Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Keepin' It Rural

It has been a full month of crazy fun here "somewhere in the middle," as my california friends call it. People always wonder what we do in the country to amuse ourselves, and the simple answer is we make our own entertainment. Much of that entertainment is found in making fun of each other and making up parties for no reason.

We like to think that we were some of the original founders of the farm to table movement. Case in point; here are some pictures from a classy event we have dubbed "The Corn Feed." A few years ago we started an annual party which is essentially a corn eating contest. 

Most of the contestants quit after a few ears, and the competitive boys usually duke it out for the victory. Here are this year's top three finishers....I'm sorry to say they consumed almost 30 ears of corn between the three of them. It was obscene. They were literally running into the field to get more corn. 

The other great thing about life at home is getting to hang out with my family. They are genuinely some of my favorite humans, and I'm not making that up to try and get more of the inheritance. I know that so many people don't have the privilege of actually wanting to spend time with their kin. 

"Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons." - Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer Sessions: The Pruemer Family

What a fun night with the Pruemer family hanging out at a little lake. Add some ice cream and baseball, this is about as good as it gets!  

One of the hazards of the job is that you never know when a baseball is going to come flying at your face. Only two years old, he has a mighty arm already! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's Wedding Madness

It's been wedding crazy around here. We may have set some sort of record with two weddings in two days. Here are few of Chris and Meredith, some great friends.  

The library engagement shoot: the only photo shoot I have done where I had to whisper directions the entire time.....so funny.  

Here's a few from the wedding. We survived the 95 degree weather and no air conditioning in the church like champs. 

Seeing as Meredith loves dinosaurs, this is one of my favorite bridesmaid pictures ever. Keepin' it classy, girls! 

Congrats, friends. You did it, you really did it. Love you much! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Love Is Not Efficient

At a conference last fall, I heard Paul Miller quoted from his book Loved Walked Among Us. It was a simple, short statement; "love is not efficient."  But it stayed with me, one of those thoughts you can't quite seem to get out of your head. 

Reading the rest of the book about learning to love like Jesus, it is so evident that Christ was not primarily concerned about his schedule, time, or comfort as he reached out and touched a dying world. He also was ridiculously patient with his disciples, who, like us, were often self-involved and needed things explained again and again. 

It's so easy to want to move people or a system through a program quickly and easily, to "love" people for six minutes, days, or months and then be done if they haven't changed. As I have worked with college students for the last years, this has been especially tempting for me. I want the students to be completely mature at the end of college, having learned everything perfectly by graduation. And then I think of myself at 21 and a recent grad, and see now how little I knew about life then. It's much clearer now how much I have changed in those ten years, and how patient people have been with me. There was nothing quite like moving across the country by myself to teach me how little I actually knew about the world. 

Although this may seem like a very basic lesson, I've been reminded again and again that loving people well does not make my life easier. It actually messes up my plans quite extensively much of the time. And the more I try to be efficient in loving others, the more I hurt them. Some days I respond much better to this than others. A few weeks ago, a few friends and I canceled a camping trip to be with our kindreds that were going through a difficult time. This time wasn't as hard as some times to give up what I wanted to do, but other days, the absolutely last thing I want to do is serve others above myself. And there are many times when I am selfish and choose myself over others. 

This doesn't mean that it isn't worth it, and that sometimes it is wise to say no. But it does mean that if you want a calm, predictable, uninterrupted life, do not get involved deeply with people. Keep your distance and perhaps write a check every now and then to a good cause to keep the guilty thoughts from invading your mind. But don't seek to actually care about people, and by all means, do not become the person they call in a crisis. Nothing ruins a nice dinner like an emergency room run. 

Dose of sarcasm aside, it has been evident that following Jesus down the path of loving people is worth it. Although there are times that are absolutely heart-breaking, and even when I see all of my control issues surfacing when someone doesn't do what I think they should, there is more joy than I thought possible investing in people. And this joy is much more evident when I am remembering that it is God who works through me to love, that it isn't my strength or will that I can lay down my life, and that God has been infinitely patient with me to try and teach me the same lesson again and again. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

For Better Or For Worse

On the Monday morning after their wedding, these two should be waking up to an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, and making the tough decision between snorkeling or laying on the beach. Instead, they are sitting in the hospital, dining on pain meds and water, and making decisions about chemotherapy. They got married last week, soon after they heard this news. The wedding was an amazing display of love and community, as over three hundred people showed up on a Thursday to celebrate with them.   

Although there were many heart-wrenching moments during the ceremony, the part that impacted me more than usual was the vows. "I, Christina, take you Elliott...in sickness and in health, to have and to hold from this day forward. I, Elliott, take you Christina...for better and for worse, as long as we both shall live." During most weddings, the sickness and the worse is far away, and the couple seems momentarily protected from the evils of the world, surrounded by the haze of young love and first dances. 

In the past few weeks, I haven't heard any wavering from them about if they should get married. In a stark contrast to our commitment-phobic generation, they have demonstrated an unwavering loyalty to each other and to their God. There was no hesitation as they vowed these sacred promises to each other, even though they know the cost much more profoundly than most couples their age ever will. They have shown what real love is, what real sacrifice takes, and what it is to lay down your life for the sake of another person. They have so visibly demonstrated how "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:8). 

Please pray for them as their honeymoon is, quite literally, over. They spent the first few days of their married life celebrating at another friend's wedding, and being amazingly focused on others. In all of it, they have been refreshingly themselves. Sobered and quiet at times, yet still silly and giddy newlyweds. Pray that they would see the hand of God protecting and guiding them, that they would spend their days together well, and that they would have grace and strength to walk through each moment. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Introducing Bebe Mercy, Three Days New

It's so fun to get to capture kindred spirits during a precious time of life. My dear friends, chad and julie, just had mercy rose a few days ago. She was wide awake for her pictures and adorable as can be. 

Sometimes being photographed is hard work. We're sorry, Mercy. 

Love you, jewelz! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Each Day is a Gift

Life is such a crazy mixture of joy and sadness. As so evident in these photos, my dear friends Christina and Elliott are particularly gifted with joy. Few people would have a paint fight in the snow as part of their engagement pictures. These two have been together for six years, since they were teenagers. They are one of the quirkiest, most hilariously compatible couples I have ever met. Elliott owns his dorkiness so much that he is actually cool. (Let's just say that he read the dictionary for fun as a jr higher.) Christina is has the energy, optimism, and messiness of a six year old. They are the kind of people that always make a party better.  

 They are supposed to be getting married at the end of August, right before Elliott starts his next semester of pre-med classes and Christina finishes her internship. But this week, their world was turned upside down, as Elliott found out that the bone cancer that he fought so hard to beat already is back with a vengeance. And it doesn't look good. So the grieving begins, the brokenness of the world real and tangible today. 

And yet, through the tears, I hear the wisdom well beyond their 20 something years. We must enjoy today, they say, we don't know how long we will have, we want to love each other as fiercely as we can while we have the chance. We want to fight to trust in a Creator who is sustaining us and giving us grace for this moment. We want to grieve, but we want to laugh too. 

It's amazing how quickly no one cares what colors the candles for the wedding are, and how it's reminding all of us about what really matters. The important things are so simple and yet get lost so easily in our normal day-to-day living. We forget quickly to be thankful, it's much easier to complain. We struggle to see the good, it's much faster to find the bad. We grumble about going to work, or cleaning the house, or sitting in traffic, instead of stopping to realize each day is a gift. A simple, but profound gift, to live today. 

Thank you friends, for showing me this agonizingly beautiful gift. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sweet Home Illinois

For the past few weeks, I have been nestled back into fountain creek township, a place where no one is quite sure when the post office is open and buying a flash drive requires a twenty mile trip. But it's home, and I love it, despite it's quirks. I love the simplicity of the days here, picking green beans and jumping in the lake. But most of all I love the people, the loyal, hilarious, interesting people that have made my life so full. 

Here's a few snapshots of a few of these crazy souls from a recent cookout. 


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