The last couple of years I found myself really slacking in documenting our daily life with my camera. I have thousands of iPhone photos but I am not as diligent about printing those, nor as intentional in the taking of the images and the story they tell. This year I am embarking on a Project 52, where I take at least one image a week that tells part of our story. Some weeks, like this first week, there may be multiple images and other weeks there may only be a single week, depending on how often I pick up the camera. Here's a glimpse into what life looks like the first week of 2018
It all starts in a blur, with long sleepless nights and monotonous days of feedings and diaper changes. You embrace parenthood and the many new responsibilities that it entails, with both trepidation and expectation. You remember clearly that first holiday season, the baby's first Christmas ornament and outfit and all the fresh excitement that a child brings into the season. Each year you work to build traditions and store up the memories and savor every moment, but it all swirls by so quickly and suddenly you find yourself reeling to comprehend the reality that you only get 18 or 19 Christmases with them and then they spread their wings, leave the nest and the dynamics of family as you've known it have changed.
This Christmas is the year this reality came crashing down on me and it hit like a ton of bricks. 2017 brought a new season for our family as our oldest two spread their wings. One moved across town and the other across the country to serve as a Marine. Up until three days before Christmas, I wrestled with the thought that all eight of my children would not be here on Christmas morning, but then we got a Christmas miracle, as our Marine surprised us and came home. In that moment as he snuck through the back door, and my eyes caught sight of him, my heart was overjoyed as I hugged his neck and rejoiced in the best Christmas present a mother can have...her family, all together.
I took the time to breathe in every moment that they were all under my roof. I reveled in the crazy chaos. My heart burst as my grown children and teens immersed themselves in the excitement of the toddler and younger children. I took snapshots, to try and freeze the moment forever. I regret not making them all get in the same frame together, because I realize this may be the last time they are all together for a very long time.
If I could retrace my steps and start back at the beginning, I'd never take together for granted. I'd savor every moment of every day, when they were all little and underfoot, even more. I'd not wish the time to pass by quickly but would plead with it to slow down. I'd spend less time worrying about trivial things and more time enjoying them. Yesterday is past, today is now done, but tomorrow will be a new day, full of new mercies and grace and opportunities and I will embrace together those that are still underfoot and look forward to the rarer moments the future affords of us all together.
Mommas, hug them tight!
I just recently joined in a little reading club of sorts, with a few other photographers. The mission is to read through the book Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home and create or capture a photo that resonates with you based on the chosen quote of the week.
"The opportunity for growth in holiness lies right in front of your face—sitting in the tepid dishwasher, festering in the laundry basket, at your crowded dinner table, and under the car seat where your toddler stashed her leftover granola bar for later. Sure, fuzzy mold might be growing there, but in these moments it is also where growth in holiness happens.'" - Gloria Furman, Chapter 1, Glimpses of Grace
At the end of chapter one, I'd moved through a serious of emotions and reactions, to the words I was reading, as it began to penetrate my heart and peel back the layers, as God drew me in and reminded me of the truth that in Christ alone, is my strength and joy and peace. I am looking forward to what God has for me hidden in these pages, uncomfortable as it may be. I'd love for you to join me in reading through this wonderful book and also check back next week for a glimpse of the grace and growth that's unfolding in my home.
Being content in the life God has called me to is something I struggle with, some seasons more so than others. Many times the distractions around me of what others are doing or creating keeps me from seeing the even more beautiful work God is doing in me and through me. The last couple of years I have really struggled to embrace where I am...I long to be doing more, traveling more, creating more, yet the reality is I am home, tending to children and messes, or running taxi service for my children, and there has been little time to live the life I envision in my head. The life of happy, sunny, beach vacations, or sunset walks, through the dreamy cotton field, twirling across a daisy field, and cantering into the sunset. A life of a happy family full smiles and giggles, saturated in the golden light. Aiding my discontent is the constant influx of social media and seeing everyone else living the life I am envisioning. As summer quickly plunged forward, I decided I was done watching everyone else live the life I wanted, the happy family on the sunny beach, and while a vacation wasn't possible, an evening picnic at the lake I could manage. Still being relatively new to this area, I spent some time online looking for nearby parks, with a lake and beach and finally settled on one about an hour away. I convinced my husband that this would be a great and relaxing adventure. I managed to convince 5 of the children to join us for my adventure, and we packed up the sandwiches and swimsuits and set out for our hour long drive and the adventure and beauty I longed for...
I could end this little tale here, but then you would be left with an illusion because despite the lovely images I captured that evening, the adventure was anything but that which I was envisioning. The reality included a baby screaming for an hour long drive, a grouchy husband because of the screaming baby, disappointed children because the only beach we found was that tiny patch of sand pictured above, nasty water, wind, and some dried out sandwiches. I got my adventure but it wasn't relaxing or joyful. I captured some beautiful images that don't capture the reality of the adventure, but they do remind me of God's goodness and grace and His ability to bring beauty from ashes. I appreciate that in His gentle and loving way, that He reminded me that we can find beauty right where we are, in the daily life that He has called us to, that is the great adventure He has set us in. Within the walls of my home surrounded by the family He has given me is my adventure and a beauty that radiates, if only I take the time to see it. This beauty is no illusion, it is filled with spilt milk and cheerios, bickering children, piles of laundry, short fuses, too little time, frozen pizza, lost shoes, holey socks, dirty diapers and on it goes, but in it all is the beauty of a life lived, surrounded by the chaos of the family I love, and I'll take reality over the envisioned, illusions that play out in my head.
There is no denying that the current season I am in is HARD, and in fact motherhood itself is no task for the weak and weary, but requires a profound amount of determination. I am blessed beyond measure, but sometimes find myself struggling to breathe because of the busyness of the daily and all that clambers for my immediate attention. In this busyness of eractic running and mindless checking off of the boxes, as I move to the next thing, I fail to embrace life as it unfolds, in the here and now, and then I pause to breathe and take in my surroundings and I see the man child all grown up, and I wonder how did it happen? Did I blink? A clumsy toddler pulls on my leg, as he calls "mama" and I look down at his dirty face and the trail of crumbs he has left in his wake and I realize that in another blink he will be the man child all grown up and I determine to not let it all get whisked away in the whirlwind of life. I grab my camera off the shelf and begin to capture all the life swirling around me, attempting to freeze this time in a bottle and it is then that the Mission of Motherhood Project is birthed in me...to find the beauty in the daily mundane, to pause and savor this season amidst the chaos and to reflect on God's goodness in it all.