Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Wreath Inspiration

Some friends and I have been plotting to spend some time together with glue guns and craft supplies to make fall wreaths or other decorations...

I'm the middle of three girls and of my sisters I consider myself to be the least crafty. In fact the first time I ever made a wreath was at a MOPs group when my oldest two were little. It was a pathetic little wreath that promptly fell apart. I haven't done much in the wreath department. Except for buy one from my bloggy friend Cole.

Obviously there are like a zillion fall wreath ideas out there on the world wide web but I thought I'd collect a few from some of my favorite blogs here. Most of these require little sewing only require only a few supplies.
  
from The Creative Mama you can switch out the embellishment for the season.
click for the tutorial 
from BleuBird Vintage yarn pom-poms!! Yarn pom poms are so easy to make! click for tutorial
from A Beautiful Mess fabric strips on a wire frame made from a hanger click here for a tutorial

Source: etsy.com via Faith on Pinterest  and find a tutorial HERE
Source: etsy.com via Faith on Pinterest a tutorial for making a similar wreath can be found here
yarn covered wreath with cloth yoyo flowers 
a great tutorial for making fabric flowers can be found here
How to make felt flowers (5 ways)
More tutorials for felt flowers can be found here & here & here and another here

Here is a post I found with more inspiration and tutorial links here I especially like this one and you can find more inspiration and tutorial links here and another fabric covered wreath tutorial

Friday, September 14, 2012

Music for a new baby

My dear, adorable friend just had her first baby. Which has put me in mind of some of my favorite music for that new-baby stage. During the time when my babies were little I had so little time to do any of the things that I wanted to do. My babies would sleep and sleep and sleep until I wanted to do something. Music helped. When I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to read a Psalm I would listen to one in my music. Here are some of my favorites, along with some fun images I found on Pinterest over the weekend.






Source: 216.70.97.72 via Faith on Pinterest








Source: babyasart.com via Faith on Pinterest



Perfect for a Sunday morning, or a restful afternoon. 
Piano renditions of the hymns I grew up singing from the hymn-book in church. 




Raffi has recorded so many wonderful songs that I sing to my kids regularly. "Baby Beluga" is their bath-time song, especially when they were fearful about laying down in the water to wash their hair. My kids love the "Brush Your Teeth" we listen to this in the van, we listen to it getting ready in the morning. It's a fun CD full of songs your kids will be singing all week long! 







This is my husband's go-to music at nap time. 
Really nice for in the car


Thursday, September 13, 2012

beside quiet waters

Something has clicked. Like coming out of the deep, dank forest into a wide green valley, beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.
Something has blossomed. I've been looking at those buds for the better part of a year and I've felt this refrain of "it's time, it's time" and I ask "time for what?" but there's no answer. So I take it day by day with trust and hope. Setting aside the fear and worry and self-doubting and the need for everything to be explained, understood and pre-packaged with a neat little bow.
But I' discovering that in the quiet places there are new battles to fight.

I worry if I'm being humble enough. I've fallen on my face spiritually. I gave up a LOT of ground and I had to fight hard to get even just a little bit of it back, so I tend to take that scripture to heart " he who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall" I don't particularly relish falling. I tend to fear it, glance over my shoulder to see if it's coming, bracing myself for impending impact.

The other day I was really feeling the weight of this fear. I want to enjoy this season God has brought me to. I want to lift up my face, soak up the sunlight of His love and run in fields of grace. But this fear makes me just stand there, hands in my pockets. Heart full of longing, feet too fearful of falling to run. 

What if I'm deceiving myself? What if in my zeal I'm puffing myself up? What if I'm doing these things for the wrong reasons? What if I'm walking strait out of the path of blessing? 

I tend to imagine that the Holy Spirit has a sense of humor. I imagine that sometimes he watches as I fumble and flail and he rolls his eyes as he says to himself " here we go again" he takes my face in his hands and says "do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth"?! not that the Holy Spirit quotes Jackie Chan movies, I'm just saying he could.

This is HIS salvation that HE is working in me that HE will complete. I can fight Him, not cooperate with Him, but I can't really outrun Him, outdo Him, or outgrow Him. I can't sanctify myself. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit. I am the canvas, not the painter. Any holiness I might have is God's holiness at work in me, not my own mustered up by self-discipline.

I remember the cycle of the seasons. The quiet seasons of underground struggle as my roots grow. I bloom and branch out as I relate with other people, getting involved in my church, working at making relationships a priority. Then I am pruned. I go through a trial and get to see how my faith has grown, though maybe not quite as much as I thought ;) I rest in the knowledge that this is the time for growing. For unreservedly running full-tilt into the things of God, for throwing my arms wide open and receiving everything that is being offered. 

I constantly look over my shoulder for self-righteousness to show up, until I give that battle to the Lord. I ask him to reveal it when I'm out of line and take a pin to my big over-inflated head any time he pleases, and then I run. 

more from behind the mask

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My Grace for the Good Girl small group has started and we had an awesome discussion of the first three chapters. I'm going to try really hard not to quote the entire book on my blog - that is how much this book has meant to me.

I think one of the most important questions during our discussion was this:
"Describe your invisible good girl, good Christian, good wife, good mom. What does she look like? What does she sound like? How do you feel sitting next to her?" 
I got to spend a lot of time thinking about this last night. The hubs took all the kids out for dinner so I could spend some quality time getting some work done. As I cleaned, I thought about this, trying to discover lies that my "invisible good girl" or my emotionally photoshopped version of myself tells me. Because if you can recognize the lie sometimes you can avoid the melt-down.



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I have been finding answers to this question all over my life. Like "a good mom's kids would never have messy rooms because they would have been raised to be more tidy" or "a good mom's kid would never loose their Library book." or rip up a Library book, or steal their friend's toy or lie to my face. That good mom constantly shames me. She constantly points out my failures.

And I'm not talking about little things here and there, I'm talking about gut-wrenching agony, the ugly cry, the silent scream. Have I permanently scarred my kids? I wonder after I've lost it again, after I realize that I haven't folded my laundry in a month, when I realize that I've been letting my kids watch way too much TV and have been way too emotionally distant and physically unavailable. I have experienced a lot of emotional distress when my self-image is so disconnected from who I really am they are hardly even similar anymore. I think I ought to be this and this and this and this. As a wife, as a mom, as a Christian. But I'm not. And that sucks.

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I think recognizing the lies of the good girl facade comes down to two things - one is self-confidence and the other is how you define yourself. They are closely related and constantly affecting each other.

Sometimes I define myself by my lack. I hide because I am so aware of my less-than and not-good-enough. I see myself when I behave the way I wish I wouldn't.  I see my crap, my mess and I allow that to define me. I'm that lousy Christian who struggles with quiet times (even though I'm learning that maybe that's not such a bad thing) I'm that awful wife who keeps having the same fight over and over. I'm the lame mom who is lazy and decidedly un-awesome, the distant friend. When I let my lack define me I am denying what God says about me.

But I also deny what God says about me when I define myself by my strengths.  I might be reliable, super-committed, a good listener, a mature Christian... whatever. Jesus made it really clear about what he thinks about people who define themselves by their strengths.  When I define myself by my strengths I often get too busy to be involved in what God wants me to be and become overly self-reliant.

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Because this is where it comes back to confidence. Where is my confidence? Is it in my performance? Is it in the fact that I had my quiet-time, did my small group homework and reading and participated in the discussion? I paid my tithe and volunteered in the nursery? Or do I avoid drawing near to God because I'm struggling or even failing in an area (or two or three) of my performance? Where does my confidence (or lack of it) center?

Why is it so hard to draw near to God, confident of our acceptance in Christ and allowing our awareness of our lack to fuel our dependance on God? Wouldn't it be such a beautiful thing if I could come to God with my mess and my lack and say "I want to be with you, spend time in your presence and let you make me more like who you created me to be" and cry out to him with our neediness and live day to day like he has already answered that prayer? Trusting that He will be provide.

We have just got to allow the gospel to define us and draw our confidence from what God says about us - we are His bride, his beloved ones. His daughters, perfect because of what Christ accomplished on our behalf. Which has absolutely nothing to do with our performance...

Emma in black and white

I did a couple of conversions of the photos I took of Emma the other day... so I couldn't help but post them!


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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Josiah

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I was taking photos of Emma for my advanced SLR e-class and Josiah decided he wanted to be included in the photo shoot. I could not be more thrilled with the photos I got of his almost-five-self!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

a photo of Beth

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Beth was such a trooper. The location was not fun, the light was brutal. It was just the wrong time of day to be trying to be outside shooting in the glaring sun. This is one of the few photos that is not squinting or grimacing terribly.

Friday, September 7, 2012

self-confidence vs Christ-confidence


Death or life. 
Trust and rest or striving and trying.

What is the difference? It seems kind of extreme to say that trying to be more like Jesus leads to death.  Doesn't that go against everything we learned in Sunday School? 

The difference is confidence. Self-confidence says "I am going to try to make myself be more like Jesus" but I in myself do not have what it takes to become more like Jesus. I cannot fashion myself into the person I think God wants me to become. I have a lot of good intentions. Trust me. But it is only the power of the Holy Spirit at work within me that allows me to become the person that God has created me to be. 

I love the words Matt Chandler uses to describe this in "The Explicit Gospel" he writes "For some reason we think although the cross saves from past sin, then we [now] have to take over and clean ourselves up after we are saved. This thinking is devastating to the soul." (emphasis mine) Our religious observances can corrupt the good news of grace because these "efforts are self-reliance instead of God reliance. The idolatry in the human heart always wants to lead us away from our Savior and back to self-reliance." Self-reliance is idolatry.

I've been thinking a lot recently about how it isn't really hard to be a "good Christian" if you just grow up a certain way or have a particular personality. It doesn't require grace or the Holy Spirit. I grew up in a Christian home, immersed in Christian culture. I have a passive, people-pleasing personality. It's not that hard, once you get the proper momentum and trajectory going. So what is the difference between being a "good Christian" who is choosing Christian culture instead of secular culture and being a gospel-centered Christian? I think it's wrapped up in this whole issue of self-confidence vs Christ-confidence.

I am convinced that this is a really a big deal to God because he has been saying this same thing since the beginning of scriptures. From the tower of Babel, to the manna-eating Israelites walking around the walls of Jericho, to Isaiah writing the famous words of Isaiah 64:6 to the Apostle Paul writing the epistles to the GalatiansPhilippians and on and on... this whole deal of "acceptance before God" and the work of sanctification in and through and to GOD and not ourselves.

But what is the difference between self-reliance or self-confience and God-reliance or Christ-confidence when it's two o'clock in the afternoon, on a Friday. The toddler has spilled your iced coffee that you just made, now he's screaming in the play pen while you're try to soak it out of the carpet, emotionally exhausted. Or when the preschooler won't stop asking to watch the movie you rented for family movie night. Or when you're just tired and hot and moody.

I was going to stop there, with that question. Until I re-read the start of this post and the words in the picture. "He asks us to open our hands, receive the gift and then live as if it were true." So I open my  weary heart and hands and receive by faith what I need. "Live as if it were true" not wishful thinking, but an inward unshakable certainty.

I'm stressed-out right now but thank you God that you are going to provide whatever I need to get through this day glorifying you.

I'm frustrated and hurting and confused but thank you God that you are my Healer and my Wisdom. Thank you that you are creating beauty from my ashes. 

I watch out for supernatural wisdom. I look for reminders of what I already know. I remind myself to be grateful. I reach out for the grace I need. I trust that God will give me what I need and is already all I need. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

emotionally photoshopped

My Grace for the Good Girl small group started this week, so I've started re-reading the book. (I read the whole thing cover-to-cover last week - I am looking forward to going at a slower pace over the next eleven weeks) and as I've been thinking about the masks of the "good girl" the "prettied up, exaggerated versions of ourselves" I thought about this ad I saw a couple years ago. It shows the process of how a typical advertisement photo is created - and photoshopped.


from Crazy Stupid Love

I wrote a couple weeks ago about how I like to only show my good side. The "perfect" side, the stuff that makes me feel better. Today I was thinking about how this is sort of like an emotional photoshop job. I would rather not post photos of myself without any makeup, in bad lighting. I'd rather not show you the dark circles and lines under my eyes.

I like to photoshop them out.

I have a friend who is very good with photoshop. She did a series of self-portraits a couple years ago and I remember reading her blog post when she finished. I couldn't find the post but what I remember from it was that she felt an emotional disconnect between her self-portaits and her real-life-self. There were loads of commenters on her Flickr page saying "you're so gorgeous" when what they were seeing was a photoshopped version of herself. She found herself wondering why the people in her real-life were less blown away.

I can be like that too.

I only show the pretty side of life. The "everything's fine" line is really safe. There are even lines I've learned that are mock-transparent. So maybe you will think I'm this awesome, strong person who is just vulnerable enough. But I've got loads of places I don't want to go with you. I've got topics of conversation that call for quick subject changes. The stuff I don't want you to know about me. The junk I have that I'd rather you didn't see. The struggle that I keep to myself. I really don't want you to see the struggle, not the depth of it. I don't want you to know the "not fine" me. I don't like her very much. She drives me crazy. I don't want to be her. I want to be the photoshopped version of myself. I want the mask to be real.

But that's not real life.

Somewhere in there, my weakness and inability is a blessing in disguise. The pain and struggle is hard but that doesn't make it bad.

I don't know why I have this crazy, twisted idea that I ought to be strong all the time. I shouldn't struggle. I shouldn't wrestle with God. It shouldn't be that hard for someone like me. I should instantly forgive. I shouldn't doubt. I should be angelically submissive and continually overflowing with gratitude.

I'm not her.
I'm not that good.
I'm grumpy.
Selfish.
Passive-aggressive.
People pleasing.
Stubborn.
Self-sensitive.
Lazy.

I like to photoshop that out of the emotional landscape I show to the people around me.

But that's not love.

Love sees the junk and stays.
Love is there for the meltdown and watches with compassion.
Love thinks the best.
Hopes for the best.
Expects that there is more and better just around the bend.
Love receives with open arms.
Love is snot-covered & puffy red from crying eyed beauty.

If we were perfect we wouldn't need love.

When I show only perfect I keep people from being able to love me, keep you from showing your real self, keep you from being loved by me.

We keep each other at arms length. Afraid if you get to close you'll smell the stink of real life and not want me. You might not like me.

I'm not "enough"
I need
I'm not "together"
I'm a mess
and my life is messy
and I don't always understand how to interpret the narrative of my life

But trying to live an emotionally photoshopped life is spiritually constipated and it sucks. I am fumbling and tripping through this place of learning to be more honest and I tremble as I try to find the courage to be more transparent and let you into my mess and my lack. But I think that love is worth it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

a bit of photography

Today I was doing a little bit of photography for my advanced SLR e-class which I'll be teaching online starting this week. I really enjoyed the challenge, though not all of my ideas worked out. I'll be posting more throughout the week. I got some really good ones of Josiah that I can't wait to post! But here are some of Emma. There were way too many so I'm sure you'll be seeing lots more. If you can't wait you can see the SOOC versions on my Flickr page.

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