by Melissa Lloyd
Sixteen years. 7 months. 2 days….it seems like yesterday I was finding hot wheels in the washing machine and now you are driving a real car. This last year has been a bit of a hurdle for me. I feel like we have climbed to the top of a roller coaster that is preparing for this mach-two nosedive towards the ground with a double, upside-down, loop thrown in for parental cruelty. You love those rides. I, on the other hand, find myself doing a last minute seat belt check and praying we survive the moment. Accepting this new reality…the one where you need me less and less…is not easy. Not only are you testing the limits of your new-found freedom, but we are having talks about college, jobs, life, independence, and how to navigate it all. I won’t lie. I want to hold onto you…tightly. Anaconda tight as a matter of fact. Lucky for you, I have a semblance of maternal common sense that says to loosen my grip, buckle up, and ride the roller coaster with you…
But, I wouldn’t mind if we could rewind life a bit. Tough questions are popping up…answering the question of “what do I want to be when I grow up?” isn’t so easy… it’s a lot harder question to answer now, than it was at age 5 when you wanted to be a superhero. Although being Batman sounds like a pretty cool gig. Maybe you shouldn’t let those career aspirations die just yet.
I don’t know what career path you should take and honestly, it is OK if you don’t either. Be 16. Be a kid. God asks us to live in the day and not worry about tomorrow. So do that.
In the meantime, here are three things I *do* know…
The first is that God has a plan for your life. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for (Jeremiah 29:11). You are not here by mistake. You are not here by chance. You were planned. You are unique and not exactly like any other person in this world. And in God’s plan for this earth, there is a job for you in it….a job that only you can do. Don’t confuse that job with thinking you have to be a preacher or a full-time missionary…that God’s jobs are only full-time ministry jobs. You will find your job interwoven in the threads of your life. Your strengths are no accident. Your interests are not random. The things in this world that break your heart are not happenstance. Hurts, disappointments, and mistakes are threads that will clarify your job. Things that make your heart beat faster and your mind race with joy and excitement are job clarifiers. All of these things will come together to open your heart to your God job. And like all things related to God, it will take time to put this together (which is code for wait). I am convinced that wait is God’s favorite word…
Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Ephesians 1:4
Secondly, without a doubt, the world does not need any more judges. You can scratch that career path off your list. That job has been filled. No more applicants need apply. For some folks, judging others is a full-time job. Facebook, Twitter, and any other platform out there that allows people to criticize, demonize, cut down, terrorize, bully, and spread hate in the name of superiority whether blatantly or hiding behind something or someone is judgement and a profession to avoid all together. God did not call us to sit in judgement of others. He called us to love one another. Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle (Romans 12:9-10).And the sensationalized sins that make the rounds on the news or on social media are no better or worse than the ones that you commit. We like to compartmentalize sin….put it on a scale with degrees of lessor or greater evil, but the reality is this: Sin is sin. God hates it all. God is offended by it all and justifying it is a complete waste of time. Sin can’t be justified, which is why it took an act of crazy, wild love to make us right before God. This is the kind of love we are talking about – not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. (1 John 4:10) If you want to change the world son…start by loving the people in it. All of them…not just the ones that you deem worthy or acceptable of love. You don’t have to like people’s sins (and you shouldn’t), but if you make a choice to see them as a child of God and love them the best you know how…you are leading them to a God that redeems anything and everything through love. Just love people and see what happens. Judgement is a heavy burden to bear (for you)…hard to carry around…often feels like shackles and is back breaking at times….but love is light and free. Keep life simple…
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (Jam. 3:9-10)
Lastly, whatever job you decide on, do it for God’s glory. No matter where you work, you have a chance to reach others in need of the love of God. Focus on that. I hope you find a job that is amazing and fulfills you, but if you don’t…remind yourself that you work for God. Give him your best effort. Love those around you. God put you in that job for a reason. Trust him that you are there for something important and that your work matters. And when the time is right, move on…ask God to open a door and for the courage to walk through it. Moving on is harder than it seems, but you’ll never know what great experience lies ahead if you don’t take a step of faith. Life is a journey and God has plans to take you on a ride that you could never imagine or plan. He is the author and perfector of adrenaline junky adventure. Take a tiny step forward and God will do the rest…
As you begin the journey of finding out who you are in this great big, hot mess of a world….know these truths…marinate in them…let these truths be the voice in your head:
YOU are the child of a King.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…(John 1:12)
YOU were made in His image.
God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. (Genesis 1: 27)
YOU are adopted into God’s family.
Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5)
YOU are a joint heir with Jesus. (Romans 8:17)
Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. (Galatians 4:7)
YOU are loved unconditionally (full of flaws, mistake ridden, undeserving, just as you are loved).
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Romans 8:38-39)
YOUR sins are forgiven and forgotten.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. (Psalm 103:12)
YOU were worth dying a gruesome, excruciating, undeserved death by a man (God) with no sin who had no reason except radical love to hang on a cross FOR YOU (Makes you pretty dang important, doesn’t it?).
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Oh…and I love you.
So much so that there are not words strong enough to express my feeling for you.
I am proud of you.
I believe in you.
I am here for you…always and forever.
We, though, are going to love – love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. (I John 4:19)
by Melissa Lloyd
Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt.
The day as it comes.
People as they come…
The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.
by Melissa Lloyd
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
by Melissa Lloyd
These boys are too much fun and I adore photographing this family. Their first session was out in the country with balloons, books, apples, and airplanes and is still one of my all time favorites. Check is out here: Apples & Airplanes.
This time around we took those crazy cute boys to Pearl Brewery for some urban flair. And there was not shortage of smiles and orneriness…but when two brothers are together, what do you expect? There is something so sweet about little boys. Their energy. Their silliness. Their personalities. These little boys exude happiness and when you are around them, you can’t help but smile. I love being a family and children’s photographer! 🙂
by Melissa Lloyd