Although it's still technically Spring, I do believe Summer has arrived! Longer days with plenty of sunshine, green grass, and fireflies. I'm so excited to fill my calendar with summertime shoots of kids, weddings, and families. Bring it on!
One of my recent shoots was with this woman. This is Cindy. She's smart. She's sassy. And she's beautiful! We met a church about six months ago. Since then I've been getting to know her, and the more I know, the more I like her! And like so many others, she has a story...a testimony...that I wanted to share.
"Growing up I had a good childhood with two parents who loved me more than anything. We began to move around a lot about my 4th grade year, and we found ourselves in Republic, MO, which is where I feel our foundation was.
My freshman year we went from "city folks" to "farm folks" in just a few short months when we moved to Eudora, MO. At first I didn't want to live on a farm. I didn't want to smell cows, and I surely didn't want to clean a barn! I didn't want to go to school in fear of everyone wearing overalls and no shoes (yes, this is what my dad let me believe that I would see on my first day...I still laugh to this day).
My father's sense of humor was hilarious, always playing, always wrestling and joking with us. But when he was serious, he was serious. Here is where I found who I really was. On this farm of 80 acres in a small two-story house. I was hooked on feeding animals, helping with cattle, breaking ponds for watering the animals. I fell in love with the outdoors and cannot thank my dad enough for the lessons it taught me and the character building this has done for me."
One of our stops was Cindy's childhood home, near Eudora. We drove down the familiar gravel road and pulled up to the home where she had created so many important memories...
"After graduating from this small-town school in Morrisville, Missouri, with the graduating class of 28, I began to really become interested in military and thought that's where I wanted to go. Well, at the age of 19 I became pregnant with my first son, Tylor, and decided I needed to just go to school and be a mom and a wife. Years go by and I have a second son, Dustin, who is on the autism spectrum. It was very challenging as a mom to try and understand what it was, let alone how to help my child. With very little resources we made it through and he is an amazing individual!
I began to grow and mature and change and found that my husband and I wanted different things. We were not the same as we were several years before. This led to divorce, which was very hard on my children...but I knew it was the right choice. Four years later I remarried a man who was prior military. He began to talk to me about how I should pursue a military career and he was very supportive.
In 2007 I enlisted into the Air National Guard. It was the beginning of a whirlwind! I went to basic training and was there for only one day when I received a call from the chaplain's office and was notified that my father had passed away. Devastation and depression sank in. I flew home where I buried my father and decided I would finish what I had started. I moved to Savannah to be closer to my base and I went back to basic training three short months later. I finished in 6 weeks and came home to find out my husband had not been very faithful.
The following year, 2008, was the roughest year of my life. I battled with depression, rejection, the loss of my father, and a custody battle. I went to court over my sons, and was forced to quit everything and move back to Bolivar, Missouri, 200 miles away in one day. I had no home, no job, and no family close to me. Finally, I caught a break and found a job three months later. I began to save and borrow money to finally get a place we called "home". I can still feel the tears of happiness on my cheek this day. We moved in with no furniture, no beds, not much at all...but we were at peace .
I found myself running into bad relationship after bad relationship, trying to find a way to cope with the rejection that I felt most my life. I just wound up hurting myself more and more. I found myself drinking a lot, going to parties, having a "good time"...just trying to drown all of the pain of so many losses.
One day I found myself in my garage, my head over my steering wheel crying out to God, 'Why, why, why do I continue to suffer from all these same alcohol involved bad relationships?' I said, 'God, I'm tired, why do I keep getting the same type of guys?' Clearly I heard God speak 'Why or how could I give you anything good when you are not good yourself.'
Two weeks later on September 22nd, 2013, at a small Baptist Church, God pulled me up from my face, pulled me by my arms to the altar of the church. On that day my life forever changed! I am now a Christian, living my life with Christ in me and serving a God that loves me, who thinks I'm wonderful, who thinks I'm good enough..."
I love and am truly inspired to hear the testimony of others. We all have walked through trials, valleys, whatever you want to call them. They make us who we are and they give us a story to share.
I would love to hear your story too...