Light and Loveliness

Reflections of Emily Sue Allen

Date archives July 2014


Summer Fun

We’re having a heat wave here in Seattle. I know its a bit warm for some, but honestly, I’m so thankful for the sun and the fun things we get to do in it. I’ll let you guess who likes water more than anyone else in the family.

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 30/52

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211. sunset session, 212. water fun, 213. forward progress, 214. after-bedtime quiet, 215. introspective reads, 216. ikea, 217. sara groves song lyrics, 218. simplicity finding its way, 219. photos on the walls, 220. saying no to the good to say yes to the best, 221. request for snuggles, 222. unloading the unnecessary, 223. kitchen sink prayers, 224. school books coming, 225. tenderness

Creativity / Family

Birthday Party for a Creative Child

Daddy bought her flowers for her birthday. She turned 8 last week. Oh man. That is just weird. I think it was about 3 blinks ago that she was a toddler, and here she is genuinely appreciating a bouquet of flowers with the best of ’em. She’s the kind that savors life….breathes it in, pours stuff out so she can really see it all, touches everything, and lives with perpetual enthusiasm.

She has taken to wearing a pink feather in her hair. It was originally held in her hair by a crimp bead, but after we took it out to tame the nest around it, she tied the feather onto a headband and there it stays. You would never know that the flower photos and the cake/party photos were taken days apart from each other because that headband stays on all the time.

We always do more understated birthday celebrations. For me, it is more important to give the kids a fun/meaningful experience and time together with a few loved friends than to have a zillion presents come into the house and a million friends that you barely get to say hello to before the party is over. This year, for this creative one we did a small home project/craft party, at the birthday girl’s request.

She decorated the house on her own with pink zebra striped streamers and a roll of packing tape (not pictured). Awesome.

For the cake, she wanted to make a cake from scratch and decorate it herself. I wasn’t feeling up to the from scratch part of that equation, so we compromised and got a white cake from Costco and some supplies for her to add her own flair to the decor. She had a fantastic time coloring up that thing.

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 29/52

For the party projects, we did fuse bead creations (not pictured) and some simple appliqué on pre-made canvas bags. As is normal with our parties, the main activities were also the party favors! I’m not much for trinkets, so I always gravitate toward favors that can be useful or longer-lasting. The girls all seemed to love being able to create their own personalized totes. I just raided my fabric remnants and pre-ironed the fabric adhesive on the back before they cut out their shapes.

It was a simple but sweet affair for my sweet girl. Fun way to celebrate 8!

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196. crazy candles, 197. sweet birthday girl, 198. the help and company of a dear friend, 199. the friends who helped eat cake leftovers so I don’t eat them, 200. blue, yellow, orange and white fabrics, 201. astronomy facts that boggle my mind, 202. reconnecting with old friends, 203. finishing a good book, 204. sweet days at home, 205. hard lessons that lead to growth, 206. cardboard handprints, 207. cooler days after a heat wave, 208. finding my fabric scissors I forgot I had, 209. peace that truly surpasses all understanding, 210. helpful kids

Family / Life & Faith

Celebrating 9 Years & Family Photo Review

It seems only fitting to post something on our anniversary in celebration of this crazy ride we’ve been on. Of our many adventures, lessons learned, love shared, and life lived in these nine years, my favorite parts are the ones where we have grown our family, our love, and our hearts by surrendering ourselves to God’s plan for us. The days can be really hard at times, but so very good as well. This pile of people have challenged and inspired me in ways I probably still don’t fully understand.

I am humbled and so grateful for the life we have together, and so proud of the father my husband has become. He can be a little gruff on the outside, but don’t let that fool you. There is no one who can make me laugh like him, and he is really the best dad ever. I see my kids flourish because of how invested he is in this fatherhood gig, and in an age where a lot of dads are missing from their kids’ lives for one reason or another (physically or emotionally), I’m so proud of the fact that he has made the sacrifices he has in order to make their lives full of good memories and a committed father’s love. He has a servant’s heart through and through, and I love him for it.

For those who have maybe missed the many family photos we have taken this year as part of my 1 photo a week project, I’m including them all in this post for fun. I love seeing them all together! As far as I can tell, they are mostly in the right order. http://solacearts.com

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. These are the first 28 weeks!

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181. love that grows with time, 182. that guy i married and our nine years, 183. family togetherness, 184. leftovers lunch, 185. gym successes, 186. vitamin D, 187. freedom from inner-heart battles, 188. happy face stickers, 189. m. grace bossypants, 190. little sleepy person snuggles, 191. grace for hard days, 192. getting stuff done, 193. cheese, 194. closing of a chapter, 195. hair feathers

Family / Life & Faith

Chubby Cheeks & Anniversaries

Two weeks ago I deleted Facebook from my phone. Life is better without Facebook on my phone. My mind is clear. I’m not worried about a thing. It’s nice to not be hearing about every horror and disaster in the world as it unfolds. I haven’t managed to stay 100% off of Facebook, but I have significantly reduced the amount of time I give to it (just minutes a day), so thats good enough for me. I am also really soaking up life in a way I haven’t in a long while. I highly recommend disconnecting.

I planned to spend this month writing, but honestly, I just can’t write at the moment. There are many important/deep things stirring, but it seems like I am in a space where I need to sit with those things and wrestle a bit, and the writing about this journey will have to come later. In the meantime, I offer some sweet faces to brighten your day. They brighten mine!

Also, tomorrow we celebrate 9 years of wedded bliss. There have been bumps big and small (and not just the baby bumps), but I would never trade ’em. The bumps and our responses to them are what make love stretch and grow and strengthen over time…Something I’ve learned in these 9 years? I ask myself daily what I can do each day to love my spouse well. Little things, big things. That whole 100/100 thing will get you places. Happy anniversary, my love.

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 28/52

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166. morning smoothie, 167. fitness coaching, 168. treadmill time, 169. new books, 170. stellar back rub, 171. vbs enthusiasm, 172. clarity, 173. how love disarms, 174. redemption, 175. life together with six fabulous people, 176. unfathomable kindness, 177. 9 years married to my sweetheart, 178. the death of seasons, 179. flower conversations, 180. facing fears together



Spent the holiday with dear, old friends and had a splendid time of it.  They have a sweet backyard that they tricked out for maximum fun, especially for the kiddos. It was so fun (and there was so much food) we decided to party two days in a row. They put together a teepee, a lawn-sized ball game (I forget the name at the moment), and some water activities. There was some bug-hunting going on, marionberry picking (and eating, of course), s’mores, sparklers, and lots of laughter. The best kind of holiday. And let me just say – to have someone else put effort into making a wonderful experience for my kids – seriously the biggest blessing.

One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 27/52

This game was the highlight for the 2 year old. She laughed hysterically every time the balls fell down. It was awesome!

This was the totally relaxing scene where we ate and talked together. Couldn’t have been more relaxing.

I’ve known these two for many, many moons. Long before love and marriage and babies and stuff. Good memories from then and now. And would you know it, TODAY is their 7th wedding anniversary. Love has truly multiplied. Happy Anniversary, friends!

And this cake? So yum.

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151. vegan strawberry coconut cake, 152. enduring friendship, 153. costly freedom, 154. fire-roasted s’mores, 155. sparklers, 156. celebrations, 157. baked beans!, 158. repeat fun days, 159. teepees and fun for the kids, 160. kid-made bug houses, 161. settling peace, 162. self-discovery, 163. light in the night, 164. family pizza night, 165. secret sewing project for a friend


Life & Faith / Motherhood

Wisdom Conversations

We started cracking the Bible before bed. A chapter in Proverbs each night, read aloud to my 4, 6, and 7 year olds. I start with a few verses at a time, reading word-for-word from my preferred translation, followed by a brief re-telling in kidspeak. The re-telling is my best attempt to make the ideas tangible and real to them…to take concepts that might otherwise seem beyond their understanding and share them in a way that might sink in. I bumble over explanations and search my mind for familiar analogies to connect the dots in their young minds. I worry that I might get it all wrong, and then a moment later decide that stumbling through together is better than not engaging the Bible at all.

The bread of life.  I want them to learn how to take it in, to explore and digest it. To examine it all over and dig deeper. For their ears to hear truth and recognize it in their hearts. What they choose to do with it from there is up to them…but I trust the seeds planted will produce a harvest in the proper time.

I ask for questions and the hands shoot up with exuberance that surprises me. Every time. They have many questions. Insightful, challenging, honest questions. Questions about what a word means. Questions about wisdom…what it is, what it looks like, why we need it. Questions about choices and consequences. I fall over my words but try my best.

We talk about real life examples of wise and foolish choices. This practice has given us a much-needed springboard into a new season of their lives. Although young, they are inching toward independence (whether I like it or not), making increasingly more decisions for themselves that will require them to know how to determine if a choice is wise or not. This is one area in which I desperately do not want to fumble the ball.

So we talk about it. About how sometimes we want to make the wise choice, but we fail to do it. How it takes God’s help to make wise choices, and how He will give us wisdom if we ask for it. How He loves us no matter what, even if we have been foolish, and how His love covers a multitude of sins. How wisdom helps lead us to joy when we choose it, and how foolishness can cause us to hurt ourselves or other people even if we never meant to.

I have to say, I really am surprised by the level of interest, curiosity, and understanding that has come back to me through this activity. I really need to learn to not underestimate my children.

*photos from a few months back I never had a chance to post

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“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

136. new friends, 137. dinner out with a gift card, 138. exuberant waves from my oldest, 139. party planning, also with my oldest, 140. bouncy house, 141. discovering old photos I missed, 142. cuddle time, 143. smoothing out the kinks, 144. clean downstairs, 145. quiet to think, 146. washable markers, 147. forward progress, 148. health, 149. sunshine, 150. new journal

Creativity / Family

On Planes & Passion

He is my grandfather by marriage, but I feel like I have known him forever. I have seen the twinkle in his eye plant seeds of wonder and adventure in my children’s lives, and I attribute many of my husband’s strengths to his lifelong love and influence.

He has a childlike, nonsensical way about him. He tells the kids that wild bunnies live in our yard. Every time he visits, he takes them outside with a lettuce and carrot offering for the bunnies, so they won’t be hungry. The bunnies always nibble just enough to keep all the kids convinced they truly do live in the yard, even though they’ve never seen one out there.

We have special Grandpa Mac storybooks…ones that contain special hidden hand-drawn pictures on each page that you have to find every time you turn. Ladybugs, kites, flowers, etc. No storybook is complete without them.

Then there is the airplane room…the magical place where the kids sleep when we visit. They fall asleep by the glow of the bathroom light with dozens of skillfully crafted miniature war planes overhead.

Every plane is made by hand from raw materials. He first researches all there is to know about a specific pilot or mission and the associated aircraft, then he sets to work, creating these miniature models of the plane with skill, precision, and no small amount of passion. He has made them for years, and now there are dozens, if not hundreds of them in existence. Even though they are not mine, I treasure these planes along with the man that made them.

Mention anything about planes or any of the American wars and you’ll have his attention in a quick minute. He is invested in preserving history in his own little way. I love hearing the details about each plane and what inspired him to build it. The attention to detail and craftsmanship is truly astounding.

A heart’s passion turned into planes.

During our last visit, I asked Grandpa Mac if I could photograph some of his planes. We photographed the planes in the backyard, suspended by fishing line in front of a a piece of cardboard he spray-painted to look like sky. I thought about photoshopping out the fishing line, but decided I rather like seeing it. This is a small sampling of the planes…there are many more that we were not able to photograph for one reason or another. For size reference, they are each about 6-7 inches in length.

It occurs to me that when the art we make truly matters to us, we create with deliberate intentionality. Passion for anything isn’t a static thing…it is a dynamic expression of what we value. I’ve been a bit spoiled to have digital photography as my form of art for the past decade…the instant gratification of the single (thoughtfully composed) click of a button. But I’m venturing into forms of art (sewing, writing, raising children, living life) that require a lot more time investment, infinitely more patience, and grace for myself and my shortcomings. I’m learning to breathe deep and approach life and art with careful intention. Clearing space and my mind to focus on little details that make all the difference.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

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121. bunny jammies, 122. swedish pancakes, 123. puppet workshop, 124. baby giggles, 125. sleepy smiles at every storybook picture, 126. small reminders to take my time, 127. music that lifts, 128. friends that pray, 129. deep breaths, 130. knowing many passionate people, 131. grandpa’s stories,  132. warm days, 133. banana bread made by an almost 8 year old, 134. taco dinner made by the six year old, 135. the many ways a person’s legacy manifests