When God Pushes Pause

 

The blog has once again been eerily quiet.

There was such a year of build up to creating this site, with God opening doors I could have never ever dreamed and with opportunities coming together in the most providential of ways. It was amazing to experience how when you are willing to simply say yes to whatever and wherever He leads, the journey is beyond anything you can ask or imagine. It was all of the truths of “immeasurably more” coming to life and exploding off the page. It was magical.

And then right when the opportunities were most abundant?

HE PUSHED PAUSE.

If you follow my social media channels you will have likely seen the reason behind the recent silence on the blog. After 15 years of continuing health issues a surprising twist has come to light. Countless misdiagnoses and failed treatments and incredulous shrugs from doctors who couldn’t agree on a name for the symptoms that seemed to be multiplying more rapidly than ever all culminated in a unexpected identity for my captor:

LYME DISEASE

With the key finally in hand to the mystery of my crippling illnesses, we set out to finally banish my issues once and for all, only to discover we had been dealt a double edge sword. This particular diagnosis, it would seem, is only a beginning to a very long road indeed. Treatments are difficult and uncertain. Doctors who are knowledgable of the condition are few and far between. Insurance companies all but refuse to cover any of it. The diagnosis isn’t so much an ending to this struggle as the beginning of a new one.

[Read more…]

I’m the iPhone Mom in the Food Stamps Line

If you follow us on social media you may be aware that in January my husband was officially laid off from his job as a mobile app developer for a start up. It was a pretty crummy situation, since only this last September the same company had given us permission to relocate from our home in the San Francisco Bay Area and begin a whole new life in Salem, Oregon. Because of the nature of my husbands work, he is able to do his job entirely online, so it was no big deal for his company to allow him to work from another state. In fact, a majority of the coworkers on my husbands project lived too far away to commute to the office, being that they all live in India. Such is the nature of the new global economy, so we were thrilled to take advantage of the opportunity to leave the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley life and live in a quieter, slower, more intentional way here in Salem. What we didn’t expect however was that only months later the company would admit to hitting financial difficulties; difficulties they chose to solve by eliminating an employee salary – OUR salary. Yikes. So now that we relocated from the very place where a majority of these tech jobs exist, now we would be looking for work. Double yikes.

Layoffs-Unemployment-Job-Cuts-Losses-Pink-Slip-FiredWe ever so briefly asked ourselves if we had made a horrible mistake and needed to consider taking interviews back in CA, but we quickly remembered all it took for God to bring us to Oregon, and how he had confirmed to us over and over again that we wanted this life for our kids. Besides: even if we got a decent salary back in the bay, the cost of living had skyrocketed so high that we would never be back on our feet again, and certainly never have a home or a life like we’ve found here in the far more affordable state of Oregon. We recognized that it was more logical to deal with short term struggle here in Oregon, where we at least have a shot at a future, then go back to CA where we may never get out of the cycle of paycheck to paycheck life, if we could even support ourselves at all.

So Bobby went about the business of applying for new work. He even went through multiple interviews with the same company, who eventually brought him onsite to meet the team and even talk to HR… only to send him a form email the next day saying they “couldn’t offer employment at this time.” Resume after resume was going out, and most of the time he only heard crickets in response. The very last paycheck had come at the end of January, and we would do everything in our power to stretch that as long as could. Besides, Bobby had paid into unemployment insurance with every check, so we’d at least have that right?

The letter from unemployment was jarring: your claim has been denied. What? That couldn’t possibly be right. Countless phone calls and entire CD’s worth of hold music later, the mysterious problem was finally uncovered. Turns out the HR representative at Bobby’s last job had made an eentsy weentsy miniscule typo – in his social security number. *head-desk* So all those payments diligently made to unemployment insurance month after month, paycheck after paycheck, ensuring we were properly prepared for an occasion just such as this? Not a one of them was credited to Bobby, but to a magical second social security number that wasn’t even his. More phone calls and even more hold music later, the final word was something along the lines of “yes, you most definitely qualify, but no, we have no idea whatsoever how long it will take for the two states to sort this mess out. We’ll get back to you… eventually.”

So here we are – 2 kids, 1 mortgage, 0 immediate sources of income.

So now it seems the calendar says MARCH along the top, resumes are still going out each and every day, and that paycheck from January is shrinking so that it’s all but vanished at this point. I wont lie – the scariest part is when you realize you cant pay your mortgage anymore. We moved to a whole new state to seek more affordable housing, something well within responsible budgeting guideline suggestions, and yet now that we’re here we feel it slowly slipping away. February is still due, March is now upon us, and who knows when either UI benefits or a new job will finally bring the next check into our mailbox. So I finally put my pride aside and applied for food stamps, because my children need food on the table more than they need my stubborn self reliance.

A Popular Internet Meme

A Popular Internet Meme

Now I suddenly find myself stepping into the role of an unpopular stereotype: the iPhone mom in the food stamps line. I admit it, Im terrified to answer calls on my shiny gold iPhone when I’m in the social services building or even in the grocery store line. I’ve even gone so far as to turn my wedding ring upside down so only the band is visible, the stone hidden away from view. I know what people may think: “how can you have an iPhone and claim to need food stamps?” “How can you have ANY nice things but then expect the hardworking taxpayers to pay your bills? ” And I get it: it’s hard to think that while you’re working so hard, trying desperately to create a future for your own family, that somebody else expects you to pay for theirs. And yet, here I am – forced to abandon my pride and accept the help that is often less than willingly given, knowing full well how many people may think we don’t deserve it.

The truth? Even people with good jobs who keep to the budget and make the “right” choices with their money can end up in situations they never expected, and sometimes by no fault of their own. In this new economy our story is FAR from unique. Thousands of people who have worked hard, spent money responsibly, and haven’t taken a vacation in years are finding themselves very suddenly and unexpectedly struggling to put food on their table. Gone are the days when we can assume that anyone that’s willing to work hard can make a good life for themselves. It’s no longer as simple as pulling yourself up by your bootstraps or simply altering your budget. My husband had a great job, made smart choices, always put into his retirement responsibly, and we aren’t exactly buying luxury cars or designer bags around here. Most notably my husband and I haven’t actually taken a vacation since our honeymoon – and that was over 6 years ago.

Why am I sharing all this? Why even feel the need to justify our situation? My hope is that by sharing the reality of our own situation, and how difficult it has been to even admit we need government assistance at all, that people would see that these unflattering archetypes we so easily mock represent real people with real stories. From everyone I’ve seen and spoken to in a situation like mine, one thing has been consistent: nobody PLANS to live on government assistance. Trust me when I say you aren’t getting enough to live comfortably, just enough to keep your pantry from running empty. So when you see that mom with a nice purse using her WIC coupons, or you see that man talking on his iPhone at the social services office, try not to judge. For many, needing help is a temporary situation they never expected. Even if they sold their phone or pawned their nice purse, it wouldn’t be enough to fix things anyways. Sometimes, when you’re living on so little and going without so much, it’s those little things you hold on to that help you believe you can get back there someday. They may be remnants of an old life, where the budget more than provided for them. They may be a gift from someone better off, someone who can easily afford to spoil a good friend.  And for some, the harsh reality is that they may always be struggling, no matter how hard they work or how much they try. For those people in particular I would pray our hearts would have compassion over judgment, and would recognize than when your whole life is spent in a position of sacrifice, you need to have some small comforts, some little joys to make life worth living.

fear and faithAs far as the Tait family is concerned, I trust that God has a plan for this desert season we find ourselves in. One thing for certain is that when we receive food stamps, or a donation from a friend to help pay the bills, it’s so much easier to directly recognize God’s provision. When we have a good job and collect those paychecks? Then it’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we earned it ourself, the pride that a sense of ownership and well earned entitlement can bring, and its too easy to forget who our provider really is. When you have no choice to remove yourself and your hard work from the equation, the first thing to go is that pride: the illusion is shattered, and you see each and every cent for what it really is – mana from heaven. We are immensely blessed, and we trust that God will keep providing for our needs in ways we never expect or imagine. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s scary right now – its downright terrifying. But real faith exists only in the presence of real fear. When we’re sure of our next step, its not faith that guides us, but common sense. Faith and fear aren’t mutually exclusive. No, faith and fear live in a beautiful intimacy, totally intertwined until you cant tell where one begins and the other ends.

So for now we focus on living authentically, and being open about wherever God takes us in this story. Perhaps an incredible new job is just on the horizon. Perhaps the lean times will continue and Gods miraculous provision will keep being displayed in unexpected places. I wont pretend I know the plan, in fact I will openly admit I dont have the foggiest idea what it is at this point, but I don’t have to know it to trust it. I know HIM, and I know His promises, and thats enough for now. Every time I look at the tattoo on my wrist I’m reminded of this verse which keeps us moving forward each day in that trust:

“And to Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we ask or imagine according to His power than is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

 

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**UPDATE: BOBBY WILL BE STARTING A NEW JOB ON 4/13! PRAISE THE LORD FOR HIS PROVISION!!!!**

More Than A Buzzword

If you’re fairly present on social media like I am, you may have noticed some really positive words are trending lately. Words like authentic, and intentional, and vulnerable – they’ve all been reaching their veritable status buzzwords and are now being hashtagged at a fever pitch. It seems fairly evident that people are growing increasingly weary of the constant facade and are tired of being bombarded with picture perfect highlight reels of seemingly perfect lives on social media. So we carve these words into the covers of our journals or buy beautiful hand lettered prints on Etsy, determined to apply their virtues as we embrace the new year.

And for many, thats where it stops.

Because reality is that these are incredibly demanding words. They fly in the face of all that we value as a modern society and demand that we live in a radically countercultural way to everyone and everything around us. And for most of us, thats just simply not what we signed up for.

authenticity

I mean sure, we like the IDEA of “intentional,” and we want people to SEE us “authentic,” but are we really ready to sign up for turning our entire existence upside down to dedicate ourselves to words that so wholly refute most everything we have built our lives on?

And so countless women across Instagram throw their hair into a strategically messy ponytail, put on their makeup but skip those last steps of eyeliner and gloss, and take 3-4 outtakes before finding the perfect selfie to hashtag #therealme

Moms all over Facebook straighten up their living rooms, leaving a few toys scattered just so, and post a half-truth update about needing to be #authentic about the way their house isn’t actually perfect.

Ugly, gross, embarrassing truth time? I’ve DONE this. For my own personal confession, I present to you Exhibit A in the case against me for my own pseudo-authenticity. Last year I posted this photo to Instagram:

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I captioned it, “Authenticity Moment” and went on to talk about how important it was to show our real lives on social media and not be afraid to show our messes. And sure, there are a few dishes in the sink here, and the paper towel roll needs refilling, but seriously? You want to see a REAL authenticity moment? THIS is what my sink actually looks like sometimes:

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Y’all. I CANT EVEN. Feel free to call me out for that one, because I *know* I deserve it.

We are selling ourselves short if we really think this is the best we can do. Authenticity is so much more than a buzzword. Being Intentional? Its hard work: taking every thought captive, and making every choice with a real thought to our values and goals. And being vulnerable? Its probably the most intense of them all – baring our flaws in all their glory so that HIS glory can shine through. Its easier said than done, but it certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do them either.

Pseudo-authenticity isn’t helping anyone. Can we all just agree to stop cleaning up our houses for company and then saying “oh sorry for the mess” when they walk in? Can we actively try to look at our social media and consciously reflect our lives in their most authentic state? Can we stop simply lettering these words across our coffee mugs and surrender ourselves to them in a real and radical way? Or maybe for some of us its a simple as promising not to keep offhandedly hash tagging these life altering words until we’re wholly ready to see our lives transformed into something unrecognizable.

I can promise you this, if you dedicate yourself to discovering the height and the depth of words like these: it may not mean suddenly uprooting and moving to another state, or jumping into a new career, or putting your life online for the world to see – that happens to be my story, and yours may look nothing like it – but it WILL be utterly transformative. Life as you know it will change in every facet of your existence, and nothing will ever be the same.

Guest Contributor: Christene Logesky

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Grace. Oh, this word grace. I always thought I knew what it meant. Grace is the whole message of Jesus and the price He paid! How could I not know what grace means? I look back to one year ago and I see the shift. It was like the Lord grabbed my hand and said, “I want to take you on a journey. This journey may be painful and it may be uncomfortable, but I want to reveal what grace REALLY is.” Sometimes I think if God would actually tell us what He is going to do, we would just run! I think He knew I would run in this case. I would have said, “Never. Not for me. I can’t. I won’t.”

AndrewChrissy_Port_0141Last year Andrew and I took a huge leap of faith and decided to take a trip to California to train together for our business. We knew this would be crucial for our future and the investment would be more than worth it. It also meant we would have to leave our one year old daughter for an entire week. That alone was a huge leap for me! Our finances were short every month and Andrew had just received news of a pay cut. Though everything seemed to be screaming “no” to us, we knew that this was something we just had to do. We had peace that God would provide and He did (that is for another story though)! While attending the conference, I learned about another conference in Georgia. I also found out the PRICE and immediately thought “absolutely not!” We just took this HUGE leap of faith to get to California and now I am thinking about going to another conference? I remember saying to Andrew, “Earth to reality! Yes we are in California right now, but life is not always paradise. We can’t afford it!” I also remember telling myself, “You don’t even like women! Why would you go to a women’s conference?” Women gatherings have always made me feel uncomfortable and I have never been able to relate to them. I have always been the girl who had a million guy friends and enjoyed football over fashion and beauty. So why would I want to attend this conference?

The day we get home we find out my car was broken down and needed several hundred dollars of repairs. We received Andrew’s first check with the pay cut and life came crashing back down as we walked back in the door from our trip to paradise. My husband persisted that I enroll for the conference. He kept saying, “You should go!” Usually he is the one that is saying, “Heck no sister. We have no money!” This time, faith was rising in him and he believed deeply. So I put Emlyn down for a nap and after his persistence I agreed to go look at the website and figure out the bottom dollar. I remember plopping down on my chair and slamming the mouse down. I was mad. I was angry that I had to feel guilty. How could I spend money on a conference when we needed to fix our car? We need to put food on the table! What will our life look like with a pay cut now? I felt so selfish! And lastly I thought maybe this is my way out of it. Maybe I shouldn’t go because I wont have fun anyways! After all, this is a women’s conference! I remember thinking, “I am awful. Get it together! You need to get over this and go! Lack of money is one thing to worry about but get over being uncomfortable!” My computer started to load and all of the emails started popping up one by one. The last email came up on my screen and paused. It was like time had stopped. I felt like that little notification window was up for 2 minutes straight. My mouth dropped! Why was the founder of the conference messaging me? How did she get my e-mail? I just heard about this conference a few days ago! I hurry to open the email and my eyes immediately swelled with tears! Someone had paid my way to the conference! That’s right. Here I am arguing with God and He says, “No, you should go!”

Walk Through November Headshots-Walk Through November Headshots-0087Fast forward to September and I am in absolute awe! I am at this conference for free, soaking up the Georgia sun and sipping on sweet tea. At this point I realize have traveled to California and Georgia all in the same year and it was all by God’s grace! While I am there, I hear a message from Mary Marantz about the lies we believe about ourselves. I wrote down my lies. The same lies I have told myself since my eighth grade teacher blurted them out to me: “I am dumb, I will be rejected, and no one will listen.” For the first time in my life I started to tell myself the truth. I started to tell myself what GOD said about me instead of that quiet, but nagging voice. It wasn’t but a few months later that I was riding in the car to capture a wedding and I told Andrew, “I think I love to write. Like, I actually would like to start a blog.” I don’t know where it came from. It shocked me even when I said it! I said to Andrew “WHO AM I?” and laughed it off. What shocked me more was his response. “You should do it!” Ok, again I am always an idea machine and he usually gives me the crazy eye roll with a “Here we go again!” and instead I get a, “You should do it!” I started to process this thought more and I realized that because I believed lies about myself……then my mind could never travel farther than these lies. If I thought for a minute about writing anything, my mind would quickly travel to, “You are too dumb! This is not for you!” and then move on. When I focused on the truth, the mental road blocks in the way of my dreams came crashing down. I realized that previously I had always thought my brokenness was my only reality. I thought those roadblocks were as far as I would ever travel. I thought I was living in grace before. I always thought I don’t have to like women or work with women. I don’t have to ever write. I just will stick with this right here and skip the rejection. Can you believe I thought that was grace in my life?

The Lord quickly showed me that instead of muttering my frustrations to Him about women, I needed to realize that the reason they rub me the wrong way is because I know there is grace for their brokenness. I have always had the attitude towards women like, “Suck it up! It is not that big of a deal! Why do you complain so much?” This made me think that I was just not cohesive with other women. Instead, in this moment, I realized that what I was so frustrated with was a lack of understanding His grace in their lives. I KNOW that they don’t HAVE to walk in the lies they believe. I know that they CAN be brave! HE quickly revealed to me: “Chrissy, I want you to write. I want you to make a place that will reveal to women MY grace. I want you to get over yourself and realize that I have revealed something to you FOR MY GLORY and not for you to get angry about. I want you to create a place that will show them WHO I say they really are just like I am doing with you now.” That night we drove home and as I looked up at the stars in awe of this revelation, it came to me  -“Gracefully You.” I cried as I looked at the beauty of the sky. How is it that the God who just poured grace on me like a giant waterfall was already calling me to walk out His grace? That night was the first time in my life I believed I was more because of grace.

As I look back over this last year, I realize He had taken me all over the country on a journey. One year ago I was clueless to grace! I didn’t know that grace would set me free from never feeling “enough.” I didn’t realize that my disconnection with women actually stemmed from my own brokenness. I didn’t realize that the things that rub me the wrong way are actually the things that God has given me the grace to do. Not only that, but they are the things He has made me to do! The Gracefully You Project was birthed out of His grace. It is the easiest thing I have ever done because I have allowed grace to FILL me. I no longer apply grace like a Band-Aid but instead I let it be the very thing that overflows from within me.

I encourage you to rest in the fact that Jesus loves you right where you are! He listens to your muttering and complaints…. and He sheds grace. Don’t let the lies you believe hold you back any more. Are you struggling to find purpose in your life? Ask yourself: “What are the lies I believe about myself?” Don’t stop there; find out what God says instead. Find out the truth – that is His grace in your life. He knows who you really are and His grace loves you WHERE you are. More importantly, His grace is so good that it promises not to leave you the way you are. It overflows in you and silences your deepest inner critic. You are worth it. Your dreams are worth it. Go remove those roadblocks and travel further than you ever have because of grace.

Gracefully Yours,

Chrissy Logesky

Christene Logesky is one-half of Andrew and Chrissy Photography. Her and her husband Andrew are full-time youth pastors in Greensburg, PA as well. She is also a mommy, blogger, and public speaker. Her newest venture is The Gracefully You Project. She plans to reach and empower women by sharing women’s stories of honest struggles with “BUT there was grace” moments. She hopes to create a community full of grace for women to come be themselves and to be equipped with bravery to fight for what they were made to do!