TBT: Stealing My Joy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm throwing it back today, because I'm needing this little reminder about comparison.  I wrote this post back in February for a writing group I joined called the Flywheel Society.  It was organized and facilitated by Matt Mooney who blogs here.  It was a great group and I learned a lot.  So yeah, comparison sometimes gets to me even when I think I'm past that kinda thing. When I know better.  The post is about photography, but you could replace that with a number of other things.  I know it's ridiculous, and yet... here we are.  I'm thinking about putting Roosevelt's quote (see below) up above the mirror of my vanity, and then right under it I'm going to put another sign that says, SO CUT IT OUT!  If you need a little reminder today too, have at!

I think every post needs a picture and this one felt appropriate because it shows who we really are: silly, imperfect, off balance, but ultimately grabbing each other by the hand and taking this life one step at a time.  We are who we are.  No use wasting energy on trying to be something else, right?

"Comparison is the thief of joy."
Theodore Roosevelt

I came across this quote a few years ago and I often think back to it when my mind wonders to an unwelcome place.  Do you know the place?  That wretched place where we allow ourselves to become bothered, even stressed or saddened by that which we don't have, or by some idea of perfect.  Ick.  I'm disgusted by myself even to write this, but it is me.  It is honest.

I have had an interest in photographs and photography for quite a long time.  Ever since middle school, I've enjoyed printing pictures for photo albums, collages, frames, and gifts.  When I was in high school, I played basketball, which always took up a full class period, so I never had the chance to take any other electives.  In preparing for my senior year, I discovered I could take electives instead of Math, because I had taken all the required Math courses.  Even though the guidance counselor was not too keen on the idea and even recommended against it, my parents encouraged me in my desire to take Art one semester and Photography the next.  I have never once regretted that decision.  In fact, it is very much to the contrary.  I wasn't the best in either class, yet it was so good for my soul to get in touch with my creative side.  And that remains true to this day.

My blog has become such a real part of who I am these days.  In a stage in my life where I have to constantly remind myself that my role is important, it is nice to be able to see a tangible, productive part of my day.  Of course I believe raising my kiddos is beautiful and worthwhile and right where I want to be, but as a stay at home mama, I rarely see the fruit of my labor immediately.  My blog gives me an accomplished feeling every once in a while.  It also allows me to process life more fully, get creative, and have fun.  And in that way, it has renewed and strengthened my affection for photography.

Recently, I decided I would like to improve my photography skills... learn to move away from the auto setting, get inspired, and capture beauty in its many forms.  This new goal has made me excited, happy, and motivated.  Up until the last few weeks that is.  All of the sudden, as I continue to learn new skills or suggestions for editing, I find myself rejecting all of my older pictures and telling myself how terrible they are.  Ugh, I hate that I'm doing this.  Some of my most treasured worldly possessions are poor quality photographs, because of the feelings and emotions they evoke, the stories they tell over and over, any time I want to hear them.  Why must I make such a mess of that just because I learn something new or see someone else's better piece of work?

So this is my outward confession.  I'm done doing that.  My blog and photography are supposed be a happy place.  They provide a record of my life with my little family, my growing kiddos.  Even the worst picture in the world by textbook standards, will make my heart sing if it holds Emmitt George, Cora Marie, Jaron Hill, or a number of other loved ones.  I will not let comparison steal my joy anymore.

That Weekend, This Weekend

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I haven't been very consistent with picture taking lately.  I know I've told you that a billion times.  Bu-ut, I grabbed the real camera a few times in the last two weekends and caught some sweet moments that will definitely remain sweet memories.  You'll notice the kid concert I mentioned in a post the other day.  Also, you might notice a few pics that Bennett took.  Looks like he's becoming my assistant, because every time I get my camera out, he's right by me, either reaching to see the pictures I've already taken or wanting to take some himself.  He's got a very interesting, artistic style going and I gotta say I like it!

I don't even know what to tell you about Cora and Adeline.  These. two. girls.  They are something.  And when they get together...  Oh Lordy.  They are already having slumber parties like they're tweens, getting up several times in the middle of the night to laugh and chatter.  I kinda love the picture where Cora is reaching for the microphone.  They both have A LOT to say (and sing).  They both know what you should be doing.  Also, they'll probably be running the family in a few years.  Let's just pray right now that they use their power for good.

The last group of pics is from this last weekend.  It was a really good weekend too and these pics only cover a sliver of the goodness.  Emmitt and his Star Wars counting book, Cora and her curious, into everything self.  I'm loving that the back of Cora's hair is growing and the wisps curl up and around sometimes.  It's likely going to turn into a mullet, which will be just as it should be I suppose ;).  The first picture of the three of us outside cracks me up.  I think we were checking out some dogs that were being walked, but it looks like all of us are giving the stink eye to our neighbors.  I assure you we were not.  We think our neighbors are lovely.

Thankful for good friends and good family and good food.  Thankful for birthday celebrations.  Thankful for busy times and quiet moments.  Thankful for time to write and time to run errands.  Thankful for church services and bounce houses.  Thankful for evenings outside and coffee and watching some TV with Jaron after the babes are in bed.  Thankful.

33/52

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Emmitt:  This was on E's first day back to Mother's Day Out.  Except guys, his class is actually called preschool, which I just found out days before he started and I'm not sure how I feel about it.  (Sigh.)  He's so big and I love his guts and he has a dinosaur backpack.  Oh, Emmitt George.    
Cora:  This was last Sunday while we were in the backyard, chillin' and watchin' Dad work hard.  She was hammin' it up for the camera.  Love her big girl guts too.  Oh, Cora Marie.  

Friends, at the risk of being a dork and a pest, I'm gonna link you up to yesterday's post here.  And this is why:  It's a review of Jen Hatmaker's book, Interrupted.  When I read it back when Winter was turning into Spring, it rocked my world.  I'm still processing it, but last month I noticed on Facebook that Jen (maybe I shouldn't just call her by her first name, but I kinda want to think we're buds, in a completely uncreeper way, of course) asked bloggers if they'd be interested in reading an advanced  (free) copy of the updated and expanded version of the book that just came out.  I felt so nervous to say yes and completely inadequate in expressing what the book meant to me, but knew that I couldn't not do it.  So the review is my love letter to Interrupted.  I'm sharing it again, because I feel passionate about it.  Do with it what you will.

We're settling into the new week and hope you all are too.  Loveyourguts, friends and as some of my very favorites say,  I also love you like crazy.

(You can check out tons of other bloggers' reviews here.  Pretty neat.)

Getcha Self Interrupted

Monday, August 18, 2014


I'm not sure where to even start with this.  I want to tell you about Jen Hatmaker's book, Interrupted, because it is so, so good and it changed me.  I want to tell you that I'd like to tape many parts of it to the inside of my eyeballs so that I don't forget, so that I keep remembering the passion it stirred up in me for the Good News.  Although it is the story of how Jen's life was interrupted by God, she tells it in such an authentic, nonjudgmental way that you feel the call too.  You feel Jesus nudging you in a gentle but firm way to get on track and serve the least.

I've read it twice in less than six months and I've decided I might just need to keep reading it every few months, because new parts stick out to me each time.  I just read the revised and expanded version, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks your Comfortable Christianity.  Jen's journey starts with a simple prayer she offers up, completely unaware of what would happen next:  "God, raise up in me a holy passion."  She goes on to describe how she felt as though she had missed the point of Scripture and the church.  I love that she includes the people and books that influenced her greatly during this time of change.  I am eager to go back and read some of those books as well.

I know we won't all be called to the same things or in the same way as Jen Hatmaker, but I do think she does a great job of exposing how easy it is to get sucked into a complacent way of life, taking for granted what we have and forgetting how Jesus instructed us to live.

The truth is that sadly I was aware of much of what she wrote about the homeless and poverty.  I have a Masters in Social Work and grew up with hippie, compassionate, God-loving parents.  But I've become so lazy and discouraged with the world, and needed to hear the information in a new way.  It got me riled up and reminded me that having warm thoughts for my brothers and sisters who are oppressed, sick, hungry, and hurting is not enough.  

I'll be honest though, just like Jen's simple prayer ended up wrecking her and turning her life upside down and all around, reading her book has started me on a similar path.  I can't make my mind quiet.  I feel motivated to get to work, but paralyzed by where and how.  I can't quite hear yet what God is telling me and it's making me a little crazy.  I want to make big changes in my life and in how I live, but I'm also a good American and we like our things, huh?  There is definitely a tension and I'm trying to figure it out.  

I grew up in the church, have considered myself a faithful Christian for most of my life, and yet I have come to realize that I've developed such a bad attitude about Christians and it started affecting my own faith without me even be conscious of it for a long time.  I care deeply about people and I want us all to be treated equally, with dignity and respect.  That's so big to me.  Unfortunately, I often don't see that among Christians, and it saddens me greatly to write that.  Interrupted, along with some other changes in my life in the last year, reminded me of how exciting Christianity can be.  I fiercely believe that when we help others we help ourselves and this book emphasizes that.  Jen explains in this updated version that since first writing the book, she has discovered so many like-minded people that are eager to live out Christ's message of love.  This gives me hope in a world filled with so much pain and suffering.

There is a quote from the book that stuck out to me and I am using it through prayer to discover what I need to let go of.  Jen explains that she and her husband, Brandon, made big changes, left their jobs and the comfortable life they knew without having a plan for what exactly they were supposed to do next.   She asks her readers if they might be in a similar situation:

"As maddening as that is, could it be that He needs you to release what was before you can appropriately grasp what will be?"

That is where I am.  Trying to stay aware, and still, and open to the call.  Even though it makes me feel off and unsettled.

You should read this book.  Besides being a great storyteller, engaging and hilarious, Jen Hatmaker reminds us of the great disparity of wealth in the world.  She discusses the tension she felt as a Christian with such honesty and eloquence that it is incredibly relatable.  I suspect it will change you too... in an uncomfortable, but really wonderful way.  So go on, and getcha self interrupted.

Dinner and Such

Sunday, August 17, 2014


A few weeks ago, my parents came over for a simple dinner.  Jaron prepared all the food and it was so lovely.  He's kinda the best.  We had such a nice time and it was fun to have them over for a change, because they feed us the most delicious meals all the time.  Maybe it's because my mom worries that my fam and I would go hungry if she didn't help out a little.  Have I mentioned I don't cook?  

After dinner, my mom helped me hem some curtains.  What?  Oh, you thought there was no alternative motive to inviting them over?  As it turns out, despite trying to learn several times, I also don't sew.  My mom happens to be a boss on the sewing machine and always has to give me a little reminder lesson.  It was a really good night.  I'm such a fan of quality time together with those I love, and yay for hemmed curtains!  I think we only owe them like 687 more meals at our house and we'll be sorta nearing close to even.  Easy peasy.  

32/52

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."

Emmitt:  E has been picking up this little frame book lately, so I've been explaining to him that the pictures are of me from when I was a little older than him and that they belonged to my godfather, Dennis.  After he died, my mom gave it to me.  
Cora:  We had dinner with loved ones last Saturday night and it quickly turned into a kid-led concert.  I guess this was Cora's solo.  

Happy Weekend!  I'm feeling thankful for a Saturday with no plans after a full week.  What are you thankful for on this cloudy day?  

Our Weekend

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Last week, Emmitt got to go on an adventure with his Nana.  He rode on the train with her to Texas and then played all day and stayed the night with his grandparents before Jaron, Cora, and I joined him the next day.  As we drove E and Nana to the train station in downtown Oklahoma City early Wednesday morning, my boy could hardly contain himself.  He shifted and smiled, peered out the window, and made nervous sighs of delight.  I knew he would love the train, but had been a little nervous about how he might take going without the rest of us.  And of course, he was completely fine.  Better than fine.  Pretty much forgot all about us the moment he stepped out of the car.  And that is as it should be for an adventure with your grandparents, no?

Jaron took Thursday off, so we were able to get ready to go in a less than frantic clustercuss manner, that is often our typical style before leaving town.  We got to Texas just in time to hug our boy's sweet neck and have a quiet dinner at home with Jaron's parents.  On Friday, we headed to the Fort Worth Zoo, which let me just say, is the loveliest zoo.  I'm crazy about the OKC zoo and think it's really wonderful, but I do love the one in Funky Town too (For one thing, Jaron took me on a date there early in our relationship, so yeah.).  But, even with that being said, someone, and I'm not naming any names here, but someone was hell bent on having a terrible time.  OKAYFINEITWASME!  No, I didn't really have a terrible time, I just whined a lot to my husband about my joints hurting and needing to make a plan for lunch stat before Emmitt started getting hangry (I totally used E as my scapegoat, because I'm the worst.).  And then when we sat down for lunch at Blue Mesa, I apologized to my husband as I shoved fistfuls of chips and guac in my mouth and I thought of all the stuff at the zoo that I enjoyed.  There is something nice (or weird and interesting) about being able to remember the good parts of stuff even if we weren't at our best, right?  I think so.  Nana had let E pick out a treat at the zoo gift shop and he got a stuffed elephant, because he's obsessed with elephants and he picked out a giraffe for Cora.  At lunch he had them eat with us and was talking to them about all sorts of stuff.  Love the imagination that comes out at this age.

We got together with best friends from college on Friday night, without kids.  And it was so, so good.  I wish I had something wise or clever to say about our time together.  But all I can think about is how happy it made me to get to talk and laugh for hours with people I love.  So good.  The next day was equally happy and included swimming with our kiddos, hamburgers, hotdogs, la-di-da.

On Sunday, Jaron and I made a trip to Ikea together.  It was nice to grab coffee and ride together in the car, listening to music, but apparently Ikea isn't Jaron's favorite place (I learned this Friday night at dinner), and there were a few hiccups while we were there.  But, guys, we made it out alive, no fight, and got everything we had hoped to find.  Jaron, we don't have to go to Ikea for a long, long time.  Also, you're nice and I like you and love you.  A lot.

We are always so thankful for our time in Texas.  Jaron's parents are such gracious hosts, always so helpful, selfless and fun.  We are forever grateful for them.  Texas, you're alright, and we'll see ya soon, I'm sure.

 

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