Books, Review

Brave Beauty Review and Giveaway!

A Book Review and Giveaway!

*Winner Robin H. –Congratulations!

“Lord, I’m looking for something good.”

This was my short prayer offered up a few weeks ago. When I came home late that afternoon a little package of something good was there, just like that, waiting on the doorstep.

In it was Lynn Cowell’s book Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You

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In recent weeks, our family has faced trials and storms. My little girl, my brave beauty, has weathered them right along with me –My big brother passed away and fourteen days later we lost a close family friend. In the midst of the grieving, school stopped for a week as we prepared our home to evacuate hurricane Irma. It seemed as though the storms just kept coming.

And so, my prayer for something good…

What a gift of love to receive Lynn’s beautiful book of devotions. A call for daughters to be brave in this world, no matter what trials may come or what questions they face in life and in faith.

Brave Beauty is 100 mini chapters broken up into three sections:

  •             Section: 1 I Am Loved
  •             Section: 2 I Am Brave
  •             Section: 3 I Am Confident

Lynn’s mini chapters are comfortable and inviting. I like how she describes these as “100 moments”. She talks to young readers in an easy conversational style with real life stories and examples. At the end of each chapter she has a space for your daughter to engage her thoughts with what she’s read. There are getting to know you quizzes, scriptures and prayers, an action to take called Becoming Brave, and space for your daughter to journal her thoughts.

This is a book just for her.

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I love the topics Lynn chooses. She breaks down her sections in the book even further with topics like, I Can Do Scary Things, I Can Stand Up For Others, My Purpose, I Am Loved… There is so much to choose from. Your daughter can read straight through, do one chapter each week, or pick a topic section she might want some encouragement in. There are no dates written on the page, so your daughter can go through the book how she likes.

This is an excellent resource for young girls navigating life and learning to be confident in who God made them to be.

Here’s to Lynn and brave girls becoming brave women!

 

THE GIVEAWAY! HOORAY!

A GIFT for Your Daughters! I received one beautiful book for review and one for a giveaway!

  • Leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy for your daughter, niece, or granddaughter. The contest will run Saturday, October 14th at 12pm through Saturday, October 21st at 12pm. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook for an extra entry! I’ll announce the winner here next Saturday.

 

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Weekend Wonder

Catching Lightning

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Weekend Wonder

I’m often driving somewhere when I look up at the sky and wish I had my camera in hand. This usually happens when driving the kids to school in the morning. How many times I’ve said, “Oh! Look at that sky! Don’t you wish we could keep heading east and watch this sunrise from the beach?” My kids usually respond with, “Mom, you say that every morning!”

But Sunday was different. Sunday was evening. I was headed to my car again, but I was stopped in my tracks by this sky. The storm clouds billowing up. Lightning rolling around inside the swell.

This Sunday show was a gift. There was no downpour, no window-rattling-thunder, just beauty and light. The storm was close but distant. This time I  went back and grabbed my camera and tripod and my son came along.

“Bye! We’re going to go catch lightning!”, he called out as we headed out the door.

The two of us walked west onto an empty golf course under the night sky. We  watched this mircale light show for twenty minutes…

and we tried to catch the lightning.

    Stop and notice God’s miracles.
 Do you know how God controls the clouds
    and makes his lightning flash?
Do you know how the clouds hang in the sky?
    They are the miracles of God, who knows everything.

-Job 37:14-16 (icb)

 

 

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God, Inspiration, Love, Photography

The Thing About Photography and Beauty

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I recently had an assignment to photograph twenty one women. Spending time preparing the images for the client filled my heart with joy. I saw these women on my screen and saw beauty in each of their faces.

But I heard something familiar when I photographed the women, “I hate how I look, I never look good in photographs, I hate having my picture taken..”

Guilty.

I’ve said these same words before. I’ve felt those things before.

Funny how It made me sad to hear it from others though.

And then I attended a BBQ where I had a conversation with a missionary Pastor. He was telling me about God and Grace and God’s love for us. He was sharing his own story about discovering God’s grace. He said sometimes there’s this tendancey to look at ourselves and feel frustrated. We need to work harder, or be better, or be at a certain place in our lives.

I was thinking about his words and and myself and the areas I struggle with. And I knew I felt exactly that way about myself, not where I should be. I asked him, “What if you don’t see yourself as good enough?”

He simply said sometimes we believe the lies we tell ourselves. We live believing those lies instead of what God’s word tells us about ourselves. Who does God say we are?

We are God’s workmanship.

I felt tears threatening the corners of my eyes.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses! I even included it in my book, I See the Colors God Made, on the last page with the little photo frame where a parent can include a photo of their own child. Why wouldn’t I dare to put myself there with that verse?

For we are God’s masterpiece

His work of art

His poem

If we are working towards grace, trying to do more, or thinking we aren’t good enough, then we aren’t believing what God’s word tells us is true. We are believing a lie and the lie accuses us and keeps us quiet. We don’t see beauty. We see flaws.

Guilty again,

but set free by God’s grace!

God already loves us. He isn’t waiting for us to measure up to standards we’ve placed upon ourselves.

This is how to see beauty. We already are beautiful in His sight.

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It struck me that when I worked in a studio photographing products, the products didn’t talk back on set or complain about their creator.

When I’m out in nature with my camera and in awe of the beauty around me, nature doesn’t complain about its Creator.

The Blue Jay doesn’t say, “I wish I was red like the cardinal.”

The Everglades don’t say, “I wish I had mountain peaks like the Rockies.”

God calls us His masterpiece and we talk back. I talk back.

I have a list for myself. Things I’d like to change.

I believe I’m not as good as…, I’m too…, I’ll never be like…

If I am in awe of the beauty of the world God has made, how can I say, “All this you’ve created is beautiful, but myself, I’m no good at all”?

If I look at myself as not good enough, in major need of something better, than how can I love others as Jesus teaches? If I don’t believe it’s true for me than it becomes hard to see others as God’s beautiful masterpiece.

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

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I pray I open my eyes to see myself the way God does.

I pray I stop in my tracks when I start to compare myself to others.

I pray I see the beauty in myself and others more often.

I pray I stop believing I’m not good enough and get to work doing the good things God planned long ago.

Is it hard to see yourself as a beautiful masterpiece? What is it God has called you to do? 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration, Photography, Time for Art, Uncategorized, Writing

Cliché Photography

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I read someone’s post on Instagram which stated the biggest cliché  in photography are sunrise and sunset photos.

As a photographer I wondered about this statement.

I thought about all the photographs that have ever been taken. Photographs taken by masters of photography, like those of Ansel Adam’s photographs of the American wilderness or Clyde Butcher’s photographs capturing the beauty of the Florida Everglades.

I thought about all the photos snapped a millions of times by traveling tourists.

I thought about all the sunrise and sunset photos on Instagram.

Why do we continue to photograph when it’s all been done before?

Is it all cliché?

Cliché: something that is overly familiar or commonplace *Merriam-Webster Dictionary

No. I disagree.

But I believe this thought hinges purely on the perspective of the viewer.

I believe the sunrise and sunset, the flowers, the clouds, the oceans, and the mountains we continue to photograph are because of a deep response within us to the awe and beauty of God’s creation. Each time we see, we bear witness to these displays of beauty in nature. We are captivated.

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”   ~Romans 1:20

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If we believe a sunrise or sunset is commonplace than maybe we have lost our vision or sense of wonder.

Walt Whitman wrote about wonder and beauty in the everyday and commonplace in his poem called Miracles

“Why, who makes much of a miracle?

As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,

Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan…

Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water…” ~Walt Whitman

 

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Shenanhoah National Forest

Annie Leibovitz, with her masterful career, has photographed notable people from rock stars to the Queen of England. And yet she has gone on to photograph for herself the places that capture the wonder in all of us. It seems her desire for some of these places (in part) started with a visit to Niagara Falls with her daughters. A photograph of Niagara Falls (not the celebrities she’s famously photographed) is on the cover of her book Pilgrimage.

Imagine your own trip to Niagara Falls. Imagine the feel of the cool mist spraying your face,  the sound of  the water rushing loud as you take in the power and beauty of the waterfall. Then you take out your camera to try and preserve some part of this majesty to carry back home. Someone walks up and says, “No photos allowed. It’s already been done. These falls have been photographed too many times, by too many people. They’ve been seen and visited since 1678. Niagara Falls has been written about and photographed by famous authors and photographers. Please put your camera away.”

We know its been done. All you would have to do is look to your right or left and you’d see hundreds of cameras all taking it in, recording memory.

But we come and we see and we feel and we capture these moments in our own photographs.

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I recently attended a seminar given by a National Geographic photographer. His career has spanned more than forty years. He’s traveled the world from America to Antarctica and there are still countries he would like to visit. The funny thing is, he qualified this with the fact that friends and colleagues in the field have been to these places he’d like to visit. Masters in their own specialty of photography, sometimes spending months photographing these places. He doesn’t want to go to these places to compete with their work, but to see and experience the place for himself. And when he goes he’ll still take his own photographs.

And wherever I might go, I’ll keep taking mine.

I’ve seen the sunrise and the sunset, but it makes me pause and I can’t help but take in the beauty of this world. It’s a gift. I stop and notice. My photographs are a response. A thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recycle

Cracked Window Panes

“Mommy, look! It fits me!” As my little girl’s hand sprang up at me the ring on her finger came flying off, hit the tile floor, and cracked the pretty pink stone on top. I knew it was an accident, but I was still upset. I couldn’t believe I had only gotten to wear the ring one time. It seemed like such a waste. I set it on my dresser and forgot about it…

Until today…

While listening to a Ted Talk from Dan Phillips about building his unique houses from reclaimed stuff, Dan shares a little bit  about the psychology of why there is so much waste involved in building. The result in part is something he says is buried in our DNA, our need for continuity.  He shares an example of what happens when the continuity is disrupted with this illustration:

“If we have a wall of window panes and one pane is cracked, we go, ‘Oh dear that’s cracked, let’s repair it, let’s take it out, throw it away so nobody can use it, and put a new one in.’ because that’s what you do with a cracked pane. Nevermind that it doesn’t affect our lives at all. It only rattles that expected pattern in unity of structural features.”

Right there listening to him talk about that cracked windowpane I thought of my ring. I bought it with a smooth pink stone. No cracks, no lines through the middle of it. Once that changed it was no longer good. My expectation of what the ring should look like was rattled and I didn’t want to wear it anymore. It wasn’t an expensive stone, the ring wasn’t made of sterling silver or gold. There was no reason to keep it. I typically would have thrown it away, but for some reason I didn’t.

As Dan Phillips talked about his houses made from reclaimed stuff he shared photos of his creations. I loved seeing those images of the houses he built. He took what was flawed and what would have been discarded and made something beautiful, something useful. I’m excited to wear my ring again now. It will remind me that what is flawed or imperfect doesn’t need to be discarded. If I change my expectations and look at something flawed and imagine and create, something even more beautiful may come from it.

If you have some time check out Dan Phillips’ Ted Talk and hear how he creates houses using from 70-80% recycled material. His talk is about 18 minutes. I’m curious to hear where you have found beauty and inspiration from recycling or repurposing an item that normally would have been thrown out.