Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

"The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend."  -Abraham Lincoln

Where I live, Winter is a tough time for many of us.  It is cold, damp and dark.  We see the sun infrequently - sometimes due to the afternoon sunsets (can you say 4:15??) and sometimes due to the thick blankets of clouds covering the world overhead.  Frequently, I think, by the time spring hits, we are amnesia patients forgetting what blue sky looks like.

Many of us (I will raise my hand to join this throng), see winter as an enemy to be endured - through hibernation, tough grit, or grudging surrender.  But is there an alliance to be forged with this unrelenting season?  Is there a gift to be found in winter?

There is beautiful symbolism that comes from the Chinese culture in the form of a picture.  The picture is of a pine tree, bamboo, and a plum flower.  This trifecta called "The Three Friends of Winter".  Each member of the trio chosen for their vitality in the midst of what seems an unfriendly season.

Most of us would recognize the pine as being a picture of endurance and life in the thick of the harshest circumstances.  Its evergreen "leaves" speak life when all other cousin-trees have grown barren and sleepy.  (Is it any wonder we choose pines for our Christmas trees??)  Its strong roots reach far down in the earth to withstand the howling winds, rain, sleet and heavy snow of winter.  It reminds us to stand firm in harsh seasons.

The strength of bamboo, on the other hand, comes from its flexibility in the face of winds and storms.  Its footing, like the pine's, never moves, but it bends and twists with the prevailing weather.  So often winter brings unexpected cold, snow, storms, power outages and short, real life!  However, bamboo helps us remember to bend - not break - as we face our own natural disasters.

Though not native to Seattle (that I know of), I am told the last of the three friends of winter, is a surprise in the nucleus of the harsh environment.  Plum blossoms arrive in the middle of winter with a riot of petal explosions that fill the tree.  Perhaps they are not the most beautiful flower, but you can be sure they are one of the most noticed when the rest of the landscape is seemingly dead.  In the middle of frigid cold, these blossoms do not hunker down, but open themselves to the very elements that threaten them.  To open our hearts in the midst of adversity is their lesson.  

So can winter hold unexpected friendships?  To be sure, it does!  The three friends of winter remind us to stand firm, to be flexible and to open our hearts - all in the chill and cold.  (Although, let me say for the record, I will still take any opportunity to try these three things on a beach in Costa Rica any day!!)

May we all face winter knowing we have Three Friends to guide us.  May we stand firm, be flexible and open our hearts even as the elements fight against us.  

(And may some of my yoga friends make a whole class/practice out of this....because that would be the next best thing to my Costa Rican dream!!)

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Senior Style

Seniors...each one of you is unique.  You may as well express yourself with STYLE!!

Since we'll be heading back into senior portrait season soon...I thought I'd post a handful of ideas for backdrops and the feel of a Red Thread senior session.  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

I love roller coasters!!  I love the slow, methodical climb to the apex of the ride.  I love that one moment of pause before the descent and craziness begins.  I love the feel of my face being scrunched up as the blast of air hits it and my hands white knuckled gripping onto any bar in front of me.  I love the rush, the twists, the inversions and the dips.  I love roller coasters!

I know not everyone feels this way.  A few years ago, Luc (my son) and I were at a local amusement park and I watched the trepidation in his eyes as he peered up at THE WILD THING.  I knew he wanted to go on it, but deep down wasn't sure he was willing to risk it.  He was scared - plain and simple.

He and I had talked about riding The Wild Thing on the way to the park.  We talked about his fear and his desire to go on it, and I told him he needed to do it.  I would go with him.  All that sounded great in the safety of the car, but standing in line for THE WILD THING, getting a few steps closer every minute, well.....all of his fears surfaced and stalked him.

By the time we were ascending the stairs to the platform, he flat-out looked at me and said he didn't want to do it.  I could see the growing panic in his face and felt the clamy feel of fear on his hands.  What I did next may have looked like bad parenting to an outsider, but I know him and love him and in this instance knew what was best for him.

I didn't let him back out.  I told him he needed to ride THE WILD THING at least once.  I let him remain in his fear with every step but also asked him to trust me in it.  I asked him to believe that I had his best interests in mind and had already gone before him - experiencing many roller coasters already.  I asked him not to give in to his risk...and to trust me.

And guess what?  Luc now loves roller coasters!!  I think he runs to them faster than I do!  He has entered into the thrill, the exhilaration, the fun and yes...maybe sometimes a bit of fear.  All because he was willing to listen to and trust me.  I am so glad he did.  It makes my joy multiply exponentially when we get to enjoy a roller coaster together!

I tell this story because I think life with God is often like this.  We look at a daunting task or calling before us and fear can threaten to consume us.  We might beg and plead with Him to not have to do travel the road that lies before us, but He just smiles and makes us stay the course.  He asks us to trust Him more than trusting in our fear.

It is my belief we are all called to a life of trust.  The great thing is, God knows best and has gone before us.  Many times, as we follow Him, we end up enjoying the ride we were once afraid of!

May God call us all out of our fearful places to take an adventure with Him.  And may we all be risky enough to trust Him even in our fear.  (Who knows, maybe someday we'll be considered THE WILD THING!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

Last week I mentioned the idea of living with More and Less in my life this coming year.  In following my "read more" mantra, I am reading a challenging (and funny) book by Jen Hatmaker called 7.  The byline of the book is "an experimental mutiny against excess".  Now isn't that a mouthful??

I know I have excess.  I know I continue to obtain even more and more stuff.  And that stuff doesn't bring me the happiness I thought it would.  It usually becomes a disappointment that I have to find a place in a closet or cupboard for!  I also know that I don't just pursue "stuff", but fill my life with excess noise, visuals and (my favorite) food.  I mean who doesn't love something salty and crunchy when she is bored?  (Insert Doritos here.)

Because I know my heart and mind need a little de-cluttering of the excess, this week I decided to fast as well.  I have been fasting from all solid food, but allow myself a protein shake in the morning and at lunch, as well as broth or tea.  (If I were to go without all food...nobody would remain alive at my house!)  It has been difficult because I realize that when I feel emptiness of any sort, but especially boredom, I like to reach for something that fills my mouth and stomach.  Instead of sitting with the emptiness, I feel the need to fill it.  This of course, is true for my mind and my body as well, not just my stomach.

So this week as I've fasted, each time I felt hungry the need to put items in my mouth, it has led me to pray.  It has led me to ask God what I am really hungry for and has allowed me to sit in silence to wait for an answer.  It has also shown me just how much excess I live with.  (I eat WAY more than I need, let alone all the stuff I own that has no business being labeled "necessity".)  It has also led me to realize that it is OK to let go of some things.  

This was my prayer this morning:

To let go
means to open my hands
put it down
and leave it.

But that leaves my hands
very empty, Father.
For I am used to carrying
this familiar item.

Temptation to pick it up
runs searing-hot through my blood
My eyes cannot be averted
from this coddled, kept, treasure.

I need to feel full
already clenched hands grabbing for more
compel me to reach out
and snatch it back.

But You tell me to look down
and see my palms and fingers
lined and wrinkled
but no longer clutching.

You call me to prayer
with open hands.
Expectation in emptiness.
Making space for Your presence.

I let go
of dear things
to find myself
held onto by You.

No matter your religious persuasion, perhaps we could all use a little letting go in our lives.  What are the items (or other things) that you need to let go of?  

I have a feeling that "letting go" and "less" actually bring us more life rather than diminishing it.  (I am, however, still excited to eat solid food again!)

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Smile!!! {Tacoma Family Photography}

Sometimes when you photograph little ones, you can never be sure what to expect.  They may smile for mom and dad, but the minute my camera is in front of my face staring them down, many times the smile turns into a look of incredible concern.  This session, however, that was not the case!  I am pretty sure this little guy couldn't frown if he wanted to!!

He is one bundle of smiles!  But of course he is because he is so loved by mom and dad!!

Thanks W Family!!  It was awesome to get to play with you three!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Cowboy Family {Redmond Family Photography} they are not ALL cowboys, but one of them is the real deal!!  He rides horses, goes on cattle drives and does all that cowboy stuff!  However, I think the point was that they were all together over the holidays and wanted a few images of their family-love for one another!!

These two (the cowboy and his cowgirl!) are responsible for this wonderful crew!!

Thanks T Family!!  It was wonderful getting to hang out with you a little bit on a sunny day!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fun in the Desert {Phoenix Family Photography}

We headed to Phoenix for Christmas this year (2012) and I got to photograph this amazing family while we were there.  Thank you M Family!!  I always love to capture your playfulness with one another!

This big sister kept trying to give her little brother a kiss.  He was going to make her work for it.

Ahh...little boys!!

And little girls....

Of course, there are the parents too!

And this is how you do snow in the desert...on a 65 degree day!!

Thanks M Family!!  You are all always!!