Monday, April 30, 2012

Drive On

We should just keep on driving, she suddenly said, out of the blue as we drove home from church yesterday. I was deep in thought, and up until that moment, our morning was off-kilter as it often is with mothers and daughters so I was startled by her words.

Drive to where, I asked, half hoping she would say New York, but half afraid she was going to say Las Vegas. I don't know why I would think that, but I did.

The desert, she replied, let's go visit Matthew. I didn't have to think twice, replying with an enthusiastic, yes. Just as I was surprised by her proclamation, she seemed surprised by my acquiescence. But why would I say, no? A chance to spend almost two hours each way in a car with my daughter with the added bonus of seeing my sunny boy, his wife and my baby love? Yes, yes, yes!

I had just one request. What, she asked. Can we stop at home to pick up my camera? I was afraid she would protest. I was surprised when she didn't. We made a promise we wouldn't take more than ten minutes in the house. We were on the freeway in less than five. She called Matt to let him know we were on our way. We were both half afraid his words would turn us around. They didn't.

It was just what we needed. At least it was just what I needed. Things I want to remember about the day:

  • How we laughed at the silliest things on our way to the desert, like the woolly mammoth on the side of the hill right before Moreno Valley
  • How she took a picture of the Tazo tea I bought her and posted it to Instagram, thanking me (that's my girl!)
  • How handsome Matt looked when we got there (and to think I didn't get a single picture of him)
  • How beautiful (but tired) Ashley looked
  • How during and after lunch, Max came and climbed onto my lap without any prompting at all. Heaven on earth!
  • How Brie and I snuck Max away while Matt and Ashley got some rest
  • How happy Matthew's face looked when I asked him if he was looking forward to meeting his little girl soon (it's only a month away now!) and he answered with an excited yes. He's such a good daddy.
  • How beautiful sunset was as we headed back home

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

It's that time again...Scavenger Hunt Sunday...

Something that makes me smile


Ancient or Antique

In the sun


To learn how to participate in next week's challenge or to see other interpretations, click on the link below to Scavenger Hunt Sunday.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Serve Saturday

Five or six years ago, our church conducted a large scale bible study on the 40 Days of Community which culminated in each group picking a service project to aid the community. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience, so much so that the next year our church enlisted the aid of all the congregation and instead of church service, we had community service. And a tradition begun.

What I've like most about serve weekend is that we go out into the community and show the love in God through the giving of our time and resources. It is also a wonderful opportunity to bond with church members. There is nothing that builds love and trust more than working together for the glory of God.

This year, I served as one of the photographers which means instead of painting, planting or making meals, I went to visit three projects and photographed the teams at work. The photography team was lead by Eduardo who provided us with all the tools we needed to be successful photo journalist. 

I wasn't nervous until this morning. What if the pictures come out bad? How do I direct everyone once I get there? What if no one wants me there? How will the group shot come out, because I'm terrible at posing and group shots. 
Then I prayed. Prayed that God would give me clear direction. Prayed that this would glorify Him, not me. Prayed that the pictures I took would show His people, doing His work, in His name. And I loved every minute of it. 

From the moment I arrived, everyone was gracious and excited to have me there documenting their work. They let me take pictures without looking up with cheesy smiles every time I pointed the camera in their direction. Since it was mostly candids, I was in my element. Yes, there were the obligatory group shots, but I think they worked out okay.

But most of all, I felt part of each group. I saw God's work at hand. It was a beautiful thing. I loved it so much I went to photograph each group not once, but twice. I came home worn out, but exhilarated. 


Friday, April 27, 2012

Love of the Father

Almost every school day for the last 13-years, I've made my daughter a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Oh, I've tried to stop, but she has a way of getting her way. As I was making her sandwich this week it struck me that there are only 25 more days of sandwich making for me.

At first I celebrated because I really don't like making lunch so early in the morning. And then I mourned, my baby is graduating. So I did the only thing I could think of doing, I drew a heart in her sandwich. The next day I drew another one. I never told her I did it so it's unlikely that she knows the heart was there.

It made me think how it's that way with God. His love is always there whether we know or recognize it. It is always present in our life. Wrapped up in different ways, in simple things that we overlook all the time. And he loves us whether or not we love him back. His love is perfect, his love is present, his love fills us. We are more at peace if we accept that love, just as she accepts my sandwich each and every day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Begin at the Beginning

I've decided to join one more photo challenge. (Ackkk!!!) I know, but like Scavenger Sunday, this one is just once a week and it looks like it'll really stir my creative juices. 52 Photos Project is hosted by Bella Cirovic and each week she'll give us a prompt in which we have a few days to come up with our interpretation.

Since this is the first week of the 52 weeks, the challenge is Begin at the Beginning. What am I beginning right now? I think I'm in the beginning of my creative journey since this whole thing started. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. When I finally had enough courage to read some of the books my sister sent me, I read over and over again how women felt such creative drive as a result. A silver lining? At that time, I grasped on anything that gives me hope.

As I worked through the chemo, the resulting side effects, the rebuilding of my normal, I didn't feel the least bit creative. I didn't really have time to dwell upon it. Every once in a while I would feel like a failure because it just wasn't there. But there must have been a seed that was planted because it's sprouting out in all different directions right now. Photography, writing, even a little crafting on the side. It's all invigorating. It drives me to the point where it is hard to concentrate on work. You know, the job that pays the bills, the one that was faithful to me when I was sideswiped.

I want to be careful not to burn out and have nothing but half finished projects to show for this. The best thing I can think of it to pace myself, to do at least a little every day. I want to write the story of my life, for me, for my children, for God. There I said it. I want to write a photo journal, for me, for my children, for God. There I said it. I have started it, but more importantly I want to finish it, for me, for my children, for God. There I said it!

If you want to begin at your beginning, too, go to 52 Photos Project and join along.

Monday, April 23, 2012

When Less is More

I passed by Brie's room on Saturday and she had Belle sandwiched between her legs, giving Belle a pedicure. On one hand I felt bad for Belle, on the other hand it looked so funny I couldn't resist running back to my room for my camera.

When I sat at the doorway with my camera in hand, Brie protested. I protested back...I'll just take it mainly of Belle, I promised, no one will even see you. Well, I lied. Yes, I took some in which Brie was mostly out of the frame, but the majority of them had her perfectly placed. Funny thing was, when I went to edit the pictures, I liked the ones in which you could only see part of Brie. I felt they were more compelling pictures.

Isn't this often the way it is with our answers from God. If we had our way, He would give us everything all the time, the second we asked for it. No, make that before we asked for it because he is God and he should know, right? But how many times do we look back and realize that He knew exactly what we needed. And it's always much better than what we thought we wanted.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Through His Eyes

I was reflecting on our time this Friday in Los Angeles when we came upon a little art studio at which Justin wanted to stop. It was on the corner of hope and despair. The three of us stopped short in our tracks as my nephew told us that we didn't want to go any further down the block. One moment we were passing restaurants with outdoor cafes and the next moment we were looking at what appeared to me, the end of line. It was frighteningly mesmerizing to me.

It wasn't that I was afraid because I wasn't but that was only because I was on the "right" side of the street. I could look at the edge what appeared to be a scene from an end of time movie and stay in my cocoon of comfort. I could remain ignorant in what goes on in that world.

As I look upon the picture I took, I can see the bleakness that greeted me, the trash strewn upon the street, the cart of a vagrant, the stores shuttered up tight. And yet, I wonder, what is it that God sees? Is this street so different than mine? Perhaps I feel the freedom to walk out unimpeded, but I imagine that underneath it all our lives are just as messy as the lives here. Maybe not so hopeless, but maybe so. I wonder, what is it that God sees? Can I ever see it through his eyes? Can I peel off my fears, my prejudices, my preconceptions and see what God sees? Can I stop being condescending, holier than thou and see what God sees?

Exploring with a Camera|Downtown LA

I love being in the city. Doesn't matter which city, they are all intriguing. I love how things change from block to block. I love that there are so many different people there for all different reasons. I love the grittiness of the streets and the character of the buildings. I love the hustle and bustle that surrounds you. And, yesterday I loved exploring LA with my nephew, Justin and my daughter, armed with cameras and a sense of adventure.

I don't know that I would want to live in the city forever, but I do believe I wouldn't mind living in the city for a year or so. What an adventure it would be.

Within the first block we walked, we ran into homeless. They are a part of each city I've ever seen. But this was the first time I've ever taken a picture of a homeless person before. We walked in a giant circle, past the LAPD building which I had no idea was so beautiful, past the LA Times building which looked to be showing its age, past an art gallery with an incredible display which unfortunately was already closed, and up to the edge of what looked to be the end of all time. 

It was incredible to me that we crossed one side of astreet, filled with cool restaurants and sidewalk cafes and looked down the block to see what appeared to be a scene from an apocalypse. We walked down to the edge of "civilization" and stood there, my camera up to my eye as it reached out to the place I didn't dare walk any closer to. It felt like there was a line drawn and short block we were on was a neutral zone.

Then there was the parking lot we crossed that was against a building with a giant mural filled with graffiti. As I took a picture of the wall, I noticed a tagger had written, "you gonna pay!" I wondered, was that a figurative or literal statement? If literal, what was the cost going to be? In the block we were on, I would not want to know. In the daylight it didn't frighten, but at night would I feel different? Most likely, yes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Outside of My Box

I've been doing things I don't typically do.

Like take pictures of flowers. I have thousands of pictures on my hard drive and probably less than 10 pictures of flowers. No, I don't take pictures of flowers.

And if I do, I don't process them in black and white.

Just like I don't take pictures for a second day in a row of me.

 Then process them in black and white. And post them.

But my hair had curled just right and after all the time it's taken to grow it back, I wanted to get proof of that curl. Tomorrow it may not curl so perfectly.  And the flower was in its glory today and since it may not be so tomorrow, I wanted to get proof of the pedal.

I've been doing things outside my box this year. Eating out by myself, staying up late, stopping in the middle of the road to take the shot, getting out of the car to take the shot, actually writing, not just thinking about writing, processing in black and white. I'm outside my box, close enough to climb back in. I'm hoping I don't. And I'm hoping I don't build me a new box either.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Exploring Apple Hill with a Camera

I never got to post about the day Eliz and I went to Apple Hill to drive around the country. We started the day off in Placerville, walking around the town. It was a gorgeous spring day. We could not have asked for better weather.

Apple Hill is a farming community a few miles from Placerville. In the summer months, the area is bustling with tourists as most of the farm owners open their doors up for city folks to come get a taste of the country. Since it was the off season, the roads were empty which allowed us to drive around unimpeded.

It also meant that most of the farms were closed, but we didn't let that stop us. The area was so pretty. It was wonderful having most of the farms and roads to ourselves. Even though it was a little on the cool side, we put the top of the bug down which made the experience even better. Instead of just our eyes taking in the view, we could hear birds singing and the sound of leaves rustling and we could smell the land and even the not yet budding fruit. I just wish I would have gotten a picture of the car stopped in the middle of the road.

One of my best memories of the day was passing a group of people walking on the side of the road. It was seriously like a movie. They called out and waved to us and we smiled and waved back. That was just the most fun I've ever had in the bug.