GIVING UP ON GOD.

I received a message from someone yesterday in response to my last post, sharing their heart about how they have given up on God, and feel overlooked and forgotten about by Him as their family struggled, and were disappointed in the church as a whole for not helping them in their time of need.

And boy, this stopped me in my tracks as my heart ached for them remembering a time I too gave up on God, and church, as well. I don’t think there’s anything more painful than walking through those seasons (and often can be years and years) praying, praying, praying, seeing God bless others with the answer to your prayer, and feeling completely overlooked and forgotten about. For 5 years, I walked around in this similar season struggling with everything inside of me to keep having hope and faith that God would pull me from the heartache that consumed my every thought. I was good at hiding it, I was good at putting a mask on around others, but deep down, I struggled and questioned everything I believed in… including if God was truly good, why was I feeling so let down by Him? Where was He in the midst of my tears? How could a good Heavenly Father first take my earthly father, then take my ability to carry on my bloodline? I struggled monthly wavering from “I believe I believe I believe” to yet, another let down of dreams unfulfilled in my journey to become a mother. While we each have different struggles that break our heart, those 5 years were my most gut-wrenching season that challenged, and ultimately deepened, my walk of faith.

And more days than not, it wasn’t pretty. Behind the scenes, I had so many mad at God moments pulling away from Him. I went through seasons of just being so furious. I’ll never forget the day after a very expensive fertility treatment, I got the call from the doctor that my blood work came back and I was… still… not… pregnant. Feeling completely numb, I marched upstairs, grabbed the box of baby items I had been buying in faith over the years, and threw the box down the stairs screaming at God that I gave up on Him. For the 11 weeks that followed, I didn’t want to talk to Him, I didn’t want to go to church and fake smile to others like “God is so good” when I was crumbling inside questioning if He even really was. I was absolutely numb, feeling so overlooked and forgotten about.

But now on the other side, I look back and am grateful for those broken seasons because those are where I learned the truest lessons of what faith truly is. I learned a few things about Jesus during that wilderness season that I want to now share with you. Friend, I see the brokeness inside of you, for I once too felt it, and I pray the below can give you hope as you walk in your own wilderness season before reaching your promised land (and how beautiful it truly is once we finally finally reach it!). I am no where close to being a theologian, but as someone who has experienced immense heartbreak desperately trying to cling to His word during the hardest seasons of disappointment, and made it through to the other side, these are truths I have learned from ultimately not giving up on God.

  1. Giving up can be the best place for you to be. Most of my greatest breakthroughs came first in those tear-filled on my knees moments of surrender (and there was more than one moment). Screaming through tears that I couldn’t do life on my own anymore, that I needed Him more than ever, that I didn’t understand the fog in front of my eyes, but that He saw the bigger picture and I wanted to see it too (Mark 8:35).
  2. He doesn’t speak through fireworks or big grand gestures. He speaks through His word, through fasting, when we draw close, not when we’ve pushed Him away (2 Samuel 7:28). Though we want Him to be shouting at us through a microphone in the moments where we are most disappointed in His silence, I have found it was always when I took a step, then another step, toward Him that He spoke to my heart the loudest.
  3. He always takes us back. No matter how mad we’ve been at Him, no matter how much we’ve fought our belief in Him, no matter how many Sundays we didn’t spend in church. He is always waiting to embrace us, forgive us, and comfort us in our greatest times of heartbreak (Psalm 34:18).
  4. He can be trusted. This one can be super hard to believe when in the mist of the heartbreak, but I have learned, sometimes God’s “no” is simply “not yet” or “I’ve got something better.” But first, we must keep trusting, even if everything inside of us is fighting to do so. (Proverbs 3:5)
  5. The church is not perfect, because the church is not Jesus Himself. Yes, I believe it’s important to be plugged into a community of believers to do life with, and different churches have beautifully poured into my heart in different seasons, but because the church is made up of humans who mess up daily, the church will never be perfect. Jesus is the only perfect one. While going to church is so important to continue learning and growing in our faith, we must not put our hope in the church or members of the church to save us, but only in Jesus Himself who is our true Savior (Acts 4:12).
  6. Jesus keeps His promises. Maybe you haven’t been given a specific promise from the Lord, but His word is full of so many more other promises. His word is full of so many truths about yourself that are being clouded by big lies the enemy is filling your head with at this moment (keyword: at this moment). Confusion and doubt and worry and… disbelief… are the enemy’s greatest weapons to winning. But the good news is, inside each of us, through His Holy Spirit, we have the power to tell the enemy to FLEE in the name of Jesus (my momma reminds me of this one almost daily!). Because Jesus gave His life so that you may know true life and has promised you that He would be your savior. Jesus has promised you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Jesus has promised you that He will always be your comforter as He counts your tears. Jesus has not promised that this life would be easy or that disappointment would not exist. But He has promised that His plans for you are good, that ALL things work for the good of those who love Him, AND, that He keeps His promises. (2 Peter 3:9)
  7. Seasons change. Just as summer turns to fall, and fall turns to winter, new life is brought forth in the spring (and thank goodness because I can’t seem to keep any flowers alive in my yard!). And new hope will be brought forth in a new season, if you keep seeking His heart. Keep taking steps of faith, keep believing even when everything inside of you is telling you to stop. God might feel silent in this season, but He has not given up on you. One day, and I pray it’s this side of Heaven, you will be able to look back and see His purpose in the silent waiting. For He always has a purpose beyond what we can ever comprehend or understand in the midst of the trial. And thankfully, His love is steadfast and His mercies are new every morning (Lamenttions 3:22-23):

A few resources I recommend below. I remember in that waiting season, the last thing I wanted to turn to was the Bible, so if you are feeling that way right now, I recommend watching these two movies about questioning where God is in the midst of heartbreak.

The Shack (also a book if you prefer to read)

I Can Only Imagine

Both of these two movies shook me to the core and helped me gain some good perspective on what can feel like such heavy topics of faith, especially if you are questioning your faith in the first place. I hope they can bring you encouragement too and answers those lingering questions in your heart better than I could squeeze into a blog entry.

WHAT DID SHE JUST CALL ME?

Totally not my desk. Because what mom has time to make these perfectly posed images?
But in my blogging dreams, my desk looks just like this stock photo.

Once upon a time I was a blogger.

Then God fulfilled the desires of my heart after a very long journey of faith and I became a mother. And any free time I once had for blogging went out the door because now any free time I actually get goes straight toward cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, growing my Young Living business, alternating two kids between two nap times, and oh yeah, showering…. which only happens on a good day. And on a really really good day, I get to “sleep when the babies sleep.” Can we all just admit that never happens when you have the aforementioned list daunting you everyday?


 

So blogging has taken a back seat the past year since adopting our second child in under two years (and this is the point where #momguilt sets in because I haven’t even had time to update my blog about his arrival last Fall… let alone work on a baby book for either child… thank goodness for Instagram letting me throw up quick updates and baby announcements!). I hate that when I look at my blog here, it’s been almost a year since it’s been updated. Because once upon a time, I really enjoyed blogging.

And what I miss most from those blogging days is simply connecting with YOU. That beautiful person on the other side of the screen. I remember days of logging into my stats seeing people reading my words from all around the world. How in the world they found my blog, I’m still not quite sure, but there was such a beauty in connecting heartstrings to heartstrings with you through this world wide web. To this day, I still have a folder on my email server where I have saved your emails about how something I wrote touched your heart. Those always meant the world to me, how God could use my words to speak life into your heart. These days though, the culture of online sharing has seemed to move to more what I call the “fast food” version of blogging through Instagram and Facebook (and I ain’t gonna lie, with two energetic kiddos swirling around me, it’s just easier to do a quick post from my phone than sit down at my laptop like I am doing now while they miraculously both nap at the same time). Blogging almost feels as outdated as a rotary phone, or beepers. Hahahahaha, raise your hand if you ever had a beeper! This girl did her Freshmen year of high school, because, you know, I was very important (not!).


 

And in the whirls of motherhood, some days I just feel like I’ve lost myself, that person who used to blog and share probably more than I should have of what was going on in my world and the life lessons God was teaching me in that season. Yet, while some people told me I should scale back on the authenticity I shared, I continued to share because you connected with it, and it helped you feel less alone in whatever you were battling too. Though our struggles might have looked different, you saw a piece of yourself in my words and we instantly felt like we had known each other for years. But as I pour into these two beautiful children each day now in this new season of my life, some days I have nothing left to pour out into creative projects, let alone updating this blog where our hearts once met. And boy, as I’ve stepped away, I’ve realized more than ever, such a huge part of my heart was not being fulfilled, because I do miss writing.

So the other day, I challenged myself to do something crazy on a whim. An opportunity presented itself for me to send in an essay to a popular mom blog I follow, and at first, I talked myself out of it. “Psssh, I don’t have time to write anymore…” For a few days I let all the reasons why I shouldn’t participate fill my head, and the enemy won as I let all the doubt creep in. “I don’t even know if I’m still any good at writing, I mean does any one care to even read my stories anymore? Do my words really matter or make a difference anymore?” You know, all the ways we humans in our frailty let fear override faith. But then I decided to take a step of faith… and test the waters God was asking me to walk on… I got both babies napping at the same time, and used that hallelujah moment to sit down and…. write. And weep as I was writing. And wrote some more. Then reread it, wept some more, asked myself if I had the courage to submit it to this blog where a bigger audience could read my vulnerable words, and before I could talk myself out of it, I nervously hit the SEND button.


 

“Oh my gosh, did I really just do that?” I questioned in fear. “Well… I doubt anything will even come of it, I’m a bit rusty in the writing department these days, but at least I pushed myself to do something that scared me.”

A few days went by and I didn’t hear anything from the blog… So I continued doubting… I continued to prepare myself mentally for the let down that I figured was inevitable to come… why do we always let doubt get the best of us? Why in the waiting do we first resort to questioning God’s goodness instead of choosing to believe all things are possible? But a part of me still clung to faith that maybe… just maybe… all things were indeed still possible for this exhausted momma.

Then last night as I was walking to bed… my email dinged on my phone and I got “the” email from the blog editor I had been waiting on:

“This is beautiful, we want to publish it, now send us 2-3 sentences for your Author page.”

GASPPPPPPPPPP.

Did she just call me…. an AUTHOR? The very word I had been trying to muster up the courage to fulfill as you can read about here in my mission to one day turn a manuscript I’ve written into a published book.

I froze in disbelief. Then I happy danced and squealed very quietly trying not to wake the kids up as I thought this exhausted momma’s still got it!



I think what made me most estatic was… this perfect stranger just confirmed… yes, I’m still a writer. Yes, my world has changed in the past 2 years, and most days as a mom I feel more like a maid/cook/laundress/poop cleaner/baby calmer, but deep down inside of me, I was still… a writer.

More on that publishing to come…

But as far as this blog goes… I can’t promise I’m going to start blogging as often as I once did, but please know, I’m so grateful for our friendship that blogging has brought into my world over the past decade. And I’m going to try to commit to putting my heart out there more in this space, because I miss connecting with your heart in return. Just recently I met a friend in person who I had met online through our blogs almost 10 years ago. What started as an online photography friendship, then turned deeper into our struggles with infertility, and it was so beautiful to finally, in person, hug each other, and celebrate together that God was faithful, and we were both now mothers!

In closing, friend, I want to ask you… what step of faith are you letting doubt consume? What huge scary God size dream are you stepping back from for fear of failure, or almost worst, fear of the possible disappointment in unanswered prayers? I challenge you today to not stress about conquering the whole mountain… but just take one step of faith toward the upward climb. Because I’m confident Jesus will be there waiting for you to gladly extend His hand and say “It’s about time, now let’s take another step together, and another.”


 

SARAH & PARKER ARE MARRIED!

This wedding brings so many tears to my eyes for so many reasons. I have watched Sarah grow up in front of my camera since she was 16, and in a lot of ways it felt like watching my own little sister get married to the love of her life. This family has come to mean so much to Stephen and I over the years having photographed Sarah’s brother’s weddings as well, and family portraits in between. The most beautiful part of a job as a photographer is when clients become friends and even more so like family.

This wedding also brings tears to my eyes because this wedding closes out my career as a photographer. As I now focus on motherhood, this wedding was the last shoot I took on and moving forward I will be hanging up camera for good. But what a beautiful chapter and season it was in my life, and I will forever be grateful for the adventures and relationships it allowed me to create the past decade.

Sarah & Parker have one of those love stories that just makes you smile. From the time they met on a trampoline at 12 years old, their love for each other has endured through all the important milestones of growing up together. Though life sometimes took them down different paths, they always found their way back to each other, and they ultimately got their happily ever after. When you look at the way these two look at each other, you just feel their love and you can’t imagine their lives without one another.

Their wedding day was a such a joy to celebrate along their families as we all watched these two begin their forever. Here are some favorites from their day below!

And it was a pleasure to work alongside these amazing vendors:

CEREMONY & RECEPTION: Timuquana Country Club // CAKE: Biscotti’s // MAKE UP & HAIR: Lauren Howard // BAND: The Time Is Now // FLOWERS: Marble & Pine // DRESS: Modern Trousseau Charleston // SHOES: Steve Madden // VIDEO: Williams Tyler Sowers // STATIONARY: Heather O’Brian Design