There’s a LOT of heavy, hard things swirling the inter-webs these days. Images, news feeds, fiery op-eds, texting wars on social media. In the spirit of pushing against the tsunami of online yuck, here’s my rescue pup being her sweet, awkward and never socially distanced self. Take that, 2021!
Category Archives: Photography
2020 put him through the wringer, rewriting nearly every norm in his life.
A year of highs and lows and messy in-betweens. But by heaven’s grace, we made it through, along with his sister, to this familiar rhythm of putting up our tree. Keenly aware he probably won’t need my shoulders next year, I breathe deep tonight’s seasonal scene.
Gratitude falls afresh for the momentary peace of lights upon on a dove-topped tree.
It’s been a gift, these past 3 months, wrapped in various packaging.
Near & far.
Brief & lengthy.
Joy & sorrow.
Filled up & poured out.
Lessons taught & wisdom received.
Laughter & lament.
Camps, car rides, & cookouts.
Memories. Oh the memories, new & re-remembered.
Summer break brought a welcome respite from our family’s frenetic school year schedule. While lunches still needed packing, this working mama reveled in the reprieve from early carlines & driving east simply to commute further west. Most glorious of all – NO homework! Praise be.
Of my many summers in motherhood thus far, this one stands out unique. A summer of healing, maturing, of digging deep & mending hearts, thoughts, lives.
I witnessed confidence return to a worn child.
I saw faces alight with fresh fun & freckles from days soaking up sea & sun.
I rocked sleeping giants & whispered Truths constant & prayed over dreamers whose hearts I now carried surely as once had my womb.
I learned to listen a bit quicker, to respond a bit slower, to relinquish control a bit less begrudgingly.
I offered broken hallelujahs with bittersweet celebrations, holding more tightly to things lovely while more willingly laying down arms.
I cried honest admissions & harrowing realizations & humbled celebrations of grace freely given.
I watched a daughter rise after a hard, hard season to shine her inherent light again.
I watched a son wrestle life lessons with resilient kindness & curious wonder.
I watched the woman in my mirror start smiling in reflection once more, beginning to dream, to dare for days brighter ahead.
I witnessed grace falling like monsoon rains, undeserved, unrelenting, free.
Three months come & gone. As tonight falls soft, this house quiet with sleeping babes & a mother reminiscing, a wise king’s words resound amidst the silence:
“To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
Summer draws to its close as a new elementary academic year begins. When a new season dawns with tomorrow’s rising sun, may it find me grateful. It’s certainly been a summer to remember.
As God looked upon the world He’d made, upon the family unit He established, He saw a heart cry for a specific life companion.
So God made a sister.
He saw children’s desire to explore and dreams of adventures far and near. He knew princesses would twirl, delighting in each other’s beauty as they wore dresses five times their size. He knew outfits held more fun when worn in tandem with a close friend. He created them to nurture and be nurtured, to inspire and to be adored. Before they could even walk, kindness lavished was needed.
So God made a sister.
He created daughters filled with joy, brimming over and longing to be shared with others. Laughter needing sharing, victories (even the smallest ones) needing celebrating, and griefs needing carrying by strong, sympathetic hearts. Secrets bubbled for entrusting as songs echoed in hearts craving harmony. Joys to share and burdens to bear.
So God made a sister.
He knew this fallen world could be cruel, whispering lies stripping value and beauty from rightful beholders. He knew a woman’s worst critic would often be herself and how desperately she’d need her vision readjusted by another seeing more clearly. As valleys low loomed and high mountains called for climbing, He desired entrusted history and friendship to never leave her side.
From sidewalks to school halls, down aisles and through delivery wards, He desired she not be alone. From Nana’s shoe closet to dress-up trunks, from prom dresses to wedding gowns, He desired her beauty be shared and celebrated. From little league to Varsity, from summer camps near to excursions abroad, He longed that His daughters experience adventures, make memories, transform from girls to women together.
So God made a sister.
In 1986, the world changed as a beautiful curly-headed ginger entered the scene. Her bright green eyes and dimpled smile sparked inspiration as her contagious joy filled every darkened space. Strangers became new-found friends and the insecure found encouragement. She shone light as though she’d soaked up the sun. Dance partner, adventure companion, sleepover snuggle bug, and persistent friend.
Through life’s darkest valleys, she would inspire strength and resilience among her family, often giving them cause to keep going when it seemed easier to give in to cynicism. Infectious joy, she would grow to hold wisdom beyond her years and compassion beyond reason. Love for the broken, kindness for the downtrodden, and enduring hope through it all.
God knew a family would need reminding over and again of His goodness, His faithfulness, His love through dark seasons to come. As darkness sought to tear apart, He desired they be knit close together. Someone to pray, someone to encourage, someone to inspire and trust. Confidant and best friend.
And when He looked upon this beauty, He smiled knowing His creation was indeed very good.
For God made my sister.
Take me back down traveled track
where sands stretch out to sea
where wheat grass grows in golden rows
on rolling dunes set free
Take me down to yonder town
who lights shine sparse each night
while ocean’s song plays on til dawn
‘neath heavens canvas bright
Take me where I breathed sea air
as eastern winds blew strong
their salted breeze, my soul, did ease
its breath a soothing balm
Take me east that farthest reach
of Carolina’s Isles
whose beaches sparse refresh my heart
whose sunsets stretch for miles
Take me back down traveled track
where sands stretch out to sea
where in the grains my heart remains
Salvo, I long for thee
Eliana – Hebrew origin, translation “my God has answered my prayers”
Five years ago today our world changed forever as Eliana Faith was born! Bright-eyed from the start, she has filled our world with light, joy, laughter and adventure! As our eyes met for the first time, I knew my life would never be the same.
Eliana fills our home with love overflowing. She is kind, generous, nurturing, imaginative, compassionate, hilarious, energetic, brilliant, and all-around amazing! She loves people, gives generously, feels deeply and shines brightly.
A cool breeze greets my sleepy eyes this morning. Crisp. Serene.
‘Tis a morning for bundling blankets and hot tea, for thick socks and quiet reflection.
My heart swells with anticipation at things to come:
Football (go Gators).
Harvest and Holidays.
My favorite time of year.
This morning brings signs of coming change and I fill with excitement.
Autumn is on its way!!
- I’m 27 weeks pregnant today. Little Man Leino has become quite a busy-body. He is definitely strong, kicking and moving his arms with far more force than my other two kiddos at this stage. At times it feels like he’s doing somersaults or boxing. I can’t wait to meet this feisty little guy in June!
- The warmer weather has allowed Eliana to spend much more time outside and she has loved it! She wants to be outdoors every chance she gets. Often her first word in the morning is “outside?” Such a happy little girl. Whether she’s flying kites with Daddy, helping Maima in her garden or coloring on the porch in a hula skirt, Eliana has a blast anytime she’s in the sun.
- Leino Studios had a fabulous first week in its new location. We are so thankful for the new space God provided for Jordan’s business. Though we are still putting some final decorating touches on the space, Jordan has already enjoyed the benefits of having much more space for all his musical and business needs. A step forward in every way, we’re excited to see all that is in store for the Studio in this next season.
- Our little girl loves to sing! Any time music is playing, she’s singing and dancing along. Maima has been teaching Eliana the words and motions for “Itsy, Bitsy Spider”. It amazes me to watch her pick up phrases and hand motions so quickly. I found her trying to get one of her baby dolls to do the motions this past week. Precious!
- Journey just finished a series on Love. Boy, has it impacted me! Over four weeks, our church took an in-depth look into what Scripture says about Love: God’s love, our love for Him, our love for others and our love for ourselves. I’ve found myself reading through my notes over and again, wanting to listen to the sermons more than once as they have really challenged me to grow and convicted me in areas I certainly need it. I highly encourage everyone to take the time to listen to the messages. Since Jesus said that the world will know His disciples by our love, its an area we all could grow in.
- Well the sunshine and an energetic little lady are calling me outside. Be sure to check back here on Monday as I’ll be sharing the most amazing carrot cupcake recipe I have ever tasted! Seriously….BEST EVER! Happy weekend, everyone!
Eliana has really improved in learning how to feed herself at mealtimes. Mostly neat and no longer throwing things on the floor, our little girl is growing up so fast. Then we had pot roast with mashed potatoes…
No, that’s not water nor styling gel in her hair. This lovely do comes from a whopping handful of mashed potatoes! In a blink, Eliana’s hand scooped up a fist full of spuds and wiped it all in her hair. Needless to say, she went straight from the dinner table to the bathtub. She is one adorable, messy lady!
Our family traveled to Brandon, FL, this past weekend to visit Jordan’s family. Between the good company and beautiful weather, it was a great trip. We spent Saturday at Vero Beach visiting his grandmother, Virginia, along with his sister, Kim, who drove in from Gainesville to see us. Good food, great conversations, and an intense game of Bananagrams. We had a wonderful time together. I’m so grateful that Eliana has the chance to know two great-grandparents – both who are still vibrant and living life to its fullest.
The weather in Vero Beach was stunning. 60’s and sunny. Quite a relief from the frigid winter we’ve had in Raleigh. Despite the chilly winds, we took Eliana to the boardwalk to run to heart’s content and see the ocean. She had a blast!
Eliana continues to show more interest in caring for her baby dolls, taking them everywhere she goes. Her care always begins with the best intentions…
Yesterday’s sunny and somewhat warm weather allowed us to have a nice walk around the neighborhood. Of course, Eliana brought her baby doll along. She was power walking with that doll!
Work it, girl!
Christmas Night brought a beautiful gift to the Raleigh area…well, most of the east coast for that matter. SNOW! We woke to a winter wonderland the next morning as fluffy white covered everything in sight. By day’s end, over 8 inches had fallen in the Triangle. Eliana had a blast playing in the snow! She was fascinated by the little white specks that kept falling on her nose from the sky. She couldn’t help but laugh. What a joy to watch our sweet girl fully experience this winter blessing for the first time.
Eliana seems to be getting the “big sister bug”. Over the past few weeks, she has really taken to carrying baby dolls around, rocking them while singing “baby, baby”. It completely melts my heart when she pushes her doll in a small stroller or feed her a bottle. So precious! While she doesn’t fully understand the concept of becoming a big sister or new baby coming, I have a feeling she’ll do just fine.
Today we saw our littlest bundle of joy again. As soon as his/her little body came on the screen, this pregnancy sank in to a whole new level. There’s a real little person in there! Our first sonogram a few weeks ago showed just a flickering dot. Its absolutely amazing how quickly babies develop. A mere three weeks later and our darling looked human! We saw legs, arms, spine & a sweet little noggin. Our official due date is June 4, 2011. So there you have it. Its officially official. We’re having a baby!