Illuminate Week 4: Inspiration

Well, it took me far longer than 4 weeks. But I did accomplish the entire Illuminate course from Beryl Ayn Young photography. it’s been quite a journey, and a good one. I’m certainly looking forward to finding more ways to use photography in my life, to document the things that are important, to create through a difficult experience, and to create beautiful things for my home.

My final assignment was, as the other three, a challenge. My journal topic was “One Year From Today.” Here are some excerpts:

The disappointed, frustrated over-achieving goal-setter in me is flinching at this topic, shying away from imagining a year from now. My all-too-brief pregnancy came with many lessons, including that fact that one has so very little control over how one’s life comes out. I feel sick, honestly, remembering that in my foolish, pre-William youth, I had a goal of having a child before 30. I actually achieved that goal; William was born two months before my 30th birthday. The sick part is, he should have been born two months after I turned 30. Be careful what you wish for…

I find myself tempted to either dream too much or too little. While people around me are dreaming of starting new businesses, having another child, getting married, finally paying off college loans, starting ministries, landing the dream job – all of this feels too optimistic, too hopeful. So much of my battered heart feels that if I could live one whole year without tragedy striking, if for one whole year I could get out of bed every day with simple gratitude for being alive, if for one whole year I could simply, honestly and joyfully say “what e’er my God ordains is right,” that this would be success…

Can one really live with no hopes or dreams or goals? Because the “just be grateful” attitude says just that – quit wishing, quit hoping, just be grateful for what you have. Stop asking for so much. Stop asking. You have more than you deserve already.

So what do I want? I want to be a stay at home mom. I want four or five kids. I want to home school. I want to do ministry with baby loss families. I want to help troubled marriages. I want to counsel women in crisis pregnancy. I want to be a blogger. I want to support the work of nonprofits as a consultant. I want to teach music lessons and perform regularly. I want to write a novel, or three. I want space to breathe. I want a clean, organized house. I want to have an open door for dinner guests or overnight guests to always be welcomed. I want a home centered on the Word of God. I want a rock solid marriage that doesn’t tremble in the storms of life. I want to live a life of simplicity and gentleness. I want to be remembered not for the tragedies in my past, but in how I improved the future of others. 

But just this year? Which of these things can be accomplished in just one year? When my days feel short and my task-list long, when already I shirk many responsibilities to have a few hours to do something I enjoy. When my emotional reserves are always just about empty.

A dear friend recently encouraged me to have faith. She had just shared with me she was expecting. She was sensitive and thoughtful, intensely aware of the battle in my heart between bitterness and joy. She gave me a gift, a lovely metal bracelet, decorated with hearts and three words: love, hope and faith. My friend shared with me that the bracelet had been given to her when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, shortly after a fire in her apartment. She said “I like to keep the faith part on top – and I want you to know we’re walking in faith with you toward the future.” I’ve worn the bracelet every day since she gave it to me, the faith part on top. Faith that by this time next year I will have my own little one to snuggle, happy and healthy and perfect as all newborns should be. Faith that my marriage will begin to grow again, leaving behind months of passivity and deterioration during the travails of grief. Faith that sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes with the morning. 

My photography assignment was to find objects in my world that resembled letters of the one word that stuck out to me in my writing. If you haven’t guessed, my word is faith. I took a quiet afternoon out of town to visit a botanical garden. I’d never been before, but I thought it was an excellent place to find my letters. My time was refreshing, as I spent time exploring nature, enjoying peace and quiet, and reflecting on my future. Here are my letters:

F

A

I

T

H

Be blessed, friends!

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