Archive for August, 2012

The Illuminated Word Project (August): Substitute

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

his 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 taking a look at my post, please check out all of the other photographers participating in this project. The next step is Denean Melcher. Just click HERE.***

God has been teaching my young son, Harrison, some important things.

God has taught him that sin is saying “I don’t need you, God.” Sin isn’t just specific bad behaviors; it comes from a heart that is bent away from God. Harrison is having the courage more and more to admit when he has been running from God. (I hope he sees this same courage in his mom.)

God has also begun to teach Harrison about his guilt; about his need; and about what Jesus has done for him. One day, I was talking to the kids about Jesus’ death. Harrison piped up and exclaimed, “There should have been too much crosses.” When I asked him what he meant by “too much crosses”, he tried to explain to me that there should have been a cross for every person—me, him. . . .everyone. That word picture of individual crosses for everyone as far as the eye can see has stuck with me.

The churchy phrase for what he was getting at is substitutionary atonement. It simply means Jesus paid for my sin. He was my substitute. He got what I deserve. This isn’t just a made up phrase. It comes from the Bible. Read it for yourself:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. I Peter 2.24

Because God is showing Harrison these things, Greg and I thought it might be time for Harrison to join our church as a communing (or communion-taking) member. In our church, you wait to eat the bread and drink the wine until you believe.

Harrison initiated a meeting with our Pastor Tom.
Tom asked Harrison some questions.
Harrison had a few questions of his own.

Tom agreed that Harrison was ready to profess his faith.

So last Sunday, 8/26/12, Harrison simply stated his need and trust in Christ in front of our church family. He promised to follow Christ by His grace; to submit to the leaders in our church as they submit to Christ; and to love our church.

Harrison joined us at the table for the Lord’s Supper for the first time.
(I didn’t take a photo of that out of respect during our worship service. We took this photo in advance.) While Harrison took the bread and drank the wine, I thought about God’s kindness. God has kindly revealed himself to Harrison and is working in our flawed family in ways that I don’t fully understand.

Speaking of flawed families. . . See this picture that my mom took right before the worship service? Some might say that we look like a great, pulled together, church-going family.

But let me give you some context.

Greg and I started this morning with a fight. I felt hurt and angry because Greg hadn’t made himself available conversationally the night before in the way that I had demanded. The very first thing we heard as we came down the stairs was our boys shouting and yelling at each. One had just hit the other hard because the other one had destroyed something he had buitl. Of course as divided and preoccupied parents, we did a lousy job of loving our sons through their conflict.

We drove to church. You would not have wanted to be in the car.

After we arrived, I arranged this shot outside. No one was cooperating. I felt desperate and frustrated. Carter was crawling on Greg and knocking him off balance. After a few shots in this spot, Greg said with exasperation, “I’m finished here” and just walked away. I felt embarrassed that my visiting mom was seeing me and our family struggle so much.

We walked in the doors and were greeted by my friend, Kacey. She asked how we were doing. I told her the truth. She understood the desire that moms have for these special days of celebration to be free from sin, struggle, and conflict.

This day was the perfect context for Harrison to profess his young faith.

God kindly and firmly reminded me of our need. Without God’s work, we would forever be running from Him. We would forever be slaves to score keeping in relationships and to the thoughts and opinions of others. Did you read that verse from I Peter carefully? It states that Jesus was our substitute SO THAT we would die to sin and live to righteousness.

His substitutionary death is not just a payment for my sin.
His substitutionary death is the engine behind change.

God left no room for self-congratulatory thoughts. There was no room to think, “Wow, we’ve done a great job so far as parents.” This was a day to celebrate God’s ability to supernaturally bust through and work inside of our hearts.

I’ll admit that even I tend toward skepticism. I have doubts. If you know me at all, you know that my mind doesn’t ever stop. I process and think all the time. I think, “How, God, is it possible for Harrison to understand these basic, foundational things? Does he really get it?”

I worry because I know something about the hard road ahead for my son as he follows Christ. I think, “God, are you big enough to continue to work in Harrison’s heart so that he will know you more deeply and love you more and more?”

God is teaching me some important things too:

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11. 26, 27

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1.6

One side note: Greg and I reconciled that afternoon. I’m not even sure I could summarize how it happened. All I remember really is that Greg by the Spirit chose to move beyond score keeping and personal hurt to try to understand me. That set in motion our reconciliation. Only God could have done that.

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

Back to School

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Harrison started kindergarten today. Honestly, it wasn’t super hard for me. I absolutely love his kindergarten school. Because Emmie and Carter went there too, I know all the fun and learning that is in store for him. I’m just happy for him. I think I will have a harder time saying goodbye to kindergarten than saying hello.

You know Harrison is pumped when he starts to smile and the tongue comes out.

It is a big rite of passage to get your kindergarten tote bag at this school. Most kids have them.
Harrison picked orange for his letters. This is a bit more handsome shot.

A nice teacher offered to take our picture together.

Last week, Harrison got to meet his teacher, Mrs. Mendenhall, for the first time. He also checked out his classroom.

Carter started second grade today. He is in Spanish Immersion which means that all of his subjects (science, reading, math, social studies) are in Spanish.
He got Emmie’s 2nd grade teacher, Sra. Hernandez.

Emmie’s homeroom teacher is Sra. Walker. Or rather I should say Emmeline’s teacher is Sra. Walker. Emmie is wanting us to call her by her full name, Emmeline (pronounced Emma + Lynn). It will take some getting used to.

Yes, she is in Spanish Immersion also. She seemed a little nervous but was happy to reconnect with friends. This year, her grade will be team taught. One immersion teacher will teach language arts and social studies to both immersion classes. The other immersion teacher will teach math and science to both classes.

I walked Emmeline and Carter to school before hopping in the car and driving Harrison to his school.
Carter was surprisingly tolerant of pausing for a few pictures. I think he is looking more like a young man all of the sudden.

I am hopeful that this coming school year will be full of learning, fun, and community for my kids.

Emmeline: “My favorite part of my first day of school was my teacher. Our instructions were clear. She sat with us at lunch. She made us feel at home.”

Carter: “My favorite part of my first day of school was sitting by my friends and organizing my desk.”
He later revised his answer to include the head rub that I gave him at the end of the day. He had an awful headache because he played hard and didn’t drink any water at school.

Harrison: “My favorite part of my first day of school was all the songs that [Mrs. Mendenhall] sang. They help me learn.”

The iPad

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

And I thought the iPad was mine. . .

The iPad is a source of both joy and sorrow at our house. Sometimes, screen time can bring them together as this photo demonstrates.
Other times, it is the occasion for major conflict. I know the fights aren’t about the iPad per se. The fights are really about what has captivated their hearts. I’m just the mom struggling to think through the use of technology and how to love my kids well. I need wisdom.

Celebrating My Grandfather’s Life

Monday, August 13th, 2012

This summer, my family said goodbye for now to my grandfather, Howard Nisbet.

My grandfather lived with my grandmother across the pasture from my parents’ house. They had moved there 3 years ago. I took these photos in the spring as my Aunt Marja took care of him.

This day, he was in great pain. I ended up taking the golf cart over to the cabin to get some more pain medication for him. He hardly ate a thing. I do remember how he still looked at me with a sparkle in his eye as I photographed him. He allowed me to photograph him when he wasn’t at his best, and I am very appreciative of that. He didn’t act like he had to “clean himself up for me”. He let me just be with him.

Many family friends and people from my parents’ church family reached out to my grandparents. I am grateful for the Bargases, the Bowers, and the Stones. And this brief list is incomplete.
This is Gordy Stone. He faithfully played cribbage with my grandfather even during times that he was in the hospital. My mom is fond of giving people nicknames. She calls Gordy the Cribbage Angel.

My favorite part of spring break was the Sunday afternoon when I spent time with my grandfather as he woke up from his nap. I got to sit with him and be quiet with him. He didn’t talk a lot, but he wanted me there. Emmie joined us a little later. I got my Aunt to take this picture of us.

My dad called to tell me that my grandfather died on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. It wasn’t our first phone call that day. There had been calls back and forth because my parents could tell he was struggling. Harrison was actually up at my parents’ home when Gran Gran died. I think Harrison ended up being a real gift to my parents, grandmother, and aunt during that time. After I hung up the phone, I told Carter and Emmie. Emmie ran and hid under her bed and started crying. She refused to talk to me or anyone. After about an hour, she started practicing singing “Amazing Grace”. She had talked about singing that song at his memorial service. Carter grabbed markers and paper and drew this picture.

My mom and I decided to ditch the sterile funeral home experience with the fake plants, blue carpet, and flourscent lighting in favor of a celebratory open house to mark the earthly life of my grandfather. My parents hosted the Open House at their home. Family members shared memorabilia like this flight log and pins from WWII:

The guests wore red, white and blue.

My dad’s friend and guitar teacher, John DeFoore, picked some old church hymns on the front porch. It was the kind of music that my grandfather liked to listen to.

My dad’s sister and brother came to support my dad. Here’s a shot of my dad with his little sister, Aunt Dianne:

My other Aunt Diane (my mom’s sister and my grandfather’s daughter) organized a scrapbooking center. (Yes, I have two Aunt Dian(n)es.)

Carter wrote:

Emmie wrote:

Can’t help but think that she was thinking of times like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Harrison made some artwork for Great Gran Gran’s scrapbook also:

Robert Anderson and his wife, Rachel, made strawberry ice cream to celebrate my grandfather’s life. They had made the same ice cream for my grandparents’ 60th Wedding Anniversary party three years ago. Greg, my husband, popped popcorn. We also shared some of his other favorite foods: shrimp, pecans, zuchinni squares from the garden, watermelon, and Werther’s Originals.

My brother, Matthew, brought my grandfather’s WWII flight jacket. Some of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren tried it on for a photo.
Here’s my cousin, Jimmy:

Here’s my cousin, Jacqueline:

My daughter, Emmie:

My son, Carter:

My son, Harrison:

My niece, Madeline:

My cousin’s daughter, Athena:

My cousin, Jessica with her daughters, Arami & Erena:

I like this one better in b&w:

I even got Greg to take a photo of me before we left to drive back home:

Patriotic pinwheels lined the walkway. The youngest grand kids and great grand kids got to take them home.

My mom puts signs next to the food and memorabilia telling people a bit about my grandfather. This sign by the campfire hit me hard:

The day after the Open House, we celebrated with a Memorial Service. Emmie had the courage to sing Amazing Grace accompanied by my Uncle Kirk.

And it was a huge deal that my dad played “In the Garden” while my Aunt Marja played handbells. My dad had never played guitar publicly.

My mom requested a wash tub garden flower arrangement to honor my grandfather’s life. He loved to garden.

A group of friends at FUMC Quitman made a wonderful meal for the 50+ family members and life long friends who were there. My grandmother sat next to her friend Marcie.

This is the team of people that made our lunch. Church community is a precious thing.

Mom, do you see how much your friends love you???

Please pray for my grandmother, Jan. Can you imagine what it would be like to lose someone whom you had been married to for almost 63 years?

My grandfather had a pilgrim mentality. He held on for us, but he was future looking. He sang about his future. He lived in light of his future.

My grandfather was a record keeper. He flew 28 bombing missions over Europe during the war. He asked his navigator to supply him with a copy of the flight map for each mission. (When 2/3 of the people doing your job end up dying in combat, I guess you want to be prepared to navigate on your own in case something happens to your navigator.) After each mission, he wrote a personal journal entry on the back of each map. This is what he wrote in his own handwriting after his last mission.

Thank you, Mom, Dad, Aunt Marja, Uncle Don, and Karen Hallonquist for caring for my grandfather. You all did an excellent, excellent job. You used your different gifts to love him, and I am so grateful.