DPP ~ Day 7

Last night I was taken ill quite suddenly and that was the reason I dropped a picture with no explanation. I didn’t really think much about it more than not wanting to miss a day but my Mother took me to task (in a genteel southern lady way that was very reminiscent of my Grannie Re) about not saying anything about the picture. So, for those of you keeping up at home yesterday’s photo was a Lego helicopter that my son Sam made. Oh, and MacGyver  was flying it. That boy has quite the vivid imagination!

My image for this the seventh day of DPP is a quick shot I grabbed after Vesper services. The kids love blowing out the Advent candles almost as much as they enjoy rushing the communion table on Sundays after the service for any bread that is left over. We don’t have an official list of who gets to do it when but we do try to keep up with who has had a turn and who hasn’t. It gets easier each week with more candles being lit. Tonight my beloved had two of the cutest helpers, don’t you think?

Things To Remember In The New Year

1.) Hard does not mean bad.

Having to work hard for some thing makes our appreciation that much greater. Hard means can often bring us to a good end if we will just stay the course. Hard circumstances have a place in God’s working in our lives…suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope. And even more, that hope does not put us to shame.

2.) Change is good.

This is a doozy for me! In a sermon a few weeks back Rob mentioned that we often view change as death. And most of us resist that death, that change, because we like living the way we live. But we are a people called to death because we are a people of the Resurrection and we know that true life comes from the dying.

3.) Busy shouldn’t always be a complaint.

Obviously, too much busy can be bad. And busy for the wrong reasons can be bad. Sometimes, we like the busy because it’s where we get our identity from…how we define ourselves. Or it’s a shield we hide behind so we don’t have to deal with something or think about something. Sometimes we keep busy just so we have something to complain about.

I have a friend who is an accomplished pianists and one morning I was sitting beside her while she played this beautiful piece of music. I mentioned how busy the page looked with all the musical notes and sweeping lines and other notations. She said she never chooses a piece that isn’t busy because it makes for a more interesting listen.

Wrongly ordered busyness in our lives makes for a cacophony of sound with out of place rests and clanging cymbals of aggravation. But rightly ordered busyness creates a symphony of praise as it is worked out in the day to day doing.

For sure, if we are living the wrong kind of busy and if we allow the wrong kind of hard into our lives (the kind that is a result of our own selfish desires and demands) and the wrong kind of change into our lives (the kind that stems from never being content or just old and set in our ways) then our song follows the tune of the world.

In this year ahead I want to remember these things and move to the beat of a different drum…to heed the command to sing a new song to the Lord.

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song,
for He has done marvelous things!
His right hand and holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1
Linking up with a few friends this week as we consider the new year and new beginnings.

In Every Thing Give Thanks

A recent study found that when completely healthy people discussed pain the part of the brain that copes with pain became very active. The conclusion that scientists came to is that talking about your pain can actually make things worse.

On Wednesday evenings Rob is teaching through the book of James and his homily this past week dealt with trials and suffering that we face and how we should deal with them.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”

It got me to thinking that I really don’t have much suffering going on in my life. My life is good…pleasant. I have a comfortable home, my basic needs are met and I get the occasional night of Chinese take out and a Lindt candy bar to enjoy. I’m in love with my husband and he with me, we have five great kids and a wonderful church family. We have a fantastic school that our children attend so we’re part of a great community there. We’ve got good friends and good health. Life really is sweet.

But because I’m human and we all live in a fallen world I do face trials of various kinds. Some are hard, others harder, and some only exist inside my imagination. Some of my trials are worse than what some others face and some of mine don’t even begin to compare to the genuine suffering that some people endure on a daily basis.

So what does it look like to suffer well? To, as James goes on to say, remain steadfast under trial? The more I have pondered the more I have come to see what it does not look like.

I have a sweet young friend with three children under the age of three. Her husband works from early morning until early evening and yet you never hear her complain. Now it would be utterly ridiculous to assume that because she doesn’t complain must mean that she has no struggles and her life is like some kind of Disney movie where she only communicates with her children via song and birds help fold her laundry.

She has three children under the age of three. Of course she has various trials and sufferings! How could she not? She’s a sinner, her husband is a sinner, and so are her sweet beautiful children. But her struggle is not lessened by complaining. Her burden is not made any lighter because she makes sure everyone knows that the struggle is real, y’all. This is, I think, the gentle and quiet spirit that God deems beautiful.

Another friend has four children of her own, yet without hesitation she took on the child care of a friend’s little one when it became an urgent need. It’s not surprising to see her with another friend’s three littles when a day shift has been scheduled either. She has a gift for helping others in this way no matter the extra work it may create for her and she uses it to serve others. 

Still another friend has suffered more than a few tragic miscarriages but I didn’t even know this for a long time. She doesn’t live in the pangs of the past constantly bringing up the horrible things she has gone through. But she does quietly use those hard and difficult experiences to minister to others when the time is right. This is how we comfort those with the comfort we ourselves have been given.

What I am getting at is that suffering well doesn’t look like complaining. If your circumstances are genuinely difficult you won’t need to constantly remind people…they’ll know. Suffering well doesn’t look like cutting yourself off from the outside world. It doesn’t shrink your world to what happens within the walls of your own home. Remaining steadfast under a trial means that you don’t hold onto and nurture the pain of the circumstances. And part of that is not constantly trying to prove that your suffering is worse than what someone else goes through. You know you’re not in some kind of competition and you can allow others to have their struggle without it invalidating yours or feeling the need to bring up your own hardships.

In Philippians we are told that suffering is a gift. And I think suffering well means that you accept the gift graciously seeking to glorify God through it. But that can be so hard to do! I know this. But God has told us how to do it.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.  ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks. A grateful heart, one thankful even for the really hard stuff, the trials and the suffering is the key. Knowing that each and every moment we live is the will of God…how comforting and precious the thought!

Throughout Scripture the words thanksgiving and sacrifice can be found together. God doesn’t tell us that it will be easy but He does say,

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” ~ Psalm 50:23

My prayer is that God will use these simple words of mine to encourage you as you walk through your various trials and sufferings. May you bear your burdens well and in a manner that is worthy of the calling He has given you.

This blog post on Thanksgiving is part of a blog circle I participate in each month. As my fellow blogging friends add their links I will share them here so you can enjoy the goodness.

Julie    Connie

Tis The Season!

No, no, no I am not talking about jingle bells and Christmas lights.

I’m talking about this season…Autumn.

Oh, how I love fall and even though it won’t really ramp up for another month or so I can feel it in my bones. The urge to bake and make stuff gets strong this time of year for some reason. I seriously get all crafty and want to spend time in the kitchen.

You’ve probably never heard of autumn cleaning, having you? Nope, just the good ol’ spring cleaning yet every year at this time I get the itch to organize and declutter.

It could be just the relief from our crazy hot summers but I think it’s that I feel like all of my sense are engaged.

A hot cup of coffee or tea just tastes better in the cool crisp morning.

I just love the flavorful aroma of soups and stews or a big pot of chili. And the smell of a cozy fire or a big old bonfire makes me happy.

Ever since I was a kid I have loved the sound of acorns crunching under my feet.

Or the crackle of leaves that pull double duty and also delight my eyes with their glorious colors.

I realize that Florida doesn’t experience autumn in the same way as other places further north but oh, how I love it! We’re just catching glimpses right now but in a few weeks it’ll come in all it’s amazing color and crispness. We’ll all trade our flip flops in for fuzzy socks and warm sweaters (at least on some days) and we’ll go outside and breathe in the fresh air. We’ll revel in the wild flowers and gentle walk into winter.

This post is part of the monthly Circle of Faith blog hop that I’m part of. Pop on over to visit my friends as they share some beautiful pictures and thoughts on the seasons.

Julie   Sandra   Connie

Back To School

It’s paper and pencils.

New shoes and socks.

Early bed times and afternoon snacks.

Homework, quizzes and tests.

Field trips and projects; PE and recess.

We are in our third week of school already. Also, our first year with a college student. That alone has been an adjustment and has prompted discussions and lots of stories. On her second morning of class Sam bombarded Sarah with questions with no pause for her to actually answer him.

“How is UWF?Do you like your teacher?Have you made any new friends?”

I’m happy to say that she is doing just fine and handling this new world just fine

Our sophomore is doing great. So happy to be done with Latin and diving right into Greek and just overall doing really well with her studies. She is steady and sure as she transitions into the Rhetoric stage of school.

Sam.

Sam is once again proving that autism is a gift in our lives…a gift heavy at times for sure, but a gift nonetheless. How he interacts and processes information is so different from “typical” people that it forces us to interact with information that isn’t new to us in a way that makes it fresh. It causes us to find new ways and new words to explain things long understood and almost made boring by that long held understanding. When he is working through reading and hearing lectures on Eusebius and wants to know how the new man is different from the old man just quipping about the old man being dead and all things being made new really isn’t going to cut it. Talking about being a Christian in light of that death and resurrection in a way that he will begin to grasp enlivens the conversation and makes you continue to ponder the grace of God and what He has actually done to us long after Samuel has closed his books and headed to bed.

Abby is new to logic school and if you know much about classical education then you understand that is a significant shift. She had a great summer and really stepped up to some new and more mature responsibilities though so I am confident she will find her feet soon and be just fine. The sweet child will serve you in any way that you need. She will love you to pieces and make you as comfortable as she can possibly make you. But taking notes and keeping up with assignments and studying abstract concepts requires a lot more than she is used to giving. I am reasonably sure that I will have more gray hair at the end of this year then I am starting with. I think seventh grade is one of the hardest transitions in life…especially for girls. But she will be fine. I will be fine. At least that is what Rob keeps telling me.

Our little third grader is doing just fine and dandy and about what you’d expect. Her teacher has already told her that if she ever needs a substitute then she will be sure to give Claire a call since she thinks she can tend everybody’s business anyway. I’m so thankful for a teacher that will love my child in spite of her bossiness. It’s going to be a great year for her and I am excited for her.

All in all back to school is going just fine for all of us. We’re feeling our way along, seeing what needs to be tweaked and changed to meet the needs of each and bed time is a welcome friend in the evenings after doing Latin and science and Bible history.

Speaking of Bible history…Claire is learning about various Old Testament stories and the book of Judges. Without fail whenever we are studying her card about wicked King Eglon and how Ehud defeated him I find myself humming the theme song from Ghost Busters…Eglon gets jumbled in my head to Egon. Every single time.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

This post is part of a blog circle that I participate in once a month with some fabulous friends literally from all over the world. Be sure to take a minute to click through the links tot heir posts on being back in school. You’ll be blessed and encouraged and get to see some really great pictures.

Julie   Tim  Connie  Patricia

The Favor of the Lord

Have you ever known someone for a little while and then the more you know them the more you enjoy them?

That has been my experience with this sweet family.
Amy was Claire’s first grade teacher last year and the more time I spend with her the more I love her sweet smile and gentle spirit.
It’s always such a joy to spend time with her precious family. The devotion between her and her husband and their desire to raise a God honoring family just shines through.
Plus, Mr. J apparently really enjoys my company.
Pace, FL, Milton, Fl, family photographer
He and big sis are just about the cutest too.
family portraits, Milton, FL Carpenter's Park
We had the best time doing their portraits despite the sudden dip in temperature that weekend. And I was thrilled that they were willing to come to Carpenter’s Park for their session. The beautiful scenery was the perfect backdrop for their lovely family.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

and establish the work of our hands upon us;

yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90:17



Blog Circle

Back in August of last year my very first post here was part of a blog circle with a group of amazing and talented wedding photographers. Also busy, amazing, and talented wedding photographers. See, the plan was to have a theme each month which was fine in September but then it just sort of fell off the radar I think. And then of course the holidays came and ain’t nobody got time for dat. But thanks to some industrious and organized people we have a list of themes for the new year so that we can work on each month at our own pace.

I’m excited about this because seriously, there is some amazing eye candy and story telling by this group of people. And they are pretty nice to those of us who are maybe not in the same skill level. It’s kind of like the great ball players who are really nice to the water boy 🙂

This month’s theme is black and white. When I first started shooting it was with film and I shot differently when using black and white film. I’d visualize differently because I was thinking in terms of monotones and blacks, whites and grays. When I started this theme I realized how much less I’ve done that since I’ve gone to digital. And, honestly, I’m not really happy about that. Sure you can click a button and move some sliders around in post processing to convert any image to black and white but there is something different I think about an image that has been conceived in the often dramatic and mysterious world of black and white, nurtured and created with that purpose. Not that some images aren’t converted from color to b/w with success…they are. I just realized how much I had actually limited myself by having the option to do it later rather than in camera. Of course it’s possible that this is just my weird perception too.

I’m actually going to show a mix of black and white images…some current and taken just for this theme and a few from back in the day. Hope you enjoy them!

One of the great things about black and white images is the way it can remove distracting elements and really allow you to see more of the story.

In portraits it can really focus all the attention on your subject.
Revealing vulnerability.
Or the soft newness and innocence of newborns and toddlers.

It can add a sense of timelessness to the ordinary. 

And be dramatic and moody.

Adding a touch of mystery to the commonplace.

My Mother doesn’t care for black and white photography. When I was shooting film she would always ask me if I had run out of the color kind. She likes bold color and that’s fine and good. Color has it’s place obviously. But this themed project has reminded me that I need to focus on black and white more as an art form itself rather than just a conversion option for some images.

For more about black and whites…and to see some beautiful examples…I invite you to visit photographer Lauren Kinde for some really interesting black and whites.

The Color of White

When Claire was about three you could ask what her favorite color was and she would always give the unusual answer of white. How many three year old girls have you ever met that choose white to be their favorite color? Pink ~ standard. Purple ~ normal. Maybe a blue or a green. But white? She’s the only one I’ve ever heard answer that way. (True story…we were at a school function for her big sisters and she got SO excited to see little cups of white ice cream. It was adorable.)

The theme for this month’s blog circle was color. I like color. My kids will randomly ask me what my favorite color is and it depends on my mood. But for some reason as I thought about this project I couldn’t get away from white. I realize that for most of us we see white as colorless…the complete absence of color. White is basically the opposite of color. Which is true.

Only it’s also the presence of all the colors.

Seriously. Google the question, “Is white a color?” and you’ll pull up over 400 million results. I clicked through the top five and the answer is yes and no and really depends on what you’re actually asking. It’s gets pretty technical pretty quickly and I just wanted to take pictures of white stuff. I didn’t get very far trying to understand the differences so I just went with it.

Colors are often associated with various emotions. But white…white reflects back what we see with our mind’s eye, with the color palette of our thoughts.

 There is something very soothing about white sheers billowing away from the breezy open window.

The wistfulness of a dandelion.

The excitement of pristine sneakers the night before the first day of school.

The purity of true love in a white wedding gown.

The softness of beauty seen in the petals of a daisy.

The fuzzy promise of warm socks and comfy t-shirts in a ball of cotton.

The unlimited creativity of a blank canvas.

White is open, receptive, vast and endless with possibility.

I think I may have a different answer the next time my kids ask me what my favorite color is 🙂

Don’t forget to click through to Baraboo Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer – Brie + Rob to enjoy more of this kaleidoscope of color blog circle.

Beginnings

The first sound I usually hear in my neighborhood in the morning is a garbage truck. It’s noise usually mingles with the coffee pot brewing as I slowly move from sleep to wakefulness. If I lay still long enough I can begin to make out the sounds of the birds at the feeder. With woods directly behind our home and a lake a few blocks away there are usually quite a few of the winged fellows having breakfast about the time I sip my first cup of coffee.

There. That sounds like a fine beginning for a new blog doesn’t it? I’ve been wanting to start a photography blog for a while now but was having the devil’s own time coming up with the first post. I’d bump ideas around but never got comfortable enough with one to actually sit down and write it out. Then I was reminded of a lifestyle blog circle that a group of photographers were doing and realized that it wasn’t too late for me to join. Besides having simply amazing photographers there are also monthly themes that will help with my spastic thoughts on this new blog of mine. If I am doing this correctly then another person will link to this blog post and I will be linking to Atlanta Wedding Photographer Zachary Long…who in turn will to another blog. If you are so inclined you can follow from blog to blog and have a virtual trip to neighborhoods literally all over the world. Aren’t you curious to see what the world looks like? I am but first let me take you on a short tour of where I live.

I’ve always been a little envious of those city neighborhoods you see on television. The ones with the grocery store and other local businesses all within  walking distance. Or the older well established ones with stately trees, large front lawns, and winding sidewalks. In actuality my little suburb isn’t anything like that.

But we do have a somewhat fancy entrance. I love the stone work and what you can’t see are these lovely ivy covered stone half walls on either side of the road. I’ve used them plenty of times as a location for portraits.

There are lots of trees and greenery that is well tended by somebody. As a matter of fact my most viewed image on flickr was taken right here last fall.

Along with those birds I mentioned earlier we will occasionally see rabbits. And bugs. I live in Florida so we see a lot of bugs. One of my girls was walking with me today as I took these pictures and she almost got up close and personal with this creature.

Have I mentioned that I really don’t care for spiders? I don’t at all but I was brave because I figured it would be an interesting addition to the other images. I quickly moved on to the lovely manicured lawns and pretty flower beds though.

I guess it’s probably only because of our homeowners association but everyone takes care of their yards and most of them have flowerbeds and decorative grass. My sweet husband enjoys the yard work and I enjoy the color and softness it adds. I do laugh that Rob sometimes sounds like a grumpy old man complaining about those darn kids walking on his grass 🙂

Our home is pretty modest by some standards and rather elaborate by others. It’s roomy and bright and plenty spacious which is good because we have people over a lot. The pool in the back is wonderful and so great to have in this heat. Truth be told I am quite content with my little suburban area and it has very little to do with the pretty well kept yards and nice stone entrance. I am blessed to be a well loved wife and a happy momma to five precious kids. I’d be just as happy living in a cardboard box or rundown shack as long as I was with them.

But probably not nearly as comfortable 🙂