Saturday, July 26, 2014

Favorite Quote: Rethinking Productivity

I'm in the midst of pondering my use of time. My husband, Jim, and I are reading the FABULOUS book What's Best Next? by Matthew Perman to one another and enjoying leisurely discussions of our individual and family goals, schedules and general stewardship of time.

When I came upon this prayer in my time with the Lord yesterday morning, many of the sentiments struck deep as I ponder the shape that my days will take as this summer winds down. I'm going to paste this quote into my calender to read, peruse and perhaps even memorize during weekly and daily planning sessions. The Puritan who penned prayer 300-400 years ago this captures my heart's desire beautifully. I want the Lord to empty me of me. I want to do Kingdom work right where He puts me, day-in and day-out.

"God of My End,

...O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life
     is a spirit of holy watchfulness
     and godly jealousy over myself,
     when my soul is afraid of nothing
     except grieving and offending Thee,
          the blessed God, my Father and Friend,
     whom I then love and long to please,
     rather than be happy in myself!

Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper,
     worthy of the highest ambition,
          and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures
          and holy Christians,
     may my joy derive from glorifying
          and delighting Thee.

I long to fill all my time for Thee,
     whether at home or away;
     to place all my concerns in Thy hands;
     to be entirely at Thy disposal,
     having no will or interest of my own.

Help me to live to Thee for ever,
     to make Thee my last and only end,
     so that I may never more in one instance
         love my sinful self."

Valley of Vision, "Devotion", pg. 237

Friday, July 18, 2014

365 People Photos: Numbers 83-85 ~ My Princess

In May both our oldest daughters served as bridesmaids in the wedding of their dear friend, Hannah. More photos from Hannah and Jordan's wedding are soon to come, but I couldn't resist sharing these pictures of Alison getting ready on the morning of the wedding.

That morning in the bridal-preparation room, Alison just happened to sit facing into a window as she applies her make-up. This made use of that natural light which is a photographer's dream as I've mentioned in a previous post. In the glow of early morning flowing in through the window, even some thing so routine as putting on mascara took on an artistic beauty that made my mother's heart leap for joy in thanksgiving to God for the gift of such a lovely daughter.

I know I'm biased as her mother, but I think this young woman is a treasure. The best thing about Alison? She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She loves Jesus passionately and seeks Him fervently. That love of her Saviour transfers to a deep concern for people and a desire to serve others. I thank God for my second oldest daughter! What a blessed mom I am!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

365 People Photos: No. 82 ~ Lending a Hand

I've been near the inner workings of so many weddings lately. As a result I've come to realize just how many friends and family it takes to successfully carry off the big event. If a number of people don't pitch in to help, the event is at risk of flopping...or at least the mother-of-the-bride is at risk of a mental break down! 

At the recent wedding I attended in Houston, the bride's college roommates were staying with the family in advance of the big day when they would serve as bridesmaids in Ashley's wedding. I was impressed when I saw one of the young women, Chelsea, pitching in to washing dishes. I appreciated her servant's heart. As a people photographer, I also immediately noticed just how beautiful she looked in the morning light pouring in through the big window over the sink. I had my camera in hand and couldn't resist snapping a shot. Don't you love the glow around her face and the water droplets which are forever frozen in time?

I love people photography! You just never know where your next opportunity to record a special moment with appear!

Friday, July 11, 2014

365 People Photos: No. 81: The IT'S-ALMOST-TIME Wait

I recently posted a photo of this beautiful bride sitting in a chair in the bridal dressing cottage. In this picture Ashley is just minutes from being given the signal that it's time. I love Ashley's wedding-day glow in this photo. I love her ceaseless smile. I love how she's got got a grasp on the train of her dress, prepared to take the walk on her daddy's arm. I love the soft light pouring through the windows in the late afternoon. I love the illumination of the bride's veil and the flower girl's dress. This photo exactly what I most enjoy doing with a camera in my hands ~ capturing a moment that isn't staged or posed but will none the less bring back a flood or memories for those in the photo. I thank God that he enabled me to take this picture.

In this photo, Ashley's three sisters are to the left of the bride. Amy, in the long, gray gown served as her maid of honor. Shannon, is immediately next to Amy. These two lovely beauties are twins. They are also Ashley's older sisters by two years. Right next to Ashley is her "little" sister, Natalie, who was born when Ashley was 8.

The three young women on the right were college roommates. You may be guessing that the man in the picture is Ashley's father, but her dad was just out of the frame. The man pictured her dad's brother, Ashley's uncle. He is also the father of the flower girl. His assignment on the day of the wedding was to help the nervous petal-dropper muster the courage to walk down the aisle just in front of her cousin, the bride.

I felt so honored to be invited to take these photographs. I love any wedding, but this one was extra special to me. Ashley and her sisters were just a bit older than the flower girl when I first met them. In the late 1990s our two families were living in England as American ex-pats. At the time my husband and I had only had three children, and after we'd finish our home schooling the four of us would often spend the afternoon together. I hadn't seen the four sisters in many years so my joy was overflowing to get to spend time with their family and get reintroduced to them as young women. The God I serve is so kind to give me an opportunity like this!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Favorite Quotes: I'm No Hot-House Plant

As was moving books around today, I opened an old favorite to words I had highlighted about 15 years ago which really caught my attention again: 
"True holiness does not make a Christian evade difficulties, but face and overcome them. Christ would have His people show that His grace is not a mere hot-house plant, which can only thrive under shelter, but a strong hardy thing which can flourish in every relation of life. It is doing our duty in that state to which God has called us, like salt in the midst of corruption and light in the midst of darkness, which is the primary element of sanctification."

If I want my walk as a follower of Christ to cause Jesus to shine in the eyes of others, I must demonstrate strength and perseverence, while depending on and trusting in His daily gift of ever-sufficient grace. Christians don't give up and they don't give in. Christians can't give out and they can't give in. They are overcomers! I'm to be an overcomer! I'm to stare danger or discouragement in the face and keep right on walkin'.

I've found during the past decade and a half that scripture rehearsal is critical to my ability to just keep plowing on in the face of whatever daunting difficulties might come my way. I used to call it scripture memorization, but the truth is I'm not very good at memorizing. However, I've found that the process of reading a verse or passage that is written out on a 3x5 card many times and intentionally processing the intent of the words has the necessary effect of strengthening me. I'm also more selfless and ready to serve when I meditate on God's word every day. For me, scripture rehearsal (that might lead to memorizing the passage) is as crucial as eating. I've learned that I need the Bread of Life at least as much as I need food! After all, I'm to be an overcomer!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Favorite Quotes: The Reason Behind My Top Priority Each Day

My second in my series of favorite quotes from books I've read is actually a continuation from Jean Stockdale's book Proverbs and Principle for Parenting Practically Perfect Progeny. (Hence a second photo of the same flower.)

I am a lover of God's word. As such, I find the words below both comforting and convicting. Her words remind me why the first thing I do each day is open my Bible.
"God's Word is not a rule book. It is not a list of external religious rituals that we are required to adhere to or memorize. God's Word is a love letter from a Father to His child. It is truth. It is full of promises, principles, and precepts. It contains God's warnings, His wisdom, and even His wit. It is His divine revelation and the riches of His grace. It reveals both humanity's ruin and God's remedy. It is the story of redemption by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is full of hope and heaven. It declares Jesus to be God's only begotten Son and the one and only way to be forgiven and reconciled with God the Father. Who would dare to deal with it casually or carelessly?" (pg. 16)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Favorite Quotes: Is My Bible Falling Apart?

We need to do some serious book sorting in this house. As I prepare to move books from one location to another, I've decided to record some of my favorite quotes. Right now, wonderful words that have wielded introspection over the years are locked between the front and back pages of the book in which they reside. I know it will do me good to see them again. The header to this blog states that it is my electronic journal. In the past, I stored favorite quotes in traditional journals. It's time to record these wise words here.

This first quote is one of my all time favorites, and it came from an unexpected source: a workbook called Proverbs and Principles for Parenting Practically Perfect Progeny: Timeless Truths from Proverbs for Training Tots to Teens by Jean Stockdale:
"For nearly 24 years I have been a serious Bible student. Early in my Christian experience I discovered that God's Word is His precious love letter to His church corporately and to His children personally. It is to be reverenced and cherished as the holy breath of God. It is to be studied, memorized, read, re-read, meditated on, and consumed with relish. Bibles are to be examined, studied, perused, scanned, wept over, underlined, marked up, outlined, dog-eared, worn out, and regularly replaced. If your Bible is falling apart, the chances are very good that your life is not.
"God's Word is not to be yet another leather accessory for your Sunday wardrobe. It is your sustenance, the foundation for your life, the anchor of your soul, and the song of your heart." (pg. 15)