Monday, March 29, 2010

A Very Special Photo Shoot

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart" - Jeremiah 1:5

It can be easy to forget that God has a special plan for the teenage mothers. For 15 year old girls and their sweet babies. For their life in the inner-city. But the truth is that He loves them, and has plans for them, and a vision with hope for their future.

I have a sweet friend (Ashlee) who lives downtown, and I knew that she had a friend who had just had a baby. Like I've mentioned before, I'd love to use photography as part of our ministry downtown Atlanta. So I asked Ashlee if she thought her friend might want to have me take some pictures for her. Ashlee said that her friend had just been talking about taking her baby to Walmart to get some pictures taken, and that she would probably love to have me take some instead. So I nervously packed up my camera and gear and headed down to meet this sweet girl and her beautiful baby. She was uncertain of me and what I was doing, and insisted that she did NOT want to be in a single picture. Finally I convinced her though, promising that I could photoshop her however she wanted (I even told her about how I sometimes photoshop myself skinnier or get rid of zits. gasp). Once I showed her the pictures, she announced that my camera made her look GOOD. And I could not agree more. . .







"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."
-Psalm 139: 13-16

I Heart Faces: Dramatic BW

I'm running a little late this morning for Bible study (what else is new?) and I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Does that ever happen to anyone else? Sometimes I just wake up IRRITATED. And poor Adam bears the brunt of that irritation. Well him and Maverick, the dog. Poor things.

Anyways, here's my entry for this week's I Heart Faces challenge: Dramatic/moody BW. I love the feel of this picture from my friend Brooke's wedding a while ago. During the groom's dance with his mom, they were both emotional - and I may or may not have gotten emotional too.


For more BW drama (and lots of cool people . . .) visit I Heart Faces

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What do you need MORE?

I read something a few weeks ago that I simply cannot get out of my head. I was in the waiting room and picked up a book next to me and started reading. The book was about the prodigal son, and I must admit that every time I hear a sermon or read something about the him I'm all like "boring . . . I already know everything about the prodigal son, I've heard it a million times. And yes, I've heard all the times when they focus on the older brother (hello, that's me!) too. There's officially nothing new for me to learn about this story" Ouch, I hate admitting my own pride. Particularly when I am wrong. That said, I'm not quite sure why I kept reading since my tendency would be to skip over it. Probably because I read something I needed to hear.

The book (and I cannot remember what it was called, or who it was by, or anything other identifying factors that might be helpful in any way) talked about how it wasn't until the prodigal son was "starving to death" that he finally decided to go home. And it said: "he needed that empty stomach more than he needed food."

And that struck me because I had never heard that before (oh hello being wrong, it's nice to meet you. not sure if we've met before); and also because it was exactly what I needed to remember in this moment.

God knows our needs more intimately and fully than we know our own needs. Because if you ask me, I'd say I need food more than starvation every. single. time. But God knew that it took an empty stomach to reunite the prodigal son with his father. To bring healing and reconciliation in their relationship.

So often I am SURE that I know what I need. It's like when I water my plants because I'm SURE they just need more water to "perk up," when really (my mom tells me) more plants are killed by over-watering than by being too dry. Oops.

I pray and pray for our house to sell NOW, without realizing that maybe I need this time of preparation more than I need to move. Or that the kids downtown need our hearts to be readied more than they need us to live down there. Or that I need to learn patience and draw close to the Lord more than we need for Him to miraculously sell our house.

And the thing to recognize in the midst of it all is this: Our greatest need is ALWAYS that which drives us into the arms of Jesus. And often that is the harder thing, the "worse" option. The empty stomach.

So what is it in your life? For me, I am recognizing my need for a heart that is set on and content in Christ alone, regardless of what happens with our house and our ministry. Even if I stay where I am for 5 more years (yikes to even write that!), it will be for my greatest good and His greatest glory. And my reward? Will be complete in the moment I see Him running towards me with outstretched arms, welcoming me home and offering grace and reconciliation.

"Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'" -Luke 15:23-24

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In which I overuse the word "nice"

I almost forgot how nice it is to enjoy warm weather, walk outside, and spend time with my hubby and sweet daughter without worrying about work, the internet, cleaning the house . . . Luckily, I was reminded of the niceness last night. Adam and I had to bring some stuff the boys forgot back downtown. Because we hadn't driven back and forth from Atlanta this weekend (reminding us once again how nice it will be to live down there . . . keep praying!)

So since we were already downtown, we stopped by Ikea. They have such a nice selection of appliance, knobs, beds, toys, plants, frames, and so on and so forth. We love wandering around and imagining all the redecorating we could do, in order to make our house that much nicer. So that someone will buy it.

After Ikea, we discovered that terrible hour had arrived: rush hour. We knew attempting the drive home at this time would be a terrible, awful mistake. So we did what any smart person would: went to get some delicious Mexican food. And I do mean delicious. Cheese dip and diet coke with my two favorite people, my life felt complete.

Since the weather was so nice (and it was still rush hour), after dinner we decided to walk across the street and wander around Oakland cemetery for a while. Which sounds creepy, but Oakland Cemetery is actually a really nice, historic cemetery with lots of old and historic gravesites. Like 1800s old. Like Margaret Mitchell historic. And the surroundings and weather were just so nice - I took a whole slew of pictures. How could I resist?




Nice, right?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend O' Fun

I look back on this past weekend with fondness, even a sense of bliss really. Because yes, it was decidedly busy (what else is new?) but it was also extraordinarily fun.

And because I know how much y'all love the play-by-play of my life (who wouldn't?), here's the low-down on our weekend:

We started off on Friday night by dropping Jayci off with the g-parents for her own night of fun, then picking up the boys and heading to the Hawks game. And look who was there? That's right, Michael Jordan. The boys couldn't have been more excited. Well actually, they probably would have been more excited if the Hawks producers would have let them show Jordan on the big screen. Instead, they only got excited whenever they caught a glimpse of his shiny head across the stadium. Luckily, they were able to get even more excited every time WE were on the big screen. And apparently we even made it on TV. Such are the perks of having friends in high places (aka people who run the cameras). These pictures are from my friend Matt's cell phone. He is a camera man for the Hawks game, well sometimes (other times he works here).

We then brought the boys home, headed to our beds for a few hours (literally FEW), and then drove back downtown for a training, Kid Mix, and to pick the boys back up to come spend the night with us. We spent lots of time playing outside, the boys played basketball while I tried unsuccessfully to push Jayci up the tunnel/slide/thingy on the neighborhood playground. And can I just say that the weather? It made me mucho happy (unlike the snow we had this morning, what the what?)

Jayci also enjoyed playing with the boys and basking in the warm sunshine. Which made me wonder if we should adopt a 12 year old instead of a baby. Oh, we shouldn't adopt only for babysitting and Jayci-entertaining purposes? Right.
On Sunday, Adam went to one of our suburban partner churches to get kids sponsored for camp, and then he had another mentor training. So I took the boys shopping. As it turns out, you're not supposed to mix and match Aeropostale and American Eagle. Whoops.

Sabo bought some stuff, and Zack spent most of his time on the phone asking various girls "do you miss me?" Which made me laugh.

We did lots of driving back and forth from downtown; to church and from church; to another church; and to the mall; and so on and so forth . . . At one point, Zack piped up and said "I can run 40mph. Curious to see such a feat, we immediately pulled over to a quiet side road, and had the boys get out and run while we drove at 40 mph. Turns out, they can run approximately 15 mph, not 40. Close though.

All the driving also meant we listened to lots of music. We usually listen to some Glee or Christian rap (random and SA-WEET mix I know), but with HOURS in the car, you can only listen to the same songs so many times before you want to poke your ears out. So the radio it was. At one point that song "bedrock" came on. I might have sang along before I could help myself. And apparently, the boys found it hilarious that I liked that song. They even asked, "Becca, do you know what it's about?" Embarrassed that the 12 year old boys knew more about song lyrics and suggestive-ness than i did, I quickly assured them that I didn't necessarily LIKE the song so much as I found it "catchy." Whatever that means.

Sunday night we brought the boys to church AGAIN (they're troopers) and then ate some hot wings, brought them home and crashed. Because busy weekend = not enough sleep. The boys totally had us beat though, since they stayed up until like 2am listening to music and giggling like girls. They even told me "we're just a bunch of giggle-boxes." Which cracks me up.

I realize that this may have turned into the most boring, extremely long-winded, recap of our weekend. So I apologize, and will end it here. But seriously, it was a fun weekend. The end.

I Heart Faces: Angles

I'm glad I actually read this week's explanation of the theme at I Heart Faces. Because for some reason i was thinking "angles" meant isosceles triangles or other interesting shapes (like triangles are very interesting and strange shapes). Turns out angles actually means pictures taken from an unique angle. Which, clearly, is quite different from my original understanding of the theme. Hmm, I wonder if I should actually READ some of my manuals. Who knows what new information I might discover. Oh so I shouldn't put aluminum foil in the microwave? who knew?

Now that I understand the theme, here's my entry (from my sister's engagement shoot a few weeks ago).
For more interesting angles (and not triangles), visit I Heart Faces.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Little Ducky

No matter what kind of foul mood Jayci is in, the mere mention of a bath (aka "baf") is certain to cheer her up. We're talking mid-temper tantrum, she will grin and nod emphatically before running upstairs. Getting her out? Now that's another story (and often another temper tantrum too). Girlfriend will lay in the empty tub after all the water has drained, covered in tiny little goosebumps, before I have to lift her out, all to much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But seriously y'all, look how cute she is in the bath. Is it any wonder that it's one of my favorite times too?

This is her new thing, my all-time favorite face she makes these days. It totally cracks me up, and she says it's "Silly" (except for some reason when she says that word, it sounds like she has a British accent, which makes me laugh even harder).

And she's not too shabby in her ducky bathrobe after the bath either, now is she?
I mean seriously. Yum.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Your Camera Takes Nice Pictures

Lately I've been getting an unprecedented number of emails (more than 5! can you believe it?!) asking me some photography questions, namely what kind of camera/lens I use for my pictures. The easy answer to that question is a Canon Digital Rebel (XTi) and the 50mm 1.8 lens. But y'all know by now that I don't usually ever give the easy answer and leave it at that. So let's take a quick look at my photographic journey (y'all also probably know by now that "quick" is a relative term).

I've owned and been using my Rebel for about 3 years now (I'm not sure that's the exact length of time, but I try and convince Adam on a daily basis that the minutiae of details aren't really that important to the story, so we're just going to forge ahead). However, it has really only been in the last year or so that I've really come to enjoy photography and actually use the capabilities of my camera. Before that, I loved having an expensive, big camera that I could put on "auto," and then point and shoot and take pretty good pictures. But the truth is that maybe 1 in 25 pictures would come out well.

For example, my friends, here's a picture I took with my same camera just over a year ago. Blech. Out of focus AND the flash was on. Double-whammy people. And not in a good way like the double cheeseburger.
Here, on the other hand, are 2 pictures I took last week for my sister and her fiance.

Both of the above shots were taken in full manual mode, meaning I made all the adjustments and the camera did not make any decisions for me. Which is good because, let's be honest, I don't like anyone telling me what to do.

So how did I get to the point of getting more beautiful pictures using the exact same camera and equipment? Simply put, I learned my camera inside and out. I discovered what ISO, aperture and shutter speed mean and how they work together to create your image. I figured out how to adjust everything on my camera, and how to turn OFF that darn flash. And then I discovered how to use Photoshop to enhance my pictures, rather than to try and "fix" them.

I realize that most of you who have asked me would like to actually learn these things for yourself rather than just listen to me brag about how smart I am for figuring it all out. But I also realize that me writing a tutorial might be somewhat of an exercise in futility. Or at the very least that it might cause me to develop carpal tunnel and y'all to doze off quickly from all the rambling and over-explaining.

However, I would be more than happy to point y'all in the direction of some really good places to start learning about your camera and how to take better pictures. For me, most of my journey took place through and as a result of a website called I Heart Faces. And it just so happens that they have some fantastic tutorials on getting to know your camera. The book Understanding Exposure also helped me really get the whole triangle of ISO, aperature, and shutter speed. It's one of those things that once it clicks, seems like the most natural thing in the world. For realz.

And if y'all have any more specific questions about the whole thing, I can attempt to ramble an explanation that makes some sense. But I'm not making any promises people.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Heart Faces: All Bundled Up

I could not be any more ready for spring. Warm weather, playing outside, grilling out, camp . . . oh heavens I'm feeling excited just thinking about it. Regardless of my spring fever, temperatures are still colder than I'd choose, and it wasn't that long ago that snow blanketed the ground. This week's theme at I Heart Faces is "bundled up" and luckily we had that snow, so I have a picture to share.


Enjoy all the bundled up shots over at I Heart Faces, and here's hoping warmer weather and spring flowers showing up soon!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Re:Vision

When I read about the giveaway I Heart Faces and Amy Wenzel were doing for a seat at her workshop, I was a little (ok a lot) excited. I have been dying to go to a workshop (but the ministry-budget? doesn't quite include my workshop) Not to mention that Amy's is in Grand Rapids, where my extended family lives - giving me the perfect excuse to go visit them. . .
"Tell us how you love, serve or inspire other people in your life, and what attending the workshop might mean for your photography journey. You don’t need to have a business to enter. Whether you are a pro, semi-pro or hobbyist with an SLR, I am so, so excited to hear your story!"

Over the past few months, the Lord has been cultivating my heart, refining my ideas about ministry, and giving me a fresh vision for our work with inner-city kids. We already have a summer camp, we've started a mentoring program, and we know we feel called to live in the inner-city.

But why? Why all of these things? Why inner-city ministry? And what, in heaven's name, does it have to do with photography at all? (Patience people, eventually I'll have a point. Hopefully.) For me, it all comes back to vision. Our vision is to help these kids, these moms, these families, to see themselves in a whole new way. So MY vision is to give THEM a new vision.

Haven’t we all believed lies about who we are? Failure. Unlovable. Hopeless. Unfortunately, the voices can be even more persistent and deafening for those kids surrounded by poverty: Worthless. Alone. Won't amount to anything. Honestly, if someone doesn't shine light on the TRUTH for these kids, they will likely be caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of jail, welfare, teen pregnancy . . .
Over the past year, I have enjoyed growing and learning more about photography and my camera. But recently I’ve felt the Lord expanding my vision for it all. This begins with playing the role of photographer for our summer camp. The pictures of kids playing, dancing, swimming, and simply being kids, will be used for promotional materials (we raise money to pay for every kid to go to camp. Only those kids who can’t afford it on their own can come to our camp).

Beyond that, I love sending the kids notes with pictures from their time at camp. Most of them don’t have cameras at home; they don’t have pictures with their friends. And they treasure the opportunity to carry their memories with them. Several different kids have told me they look at their pictures every single day. One even said he sleeps with them under his pillow.
I’ve also been feeling led to use photography to offer the families we work with a new vision for their lives. To show the 15 year old girl, still a child herself, how her newborn is a gift to be treasured. Or the mom who lives in a one bedroom apartment with 9 kids how beautiful and full of potential all of her children are. Or the single mom who thinks more about drugs than about her son? Maybe giving them the gift of seeing themselves and families through new eyes will allow Christ’s revisioning and redemption to begin in their lives.

I am a beginner, both in this whole ministry idea and in the photography field. I know how to use my camera, but that’s the extent of it. I would love the opportunity to learn more so I can provide the best possible pictures for the families we work with. Because they usually get the leftovers: Other’s cast-offs, Hand-me-down clothes. And God says we all deserve the chance for beauty and promise.

Eccl: 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in His time.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Apparently, my little sister isn't so little anymore

I am the oldest of three girls. That's right, I have two younger sisters, and I just adore both of them. Isn't it funny how finding out if someone is the oldest or the youngest (or heaven forbid, the ONLY) sibling can completely change how they view them. Like "Oh so that's why you're so awesome . . . you're the oldest."

But that's neither here nor there (which, I'm pretty sure, means it doesn't have anything to do with anything). Except that this post is about my middle sister. Who really isn't exactly "little" considering she's 22 years old and just recently got engaged. I've been wanting to write about her and her fiance on here ever since he popped the question last month. But I was planning on taking their engagement pictures for them and wanted to have some to share with the post. Because we all know posts are better with pictures.
Apparently, I'm not so good at being concise with words OR with pictures. I apologize for the excess.









By the way, could my sister be any more gorgeous? Because I certainly don't think so.




Seriously, we couldn't be more excited to add Ashish (aka Hash) to our family. Jayci, especially, loves "Unca Ash," as evidenced by the fact that she will endlessly feed him goldfish, make him play fetch with her, or simply let him hold her even while Adam or I are nearby. Quite a feat Hash. Quite a feat.
"Where you go, I will go and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." -Ruth 1:16

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Lake and Some Guacamole

As I mentioned last week, Adam and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary on March 4th. Before we were in ministry full-time, we enjoyed anniversary getaways to Jamaica, a cruise to the Bahamas, a whirlwind trip through beautiful Charleston . . . However, it turns out that poor missionaries living on support can't be picky, so we went to stay at our dear generous friend's lake house. To be honest, my expectations weren't terribly high. How nice could someone's lake house really be? And besides, we already went out for some FANCYEE Mexican food and mojitos, followed by a movie at the dollar theater, so I was pretty much good to go for the next year (ahem. That is sarcasm in case you are reading Adam).

But y'all, the lakehouse? It was beautiful. Beyond what we expected fo' shizzle (which means "for sure" for all your suburbanites and Canadians out there). We spent so much time talking (and NOT just about our kiddos and our ministry . . . which was refreshing and surprising and beautiful). We sat outside overlooking the water and read books and fished. I'll let you decide who did what. We prayed. We played games (most notably, I beat the tar out of Adam in poker). We ate lots of food. We chilled (er, warmed) in the hot tub. We watched The Office and Modern Family. We enjoyed the overwhelming quiet. And did I mention that it was sunny and semi-warm? So pretty much it was a perfect weekend.

For some reason I have no pictures of the ballin' lake house, or even the full view. However, here's some snapshots of our weekend for your viewing pleasure.



Adam making homemade guacamole. I have never loved him more.
And because I love my bloggy friends oh-so-much, I took a picture of the chips we used for said-guacamole. Because they may have been the best chips ever. I tend to go through chip-phases. First it was those Tostidos golden corn ones, which have since dropped off the face of the earth. Then there was the days of "hint of lime," followed quickly by "hint of jalapeno." Lately, I've been all about the Multigrain Tostidos (which are clearly extremely healthy because hello? multigrain.) But I may have been converted. I do believe we may have entered the era of the Southwestern On the Border chips. Hallelujah.
Adam can't help but climb on large machinery with giant blades. Seriously, it's a sickness I think. And then he forces me to take pictures. Which makes me feel exceedingly nervous. Have I mentioned I'm a rule-follower?
Yes, the owner of the lake house is Canadian. And so am I. Clearly, a match made in heaven.

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