Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Date archives April 2013

Family / Motherhood

My Crew

Many days are marked with love and simple joys. I smile and whisper thanks under my breath for all the good. There is nothing easy about being a mother, but seeing the growing, thriving, laughing and spinning fruit of my labor makes my heart so full. E has been all about “huggy hugs” these days and be forewarned, if you don’t huggy-hug the right way, on demand with the arms wrapped all the way around and a tight squeeze, you might get end up with a disgruntled superhero on your hands. E wears his Batman costume approximately 6/7 days of the week and has promised to rescue me if I’m ever falling off a bridge. Thanks bud.


Watch out for the J-Monster. He’s a rough-and-tumble type with a mean snuggle. He has recently taken and abnormal interest in doing chores of his own free will. He especially loves scrubbing anything I’ll let him touch with a soapy sponge, and you can bet that my walls and cupboard doors are sparkly these days.


This little miss is reading everything she can get her hands on. I’ll have more photos to share soon of her reading books to her baby sister. Melt me.

And this one clearly loves sitting in the grass…Have you ever seen such a lip?

Life & Faith / Thoughts


I’ve been searching for words all afternoon. Not sure I’ve found them. Except to say that you can bet I am and will be praying for those in Boston and beyond who are feeling the deep impact of an event of this magnitude. I think of the terrible injuries, physical and emotional, sustained by people and families and hearts that want to be full of faith for a world marked more by love than hate, but instead they feel doubt, fear, and anger closing in. I am familiar with the internal struggle in the aftermath of tragic events, which can be a struggle even (or especially) for those of us who were not there but imagine what else could go wrong in the world around us. I’m sure that more than one person I know will be falling asleep with heaps of questions and worries on the mind.

It is hard to understand why things like this happen. Clearly it takes forethought, planning, and execution to accomplish something like this, and it makes me uncomfortable to think about how misguided one (or many) could be to craft such a scheme. A plot to attack people gathered to cheer on a time-honored physical demonstration of the enduring spirit of humanity. What a low blow.

I guess I want to speak to the worriers (like me)…the ones who wonder what tragedy is waiting just around the corner to leap out and catch us by the throat. Awful things do happen too often. That’s true. But we cannot live ruled by fear, or even by anger…there is no freedom in either of those. Freedom can only be found choosing to be not afraid…to waste no energy on the doom of the future and spend all that we have loving, sharing, uplifting, and overcoming today’s troubles together. Freedom is found in opening our hands to receive supernatural strength, enduring faith, and unending love from God so that we can share all of those things with others in times of need. Without Him, all we have are eyes that only see the shadows, wings that are broken, and hearts that are faint.

Life & Faith / Thoughts

When Goodbyes Come


Dear friends from my childhood said goodbye to their father/husband in the wee hours of the night last night. His name was Bill, and he was a really special guy. I haven’t seen him in years myself, having moved away from my hometown and been on the move ever since, but I can hear his warm, deep voice, “Well hey there, Miss Em!” resonate throughout my heart with the little twang at the end of his phrases. I have such fond memories of much time spent with Bill and his family in my young life. My dad and Bill used to be fishing buddies, and from the time I was really young, I went along on trips and grew accustomed to catching 5-7lb rainbow trout out of their favorite fishing spot. He was a no-nonsense, hard-working, deeply loving man who invested a lot in my family, for which I am very grateful.



Because I know so many  dear friends and loved-ones are mourning his passing, I wanted to pay a small tribute to a great man. I hold the memories dear and will not forget the adventurous, genuine spirit of our dear Bill. Much love to those who need it today. May the Lord be near to you in your grief.


Life & Faith / Motherhood / Thoughts



This sign sits on my desk. I’ll confess that it is often buried under the piles that accumulate in my workspace, but I re-discover it every few days weeks when I clear down the mess and I love the small reminder that it is to me to be intentional about the environment I create in my home. It has taken me quite a few years as a married and mothering woman to get a handle on what I can practically do to bless my family each day. I’m not naturally gifted at home decor, organization, or really anything in the realm of domesticity, which is something that I’ve learned to accept about myself and also look for ways to improve.

A few years back, it dawned on me that our home was in haphazard disarray. Truthfully before then, I didn’t notice it one bit. I was too busy sorting out issues of the heart and adding children to the family to worry about a pile of laundry (or…umm…several piles of laundry), cluttery piles and unkept beds. There were no systems for anything around here. I was tired. I was overwhelmed. I had one, then two, then three children. It was a really hard season. Not until #4 arrived did I start to find myself seeing clearer and breathing in grace.

A few things have happened that started changing my world…the details of which are too many to share in this moment, although I may share soon. The short version of the story is that I went (or am going through) a personal transformation that has changed my whole perspective about who I am, what I’m here to do, and how I am to do it. And to start, I’m to let go of worry. When worry is close, faith is far. So much of my time was spent worrying and wasting all kinds of energy on things that are not the most important things. What is most important right now? My attitude. More specifically, my attitude toward my home and family.

I think about how much my attitude influences my children, and even my husband. When I’m cheerful, willing, and diligent, I find all of them are also more cheerful and responsive to me. Do you know what a gift it is to have responsive children? They’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. We have squabbles and epic messes and challenging days like any other family. But I know they hear my words, and very often, they listen closely because I am taking the time to be more thoughtful about how I speak, teach, correct and demonstrate. I think about how this home is the beginning of their story, and how desperately I want their story to start well…their hearts to start whole, full of love and wonder, and for wisdom to take root in their lives. I feel the weight of responsibility to do everything I can to sow those seeds.

The household stuff is still a major struggle for me. Every time I rally to organize a corner or a closet, I feel like I should have a cheer squad there, whistles and hollers, and a nice colorful ribbon at the end to celebrate my victory…but the ‘can-do’ attitude it takes to jump in and do what needs to be done each day with a joyful heart is coming easier with practice.


Life & Faith / Thoughts


The children spend all day imagining other worlds, playing out stories, and synthesizing a nonsensical beauty out of the most unlikely objects. They’re about my feet as I do my household tasks, and I get such a unique look into their individual personalities, weaknesses, and strengths. Inevitably, usually in the afternoon, a child comes in search of hugs and snuggles, and I’m happy to oblige. It occurs to me how very blessed I am to be surrounded by the love of my children.

Before we were married, my now-husband and I had our share of petty arguments, the worst of which was over a chicken nugget. Ridiculous, I know. But when you’re young and you don’t know how to let go of unimportant things, you pick a random thing to blow way out of proportion and fight about for hours. And I’m willing to bet most couples have at least one argument about  a completely stupid thing. Anyway, I digress. I had this great knack for choosing an unimportant issue and wrapping up all my anger, pain, and fears from past circumstances that really had nothing to do with our present disagreement, and when we got to it, I could really unleash a furious bundle of crazy on my sweetheart. More than once, when he didn’t know quite what to do, he would just wrap his arms around me and hold me in a tight hug while I fought him and cried and stomped my feet in protest. He just held on, firm but tender, until I worked it out. I fell in love with his ability to disarm me…to meet me in my heartaches and tantrums and just be there with me until I was through…in a hug that reminded me of his love, his patience, and his willingness to journey through my emotional baggage.


Over the years, I’ve watched friends in different situations, braving the storms of their lives with courage and bravado on the outside, only to realize that my unmarried friend in the middle of grad school, and my mom-friend going through a tough divorce, and my own amazing mama go for weeks or months on end without a real hug that whispers love and reminds them of how infinitely valuable they are. I’ve come to believe that a hug can go a long way for someone who has been feeling very alone. It can bring comfort where comfort is sorely needed. For cancer-mamas who worry about whether their children will live. For working mamas who spend every ounce of energy they have to be a superhero to all and stay-at-home mamas in the trenches who are at risk for forgetting what it is like to be a woman not covered in snot, spit up, and poop. For women who have longed for a baby but whose arms are still empty. It’s great to smile at people to brighten their day, but a smile is cheap compared to a hug. A hug costs something…not money, but courage to step over the invisible barrier that keeps us all safely inside our own comfort zones, to say “I am really here for you, even in the mess.” And even if the people around you look put-together, you just never know what someone is really going through in their private life.

If you’re in a tough season, I want to send out a virtual hug. If you live close, I’m good for a real hug any ol’ time. And if you are someone who just wants to encourage someone else, find someone to hug today! You might just bring encouragement to them at just the right time.

Has there ever been a time when an unexpected hug has impacted you?

Life & Faith / Thoughts

The Blog Name


I wanted to give a little insight into why I chose the name “Light and Loveliness” for my blog. The meaning of names are very important to me, and one of my nerdy personal hobbies is researching the history and significance of names and sometimes adding favorites to a long running list I’ve kept for years. That list is specifically possible baby names, and I joke with friends that I keep having babies so I can put names I love to good use, but my fascination with meanings goes beyond baby names.

I love when little details really mean something. I have realized in recent years that light is a dominant theme in my life. As a photographer, every time I look at anything, I’m thinking about where the light is, how the light hits an object, how it reflects, or how it illuminates little details that could otherwise be missed. As a follower of Jesus, I am continually discovering more about the story of God in Scripture and the evidence of God at work in my life, like a light shining in a dark place, uncovering treasures I didn’t even know were there.

And for the bigger picture, I am keenly aware that the world we live in today is full of darkness, hate, and desperately ugly things…and quite honestly, many days it crushes my spirit to see how humans treat other humans. How greed destroys the delicate and beautiful. How callous people become to the needs of others. It’s a big mess, and I have to push back. I can’t accept that it has to be this way…it doesn’t have to be this way.

Light and loveliness are what I personally want to put out in the world in direct opposition to the dark and ugly. I need to recognize and highlight it for myself, so I don’t crumble under the weight of anxiety, depression, and the gnawing ache of the soul…all things that I’ve struggled with throughout my life. Love surpasses. Love covers. Love hopes and endures. Love wins. And that, friends, is why I have embarked on this new blogging journey.



It’s kind of funny really. Starting another blog. I mean, my husband probably doesn’t think so, since he’s the lucky guy that gets to handle all my website whims and make me new spaces to write, create, and share. I won’t tell you how many websites and blogs he has made me over the years. (The honest truth is I don’t remember/can’t’s that many.) But I’m so thankful for his expertise and enduring patience with my hair-brained ideas! Thanks, my love!

So welcome to my newest blog! We’ll see how long I last before I abandon it for other things…but truthfully, I hope to pour out a lot of things here, and I do intend to stick with it. Everyday life, homeschool, mothering, soul musings, and more. I have this really annoying habit of over-thinking everything, so one goal I have for the coming months is to just share and go…and let you see the nitty gritty of my beautiful, simple and admittedly messy life. My hope is to bring a bit of sunshine and encouragement to you, wherever you are. See you around!

With love, Emily