Mother/Son Photo Ideas

Of all the inventions that people have come up with, I do not see why we haven't invented something to freeze time.  Or even just bottle up moments so we can walk back into them and visit them anytime we want.  My babies grow too fast and it really bothers me.  My heart breaks a little bit each time one of my boys turns a year older.

So, my inexpensive therapy???

I have tried to come out from behind the camera and be in pictures with my sons more. 
 The camera is the closest invention we have come up with that captures a moment. 

I will take it...well, until someone comes up with something better.

I have been playing with Photoshop and different ways to edit.  Here is what I came up with.

Grateful to link to these blogs and Christian Mommy Blogger.

To Follow

Once a Month - August
I didn't want to give this month.  We are remodeling our leaky bathroom and it has gotten expensive, so my heart was just not into our family commitment to serve the Lord through giving and serving others more. (If you want to read about why we started this giving/serving more journey, click here.) 

We were at church and there was a call to help buy school supplies for those in need.  My heart tugged but my head stood firm in skipping giving this month.  I had just bought my own kids school supplies and I didn't want to buy more for someone else.

Later that day, my younger two sons and I were at the store. When we walked by the school supplies, God whispered to my heart for us to buy them.

I have made a commitment to try and listen to God's voice in my heart and actually follow.  Wouldn't it be so cool to really live a life that honors God?  To actually hear Him, feel Him and follow Him?  That is what I am trying to do and I find the promises of joy that He talks about in scripture erupt in my life like firecrackers.  Promises such as:

 "Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Phillipians 3:8, NLT)

"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will
overflow!" (John 15:11, NLT)

So when I felt God's nudging in the store, I decided to move.  I let my middle son pick out all the school supplies.  (Partly in hopes that he would remember our family giving and serving mission - if you missed that post click here.)

But sometimes, God works in funny ways.

Later that evening I was surprised by a huge blessing. 

My neighbor asked if I wanted to go through and take any of her work clothes she was donating.  I needed to buy some more work clothes but I hadn't had time to shop by myself and after paying so much this month for our much needed bathroom remodel, I didn't want to spend the money on myself.  But here she was giving me three cute dresses and a bunch of nice shirts.  I didn't have to spend any of my time or money on some new work clothes.

God provided me something that I needed.

It reminded me of the saying, "What goes around comes around." 
Or Luke 6:38: "Give, and it will be given to you." 

I felt so humbled.  I have heard many sermons on the blessings you receive when you give, but for some reason, I have a hard time fully believing them.  Yet the timing in this situation was awful coincidental for me to deny that God blessed me.

God, you are so kind to me.  Help me to continue to hear your voice; let it move my soul and help me to be bold enough to follow you.


Some of my favorite things about these wonderful people:
1.  I get to call them family.
2.  Every year, they trust me to take their family photos.
3.  They are always up for any of the photo ideas I have seen floating around Pinterest, even if they turn out dumb and don't make the final cut.

One of my best realizations about parenting...

Do you ever get frustrated with parenting?  Then you let someone make you feel even worse?

I had recorded a television show that boasted a new revolutionary way to parent.  How could I not be intrigued by this promotion? 

There are some things I have been trying to teach my boys for years and sometimes it seems to be working and other times I think I need a new trick up my sleeve.

I flipped on the television in hopes of finding a new trick.

Instead I found a feeling of inadequacy. 

I assume the show was trying to empower moms, but it didn't me. They host and author of the book raved about the success of this new way of parenting and sold it with such enthusiasm and authority, it made me feel like I was doing it all wrong.  The problem is, I wasn't really sure what they are preaching.  It was vague and seemed to be more in theory.  The message I heard was that if my kids still work on some areas of their life, then I am not doing this parenting thing right.  Well...of course my kids need work in some areas of their life. (Really, don't we all need to work on something?)

The show left me feeling empty and discouraged.   And defensive. 

So, to make myself feel better, I went straight be being judgmental.  The host, though seemingly brilliant, didn't have children. I was done listening to her. And the author of the book, I am pretty sure she has had only one daughter.  I am going to give her the tougher parenting job award for the preteen and teenager years, but has she ever hung out with my boys who always seem to be in a state of motion?  The definition of kinetic energy at its best.  When they are bored they always revert to wrestling each other to the ground.  It doesn't matter where we are at: a friends house, the check out line, the church foyer...thankfully we worship a God of grace.  These judgmental thoughts weren't getting me anywhere. (I am pretty sure this is why being judgmental is not recommended.)

So, I moved on to whining to my close friends about it.  (Thank you to those that listened to my crazy babble on this topic.)

Thankfully, whining to my friends actually did work.  One of my good friends replied, "Sometimes what parents see as weakness in our children, can actually be strengths."

My heart stilled as I focused on what she was saying.

My friend elaborated with this example:

"Children that we might wish shared their emotions more or are more outwardly empathetic to others....well, we need first responders that don't carry their emotions on their sleeve and can calmly assess a crisis situation and be healing hands for the hurt."

My racing brain expanded on her example:

A overdramatic and whiney child might turn in to a wonderful, charismatic teacher that can capture her students' attention and inspire them to be great learners.

That child that hates to lose and let's everyone know in a less than desirable fashion might lead a company into great success, blessing all his employees and their families.

The strong willed kids that are challenging to parent might use that strong will not to give up when others do.  He might be the one to invent, discover or cure diseases.

What we parents sometimes view as our children's weaknesses are not always weaknesses. 

My friend's thoughts made me think of this scripture:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9, ESV)
"For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:10, ESV)

In this reminder that God has a plan for my boys' lives, my mothering heart found peace.

I still feel like I need some new and fresh parenting ideas, so I am reading two parenting books. But, I am reading them with a renewed confidence that God is working on my kids in ways that I sometimes don't always understand and that no parenting book has all the answers.

Thank goodness for good friends who talk me out of crazy-mother-land.  (How come crazy-mother-land is a comfortable place to reside sometimes?  All of us moms hanging out with our irrational fears and expectations...that is a different blog post....)

And thank goodness for a God that uses my friends to calm my heart and remind me that ultimately my hope is in God's powerful presence in our lives and His ability to guide and take care of these little people in my life who I love more than words could ever fully express.
Thank you to these blogs & Christian Mommy Blogger for letting me link up!

Two things made my day today...

1.  I just found out my blog was featured on Equipping Godly Women. 
You can check out the post here.  I was so surprised! 
And then, as if that wasn't enough to make my day... 
2.  My middle son opened the car door for me after his football practice tonight. 
THE CAR DOOR! (Surprised again.)
I am going to bed with a happy and grateful heart tonight.


  The secret to great photos in the midst of busy life????  
Take them when it is convenient and don't worry if you don't have much time. 
I snapped these of my good friend and her daughters in under 10 minutes before they were off to a wedding.  I love that in a few minutes, photos that capture the excitement and anticipation of a fun evening are forever recorded.  Life holds so many beautiful moments. 

Editing tips:  The photo above, I brighten and increased the contrast in Photoshop, then ran the Vintage Matte Free Action from the Coffee Shop Blog.  Totally my favorite photo.

A fresh start...

I love the start of a new school year.  It holds so much promise.  Like none of last year's challenges will arise. 

My now 3rd grade son will love to work on his math facts.  When I ask him what 5 x 3 is, he wouldn't say things like, "I have practiced that before, so I don't need to again." Or make silly comments like, "weird + weird = weird, weird.  Get it, mom?"  Yes, but I don't want to. Instead, he would just spit out the answer without hemming and hawing about why he needs to know how to multiply.  Or add. Or subtract.

My now 2nd grade son will take the time to write neatly, like he does when he practices at home.  His teacher will not write on every single assignment to work on neatness.    

At school, my older boys will consistently eat their vegetables at lunch and will always be calm and productive in the classroom. 

My four-year-old will not need everything he eats dipped in ranch.  Meat, vegetables, fruit, all is covered in ranch before placed in his mouth.  Instead, he would enjoy the meals we cook him as is and politely thank us when he is done.  He also won't follow his older brothers around and demand their toy, or pencil, or book, or whatever they touch that magically makes him want the same thing.

As a family, we can get through the store without the boys getting bored and wrestling each other to the ground. Or my youngest running as fast as he can with the kid-cart until it falls over, then screaming at the top of his lungs across the store that he need us to help him pick it up.
We will always get places on time, dressed appropriately.

A new school year holds so much promise and hope.  I love the "clean slate" feeling when we vow, as a family, to learn from last year's experiences and try and do things a little better. 

It feels like a New Year's resolution.   

It feels like God's grace.   

That grace I feel every morning when I wake up with a fresh start.  A chance to reflect on what works and what I need to try differently. Of course life won't go perfectly; I don't think it is suppose to. Failure is sometimes an essential part of growth and even success. And God loves us no matter what. 

But it always feels good to stand at the edge of a fresh start blanked with grace. 

Happy first day of school. 
 Thankful to link to Christian Mommy Blogger and  these blogs.