Fifteen

It’s become a welcome sort of ritual for the end of the year,
reflecting on the journey, peaks and valleys,
embracing the gifts wrapped up in lessons,
captured in snapshots of our daily,
and ordering them into this little space.

Because

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The same one who ordains the paintings of the sky, painting it with fierce devotion gold, strokes of rich and royal scarlet simply to sing His love,
whispers in the ordinary, tucking miracles into the mundane.
Life

And that’s why, every year now for several years now I’ve collected my favorite photographs from the previous twelve months,
(last year’s are here)
but as much as the camera has become an extension of my heart,
the written word has become a way to wrap my understanding around the journey.

And so
because I’ve heard it said once,
“If you want to see God’s faithfulness,
write down your story.”,
and yes, He is so very faithful,
these are my favorite fifteen (plus a couple) images of 2015 with links to their stories below them.

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Shrinking from dust of callous and weary, I was caught up in breath of salt and glint, I was caught up in light.
Here I could now hear finally the song drowned too easily by discontent distraction,
here there was space to savor creation’s melody of reflection shifting gaze to the Creator.

Oh to fix my eyes on this the face of Faithfulness.

In the day in, day out, the sun’s rise through dirty panes and loud mornings of bustling children and dishes and budget and routine.
To make the same space in my kitchen as I did on the endless shore
to see the simple, the small, the common as gifts and to embrace it all as unexpected, undeserved, incomparable, Grace.

Joy

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The whisper of redemption, clean, fresh, and renewing,
It’s the reminder of restart, promise and hope. 
Like the dusting of white across the ground,
like the billowing of steam, the fog that held most of December burning away,
my history’s as snow
and newness is where I stand…

January

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My heart has been hearing everywhere it seems, seeing and receiving the gifts of the Giver in the everyday.

Allowing our outlook’s veil to stay soft and vulnerable and fluttered by the everyday,
breathing deep the sweet breaths of heaven dancing past,
And rejoicing in the happenings all around.
Realizing that the successes are not measured by crossing tangible lines in the sand,
they’ll not be marked with any applause from grandstands,
and I’m yet to hear trumpets sounded triumphantly.

But, instead, seeing bloom in growing bellies, helping hands, simple delights,
and any seconds of serenity along the way.
Because, often, stepping back into the shadows, we see the light that was there all along.

Perspective

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Daughter of mine.
Child whose lips I’ve kissed until tears have filled and run from my eyes.
Six years ago was your birth day, but it was my birth as well.
As you who first filled my heart, my flesh, my life, gave birth to an unfolding of love for us,bringing delight to everything we knew.You in whom I see everything of me but also everything of him.
You who are only you.

Daughter

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A treasure worked for every day of the last forty weeks, carried in hope, suffered for with longing and agony,
and then in miracle moment,
warm and heavy, breathing life,
Our hearts are so full in the tending to these precious gifts.

One

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Our high-spirit antics, our adventurous rhythm, our

Shenanigans

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When do we become the momma who understands just the right temperature for cold cloths on feverish foreheads?
When will brushing hair become natural, without pulls, without tears?
Who teaches the correct ratio of chocolate to milk, syrup to pancakes, peanut butter to honey, and when to use jelly?
How do we learn tender touches for the nightmared nights and nuzzles in the dark?
When does patience, sacrifice, wisdom become second nature, first instinct?

But when I ponder further I realize, it wasn’t really a single moment that I remember of my raising, but the story of the journey.

Because it was ours.
And now, a part of the one my family writes together.

And thus, is it possible that the beauty of my children’s stories is more of an unfolding than an occurrence? Could it be that the beauty is best found in the uniqueness of our mistakes, our forgiveness, our tears just as much as our triumphs?

Could it be that motherhood blooms in the journey,
not simply the bestowment of the title?

Growing

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A dose of smushed face goggles and a slathering of sunscreen.
A splash of wild chaos and a smattering of chlorine.
A whispering of nerves and a big dose of courage
and a wrinkled, rosied, freckled nose
kissed by firefly light each night.

Recipe

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Nine best friends that also happen to be cousins…

Sprinkler

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Reminding ourself of the value of the journey, not merely the destination. Reminding ourselves to slow down to the pace of strides half our size in order to truly broaden our perspective. Reminding ourselves that marveling at the sights along the way is where fascination meets imagination. Reminding ourselves that when firsts are breathed with gratitude, wide eyed wonder is a divine kiss.

So our time away was spent sharing finding rainbows, even doubles after unforeseen rain clouds. Because it wasn’t that it was smooth, without glitch or complication, frustration, harsh word or wounding moments. We have plenty of those, daily.

But once again, seeing the man who I’ve watched dream for a decade, now strap a baby on his back and own it as adventure. Oh, the blessing. Getting to know him even more than I did before. Admiring who he is and the children he’s fathering in every moment. Watching them grow as he guides, watching them explore the fullness of who they’ve been created to be.
And falling in love with the nuances,
the essences of those who I’m even more humbled to call,
my family.

Vacation

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Isn’t it just like our Good Father
who knows us best, who fashioned our innermost being
and knows our rising up and going out and 
every bit in between
to make infallible, unwavering, omniscient promises
not just for us
but for our children?

Grace

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I never once felt alone because I wasn’t.
Divine presence with skin on, embodied by those who love me most, I was surrounded.
My husband, my friend, my comfort, was relentless in his encouragement, his gentle words, the strength against my back.
Then, it was time.
And it took my breath away.
This awesome gift, this unparalleled privilege of carrying and bearing, bringing life forth, the time was now and needed all.
No words, just exhaling everything in loudness…

The birth of Rosie Grace

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Nurtured from the start by sweet life from me, I created for them, them created for me, in harmony.
Holding on to me through dark, sleepless nights, furled fist clutching safety and provision, I sacrifice gladly, joyfully, for this is what I myself was created for. To live out the love I’ve been ravished by. 

And so, through these short years, I will hold them, guide them, nurture them, all to let them go.
I will let you go my loves.
I will give you all I have so that you can take it all and live in freedom.

Freedom. The antithesis of all fear.
You have no fear my darlings.
You will not fear expectations or shortcomings or danger or safety, but live alive, live and thrive, live in fullness of what is assured.
And that is,
my sons, my daughters,
that you. Are. Loved.

Loved

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The golden rule of our home growing up
cultivated so tediously, nurtured so tenderly
is one with roots so deep that even in our ugliest hour,
we find ourselves unable to forsake it.
Family comes first.
At the time, I gathered only glimpses of the profound nature of this mantra, but now as a wife, as a parent, it’s started to come together as I long, strive to impart the same value to my own brood. 
Because this chosen dedication to one’s blood, it’s a journey with the sweetest reward.
And though, especially as sisters, I realize the odds will often be against them, as temperaments and personalities, quirks and interests will inevitably cause frustration,
and more often than not the easy, simplest decision is to turn our backs on the ones who live closest to us,
I believe in and have experienced the worth of fighting for forgiveness.
And that unity is a gem made even more precious through the friction.And that this commitment perfected by fire of living within the space of each other
is the refining, brightening flame that carries not only sisterhoods

but brotherhoods and not only that
but will prepare tender hearts even nowfor the devotion required to really, truly, forever love the ones they grow up
to give their own lives to.

Sisters

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Cherishing our Rosie’s tinyness while walking the newness of seven,
and using the slowness to invest in the roots of us,
our Christmas was simple.

Christmas

And, so, with  reverent thankfulness,

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and humbled fullness
we sing,

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My God is an anchor of Hope and Life.
How thankful I am that His sufficiency doesn’t just begin where mine so inadequately falls short,
but it encompasses all of my greatest hopes and ambitions and surpasses them all still.

Gifts

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