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Restoration Plan

Restoration Plan is what they’re calling it, it’s like a sabbatical. Up to three months off with pay. I should be ecstatic! When I worked for the City I would’ve jumped at this. Now…I don’t know…I feel scared. It took my breath away. My thoughts are all over the place.

What will I do? I’ll be bored. I don’t have any friends. Who will I talk to other than Bill? I won’t be needed. I won’t be productive and being productive gives me worth and value (my identity). They’ll find out they don’t need me. They won’t let me go because too many or no one can replace me. Can’t I just not do it? A two week solo vacation is intriguing (Bill offered). Handing off work feels scary–it’s mine. I don’t want to lose it. What if I don’t get it back? Are they going to do my tasks right when I’m gone? I feel clutchy–it’s mine. I don’t want to let it go.

All this is running through my head. I don’t want to take it but I know I’m supposed to. God wants to be with me. He has things to do with me. Maybe He’ll show me what retirement will be like. I had six months off during COVID and I feel like we just got back and I don’t need a break or a rest, I’m fine. Yet, the more I think I don’t need it, the more I know I do.

What a gift! Three months with pay. I don’t have to earn it, I’m not worthy of it, I don’t deserve it, but yet I’m being offered this. It’s beautiful. It’s one of the ways God shows me love. I’ve signed up for August, September and October 2024.

It’s coming fast.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

April 19, 2023


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Psalm

God, you are my God and I will praise You until my last breath. You hold and sustain the universe and everything in it. You give life! You are love. You’ve created far more than we will ever know. We don’t have telescopes that can see that far, deep and wide. And yet, You know me, not just my name, but me and You love me. You know my mistakes, my dark places, and my heart.

You have a call and a purpose for each one of us. Forgive me for not living to the fullest that You’ve created me to be. Show me, give me fresh eyes and clarity; the boldness to step out, trusting that You will be with me.

I know I don’t believe that I am who You say I am or can do what you say I can do. Increase my faith God, increase my love for You, my husband, my family and for Your people.

I want nothing less than all You have for me, teach me how to receive it, to believe I can carry it and give it away.

“Promise You’ll keep on speaking to me,
And I will listen to You solely,
So the only words that fall from my lips are Yours.
Promise You’ll warm my face with Your glow
and I will breathe You into my soul.
So I can be more like You in these remaining days”







 




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Filled With His Light

As a young child feeling alone
I believed a lie and made it my own
It’s true; the things you believe
End up becoming your reality

Believing you’re not chosen; which makes you less
Leads to having a life that’s a mess
You’re going to find what you’re looking for
You’ll find what you believe and nothing more

To change your beliefs; change your mind
Start thinking thoughts that are kind
Give yourself and others some grace
For mistakes in your life; leave some space

Accept and believe the very best
Dismiss the lies and all the rest
You’re chosen, wanted and precious in His sight
Delighted in, loved and filled with His light.


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Listening and Processing

_MG_3445_edited-1God’s been at work in me lately. He’s been showing me things that have long been buried. This summer I found myself very angry 2-3 times in 3 weeks. My husband remarked that he has never seen me that mad before and what’s going on?  Well, like most of my Christian walk; God and I had a talk in my car and He showed me the anger wasn’t coming from the situation or the people I thought I was angry with. It was coming from all those years of abuse and mistreatment. Well, this was something I wasn’t prepared for.

I sat with it for a couple of days and at a meeting (of all places) a friend of mine was telling the group about his struggle with self-pity all of his life due to mistreatment and abandonment as a young boy. He carried this all his life and God showed him through various people and situations that it was time to lay it down; to give it to Jesus. During his sharing he said “I don’t know, maybe this is for one of you” and I felt my spirit leap; it was for me. I needed to share what was going on with me. So, I spoke up and shared with the group my anger issues and what I thought God was showing me to be the cause. They came around me and prayed for me. Before they prayed I was asked “do you trust me? Do you trust us? Do you believe Jesus wants to take this from you?” and  my answer to all those questions was “Yes”. They prayed for me and that night in bed I couldn’t sleep, I felt free and light and needed to process it.

The next day I took a yoga class, I always invite Jesus into my class at the beginning and thank Him for the ability to be there and do to the poses, etc. 10 minutes before the class was over I started feeling extremely sad, I found myself crying and realized I was grieving my little girl; my little abused girl who didn’t have a voice and didn’t comprehend what was happening and why. She was naïve and innocent to the point that she thought what was happening was normal and happened to all girls; even though it felt really scary and bad. I was grieving that girl as though she wasn’t me but yet the entire time, I knew it was me. But, I’m not that girl anymore so I felt detached from her and I was just really, really sad about what happened to her and I wish it wouldn’t of been. I journaled about this later and thought more tears and grief would come but it didn’t.

The other thing I’ve noticed God showing me is regarding babies. It started with my niece’s water breaking. I was volunteering at a Tapestry event this summer (Tapestry is a organization that helps/serves single girls who are pregnant and can’t afford medical treatment). I was serving there, a place to celebrate and encourage life. During a break I looked at my phone and found out my friend’s wife with cancer was told they couldn’t help her anymore, they were just going to “keep her comfortable”.  The next thing I saw was my niece in California who was close to her due date; her water had broken. I’m at this event celebrating life and my friend is at his wife’s death bed and my niece is ready to create life. I was confused and overwhelmed. Many different emotions at the same time. I broke down and cried, I cried for my friend’s wife and I cried because my niece has always been the one I related to most in my family; she was the only other woman who didn’t have children and now she was ready to give birth. When I saw the first picture of her baby – just “fresh out of the oven” I broke down. I had this strong longing for my mom to be here, to see her new baby. Mom was really close to my niece and would love this moment! I was sad because she wasn’t alive for it; even though I know she knows and sees from heaven I still was sad because she wasn’t here. She would love this! I wanted to share it with her and I know my niece did too. I was sad because if my niece could be a mom; I could’ve been one too. If she could do it, I could’ve done it. I messed up; I missed out. I was so sad, I grieved my aborted baby; I beat myself up for having my tubes tied to prevent another “unwanted pregnancy”.  I was so wrong on so many levels.

Shortly after, a girl I used to work with who I wasn’t really close to had a baby girl. They found out during the pregnancy the baby had some kind of left heart syndrome. Basically it meant the left side of her heart didn’t work, it wasn’t completely formed. I don’t understand all the medical stuff that goes with it, but they were told their baby would need multiple surgeries during her infancy. At the time I remember thinking “are you going to go through with this? Are you going to have this baby?” I thought they should be contemplating an abortion, ya know to save the baby from such a rough life. Well, they went through with the pregnancy and went to Boston for delivery because they are specialists in this syndrome. This little, tiny, innocent, beautiful baby girl was born. The first moment I saw her I regretted ever thinking about aborting her! How could I have even had such a thought! I was ashamed of myself! I had an abortion at 24 and at the time I thought it was the best thing I could do and maybe it was but I’ll never know. My baby didn’t have any medical issues to prevent her from having a healthy, normal life and I aborted her because she was an inconvenience to me! I’m devastated and I feel incredibly horrible for doing such a thing but I did it because I didn’t know any better. I was on drugs and living with someone who hated children, I wasn’t ready.

So, here’s this little infant born with left heart syndrome speaking from God to me with her story. She has already brought God so much glory just by being who she is. She is a fighter and she is doing much better than the doctors expected. She has so many people across the nation praying for her, having fund raisers for her and God is using her to speak to so many people, her parents, me and who knows who else. Every time I read of her progress or her condition on Facebook I cry. I grieve for my aborted baby, my heart aches for this little girl, I want so much for her to be done with her surgeries and be able to go home with her parents. My heart aches for her mom and dad and all they have to deal with. She’s a month old today and they have barely been able to hold her – she’s had surgery and has been hooked up to lines and tubes most of her life. Just lately they’ve been able to hold her a little and she’s been able to wear “regular” clothes. They as a family have a very long, rough road ahead of them but they’re trusting and praising God every step of the way. I’m so sorry for my lack of understanding when I had an abortion. I’m sorry and I grieve for my unborn child. I know God knows best and He knew what He was doing when He trusted me with my little unborn baby. I’m so sorry I didn’t follow through and see her as the blessing she was. I’m sorry I didn’t give children another chance in my life.  Although I know if I had them and didn’t change they would have had a messed up, horrible life.


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Your Story

Your Story

Everyone has their own life story
And everyone’s past can bring God glory
God can redeem brokenness and make you whole
Allow Him to refresh and renew your soul

The details of your story are like ingredients in a cake
When sifted together and allowed to bake
A delicious dessert suddenly appears
Created from your blood, your sweat and your tears

Each cake is different, no two are the same
Life’s heartaches and joys are what they contain
They’re different in appearance and in taste
But no ingredient has gone to waste

Celebrate the cake you’re created to be
Discard your judgements; let yourself be free


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Inside Out Love

I sometimes complain when I go with my husband Bill on photo shoots or meeting new clients but I shouldn’t because something usually happens that makes it all worthwhile.

Last fall Bill was with a mother and daughter shooting senior pictures and her dad met us in the parking lot to drop off some glitter his daughter wanted. He stopped to chat and told Bill he heard the photos were turning out great. Then the father added “well, she’s so beautiful” and the daughter just rolled her eyes like she was saying “oh, Dad; stop it”. I got the impression she’d heard this many times from her Dad.

I realized I never heard I was beautiful from my parents. I wonder what it would’ve been like for me. Would I be different now if I heard it regularly in my life? I struggle with image management and insecurity and I can’t help but think that if I grew up hearing I was beautiful from people who loved me I would be different now. I hope this experience helps me to remember to say these kinds of things to my nieces and nephews. People need to hear the truth spoken to them by key people in their lives.

A few weeks ago, I went with Bill to meet potential wedding clients. The woman was telling a story about photos and how important they are. Her aunt died a few months ago and she was given a photo of both of them at her aunt’s wedding, she was just 2 years old. In the photo she could tell that her aunt loved her with “inside out” love. She explained that she loved her nieces and nephews with this “inside out” love and she understood it. When she looked at this photo she could see that she was loved this same way by her aunt. It made me think about inside out love. I understand that phrase and I know what that love is like. I have it for my nephews and nieces, I have it for my family members. I used to question whether my family loved me that way and now I know they did, and still do.

We all do the best we can at the time with the tools that we have. We’re all flawed and the tools we have in our tool box may be limited but it’s what we have to work with. The experiences in our lives have shaped and formed us into who we are today. We can’t give away what we haven’t received. Sometimes it comes out sideways or we have trouble expressing it but it’s the best we can do. We need to cut ourselves and the people in our lives some slack. I’m going to try and give my loved ones grace when they don’t love me perfectly and remember that they are doing the best they can to love me with inside out love.

 


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Chosen and Honored

I attended a retreat called Sacred Rhythms and we did an exercise of Lectio Divina which went like this: the leader read through Isaiah 43:1-4:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,

Our instructions were to listen and notice what word or phrase stood out to us (from our guts, not from our heads), maybe something sounded louder to us than the other words; if so, that would be our word. The leader would read it through a second time and we listened for what part of our lives this fit into. The third reading we listened for the invitation that God has for us around this passage/word/phrase and respond to Him. The fourth reading was to release and return to a place of waiting and resting in God’s presence.

I was so nervous going into this exercise because we were to share our words with a small group of 4 people and I was worried I wouldn’t receive a word, or know what it meant.

As I listened the first time through I listened so close to each and every word so I wouldn’t miss mine….I thought it was “I have called you by name” but then as I kept listening the word “honor” sounded much louder to me; so that was my word.  My group turned out to be just my husband, Bill and I so I don’t know why I still carried my nervousness with me into this exercise but I did. I told Bill that I had two words and what they were and then listened to the second reading. Where did this fit in my life?  I didn’t know but in a flash “my story” came into my head. I’ve been working with God for 7 months now about being excited about and owning my story so that’s where it fit.  I listened to the third reading and got nothing….I tried to figure it out in my head. What was God’s invitation to me around “I have called you by name” and “honor” and what did that have to do with my story? I just went with my best guess — that my story had a place of honor with God or something like that.  The fourth reading we were to release it and go back to a place of waiting and rest with God.  I couldn’t get back to that place, I felt I failed the exercise (Bill got such an awesome message – one he couldn’t have made up, it had to be God) and I was discouraged and disappointed that I missed hearing from God.

On the way home I was still thinking and praying about it and it wasn’t until the next day that things started to fall into place. As I got quiet and sat with God and meditated on the phrases I realized that being called by name was an honor. It meant that I was known, seen and chosen by God and that’s a beautiful thing!

I was still holding all of this on Saturday night; and God showed me again that I had indeed heard correctly from Him. We had a praise and worship service at church and one of the songs a girl from the worship team sang over us had these lyrics:

I knew what I was getting into when I called you                                                                                                                                                           I knew what I was getting into when I said your name, but I said it just the same.                                                                                               I knew what I was getting into and I still want you,                                                                                                                                                     I knew what I was getting into.

I knew what I was getting into and I still chose you,                                                                                                                                                     I knew what I was getting into and I still want you                                                                                                                                                     I knew what I was getting into when I said your name, but I said it just the same                                                                                             I knew what I was getting into.

Wow, this song just wrecked me! Jesus knew what he was getting into when he called me by name but he said it just the same. That fits with the scripture the night before.

The very next song was “I am New” and I was dancing, worshiping and singing my lungs out in the back of the church. Toward the end of the song there’s a list of our new names:

“Forgiven, beloved, hidden with Christ
Made in the image of the one who gives life
Righteous and holy, reborn and remade
Of all things we’re worthy
This is our new name”

One by one the people in the auditorium stood to take a stand and claim their new name; their new identity. It was a very powerful time. We kept singing the chorus over and over and each time we did it was louder and more powerful, it touched me in the deepest parts of my soul. We could’ve sung the list of names about seven more times and I still wouldn’t have gotten enough of it!  Each time we sang it I could feel it building in the room; we owned it more and more each time. We claimed it. Doing this in a corporate setting with a community of believers was an awesome experience.  What a way to top off the retreat!

I am blessed, I am known, I am seen, I am chosen and I am honored!


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A Beautiful Mosaic

Approval not neededOn my birthday in February my husband wrote this on my card: God was so excited the day he created you because he knew your story from beginning to end and he couldn’t wait to tell it.  This really impacted me and I wrote about God knowing my story (see Circle of Light). However, there’s more for me to process in this statement. I have a hard time with the piece about being excited about my story, in fact so excited that he couldn’t wait to tell it.  To be honest, I wasn’t excited about my story at all and certainly not to the extent that I couldn’t wait to tell it. I was embarrassed about my story, ashamed even.

So, I’ve been wrestling with this and wondering what it would take for me to accept my story, to like my story…maybe, just maybe; dare I say it – be excited about my story. What would it take?  I’ve done a lot of work around my past and I’ve forgiven myself and everyone involved. I’ve received healing and I’ve moved on. But now, I want to embrace my story, love my story, want to tell my story and be excited about it.

I’ve been noticing and processing messages that come my way. Here are a few:

“We give off light in the darkness by our generosity, by trying to help in the world, by simply making it through the hard patches with a little dignity, so that other people can see that it can be done.” Anne Lamott Grace Eventually

“Jesus is saying that every moment we are freely given the opportunity to see through a different pair of glasses.” Anne Lamott Grace Eventually

“Owning your actual life means first that you embrace your story; the whole one with no shameful bald spot or gut wrenching regret left out. What if doing so creates a mosaic, that when put together and healed by God, becomes beautiful, and radiant?” Steve Wiens

“What memories can you look back at that have shaped you? Can you hold them in such a way that you believe they all belong?” From Daring Greatly book (Steve Wiens blog: Diesel Smell).

“We are who we are because of the story we’ve lived and the story we hope to live.”

These messages are a few of the ones that helped me get to a place that I could begin to accept and like my story. I started to see it in a different light. I noticed that my story isn’t really about me; it’s God’s story. He’s the one who created me, works through me and lives in me. My story is about bringing him glory and making him seen. When I tell the bad parts, show my shameful bald spots and gut wrenching regrets and then I tell where I am now; the only thing that can be concluded is that God is awesome!  He is not a God of second chances; he is a God of infinite chances!  He can take garbage, dung as the Bible calls it and put it together in such a way that it becomes beautiful and radiant. I’m beginning to accept and embrace my story and know that it’s really not mine but it’s a gift, given to me by God.

On my Father-in-law’s birthday (Bob) we brought him out for breakfast and both him and my mother-in-law (Bobi) told me that he had found my web site and they had both read my story. Bobi said that she was impressed and blown away, she remarked on how much courage it took for me to put it out there. Bob told me that I deserve a lot of credit and I had really come a long way.

I have come a long way but God really deserves the credit. The only credit I could possibly deserve is that I allowed him to do his work in me and I did my part too.

I haven’t gotten to the point that I’m excited to tell my story but I’m getting there. As I slowly embrace those embarrassing, shameful moments and bad decisions, I begin to accept them and hold them as though they belong. They’re becoming valuable pieces of a beautiful mosaic put together by God.

 

 

 


next page

Restoration Plan

Restoration Plan is what they’re calling it, it’s like a sabbatical. Up to...
article post

Psalm

God, you are my God and I will praise You until my last breath. You hold and sustain the...
article post

Filled With His Light

As a young child feeling alone I believed a lie and made it my own It’s true; the things...
article post

Listening and Processing

God’s been at work in me lately. He’s been showing me things that have long been buried....
article post

Your Story

Everyone has their own life story And everyone’s past can bring God glory God...
article post

Inside Out Love

I sometimes complain when I go with my husband Bill on photo shoots or meeting new...
article post

Chosen and Honored

I attended a retreat called Sacred Rhythms and we did an exercise of Lectio Divina which...
article post

A Beautiful Mosaic

On my birthday in February my husband wrote this on my card: God was so excited the day...
article post