Daily Life//Life is an orange

This past weekend I got to visit my dear friend Carrie Jo Pinckard and shoot a wedding with her. Having a husband and 2 small children means that I have a lot of responsibility at home and usually I'm not spending the night with friends or even just hanging out that much, so to stay up late in CJ's house to talk about nothing and everything was really so refreshing for me. One thing I like to do way too much is take photos on my iPhone, but I realized that I never do anything with them in terms of sharing or printing them. Which, side note, is the modern day dilemma with digital photography, i.e. that we all have millions of photos on computers that never make it to actual prints. At any rate, I decided I needed to blog about my trip and post some of the shots. I have a bunch of thoughts I could blog about but the one that keeps coming to mind is about oranges. After looking through the photos on my phone I realized how colorful the world is, how interesting people are, how many sights and sounds and tastes are constantly presented to us, many of which are beautiful. It's one of those realizations that happens when you put a bunch of images together because you don't necessarily see the beauty of things when looked at individually. I thought about Carrie Jo's house that she lives in with 3 other friends, how much personality it has with meaningful artwork, salvaged furniture that looks better than what you could buy, notes written to each other in hopes of encouraging the other person as they brush their teeth. It occurred to me that life seems to be like an orange waiting to be squeezed to get all the juice out of it that you can..or really all the life out of it that you can. But it also seems like sometimes you're the orange, and you feel like others are squeezing all the life out of you! Its a weird picture, but somehow I get this vision of either being the orange or seeing my world around me as the orange. On Sunday in Knoxville we walked around the downtown area, a market square type place. I got to spend time with Carrie Jo's good friend and photographer assistant Jess and the three of us had fun walking around and having a good meal together. I had my iPhone out taking pictures of much randomness, but I did think about how it made us look for things to photograph. We noticed the lady in the Scottish outfit who might be doing a Braveheart re-enactment, the mom walking around with two little boys dressed up as superheros, or my favorite (as seen in the top row of pictures) the guy wearing the "no perfect people allowed" shirt (amen). I liked seeing how green the avocados were in the salad Jess ate and later on noticing how the light hit Carrie Jo's dining room table at just the right angle to create an awesome glow in the room. I write all this now being back in Athens, back at home with my loving husband and 6 month old Andy and 4 year old Ethan. I am tempted to go back into the "I am the orange" mode instead of the "life is the orange" mindset. But its funny how actually today in the midst of difficulty I feel like God is showing me how to squeeze more out of everything around me. Jared came home today with some not so great news about how we owe about $2,000 more in taxes than we thought (ouch), and I was struggling not to just cave in and feel hopeless about finances. I went about my normal business of changing diapers and helping Ethan wash his toy cars and thought I was doing okay. I went to pick up our pizza for dinner (every Tuesday we have pizza night- a big smile night in our house!!!) and get milk at the grocery store with Andy. While at the grocery store I reached across someone's cart to get some bananas, and the woman let me know that she thought I was pretty rude for doing that. So all the sudden I started to just rage in my heart (not on the outside- although I really wanted to) thinking, "do you know how hard today has been? do you always talk to people like this? we weren't even bumping into each other or in the other person's way!" I was pretty ticked and walked around Publix like I was going to report her to the kindness committee. But interestingly enough I picked up the pizza afterwards and the lady who worked there was incredibly kind. Then a man opened the door to help me out noticing I was carrying way too much in my hands. I thought about the lady at Publix who I had serious anger at in my heart, and then the really helpful and kind people that followed in my next few interactions. It made me think about squeezing life out of my day- seeing signs of God's good grace towards me in random people and random experiences and not to be so myopic in rehearsing and replaying only the grumpy lady who thought I was a rude banana snatcher. If I saw myself as the orange, I wouldn't be able to see the others around me trying to help me or make my day better by using words that bring life and encouragement. My children are helping me see life as an orange in the details of life that Ethan is starting to notice or the precious smile Andy gives me when I get him out of his crib. Certainly there are things like crazy tax bills and mean people everywhere and even everyday (many times in your home!), but that doesn't mean those other things cease to exist. I just find that I miss so much of the beauty in life when I fixate only on what is not working out well or different than imagined. I know this is a great deal of words to describe my thoughts on iPhone pictures, but it really has served to open my eyes and squeeze more life out of the world around me. I love pictures because they can function as a tool to help you appreciate life and be more grateful to God. I'm all about having tools to do that.  I imagine in heaven that we somehow will finally see without clouded eyes and clouded minds the real beauty of everything created and ultimately of our creator.  C.S. Lewis wrote so much about how the beauty of our lives and this world are but shadows of ultimate beauty that is to come.  Whether we find the beauty in books, music or landscape, they are not the thing itself, they are only reminders of the thing for which we are longing. Lewis writes in his essay, The Weight of Glory:

These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.  On earth we have only the scent, the echo, the news…In heaven we will finally find that flower, we will recognize the tune immediately and we will not only visit the distant country but remain there for all of eternity.

And yes, I just used a block quote when blogging (although I didn't cite it right).  My AP English teacher would be proud.  All this to say that the life around me is like an orange, but my ultimate orange is in heaven.  I just love C.S. Lewis and wish I could drink tea with him (or maybe just Starbucks lattes).  I think he had this amazing vision of heaven and God that was so colorful and rich, and could see traces of it in the world around him, even though he didn't have an iPhone.  His writing to me is another tool of helping me see more clearly like pictures so often do.  I have to include just one more quote.  Lewis said, "Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become."  Yes.  Part of why I love to write it because it enriches my life and waters dry areas of my world.  So the marriage of well chosen images and words deepens my life and brings joy to the mundane.  That was a long post about iPhone photos, but I wrote it mostly for me so it was worth it.  Off to do laundry and maybe even enjoying it.  Oh, and one last picture of the friends who injected my world with more color this past weekend... that color being most appropriately (since it was Knoxville) orange.

okay- one last thing that is kinda crazy and ironic- i had this image of life as an orange not trying to be cheesy because Knoxville is the home of UT and ORANGE everywhere- but realized that after I had the image in my head.  Then I saw the picture (in the last row above) I had taken of the big "larger than life" size orange food booth where they sold fresh orange juice (and I think corn dogs, jess).  So my orange theme is showing up everywhere! just had to share