Think On These Things

An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

She is like the ships of the merchant;

she brings her food from afar.

She rises while it is yet night

and provides food for her household

and portions for her maidens.

She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

She dresses herself with strength

and makes her arms strong.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

She opens her hand to the poor

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

She makes bed coverings for herself;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates

when he sits among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them;

she delivers sashes to the merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

 “Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31: 10-31

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Something On My Mind

It seems like the whole world has gone nuts lately about models, plus size models, photoshopped superstars and non photoshopped superstars. Lane Bryant is the latest retailer to jump on board with their new ImNoAngel hashtag campaign…a direct push back to the  rail thin Victoria Secret model line of under garments.

Can I tell you what I think about all this hullabaloo?

I don’t care what size you are…just put some clothes on.

Seriously, I don’t want or need my son to see billboards or life size posters of half naked women no matter if you’re a size 00 or 18. And my girls probably wouldn’t ever think to have body image issues if advertisers would stop putting images everywhere of practically unclad totally photoshopped bodies, again no matter the size, on display for them to compare themselves to.

And ladies, please. Let’s stop talking out of both sides of our mouths – claiming that men objectify us and reduce us to sex objects but insist on dressing and carrying on in a way that shows we only mind being objectified when someone else is using that power against us instead of us using it against them.

This past summer there was a mega hit song for the debuting country duo Maddie and Tae that people just loved. Critics praised it for mocking the good ol’ boy bro country voiced by a girl who is tired of always riding shotgun and not getting to drive the truck, and always being scantily dressed.

Well I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet. And it’s getting kinda cold in these painted on cut-off jeans. I hate the way this bikini top chafes. Do I really have to wear it all day?
Actually, honey, you don’t. You can choose to put on a pair of shorts that have an inseam longer than 3 inches and you can wear a shirt that completely covers your chest and midriff. Don’t blame the boys for liking to see you half naked when you let them talk you into taking most of your clothes off in the first place.
Here’s the thing. We’re glory makers. That is the job God created women for…we are to make things beautiful. And there is power in that task. World-altering, life-changing, life-giving power. So don’t be surprised that the enemy seeks to warp it and twist it into something less than what it is by deceiving you into thinking it’s something that it’s not.
Being beautiful, being comfortable with who you are, isn’t about being okay with the size of your body and how much of it you’re willing to publicly flaunt. Every body does count because. no matter the size, it is a human being who is made in the image of God. True lasting beauty will only be found, recognized, and appreciated when that truth becomes the defining starting point for all of our conversation about human beauty.
Until then – for the sake of modesty, my long legged daughters, and their father’s sanity – can we please lower the hem lines a few inches?

Abby ~ Part Two

One of the things I love about photography is how easily I can change the story I want to tell just by shifting where I am standing and what direction I am shooting. Last week I shared some images of Abby that were full of golden sunlight and sun flare, two things my soul doth love.

But then we moved over a little and turned just slightly in another direction and the pictures we captured are some of the loveliest I have ever taken of this sweet child who is usually so uncomfortable in front of the camera.

It helps too that we live in a rather diverse place of beauty. Most people would be surprised that these were taken at Fort Pickens but they were. It just goes to show you that we can overlook the natural beauty that surrounds us because we get to used to it and stop looking for it.

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Beautiful_girlhood_tween_photography_Ft_Pickens_Florida

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Looking at these makes me want to do some more sessions like this! They also make me wish I had a huge wall space to print all of these some of them  one or two of them nice and large.

Friday Photo Journal      Best Shot Friday

Abby ~ Part One

There are times when my camera feels like a magic wand in my hands.

I always love taking pictures. Whether it’s families, or children or even the head shots I’ve been doing recently. Capturing certain moments…helping preserve moments and events in someone’s life…that is just an incredibly amazing thing to be a part of.
But sometimes.
Sometimes, I am surprised and amazed when something I see in my head becomes a reality on the back of my camera.
Sometimes I am startled when it all just comes together and the vision finds expression so perfectly that I want to dance I’m so happy.
It is an incredible feeling however fleeting it may be.
Back in January Abby and I spent some time together one late afternoon and in was one of those magical moments. Rarely have I been as proud of personal work as I am of the images from that day. I’m going to be sharing them over the next several weeks and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
girl-in-white-dress-sun-flare-Ft Pickens_fairytales

girlhood-fairytale-white dress

Ft Pickens_Pensacola_Beach_fairytale
I came across this quote by CS Lewis and it just seemed to fit so perfectly. 
I can’t wait to share some more with you!
 

Elisabeth Elliot on Motherhood

I could not say it any lovelier so I am not even going to try. Her words are perfect and full of truth. The images are mine from my favorite maternity session, one that I think captures the grace and beauty of motherhood. I realize that most of motherhood doesn’t wear beauty as we call something beautiful. It’s runny noses, dirty laundry, and other messes. But the heart of mothering is a beauty like no other.

tummy pictures, maternity pictures, Pensacola, FL, Ft Pickens
“…they’re telling us nowadays how important it is to find yourself, express yourself, and assert yourself. Maybe you’re thinking you’re nothing more than just somebody’s wife and somebody else’s mother. And what kind of life is that?
“Motherhood is a calling. It is a womanly calling…and let’s not be cowed by those who extinguish the light and joy of sexuality by trying to persuade us to forget words like manly and womanly.”
“Single or married, her level of maturity is measured by how much she gives to others. If she’s married, she gives herself to her husband and she receives. If she’s a mother, she loses her life in her child and–mysteriously–she finds it.”
“A woman knows that no one can really say where the giving ends and the receiving starts. It is no wonder we are confused when urged to look for some “better” or “higher” vocation in which to “prove our personhood.”
“This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
If our calling is to be mothers, lets be mothers with all our hearts–gladly, simply, and humbly–like that little peasant girl Mary who spoke for all women of all time when she said, 
Behold, the handmaiden of the Lord; 
be it unto me according to Thy word.”
~Luke 1:38

How Wisdom Decorates a Home

He tells us that a wise woman builds her home while a foolish one tears it down. And we smile and nod as we sweep our front porch and think of the ones we’ve known who have been folly’s handmaid. We glance around at our tidy yards and manicured bushes and maybe pluck a weed or two  thinking that this shows our humble piety and willingness to admit our own sin.

Only we’re not standing on our front porches being neighborly, we’re actually guarding the door hoping no one will want to come in any further. And if they do darken our doorway we have our fancy parlor with plastic furniture covers all pristine and ready for guests.

We don’t want to walk them down the hall past the snapshots of every hurt and injustice framed by bitterness that we’ve hung. And if they do make it to the living room they are sure to notice the major incident that defines who we are and everything we do hanging in it’s place of honor above the fireplace. On the mantle sits the vase of dried up day dreams sitting in the stagnant and murky waters of “I wishes” and “if onlys”.

Other vases full of our expectations for everyone, even God, teeter on the edge of window sills, just waiting to be knocked to the ground and shattered.

Tiny bumps of our family’s rebellion mar the smooth surface of the area rug they’ve been swept under, causing us to continue to stumble.

Sarcasm dents the walls leading into the kitchen.

Our dishes are chipped and cracked with discontentment as we pile them up in the sink barely scrapped clean. Crumbs of presumption scatter across the counter.

Through the crack of the laundry room door we see the piles of neglect as we ignore our duties and responsibilities. The utility closet bulges and is barely able to remain shut against the unforgiveness and disappointments that we’ve tucked inside.

There are many ways a foolish woman can tear her house down without it looking like she is.

But when Lady Wisdom is bid come inside, to clean and refresh, she throws open wide the windows of our hearts and minds bringing with her the Spirit of Truth that dispels the dark shadows of every corner.  We can take down the mementos of the past that shade the present and toss them into the fireplace along with the “I wishes” and “if onlys”.

We can heed her direction and empty those other vases of our expectations for the people in our lives, and more importantly the ones we have for God, and push them  to a place of security and fill them with the beautiful bouquet of His good and perfect will watered by His sufficiency.

We can stop hiding our sin and take the area rug away and wax and polish a deep shine into the hardwood flooring of obedience. The sarcasm of our speech can be sanded smooth and the vivid shade of a word fitly spoken can color our walls.

Learning the art of contentment despite our situation and circumstances makes for unmarred serving ware. Gratitude can dispose of  the taken for granted crumbs.

We can learn to be keepers of our homes, and joyful ones at that, when we see the provision God has graciously bestowed upon us. We can let go and get rid of all the junk we’ve been carrying around from house to house and relationship to relationship.

The truth is our physical homes can sometimes hide the turmoil and chaos of our souls. Other times it can be an accurate reflection of that chaos and turmoil. But in either case we have to remember that we, since we are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Peter says, are living stones being fashioned into a spiritual house.

May we be as diligent and willing to  clean our minds and hearts as we are to declutter and put to rights our physical dwellings.

What It Means to Be Woman

Pssts.

Want to hear a confession?

I am a mother to four girls and I hate all things princessy. (Except Princess Kate.)

I mean the saccharine, Disney-esque, fluff kind of princess – the one defined by her shoes and color of her nail polish.

Here is confession number two. I hate the Christianized version even more. You know the cute little pink T-shirts with sparkly tiaras that say something like, “I know I’m a princess because my Father is the King of Kings.” Not because I don’t believe I Peter 2:9, but because I do.

The first issue is that I hate anything that reduces our faith to a cutesy slogan. Second, I think the emphasis is on the wrong thing. The whole I’m a princess mentality makes much about us, and if you continue to read the verse you’ll see that we are called into that royal priesthood so that we may proclaim His excellencies. In other words it’s not what a special little girl we are, but about declaring His greatness.

Now, I am not lurking about, waiting for an opportunity to throw a can of brown paint on anyone wearing cutesy little overpriced pink T-shirts with a sparkly tiara. It just raises my hackles.

I mention it only because I think it points to a larger problem within the Church as a whole. We are not raising up strong, godly women who are sure of themselves and their role as a woman. Confusion abounds over being able to do it all, have it all, and wear heels while you go about it. The assault on womanhood and femininity has raged for decades. Consequently we are free to question our sexual orientation as young as possible, experiment sexually as early as we can, murder our babies that the exploration creates, abandon the ones we do keep to the care of  someone else while we find our identity in the workforce, resent our husbands because they don’t lead, and clamor for “me” time just so we can take a break from all the things we now have a right to.

We’ve reduced it down to a list of good girls don’t do this or that and bad girls do. Unfortunately that means we’ve created a void of nothingness and the modern christian franchise rushes in to fill it with pithy, cotton-candy slogans and sparkly Ts, leaving our daughters to flounder about not knowing so much what they should be as what they shouldn’t.

They need to grow up. We need to push them out of the “Shut. Up!” Princess Diaries phase of being told they’re a princess, and back them up to the beginning of that second chapter in I Peter and teach them that they are being made into a spiritual house so they can offer up spiritual sacrifice…and then take them to Romans 12:1 and show them that they are the spiritual sacrifice.  And while we’re there we can learn who He wants them (us) to be.

Somehow I think His idea of what it means to be His daughter, His princess, is going to look a little different than what we’ve imagine.

Pretty As A Pig Snout

Discretion. 

Not a word we hear often in our society, is it? And if it is used it’s usually in conjunction with being quiet about keeping a dirty little secret. But there is more to discretion than what our modern times would describe.    

As a mother of four daughters, two of whom are teenagers, I spend a lot of time contemplating and pondering things like modesty and beauty. Modesty, I believe, is intrinsically intertwined with real beauty. Unfortunately I don’t think we have a good grasp of either beauty or modesty. Culture seems to have two main default positions:

1.) The glam, sexy, up-to-the-minute fashion that shows everything off or
2.) Prairie muffin

Like I said, I think about this a lot so I have plenty of thoughts on the matter. More than can be shared in a  blog post…or two or three. But I can sum part of it up rather easily.


We, the church, need to stop dressing like the other team. Our clothes shouldn’t look ready to move from the Communion Table to the nightclub. I’m not saying that skirts and dresses should come down to your ankles, but if the length and style of your skirt would fit right in with what the party girls are wearing on a date Friday night then there is a problem.

Nor am I saying you have to immediately set up shop with Holly Hobbie and forsake all things fashionable. But I do think the Christian community has got to stop complaining about how hard it is to find modest and stylish clothes as if that is some kind of free pass to stay as close to edge as you can. It is hard. But it is also possible and should be pursued joyfully so that the world doesn’t view it as mere keeping of the rules or being a drag. Of course there is no special virtue in being drab and dowdy either, and we would do well to avoid both extremes so that a reasonable conversation can be had.

I think a good place to start would be Proverbs 11:22 ~ Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Have you ever seen a pig’s nose? They aren’t all cutesy and pink like Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web or Babe.
The pig uses it’s nose to root around and dig in the dirt. You can see why Scripture contrasted the dirty and gross pig snout with the shiny gold ring…they don’t belong together. The ring doesn’t take away from the dirt of the pig snout but the pig snout certainly takes away the beauty from the gold ring. It just looks foolish.

A woman without discretion is like that. 

Consider what the word discretion actually means ~ the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information.

A lack of modesty is a lack of discretion wouldn’t you say? Revealing clothing reveals a lot of private information. The curves and softness of a woman were designed by God to be enjoyed by man just as surely as the strength and lines of a man were made for woman to enjoy. But without discretion the beauty is dimmed and can be just as wasted and foolish as the gold ring in a pig’s nose. 

For many within the church the greatest argument for modesty falls under the first part of discretion’s definition…the idea of behaving in such a way to give offense. Or in church speak, to cause a brother to stumble. While this is important I think it is far too narrow. We should be training our sons and daughters with the understanding that we are all a part of the Body of Christ and what we do affects those around us. But the offense caused by immodest dress actually goes to our Bridegroom. 

Earlier I said we should stop dressing like the other team. As the bride of Christ we are set apart, made holy because the Bride price was impossibly high and yet it was paid in the death, burial, and Resurrection of Christ. He replaced our tattered, torn and filthy rags with garments of grace and beauty. To allow culture to dictate our fashion without restraint, without the boundaries of being His bride, is like piercing the pig nose. 
Modesty is about way more than our clothing though. Modesty begins in the heart and shows itself in choices and actions that show discretion. The visible manifestation is important yes, but not enough. I can be dressed modestly (and fashionable I might add), but if my mind and tongue lack discretion I’m still only as pretty as that pig snout. 

God’s people have been given the task of redeeming the culture, of reclaiming it, shaping and forming it to reflect it’s true King. It’s time that the Church says modesty is important. But we have to understand that it is about much more than the length of a skirt.