Tag Archives: 365 project
Posted on 07. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
Hungry and tired, I rushed out of the grocery store pushing my cold, wet cart to the car. The brisk air seemed to blow right through my thin red coat. Chris was waiting for me at home and I wanted to be there already. I practically threw my groceries into the trunk in my haste. When I finally got into my car and closed the door, I was pleasantly surprised by this sight.
All at once I was in a magical place. The rain pitter pattered softly on the roof of my car as I just sat there, taking in the beauty. I exhaled relief. It was so lovely and just what I needed. Fortunately I had my camera in my bag, and I took a few images to remember the moment. This one is my favorite.
It often seems that I am just a breath away from wonder. Stress, worry, hurry, they all melt away in his presence. The I Am is in the right now. In this moment. Right here.
In that spirit, I have decided to take Sundays off for my 365. I need a day to rest. This will either make my 365 not a 365 at all, or take it into the year of 2015. Either way, I am okay with it.
May you find wonder in the simple things today. He is always present.
Breathe him in.
Psalm 65:8 ~”The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”
Posted on 07. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
This lamp stays burning in Katie’s now empty room. Every time I pass her room on my way to do laundry, it catches my eye. I don’t need its light to remind me of my girls who have moved on into adulthood; they are always on my heart. I keep it lit to hold my place in this house that grows larger by the day.
This has been a difficult season of transition for me. When I did a 365 project in 2011, all of my children were still at home. There was much life in this humble farmhouse. There was dancing in the kitchen and laughter around the dinner table. Now two have flown and one will be twenty-one in two weeks. This project seems to highlight those now empty places. What’s a previous homeschool mom to do? When my kids were small, I never dreamed those days would fly by so soon. I also had no idea that my identity was somehow becoming intertwined with being their mom. So when the day-to-day mothering abruptly ends, whats a Mama to do? Who am I again? They were with me around the clock for so many years. Sometimes I find myself walking laps around this quiet house and when I pass Katie’s lamp I remember that I was– I am, a mother. The anchor of motherhood dropped deep within me. It will not be dislodged and why would I want it to be? Love causes the heart to grow large and soft, making it more susceptible to pain.
I am still finding my way on this path called being a grown up. I swing like a pendulum between crying in my kitchen and trying to seek my own personal growth as an adult. I pray God will help me.
Annie once told me that my strength as a leader is my vulnerability. This blessed me. It is who I am — the mother who grieves in the empty kitchen because she has loved so deeply, and that’s okay. I gave them all that I had. This is what we mothers do. All of us. We give them everything as we should. I do not regret a day of it and I do not resent them for growing up. Its what I trained them to do. I know my birdies will fly back and forth between home and the world many times, and hopefully they will bring young birdies from their own nests someday. I hope to be there to guide them as they do.
The lamp reminds me of my mothering years; snuggly hugs and bath time giggles, bed time stories, pajama feet and sleepy faces. It is listening to teenage tears and having my heart break with theirs. It is prom dress shopping, and yes, photographs of everything. It is admitting that I don’t know anything at all and begging God to mother them better than I ever could. It is thanking him that he did and still does.
I will keep the lamp burning, along with my heart. Always lit and welcoming, warm and soft– this is a mother’s heart. A beacon to home.
Isaiah 49:15 ~“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
Psalm 18:28 ~”You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”
Posted on 05. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
I have had a headache for more than 24 hours now. I don’t know if it is the change in the weather or my lack of sleep, but I have decided to try and simplify things a bit to find some relief.
So, back to finding beauty in the ordinary. (Is there such a thing as ordinary?)
Tonight, after staying indoors all day with a tension headache, I decided to go night-hunting for some lovely Jonquils. Janey and I headed out to the far end of the pasture where Jonquil hill is still bursting with color and song, even at night. It was comforting to cut flowers in the cool night air, with the subtle sweetness of the Jonquils lingering. Janey lay down at my feet and the only sound was the snip-snipping of my scissors as I carefully cut the flowers at the bottom of their stems. I remember doing this as a little girl. In fact, Jonquil gathering is one of my favorite childhood memories. I had forgotten that until tonight. We would put food coloring in their vases and watch with delight as the flowers drank the color into themselves.
I had plans for these blooms tonight. I wanted to photograph them using my off camera lighting in the darkness. They have so much detail that tends to get lost in the brightness of day. On my kitchen table in the softer lighting I could see their delicate features more readily and photograph them. Aren’t they lovely? They seem more melancholy here, but still so beautiful. The deeper shades of their character are showing through. They are ever cheerful, but they seem more vulnerable in this light.
Yes, I am still talking about flowers. They tell me things about God and myself all the time. Today they are saying life can be difficult but we still carry the glory. We still shine because the light within us is not our own. We carry the light of God, and he is never weary. Therefore we must continue to open; we must continue to bloom.
Isaiah 40:28 ~”Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”
Psalm 27:1~ “The Lord is my light and the One Who saves me. Whom should I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life.”
Posted on 04. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
I love my job. This is Cathy, (the gorgeous grandmother) with her daughter Salena and granddaughter Catherine, her namesake. Cathy was the winner of my Valentine Portrait Giveaway that Salena nominated her for. So sweet. When I chatted with Cathy on the phone I asked her if she might like to share her shoot with Salena and Catherine to include a generational photo. She giggled with excitement when I mentioned it. I took that as a yes. Isn’t that what all mothers want? We want to include our children in everything we do, even in the things that were meant just for us. I knew that would be a blessing to her and that was my goal.
First we had Cathy spend some time in hair and make up with my fabulous make up artist, Dayna. Dayna knows how to pamper my clients and I love having her spend time with them before I begin my part of the shoot.
Then I spent some time with Cathy by herself. I had so much fun making her feel like the special woman she is. She has such a gentle and beautiful spirit. I wish every woman I know would do this. I love it and I believe we need to document our lives for our families. Mothers are always behind the scenes and rarely in front of the camera. They are so beautiful, all of them, but hardly any of them know this to be true. It is my pleasure and my joy to show them this very truth. Women, hear me. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
All of you.
Then I spent time with these three in groups and individually. We had such a good time!
This whole day was a joy for me. I know this is part of my calling, to help women know they are beautiful. Thank you Salena for nominating your amazing mom, and thank you Cathy for spending the day with me!
“Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
‘Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!’
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!”
From Proverbs 31 via The Message
Posted on 03. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
I could hear their song long before I crested the hill at the end of my pasture. The Jonquils are in full bloom and singing their hearts out. I had to capture them one more time before they were silent and sleeping again. They are the first to bloom every spring. They are the bold, obedient ones who push through February’s frozen ground to welcome a spring they do not yet know. Their song is sweet and cheerful.
But there lurks an enemy in their midst.
It is no secret that I often get lost in my photography. Once I am behind the lens it is just me and my subject and I am often not aware of my circumstances. For example, last summer I stepped barefoot onto a wasp while photographing some roses on my back porch. If that weren’t painful enough (and it was extremely painful), I dropped and broke my macro lens and also ended up the ER because I went into anaphalactic shock. Yikes!
Today my enemies were fire ants. Lots of them.
If you do not live in the south, you have probably never encountered fire ants (and please count your blessings right this very minute). They are some of the most wicked creatures I have ever come across. Having grown up in Virginia, I had never met them until I moved to Georgia. I remember calling my dad to tell him about them after I was stung by them in the garden. He laughed. He could not imagine being frightened of an ant. His remark was “I just know one foot will kill a whole lot of ants”. I could see his smirk through the phone. He had no idea what I was dealing with. When Annie was barely one we took her to Stone Mountain and had a picnic. She was not saying sentences at the time but would say a word every now and then. That afternoon she kept saying the word bite. We thought it strange because she didn’t seem upset. She insisted again emphatically (like only Annie can),”Bite. BITE. B-I-I-I-GHT.” She never cried, but when we opened her diaper we found ants and bites everywhere. Bless her heart. She was a trooper. She laughs about that story now.
Today, as I often do, I lay down right in the middle of the flowers to photograph them. Leaning on my left elbow I took in the sight of the yellow flowers agains the blue sky. Lovely. It didn’t take long to feel the burning pain of fire ant bites all over my left arm. I know it well. Here is the thing about fire ants: they cover their victim quietly before they bite. By the time you are feeling pain, you are already covered in them. That’s when you do the fire ant dance, jumping up and down batting them off you and shaking out your clothes. At least that is what I do. It’s not my favorite dance.
So tonight as I look at these beautiful images of the happy Jonquils I am reminded to be more aware of my surroundings while taking photographs. My left arm is throbbing. Thankfully I did not have to go to the hospital this time. That is something to be thankful for. Focusing on the best parts of today.
When I texted Annie a photo of my battle scarred arm she texted back. ” Awww. Bite.” She remembers.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
Posted on 01. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
I am posting a second post of Jamie in my studio for my 365 Project tonight. This is bending the rules a bit but I don’t mind. There were so many lovely images of her and they speak to the places I am in right now.
I nearly quit this project again today. This happens about twice a week now. I get exhausted and I teeter back and forth between quitting and staying in the race. I don’t say this to ask for encouragement, although that is always wonderful. I just need to be honest about my journey. Trying to balance the actual business of photography with a project like this is tough. I am adding considerably to my work load. I am not getting much sleep these days, so something has to give.
When I look at Jamie’s gorgeous images I see my journey in her movement. Her dancing is raw and beautiful. She dances authentically and beautifully. As she balances tenuously between joy and pain, she carries us with her. It is not easy to dance this line. In fact, there is nothing at all easy about it. Maybe that’s where the real beauty lies. We must keep our feet tethered to this earth while continuing to reach up to heaven where our hope lies. This takes us into an exquisite spin; with our feet planted in peace, our arms upright and eyes fixed on the light, we are spun around in the dance.
I must keep dancing. I must keep going. One more day, one more effort to count graces and offer excellence to God.
One more day. One more dance.
Thank you elegant Jamie.
Philippians 3:12-14 ~
“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” The Message
Posted on 01. Mar, 2014 by maryanne.
My friend Jamie is an elegant creature. She is the very picture of vulnerability and grace. You can see it in her eyes and her smile. I love spending time with her.
But when she dances? The hands of the clock surrender and time stands still.
Honestly, it is true. She glides effortlessly across the floor and I cannot hear her feet touch the ground. I am so happy to photograph her. It is like trying to capture a butterfly as she lights from flower to flower. Jamie is dancing in my studio and I know that every place she steps those glorious feet, a burden is lifted from some heavy soul. Chains are unfettering. This is the power of worship. This is the exquisite beauty in Jamie’s dancing. The music changes to another song and I still do not speak. I am captivated. It is a precious gift to be present when Jamie dances. She reflects God’s glory and every shadow is chased away in the light.
For those moments in time we were suspended by grace. God drew near and we were on holy ground.
Thank you Jamie for christening my new studio space. You have helped to open the gates for much blessing to come.
2 Corinthians 3:18 ~”So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”
Posted on 28. Feb, 2014 by maryanne.
Today was Shine a Light on Slavery Day sponsored by The End It Movement. To help raise awareness for the 27 million men, women and children trapped in slavery around the world, many of us wore a red X on our hands. I asked these young women to come represent those people for my project today. These are amazing women. They will fight for those in need. They were part of a dance team I led for many years and I know their hearts. They are warriors. I am so proud to know them and to have been part of their lives for so long. What a blessing.
I have seen these girls (who are now women) encircle those who were in trouble and lift them up to God many times. I have seen them dance upon the heads of their enemies with songs of praise in their mouths. Who better to fight for the downtrodden? You can find out more about the End It Movement at enditmovement.com.
Isaiah 61:1-3 ~
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”
Posted on 26. Feb, 2014 by maryanne.
It was one of those days. I never saw the ledge, but I surely stepped off and fell right into the darkness. I am surprised by these dark days and I am grateful that they are more the exception and not the rule anymore. For a brief period of my life, they were my normal. For a season — an awful season — I found myself swirling, spiraling into the blackness every day.
If this is something you know well, I am so sorry. Here are some things I have learned to do when these days come.
1. Rest. Sometimes I just need to pull back from the stresses of life and rest. Giving myself permission to take a nap or a walk instead of working incessantly can do wonders for me.
2. Remember. This is just a day. This will not last forever. I remember God’s goodness in my life and ask for his perspective. Mine is obviously skewed and I need to know things from his point of view. Counting gifts does wonders for the heart.
3. Reach out. When I am feeling this way, the last thing I want to do is reach out to my friends. I don’t know why we are like this. Maybe pride? Fear? I have to remind myself of the times others have reached out to me in need and how it endeared them to me. We love to help others. Why would I deny someone the joy of being my friend when I need them?
It’s days like this I miss my daddy most. I just want to call him and hear his voice again. “Hey Mary Babe” he would always say. He was always so glad to hear my voice. I loved chatting with him about the flowers. He was a gardener and we shared a love for planting things. He would always tell me what was coming up in his yard. The tulips I planted for him are coming up around my birdhouse now. I just want to tell him about them, “Dad, I planted Tulips for you. They are red, your favorite color.”
I miss my dad, and it’s okay to cry about it. I think I can finally do that.
If you have had a hard day, or a bad week, my heart aches for you. I think we go through things sometimes just so we can be a better friend to others. Compassion sews threads of kindness into the lives of others. We cannot have it if we have not experienced pain of some sort in our own lives. Know this: God is with you and he loves you dearly. He is present with you and he will give you just what you need. You are not alone. Ever.
Psalm 34:4-7 ~
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”
Posted on 25. Feb, 2014 by maryanne.
I am drawn to them, the remnant of last year’s hydrangeas now softly suspended in the front garden. “I see you” I say to them. I see their truest form, their inmost makings now revealed for all the world to view. Their flower bones rattle in the cold winter breeze and yet they still cling to their source. They are a picture of the beauty that comes with brokenness.
I see myself.
Gone is the color and vigor of summer; gone are the loud parades and tossing of bouquets. Only their lovely frames remain, the places that make them who they are. I smile at their fragility. It is more beautiful to me than the opaque pinks and blues of summer. These flowers still sing glory. They still reflect the beauty of their maker. They are utterly and completely vulnerable. Having shed their defenses, they can now know love in its most exhilarating form.
And they know this — spring will come again and they will be reborn. Strength made perfect in weakness, life through death and surrender. Yes, let go and let him in.
This is the way of love.
“Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.”