Monday, October 27, 2008

living in community.

Over the weekend I had coffee with a friend from church. She shared with me how she's become involved with the neighbors around her. She takes kids to church. She allows kids to come in and visit and share their life stories. She referees and calls to accountability in the absence of parents. She thinks about how she can be a blessing in times of need.

She's not perfect. This stuff requires time, and often inconvenience. It doesn't sound fun to me, frankly. And yet as I listened to her share of both the joys and the frustrations, I found myself moved to ask Papa what more He wants of me.

Concurrently, my own children have been spending more and more time outdoors in pick-up baseball games, riding bikes and rip-sticks, and other activities with the neighbor kids. It's a stretch for me... I wish the kids would stop ringing the doorbell when baby's napping. I wish they'd all stop opening our door and "wasting electricity" when the air conditioner is running. Ever-aware of "what the neighbors think," I hope my own will make "right choices" (like not letting that baseball end up in the neighbor's car, for instance). I hope they will be salt and light for the kids who don't know Jesus, and not take on "ungodly behaviors." In short, I want to make sure that my kids are godly, and "safe." Interestingly, at the same time, God reminds me that my idea and His of safe are not necessarily the same.
Another wise friend is the mom of 7, adult down to preschool ages. She has mostly children who are a testimony to God's light lived out in a life. A couple don't "look" like church-goers by the standards of many. She has a prodigal - and she shared with me how she's gone to the throne on her knees again and again for him - and always comes back realizing anew that no amount of good parenting, rule-setting, or "protecting" could've made him walk the straight path. He's God's child, and he alone can wrestle with his True Father.
Back to me and my own neighborhood. I hear you, Papa! Stop trying to "protect" and "direct" every tiny thing, and get my buns out into the yard, the driveway, the street! Build relationships alongside my children and be salt and light WITH them! Of course they will get dirty. Of course they will make wrong choices, and we will discipline and guide and walk alongside.

As He so often does, Papa chose to teach me more about His love for my children through an odd situation this morning. We were lying on the grass reading history when a man drove slowly by with a camera aimed in our direction. "Mommy, why's that man taking pictures of us?" Brian asked. That's all it took for me to be up and watching for this man, who drove by a second time. Immediately two of my neighbors, who happened to be out, headed around the circle to observe. They waited for over ten minutes for the man to come around and be questioned - as it turns out, he was taking pictures of real-estate for sale. Nonetheless, I was blown away by the protective nature of two "unbelieving" angels who would not allow our children to be in any kind of danger.

Holding them with open hands doesn't necessarily mean they will be unprotected, or that protection can't come from other sources. It doesn't mean that we stop parenting as He has called, but that we do it with a keen awareness of His sovereign nature.

God may choose to allow harm to come to my children, for the best interest of their souls. He may choose to call them to persecution for His glory. He may choose to allow my "community" outside the body of Christ to keep them out of harm's way. He may watch silently while they run from Him (to my, I am sure, embarassment) until they choose to open their ears to His call. Ultimately, He's their Papa, and I am but a rusty tool He has chosen to use to help to craft them into His image.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

twin portraits.

today my anna and i got the privelege of photographing the beautiful peyton and avery. look how amazing they and their sweet momma look! for more of their session, go here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

He's making sure i get it.

for the last couple of weeks i have been dying to make a collage out of the vineyard photos i got up in canada with the whole concept of "abiding in the vine." Papa has been niggling at me about my stuggles to be gentle, kind, and patient at home. i can so identify with paul who hated that he struggled with the same "thorn in the flesh" over and over. (whether it was a sin or a physical deformity, it plagued him. i feel this same frustration, and again i have felt the gentle call, "come abide with Me." this is so how He seems to work with us - when He's telling my heart something, it comes at me from repeated sources. well, don't you know we get to church Sunday and the scheduled sermon passage (not randomly chosen -as if there is such a thing with Him- our pastor is teaching exegetically through John) is "abiding in the vine." the whole sermon is about walking in the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit!! i love my gentle, persistent "Hound of Heaven" God!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

more on our early Christmas.

i mentioned earlier that we received this special early Christmas present as part of my joining the TOS Crew to review products for homeschoolers. yesterday we opened it up and i let the kids have at it. i had to giggle when i read another mom's plans to pack it away until Christmas after they'd checked it out - i had the same thought! we won't be doing that after i've seen how much they love it. anna and ethan love to play pretend, anyway - but it's been fun to see how oldest and littlest have joined in, too. the figures are flexible and easy to handle and they're using the figures to "teach" Blue the Story.
these figures are a light-hearted, somewhat comic crew that will be lots of fun for imaginative re-telling of the most significant birth-day in history.
one thing i really like: the set came with a "spiritual stepping stones" insert that addresses developmental stages with ideas for concepts your little ones may be ready to understand.
one pet peeve: i don't get why nativity sets (which i collect anyway if i love them) don't ever come historically accurate. angels aren't pretty blond-haired-blue-eyed girls in dresses. the people in the true story were middle-eastern, not european in descent. i'm always waiting for a more accurate creation to be marketed... but then again, i can choose to look at it as "drama." there, that's better. in the mean-time, i'll content myself with baby Jesus, whom anna pointed out, does look remarkably older than an infant. we'll keep the wisemen close to him when we set up this collection - instead of across "the kingdom" as we usually do. (smiles and giggles.)
if you're interested in this set, it can be found, along with lots of other goodies, here!!


what an honor - a blogger-sister read my post about my precious grandfather and asked if she could post it to "Mentoring Moments" - it's a neat blog and worth a few minutes for some encouraging words from others in the trenches. Thank you, Molly! it's awesome how God speaks to us so clearly sometimes... she'd just been brainstorming about having guest bloggers when she read the post - and it just "happened" to fit into this month's theme. i pray even now for the hearts it is meant to speak to. hugs -

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


it's Autumn! this makes me so happy. it's even felt a bit like autumn lately. (a true gift for us floridians.) if you can't tell by looking at anything in my near vicinity, i am obsessed with anything autumn. it's in my coloring - i think God expected me to love it. i wanted to name my daughter autumn (i still hold that against my husband - although my princess is definitely meant to be anna.) this week we've made pumpkin biscuits, roasted squash, autumn soups, and this dish of morning happiness.
oatmeal with chopped walnuts, peaches, and (i swear it was the kids' idea) fresh grated nutmeg - dosed with maple syrup and half-and-half. now this is autumn in a breakfast bowl. now i'm off to roast that cinderella pumpkin.

and by the way - GO MAKE THIS. cut a butternut squash in half the long way. scoop out the seeds and pulp - discard. drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes - give or take. (it should be golden brown and soft!!) grab a few spoons and share - but you won't want to.

Free and ADORABLE blog "dress-ups!"

you've gotta go see this site - this stuff is adorable! this super-creative woman also designs custom work. she's having a "launch party" next week and giving away tons of free blog layouts and other "techno" goodies that are beyond me. go check it out!
Leelou Blogs
Leelou Blogs

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Christmas is here early...

Well, it oughta be, since they start hanging bats and pumpkins in the department stores, like, in August!
Actually, in our house, this last week has felt a bit like Christmas, and I'm just now beginning to "unwrap" all the gifts... so I will be sharing with you as I do.
You may remember I wrote a while back about joining the TOS Crew, a group of homeschoolers writing reviews for selected homeschool products as part of an initiative from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It started with my first issue of the digital version of the magazine, which I really enjoyed. Speaking of which, hop on over and check out their Fall special...

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Fall Special:

You can get two years of the magazine, 6 fabulous physical
gifts (no downloads!) worth over $120, plus the current issue of The
Old Schoolhouse Magazine that is full of ideas for the new school
year, so you start receiving your magazine in a flash!

It really is one of their best deals ever and you don't want to miss
out. In fact, they've got a really cute Homeschooling with Heart tote
bag (valued at $13.95) for the first 1000 to subscribe. About half of
them are gone, but you should still be able to get one if you hurry!
(They will remove the info from the subscription page when the bags
are all gone.) The total value is over $212, but you receive it all
for only $39 - 50% off of cover price! Plus subscribers get their
online monthly Teacher's Toolbox which focuses on a different topic
each month, giving you words of encouragement, hands-on teaching
ideas, book recommendations, field trip ideas, and a bonus download

For those of you who've been on the homeschool journey for a while, this magazine will be a familiar name. If it isn't, it's chock-full of resources, encouraging tips, and articles from parents like us "in the trenches." And being that they've spoiled us reviewers, I received the cute little tote bag this week. It was great fun to pull it out and use it as one of our "green" bags at the grocery this week! They're known for their awesome giveaways with subscriptions, so if you are looking for some refreshment, head over HERE and grab this up.

I wasn't kidding, either, when I said Christmas has arrived. I was so excited to recieve a FEDEX package this week containing a brand new kid-friendly Nativity Set to review! I LOVE Nativity sets - I bought myself the Little People one a few years ago (and my husband makes me share with the kids - imagine the nerve!!). I especially love ones the kids can handle - they really enjoy setting them up and re-enacting the story time and again. Look for my review later this week on this cool early "present!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008


on wednesday morning of our trip, at one am, i believe my grandpa w. went home to be with Jesus. i can't know his heart, but i can Hope, because i know Hope himself. i couldn't write or even really process the passing until now, because i wanted to tell my children in person.
in memory of him, i wrote a few words that can be shared at the memorial i cannot attend.
I teased Grandpa that he was a skinny, ornery man. Even as wiry as he was, he could squeeze the life out of you if he wanted. He could fix anything and never minded if he got a cut or two along the way… I can remember him working on some project in the garage with a purple thumb from a stray hammer blow – and that didn’t slow him down.

I lived with him and Grandma for a time, and for a while I had an early-morning paper route. Each morning in winter, he’d get up while it was still dark, and make me a hot breakfast for when I came home… bacon, eggs, tomato, cream of wheat… and on really cold mornings he jumped in the car and “drove” the route with me… hopping out every few houses to throw a paper himself. One morning I looked up to see the car heading into the edge of a yard, and Grandpa chasing it… in his tiredness, he’d forgotten to throw the car into park!

Grandpa taught me how to make my favorite toast topping to this day – the perfect mixture of peanut butter and honey, which you have to spread onto each individual bite to get the best taste!

I loved standing at the kitchen window with him and eating a tomato he’d grown, right off the vine. I used to say, “You can taste the sun and dirt.”

I loved seeing Grandpa dressed in his Sunday suit to usher at church, and although he would let us hear the car horn when Grandma and I took too long, I have seen him teary-eyed at a particularly moving church service.

He’s the one who taught me that “on time” is 10 minutes early. He did NOT want to be late to a church service, but he was more than willing to sit on a mall bench for HOURS while Grandma shopped till she dropped with whomever would join her (and Grandma can out-shop anyone I know). We’d come back to find him chatting away with whatever new friend he’d made in his free time.

Grandpa always made me feel like he had “a soft spot” for me – Grandma told him he did – and I soaked it up. But all the same, he wouldn’t hesitate to “let me have it” if I was a disrespectful teenager. I suspect he made lots of people feel he had a “soft spot” for them… even the staff at the dialysis center smiled when the saw “Tom Williams” coming.

He never met a stranger. On one visit to Florida he played in a golf tournament ministry fundraiser my husband organized. Because we were working the event, Brian assigned grandpa to a foursome with men he didn’t know; I think those men had the most fun of anyone who played that day.

At my wedding, it was an honor to have Grandpa lay hands on us, and join with the men in our family to pray a blessing over our marriage.

More recently, my memories of Grandpa come from visits he and Grandma were able to make to our home in Florida. As someone who loves to cook, I especially loved that when he came to visit, he acted like my cooking was something worth eating; it felt good to see him go back for seconds. Even after he was sick, he made it a point to eat two helpings of dinner.
I am especially thankful that my children got the chance to know Grandpa. Although he loved each of them (and they, him, as well!), Ethan (“that ornery one,” he called him,) was his favorite… he would snuggle up to Grandpa every chance he got.
One of my most recent memories is of a morning during their visit when we were doing a homeschool assignment around the dining room table with Grandma and Grandpa there. As I had prayed might happen, Grandpa launched into a series of stories about Model “T” cars and the first man on the moon – from his own life’s memories. What better lessons could great-grandchildren have than real-life history from someone who’d lived it?

These are just memories I have of time with Grandpa. The neatest thing for me is knowing that there are countless other people who have glowing stories of ways he encouraged them, made them laugh, made them feel important, or was just a sweet “ornery, skinny man” they were privileged to know. You will be missed, Grandpa. We love you.

i shared memories of funny, and poignant, and sweet times i had with him. i wrote nice things that can be read aloud and make people feel good to have known him. they are all true things, and i believe it is important for people to have these things to hold on to. but they aren't all my heart longs to say.

there are some who sarcastically accuse "mombloggers" of writing all rosy-cheeked portraits of "the perfect life." for me, i blog partly as a way to help myself hold on to what is real, worth remembering... i blog as i think my Papa wants me to see the life He gives. well, for a moment, no one can accuse me of being rosy-cheeked, or rosy-shaded, as i write how i really feel.

i am not just sad to see my grandpa go. i am sad for the moments lost while he was here, in the shadowlands. i am sad for sin-nature, or brokenness, or immaturity, or dysfunction... call it what you will... that prevents the sweetness of true relationship. i am sad for lack of courage of conviction to stand up for what is right. i am sad for leniency, and over-strictness... for "easy grace" and bad theology that makes us think God is desirous to bargain with us, or willing to forsake us, or needs our "being good" to be God. i am sad that even in the midst of the loss of another's life, selfishness prevails and it becomes all about "me..." for many of the "me's" involved.

i am sad for my inability to be Grace, and my own personal relationship-loss, and "the sins of the fathers," and our broken view of who Papa really is.

it is bittersweet - this week of Dancing with my Papa, and renewing romance with my mate, and falling in love again with my Love and the earth and my maker - and in the midst of it being reminded that this is, after all, only the Shadowlands. earthly love is but a broken mirror, whose shattered shards reflect True Love only dimly.

i will miss my grandpa. but i will miss more dearly what was not, because we are not yet all we were Created to be.

Friday, October 10, 2008

thursday in canada-land

fun day!!! this morning we went on the maid of the mist. it was awe-inspiring to feel just the spray at the base of these awesome falls. i just kept saying, "can you imagine, God's just showing off a LITTLE. imagine the real thing when we get home-land!!!

next we headed up the gorgeous niagara parkway into niagara-on-the-lake... an amazing little area along lake ontario filled with autumn-tinted-trees, scenic overlooks, bed-and-breakfasts, and some awesome vineyards!

brian says, "this reminds me of that song, "dancing with my Father God in fields of grapes..."
the landscaping around these boutiques and bistros is truly unbelievable.

our cheeseplate for dinner...
the little pastry shop where we got our apple dumpling and maple tart for dessert. the perfect "end" to our day before retiring to our room for fireworks over the falls.

the falls.

in front of the upper rapids on Three Sisters Island (in New York)
he is NOT on the paved area. shhhh.
the view of our hotel looking across the Canadian falls from Three Sisters Island - this is looking over the rapids and the falls "drop off" under that mist between the camera and the hotel. crossing the border. where are those canadian mounties??
the view from our hotel window. just past the jacuzzi tub. it's not heart-shaped (thank-you-Lord). are you jealous?? you can practically feel the ground vibrate when you're closer.
i had such an awareness of God's sense of whimsy tonight as we stood right on top of this unbelievably beautiful, and powerful, and impractical piece of artistry. take a look. HE IS.

playing together.

i married the funniest, coolest, sweetest guy. sometimes it's easy to forget that in the mundane "have to's" of a busy life. he's a techie by trade, but at heart, he's the classic melancholy... artistic, a bit moody, and very precise. the perfect counter for my fiery, outgoing, quick-to-change red-headedness. isn't God the most intersting matchmaker?

it's the coolest gift to have the chance to just "play" together. i'd been praying that i would be able to just enjoy the time together without feeling pressure to "make up" for lost hours. Papa God is so good - because that's just what we did today. my awesome man even took up the camera and shot some great stuff - and i was able to teach HIM some technical things! thanks for the giggles, babe.

little (& bigger) sacketts, mommy and daddy sure miss you... and we're having fun being together, too! it's an awesome gift God gives us in a husband or wife... we pray that for you someday. and we pray our time away will help us be even more fun at home with you guys!

Niagara, here we come, baby!

okay - set one of our trip. HEAVEN today, i tell you. i got hours and HOURS alone today as my stud attended the final part of his conference. i headed to downtown buffalo to a really cool area called the elmwood district off the buffalo state u north campus. i walked and walked and shot photo after photo... i've been dying to spend some time shooting MANUAL and i am super proud of myself for staying in that mode all day!!! i am begining to think i can love the technical end of photography almost as much as the creative end! i sipped coffee and read... browsed boutiques and bookstores.

i miss you, little sacketts, but man, is mommy in her glory! hope you like the photos!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

we love you!!!

happy late birthday to my Daddy - i am taking you on a DATE when you guys get here. (my turn!) and happy FIRST BIRTHDAY to my little Blue. mommy loves you!
here we are in our hotel room - we love you guys - have fun with nana and papa while we have our romantic getaway!

Monday, October 6, 2008

faithful assistant.

lately brian's been my assistant on shoots - he's awesome for getting babies (and even moms and dads!) to giggle. today since it was a "girly" shoot, anna went along - she was AWESOME lugging chairs and bags and other goodies... do you SEE those biceps? thank you, sister!

senior portrait

our sweet friend marissa went out to shoot her senior portraits with me today. isn't she the cutest thing ever? see more of her shoot here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

fun with beanies...

we got down some of our fall clothes from the attic last week, and these were a big hit. in honor of our friend Sombrero, the kids suggested starting our own blog, "Beanie." not feelin' too motivated, but we'll see! anyway, my cuties...