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Category Archives: faithfulness

An Invitation to Sit With the King

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One year ago today, I boarded a plane to Kenya, Africa.

I always dreamed of serving in Africa. I always knew I’d go someday. But I never, ever dreamed it would be so soon. You see, it wasn’t my choosing as to when, how, where, or with whom I’d travel to Africa. One random weekday in early June, I looked at a poster on our pastor’s office wall and casually shared that I always dreamed of serving in Africa. He promptly invited me to join a 10-day mission trip to Kenya that was scheduled for November.

I wasn’t planning on going to Africa. Okay, let me clarify a bit, pastor. I wasn’t planning on going RIGHT NOW. I wasn’t expecting you to ask me. Give me a couple years, okay? Give me some space and time to think on this, yes? Give me a few years for my kids to get older. Give me a moment to make every detail right. Let me get the timing just perfect for my husband, my friends, my family and pretty much everyone around me. Then, and only then, I’ll most definitely say yes to your invitation. Can’t we all just agree that five or six months is not nearly enough time to prepare for a life-changing trip to Africa?

Needless to say, I spent nearly three months thinking and overthinking that trip, and finally said yes less than three months before our group was scheduled to depart.

Given my reluctancy to accept God’s invitation to go and serve in Africa, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I found myself on the outside, watching a group of orphaned and abandoned children worship in the most authentic and abandoned way I’d witnessed in 39 years of life on earth.

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I was there. Fully present. Fully immersed in their worship.

But I was sitting on the outside.

Watching.

Admiring.

Wishing I could be one of them.

Wishing I could live and linger in a place of wild, worshipful abandon for the rest of my life.

Yes, this was without a doubt, a glimpse of heaven on earth.

But I was sitting on the outside.

CLICK HERE and join me at www.kriscamealy.com FOR THE REST OF THE STORY… 

Who is Your First Responder?

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I’ve always admired my parents’ relationship with their friends, Don and Cyndy. They’re the kind of friends who will drive you to the airport at 3:30 in the morning, bring a sloppy joe meal when you just got home from the hospital, and touch base when everyone else seems to have forgotten. Last night, I was reminded yet again, that Don and Cyndy are my parents’ first responders.

“The person who arrives first at the scene of an accident or other emergency situation, for example a police officer or firefighter.” – Macmillan Dictionary definition of FIRST RESPONDER

As you may or may not know, my dad had a lung transplant three months ago. Since my dad just finished pulmonary rehab and it’s been three months since the transplant, my parents thought there was a good chance they’d be able to move back home this weekend or early next week. Unfortunately, this week, my dad’s lung function tests went down, and they found multiple antibodies in his blood that aren’t supposed to be there. He had a bronchoscopy yesterday morning, which is a procedure where they go in and collect fluid and tissue from inside the lung to examine, more closely, the health of the lung. The doctors told my dad that he would need to be admitted to the hospital after the bronchoscopy in order to do a “plasma exchange” to treat the antibodies they discovered this week. They didn’t disclose or promise a timeframe for the hospitalization. We thought it could be a couple hours, an overnight stay, or perhaps worst case, a couple days. But yesterday afternoon when my dad got admitted to the hospital, the doctor came in to let my parents know that he would need to stay for a minimum of 10 days and that they would be treating him for rejection through a “very difficult” pharmaceutical and plasma exchange treatment. If the 10-day treatment works and the results of the bronchoscopy are good, my dad will be able to go home after that. If the 10-day treatment does NOT work and the results of the bronchoscopy are NOT good, then my dad will need to go through ANOTHER 10-day plasma exchange treatment. This was disheartening and completely unexpected news, especially since my dad has been feeling well.

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Last night, I stayed up late to get as much work done as possible before my dad begins treatment today. I worked on laundry and photo editing for my photography business. I also spent time writing a Caring Bridge post to update friends and family with my parents’ unfortunate news.

Around 10:00 p.m., I received a text from my mom’s best friend, Cyndy. Brief, but heartfelt, Cyndy wanted to let me know that she and Don are planning to visit my parents at the hospital around 4:00 p.m. today after she gets off work. She was bummed that they had to go through more when they’ve already gone through so much. Two sentences. That’s it. Simple. Thoughtful. Out-of-her way kindness. Who does that? A first responder. Don and Cyndy are my parents’ first responders.

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In the past 12 years, I’ve been through a lot of unusually traumatic and stressful situations with my sister’s battle with addiction, mental illness, and two pregnancies as a single mom; my husband’s eye cancer; my dad’s lung transplant. I’ve had more than ample time and experience to recognize and think about the need for us to have first responders in life.

Who is your first responder? 

Who’s the first to send a text, email or Facebook message when you’re in need? Who will bring you a meal when everything’s going to pot? Who will offer you child care or a ride when you can’t drive yourself? Who will ask “How are you doing today?” and really mean it? Who will sense that you need encouragement when everyone else waits for you to say you need it? Who’s the first to forgive you when you haven’t updated them in longer than you should because you’re SO stressed and preoccupied? Who will show up to the hospital, the special event in your honor? Who’s the person who sends you gas gift cards when you’ve traveled back and forth to the clinic three hundred times? Who’s the person who actually cares what’s happening in your life? Who’s the person who consistently cares about what’s going on in your life? Who’s the person who responds in your time of greatest need?

That’s your first responder.

Today I’m asking us to think about one very important question.

Who is your first responder?

Perhaps you know the answer without thinking at all. Perhaps you need to do a little more thinking.

Who is your first responder?

Who’s there for you at the drop of a hat? Who’s there for you in the worst case scenario? Who shows up on your behalf?

I do believe there’s always someone. Perhaps it’s your spouse. Perhaps it’s a family member or someone from your church. Perhaps it’s an old friend, a new friend or a neighbor. I don’t know who it is for you, but there’s always someone who shows up in an emergency. Thank God.

But perhaps this question begs for some soul searching, or at least some stand up and noticing. What kind of relationships are we fostering with others to the extent that we actually SHOW UP for one another in times of great need? This is a question worth pondering. I promise you it’s a question worth pondering TODAY, whether you’re in need or not.

Who is your first responder?

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How to Survive and Thrive Through the Adolescent Years of Marriage

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Last summer, just 10 days from our 17th wedding anniversary, we had our biggest fight ever. It started at Dairy Queen of all places, and continued in our driveway. Yes, that epic confrontation ended with the words nobody dreams they’ll utter when they’re standing pure and perfect on their wedding day.

“After all this time, I don’t think you really know who I am.”

I uttered those words to my husband on June 17, 2015.

My spirit was crushed.

You see, after 20 years together and 17 years of marriage, I thought my husband knew me. I thought he knew ALL of me. But big conversation and big questions revealed that I was wrong.

The only person who knows ALL of me is God, my creator, my maker, the one who formed me in my mother’s womb.

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The fact that my husband didn’t know a part of my heart that had been buried deep and wide since childhood was NOT his fault. I didn’t neglect to reveal every nook and cranny of my inner life before our wedding day. The truth is, I didn’t even begin to piece those parts of myself together until 13 years into marriage.

How can we be fully known when we don’t even fully know ourselves?

Sometimes we don’t know who we’re becoming until we’ve become.

We’re humans. Our deepest longing is to be known, loved, understood and accepted for who we are. But here’s the brutal truth. As much as we long, as much as we desire, as much as we try so hard to know, love, understand and accept others for who they are, it’s impossible to fully know any one person, even when they’re our spouse.

With all my heart, I wanted my husband to know that part of me.

With all my heart, I wanted my husband to understand that part of me.

I wanted him to embrace it as beautiful, lovely and blameless.

I was asking the world of him.

Can’t you just understand me?

Can’t you see what I see?

Can’t you feel what I’ve felt all these years?

Can’t you dig into my heart, live in my shoes, be me for a few moments so you see who I am, so you know every fabric of my human being?

What torture.

To ask ANY human being to know us FULLY is FOLLY, pure and utter foolishness.

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“I don’t think you really know who I am.”

In that moment, life was simultaneously crystal clear and as clear as mud.

My husband didn’t know or understand a part of my heart, a part of who I am, a part of who I’ve been becoming these 40 years. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t his problem. It wasn’t his duty to bow down before me and say, “Yes, okay honey. Whatever you say, think, or do is a-okay, honey.” I didn’t want blind submission. I wasn’t looking for the world’s artificial answer to an always-happy marriage.

I was looking for a heart-to-heart connection. If my husband didn’t know or understand that part of me, I wanted him to talk it through with me anyway, trust me anyway, believe in me anyway, love me anyway, liberate me anyway, live it out with me anyway. Because that’s what marriage does.

Don’t worry. Don’t freak out. Don’t stay up all night wondering if our marriage is on the rocks. One year and 10 days have passed since that particular point of contention. We worked through it, and our marriage is still alive and kicking. Yesterday, we held hands for a few minutes at our son’s baseball tournament. Today, we’re celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary.

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There was a bigger lesson to be learned from that epic confrontation on June 17, 2015. A lesson that has potential to transform marriages. A lesson that invites husbands and wives to to honor each other as individuals AND celebrates their partnership as a couple. A lesson I’m still learning and working hard to implement every day. A lesson that helps couples not only survive, but thrive through the adolescent years of marriage.

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

TRUE. It’s impossible to fully know any one person, even when they’re our spouse. TRUE. God is the only one who fully knows us. TRUE. As human beings, we’re changing and growing every day. TRUE. God doesn’t expect you to know everything about your spouse. TRUE. God invites you to “love your neighbor as yourself.” TRUE. Love is not self-seeking…the hardest of all.

I’m not an expert theologian. I’m not a marriage counselor. And I’m not a professional philosopher. But piecing together all of the above, I would like to propose that if our goal is to honor and keep our wedding vows, we must do our part to know and understand the ins and outs of our spouse to the best of our ability. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

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So let’s take a look at how this plays out in real life. As you will see, I’m suggesting that these are not just daily disagreements, but opportunities to know and understand your spouse better, opportunities to fine-tune your response so it not only honors your marriage, but honors the individual perspectives of husband and wife.

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should we let our 13-year-old who has braces get away with brushing his teeth once a day, or can we please force him to brush 2-3 times a day?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should we eat lunch before we do errands or after we do errands?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should the bench go to the right of the door, or to the left of the door in our garage?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Does he know what I do during the day, how stressful it is to balance motherhood with my personal and professional aspirations?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Does she know what I do during the day, what my job entails, how stressful it really is at work?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should we watch late-night fireworks at Magic Kingdom, or should we take advantage of fewer people in the park and go on rides instead?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should we use scotch tape or masking tape to hang two posters inside our daughter’s closet doors?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should Angela Lansbury have sung “Tale as Old as Time” in that epic Beauty and the Beast scene, or should they have broken into a much grander, NON-Angela Lansbury version for added drama?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

How should we indicate budgeted vs. actuals spent on the paper and pencil budget we created for our 2015 tax return?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should we lie down on the bed or sit up while we’re watching a movie in our bedroom?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Come over here so we can take a selfie quick!

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

I hate selfies. They’re awkward and make me feel totally uncomfortable.

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Should we plant the new Ninebark shrub one foot this way or one foot that way? We always have these disagreements on where plants should be placed. It’s like a high school debate. Who’s going to win? Who’s going to lose? Who’s the judge anyway? Does this really matter anyway?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

Do you see how this works? Do you see how this plays out? As any married couple knows, stupid, piddly, daily disagreements like this happen all the time. Whether our discussions are small or big, important or not important at all, it MATTERS HOW we work through life as a married couple, it MATTERS HOW we work through disagreements as a married couple. How well we work to know and understand each others’ perspectives is crucial.

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For more than two years, I dreamed of going to Haiti with my husband for my 40th birthday. I wanted us to experience a mission trip together for the first time in our married life. I wanted him to see me in my happy place. I wanted him to KNOW that part of me. But truth is, as much as I desperately wanted that dream to come true, I finally realized I was forcing it. I KNEW my husband, and I KNEW he wasn’t really interested in going to Haiti. Yes, I really wanted him to SEE and KNOW that part of me, but ultimately, it wasn’t worth it.

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Nearly three months ago, we found out that my dad had been approved for a lung transplant and were told he would soon be placed on the national lung transplant registry. My husband suggested we try to fit in a quick vacation before my dad went on the list and while the kids were still in school. I thought it was an improbable reality, but said yes anyway. We booked the vacation, arranged child care with my generous and thoughtful in-laws, and exactly THREE WEEKS LATER, we were on the plane headed for a 4-night Disney cruise to the Bahamas.

I’ll share more of the story in my 40th birthday post later this week, but in short, we tried and tried to find all kinds of last-minute vacations. After lots of looking and needing to make this decision fast and now, I finally decided that I wanted this vacation to be for my husband. HE was the one who suggested it. HE was the one who had the idea to fit something in before my dad went on the list. HE was the one who had specific destinations and vacations in mind. HE was the one who had been stressed at work and needed a simple, sunny, relaxing vacation. Why was I trying to force ANY of myself onto this vacation when I was NEVER planning it in the first place? Why not KNOW my husband and give him what I KNEW he’d choose if it was only up to him? So I suggested the Disney cruise we weren’t even considering until that day I had a change of heart. I knew it was a winner when I sent him the text. I knew he’d be all over it. And he was.

One afternoon at Magic Kingdom from 4 pm to midnight PLUS a 4-night Disney cruise. No kids. Plenty of sun and relaxation. And everything Disney. My husband’s perfect vacation.

I’m still having a hard time reconciling the fact that we went on a last-minute 4-night Disney cruise instead of my long-planned Haiti mission trip. A Disney cruise wasn’t what I envisioned AT. ALL. There will be NO Haiti trip for my 40th. But it’s okay. I KNEW my husband. I KNEW he’d LOVE a Disney cruise. I knew this would be a gift to him, and I KNEW I would enjoy myself as well.

Just as I suspected, we had a great time!

During our afternoon at Magic Kingdom, on the Disney cruise, and especially during a breathtakingly beautiful day at Blue Lagoon, we spent time alone again, we got to KNOW one another all over again, we understood each other better than we had in while.

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I like to wander and experience God’s creation in my own sweet time. I like a little adventure, more than I ever knew we got married. I’m desperate to discover what’s beyond the roped-off boardwalk. I’ll easily spend an hour exploring the root-system of a knocked-down tree on the beach. 100 photos of tiny shoots sticking up from the sand? Sounds perfect to me.

He revels in God’s majesty through rest. In the water. On the beach. On a chair, knee deep, or belly flat down in the lagoon. He closes his eyes, spurts affirmations and praises of all good things. “This is amazing. I can’t believe how awesome this place is. This day is perfect.” A beer. Some food. Time with his wife. Nobody around except a single guy who’s exploring? Sounds perfect to him.

We’ve known each other. We won’t ever fully know each other. But we’re getting to know each other more and more every day.

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Knowing your spouse does NOT mean bending over backwards to meet their every need. Knowing your spouse does NOT mean losing yourself so your spouse gets everything they want. Knowing your spouse does NOT mean you’re a doormat. Knowing your spouse does NOT mean you get less, and they get more. Knowing your spouse does NOT mean you lose and they win. Knowing your spouse does NOT mean that they have fun while you do all the hard work. Knowing your spouse does NOT mean they get to love life, while you hate life.

Knowing your spouse means you’re mutually understanding, accommodating, allowing and liberating your husband or wife to have a voice, to grow and develop, to be who they are within the context of marriage, within the context of parenting, within the context of family, within the context of work, within the context of pain and pleasure, within the context of life.

How to survive and thrive through the adolescent years of marriage?

Seek NOT to be known by your spouse, but to KNOW your spouse.

greensig

Carol Femling - Here’s to many more years together!! Happy 18th Anniversary!!! Love you both so much!! Wishing you everything GOOD!!! ❤️June 28, 2016 – 1:04 am

Monica Anderson Palmer - Awesome! Needed this. Thank you.June 27, 2016 – 6:53 pm

Carol Femling - I’ve been married to your dad for almost 43 years and I’ll admit I’ve found out more about him in the last 10 years than I’d care to know. Even after almost 48 years with him, I’m questioning things I never questioned before. All couples go through things you mentioned, but some things God puts before us in life are VERY difficult. Marriage is quite a complicated journey and you really have to work at it and pray A LOT!!! Just get to know Seth NOW and continue to have a beautiful marriage!! Love you both so much!!! Mom ❤️June 27, 2016 – 6:45 pm

When You’re Crying, Frustrated and Freaking Out

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She came into our bathroom a little freaked out. Yes, our 11-year-old daughter, Elsa, was literally freaking out about her hair.

“It’s bumpy!”

“It’s not staying in!”

“It’s not tight enough!”

“It’s not working!”

“I hate my hair!”

She’d already worked on it by herself for who knows how long. She was coming to me to fix it, to make it better somehow.

I’m not so sure I helped.

Elsa knelt down in front of our bathroom sink. I grabbed my brush, wet it a bit, and began combing her hair back into a ponytail. She continued to cry. “It’s bumpy!” “It’s not high enough!” “It’s never going to work!” “I hate my hair!” I gave my husband the eye as I brushed and brushed some more. We are moving into those tween years, you know.

Just as I was about to put the ponytail holder in, she took ahold of her hair and let it all down. “It’s TOO bumpy!” “I hate my hair!”

(Let me be clear. It wasn’t bumpy much at all.)

She stormed her way back to the kids’ bathroom.

Crying and frustration continued.

Honestly, she was out of control.

She’d worked herself into this frenzy. Nobody else.

To us, her hair was going to be just fine. It was going to work out. She was going to leave the house with some sort of fixed hairdo. But to her? It simply wasn’t going to happen.

She tried, tried and tried again. Crying and frustrated. All by herself. Staring at the mirror, on her knees, tears streaming down.

My husband suggested she should wear it down.

“I have to run the mile for gym today! I have to wear it up!”

My husband suggested she should wear it up, then.

“It’s bumpy! It’s never going to work! I hate my hair!”

I couldn’t stand it anymore. I knew she needed help. She just wasn’t willing to accept it. So I walked to her bathroom and suggested, once again, that I could help. I tried to give her a hug, thinking she was perhaps, just so emotionally distraught that it might calm her down or bring release. Not so much. But I did talk her into giving me another chance.

I brushed. I pulled her hair back. I brushed some more. And I kept reminding her that this is totally going to work out, that it doesn’t have to be perfect, that it works better if she adds a little water to make it slicker, all the talk I thought would help.

“It’s not working!”

“It’s never gonna work!”

Finally, I had a great ponytail all ready to go.

“It’s too bumpy!”

Crying.

Frustrated.

Freaking out.

She’d crossed the line.

I left.

Her 4-year-old sister came to see what was the matter. She tried some words. She tried a couple hugs. Didn’t work.

Elsa was left to fend for herself again. Didn’t work either. More crying. More frustration.

She’d spent so much time crying in frustration and disregarding others’ help that it was dangerously close to the school bus arrival. Did I mention she hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet?

So I went back in to help this girl, this daughter of mine.

“Let’s do a half braid on top, like we’ve done before, with the ponytail in the back?”

She surrendered.

I braided.

Honestly, I think it was the best braid I’ve ever done on her head.

I bound the braid, then pulled the rest of the hair up into a ponytail.

It was cute. Just like other days we’ve done this hairstyle and she’s approved it. She persisted in crying and frustration, despite the fact that we all knew she needed to accept the style and move on.

“It’s not tight enough!”

“My hair is ugly.”

“It’s ugly.”

She put a couple bobby pins in even though I told her it was great the way it was.

At this point, she had seven minutes to eat breakfast, get her bags ready and shoes on before the bus came. So she didn’t have a choice.

I heard my husband compliment her hair downstairs.

“No, it’s not. It’s ugly.”

She was still unsettled as the bus rounded the corner, but stopped long enough for me to give her a hug on the way out.

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Good thing I was in a good mood this morning. Good thing I prayed before I got out of bed. Lord, give me direction for my writing and photography and everything else I need to do today.

Truth is, I saw myself in my daughter this morning.

The enemy has been on the prowl. Oh yes, most definitely.

But I’ve also been working myself into a quiet frenzy about my writing, my photography, my work and my worth.

I’ve considered a night, shelf-straightening job at Target just to bring in a few bucks, not to mention, I am good at shelf straightening. I’ve wondered if I should get a one-day-a-week job at my favorite clothing store, White House Black Market – for fun, to bring in some dollars while I’m in this transition period, to help other women feel beautiful. I’ve considered a job at Jimmy Johns, because they’re fun and freaky fast and I love everything about their business model. I’ve considered any sort of paid, regular job at least one day a week next school year while my daughter is in preschool so I can feel like a legitimate, contributing member of our family and society. Maybe I could be a substitute paraprofessional for special education students at our local school? Maybe I should just surrender and work as an on-call speech-language therapist at some metro clinic or hospital? That would be a good use of my talents, wouldn’t it? Everyone would think THAT was a good idea.

I’ve worked myself into this quiet little frenzy about writing, photography and staying home.

“It’s not going to work!”

“It’s never going to work!”

“I’m not good at this!”

“I’m not good enough!”

“I’m dreaming.”

“I can’t find my place.”

“I don’t have a place.”

I realize none of this is true. But just like my daughter, I’ve worked myself into a frenzy. Only I’m tying it all up on the inside, and she let it all out.

It’s going to work out. God has a greater plan and He sees it clearly. I just can’t see it enough to trust it right now.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Funny thing is, after I prayed that prayer and before my daughter came to our bathroom the first time, I’d decided that I need to get and keep my head on straight about this writing and photography business. I told my husband that as much as it sounds enticing to find any sort of regular paying job 1-2 days/week next school year, I shouldn’t. I can’t. I felt a strong call to leave my career to pursue writing and photography, and I haven’t even given myself a full run at it yet. I’m nowhere close to calling it quits on either front. I need to focus on photography between now and early October. Then, when the weather’s cold again, I need to focus on writing – hard core, 18 hours a week – between October and mid-May.

I have PLENTY of work to do.

I don’t need to find more work for the sake of finding more work.

I don’t need to find more work to validate myself.

I don’t need to find more work to prove my worth.

I need to focus on the work I’ve already been given.

I need to focus on God’s call – to write, to photograph, to stay home – and that’s it.

Yes, I’ve been freaking myself out before I’ve barely begun.

I need to look in the mirror and see the truth.

I’ve barely begun.

Yesterday, I had a very clear vision for another adult non-fiction book. In the past two months, I’ve had vision for two additional titles. All three viable as far as I can see. That’s in addition to my children’s book series and the original adult non-fiction I’ve already decided will move forward one way or another.

God has plans.

I’ve barely begun.

You’ve barely begun.

Look in the mirror and see the truth.

What are you fighting today?

What are you crying about?

What are you frustrated about?

What are you freaking out about?

What’s causing a quiet frenzy inside?

As the saying goes, if you’re still living, your best days are still ahead.

Today, I’m coming alongside myself, I’m coming alongside you. I might not see it. You might not see it. But God has a plan.

Let’s work through it. Let’s work it. Let’s do life together.

I’m here. I can help.

greensig

Amy - Thank you so much for your faithful and awesome encouragement, David. I SO appreciate it.April 26, 2016 – 2:13 pm

David Ellis - Amy – lest you think you are alone, I’ve stared in the mirror in the bathroom at my workplace and asked myself all the same questions. Job or no job, the fears, doubts and hesitations are all the same. As are the multiple calls to distraction. Thanks for the authenticity and encouragement thru your words. Neither are possible without the other. Stay the course. You are called.April 21, 2016 – 3:19 pm

Finding Purpose, Place and Peace in the New Year

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2015 was new, crazy, challenging, a bit here, there and everywhere.

In January and February, I was empty, then filled. My husband was sick, then sick some more.

In March and April, I was incredibly inspired, then incredibly humbled.

In May, I started fresh again.

In June, I was hopeful, then spirit crushed.

In July, I said no to one thing, then yes to two others.

In August, I was completely confused, then crystal clear.

In September, I started dashing like a mad woman.

October, too.

By November, I was sure of myself, then totally unsure of myself.

I started working hard, really hard trying to prove myself, my worth, my existence on this planet. I circled, round and round, then round some more. I started seeing everyone else and their place, but couldn’t see where I fit. I wasn’t the dentist nor the hygienist, the assistant nor the billing specialist. I wasn’t the teacher nor the aide, the secretary nor the principal. I wasn’t the server nor the manager, the clerk nor the cashier. I wasn’t the business woman or corporate ladder climber, the 9-5’er nor the stay-at-homer. I wasn’t the plumber or electrician, the postal worker or swim instructor. I wasn’t a pastor or preacher, a small group leader or a youth worker. I wasn’t an awesome mom or a horrible mom, a pool mom, a room mom, a snow sledding mom, or an awesome-at-remembering-to-give-Christmas-gifts-to-teachers kind of mom. I wasn’t an income-earning wife or deadbeat wife, nor was I earning much of any income kind of wife. I wasn’t a practicing speech-language therapist anymore, but I had the credentials and experience to say I was. I wasn’t a real photographer, but I wasn’t a phony either. I wasn’t a journalist, an author, or a highly-known blogger, and I wasn’t sure I was really cut out for this writing business but I wasn’t really sure I was cut out for anything else either. I wasn’t a missionary in real life, but I totally was in my heart.

I was lost, but so sure.

Confident, but totally not.

I knew, but I didn’t know at all.

Yes lost, but finding?

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In December, I found myself. In Africa. In Kenya. At Shangilia Orphanage. In huts. In the slums. I found myself holding tiny orphan hands, strolling down red roads and garbage-littered roads, slipping unexpectedly in piles of cow dung, and traversing narrow walkways. I found myself wide awake to drums and chanting, crying to God in the middle of the night. I found myself feeling beautiful. I found myself in two little boys I loved like a mama. I found myself kneeling naked to receive a morning trickle of a shower. I found myself in flowing dresses and pant-skirts and rugged lace headbands. I found myself in the middle of the mess. I found myself thousands of miles from home. I found myself thousands of miles from all the loved ones I’d ever known. I found myself near to loved ones He’s always known. I found myself exactly where I expected to find myself. I found myself where God expected me to find myself. I found peace.

I didn’t plan to go to Africa in 2015. Nor did I plan to go anytime soon. But I always dreamed it. I always knew it would happen.

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Two years ago, I stopped dead in my tracks. I stopped the blogging madness and took time in solitude to reflect on all that had been, all that could be from there on out. I wasn’t writing resolutions. I was articulating visions, dreams and callings that had been mulling in my brain for years. It took 15 pages of writing to get it all out, to get to the point.

I didn’t know IF or WHEN any of it would happen. But I wrote it all down. I needed to. My heart said yes. It’s time to acknowledge the dreams of my heart, God’s dreams for my life.

Among those words were these…

Dirty during the day. Dressy at night.

15 pages of spewing led to that revelation, that vision of my future. Vague to others, clear enough to me.

In Africa and when I returned home to several long dresses and skirts that needed to be hand scrubbed because they were so dirty on the bottom, I knew God had begun fulfilling the vision I’d scribbled in a journal two years ago.

Dirty during the day. Dressy at night.

I sensed it in my heart.

This is the beginning.

I let those dresses and skirts sit on the laundry room floor for 2 1/2 weeks before I scrubbed them. I wanted to remember, to grasp, to literally SMELL God’s provision in my own two hands. I’m weird, I know. I needed to know with all my heart that through all the floundering, God’s been working something out in me this year.

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I was flip-floppy. He said, I’m working my plan.

I was insecure. He said Be secure in me.

I needed to prove my worth. He said Accept my grace.

I didn’t fit anywhere anymore. He said I’m making a way.

I wanted to know what was going to happen. He said Trust me.

I couldn’t find my place in this world. He said Be not conformed to this world.

I thought the invitation to Africa was pretty much a joke. He said It’s time to get dirty. It’s time to love and be loved, beloved. Let me show you a homeland for your heart.

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As I edit this, there’s only 10 hours left of 2015. For six days now, I’ve sensed the dead space, the quiet before what’s next. In this limbo between one year and the next, it’s tempting to become hopeless, bored and withdrawn. It’s tempting to believe God’s done with us, that nothing more could be accomplished through our lives. It’s tempting to be fearful, afraid, peeking ’round every corner wondering which shoe will drop next. It’s tempting to control, manipulate and plan every resolution, leaving little room for God’s provision. It’s tempting to believe we’re less than, less than capable, less than everyone else, less than worthy of anything and everything on this moving mass called earth. It’s tempting to shut down. It’s tempting to ramp up the volume and manipulate facts, figures and details to our liking. It’s tempting to stop believing. It’s tempting to believe we have power, control and authority over every minute of our lives, over all of heaven and earth. It’s tempting to adopt crazes and follow masses this way and that. It’s tempting to give up, give in. It’s tempting to take control, take over.

But we mustn’t.

We mustn’t succumb.

God is at work.

His plans are unfolding. For me. For you.

He has a purpose, a place and peace for us that passes all understanding.

We must be patient.

In the meantime, let’s “Work like it depends on us [and] pray like it depends on God.” – Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

This year, I intend to dream big and pray boldly about dirty during the day. God’s given me a good hunch about the work I need to do for dressy at night. And believe me, there’s a whole lot of life that fits in between and all around those two sentences that’ll need plenty of praying and trusting, working and believing for.

View More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2014

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So how about you?

If you took time, real time, to honor the life God’s given you and write it all down….

What would you resolve to believe next year?

What are your dreams, your visions? How bold are they?

What will you work for like it depends on you?

What will you pray for like it depends on God?

What’s next, friend?

What are you trusting for?

God’s got this. He has it all. He’s bringing us through. He’s bringing us to.

We’re here for a reason. Let’s live like it.

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