what if jesus weeps for stephen paddock too?

 
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oh las vegas. the deadliest mass shooting in modern america?

i am just so sorry.
we are just so sorry. for all those wounded, for all those so wrongly murdered. violence creates innumerable ripple effects of pain. to speak as if i understand the torment would be both naive & insensitive. i weep as i think about the sheer terror so many felt this morning when they woke up to discover their daughter, son, husband, wife, sister, brother, or friend was...gone. 

may god be near in the aftermath. 
it was never supposed to be like this.

oh stephen paddock. 
i am just so sorry. how long you must have lived in your own inner torment of despair. how long you must have believed you were worth nothing. that your life was worth nothing. that those 50 people's lives meant nothing. 

maybe your act of hatred was your ultimate manifestation of your self-hatred. maybe you just wanted america to hate you as much as you hated yourself. i am so sorry we didn't intersect you sooner & let you know just how loved & important you are. 

it stands true:
wounded people wound people. 
& today, it has never been more important for the followers of jesus to look—to hunt—for the lonely & hurting & let our hearts break as we co-suffer & pour out every once of love & value upon those who are suffering so deeply that they have even given up on themselves.

yes, wounded people wound people,
but if we claim to follow the Wounded Healer himself then are we not beckoned to be like him? are we not summoned to be interceptors of pain like him? isn't that what christ's life was ALL about?
"Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering" isaiah 53:4

if you are a follower of christ reading this...let me gently remind you (as i remind myself)...this is the very work we are called to—to entangle our hands & hearts with those who are barely hanging on. we are called to love the stephen paddocks. 

now is the time for christians to say "yes" to heartbreak. now is the time to allow our hearts to crack & burn for all the pain swirling around us in the world. i wish i could say this is the brave path i've been walking. but i confess: i have been camped out on the sidelines of the suffering world. i have been reveling in my own comfort & safety. because that is a luxury i have. but those scarred in las vegas? no, they don't get that luxury. & when i was a 16 year old reading a bible for the first time in my purple bedroom, my life was changed by this truth: jesus gave up ALL his luxuries for the sake of love. 

i am still young & i know little of profound grief but one thing i am sure of is: the lord weeps with me, with us. & if you happen to be one of the ones wrecked by this tragedy...the lord weeps with you. your loved ones blood CRIES out to god. i believe you have all the space in the universe to grieve, lament, & curse anything + everything. your pain is valid, deep, & incomprehensible. no words will ever be enough. 

"The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground." genesis 4:10

"Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that people feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends' eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying..

Jesus' whole life and mission involve accepting powerlessness and revealing in this powerlessness the limitlessness of God's love. Here we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there...

 In short: Who can take away suffering without entering it?”   Henri Nouwen

may we not ask: how could he do that?
may we beg: lord show us the stephen paddocks before it's too late. lord lead us to the weeping. lord teach us to make a home in the land of the suffering. 

when you head north & end up south

 
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sometimes life feels a little like getting on a sailboat headed towards the atlantic & ending up in the pacific. you thought you knew where you were going & why you were going there, but the wind had a different destination in mind all along. god just used the original location, the lure of the salt on your skin & wind in your sails to get you moving — to get you on the damn boat — to get you where you needed to be.

this month i traveled to canada to attend an absolutely lovely photography workshop. i had been following the women who hosted it for yearsss on instagram & in that time, they grew into two of my very favorite photographers. their images exude a calmness that feels palpable, providing a solace that seeps into your soul when you need it most. (see for yourself: gillian's websiteemilie's website) their art is unique, gentle, + inviting—which is exactly how they are as people too. it was a true honor to learn from them.

the final session of the day was on branding. we each were handed a sheet of questions about ourselves + our brand, prompting us to ask 'who we are & why we do what we do'. self reflection is a constant, familiar friend of mine (i normally thrive on this kind of soul-searching) & yet as i read the investigative questions...my spirit started to revolt in a peculiar way. my whole body tensed up & like a 10 year old rolling her eyes at her parent's gracious reminder to clean her messy room, my heart pouted "i just do nottttt want to freaking do this".

if my soul could be visualized in bodily form, it's arms were crossed in defiance & its feet, they were stomping in stubbornness.

i stared & stared at the blank paper & annoyingly...it glared back, waiting for my pen to grace its presence.

the question read "why did you start your company?" & after many minutes that felt like hours, a gentle thought fluttered into my mind like a monarch butterfly & whispered:

"to write".

i started my instagram, my blog, my "brand"...to write. to share a written, running log of my heart's deepest desire: to grow sweeter, freer & braver. to share what i am learning despite how ungraciously + unglamorously it looks. to share my wrestlings with god & the fight to believe that i belong, i am important & that i am radically loved + fully accepted.

it has always been about fumbling to believe & live this stuff out, & in the fumbling...
extend an invitation for you, 
to fumble with me.

so why did i stop writing? i think i got hurt. i think i got scared. i read some nasty blog comments that told me i was immature & naive. i had a few respected figures warn me that i felt too deeply & that i have a dark personality. i befriended my insecurities & resorted to my habit of wanting to be liked by everybody. (100% impossible if nobody's told you that yet).

i grew afraid of sharing my true self
& thus became paralyzed
because fear steals the oxygen out of the lungs of our dreams,
it suffocates our purpose in life,
& it taunts us with the lie that we are small & unimportant.

styling + photography surfaced as a more lucrative option with way less risk involved. i could be more calculated & curated this way. it's a safer route for me.  i've always had an innate understanding of what looks good & how to make things look pretty, including my often jacked-up life. now writing? that's a different story. for me, writing exposes the gunk that photos can cover up. writing spills out my shortcomings, mishaps, heart fractures, broken dreams & the pure reality that i have no idea what the heck i'm doing. like ever.

writing exposes me for who i really am:
a clumsy fumbler, just like you.
just like all of us.

the truth is, images have only ever been accessories to words for me. as i was about to board my flight back to the states, i called a friend (who often knows me better than i know myself) & began to ramble about all the tension i was feeling. my conversation with her, 5 minutes before that flight, was absolutely pivotal. she said something like:
"when things get complicated, make them simple."
& then a few days later shared a concept she'd been learning from Rilke,

"This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must", then build your life in accordance with this necessity."

so what must i do? there are a handful of things, sure. but one of them is undoubtedly: write. i must write. i love pictures & i so deeply revere + respect those who find deep fulfillment in telling stories through images...but i have a different task to primarily set my hands to & there is no shame in that. 

whatever it is you feel you must do,
just. start. doing. it.
even if you're scared, even if you wish you "were better at it", even if it's not financially profitable right now (or ever).
it may not make you money but i assure you it will make you come alive.

i don't think we need to wait any longer.
because to put it bluntly: we are dying a little bit every day. 

we are never gaining hours.
we are never getting younger.
every day, we are expiring.

these are our unpromised days.
& i'm really tired of living like tomorrow is guaranteed.
i just can't do it.
my life is disenchanting & stagnant when i'm living based upon the stupid lie that my time is limitless. 

so what i am not saying is: frantically do everything you wanna do, driven by the fear that you could die at any moment.

what i am saying is: peacefully & purposefully live with vision, fervor & thankfulness, because today is your unpromised, undeserved gift. today deserves to spill over with your giftings & dreams.

you woke up with breath in your lungs because you were meant to live another day.
today
is
your
miracle.

today you get to begin again & be exactly who you were dreamed up to be.

god brought me to a photography workshop to remind me i was made to write—made to invite people into deeper places. i think he's so cool for doing ironic stuff like this. he's the kind of captain whose ship i wanna be on—he understands the seas & the storms in a way i never could. he sees farther & deeper & he leads us into unlikely, uncharted places & yet, never lets us go alone.

he is surely the best friend i've ever known.

"Between He and I there’s grief and allegiance, tension and shelter. There’s quirks and affection, awkwardness and jokes.

He’s known me as long as anyone will ever know me. He was there drafting me up late into the night, designing my heart, penciling in my veins before birth. He's the one who will walk me home after death, who will be the first face in the ever.

I am kept.
Kept from before the beginning and after the end, that I know.
So I cannot be swallowed whole, marked for death or carried off in shackles.

I have always been seen,
always been held,
always been spoken over.

I have never known a morning where I’ve had to ask for Him or call out to see if He’s there. He has risen before I have and waited for me every morning I’ve been alive. We are the first and last of each other’s day.

We’re in this, Jesus and I.

So, in understanding the nature of who we are, we’ve both required transparency and trueness. It’s always been our deal, our covenant with each other. Decorum or propriety for its own sake isn’t in the room. I weep and we fight and I laugh and He cries. I throw all the weight of who I am into Him and that’s the only way I’ll ever do it.

That’s how we can be.
We both live and breathe in the desire to be fully known by the other.
There is no fear or hiding or pretending.

That’s how I can be myself, be with Him.
Because I know that I can be true.
That I can be fully known by my deepest friend."

- dani keeft

so i say to myself: welcome back to what your hands were always meant to do—write.
& i say to you: welcome back to a front row seat to all my fumbling. 
may we fumble together & uncover what we "must" do.

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DIY Outdoor Curtain Nook

 

Our house is a fairly small & cozy space, with a yard that matches the small category, but not the cozy one. Up until recently, our fenced in side yard became a catch-all area for stuff that didn't quite make it from the house to the garage, messy potting supplies, various shovels, & most unappealingly, our Great Dane's very great bowel movements ;) You get the picture. It was pretty dumpy, very disorganized, & overall not a place I wanted to spend any time in. 

After growing tired of not utilizing the space (however minimal it may be), I decided it was to time to spruce it up & add some coziness! After throwing around a bunch of different ideas in my head, I landed on maximizing the space & creating a homey, nook-like area with Blinds.com curtains, to have fires in the wintertime, or grill out in the summertime.

Scroll along to see how the project went down!

The curtains we used are Blinds.com Easy Rod Pocket Curtains in Raw Silk Crepe Lily (same ones we used in our living room curtain project, if you remember that project!). I love these curtains because they're a beautiful shade of white with a sheer texture that gives a very flow-y feel to them. After choosing the curtains, we purchased the rest of the materials at Home Depot, which included thick wire, a few hardware pieces to fasten the wire ends into loops, and eyelet hooks to install into the side of the house as well as two wooden posts we had put in awhile back. The key to this setup is to have four different anchor spots to hang the curtains from, & thus create the enclosed, nook area. Our particular space butts up to the side of our house so we used the house as 2 of the anchor points & previously installed posts as the other 2. This could look different depending on your space, for instance, a high enough fence would do the trick.

The first step of the project was measuring out the wires, creating the loops, and then drilling and installing the eyelet hooks and wires, as seen above! Once the anchors were in place, we added a hook to the corner of the wires, & then begun to string the curtain panels onto the wires. With thick wire, I recommend putting a small piece of duct tape on the end to protect your fingers as well as to assist in the wire sliding through the rod pocket without snagging the curtains. After the curtains were strung through, we looped the end of the wire & added a hook. 

Next up, hang those curtains! The final task was finishing touches. We chose to add some globe lights, a thrifted woven rug, chairs, & a fire pit of course. I truly love the final look & cozy feel. Our side-yard went from a hodgepodge storing area to a homey nook to relax in, thanks to some creativity & Blinds.com curtainsI'll be taking over the Blinds.com Instagram this week, so follow along to get a chance at winning a $100 gift card! Use the code abigailgreen to get 20% off your order until 2/28.

As always, thanks for reading. May this project inspire you to make the most out of your small spaces too.