Stepping Back Into The Ring

IMG_1408_ppQuite some time has passed since we met here, in this space.
Enough time to have my hair bleached blonde, travel thousands of miles and remove any doubt that writing is part of who I am. I need it for my sanity as my lungs need air to breathe.

I have been writing.
Sporadically.
Going longer periods between has caused inner turmoil for which there is no other cure than meeting you here, more frequently, and being my fully authentic self.

Something happened last Spring. Something that would change the trajectory of my future.
I decided it was time to wean off some prescribed medication that I had been taking every day for 2 years for degenerative disc disease & chronic pain in L4, L5 & S1 of my spine.

Each one of our children was going through battles of their own which many times presented as a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

I fell back into my eating disorder. Hard.
I was all in.

We were being pressed from every side… and I wasn’t handling it well.

We will dive into the most difficult year in the life of our family, through stories from the depths of my memory. Which means there is mentionable room for error. I thought I was being authentic before, but Darlins’ as the song says, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”

I should probably let you know that some subjects call for a 4-letter word (or two). I don’t mean to offend. I love Jesus, and I cuss a little. “Progress not perfection“, is my mantra.

This is a safe space to be vulnerable. I want to lead by example and to pretend I don’t say the “s” word, even when writing is lying, and we don’t want to build our relationship on a lie.

So here’s the deal…I won’t preach religion. I don’t think that’s what Jesus did, so I won’t.
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on everything, although I do consider myself a master of my personal adventures. I believe I am a spiritual being having an earthly experience, not the other way around. (I’m 99.99% sure Oprah said that on Super Soul Sunday. I’m borrowing it now.)

What I will do is keep it real.

I will speak truth…my truth to the best of my ability and I will pray for each of you, every day, on this journey.

If you aren’t sure about God…believe that there is no God…are a bible beater…a seeker…a Jesus freak…a veteran Christian or anything in between, my hope is that something here will resonate in your gut and move you to positive action.

Thank you for taking the time out of this incredibly busy life to listen to my compilation of thoughts. I hope that you will visit often, leave encouraged and know that no matter what, you are not alone.

Remember this truth, God does not change and He is never surprised by anything. He created you with great purpose and there’s nothing you or anyone else can ever do to ruin that.

Love & Gratitude,
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#ProdigalDaughter #Ransomed #Redeemed #Restored #Renewed #Refined #POTSC

To the Oldies, the Newbies and Those Inbetween

thank you I want to take a minute to say, “Thank you.”
To those of you who have shared my writings all over social media,
To those who have read and commented,
To those who are receiving notifications of new posts,
To those who aren’t afraid to disagree with me,
To those who I’ve never even met, but consistently send me encouragement,
To those who email me with desperate pleas for help with addiction, eating disorders or something else you know I have walked through,
To those who find community here…
It is such a privilege to share this space with you.

I love that we have comments from all over the world complimenting our stories. It’s incredible to read of the laughter and tears shed (sometimes in the same sitting) while reading posts and comments on these pages.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that I’m a egomaniac with an inferiority complex. Some days my feet never touch the ground, while other days my face never leaves the dirt. I am my own worst critic with an inner cheerleader. I fluctuate between feeling like a goddess and an ogre. I am either the happiest, most optimistic person in the room or the anxiety ridden pessimist who draws the blinds and sits in the dark.

Through all of the emotions, I have written. The one constant in my physical life has been the ability to verbally vomit when needed and find healing in the chaos. Through the journey of starting my own business, grieving the loss of someone close to me and walking into incredibly fragile situations with families I had never met, to document the last few moments of their baby’s life, I know I can come here, to this page and process.

I have been completely overwhelmed (in a good way) by the response to many of the things I write. Astounded that anything I have to say would resonate with anyone else and move them to positive action. Elated to find that I am not alone in any struggle.

I am so grateful to you for using what I know to be valuable, precious time, to be with me for a few moments. It’s a gift and one that I do not take for granted.

The days ahead are full. And though I can’t come visit with you as much as I would like, please know that I think of you, my beautiful readers, all the time. I pray for you and I thank God for you.

Thank you for investing in my story.

Love and Light,
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My Beautiful Readers…

I’ve missed this community so much. I hope you are able to hear the sincerity in my written voice.
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The last time we talked I said that I would be sharing the exciting changes that are happening. I never came back and did that. The truth is, I got busy. Really, really busy. And now, well, I’m not so busy and here I am. That sounds much like you are getting my leftovers. I realize how not cool that is.

This year, my faithful friends, I vow to meet you here more often than “every now and then.” This place, here with you, is the energy drink when reality wears me down. Selfishly I want this to be a place where I can expose my wounds in hopes of finding a comfort. That’s what my ego wants anyway, but I will not be getting away with that. The winds of change are stirring, leaving me unsettled and excited.

What is God up to?

He is changing my heart. This is not the first time. It isn’t comfortable. It goes against every ounce of my human nature. It is, however, necessary in order to fulfill His plan for my life. He is drawing me away from the place of comfort and towards the place of risk.

He is providing everything I need at the exact time I need it, not a moment too soon nor ever too late. When this happens… when He makes it so blatantly obvious that He alone provides for and sustains me, it shows me how faithful he truly is. It makes me feel closer than ever before to His plan and purpose for my life. It helps me trust His design.

This year, I want to care more about how many people know love, compassion and Jesus than how many followers I have or don’t have on Twitter. I want to be quick to help without caring who gets the credit. I want to mean it when I pray, “Thy will be done.” even when it’s hard. I don’t want to be embarrassed or hesitant when people ask me about my faith.

So what does this mean?

I’m not totally sure? I have an idea. Some things are already in the works. Things that require time, energy and resources. Things that have no monetary gain. I know God will provide. He is my Great Provider and all I have to do is look at His track record to remember His faithfulness.

I also know that I am one of the few who has been given the opportunity to pursue my passion. It’s quite sobering to think about how much Chris has sacrificed so that I can chase this dream of mine. I also know, were he not in full support it would not be possible for me to follow the path of what I believe to be my destiny.

I guess what I’m saying is, “More will be revealed.” I miss sharing my story, I miss this community, and I’m going to do better.

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Finding my Muse

JoyHello Darlings! It’s been rather quiet around here lately. For those of you who have emailed and asked why I’m not consistently posting, “Thank you!” It means so much that you have missed my voice.

Please allow me to explain.

For more than a year, I have been in the process of making some rather BIG life choices. They have not been taken lightly or made in haste due to the weight they carry.

As of February 1, I am no longer employed in my comfortable position with incredible people who support me…I am officially a “Freelance Photographer” or “Self-Employed.” Isn’t that terrifying?! I am forced to take full responsibility for everything that I do even if I don’t want to. There’s no one to pass the buck to. I am the “Sole Proprietor.”

That’s right people! I’m using grown-up words. And they’re using me! I now have a CPA and an attorney. I plan for taxes long before tax season. My organized chaos is now my home office.

There are several factors that went in to my having no mode of transportation other than a leap of faith.1. I truly believe that God is leading me and he is faithful.
2. I have a man who champions my dreams while holding me accountable.
3. I believe in taking risks.

I have met some incredible people. I am working with everyone, from 4 day old babies to corporate giants. I believe that we are all spiritual beings with skin on and that rather levels the playing field. I could give you the whole speal about making a difference, blind faith and helping those who need a hand up, not a hand out, but I’ll save that speech for another day.

My purpose, here, on this page today, is to connect with my readers. With those of you who have encouraged me and moved me forward. Those of you who have trusted me with a story filled with vulnerable statements like, “I was too ashamed to post this in the comments…” I want you to know, I’m not going anywhere. I may be quiet for a bit while I’m figuring out how to integrate my writing with my photography.

For those people who say, “You can’t do both.”
I don’t agree.
There have been times in my life when I had no words, but a picture taken told the whole story.
So where I am not setting out to prove anyone wrong, I am embarking on this journey with a sound mind, a full heart and open hands. And when I allow others to make me feel like any of those things have been compromised, I quickly return to the basic truth that God is for me and when I am faithful in doing the work, He will deliver the blessings.

This first year (or three) will not be without struggle. Of that, I am fully aware. I am going into it with enthusiasm and trust. Nothing truly worth having in my life has ever come without sacrifice, humility and perseverance.

So today, friends, I am grateful. Grateful beyond the words on this page and blessed far greater than I deserve or could have ever imagined. The future is very bright.

Love and Light,
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Among the thorns

I have walked into a time of my life that is busier than any I have known before. 24 hours doesn’t seem to be enough to get everything done that needs doing. Plates are spinning high above my head on the imaginary poles I balance. And not well, mind you. The sound of china shattering happens more often than I’d like, but for the most part, I keep up the insidious act of holding it all together.

Recently I found myself asking, “Who am I…really?” “What will unfold over the next several months as I plunge into uncharted territory?” (For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, I will be leaving my current job position that I have become extremely comfortable in and exploring other opportunities at the end of December. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time.) What will I do, you ask. Well…I’m figuring that out.

I’m a writer.
A lover of words.
A poet at heart.
A romantic in the deepest sense of the word.
I love change.
I have fallen in love with photography.
I no longer see the world the way I once saw it.
I feel closer to God…looking at life through my lens.
The details that I never noticed now become impossible to miss.
And I will never see, even the smallest insect the same way again.

There is one place I love to go when I am stressed. This past weekend I didn’t even know I wanted to, but Chris knew I needed to go. It had been two very long work days and I was exhausted, but still eager to walk into my sanctuary of nature.

I had my camera, but didn’t plan on taking any pictures as I had been strategically photographing for several hours before I arrived. And then I stepped into one of the green houses.
Beams of sunlight streamed in across the plants and brick flooring.
The mist of humidity made it seem like you could hold the light in your hands.

It was magical and serene. It was beautiful and fragile.
It was an opportunity to be in the moment. To see God in all things. To inhale deeply and freely.

Nothing empty’s a life of the beauty of the moment faster than hurry. Call it what you will, but I believe it was God’s way of not only telling me, but showing me that his light will penetrate through absolutely anything. There’s no stopping it. There’s no hiding it. It will be made known, exposing not only the dirt and dust, but the beauty and luster of creation.

As I turned another corner, there it was again. Only in a different way. The light that pushes its way through that which tries to contain it. God knows that many times for me things have to be made blatantly obvious before I will recognize them for what they are. Before I will acknowledge the gift and the Giver.

The tension across my shoulders loosened and the stress melted away. I wasn’t anywhere else in the world. I was exactly where my feet were. In that moment. In the streams of sunlight accentuating the different shades of green on the leaves. The long slender vines stood out in a way they never had.
Okay, God, you have my attention.

From that point on, as I walked through the place I have been a dozen times before, it was as if I had never seen the surroundings. I would get lost in the detail of an orchid or the ripples of water in the copper basin. I allowed the scents of flowers in their last season of bloom to fill my nostrils and relax my mind.

As I walked 10 more steps or so, the most beautiful sight came into view.
My boys were drenched in sunlight. I watched as they moved their hands back and forth through the beams, laughing and squinting their eyes while looking up for the source of light. The tops of their heads appeared to be glowing. I couldn’t help but laugh. God, I am so undeserving of such beauty and blessings. The fact that you would give a wretch like me a day like this one proves that you are a God of mercy and grace. Thank you…Father…Thank you.

There is something God whispered to me continually through every petal, leaf, blade of grass and beam of sunlight. It was this…You are mine. Treasured. Sacred. Adored. Heir to the throne of grace. Child of the King. This life that you toil so to figure out has already been decided. This time that you say is not enough is in fact fleeting. These moments of little boys with faces full of wonder is just that, a moment. Rest. Listen. Breathe. All will be well.

I truly believe that it will.

Here are some of the beautiful captures of the day. I would encourage you to take a moment as you look through these pictures to remind yourself of how valuable you are to the Creator of all things. Blessings to you on this journey, my friend.

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You’re not the boss of Me

This was my less than loving response when my incredibly attractive husband walked downstairs and began our first verbal exchange of the day.

It was a Friday and it went something like this…

Him: “Honey, we need to run a few errands and get some things done around the house.”

Me: “I know, but NOT today! It’s my ‘pajama pants wearin’, don’t tell me what to do, day!’ I exclaimed, while shoving another sea salt & turbinado sugar dark chocolate almond in my mouth and chasing it with Peet’s coffee. (Perfect combination if you ask me.)

Him: “Ooooooo-kay.”

Me: “You KNOW this! Friday is MY day to do what I want! And I don’t want to run errands or wash dishes, do laundry or anything else that requires motivation on my day to do what I want! I will do it tomorrow or Sunday, but NOT TODAY.”

Side Note: My man is Sicilian. He is intense and passionate. (Two of the many things that make him irresistible to this southern gal.) Nothing gets his heart racing (in a good or bad way) like I do. I read his cues well at this point and what his deep caramel colored eyes were telling me was that he was maintaining the utmost control by not saying anything. Now, he may have been biting the sides of his cheeks ’til they bled, but I was really proud of him for not engaging my teenage like tantrum.

Him: “Would you mind peeling yourself off the sofa long enough to dress our son so that I can take him to run errands with me?”

I was up grabbing clothes, socks and shoes before he had finished his sentence! (The house all to myself?! You don’t have to ask me twice!)

I don’t know if he passed on telling me that I was acting like a brat because it just wasn’t worth it or because he knows I have enough self awareness by now to realize when my behavior is less than appropriate. I like to believe he was thinking the latter of the two. Either way, he offered to remove distractions, giving me a few cherished moments of “me” time.

I’m a writer. When I’m not able to express myself through written word I feel unsettled with each day that passes. By the time a week has rolled around, I’m ready to implode. I covet the moments when my mind can spill out onto these pages with uninterrupted thought. In fact, there is absolutely no noise other than the tapping of the keys as I write and the intermittent crunching of almonds. Ahhhhhh, serenity now.

So, here’s the deal. I’m keeping my “Don’t ask me to do anything day.” I highly recommend that you do the same. Pick a day that works for you. And by day I mean, several hours, not 24. Oh, and leave out the childish fit, it’s not pretty. Trust me!