Monday, April 30, 2012

When You Just Need ONE Thing....

"Oh, Lord, please don't let me bleed again this month..."

My heart held up this plaintive cry heard only in the recesses of my soul.

After four years of no birth control, some doctor's visits, possible prognoses, and A LOT of waiting in between, this monthly emotional cycle is no stranger to me.

But somehow, this month the pang and squeeze of my heart feels a little deeper, a little tighter than it has in a long while, and I find myself consciously remembering to take deep breaths lest the sorrow overtake me.

Four years of waiting to be pregnant, three years of unknown chronic illness, 2 years ago since I almost lost my parents in the Haitian earthquake, a year and a half since we stepped down after 10 years of full time ministry, 6 months since we decided to pursue foster care, 5 months after we put in an offer on a house....and in every circumstance...silence, SLAMMED closed doors, windows sealed shut, and when I look at the ugly realities, I can truly often wonder, "Where is God?"

To read the rest of my post 
AND to hear about a new phase 
that is opening up for us 
where I DESPERATELY need your prayers, 

Must Love God

Friday, April 27, 2012

Five Minute Friday {And Then Some} :: Community

"You painted the WHOLE house in a week!"

That's the response I usually get when I tell or show people the progress that we have made around the house.

"No...we didn't paint the WHOLE house," I say, but then I start rooms maybe. We didn't start off planning to do so many but it just seemed right because the colors did not feel like "home" and I did not know when I would have this uncluttered house again.

The response it often amazement at how much work was accomplished in just one week, and my response is always the same, "It took a village."

Fred with his basically professional painting skills, teaching me how to paint well as he moved his brush across my walls.

His wife and daughter coming in here and there to help us clean along the way.

Alison, fully pregnant, sitting on the laminate floors painting my bedroom trim as her 16 month old played happily around the room as we worked.

My parents flying across the Caribbean Sea, sacrificing their time and energies to help build a fence, paint more rooms, move furniture, iron clothes.

And I still I remember.

Aunt Bonnie showing up the day we got our key with balloons and flowers to just celebrate with us.

Uncle Ranny using his dry walling skills to patch and restore in his beautifully perfectionistic way.

Cousins arrived to paint my new walk-in closet, giving up hours of their afternoon, just because, and I cannot help but think of them every time.

Mom Mom and Aunt Bonnie bringing meals, wiping counters, washing dishes, feeding the army so busy hands would not have to stop or be distracted.

Sis painting all week and then shopping with me to find the loveliest bathroom decor to suit our taste and space.

Her man, giving of his skills to finalize and complete household projects and decor.

David and his girls coming for an evening and helping to paint.

Watching those 6 and 13 year old hands paint my walls, and something feels so right about it to my former children/youth pastor heart, that their love and efforts are poured into my office, where new dreams will be made and realized. And their dad, taking the time to smooth out their mistakes, and the process is seamless.

Greg bringing his landscaping tools and working with my love to freshen our new yard, and then traveling back and forth and back again to load the contents of our life onto his trailer to bring them to this abode that we now call home.

And as the week goes on, I feel overwhelmed, humbled, delighted, and amazed at the gifts given to me by these precious souls, who give expecting nothing in return, but simply as an act of love, rejoicing with us, together, in how God has placed a promise in our hands.

And if I am honest....I have been a bit discouraged and disillusioned with community over the past two years, withdrawing into my own hurt and pain for some reasons valid and for some protective, scared of letting go, reaching out, giving in to that vunerable place again.

And still they came...loving, giving, rejoicing, hoping, praying, believing, laughing, serving...

In the brokenness of my soul, I am finding community again.
Little by little.
Day by day.
Promise to promise.

As the veil opens to show me a glimpse of what is really there,
I see I have never truly EVER been alone.
Never been far apart from those who hold my heart to Jesus so often.
And I feel humbled with the revelation,
Moved by the raw humanity.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Five Minute Friday {And Then Some}: Together

Some seasons are lonely, hard, filled with anxiety and pain.
Sometimes people do not know how to be there for you.
Sometimes it is because you just do not let them in.
A lot of times.

We have been in flux, a holding pattern for a few years now.
Infertility. Chronic Pain. Changing countries, jobs, careers, life direction.
Waiting for the Lord to reveal the whys and hows of this next season.

And even waiting to buy a house.
Searching for a year.
Finally making the best choice {in our price range}
Putting in an offer
And then
more waiting
and waiting
and waiting.

One month
Two months
Three, then four
And sometimes you wonder will it EVER, EVER, EVER change
This waiting.
This holding.

Five months and finally, key in hand, we walk through our front door.

And suddenly, friends flock to help, parents fly across the water, people give up their evenings to paint and to clean and to make meals to help us transition this house into our home.

You see, I realize now, they have been waiting too.
Sorrowing in the shadows.
Wishing they could move the hands of time for us
And make our dreams come true.

And knowing that words often hurt more help in the rawest of places, they silently waited supporting...
And now, as we hold one promise in our hands, we find many arms gathering around us
rejoicing FOR us
Loving ON us
Seeing WITH us.
Finding the courage to know that God is not slack concerning His promises.

That together, in the shadows or in arms, we stand stronger.

We have been busy all week preparing to move
{this weekend}
into our new home!

More words and pictures to come next week as we settle in.
I CAN'T WAIT to share it with you lovelies!
Thank you for all of your faithful prayers
and beautiful words of support and encouragement.
You SO Rock!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Project 365:: Week 15

I am truly enjoying this photographic journey. I am challenged to try to gain more skills and knowledge, and I hope to take some classes soon. In spite of all the free online insight, I am much more of a hands-on girl in my learning experiences. But I hope you are enjoying the art that I am creating along this pilgrimage, and I am enjoying sharing my daily life here with you!

Join me this week for house chaos & triumph, spring delights, and time in chill town....

Day 99 :: Last day of recovery from the yucky flu.
Morris was a very constant companion.

Day 100 :: The beauty of spring at sunset

Day 101 :: Arno and I on a little sunset "constitutional"

Day 102 :: Continuing to pack in faith...just two more days til closing
{crossing our fingers}

Day 103 :: I love the shadow and light here in this
view from my window

Day 104 :: We finally signed for our house, 5 months after the initial offer.
Our agent Sarah showed us dozens of houses
for a year before that so I think she might have been just
as excited as we are! Oh, happy day!

Day 105 :: Tired from all the anticipation of the week
as well as a night of cleaning

I'm on a journey to chronicle my life with a picture a day for a year. I hope to discover the world around me in my day-to-day life in a uniquely different way as well as learn more about my DSLR to better capture those precious moments. Linking up with my friend Paige and others who are taking this challenge too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Goodbye

I can hear the Muppets singing...

"Saying goodbye
Why is it sad?
Makes us remember the good times we had
Much more to say
Foolish to try
It's time for saying goodbye..."

And I get a little pang in my heart.
Dozens of goodbye visions
flash across my memory
and wave of nostalgia overtakes me.

I have been known to say, "I always have to say goodbye to someone I love. Never do they all get to be in the same place." I think that is why my wedding day was so special. All my favorite people, or at least a representation of all of the lives I have lived, gathering in the same place.

That's what having your cake and eating it too looks like to me.

I have lamented having to live a life where I learned to say goodbye before I even took my first step. It's hard. It breaks your insides. You wonder if you will make it until tomorrow.

And yet, somehow, you realize that you are a little richer, a little wiser, a little more appreciative, thankful, gracious because God gave you so many people to love and be loved by.

And maybe the value in that is worth the price
of all those goodbyes.

In case you have never seen it
OR if you would like a trip down memory lane,
here is the clip from Muppets Take Manhattan
that was playing in my head as I started this Five Minute Friday.
{Subscribers, click here to view video}

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When God Changes Your Story

I get hung up a lot in what I used to do, what I used to represent, how I used to live, where I used to be heading, and in general, the person that I used to be. I must often be reminded of the fact that we live in seasons of life, sometimes in the shadows even.

I found this picture on Pinterest with these directions attached in the note:

1) Paint the canvas all crazy like
2) Use painter's tape to create a herringbone pattern with some missing
3) Paint over the canvas in white
4) Remove tape and voila!

For a non-crafty girl like me, this seems doable, and actually, kinda beautiful. The color and the white contrasted together in this herringbone pattern produce eye-pleasing results.

And somehow this reminds me of my life....

God painted beautiful colors.

A great childhood with amazing parents. A dreamer's heart to do the impossible. A sound mind to achieve no matter what. A strong body to work hard towards every dream. A relentless will to always see a way when others saw brick walls. A solid education to open doors both home and abroad.

A dancer. A missionary. A singer. A friend. A reader. A fighter. A lover-of-the-Truth.

The colors of my world bled rich and true and vast and deep, sketching insight and exquisiteness onto my soul.

But as is so often true, we never understand or truly appreciate rare and raw wonder until it is tainted or changed.

So, as the Master Artist began layering slabs of adhesive onto my canvas, seemingly marring the arresting artwork He had created, I lamented the loss of all that "I was." Being the ever-blind and often-ungrateful clay, I raged and tugged against His touches. Yet He persisted still, with a vision in mind that I could not yet see.

Until...finally, at the moment when I could take no more of these repulsive intrusions, He ceased. And I breathed a sigh of relief.

He's done.
He's really done.

And then....

Oh please, Master.
It cannot be.
No more...please do not take everything from me.

I look up, and I see His eyes. The eyes that with gracious intensity, burn through me like fire, patient still even through my flailings.

Unhurriedly now, yet with purposeful intent, the strokes of His brush proceed to wipe away every sign of the loveliness and charm He had provoked from the canvas after years of work, leaving behind a white empty space, void of character and desirability.

And in that space, I render myself useless, unworthy, unloveable, unwanted.

But not to the Master, it seems.
For when I open my eyes, glazed with tears from the loss of my yesterday's glory, I see His gaze still steady and strong searing my soul, my pride, my claim on myself with His unrelenting grace.

Slowly, and yes, even painfully, He begins the process of stripping off the layers He has strategically placed there to uncover a loveliness that would not have been possible without the artistic ravaging.

A beauty I am still uncovering.
A grace I continue to discover.

Daily I am learning still to yield to this journey, to lay myself at the altar of His purpose, knowing that He loves me more than His own life. He proved it after all. Nonetheless, I am so often stubborn, filled with pride, longing to prove myself to Him, to the world.

And still, He stares deeply into the wells of my humanity, causing me to gasp at the weakness there and still more, to sit in awe of the regard He continues to pour over me.

My friend Cara said it like this....

"When you were knit together inside your mother, God made a pronouncement upon you. He made you something. He did not pronounce you an alcoholic or a liar or a screw-up. He did not pronounce you a cheerleader or a missionary or a pastor's wife or a mother. He knew those things might be part of your story, but He made you with a depth that goes beyond your doings and your labels."
{read the rest here}

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In The Shadows

I have a fascination with shadow and light.

I try to capture the essence of what each moment means to me,
the beauty that I see there.

Sometimes I get it right, and other times, the picture cannot hold a candle to the reality of the now that I feel.

I have spent a few years living life amongst the shadows.

At first the shadow was small, apparent, yet not overpowering, but the longer it lingered, it seemed to loom larger until another shadow appeared, making the first seem insignificant. These two shadows vyed for the light, each taking more, in a battle to win the duel. And still yet another appeared, and then another, threatening to choke every shard of light from my life.

The war waged on, and I fought and fought to stand in the light, to hold my ground, to hang on so that I could fight again tomorrow.

And then one day, it was too much, and in spite of the warrior heart beating loud and true in my soul, I retreated into the corner of the shadows, sobbing and gasping for reprieve from these insurmountable foes.

The shadows are a scary place. Lonely, abandoned, heartbreaking....most people do not enter into your shadows with you. Sometimes they just cannot and other times like a scared, trapped, little animal we hiss and scratch at them until they just simply go away.

For me, shadow or light, it did not seem to matter, I still felt alone -- alone in my fight or alone in my misery.

And now, the shadows are still there, looming around me. Every day is a fight, sometimes hour by hour, just to push my face into the light and to SEE His goodness, to glimpse His grace.

And then there are days when I just fall down with exhaustion and anger. "Why does living in peace and joy and grace seem to be so daggone hard?"

So I pull into the shadows, for just a little while, but I have learned, am still learning....

The light calls to you, even while you are in the darkest of shadows.

The Scripture says it this way....

Deep calls unto deep...
Psalm 42:7

As a young girl, my artistic soul was always moved by these words, but only now through a bit of heartache and pain, do I truly understand the psalmist's heartcry to the Father. My whole being resonates with these words because I know that the deep is the one in a dark place crying out to the deepest part of the Father's heart.

Like mine does.
In the shadows.

I do not know what shadow is overpowering your life today. Maybe you are feeling the loss of something once held or never known. Maybe you feel you have never experienced your life truly in the light of day. May I encourage you to find your hope in Him? Not because it is a cliche or because it is easy. Not because I have it all figured out or know all the answers, but because the light is calling out to you. If you really listen, you will even hear it calling you BY NAME. I promise.

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!
Psalm 42:5-6

Read the entire Psalm here.
I promise the encouragement and REAL understanding
from the psalmist there will blow you away!

And just one more thing....please know ::
You are not alone.
Wherever you find yourself.
In the fight or in the shadows.
I would love to hear your heart on this in the comments or in an email {lindseyfoj (at) gmail (dot) com}.

Linking up with Imperfect Prose on Thursdays with Emily at
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