Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I had a really cruel dream last night.

I dreamed Dad was alive. Like, the whole death thing had just been a big mistake. He'd been rescued by a funeral home worker and had spent the last year getting better before he could come home. And there he was, sitting in my sister's kitchen like nothing had ever happened. I could hug him and talk to him and watch him with my mom and everything was just perfect. The details were so vivid. I can't even fully describe the feeling of it. It was as if every wish humanity could ever wish was fulfilled in that moment.

There was one tiny negative thought in my mind during the dream though. It occurred to me, that even though he was back now, there would come another day when he would leave us again. And the grief would renew.

Even in my magical dreams I'm quite the realist.

I was sad to wake up from the dream and come crashing back to reality, where this Thursday marks one year since he really did leave us. I've been thinking lately how naive I was before we lost him. I thought that grief had an expiration date, that time healed all wounds, that being strong meant eventually you put the loss behind you. Now I know that, though time does lessen the pain, true loss stays with you. It's always in the back of your mind. It changes you in good and bad ways. It makes you long for Heaven.

It dawned on me this morning that I don't have to be depressed about those perfect dream moments slipping away when I opened my eyes. Because one day, those feelings of superb fulfillment and perfect healing will occur when I open my eyes in Heaven. For now, I have that hope to hold on to--to know that what I dream will one day be reality, that there is a definite resolution to my grief. All because of Jesus!

To grieve with Jesus is to know there will be an end to all grief. And knowing that is enough.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Favorite Photos of 2014

At the beginning of 2014, I told Seth that I wanted to spend the year really studying photography. I had exhausted all I could do on my own, and I had developed a desire to learn. Not just technical things for taking better photos, but the works of other photographers as well. If there's one thing I find myself really enjoying, it's studying something I'm passionate about. So, I did just that (and I'm still at it). I read hundreds of books and blogs, started my own notebook of things I wanted to remember, perused thousands of photos on flickr, pinterest, and my dad's overflowing stash. I even watched hours of tutorials on youtube.

My goal was to see a difference in my photography from last year to this, to perhaps see if this is something I want to pursue as profitable hobby instead of just a enjoyable one. I've learned a few things about the whole process and myself as a photographer. Not only can I see a difference in my photos, but I feel so much more confident and satisfied with photography, and that is probably more important to me than the actual photos themselves. I feel like I generally know what I'm doing now, whereas before, half the time I was going on a gut feeling and a prayer.

I have learned that I am most pleased by photojournalism style photos, especially in black and white. These are also probably the most challenging for me to shoot, but I enjoy pursuing the photos in my head. I've learned that part of being a good photographer is poring over other people's photos and finding inspiration and learning from them. I've learned that Dorothea Lange is my favorite photographer, not only because of her moving images from Depression-era America, but because she was also a deep thinker and wrote beautifully about the art of capturing photos. I have learned that photography is a better way for me to express myself than writing (alas, poor blogs!). When dad died, I couldn't form words about it, but I could shoot what was in my heart. I've also learned how to do fun things like long exposure shots and different flash techniques and reading the histogram and editing in photoshop (even though I still don't have photoshop).

I'm excited about 2015 in this area. I'm going to start saving for a full frame camera. We're planning to update my poor, literally hanging on by a thread laptop to a better computer for editing. Once that's done, I'll start working with Photoshop (still intimidated by that one.) I have a new external flash to learn. I've got a list of potential projects and photo essays I'd like to work on. And still on the horizon is the possibility of getting into stock photography. We shall see!

And I'll still be checking out a constant stream of photography books from the library.

Here are some of my favorite shots from this year.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ten Things

So, what's been going on around here in my writing absence?

1. It has gotten colder, which for me, is good news. I tend to be better at housekeeping in the colder months. Well, technically, I'm the best in fall and spring, when it's cool enough to be busy and sunny enough to motivate me. When it gets super cold, I tend to want to hibernate under a blanket, but I'm at least better than I am in the summer, when heat sucks the life out of me. I hate being hot.

2. In sad news, we had to say goodbye to our dog, George, a few weeks ago. His health had been declining with age, but then suddenly over the course of a month or so, he got really bad, really fast. We knew it was time, and even though we'd been preparing ourselves for awhile, it was so hard to actually go through with it. Our regular vet was forced into sudden retirement because of his health, so we had to go to strangers. That made things a lot harder. We have never treated George like our baby, but over the course of twelve years with an animal, you get attached. He was a good dog too. He'd follow me everywhere. I felt bad as he got older and I'd being doing chores and he had to try to keep up with me as I buzzed around the house. He was gentle and great with the kids even when his legs got painful from arthritis and they'd accidentally step on him. I can remember when I was a kid, I wanted our dog to worship me like he worshiped my mom. Well, George did that. He was truly my dog. I miss him the most on the nights Seth is at work. The house feels empty all of a sudden.

3. In really, really GOOD news, Seth and I are officially credit card debt FREE. We paid off the last of it in October. I had always planned to make a big deal of it when we finally got to the finish line, but with George and everything, it sort of passed quietly without much fanfare. But we definitely noticed and we are so so so so thankful that God has brought us this far in our financial journey. We still have a mortgage and two cars to pay for, but getting out of all that unsecured debt feels CRAZY good and a little surreal. I'm actually looking forward to doing the bills in 2015. I'm getting excited that we'll be able to give consistently and more. We're looking forward to blessing others just as we have been blessed. It seems unreal that it's actually going to be possible!

4. I have been neglecting my house blog, but not my house. Small, but necessary things are happening around here, I just keep forgetting to blog about them! I'm hoping to be more consistent with that in the coming year. I work slowly, but rest assured, I am working. We're planning to do a master bedroom overhaul soon. The master is always the room that seems to get the least attention. But in an effort to continue with the "make every inch work for us" theme of our little house, the master needs to start pulling its weight. And it also needs to be awesome looking so I keep it clean.

5. The silver lining to not having a dog: being able to throw kids outside without cleaning up poop first.

6. I have become a coffee drinker. So, at thirty two, I'm finally a grown up. And I'm getting Seth converted too.

7. I've been reading up on flash and studio photography, two areas that before I wasn't really interested in. But I like doing the opposite of what everyone else does, and natural light photography is the big thing right now. Dipping my toes into the flash pool is going to be an interesting challenge. I'm also starting to think about graphic design and things like that. My sister wants me to help her shoot and create covers for her books, so it's time for me to jump into the Photoshop world. I'm really intimidated by Photoshop and also Macs (which we're thinking about getting). I just don't understand the lingo. Any book or tutorial recommendations or helpful tips are most welcome.

8. I'm dying to decorate for Christmas. Homegirl asks me every day if it's time for Christmas yet. She's so excited, which is interesting because she's only had two Christmases and I'm surprised she can remember what it is. But I know if I decorate now, I'll be sick of it by December 10th. So, I'm staying in the "planning stages" awhile longer and pinning all the things. And I admit to listening to Christmas carols on two separate occasions while I did dishes. SHAME!

9. There's also a part of me (an annoying, confusing part) that is NOT looking forward to holidays this year. I've never had a Christmas without my dad. But it feels wrong to dread it because he liked Christmas and traditions so much. I know I get my early Christmas itch from him. It still seems unreal that he's not here. I don't know when you finally adjust to loss. Maybe it never seems *quite* right again. But that's okay. It just proves how much we love when the losses stay with us throughout the rest of our lives. I'm not saying I'm depressed or deciding to sit and wallow in misery. I'm just saying life on this earth is never going to be the same, and that's the nature of death. So thankful that death is not the end of the story!

10. While doing a Bible Study at church (Beth Moore's Children of the Day study on 1 & 2 Thessalonians) I've been doing a lot of extra curricular thinking/studying on things I have never really thought about before. It's been really, really cool. I love when God does that. I love having new concepts fall in my lap like that. I love that studying Scripture never gets old or tired. God keeps working to reveal truth in a new way or undo some wrong thinking. It's the best. I heart learning. I've also discovered my spiritual gift is teaching along with knowledge (studying). I wasn't surprised, and I'm finally to the place where I'm excited about it. Throughout most of my life, my goal has been to avoid teaching, but it keeps coming back to me in different ways. I just can't help myself. And I'm ready to embrace it. It's still slightly scary, but not nearly as intimidating as it once was. If you're not sure what your spiritual gift is, I highly recommend doing some research into them and seeing what you come up with. Beth Moore made this comment on gifts and our unique ministries: "You won't be satisfied until you are living it out because God wired you with a compulsion to do it." That's why, as hard as I tried to run the other way, I frequently found myself in teaching situations. God wired me for this ministry. It's time to start doing something about it.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Word Wandering

I don't usually write much anymore unless I have something specific to say--something I'm going through or irritated with or learning. It's not like my life is absent of those things right now, quite the opposite in fact. This year has been full of things that fall into those categories--so full it's just overflowing. Maybe that's the problem. There's too much to write about, so it becomes overwhelming and I decide to process it some other way, usually by music or photography.

Some people process and thrive through doing and being busy. To be honest, I'm a little jealous of them. I mean, how nice would it be if your stress meant you had a spotless house? I'm kind of the opposite. When things get heavy, I slow down or stop completely. I ponder. I withdraw. I don't exactly wallow because I'm not depressed or hopeless. I just literally have to think quietly about stuff to make the trials useful. And let's face it, there's not a lot of time to withdraw when you're homeschooling three kids, so when I do get a chance to ponder, I don't have time to express it in writing.

And then there's the guilt. I have made intentional decisions in my life, like staying home with the kids and homeschooling. These choices aren't without consequences though. I have no doubts that they are absolutely what I am supposed to be doing right now and I do not regret my choices. But they definitely aren't easy, especially when you're a stressed out introvert. There is no such thing as personal space or down time. My three year old makes sure of that. I've noticed that lately I'm snippy, my patience is extremely thin, I roll my eyes entirely too much, I yell. And I feel so guilty (rightfully so) that I'm doing a miserable job at momming these days.

To quote Tommy Boy, "Good job, you've pinpointed it. Step two is washing it off."

I'm busy. I'm overwhelmed. I'm tired. I'm falling behind on my responsibilities. But none of that gives me an excuse to sin against my children. God's not buying the whole stressed out introvert excuse.

Time to snap out of the funk. Time to start making intentional decisions to speak truth and not give in to my frustration or lack of sleep or my fried out brain. The house can be a wreck and it doesn't equal moral failure. But the years with my kids are far more precious and fleeting. There's no room for giving up.

Well, look at that. Turns out that I did have a point to make, I just didn't realize it when I started writing. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 28, 29, 30

So, apparently it's driving my mother crazy that I haven't posted my last three photos. There has been nagging, so at least I know I come by it honestly. Here ya go, mom. You can calm down now.

Day Twenty Eight: Celebration

Seth had to work on his birthday, so we made a cake and took it to his station. If you ever visit a fire station, bring food. It's the language of their people.

Day Twenty Nine: Backlit

For part of our anniversary date, Seth and I revisited one of my favorite haunts, Greenlawn Cemetery (see what I did there?).

Day Thirty: Hidden Face

This one's especially for you, mom. Your beautiful morning glories smiling at you.

While this project got a little hard to keep up with, I still really enjoyed the challenge and I shot more photos in September than I probably ever have in a month. It also gave me lots of ideas for other photo projects I can pursue. So, I'm sure there's more to come. But just so you don't get too antsy, mother, I have no idea when.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Day 23, 24, 25, 26, 27

Day Twenty Three: Indoor Still Life

 Day Twenty Four: Words

Day Twenty Five: Close Up

Day Twenty Six: Art

Day Twenty Seven: Books