The real picture: contentment in chaos.

What do you have hidden just out of the frame? Outside the frame of your pictures. Outside the frame of your public life.
I will let you in on a not so secret "dirty little secret" of my life.
Outside the frame of this picture

The picture of flowers my husband brought...
Stacks of dirty dishes, and a floor covered in GMO cheerios and non organic strawberries from toddler rage. Outside the scope of the picture is the rough day and tears we had which inspired my husband to get the flowers.
Are they beautiful? Absolutely. But they are more beautiful BECAUSE of the surrounding chaos that i try to crop out. Not in spite of it.

So often I worry about how my life is percieved by others. How I am percieved by others. I worry about that more than I worry about how i am actually living my life.
Am I loving my husband?
Am I patient with the toddler who threw her cup on the floor for the 9 billionth time?
Do I use my time well?
Have I been a good friend?
Outside the frame of your public image who are you?
Do you find your contentment only when things are smooth, or are you content in chaos?
My goal has been to be content in chaos. To love the messiness of life that is over run by little people. To genuinely let people into the dark corners of my life. To allow everything to be brought to light. To grieve openly, to laugh freely.
But i have to fight the urge to "crop" my life. To edit out the crumb covered floor, and to sugar coat chronic pain as a "blessing." I fight the temptation to say that i feel "stronger" or "closer to God" because motherhood has been a beautiful experience. the reality is I feel closeer to God because life is chaos. Motherhood is chaos. Married life is chaos. And so was singleness. And college life. Life on earth is chaos. At least for me. The challenges God has allowed me mean that for the forseeable future...my life will have varying degrees of chaos.

Outside the frame of this selfie, well actually within the frame are signs of my brand of chaos. Walls I havent finished painting. Glasses I had to get because pregnancy altered ny eyesight. Hair just cut for maybe the third time in a year. A cute new shirt that probably wasnt in the budget...because my prepregnancy clothes are in boxes reminding me that I have a long way to go. Inside my head you can find ADHD and anxiety, cuss words,  and sometimes depression, faithlessness, along with basically any brand of sin you can imagine.

So hi, welcome to my life "unfiltered" and "uncropped"


September 11th, The day we all grew up.

This past Tuesday marked 11 years since September 11th ,2001. 11 years. That means I have lived as much of my life in a post 9/11 world as I did in my ignorance of such tragedy. One day at 11 years old I suddenly learned what terrorism was. I understood how it must have felt for Americans when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

 I realized that I was living history. I realized that I was scared, and that I was so small. I was truly aware for the first time that there were people in the world who were willing to die to keep me safe.

For me, and the millions of American children who sat in schools, and in homes, watching our futures change, this was the day we grew up.

We were no longer ignorant of the evil in the world. It could not be ignored.

 I think about 9/11 every time I look at a calender of the month of September. Every time I go through security in an airport, or a museum. Every time I watch an old movie with the skyline of New York. Signs for the Pentagon,  that used to be just road signs, remind me of that morning, and the dozens of mornings after. Each time I see a torn flag, or a building that is in ruins, my mind goes back to the never ending footage of Ground Zero.

I can never forget.

I don't ever want my children to have to know the way it felt to sit there and watch as our country was changed forever. But I don't ever want to forget. I do want them to know that there were untold thousands who died that day, and in the months that followed. I want them to know that firefighters, policemen, EMT's, soldiers, doctors, and everyday citizens who were not victims of the initial attacks who chose to serve, despite the risks. I want them to be proud of the way our nation stood together after the attack. I want them to make the choice to forgive those who harmed our nation, as I have. I want them to fully appreciate the freedoms that they have. I want them to be fully convinced that God was sovereign on that day, just as he is on the days of peace.

I never want to forget.


Renewing my mind

Its hard to move forward and progress
When the heart inside of you is such a mess
Zero motivation,
keep succumbing to temptation to delay,
while my idle hands become the devils play--
Things are never easy
But hard work makes me queazy.
I wanna do what will please me
But then that leaves me
Stuck in the same place
Tears stain my face
Reminded of a hundred disgraces
Feel I've fallen from his good graces
Feet pace, mind races and suddenly Gods hand traces his plan
And embraces fallen man
Called me, loved and kept me
So why do I think he would forget or neglect me?
Reject me, no simply correct me.
You see he died to protect me,
From His wrath
Saved by the atoning blood bath
Do the math,
Justice demands payment for sin
So you can just Imagine the depth of debt I was in
A perfect death after a holy life
Was what God required to make my account right
Right with God no right to sin
Must fight the evil that is within
So In anticipation of temptation I will pray in preparation
Guard my heart and guard my mind
God in front and God behind
Re-new your mind, remind
Because its love that sees
My flesh is blind
To my own sinfulness
Which got
Me in this mess
In the first place
Which Christ the erased
I know these are thoughts I've just repeated
But my SINS have been defeated, debt deleted.




noun \ˈjȯi\

a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :delightb : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
: a source or cause of delight

Joy. To most people it is a word, and a fairly common one at that. But to me, and my family, Joy is a name. While it was not her legal name, nothing else suited my Granny, "Joy" Craynon half as well. She was joyful, and she inspired joy.  Joy is not a superficial happiness you see in people whose lives are perfect, and so they have no reason to be unhappy. It isn't a "grin and bear it" attitude either. Joy stems from the knowledge that although circumstances are hard, and imperfect, there is something more to delight in. It was impossible not to feel like you were the most important thing in her world when you walked in the room. Her whole face would light up, and her eyes would sparkle, and immediately you would get dozens of hugs, kisses, and probably something to eat even if you didn't know you were hungry.  Her kitchen was one of the safest, happiest places in the world. Not because of the endless supply of good food, or even the familiarity of it, and its hundreds of chicken figurines, but because of her. I want to be that to someone. That immovable force to be reckoned with. The smile that understands, and cares. The grandmother who listens to children like they are adults, and knows the best cure for bruised feelings is a hug and a moment to sit on her lap. 
No one can be summed up in words, so here is a picture of her and my sister to show you exactly what I mean. 

I hope that one day I can show love as unconditionally, and be as truly joyful as my Granny. 


Mission before misters: a musing for my sisters

Funny how God can use something that you wrote months ago to help give perspective now. Thought I'd share again, in case someone else needs the reminder too.

He is NOT the right guy
if it isn't Gods time.
That's why I'm dropping lines
to tell messing around good bye.
Won't sit with a mountain of heartbreak and fears
And allow my cascading tears
to wash the joy from my single years.
So my someone while I wait for "you"
I have other things I have been called to.
Been commissioned to tell the world what is true
Image bearer, light bringer
Even if there's never a ring on my finger.
Yet despite my calling my wishes still linger
So I bury my dreams father, deep in your hand
It's where my future is, whatever you've planned.
I have always been kept by the only one who can
Created for purposes bigger then just finding a man.
He's making me more like my Jesus every moment
Not a copycat faith, this is mine. I own it.
I share in the greatest love story of all time,
but some how I am so focused on "when do I get mine?"
I look to the future without eternity in mind
His Love lets us see, sin is what's blind.
Why do I live like a relation ship will fix
A world that's as busted as a house made out of sticks?
tall dark and handsome
This Broken world can't ransom
Contentment does not lie
Deep within sparkling eyes
But in the warm embrace of a father
Who is always there if I'd just bother
To open up the pages
that I've kept shut for ages
But by not reading those commands
Am I no longer guilty, do I have clean hands?
Line after line point to one man for me
Jesus Christ who died as he hung on a tree.
Now I am not giving up on a family someday
But while I am waiting I can do more than just pray.
Fill my life with learning and serving,
Get my flickering faith back to burning.
I am so aware of every flaw in every guy I meet
But never one time facing the sin I should defeat
Because if he's the kind of guy that God has told me to accept
then I should be the type of girl that kind of guy respects
Struck anew by my constant need for Christ
With out him I won't even get contently waiting right.
Need his power to fulfill his own good plan
Need his strength, not a man,
to obey what he commands.


Purple is my favorite color...

I love purple. Not only because it is so pretty, but because it stands for something, and someone that I believe in. Purple is the color that symbolizes Cystic Fibrosis awareness. I know that in today's world, there are so many cure's being looked for, that it can be easy to just write this one off as one more cause that is great for someone else to support. But for me it is so much more than that. There are names, faces, not just of people, but of people I love. Why am I writing this now? Well for starters it is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness month. And next week I am participating in a fundraiser walk. But this post also coincides with my Mother's Day series. Yes, I know I got behind on those, and so this one is a little out of order.

But I want you to meet my motivation for this walk.
It seems weird to write this to you guys, so I am just going to write to her, and let you guys in on it =)

Lindsey, In the last year and a half I have seen you grow and change so much. From the moment I saw you hold your little girl, something about you was different. All the fears about what being a mom would be like seemed not to matter, and I guess I can understand why when I see Rylee's face. She is beautiful, and you are doing a beautiful job with her. Every hug, smile and laugh on her face is proof of your love and care for her. She is growing up in such a caring environment, and is so in love with her mommy! I love watching your little family as she grows.
In the last year you also changed in your view of life with Cystic Fibrosis. I saw your determination to fight CF grow, and it is still growing. I am so proud of the way you are committing to raise money, and awareness for research. But more than that, I am proud of your decisions to take care of you. Every time you do your therapies, even though you are tired, or it just doesn't seem worth it, you are keeping your promise to Rylee. I know it may seem backwards at times, but by doing what is best for you, you are doing the best for her too. Keep it up!
I love you so much Linds, and I am glad that I get to be your cousin, and even better your friend.

My cousins were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when they were 5 and 7 after years of battling "asthma". The diagnosis was a relief in some ways, because it was an answer to what was wrong. However simply knowing what you have is not a comfort when there is no cure.
For those of you who don't know what Cystic Fibrosis is, or how it effects peoples daily lives, here are a couple links where you can learn more, or ask me in person.

If you are interested in supporting our team this week by donating, we would really appreciate it. It sounds cheesy, but literally every dollar makes a difference. Here is the link. http://www.cff.org/Great_Strides/ColleenCraynon8044

Thanks for lending me your time =)


(grand) Mother's day

Part 2 in my Mothers day series

In honor of my mommy's birthday I would like you to meet HER mommy. Some years ago (*coughiwon'tsayhowmanycough*) today this wonderful woman welcomed my mommy into the world.

Nancy Lee Caufield Marshall.
For those of you that were lucky enough to have met her, I can pretty much stop there and you would still understand why I want to be like her. But not everyone had the privilege of meeting her, so I will let you know a few things about the wonderful woman who was my Mamma.
Born in 1925 in Pleasant View, Virginia, it comes as no surprise that my grandmother exemplified true southern charm. She had a gentle, quiet manner, and a "no-need-to-rush" outlook on life. While I am completely to opposite of "quiet", it is her peace that I admire so much. She was calm in the face of many difficult trials, including her husband's illness, and later her own. It was incredibly rare for her to be angry, even when grandchildren tested her patience, or it became hard for her to communicate. Not that it never happened, but I can probably count on my hands the number of times I heard her raise her voice at anyone in the almost 21 years that I knew her.
There was a grace and dignity about her, perhaps because she was a southern lady, or maybe because she was a true lady. It may seem like a silly, little girly, thing to say, but my grandmother was a real lady. She represents a lot of things that our generation rejects. Modesty, moderation, and femininity. And I hope that I can be like her.
Mamma wore dresses, makeup, and had long beautiful hair. She was never showy, or overdone. Nor did she dress the way she did because society pressed her to. She took pride in her appearance, and in being put together. She may not have been looking for a lot of attention, but I can't imagine her not turning every head when she walked in a room looking like this:

I can't talk about the kind of woman my grandmother was, without mentioning the kind of man she married. My grandparents may not have been the most emotionally expressive people, but they clearly loved each other very much. Yes, they did take on "traditional" or "archaic" roles in their marriage, which society may rebel against, but I say "why mess with success?" My grandfather was the main provider, making sure that he worked hard, and saved wisely to take care of my grandmother, and ensuring she was provided for even after he passed away. Mamma was a school teacher (hmm, maybe I will be like her!), but she also made their house a home. She was a phenomenal cook (yet another way I want to be like her), and when Grampa got sick she learned to cook new foods so he could eat them. They worked with each other, complementing each others strengths, supporting their weaknesses. Better together than apart.No, they did not have a perfect marriage, but that doesn't exist. They had a lasting marriage. Not just a marriage that they endured, but a marriage that worked. He drove her to the grocery store, and she laughed at his ridiculous jokes.With  46 years of marriage, to their credit, I can honestly say I want that.  I want to be like her. Patient, loving, feminine.

Thanks for stopping by, I am glad you got to "meet" my Mamma!

Next up is my other grand mother, so stop back soon!