Thursday, December 19, 2013

What We All Long For...

Our family begins each morning by gathering to read a Psalm. We then read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the date of the month. Thus today we read Proverbs 19 since it is December 19th.

When we get to this particular chapter each month, a little phrase inevitably pricks me:

"What is desirable in a man is his kindness" 
(Proverbs 19:22 NASB)
Here's what author John Kitchen has to say in his outstanding commentary Proverbs:
"That which people long to find true in those they associate with is 'kindness.' This translates the rich Hebrew word hesed. The term is descriptive of covenant love and faithfulness. It is a mercy, kindness, love and compassion that flows from an unalterable commitment made to another. It is not hard to see why this is a quality desirable in those with whom one builds relationships. Ultimately, this is God's kind of love for those who trust in Him." (pg. 428)
The reason the words, "What is desirable in a man is his kindness," act as a thorn each month is that I find it all too easy to expect "mercy, love and compassion" from others while being slow to dole out those same expressions of graciousness myself. The worst part is that my own home is where I'm least likely to demonstrate the wonder of the "hesed", dying-to-self love that this proverb promotes. Instead, I'm much more likely to bark out commands to my children as though I am a captain desperately trying to keep my ship afloat.

So as we quickly approach Christmas, I want to remember the babe in the manger. I want to remember the baby who grew into the man who lived love. I want to remember His mercy in my life. His love for this wretched sinner. His compassion when my heart aches or I stumble and hurt. I want to remember that the baby whose birth we celebrate this season is the long-awaited Messiah whose rich "hesed" love resulted in Him hanging from the cross, uttering the words, "Forgive them, Lord" about the very ones who were crucifying Him. I want to remember...

When I keep my Savior's sacrificial love in front of me it is much easier to move through my days seeing my children as treasures to be cherished. I'm much more likely to be a gentle, tender mom who showers kindness on those closest to her. I want to live like Jesus. I want to love like Christ. I want to be kind to all with whom I come in contact, starting with my own children. After all, what is desirable in me is kindness.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

365 People Photos: No. 51--20/20 Hindsight

Our family went on a trail ride at the base of the Rockies in western Denver after visiting the kids' grandparents. I rode a 30-year-old steed named Czar that was gentle enough to allow me to take photos as I rode, last in the 11-equine line.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Self-love is the very devil himself in us.
It is the prince of the devils in us.
It is the deepest root
And the ultimate bottom
Of all our sin and all our iniquity.
Thomas Shepherd

O Lord, keep me from self-love! Slay it, please! And fill the chasm that results with Christ.

Friday, November 1, 2013

365 People Photos--No.50: Twins Born 5,103 Miles Apart

Of our 12 children, these two get the most comments that they look alike. Often people even ask if they're twins. These questions and remarks tickle our family because Lissie (left) and Jaynie (right) may be close in age (16 months apart) and height, but that's where the similarities end. After all, the girls were born on different continents to different parents. Perhaps the assertions that the girls must be twins is especially funny to us since Lissie does have a twin--John. People rarely ask Lissie and John the same query she and Russian-born Jaynie get.

It was God's doing that these two look like sisters even though they share no genetic heritage. The wonder of adoption continues to amaze our family each time someone addresses Lissie or Jaynie with the familiar words, "Boy, you and your sister sure do look a lot alike!" When the question inevitably comes when the two girls are together, the rest of us just turn away and exchange knowing smiles. God certainly knew what He was doing when He placed Jaynie in our family!

Friday, October 25, 2013

365 People Pictures--No. 49: A Father's Tender Love

I thank God for my son-in-law's sacrificial love for his daughters. As an adoptive parent, I have a glaringly clear understanding of a child's need for security. Aaron provides that for Brielle Madelyn and Evelyn Rose. Here he is swaddling his littlest wonder on day four of her life.

Friday, October 18, 2013

365 People Pictures: Capturing the Candid--Brielle

The books I've read on photographing children warn of a season when getting a posed grin from a young child will be nearly impossible. The recommendation during this period? That the photographer try instead to capture the essence of the toddler during real-life, unsuspecting moments.

I had one of those unpredictable opportunities with our 14-month-old granddaughter Brielle just days after her little sister Evelyn Rose was born. I was at a giant (and I do meant GIANT) baby superstore with our daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron. While Brielle's parents were working through the difficult decision of which double stroller would best suit their growing family, I had the opportunity to study her through my lens as she surveyed this wonderland of brightly-colored baby paraphernalia. The twinkle in her eye and her content smile were pure Brielle! Thank you, Lord!

I haven't been able to decide whether I like the color or black version better. Any votes from my readers?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

365 People Pictures--No. 47: So Easy to Photograph

Love lights up the face. I've seen it in both my oldest daughters as God has brought their man into each of their lives. With Lissie's wedding less than six weeks away, she just exudes joy. And that makes taking a photograph of her absolutely effortless. This picture was taken in Maine last week as we rested and had our souls refreshed by the Lord while staying on that state's stunning coastline for a couple of days. And, yes, her Eric was with us. Ahhh, such bliss!

I treasure the new beginnings that the Lord is creating in our family. Babies and weddings. It just doesn't get any better. I'm a very happy mother.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Twice a Day, Every Day

Sunrise as seen from Castine, Maine, on the Atlantic coast, 21 August 2013

Thoughts from my time in the Bible this morning:

"They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of your signs;
 You make the dawn and the sunset shot for joy."
Psalm 65:8

Twice a day, every day, God gives us a sign that He is -- each morning's sunrise followed by evening's sunset. Our days are bookended by a reminder of the wonder that there is a God. Even the farthest reaches of the earth are privy to this message of a mighty God--maker of heaven and earth. Oh may I stand in awe--not just of the signs--but of the Signmaker, the Creator. He is God. He is. Praise Him!

Friday, August 16, 2013

365 People Pictures: Days 44, 45, and 46--A Broken Mom's Prayer Answered

My husband and I eagerly anticipated  having children before we married. The number of little ones was up in the air (as if we had control over that! Ha! He is God, and we are not! But that we did not grasp years ago! He is the one who opens and shuts the womb! Not us!). But we were more than eager to be parents.

A couple of years of trying to conceive led us to infertility specialists who eventually told us we had ZERO chance of EVER getting pregnant. EVER. I was crushed. My hopes were pulverized.

Despite the prognosis, I just couldn't stop myself from continuing to pray. My prayer? The same as it had been since I was eight years old. That I would be allowed to carry, deliver and raise twins and that these twins would be a boy and a girl. In the face of the doctor's words I was praying for the impossible.

God's response? Twins. A girl and a boy. His way. In His timing.

"When God wills.
As God wills.
How God wills."
Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, pg. 22

Oh, how I thank God for my precious twins. Oh, how I thank God for answering this barren woman's plea! Oh, how I thank God for doing the impossible. Oh, how I thank God for John and Lissie!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 43--Just Happy, #2

Alexander, 14, at a recent wedding reception
When we saw the first picture of our son, Alexander, what struck us was this orphaned boy's smile. His grin reached all the way into his twinkling eyes. We wondered how could the then 10-year-old be so happy when he had already suffered so? We still don't have the answer to that profound question, even though he's been part of our family for 2-1/2 years now. His smile continues, and our wonder continues. We thank God for Alexander's happy outlook, no matter how mysterious. He's the former orphan with smile wrinkles. Go figure!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 42--Just Happy

Some baby photos have the power to evoke an involuntary smile. As I was sorting through photos this morning, I came across this picture of our granddaughter, Brielle, on January 1st this year. Anyone watching me at the coffee shop would have seen a wide grin suddenly cross my face as her smile surprised me. Isn't God good that He wired us to experience joy in response to baby smiles?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 41--Awestruck!

"I will give thanks to You,
For I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
And my soul knows it very well.
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul know it very well."
(Psalm 139:14,15 NASB)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 40--Christening A New Lens

My husband kindly indulged me in the purchase of a new lens this weekend. I asked him for a 50 mm fixed-focus prime, having read that this type of lens is well-suited to portraits (I may not have the description of the lens correct; I still have so much to learn about even the basics of photography). With our second grandchild due any time now, I'm looking forward to a great deal of newborn photography when I travel to Ohio to help Anna and her young family following the baby's birth.

Today I began practicing with the new lens by catching our second-oldest son, Mark (age 17), as he emerged from his bedroom. I'm thankful to the Lord for children who are remarkably good-natured about having a their photos taken. They live 24/7 with a "mamarazzi" who sometimes turns a camera on them when they least expect it. Mark experienced that today. He had just awakened from a nap. Bless his heart! What a smile, considering the circumstances. What patience! I'm a blessed mom with great kiddos!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 39--Go Reds!

JoLynn, this photo is for you! Cassandra sure misses you and talks about you a great deal. Thanks for loving her and taking her under your wing. You have been a Titus 2 woman to my baby girl, and I'm so grateful!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 38--Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

Today I had the opportunity to photograph the quintessential little girl. She is graced with big blue eyes and blond ringlets. Our tribe picnicked with her family following church, and I was blessed to get to study this four-year-old through my camera lens. Like all little girls, she is truly fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). What human could create such a masterpiece?

Friday, July 26, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 37--Nothing Better Than a Baby's Giggle

Our 19-year-old daughter, Cassandra, with her 12-month-old niece, Brielle last month on a walk during our visit to Cincinnati.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 36--Singing the Blues Again?

Brielle's little sister is due in about five weeks. I wonder...will Evelyn Rose's eyes be sky-blue like her daddy's or deep pools of chocolate like her mama's? Babies are perhaps God's greatest mystery...His greatest wonder.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 35--Serious Business

A life of more than eight decades is worthy grand celebration with grand finale--in this case a handmade carrot cake topped with countless candles.

This past week we traveled to Denver to celebrate my dad's 81st birthday. Lighting the candles which merely represent that many years of life took the serious concentration of my brother (in the foreground) and my husband. I can only guess that the deep concentration on my dad's face is the result of contemplating what a significant inhale would be necessary to blow out the candles.

One of the things I love about this special moment in time which the Lord allowed me to capture with my camera is my 10-year-old nephew's intense curiosity as he watches the pyromania taking place to mark his grandpa's birthday.

For the celebration of my dad's birthday, all three of my parents' children and 16 of their 17 grandchildren were present. Only their oldest granddaughter, Anna, was missing. She had good reason. Anna is due with her grandparents' second great-grandchild in four weeks.

Thank you, Lord, for my dad's life!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 34--My Baby All Grown Up


This morning Lissie, Eric and I visited the venue where their wedding reception will be held in October. While there I pulled out my camera to take a few last photos before Eric returns to his home in the Boston area this afternoon. I thank God that the two of them had an unexpected six days together. I'm also grateful to my Heavenly Father that the two of them are so willing to let me take their picture. Doing photo sessions with this duo brings me such joy!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Mark of Wisdom

"The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way" 
  (Proverbs 14:8a NASB)

Bible commentator John Kitchen writes, "Such a one can look at his conduct (his way) and his motives and accurately identify them for what they are... The proverbs repeatedly hail the one who can objectively evaluate himself and trim his actions accordingly." Proverbs, pgs. 305,306

This ability to sense when I'm headed in the wrong direction with my words or actions is a yearning of my heart as a result of having sinned against others--thus defiling God's glory--more times than I'd care to recount.

This half-a-Proverb can so easily be turned into a prayer: Lord, please grant me the wisdom to understand my way. Take away the blinders of pride and self righteousness that lead me far from You. Help me to do an immediate U-turn of repentance as soon as my eyes are opened by Your grace to the fact that I'm on a path which will result in me hurting others and failing to glorify You."

This short gem also makes a perfect prayer for my children: Lord, I pray that You will weave into each of my children and their spouses the prudence to understand their way. Our culture is daily pounding them with messages that make behaviors like anger, rebellion and unforgiveness not only okay but even expected. Self-focus, the very opposite of Your way, is touted before them as a virtual virtue. O Great God, give my children sin-sensitive souls.

This morning I wrote Proverbs 14:8a on an index card and added it to the stack I try to review daily. I've found this practice which I took up in early March has been a tremendous springboard not just for knowing more scripture but also for energizing my prayer life. Now this new index card will now help me to remember to ask the Lord to mold me into a person who understands her ways.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

365 people Pictures: Day 33--An Unexpected Baby Lover

This is a favorite photo of our 14-year-old son, Alexander, and our granddaughter, Brielle, taken last week when we vacationed in Ohio.

We adopted Alexander from Russia when he was eleven. Until our daughter, Anna, and her husband, Aaron, had their daughter a year ago, Alexander hadn't had the opportunity to be around babies. And, boy, is he good with his niece! Of all the people in our large family, Alexander gets the quickest smile out of the one-year-old. She simply adores him, and the feeling is mutual. If God hadn't placed Alexander in a family, he never would have had nieces or nephews because he had no siblings in Russia. Now he has eleven, and that bodes of many, many nieces and nephews to love on as time goes by! God is so kind!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 32--Brielle Opening Birthday Gifts

Tonight Brielle opened the gifts celebrating her first birthday. Soon she was surrounded by tissue paper which brought out the pink in her fair complexion. We thank God for Brielle Madelyn! What a gift she has been even in her first 12 months!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

365 People Pictures: Days 30 & 31--Young Love

 Our granddaughter, Brielle (12 months) in the arms of her Auntie Jaynie (age 20) during our first day visiting Brielle's family in southern Ohio.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 29--Love Captured

This is not a posed picture.

I was just blessed last weekend to capture a special moment between our daughter, Lissie, and her grandma when we visited my mother-in-law in Kansas last week. The two didn't even know I had my camera turned on them. Rather, they were engrossed in the beauty of being together, which was especially sweet after the nine months Lissie had just finished living in Central Asia. Oh the joy of having the opportunity to catch a photographic representation of the strong, enduring bond between these two! I love people photography!

Friday, May 24, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 28--Cell Phone Surprise

As I learn to capture people with my camera, I want to work on catching emotion. Here I was blessed to snap the shutter just as my 11-month-old granddaughter seized her aunt's cell phone. I love both their expressions. My daughter's joy over her niece's antics delights me. Being the mother of twelve means that our oldest daughter is now having her children before our younger children are grown and gone. What a gift to watch the two generations interact!

I also love Brielle's wonder in this photo. Her face may look like it holds the expected curiosity of a baby with a new object in her hand. But such is not the case here! Brielle's mommy and daddy are of the social media, techno-everything generation (I can't think of a more articulate description.). Thus, this little girl has been grabbing for cell phones since the moment her motor skills allowed her to sufficiently elongate her reach. I believe Brielle's is generated by the fact that she's snatched a phone and no one has yet snatched it back!

Ah.... I love people photography...expressions captured that are so fleeting they would otherwise be missed...personalities on display in a way that reminds me what a blessed mother and grandmother I am! God has been so good to me! I love people photography.

When I'm at My Worst...

I memorized Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-30 a couple of months ago:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Having my this passage impressed on my heart has given me the chance to mediate on it repeatedly. The Lord has provided many precious insights. This week, however, I had a thought that staggered me.

When I'm "weary and heavy-laden", I am at my worst. If you find me worn and feeling pressured, you'll find a woman who is most likely cranky, self-centered, vulnerable to self-pity, whiny, and bordering on hopelessness. I'm just plain disagreeable. It's ugly!

And yet, it is precisely at these moments ~ when I'm wallowing in sin as I struggle with my circumstances ~ that Jesus invites me to come close!  Jesus is emphatic about His desire to usher me into intimacy with Him when I've sunk to my lowest. I tend to try to avoid people when they're exhausted and overwhelmed. After all, a person like that is most likely going to be needy. But, ~ this is what flabbergasted me ~ that's exactly when our Savior beckons...when we're at our weakest and at the same time...well...kinda repugnant. Isn't that amazing? Isn't Jesus' "Come..." sweeter than ever with that realization? Doesn't the tenderness of the invitation leave you ready to lay your head on His chest as the apostle John did?

I recently ran across the wall hanging I'm holding in the photo. I had planned to hang it on our main floor, but so far it hasn't left our bedroom. Seeing the words first thing in the morning and several times each day has served to remind me of Jesus' insistent-yet-overwhelmingly-compassionate, "Come to Me...". Seeking Him is my only real hope when I'm weary and heavy-laden. When I'm at my worst, He still says, "Come...!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

365 People Pictures: Days 27 and 28--In! and... OUT!

Most of my people pictures have been some sort of portraiture, but this time the moments captured include plenty of action.

In April, our family was blessed to travel to Santa Monica, California. That gave our kids, normally nestled amongst corn stalks in the upper-Midwest, the chance to experience wonder of the Pacific Ocean. Cassandra (18) and Mark's (17) first reaction to the chilly water was priceless. Thank You, Lord, for this precious chance to travel. Thank You for the wonder You provided two former orphans. You are a good, kind and generous God!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 26 ~ Red Poppy Legacy

I was blessed with the opportunity to visit my daughter, Anna, and her family this weekend. That gave me the chance to see our grandchild, Brielle, for the first time in 2-1/2 months. I thank God for the opportunity to pull out my camera to capture her at 11 months. What joy!

As Anna got her little one ready for church on Sunday, she picked out Brielle's dress quite intentionally with since I was visiting. She chose one that was given to Brielle by my mom ~ Brielle's great-grandmother. I admit I was delighted to see this little bit of my mom's touch gracing the first of this next generation. I know, however, that my mom's influence will reach far deeper into Brielle's life than pretty clothing. I was raised by a woman who loved her husband, delighted in her children and managed her home well. Truthfully, her shoes are still hard to fill! My mom's high standard has affected the wife, mother and homemaker that I am. Her ways have influenced how I've worked to prepare our daughters for the roles they will likely hold as women. And Anna tells me that she thinks of her Nana routinely now that she's a wife, mother and homemaker. Undoubtedly, as Brielle ~ and any future daughters ~ grow, Anna will be training them in ways that have passed through three generations already.

Brielle's little red-flowered dress speaks of quite a legacy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 25--He's Got My Back

If I were to title this photo, I would use the popular phrase, "He's Got My Back." I love the wonderful look of security on my granddaughter's face as she stands leaning against her daddy. Doesn't her face say, "Watch out I come!"? Brielle knows her daddy will protect her.

I find it wonderful that we can have this same sense of security if we respond to our Heavenly Father's invitation to come to Him and rest in His shadow. If we allow Him to provide the loving care that He promises over and over in His word, we're then enabled to experience safety, courage and even joy in the tough circumstances that are inevitable in this life. He's got our back!
"On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul." Psalm 138:3

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 24--Baby in her Bling

Brielle ~ 8 months

I was feeling artsy today so I played around a bit in the photo-editing software with this picture of Brielle  I do so love her delicate features and coloring! I took the headband she's wearing to her mama, Anna, when I visited in mid-February. Our family found the inexpensive treasure when we ate at a Cracker Barrel restaurant when traveling in late January. What a find! Perfect for picture taking!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 23--Natasha

Natasha ~ Adopted from Russia in 2005 at age 5

We had a family-fun evening at a local pool last Friday, and I purposed to capture a photo of our rapidly changing 13-year-old, Natasha. I love how the blues and aqua's came together in this picture.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pride: A Prickly Problem

As our oldest son, John, was working on his business degree, he had to do some research in professional journals. He came across this quote at the bottom of one of the articles. He was staggered by the writer's humility. John read the quote to me, and I quickly requested a copy.
"If any good has come from what has been done, all glory goes to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is to Him that I owe my life both temporal and eternal. Whatever talent, ability or accomplishment that I have enjoyed has been given from His hand. It is by His grace alone that 'I live and move and have my being.' (Acts 17:28)" ~Jeffrey K. Fawcett
I'm so prone to pride. Even blogging fuels this foul monster that lives inside me. However, my heart's desire is to make my way through life exhibiting humility, remembering at all times the True Source of my life and any accomplishments. I am simply His tool. Trying to keep that focus, I have a sticky card with this quote on it hanging in a strategic location in our bathroom so that I reread the words frequently. Perhaps, though, I need to memorize it. Hmmm... The fight goes on.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 22--A Dream Come True

February 2013 ~ Brielle 8 months

As my husband and I are raising our nine daughters, I have a dream for their lives. My deep-seated hope is that they will be as happy being moms as I have been. Our oldest daughter, Anna, is the first to make my dream a reality. Anna genuinely delights in her little one, Brielle. For me, this photo captures my daughter's joy in being a mommy. just donned on me ~ Anna's first Mother's Day is coming up next month; Brielle was born in early June last year. Thank you, Lord, for the unspeakably rich blessing of motherhood.

(Coincidentally, Anna just posted some of her impressions on being a mama: Brielle and An Announcement )

Saturday, March 30, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 21--God at Work

Today our family visited my mother-in-law for the first time in her new home in a memory-care assisted-living facility in Kansas near the family of one of her sons.

Seeing Grandma allowed us to witness for ourselves God's special care of this widow. Her blue eyes revealed so much. They reassured us that the Lord has her in the palm of His hand. She has been through so much since mid-January--the sudden death of her sister which necessitated her leaving her home of 33 years. But we saw this afternoon that as she has been leaning on God from day-to-day, He has been with her, just as He promised. The strength she is radiating tells the story of God drawing her to His heart, giving her peace as she walks through grief and change.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 20--A New Role

Today is my husband's birthday. Since his last birthday, he has become a grandpa. God gives me much joy in watching my beloved husband of three decades revel in the glorious gift of a granddaughter. There is now no quicker way to get a smile out of my man than to mention his little Brielle to him.

Brielle--8 months

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

365 People Pictures: Day 19--Silly Uncle John

Brielle is John's first niece. He seems to have taken on the role of teaching her silliness. When John returns home from work at night when Brielle is visiting, we hand him the baby and enjoy the antics. After being blessed to be a large family for some time, we're learning now what fun it is to have the next generation with whom to laugh and play!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 18: Puppy Revenge

This photo makes me laugh. Aaron and Anna's dog, Spurgeon, seems to be sticking his tongue out at Brielle. In turn, she seems to be full of consternation at the canine's impudence. Soon she'll permanently have the upper hand through size, maybe Spurgeon knows now is his chance to make his stand!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 17: Baby Bliss

Our 8-month-old granddaughter, Brielle, sound asleep in her car seat following church and lunch:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 15: A Pink Tutu

Not many words this time...just a baby, itsy-bitsy shoes and the curves of a bed frame:

Brielle--8 months

Friday, March 8, 2013

No More Excuses

Even if I only read one book in the entire Bible, one thing would become clear. Proverbs leaves no doubt that those who belong to God are to have self-control over their feelings, their thoughts, their actions, their words, their eating, their drinking, their use of time and their use of money.

Jesus was the ultimate demonstration of this self-control. I will fail in my efforts to imitate Him and demonstrate self-control unless I am "actively dependent upon God at each instant and in each endeavor," (John Kitchen, Proverbs, pg. 237).

How can I be dependent on Someone I don't know well? I can't be. This moment-by-moment dependence on God demands an intimate knowledge of God. The only way I can hope to achieve this level of intimacy is by becoming a person of the Word. His thoughts must become my thoughts. His ways must become my ways (See Isaiah 55:8,9). This means investing time and energy in reading and rereading and rereading and rereading His word. I must stop making excuses and memorize His word, and this must be life-change memorization, not the kind of cramming that prepares a person for a quiz. This will take hard work. There's just now way around it. This will also require cutting something out of my life, probably spending as much time at my computer.

I've spent my life telling people I wish I had more self-control. It's time to stop wishing. It's time to consistently invest myself in knowing God so well that I can be actively dependent upon Him--moment-by-moment--no matter what life throws at me. It's time to control Self, instead of letting Self control me. It's time to demonstrate enough self-control to hungrily seek God through His word, today and tomorrow and the next day and the next... It's time. No more excuses.

(Many of these thoughts have crystallized after listening to Jim Berg's message: Eagles and Turkeys. Many of the terms are his.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 14: The Other Woman in Her Life

The beautiful woman in this photo who is holding my granddaughter is Brielle's other grandmother. In other words, she is the mother-in-law of my daughter, Anna.

Tina is beautiful from the inside out. She loves Jesus and that love motivates how she lives. Tina is caring and giving. She is truly a servant whose home is warm and inviting because of her spirit of hospitality. I look forward to my visits to her home each time I visit Anna and her family. Tina isn't just Brielle's Nana and Anna's mother-in-law, she's my friend. God has been so good to give me that gift through Anna's marriage to Aaron!

Monday, March 4, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 13: Baby Grin

Brielle--8 months

Day 12's photo was a contemplative capturing of my granddaughter's features. That picture didn't, however, capture her personality. This photo taken just half an hour later does a better job of that. Brielle has unusually large eyes that grab people's attention both in photos and in person. Recently, I've come to the conclusion that her eyes are captivating because there is happiness behind their blue color. Brielle's mommy, Anna, says that she prayed for a content baby. The Lord most kindly did above and beyond Anna's request. Brielle is a happy baby who blesses with her big grins, cheerful chattering and beaming eyes.

One of the pleasures I find in baby photography is that little ones don't yet have the inhibitions that we seem to inevitably grow into. They'll smile at the shake of a set of keys or a quick game of peek-a-boo. Perhaps youngsters' easily-encouraged delight is one of the traits that led Jesus to insist that we must be like little children to enter His Kingdom. After all, God is worthy of our deepest delight. He is the Giver-of-All-Good-Gifts. The long list of ways in which He meets our needs should keep each of us grinning with joy. When I have my camera in hand, I'm going to keep watching for Brielle's big smiles that I might be reminded to be like a little child in my appreciation of my Heavenly Father.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 12: Watching a Watchful Baby

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting Ohio, my offer to Aaron and Anna to babysit for them opened up the treasured opportunity to take photos of her Brielle again. For eight months now Brielle has repeatedly been a willing model as her grandmother practices baby photography.

That morning Brielle turned her attention away from me just as I was getting started with our own private little photo shoot. Her eyes were transfixed on something outdoors as she looked out the large picture window in her family's living room. This twist of her head proved fortuitous; it gave me the blessing of a perfectly lit and tilted little face. Even the catch lights in her eyes (the white reflections of light) were perfect. To top it off, the family's brown sofa made a lovely background that virtually disappeared while setting off Brielle's fair features and blue eyes. Even her pensive facial expression seemed to fit the scene just right.

Psalm 139 says that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made by God . Isn't the beauty of babies a powerful testimony to our Creator's wisdom, creativity and majesty?

Monday, February 25, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 11: Lissie

This photo was taken back in January. Lissie, the second oldest of our nine girls, was being courted by Eric Moores. (Now they're engaged!) Eric, who hails from New England, had been staying with us for two weeks so that the couple could have a concentrated time of getting to know one another on a deeper level. The reason this was important was that Lissie was to return to teaching in Central Asia until the end of the school year. Deciding whether to marry someone based solely on Skype calls would be difficult and probably unwise if it could be avoided.

On the day before Eric was to leave and the couple was to part for five months, they spent hours at a local coffee shop praying together, reading God's word together and seeking Him together. They allowed me to tag along and take photos. I did capture some pictures of tears as they anticipated the impending parting, but as the afternoon passed the pair gained their equilibrium in Him and did a great deal of smiling and laughing. It was during a relaxed, resting-in-Him moments for this young couple that God gave me this photo of my precious daughter. He is so kind. Lissie has been a gift for 21 years, and now having this picture that reveals much about her character is a gift

Saturday, February 23, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 10: A New Take on Senior Pictures

I have a nagging feeling that we may be missing out on a national treasure. While it is both fun and important to capture the beauty of youth--just as the tremendous milestone of graduating from high school is about to take place--our culture's fascination with the seeming perfection of wrinkle-free skin is notorious.

I would propose we continue to take the photographs labeled senior pictures, but let us not miss turning our cameras on the elderly. They've earned their wrinkles by living through some amazing events. Let's celebrate the story that each of their craggy faces represents.

Day 10 of my "people-picture" photography project was taken of my mother-in-law yesterday. Jane was born at the very beginning of the depression so she has childhood memories of the economic suffering that nearly crushed their family. She also has clear memories of World War II with its culmination in the dropping of the Atomic Bomb. She's lived through The Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Her husband was an Air Force pilot during the Cuban Missile Crisis who was airborne during those tense, fateful hours. She watched the airspace race between the Soviet Union and America, and witnessed the first man to walk on the moon. My mother-in-law has seen the near eradication of diseases like Tuberculosis and Polio. She's witnessed communication and computing changes that rival anything the world has ever know during the course of one lifetime. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. (Sorry, I just couldn't resist the pun.)

So let's continue to capture the beauty of  youth, but let's also make sure we mark the dignity of age. Let's turn our cameras on the seniors we know and record the many profound experiences etched into their faces. As an added bonus, won't these "senior pictures" be treasures to us when the elderly person we've photographed is no longer with us? Let's not miss a God-given opportunity!

Friday, February 22, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 9: A Father I Can Look Up To

In one of the photography books I've read about capturing the essence of childhood, the author suggested hinting at the father's strength without fully revealing the man. As I visited with Aaron and Anna, it dawned on me that demonstrating the contrast between the shoe size of daddy and daughter could give that desired sense of Aaron's reliability and Brielle's dependence on him. Little did I suspect initially that I would get the added bonus of her upward glance at her papa.

I thank God that my precious granddaughter has a father committed first and foremost to her mother and their marriage. He is also committed to every aspect of the care of Brielle--physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

365 People Pictures--Day 8: Brielle at Mid-Morning

I just had the joy of visiting my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in Ohio. What a gift from God the whole trip was--including all the fun I was able to have with my camera!

Aaron and Anna's great room has a large picture window that lets in nearly perfect light most of the day. Here 8-month-old Brielle had just been plopped on the sofa in preparation for a Skype call between her mom and Brielle's Auntie Lissie--our daughter who is teaching in Central Asia. Brielle has just begun to respond to the family member appearing in the computer screen during Skype calls. This is especially rewarding to Lissie since she's on the other side of the world for five months.