A season of change and of blessing

I am officially moved in, or at least mostly, to our new home in Milton, WI!  The place is cozy, quite, spacious, and home.  We only have some things on the walls but everything else in in place.

This is a big season of change for this Calhoun clan and we feel blessed beyond measure!  Our 15-year-old Mazda died but because of the generosity of my Mom and my Grandpa we were able to buy a new car right away – and our new ride gets 42+ mpg!  Our mattresses were damaged by a basement flood but with the insurance money we were able to buy a super cozy brand new one!  Then, with a realization that living in Wisconsin is a possibility due to the status of Citizen Way, we were able to move here to a quieter, slower world where we have found the home we have been hoping and looking for.    And, finally, I was blessed with a part-time job at Craig High School working in the library so we can hunker down on our two year goal to pay off personal loans to family members and save up for a house – all of which would not be possible on the sustainable but not yet reasonably abundant flow of cash I make through photography.

As a part of this season of change I am thinking I’ll drive myself crazy trying to keep up with week day blog posts.  However, I am thinking I can and want to maintain 3 – 4 days/week.  What I would like to know from you is what days are your favorites to check up on my material and why? This will help me gauge what day/s to take of from the blogosphere and focus solely on editing before going to the library.

I would also love to hear what has blessings have entered your life lately?

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Life is Too Short

I think life is too short to waste time not doing what you love.  If you don’t love you’re job, make it something you love or change it.  If you don’t love your marriage, put the work in and make it incredible.  If you don’t love your house, put in the time to make it beautiful or move on.   If you don’t have valuable friendships, go out and make some friends and really spend time investing in those relationships.   Bottom line, you are not doing anyone any favors by maintaining a miserable state of being.  In order to life a full life sometimes you have to be bold enough to change it.

I am not talking about the American search for happiness.  I am talking about searching for joy.  In searching for joy you are searching for the heart of God.  And that my friends, is where life starts.

Jobs consume about 25% of your life (based on a 40 hour work week).  Sleep consumes about 33% of your life (based on 8 hours of sleep a night).  Not including working overtime, commuting, eating, showering, maintaining the home, and other necessary activities, you are left with 42% of your life to work with.  Here you might spend time with your family, exercise, work on a hobby, enjoy some leisure time… etc.  I lay out these stats to specifically point out just how much time is spent at your job.  I have, and hopefully always will be, a HUGE advocate for doing the work you love, not working to do what you love.  Too many people work 40+ a week and are looking forward to the weekend the moment their Monday morning alarm goes off.  If you know you cannot love the work you are doing please seek something else.  I highly recommend picking up Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life and 48 Days to The Work You Love to help get your started.

Marriage isn’t about you.  Period.  Marriage is about your partner and growing your heart closer to Christ.  If anyone has entered marriage thinking of themselves it will be better to learn sooner rather than later that it isn’t by being served by your spouse, but by serving your spouse that will bring you joy in your marriage.  People say marriage makes you die to yourself, but I say you can only really die to yourself if you want to.  It is all to easy to stay selfish even if you’re married.

Home is the place you rest your head at night.  Whether you are living with your parents, have a crummy apartment, live in a problem house or your parents live with you, you rent a stunning loft, or own a gorgeous home, this is the place to invest some thought.  The best answer isn’t always trying to find the next best place.  Sometimes the best answer is making your current place a gem.  To get started on your own Remaking Home project you can take a look at my experience doing this HERE.

People need people.  No matter who you are.  People need people even if they are married… especially if they are married.  Any one person cannot be your everything.  That is the beauty of fellowship.  For example, my husband doesn’t want to listen to me talk about books, but my Mom loves talking about books.  I would bore my husband to death talking about photography for more than ten minutes, but I could talk about photography all night long with Laura.  And most people wouldn’t listen to me talk about my deepest hurts, but my husband and my family would listen to me until I had no words left.  Like a marriage, friendships are an opportunity for you to grow.  By truly investing in friendships you learn to die to yourself just a little more.  If your friend needs help moving, you clear your schedule and lend a hand.  If your friend lost a loved one, you clear your schedule and show up to the funeral.  If your friend just passed a major milestone like having a baby or publishing a book, you throw a party.  And remember, by loving your friends well you are not only pulling your focus off of yourself but you are loving the heart of God.

Now go love your life!

A Photo A Day | June 24 – 30

1M2Tu 3Wednesday-3 4Th5F 6Saturday 7Sunday

MONDAY Sam goes a sniffin’

TUESDAY My little tomato plants are trying so hard to grow big and strong.

WEDNESDAY We have these BEAUTIFUL flowers blooming on our property!

THURSDAY Spotted eggs are my favorite!  Farm fresh eggs = fun eggs.

FRIDAY Loved all the rain we got this week!  Thunder storms are my favorite!!!

SATURDAY Sarah + Mike Wedding (Full photo blog post coming soon! To see more of my wedding photography CLICK HERE)

SUNDAY A sweat bee visitis yellow lilies just after the rain.

Created to be Creative

I am an artist.  As an artist I show my work at various galleries on occasion and when I do I always encounter a person or two who approaches me in a sort of state of awe.  Not necessarily about my work, but about the work of having created something.  There is a group of people, perhaps even the majority, that think they are not creative.  I’ve also come to understand that this group of people thinks there are two groups of people:  creative and not creative.  I don’t believe that.  The simple truth is that we were created by the Master of Creativity and if we are made in His image, which we are, then we are not only all capable of creativity, but I would assert that we are all called to be creative.

I am not suggesting that everyone go out and buy a camera or pick up a paint brush.  I am suggesting, however, that each of us uses our innate creativity to bring beauty into our every day, ordinary lives.  Such ordinary circumstances like parenting, marriage, your home, your routine, work, dating, and eating are all areas that can, and should, be subjected to your art of creativity.

Creative Parenting

Parenting is often the root of a mommy and daddy’s existence for approximately 18 years.  I am not an ordinary parent, but I do parent two dogs and it is similar in a lot of ways.  I have found each dog to be so different in personality and demeanor, so much so that they require completely different methods of “parenting.”  I go into depth about the differences in discipline and love languages from dog to dog, or Haley to Sam, HERE.

In my case of parenting my dogs I have transformed a simple walk into a field trip to the park buried in the back of the neighborhood.  Here I can let them off the leash to romp about and play fetch.  I have also transformed the art of a “walk” itself on the occasion I strap on my roller blades and let the dogs pull me all around the neighborhood.

In the case of parenting children the same can be done.  It’s all  about transforming the daily, normal activities and making them not only more exciting and tailored to your children but perhaps even more exciting and tailored to you so you can better enjoy that time with them.  You could transform making meals into family collaboration.  In my experience kids love to be a part of the food making process.  Especially if it involves making something sweet 😉  Or maybe you could transform the bedtime routine into a game – make it a timed race, see who can pick out the craziest pajamas, cleanest teeth contest, etc.

Creating a Creative Marriage

I am married.  Josh and I have discovered that we do best when we customize the way we love to make our counterpart feel it to the full.  I’ve found that the days I’m feeling entitled to being loved a certain way by him are actually the days it is best to focus that attention outward and go out of my way to love on him.  A great way to get started in creatively and intentionally loving your spouse is by picking up Love Dare at your library or buy it (so you can mark it all up).  A less creative although very important way to create a creative marriage is by building each other up in some basic needs like prayer, going to church, dreaming together, budgeting together and MORE.  Once those basic needs are taken care of and you not only have your heart set in the right place but by going to God with your problems you will often find suddenly a creative solution is placed before you and by doing these simple things together you will find you are suddenly inspired to love more and to love better.

Creativity in your Home Space

A home is your habitat.  It is the place that is perhaps the only place you can call your own.

In nature I see so many intentional home builders.  Some male birds build nests to impress the lady they have their eye on, bees build a crazy awesome infrastructure of cubbies, beavers build dams with paramount precision, ants build ridiculously ornate infrastructures of pathways and niches, male clown fish have the job of picking out the prettiest available anemone for their mate and babies to live safely, and that’s just the cherry on the giant, seemingly infinite, sundae of creative home spaces within nature!

So, then, why is it that people often completely neglect the aesthetics of their home?  Now, wives, please to do not bring my article to you hubby and declare, “see, we do need that China hutch I’ve been eyeing!”  No, but I do advocate setting a budget to fix up the place and make any necessary purchases to bring your home to life.  And, more than that, I recommend getting creative with what you already have and see if you can’t repurpose or refurbish things you already own. I just recently finished my own Remaking Home project to infuse creativity within my home space so if you want some inspiration or motivation CLICK HERE to read more about that 🙂

Creativity in your Routine

I once read somewhere that to inspire creativity one of the best places to start is your daily routine.  I am a creature of habit in so many ways so I understand those of you who feel hesitant to give this a try.  However, I have found that with an appropriate ratio of structure and flux my needs to keep a sense of balance and inspire creativity are both met thoroughly.  For example, I set aside Mondays and Thursdays aside for a Sunshine Moment business matters and photo editing; on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I attend to business and blogging in the morning and then I devote the rest of my day to writing, homesteading, researching, or any number of other creative adventures I want to commit to (my areas of flux); Saturdays are reserved for booking shoots and more a Sunshine Moment; and Sundays I maintain as my Sabbath (another area of wonderful flux) and I never miss church unless I absolutely can’t help it.  So there, now you are all too well-informed about my daily work life 🙂

Creative Dating

Josh and I have found that our best memories are of times when we did something a little outside the box or used our money in a creative way.  Maybe there’s a free concert in the park, or maybe you want to go get ice cream, or maybe you can go on a picnic.  Get out and have some fun or stay in and invent a new activity.  The standard dinner and a movie date is particularly rockin’ when you don’t do it all the time 🙂

Creative Eating

This one is simple.  We eat every day.  Those of us that have a passion for food this is your area to get creative!  Spice up your salad, soup, sandwich, or otherwise sumptuous meal with a pop of color, a prop, placement, or presentation 🙂

These, of course, are just a few ways to spice up your life with a little creativity.  There are so many other areas of life that you can concentrate on and make them special.  I know you will find some amazing fruits out of the extra “labor” you put in!