Hello old friend…..

It’s been so long since I’ve had the time to sit and write.  Four kids in three schools this year has been crazy.

And I decided to teach a photography class.  (Let’s just make life a little more nuts!)

I am still working through the grief of mom dying 11 months ago.  We made it through Thanksgiving and now I’m staring down the barrel of Christmas.  Mark Schultz has a new song out.  ”Different Kind of Christmas”  I cry each time I hear it.  I know mom is celebrating continually with Jesus.  Christmas in Heaven?  Does it even exist?

I pray that your heart and home is filled with the joy and love of Jesus this year.

I pray that you know God loves you this Christmas.

I pray that even if there is a loved one gone, you can celebrate the life that is missing at the table this year.

I pray that the legacy you have been left is celebrated, enjoyed and lifted up!

I pray God will dry your tears, wipe your eyes and lift your head.

All these things I pray for myself……


Life with Teenagers

Our lives are getting ready to encompass three teenagers.

One 15, one 14 and one 13.

Only our baby girl is hanging out at age 10.

I’m not sure there is anyting in life that prepares you for teenagers unless it is remembering back on your own teenage years and possibly talking to your mom everyday to remind you of what that was like.

Since mom is dancing happily with Jesus now I rely on my dad, my husbands memories, friends and God.

I thought three in diapers was hard.

There are football games, and homework and a new school to get accustomed to this year.  Football practice is five days a week.  Two of my boys leave at 8am and return around 7pm.  It is like having a job and more!

IMG_0104

 

It’s a new season of our lives.  I’m proud of my kids and my two who play football starting as freshmen.  They are tough, talented and blessed.  They attend two different schools and play for two different teams.

HCS vs Westminster-12

 

It’s a crazy year.

But God always pulls through and provides for us.  Drivers.  Carpools.  Community.

How are you guys handling the new year with new grades and kiddos all over the place?


Winding up for Summer!

Life has been full of end of the year activities.

A football game that ended in a concussion for one of my boys.

A very hurt toe for baby girl.

And several weddings for me.

Today I took my camera out armed with a plastic bag over the lens just to have fun.  I left a small opening in the middle for focusing.  Here’s my setup:

 

asetup1

 

asetup2

Classy, huh?

And here are the fun photos this produced:

The top of a mushroom…

amushroomWM

Our “very fast” guinea pig’s curious nose…

anoseWM

The perch coming out of our bird feeder…

amacrobirdfeederWM

and a closeup of one of those garden balls in my neighbor’s yard…

aballWM

After a busy month is was nice to take a few minutes to play.  Speaking of which, I think I hear the pool calling!  Have a great day!


Two Weeks and Counting

Here we are in May and live has been a whirlwind the last two weeks.

Recitals, plays, talent shows, concerts, field trips……I almost feel like a homeschooler again.

One thing I wasn’t quite ready for is the emotions that surfaced when photographing this fine fellow:

joshuaWEB

Graduating from his present school and into high school is a big deal here.  His present school is preschool thru 8th grade.  So he is a senior to so many who are younger than him.  There were tears shed by other middle schoolers as the band performed for the last time Tuesday night.

Next year we enter a whole new era.

Highschool.

I’d love to say something witty here but all I’ve got is “They grow up way to fast!”

We are proud of you buddy!!!


The Last Nine Weeks

Today began the last nine weeks of school for three of my kiddos.  Having them home for Spring Break was great.  It made me miss homeschooling.  It made me love school.  I have two starting high school next year.  Someone pinch me.

High school?  And one will be driving soon….

Gulp!

Live is continuing to move at a rapid pace.  My baby girl will be in 4th grade next year.  My baby boy in 7th grade.

My photography business continues to grow.  I love it.  It’s been life changing!

Where did the little kids go?  I blinked and they were teenagers.  Men.  Muscles.  Hair.

Excuse me while I shake my head in disbelief.

I was eating with my husband the other day and almost stole a 2 year old (not really, but I did want to bring him home for a while.)

So life is changing and I feel like my blog will be too.  We will see…….

In the meantime go check out my fabulous and dearest friend Marian who just reworked her blog!  It’s amazing!  Check her out at her new home!

 

 


…the cat’s tail

I was fine today.

Until…

I read Scooper’s post – Living Free Through Our Unfixable Days

Until…

I found my mom’s obituary in a pile of photographs from NC.  Her face smiling up at me from a piece of newspaper torn from it’s page.  The ache to reach through the veil and touch her hand is all consuming in my deepest grieving.  Knowing I could touch her and see her while in the hospital brought a morbid and twisted, yet sweet sort of comfort.  Until her last breath……when I realized our bodies, no matter what we think of them, are just shells.

Shells on a beach without life inside.

Empty.  Used up.  Done.

And the concept of eternity hits home.  Our lives are just a blink.

Nothing in this world matters except the lives we touch.  The people we help.  The paths we cross.

And the pain spills from deep within me.

It’s a gut-wrenching, unfixable pain.

There is no way around it.  I have to walk smack-dab through it, trusting that on the other side is something besides a balled-up broken woman reduced to a child crying, “I want my mommy.”

The grief is more like a wail only explained and expressed in God’s written Word.

The wailing wall.

I’m there.

Hope.

It’s there too.  Somewhere.  Calling.  Waiting.  Soothing like a mother’s touch.

I ponder God’s choice to willingly give us Christ.

I wonder how Christ willingly agreed.

The pain and the ache fill every corner of my body.  It’s felt in my bones, muscles and heart.

It’s expressed in solitude when only God watches.

It can not be controlled.  It will not be brushed away.

For this path, I’ve been asked to walk it.  Knowing He only gives us what we can handle.

He must think a lot of me.

And the cry is, “God, my God…..why?  I wasn’t ready.  I needed more time.”

The flood pouring from my soul inexplicable.  All of it boiling down to TRUST:

Day 15 on Facebook:

Grief is indeed a strange animal. It’s back. It’s like my cat’s tail. Sometimes it’s calm and other times it whips violently. In these times gratefulness is something I cling to with my fingernails. My memories of mom are sweet but they have a bite at the moment. I miss her so much.

Tenderness – mom was tender. She was loving. Her touch was tender and filled with love. I’m learning that nothing can replace that touch. I am a better person because of it. I also know that I would have never been ready to lose my mom. Never.

And I have to trust Gods perfect timing and pray for the work he is doing because of her death. I trust.

So I cry out to God and He comforts and loves me.  And the sun shines in the next hour.

For He is good.


What a difference a month can make!

IMG_0649

On January 4th of 2014, just about a month ago, we celebrated as the first grandchild in the family got married.  Nana and Grandbo (above) were hamming it up for my camera as I shot candids at the rehearsal the night before.  We spent Christmas at home in Florida and then packed up to spend almost a week in Burlington, NC with my family.  My mom and sister worked tirelessly as they prepared for the wedding.

Two weeks later I got a phone call that mom was in the ER.  She was sick and her tummy hurt badly.

The next day they performed emergency surgery to see why her white blood cell count was so high.

She never woke up.

My mom passed from this world into Eternity with our Lord on January 27, 2014.

One month and I no longer have my sweet mom here to talk to, call on the way to pick up my kids, or to whine to when mommy-hood gets the best of me.

The first week was spent with my family doing all the things one does in preparation for a funeral.

The second week I flew home to Florida.

What I did not know is that I was flying home to a black hole.  One that called to me from a place I’d never been – a place of deep, bottomless grief.

Losing my mom has been the hardest thing God has asked me to walk through thus far in my life.

My reflections on her have become different in the light of God’s goodness and love.  What I once thought of as weakness is now strength.  Silently she walked out Jesus before me.  Often I did not see.  She loved without words.  She loved by serving and doing and being the best mom ever.

How did I ever miss that?

But I did.  Sometimes it was just what moms do.  Other times it was what I had gotten accustomed to and took for granted.  I never want to take kindness for granted again.

I’ve decided to chronicle parts of her life in a small celebration on Facebook.  It’s allowed me to think and write just a little at a time.  I’ve not had the brain power for a full blog post.  I still don’t.  So here is a few FB posts for those of you who haven’t read them:

Monday marks the two week mark of mom going to live with Jesus. So I thought I would try to write something great about her for the next two weeks. Please join me in praising our moms! My Mom was the kindest woman I have ever known. She always put others first.
Day 2 -Today marks two weeks since mom died. Today I remember selflessness. Mom always took the time to play board games with my kids. Whether we were at the beach or visiting Burlington you’d find her taking the time to soak up her grandchildren. Mom, thank you for loving them!
Day 3 – I’ve thought about what to write about mom a lot today. No particular word has come to mind except the overwhelming feeling of LOVE she imparted in my life.Mom loved. She loved gently, silently at times. But always with the peacefulness and quietness of Christ. She was a behind the scenes kind of worker. This is seen in her dedication to the church’s Altar Guild. She got things ready for Sunday morning, only a few knew she did it. She went to the grocery store every Friday. She cooked for our birthdays. She sent cards. She bought me a Holly Hobbie doll figurine on my adopted birthday just because I wanted one. I miss you mom. You made my life better

 

Day 4 – I have missed mom a lot today. The weather is cold and the kids are home sick and I have wanted to pick up the phone and call her because it’s snowing in Burlington. There was a word on my heart this morning, but try as I may I can’t get it to come to mind again.
So today, I choose funny. My mom had the same quirky sense of humor that my grandmother (her mom) had. I remember at the beach this year that she put on a funny hat and walked into my sister’s room acting like a rapper. OMG did she make us laugh. I have the picture on my phone and everytime mom would call that photo would pop up and I would smile just remembering how funny she was. 
It was just like her to stick out her tongue and for dad to be looking away as I tried to capture a “sweet” shot of her at my niece’s wedding. But no, out came the tongue and dad looked away. OUTTAKE!  (photo above)
I miss your laugh mom. I miss your silliness and your smile. Danielle just said “I miss Nana greeting us at the door no matter what time we got to Burlington.” Thank you again for being such a special mom, grandmother and friend. We still really miss you Nana!!!
Day 5 or my Two Weeks of remembering my mom with thankfulness in my heart. No one can say it better than Kid President today. So go ahead, take a few minutes to laugh, cry and hug your mom! Loving you today mom.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ4Rnba85o8

 

Hug your mom today.  Or call her.  Or give her a kiss.  I was blessed with two moms.  One who gave me life and another who raised me.  Now I am without both.  I know there is a party going on in heaven, but one earth, this child’s heart breaks.


“Heaviness is not of My Kingdom”

“Heaviness is not of My kingdom.”

by Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 9). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

I read these words today and thought about how much heaviness I allow in my life.  Raising children is hard, teenagers even harder, releasing them into the world, trusting in the One who has given them to you for a time.  Even harder.

Life has been on superdrive for our family lately.  Activities and holiday trips, weddings, travel – it has all added up to be busy.  Good busy but busy nonetheless.  It’s been wonderful to see family and to celebrate a wedding in our midst.  I was honored and privileged to shoot my niece’s wedding.  It was an exciting day for me, as a photographer, and for her, as a new bride.  She was beautiful.  Light-hearted, in love, and kingdom-minded.

Jesse, the pastor who married them, has known my new nephew-in-law for many years.  It was an honor to watch him tear up as they read the vows they had written to one another.  I clicked away through tears, capturing moments that will last forever!

Heaviness.

When does it enter our lives?  I believe it’s when I allow all that I’m dealing with to fall upon my shoulders and not the Lord’s.  I take up my mighty sack of stressors, problems and “big deals” and I tote them around wondering what to do about them all.  I pull one out every now and then and show it to someone.  We discuss it.  God shines.  Yes, I seek God’s wisdom in most of the issues, but do I lay them down at his feet and turn around and walk away, trusting Him to guide my mind, my path, my child?

Heaviness.

Weight.

Unhealthiness.

Depression.

Each of these words come to mind as I dwell on the word Heaviness..

“Heaviness is not of my kingdom.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  ROMANS 15:13

Somehow overflow and heaviness don’t fit together well.

I wish to choose the overflow, not the heaviness.  Will you join me?

Lightheartedness

 

 

 


Falling and Failing

Our kids…

Why is it so hard to love and let them fail?  The example God has set before us is so hard to follow.

Why do we feel the need to keep them from scraping their knees, getting hurt, or failing?  Aren’t life’s REAL consequences better teachers than any lectures from us?

And repeat a grade?  By all means, “NO”!

It is so hard when they won’t take the “wisdom” in the advice we have to offer.  It’s about the whole child, right?  Not just the grades…

I tell myself that and also wonder how to make him/her see the importance of grades in getting them closer to his goals.

What do you tell her to make her understand that who she is in Christ is more important than the cheer squad?  And why didn’t someone tell me hormones and teenagers is worse than the zombie apocalypse?

Breathe.  Just breathe.  In and out.  Light, not darkness.

Raising kids is hard,  teenagers harder.  Knowing when to let go?  The toughest thing ever.

It’s enough to make you squeeze blood from your tear ducts.  And that is the honest truth.

Breathe.

Just Breathe.


Therapy Tuesday – San Marco, Florida

Today after dropping the kids off at school I needed to find something to do with myself for an hour or so before an appointment so I grabbed my camera as we headed out the door for school thinking I would go and explore San Marco a bit.  I have shot there a few times for clients but wanted to explore a little more.

I had no idea I was walking into a rest and a peace God had waiting for me.  There was something so serene about shooting for my own pleasure.  I think as photographers we sometimes forget how important that is.  I know I do.  We strive for the perfect shot, great composition and something that will please others.  But today it was all about me.

So here’s a trip to San Marco, Florida for you non-Floridians…

I love this house.   It has quite the story behind it as told to me by a neighbor today.  But seeing how I don’t know if it’s true, nor do I know who lives there, let’s leave it at VERY IN-TER-ES-TING!!! (insert Sesame Street Vampire voice)

Here is a close up.

Hmmmmm.  The texture!  I especially love the entryway.  This is one of the few houses that has fallen into disrepair.  Good bones though.  Good bones.  And from the front stoop you have this view-

Driving a few blocks down the street brought me to this beauty- (I love shooting here).

There is a well in the middle of the park across the street from this house with the most scrumptious brick sidewalk.  I’m still trying to decide if this is one last name or an initial and a last name -

Around the well I found a lone flower with it’s face raised towards Heaven.  Me and that flower, we were on the same page today!!

I drover further down the block, turned a corner and found this beauty.  I’m definitely knocking on this door for my next photo session.  I wanted to park the car and swing for a bit, but I settled on snapping a couple of shots instead.

I love everything about this house, especially the shutters.  LOVE!!!

San Marco is a wonderful place to dream -

And in doing so I discovered another well…..

Here is that same well from across the street -

I watched squirrels play and chase one another over acorns which are still green here!  EVERYTHING is green in Florida.  Can you find the squirrel?

I stopped for a bit of history…

And I found this sweet “fortress” for sale for a cool five million boasting 12,000 sq ft and 8 full baths!

Next was this sweet one car bridge over the canal.  I could just imagine the clomping of horses hooves as I walked across it…

This was my view from the bridge and between the concrete pillars.  While down on the ground trying to remain inconspicuous I found a bit of spanish moss beginning to grow.  It’s everywhere here, especially near the water.

Oh the colors!!!

I ended up here:

Which was really the oddest little spot.  One circle around this giant acorn (ICE AGE) and three parking spaces in a semi-cul-de-sac!  Yet, it is called Celebration Park.  Not quite a park.

However, this made me giggle.  I wish I had gotten the entire shark fin on top.  It was really cute and situated right by the river.

This was the sewer cover near the “park”.  Quite historical looking I thought.

As I looked out over the water I wondered what this woman was reading and what life is like living on the river.  A client told me that manatees often migrate through here.  I want to pet a manatee.  There is a serenity about San Marco because you can see the hustle and bustle of the city that is right across the bridge yet San Marco itself is remarkably quiet and quaint.

I loved all the textures and sounds.  I watched the mailman walking door to door delivering mail like we once had when we lived in Hopkinsville, KY.  I remember how I loved hearing the slot open and the mail drop onto the hardwood floors of our house.  I stood by one of the wells as grandparents left from visiting grandkids and listened as the recycle truck drove through dumping rectangular blue bins of paper and plastic.  I saw a man sitting on a bench.  I wanted to take his photo (like HONY – Facebook:  Humans of New York:  just a side note, if you do not follow them on Facebook it’s a FB must!  I think he’s my hero.  If you find his story and how HONY began it’s a good ‘un), but I digress.  I chickened out.  Several men were fishing.  The lady walking her dog told me about the first house you saw and it’s strange criminal history that made me want to knock on the door.  Maybe I will one of these days.

I got to experience life today just a little removed from it, as if I had taken one step back.  I observed other people’s lives in a remarkable hour of worship, thankfulness and quiet.  I had no idea my soul had been so restless until I felt the Hand of God usher me into this rest today.  I shot until my battery died.  No worries about smiles or closed eyes or blinks.  Just me, God and a cool Florida morning with shorts and a sweatshirt.

I was a happy and better person after being here today.

Thanks San Marco!  I will visit you again soon!

 

 

 


image