Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Keeping the Peace


A few months ago I found myself wandering the streets of St. Augustine, camera dangling from my arm, feeling anything but peaceful. 

The brick and cobblestone streets are as familiar to me as my own neighborhood. I usually look forward to this relaxing, fun weekend but I feel a little disheartened this year. 

To lighten up, I set out with my nine-year-old niece to capture some of the town's scenery. Excited to be a photographer's assistant, Devon pulls on her boots and chooses one of her tiny purses to double as her camera bag {but all that fits inside it is one of my lens caps}. 

We've just gotten started on our photo junket when she asks for my camera. I hand it over, resisting the urge to warn her not to drop it. 



She runs ahead of me snapping photos. 

She shoots cannons and chains linked to parking lot posts, birds sitting on dead branches in scraggly palm trees, or anything else she thinks her older brother might like to see.


When I wrest my camera back, I shoot houses and doorways and waterways. 


We turn down a street and I spot the bay ahead of us. We walk beside the peaceful water filled with sailboats and my emotions suddenly change. I feel a tiny wave of hope. 


I know that while my eyes are only seeing the sea in front of me, my heart is craving something in the future that only God can see right now.

Maybe things aren't quite as impossible as I think.




Lisa Murray, a licensed marriage and family therapist, writes that’s it’s possible to cultivate inner peace while living in the midst of everyday circumstances and life’s challenges. 

In her book Peace for a Lifetime, she says peace isn’t just a fleeting feeling but a way of life. 

She shares her personal journey of understanding her emotions and learning to view them in a different light by welcoming and enjoying them. She eventually discovers the path that leads her to a life of hope, harmony and peace.
"Something happens when we leave the safety and comfort of home and go out to build our lives, to pursue our dreams and to conquer the world."  - Lisa Murray 

I know that in calm and difficult seasons, peace can be found. But sometimes it just comes a little later than I'd like it to.

At the end of January, maybe even in February, I finally chose my one word for this year. 

Peace. 

I wasn't sure this was really the word for me since my emotions haven't been particularly peaceful of late. Neither have my work, friendships or circumstances.

But maybe that's why I need it so much. To replace what I'm feeling about these storylines of my life with what I know to be true.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. -2 Thess.3:16
I need to feel peace, keep the peace, and make peace.

{Maybe you can relate?}




Sometimes peace comes only after you face what you’ve been fearing. 

When you decide to bravely walk through the door toward what you've long ago closed off and make your peace with it, it's a liberating sort of peace. 

When you realize you're stronger than you think, it's a powerful peace. 

And when you resolve to keep your heart open and tender, despite all your misgivings, it's a graceful peace.

So that day in St. Augustine when I went out with my camera in search of some peace, I found it, along with a morning full of happy memories shared with my niece to tuck in the scrapbook of my life. 

And as Devon so often tells me with all the wisdom of a nine-year-old, peace out.




I'm part of Lisa Murray's book launch team for Peace for a Lifetime. Learn more about the book here




I'm having coffee with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart and with Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista




24 comments:

  1. A cozy visit with you and Devon, your lens and this new-to-me book? Yeah ... I'm feeling all kinds of peaceful here, Valerie.

    I always leave here feeling refreshed. And today's no exception.

    ;-}

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    1. Linda,
      We always welcome you {Devon is part-time hostess here, too} and we love it when you feel refreshed, friend!

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  2. "To replace what I'm feeling about these storylines of my life with what I know to be true." <--- this is exactly what I've been at all last week...! Feelings can sometimes lie to us but God's promise of peace is always true no matter our circumstances. So many voices and situations seem to steal our peace or turn us away to lesser pursuits... even lies! I realized this week how much I tend to uphold my pride rather than His promises-- and what a peace stealer that becomes...
    I'm so grateful that Jesus's peace always stems from truth and His purposes will prevail. Seeking peace that's only found in Him with you my friend ♥ And I love the house and the gates in the first picture!

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    1. Heather,
      Feelings are so misleading, aren't they? So much in our daily lives tries to steal our peace and it's hard sometimes to stand up to them! :) Aren't the houses in St. Augustine pretty? I love them!

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  3. Valerie, I could highlight all of this post. I need to read this book. This was a beautiful piece on peace. When we aren't peaceful we rush to find that with which we think that will make us peaceful. We try to maneuver it and control or provide ourselves with counterfeit peace. Never works. Because Peace is a Person. The Prince of Peace. Thank you for sharing it. the idea of cultivating it and the knowledge that peace comes after facing a storm and a fear and find yourself still standing. The pictures were beautiful.

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    1. Hi Somer! So good to see you here again -- I just love it when you visit! Oh -- your words -- peace is a person -- yes! I will keep those words close to my heart all day. So glad you enjoyed the photos!

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  4. You always do such a beautiful job with book reviews, Valerie, intertwining it with your own emotions and circumstances. This sounds like a great book. I'm sorry you're dealing with circumstances that rob your peace. Your accounts of your niece always make me smile. :) I love this, and it really gives me pause for reflection - "When you decide to bravely walk through the door toward what you've long ago closed off and make your peace with it, it's a liberating sort of peace." I love all of this. :) Thank you, Valerie. Praying for peace to fill your heart and your life! Hugs!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      So glad you enjoy my little exploits with my niece -- she is so much fun -- eye-rolls and pithy sayings included!

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  5. I love your perspective on peace, Valerie - powerful, liberating, graceful. Peace is such a great word and a worthy pursuit. I look forward to watching it unfold for you in the year ahead. I'll join Devon (who is a cutie!) in saying ... peace out! Great words, friend.

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    1. Hi Tiffany,
      Thanks for your sweet words about Devon! Peace just seems to be the word showing up in my life these days -- even though I don't feel it -- so I know there's some mystery there to uncover! :)

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  6. Valerie- I love the pictures as always- they did bring peace to my heart- especially the one with the boats- There is something about the water that is so peaceful- I love the picture of your niece too! You are such a wonderful aunt, the way you invest and love on your niece and nephew! This book also seems really good- It seems so hard to find peace when the circumstances are hard- I am learning that its found in Him too- He is peace - and when I lean into Him things feel better somehow. Just good to know someone stronger, who deeply loves me , has got it all under control. Thanks again for these lovely thoughts- thankful for your blog as always !! xox

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I love how you said someone stronger than we are has our lives under his control -- and he is the source of our peace! But peace can be so elusive and crowded out by our thoughts, can't it? And I'm not so sure the absence of peace should be an indicator of our actions . . . still pondering that one! Maybe peace is achieved only when we step out on the waters or in the midst of the storm, then we can experience that peace that is so incomprehensible and yet so beautiful -- from God! xo

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    2. "Maybe peace is achieved only when we step out on the waters or in the midst of the storm, then we can experience that peace that is so incomprehensible and yet so beautiful -- from God!" I love this insight, Valerie. Thank you. :)

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    3. me too! :) so beautifully said! thank you! xoxo

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  7. I just love your relationship with Devon - that kind of closeness with a niece and nephew is rare. What a gift you have been given! Your blog posts always seem to meet me where I am and give me words I need to hear. I have been longing for peace for so many years. I am finally starting to realize that it is possible - if I will only allow it. I think Satan likes to get into my head and tell me that I don't deserve peace - or that something bad will surely happen that will steal the peace that I have been so desperately searching for. Or that maybe peace just isn't possible. That sneaky devil - always up to no good. This is a great reminder for me that Satan doesn't want me to live in peace, however, the Prince of Peace lives in me. If we could only grasp, on a moment-by-moment basis, the incredible reality of who we belong to and that we have been chosen and set apart as daughters of the One True King. Thank you for bringing my mind to a better place. It's been swirling in all kinds of directions and I always need to bring my focus back to HIM. Your posts always do that for me. :) - Shawna

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    1. Hi Shawna,
      I'm with you on this vigil to keep the peace-stealers from getting the best of us! When peace is so desperately craved by all of us, it makes so much sense that every effort is made to fight us for it. Yes, peace is possible because of who we are and who we belong to -- you said it so eloquently! :) And I'm the lucky one to have Devon and Nate in my life! :) Stop by soon so we can chat about paint!!

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  8. St. Augustine is BEA-U-TI-FUL!! So is your niece ;)

    Peace is what we always want more of, isn't it? I've heard good things about Lisa's book, it may be one I need to read. Thanks for sharing about it. And for sharing the glimpses into your life.

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    1. Alecia,
      Yes, I love St. Augustine too! And thanks for the sweet words about my niece -- I think so too! :)

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  9. Loved reading this piece on peace! I crave it in my life after a lifetime of inner and outer chaos. I have found more of it in my walk with the Lord, but I have further work to do. Great pictures and your niece is lovely!

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    1. Hi Susan,
      I think peace seems elusive sometimes but maybe we can find more of it than we think. I'm with you on finding more of it!

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  10. We adore St. Augustine! I am glad you found peace there :)

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  11. Loved the photos and detail in your description.

    "Sometimes peace comes only after you face what you’ve been fearing." - Boy is that right! This is a big one for me.

    Thanks for sharing!!

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