June 20, 2016

brittany and marshaun's graduation pictures

I had the pleasure of shooting my best friend and her boyfriend a few days before graduation! It was so much fun and really expanded my desire to further get into photography. Here are a few of my favorites!!









June 20, 2016

discontentment


So my very best friend just graduated and it’s been a very hard process accepting that we won’t be together all the time. Most of the time, she’s the only one there. She’s my person and vice versa. So, it’s been a lot. Beyond that, she’s in a really good place and I am struggling to piece my life back together after a horrific 2 years. So I looked up stories in the Bible and came across the story of Leah and Rachel. I wanted to share a few things I realized. 

backstory: 
Leah and Rachel are sisters. Jacob goes to marry Rachel, the younger of the two sisters and the more beautiful. Their father tells Jacob he can have Rachel in exchange for 7 years of hard labor. So after 7 years of hard labor their wedding night occurs and Jacob is ready to lie with Rachel but their dad tricks Jacob and places Leah in the room instead. In the morning Jacob realizes he has been tricked and is pissed (rightfully so). Once he calms down, he asks what can he do to get Rachel as his wife, and their dad says for 7 more years of hard labor he can have Rachel. So Jacob willingly works another 7 years to have Rachel as his wife. Rachel, however was barren while Leah had many children. Both wanting to earn affection and acceptance. They both went to desperate methods to earn acceptance and love. 
things I learned (from the perspective of Leah):
Leah just wanted to be loved. Although she was bearing multiple children, she could not earn Jacob’s attention. Each time she had a child, she thought that God was honoring her request to be loved by her husband, but it didn’t matter to Jacob. He loved Rachel. It wasn’t until Leah gave God praise for her children and did not seek Jacob’s validation, did she find peace and was released from the pain of her rejection. From this, I learned that you cannot continue to do the same thing and expect new results. You also cannot look to others from what only God can give. Only God can redeem and validate. 

things I learned (from the perspective of Rachel): 
Rachel was so jealous of Leah because of her ability to have children, but had she gotten out her own way, she would see that Leah was hurting just as much as she was. Just as Rachel was seeking to be validated as a woman through having children, Leah was seeking to be validated as a woman by being loved by Jacob. Another thing is that Rachel continually tried to take matters into her own hands and force God’s timing. She tried to have her maid lie with Jacob in replace of her. This brought forth children, but Rachel still was not satisfied. Then, she tried to get mandrakes from Leah’s son. Mandrakes were known to have the ability to seduce someone and encourage fertility. This is witchcraft. Each of Rachel’s attempts to force God’s will failed her miserably and just further expanded or bitterness and discontent with her situation. 
Fast forward. Rachel has a son. She names him Joseph, which means “may he add.” From the get, as soon as Rachel gets what she wants. She doesn’t thank God. She doesn’t take in the moment. She asks for more. She is so focused on competing with Leah that she turns her blessing into a curse. I say this because the second son Rachel has, she dies in childbirth right after she names him. She names him Ben-oni which means “son of my sorrow”. I believe in this moment Rachel realized that even in getting what she want, she wasn’t satisfied and would never be and now it was time for her to die. Gratefully, Jacob changed the son’s name to Benjamin “son of my right hand”.

moral of the story: 
Everyone’s in their own fight. Discontentment is a dangerous path that will lead you to your destruction. Rachel asked for her death because she was too consumed by her need to outdo Leah (which would never happen). Forcing God’s timing only leads to greater distress. Nothing good ever comes out of trying to force the hand of God. When you’re so focused on what you don’t have you can never see what’s in front of you and miss out on everything. Misery is a choice. 

June 19, 2016

resting at rock bottom.

life sucks. It's a fact. It's harder to some more than others, however each of us faces overwhelming difficulty at one point or another. So what do you do when you're at the lowest of lows? How do you push on to see another day when literally making it through to the next hour seems to be a miracle in itself? For me, I've felt my life has been harder than others. This may be true in some sense, but at the end of the day it is a divisive lie intended to further isolate me in my pain. See that's one hell of a trick of the enemy. It's not enough to see us suffer, so he aims to break us down and then separate us from any interaction of hope and light. By doing this, he further succeeds in his life's dream to destroy us. Crazy, right? I believe when we can acknowledge the battle, the pain automatically loses some of its sting. So back to my original question: what do you do when you're at rock bottom?

There is no how-to on how to manage pain, nor is there 1-2-3 guide. But I do believe there are ways to fight off the attacks of the enemy to destroy us. I also believe that this is 100% a war of our thoughts. I saw this tweet and find it to be so true. It says, "The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind." - Real Talk Kim

The best thing I have found to do in my lowest of moments is to silence myself and check out...just for a little while. Whether that mean taking a bubble bath with candles, plugging in my headphones, or even just taking long deep breaths, do something to challenge your current state of chaos and distress. Another thing I have begun to do is to acknowledge my feelings and to honor them before giving them up to the Father. I am learning the power in acknowledging my feelings. It is a lie to believe that you are better off, denying or downplaying your feelings. This opens up an opportunity for those feelings to not only muster, but to expand and accumulate due to lack of recognition. So in acknowledging my feelings, I'm taking away the power for feelings to have the power over me. I'm regaining control. From there, in giving them to the Father - I'm stating my grounds. I am fighting the best way I know how. I am acknowledging my lack of ability to do this on my own, while also showcasing my ultimate, undefeated, unconquerable strength (Jesus). There's no fancy words or delicate prayers I pray. Besides, in the moment who has time to be looking cute when you're in pain and trying to fight it off? I literally will be like, "Ok God. This is what I'm feeling. This is why I'm feeling it. I'm giving (insert feeling) to You. Please help me to understand how to deal with these feelings and how to move forward. Amen."

The moment you make the decision to be intentional in your pain, even when it seems to be too much, you are stating your claim and showing the enemy that you are here to fight. And whether you realize it or not, you are being strengthened and equipped to fight off every bit of what's coming at you.

These verses have meant a lot to me and remind me that being at rock bottom isn't always the worst thing that's happening to me. Usually, it is an opportunity for the Lord to show up and showcase his mighty strength in the midst of all circumstances.



Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled? I will put my hope in God and once again, I will praise him, my savior and my God. - Psalm 43:5

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:5

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." ...For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10



be encouraged! keep fighting.