” he replies.

“Do we want to get married during the day or at night?” she asks.

He thinks for a minute…”At night. And we’ll have hotdogs, toasted cheese, brownies and pizza to eat.”

“Cake and ice cream later.” she adds.

“Okay! It’s settled!” she proclaims.

“Should I tell my mom?”
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Yay! How much do I LOVE this week’s photo challenge?! A LOT! It was tough for me to choose only a few, but I have done it! Are you ready? Here we go. Strings of lights hung above a walkway. … Continue reading

Five Minute Friday: Welcome

I’ve been awake since four and when I finally decided to get up the first thought that came to mind was, “It’s been nine years.” I snuck downstairs and opened my laptop to see what the FMF prompt would be and how it might relate to this anniversary. This is what I found.

I’m a big definitions girl. I like to see a word dissected into smaller words and explained in black and white. When reading the definition of welcome this part caught my eye; used to indicate that one is relieved to be relinquishing the control or possession of something to another. Today, if you ask me what I think of this word as it relates to my relationship with the #1 man in my life, this is what I would say…

Nine years ago today, the man of my dreams vowed to love me forever.
To support me in mind, body and spirit.
To walk with me down whatever path we were led.
To love my daughter as his own.
He welcomed me in a way that no one ever had.
He knew all most of the good, the bad and the ugly.
He saw something that even I could not see.
Maybe I didn’t see it then, but I have gladly relinquished control of my heart into his keeping.
Looking back, I am humbled and delighted at where God has brought us over the last 10 years.
We now have these incredible children. Two of which are boys.
I love seeing Chris with our boys! They try to fill his size 13 footprint, but they are still learning and growing, striving and reaching.
Chris welcomes the challenge of being an exemplary father to our sons.
It is not always easy, but he knows that their feet are quickly catching up to his and one day they will welcome a family of their own.
We welcome this time in our journey when we can watch our children explore and discover.
We welcome another anniversary signaling God’s presence in our lives throughout another year.

Perspective and Grace

It’s early. The stillness is calming as I look out on the water that looks like glass, the sun is just starting to peek through the layer of clouds spread across the sky. Last night my dreams were filled with random and stressful things. I was running through most of it. Physically running.

Is that what I’m doing? Running? I have sat down staring at this white page on the computer screen a dozen times in the last week. Nothing. There are millions of things swirling around in my mind. Good things. Bad things. Meaningful things. They just won’t come together to form a sentence.

Last night I spent some time on my good friend, Leanne Penny‘s blog. Her latest entry is about seasons of life. It hit me. Why am I struggling so much? Why do I keep trying to force words into a post? Why am I looking at my stats? I know myself well enough to know that if I had 5,000 “followers” I would be asking myself why I didn’t have 10,000. When really, that’s not at all what this is about. I have to remind myself why I started.

It was to share my experience, strength and hope with others as a way of giving back. A way of saying, “Thank you.” to the God who could have left me in the gutter. A way of spreading hope and healing for broken dreams.

I am a living, breathing example that you can have a plan for exactly how your life is going to go, but for the majority of us it will not look at all like we planned. If my life had gone the way I “planned” I would have been a published author by the age of 30, after I had grown tired of being a successful actress, model and Broadway singer. You laugh, but that is what I was aspiring to.

And then something went wrong and I turned into a wretched depiction of my former self. The more I self medicated, the more hollow I became. I was far from home and completely disconnected from all that had ever been good in my life.

It took an undercover cop, a u-haul, some garbage bags filled with my things and a trip across several state lines before I could begin at zero and build from there. I look back at that scared, emaciated, ego driven, 18-year-old girl and it doesn’t make me sad or regretful anymore. It makes me smile. To think of how far one can go to escape God and everything one has ever known only to find a better understanding than she ever would have had otherwise.

I am the face of redemption. I am cleansed and restored. I have been put back together. I am found. Never to be lost again. I am People of the Second Chance.

 

In spite of everything…Peace

“Whenever we feel lost, or insane, or afraid, all we have to do is ask for His help.
The help might not come in the form we expected, or even thought we desired,
but it will come, and we will recognize it by how we feel.
In spite of everything, we will feel at peace.”

~ Marianne Williamson ~

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

I am walking into a time of uncertainty.
It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.
It’s both beautiful and wretched.
And the thought of it makes me feel free.
Possibilities are once again within reach.
Those things that I thought had withered and gone
are springing to life
and waking the potential that the future holds.
Fear can be paralyzing
or
fear can be liberating.
If it’s going to come regardless of circumstances,
why not use it for certain change?
Why not seize the change that awaits?
Why not relish the opportunities that are waiting just beyond
this one act of faith?
Uncertainty is capable of breeding dissension
or
providing the way to enlightenment.
I choose the latter.

Pardon me while I compare my insides to your outsides

© Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012

While shooting pictures yesterday for something unrelated to birds on a wire, I turned around and saw this site that had to be captured. It goes right along with how I have been thinking and feeling. It was as if it was placed there just for me and all I had to do was look up.

I laughed while thinking, “I wonder if this bird ever looks around and thinks, ‘Why don’t I look like they do?'” You have to admit, he kind of stands out. Do you think he sees his uniqueness as a blessing?

My temperament is one that craves relationships and interaction with many different people. I invest heavily in the lives of those I love and enjoy doing so. However, when I am experiencing inward turmoil I want to retreat and be quite. Lately, while going through certain stress I have been unable to withdraw which forces me to interact with others when I am out of sorts. This can be disconcerting.

In the past couple of weeks I have found myself looking around and thinking, “How does she do that?!

“How does she work full-time, grocery shop during the week, run her children back and forth from soccer practice, gymnastics and piano, keep her house clean, volunteer at her church, serve on the PTA and have dinner waiting when her significant other returns from work? And what about doctors appointments in between and the unexpected illness?”

So tell me ladies, are you one of these women? If so, are you really doing everything that it appears you’re doing? Do you have hidden super powers? Are you saying affirmations in the mirror multiple times throughout the day to keep up the pace?

Most days, I feel more like this chick…
I can relate to the white bird on the wire. Sometimes I feel that my uniqueness is a gift and adds to my awesomeness. Other times I see it as a hindrance and something to be overcome. Here is what I know about feelings, they are constantly changing. Feelings in and of themselves are not to be trusted. So I must rely on truth, grace and the love that I know to be unchanging.

What are your thoughts? Am I way off base or do you know exactly where I am coming from on this?