Sunday, October 23, 2016

Photography - Hawaii

We just got back from Hawaii.

The last time I was there my mom, 4-year-old brother, and 3-year-old self were flying to join my dad stationed in Korea. The second leg of our flight took off from Hawaii and thirty minutes in, a loud bang announced an engine had blown. Now flying on only one engine, it took an hour for the plane to dump 20,000 lbs of fuel to be light enough to safely land. Attendants scurried about hurriedly tucking pillows among all the passengers. The plane finally set back down in Hawaii with a jolting thud, unleashing the overhead compartments.

Thankfully – so very thankfully – that story did not repeat itself this time.

This was a trip of a lifetime for us. We celebrated my mother-in-law’s retirement. (Well, sorta. She’s a little uncommitted about this and keeps using the word “pseudo-retirement.”) Anyway, Hawaii when she retires has been on her bucket list and in the works for about twenty years. It felt great to be there with her.

I thought I’d share a few pictures of our vacation from the first two days. Hawaii, people I love, great weather and my camera…I could hardly contain myself. I told my family if they wanted the paparazzi to go away, just let me know. They didn't. 

Which was awesome, because I was just getting warmed up... 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Best Moments In Life Are Free

My favorite moments from the previous week:

1.  We moved and my parents road-tripped up. Their help was great, but I enjoyed their presence more. Transitions (even good transitions) can be hard for me; I liked that they were simply HERE for this big change.

2.  My constantly-on-the-go middle son, who doesn’t need his mom to read to him anymore, took notice of his little brother and I paging through a book. He paused his kinetic energy and lingered as the words unfolded. Then, he sweetly snuggled next to me, rested his head on my shoulder and listened to the end of the story. (Melt.)

3.  My husband and I had a moment. It’d been a weary month full of uncertainty, stress and change. We had just signed the papers to sell our old house and buy a new house and we exchanged a simple smile. It said: “We did it. We got through this turbulent month. We weren’t always at our best, but we got through. Together. Well done.”

The best moments in life really are for free. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mama, Take Care of You

I sent these boys off to school  and have spent my day off work methodically, yet slowly catching up on life. I've switched loads of laundry and baked. Now, I'm sitting down to write and rest.

Last year, I was over-committed. With every new responsibility I precariously stacked on my plate, I lost a little of my sanity. I chased the elusive perfectionism...then reminded myself to stop...briefly did...then picked up the chase again. 

This year, I'm remembering how important it is to take care of yourself and rest. 

Recently, my husband shared this article with me. As I read about this college football coach, I saw a piece of myself in his story. My personal takeaway was: The frantic chase of perfectionism negatively affects your health. By the end of the read, I felt even more determined to include regular rest into my life this year. 

No matter what season you are in, I hope you are brave enough in this do-more culture, to rest as well. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Photography - Summer Tip

Our family is soaking in the tail end of summer. (Or more like clinging to its leg in complete denial it's almost over. We are summer people.) So thought I'd give a photography tip as we all capture the last of these warm rays. When you look at a shot, focus on what is captivating about the scene.

Here's what I mean:
1.  In the first picture, we were at an ordinary park, next to an ordinary baseball field, but then THE SKY! Gorgeous. My son was swinging, so I got below him and shot up.  (Taken on my cell phone.)

2.  I didn't want the house and messy yard in the photo. The beauty of this moment was the water and my kid's smile, so I zoomed in and that’s all you see.

3. The lovely is in the scenery.  (Heaven FOR SURE has mountains!)  But, the stand and smile at me photo (which I have) didn't do the trick. My son leaping over all the streams better captured the delight and beauty of the moment. So, I zoomed out - the scenery is the focal point and my son furniture in the shot.

Or just put down your camera and enjoy the moment before it melts away with the last popsicle of summer. That works too!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

18 Hours Later And I Felt Braver {For Moms}

I did something I never thought I could do this summer - drove 18 hours alone with my three kids on our marathon road trip.
Not straight - that’s madness. Over three days, I drove 9 hours, 5.5 hours, and then 3.5 hours.
But still. Eighteen hours.  
I feel like John Glenn. 
Voyaging beyond an hour from home with my boys is NOT MY THING. The thought gives me insomnia. But I desperately wanted my children to see people I love, especially their great-grandma. And my husband needed to fly home to work, so I took the wheel alone and pressed on.  I would never have done this before kids, but motherhood trumped fear.
Parenting does that. It can make us narcoleptic-tired, paper-thin stretched, and worried like we majored in it, but out of the hard parts comes this crazy new kind of strength.
From day one, we’re forced out of our comfort zone.  At first, we can’t even believe someone would trust us with this little human being. Then we’re astonished that in our sleep-deprived state, we’ve kept our baby fed, rested and clean. We get our kids safely through the toddler years despite the type of things they insist on doing, like licking spilt chocolate milk off of McDonald’s floor. (True story. That was also the day my first grey hair came in.) We become master researchers: illness, milestones, parenting tips, schools. Our strength becomes sub-human; when our children insist on koala-bearing us for ridiculous distances, we carry them. We throw our eight-year-old across the pool simply because please mom it’s so fun. We make hard decisions: "Should I let my teenager take my car?" or "Should I start my child in kindergarten or wait till next year?" In juggling work, family and household, we become bolder, we speak up. And somewhere in it all, we find our inner Mama Bear.
And she is empowering. She nudges us to do things like drive alone with kids into outer space…
…or 18 hours across America - whatever, same diff.
All I know is after the road trip, I feel like I can do more than I could before.
Not that I want to drive alone again. (I don’t. And I don’t recommend it to you either.) But I could do it if I had to.
 Parenting persuades us to be braver today than we were yesterday.
 And that feels good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Good Things Come From Taking A Break

Last summer I didn’t feel like gardening. So I didn’t. (My gardener friend said I was letting the garden rest. I love people who see the best in me.) While I took a break, my strawberries did not. They crept past their given space. They took over where I usually grow beans and tomatoes. And now, they cover most of my garden. But, you know what? I love the TAKE OVER! Look at this bounty! I can’t even believe it. 

I am telling you this is a sign for ALL OF US...

 Rest. Unwind. Play instead of work. Refuel. Rejuvenate. 

Good things come from taking a break!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

For The Days You Feel Overwhelmingly Ordinary

Do you know what caught my eye the other morning?
The lists of genealogy in the Bible. (Odd. I know.)
I usually skip those sections because I prefer non-boring, but this time the name-after-name drew me in. And I felt something.
Let me explain.
So we love to read stories about the BIG PLAYERS in the Bible - brave people who did BIG THINGS in God’s name. We want to be like these all-stars.
But tucked in and around these big stories are lists. Names. Descendants. Aunts and uncles and cousins. Parents and sons and daughters. Families. Lineage. Heritage.
I know these lists have historical value, but they spoke differently to me.
Who were these people mentioned briefly only by name? What were their jobs? Or hobbies? How many hours did they spend washing clothes, cooking meals, or chasing little ones? Take Moses - a man who found the courage to follow God, oppose a powerful leader, and walk a nation of slaves through a parted sea to freedom. Gargantuan stuff. But I wondered about his lineage. How many people with a lifetime of ordinary played a part in his big story? Did courage run in his family? We know his mom had the strength to put baby Moses in a basket and floated him down the Nile River to save his life. His sister followed the basket and when Moses was found and adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, boldly offered to find a nursemaid. (His own mom.) Did those stories build courage in Moses? Were Moses’ mom and sister brave because of their lineage? Did Moses have a great-great-grandma who prayed incessantly for a strong family? Was his great-grandpa a good man who worked hard, loved his family, and sheltered his home with stability? Was his grandma a kind, loving mother? Did her kids feel strength to be bold because they always knew they could come home to her quiet force, encouragement and comfort food? Did a lineage of everyday strength and consistency lead to a mom bold enough to hide her son, a sister strong enough to speak up, and a man who freed a nation?
Perhaps a secret to seeing God move is to look past the glory moments to the lineage of ordinary people. Generations passing down traits, learning from each other, cultivating positivity and growing from the hard stuff. In this rhythm of genealogy, the everyday feels vital. And intentional. Like God placed each person in their line with great care. He wants certain characteristics and qualities passed from one generation to the next. 
The lists make me feel God’s words: “I am.” (Exodus 3:14)
I am the creator.
I am the orchestrator of life.
I am purposeful.
I am all-knowing.
I specifically placed you right here, right now with your unique characteristics, gifts and talents. It was purposeful, so go. Spread my love. Be my image bearer here on earth. Do ordinary well. Walk today knowing who you are and what you are called to do.
Be faithful in the little things, because…
…you never know what big things I might do in your life...
...or the daily impact I am making through you…
…on the people around you…
...and on the generations who will follow.
Because, I am here everyday - moving and working in the incredibly significant ordinary.