Anniversary Getaway

Back in July we celebrated 8 years of marriage. We managed to plan in a weekend getaway, which almost didn't happen! At the last-minute, the bed and breakfast we'd booked weeks before ended up having a flooding issue so we had to quickly find a new place to book. Thankfully, we were able to secure lodgings, so the trip was on! I've wanted to share our little trip since then, but client images have taken priority and I've only just now found the time to go through them and post them here.

We went to Lititz, Pennsylvania. I'd been to Lititz many times, but not very often as an adult in recent years. We spent Saturday visiting the little shops and Wilbur Chocolate.

We enjoyed touring the Lititz Historical Foundation and learning more about the town's Moravian past.

I also didn't realize that John Sutter lived his later years in Lititz, after his land was overrun during the California Gold Rush. Sadly, he basically lost all his land during the Gold Rush and came to Lititz, in part, to be closer to Washington, D.C. so he could  petition Congress for the restitution of his land. This didn't happen. However, after his death, the U.S. government decided they should at least do something for him, since he lost his land and all, and ended up placing slabs of marble around his grave. Strange but true.

For dinner we enjoyed Tomato Pie Cafe. It was a charmingly homey place and the Tomato Pie was delicious. We ate outside on their lovely patio, enjoying the summer evening. Another cafe we enjoyed during our visit was Cafe Chocolate.

After our dinner at Tomato Pie Cafe, we walked around Lititz Springs Park, also full of history.

We also decided on a whim to drive to Elizabethtown, PA, to check out the town and farm I lived from around the age of eight to twelve years old. Some of my fondest memories are anchored here. . . .

Memories of exploring the creek banks and fields. The smell of silage, hay, and cows. Feeding calves, helping herd heifers, assisting with the birth of a calf and feeling the solemn responsibility of it. Memories of our huge garden and learning to cut the grass with the riding mower. Reading The Happy Hollisters, The Sugar Creek Gang, and the Mandie series under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be asleep. The various dogs and cats that made our lives so companionable like Sheba, the Irish Setter, and Smokey Grey, the fierce tomcat.

This is also the home where I really knew I loved to write. I spent many afternoons churning out "novels." Nubs of pencils attached to clipboards and sketchbooks becoming constant companions.

The trip was a wonderful respite amidst the busyness of work and life.

 

For Days When You're Down

"I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul." Jeremiah 32:41

"Nowhere in the Scriptures do we read that God rejoices in cloud-capped mountains or sparkling stars, but we do read that He delights in places where His people are found, and that He rejoices in His people themselves. . . .

How strongly God expresses His delight in His people! Who could have even conceived of the eternal One bursting forth into song? Yet His Word tells us: 'He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing' (Zeph. 3:17). As the Lord looked upon the world He had created, He said, 'It was very good' (Gen. 1:31). But when He beheld those who were purchased by the blood of Jesus, His own chosen ones, it seems as though the great heart of the Infinite could no longer restrain itself, for it over flowed in divine exclamations of joy.

Father, how amazing that You rejoice in me! I rejoice in You today!"

From Look Unto Me: The Devotions of Charles Spurgeon, edited by Jim Reimann

Paige | Newborn Session

Remember this pretty mama?

Last week I finally got to meet their new bundle of joy, baby Paige. She slept so good for her session and made my job so easy! Isn't she sweet?

Got to love baby squishy lips!

I loved Paige's beautiful purple nursery.

One of the coolest things her parents did was to create a vinyl family tree on the wall. Isn't it awesome?

Welcome, baby Paige!

Celebrate Autumn {Giveaway}

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Time for chilly weather, jeans, and sweaters. Crisp apples picked straight from the tree. The sound of crunching leaves underfoot and the swirl of a windy day. Cold apple cider. Pumpkin patches and mums brightening the yard. Hot chocolate and staying up late around a fire pit. The smell of baking bread and simmering soup. Hiking and hay rides. Early evenings in curled up with a book and a favorite throw wrapped around my legs.

To celebrate the first day of autumn, which will be this Saturday, I'm hosting a giveaway. I'm giving away one set of 24 notecards/envelopes featuring two of my favorite autumn-inspired images. To enter for a chance to win it:

Leave a blog comment. I want to know what you love about autumn!

One additional entry can be earned for each of these:

Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter. Be sure to tag @daniajones in your tweet and come back and leave another comment, which will add your additional entry. Share about the giveaway on Facebook. In your status update, be sure to tag me. Again, come back and add another comment saying you've shared via Facebook, and this will add your additional entry.

This contest closes on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012, at 12 a.m. My apologies, but this contest is only open to those residing in the United States. The winner will be announced Monday, September 24th.

Yield

It's all God.

I was reminded of this simple and comforting fact while reading Hosea 14 and the commentary in Look Unto Me

My ability to be a healthy and fruitful child of God is not due to my striving and straining. It's instead a "direct result of my union with God" writes Spurgeon. And so it is. "From me [God] comes your fruit" says Hosea 14:8.

It's God who gives the fruitfulness and growth.

But the pruning in my life is a direct result of my union with God too. Just as I trim the dead branches off of my rose bush, God prunes sin and unfruitfulness out of my life.

It's God who selects what needs to be pruned. 

I like the sound of fruitfulness and growth. I don't like the sound of pruning. But pruning is necessary in order to flourish.

And so I yield.

Or at least I should yield. God's sovereignty over my growth and pruning doesn't mean that my actions don't matter. They do. However, the most important action is yielding to God's work in my life. But I often want to fight being pruned, it hurts. However, I'm reminded today that God is the Master Gardener. He knows what He is doing. And if I want to be a healthy flourishing child of God I will realize it is good for me to yield to His gentle hand.

Even if they hold a pruning knife.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1-2 ESV).

Grace Laced Mondays

Two

It's hard to believe two years have slipped by already since this sweet face entered our lives.

I fell instantly in love.

And a whole year since she was a bald 1-year-old celebrating her first birthday!

It is shocking to me that she's no longer a baby, but a toddler.

A very verbal toddler too, who has no end of things to say, songs to sing, and dances to perform. She loves to look at books and love on her baby dolls. She loves Reese, the next-door dog. She tumbles with her brothers and trails along behind them. She loves her daddy and cries when he has to leave. She is a social butterfly whose favorite word these days is "Watch!"

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She turned two a few weeks ago. It was a quiet affair. She once again wore her tu-tu.

We ate pizza and Chocolate Italian Cream Cake decorated with sugared violets.

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Today we sat and played on the floor. I do that more these days when she begs me to. I know now how fast it goes, something I didn't know the first time around with her brothers. Time dragged then. I couldn't wait for the next stage in their development.

And although I still can't wait to see the big people my children grow into, I'm enjoy the day-to-day. The little moments of block building and marble mazes. Of chubby hands reaching up for a hug. The demand of "hold you!" (which means "hold me" in Sophia's world).

Because I know all too soon two will be three.

August Instagrams

Another month has come and gone! Although the humidity of summer lingers, the feel and sound of autumn has arrived and I'm loving the thought of apples, fires, jeans and sweaters, and getting into a school routine. But before all of that, I'm going to linger in last month's memories . . .

Our vacation to Emerald Isle was such a blast and much-needed week of rest in what has been an extremely busy summer. One day it really rained so we went to the local aquarium, which was lots of fun as you can see below.

One of my favorite things to do is escape to the beach in the early morning by myself. Glad I got the chance.

Sand play and our vacation home above. Love my little bucket boy below. :)

One the way home I worked on knitting Sophia a sweater (that will probably be too small when complete, because I've been working on it since she was a few months old (ahem). And an afternoon of treats and photography processing.

Random pictures of daily life above. Sophia continues to love her babies.

And yummy treats below!

Getting into the fall spirit!

Above left was an image while preparing for my photo session with Shaune. Right, the boys checking out the trail road track display on the trail. Below, reading time after a visit to the library.

Below left, free furniture given to us and discovered along the road. Over the weekend we worked on repainting it. I'll be sharing that soon. In the mean time, here's a little preview of one of the pieces that got an overhaul: my desk off of the kitchen. This old post (with very small pictures, sorry) shows you what it used to look like. But it was a scarred and black mess. Now it's a lovely shade of Robin's egg blue and a much more pretty place to work.