I hope this is how they remember their childhood; simple, yet so full.
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The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
There’s something emotional for me about seeing these five together in a frame. Family knows us in ways that some never will. My husband has seen me in some of my most ungraceful moments; moments of selfishness, moments of hurt, and moments of fear. My children have seen me in my most impatient hours; tired, worn out, and irritable. And these realities; they go both ways. It's a constant yo yo of love and forgiveness. It’s not from lack of love; but simply humanity filled with our imperfect and selfish ways.
Family can often be the people that we hurt the most; yet, at the same time we love them with the deepest and most crazy love. It’s incredible to know love like this. Pure and unconditional. I believe love and life are both made up of the imperfect. People. Memories. The mistakes and stories waiting to unfold. The struggles and successes merge together to create a life that we will one day look back on.
Many days, I hurt my family and in turn they hurt me. We are all weak and imperfect on our own. But, each new day is adorned in grace and mercy. Each new day, we have the chance to come before God and ask Him to help us be more like Him. Each trial we go through on our own, or as a family, gives us a chance to seek Him. He brings light to the dark. And because of that, I humbly thank Him for this imperfect life and for these imperfect people to love and grow with.
This will be our fourth Christmas in Florida since moving home from North Carolina in 2011. This time of year, I often miss the first snow of the season, Christmas tree farms with fresh trees, daily fires in the living room, and friends who lingered in the yard visiting while our kids played. Truthfully, there is a lot I still miss about the life we left behind.
This weekend we spent the day at a community wide event for our small hometown. We visited with friends from our childhood in 80 degree weather and sunshine. We saw grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as we walked around the event. We came home and spent time on the lake and dinner surrounded by family. This is December, now in Florida. There is so much to be thankful for. I know that this is right where we need to be and I am grateful for God’s provision.
Perhaps, you are also missing a place or a person during this holiday season. I would love to say there was a magical way to make that pain or void go away. Instead, I urge you to look around where you are, see who you are with, and find the beauty in this season of your life. It isn't always easy, but it can totally change your perspective. It can totally change your life.
(On a side note, if you look closely, you will see our daughter is almost in tears in this picture. Yes, this is the reality of this time of year; busy days, not enough sleep, and sometimes extra grumpy children.)
It seems we never get quite enough daylight these days, but I sure do love the fall sunsets. The two of you love your impromptu play dates.
The past few weeks my emotions have been high. Frustrations have gotten the best of me and at times I’ve felt overwhelmed. I am usually a strong and positive person. But, sometimes, I am weak. I call out to God with questions. I want to know He is there.
Sunday, I was listening to the song Reason to Sing by All Sons and Daughters, “I need a reason to sing. I need a reason to sing. I need to know that you're still holding the whole world in your hands. I need a reason to sing.
In the song, singer Leslie Jordan shares this verse, "But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to The Lord because he is good to me." Psalm 13:5-6
She then continues singing, “I will sing, sing, sing to my God, my King for all else fades away. And I will love, love, love with this heart You've made for You've been good always.”
This song was a reminder that He has always been good to me and that His plans are for me. They reminded me to come humbly before Him and give Him my needs.
During difficult times, we often lose sight of His presence; but, He is always with us. Yesterday, I spent time at the lake with baby Sissy. A few minutes after these pictures were taken I was soaked and laughing with you in the water. There was something about that time at the lake that changed my perspective. In those moments together, I could feel His love for me. I could feel His goodness. As I continued to sit at the lake last night, I felt a renewed peace and I remembered why I have a reason to sing.
This has been the summer of kayaking. You guys love kayak on the lake with your friends and cousins and explore. Baby sissy is patiently waiting her turn to be old enough to kayak by herself. And a portrait of the three of you is wonderful to capture. Real expressions and all.
Abundant joy, laughter, smiles. I want to look back on my days with you and remember these moments fully. Often, as I lay next to you at bedtime, I let my shortcomings fog my memory of the day. Perhaps, I lost my patience, raised my voice, and didn't listen intently. I could go on, but I won’t. You see, I am so good at giving grace to the three of you. I love you with a total unconditional love, yet I forget to love my self this way.
This weekend I read these words from Judah Smith: “Grace points us toward Jesus. It keeps us humble, and it also gives us hope that we can live a good life after all. When we mess up, we don’t get emotionally derailed. We get up and try again because we know Jesus is on our side. He’s not mad at us or even disappointed in us. He’s excited that we are trying and he is there to help us learn and grow.”
I am guessing I am not the only one that has ever “emotionally derailed” when thinking back on the day’s events. As I remind myself, I want to remind others as well; every day is a new day to keep trying. He is using every mistake, trial, and bad day, to allow us to grow closer to Him, if we just let Him. I want to do more than just get up and try again. I want to remember the Joy that only He gives us. That Joy is not circumstantial and is always there to give us strength. And His Mercy is greater than any shortcoming.
It was another fun filled morning in the sun and water with your cousins.
When I began studying photography, Stacey was one of the first photographers I started to follow. Her work always had something special about it that I admired. Over the years we began talking online through email and social media. Today, we finally met in person. It is such a blessing to see how God really had a hand in our friendship. We are such kindred spirits.
You guys enjoyed her children as well. Dock jumping, kayaking, swimming, tree climbing, soccer, barbies, movies....you had a blast together. My heart is full and I will cherish the memories of today always. As you grow up, never take true friends for granted. God gives us friends to help us through the good and bad times of life. Love and nurture the relationships always.
(You can see more images from our fun play date here)
You chased, you captured, and you squealed. And then you did it again. Over and over. The two of you had so much fun with this frog by the lake. I love and cherish the memories you share. Childhood is such a special season.
You always want to be with your big Sissy and Bubby. Often times you follow them without hesitation. Sometimes it is mama asking you to stay back and to be more cautious. I know, you are almost 5 now and you are becoming so brave and ready to try so many fun things. In my heart, you will always be my little baby girl. Our sweet one who came into this world almost 8 weeks early. You were so tiny, but already so full of life. I believe you still carry this same spirit. I love you always and forever.