Archive for the ‘30 Day Photo Challenge’ Category

Day 22: My Favorite Book

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

If I take this Book of Books out of the equation as the obvious answer, I could no more choose a favorite book than I could choose a favorite among my children. It’s not possible for me. One day, Anne of Green Gables is my favorite, the next, it’s The Lord of the Rings.

Above and behind it all, though, is my First Love. The Word of God. Nothing has the transformative power the Bible does.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

It holds the power of rebirth.

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” ~1 Peter 1:23 (NIV)

It’s applicable now, in my daily walk.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (NIV)

It brings comfort.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

It holds precious promises I can look to when I need encouragement to keep going.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6,7 (NIV)

It helps me find my way.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” ~Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

It tells me that I matter. That on this dirt speck of a planet in the midst of a nearly infinite cosmos, God’s eye is on me. His heart loves me, and He made me for Something.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

It tells me of God’s deep love.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16,17 (NIV)

Most importantly, it leads to salvation.

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” ~Romans 10:9-11 (NIV-emphasis mine)

And there is so much more. There is always something new to glean. Some new conviction, encouragement, knowledge, comfort, or blessing to be found. It gets deeper and richer every time I open it, and I don’t open it enough!

How could it not be my favorite?

Do you have a favorite book? How about a favorite passage of Scripture in the Bible? Have you read the Bible at all? Why or why not? Any questions about where to start? Feel free to ask!

May God speak to your heart today.


Day 22: Something I wish I were better at.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

There are a lot of things I wish I were better at. Pretty much everything I do, I wish I were better at. Many of them can be lumped into one word, however: Routine.

I wish I were better at maintaining a routine of some kind for more than a few weeks at a time. I’m a basically organized person, but have a hard time maintaining consistency. It’s a major weakness. Nothing I really kick myself over, but still something I would very much like to be better at.

Though we could never stick to a strict schedule, I would dearly love my family to have a foundation of consistency in their days. This is something I find myself praying about and working on more than anything else in my life right now, since it affects nearly every other aspect of my daily life.

What do you wish you were better at?


Day 20: Burned Into My Mind

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

I wish I could forget this movie. It was terrible. They took two hours to tell a story I could have told in five minutes, with more action.

I don’t mind movies that are slow, with little action, as long as I can be persuaded to care about the characters. I couldn’t. The only interesting part of the movie was the last five minutes or so. Even then, I didn’t care. At all. Mainly because the main character is a total loser. A cold-hearted, lonely, no-good, really-bad-word.

Then, there were several scenes we had to flat-out skip. Totally unnecessary, and there are images branded into my mind that I wish I could forget. Thankfully, I only had to live with the first couple of seconds.

Levi brought it home from redbox, having heard that it was pretty good. Boy, do we regret that $1.07.

We had to watch an episode of Firefly to make up for it. To wash our little brains clean of the horribleness of The American.

Anything you wish you could forget? I couldn’t choose anything from my life, really, because everything I remember is worth remembering. This movie is all I could come up with. Don’t watch it. For the love of all things good, don’t watch it! And if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Day 20: Middle-Earth

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Today’s topic asks me to share where I want to travel. The answer is obvious: I want to go everywhere.

First on my list, though, would be Middle Earth, a.k.a. New Zealand. Yes, I know much was added via sets and CG in the movies, but to see the bones they built on would be worth it. The scenery alone is magnificent.

Other places I want to visit just as badly include the village in India where our sponsored son lives, Israel, the UK, Japan, and the northern Mediterranean coast. I would also love to visit dear friends I met when they were exchange students at my high school. Hong Kong, Russia, and Germany are their home countries. (Okay, Hong Kong isn’t a country, but you know what I mean.) Last, but not least, I would love to take a trip to Alaska, to finally visit the place where so many of my relatives live, work, and love – not to mention a very good friend of ours.

The most far-fetched place I’d like to visit would be the International Space Station. I don’t know why. I just think it would be cool to see Earth from there.

Alas that all this travel will likely have to wait until we are no longer supporting our children financially. Oh well, we’ll be older, more mature, and more appreciative of the experience anyway. Right?

What about you? Where do you want to go?


Day 19: I was cute. What happened?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

And now you see where Audrey gets her looks. From the piggy-tailed five-year-old in this picture. I don’t even remember this day, which is pretty darn sad, considering that this is a picture of me holding my brand-new baby sister. I remember weird things, like what I was wearing on a particular summer day, playing in the sprinkler. The birth of a sibling? Whatever.

It took my moving 3000 miles away from home to realize what was really important in life.

The people in it.

The sister in this picture is AJ – the one who just spent almost a year and a half living with us. She moved out a week ago, Sunday, and I miss her already. I see her daily when she drops off and picks up Baby Schel, but it’s not like having her in the house.

The past year and a half have been good ones. Crowded and a bit chaotic, but good. I tried to make up for all the years I ignored her and marginalized her. All the years I simply wasn’t what a big sister should be.

I think we covered a lot of ground with Jen here. We’ve certainly grown closer than we have before, but it’s clear that my role in her life will never be “best friend.” And that is my own fault. I think I’ve completely lost that chance for life. Still, it is within my ability to be the best friend and sister that I can be, and I will.

And it only took me 25 years of her life to see it. (Well, 25 this coming 4th of July.)

Day 18: I’m ruining them for life.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

My biggest insecurity, surprisingly enough, is not my body image. Yes, I have moments of insecurity there, but I can tuck those ones away neatly for perusing at another time with one compliment from Levi. My biggest point of insecurity is in my mothering including, but not limited to, homeschooling my little brood.

I sometimes feel like Sam, that no matter what I do, I just keep making “huge mistakes, huge mistakes, mistakes that are huge.” Mistakes that can never be remedied. Even though I intellectually know that I’m a good mom, and that my kids are just fine, this is the insecurity that nags at me:

Rita: …It’s like every morning I wake up and, I fail. And I look around and everybody seems to be pulling it off, but I-I-I can’t! No matter how hard I try. Somehow, I’ll never be enough.

It’s to the point that I can’t even read a homeschooling blog without curling up into a fetal position and crying because I’ll never have it all together the way “those moms” do! The sad part is that I know, beyond doubt, that we’re doing just fine. I just can’t seem to get my heart to believe that most days.

I struggle wildly with this. I pray daily for my daily bread of strength and confidence to be based on the Lord, and my obedience to His high calling on my life as a mother.

Whew I said it. I feel like a bad mother half the time. The other half of the time, I know better, and walk in the joy of my salvation, that …

There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” ~Romans 8:1 (NIV)

And my kids are so wonderfully forgiving when I ask them! They take my hands in theirs, and pray for me. And I know God must hear them, because even in the insecurity, peace reigns. If only I could get my emotions lined up with that peace!

Please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles with this! What’s your big insecurity?


Day 17: Deep Impact

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Today’s topic in the photo challenge is to share a picture of something that has made a big impact on me recently. While my pastor and his wife are not “things,” they are what came to mind immediately. Technically, if I want to be precise, it’s the Word of God that has made the impact. However, it’s the Word of God spoken through the mouths and lives of this couple that has impacted me deeply lately.

I won’t go into detail, as the Holy Spirit and I are still hammering those out between us – and by that I mean “He’s speaking, and I’m trying to get the house quiet enough for me to hear what He’s saying”.

These two walk the talk. They practice what they preach.

Pastor Jim’s words challenge me simply because he speaks the Truth. No varnish, whatsoever. And sometimes, it galls and hurts and makes me uncomfortable. Then, when I let go, and listen, I find that I am set free by that uncomfortable Truth. And when Kathy speaks into my life, I can see in her face that she’s been where I am. That she gets it. That she knows that what she’s saying to me shakes me to my core, but she says it anyway, because she loves me too much not to.

My pastor and his wife know my name, but not much beyond that, but it is obvious that they love me. And that their love for me (and everyone else in their little flock) is the foundation of everything they say and do.

It’s hard NOT to be majorly impacted by that fierce combination of Love and Truth, tempered with Grace and Humility.

I thank God for them. Pastor – if you get a chance to read this, I want you to know that God is using you. I don’t know how often you get to hear that your words and what you teach from the pulpit matters. So I’m saying it now. Kathy, your life and walk matter to this young housewife. I love you both dearly, and only wish I could know you better.

I pray for this dear couple as often as I can. They are so good at what they do, that I cannot believe the Enemy will just let them alone. They carry so much, and I hope I can lessen their load, even a little, by my small prayers.

What or who impacts you?


Day 16: She’s a natural.

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

My best friend, Tiffany, inspires me, in answer to the question posed by today’s topic. I could write a history about this woman and the family surrounding her. I’ll spare her that embarrassment, however. Her humility wouldn’t allow me to wax poetic about her many virtues!

Suffice to say that Tiffany is the most natural mom I’ve ever met. She’s not perfect, but she seems to have taken up the Mantle of Motherhood with more grace and common sense and built-in wisdom than I have ever seen. She’s just plain good at it. Patient, kind, open-hearted, wise, loving, and sensible are all words that describe her. It’s hard to explain exactly why she inspires me the way she does. She’s everything I want to be as a wife and mom, but I have no envy of that in her. She just inspires me to be better than I am.

I often find myself wishing I lived next door to her, so I could be a “mom intern” or something. Since that can’t happen anytime soon, I content myself with reading her blogs, and our occasional conversations. And missing her like crazy, hoping she knows how much I appreciate her loyalty and love as my dearest and oldest friend. (You do know that I love you deeply, right, Tiff?)

As I get ready for a busy Saturday, and for a red-head’s birthday tomorrow, I pray that I radiate peace the way Tiffany does. She’s a blessed kindred spirit.

Who inspires you?


Day 15: I want to be there in person!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

So, I need to share something I want to do before I die with you.

Number 21 out of 30 on my current bucket list is to take my kids to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – and I’d shoot for a seat at Harold Square, where all the Broadway performances, the Marching Bands, and the Rockettes strut their stuff. It’s still a very beloved tradition in my home to watch the parade on TV, and my kids are really getting into the magic of it. Heck, I still cry when Santa Claus comes!

I’ve already gone sky-diving, so I can cross that off my list. What’s on your bucket list?

Day 14: Who am I without them?

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I cannot imagine my life without my kids. They don’t know it, but I have learned more about myself – my TRUE self – since I birthed them. I thought I was “me” before I had kids. Not true. I am even more “me” than I ever was before I had them. Kids ask so much more of my character, my time, my emotions, my very being than anything or anyone ever has. Seeing my own weaknesses and strengths in these little people, has been like looking into the clearest mirror. Every flaw, every beauty fully revealed in all its nakedness.

There is nothing more humbling or more challenging than raising children. The glorious mix of agony and ecstasy that defines being a mother is actually undefinable. And I cannot imagine my life without them.

This was today’s topic in the 30-Day-Photo-Challenge.

I was going to post a picture of Jesus, as he is the ultimate answer to this question, but I didn’t want to be that obvious. Still, He is an integral part of why I cannot imagine my life without my kids. It is He who made me a Mother. It is He who guides and directs me daily through the quagmires and meadows of parenting. It is He who defines my whole family and life. I could not navigate this life as a Mother without Him.

What about you? Is there anyone you can’t imagine your life without?