Friday, November 21, 2014

The last few months have been hard. Probably some of the hardest in my life. So many things have been going on, each one lasting a long time and overlapping with everything else. Many of my friends are also going through hard times, and there have been days when I wondered if it would ever end. Yesterday I found I needed to get away for a time, so I headed up into the mountains by myself. The solitude was slightly unwelcome, but the peaceful moments by the river were just the opposite. That wasn't enough, however, so I headed back down and went to Snoqualmie Falls... Lots of driving time, but beautiful scenery on both routes.
While I was watching the falls, there was really no one else people wait til it's warm and sunny to go stand by a waterfall... so I stayed there for quite some time. Just taking some pictures, thinking, praying, etc. I found myself leaning over the railing, staring straight down into the rocks. But not once did I think that the wood and iron would give way beneath me. That struck me as odd. Here I was, leaning all my weight on something designed and made by someone I didn't know. For all I know, they could have been off their meds the day they worked on it. Or maybe they got fired the next day for sloppy work. But the bottom line is, I was trusting complete strangers with my life. I was trusting that whoever they were, they knew their job and how to make a railing sturdy. I believed, though I had absolutely no basis for it, they would not let me fall.
We do that every day in a million ways. We assume that whoever built our houses knew how to make a roof that wouldn't fall down on our heads. Until a structure proves otherwise, we trust it will hold us. We don't expect that a bridge will give way as we drive over it. (Well, I do, but that's because I'm slightly gephyrophobic) We trust complete strangers with our physical safety every day.
I just thought it was interesting how willing we are to not think twice about leaning against a railing or going up stairs we've never been up before, yet how unwilling we are to trust in God the same way. It makes even less sense when you think about the fact that God has continually proven over and over again that He is the most powerful Being, the Sovereign one. He has held me over and over again, and yet so frequently I hesitate to trust Him. He is the only constant in my life that has never changed.
I found myself ashamed as I realized my lack of trust. It's a simple thing, leaning against a railing. I've done it before without contemplating whoever built the railing, and I don't know why yesterday all of this struck me so much. It might not be profound, but for me it was a helpful reminder. People around us can and do desert us, hurt us, and lie to us. But God is not like that: He has never let me go, and He has never left me on my own. There are days it doesn't feel as amazing as the day before, but the facts remain the same. Psalm 139 talks about how He is there, before and behind us, and how He leads us and holds us. Psalm 9:10 says He has not forsaken those who seek Him. Not only that, there have been many many times where I have not been seeking Him and following Him as I ought, yet in His grace and mercy He still has not forsaken me.
I needed this reminder, despite the weird context of it, that God has always drawn near. I owe Him everything, and I will work harder to give things over to Him.
I trust in my God because He is unchanging, holy, sovereign, and loving. I trust Him because He is perfect and keeps His promises. He has never forsaken me and never will. Those are simply facts. Whatever I feel is temporary; my emotions change with the wind. But what I know is this: My God has been constant and I trust Him.
He has never let me fall. And He never will.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Art 'n stuff.

I've been trying to delve into the world of hand lettering lately, and so far these are what I have come up with. It's actually quite fun... Unfortunately I have never taken an art class geared toward this, and have no idea what the standard processes are, or what materials are best, etc. At the moment I'm gravitating toward Microns and basic ballpoint pens, but I did buy a calligraphy pen the other was a fail. So much for Amazon's five star reviews.
I don't have a particular purpose in experimenting with typography, except that it's quite fun, relaxing, and I love the end result when I can come up with my own design and have it look like I envisioned. After much copying of designs on pinterest, and inspiration from geniuses like Sean McCabe ( ), Seb Lester, and others, I came up with these two.

Anyway, it's a work in progress, but just thought I'd share what I've gotten so far. It would probably help to take some art classes....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Below is a link to the firework show I got to watch... Apparently this is what happens if you let a couple of brothers and a friend or two put on a show in their parents cul-de-sac... :-) Pretty amazing.
This is not the whole thing-- I took a short video at the beginning, and grabbed the grand finale as well. Next year I'll be sure to get the entire thing! 

4th of July 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I'm on vacation, give me a break...

Ireland pictures are not quite done yet. I'm getting there!
But first, I had to finish putting up pictures from last year's road trip. Because really, it's not okay to put up pictures of one major trip when the last one isn't even finished yet. Last year was my first venture into HDR, and trying to do that with the Grand Canyon was...excessively difficult for me. I'm not happy with the canyon pictures from the trip, but I put some of them up anyways. What I *am* happy with are the pictures of the delicate arch.
I admit, I find it strange. One year ago I was prepping my camera, renting a lens, and going on a major road trip parents. Now? I am on vacation with my parents. Again. And working on those same pictures. So much has happened within the last year-- way more than I ever thought would-- and yet the same pictures are still sitting on my computer, waiting patiently. It's fun in some ways, and it brings back lots of memories.
This year's vacation is quite a bit different than last year. Last year was an intense several days of driving all day long, seeing sites, planning routes, finding hotels... Then, settling for a week down in Oro Valley, Arizona. Last year we got to see old friends from church-- and that was amazing!
This year, we haven't seen or talked to anyone! I didn't even post on Instagram until today. *gasp*
I also have taken under 20 pictures this week. But it's great. Ireland exhausted me on pictures, planning, and driving to a new place every night. The time to sit and do almost whatever I want whenever I want has been amazing. It's a bummer that Clark didn't come this year-- last year he flew down to stay in Arizona with us for a couple days. But somebody has to stay home and feed the rabbit, right?
The solitude has been a blessing. I needed the time to be quiet with books, quiet before the Lord.
This kind of vacation has slowly taken on a new value to me. A few years back, I found Sunriver to be pretty low on my list of choices. I don't know if it's because the busyness of the last year has caused me to appreciate quiet times more, or if I am just growing enough to be comfortable with silence and solitude-- even to crave it.
I used to feel stifled by Sunriver. The thought of being in one place the whole vacation, of only driving seven hours, of being with just my parents instead of my whole family like the old days. But now, I like it. The bike trails that lead to the river and stables, or the little village-y marketplace are something I enjoy now. Admittedly, I am ridiculously sore after enjoying an hour of the trails the other day, but still, it was a beautiful ride.
I still have the "wanderlust", the longing to go places and see things I've never seen before. I still love long roadtrips and want to go on them-- but now I see the value of a different kind of vacation. This kind, where you stop everything and ignore clocks and relax. Where you literally just sit with a cup of coffee in the morning and look out at the forest of ponderosa pines. (pretending you are in an episode of Bonanza is optional.) Where the world spins on and you sit with a book and enjoy the scenery. Where you take your time with your Bible reading, take the time to write down things, no hurry, no deadline. It's really quite an extraordinary blessing.
The whole time has been incredible. (Minus yesterday, during which I was laying in bed all day with a fever, nausea, and horrible aches. Today it has calmed down to become a congested sinusy thing and sore throat. But at least I have the energy to get up without passing out or my head pounding.)
Sadly, it has to end. The good news is, the massive bag of peanut butter m&m's will come home with me.
Here is a link to pictures from the last few months: Feb/March  April 


My blogging is a bit atrocious lately. I was writing a post about vacation, and realized I hadn't even posted about Celia!
Rachel had her baby! (the 4th one)
I will spare you the long drawn out 'birth story'. It's really not my place to share that.
Okay, let's be honest. I was there, and I know I will have to hear every second of the birth rehashed out to a dozen people, so I will just skip going over it again. Birth is a miracle, and a privilege to witness.
It's also not for the faint of heart.
Anyway, we went up there on Sunday, March 9, and the baby was born shortly after 10pm. I think my facts are straight there... I do know she weighed 7lbs 9oz, because I guessed that before hand. Or maybe I guessed 7.8... Oh well. Either way it's within an ounce of that.
I just read over that, and realized it qualifies me for "worst aunt ever" award. I'll have to collect the facts from Rachel later, and post them. Oops.
The end of all is this: I have a new niece, and she is beautiful. She looks a lot like Rachel and Hannah did at birth. Super cute. ;) Blue eyes of course. Does anyone in my family *not* have blue eyes?
I haven't taken her "newborn" photos yet, but here is the link to the snapshots of her first momentous days. Celia Jane

Hope you enjoy the snapshots. More posts and updates coming very quickly!
Preview: Here is my sister looking gorgeous, a week after having Celia. :-)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Went to Ireland.
It was beautiful.
Came Home.
It was also beautiful.
Pictures will be on the smugmug within a few days, hopefully.
They will be done faster since I'm not busy planning a trip.
Keep an eye out; I got one or two good shots.

Thanks. That's all. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

See the world.

I have a long list of places I want to go.
In theory, I wanted to live somewhere else for maybe a year. Then, though, all I could think about was how lonely and miserable I'd be as soon as the polish of excitement had worn off. At that point I'd simply be a foreigner in a country whose language I didn't speak, getting lost in street names I couldn't translate. And be wondering if the latest niece was walking yet, if I'd ever be employed again, and where was I going to find a reformed baptist church around here?
Anyway, I think that deep down I am a homebody.
That being said-- I love being a tourist. The places I've been can be numbered easily, and most of them are in the U.S.
I don't know why, but I feel like my window of opportunity for traveling is shrinking. I suppose I worry that I'll wake up one day soon and realize that not only do I not have any extra money for travel, but that I also can't get time off from my job. Or have no one to go with me.
A while back, I got invited to visit Africa. I sort of know some people living in Zambia. Whenever I mentioned it, my mother would get a slightly wild panicked look in her eye. Shortly thereafter, she would sit down at the computer. Helpful phrases would come... "You know, Em, that's in what they call here, 'The malaria belt'...."
or.. "Hmm. Political unrest. It looks like there was recently a big problem right where you want to go."
or... "Wow. EVERY American who goes there gets sick for at least a short time!"

Needless to say, she was not enthused about the idea of Africa. But then, honestly, I'm a fair weather tourist. I don't know how much of a legitimate 'adventurer' I am.

Which is why when the idea of Ireland came up, I jumped on it.
And my mother had nothing negative to say. She still looks panicked every time I talk about driving over there, but she merely adds a suggestion of looking up any and all tips that I can find about it.

So we are going for it. A couple of friends and I are going to inflict ourselves on that unsuspecting island in the not-too-distant future. I can't wait...
I will be happiest, however, when every single little detail is nailed down tight, and when I have everything perfectly well organized in a binder... Perhaps Gwyneth and I will go to Target later to pick up one.
But let's be honest. Today is a sweatshirt day. I'm not put together at all, and the idea of emerging from my haze of reading books to a 1yr old and trolling websites for bus trips into Dublin, isn't very thrilling. (Seriously. She won't stop bringing books for me to read to her. Then she looks up at me with those big blue eyes, hands me a book, and says "Pease" and I can't resist... 14 books later, it's classified as a haze.)

What surprises me is how many people are immediately negative about it. I say "we are going to Ireland..." and have been met with a lot of these kind of statements right off the bat.

"Oh. You know it's going to be really rainy there, right?"
(Because I'm not used to rain. It never ever EVER rains in western washington.)
"Ummmm did you know they drive on the left side of the road?"
"You won't think castles are very cool by the end of the trip."
(False. I will still want one.)
"Well. That's going to be a long miserable flight."
 "Isn't that expensive?"
(Yes. Yes it is.)

My search history is filled with things like "things to know before traveling internationally", "How travel adapters work" "How not to be stupid in another country" "hidden costs of travel" "surviving long flights" and "tips for driving the wrong way"....
So that's the latest adventure plan. I like it. ;-)
If you think of it, please pray for our safety, and for as much 'smooth sailing' as possible. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

All I have to say today is:
Pictures from The Seabrook Trip 2014 are now up on my smugmug.
You can find them here: Seabrook Adventures

That's all.
Oh, except for one more thing.
If you look through the pictures, please comment. That keeps you from being classified as a stalker. Well, sort of.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Setting aside temptation...or, "Bye for now, iPhone!"

You’ve all heard someone say they think they were “born in the wrong century.” I’ve said it, I’ve had people say it about me, and I’ve heard people say it mournfully about themselves. (Note: If you intend to employ this inaccurate statement in the near future, be sure to add a sad shake of your head, and heave a sigh. Make it as dramatic as possible for optimal results.)
This century has all kinds of things I love, though. Modern conveniences and such... I’m fairly certain that a more accurate statement would be not that I was born in the WRONG century, but that I do a poor job of doing right in THIS century. I’m not convinced I would do any better morally in another century. When you are prone to waste time, and totally depraved, you’re going to find a way to ruin things no matter the historical era.
(On a silly and useless note, though-- curly and dark hair would’ve been handy to have in another age. Frankly, I’m convinced I would have done perfectly well in the 19th century in some ways. I would’ve been born a clergyman’s daughter, never had a bad hair day, and probably eaten a much better diet than I do now.
I’d also be blind, from straining my eyes at books too much. At least now I have a shot at eye surgery. Nor would I have any spare pocket change, because they didn’t have drive through espresso stands back then for me to work at...)
But I’m rambling and distracting myself. (How ironic) Where I was leading with this was to two beautiful words: Modern technology.
It’s blissful, this modern age of the 21st century.
It’s also killing me.
It’s the smartphone, you see. It’s become my best friend, always there at my side, right with my firearm. However, unlike my gun, it doesn’t aid my attempts at protecting myself. Instead, it makes me vulnerable. Vulnerable to ruining my eyes, collecting more germs, and staying up late trolling social media that has very little edification to offer.
My computer holds those same potential problems (Well, it’s not as germy as my iphone), but is less of a distraction. If I wake up in the night, I’m not going to reach for my computer. No, I reach for my iPhone. Once I might have reached for my Bible to read a Psalm, but instead, all too frequently now, I say “Oh hello twitter feed, let me read the three posts that have gone up since I went to sleep. What, a new instagram comment? I must respond to it at once!”
One of the major problems I face with my phone is that whenever I have a spare second, I grab it. Waiting in line for coffee two years ago, I would not have been making myself motion sick scrolling through my phone. Instead I would have looked up and around me, known what drink I was getting by the time I got up to order, and had the right amount of money already out. In that amount of time, I may have also managed to use my brain to actually think. Think about issues, plan ahead, remember things I needed to accomplish, and maybe even turn my mind to important theological things. Imagine that... 
My iPhone is a wonderful tool, but many times it becomes detrimental to real thinking. Instead of letting my mind be active, and think more of other people, I reach for my beloved brain blocker, and go mindless and wireless. It can engender a lack of thought, and encourage a short attention span. I shudder to think of the hours I have squandered on my phone, accomplishing nothing.
I recognize that I can’t sit here and say “Ban smartphones! They unequivocally ruin people’s brains!” Because that’s simply not true. They have amazing benefits, when used in the best manner, and I have some apps that have been extraordinarily helpful to me, both in practical ways (i.e. navigation), and educational ways. (iTunesU!)
The problem here is that I am beginning to recognize that for me personally, my phone is a barrier between me and the life I need to be living. It’s a sad lack of discipline on my part. I can readily admit that.
And as such, I am having to make a very strong conscious effort to step away from it. It is easy to say, “Well, just cut down your time on it! Remove yourself from Twitter and Instagram and tell your friends you don’t want to text much!”
But the fact is, sometimes we need to remove temptation entirely for a while. Because I recognize my propensity to time wasting weakness when my phone is around, I need to be a little more drastic for a short time.
But let’s be realistic. I have a job, friends, and family that need to get a hold of me. I can’t simply be unreachable.... However, this next week I am off of work, and have told important people that they can email me if they MUST get a hold of me.
I have turned the phone off. Not just on silent. Not just to “do not disturb”. All the way off, with the intention that it will not come on until the day before my next work day. My mom left the house just now and I reminded her to call the home phone if she needs me. Life will still go on without my smartphone, and I’ve already accomplished much more today than I normally would have on a Saturday. Removing some of the distractions I’m addicted to has been helpful.
Once in church, my dad was speaking about private prayer- it’s importance, the fact that it should not be neglected, it’s necessary prioritization in our daily life, etc. He began to speak about being disciplined, and the distractions we have blaring at us in the form of modern technology. I remember him leaning forward, and looking around more intently than normal, and saying firmly, “If you want to have a meaningful time of undistracted private prayer, then turn off your phone.”
It was one of those “I know he isn’t aiming this at only me personally, but boy do I feel like he just saw into my soul,” moments. He wasn’t saying “go live in a cabin somewhere like a monk and abstain from any modern convenience or technology,” but he did go on to talk about the importance of making sure our technology isn’t becoming a hindrance to our personal holiness, because of how frequently we allow it to distract us from what is truly important. It’s difficult to look back and realize that I have been very guilty of letting technology get in the way of meditating on and being edified by holy things.
Jonathan Edwards has a sermon entitled “The Preciousness of Time”, and for me it was highly convicting. He says at one point, “That you are accountable to God for your time. Time is a talent given us by God; He hath set us our days; and it is not for nothing, our day was appointed for some work; therefore He will, at the day’s end, call us to an account.”
Also, after speaking of how precious every second is, he says, “And if God, that hath given you your time, should now call you to an account, what account could you give to Him?...You have had much time of leisure and freedom from worldly business; consider to what purpose you have spent it. You have not only had ordinary time, but you have had a great deal of holy time. What have you done with all the sabbath days which you have enjoyed? Consider those things seriously, and let your own consciences make answer... Consider how much time you have lost already. For your having lost so much, you have the greater need of diligently improving what yet remains. You ought to mourn and lament over your lost time; but that is not all, you must apply yourselves the more diligently to improve the remaining part, that you may redeem lost time.”
And, finally, this one was particularly convicting for me, when I think of how many times I have (shamefully) put aside my Bible to reach for my phone to check that text that just couldn’t wait thirty more minutes... “Be especially careful to improve those parts of time which are most precious. Though all time is very precious, yet some parts are more precious than others; as, particularly, holy time is more precious than common time. Such time is of great advantage for our everlasting welfare; therefore, above all, improve your Sabbaths, and especially the time of public worship, which is the most precious part. Lose it not either in sleep, or in carelessness, inattention, and wandering imaginations....A time of the strivings of God’s Spirit is more precious than other time. Then God is near; and we are directed, in Isa. 4:6 ‘To seek the Lord while He may be found, and to call upon Him while He is near.’... Improve well your time of leisure from worldly businesses....When we are most free from cares for the body, and business of an outward nature, a happy opportunity for the soul is afforded. Therefore spend not such opportunities unprofitably, nor in such a manner that you will not be able to give a good account thereof to God. Waste them not away wholly in unprofitable visits, or useless diversions or amusements. Diversions should be used only in subserviency to business.”  (Emphasis added)
(Quotes above taken from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 2, published by Banner of Truth, from the sermon, “The Preciousness of Time, and the Importance of Redeeming It.” pgs 233-236)

The gist of what I am saying is this: I have identified some serious problems that tempt me to be undisciplined. It is easier for me to STAY disciplined when I put away these things. After I have to go back to work, and my phone is back on, it is my intention to still have it turned off for several hours a day, lest I return to an overkill of unprofitable usage, and fritter away moments I should have used for my edification.  
My brain and time can’t afford the waste.
Neither can my soul.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I know, I haven’t blogged, it’s been forever, blah blah blah. I’d like to get back into blogging. Discipline has not been my friend lately, but, I am working on it. This one is going to be short.
On to more important matters.
The works of John Owen was for sale last month from Banner of Truth, and really, how could I resist it? Best. Purchase. Ever.
December wasn’t my month, and the first four days of january weren’t so hot either. But that’s okay.
Things are looking up.

I quit my job. How bout that? Why would I do such a thing? Well, the truth is, I have loved a ton of things about the coffee stand, but I just know it’s time to move on.
Also, an offer came along that I couldn’t resist.
Namely, Gwyneth. She needs a nanny. I basically yelled “PICK ME!”
Today is my first day.... So far it’s gone pretty fabulously!

My goal is to accomplish a lot of other things while I am here. To that end, I am beginning to utilize iTunesU. Is it weird that I am retaking algebra through there? Hah. Some skills have completely lapsed since high school.... there are a lot of fun courses I have found so far, from math to theology to photography. Fun times. I don’t want my brain to turn to mush.

So there you have it. A brief overview of life lately. More pictures are on the smugmug, and hopefully more will come!