It’s 1:15am and that’s not good. I need to sleep because I have two small children who run me ragged (in the BEST way!) and this is my only chance, but too much is on my mind and I have to write. I just journaled what I thought was 3-4 pages and counted a final 9 total..within just minutes, I wrote furiously and from my soul. I wrote like I did back in 1999, the last time I felt connected to something bigger than me and believed in God. It has been 16 years since I felt that way. That’s a long time.
I remember going on this church retreat and feeling like wow– this is IT. There is something bigger and I feel it! I believe in it! Finally, I connected like the deepest and most powerful soul shaking connection. That was the last time..16 years ago, that I felt that way.
When you throw up a wall for one heavy reason, and then you experience heavy after heavy after traumatic, you just start losing reality with what was on the other side to begin with. You build, and you build but forget what you starting putting that thing together for in the first place. What was on the other side has been missing from my life for so long, but some of the extremely dark days of my past showed me more of the devil than of any God and I wasn’t able to let him in. I argued with Mike that this is all about science, not God. I prided myself in all of the knowledge I had to prove it wrong.
I was so, so lost I looked up one day and thought– how did you get here? And I know how I did, I just wish I would have been able to let Him in instead of blame Him or not believe in Him because of the scary moments of my life. It started with not the best memories at home in high school growing up. I watched family members leave this world by their own choice, rocking my world and ruining my perspective on life. My distancing from religion really peaked when someone drugged my drink in college and I experienced a hell I can’t even put into words without having a mental breakdown. I will never forget the movie on the TV while I laid on the floor…I have publicly bawled just at the sight of it before. I have gotten sick from the memory of the night over and over. I am so afraid of men and I just can’t seem to shake it. I will never forget thinking how I trusted that person earlier in the evening. I still can hardly breathe writing this. I’m scared. I can HARDLY say the word, 13 years later after that happened. I have daughters now..and I just can’t. But that was the biggest moment that pushed me. Why would that happen to me? How can there be something so good and pure that’s supposed to protect me, or that was my definition of God then..how can he exist?
I know..things just got heavy..click here to lighten the mood!: Elliebell’s belly laugh 🙂
Years later..in a relationship with a person that too had their issues but had a really abusive way of emotionally toying with me because of their own insecurities. I love you! I don’t love you. Let’s go to the movies, I want to break up. Oh you want to break up? I want you back. Well WELCOME MIKE into this picture and all goes well..and even better, he gives me a reason to stop burying myself early and love life again. This man changed my life!!! And ANYONE who knows him loves him because he has the kindest heart! He’s not mean, he’s not sarcastic (pretty much my least favorite quality, I know I have a lot of sarcastic friends..y’all are okay I guess hahah!), he’s kind and real and loving. He puts me first, he’s the reason I’ve done what I have with my life and the reason these beautiful girls are here. But..he wasn’t enough to make me believe again. That had to be from within me.
Then Cammy was born..and my only thought in that 2 year period before Ellie was born was “there has to be something bigger, there has to be a Heaven because I HAVE to see her again some day” and then when Ellie was born…I KNEW there was a Heaven. I did. I just didn’t know about God, Jesus, etc again yet.
I think this is a good time for “Ow, my eye” – to lighten the mood again haha!
Turn the time forward to October. I was just going about my day, doing a little morning coffee and saying hi to the local photographers here around 10am and I get a blog comment notification on my phone from a non-existent email address, made up only for the purpose of writing something really harsh and staying anonymous. It actually managed to suck one entire potentially productive day from my life while I managed to look up recent emails and match all the same server info to someone I knew. They may have won that time from my life, but in their haste to bring me down..they gave me something INCREDIBLE that day when a beautiful lesson came from all of it! I emailed someone I loved and trusted more than anything and was told that sometimes these things happen… and they said to me” I think sometimes God allows those people into our worlds to remind us of how thankful we should be for all of those people that love and support us day in and day out.” They also said to me, “I think you have to share both your victories and your struggles to totally be relatable and you do that so well!” and that’s what I needed to be able to finally start to move past these experiences and reconnect with something HIGHER.
Would I have loved and appreciated Mike if it had not been for the bad experiences prior? I wouldn’t be married to him, wouldn’t have my daughters, my business, or being living in the Outer Banks. All of that kind of amazingness in one life?!! That has to be something greater than me!!! And then– we experienced Disney..and let me tell you. The timing was ON POINT. It was life changing and I am pretty sure we will all be in Heaven just like that together one day. It was the best week of my life besides their births. It was life changing and PERFECTLY timed and I believe it was for a reason!
I have a new and clear perspective — I feel so free, so fresh, I drove down beach road two days ago after Cammy’s ballet class and the warm sunshine was beating through the windows on a cold day, and I just started crying. I cry all the time, but it was a release. I knew it, I was given this beautiful new hometown for a fresh start and to start believing again. I know it will be a journey, but I am already remembering slowly where I left off 16 years ago. I know who I am, I know what kind of a heart I have and what kind of a live I strive for…and I feel like this new journey has the ability to enhance a life that I felt was at the max capacity of happiness possible. I can’t WAIT to start down this new road!! PLEASE let me be the first to admit I haven’t been the most perfect person at ALL over the past decade or so and I’ve been cold, mean, judgmental, lost but oh my gosh I was just so broken for so long. And hurting like hell from so many things. I can’t wait to love others with even more intention and see what kind of relationship I’m able to develop after so long apart from this religious connection. I have a feeling it will be even stronger and better than ever!
Like we talked about at the conference…THIS is a story of TRIUMPH. I’m not kidding when I say some days I didn’t know if I would make it through or not and I wasn’t concerned about whether I’d wake up the next morning. And now I’m raising two little girls that are going to change the WORLD with their incredibleness!!! I have the best husband, I live in my dream town and I have my DREAM JOB! My brides have changed my life, and my colleagues and mentor students mean the world to me..I will always be there for ALL of them! LIFE IS GOOD, and it’s safe to say God is good!!! So many people are going to be shocked at hearing me say that, haha, but I promise you – it comes from a place that existed years ago, and I’m so glad to have it back.
Thank you Katelyn James for being the light at the end of so many people’s tunnels, for being so much more than a mentor, wedding photographer, business inspiration..thank you for always taking time to be a friend when I need it the most. You are changing so many lives it’s unreal. You are really beautiful to so many of us, thank you!!!! I love you always!!! 🙂