Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Goal of the Photographer

Sunday: Quiet

Church curtains blowing quiet in the breeze...When we're all singing in unity hymns of the faith, or listening intently to the sermon, it's like the breath of Heaven flowing through. 

Monday: Yellow

Pretty yellow flowers on my plant. Do you see the teeny tiny cucumber forming?

Tuesday: Distance

My dad had an early doctor appointment at the VA this morning. Wind was blowing, dust was flying, but we saw the sun in the distance working its way through the haze. 

Wednesday: On My Table

I thought about cleaning this up before I took the photo, but this is us. Jonathan's laptop where he does his dad's snack pastry and Hawaiian rolls he likes so much...water, a cup left out for later, the centerpiece where we keep salt, pepper, toothpicks in a John Deere dispenser, my Nutritional Yeast I love on my morning eggs...Jonathan's black salt (he likes different colors of salt)...Hot chocolate for John's sauce for my dad...a candle I like to light for dinnertime when I remember...Whew! What a combination! In the evening, we clear stuff off, set the table, eat, and talk about our day as a family. 

Thursday: Shop Front

This morning was spent at the specialty hospital with my dad who was getting a CT scan done on his shoulder due to immense pain. Tonight's church service was cancelled due to high winds, so I didn't have much opportunity to find a store front to photograph. I saw this one online on one of the design sites I use for graphics and loved it. The sign says,
 "Jesus and tomatoes coming soon." What's not to love about that?

Friday: Break Time

Break time today is lunch with my dad watching HGTV for a bit. While he's having a banana sandwich, I'm making myself an omelet cooked in coconut oil, stuffed with Laughing Cow cheese alongside 1/2 an avocado. 
It's comfort food on this dreary, very windy day. 

Saturday: Sky

Jonathan and I needed to go to the store today, and afterwards, we chased some clouds.
 It actually rained today! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Significant Bit of Life

"A click of the shutter, a crank of the film, and you've caught forever a significant bit of life."-Willis Peterson 

Here's my 'significant bit of life' in the past week:

Sunday: Wall

My dad and I were traveling on the way back from GA. We were there for a memorial service for my aunt who passed away with cancer. We were surrounded by trees acres thick during our travels this week. I loved all the greenery! 

Monday: Box

My Aunt Maye (one of dad's older sisters who shares a lot of their childhood stories with us) had this box for who knows how long. She didn't remember where she got it, but said I could have it to give to Jonathan--collector of treasure boxes, lover of all things old, and seeker of family history. 

Tuesday: Dawn

I love opening the living room blinds in the early morning to look out at the roses. 

Wednesday: Dusk

"Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under." -C. Joybell C.
(Photo taken from my backyard)

Thursday: A Happy Place

Last night as I was watering the grass, the scent of honeysuckle was wafting through the air. I could smell them this morning as Jonathan and I were planting morning glory seeds in the backyard. We planted this honeysuckle a few years ago, and they just started blooming this year like this. When I go outside and inhale the sweet fragrance, I feel happy for all that's growing and blooming this season. 

Friday: Sleepy

In the afternoon when it's too hot to move, this girl gets sleepy and finds a bit of shade to pass the time away. 

Saturday: Break Time

John and Jonathan have been busy doing homework all morning, I've been catching up on laundry, and my dad's been doing office work at his desk. All 4 of us came together in the kitchen to enjoy lunch and break time together. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Surrender Your Heart

I have been thinking on this topic over the last few weeks. This is a continuation of a series on a Sabbath Journey and it's been just that - a journey. Growing up in church, of course I knew Sunday was considered a Sabbath and a 'day of rest', but always being in the ministry as a child and as an adult, Sunday never seemed to be a day to rest with church responsibilities. So what is one to do if Sunday just isn't that day to set aside? "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God", Hebrews 4:9. Ok--so if not Sunday, when? An argument could me made that Sunday has to be the Sabbath or rest day, the first day of the week.This generation is a 24/7 society. Including, it seems, 'church culture' with programs, outreaches, and activities. For those in ministry, it's a busy day. I've heard stories of days gone by when time seemed to stand still on Sundays..for saints and the not-so-saintly alike. No longer are stores closed on Sunday. You can buy any thing, at any time, on any day. One was practically forced into rest over years gone by, seemingly, and now-a-days, we really have to make time for it--to make it a priority, set boundaries, and fulfill it. Society isn't helping us out here on this one these days. I read that Americans are the most depressed people of all. How can that be when we have nearly everything at our fingertips at all times? 

I can say that it's just not right to find another day other than Sunday to "Sabbath" or rest...To come away from the daily norm in the middle of the week and make a day of rest different. I'm not focusing so much on a particular day, really, but just a day to let go of my agenda and let God fill it with His purpose for the downtime. There's no equation or formula to solve; it's about building and maintaining a relationship with the Rest Giver. I realize we have busy seasons in our life, and if that's the case right now, how do we find a rhythm or moments to incorporate time to give to God to renew us?  And what does it look like? Do I do nothing all day? Is gardening restful activity? Is watching a movie restful? A nap? A walk in the park? Time together with family? What defines it? Am I to read my Bible all day?  Is there a rule book? A few synonyms for the word 'rest': break, breather, doze, interlude, intermission, refreshment, relaxation, stillness, tranquility, linger, pause, remain...and my very favorite, 'at anchor'. Ohhhhh, I love that mental picture. 

On the other hand, I can say that when Christ came, He came to set us free from the law and from ritualistic behavior. In Matthew 12, Christ plucked ears of corn on the Sabbath so the disciples had something to eat and the Pharisees went ballistic (my words, not Matthew's...just to be clear). Christ healed in the synagogue a man with a withered hand. And Christ was accused of breaking the law. Christ asked that if any one of them had sheep, and if one fell in a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn't someone go rescue it? Christ then drove home his point when He challenged them over whether man was more important than sheep. And if they would rescue a lamb, wasn't it of more significance that Christ was rescuing men?  Christ rescued the disciples and healed a man and stated that it was "lawful to do well on the sabbath days"  -Matthew 12:12. Back in verse 8, He said,"For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day." So the Pharisees were basically telling Jesus (Creator of Sabbath) what it was supposed to look like. 

I think the main point here is that 'Sabbath' is a heart issue. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life". I can say, "I have no time to rest. I'll be fine. I can do this." I don't give myself permission to rest out of ..what? Guilt? Pride? Fear?  Then I am not resting in Him at all..whether physically or spiritually because I then believe I am self-sufficient. "If I don't do it, no one else will." "It just won't get done." When we take a physical break from life's pressures, we can separate ourselves from life's problems and lean on God's perspective. Maybe I get confused on which direction to go because I don't stop long enough to hear the still small voice. Or maybe I don't stop long enough because I'm afraid of what I might hear. I want to be useful, wanted, needed, productive...but is that sense of identity found in Christ? or in man's approval? On what or whom is my heart focused? God set the example of a 24/6 way of living out of love. We are called out to be separate, yet we try to run and keep up with the world's man-made schedule. In ministry as well - am I doing so much for God that I don't have time to be with Him? And if I'm doing so much for Him, that I don't find time to be with Him, then I have over-committed myself and I need to take a step back or away from a few things to find a proper balance. If I say I want God in charge of my life, then I should mean that I want Him in charge of my minutes. And any second I dedicate to God, whether it be in work or in rest, it is not wasted when I leave the ultimate outcome to Him. 

Sabbath Rest - day 7, Sunday, or another day of the week--  setting apart to acknowledge God's plan for my life is imperative. It is there where I lay down excuses and burdens. There will always be one more thing to do. Always. And I have to humbly let things go undone before I unravel. "Over time, a lack of rest leads to a wilting capacity", Shelly Miller, Rhythms of Rest. "..On the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." Exodus 31:13b  

I go back to Sabbath rest being a heart issue. It's about trusting God to fulfill, transform, and renew. He didn't intend for our lives to be as a run on sentence with no pauses. As pauses are important in Grammar structure, so are pauses in our physical, emotional and spiritual structure as well. Pauses in public speaking are vital for communication between speaker and audience. Alan Alda stated, “It is the stuff between the lines that makes it a great performance.” (I think of Bob Newhart here!)... God's message to us isn't just conveyed by His words, but also through pauses we take in our lives given by Him. And it isn't moments of 'nothing'. God uses a Sabbath rest strategically, as a tool to help us build connection between the Creator and the created. When we hand over our time to Him, it gives us time to process what He has to say to us in those moments. A Sabbath rest keeps us engaged and enables us to follow Him in what comes next. And in music? "The music is in between the notes, not in the notes", R. Fripp. 

Some start a Sabbath on the weekend and take a complete break from all things internet and social media for 24 hours. I've read that others for a 24 hour period of time use paper plates only when dining and live on leftovers. No cooking, no dishes to wash. They plan ahead preparing their home and heart for a period of rest. People go for walks. They read a book. They pray and meditate. They nap. They sing. They go dig around in their garden for the sheer pleasure of it. It's doing well on a day of rest. I think the "rule" is that it's all about grace. It shows grace and compassion for others when we rest and it honors our own selves in the same way. "For thus saith the LORD GOD, the Holy one of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength..."-Isaiah 30:15 -- "In returning (to Him) and rest shall ye be saved"...I like that. What does a Sabbath Rest, time set apart/holy unto God look like to me? I don't know yet.  I'm seeking God over what He wants it to look like for me. What restores me? What causes me to be at rest? My first-born/over-doer/people-pleaser self doesn't have an answer yet for that, but I do know that it needs to come from a place of humility and from the heart in sincerity. 

Already God has shown us what is good and what He requires: to do justly (for others and ourselves), love mercy (for others and for ourselves), and to walk humbly with Him. (Micah 6:8). I believe right there is what the surrendering the heart is all about. 

"What we pour into our soul today may seem inconsequential, yet it will provide a stabilizing anchor for the future", Shelly Miller, Rhythms of Rest.

Links to previous posts on this Sabbath Rest study:

Surrender to Rest (introduction)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What We Look For

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. ... In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.” ― John LubbockThe Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In

Although John Lubbock was influenced by Charles Darwin and by his evolutionary world view, I do like the quote. I have one friend in particular who is doing this photo challenge with me and I love to see her different point of view on the day's photo subject. I've mentioned previously in a different 'photo blog' post that this is a great way for me to record the see what I can see in a day- in a different way. I may be having a bad day, but keeping on track with this helps me to at least look take a moment outside of any problems I may be facing, to look for the good. Still catching up from my traveling and I should be caught up (on photo posts, that is) after this post of last week's photos. 

Sunday: A Good Thing

Peaches! Always a good thing. These don't grow very big. When they ripen, the ladies from our church in Mexico pick them and divide them up between the families. 

Monday: Gratitude

Today marks the 100th day in the year and the theme is "Gratitude". I wonder of these 100 days, how many of them have I lived grateful? Today, I'm grateful for the freedom to travel, for the open roads leading us to be with family for a memorial service. My dad and I left yesterday heading to GA to be with family for the service on Friday. An aunt of mine (wife to my dad's brother, Carl) passed away due to cancer. I'm reminded to not take for granted family and friends while they are still here to love and appreciate. 

Tuesday: Imagine

On days like this, I'd like to sprawl out like a child on the grass, look up at the age old trees and puffy clouds, and just let my imagination loose. Today's theme is a reminder that I need to make the time to rest and even dream a little. 

Wednesday: Favorite Color

Back home in El Paso, we don't have green like this. So rich and vibrant it is out here in GA and I love this type of scenery. My Uncle Carl and Aunt Lula Mae worked this land to make it what it is and I could sit here for hours just enjoying this view. 

Thursday: Hat

Here's my dad and his favorite hat as of late. We were able to meet up with my sister-in-law,  3 nieces, and a nephew (my brother had to work) for breakfast at IHOP and had such a good visit. Abbie (the girl in the dress) said she wore her flower dress because she heard from Callie (her older sister) that I liked flowers. So sweet and thoughtful. Loved seeing them today!! 

Friday: Shelf

When we visit family in GA, we normally stay with my dad's sister Madeline. Tonight, though, we're staying with one of dad's older sisters, Maye, who lives close to the funeral home where the memorial service will be. She and her twin Faye tell the best childhood stories about the 9 of them. We poured over scrapbooks of family history she recorded and she told about each page she had carefully put together. She's been a widow for a year now and is carving out a new life with a new home just the right size for her. I was thrilled to know she likes the Pioneer Woman as well, and that she has some of her pretty dishes to grace her new table. A visit with her is always a treat, and my dad and I enjoyed our visit immensely. 

Saturday: Stationary

Here's where a creative twist comes in. I wasn't home to photograph any favorite writing stationary, so I had to think a little bit differently. The memorial service for my aunt was yesterday and my dad and I left this morning heading for home. We made it to Pearl, MS for the night and it feels good to be 'stationary' for a bit to rest. We were back and forth visiting with family every day this last week (I drove in Atlanta traffic and lived to tell about it) and we were in the car quite a bit. We don't regret making the 27 hour drive from TX to GA (and back!) and we're grateful for the opportunity to be there with family during this time. If you think of it, please pray for my Uncle Carl, his two daughters and one son (all grown) who are grieving and working to sort out a life without the rock of the family. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Setting the Stage

Setting the stage:  1) Lit. to arrange a stage for an act or scene of a production.  2) Fig. to prepare something for some activity.

To me, having a photo theme for the day is similar to that of 'setting the stage' or preparing for some activity. I see it as a way to prepare for a blessing through noticing something I may not have paid attention to before. It gets my 'creative juices' going as I look to see something in a different light as well. 

I was away for a week due to traveling for a family member's funeral. My dad and I left in a hurry and I didn't post last week's photos. I still continued the challenge while traveling, and will share those in another blog post. Here are the next pictures in the photo challenge series (April 2-8): 

Sunday: Midday

Girls piling in the back of our truck waiting for a ride home from church --We don't always have a group of kids, but when we do, it's a happy mess of chatter and giggles. 

Monday: Dark

When bananas go dark, it's time for banana bread! 
Most times, I freeze them to bake with later. 

Tuesday: Handwriting

When Jonathan was in 5th grade, he learned a bit of Calligraphy during his Handwriting course. Ever since then, he has loved different styles of writing and loves to practice. He has several sets of special pens he likes to experiment with. Even now as a college student, he still loves to practice fancy penmanship. Here, he had been experimenting with different pen tips I had bought to use with my Cricut machine and I saw this
 note card on my desk today. 

Wednesday: Bedside

These plants are by my dad's bedside where the morning sun comes in. Any plant that's struggling, I put in this window in the "infirmary". I ask my dad to talk to the plants so they'll heal, and every time, he laughs. He likes the plants in his room, though, and the view of his 1948 Ford truck out front. 

Thursday: Vegetable

It just fascinates me that I can cut the tail end of a (store-bought) scallion, place it in water to root for a few days, and then plant it outside in my container garden I have out front. These were just bulbs last week, and here they are ready to plant. 

Friday: Someone You Love

Well now, I couldn't resist posting this shot of my dad smelling the roses. 

Saturday: On Your Plate

It's BLT wraps! I may or may not have snagged a few pieces of bacon to snack on before assembling this simple meal. I don't even miss the bread. The freshness of the lettuce, coolness of the tomatoes, and the salty crunch of bacon is perfection. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Picture This

Remember when we had to buy rolls of film? And remember when film strips would come with the photos when they came back from being printed? I remember not knowing if a picture would come out right until after they were printed. No reviewing. No editing. No deleting. You got what you got. I can't remember the last time I picked up an honest to goodness 'old fashioned' camera. All my photos are taken now from my cell phone. Technology!...I do have a digital camera, but it's been sitting in the closet for some time now. My dad used to take a lot of photos and develop them himself when I was little. He had made a dark room in part of our garage and always had ink stains on his hands from that and from being a printer by trade. If I close my eyes and think real hard, I can almost still smell the chemicals and ink. Good memories. 
--Here's this week in photos. 

Sunday: Seat

The oldest and the youngest adult in the church taking a seat outside after church
to enjoy the nice breeze. 

Monday: My Everyday

My every day is about keeping a home for all 3 of my guys; my husband, my son, and my dad. It takes work. It takes rearranging schedules to be there for each other. It takes creativity, peacemaking, forgiveness, and love. Matthew 6:11a, "Give us this day our daily bread".... Lord, give me today just what I need. Not just in earthly food. But also the right amount of substance and grace to keep this home a place where everyone here feels safe, loved, and wanted. Bread freshly made this afternoon.  

Tuesday: Grey

It's a cool day today on the Borderland with grey clouds on the horizon. 
View from my backyard this morning (facing west).

Wednesday: Hands

This is one of my favorite photos. It was taken in Maine in 2006 when we were on deputation. Jonathan was 'having the time of his life!', as he put it. Oh to be uninhibited as a child who can raise his hands in sheer joy and praise. I'm a bit self-conscious and worry too much over what others think. Jonathan didn't care what others thought this day. He ran, he splashed, he laughed, he kicked up his feet and hollered for joy. And he spread that joy all over us because joy can be contagious like that. I can learn a lot from this child. Even though he's a young adult now, he's still very open and expressive and a light to this family. To lift hands, show joy, and maybe spread some around? 
I want in on that. 

Thursday: You

April 1976- 4 year old me in front of a wall rug we had for forever. We brought it back from Peru and it graced our walls for many years. A lot of family photos were taken in front of this llama. It's "Throw Back Thursday"! 

Friday: Sweet 

Tacos? Sweet? Really?? Well, depends on how you look at it. It's a windy day today, sand flying everywhere, and I'm not feeling well. I was craving something simple to eat that I didn't have to prepare and tacos sounded good. John went out in this crazy weather to satisfy my craving. He told me once that he never claimed to be a nice guy..but this was sweet, sweet, sweet. ((And no, I didn't eat these all by myself.)) Tasty!  

Saturday: Laugh

I liked today's theme and wondered what would come my way that would make me laugh. Sometimes, though, we miss moments just by trying to capture them with some hand held device. While I know this is a 'photo challenge', I took today's theme as more of a suggestion. I put my cell phone/camera down, went outside in the sunshine, and played with my family and our dog. And there was laughing involved. 

Happy Weekend! Hope you find time to go outside, enjoy the sunshine and breezes, and laugh a little. Love, Rebecca