Rainbow Bubbles

I had an encounter with Jesus this week. For those of you who think that sounds crazy. Let me tell you. He is closer than you think, and the spiritual realm is more real than what you see with your human eyes. I won’t dive into all that now, but there are plenty of resources on that subject.

I’ve had a lot on my plate recently in the form of worry. Trying to refinance our home to repair it from the flood, lawsuits, infertility, and all the fun stuff that comes with each of those struggles. Adding each trial on top of the other it began to feel like I was carrying around a weighted backpack.

Anxiety would creep up, my mind start to race, my heart beating faster. “Will this ever end?” I ask myself. I do the human thing and try to control it all. Frantically moving between one area and the next, trying to keep it all contained within my grasp.

Why do we always revert to our own works as humans? It’s because of the fall. Since that day, we’ve toiled and struggled, it comes natural to us. “Only you are in control of your destiny!”, we see quotes like that all over social media. Motivations encouraging us to work harder, push through, hustle, and sacrifice. We accept these quotes, they sound well-meaning enough.

But there’s a better way, and it’s been there for thousands of years. Jesus did the sacrifice and He tells us NOT to worry and that we don’t have to struggle.

1 Peter 5:7 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.

Matthew 6:25-27 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Don’t Worry

25 “This is why I tell you to never be worried about your life, for all that you need will be provided, such as food, water, clothing—everything your body needs. Isn’t there more to your life than a meal? Isn’t your body more than clothing?

26 “Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?27 So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?

As a Daughter of the King, I don’t have to worry, Jesus takes care of that. So this week I decided to step into my inheritance, and give it up to Him. I’m tired of walking around dragging my burdens behind me. The more I struggle to control them the less control I seem to have. All my hard work is in vain.

Photographer Kevin Frayer captures a community of coal scavengers in the village of Bokapahari, India

Photographer Kevin Frayer captures a community of coal scavengers in the village of Bokapahari, India

So I approached Jesus with it. I was hobbling towards him carrying my burdens. Each one of them was a chunk of dirty, black, heavy coal. I fumbled with them in my arms, trying to keep them all together. I slowly approached Him, His radiant glory was the sun. He looked like hope. I’m afraid to let it go. What will happen if I lose control of it? If I do nothing instead of trying to do everything? To free my hands of it seems not sensible. But I resolve to trust Him yet again.

I’m at His feet now. The weight of my burdens won’t let me stand any longer, I drop to my knees. I glance up at Him, all hope and love so close to me. He reaches out His hands to take my burdens from me. The thought of His perfect radiance touching my unclean dirty coal embarrasses me. I hang my head, I have no more left to give. All my energy trying to solve my problems is spent. I can’t go on any longer like this. I lift my armful of coal burden up to Him…and I let go.

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The coal starts tumbling towards ground at His feet, but before it ever makes contact it transforms…into bubbles. That’s right, bubbles.

The bubbles drift upwards in front of my face between Jesus and I as I gaze into wonderful love. His light emanating from Him causes rainbow prisms inside the bubbles. Rainbow bubbles. A sign of His promise.

My burdens were actually His promises all along.

I only needed to give them to Him. With tears flowing like rivers of joy I kiss His feet while whispering never ending “thank you”s.

Our burdens remain heavy, dirty coal until we give them to Him, where He transforms them into weightless promises.

Jeremiah 29:11

1For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. 

He uses all evil, all the bad things that happen to us, for His good. He can transform anything because HE IS PERFECT LOVE. But He won’t force us to let Him change it. He loves us, so He respects our free will. But if we’re brave enough to let go of it, THEN He can transform it, use it for good in our lives.

Romans 8:28 King James Version (KJV)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

When I gave him my burden. When I let go of control, and cast out worry and anxiety, do you know what happened?

A breakthrough.

Everything is changing. Everything is rainbow bubbles.

taylor Golden
My Flashlight

This past year has been a doozy for us. Our first year of marriage includes buying and renovating a home, that home flooding 2 weeks after renovation with 5.5ft of water and no flood insurance, nearly dying during my rescue, discovering I was being slowly poisoned by breast implants-thus resulting in an explant surgery, infertility, retiring from my 12 year career in photography, starting a new job, and dealing with a never ending lawsuit.

It seems almost impossible for one person to handle it all in a 12 month span. People ask me “How are you smiling through all this?”.

Simple answer; Jesus.

Random fact about me; I hate being rushed. So much so that I wake up at 5am every morning to allow myself an hour to read a chapter from 4 different books, a half hour to putter around, and a 45 minutes to get ready for work. I would rather wake up at the crack of dawn than feel rushed in the morning.

Another part of my morning routine is while I am putting on makeup, I play a random sermon on YouTube- usually from Hope City. And ALWAYS my God knows exactly what I need to hear. This morning was no different. By the end of the sermon I was on my knees in my closet (where I do a lot of praying) tears streaming down my face-ruining the makeup I had just meticulously put on, with hands lifted high in praise.

In this sermon Pastor Jeremy talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But the most beautiful part he pointed out was this; Do you know what causes a shadow?

Light.

In order to find our way through darkness, through trials, through hard times, we have to draw close to the light and let it lead us through that pit of despair. If for nothing else I am so thankful for all these seemingly impossible trials because it has forced me to cling to Jesus. He is in the valley with me, my own beautiful flashlight.

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It seems almost crazy to smile when someone from your past files a temporary restraining order against you for your blog posts. A scary monster leaping out from the shadows. But I smile, not because I think I’ll win, but because I don’t care. I shine my flashlight on the threat to reveal it for what it is; fear. I have Jesus, and that’s all I need.

If I never have doors, walls, or floors again, I have the shelter of His perfect love. If I lose in trial, He still waves His banner of victory over my heart. If I never get well, I will still rest knowing I will be transfigured to glory in heaven. If I never conceive a child, I have conceived love for my enemies. If I never achieve worldly success again, I have reprioritized life according to His perfect design.

So many times I have prayed for Him to take these trials away from me, to remove my enemies. But through the fire and refining my prayers have changed. Now instead of praying for the pain to cease, I pray as He did in the garden, for the strength to endure, to see it through.

It is BECAUSE of the trials, the sorrow, the pain, that I now comprehend and appreciate such blessings, joy, and hope.

What happened with the restraining order? It was thrown out. The trial? Still ongoing. I remember the days when I used to live in such fear. Being forced to walk away from everything I knew, everything I built, and everything I put before God. Walking away from a multi-million dollar business and lifestyle and leaving with basically nothing, turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I used to let other people use fear to control me, and now I have no fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 (TPT)

For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.

God removed the barrier between us, prying it from my frightened hands, to show me a better way, to show me true love. Looking back I don’t recognize the person I used to be, frankly I’m disgusted. No amount of money, success, or fame, can ever tempt me to go back to that lifestyle. I would rather live an insignificant, modest life with Christ, than a millionaire, famous life without Him.

Even now, as contempt motions fly, deception is revealed, and it seems the trial will never end, I pray for my enemies and I smile. Because my God is good, and He uses all things for His plan for my life. I pray for peace, I pray that He uses this situation to deliver them, and I pray for the strength to endure.

I have never been happier, never felt more peace, and never had so much hope for the future. I shine my flashlight straight in front of me. It cuts through the dark, lights my path. My future is bright and it is yours Jesus.

Psalm 23 The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Good Shepherd

23 David’s poetic praise to God[a]
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.[b]
    I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.[c]
    His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.[d]
    He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
    and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness[e]
    so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
    the valley of deepest darkness,
    fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
    You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
    Your authority is my strength and my peace.[f]
    The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
    I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
You become my delicious feast
    even when my enemies dare to fight.
    You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;[g]
    you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
So why would I fear the future?
    For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
    Then afterward, when my life is through,
    I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!

taylor Golden
The Empty Womb The Empty Tomb

1.5 years. That’s how long we’ve been trying. I know there are couples out there that have tried for years longer. Does it get any easier? Does the heartbreak and disappointment that comes every month when it’s evident yet again, you’re not pregnant, does it get easier?

My arms are empty. There’s no pitter patter in my hallways. No stacks of tiny dirty laundry. No tears I’m wiping from plump cherub cheeks. I try to hush the dirty lying voices in my head; “this is what you deserve.”

See when I was a teenager I fell in love, like every teenager does. We planned to get married as soon as we turned 18. But what happened instead was we ended up pregnant at 16. Shame hung it’s flag of victory over my head. Me, the good girl, straight A honor student, talented with a bright future, who once wore a promise ring of purity for her future husband. Now a pregnant teenager.

People spoke, people we trusted who thought they were helping us make the right decision. They convinced us, they scared us. “You’ll be poor and destitute the rest of your life.” I listened to the voices of guidance, I chanted what they said as I lay on the table in the clinic. Tears streamed down my face, I don’t want to do this. I love my baby. I resolve myself to stop. As I will myself to get up off the table, it’s too late. I lose consciousness.

I wake up and it’s all over, 5 minutes. So quick and so easy to take such a bright life. I hate myself. My boyfriend who I thought was the love of my life, the one where we shared wedding and future life plans together, he left me shortly after the procedure. October 30th, I’ll never forget this day. I mourn the loss, I grieve uncontrollably. I decide to name my baby, the size of a pea, Faith. Because of my lack of faith that ended their life. Guilt joins the flag pole and waves itself proudly. I am wretched, I am a hypocrite, and I’ll never deserve to have a baby.

This is the voice that has always haunted me since I made the worst decision of my life. And it roared loud like a forgotten beast in the depths of my mind when Brian and I had our miscarriage. “This is what I deserve.” She would be graduating high school next year. I wonder what wonderful things she would have done in this world, had she been given the chance. My poor Faith.

Yet I know, that is not my God. My God, and my Faith, they have both forgiven me, and I’ve also learned to forgive myself. But then why do the voices still whisper? Why the taunting, the fear that my punishment for such a sin must be barrenness. It’s the enemy. He feeds on the seed of fear and causes it to grow until it drowns out all that is true and good. He pulls on the flag pole chain, higher, higher, his flags fly. It’s a daily battle in my mind. Silencing the hiss of lies that I’ll never be granted the gift of a child.

Every month I cry. I sit and I wait in hopeful expectation, and then cry when it’s evident. Not this month. I wonder though what the reason is. I trust Him. I trust His perfect timing. I know there is a reason.

Just like when the women went to visit His tomb, they were grief stricken when they found it empty. They were expecting someone to be there, and He wasn’t. Was their grief like mine? If so then what joy they must have felt when He arrived in an unexpected way. The tomb was empty, but life reigned. And so I wait.

In my expectant waiting, I buy baby clothes, a crib, a bassinet, just hoping I’ll need it soon.

I wait for life to reign. Whether it happens in my womb, in a child waiting to be rescued in Africa, or a baby in Texas waiting for someone to tell them; “You are loved, and you are mine, let’s go home.” My God is faithful and He is good. There is a lesson to be learned in the waiting and in the wanting.

I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. John 14:18

I have prayed for the souls of my future children for over 2 years now. I pray that God would make me the mother I need to be in order to help them become all that He has destined for them to be.

And so this morning, another month with a sorrowful empty womb. I hit my knees, bow my head, and raise my hands. A sign of submission. “Lord, burn the flagpole in my heart. Tear it to the ground. And wave your banner of love high over me. I love you, and I trust you.”

To my future babies. I love you, and I can’t wait to meet you.

Faithfully,

Your Mama

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taylor Golden
Why Do Bad Things Happen?

I don’t know. Not the answer you were hoping to read right? Well, I have a few theories. In the end God always uses evil for good.

Theory 1 // God uses pain to strengthen us.

We all have a purpose, a reason we were put on this earth. Sometimes we have to change to be able to fulfill our purpose. I know that was the case for me. Did I want our home to flood? Of course not. Do I wish it didn’t have to happen? Duh. But I’m still happy it happened to me. It revealed to me how tightly I was holding onto material things. The power I gave wood, metal, and fabric in my life. By having it all ripped away, it forced me to hold onto God instead.

And while I was wrapped around His feet wailing and writhing in pain, He reached down and put His finger through my chest and into my heart. I am forever changed now. Pain can show us how strong we can be, by revealing our weakness. Now my faith is unshakeable, I trust Him. Now I am ready to fulfill my purpose, where as before, I would have fallen flat on my face. #HoustonStrong

It wasn’t until Daniel faced Goliath that he would transition from being a shepherd to a king. The giants in our lives will transform us, they will prepare us for our destiny.

Theory 2 // God uses pain to unite us.

Look at the photos immediately following 9/11. All of New York covered in ash. You could no longer tell if someone was black, white, brown, or green. There was one race; human. The entire city banded together and ordinary Joe’s turned into super heroes as they risked their own lives climbing through rubble to rescue another soul.

AP Photo/Gulnara Samoilova

AP Photo/Gulnara Samoilova

In a moment it didn’t matter what religion you were, what political party you affiliated with, or what color your skin was. An entire nation came together, we were the UNITED States of America. Same with hurricane Harvey. People drove from all over America to come to our aid. Our very fur children were rescued by volunteers who saw the pain, united, and came to save. Pain can bring us together.

Theory 3 // God uses pain to bring us closer to Him.

Ever been mad at God? I know I have. I even told him so. I’m pretty sure it went something like “Really God?! WTF?!” …just being honest.

It’s ok to be mad at God. It’s ok to ask “Why!? Why ME?!” Even Jesus asked God why and didn’t get an answer.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? - Matthew 27:26

God wants relationships, not religion. God cares about how you feel, it’s ok to tell Him you’re mad at Him. How can you have a real relationship with someone if you can’t even tell them you’re mad at them? You can’t. I think he is happy to hear how we truly feel because that means we are taking our relationship to the next level with Him, and that’s exactly what He wants. He wants us to trust Him and His plan for life. He wants us to get to know Him on a personal level, which requires realness. You have to be close to someone in order to trust them.


Theory 4 // God uses pain to bless us.

God gives us grief for a purpose - to transition us into healing. You cannot heal without grieving a loss. When my ex husband left me, I grieved for months. It was absolutely necessary. And because I acknowledged my emotions, I was able to let God heal me and transition me into something that was better than I ever could have imagined; Brian.

God truly blessed me when I thought He was done with me. I never thought I would get married again. And then God dropped Brian into my life. After our first date, I came home and told my family “That’s the man God created me to marry”. I had lost my way for 15 years, but God turned all my bad decisions around and used them for good.

Now in my relationship with Brian, because of all the pain and trials I had been through in my two previous marriages (you read that right, 2x divorcee - judge away!) I was so thankful for Brian that our relationship was so easy. We hardly ever fight (quite the difference from my previous relationships!). Because I had experienced such cruelty, I appreciated Brian’s kindness more than I ever would have had I not gone through the pain that I did. God used it for good. I’m thankful for that pain now.

Sometimes God doesn’t stop a bad thing from happening, because what happens after the bad thing is going to bless us beyond our imagination. Sometimes blessings reside on the other side of pain. But as humans, we just want the blessing part. Sometimes the blessing is in the breaking. We can’t be blessed unless we’re willing to be broken. Like cracking open an Easter egg to find the blessing of sweet chocolate within. We have to be willing to let God crack us open to get to the prize that lies hidden inside us.

Can we understand the ways of God? Heck no. He’s too big, too eternal, and too pure for humans to fully comprehend His glory. But He will never give us anything we can’t handle with Him by our side.

I don’t know why 9/11 happened. But I choose to trust in His goodness. That even though I may not know the answer, that He does, and that He is using it for good in our lives. Now instead of asking God “Why?” in the pain, I thank Him. I praise Him. I may be crying, but my hands are lifted in worship, because I know that He is breaking me and so blessings are about to release in my life.

There is beauty in pain in that way. Today is a hard day for many, it represents great loss. It’s ok to be mad, to not understand why it happened. Take the time to grieve, open your heart, healing is on the way.

Freedom Tower

A few years ago I had the incredible opportunity to photograph from the top of the spire at Freedom tower before it became enclosed and was finished. I cannot describe the feeling of being on the grounds where such tragedy happened. But from that point of pain, holds the most beautiful view of New York City. There is beauty in pain.

taylor Golden
Bathing in Lighter Fluid

I am on fire.  And everything I once thought, loved, and worshipped is ash.  Fire is costly. It requires you to start over from scratch. The flames singe your skin, it hurts. It's painful when you're burning, but when the flames start to die, and the smoke begins to clear, you can see what's left. You see truth, lies can no longer hide behind walls. Everything is exposed.

I had a really nice couch. One of those designer expensive ones that cost 10x more than any other couch. I loved my couch, it said "I have wealth". It was comfortable, I would lounge and lay in it every day, it was my go to spot. I sat in my luxury comfort and was content. I also have a church pew. An old wooden one I picked up at a flea market because I thought it would be a pretty piece of decor in my home. I never sat on the church pew, it was just for looks. It wasn't comfortable or expensive. I paid $75, it had some missing pieces and needed some sanding and refinishing. I would spend some spare time working on it, but only to make it look prettier.

Then one day a flood came.

My couch was gone, destroyed. I helped haul it to the curb to be picked up by the trash trucks. The couch I spent so much time and money on. The couch I valued before my cheap church pew. Funny thing is, my church pew wasn't destroyed, the wood dried, it's a little ricketier but it stands.

My successful career was comfortable. It was luxurious, I spent ALL my time and money on my career. Every day I gave it attention and effort and it paid off. I had everything I wanted, it didn't matter that photography was never my true passion. I enjoyed it, it did what I wanted it to do in my life, and therefore I placed it on my "important" shelf inside my mind.

But it was a distraction. 

God put a purpose in my heart.  But my purpose was a church pew. It was uncomfortable, unsure, and needed work. Something I had never done and was surely disqualified for.  It was too big, so I put it on my "maybe someday" shelf and went back to my successful couch.

Success and expensive couches can distract you from your destiny. We silence the burning in our souls that keeps us up at night because we listen to the world telling us “ Why would you quit your successful career to start this new idea? That doesn’t make any sense.”  For me – I’m a planner, I want to know the plan to get to the destination, the goal. So I put my purpose on hold until I had a plan. Only problem is that's not how God works.

God knew that I would never leave the couch for the church pew, until the couch was taken away. And take away He did. Just as the rain fell and washed away my nice couch, God's voice, tired of waiting for me to change seats, had to flat out tell me "You're done with photography".

It's time to get off the couch, plan, or no plan.

Sometime's God doesn't want us to have a plan because trusting Him, and following Him is part of the process to get to the goal. We can’t get there on our own, we have to shed our independence and lean on Him. Through the pain and trials, the fires and floods, He is cultivating us to be able to answer the call.

He is standing over us holding the match, He's simply waiting on us to sprinkle a little lighter fluid.

He's ready to prepare us for our destiny, but are we ready for him to do the work He needs to do in order to make ourselves equipped for the task? Fire is change, fire is painful, change is painful.

But we need the fire. We need it to reveal what will be left, what should stay in our lives and in our hearts. Fire refines. I answered His call "yes Lord, I'm ready" and filled my bathtub with lighter fluid.

I ignored the tug on my heart strings for years, it's too big. I turned my eyes from looking at my purpose, it can't be me. And I poured myself into what I knew, my couch, I want to stay comfortable. I tried my way, my way didn't work out so well in my life, so now I'm answering His call, I am choosing His way.  I am now stepping into my destiny.

Because that is where fulfillment lies, not in the success, the big house, the fancy car, the fat bank account, or the expensive couch.  Those things provide comfort but not fulfillment. Only He fulfills. He put a calling, a purpose inside each of us. Are we disciplined enough to say “yes”? No matter how much it doesn’t make sense? No matter how hard it is? I can testify that personally, ignoring the call doesn’t work, it only delays your destiny.

I dip my toes into the tub.

"Ok God, I'll say yes, but let me fix this one issue first." I think I know the best way to start, I want to do it my way because my way offers me comfort and stability. I'll just dangle my feet off the couch, that's a good start right? Delay.

The fire is risky, I'm scared. But He beckons me to step in, all the way in. Because I love Him I step fully into the tub, standing half in, half out. "Ok God, I'm trusting you". I retire from my career.  But it's not enough, I need more of Him and less of me in order to do this. I've got to get rid of everything that's stopping me. Everything has to go. I haul the couch to the curb.

I'm all in, fully submerged, soaking in lighter fluid. He lights the match, and I grin as I watch it flicker and fall into my situation, my tub. I Ignite.

At first it burns, layers start falling off, I think about reaching for the extinguisher. No, I trust Him. Let it burn. More lighter fluid.

Everything I once thought, loved, and worshipped catches the flames. It all goes up in smoke. As the lies fall away and His truth is revealed, it's beautiful, and I now see why I had to burn.  Everything I went through has prepared me for this task.  When I was begging Him for relief all those years, when I didn't understand "Why Me!?", it was to refine me, to give me the strength I would need to complete my purpose.

Pride now smoke, vanity now ash, greed now soot. I needed the fire, I needed the trials, the heartache, the disappointment, I needed to burn. And now I am ready. I step out of the tub, no longer able to recognize myself in the mirror, good. He wraps me in a towel, I have new skin, it looks like His. Yes.

I sit in the church pew.

www.TaylorGoldenWhite.com , my destiny awaits.

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taylor Golden
Hurricane Harvey Anniversary // I'm Thankful I Flooded.

One year since our lives were turned upside down by Hurricane Harvey.  As I was singing in my weekly rehearsal with the Houston Symphony Chorus last night, I happened to glance down at my watch. 9pm. I choked back tears for the next hour while doing my best to belt out Latin and look like I able to keep up with the chorus. This exact moment one year ago, the city announced the dam further north was being opened and we were going to get water downstream. The streets were already flooded 3-4ft deep – our suvs wouldn’t make it out, we were trapped. I cried and wailed the entire 45 minute ride home after rehearsal.

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That night we began stacking everything on our first floor as high as we could. We had just moved in a few weeks before and I spent so much time getting everything in place to make our house feel like a home.  Now were scrambling for our most valued possessions, moving them to the second floor, and lifting everything else that was left downstairs on cinder blocks.  At 1am we woke up, peered over the bannister downstairs, something was moving on the floor below us…it was water.

As a recap; Brian and I bought our forever dream home in May 2017. We got married in the backyard and did 3 months of renovations afterwards updating the house from the 1980’s. We moved in approximately the 1st week of august, the next week we adopted our two fur children Buddy and Piper. Then the unthinkable happened. Hurricane Harvey hit. We are not in a flood zone, nor has our neighborhood EVER flooded…so of course we didn’t have flood insurance (SMH!). Needless to say we flooded, not a little bit either, over 5.5 feet of water in our newly remodeled home.  As water began seeping in, we were in total shock, we couldn’t believe our eyes.

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A few hours later my sister would show up with help on jet skis to take us to safety. In the escape from our home that was supposed to be a safe haven – we nearly died in the rushing waters as were wrapped around a telephone pole for nearly an hour.

The telephone pole and tree - perfectly placed before we were born so that they would be exactly where we needed them to save our lives. Thank you Father for your provision and mercy.

The telephone pole and tree - perfectly placed before we were born so that they would be exactly where we needed them to save our lives. Thank you Father for your provision and mercy.

my sisters view from the jet ski coming into our neighborhood.

my sisters view from the jet ski coming into our neighborhood.

 

Since our rescue we have moved into the second story of our home while we completed as many repairs as we could afford and do ourselves. After spending all our money on the actual purchase and 1st renovation of our home – we were left strapped. For our first year of marriage it’s been the most challenging.

This was my makeup counter in our master bathroom, which now has a view of the living room.

This was my makeup counter in our master bathroom, which now has a view of the living room.

The question that I keep getting since the flood has been “ so where’s the house at now?”.  Well, as of now, it’s not far along, we still are missing half our walls, we have no doors, or floors.  We’ve been denied every type of construction loan, car loan, and refinance loan due to my ex mother in law’s home mortgage being in my name. We were also denied FEMA disaster relief funding and SBA disaster relief loans. So after maxing our credit cards to pay for mold remediation, repair electric and plumbing from the flood so that our home was at least livable, we are in a holding pattern.

So many other things have happened since the flood, I had surgery to remove my toxic implants that were slowly killing me, we both started new jobs ( at the same amazing company!), I retired from my 12 year profession, we’ve been unable to conceive ( no doubt due to stress), and it has all taken it’s toll.  We’ve been positive and optimistic through most of the last year, but I will admit we each have our dark days. Depression sinks in and we cry to God asking Him if our situation will ever improve, if the trials will ever end?!

Yet the crazy thing is…I’ve never been happier. The flood did unspeakable amazing things and I’m happy it happened. During my divorce with my ex I walked away from A LOT. But I held onto some nice possessions 😊 the expensive Restoration Hardware furniture, the wine collection, things I knew I would probably never be able to afford again but I placed so much value in.  And in just a few hours, all those pretty things that I spent so much time negotiating and worrying over…were gone, ruined, destroyed, and in a trash pile that stacked 10ft high on my front lawn.

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:18

As our wonderful friends and family were helping us salvage what we could from our first floor, we were cleaning out my closet as one friend said to me “girl you know you got a lot of clothes?!”. Ugh, she’s right. A huge master walk in closet wasn’t big enough to contain the "happiness" that I spent 10 years trying to purchase.

How did I come to place such value in possessions? How had I let inanimate objects of fabric, wood, and metal take such an important role in my life? Things that cost me an equivalent of 2 weeks of my life to pay for. Was it really worth it? Was a $4,000 love seat worth 180 hours of my life? And that’s when I realized. I had let the lust of the flesh in the form of possessions and material things take so much of my time, my happiness, and my health.  I was disgusted.  “Thank you father for revealing this weakness to me, for flooding me on the inside as well as the outside.” I prayed as I pounded the flood in our upstairs bedroom as tears rolled down my face. “I’ll still praise you in this storm.”

I thought that was the end of the lesson for me, but boy was I wrong. Through my 12 years as a professional photographer I had all the success the industry had to offer. My company I started grossed it’s first million by the time I turned 25. I spoke on stage in front of thousands of photographers at the nation’s largest conferences. I won awards, people wanted photos with me, companies flew me all over the world to help them promote their products.  When I moved to Houston I restarted my own studio, and in the 1st two years I hit all my goals. I put in the hard work and everything was exactly where I planned for and where I needed it to be.  Through all these years, I have relied on my own strength and knowledge in times of trouble. I was a self-reliant and independent woman and boy was I proud of it. #HUSTLE right? Wrong.

As I was praying for my sister to conceive early in 2018, God spoke to me ( like literally, I heard The Man’s voice!) interrupting my prayer, and what did He say? “You’re done with photography.” Ummm…excuse me Lord? Did you stutter? Because I know I didn’t hear that right. You want me to give up my business, my career, the money that we really kinda need right now? I pushed His order to the side, I needed confirmation before I would do a drastic thing like shut down my business that I just spent the last two years grinding for to get it to the place it’s at now!

But alas, The Lord Almighty did not stutter, and after 15years of running my life MY way, I knew that I didn’t know best, I had learned my lesson from ignoring God. So shut down my business I did. And that’s when it hit me, again I was happier than I had ever been. I had been placing my identity in myself, my accomplishments, and in my career. And now that it was all gone, I had to take a good look in the mirror and figure out…who am I?  I had let the pride of life blind me into thinking that I’m strong enough, I’m smart enough, I’m talented enough, when in reality – that’s all a lie. I am not enough, none of us are, only God is enough. I had to rediscover my identity in Him, and in Him I found unrelenting peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

God flood me more.

As I would catch myself begging God for mercy, to make the pain stop, for relief, for a breakthrough, I stopped myself and instead prayed: “No God, give me more, refine me more, flood me more, remove every impurity, every sin, every thought, everything not of you. Keep me in the refining fire, keep me treading water in the flood until it’s all gone. Help me become love.”

The process is not fun, nor is it easy, but it is worth it. I do not like the pain, I do not like the struggle, but I am thankful for it.  It is worth losing EVERYTHING to find that it was all actually nothing to begin with. Now when I purchase things I ask myself – is this worth the X amount of time it costs? I no longer look at dollar signs, but I see a purchase as a trade for the time it took for me to make X amount of money to be able to purchase the item. Would I rather have a week’s vacation with my husband, or a new Louis Vuitton? I ended up selling 90% of my fancy designer items to pay bills. And happier I became.

I’ll choose the time instead now, because as I’ve learned this past year, the purchases can all be gone in an instant. So now the troubling question is, not what things I lost in the flood, but how much time did I lose in the flood? All those purchases and nice things, how much did it cost me? I would guess a good year of my life, a year of painstaking hard work, long hours, and sacrifices. What could I have done with that year instead? Spent more time with family, more time making memories, helping people, loving people. I am disgusted again.

Now we are waiting, waiting for a breakthrough. And the Lord always provides, every morning as I put on my makeup I randomly find a sermon to listen to on YouTube. This morning was a perfect gift from my Father, He always knows my deepest needs. 

I no longer know who that person was- the woman with all the expensive things that took such pride in her status, but I know she had to go. Through this flood God revealed to me the areas of my life that I thought were good, but were actually keeping me from my true purpose He has for me. Things that were keeping me from being closer to Him.  It wasn’t until I laid down all my wants, dreams, disappointments, and hopes at His feet that I could see what He had designed me for. I now know my purpose, my mission in life. It’s simple yet complicated, a huge task lays in front of me. I have no idea what the future holds or how I’ll be able to achieve victory, but I do know that it won’t be by my own strength and it will be as He leads me.

Site is still in progress so don’t judge, this is the next step in my journey. www.taylorgoldenwhite.com 

taylor Golden
Me Too // The Power of Forgiveness

WARNING. WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ YOU MAY FIND EMOTIONALLY DISTURBING.

This blog post ended up being very different from what I had originally planned...As many of you know this month is domestic violence awareness month-something that is very near and dear to my heart. To clarify, I have to share a bit of my past.

When I was 18 I married a man I hardly knew, why? Because he said he loved me and he treated me like a princess.  I had always wanted to be married as soon as I turned 18 so I could spend my entire life with my best friend.  I thought surely this was it, he said he loved me, and so he must.  Never did it cross my mind that perhaps people do not know what love really means...

Once we were married and moved halfway across the country to his hometown in the middle of nowhere Missouri, he turned into a different person, he became abusive in every way. He began his first affair 3 months after we married.  A year into it, the physical abuse began.  I was covered in giant multicolored bruises from my hips to my toes for an entire summer where he threw me into the shower and grabbed my legs and banged them side to side against the door.  I had teeth marks on my face for days where he bit my cheek, hand marks around my throat from where he tried to strangle me.

The saddest part is, I thought...well this must be normal.  I thought this because I had been aware of almost every woman in my family experiencing some kind of domestic abuse in their lives. Even though I had been raised as a Christian and in my heart knew it was wrong, the part of me that was ashamed at what a mistake I had made, ashamed that my husband didn't love me, that part also convinced me it must be normal.

A year later I eventually got out of the situation, got divorced at the age of 20, and thought I was safe.  Until my little sister started dating someone, someone who began to physically abuse her.  I lived hundreds of miles away and felt powerless.  How could this happen!? She saw what I went through, she knew it was wrong, and yet she is staying with this monster!?  The feeling of powerlessness and rage consumed me.  I had no way to protect her and couldn't grasp why this was happening.

I needed to find a way to release my emotions. And so, 12 years later, I present the images below.  This is the first time I am sharing these images.  For years I allowed myself to be shamed by another person into keeping my story silent.  They said people would view me as a victim, but I believe it shows the power of resilience in the human spirit. I listened to them then, but now, by the grace of God, I have the courage to share my story.

I wanted to show what it felt like to be abused. To be fighting for your life.  While I didn't have pictures of my physical bruises to share, I could share my emotional bruises.  In these photos I took myself back to the time when I was fighting for my life.  I think the images speak for themselves.  They are not pretty.

But the story doesn't end there.  I also wanted to show my emotional healing.  The second set of photos are me recovered, how I feel now.  I wanted to show the power of resilience, the power of God to heal, and the power of ... forgiveness.

I love this "Me Too" campaign, but the shear number of women I am connected to that I am finding out have been abused is heart breaking and over whelming.  I think sexual and domestic violence is a topic that gets swept under the rug far too often. It is a darkness that needs to be brought into light.  It needs to be spoken about, it needs to make people uncomfortable, IT NEEDS TO CHANGE.

All that being said, a place we can start that change is with forgiveness.  We can't change what happened to us, man, woman, or child. If you were abused- it happened, only God can heal that wound.  Acknowledge that pain, let it run its course, and then give it up to the ultimate Healer.  But if you don't forgive the person that hurt you, a part of you will always remain bruised.  

Forgiveness actually has healing powers.  Don't believe me? Just do a little research:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-kamen-gredinger-edd/forgiveness_b_2006882.html

This book was a big help to me by Desmond Tutu : https://www.amazon.com/Book-Forgiving-Fourfold-Healing-Ourselves/dp/0062203568

Also if you haven't seen the movie The Shack, it also teaches the power of forgiveness and healing.  Be sure you have a box of tissues handy.

I have had plenty of people hurt me in my life, physically, verbally, emotionally, psychologically. I have been cheated on, abandoned, lied to, hit- you name it.  It's easy to point the finger at them and say "you're a bad person". Yes what they did was wrong, but that doesn't mean they are evil.  You may not know their entire story.  What made them the way they are, maybe someone abused them and it's all they know?  Maybe THEY think this is normal too.  The thing is, we don't know.  It doesn't excuse their actions.  But understanding that inside them- there is a person in pain- it frees you from the pain they inflicted upon you.

So along with the #MeToo campaign, I would like to suggest a partnering campaign: 

 "#IFORGIVEYOU."

There is so much hatred and division in the world today.  It's easy to get caught up talking about the problems, and believe me, I'm not saying they shouldn't be talked about! But at the same time, let's introduce solutions, and start with forgiveness. And by doing that...we can change the world.

To the person who hit me. I forgive you.

To the people who broke my heart. I forgive you.

To the people who abandoned me. I forgive you.

To the people who betrayed me.  I forgive you.

But most of all...with tears streaming down my face.  I forgive myself.

 

A self portrait of Pain

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The healing power of forgiveness.

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taylor Golden
And Then Harvey Happened.

Where do I even start?  My husband Brian and I got married this past May in the backyard of our newly purchased home in Kingwood, TX.  It was our dream home, everything we were looking for, just needed some cosmetic updates.  After the wedding we began 3 months worth of updating our forever home.  In August we were wrapping up the finishing touches, getting all settled in and finally in a normal routine.

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And then Harvey happened. In just a few short hours our home went from high and dry...to having over 4 feet of water.  We had no time to escape, our cars were already submerged.  My family organized a rescue on jet skis, and we nearly died during our rescue.  Its a long story- an international photography magazine, Rangefinder, actually wrote about it.  You can read the story of our rescue here:

 

Our backyard before

 

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Our backyard after.

 

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After our close brush with death, I have an entirely new appreciation for life. I'm so thankful God spared us that day and since then, the outpouring of love from fellow Texans and out of state strangers has been overwhelming.

During the next few days after Harvey we began receiving boxes of clothes, gift cards, and letters from strangers, friends, and family.  We had people show up at our door, unannounced, grab a hammer, and start demoing our home with us.  A boy scout troop from Dallas came down and starting bringing our trash to the curb.  Strangers drove by our home giving out water and pizzas.  People drove from Oklahoma to rescue our pets.  I can't talk about it without crying.  THIS is Texas, THIS is America, THIS is what the human race is about.  

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Our sweet Piper being rescued by Volunteers from out of state. We thought she had drowned in the flood.

Our sweet Piper being rescued by Volunteers from out of state. We thought she had drowned in the flood.

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When I moved back to Texas I realized and how I was trying to buy my happiness the last 10yrs of my life when it took me 4 days to move my wardrobe! I was disgusted with myself and got rid of 3/4 of my clothes.

And yet when our friends were helping us get our belongings out of the house Brooke says to me "you know you have a lot of clothes girl..." ugh. She is so right. I STILL live in excess. Holding onto clothes that no longer fit and probably never will again because I paid so much money for them. Our new closets already bursting at the seams. I mean who needs 15 pairs of pajamas!? And entire mini armoire for jewelry?  Again I am disgusted at what excess I live in. No more. anything that I can't fit in now- gone. Anything I haven't worn in a year- gone. And things I was trying to sell? With all the people around the world in need? What's wrong with me!? Gone. 

We are so blessed to live in the best state and country in the world - so many less fortunate out there and yet we still want more. I don't want to be that same person anymore, I want to be kinder, wiser, more giving. Thank you God for the lessons you are teaching me during this trial and for FLOODING me on the inside as well as the outside.
 

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waiting to be rescued.

waiting to be rescued.

taylor Golden