Sofia, First of Her Name

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Sofia Rebekah. First of her name in our family, anyway. Alternately called: Fifi, Squee-Wee, Chunky Monkey, Princess Pootkins…

That last nickname came about because the minute she was born we could all see the striking resemblance. So striking, that we assumed she was a boy for the first 15 seconds of her life. Nope, turns out she was all girl. But the physical resemblances remained: the quizzical eyebrows, the sparkling eyes that become crinkly when she smiles, the thick, dark hair, the little gap in-between her two front teeth. We’re also pretty sure that she’s going to grow up to be a warrior princess because she has HUGE feet and BIG proportions.

She’s always happy (except when she’s really, really ready for bedtime), she loves food (just look at her!), is a smart little booger, and she does deep baby-squats like nobody’s business.

I love having two little girls close in age, and I love all the things that make Sofia uniquely different from Kristina, and vice versa.

So, Happy Birthday, Sofia… We can’t wait to watch you dive into that birthday cake tonight. Here are some pictures from yesterday, and some pictures of her big sister, just for good measure.

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Wake Me Up

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When the babies sleep, I am awake.

I have a toddler.

I also have a wannabe toddler. That’s a lovely age for babies to be. They’re too little to walk. Big enough to crawl. Big enough to stand. Uncoordinated enough to keep falling over. Big enough to eat solid food. Still babyish enough to want milk. But she stopped nursing weeks ago. Teething. Yet never seeming to get her teeth.

All of the above makes for exhausting days, and sometimes long nights when Fifi just.won’t.go.back.to.sleep. Shoot me, just shoot me now… I don’t want to get up for the 8th time at 3 in the morning.

Most mothers like to sleep when their babies sleep. But, some moms, like me, like to get in a little alone time. Time to read an article or two uninterrupted. Time to watch videos on YouTube. Time to Facebook.

So, after half hours stacked up upon half hours of trying to fall asleep, halfway succeeding, only to be woken back up by unhappy cries of grumpiness from Miss Poot Pants, now that she is finally asleep, my brain was wired to NOT fall asleep.

Coffee made, computer open, headphones in, children sleeping, cat kicked out. It’s time to relax for a while. Thank you, Lord.

And, I thought I would share some of the awesome, informative, thoughtful articles I’ve been reading this morning; here ya go:

Why I Won’t Give Sugar Up For Lent

Some people give up sweets for Lent. Others give up coffee, pop, or caffeine in its entirety. Huffington Post suggested fried food, cigars, or devices.

I can’t help this nagging feeling that something about this is all a little off. If I give up something I enjoy in order to remind myself of Jesus, and then I start wanting that thing but can’t have it because I’m remembering Jesus, I’m going to get cranky. And if I’m cranky, I’ll start associating semi-bitter or negative feelings with Easter.

That seems a little, well, backwards.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m not strong enough to work past the unhappy feelings I think I’d have if I gave up something I really enjoyed. Weak character? Faulty theology? Blatant misunderstanding? All very possible.

But if Lent truly is a season “to rid ourselves of all that prevents us from living a truly Christian life”, I have to wonder how far giving up little luxuries like sugar and meat and cigars is going to go.

This year, I want to try something different. This year, I’m giving up anger for Lent.

 Wife After Baby: A Husband’s Guide: Sleep deprivation will play a small part in your Wife’s temporary insanity.  In the first few months, you may witness a number of breakdowns, meltdowns and shutdowns and realistically, the Wife you knew may be gone, along with her personality and sense of humour for around twelve months.  Sometimes less.  Sometimes more.  She may (almost definitely will) also be suffering fromDMF.

Infrared Photography In Yellowstone National Park

A Breakup Letter to Matt Walsh:

Dear Matt Walsh,

It’s not you. It’s me.

Or was it the other way around? Yeah, that. It’s totally you.

Sorry. I was confused.

Do you remember when we first met? It was back in August, just after the VMAs. You had just writtenthis piece, angrily dismissing Miley Cyrus and the vacuous pop culture she represents. I found your acerbic wit and brutal honesty refreshing. I was impressed by how efficiently you disposed of worthless culture.

But then I came to realize that you do that to everyone.

Enjoy reading!

Anna

Journeying

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever,

With my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever;

Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.”

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When we are called to redemption from the death that comes with our sin nature, and God gives us the Holy Spirit who daily sanctifies and refines us, teaching us the truth of God’s Word, there shouldn’t be anything that comes as a surprise to us in this life. And, the longer we spend steeping our hearts, minds, and souls in the verity of God’s promises, the more we should see that generation after generation after generation has lived, died, and been committed to eternity in accordance to the foundations and truths of the world that have been set in place from the moment light was cleft from darkness.

God’s words have many purposes for those who are called by His name. They comfort us. They sustain us. They refine our thoughts. They impart wisdom for daily life. They prick our consciences. They point us upwards and onwards to a higher, holier life. They hold out the promise of perfect justice, righteousness, and judgment in this life and the life to come. They are perfect, converting the soul. They are sure, making wise the simple. They are right, rejoicing in the heart. They are pure, enlightening the eyes. They tell us that someday there will be a new heavens and a new earth where sickness, sorrow, sin and death and will exist no more.

Wicked people, sinners loving their sin, don’t believe any of this. They say, “Where is your God? If He exists, He has forgotten you.”  They love violence. They love lies and lying. They love persecution and slander. They love cursing, deceit, oppression, and boasting in their evil deeds. Each new generation produces sinners sure of their sinning and sure that their “wisdom” and “revelation” trumps God’s wisdom and revelation.

It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than this. We are not to hide or condone sin, but we are also called to use wisdom and discernment in all matters, and to not enthusiastically point fingers or blame everyone but ourselves for sin problems. In our eagerness to exalt our own fallen, twisted wisdom, we end up tripping over our words as we try to prove that we are “smarter” and more “enlightened” than each previous generation — Christians are no exception to this, and I have watched in silence as many Christians and Christian organizations make themselves look foolish in a desperate attempt to prove themselves to the world, and prove themselves to fellow “enlightened” Christians. I could name many of these organizations, (I grew up in the homeschool/evangelical/reformed world,) but I won’t.

For me and my family (and by that I mean my husband and my children), we adhere to very few organizations or public figures. Scratch that, in our daily lives we follow NO public figure, organization, or movement political or religious. In my many years of closely observing the overall homeschooling/evangelical movement, it is hard to find  anyone who does not elevate pride and extra-biblical philosophies over the truth of God’s Word. Do understand that I am NOT saying that some of the Godly organizations and public figures out there in the world aren’t benefitting the cause of upholding righteousness, and that we should never support them, or that within organizations there are not faithful people serving with all humbleness and wisdom. I am just cautioning strongly against sticking our lives and our children’s lives to any one man, woman, pastor, blogger, political savior, or organization. I have seen family, after family, after family get burned through their foolishness in saying “we follow this organization” or “we follow so and so,” instead of ultimately following God; and I have watched precious souls fall through the cracks that have been widened by elevating our own fallen understanding over God’s truth and promises.

Our family does strongly believe in the call to accountability via membership with a strong, local church wherever we are living — God’s faithfulness is preached in the assembly of the saints, and  God’s truth for us in this life is carried out in small, and oftentimes “menial” ways, through the faithfulness of living everyday life, staying faithful where we are, and staying focused on what He has given us. I do have dreams, I do ambitions, and I have desires and plans for the future, but none of those plans include throwing away the people and things God has entrusted to me. I want to continue pursuing growth and sanctification in myself and offering encouragement to those around me who are seeking to do the same.

I do have strong opinions about many things in this fleeting life, but I will try to never cling to them so tight that when I am being called to sanctification and refinement in my heart and mind by the Holy Spirit, I pursue the love of my own understanding to the point of willful sin and ultimately, destruction. I pray that God continues to build my trust and faith in His steadfast promises for my life, and does the same for my husband and my children. This may involve humbling, and sometimes a not-very-clear-picure of how God is using circumstances in my life to bring glory to Him, but I have to stay anchored in His promises to me. He loves me and will abide with me to the end of my days.

Coram Deo!

Anna

Let’s Talk Makeup

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Ok, yes, if you are a boy, you now know that you can safely pass on reading this post. It won’t be of interest to you.

My family’s rule for their three daughters, was that we couldn’t wear makeup until we were 16 — I have to confess, I broke that rule a few times by sneak wearing eyeshadow or mascara, mostly on Sunday mornings since I was embarrassed by already being the country bumpkin at church, and all the other girls there were so much prettier wearing their makeup and perfectly styled hair; sorry for doing that, Mom and Dad!

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(Proof of my gawky homeschool days. My apologies to Bekah and Sarah for sharing this photo)

Finally, 16 rolled slowly around, and I was able to go makeup shopping with Mom. We picked out some neutral brown eyeshadows (nothing too dark,) some original Maybelline Great Lash mascara, some light pink blush, a CoverGirl concealer stick, and some lip gloss. I was stoked. Makeup, all of my own! No more sneaking little swipes of eyeshadow onto my eyelids. No more covering up zits on the sly. Now, wearing mascara and blush and all the rest of my little makeup collection suddenly made me feel pretty and attractive. Because a few swipes of mascara and some concealer under the eyes makes every girl transform into a vision of loveliness, right? That was what I thought, anyway, now that I had the freedom to wear makeup.

I was never really attracted to wearing heavy makeup, like some girls that went the hooker/ex-homeschool girls route that I knew; I always stayed within the safe confines of browns, light pinks, and brown mascara and eyeliner, and faithfully put on my makeup the same old way every time. Cat eyes? Who did those? Colored eyeshadow? So 80s! Tightlining, what was that? Highlighting and contouring? Smokey eyes? When I tried, it looked like I had taken a face plunge into my makeup palette. I also was under the impression that secretly, all guys liked it when you wore makeup a lot heavier, and so I always considered that the height of makeup attraction, not knowing that most guys taste for makeup is less is more. But how to perfect “less?”

And, I continued down the path of same makeup boringness until early last year when I ran across a couple of blogs that opened up mind-boggling revelations to me about makeup. The first one was Maskara — I watched several of her videos, especially about applying concealer/foundation/highlighting and contouring, and started experimenting with techniques myself. I never knew that I could apply my foundation with anything other than my fingers. A foundation brush? Never seen one in action before — the only brush I owned was a big, fluffy blush brush.

The second website I found was The Beauty Department, run by Amy Nadine, celebrity makeup artist. Her step-by-step tutorials have taught me great, new tricks, and I always look forward to new ones from her.

And the third website I ran across was written by this cute, English girl who made her “looks” appear easy to do, and they are… She explains do and don’ts for makeup in a fun way. Her website is The Makeup Chair.

And I started branching out. Learned how to walk the line between no makeup and hooker makeup. I bought a brush set with 10 different brushes and learned how to use them all. I learned how to use face primer and eyelid primer for flawless application of foundation and eyeshadows. I learned how to properly apply foundation (love my beauty blender!) I learned how to contour with bronzer and highlight with an illuminating powder. I learned where to PUT the blush for my face shape. I learned how to softly fill in my brows. I learned how to apply eyeliner as close to the lash line as possible to avoid the raccoon eyes look. I learned to put on eyeshadow artfully so as to define my eyes in the best way possible. I learned how to curl my eyelashes and put on mascara properly. I learned how to choose makeup products and brands that were slightly more expensive,  but oh, so worth it in the long run for the ease of application, and quality that they gave me.

Yeah, makeup can be a touchy subject for some, and for others an overwhelming nuisance, but I choose to see it as a fun, rewarding art that, when done well, compliments and enhances the natural beauty found in all faces, and doesn’t detract or degrade said beauty. There are a lot of different beauty standards among various families, but I think a great place to start with makeup (that doesn’t get one into too hostile territory), is to learn how to properly apply foundation/concealer/blush/bronzer/highlighter, and also learn to shape and fill in your brows. A cleaned up, and flawless (NOT cakey) face goes a long way in enhancing already natural beauty. From there, one can move on to learning how to carefully apply eyeshadow (good brushes help a lot), and carefully apply eyeliner that enhances the lash line, rather than detracts from it. A good coat of mascara, and some sheer lipgloss, and a day-to-day natural look is complete. And it’s a big difference from wearing *no* makeup.

I could go on and on about different techniques for makeup, but I’ll save some of that for future posts. Embrace your ability to wear makeup as a girl or woman — it always makes my day feel a little better if I take the time to wear a little makeup, especially as a wife and mother.

Coram Deo!

Anna

My Photographic Passion

I have been a photographer for several years now, and always spent my spare time trying to capture moments with my camera. But I’ve gone through a dry spell with my photography for the last couple years after having to sell off some of my camera equipment to make some cash, and I’ve really, really missed having the ability to fulfill my desire to be creative and artistic with a camera in hand.

But now I am going to be getting a new camera and lenses, and I am excited about making up for all the photographic moments I missed. I have a rather bad memory, so photographs help me to connect and remember events with better clarity. I am looking forward to posting many new photos of my sweet ones when I get my camera in the next few weeks.

I was running through some of my old photos this evening, and found a couple dozen of my favorite people photos to share — I love nature photography, but the ability to accurately present human emotion in a photograph is appealing and intriguing to me. Human bodies, with their varied expressions and movements, will never cease to be a wonder to me to capture on camera. One of my long term dreams is to become a  photojournalist, and travel to a wide range of countries with Kyle. He can find all his historical/military memorabilia in dusty attics and barns, and I’ll be right there photographing and writing about local events and people. 🙂 We’re going to make that happen, hopefully soon.

Anyway, enjoy some of these portraits and captured moments of joy, silliness, beauty, and love: