Capturing what is

My kids run from my camera mostly.  The kids who can walk at least. The one who can’t walk – lets just say she probably thinks my camera is an extension of my face.  Makes for some pretty frustrating situations for this photographer mommy. Some days, instead of fighting with them to sit, pose, smile, again, again, one more time … I try to relax and capture them living. I am learning to take in whats around me. To let go of the expectations I have of what I want to capture, and instead just capture what is.

This is dreaming.

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This is finally

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This is taking a rest

DSC_0742-2and this is just cuteness 🙂

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Good Friday

They sat in silence. Rare for this group of rowdies. I could hear them breathing as I read, shifting in their bed covers, but nothing else. Their ears? They were working. I could feel them working. Peeled to my every word. Also rare for this bunch.

The story of Jesus’ death danced off the pages in piercing words, like beautiful sad music. We, all of us, were hearing it as if for the first time.

“‘If you were really the son of God, you could just climb down off that cross!’ they said. And of course they were right. Jesus could have just climbed down. Actually, he could have just said a word and made it stop. Like when he healed that little girl. And stilled the storm. And fed 5,000 people.

But Jesus stayed.

You see, they didn’t understand. It wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus there. It was love.”   (from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones)

It was love.

And that love drew tears from the six year old. It stunned into pensive silence the twelve year old. It rendered the nine year old speechless for once in his life. It begged the question “Why?!” from the three year old. And it brought forth life changing questions from them all.

“Then Jesus shouted in a loud voice, ‘It is finished!’

And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.”

Jesus rescued us. Thank you, Abba.

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Emily | 4 months old

Yesterday, I wasn’t ready to say she was 4 months old. She was still “almost 4 months.” Because it feels like this was yesterday…

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Then I looked at the calender and realized how “almost 4 months” she really was. When I think about the time that has passed I get a little sad knowing it went by so quickly. And yet my heart overflows seeing my beautiful girl growing and changing. She is so precious to us. I can’t get over those eyes. And I can’t get over how much God has blessed us with her and through her.

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For those of you wondering, her reflux has greatly improved. We’ve found our happy place at the intersection of Omeaprezole, probiotics, Nutramigen formula, chiropractic care, and a hazelwood necklace. Life is good. I was talking with a dear friend today and we realized together that peace comes from accepting things just the way they are, and then having faith that God will lead you through. We are thanking God that he gave us peace and guidance in this.

We love you so much, sweet Emily

sweet little Zoey Grace

So after a long crazy week of gallbladder surgery and recovery, Shane and I were finally able to make it DeVos Childrens Hospital in Grand Rapids to meet little Zoey. I have been beside myself with anticipation of getting to see her (and her momma)! And after lots of time spent gushing over her, I of course had to grab some shots of her 🙂 Sweet Zoey had a rough start to life, but by God’s healing grace she is thriving and growing. You can read her mom’s blog here. It’s such a beautiful story of God’s faithfulness. I am so thankful that even when trials come, we can have faith that God is lovingly sovereign. This little baby has taught me so much already in her first week of life. We love you, baby Zoey!

“We also know that He created her, just the way she is, perfect in His eyes, to fulfill HIS purpose”  Kallie Hogan

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Matthew 6:26-27 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Project life | week 4

And finally here’s my week four. (A little late, I do apologize.)  I was going to work on our week 5 yesterday and get that posted as well, but we had a small electrical fire in our computer room and had to shut off the power to that room. (Just one more thing to add to our stressful, chaotic week of emergency gallbladder surgery, four dentist appointments, a baby with ear infections and too many snow days… deep breath. deep breath.)

week 4:

Emily was 11 weeks old this week so I recorded some of the things she’s doing at this age. We found out she had reflux this week and started castor oil wraps. Whether they are working or not is yet to be seen, but she sure looks cute all wrapped up in saran wrap and a blanket 🙂

DSC_7197copyTitle card is made from paper using the Seafoam core kit. I had the yellow number paper lying around and I’m honestly not sure where that is from.

DSC_7223Yellow number stickers are from basic grey.

We had two more snow days as more snow storms and cold temps rolled in. The kids spent tons of time with their legos and actually had fun playing together. Minimal fighting = happy mommy. And I just love that little yellow guy on the bottom right. Daniel drew it and told me it was a gummy bear doing the gummy bear dance. 🙂
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supplies used: Becky Higgins page protectors design A, bazzil basics kraft paper, paislee press yellow paper, basic grey yellow alpha, Tim Holtz tickets, Project life midnight edition core kit, Project Life seafoam edition papers

Project life | week 3

I am starting to wonder if we will ever have school again. This is snow day number eight for us here in Holland, MI. And I will admit that we are going a little crazy in our house. On top of that I’ve gotten myself addicted to coffee recently (and by addicted I mean that I am super tired and crabby unless I drink three cups). *sigh* Weaning off coffee while enduring this many snow days is NOT a good idea.

Anyway, I promised to share week three, and here it is. I think I love this project more and more as time goes on. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve flipped through this album so far. Week three is quite possibly one of my favorite spreads ever. The colors, the photos, the simplicity. Love it all. Still lots of Emily. What can I say, I take lots of pictures of her.

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We got tons more snow this week. The boys played out in it for a little while, but couldn’t stay out for long. It’s just too cold. A frequent discussion topic in our house is what would happen if they got frost bit. They seem to think their cheeks and hands will have to get cut off if that happens. I may or may not have told them this so they’ll be alarmed enough to be aware of when they are too cold.

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Emily still loves her baths. She actually cries when I take her out. Silly baby.

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And this. This is what I live for. I just love these girls.

DSC_7194copySupplies used:

Project Life Midnight Edition core kit, Project Life Jade edition core kit, Tim Holtz journaling tickets, Basic Grey mini monogram stickers white, Lily Bee alpha stickers white, Becky Higgins page protectors design A.

Project life | weeks 1-2

I am totally caught up with Project Life 2014 so far. (I can see the shock on your face. I know, can hardly believe it myself.) It feels really good to sit down and work on this every week. I usually carve out time on Sunday or Monday to wrap up the previous week. Hopefully I can keep this pace going through the year.

Today I’ll share with you weeks one and two, and later this week I’ll share weeks three and four.

week 1:

Emily was 8 weeks old this week. I jotted a couple things down about her at this age – she loves her bath and she discovered her hands. She stares at them all the time. So cute 🙂 Yup, this week is pretty much all Emily. I didn’t mean for it to happen that way, but I just didn’t take a whole lot of other pictures.

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week 2:

This has been the snowiest winter I can remember in my adult life. This particular week we got more than 11 inches over 2 days and the temps are frigid! My kids have had so many snow days it is starting to feel like summer break. School? What’s that? I love having them home, but they were pretty disappointed about these two snow days since they were right after Christmas break. I think they were excited to get back to school and see their friends and have their postponed Christmas parties.

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This week was also Daniel’s 6th birthday. 
DSC_7192copyHe got a birthday card in the mail from Great Grandpa and Grandma. When he opened it and saw the chimpanzee, he laughed and laughed.
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We also had family over to celebrate Daniel’s birthday. He told me to email everyone and let them know they could wear pajamas to his party. This boy LOVES pajama pants. So his cousins wore their pjs, and Daniel was delighted 🙂DSC_7192copy1

supplies used:

Project Life midnight edition core kit, Tim Holtz journal tickets, We R Memory Keepers 12×12 album black, Becky Higgins page protectors design A, American Crafts 6×12 page protectors.

a letter to my nemesis

Dear Reflux,

I hate you.

The first time we met was 6 years ago.  You snuck up on me one night. The new baby had been happy for days, but then the screaming started. It lasted for hours that night and then it disappeared for weeks. It would come back again every so often, those long unpredictable hours of inconsolable screaming. The funnest episode was when we were camping in a pop up camper. Everyone could hear the screams long into the night. Unaware of who you were, I avoided every food imaginable in an attempt to pinpoint what was hurting my baby’s tummy. Nothing worked. Finally,and by finally I mean when the poor boy was 6 months old, we went to the doctor and discovered YOU. You had ridden in on the coattails of a hiatal hernia.

Then we met again two years later. You covered me in baby puke. Every day. All day. LOTS OF IT. I tried and tried to “figure out” how to fix my dear baby who couldn’t sleep, couldn’t poop and couldn’t keep anything in his little tummy. Once again avoiding every food known to man and once again failing. I finally gave up nursing and put him on meds. I grew a very large left bicep that year from NEVER PUTTING THE KID DOWN. EVER. And thanks to you, that same kid still sneaks into my bed every night and insists on sleeping with me….even though he is almost four years old.

I thought I could avoid you with this one. I thought I had given you enough of my time and enough of my kids. The first two weeks with Emily were wonderful. But then again she was fussy at night. And she didn’t sleep well. And there was lots of gas. It made me wonder…could she have…?? Nope, don’t even go there. It has to be normal fussiness that all baby’s go through.

Then four weeks hit. I was standing in the doctors office with a waiting room full of people. They were staring at me holding a baby I couldn’t console. And because I was suffering from severe sleep deprivation and frustration, I couldn’t hold it in any longer – the tears came. For all to see. How embarrassing. What kind of mother can’t even comfort her own child? This one. Talk about feeling broken.

DSC_6194copy(just look at my sweet baby trying to enjoy her first ever Christmas present … yup, you even stole her Christmas.)

The doctor said it could be you since you’ve been in our family before. I think I was in denial. I just couldn’t believe you could be allowed to torture another one of my babies. You kept me in denial for eleven weeks. You should be proud. My mind kept searching for other answers. Especially since you weren’t acting the way you had in the past.

Fast forward through seven weeks of multiple doctor appointments, a medication that I only tried for a few days, countless chiropractor visits, three bottles of probiotics, and the list goes on. I was cutting out every food known to man. All at once this time. I was only eating chicken, rice and carrots and I was still hurting her stomach. I concluded that I had poisonous milk.  (At this point I think you were laughing at me.) You made me give up nursing, and I was battling guilt and disappointment.

When I was at the end of my rope one day I remembered the doctor mentioning silent reflux. Epiphany moment…silent = sneaky…and that describes you perfectly. So I googled you. Do you feel exposed? Because I read up on you. I know all about you now. How you crept in silently and stole my baby. You didn’t even make her puke, you clever dog. You knew I’d be on to you if she so much as spit. Nope, instead you riddled her tummy with gas, gagged her, made her nose stuffy, gave her asthmatic breathing, woke her up from her naps and made her cry constantly. Things I would never expect were from YOU.

An upper GI test confirmed it – you’re in there, reeking havoc.

I got a prophetic word from my neighbor today while shoveling my driveway. My neighbor doesn’t even know me. Doesn’t know what’s going on in my life. He said that God says to hold on even though things are rough right now. To be strong. To focus. That his purpose for me is still the same and he will help me through.

It seems, dear reflux, that even though each time we’ve met you were  trying to destroy, God has used you to teach me more about Him. And now I’m thanking Jesus for HIS HOPE. That I can have peace IN SPITE OF YOU. That you do not get to win, or take over. Whether that means I fight you with medication or with castor oil rubs, or if it means I accept you and I hold this baby all day every day. Either way, you can’t win.

So I guess I should say thanks.

Sincerely,

Emily’s mom

“And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

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And by the way, I never want to meet you again.

project life | 2014 title page & 2013 favorites

I love this project so much.

It makes me smile. Giggle. Remember. Yearn. Love.

I wanted to share with you my title page for 2014. I used a couple of the cards from the Midnight Edition core kit for my title page and the rest are from my paper stash. The flower paper is from Cosmo Cricket and the yellow polka dot paper is from Paislee Press. I wanted a picture of the whole family on this page but I didn’t have a good one of all eight of us. So I went searching through my files and found these. I love how it turned out. I might decide to mess around with it later (as I often change my mind about things 😉 ) But for now, here it is:

(click on any image to see a larger version)

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As I embark on this journey for 2014, I am finishing up my album from 2013 (surprise surprise – I’m behind 🙂 ). Although I am far more caught up that I thought I’d be with a new baby I do still have a few pages left to complete.

Looking back over 2013, I definitely have some favorite pages. Some are favorites because the memories on them make my heart overflow. And some I love the photos. And some of them I just love for the aesthetics. I am realizing as I look through these that I seem to stick to simple. Most weeks I don’t add tons of extra embellishment. I suppose that’s the beauty of this project – I can keep it as simple as I like.

The prayer on this first page is found at aboutproximity.com. I love her writing and her heart. This prayer felt like a perfect way to start my year so I wanted to include it in my album.

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This winter was so fun for me. All the kids were old enough to bring out into the cold and have some adventures! I loved being able to watch all of them brave the big hill! (I, however, wasn’t quite brave enough to participate. Partly because I didn’t have any snowpants, and partly because there were other people there watching…. 🙂 )
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The day we found out our baby was coming … I can still feel exactly how I felt that day. Love it!
DSC_6962copyThis is a favorite because I love sheep shearing day at the Bronkema’s farm, and because my girl got to be with her love – HORSES. She was so happy to be so close to these big guys. I loved watching her joy!DSC_6963copy

Just some good summer memories here. Loving the beach. And loving recording the baby bump while counting the weeks up until baby’s arrival.
DSC_6992copyDSC_6993copyDSC_6969copyDSC_6982copyThis memory, I love. We went to VanRaalte Farm near our house and walked the trails. We found a cluster of apple trees hidden away in the woods with apples COVERING the ground. The kids had SO much fun throwing the apples and taking turns hitting them with a stick. Apple schmearing, they called it (if you’ve ever watched Cheaper By the Dozen, you’ll know where that comes from) and the apple pieces were flying everywhere! Such a great day!DSC_6972copy

And these next ones are my most favorite of the year 🙂

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I love this day that my Emily arrived. In the future I may type up the story of this day and include it somewhere, but for now I’m really liking it just like this.DSC_7115copy2

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Project Life is a memory keeping system created by Becky Higgins. You can find out more here on Becky’s blog.

Products used: Midnight Edition and Jade Edition Project life core kits. Project life page protectors style A and E. Becky Higgins 3×4 blank journaling cards with grid design. Letter stickers: Basic grey mini monograms various colors, various American Crafts thickers. Tim Holtz journaling tickets

fearfully and wonderfully made

My dear friend Kallie is expecting a baby girl in February. Such a miracle for this family. You may remember her story of heartbreaking miscarriage that she shared on this blog some time ago. You can read that story here, and link to her blog here. (I, in all my tech-savy-ness could not figure out how to re-blog. Yup, I’m that good. Forgive me.) They are facing some complications with their sweet baby girl. My purpose of reposting her words are to gather as much prayer support as possible. So please visit her blog to leave your comments of support, and please keep this family in your prayers as they will be going through a challenging journey in the coming months. Here is what she shared today….

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When I found out I was pregnant, I thought about starting a blog. We had quite the journey getting to that point and wanted to share all that God was doing. I didn’t do it then because I didn’t think I’d have enough to say about pregnancy to fill a blog….boy, was I wrong! We’ve had a long hard journey so far, but God has proved faithful through it all. Maybe someday I’ll go into further detail, but for now I want to share our new findings, and ask for prayer for our little girl, my husband Kevin, and myself.

Throughout this pregnancy I have had several ultrasounds monitoring various issues. At my 30 week ultrasound my amniotic fluid was elevated and I was sent to a specialist to see if we could find a reason. She thought our baby looked very normal and did not see anything of great concern. The plan was to monitor with weekly fluid checks and twice weekly Non Stress Tests. At 34 weeks my fluid was elevated more. Back to the specialist with some new findings. We could not see the baby’s left kidney or left thumb on the ultrasound, and her cervical spine appears to be slightly disorganized. He was also suspicious of a tracheoesophageal fistula, a blockage in her esophagus, which would explain the high fluid. He didn’t give us much hope of a normal life. This was a hard pill to swallow as none of these concerns were raised at any earlier ultrasounds, and seemed to come out of nowhere, So we sought a second opinion. Same findings, but much more positive outlook. We won’t know anything for sure until she is born, but right now the plan is to deliver at DeVos, surgery to correct the fistula in the first few days, and then a couple month stay in the NICU for recovery. She might have a rough little start to life, but shouldn’t have any lasting complications.

We are still praying with faith believing that God will heal her, and that she will not need any medical intervention after she is born. But we also know that He created her, just the way she is, perfect in His eyes, to fulfill HIS purpose.

PSALM 139:14 – I PRAISE YOU BECAUSE I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE; YOUR WORKS ARE WONDERFUL, I KNOW THAT FULL WELL.