Meet Dexter. He’s a mix…can you tell which breeds? Take a peek and I’ll tell you at the end. 😉
A little over a year ago we went to a birthday party for a friend’s son who was turning 13. The people invited were close friends and family that had been influential in this boys life over the years. During the party we took some time to share memories and thoughts about him and his becoming a young man, a teenager. It was incredibly touching and special and sparked an idea that has been brewing ever since.
What if all of those words that were shared by the important people in his life were compiled with images into a beautiful book. Something that could be held and read and re-read over time. So now, over a year later, I find myself on the journey of my oldest transitioning from a boy to a teenager turning 13. It’s an emotional time for so many reasons. Watching my baby grow up, becoming a young man, hormones raging at times and of course the eye roll or giant “sigh” when I’ve said something incredibly stupid…like “can I help you with that?”.
Remembering my idea, I asked all of the people who have been important role models, his youth pastor that recently moved away, his nanny/babysitter, family and friends to contribute something they might offer as encouragement or advice as Mason enters this new phase of life. Almost everyone I reached out to send something back. I was overwhelmed both with the willingness of others to participate and their thoughtful words. This is truly something to be treasured forever.
I found myself wanting to include a page for each of his grandparents that have passed. My sister sent the perfect words that my mother would have shared from one of my mother’s favorite books, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. “To fly as fast as thought to anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.” Matt found a Bible verse to be included from his father from Proverbs, his dad’s favorite section. “Grandchildren are a crown of the aged, and parents are the pride of their children”. Proverb 17:6. And I found a Bible verse “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. –Romans 12:2 and a quote from Buddha…”To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.” to be included on a page from my father.
There are numerous other entries that have sage advice and good humor…too much to share in this post. 37 entries actually, including one’s from Matt and I and his brother. This book is an amazing compilation that I hope can bring a feeling of safety to Mason in times of doubt. I wrote to him at the front of the book that as he walks this unfamiliar path, he should know that it is well-worn and marked by all of the people who have gone on this journey before him. That this book can serve as a guide when he feels lost or confused and that it can point him in the right direction. That the words in the pages were written with love to help him find his way on this adventure called life.
He’s been reading it slowly, page by page as he goes to sleep at night. It was funny, the first night he opened it on his birthday, he read the entries from Matt and I and Miles and then flipped through the rest of the book, looking at who had contributed and all of the photographs. When he got to the end, he closed the book and said that he needed to go to bed…right then. He crawled out of our bed and into his own and promptly fell asleep. It was almost like it was emotional overload. But he’s a deep child, always has been. These words inside this book are not lost on him. I know that over time he’ll continue to read and re-read the words of advice and guidance and love.
From the deepest part of my heart I thank everyone who was a part of this gift for Mason. I read everyone’s words and am so touched by your love for my son. Brings tears to my eyes. 37 entries and close to 400 images later, an incredible book was created that is and will be well-loved!
I do know however that I’m less than three years away from having to do this again or at least a version of this for Miles! He said he knows his is coming so if I’m smart I’ll start putting it together now!
What is an IF Table?
It’s 6 women of faith, coming together to share a meal and answer 4 questions about God and life. The questions are provided by the If Gathering website each month with a guide for how to facilitate the meals.
It was an incredible experience and I loved getting to know the women at my table. It was funny as I was the oldest woman at the table with the oldest children. That was a first. Over the course of our year together three of the women became pregnant and of those three, two had their babies. It was the first time I was the “older” mom in a group. I kind of had to do a reset of my mindset for this new experience.
When I attended the IF Gathering Conference this past February, we were guided to change the format of the ‘Table’ a bit. Jennie Allen prompted us to not only ask women of faith to participate in our tables but to ask our neighbors, our friend, anyone. She believes that opening the Table up to all women would allow the direction of Jesus and discipleship to be something tangible.
As I sat in my seat over the weekend at the If Conference I prayed about women and who I might ask to join my table should I decide to lead. Interestingly enough, over those 3 days a name would pop into my mind and I would write it down. I wasn’t filtering in any way and allowed God to be at work through me. On the last day I looked at my notebook and there were 5 names on the list.
I came home and told Matt about it and he thought it would be unlikely that all 5 women would participate but I mustered up the courage to ask them one by one. I called with a personal invitation to participate to be a part of my If Table for the year. Each woman listened and asked questions and in the end agreed. My heart was and is full from this experience.
We had our first ‘Table’ just over a week ago. It was pretty amazing how we all came together and shared a meal and a bit about our lives. Everyone knew me and some knew each other a bit and some met for the first time. We each answered the 4 questions, one by one, sharing, laughing and even crying at times from the authenticity everyone brought to the table.
We have committed to coming together once a month for a year. We know that we may not be able to attend all 12 meals but the intention is there and as long as two of us can make it, the Table will happen.
I feel deeply blessed to be on this journey with these women. I’m not quite sure what God has in store for me or for them but I know that this was bigger than me. There is something at work here. I can’t wait to raise a glass at the last table, a year from now, to see the changes in myself and the women around me.
If you’re interested in the concept of an If Table you can visit the IF Gathering website to learn more.
I photographed these two sweet boys for their 5th birthday in 2015 and had the honor of capturing their 6th birthday a few months ago. The Bay Area Discovery Museum is such a fantastic location. So much to do to stimulate young minds. The grounds are beautiful, the staff is friendly and the activities are out of this world. I had so much fun watching the children, and parents, participate in the festivities. Enjoy the images from this fun event!
Dreaming can be fun and let’s face it…we all dream don’t we?
Some dreams are big and some are small depending on where you are in your life. Some people are dreaming of clean water while others are dreaming of a vacation out of the country.
What are you dreaming?
Maybe it’s to have enough money to pay your bills with some left over to take your kids on a vacation. Maybe you’re dreaming of buying a new car or to quit that job that is keeping you away from spending time with your family.
No matter what you’re dreaming of, you are dreaming. But maybe, just maybe, you’ve forgotten how to dream BIG.
Well, these ladies have decided to take some action to start dreaming BIG again. They’re putting their toes in the water of a new adventure and I’m so excited that I get to walk along this journey with them! Please join me in welcoming Monica, Laura and Samantha to my Nerium team! I love what that little quote says down below…”You could make a wish or you could make it happen!”. Let’s start dreaming and make it happen together.