Monday, August 22, 2011

 First day of school pictures just aren't what they used to be. Andrew is a senior, it will be a year of "lasts". Our tradition has always been to line up on the front porch and take a picture. If I wasn't on a cleaning jag at the moment, I would dig through those boxes of photos and scan in a few of my favorites. Maybe next week.

This years photos year unique. Due to 6:00 am soccer try-outs the first day of school began with the boys trudging across the lawn at 5:30 am.
The first day waking up wasn't so bad. The second day, after two a day practices, was a killer. But breakfast was fun. The boys brought a friend home inbetween soccer practice and school starting to shower and eat breakfast. I made scrambled eggs and toast with fresh strawberries. High school boys are great for building a cook's self esteem. They are always hungry and love whatever you fix.

On the third day, the boys brought two friends, Liam and Kevin, home after morning tryouts to eat and shower. Try outs went a bit late and traffic was heavier so they didn't have much time. I went all out for breakfast adding two pounds of bacon and toaster strudels to the selection. Toaster strudels are a huge hit with teen age boys, because none of their mother's will buy them. I box per boy is what I budget for on the weekends.

My plans for "first day of school" pictures were foiled by their late arrival. Kevin forgot his uniform. Peter couldn't eat fast enough and ran to the car with a plate of food in his hand. Andrew was looking for something and last out the door by a few minutes. Liam, who was intelligent enough to get right in the shower, was the only one who had time to actually sit at the table and enjoy his food. I really like that boy. He can eat at my house anytime.

It was the only time I have had to put my camera on rapid flash to capture first day of school pictures. The pictures aren't what I had envisioned, but they make me smile. The last morning I will ever wake up praying that Andrew make the Varsity Soccer team was depicted by a kitchen full of chaos and toaster strudel crumbs. The boys energy took the edge off the grief that hovers with each of these "lasts".

I wonder sometimes if God feels this way about us as we go through our "lasts"; the milestones we are aware of and the ones we don't even realize until they've past. The last time we enjoyed swinging in the backyard or were excited to go to church just to see Jesus. The last time we prayed for ourselves before remembering others.

The first time we asked that His will be done
 instead of asking for our circumstances to improve.  
I wonder which signs of spiritual maturity signify we are
closer to the end of the journey to our heavenly Father and if He experiences those same moments of angst watching us grow.  I am confident of one thing, if God's keeps a scrapbook, it's much more up to date than mine.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Clone Brush

I began my day editing photos I took last weekend. My boys were playing with family friends who were in town for a visit. At four and six years old, Riley and Addie, adore my teenage sons. The feeling is mutual. I started a scrapbook for the girls when they moved away a few years ago, and took the opportunity at the pool to snap a few pictures – well more than a few.

Addie, Riley, Andrew and Peter
Pool pictures on a sunny day are the best. The colors were phenomenal and my Sony digital can capture tiny water droplets in the air. This was beneficial because my son Andrew spent a good deal of time harassing all of us with a squirt gun. I got some really good pictures. Unfortunately, no matter how loud and obnoxious our little gathering  became, (The life guard on duty at the time was Peter’s best friend, Mark), one family remained at the baby pool and seemed to consistently appear in the background of my photos. The photo’s gorgeous background - hues of sunlit blue - were marred by a few parents lounging in the pool. Ugh. 

Enter the clone brush. It is a fantastic little tool in my Creative Memories Digital Scrapbook program. I haven’t perfected it yet, but I did manage to obliterate said family from my photos. Don’t examine them too intently, the pool edge isn’t as defined as I would have liked and the water isn’t flawless, but as a background it works.

Addie's Revenge!
Life would be so much easier if it came equipped with a clone brush.      

Something to blot out those obstacles, blur the harsh lines etched by the consequences of poor choices, to help us forget circumstances too painful to carry. Often my prayer intentions are not so much an attempt to grow closer to God, but rather a petition for circumstantial cloning. “God, please erase this from my life. I can’t deal with it. I don’t want to see it anymore. It hurts. God please bring healing, or change, or whatever is necessary to get this circumstance out of the picture.”

God knew that our lives without Him would be cluttered and our landscapes often filled with unwanted debris. Human nature, the existence of sin – we just can’t seem to tidy things up on our own. For some reason, we need to experience these trials and keep perspective on the mess surrounding us. And He gave us the one prayer we would need the most from the lips of a young girl whose life on earth would also be filled with hardship and tremendous grief, 'And Mary said, “. . .  may it be done to me according to your word.”' Luke 1:38

 I am grateful for my friends and family who help me to see God’s presence, even when my life’s backdrop becomes murky and uncomfortable. Just when I was beginning to really feel the chill of the empty nest encroaching, Addie and Riley came into town and I was back playing with my boys at the pool. An afternoon of laughter and sunshine was a blessing that reminded of the joy God weaves through the landscape of my journey. I have an abundance of memories to cherish: the relative few I strive to clone out pale in comparison.
Sans sunbathing Mom and her Starbucks

Riley and Addie preparing for battle