Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Review :: My Favorite 2012 Blog Posts

There is something really cool about blogging (and photographing) your life.
You READ and SEE the changes up close and personal.
It is kind of an amazing thing!

Here are some glimpses of my journey through 2012, month by month.
Feel free to browse through and find the one or ones that speak to you most.
It has been a beautiful year -- a Relentless one {more on that One Word pilgrimage coming soon},
and it is my pleasure to be able to share it with you!

Snow-Quiet Moments
"With more energy and life now, I pick up my postal delivery and flit out the door to bask in the not-quite-yet-wonderland. As magical as the morning dusk to some, this midnight hour is to me. The world is quiet. The snow falls tiny and unnoticed. There is no one around."

Who Am I To Judge?
"But where is the love? Where is the redemption in my heart? Where is the desire for restoration and reunification of the family? Where is it in me, the one who has been hand-held on a pilgrimage of grace, who was broken open to understand how he redeems my broken places, and who continues to walk a path of relentless grace and mercy?"

His Banner Over Me Is Love
"And on and on and on and on it goes. It rages and storms and beats and batters and bruises my wounded soul until I have shocked and scared her into a submission she was not meant to endure. Anxiety. That demon-monster puts its clutches into every fiber of my being, my very humanity, until the voice of the One whom I have known since I was a little girl is replaced with HIS horrid mantra."

Happiness is Overrated....or Is It?
"And so....happiness is overrated....became my motto. I figured. God never promised us that we would be happy, just that He would be with us. And He was always with me. Of that, I am sure."

Can I Truly Love?
(The internal wrestling at the beginning of our foster care journey)

To be Fearless
"Tippy-toeing on broken glass. Holding new life in my hands. Walking through the creepy forest of fairy tale lore.  Grasping. Wailing. Bleeding. From fear that holds me hostage...."

"I want to be brave. Brave enough to swim the English channel. Climb Pike's Pea.k And travel around the world on a wing and a prayer. I want to be brave. Brave enough to say I'm sorry. I forgive you.
 I love you. I need you."

Getting Stronger :: A Story of Hope
"I sat frozen by the news. After more than two years of "trying," taking various tests, and crying and praying for a breakthrough, the word that something truly biological may really be blocking us from holding our own precious babes ravages through my heart."

Where I Fly
(a favorite childhood place...written poetry style)

"The things that I am longing for, knowing that I need to be thankful for what I have but just tired of daily having to search and to look and to see His mercies and grace, when the big things that I have so desperately prayed for and waited for and yearned for, for SO long seem to always be JUST out of reach."

In the Shadows
"I have spent a few years living life amongst the shadows. At first the shadow was small, apparent, yet not overpowering, but the longer it lingered, it seemed to loom larger until another shadow appeared, making the first seem insignificant. These two shadows vyed for the light, each taking more, in a battle to win the duel. And still yet another appeared, and then another, threatening to choke every shard of light from my life."

(Where I learned that community was not as far away as I thought it was)

The Artist's Voice
"Artists SEE each other. 
 We recognize greatness. We understand the way one's heart is worn on the sleeve. We hear the unique drumbeat even when it varies from our own. And we champion the aspirations within those faces we see. At least that is how it is supposed to be."

To the Childless Mothers
(encouragement for the moms with no babies to hold...including me)

What She Did Not Know (A Letter to my Mom)
"When she said yes to ministry, to my dad, to missions, and to motherhood, she did not know the road she would travel. When she embarked on her adventure as a newlywed missionary to the island of Hispaniola, she never imagined the trials she would need to overcome. When she carried her firstborn child in her womb, accepting the mantle of motherhood at the ripe age of 22, she had no idea the heartache that awaited her, not years but months later."

The Voice in my Head
"And somehow, even when I am sitting still, my mind races at a hundred miles a minute screaming at my body and soul to be productive or to make more lists. I feign relaxation on the outside in hopes of tricking my being into believing that it is actually resting."

"I am whimsy and prose.  I wonder why people don't SEE into each other more.  
I hear animals talk.  I see fairies in my forest. 
I want babies to call my own.  I am whimsy and prose."

Coming Home
"Coming home to them is like coming back to family. But a "different" kind of family. This family does not all speak the same language, live in the same house, or even look alike. This family hails from places like Jellico, TN or Jacmel, Ayiti and more town and cities whose soil has never met my feet. This family loves me, not because we share blood or ancestry; their love comes from living this common, simple life together. It blooms from growing up together."

"I think what's funny though is how that is really the heart cry of all of us, especially us girls. 
Can I just be me? Will that be safe? 
Will you love me in spite of the prickles and spines that you see in me?"

Releasing to the Fall
"It's scary sometimes to live and love so wildly and passionately with one breath and with the next cringe and long to crouch in fear with the anticipation of the unknown future."

In the Tension of the Waiting
"Inside I feel small. Insignificant. Unimportant in the sea of artists, photographers, designers, administrators, counselors, professors, ministers, pastors, teachers, writers, mothers.... 
 Juxtaposed is the heart of a warrior princess bursting to fly. Longing to dream big, to follow rainbows to the pot-o-gold end, to dance on clouds Care-Bear-style."

I Wish It Was Different
"I wish it was different. I wish I could be the one they need me to be. I wish I was not so altered by life and circumstances and living away. I wish I knew how to bridge the ever-widening gap. I wish I felt connected to them. I wish they had let their guards down years ago to let me know them. I wish I could set it all aside and just love them like Jesus."

The Journey of Finding Courage
"I did not know two and half years ago when God was placing that little seed of possibility in my heart sitting in my home in South Africa, the full spectrum of emotions my heart would have to overcome."

31 Days of Story
I wrote for 31 days on my childhood, adolescent, and college years. I am not even sure how to pick one to highlight BUT Day 11 was my first vlog ever and a favorite story of mine to tell filled with an airport shooting and all so if you missed it the first time...THAT would be a fun one to check out!

Learning to Quiet
"So I am here. Waiting. Living. Loving. And hopefully... Quieting..."

When You Just Cannot Make Sense of It All
"Cry. Cry hard and deep and long and good. Run. Run fast and strong. Beat your chest. Raise your fist to the sky. Shout up at the heavens and scream, "Why?" Fall into a puddle. and cry some more. 
 Sit with your grie.f Your questions. Your anger. Your heartbreak. Feel them deep. Deep into your soul. In the place where deep cries out to fathomless deep."

When Tears Come
"Sometimes the ache is so big you can hardly breathe. Sometimes the sorrow feels so real you cannot separate it from your skin. Sometimes the movement in your soul violates the peace, the joy, the radiance He longs to display within all those broken pieces."

Open-Handed Love
"You see, Emily and her husband, Wayne had to wait a long time for these two gifts, so they do not take parenting lightly, and the most beautiful thing, they do not hold it selfishly. She lets them love me and have a relationship with me And not just me But others too Whom they both love JUST as freely."

When One Shines Brighter
"I think back to that moment and smile at how in a swarm of people, the ones we love shines brighter than all the rest. My theatrical mind can hear the musical score and see the lighting effects fading everything else into the background. I feel swept up in the beauty of that space and time."

Tears at Christmas and the Greatest Gift of All
"So today from a heart who knows brokenness, my heart aches ... for the mother who mourns for her child, for the soldier far from home, for the loved one dead and gone, for the relationships broken and beyond repair, for the lonely and the desperate and the forgotten, this Christmas."

Thank you so much for letting me share my ongoing story with you in this space. Your presence and comments and interactions are a constant gift to me!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

20 Questions for 2012

20 Questions for End of the Year Reflections

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

We bought a house and then I fell in love with it,  for this nomadic missionary kid that is quite a feat!

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

For the first time in three years, I actually had to think about this question because no obvious answer came to me right away. Such a beautiful miracle!  I suppose the most challenging thing has been the journey of becoming certified to be foster parents. The paperwork and inspections and interviews are the EASY part. The part that I did not expect was the emotional and mental roller coaster that I would feel preparing to step into this. I am still scared silly!!

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

I had almost 6 months of the year where I had more "good" days than "bad" days with my health. I do not talk a lot about the chronic pain issues that I have here on the blog, but they do overshadow a lot of how I live my life, unfortunately, not by choice, so the fact that this has been the "best" year health wise in 3 years is just amazing!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

1) The EXTRA 3 months that it took to close on our short sale.
2) As mentioned above, the overwhelming emotions in processing what it would mean to be foster parents, to have the first children we would be "raising" for a time not be our "own."

5. Pick three words to describe 2012.

His Relentless Pursuit 

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2012
(don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).

Healthier. Happier. More-like-yourself-again.

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2012 (again, without asking).

Chilled. Transforming. Revealing.

8. What were the best books you read this year?

Grace for the Good Girl is on my list again this year as I continued reading into 2012. I did quite a few fictional reviews this year, but my favorite of them all was Breath of Angel by Karen Henley.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

Arno, my life-long friends {college & local}, my parents, my sister,
Blogging friends who are IRL friends, Libby and all my (in) This Season ladies

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

Finding the desire and passion and drive to dream again

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I learned that I wait TOO long before I ask for help because it is so hard for me to ask so I am SLOWLY learning NOT to do this, even with those closest to me

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

The more I learn about how and who God wired me to be, the closer I feel to Him and His heart. The more I live the life HE created me for, the more I feel alive in my purpose on this earth.
That is the lesson that has come alive for me this year.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

As mentioned above, I have seen significant improvement in my chronic pain issues this year. While I am not back to my "old" self yet, I am SO VERY thankful for the healing the Lord has/continues to do in my body!

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

As I am more fully embracing who I am, I am embracing that uniqueness in others around me. The past few years, GRACE has been like an anthem to me. I feel that the Lord is constantly teaching me not only to have grace for myself and my own story but for others and their journeys too.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

The flexibility and the variety of working various types of jobs

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

Finding the balance with how to manage my time the best, especially with the health limitations

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

Probably TV/Internet

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

Taking photography classes with my sister. Connecting with ladies at (in) This Season. Taking time to write more and more strategically. Connecting with others who have like-minded hearts and passions.

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?

What I have learned the most goes along with my OneWord for 2012 :: Relentless. The Father has shown me that He is relentlessly pursuing my heart. He is relentless in seeing the dreams He has placed inside of me come true. He is relentless to heal me and to renew what the devil tried to steal. He is relentless so I do not always have to be. He IS on my behalf.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2012 for you.

Weeping may come for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tears at Christmas and the Greatest Gift of All

It's our annual-shopping-day-with-Dad-for-Mom's-present outing, and we have stopped at Panera for a quick refuel.

My still-recovering-from-a-bad-sinus-infection body slumps into the chair while my dad and sister go and get the food.

Lunch at Taylors People's Park in Waukesha Wisconsin
**photo credit

Even at two in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, the place is bustling with activity.
Two large groups of ten or more fill the restaurant with the cacophony of holiday fun and camraderie. Close behind me, accents from other lands fill my ears, with the chatter of the local twang mixed in for good measure, and I smile.

A father chases his young son out the door as mommy follows close behind.  A gray-haired lady finds a table by the fire, removes her layers, and settles in cozingly. Moments later, a man her age appears with food and drinks. They munch comfortably, reading papers and soaking in the afternoon lull.

I feel alive with the Christmas spirit around me.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of another woman. Attractive, well-groomed, tailored, also white-haired, and yet her face plummets quickly into her hands. I turn away swiftly, unwilling to intrude in her private moment, but my heart betrays me and I chance a peek again moments later as her friend arrives. Their words are muffled, but I can hear the desperation in the beautiful woman's voice.

I am saddened by her sorrow at Christmas.

A few weeks ago, I reveiwed Mandisa's new Christmas album, and this one song finds its way into my heart in this moment... Sometimes Christmas Makes Me Cry.

{Click here if you are in a reader/e-mail or cannot view video}

While I have walked through some personal losses and continue to live the life of unseen dreams making the past few Christmases...well...hard.... I have found my face full of a torrent of tears more than once, and yet somehow, some way, I have found my way ONE DAY AT A TIME...back to the heart of the Father, back to the Hope of Christmas... Jesus.

And to be REALLY is still hard.
And not without personal loss...

So today from a heart who knows brokenness, my heart aches ...
for the mother who mourns for her child,
for the soldier far from home,
for the loved one dead and gone,
for the relationships broken and beyond repair,
for the lonely and the desperate and the forgotten,
this Christmas.

For you.
For the ones you love.
For the one who lives next door to you.
For the one you pass in the grocery store.

I believe and pray that the tears of sorrow for the woes of this earthly life will be transformed by the Hope that is to come, by the Peace that passes every understanding of our human minds, by the Love that not only lights our way in this world, but shines in and through our hearts. May you know that the Father understands every tear, feels every pain, knows your every struggle because He Himself found a way to surrender His one and only Son in the form of a babe, knowing He would die a painful death because through that .... YOU would be His!

May your tears find their way back to the beauty of that Love, that precious promise, the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

5-in-1 :: Fictional Book Reviews

So I finished these books AWHILE ago, and I am embarrassed to say that it has taken me MUCH too long to review them. In the summer I did a 3-in1 fiction review, which I had planned to do again, but then I just kept reading soooooo presenting the first ever at Little Missionary Girl :: FIVE in ONE review! Hope you find one that will suit your fancy...the settings and plots are teasingly diverse.

Breath of Angel
by Karyn Henley

So when I first started reading Breath of Angel, I did not know if I was going to be able to get into it. There were so many characters and the terminology was a whole new learning curve. But after the first few chapters, I was hooked. In fact this is book one in the Angeleon Circle, and I am looking forward to reading more in the series. The story of Melaia, fallen angels, shape-shifters, immortals, and more with myths and stories becoming reality beyond what legends could ever have foreseen. In a world where good and evil, light and dark, and man and immortal flow naturally in the third dimension, Melaia's awakening will leave you breathless for more, longing to journey with her further into the realm of the beautiful unknown.

A Whisper of Peace
by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This is a story of Clay, Lizzie, and Vivian and their adventures on the Alaskan frontier. Lizzie is from the Athabascan people but estranged. Clay and Vivian from Oklahoma are siblings venturing into the wild unknown with a desire to reach the native people outside of Fort Yukon. Life and faith is hard living in the cold Alaskan wilderness. The raw guts of who we are, who Jesus us, and what that looks like in every day life are fully explored through the lives of these three people and who they impact.

A Whisper of Peace reads like a story where you anticipate much of the storyline and yet you will find yourself swept up into the heart of the characters anyway. We all learn hard lessons in our life's path and you will find many of your own struggles in the wrestling of our Alaskan friends.

House of Secrets
by Tracie Peterson

Three sisters....fifteen years of sister's desperate attempt to have the truth come to life, but what if that ruins their whole family? Written from the perspective of Bailee, the oldest sister, flashbacks, hidden memories, childhood misunderstood secrets, and adulthood issues began to surface sending her, her sisters, and their father reeling.

While this book is not personally connected to my own life experiences, I believe that the struggles represented in each character are universal. Childhood misperceptions of our parent's actions cloud all of us and when adulthood understanding awakens inside our minds, life takes on new meaning. If you have ever struggled with family issues, the author boldly delves into very real angst that makes this book the perfect way to unearth the needed truths in your own world through another's story.

Valley of Dreams
by Lauraine Snelling

Valley of Dreams is the journey of Cassie Lockwood, skilled trick rider and sharpshooter, who sets off on a journey to find the hidden valley of her father's dreams in the Black Hills of South Dakota after the Wild West Show where she has spent her entire life folds in financial ruin. Cassie and her companions travel through winter winds and snow, over mountain passes and valleys to try to capture the illusive valley where Cassie plans to live out the rest of her days.

While I enjoyed the journey, I was a little disappointed with the pace of the book. There are other character story lines that come into play and make sense near the end of the book, but are not obvious at the beginning. The story ends with a twist preparing you for the continuation in the second book of the Wild West Wind series.  I would love to read the second book but I do wish the pace had moved faster in the first book with less description of the journey along the way to the valley.

Love in Disguise
by Carol Cox

Ellie Moore, a down-on-her-luck actress, randomly lands a job with the Pinkerton Detective agency in Arizona dressed as a middle aged woman in search of the silver shipment bandits. She did not expect her first case to be so hard or her co-detective to run off and get married before the case even began. But Ellie plugged forward anyway.

Love in Disguise is Ellie's journey through romance and mystery, learning curves and unexpected humor. I really enjoyed the way her story weaves through the lives of the characters she is playing as well as the town people who fall in love with her. Because of the detective twist, the story leaves you wondering exactly what will happen next and who the true "bad guys" actually are.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Love in Disguise, Valley of Dreams, House of Secrets, and A Whisper of Peace from Bethany House Publishers and Breath of Angel from Blogging for Books :: Water Brook Multnomah as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unwrapped :: When One Shines Brighter

One hour delay.

 I indulge in a two-second inward groan before I turn to Arno and say, "I saw a food court around the corner. Want to go see if anything is open?"

We find a Dunkin Donuts still alive and kicking and order "The Ravens" donuts and smoked sausage sandwiches. Arno jokes with the twenty-year-old server and asks him what his dream is. I love watching my man in his element, how he pulls the potential out of those to whom he speaks. It is really beautiful.

We settle down in the awkward airport chairs to await the arrival of my missionary parents, enjoying our midnight feast. I love moments where we can connect one-on-one when we did not expect to, talking about random topics and making up stories about the people meandering by.

Time ticks by and my attempt-at-subdued excitement finds me up every twenty minutes to see if the flight is still on time until finally the words LANDED greet my eager eyes.

We walk over to security to stand with the throng of waiting family and friends also not-so-calmly-on-the-inside longing for a glimpse of their special someone.

Passengers trickle around the corner from the secret passageway where things like boarding and deplaning happen. I watch the expectancy on the faces around me and then the disappointment when their special someone is not in the current throng making its way down the corridor.

Until suddenly, "Beth!" a woman screams as she runs into the arms of her friend or sister, telling someone lurking close by how they have not seen each other for six months.

I smile at the sight. My heart knows that feeling.

Two girls stand with their father. One is about six and the other ten. Expectancy written all over their faces, looking like they would burst from the sheer anticipation looming at the end of the tunnel.

"ME-HA!!" they squeal with absolute delight as they run down the hallway to hug their grandmother.

A lump forms in my throat as I try to decide who is happier: the kids or the "me-ha." I remember that moment when I was a little girl. Some of my favorite memories wrapped up in airport reunions.

Finally, I see them.

MY people.
The two white-headed dreamers,
Home for Christmas,
From their ongoing forty year journey to the island of Haiti.
In that instant, theirs are the only faces that I see.
My heart is filled with joy.

I think back to that moment and smile at how in a swarm of people, the ones we love shines brighter than all the rest. My theatrical mind can hear the musical score and see the lighting effects fading everything else into the background. I feel swept up in the beauty of that space and time.

I am in awe of the awareness inside of me that God delights in me with that same focus.
That same intensity.
That same squeal of expectation.

He SEES me.

...He sees you too.

Signs. Balloons. Screams. Ecstasy.
You were born for this relationship.
To be captivated in that movie moment by the One who loves you more than life itself.

Every time we come back home to His heart.

Linking up with Tuesdays Unwrapped, Imperfect Prose, and Thought-Provoking Thursday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unwrapped :: Still Faithful

My week has been filled with snot tissues and pine needle throat and hacking up a lung coughing
A lot.
Of all of the above.

I have been inside of these four walls for days now.
Life has felt very small.
And slow.
And still.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this yuckiness, I spent an hour on the phone with my dear pal, Annie, cause after all there is only SO much quiet an extrovert can take pine-needle throat and foggy-bottom head notwithstanding.

Saying no to the things on my plate this week were not easy.
I am too hard on myself apparently.
That is what my dad always told me.
And he is right.

But I feel like I am still learning how to give myself grace.
Even when I know I probably let some people down or disappointed them or slacked on my "duties."
This years-long journey of listening to my body and not being superwoman often finds me frustrated with my own inability to cope with the changing seasons of this life.

"What do you mean I cannot say yes to everything and everyone all the time? 
Is there something TRULY wrong with that?"

I am daily letting go of perfectionism, only to...and let me be REAL honest here...turn right back around and pick it back up two seconds later. C'mon. The fact that it is two WHOLE seconds now is a miracle in itself. I used to have Olympic gold medal winner speed in grabbing that perfectionism close to my breast.

I am a work in progress.

A song and verse come to mind swiftly as I type those words...

♫ He's still working on me.
To make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week
to make the moon and the stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
He's still working on me. 

He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it...
Philippians 1:6

I have been thinking a lot about what next year holds.
The horizon looks long and wide and while that should be is exciting,
to tell you the truth,
I am terrified.

I feel underprepared and that is never happiness for a girl like me.
But this week reminded me that sometimes I have to be alone and still and quiet to remember who He is even when I am not actively seeking to know. He is faithful to show up and to change me and to complete the work He starts and to give me the tools I need when I need them.

So I am tenderly, with trembling hands, unwrapping the gift of His faithfulness in the smallness of my week.

Linking up with Tuesdays Unwrapped, Imperfect Prose, and Thought-Provoking Thursday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mandisa: It's Christmas *Christmas Angel Edition* (giveaway)

I love Christmas.
Picking out a live tree.
Pulling out the decorations from the attic.
Unwrapping ornaments that haven't been seen for twelve months.
Placing every one just so on the tree.

Finding the perfect gifts for those you love.
Wrapping them with care.
Watching the faces light up with glee.

Snowball fights.
Fireplace warmth.
Hot cocoa
And It's a Wonderful Life.

Soaking in the TRUE meaning of it all....

And so much more....but what REALLY helps me truly get "in the mood" of the Christmas season are the sounds of the holidays ... ie: Christmas songs!!

So I am so excited to tell you about this rocking album.

From the woman who brought you the soulful melodies of Stronger and the upbeat joyfulness of Good Morning comes this amazing 2012 Christmas album, It's Christmas (Christmas Angel Edition).

Mandisa knocks it out of the park....seriously!

While the album is filled with holiday favorites, like Little Drummer Boy and Feliz Navidad, done in Mandisa's own personal style, the best part of her musical styling on this holiday collection are the original songs.

From the title song, It's Christmas, that makes us reminisce and remember what Christmas is all about to Somebody's Angel which challenges us to reach out to those around us who are lost and broken to my personal favorite, Christmas Makes Me Cry, which reminds us to take time to process our own losses or  to notice the hurting of the lonely, the forgotten, or the left-behind at Christmas as well as the beautiful picture of the bittersweet symphony of how a babe came to give His life for us.

Click here if you cannot see video or are reading from e-mail or RSS feed

Wide-eyed wonder.

That is what this album provokes in your heart.
And to be honest with exceeded my expectations

So because Sparrow Records believes in this album like I do, they wanted to offer 3 of my readers a chance to win this album for your very own!

SUPER cool, right?

Just enter the Rafflecopter below.
You will get MORE entries the more actions you take, and note which ones that you can come back and do EACH day...

Don't miss out!

Merry Christmas, peeps!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Project 365 :: Day 331-343

I cannot believe that I am on the home stretch on this Project 365 journey!  Wow! 

The past two weeks have been filled with photography assignments, outdoor maintenance, Christmas tree hunting and decorating, time with a few of my favorite kiddos, and MORE!

Day 331 :: Hello, world! 

Day 332(1) :: Illuminated Beauty in Focus 

Day 332(2) :: Sunshine and Symmetry 

Day 333 :: Sunset Play 

Day 334 :: Thank you, (in)courage and Lisa Leonard Designs
for this BEAUTIFUL #incouragers gift

Day 335 :: Our new chair, now dubbed Morris' chair, for, well OBVIOUS reasons! ;-) 

Day 336 :: Raking leaves with my man

Day 337(1) :: Photo Montage with Sis
{She looks so much like my mom here!} 

Day 337(2) :: Christmas tree hunting at its best 

Day 337(3) :: On an adventure to find the PERFECT Christmas tree 

Day 338 :: An afternoon with the Gran 

Day 340 :: Watch out, Rudolph! There's a new reindeer in town! 

Day 341 :: All grown up! 

Day 342(1) :: "It's a hard life! I am just exhausted!!" 

Day 342(2) :: Mace girl, our goddaughter, LOVES her red boots!! 

Day 342(3) :: The Tabernacle Christmas production - Sci Fy stle 

Day 343(1) :: Our "mostly" finished tree

Day 343(2) :: One of my favorite in a set of ornaments gifted to me years ago --
handmade scrolls with the names of Jesus on it

I'm on a journey, chronicling my life with a picture a day for a year. I am nearing the end of my journey {just over 20 days left!} and have delighted in the consistent discovery of the world around me in my day-to-day life in a uniquely different way as well as learned more about my DSLR to better capture those precious moments. 

{Update: Currently taking the 2nd of two photography classes 
with my sister this fall/winter 2012...very exciting stuff!!}

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unwrapped :: Open-Handed Love

Most days it sounds more like the booming bass of an African drum than the steady ticking of a reliable timepiece.

Thirty-four years of tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock....resounding louder and louder as each day passes.

I have always believed that God has a plan, His own timing for our lives.
Sometimes it just seems CRAZY slow.

I try to focus on the positive, 
but it is hard when little things derail me,
Especially the knowledge that so many friends my age are attending middle school concerts or at the very least kindergarden ones.

My friend, Holley, says we are all on a one lane track, not competing against each other, measuring mile markers at the same checkpoints.

I love that.
It reminds me not to focus on that "I'm getting behind!" feeling.

Which I do.


Yet. The pounding, booming pulses in my head reminding me that I am getting older every day. That my body is not what it used to be. That my curves have not yet held life and time is slowly but surely moving to the point on the scale where the hours are not on my side anymore.

I think that is what I appreciate about my friend, Emily.

I work for her.
She is a Mary Kay director, and I assist her a couple of afternoons a week -- office work, graphic design, babysitting, car pooling, getting dinner prepped, basically whatever she needs during those hours.

Her kids have crawled their way into my heart. 

Jake Ray is 6, almost 7.

Olivia will be 3 in two weeks.

There is play and laughter.
Negotiation and discipline.
Imagination and discovery.
Games and tears.

They know me well now...enough to push the boundaries to see how far they can go...we have our "moments" together.

But they love me.
And I love them.
Very much.

You see, Emily and her husband, Wayne had to wait a long time for these two gifts, so they do not take parenting lightly, and the most beautiful thing, they do not hold it selfishly.

She lets them love me and have a relationship with me
And not just me
But others too
Whom they both love JUST as freely.

as I danced with them in front of the spotlights in the yard, making monster shadows on the house as their parents put up Christmas decorations, I felt thankful to be given this gift from two grown ups who themselves know the deep anguish in waiting in a world that is seemingly leaving you behind.

And I want to remember this open-handed holding in which they love their kids
Inviting others into the joy.

This is how I unwrap the gift of today...

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