a straight line

Take a look at where you are in your life right now.  Just stop and ponder for a few minutes.  What are you doing?  Where are you living?  Who are you around?  Now let's think ahead a little bit.  Let's think ahead five years and then ten years.  What does your life look like then?  What do you want it to look like?

If you see your life looking the same in five to ten years as it does now, then that's fine and dandy.  You probably don't need to read any farther.

But what if you see your life looking different?  What if you want it to look different in five to ten years?  Let's do a little more thinking then.

Pull out an imaginary map.  Or a timeline would be more fitting I suppose.  Maps are cool though, so pull out a map instead.  Find where you are right now on this map of your life.  See it?  Mark that spot as "Point A".  Now find where you want to be in five to ten years.  Did you find it or at least the general area?  Mark that spot as "Point B".

Congratulations!  You have found where you are and where you want to be!  So here's the big question:  How do you get from Point A to Point B?

Everyone knows that the fastest route from Point A to Point B is a straight line.  We can't always go in a straight line though.  Why?  Because there are setbacks, mistakes, times when we have to take a break, and times when we need to change direction a little.  Our picturesque straight line turns into a squiggly line that loops around, backs up, zig-zags, and makes unexpected right angle turns.  The paths we take and our destination might not be exactly what we envisioned, but we can still make it from Point A to Point B.

I'm in my early twenties and I see the people in my age group doing a lot of different things.  Some are married, some have their first child already, some are still in school, and some have just finished school and are starting their first "real" jobs.  For a long while I have been trying to figure out what direction I'm supposed to go in.

Growing up homeschooled down in Texas, I was surrounded by women who were wives and mothers.  They were remarkable.  They sacrificed their time, energy, and so much more to teach their children and take care of their families.  Most of them though did not have a job, career, or designated profession that they pursued.  This was not because they lacked the required talents and abilities though.  These women taught me so many things.  It was from them that I learned how to sew, how to write, how to dance, how to cook, how to be kind, and how to take care of others.  They didn't make thousands and thousands of dollars for teaching people these things, but they did positively influence the lives of many children which is a reward in itself.

Being a homeschooling wife and mother is not for the faint of heart.  It requires a lot of strength and dedication. I admire the women who can successfully accomplish that noble task.  I often wonder if I could carry on that legacy with my own future family and children.  Of course I want my children to have the best education possible, but if I can't provide them with it then I will find another way for it to happen.

Being a wife and mother; when is that supposed to happen?  Some people get married very young.  Others wait until they're almost in their thirties or even later.   I realize that it's different for everyone.  What I don't know is when it's supposed to happen for me.  I do want to have a husband and family someday.  I just don't know when in my life that is supposed to take place.

If you've stuck with me for this long, pull out the imaginary map of your life again.  I'll pull mine out too.  See, here's my Point A.  I know where I am right now.  I'm a twenty-something photographer in Illinois who still lives with her parents because she can't afford to move out yet.  What I don't know is what my Point B is.  I don't know where I want to be in five to ten years.  Do I want to be married?  Do I want to have a career?

Like I said before, I didn't grow up around women who had careers.  Instead they had families.  I do want a family someday, but can't I do other stuff too?

I'm a photographer, yes.  Or at least I'm trying to be one.  Things have been slow like I expected they would be my first year on my own.  Where do I see my photography going in five to ten years?  I don't want to just take pictures of weddings and high school seniors.  Yes, I do enjoy doing these things, but I want to do more.  I want to be in galleries and exhibits.  I want to go as far as I can and be as big as I can.  How am I going to get there?  I don't really know.  I'm starting by asking questions and doing research.

See my map?  Here is my Point A.  Let's look over here... How about this spot here?  Let's make this my Point B.  There, I've picked a Point B.  In five to ten years I want to take my photography career as high and as far as I can.  I don't know how close I'll get or how long it will take, but I know God will take me where I'm supposed to be.

Have you picked your Point B yet?


spring purging

Have you ever tidied up your "online world"?  I'm talking about a spring cleaning of sorts but instead of cleaning your house you clean up your Facebook, Twitter, the list of blogs you follow, etc.  I did this recently.
When you look at your Facebook profile and it says that you have "liked" over 300 different pages, do you ever stop and wonder exactly what those 300+ pages are and whether you really do like them in real life?  It took some time, but I sorted through everything I had "liked" on Facebook and cleaned out a good number of them.  The photography pages I added to the "favorites" on my own photography page so I could still keep track of them even though I disconnected them from my Facebook profile.  (I like that this also helps me separate my personal and professional lives.)  I went through the music and movie sections too and did some purging.
Back in the day before Facebook hooked up everything on your profile to specific pages, you could write things like this:
Activities - "I like singing, music, baking, working with kids, being creative, etc."
But then they went through and and connected the key words (like "baking" and "music") to actual pages you can go to on Facebook.  It kind of took away the personalized control you had of your Facebook profile.  After a few short bursts of cleaning over a couple days, the number of pages I "like" went from over 300 down to 200.  I enjoy a wide variety of movies, so I couldn't really clear much out of that category, but I still think I did pretty well.
I also went through the list of blogs I follow here on Blogger and over on Wordpress.  I kept the ones I actually read and deleted the others.  Did the same thing with e-mail.  I either unsubscribed or entirely deleted accounts on certain websites just to cut down on the junk e-mail flooding my inbox.
I have yet to tackle my Twitter account.
So why the online purging?  There's just so much stuff out there on the internet and you could spend days looking at it all trying to stay updated on everything that's going on.  Is half of it really that important though?  And the time you spend online, could it be better spent somewhere else?
The purging was an effort to cut down on my internet distractions.  I recently started using Instagram (Honestly, I was oblivious that it was an "iPhone only" thing until it was made available for Android too.) but am seriously considering deleting my account already.  It's just one more thing sucking up my time that I could be using for other things.
My love/hate relationship with social networking continues.  I have a Facebook page and Twitter for my photography and also run accounts for a church organization I am in.  (It was my idea to create the accounts for the church organization.)  But the recent rumors about Facebook making business pages pay to have their updates show up in their follower's newsfeeds has me wondering if it's really worth maintaining pages anymore.  Don't get me wrong, social networking can be a great way to distribute information.  Retailers and business professionals can reach their customers on their own level.  Churches and schools can connect in a public place.  Military families and friends can stay updated on how their loved one's first deployment is going.
Having all this readily available information buzzing around online can be a wonderful, helpful thing.  We just have to determine if what we're soaking up is really worth our time.



Certainty just is never constant, is it?
We become so sure.  We convince ourselves to either accept or dismiss something or someone.
And then it all changes and goes back to how it was.  Which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the situation.
Life changes a lot.  Things end up happening or not happening.
The only thing we can do is go with the flow and trust that God has a reason for whatever is going on.



Have you ever stubbornly held onto something because you didn't think there was anything else just as good out there, even though deep down inside you knew that wasn't true?  Maybe it's your chosen field of study in college, your current job, or your relationships.  You're afraid you won't find anything better so you cling to it and fight off all opposition.  But what happens when you finally let go?
My family, friends, and pretty much anyone who has followed this blog for a while is aware that I've had some not so great relationship experiences.  Sometimes poor decisions are made.  Sometimes things just don't work out.  Whatever the reason or the cause, things happened.  They're in the past and I've learned from them.
One thing I've learned is to look out for myself better and to not sell myself short.
A huge factor that plays into this is that I want to be with someone who is as active in and committed to their faith as I am.  Or at least as active and committed as I strive to be.  I know I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, and I won't find someone who is completely perfect either.  That's ok though.  We're all sinners and God forgives us.  But I'm starting to get off topic.
Active in and committed to their faith.  Yes.  And we have to have the same faith.  This is something I've always wanted, that I've always known is important.  But it wasn't until recently that I came to realize and verbalize, "I want to be with someone who is as active in and committed to their faith as I am.  Honestly, I don't really see that in you..."
Was that a bit harsh?  I'm not sure.  Was it the truth?  Yes.  Had I been stubbornly holding onto something that wasn't the best thing for me?  Yep.  I think stubbornness came with my red hair.
How do I feel now after letting go?  I feel good.  I feel calm and at peace.  Letting go has made room for whatever God has in store for me.  I just need to keep my stubbornness and impatience in check as I wait for His perfect timing.  (I think impatience came with my red hair too.)



Has something in the past ever made you afraid of what could happen in the future?
You suck it up, tough it out, and put on a layer of armor to keep yourself from getting hurt.
You can't admit that you're afraid though because that's a sign of weakness and someone could use it to their advantage.
Why does it have to be so difficult for us to put down our guard and let someone in?
Do you feel like you're fighting an uphill battle?
You doubt there is anyone patient enough who would understand and help you through your struggle.
And this doubt just makes you retreat farther into your armor.
There is still a little glimmer of hope though that maybe someday, somehow, you'll stop being afraid.
And that there really is someone who will be patient, understanding, and help you not be afraid anymore.


the calling

Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

"...yet not my will, but Yours be done."
Luke 22:42

Quite often, we as Christians turn to Bible verses like these for comfort when we are not in control of a situation or when things don't happen like we expect them to.  It is reassuring to know that God is in control and we are reminded that He knows what is best for us.  This applies to even the smallest things in our lives.
Twice this week (so far) my plans have went kaput.  An anticipated get together with friends on Sunday ended up not working out.  Today the rain has spoiled a scheduled photo shoot.  I don't know what else God has in mind for me this week, but I keep reminding myself to wait for His perfect timing.
In the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Call Day is one of those occasions when prospective vicars, pastors, and deaconesses remind themselves "Not my will, but Yours be done."  Those special Call Days are this week!  Today at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, seminary students are eagerly awaiting either their vicarage assignment or pastoral call while deaconesses anticipate their assigned internships or calls.  Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is also having their vicarage assignment and deaconess internship service today, while the pastoral calls will be given tomorrow and deaconess calls later this month.
Last year my brother-in-law received his vicarage assignment.  I excitedly watched the live streaming video of the service on the seminary's website since I wasn't able to be in Fort Wayne and was overjoyed when he was placed at a church close to home.  We've been able to visit him and my sister several times during their vicarage, which has been such a blessing.  Next year he will receive his pastoral call and the anticipation is already building.  :)
This year I personally know at least three people who will be receiving calls this week and I can't wait to see where God places them!
More than once I have considered what it would be like to be a pastor's wife.  I wonder if I'm cut out for that kind of life, if I have the right personality and qualities for it.  If I was a pastor's wife, then calls would be an even more personal and exciting experience.  Whether it be a call from the seminary to our first church or going from one church to another, it's a momentous, nerve-wracking occasion.  It's a time for prayer and a time to remind yourself "Not my will, but Yours be done."
As a pastor friend of mine told me regarding a current situation, "I'll be praying that things will develop according to God's perfect timing."  It was very calming for him to share those words with me.  Whether it's a set in stone date such as Call Day or we're anxiously waiting for a certain thing to happen, God's will and His perfect timing are the most comforting, reassuring things we can rely on in these situations.
Happy Call Day, everyone!  :)