Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bed head and other things I want to remember...

I'm not the kind of girl who likes the spotlight. 
You won't find me mugging for the camera or hogging the stage. 
As a mom this works out pretty well. I get to be behind the scenes, 
capturing the action, taking the pictures. 

But I've recently been inspired to step into the picture--
in all my imperfect glory.  

Last week, Ashley at Under the Sycamore wrote about getting in the shot, and I was persuaded to make a little extra effort to be seen in the record I'm making of my kids' childhoods.

Now I'm not talking about putting on lipstick and curling my hair--
we can't all wear pearls while we put our little cherubs to sleep.

(This is a photo of my great grandmother and my grandmother.)

I'm realizing that pictures of me with my kids
--even when I look a little (or a lot) undone--
are preserving precious memories that I don't want to lose.

I love the this picture (below) of my grandmother with my aunt. 
There's something wonderful about seeing Gram mothering. 
And it's even more endearing and real because of the crooked candles and cluttered side table. 
I'm so glad my grandfather didn't wait until the counters were tidy before taking this picture.

And just for the fun of it--another picture of Gram, this time with my mother--beautiful.

Around my house the action usually goes down amid pirates and dragons and pajamas--
including my own. I know I'll want to remember this colorful chaotic mess, 
and the blurry happy boy behind it.

So, I'm taking Ashley's advice. 
I'm trying to embrace the crazy, disheveled reality of myself mothering. 
I'm learning to set up a shot, use the self-timer and--every once in a while--step into the picture.

I'm capturing cuddles, kisses and piles of laundry.

I'm getting my hands wet,

becoming a part of the story,

bed head and all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

On Feeding the Sheep

“Feed my lambs,” Jesus instructed Peter, “Feed my sheep.” 

What kindness and gentleness this is. What care. 

As one of the flock, I come to the shepherd, the preacher, the pastor, for food—that he would proclaim the good news of the gospel to me, and bid me partake of the feast. As one who is but a beggar, I ask, along with Christ, “Dear shepherd, feed us.” 

We come to you hungry, confused, often without even knowing it, and we look to you to protect us, to set us aright, and to feed us. We come, beggars all, needing to be fed. 

But, what is this food that nourishes and sustains the flock? What is this daily bread? This food is Christ himself—given up for us—the gospel.

In order to feed the sheep, the shepherd needs to help them to know their hunger, and then he needs to give them the good food. He must show them the law and then he must give them the gospel. One of these without the other falls short of answering Jesus’ plea. And a confusion of one with the other leaves the sheep muddled, lacking assurance and rest. The distinction between law and gospel must be clear to the shepherd, that he might make it clear to the sheep.

The law is the excellent and glorious perfection to which we are called, but that we all fail to achieve. We are told to love the law, to seek after righteousness…and even this is law.  The gospel, on the other hand, is the declaration of what Christ has done for us—entirely accomplished by the Lord—it is quite distinct then from the law.

If we confuse the two—thinking that our growth in holiness or our zeal or our love of God is the gospel itself, then we will inevitably be either wrongly self-satisfied or sorely discouraged. Encouragement toward sanctification will not nurture and sustain us. We need to be given Christ—we are hungry for the food of the gospel.

So, how does the shepherd feed the sheep?

Some don’t know they are hungry. They would turn away, uninterested in the precious gift of sustenance—the gospel.

Some are afraid to approach the table.  Aware of their failures they hesitate, feeling unworthy to partake of the gift, freely given.

Some come knowing their need, feeling their hunger, eager to feast on the gospel. They approach with confidence to once again receive reassurance and rest in the good news proclaimed. He has done it. The gift is for you, even you—the needy, the weak, the beggar.

For the first group—those who don’t even know their need, who don’t feel their hunger—the shepherd must preach the law in order to preach the gospel—that they might know their need and might long for Christ.

For the second group—those who are afraid to approach, who know they are unworthy—the shepherd must preach the law in order to preach the gospel—that the sheep might be assured that indeed they are weak, they do fail to meet the requirement of the law, and yet Christ’s sacrifice, the good news, is for them--even for them--Christ bids them come.

For the third group—those who come eagerly, hungrily, seeking the food that Christ has given—the shepherd must preach the law in order to preach the gospel—that the sheep would be reminded and reaffirmed in the true assessment of their neediness and beggarly state, that they might rejoice all the more in the gospel—assured of their sonship in Christ and affirmed in their dependence on him.

All of these must hear the law. They must be reminded that God’s righteous requirement is high and good--and all men fail to meet it. This will include exhortations to right living, a call to perfect holiness, loving God with all your heart, soul and mind, and loving your neighbor as yourself. 

The details and subtlety of this are key—the oft-overlooked failures of kindness to one’s spouse, parent, friend, the ubiquitous selfishness that infiltrates even our best moments. The sensitive, relevant, insightful exposure of our sinfulness can penetrate even the hardest heart, and by the work of the Holy Spirit bring to repentance both the unbeliever walking willfully in sin and the mature believer longing to be more conformed to Christ.

Preach the law in its perfection. The hearers of the law should be convinced of its goodness and holiness and they should simultaneously be convinced of their own failure to meet it. Any preaching of the law without an awareness that we all fall short—greiviously, staggeringly short—will leave the preacher and the sheep with the misguided and tragic misconception that all they need are better methods, more passion, or greater efforts—in order to measure up to God’s calling. This lie prevents the believer (and the unbeliever) from feeling his need, from recognizing his hunger, and ultimately from depending on Christ—and feeding on the gospel by faith.

But dear shepherd, once they have heard the preaching of the law, all of these must hear the gospel! 

Ultimately, the shepherd preaches the law in order to drive the sheep to the gospel—those sheep who are starving and don’t realize their hunger. 

He preaches the law to reassure the timid—yes, for you, the gospel is even for you. 

He preaches the law to tell the old, old story, to strengthen the faithful, to proclaim the good news to the lost and to the found.

And so, finally, after showing the sheep their need, the shepherd must meet their need by feeding them the gospel—giving them the good news: despite their abject failure to meet the righteous requirement of the law, Jesus’ righteousness has been imputed to them. Assure them of their right standing by faith through Christ’s sacrifice. 

Leave us secure in his love, 
                                 resting in his sufficiency, 
                                               humbled by our great need and his far greater gift.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Picture Perfect Patio

A number of years ago I found this photo from Cottage Living 
and began to use it as a long term inspiration image for our backyard patio.

This is one corner of our backyard today.

It starts getting a little weird when you notice the 
(hmm...I'd say 7 month old) baby in the original picture 

and then (in my backyard) pan to the left a bit.

(Hi, seven month old!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Branch Art (or more decorating with sticks)

The Jacaranda trees that line our street are a constant inspiration. 
Especially when a curvy, twiggy branch appears as if by magic in my front yard. 
And when the latest Pottery Barn Kids catalog appears as if by magic in my mailbox (see page 9). 

When the stars align like that, you have to pay attention. 

And make branch art.

Step 1: spray paint that baby.

Step 2: cut out paper leaves.

Step 3: hot glue.

Step 4: hang it.

Step 5: sit back and admire.

Oooh... Ahhh...


Linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and Before and After at TDC. 
Taking a risk with the Nester!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Butterfly Birthday Party

My daughter Elizabeth is a girl who knows her own mind. 
And when it came to her sixth birthday party she had some pretty clear ideas. 
It would be a "butterfly party" (whatever that is!) and the girls would make "butterfly jars" (what?) 
and there would have to be a butterfly cake (that's easier to picture). 

I loved the challenge and together we brought her ideas to life. The main decorations were paper butterflies on branches. I asked Elizabeth to gather twigs from the yard and then she helped me trace and cut out various sizes of butterflies from leftover scrapbook paper we had on hand.

We hot glued the butterflies to the twigs and they made the centerpiece for the table...
until it was time to make the craft.


It seemed pretty obvious to me that "butterfly jars" would be like a terrarium for butterflies. 
We had to prep a few supplies: name tags, paper "grass," and a decorative cover for the lid.

The girls handled the assembly--and each girl got to use one of the butterfly branches for her jar.


We used feather monarch butterflies from Michael's 
to create themed napkin decorations and cake toppers.

I made flowers out of lollipops and green laffy taffy, cut into leaf shapes. 

The butterflies hovered over the cake on their wires.

 For the game, the girls (in teams of three) 
raced to encase one girl (the caterpillar) in a T. P. "cocoon." 
 The first team to finish won the game. 

Then the caterpillars broke out of their cocoons 
and all the girls flew around the yard like butterflies.

Sequined butterfly masks were a lucky Target find and worked great as favors.

We gave each girl a gift bag as they left...

...and so another year has fluttered by.

Linking to Funky Junk Interiors SNS#71.

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