Monthly Archives: May 2011

today: the big 32

blessed is this life and I’m gonna celebrate being alive
Brett Dennen

Last year, I wrote a list of lessons learned to celebrate my birthday, and that seems like a good annual post idea… I hit the big 3-2 today, and tonight my mom will tell me over dinner how she walked the golf course with my dad on Memorial Day in 1979, not realizing it would prompt the baby she carried to decide to come a few weeks early. I’m told I arrived feisty and unimpressed with life, but I think I found my gait. Today has reminded me I am so, so loved, and I believe it. Between my Facebook and text messages, my phone has not stopped buzzing all day long. Bridget and Heather shared beautiful blogs. My sisters ran with me; Randy took me to lunch. Collin and I will go on a double date with my parents tonight. Life is beautiful; I am content. Some learnings from this year…

1.32 isn’t old.
2. Error on the side of grace.
3. We love because he first loved us isn’t just a nice Bible verse; it’s potent and powerful, and it makes love possible.
4. Sometimes the hardest things and the right things are the same (um, yes, that was the Fray singing in my ear). That’s ok.
5. Plane tickets are tiny investments when the yield nurtures friendships. I learn and relearn this with every trip.

6. It’s a good idea to have little kids in your circle of friends; they bring love, joy, light and life. And they endlessly, endlessly, endlessly shine in my life. (And so do their parents.)

7. When he looks you in the face and says, “I don’t want to leave things undefined,” not leaving things undefined is a great idea.
8. Inviting your best friends and family into your relationship keeps things honest and grows things outward.
9. Time spent reading is never a loss.
10. I love teaching at weddings.
11. I love photographing births.
12. Being a business owner is hard work, but the payoff is beyond monetary when clients become friends. I am amazed at how this happens time and again.
13. Jesus is in the business of healing and redemption; he loves it when we participate with him in that.
14. Being outside everyday prevents depression.
15. New running shoes- every four months.
16. To paraphrase the words of Ann Voskamp, thanks always precedes the miracle. Practice thanksgiving.
17. (Confidential to Heather), things may never slow down, (especially in the year of a family wedding!) but oh the beauty in the fullness…

18. A gentle hand on a newborn baby chest almost always quiets a baby to sleep.
19. Looking does not always equate seeing.
20. Great concerts are worth the investment.
21. Waiting is worth it.
22. Letting someone love you is worth the vulnerability. On both sides.

23. I still don’t have it all figured out. God still wants me to join him in bringing light and life. And he wants you to too. And he wants us to do it in community because we see through a dim glass, but you next to me looks more like him. I love that.
24. The best stories need to be told and retold, (and that is why I’ll never be out of work).
25. Our bodies deserve the time and energy it takes to learn to eat well and exercise.
26. I really am a runner. And I can’t imagine life without running.
27. Hope. Relentlessly. Always.
28. When work starts to feel mundane, self-impose some challenges… it grows confidence and skill…
29. Having my little brothers over is never a bad way to fill a quiet Saturday night.
30. Neither is spending it alone with a good book.
31. Justice is worth the pursuit.
32. Humility is a lifelong lesson to be learned.

That said, the people in my life utterly humble me. Thank you for loving me and walking with me and celebrating with me and calling out the best in me. Drop a line as time allows. Much love.


tonight: she

I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
-John Newton (Aretha sings it powerfully here.)

she, that girl crouched to catch light
she furrows brow and lingers to look
she learns that looking doesn’t always see
and in a world that objectifies and victimizes (and mesmerizes and glorifies)
she stumbles upon truth while hunkered low
love filters sight just so
light captures
beauty captivates
truth emerges
slowing down to speed up shutter
in spite of so much broken, battered, aching
hope emerges: she looks, slows to see
and oh, it grows

she scribbles notes on pages to remember
stacks them in corners
years later, they still yield a heart ever, ever longing for surrender

today: the word I know (by heart)

let’s conspire to ignite
all the souls that would die just to feel alive


I stay up too late reading Harry Potter, again, and find frustration in eyes that stall their way towards awake when the alarm rings. The morning routine is just that, almost rote and certainly familiar. Coffee. Emails. Breakfast. Bible. God. Me. I do the work I can only to find some work will have to be put off another day. I procrastinate on updating my books, though the tax man will force a race to catch up come June. It is a day, just a day. Photographs and friends. Running and food. Phone calls and text messages. The story of a day.

Some days I feel my knees buckle at the mundane-ness of it all. Didn’t God whisper “go,” time and again? And yet here I am. I know that word by heart: Go. It is plane tickets and journals, guitars and shoestring budgets. It is language without words and ever-trumping fears with unwavering and wavering trust. That word? Go? It is my catalyst.

And yet here my roots grow guzzling rain and basking in sun. The longer I am here the greater the hope I have for, well, here. It’s not that I want to stay. That’s not my word at all. It’s just that the mundane is filled with people and relationship and conversation and simplicity, and here I work out salvation with fear and trembling by doing life, day in and day out in community.

They come over and make a slideshow. A friend walks with me and my dog. He rides his bicycle. My sister emails and another calls. I reschedule a lunch, marveling: today is too full!

And that is stretching, a different sort of catalyst, I suppose. These people throw their lots in with mine, and they look at me and love me. And they are flesh to His word; they are grace upon grace upon grace to me. I think I know why John wrote the first chapter of his gospel so poetically.

I stay up too late with these musings inspired by the boy who lived (oh how Harry Potter inspires me: leadership, friendship, love conquering death, a reality bigger than what is seen) to think about life beyond here and let my mind wander down paths of what if. Staying, leaving, knowing, being…word becoming flesh time and again. It gets quiet at night, and the silence allows pause and a glimpse into the fullness that is here. And that makes me wonder what happens next.

Incomplete thoughts perhaps, but more to come. I don’t pretend to have much of anything figured out, but I’m not bumbling around aimlessly either. That, I think, is grace.

tonight: a week wherein weak

“The days here are simple, and I keep looking.
Blessings can be shy things, coming in disguise.”

-Ann Voskamp

Stories to tell and words to process. In due time, I suppose, for my days find themselves as full as my mother’s bookshelves, and they overflow with stacks of worn pages just like hers: God and people and photographs and wonder and miles and curiosity and love and travel and words and books and hunger and… well, time eludes.

a week wherein weak and
oh aware: i need, i need, i need
and oh the invitation: breathe.
staunch in desire, flight away and then
horizon and oh i see
this: hands guiding and hearts hearing
and lips praying and healing, oh there is healing
a week wherein reprieved and
oh there: stare, stare, stare
silent in wonder, flight away and then
across from long-distance friend in an rv (of all places)
i see this: faithful to the story written
before a word was on my tongue
before then? already free?
promised. yes, indeed.
oh aware: be, be, be
loved and wanted and gift and given
and hungry, ever hungry for more, more, more
a week wherein weak
but oh, i see this:
dim glass, light filtering and suddenly, beautifully:
clearly seen.

tonight: the ones about new life

“Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything.”
-William MacNeile Dixon

The weight of that baby girl when they placed her in my hands
felt not like other baby girls I captured with camera lens
Hers, the life I watched emerge, stirred my very soul,
storyteller I’d always known
as myself finding new longing
to tell better stories, the ones about new life.

In March, I photographed a birth, and it moved me unexpectedly. I have a few more coming up and am hoping to grow as a birth photographer. Tonight, though, I’m just thankful for the experience, as it amazed and awed me, the way life happens. It amazes and awes me that I get to bear witness. Wow.

tonight: perfectly isn’t perfect

“It’s true, there are days, the endless noise, it deafens and numbs. But then, in these unexpected nudges of silence….a stirring awake”
Ann Voskamp

some days: unsure footing and the exchange of harsh words
unintentional and yet weighty forcing
evaluation and conversation and miles beneath feet
some days: sureness emerges with the recognition of things learned
slowing down and peering with child’s eyes recognizing
doing life has little to do with perfection and much to do with living
perfectly alive, which isn’t all that perfect
but oh, it is good. so good.
some days we wake up and taste glory because we know ourselves feeble
and shrug shoulders and yield to the greatness of life, gifted
reconciling harsh words with gentle belief
we are less fragmented in the midst of this greater Whole
and in light of that truth, life’s brevity does not threaten
but stretches and invites this eternal kind of life


today: these very small things

“…the robins are singing, you know the way they sing? like the world is a cathedral, and they, the only choir…”
Emily, my faraway friend

It’s in the simplest moments that I settle down and believe. And in these quiet moments, knowing love shows me how to love. Today, that looked like
ten commandments and coffee
sister’s wedding photos producing a medley of memory on the computer screen
feet pressing ground in spite of thick air
lunchtime conversation on a shaded patio, hidden from Dallas busy even in the midst of it
bright bangles just because
the dog and forced, needed time outside, away
hands absorbed by bread before baking (and it tasted good!)
avocados just right for guacamole, lemon in place of lime
mamas and babies more and more
forehead kisses and errands
when it rained, it poured, so he went in for both of us
swallowed by his hoodie at the end of day
hot tea. home. and contentment.

It seems so little, and I don’t know what the next page holds or the next. I felt God’s gentle leading all day long- in these very small things. And I know there are big dreams for changing the world. And that they matter. Today, though, he loved me here, in the midst of the mundane. I don’t have everything figured out at all, and yet his kindness turns my face to his time and again. Even after all these years, still I’m amazed. Even after all these years, he keeps changing me.

And maybe this post and the last are joining with amazing Ann, who teaches and teaches and teaches me to clean the lens through which I see. Thankfuly thank-full.