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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Move Me ~

Psalm 18:6   In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. NLT

I have a confession.  Sometimes, I have doubted the whole God thing.  You know...a virgin..a birth in a man died to forever save us from our sins.  It is such a simple concept that it can be hard to believe.  Do I believe because it was how I was raised or do I believe because I believe?  Well, let me tell you about 2016.  There were some rough patches, but my goodness, there were some miracles, too!!

In June, I was rocking my grandson; a rare occasion since he is seven.  He wanted me to tell him a bedtime story.  I remembered the stories I had told my children when they were little.  I told him a tale of Cody Cowboy, a little boy who lives on a ranch and has a pony named Baloney.  He loved it.  He said, “You should write a book, Mimi.”  So I did.  (Faith of a child)
It’s sold over 600 copies and there are 4 more to come in the series. God used me to help little children want to read.  Through those books, a whole new door has opened, allowing me to speak to children and encourage them to follow their dreams.  That’s all God right there.

In August, my sister’s husband felt bad on vacation.  They came home and he went to the doctor.  He was diagnosed with leukemia on August 26th and given maybe 10 days to live.  We began to pray for him.  If ever I needed to believe in God, it was then.  Toby’s journey has been nothing short of a series of miracles.  More than once, he has been “critical”.  I would reach out to my network of praying friends, and we would pray for Toby.  His fever would rage and storm.   As soon as we began to lift him up, God would calm the storms.  Through this journey, I thought that God was doing a great work in Toby, building his testimony.  Ha…..God was working on faith.  He was also working on one of those friends, who had pretty much stopped trying to pray.  Not only did God move Toby’s mountain, He moved a mountain for my friend’s husband.
He is there.  HE is real.

A few weeks ago, a young mother of two small children was “actively dying” from a rare form of kidney cancer.   Our community cried out to God and pleaded for a miracle for her. Last week, she and her husband enjoyed a beach retreat AND got news that her kidneys were functioning again.  James 5:15 (prayers prayed in faith)

I spent a season asking God to fill my heart up with Him.  Yesterday, I had a conversation with my best friend.  She said, “Well, for your heart to be full of Him, you have to empty your heart of YOU.”  Goodness.  Wow.  (I love my friends).  Maybe I have been in my way the whole time.

God, thank You for restoring so much faith in my heart in 2016. Thank You for putting so many Godly women in my path who have shown me such strong and unwavering faith!  Thank You for teaching me to “cry out to You” in both praise and in time of need. Thank YOU for moving this earthly me out of the way so a heavenly YOU could move in.

Friday, December 23, 2016

I Wasn't Alone ~

Psalm 139:16  You saw me before I was born.   Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.  NLT

I have fought with all I have against this blog post, and yet it keeps coming up.  I know I’m supposed to tell you this story, and yet, even now, it is so tender, so raw, so heartbreaking, that I don’t want to share it.  But, as a friend told me today, if God says do it, you better, “‘cause you don’t want to get swallowed up by some fish and puked up 3 days later for not listening”.  (I love my friends.  See Jonah 1:17)

This may be long, so be patient.

When I was going through my divorce, someone gave me an orphan lamb.  Gosh, I loved that little lamb.  We named her Laura.  We loved her and bottle fed her and nurtured her.  She was so joyful.  I got her about 3 weeks before the Christmas season.  If you have been with me, you know that we had a terrible, vicious divorce and custody battle. I hated being alone. This little lamb helped me through the lonely weekends when my children would go to their dad’s

About 3 days before Christmas, Laura the lamb stopped eating.  I took her to the vet and was told, “sick sheep seldom survive”.  We took her home and loved her as best as we could.  I remember feeling so heartbroken and helpless as I watched this little animal grow weaker and weaker.  On Christmas Eve, I just knew the end was coming.  I remember that it was raining when my soon-to-be ex picked up our children to go to his house. I’m sure some bitter words were exchanged, as there always were.
Let me just insert right here….don’t do this to your children.  Ever.  If you hate their daddy, that’s YOUR problem.  If you love your child, then love them enough to NEVER let them know you hate their daddy.  Divorce is already so ugly and confusing for a child.  Don’t hurt them any more than they already are hurting.  Let them be little.

I remember watching my children leave my home, excited to be with their dad, but not wanting me to know because it would hurt me. I remember feeling so lost and helpless.  I remember sitting in the grass, in the rain, holding that lamb as she died.  I remember crying out to God.  I remember thinking that my heart would never heal.  I was alone. I was afraid.  And I had lost something else that I loved.  I don’t think I have ever experienced a lower point in my life.  Even now, it hurts so much to remember.

Hey God, I’m not sure why I need to tell this story.  I’m sure that You do, though.  This is the first year that I have remembered this story and realized that where I was then is not where I am now.  I made it.  I am not alone.  I am not afraid. I was not lost.  So many mommies are going to face that first Christmas alone this year. I’m pretty sure that none of them will be standing in the rain, holding a dying lamb, but I am sure that there will be many who feel that they are, themselves, dying inside.  I pray that as their child drives away, that you will give them an extra helping of grace.  And for the ones who feel that they are so heartbroken and alone, I pray that they will feel Your love and know that You already have their future written in Your book.  Help them to know that this heartbreaking time in their lives will pass, that one day, they, too will look back and realize that You already knew that they would be ok.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Be Kind ~

Proverbs 11:17  Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.  NIV

My neighbor and I have the best relationship. We can see each other often or rarely, but our friendship stays solid.  I can go sit on her sofa and cry or fuss or cuss, or laugh and be silly, and she still loves me ...or tolerates me.  She is kind.

Last night,  we were chatting about my photography business. I made some photos for a very prominent family in our community. They asked me not to watermark the pictures because they are associated with other photographers in their line of work.  At first I thought, “seriously?”.  But, then, after talking through it with my friend, getting a little snarky and judgmental, I had a conviction myself. What would it hurt to protect another person’s feelings?  I got paid.  I made beautiful pictures.  Sure, I’d love to tell the world that I made those images because, wouldn’t you know it?  They were some of the prettiest I’ve made in a long time!

I think we, as women, are very territorial like that. Whether we are hairdressers, in sales, design, wedding planners, teachers, or whatever, we don’t like to ever hear that someone else provided a service to “our people”.  It hurts our feelings and attacks us right in the insecurities.  But, since they were not my regular clients, didn’t I just do the same thing?  

Hey God, guess who.  Just me again thanking you for another life lesson learned a hard way.  Thank you for putting a new family in my life who showed me the value of protecting feelings of others.  I have come a long way in this attitude makeover You decided that I needed, and I’m finding out that I’m nowhere near the end.  Thank You for showing me how important it is to be kind.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Create In Me ~

Psalm 51:10  “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”

I’m not good with the Christmas season.  I’m “one of those” people who would just rather skip the whole month.  Now, I love the story of Jesus being born, the “real” Christmas.  I just am not all about the rest.  Let me tell you why.  I love my family.  I love my grandchildren.  But, we usually sit at home alone on Christmas Day because my kids have so many places to be over the holidays.  It has turned into a stress-filled marathon for them.  And, I refuse to fall into the “buy the best gift” debt trap for my grandchildren.  You can’t buy love.  You just can’t.  

So many people have let this commercialized mess get out of hand.  What has happened to us?  How many of you moms are so darn stressed out because you can’t find the one thing your child really wants this year so they can have something they really don’t even want because it’s what their friends are getting?  How many of you mom’s who are my age want what no amount of money in the world could buy…..time with your family…?

God, I’m struggling today.  It’s time to put up a tree and decorate the house.  It’s time for me to put aside my sadness and focus on the treasures You have given me.  Time is time.  It’s been a good lesson for me.  I want my children to spend time with me.  You want Your children to spend time with You.  Create in me, God.  Create in me the joy of remembering the birth of Your Son, the true meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'm So Jealous Of You ~

Exodus 20:17  You are not to covet your neighbor's house. You are not to covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. ESV

I had lunch with my sister Sunday.  My sister has everything.  She is just a couple of years older than me and retired.  Her husband is also retired.  Their house is paid for.  Their vehicles are paid for.  In my eyes, she has everything. Sometimes I am so jealous of her.  During lunch, I’m sitting there thinking….”I’ll never have what she has.”  Then she said these words….”I’m so jealous of everything you have.”  Wait, what?

This led to a beautiful conversation of where we are in our personal lives.  
It’s so easy to see the beauty in someone else’s lives, but what about their personal struggles?  Do we spend enough time to really seeing a person as they truly are?  And more than that, how much time do we spend focusing on what’s wrong in our lives instead of what if good and pure and blessed?

God, thank You for yet another life lesson.  I’ll admit that I was a little put out with my sister when she didn’t let me complain and whine about my struggles.  It was a pretty good bump on the head.  I also thank You for letting me spend time with her; to be there for her; to listen to her heartaches in this season of her life.  Sometimes we think we could have so much more if we could just trade places with someone else.  But if we did, then not only would we get their blessings, we would inherit their brokenness.  Don’t covet.  Got it.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Calm Down~

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. CEB

What happens to women to make them think that they have to take on everything?  My goodness.  I find myself so shot out that I end up resenting what I thought I’d love.  Then I use up all my allotted cuss words.  Then I find myself frustrated at my husband for sitting there in the recliner with his feet put up.  Doesn’t he SEE how overloaded I am?

Thanksgiving.  You know, the holiday set aside for giving thanks and junk.  I sure had to have a little “Come to Jesus” meeting with myself.  I ordered my food from a restaurant, I spent the day with my family, and I let the rest go.  You know what?  Nobody died.  Nothing fell apart.  The world didn’t end.  And I sure am more thankful for the time spent with my family.

Dear God, thank You for giving me a good lesson these past few days.  I still want everything my way RIGHT NOW, but I am learning that nobody will explode, not even me, if things happen at a slower pace.  Perspective and patience is a good lesson to learn.  I just need to calm down and remember that whatever I need to do, needs to be done from my heart with love, not with resentment and frustration.  Same amount of work, just worlds of difference in the end results.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Rules and Stuff ~

Deuteronomy 11:19  You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  ESV

Being a parent is such a gift.  Let me tell you, there were times that I failed miserably.  There were times when I should have beat the brakes off of my kids, but because we were divorced, I let them slide because I wanted them to “love me more than they loved their dad”., fail, fail.  

In my “other” job, I have to deal with children.  I have come to fully appreciate children who have parents who give guidance to their children.  I love little people who have been raised to have manners and respect.  I realize that I'm about to give an opinion, but here goes. I'm just not all about this new age parenting style.  Children need boundaries. Children need parents to teach them, not parents who are letting them run buck wild, screaming and spitting, and never having rules because “it stifles their creativity”. Yeah, I was told that recently by a parent of a 4 year old who spit on me. 

Jesus, forgive me for being judgmental today. Your word says a lot about raising children. Maybe I should buy a bunch of Bible and highlighters…. I am so thankful my kids lived through my season of raising them. I think I need to go pray for our next generation and myself for more grace. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wanting and Getting ~

1 Timothy 4:16  Pay close attention to your life and your teaching. Persevere in these things, because if you do so, you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.  ISV

Things are changing rapidly in my life.  I feel so out of balance.  Some ot the changes, I have asked for while some, I definitely have not.  I have found myself “in a mood”, resentful and bitchy.  Why doesn’t anybody see where I am and help me pick up the slack?  LORD, don’t you hear me?
Why?  Because I am an enabler.  There….I said it.  I’d rather get up and do the laundry, the dishes, sweep the floor, go to a session, drive home near midnight, edit all morning and do it over the next day….and get madder by the second until I just am ready to slap the sin out of those around me.

The same goes with my work life.  You know, I want to change some things.  I want better for us.  I want to manage our finances better.  But “wants” and “gets” are two different things.  The awakening I have had is that I am also enabling MY frustrations.  Making a change in my life is necessary, and no matter how much I bitch or how much I pray, I am the only one who can begin the process.  

God, I haven’t been setting the best example lately.  I’m so frustrated that I have myself so wrapped around the axle of life.  Time to get untangled.  Thank You for this verse today.  It was exactly what I needed to read to show me that, through You, I have the power to settle down, make goals, and make life better.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trust in Him Also ~

Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

A couple of nights ago, I spent about 2 hours texting back and forth with a precious friend.  Her heart is breaking because she is struggling with a season of infertility.  I tried to text all of the right words:  God’s timing.  Don’t try so hard.  Honey, you can’t control everything (she is a very organized, detail oriented planning/control freak). Don’t make this a job.  Everything will happen when it’s supposed to.  You have so much; a new job, a beautiful child, a husband who loves you…. As I was trying to encourage her, I also made sure to be very sympathetic to her heartbreak.

It’s very hard for me to understand why people who don’t even want a child can have one every year, while others spend year after year longing for a baby.  I also have a hard time understanding why there are so many neglected and abused children who are in such sad homes, hungry and unloved, when there are loving homes just waiting to be filled. Our system for adoption is so broken, but that is a topic for another day.

As I was searching for verses to fit this blog post, I was overwhelmed with the ones that say, “ask, believe, and you get it”.  Hmmmm...There goes that doubt again.  God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way that we think that He should.  That’s when faith comes in.  That’s when we have to surrender our “wants” to His “will”, I guess.

God, I know we are never to question You.  You have a plan and a purpose.  You have wisdom beyond our comprehension.  Today, I pray that you will comfort the hearts of so many families who are struggling with the reality of infertility.  Give them comfort.  Give them peace.  Give them hope.  Give them faith to trust You in their struggle and heartbreak, so that Your will is done in their lives.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Oh ~

Psalm 107:13  “LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.” NIV

It’s Monday morning after a heck of a weekend.  I’m thinking, as I’m sending out replies to emails, phone calls, etc. and getting quite pissy at the number of people who want “deals” or “free” from me.  They don’t even know my name until I offer a bargain, then all of a sudden….messages from everybody.

And then it happened.  I was so convicted.  Like “convicted to tears” convicted.  How many times have I blown through life, happy as a lark, forgetting to praise God for all of the goodness that I have all the things He has done for me, all of my blessings?  But let something go terribly wrong, and all of a sudden, I’m sending message after message to Him.  All of a sudden, I need Him.  

God, I am so sorry that I take You for granted.  It seems that I’m acting pretty human again.   You carry me, even when I don’t remember You.  You give me strength.  You protect me in all of my travel.  You give me rest.  Thank You for that moment of conviction.  Everything I receive from You is a “deal” or is “free”.  Thank You for letting me be a work in progress, yet again.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

All He Wants Me To Be ~

Philippians 3:12  I don’t mean to say I am perfect.  I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be.

For a few days, when I lay down at night to read my Bible, I keep coming back to this verse.  Just one more lesson in “God’s timing”.

I got my boat overloaded these last few days.  I’ve shorted out, had a fit, worked too hard, got a headache from that, dealt with some humdingers of people, cussed a little, and kept everything else going at the same time.  Yesterday, I was editing pictures, trying to book a wedding with one person, writing a contract for another person, ordering canvases, and cooking dinner all at once.  But I wasn’t doing any of these tasks perfectly.

I can do all of that at once  because that’s how I thrive.  We are all designed in a unique way.  We all have gifts and goals.  God has a plan and a purpose for us.  All week, I needed to be reminded that, while I can multi task, I’m far from being all that God wants me to be.  Sometimes He needs me to “be still”.  I suck at “being still”, but I am learning.

God, You keep teaching me new lessons every day.  Tonight, I surrendered to Your word.  I will keep working towards that day when I can be all that You designed me to be.  Thanks for the head bump.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Refocused ~

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. NIV

This week, my family and I took a little vacation.  All week, I’ve been praying for guidance on what to write about in my next blog post. Lately, I’ve let life get in the way of my devotions, my time with God, my writings.  I sit down to research, to read, to have quiet time, and I’d be totally distracted by something.  Tonight, I walked on the beach, waiting for the moon to come out, and spent some time with God.  

I watched the waves come in and go out.  I watched the sand shift, the shells wash ashore.  I watched the little crabs skitter here and there.  I watched the sun set and the moon rise.  Then it hit me.  Everywhere we look, every moment of everyday, things are changing.  Nothing ever stays still.  Our lives, like the ocean, are constantly shifting and changing.  Our children grow up.  Our marriages change from young love to contented love.  Our parents really begin to show their age.  Our world becomes out of balance.  Everything changes, except God.

God, today as I was walking down this magnificent beach watching a beautiful full moon rise, I was so aware of how consistent You are.  You never leave us, even when we leave You with our ever-changing, fast-paced, distracted lives.  You will always be there when we settle ourselves and refocus on You.  You are the same today as You will be tomorrow.  You never change.  For that, I am so grateful.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Letting Go of Hate ~

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ISV

Divorce.  Exes.  Wife-in-laws.  Bitterness.  Anger. Hurt.  Hate.  Revenge. Insecurity.  Abandonment.  The list goes on and on and on.  The problem with these feelings is that there comes a time when, well, it’s just time to let go of the brokenness and move forward.  The sad part is, letting go is so one of the hardest things you will ever do.

I talked with a friend this week.  We talked about how hard it is to go through a divorce.  If the actual decision to go your separate ways isn’t hard enough, by the time you get through the actual divorce process, the level of animosity (that’s a nicer word than “hate”) is so elevated that you don’t feel you will ever recover.  It is a brutal time in a woman’s life.  We lose all sense of balance, especially if we are suddenly raising children alone.  It’s been almost 20 years since I went through this, and let me tell you, that was the hardest time of my life.  I’d give anything to go back to that time and do things differently.  I was so full of rage and hate and revenge (and doubt and insecurity and self-worth) that I became a bitter bitch.  All I wanted was for him to suffer like I had.

I carried this with me for years.  I never missed a chance to let people know what I thought of him.  I sure did waste a lot of my life being bitter.  There is no telling how much damage and hurt I caused to my children and grandchildren by speaking hateful words about their father and grandfather.   What changed?  What happened to make me let go?  I saw him with our grandchildren.  They adore him.  He’s a good Papa.  If I am hating him, then I am not loving them like I should.  Also, I am so much happier in my life now.  I wouldn’t be “here” if I had stayed “there”.

God, it sure was a good feeling when I decided to put down that burden of hate.  I’m sorry that I carried it so long.  You tell us to give all of that to You.  I guess I’m a slow learner.  I hope that You use this blog today.  I know that there are women who are carrying around such heavy loads, waiting for their revenge.  Help them to see that it’s time to “put it down”.  Let them see that where they are is so much better than where they could have been.  Thank You for your grace and forgiveness.  Help us to remember to follow Your example, even when we don’t think we are ready to let it go. It is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Power of Suggestion ~

2 Timothy 1:7  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  NIV

Someone made a statement to me recently that I have no business writing a Christian blog.  I cannot even tell you how much that one statement wrecked me.  It made me doubt myself, my faith, my self-worth.  Am I writing this blog for me or if is it truly God’s will for me right now?

I’m telling you, the ‘power of suggestion’ is powerful.  I’ve made excuses, hem-hawed, been “too tired” to read my Bible when I laid down to sleep, and have slowly got out of the habits that I enjoyed.  In return, I have been miserable.  I have been out of balance.  I know I’m not in God’s will, but I let a few words, said in anger, have power over me.  In other words, Satan found exactly where I am weak and attacked me there.

God, I am filled with self-doubt and mind-blocks lately.  I don’t have ideas about posts.  I know why, though.  I’m depending on me, instead of You and Your word to fill my heart.  Thank You for letting my conscious bother me so much that I turned to You for guidance.  I know that a simple blog post from me is not going to change the world, but it will change me.  Hopefully, the change in me will reach someone who needs You.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Just A Stepson ~

1 Timothy 5:8. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. ESV

You guys know I work as a photographer.  Recently, I had a job that truly was more than I could stand and I ended up probably voicing more of my opinion than was necessary.  But, know. 

Picture a mom and dad, an adorable little 2 year old, and a very quiet young boy who was 12. The little one was definitely the “star”.  As we began the session, the mom said to me, “I just want the three of us in most of the family photos.  He's just my stepson,” pointing to the 12 year old.  This old heart broke.  Then it ran hot. Then I showed my butt some. I think I was madder at the dad who let this happen more than anything.  I told her as nicely as I could that I have “bonus” children of my own and I would not exclude a child and be the one who makes them feel less than welcome in your new family. 

God, I'm not supposed to be rude to customers, I know, but I was. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be a mom to stepchildren. I know there were times I failed them miserably. Thank You for giving me the feeling that those two are MY children, although someone else gave birth to them, because they are part of my husband.  Sorry I showed out. Maybe it will help that dad show up for his son in the future.  Forgive me for “judging”.  I didn't cuss….does that count?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Not by Myself ~

Philippians 4:13  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  NIV

My life would be so much more peaceful if I would remember this verse.  I’m all good with praising God when things are going great in my life.  When things start to spiral, I tend to forget where my strength comes from.  

In a perfect, self-satisfying world, I could control everything.  Everybody would be nice and do things my way.  Nobody would give me problems.  My kids would behave.  My husband would clean up after himself.  My work clients would be all sunshine and roses.  But you know what?  Life is not perfect.  I have the wrong goal of being “self-satisfied”.  I know that in my heart, I’m supposed to give everything to God, especially in the times I struggle.  

God, I have no problem giving You all of the glory when things are good.  I fail miserably when I need You.  I try to take over and fix all of my problems without seeking Your guidance or submitting myself to You.  I’m still learning.  Things fall apart when I try to “do all things” by myself.  Help me remember where my strength really comes from.  Thank You for your grace.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I'm Just Kidding ~

James 3:5  So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze.  NIV
There is an old saying that there is just a little bit of truth in every sentence that is spoken; especially the ones that end in, “I’m just kidding”.  

I wish I had a nickel for every time I had my feelings hurt by someone speaking “I'm just kidding” words to or about me. I'd be living on a remote island with 24 hour a day maid service.

I wish I had a nickel for every time I had hurt someone by speaking “I'm just kidding” or sarcastic words to or about them. I'd buy the island.

Relationships are hard enough. How easy it is to fall into a pattern of snarking at each other. It starts off as a comment, followed by “I'm just kidding” when really you aren't. Feelings are hurt, then you want to defend yourself. Then anger flares. Before you know it, a full blown argument has begun.  The thing is, words destroy your self-confidence, your motivation, your hopes and dreams if you listen them.

God, today I ask You to help those who have fallen into the “snarky” trap in their relationship.  Give them strength to be bold and break the cycle.  Cover them with your grace.  And for me, please help me to remember this post and apply it in my life.  Teach me to talk about problems in an appropriate manner before they get to the “I’m just kidding” stage.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

University of ...Jesus ~

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes:  NIV

I had a photo session with a family yesterday.  I wore my favorite UGA t-shirt.  I LOVE my Bulldogs.  There was quite a bit of smack talk going on between me and my clients.  Being from Florida, they were, let’s just say, not University of Georgia fans.

On my drive home, I had a thought.  I wonder what the world would be like if we, as fans of Jesus Christ, stood our ground and talked all that talk for Him as we do for our favorite football team.  What would Saturday’s look like on social media?  There are some passionate football fans.  What if those same people were as passionate in their speaking up for Christ?

God, help us to be bold for You.  Help me to never be ashamed to speak up for You.  Give us passion for You.  You’re a lot more important than some college football team.  Go team Jesus!!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Just As I Am ~

James 4:7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. NIV

To say my life has been out of balance for the last two weeks would be a huge understatement.  Huge.  While most of the attention I have gotten has been positive, Satan has been busy attacking me at my weakest point.  Satan knows that for every 1000 “attagirl’s” I hear, all it takes is one “you’re not worthy” to destroy my confidence that I am doing God’s will.

The Bible tells us in Psalms 139:14 that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  In Romans 5:8, the Bible says that even though we are sinners, Christ died for us.  In Romans 3:23….all have sinned.  I could go on and on, but you get my drift.  Am I worthy to write a Christian blog?  Absolutely not.  Nobody is perfect and sinless and whole.  Here’s the deal.  What if the only people who could serve God were the ones who never sinned?  

God, today, I thank You that You have convicted me of my shortcomings, yet You love me anyway.  I thank You for strong, Godly friends in my life who don’t mind telling me to …… “Stop….Just get yourself back in balance. Shut up and listen.”  I know that nothing I do on this earth is worthy of Your grace or Your mercy, but I sure do thank You for both.  Help me to hear Your voice, not the voices of those who Satan is using to speak negativity into my soul.  I am worthy, because I am Yours, just as I am.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Treading Water ~

Proverbs 14:23  All hard work brings profit but mere talk leads only to being poor.  

This past weekend, I did a Sprint Triathlon in Callaway Gardens.  I was pretty excited to be going.  Halfway through the swim, I got kind of frustrated because, as I was getting kicked and passed and pushed by the other grannies in my wave, I had a strong, clear thought.  I was getting passed and left behind because I had not put in the work to be the first one out of the water.  I “wanted” to be successful, but that’s all.  I “wanted”.  I did not take the time to prepare myself to make it happen.  I still finished the race and had a great time with friends, but it taught me a great life lesson.

She who finishes last….still finishes.  I know that.  But is that what I want for my life?  To just “finish”?  I don’t.  I want to be everything that God designed me to be.  During that swim across the lake with 50 other women my age, a seed was planted in my thoughts.  I can have so many desires in my heart to be better, to do better, to give more, to have more, or whatever.  I can pray and pray and ask God for these things.  I can live my life disappointed that things aren’t happening for me.  I can wait for others to do it for me.  OR, I can do my part to make things happen.  Once God gives us an idea, I think He expects us to do our part and make it happen.  

God, sometimes You have to get my attention in the oddest places;  like in the middle of a lake during a 400 meter swim.  I know that You have a plan and a purpose for every one of our lives, but we can’t just sit here and hope things happen for us.  Thank You for reminding me that I need to do my part.  Swim or drown.  Works for me.  I better get to swimming.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Remembering My Role ~

2 Corinthians 10:13  We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.  NIV

This has been one of the most overwhelming weeks of my life.  I got so consumed by what was going on with my social media page, that I really lost my balance.  I have had to work to remember that NOTHING I have, will have, have done, or will do comes from me.  Everything is a gift from God.  

For the past few months, I’ve been praying for a change of direction in my life.  I have been pretty frustrated with what I thought were unanswered prayers.  Stuck….just stuck.  Bored, burned out, and stuck.  So, God said, “Let me show you something.”

Within 24 hours, a photo that I made in my little home studio gave me recognition all over the world.  Every major network has shown the story.  Pretty cool, huh?  Yes and no.  I haven’t even been able to go pee without my phone ringing 16 times.  I found myself checking my Facebook page every few minutes.  I was consumed with worry and distracted from life.  And then there were the assholes.  I learned that there are some really, really hateful people who think it is their duty to say something nasty about everything.  I did a lot of “ban user” clicks this week.  

Today, I invited the Mom of the “viral baby” into my home for another photo session.  I needed to “give”.  I needed to “create”.  I needed to “be still and listen”.  I needed to find my balance.  We sat, we talked, we loved on Baby Aubrey.  I listened, I felt, I gave.  I found my balance.

God, thank You for teaching me a very valuable lesson this week.  I am so thankful that You used me to give Kathryn and Aubrey such a personal and now world-known image.  But thank you even more for showing me that I’m content being Kim Anderson Stone from Jakin, Georgia.  I am a giver, because You use me best in that role.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Picture for Her Mommy ~

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  NIV

I work as a photographer.  Yesterday, I did a newborn session for my neighbor’s brand new granddaughter.  I do these often, but this time, I really needed to pray before the session.  The grandmother had booked the session for her daughter, explaining that the baby’s dad had been tragically murdered by someone he thought was a friend.  The sweet mom is an emotional wreck.  She wanted to use Dad’s motorcycle gear; something he loved.  I wanted to do my best, so I asked for God’s help.

I made this image.  It is good, but it’s not perfect.  I shared it on social media with the Mom’s permission and … went viral.  6.5 MILLION people saw this.  20 THOUSAND people shared it.  130 THOUSAND people LIKED it.  All day long, I was, for lack of a better word, confused and overwhelmed.  What was going on?  It’s sweet, but I’ve sure done better photos.

Then the Mom sent me this:
And I will screenshot the page in a few weeks and I'll print it off for her to show her the WORLD prayed and wept for her and mommy and daddy. That God moved the WORLD for us. That daddy made an impact even after he was gone and that would be his dream. Every prayer from another is one less weight for me to carry.... It's one more piece of peace I have and one less tear I shed.”   Now, I knew why so many people shared it.

God, today, you used me in a mighty way.  You touched so many people with something that came from my camera.  I prayed for a powerful image to give to this Mother and Daughter.  Well done, God…..well done.1.png

Friday, June 10, 2016

Choices ~

Proverbs 22:3  A prudent person forsees danger and takes precautions,  The simpleton goes blindly and suffers the consequences.  NLT

I turned 57 on Wednesday.  I don’t like birthdays at all.  That’s 3 years from 60…  dang… My sweet husband said all of the right words, talking about “the alternative” and being kind. He spent the day making my birthday wonderful.  But still, I have been a little all in my emotions this week.

Where I am in my life is a direct result of the decisions I have made.  I’m an impulsive person.  It has taken me all of my life to learn to pray first, THINK about my decision, and wait.  I hate to wait.  I want what I want when I want it and how I want it.  I want everybody else to want what I want, too.  Slowly, I am learning that if I have the slightest little feeling of doubt in my heart about something, then the answer should be “no”.   If I had done this or that differently, my life would have taking a different path and I would be at a different destination today.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have a good life.  I just know that if I’d made better decisions, I’d have a much better life.  I know that everyone has regrets, we can’t change the past, and all of the other cliches’ we use.  Heard them, said them.

So now what?

God, today, I ask You to work on my stubborness to be obedient to You.  I cannot change my impulsive decisions of my past, but I can listen to You for my future.   Where I will be tomorrow, next week, even next year will be a result of the decision I make today.  What I want for me depends on what I choose for me.  Help me to choose wisely.  Help me to seek Your guidance for what You have in store for me. Thank You for your grace as I work to find balance in my life.

Monday, June 6, 2016

For Better or for Worse ~

Hosea 2:19  I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.  NLT

When my mom was 17 years old, she worked at a photo studio in Thomasville, Georgia.  My dad, fresh out of the Marines, took a roll of film in to be developed.  My mom said she almost wore the image off of the print looking at his face.  They were married 6 weeks later.  On June 24th, that will be 60 years ago.  

Their marriage has not always been easy.  They have had their share of better and worse, sickness and health, richer and for poorer.  The main thing they have had is their love for each other and their love for God.  

Yesterday, my mom invited me up to make some pictures of them.  She put on her original wedding gown, he wore his best suit.  They held hands and toddled out to the Confederate Jasmine arch in their yard and posed.  My heart was so overwhelmed with emotion.  Daddy will be 86 in October.  Mama would spank me if I shared her age, so…  Two sparrows in a hurricane...frail and wobbly, but still flying.

God, today I thank You that You chose these people to be my parents.  All of my life, I’ve had the unconditional love and stability of Godly parents.  They’ve weathered the storms of life and continue to love You.  Thank You for leading my parents to stay together all of these years.  Marriage is hard, God.  Thank You for blessing my parents with a ‘forever’ kind of marriage.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Insecurities ~

Philippians 4:7  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.

Insecurities.  We all have them…...don’t we?  When you meet me, your first impression may be that I am this loud, outgoing, self-confident person who walks into a room and immediately takes the stage.  There are very few people that I cannot talk to.  There are very few fires that I cannot put out quickly.  I put on a great show.  But, that’s just it.  It’s all a show.

Over the past 15 years, I have learned to be very adaptable in social situations.  As wedding photographers, we work with a different set of clients every weekend.  Emotions run very high at events.  I have to have this “take charge” attitude or the “crazy” would get out of control.  But you know, one sentence from someone can make me spend the rest of the evening doubting myself, especially if my husband says something to me.  (remember the power of words post?)   If I don’t really watch myself, I will pay more attention to my insecurities than my job, and it will show in my work.

What are your insecurities?  Where do you lack faith in yourself?  Do you ever struggle with this pretend front that you show to people, while inside you doubt yourself?  Mine would be believing what others say to or about me.

God, help us to  know that insecurities are not from You.  Satan plants these negative thoughts in our heads to make us doubt ourselves.  Help us to remember that You made us who we are.  Give our hearts and minds peace when our insecurities threaten us.   Help us to remember that if we are good enough for You, then we are  “good enough”.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Waiting to React ~

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

I read a Meme this week that said, “Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice.”

That is so true.  Where I am in life is a direct result of choices I’ve made in the past.  I actually keep a list of, “Stupid things I’ve done and what I’ve learned from it”.  Sometimes, I remember the lessons.  Sometimes, I react with pure emotion.  Never, ever a good idea.

How we react to day to day situations play a huge part on the outcome.  One of the most difficult lessons for me to remember is to not react/try to fix/respond immediately, but to wait until my emotions “have some sense”.  Pray, wait, listen, trust in the Lord that when the time is right, He will give me the answer.  

God, a lot of women, including me, struggle with waiting on You in our day to day lives.  Friendship’s end, husband’s say something, kids are brats and so on.  Give us the strength to turn to You for guidance when we don’t understand how to “fix” these problems.  I know that getting my feelings hurt and reacting either in anger or defensively is not how You’d want me to react.  Help me work on the trust thing.  Teach me to have grace in this season of my life.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Staying in "Like"~

2 Timothy 4:17  “But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength…..”  NIV

Sometimes, my husband just gets on my damn nerves.  You guys will just have to excuse that statement.  It’s one of those “I cuss a little” days.  I won’t go into detail, I’ll just say, “Bless his heart.”  If you’re Southern, you’ll understand.

Being in love is easy.  Being in “like”, however, is not.  There are days when I just do not like the man I love.  I would bet all of my best marbles that he feels the same way about me at times.  (Probably more than I’d like to admit).  You know those days when you have to practice all of your Bible verses about kindness, forgiveness, tolerance, and the whole 13th Chapter of 1st Corinthians.  I have to sing a verse or two of “Jesus Hold My Hand”, too.

God, please help me to remember that my husband is precious in Your eyes.  You love him just like he is.  Today, I’ve struggled to like this man I love.  Help me to see him as You see him.  Give me a grateful heart that I have a good husband.  Thank you for standing with me and giving me strength as I work to get my attitude right.  And thank You for forgiving me for cussing...again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Grandchildren ~

Proverbs 17:6  Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the pride of children is their parents. ISV

Grandchildren...I wish I’d had them first.  Between the two of us, we have 8 perfect little angels, ranging from 16 years old to 9 months old.  I love them all so much.  

I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like to, but when I do, I’m just amazed at how smart, funny, well-behaved, and … well, ‘perfect’ they are.
I am so much more tolerant with my grandchildren than I was with my children.  My son tells me all the time to make them mind, or “Mama, you’d have beat our butts if we did that.”  I do make them mind, just not much.  The rule at Mimi’s house is “no tattling unless there is blood”.  

God, thank you for my many blessings; all 8 of them.  Thank you for my children, too.  You gave me such wonderful children, but you absolutely showed out on my grandchildren.   They are truly the crown of this season in my life.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ungrateful ~

1 Timothy 6:8  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. NIV

I have so much, and yet I find myself being discontent.  I want to travel.  I want my blog to be successful.  I want to be out of debt.  I want, I want, I want consumes me…..until I realize what I have.  

I travel every weekend.  It’s to work, but I travel.  My blog IS successful in a small way.  God gives me words to use.  I’m working, so I’m able to pay down that debt.  I have a home, a good husband, and a healthy family.  I HAVE.

God, forgive me today for getting stuck in “want”.  I’m so ungrateful at times.  Grant me grace to make it through this season.  Every day, we have so many blessings.  Teach me to be content with what I have, because I have all that I need in You.