Heart Writing


There’s so much weight in that word.


The weight of everything we are made to be.

It’s something I think everyone wrestles with at some point (or multiple points, or daily).

I think I’m more in the daily crowd.

Who am I?  What am I meant to be?  What should I be doing with my life?  My hands?  My gifts?

And that whispered fear {am I failing?}.

Oh, but with a God sovereign over all how can I fail?  He knows what he created me to be.  I’m here to discover His plan and to give Him glory.  And that brings comfort.  No matter what role I dip my toes in.

Yet, still there are so many roles I step into daily.
Small-group(s) Leader.
Garment maker.
Painter (at least of walls… very regularly)

It’s those roles that weaken my contentment with my calling to be His.
Those roles that cause the tears to fall when they become more important than savoring the fact that He is Worthy.
Of all the roles.  All the callings.

Capturing Grace, An Image at a Time

I was 9 years old when my mother gave me and my sister cameras.  I had broken my arm and we were headed to a local theme park.  I took two rolls of film from high in the air, of giant tissue paper flowers, bugs in the grass, and of my sister taking pictures of me. I waited anxiously at the Wal-Mart 1 hour photo thingy for my images to come back.

I was in awe that moments could be captured.  With my camera, I could make time stand still.

Greenville SC Baby Photographer

At 16, two very big things happened to me…..


I’m posting over at Elizabeth’s today for a Series she’s calling Photography Friday.  Come read the rest of this story here.

Preach the Gospel to Me

Preach the Gospel to Me

She sits down at my table to a plate of just barely warm eggs.  She’s tired and she has a long stressful day ahead of her.  It’s only 8 am.

“Let’s preach the gospel to each other.” She whispers with wild eyes.  “I’ll go first: He is in control.”

Over the course of just 2 minutes we rehearse at least the following truths of the gospel:

  • He loves us more than we can imagine.
  • He is working everything for our good, even if it hurts.
  • His name is Justice.  Even when we feel like we have not justice.
  • He will never leave or forsake us.
  • Our job isn’t to be perfect, but to repent, forgive, and love because we are loved.

And hours later I watch my kids climb trees and pick clover and completely ignore the park structures just 10 feet from us, I wonder about this exchange.  I wonder that we, like my children, ignore the specifically constructed playground of the gospel, in preference for pushing each other up the rough ladder of perfectionism. We whisper “Higher, higher.  Just pick yourself up again.”  Instead of “Run to Jesus.  He loves you.  It’s he who works in you.”

What if we stopped giving that piece of advice?  What if we stopped telling our stories under the guise to encourage?  What if we stopped pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps to try again and just cry ugly tears and ask a friend to simply preach the gospel to us?

What if we spent our waking hours preaching the gospel to each other?  To our husbands, to our children, to our friends, to the lady with mascara streaks standing in the ice cream aisle, and even to ourselves.

So tell me, friends, how can we preach the gospel this week?  Or how have you preached the gospel in the past?  I’m hungry to know how the gospel works out.

When you feel Small

Sometimes I feel so small.

Who am I to think that I can change the world through images and words?

I’m just one person.  The same person who asked her kids to “Just stop talking to me,” this morning and who right now wants nothing more than a few minutes of peace.  The baby is crying in the next room; I shouldn’t have let him have a morning nap despite his stayed-up-too-late crankiness.

I’m weary and I’m squeezing in a few minutes of writing before the afternoon explodes around my ears.  I really just want to lie down myself.  Lie down and ignore the calling.


Why do I think I can change the world (or even be a catalyst for change in one heart)?

The doubts plague me.

I bet they plague you, too.  You know that voice that says you’re a failure as you get angry for having to discipline a young one for the hundredth time.  Or reminds you that you can’t even get places on time with all three kids alive when you agree to write for a deadline. Or the voice that tells you there’s no one in the audience clapping… no, not one person, so you might as well pack up the whole mess and go home.

Yeah, that voice speaks to me, too.

Let me tell you a secret: Any voice that devalues your worth is not the voice of God.

The God who stretched out his hands on a tree to show you how much you were worth to him will not tear you down even as you fall again into sin and ‘failure’.  No, Jesus will wipe away your tears, ask you why you looked at the wind and the waves, and beckon you quietly to keep walking with Him in obedience.

I am small.  My audience of readers/clients here is very small.  But my real audience of One, He sits front row and quietly smiling to encourage me to keep doing what he made me to do.  Even when the rest of the voices in the audience are boo-hissing about this failure or that inadequacy or this sin problem or that very real limitation.

The God of the Universe, He delights in using the small foolish things in this world to confound the large powerful ones.  And I find joy most of all in this little phrase: “But God.”

So I’ll insert this phrase whenever I hear one of those voices devaluing my worth.

“Melissa, you’re a mess.  You just yelled at your kids, how could you ever be used to speak to another mom?”

But God. He can use me.  He can raise the dead things from my life for His glory.

“Melissa, that image sucks.  You should have opened the aperture up to get everyone in focus better.”

But God. He used this image to help me grow.  And the family loved it anyhow through His Grace.

“Melissa, you ought to just stop writing.  Stop tapping time from your family and home.  No one ever comments anyhow.”

But God, has called me to this work.  Not just the work of writing and photographing… but the work of obedience.  Because without obedience, all “but God’s” are impossible. Besides, the only “well done” I need is His.


Would you try with me, friends?  Would you try to seek the joy in your calling by telling those doubting, criticizing voices what the sovereign God of the universe is capable of?  Because really what greater joy is there in seeing a dead lifeless heart like mine transformed by the active words “But God.”

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Cor. 1:26-29

But God chose and called you and me in our weakness so that we might not boast in our own value.  It is because of our weakness that God can use us.  Because when we are weak, we know our only hope, our only value is in His abiding love. And that is where real joy in any endeavor lies.

Five Minute Friday: Bare

My clothes they’re all covered with ancient spit up stains, or grease, or wearing thin.  Things have yet to fit around my hips shaped rounder by the 3 children who ruin what clothes that do fit.  Some days I wonder how long it will be before I walk bare.

Motherhood is like that.  This constant sacrifice of time and money and personal space and even unstained clothing to bring the little lives to a fuller life.  I need nothing new, but they with their growing limbs spring ankles and tummies and wrists bare through outgrown clothing.  And the Lord provides for these little flowers the newer petals.

And yet there’s something in me that wishes to be clothed new.  Some sin in me that grows to scorn the 6 year old shirt that still looks good or the 11 year old shoes I’ve resoled once and need to do again.  Some quiet covetousness that seeps up from those bare sinful places and claims a place in my heart where they should never be.

I confess and try to lay bare in forgiveness and contentedness.

Five Minute Friday