Saturday, January 28, 2012

Project 52 - Imperfection

Maybe I’m getting a little too philosophical about these prompts, but for some reason I’m really taking them to heart. I pondered over this one… What is “perfection”? My answer: Jesus Christ. Everyone and everything else falls on this earth falls short, thus, “imperfection.”

As a mother I spend so much time and effort trying to make my children “perfect” and making everyone else think they are perfect too! I want them to joyfully obey my every request. I want them to succeed in everything that they do. I want them to show the world how wonderful they are. I want them to make wise choices. I want them to show goodness and truth to all they meet. I want their little brains and hearts and minds to be filled with compassion and kindness, generosity and love. This week, they fell short. Of ALL of these. All my efforts, all my strivings, all my plans, squelched. They whined, they blatantly refused to complete my requests, they ran around the grocery store screaming (yes, those were MY kids). Mini imperfect people created from two imperfect parents.

So they screwed up. I screwed up. Praise God for His grace and forgiveness, His welcoming loving arms that take our imperfection and turn it around in His Son. I’m so thankful He makes good from my bad and hopeful that He does the same for my little ones. Truth is, maybe I should spend less time trying to make them perfect and more time pointing them to the only One who is.

On to the photograph: Tobias is my particular challenge. At 3 he is exerting his independence while realizing he is still quite dependant on mommy and daddy resulting in frustration and tears. Here he is: not smiling, dog hair stuck to the stickiness of breakfast on his chin, purple marker on his eye. He is NOT perfect, yet I love Him, Jesus loves Him, and there is the hope and promise of bright days for us. 

Monday, January 23, 2012


So I spent half the week trying to figure out what “inspires” me. Really, when I told my husband this week’s word he rattled off almost 10 things that inspire me. And, he was right. But I kept pondering, “How can I sum it all up? What is the one unifying factor in this list of inspiration?” In the shower (essentially the only truly quiet, alone time in my life), it struck me: connection. Personal, relational, spiritual, emotional… I am inspired when I witness or experience connection: a friend seeing the fruits of her leap of faith into pursuing her passion, photographing a child’s joy at the hug from his momma, my baby girl taking her first step, my husband sharing a breakthrough with a patient, God’s Word jumping off the page (or computer screen) and straight into my heart, music fueling emotion, ideas coming to fruition after endless emails, my 5 year old little girl sounding out a word and then jumping on the bed as she spontaneously puts it into a sentence… Yay, “connection” is my inspiration! Now, how to photograph it…

My brother often teases that he’s going to buy my family a drum set essentially to torture me with extreme noise for the next 15 years of my life. Naturally, the thought does get under my skin. But, you should see Tobias’ eyes light up when he plays the drums. His friend got a drum set for Christmas and ever since he’s played it, every night he prays about that drum set. He’s making a connection, he’s finding a passion, and that inspires me. Here’s his homemade version. His intensity is evident – he’s not just banging, he’s PLAYING the drums. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

one thousand gifts in 2012

So while I've been healing I've had an usual amount of time to think/pray/write/read. In addition to the Photography Project 52, I've been following the "Joy Dare" from One Thousand Gifts and compiling my thankfulness on a Word document (and with a couple photos).

Here goes... January’s Joy Dare:

1. 3 things about yourself you are grateful for
*healing from my surgery. Each day the pain lessens.
*Organized in order to focus my priorities
*equipped by the grace of God even though I don’t feel like it most of the time

2. a gift outside, inside, on a plate
 *hot bath
 *meal I didn’t make

3. 3 lines you overheard that were graces
 *“you are forgiven” (from Lydia to Tobias)
 *“I pray that mommy feels better.” (both of the big kids bedtime prayers)
 *“Liz is doing better“

4. one gift old, new; blue
 *Guinness: his steadfast love and protection. This dog has faithfully napped at my feet while I have been down and out
 *Friendship: Living in Chambersburg, my hometown, it’s easy to develop the friends I’ve had for years (even decades) yet God has brought some new friends into my life recently – a blessing
 *My baby girl’s bright blue eyes. Man, are they striking ☺

5. something you’re reading, you’re making, you’re seeing
 *Being a Mary in a Martha world – a book a friend loaned to me while I’m recovering. I’m such a “Martha” and a goal for the year is to be more Mary-like spiritually and socially
 *Over the Advent season I embraced a program designed for preschoolers that included a Bible reading, lesson, and ornament creation each day. I don’t consider myself a particularly “crafty” individual, however I found joy in witnessing my children grasp the reason for our celebration through a tangible creative outlet. The author of “Truth in the Tinsel” from Impress Your Kids is embarking on a new venture this year with a “Superhero” theme. I’m pumped to join her.
 *Lydia learning about the world: disappointment, reacting to unkind words, persevering through challenges, caring for those in need

6. one thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart
 *lip gloss. Never know when the need will arise and so thankful it’s there when it does
 *cheese. Man, do I love cheese
 *Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior

7. 3 graces from people you love
 *My husband’s servant heart: how he has sacrificially cared for me, our children, and our home while I have been down and out. No complaints, prompt response to my requests (which at times could be unreasonable), big hugs and listening ears
 *I am overwhelmed at the response of my family, friends, and sisters in Christ who have provided meals for our family over the past week. What an abundance of generosity in time and resources and such a tangible gift of love.
 *My mother-in-law dedicated 2 entire days to caring for me and my children. Not only did she love us but demonstrated thoughtfulness and care as she did laundry, changed the sheets on our bed, reorganized my linen closet and bedside tables, and provided opportunity for quality nap and rest time. Really, what a comfort and peace

8. A light that caught you, a reflection that surprised you, a shadow that fell lovely
As Tobias was eating breakfast, the reflections ("catch lights") in his eyes struck me

9. A gift in your hand, a gift you walked by, a gift you sat with
 *School bags. 1st day all three kiddos were in “school” at the same time
 * The big rock in my parents’ front yard = fond memories of riding, climbing, jumping off it, posing by it, parking beside it
 *Tobias – with his baby sister asleep for the night and his big sister at a sleepover, Mark and I got to sit, just the 3 of us on the sofa “watching” Curious George

10. a gift that’s sour, a gift that’s sweet, a gift that’s Just. Right
 *lemon – what a flavorful addition to my plain ice water or iced tea.
 *Christmas cookies – yes, I’m still enjoying the gift of Christmas cookies. Mmmmmm…
 * Yogurt – just the right amount of sweet and sour combined in creamy goodness

11. 3 yellow things that strike you as fresh mercy
*I came downstairs from putting Miriam for a nap to Tobias covered in paint. My flesh wanted to get angry with him, but the Lord stopped me as if to say, "Is this really something to get upset about? Love him and his crazy creativity and move on."
*My mother babysat for me last week and brought these books to entertain the girls. How refreshing was her thoughtfulness, sacrifice of time (and her precious personal days of which she only gets 5 per year!), and warm memories of these when I read them as a child
*the little yellow flowers that are the first to bloom marking springtime’s arrival

12. something above you, something below you, something beside you

 *Ceiling. Really. I am so thankful for a roof over my head
 *sidewalk. For the first time in 2 weeks I took a walk outside without pain.
 *Lydia. Just hugged my arm and declared, “I want to snuggle.” Oh man, doesn’t get sweeter than that!

13. 3 sounds you hear
 *Tobias tinkering on the piano
 *Miriam’s giggle
 *The door open and the assurance that it is my faithful husband returning from work

14. 3 ways you glimpsed the startling grace of God.
 *New faces
 *Renewed enthusiasm for where God has placed us in our church

15. one thing you wore, one thing you gave away, one thing you shared
 *Sneakers. Today I exercised for the first time since my surgery.
 *Mark’s road bike. Ok, I didn’t give it away, but he did. I struggled with, “why don’t you sell it? Since I’m not working we could use some extra cash.” but was convicted and am so thankful he gave it to a dear friend.
 *Inspiration. I shared a story (and then links to resources) about how God is working through His Word in the hearts of my kids.

16. 3 ways you witnessed happiness today
 *Tobias mixing all of his paints together, applying a crazy amount of mixed paint on his hand, and splashing it down on the paper, over and over again.
 *I was just picking up random books off of the floor in the big kids room with Miri in my arms. All of the “up and down” must have amused her, she looked at me right in the eyes and behind her pacifier gave me the biggest grin
 *Lydia eating dirty ice she found in the backyard
17. one gift that made you laugh, one gift that made you pray, one gift that made you quiet

*Almost every night Tobias gets out of bed (after he’s been put to bed). He has used very excuse in the book and then some. Tonights’ was amazingly creative. “Mommy, I heard a ‘baaa’ in my woom. No, it wasn’t a stuffed animal. It was a weal baaa. There is a weal sheep in my woom.” Man, he makes me laugh.
*  a friend shared an answer to prayer of some healing she witnessed – inspired me to thank the Lord for His goodness
*    answering email. I sit, and write, and search, and order, all in the silence of my slumbering household (while my dear hubby is at his grad class)
2      18.  3 gifts from God’s Word
*   “So then, everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man. He builds his house on the rock. The rain comes down. The water rises. The winds blow and beat against that house. But it does not fall. It is built on the rock. Matt. 7:24-27
*    “Don’t just listen to the word. You fool yourselves if you do that. You must do what it says." James 1:22
“Clap your hands all you nations shout to God with cries of joy." Psalm 47:1 (all from my kids' Bible lessons this week)
3     19.    a grace in the kitchen, a grace in the weather, a grace that might have never been
*    hot chocolate. Seriously. I used to have it every day and with my hubby’s recent “health kick” had eliminated it from my daily routine. Today, I indulged. WOW, was it yummy.
*    snow! (ok, so it came on the 21st but I’m a little behind) so refreshing. Always reminds me of new life, a new start. Just so happened that it snowed on 2 of my kids' baptism days. Never will forget that symbolism.
*   Lydia’s hugs: by the grace of God, when we had given up hope, He brought Lydia to us…
4       20.    3 gifts you saw only when you got close-up
*                              *Miri’s lip wrinkles: aren't they the sweetest??!?

* Lydia’s eye patterns: I have these same type of geometric shapes in my eyes
* Miri’s nails in desperate need of cutting, then sat in wonder at her tiny little hands and all they do and will do…
5         21.    one thing in the sky, one thing from your memory, one thing that’s ugly-beautiful
                                *. a helicopter with 2 propelers (corrected by my husband: rotors) – Tobias witnessed this in the sky coming out of playtime at the Roller Rink and has spoken of it 2 other times since. This “cool” event etched in his little memory
* Mark and I shredded all of the saved documents from since we were married – 2005 (pre children). It’s amazing how recipets, pay check stubs, and health insurance statements bring back floods of memories of apartment living in Maryland, first jobs, and fighting infertility. All point to God’s faithfulness and His amazing plan of creating those lives into the lives we have today. So different, yet He is the same.
6     22.    one grace wrinkled, one grace smoothed, one grace unfolded
* smile lines around the eyes of a beautiful woman at church, a heart of gold
* sheets on my bed. Having the bed made is so comforting to me
* lydia’s blankets – she has about 10 of them in her bed, 2 are her “loveys” but others are baby blankets. They are all unfolded and remind me of the days when she was our baby, our only baby girl…
7        23.   3 gifts found in Christ
* grace
* peace
* hope
8      24.   3 things blue
* Beside me on the desk is a blue piece of paper on which Tobias and I created a snowman today at art class. As the “middle child” I rarely do things with just him and I cherish the times when I have the opportunity to give my attention and heart to him. This is one of them.
* Polish pottery – every hand-painted piece is different but the unifying factor is this deep blue color. I happen to be a bit obsessed with collecting it but I adore it’s practicality. We use it to eat on every day. Not everyone dines on art J
* My eyes – I’m thankful for the way they see the world through the grace of God

25. one grace borrowed, one grace found, one grace inherited
*Clothing – every child in my family has at least one benefactor whose mother generously passes too-small clothing our way. What an incredible blessing not to have to purchase growing kiddos’ wardrobes!
* Tobias’ blue Corvette. Not lost for long, but eases daddy’s mind that it’s found. Matchbox cars are too easy to lose. Particularly in the hands of an absent-minded 3 year old
*Musicality – what a grace my father gave me – the gift to sing, to play, to dance, to appreciate
2    26. a gift before nine am, gift before noon, a gift after dark
falling back asleep after a 5:30am baby duty
spontaneously acting out I’m going on a bear hunt with Tobias while Miri watched with wonder and amusement.
Quiet time at my computer to edit photos and do some quality online shopping
2     27. 3 gifts that might have never been
* my marriage. So interesting how God’s paths, although not what we anticipate are for our good. Both Mark and I were ready to go to different colleges, but the Lord led us to Towson and allowed us both into the OT program against all odds where we eventually fell in love J
*Lydia Elise – When I called for a refill on my fertility medicine I had an “on call” doctor who prescribed 2 more rounds of the medicine (although I was only technically supposed to get one). On the last round, my “last chance,” along came the gift of Lydia
 Freedom from an eating disorder – I was prayed through medical management, dietician, counciling. The Lord softened my heart and opened my eyes to the beautiful gift of life: abundant, free, victorious life.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


This week's prompt word for the Project 52 is "life". My vision was to get all 3 kids (and their dad if possible) just "doing life". Unfortunately during the days when the light was favorable (man, it was cloudy this week!) either one of the kids was at school or napping. Finally, I gave up and figured, "I'll just have to work with what I got." which was these images:

Then, as the week was coming to a close, the kids were playing with a leftover Christmas gift box, making it into a slide. While her big brother and sister started making treasures out of the packing material, Miriam decided to get in on the action giggling at her failed attempts to crawl up the "slide". Finally, she sat still. I love her expression, like "Mom, thank you for your undivided attention amidst this chaos." This is real life: 1/2 dressed, stuff everywhere, creativity flying, and this sweet little dumpling right in the middle, while mommy's attempting to capture beauty and joy in the moment (and at the same time maintaining sanity - harder than it looks! ;)

Although nuts at times, I embrace the LIFE, the blessing from the Lord and believe He has placed me just at this time and this place to serve Him and love these gifts as He has called. I also believe He equips me and am overwhelmed at His grace for my failures. Praise Jesus for His abounding mercy and His amazing plan for life, abundant life, eternal life...

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Project: 52

It has been so long since I logged into blogger that I had to reset my password. Yes, it has been THAT LONG!

A New Year brings new opportunities and I just had to jump at this one: a "Project 52": a photo per week all year long. I knew it would be a rough start as I had surgery on Dec. 30th. Recovering from surgery and taking quality photos don't usually come hand-in-hand. I had a vision, so Mark helped me to roll with it. It didn't come up with exactly what I was hoping, but sometimes you just gotta go with what you got (particularly when you are in pain and not quite at the pinnacle of mobility and energy).

The first week's prompt word is "resolution". Mark and I are more "goal" than "resolution" type people. "Resolution" sounds so, well, resolute. "Goal" to me is something to work toward, something to strive for and for me, that's motivation, that's inspiration. That said, a new year's goal is to focus more on these little lives and less on all that my iPhone represents: social media, email, texts, scheduling... My goal is to spend quality moments with my little ones each day embracing their world while putting aside the ever-beconing call of the digital world.

The "Project 52" is with My Four Hens Photography
and can be seen on Flickr at here