Wish it Away

Anyone who has been faced with a chronic illness or disability can relate . . .

You pray.

You hope.

You beg.

You wish it away.

You bargain.

You break.

You resign to recognize there are so many others who wish the same. . .

For it to go away.

Until the sickening realization that it may not.

It may for some, but not you.

For you, it stays.

And you wonder- why me?

You look to God, you look to your family and friends and you know,

it’s your burden to bear.

So what are you going to do with it?

We weep. We mourn. We lament.

And then. . .

And then. . . .

we rise.

We rise again.

And again.

And we wish it away again every day.

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Camille Vaughan

 

Confession

9 Months.  That is how long I had hidden it from him.

But out like a thief, it came.

My confession.

It’s been 20 years since Columbine but not a day has passed, since before I even had children, that I worried about sending my child to school.

On Friday, the used-to-be-unthinkable happened right down the road from us.

Down the road as in, on our way to school.

As in, my 5 year-old asking why the police-car lights are still flashing 3 days in a row.

12 innocents murdered for no reason other than they. were. there.

My instinct is to protect her innocence. My gut tells me to instruct her where to hide.

Why, in the literal F* H*, is this even a consideration?

He told me that everyone at work knew someone who had died.

I confessed I’ve never said goodbye to Aurora before school without considering it to be the last time.

Why?

Why?

Why?

Why?

 

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Step

It was late.

It was far away.

It was foreign- something we “used to do”.

It had been a longggggg 10 days prior, complete with travel and a funeral.

There were a multitude of reasons why we could raincheck this date . . . but we didn’t.

We ate at a sushi spot one minute from home and when we still had 45 minutes until the main act came on stage, we decided to “pre-game” with my 87 year-old father who lived close-by.

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It. was. the best.

It’s been 7 years since my husband and I have had a conversation with my dad without children nearby.  And it’s been nearly that long since we’ve gone to a live show together.

There we stood with a crowd of others that, I pointed out, had at least one thing in common with us- an adoration for this band.

Lord Huron began with a song I frequently listen to as I write “Love Like Ghosts” and immediately I was catapulted into my writing space.

 

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My face lit like the sun itself so I stretched out my arms and danced.

I had taken a step- into the unfamiliar, into the faraway- but I was home.

We sang, we danced, we remembered what it felt like to step into our space and realized, it was worth the distance.

 

The End & It’s Beginning

They see opportunity, I see the end of an era.

They see a new purpose, I see the memories.

I’ve never been a big fan of thrift stores, yard or estate sales, but it wasn’t until today, when my elderly neighbor’s estate sale went “live” that I understood why.

I don’t see a record player, I hear the music it played over the decades.

I don’t see a dresser, I see the clothes it housed for birthdays, beach days, and every days.

They see dishes, I see Thanksgiving dinner.

They see a chair, I see the person who used to sit in it.

To many, they are just things.

To me, they are a story.

Of a life lived.

Of a past, now gone.

Of a future, without these things.

Perhaps this isn’t their end.

It’s just a new beginning.

 

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Keep Playing

 

Elisabeth

Her name was Elisabeth but she was to be called “Beth”.

She was tall with long, wavy brown hair and the face of an angel because, she was an angel.

I was just 11 years old, when I saw her in my pantry.

I was searching for a snack.  My mom passed me by with a laundry basket full of clothes.

I paid no mind until I heard, from what seemed a distance, “Lauuuuureeeennn.”

I replied, “YEA?!”

No answer.

“YEA?!”

And then I felt it.

An energy.  A tingling on the back of my neck.  A movement of air.

I turned and she took my breath away.

She was beautiful, and without hesitation, I knew exactly who she was.

Elisabeth.

In her white dress, floating.

A smile crept upon her face, as if to say, “I’m here.  I see you. I’m with you, always.”

And then she evaporated right before my very eyes.

Immediately, I felt my heart restart, pumping so hard, I could feel it through my chest.  I gasped for air and screamed out for my mother.

She came downstairs and I pleaded with her, already knowing the answer, “Mom.  Did you call my name?  Did you CALL MY NAME?!”

She, confused and concerned, reassured me that she hadn’t.

Shaking, I processed what I had seen and felt and have kept close to my heart for the last 25 years.

I had seen her, my sister Elisabeth, gone before I was born.

And today, I see her still, in the face of my daughter, Elizabeth Joy.

My guardian angel.

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Captured by Katie McCracken

 

 

 

You

Happy 8th Anniversary to my sweetheart 💗

New Leaf Parenting

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This is you after spending hours cracked out in the tiny half-bath in our Nags Head home, replacing the flooring.  Breaking your back, sweating, and yet still smiling and proud of the work you completed.  This is you.  Hardworking.  Sincere.  Authentic.  My One. True. Love.

You.

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This is you with your very first harvest of tomatoes in 2012.  You were so proud and it shows in the picture.  So does your incredible body at 40 years old.  You work hard, Emmett, and I am so proud to call you my husband.

You.

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This is you with all three of our daughters.  Little do they realize, they hit the jackpot when it comes to daddies.   You were literally born to do this.  To be a model father.  You sacrifice on their behalf.  You spend quality time with them Every. Single. Day.  Picking the garden, swinging, building sand castles…

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Homebody

1 year later with a fourth baby on the way, and this still rings true.

New Leaf Parenting

“Take a day, babe.  Get out of the house because I can’t do anything with them when you’re around.  They only want you when they see you.”

My husband was right but where would I go?  After a week of very little sleep, I’m exhausted.   And to be honest, all I really want to do is stay home.

But with a high of 40 degrees and a 1, 3 and 5 year-old in tow, kicking my husband out of the house left him with limited options.

“I’ve got some errands to run- I’ll take them with me.”

Music to my ears, but how long would I have?  I didn’t care.  I parked my rear on the recliner and watched a tv show for 30 minutes before starting dinner and calling my mom.

She lives only five minutes away and comes over to play with the kids twice a week…

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Love

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Love.

The all- encompassing kind.  Pumping like electricity through your veins.  Consuming your every thought and action.  Making it hard to breathe.

The forbidden kind that taunts and teases you.

The joyous kind that beams like warm sunshine.

The dangerous kind that hurts.

The sweet kind captured by tiny moments of tenderness and thoughtfulness.

The tragic kind that breaks your heart.

The Godly kind that makes all love possible.

Love.

Receive it.  Feel it.  Give it.

Love.

Camille Vaughan Photography

A Man Misunderstood: Part I

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Suspicious. Doubtful. Annoyed at your devotion while I smile and nod my head.

Happy for you. Equally wishing I could “buy in” and yet unable to foresee a scenario in which that would ever be possible.

Curious. Incredulous. Impatient. Restless.

Tuning out the moment I hear or read the words “God”, “Faith”, “Jesus” and “Christianity”. I don’t want to be your prized missionary “save”.

And yet still, I wrestle. Blaming it on brainwashing from church as a child every Sunday but deep down, I can’t escape the curiosity.  How can so many bright and intelligent people believe in this?

They told me to read The Book but every time I try, it doesn’t make any sense.

They try to encourage me, but there’s an ocean between us and our conversations only leave me feeling more isolated and lost.

Still, I search.  I read books about Buddhism and find common ground.  I continue to watch sermons from the church I started attending a couple of years ago. The pastor, a successful lawyer, author and professor, is a master at tackling current issues using biblical scripture to make sense of it all.

I assumed some are just born to believe and others don’t take much convincing.  The task is daunting, confusing and overwhelming and yet as much as I want to stop, I keep pursuing- fueled equally by my own questions and the pressure to teach my children principles to live by.

Piece by piece, I find myself peeling back the layers.

For the past month, I’ve been reading The God Girl Journey by Hayley DiMarco.  It’s a 30-Day guide intended for teenagers, but as my faith is certainly no more advanced, it’s just right for me.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

After a 3 day introduction, the book is divided into the attributes listed in the verse above and it has changed my life. 

I’ve never wanted to call myself a Christian for a number of reasons:  I do not want to align myself with a faith whose leaders have been convicted of child molestation time and time again.  I do not want to be associated with a religion that believes their way is the only way and all others are damned to hell or not welcome in heaven.  I have issues with the damnation of homosexuals or the idea of confessing my sins.  I have issues with well-meaning missionaries converting people from other cultures under the pretense of helping.  I have issues with hypocrisy which I feel Christianity and many of its followers are grossly guilty of.  I have a hard time believing in biblical stories and I don’t want to “cherry-pick” my religion.  If I’m going to label myself something, I want to be all-in.

For these reasons, and many others I’ve skirted Christianity.  Peeking inside its chambers, but never fully entering.  Cautiously observing.

As a child, I attended an Episcopalian church, summer camps and even found myself at a Young Life retreat one year.  I clearly remember sitting on a rock, pleading with a leader to tell me how I was supposed to believe.  His answer was, “You just have to have faith.”  In what?  Blind faith? Believe first and the rest will come?  I’m not hardwired that way.

And yet I am insanely envious of those who do have faith.  I think to myself, “I wish I could be that naive”. Harsh, but true. They seem so peaceful.  In the face of some of the worst tragedies, time and time again I’ve heard or read Christians who are able to find goodness amongst evil- like when the congregation and family members of those killed at the church in Charleston publicly forgave Dyllan Roof for his senseless massacre. How? Why?

Reading The God Girl Journey has helped me to understand just how and why that could ever be possible. Reading this book has given me a much clearer understand of who Jesus was- a man that I’ve researched enough to know that few doubt his existence. Reading this book has helped me to understand why the Christians I know and respect seem so confident and peaceful and why they share their faith.

I’m still at the beginning of my journey (hence, Part I), but now I know that once you start to believe, you feel selfish keeping it to yourself.  It’s not that you are trying to convert others to check off your “good Christian to-do-to-get-into-heaven list”- it’s that you feel true JOY and you want others to feel it, too.

I have lots of questions but for the first time, I am beginning to understand why so many people love Jesus.  Strip away the rules and denominations surrounding him.  As I learn more about what he stood and died for, I see so many similarities in all that I love about Buddha- principles that I try to live my life and teach my children by: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

And as much as I want to know it all before I begin, just like parenting, I realize now that sometimes you just have to start somewhere- anywhere. I’m tired of curiously observing from the outside.  I have nothing to lose by diving in and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to gain.

Jesus: A man I’ve grossly misunderstood.  A man, a faith, I want to understand. A man whose birth I’m actually celebrating this Christmas.

 

Dee Akright Photography