PLAYing at Kaneko

Yesterday was a big treat for Livia and me. We joined the Morehead minivan on their adventures in Omaha, and due to Renae’s great knowledge of fun things to do with kids, we visited the Kaneko building in downtown Omaha. It was so fantastic; there was something for everyone to do. No pressure to do anything, you could play with whatever grabbed your fancy and you could jump in at your own pace (just as Liv did in her cautious way in the blow-up house below).

I’ve enjoyed Jun Kaneko’s work over the past few years, this time was no exception! Thanks for taking us along, Renae. xoxo

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Camp Redeemer {third set}

Four foodie chefs competed for the pig trophy (seen in the first set of pictures) and, boy oh boy, them eats were good. The judges took their jobs very seriously and Ray Blanton was crowned the winner. In truth, we were all winners as we got to eat their BBQ for dinner. YUM. The rest of the night was spent playing in the water, talking with friends, competing in corn hole and roasting s’mores over the campfire.

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My last image of the day is, fittingly, Jen Hinrichs sitting in an empty dining hall with her feet up. A huge thanks goes to Jen, Hope, Michael and Adam who worked hard to make sure the rest of us were ensured an awesome weekend. Thank you!

Camp Redeemer {second set}

What’s the perfect activity for all ages on a humid Nebraska summer day? BINGO. We’re all pretty sure our pastor has been moonlighting as a BINGO caller for sometime now; he’s that good. Look for the “oh yeah” and high-five pics—those would be the winners. My own husband came away winning a little pink manicure set. Oh boy, wish I had been there to witness it.

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Camp Redeemer {first set}

Camp Redeemer pics are here! I’ve got loads to go through, so I plan to have more posted soon. Last weekend a bunch of us made our way to Camp Solaris in Firth, Nebraska, to enjoy a day of sunshine, games, BBQ and fun. It was kind of epic, I can’t lie. (Pssst… Watch out for some hidden water balloons, especially if you happen to be playing soccer amongst the corn fields!)

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Momentary Affliction

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I went for a consult first. After years of avoiding the dentist—not my dentist, not my neighborhood dentist, just all dentists—I found myself in the reclining chair of my fears. I had a literal mouthful of problems to address, most of which my tongue could easily have told you about. A break on this tooth, a too-large gap on this one, a chip here and a chip there. It wasn’t pretty. How ugly was it? The dentist showed me. Not in a mean way, but in an educational, the-more-you-know kind of way. On his big screen he pointed out what was going on and what we were going to do about it.

Now, friends. I deal in the world of lovely images. Pretty pictures. Even the not-so-pretty ones are far more interesting to me than the state of my mouth. What was meant to be educational and instructive was, to my mind, a nightmare. Let’s just say I’m not a dentist for good reason. I don’t want to see my own mouth, or someone else’s for that matter. I don’t want to see anyone’s feet either. And though I’m fascinated by childbirth, I’m cool without seeing a cervix, too. Though I am the daughter of two nurses, I did not inherit their skills whatsoever.

Today I saw x-rays of my hands. For a decently tall woman, I have surprisingly child-like hands; they surprised the PA who commented on their delicacy compared to the burly hands she normally sees (lots of elderly men, I suppose). And like my experience in the dentist’s seat, I was shown images that I’d rather not see. Rheumatoid arthritis, up close and personal, doing its slow work of gnawing away at my joints. In the big picture, the little pictures of my hands were no big deal. The disease process has not altered my hands in two years and for that I am grateful. Really, it wasn’t until I was sitting in my rheumatologist’s office that I realized that I feel pretty good overall. Sometimes it takes a pause for reflection before I realize how good things are. But the hands revealed a little bit more. They showed tiny bits of damage. Small spots where RA is present. I was shown places on one wrist where bones were smooshed together when they should’ve been separated by more tissue.

I walked out of the office like a balloon with a tiny pinhole in it. Not utterly deflated, but reminded of the truth of my mortality. RA is working within me. And I’m battling against it with all the tools I have. But it’s there. Try as hard as I might to dismiss it, it’s undismissable.

As good as my life is, I know it won’t last forever. Whether I live on this earth for 37 years or for 73, it’s going to go fast. How glad I am that I’m made for more than this! What a relief to know that this life isn’t the only one I get to live. Though I’m relatively content with the body and life God has given me—relatively being the key word there—I really look forward to the resurrection someday. In Christ, I’m going to be a new creation. What’s true in my soul today will be true in my body. No more damaged joints—maybe I’ll do lots of cartwheels in glory? No more cavities. No more need for doctor’s appointments with x-rays I do not want to see. What a relief, this promise of Glory. It’s enough to patch up the pin-pricked balloon. For a few moments at least. ;)

Summer Connections

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In May I struggled to come up with words to explain my life, a life that was quite full of good things but for some reason didn’t feel quite right. My friend accurately said I felt “untethered.” Yes! Untethered. The schedule of the school year had just dissipated into summer vacation. A few weeks earlier we celebrated the reunification of our foster son with his mama. Our weekly bible study at Redeemer wrapped up and I completed my duties as administrator of the women’s ministries committee. There was a lot of freedom in my days. I felt untethered. Which leads me to the photo above. Ian. In the park. Free and happy on a swing.

My buddy Ian used to live next door to me and whenever I wanted a bit of companionship, his mom was there. Renae was easily accessible. As an extrovert, that companionship was highly valued! We lived on the same block as our church for quite awhile, which also meant that we’d have friends drop by regularly. But as the seasons of life shifted into new ones, and both Renae and I moved away from the old ‘hood, it’s become a tad harder to stay connected, to stay tethered to people. I daresay it requires intentionality that it didn’t before. It’s for this reason we’re doing a little something called Summer Lunches at Redeemer. Summer is the most untethered of all seasons and that can be a good thing! The freedom of vacation and nice weather and long days can be wonderful. But so can connection to friends new and old. Summer lunches are hosted at a different park every week and, in the simplest of terms, they’re an on-ramp to relationships. Every week someone will be at a park. They might have a lunch, they might have a kid or two, but they’ll be there and you can be there, too.

As I get older I realize more and more the beauty of belonging to a church body. The first and biggest beauty is belonging to God and worshipping him. But beyond that, there’s a sense of camaraderie of knowing that my brothers and sisters in the church are there to love and support me. In the most beautiful way possible, they are present. I belong. In Christ, I am tethered to them so that even in the hot summer months I have a place to know others and to be known.

This isn’t an advertisement for summer lunches or for Redeemer. But because I am who I am, I’m going to say this anyhow… If you want a place to belong, come to a summer lunch at a park with me. Or come to church with my family! I cannot think of a more lovely way to be tethered.

The Wittmann Family, Spring 2015

It’s hard to select photos to post because I love them all this time around. Little Noah and Mary utterly charmed me during our family portrait session last month. I had a strong feeling before I met with them that I’d want to soak up all their energy while they played, and that’s exactly how our time went together. They are super cute children and it felt like a complete privilege to capture these memories for their parents.

Thanks for letting me play with your family, Meagan & Ryan! You’ve got a special bunch of people to call your own.

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Summer

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Quiet Time on a Tuesday

The words came back. Floating around my mind, a phrase repeats itself here and there and I remember what it felt like to have words. To need to write. To create. To dream a little. They feel wispy still, as though they’ll be erased or disintegrate if I don’t open my laptop immediately to capture them.

I’m reminded of the word “margin” and wonder how important it is for artists to have it. There’s another word. “Artist.” I’m not meaning to be pretentious by using it, but I could tiptoe around the term and would still mean the same thing by it. Back to margin though. I wonder if having space in my life means that words have reentered my world. I wasn’t even aware they had gone and now suddenly I’ve missed them for the last ten months or so. Words! My friends!

My eyelids have gotten heavy, reminding me that siesta time is near. A well-worn ritual of my days, the afternoon nap—or if not nap, then at the very least a napping posture for reading—is here and as I walk upstairs to announce quiet time, I see my daughter in her room. Sent there to clean it, she’s about halfway done with the daunting task. I’m proud for even that half is hard to do sometimes. Laundry, toys and art supplies have been arranged in puddle shapes around her room and she, like her mom years before, is distracted by something at the moment. She’s digging in a bag of markers, desperate for black. When I finally announce quiet time, she is filling a sheet of notebook paper with blue crayon. Long blue scratchy lines are perpendicular to the perfect college-rule notebook lines. She’s happy for a kiss. I’m now glad I didn’t offer the double-stuff Oreos squirreled away in the pantry because she’s content with a mom kiss, the color blue and an hour to create stretched before her.

I suspect that it’s margin that invited words to come back into my head once more. I’ve found room in days this summer, open spaces on my calendar. I’m staying up late with my husband the night-owl and sleeping in late with an 11 year old who loves to do the same. I’m reading and reading and reading and that alone feels incredible. With no vacation yet on the books, I’ve staycating and giving myself permission to enjoy summer. It’s taken weeks and weeks since our foster baby left for me to give myself that permission. And while it still feels awkward to not know what’s next for me to do in the big picture, today words are my gift. And I welcome them.

Sneak Peek: Mary Wittmann

And the cuteness keeps on coming. This precious little one couldn’t help but collect flowers during our shoot last weekend. What a charmer!

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