Don’t Fear the Storms

Into every life a little rain must fall.

Isn’t that what they say? I’m deep into the psalms in my morning quiet time and storms do come but the testimony of God’s people is one of faithfulness and steadfast love, of rescue and salvation, of deliverance and praise.

He is mighty to save, abounding in steadfast love and mercy.

Maybe that’s why I love a good storm. I see the clouds moving in and feel the change in the air and know that the world is going to be washed clean.

After the thunder fades and the lighting ceases I know there will be a freshness, a newness to the earth. Some things will be removed and washed away. Some things will be refreshed and nurtured.

And no matter what the earth will still stand, upheld by his hand.

Do not fear the storms that come your way, friend, no matter how fierce they seem.

“When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Psalm 94:18-19

Hidden Beauty

Rob mows the yard and pasture about once every ten days or so right now. In the summer it will more than likely be a weekly event. What I have been amazed by is how very quickly the clover pops back up. We get large patches of them all over our property and I enjoy their sweet smell.

I did recently learn something new about the plant. I thought the flower was the puffy white part and it sort of is but actually each one of those “petals” is considered an individual flower. Pretty cool, huh?

I am fascinated by wildflowers in general. I had noticed some tiny little purple flowers growing in the field while walking the dogs and grabbed my camera and extension tubes real quick so that I could photograph them before Rob and the mower made their way over to do their thing.

It’s like a whole secret world tucked away in grass and you might miss it if you aren’t trying to figure out if your dog is eating worms and such.

There were also tiny white flowers.

I really love moving in so close and creating such a narrow point of view…isolating such small details. I think what intrigues me the most is the knowledge that God creates such hidden beauty knowing that it isn’t always noticed or appreciated. Yet, he made them anyway and drops them in random fields. But they’re there declaring his goodness and beauty.

It’s Holy Week and it started by a declaration war. We tend to view Christ riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey humbly and graciously accepting the praise of the people. Our idea of the beauty of this scene is a soft and gentle watercolor.

In truth, he came riding in declaring himself victor of a war they didn’t even realize was about to be fought. They would see no beauty in the twisted crown of thorns or the jagged wooden cross but their seemingly unholy loveliness would pierce the darkness of sin and death to reveal the greatest beauty ever seen…the empty tomb.

God is the master Creator and from the beginning of time his delight has been to tuck beauty into the most uncommon and unexpected places. There is a beauty and truth and goodness in every circumstance you may be facing because he is there. Look for it. Look for him. And rejoice that your King lives and reigns.

Think On These Things

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;

hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,

for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
 for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters;

they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.

And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;

they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.

By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,

he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 107

It’s All Good

I was having a bit of a rough minute this morning.

Rob has been out of town all week and I am ready for him to be home. I have a few things weighing on my mind and the pups were/are being a bit of a handful. To top it off my emotions seem to be a bit, shall we say, emotional?

All in all, I was feeling a tad sorry for myself but trying to buck up and give myself a pep talk. In the course of said pep talk I was reminding myself of Psalm 139 and encouraging myself to remember that God knows my frame; I’m fine. Everything is fine.

I sit at the dining room table in the morning to read my Bible and go over my prayer cards. I refreshed my cup of coffee and sat down deciding to read Psalm 139 in full.

I literally laughed out loud as I read verses 11 & 12 because in that exact moment the sun rose just enough above the trees to flood my table with its glow.

“If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Such a funny and sweet reminder from Him not to let myself get overwhelmed. As if He wore glasses He’d be looking over the top of them saying, “You’re fine.”

And it’s true.

It’s all good.

What’s Happening Now

Ah, the first Monday of the new year. Always ripe with possibility and promise.

I love the wide open potential that buzzes in the air this time of year but I also like what happens when I look back at the past year. I am particularly amazed and humbled by all that God has done in the last twelve months. If you had told me this time last year that our family would be moving to Louisiana I probably would have snorted with disbelief.

But God has a way of surprising us, doesn’t He? I had no idea the challenges and struggles we would face, nor the beautiful ways He would show Himself faithful and kind beyond measure.

So much change. So much shifting and shaping, conforming us to the image of His Son. I look back at what He has done and look forward at what He will do and I just marvel.

One thing I came to realize over the weekend is that while we are happy and settling in here in our new home I have been waiting for things to click into place and feel normal. But a major move around the holidays, and getting not one but two puppies, doesn’t really lend itself to feeling normal so there has still been this sense of fluctuating to our days. Our place here feels comfortable so I wouldn’t say I’ve been floundering through my days. More like a joyous doggie paddle though and I am ready to feel the routine of structure.

As I was contemplating this the other day I thought of something important. In the past, any changes that came our way, even significant ones, upset the routine to varying degrees but there were key components that the upset happened within. The framework of our established life if you will, our church and community and school, all acted as a sort of buffer that the change bounced around in until it settled in its place.

I have been assuming things would just settle but the framework is completely different and to a certain extent needs to be rebuilt as we develop and grow relationships here. Although Abby and Claire are both finding their place in some ways I feel like we are in a temporary mode…with the wedding in a few months there is an unsettled feeling with regards to Emily. She has felt almost homeless I think driving back and forth from here and Monroe. And Sam is doing great but we are looking forward to finding him work and purpose outside of the house now that the holidays are over.

Even though we are putting roots down I know there are still changes to come and honesty I am excited about them even if they are as yet unknown. How could I not be with such a testimony of God’s goodness and mercy in the last year standing at my back?

Like tons of other people across the globe I am taking advantage of the new year to make some conscientious changes to my health and well being. Knowing I will need to be on the wrong side of the camera that I am less comfortable with in three short months for wedding pictures has a way of motivating me 🙂 Changes to my diet and a family membership to our local parks and rec center are definitely helping with that.

I was recently asked about what my plans are for my photography here and honestly I have no idea. I’m basically just going with the flow and seeing what develops. (See what I did there? That is high photographer humor right there is what that is.) My love did get me a mini drone for Christmas and I am super excited about using it! There is a bit of a learning curve since I am not naturally inclined toward technology and I am well, to put it kindly, directionally challenged.

You might also have noticed some changes here on the blog and hopefully there will be more to come. One plan that I do have is to spend more time here and so I think an overhaul will happen. I think my photography site will probably just migrate over here too but I haven’t decided about the recipe blog even though I don’t post there often. It would make sense to have them all back in one place and truthfully the reason I have a hard time giving up the food blog as a separate thing is simply because of the name I came up with. Which really is a silly reason if I am not actually going to be blogging recipes regularly. If I can get this one set up the way I like then more than likely it will all come under this site though.

In summary, I am looking forward to all that God has in store in the year ahead. I know there will be hard things as well as good things, severe mercies mixed with gentle ones, but if I learned nothing else in the last few years I have learned to lean into what He is doing with all my might.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

Proverbs 3: 5-8

DPP ~ Day 17

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.

Forgive anyway.

Love anyway.

Serve anyway.

Pray anyway.

Do good anyway.

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!

DPP ~ Day 16

We finally got a tree up last night and decorated tonight so you can probably expect a little more glittery and sparkly posts in the next few days.

It is actually an artificial tree because the live ones we found locally didn’t balance cost and prettiness at all and it is just too late timewise to go to the cutting farm a little ways away from here. But I really am surprised by how much I love it. Early in our marriage we had an ugly artificial tree. (My love has come a long way from Grinch to Kringle and literally suggesting we put our first Christmas tree in the spare room. Thank goodness for church calendars and becoming more liturgical.)

For those who might be new to my world my son is nineteen and autistic. It has made for some fabulous stories through the years and one of my all time favorites involves that ugly fake tree we had for years and Sam when he was around eight or nine. I had drug the Charlie Brown looking tree out of the attic and was working very hard to assemble and coax some fluff into the branches when Sam comes strolling through the living room and casually says, “Hey, Oswald is back!” and just as casually kept walking toward the kitchen.

When we put the tree up last night I floated the idea by him of naming this one Oswald Jr but it was a no go. Instead we now have a seven and a half foot beautiful prelit tree named Oscar. He is quite dazzling and per the girls’ request he is bedecked in red and gold.

DPP ~ In Which I Missed A Day

It seems that weekends are going to be a tad bit busy this month but I wasn’t expecting to not have a single photo to share from Saturday. I mean, not even a quick snap with my phone? But apparently it was so.

I had pictures from both my phone and my real camera on Friday though. I guess I wanted to make sure I was covered. Plus, the one from my phone? I would have taken it regardless of the dpp challenge. It’s not everyday that you see your 14 year old baby snoozing away with her teddy bear. The in between spaces of full on teenager and still a child squeeze a mama’s heart. Poor girl missed six days of school because of hives but I am happy to say that she has been hive free for three days now and went back to school today.

Day 11 ~ 1st one is from my phone. The second one was just because I liked the play of light and shadow by my bedroom window.

So I am really surprised that I didn’t actually take a picture on Saturday at all. But honestly, I can’t really remember the day well. I told y’all, it’s been busy around here. So right on into Sunday.

Day 13 ~ I love how beautiful our church looks all decorated for Advent and the Christmas season!

I love my African violet and frequently take its picture but the subdued light of our gray morning really caught my eye.

Day 14 ~ This guy thrives in our bathroom with all of the diffused light and steam from the shower. It was a gift from some dear friends and it really just makes me happy to look at it.

So now I am all caught up and I have only actually missed one day so far. Does that get cancelled out because some days I take more than one?

DPP -Day 10

The morning started so very very foggy. I loved how it diffused the sun behind the trees.

Once the fog burned off it was a beautiful day. I did a little running around and took care of some errands. I am so far behind in my Christmas shopping! But I did get a tiny tiny bit done today.

Poor Claire has been home all week dealing with hives and just generally not feeling well. It was so sweet to see her laughing with Rob this evening.

DPP ~ Day 9

The beginning of my day ~
My love. Just in case I didn’t take any other photos.

But I did and while he is my favorite I liked having a Christmas shot for the DPP today since yesterday was a bunch of chopped leeks.

Not sure which I prefer.

Or
Yeah, I think I do actually have a preference afterall. I’m going with the second one. What do you think?