Archive for November, 2012

The Jesus Tree: Daily Advent Devotional

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Five years ago, I was searching for one family tradition that could orient our family to Christ during Christmas year after year. I didn’t find what I was looking for, so I tried to create it.
In 2007, my friend Mary Kessler Sauer and I worked on putting together a series of Advent devotionals for families.

I wrote 25 devotions and Mary Kessler created 25 accompanying drawings that can be used as ornaments. This year, a couple of friends at church, Benjie and Lizette, have revisited this project, and we’ve been working hard to improve it. We hope that your family might use it as a tool to focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ during this December.

Each day in the month of December, you read a devotion, sing a hymn, color and hang an ornament.

You can download a PDF for the devotions HERE.
You can download a PDF of the drawings HERE.

Some families simply color the drawings and hang them as ornaments.
Other families make ornaments out of cut up pages of children’s Bibles framed in ornament frames. They use these drawings as supplementary coloring pages.

I’m a work in progress. I’m learning more about God and his Word each year, and I’m learning more about communicating God’s Word to younger people. This project will never be perfect. Every time I send it out, I have to trust God to use an imperfect tool and an imperfect person.

May God be magnified by this devotion.

And on a different note, this book by Sally Lloyd-Jones is would make a great Christmas gift to give to someone you love–young or old: THIS BOOK

The Illuminated Word Project (November): Judge Not

Wednesday, November 28th, 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!

Judge Not

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

Dear Carter,

Last week you turned 8. I am so thankful for you. You make our family much more colorful than it would be without you. I appreciate your active and witty mind. I appreciate how you protect the people that you care about. I enjoy watching your expressive, sweet face. I enjoy seeing what your latest collection is that you are hiding away in your bed. I am always amused by how you connect words, questions, ideas, and observations into one wacky and perceptive mental tapestry. (I’ll try to explain what that means later, but trust me, it is a compliment.)

I am so glad that I am your mom. You give great hugs and kisses. They mean a lot to me because I know that you don’t give them out carelessly. I appreciate how you refuse to perform for people. You don’t fake feelings or act a certain way just because people might expect that of you. When you do make choices out of a love for God, you really shine for him because it is real and not fake.

Even though you are a kid and I am an adult, I know am going to learn a lot from you. I already have learned a lot from you. You are teaching me how important it is to live life as a child of Our Heavenly Father. God doesn’t want either one of us to live as orphans. You remind me about how much both of us need God. And even though it doesn’t feel comfortable to see how much we need Jesus, we will never appreciate his love for us at the cross, if we don’t first see our sin.

You know that I am not a perfect mom. I get frustrated with you a lot. I say mean things to you to try to get your attention. I try to force you to do certain things so that will make my life go more smoothly. We both know how well that works(!). I often don’t slow down and try to understand you when you are frustrated and angry. I try to take short cuts. I try to avoid looking at my own heart when we have a conflict.

See your big eye in this picture? (Yes, they are pretty awesome. You can thank my genes for that!) I’ve been thinking about your eyes a lot. When Jesus taught important things to his followers, he would often explain his ideas using word pictures. In the Sermon on the Mount, he uses eyes to teach about our relationships. Here’s what he said:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7.1-5)

Now can you imagine if you had a piece of saw dust in that big, beautiful eye of yours? It wouldn’t feel very good, would it? Your eye would burn. Your eye would itch. Tears would build up and your eye would water. So let’s say you asked me to help you to get the piece of sawdust out. But imagine if I said, “Sure Carter. I’ll help you get that speck of saw dust out of your eye” and I walked over to you with a big plank of wood in my own eyes. Do you think I could a very good job helping you with your eye if I had problems with my own eyes?

Jesus was teaching us that sin makes us blind—not really blind but blind to seeing life correctly. Sin darkens our vision of who God is and what he is really like. Sin confuses us about what is valuable. Sin messes up our relationships and blocks us from seeing even ourselves well. My sin has blinded me.

So all this to say. . .would you please forgive me? I am way too eager to point out your sin. I make my sin way smaller in my head than it really is. I act as if I’m better than you, when the truth is we both have the same need. As a mom, I’ve been like a blind eye doctor—digging around in your tender eye before I have dealt with my own heart.
I want to talk less at you.
I want to listen better to you.
And when we do talk about the lies you believe and your off track heart, I don’t want to stop there. I want to show you mercy and grace. I want to help you to see God as much more beautiful than whatever has hijacked your heart.

Of course, as I think about how God wants me to love you, I know I can’t do it. I am tired a lot. Our life moves pretty fast, and there are a lot of things we have to get done in a day. You are not a simple person. You are complex. It will take years and years for me to even begin to understand you. And I need to grow up a lot. I need to love you more than I love myself. So I am asking God to change me so that I can love you better. And he promises that when I pray persistently, He will give me His Spirit and change me so I can love you better.

One last thing: Thank you Carter for giving me permission to write this letter to you and share it.


“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7.7,8)

the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11.5)

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

Nail Polish

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Trying out a different editing style.

Pizza. Growing Up. Play. Clip. Organize.

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Bright Spot

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Harrison and I didn’t make it to Dallas. He threw up all weekend.
I got to spend some time with Emmie after Greg took over nursing duties with Harrison.

We looked in a few stores. We had dinner at Pei Wei. Then we headed to Red Mango for frozen yogurt.

Emmie was a major bright spot in my day.

We need to get away like this more often. It reminded me of how fun and funny my daughter is.

When It Rains

Friday, November 9th, 2012

When it rains, it pours. The day I posted THIS BLOG, I got the call from Carter’s school that he was throwing up. He missed Halloween altogether. I’ll have to blog more about Halloween later.

And as if that weren’t enough, Harrison came up to my room last night throwing up. (Long story short, I think they had two different illnesses.) I got to problem solve how to help a kid throwing up from the shower with shampoo dripping down my face. Greg was gone in Austin. Harrison threw up about 10 times all through the night. I lost track.

Harrison and I missed a flight to Dallas today. He is supposed to be the ring bearer in my cousin’s wedding. See THIS.
But it is hard to walk down the aisle carrying rings when you feel so wiped out.

I am disappointed. I wanted to be an adult and dress up and celebrate. Instead, we just can’t seem to move beyond emergency mode.

This is the second trip to spend time with my family that has been cut short or cancelled due to our family getting sick.
Please don’t suggest that this is my fault–that there is something I could be doing or didn’t do that caused this string of illness.
We eat well. We are active. We wash our hands. We live in a broken world and illness is part of it.

Help me to trust in God’s goodness and fatherly care when I am tempted to get angry and be cynical.

Hope we can drive to Dallas in time tomorrow.