On Race, the American Flag and Following Jesus

flag_protest

I have a world of conflicting emotions when I say something that roughly half of my friends disagree with. There’s a desire to cover it up, like I want to post lots of frivilous kitty videos to make sure we’re all okay with each other. And yet, in my moments of strength, I’m willing to fight for the injustice I see with enormous amounts of conviction. That’s why I posted Michael Rose-Ivey’s press conference video this past week. I see injustice.

A lot of you see disrespect. I realize that allegiance to the flag means more to you—whether it’s a generational thing or an occupational thing—–than it does to me. I grew up saying the pledge in school, and I really love singing the national anthem; I take a lot of pride in it actually. But I don’t feel the same amount of frustration as many of you do when football players don’t stand at attention, facing the flag, with their hands over their hearts. (What I do see is some sad men who have listened to their consciences and are following through with a protest against our nation’s ability to turn a blind eye to injustices that they themselves are not experiencing.) While I wholeheartedly support our military personnel—today and in days past—I have heard over and over again that men and women died for the opportunity to live in a country where people disagree in a multitude of ways. And like it or not, the flag represents that freedom.

What I really see is that we have a trust issue at play in our nation. A lot of people don’t trust that certain black men and women are telling the truth about the way they’ve been treated by authorities. I recognize this trust issue, to a very different degree, because I have had people in my world who do not trust my ability to make good decisions for myself when it comes to my health. The fact that they question me, drill me, tell me they’ve found other methods for my treatment indicates a lack of their trust for me, as an educated adult, to seek the answers I need for my own welfare. Though race issues are different, I firmly believe we have a listening problem and a trust problem.

To my fellow Christians, or people who claim to be followers of Christ, we ought to be disturbed by our fervor for the flag OVER our fervor for Jesus and the very people he died for. In our nation and around the globe, Christians are being persecuted because they are Christians, and yet I’ve heard more outrage over the American flag and a song celebrating it than concern for those murdered during a prayer service in Charleston a year ago. Why is this?

A big thanks goes out to the friends and family who have dialogued with me this past week even as they disagreed with me. THIS is where unity begins, in dialogue, in empathy, in trying to see life from the other’s point of view. Surely we can figure out how to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn, whether they live next door, on the other side of town, or across the world.

Magic Scotch Night

Two or three nights a month spirits are poured and cards are played in our basement. I love having these guys (and sometimes girls) over and I love watching Jeremy’s use his gifts of hospitality.

magic_01

magic_02

magic_03

magic_04

magic_05

magic_06

magic_07

magic_08

magic_09

magic_10

magic_11

magic_12

When Concrete is Your Canvas

chalk_01

chalk_02

chalk_03

chalk_04

chalk_05

Labor Day Weekend 2016

01

02

03

04

05

05_1

05_2

06

07

12

13

14

15

08

09

10

11

The Work of a Friday Morning

tomatoes_bigandlittle

bananas

Week Two of Liv-goes-to-middle-school is winding down and Week One of Bec-goes-to-grad-school is almost in the books, too. There is a new normal in the Tredway household, and no matter how fantastic the new normal is, it always takes some getting used to.

Livia and I are are getting up earlier than ever to make it to her first bell and this requires some advance planning. Lunch made, clothes laid out, alarm clocks obeyed, backpack packed, etc. The early start time means I am free to work earlier as well, though my new student status is still being explored and placed into a manageable routine. I’m used to moving quickly and I don’t sit still often in my usual tasks as photographer, writer, household manager and church volunteer. I have a to-do list and it often involves calling, emailing, arranging details all while throwing laundry in the wash or running to Target for toilet paper. Academic work is something else. Large passages of text need to be consumed. Hours of lectures need to be heard and, most importantly, understood. Notes should be taken and classroom involvement—even in the online context of my coursework—is necessary. I’m still figuring out how to accomplish this new role, and sometimes how to marry it with my other tasks.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned today: doubling a banana bread recipe AND listening to a lecture (and taking notes) is potentially disastrous. I ran to jot down a note and then looked at the bag of flour, all neatly rolled up and waiting to be placed back in the pantry and simply couldn’t remember if I had doubled it or not. I leaned on my years of experience of baking and decided the batter would let me know, only…it didn’t. I couldn’t tell! So basically I put two pans in the oven and waited to see if I ended up with banana bread or some version of banana pudding that only I would eat.

I got banana bread in the end.

Whew.

Here’s to a new chapter of life, a new adventure of studying the Life and Letters of Paul (via Covenant Theological Seminary)—and doing it, Lord willing, with excellence.

Our Story of Raising an Only Child

onlychild_001

I’ve often thought that God made babies so darn cute so that their parents continue to take good care of them. I’ll never forget holding our first foster baby from 3-6:00am one night, her giant brown eyes following me in the dark, and my two competing thoughts were, “WHY AREN’T YOU ASLEEP?” and “Gosh darn it, you are SO CUTE.” The world tends to adore babies, and when you’re up in the night for three hours straight with a newborn, those compliments you receive on social media might be the only thing keeping you going. Well, that and coffee. But babies grow. The compliments fade. And eventually you have a kid with gawky teeth who is taking awkward school pictures that even retake day can’t fix. Everyone loves a baby, but not so much the elementary kid whose has teeth five times too large for his mouth. Mama, Grandma and your BFF still love that one.

I don’t get asked childrearing questions very often anymore and I think it’s because I have one child who is now 12. Oh, and maybe it’s because I do a lot of my living alongside someone who blogs about parenting. She’s a professional question-answerer so that makes sense. A lot of my parenting experience, however, is hidden and no one can see it. I did the math recently and realized that if God had answered many of my desires for children with “yes’s” rather than “no’s” Jeremy and I would have six children. One privately adopted, one biological, and the final four adopted from foster care. For sure we still have those six in our hearts, with only the first one being the child God has given us to raise for good.

Our plans, as hopeful as they were, didn’t turn into our reality. I’m still coming to terms with this truth. I allow little daggers to enter my heart, to pierce those old desires and entice me to “what if’s” and “if only’s.” I let the memes and defensive lines from large families hurt my soul. I wanted to be one of those large families. I read about people who have more children because they value sibling relationships greatly, and I struggle to not to be filled with regret. As capable as I am, providing a sibling for Livia was not something I could arrange. I hear jokes about only children, about how spoiled they are, and allow these asides to fill me with irritation. I didn’t plan on one, I want to shout. I had hoped for more.

There was Livia. And a baby miscarried. And a very temporary foster daughter. Two foster sons gone home by a judge’s changed orders. And a beloved foster baby reunified with his beautiful family. Six total.

But that’s only the six that reside most deeply in our hearts. There were more.

There was the baby boy we got incredibly close to adopting, only to have his parents choose the other couple. There was the teenager we prayed over, raised in absolutely horrific conditions who, in the end, required much more than we could give. There was the toddler we spent the day with a small town nearby, the one we bought a stuffed animal for and fed Runza fries to, the one given to another family within 24 hours of coming to live with us permanently. There was the three year old girl who needed a family, the one who the state placed elsewhere with no reason whatsoever given to us. And in between those cases there were calls upon calls with hours upon hours of waiting for information, prayers of all kinds being raised up for wisdom and perfect timing.

So when I read a meme supporting large families or see beautiful pictures of siblings loving one another, I think of our story and have to draw a conclusion. Here is the one I’ve settled on:

God has created my family. And he is pleased to give me one child.

One daughter. One twelve year old now in middle school. No siblings older than her, and no siblings younger. But this is our one, and she is enough. I felt God asking me that question, the question of, “What will satisfy you?”
“Will another child make you content?”
“Why is one not enough?”
“When will you be satisfied?”

In my tears and sadness I had to admit that one is enough. ONE IS ENOUGH. Though I’ve been a mother to many and will carry them forever in my heart, one is what he’s given to me to care for daily and that. is. enough.

We all have different stories and no two stories are the same. No one’s story can be read entirely via a Facebook status or a picture on Instagram. We all have hurts and we all have joys, and to compare our stories will never bring us satisfaction. At the end of the day I cling to God’s promises and the knowledge I have of his character. He is good, he provides for ALL my needs, he is never asleep on the job, and I will only find my hope and joy in him. Not in babies, as cute as they are, and not in big kids in all their awkward glory. No job can complete my spirit, no spouse is perfect like God, no amount of travel or fine dining or hobbies or education can ever fill up my heart. It’s a real challenge to keep my eyes on the Lord and trust him, but that’s the goal, that’s MY goal, and He is where my soul will always be refreshed.

onlychild_01

onlychild_02

onlychild_03

**Note: Each image above represents one of the other children God has given Jeremy and me, for short periods of time. I carried a baby in my womb to the Grand Canyon upon our visit to Arizona. I remember getting carsick as we drove mountain paths and more than once I chose vegetables over french fries even though that was not my norm. I now feel incredibly grateful for such an eventful short pregnancy as I recall the little life I carried at that time.

The black and white image shows Livia with her first foster sister. What a joy she was even as I was stretched by sleeplessness! The second photo shows Jeremy and one of the little boys we had the privilege to love for five weeks. We anticipated a much longer journey with them, and I believe this image was captured the night before they went home. It was a stunning departure. The final image shows Livia and me on a train ride with our last foster baby. This little guy had lots of people in his life who adored him and we got to walk through that experience with his family, which was a privilege all its own. I still count his reunification as a huge joy.

First Day of Middle School!

firstday_grade6_01

firstday_grade6_02

firstday_grade6_03

firstday_grade6_04

firstday_grade6_05

Reading your sixth grader’s baby book the night before middle school starts is a surefire way to conjure up feelings of MY BABY IS GROWING UP SO FAST! As I looked at all the number sixes in chalk on my driveway, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how grown up Livia is now. I’m so very proud of my smart and beautiful kid. She’s a remarkable person and I’m excited for her adventures in middle school to begin today. She is ready—look out, world!

Father God, bless Livia and all the other kiddos starting school today. Remind them you go with them all day long, that you care about things both big and small. Give them courage and excitement and deep peace where there’s anxiety. Fill their hearts with compassion, kindness and joy for each other and a passion for learning. Make this day a good one, Father! In Jesus’ name, amen.

PS: And Lord, thank you for the Moreheads who love Livia well year after year. She knows now about the “surprise” on the driveway and anticipates the celebratory words in advance. What a sweet gift to have friends that love your child. Amen.

********************************************

Updated to add links to all first day shots!

Kindergarten
First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade

A Bevy of Bradley Charmers

Sometimes a photographer asks a few subjects to test the light for her, and oftentimes it’s the girls who want to model most. I am not sorry at all for the gorgeousness captured in those moments of testing. Here are a few of my favorites.

r_bethany_02

r_bethany_01

r_carrie_01

r_teddy_01

r_bethany_03

Washington Vacation [set 1]

01

Our first leg of the trip involved getting up at 3:00am to catch a 5:00am flight out of Omaha. We bested this start time on our return flight, which left Seattle at 5:00am and had us all waking up at 1:45am. But we successfully did it and no one died. Yay us! One strategy for traveling with good attitudes is to travel with friends. A lot of smiles are shared, even when brushing your teeth dorm-room style before 2:00am.

02

Marc and Kerri have the most beautiful views from their home. From the front deck you can see the Puget Sound and, if the skies are clear, the Cascades beyond it. Behind their home is an old golf course path, perfect for walking the dog or taking in some fresh air.

03

04

05

My soul is deeply refreshed by salt water. Thank you, Jesus.

06

07

It’s not vacation without the proper snacks. Doughnuts are a welcome addition to any excursion.

08

Flowers everywhere. The Pacific Northwest does flowers WELL.

09

10

11

12

Jen brought a good camera on the trip. I can’t wait to see what she captured. I shot everything with my iPhone this time around.

13

14

15

We hiked up to Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park. It felt like the perfect little hike for our afternoon. After that we walked over to Lake Crescent Lodge and ordered drinks to enjoy on their front porch. The trees, wildlife, cabins, lodge and lakeside views were absolutely incredible. Visiting this part of the world is like pressing a refresh button on my heart.

16

17

18

19

Garden Babies

tomatobabies