Monday, September 30, 2013

Meatless Monday

I try things out at lunch time sometimes because my dinner crowd tends to be full of really tough critics! But this one turned out so well, I had to share.  We'll see what kind of grade it gets from my taste testers.  You never know- but I sure liked it!

*I used red quinoa for this recipe but I'm sure you could use plain- just might be a color difference.  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

life as it is

What I like about this picture- other than the hugged up kiddos in their soccer gear- is that it shows life as it really is.  My children don't smile and love all the time and neither do yours (I don't even have to guess).  I'm not calling my little toehead out or anything- all three of these little people had the same face with the same emotions over the course of yesterday morning.  In fact, we've all struggled this week because that's what we do this side of total sanctification and eternity- we struggle. 

But Love is patient and Love is kind and it does not envy and it does not boast and we are learning, learning love.  We lean into Love and we learn about what it is and what it isn't from scripture (because our culture has some really messed up ideas about that) and we press on knowing that we are dead to sin and alive to Christ. 

Nobody really wants to dwell on their mistakes or failures.  Usually, we don't post or print pictures of life as it is, but rather we want to meditate and look at life as it should be and I think that's not all bad.  It points to that place deep down where we know that we were made to live in perfect harmony and peace with each other and God.  Our hearts long for that.  But until that happens in all its fullness, we do well to get low and get real and encourage one another because we all know the struggles. 

So in the midst of your struggle, know you're not alone and know that there is hope in the One who is Love. 


 "I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bill and Jack, Jack and Bill

Did you see ESPN's documentary last night on the life and times of the Manning family?
It was great.  Between putting away laundry and putting kids to bed, we were captivated.  There is just something about a good story.

But what struck me the most was Archie Manning's relationship with his sons and how Archie reminded me so much of my father-in-law down right down to the way they speak. Of course, they are probably around the same age with roots in south Louisiana so there is that, but mostly it was the relational giftedness that struck me most.  They are men who are humble, kind, full of love for their kids- men who love their wives and who have been faithful dispensing wisdom and encouragement at just the right time.

Of course, Jack is just as successful (if not more so) as Cooper, Peyton, or Eli- a hero in overcoming adversity and working hard, loving his family, and loving God even more.

Jack and Bill are both heroes if you ask me.  

ESPN should come visit them. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a list

 1.  For this morning's photo shoot, I headed north on the old road to Gilliam, Louisiana.  We ended up in some cotton fields that were on or very near the land my great-great grandfather and/or great-great uncle lived on and farmed.  It was over-the-levee grace. All that morning light hitting the cotton and that earthy smell and even the feel of the soft to the seed cotton in my hand- it was all grace, so undeserved.

Thank you, Lord- the whole earth is full of your glory.  (Isaiah 6:3)

2.  Maybe it's because I'm still reading Charlotte's Web with the boys, but this spider web caught my eye tonight.  Isn't it amazing?  (Nice work with the spiders, God, and thank you).  It reminded me of Charlotte's explanation of her magnum opus.   In the book, Wilbur the pig is asking about her newly formed egg sac and she explains:
"It is my egg sac, my magnum opus."
"I don't know what a magnum opus is," said Wilbur.
"That's Latin," explained Charlotte, "it means 'great work'"  This egg sac is my great work- the finest thing I have ever made."

We all have a magnum opus, I do think. 

3.  To finish up my disjointed list tonight, I leave you with these sweet babies.  Aren't they the cutest? 

 On Sunday, I realized that we had spent Thursday night eating homemade pasta with six great friends, Friday night rolling around on the floor and laughing with these cuties, Saturday night playing a pick up soccer game with our dear friends the Harpers, and Sunday night with four other couples discussing how to be patient and kind with our children.

So maybe it's not such a disjointed list afterall- cotton, spiderwebs, friends- all unmerited gifts, all grace, all given by our Father who really knows how to give.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

a well deep within

It seems like I've found myself in long hospital hallways filled with florescent light a lot lately.  On Tuesday, I hovered outside the door as my nephew took his first breath and cried his sweet first cries.

The very next day, I found myself in another long florescent-lit hospital hallway, but this time it was in Texas- the rehab hospital in which my grandmother leans over her walker and works to recover from her run in with a hot towel and her subsequent stroke. 

Of course, these were two very different hospital wings with very different patient populations, but one thing was for sure-  both brand new little David and long lived 91-year-old Anita were beautiful.

My grandmother's eyes still sparkled even though they don't work well enough anymore to make out a picture of her new great-grandson.  She was poised at her group speech therapy session as she introduced me proudly and properly with her signature spunk even as she struggled for the right words. The lines on her face run deep now but reveal a woman of joy, smiling and laughing more often than not over her 90+ years. 

She faces her current struggles with hopeful expectancy even when it's hard. 

Even though she had trouble standing tall in her walker, she worked hard and persevered revealing of the character she's carried all these years.  She may have ten years of life on this side of eternity left or ten months- only the Lord knows- but she stands on this precipice with strength and dignity, unafraid.  She seemed so content with a nap and her symphony hall of a hospital room. 

And even though she doesn't carry grandchildren on her hip and make them cheese toast anymore, she still blesses them- even if it's just with a simple hand held squeeze and an encouraging word. 

Of course, the struggles we will all experience at the end of life bring as much sorrow and heartache as the beginning of life brings joy- after our visit I cried all the way to my car remembering my Memaw as a much more agile and lively gal- but even now, her beauty shines through.  It's not lost on me.  No way. 

No, beauty is much more than skin deep.  It's a well deep within that will one Day break forth as we're revealed in Christ as who we really are- who He's made us to be. 

Until then, her skin may be fragile and thin and her posture not quite straight, but I still see it.

She is stunning and I, yet again, witness His gifts in Anita Dent.

Thank you, Lord.  She has been, and continues to be, a gift to us all. 

For her grandparents with love

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Joseph David

I can only imagine how my dad must feel or would feel if he were with us.  My dad loved- adored- my little brother Jonny.  Not that he didn't love us girls- he did undoubtedly.  But Jonny and Dad, along with their JDD initials, their quick wit, and their quiet strength, shared a father-son kind of love that I won't ever know.  So today, when this well-loved son became a father and when those same initials were passed down and when we called this little baby David- David Dent- I just think that this man who mostly smiled and laughed and high-fived and did the cabbage patch dance- I think he would have wept for the joy of it all.

Along with all the joking and laughing, of course.

I wish he was here with us to see it, but assuming he can see us even if we can't see him (this is a theological fuzzy area to me), I'm quite sure he's doing back flips and giving high fives to all his buddies in heaven. 

Welcome to the world, Joseph David.  You are so well loved.  And one Day, when you meet your grandpa Dadoo, you'll know why your name was such a big deal to all of us.  He was so well loved, too.  Until then, we'll hold you close and tell you all about him.

Congrats, Jonny and Amber!  You'll be great parents no doubt.

And thank you Lord for such a good gift.  We are all so grateful for this new little life.

Witnessing his gifts today and always,

Monday, September 16, 2013

a toe headed blessing

White hair tops the little body that carries that strong heart of his-  Asher Adam, full of life, full of opinions, full of strength, and full of all manner of cuteness.  He can kick a soccer ball well unless he decides he won't.  Or "can't."  (He tests my patience so well- so very well.)  His snuggles are the best in the world, his dance moves will make you laugh out loud, and his expressions are priceless.  At three years old, we're still discovering who he is, but at this point, we're quite certain he's funny and wild-hearted and smart.  And man, does he love food.  All kinds of food. 
cumin lime chickpea salad- delicious!

At the end of most meals these days, he stands up and shows off the muscles he's apparently grown in the last 10 minutes of eating.

What a funny little dude.

You are cherished and adored, Asher Adam.  We love you, our dear little happy man. 


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Only the beginnning

The pictures just can't describe the joy of these kids- the heads thrown back in cackling laughter at the twirl of a tire swing.  The world was warm and the popsicles were cold and my friend Meg and I were in awe at the wonder of it all. 

I had read it that morning, Eugene Peterson's words:  "In the presence of the beautiful we intuitively respond in delight, wanting to be involved, getting near, entering in- tapping our feet, humming along, touching, kissing, meditating, contemplating, imitating, believing, praying.  It's the very nature of our five senses to pull us into whatever is there- scent, rhythm, texture, vision.  And it's the vocation of the artist to activate our senses so that they do just that.  Beauty in bird and flower, in rock and cloud.  Beauty in ocean and mountain, in star and sand.  Beauty in storm and meadow, in laughter and play... Instinctively.... we recognize that there's more to beauty than what we discern with our senses.  That beauty is never 'skin deep,' but always revelatory of goodness and truth.  Beauty releases light into our awareness so that we're conscious of the beauty of the Lord."

And it was true, I wanted to enter in.  I kept trying to capture the twirl of the skirt, the flight of the superman cape, the light in their laughing eyes.  But it was impossible because there was and is something beyond all of it that was so present yet so elusive at the same time.  It sounds strange to say it, but maybe it was the Holy Spirit in play- in the midst of three little people that God made enjoying all that He gave them.

It's too true- beauty is never skin deep.  That first-dimensional glimpse is only the beginning. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013


 This morning, I was yet again undone at the gift of life. 
I was at a hospital taking pictures of a brand new baby and there was one particular moment that I know will stay with me forever.  On one side of the glass was a father and his new son- his namesake in his hands.  On the other side of the glass the dad's mother was peering through, eyes all fixed on her new grandson.  

Her eyes were fixed, but so was her heart- on the Giver of all things.  She was speaking audible thanks to God and she spoke several times saying things like "What a blessing!" and "Thank you, God."  And then, through the glass, she directed her son with hand motions to lift his eyes and heart upwards in thanks as well. 
It was beautiful.

In that moment, I kind of knew that this is what I'm doing.  When I'm hired to take pictures (I still can't believe this blessing), I am less of an artist and more of a WITNESS to the gifts with which the Lord has so lavishly given.  I capture it and I edit it but mostly I WITNESS these gifts the Lord gives. 

What a blessing. 

Thank you, God. 

You are good.  All the time. 

Especially in light of all the unrest and oppression and brokenness of all the world, we remember that You are the giver of good gifts and You do not change like shifting shadows.  We fix our eyes on You and we give You thanks in all things.  It enables us to endure, persevere, and praise You through it all. 

I'm a photographing fly on the wall usually, but more than that, I'm a witness and I'm thankful for witnessing life this morning and always.

I'm a witness and I am undone.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday ordinary and tremendous

Tuesday- so very ordinary and yet quite tremendous all at the same time. 
How could it be only ordinary with all this life all around? 


"Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?"  - G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Sehnschut.  It's a German word which  apparently it doesn't translate well into English.  C.S. Lewis describes it like this: "We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it..."

This is what you'll find at Wikipedia:    
"Sehnschut (German pronunciation:[ˈzeːnzʊxt]) is a German noun translated as 'longing, 'yearning,'or 'craving",[1] or in a wider sense a type of 'intensely missing.'"

And this:

"It is sometimes felt as a longing for a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify. Furthermore there is something in the experience which suggests this far-off country is very familiar and indicative of what we might otherwise call 'home'. In this sense it is a type of nostalgia, in the original sense of that word."

I'm sure you know the feeling. 

It's Ecclesiastes 3:11:  "He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."

We all know it.  It's why kids draw stuff with crayons.  It's why we take a second look (at least) at a sunset.  It's why men sport and women shop and why 35,000 people flocked to a small town in Oklahoma this weekend to hear one of the world's best bands perform.  

It motivates us in so many ways, the sehnschut, and mostly without us even being aware of it.  

We are, all of us, beauty hunters craving glory and adventure even if we don't know the Beauty from which all things find their source.  

And even when a glimpse of beauty is discovered, captured in pixels, or experienced it still leaves us wanting because it is, after all, only a glimpse or reflection.  Unless we take that longing and transform it to worship, adoration of Beauty itself, it all falls short of ever being fulfilling.  

There was all kinds of beauty to behold this weekend.  A weekend to share with just my husband- beautiful.  A color scheme and themed lyrics all painted all over little Guthrie, OK- beautiful.  All the music- quite beautiful.

And of course, all the light everywhere- beautiful.  

The sunset and the slivered moon- beautiful.  

And all these people, all gathered, anticipating something that they collectively found beautiful- they were interesting.  Not that I'm unlike most of them.  I search, I hunt, I interact with sehnschut in ways I shouldn't.  But I am so thankful for the turn of events that set my waywardly sehnschut-ing heart straight.

The headliners- Mumford and Sons- began their set just after dark.  I was was exhausted from the heat of the day.  I don't think I had ever been so hot in my life (and that's saying something for a native Louisianian).  I was bothered by my blisters from walking miles and miles.  I felt like Zacchaeus- not to see the main event being vertically challenged as I am.

But instead of going up, like Zacchaeus, my patient and astute husband suggested that we get low.  So we did.  We went to the back of the crowd and laid down in the grass and looked up at the stars and enjoyed the music from the vantage point of smallness.  As Mumford sang about love and light and waiting, I sang to true Beauty.   Redemption.

"The life of true holiness is rooted in the soil of awed adoration.  It does not grow elsewhere."  J.I. Packer

So as we continue our beauty hunting and our gift counting, may it always lead us to delight in its Giver, its Creator, the One who loves us and speaks to us so clearly if we tune in and listen.  May we get low and give way to awed adoration of Beauty true.  Because as Jared Wilson points out, "Only the enjoyment of God himself makes Sehnsucht truly beautiful."

On the Indian Turnpike on the drive home, my friend Kathy texted me a page from her Bible. The morning's sermon had been on Ecclesiastes 3:11.  Of course...