Monthly Archives: July 2012

Big memories of small things

Boxed up memories drop into my lap, making me sneeze once really, really hard.
Tiny cups meant for doll house tea time hold so much more than imaginary drinks with one lump of sugar.
An old fashioned loo with pull-chain for flushing, claw-foot tub, and pedestal sink.
Tiny bed and dresser, sofa and chairs, piano.
A hand-carved mailbox with my maiden name etched into the side.
They were mine once.
Now they are hers.

Dolls and blankets and plush toys a part of my past or his weave their way back into our lives.
Decades old Hot Wheels still roll and puzzles still have all of their pieces.
Rainbow xylophones clang as loudly as they did thirty years ago.
Ponies are faded and chipped, but still ready to ride.

I take a moment to scroll through our pictures, our days documented for family and friends to see.
(But – really – mostly for me, for us).
Gratitude pours over me as I look at our days in photographs.
Oh, how I wish I could capture it all.
I try to remember – remember every single minute of the good.
(And even some of the bad.
Because without the bad, the good wouldn’t taste quite as sweet.)

We laugh.  We giggle.  We run.
We splash in puddles, dance in the rain.
We cuddle.  We act silly.  We create.
We make big memories of small things.

Giving Up

I swallow hard and blink three times.
A warmth washes over me and a peace fills the space where there was turmoil.
I look back on all the months of struggle, internal debate
And I smile at myself.
Because I knew all along what to do.
I resisted for too long.
Out of fear, I pushed it away.
But it always came running back.
And so I took the bait.
And as I jumped, I felt the rush of freedom.
And I smiled.
Because surrender isn’t easy, but it’s wonderful.
It isn’t glamorous, but it’s beautiful.
It isn’t the norm, but it’s necessary.
Never give up, we are conditioned to say.
But sometimes it is the giving up that lets us grow.


The young man asked to take her picture, hear her story.
I glanced quickly at what he captured.
A beautiful woman, most likely in her 80s.
Tall, elegant, timeless.
But the thing that caught my eye?
Her hands.
The skin no longer firm or pink.
Washed out from many washings.
Made soft by lotion and time.
Weathered by life.


When Marshall’s grandmother was ill,
I took a picture of Alden’s hand placed gently on top of Gaga’s hand by Marshall’s sister.
The picture isn’t perfect.
It’s not technically a sharp image by any means, but it cuts like a knife.
The edges are blurry – most likely from my hands not being quite steady enough.
But I like to believe that my camera knew that my eyes were misty.
And it captured the moment exactly as I saw it – blur and all.

I can’t look at that picture without thinking of my Mama Jo’s hands.
Gnarled and knotted by arthritis, they ached constantly.
She told me (more than once) that she was actually pleased when children asked about it.
Adults, she said, never ask.  They just pretend it’s normal.
Maybe they are just being polite; I don’t know.
But with children?  With children it is different.
Curiosity can’t be contained and as mouth catches up with eyes and brain, the words fly out:
What’s wrong with your hands?
What are those bumps?
Do you need a bandaid?

She would tell what and why.
And let them feel.
Mothers, often with faces flushed, told children not to be rude.
Oh, I don’t mind, she’d say.
There’s fear in not knowing.

There is, indeed, fear in not knowing.
A lot.

And so I find myself trying to be more like the children, less like the mothers.
Asking questions (without being rude).
Not ignoring the obvious differences, but acknowledging them.

Jesus said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children.” -Matthew 18:3a(NIRV)

Twenty Five Dollars Plus Shipping

My soul is restless.
I struggle with being in this world, but not of it.
I want to not be tied down to stuff and things.
But it’s not easy.
I love pretty things.
I love to create things.
I love to have things.
But in my heart, I know there’s more hiding in less.

Recently in my Facebook feed, I saw the picture of a young Ethiopian boy.
Thirteen years old.
Raising a family.
His family.
Not his whole family, mind you.
Just the boy and his 4 younger siblings.
No mother, no father.
And he wants to be a doctor.
Oh, how that makes my heart ache.
In so, so many ways.
(For the good and the bad.
Because there is always both.)

Directly beneath the post of Jabril and his siblings, there is another link.
This one for the pre-sale of Christmas pajamas.
$25 (plus shipping) for one pair of pajamas.

And it just hit me hard.
Like knock-the-wind-out-of-you hard.

Here is this boy, this little boy.
Living in a mud house with dirt floors.
And we are spending $30 on pajamas.
I myself just spent $90 on a bag.
A bag!
It’s a nice bag and not just any bag.
And it has a purpose.
And I got a really, really good deal on it.
And it is one of those classic items that will last a long time.
But ultimately it is still a bag.

See how easy it was for me to justify spending nearly a hundred dollars?
I am tied to things.
And I’m guessing you may be, too.

But I am realizing the thing I (should) want most is for something to change.
Something within me, something within you.
I’m not suggesting we all sell everything we have.
I’m not planning on getting rid of my car or not buying birthday presents for the children.
I don’t even know what I really am suggesting.
I just know that my heart is heavy.
My heart is heavy for the thousands of Jabrils across the world.
For the single fathers in Detroit.
And the fatherless and motherless in Ethiopia.
For the grandparents in Texas raising their children’s children.
And the little girls in China, waiting to be wanted, to be loved.
I feel the ache in my in-most being, where words can’t be found.

And yet even with that, my heart soars for these same people, with them.
Because in them I see hope, joy, dreams.
They don’t have a lot of things but they certainly have something.

I struggle to find words to go with my thoughts.
I want to support others without being condescending or falling into the savior syndrome trap.
I want to be encouraging and generous.
I want to be kind and giving and helpful.
And I want to teach my children to give and love and help.
But it’s hard.
Especially when I want to go out to eat again.
Or when I really, really want a new dress.
Or when I ‘need’ new shoes.

Where’s the line?
The one between stuff and simplicity?
How much want is too much?
How many things are too many?
I still believe that there’s nothing wrong with having nice things –
As long as there is a balance between keeping and giving.
Now if I could just find that balance, that’d be great.


For $30 per child, you can have picture perfect pjs on Christmas morning.
Or you could help another child to grow, to learn, to prosper.
For $28, give books to a Georgia child for a year via The Ferst Foundation.
For only $20 buy a gaggle of geese for a family in China through Heifer International.
Or give a child in Liberia the gift of education through the Balama Development Alliance.

In the Shadows of a Boy I See a Man

In the shadows of a boy, I see a man.
Courage, compassion, intellectual voracity already shine bright
But in the deep, hidden parts there is more.
There is a strength not yet discovered.
There is faith not yet figured.
There are grand ideas not yet imagined.
There is so much to be, so much possibility.
And there are so many things I want to tell him.
(For now, and for then).

You are stronger than you think.
The trick is in knowing when to push on and when to let go.

Even when you aren’t sure what you believe,
love God and serve others.
Faith will follow.

Make friends with people who are like you.
And also with people who are drastically different.
Enjoy diversity.

Believe that you can do it.
And then just do it.
(Whatever ‘it’ may be).

It is not always easy to be honest.
But say what you mean and mean what you say.

Remember the power of words.
A simple syllable can change the world.
“Yes” can affirm, encourage, inspire.
“No” can be a catapult for great change.
It won’t be easy, but look for the good hiding in every answer.

Be kind.
Be loyal.
Be gentle.

Be giving and forgiving.
Friendly and fair.

Be honorable.
Be determined.
Be sensible.

Be hopeful and helpful.
Happy and healthy.

Be generous.
Be grateful.
Be joyful.

Be all of those things.
(But mostly just be you).


Tea Time

The children all spent the night with my parents on Wednesday night.
On Thursday, I was invited to Gramama’s for tea at noon.
My parents and grandparents were there.
Even my brother was a good sport and played along (although he managed to avoid being photographed).

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Heart Words

Where is that line?
The line between okay and not.
I feel like we aren’t tip-toeing near it, but dancing on top of it.
Taunting it.  Daring it.  Deriding it.

I try to think more, say less.
I try to be more, do less.
(But oh, that is so hard for me!)

My heart aches with words that my mind doesn’t know.
I try to translate, but I get tongue tied.
And even when there are words, I’m afraid to speak them –
The ‘what-ifs’ a muzzle on my soul, my heart.

I never asked for this, never wanted this, never expected this.
But here it is, and I don’t really know what to do.
I don’t know how to respond because either way I chance being hurt.
Or (maybe even worse) hurting others.

If we’ve all been here before
(and, I assure you, we all have)
then why do I still feel so alone?

She Reads Truth

I have several bibles, but I hardly ever read them.
Once I found the YouVersion bible app, I haven’t read a paper bible at all.
They have it for almost every mobile operating system and for desktop.
You can read almost any translation available (a wide variety of English translations as well as hundreds of other languages).
Having all of these translations at my fingertips has helped me greatly with really understanding what I’m reading.

When I first got the app, I noticed it had a ton of bible study guides available within the app.
You start the bible study (or Reading Plan) and it keeps up with your progress.
You can even set it to send you reminders to do your daily reading.

A few months ago I kept seeing the hashtag on my instagram stream: #shereadstruth
It was always attached to pictures that were inspiring and uplifting.
And so I clicked around and found the source: She Reads Truth website.

It’s a group of women doing a virtual bible study.
You can be as involved or uninvolved as you want.
You can read it on your own or you can interact with the #shereadstruth community.

When I first started doing this (I started a little late and had to catch up), they were doing the Soul Detox devotional.
I really, really enjoyed that one.

We are now doing Living the Surrendered Life, and I promise you the author is in my head.

I also love that they provide a weekly graphic that you can use as your phone’s lock screen.
It’s the memory verse of the week and has been exactly what I needed!

This week’s verse is Ephesians 4:29, which is timely considering our little kerfluffle last week.
I’m always amazed (though maybe I shouldn’t be) when the same verses keep popping up over and over.

I am so grateful for the She Reads Truth ladies, their story, and their guidance.
Wouldn’t you like to join us?

(One of my favorite parts is seeing what everyone else is doing.  Go here to be inspired.)

Sn(app) Happy

I have published (in one way or another) over 1500 pictures from my phone since early 2011.
I’ve probably taken 5 times that.  (Here are some of my favorites!)
When I first fell in love with phone photography, I had a Droid and major iPhone app envy.
Mostly, I.wanted.Instagram.*
The first day I was eligible, I high-tailed it to the  store to get my brand-new iPhone.
The very first app I uploaded was Instagram and it was love at first sight.

Almost every image that I post has been processed in one way or another.
I will occasionally use the Instagram filters, but often I want a more specific look from my pictures.
Luckily, there are tons of great (and usually easy) ways to do that!

In this eBook by Alli Worthington, you will find a wide variety of information about apps and ideas and how-tos.
(I talk about my go-to app, Magic Hour, in chapter 3, and my pictures are scattered all throughout the book!)

But the best part? It’s only $5!

Want to make your pictures pop?  Want to turn good photos into great ones?  Just want to know which apps are for you?
This book is great for newbies and established (iPhone) photographers.
She touches on basic photography guidelines, but also shares tips you won’t see anywhere else online.

Oh!  And one more thing!  (Or maybe two more things.) (Ok, maybe three.)
1. I am a featured photographer in this book!  How cool is that?

2. Because Alli is all about sharing the love, for each copy of this book that is purchased from my affiliate link, I will get $3.75!

3. And I can’t wait to tell you more about ways another one of Alli’s (and friends) photography projects can help you earn money!  Click here to learn more about Picha Global, which will be making it’s debut soon!


*Instagram is now available for iPhone as well as for Droid (via Google Play).

Summer S’mores

One of the things on our Summer To Do list was make s’mores.

It is waaaaay to hot to be starting a fire and using the microwave is just so boooooring.
So we decided to try it a new way.
Cover the inside of a big bowl with tin foil.
Then put another ball of foil in the center.
Insert toothpicks into the center ball and add marshmallows.
Cover with plastic wrap and sit it out in the sun.


While the sun is doing it’s magic, place chocolate onto crackers and let it get good and smooooshy.

In about 15-20 minutes (depending on the heat), the marshmallows will be warm enough to squish between the crackers.

Just make sure you have lots and lots of wet wipes!



And that you are prepared for the we-don’t-have-any-more drama.