Tuesday, December 22, 2009

where we've been...

i've been a very delinquent blogger.  it's been crazy around here.  a few weeks ago marked my husband's last day at his job.  which was one day after he found out it was going to be his last day.  not a surprise to our papa, but it definitely rearranged our plans... for home, for family, for Christmas, and for our business.  our long, long term dream was to take the photography business i started full-time, and it became our very short-term goal.  there will probably be some part-time stuff for my hubby, and he's been doing homeschool, and housework, and all kinds of other formerly-primarily-mommy-jobs.  i'm learning what it's like to carry the pressure of intense business stress (we didn't take off in December as we'd planned!) and still be nice to your family.  it's been a great exercise in communication and in empathy with each other's  daily lives!  God isn't surprised, though, and he's been gracious to continue to affirm what we're doing.  it's been super-fun to spend more time shooting together and to have my man amaze me with his commitment to learning and growing and partnering together in this venture.  i've been a slacker at writing, though, here and over at mentoring moments... it's kind of been survival-mode.  here's praying that we'll soon get much better at balancing all the aspects of this season of family life, and business, and ministry.  and to that end, i just have to share a photo of my awesomely attractive husband doing what we now do together!

Monday, November 2, 2009


when they were little we didn't trick-or-treat.  we put them to bed early so they didn't have to see the gory teens and made little slips of poems with the gospel message and handed them out with (really good) candy.  it was easier to avoid the world's interpretations of the holiday, and still feel like we were hospitable.  as they got a bit older we enjoyed the little harvest festival thrown for the community by our local church.

then we moved to our current neighborhood and one halloween we went to a church-sponsored event and came home and discovered our whole neighborhood had been at our door and welcoming us to theirs and we were gone.  that night i went to bed with a sick feeling in my gut that we had missed the biggest opportunity to build relationship in our community and we haven't missed a year since.

now we throw a party.  this year we even dressed up (don't ask!).  we giggled with the retired snowbird neighbors who are sure to come back to their winter home in time to participate, who flew an 8-foot bat down the drive on a pulley system, and of whom the wife dressed as a gypsy with her cauldron of goodies.  we enjoyed every minute with our good friends and their kids, moms and dads taking turns looping the blocks.  we shared haystacks and driveway-crockpots of chili and bacon-wrapped pineapple and goat cheese and who-knows-what-else.  and oh-my-gracious, will we have some serious sweets to take to church to share with all those  less fortunate.

each has to follow his own conviction, and we are glad, for now at least, that we can enjoy this crazy and fantastical opportunity to be silly with our kids and our friends, and to build relationship in the community in which we live.

party on...  (angela)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

nitty gritty.

time to get down and dirty.  talk trash with you, so to speak.  get gut-level honest about life and how it really is (sometimes.) 

my goal in blogging is to write life the way Papa wants me to see it.  to glimpse my day-to-days through His lens and in so doing, prayerfully, encourage someone else to wander with me down the paths of discovery of how He lives in our every-day lives.  it's easy to gloss over the hard stuff and i think, sometimes, to miss what light He wants to speak into the sometimes-darkness.

and it's dark right now in my world.  despite five beautiful children, a husband who loves me and is faithful to provide for us, i am tired, and grumpy, and frankly, feel they'd all be better off without me.

He's given me a gift of being able to use photography to build a business within the last couple years.  i've taken to it and run with it, more enamored than with any art form i've pursued.  a passionate person by nature, the desire to capture beauty in others' lives and to bring out all its richness through artistic editing has consumed me.  to the point, it's become so consuming that i've taken every job offered, overcommitted, and am now in a hole so deep i wonder if there's a way out... trying to catch up on committments and keep clients happy.

i considered a field, like the proverbs 31 woman i so aspire to be.  i planted and i watered and i went without sleep and i let it become my god.  oh and here's the thing, i've been so long and so often "in the field," that the little home i am queen of has gone neglected.  those five (well, six, counting my man) favorite subjects of mine have been often fending for themselves as i "did this for them."

the term "managing" has been brought to me twice this week through the wisdom of two women whose advice i trust and respect.  the concept of good management of resources is rich in God's love letter to us.  there are stories of fields and coins riches and provisions, where sometimes people invested wisely, and often, they squandered.  i am not a good manager, and i have justified myself, thinking it was okay to be "artsy," and yet undisciplined.  i've let my house, and my physical dwelling (my body, girls), go downhill.  i've let my desire for affirmation lead me to take on more and more "outside" work, and i'm not keeping up with any of it.

why in the world am i sharing all this for any joe schmo to read?  maybe, just maybe, in vulnerability, i will be able to encourage someone else.  the world, and feminism, and the Body, and other sources, would like us to believe we can do it all.  even in the microcosm of "homeschool mom," there's this notion that we can do everything, and we can do it well.  i'm pretty sure, though, that we can't.  yep, the proverbs 31 woman had home-based business(es).  she also most likely had her in-laws living with her.  she had servant girls.  she didn't have target and a minivan and internet to divide her interests.  she rose before dawn, but she most likely didn't stay up till 11 watching top chef.  or 3 am editing photos.  or till who-knows-when blogging.

these blessings are all well and good.  but if i am to enjoy them, i've got to manage them well.  and i've got to first pay attention to my love affair with the God of my soul.  and then the people He's given me responsibility for.  if i am going to be an "artist," i've gotta learn to manage the resources  at home first.  somehow, i've got to discipline myself to ask only for His approval, and not need it from my friends, my in-laws, my clients, or even my husband.

i've got a lot of digging to do, but i think know Papa's here in the hole with me.  because even though i wander far from His heart, He's never let me go.  He's promised to never leave me nor forsake me.  and while i long to dance free in His fields of grace, i want to be swept up in His arms the whole time.

my precious friends have stepped in and are loving on me through the mess i've created.  they're loving on and helping me teach my children for a few days.  they're sneaking in and cleaning up messes in my house.  (oh how i cringe to share this info.)  and they're so sweetly speaking truth to me over my own loud cries of failure.  one spoke to me yesterday gentle reminder that i need to "plant my face in His word.  even if in spite, read every day and night."  so finally, prodigal daughter i've been, i sat last night and asked Papa to speak to me.  here's what he had to say through the heart of my old brother in the faith, the passionate and often-undisciplined "man-after-His-heart."

"O Lord, I beseech The, save my life!"
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous.  Yes, our God is compassionate.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul.
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For Thou hast rescued my soul
from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling...

From my distress I called upon the Lord;
The Lord answered me
and set me in a large place...
The Lord is for me among those
who help me...

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in (myself) man.

The Lord has disciplined me severely,
but He has not given me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I shall enter through them,
I shall give thanks to the Lord...

Thou hast become my salvation.
(from Psalm 116 & 118)

oh, help me, Papa!  thank you that you are helping me,  even in the hole i've dug.

anna-girl cooks

she's so tiny, that i forget she's growing up, a teensy bit at a time.  my sweet girl was so excited when we got yellow squash and zuchinni in our produce box this week.  "can i make my special sauteed squash?" she wanted to know.  i had an engagement (read: long-term editing session!) at my photography cottage that kept me away through dinner, but she met me at the front door with a bowl she'd saved for me.  "we should take pictures!" i said.  "i already did!  the boys and daddy didn't get it.  but i wanted to blog it."  and we shall.  my baby-girl, who's inching her way toward womanhood, is already developing her own culinary sense.  and may i add, it was scrumptious.  i ate every bite she left for me.

anna's special squash:  (she forgot the zuchinni this time.)


so grown up... {largo florida children's photography}

so this is alesha.  when she was in middle school i was just a young mama and practically a newlywed.  i felt Papa prompting me to get more involved in living out Titus 2 - the call for the "older women to teach the younger women."  so nervously i approached alesha and her friend, andrea, and asked if they'd like to meet weekly.  sometimes we did Bible study, sometimes we just talked on my couch while i nursed a baby or juggled a toddler's busy-ness.  sometimes the girls just helped with dishes and we prayed about life.  today alesha is a beautiful woman of God and a mama in her own right - quite ready to pop with baby number three. 

she's married to an awesome guy who loves Jesus (and with whom she shared their first kiss on their wedding day!) and she teaches fitness classes, coaches little kids' soccer, and disciples a group of young girls.  there have been plenty of occasions when i've called alesha only to have her pour out wisdom and encouragement from Papa's heart.

even now she comes to visit, from some two hours away, and brings her own little ones.  now mine help with hers, giggling and "touching the bottom of the pool," wrestling with them in the living room, and bouncing on the mattress in the makeshift guest room.  even now she stands with me at the sink ever-full of dishes, only now as we chat about life we look out over our combined 7-1/2 children, and i am in awe of how time marches on.  in this cool way our God has, he's turned around my humble efforts to teach my little sister, and now she gives me all sorts of advice.  (we're using stickers instead of candy corn to reward littlest for going in the potty - ha!)  now my oldest ones are the "big kids" to hers, and yet we have babies the same age.

 i love how in the Kingdom things are topsy-turvy.  just when we think we'll teach, we're taught.  when we think we'll serve, we find we're being served.  i love that in the Kingdom, we are given the gift of extended family and through each other, we experience the love of our Papa in real-life ways... sometimes while standing at the kitchen sink.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the art of paper {st. petersburg florida fine art stationery}

i so want to be an amazing note-writer like my friend tami.  every time i get my act together enough to actually follow through with some heartfelt sentiment and give a tangible gift, a few short days later i receive a lovely handwritten note in the mail, written with mushy-friend-love in her scrolly-girly-script.  i love it and when i grow up i want to do this, too.

my mom tried to hard to train this into me, but it just doesn't stick - i'm not that together!  well, enter the sweet jacqueline, a homeschool girl i met through the blog world, who lo-and-behold lives near me!  she has an etsy store called TheArtofPaper, and her offerings are simply yummy!  i have adored these layers-on-layers-of-yummy-papers with stamping and cutouts and all kinds of embellishments online, and i have wished to own some for myself.  finally last week (with a paypal balance so i could justify the splurge) i ordered my very own set of cards.  just a few short days later (she must be related to tami... sigh...) into my hands was delivered an envelope of scrumptious tactile notewriting pleasure.  not only were the cards tied up with pretty ribbon and a handmade card, but that sweet girl had decked out a writing pen with matching patterned paper!  ( i PROMISE i will take photos and post mine!)  surely this will make me a true lady and letter-writing-faithful.

with permission, i share some of jacqueline's photos from her shop.  go there.  seriously.  you know you want to be a note-writing queen like i someday aspire to be!  (and if not, these would make precious handmade Christmas gifts.)

now if miss jacqueline could just come up with some sort of system to get me organized and keep me faithfully writing those notes...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

leaving a legacy

i may have shared this before, but this photo reminded me again of the journey our family has been on, and of the lessons we are continually learning.  (by "we," i mean me, my broken, ambitious, impatient, self-centered-but-desiring-God's-heart momma-self). 

a few years ago i fell in love hard.  the object of my affection was a little piece of technical equipment designed to help one capture fleeting moments and preserve them, presumably, for future recollection.  my camera soon became the object of my obsession, and then had to be replaced for a bigger, faster, more adaptable one.  before long, there came the opportunity to use that camera to add to our family's income, and i had more reason to tinker, to upgrade, to stay up all hours learning how to use it in newer, more innovative, and more technically correct ways.  i am becoming the proverbs 31 woman, i reasoned!  i am considering a field and planting it; i am rising up before the dawn and attending to the affairs of... my household?

i often frustrate at all that i do not know about my camera, but i love that i can use it to help others collect and keep their fleeting moments, too.  i love that this piece of technology, which is so elusive and captivating to me in its possibilities, can become an instrument used to display my Papa's beauty in people, in places, and in emotions.

in the beginning it was my obsession.  by this i mean i didn't want to share it.  this little thing called selfishness so easily rules my heart, especially as a homeschooling mama, and i reason, "i share everything with them.  they get all my time and energy and i deserve something just for me."  ironically, that "me" thing is also what i want to use to "leave a legacy" through the images it captures; the "me" part interferes in its proper use.

after prodding and hinting and all-out begging, i gave in and handed over my precious, and allowed my children to give it a go.  i was amazed at their ability to pick up the technical aspects more quickly than i can and their unique perspective of the same things i observed.  and soon, my thing became our shared love.  even my dear husband has become interested in the art of photography, and i am in awe of his vision as his technical knowledge grows.

all this to say that sometimes, our Papa gives us a gift that He intends us to use for His glory, and we allow it to replace Him.  we allow it to supercede the importance of those He has given us to love, and we allow it to consume the energy He intends us to lavish on loving Him.  it is my constant battle to balance honoring Him by honing the art and craft, with setting it aside and washing his feet with my hair.  sometimes i do that by reading His love letter to me; sometimes it is in listening to another artist's musical renderings of a love affair with Him; sometimes it is just in sitting at the little beat-up wooden school table and helping my twelve year old with his long division.  and yes, sometimes it is in handing over my camera equipment to allow my children to leave a legacy of their own.

oh teach me Lord, to walk in your ways.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

our naples week {florida homeschool field trip}

we had so much fun spending a week in naples, bonita springs, and ft. myers. we took a field trip (missed the second one due to a sick big brother), visited a cool park, hung with grandparents, friends, and cousins during the day, and did a series of portrait sessions in the evenings. a couple snaps from our edison field trip (which we especially enjoyed in the midst of our botany study):(thanks, nana, for manning the camera!! we had so much fun with you...)

"I" is for "Isaac's Phone?" {Florida Family Fun}

Is it sad that I have more apps on my new iphone for my two year old than for myself? Is it true what the big kids say that he's spoiled when he can play the games but they have to wait in line?

Friday, September 4, 2009

storybook cottage... before

this is our little portrait cottage. in small bites. because at this point you can't see all of the vision coming forth, haha!
this little gem is such a blessing - a "happenstance" appearance on the horizon of what we've been dreaming for the photography business. (as if there is happenstance.) our landlords are a sweet Christian couple who have a counseling practice in the pretty two-story victorian next door. the wife tells us she's so glad we've "moved in." really? Lord, can you spoil us more??

really? "my office?!!!"

as we paint and scrub and prepare to lay flooring, i find myself daydreaming of and praying for the clients who'll visit us there... that they will leave having been blessed... and having a glimpse of themselves as you see them, Papa.

oh my God...

when i look at all you have made, i am astounded.
when i see how you reveal your light, and your depth, and your height,
and your grandeur, through us, your people, i lose my breath.
how is it that you can reveal through brokenness, beauty?

how, through the heart of one who is harsh and disobedient,
can beauty still be reflected?
oh, Papa, call me to tenderness, to softness of heart,
to sweetness of speech, to gentleness and peacefulness...
break my hardness and bring forth something worthy to be
called yours.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

shooting with my princess-girlie...

a and i spent a few minutes at the beach a while back practicing shooting manual - she's amazing me with how she's picking it up! we took a couple self-portraits, and with their permission, a couple photos of a sweet couple vacationing. thank you, baby-girl, for a fun date!

my version...

this one cracks me up!!