it's that time of the year again. november, that magic month, where the leaves are officially shifting their colors to different shades of red, is reminding me that it's time to slow down once again. we are entering a season of reflecting and thanksgiving, where we can talk about sitting in front of a fireplace, drinking our hot chocolate (with or without whipped cream) with our kids and reading about the story of Christmas.
for me, this month is another opportunity to count my blessings. sometimes it's hard for me to sit there and look at the mess around my home and be thankful. other times i wonder if i'd ever get to my children's hearts while raising them without hurting them with my words or actions. but i am learning that Grace shows up in these little moments, and i am thankful for these thousands of little moments since the day they were born. they encourage me, break me, humble me.
this, is my november project.
1/30 : slow mornings
2/30 : math
3/30 : lego city
4/30 : tin whistle presentation
5/30 : a quiet saturday
6/30 : sick day sunday
7/30 : the second tooth
8/30 : you don't eat your breakfast on the kitchen counter?
9/30 : early morning phonic lessons
10/30 : is it almost ready?
11/30 : hiding place
12/30 : rainbow loom bracelets
13/30 : sunday braids
14/30 : hot chocolate conflict
15/30 : food poisoning
16/30 : no pants
17/30 : morning sunshine
18/30 : when your cousin slept over
19/30 : nap time
20/30 : michigan--opa & declan
21/30 : michigan--blustery
22/30 : michigan--chocolate milk
23/30 : michigan--bird
24/30 : michigan--thanksgiving day
25/30 : michigan--three cedars farm
26/30 : michigan--last day
27/30 : unpacking
28/30 : term one exam
29/30 : afternoon practice
30/30 : getting ready for advent
black & white
photo essays about the kids and their grandparents.
june 2016, virginia beach
november 2015 - south carolina
october 2015 - missouri
july 2015 - michigan
june 2015 - maine
august 2012 - south carolina
august 2012 - south carolina
october 2014 - michigan
september 2014 - washington, d.c.
december 2014 - maine
june 2015 - maine
october 2015 - illinois
july 2015 - michigan
august 2012 - south carolina
december 2014 - maine
october 2014 - michigan
glimpses of grace
hi there. this is our second installment of a reading/photo project. we are currently reading gloria furman's book, glimpses of grace.
'glimpses of grace is about how God's power in the gospel can transform us for his glory as we live by faith--right where we are in the mundane of our homes.....apart from knowing God, we have no hope for being a wise parent, spouse, friend, floor sweeper, or bill payer. because God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory our faith and hope are in God (1 Pet. 1:21), not in our ever-changing circumstances or in the comforts of our homes and meticulously planned routines.' ~ gloria furman
thanks for following along!
'the opportunity for growth in holiness lies right in front of your face--sitting in the tepid dishwasher, festering in the laundry basket, at your crowded dinner table, and under the car seat where your toddler stashed her leftover granola bar for later. sure, fuzzy mold might be growing there, but in these moments it is also where growth in holiness happens.'
"when we reject the Son of God, who was sent according to the plan of the Father, and try to save ourselves through good works, we fail to honor God. the Bible says our good deeds are like filthy rags compared to his righteousness. The only thing a filthy rag does for us is rub in the stains of sin and guilt on our consciences." -p 45
"peace and quiet are not ultimate. activity and responsibility are not ultimate. because Christ is ultimate, the loss of any of these things--solitude or circus--makes no difference in the sufficiency of Christ or in his ability to give you everything you need for life and godliness."
'doing things that require accurate vision can have horrific results if you fail to use the assistance you need. so it is with the decisions we make every day in regard to our growth in holiness. when our perspective of this life is nearsighted, we come to believe that what is in front of us is all there is. We resist doing the awkward things entailed in walking in love. We despise the hard work it takes to run the race. we avoid the pain that results from fighting for our faith by choosing not to fight at all.'
"whatever 'this' that you desperately feel you can't do anymore, it's ultimately not about your circumstances. it's about peace with God. and God has provided a way for you to have that peace that dominates any and all circumstances, regardless of how difficult they are."
"this Jesus who tells us not to be anxious for anything is the Son of God who has been given charge over all things in the universe. surely a mother loves her child who dotes on that child and has memorized every birthmark and personality quirk of that child. how much more does the God who knows the number of hairs on your head love you and care for what you need?"
"who hasn't been in someone else's home where they felt like the home or the meal was an intentionally orchestrated display to the glory of the host? and who of us hasn't been that hostess? our craving for admiration is diluted and the praise of others is muffled as we serve with the strength God supplies."
"my disgusting kitchen floor and its propensity to absorb filth is a picture of our hearts. no matter how hard we scrub, we cannot erase our iniquity. the shame of our sin is like the phantom stain on a shirt that reappears after you’ve dried it. the stain is deep in the fibers of the shirt, and when the right temperature of heat is applied, the stain rises to the surface of the fabric. the stain is permanent."
"we say, “God is good,” when our children are obedient, we don’t feel any pain, the house is in order, and we spent two cheerful hours doing homemade crafts together without any whining. and we would be right to say so. but God is good for deeper reasons than our experience of temporary relief in fluctuating earthly circumstances."
[on our selfish nature] "I don’t know about you, but I could write my own name next to all of those reasons and excuses and own them. The first person I think about in the morning is me. I go about my day focused on preserving the dignity of me. I prioritize my day and night according to what I think I need. And I go to bed at night wondering how to make tomorrow all about me."
"If you’re looking over your broken life and wondering, “What on earth am I even doing for God?” trust God. Hold on tight to grace-besotted statements from Paul, like, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Then boast in your weaknesses so that the power of Christ rests on you. Be content that when you are weak in those moments, you are strong in Christ (2 Cor. 12:9–10). God is delighted to use fragile jars of clay and our imperfect homes for the sake of his fame among the nations!"
"We’re not so different from the diligent painters. We work so hard to build an image in our home that we often neglect the inner workings that define and shape the home. And when things are not functioning well inside our home, the issues seep out into the open where everyone can see. When this happens, our instinct is to patch up the cracks and paint over the stains to the neglect of fixing the inside. But the gospel leads us into the truth and enables us to dare to uncover what lies beneath the beautifully manicured surface of our lives."
week 13 & conclusion
"Think of a gift from God. Have you got it in your mind? Now ask yourself, what is it about this particular gift that satisfies your soul, albeit temporarily? When you begin to see how a gift from God touches your soul, you’ll notice that the gift is actually pointing at a space in your heart that God can fill eternally with an enduring joy. God is a good Father, and he never, ever considers for even one moment letting us remain satisfied with anything less than himself, because he is the most satisfying treasure in the whole wide world."
it's tuesday. let us celebrate these small moments...for these are the ones that we often overlook. i am learning to pause and purposely gather them up like precious new seeds that may yield to something bigger. something that i may otherwise miss.
last year i set a personal goal to read one book per week starting june. i have been immersed in the wonderful world of books since then. sometimes you'd come across a special one that you could not just put away after you were finished with it. simply tuesday by emily p. freeman was one of those. the idea of a personal project based on this book came to life after a brief conversation with a few friends. here are molly flanagan's and courtney zimmerman's: each of us was to interpret these selected quotes differently.
let's learn to watch out for and savor these small moments together. thanks for following along!
'when confronted with heartbreak, fear, questions, longing, frustrations, and grief, this new life means instead of running to build our cities of protection, we can set out on a different road. this road that may include loneliness, obscurity, hiddenness, and silence. it may be narrow, lined with danger, and filled with darkness at times. but we have a light that will not go out and cannot be turned off. the light of Christ burns bright within us, and wherever we go we will not go alone. this is our promise, our protection, and the place where our voice comes from.' ~simply tuesday, p. 35, 36
'home isn't either beautiful or not, happy or sad, full or empty. home is both. home is and. home has good parts, hard parts, marvelous and miracle parts. home is where we celebrate and where we grieve, where we are hurt, broken and healed, and made whole again. and all of these parts are essential as we live in the kingdom of God.' p52-53
"'nowhere' is not the conjunction of no and where but, rather, the conjunction of now and here, which is actually Everywhere and is the only spot that we can truly experience God." -brennan manning, ruthless trust, ch. 3
"when i'm performing for my acceptance, burnout is always the result. i don't see Jesus calling me to excellence. i do see him calling me to himself. and sometimes, on the kingdom of earth, moving close to Jesus looks like failure and embarrassment." p.74
"it seems to me when i finally recognize my inability is when Christ shows up able within me. but he doesn't equip me to do every job possible, he equips me to do the job meant for me." p. 90
"when i celebrate my smallness and receive the gift of obscurity, i am free. i have hope. i can give generously. i can be who i am rather than either who you think i am or who i want you to think i am. when i resist smallness it's because i'm afraid it means invisibility." ch. 6
"to know and be known is both compelling and repulsive to me. the way God moves on earth is through the hands and eyes and feet of people--both the ones i'm naturally drawn to and the ones who get on my nerves" -p 122
"i would not choose to become a child again but i am looking to children and searched in them for a simplicity and ordinariness that makes being an adult easier to accept and miracles easier to see." ~ marcrina wiederkehr, seasons of your heart -- ch 8, p 131
"heather king's shirt of flame brought me a few steps closer to understanding one side of this particular struggle. in her book, she shared the example of enjoying your own birthday party, all the attention on you, and then a friend decides to announce her pregnancy right in the middle of it. 'we take a bit of a backseat and rejoice for her with the rest of the guests. that's not dishonesty, that's maturity. that's refraining from making every little thing about us. that's caring about the spiritual well-being of another. that's wearing the world like a loose garment.'" p. 123
"we confess our inability to discern the difference between honesty and self-defensiveness, maturity and martyrdom. may we invite You into our footnote interactions so they don't fester into headlines. may we hand over every moment into Your care, trusting You to handle us tenderly. And in the handing over, may the world become to us like a loose garment. may we have the courage to know when to speak and when to stay silent, ever moving toward others even as You move within us. may Christ be our security when we care too much about little things and our salvation when we care too little about the big ones. may we have the insight, discernment, and humility to know the difference." -p.154
"maybe the answer isn't in trying so hard to find the light but in being willing to face the fog and remember Christ stands here too. to remember together with all the saints that he is sufficient in the light and in the darkness, in the pain and in the joy, in the morning as well as the night." -p168-169
'true hope doesn't come from good results, positive outcomes, or sure wins. the hope that is deep and enduring is knowing we will be okay even if the results and outcomes aren't a win.' -p176
'i don't expect and i don't like a God who comes to me in failure, in loneliness, in poverty. yet God comes to me where i live and loves me where i am. if i am not where i am, God cannot meet me. it's as simple as that.' ~ brennan manning, p 233
november project 2015
"first--hands off! whatever i photograph i do not molest or tamper with or arrange." ~dorothea lange
1/30 : getting ready for church, 6:15 am
2/30 : lunch on the deck
3/30 : 4 years old
4/30 : siblings
5/30 : south carolina bound
6/30 : roommates
7/30 : 7:00 am
8/30 : cousins and new books
9/30 : being a parent is HARD
10/30 : individual reading time
11/30 : a blow pop during chore time
12/30 : their conversations
13/30 : windy fall day
14/30 : breakfast before soccer
15/30 : sunday morning
16/30 : homeschool co-op
17/30 : trading
18/30 : facetime-ing & flexi puzzles
19/30 : morning business
20/30 : 'caleb did it, too.'
21/30 : first soccer trophie
22/30 : getting ready to deliver breakfast for church
23/30 : visitor
24/30 : nap
25/30 : breakfast in michigan
26/30 : pre-morning nap
27/30 : wii resort
28/30 : cousins
29/30 : family
30/30 : no school
charlotte was 82 years old and lived alone across the street from me. she was tall, slender yet had a big personality. in the beginning of this year (2015) i have decided to visit her once a week to get to know her and write down her stories. i didn't have a grand plan; just wanted to get to know her one day at a time. she was opinionated, willful; but she always had so many good stories to tell.
the day before mother's day this year, ben and i were planning on taking her out to dinner. it was that afternoon we found out charlotte passed away in her sleep, leaving behind her daughter and grandson.
this collection are a brief summary of our conversations during the short time we were together.
“my father always wanted a girl, you know…i’ve got three brothers…he told my mother he wanted his princess. when i was born, we were so poor, there was no milk for me…so what did daddy do for his only girl? one day, he walked all the way to the rich neighborhood. he followed the milkman to this house. he waited until the milkman left, looked around, and he didn’t see anybody…so he took the milk and hid it inside his coat. later on, when things got better, he took two milk jars filled with milk one day and disappeared. when he came home, my mother asked where he’d gone. that was when he told my mother the story. he said he was giving back the milk he had stolen before with a note…thanking the family he had stolen from that they had saved his little girl.”
“…and i have a bathtub. inside it is full of wigs (laughs.)”
charlotte lived alone. on this particular day, i could tell she was not as giddy and relaxed as usual. a few minutes later she told me that the person who was supped to take her to the grocery store ‘never showed up and never bothered to call.’ i tried to comfort her and told her she might have something that came up the last minute and perhaps that was why she never had the chance to call. but charlotte didn't want to believe it. once she made up her mind about someone, that was usually it. but a few days later i found out her friend came and took her to the grocery store.
“…if you saw my husband, you would fall out of love with your husband and fall in love with mine.”
today i got some tulips for charlotte for valentine’s day. i didn’t know what kind of flowers she liked but thought tulips were a safe choice. i knocked on her door while she was having lunch. she saw me and the flowers, her face lit up. she offered me some homemade iced tea and said she makes one container-full every single day. i sat down on her couch and watched her eat. her tv was on and the news was predicting the cold temperature or reporting events on dating and valentine’s day. she told me that after her husband passed away, she tried to date twice. one man bought her roses that were the size of small bowls. the other man…she said they just never ‘clicked.’ she was glad it didn’t work out with either one…since no one was ever able to measure up to her late husband. she also told me that both men are now dead, and she made a vow to never date again since she thought it was a bad omen that all the men she had ever been involved with die before she.
before i left, i asked her what she normally did on valentine’s day. “well,” she said. “i normally go to the graveyard but it’s been so damn cold that i haven’t been able to go.” i ached a little for her and wished i had some more time to spare so i could take her to go see her husband. maybe soon.
we went to trader joe’s today. charlotte even offered me her handicapped tag so i felt like a VIP. she kept telling me this particular store has changed so much since the last time she visited…15 years ago. i didn’t want to argue with her and correct her that the store’s only been opened for 5 years.
on our way home, charlotte told me a story about her hungarian grandmother–-who refused to learn english, in america-–beat her so badly when she was 17. the reason was that she went and bought a cherry coke one day after school instead of coming straight home. it was one of her responsibilities to iron everyone’s clothes (mother, father, 3 brothers) after school but she especially hated the handkerchiefs. she knew she had to be home by a certain time…but the lure of the cherry coke was too great. she tried to run home after buying the cherry coke with her saved-up pennies, only to have half of the coke spilled along the way. still, she got a beating from her grandmother. she then made sure i understood that she wasn’t crazy about her grandmother. because she refused to learn english, in america.
charlotte told me today--as if it was her first time--that she was born during the ameircan depression. every family in her neighborhood would receive one loaf of bread from the government from time to time, and her father had to sell his work truck…even though he was a contractor.
when she was 16 years old, she was told by her favorite aunt one day that she had an opportunity to make some money for the family. she didn’t know what it was at the time but she said yes. her aunt took her to new york city and later she found out she was going to be a hand model.
she was excited for this opportunity since she loved doing her nails…despite the fact that she grew up with 3 brothers and was very much of a tomboy. before a 'shoot', people from the agency would make her raise her arms and place her hands on a high platform…until her hands went numb. that way, all the veins on her hands would disappear and ‘look perfect.’ even though she couldn’t feel a thing after the process, she loved every minute of it.
i asked her if i could take a picture of her hands. she told me i was only allowed to take a picture of one…since she didn’t file the nails on the other one.
charlotte passed away over the weekend. on saturday, ben and i were planning on taking her out to dinner for mother’s day. after a few unanswered phone calls, ben went to go check on her. there she was, lying in her bed, charlotte had stopped breathing. my heart broke, i sobbed when the news came. for just two days before that, she was sitting in our living room. with her voice raised, she was letting her opinions known…just as usual.
the view from my front door would never be the same again; i would never see her front door open because she needed fresh air. i would never see her struggle to walk across the street holding a container of freshly baked cookies for my kids. i would never again sit in her living room listening to her repeating her stories.
but i am thankful for the little time we did get to spend together. i know she was placed in my life for a reason. she would be missed terribly.
charlotte, right by her husband jack. rest in peace.