This week we were so excited that our cousins' new ducklings were old enough for us to visit. We spent one afternoon playing, chasing, and watching these sweet girls. The kids keep asking when we are going to get our own. Right now, we are going to live vicariously through our cousins but I am very tempted to make the purchase. They were so sweet and cute..and seeing the kids with them was precious.
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We spent the morning at a local blueberry farm enjoying the blue skies, cool breezes, and sweet berries. Crown Jewel Farms is a beautiful place to take your whole family to experience picking organic locally grown blueberries. The kids all had such a fun time and we can't wait to make lots of smoothies, blueberry muffins and other yummy treats. Head on over to their site to get information about pricing, location, and hours of operation.
“Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.” ― Ann Voskamp
Last week one evening my niece was over playing with my youngest daughter. As I watched them, I couldn't help but feel the joy. Their squeals were loudly heard in the back yard and their smiles were radiating almost as bright as the evening sun. At 3 it seems pretty easy to be joyful. Worry and disappointment comes in the form of not getting to buy another app on the I Pad or not getting one more cookie for dessert. These sweet cousins were not even aware they had a limited 45 minutes to play together that night. They just lived those 45 minutes to the fullest, without a thought elsewhere.
It makes me wonder, as we get older, when does this natural joyous state begin to change, and why does it have to? As I've mentioned before I've been reading 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp. I have been challenged to open my heart to the gifts all around me. I have been challenged to see the seemingly insignificant as beautiful as God intended it to be. I desire to let go of the worrying about tomorrow and embrace each day and moment for what it is. As I look at these images today, I am reminded to live joyfully and to open my heart to the fullest life God has to offer. I know that God is presenting this gift to me daily and I want to open my heart and grasp it always. Sometimes, this is easy. But, admittedly, sometimes it has to be done with a conscious effort. In either case, it is there waiting for all of us.
There really is so much beauty waiting to be appreciated in any direction I look. And for these 45 minutes, it was indeed pure bliss. It was giggles, swinging, sunlight, little hands and barefeet, lake breezes, blonde curls, a sweet dimple.
I am thankful for this joy.
each month i'll be documenting a "time of play" with my children. you can read more about this monthly project here. what child doesn't LOVE play dough? i know all three of mine do. i think it is honestly great for each of them because it truly allows their creative minds to go to work. one morning this week we went outside and all made some sweet treats. it was the perfect activity for a cloudy overcast day, hence the lack of any sunshine in my pictures. (but this project isn't about getting the best pictures each month. it's about documenting quality time together).
head on over to the blog of my dear friend Jude Wood--she is always up to something fun with her four children.
I was so excited when I found out I was going to be a contributor for Mozi Magazine's March Child Issue. What an honor it is to be among many talented artists whom I admire so much. I was thrilled today to finally see the magazine. This edition is packed full of inspiration and knowledge and I know you will love it. I am hosting a giveaway for one digital copy. In addition, since it's been such a chilly few weeks across most of the country, I am including a gift card to Starbucks.
To be entered for the giveaway leave a comment below. Then, head on over and make sure you've liked Mozi Magazine's facebook page .
I'll be announcing a winner on my facebook page on Monday, March 11, 2013. All entries must be made by 11:59 EST Friday, March 8, 2013.
"when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I" -psalm 62:1 my heart becomes so heavy as i think about all of the needs of this world and the people hurting and in pain. my husband recently returned from passion 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia and upon his return we discussed all of the people in human slavery. it is gut wrenching to hear these awful tragedies. our church continues to do missions to Guatemala, Brazil and other parts of the world and last summer my husband was able to take part in a mission to Guatemala. the images he shared with me of beautiful little girls searching through a trash dump are still vivid in my head. these delicate souls searching for shoes, food, and comforts we have taken for granted since birth.
i follow photographers whom i admire for their own courage and grace as they have gone abroad to capture those who so desperately need their stories told. one of those photographers is Deb Schwedhelm and i have been so moved by her work in Tanzania. she is an amazing photographer and the way she has been able to make a difference inspires me in so many ways. last week i came across the work of Sarah Robertson who moved me in the images she was able to capture while overseas in Kenya. and another photographer and friend, Breeze of Love Resembles, is currently raising funds for her own trip to Africa and i couldn't be more excited to see her journey in pictures. i know in my heart that God has given me my gifts to use them for His Glory and purpose and i really believe one day that mission work is a piece of this plan.
some days i get frustrated and even critical of myself because i feel like there is so much to be done and i am doing so little. but then God gently reminds me that the place i am at is where i am needed today. we still have three young children whom are home with us full time as we home school. my husband's job keeps him very busy. i am the constant for my children and am their rock in many ways right now. there will be a time when their needs will not be as great, but for now i need to remember that i am doing God's work right in my own home. my husband and i pray that our children will grow up to love others of the world more than themselves and that we can demonstrate servant-hood to them through our own actions daily. each day servant-hood within my family plays a different role, never one more important than the other. by loving each other in all we do, we are sharing the love of our Lord.
my husband left on a trip with work a few days ago and my oldest daughter is always very upset when he leaves. this morning she came up to me and asked me if she could make a recipe "all by herself" from her cupcake book. this meant that we would need to head to the store and get all the ingredients. my first reaction was "maybe", thinking she would get busy and forget. our youngest daughter has been sick and fussy and the last thing i really wanted to do was to take them all to the grocery store again (we'd just been there last night). but after a few moments, i went and found my daughter and i said yes. today, serving meant making this happen for her. she is always such a help to me and though it didn't feel convenient at the time, i knew how much this would mean to her. servant hood means being present for my children and seeing what is important to them and why. it was fun to watch her create her tie-dye cupcakes all by herself. she felt independent and special. but most of all, for a little while her mind was off the pain she felt on a Sunday afternoon not having her daddy home to spend time with.
and let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. -Galatians 6:9
dear bubby, for your birthday a few months ago i shared a letter with you about how you complete me in so many unexpected ways. having you, our only son, has taught me so much about love. you have shown me that love doesn't always come easy; it can be messy, hard and challenging. but wow, what a gift your love is. it can be quiet and tender and so thoughtful as well.
you are all boy in all you do. you are fearless and competitive and you love to be rough and explore the world around you. i often wonder if somehow you are missing out by being surrounded by girls all the time. you are the middle child in our family with two sisters and you live on the same street as five of your girl cousins. sometimes, i get sad as i see all of the girls playing, that you do not have a boy to share your childhood with. yes, you have friends, but not a brother or a cousin close by in age or proximity.
i have come to realize that you are just fine and you are going to be an amazing man one day because of being the only boy. you indeed are all boy, yet you have a tender side to you that is beautiful. you care how other people are feeling and you express empathy for them. you have learned patience as your sweet girl cousins admire you and always want to be near you. you have learned to find your own "role" in your sisters' pretend games. God had an awesome plan with blessing our family with you as our only boy. we all have learned so much through you.
thank you for being who you are. thank you for the laughter you bring into our home and the love you speak, not with words, but through lovely actions. i am so blessed to have you as my one and only son.
i love you to the moon and back.
te amo, mama
i am blessed to be a part of this circle of amazing artists and friends to write letters to our children each month. up next in our group is amy grace. she is always able to use her incredibly soulful words and images to capture the beautiful love she shares with her children.
"where there is love there is life. "-Mahatma Gandhi
this month i decided to do my 10 on 10 a little different. my goal this year is to use this monthly post as a time to capture 10 images captured throughout one day to tell the story of our daily life. BUT as an artist, sometimes other visions creep in and play out differently. today i am sharing 10 simple images of our two daughters together. these were all taken in a span of about 5 minutes, but the story of these images would take me forever to tell.
with these images i share ten words i hope and pray my girls will always remember when they think of one another.
i am extremely blessed to being doing this project with a wonderful group of ladies that i have already grown to love so much. i am amazed daily by all of their talent. please follow along our circle and see what the beautiful and extremely talented Summer Murdock has captured this month for her 10.
it only take a few moments, to stop, observe, and capture the special connections i see daily in our home. these are the memories i want to hold close to my heart forever and i am so glad i stopped this morning to do this.
i was super excited and surprised a few weeks ago to receive the news that i made it to round two of the matilda jane photo love contest. i have been a lover of the matilda jane clothing line since attending my first trunk show last summer. i love it because it is fun and unique for my 8 year old daughter; but not too grown up, like many other lines of clothing offered for tween girls. and my 3 year old daughter loves it as well. ( but to be honest, she is just as happy wearing her panties for the day, clothing is always optional with her) for round two of the photo love contest, each contestant was sent an outfit and a word. when i opened my package and saw my word i couldn't be more delighted. it was as if they picked the word just for my daughter. she is such a true blessing in our lives and anyone that knows her, knows what a special soul she is.
according to merriam webster's dictionary:
2 : marked by genuineness : true
"gratitude is the memory of the heart." ~Jean Baptiste Massieu i have been working on a daily personal project of gratitude during the month of november. you can see my week one post here. this week i am here to share my past 7 days of thanks. as i take time each day to reflect on the people and things i am thankful for, my heart becomes full of memories and love. it has been such a gift to me to be able to realize daily that even the most simple things in life are what make it hugely wonderful.
i am thankful day 8- today i am grateful for the wonderful "cool front" that has brought beautiful fall weather to florida the past two days. cool enough for a jacket, but not too cold for bare feet.
i am thankful day 9- today i am grateful for the lessons that the gift of motherhood brings into my life-- even when I struggle through hard moments such as these. it is a reminder that through all of these times God is refining me into the person he has planned for me to become♥
i am thankful day 10- i am so grateful that whenever we want to visit my parents and ANY of my siblings and their families, that they are only a walk (scooter or skateboard ride) away. so blessed to live so close to family after being gone for so many years♥
i am thankful day 11-today i am grateful for the many mini-messes i find like these on our back porch. it reminds me that we are blessed to have three healthy children who love to play together and play outside. a simple but huge blessing indeed.
i am thankful day 12- today i am thankful for baby dolls. they really take my girls into a world of their own and bring so much joy into our house ♥
i am thankful day 13- today i am thankful that i had a mother who took the time to do fun traditions with us as children (like making Christmas cookies) & i feel even more grateful now to share these same traditions with my own babies. time with your children--i don't think there is a more precious gift
i am thankful day 14-i am so thankful for all of the sources of technology we are blessed with today. certainly, there is a time and place for it all (and yes, it can be a distraction) but it has also brought us so much joy in many different ways. skype calls with daddy while he is countries apart, emails and phone calls from friends and family far away, videos of moments never to be forgotten, and resources to be used at the tip of our fingers....(only to name a few.)
there is nothing i love more than capturing children in their element. no fussy clothes, poses, or expectations. i love just being there to watch their story unfold. i love when i can go into a home and capture a child in their world without them knowing i am there. this is where the magic is for me. these images bring me so much joy-the light, the connection, and the fun. i was able to become one with it all. they tell me the story of being two.
these girls have graced my blog before--they are like family to us and i am so happy i could capture them together again. i 've been so busy this fall, i haven't been able to blog all of the amazing families i have spent time with. but i just knew i couldn't let this session pass without sharing it. i love that their mother, blair used this opportunity to let her girls have fun and just enjoy doing something they love....dressing up and playing in all of mama's fun things. i had such a fun time being a part of these special moments.
before our dress up party we did have some fun together outside as well
"the days are so long, but the years are so short" -excerpt from the happiness project i remember distinctly typing this quote almost a year ago as our group started this project together and here we are almost twelve months later. the years simply fly by much too quickly. no day is an ordinary day as the mother of my three children. every day is a new adventure -some days we find fun and laughter; some days bring tears and trials; while others are filled with questions, sickness, triumphs, and surprises. but most importantly, our days are filled with love. and this love will be constant no matter how many years go by. today, i share my last 10 on 10 for the year. the ordinary moments are extraordinary when shared with those you love the most. today i have 10 moments from JUST ONE beautiful day shared with my children. i hope you enjoy.
thank you for following this project this year. to continue on with our blog circle please head on over to the blog of Elizabeth Jane Photo and see what her day included this month.
november is always a crazy time of the year as we prepare for the Holiday season. it seems that between fall activities with our children, sports, holiday photo sessions, and just life...the days really are filled to the max. this year i wanted to take the time each day to be grateful for the many blessings in my life. i decided to do this as a photo project. some of these are HUGE blessings and some of them are the little things that make my life complete. each week during november i will share my daily photos... I am thankful day 1- i am thankful for this time with my children-not only as their mother but as their teacher. God has blessed us in so many ways. today we created our thankful tree. (without prompting from me, i love that Ellie was thankful for having family around and Mason for God--and little Caroline yelled Jesus--for sure that was probably what she "thought" she should say, but so happy HE is on her mind ♥
I am thankful day 2- so thankful for my firstborn--for the gift of becoming a mother and for the bond we share. she truly has a beautiful soul that is more than I could have ever dreamed for. she has been my rock in so many times when I've been "running the house" alone with my husband deployed. so grateful for this love in my life!
I am thankful day 3- today i am thankful for the simple things that bring so much joy. bare feet in november and the wonderful world of dress up.
I am thankful day 4- today and every Sunday i am thankful for this time to go to church as a family to learn, grow and worship together. we are so blessed to live in a country where we can freely do this
I am thankful day 5 - i am grateful today for the gift of sisterhood. i feel so blessed to have 2 amazing sisters who i now live so close to AND i am also incredibly thankful to see my daughters have each other as sisters... "A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life." ~Isadora James
I am thankful day 6- today i am so thankful for our only son that is sandwiched in between his two sisters. for the love he brings all of us and his crazy zest for life. we are so blessed that they have him to look out for them and LOVE them..AND to show them another world --apart from dress-ups, baby dolls, and other girly fun. here they are off to have a rock throwing contest. LOVE!!
I am thankful day 7- so grateful for the natural light that pours into our house. we have huge windows in every room of our house which is such a blessing when capturing my three babes at home. never forget the small things that bring joy in life.
thank you for joining our circle for another month of the illuminated word project. you can learn more about this special project here. on monday we celebrated my birthday. in the morning i came down stairs to find two signs made by my husband and my oldest daughter. one of the signs had the following scripture on it which seemed so fitting and perfect to share this month. i completely feel blessed in every way to be a part of the family God has bestowed me with ...
Proverbs 31:28-29: 28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:29 “Many women do noble things,but you surpass them all.”
and here i am with these amazing gifts from God...(on halloween eve before we headed out to our neighborhood get together)
off we go for some halloween fun...
and one last one-just because every time i look at it, i get a big smile on my face...
i'd love for you to continue on to the blog of Jessica Risinger and see what has been on her heart this month...
hello sweet boy,
today you turn 6. i can still remember the moment we found out we would be welcoming a little boy into our world. to be quite honest--i didn't know what i would do with a boy. i was caught off guard and surprised in all kinds of ways. i would never have dreamed the way that you would complete my life, like only you can. you have taught me so much about life and living it. you have taught me that parenting isn't always easy...it can be messy, hard, and challenging, but it is such a gift i never want to take for granted. you have shown me what it means to live out a crazy love, so full of emotion and presence . you have displayed a kind of bravery and zest for life that i envy and desire for myself to take on. you remind me so much of your dad in this way. i hope you will remain fearless and strong in your choices. you, our middle child, have shown each of us an extraordinary love. the way you take care of your baby sister makes me warm every time i see you together. and the way you look up to your big sister is so endearing. i pray that this adoration for your sisters never ends and that you will always be the best of friends. the lake has really become your happy place. whether you are spending time fishing, digging for treasures, or just running around in complete bliss. it is where you find peace and solace. i love that at six you still want me to lay with you at bed time. some nights you ask that i don't snuggle you; but then if i give you a few moments, you slowly embrace me. these moments with you are so precious; i hope i will feel and remember them always. never forget how much you mean to each of us. your dad and i pray that you will walk with the Lord and follow His plan for you in all you do. you have a special heart and so many gifts to give this world. happy birthday my sweet son.
i love you to the moon and back
“enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” robert brault