Saturday, June 25, 2016

Life Through a Different Lens

It would seem that many people have exchanged images from cameras for phone pics. I get it. It's convenient and easy. However, for me, I've really wanted to learn my dslr. It has been a slow process over the years as I am not at all an intuitive learner. I've resisted exchanging ease and convenience of my iPhone for control, creativity, and quality of my dslr. Some people take unbelievable images with their phones, but I've not been keen on developing another skill on another device and learning multiple new apps. Again, no intuitive learning happens here.

And yet, I do snap pictures with my phone just like anyone else. Sometimes it's to break up monotony, sometimes it's because I simply don't have my camera with me, sometimes because it's less intrusive. Ease and convenience are good, too, and it allows for the preservation of more memories. I needed to make room on my phone, so I've decided to post a few here from the last few months...

Reading with the boys on the sofa, one my favorite things in homeschooling

Books like this one is partly why I love it so much.
My children will surely remember me tearing up while reading countless stories and biographies of Christian servant-heroes through the years.

Tired boy at the end of the school year...

A stop at the strawberry stand was a good after-school pick-me-up for him and the rest of the crew.

Monday afternoons this year were spent teaching Olivia H.S. French.

Jacob's face after beating me to a game of cards

An example of the hilarious things my boys do: This was Jacob's mosquito larva farm!
He made the stand with popsicle sticks and made a 'J' at the top with hot glue. Those are live larva swimming around.

Bed-head. Everyday.

After dinner walks with my kids are always special. They have particularly enjoyed using their Starbucks gift cards from Grandma this spring. 

Always fun to play along...

More after dinner walks...

...and sunset watching.

End of season pizza dinner with the family

More walks. Kids open up and talk when walking shoulder to shoulder in the dark. 

The ocean's edge keeps coming closer to the road.
Michael likes photos, too.

Feather earrings made by Michael

Walks again. And skateboarding.
This time Jon could come.

Funny people doing funny things

When waves splash up onto the road, boys naturally get as close as possible.

Working for their father

Relaxing after a swim with lunch and a game.

Washing my kitchen window and sporting an "accidental" hair cut. He got the numbers mixed up at the barber!

Hiding the haircut with a lady's hat in the gift shop

Biking with my younger boys and hanging out at the park

Walking the harbor with the three boys

Ah, this is such a gift to me! Chronic and severe anemia is like suffocating from the inside, every organ and system being affected. Lack of oxygen makes it hard to live energetically and enthusiastically. Infusions of iron have dramatically improved my well-being, and I'm so thankful!

A happy day knowing things are on the verge of improving.
(A boring day for Jacob.)

The start of summer

Chicken wars 

Ideas for me 

Shopping with Olivia and her friends

Four days after an injury and still icing

Elevating my crunched, throbbing and swollen foot while getting ready for the day.
(The truth is, I've always done stretches or leg raises while standing at the bathroom vanity. I may not  always find the time during the day, but I can stretch while flossing and brushing my teeth, and drying my hair.)

Pretty flower from a boy

Life is sweet. If I intentionally look to find the good things, they soon become more numerous. 

Looking through the lens of thankfulness has transformed my outlook.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Mightiest Engine

There are boys in my backyard having air soft wars. Boys filled my yard and crowded my kitchen last night, too. I have but a moment here before I must leave to pickup Michael from weight conditioning camp and Olivia from a sleepover birthday party. It's summer, and we're living it up!

Me, too, despite an injured foot that is still giving me trouble since Saturday. I took my boys to an end-of-season football party, not realizing that parents were playing against the kids. I was happy to play, but I played barefoot since my sandals were not suitable. About halfway through the game, my foot was crushed under a large cleat as I ran the ball. The pain wasn't too bad... or maybe I just did a fine job at saving face. I kept playing and I've paid for it. By Monday I made an appointment for an X-ray, but cancelled and decided to RICE instead and wait it out for a while. It's healing great, but this morning it's throbbing so I'm taking the excuse to sit and blog!

I've been preparing to teach a class next month, and this morning I made a pile of resources that have impacted me in my parenting. There is a small booklet by J.C. Ryle called The Duties of Parents which I have loved, and I thought I'd write out a quote for the sake of parental encouragement this morning.

"Prayer is the mightiest engine God has placed in our hands. It is the best weapon to use in every difficulty, and the surest in every trouble. It is the key that unlocks the treasury of promises, and the hand that draws forth grace and help in time of need. It is the silver trumpet God commands us to sound in all our necessity, and it is the cry He has promised always to attend to, even as a loving mother to the voice of her child...

"Parents, it you love your children, do all that lies in your power to train them up to a habit of prayer. Show them how to begin. Tell them what to say. Encourage them to persevere. Remind them if they become careless and slack about it. Let it not be your fault, at any rate, if they never call on the name of the Lord."

Pictures from a recent trip to the desert: Windy roads that run back and forth along the mountainside are scenic and fun... until they are not and we have to stop to let stomachs settle.   :/


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Notes (Sorrow and Sweetness)

Summer comes and for a moment I think life will slow down a bit and there will be time. Quickly I see that, no, life just keeps moving by rapidly. It's not hard to see when I consider just how many summers there are left before my firstborn, then my second, then each after that, start flying off. They will fly and this is good and so these are the days to pour into relationship: to invest words of wisdom and encouragement, to build friendships, and to remain steadfast in prayer.

I wish to hold on to the moments now and make the most of the days, despite the reality of responsibility and obligation. But moments don't wait to be held on to. We can only treasure the memory of moments as they slip through our fingers like sand, and we can be thankful for the opportunity of "now."


I've not been as free to write. Sometimes I come here and write more or less unencumbered, my heart bleeding out onto the screen. Other times-- I just don't know-- life is painful, situations are messy, blood is gory and by necessity must remain private.

It has been said or implied that my life here as depicted in this blog seems unfair, and that in comparison others may be discouraged. Yes, it is true that I have some pretty significant blessings... the love of a godly husband, four beautiful children, a wonderful church with godly teaching, earthly comforts, and more. They are undeserved and I don't take them smugly. But there is always more to a story, more than what is seen and told. There is a thread in my story that has not been shared here, pain  from the past that continues to bleed in the present. Time passes and the effects lessen, only to be felt again at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. Some scabs keep peeling off and don't ever heal, it seems.

Pain. We all know it too well. And the questions throughout never seem to be answered fully. When situations don't have to be as they are, we ask why? Why do some keep choosing this way? Why, when it seems so clear, is God's Word so contorted and misrepresented and misapplied? I think I know... maybe because it becomes a "biblical" excuse for persisting in sin? And so how then should we respond to all this? How do we honor in the midst of dishonorable? How do we exhort, encourage, hold accountable, call for repentance? And how is hope and grace and forgiveness held high - like the glorious beauty that it is - and explained like the gift so close and ready to be received by those who truly desire it? How do I encourage the faint hearted, the weary, and the one who has now despaired?

How do I protect myself but keep feeling and caring and loving?

I know there is an answer to all this.
There is certainly wisdom to be gained.
There is hope.
And comfort and restoration.

Because there is God.

I believe hardship and suffering are often the very means by wish we come to the end of ourselves and our own efforts; suffering pushes us towards a waiting God.

So I pray that this will be the means of putting the beauty of God's love and redemption on display in an otherwise despairing situation.


On a different note (because life is full of different notes... it is a harmony of sorrow and sweetness), I had a fun opportunity last week with my big kids and some of their friends. We took a day trip to explore Laguna Beach, something we've been wanting to do for some time. I still have much to discover in our extended backyard (beach towns different from our own). We haven't grown complacent regarding where we live.

Jacob and Andrew were at a STEM camp last week, and a day with teens was a special treat for me...

A group picture: my one request after we parked

We had no agenda. The kids were free to explore the beach and the town however they pleased. The boys and the girls split up at first: the boys skateboarded along the boardwalk and explored the coast, and the girls perused the shops and a cool art gallery with me. Then we met up with the boys for some more down town exploration, lunch and people watching, then the beach/tide pools and cliffs. 

We bought sandwiches from Whole Foods. I had to move the car to avoid a ticket, and I snapped this picture from behind as I walked up to join them.

I have a goal. It's actually a multi-faceted goal. It is to be close to my kids, to know them well. I want them to love being with their family and I want our home to be a place of joy and nourishment (spiritual, emotional, and physical nourishment). As they grow, I want our home to be a place they want to keep returning to. Therefore, I need to be the type of mom that eagerly accepts them (unconditionally) and welcomes their friends. I need to be intentional in this, creating an atmosphere that draws them in.

These types of days with my kids and their friends are super fun for me. I am likely blessed more than they! But in it all, I am being intentional to maintain influence and relationship far into the future. I pray for the Lord's help and blessing in this....

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Ps. 37: 4

"Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
Ps. 103: 1-5