I’m a pastor’s kid, which means, I’ve been in church since before I was born. In fact, I can’t remember a time when God wasn’t a part of my life. I grew up with a great sense of His presence in my life. Knowing He was always there brought me peace and comfort. Naturally, when I was five, I made the decision to follow Him and have walked with Him since then. Growing up, I enjoyed being involved in the churches my Dad lead. Using my artistic talents, I loved working with the children and with the youth group as I grew older.
Although I talked openly about my faith, I did not read my Bible or spend time listening to God’s voice on a regular basis. I realize now that on the outside I projected a sense of being a strong Christian, but inwardly I remained spiritually immature. God, faith, and religion were all regular topics in my house but so were school, friends, and sports. I lived in a self-constructed bubble for most of my life. God was important to me, but I didn’t feel a real need to lean on Him.
All that changed in January of 2010 when my mother, my best friend, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. For the first time in my life, I came face to face with what I believed and didn’t believe about God. Although my mom had been sick for a while, cancer was the last thing we expected. The news isn’t easy at any age, but at age 24, it was devastating for me. I sobbed, begged, and demanded that God let her live.
In May, I received a call from my dad telling me to come to the hospital right away. Not long after my arrival, my brother and sister-in-law came into the room. Gathering around my mother’s bed, we gave her permission to die. We then said goodbye. As she took her last breath, I felt her presence leave this earth. She was dead, and so was my faith in God. I was angry, heartbroken, and disappointed with God. How could He do this to me? If He could raise people from the dead, why hadn’t He healed my mother? The next two weeks were a blur. A whirlwind of activity kept me busy planning her memorial and trying to figure out how I would ever move forward.
One night, after crying myself to sleep, I had a particularly vivid dream. I was in my bed, and the soft light of morning filtered through my window shade. I could hear music playing and someone downstairs in the kitchen. As I made my way downstairs, the aroma of bacon cooking reached my nose. Entering the kitchen, I stopped in the doorway. My heart filled with joy. Standing at the stove was my mother. “What are you doing here?” I blurted out.
She turned around while holding a sizzling pan of bacon and smiled, “I’m cooking bacon for your father.” Our eyes met and she added, “And I want you both to know that I am okay.” At that moment, I woke up. My heart was overwhelmed. I could feel my mother’s love for me. And once again I felt the Father’s presence bringing me peace and comfort. In that moment, I realized I needed to trust and believe in what God was doing in my life through my mother’s death. I knew that if I was going to get through this, I would need Him.
Simply trusting and listening to God does not mean my life immediately made sense. In fact, it has been a long journey of discovering who He is and who I am. I traveled down roads that I wish I hadn’t gone down in an attempt to heal myself. But God has used my grief and brokenness over my mother’s death to strengthen me in ways that surprise me even now.
My healing has come in stages. I wish God had healed me all at once, but He didn’t. I’ve learned to trust Him to lead me through the process of grieving. Recently, I have begun to seek Him more, and He met me at the Cross. He wrapped His arms around me and told me that He loved me. He said that 2014 was going to be a year of transformation and that He was going to make me into the woman I was always meant to be. He called me “Healer.” I don’t fully understand what that means yet. And I don’t fully understand my identity and destiny in the Kingdom of God. But God said that 2014 was going to be a year of transformation for me. And I trust and believe that it will be.
As a creative, I love to tell my story through images. Pictures remind me of the ongoing dialog I have with the Father. They are spiritual markers of my journey through this life with Him. Through these pictures, He has taught me to see the way He sees. Whether it is in the face of a baby, an old church, a breathtaking landscape, or the setting sun. I invite you to take a journey through my lens now by viewing my gallery below.