Faithfully thinking: I may not think, speak or do things like you but God can still use me

“To be honest, I don’t know why I even write anymore,” I thought to myself one morning. “I don’t know much about anything and I’m full of very little wisdom. I’m a mom and a wife and I take photos for myself and that’s about it. I’ve never written a book, I don’t have a thriving business and last school year I was called a bad parent and it makes me try too hard at this blasted homeschooling thing.”

Cleaning the house? Don’t get me started. Actually, if you did get me started I would be completely overwhelmed and would end up in a fetal position crying and still nothing would get cleaned.

Cooking? I try my best but I often find myself imagining that cardboard with salt would taste better than my dinners.

Parenting? Last week my daughter bit her brother in the shoulder because he was sitting in the chair she wanted and my son is addicted to Minecraft. I have a huge “Fear of Missing Out ” (FOMO) problem but it’s mainly focused on my children because I already know I’m missing out and I’m so tired every single day of my life I don’t even care.

In other words, I’m a mess, or so I feel most days.

My one comfort is knowing I’m not alone, that I may be a train wreck but somewhere in this world there is another mom in another house feeling as inadequate as me.


And despite how we feel, the truth is we are loved, we are worthy and we can be used by God even when others have written us off. I express doubts often and recently, after three weeks of trials stacked one on top of another on top of our family, I tossed out a few words of doubt on Facebook about whether or not God even cares for us.

I received an admonishment from a fellow Christian who told me: “Repent of your thinking” because nothing comforts a person dealing with trials by telling them they’re falling short in their Christian walk.

Those scolding comments are something that tends to make me pause and decide I’m not worthy to talk about faith or Christ, wonder why I even thought I should, and lead me to withdrawal within myself and vow to keep my inferior opinions to myself. The truth is, though, we are all on our own journey and on that journey we are going to stumble more than once.

DSC_5409Maybe God can use me even if I have doubts and I express them and I say things that don’t fit your idea of what a “good Christian girl” should say or should be. Maybe I show my weak moments when you hide yours but that does not exclude me from being used by God.

Maybe I show my weak moments when you hide yours but that does not exclude me from being used by God.

Those comments that don’t sound “Biblical” to you or don’t fit your personal narrative, those comments I throw out there in a moment of frustration or under the heavy burden of trial after trial after trial in a short amount of time, don’t dismiss me from God’s list of people who can be used for His Kingdom.

As I heard Pastor Steven Furtick say in a recent sermon: “There is nothing wrong with you that isn’t right with God.”

If you’re like me and feel your imperfect attitude disqualifies you from speaking your feelings about faith and God, let’s remind each other God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called and maybe what some of us are called to do is let our messy moments show so others know they’re not alone.


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Even fat moms read the Bible

Recently I didn’t have any models for my stock photography so I decided to make myself a model, as uncomfortable as I was with that idea. I plopped myself in front of the camera with my intention to capture only my hands holding my Bible or at least being able to crop it that way.

But when I looked at my arms in the photos I thought “Oh gosh. I’m so fat. I can’t believe how fat I’ve gotten.”

And it’s true.

I’m fat.

Partially from poor decisions and partially from auto immune conditions I can’t seem to get a handle on. Five years ago I lost 30 pounds in three months and I’ve only recently re-started the lifestyle change that helped me get there, so we’ll see how this latest journey goes, but until then, I’m just fat. Not running myself down. It’s just where I am. Not big boned. Just fat.

Many of the photos in the Christian stock agency I submit to feature young, skinny women reading their Bibles, I guess because the idea is that only young, in shape women need God. Of course I know the photographers or stock agencies aren’t really thinking that when they take or approve the photos but the thought is there, subconsciously, even in my own mind: fat women don’t sell.

We just don’t. Right?

But guess, what, maybe we do because not every woman out there is a size four. Some of us are struggling and we may know we need to lose the weight but no matter what we do it isn’t working. Maybe it’s a medical issue blocking the weight loss or maybe it’s emotional pain but either way losing the weight is a battle and we are in the middle of it.

And what I thought when I saw those photos, after the initial depression and decision that I wouldn’t submit the images, “well, even fat moms read the Bible.”

Though the agency I work with is fairly diverse and offering a few more photos of the old and the fat, I don’t know if some in the Christian advertising world have caught on yet. So many are focused on catering to the Millenials, they’ve forgotten that there are a huge segment of Christians who don’t know what a Instagram is. There is also a segment (notice I left out the word “huge” here) of Christians who are struggling with their appearance in a world where they are told constantly they are only worthy if they shop a certain place, wear a certain size or have a certain amount of money.

DSC_6864This is where we are right now – us women who fight with our weight – and we need to read that Bible as much as the 21-year old skinny girl does. That 21-year old blond may look like she has it all together but she’s in need of a savior as much as the fat mom who cries in the closet with a pint of Haagen-daz when she looks at photos of herself. The only difference is the fat mom may find a bit more judgement because of how she looks and how she has “let herself go.”

Christ loves us no matter our size or what the world thinks of us, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that when a large majority of the Christian images we see in Christian or church publications are of young men or women wearing skinny jeans and hipster hats. Does the Kingdom belong only to the young and fashionable? I tend to think not.

DSC_6932While the youth of today may dismiss what they see as the old fashioned and out of touch ideas of the older generation, the older generation are also a driving force of the Kingdom.

And that younger generation will one day be the older generation and they will one day have to deal with the sagging chests and the expanding bottoms and, as author and speaker Lysa Terkurst says, the missing “thigh gap.”

No matter our size or our age we are all a part of the kingdom of God.

Maybe it is time the Christian advertising industry started to reflect that a little better.

What I learned this Fall

I decided to join Emily P. Freeman today by listing a few things I learned this Fall. The idea is to share what we’ve learned before we move into a new season. And hopefully we’ll carry the lessons we have learned forward with us, which, in my case, doesn’t always happen like it should. For those who haven’t visited my blog before, my name is Lisa and I’m a mom and a wife from Pennsylvania. In addition to being a writer and a blogger, I’m also a photographer, who mainly focuses on documentary-style photography. You can learn more about me on my About page

1) So, first, this Fall I learned that God has a plan for me – I just  don’t have a clue what that plan is. More and more sermons I’m listening to, or books I’m reading, keep telling me God’s plan is ready for me, I just have to step into it. I’d love to learn, in this next season, just what I’m stepping into!


2) I learned I know what I want to do with the passions God has given me, but not how to get there. As I wrote in my digital diary, the one I keep in my phone because I never seem to find time to write in a real one:  

“There are all these motivational speakers out there who tell you if you put your mind to it you can be successful. And they are right. Often by successful they mean “famous.” But I don’t want to be famous or impact the entire world, I just want to impact and be effective in my world. I want to use photography to document real life for people who respect that the moment is more important than the pose. That the ordinary is extraordinary. That the perfect photograph doesn’t always mean looking into a camera and being given the cue to smile. That the in between moments when someone is caught off guard can be the frozen memory that means the most one day. Sometimes when I think no one really cares about what I do I want to stop snapping the shutter, stop sharing my photography. But then I decide to keep sharing because my art speaks to me and maybe someday it will speak to someone else and inspire them to take their own photos of their own children, parents, family. They may never hire me as a photographer but if I give them an idea of how they want their life documented then I think it’s all worth it.”

3) I learned that the health anxiety (usually called hypochondria, when one isn’t being politically correct) I thought I had a grip on after last winter’s mental breakdown is still there and as strong as ever. The past two weeks I have been deep in the throws of it and for me it is clearly a spiritual attack that I still need to learn how to battle.

I recently heard a sermon by T.D. Jakes and I wrote this quote down in my digital diary to keep as a reminder:

“If I was your enemy and I wanted to render you powerless I would worry you to death with so much on your mind that you lost your creativity, that you lost your passion, that you lost your sense of impact and influence and purpose … I would just worry you to death. I was reading in the dictionary up under the word weary , one of the definitions is to have your sense of pleasure taken away. If I was the enemy I would stop life from being fun. I would make you miserable in all that stuff god gave to you. I couldn’t stop him from giving it to you but I would worry you to death until you had a real nice bed you couldn’t sleep in. And a pool you couldn’t enjoy and a house you look around at it and all that stuff because if I can’t take your stuff. I can take your mind to keep you from enjoying the stuff God gave you. I came this morning to tell you the devil is after your mind.” T.D. Jakes Sermon entitled: “Do not worry” 10.22.17

The quote it in perfectly with a book I started reading even before I came under attack again – Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic‎ by Priscilla Shirer. In fact, it’s interesting that after I started reading about how to defend a spiritual attack I came under a pretty intense one. I don’t believe that is a coincidence at all and it’s something I just thought of as I was writing this. 

4) I learned I really enjoy lighter British mystery shows and my latest addiction is Father Brown, which I have been binge watching on Netflix. He’s a bit of a nosy priest with an interest in detective work, much to the chagrin of the local police. It doesn’t sit well with the police that he’s so good at investigating either. Much like Murder She Wrote I often find myself wondering 1) why anyone would want to attend Father Brown’s church or even be around him since anyone who meets him seems to die within the hour , 2) how such a small town has such a high violent crime rate and 3) why the police keep rolling their eyes at Father Brown when he always seems more on the ball than they are.


5) I learned that my 3-year old has an amazing memory and despite our best distraction efforts never forgets her love for worms or her desire to bring them in the house to live with her. She actually reached that goal this past week but pretty much forgot the worms existed because they’ve sat in that container on the freezer on the back porch all week.

6) I’ve learned that my black and white photographs are way more popular on my Instagram feed but I have no idea why. Apparently my photos are not very compelling unless they’ve been converted to black and white. I’m not sure that’s a compliment. Hmmmm…..

7). I also learned that my daughter needs to take long breaks from Doc McStuffins because if she doesn’t she starts to become a bit like me in the hypochondria department, worrying about germs and such. More of that story is in a blog post called “Thank you Doc McStufins for making my toddler a germaphobe.” Luckily that phase was short lived.

So how about you? What have you learned this Fall? Let me know in the comments (you should be able to comment as a guest) or by emailing me at


Have a blog and want to be part of Emily’s blog post? Find a place to add your link here.

Mama guilt and afternoon rest

She woke up this morning, looked at me and said “pretend you’re mama puppy.”

That meant she was baby puppy and barked and whimpered at me while I was mama puppy and had to bark all my answers at her.  It was a bit too early in my day to be barking morning greetings to my child but she asked and she’s cute and I would rather be greeted that way then with the morning news or an angry text message so I obliged her.

We started out as puppies but then we became tigers and she wanted to wake up and tell daddy she was a tiger. He was at his part time job so I had to text him her new identity  instead.

There are two days a week we wake up and it’s just her and me hanging out together until the afternoon. Her dad is at work and her brother is at school so we cuddle in bed and she talks about her favorite subjects, puppies and Doc Mcstuffin and this week PJ masks. I treasure those days but they can also be hectic and exhausting because I spend that time bouncing between waiting on and playing with her and trying to check off my to-do list at the same time.

Most days I keep my patience but some days, like today, my patience wanes and I snap “just give me five minutes to finish one thing!” When really I need like 50 minutes.

For about four months, probably longer, she’s been refusing early naps, instead only wanting to nap after I’ve picked her brother up from school and need to start dinner. This wouldn’t be a problem if one, she didn’t want me to hold her the entire time and two, she didn’t try to sleep for two hours and effectively push her bedtime off to an hour not fit for this 40-year old let alone a 3-year old.

When she said, shortly before 1 pm, that she wanted a nap I grumpily told her I didn’t believe her and didn’t want to leave my computer work just to have her once again refuse quiet time or a nap once we got upstairs to her room . She burst into tears and I carried her upstairs to her bed, to a place she has been refusing to rest in for almost six months. She cuddled against me, pulled the covers around her, asked to nurse and fell asleep. Boom. Just like that. I don’t think she has fallen asleep before 3 p.m. since sometime in the spring.

And now here I sit filled with mother guilt and praying she isn’t coming down with an illness or that the head bump she took yesterday afternoon when she slipped while chasing her brother with a plastic sword didn’t cause some kind of damage we were unaware of.

This quiet time, curled up under this comforter in the darkened bedroom is a gift, a moment of respite, a chance to regroup and refresh and I should be thankful, not suspicious, not aggravated or resentful.

It is a gift and I want to accept it and treasure it and hold it close in case it is a fleeting one. Her naps may interrupt the flow of my day but those moments, much like unexpected detours in our life, are needed interruptions to force me to slow down, focus on the present and take time to physically and mentally rest.

Author Emily P. Freeman talked about being present in the moment and taking time for rest in the latest episode of her podcast “The Next Right Thing.”

“When it’s time to be still, do so without an agenda so that when it’s time to move, you can do so from a place of love,” she said. “Part of remembering our soul’s center is engaging in practices that help to make space for God to move.  One of those practices for me is the practice of being still. If you feel scattered without a center, like you’re flying out in all directions, let these few moments be a speed bump in your busy day. . . . Say the day in your mind – the date, the month, the year. This is where you are, this moment is what you have. You can only be one place at a time. So be here now.”

So during my little girl’s nap time, with her asleep on my arm, effectively pinning me to the bed with her, I said to myself the date and the time and breathed in that moment – that gift of being present in the moment and in a period of needed rest but also in a period of being alone with her.