Life is Grace

Seeking the Blessings in the Chaos

I am changing my blog’s name to fit the direction I want to take it, and my writing. There will still be plenty of photography, and if anyone should be interested in making a purchase, just click on “Gingerfancy Photography” above the blog header. To read more about why I am changing the name, and how it fits with the past history of the blog, please keep reading. Also refer to the pinned post at the top of the blog, the quote by Frederich Buechner.

Welcome! I’m Barbara and one thing I want to make clear straight away is that I am determined to live a full, generous, and creative life, one filled with love and laughter, despite chronic pain and disability. This is a good time to plug in one of my favorite quotes, by Joseph Campbell:

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

I have to admit that I think I may finally be coming to this acceptance and letting go that Campbell speaks of.  Someday, maybe, I will find this acceptance. but not yet. Almost three years ago I graduated with a hard-earned Master’s in Theology and planned to work as a hospital or hospice chaplain. My dream for…oh, about twenty years, ever since the first time I tried to get my Master’s and did a chaplaincy internship. Back then I had to drop out because of my fibromyalgia. I had thought, after intensive treatment at a pain clinic, that I was fit enough for graduate school…and I was, despite struggles with fibromyalgia and episodic migraines, and bouts of depression, until I was in a mild fender-bender that led to whiplash and neck surgery and chronic migraines. And then there are the dizzy spells that make me black out and fall down. In October of 2015, I fainted and broke my foot in several places, which (naturally) required two surgeries to repair. And there is the myofascial pain syndrome too. So, the chaplaincy is not happening. Actually work, in ministry or not, is not happening.

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While I adore my husband (patience of a saint, and a sense of humor too–absolute necessities for a life with me) and I love being a doggie-mama, both George and I had hoped for a few children of the less furry kind, that (hopefully) could walk on two legs instead of four. Alas, that was not to be, and so I keep Kleenex in business and cry whenever I pass the baby clothes section at Target. I keep hoping that God has some plans to use us in some parenting capacity…because everything else I can accept, but not this. Never this.

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But I digress.  In one way I am lucky: my two passions are words and images. Writing and photography. Journaling, blogging, writing, shooting with my camera, playing with editing my photographs. I can express myself, explore my world, find my God, search for grace, for beauty, for love. I dig into stories of discouragement and heartbreak, of contentment and joy, of love and grief and what it means to be human. And photographs about finding grace in the little things–like flowers (always, lots and lots of flowers!) puppies, and sitting on the rocky shore of Lake Superior and, old letters written by my grandmother in the 1930s… I have experienced a lot of dark places but often I find that grace shines through, although it takes me a while to see it.  In my hospital room, in the dark of night, in my struggles with childlessness, in my worst nightmares, when I buried my parents…all of these are places where I have experienced God’s presence in special ways. And more and more, I have come to think that the people who love us, whether friends, family, teachers, neighbors, etc., show something of God’s love for us…

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It often requires a conscious effort on my part to notice these everyday wonders, and tell the truth, there are days I can’t see them at all. I’m not a saint, pain makes me irritable and gloomy and bitter and resentful (on my worst days, and I have many of them). It’s been years since I have felt “well” or had a day without pain. Sometimes I feel as though my entire youth was stolen from me…and then I remind myself how much fun I’ve had in spite of it all, and how blessed I was to meet my husband, to have a circle of supportive friends, to find a fantastically awesome parish that has represented the best of the Catholic Church to me.

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Our engagement photo, September 2002, Nicollet Island, Minneapolis. Photo Credit Meghan Doll

This is my life. This is my one life, the only one I will ever get. As a favorite poet, Mary Oliver asks, “…tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” In the final analysis, I refuse to live an unlived life.  Let’s be real here. I have many bad days when I’m trapped in bed and unable to write or do anything else because of a migraine. There are times I get so lonely from being stuck at home all of the time I want to grab the first stranger I see walking past the house and drag them inside, tie them up, and force them to talk to me.

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I still make a conscious, deliberate choice to seek out the blessings in the chaos and the pain, the small miracles, the graces. And there I have not been disappointed. I’ve also found activities that nourish my soul, my mind, my heart–photography, writing, nature, reading, gardening (when my back and neck can stand it–about ten or fifteen minutes a time, and then I risk being laid up the rest of the day!), prayer and meditation.

So I’m writing this blog for you, my fellow spoonies of all sizes, shapes, and ages; and I’m writing this for you, my darling photography friends who keep me going with your encouragement: and most of all I’m writing this for you, my beloved friends and family, because I love you, and I want to share my world with you.

Updated March 5, 2018

12 thoughts on “Life is Grace

  1. Sarah says:

    Most of all, you need to write this for yourself. This life is such a wild rollercoaster ride, even if sometimes we don’t have the stomach for it, we must hang on tight and trust the One who is in control of the switches.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, I always write for myself first…sometimes I don’t know what I feel or think until I write about it. Thanks for your support my friend xoxo

      Like

  2. Barbara, you always break my heart and yet you know there’s something still here for you to do and be. Thank you for your support and sharing my world here with me too.
    Love Ya’,
    Shalagh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shalagh you are right, I know there is something…and you have my support, always, and it’s an honor to be able to share your world too. xoxo Love you 😍

      Like

  3. Nanci says:

    What a heart felt post. I am so sorry that you have so many physical issues but through it all your attitude is amazing. God does give us the grace we need for any circumstance and even though you are not able to do some of the things you had hoped, you are being used to show grace through your words and photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nanci, I never thought of that until very recently. Your words help me believe it may be true. Thanks so much xo

      Like

  4. Sandi Niemeyer says:

    Your way with words astound me, and I love your photography. You are so very talented, my dear. God definitely has a plan for you. Love ya😘💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Sandi, that was just what I needed to hear! Thanks so much 😘💕💕💕

      Like

  5. Staci Lee says:

    I’m looking forward to all this space will bring. You bring me both life and grace. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, love. If I do, I’m so very thankful 😘

      Like

  6. A beautiful post my friend. I so wish there was some magic to make you better. Perhaps one day 😘.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Henrietta dear. I wish that too! Luckily I have a supportive husband and more friends than I realized. That helps me cope and be happy (well, except when my antidepressant doesn’t work lol).

      Like

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