Archive for May, 2012

The Illuminated Word Project (May): Sting

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

This year, I am participating in a group project with other photographers across the country. Once a month, we each select a part of the Bible and represent it some way visually through our photos.

We are a diverse group of seven women with different beliefs, and I am looking forward to an ongoing conversation with these photographers and with the people who read these blog posts.

Welcome to The Illuminated Word Project!


***After reading below, please check out all of the other photographers participating in this project. The next step is Jenny and Stephanie at The Pure Life Project. Just click HERE.***

My much loved grandfather, Howard Nisbet, died last week. No, he didn’t “pass” or “pass away”. He died. There is no getting around the horror of death. Body and soul are ripped apart. A person disintegrates. Relationships are cut in two.

Right now, I’m writing from my parents’ home. I’ve packed the “little black dress” that no woman ever wants to pack. I’m tired. I’ve worked hard to prep my family for my early departure. (They will join me later on in the week.) I’m emotionally spent. I almost don’t even want to try to write this post now. I won’t be able to write it as well due to fatigue.

I feel stung.
I’m sad.
I miss him.

I called him Gran Gran. My brother was his first grandson. I was the first granddaughter.
With him. . .

Smoking chicken was a religious experience.

Every lane change was accompanied by a loud grunt and massive acceleration.

All conversations, for a time, led back to a tearful play-by-play of some bombing mission over Europe.

Your mood was affected by the score of the latest Michigan football game.

All packages in the mail included more packing tape than box. They were able to withstand an air drop and were stamped all over with B-24 Liberator stamps.

The house was filled with tropical houseplants.

Tomatoes and spinach were growing in the garden.

Honey with the comb was on the kitchen table.

Breakfast most often included a halved grapefruit.

A dangling golf ball marked where you parked in the garage.

Venison sausage was served up every Christmas morning.

The weather channel was always on. The Farmers’ Almanac was always at hand.

Every day on a road trip wrapped up with an early happy hour for anyone over 21 years old.

This man prided himself on his ability to drive a boat and teach young people how to water ski for the first time.

This is the man who let me put clip on earrings on him.

This is the man who introduced me to wild huckleberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

All mail featured a handsome, architectural penmanship.

He was a record keeper. He kept records of football scores, of birthdays, and of completed missions.

Want to see what I mean??? Check out these football tickets from 1947.
My grandfather made this note about his proposing to my grandmother during a date that included a Michigan Football game. We discovered the pair of tickets with his note and her wedding dress during their 60th wedding anniversary celebration.

The memories of our time together during my childhood are sweet. The memories of our recent time together are even sweeter. My grandfather was suffering. He felt bad. He felt tired.

Suffering reveals a person’s heart. It distills. It clarifies what we live for and what our life is about. I witnessed a childlike faith in my 92 year old grandfather all the way to the end. He shuffled his wound-covered, socked feet along in his wheelchair and would sing “Closer to Thee” or “In the Garden”. He didn’t speak up a lot, but when he did, it was most often to express gratitude. Even in immense pain that he would try to conceal, he was grateful and thoughtful of others. Even when he sometimes didn’t recognize the people closest to him, he was still asking about what we needed.
I want to be like that.
I wonder if I will be like that.
Every time he thanked God for the food that we were going to eat, he prayed with intensity and earnestness. The tears were always right under the surface.
His dependence on God and love for God was sweet.

Here he is blessing the meal at our annual Thanksgiving reunion of my dad’s side of the family.

Here he is praying with my older son, Carter.

For the past three years, my grandparents have lived next door to my parents. We have sat quietly together. We have shared meals together. We have gotten Sonic drinks together. Every time we have parted ways, he has sandwiched one of my hands in his and has told me important things. He has told me things that he wants me to remember. He has been preparing me for his leaving. These times and words have been so sweet to me!

Patriarch is a word that has gotten a bad wrap lately. I don’t buy those negative connotations in this case. I am learning that kind authority is a beautiful gift. My grandfather was the patriarch of our family.

First, his service in World War II anchors my patriotism. (No, I’m not saying that I think America is perfect. And I’m not making a political statement about war in general. In fact, I even heard my grandfather toward the end of his life wrestle through some of the consequences of his bombing raids during WWII.) What I am saying is that being an American does really shape who I am. And out of all the people whom I know personally, he reminds me of the cost and risk associated with serving one’s country and freeing other people from a tyrannical ruler. That type of service is admirable.

Not only did my grandfather connect me to America, he also connected me to God’s work over centuries in my family. I didn’t grow up learning a whole lot about God. I didn’t grow up talking and thinking about what God had to do with daily life. But after I became a Christian in highschool and learned more about my family history, I was greatly encouraged to discover God’s saving hand in the Nisbet family. This hand of grace and mercy stretches way back to 16th Century Scotland. (Here’s when it pays to have a diligent genealogist like Charles Whalin in your family.) You can read more about God’s work in the Nisbet family. Click HERE for Murdoch Nisbet. Murdoch Nisbet hid in his basement so that he could translate the New Testament by hand into everyday Scottish language. Click HERE for John Nisbet. John Nisbet was martyred on December 4, 1865 in Edinburgh, Scotland. If you want to read even more, check out this book which gives the account of what John Nisbet did and said before being executed HERE.

I know from God’s Word that His love for me extends way back before I was born. I see confirmation of that saving love as I trace it through the Nisbet family to me.

I miss my grandfather. My mom misses her dad. My dad misses his father-in-law whom he met over 40 years ago. My grandfather wasn’t just the patriarch of the Nisbet family. He filled a father-shaped vacuum in my own dad’s life. All three of us are so very sad. Here is a picture of my Nisbet grandfather (my mom’s family) participating in the life Thomas family (my dad’s family) Thanksgiving reunion:

I’m not going to sugar coat it. It sounds like crap to say, “Death is a normal part of life” or “It happens to all of us.” As a Christian, I’m glad I have license to get mad about death. It is the consequence of sin. It is an intruder in God’s good world. It goes against God’s life giving and sustaining ways. Jesus wept about death. Jesus came to fight death.

Memories don’t do it. And as much as I love photos and photography, they are not enough. I took many, many photos of my grandfather. They are precious to me. But they don’t bring him back. I don’t want to just look back at past memories and old photos. I want to look forward. I want HIM.

To view a slideshow of my grandfather’s life and legacy, click HERE.

I live between the already and the not yet. Jesus has already defeated sin and death on the cross. I know the end of the story: Sin and death lose. Jesus wins. And yet, this world is still messed up in many ways, and people still die. My grandfather’s death gives me a greater hunger for Jesus’s return.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
I Corinthians 15

My Beliefs
I think it is only fair to tell you where I am coming from. We are all religious people. We are all trying to find life, meaning, value, and purpose somewhere or in someone. What matters is what or whom we believe. This is what I believe. What do you believe?

This is what I believe: WHAT I BELIEVE
This is what I care about: WHAT I CARE ABOUT
Think Jesus Christ is irrelevant to your everyday life? JESUS CHRIST CHANGES EVERYTHING
Want to get fancy? GETTING FANCY
Have no idea where to start? Want to teach your kids about God? START HERE

What 9 Looks Like

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Emmie turned 9 on 2.26.12.

We took a little time out of our day to mark this milestone with a few photos.

It is wonderful to see green again in San Antonio after a couple of summers of severe drought.

Gifts for Emmie

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Emmie received some extra special gifts this year. Each set of grandparents and Greg and I all found something a bit “fancy” to give her this year. I hope she felt loved. But we gently reminded her that it we weren’t setting a precedent 🙂

Thanks to Nana and Pa, the “girls” can now learn to play piano just like Emmie.

This is the moment when it dawned on Emmie that Bampy and Grampy might be giving her McKenna, the new American Girl Doll.

And finally, Emmie had outgrown her first bike that we gave her when she was five so it was time to get a bigger one. Emmie was surprised! (We gave Carter a new bike for his birthday since he had outgrown his first one also.)

Arts & Crafts (Emmie’s 9th Birthday Party)

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Emmie chose lemon shortbread cookies with strawberries and ice cream for her birthday dessert. I kid you not, these are some of the best cookies you will ever put in your mouth. I know my cookies.

Here’s the recipe. Don’t be deceived by the simple ingredients. This recipe is proof that less is more.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies (from King Arthur)
**see below for lemon variation**

1 c. (8 oz.) unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
¾ c. (5 ¼ oz.) sugar
2 c. (8 ½ oz.) unbleached AP flour

1. Cream butter, salt and sugar in mixer.
2. Add flour and blend.
3. Roll dough into balls and press with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
Chill in freezer for 30 minutes before baking.
4. Roll dough into a long roll 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter. Cover in parchment and freeze until very firm. When ready to bake, slice roll into cookies no thinner than ¼ inch and prick twice with fork.
OR Press the dough into a shortbread mold; no need to freeze it.
5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
6. Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 20 minutes. The bottoms should be a light sand color. Remove from the oven and transfer to rack to cool completely.
7. Store in tins lined with waxed or parchment paper. Shortbread tastes best on next day or two.

Lemon variation: Add 1 Tbs. lemon zest and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Roll cookies in granulated sugar.

At step #3, I often freeze them flat on a parchment lined baking sheet for 30 minutes until firm. Then I store the pressed and sugar coated cookie dough rounds in a zip lock bag so I can have fresh lemon shortbread whenever I want.

Center #1: Beads (As kids arrived)

Center #2: Hanging Yarn Hearts

Center #3: Watercolor Hearts

Center #4: Circle Weaving

Center #5: Duct Tape
I had duct tape waiting in case I needed to stretch our time a bit which I did. So after the girls cleaned up, they did some duct tape crafts on a mat on the floor while I got dessert ready. I don’t have any pictures of that.

We are so thankful for each of Emmie’s friends who came to celebrate. I am sorry that I don’t have a picture of everyone. There was a lot going on!

The Goodie Bag

Each girl got her own bag to hold her supplies. The crafts were the party favor. I made and tied one of the Happy Girls on each bag. They are quite a bit of work, but they were a big score.

My Pinterest Board

Here’s my Pinterest Board that I used to plan the party. I didn’t use all the ideas, but you will find instructions for almost everything HERE.