Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irrevocable





Once upon a time I came across an article about hurting people and the church.

Several lines from the article went something like this...

I gave her some money and told her if she used the money for alcohol or drugs- God wouldn't bless it.


It went on to read something like this....


I have yet to get to the bold place that my leader has...

He tells homeless people that if they use his money for drugs or alcohol that God will
rot their gut.

They usually give the money back.

Deep breath.

Those words that sounded like clanging cymbals and nothing like love.

Those words that sounded like hypocrisy dressed up in good church lady clothing.

Those words that didn't match the heart of our Savior.

Didn't sound nothin' like my Jesus.

It also brought back a flood of emotions that I thought I buried at the foot of the cross years ago.

Apparently they are alive and well at the reading of this article.

And maybe it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and a holy anger rise up inside because I know all to well what judgement feels like.

I've had more folks shake their head at me in utter disgust during my lifetime than one can imagine.

And those who just shouted the words "You need Jesus!"

The unfortunate thing is not one of them ever showed me who He is.

Shouting someone down with a bunch of memorized scriptures doesn't count either....

Let the truth be known.

None of us can show any of us who He really is- if we don't even know ourselves.

And if we are partaking of His goodness and of His grace and then not extending that to others...

We may not really know Him. We may just know of Him.

One of the scriptures that has meant the most to me throughout my walk is this one...

The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29

Let that sink in for just a minute.

Here are a few other versions of the same scripture.

For God's gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.


God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.


For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.


You mean to tell me that the gifts of God come without repentance and the call of God on our lives is irrevocable?

You mean to tell me that we can be the worst in the world's eyes and God still pours out His gifts?

And that God still will not revoke the call on our lives?

And that no matter what- His gifts come without repentance?

That means you can be homeless or just hateful. You can be a prostitute or a drug addict.

You can never set foot in a church your whole life and make every possible mistake known to man-

And still-

God will not take away His gifts and He will not revoke the call on your life. He will not withhold.

Let that sink in for just a minute.

I'm not saying that we should live our life trying to make every mistake known to man.

I'm just saying that if God, the creator of the universe -

The great I AM-

The all knowing One-

If He doesn't take away, withhold or revoke His love, His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His peace, His joy, His goodness, His gifts, His forgiveness....

If He doesn't love conditionally...

Then why do we?

Why do we tell sons and daughters of the living God when they are at their lowest- their worst...

That if they don't do this or that- God won't bless. That God won't bless them.

Who are we to tell God's people what He will or won't do when we ourselves have partaken of His goodness and His mercy and His grace and His love and His kindness and His forgiveness in the midst of our own wretchedness?


God won't offer them the same?


The ones who don't even know His love yet? 


The ones who have no idea how much they are loved?

We measure sin and decide what is the worst and whether or not God will bless.

Whether He should bless or not.

Who are we to tell sons and daughters of the living God anything other than He loves you and let me tell you how I know...

Better yet, let me show you by demonstrating it.

After all, if it were not for the grace of God sweet friends- there go I.

How can we feast on His gifts and then tell those we deem as "less than" that they can't have the same?

As if the work of the cross was given only for the self professed good girls?

Only for those who seemingly have it all together?

Only for those who have had two loving parents and were raised up in the church?

Maybe it's just me, but I thought the work of the cross, the gift- was for all of us.

If the truth be told- we should all be face down positioned in total humility asking the Father to forgive us for the way we haven't loved. For the grace we haven't shown. For the wrongful withholding of love and goodness and gifts of mercy toward His people.

Who's to say that the gifts we extend to someone at the lowest point in their life- or at anytime really, will not be the tool that the Father uses to break every yoke in their life.

Who's to say that the fifty dollars extended in love through a car window to a precious homeless person will not be the tool that the Father uses to say this-

 See, I told you I love you.

See, I told you I would provide.

See, I told you that you cannot run from my love, my goodness, my provision.

Who's to say that our humble earthly demonstrations of His love won't be the very thing to cause
someone to turn. To change. To move past. To let go. To begin to call on His name and say this...

Surely God- you really exist.


Surely God- you really do love me.

Even in my wretchedness. Even in my filth. Even in my poor decisions.

That person standing on the corner?  It could have been any one of us.

If it were not for His grace.

Our life isn't blessed or great or wonderful because we have done it all perfectly. Our life, if there is anything good at all- it is because of His immeasurable grace.

Not because we deserve it or because we have earned it.

And not because we can shout every sinner down with a million scriptures we have memorized.

But because He decided to offer it.  Because His gifts and the call of God on our lives are irrevocable.

None of us are worthy.

None of us are without sin or blameless. We've all fallen short of the glory of God.

So why do we treat sons and daughters as if they are not worthy of the same verse in Romans 11:29?

He's called us to be gatherers- and yet we create division.

He's called us to be demonstrators- doers of the word and yet we sit- week after week- as hearers only.

He's called us to take the same grace we've feasted on and offer it up- not just to a select few....
but to everyone.

God gathers. God loves. God pours. God sows. God forgives. God gives grace that is incomprehensible to the human mind and spirit.

Prayers that we can all do the same. Prayers that we would be bent on demonstrating the irresistible and irrevocable love of God today and in the days and weeks to come sweet friends....


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Gift Of A Photograph





I hope you all enjoyed every minute of your weekend! 

Mine was hectic but I did manage to stay offline, refused to worry, baked something, read to my babies, wore a sundress while barefoot and listened to music with the windows down!

After that post on Saturday I received some comments and messages about some mama's who have not been in many photographs with their own children.

Oh how I can relate to that!

I just want to encourage you today. 

If you've never done it before now- for whatever reason.

If you don't feel pretty enough, thin enough or have anything to wear that you feel good enough in...

May I make a suggestion?

Do it anyway.

I promise you will cherish them.

Skinny thin. Flawless hair and makeup. Immaculate clothes- are not what makes a picture special- or beautiful.

It is the joy that comes through during the chaos of trying that is beautiful.

It is the truth that you loved yourself and your children enough to try that is captured....

It is a gift that you deserve....

Here are a few of my own personal attempts with a tripod and self timer and I want to just let you know right now that there isn't anything perfect going on in these pictures. It was wild. We were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe and it was about 100 degrees in the shade that day and we were melting.... 

But.

I cherish them.

Would I love to be 100 pounds, tan and wearing a gorgeous dress? Yes.  

Would I love to have flawless skin and my hair and makeup professionally done ? Yes.

But that isn't my life. 




This is my life.

It is messy and exhausting and wild and beautiful and amazing and miraculous....

And I refuse to allow those other things to keep me out of the gift of a photograph with my children any longer.

And you shouldn't either beautiful friend.




Here's to a week with you in pictures with your babies!

P.S. Baby Preston is recovering nicely from the chaos of being photographed with his siblings:)




Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy Weekend




Just wanted to stop in and leave a few "honey" words and happy thoughts for you for the weekend.

Some weekend inspiration and ideas...

Go offline for the rest of the weekend. Be in the moment with your family.

Wear a sundress (no matter your size) roll the windows down ( this will require you to get your hair messed up- it will be okay!) and go barefoot all weekend (even without a tan or freshly polished toes.) Just give it a try! It is liberating.

Try a new church on Sunday morning or try church for the first time. There is no perfect church but ask Him to prompt you or lead you to the place He wants you to try this Sunday ...blessings await.

Visit your local Farmer's Market. Even if there is only a five dollar budget. Fresh from the farm taste beats the grocery store taste every, single time!

Just for the weekend- don't worry. About anything.

This is a gift you are going to give yourself.

And whatever those worries are- just write them all down and offer them up in a prayer to the Father in one brave moment and ask Him to forgive you for not trusting Him.

That is all worrying really is you know...that we are not trusting the Father fully. 

Then trust Him on a new level while wearing your sundress and going barefoot and driving with the windows down. Just begin to thank Him.

Thank Him that He is working it out. That He is going before you. That He is orchestrating and organizing and opening doors on your behalf even now. Thank Him in advance. 

Read several books to your babies- no matter their age. Then allow them the chance to read to you. They love it and it is time well spent with them.

Get the camera out. Take some pictures with your children.


Even if it is like herding cats. (ask me how I know...) Do it anyway! Don't give up! Mama must be in the pictures this weekend. Set it on auto timer if you have to. Don't get upset if they are crying, running from you or stripping down to their Superman underwear. Just keep trying. You will cherish these photos almost immediately- promise. 

Listen to some amazing music. It is healing.  Jazz, classical, gospel, praise and worship...it's all good.

And lastly, bake a little something.  Your family will love you for this and your home will be filled with fresh baked goodness.

I hope you soak up every drop this weekend! All while you are offline, wearing a sundress, going barefoot, driving with the windows down, listening to music, reading to your babies, taking pictures, baking something wonderful, not worrying, trusting on a new level and trying a little church on Sunday morning.

Happy weekend sweet friends....


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The True Measure Of A Man




We recently celebrated twelve years of marriage and fourteen years together~ as a family.

We've always been a family.

I was a single mama raising my baby girl of just eight years old when I met my husband.

I can remember sharing about my girl right after meeting him.

And going ahead and "letting him know" right away that he could just keep on keeping on because I most likely was not what he was looking for in a date, a girlfriend and especially a wife.

He thought it was wonderful....that I had this gift of a daughter.

He insisted that we at least have dinner.

I could hardly wait but was worried at the same time.

Most men were not interested in a "woman with child" type of relationship.

But I was wrong.

He was wonderful. By every possible definition.

I can remember later on in our relationship when he shared some of the kindest things he's ever spoken to me.

During a time of feeling insecure and worried that I wasn't enough.

Worried that I was just damaged goods. Worried that I wasn't really his dream girl.

He was busy planning our future together.

He shared with me how lucky he felt to be able to see what kind of mother I was before he married me.

"How many men get that opportunity?"

"To know the woman you are marrying is going to be a good mother?"

Tears.

And my girl?

He loved her. With the kind of love that is written about in the good book.

He loved her like nothing I had ever witnessed- or experienced.

He loved her and adored her and blessed her and made her his.

The Father created my husband with the spirit of adoption in his heart.

My girl was the one who made him a father.

On May 20, 2000 right there at that glorious alter.

He became a husband and a father in the same moment.

A double portion.

It was as if it had always been.

I can remember after dating a short time he shared with me that he wanted a basketball team.

A big family.

Which had always been my dream.

But I had never heard another man talk about dreaming of a having a big family of his own.

Dreaming of playing in the NFL? Winning the US Open?  Or landing an amazing job? Yes.

But a big family? Never.

I couldn't believe his heart.

And so it happened...after thirteen years of waiting for two pink lines.

Because of God's unmerited grace....

He poured out a team of children to two very undeserving people.

Half a dozen precious ones to raise up in the admonition of the Lord.

Raising a big family can sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world.

But our joy is multiplied six times over.

With each baby our knees stay on the ground longer.

More prayers.

More petitions.

More forgiveness.

More grace.

More mercy.

More to thank Him for.....


Martin Luther King Jr. said it best when he said these words...

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

So powerful. So true.

I also believe that the true measure of a man can be found in the love he pours out onto his family during times of adversity.

In spite of adversity.

That doesn't mean perfection. Lord knows there isn't anything even close to perfect in this house.

There is no perfect husband, perfect wife or perfect family.

Only a perfect God.

There are times of frustration and sadness and despair and wishing for brighter days, for all of us.

But when the bottom drops out ...

To know that he still has something left to give us.  Some love left to comfort us. Some faith left to cling to. Still has some hope left to offer us....

Is a humbling thing.

I have watched this man lay his life down for this family.

Lay his life down so that the gospel can be heard.

Lay his life down to serve God's people. Love God's people. Love a wife who loves God's people.

I have watched him get on a 5:09 a.m. train and commute into the city for two hours a day for ten years so that our first born could attend incredible public schools and live in the suburbs in a wonderful community.

I have watched him get up before the sun. Never miss a day of work unless babies were being born.  Never even be late for work for twelve years. I have watched him be brought to his knees at the thought of not being able to provide for us when job loss became part of our testimony.

I have watched him remain faithful to a grueling commute to another state for two and half years and only be able to see us on the weekends, if that, in order to provide for us.

I have watched Him pour into a family- without being poured into in the same way.

I have watched him give generously over and over again in every possible way to many.

Without that generosity ever being sown into his own life.

I've watched him sow and love and pour into a family with every card stacked against him and through what would cause many to collapse in life...

Without help, support, counsel, mentors, pastors, leaders or extended family.

I have watched him stare cancer in the face and beat it- survive it.

I have heard the prayers and the pleading with the Father in the midnight hour to provide for us when job loss hit our family the week of Thanksgiving last year and during the months of crisis that followed that.

I was humbled by his prayers and petitions for months for The Pearl Event. For the Father to gather his daughters and pour out and bless others even in the midst of a time of tremendous adversity within our own family.

To watch a grown man pray for hundreds of women he's never met- because his wife had a dream
that a single pearl would be the reminder that they are loved and that it is not over....

Is a beautiful thing.

Thank you sweetheart.

From the very depths of my being.

For being the gospel to us.

For loving us unconditionally.

For pressing in when you could have given up.

For not withholding.

For being the strong tower of unshakable faith during some of the hardest and most pressing years of our lives.

I celebrate you and honor you this week of Father's Day and always...

The very best is yet to come. He has promised us that....


Monday, June 18, 2012

Pearls and Grace Photography




After much prayer and consideration and discussion about this for years....

I am excited to share the official start of my photography business. By His grace alone.
After years of photographing many friends and their beautiful children for free and after a short
try with it as a business in between having babies, I am happy to share that it is now official!

You can look through photographs here on the blog to get the look and feel of my style but it is very much an artistic approach to photography. I am not big on posed photos. I love a more candid capture.

I usually do the opposite of what you might expect when shooting. I photograph the wrinkles in the feet of children and the scrumptious hand and arm rolls on newborn babies, as well as the back of their tiny heads. I love a family of children piled on top of one another on a favorite quilt or little ones in pink tutu's with rose petals tossed up into the air. I'm an artist at heart and think outside the norm with every natural light shoot.

I look for what might be special to you and do my best to add it in to the session. I want to know you and your family and what is sentimental and special to you that you would like to remember.

And then there is the styling element. I love to style and used to do that for a living.
And so it seemed like a natural option to offer in my business and one that I thoroughly enjoy!

To help you choose or to offer clothing for the session is something that makes me want to twirl....





This little pearl of a business is based out of Tennessee but will be available in Seaside, Florida
several times a year with enough bookings.

And Seaside is filled with more charm and beauty than one girl can manage.

It is a photographers dream.

I have been shooting there since 1997 and it is where I have captured the images that make my heart sing the most.

It is a glorious place but any place along the gift that is 30 A is really stunning.

So if you would like to be one of my first official clients and you are in the Seaside area please leave me a comment or send me an email and I would love to capture God's glory in your family.

Lastly, I want to thank you for your many words of encouragement over the years with my photography and I am so looking forward to meeting you and capturing your family whether it be near the beauty of rolling hills in Tennessee or near the seashore of Seaside, Florida.

To God be the glory.





Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just Wait


Holding God's faithfulness~ Spring of 2009


A tiny voice yelled inside the house yesterday....

"Mama, hurry!"

"The turtle had a baby! There is an egg!"

My sweet girl was beside herself with excitement and reached down and touched the egg and wanted to hold it.

"Oh don't touch it baby!"

"You can't touch it."

"Why Mama?"

"Because honey. God is trying to do something. If you touch it.....
You could mess the whole thing up."

And right there in the frame of those simple words was the wisdom I needed for my own life.

I'm not sure if I can count the times I've touched what God was trying to do in my life and most likely messed the whole thing up.

I've given up too soon.

I've settled.

I've shut it down.

Stepped on it.

Pushed it aside.

Been angry about it.

Been careless with it.

Dismissed it as nothing.

I've sat on giftings and talent and ideas.

Convinced it was never going to happen.

When I wanted it to happen. How I wanted it to happen.

I've messed up and fallen short and touched what the Master was creating without
allowing Him to complete His purpose many times.

Sometimes out of exhaustion and frustration.

Sometimes out of a lack of patience and disappointment.

But if we will just wait.

If we can just wait on the Lord. 

There are things stored up that are about to be released.

There is a divine timing for your life and only One who orchestrates it all.

There are beautiful things with your name and your name alone labeled across them.

There are ideas that will change lives that are set aside for you and you alone.

There are books and songs and stories and teachings and business ideas that will help, heal, teach and deliver a multitude of God's people- all with your name on it.

There is a calling, a ministry, a job opportunity, an open door that is yours and yours alone.

There is a healing that belongs to you. For your broken heart, your broken body or broken faith.

There are authentic friendships of Godly men and women~ pillars of faith~ ordained for your life.

There is a spouse who is a strong tower of love and hope and faith and comfort and who was made to walk perfectly with you.

There is a restoration coming upon your family, your marriage and your relationships.

There is a home for you that only God could make available.

There are two pink lines, and nine glorious months and a newborn tucked inside your arms that have ached for years.

There are adoption papers signed, sealed and delivered and a beautiful baby who will call you mama and know you as a living, breathing example of the love of Jesus Christ here on earth.

The Father is at work.

If we can just know this truth in the innermost places of our heart.

He has not forgotten you.

If we would remember not to touch what God is trying to do.

Not to get in His way.

Not to give up. Not to shrink back.

Not to allow the sting of despair to fill our heart and mind and spirit.

If we could just keep our hands still and our hearts focused on Him.

On His faithfulness. His truth. His word.

If we could trade our hopelessness for His promises....

Soon.

Everything is going to change for the better.

And there will be a testimony of a life transformed and the faithfulness of a Father who loves you with an everlasting love.....