Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Great Artist

One of my favorite NC spots is the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Even though I missed the prime Springtime show, my most recent trip was hardly a disappointment (aside from the parking ticket, haha!). My husband graciously walked alongside me down various paths as my tunnel vision kicked in and beads of sweat began to form. My love for nature and photography is amateur, but very real! I enjoy taking pictures that remind me of other things in life; see the captions below.

However, my love for the Creator of these critters and plants is much greater (although yes, in many ways just as amateur...). Photography may be considered an art, but it only captures a glimpse of the beauty. The veins in a leaf, the vibrant hues, the fuzzy bees, transparent wings - they are all designed by God! The textures and patterns, sounds and smells, all are a masterpiece. This trip and these pictures remind me how creative and detailed is my God. If his work is this complex and lovely in simply the picturesque backdrop of our lives, how much more involved is he in my own body and soul. As humans, we are special and unique creations - valuable because we are given life by a loving and intelligent Heavenly Father who does not work haphazardly (Psalm 139).

Just as the short lives of insects and plants are ordered to promote thriving, we too are made for specific roles and under certain structures so that flourishing might occur. God has supreme understanding and authority in regards to all of life, so may we cling to his word (the Bible) and follow Christ in faith - faith that reaches into every nook and cranny of our lives.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so.
Genesis 1:11
But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

That bee was digging away, like a woman scavenging through her purse!

Nature collage comes to mind...

Like a girl with a little flower tucked behind her ear.

Beauty is in the eye of the "beeholder" ;)

I imagine a little girl full of freckles.

Melting an orange creamsicle!

A shy child in a busy crowd.
Conquering Everest!

Reminds me of an older lady who still maintains that hint of glamour.

Like a homeless person, with so many passing them by.

Beauty of youth and beauty with age.

I just want to jump in and take a nap!

Tea party, gather 'round!
Like a sunny girl who has seen better days...chin up, radiance is around the corner!

 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed...
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:4-5, 8
For further exploration:
Song - "Thrive"
Matt Chandler sermon series (HIGHLY recommend) - A Beautiful Design

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Carraway Adoption Story

Mike and Jane Carraway, and their daughters Melanie and Katie, adopted Eli into their family in 2007. He was adopted from Russia through a U.S. agency.

The Decision to Adopt

Mike and I had never really considered adoption because we already had two daughters. But, the desire to have a son never left me. One day I just realized that no matter how our children come into our lives, they are gifts from God. Their stories might vary, but they are entrusted to us just the same. It really just felt like a divine nudge!
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1:27

The Challenges & The Joys

The first great challenge was convincing Mike that this was something that God wanted us to pursue. It took some time, but once we were on the same page, it was full steam ahead. There were many challenges, but I guess the greatest was the need to be patient on God's timing. It did seem to take forever! Then of course, there were the travel woes, the language barrier, and the fact that Eli screamed every time we touched him while we were visiting him in the orphanage.

The greatest joys were the moments he began to let us in emotionally. He allowed us to just pick him up and walk out of the orphanage with him. It truly was a miraculous moment! He had literally screamed every time we tried to love on him before we took him with us. I think he realized that we meant what we had been saying. He was going to be our son!


I don't think adoption is for everyone. I don't think having children is for everyone. But, if you even are remotely open to the idea, adoption is such a wonderful opportunity to be a parent! We've had so many people through the years say what a blessed little boy Eli is, but we think it's the opposite! We are so blessed to have a healthy, smart boy as our son. He has taught us so many things. Adoption is such a beautiful picture of salvation. And, what finally got Mike on the same page as me was the verse James 1:27. He said he just couldn't get past the fact that we are called to do something for the orphans. God doesn't call everyone to adopt, but we certainly aren't supposed to turn a blind eye to them!
(Southern Love Photography)