Saturday, July 05, 2014

July 4th | Celebrating our Freedom

July 4th...the day America celebrates her freedom.  I am so thankful for those who serve our country, and for the freedoms we have, but that isn't really what this post is about.  I could totally just talk about the pictures below, and paint a perfect, fun-filled day for you.  You would all appreciate it and go on with your days.  But, that wouldn't be the whole story.  I believe God wants us to share our stories, because it's then that you can truly see HIS glory, HIS rescue, and the freedom that a life with HIM gives us.

You see, July 4th in our house started like most days, Tom worked, the boys and I had breakfast, I tested out a new lens on my favorite subjects, and then I had work to do.  The boys played well for a bit, but then there was the need for movie time.  And then the lies began to bombard me, and I forgot God's truth, and I started to believe them.  Believe that I was stealing July 4th from my kids, believe that since we didn't do parades, and events and, and, and. That somehow we weren't a family and our kids weren't getting to be kids.  I believed that because I have been in a rough spot, and have to take supplements everyday, to regulate how my body and mind work that I am sick, and somehow a burden to my family.  I suddenly forgot about vacations we have taken and we will take, I forgot about the days I spend completely devoted to them, the dinners we share, the words we read together, I forgot the things that we do as a family...this all happened before lunch!

I let the enemy in and he attempted to steal my joy and my day.  But thankfully I have a husband, who cares, who listens, and who is faithful in pointing out to me when I am listening to lies.  Telling me to read God's words to me, and to remember HIS truths.  And as much as I don't like it at the time, pointing out when the words I am speaking contain ABSOLUTELY NO TRUTH in them.  

I sat on my bed and cried, and prayed.  I wanted to hole up in my room and be by myself in my misery.  But thankfully that whisper, soft and steady from a GOD who loves me too much to let me sit in that place said, "Don't waste this day, see what I can do." So I grabbed my camera, and headed with my boys to our neighbors pool.  And slowly it happened...I could feel the freedom within, the freedom to be who I am, who God has made me.  I could feel Him lifting my eyes to see HIS goodness to see the beauty in our life, the blessings I have before me. And I captured that with my lens, with my eyes, with my heart.

So yes today was about freedom, the freedom we enjoy because of the country we were born in or now live.  But for me and my family today was a reminder of a different freedom.  The freedom we have in Christ, the freedom to be exactly where HE has us, to understand that HIS works are MARVELOUS, that we are FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made. In Christ we are free from our sin, free from this world, and free to live and love, fully as God intends.  I am so thankful for this journey HE has me on, for the doors HE has opened and the ones HE has closed.

I encourage you to remember the words of Jesus in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Now I invite as you look at the pictures below, to see them for what they are...a reminder of God's love, His promises, His grace and mercy, the freedom found with Him, but most of all His GLORY.

These are the lens testing shots:-)  Did you know you should ALWAYS test the sharpness of your lenses, it's true, sometimes you get a lemon, and WHAT.A.BUMMER to find it out with a client, or on a super special day!
These show you the differences in the boys personalities, they look a lot a like but they are SOOO different.  Even though Daniel is our more volatile one, he is generally the sweetest kid you will know, sensitive in nature, but can be SUPER grumpy too!

 Holden on the other hand is FULL of personality but generally even tempered agreeable, and calm...until you point the camera at him:-)

Their daddy, strong and steady, lover of a nap:-)

This, this warms my heart...some days it is constant fighting, bickering, and I spend my entire day as referee, and telling them to separate!  BUT then these moments come, and they work side by side, loving, and patient...and I try to imprint these moments on my heart, so I can remember when the days are long.

Water, the elixir of life, the washer of dirt, the symbol we use of cleansing our sins away.  Somedays it washes away the fighting, the depression, and fills up the empty with joy, laughter and fun!

Daniel suddenly remembered he could swim!  Now he is diving for darts, and we can't get him out of the water, even when his lips are blue!

This kid is a fish! The first one to jump in and the last one to get out.  He swims, dives, jumps, and today he encouraged his brother like I have never seen.  Super positive, helping him place the rings...encouraging him each time, such a sweet moment!

Synchronized jumping:-)

After swimming we had family jumping time on our neighbors trampoline (they were out of town, we had the run of the place...)  I am not sure I have laughed that hard, or acted like such a kid in a LONG time!  It was definitely medicine for my soul, and I am SO grateful for those moments!

Holden asked for fireworks, we realized we have NEVER taken the kids to show, then we looked up the info, and we knew why.  The show doesn't start until 2hrs and 10 minutes past their bedtime!  SO with all the swimming and jumping, we didn't have dinner until 7:30, and by the time we were done and ready to leave it was 8:45! So we headed downtown, got some frozen yogurt and started to look for a place to view the we drove by the high school we saw a big crowd of people so we figured they must know what they were doing and parked and waited on the bleachers...
For 30 minutes before they started...the longest 30 minutes of our lives!  Holden was simply talking to keep himself awake, I am sure of it as he didn't even take a breath for the entire 30 minutes, peppering us with questions and observations, I wonder where he gets that???:-)  Daniel on the other hand was just moving constantly so he wouldn't fall asleep...

When the fireworks started we could hear them but not see them!  Everyone in the bleachers jumped up to find a better view! Luckily it could be seen within just a few was not the greatest view but the kids didn't care.  We watched and Holden kept saying, "This is awesome!  Thank you so much for bringing me!" While Daniel kept making exploding sounds with the fireworks, and declared, "I like the lights, but not the boom" :-)

Next year I will take my tripod and hopefully catch some cool shots, this year, this was the most interesting one I caught.

To God be the glory for saving this awesome, fun-filled day of freedom!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Holden the Brave

Over the last week, Holden had to have 3 baby teeth pulled.  He was amazingly brave.  You love your kids, and you know they are amazing, but sometimes, they still make you say, "wow, he is really amazing, and brave." Holden's heart is so kind, but mostly it is so aware of God's presence and His power.

When we got to the dentist, he admitted he was nervous and a bit anxious, so in the car we prayed before we went out.  We asked for peace, comfort, and God's provision.  Instantly Holden's demeanor changed, I mean he was still "nervous talking", you know the constant no breath uttering of anything and everything, but he was noticeably calmer.

In the office the staff all commented on how calm and happy he was, how he was always smiling and ready.  How he didn't seem nervous at all.  He really did great, I had no idea how they got those teeth out, now that I do...Let's just say I hope we are done with teeth pulling. 

Afterwords he was smiley, and after the first appt, he was ready to go back for the second!  He especially loved all the prizes and attention he got, as well as the movie they let him watch, and the ice cream and smoothies we had after:-)  The second round was a little harder on him, but he did say he was disappointed no more teeth pulled for a while.  The Smile Gallery really knows how to give kids an experience that makes them LOVE the dentist!

It's amazing to me how strong kids are.  I was SO nervous for him I felt sick to my stomach...Oh the difficulties of being a parent.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

By HIS Wounds we are Healed

"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5

For MY transgressions, the one who is too busy to spend 30 minutes with Him.  The one who keeps him in a box.  The one who goes through her day and doesn't think of Him or His sovereignty in her life once...somedays or most days.  The one who KNOWS His power, His goodness, and yet I leave Him out of decisions...I lack daily, hourly, by the minute devotion.

We have been studying ACTS in our small group, and what I have been struck by, as we study the early church, is that their daily lives look VERY different than mine.  They continued to go to the temple regularly, they lived together, with each other, and FOR each other, but mostly for the ONE GOAL of spreading the good news, of calling for the repentance that leads to freedom, they were DEVOTED in all things.  It is convicting to say the least...As we ponder the upcoming celebration of Easter, I pray these words soak into our hearts and lead us into a life devoted to the one who bore it all FOR US, the ONE who brought us PEACE, the ONE crushed so that we may LIVE...the ONE who died so we could draw NEAR to the Father forever.

*I wrote this April 9th, after the verse above was in my devotional...and here it sat for almost two weeks...