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Posted on 24. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
This is Storie. She was the flower girl at the wedding I got to photograph yesterday. As I watched her throughout the course of the day, I realized that Storie knows a few secrets that we as women often grow up and forget. I thought it might be nice to learn a few lessons from this gorgeous and graceful flower girl.
1. You are beautiful just because you are a girl and that is an incredibly wonderful thing. Storie knew she was beautiful and she held it close to her heart like treasure. She didn’t shy away when people told her she was pretty. She opened up like a flower with each kind comment and drank in her day as a princess with delight. She relished every moment, every kind word, every happy glance.
2. Enjoy the moment. It’s okay to rest and really enjoy life. We don’t have to try so hard. Every time I saw Storie she was smiling or laughing. She took in the day like it was a gift from heaven. And it was. Her job was very important to her, but she did not let the pressure steal her joy. She knew she was laying down petals for the bride, and it made her very happy. Important doesn’t have to mean stressful.
3. Dancing can be a key to experiencing new levels of joy and happiness. Storie didn’t let the fact that she was a very tired princess get in the way of some amazing dance floor time. She and her mommy danced and giggled to their hearts content. A girl has to get her dance on to find her happy place sometimes. I know I do. (Okay I danced with the bridal party too.)
4. There is no such thing as too many compliments. This one gets me going a bit. I overheard a stranger ask Storie’s mommy if it was okay to tell her she looked lovely for fear of making her think too much of herself. To this I say, there can never be too many kind things spoken to a little girl! Most (if not all) of us will hear the opposite for the rest of our lives, if not from people we know then from the media, our culture or the internet. We will be told or we will tell ourselves that we are too thin or too fat. We will think we are not pretty enough or tall enough, outgoing enough, or quiet enough. Enough, enough, enough. Enough! No, you can never fill her little tank too much because someday there will be a draw on that tank and it may already happening. So do this, tell a little girt she is beautiful today. I make it my mission as part of my job and my calling to tell every little girl and every woman as much as I can that she is beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! Because God made you, and you are feminine and lovely and straight from heaven.
Thank you Storie, for showing us how to find our way back to resting in the beauty God gave us as women. You carried yourself with the elegance and grace of a real princess.
Because you are.
Posted on 22. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
Tonight we came from our separate places to surround Johnny for his 21st birthday. He wanted to go bowling, mostly because he just wanted us all to be together. I wanted that too. We all did, and I am so grateful for that.
They call it cosmic bowling, when they turn the black lights on and turn up the dance music. I didn’t need a name for it to know where I was. As we danced and laughed and threw gutter balls (mostly just me), I began to find my center of gravity again. This is where I belong, with these people. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but when I am with them I find my place in the universe again. I am the nucleus of this family. We bounce around against one another like electrons in our little world. We bring out each other’s best and love hard through the worst. I am desperately in love with these people. They are home.
You can see who we are by the way we step up to our lane. Chris is seriously competitive, so intense about his game. Katie is relaxed and casual, winsomely guiding her ball down the center almost every time. Annie dances her way there, and gets the best score by bowling upside down and backwards, peeking through her legs as the ball rolls into a strike. Johnny is strong and graceful at the same time. He is there for quality time and tries not to take the game too seriously. His favorite thing to do is to make me laugh as I step up for my turn. My favorite thing is to laugh so that works out well. I throw gutter balls mostly and randomly hug all of them over and over again. The one time I get a strike I scream and dance around. I can be myself with them and let go of striving.
Children have the power to lift the countenance of their mother like no other. And children who love one another is even more powerful. Seeing my kids hug and love each other is a balm to my soul. It is what every mother wants.
Happiest of birthdays to my Johnny. Thank you for giving me this gift on your birthday. That is just like you.
John 13:34,35 ~”Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
Posted on 19. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
I hear the mudroom door open and close softly as I sit at my computer late in the evening. I know it is my boy coming through that door. I love that sound. I never tire of it. The shuffling of feet, keys jingling into pockets, the turning of the knob to close the door behind him; he is home again. I know there are not too many of these nights left to come in the future. He is becoming a man so fast. It will not be long at all before he will be raising a family of his own, walking though his own back door.
This time he comes bearing a gift. He extends a lovely pear blossom branch in my direction. ” For you” he says sweetly. My heart flutters a little. A surprise from my son. A love offering. I am taken back to days gone by when he would bring in a wrinkled bunch of jonquils from the pasture hill, eyes beaming with joy. I would hurriedly put them in a vase on the table as he watched proudly. I was proud too. Can this be the same boy who towers above me now?
Tonight I could see a heaviness on him. He said he had been walking at the park, just praying. He talked like a man, the man I had prayed he would grow to be. A man after God’s own heart. He talked about wanting to love people, about what kind of life he wanted to lead. My eyes brimmed with tears in gratitude. These are the kinds of words mothers wait their whole lives to hear. I know I did not earn this. It is a gift from God, much like the flowers in my son’s hands. With God’s help, we have raised a man — a man who loves God, who is smart and brave and who cares for the needs of others. With God’s help, we have raised a warrior and a generous spirit.
As I place the branch in the old turquoise mason jar, we move onto lighter subjects. We laugh and share a few stories about our day. He always makes me laugh. I watch his eyes crinkle at the corners over his strong cheekbones. I can’t believe time has moved on so swiftly. Those cheeks that were once chubby and so pinch-able are now chiseled and scruffy.
He will be 21 this Saturday. Legally, he will be a man, but his heart has already proven so.
I love you, my son. I am so proud of you.
Proverbs 3:5,6 ~
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Posted on 18. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
Something amazing happened when I “quit” this project yesterday. First of all, I slept a full 8 hours for the first time in 3 months and that was very, very good. But secondly, I realized that quitting really didn’t give me the relief I was searching for. I actually really love this project but I had to surrender it; to really lay it down to come to that conclusion.
I find peace here.
Here is my new resolution so that I can rest and survive. I will post the days as I have them, and it may be a 300 day year for me, or a 200 day year, but I will stay in this for me.
Sorry to be so wishy washy and dramatic. But hey, I’m an artist and a girl. The combination can be quite dramatic at times. Thank you for all of your kind emails and comments yesterday. It meant the world to me.
So for now, I am back posting as I can.
The images on this post are considered the weeds in my yard, but I find them so beautiful. Their buds are the tiniest of messengers bearing the glad tidings of spring. They are the first to arrive and the first to bring color to the barren ground. I am grateful for the weeds in my life tonight.
Romans 8:28 ~”And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Posted on 17. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
It’a another cold, rainy Monday. They seem to come packaged that way. The flowers bow their heads under the weight of the gloom. “I understand”, I whisper softly. Yes, yes, I do.
It takes a lot to make me quit. It’s not an admirable quality really, this stubbornness. Sometimes my stubbornness hurts me. But I am quitting this 365. While my heart is in this, I cannot do it every day. In 2011, I did it. Every. Single. Day. But this time, I am suffering. I am not sleeping well.
I hate admitting that I am weak. I hate letting people down. But I have to. I am so tired.
I will still blog often. I will still respond to emails. I will still seek out the beauty and bring it glistening from my pockets to share. I can’t not do that.
God made me for this.
Thank you to everyone who supported this effort. It is not like I was doing anything really noble, but I am still grateful to those who loved me through it.
Janey (my goldendoodle) is having puppies in less than two weeks and I will be sharing lots of pictures of the babies here soon.
Love and blessings,
2 Corinthians 12:9 ~”But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Posted on 15. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet. Not only do I get to work with amazing people, like the people from the Youth Evangelism Conference in Nashville, but I get to bring my kids to help me. Katie and Annie have traded off coming with me for the past 6 years and I feel so lucky to get to do this with them. This year Annie was able to come. Before the conference we had a few minutes to get some dinner and walk the streets of beautiful Nashville. Such a beautiful city.
Annie is so great with people. She jumps right in there and loves them right where they are. I don’t think she is afraid of anything. As they were coming into the conference tonight she cheered, high-fived and danced with them one by one. It is a thing of beauty to watch. They were genuinely surprised by her warmth and charisma. Who could resist?
I love having her with me.
Katie, we missed you so much as did the sweet people of YEC. Maybe both of you can come next year? Here’s to hoping!
We love you YEC.
Posted on 13. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
This post is written by my husband, Chris. He is the one who prunes the fruit trees and grapevines on the farm. I am busy heading to Nashville and he graciously offered to write this post tonight.
Soon there will be peaches.
But not yet. There will be no fruit without some previous pruning or careful tending, and not before some farm coaching. With a little help peaches will not only appear, but mature and ripen, making it to harvest. Harvest will be sweet. Juice will spill over onto the smiling cheek and for a brief moment the trials of Earth will be suspended and maybe even pushed back an inch or two. The humble beginning of these peaches remind us that each season has its glory and is telling us a story. Nature is constantly hinting, dropping clues to every casual observer.
Spring is yielding new growth. That which seemed so silent just a few weeks ago now has much to say. It is emerging with fruitful chatter as if to declare victory over the winter. Soft buds growing out of resistant wood is a miracle that barely makes sense. The fact that these buds then grow to become the sweetest of southern fruits adds to the pageantry. We have seen this peachy phenomenon so often (along with its kindred trees and fruit cousins) that we are prone to miss the wonder.
Peach Tree, I’m sure that I haven’t fully decoded your message. At the very least you are telling me that something very tasty is in my future. But perhaps, you are telling me as well that miraculous and highly desirable things grow from places that were cut with the pruners blade. All that is required is time and the changing of the seasons. On good days I can stretch to believe that you are telling me God’s story, a story behind the story; where I am the tree and that though I’ve been severely and consistently pruned in this life. I only need time and a turn of the page and I will awaken to a fruitfulness that is beyond anything I ever imagined. Soon.
But on many days all I can promise to the tree is: ”Dear Tree, I am busy. I do not have time to visit your wonder or ponder your hints. I may instagram you later from a distance.”
Southerner with an iPhone.
Posted on 13. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
Today was a beautiful puffy cloud day. Going out my door and looking up into a sky full of beautiful clouds is one of my favorite things. A cold front was coming in, creating a beautiful sky as the warm and cold air collided. I stayed outside playing with my horses until the colder air won the battle. But first I paused to capture a few images of the majestic clouds above our little farm.
When I see skies like these I am reminded of the scripture that says that the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19 1:1). They are telling the story again and again about his glory and who he is. Every day, they speak truth about God. I think that is amazing. All we have to do is look up and listen. All we have to do is pay attention.
I love that.
“ The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
Posted on 12. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
I never tire of finding joy in the small wonders of this world. Discovering them is like finding treasure and I am reminded of my childhood. I remember the items I gleaned as a girl — seashells, flowers in the woods, colorful pieces of broken bottles, or even a misfortunate creature of some kind. (I mothered many wounded animals and bugs back to health, though some were not so lucky.)
We are made to seek treasure. It is why we sew pockets into our clothing.
But the beauty of this world is only a reflection of the true treasure. Our creator God has scattered it like breadcrumbs on the trail to help us find our way home. This flower, those shiny shells — they tell me about a person who is far greater, full of love and color, splendor and magnificence. God is a person. The flowers fall from his own pockets every spring and lie fragrant at our feet. He plants his beauty in the earth so that we may seek him, not because of pride but because he is bent over in love with us. He is smitten with us more than we could ever imagine.
Everything you ever wished for or wanted to feel can be satisfied in God. Every thirst, every hunger, every desire is met in his great storehouses. He alone holds the keys to our hearts. It was all within your grasp the whole time. Because when he has you, you have everything.
He is the treasure.
Run and find him and he will be found. This is the greatest joy of all.
Deuteronomy 4:29 ~”But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Matthew 7:7 ~”“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Posted on 11. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
No matter how hidden you believe you are, or how dark the night, or how far you have run — you are never far away from God. Not even a little. He is a breath, a heart’s whisper away. He hovers near waiting for you to say his name, and when you do? He comes running swiftly, so fleetly to your side. This fear that he has gone away may come after years of turning away, or after an hour of doubt. Either way, the answer is the same.
Call his name.
He loves you always. He does not change as everything and everyone else does. He is not like us. He is God and he is the way home.
Don’t be afraid. He just wants you to come home.
Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.” (The Message)