Thursday, October 17, 2013

Midwest Living

This may very well be the most random blog I've ever written. As long as everybody's ok with that. Yeah? Ok...grab some we go.
I'm a little bit addicted to the old Instagram. (Facebook? What's Facebook??) I have to set rules for myself. The first one I made was to not get on it until I've spent some time with God in the morning (or sometimes not until the afternoon!). That made a big difference in my day. I forced myself to stay off of it for a full day a couple weeks ago and it was very freeing. I've been meaning to do that once a week but I've forgotten about it. I would love to hear from moms who have personal "rules" with your smartphone and what works for you. All that being said, Instagram is also a huge blessing to me. I'm building friendships with women across the country I never could have met otherwise (and I really hope someday I can meet some of these women!). I also get daily encouragement from cool, real, creative, inspiring women who are completely sold out for Christ. I get snippets of what it means to live out your faith in a daily way and it really has had a huge impact on my spiritual walk. It's also changed the way I photograph, just constantly seeing amazing pictures that others post. I think my photography has grown a lot over the last year and it's fun for me to experiment with light now.

I've talked about these two before. They are the BEST of friends. They don't fight. Ever. They just move in sync and play together as if they share a brain. I think Dawson's a little bit protective over Landon (he's about four months older and a LOT bigger!) and Landon knows Dawson's got his back.  
This past Sunday for a Colyer birthday lunch, Dawson says, "I didn't get any cake!" Landon says, "That's ok, Dawson. I'll feed you mine." And he did.   
Bennett is going to Awana on Wednesday nights at my in-law's church. It ends up being a highlight of our week. We head over to their house after school (most weeks), hang out for a bit, eat dinner together then Pop takes Bennett with him and brings him home for me later. (SO generous of him!) Bennett is loving it and I'm so proud of him for how well he's memorizing verses. He rarely even complains about doing it! It's really giving him confidence because he learns them quickly. I've been terrible about teaching them scripture at home so this has been great for all of us. This was last Wednesday after an IHOP dinner. Judie and I had both seen this old building on separate occasions and I happened to have my good camera in the car so we had a little adventure. (Don't you love how everything with preschoolers is an adventure if you call it that?? Like even running around in a gravel parking lot? It doesn't take much, folks.)
Dawson with his grandmother:
 And with his great-grandmother:

 My sweet baby. (Who now has a fierce stubborn streak but he's still mostly sweet.)

It was Embrace the Camera week on Instagram last week. Both Ashley and Emily were hosting the hashtag party and it was so wonderful to have an excuse to take a picture with my kiddos every day! I'm always behind the camera, rarely in a picture. So I'm the exact person they're talking to when they tell the mamas it's important to get in the shot sometimes. It ended up having a positive affect on our day. They gave us prompts to get our minds rolling and a few of the days we did things we normally wouldn't do and had a ton of fun. 
 Day 1: Smiles
I left the van doors open when we were exploring around the barn and ended up with about a million minuscule biting bugs inside. It was awful and Channing was swatting at his face and screaming at one point. Lesson learned. Windows and doors must remain closed when you're parked in the country. 

Day 2: Making Memories (After Day 1, I brought my DSLR along. Trying to prop up a smartphone and using the self-timer was ridiculous.)
(I bribed them with a cookie for this shot.) Jon was out of town so I wanted to think of somewhere we could bring a picnic dinner to that wouldn't be stressful. Chick-fil-a is our go-to but that's not exactly a spot that screams "making memories". Parks are great but not enjoyable at this stage with Channing still crawling. I finally remembered this spot really close to our house where there's just a small fenced in parking lot (always a plus with my boys who like to roam) with three army tanks they can climb on. It ended up being an absolutely perfect hour and half, killing time before bed. Bennett and Dawson climbed and played the whole time and Channing could crawl around without getting stuck or hurt or eating wood chips.
(I was trying to upload another picture of the boys on the tank--a silhouette shot with the sun behind them--but blogger kept automatically lightening the picture! Anyone ever experienced this before??)

Day 3: Everyday moments. Usually involving someone half naked.
Day 4: Creative. I embraced the camera with my most creative child. One of my most favorite parts of mothering him is watching him while he's completely immersed in imaginative play. He can go for hours (if there aren't any brothers around to interrupt him.) He is such a gift. 
 And speaking of his creativity, here are a few one-liners I've heard from him lately:

  • When I picked him up from preschool I asked him, "What was your favorite thing you played with today?" He says in a serious voice, "Everything. I love all the persons and the stuff. I even love my bag and babies."
  • In the car after a Target grocery run: "I have some good news and some bad news." He holds up the bunch of yellow bananas. "This is the good news." He holds up the bunch of green bananas. "This is the bad news."
  • He looks at a smushed raisin on the kitchen floor. "Was that my scab I took off last year??"
  • He was playing a harmonica soft and slowly. I said, "Dawson, that music is lovely." "It's comforting music," he says.
  • This morning after he lassoed a Beanie Baby zebra, he says to it, "You are my precious darling." 

Day 5: Faces. A last minute shot with my boy who likes to practice his silliest faces in the mirror, just like his daddy. (Seriously, I should show you a montage of my husband's silly faces sometime. He's got mad skills. Mine won't move that way. Believe me, I've tried.)
We made it to our first pumpkin patch of the year. It was a gorgeous evening (probably our last really warm day) and it made me happy that we were outside, soaking it in. Also, if you have really young kids, this is a great one. Because it's FREE! (Williamson's in Ankeny, IA) 
I don't think I could squeeze any more cuteness into one picture. Unless Channing was dressed up as a lamb or something.
 Sometimes my kids lick animal pens. No one died.

 (Blogger lightened most of these pictures too. What the heck?? I need to google that....)

And my two new favorite pics of these two: 

I always want to grab the camera when they're squished in this swing together. I don't know why they look so cute in there, but they do! Maybe because they're touching each other and still happy??

One last thing--I just wanted to share with you another devotional that's been blessing me in a huge way lately. I've sung the praises of Jesus Calling on here before. Well, recently a bible study group that I've been a part of for years started the Streams in the Desert daily devotional. I'd heard people talk about it a lot and now I know why. I have been loving it. It was first published in 1925, but since revised, so there is just a richness to it that I love. And here's the thing: my "quiet" times (that's a relative term because they're usually not at all quiet) are very brief. I'm a little ashamed to say they're usually only about 5 minutes long. But, they've been consistent. And that's what's been changing my life. Jon and I are walking through some dark days in our marriage. (Oh, you assumed we had a perfect marriage because we know how to smile for the camera? Yeah, no. Aren't we all catching onto the fact that things aren't usually what they seem in pictures?) But even though our marriage is looking ugly lately, I can say with a peaceful heart that these have been some of my most beautiful days. God is changing me. It's been small little baby steps over the last three years since I fully turned my heart over to Him but I am clinging to Him more tightly than I ever have. He's put a spiritual filter over my eyes and I see this world differently. I've been too concerned with gaining my confidence and self-worth through other people (including my husband) and in order to change that, He has to strip things away. 
I've been reading, No More Perfect Moms, by Jill Savage, in a moms bible study and its been such a great book. She quotes Gary Thomas in her chapter called, "no more perfect marriages", and it's stuck with me and is reverberating in my ear throughout the day, 

"What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?" 

Just let that one ruminate for a while. If you're like I was a couple of years ago and don't spend any purposeful time in God's word every day because you don't know what to read, pick up either one of the devotionals and it'll start changing your life. I'll leave you with some snippets from Streams in the Desert that I've been clinging to: 

"It is always safe to trust God's methods and to live by his clock." -Samuel Dickey Gordon

"God in His providence has a thousand keys to open a thousand different doors in order to deliver His own, no matter how desperate the situation may have become. May we be faithful to do our part, which is simply to suffer for Him, and to place Christ's part on Him and then leave it there." -George McDonald

"Trouble never comes to someone unless it brings a nugget of gold in its hand."


  1. I love this post. So much great. First off, IG-I've had the same feeling, I love the idea of spending "quiet" time before I do anything else. It's such a great community, but I'm consistently checking myself. Second-your pictures are so, so good, they capture the moment so wonderfully. Finally-your honesty on life is refreshing. I think you are right where He needs you to be, molding and shaping. Thankful for you friend.

  2. "Sometimes my kids lick animal pens. No one died." You make me laugh!!

    Also, Dawson's good news and bad news is hilarious!! I like that kid!

  3. Your pictures share so much joy! Love seeing them. I like your IG rule and I might start that too. Otherwise as soon as I start to check email and IG and...well, quiet times get pushed to the side. I love Streams in the Desert too. I sometimes put it in my car to read while waiting after preschool/k. great post!


Please leave your email if you'd like a reply! Thanks for the love.