A Child No More

So our last child has officially  entered her teen years. It was so odd to realize that the chapter of “childhood” has come to a close for us. We are a houseful of adults and teenagers now with all that accompanies such a season.

On Claire’s actual birthday I shared a post about growing up and I stand by each word but man, looking through the lens and seeing the last visage of girlhood round on her cheeks knowing that over the next few months and years it will completely fade as she becomes a young woman squeezed my heart a bit.

Certain angles and expressions reveal the face of the woman she is on her way to becoming.

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Like most girls her age she gets a bit self conscious in front of the camera but I still managed to catch a couple of smiles.

IMG_0127 (1) And that little half smile almost smirk of hers.

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I told Rob how funny it was to see glimpses of her sisters in her but also a certain expression of mine that is so familiar on her face. It’s something to do with the lift of her eyebrow.

IMG_0207 (1) There is something so beautiful about this moment in the life of a girl I think. All of the innocence of childhood still present at the same time womanhood is beginning to bloom and hints of it peek through.

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It’s an interesting intersection of past and present and future.  The next image is one of my favorites from our day out and let me tell you it was quite a little adventure to get to this spot. We had gotten off the boardwalk because I could see another photographer doing a family session and wanted to stay out of their way but the spot I wanted to get too was a little further down.

To get to my spot we had to hoist ourselves back onto the boardwalk without the aid of stairs…me with my camera and $900 rented lens and Claire in her gown holding onto all four rocks she had picked up on our walk by the railroad tracks and beach. We managed it but I am really glad no one was around to see our little circus sideshow.

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Claire has been a collector of rocks since she was a little bitty girl. Her tastes are finally becoming more discriminant thankfully but she still wants all the rocks so limits have to be in place. I had to laugh as we headed to the parking lot to see her juggling her treasures.

It was a relief to this mama’s heart to still see the little girl fascinated with bits and pieces of earth even as I had been seeing so clearly all the changes that show she is growing up.

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This woman child living in my home is so full of energy and life! It’s work to restrain it and direct it to an appropriate direction sometimes but I wait full of expectation and anticipation to see where God takes this bright soul to reveal Himself through her.

“I have one desire now ~ to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.” ~Elisabeth Elliot

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Grow Up, Child Of Mine

We live in a world that extends childhood too far on one end by shirking responsibility and shortens it to much on the other by pushing children into a hyper sexualized behave like an adult world they are not ready for.

The response oftentimes to the too soon extreme is the battle cry, “Let them be children!” and while I certainly do not argue or disagree with that sentiment I want to address it from a slightly different perspective. Usually when we say “just let them be kids” we are only focusing on those things like the overly suggestive clothing, social media usage, and boy/girl relationship issues while still neglecting the teaching of responsibility at the other end of the spectrum.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately mainly because my Claire, the baby of the family, turns thirteen today and it’s weird to have my last one entering into those teenage years. There is a definite sense of the closing of one era in the life of our family.

Here, in no particular order, are some things I have been thinking about with regard to this topic.

Grow up, child of mine.

Give thought to the woman you want to be and practice today becoming her.

Grow up, child of mine.

Set aside silliness and learn what joy and contentment look like. It’s the difference between cotton candy and a four course meal. Only one of those will nourish your soul.

Grow up, child of mine.

Forsake foolishness and pursue wisdom, she is indeed your sister. Wisdom will keep you safe from the damaging effects of bad decisions and foolish choices.

Grow up, child of mine.

Reject the world’s idea of beauty and find out what God says is beautiful and be that. It’s two very different things, one of which fades and becomes less and less and one that becomes more glorious over time.

Grow up, child of mine.

Don’t mistake sarcasm for wit. Let your words be apples of gold in settings of silver. Relying on sarcasm all the time only makes you dull and unkind.

Grow up, child of mine.

Be willing to slow down and wait for the right things at the right time. Your enjoyment and pleasure in good things is directly connected to your maturity and ability to appreciate it.

Grow up, child of mine.

Put aside doing only the easy things and choose the hard things. It will make you strong and able to handle with grace and dignity the difficult things that come to us all in life.

Grow up, child of mine.

Put away laziness. Laziness will ultimately create more work for yourself and will also cause much dissension with those around you who are adversely affected by your idleness.

Grow up, child of mine.

Learn to not take yourself too seriously. It will make you much more pleasant to be around if you are able to laugh at yourself.

Grow up, child of mine.

Value the things and people that have come before you. Nothing that is now existed without the help and assistance of the past.

Grow up, child of mine.

Embrace the truth that while everything is lawful not everything is needful. Just because you can does not mean you should.

Grow up, child of mine.

Own your sin and mistakes. It is not always someone else’s fault. Remember that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Grown up, child of mine.

Be quick to forgive and always assume the best of others. Don’t expect something from others that you are unwilling to give.

Grow up, child of mine.

Choose to love others more than yourself. A self-centered person exhausts those around them rather than being a source of comfort and rest.

Grow up, child of mine.

Seek knowledge more than entertainment. There is untold value in feeding your soul.

Grow up, child of mine.

For in this way you may be an example to others in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.

Grow up, daughter of mine.

For you are called to be a polished corner stone cut for the structure of the palace, made to be a pillar that will support and uplift the house that God is building for His name out of living stones.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 

~Hebrews 13:20–21

Happy birthday, sweet Claire.

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Think On These Things

Blessings for Obedience

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.

Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.

Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.

Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways.

And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.

And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.

The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. 

~Deuteronomy 28:1–14

Happy birthday to the one whom my soul loves. May the Lord continue to bless you with obedience and faithfulness.

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Wherever You Are Be All There

She turns twenty-two today.

I’ve got a million things I could say about her.  I could share funny stories or brag about how she lives her life with steadfastness and grace. I could talk about her accomplishments and servants heart. But I think one of her favorite quotes by Jim Elliot sums her up pretty well.

Wherever you are be all there.

You don’t live twenty-two years, however few that may be, without experiencing some kind of disappointment and heart ache. But she has chosen to find her place, to dwell wherever He has lead her…to be all there. Not looking back wishing for what might have been or starring off into wispy day dreams. And if she reaches a closed door then she moves a little slower until the path becomes more clear and then she goes forward with all that is in her, holding nothing back out of fear or uncertainty.

We decided sort of last minute to do birthday pictures yesterday afternoon. Of all things she wanted to go to Graffiti Bridge and leave a mark on it, her mark, if only for a short time. That quote seemed the perfect declaration as she heads into a new year full of more responsibilities and challenges as she starts the nursing program.

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After we got started we realized choosing white as a back ground color was probably a mistake. (We’ve tucked that away for future reference.) We were still pretty happy with how it turned out and we gave an extra can of spray paint to a family visiting from Wisconsin so her birthday shenanigans became part of someone’s vacation story.

We enjoyed taking some more casual pictures wandering around Aragon Court.

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We chased the sun a little.

We might have gotten a little silly too.

But the real fun came when we got out the balloons.

All of a sudden the breeze that everyone in Pensacola had been longing for all this hot humid day decided to show up.

There was nothing to do but roll with it.

The only thing left was to throw a little glitter and dance.

Happy birthday, sweet Sarah. You are a blessing and a joy.

The will of God is always bigger than we bargain for,
but we must believe that whatever it involves,
it is good, acceptable and perfect.
~ Jim Elliot

My Dad

For as long as I can remember my Dad has always worked with his hands.

Blunt with wide palms and thick fingers he could coax wood into beautiful pieces of furniture, trim out a room, or make the most amazing kitchen cabinets.

He would tinker with our cars and keep them running far longer than should have been reasonably expected.

For a time when I was about Claire’s age he made these beautiful air brushed stained glass windows.

He’s refinished guns until the wood has a soft and satin gleam.

He’s carved knives that are perfectly weighted and balanced and to hear people say it, sharp enough to cut your hand off.

His hands are one of the first things I picture about my Dad.

They’ve always been constant…steady and strong, sure in their work.

And safe.

There was never a time growing up that I was afraid. Not of someone hurting me. Not of trying something new because I knew he was always there, those strong steady hands ready to catch me if I failed, helping figure out what went wrong.

Those hands have been there all of my life pointing me to the path of Truth…to the way of the cross.

His birthday is today. Physically, his hands move a little slower and they may not be quite as steady as they used to be but he’s still creating beautiful things from chunks of wood.

We talk a lot in our home and church about beauty, about being imitators of God by taking something and transforming it into something else. Recently, the kids were over visiting their PawPaw and Nana and Abby and Claire came home with these beautiful wooden boxes he had made.

It gives me a great deal of joy to see my girls using something their PawPaw made…Claire keeps various treasures in hers and Abby found that hers is the perfect place to keep her ipod.

They will always have these tangible reminders of the faithfulness of their PawPaw in the same way that I have memories of countless times in the workshop with him.

Happy birthday, Pop! We wish you much happiness and love celebrating this day. Thank you for the strength and steadiness of hand and heart that reaches from through out my life into the lives of your grandchildren.

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments.
Psalm 78:4-7