Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Trails....

I love nature trails! Actually all of us do, except Madison who is convinced that we are about to be pounced on by a viscious woodland creature at every turn. Despite her fears though, she always has a good long as she walks in the center of our pack!
We went exploring on Wednesday after school and found a labrynth of trails just a few miles from our house.
It was fun to be in the woods and see the leaves changing. I can't wait until the explosion of color in a few weeks!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Practicing what I preach!!!

OK, I hate, I mean really HATE my picture taken! I used to love it when I was about 10 years younger, 30 pounds thinner and required way less photoshoping! But it's just depressing!
But, I am a big encourager of moms getting in the photographs with their kids often enough that their kids can look back and see mom with them as they grow up.
Too many of us give in to our insecurities and hide behind the camera or place a kid in front of us if we can't possibly avoid the camera..... and it's completely conceiveable for years to go by without a photo of mom just being mom!
That's pretty sad!
Since one of my reasons for doing the type of photography that I do is to have something to look back on 10, 20, 50 years from now and get a glimpse of the personalities and connections that make your family special, it's important to me that I capture not just kids...but families too...including moms!
So, deep breath.....I guess if I believe it's important for you to be captured on camera for memories sake, then ...sigh....I guess I have to let myself be captured too, huh?
My budding photographer, Madison, cornered me while we were on a family hike yesterday. I made a conscious decision to cooperate with her because I don't want her to ever think that she needs to hide from the camera until she is perfect. So here I am....imperfections glarring...well, sorta. A little photoshoping took some of the wrinkles from my eyes.
I'm not quite ready for complete honesty yet!

Madison did a good job, huh? She took these in complete manual mode and set the aperature, shutter speed and focus all on her own!
It's so fun to watch her work and see what she takes photos of. I'll post a bunch of her photos soon. Some of them are very good. She's got an eye and that just can't be taught!

"B" is for Bren!

Bren modeled these fun initial T-shirts for e-bay designer "wildchildboutique" this week. The designer included a Webkinz for Bren which she loves! Now she can log on to a site and play all sorts of games with her Webkinz.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fishes and Leaves.............

Although the trees still have a bit to go before they are completely adorned in red and gold, it has begun!
by Elsie Brady

How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep,
their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.

Bren finds the first fruits of Autumn's descent in the form of a mysterious pod containing little green beans....magic beans I would assume for they held my little one endlessly captivated and full of wonder!

Magic Beans!

Our boys have been bitten by a bug called "Imustfish"! This bug strangely lures them to the shore and sends them home smelling of all kinds of sea life! It also puts huge smiles on their faces and makes them tell stories of brave conquests against strong and elusive creatures of the sea!

I think this must be a host of the "Imustfish" bug because it seems to worsen their symptoms!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Vine......

Just a little bit of encouragement today.....
This Summer I had the opportunity to chaperone a group of teens at CrossWalk in Massachusetts. The pastor there was Robert Kumrey from Mercy house in Amherst Mass.
One morning during our leader's Bible study, we did a creative reading from John 15. Pastor Robert read it through once very slowly and had us listen and ask God to point out one word or phrase to us individually.
I had heard this passage so many times and doubted that I would get anything new from it no matter how slowly it was read, but I played along anyway.
To my surprise, I did hear something new! It was as if the words, "You are already clean!" were shouted directly to me...straight from God to my soul.
I have always struggled with guilt over past sins and feelings of inadequacy and just a general feeling of not being "special" enough for God to do big things through me.
If I really got honest and down the the heart of what I believed about myself, I saw someone who was rumpled, defeated, undeserving, sheepishly standing on the edges of God's grace, head down, fidgeting with my hands and hoping that maybe He would not notice that I had snuck in beside all the super Christians. I felt like my past had left me scarred, useless, wasted, dirty and certainly beyond the kind of restoration that brings perfect peace. I mean, I knew He loved me and all, but I thought that He was always looking at me with disappointment at all I was meant to be and wasn't. I knew that I was going to Heaven, but I didn't think that He was crazy about me and the mess I'd made of His Plan for my life.
..I would definitely not have ever called myself "already clean!" ...are you kidding? Me? Already clean? Didn't you see what I did last week/month/year?!
When I heard that portion of the scripture read, I didn't even have time to remind God of all the horrible things I had done, of all of the times I had broken my promises and failed Him because immediately I felt a peace and a complete feeling of gratitude over God reminding me of how He saw me!! Already clean?! Could it really be?
There it was plain as day in my Bible..."Already Clean", not "Gonna Be Clean once you get it together", not "were clean, before you messed it all up", not "Sorta clean if you overlook that huge, ugly stain"....nope, He said, "Already Clean!!!!"
The passage was read slowly again, and this time I heard, "Remain in me" more clearly than the rest of the passage. God was giving me a formula to guard my heart against the enemy's lies! He was providing me a source of peace and protection. I am already clean (good-bye condemning guilt and lies!)....and I need to remain in Him (Hello Peace!!) so that He can remind me daily of how He sees me!!
John 15:1-7

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

These grapes from our backyard are more than just yummy little capsules of sweet they are reminders of myself through God's eyes....clean, loveable, accepted, fruitful! Now when I smell their distinct fragrance wafting through my open windows, I'm reminded of how Already Clean I am and how I need to Remain in Him so that the enemy has no grounds upon which to launch operation "past failures" against my heart.
So, if you are struggling with guilt over past failures, disarm the enemy with the truth of God's word...then go pour yourself a glass of Welch's Grape juice and bask in your "Already Clean-ness"!!
How awesome is that???!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, BLUE Fish!

There are lots of reasons to go to the shore of the Narraganset Bay in Newport, Rhode Island. The view of the magnificent bridge to Jamestown or the sealife you can find in the rocks, but today we were there for the Blue Fish and Striped Bass!!!! And boy did they deliver!

The boys pulled in close to three dozen huge blue fish and one striped bass. We kept the biggest blue fish to cook today. My brother gave us a recipe for them that we hope will make them taste better than we hear they taste.

Michael caught a red jelly fish while exploring the rocks.

And Bren found a "Bren-sized" fish!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rock On!!!!

Wow! Put getting smushed up against the front row security fence of a high energy Christian concert on your list of things to do before you die!! The adrenaline was definitely pumping in that sea of teenagers and young adults when Thousand Foot Krutch came on stage! Third Day followed them and were equally as awesome.
It was so great to see all of those people lifting their hands in praise to God!
Bren rocked out from her seat on Dad's shoulders!
(yes, that is a winter coat she is wearing! We had about a week of really cool weather here really cool, I mean that it dipped into the 50's by 9:00 pm.....I'm in trouble aren't I????...luckily, it's back up to about 70 during the day...sure to be Summer's last breath though.)

This sweet old man intrigued me and I just had to take his picture. He kept this expression on his face for the longest time. To me he looks fascinated by all of the young people enjoying the concert, and he really seems to be enjoying it, doesn't he?.....either that, or he was in shock over how much the Bill Gaither Trio had changed!! :)

Third Day sings one of my favorite songs... "God of Wonders/You are holy". I remember the first time I heard this song, I was sitting at a bonfire at Sycamore Canyon Beach with the youth group of EVFree church in Camarillo, Ca. Someone was playing guitar and we all sang that song. Hearing the roar of the waves and seeing the mountains all around us made that song so memorable to me.