Saturday, September 24, 2016


Black, white, grey, orange, blue, red, purple, yellow, turquoise, brown, green, pink....and so on and so on.  Colors....they make things so lovely in our world.  Don't ya think?  In some parts of the world, colors can change the looks of things, depending on the season:  when grass goes from emerald green to light gold, or leaves turn orange and yellow?  What about the sky?  Texas has beautiful skies.  Some nights the sunset is the orangest of oranges, and some nights it's purple or pink.  On clear days, it's the loveliest of blues.  Then there's things like hair color: mine happens to be red in a house full of dark dark browns and blondes.  What about flowers?  I bet there's at least one flower from every part of the color wheel in the world.  Oh and of course animals, from black & white zebra stripes to brown & yellow giraffe spots to the most colorful of parrots.  Think about all the ways color adds beauty to our earth, and how well it all works together.  I think people are the same.  We are individual and unique and beautiful.  We add beauty to our earth by our colorful physical attributes.  I hope that someday we can all add beauty to our earth by the way we love,  and that we can work together the way it was intended.  I hope that people will be embraced and appreciated for what they are...another of God's beautiful creations.


It was about 10 years ago when they became friends. They were in 2nd grade when these 2 boys approached their teacher and suggested that they be Cal's helpers in the class. She told Neil and I that she thought peers would be very successful with Cal in the classroom. He didn't know how to read, and she was having a challenging time trying to keep him engaged during the required 3o minutes of silent reading each day. We thought this sounded like an awesome plan. She was right, and Cal's first friendships were made. What started as reading buddies has grown into so much more. He was never invited to many birthdays, social events, sleepovers or parties. But over these past 10 years, these 2 boys have loved my boy unconditionally. They aren't embarrassed or annoyed by his quirkiness and his gazillion questions. They have embraced him and encouraged him, and he has learned a lot from how to play baseball which he loves and how to be a friend. This year, they are seniors. They will all walk across the stage in June, and two of them will get their diplomas; and go on to college. My boy will start his years in transition, and receive his diploma few years later; and who knows...maybe he will go to college after that. He does keep asking us about college. Today, between their busy senior year schedules, we got together for about an hour to take some photos. It was like watching those three 2nd grade boys all over again. And when I was driving home thinking about these 3 and how us 3 mamas would clear our schedules and sit down together to look at these photos and probably cry, I cried all the way home. Cal just sat quietly and let me cry, and he didn't ask me one question. When I got home, I got the text that said, "I cried all the way home thinking about the sweetness of these boys." And I smiled and cried a little more. I think most parents want their kids to have good friends, to be encouraged, to be accepted. I have wanted that so much, it has made my heart physically ache at times. And although it hasn't always been that way for Cal, I can say that it has been since 2nd grade.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Growing Up

My eyes popped open, and I sat up in bed.  I don't remember what I was dreaming, but I remember thinking....she was a little girl just a few days ago and now she's not.  I remember the dream was about Drew.  Maybe it was because we had been watching old family videos where everyone was so little, or maybe it was because a picture of 2 year old Drew showed up in my Time Hop. Maybe it was because we've been discussing college options and with her and teaching her to drive.   I don't know why this particular dream was about just her, when they are all getting big.  What I know is that life was busy and full and hard and fun and challenging when there were 5 who were 9 and under. Although many things are easier now, there's still hard and challenging; and there's still fun and full.  Watching them grow into adults and have to make decisions is exciting and overwhelming.  Now, more than ever, I find myself questioning my parenting and praying I've done a good job.  I want them to be happy, kind, loving and productive people who give back and are grateful.  Puberty is hard, adulting is hard, growing up is hard.  I am thankful for these people put in my care, and I pray that they will learn gentleness, patience, peacefulness, self control, loveliness, kindness, goodness, joy and faithfulness through me. Galatians 5:22-25  Lord...hear my prayer.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lean In!

This time last year was difficult.  Although the story is not mine to tell, I can tell you that my heart was breaking.  This year things are soooo much better....sooooo much!  I almost hesitate to write that or say that or share that, because of that old worry about jinxing something that's going good.  What I really need to say is this....time can heal and in time, things can become new again.  I believe this with all my heart, however....I don't think time works alone.  I think the key to allowing time to run its course is leaning into God so much that there is nowhere else to go.  Leaning in and trusting with your whole being is the hardest thing in the world...especially when you want things to go much faster or much different.  I've known for a long time that I am not in control, but I still try to make things go the way I think they should.  Over the last few years, I've seen that oftentimes they won't.  Sometimes this doesn't make sense, and I'll admit that I still don't understand many things; but I do see something good in every circumstance.  Sometimes God is saving me from someone else, and sometimes God is saving me from myself.  Either way....HE KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING, and I am thankful.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

September 3....Best Day of 2006!!

Happy 10th Birthday Elliot Ann Payne! Elliot which means "The Lord Is My God" or "Thanks Be To God" suits you perfectly as you were an answered prayer. Ann is after some special people in our lifelong friend Cynthia, my cousin Julie and a very special lady I taught with many years ago. I cannot believe TEN years have past, since we welcomed you into our hearts. It seems like you should still be two, maybe because you always tell me "I wish I was two again". You are a mini version of myself, and I see my daddy's eyes every time I look into yours; but you definitely have your own personality. You're spunky, kind hearted, a peacemaker, sensitive and the absolute funniest person in all of the land. I'm so grateful you asked me to school you at home this year, because the time we have been given has already blessed my life so very much. I simply cannot imagine life without you in it. Your heart, soul and face are beautiful. Keep shining, dancing, laughing, being silly, growing; but mostly keep loving so deep, because you love others well. I adore you Elli Cinderelli With A Belly Full Of Jelly!!

Friday, August 19, 2016


A few days ago,  I took the middle 3 (ages 12, 15, 17) to the doctor for check ups.  I know some of you may not do that after a certain age with your kids, but I still do.  I've had many health problems, so I always like to make sure I haven't passed any of that along.  Plus I like to visit with our pediatrician....I love her!! Each child came into an exam room alone with me and our pediatrician.  Our pediatrician has known them their whole lives, and she knows them well.  She will remember things about them from years past, all 5 of about amazing...that would be her.  On this day, Drew went first.  All went well...even the blood draw (which is typically a complete anxiety meltdown) was pretty smooth.  Bryna went next, and again all checked out shots or blood draws for her.  Of course she is the one who never sheds a tear.  Even when she was a baby and would get a shot, she would not cry.  Her little baby face would let out a big sigh and just look if to say, You're hurting my feelings.  Then it was Cal's turn.  Over the last few years, Cal has made huge strides in all things life deals him.  For those of you who don't know him, he has autism.  Going to the doctor was always a true nightmare for me (and for him), like literally I would have nightmares about it before and after; and it was NEVER EVER EVER smooth.  Our pediatrician has always been so accommodating and kind with him....she knows him well.  We discussed his progress, and she was more amazed than she was last year when he came in. I told her that out of my 5, he was  the easiest.  He doesn't do social media, or understand peer pressure, or know how to lie, or get involved with drama.  He is tidy, obedient and goes along with about anything we ask him to.  She nodded her head in agreement.  Who would have thought?  Certainly not I and probably not her.  He did everything she asked and answered all of the questions she asked him with confidence. happened, she told us he needed a shot and a blood draw.  I told her I would guess we would need to choose between the two, because I wasn't sure we would be successful at either.  He is a 17 year old young man, and although he's of very slim stature; he gets super human strength when he gets scared or he could lift a car, and I'm not joking even a little bit.  She said we should go for the shot.  I explained to him what was about to happen, and his face went from calm to pure panic; and he began shaking his head NO!  I knew right then and there that we would have a battle on our hands.  The petite little nurse came in, and we gave it a try in his arm.  He was in complete panic mode and tried to grab the needle from her hands.  Then she decided we should scoot him down to the end of the table, and she would try his leg.  NOPE...not happening.  We both declared defeat and decided that NPayne would have to take him back...EEEEKKK!! Bless their hearts.  When the nurse was telling our pediatrician that it wasn't going to happen, Cal got very upset and screamed "I hate shots!" and then he punched me in the arm HARD.  Immediately I saw a look of regret on his face.  While we were driving home, I looked over at him; and he was weeping silently but deeply.  I could see the sadness and disappointment in his face, and I was sad for him.  I knew that I couldn't ignore what had happened, but I needed to think about how to handle it with him effectively. Drew and Bryna were both silent in the backseat, but they both had such empathetic looks in their eyes; and I thought they might cry too.  It had been a long time, since I had seen Cal sad enough to cry.  I talked to him in the car and told him that hitting was never okay when you're angry, and I tried to give him words to use instead.  He listened and stared at me through his tears.  I could tell that he was so very sorry, because he was talking silently to himself which is one of his coping mechanisms.  Once we got home, I told him he needed to go to his room to think and calm down.  After about 20 minutes, I went upstairs to talk to him.  He was on Bryna's bed, and he was not crying and had composed himself.  I asked him if he had something he would like to say, and he said "I'M SORRY!"  I asked him what he was sorry for, and he said "For hitting you!"  His face said more than his words did,  I told him he was forgiven; and we talked about why hitting was not kind once again. Later that night, I went out to dinner alone.  It had been a long week.  Neil had been out of town, our house is in complete disarray due to renovations, the kids are all home adding to the disarray; and I was trying to work in the midst of the disarray.  I was a tad stressed, and to be honest; I had a little tantrum that afternoon; so alone I went.   I was sitting in the restaurant reflecting on the day's events and my son, when God reminded me of something big.  He reminded me that what had happened that day was full of miracles.  He reminded me of when Cal was a little boy and how things were hard.  There were days when I felt like I was failing him so big and days when I wondered if life would ever be easy again? Then He reminded me of Cal now, at 17,  and the conversation I had just had with our pediatrician about how he was the easy one. He reminded me that Cal has come so far...and He even gave me examples through memories of "little" big things he has accomplished.  Although Cal was sad today,  and it hurt my heart; God reminded me that Cal was understanding his emotions....something I was not sure would ever happen.  His sadness showed huge progress.  The fact that he was able to say, "I'm sorry for hitting you!" is a blessing and a miracle.  The fact that he was able to do everything our pediatrician asked him to and answer all of her questions was astonishing and a miracle.  The fact that he was able to recover, compose himself and go to school to see his teachers and classmates for a social gathering ..... that is an absolute miracle! Miracles are happening all around us, sometimes we just need to be reminded to look for them.  Thank God for reminding me and using my son to show me so many!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Photography can be a lonely job!

Addi and I attended a conference this past weekend called The Inspired Story.  It was designed to give photographers insight on bringing or keeping Jesus in your business and giving Him the glory.  There were lots of good stories and inspiration.  There were lots of stories about suffering, and how God blesses you during those times.  There was lots of learning.  I took away a lot, but one thing that really struck me was how one speaker said the business of photographry can be very lonely.  I've been stuck in a rut lately, and I think this is why.  The actual session is still as much fun and brings me as much joy as always, but the after part has become quite mundane.  I think this is why....loneliness.  I also think this may be why I've been turning down many weddings lately.  They are glorious to shoot, but then I edit and invest my time and emotions in people I may never see again.  When I photograph families, I usually always see them again.  Many of them have become my friends, and we have a connection.  Oftentimes when I shoot a wedding, the connection ends as soon as the images are delivered.  When I'm very busy with editing, I sit alone hunkered down with my coffee and music and work.  Sometimes it gets tedious, and  I end up with a stiff back and tired eyes; but I still enjoy it....until lately.  I think the lonely part is what has made it not as enjoyable as it use to be for me.  I've been doing this a long time now, and although I do really love alone time...too much of this kind of alone time takes its toll.  I'm feeling led to start looking for other things to photograph and to make a change in my business.  What that will look like....I don't know yet. 

School/Home School

As summer is quickly coming to a close, I am sad and excited.  Things are changing in our house physically and otherwise.  I will have at least one child at home with me for schooling this year, and I'm thrilled; but I'm also a tad nervous.  I want to make sure our time together is valuable.  She is excited about it, and I am too.  However as I've been searching for things that she is interested in learning (which don't necessarily involve academics or curriculum), I'm discovering that most classes and teachers still only offer times that are typically "after school hours".  I was kind of hoping to find the knitting class, art class, cooking class, etc. that were offered during school hours; but no luck yet.  Part of the lure of homeschooling is not using weekends for extra things, but preserving weekends for adventures and family.  As more and more people turn to homeschooling, I hope some of these things will become available.  For now, we will pick and choose a few and go from there.  I have another, who is contemplating, homeschooling this year.  I pray that whatever her decision, it will be best for her. As the school year approaches, I am excited about being actively involved in my kids' learning.  This is gonna be a good year!

Thursday, July 28, 2016


I'm in Colorado with my family, and it's been great! It's lovely here, and we've had so much fun together. Our accommodations are fairly roomy, but there's still the issue of waking people up if you try to go in the kitchen to make coffee. I don't wanna wake anyone too early...Paynes need sleep and lots of it. We got up early yesterday to take a train ride, so today is for sleeping in. However...somewhere along the last body has done this weird thing. It has switched things around in me, and now I can barely hold my eyes open past 10 pm and can barely stay asleep past 7:30/8:00. It's so weird and so wrong. Actually I don't mind getting up earlier as long as it's not by an alarm clock. I have enjoyed quiet mornings sipping coffee and meditating on all things big and little. Except our house is currently chaos right now as we are re-doing an addition that was once my closet and the room that held all my creations. My clothes and creations are now scattered about the living and dining rooms. 😳 It makes me crazy, but I know it will be worth it. I'm not sure how so many Paynes ended up with the "not tidy" "not organized" gene from NPayne, but they did. On the flip side, they also ended up with his love and passion for music, so that's a good thing! This morning my eyes popped open for good about 8:25, and I could not make them close; so I got up and snuck out of the condo. I'm currently sitting outside in the not too hot sun and drinking a vanilla latte in a cute little hippie coffee cafe. It's nice to sit and think in an organized peaceful place. I've been thinking a I do...which sometimes gets me in trouble. I think I may take a break. I don't really know what that means yet, but hopefully I will soon. Life is short, and there has not been enough focus on the good and love people have lately; and it's taking a toll. I'll keep writing, because it's just something I do; but I don't know about anything else yet. I haven't been very good about blogging over the last year or so, but I've been writing. Maybe I'll get back to daily blogging...positive stuff. I can tell you one thing...soul searching in the mountains is a blessing!

Friday, July 8, 2016


I tried to carry on as normally as I could today, but my brain was mush.  I got up, said my prayer of thanksgiving for another day, made my head hurt and my neck hurt; so I crawled back in bed.  I realized quickly that I wouldn't sleep, and I had a lot to do; so I made myself get up.  As I sat in the tax office waiting my turn to get tags for one of our cars, I couldn't focus.  I found myself being easily irritated by nothing really.  Once I was home, I was having a difficult time.  I told the kids we were going to the pool after I went to church for the prayer vigil.  Even at the prayer vigil, I couldn't focus.  I kept trying hard to listen to the words being spoken, but my mind was a fog.  I said, "Lord hear our prayers" along with everyone else, but honestly I didn't hear the prayers.  Even at the altar, my brain was mush.  I found myself thanking God for His goodness, but I couldn't find the words to ask Him to help with the fear and pain.  I couldn't focus.  We went to the pool, and I found myself sitting there watching them swim and trying to carry on as I normally would; but the tears fell.  My eyes were burning with a combination of mascara, sunscreen and tears; and so I went into the bathroom.  There in the stall, I sat and talked to God.  I told Him what He already knew....that my heart is heavy, that fear is seeping in, that I want to run but to where?  I told Him that I didn't know what to pray for, but I was assured that He knew.  The world is frightening me, and oddly enough I feel more and more like God is in control.  I don't know why things seem so out of control, but I know that He is more heartbroken about the recent shootings than any of us are.  I don't like the word, "hate"; and I don't allow it in our house.  Cal always asks me, "Why don't we say hate?".  I always answer with,"Hate is a strong word to use when we probably mean we really just don't like something."  Today I thought a lot about the word "hate" as my mind tried to take in all that has happened recently, and I decided that I do hate a few things....but one thing I really hate the most is HATE! I can honestly say I've never hated a person, and many others....don't understand what drives someone to act purely out of hate.  That is a good thing I guess, because if we did understand that; it would be quite scary.  We are all different....but we are all the same too; because we are all children of GOD...all of us, every single one.  God is love!  I just wish we were all love too.