Dear Diary

Today Mommy took me to a farm!  I didn’t want to get in the car but she said we could see cows, so I got into my seat.  I love cows.  They say moo.

We went into a building and there was a lot to play with, cept Mommy didn’t want me to touch everything.  She had to get some milk and write it down — but I took the pen.  :)

There was a doggy too!  He came over to see us and he was really nice.  And they had a lot of little rocks everywhere that I could pick up, and I took a bunch in my hand.  Then they fell out because I needed to hold Mommy’s hand to go back to the car.  Oh well.

The cows were all inside where I couldn’t see them, and I didn’t like that.  But I could hear them say moo and I said moo back.

I think we’ll go back to the farm next week because Mommy needs to get more milk.  And she said she needs to give them back the milk bottle, and then they give her some money for it, I think?  I don’t know but I hope the cows are where I can see them that time.  They sound like fun.

Sincerely,

Me

P.S.  I forgot!  Mommy wrote on her website today and she showed some pictures of me and Daddy and her.  You should go look because our family is fun and we made pancakes.  Go here:

https://www.aoriginals.com/blog/2017/7/31/personal-family-at-home

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Happy Saturday

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It’s been a quiet, chilly day over here in Maine.  Levi and I scooted out to do a photoshoot with a friend this morning, and did a couple errands after that — now he’s napping and I’m sitting feeling little baby flutters.  Slow, brisk, cloudy afternoons like this remind me of Fall.

How has your day been?  I hope it’s been nice and relaxing.  :)

The Envy Effect

Recently I came across the following article and I have to pass it along — Shauna Niequist is a gifted author and I think she wrote this article wonderfully.  It certainly gave me things to think about, and I hope it does the same for you.

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Instagram’s Envy Effect

I keep having the same conversation over and over. It starts like this: “I gave up Facebook for Lent, and I realized I’m a lot happier without it.” Or like this, “Pinterest makes me hate my house.” Or like this: “I stopped following a friend on Instagram, and now that I don’t see nonstop snapshots of her perfect life, I like her better.”

Yikes. This is a thing. This is coming up in conversation after conversation. The danger of the Internet is that it’s very very easy to tell partial truths—to show the fabulous meal but not the mess to clean up afterward. To display the smiling couple-shot, but not the fight you had three days ago. To offer up the sparkly milestones but not the spiraling meltdowns.

I’m not anti-technology or anti-Internet, certainly, but I do think it’s important for us to remind ourselves from time to time that watching other peoples’ post-worthy moments on Facebook is always going to yield a prettier version of life than the one you’re living right now. That’s how it works.

My life looks better on the Internet than it does in real life. Everyone’s life looks better on the internet than it does in real life. The Internet is partial truths—we get to decide what people see and what they don’t. That’s why it’s safer short term. And that’s why it’s much, much more dangerous long term.

Because community—the rich kind, the transforming kind, the valuable and difficult kind—doesn’t happen in partial truths and well-edited photo collections on Instagram. Community happens when we hear each other’s actual voices, when we enter one another’s actual homes, with actual messes, around actual tables telling stories that ramble on beyond 140 pithy characters.

But seeing the best possible, often-unrealistic, half-truth version of other peoples’ lives isn’t the only danger of the Internet. Our envy buttons also get pushed because we rarely check Facebook when we’re having our own peak experiences. We check it when we’re bored and when we’re lonely, and it intensifies that boredom and loneliness.

When you’re laughing at a meal with friends, are you scrolling through Pinterest? When you’re in labor with your much-prayed-for-deeply-loved child, are you checking to see what’s happening on Instagram? Of course not. We check in with our phones when it seems like nothing fun is happening in our own lives—when we’re getting our oil changed or waiting for the coffee to brew.

It makes sense, then, that anyone else’s fun or beauty or sparkle gets under our skin. It magnifies our own dissatisfaction with that moment. When you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, the majority of your friends probably aren’t doing anything any more special.

But it only takes one friend at the Eiffel Tower to make you feel like a loser.

I’m a writer. I use Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest and my blog as part of my professional life—as a way to connect with readers and be part of a conversation that we’re creating together, a conversation about creativity and faith and writing and parenting and community and life around the table. It’s a lovely conversation, and part of my work involves reading many blogs and commenting on lots of photos and scrolling through status after status.

Some days it feels rich and multi-faceted. I learn and I’m inspired. I find recipes I want to try and stories I want to live. I feel connected and thankful to be part of such an intelligent and creative internet community.

And then on some days, I feel like I have nothing to offer, like I must be the only one who isn’t a graphic designer and hasn’t yet managed to display her entire darling life online with lots of chevron and mint accents. I feel so certain that my life is a lot less darling than other peoples’ lives.

But that’s the Internet. The nature of it. I so easily fall prey to the seduction of other people’s partial truths and heavily filtered photos, making everything look amazing. And their amazing looking lives make me feel not amazing at all.

Let’s choose community. Let’s stop comparing. Let’s start connecting.

Some days when I sit down at my laptop, instead of choosing to be an observer via Facebook, I choose to be a friend via email. Instead of scrolling through someone else’s carefully curated images, I use those few seconds to send a text to a person I really know and really love and really want to be connected to.

It’s not about technology or not. I’m not suggesting you get all old-school-pen-and-paper about it (unless that’s your thing.) It’s about connecting instead of comparing. Instead of using the computer to watch someone else’s perfectly crafted life, enter into someone’s less-than-perfect life. You can use Facebook if you want, but you might find email, Skype and phone calls work better.

The distinction I’m making is public vs. private, not in person vs. long distance. I have very close, very honest friendships that depend on phone calls and Skype dates and long wandering emails, and I’m thankful that technology allows for those connections. But I don’t think you can build transforming friendships that take place only in a public sphere like Facebook or Instagram.

For many of us, walking away from the Internet isn’t an option. But using it to connect instead of compare is an option, and a life-changing one. Using technology to build community instead of building carefully-curated images of ourselves is an option, and a worthwhile one.

And on the days when you peer into the screen of your laptop and all you see are other people’s peak experiences that highlight your lack in that moment, remember that life isn’t about the story you tell about yourself on the Internet. It’s about a million more beautiful and complex things than that, like love and faith and really listening. It’s about using what you’ve been given to craft a life of gratitude and passion and grace.

Remember that the very best things in life can’t be captured in status updates.

 

Article originally found here.

Dear Diary

Yesterday I did something funny.  Mommy came and picked me up when I was done napping, and I snuggled like I do sometimes.  (Sometimes I don’t really want to get up yet but she says it’s time and I have to, so then I curl up on her when she picks me up.  Because she’s comfy and maybe I can go back to sleep.)

Anyways, I snuggled and she started to rub my back.  And I realized I could rub her back too.  So I did — first it was more of a pat but then I rubbed instead and she started laughing!  I kept rubbing and then she kept smiling and laughing.

It was pretty funny I guess, and I laughed too and then stopped snuggling because I was awake and all done snuggling.  And I couldn’t tell if Mommy was going to cry because it almost looked like it, but I don’t know why she’d cry if I rubbed her back.  It doesn’t hurt.

She does cry sometimes though and she says it’s because of something inside her with the baby…  I don’t get it.  I don’t think Daddy gets it either.

Sincerely,

Me

Looking Back

Tonight I’ve been scrolling back through this blog, looking briefly at posts I’ve written over the years.  It’s crazy to me that this sort of online journal started five years ago with a girl fresh out of high school and ready to take on the world.  Back when Belize was in the forefront of my mind and I sought to share God’s love with the friends I made there.  The disappointments that came with what I thought would be a fruitful time on the missions field… I still feel the ache and sting.

I learned much more than I’d expected, in areas I hadn’t thought of.  Came back to America and sat in shock for months at the realities of life and the differences in where I thought my path was headed and where it actually went.  How could it be?

Instead of returning to the field I waited, desperately praying for answers.  What next?  I pulled out of my funk and started applying for jobs, one foot in front of the other and God could lead wherever He wanted.  Many jobs passed by and I could only wonder why.

Then came the job at church, presented out of nowhere and I eagerly accepted.  Honored, to be a part of such service to fellow Christians and to our community who might not yet know God.  What a gift.

I knew by then that I’d be home in the States at least until I got married.  God had impressed that on my heart and I believed Him, not worrying about what would happen afterward.

My friendship with Josh turned into more and he eventually moved from Oregon to Ecuador to New Hampshire — to pursue me and see if God indeed was leading us toward marriage.  He was, and we got married July 18th, 2015.

My time at the church came to an end sooner than I’d hoped and I again was left asking why — so many whys.  I took a random job at a daycare and tried my best to love and serve the families there while I sought more answers from God.  Surely this wasn’t the end, was it?

We found out months later that I was pregnant, another unexpected mark on the timeline.  It was a rough season of coming to grips with the fact that we were now a family of three, and all of our “normals” would change and responsibilities would be added.

I left the daycare and focused more on my own business, working with my photography and trying to get organized before the baby arrived.  It was so lonely, so abnormal for people our age and I watched previous friendships start to fizzle out.  We’d entered a new stage in life and it meant two introverts needed to figure out how to make friends all over again.

Levi was born in April of 2016 and what a joy that day was.  It was strange, the sudden peace I had and knowledge that this was where I needed to be.  We’d set ourselves up from the start to live off of Josh’s income, and I was immensely thankful I could be home full time with our little bundle.

The next year and a half has been full of adjustments.  Learning this and that, shifting this and that, letting go of this and that.  Figuring out how to be [fairly] newly married with an infant; discovering and absorbing the stages of childhood and how to live everyday life with them.  Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and trying to meet new people and do new things.

We’ve moved a handful of times, traveled some distances, and added another little one who’s expected to arrive at the end of this year.

And now as I sit in the condo we’ll be leaving soon, with the birds still chirping and sun still peeking through past 8:00pm — I’m reminded.

Never once has God failed me.  Never once has He lead me somewhere and not provided for me every step of the way.  Never once has He gone against His character.

He hasn’t given me all the answers, and I’m sure there are some that He has given that I’ve missed.  But it’s okay.  He’s taught me how to be content where I am, to know that the missions field I’ve sought is literally where I am with the people in front of me.

“Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
 He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.”

(Psalm 25:8-10, emphasis added)

Countless times over the years I’ve asked for humility, and though I have a long ways to go He certainly has humbled me.  He humbles me and He leads me as He desires.  And truly, there is no way more satisfying and peace-giving than His way.  Even when it doesn’t make sense; even when we question and shake our heads.  Even when we come to a pause five years later and still don’t completely understand.

He is still faithful, and He is still good.  Always.  Trust Him, friends.

Our Second Anniversary

It’s a beautiful life, isn’t it?  Not what we thought it’d look like, and not how we thought we’d get here.  Two years ago when we said our vows I pictured our life would be a bit different.

But here I am, standing at the kitchen table writing this while Levi closes himself in the bedroom and my belly looks bigger than usual.  And I know I won’t make it through this note in one shot.

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That was accurate; I’m starting again after going to the park and coming home to have lunch.  It’s a good thing your nose doesn’t work well, because it was hot and I might smell a bit sweaty — definitely like peanut butter.  But I know that you’ll come home tonight and still be happy to see me; sweat, messy hair, sticky hands and all.  And not just because of what day it is.  You love me on the clean days and the messy days.

It’s mutual too; I still love you when you come home covered in metal chips and smelling like a swell tank.  My nose works very well, and now that I’m pregnant… well you know.  I’ll still hug you and kiss you when you get home and let you go straight to the shower.

You’re so patient, Josh.  Becoming a mother so quickly has been an adjustment for me; you know I don’t do so well with big changes.  I need time.  And you’ve certainly given it to me.  You’ve waited late for dinner when I can’t pull myself together; you’ve taken Levi out after work so I can have even 30 minutes to myself; you remind me of the things that can wait and you never complain about things that aren’t done.

Your grace with me helps me give grace to myself.  God has taught me a lot in the last two years as I’ve become a wife and mother, and He’s used you to teach me much of it.  Thank you for all the mornings and afternoons you spend time reading your Bible and allowing Him to make you more like Himself.  He’s made you so servanthearted, humble, patient, understanding, and gentle.

I’m grateful for these two years we’ve had married.  The ups and downs, the changes and challenges, even the miscommunications and pain.  We’ve been so blessed, haven’t we?  I pray we have many more years together and that we don’t take them for granted.

I love you, Josh.  Happy anniversary.

Me

Dear Diary

Have you ever had a really good friend?  I have one, and his name is Bub.  See, this is Bub and me:

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He’s got a lot of colors, huh?  He’s really soft and I like his tail.  It’s curly like Mommy’s hair.

When I have to take a nap or when I go to bed at night I like to snuggle with Bub.  But sometimes he’s too big to snuggle so I throw him on the ground and Mommy says that’s not how to treat a friend.  So I snuggle him again, or Mommy puts him in my bed to wait for me.

And when I wake up a little in the night I like to hold Bub’s tail or his foot so I know he’s still there.  I like it when he’s with me.  And I don’t want him to escape, because he can climb.  (Mommy hasn’t seen him do that, so don’t tell her.  But he can climb EVERYWHERE and I’m trying to take lessons so I can get to my snacks and Mommy’s cabinets.  Shhhhh!)

Anyways, Bub is my friend and I like him a lot.

Sincerely,

Me

Thoughts in the Rain

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It’s pouring buckets here, and as I listen to the rain I’ve been mulling over this quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

“What is there to fear when Christ holds first place in our lives?  Where, other than in the will of the Father, shall we expect to find significance, security, and serenity?”

He gives us significance, security, and serenity.  When our hope is found in Christ and His power to save our souls, what do we have to worry about?  He is the only one able to save us from our brokenness, the only one who can make us whole and satisfy us.  If we can trust Him to our salvation, what else is there to fear?

I’m so thankful God is God; I’m so thankful He is the ultimate power and authority and not any human being.  What a mighty, wonderful God He is.

 

(Found in Elliot’s book, Keep A Quiet Heart.)

Dear Diary

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I know some new words!  Well, I know a whole lot of words but now I can say some of them too.  I can say “Mama” and “Dada” (I learned those a really long time ago) and I can say hi to lot of things too.  Like the kitty, or Grammie, or Grandpa.  And I can almost say “doggy”, I’m really close.

Grammie and Grandpa have two doggies and I love them.  Shelby loves me too and then Reece — Mommy says Reece is a grump.  He growls at me sometimes when I try to say hi.  But Shelby lets me sit with her and give her hugs.  She’s really soft.

Sometimes when we get home from seeing Shelby I try to tell Mommy and Daddy that I want a doggy at our house too.  I say “more doggy” and give them my big eyes and put my eyebrows up and they just tell me that we’ll see Shelby again soon.

But that’s not what I mean, I want a doggy at our house.  And maybe a kitty too, because they’re really fun to chase.  But I want a doggy, a big soft one like Shelby that I can keep at our house and sit with and play with and hug all the time.

I have to keep trying to tell Mommy and Daddy.  Maybe I could get Grammie and Grandpa to know what I mean.  Then they could tell Mommy and Daddy and I could get my own doggy.  Or maybe you could tell them?

Sincerely,

Me

Drone Photos

It’s Friday!  I came across this article today and was immediately intrigued by the photos — it’s a collection of photographs taken by drones, and wow!  They’re something else.  I love the perspectives and creativity.  Click on the photo to take a peek!  :)

DroneRoad

 

 

Also can be found here.