Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Latest Shoot - DiBernardo Family

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of shooting portraits for the DiBernardo Family!  Their three kids are nothings short of adorable and it was such a gorgeous day outside that it was really more fun than work! I hope you enjoy this little snapshot (forgive the pun) of their photoshoot at Madard Park!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How Do You Feel Today?

Haven't blogged in a while, so I thought I'd share a little tidbit with you about what's been happening with me.  Lately I have been praying for something in particular: that my decisions would not be based on how my heart is feeling.  I know - odd but it is something that I need to work on.  Being so right brained (subjective, random, artistic, emotional) I often find myself basing things off of emotion - ranging from whether or not to buy something & how to act at work to what to color I should paint a wall or where the Lord is taking us next.  However, often times what I "feel" is not accurate and is even more often times misleading to what the truth actually is.  Recently, there have been situations where I have let the enemy gain ground where there was no evidence for it, other than my thoughts and "feelings." That is the last thing that I want to be "dooped" of. A lot of times the enemy likes to use our hearts to deceive us, and I am trying to learn to decipher between being judgmental and discerning, a fine line.  Ya following?  So what I have learned so far is to NOT act, NOT speak, and NOT respond.  The times that I just don't are often the times I feel I have made my Savior smile, made Him want to show my picture around and say "that's my kid."  The times I hold my tongue, just smile, and keep on keepin' on are the times I have no regret or conviction.  But the times that I revert back are when I remember the phrase grieving the spirit and I picture Him hanging his head, which only urge me to repent & revise.  Anyways, all this to say, boy am I glad there is grace.  Without grace I would be in a world of hurt, forgive the cliche - but it's true.  Thank the Lord that He loves me unconditionally and without circumstance.  Praising Jesus today for his unmerited favor in my life and for how he is pouring out His spirit in my life even when I am undeserving.  Just wanted to share a little but of what been going on in my heart.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oh, How He loves us so.

Lately I have been completely in awe of the Lord's attention towards me.  The fact that He even thinks towards me is remarkable at all, but the fact that He views me as perfect through Jesus amazes me even more.  Last night at church, my pastor said that - that Jesus views me as a perfect work.  I thought, Lord - how can this be?  I am so imperfect, so sinful.  I am so messed up and dirty, there is no way that I could EVER be perfect.  I am so far from perfect its disgusting.  I judge, I sin, I hate, and I think things I shouldn't.  But in Jesus there is grace.  One pastor said this about grace and mercy:  

“Grace is what God gives us when we don't deserve and mercy is when God doesn't give us what we do deserve.”  But it's true.  Jesus does view His children, his disciples as a perfect work.  Through the penalty that was paid on the cross, we have been saved.  To see others as a finished work is a hard thing to do with the barriers and confines of sin, but try it.  To see people as God sees His people.  But being saved is only the first step, and the easiest.  Many think that it is the most difficult step: entrusting your life with Jesus.  But the second step is lifelong, and much more difficult: sanctification- a life long process that involves stretching, thinning, molding, cutting away, shaping, strengthening, and perfecting.   The word perfecting in the bible, doesn't often mean perfect as in without fault or failure, but it means maturity.  That we would constantly be striving for perfection, so not as to be above one another, but above reproach; to be more and more like Jesus.  As I ponder these things, I am reminded of this verse, Philippians 3:12-14:

" 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. "
Also, I share with you this song has spoken to me recently.  The depth and width and vastness that is God's love for us and just how He loves us.  How big it is, the mulitude of sin that it covers, and how intimate it is for those who embrace it and long after it. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A New Set O' Wheels

Let me just start this off with reminding you of the Lord's faithfulness.  He is so good to His people; He knows our needs, our desires and even the details of our desires.  He wants to bless His children, and so delights in doing so!  All this to say, we are back to having two vehicles!  Yesterday we bought a car!  Praise the Lord!  I can now look back on this time of stretching and thank God for HIS timing and not my own.

The day started off pretty rough.  Friday night was a youth-all-nighter and for those of you who don't know what that is, you have the better end of the stick i.e. no sleep, complete chaos, and too much sugar/red bull induced teens menacing their youth leaders all night long.  Lucky for me, most the girls in the youth group are still pretty young and weren't ready to stay the night but my dear husband wasn't so lucky.  He got a whopping 4 hours of sleep from 8a to 12p when he arrived home Saturday morning.  For some odd reason I thought I should stay up on my own at home watching a depressing chick flick with a friend til about 4a.  Not sure what my thought process was but you get the point - sleep deprivation is a nasty trick.  It pretty much makes you sick to your stomach like other morning ailments.  Oh and coffee doesn't help because you already have a headache and are so green faced that it just makes those feelings more vivid and intense - unfortunately we found that out the hard way.

So it's noon and we have been looking for a car for over two months.  Today is the day and we both know it.  We have found the perfect car, the perfect price, even the perfect color.  From what the seller said, people had come to look at it on Friday and being that it is a very popular car, we had slim to none chance it would be there Saturday for us to see.  But boy is the Lord faithful.  In the words of my husband, if its still there when our schedule allows, then we know that the Lord has it for us.  If not, He has something better.  I know he was right, but at this point I was so ready to buy the next clunker that was parked on the side of road with any ole for sale sign slapped on the front. 

But the Lord knows us, knows our desires and has all things planned for good!  Praise Jesus.
So we get to the bank, get all the necessary paperwork/supplies and are on our way when 30 minutes into our drive Pete's car begins to make a strange squeeking noise and we smell smoke.  Now to be completely honest, the first thought that crossed my mind was, "Really Lord?  You have been here the whole time, in this whole decision.  I have waited for two months - " and then I stopped.  Why am I complaining?  The Lord is STILL in this.  This is a test.  And I had already begin to fail, but thank the Lord for His grace and mercy.  I instantly remembered the study in church the past week, about the Lord testing Moses as he came down from the mountain and the people were worshipping the golden calf.  The Lord tested Moses' love for his people and Moses passed with flying colors.  At that moment the Lord quietly reminded me that He was with us and that we just needed to trust in Him.  I prayed Lord, I trust you with this.  I give it all to you, please just protect us.

No sooner had we pulled off the side of the road then a 'Road Ranger' pulled up behind us.  We were already on the phone with our trusty mechanic in which we were making strange impressions of the noises we were hearing and the site we were seeing.  All this to say, we were prepared to "cut a belt" in order for the smoking and squeeking to stop when at the very last minute the road ranger/guardian angel told us to stop because he thought that the belt was connected to the alternator, not the A/C compressor.  Little did we know it was connected to both, and had we cut the belt we would have been in a world of hurt, not to mention paying out the wazoo to have the car towed, the belt replaced and still without a car. Because we didn't cut the belt and because the Lord was in it, all we had to do was turn off the A/C and drive away.  PRAISE GOD!  (By the way, we will be getting that fixed this week)

Long story short, we made it to our destination, saw the car, test drove it around the block and happened up a street entitle "Randall Circle," (the Lord certainly is blatant sometimes huh?) returned to the owner's home, made an offer (in which he accepted the very lowest) and drove away with the sweet little ride.  We took pictures before even pulling away (a good sign from Pete, who was obviously just as thrilled as I was), and sent them off to various prayer warriors who have been praying for the months we were without that second set of wheels - a cute little green Honda Element (my fantasy car since 2003 when they were geniusly introduced).  Thank you all so much!  Praising Jesus for his faithfulness and the intimacy of my relationship with Him today!

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

with each day a new adventure unfolds...

Hello All!
I know its been a while since my last post, but you should know things have been very busy and crazy, as usual.  Since my last post, I have finished my college education (I now have a BA in Communication Sciences & Disorders), thrown a bridal shower for my dear friend Lauren Higgins, taken a week long hiatus to the beautiful state of Washington, witnessed my brothers betrothal, attended Lauren Higgins' bachelorette party, completed 1/2 of my self-made Sign Language curriculum, and decided that since I wasn't busy enough, I should probably start my own business.  All of this to say, I have always dreamed of crafting as a business on the side.  Being told that I am creative and enjoying so many different mediums of creativity, I have decided to do something with it!  Drum roll....... I am re-opening my once barren Etsy account!  If you do not know what etsy is, allow me to enlighten you of its gloriousness according to ...
1) An online community of artist and crafters 
2) A online community where one can buy and sell handmade goods, vintage items, and related supplies 
3) An online collection of independent stores 
4) An alternative to auction websites such as eBay

SO! Come check out my store! I currently only have one 
item up for sale, but I intend to fill my online 
boutique with many more handmade jems, 
personal artwork, and unique vintage finds!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

but without Love, I am but a clanging symbol.

Last night Pete & I had to pleasure of going to a fantastic show put on by Calvary Chapel St. Pete.  The musicians were Phil Wickham & Leeland!  UNBELIEVABLE!!!! The concert was so anointed.  Not only because Phil Wickham is so completely and geniusly gifted, but because the Holy Spirt was there dwelling with us!  It was a couple of the kids' first concert, so we were pretty amped for what they were about to experience!  
Little did I know how much I was about to be blessed.  Come to find that these musicians, these guys, are just people, so warm, so genuine, and just shine with Jesus' love.  Phil's set was unbelievable filled with heavenly ballads sung directly to the skies!  What I didn't expect was Leeland's performance.  From their CD, I expected it to be just a really fun time, but I was so blessed by what he had to say.  His heart was overflowing with the love of Christ - something he said really resounded with my heart - 
"I grew up in church.  Both of my parents were worship pastors so I was the kid hanging out in all the choir practices and in all the Christmas plays.  It wasn't until the age of 11 that I felt and understood God's sacrificial love for me.  Now I'm going to be honest - being in such a great Christian culture and being in church my whole life is sometimes really hard; it's really easy to complicate our faith.  But listen, it's really simple.  True love is giving your life for someone else.  And that's what Jesus did for us on the cross, and that's what we need to do.  Give our lives for the Father.  If you're here tonight and you have yet to do that, I am going to invite you to do so in a minute, but maybe that's not you.  Maybe you have already given your life to the Lord.  Maybe you are here holding onto things in your life.  Maybe you are in church everyday of the week and are only giving him certain parts of your life, just the spiritual parts.  Christian - the only way to receive God's love and to show it is to give it ALL.  You can't go halfway.  It has to be everything."
I realized that was me.  Even though Pete & I are pretty active in our church, and there is nothing I love more than to serve my Heavenly Father, I haven't given it all.  I must confess, it's not always with a heavenly attitude that I sing or sweep or serve, and it's something I have been trying to work on, but my flesh is weak.  I prayed a prayer last night that Jesus would take my WHOLE LIFE.  That He would be in control of ALL things for His glory.  I pray that this fresh overflow will continue in my heart, as it is so honest and so neat to not have a care in the world except for my love for Jesus.  It may sound irresponsible, but it is the exact opposite.  Who better to take care of me than my heavenly father?  He knows what's best and I can entrust only Him with everything.
Like it says in I Corinthians 13:1, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."  Leeland also said this, 
"Worship is not about singing.  Don't you think if that were the case, everyone would have been gifted with a voice or the ability to play an instrument?  But one thing everyone in the world has is the ability to love.  Worship is a lifestyle.  It's what our hearts do.  It's about what happens outside of these doors.  If we can't worship God with our lives outside, then he doesn't want to hear what is happening in this room.  Like it says in Amos 5:21-32, 
“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments."
A strong word coming from God, but true.  He knows us so well and knows our pain, our sorrow, our affliction.  He endured them so that we wouldn't have to.  He wants all of us all the time.  And that's what I have decided to do!  Just give it ALL to Jesus!  I am so excited, encouraged, and refreshed.  I share this with you to encourage you as well.  It seems to hard to just let go and Let God (as cliche as that sounds) but there isn't a better decision you could EVER make. 

With Utmost Sincerity,

Friday, June 11, 2010

A God of Details

So I have to inform you all of the happens of my week, because yes, they are that exciting.  Sunday evening is when things started rolling.  It seems as though whenever we have plans to have a house guest the AC inevitably goes out.  Now let me back this with some facts:  We LOVE our home, LOVE our landlords, and are so so grateful for where we live.  All this to say, this was the second time our gracious landlords had to deal with such a wonderful problem in the heat of summer.  Monday night we headed to the in-laws to sleep in cool relief and came home to a fixed air conditioner the next morning - SO THANKFUL!  

Nothing worth mentioning occurred until Wednesday evening when a huge prayer request was answered, we sold my car!  We had been trying to sell it for about a month with no such luck, but were so happy to let it go even if it was for a little less than we expected.  Such a burden lifted!  As we were down to one car, Pete's family graciously (there's a lot of grace in this story....) lent us one of their cars.  Thankful as we were to have another set of wheels for the time being, we mostly used Pete's car for the week as it is the more reliable/much cooler and it's a honda - they run forever right?

Or so I thought.  (Bare with me, the details are worth it in the end).  Thursday I rushed home from a long day at work, drove Pete to work at five pm, drove home to be at school a six.  Busy busy busy is our life.  Everything was peachy keen.  Worshiping Jesus on my ride to school gave me relief and a chance to relax.  Class went well and we got out a little early as Thursday nights at school are shorter, as we go to mall for the rest of class for "Deaf Chats."  

Then, oh then, the magic started again.  The car died on my way to mall.  At first I thought I just stalled out, but boy was I wrong.  Luckily familiar faces stopped to help me (as class had just let out).  About six, yes SIX, caring people stopped to help, push, look-over, listen, and try to figure out what the deal was.  Now HCC isn't in the best of hoods, and although I'm usually an anxious person when it comes to that, I was never once nervous.   The Lord covered this whole situation let me tell you.  Husbandless and all - He got me through.

With all the chaos ensuing around me, one thought came to mind - our faithful mechanic.  Let me tell you a little bit about this guy.  Fixing cars is pretty much his ministry at our church, although he would never admit to his blessings of the body.  He knows everything about cars, it's crazy!  Thank the Lord for him, as we are not mechanically savvy in the least.  Pete and I seem to have numerous car problems (must be long on-going joke the Lord has for us) and as much as we try to send things through his shop as often as possible, that didn't seem to be an option at the time, being my husband was far far away at a distant Starbucks (WITHOUT A CAR!) and unable to save his damsel in distress!  Long run on, but you get the drift of the stress!

I did hesitate to call my mechanic as though it seems we are always asking him questions or favors, but I figured who else is there?  I don't know anyone which a truck to haul this, we don't have triple A, we can't afford to get it towed...  so I called.  And guess what?  He and his family were literally around the corner at a store (normally it would have been about a 20-25 minute trip from their home) and are the sweetest people the planet, i.e. they helped, fixed, and set me at ease.   From the noises Pete's poor accord were exclaiming it sounded like a dead end to me, but what do I know.  Of the six people that did stop were a married couple (it was show and tell for my sign language class - he and his wife are both deaf and his son brought them as his show and tell).  He seemed to know what the issue was, which totally made me stand in awe. Even though he couldn't hear what was happening, he knew exactly what the problem was.  It just struck me as awesome to witness his son interpreting what his Dad  thought the problem was and he hit the nail on the head once we figured out what the issue was later that night.

Getting to the end here, I promise.  So it took a little while, but the good "Doc" soon arrived, got the car started and drove it to the shop.  I following along with his lovely wife and kids to his shop while he drove the "hurby" as I was a little hesitant.  Come to find out it was overheating the whole time he drove it there. NUTS!

Here comes the good part.  Doc's nine year old son is WAY into the guitar.  I had actually talked with Doc earlier that day about trying to get him some lessons.  I "happened" to have my guitar in the back of Pete's car (which I never do) so while "Doc" worked on the car, his son and I got to spend some pretty sweet time together "talking music."  Then I knew what the purpose was for all this.  The whole time on the way to the shop all I could think (unfortunately so) was, "Lord why?  We just sold my car, we are having to borrow another, and now this?  I can't possibly comprehend why you would want us to be car-less.  I don't know why you are doing this but there must be a reason."  After lots of quirky conversations (Doc's son is a really neat, intelligent kid who knows his stuff) about the guitar and playing a few songs I heard the engine cut on.  I was actually kind of sad to hear the roar, as I was enjoying such a sweet time with his son, daughter, and wife just playing worship songs, singing to Jesus, and enjoying fellowship.  Then I knew - Lord we are so dependent on other things in this life.  Cell phones, cars, air conditioning, money, internet, EVERYTHING!  No wonder your people are so lost in themselves, no wonder I am so lost in myself!  WE NEED YOU!  You are all we need to be dependent on.  !!!!!

Now here's the really good part.  The issue could have been one of two things:  a blown gasket head (which I'm told is not good and very expensive) or a hole in the cooling hose that would cost about fifty cents.  I think you know which one it was and I squeel at the fact: the hose, i.e. the LORD!

Here's how the evening could have gone, I thought on my way back to pick Pete up from work.  It could have died on the freeway going 80 in the fast lane.  It could have happened to Pete or I alone on the highway, had I not "felt the need" to take him to work, even though I could have used the other car that evening.  It could have happened on the way to class, instead of on the way home in which case no one might have seen me, or maybe someone weird might have stopped to "help."  It could have happened on a Tuesday, not an early release Thursday.  In which case it would have been dark and much scarier, which would have probably meant our mechanic wouldn't have been close by.  Had Pete driven himself to work, it would have happened to him at around midnight on the freeway in which case we would have been in a world of hurt.  And lastly, but certainly not least, we could have blown a gasket head!  But no, it was a fitty-cent piece!  All these things the Lord knew.  It happened in HIS perfect timing and his HIS perfect will.  What a blessing it is the be a child of the living God!

ALL THIS TO SAY - the Lord is so so sweet.  He knows us so well and LOVES the inner workings of our soul.  He knows what we can handle and who/what we need to get through the trials.  That evening I read this passage in my devotional at Starbucks and thought it particularly applicable for the evening's occasions:

"Woe to you who are rich, who are well fed now, who laugh now, when all men speak well of you." Luke 6:24-26  These are indicting words.  We can whole-heartedly agree when Jesus pronounces woe upon the self-righteous Pharisees.  But the rich?  That describes almost all Americans, by worldwide standards.  The well fed? Ditto.  Those who laugh?  Anyone who is mentally sound does that.  Those of whom other speak well?  Most of us have a decent reputation.  What exactly is Jesus trying to say here?  And why do His descriptions sound an awful lot like us?  
We should not dismiss these woes too quickly.  We know from other Bible passages - which Jesus never contradicts - that there is nothing inherently wrong with wealth, food, laughing, and a good reputation.  But these are sobering warnings.  Those who take comfort in their wealth, food, pleasure, and reputation - and who ignore God because of them - will be tragically sorry.  There is something inherently ungodly and dangerous in complacency, and all of these characteristics cultivate complacency.  If you have them, handle them with care; they are gifts from God, blessings given entirely by the grace of His goodness and not on your merit.  They are no cause for pride, only for humble gratitude.  
Regardless of how much money you have, know that you stand before God with absolutely nothing to offer in exchange for His blessing.  You are entirely dependent on grace.  Regardless of how much food you eat, know that you stand before God wholly dependent on the bread of His word; it alone sustains your life.  Regardless of the quality of your positive outlook, let your rejoicing be primarily in the pleasure of His fellowship.  And regardless of your prestige, know that you stand completely dependent on the reputation of God's son for the Father's favor.  Never lose sight of your poverty, and you will never experience these judgements.

So for those of you who made it through this huge ramble, I hope that you are encouraged.  Whatever trial, whatever issue know that the Lord is there.  He's knows his people and He loves US!  Can you believe it?  He is a gracious master giving us not what we deserve.  So like the song says: 
"I'm living for the day, you wipe these tears away, and I am there with you my God.  In your glory, all adoring in all.  I will bow down in your presence my God.  I'm living for the heavenlies!  I'm living for the heavenlies!  Yeah, when all of you is all I see, I'm living for the heavenlies!"