Mountain High, Valley Low
“Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low;
the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth” Luke 3:5 NKJ
For those who have walked out 2013 with us there is no mistaking that this has been a challenging year. We have seen our share of joyful moments, blessings beyond measure, victory and above all GRACE. I set out to put our “perfect family photo” which was far from perfect itself, on our Christmas card this year. As I was uploading images from our “hand a camera to the nearest family member at Thanksgiving” photo session, all I saw were imperfect images. Don’t get me wrong. There is never a perfect family photo unless you enlist the help of every professional photographer’s best friend Photoshop! But even these were beyond my skill set. Or were they? I have edited countless photos for clients, family, friends and myself. I am not a Photoshop expert but I have some tricks up my sleeves. No, this was more than a set of skills. These images though not intended to do so, captured our family as we had been all year.
There was photo number one. My two sweet boys leaning into one another in a fleeing moment of connection, shared experience in this case it was cold air and mom saying “one more, this is the last picture, last one, promise!” It’s never the last one and as children of a photographer they are well aware of this. So they lean in and endure.
Photo number two. My boys, all of them, ready to battle at a moment’s notice. So we have. Battled that is, at a moment’s notice. We fought with one another, for one another, for others, against the enemy of our souls and yes, if we are honest even with God himself.
Photo number three. Real tears. In this photo Alex is shedding a very real tear that was the fruit of his mother’s frustration with the imperfection of the moment. A very real tear that I was completely unaware of at the very moment this image was captured. My heart ached when I first zoomed in to discover it. I wanted to delete it off the hard drive and pretend it didn’t happen. But it did. In real life pain comes and real tears fall. So many times everyone else in the wide shot of the photo is smiling away without noticing a silent single tear rolling down a precious little cheek. The Lord whispered to my heart the moment I reached for the delete button, “I have seen every tear you have cried. They never fall unnoticed to me. Never.” With that simple kiss from heaven I decided not only not to delete it, but to cherish it! This is real life.
Photo number four. A reminder that some of the most pain filled moments are followed by pure joy. It is that way when we are birthed into this world. It is that way when we leave this world. Sometimes it happens faster than we could hope for and sometimes it seems as if it will never come. But the Joy of the Lord IS OUR STRENGTH! Our God is faithful and yes joy does come.
Photo number five. Oh how he has grown. Drew is growing up so fast. This photo is a blessed reminder that even when we want the world to stop! Or at the very least slow down, it does not answer to us.
Time and all that is, was and ever will be is held only in the hands of the one who created it. SOAK UP THIS MOMENT. Soak up that 7 year old grin I will only see from him this year except of course when I look back at these freeze framed moments in time. Soak…. It….. Up…..
Photo number six. A moment of praise and surrender, Michael asked Drew to hold his hands up to the sky as if praising the Lord, Drew didn’t pretend to praise the Lord, He did! In a childlike heart there is room to pretend about adventures and play, but not about praise. Drew threw back his head and lifted his arms as high as he could! We’ve all had moments of praise and surrender like this in the past year. It is what keeps us going. It is what wakes us up and propels us forward. PRAISE and SURRENDER there is no way to do one without the other.
Photo number seven. Seven is used in the bible to represent perfection. No this is not the perfect photo. I will spare you why I think it isn’t. What IS perfect about it is that we are still standing; hand in hand, walking out this life together. Without the Holy Spirit’s comfort, God the Father’s plan and Jesus being so willing to die for us, for me the “photographer mom who spanks her kid while trying to get him to smile for our PERFECT FAMILY PHOTO CARD!” Without the Great I AM, friends, we this family of four, Michael, Jamie, Drew & Alex Cuffia would not be standing hand in hand. We have our moments. We are all people who were born into this fallen world of sin. BUT GOD. He created, he came, he cleansed, and carried us every step of the way.
The numberless photo… You know the one I would’ve put on the card because it was the best of the worst. This is not what we looked like most days this year. But this was the BEST we looked all year! While I will dress us up in coordinating outfits and pay a photographer to capture THE image for generations to come, the airbrushed family photo is not our legacy. We pray every day that our legacy would be that of Christ’s, that we would be known by our love, that we would love our God and one another and that is our prayer for you also. We thank every single one of you who lifted prayers on our behalf. Who watched our boys at a moment’s notice, brought Starbucks, and left notes, cards, voicemails, emails, and text messages that so often went without our response. Those who dried tears, gave money for the Guatemala trip and blessed us in countless other ways. We will never be able to tell you how much each and every one of you impacted our little world this year. Above all we are thankful for the GRACE you gave us as we were sailing uncharted waters. While we may not have known where the storm was taking us, we know the one who calms the storm with a still small voice and these simple words, “Peace, be still.” We hope this holiday season is full of Peace from the Prince of Peace who’s birth we celebrate and time to be still with your loved ones and The Lord.
The Cuffia Family
Michael, Jamie, Drew & Alex