Monday, January 24, 2011

Maternity Photo Shoot

 I just realized that I haven't shared very many of my recent photo shoots here on the blog, only on facebook.  So here are a few of my favorites from a recent shoot I did for a beautiful first time mama to be and her husband.  I love taking these kinds of pictures, capturing these moments in time!  God gives me such joy in this art!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Choosing to Love

In those essential relationships, the ones that must remain,when your sins sit unforgiven, when efforts fall on deaf ears, when understanding will not penetrate, and when the sins of another continue to pile upon you, there is but one choice.  To choose love, the kind you've been given by Him, the kind undeserved but graciously bestowed.  And then, to let go and stop expecting.  We bask in the forgiveness freely given, in the understanding beyond our own, and we beg for wisdom and patience and security and direction from Him on how to continue relating and loving and letting go.  It is to Him we give account and by Him alone that we have victory over flesh.  And He asks us what merit it is to us to only love those who love us, the easy to love?  It is far greater to love our enemies, to love beyond feeling but by choice and obedience, when love is truly laying down self, this is the love He asks us to give, because it is the love He has given.  It is love that doesn't make sense and yet... it makes perfect sense to a Holy God and "we can do all things through Him who gives us strength."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

In My Skin

The only way I can think of to explain my lack of "thinking" posts lately is writers block.  It's not that a million thoughts and insights don't flood my mind and heart every day, it's just that it takes energy and time to get them on "paper", both of which are in short supply lately for obvious reasons.  Tonight, Travis is at our men's life group, so I've got some time to myself.  I probably should be soaking my aching hips in a sea salt bath at the moment, but I just need to get this out, so no more excuses!

I've been thinking a lot lately about where God has me right now.  It's a good place, a really good place, but a place that needs nurturing to grow into an even better place.  I feel like my twenties were spent in a whirlwind of change and learning new roles.  First homemaker, then wife, then mother.  As I learned (and continue to learn mind you) God's best for me in these roles, there was a lot of insecurity, looking over my shoulder or across the street for some sort of affirmation that I am doing it right.  I'll admit, comparison is an easy temptation to fall into for me.  Sometimes it's easier for me to look at someone I admire in one area or another and try to do things like them instead of looking to God's Word first.  The slippery slope to this approach is when I feel that I can never measure up to those people I admire, that somehow they've got it more figured out than me, that they must have a stronger direct line to God infusing them for better success than I seem to have.  But that's where it all comes apart, comparing ourselves to each other in areas of Christian freedom and self-imposed legalisms.  In those moments, I hear God nearly shouting at me, "but what does MY word say?!"  And "apart from ME you can do nothing!" and " you are justified by faith alone!"  But those whispers of the evil one can be relentless, it really is a spiritual battle at times to believe the truth rather than the lies.  I've been reading in Romans lately, about how obedience to the Law never justified, but only pointed us to our need for God by revealing our sinfulness.  And yet, how easily we think that if we just do this or that, or do this or that better, or more like so and so, surely then we will be more pleasing to God.  Do we so easily forget that NOTHING we can do can add to what we've already been freely given by Christ?  We were all wretched in our sin, deserving of death and eternal separation from a Holy God and yet in His great and incomprehensible love for us, He came down in flesh, to take the punishment for us and to give us the gift of eternal life with Him if we would just trust in what He did as our only hope for salvation.  If we think there is anything we can do to add to what He did, we arrogantly and disgracefully proclaim it was not enough.

And that's what brings me to my most recent insight.  As I strive, empowered only by Him, to live in obedience to His Word, to live a life that is pleasing to Him, I have to remember that it is for two reasons alone.  One, because I am eternally grateful for what He did and I want to live my life as an offering of praise to Him and two, because plain and simple, He deserves it!  Not because it's going to earn me any favor with Him, I already have it thanks ONLY to Christ, which is clear in scripture, and not because I'm trying to measure up to so and so, because so and so is not the measure of Godliness, only a measure of God's grace for a sinner just like me.  I believe God is challenging me to be comfortable in my own skin, to praise Him for the strengths He has given others rather than seeing them through the eyes of envy and despair at how I measure up.  Being comfortable in my own skin does NOT mean being unteachable, in fact I think it means quite the opposite.  I think God has far better access to our hearts when we're not so busy feeling inferior to those around us.  Our insecurities often lead us to defensiveness, to places of trying to justify to ourselves why we're just fine and there's actually something wrong with that other person.  And the bottom line?  God's Word is our compass, it is the place we should go to seek the truth, God's best for us, not someone else's definition of it.  Being comfortable in our own skin means not seeing ourselves as better or more arrived than others and not seeing others as better or more arrived than us, but rather focusing on God, His perfection and majesty and living our lives in humble adoration of Him, jaw-dropping, speechless adoration!  It's about keeping a vertical rather than a horizontal focus.  It's about laying our lives down for His use, however that may look.  Whether we are used in big or small ways, ways that bring us glory or ways that give all the glory to Him.  Because being comfortable in our own skin means realizing that our lives are not our own, that it's not about us, it's about HIM!  Insecurities keep us self-focused when God wants us to be others-focused...meaning loving and serving others, considering others as more important than ourselves.

So thirties, let's settle in to this skin of ours and lay it down at the throne of Grace.  Shape me, mold me Father, into all you've created me to be!  I praise you, for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, for their strengths and callings, and I praise you for mine as well.  Use us to sharpen and challenge each other Father, but let us not fall into the trap of legalistic comparison.  Fix our eyes on You and Your Word, pour your mercy fresh on us each morning and refine us for your glory!  You are great and greatly to be praised!  Amen

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Year and New Pictures

We had an unexciting New Year's Eve this year, but it was just what the doctor ordered.  We have been so busy over the past week getting our basement ready for the framers this coming Monday that all we wanted to do was relax at home last night.  We went over to Travis's parents and shared some Vietnamese take-out, but got home in good time so the kids could get to bed on time and we could watch a movie.  Perhaps New Years will look different in the future, but for now we are content with simple and quiet.  Not to mention that this pregnant mama can't stay up late even if she wanted to;).  Speaking of this pregnant mama, here's my latest belly picture, taken this morning at a day shy of 32 weeks.  I am in awe at how fast things are flying now!  In five to eight weeks, we'll be holding our baby girl!  I'm so excited to meet her and yet, there's still so much on the to-do list.  One day at a time right, I need to remember that or I get overwhelmed.
On this first day of the new year, the first day of a new decade, looking back and looking forward, I am thankful, excited, and resting in right now.  And I think that is going to be my theme word for this year, "NOW".  Living in the future or the past cheapens the beauty of the moment we've been given, right now.  Now is our current reality and it is right now that we must choose to abide in His presence, to receive His grace, to slow down and live inside the fruits of the Spirit that we can only live in when we are plugged into to Him and His Word.  Now is our greatest sphere of influence and our greatest chance to be influenced.  Living in the past can weigh us down with guilt that keeps us from moving forward.  Living in the future can create stress about the unknown and a grasping for control that was never ours to have.  Wishing you all a year of living on your knees before your Maker and Savior in the "now".  I leave you with a picture of my heart.  My beautiful husband and our three precious, candy eating rug-rats:).
Happy New Year 2011!