Tag Archives: beauty

today: a Wednesday not so long ago

Some days are about stopping, forced pauses and seeing. Life abounds. God, here.

On A Wednesday not so long ago, I felt walls closing in on questions I could not answer. I lacked sleep and perspective. Blinded to goodness, I staggered through the day, wallowing and grumpy. The sun shone, though, beckoning me outdoors. I leashed the dog and packed my camera. I walked. And I saw. It was a return to gratitude and perspective. Life abounds, God, here.


Today: Heather and Her Beautiful Family

Our friendship really took off when we went to Mazatlan several years ago, Heather and I. Little did we know that one short-term mission trip to Mexico would spur a dozen or so more, shaping the contours of our lives for several years. Little did we know that the ongoing planning of those trips would lead to the ever-growing constancy of a friendship needed and wanted.

Now Heather is one of my best friends. Then she someone I knew slightly and admired. Then she was pregnant with her sixth child. Now Emily is five years old. Heather and her husband, Lee, both turned 40 this year. I took some photographs to be a part of their birthday gift. It’s still a work in progress.

This morning on my run I found myself thinking about Heather and Lee and their family and wanted to write some words about them. The world needs families shaped by moms and dads like these two. They love well: each other and their kids. They parent uniquely. They believe the best about their kids and are unapologetic about calling that out of them. They’re not concerned with convention or status quo; they are concerned about relationship and raising whole children.

I can’t help but think when God dreamed up marriage and family as an answer to the it’s not good for man to be alone problem, he envisioned a family like this one. They are not perfect; but they are beautifully human and life is celebrated and love is the greatest wealth in their inheritance.

In their house there is real food and family around the table at meals. There is laughter spilling from the piano room and filling the whole house as the girls write a song. There are piles of worn books beside a television that I’ve never seen turned on. There are smiles and there are hugs. There is listening. There is learning It’s not that there aren’t fights or disagreements, but when they happen, apologies are the norm and trust is rebuilt. Little children are not intimidated into proper behavior, and older children’s dreams and desires are valued and discussed. It’s not always possible to do everything, but it is always possible to see a child, right where they are and meet them. I think this is the gift Lee and Heather give their kids: they are fully present parents. It’s not that they are perfect, but it is that they choose to show up, time and again. They choose each other. They choose their kids. And then they find ways to choose others too.

In the midst of all this kid-loving, life-celebrating goodness, Heather and Lee both pursue interest and passions of their own too. If your life is focused on the others around you, somehow time finds ways to stretch and make room for music lessons and long runs and date nights. I don’t know how it works, but it does. I think some intentionality might be required and some help from a God who’s way is to discipline the ones he loves. Because in so living, fullness is found.

When I spend time with Heather, I’m reminded that people are gifts and that some of life’s greatest treasures and most beautiful moments are found- and shared- when you encounter someone who lives fully and entrusts and empowers others to do the same. This is the way Lee and Heather illustrate love and life and friendship and family and beauty to their kids and to the world.

I thought about this today and thanked God for my friends. I wanted to write this down to remember and to share, because when you realize you’ve recognized something beautiful you want others to see as well. Because lives like these? They make me hope in a world where families struggle and break all too often. Lives like these are beacons of something different, something more.

They compel hunger while illustrating the way to living full. I love that.

today: 17of28. food and healthcare and budget cuts and life and death (incomplete thoughts)

“…if you live that mindful life, if you began to live a little more simply, a little more humbly, a little more meekly as Christ would put it, you begin to grow as a spiritual human being…”
Matthew Sleeth, MD (wise, wise, wise downwardly mobile guy)

It sickens me that schools will close and lose teachers while stacks of tax dollars pay for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. The whole system is flawed. There, I said it. I’m probably the first one to say it too. I will probably write more about this when I have a bit more time to gather some thoughts, but it breaks my heart that the world God created and called good has been pillaged and purged of resources throughout history, but the West, particularly this American neck of the woods owes the world an apology. We owe ourselves an apology. We have replaced understanding that life is a gift with a sense of entitlement.

We think we ought to live forever, that we ought not grow old, that we ought not be sick and that we ought not have consequences when we make choices that rob us of an alive kind of life.

We distract ourselves with entertainment, with pursuing the next big thing, with more, More, MORE.

We fail to connect the choices we make in our culture of excess with the brokenness of the marginalized in the developing world.

We allow ourselves to remain blind. We choose to be uninformed about what our food (if it’s that) is made of. We neglect simple change that would make us healthier (less technology, better food, more time outside, greater generosity, fewer hours at work).

We choose to let the dollar be the bottom line rather than people. We overspend. We under-invest. We buy more than we need. We give less than we could.

I know these are sweeping generalizations, but our culture and government reflect the above statements.

It makes me sad. I want to be different, more hopeful, more real. Do you? I see all kinds of beauty in the world all the time, and I think we were created and called good to replicate that beauty. Even if it costs us.

I’m reminded of Ezra’s confession when he observes Israel’s failures. He owns it. He confesses it. He grieves it. He prays. He initiates change. He sees God grace. May it be so today.

today: 7of28. of women and accessories

“Love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few years back I had a photo client with daughters who showed up for their session with very large, awkward but obviously handmade bows. They called them hair pretties, and it was a struggle to make said pretties pretty.

There’s something to be said about women and accessories. I’m not the girliest of girls, yet a great belt or headband or pair of boots or hat (especially!) makes me feel a bit more put together if not beautiful. I don’t know why that is. Rob Bell tells a story of women in Auschwitz (I think) being given lipstick in what should have been a box of medical supplies. They were on the verge of death and utterly dehumanized. But they clung to the capsules and painted their lips red. They took back some piece of their dignity, and the impracticality of lipstick for the dying yielded a sliver of redemption: they were very much alive. They still cared.

It’s a mystery, but I get it, and I don’t even wear lipstick most days. We color our eyelids, tie a scarf, pin a brooch and fasten our boots. And to the secure identity, those accessories costume and celebrate what’s internal externally, hair pretties and all.

today: 6of28. Super Bowl Sunday? Nah, just super.

…let me hear the words you say
let’s go and get tangled in chains of golden days…

Golden Days The Damnwells (sorry about the Fray)

Oh Texas winter…

I’m not much of a football fan, so I didn’t pay much attention to the game. It was a good excuse for friends and cards and yummy food. The weather, though? With it’s twists and turns this week, a 50-degree day meant yet another day of photos taken while walking the dog. In all honesty, I was just thankful to be outside in fresh air. It felt like reprieve. It’ll be cold again tomorrow, but the weekend? Glorious.

Today was a day to catch my breath. I feel reconnected to life and plans and purposes. I love the exuberance that anticipation coupled with hope conceive. Life, with all it’s questions and uncertainties? Beautiful.

Stories to come.

Today: Super G’s Super Big Day (how the world became a better place yesterday)

For the past few months, I’ve spent my days supernannying for baby Grant, age six months. He’s my sweetest baby buddy. I love him. A lot. Yesterday was a really big day for little Grant. Yesterday, Grant’s adoption finalized. As I type those words, my eyes are tearing up. Again. They have every time I’ve thought about yesterday morning.

In case you were wondering, 7:45 is early for me. For me to be dressed, parked and on the fifth floor of the courthouse in Downtown Fort Worth by that time is quite an accomplishment. When Grant’s mom asked me if I wanted to come to the court date, though, I knew I had to go. I’ve spent a lot of time with the little guy, and though he’s too young to know it, it was a very important day. So up and dressed I was.

While we waited to be called into the court room, I noticed two other families with babies in arms gathering in the hallway. We were all invited into the courtroom together. The judge called court into session. Grant’s name was not called first. That was a good thing, because as soon as the proceedings started for the first little guy, one Eli from Ethiopia, I was a mess of tears. So were Grant’s relatives in attendance.

Watching a baby whose name we only just learned become part of a family was so very right. My tears, I think, were the kind of tears that come when you realize you’re in the midst of a sacred moment. As Eli’s parents paused for photos, I thought, “we are witnessing as the world becomes a better place.”

The proceedings of the second baby were similar. We witnessed as the world become a better place again.

And then Grant’s name was called. And the judge read some words. Grant’s parents raised their hands and promised to love Grant for ever. They committed to take care of him in every sense of the word. They declared him their son. The court validated their relationship. And I cried, fully then, because the significance of watching this little boy who I have grown to love as he was given permanence in his family? It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Rare are the days when you get to witness such beauty. The world became a better place, overwhelmingly. I know Grant’s name. I know his squeaky little cry. I’ve watched his cheeks grow chubby as the months pass. I know how to calm him when he’s sad and how to get him to sleep when he’s tired. I know this little boy. I love him. Watching two other little boys’ adoptions proceed just prior to my little buddy’s gave me some time to realize my heart was expectant and joyful.

The third time the world became a better place in that courtroom in Fort Worth, I breathed a quiet prayer of thanks. I saw grace personified in Grant’s parents holding their boy and believed God knew this would be Grant’s story. He is theirs. I marveled at the tangibility of love in the room.

Grant has a family. I remain amazed and awestruck at the significance. Adoption is amazing.

twenty-five: this is what i write about when i write with my left hand:

it is not easy
and i feel like a child
learning something new
even though i could
with a change of hands
do this better
i catch a glimpse of
in the chaos of this
handwritten mess
it is not easy
but it is new
and i love new

I took photographs of my left-hand writing and posted them before scripting out the words I wrote. And though they are what came to mind while I was writing with my left hand, I find some truth in them beyond the explicit meaning. I do catch a glimpse of beauty in the chaos of this handwritten mess. And I love new.

I also like how writing with my left hand makes writing slow to a scrawl of sloppy little kid writing. So often I feel like a perpetual two-year-old in the kingdom of God, really wanting to please my father but tiring quickly and resorting to tantrums. Little kid writing fits, then. My desire to be a disciple seems to stay at the maturation level that still requires a three-hour afternoon nap because I played myself out in the morning. How on earth will evening happen?

Maybe I will start writing with my left hand when I am trying to process and need to do so from a place of childlike wonder instead of trying to figure everything out.

Here is a (most random) assortment of photographs today including the ones I already posted.

I like how they are chaotic and don’t really go together and are all in my apartment. I love the way the light falls just so on Naty’s face then falls off.

It’s late, and I am tired. Maybe tomorrow I will feel like a child and learn something new. Maybe with a change of hands I will do things better. Maybe in this chaos there really is beauty. Maybe I’m just rambling because I’m tired.

That’s what I’ve got for today.