Wednesday, August 31, 2016

full circle

At my friend Rachel's photo shoot, her sister took pics of me doing my thing and I had no idea.  Thanks Samira Sayad Photography! 

"God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.  He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'"  Job 37:5-6

"I love the freedom and grace that flood through me when I read this passage from Job.
God says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth.'  That's it.  Just do one thing... Essentially, he's saying:  just do the thing I've created you to do.  You're rain: so rain. You're snow: so snow.
I love the simplicity of that, the tremendous weight that takes off my shoulders.  God's asking me to be the thing he's created me to be.  And he's asking you to be the thing he's already created for you to be...
Think about your adolescent self, your child self, the 'you' you've always been.  God imprinted a sacred, beautiful collection of passions and capacities right onto your heart:  what do you love?  What does your passion bubble over for?
So much of adulthood is peeling off the layers of expectation and pressure, and protecting those precious things that lie beneath.  We live in a culture that shouts, that prescribes rather narrowly what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a success, what it means to live a valuable life.
But those definitions require us to live on a treadmill, both literally and figuratively, always hustling to fit in...
The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall.  The rain is only meant, created, commanded to pour down.  You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are, weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely."                                                                                              an excerpt from Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist 

Me?  I've learned that God meant, created, commanded me to do a few things and one of those things is catch some light and some moments with a camera.

I'm bummed it took me as long as it did to realize, but still, I'm grateful for the journey and the coming back around to my child self, my photo loving, camera wearing self.  Full circle.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

porch dancing, best birthdays ever, and all the miracles

This morning when Asher leaned over a plate of hot bacon, inhaled deeply and exhaled with an "ahhhh" and a smile, I thought of all the gifts.

Life is such a miracle.

steady rain outside, laughter and dancing porch-side Thursday night 

Meg's 35th birthday and it was epic with ping pong and tacos and confetti

I saw this mural and had my camera and told my friends to go do something crazy awkward.  Keep in mind, my friend does not drink and has all her senses about her- she just doesn't give a what and I LOVE IT! 

Not pictured: so many more things.  The early morning run with NTG, the take out with Kathy (in her new home in Shreveport!!!), a gaggle of kids jumping on the trampoline in the backyard, all the earth and dirt all over me from planting stuff, the spinachy veggie tacos, Zeke's golf date with his grandfather, Anna Grace's great dog rescuing adventure and her constant singing, the strawberry pie... all the things.  All the gifts.

Grateful.  A little tired maybe, but grateful.

"Turn to the window and wait for the sun to rise, to keep always rising.  Never stop being surprised that it does, never get over the miracle that you get to see it."  A Voskamp

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

a speed bump for the journey

I haven't quite finished Shauna Niequist's book Present Over Perfect yet, but I sure can recommend it. And it's not even that I totally relate to Shauna's journey, her being a very driven extrovert who has to pry her fingers off of perfect.  That's not me.  I love being alone and I love silence and I tell people all the time I don't do perfect and don't they know it.  That's not to say I've arrived, of course.  My journey is riddled with its own landmines.  I should probably be reading books entitled, What If You Tried To Do Your Best More Often? or Call That Person Back: Human Interactions Won't Kill You or Diligence is a Virtue. Even so, I can definitely relate to the themes of this new book- valuing deep and true connection over superficial charm, vulnerability, slowing down, giving up on things that don't matter, and pushing back on the culture that has us going, going, going all the live long day and tuning into the Spirit.  "Hustle is the opposite of heart," says Shauna, and I do agree indeed.  It's a good book, a long exhale in a world full of huffing and puffing or a speed bump for life when you're going 90 to nothing.  Go get you a copy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

sorrow-and-grace kind of rain

baby Amelia at her grandfather's memorial service
 It was only a bit overcast at the graveside service that morning, but it started raining again the afternoon of the funeral.  I keep marveling about how strange the rains are- coming right on cue to the sorrow I see and feel.  Of course, it's not all sorrow- it may be a sorrow-and-grace kind of rain.  As soon as the preacher started reading the passage, I was sure of it again - that great cloud of witnesses are alive and well, ready to celebrate with us as we pass to eternity.   I had stared again at my father's headstone as the flag over my uncle's casket was lifted and folded and how could I not think of my dad and my uncle and my grandmother and my grandfather and even my little baby all gathering and witnessing and celebrating?

It wasn't as hot as it could have been for East Texas in August, either.  I can't understand how hot my brother must have been in his dress coat and tie, but even as he blasted the a/c when we got in the car, I marveled at the temp.  Seventy nine degrees is unheard of for this time of year even if it is a little steamy.  It was a break.  Just like the songs that kept popping up before during and after this season of all this tragedy.  Or the way my uncle kept putting his arm around me like a daddy.  Or the friend who did my laundry while I was away.  Or the beautiful dreams I dreamt on Friday night.

Hopefully this funeral season is over for a while.  The sun is out today- finally- and maybe my spirits will lift. I think about my cousin's baby Amelia- a new life, bright eyed and beautiful.  And my kids, so full of energy and hilarity.  I heard this song, "Another Story" by The Head and The Heart on a run the other day:

"I'll tell you one thing
We ain't gonna change much
The sun still rises
Even with the pain

I'll tell you one thing
We ain't gonna change love
The sun still rises
Even through the rain."

So does the sun rise.

And we go on as best we can, grieving but with great hope.

ah, my sweet brother

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

back at it again with the white shirts!

Zeke wants to be an engineer, Anna Grace an actress, and Asher a worship leader. 
 Who was it that said we don't get to keep these moments, we only get to witness them?  It's true.  Here I am, watching these kids grow up and the moments fly by.  Our girl is off to middle school.  Middle school!  My head spins and eyes leak tears of joy and grief of these moments not kept but treasured all the same.

Here's to a great year, friends!

Friday, August 12, 2016

many waters

I usually reserve my last morning at the beach for a sunrise walk so that I can play with all the light drama of twilight and dawn.  But this vacation was bookended by storms and so I was confined to my balcony that last morning.  It was a red flag day and the beach was dark and empty except for one silhouette of a person I could just barely make out.  He was running and then the rain came down even harder and so he ran to the little water sport station and waited.  The whole big ocean was before me, infinite horizon and a storm, but all I could do was watch this little person waiting, sheltering.  I hoped he would be okay.  After a while, the rain let up and he ran on but I knew that it was another wait-out-the-storm message in a bottle that God kept sending my way.  There was a storm on the front end of this trip and there were rains on the way back but this vacation was a little bit of shelter, a prone positioned, catch your breath kind of wait.

so thankful for all of my people

"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it."  Song of Solomon 8:7

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

us broken and partial prisms

free and inverted lens photo, my first try at such things

"To hear colors and to see sounds is an experience not vouchsafed to most of us.  Yet we all do something of the same kind that is quite as remarkable, we ascribe colors to ethical qualities.  Universally do men call goodness white and wickedness black.  Angels and devils, wherever they appear upon the surface of the earth, are clothed in these colors with an appropriateness that seems to be instinctive and inevitable.  White may be the color of mourning as it is in China.  Black may be the garb of respectibility as it often is with us.  These are matters of custom.  But when it comes to ethics all men see alike and never confuse black and white.  To turn from the power of Satan unto God is to turn from darkness unto light.  

Wherefore this certainty about what no man can prove?  Who has seen goodness that he can tell us whether it be black or white?  If we are endowed with an ethical sense, which some dispute, the eyeball is at any rate not the organ of it.  What reason is there for ascribing whiteness to goodness?  None whatever.  But when we reverse the question, and ask is there any reason for ascribing goodness to whiteness, we see at once there is.  

For black is the most selfish of colors and white the most unselfish.  They correspond then exactly with our conceptions of vice and virtue and the association of ideas is inevitable, since our highest ideal of goodness is perfect unselfishness, absolute altruism.  'Freely ye have received, freely give' is the injunction of the Master... All the light rays [white] receives, whatever their kind, whatever their source, these it returns in full measure, undiminished, unimpaired, equally, and in all directions.  But the black object does just the opposite.  What comes to it, it keeps.  Blue rays, red rays, or any rays in between, all the colors of the rainbow, all that give beauty to the world, when they come to a black surface are absorbed and seen no more.  Never again will they flash about to gladden the sight and enlighten the mind.  Their doom is forever sealed.... It is the Spirit That Denies.  It is that which retains, destroys, annihilates...
'How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a naughty world,' mused sentimental Portia... A trite thought, because a true one, that virtue is always to be distinguished by its activity in radiation, by the brightness and penetration of its beams, by its effects upon its environment... A bad deed cannot radiate.  At most it is a stain, a blot which only becomes visible by contrast... Its influence is local, for the reason that it is essentially ungenerous...
There is, strictly speaking, neither black nor white in this world of ours.  There are merely things darker and lighter and variously colored.  We all specialize in the virtues, devoting our attention to such as suit our purposes.  Some of us favor the lower end of the moral spectrum and display the red badge of courage.  Others cultivate the more delicate vibrations of the blue end, purity, constancy, and truth.  Most of us are prismatic and changeable, flashing forth sometimes one color and sometimes another; perhaps in the course of a lifetime displaying them all, but never all at once and equally in all directions.  For the best of us reflect brokenly and partially what comes to us from the source of all goodness, the Sun of Righteousness."

Edwin E Slosson, from his book Sermons of a Chemist, copyright 1925

I had a stack of books to read at the beach but on the way out the door I grabbed a book in which my great grandfather had written his name in 1927.  I thought it may not translate well to 2016, but I can't put it down.  Fascinating.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

storms and shelter

                 from today's funeral 

We were having the last gathering of a 7 week study at my house on Tuesday when one of our girls got some crazy bad life changing kind of news.  We gathered around her, held her, kept her kids, made each other tea and cried.  As I was trying to go to sleep that night I just kept thinking about Isaiah 9:2- the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.  I saw light that night in the faces of my sisters in Christ who were gathered to share.  Weathering storms, sharing, and loving one another well is light.  And it's there- even in the dark.  

"When someone we love suffers, we suffer with that person, and we would not have it otherwise, because the suffering and the love are one, just as it is with God's love for us."  F. Buechner