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Big Love Goes to Kindergarten!

I wanted to run in.  I wanted to run into her room and melodramatically yell, “Don’t you realize what school means?!  It means less time with mommy, less time playing.  It means no more mid morning walks, no more waking up when you feel like it or eating when you feel like it.  It means restriction.  How could you possibly be excited to go!”  I wanted to lie next to her in that little bed and talk about all kinds of wonderful things, wonderful things that we’ve done and ones that we want to do.  I wanted to hear her talk about what she wants to be when she grows up and how magic dust makes her boo boos better and how her brain and lungs and every other part of her body works (since that’s what she is interested in).  I wanted to do anything to keep today from coming.  Alas, it was dark and she needed her rest.  And so I decided to step outside with my tissue roll and lay on the trampoline and look up at the stars.
But I didn’t see the stars.  The tears flooded the cool black mat.  I couldn’t even stop them.  They just came.  Not the quiet, silent tears that we often have as adults.  Real bellows, sobs.  My neighbors already know we’re weird so I didn’t even care what they thought, if they thought anything at all.  And while my head thought, “How absurd to cry over such a thing,” my heart felt real pain.  I felt silly and stupid and childish and heartbroken all at the same time.  I mean she’s not dead or dying or even ill.  She has no disease, and she has no disability, but  I felt mad that she would no longer be here with me all the time, where I could be in control of what she sees, hears, and does, where I could kiss her any time I want.  I wanted to scream up at the sky and the planes passing by.  I wanted them to know my stupid, absurd, feelings.  I was glad no one was there to see such a display.  And finally when no more tears would come and the sobs had ceased and all I could hear were the crickets’ songs, I prayed earnestly for peace.
You see our decision to send Big Love to public school did not come lightly.  And it is not what we really wanted to do.  And it still is not.  But it’s what we feel is best for her and our family right now.  And, until we see that it’s not, she will continue to go to public school.  And I will continue to pray for peace.
I am happy that she’s happy.  I’m over the moon that she loves her teacher and is excited about school.  And you can bet I’ll be there to volunteer, eat lunch, for field trips and parties.  But ultimately, my absurd display out there, at night, on the trampoline (Big Love’s 5th birthday present no less) is a sign of my mistrust of God.  I have to let go of my control and let God be in control of her life.  I have to trust that He will guide her and us through this process and that whatever comes her way will not be more than she can deal with.  After all, He has brought her through some pretty tumultuous times already.  I have to recognize that God’s way is much much better than mine.
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Baby Love’s Beauty Full Seashells

“Mama! Mama!  Wait.  This one’s beautiful,”  she says to me as we walk along the beach together at sunset,  just her and I. “And this one and this one.”  She’s said it for almost every single one she’s picked up.  Every one of them is beautiful.  Every little piece.

They are beautiful because everything about the ocean is beautiful, from the fiercest to the most docile, from the deepest blue to the darkest gray, from trough to trough, and from crest to crest.  Every grain of sand, every animal, shell, and plant.  There is nothing about the ocean that is not beautiful.

Every piece together makes a beautiful whole.  Just like us.  Our fragments make up who we are.  Some fragments are jagged and holey.  Some are smooth.  Some are not fragments but whole pieces.   And then somehow God collects our pieces and puts them in a jar, ugly and beautiful alike, and the jar is filled.  And it is not a jar filled with lots of ugly pieces of seashells, or whole seashells or rocks.  It is a jar that is filled with us, who we are, and there is nothing ugly about what God has made.

They are beautiful because she is beauty full.  They are beautiful because everything is beauty full to her. And they are beautiful because they are hers.  And they are her first ones.  I think I will keep them forever and ever.

Young Love

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way.”

Pablo Neruda

As a photographer, it is my job to watch people, to anticipate their expressions, their interactions, in an effort to capture even a minute glimpse of who they really are. I’ve been watching this couple from afar for a while now. For a while I wasn’t even sure they were a couple.  I’ve seen them in church and at the pool and, while they do act lovingly towards one another, it is so subdued that it hadn’t really occurred to me that they really are more than friends.   And since these two were leaders at our church’s Vacation Bible School recently, I watched more.  On the last day of VBS, they wore these shirts.  You can’t tell it from the pictures (which I hope they will not be too disappointed about), but when they get close together, the hearts on their shirts light up!  When they are apart, the hearts’ lights go out one by one the farther apart they get.  I couldn’t take it one bit longer.  I boldly asked them both if I could take pictures of them that day, and they gladly agreed 🙂

What’s important about this story, though, is that I realized that the reason I didn’t initially see that they were in love isn’t because it was that subdued.  It is because what I see every day (or many days) as “in love” is physically displayed between two people.  Kissing, hugging, flirting.  Those are all characteristics of a couple in love.  These two are so very inspiring to me because they don’t do those things, at least not in public.  And that, my friends, is a godly relationship.  Whether they know it or not, they are representing God with their relationship in a way I haven’t quite seen before in such young people.  The exude love for one other, but it seems so pure and sweet and clean.

So none of this really occurred to me until I had them in that little alleyway behind our church.  For 10 minutes I was in their world and it was such a privilaged 10 minutes.  I got to see up close and personal something I never had as a teenager, something many many people never have, a young, godly relationship and love.   It is always amazing to me that there are young men like him and young women like her still in existence in today’s world, and they give me hope that my girls can have what they have one day.  These two may get married.  They may not.  But what’s important is what they are reflecting to the world right now.    They love each other without pride or mystery or lies.  They love each other because they just do.  They love each other because they know no different, because they know no other way.  God loves us because he is love and knows no other way.  And I’m sure his heart lights dim when we are not near him, and, believe it or not, ours do too.

A High Seas Adventure

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Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.  ~Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood (introduction), 1982

For the first time in my adult life, I had the opportunity to participate in a church’s Vacation Bible School, my church’s in fact.  The love for my church has grown bigger over the past 5 months that we’ve been there, but I think it grew ten fold this week as I got to see not only our children learning about God and even practicing what they learned, but our adult and teen workers being taught about God by the children.  I was hugely impacted by the enthusiasm our children have for God and how they display it in their own individual, unique ways.  It is in our best interest to raise our children up in the way they should go so they will not deviate from it, so that they will be the examples for our world, examples of goodness, kindness, love, and godliness. Though no one could see it because my face was generally hidden behind my camera (a place that is quickly becoming my safe zone), the children, adults, and youth of our wonderful community and small town church brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion during our High Seas Adventure.    I am so grateful to be a part of this church and for every opportunity I have to serve and fellowship with them, and I love to call Louisburg Baptist Church my church home!  It is a church that is growing and a church that is striving to constantly love and serve our community, our nation, and our world and a church with which God is surely well pleased.

Oh, The Pain!

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“We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be”

C.S. Lewis

My big girl had her 5 year doctor’s appointment yesterday.  My mom and I tried to make it a happy fun day,  and the doctor’s office rocked it with cool little stations, stickers, and prizes.  It’s hard to sugar coat something that will be, in the end, pretty painful, but I think they did a great job.

Big girl Avery awoke yesterday morning brimming with excitement about going to the doctor.  She asked several times before we actually left.  “Will I get shots, mommy?” she would ask with a quirky little smile.  “Yes, probably,” I said dreadingly.  Her smile was almost bashful, a funny little kind of smile like she was still excited about going but maybe only half-heartedly believing that there would be pain.  We ate lunch at Applebees and moved on to Target.  Mom bought little packs of stickers for the girls for after the appointment.  It was fun.  I could almost forget about the bulbous knot in the pit of my stomach.  I knew the pain would be temporary.  I don’t think I was so wrapped up in the pain that Avery would experience as I was in the knowledge that this appointment means she will be going to school soon.  Something I guess I thought was forever away when she was born is now approaching like a freight train.

After the doctor’s appointment and on the way home, my stomach was sick from stress and the laughter of the girls running through the Target had changed to silence from Bel (finally) and a soft chatter from Avery in the back seat playing with her prizes and drinking her slushie.  I had explained to Avery that the shots would help keep her well and safe from lots of yucky things, and that way she could grow up strong.  The reasoning seemed to suffice in exchange for the 5 minutes of pure hellacious screaming we had endured.  In a few moments of silence, though, it occurred to me how the situation we had been through is very much the way God works with us.  We have pain and suffering, and we don’t generally understand why.  But we know it’s for our good.  We know that, while we’re screaming and not understanding why it is absolutely necessary for us to go through such pain and suffering, that the pain will end. And at the end (let’s be honest) we usually get a reward.  It could be only a sticker, but mostly it’s not.  It’s something obvious and wonderful.

I cried when she got those shots.  I held her down.  It was some of the worst few seconds of my life.  But after the screams stopped, after what seemed like an eternity in slow motion, my sweet Avery settled down, picked out her prize, and she knew that I would never make her endure something so painful that wasn’t necessary…because I love her more than breath, more than life, more than more.  God probably loves us that way too.

Dessert + 4 Girls = Favorite part of the meal!!

My increasingly-naughty-but-ever-so-adorable Anabel’s new “mean” look.

Each child in the “kindergarten roundup” got a cowboy hat and a star.  They made great efforts to make it fun.  The kids even got to color.

Avery will have to see a pediatric eye doctor for followup on her vision.  She may or may not need glasses.

Believe it or not, her hearing was fine 😉

This is actually an eye test…which she passed!

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Avery and Anabel had fun playing doctor while we waited for the doctor.

“Seriously?”  I said looking at the nurse.

“Seriously.” she said.

100 Post Hoorah

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I realized today that I didn’t celebrate my 100th post! It was actually 2 posts ago. It’s a big deal for me to stick with blogging since I (unfortunately) have a tendency to quit things when I get bored with them or am not good at them….something I’m constantly working on. So here’s some of my favorite posts from my 100!

Change

Happy Valentine\’s Day! Love, God

A Mother\’s Day Indeed

War and Roses

Summer Smells and Seashells

I Remember

A Weighty Issue

Daring To Discuss

Small Town Girl

Another Valentine\’s To Remember

Magic Tricks – An Easter Story

The Father and the Prodigal Son(S)

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20

The story of the Prodigal Son was preached to us last week. I think it is so easy to turn off your hearing when you are being spoken to on any subject that you think you know something about. I did that a lot to my parents growing up, but I have learned to at least try and hear what is being said because what a person might be telling me may just well be different this time. Such is the case with this sermon.

We generally focus on the son that went away, squandered his father’s money, lived in squalor and came home again broken and seeking forgiveness. I think the more important part of this story isn’t about the Prodigal Son but about the Father. The Father came out to the son long before he had made it home. I think that’s the role of God. I think he reaches us long before we’ve made it home. I think he reaches us long before we’ve made it home every single time we go away and squander his money and live in squalor because let’s face it, we do it over and over and over again.

I also learned that there are two prodigal sons in this story. The son who stayed home committed sin as well. His jealousy and anger, his self-righteousness, was just as sinful as his brother’s sins. We are all prodigal sons. We all fit in one of two categories or both. In some way we all stray from our Father and he will see us and greet us long before we make it home to him.