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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

I’m a sinner

Usually when people admit they are sinners, some people take a step back from that person because they are not sure what exactly it means. Some people tend to think they are better than others and have a “saint” attitude; they are better and the ones who are not are considered sinners. That sadly is not the case; we are ALL sinners.

I recently came across a song that I use to hear a lot back when I was younger; a 90s one hit wonder. At the time the song was popular I didn’t fully understand the lyrics cause I was only like 10-11 years old (maybe younger) and it wasn’t like my mom was translating the music to me because that would be pointless. Now that I am older and more matured (to a point), I hear the song and it speaks to me more now than it has ever done before:

I’m a bitch
I’m a lover
I’m a child
I’m a mother
I’m a sinner
I’m a saint
I do not feel ashamed.

The song is called Bitch by Meredith Brooks and now I can tell someone just what kind of person I am: listen to the song. I’m not trying to say I’m perfect and I am not trying to say I am horrible; I am trying to say I am flawed. Since College I always tend to tell people that I’m a bitch. Whether it meant in a good way or a bad way; I am a bitch and darn proud of it. Why? because I never took the word Bitch to be a bad thing. Yes, it can be used for bad things and even stuff I probably do not want Madie to know at the moment (or later on for that matter) but I am who I am and I can be sweet and funny but I also can be tough and demanding. Those of course can be good traits and bad traits; it just depends on the situation and how you react to that situation. Even now, as I grow closer with God and put him first in my life, the song seems to still have meaning because I am admitting: I am not perfect, I am broken, I am flawed, and I love myself because God loves me anyways for all my mistakes. How many can admit that?

I know some don’t like the word Bitch. It is considered a curse word or a bad word. As Christians we should be not speaking in this type of language and maybe as I get older I will learn that probably; but for now I know I live in a secular world with music that does speak me that may not to others and this song just says so much on my personality and how I do things. I’m not grey. I’m black and I am white. I am yin and the yang. I am a sinner. I am flawed. I am a bitch. Take me as I am… cause that will never change.

– J