7 Billion Ones {photography/storytelling project}

In the latter part of 2015, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting photographer Randy Bacon, and his sweet wife, Shannon.  They invited me to be a part of their amazing movement/project/mission called “7 Billion Ones”.  Their goal is to excite others in believing that “Your Story Matters”, and to instill inspiration through images and words.

I am not a person who takes a ton of selfies, and I certainly don’t like to have my picture taken, but the purpose and validation through this cause was well worth stepping in front of the lens.  My purpose for being in it was this:  to share my story so that others in similar circumstances can be inspired to never give up.

Even if I only have an audience of one, but that one person is moved to encouragement by my story, then it is well worth it.  We never know how sharing ourselves with others can directly impact lives.

You can check out my story by clicking the link below.  Spend some time exploring all of the stories on the 7 Billion Ones website.  I promise you will find a great deal of inspiration from the multitude of others who have stood in front of the camera and told their stories.

7 Billion Ones Story

And, dear friends, keep telling your own stories.  Our lives, full of characters, drama, sadness, and joy, are what makes this big ‘ole world go round.  You never know how your story will affect others; even if it is only an audience of one.

Blessings,

Caroline

When Life Tosses Us Around {my dream last night}

I had a dream last night where I was driving in a van alongside a cliff, and suddenly lost control, rolled down the side of the mountain, hitting trees along the way, and screaming, “Jesus!  God!  Father!  Keep me safe.  Help me.  Give me a soft landing!”  As the van slid to a stop in a soft muddy pile, I was alive, barely bruised, and so incredibly thankful.  I told someone that I called out to God to save me and give me a soft landing, and He did just that.

I woke up from the dream, felt my body just to make sure it was there, looked at my husband, and wiped a slight tear away.  In the quiet aftermath of a loud dream, I soaked in what it meant, and silently praised the Lord for it.  And then it hit me.  The dream was so incredibly metaphoric of life.

We drive along, going about our usual way, when “BAM” the road gives way and we are just falling endlessly towards chaotic uncertainty.  Bouncing violently through traumatic and difficult times, it is often uncertain where we will land.  Our bodies scream out in pain, our minds are filled with terror, and our hearts anxiously await for the Lord to grab hold of us and softly place us back down on solid ground.

I thought about this dream all day.  Ever since early childhood, I have always had very visual and sensory-filled dreams.  Often, my dreams seem somewhat of the spiritual nature, or at least, a lesson of faith is learned from them.  Some have been incredibly calming, while others have called into question where my faith really stands.  Either way, I view them as a gift.  This particular dream reminded me that, similar to the battered van, our bodies, minds, and hearts can get torn by what life throws at us.  However, when life tosses us around, the Lord is capable of soothing our souls, carrying us through the storms, and giving us a soft landing.

Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you.

Psalm 3:4 -I cried aloud to the LORD,  and he answered me from his holy hill.  Selah

Psalm 34:17-  When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 50:15- …call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

 

Things I’d Like to see End in 2016

With the start of the New Year, I’m already seeing posts/memes/etc about what trends or things that need to end in 2016 such as the man bun, and the word “bae”. Honestly, I can think of more important things that I’d like to see end in 2016:

homelessness
domestic violence
terror
the orphan crisis (millions, literally)
physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse of children
meth addiction
broken homes
loneliness
prejudice
hatred
hunger
fatherless families
motherless families
cancer
random acts of violence
suicide
heroin usage
alcoholism
greed
poverty
hopelessness
spiritual depravity

So, yeah. I’m totally okay with the man bun, and the use of the word “bae”.

Happy New Year {Hey, Moms. Let’s not judge.}

On the eve of 2015, we sat around our dinner table and each took turns creating goals for ourselves, and for our family- well, except for our little one.  He’s a bit too young to determine goals.  For him, the goal for 2015 might have been to eat more candy, and I’m pretty sure he did just that (aka: parent fail).  Anyway, after deciding what we should work on for 2015, I sealed up the slip of paper in an envelope titled, “Family Goals 2015” and stuck it on the refrigerator.  There it stayed for the last year – no one thought about it, looked at it, or even wondered about it.

Tonight, I exclaimed, “Time to open our Family Goals envelope!”, and the kids came running like a herd of cattle at hay-time.  Most likely, they did not remember what their goals were, but boy, they were certainly interested in learning if they accomplished them.

Opening up the envelope, I read out loud what each goal was.  As I went through each one, I noticed the look on everyone’s faces.  Yeah.  Can we say “EPIC FAIL”?  True to our nature, we gave an awesome “E” for effort, set new goals for 2016, and sealed them back up to be stuck to the refrigerator for this new year.  My husband and I did acknowledge to our children that “At least you recognized that you partially met some of them, and were honest about not meeting the others.  That’s important.”  Right?  RIGHT…wink, wink.20160101_193456

And then it hit me.  I might have just completely failed as a mother this past year.  My thought, “If I was doing my job as a mother, I would have encouraged them all to accomplish their goals.”  For goodness sake, I would have accomplished my own.  Sure.  I met one (sort of) literally within the last two hours of 2015, but the rest of them…forget it.  I completely failed.  To give an example, one of my goals was to count to ten when I am angry.  Again, EPIC FAIL.

As the kids ran out of the room just as quickly as they rushed in, I had another thought.  “Where are we as a society that chooses to define motherhood by “if you do this, or do that, or be this, or be that, or breastfeed, or not breastfeed, or home school, or not home school, or only eat organic, or not eat organic, or do all of those cool things on Pinterest, or completely abandon all social media, or yell, or not yell, or stay home full time, or are employed outside of the home, or send to private school, or send to public school….or whatever….then you are a good mother”?  I mean, come on.  No pressure, right?  And, do any of these things truly define motherhood?

comparison

After working in child welfare for many years, I can assure you that if you are clothing, feeding, protecting, providing an education, and waking up each day with the determination to show love to your children, then you are doing a good job.  If you recognize your faults, have failures and successes, and embrace your children with a twinge of hope, then you are exemplifying all that motherhood brings.

The truth is that none of us are perfect in this journey.  We make goals, we fail at them.  We set boundaries, we allow them to be broken.  We say, “If you do that one more time…”, and then we don’t always follow through.  I am pretty sure our mothers went through the same things.  I often get a little bothered when I hear people talking about parenthood these days, and how all of today’s children are just “spoiled”, “not goal oriented”, or whatever label is put on them.  I suspect the same things might have been said about every generation of children (even us, gasp…no way).  Parenting is hard enough as it is – let alone having to judge ourselves against the often misrepresented images of motherhood that we see on any given day.

As part of the family tradition, I did set two goals for 2016, and I am going to do my best to work on them.  However, if I fail, or if my family fails at accomplishing their goals, then so be it.  It doesn’t change anything.  The very fact that we are setting goals, having a discussion about them, and admitting a few areas we need to work on is just fine with me.

Hey, Moms.  I’m speaking to you.  Let’s not judge.  In this new year, perhaps we should all set a collective goal to not define mothering by what we think society wants.  Let’s stop judging each other by the standards of what we think is the “best”.  Let’s recognize that it takes all types of mothers to parent all types of children, and let’s be okay with that.  Let’s be true to ourselves.  Let’s be who we are; the junk, the goodness, the failures, the successes.

Let’s just be Moms who deeply love our children, who protect them, who whisper messages of hope, who discipline, who steer in better directions, and who wake up each day embracing our children with the hope of a better day; regardless of what others think.

From my heart to yours, Happy New Year.  May this year be filled with lots of laughter – at the mistakes, at the successes, and at ourselves.