Mud Face | This Moment

Joining Soule Mama for a {This Moment} post: A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

But I am going to add a few words today because I can't help myself.

This picture I took of Sophia this past week sure did remind me of a picture of Duncan when he was about the same age . . .

Some things never change. Kids love mud!

Thankfully, one thing that did change was I learned to take better pictures!

Multitude Monday | Great Giver

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Always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. -Ephesians 5:20

Nancy Guthrie writes in The One Year Book of Hope:

"God gives, and God takes away. But let's be honest. We just want to give, don't we? . . . Genuine gratitude is a response not to the worth of the gift, but to the excellence of the Giver. If gratitude fluctuates with our estimation of the gifts, then it's not really gratitude. In reality, that kind of gratitude is disguised idolatry.

I know you can barely stand to think about being grateful in the midst of your loss. You may think I'm crazy to suggest that you could be grateful to God for who he is and all he has done for you as you face the empty chair, the empty bank account, the aching emptiness of what was once your life. But if you refuse to nurture gratitude, you will become bitter. So would you turn your eyes from your loss and disappointment to the great Giver, asking him to reveal more of himself to you so that you might grow in gratitude? Would you ask him for peace and joy that only those who nurture gratitude are given?"

It's just another week here at my house. No huge losses. Nothing as weighty as the above quote might suggest has happened to test my gratefulness. But such circumstances have happened in the past, and will no doubt surface in the future. So today it's time to train myself in the simpleness of a thankful heart for the everyday blessings:

601. My dearest friend, Robin, coming over for an evening of pizza and chatting last weekend. 602. For friends who pass on clothes to us when their kids are done with them, so that we don't have to spend lots of money on kids' clothing. 603. The screen door on, ready for summer breezes. 604. Cuddles with Sophia. 605. A long Sunday afternoon nap and a Sunday afternoon drive.

606. Windows cleaned for spring. 607. Sophia "singing." 608. God's grace on our marriage and that we truly don't have many conflicts. 609. Boys' help at the grocery store, pushing their own little carts around. 610. Six pints of homemade stock to freeze made from pastured chickens purchased from friends.

611. Selling a camera bag I don't use within 2 days of posting it was for sale. 612. Weeding flower gardens. 613. Reading to the kids outside on a quilt on a spring afternoon. 614. First ice cream trip of the year to Broom's Bloom Dairy. 615. Sophia talking more, saying words like: draw, car, paci, stinky, brothers.

616. Freshly mopped floors. 617. Lilacs on the kitchen table. 618. Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies 619. A quiet morning with rain falling, the sound of wind chimes. 620. A rainy lazy Sunday. Time to knit and watch Forks Over Knives and an episode of Doc Martin.

621. Praying through Psalm 19 and 51. Thankful that God purges my sin, creates a clean heart, and restores me to joy.

Spray Painted Urns | DIY

Last year I came across a great idea over at Nesting Place: adding color to your garden by spray painting urns. I had some urns that I thought would perfect candidates for spray painting; urns that looked very plastic-y. The only problem was I had a hard time finding paint. Last year I looked for plastic spray paint, but didn't really find many options or colors I liked. So the project was put on hold.

This year, a trip to Home Depot proved to be much different. There was a huge array of fabulous colors of spray paint that would adhere to not just wood and metal, but plastic too.

I chose to go with purple as my color of choice. The plants that will be blooming in the flower beds I put the urns into are pink Echinacea and yellow day lilies. I think I like the look, although I'm not totally sure. The pansies and dusty millers in the urns still have to "fill out." I might like ferns in there better, I don't know. I'm thinking the urns might look a bit too glossy (semi-gloss was the only option) but maybe some weathering will happen naturally? The good thing is, I can always repaint them a different color or even with textured spray paint. I think I'll give it the whole summer to decide. What do you all, my faithful readers, think?

And please ignore the weeds in the flower beds. Haven't gotten that far in the gardening process yet!

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March 3 of 12

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One Saturday the week before Easter we visited my grandmother who had been in the hospital. I hadn't seen her since August because she'd been in California when she'd been admitted to the hospital and only recently had come back home.

After our visit we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to find the house I'd grown up in until the age of 6 years old. This is the place where my earliest memories are set and the house we called "Woodrows."  I'd not been back since that time and was eager to see it and show it to the kids.

It turned out to be the perfect place to take our March family picture. We set the camera on the hood of the car and propped it up with the lens cap. I also processed this picture differently than usual, deciding a gentle vintage wash complemented it.

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The old driveway was overgrown. There are many pictures of me playing in mud puddles in this driveway!

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I remember this birch tree very well. I liked to peel the bark from it.

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The house now sits behind a development. When I was growing up it was just fields. The Susquehanna river can be seen glinting through trees. Some of the beautiful plants and flower remain, running riot: ferns, daffodils, dogwoods, bleeding hearts, and others I couldn't identify.

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The pump house was my play house and I had a little kitchen set inside of it. There are also lots of pictures of me playing in it, so it was appropriate to get a picture of me peeking out of one of the windows.

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I told the boys stories of my time there, and they enjoyed them, asking for more. As we left Owen said, "Good-bye, sad house." And Duncan assured me that "worker men" would come and fix it up for me.

Sadly, I don't think so.

Doll Love

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Little girl sure is loving her doll these days. Dolls, books, and drawing being her greatest loves right now. Everyday she brings much sunshine and joy into our lives. She wrestles with her brothers and also hugs them all the time. "We have the sweetest sister!" the boys often comment. The sibling love is adorable. That's not to say their aren't screams when she wrecks their trains. But they really do all have a blast together.

Real or Not Real?

In book 3 of The Hunger Games, The Mockingjay, one of the characters goes through a form of torture called mental hijacking. The enemy uses his memories and twists them, tapping into his innermost fears. Once this character is physically rescued, he still has to deal with the aftermath of mental confusion and fear. He no longer knows what memories are real or distorted. The way he copes in order to find his way to reality is to make a statement to those he trusts around him and then to ask the question: real or not real? The response he receives helps him unlock truth from lies. I finished The Hunger Games trilogy the other night and am feeling a little wrecked. Overall, the ending has a feeling of hopelessness and despair, of being caught in a fear of the future. The only thing we're given to hang onto is the good we see in other people and to recount that good to ourselves in an effort to keep going on. But is that really enough?

I can't help but contemplate the affect of reading The Hunger Games versus other books that tell true and similar stories of those who've been tortured, drugged, beaten, and pawns in the hands of unjust governments. Of Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. Of Daughters of Hope: Stories of Witness  & Courage in the Face of Persecution by  Kay Marshall Storm. Of the magazine The Voice of the Martyrs. I remember being astonished by the feeling of hope and even joy recounted by women who'd suffered unspeakable woes in Daughters of Hope. How could this be? How how how can someone go through such miseries and still keep living? Let alone feel joy and hope in the world?

Today is Good Friday. When we remember the ultimate torture of Christ. Physical, mental, spiritual, it was all laid on Him. He took all the atrocities we've ever committed against Him and our fellow man and bore them all the way to Hell and back. Why? 1 John 4:14-18 gives us a clue:

The Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Jesus became the Savior so that we wouldn't have to be captured by fear. So that we wouldn't have to fear anything that anyone could do to us because the ultimate fear has been taken away: fear of God's righteous wrath because of our sins. Instead we can abide (what a beautiful word) in Him. And when we truly abide in Him the result is love.

When Christians suffer, we have the choice to suffer distinctly. Whether the trial is a personal crisis, physical illness, or at the hands of an evil regime, there's still the possibility to cast out fear through the love of God and have hope and joy. I'm not in any way marginalizing the suffering. I'm just saying there's the possibility of living, really living, in the fullness of Christ.

And so today, of all days, I remind myself of reality. I remind myself of the truth:

My name is Danielle. I'm a child of God. Jesus died so I could abide in Him. And when I abide, fear is overcome. I can have love and joy and peace in any adversity. Thank you Jesus for bearing all my sins in your body and redeeming me to be your own. Help me live in the light of this truth everyday.

Real or not real?

Real.

Woodberry Kitchen

A few weeks ago Josh and I visited Woodberry Kitchen and had some of the best food we've ever had in Baltimore. Until now, my best meals have at Range in San Francisco and Union Square Cafe in New York City. Granted, there's still a lot of restaurants I've not visited in Baltimore. However, since Woodberry was just ranked #3 in Baltimore Magazine's annual restaurant roundup, I'm guessing that my experience visiting the restaurant is consistent with other people's visits too.

Woodberry Kitchen has been opened for four years now and I've been hearing about it from various friends and Josh's co-workers. So we were very excited to visit. We ended up not being able to get a reservation. I called on Wednesday and we were planning to go there on Saturday and they were already booked! But we got there right after they opened and managed to be seated right away.

Woodberry's philosophy of food is one I love. They create dishes based on seasonal foods grown locally. On the menu there was a list of their vendors: various farms I recognized by name from the surrounding area. It was also evident by the night's specials: lots of asparagus! Asparagus is in season and you could have your pick of five or six dishes of your choice. I loved seeing the canning jars full of food stashed around the restaurant too. I don't know if the staff cans for the restaurant or if they outsource it but they didn't hide the fact but instead used it as decoration, almost, tucked around the restaurant.

When I think "fine dining" stiff white table cloths and rigid servers come to mind. That's not the way of Woodberry. Woodberry is located in the Clipper Mill area and reclaims a lot of the original architecture of the old factory it inhabits to create a perfectly rustic atmosphere. I told Josh it felt Mumford & Sons-ish. If that doesn't make sense to you, I'm sorry. It feels very trendy in an artsy way while at once feeling very homey. The female servers wear vintage looking aprons of varying patterns. The male servers all wore checkered button down shirts. The canned produced lined shelves. The bathrooms didn't have paper towels but instead had piles of cloths in a basket from which you could pull from the wash your hands then throw in a laundry basket. Yeah, I really liked this place.

Our server was awesome. She went above and beyond in answering every question we asked and helped us select the best drinks to go with our food. We started with a basket of three different types of breads they'd made at the restaurant. Then we moved onto homemade pigs-in-a-blanket with grainy mustard as a dipping sauce. Josh ordered a salad, which he raved about which included, of course, asparagus. For our main meal we both ordered the same thing. Josh and I have similar tastes and in the past I've ordered something different from him so we could try two different dishes. But the truth was I wanted what he was getting, so why go for anything less? We ordered Rock fish that was placed on a bed of perfectly roasted potatoes, green beans, and a roasted tomato mayonnaise. Absolutely perfect. For cocktails we tried the Whiskey Smash and some sort of lemon honey concoction that went fabulously with the fish. For dessert we had coffee and Josh went with their apple pie while I tried the C.M.P. (Malt ice cream, chocolate sauce, wet peanuts, and a hardened crust of marshmallow fluff you had to crack to get to it all).

If you want excellent food (and you care about where it comes from) in an unique atmosphere with fabulous service, Woodberry Kitchen is the place for you.

Celebrate 22 Years

Last Sunday my church had a special event to honor our senior pastor's 22 years of ministry. He will continue being on staff at our church, but is no longer the senior pastor. So a surprise Sunday was planned to celebrate our pastor, Jim, and his wife Daryl's service and sacrifice over the past many years to our church.

I photographed the event, along with another photographer, Jennilyn. The challenge for me in shooting this event was the lack of good lighting. However, despite this challenge, I was happy with the end result.

Below is a collage of photographs depicting various scenes from the past 22 years of church life. Above are cards made by the children of the church displayed on hallway walls.

(Left) The founding pastor of our church, back for the special occasion. (Right) My fellow photographer, Jennilyn. (Above and below) A most surprising moment during the morning service was a flash mob singing "God is Good."

Parodies were sung . . . Stories shared. A special song was written for the occasion and sung by Steve and Vikki Cook. (Below) A special photo book was created with letters and pictures from all the members of the church. The service was officially closed with congregational singing led by my favorite (and the most handsome) music leader ever--my husband. :) Jim and Daryl are originally natives of New Orleans, so it was appropriate that the food was New Orleans-inspired. Yum.

What a way to celebrate 22 years!