Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I hate to wake up early in the morning. It must have been the thought of being alone on an adventure while all the little ones slept soundly that got me up and going. It might have been the empty streets, filled with a slightly hazy, humid air with the light just starting to think about breaking it into a clear day. Or maybe all those shots I had already put a box around in my mind and wanted to bring into reality onto my photo card. For all of these and more I nearly bounced out of bed with quiet cat like feet, into my black stretch pants, a tank, and some tennis shoes to take off for a early morning photography adventure.

I closed my door and started the Honda, wishing I could have put a sound buffer even on those noises, wincing a little with a glance in my rearview at the windows at the condo above. It was 6:45am and Kanah, Grace, and Salem would probably rest another hour if not interrupted. It would be best for me mentally if they were asleep while I was gone, so I didn’t have to think about what mothering roles might need doing. I stopped quickly at the little market and got a coffee with creamer and dashed back to my car to be on my way. Even just being in a Honda Accord brought me all kinds of nostalgic happy feelings that my husband would laugh at me for having. Given a “would you rather” car scenario I would take an Accord over any of his Road and Track indulgences any day ;).

My mind quickly scanned through all the images in my mind I had preserved as stopping points for my drive. I tried the highway bridge first but chickened out when I realized there was not a very safely designed pedestrian walkway. Every time we crest this bridge, which links the mainland to the beach islands and crosses over breathtaking green grassed marshes, I breathe in the delights of east coast beach vacationing and instantly feel happy. I have always wanted to stop at this point and capture it. Hit with that small defeat, I wondered if this was all a bust or if I was cut out for photo adventures. But looking towards Sullivans Island I picked up my pace again and soon found myself wandering along the marshes, practicing changing my f stop to make either the foreground or backgrounds blurry. I had a series of obsessive shots of the lock straight docks that lead over probably a hundred yards of marshy grassy land before ending with a drop into the canal. I was back in a stride and forgot my disappointment completely.

Feeling satisfied, I stopped next on the small neighborly bridge to Sullivans, enjoying cropping the swerves of the coastal surf below and capturing the rising light hitting only certain parts of the picture. I was patient, wishing away little details from my mental box, like runners and frolicking dogs and the like. I began to wish to be down on that quiet beach, so I drove into the adjacent neighborhood and cruised slowly, passing alluring double decked screened in porches with whirling ceiling fans and rows of rockers. Palm trees and twisted oaks leaned and craddled the shapes of the homes. As my eyes took in each dwelling with a curious joy, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been off on a journey like this one. Searching for a pathway to the beach and enjoying each moment along the way felt like a freshness I had missed from years ago. I finally saw a sandy walkway, drove up closer to make sure it was for the public, and parked my car next to a house where a lady with curlers sat staring at me from her porch chair. I felt slightly intrusive and brave all at once and parked my car to sneak through the dunes.

I walked through what felt like my very own “wardrobe” through the dunes and landed on a very desolate area of beach. Even at 7am, the heat hit me hard and I wished for a rubberband, but quickly decided to not care, as the beauty and isolation welcomed me for my little adventure.

I developed a small obsession right away for the orange colored seaweed clusters that had lined themselves up along the beach, probably from that morning’s high tide. Like from the hands of flower girls down an aisle, they lay dropped one after the other as far as I could see. Crouching and lining up my lines right and searching for new angles, I felt so free to enjoy capturing. I am truly a Capturer. It sounds like such a princess word or something, but I find utter DELIGHT in capturing expressions and beauty and moments and scenes that make my heart flutter and click with connection. It was a moment like that as I stood under the dunes and walked along the seaweed and peered out at shrimp boats and let my eyes measure the almost silly enormity of the southern style pillered and multi-porched beach front homes.

I let my tennis shoes get wet as I got closer and I found myself begin to pray outloud. Praying outloud might possibly be the most therapeutic and joyous and comforting and revelational thing I do, whether around my kitchen or there in that perfectly isolated spot. I talked to Jesus about my marriage, my heart, my kids. I felt very small. I felt humbled. I felt keenly aware of my faults and my tendencies for making big emotional and relational messes. We talked about all of that as my treads went along, sticking lightly to the muddy sand beneath fingernail deep waters. It didn’t matter how heavy the sentence that flowed off my lips. As soon as it was spoken it seemed to feel lighter and seemed to return to me from the Lord in grace, in an undeserved word of hope.

And then there were the starfish. They were alive. I found one, then another, then another. When I came upon the first one, my heart stopped and I crouched down above it. I thought it might be dead and then as I waited I saw that it was moving with an ever persistent, yet seemingly still pace back towards the ocean, which was reaching its long arms from stretching and thinned out waves only a few feet away. Then the starfish reached up one of its legs, curling it up into the air with slow control, like a graceful dancer, and I decided to help it. I picked it up and it began to curl itself backwards over my hand, and fighting my every urge in my creeped out being, I set about tossing it as far as I was able back into the waves. And then I did the same with the next and the next.

And about that time the Spirit inside of me seemed to speak about those starfish. See how they are on the edge of this ocean. Alive and crawling ever so slowly towards something great. And they are creations, given life and strength and everything they need to live and move and have their being by their Creator God. And God made it so that they could enjoy this big and beautiful ocean, far bigger and greater than they. And they are crawling. And I felt myself realizing that I am crawling with God. The things I had prayed about myself and who I am felt so heavy leaving my lips, like I had prayed these things about change a hundred million times. And to see all of those little legs on the bottom of that starfish moving ever so slowly and beautifully towards that great ocean felt like my walk with God every single day. And that’s what it’s supposed to be. I wish for God to pick me up and toss me into his greatness, that would be a lot easier. But he gave me these little legs to make little strides, with him, by his strength each and every day and to seek his vast greatness and glory before me.

I stood facing the ocean, thankful for the starfish. For our talk. For the picture of myself that gave me peace about what to do with where I am and who I am. I knew my adventure was felt complete that morning. With all I had taken in and discovered and enjoyed, it was there looking at those starfish that I myself felt captured up. God found me there and I let him show me what he saw about me. And I believed him. With that peace, I knew I could go away from this morning journey and get back to my life, crawling and inch towards my big and great God and enjoying the many more adventures he has planned for me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm in the South

It's not like the scenery is even much to take a picture of here in the flat Piedmont, but when I am here it feels like it must be my favorite place in the world. Not favorite like a resort on Kannapali beach on Maui. Not favorite like the beach house at Wild Dunes. Not favorite like travels to Europe and Asia that we always dream about for down the road. More like favorite because it feels so good. Favorite because home is more special to me than most anything.

This is the longest amount of time I have spent here in a very long time, and not having been here in over a year, I am filling each day with as much southern bliss as I can. I have taken a lot of pictures and want to share what has been going on so far.

Mom and I arrived Friday night with all three kids after a much needed layover in Chicago for a happy meal, ring around the rosy (until Grace threw up) and changing lots of diapers.

Saturday we spent most of the day hearing shrieks of "Cassie!" and "Pepper!" although they mostly prefer to refer to both dogs as Cassie. The girls visited with Pop and Uncle T (my brother Travis) a while that morning and then we took the girls to my favorite park, Freedom Park, just across the street from the Geneva Court house I grew up in. It's not the closest one to my parents' house now, but it's the only place I wanted to bring the girls.

Sunday brought a slew of family members: Grandma Doris, Aunt Ruthie, Aunt Becky, and Uncle Pace. The girls were angels, which was a little confusing since they usually take a while to adjust, but I'll take angel over handful for sure.

Monday morning we all went to play at Granddaddy and Gram's house, the highlight being the kitty cat and the yoga exercise ball in the backyard. The lowlight being the 10 or so quarter sized mosquito bites I got on my legs. This pic is of Kanah playing with an old set of doll furniture at Grandmother Chandler's that I used to play with. These are the kinds of flooding memories and feelings I like to be surprised with when I come here. And to watch them play with something I played with is mesmerizing. I also got to go out with my super busy little brother Travis, aka Uncle T (you can see me making a T with my two forarms, like we do for the girls when he's around).

Tuesday Salem and I headed to Grandma Doris' place. She drowns me in refreshments when I come over, which I love. We had good conversations about most of our family members, what she is doing these days (mostly making visits to people at church), and a good dialogue about the concept of "dropping in" in the south. NWers just don't do that. She rolled around on the floor w/ Salem and I got some great shots. I mostly just liked listening to her accent and anticipating her next question - she is greaaaat at questions. (Which you know I love).

Tuesday evening I got to hang out with some of my favorite people in the world: Robbi, Janet, Ali and Rian Fischer. I don't even know what to write about them b/c it will fall short. Let's just say I felt incredibly blessed that they let me come over and just banter back and forth for a while. xoxo to them.

And today...Jason got here!!! Yay! He's glad to be here. I like to see him on vacation b/c he's a different person. He's only three hours into his trip and already he's off having lunch w/ a friend. It will be a continual worldwind but we love it.

More to come...!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I am the Lord's servant

So I'm in Luke. The book of Luke in the Bible, that is. I realized as soon as I wrote "I'm in Luke" that that is such a Christian thing to say but sounds so normal unless you have no idea what the Bible is all about. Anyhow, I just got going and it seems every time I am reading there's a one liner that sidetracks me for like seven days. So I'll tell you about two of them and they are both about the ever popular Ms Mary, who I have really become a big fan this week.

I have to tell you, quickly, how I generally have felt about Jesus' mother Mary up until now. She was a teen virgin from a small town with not a lot going on until this crazy important job of being pregnant with God was given to her. I have always respected her and admired her response to this overwelming responsibility but I also have kind of kept my distance from her. It annoys me big time how the church freaks out over her. All the statues and paintings and hail marys, yada yada. I think if she were here today she'd kind of be embarrassed actually. There is a church near my house called Mary Queen of Peace. I don't get it. One time I stopped a church in Florida called Mary Queen of the Universe just to go in and see how wacky it was. It totally baffles me how a story that is so awe-inspiring about how Jesus who was GOD decided to humble himself from all of his glory on a throne and become a man - even more, a baby - so that he could live among us, give his life away, and then die undeservingly to give us a way back into reconciled relationship with him -- how, that story then got twisted to become about Mary being God's mom who has special powers is DISTORTED and actually more directly, Satanic. Okay. Slight tangent. Big picture: I think in being so annoyed with Christians who are strangely all about Mary, I have avoided paying much attention to her at all.

All that said, here are two amazing revelations I got while studying Luke's story of Mary...

When Mary found out that she was chosen for the honor that no one else in human history would ever be charged with - being the mother of Jesus, who was God - she responded ultimately with a line that stopped me from casually reading steadily through the verses. She said in Luke 1:28 -


And then she said "May it be to me as you have said." I know I have read that story like a zillion times. Everyone has pretty much. But this time it feels like God read it outloud to me because I kind of got chills.

Mary is looking at her sovereign God in the face and saying, Okay. I know that you ordain my life and all my days and this is what you have decided for me, and I am your servant, so I accept what you have for me and I will do it. It is just such a crazy amazing response to God! It immediately made me look at my life, jot down one liners of little things that are hard or overwelming or seemingly impossible in my life that he has allowed into the responsibility of my hands and then after each one I wrote in response "I am the Lord's servant."

I have three children under age three...
I don't really have any free time to myself but...
I am a stay at home mom, which doesn't get much glory but...
It is very difficult to have good character with the relational stress I am under but...
I am tempted to only be graceful and kind when it is returned to me but...

My list could go on with a hundred things. I tend to make so much of my life about what works for me or what is beneficial to me, but when it comes down to it, I am the Lord's servant. That is my first duty. And not out with rolled eyes and dragging feet or out of obligation. I GET to be the Lord's servant. I get to know him and be known by him, which is the greatest relationship of all. Words can't do justice to what that means to me.

A little bit later in the chapter after Mary visits Elizabeth, there is a song that starts off, "Mary said:". Yes just those two words stopped me. In response to all of this news, the pregnancy, the sharing of news with Elizabeth, the probable ridicule from some of the people in her life, Mary SPOKE. She had a SONG on her lips. And her words were praise and glory to the Lord.

I was telling Jason this today on our date and was relating it to our lives and he said, "I wonder what people would say our song is for our lives right now." When people ask how we are doing or when they see our kids and say silly things like, "Wow, you have your hands full," what do we say? What is our song that we chant? Do we say things like, "Yeah it's wild, I'm hanging on" or do we use our words, the song of our lives, to reflect praise to the God that gave US life and our children life and brought into existence this beautiful family that we get to love and raise and enjoy for years and years to come? What do we say?

What is the song on your lips that you sing about your life? I'll have to watch and think about my own. I don't want my song to be a series of complaints and disdainful comments about the precious blessings in my lives. I want to have a song. Lord put it on my lips. Let me sing it for you. My one request is that it not be insincere, but full of truth in my heart as I say it. When I think about my life and what you have done I want to also say,

"My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I never thought I would be into

Lately I seem to be thinking and/or saying "I didn't USED to think I'd be into ___ but now I totally am" so I started making a list...

Here are some things I never thought I would be into...

1. VANS. This has to be number one. My friends who went before me in the kid arena totally fell for it and I was their biggest critic. When the girls were on the way I got over it in about five seconds flat when I realized what rough traveling road was ahead. Automatic doors, low seating, movable seats and rows, and a jet engine none of your cars can beat at a stoplight overturned my stubborn ways. Odyssey, here's to you. (Kalle and Shawn - you are so going to give in one day. Keep saying no way and I'll keep smiling).

2. CROCS. They have GOT to be the ugliest shoes known to man. UGLY. But two things overturned my ways. One. They came out with a babydoll version and my friend Jamie had some and I fell in love with them on her. She bought me a pair and I couldn't take them off. Secondly and more convincingly I am now obsessed with them b/c this summer they have been the easiest and most versital shoes to throw on the girls' feet. Playground, water day, or long walk - they work for everything. And the girls love them. Thank you UGLY CROCS!

3. HIGH HEELS. Staying on the shoe newly bought high heels are the social envy of my closet. I can't really even glance at my other shoes b/c they are all shiny and fancy free sitting there on the floor and the rest of my shoes are kind of a shameful sight. I buy a pair like once every six months and I am kind of a grandma about them being comfy and friendly to my arch. In case some of you were wondering from my other post about these one hit wonders in my possession, here's a pic of them being worn by Grace.

4. CAR DVD PLAYERS. I was suuuuuper judgemental about this one. I was that mom who was all about not having a dvd player going in the car, even on long road trips, because I was just going to tell them no and they would play happily with something else! Haaaaaaa!!! Three kids later and loooots of tears and tantrums later I have realized that it is very very very difficult to entertain an antsy toddler in the car, from the front seat, while keeping a seat belt on and being carsick free (since you are looking backwards so much). So. We bought a portable dvd player with a bar that hangs it between our seats in the front. Life got a LOT better. For those of you having those same judging thoughts right this minute...I've got lots of grace for you and it totally doesn't bother me at all b/c I can remember why I felt that way. We'll just have to disagree ;).

5. MCDONALDS. I really think McDonalds was a divinely inspired deal. The food. The playgym. The icecream (well that's for me). Oh and now they're geniouses and have sweet tea. I could go to a McD drive through JUST for the sweet tea now, even if all my kids were totally over being in the car for five more minutes. Also, eating out with kids turns out to be a huge nightmare. One baby...not so bad (when we take Salem on vaca with us, we feel like we're kid free). But all three - crazy crazy hilarious (if you let yourself laugh) nightmare. I am a realist - no sugaring this one. So McDonalds is nice - it just always works. And I just don't want to know what's in the nuggets, fries or dips. Tell me in ten years.

6. SUNSCREEN. When I was younger I remember my hatred for this. I would ask my mom for the lowest number she could find. The sheer act of rubbing a slimy texture all over me totally grossed me out - that part kind of still does. But now I am slightly obsessed with dousing my kids and also the funniest part is that they wear like #60 and instead of searching for the #30, I just use theirs too. I literally have no care in the world for a dark suntan anymore. I have never been to a tanning bed and it will NEVER make this list. Promise.

7. KIDS CDS. I smile big time writing this. I currently have about 5 cds in my car dvd player. I think one of them is Hillsong - a Christian band. The others include Wee Bible songs and cds that go with books on counting and colors. I totally don't mind them. In fact if it gets rough in the car, I blast them and sing along. I can't believe it doesn't bother me. Never saw that one coming.

Okay...those are just a few. I know there are a zillion more because as years go by and different things become important to you, you change what you're okay with and what you like. However I must say I should probably come up with another list b/c I think there must be a pretty long "Stubborn List" of things I will never ever change my mind about ;)