To The One Looking For A Second Chance…

JCP-A piece of earth drenched in the splendor of HeavenMaybe you don’t even realize that’s what you’re looking for?
Maybe you’re searching for a way out of your current circumstances?
Maybe you’re longing for someone to look at you, truly seeing you for the first time, and say, “I know. I’ve been there. I’ve walked in those same shoes and I made the single choice to step off the crazy train.”?

Maybe you think you’re beyond a second chance?  Sweet friend, no one, created in the image of God, (and that’s all of us), is ever beyond a second chance. No one. You are worth saving.

There is life to be lived.
There is beauty to be had.
There is light to be shared.

However, it will not work in isolation.

~ To read the rest of this post, please join me with the community of “People of The Second Chance” by CLICKING HERE

When This Isn’t “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you were drawn in by the title, either because you are feeling bombarded with all the “cheer” while not feeling the happiness that others expect you to feel during this time of year, or because you are curious as to why anyone would not see this as the best month of all 12.

No matter which position I have found you in, I’m asking that you relinquish all expectation of what this post is about and be present as your eyes scroll the words and your brain processes the thoughts.
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It’s everywhere. The way we “should” be feeling. How we “should” be thinking. What we “should” be buying…

So what do we do when none of our feelings encompass all of the “should(s)” placed on us, and the last thing we feel is “cheerful“?

I have been given the gift of “burden bearing.” I haven’t always thought it a gift and at times tried to mask or ignore it all together. It has only been recently that I’m learning to embrace it and see it as a blessing rather than a curse.

The transformation started several years ago when Katie was 14 weeks pregnant with her 3rd child. Her baby was given the fatal diagnosis of Trisomy 13. On December 19, 2011, at 10:45 a.m., Hallie Lynn Green was born. Weighing in at 4 lbs.15 oz. and stretching 18.75 inches long.

On December 24, 2014, Hallie passed from her mama’s arms back into the arms of Jesus. Katie wrote on her blog that day, “Thank you, God, for allowing me to be Hallie’s mother. Although losing you, Hallie, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I would carry you and love you all over again in a heartbeat. I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. I love you.”

It is Hallie’s life and Katie’s willingness to learn how to walk in the dark that moved me from a place of empathy to action. In 2012 I began my journey, through my lens, into other people’s pain. That’s a strange way of wording it, I know, but it’s the only wording that makes sense to me.

I have been invited to document the sacred moments between life and death. There are days when I will experience the beauty of life and the gnawing sorrow of death, all within a matter of hours. I stand witness to a wide spectrum of emotions, at times, with people I’ve only just met.

The way to deal with painful emotions is not to get rid of them, it’s to sit with and in them, making the darkness conscious. Knowing that there will once again be light. Being able to experience emotion is key to paving a path to peace. To suppress it is toxic. The further we push it down, the more it festers until one day we can no longer bandage the gaping wound. Some cannot believe that the light will ever return. But it will. Healing is possible. I’ve watched it happen. However, to come to that place, one must be willing to wrestle the angel of darkness.

It is helpful to remember that grief is unpredictable. It shows up at the most inopportune times. It often comes without warning, when there are no Kleenex anywhere to be found and you didn’t apply waterproof mascara. It’s presence is often uncomfortable and frustrating. Even so, each time it appears there is something to be learned. Though the uninvited teacher, pain is not our enemy.

For those friends and family feeling helpless, may I offer some encouragement? There are 3 things you can do to help the one you love.
~ Be Present (Don’t avoid reaching out or taking something by and leaving it on their doorstep or in their mailbox)
~ Listen (I wish we could be more comfortable listening than speaking. It is a learned behavior. When wanting to make someone feel important, listen intently to them.)
~ Be okay with “uncomfortable silence.” (Silence is beautiful when we consciously befriend it.)

If you are currently learning to walk through the darkness, may I speak these truths into your heart?
~ You are not alone.
~ The Creator of the Universe knows you by name. He formed you, piece by piece and therefore sees you and hears your cries.
~ Jesus himself promises that those who mourn will be comforted. (Matthew 5:1-14)
~ You have permission to lower the bar.
If you don’t want to go to that holiday party, don’t go.
If you find your eyes welling with tears while walking down the grocery store isle, it’s okay to walk away from your cart and leave the store.

We must embrace the seasons of darkness just as we long for the seasons of light. To have one without the other leaves us lacking perspective and appreciation for either.

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Was this post helpful? Do you have anything to add about seasons of grief? How can we pray for you? How have you been encouraged through pain? Feel free to leave a comment and we will respond.

If you’re in need of encouragement, click here for a fantastic message from Joel Thomas.
To hear the song inspired by Hallie’s life, written by Casey Darnell, click here

Gratitude doesn’t sleep

I lie awake, staring at the ceiling fan turn round and round, wondering if sleep will ever come.

The cicadas make their presence known outside the window. Their sound has become a lullaby of sorts throughout the summer. A familiar bedtime routine just before sleep.

Where did the summer go? Why have I not been more present? The regimented moments of the school year will soon ensue.

Bella’s gone…again. Every time she leaves it’s the same hollow ache. Raw pain is the worst kind. There’s no time to heal before the wound is reopened.

In the stillness of night, everyone sleeps. My mind reels, offering no reprieve.

“God, please help me find that peace that passes all understanding.” I whisper. Gratitude is the word that sprints to the forefront of my mind. Thankful. Acknowledge, Receive, Bask in the goodness, share it with others.

Only inches away, my lover sleeps.
His strong sculpted arms now resting and still.
The legs that carry him through a day of work are relaxed.
The beautiful back that sustains and provides for our family, now stretched out in slumber.
The shoulders that carry the weight of responsibility, nestle into the bed that knows and gives way to his form.

Rest is such a gift and a beautiful thing to witness.
His chest rises and falls.
Nothing sounds as sweet as life.

My love. That one. The only one to conquer and reign over my heart.
I adore him. And the breath he breathes is the sweetest air of all.
I move closer to his warmth. Smiling…I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this man.
This life.

A girl like me, living a life like this. Having been thoroughly cleansed, now cloaked in grace.

I close my eyes.
Sleep will be here soon.
Quiet tears of thanks run down my face, into my pillow.
The realization that I would follow this man anywhere, settles in.
Where he is, I am.
He is home.

It’s not you, it’s me

Hello Wonderful Readers!

I truly miss you! I have been so disconnected from this community and it is obvious in my life. I need to write! It is a reset for my brain. It brings all the chaos into alignment.

So much is going on that I want to tell you about. So much so that I had to check in to say that I’m going to do better. I’m going to be intentional about documenting with words, the way I’m documenting with pictures.

sunriseAs for many, October is a big month for me. The first signs of fall begin appearing.

Dawn takes on a whole new light (literally) it’s captivating the way the sun sneaks up and begins illuminating the sky.

Sunsets are breathtaking. The kind of beauty that has no equal. Sunset

The most important things in my life this October are the fact that my man and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage. TEN. What?!

The fact that he has not only tolerated me but championed my dreams is beyond my ability to understand. I am so grateful. Wedding Day
For those of you reading this and thinking (Nice…another story of true love and a perfect marriage. I think I’m gonna barf.) Please do not be fooled. We have been through darkness so thick, we weren’t sure we would ever see the light of day. I can be totally stoked that Chris and I made it this far because the challenges we have overcome are proof that there is a God as nothing else could have accompanied us and navigated the road of unknowns.

Oh, a few quick details about the pictures…

  • We had just said, “I do” and “I do too” on a gondola in Las Vegas’, Venetian Hotel.
  • We were married by a minister we had never met and have not seen since.
  • I wasn’t wearing white.
  • There was no church.
  • Chris won a large sum of money at the roulette table he passed while walking to our ceremony.
  • We lived like rock stars for a week.
  • I was 2 weeks shy of completing my first year free from the addiction of all mind altering substances. (My drug of choice was whatever was available at the time. Do you have any idea how many mind altering substances are available at any given time in Vegas?)
  • I have not been back to Vegas since we married. Not because I don’t want to, I just haven’t had reason to.
  • There are people who still haven’t spoken to us after our decision to “elope to sin city” (sometimes people have to weed themselves out of our lives before we discover that we’re better for it)

Another date that is just as important to me is my sobriety date, which will represent 11 years this month. A girl like me…sober…for 11 years?! Yet another tangible example of a Higher Power working and moving. He has used my story so much in the last year. It’s crazy awesome and frightening and beautiful. (That will have to be its own post)

Big things are happening in my life and the life of my family. Bigger things than I ever could have conjured up for myself. Bigger than I have ever known and yet incredibly simple. I didn’t say easy. I said simple. In other words, not complicated. Not diluted by self-doubt and ridicule from skeptics. Things that have nothing to do with money or fame or worldly success.

Spiritually I am going deeper, wider, and more fully committed than I even knew possible. I am no longer sticking my toe out, cringing while bracing for the worst. I am leaping off cliffs that at one time paralyzed me. I am discovering true, unpolluted, without hesitation, faith.

I want to tell you all about it as it unfolds, but I must be patient and wait for the words. I must enjoy every morsel without thought of the next.

It comes to me in the most peculiar of places. I write on whatever is available to me, knowing that if I don’t capture it in that very moment, I will never remember it quite the same way.

I so want this kind of freedom for you, my friends. But I cannot give it to you. It is something that must be sought out through complete surrender, asked for and accepted. (Often times we think the difficulty is in the asking, when really it is our inability to accept when goodness is being offered)

The days ahead are exciting ones. I look forward to our journey together.

Until then, may bountiful blessings and all that is light be yours.

 

When darkness attempts to shadow the Son

For those who have been around the blog for a while, you know my belief is that something bigger than myself is protecting and guiding me. When you’ve lived within the grip of addiction (or most anything for that matter) you know that you are not in control and you’re thankful for that fact.

Still, we all have those days, right? The ones where we wake up feeling heavy with the sense of impending doom. We start believing the lies that we’re not good enough, we don’t have what it takes and we won’t reach the goal we’ve focused on. There are a variety of reasons for this.

Maybe it was a nightmare. Maybe its boredom or not recognizing the blessings. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s regret. The challenge lies not in figuring out what it is necessarily, but how to confront it, change what can be changed and let go of the rest.

For some of us the holidays trigger all sorts of emotions. Not everyone is feeling as if it’s the “most wonderful time of the year.” For them, the last twelve months have been painful and filled with loss.

I want to encourage you, in whatever place this season finds you, surrender to where you are. Feel it without allowing it to penetrate your heart. For this girl, it’s the only way to move past it. Don’t drowned it in alcohol or stuff it down with food. Don’t try to throw it up or numb it through a variety of mind altering substances. Just be. Be in the moment without letting it consume you. I promise, when you do this, you will gain a better understanding of who God is and the purpose he has for your life.

These are the steps I use when needing to shift my emotional reality.

  • Find a quiet place and be still.
  • Acknowledge where you are mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
  • Focus on the cleansing breath going in through the nose, filling the lungs and entering each cell of the body, bringing with it healing and life.
  • Find one word or sentence to meditate on and if needed continue to repeat it in your mind or out loud, over and over throughout the day. It can be as simple as, “God, direct my thinking.” or “Forgiven.” or “Child of the King.” Whatever your word or phrase is, it must focus on the positive.

Chances are you will interact with someone who is not in the “holiday spirit.” What will your response be? Step out of yourself and be the light for someone else. In order to do that you must first invite the light in.

So tell me, are you in that place right now? Did you wake up nauseated by the thought of tinsel toppers, reindeer SUVs and red bucket ringers? How will you fill your mind today?

1-Minute Meditation: Faith

Image

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening,
or exactly where it is all going.
What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges
offered by the present moment, and to embrace them
with courage, faith and hope.”
~ Thomas Merton ~

                                         © Joy Cannis and Even A Girl Like Me, 2012.

Need more than a minute?
1-Minute Meditation: Everything
1-Minute Meditation: Choice
1-Minute Meditation: Jesus
1-Minute Meditation: Affirmation
1-Minute Meditation: Fear
1-Minute Meditation: Awareness
1-Minute Meditation: Merton Prayer
1-Minute Meditation:
1-Minute Meditation:

Prayer of Surrender

“God, I offer myself to Thee
To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life.
May I do Thy will always!”
Amen

This is the 3rd step prayer used in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and printed in the Big Book. It’s simple, yet it says so much. A.A. saved my life. I am so very grateful for those old-timers, who, all those years ago sat around a table and committed to saving as many drunks as they could. The key is turning our will and life over to God. It’s simple though far from easy. There is quite a journey ahead of us, but thankfully our only focus is today, where our feet are. We will not project into the future and we will discontinue flailing in the past. Our eyes are set here, now, where God is.