Friday, February 28, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Choose -

From Lisa-Jo Baker, the Gypsy Mama"On Fridays around these parts we like to write. Not for comments or traffic or anyone else's agenda. But for fun, for practice, for joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker. We love to just write without worrying if it's just right or not. For five minutes flat."

Today's prompt: Choose:

~ Go ~

Photo taken Feb. 27, New Smyrna Beach, FL

Choosing. 

I had to think about it all day for my brain to actually sort out what it even means for me. Such a silly thing, trying to define a word in your brain when it already tells you the meaning. But it's not until I am in the car, exhausted after a long day, watching the cold breeze blow the sunlight through the Spanish moss that I realize what the whole day and this whole week have been teaching me about choosing. 

It's been a hard, wonderful, crazy, emotional, prayerful week. And I wouldn't have missed any of it for the world. 

But it's not always your choosing that hits you hardest. It's those things God gave that you didn't choose. 

It's the heartache you feel when a day goes horribly wrong for a friend and your prayers weren't answered as you would have chosen.
 It's the tears that threaten to spill over at the incredible confusion of pain.

It's the sin you would never have chosen, because it's your own that is hardest to fight. 

It's the praying for healing from cancer and knowing our choosing isn't always His heavenly will for us. 

And it's in this that my choosing always comes down to a very fine line. He is or He isn't. He is fully God, or He is not. He is fully trustworthy, or He is not at all. In the end, it's not even a choosing, it's a full blown knowing. Always. 

And this week it was about choosing the moments that will matter for a long time in my heart. 

It was choosing to walk the beach in the cold to spend a long time in prayer for needy friends. 
It was accepting the offer to spend an evening with Tricia & Cody and their sweet littles. 
It was staying up late at night (s) to listen and enter into many a conversation, hard or hysterical. 
It was spending time helping out whoever needed to be helped out...no matter the hours. 

Because in this choosing, I was serving. I was living. I was accepting.
 I was making the memories sweet for the days ahead to look back on and be ever so thankful that I chose to abide. 

I chose to abide and to stay and to love. 
And even though I'm exhausted, I also feel as though I'm completely spent and yet overflowing on love and joy. 

Full in all this choosing and in all this grace. 

~ Stop ~ 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

My Project 52 (9) -

Week 9

Wednesday night, Feb. 26th, I was able to fulfill a 5 year dream of seeing Steven Curtis Chapman in concert!! It was a wonderful, amazing, tearful, special, encouraging night. I loved every second of it.

I can't believe it's 9 weeks into the year already! Tomorrow is March!! Life flies by so fast. Have a wonderful weekend!  

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Project 52 (8) -

Week 8

Two Lucy Mae pictures in a row for my Project 52! :)
I realized I hadn't as many pictures of her on my blog as of late, which immediately had to be remedied. :) She's so adorable. 

I've been doing my school outdoors whenever the sun is out and it is warm enough to stretch out on my deck chair, and Lucy Mae stays outside with me. She wanders around, sniffing things and chasing lizards and climbs up and down from the desk chair and napping underneath it. Yesterday she found a favorite spot under a tree near me and I looked over to see her with her quivering nose pointed straight into the wind, sniffing and smelling it with her eyes closed, with her doxie ears flapping. It's what Daddy affectionately calls "being a hound dog", because at those moments, with her nose quivering a million miles a second, she is so caught up in the smells and wonders of the wind and outdoors that she's at the height of her "hound"/doxie glory. 

I softly called to her, and she turned to look at me with such a relaxed, peaceful look that I immediately knew exactly how she felt.
She is mine. She is like me. We love the outdoors. She truly is a companion. 

We love her so much. 

Tomorrow I get to 2nd shoot Gabi & Abi's wedding on a St. Augustine beach with Shannon!! I'm SO EXCITED. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The raising of Lazarus -

Miss Elise's Love posted this on Facebook this morning. I was immediately brought up short about what all our grieving moments bring us. They bring us great sorrow, but they also bring us so much closer to the heart of God. I was so blessed to read this and hope you are too. 

"The raising of Lazarus is the most daring and dramatic of all the Savior's healings. It was an incredible moment. 
It revealed that Jesus was who he said he was - the resurrection and the life.
But it revealed something else - the tears of God. 
And who's to say which is more incredible - a man who raises the dead ... or a God who weeps?" 
~ Incredible Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire ~ 

Photo taken February 9, 2014. One month after Elise saw her Savior face to face for the first time. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Project 52 (7) -

Puppy Dog Tails ~ Week 7

I had not taken any photos this week.....as in ... NONE. So when I got home from a wedding just a little bit ago, I thought "Oh no! My Project 52!" and then I noticed sweet Lucy Mae nosing through the clean laundry on my bed, and the clothes I had worn to the wedding....she always likes to smell everything and "see" where I've been. And then she plopped down on top of my clothes with her cute little doxie tail in a curly-q behind her. She's such a special joy in my life. I love her so much. 

Have a wonderful Sunday tomorrow, y'all! 
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Garden -

From Lisa-Jo Baker, the Gypsy Mama"On Fridays around these parts we like to write. Not for comments or traffic or anyone else's agenda. But for fun, for practice, for joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker. We love to just write without worrying if it's just right or not. For five minutes flat."

Today's prompt: Garden:

~ Go ~ 

It's 12:47 on a Valentines Day morning and I can't get over how much I've been blessed.

They told me relationships take up so much time and work and energy and I stared at them straight in the face because I couldn't understand how love couldn't run so deep and hard and strong that it wouldn't overlook it all. 

But there were the thorns, the deep roots that were pulled up, 
with years of friendship suddenly left to die and I thought I'd never know it ever again. 

And then you came along, you and you and you.....
and you reminded me what it was like to feel wanted and cared for, watered like the summer rain in the Colorado greenhouse gardens. 


The work was the pulling away of the weeds of shallow talking and what-if's,
the planting of hopes and dreams and desires to be known, to be loved for me,
the watering was the rain of God's grace, full and free and wild and clean,
the sprouts the kindness of our Savior in giving me so many to know as my own, to hold onto,
the roots which ran strong and deep and true and honest,
and then.....the blossoms came - like Spring in the desert, they came forth more beautiful than I could have asked for. 


Roses and lilies - pure and sweet and so fragrantly spectacular that tears filled my eyes. 
There was jasmine and honeysuckle of the sweet love that has poured over me. 
And then came gardenias and camellias, of reminding me that His mercies have followed me
and prepared for me the growth that I will need, the experiences I have been given, the richness of life.
The magnolias, strong and true. The orange blossoms of unexpected kindness and trust. 

It was work, in the end.....but work that produces the utmost joy in the dearest of places. The garden in the heart of love for each other. And the most wonderful thing to me is that while God was changing me from desert to ocean, from sadness to joy, from hurt to life.....

He was giving me YOU as my friends. 

And it has been my joy to grow in the garden of friendship......with you

I love you my friends. Happy Valentines Day. 

~ Jean Marie ~ 
Photos taken: June 2013, Colorado. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Birthday, Daddy -

Today is my Daddy's birthday!!! I'm so thankful for him and so honored and blessed to be his daughter and to learn from him and share my life with him. I wouldn't trade these days for anything. 

I love working with him on projects and sharing jokes and laughing about life with him. He is truly one of the most honorable, kind, sweet, gentle, loving, Godly, caring, giving and fun people I've ever known. I love having traits that I can point right at him and say "Yep. I'm your daughter.". :) 

Two snapshots of life ..... 

A few days after I turned 1, 6-30-1989....I loved it when Daddy put me up on his shoulders and he would walk on the beach with me like that. It's one of my first memories. I can still remember holding onto his curly hair, with the hair between my fists and giggling in the salty air. I always felt completely safe and exhilaratingly high in the air and happy to be so. I've never felt anything but love and protection from him as my Dad. The safest place is in his arms and telling him about all of me. 

And in Savannah, GA, last July, 2013. Walking the beautiful town in the rather hot weather, but a very special time just the two of us. We laughingly took a picture in a restaurant's glass....so very us. 

Daddy - I love you to the moon and back and all the stars in between, always and forever!!!! 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Project 52 (6) -

Week 6

Our wonderful, retired NFL neighbor has been growing a garden this year, and pulled up several lettuce heads for us to eat!! They have been delicious - I've eaten many salads this week! He's such a great, friendly, Southern neighbor, and we love him. :) Hope the rest of your weekend is lovely!

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Day -

So way back in last year, I set up a tentative date with my friends to go to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse so we could all see each other!! Well we kind of left it and forgot about it....until the week before, and then I realized how busy I was. A few days before the date was John & Katrina's wedding, and then was Gabe & Leah's wedding reception party the night before, and then the get together at the Lighthouse! And the Hopes were moving to Alabama. I seriously sat down and cried because I was so overwhelmed. Shannon wrote me concerned it was going to be too much.....and in the end after some discussion, we decided to go ahead with it. And I'm SO glad we did. It turned out to be a wonderful day and it was such a special time being with everyone. I loved every minute of our time together.  

I listened to good music on the way up, and picked up lunch at Panera Bread for Shannon and I, and then picked up Shannon, and drove there. Mrs. DeVore, Holly, and MaKenna met Shannon and I for lunch there at the little park, and then we went in! But first there were screaming hugs. ;) haha. 

 Here are the photos! 





I've started taking pictures of my shoes/boots/flats/barefeet in different locations and want to put it all together into a "travel" book sometime. I have quite a few already! It's addicting.  

The girlies. Holly, Shannon, MaKenna. 

The little loves. 

Looking up. Way way up from the bottom. Haha. Dizzying. Just 203 stairs to the top. 

And then looking down after climbing a little ways. I LOVE lighthouses so so so so so much. 

Well fine then. I'll just take a picture. 

Finally up!! Ok. Now see Shannon's gorgeous and curly hair? Ok. Now I must tell you something. It was VERY very windy that day. And cold. Now take cold and windy and go up 175 feet, where the wind is howling like the winter series from Little House on the Prairie and if you stand too close to the tower and too far away from the "free wind", you get literally swept around the inside of the circle of the tower because HELLO WIND. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN MY BODY WEIGHT. 

So let's just say there were lots of gasps and "ohmyworrrrrd it is so COLD." and "I'm gonna be deaf this wind is so cold and loud." and we took pictures rather quickly and found out which side of the tower was out of the wind and tried not to move from there. hahaha. 

Still. IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL. 

Love.

She's so cute I can barely stand it. 

We found the least windy place, sat down and refused to move. hahahaha. 

I will never ever ever get tired of this view. 

Or this one. 

Or this one. haha. So much windy glorious fun! 

Beauties. 

Mmmmmm. The Marina and the Mist. 

See what I mean? Addicting. Plus, I'm 175 feet above the ground. SWEET.

Because it was cloudy/foggy/misty/windy .... the blues were SO aqua/green/blue. It was stunning.  

See? That's the pier running out there to the ocean on the left. So gorgeous....I love that God loves colors.

Mmmmm. I love windy tendrils of hair and black and white moods. 

The wires keeping us all in. 

The Marina.  

and in color. See the sand banks and different water depths in colors? 

Irish curls. 

The million dollar houses and the ocean. Looking Nor'east.

Looking South. Like you might have noticed, I couldn't stop taking pictures because .... it's so peaceful. 

Back on terra firma. And taking pictures of berries we can't eat.

And exploring the different houses/museums....and being typical rebellious homeschoolers....we found a fireplace to sit in. No one cared, so hey. Win-win. Because how cute. Look what Santa delivered. 

MaKenna. That glow on her face is because an elf said she was adorable. That elf was me, btw. 

 Holly. Sweet, genuine Holly. 

And Shannon. Our tiny Irish, go-for-it, sweetheart friend.

Neat artifacts from ages past. I'm distracted by shiny things. 

Old Glory in the wind gets me every time. 

Peering in the windows. 

The little details. ;) 

Love the unexpected shots. 

And more "we are freezing, take it fast, I'm dying" pictures.  

Love her radiant smile and spirit. 

MaKenna was our model because the rest of us had cameras. 

and because .... DUH. Look at her. Model. 

Me? NOT SO MUCH. I was cold. That's why I look like an orphan. "Please suh, could you spare a mug of hot cocoa? I'm about to DIE FROM HYPOTHERMIA." No biggie. 

That face. Love her.  

So precious. (yeah, I know I sound 80. be quiet)  

Good golly miss MaKenna. Stop it already.  

And then because we didn't realize our time was running out and because we thought walking would warm us up....we headed over to the park and took photos on the park things because....we never grew up, that's why....and then we headed over to the little dock by the marina because we wanted to see the water and look who was already there. A lovely little flock of pelicans (I seriously just sat here and called them penguins TWICE....it really was cold) and seagulls. And we had a lovely little adventure. 

I love this END OF RAMP sign. Like it took someone running full speed and falling screaming into the water for them to put up a notice. "Yeah, mon. We better put up a sign. People are complainin'. They can't see it don't go on forevah. Dese people, mon! Dey crazy! Can't dey see there's water?!!" 

Ok. Enough fake Jamaican accent. We all know Dad's the only one who can pull that off in our family. 

The water was SO clear because of the clouds and weather. Just aqua-teal-grey-green. 

And then there were the pelicans paddling around. 


Ok. So I had my 35mm on, right? So he was about......less than 2 feet from my camera/hands/face. And pretty intent on seeing what on earth the black clicking thing was. We named him Ronald. And I LOVED being up so close (he came up to us, btw)....but not everyone was thrilled about it. hahaha. Oh well. 

Hello there, dude! 

"Yes, yes, yes. I know I'm amazing." "Yes, Ronald, you are!!"

His amazing wingspan. We were SO close! Jerry was ignoring us on the far right there. 

Such a cool thing to be so close. And for any people wondering out there - we kept our distance! They....did not. They wanted fish. When we told them we didn't have any, they cocked their heads and looked at us skeptically. And when they got a little too close or snappy or curious, I told them "NO." in a firm voice....to which they gave us sassy, bored looks and pretended we weren't there for 2 seconds. 

Holly was smiling, but also panicking a little bit. I was concerned she was going to fall into the water! She never did, thankfully. haha. But she's not a fan of birds up close, which I didn't know. Whoops. 

The gorgeous view from our dock. 

I was sitting down just a little bit away from him, my back to a post. I found him very curious, bold, and yet responsive to tones and snapping fingers and "NO"'s. When in doubt, I just pretend animals are like a dog and assert authority while also giving them respect in how their behaviors are as God created them. It's a fine line between anticipating a need for dominion and also realizing they are incredibly smart and intuitive and to give them all the respect I can! 

Ok. Not to turn this into a science talk. I was just incredibly fascinated. haha. 

Watching the water....we stood up when things turned a little tense and tried to ignore Ronald and Jerry for a few minutes so they wouldn't think they were the sun and moon and stars in the moment. 

And it seemed to work, since they realized we didn't have fish to share and they could huddle down for some warmth and listen to us chatter about coffee. 

Look how cute. 

Here is some video of the lighthouse view and the pelicans!


Walking back to the lighthouse.....we realized our time was almost out, and we also needed coffee!! So we left and met up at the Starbucks and had a wonderful time warming up and drinking coffee and taking pictures and looking out at the cold afternoon. 

We shared hugs and said our goodbyes and then Shannon and I left....but our afternoon was still open, so we tossed around ideas before deciding to go see a movie. Only problem, no one was showing it that day (darn it), and so we drove around, on and off I-95 several times like a Disney ride, trying to find a theatre that did, until we gave up and sat in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot....neither Shannon nor I had anything to do that afternoon, and I was unwilling to let her go! So then I called up Tricia on the 1% chance that she would let us come over so Shannon could meet baby Ryan. I offered to bring chicken nuggets for David.....and it turned into nuggets for us and a large sweet tea for Cody, and over we went! When in doubt - a large sweet tea will pave the way in friendships in the South. So true. 

I was ecstatic, because I had just met Ryan the night before, and I loved that Shannon could meet him too!! 

What a love. All of 1 week old. 

So so precious. 

Couldn't get enough of his sweet face.  

And those long Case fingers.  

Expressive dreams. Love him so much. 

It was SO special, thank you again, Tricia and Cody - that meant so much to both of us!! 

And here is the great blogpost by Shannon about our day!! Love it. There is something SO fun about reading words by someone else about your day! 

And that was our wonderful day. :) 
With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~