Image

A band-aid

It has been forever since I last posted; and a lot has happened. After I lost my job (yes, I was let go) I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I had to hurry and take care of things for the sake of my daughter, but I knew rushing into something was just gonna be a quick fix; A band-aid. Rent was due, Madie’s tuition, Food… they were creeping up on me real fast and I had to do something. Now, I am not saying I am unhappy at this new job of mine (yes, I found a job!) but my income is way less than before and I am finding myself stretching at both ends to the point I am almost transparent. It was at a point where depression and stress really sat in. Life Sucked. There really was no other way to put it; it was just not what I expected my life to be at this point.

band-aid

Then after two months, I hit a huge obstacle in my life. I had to have emergency surgery to remove a mass and an ovary. Not exactly what I needed at that moment. Than it hit me! If I had been at my old job, they would have not saved my position because I was the only one in that field. I would have lost my job and worse, I wouldn’t have been able to find a new one because I was on strict bed rest. I can’t even imagine the roller coaster that would have been and frankly, I do not want to know. This is where I realize God had it planned the whole time. It isn’t what I wanted and It defiantly wasn’t the right timing, but God does things to us to help us remember that he is always there. Yes, I still was in a pickle and still am, but not as much as I could have been. It’s those little things that hit you like a ton of bricks and make you realize you were wrong the entire time. Life doesn’t suck. It may have just made a different turn but the road did not end. I still have a roof over my head, food somehow appears on our table and I am kept warm at night thanks to heat. I have to remember to count my blessings; not my curses.

I think as adults we tend to forget what we are blessed with and we let time go by and not appreciate what we have. He doesn’t want us to dwell on what we could have had, he wants us to remember what we do have.

My Blessings

  • I got to keep my job & they’re working with me to settle back in easier
  • GOD BLESS AFLAC (No Joke!)
  • Because it was during the holidays, extra gifts helped pay for expenses
  • Felt the love with food thanks to Church, Family and Friends
  • Madie got to spend more time with Mommy

I could go on but those seem to be a good examples of what I experienced. God was there. God knew. God provided.

What blessings have you experienced?

– J

Where does it lead?

© JESSI RENEE PHOTOGRAPHYWhen a new year begins, everyone always says “To a new and better year!” and we optimistically think “This year will be great!” — but what if it is way worse than the year before?

I can’t say that 2013 was horrible; I have endured crazy things in my life that make me realize that 2013 wasn’t so bad, but 2013 made me grow in a way that I don’t think would have ever happened if certain things didn’t happen. The one thing that happened in 2013 didn’t even happen to me but to a family I know and I had the chance to bless them with a gift during this difficult time.

The year 2013 marked a year of a child (that I knew, that I cared for at church) passing away. She was only 3 and even though she suffered so much in this world with the ailments she had, it is never easy knowing a child has left us and never gets to experience life. I’m not even the mother of this child and yet it hit me hard; probably because I did know her and she was only a year and half younger than my daughter. As a way to help the family, they asked me to take pictures during her funeral. Now, there are a lot of photographers in Idaho and in our church and I felt — honored? humbled? scared? — I had a mixed amount of emotions when they asked because I knew how hard it was going to be and I didn’t want to let them down. A piece of me just wanted to say “No thanks” and walk away because it was such an important job and I didn’t feel worthy of the task. Pity Party, right? I had a good talk with my mom and she told me that there was a reason they asked me and that I need to take it — not for myself, but for them; to help any way I could since they were going through so much. I had to almost put myself in their shoes for a moment and just think as closely as I could on how they felt. I knew what I was thinking was nowhere near it, but it gave me a good idea on how to approach everything and how to handle it. It wasn’t just an ordinary job and I wasn’t going to treat it that way — I needed to approach it as personal moments being captured during a time in your life that you can never imagine.

As I took photos through out the day, I pretty much put a wall up so I could focus at the task at hand and not let my emotions get in the way. I took moments you probably would only see in movies and moments that to them were gifts. I can’t speak for the family, but I can only assume it was a way of processing everything and knowing God had bigger plans for not only them but for the child they just lost. It was still moments of glances they didn’t realize they had done or hugs and kisses that faded from their memory — it was a day of grief, celebration and over all praise to God. I realized though after I had finished, I felt empty. I don’t think I processed what just happened or what I had just witnessed, but I was in a catatonic state of just denial and confusion. It wasn’t until just hours later, the father contacted me and asked to do her burial which was only reserved for family. Again, I felt scared but honored for them to ask and I, of course, said yes. Little did I know though that this was going to be the defying moment for me; This was going to change my life to a point of no return.

I arrived to see just a handful of people and a pastor from our church. Burial was short and sweet; even released balloons in her honor. It was a beautiful blue sky day and clearly God was shining through. At the end, I tucked my camera away and sneaked passed the family and approached the little girls casket, which just happened to be open, and I looked at her. I mean I really looked at her. It wasn’t until now that I realized this was the little girl who I played with at church; the little girl who sat on my lap as we listened to story-time; the little girl who had a personality larger than life — and she was gone. I touched her hair and broke down right there. I couldn’t imagine that she was never going to wake up and I just didn’t understand anything at that point. I remember even thinking “Why Lord?” as I cried. Than at that moment I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked and it was her mother and she hugged me. We talked a bit on how she was at church and we laughed and cried together. It was a moment I don’t believe I will ever forget and realize just maybe why things happen.

God doesn’t do this to punish us. In fact, it’s really not him at all. Our world is so corrupted and free will is in such control, God doesn’t have a choice. God does however gives us lessons. Things happen in our lives not to bring us down but to teach us and to teach others; even to help others. We can’t do anything alone, especially in this world, and we must stand together and worship God on who he is and what he stands for — Love. As much as it hurts us here on earth, we must smile and rejoice that Little Girl is up in heaven, dancing, singing, running, and pain-free. I can’t ask for a better gift than that. Days are hard, we are human and can be sad, especially for the family; but knowing her short life was meant for a bigger purpose in God’s plan, how can we be sad about that?

When the year was near ending, I had more personal issues come about that I became depressed and angry and had no hope that things will get better. I just think about that day at the burial when I got to share in such a personal and life changing moment for a family and I realize that my problems are fixable and/or can be replaced. It’s not an ending for me; everything is a beginning for something. We may not know what God’s plan is for us, our ideas may never be on the same page as him but he always knows best, no matter how much it hurts. He has our best interest at heart and he will never fail.

So where does this lead? It all leads to HIM. How lucky I am to be loved by such an amazing God? That after a lot of trials and tribulations, he has never let me down. My life isn’t perfect and it may never be, but as long as I have faith in his wisdom and his plan than I can’t fail because I have him by my side and I must have patience that his plan will happen and will succeed.

Take that resolution! 😉

– J

An Answered Call

Madison Prays @ Walter's FerrySome of you know of the hell I have been through lately. Personal and from Work and yet sometimes I feel like more gets added onto my plate that it’s overflowing and I just don’t know what to do. Sometimes you wonder what did we do to deserve this kind of treatment. Did we not pray enough? Did we not listen? Did we do something wrong and didn’t know it and we are being punished for it? I’m not saying God does these things to us but our mind tends to wander on the negative and God gets the brunt of it. I guess it’s just easy to blame something we know is there and can hear us but don’t get to talk back — at least I didn’t think so…

One day at work I was having another crappy day when I saw one of our substitute teachers. She is a good friend of mine and is now a celebrity from my Little Steps/Church family after her and her husband made Madie’s birthday party a huge hit! Well she asked me what was wrong and I continued to tell her just that and as I began to cry she hugged me and told me things were going to be alright. Than she looked at me and said “You know, my husband always tell me that no matter what we do — we are doing it for the Lord”. She continued to explain that my daily and work life should be given back to him. It’s not for my boss, it’s not for my daughter, it’s defiantly not for me — its all for God. I had heard this before from my mom and others but didn’t really take it to heart. I told her okay and walked off and proceeded through out my work day. It was until 4 hours later when I went to take my lunch break that the Lord really wanted me to pay attention to the teacher’s words.

I was checking my e-mails and saw one from Air1 with the scripture of the day. I’ve had this daily scriptures sent to my e-mails for almost 2 years now and it’s funny how we think it’s not that important at the time but it was brought to me for a reason — and this was it’s reason. The scripture read:

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” ~ Colossians 3:23

I think I had a deer caught in the headlights moment when I read this. Four hours after I talked to the teacher and four hours I got a scripture from a source that had no idea I just had this conversation. It amazes me just how the Lord really does speak to us if we just listen. I have a feeling I have missed a lot of his calls and that is why he had to literally put it right in my face but I’m glad he did because after that moment I felt such a huge release from my shoulders. Why was I scared or letting my life’s problems getting to me? It’s all in God’s timing so why am I thinking the worse or being impatient? We are human and yes these are flaws we deal with but we gotta remember one thing — God never fails. Everything happens for a reason. This teacher and this radio station was used for God’s plan to help me get through my mess.

I talked to the teacher later on and told her what happened. She looked like I had just punched her in the gut. She couldn’t believe how she was used for God’s work and she began to cry. It just floored her and she was so thankful for telling me the story. And did it end there? of course not! Lord never stops. When I was talking to her, I let her know of the scripture that came to my phone the next day and it read:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” ~ Hebrews 12:1

I told her that scripture was for both of us. We are surrounded by God with the people we are with and we need to let go of the sinful worlds baggage and let him be in control. Let us stand together; help each other; and know God’s plan for us.

I really wanted to express this because I know we go through this daily. We never know if God is listening and we never know if God even cares. I can tell you he does and if we just stand together, love on each other and help each other, God will use us to help others bring him to his glory. Because, what else is better in life but him?

– J