Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Glimpses of Life

Lately I have been blessed to share my love for photography with others by photographing events for friends and our church. From Baby Showers and Baptisms, to the recent Ordination and Installation of our associate Pastor, and then the local G.R.A.C.E. Conference held at our church, I've been given license to shoot away with my camera. Here are some of my favorite images from recent events.

Ross listening to Lane Tipton preaching during the ordination service.

"...and they prayed and laid their hands on him..."

After the baptism, Grandmommy and Auntie enjoy their sweet baby.

Granddad can't get enough of his little darling.

Beautiful Emma and her cello.

Our church at dusk, as people file in for the G.R.A.C.E. Conference.

Annie directing the choir.

The Pastors preparing for the evening's introduction and sermon.

Preparing for the hymn sing.

Father and daughter.

"Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!"

Catching up with friends at the Baby Shower.

Mother and daughter...

Friends as close as sisters.

Joyful expectation.

These are merely a few of hundreds, but they are some of my favorites. Behind my camera I'm as happy as a clam,... (if clams are happy, that is). If these photos blessed their recipients, then that's a blessing to me in return.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Surprise!

Blogging is turning into a family affair. I've had this blog going since we moved to PA in the Fall of 2006. My Aunt and my cousin, both in San Antonio, not only follow my blog, but each has their own. (each has/ each have...?!) Before Facebook it was how we kept up with one another. Now it continues to add a depth and richness that Facebook will always lack.

One treat to following my Dear Auntie on her blog is watching the progress she makes on various projects. Her latest endeavor has been quilting, which she thoroughly enjoys. When she and Dear Uncle visited up here a couple of years ago, one stop on the tour which thrilled her to her toes was the Amish Quilt museum in Lancaster County. She'll post photos of the mysterious process, and I can watch as swatches of fabric become one unified and beautiful quilt.

Lately she has been working on a quilt with such beautiful rich colors and a floral background. Her commentary on the process was illuminating; her commentary on the "Secret Recipient" was mysterious. Slowly but surely- actually, far faster than I would ever expect to accomplish such a feat myself- the quilt came together. The photo of her sweet little dog "Treasure" having a nap on it to test it was especially cute.

Wednesday evening a box arrived in the mail. My Dear Auntie had designed and made that gorgeous quilt for me! The colors being the deep red of a fine red wine, and the golden color of my sweet kitty Milo, are absolutely perfect! What a wonderful gift, the love and care that went into this quilt are staggering to me. When I curl up in it I will feel my Dear Auntie's loving arms around me and know that I am truly blessed.

Enjoying the first of many cuddle-times with my Milo and my quilt!

The quality control on this particular product was very, very high. Treasure tested and Milo approved!

Thank you more than I can say Auntie Dear!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Running Like a Calvinist

This is just a silly thought that reverberates through my head sometimes when I run...

My Grandmommy, God rest her soul, was a true Southern Gentlewoman. There was not a single point of etiquette with which she was unfamiliar. I was always instinctively on my "best behavior" with her, and it was not uncomfortable, but rather a sort of security. Knowing how to act in situations, not due to mere personal experience, but because Grandmommy said that it was correct, was actually comforting.

Lessons learned ranged from where to place the silverware when setting the table to how to place the fork and knife on the plate when one was finished with one's meal. Cover your mouth when sneezing, yawning, or certain points in chewing. Sit up straight. Don't point. Never, never, never put catsup on your steak- even though Grandfather always did. (horrors!) Please, thank you, yes Ma'am, no Ma'am. Always write Thank You notes- always; a rule which, were she to have lived into our age of email, would still stand inviolable.

Don't spit in public.

Oh Grandmommy, I'm so, so sorry.

Since I began the Couch 2 5K running program 8 weeks ago, spitting has become a subject of question for me for the first time in my life. Now, the beginning runs were not a problem here. But once I began running for 8 minutes or more at a stretch, I began to feel the uncomfortable need to spit. Having been raised to be a Lady, I refused to do so, even on the lonely back roads when nobody but the chipmunks might witness such a breach of feminine bearing.

And then I came across this briefest of passages in The Institutes of the Christian Religion, (Which, yes, I am still reading- finally into November on the schedule!).

In discussing "The discipline of the (Roman Catholic) clergy and its degeneration", John Calvin tells us, among other things, that, "In the time of Cyrus... it remained a religious custom that no one should blow mucus out of his nostrils, but was permitted to suck it up and feed within (to the point of putrefaction) the noisome humors..."

In short, Calvin says, "Spit it out!"

I am a Calvinist. When needed, while running, I spit. (But only when nobody's looking)

Sorry Grandmommy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

At Last

We are clearly past any danger of Winter snow. (hope that declaration doesn't prove false)

It just seems so very, well, Spring-like, out there this past week. The milder temperatures combined with something special about the sunlight, the return of birdsong to the mornings, and now a whole lot of rain, are all together announcing that Winter is past, Spring is HERE!

The lift in my spirits may be all of these, but I also attribute this new lightness that I feel to a phone call received in the middle of Monday night.

"Hi Mom!"

My very-most-best-favorite words.

Nathaniel called after two months of non-stop work in Iraq. Two months which, for his family at home, had begun to seem like an eternity. Evidently, the Iraqi elections had required a whole lot of support from our helicopters, which then required a whole lot of maintenance from Nathaniel and his crew. They worked around the clock; each shift extended and working until the guys could only stumble to their beds and crash until it was time to get up and do it all over again.

Only Monday did Nathaniel begin to receive a few of the multitude of letters that we had written to him beginning in early February, and was surprised to hear that we had sent cookies. I have since learned that he got the cookies we sent and they are evidently not too bed after a month en route. (But he's 23, a guy, and a soldier.)

He sounded great. He sounded like my son. My Nathaniel.

Since Monday we have had a brief instant message chat online, and I have seen signs of life on his Facebook.

And I have not ceased in my grateful praise and thanksgiving to my Lord, who knew all along where Nathaniel was, what he was doing, and was indeed holding him close and working on his heart.

As a mother my heart was concerned over his long silence. Yet my prayers, (and I take no credit for this) had turned to reliance on God's perfect wisdom and knowledge of the situation. Our Lord has a plan for Nathaniel, who is now an adult, which is for my son's good, and for my Lord's glory. I asked the Lord to help me to trust Him as He worked this plan out for Nathaniel; that He would be glorified not only in Nathaniel's life, but in my response to whatever that plan might involve. Loosing my grip of control over my son- which was a fiction anyway- took the balm of the Word and the ministry of the Spirit as I prayed over these past many weeks.

God graciously allowed us relief from the silence with that phone call. His plan might have been different, yet no more or less glorifying of Himself in the ultimate outcome. But this time the plan included a drop of mercy for us as well.

So, sing away birds of Spring, my heart sings along with you.

Monday, March 01, 2010


For the past couple of weeks the weather has varied from snow falling, to lovely sunshine and 40s, yet with the snow barely melting away, back to snow falling again. Through it all, I have managed to be able to get out on the road to run at least three to four days a week. Through a link made available on the Couch 2 5K site, I found a calorie calculator that gave me general guidance for what I should be eating in order to lose weight while I'm putting this much work in to running.

I'm not a fanatic, and certain disciplines elude me, others seem downright obsessive. So, easy to follow general guidelines are more my style. My mind tends towards justifying many things, and so I could easily tell myself that, "Since I ran today, I can have extra!" I do, however, hope to be able to fit back into some of my favorite clothes that have been waiting patiently in the closet for a couple of years, so those justifications won't be tolerated any more.

I have lost 4 pounds and am wearing two pair of jeans that were uncomfortably tight a few months ago... That is the best encouragement of all to keep up with the discipline!

Yesterday was my first day of Week 7 in the C25K program. W6D3 was a 25 minute run with no breaks. Every day of Week 7 is a 25 minute run with no breaks! I increased my distance slightly for W6D3, which, where I am running, meant further uphill before turning around. So I am running down a slope, up another slope, back down that one, and up again at the far end of my run. Including the warm-up walk at the beginning of the run, I am now going beyond two miles. The next increase in distance will get me back to a level area before returning to the hills. Since we live on the top of a hill and the road I run traces the top of the ridge I am limited in where to go without encountering serious inclines. I encourage myself with the thought that it must be strengthening me ultimately to hit the hills. (I could segue here into the church conference on God's Providence, but Isaac just providentially missed his bus- so I have to get going...)

Last night I inventoried my closet just for a reminder of what I'm hoping to wear once the weather warms up. It'll seem as if I've gotten a whole new wardrobe if I stay on track!