Friday Favorites

I love our sunrises. Maybe it’s because we have property here and don’t live in a neighborhood but it satisfies something in my soul when I see the early morning sun breaking through the trees.

Yesterday, Claire and I made a trip into Houston for a 4-H field trip. Yep, that’s right. I drove into the city, a major city, I might add. The interstate is an fascinating mess but people actually know how to drive it which means everything keeps moving even though there is a ton of traffic. And the skyline is so amazing.

We went to the museum of natural science for the Ramses exhibit. After all our years at Trinitas studying ancient Egypt is was really interesting to see all of the artifacts and mummies.

The museum is huge and after we finished up the planned portion of the visit a group of us did the butterfly center which was super fun. I love butterflies and the museum has created a really beautiful habitat to enjoy them in. I did hesitate going in because their sign said something about free roaming reptiles and I was not sure I was okay with that. Turns out they have an iguana that has free reign of the place so it was all good.

It had been a long day but we still wanted to take a turn through the dinosaur exhibit. Those creatures really were huge.

We thought we were done at this point but then a few of the kids came running up and said we just HAD to go see the hall of gems and minerals as well as the Everyday Faberge exhibit. They were so right and I was so happy we didn’t miss them. All the sparkle 🥰

I am always amazed more and more by God’s creation activity looking at what are basically rocks that He made. The myriad of colors and textures…it is mind boggling!

I do wish they had a before picture to accompany each one. I know they don’t come out of the ground looking like this and I bet it is fascinating to see the process.

Look at this chunk of opal! Isn’t it gorgeous?

And then you can see all the incredible ways man uses these stones to make beautiful and elaborate jewelry.

These are all rings. Aren’t they pretty?

Tiaras and necklaces too, oh my!

There were also some more delicate “everyday” pieces like some very lovely cigarette cases or calling card cases.

I loved this little broach watch made with rubies. The exhibit has a tiny mirror set up under it to reflect the watch on the back.

All in all it was a good trip but our timing was off a little bit. One, I think it is smarter to spend more than one day there and two, do not go at the end of the school year. There were gobs of schools there and it was crowded.

I definitely want to go back and visit the museum district as a whole and Houston in general. There just seems like there is so much to do!

Have a good weekend y’all!

Some Day

Some days I don’t know whether to apologize to my children for the kind of parent I am being or call my parents and apologize for the kind of child I was.

I should probably do both.

Some days, when the weather is so very gray and rainy like it was yesterday, I just want to read and cook or bake. And not necessarily anything good for you but leaning more on the indulgent side. I didn’t bake though. A Florida friend is coming to visit today and I will probably make a pound cake. Oddly enough what I am looking forward to the most is the smell. A freshly baked cake smells almost as good as bread coming out of the oven.

On Sunday Rob read a familiar passage from the last chapter of the book of John and I have been thinking about it the last couple of days. The disciples had been fishing all night but they had no fish to show for it. Jesus, whom they did not recognize at first, told them to put their net out on the right side of the boat and boy, did they score a mess of fish! And more importantly they recognized Christ. Peter was so excited he jumped into the water to get to Him as fast as he could. Once they arrived at the shore the Bible says this,

John 21:9

“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.”

That’s what jumped out to me. Do you see it? Jesus already had fish but He invited the disciples to bring their fish to the table, so to speak, after instructing them on where to catch some.

God suffers no lack yet He graciously invites us to join Him in the work of restoring and renewing the world. Not only that, He provides all that we need and equips us to do so.

How humbling is that? We should approach our days with the trembling excitement of a child being invited into the kitchen to help create the most unbelievably delicious fare.

Someday we will see ever so clearly all the ways that God allowed us to be part of His redemptive work. I think we might be surprised at how He used our to-do lists.

Friday Favorites ~ My Week

It started on Sunday, really. I felt a bit spoiled. A dear friend at church blessed me with my second Willow Tree figurine.

Isn’t she lovely? I now have two pieces so I can officially say I have a collection.

Right after that lovely gift another sweet woman in our church gifted me with one of her beautiful hand made necklaces. She gets her glass mostly from Italy I believe and uses a blowtorch to shape and create her beads. I now have my very own bluebird of happiness. If you want to see more of Ms Helen’s delicate work you can visit her etsy shop. Such beautiful craftsmanship!

And then one of the sweet kids gave me a lovely coloring page. I told you I felt spoiled with all that love being shown to me!

This week I finally got my fat quarters unwrapped and washed. (Remember them? I shared them in a post at the end of February.) I’m not going to lie, looking at that pile of fabric makes me a little nervous but I figure since this is a just because quilt I can take my time and do it little steps at a time. The plan at the moment is to get them ironed and then cut into smaller squares. I will keep you posted on my progress with this particular favorite thing.

One favorite thing I did this week was spend some time with my camera and these really really cool flowers I got at the grocery store. I don’t know what kind they are but how cool are they?

Emily and Hays got back from their honeymoon on Monday. I already got a text asking for a recipe and that made this mama’s heart glad. It also makes me glad that they will come visit us next weekend. And my heart gets downright joyous thinking about Easter when they will come again and so will Sarah and Devon. All my people will be home!

Hays shared some of the pictures he took on their honeymoon and I am going to wrap us this week’s Friday favorites post with a couple that I really loved. Glacier National Park sure is a beautiful place, isn’t it?

How cute is Em in this picture?

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Come On Over

Sometimes I visit this space with a plethora of words and ideas that tumble over themselves as they escape my brain. Sometimes I sit down here to work through a knotty problem out loud. I talk to myself in real life too but there is something about being able to see my words and rearrange them, moving them to their proper place and finding the right order for my thoughts that satisfies.

Sometimes people read what I’ve written and agree or enjoy them and a conversation blooms. Other times a post I am particularly happy with does not get much traction. But the same thing happens with pictures so I don’t sweat it much. I realize I am not writing anything new or taking pictures of things that no one else has ever seen or taken a picture of before. There is a lack of pressure in that knowledge which allows me to slip in here as if we’re grabbing a cup of coffee and just visiting. Or maybe a better description in sitting down with a cup of coffee to read a letter from a friend.

The weather here this morning is pretty blah with a significant storm system moving through later. We took down my hanging plants and moved all my recently potted flowers onto the porch last night in preparation.

Did I tell you about my first experience with planting flowers here in my new lovely home state of Louisiana? About a month ago Rob and I took advantage of a local hardware store’s no tax weekend and bought lots of plants for me to put in the ground. Since my success with flowers and such last year I have been chomping at the bit for spring to arrive. Well, let me tell you…the ground here is nothing like the ground in Florida!

I dug and dug for about twenty minutes and barely scratched out three inches of earth. The ground is so hard here, especially it seems in the area of Carlyss where we live. I decided it would be messy to use the hose but I have rain boots so I could soften the ground with water and dig my holes.

😳

The ground is a dark hard clay that doesn’t absorb water the way the sandy soil in my old yard did. I ended up with a nice ol’ mud puddle for my trouble. Hence I now have about sixteen potted plants and Rob is going to have to get cracking on building me some raised beds.

The people we bought our home from are finally moving to Nashville and slowly but surely getting their stuff out of our pasture. Which means I am spending a lot of time day dreaming about the garden space Rob is letting me design and we are trying to figure out where to put the vegetable garden and a chicken house.

So many projects and plans! My beloved has to keep me reigned in because I can go shooting off in a dozen different directions at a time. My mind hops from flowers to looking at chicken coop plans to knocking down walls to reconfigure the apartment space for Sam now that Emily lives in Monroe. (That was a weird minute for me. Realizing that when she got back from her honeymoon she would not be coming here again. She doesn’t live with us anymore. I mean I was at the wedding. I knew this already. But it just sort of hit me.)

It’s been great having a space for friends to use when they’ve come to visit. I enjoy getting it ready and stocking the little mini fridge and having a tray of snacks ready.

We haven’t started renovating the space yet though so you can come for a visit if you like. We can sit down and have a cup of coffee and conversation in real life.

Of course my Louisiana people are welcome to stop by for a visit anytime. The door is open and the coffee is ready! Y’all can teach me how to grow things around here 😊

Friday Favorites ~ Emily & Hays

15 days to go!

We are so excited for Em and Hays’ big day but it seems a bit surreal to be staring down the barrel of barely two weeks until the wedding. I have people asking me frequently how I am handling everything and if it’s all crazy stressful. Honestly, that stressed me out more because I wasn’t and it made me wonder if I was supposed to only I wasn’t because I wasn’t doing something I was supposed to be doing.

I’m sure the next two weeks will get a bit chaotic as we finish up some last minute little things but it has been a fairly easy process. Partly due to Emily not being anything other than a laid back low maintenance bride and partly because of our wonderful friend who is the creative talent behind Soiree by AJ who is our wedding planner and coordinator. I just know that everything is going to be beautiful.

Sweet Em is a bit exhausted from all of the running back and forth and she is completely over wedding planning. We laughed because when they got engaged we thought 6 months was so quick but goodness, people who take longer are either completely crazy or something. Enough already, let’s have a wedding instead of just endless conversations and decisions!

We were originally going to do Emily’s bridal portraits this weekend while I am in Monroe for a bridal shower given by Hays’ church but the weather has not cooperated and there was a snafu with her bridal veil not arriving. But talking about it did remind me that I shared very few of the engagement pictures I did for them back in November. So today’s Friday favorites are a few of my faves from that day. In no particular order…

I love getting shots like this when a couple is really laughing. Add to it being black and white and I am in love with the final result.

If I had had any doubt about the beauty of the state of Louisiana it was put to rest the afternoon we did their pictures. The bayous are simply gorgeous and Hays & his mama knew exactly where the best spots were for pictures. Especially that time of year with the gorgeous colors.

My girl seems to have a wee bit of sass going…

And thank you to whomever lives on the other side of the bayou and thought it was a good idea to put those little lights along your decking. It was and I love this picture the most I think.

We are so excited for Emily and Hays and we are looking forward to celebrating God’s kindness in leading them to each other with the ones we love. See y’all in a couple of weeks!

A Monday on a Tuesday

We were out of town this past weekend and came back on Monday so yesterday sort of functioned as my Monday complete with accidentally pulling my blinds down off my bedroom windows, Claire dropping a whole watermelon on the floor (a surprisingly loud thump considering how big the juicy splatter was) followed by me dropping a brand new bag of cat food all over the laundry room.

Sigh. Some days are just like that I guess. But you know what? It was still a good day. I mean, you know how sometimes a Monday sort of day happens and it makes you want to just climb back into bed and hide under the covers? Thankfully it wasn’t like that. Instead it was just a day full of some ridiculousness.

Oddly enough I found myself contemplating how love covers a multitude of sins. Not because any of those Abbott and Costello incidents were sinful, because obviously they weren’t, but it would have been easy to let any one of those things derail the day and my whole attitude.

We face the same thing within our relationships, don’t you think? Little incidents come up that can really put a kink in our day and cause serious frustration within a relationship but we can choose to not let it affect us that way. Here is something I have learned about myself. If I am struggling with covering the sin of someone in my world I have forgotten the times that I needed my own sin covered and I can tell you that is a bad place to be. One really good way to combat bitterness and pride is to be humble and recognize my own need for mercy and grace.

Even when it’s not just some kind of comedy routine that we’re experiencing. Even when we are suffering very real wounds at the hands of someone else’s actions. We aren’t told to only cover the small incidental sins. We are admonished to continue to love one another earnestly because love does cover a multitude of sins. Ours is to keep loving each other because love has already covered sin and will continue to do so.

We can never run out of grace.

Later on I was editing some pictures I had taken of a couple of butterflies in the backyard and remembering how excited I was to have captured a butterfly in flight above a flower. As I went through the images my attention was caught by some shots that showed the wings in all of their ragged beauty. They weren’t in pristine condition but showed wear and tear, literally.

I’m not really sure what the connection is between what I had been pondering earlier and that little butterfly but somewhere I found something comforting in seeing how it had flown from flower to flower despite its jagged edges. It was not diminished by the signs of its suffering and neither are we when we choose to suffer the wound and cover the sin.

When Did We Get Here

The other day I had the most surreal experience or rather moment of realization. The stage had already been set I guess by the fact that Rob and I had recently gone away for the weekend and the kids stayed home. Alone. Without even a grandmother to oversee things. We didn’t actually do the same happy dance that we did say, when the last diaper was used or when we told everybody to go get in the van and no one needed help, but there was a quiet celebration when we got back home and everyone had survived without us for a few days. (Apparently we do need to establish some contact protocol in case we do it again though. The kids wrote up a rather hilarious desperately-seeking-parents facebook post when we didn’t communicate with them as much as they felt we needed too.)

Anyway, last week I was doing a quick mini session for a friend and Emily was sending me text of things she was designing on the computer. She is seriously considering a graphic design college path and it was fun to see her creating and working on something. When I got home Abby wanted to talk pictures with me and we went through some of her recent photographs and talked shop so to speak. She is showing a lot of interest in photography and some talent and skill. Sarah is happy and content with her life and working so hard towards her nursing degree. Sam is working hard as the church janitor and learning to be responsible for a job and tithing and other grown up stuff not centered around LEGOS or the latest episode of America’s Got Talent (although both things are still very important to him.) Claire is busy and active and into everything…playing with friends, volleyball camp, reading and puzzles, and painting sun catchers.

We’ve spent summer so far in and out of the kitchen baking and cooking and trying new things. We’re doing new things like leaving them alone and nobody is dying and they are all growing and thriving and suddenly it came to me that we are so much further down the road than I realized. So much closer to where we wanted to go when they were all tiny and we were really hoping and wondering if any of us would survive.

If you had asked us way back then where we were headed and what we wanted for our kids and our family I don’t think we could have told you. I’m not sure I can articulate even now but I know they are growing up and maturing in a way that pleases me because I think it pleases Him and it’s in part because of the hard work we put into them and all because of the work He has done and is doing in spite of us.

Not that we have arrived or anything. There is the occasional dust up over whose turn it is to clean out the litter box and there may or may not have been a smallish kerfuffle over a chair the other night. But we’re seeing landmarks that show we’ve been going in the right direction. They’re living and creating and loving and being and it’s wonderful.

As for where we’re headed? No idea. But I know it’s in front of us and we keep pressing forward trusting that He is making the path straight and leading us right where He wants us.

Hope Has Come

One would think after spending so much time thinking and talking about deep things one would have something profound and meaningful to say. But sometimes those things make us quiet and just tired after a while. So we rest from the talking and the thinking and we end up hearing.
The memorial service yesterday was as painfully beautiful as one would expect something of that sort to be. So much sorrow but at the same time so many reminders of God’s faithfulness.
Thinking about it last night I was struck that this week of Advent is hope. There is your profundity and meaning. 
Do you know why we grieve with hope? Do you know why we look at the news of plane crashes and wild fires and everything crazy going on in our world and still find hope?

Because over two thousand years ago a baby was born. A star glowed in the sky and angels sang. 

Our hope isn’t that the savior will come, we have hope because He has come.
Death isn’t the end. Sad stories will get a happy ending. Every injustice will be made right and the earth is being renewed.
Take heart, Christian. Despite how things seems, how you might be tempted to think, how you might even feel, all is well.
Hope has come.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith ~ more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire ~ may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 
~I Peter 1:3-7

Mercy Found

Death, no matter when it occurs, is a difficult thing for us. It is especially hard when the one no longer with us is young. Last week our community suffered a shocking loss that even now, almost a week later, we struggle to wrap our brains around. Sam told Sarah yesterday that he didn’t know what to do with these emotions he was feeling. When she asked him what he meant he explained that he felt loss and he never had before and he wasn’t sure what to do with it.

While it may not be the first time some of us have felt loss we are all struggling with it. The questions have flown fast and furious since the news broke last week. What happened? When did it happen? How did it happen? We want answers. We need to make sense of it and somehow if we ask the right questions and get all of the answers we can make sense out of the unthinkable, the unbelievable, the unbearable.

When I was praying for the family last week I asked God to be merciful. And as soon as the words left my mouth I stopped. In my mind being merciful meant that this father and mother would still have their son. That a boy would still have his big brother. That a girl would still have her boyfriend and people would still have their friend. It was a very harsh reminder that His ways are not our ways.

It was a stark remembrance of the sin that taints our world and the one who seeks to destroy. It was a reminder that death is always ugly and painful but is also a defeated foe. Somehow, out of this hideous sorrow God is working out His good and perfect will. On this side, for those of us left to grieve and search for understanding, we feel the heaviness of a precious life gone. But Grant David, he stands before his King, holy and without regret that his life seemingly ended too soon. He knows, in a way that we cannot yet know, that from his first breath to his last, his first step to his final one, that he did what God required of him. 

And God’s mercy? It is here, fully present, as we come together to weep with those who weep. His mercy shades our grief with the hope and truth that this separation is only temporary and that one day we will all stand before our King, knowing fully, finally,  just as we are fully known.
Later today many of us will gather for a memorial in honor of our young friend. Tears will fall and more than a little laughter will be heard as stories are told and memories are revisited. We will realize our questions don’t matter and we’ll realize the answers we have sought aren’t really the answer. Mercy will be found as we come together, one family, but truly one body, in His name sharing in a burden far too heavy for one or two or even three to hold.

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16