I stroll through life following my Lord. At times, I have not liked the paths He has led me down. Some valleys have been darkened by grief and heartache; they were deep, sad chasms. But faithfully, gently He carried me. His ways are past finding out and for that I am grateful. Christ is my Rock, my firm foundation. And through His love, I am finding joy in life and peace in Providence.
It's the the little things that make life worthwhile for me. A quiet evening with my family...singing, playing games, reading the Word together. Seeing the rain splash on the driveway, hearing the thunder, seeing the lightning. Feeling a warm breeze brush my face and mess my hair. Breathing in the scent of orange blossoms on a chilly night. Laughing at old jokes with friends and creating new ones. Photographing a face of any kind: wrinkled, smooth, dark, or light. Capturing their souls, each one unique. I enjoy viewing life around me in all its forms: the developing personality of a child, flowering buds, baby goats, families gathered together, the trees growing ever taller...
::I am Anna, herein lie my daring exploits. The day-by-day adventures of Living Under Grace::

Thursday, July 15, 2010

::Water Musings::

Hear Ye!  Hear Ye!
I proclaim myself...
The QUEEN of Infrequent-blog-posting-dom!

Bow, peasants!  BOW before my skillful lack of blogging...skills.
*face palm*

Welllllll...what has been occupying my time?
The one BIG, and kinda HUGE thing that's been going on is Shiloh Adventure Camp!  This was my first year being a counselor there...awesomely fun ministry opportunity!  I was there for almost 5 weeks!
It was a nice, relaxed Christian camp with skits, mini-sermons, and TONS of awesome activities.  :)

When I was growing up, my Mom made a special point to take my sisters and I to the Keys every Summer.  I've grown up in the water...be it competitive or leisure swimming, sailing, snorkeling, beaching and shelling, canoeing, and the like.  And I pray, Lord willing, that my children will be just as aquatically-minded as me, if not more!  :)

/\ My brother and I both swam by ourselves as little babies. /\

So, considering how many water activities there were at camp, I was wet a LOT, and traveled down Memory Lane almost as often.  :)
We went snorkeling, swimming, sailing, speed-boating, tubing, public-pool-with-awesome-slide-ing, fishing, etc...
And, I must say...tubing is my FAVORITE!!!!!!!!  There's nothing like the rush of being dragged behind a boat on a tube.  I begged Chip (one of the drivers) to go hard on me for one run.  I can describe that ride with one, hyphenated word.  ;)


Every Friday at camp, we tubed. And every Saturday morning, I could barely fall out of bed.  I was so sore. But I was always hungry for more of it!  Nothing like the rush of a challenging physical situation.
I suppose that's why competitive swimming is my all-time favorite sport...period.  It combines two of my favorite things in life.
Water and a challenge.  :)


Hmmm...all this water talk makes me long for the beach.  I just looked outside...NOT pretty beach weather.
Perfect beach day: warm air, cool turquoise water, powdery sand, clear sky, soft towel, and a Wal-Mart bag.
Oh yeah, a Wal-Mart bag...for shells, drift wood, beach glass, and neat rocks.
(Unless you're my mom.  In which case you collect parts of deceased creatures, bird bones and feathers...yeah.)
Heavens to Betsey, I love that woman!!!  :D

And now, I've GOT to have some R&R or I'm gonna go loony!!  Too many late nights in a row with a camera attached to my head and a computer in front of my face for the daytime hours.
(Pretty sure I'm gonna need glasses soon if I keep this up. ;)

I leave you with a beautiful hymn.  It's one that always, always (without fail) comes to mind when I'm at the beach.
I generally end up sing it when I walk on the shore, verse one in particular...over and over.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

Soothing.  Oh, so soothing.
~Anna  :)

(PS)  I'm really missing this guy.  \/
Surrogate Brother Nolden,
Please stay safe while you're stationed in Alaska.  Know that we are praying hard for you!

Monday, April 19, 2010

::Entering the Twilight Zone::

I bet you thought this post was going to be about romantic vampires, didn't ya?  Didn't ya?!
Or perhaps about a haunted hotel with a plummeting elevator.

No?  Okay, maybe you didn't...anyway...

Tomorrow marks the 21st year since my entrance into this world as a totally depraved human being, desperately in need of salvation.

My feelings about this event have been soooo mixed, I'm not even sure what to think.  o.O
I've swung all the way from excitement over my state-instituted, official adulthood (yay...), and a sinking feeling that my time is slipping, no, flat out running away from me.  This past year has gone especially fast.
Seems as though each new year tries to beat the previous one in the annual "365 Day Sprint"...me no likey.

Mostly though, I just feel plain ole ancient!  I know, I know...I'm a Spring chicken.
(Maybe you've noticed a gray streak in my hair...that's a total joke, by the way.  Perhaps I'm letting this "old" thing go to my head. ;)
It's at this time in my life, I'm starting to be able to look around me.  Observe young children I have babysat turn into TEENAGERS!!  That's just plain wrong.  Every time I see a little one growing up, I get this actual, literal, physical sensation of going through a worm-hole-time-warping-mechanism-type-thing.
Then I close my eyes, and sigh.
On the flip-side of the coin though...I'm really excited!  Like really, REALLY excited!
Not so much about the age as the Lord's goodness.  Seems like the longer I live, the more sin I notice in my life.  "That's nothing to get excited about," you might say.  True.  But, as time marches on, the Lord is also showing what a great Savior He is!
When I look at my sin in light of Christ's goodness and atoning power, I'm amazed!
"Yes, I'm a sinner.  Thank you God for the continuing growth that is revealing these bad qualities to me.  Thank you for mercy in revealing Your Truth!  I thank you that Your grace is greater than all these sins, though they be many!"
Are you getting excited yet?!
The longer I live, the more I come to realize the Lord's goodness and might!
Then I close my eyes, and sigh.  :)

I smile a lot.  And I'm starting to really notice the effect around my eyes...and one corner of my mouth in particular.  Oddly enough, with all this "feeling old" business, the creasing doesn't bother me.
I love wrinkles you see, so long as they're happy ones. :)

Even with these special little creases forming, people still guess my average age to be 16 or 17.  Which is good, I guess.  :)
Just yesterday, my family and I performed at the church we grew up in as little girls.  And a lady wanted to use me as an example of the age she was during a certain time in her life.  (16)  Imagine her surprise when I told her Tuesday was going to be my 21st birthday!  We laughed and laughed!  Boy that was fun!


In other news...
My first card/gift arrived this afternoon.  Thank you SOOOOOOO much Mrs. Lynn!  I love it!!!
The picture has a wonderful personal note on the back.  No, you may not know what it says...them's special words betwixt two tall friends!  Hmm, I think I'll hang it on my door...  ;)

So here I sit.  Just as confused and excited as ever about being 21.  :)
At least it was relaxing!  Fun to put my thoughts down on...umm...screen...?  :)

It's right about 14 minutes till my natal day and I must away.  I've got this nice bag of chocolate (a gift) to keep me company while I stare at that calendar square.

Yay chocolate!  I hear the older you become, the slower your metabolism gets, and the more weight wonderful candies like this pack on...and the more the caffine over works your aging heart.
Oh well!  I'll enjoy this work-aholic metabolism while I've got it!!  :)

Cheers to getting older and growing in grace,
~Anna  :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

::Welcome Spring...and other randomness::

I smell Spring...quite literally.The orange blossoms are in full bloom down here. They smell especially amazing at night, the cool air holds and enhances the scent amazingly well!  :)

I've been busy.  Verrrrry busy!
Between the parties, church meetings, music performances, online classes, photography gigs, and LIFE...my posts have been non-existent recently.  Hoping to give a brief synopsis of life right now.

Well, I started reading Treasure Island today...arg.  First chapter, done!
I left Jim Hawkins in his house with an unconscious, tatood Billy Bones after a wild, bloody escapade with Black Dog the pirate.
I may have to return to that soon, the suspense is killing me.  
It's been a long time since I've read a book for pleasure, it's been mostly school recently (which is now done!).  Boy is it nice.

Last Summer, we had a TON of trees taken down.  The lack of wind "shieldage" caused this young sapling to lose it's top a week ago.  Poor little fella.  :(

I've been wanting to plant lots of new fruit trees where the old diseased orange trees grew.  I'm thinking fig.  Hmm...yes, I like figs, fresh figs!  Capital idea, me!  *pats self on back*

Also, there's this lovely tree that blooms in the Autumn time here in FL.  The blossoms come out this gorgeous coral color, the trees are awash with them from about September till November.  I WANT!!  So, when I brought up this wonderful idea to my dad, I got...the look.  That lovable, hilarious sideways glance that says, "What an interesting idea, Anna...I'm about to poke fun at it."

So he dutifully proceeds to tell me what a pain this tree is when all those lovely blooms dye and pepper the ground.  Tells me about how much work it would be.
During this nice, fatherly lecture...my eyes begin to glaze over, my smile grows plasticized, and the only thought in my head is, "But it's PRETTY!!!  I want!" 
Then, as if to further convince me of my folly, he bestows a loving name on this amazing piece of nature.  He calls it a...
Pain in the ____ Tree
(I left that word out intentionally, because I am too reserved to blog the word "butt.")
So yes...father knows best, and I have yet to plant one.  OH!  Perhaps I'll plant one all secret-like, in the dead of night.  There's an idea...yeeeees. >:)

ANYway...I love how our yard is almost completely covered with these lovely wildflowers...ahem...weeds.
They make me so happy.  :)


Bet you didn't know that this is a Parsley bloom, did'ya??
We moved our chickens to a new location this Fall.  And what was left behind but some AMAZING soil?!
We decided to stick some Collards and Parsley plants in there to see what would happen.  Wouldn't you know it...those plants are monstrous!!  This bloom is super close to my height of 5 foot 10 inches.  HUGE!

This time of year, April, means music festivals, orange blossoms, and...guess what!...my birthday!
Yes, I'll be marking another year this month.  I'm torn between having an early mid-life crisis, or, being excited to finally enter "official" adulthood.  Hmmm...decisions, decisions. 

And now...let us break away from the bondage of plant photos to a new, broader horizon!!!!!

Ahhh, singed marshmallow residue.  A little reminder of the many wonderful bonfires we had this winter.  One lasted till 3am...that wasn't planned.  Good memories...  :)

So, hmm, yes...back to goats!
AWW Matilda!!  (No joke, she's named after my grandmother.)  I love this goat!  :)

"Noooo...NO!!  Don't eat us!  We want to live!!"  X_X

I love how the Springtime oak leaves are bright green.  Our property is so spacious now that it's been cleared!

Okay, it's official...
I strongly DISlike construction!!!  These men have no respect for the sleeping population.  This morning, I was rudely awakened by the sound of banging, crashing, and thudding.  Not to mention my bedroom was shaking.  Hmph...I am sore displeased.
(By the way, I took this photo looking through a teeny hole in the lattice fencing around our pool.  I didn't want the ruffians to see me spying on them.  There's no privacy anywhere when they're here.)
Oh well, at least it'll all be over soon!  I hope.  :)

And because the weather was just that amazing yesterday, I did a mini-photoshoot with Emily amongst the weeds...ermh...wildflowers. ;)



This makes me happy.  :)

Green fingerless gloves...approve!  :)


Ah, that was nice.  A break from the real-world to do some much needed blogging.  *contented sigh*
So between the beginning and end of this post, I took a break and did a senior photoshoot.  THAT was fun.  Time with old friends, running around historic downtown, taking pictures...nice.  :)  So I should be posting those on my photography blog within the next few weeks or so.
I made a new header for that blog with some of the photos from this post.  It was relaxing.

OH...and I just posted photos from my first maternity shoot!!!  Such exciting times.  :)

Alright...I'm off to church.  Happy Thursday everyone!
Soli Deo Gloria,
~Anna Grace

Friday, January 1, 2010

::2010, Sisterly Love, and Matthew 13::

Well here I am.  It's 11:30 on January 1st...yawn.  Wanted to post a few pics from an incredibly fun photo-shoot with my sisters a few days ago.  Em, Livia and I had a blast together!!  Should be posting more on my photography blog in the coming weeks.


I was up very late (or early :) new year's eve.  Played games with some wonderful church friends until the wee hours of the morning, and beyond.  During that time I discovered that Last Word is not my strongest game, I can play ping-pong at 3:45 in the morning (though not really well), I LOVE white cheddar Cheeze-Its, Brazilian Uno can be rather violent, and my laugh lines are deeper now.  :)  Didn't go to bed till 7:45 this morning, woke up at 4 this afternoon.

When I got up this afternoon, my mind moved to the generic new year question:
So...are you making any resolutions?

Let me tell you, I've been thinking about that all day.  I've laughed off the idea several years in a row; haven't really thought anything of it.  But today, this year...I did.

Should I give up unhealthy foods?  Cut down on movies?  Do I need to exercise?  Focus hard on my photography?  Practice fiddling more regularly?  Resolve to keep my room in better order?  Clear out unnecessary clutter?  Work harder to help my family around the house?
To all these things I could only answer...yes.
As I continued to ponder the ever-growing list of "resolutions", I realized something.
Though all these things are good and honorable in their own right, they are only the surface.
I need to dig deeper.


I read this short passage several weeks ago:
Matthew 13:1-9
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.
And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.
And he told them many things in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,
but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.
Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  
Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
He who has ears, let him hear.
(italics mine)

I am a sinner, saved by Christ's grace.  The Lord was kind and sowed seeds of salvation in my life.
He prepared my heart to receive this wonderful gift, made it into "good soil".  Praise His name!!
In regards to New Year's Resolutions though, I was reminded of this phrase:
and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
This should mean something to me as a Christian.  It's truly amazing that the Lord saved me.  I feel gratefulness for that every day.
But am I showing fruit?  What kind of planting of the Lord (Is. 61:3) am I?  Do I bear a hundred, sixty, or thirty fold?
Honestly, sometimes I don't even feel like I'm at five fold much less thirty.  But I want so badly to be at a hundred!!


I'm grateful that Jesus didn't give us all ONE number to shoot for.  We're not all alike, and each life has its own set of circumstances.  No matter our differences though, we are to bear fruit.

In short, my New Year's resolution is this: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
(Read my Bible often, spend time in prayer throughout my days, joyfully participate in family and church life, tell others of my gratefulness to God, praise Him in all areas of life, set a good example for my younger sisters, etc.)


It is my prayer that in doing these things I will magnify the Lord and show Him to others.   Ministering to my family, that first great mission field.  That I may be called the planting of the Lord, bearing fruit in His name.  Perhaps producing as much as thirty, sixty, or even one hundred fold.

A very resolved young woman,

Thursday, December 24, 2009

::Last-Minute Christmas Gift Idea::

Okaaay, so it's more like a last-SECOND gift idea.  :)
So, if you're anything like me, Christmas shopping kills you because you want to find that perfect something for your special sister or father, and you haven't seen that something anywhere!!
By now, Christmas Eve day, you are nigh unto pulling your hair out because of this lack-of-gift.

Usually, it's around this time that I remember a gift I used to give as a child.  Something that everyone loved...and always used within 3-4 minutes of receiving.
A coupon book.  But not just any coupon book!

It's when I can't find anything "good enough" that I remember time is the most precious of all gifts.  We are given one life...that is all.  The Lord appoints us a certain number of days with those we love.  We choose how to spend those days.
I want to give all my hours to the Lord's work in loving those He has so graciously given me. 
What better way to "gift the hours" than to give special coupon books for unique activities with the ones you love most?

Here's what to do:
Firstly, you must ban all recipients of these gifts to other quarters while working. 
(Yes, Dad naturally falls into the "hard-to-buy-for" category by simple virtue of his manhood. :)

Personalize!!  I chose some fancy paper colors that I know Olivia loves.

Next, I wrote down some activities that I knew Livie and I would enjoy together.  Just brain-storm for a little bit.

Then, I wrote each thing on an individual slip, taped them to the colored paper, and punched holes in the corners.

This is the cover card.  I embellished the front with some coordinating buttons...easy.

Cut tiny slits in the holes on all the "coupons" (NOT the cover card though). 
This will help them tear off easier when Livie wants to redeem them.  :)

Here's the list of coupons I ended up with, as they appear on the cards:
-A free bike ride...
-One thrifting date together...
-Good for one sleepover in my room...you and me!
-A movie night together.  Let's make popcorn!
-I'll meet you in the back yard for a wrestling match!  :)
-Let's play one afternoon!
-A long hug...whenever you need it.
(Yes, we do wrestle.)

Ta-Daaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!   Just tie it together with some ribbon and there you have it.  A nice little coupon book with personalized activities.  I can't wait to do all these things with Livia.  I really hope she likes it.  :)
I'll be working on Dad's book too...that's gonna be a bit of a challenge.  :)

Speaking of little hand-crafted gifts...CHECK THIS OUT!
My dear friend Mandy MADE this for me, can you believe it?!?!?  She is so incredibly talented!  The whole entire thing is about the same size as a little match box.  It's so beatiful I just had to share it.  I've got it on a little shelf in my room, looks perfect right there.  :)  Thank you Mandy...I LOVE IT!!! 
Christmas is almost here!! 

~Anna  :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

::By Popular Request::

Here is the link to my photography blog.  Yes.  There are, in fact, some pictures from HANNAH AND PETER'S WEDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!  ahem.  So, check them out if you so choose.


Anna :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

::Pulling Weeds::

You're out in the yard, working. There it sits, growing heartily in your flower/vegetable garden, right where you don't want it!  A weed the size of a pogo stick is staring at you, laughing at you...it's been ignored too long. You sigh deeply, wringing your hands, thinking about the pain it's going to be trying to yank that beast up.

You give it a go.  Straining, tugging, and grunting the whole time.  You come up for a breather, only to discover that your hands are stiff and sore from the strain.  "Oh whatever," you think, "I'll just go get my gloves.  That'll help me grip it better."  And off you trot to get those garden gloves that the nice people at Lowes were only too happy sell you.

Again you try, with more grunts and tugs, but to no avail.  Perhaps you even try wrapping that long growth around your hand...yank.  "Ouch!  Forget that!" you think.  Then, you reach for the big gardener toys...a shovel or clippers.  You almost hesitate digging up the weed, thinking about the eyesore that will be left in its place.  But no, it must come out.  The health of your beloved plants is at stake!  So dig you must.

After the horrid vegetation comes out with ease, you think, "By Jove! (or something like that)  Why didn't I think of this before?  It's much easier!"
Then away you walk, tossing the weed into a trash can.  All the while cheered by your sensible use of shovel.

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Hebrews 12:14-15
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;  (italics mine)

If your mother is anything like mine, you've probably heard this analogy before.  :)


Sin, is a horrible "weed."
Sometimes I notice a little sprout and think, "Gee, I'm kinda busy right now and it's still small.  But I'll take care of it in a few days."  And then (wouldn't you know it?) there I am weeks later trying to rid the yard of a monstrosity. 

My sin is the exact same way.  It thrives on neglect.  Like a weed, it pops up right where I don't want to see it.  I groan after realizing I've allowed it to fester so long.
So I try to yank it out on my own...no good.  My "sin garden gloves" won't cut it either.  Even when I try to "wrap" the sin around my hand for a good grip, it only ends up hurting me.

You see?  I can't rid myself of deep sin roots with my own two hands.  That's usually about the time the Lord gives me the idea to read His Word (use a shovel).  Oh, what a difference a tool it makes!
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Tim. 3:16-17 (italics mine)
I can use instruction that the Bible gives me against sin, the same way I would a shovel on a weed.
It cuts it!  :)

(PS)  Post dedicated to my Mom...I love you!  :)