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Broken to Beautiful

We had sat on our bed with blank pages and the prompt to dream after reading a chapter in John and Lisa Bevere’s book The Story of Marriage. After ending the crazy busy in our lives we found ourselves searching for what it was we used to do with our free time. Reading marriage enrichment books had been a thing we did early in our married life. So sitting side by side in bed we filled page after page with our dreams, dreams to accomplish together and individually. As we inked our life vision across those pages, we discovered a deep desire to create art together.

I’m used to letting John bounce ideas off me as he is developing the concepts for his paintings. He asked for my thoughts on a new project, a mosaic, he was asked to create for GT’s New Normal series. We went back and forth conceptualizing the mosaic and you could feel the energy building in our car as we drove along I-176 with the kids in the back.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because yesterday I got to release a fulfilled dream. John and I created the mosaic side by side. Inspired by scripture in Revelation 21, we poured our hearts out and released that energy that had built up inside us to create the 4’x8′ mosaic “Broken to Beautiful”. Of all the creative projects I’ve ever completed, from personal photography projects to commissioned commercial work to sewing little dolls for my daughter, this by far was the most satisfying and fulfilling project I have ever completed. Getting to work on it with my best friend took it to a higher level. John feels the same way.

We were both greatly impacted by all of the stories that went into creating the piece and all of the individual ideas intertwined to convey a singular message: God takes our brokenness and makes beauty out of it.

While we created this artwork with love, we released it with hearts full of joy. We are humbled and honored to have been able to play a small part in God’s story.

This is only the beginning for John and I. We are super excited about the joint artistic endeavors that lie ahead!

 

it’s happening

How silly of me to have thought that He’d hand over control before final landing. All along He wanted our acknowledgement that it was not our doing, it has not been our doing, and it will not be our doing. It was, is, and will be His doing!

It’s such a paradox in which we live. Living freely and lightly does not mean sitting on our hands waiting, not doing anything. No. Living freely and lightly means we move our hands with acknowledgement it is not our doing. It is movement in the waiting for it to be done for us.

It doesn’t make sense until you give up on striving and let Him work it all out for you. The motion of the hands is not one of closing down around what we can get from Him, but instead an opening up to receive what He has for us.

““If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” Matthew‬ ‭6:30-33‬ ‭MSG‬‬

We came home from Bend knowing that trying to find a house while on the east coast would be an impossible task on our own. We surrendered and decided to trust God’s plan because we would not be going to Oregon without a miracle.

We continued pursuing the house search surrendered to His timing and not our timing. Yet, recognizing His specialty in the impossible set off in motion His miraculous ways of working out the impossible for us.

We’ve been relishing in our miracle for almost two weeks, still in awe of how He did it. See, that’s all He wanted all along. “Walk with me, work with me, WATCH HOW I DO IT.” (See Matt. 11:28-30) It’s been His way of saying you don’t have to strive. This all gets worked out when you let me wear your load and you simply walk along going for a ride. And while in motion, we do not carry the weight of the impossible situation. No, He just wants our company as He works out the details of the life He has for us.

It felt like it all slipped into place as we least expected it. Just hours after I shared about this impossible problem the solution was set into motion in the natural. What would have taken months to do on our own, He did in days. We have no other explanation for what just took place except to say it was truly a God miracle.

We have a house waiting for us. He made a way where we saw no way. He worked out the impossible for us even better than what we had asked for or imagined.

Another fulfilled promise.

This keeps getting better and better!

*You know we had to celebrate as a family at the place where it all started. We got our kids ice cream and cuddled together on our picnic blanket to sit in awe of God’s full beauty. They are just as excited as their parents about the adventure that lies ahead.

 

clouded journey

It was no surprise rising through the dark clouds as we jetted on our journey to the west. Visibility consisted of a dense cloud cover. Sort of like the cover we felt when this season of our life was first unfolding.

Had I simply listened, read my own words that were speaking to ME, that were birthed to guide me in a shift of perspective, perhaps I may have seen the beautiful truth sooner.

Her bath had wrapped up and she was now cuddled up beside me with her story Bible. I felt so at rest, soaking up her every little touch coming from her gentle little digits pressing against my arm.

We opened up to the story she had just learned that last Sunday morning. We went back because we wanted to know what happened before the walls came tumbling down in Jericho. As I was soothed by the sweet aroma of my freshly cleaned girl, the light of the words opened up my eyes to the perspective shift revelation.

He covered His people with a cloud by day. They didn’t move until the cloud moved. They didn’t know their next step but God was with them every step of the journey. He guided their steps.

And you might as well have hit me over the head with a Jericho brick for having missed the truth that surrounded me the entire time.

It was not simply fog. It was the cloud of God’s presence surrounding us, resting all around us. He’s been closer than we’ve known.

One step at a time, He seamlessly transitioned us from one to the next and the next, never fully disclosing the final destination.

But that doesn’t matter. Clarity is overrated when we have a vision of the One with us.

And a deep sigh of regret left from my chest as I wished I had recognized His close proximity sooner.

Nevertheless, the lesson is there for me and for you so we don’t forget because we are good at forgetting. But I want to be good at remembering.

Remembering that He is with me.

Remembering that He is trustworthy.

Remembering that His promises have no expiration date.

Remembering that He loves me so much that He hides me in His cloud because He loves to protect me while working out dreams for me that I have not even dreamt up yet.

If He gave us full disclosure, He knows we would sabotage His doings.

He knows us so well. He knows that if we see where he wants us to arrive as our destination, we will look at where we are and the distance we must transverse and our wails will be HOW?!

Remember, you must let go of “how” when choosing to walk the unknown.

He knows that our limited minds have limited capacity and we would be completely consumed with our questioning instead of with our motion from one step to the other.

He knows that we get distracted with the details and might not move at all. He doesn’t want us to be paralyzed analyzing the enormity of what he is trying to accomplish in us and through us. Take note that it is He who is trying to accomplish it, not us.

He just needs us to cooperate with him. To move when he says move, and wait when he says wait. One single act of obedience after another.

His cloud works like a shield that is protecting us every step of the way so we might not lose our way even when we don’t know where exactly we are going. The cloud shields us from becoming bound to unbelief because our eyes cannot yet fully see.

And while we are moving not fully seeing, in the cloud He’s restoring our vision. He realigns our purpose with our originally intended purpose since the words for our creation were spoken.

The restorative work only occurs when we lift our eyes off ourselves and fix our eyes on Him, seek Him, draw close to Him, and search out with listening eyes and ears the secrets that He wants to share with us.

More than anything else we could see, He wants us to see Him.

We went east to west and back again and we remain in the foggy cloud. We still don’t know how.

We never imagined that we would be this close to crossing over, yet waiting for a door to open. We thought we’d go and come back with a clear date. Not so.

We are still walking in the unknown.

We are between a hard place and impossible, but we continue trusting because impossible is His specialty.

JohnApril 9, 2016 - 9:28 pm

I love how you paint our journey in words.

BeiraApril 12, 2016 - 8:58 pm

<3

[…] felt like it all slipped into place as we least expected it. Just hours after I shared about this impossible problem the solution was set into motion in the natural. What would have taken months to do on our own, He […]

Bend

We spread out our picnic blanket that lived in the back of the car all summer long. We placed it over deep green grass overlooking the lake, a pint of Three Twins sea salt caramel ice cream and two spoons in hand.

We wanted to be a little higher to enjoy the sight, but it would have to do for the evening. Short people problem, perhaps, always feeling like we can’t get a good look. Or maybe it’s been an inner desire we hadn’t yet verbalized.

We talked of the view and the trees partially hiding it away. Oh this is one way many of our conversations turn–the way we can walk into a space and point out all the things we would change to maximize its strengths.

Right there on our blanket we dreamed of our dream space. And then we looked at each other and in sync we knew.

“I think we want to move somewhere new.”

We’d been ignoring this longing for so long, we had forgotten it was even in here.

 

But like embers it was still glowing inside us, ever so slowly, ever so lowly, never going out. And when we unstuffed our lives and purged all of our earthly belongings we found a fire reviving inside us, consuming all the fears that had been suffocating these embers from glowing and burning a fire in our dream.

 

We quietly breathed upon it, letting it’s flames rise inside us, waiting, observing, and wanting it to come fully alive. We never woke up with the dream faded away in the night. Instead the fire grew stronger and fiercer; we could no longer deny it.

If we don’t go on this adventure now, the flames of the fire will fall, and the embers will fade, and we will die inside.

The regret of not doing so will be far greater than the regret of taking the dream and running with it.

We have a dream and each other and a God who is with us wherever we go. There is no plan, just an adventure as we live out the unknown–the unknown that has mysteriously become our comfort zone.

We’ve already risked it all. We have nothing to lose and further full life to gain. So we will continue living freely and lightly, here, there, and everywhere. The next “there” happens to be Bend, Oregon. Yes, we are relocating!


(all images from personal iPhone of the actual day we realized we desired to relocate)

ilia m riveraMarch 8, 2016 - 12:36 pm

Oh Wow that is exciting !! Wish you guys the best . God will guide your path. Go and make your lives shine !! God bless Ilia

BeiraMarch 8, 2016 - 12:45 pm

Thank you, Ilia! We don’t have it all figured out, but just one step at a time is fine for us 🙂

BridgetMarch 8, 2016 - 6:21 pm

Why bend?

Mindy MichelleMarch 8, 2016 - 6:48 pm

SOOO exciting!! Congrats!

LaceyMarch 9, 2016 - 1:33 pm

I’m excited for you, Beira! Not just for pursuing this dream but also that you’ve picked such a great place to relocate to. I may have already told you this, but my husband has said that the only other place he’d live besides where we are right now is Bend. 🙂 It has so much to offer and I truly believe it will be a grand adventure for your family.

BeiraMarch 14, 2016 - 10:06 pm

Bend has a lot of the things that fit our lifestyle and an active artist culture. And we figured, why not! 🙂

BeiraMarch 14, 2016 - 10:06 pm

Thank you, Mindy!

BeiraMarch 14, 2016 - 10:08 pm

Thank you, Lacey! We can’t wait to get out there and explore all of the region and the state. Choosing Oregon wasn’t hard, but picking a specific area was–there are so many neat places to live in!

Borderless Extravagance

I slipped on my cozy boots and warmest coat, and exited the house to round the neighborhood as I exhaled the cares of the day and inhaled new energies to finish out the night. Instead of resetting my breathing pattern, I was met with a challenge as I cut right on Deborah Drive.

I was very wrong in believing that our stay with my parents was an in-between step to a direct path to our new house, but I was right in sensing that our stay with them would be much longer than we had planned.

I needed some space to be alone and let the stories in my head play out and quiet down. It didn’t take long for stillness to come and sit down inside my mind.

As I turned that corner, God began speaking to me, referring back to that one disrupted sleep I had before our move when I woke up with that one random thought.

“God’s extravagance is borderless. We limit what he can do in us, through us, and for us.”

I had put it in my phone notes and rolled back to sleep not questioning what it meant. I was too tired to ponder it then. But I had thought of it during daylight hours when I could sit in wonder. And now here He was, bringing up that random thought that was obviously not randomly placed in the middle of my sleeping brain.

“You know, Beira, my extravagance has always been borderless. You are just becoming aware of it. Do you trust me?”

At that same instant in an entirely separate part of my being I knew exactly how God was challenging me, us, to really trust him.

I gasped some of that cold air into my lungs and slowly returned it as a puff of heat.

“What about buying a house?”

 “Do you trust me?”

“What about…?”

I heard silence in response to my questioning.

Back home, John and I faced a fork in the road with one choice holding a promise. That same choice meant complete surrender of our control and an embrace of the unknown. We mustered up all our courage and every cent we had saved for years to buy a house (and to do it right) went to pay off our student loans. This is where I gulp thinking about it because it meant that we would be financially stuck for at least a few months even if we decided to go back to renting (remember, we got rid of half of our belongings).

My heart’s disposition was to trust because the One making the promise has fulfilled many promises to me before. I was full of curiosity to discover more of His borderless extravagance.

John 6:39-40 speaks about aligning ourselves with God, trusting Him, and entering real life. We accepted the challenge. We surrendered our plan and decided to trust His plan, without really knowing the outcome or even the next step.

It was easy to take the step but it has been hard to walk the journey that has followed.

Just when we thought we were about to enter through the doors of a new house for our family, we walked through waiting room doors into the unknown.

When you walk into the unknown, you lose the how. There are no answers to how.

No answer to “how will we get out of here?”

No answer to “how long will we be here?”

No answer to “how is this all going to turn out?”

No answer to “how do we make sense of this for our kids?”

No answer to “how will I make it through?”

But there is no gain in playing it safe.

 “He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag. Luke 19:26 MSG

I got tired of playing it safe and I found myself risking it all, including myself.

This space of uncertainty was the place where I lost myself. It has felt like death while walking around completely aware of it. It has tasted like corroded metal. It has smelled like stale air. I’ve heard myself screaming at the top of my lungs while my lips have been sealed shut. I’ve felt my insides trying to squirm out of me. I’ve shed many tears while swallowing my pride.

Yet in the same space I have found more than I could have ever imagined. (That’s just how God’s economy works.)

I have seen small glimpses of God’s borderless extravagance through the way this journey has worked inside of me and shifted my life perspective.

I have discovered how fear has been a bully in my life. I have learned how to stand up to it and tell it to shut up. I have dared to dream bigger than ever. I have shed lies that have hindered growth in me.

I have also uncovered passions and purpose that bring me completely alive, some in ways I had not experienced before.

This has all been from a trust challenge.

Sometimes we need a good trust challenge to uncover how we allow ourselves to be robbed of living fully.

We need to risk life so we can become aware of how limiting we are of God’s work in, through, and for us. Because once we gain that awareness, the answer to how to remove the limitations is clear.

It’s not too late yet to risk your life. Hang tight. Your capacity to live is going to be enlarged. Dare to trust and seek out Borderless Extravagance?

JohnMarch 3, 2016 - 8:57 pm

I am glad to be on this adventure with you. It is great to see you paint it so colorfully with words.

JohannaMarch 3, 2016 - 9:51 pm

My beautiful friend~ loved it so inspiring ~ dared to seek borderless Extravagance? Wow!!!

BeiraMarch 4, 2016 - 7:47 am

Thank you, Johanna. I hope it inspires you as much as it has for me 🙂