May 9, 2011

Thrown

Internet- can I be honest? I am terrible at in-betweens.  I mean I suck at mediums.  Like- I can be passive or aggressive.  I can rock ecstatic or depressed.  Super hot or cold as ice? Got it.  I can be wide awake and going full speed, or fully and completely exhausted.  The radio can be blasting or off.  Steady is not my jam. Deepbreathbigsigh.

I took this picture of Cade a long time ago and it popped into my head the other night as I stood in my driveway attempting to wind down.  (I’m terrible at winding down)  This picture, oh do I relate.  That first shot, that moment where that poor kid is suspended mid-air.  I know that moment. I feel it. It’s sooo fun going up right? But that hanging up there, the view from that height, that split second of weightlessness- that’s where I’m at.  I will be caught; I’m sure of it. And I love being caught. I love His arms. I smiled all the way up and there will be raucous joy and “Again! Again!” as soon as His hands embrace me. But right now? Anxious anticipation. That’s where I’m at folks.  See you on the flip side. Love, love.

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May 5, 2011

Okay

Alright guys, can we chat about that hypothetical girl again?  Let’s do.

She had kind of a rough go as a kid.  Maybe not the roughest go ever, but it certainly wasn’t awesome.  There was some abuse and some manipulation.  And she was a pretty perceptive kid.   And something that happens sometimes (I think, I mean I don’t know for sure, maybe) to pretty perceptive kids who get asked to do things they don’t want to do and then forced or abused is- they learn to figure out what people want and give it to them before they get hurt.  Sometimes they guess what a person wants before that person even knows what they want.  Sometimes they spend lots of their life trying not to get hurt and giving out things they shouldn’t because that’s how they’ve survived.  Sometimes they guess wrong about people and sometimes they don’t, but mostly these pretty perceptive people pleasers are running around exhausting themselves with big giant smiles on their faces because they’re just glad they’re not getting abused.

And sometimes- people come along who don’t want anything from them and flip their world upside down.  I’m not saying at all that she’s, ah forget it, I’ve never had anyone like me for me.  I have plenty of Amazing Friends who have helped me grow in this area, even a few men.  It has certainly been helpful to have awesome, caring, loving people encircle me and not only not ask anything of me, but give Love to me.  But then That Awful Thing and a few other Terrible Things happened a few months ago, and along with a few of my basic human functions, like eating, breathing and speaking, my trust in men went down the drain.

Fast forward almost nine months and I’m getting better, free-er and all that jazz.  But still, guys kinda freak me out.  Seriously, like- I’m super good at playing cool but internally I get nauseous when males look at or stand near me.  And I’m not even talking about aggressive guys hitting on me, I mean like, men at church, friends, husbands of friends- tie my stomach in knots when they get within two feet or require eye contact.  But going through life with a stomach ache whenever some perfectly kind man is trying to be nice to me seems unnecessary, so I pray and I ask for prayer and I sit still with my queasy stomach and make myself make eye contact.  And I laugh. A lot. Because I feel so ridiculous for being nervous about nothing.  And all of that is pretty helpful until…  (and crap, now I’m crying)

All of that is pretty helpful until there are a couple of guys, men I guess, who want to talk more than just in passing, they care.  Well, one of them is the husband of one of my New Friends and he likes me and he cares.  And one is not anyone’s husband and he really likes me and really cares.   And they don’t want anything from me.  Nothing.  And not knowing what they want starts to suffocate me.  And it turns my stomach and gives me headaches.  Because if I can’t figure it out, I might get hurt.

But then these men keep not wanting anything and not hurting me.  And I talk to a couple of friends and they don’t coddle me like they have before, like I hoped they might. They tell me to push past it and they pray for me.  Because God is doing something.  And just because it’s uncomfortable,(hell, it’s not uncomfortable, it’s really freaking painful at times), doesn’t mean it’s bad.  So I do push past it over and over, (though not without whining).  And I start laughing to laugh instead of laughing at how awful I feel.

And the sweetest thing happens- God starts dropping little promises in my ear like breadcrumbs down a path to healing.  He starts telling me secrets about me and about what’s going to happen.  And His promises, little though they might be, keep on coming true.  And I keep trusting and it’s all gravy for the most part.  But then the one guy, the one who really likes me, he wants to love me.  And it makes me want to run the opposite direction on that path.

My little-girl/teenage/twenty-eight-year-old self is SCREAMING at me “Nothing good has ever happened when a man loved you”  And though part of me knows that is not the truth, it shakes me to the core.  But God.  Right? Yeah.  But God and a couple of my Amazing Friends assure me that it would be an even worse idea to not silence it.  Goodness.  I struggle to get out of my own head for a day and it’s completely exhausting.  I can’t even begin to explain how hard I fight myself, and God sometimes.  I might be tiny, but I wrestle like nobody’s business.

Ugh, the struggle, I hate it but I know it, and sometimes I love it.  So I spend an entire day and night struggling with my little-girl/teenage/twenty-eight-year-old self and God.  And at the end of that twenty-four hour period, God asks me to stop fighting.  He says He loves me and that I can fight Him about other things, but He wants me to stop fighting Him about this and start to trust.  And I ask Him what the hell I’m supposed to do with all of my fear about Guy Who Wants to Love Me and God says to tell him.  Yeah.  This is how that went “Umm, no. He is the one I’m scared of, I’m not giving him all of this. Don’t you get that that’s the deal, I’m not giving the person that I am scared of all of my fears.” And then God was like “Kid, trust me. Look at all the promises I have kept so far.”

So I did, trust and tell. And then Guy Who Wants to Love Me listened carefully and asked what I needed, and quietly held me for a little while.  And it was good.  Because it was one more Promise come true.  So I am still on this path, skipping here and there, smiling a lot more,  and pretty excited about where it’s leading me.

Annnnd Big! Enormous! Giant! Huge! shout-out to the lovely, wonderful, insightful, wise, caring and understanding friends who have not coddled me but gently pushed me, held my hands and prayed.  And Uber- Big! Enormous! Giant! Huge! shout-out to New Friends Husband Who Cares.

Annnnd Guy Who Wants to Love Me- Okay.

April 25, 2011

Normalizing Normal

‘Normalize those awkward feelings that are about normal things’   That’s what I’ve been told to do. You must know by now that I am a little bit feisty and somewhat argumentative. And holy cow there is a lot of (really great!) stuff going on. But well, I’m not used to really great. And as a matter of fact, I am not used to normal. And so, there is some wrestling going on over here as I try to calm my nerves and be at peace with normal. Also going on over here, these 3 stories on replay:

A few months ago, I had a little conversation with Nancy that went something like this:
Nancy: I love you.
Me: Why?
Nancy: Because you’re special.
Me: Aww, I bet you say that to all the girls you take to the ER
Nancy: You’re especially special. He told me so.
And for some reason I just stopped arguing and received it.  She’s pretty convincing I guess, so that’s good.

Also a few months ago at the end of Kairos, I was standing at the back amidst a crowd of peeps waiting to talk to Bob Hamp, after a minute or so I decided to give up and head out. And then. He grabbed my arm right above the elbow and said “Hold on. Don’t move.” And. I. Froze. And internally all kinds of alarms went off. Because, you guys- Nothing good has ever happened when a guy grabbed me and said don’t move. But this time. He just looked me in the eye, all tall and Gandalf-y and said nice, encouraging things. And I breathed a giant sigh of relief that flipped a little switch in me. And now, I freak out a little bit less when men talk to me. Well, I don’t run at least. So that’s good.

Annnd, a few weeks ago, I did a photo session with One of My Favorite Families.
And an extremely large and very threatening, maybe even malicious butterfly flew at me. And I kinda freaked out. I mean, I ducked and maybe squealed. At a butterfly.

And that’s what I feel like I’m doing now. There is actually nothing threatening or malicious. This (really great!) stuff is like a butterfly.

And so I’m working on receiving Love, and not being terrified of men, or butterflies.

::deep breath big sigh::

To be continued…

April 15, 2011

Writing Anyway

This writing thing, much like photography has become a have-to for me.  Some days words are my air and writing is my breath.  And so I write.  And then I struggle because I feel so absolutely and completely unqualified to be writing.  Something in me says “Put it out there. Contribute.  Share.” And then something, someone, says “Haha.”

Perfectionism is a sneaky devil, a brand new enemy for me.  I’ve only recently encountered the extreme displeasure of worrying about measuring up to my own expectations.  “This piece is not half as good as the last thing you wrote.” Oh and “Why even put more junk out on the internet when there are so many people, wiser, braver, more articulate, more mature, more educated, more spiritual than you.” And “Nothing you’re saying is new.  Your words are of no consequence; you’re wasting your time and everyone else’s”.  I wrestle against these thoughts, worry about calling them lies for fear that they might be true.

And I think maybe it is even more sneaky and evil than I originally thought.  It’s not just a ploy to make me question myself and feel like crap.  It’s a scheme against a gift that God has given me that could be used to help people understand more about His Love.  Because the thing is, God has been surrounding me with all kinds of amazing people.  He has connected me with some incredible new friends and some outstanding teachers.  And I think maybe in doing this He is pushing me to grow, stretching me.  Sure, stretching can be uncomfortable.  But this sneaky liar keeps telling me that the discomfort I feel is my not-good-enough-ness.  What a jerk right?  Indeed.

I was asking Jesus about this the other day, and as He does, He answered my question with a question.  I asked, “Is this you?  Should I just let go of this writing thing until I’m done with school, know more scripture, until I’m more mature and insightful and qualified?  Am I a fool for even trying to contribute?”  He replied “Do any of those words sound like mine?  Have I ever mocked you?  Would I scold you for stretching and growing in a gift I gave you?  Does that sound like me?”  Oh, um, well, no, I guess not.

Certainly, I want to grow in this gift.  And sure, stretching hurts a little sometimes.  And yes, there are plenty of other voices out there that are more creative, enlightened, and knowledgeable.  But that is no excuse for me to quit.  So I keep putting this stuff out there and wrestling with the jerk that tells me my viewpoint is not unique, my grammar is not perfect, my words carry no insight and my story is of no value.  And now, some days I don’t even wrestle with him, I just tell him to go away.  I string these letters together and toss them out into the world, catch my breath and laugh right back.

And a little note to all the kind souls who been have so graciously encouraging me~ It means more than I can say that you would take the time to read my words and give me some of your own.  My heart is happier and my spirit brighter for the Love you’ve shown me in big and small ways.  It’s not even just the words you’ve given me, (though no doubt, I do love words the most), it’s the time, the smiles, pats on the back and the glimmers of affirmation I catch in your eyes.  In all kinds of ways, you’ve given me peace, joy and strength and I am ever so grateful.    

Love, love.

April 12, 2011

Not Making it Ok

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I am seriously going to do my best not to spew exclamation points all over this page, but. You Guys!!!!!!  Guess what. Free-er.  Because I just noticed something, I have tototally stopped saying “it’s ok” when I’m talking to people about my story and they look at me with little bits of sadness and sympathy and say “I’m sorry”.  I just noticed last night.  I had this sweet conversation with a new friend, she shared some of her story, I shared some of mine and when she said “I’m sorry” and I just said "thanks" and we moved on.  And it. Was. So. Cool. 

This little (big? neverending?) process I’m in feels so good.  This leaning and trusting feels so good.  This allowing myself some space and grace feels… amazing (!!!!!!!!)

Fancy Nancy told a little story at Pink Impact (!!!!!!) about sitting in her counselors office and telling him it was ok when he cried through stories of her childhood.  And, ha, that is exactly what I did with her, well with lots of people really.  Ask me about my childhood, my marriage, my divorce and I will give you a straight up answer.  I will be honest and real with you about how rough it was.  And then I will try to make it ok.  Well I used to.  But I’m done with that, which kind of feels awesome (!!!!!!!)

I got the privilege of getting to serve at a Freedom training a couple of weeks ago and getting to hear Alan Smith teach.  And then we did a little (big? awesome?) exercise.  And you guys- I cried.  It was super.  I’m terrible at crying.  Really, it’s not my thing.  It’s reeeeally hard for me to do.  But this cry did not swallow me up or crush me.  It was a releasing kind of cry, a feeling hurt and letting it go kind of cry.  And it wasn’t even awful, it was kind of nice actually, helpful for sure. 

Finding grace for me is most probably the hardest thing for me to do.  I am a “get over it and move on” kinda girl.  I am so, so tough on me, but being tough on me is not helpful and the perfectionism that sneaks in when I let it is quite honestly so much more than annoying. 

And so, I am happy with not making things ok, for me or anyone else.  It is not my job to make my past ok.  Phew (!!!!!!!!)  I don’t even know how to explain how much weight has been lifted off (and now I’m crying again). 

Goodness.  I love grace. 

Sinking in an ocean of it,
Love, love,
Amber

March 28, 2011

Raising the Bar

Warning: This post is rant-y and wrought with generalizations. Oh well.  In no way am I professing to have this all figured out. But, I have observed a few things.

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Men, I love you. Really I do. And I hate to throw in a “but”, ahem… but…  Maybe it is just my own misfortune, maybe it’s this Fatherless Generation of ours, I dunno, but I feel so often like a truckload of Peter Pans has been dumped into our society.  It’s not even about the video game obsessions; it’s the general skirting of personal responsibility and feeling that the world owes you something. It totally doesn’t.

And women, I love you too, in an entirely different fashion sure, but love nonetheless. Ladies, can we stop this giant pendulum that keeps swinging from being fully dependent on men to discarding them completely?  Honestly, there is nothing wrong with desiring a man, you were created to actually, desperate is ugly though, and danergous.  And there is nothing wrong with being strong and independent, but there is no need to toss aside femininity and despise any and every male.  

And my gosh, it doesn’t help that we are all entirely oversexed.  Like, it is every-freaking-where.  All the time.  And it’s expected.  All the time.  Ugh. Look, I get it, it’s the bees knees right? Yeah. But it has an ordained context.  It is not a tool of manipulation to get or keep a relationship.  It is not a good way to pass the time on date number three.  Gosh. You know what? Guys, don’t expect it, don’t push it.  And maybe ladies, stop giving it out like it’s a hug.   

I want… ha, I want a lot of things. But mostly I want to call us all to a higher standard.  Can we raise the bar a little please?  Women, can we hope for Something More for ourselves?  Can we expect love and give respect, ask for commitment before we give ourselves physically?  And men, will you set aside your appetite for instant gratification?  Will you allow yourselves to be called to greatness? 

Look, I say all of these things while working on my own issues and with full awareness that nobody is perfect and we are all in process. I say all of these things in love, knowing that there are plenty of men and women out there that these statements do not apply to.  I would like, (love) to be married again someday and honestly, I don’t refuse to compromise, but I do refuse to settle.  Our generation entitled and materialistic though it may be, is also wise, resourceful and strong; and I believe in Us.  And yes, some of you men are certainly a scary combination of overbearing and underachieving.  But some of you are an awesome combo of compassionate and powerful.  Ladies, yes some of us are desperate beyond comprehension and bitter to the core.  But we were made to be full of passion and wonder and grace and strength and tenderness. 

My heart breaks that so many miss the beauty of relationship and what God has for them.  We might have few good examples, there are some though.  The Bible is a pretty good starting point.  Understanding your identity is key, and learning about God’s heart is the best way to do that.  And yes we live in a fallen, broken world, but we make our own choices.  We can choose to spend time with people who are good examples.  We can choose to learn and grow and let Him change us. 

I had dinner with Ron and Nancy a few weeks ago and it was lovely of course.  The cool thing was, they’ve been married for 37 (!!!) years and he did not stop complimenting her the whole night except to listen to how her day went and kiss her a couple of times.  I sat humbled with a goofy smile on my face, happy to hear such kind affirming words poured out in such love.  Finally Nancy said (grinning from ear to ear and eyelashes batting as usual) “Honey, that’s all very nice, thank you, but I don’t think we want to make Amber sick.”  My reply, “No, let him go on, please. He is raising the bar.  Let me believe that there are men out there like him.  And couples that end the day like this.”

I know that it is easy to give in to the temptation to be nothing more than a product of our environment.  But also, I know that there is Greatness in everyone.  No generation, no sex, no one is beyond redemption.  We can overcome the struggles of our past.  We can rise above heartbreak that threatens to crush and fear that threatens to suffocate.  We can raise the bar for ourselves and future generations. I believe we can find and grasp So Much More.  And I hope we will.

Ok, that’s all, (for now).  ::stepping down from today’s soap box::

Love, love.

March 22, 2011

Catchlights

If we have ever discussed photography at all, I have probably mentioned catchlights.  I don’t remember the first time I heard about them, but I know the concept has captivated me ever since.  They are that tiny flash of light you can see in a persons eyes.  They can sometimes make the difference between a good portrait and a great one.  They are reflections of the lightsource, a literal representation of the how we can be both windows and mirrors.  Sometimes a whole scene can be found in that tiny fraction of a photo. 

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When I take photos, headshots especially, I say over and over, “turn towards the light, now a little more.” A well lit face makes a huge difference.  And the easiest way to get a well lit face is a great lightsource.  Because I use natural light, a huge window or an open sky are my best friends.  Cloudy or rainy days usually mean we’re going to be standing inches from the window to get the right light.  And actually, you can tell if the light on a persons face is good by checking the size and position of the catchlights in their eyes.    

I have such an affinity for light.  It distracts me, sometimes enthralls me.  I love how turning a face even the slightest, moving it a fraction of an inch in the right direction can illuminate the eyes.  Unflattering shadows can be eliminated if the right angle is caught.  Sometimes a tilt of the chin is all it takes to fill in all the dark spots.  I could go on for days about all the ways to use it and find it and reflect it.  And I could go on for days about all of the big and little metaphors that photography holds.     

This one is my favorite though.  Look closely at a catchlight and you’ll see both the lightsource and the photographer.  You might be able to make out a bay window or puffy clouds in my photos, if the light is grand and the angle is right, you will be able to see me, sometimes just a silhouette, sometimes more.  Catchlights are pretty much dependent on three things: The size of the lightsource, proximity to it, and how directly the subject is looking into it.  If there is a ton of light and the person is looking directly at me, like in this photo, you will be able to make out details like the color of my shirt and the position of the camera. 

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I’m quite certain I don’t need to play out this entire illustration for you, but I do so love the beauty of it.  So much like my relationship with Him, if I am not “finding the light”, seeking Him, shadows can fall, bad habits or sneaky lies can creep in.  If I am not being intentional about what I take in and getting close to the Light when things get dark, His image will barely be visible at all.  Moving my face towards Him though, changing the angle even a fraction can send Light into all the right places.  And if I am positioning myself correctly, looking right at Him, He will be reflected more clearly.      

 

March 11, 2011

Hearing God

It occurred to me the other day while writing about hearing from God that maybe some of you might not know what I mean, and maybe some of you might want to know what I mean.  And there are tons of resources out there for you, I will link plenty, promise.  But also, I will tell you a little about what I mean when I say I hear from Him. 

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As I’ve said before, it seems to me that I have known Him to be in me, outside of me, caring for me since… forever.  Honestly, I don’t have a great explanation of that except to say that during some rather traumatic instances in my childhood I experienced Peace and Love. 

Someone asked me recently about my first experience of hearing God.  I believe it was when I was about five years old.  My mom, sisters and I lived in a tiny apartment in the projects.  We were po, couldn’t even afford the last half of the word.  I had this beautiful white canopy bed with a pink gingham top though.  I’m not sure where it came from, but I know the mattresses came from beside the dumpster.  Anyway, I remember God speaking to me in that big beautiful bed one night.  He said “I love you” and I said “I know.”  I would like to say that I remember saying I love you too.  I’m fairly certain I did, maybe.   But I digress…

Church and religion were not a huge part of my childhood, Jesus was though.  We attended a few different denominations, mainly Nazarene and Baptist, very sporadically.  Somewhere along the way I picked up the “Jesus Loves me this I know” concept and never let go.  I believed because… because I needed to.  He felt real, was, is to me.  (So much so that when my sisters and I eventually ended up living in West Texas with my aunt and uncle and going to a tiny little Church of Christ, I found myself totally baffled and a little bit heartbroken that the sweet people in church there didn’t believe that He walked and talked with them.  Lucky me, I found a Vineyard Church not long after we moved back.)  Digressing… again…

Hearing God is more like experiencing God for me.  It's more like connecting with His presence than simply hearing Him.  I’ve never heard His audible voice.  He often shows me things, pictures or visions in my head.  He sometimes highlights things around me, or words.  Occasionally He will download a thought, a concept or an idea into my head… It doesn’t always or even usually happen at church.  Sometimes in my car, or in the shower, in bed, while I’m doing dishes and yes, sometimes when I’m praying. 

How do I know it’s Him? That’s kind of what I mean when I say it’s an experience for me.  Generally if He says or shows something, there is a feeling of great peace or maybe excitement.  Sometimes there is unexplained warmth.  Because when He speaks, things happen and atmospheres change. 

When I first started trying to understand hearing God I was told, (by I can’t remember who, maybe Heather? Whoever it was, thank you!) that if I heard something especially wise or encouraging, it was probably ok to go ahead and assume that was God.  He doesn’t say things that aren’t Loving.  I’m not saying He doesn’t say things that are hard, He is always Loving though.  So sometimes I get words, or unexplainably understand concepts, or inexplicably see things.  I feel Him, but also, I know Him because I seek Him.  That’s my best explanation. Check out the links at the bottom for a better one.

Recently someone said “Wow you are really tuned in” when I shared something He said.  Another friend said “So what? Like, you just go around praying all the time?”  It’s not that I’m praying constantly, though maybe I should.  It’s more like an ongoing conversation that we have.  Because that’s what He wants.  Because that’s what I want.  Because I am grateful for all He has done for me.  Because He has saved my life so literally many times.  Because He is gracious and merciful and unfailing.  Because I have experienced the sheer wonder of His great Love through a few awesome encounters, I do my best to follow Him, turn to Him, look for Him and hear Him. 

My best advice for how to do that is to get still, get as quiet as you can and listen.  Doing this is something in the middle of really easy and very hard.  He speaks and He created us with the ability to hear Him.  This world is kind of a mess though, even on good days life gets in the way.  I get that.  My mind is cluttered to say the least.  Usually before I can calm myself and stop running through to-do’s, I have to make a list.  Getting it out on paper helps me focus on Him.  Also, I’ve been known visualize myself in my own mind, pushing away all the clutter and boxes that crowd the space He should be in.  Hey whatever works right?

For way better explanations and much more insight:

Go here: Freedom Classes  and click on Hearing God

Go here: Gateway Sermons browse by sermons and click on Frequency

Read this: Post about Hearing God

Read this: Great article about Tuning In

 

This is the thing, He loves you.  He created you.  He wants to meet with you.  And His words will do So Much More than anyone else’s.  Listen to Him.  And I pray that you will hear Him.  Let Him whisper, let Him illustrate, let Him show you LoveFinding time and space and having the ability to quiet the busyness of our minds can seem impossible. I promise you though- It is so worth it.

 

 

March 6, 2011

This Glimpse

Sometimes when the shutter clicks I know I’ve captured something, a glimpse of something amazing.  Sometimes there is a wonderful exchange that happens. The person in front of the camera decides that they trust the person behind the camera enough to be… open, bold, vulnerable, humble, real… themselves.  And the person behind the camera, (that’s me, I have the best job in the whole entire world!) gets to capture that essence, honor it and show the world how beautiful it is.  If it is a really great exchange though, there is a glimpse of Something More. 

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This magic little exchange has a few key elements.  Trust is one, easy enough to understand I guess, a person needs to be able to trust me if they’re going to be all figuratively naked in front of my lens.  This exchange also takes belief, at the very least a momentary awareness of the wonder that is the inherently universal and innately unique beauty inside.  And this exchange, if it is a really great one, involves not just my spirit seeing somebody else’s- if we allow space, it involves the One who created the moment. 

Recently I had the privilege of photographing four amazing women.  They all came with their own stories of redemption, ready and willing to sit right in front of my lens and be themselves.  And we all intentionally made room for Him to shine during the session.  It was spectacular.  The whole shoot was full of honesty and creativity.  Each of them bared part of themselves, shared pieces of their hearts.  And boy did He show up.

And fine I will go ahead and say it, one of these women was especially, well, uniquely I’ll say, inspiring.   She is a New Friend.  I don’t know her super well but I know that she is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and a really great hugger- an extraordinary women as far as I can tell.  Also she is an extremely gifted storyteller.  The best thing about her though- she knows who she is and Who’s she is. 

I don’t know her entire journey to Freedom.  But I know that the smile on her face is that of a woman who knows her Father is the King.  And the light in her eyes is that of a woman who believes she is Loved beyond measure.  Momentary or not, in this hundredth of a second, she was exquisitely, supremely herself and openly, humbly His all at the same time.   And as the shutter was clicking my heart saw it, knew what Freedom looked like.  To call it inspiring would be an understatement. 

Coincidence maybe that this also happens to be the woman who taught the first Freedom class I ever attended.  She told me (and a whole room full of people actually) the story that began to help me Think Differently.  My journey to Freedom got fast-tracked that night with the Tale of the Acrobat.  I thought initially that this photo was maybe just special to me because of that coincidence.  I think maybe there is Something More to it though.

Sure, this magic exchange has happened plenty of times before and after I even knew what Freedom Ministry was.  And sure, I’ve photographed people who’ve known what their True Identity was.  There was something about this glimpse though… Her Freedom and Beauty is emerging more and more, no doubt.  And as they say, "Free people free people". And I guess my definition of Freedom has changed.  So this exchange was a clearer picture of Freedom than what I’ve seen before. 

Most of the time if I really get somebody, really capture their essence, it is a child.  I have few photos of adult’s boldly staring into my lens and baring bits of their soul.  And even fewer photos of people with glimmers of Freedom shining in their eyes.  They say that the photographer can be seen in every photo every photo they take.  Maybe the special thing about this photo is that there are three storytellers in it.  There is me doing my best to tell a story with my camera.  There is my New Friend telling some of her Freedom storyAnd there is God telling His very big Freedom story. 

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I wish I had a few perfect words to wrap around why this capture is so extraordinary.  Instead I have lots of imperfect ones, and a heart that desires even more than it did before to be Free-er.    

 

 

 

 

February 28, 2011

My Little Edison

You have probably heard me say that Griffen is my quirkiest child.  This is true, he is about as different as different can be.  Griff is his own little man, always has been.  His brain works overtime, and from the outside his thoughts seem quite random.  To call him an independent thinker is an understatement.  He is something like hyper, just busy I guess, and smart as whip but unconventional as heck.  His cleverness often comes across as arrogance and his internal processing makes him seem aloof. 

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When he started Kindergarten his teacher had him tested for both ADHD and dyslexia.  He’s a brilliant kid though, so he passed both tests with flying colors.  Honestly it left us all a little unsure about what to do with his inventive but off track mind, enormous appetite for information and constantly moving body.   

Some God help and a little research helped me discover that Griff has something called Edison Trait.  What does that mean exactly, well- “They are spirited individuals who live life with passion and determination, firing out an endless stream of questions and often recklessly pursuing their own desires (like Edison, who wanted to see how fire worked and accidentally burned his father’s barn to the ground). They are conundrums, children with a profile that is both intriguing and maddening.  These children are appealing, daring and entertaining. Yet they are frustrating, demanding and difficult to raise.  Their temperament and intellectual style will shake the stamina of the most devoted and patient parent. “Forget mom doing anything except challenging this child.  These kids are physically and mentally hyper; they can’t shut off their minds.” 

Indeed.

My heart soared and sank all at once.  The first thing I thought was “Awesome, I get to raise a little Edison!” the second thing was, “Great, he’s not going to grow out of all this off track, out of the ordinary stuff.”  That was five years ago.  And he certainly has not grown out of it.  He has sort of grown into it.  I’ve implemented some of the boundaries, behavioral and dietary suggestions recommended for Edison Trait kiddos, and that has certainly helped. 

But the thing that has helped the most has been to really embrace what a unique kid he is.  He is fully entertaining and extremely bright.  And as he is maturing, our conversations are more and more enlightening.  He’s a vocal kid, in touch with his emotions and his vocabulary is endless.  His invention notebooks take over an entire bookshelf.  This year he was fortunate enough to get an amazing teacher.  I’m forever getting notes that say “I so enjoy Griffen!” and “What an awesome kid!”  It’s been sweet for sure to see him blossom and develop as he’s been not only accepted but affirmed by the people around him.    

So often in the past my fear has been that he would get lost in all the Go Go Going! Of his mind.  It can be a challenge for him to relate well to others because he is so internally busy.  My heart has ached for him as he's had to work through some tough issues.  God has really helped me put it all in perspective though.  I've struggled with wanting to help him steward his gifts, trying to explain the importance of listening and being respectful, and making sure he doesn’t feel all wrong or inadequate. There is honestly a careful balance for me between being enthralled with his brilliance and wit, and getting absolutely frustrated at his lack of focus and attention. 

This handing my worries and fears about my kids over to God has been somewhat revolutionary with Griffen especially.  It’s freed me up to see him for him.  I can understand his uncommon strengths and weaknesses, and lay aside my frustrations to help him with his.  And he in turn has become more secure and easier to connect with.  We laugh together often, mostly at his jokes.  Where there was sometimes tenseness in me and insecurity in him about his quirks, there is now a confidence. 

He is exactly the kid God created him to be.  And to further confirm that, here are his notes from church last week:

"Hear and obey faith is the foundation God wants us to believe him. Faith is believing no matter what. God wants us to immerse our faith in him. the book of Salma's has over 100 Iwills in it. Note to self have great battles and victory. God delivers everyone. Believe in god t'ill the end. assignment: read John. I can prophesie"

I don't even know how to explain how melted my heart was when I read that.  And then last night we had this conversation:

Me: You're a smart kid, you know that Griff?
Griff: Yes, actually I'm one of those people that is aware of their intelligence.
Me: Well you do you know why you are so intelligent?
Griff: Because I'm good at transferring information into knowledge.
Me: Okay.  And how do you think you're able to do that?
Griff: Basic logic and quick wit. 
Me: Okay. And where do you think you got those?
Griff: Are you trying to get me to say that you're smarter than me?
Me: **Sigh** No. I'm trying to get you to acknowledge that God gave you your intelligence.
Griff: Well of course He did. He gave me everything. He made me. He made everything.

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I love, love, love that I get to be his mom.  I love that he came to me just last week, put his arm around me and said “I’m glad I get to be your son.”  I love that imperfect as we both are, we are exactly who God created us to be and becoming more so all the time. 

 

 

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