Friday, January 31, 2014

It's partly about you


"Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God.  No, God brings it all to you.  The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.  In this way, we are like the various parts of a human body.  Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. (…) So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christs's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't." Romans 12: 3-6 The Message

I've been thinking lately about a little tug-of-war that seems to go on between the ends of the spectrum that I might characterize as a crisis of self.

I was right there back in the 80's when self-esteem became the latest greatest thing in education.  Apparently, I succeeded at incorporating in my classroom.  When I was preparing for parent-teacher conferences one year, I had my second graders write a letter to their parents telling them three things they thought they were doing well, and one thing they could improve.  One little girl had a hard time stopping with three strengths, so she wrote a list of several good things she was doing, the last of which was, "...and I have a good self of steam!"

It seems we are waking up to some unintended consequences of showing children how treasured they are.  We are finding that if we're not careful, this message comes across as "It's all about you." So now when we tell young adults raised with this message that actually it isn't all about them, sometimes it's a hard pill to swallow.

An interesting thing has happened in the aftermath of the self-esteem revolution.  When I notice an attitude of entitlement (from people of any generation, myself included), I sometimes have a knee jerk response that can result in this message:  "It's not about you at all."  And I think that sometimes I hear that same response from the church.  We want to teach truthfully, to say that the story of our lives is all about God--that all glory belongs to him, that we are created to be God-centered rather than self-centered, that being God-centered would naturally lead to being others-centered.  I believe those things thoroughly.

But that doesn't mean that it is not about you at all.  I think it's fair to say that it's partly about you, about us.  I mean, I have to deal with myself every. single. day.  I'm pretty sure it's the same for you.  For the Christian whose aim is to make Christ central, we have no choice but to seek him through the lenses of our own eyes.  When we do that, he can grow our field of vision, but it's our only starting point.  If we try as vigorously to deny ourselves as we have to build ourselves up, we have no place from which to approach the God who purposefully made us.

And so, child of God, it is ultimately all about God.  But as it pertains to you and God, of course, it is partly about you.  He really does treasure you.  He went to all of the effort of making you for himself.  And he made you to join him in his work of restoring a broken world, just as he has restored and continues to restore the broken you.  So just try to keep those things in perspective, and you'll be fine.

It's not all about you.
But it's partly about you.

Don't get your undies in a bundle over people who tell you it isn't about you at all, or people who live like it's all about them.  Just pray for them. We all have to find that balance.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Staying Warm


Photo 52, Week 5:  Photographer's Prerogative
"The view from inside"


If you keep up with the weather,
you know we've been having some.
Let it suffice to say


It calls for the warmth of candlelight


and an appreciation for the beauty out there.
But you really do have to look closely sometimes.
Through the window.


Nice for us, we have had plenty of time to do just that.


It's a blessing to have time to hunker down.
Even if my kids really don't want pictures taken every time they
bake cookies, make Valentines, play games.
You get the idea.
They did all of that.
(In addition to the TV and video games.)

(Here's what they looked like six years ago when this happened.
You can use your imagination.  They have BEEN photographed.)


Plus cleaning, laundry, organizing, shoveling.
They are really growing up!
If they're gonna be this handy,


I think I'll keep them around a while longer.


If you were wondering at what point your kids would start coming in REALLY handy?
Mine are in middle school, and they are becoming quite the reasonable, helpful human beings.
And no, I really don't have one picture of them from our unanticipated days together.
I want them to think their mom is becoming a reasonable, helpful human being too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014



…one among millions, yet completely unique.



Sometimes, you stand out from all the rest


but you were never meant to stand alone.


God made you to be part of something much bigger.




You are most stunning when you are reflecting His light,
created to be you,
created to be His.


Photo 52, Week 3: Juxtaposition

I am praying that this year in my photography--
and in my life--
I can search not only for beauty
but brokenness awaiting transformation.
May I be on this earth a part of the restoration process.

"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things
he planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:10

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Playing Favorites


Photo 52, Week 3:  Landmark
I really wanted to go on an outing this week to photograph some local landmarks.
We have so many, it would have been hard to narrow it down,
but it would have been fun to at least capture a few.
The outing got put on hold, but I did manage to capture one of my favorites.


Really, if you have tasted this stuff,
Cheesecake Factory would qualify as a landmark in your book too.


Another of my favorite things showed up Friday morning
when I drove the kids to the bus stop because it was so cold.


Good thing I decided to be nice,


or I would have totally missed it.


Once the sun came up, the blue sky and white snow drew me to the window,
but it was the birds who kept me there.
They are definitely some of my winter favorites!


It's true what they say,


"Birds of a feather flock together"



Over the last two days we have had several kinds of birds,
but only one kind in any given tree at any point in time.


I had to google this one today--it's a redpoll.
I can't remember seeing these before.


The texture is interesting.
Today I shot through the kitchen blinds,
which I wouldn't normally do,
in order to keep a lower profile.
Somehow, I got a vertical texture
that makes my photos look like a watercolor.


And while we're talking about favorites,
what could be more favorite than Saturday?



Homemade cinnamon rolls?


Yes, please!


We did have to shovel (and yes, I did help).
(Shhh…don't tell Ben I captured him with long sleeves and pants.
And gloves.  But no socks.  He is wearing down on his shorts resolve.)







I went looking for my perfect snowflake, but there was too much melting going on.
I did use my tripod, though, and I think when I find my flake, it will be pretty great!


Hope your weekend is beautiful!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Me (trying to be normal)


It was most unexpected.  My old college friend, Lydia, wrote a hilarious Facebook post about a conversation with a coworker on the topic of the spider who lived on Lydia's kitchen windowsill.  Apparently this spider set up housekeeping there, and in the interest of encouraging the spider to stay so she and her family could observe its habits, Lydia began catching flies whenever she saw the opportunity, in order to feed them to her spider.  In the process of doing so one day at work, Lydia found herself explaining her flycatching behavior to the coworker, and discovered that observing the friend's response was almost as fascinating as observing the spider.

In a subsequent post there was more dialogue, and right there in the middle of it (when trying to change the subject), Lydia dared to say in writing what most of us think nobody realizes about us.

Me (trying to be normal): ...

THAT is where I truly burst out laughing.


If you understood the incongruity of that statement, you would too.  There is no hope of Lydia ever being "normal".  She far exceeds normal.  She is a beautiful, creative, all-out servant of God and people.  There is no time in her life for normal.  And more importantly, there is NO ONE who knows Lydia who would want her to be "normal".  It would be a tragedy, really.

But isn't it what we are prone to think we want, to be normal, to fit in, to fly under the radar?  We might be happy to distinguish ourselves in some ways that might be considered successful, but we sure don't want to stand out because we are somehow different.  What untold energy is wasted by people trying to be normal, while at the same time trying to dare to be extraordinary?


Here is what we all need to realize:  We are all broken.

Every one of us.

We like to think it's the people who have less than we have--materially, relationally, emotionally, socially, medically--who are broken.  And we who convince ourselves we have achieved (an appearance of) "normal" are responsible for helping fix the broken.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the churches.  He admonishes the believers at one church because they think they are so self-sufficient, not realizing that they are "wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked".  Yet another church he encourages with the words, "I know your afflictions and your poverty (this just after reminding them of his own death and resurrection--he KNOWS from personal experience!)--yet you are rich!"

It sounds so comfortable, so safe to be normal.  It seems like the way to be an insider instead of an outsider.  But it's only an endless demand to keep up appearances and hide the truth.


When you are broken enough to know you have no hope of ever being normal, then you finally have hope of being free.  Free to heal.  And free to be an agent of healing.


This morning at church we heard music and personal stories from the Teen Challenge Choir.  It's an international faith based treatment program for people battling chemical addictions.  We host them every year, and it is incredibly moving to hear their stories of brokenness and the road to healing.  They all know what it is to let go of the fallacy of "normal", in exchange for the hope of freedom. Today, though, the best part was hearing them sing this song.  

It's so important to know our identity.  It's not the names on the name tags.  But it's not "Normal" either.  The truth lies somewhere else entirely.  I hope you know what your real name is.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

In the Kitchen (and a tiny bit of blog business)


Photo 52,  Week 2:  In the Kitchen

If you've been around here long enough, 
you've seen MANY pictures of my kitchen
and you KNOW this isn't it!


When we go visit Lee's family in Georgia,


our trip would not be complete


with a stop at our favorite OUTDOOR kitchen...




…for some boiled (pronounced "bowled") peanuts.


They make Lee so happy on the drive home!


And now for the blog business.

I feel a ridiculous need to issue a disclaimer.  I was encouraged by something I read, on a blog that I have enjoyed greatly, to write.  I love to write.  It is how I process best.

I have noticed that lately, I have written less and plastered my blog with photos more.  Don't get me wrong, I love my photos, and they are not going away anytime soon.  But I have not taken the time to write much, because it seems to me that everything I want to say, I have already written.  Take the other day, for example, when I wrote a small lament over not being The Very Best Mom.  That is all stuff I have written before.  But it felt great to say it, because that day it hit me in a new way, and one little part of it had been an aha! moment for me in recent weeks.  It just played itself out perfectly in that snowstorm.

So I hope to start writing more again.  I'm telling you that so you don't worry about me if you read something and think, "Hmm, that sounds familiar.  Is this a repost of an earlier piece?"  Probably, it's not.  Possibly, you'll know that from the current pictures.

I cringe at the idea of being redundant, for the gracious people who have taken precious time to read my blog.  But this is where I'm reminded that ultimately, I blog for me and mine.  I am humbled by the fact that sometimes what I write strikes a chord with someone else.  That is a gift of Grace.