The second Sunday of Advent…love. May I suggest taking the time this week to read every Bible verse where the word love is mentioned? I have a feeling that if we were to saturate ourselves with the way the Bible speaks of and defines love we would probably be better able to actually love those around us.
What a day! Claire and I enjoyed our first 4-H field trip and it was a lot of fun. We went to a Christmas tree farm which was also a first for me I think. Growing up we had real trees but the “farm” was usually a parking lot of some sort.
Grant’s Tree Farm was o-mazing! Besides thousands of gorgeous trees in various sizes they also grow sugar cane and make syrup. A bunch of goats and other farm animals, two mazes, an awesome playground…honestly the list goes on.
They did a tour of sorts and shared the history of the farm, and explained the growing process for both the trees and sugar cane. It was fascinating.
And beautiful. They also have a huge sunflower field and a long stretch of zinnias. And you know what that means!
Flower pictures and butterflies.
So even though it’s December and there are twinkle lights aplenty and other assorted Christmas themed photo ops my offering for this third day of the DPP is one of my favorite butterfly shots from today.
I realize I could crop it closer to really force the focus onto the butterfly but then I would lose the almost watercolor-esque background and I just needed to keep it intact. I love the blur (bokeh for you technical people) I get from using my 135 lens. My one and only zoom lens spent the majority of the day on my camera but I knew when I had the freedom to do the flowers that I wanted to change it up and get a little more creative with the shots. This is the reason it’s my favorite lens.
Happy Friday, y’all!
I am not a collector of anything particular. I can see my beloved reading this and simultaneously snorting and rolling his eyes but it’s true.
Growing up my mother collected salt and pepper shakers. I think at one point she had at least close to a hundred sets. Pretty sure I was a little sad when she stopped and got rid of them. Her mother, my Grannie Ree, collected owls of all sorts and sizes.
I may have stuff but I don’t collect anything specific. And, truth be told, I have gotten better over the years with not really collecting random stuff. Right, Mr. Hadding? (There really ought to be an affirmative comment here because it has taken work to get to this point 😉 )
A few years ago I came across the Willow Tree figurines and just fell in love with them. The natural color palette and simplicity of design appealed to me but as I was working on my packrat tendencies I haven’t ever purchased any or asked for them. Okay, to be truthful I am pretty sure I dropped a couple of hints here and there halfheartedly but my love does a wee bit better if I am more direct in my requests. I was not certain I wanted them enough to do more than give vague “oh, look how pretty this is!” comments though. Part of that is also because I love surprises and I don’t want to request something and then actually get it because where is the fun in that? (Don’t worry. I don’t hold it against him for not reading my mind or remembering every little “oooh” and “ah” I make over something. The failing here is totally mine and I cop to it. And also, I don’t lack for anything. I’m pretty spoiled.)
But I digress.*
So here is the great confession. I know you probably thought all of that up there was a confession but that was just me rambling. Such is the nature of my blogging but back to the great confession.
I don’t have a nativity set. I had one about twenty-five years ago that was all white and had gold trim that belonged to my mother but it went missing I don’t know when and I never found anything I liked enough to replace it. Except last year my sister gave me a really lovely all in one figurine that is quite pretty. But I have still wanted a regular, multiple piece creche to put out. And this year I decided to get the Willow Tree set.
Y’all it came in this morning and it is so pretty! I knew I wanted to use it for the December Photo Project and I fussed around with setting it up and taking the picture. It just looks peaceful to me. Like that one holy moment of silence as if the whole world holds it’s breathe in awe the way every mama everywhere who has given birth remembers it doing as she held her newborn.
Only this newborn was God incarnate. The Holy One who put on flesh and stepped into time and humanity. Legions of angels sang of His birth, farm animals neighed, mooed, and brayed. I still cannot help but think at some point Mary held that precious little wrinkly babe who probably squawked and cried as he nudged and rooted around looking for milk and comfort that the world faded away and the noise dimmed as she put him to her breast.
Sweet goodness, what a moment that must have been!
Next year I would like to get more pieces. I figure since the wise men really didn’t make their way to Jesus until he was a toddler it’s okay for me to wait to add them to my little scene. For now, amidst all the colorful decorations and pretty sparkly lights, there is this one spot in the house that will make me pause, to ponder how, in the way that only God’s economy can, the simple completely and accurately reflects the magnitude of what God has indeed done.
God with us.
*Shout out to my friend Lauren 🙂
And you know what that means, friends? The December Photo Project is back!
I have been participating in this fun little photo challenge since around 2010 I think. It has spanned three different blogs, years of not missing any days, completely bailing one year about half way through, actually posting a photo a day and then other times doing a weekly dump of photos. I use my big camera or my phone. I take time and plan out an image or just grab a random snap. I think I have even gotten the shot for the day and barely slid it in before midnight and the start of the next day. Other times I have more than one photo to share.
It is, quite simply, one of my favorite holiday traditions.
Funny how things become so ingrained they become part of our personal liturgy, isn’t it? There are some serious spiritual truths in that I think…the way we read and study the Word, how and when we pray, how we live in community with each other and how all of that becomes who we are, shaping and forming us.
Something to noodle on, don’t you think? I am going to be contemplating it much this year I think, as we are in a new place, literally and figuratively. What things will stay the same, what will change, what new gets added. It makes me grateful for the things that stay. The anchors we hold to even as we let some things go and shift and change.
Anyways, I am just so happy to be back with the DPP! It’s funny how I even have “friends” that I meet once a year during this time in the facebook group. Anyone can join so if you’re interested in learning more about it click on over to View From The Prairie Box and sign up and just start taking a picture a day.
DPP ~ Day 1
It seems fitting to begin the challenge where my day starts.
And off we go! We will see if I make it the whole month through 🙂
I was reading in the book of Luke this morning and a passage really jumped out at me.
“Will anyone of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table?’ Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'”
It can be so tempting to think what is asked of us in difficult times, in hard times, with difficult and hard people, is too much. More than they deserve, more than we can muster. The betrayal is too deep. The pain too severe. The disregard too great.
The world seems brittle right now; heavy with anxiety and frustration. Tempers flare and injustice is spotted everywhere. It feels like the weight of life has been slowly tipping over and is about to come crashing down as gravity takes over. But according to these words of Jesus the faithful servant still does what is commanded of him. No matter what is being asked of him.
Encourage each other anyway.
Bear with each other anyway.
Because it is only our duty to do so.
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name Christ is the Lord!
I seriously try to not only take the picture on any given day but also post it as well but sometimes life just happens and you get a catch up post such as this one. The pictures were taken in a timely manner and a couple of them even made it to the facebook group but a few didn’t.
But not only am I playing catch up with this post but I am also making myself up to date since I am also sharing today’s picture already.
That’s right I took today’s picture at around 6:30 this morning. Gotta love those twinkle lights!
Day 3 ~ My girls leave bits and pieces of themselves all over the kitchen table.
Day 4 ~ My son loves Legos and sets up these epic battle showdowns.
Day 5 ~ I participated in my first Christmas Market. Actually my first market ever. It was a fun experience selling my cards and prints and I think I would do it again.
Day 6 ~ Advent. How my soul drinks it in.
Day 7 ~ I have always enjoyed the early morning quite but there is an added loveliness to it during the holiday season with the warm beautiful decorations.
So there ya go! Not only caught up but current. Let’s see what the rest of the week has in store and maybe I can stay on top of things 🙂
As is usually the case with the DPP I took multiple shots today. Sometimes I will choose one and sometimes I just share however many I like.
Today, I had two favorites.
Happy first day of the December Photo Project! I have been participating in this yearly event for about eight years now and I am so ready for it this year because, hello? Global pandemics have a way of taking it out of you!
Honestly, the start of covid had very little negative impact in my life. As a matter of fact the lockdown was practically pleasant because it brought all of our normal hustle and bustle to a halt. I am grateful for the way my local and state government has handled the situation but the last few months have begun to take their toll despite that. Our world has become brittle and so quick to flare in anger and ugliness and it is hard to not give over to the fog of anxiety.
Life is hard right now and I have felt it in my soul. It takes work not to be overcome or pressed down. For a lot of people I know they fought back by jumping into the holiday spirit early and with gusto. More power to them and for this year I have no judgement for early decorating, blaring the Christmas tunes, and going ahead and buying that eggnog in October. I get it. I almost did the same because how are your spirits not lifted by twinkle lights?
But I made myself wait. It had become as much of a spiritual battle for me as a mental one. I needed to lean into the darkness. To feel the sense of almost hopelessness that was as effective at sucking the life out of us as the hot humid summer air.
Because I needed to put my hope outside of this place. I didn’t want a distraction, I wanted deliverance. To see the brokeness and know that a promise had been made and a promise had been kept. I needed to yearn for the first match flare of the Advent candle as a reminder, as a comfort, that still another promise has been made and will be kept.
The world needed a Messiah and He came. He was born and He lived and He died and yet lives again.
He has come.
He will come.
So now I inhale the deep promise of His faithfulness and I look past the darkness to the hope of Christ and my soul is quieted, I find peace.
And because He is more kind than we deserve He lets us have the rhythm of times and seasons and the joy of rituals. A small but so enjoyable means of grace in each year for me is the fun of joining other people from all over in a photo project the month of December. Sometimes I will get my big camera out and other times it will just be a quick grab with my cell phone but every day (or nearly abouts) I will share a picture from my day. A visual diary of all that is good and fun and beautiful. And there is much of that to be found even in the midst of a pandemic.
One way of coping with the odd times we find ourselves in is by finding the humor in it. Maybe it has something to do with the old adage, “If I didn’t laugh I would cry”? I know I have been a amused by various things in 2020 and as I was preparing cards that I will be selling at a Christmas Market this weekend I hopefully channeled some of the whimsical haha of the year.
I don’t know if others will find it as funny as I do but making a Christmas tree out of toilet paper rolls seemed sort of fitting to my way of thinking. I hope it tickles your funny bone too. And I also love a good word pun hence the “Merry Christmas Dear!” with the cute little jewel on his nose.
DPP 2020 ~ Day 1
God Is Love
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
We love because he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
~1 John 4:7–21