Teacups in the Jungle

Life stories from a missionary mama

This is one very special photograph to me.  It is a photo of our compete family from Great Grandparents all the way down to the latest two babies. A treasure for us to keep for years to come.

But it almost didn’t happen.

After a wonderful month of us all being together from our various homes around the world (literally) Sunday afternoon came and I was kicking myself because it seemed like the opportunity to take this photo had passed us by. I was kicking myself, because I  recognize so clearly why this photo almost didn’t happen, I have seen this same thing in other areas of my life and I have been challenged to live under a different perspective. But sometimes I need to be reminded of a lesson over and over again.

Let me explain.

We were all very aware of the wonderful gift we had been given as a family to get to spend the month of July together. True, we were not happy about the reason we had to come home to California, but we are always happy to get to see our family once again we were thrilled we crossed paths with Danny’s sister and her family visiting from Colorado. From day one we all commented, promised and delighted that a family photo just had to be taken during this time. The camera was a pretty constant accessory on every trip.

The 4th of July was the first day we were gathered in one place. We were together for hours in the afternoon as the guys stood around the BBQ and we ladies watched the kids chase each other around the garden over and over again. We had fireworks, flags, home made ice cream, iced tea and there was lots of chatting and laughing as we reconnected and shared our lives. A perfect day. I remember many times throughout that day thinking we should just go ahead and get a photo of us all, we were even most of us in some sort of red, white and blue! But, the kids were having fun, and the BBQ was about ready, and one uncle had something spilt down his shirt and one baby was ready for a nap….the next time together we would get one for sure….

Celebrating together on July 4th. The start of a wonderful month of family memories and photos!

You see, we wanted the perfect picture to commemorate this time, this era in our family’s history that would be cherished by us all for years to come. There was a lot of emotion to be captured in this beautiful month of togetherness. We at least had to have no stains on the shirts! It needed to be somewhat planned, even poised and perfect of course, would be best.

The days came and went and we were together often.  Many times I had the thought, we will get a photo today, but then I forgot the camera, or one of us had to run to the store, a baby was still sleeping, we were boiling water for the corn, half of us went to Yosemite for a few days and before we knew it the wonderful days rolled us right into the last week of July. Time was getting shorter and the last days busier, so we made a plan. Sunday evening at Danny’s sister and brother-in-law’s house we would take the photo. We would take it after the babies had naps and before we had eaten to prevent spills on shirts…. and blue shirts would be best.

Sunday morning we all headed to church, and Izzy was unusually quiet. I figured she was tired with all the busy days of playing with her cousins. After church she said her tummy hurt, so we declined the invitation to spend some time with friends and got in the car to drive home. By the time we had reached the house she had thrown up in the car…..twice. This was not good. So while I bathed Izzy and put her down for a nap, Danny drove over to see the family and chat about the family photo. I knew with the Colorado bound cousins leaving the next morning to drive home this was the last night we could do a photo but they also probably didn’t want to catch some tummy bug that Izzy may have. So as I sat in a quiet house on Sunday afternoon, I kicked myself. Kicked myself for all the missed opportunities that we had been given and that we let pass us by.

We missed so many perfectly good moments to take a photo because we were waiting for the perfect moment. As soon as I realized that thought I recognized that this goes way beyond a family photo, this can happen so easily in life, my life. In raising kids, in walking with the Lord, in seeking to share the gospel, even in regards to our soul’s salvation, we can miss the opportunities right before our eyes, because they aren’t the moments that we had dreamed up in our heads, or expected that they would look like. A family photo may not be too big a deal in light of eternity but the salvation of a soul it something totally different.

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2
“Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.”

I praise God for the day that I put my faith and trust in Christ alone, and now I have peace with God for all eternity. I can’t imagine living this life without knowing Him as my personal Saviour and Friend. The Holy God of heaven and earth is listening to my prayers and I can enjoy fellowship with Him for ever and ever. There is no longer fear in death for a child of God. Everyday is an opportunity to love Him and serve Him, to know Him more intimately. The Christian walk is not about that perfect hour in church on a Sunday, it is about living and walking with Jesus through this imperfect life.

As I sat on Sunday afternoon, with no family photo, I would gladly have had any one photo of us all. Even one with barefoot kids and uncles with BBQ’ed stained shirts wearing camo shorts.  It wouldn’t have mattered one little bit. In fact, it would have been perfect because it would be us and it would be real and we would be captured at least in a frame for one moment. Our family all together, mess and all. Love and reality blended in time.

However the lesson goes beyond a family photo.

As a mama of a two year old and a one year old, there are not many days that go as I have planned.  Right now, while we are home in California I am really enjoying some extra time to read and pray each day. I love to take my Bible out on the patio with a cup of coffee and a Bible Study book, it is just perfect. I plan for this time in the afternoon as this is when both kids nap……but somedays one of them doesn’t fall asleep right away, or the other one wakes up early. My perfect hour on the patio may be over but that does not mean that there are not many other perfectly good opportunities throughout my day to commune and talk with my Heavenly Father. I am realizing I need to be purposeful with my time in this season in life. I can pray while I wash the dishes, I can listen to worship music while we drive. God is ever present, I can plan for the patio but when life doesn’t pan out the way I plan, I can rejoice that God meets us in the messes of our day and it pleases Him to hear us lift our hearts to Him, wherever we may be.

He makes the moment perfect not me.

I want to live my life experiencing the stillness God brings to my day while I seek him in the ordinary rather than waiting for life to be still so I can experience the extraordinary. I have been reminded again that in the waiting for perfect, we can miss the perfectly good, the perfectly acceptable, the perfect opportunity to know and meet God right where we are. He takes our lives, our days and all the trivial things than can take up our time and He redeems them to be Holy moments if we just lift our eyes and our hearts and gaze upon Him, acknowledge His Grace and give testimony of His faithfulness.

In these moments I am no longer just folding laundry, I am standing boldly before the Throne of Grace of Almighty God. Amazing, so humbling and extraordinarily life changing.

This photo is a special photo to us, but it has also been a timely reminder to my heart. Accept the day God gives, live with a mindset to dwell with the Lord in the midst of my imperfect days and witness His grace.  It may not be what I expected it to look like today, but it is always there.

So obviously the family photo did happen. At 7pm on Sunday night the family took the risk and deemed the photo worthy of a possible tummy bug.

The kids were getting sleepy, we set the camera on a tripod and just hoped they looked in the general direction of the flashing green light. We had no clothing color code appointed and my eyes are way to “glarey” because I was trying to tell Izzy to take her fingers out of her mouth……but it is us, it is real, it is our family picture! We laughed at our antics as we tried to keep the kids smiling at the camera and we cried and hugged moments later as we said hard goodbyes. This is life. The reality of it all and the grace that God gives merge with the longings of our heart and make moments with sick kids and hard sister goodbyes just perfect…..and somedays we even get the chance to take a picture of it all.

This post today is just a reminder to myself in this season of life, to grab the perfectly good moments this day to talk to the Lord, to teach my kids, to write that little note, to say sorry, to share my testimony with that dear lady and to have coffee with my husband. With the reminder comes a gentle warning not to miss these gifts in time while waiting for that ever changing perfect moment, which is always beyond my reach, growing in my expectations and leading me to be defeated, discouraged, disappointed and kicking myself one Sunday afternoon. That is not how Jesus wants me to live. He gives me victory, joy and grace, a promise I can believe in and claim for today.

Sharing some light in my day,
Philippa

We even got some extra photos. This is Grandma and Grandpa with the 7 Grandkids.

And this is Great Grandma and Great Grandpa with the Grandkids. 
Love these two,  sisters and also friends. 

Isaiah 55:6-7

King James Version (KJV)
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

4 thoughts on “The Official Family Photo, July 2013….just about.

  1. We so enjoy your blog…you are a gifted writer. We are praising the Lord for how He is working in your lives and continue to pray for you and especially little Izzy. Trusting in Him who carefully designed her to heal her precious little body. Thanks for the reminder that each moment with our families is perfect, when we keep our focus on our Jesus.

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  2. Thank you so much Colleen for your kind words and also your prayers for Izzy. We really appreciate this so much. These are stretching days for me, I am learning to trust the Lord in lots of new ways….and God is always faithful. Blessings to you today. Love Philippa.

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  3. Betty says:

    Philippa, this exact thing happened to us because of a fire in our area. It was our last day, in the evening with a couple tired children but we do have some precious pictures to show for our willingness to keep trying. Beautiful family pictures to take back with you, I am sure along with some great memories.

    Just want to thank you both again for making time to meet us. You started off our trip with encouraging words. Our drive to the northwest was beautiful and the couple living up there encouraged our hearts also.

    I will keep checking to see how things are going. Blessings.

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  4. Thanks Betty! Great to meet you both and yes photo are precious to be able to take back with us to the Philippines and to keep for the future.

    Hope you and Ace are well and thanks for your encouragement while we were together.

    Love, Philippa.

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