Sam is a planner. He likes to get a plan in place and then not deviate from it at all. (Routine is a big deal to people on the spectrum.) We keep that in mind but we also push him a little on that front because he doesn't live in a bubble. He lives in a community with other people whose thoughts and preferences have to be considered as well. Last night was one such instance.

I had an engagement shoot and all the kids were home. Sam and I had talked earlier in the day about watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, his latest obsessions favorite past time. I had told him it would be fine but what I didn't realize was that a movie marathon of some sort was starting at the same time and the girls wanted to watch it.

During a phone conversation I reminded him that we were working on being considerate of other people and no that just because he let his sisters watch something instead of the game shows did not make him a lifetime loser. (Please note that whenever he mention the phrase lifetime loser he does indeed hold his fingers into the shape of an "L" on his forehead.) I tried to talk him through understanding that his shows could be watched another time and they came on every day but the movies didn't. He was pretty convinced I had been brainwashed by his sisters.

"But, Mooooom! We were agreed on this. You are spoiling them!"

Without missing a beat,

"Wait, is this some kind of feminist march?"

I think he is feeling slightly out numbered with his father out of town.

Poor kid.




The other day I had the most surreal experience or rather moment of realization. The stage had already been set I guess by the fact that Rob and I had recently gone away for the weekend and the kids stayed home. Alone. Without even a grandmother to oversee things. We didn't actually do the same happy dance that we did say, when the last diaper was used or when we told everybody to go get in the van and no one needed help, but there was a quiet celebration when we got back home and everyone had survived without us for a few days. (Apparently we do need to establish some contact protocol in case we do it again though. The kids wrote up a rather hilarious desperately-seeking-parents facebook post when we didn't communicate with them as much as they felt we needed too.)

Anyway, last week I was doing a quick mini session for a friend and Emily was sending me text of things she was designing on the computer. She is seriously considering a graphic design college path and it was fun to see her creating and working on something. When I got home Abby wanted to talk pictures with me and we went through some of her recent photographs and talked shop so to speak. She is showing a lot of interest in photography and some talent and skill. Sarah is happy and content with her life and working so hard towards her nursing degree. Sam is working hard as the church janitor and learning to be responsible for a job and tithing and other grown up stuff not centered around LEGOS or the latest episode of America's Got Talent (although both things are still very important to him.) Claire is busy and active and into everything...playing with friends, volleyball camp, reading and puzzles, and painting sun catchers.




We've spent summer so far in and out of the kitchen baking and cooking and trying new things. We're doing new things like leaving them alone and nobody is dying and they are all growing and thriving and suddenly it came to me that we are so much further down the road than I realized. So much closer to where we wanted to go when they were all tiny and we were really hoping and wondering if any of us would survive.




If you had asked us way back then where we were headed and what we wanted for our kids and our family I don't think we could have told you. I'm not sure I can articulate even now but I know they are growing up and maturing in a way that pleases me because I think it pleases Him and it's in part because of the hard work we put into them and all because of the work He has done and is doing in spite of us.

Not that we have arrived or anything. There is the occasional dust up over whose turn it is to clean out the litter box and there may or may not have been a smallish kerfuffle over a chair the other night. But we're seeing landmarks that show we've been going in the right direction. They're living and creating and loving and being and it's wonderful.

As for where we're headed? No idea. But I know it's in front of us and we keep pressing forward trusting that He is making the path straight and leading us right where He wants us.


A couple of weeks ago Rob and I went to Lakeland to visit a sister CREC church. It is a beautiful city with plenty of charm and my goodness, the locations for great photos were abounding! (Anybody want to go on a road trip for a destination session?)

On Saturday morning we visited the historic landmark campus of Florida Southern College. It is the only campus designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and it was gorgeous. The man led quite the life but his designs have always fascinated me. His idea that the building should be a part of it's surroundings birthed what is called organic architecture. I love the lines and his use of glass in his designs.


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It really is a beautiful campus and since I didn't have my real camera with me the pictures just don't do it justice.

After our morning spent at the college Rob needed to get some work done so I wandered around on my own. Our hotel, which was just lovely, was located near one of the city's many lakes. Again, the pictures don't really show off the beauty of the place. The grass is so lush and green and there are so many charming details.

Mirror Lake looks like something out of a fairy tale with it's broad sweeping stairs that go right to the water, the lovely arches of the old train station, and it's beautiful old fashioned light posts. The lake itself is huge and there are also restaurants and a really fun children's area.



I must have seen about a dozen different types of water bird around various parts of the lake but the swan seems to be the symbol of the city in the way that pelicans are for Pensacola. Apparently swans were pretty visible in the early 1920's but by the time the 50's rolled around the swans were practically extinct due to predators. The story goes that one Lakeland resident was so sad at the loss of the swans that they contacted the Queen Elizabeth who sent two royal swans in answer. So while Lake Mirror may not be an actual fairy tale land the swans are of royal descent.

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I love flowers. Any kind, including the weedy ones. Whether I get them from the store, a florist shop, the hands of children, or friends. I like having them in our home because they add so much cheer and beauty.

Recently some friends were over for  dinner and they gifted me a lovely pink gladioli grown in their own yard. We've been enjoying it for well over a week now but since I know it won't live forever I took a few minutes the other day and photographed it. In the midst of a crazy photography season it was a sweet respite from editing. I did a few of the pictures using the reverse lens macro and they are rather delicate looking abstracts.


I wanted to know a little bit more about the flower itself so I looked it up. I learned that it is actually native to south Africa and it's name is derived from the Latin word for sword and literally means "little sword".  Because of this it often symbolizes strength. It is also an extremely feminine looking flower with it's delicate, sometimes ruffled, petals.


I think because of the close connection between beauty and strength it will symbolize the virtuous woman for me.


Originally there were only seven varieties but now there are over 10,000 cultivated kinds in just about any color you can think of.  They can range in size from two to five feet.


Whether growing in a garden or gracing a vase they are quite lovely, aren't they?


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.

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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.

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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.

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She puts her hand 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 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.


Have you ever considered how amazing the process is by which we learn language?

Somehow, just by the process of hearing, we learn to speak.

As parents we talked to our children from the time they were born. (Actually, we talked to ours the moment we found out they existed.)  Those cute little disruptive balls of humanity had no idea what we were saying but we talked to them anyway.


We told them who we were.

Mama loves you.

We told them who they were.

There's Daddy's little man.

We introduced them to people.

Go see Grandma.

Not a word was understood by Daddy's lil' man but we sure wanted them to know of our love and we
wanted them to know who their grandparents were, along with the countless other family and friends we named.

And what did our babies do?

They soaked it all in. It didn't mean much in the beginning but it didn't take long before the weird sounds we made got connected to real tangible things and understanding began to dawn.

The process happened almost unbidden, with no noticeable effort made to learn the ins and outs of language, the subtle nuances of the tongue growing up unconscious with the maturity of the child.


We don't question talking to our children or question this way of learning speech. And we don't dumb it down. I mean we don't require them to give us the chemical break down of water just because they're thirsty and in need of a drink, but they do ask for water and they know it will quench their thirst. And at some point down the road they're going to learn about the chemical make up of water.

The language of the Church, what they are called to believe should be taught to them in the same unbidden fashion.

The liturgy of worship, it's call to come before God, to realize we can't go before Him unclean, the answering confession of our need for forgiveness, the way the Word and sacraments nourish us...this is where the foundation is laid for a righteous vocabulary. 

No, the infant or toddler or child in the pew may not fully understand what is being said on Sunday morning. But they are learning who their people are. More importantly they are learning who their God is and what He expects of them.

We shouldn't underestimate children's capacity to learn, to be shaped and formed, by our church services anymore than we should underestimate their ability to learn and speak language. They are perfectly designed for the task.


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