I have a much smaller online presence at the moment – as far as FACEBOOK is concerned. I created a new account to rid my life of the drama and the insecurities that I have been feeling. It’s helped – a little. But the bad part about that is that I’m not reaching as many people as I was – in terms of photography exposure or sharing the love of Jesus!
But I still have this blog as an outreach – so here goes!
I feel that I’ve always talked about my faith and shared it with you but I don’t think I’ve ever really told you how MUCH Jesus loves you and wants you. And how I found that out.
When we were little my grandma Trout took us to Sunday School. I don’t remember the first time I asked Jesus into my little heart – but I am told that I did. In 1990 our grandpa Trout died of a heart attack – Christmas day – it was awful. He was young and it was so unexpected. I was 9 – which meant my dad was 27 when he lost his dad. I remember the day so well. It didn’t snow – we got bikes for Christmas and rode them around the trailer park in our winter coats. Samm and I got NKOTB barbie dolls. I got a Magic Nursery baby that I named Kevin. It turns out he had a twin sister that was sent to me in the mail – I named her Kristen. I was standing in the hallway when the phone rang. My mom answered and I could tell by the tone of her voice that something was wrong. Very wrong. We all sat on the couch and cried with my dad. Christmas has never been the same. It was the first time I saw my dad cry. The second would be when he dropped me off at college.
Little history – my parents were young when they met. My mom was a senior and my dad a junior. They got pregnant as my dad’s senior year started. They got married in January of 1981 – my dad turned 18 in March – I was born in May – he graduated in June. My dad went to work at a local factory while my mom stayed home with me and they had Samm 15 months after I was born. Derek and I are two months shy of being 4 years apart. When we were young – my dad drank. My mom drank too – but after she had kids she stopped. I can remember a handful of occasions where my parents would fight while/because my dad was drinking. My dad will tell you that he didn’t drink for leisure or because he liked the taste. He drank to get drunk. My mom’s parents drink. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my grandpa drinking anything but beer. I can remember countless occasions and parties at my grandparents where they were drunk. My mom did not want to live this life. She did not want us to live this life. She told my dad several times that it was alcohol or his family. Thankfully he chose the latter.
After his dad died – he sat down and read the Bible (my dad is probably the most read person I’ve ever met). He didn’t want to believe. He didn’t want to “be saved” – he wanted to read it and then put it down for the piece of fiction it probably was. But that’s not what happened. He read it and thought – CRAP. I HAVE to believe. I can’t NOT believe after reading it. We were all baptized as a family when I was in middle school – which is when I really remember trying to actively live a life honoring Jesus.
I always invited my very best friend to youth group. We went on the trips together – mostly to be near the guys we thought were so cute (sorry aunt L) (totally honoring Jesus – right?) (as a quick side-note – the first guy I had a real crush on was named Jared – crazy!) ANYWAY – I had a purple teen Bible that I took notes in and tried to remember to do devotionals. For me at that time loving and living Jesus meant not doing the “bad” things that my friends were. Drinking – smoking – having sex – skipping out on the movies – swearing. Drinking was NEVER something I wanted to be a part of. I watched my mom go through it with my dad and with her parents. Besides – we were babies. But I was ALWAYS there for my friends. I was always the mom that took care of everyone – and I’m not complaining – it’s the role I wanted and loved. My parents had ONE rule. Don’t lie to me. If you lie to me – you have no more privileges. So I didn’t lie to them. We went to the Sayre Theater once and everyone wanted to leave and walk around town during the movie – I was like – NO WAY! My mom will kill me. Oh – she’ll never know. But I couldn’t just sit in the theater by myself – right? So I sat in the park – on a bench – in the dark. And then when my friend’s mom picked us up – I called my mom and said I was sick. She came and got me and I just cried. I said – I’m so sorry – we left the theater and you told me not to. I didn’t know what to do. I was such a rebel right? Anyway – that is my middle school existence.
In high school I stopped hanging out with those friends but still didn’t take part of the drinking and messing around. I always stood up for the underdog – or tried to. I got picked on and shoved to the side. But I always stood up for what I thought was right. And no one ever noticed. Or so I thought. My drafting teacher pulled me aside once and told me that a guy in our class had mentioned me to him after class. He said – what you see is what you get with Danielle – she does what she means and means what she says – and you ALWAYS know what her beliefs are and she always sticks to them. It’s awesome. Now – that same guy picked on me quite a bit – but I was making a difference.
In college I met a girl named Trudy. She was my RA. She took me in. I was so homesick and so miserable. I would bring my Bible in at night and read. She would ask me questions and we would look them up together. I would invite her to church with my cousins – she never came – but I always asked. I transferred to Mansfield in the spring and we stayed in touch through emails. So many emails. At the end of the semester she called me. So scared. She had just read the first Left Behind book. She said – the only person I thought to call was you. I don’t want to be left behind when Jesus comes back. What do I do? So I told her. You ask Jesus to be yours. You ask Him into your heart and life. You love Him. You are called to serve Him. That’s what you do. You tell Him that you are a sinner and that you need to be saved. You need to be saved from hell. You need Him to save you. You accept His precious gift of life that He gives us. He died for us. DIED. He was born so that He could die. So that we wouldn’t miss out on an eternity with God. That’s what you do. And she did. She was baptized later that summer. She was the first person that I ever helped come to know Jesus – to accept Him and His love into her heart! It was amazing!
We stayed in touch and helped each other through the rough times – the mistakes we made – the tears and the hurt. The mistakes – did I say that one? I moved into the suite and met the people that would form most of my college memories. I met Josh and we became fast friends. I tried my best to show Jesus’ love to them – failing ridiculously at times – of course. I fell into the role of mom again and took care of my roommates. Josh and I were tight – I found out his dad was a pastor. He started coming to FCA and CCC with me and we formed a really awesome group of friends. I loved Josh – but differently than he loved me. I was his dear dear friend. I hung onto hope – still being best friends. I made more mistakes. Several. On my 21st birthday I drank little bottles of Jose Cuervo – cus it WAS my 21st birthday after all. I felt like CRAP. We went up to the university to shoot pool and I laid on the couches. I cried. I apologized. I cried. I am NOT a fun drunk.
I met Jared and like most moments in my life – drama ensued. Jared was breaking up with his girlfriend – we got together not shortly after – I was still had feelings for Josh. Lots of people were hurt and mad. Our friends eventually forgave us. They came back – most of them. They were going out one night and wanted me to go with – but I don’t go to parties – and I certainly don’t drink – that was evidenced earlier. Stupidity followed – to prove a point I drank. To prove the point that I was NOT fun. Josh was there the night of my 21st – he tried to reassure everyone that it was NOT a pretty sight. But I still did it. I went to the party. Jared was waiting in the dining hall for me to get back. I was crying and apologizing for getting drunk. Crying cus I was a horrible person. Josh looked at our friends and said – see? Told you so. That was the last time I drank. Jared and I got engaged a few months before graduation. We had a party at Jared’s parents and Josh gave me a card that said – thanks for being my light in the dark. I cried and hugged him – realizing that I wouldn’t be seeing one of my best friends every day – like I had for the past two years. Josh was a groomsman in our wedding – we are going to his wedding next month. I still cherish those memories and know that God put me in that suite for a reason. I messed up and made mistakes. But I was also the light I was hoping I would be.
Jared and I got married. We hosted different friends and family when they needed a place to crash for the night or weekend or month. Or semester. I mothered – like I always do. I messed up – like I always do. We were very comfortable with Jesus. Not going outside the box – not being challenged. Then I thought I was dying. I had horrible pain in my head. The left side of my face would go numb. I thought I was having a stroke. I would feel so much pressure in my head that I wanted to cut it open. For the first time in my ENTIRE life – I got on the floor and prayed. Crazy Christians do that – not me. I couldn’t believe that I was brought to the point of laying on the floor to cry out to God. I had more and more conversations with Him. Asking Him to help me – begging Him to help me. Praying I would make it through the day. After two months my doctor diagnosed me with TMJ disorder – very severe TMJ disorder. At last – an answer. But not an answer to the pain. For two years I tried it all – steroids – mouth pieces – acupuncture – herbal remedies – nothing helped. For two years I prayed and prayed and spoke Psalm 46 over and over and over and over and over. I pasted it to my desk at home and work. I had to remind myself EVERY DAY that God would help me. That He would save me at daybreak – just like the verse promised. I had never experienced such reassurance as when I would read that verse. I would put the whole thing here – but I want you to go look it up. Google it – whatever. It was the first place I opened my Bible and it was meant for me. Exactly for me. I felt for one of the first times in my life that God was really speaking to me. After two years of absolute awfulness – I was referred to Lewisburg to Dr. Robinson. He gave me the “retainer” that I wear now and improved my life 200% – and Jared’s life. He loves Jesus and I totally believe that God ordained our meeting. I blogged about it a little – way back.
Then we got pregnant! Then we miscarried. Then we were very very angry. Then we were very very depressed. For a very long time. It was a very dark time and I was VERY angry with God. I had arguments with Him. I won’t go into much detail – if you haven’t read the blogs – you are welcome to go back to the archives and read. They should be under baby barden or go back to March of 2009 and go from there. I blogged. People read. I blogged more. People read. I couldn’t believe that the hell we were going through would be of benefit to anyone. It was. I met SO many people who were also trying or had lost babies. I was able to photograph those people when they found out they were expecting. I was able to help them through their pain – pray for them and with them. I was able to converse with God without raising my voice nearly as often. I was able to share how Jesus loves me and you.
I was able to share a miracle. We got pregnant. We have an amazing baby boy. We’ve lost another but we hold onto Jesus – and each other. We are a little stronger than last time.
And now you are up to date on my life.
Life isn’t perfect. We all screw up. I think I’m right and you are wrong – most likely. When I am wrong – I will apologize – most likely. I am stubborn and sarcastic. I am confrontational. I will not allow you to walk all over me. I will defend myself and my family. I will agree to disagree but when you get mean and start throwing accusations – I’m not putting up with it. I am judgemental – even though I try VERY hard to not be – or at least keep that crazy at bay. I am loud. I am obnoxious. I like to be the center of attention. I like to be the boss. I love. I love my baby and my husband. I love my family and my friends. I love my readers and my clients. I listen. I encourage. I give great hugs. I pray. I don’t put up with ridiculousness. I am honest. I am loyal. I am confident – most of the time. I am passionate and emotional.
Most importantly I am loved. By Jesus. I am wanted. He died for me – and if I was the only person on the earth – He would have died for only me. I’m loved by my family and friends – but that doesn’t compare to how Jesus loves me. It never will.
Here’s the thing – people will fail you. Always. Your parents – your husband – your wife – your sister – your pastor – your best friend – your kids. Every time.
But Jesus NEVER does. EVER. He never forgets you – He never abandons you.
But Danielle – you miscarried TWO babies – don’t you feel like He forgot you? I did. But He didn’t. He was there – watching over us and holding that little babe’s hand in His.
But Danielle – what about my parents – they died – where was your God of love then? He was there. He is always there.
We live in a world that isn’t perfect. It’s sinful and broken. God created us with a free will. We chose sin. We wanted it all – who doesn’t? But those promises that satan was whispering in Eve’s ear were lies – they ALWAYS are. There is a battle for YOUR soul. God loves you but satan just wants to increase the population of hell – he hates you. He puts doubt in your mind. He stirs the pot. He asks the question – where is your God now? If this God loved you – He would have saved your baby or your parents – He doesn’t love you. In fact – no one REALLY loves you. Those are LIES.
There is a passage in Luke that my dad always brings up in response to questions like this. It talks about a tower falling and killing eighteen people. Were those eighteen people more guilty than all the others in Jerusalem? Jesus says NO! But unless you all repent – you will also perish. My dad sums it up like this – Hey Jesus – what about those people that died? What about that tower? Jesus says – here’s the thing – towers fall – people die – did they deserve it – no! But it happens. That’s why you need to be right with God. It could happen any time.
Because our world isn’t perfect – people get cancer – people are murdered – people are abused and abandoned. Babies are aborted – children are kidnapped. We live among thieves and liars and rapists and murderers and horrible people.
God loves us. He LOVES us. OH HOW HE LOVES US. Why can’t He stop the murdering and the abuse and the awfulness that is our world? Because we are sinners – because we chose sin. God didn’t create us to be drones – to be robots that bowed down to Him. He created us to love and to breathe and to choose. With that choice comes sin. It sucks. BUT HE LOVES US. He loves us SO much that He sent His son to earth. Born a sweet innocent baby – to take on my sin. Your sin. EVERY SINGLE SIN. Because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our horribleness – He died in our place. So that we could live. So that we could live forever in God’s presence. Without pain and anger and sin. Without fear and doubt and worry. A life full of worship and love.
We are here to love God and to love on each other. We are here to share this awesome news! God loves YOU! Accept His Son as your Savior. He will save you from hell. Admit your sins – your awfulness – ask Jesus to take them for you. Lay them down. He loves you and wants you. He is waiting.