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

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 😊

What You Ought To Remember

You know what’s embarrassing? Slamming the toilet lid down in a public restroom because you forget that all toilet lids are not self closing like the ones at home.

You know what’s painful? Forgetting that you chopped jalapeños a few hours ago and rubbing your eye.

You know what is not embarrassing or painful? God’s forgiveness. The teaching of Scripture is that when we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us. Not just forgive either but to cleanse us from the dirt and mess of our sin. And if that were not enough, we are told He throws our sin away as far as the east is from the west.

You know what God doesn’t forget?

Us.

Me.

You.

He remembers our frame. He remembers that we are His people and He is our God.

He remembers His promises.

So many promises! But this morning I woke up thinking about forgiveness and Psalm 139. Such thoughts are, indeed, too wonderful.

You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it. (Verses 5 & 6)

I hope you begin your week thinking of the promises God gives to His children. And may you walk in them.

Happy Monday y’all.

Ponderings

I’ve been reading some really good thought provoking books, having some really good discussions, and Rob has been preaching a really good sermon series on our churches liturgy. All of which combine with other random thoughts in my head.

In no particular order…

A dear friend of mine is working on a talk she will give this summer at the ACCS (Association of Classical Christian Schools) conference. Her topic is titled From Wonder to Wisdom and I am utterly smitten with the concept. For as long as I can remember I have loved Proverbs 8, in particular verses 22-31 “then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man
Lady Wisdom herself wonders and delights in created world so who are we to not do the same? It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to view wisdom and wonder as two golden strands that are intertwined swirling one into the other over and over again. Much of today’s science (worldly wonder) seems to be severed from wisdom leaving it futile and surely lacking in wisdom. Thinking about this makes me wonder how it might connect to the teachings of Jesus telling us that we must come to Him as a little child? I think there might be a connection, don’t you?

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Speaking of wonder, I was walking the pups last night and sneezed. Oh my goodness, it was hilarious! They both froze for a second and then came up to me as if to make sure I was okay. They have been so fun to have around. They react adorably to singing too.
They keep a close eye on the horses behind us. Lucy is pregnant and due anytime now and we all are eagerly awaiting the arrival of her foal. I’m more than half way hoping she has it during the day and I can photograph it.
I feel like the foggy mornings make for a rather fairytale look, don’t you?

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We’ve been slowly introducing the pups into the house for short periods of time. We try to make sure the cats are tucked away but every now and then there is a stare down and as long as one of us is there to keep a hand on the dogs so they stay calm it goes okay.
Do you ever watch a cat and wish you could stretch they way they do? Or sleep? They can sleep anywhere it seems!

Other stray thoughts.

Angry people don’t always look angry.

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I want to be known as a hospitable person. Not just when feeding people, although I do delight in that. But the word hospitable means more than being generous with food. It also means “promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome; offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.” I want to be a hospitable wife and mother and friend. Meaning I want my people to find in me a welcoming place for their hopes and dreams and stories of their day. I want them to know I am delighting with them in those thoughts and dreams and stories of how their day went.

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Nothing feels as nice as freshly laundered sheets when you get into bed at night.

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Last random thought of today. The first picture in this post I took the other morning because I was up early enough to see the sun shooting through the trees in all its glory. This last image I took of the sunset the other night while at a Super Bowl party at some friend’s house.

I highly encourage you to make the time to watch the occasional sunrise and sunset. Wake up early just to see the start of a new day. Stop what you are doing just to see the end of a day. I promise it’s good for your soul.

DPP ~ Day 17

Part of the reason I enjoy the dpp so much is that I have to look around and find something to photograph that is “right there” in my space. I mean sometimes it works out that I can plan a more elaborate shot or I happen to have a session that falls during the time frame but more often than not I am needing to search out the beauty in the common everyday I live in.

It’s something I love to do…to find beauty in the ordinary. If you have read my blog for any length of time that phrase, beauty in the ordinary, is not new to you. I firmly believe there is magical amazing beauty in everything from dust dancing on a sunbeam streaming through a window to a carton of eggs on a kitchen counter. And a well developed sense of seeing beauty, in my opinion, will naturally lead to a heart that is full of thankfulness when we recognize that God is a god of beauty. Or maybe it’s a thankful heart will see the beauty of its Creator in all the simple mundane things. Truthfully it is more likely to be a combination of the two, one feeding the other over and over again until you can no longer see where one begins or how they differ.

I also love finding the light. And it seems that once again I have a bathroom that produces the most beautiful of natural light. This picture I took of Tom reminds me of some old school glamour portrait lighting. Looks pretty good on a cat, don’t you think?

I mentioned yesterday that the cats are slowly getting used to the new puppies. They are but not without some changes being made. Like moving the litter box because they refuse to pass by the dog crate to use it at night. Even though the dogs are inside with a blanket covering it and so they’re not even visible.

For the first two days Tom and Milo weren’t eating either. The puppies were in the main living space of the house hence they didn’t trust them to not be around when they wanted to eat. One thing we have learned about our cats is that they are very much social eaters and like for us to be nearby when they eat. After a little research we learned this means they feel safe and they trust us to have their back. Apparently even without the pups being present and not a clear threat that safety was feeling diminished but we have either convinced them they are safe or they just just got really hungry and decided to risk it. No matter the reason the girls are pleased to see the Bubs back at the food bowl.

Seeing the untouched bowl the first couple of days did get me to thinking of how often I have had the same reaction to a disruption in my own life. Times when I have been uncertain and afraid because of circumstances and let that fear keep me from the spiritual nourishment I needed. Instead of turning to prayer and reading more of the Word I tucked myself away paralyzed by the what ifs and unknowns.

Thankfully God hasn’t ever let me stay there too long, always letting someone or something come along to remind me that I don’t have to be afraid of what might be.

He is indeed our clear and present help in times of trouble.

Odd the lessons you can learn from a bowl of cat food.

Part Of The Process

The other day Sam and I were driving down the road and I noticed him rubbing his eyes. I asked him if he had sleep in them to which he gave me a perplexed look. I explained that we sometimes call it sleep or sleepies when there is something in your eyes. He explained to me that that sounded far too childish and we should use a more grown up phrase like gunk. He had gunk in his eyes.

My son is big on adulting these days. And honest to goodness, we had just gotten pretty comfortable having an autistic child when suddenly we were faced with having an autistic adult child. Totally different ball game.

But it does make for some interesting conversations as we try to help him navigate certain nuances of life. Like helping him understand that while yes, he is certainly legally an adult he is not the adult he will be five years from now. And that he isn’t ready for the kind of life that he will have five years from now. And it’s okay for him to not be ready now for the then that is to come. But he is supposed to be working toward that older more mature self.

Are you saying I am immature, Mom? He sounded so incredulous and offended at the thought. He, like the rest of us, has forgotten that immature does not have to be a bad thing.

This is a somewhat silly way to consider immaturity but effective I think.

IMG-0893 (1)

Grapes are not wine but we don’t get angry at the grapes for not being wine.  And if we took a bunch of grapes and tossed them into a glass and declared them wine we would recognize such foolishness for what it is. We recognize that in the process of becoming wine, grapes need to be grapes. But we don’t always see so clearly when it comes to each other.

The majority of the time the word immature is being used it is in a negative way. Usually someone is being labeled as childish and juvenile. But, we need to remember that the word also means unformed, undeveloped, at the beginning of something.

Maturity takes time…which means that immaturity is part of the process…which means that immaturity is not always a bad thing. A wise person, a mature person if you will, can see and sort the difference between the one who is immature in a silly infantile manner and the one who is just beginning to flourish and grow.

If we aren’t careful to note the difference between the two we can have unrealistic expectations for those around us. And, just like the fruit of the vine, expecting too much too soon can produce tart, somewhat bitter and less flavorful results.

For people on the autism spectrum dates can carry a lot of weight and Sam knows that at eighteen he became a legal adult. He wants independence and an adult life and it can be difficult for him to understand what he is ready and not yet ready for. A lot of the time he ends up feeling like we are still treating him as a child and boy, does that rub him the wrong way!

We are looking for ways that allow him to feel like he has more control and say in decision making. It’s hard for me to do this sometimes. Mamas all have a protective streak with our kiddos but with a child that has special needs (I typed that and I am not sure I really care for that phrase but I think that is something for me to ponder later) your protective instincts are heightened. I know Sam doesn’t fully process situations accurately sometimes and I know that he isn’t always completely understood by others. The desire to interpret and intervene can be strong and really interfere with his desire to adult. But we’re working on it. He likes going to Walmart with me but we don’t stay together. We basically part ways at the door and when I am finished I can usually find him at the Mario Cart station playing a game, sometimes alone or sometimes with another kid who has wandered up to play. We’ve done that enough times now that I feel comfortable with it.

He’s so funny. He has asked to be allowed to ride his bike to the beach, which is about 20 miles away, so that he can spend the day on the boardwalk and enjoy Bands on the Beach. We had to put the kibosh on that plan obviously but we did find a compromise. The public library is a little over two miles from our house and there are sidewalks available the whole way with a few main street crossings. We rode the route in the car, picking out landmarks and the goal is to let him ride his bike there on his own.

Working through this idea in a very concrete way with Sam has been a good reminder for me to carefully look at where people are and how they are responding and reacting to various situations in their lives. Their response might be less than mature and it may be that is appropriate for the part of the process they are in. I shouldn’t get angry with them for that.  The grape isn’t left untended on the vine to just one day magically become a glass full of wine though. It is nurtured and pruned and made ready for the process of becoming something other than it is in that moment. We are supposed to help each other in this process of growing up.

The moment is actually the same for the times when the response is immaturity in a way that is childish. The dressing of the wayward vine should be the same loving response that our heavenly Father gives us each time He gives us opportunity to grow and mature in our faith and in our walk. We are to help them move along, to grow up, and be who they ought to be in that moment.

The reminder that who we are today is who we are practicing to be for tomorrow is good one for all of us. The woman, the wife, the mother, the friend, the faithful follower of Christ that I will be a year from now or five years from now has a lot to do with who I am today. But it should not be the same. Because always who I am in this day should be striving to be more like Christ in the next.

A Few Things I Would Like To See in 2017

Every year at the beginning of that year my beloved bemoans the fact that he still doesn’t have the jet pack society was basically promised in his childhood.

Me? Not too concerned.

But you know what would be neat?

An ink pen that would let you set a radius of usage and gave off a little jolt of electricity to anyone trying to leave the usage area with your pen. Like a shock collar only made for writing instruments.

You know what else would be seriously neat? And incredibly helpful?

A peanut butter container made in a box shape so that when you get down to the very last bit of peanut butter your hand doesn’t get smeared with the creamy goodness as you try to scrape the jar clean.

Oooh, you know what else would be pretty neat?

A bumbrella. A clip of some sort that connects your umbrella to your car that allows both hands to be free as you load children or groceries into your vehicle so that your bum doesn’t get soaking wet in the process.

Hey, you know what I just thought of? Hair brushes! I have three sisters and when we were kids we were always loosing the hairbrush. So one day my poor long suffering father drilled a small hole into the end of the brush and attached a really long stretchy rubber band that he then hooked to the ceiling. Our hair brush was effectively on a leash.

My girls are constantly losing their hairbrushes. We’ve tried everything short of my Dad’s trick. But maybe if the little shock collar-esque thing worked on a pen it could work on a hair brush too, no?

The Post That I Probably Shouldn’t Write But I Am Anyway

I am in a love hate relationship with my blog right now. I love blogging and in the past it has been one of my favorite things. There were the occasional dry spells but for the most part words and thoughts flowed easily. I enjoyed having a platform to share my thoughts and opinions and pictures. And I really enjoyed the interaction either here in the blog comments or on facebook.

But lately it has been so hit and miss and part of that is just the season we’re in. You know, the election season.

My own thoughts crowd out civility in my head sometimes so I am not surprised at how full of vitriol conversations become.

Vitriol: cruel and bitter criticism

It’s not just that we are critical of one candidate or another. The criticism of both is full of ugly fear and hatred and turns easily on to anyone who disagrees.  In my world if you aren’t on the Trump bandwagon then you must not really love Jesus and unborn babies. And I am so over it. You do not get to make that judgement. Just like I don’t get to call into question your love for God if you plan to vote for Trump. Or in some cases, Hillary.

I don’t know for sure exactly what I am going to do come election day but I know what I am not going to do.

I am not going to let fear guide my actions.

I am not going to let hate for one candidate push me into the ungodly arms of the other.

I know who she is and what she stands for and what she has done.

I know the man that he really is and what he truly stands for and what he has done.

There is no lesser of two evils here. Evil is evil and most of us are just deciding which evil is easier to swallow.

They are us.

I will go into the voting booth and I am going to mark a ballot in such a way that I can stand before God and give it to Him as an offering. If I can do that by voting for one candidate or the other or neither one then that is what I will do.

And you should do the same. Your vote is your offering before God.

In the meantime I will bow my head in the face of my own sin staring at me from a national level and seek repentance. I am going to ask God to dig a little deeper and probe a little further in my mind and in my heart to root out my own hypocrisy, evil, and wicked ways.

And I am going to outright reject the bumper stick slogan I saw the other day because friends, it’s not that Jesus wins, it’s that Jesus has won.

We should live like it.

Inconvenient Love

I found some rolls of film a while back. Rolls of used film actually and it has been years since I shot film. Unfortunately, since I found them I have once again lost them. Well, all but two of them so recently I decided to take those two to the camera shop and have them processed.

Honestly, I am not sure how I ever survived as a photographer at all based on what came back. If it weren’t for the fact that I actually have pictures to prove that I could take a picture back then and that people kept letting me take their pictures I wouldn’t believe it.

One of them only had something like two images on it. Not sure what the story is and how I only used just two of the average 24 exposures and then decided to rewind it all as it were but that seems to be exactly what I did.

The other roll though? That had a few gems, dark hard to make out gems, but they were there nonetheless. It took me a few minutes to sort it out and actually figure out where and what I had been photographing.

It was from one of my very first weddings that I ever shot. It was also after I had started shooting digital but apparently I was being all that and shot some details with film too. Apparently, at some point I was satisfied with just the digital files I had shot because these were clearly I wasn’t in a hurry to share these with the world.

I got to thinking about that long ago couple and realized that they have since divorced. It was kind of sad to reconcile the young, happy and in love couple from that day with an older unhappy calling it quits couple they ended up becoming.

As I was questioning how they ended up where they did I realized something.

Loving someone, anyone, is really inconvenient.

Loving people more than we love ourselves, which is how we are called to love, is rarely easy no matter Zac Brown and his band singing otherwise. Loving that way causes problems and disruption to our lives.

Have you read I Corinthians 13 lately? Does any of that sound convenient to you?

I don’t know if it works this way for you but being patient is rarely called for during a time that is convenient for me. As a matter of fact it’s usually the exact opposite, hence the need for patience.

And it is so much easier to be kind when, well, it’s easy. But what about when he just isn’t being considerate about my needs and doesn’t really care that my morning has been less that delightful and he just wants a cup of coffee? A love that shows kindness at that moment and pours a cup of coffee and offers it with a smile is not really convenient.

How convenient is it to not be arrogant or rude when we live in a society that pays homage on a regular basis to the drop the mic kind of slap down?

I don’t know how easy it is for you not to insist on your own way but it’s not always easy for me which means that it can be real inconvenient (Surprise!) for me to not be irritable or resentful.

It’s not always easy to rejoice in right doing when it is so tempting to make ourselves feel better by rejoicing in another’s wrong doing.

It is not always convenient to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

While love should be all of those things it isn’t exactly convenient to practice and pursue that kind of love. That kind of inconvenient love requires something from us, of us. It demands our death for the sake of loving those around us.

Because it’s the kind of inconvenient love that will suffer death on a cross.

And that kind of inconvenient love changes who we are so that little bit by little bit we are able to not only recognize that love being shown to us but also allows us to love in the same way.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interest,
but also to the interest of others.
Have this mind among yourselves,
which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself,
by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:3-8