Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photoshopping My Life


The other day I was looking at different friends’ photos on Facebook and realized that some of them had a fun, boldy-colored graininess to them. I decided to recreate that with some of my own photos. So, at 6:45 am, when I should have been doing other things, I opened up my Microsoft picture manager and went to work.
I tweaked, and torked; turned and twisted photos. I exaggerated brightness, while also manipulating darkness. I hyped up some blues and toned down some reds. I contrasted, cropped and cooked those photos until I thought I looked as hip the 22 year old on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Then I realized something…I was still ME! I can tweak those photos until the “witchy-poo” wart on my chin is erased (that’s certainly less expensive than my deductible to see the dermatologist)~but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. I can play with shadows and light to smooth out those fine lines that several seasons in the sun and many, many months of motherhood have bountifully blessed me with~but those lines are still there, waiting to be uncovered so they can reveal all my secrets.
Was I trying to photoshop my life? Was I trying to censor what I didn’t want others to see? Was I trying to become more like the World by altering what God intended me to be? You can argue that it’s all in fun, I would, for sure. But, what is the bottom line here? Am I thinking deep down in my core, in my heart of hearts, in the “always a little girl” part of me; do I think God’s artwork isn’t perfect?
Here’s the deal…God’s sense of beauty is constant…it’s unchanging. He’s not fickle like we are in the World. God doesn’t follow trends, and doesn’t look for the It girl or It boy. He made us in His image, and He is the ultimate artist. He knows how to match the colors because He created the colors. He knows just how to perfect the saturation of color on my face, and how to blend shadows and light.
So, if the Master Creator made me in my form, why am I photoshopping? The answer lies all around me. I am of the World, but my soul is NOT of this World. I am living in a society striving for beauty and perfection. I am being washed in waves of want each day; waves that crash upon my heart and break my beliefs into smithereens. “I just don’t look like her,” “I wish I had eyes like that,” “Why did God make me so short?” Daily I compare myself to others…and daily I question my dissatisfaction in me!
It’s this “of this world” feeling that requires me to, each day, live with a purposeful pattern of self-affirmation. Yes, the “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and Dog-gone~people like me” mantra of Stuart Smalley is really what God wants us to remember. After all, He is the shepherd who would chase after me if I strayed foolishly from the flock. He is the physician who would perform miracles; works of medical intervention if it meant ensuring my relationship with Him. He is my bridegroom preparing to receive me at the end of that white-carpeted aisle…
There’s a book written by James W. Moore titled If God has a Refridgerator, You Picture is on It. I can’t help but love that image. Don’t we stick all of our important, bragging-rights on our refridgerator? I imagine if I handed Him a photoshopped picture of myself God would say, “Get back from me, I never knew you…” But, if I come to Him as the innocent child He molded with His own hands…He will snatch up that photo and stick it on the fridge along with a gold star sticker that reads, “Well done”…

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Free Falling, Pulling the Chord, or Crashing...


I struggle...I never know if I'm a risk-taker, a wuss, or a wreck. And I'm so fickle, that I tend to switch between all three within seconds of each other. The only problem is, you can't change your mind that many times and make life work. There's a law of physics: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion...

This "change of mind" can cause quite a wretch to my soul and a disjointing jolt to my system. Since I have found myself in a free-fall from time to time, enjoying myself quite a bit in a leisurely, care-free, downward spiral (people often encourage me to "lighten up" "not take things so seriously" etc. etc.--and I'll admit to enjoying myself when I do...) when I take a look around during my free-fall and see the ground rushing at me, and the trees looming larger: I FREAK!!! Did I miss the mark? Am I still on target? Will I still be able to catch the prize? As I rip the chord and feel the yank of the parachute open--I feel my body seize with tension. Tammie, you lost your head! What were you thinking?

Let's look at a big weakness of mine. Shopping. It's definitely my addiction. When I walk into a store and smell it's intoxicating fragrance (that's usually in Abercrombie or The Buckle, when I hear the music thumping (usually a tune that I don't know, but makes me feel twenty-something again), and when I see the pretty new styles of the season...sultry new color combinations that raise my blood pressure, and flowing-fluttery fabrics that whisper of femininity and youth~ah...that really helps the serotonin release.

For a while, I was doing well at not buying just to buy. But, lately, I had lost some significant weight and things needed to be a little smaller. I had to go out shopping! Suddenly, I was out the door of the airplane, spread eagle, FREE-FALLING!!!!! Oh, the joy~the freedom~the beauty and majesty of it all...

But~whoa-nellie!!!! This is wrong! I was trying to find joy in things again. Somehow I was trying to fill an emptiness in my life, a hole in my heart with a pretty top, or delicate earrings, or fantastically-fitting jeans. What were those THINGS going to actually do for me?

QUICK~yank that chord!!! I pull the chord...I turn tail and run from the mall...but am I free??? Did I really just fix anything?

No...I am still falling, just at a more controlled speed. I am still missing whatever it was that I was seeking in those items. I am still not-complete~still not whole.

It looks like I'm going to crash. But here is where I can determine my final destination. I have already jerked myself senseless by defying gravity and pulling that chord, so I have to shake the blurriness from my mind. Okay...Tammie...think...where can you land that will be safe? How can you crash into something that will not mean death, dismemberment or damage?

I then see it...the ultimate place to land...

GRACE...

His grace is sufficient for me. It's the ultimate place to land. It will wash away my sin, my iniquities, my transgressions. His grace will comfort me and fill that emptiness inside me.

I will, no doubt, fall or jump out of a plane again. I will FREAK OUT! That is who I am. I will see my faults and pull the chord...and His grace will be there for my landing. What Wondrous Love is that???

Today in church we sang a song that has become a part of my soul~How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townsend~ "It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished; His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished."

This feels to me like a rambling piece of clumsy words...but I'm praying for it to communicate what God intends it to. I'm praying that those who need to read it, can and do. I'm praying that the next time you or I find ourselves in another rapid free fall, we remember that it WAS accomplished, that it IS finished, and that we ARE His treasure.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oh, Ye, of Little Faith


Welcome to Little Faith! This is the fastest growing state in the United States of America. Multitudes of people have moved to Little Faith in the past few decades, years, months. Let's talk to some of the residents to find out why they chose Little Faith as their new home.

Resident 1: I couldn't believe all that had gone on recently in the world! Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan...fighting, earthquakes, tsunamis...I just couldn't handle all the upheavals, disasters...I decided to just immerse myself in comforting town of Little Faith.

Resident 2: I was having trouble paying my mortgage; I could hardly keep the heat on during the winter...it felt like the cost of living was on the rise and my wages were shrinking! Little Faith gave me the chance to wallow in the cities of Fear and Doubt. I felt like I finally fit in!!!

Resident 3: I have lost so many people this past year. Cancer was a word I was hearing every day~either somebody had it, or somebody died from it. I was so sick of disease and death! I packed my bags and moved to Little Faith because I needed to get away~I couldn't handle the pressure. I now live in Sorrow, Little Faith! I am no longer alone!

Could this be the start of a brochure for a fast growing metropolitan suburb? Is Little Faith a place on a map, or a place in my heart? Do I trust that the maker of bread can provide bread for me and my family? Do I believe that the designer of the heavens can also clothe me? Matthew 6:30 Will he not much more clothe you, yea of little faith???

The waves of fear that follow the waves of the tsunami will never be strong enough to wash away the promises of the God...He promised that once and for all our sins would be washed away from blood of a lamb, not water from oceans and seas...If I can believe in that redeeming love, then I need not live in Little Faith~I belong in a palace, not a grave...

Reno

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