Through My Daughter's Eyes

Watch out world...there's another beauty hunter on the loose! My youngest daughter, Laura Finley, took off on her bike in search of a horse...desperate to see if it would come near to her. Here's what she captured with her little camera this evening:

Isn't this beautiful? No fancy camera or lens, just a pure heart in search of God's glory. Sigh. I'm proud to be her mama!

Happy weekend!

A Little Beauty Hunting in Franklin

Beauty hunting with a camera in hand always does my heart good.
Here's what my eyes are seeing in my new hometown of Franklin, Tennessee! 

White steeples and rolling hills.
{This one belongs to Christ Presbyterian.}

The winding Harpeth River off of Moran Road.

Now that is a serious barn!

One of the many horse farms on Moran Road.

I could gaze at these beautiful mamas and babies all day long.

My favorite intersection: Moran Road at Old Natchez Trace.
{So much greener than three months ago.}

I'm still pinching myself that I get to live off of this beautiful, historic road.

I bet this old cabin has an incredible story.

I'm fascinated by the history of the land that surrounds me.

This girl cracked me up as she read the signs
out loud in her best Southern Belle accent!

She's loving her new yellow wedges from Target.
{Can't believe I caved and let her get wedges! She looks 18!}

The most beautiful things I've seen around these parts!

And a few shots from Nashville,
just 20 miles up the road.

Thanking God this wasn't the last time we saw our girls.
They were feeling a bit too free and adventurous and took off running...
in a huge park, on a 2.5 mile trail, in a place we'd never been.

We lost them for 48 minutes.

I should've freaked out, but as I prayed, a supernatural peace came over me.
I asked God to send them a helper. We were two minutes from calling
the police when a young woman led my girls out of the woods.
Those crazy girls were on a great adventure. We all are.

On another note...
during my first days here, I was feeling disoriented
and on the verge of tears at every turn.
Too much newness.

I decided the best remedy was to visit familiar stores.
I found them at Hill Center Green Hills.
{A super cool spot in Nashville.}

I didn't buy a thing...just walked around and basked in the familiarity.

Anthropolgie and Whole Foods...right next to each other!
{This is what I love about Franklin...so country, yet so close to city things!}

The juice bar reminded me of the old Shepherd Whole Foods in Houston!
{Apple, kale, parsley, ginger and lemon is my favorite combo.}

And a separate Whole Body store across the street.

My girls loved this place!
{And I love that we can find so many natural products all in one spot!}

More cute shops at Hill Center.

I'm not a big shopper {surprising, I know},
but a few familiar stores went a long way to help me feel at home.

At the end of the day, the country is where my soul sings.
{Who knew this city girl belonged in the country?}
Back out to Franklin!

Beauty abounds.
There's no way I'll ever be able to capture all,
but I'll sure have fun trying!


I'm praying for all of you who emailed me
and am honored that you would ask. 


Finding Your Voice

UGH!!! How frustrating and ironic that yesterday I wrote my heart out in a post called Finding Your Voice, and today, every word is lost. If it were an ordinary post, I wouldn't care. I'd just move on and write something else. But I was brave and bold and honest in that post. I wanted to encourage you to find your voice...and wanted to tell you why it matters.

So to wake up this morning and find that all those words have disappeared feels like more than an internet fluke. It feels like an attack. While cursing the internet, I was reminded that there's an enemy who comes to steal, kill and destroy {John 10:10}. That thief stole my words! He'd love for me to lose my voice...to give up and keep quiet. And believe me, I'm tempted.

Stormy waters at Blue Mountain Beach.

Rewriting a straight-from-the-heart post is hard. It feels less genuine somehow. Because of the way I write, there's no way it will come out the same way twice. But Lord, if the words are from you, I know you can speak them again. Be my words. {Always my prayer before I write on the blog.}

Deep breath. Here we go.

Sweet blog friends, thank you for receiving my Closure post with such tenderness and compassion. I am lighter because of having spoken up about my heart's hurts, and encouraged because of the way you responded to my honesty. A double blessing!

But I'll be honest, writing your heart out is risky, especially when it involves speaking up about hidden aches and pains. Why speak up when you know it will rock the boat? Why tell the stories of how your heart was crushed when it may result in rejection? Why write something on a blog when some of the people involved might read it and dislike it? Or worse, dislike me?

The people pleaser fears what other people think so much that she'll ignore her own heart in order to make others happy. She wants to be liked and loved so desperately that she'll silence her voice and listen to every other voice out there. She doesn't want to rock the boat or speak too boldly out of fear that she'll be rejected, criticized or left alone. In all the performing, striving and pleasing, she forgets who she is and loses her voice. That was me.

But God has been doing a healing work in me {though counseling, prayer, journaling and reading}, and this is what I've learned along the way: you have to acknowledge the hurt before you can receive the healing. 

That's why I had to write about those last days in Houston...because I wanted to move toward healing and freedom rather than let the hurt build up in silence. You don't always have to speak your heart out loud or in public {I usually just write it out in my journal or wrestle it out in prayer}, but for some reason, I got the sense I was supposed to share those last days in Houston here on the blog. Maybe to encourage one of you? Or maybe so that it would lead to this post? I have no idea. But the important thing is that I found my voice and am free from the bitterness and burden that so often builds when you keep quiet.

One more thing that the recovering people pleaser needs to know: you can't control the response of others. There will always be people who don't like what they hear, and that's okay. {It's usually their issue, not yours.} If your motives are pure {I try to check my heart with God before speaking out loud}, then speaking your heart will bring freedom, not fear.

I mentioned John 10:10 at the beginning of this post. It starts with a thief who comes to steal and destroy, but do you know how it ends? With Jesus proclaiming that He has come to give us life to the FULL. I want that kind of life! {More on that in Living Again.}

Here's the ultimate truth on finding your voice: YOU ARE WORTH IT. Your heart is worth it. You, sweet friend, are of inestimable value. Do you believe that? If you do, then finding your voice will follow. If you don't believe it, start writing, praying or speaking your heart out loud. Let the words flow. You'll find yourself in there, and guess what? You'll like her. The real you - hurts, heartache, struggles and all - is far more beautiful than the safe, protective false self we so often put out there for others to see.

If all of that sounds way too scary, will you email me so I can pray for you by name? I know even the thought of emailing me may sound scary, but I want you to know that someone is speaking your name out loud to the Lord. Not that He needs me to whisper your name. He knows you, sweet child!

And one last word for you, written in the sand at the beach...

Lots of love and hugs to you today,

P.S. Until I wrote my Closure post, I was so stuck in my grief that I didn't have eyes to see the beauty of our new hometown. I didn't pick up my camera a single time, even though I know how therapeutic beauty hunting with a camera is for me. But this week, my eyes are darting wildly at the beauty around me, so if the internet situation improves, I'll be overloading you with photos real soon!



Hello, sweet friends! I'm longing to connect with you and want to keep sharing our story, but I've been in a bit of an emotional coma lately. You should've seen me at the beach. I hardly spoke a word! It's a good thing my girls were so enchanted by the beauty God had to offer, because this mama didn't have a thing left to give.

Enjoying our first beach vacation.

For me, healing comes through tears and words. I so often fight back the tears, but they're starting to fall, and I'm convinced that's a good thing. Now it's time to let the words flow. Writing is like deep breathing for me: life giving and very much needed. So here we go...a good, long exhale of words.

We're officially in Franklin, but before I can embrace our arrival here, I've got to go back and process our departure. In a nutshell: it was gut-wrenching. Maybe that's how it's supposed to feel when you leave the only hometown you've ever known {I lived in the same neighborhood my entire life!}, but I think the harder thing for me is that we didn't have any real closure. I think I've been grieving that and need to write it out...to let it go.

We loved our movers, VIP Moving & Storage.

Laura Finley with Powell, owner of VIP Moving.

One of my nephews in the driver's seat.

The truck was a huge hit with our sweet neighbors!

And a big hit with my husband, too.
{His boyhood dream was to become a semi truck driver!}

Another of my cute nephews.
{And yet another boy excited about the truck!}

Holding a camera in my hands provided me with some temporary joy in our final days, but I'm still struggling with closure. I think it has to do with some of the strange things that happened at the end. First was the sale of my husband's clinic. When the deal was done, my husband was shown the door. No transition, no contact with patients, no seeing them one last time to tell them the news in person, no saying goodbye to the people who helped make him the amazing doctor he is today. I can't say much more about it without hurting someone {and to be honest, I still don't understand why it all happened that way}, but let's just say that the lack of transition was hurtful.

Saying goodbye to sweet Elsa was like saying goodbye to family.

A second strange thing: my parents left for their five months in Maine just days before we moved. I didn't know how strange that would feel until after they left. I don't blame them for wanting to escape to cooler weather and beautiful views, but I wish they could've been there to lend a helping hand {packing was a lot harder than I imagined!} and to say goodbye. It was weird to stay in their house that last night without them in it...and to drive away without anyone there to wave goodbye.

Our family room on moving day...with my husband still packing like a machine!

And a final strange thing: the new owners started moving in before we were finished moving out. In fairness to them, we expected to be out by the end of June 1, but a truck breakdown put our movers 5 hours behind schedule, so we asked for more time on June 2. When the new owners started brining things over in a steady flow that morning, I didn't know what to say. Looking back, I wish we had spoken up and asked for a few more hours of privacy. I never had a chance to do a final walkthrough or close the door behind me. No closure. {I ended up leaving church outfits hanging in the master closet, and didn't realize it until 6 days later when I was getting dressed!} I wish them every happiness in that beautiful home, but note to self: we'll let our sellers move out entirely before we drop a single thing off at the house...even if it means waiting a few hours longer.

Just writing all that made me feel a little short of breath, and I think my shoulders rose about an inch! DEEP BREATH. At least my husband had the idea of huddling together the night before the movers came to pray and give thanks for the years God gave us in our Arnold Street home.

Thanking God for the blessing of our Houston home,
and for all the memories we created there.

Laura Finley sprawled out in her empty room.

Hallie looking out her favorite window one last time.

Closure has always been a big thing for me. I like to have it. Not having it hurts. I know I've got to let the strange lack of closure go, but it's hard. I tried writing these things in the sand at the beach, hoping that as the waves washed my words away, it would wash my grief away, too.

At least I got to say goodbye to my sister and her cute family. We hope to see them in Maine real soon!

We've always been night and day.

The girls with Uncle Josh.

Hugs goodbye.

Writing in the sand was so therapeutic for me.

When we arrived in Franklin, I wasn't sure how to feel. The excitement of dreaming was hiding behind a mix of grief and fear. Grief feels good and normal; fear feels like a thief...a stealer of joy. I won't go into all the details, but here's what I know about fear: it's not from God. So I surrender the what ifs again and again and cling to words of truth.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us God plan is to give us a hope and a future.

Speaking of powerful words, we visited this church on Sunday, and the pastor said something I'm still digesting:
"Genuine faith is nothing but an increasing desperation for Jesus Christ."
One thing's for sure: all the strange things we experienced during our final days in Houston along with all  the disorientation I'm experiencing in a new hometown has increased my dependence on Jesus more than anything else in my entire life. And if that's the gift of all this strangeness, then I receive it and give thanks for it.

And there it is, my sweet friends. THANKSGIVING. With a steady stream of words and verbal processing, my heart has finally arrived. And one thing I've learned:

Thanksgiving is where the heart becomes truly free.

As we move forward, putting one foot in front of the other and walking by faith to embrace this huge change in our lives, I know our hearts will begin to overflow with thanksgiving.

Today, I'm thankful for friends who have opened their hearts and home to us here in Franklin. We'd be falling apart in isolation without them. It feels safe and good to be in their midst. And I'm thankful for the friend who helped me pack my most personal spaces {my studio, bathroom and closet} on the last day. There's no way I could've gotten those boxes on the moving truck without her.

And YOU, sweet blog friends. I'm thankful for your steadfastness as you follow along and encourage us in this dream. It's funny...during a time when everything feels new and unfamiliar, you feel so familiar...despite the fact that I haven't even met most of you in person! I'm happy to be in your company!

Hugs and love,

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