Friday, November 27, 2009

Follow Friday | My other blog

After more than three years of blogging, I've decided to set up a schedule for myself. Hopefully this will add some regularity and readability to my blog, while providing information to my readers. Blog schedule is as follows:

Sunday— my day of rest. Therefore, no posting.
Monday— "Today I feel...", a series of posts that describe a concept or an emotion in one-image and one phrase.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday— photoshoots and writing
Friday— "Follow Friday," a series of posts about other blogs or photographers to follow (my blog version of a Twitter tradition).
Saturday— Personal. I only post if I feel like it.


Today is Friday.
Follow Friday.
Black Friday.

But it's also Thanksgiving week. So I plan to start Follow Friday next Friday.

Look forward to it.

In the meantime...

I would like to announce that I'm moving this blog over to my photography blog: I've posted the same content on both blogs for the six months, but now I've decided to just post on my photography blog. So head on over to that one to stay up on things going on in my heart and through my camera.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Life lessons

I sat in the corner of the pew and watched, uncertain of my feelings, uncertain about what I should feel. People came in and formed a line, some that I knew, many that I didn't, and the gentle buzz of quiet, restrained voices swirled somewhere overhead. I let it float on without any contribution, alone in my thoughts.

I was glad for the corner, grateful for the solidity of the wood against my back, uncomfortably aware of the contrast between the strength behind me and the unsteadiness inside of me.

It was Grandpa's Memorial Service. And I had much to think about, and much to learn.

Grandma was a picture of God's grace. Standing up in front, next to Grandpa's picture— alone. Gently, graciously speaking to every person in the room— alone. Smiling, hugging, reminiscing— alone.

I watched all that aloneness, felt the wrench in my throat grow stronger and the emptiness in my stomach grow heavier. I watched and felt and thought… and I learned.

I learned the truth in C. S. Lewis' statement that "to love at all is to be vulnerable." The more I love people, the more I will hurt, the more they will be able to hurt me. The depth of Grandma's love for Grandpa is the same depth of hurt she experiences in his death. The people I love the most will hurt me the most. Fact of life. And learning to love is not easy.

But I also realized, more deeply than ever before, just how vitally important it is to find my full, complete satisfaction in Christ.

Jesus is the reason that Grandma could smile, and hug, and graciously receive others into her arms in the face of Grandpa's death. They were married nearly 60 years. They were everything to each other, and did everything together. He was the love of her life. And yet, she found her joy and satisfaction in Jesus Christ, not in her marriage, or his affirmation, or anything else.

In short, I learned that only way to really love a person is to find my full, complete satisfaction in Christ first. That's the only way to handle hurt, the only way to keep on loving when I don't feel like it, the only way overcome differences.

Sometimes this is hard. Actually, it's hard a lot of times. But God is faithful ALL the time, and sufficient ALL the time, and good ALL the time. And watching Grandma, I remembered the truth in these statements.

Love is not duty for duty's sake or right for right's sake. It is not a resolute abandoning of one's own good with a view solely for the good of the other person. It is first a deeply satisfying experience of the fullness of God's grace, then a doubly satisfying experience of sharing that grace with another person. - John Piper, Desiring God

I'd forgotten that death taught lessons like this.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yeah, so we're a coffee-loving family, Part II

With such an abundance of coffee at our house, we find creative ways to dispose of the used grounds. Some make it to the compost bins (yes... let's caffeinate our tomatoes). Some just go straight to the garbage (that would be me... sometimes I just don't feel like dumping them outside). But often, we put our used grounds on our azalea and hydrangea bushes as fertilizer. Who knew that coffee grounds would make such happy plants?

Well, apparently it makes for a happy dog, too.

The other day my sister noticed Enya, our yellow lab, spending a lot of extra time nosing around in the bushes. As she kept watching, she noticed Enya chewing on something. Upon closer examination, she realized that Enya wasn't chewing on a ball or a stick or a deer bone, but was, in fact, eating the used and discarded coffee grounds.

Good grief. Even my dog loves coffee.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Yeah, so we're a coffee-loving family

As many of you know, I love coffee. A lot. Many of you also know that I am not alone in my love for coffee. It is, in fact, something that has been carefully fostered and cultivated by my parents. But do you know why I love coffee?

My father is an amazing man of God. He is a strong leader, enthusiastic, energetic, and always has wise counsel. My mother is humble, and steady in her love for Jesus. She is the perfect person to spill my heart to, because she always listens. And she patiently listens for God's voice, too. There are few things that please my parents more than to see godly fruit in their kids, and I grew up rising early so we could get in family devotions before Dad left for work.

I have clear memories of those mornings— the alarm went off, I got up, dressed, and went straight to the kitchen, where I found Dad fixing his coffee. Sometimes it was his first cup. But often, he had already been up for awhile, in God's Word, preparing to lead his family into worship. When I was young, I fixed myself a cup of herbal tea before sitting down around God's Word, but eventually grew into coffee, as well.

My parents also taught me that discipleship and coffee go hand-in-hand. We hosted Care Groups at our house throughout my early years. Tuesday nights were like clockwork— 5:30pm, feed the kids. 6:00pm, final touches on the house. 6:30pm, kids in bed. 6:45pm, turn the coffee pot on. I was about 14 when my parents began to disciple individual couples. I remember falling asleep to the smell of coffee and the gentle hum of voices gathered around the Word of God, and in fellowship with one another.

Some people drink coffee for the stimulant. Others drink it for the flavor, or because they like holding something warm in their hands. Now, don't get me wrong— I don't complain about caffeine, and I love the flavor, the scent, and the warmth of coffee. But for me, it means much more than what the physical senses can discern.

The sound of the coffee grinder is a welcome invitation to sit, and enjoy, and talk for awhile. A hot mug in my hand means that I am safe, and I am loved. The primary reason I drink coffee is because, growing up, I watched my parents walk out faith and discipleship with mugs of coffee in their hands and another pot brewing in the kitchen. As I have learned to love God's Word and heart-to-heart conversation, it was always with a pottery mug within reach.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

holding onto comfort

Tree of life

My grandfather passed away this evening.

I will write more about it later. For now, we hold to these words:

be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies
and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction,
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction,
with the comfort with which
we ourselves
are comforted by God.
For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings,
so through Christ we share

in comfort,
— 2 Cor. 1:3-5 —

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Audriana | Senior Portraits

Audri is a really cool high school senior. We met in a coffee shop, and chatted about the things that we love, the things we fear, and the things we dream about. She's smart, down-to-earth, and loves to have fun. And I had a blast doing her portraits.

Audri's smile is sweet and honest. And she smiles a lot with her eyes— something that I love about her.

Audri is my friend Jeremy's goddaughter, so he came along to second shoot for me... and captured some incredible images in the process. This is one of them.

Jeremy's shot.

Another one of Jeremy's.

Check out those eyes!

Audri is studying nursing... and she loves it. I have so much respect for people in the medical field, because my brain can't function on their level. She's pretty amazing.

Another one by Jeremy.

Audri brought her sister and her boyfriend along for the shoot, which was GREAT fun.

I love the laughter!!

Aren't they adorable??!?!

Sarah's favorite!!!

Another one by Jeremy.

So, so cute!

Jeremy's shot.

Audri's pretty crazy about her red Grand Am. I loved the pictures with it!

Jeremy's picture

Another by Jeremy.

Again, would you check out those eyes!!??!!

This is Audri's sister, Gabriella.
And this is how I entertained myself while waiting for Audri to change clothes.
If there are people present, I take pictures of them.

So cute!

Jeremy, hard at work.

Entertaining myself again, during another clothing change.

Aaaannnd a couple of shots that Jeremy took of me.

My current favorite shoes. =)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Stover family portraits

The Stover family was, by far, the easiest family I've ever taken pictures of. No exaggeration here!!