Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This Season

 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven-  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Good times.  Bad times.  Hard times.  Joyful times.
Everyone has them and I am no different.  This past week has been tough.  Last Tuesday morning, my aunt passed away.  She was my mom's baby sister; she was only 50 and was only diagnosed with cancer for 11 weeks before the cancer won; she left behind a 24 year old daughter and an 11 year old daughter.  

So this season has been hard.

Visiting with her the last few days, watching the toll it took on her girls, watching my mom, meeting with the funeral home, standing in the receiving line, singing at the graveside...

...these things are difficult and exhausting.

A week later, the gravity of it is finally settling in.  The truth is, that even in this season, God is good.  I can tell you that time after time, God's mercy carried her and carried us throughout this ordeal.

Because let's be honest: cancer is an ordeal.  

But I gotta tell you, the mercy that ministered to me the most during this season was this season.

 It's like God was telling me, "Only I can make death beautiful.  Only I can take a terrible event and make it glorious."

The irony that a really bad week happened to occur during what I consider to be the most beautiful week of the year was not lost on me.  Every time I walked outside, there was the reminder that God is in the details...the radiant colors, the crispest mornings and the golden glow of the evenings.

He was there the whole time.

This morning, I heard a song that tied all of this together:

"All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You"

 Earlier in the post, I said that the cancer won.  Well that's just not true.  Right now, my aunt is cancer free in a place where there is no sickness.  And her girls will be okay because God is good.  And one day, we will see her again in the only place that is more beautiful this season.

 photo EBP_Signature_zpsdede2a5f.png

Monday, November 4, 2013

Absence makes the heart grow fonder? I sure hope so.

 I realize it has been fifty-eleven months since blogged.  You probably even forgot that I existed.

But I have a really good excuse:

So that's a funny story and it goes something like this:


I had this whole life plan and it did not involve another baby.  Then, God decided my plan wasn't His plan and {BOOM} we are due in April.  We can actually find out this week the gender.  We are very excited and we really don't care either way; it would be convenient if it were a girl since everything I have is pink but I would love to have boy, too!

In addition to growing a human, I have been busy taking care of my two girls.  Remember these beauties?

Kelsey, my beach beauty.  How is she 13?

Reese Ann...the "spiciest" two-year-old on the planet!
They keep me on my toes.

I stay pretty busy these days with photography.  It's still not my full-time job but it is definitely my passion.

Here are a few things I've done since I last posted. 

Candace and Jeremy were married in June 2013 in Columbia, SC.  One of my all-time favorite shots...ever.

Miss Olivia was born in June 2013 and was a joy to capture at 13 days old.  How about that one with her daddy?  CHILLS!!!
And these sisters?  Love it.
So that's just a few.  I can't wait to share the 1 year pictures I just did of the sweetest set of twins.

I can't wait to post a meaningful post.  But it's late...and my baby wants me to go go bed.

 photo EBP_Signature_zpsdede2a5f.png

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Christian Yogi: An Observation

Y'all know I love hot yoga. Like really, really love.  Remember the first time I did it?  That post was all fun and games but a true love of the practice was born that day...and I've been steady practicing ever since.

Today my husband sent me an article via Facebook regarding Yoga's compatibility with Christianity.  (If you aren't friends with me on Facebook, find me here!!!)

My response was pretty long because this is something near and dear to my heart.  I love yoga.  (Wait...I think I already said that...)  I can't imagine it not being in my life.  So this was my Facebook response. 

I welcome your comments.  Do you agree?

"This is very interesting. Even though I didn't understand anything in the article nor did I understand the anything in the article that it pointed to....I read both of them. And then I Googled "Christianity and Yoga" to hopefully find something that I could more easily understand. I found an article by Mark Driscoll that was so full of Christian Fundamentalist rhetoric that it made my skin crawl. I'm not saying that the fundamentals of Christianity are bad. The fundamentals of Christianity are the building blocks of our faith...but when it borders radicalism, we start looking like Westboro...and you know ain't nobody got time for that. However, bringing it back to real life and from the perspective of a very grounded Christian who happens to practice yoga, I think the concept that yoga = atheism is a pile of bull dung. 

(Pictures not included in original post...because, duh, that's not how FB works.)

Let me preface this by saying: I don't speak to the origination of Yoga, the Hindu faith or what each pose may or may not mean to someone else. This is my take on the topic and by no means a historical or theological answer. It's my opinion based on my personal experience.

The first few times I went to Hot Yoga, I felt an inner struggle. Was I doing something that went against my faith? Was I opening myself up to something that I didn't really want? Those were real questions for me and I found my answer after praying and after talking to other Christians who practice.

I had a conversation with one of my instructors about this topic a few months back. The conversation was triggered when she played a version of Amazing Grace as part of the playlist for the class. It made me think she was a Christian and I was right. I told her that when I come to my mat, I find an overwhelming amount of peace; peace that translates into my every day life. I've never experienced anything like it. I got to thinking about The Light that lives inside of my heart (i.e. The Holy Spirit) and anytime I welcome or ask for more of It, I think God responds. Whether I meditate on The Holy Spirit while sitting on a church pew or on my yoga mat is irrelevant. Whether the person beside me in Yoga is meditating on the same Holy Spirit is also irrelevant. The Holy Spirit...whether in a Hot Yoga Studio, a car wash, my office, church, a treadmill...anywhere...is always the center of my practice, no matter what I'm practicing.

I mean, how beautiful is this?

One of my questions when I first started practicing Yoga was regarding the word Namaste. At the end of class, the teacher bows to the class and says "Namaste;" the students bow back and repeat the word. I don't want to bow to another person and say something that I don't know what it means. So I did a little reading. The word is Sanskrit and it is basically a salutation. One of the translations is "I bow to the light inside of you." To me, there is only One Light. The One who came to the Earth and died on a cross so that I could live. That's The Light that I bow to. Another translation is that it is a mutual appreciation between the students and the teacher. I do appreciate the instructors because they assist me in a journey on my mat. I'm thankful for their guidance and instruction.

As for the Pranayama breathing that is taught in yoga: I like it. I can't help but think about that song, "This Is The Air I Breathe." What other time do you focus on your breath...your life force...as much as you do in yoga? If I don't breathe, I don't live. If I don't have Christ, I don't live. I imagine filling my lungs with His Breath and breathing it out for the rest of the world to see.  Louie Giglio says that 'Worship is simply giving God his breath back."  Genesis 2:7 says:
"Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person."


Does everyone practice yoga like me? Nope. Does every Christian approach yoga in the same manner? Not likely. But I do...and that's all that matters to me.

My Alabaster Jar

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spontaneity and Motherhood

 Today I sent an email to my Oklahoma BFF, Reese, reminding her that she hadn't updated her blog in a very long time.

She kindly responded to my email that neither had I.

Touché, Reese, touché.

 Life with a 12-year-old and a 23-month-old doesn't stop.  Ever.  By the time I get the girls in bed, I am beat.  I'm sure that sounds like a familiar song and dance to all y'all moms out there.  Motherhood encompasses a lot of words: fullness, happiness, exhaustion, laughter, responsibility, thankfulness, purposeful and well, lots of laundry.

You know what word is NOT included that group of words describing Motherhood?

Spontaneity.  Remember that?

Remember when you and your honey could just go out to dinner at the last minute?  Or hop in the car for a day trip to the beach?  Or come home from work and have cereal for dinner vegged out on the couch catching up on last month's DVR shows?

I do.  And I can tell you that right now, those days are long gone.

A last-minute dinner out is typically down at Chicken Play...ahem, I mean Chick-Fil-A.

My DVR is filled up with Bubble Guppies, Dora, Mickey and Team Umizoomi.  I can't tell you the last time I caught up on an adult TV series.

A trip to the beach at this point would never, I repeat never, be a day trip.  It would take me an entire day simply to pack the car.

I'm not complaining even though it probably sounds that way.  It's just the way life is for us right now.  schedules, routine and planning but no spontaneity.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I am blessed.

I planned to share some updated pictures but Blogger is being cray...and ain't nobody got time for cray.  So the pictures will have to wait.

In the meantime, I am going to be spontaneous and go to bed 15 minutes later than normal...right now.  It's no Party Rock Anthem but sleep is a glorious thing to me.

Good night peeps.  And if you happen to be in Oklahoma life my BFF Reese, please know that we are praying for you.

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

 My Alabaster Jar

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Great Yoga Debacle

(This post has been featured in my local online newsaper, The Voice of Moore County!!!  Check it out!!)

Today, I tried something new.

Please indulge me for a moment as I tell you about my lunchtime “yoga” session. Allow me to start you off with a few bullets so you can fully appreciate my experience:

· I did not realize that I signed up online for HOT yoga. (FAIL)

· The only thing I drank this morning was red bull and diet coke. (FAIL) (Also, don't judge.)

· The only thing I ate this morning was a hand full of energy trail mix and a little oatmeal. (FAIL)

· I had make-up on my face and hair product in my hair. (FAIL)

As I walked into the studio, with my borrowed yoga mat and over sized beach towel, I noticed I was surrounded by women who were…well, let’s just say “toned” is an understatement. I stepped into the 105 degree room and thought to myself, “How in the heck am I going to survive one hour in this HELL room doing yoga when I can hardly even BREATHE just sitting here?”

I wanted to leave.  I wanted to stay.  Honestly, I was intimidated because these women were like Greek Goddesses with taught tummies and rock-hard gleuts.

Then we started. And the first five minutes were GREAT! I was keeping up. I was breathing. I was downward-dogging and planking and warrior posing like a champ.

Then…all of a sudden. It wasn’t so great. I thought I was going to puke on my yoga mat. 

I stepped out of the HELL room into the nicely air conditioned room where the owner shoved something with electrolytes down my throat provided me with a wonderful drink full of vitamins and electrolytes. He explained that hot yoga is the hardest thing he’s ever done…harder than triathlons even.  Most people have to take a break their first time.  I’m pretty sure he said some other stuff like Namaste and crap….but I was zoning. I had my eye on the air conditioner in the window and nothing else.

Immediately, the electrolytes hit my body and I was like freaking superwoman. I was ready to face the HELL room again.

So I did. And I rocked out the rest out the rest of the session.  And when I say "rocked out," I really mean that I tried every move and didn't die.

At the very end of most every yoga session, the class spends a few minutes meditating. While I was laying flat on the mat, some person (an angel? A heavenly Saint? The Red Cross?) placed a cool cloth on my face and proceeded to massage my neck, shoulders and arms with lavender oil.

It was in that moment, that I fell in love with Hot Yoga.


However, there are a few lessons- learned that I will share with you…in case you, too, decide to try yoga on your lunch break:

1. If you sign up for yoga, know in advance that it is HOT Yoga.
2. Diet coke and red bull do not hydrate your body.  In fact, you might as well just drink chalk.

3. Sweat dripping in your eyes mixed with make-up and hair spray is like taking a can of Lysol and spraying directly into your corneas.

4. When you are done, your hair may or may not look exactly like that lady at The Food Mart who shops in her bath robe and slippers. You know the one.

5. You CAN equally LOVE and HATE something.

And there you have it. My lunchtime hot yoga experience.
I can’t wait to go back.  Seriously, the feeling of walking out of that hot room...my body soaking wet, my mind perfectly clear and an energy that almost doesn't make sense...I loved it.

My Alabaster Jar

Thursday, January 3, 2013

4.5 Days Later

On Sunday, I posted something that wasn't easy to post.

And I feel better for saying it and for sticking with it.  

I know, it's only been like 4.5 days, but still...

The last drink I had was Saturday night.  Since then, I've been clear-headed and productive and happy.

I'm not going to lie...the first night I was all like, "Oh.my.goodness....what am I going to drink???"  Water is boring.  I needed something else and I didn't have anything else.  That was really the hardest part so far.  

So, Mark made some tea and I actually like it unsweetened.

Stop my Southern heart.  I like unsweetened tea?  Who knew? 

But when I need something frilly, I also have Perrier and other flavored sparkling waters.  They are fancy and yummy and just what I need in those moments.

Everything is good, well, except for that twitch in my left eye.  For real.  Like every other minute it twitches.

But other than that, everything is good.

I'm ready to see where God takes me.  I'm ready to see what He does with this heart and all that space that I was guarding so ferociously.

This girl is ready. 

Picture by Ashley

 My cousin sent me scripture the other day.  I'm not sure that she even knows about all of this that's going on.  Mostly, I tell people about my decision (ummmm....or God's decision FOR me?) face-to-face and through my blog.  Duh...because doesn't everyone communicate these days via a blog?  Anyway, she sent me a scripture that said:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21)

I laughed.

If you know me in real life you know why I laughed.

I laughed because no matter how I run or ignore God, HIS plans always prevail in my life.  I have all these plans and thoughts and ideas (and justifications).  He just sits back and watches me spin my wheels and then He picks me up out of the mud and sets me back on His path.

Every time.

I almost took down that blog post.  I'm not really good at admitting when I have a problem.  I like being the one who has it all together in a nifty little box with  pretty wrapping paper.  And cute shoes.  

Always cute shoes.

But that completely goes against what it means to be a Christian.  There is nothing good about me except Christ in me.  Not even cute shoes.

I need to learn to lean more on Him and less on me.

One day at a time.  

Picture by Ashley

For His Glory.

My Alabaster Jar

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Negative Progression

This post isn't easy to write.  In fact, these words won't be easy to say.  But I'm going to write them and I'm going to say them anyway. 

They need to be said.  Here.  To you.

Mark and I got married in October 2007.  We went on our honeymoon, came home and then the next day he left for a 18 day hunt in the midwest.  I don't remember being mad at him for going.  He had gone every year prior so it was expected.  Except this time, we were just married living in a house that was in the middle of renovation...subfloor, dust, paint, trimwork...it was a mess.  And I couldn't sleep at night. 

Looking back, maybe I was actually mad.

So I opened up a bottle of red wine left over from our wedding and had two glasses.  No big deal.

Slept like a baby.

Then I did the same thing the next night.  No big deal.

It helped me sleep and it was actually delicious.  So win-win.

In January 2010, I lost a baby.  It was quite upsetting to say the least.  It rocked me to my core. 

Again...with the not sleeping and wanting to feel numb.  So I opened up a bottle of wine.  And I drank it to help me rest and forget.  Ironically, I thought it would help me keep it together.  No big deal.

Then I got pregnant with Reese and life was great. 

Until it wasn't. 

Because Reese Ann is handful.  Non-stop crying.  Non-stop motion.  Non-stop climbing, and opening and getting into stuff and wow.

Polar opposite of Kelsey...who is chilled, laid-back and easy.

Reese is so awesome but she is hard.  Full of life and energy....I had a hard time keeping up so I opened up a bottle of wine.  And it helped me relax and cope with the craziness.

No big deal, right?

I didn't drink and drive.  I wasn't getting drunk.  I was just relaxing.

Until the amount that I had to drink to relax kept increasing.  One glass, two glasses...a bottle.  I mean my wine glasses are big, okay?  And then it got to where I couldn't sleep without having wine at night.

It's socially acceptable.  Wine is classy. 

Until it's not.

Until you feel like you have to hide empty wine bottles.  I think that was the actual minute I knew that maybe it was more than just a "glass at night to relax."

As a side note, I'm saying wine here...but really, I like beer, too.  Maybe even more. 

Mark asked me a question a few months ago.  He said, "Don't you think anything you HAVE to have every day is bad for you?"

I told him that he was being silly.  I didn't NEED it everyday.  I just liked it. 

But I knew.

And to his credit, he didn't hound me about it or argue his point.  It was just a seed that he planted.

About ten days ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and felt God talking to me.  Clear as a bell.  He said, "Give it up. For Me."

It was profound.  I mean, God spoke to me.  The God who created the universe and breathed planets and threw stars in the sky...spoke to me.  Not audibly but He put those words in my heart and in my head.  So you know what I did?

I ignored it.

The very next day, I went to the grocery store and at first, I walked past that aisle.  But then I turned around and went right down that aisle and replenished my supply.  Something inside of me felt it in the pitt of my stomach.  That tug.  You know what I'm talking about and it ain't good.

To knowingly ignore something that God has asked you to do isn't very wise.  I've done it before and He always has a way of getting my attention.  I actually thought about what He would do to get my attention if I continued to ignore Him.

He kept waking me up at night, telling me the same thing.

"Do this for Me."

So I casually mentioned it to one of my friends.  I chose a friend who enjoyed it the same as me.  I wanted validation.  You know what she said?   "If God cares enough to wake you up at night to tell you something, you better listen."

Ouch.  Not what I expected to hear.

So I ignore her, too.

For a few more days.

Then, on my way to church this morning, I just surrendered it.  Gave it to Him.  I kinda got tired of fighting it.  Fighting is exhausting.  And it takes you further away from God.

I've been far away from God and that is a bad place to be. 

An amazing thing happened when I made that decision today.  I felt The Holy Spirit renew in me.  He was always there but I felt it bigger and deeper than I had in a long time.

Tonight, I am having sweet tea (decaf) and bottled water.  I am honoring God.  And I'm not going to lie...I feel like I am leaving a friend behind.  This is going to be good for me.  It might not be fun and there will be times I want to go back. 

But for now, I'm listening.

This isn't a New Year's Resolution.  It's answering God.  Obeying Him.  Even when you don't want to.

I didn't share the entire background of my drinking to put blame on any person or situation.  It's not like at that all.  It's just that I can see the progression over the years.  Even baby steps in the wrong direction will eventually get you totally off-course.

I don't know where this is headed; but He does.  And I'm not saying that one day I can't go back to having a glass here and there.  "Never" and "always" are words I try to avoid.  I just need to clear my head, clear my heart and be ready for whatever work God is trying to complete in me.

And maybe I'll sleep tonight.
My Alabaster Jar