Sometimes, when my emotions run deep and take over and a smile is as hard to lift as a stack of bricks … when the normallest of activities become hard and the joyfullest of activities taste stale … and when I fight to just not care about a hard reality that may lie ahead, the best I can do is to go into auto-pilot.  To go through the motions, one foot in front of the other, doing what our life of routine calls for.  School, meals, Christmas movies, church activities, the advent countdown, time with friends and family.  We have to be determined to push forward for our children so that their joy still holds all the wonderfully sweet flavor that it rightly should.  Even when we are stifling down more emotions than we know what to do with.

        I have to go through the motions on their time… during the time I spend with my boys… even when everything in me wants to do absolutely nothing at all.  That means playing the Wii or a game of Rummikub if they ask, reading the next chapter of our book, or going for a walk to see a new place they’ve found to adventure ….

        My emotions are begging for the next day and the day after that and a month down the road so I can see what is coming.  I know I’m being vague but that’s part of trying to keep things as normal as possible.  Going through the motions is part of that, too.  Even when there is nothing propelling those motions other than the desire to do right by the kids I have.  So I’ll keep plugging in the Christmas lights, going on walks, reading history and science lessons, mustering up a giggle for the funny thing they said, and watching them flip water bottles to their hearts’ content.  With the added hope that one of these activities, or the sum of them all, will pop this bubble of anxiety I’m in, over what is to come.  Because of course I’d so much rather be filled with the bliss of what already is than filled with the anticipated sorrow of what may be.  At this moment, I can’t shake it, but I know … this too shall pass because eventually the future will be the present and these unknowns that are weighing on my heart and mind will be known.  ♥

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        Volunteering with our boys is quickly growing to be something I seriously enjoy.  I love watching them joyfully serve because there is no question that so much  of childhood is centered around them.  Naturally, that grows a selfish nature and who in their right mind wants to raise selfish kiddos?  I don’t think any one tries to do this, but it is a little hard to avoid these days.    I’m starting to see opportunities now, to involve the boys in serving at our church and our flexibility with our school/life schedule gives us no excuse not to.  They’ve been greeters for a few years so we’re going beyond that a little.  At this young, tender age, we won’t force them into any bit of service.  This has to be seen as a joyful opportunity to them or their view of volunteer work could quickly become tainted, if not ruined.

        Serving at the Molalla River Trail Race that our church organizes was a perfect opportunity.  Over 400 runners came to race along the Hardy Creek Trails, which is an area right by where we play at the River.   The boys loved every rainy, muddy, busy, tiring moment of volunteering at this event and are already asking about next year.  Well, 2 of them are looking forward to serving at it … one is hoping to run in it!  We were all there to help; Matt was the ‘sweeper’ for the second half of the race (meaning he followed after the 1/2 marathoners to sweep the trail and make sure there were no injuries), I was one of the photographers and the boys were ready and up for anything. 

        molallatrailrace-214molallatrailrace-280

        Matt … waiting for the first sweeper to pass by so he could start off on his leg.

        And, off he went.

        There was a bit of down time between runners, so photographing mushrooms and signs of being in the beautiful foothills of Oregon it is….

        molallatrailrace-456

        Toward the end, Gage took over the job of handing out the medals and water to the finishers.  🙂  He was determined to wait at the finish line to see his dad bike across the line.

        It was worth the wait.  😀

        I took over 500 photos and processed about 185 (in only two days thanks to Lightroom!), so rest assured that I did not fail miserably as one of the event photographers by only taking photos of my crew.  😉  I was so nervous about this job since it has been a long time since I’ve photographed for someone else, with their expectations riding on me.  Plus, as I shared on Friday, photography and I are cooling it a bit.  But I had to go outside my comfort zone and just have fun with it.  And I did, rain and all.

        Though I really did want to serve, I knew had to also set the example for our boys that we serve where there is a need, especially when it is something God has given us a gift for.  And in return, He will help.  My nerves faded away as I started to capture the behind the scenes, the volunteers, the preparations, the runners, their joy and even some of their pain.   Serving the Lord takes on many forms, even working at a Trail Race, but it is always good.  And it is especially good when you do so along side your little ones because it’s a seed we need to plant now.  And a passion we get to watch grow!

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        • Bart - This is so great Lacey. I’m glad I saw this post. 🙂ReplyCancel

        • Carol - What a wonderful seed to plant! So encouraging to see that there are parents out there who are setting a great example and children who are following it! God bless you and your family!ReplyCancel

        • Megan - I love this! We try to serve in different areas as we are able. It’s hard to find things that I can being my crew of four (ages 5-10) to help at though. But we are always on the lookout!ReplyCancel

        I was washing the morning’s dishes and the light caught my eye.   The light that comes through the trees just beyond the kitchen window has changed so much over the past few years as two rounds of logging have shallowed the depth of this forest, dramatically increasing the amount of light and changing the dynamic just the same.  It still catches my eye, though, rising through the trees casting huge, long strips of shadow and highlight side by side.  I commented on how gorgeous the light was, took it in with my eyes and lingered at the sink.  Then walked away to change out of my pajamas.  Then came back to the window again to see if the light was still great.  It was.

        I felt the pull to go outside to photograph it, but so much in me said you’ve done it before.  That’s what my mind is telling me about a lot of the photos I’m taking now; been there, shot that.  Already captured, just enjoy it and move on.

        But then the boys saw me looking at the light, at the woods, and they said, “Let’s go out, Mom!  Get your camera!”

        That’s hard to resist. 

        There was a good chunk of time early in my photography journey that I didn’t like this light; harsh and strong, making a ‘proper’ exposure impossible.  I’m just not one for drama or the unexpected.  However, I’m learning that there is even beauty in that and thus, I love this light. 

        This is what he was looking up the hill at; brothers, racing again and again.

        And then, he asked if I was done taking pictures of him and if he could go run, too.  😉

        This running stuff ended with a disagreement between the big two so they went inside, while the littlest stayed out for a bit longer to not make Charlie sad.

        I am glad the light beckoned on this morning and that we answered with a yes.  Actually, that the boys answered with a yes and encouraged me to come along and to bring my camera.  🙂

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        My get-up-and-go-drive to photograph our life has been waning.  Decreasing.  Struggling.  Maybe it is just a season, as I know I’ve talked of this fluctuation before.  It could be because it is winter {almost}.  Or because I’ve not been feeling well.  Or because its been 6 1/2 years and things change.

        I think it is that.  Things change.  They ebb and flow, but they also just change.  I know that I used to rely on photography to help me see the beauty around me and to freeze it forever so that I could someday show my boys this beauty I’ve seen.  In their childhood, their growth, in our family .

        But now, I just see it.  My eyes have been opened through photography and now I see it without my viewfinder.  And, now, the boys seem to see it on their own, too.

        And I suppose gradually I’ve felt like photography has become too much about the past and not enough about the present.  I capture images to preserve the past and in doing so, I keep myself from really being in the present.  Editing keeps me weeks behind life as my queqe is full, while the days are constantly moving forward.  I don’t want to forget the past, of course, but I’m needing to see the present as it is; as the beauty that it is on its own, not just as the potential for a photograph.  I want to capture images that show them their past, BUT my active presence in their day-to-day will shape their future far more than them being able to see photographs of what led them there to that future.

        I’m not quitting.  That would be crazy-talk.  But, I am being okay with not being as deeply devoted to being a photographer.  I’m more than okay with my identity in that dwindling a bit.  I’m okay with not posting on Facebook regularly, if ever again.  I’m not going to freak out about climbing my way out of this ‘rut’ and I’m okay with not calling it a ‘rut’ at all.  I think it is settling into life with photography in its proper place.

        But, in this new found place, I’m doing 2 things to simplify and maybe make the few photos I do take a bit more meaningful:

        1. Trying to edit just in Lightroom … I’m a creature of habit so this has not been an easy transition for me!
        2. Asking my boys, “What do you want me to photograph?”  … it feels pretty cool to be at the point that I can ask them that and know that I’ll get sincere answers.

        I asked Gage and he gave me a few ideas; climbing trees, building forts, throwing the football and hitting the ball with the bat.  And, him with the cats.  We all have a deep affection for them and loosing our little girl kitty late this summer was a good reminder to savor this time with them.

        While he savors his kitties, I’ll savor the times that I do feel the pull toward taking a photograph.  Savor, but not stress over those I’m capturing and those I’m not.

        Now… you know what always happens to me when I make statements like this?  The opposite happens.  I’ve been feeling this post building for a while now, so I’m sharing … but I will not be one bit surprised if just around the corner inspiration strikes and my camera stops collecting dust.  😉  If not though, I’m good with where I’m at.  And I’ll feel okay if the ebb is more than the flow.

        Thank you for reading … I appreciate the minutes you spend with me here more than you know.  Like I said, I’m not quitting … I’ll still be here.  Who knows what’s in store? 🙂

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        • Carol - Oh I hope you take breaks now and then but Please, Please don’t ever stop!!!!ReplyCancel

        • Megan - I absolutely understand this! I’ve felt like this before too!ReplyCancel

        Recently, we were spending the better part of our afternoons outside, in the hayfield, playing baseball.  I’d hit the ball, the boys would practice catching it, throwing it, catching it again, etc.  They figured once soccer ended they needed to get right on practicing for their next sports season…

        And then something has hit my stomach for the past week and beyond what I need to do, I pretty much just want to lay on the floor.  I’m not sick, just have a nauseous-all-the-time-gut and I can’t quite figure out why.

        So the boys played in the field on their own for a few days until the faucet opened and the Oregon rains came and came and are still coming.

        Thus begins the long, yet shortened winter days.  If I sound meloncoly about that, I certainly am.  I usually enjoy this time because I can find plenty to occupy myself with in the dark evenings of late fall and winter, but this year feels different and I wish I could blink and it would be spring again.  Long, dark evenings don’t mix well with the 4, active, outdoor-needing men in my life and I may be joining them in that.  Hopefully this pooey attitude of mine will soon vanish along side the pooey ache in my insides.

        Moving on!  Other than the above, here’s what is going on around here lately:

        It is November, known as ‘Movember’ to some, and we have therefore seen a growth in Matt’s mustache.  So much so, that this was the name he got on his coffee the other day:

        I’m teaching the Mastering Manual Exposure Workshop for Click Photo School right now and this always reminds me of how I can have about 2 things on my plate at a time.  So, teaching the workshop and teaching homeschool it is.  Photography, extra fun things, reading books, blogging, meal planning, etc all takes a back seat.  ♥

        In an attempt to lift my mood away from my stomach and onto much brighter things, I’ve began Christmas Shopping.  With a vengeance.  We’ve also started watching Christmas movies but I’m digging in my heals about starting to decorate… as always, I feel like Thanksgiving needs to have its day before our house explodes with lights and greenery and all things Christmas.

        Speaking of Christmas, I’ve decided to spark up a new tradition of getting the boys 5 new Christmas books that I’ll give them each Sunday between Thanksgiving and ending on Christmas.  I’ll wrap them, and they will open them, and we will read them.  Together!  The thought of that lifts my mood.  😉  One thing is for sure, my boys still love being read aloud to and who doesn’t love a wonderful Christmas story to read together as a family?  I’m sure I’ll share more about this when the books arrive and the giving begins.

        I’m taking a class at church right now about angels and demons.  Boy or boy is it eye-opening!  So much makes sense now and if you haven’t studied spiritual warfare yet, I’d say now is a pretty good time to start. ♥  Surprisingly, I do believe it will bring you a great deal of peace during this particularly turbulent time in our country.

        One of my boys is currently tucked away in his room, reading a book series he’s gotten into.  Him doing that is a source of joy for me, because it hasn’t always been this way.  ♥

        I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girl reruns while I lay on my back thanks to my tummy discomfort.  But, I’m finding that the show is adding to my discomfort.  I used to love it, and everyone and their sister seems to be joining in that love now that it is on Netflix, but … now?  So much of it brings me discomfort.  I suppose I only share this because I’m realizing that when I feel discomfort in my life I try to find a place to be distracted from it.  But distraction seems to only more discomfort lately, especially when the distraction is meaningless and noisy.  I’m seeking meaningful calm and I don’t think we can find that through tv … or social media … or the stories and lives of other busy, noisy people.   I’m sure this is not new news to most people, but I needed the reminder.

        The boys are learning and loving Checkers.  It is the first game that both G&C enjoy playing together.  Or, rather, that Cooper enjoys playing at all.  They’ve been playing on a little bitty travel checkers board with magnetic pieces the size of an eraser head.   And … there it is…. another Christmas gift idea!

        By the way … never before in my life have I been so grateful to be studying the history of our world.  So many think we have it so bad right now, but sheesh … it just doesn’t even compare to what’s gone down in the past.  However, it is a fallen world we live in and there is no doubt about it.  It is a backwards, me-focused country we live in that opposes God and His love and favors our own agenda and ‘rights’.  I’m so thankful to have my identity be in the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the Kingdom of this World.  I find peace in that, hope in that, clarity in that, purpose in that.  Without that, we’re left with the chaos and disgust that we’re currently wallowing in as a nation.  No president, government, protest, activist, whatever will bring us out of it.  Only turning to God can.  “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” says Proverbs 32:12.  Our nation is not worshiping God as the Lord.  Our nation worships itself, our citizenship, our rights, our agendas, our savings accounts, our success, and our choice … these are our gods that we worship.  It is no wonder we are where we are right now.  Our prayer has to continue to be, first and foremost, that the hearts of our nation would turn to Jesus and that it would begin to follow him.  It is the only way.

        I didn’t expect to post that, but when I ask the Lord to guide me through my day, I suppose His message is likely to pour out.  😉

        And because it feels necessary, here are a few images of pretty light and the sweetest goats you ever did meet:

        Blessings on your days, friends.  I’ll be here praying, researching probiotics,  Christmas shopping, trying to figure out our plans for Thanksgiving, and hoping to get outside and hit some fly balls to the boys soon.

        I hope your week is filled with His love and wisdom. ♥

         

         

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        • Carol - Sure hope you feel better soon Lacey! Great reminder how we all need to turn back to God especially in this troubling post-election time.ReplyCancel