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November2014

My husband and I visited a winery and vineyard on our anniversary and thankfully we found a few clumps of grapes still on the vine. Although it wasn’t the best time of day, photographically speaking, I was able to crouch down and get some backlit images.

I’m still doing that only-a-tiny-sliver-of-this-image-is-in-focus thing with my macro lens, but I love the detail in the grapes. And did you see how I emphasized the backlight and then used a verse with light in it? Yeah, I can be clever that way.

Download November’s Desktop Calendar!

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So 31 Days of Daily Grace begins with a desktop calendar and ends with one, too. I pray this one warms your soul as you ease into the cool of November. Enjoy!

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{This is day 31 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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We all have gifts. Some naturally sing, write, run, cook, or throw better than others. But no matter the amount of talent, there’s a level of performance you won’t exceed without practice.

Today’s daily grace uses an alternate definition of the word:

Grace noun : simple elegance or refinement of movement

As the 2014 baseball season ends, here’s to three classic plays that embody this kind of grace. [Email subscribers click over to watch videos.]

When I saw this first one, I told my husband, “That play started on a little league field when he was five years old. Years of practice makes that play happen.”

Enjoy!

Yes, practice makes perfect is more than a catchy phrase! (Pun intended.)

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{This is day 30 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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hospitality

Hospitality was the overriding theme of last week’s Allume conference: both hospitality in your home and on your blog. But the final night I received a visible lesson in where its home truly lies: in your heart.

One of the attendees, Amanda, planned an after-party, but the guests she invited didn’t come. You know that feeling when you’ve prepared for company and no one shows? Yeah, I think she felt it, too.

Instead of feeling sorry for herself or embarrassed that the employees had set up an area especially for her group, Amanda—determined to share her hospitality with someone—stuck her head out the door and invited my friends and me to join her in a cozy restaurant on Main Street in downtown Greenville, SC.

She treated us to drinks and appetizers as if we were her intended guests and welcomed us like a host sharing her home. Her heart inclines toward hospitality and she made a place for it to happen. We spent a delightful evening around an extended table swapping stories, seasoned fries, and smiles.

I even got to share my encounter with Harry Connick Jr. with a new audience. :)

Amanda’s family practices hospitality on the road as a way of life; they call it Digital Tentmaking. They paid off their debts; sold their home; and travel the world homeschooling their three small children and connecting with other believers.

Tonight I discovered that Amanda (who loves Jane Austen and banjo music, just like me) has also written about the evening from her point of view. {Don’t you just love hearing both sides of a story?} Click over to read it and meet her here!

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{This is day 29 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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The Gift of Reasonable Expectations

My sister asked me to photograph her wedding just two months after I got my first DSLR. Boy, was I nervous. I carried Scott Kelby’s digital photography books in my camera bag and read them every spare moment; drove to Nashville to attend a NAPP (now KelbyOne) one-day seminar tour; and studied like I was back in college because this was a test with stakes higher than any I’d taken.

I crafted a DSLR photography crash course and these were my Cliffs Notes.

Thankfully it was an outdoor wedding, which saved me because I didn’t know my camera well enough to be shooting a wedding much less for someone that I would face for the rest of my life. Somehow I pulled it off in spite of botched settings and not fully understanding which lens to use in which situation.

I got some shots that I’m still happy with six years later, when I know more, like the moment my brother-in-law saw my sister for the first time: the look of awe and wonder on his face while his dad (who passed away too soon after) smiled in the background.

What set me up to succeed instead of fail—nerves and all—was the knowledge that the jitters were all mine. My sister wasn’t worried; she trusted me and put no pressure there.

In her eyes I could only succeed.

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Now two of my sons are engaged and I feel the pressure again, like I need a crash course on how to be the mother of the groom. I fear failure at whatever it is I’m supposed to do and whatever it is I’m supposed to be.

But one of my sons told me last week he appreciates my and my husband’s easy nature in this wedding business and I wanted to cry. In that moment I knew the expectations upon me are self-imposed and not from him.

It’s the gift my sister gave: love, acceptance, trust.

To grant someone the grace to do their best without crippling expectations is a gift, one they might not extend to themselves. The acceptance of that gift—well, that’s another story—but there’s generosity in offering it.

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{This is days 27-28 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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“No one wants to talk about God,” he says, and something in my heart breaks both for him and the world into which he was born. In a culture obsessed with knowing the latest celebrity gossip, taking the perfect selfie, and living in the moment instead of for the future, it’s no wonder that Jesus is a tough topic transition for his twenty-something crowd.

Intellectual by nature, I know he can discuss theology with insight and intelligence, but I worry that this floundering in the shallow end of the conversational pool reflects the current depth of his thoughts and relationship with God.

Does he see Jesus as real and alive, an ever-present companion? Putting Him to the side is like leaving your best friend in the corner.

You can articulate your faith as the greatest theologian, but it means nothing if it’s only head knowledge and not heart knowledge.

Please join me at (in)courage for the rest of the story!

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{This is days 21-26 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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The Gift of Rest

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It wasn’t my intention to start a 31 days series and let it fizzle after 10, but keeping up with that schedule showed me what I’d otherwise missed: I’m burned out right now—physically and mentally—and the late nights spent writing made it worse. I don’t plan to abandon the series, but it might look different, more photos and less text.

My husband and I celebrated our 29th anniversary this weekend. We spent Saturday in the north Georgia mountain town of Dahlonega, site of Georgia’s gold rush. First we went to Three Sisters Vineyards for Swine and Wine, where we ate the best barbecue sandwiches catered by Rib Country BBQ and walked through the vineyard with my camera. I haven’t downloaded the pictures yet (the ones in this post are from my phone), but I hope I got at least one keeper.

Photographing both an apple orchard and a vineyard this fall is exciting stuff!

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Next we went to Dahlonega’s Gold Rush Days festival. Call me ambitious, but my primary objective was to find a caramel apple. When your goals are so lofty, your chance of success increases. I knew the Fudge Factory would have what I needed and they didn’t disappoint: thick, buttery caramel. Yum!

At one of the craft booths I found a necklace that was exactly me and the vendor made us a deal on matching earrings, so now I have anniversary jewelry!

We ended with a movie. No lovey dovey suspense (what, you didn’t know that was a category?), but actually the opposite: Fury, a realistic look at WWII through the eyes of an Allied tank crew. Violence, yes; language, yes; but actually a very good movie.

Anniversary weekend! #DateNight #SkyViewAtlanta

We extended our anniversary weekend with a trip downtown Sunday night. I found the gift cards I won and lost last year so we ate a free meal in a fancy restaurant and then used passes that I’d won to the new SkyView Atlanta Ferris wheel. Free is always good!

I’ll spend the end of this week at the Allume Conference, so I’m extra glad my husband and I had a full weekend together. One of the best pieces of marriage advice I can give you is this: never stop dating!

31DaysDG-LG

{This is days 14-20 of a 31 day series, 31 Days of Daily Grace. Find all posts in this series here.}

 

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