Friday, June 26, 2009

Get a Grip!

My beloved camera, My Canon 40D will be having its one-year birthday in September. Needless to say, I am very overprotective of it. So overprotective, in fact, that I was hesitant to take it to Brazil with me in August for several reasons:

1) Where we will be in Brazil is very dusty and dirty and hot.
2) Nice items that are left unattended have a tendency to "walk away," never to be seen again.
3) I may not have enough muscles to carry it with me all day long. It's not light as a feather!
4) I want to be able to interact with the people and not worry about it getting damaged.

However, it's been on my mind a lot lately that I might regret NOT taking it with me. And a good photographer friend of mine reminded me last night of the same thing. So everyone, I am pleased to say that my 40D will be joining me in Brazil!! One huge benefit of having such a nice camera is the battery life. It can last a long time without needing to be recharged. And I was just informed that a battery grip would be a great addition for me, and would also allow me to have a battery backup, if needed.

Here is a pic of today's purchase. Not only will it benefit me overseas, but it's a great thing to have for photo shoots here too. It houses the camera's battery and provides an additional grip for vertical photos, along with a shutter release.

I love me some pictures.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Beauty Queen

I headed to my hometown this past weekend and got to see my friend's daughter make her appearance in the toddler swimsuit competition in the city fair. The babies have their baby show. And the toddlers have a swimsuit competition. It's quite adorable. You may recognize Miss Baileay and her incredible curls from her recent photo shoot! 

It came as no surprise to me, but Baileay won her division of the competition. How could she not? I like to take at least 1% credit, as I purchased her adorable swimsuit that she modeled so beautifully. She made faces and blew kisses at everyone and did her "wiggle" dance. When they announced her as the winner and gave her the winner's medal, she clapped adoringly. Such a crowd pleaser! 

She's really too cute for words...

VBS Kid Pix

We are having Vacation Bible School at River Bluff this week, and the kids are having such a great time! Here are just a few pix from last night...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vacation Bible School

Life is a little too busy for me this week to do much photo editing... I'm helping out with the music and dancing for our 30 kids at Vacation Bible School at River Bluff. We're using Lifeway's Boomerang Express and we're in "Australia". It's a fun time to be with the kids and watch them get excited about learning about Jesus. Plus, they're so gosh darn cute. I'm scheduled to take pictures tomorrow evening, so you'll see some fun pictures soon!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Falando Portugues (Speaking Portuguese)

I don't really think it's hit me until this week that in less than 7 weeks I'll be in Brazil. And for the fourth time. How crazy is that? After I wrote the last post, I'm just on fire again for the purpose that our group is going for... to help others form a relationship with God and accept Him into their lives.

I have a unique advantage over almost all the people in our group that are going. While the others will be able to communicate with the Brazilians through gifts and actions, I will also be able to communicate with them in their own Portuguese language.

I learned Portuguese after I went to Brazil for the first time in 2005. I had such a deep desire to be able to communicate with the people that God placed in front of us. And for 9 months, I took Portuguese lessons from a native Brazilian from Sao Paulo that I met in Springfield. And the following year, in 2006, I was able to return to Rio Branco and meet with Junior's mother and listen to her and console her as she told me about Junior's death. God allowed me to learn Portuguese for a reason. I consider it a gift.

And for that reason, my heart has been burdened to do something more with my gift of language this year in Brazil. I am burdened to speak more than just the look-at-me-I-know-Portuguese words (Oi! Tchau! Boa noite! Bom dia! Obrigada!).... Instead, God has burdened me to really focus on having meaningful conversations with those we meet. I want to be able to sit down with a group of ladies and ask them deep questions about who they look to for comfort, about their thoughts on God, and explain to them the purpose of why our team is there. I want to be able to look men in the eyes and remind them that they have a responsibility to be leaders. I want to hold a child and sing them a song about how Jesus loves them.

I believe that God will use me if I simply trust in Him.

If you think of it, please pray for me... that I can continue to refresh my memory of the language that I already know, and that I will continue to learn more in these next 7 weeks. Pray that when the time comes, I will not be shy or timid, but that I would be bold in speaking Truth with those I meet. Our team will be without an official translator this year, so pray that God would give those of us who can speak Portuguese the ability to communicate effectively. And pray that if necessary, God would give us the words to deal with any mean people at the airport. :) Amen.

Try out your Portuguese here... Have fun!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Toy Request for Brazil

I've been cleaning my house yesterday and today for hours upon hours... I have a bunch of ladies from church coming over on Tuesday evening and I want to get my house in tip-top shape, as most of them haven't seen it yet. It's been awhile since I've had people over, so I haven't exactly been the best at having things picked up. :)

As I've been cleaning, I've noticed how much "stuff" I have. I don't consider myself to be a very materialistic person at all. I like simplicity. Whenever something new comes out on the market, I'm always the last to have the urge to buy it. But as I was going through my house full of stuff, I became disgusted with myself at how many material possessions I have. At one point in time, I "needed" these items, and now most of them are sitting around unused, even forgotten about. Even though I got rid of several boxes of things at a yard sale on Saturday, I still keep finding things that are completely useless to me. 

In the next few weeks, I've made a pact with myself that I'm going to go through things once again and weed out what I don't need cluttering up my house. I realize that this inner struggle with materialism also comes out of the fact that I will be leaving for Brazil in 7 weeks. And every time I go to Brazil, I am hit hard with this truth--that there are people in third world countries who have very few earthly possessions to their name... but who are able to find satisfaction and happiness through their relationships with God and His people.

Where do you find your satisfaction?

I'd like to take the opportunity to ask you to consider donating some of your "things" for my upcoming mission effort to Brazil in August through Christian Missions Unlimited.  We have 25 people on our team and each one of us takes over 50 pounds of toys, shoes, clothing, and MORE toys that we give to the children and adults that we cross paths with in Brazil. Our main focus for the mission effort to build a church home for a community. In our free time, we walk up and down the streets, meeting people and loving on the kids. When we give "gifts," a language barrier is crossed, and through our actions, they are able to see that we are there to share with them, to bring smiles, and to be their friends. More importantly, our prayer is that they will see the bigger picture and realize that we are only there because of one reason--that we love Jesus Christ and want to help them form a personal relationship with Him.

If you would like to make some form of donation, please contact me. I would be more than happy to talk to you about it!  Some common gifts we like to take are: McDonald's toys, other small unbreakable toys, flip flops and small shoes, caps, bracelets, dolls, and other small items.

Here are some pictures of some of the children we have been blessed to meet: This first picture is especially dear to my heart, because the boy on the left was my buddy, Junior. 

Junior and I formed a special bond and kept in touch by mail after we met in 2005. We would write letters back and forth and send each other small gifts. He told me once in a letter how he kept the toy cars I gave him in his "secret place" so nobody else could take them. They were obviously gifts that he treasured. I was looking forward to seeing him again in 2006, as we were returning to the same city, but four weeks before we left the states, I got word from another Brazilian friend that Junior was in a bad accident. He was riding his bike and was hit by a car. He had head trauma so severe that he ended up passing away within a few days. I was completely crushed, but I knew that God had placed him in my life for a reason. I was able to speak with his mother and provide her with a photo album full of pictures I had taken of him. In return, and with tears in her eyes, she brought me a letter that Junior had written to me but had not yet mailed. I was overwhelmed with emotion and so grateful that God chose to give me this story to share with others.

I still can't repeat Junior's story without crying (which I am doing as I type)... but it just goes to show how our actions and our small gifts can touch someone's life and help form relationships that are so precious. Every time I think about Brazil, I think about Junior. And I think about how ironic it is that I go on these mission efforts to give to the people of Brazil, but how it is ultimately me who comes away feeling like I have been blessed abundantly.

**I have raised $800 towards paying off my mission trip. My June 1-Aug 1 photo sessions will help finish off the remaining $1800, so let me know if you would like to book a session!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How He Loves Us

I came across this worship leader, Kim Walker, on YouTube and am in awe of her voice. I always have a tendency to be drawn toward great altos, since their songs are generally in my range. The lyrics are so true...Take a listen! 

Kim Walker--How He Loves Us

He is jealous for me 
Love's like a hurricane, 
I am a tree 
Bending beneath the weight of 
His wind and mercy 
When all of a sudden, I am unaware 
of these afflictions eclipsed by glory 
and I realize just how beautiful You are 
and how great your affections are for me. 

Oh, how He loves us so 
Oh, how He loves us 
How He loves us so. 

Yeah, He loves us 
Whoa, how He loves us 
Whoa, how He loves us 
Whoa, how He loves.  

We are His portion and 
He is our prize, 
Drawn to redemption 
by the grace in His eyes 
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking 
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss 
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest 
I don't have time to maintain these regrets 
when I think about the way 

He loves us, 
whoa, how He loves us 
whoa, how He loves us 
Whoa, how He loves 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stone/Jeffries Family

Jenny contacted me to do some family portraits for her parents' recent anniversary. She and her brother's family wanted to present their folks with a gift of family photos. We met on the family's five acres where we got some great shots outdoors with the foliage. We ended the shoot with a celebration of silly string and squeals of laughter (and also some tears... silly string in the eyes doesn't feel good!)

Here are some sneak peeks!


Silly string is fun!!!

Early Morning

So I don't know why... but I woke up wide awake at 3:30 this morning and was up wandering around. So I booted up the Mac to do some net surfing and was checking on some of my favorite photo blogs when I found one that made me tear up a bit. One of my favorite photographers, Amy Wenzel, just found out recently that her husband, David, has a mass on his brain.

They both have a strong faith in the Lord, which is so evident, but I wanted to pass on their blogs to you in case you wanted to lift David and the family up in prayer. They are both so young and talented and have a long life ahead of them...

Here's Amy's blog...
and David's blog...

and a link to Jasmine Star's blog and her entry about him, along with some photos she took awhile back of David and Amy...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

No Pain, No Gain

So I think I have my first injury from my side job in photography (although there have been a lot of close calls)... and I have a lovely swollen, itchy ankle to prove it. It looks like some kind of spider decided to knaw on my right ankle during Kacey's photo shoot on Saturday. I won't go into details, but it's red and oozy and it appears as though my ankle has gained about 5 pounds. Some quick evaluations by nurse Rebecca Robison and her father, Dr. Mike Good and a few antibiotics later and I'm good to go!!

On a happier note, I should have some Stone/Jeffries sneak peek pix posted Thursday night, so check back then!

Until then, stay away from spiders.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kacey's Sneak Peeks

Here are some sneak peeks of Kacey's photo shoot... More pix coming in the next few weeks!

Beautiful Things

After a long day of taking pictures on Saturday (Kacey's photo shoot turned out great!), I had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and head over to Nathaniel Green and Close Memorial Parks to snap some of the gorgeous flowers that are out right now. The rose gardens were absolutely stunning! The sun was down before I could capture any images from the hosta garden, but it's amazing and I'll be headed back there for more! Enjoy!