Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Project 366 -- Snow Frog

Day 52

When I went out snapping photos last week, this guy brought a smile to my face.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Project 366 -- Snow Wonder

Days 49-51

"Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love your salvation say continually,
The Lord be magnified!"                   Psalm 40:16

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Right Footprint

Just like a deep footprint in fresh snow, the Lord wants me to mediate on His word until it leaves an indelible mark on who I am. He wants His word to be so deep within me that it impacts how I face challenges. "Impress" as its used in the verse above is one strong verb!

Have I been giving God's word its rightful due? For me, the kind of day-and-night meditation God commands (Joshua 1:8,9; Psalm 1:1-3) requires memorizing. Am I working at this with an effort, energy and enthusiasm worthy of my Lord and King? Am I going heart deep? Soul deep? No.

I'm oh-so grateful that He is a forgiving God of second chances.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Project 366 -- My God Has Answered

Day 48

When my husband and I were moved to adopt yet again in late 2009, our hearts were captured by the story of the boy who would become our son, Alexander. We saw his tale at The Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project Blog. As we began the adoption process, we also felt tugged to add one more little girl to our family (we already had seven daughters--our family blog can be found at Unto Him We Live).

When we told the program's coordinator, Becky, that in addition to Alexander we also had our hearts set on a little girl, she told us not to get out hopes up. There'd been changes to the Russian foster system since we'd adopted our three daughters, Tatiana, Natasha and Amy, in 2005. More Russians were taking children into their homes to foster, and Becky told us that little girls were chosen first by foster parents.

We told Becky we understood what she was saying, but that we felt certain the Lord had one more little girl for us and we were going to pray with an audacious spirit that He would bring her into our lives. Although the story is too long to share here in a Project 366 photo post, our great God did a mighty work through tangled circumstances to give us that precious daughter (we also adopted a 15-year-old girl--that too is a future post). Oksana was five when we first met her and is growing up way too fast. She is a precious gift from the Lord, and part of the name we gave her even means "My God Has Answered."

To this adoptive mother, my little girl's eyelashes are beautiful. I've watched them thicken and lengthen with the improvement in her nutrition since her adoption. Today I captured those lashes illumined by "snow light" as the white precipitation fell heavily outside.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Project 366 -- Back to Georgia

Day 47

Didn't get the camera out today so I'm going to share some photos I took of the interior of the hotel in which I stayed when attending "Created for Care," a conference for adoptive moms.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project 366 -- Rare Opportunity

Day 46

Today I had the opportunity to photograph a normally elusive subject--my husband. Like many adults, he doesn't enjoy having the camera turned on him. However, today I caught him with my request at the happiest time of his day--just after he returns from work. Each evening 10 children surround him as he walks in the door. Each evening 10 hugs await him as soon as he sets down his computer. Each evening 10 inquiries greet his ear asking how his day went. Each evening I impatiently wait my turn to wrap my arms around my best friend of 28 years. It's the happiest time of MY day also.

Tonight we went upstairs to cuddle for a few minutes on the small sofa in our room. (Its hard for the parents of 12 to get much time alone!) The lighting in the early evening was just what photography books recommend for getting a portrait-type photo. Jim surprised me with a "Yes," when I asked him. I struggled getting the picture I wanted of the man who means everything to me--too much light, wrong angle, too little light, backdrop that was too pale. Through my photographic struggles, my man laughed and let me carry on until finally the 42nd exposure met my expectations.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Project 366 -- Blah

Day 46

Today has been blah--heavy, overcast skies...rain melting the bit of snow cover we did have...wind. Just grey, grey, grey.

What did I learn  about photography on Day 46 of this year-long project? It's hard to make blah interesting!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Project 366 -- Days 43-45

Day 43

I continue to be fascinated with this perfume bottle. I just love the way the facets catch the late afternoon light. Even with this second attempt, I'm still not sure I've done the bottle's beauty justice.

Day 44

Lissie helped Oksana make her first batch of cookies, which we happily devoured at lunch yesterday. I missed getting photos of the baking. I did however caught my little one and her sister serving the warm goodies straight from the oven.

Day 45

Our family tradition for more than a decade is to prepare a brunch on Saturday that we then enjoy together before we go to church on Sunday. The photography is poor since the picture is back lit, but I'm including it anyway since it speaks to an important event in our family each week.

Our bruch always includes a sweet, and this week we were treated to carmel roles crafted by Natasha (11). They were SCRUMPTIOUS!

After breakfast I spent some time reading my Bible. Sunshine enjoyed the opportunity to both see and smell the world through the cracked window near where I was sitting.

Sunshine then had the audacity to jump on my bed and settle in for a mid-morning nap. Her eyes spoke of guilt over being where she's not allowed, but she didn't budge.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Project 366 -- "Scramble"

Day 42

Amy (9) finished her school work especially efficiently this morning so I offered her the chance to play Scrabble with me. It was Amy's first time to play the game, but she gave it her best.

After 14 years of home schooling, I was excited to stumble upon a wonderful learning tool. Playing Scrabble caused Amy to work on spelling, vocabulary, dictionary use, and math, as she kept our scores, all while having fun and strengthening our relationship. I thanked Lord for the gift of wisdom that led me to this brainstorm.

Later in the day, Amy pulled out an "antique" version of the game which I brought into our marriage. She happily proclaimed, "Look, Mom, I'm playing Scramble!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Project 366 -- Contrast

Day 41

Both of the photos above are of purple cone flowers. As intriguing as the winter version is, aren't we grateful to God for the beauty of summer's blooms?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Project 366 -- The Forgotten Decoration

Day 40

Its inevitable. Every year--no matter how hard we try--we miss putting away one Christmas decoration as we store the rest.

A couple of days ago, I glanced at our front door as I was bringing in one of the dogs and found this year's "spy": our artificial wreath. Now, mind you, I've been in and out of that door dozens of times since January 1. But on this day I noticed, laughed and then photographed.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Project 366 -- My Little Beauty

Day 38

O how I love this little girl, the ninth of our older Russian adoptees.

Every day is a struggle for Oksana (7) because language has not come easily for her. When her adoption took place 14 months ago, the other two children we adopted at the same time, Daria (15) and Alexander (11) told us in their VERY broken English that what she was speaking was "not Russian."

Oksana's records show that her mother was mentally ill, and it may be that as a baby she never had the opportunity to interact with an adult in a way that would build the language skills every person needs. She was transferred to an orphanage at age one, and in that environment, despite the love the kids received, there would have been too many needs in the many small orphans to meet Oksana's language challenge.

Despite how hard it still is for her to communicate ideas to her family, you'd never know it from her personality. She's a happy, cheerful child, who is helpful and goes out of her way to tell us often how much she loves us. She'll say, "I love you too much!" with a big grin on her face and arms open for a hug. If we respond with, "I love you more!" She breaks into giggles. We praise God that she seems to understand nearly everything we say to her. She blesses us in so many ways, including her love of singing. Her favorite artist is Chris Tomlin. She especially loves to sing his choruses as we listen on the radio, although, of course, the words are uniquely hers. She's still clearly praising God. We praise God for giving her to our family! By His grace she is progressing each day. We remain faithful that our Great God WILL heal her.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Project 366 -- A Sweet Aroma

Day 37

When I began to think about what to photograph today for Project 366, I was struck by the play of the late afternoon light on my perfume bottles. After taking photo #1 of the bottles by themselves, I decided to add another object that sits on my counter, a frame and photo--my Christmas gift from Anna. As I finished up my "shoot", I took away all but the beautiful, multi-sided bottle. I liked how the purple in both the frame and the bottle complimented each other. I also was pleased with the reflection in the counter top.

As I took this collection of photos, I realized that these objects placed together really speak to a legacy that belongs to my mom. As I was growing up, she was conscientious to make sure she looked her best when my dad came home from work. In the late afternoon, she'd say, "I need to go put on my face." I always thought the expression was a funny one, but I didn't miss her intent. She wanted to honor my father as he returned from a long day's work. Part of her preparation was to spritz on a bit of perfume.

I have learned from my mom's careful attention to her physical appearance what a gift that can be to others. While focus on physical looks can be taken way too far and even become an idol, I have learned from my mom that I can bless people by putting effort into my make-up and clothing choices--and yes--even the wearing of perfume. She has trained me in one of the ways of the Proverbs 31 woman who was also careful about her appearance. We learn in Proverbs 31:22 that her clothing was of "fine linen and purple," costly and rare in those days. The Proverbs 31 woman was no "sweatshirt slob"!

Now my mom's legacy is being passed down to her granddaughters as I teach them to honor others by how they care for their appearance. With my first granddaughter on her way, I presume that someday Anna will pass her Nana's legacy down to the little girl she is carrying and perhaps other daughters as well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Project 366 -- Fairyland Frost

Days 35-36

On Sunday a light hoar frost was left as evidence of light fog:

Yesterday morning we awoke to dense fog. When the fog burned off, all around us was shrouded in ice crystals. The temperature was only 16 degrees Fahrenheit, but the sun's rays lent sparkle to the wonderland.

"I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

"My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;

"The humble will hear it and rejoice.

"O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us praise Him together."
Psalm 34:1-3

Friday, February 3, 2012

Project 366 -- Homemade Valentines

Day 33

One of our family traditions is to make Valentines for grandparents and the kids' widowed great aunts.

Here Cassandra (17) is making use of her drawing skills. The day my husband and I met Cassandra and her two siblings, Jaynie and Mark, in their orphanage in July 2001, we got the opportunity to watch them draw at the table in the orphanage director's office. We commented to each other that we were surprised at their skill level since they were just eight, seven and five.

Over the years, God has grown Cassandra into a young woman capable of creating the most winsome creatures. I hope some day she gets the chance to illustrate a children's book!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Project 366 -- Heavy Birds

Day 32

Today's photo is kind of odd. An uncooked chicken surrounded by carrots and crowned with a plastic bag is rarely the subject of a photographic study.

However, the photo does capture real life in our household of 13. The unusual photo op came about in this way: I told Tuesday's cooking team, Jaynie (18) and Mark (16) to put the two whole chickens I'd thawed in a turkey-sized cooking bag. I also told them to put every carrot they could find in the house in the bag with the chickens. Little did I know, we had so many bags of carrots that even a turkey-sized bag couldn't hold the bulk! Jaynie and Mark picked up their bagged chickens to put them in the roaster, and BOOM -- the bottom of the bag fell out!

Cooking massive amounts of food for our extra-large family often lead to massive messes which offer us the opportunity for a good laugh. Jaynie, Mark and I shared a chuckle over this debacle, and then cleaned up the chicken and carrots so we'd still have dinner.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Project 366 -- Kitchen Table Science

Day 31

In December, my friend, Sandy, told me what fun it is to grow amaryllis during the holiday season. I picked up three of the bulbs at Target just before Christmas to be our kitchen table center piece. We've sure enjoyed the science of watching them grow! You can see change daily!

They're blooming late for Christmas but just in time for Valentine's Day. These photos were taken with the light from our kitchen window illuminating the flowers from behind.

I don't know about you, but I can't imagine a world without flowers. What an act of love on God's part to give us the gift of their color, variety and intricacy!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
                                                     Psalm 136:1