7.22.2014

photo work lately

it's safe to say i'm enjoying the landscapes out here! this past week and the last month brought several beautiful photo sessions.  sharing a few favorites below-

it's safe to say my favorite spot is Crissy Field. : ) plus, the gorgeous Bates family, our sweet friends, made it even better!
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the Provolts were in town celebrating their anniversary, reminiscing in the very spot they were engaged over 13 years ago.  so special!
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the Gammons celebrated their favorite places, including their home and park, to document life with their beautiful daughter at this stage.
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our dear friends, and fellow Seminarians, Sarah and Max, celebrated their daughter's first birthday and we headed to one of our favorite beaches, Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands.
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and there's still so much beauty to be found! i like my job. : ) God is gracious to help support our family in this way. to see more, head over here. 

7.15.2014

parenting: smashing self-righteousness and trumpeting glorious grace

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i'm reading the best book on parenting because it's not about steps or methods or morals, it's about dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus.  instead of making your kids "good" it's about helping your kids see their need for the Gospel, their need for a Savior from their sin.
"We are commanded to give the law so that they will be crushed by it and see their need for a Savior. The law won't make them good.  It will make them despair of ever being good enough, and in that way it will make them open to the love, sacrifice, and welcome of their Savior, Jesus Christ." -Give them Grace, page 36
the best part, though, is that the more you talk about sin, the more you see your own.  and the more sin you see in yourself, the more you see your Savior.
"We always love ourselves more than we love God or others.  We are always erecting idols in our hearts and worshipping and serving them.  We are always more focused on what we want and how we might get it than we are on loving him and laying down our life for others.  The law does show us the right way to live, but none of us obeys it.  Not for one millisecond. Even though our children cannot and will not obey God's law, we need to teach it to them again and again... and tell them their need of a Savior." -Give them Grace, page 35
the best part of this, is that we can tell our kids we are in the exact same boat as they are.  we can bend down and learn Grace with them.  we can confess our sin, tell them we struggle with the very same human nature they do, and we can make much of Christ together because of it.  we can let go of our "be good, be better," mantra in parenting and instead "direct them to their need for him and not their need to do good or please [us]." (-Give them Grace, page 29) this means we also have to redirect our need to do good in order to please others and, rather, admit our great, great need for him.  we can't teach our kids it's not about self-righteousness, if we are self-righteous.  we have to preach to our own self-righteous tendencies, too.

it's funny/not funny because the whole journey of parenting is something we want to win. something we want to look like we do well.  something we can look to for self-righteousness.  the very act of teaching our kids it's not about their own goodness, can often become a place of justification or validation for ourselves.
"the unconditonal, radical, hilarious, outrageous, message of God's one way love tells us we... are free to lose. you don't have to be right. you don't have to be known and appreciated.  you don't need these things in order to be justified or validated.  Jesus won for you.  he came to relieve us of the burden that we feel to win, to be right, to get ahead, to be on top of everything [to be good parents that raise perfect moral kids]. this brings huge relief to our freedom and our lives. we can actually begin to enjoy our work and our family.  we are no longer relying on these things to save us. my kids don't have to make all the right decisions in order for me to love them. our love for our children is demonstrated best when they're blowing it. that's what they'll remember. " - Tullian Tchividjian, in the Liberate 2014 at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Podcast
this message frees the messenger.  we are free to love our children, smashing our self-righteousness in our "good parenting", trumpeting grace in Jesus, and talking about our great sin, in order to praise our great Savior.  ...after all, isn't this is what we're trying to teach our kids anyway?

7.10.2014

transitions, comfort, fear, and faith

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sage comfy on her daddy's shoulder - there's some Truth there for us all

transition brings highs and lows, new gifts, new struggles, and enough grace for it all.  sometimes, though, you just tend to want normal again... steady, sure, routine.  even though life is different in many ways, our God, of course, is constant and steady and sure. He was just as a loving, caring, kind, provider to the Israelites in the Desert as He was to His people in the Promised Land.

change can be paralyzing, i'm being reminded. sometimes i want to shrink back. like, hey, God, i want a comfortable life! i think the Lord is saying, "hey, i'm your comfort." nothing else. "come to me. i'm what you need most anyway." God is trying to explode the myth of safety and to somehow deliver me from the enchantment of security. because it's a mirage. (-John Piper, Risk is Right, Ch. 5)

faith is tried in time of transitions.  usual comforts are removed. the mirage is somewhat lifted.
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 10:38-39, 11:1 ESV)
i'm thankful the Word tells me what faith means. by defining faith, as assurance and conviction, this shows that biblical faith is not a vague hope grounded in imaginary, wishful, thinking. instead, faith is a settled confidence that something in the future - something that is yet to be seen but has been promised by God - will actually come to pass because God will bring it about. thus, biblical faith is not blind trust in the face of contrary evidence, not an unknowable "leap in the dark"; rather, biblical faith is a confident trust in the eternal God who is all-powerful and eternally trustworthy--the God who has revealed himself in his word and in the person of Jesus Christ (-ESV Study Bible notes, paraphrased).

my ultimate comfort through any change and any phase of life is grounded in Jesus - the author and perfecter of my faith. and that is THE ultimate security.
carissa graham. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.