10 on 10: Golden Gate Bridge and Sutro Baths (on film)

Each month, I take part in a 10 on 10 blog roll.  Photographers tell a story with ten photos all on one day on the tenth of the month.  This month, I shot with my Rolleicord at the Golden Gate Bridge and Sutro Baths using Kodak Ektar 100 film.

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Check out Alison’s 10 on 10: http://alisonbents.com/brand-new-tricycle-rosemount-family-photographer/

Thank you!

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Offering Hope

Last week, I wrote about dashed dreams (click here if you missed it.) Thank you for the positive response. I just finished my first round with a physical therapist. The journey to get to physical therapy wasn’t encouraging; I arrived at the office with little or no hope. I didn’t know what to expect. I had many questions, the first being when can I run again? Unfortunately, the doctor couldn’t give me a definitive answer. Dang it!

But as I met with my physical therapist, Michael, he asked me about my injury. I told him my dream to run 1,000 miles in a year. He told me I was CRAZY and I knew right then, we’d be fast friends. But what Michael said next touched me to the core.

“Let’s get you running again.”

I nearly burst into tears right there. You see, Michael took it upon himself to offer me hope, THE FIRST MEDICAL PERSON IN SEVEN MONTHS TO DO SO! In that moment, hope grabbed me.

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Look at that smile! How can you not be hopeful working with a smile like that?

Michael’s statement impacted me deeply.  Why? Because when most of my hope was gone, someone came alongside and offered hope. It healed a place in me that felt worthless. Up ’til that point, I honestly felt so alone.  When he said that statement, I felt encouraged;  seen, not-so -alone. I felt maybe, just maybe, I’ll run again.

Michael’s statement also challenged me. How can I do this for others? It meant the world to me and I haven’t forgotten his kindness. Can I come alongside others in the same way? Lord, let me be an injection of hope for those in need.

Michael, if you are reading this, thank you for offering me hope. 

1,000 miles

This year, I had a dream to run 1,000 miles. Yup, 1,000 miles in 2016 because this hashtag is my motto: #headingto50feelingnifty. Somewhere along mile ninety-seven, I injured my left hip. I don’t even know what the heck I did to it. The injury sidelined me, ended my dream, and put me in a perpetual bad mood.

Thus began the long, difficult road to recovery. I’ve been on this journey for nearly seven months now; numerous doctors’ visits, an X-ray, an MRI, and finally, physical therapy.

When I ran, I felt God’s pleasure. When I ran, I felt strong, free, and fantastic. Running brought me life.  Running gave me a new appreciation for my body; appreciation for what my body can do, instead of what it looks like. You can imagine how I felt when I had to stop running. I felt as if I had lost an old friend.

What do you do when a dream doesn’t come true? I’m asking a real question because I usually throw tantrums, beat myself up and wallow in self-pity. Oh, and eat my feelings. All productive activities, right?

In most blogs, this is where the author Suzy-Sunshine’s the situation and tells how they’ve overcome. Hate to break it to ya, I’m not that author. Physically, this year kicked my butt (literally and figuratively.) I don’t know if I will be able to run again or ever accomplish 1,000 miles in a year.  I certainly don’t feel I’m #headingto50feelingnifty. More like #headingto50feelingshiftyminustheF.

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I have to accept the fact that I may not be able to run again. I’m not there by any means. That’s okay. It’s a long, emotional process when there is the death of a dream and I’m right in the middle of it.

Every month, I blog with a group of women all writing about the same topic, dream. Click here to read my dear friend Susan’s post on persistent dreaming. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

What God begins, He finishes

I’ve begun the practice of Lectio Divina as I read through the Bible this year. Lectio Divina is Latin for “sacred reading.”  Essentially, it’s Bible meditation. I read aloud, meditate, ponder, notice and slowly pray through a small portion of Scripture. It’s been delightful thus far.

As I felt led to meditate on Genesis 2:1-3, I noticed something:

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work he had done in creation.

Finished. The word finished popped out at me. God finished His creation! Immediately, my mind went to another portion of Scripture that talks about something being finished. (John 19:30)

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and he gave up his spirit.

What was Jesus referring to? The redemption of man! Then, I remembered one other place where something is finished…(Revelation 21:6)

And he said to me, “It is done!” I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

When God begins something, He finishes it! God accomplished Creation and the redemption of man, through Jesus. We await the reclamation of His creation. This event will definitely happen one day because when God begins something, He sees it through to completion, no matter how long it takes.

I hope this truth encourages someone because it certainly encouraged me. God is trustworthy to complete what He has begun.

Edit: The Bible is a cohesive book, though written over 1,500 years by about forty authors writing in different locations. Sixty-six books but one fabulous message.

10 on 10: Manchester City Centre

Each month, I take part in a 10 on 10 blog roll.  Photographers tell a story with ten photos all on one day on the tenth of the month.  Here’s my offering in black and white from the wonderful city of Manchester, England:

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I’m blogging with incredibly talented photographers. Click here to see my wonderful friend Maite’s fantastic film images.

Thank you.

Learning to ‘walk’ again

This is written by an anonymous friend of mine who has walked through some difficult times while living in community.

 

Living in community is hard, especially when you have invisible illnesses that aren’t so widely recognised or even understood. It’s also hard when it takes you a few months to even realise that you are sick and need help.

Recovering from a heart breaking ordeal is hard enough. Let alone when a person feels crazy for still experiencing the pain daily. I thought I’d write about my experiences, just to stand with everyone who is going through similar things but unable to share about it. Also to raise awareness of traumatic events and the effect it has on daily life, which is present in every social group, including Christian communities.

What it’s like to have PTSD and depression while living full-time in a Christian community

-Countless times of being in a community meeting, when a trigger comes out of no where and I’m left uncontrollably sobbing, bordering on a panic attack, yet trying to stay discreet in order to not draw attention to myself

-Trying to hide staying awake for hours // crying myself to sleep, in order to not wake up roommates

-Seeing all the fun people are having outside, and via social media, yet knowing that I physically cannot bring myself to go socialise

-Walking around, and suddenly having a panic attack only to have me stumbling into the nearest room, in shock, and hoping no one will walk through

-Trusting less and less people in an environment which is built on trust and relationships

-Being so ashamed to admit that the pain is still as real as when the trauma first happened, and so feeling isolated though knowing deep down people would want to help

-Getting strange looks every time I randomly cry or withdraw, and henceforth increases the need to withdraw

-Yet also knowing (99%) of people have hearts of gold and would help if only they knew

-Rarely being alone and so when I am, alll the emotions come flooding out

-Missing meetings and being absent for a day because of therapy

-Being scared to sometimes even answer phone calls

-Not leaving the base alone for months because of anxiety

-The sudden dissociation that happens midway through laughing with friends, because of a flashback

-The guilty cynicism that plagues my mind daily

-Having 0 self-worth whilst trying to build up other’s confidence

-Constant quiet times, prayer times, worship times; only sometimes there is breakthrough

-Being ashamed when told I should go onto medication, but also feeling like I have no other choice

-Being called an introvert and shy when really your mind is battling life/death

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…. And then finally somewhat accepting that my life is changed, how I live may need to be different for a while; It’s like losing a limb and learning to walk again. Truthfully it sucks because trauma is unfair and the repercussions are unfair and so anger is real. It’s hard to be surrounded by the most joyful people, and try to strive for that same happiness though it’s totally not there. I guess joy is more than happiness though, it’s a deep knowing of God’s love. Through this I’ve learned when I’ll probably be triggered. I know what friends to include in my darkest days. I pray knowing that the grace of Christ covers my illnesses and all I’m called to do is trust and love.


What keeps me going:

Is the deep peace, and knowing I have in my heart

That the pain sucks and feels continuous

But God is with me in the pit

Though not everyone around me knows whats going on

God knows and He gently is healing me, slowly but surely

And as I am diagnosed, knowing that I have mental disorders I will battle, I have peace because in the midst of the darkness is the light of Jesus Christ; that there is nothing that I can or cannot do to separate me from his love. Nothing from heaven above or hell below, no illness or disease, nothing can separate from the love of God. Slowly but surely God’s grace allows me to tell people my story, and time after time I’m received with love. Each telling of my story gets easier. I learn to love in the midst of feeling utterly shit and worthless. Seeing someone else’s smile gives strength to keep going. Days are so unpredictable; slowly I am getting better but I’ve learned to not become too discouraged by bad days, as they are expected.

 

Love the people around you. Those who seem distant and withdrawn may be like that because there is a war going on in their minds. Don’t judge them and withdraw from them. Ask them in a safe place how they are. Don’t think that just because people are in a Christian mission organisation they don’t still carry sorrow. Do pray with them, help them, cry with them and process with them. Ask them what their triggers are so they can be sensitive around you. Don’t force them to open up details. Don’t tell them to fast more, or to have more faith. Sometimes illnesses will never be healed, but that doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have enough faith. Trauma’s may never completely leave the mind; That is no reflection of a person’s relationship with Christ. Come against depression, anxiety, illnesses with a heart to serve and love. A person doesn’t want to be going through the hell they are, and they already will feel like a burden to everyone else. Don’t contribute to the war zone in their mind. Be Jesus to them, be the love.

 

If you think you have a mental illness, or are not doing ok, don’t be ashamed. You’re not crazy. I implore you to please go to the Doctors and get help. Talk to a trusted friend or leader. Go see a therapist. Don’t make light of your mental health. Buying clothes and other things are all relative when compared to mental health; that is something that will be with you for the rest of your life. Take care of your mind first. Sometimes in order to love others you have to spend some time loving yourself first, in order to come to others from a healthy place. I can say that after 1.5 years of therapy and medication, I can see the light.

 

All of my love, I am standing with you.

Enjoying the Mundane

A friend gifted me a book called The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris. Immediately, I sensed the book had something for me. While in England, I decided to practice one afternoon as my mother-in-love asked me to cut back a beautiful Buddleia bush.  I allowed my mind to wander. I engaged my senses. I explored the act of contemplation during a seemingly mundane chore. Here are my thoughts, photos and a few quotes from the book:

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The Buddleia scent sweet, bees dancing busily, breeze blowing warmly on my skin, children giggling playfully in the next yard. –my journal

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Dead cuttings beautiful in their repose. -my journal

“I admit that I generally lose sight of the fact that God is inviting me to play.” -Kathleen Norris

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Laundry sunning itself on the line, sunflowers towering, cabbage whites flitting about, cleverly avoiding the lens. -my journal

“I have come to believe that the true mystics of the quotidian are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self. – Kathleen Norris

In the end, the question my heart and soul asked: “Do I enjoy my Creator?” The answer is the true contemplative act, whatever task it is. So I will pose the question to you, dear reader. Do you enjoy your Creator?

The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. -Westminster Shorter Catechism