I Want You to Know Jesus

Sometimes, I get curios about what it is that people mean by “I want you to know Jesus”. How did they reach the conclusion that I don’t already know him? But I don’t want to have to defend my stance on it, so I let them go on about how I should know him as they do.

If you have been following my blog since I used to write on my previous one, you know a lot about me, possibly more than even people I know in the “real” world, because I openly shared a lot about myself on that blog-and even on this one, though not to the same extent.

Writing on that blog was life changing, as was the decision to delete it. There were times when I’d sit at my desk and just write until I felt empty of all the words that I needed to say. But there were also times when I’d get halfway through what I intended to write and break down because it would get to be too painful. Writing seemed to magnify the extent to which those experiences continued to influence me and it led me back to the darkest places I’ve been in.

But in spite of that, I kept on writing because I discovered that it was a way to finally validate the things that I had been through. Once they were written, those things were no longer only in my head, they were real! Reading my own words on this screen helped me become objective about what I’d been through and it also helped me recognize that I had a right to feel however I needed to feel about them-as long as I allowed myself to process those feelings so that I could finally free myself from those experiences for good.

Each post in which I shared a meaningful experience was a process and when I’d reach the point where I could re-read those posts and they no longer stirred up any emotions inside me, I knew that the purpose of my writing them had been fulfilled.

And so, I kept on writing. Sometimes, I might have over-shared but that is what it took to get me to where I am today.

Letting go of the things that had weighed heavily on me for so long that I couldn’t remember what it was like to live without their burden, was very unsettling at first. I kept grasping at something to carry in their place because I wasn’t used to their absence, yet.

At times, I felt so carefree, it startled me! I’d begin to worry about feeling that way because it was something that I didn’t recognize. It may sound nuts but there were times when I’d miss that sense of impending doom, that I’d grown accustomed to living with. However, I’ve moved past that. I no longer carry the burden of my past experiences and I am much better for it now.

When I deleted my old blog, I discovered something totally unexpected. I realized that just as writing about my experiences gave them the validation I needed in order to overcome them, by deleting the blog altogether, those experiences are gone for good, too. And the reason I’ve only sporadically written anything substantial on this new blog this last year and a half is because I am relishing in the healing that writing, and then deleting, my previous blog has brought me.

I am living proof that writing, and sharing, one’s story doesn’t only help us heal but may also help others along their healing journey, as well. It was through sharing my experiences that I found out that I had known Jesus all along even though I may have not known how to see him, yet. In retrospect, I was able to see that all along, God hadn’t forsaken me. He was there even when I least felt his presence-but definitely always when I most needed him because now I know that the Lord is always close to the broken-hearted.

I don’t go to church and I don’t preach the gospel but I see Jesus on a daily basis because I know exactly where to find him!

 

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I see him on my drive to work each morning in the gorgeous fields of pasture that I drive by, I see him in the sunset each evening. I see him in the faces of the people that I love, in their gestures, and in strangers that I encounter each day. I feel his presence in my desire to make the world a better place. I see him even in the most mundane things and it makes my heart swoon with gratitude for all the love that God shows us each moment of every day!

I’m still learning to live in the present, to really appreciate what is in front of me, and to embrace life one day at a time. But just because I may not see Jesus in the same way in which you do, or find him in the same places as you,  please don’t assume that I don’t already know him.

I see him and I recognize him everywhere around me and within me! And I hope that you know him too, but I am not here to tell you what he should look like for you. Instead, since Jesus said to love others as we love ourselves, I am working on that. I am being more gentle, more compassionate, and more patient, with myself because I want to love myself better. Only then, will I be able to love others better, too.

Jesus is the only way to the Father. So, isn’t it a good thing that he is wherever each one of us can find him? Because ultimately, whether we know Jesus-or not-doesn’t show in the way in which we judge those around us (and scrutinize their choices) but rather in the way in which we choose to love them unconditionally, just as Jesus loves us.


Where My Father’s Presence Should Be

My father was a broken man and ,disguised as alcoholism, the pain that he carried within spilled over onto everything and everyone that he encountered.

As absurd as it may seem, I can’t say that he battled alcoholism because I mostly saw him embrace it-almost as a part of who he was and with as much ease as one accepts the color of one’s skin.

Nothing and no one else seemed to matter more than alcohol did and it was the only thing that he remained faithful to until his very last day.

My demons and his must have understood each other well because I always sensed the hell that he carried inside of him. For some time, I attempted to ease his pain remaining by his side after he’d alienated everyone else that could have loved him-not knowing that loving him would be one of the hardest things I’d ever do.

I saw him in ways that no child should ever have to see her father and I witnessed things that no child should ever have to witness.

Inevitably, he got to the point where even I understood that helping him get better was too big of a task for me. But acknowledging that didn’t keep me from carrying the guilt of it well into my adult life, anyway.

Somewhere I read that most of the time, we battle our demons but sometimes we cuddle with them instead and on one cool September night my father cuddled with his and never woke up from his sleep again.

The last time that I saw him alive I was almost thirteen. The next time that I saw him, I was fifteen years old and he was in a coffin. The enormity of that moment took years to sink in and when it did, its effect gradually seeped through tainting every area of my life before I even knew what was happening.

When he died, I didn’t think all of the things I imagine someone would normally think; things like him not being around for my graduation or to walk my sisters and me down the aisle on our wedding day. I didn’t even think of him not ever knowing our children.

Hurting people hurt other people and my father had harmed others (including me) in unspeakable ways. Being aware of just how much pain he lived in and of how much of it he’d inflicted upon those around him, all I could think of was that he was no longer hurting and that he could no longer hurt anyone else ever again. I felt comforted by that…

But I was wrong to some extent because for a long time after my father ceased to exist, I lived in darkness, unaware that I was still living with the consequences of his suffering and with the burden of not having been able to ease his pain. So, it was almost as if he were still around.

Since his death, I’ve learned of things that he did that should make me hate him and they did. Until, I understood that making the things that he did about me was too much of a load to carry. My father’s pain was his own and now I understand that even the things that he subjected me to weren’t about me at all, they were a reflection of his own sorrow.

It wasn’t easy and it took years of doing my own suffering to reach acceptance that I had to learn to own my truth and draw a line where my father’s started so that I could stop confusing his truth with mine. I knew that if I didn’t do that, I would never be able to figure out why it was that I felt as broken as I did or how to stop feeling that way.

Eventually, I reached the understanding that to continue hating him would only guarantee a legacy of pain and suffering living on through me. So, I’ve forgiven him instead because forgiveness means peace and peace is something that I aim to live with!

And I am certain by now that neither his suffering nor the pain that he inflicted upon me were in vain at all because it was through them that I reached a darkness so deep that I finally understood that if I wanted to make it through and live, God was my only way out of it.

Truth be told, I never knew my father much, who he was behind the pain and the alcohol remains unknown to me. But even though in my life there will always be a void where his presence should be, in my heart that void has been filled with the Lord’s love for me and I am no longer lost in a constant struggle of not becoming who my father used to be.

Now I live with the purpose of becoming who I am supposed to be because I know that every heartache, every victory, every single experience that I go through is shaping me into exactly who God intends for me to become.

The Greatest Risk

This weekend I attended a relatives wedding and while everyone else’s attention was on the bouquet toss, I caught a glimpse of the flower girl in her own world as she put on the brides veil and twirled around and around in it. I tried to contain the urge to pull out my camera but when I saw that look of sheer joy on her face, I couldn’t help it.

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This is perhaps the greatest risk anyone of us would take: to be seen as we truly are.-Cinderella

Have a magical day, everyone.

❤ ,

Mari

The Little Things

Time seems to crawl when you’ve got a newborn-at least for me it did. I remember feeling so overwhelmed with all the things I didn’t know about babies that I felt impatient for them to reach the next stage because I hoped parenting would become easier as they grew. I realize now that not only was I wrong about that but also that because of it, I didn’t take nearly as much time as I should have to just enjoy them at each stage.

No one told me I’d ever want those moments back and it didn’t occur to me that there would come a time when I’d miss them.

I had major surgery from head trauma when I was almost three years old and I’m not sure if it was something I was told, or just an innate fear, but I’ve always been terrified that there will come a time when I’ll forget the smallest but most important things, things that I always want to remember; Things like my babies’ newborn soft skin, their wrinkly toes, their subtle breathing as I rocked them to sleep and even the sleepless nights with them.

Photography has always fascinated me and I suspect my love for it stems from my fear of forgetting those details. I used to shy away from capturing them because I didn’t understand the technicalities of photography but I’ve come to understand that a photograph doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, it’s what we capture and the feeling that it evokes that makes it so.

I was given the gift of witnessing this little one’s entrance into the world a week ago and it was the most raw and moving experience. It reminded me of the sacredness of motherhood and of the miracle of life.

Here’s the little guy at four days old, he’s perfect in every sense of the word.

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“Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life”.-Unknown

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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Baby Fever, Anyone?

My sister in law gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy a few days ago. She asked if I’d be willing to photograph her delivery and although I wasn’t sure I’d be able to hold it together enough to snap anything worthwhile, I reluctantly agreed to do so.

It was an exhilarating experience and I was stoked to realize I actually held it together pretty well and got some amazing shots-perhaps not in a technical way because I am not good at low light photography at all, but definitely in a meaningful way. I look at those images and I still feel elated by this tiny human that is loved so much already.

I wish I could share all the pictures but of course I won’t because I want to maintain their privacy but here is a sneak speak. He seriously is the sweetest thing ever!

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I hope you guys had a wonderful Independence Day!!

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Captured Forever

I’m really enjoying spending my days with my daughter and our dogs. A part of me wants to capture every single moment and hang on to it forever but I have to remind myself that I must also be present. So, I only allow myself to shoot a couple of shots each day and then I put my camera away so that I can enjoy this time away from the real world… It’s strange not setting an alarm each night or to dread Mondays but one could get used to this. 😉

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Photography is a way of feelings, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever…it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.-Aaron Siskind

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday,

Finding The Beautiful

Yesterday was my last day at work and I’m missing it already. So, to distract myself, I’ve been looking through old photographs I hadn’t had a chance to share and I found this one. He looks so calm and collected, it’s one of my favorite photographs from that day.

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I assure you, I am not put together at all. Nor am I broken. I am recovering, finding the beautiful in the ugly and stitching it into my life.-Rachel Wolchin

Have a wonderful day,

The Face of God

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And when she wanted to see the face of God, she didn’t look up and away; she looked into the eyes of the person sitting next to her. Which is harder. Better.-Glennon Doyle Melton

As I sat thinking of the Orlando victims and their families, I thought of Glennon’s words and their meaning, especially at a time like this…

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Our Lexi is one gorgeous girl.
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“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains un-awakened.” Anatole France

Enjoy your weekend!

Lazy Days

Anxiety has been getting the best of my these past few weeks and I’m lethargic. It’s difficult to explain the feeling of it, the muscle aches, the restlessness, and the constant fear of something suddenly going terribly wrong, when I appear just fine.

I need a break, and for the first time in my life, I’m voluntarily taking the summer off from work and the world.

My time at work is coming to an end and I’m looking forward to spending lazy summer days in the backyard and beach walks with my little one…

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“On your worst days do not look in the mirror and call yourself pretty. Call yourself trying, call yourself surviving, call yourself learning how to get through a day, a week, a month or year. Call yourself still learning.”-Meggie Royer

Have a wonderful rest of your day,