As a believer, this word is the foundation of my christianity. We are to put all of our faith in a God we can't see, and for human sake, we can't audibly hear. Having faith is actually so simple...not. If you really want to pick the word apart, it has so many levels and can mean many different things to all of us. People will say "just have faith, it will be ok", "be faithful, and God will take care of it." It sounds very watered down at times., especially if people aren't aware of what tragedies or heartbreaks that maybe surrounding us. For me "Faith" and "Strength" seem to be one in the same . Having real faith is not for the weak, a person has to be very strong to have a real faith. Sitting in a deep valley surrounded by darkness, with no glimpse of light, is not going to bode well for one who has a weak faith. Having a strong faith, and a trust in a God you can't see or audibly hear, gives hope that the darkness will be turned to light. It's not spending the time in the dark questioning your position, it's asking how you'll be better when you're through it. Challenging and questioning it will only make the darkness more confusing, however seeking the good in the moments and how God wants to use your position, will offer a night light until the storm passes. I speak for myself that without a strong faith in God there were times the darkness seemed normal. It required endless prayer and total surrender until the light began to shine so brightly. It is His promise, there will always be light after the dark.
Yesterday I was beyond blessed to meet a family that wears their faith all over them. The Lehmann family was struck with a tragedy nobody ever wants to think about. Last May, Daniel and Shannon lost their son Joey to a very short and unexpected illness . Little sister Abbie was now an only child . I can't imagine the pain and the questions this family had. Perhaps anger. I didn't know them when this happened so I can't speak of the emotion they felt, but I can imagine. In the next 7 months or so Daniel would be diagnosed with a treatable form of testicular cancer. Treatable yes, but not to minimize the challenges that go along with that. It would still be a battle. Cancer is like the devil, either one of them go down without fighting very hard for the win. When Shannon contacted me for family photos, I thought her Facebook profile looked familiar. Simply a photo of the Chicago Bulls logo. I remembered hearing about Joey last year. My first thought was, wow, how brave to already want a family photo, my second thought was, are they gonna be sad and down and out? I had all of these thoughts before I even knew of Daniels diagnosis. I have to say that without an actual conversation before the session, I was a little nervous. I just prayed I would have the wisdom to say the right things, not to over step any boundaries that didn't need explored. I pulled in the parking lot, got out of my car and greeted this beautiful trio. I instantly felt love, saw light and smiles, I felt relieved. As the session progressed I was happy hearing them openly talk about Joey, they even brought his basketball that we included in a photo. As I snapped away and we all talked and laughed, I couldn't help myself, after looking through my lens and noticing Daniels beautiful bald shiny head, I finally asked, "so how are you doing?' He smiled, and replied good! He has gone back to work and has had a clear scan. They mentioned their church at some point in the session, and it struck me that this family who has been hit with a load of the unexpected , I'll just say GARBAGE, has obviously put all of their faith into our God. What I saw yesterday was not what the first week or months or even what the hard days are like, however, this family had a faith so strong that they were able to have a family photos taken just a year after they lost their son. The courage of these three is so inspiring. I felt like I have known them for a long time. They were easy to be around, and I felt honored to be there. I thank God everyday for the gift He has given me in my work, I thank Him for the opportunity to work with all kinds of people, and I thank Him for the precious gift of life, it is only a one time deal, treasure it, enjoy it, and when you can spread the love of a life given to us through a sacrifice . Lastly, if you are ever struck with a dark storm of your own, dig deep for that strong faith, you may be the light for others. Luke 1:37 " Faith does not make things easy, it makes them possible."
Shannon, Abbie and Daniel, with them is Joeys basketball.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!