devotional

Blink

~This post was written in pieces over the past few days.  It was really emotional for me, and I could not do it all at once.  The Lord beckoned me back to it until it was finished, and I am so glad He did…it was good for my soul to be near Him in these moments…thank you, Lord.

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a woman who is a photographer, and she wanted to let me know that she had decided to do an “auction” in honor of Audrey. The top bidder would receive a session with her.  I was so honored, and I immediately went to her website to check out her work. I have a life-long love for photography, and I am a little bit (ok, a lot) picky about what I like.  Well, let me say this.  I loved her work. I sat for at least a half an hour, oohing and aahing at each shot, just to jump to the next and start it all over again.  I decided that my favorite was a beautiful image of a little girl blowing a dandelion, and you can see all of the little fuzzies as they float away from her.  That’s it, I thought.  She captured life.  More on this a little later…

I have a Bible Study on Tuesday mornings with an amazing woman of God (Ms. Nancy Dunn at Forest Hills Baptist Church here in Nashville…9:30 a.m. if you are local and want to join us!). Every time I am there, in the presence of other women of God, I come away refreshed and encouraged, and yesterday was no exception.  On the way out of church, Kate had run into the grass by the car while Abby and Ellie were buckling themselves in, and I turned to Kate and told her to run to me and I would pick her up.  Her eyes lit up and she took off full-force toward my open arms.  I lifted her way above my head and kissed her sweet cheeks on the way down. As I put her into her car seat, Ellie said to me,

“Know what, mommy? I really wish I had a camera, because that was a beautiful picture you just made.”
It caught me off guard, because I didn’t even realize she could see me from where she was sitting.  
“You think so, honey? Well let’s just blink our eyes and keep that one in our heads, then.”  
I smiled at my 3 sweet daughters, and then Ellie and I looked at each other and blinked our eyes…another moment captured and held as a precious memory.
On the way home, I was thinking about what she said and I realized that I see the world in photographs.  I love to take pictures, and I suppose my mind has incorporated a little camera that allows me to freeze moments and store them away.  Last week I was driving to the pool, and to get there I have to pass under these amazing trees that make a canopy over the road, only allowing bits and pieces of light to pass through.  It was beautiful. 
Blink.
I thought about the way it was when I saw Audrey for the first time, red hair and those sweet rosebud lips.  No crying, but there was breath in her, there was life to be lived… I am so glad to meet you, sweet girl…stay with me for awhile…
Blink.
After a hard day of school as a teenager, my dad took me out in his old-fashioned convertible to talk and make sure I was okay.  We drove to this field in the middle of nowhere that he had found a few weeks earlier.  It was amazing, because as soon as the lights went off in the car, what seemed like millions of fireflies danced around us.  I was completely mesmerized, and as the hot September night soaked into our skin, we watched them light up the night, and I felt like God spoke to me.  It is one of the earliest recollections I have of feeling His presence, and to this day, whenever I see fireflies, I remember the way the old leather seats smelled when my father loved me enough to show me that life is beautiful even when it hurts.
Blink.
Me, in a veil I had dreamed of wearing my entire life, and a church full of people who were celebrating the way we loved each other.  I was so nervous because I was sure I would trip and fall, but then the huge wooden doors swung open and I saw him, and I wanted to run to the end of the aisle.
Blink.
“It is very possible that your daughters will not survive. Now is the time to start praying.”
Blink.
“4 pounds, 11 ounces, and the other is 3 pounds, 11 ounces! They are here and they are healthy!”
Blink.
Kate recites her Bible verse from yesterday (A soft answer turns away wrath…thank you, Ms. Nancy’s class ladies!!!) as “A soft answer turns away the rats.” I spit my coke out all over the car and tell her she is brilliant and that I love her for being exactly who she is. This morning, she was acting up and using a less than desirable tone with her sister, and I asked her if she remembered the scripture I had taught her yesterday.  She nodded yes.  I asked her to say it to me.  She replied, “I think the Bible says I am going to time out.” This time it was coffee.
Blink.
Abby, in the backseat of the car, eyes closed and hands in the air, worshiping with the music as she has seen me do a thousand times before. 
Blink.
“Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief…
Blink.
Todd surprises me at our wedding with a song he wrote for me.  It is called “After the Rain,” (seriously) and it tells the story of how he knew he was supposed to marry me one day when he prayed during a thunderstorm, and moments later it just stopped with no warning.  
Blink.
My brother-in-law Greg calls, and tells me he went to play golf.  He says he cried on the way home because he realized he will never play golf with his son Luke.  I never mention the conversation to anyone, but the next day, Ellie draws a picture of Audrey and Luke.  She says they are playing in heaven.  I look closer and see something I have never seen her draw (because as far as I know, she has never heard of the game), and I ask her what they are playing. “Golf.” she says, and skips out of the room…
Blink.
These moments, and millions of others, engraved in the beautiful book I am making in my head.  As I drove home, the Lord spoke to me, and I want to share with you what He said, because it is not an exaggeration to say that I believe it has changed my life.
Angie, sweet daughter of mine.  You know, I do the same with you…every day, every hour, every moment. .. 

Blink.

I was speechless as my spirit understood what He was saying to me.  Not necessarily in words, audibly, but it was as if I knew something profound I had never known before, and I knew God had imparted it to me. 
I have choices, every second of the day, to serve my Lord.  To honor Him with my speech and with my thoughts, with the way I love those around me and the way I worship Him. Every moment, there is another opportunity, and I want to use as many of them as He will allow. In fact, Scripture tells me that one day I will stand before Him, and I will (symbolically) hand the King of all Kings a tattered scrapbook of my days.  It is up to me to decide what the pages will reveal.
I was washing the dishes last night and thinking about what the Lord had said to me, and I heard the girls fighting. I raised my voice more than I meant to, and I thought to myself, “Wow. I don’t look like myself in that one. Let me try that again.” I apologized to them for my tone and let my hands drift into the hot water.  Now that one felt better for me too, Lord.  
There are many, many pages I want to rip up and hide…maybe you do too. But that shouldn’t consume me.  Rather, I want to focus on the beauty of this gift that the Lord has given.
It is the gift of this breath, this moment, this photograph.  My offering, captured.
We need not dwell on the things we wish we had done differently, nor should we even give too much thought to what the future will look like.  We need not worry about the pages, but rather this very simple fact.
I have this moment. Right now. And I want to make it good.
I am sitting cross-legged in an old chair, pouring out my heart to you, because above every other thing I can think of, I want these words to be a beautiful photograph for the Lord I love.
Blink.
In a few minutes, I will go find my children their dresses and we will go to a cook-out with friends.  As I snap their sandals and brush their hair, I will tell them how I love them and how grateful I am to be their mommy.
Blink.
Todd just came in to tell me about something he is reading and I nodded absent-mindedly as my thoughts drifted everywhere but his voice.  No, I thought, I don’t want it to look like that. I want to love deeply, and have him know that I care about what he cares about.  I want to show him that I am here to listen, and that he matters to me. 
Blink.
I met a woman who does not know about Jesus. She is broken, bruised, hurt, alone.  I want to show her the way He loves her, to inspire her to let me into the places she runs from. I want to make His name known. I want my life to be lifted up to Him, offered to Him, spilled out for Him…
Blink.
“She is gone…”
Blink.
A crown of thorns, piercing his sweat-drenched brow…oh, my sweet Savior…
Blink.
You refused the bitter wine but drank deep of the cup that would not pass. 
Blink. 
I see you there, Lord, and I will not turn from You.  Not in my joy, not in my agony, not ever. Not ever. I will remember the scars, and the gracious Love that the world could not believe…
Blink.
Oh, my Jesus…speak to us through your Word…
…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you…Philippians 4:8-9

I have always loved this verse, and I have been meditating on it for the past few days.  I hope you are blessed and encouraged by it tonight…
As for the photographer I mentioned? Her name is Amy, and her business is called “Images of Grace.” (And no, I don’t think that’s a coincidence:)
I came home from church on Sunday (after the message on Providence), and was trying to trust God with my fears.  I opened my email and saw a message from Amy, saying that the bidding had ended.  I cried and cried when I saw the amount, because it answered an unspoken prayer request that Todd and I have had for weeks (almost to the dollar!).  Thank you, Rachel.  You were most certainly used by the Holy Spirit, and I am still speechless, because it was a confirmation of something I have known for years, but love to be reminded of…
I’m still here, Angie.  Tucked away behind this trusty old camera.  Now remember, you have this moment, child… That’s it, turn your head a little more toward me…Do you trust me? A little more toward me…there…perfect…

Blink.
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