family pictures

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When Wren was a couple of weeks old we tried to assemble ourselves in nicer clothes, I threw on some makeup and curled my hair, and we attempted a few family photos by just propping my camera on windowsills and dressers and setting the timer.  Typically family pictures result in some frustration and tears from a few kiddos, but this time it was relatively quick and surprisingly smooth.  I mean, it wasn’t entirely tear-free:

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But as long as Brandon randomly yelled out “snozzcumbers!” and “bellypoppers!” from  the BFG book (the kid’s favorite lately), we got some good laughs and smiles. These children all love Wren so much and all want to hold her so that helped, too.  Philippa and Noah wanted to take some photos with their “phones,” making clicking sound effects as they did.

Tired, puffy (me), and wrinkled though we were, I’m thankful we grabbed a few pictures to remember these early days with our March girl, these early days of becoming a family of six.  Already she has grown and changed so much!

it’s beginning to look a lot like

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Christmas!  We are in full swing and leaning into the season.  There are little traditions every year that we keep, one of which has become cutting a tree at a favorite farm tucked away in little ordinary, inglorious Rosman, NC just outside of Brevard.  We went after church the first Sunday of Advent, and my parents tagged along.  We had a quick picnic lunch together on a blanket, than tried to get a few family pictures.  The past couple of years the farm owners have offered a hay wagon ride for free for the kids, which they love of course.  Then we got to work picking a tree.  I wanted a short and really fat one this year, and Brandon indulged me.  For $30!  It’s my favorite tree that we’ve ever had, I think.  These sorts of traditions are more fun every year as the kids get older and are more involved.  Nothing feels merrier than a fresh spruce twinkling in our living room, greeting us every morning while we sip coffee in robes by the fire.

Last year at this same farm.  What a difference a year makes.

 

going on a tree hunt

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Oh the agony + joy of attempting family pictures!  And all the mommas said Amen.

A few years ago, when we were living in Brevard we stumbled across this little family-run Christmas tree farm right outside of town.  It sort of birthed this dream in us to have a little place like this, a big white farmhouse, quiet hills with neat lines of evergreens where it could feel like Christmas all year long.  Space to raise a quiverfull of children and maybe a handful of animals, space to tend the earth.  I don’t know if that dream will ever be a reality, but every year since then, we’ve headed back to this little farm that reminds of and beckons us to the way of life we hunger for.  If for nothing else, it reminds us of Eden in some way or another, a haunting for that good life that was lost, the good life that will be ours again in Heaven one day.  A future hope that makes us smile and remember that while we are here on this terrestrial sod we are here to work hard, our time here is temporary.

We went again a couple of weeks ago with my brother + sister-in-law and niece, took turns snapping pictures of each other, and hunted for a tree.  The owners didn’t mind us taking our time, traipsing all over their property with our photo props, and they even offered our kids a fun wagon ride behind their tractor!  It’s well worth it to me to pay $30 for a tree to support this little place + family.

As 2015 comes nearly to a close, my heart is full.  Though it has been a year full of challenges and stress and strain, I look through these pictures and feel immeasurably blessed.  When I fix my eyes on these simple but profound gifts instead of the long list of things I could complain about or worry over, joy truly floods my soul.  Nothing can touch the joy I have in Jesus Christ, nothing can ever separate me from Him and all that He has won for me and secured for me by His death on the cross.  Second to that, nothing can come close to comparing to the profound depths of delight and joy I have in my little family.  What a crazy good and wise God we have to come up with the idea of family!

I know so many dear loved ones who long for this and struggle deeply with loneliness during the Christmas season.  Know that I’m praying for you, that I long for you to experience the joy of family this season too, even in the broadest of terms, even in the arms of your spiritual brothers + sisters, mothers + fathers, children + grandchildren.  Ultimately, in Jesus, we enjoy “family,” because He is Immanuel, God with us.  The God who is always there, always present, among us, within us.  The kindness of our God: we are not alone!  Praying He satisfies you with His presence this season + always.