The birds and tree frogs are venturing out little by little to sing their spring songs. Tiny pink blossoms unfold and sway under the sun’s gentle wooing. It is time for you to sleep once more. But before you go, I want to honor you and thank you for your presence with us. I confess, you are not my favorite season, but your qualities are many and must be acknowledged.
Thank you, Winter.
Thank you for sending our roots down deep to sleep so we could gather strength for the coming seasons. We would forever bloom out–spent beyond measure, if you did not make us rest. Thank you for holding us quiet and making us huddle closer together to find warmth.
Thank you for your gentle and sometimes not so gentle hushing. We got the message and savored the silence for awhile. Your blankets, although cold and heavy, gave us peace.
Thank you for reminding us to play again and for shutting down the work, work, work. Thank for you peals of laughter, sledding by moonlight, and warm chili around the table with faces we need to memorize. Thank you for hot chocolate and Christmas lights and snow angels who watched over us with joy.
Thank you. You have been a challenge, like the discipline of a stern teacher whom we secretly adore.
We will welcome you gladly again if God gives us another year. With childlike upturned faces, we will wait with anticipation and wonder for those first snowflakes to fall.
And thank you Jesus, for providing us with all good things.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 ~”There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Psalm 147:16 ~”He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes.”
Today is the day we mark the day of your birth. I am so grateful for this day. When you came into our lives we were running full tilt doing ministry and raising two girls- your beautiful sisters. Because of the busyness of that season, we felt inadequate to plan for another child. Thankfully, God had more beautiful plans. You and your purpose here were written on the palms of his hands long before I met your daddy. I know that now more than ever. He has wonderful and deeply satisfying work for you to do. But even better than that- he loves you so, as do we.
When I saw your daddy hold you for the first time I marveled at the beautiful chemistry between the two of you. You were his son, his first boy. I love the image above – you desperately trying to adjust to the air of this fallen world and him cradling your tiny frame speaking life into you. Strength and tenderness equally coexisting.
He still does that, you know.
Your sisters were also so glad to finally hold you. They both loved you from the start and even though they didn’t know how to do brother things just yet, they were eager and willing to learn along side you.
Everything you do, you do with your whole heart. You have been this way from the beginning. You rode the springs off that little rocking horse in the den until you could move on to a bike and then a real horse. I loved watching you ride your bike down the street. You were untethered when you were on that bike. You would fly over the hill in the yard and then coast to the cul de sac, your face one big grin. Sometimes if I was close enough to you I could hear you singing softly to yourself. So much joy.
It was hard letting you become a man. I read books that told me to let you go and do dangerous (or so I thought) things with your daddy. I nearly had to staple my feet to the floor to keep from running after you when you went on your adventures. I would call out a few last minute instructions to your daddy and he would always smile and say “don’t worry”. I did anyway. I loved you so.
I loved you enough to let you go a little.
Before long you were stretching me beyond my limits with camping, repelling, trips to Guatemala, riding dirt bikes and getting your drivers license. What’s a mother do? Pray. I have learned to place you little by little into you heavenly father’s hands. He alone can be with you in the places my arms cannot reach. He alone give you everything you need. He alone loves you more than your daddy and I do. And it helps that you are a smart kid. You have learned how to take care of yourself and be wise in your decisions. This brings me much comfort. Best of all, you have come to know this same God who made you and hears this mother’s prayers.
Watching you grow up has been the joy of my life. You and your sisters have helped me become who I am. I am so deeply proud of who you are- but not because of anything I have done. God has done it and I give him all the glory. He has made you into a man after his own heart. There is no greater joy for a mother.
Happy 22nd birthday my son. May he give you a life full of years walking with him. He’s got you.
Love you so,
Psalm 1:2,3 ~”But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
My friend Amy doesn’t like to be photographed. It astounds me that someone so beautiful isn’t in front of the camera all day long. I am grateful I captured a few frames of her with her sweet puppies.
She is an amazing person. She is one of those people that would do everything and anything for you. When we decided we wanted to breed Goldendoodle puppies, she held my hand through the whole process. Being a reputable breeder herself, she knew all the right things to do. She spent oodles of time helping me get my paperwork done and even loaned her whelping box to me the first time around. She sat with me through the birth of Janey’s first two litters. Honestly, I don’t know what I would have done without her. She is such a good friend.
She has been breeding German Shorthaired Pointers for years, but she has always wanted to breed French Bulldogs. When she finally got her first litter this spring, I couldn’t wait to photograph them. She brought the whole litter to my studio last week and we had so much fun playing with them.
Before you ask, all of these babies are spoken for. I know, they are pretty hard to resist. You should hear them make their little Frenchie noises. Ridiculously cute.
So here is your dose of cute for the week in case you were running low!
Its been kind of quiet on my blog lately, I know. When I declared 2015 as the year of yes for myself, I had no idea what I was up against. It seems there has been a resounding “no” brewing in my spirit for two months now. Fear, discouragement and illness have hovered over me consistently these last couple months. Often when I do not know what to do, I don’t do anything at all- thus the silence here.
Here’s the thing. Neither my yes or my no are part of my circumstances. I know this to be true. Fear cannot hold me back from agreeing to do whatever my Father asks me to do. But it can shut me down if I let it. This is where I have been existing. I believe wholeheartedly that the enemy of my soul heard me declare the year of yes and set out to steal all my yeses away.
But he cannot have them. He cannot. All of my yeses belong to God. I just have to hand them over one by one.
So the flowers- they teach me again. It’s been a long time since I wept over flowers, but I did today. There they were on my kitchen table, open, falling over themselves windswept and wild in their vulnerability. It seems all they desire is to open themselves to the sun, to be literally undone in worship. They become brilliant bowls of light as they are filled with the sun’s glory. Even in death, they are more beautiful than they ever could have been if they had never opened.
And I weep.
I say it to the women in the marriage class that Chris and I teach: a husband doesn’t desire perfection; he desires willingness. And so it is with God. We feel we have to be just right before we can offer ourselves to God, but he cares little about our works. He cares about our openness to him. He wants our yes. That he can work with.
I study the tulips again. What if I were this unashamed in my worship? What if stopped guarding myself so closely and just said yes? I blush a little at the sight of them, so unabashedly open. Do they know their inner places are showing? It doesn’t seem to matter. I feel the Father smiling not only because they are beautiful, but because I stopped to notice them.
I weep again, and feel my petals loosening oh so slightly.
James 1:17~ “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
One of my favorite things about raising goldendoodles is seeing them happy in their new homes. Duke was from my first litter last year. He is 8 months old now and just as lovable and snuggly as he looks. It was so much fun photographing him with his lovely owner Hannah. I love happy endings and Duke has found his with Hannah.
Enjoy the images we got of them snuggling on a rare warm day in February! It was perfect.
If you are interested in our upcoming spring 2016 litter email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe it was Winston Churchill who said ”There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”. I love this quote because it is true, but I know that horses are not just good for our inner world because of their physical beauty. Their gentle spirits and kind friendship have borne up many souls who could not have otherwise moved forward. I am one of those people. Horses are a part of my story in such a deep and beautiful way. They are woven brilliantly into my very being and I believe they helped to save my life. I wish every little girl could have a horse. I hear it often, how horses are a part of a young girl’s story, how they provided the sanity she needed to just move into another day. I didn’t know horses were carrying me across the broken bridges of my little girl world until I was much older. I just knew I had to be near one as often as possible. Just the smell of them filled me with longing and tethered me to a sense of safety. I treasured the warm sensation of their breath on my hands and the soft sweetness of their noses. They were a paradox to me – gentle yet so powerful. They provided me with comfort and yet I revered their glory, my heart pounding in my chest in their presence.
Horses have a God-like quality in this way. He is sometimes frighteningly beautiful in all of his splendor and yet he is loving and good. We can trust the majesty that is much more powerful than us because it is bent in our direction. This is love defined.
Horses were at the preschool I attended at 4. I sometimes got to stay after and ride them when the other children went home. On these special days I would try as long as possible not to wash my hands when I got home. I wanted to remember the smell of the horses. I would keep my hands cupped around my nose savoring their scent until my mother made me wash them clean before dinner.
When I was 7 my parents suddenly separated and then eventually divorced. I say suddenly, but that is from the perspective of a 7 year old. In one day, my whole life changed. Our bags were packed and we left our Kansas home. Just like that. I don’t blame my parents for this now. I cannot begin to know all that was in their world. I do know it was awful for all of us. I often liken divorce to a bomb detonating in a house. No one escapes the shrapnel and it is difficult to find your bearings after the smoke clears. Each of us did our best to survive. None of us really seemed to know who were we were anymore or what our role was. I was the youngest of 4. We moved to a new state, went a new school and my family was no longer a family. I felt lost. Eventually, my mom enrolled me in a riding program. She must have known how desperately I needed it. It was the highlight of my week. I loved it so. Threads of continuity began to weave in and out of my broken little self. Continuity that smelled like horses, and riding until the sun went down. I began to breathe again.
Then, one magical day when I was 10, my mom and I went to look at little white horse named Buttermilk. He was half Arabian and half Welsh pony. I had memorized each breed and their characteristics from my horse book at home. Honestly, I didn’t care. He was perfect. He was mine. I road him all the way from the woman’s house to the barn where I would keep him. He was my world.
There is no sense of time in a barn. If you love horses you know that. I am convinced clocks do not tick there. In the age before cell phones my mom had to come looking for me. She would often be waiting for me when I was on my way back from a ride. She had been driving around looking for me. “Where have you been? It’s late and the sun has gone down!” she would say, genuinely worried. I would always apologize, “I was with Buttermilk. I’m sorry! What time is it?” I really didn’t know. I would often ride him down to the beach that was close by and swim with him in the bay. On the way back, I would canter him until I couldn’t breath either from the joy.
Over the years, many horses have come and gone from my life. Their friendship has remained a constant in a world that never stops changing. I have had the beautiful privilege of sharing horses with my children and husband. None of them have had the horse bug like I did but they all love them and feel confident riding which is such a gift. Last summer I lost my Sammy, who was the most trustworthy horse I have ever known. Even at 28, he would throw his head and tail high under saddle. How he loved to ride. I dreaded the day that I would have to let him go. That day came on an appropriately rainy day in June last year. I knew he was very ill when I called the vet and braced myself for the worst. After a brief examination the vet determined that Sammy had a tumor on his pancreas and was in a great deal of pain. The doctor looked me in the eyes and recommended that I do the kind thing and let him go. I was alone, but agreed he was right. The rain beat hard on the tin roof of my little red barn as I offered up prayers of gratitude for my Sammy. I pictured him running to greet RM, the fatherly figure in my life who gave him to me, and them cantering off on the beaches of heaven. No more pain. Only joy.
When Sammy passed away, I mustered the courage to pray for another pony to adventure with. I needed a special horse who would show me the same kind of friendship and faithfulness that Sammy had given me. That’s when God brought Astro into my life, a lovely Paso Fino horse who is small but strong. He is my gift from God. I call him Astro the wonder horse. And you know what? He looks so much like my first little horse, Buttermilk. I am looking forward to building a new friendship with him.
He is a gift in every sense of the word, and has already begun to be such a blessing in our lives.
To all the horses in my life, thank you. You have borne me up not only on your broad and strong backs, but in friendship and love. I pray God gives me many more years to listen to your soft clip-clopping on pavement, happy nickering when you see me bringing out the hay, and the sound of thunder when you run happy in the pasture. You have brought me much joy.
James 1:17~ “Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
“I saved this for you” he says quietly as he tenderly pulls a twined blossom from his pocket, “it reminded me of you.” It is the boutonniere from the wedding he officiated this weekend. I feel my heart flutter because he knows me so well. It is a small yet significant gesture of his love for me. He is steady and faithful and kind. I take the blossom and put it in one of my favorite teacups to treasure a little longer.
He always weeps when the bride comes down the aisle, especially when he is officiating. Every time I feel my body leaning towards him, even if I am in the back of the room, as if I could support him from there. My heart is tangled up with his. I know the tenderness and vulnerability that resides there. I know what he is thinking- or rather just knowing- in his spirit. He is reminded of the kingdom of heaven, when Christ’s bride will be given to him fully in all her glory. He is heavenly-minded, other worldly in his affections, and I am not the least bit jealous of this love. I am sheltered and safe there, drawn more deeply to this God who delights to tell his story in our every day lives.
We will be indeed in trouble when our girls marry. May God hold us that day.
We have been married for 27 years and if you are married you know it is difficult. And wonderful.
Here is one of the things he said to the young bride and groom this weekend.
“…choose again every day to be in love. Say to yourself, “I can have a great marriage if I want it. It is my choice.” What happened yesterday is gone, what happens tomorrow is not here yet, but today is mine to choose. You see, the power is not really is standing here today and declaring your intent to love, it is in actually choosing every day to be present and fully vested in the relationship. “
He can say these things because that is what he does. ( I am trying to get my husband to write his own blog. He has such wise things to say. If you see him, encourage him in this way.)
I pray that I will also live out the faithfulness that my husband has exemplified.
Today I say yes to faithfulness. It is like the twine around the beautiful flowers- holding us together come what may.
Proverbs 3:3 ~”Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”
I have a special place in my heart for dancers. Dance is part of my own story and when I get to photograph them it brings two of my passions into a joyful convergence. When Mackenzie said she wanted to dance for her senior portraits, I knew it would be a memorable session.
My goal in any session is to be able to show my client and the world who they really are- their innermost beauty. Most people don’t know how beautiful they are. They walk this earth completely unaware of the light they carry. It is my joy to not only see it, but also to capture and carry it back for them to view as well. Mackenzie is no exception. She walks with a quiet beauty and elegance that she doesn’t know she has. She was a bit shy during the beginning of our session, but it wasn’t long before we were laughing. I loved taking her around the block close to my studio in her lovely dance dress. People stopped to stare at this spectacle of grace and loveliness. ‘Yes’, I thought to myself. “She is a gleam of light on this mundane block of city life. You should stop.”
Mackenzie, thank you for sharing your free and sweet spirit with me. I hope you love your senior photos. Blessings on your bright and shining future.
Posted on 12. Jan, 2015 by maryanne.
It has been over a week since I declared The Year of Yes, and I am slowly finding my way into this acquiescence. My yes has to be cultivated and nurtured, just like gratitude and a sense of wonder. These treasures must be tended to oh so carefully in our lives, protected against the choking weeds of distraction and fear. It’s a slow and diligent process. This week as I waited for my son in a busy coffeeshop, I was drawn to the light encircling the rims of the coffee mugs on display. “Yes, I see you there” I said to my Father who is tenderly leading me out of this numbed state and into dancing again. Simultaneously, the voice of my enemy mocks me. “Light on coffee mugs? Silly,” he stings. Yes, light on coffee mugs. And no, not silly. I am learning to see again. I turn my back on the scoffer who makes small of the beauty that God uses to make me whole.
I have known fear this last year. My chest seizes tight even now. Anxiety has become an unwelcome companion in this last season. He has walked so close to me that I nearly believed he was part of me. He crept in on the folds of grief’s garments. I am now seeing this more clearly. He latched hold when a relationship shattered into pieces, shifting in quietly and heavily, like a heavy cloud that blocks the sun.
But I declare it now in this moment- “Fear is not part of me”. I read it on Ann Voskamps’s post today. “The answer to anxiety is the adoration of Christ”. Yes. Yes! I will give God my yes. I will let this last season rest in the deep with all it’s pain and weariness. I will let it go to God. He alone can hold all these things.
The sun is rising again, with all her glory and colors. God is doing a new thing and I am so grateful.
Yes to new, Father. Yes to you.
Isaiah 43:19 ~”See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Posted on 01. Jan, 2015 by maryanne.
I am feeling a good bit of trepidation as I sit to type my thoughts concerning a new project in 2015. Projects are scary. I was able to complete a 365 in 2011, but not without much sacrifice. I failed in my attempt to do another 365 in 2014. This project will be different, and yet still the same I hope. In each challenge I grew spiritually and as an artist. I also got to know people I never would have met otherwise and I learned to trust God on a level I had not known before. I want those same things now, but I don’t desire to put the the 365 pressure on myself. It has been a tough year raising puppies (the reason I dropped my second 365) and I am tired to put it mildly. Truthfully, I am exhausted.
There have been other factors that have contributed to my general sense of malaise. We have had some breakdown in relationships that have caused us deep pain. Nothing can dull the heart like pain. In my efforts to move on I have found myself closing my heart. When the heart shuts down, no life flows in or out. I have lost my sense of wonder. I have lost my yes.
I am choosing, begging God to help me give him my yes in 2015. I want to say yes, no matter what the year brings. This is a frightening thought. What if there is more pain? More suffering? What if?
Recently I asked a friend to pray my for heart. She didn’t know the details but she came back to me with a scripture that she felt God gave her for me. It was Isaiah 26:3,4 ”You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.”
When I trust God I can give him and others my yes. I can say yes to whatever the day brings because he alone holds my heart. Not every yes is a happy one. There will be pain, that is most certain. But there will also be joy, and how can I truly know one without the other? My heart has to be open to know them both. I cannot pick and choose which one I will receive. Only God can do that.
I want this to be the year of yes.
Today’s yes is to wonder. Never do I want to take wonder for granted. This morning, I felt the smallest inkling of it when the sun cast herself across the greenery on my kitchen table. I remembered. I remembered the childlike heart that God put in me as I sprayed the greenery with water and photographed the droplets in the morning light. Joy gently nudged me and I nodded my head yes.
Yes. God is good and he can have my yes. Here’s to a year of many yes’s to come.
Happy new year.
Psalm 62:5 ~”Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him”. (emphasis mine)