December 31, 2013

my prayer for the new year {& every day}

Soli Deo Gloria 

December 30, 2013

Christmas on the family farm {photography}

A fellowship of grace and laughter. 
 Fellowship is a place of grace, where mistakes aren't rubbed in but rubbed out.
Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice. ~Rick Warren

Hard work combined with lots of prayer.
Farming is a profession of hope. ~Brian Brett


December 21, 2013

the wonder of His love

It was the look in my son's eyes that finally made me pause.

My hurried, worried day seemed unaware that it was dwelling in a season of joy. But then that look...

After a day full of frustrations and heartache, I just wanted to mourn. But a simple glance at my son's face - so full of awe - staring into the "starlit" tree, hushed me.

He gazed in wonder, never speaking a word. His eyes reflected what my heart yearned for... joy.

I breathed my quiet warrior cry, I will REJOICE!

Running my fingers over the simple, wooden manger scene, I felt my body ease and fill with wonder. Oh what an expression of love! Jesus - the God-made-flesh sent to earth. Jesus - the Word dwelling with us to fill our hurried, worried lives with truth, hope, peace, joy and eternal love.

Oh weary one, REJOICE! 

November 28, 2013

uncommon gratitude

The many colors of blessings...

Early this morning, as the sun was peeking through the trees and hitting the frost on the fallen leaves in a way that caused them to sparkle, I pulled out a piece of paper. It seemed a fitting time to write a gratitude list. It is Thanksgiving after all.

As I wrapped my sweater tightly around me and sipped my coffee, I began to ponder, slowly moving my pen across the paper:

- Warm house
- Family visiting
- The comforting aroma of the gluten-free stuffing, a new recipe that turned out wonderfully

But just as I was getting ramped up, God pushed through with a questioned that stirred me deeply.
What about your difficulties? Are you thankful for them?

What??? Ummm....

I looked over my growing list of blessings and was hit hard by the realization that it was lacking. Something was missing. I was missing the perspective that God uses ALL things for His glory. To give thanks to God in ALL circumstances. To see God visible through the pain. To recognize that hardships can be blessings - they fill me with a heavenly, eternal hope and perceptive.

So I began to add more to my list:  

- The lingering pain in my finger from a deep cut - reminds me I still have the finger 
- The photo shoot I messed up horribly - keeps me humble, I have much to learn, so thankful for my photography mentor 
- My bouts of depression - forces me to lean heavy on Christ, only He can fill those dark places 
- The struggles related with raising a son with special needs - pushes me into community, I cannot do it on my own, I am not alone

My eyes filled with tears as my pen now moved rapidly across the paper. Indeed, I have so much to be thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving!


November 21, 2013

beauty & joy {recap of the last three months}

There are still a couple boxes that need unpacking. With young boys underfoot and to-lists that do not end simply because I need time to go through boxes, it has taken longer than I expected.  But that is OK. Or at least I have learned to be OK.

Three months later, after our third move in five months, we are settled into our new home. Home. It felt that way after mere days in our new house.

Though it has not been an easy transition. It has taken its toll on the whole family, especially Grant. There is no pause button for Fragile X Syndrome. But I can say with confidence, it has been worth it.

It helps to focus on what is good, beautiful, of God. To seek God. To recognize the God-filled moments that make-up my days. Why dwell in the chaos when I can find rest, peace and contentment in the moments of joy?

So I push away the box of stuff and play with my boys, try a new recipe, gaze out the kitchen window, fold laundry with the windows open, take a long walk, and date my husband.

Yes, I take the time to taste.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints,
for those who fear Him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing."
Psalm 34:8-10

Here are a few morsels from our table...


The road to home.

Our home. Our Cottage in the Woods, as we like to call it. Small. Comfortable. Home.

The house sits on 1.5 acres of land. A perfect amount of yard for gardening, chickens for eggs, and playing. And a perfect amount of woods for protection, peace, beauty, and more playing.

When we first moved in we were surrounded by butterflies. We were living in a butterfly garden.

August 20, 2013

Why details matter

I gave a friend a note written on the back of one of my photographs. She looked at the picture and exclaimed, "Wow! What a pretty flower! What kind is it?"

I responded that I didn't know. It was a picture of flowering weed at the edge of my property. 

I enjoy using my camera to capture the details God has put into creation. It isn't unusual for me to get caught up in amazement over the intricacies found in nature.

While inspecting the photo, my friend shook her head and murmured, "I wish I had weeds that looked like that."

I simply smiled. But in my head I thought, They are everywhere. You just have to look closely

I often think that's how blessings are... They are everywhere. They surround us. But to notice them, sometimes we have to stop and look very closely. When we open our eyes and look past the distractions and frustrations in life, we notice the little blossoms of blessings. 

And let me tell you, when you start to notice one blessing, you will begin to notice dozens of them. And when the details of each blessing emerge, joy and peace will overflow.

But the act of recognizing our blessings begins with a choice. Choosing to be grateful. In all circumstances.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Yeah, I know. Easier said than done. But it can be done - with God's help.

Two and a half years ago, after my oldest son's diagnosis, I made a decision to praise God through my tears of grief. I chose to trust God's sovereignty. I chose to be thankful for everything God has done for me.

In return, God lifted my head out of my sorrow and revealed His promises and blessings. And my heart was filled with joy and peace and hope.

With practice, being grateful in all circumstance does become a little easier, but it still requires constant leaning on God for help. Also, I surround myself with people who share this belief and lovingly remind me when necessary. :)

Next time life's difficulties threaten to pull you down, please try this: pause to write down all your blessings. A list of everything you are thankful for - big and small. Describe each one. Linger over the list. Spend time in prayer, praising and thanking God for everything on the list.

It is in the details where your greatest thanksgiving will bloom.

Related posts:


July 3, 2013

lately. {the low-down on our life}

What a month!

Scratch that... What a spring and summer!

The past few months have been a time of anticipation mixed in with heavy doses of anxiety, change, excitement and blessings.

At the end of February Aaron and I decided this is the year we are going to put our house up for sale! [*Gulp!!!*] We spent the month of March fixing a few small things around the house, painting, replacing some flooring, packing up most of our belongings and staging the house. By the first week of April the house was on the market and eight days later we had an offer. [*Whew!*]

The weekend before we put the house on the market we moved in with Aaron's very thoughtful and loving parents :) With Grant's anxiety issues and his need for a calm, structured environment, we thought it best to move out of our house while it was showing. Moving out also allowed the house to be available for showings any time of day.

After our old house sold we moved into a two-bedroom rental home, living there until we close on our next house. Lord willing, we will be in our new home in the beginning of August.

So, if you've kept count, when it is all said and done we will have moved three times in five months! Craziness!

Have you ever driven through a really bad rainstorm or snowstorm? You know, the kind of storm where you can barely see enough to stay on the road? Palms sweaty as you tightly grip the steering wheel and lungs burning as you hold your breath and pray that you'll stay on the road and make it home safely... Well, that's how the past couple months have felt. Moving is tough - but moving with a child with special needs is REALLY, REALLY tough. I cannot even begin to explain. BUT, God is so good and He has reminded me of His faithfulness numerous times through it all.

And there is always beauty and joy to see and experience... if you take the time to look.

Here are a few beautiful and joyful moments my family has had over the past few months:



"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever." ~Psalm 136:1


May 23, 2013

where to find {everlasting} comfort

The Lord comforts. He has made my desert of sadness, fear and despair like a garden blossoming with His presence. He has not changed my path, but instead He has filled it with His peace and joy. May my voice always praise Him.

"For the Lord comforts Zion;
He comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song

Isaiah 51:3


May 4, 2013

seek continually {photo verse}

"Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually."
Psalm 105:4

A good read (click on the title to read in full): What does it mean to seek the Lord? by John Piper

His face—the brightness of his personal character—is hidden behind the curtain of our carnal desires. This condition is always ready to overtake us. That is why we are told to “seek his presence continually.” God calls us to enjoy continual consciousness of his supreme greatness and beauty and worth.

This happens through “seeking.” Continual seeking. But what does that mean practically? Both the Old and New Testaments say it is a “setting of the mind and heart” on God. It is the conscious fixing or focusing of our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God...

...This setting of the mind is the opposite of mental coasting. It is a conscious choice to direct the heart toward God. This is what Paul prays for the church: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). It is a conscious effort on our part. But that effort to seek God is a gift from God.


May 1, 2013

he is like a tree...

 photo Heislikeatree-Jeremiahch17vrs7and8-1.jpg

Lord, please help me - no matter what the season may hold - to stay firmly rooted in You.

Whether it be a time of plenty or a time of drought, I place my trust in You.

You are my hope.


April 29, 2013

{beauty & joy} lately

Change is in the air. With just a glimpse outside I am reminded of nature's marvelous annual celebration of "newness". But as I turn inward, I cringe. Other than the stunning Spring wonders taking place, I am not a fan of change. Never have been.

Change pushes me far beyond my comfort limits and reveals my true character; my heart, my inner-thoughts, my impatience, my faith (or lack thereof) and my pride. Unfortunately, it isn't pretty. I am reminded I cannot do life on my own. I need my Savior.

The past couple of months have been hurried and brimming with change. I'm weary and a little scared. Where will this change lead me and my family?

Yet, with all the uncertainty that surrounds me, I sense the absolute, never-tiring, never-failing presence of God.

"By day the Lord commands His steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:8

And so, after many deep breaths of prayer, my heart is calmed and, through God, I find the strength to say, Lead me, Lord. I will follow.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I love that, after forcing myself to stop focusing on my difficulties, I can always find many things to be thankful for... Yes, blessings surround me.

Sweet, sweet solitude - a time to ponder the leaves

Grandpa pushing Wesley on the swing... "Higher, Grandpa! Higher!"

The boys clamoring up the ladder so they can race down the slides - over and over again.

What joyous laughter!

Shhh... I need to take this call.

No caption needed. :)

"He gives strength to the weary..." Isaiah 50:29

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