12.30.2013

Monday's Musings - A New Year

A New Year is starting. 

I hope next year will be a little easier than last year. We buried my mom and hubby's dad two weeks apart. 

Then, my daughter got married. That was the highlight of the year for sure. But we had just buried my mom May 4 and my father-in-law on May 18. My daughter married June 2. Yes, it was bittersweet. 

One week later, my son had surgery. Two weeks after that, I had shoulder surgery. 

And now, I find myself on the cusp of shoulder surgery once again. My body doesn't seem to want to heal properly. At least I have a good surgeon. I'm thankful for that. 

By far, 2013 was a difficult year for me. 

But what amazes me is that I'm still standing. And it's not due to me. 

God has walked me through this valley. And He has provided comfort.

So once again, I find myself calling out to Him to get me through. To start the New Year out in His strength, not mine. 

I hope next year is easier. Who wants difficulties? No one I know. 

But I've learned that it's in the dark times when God's provision shows the most. 

My mom was a rock for me. I could, and did, talk to her and daddy about everything. Since my father-in-law was in hospice care, we knew his death was coming. And I talked to mom about it. She and I talked about her suffering. 

I have to say I'm so grateful for those conversations. 

Mom learned to lean in to God the more she suffered. She became more convinced He was in control, especially of her suffering.

And so, here I am, facing great physical pain. I'm honestly dreading it. I have to have this surgery to fix my shoulder. It won't be easy. But it is necessary. 

So, I'm realizing that if this pain draws me closer to God, then it's a good thing. 

I also want to end every year being closer to God than the last. 

That's been true for 2013. I'm closer to Him now than when I started. Even though the year involved great loss. And great joy. 

As I ponder next year, I hope once more that I grow closer to God. Through the ups and downs that will come. I just don't know what they are yet. But that's okay. I know someone who does. And He promises to never leave nor forsake me.  Deuteronomy 31:6

I'm clinging to that verse. 

What's facing you this year? Do you have a verse to cling to? 

My prayer is that you end 2014 closer to God and His love. 


Happy New Year! 

12.23.2013

Monday's Musing - Photographing Special Events

Well, this may not be a usual Monday's Musings, but since I've missed a couple of weeks of Friday Photo Tips, I thought I'd add them here in order to help you with the upcoming holidays. 

If you're blessed to have family around for Christmas or Hanukkah, I'd love to help you capture some special moments. And once again, every picture doesn't have to be ready for the National Geographic Contest. 

Recently, my daughter and son-in-law graduated college. Yay! It was a great graduation with a speaker who understood the value of short, sweet, and to the point. Even though it was short, his charge was powerful. Then, the students got to cross the stage and graduate. 


The president of the university hugged each and every student. Here is my son-in-law receiving his graduation hug. I like this shot because it shows the president and his personality. You get the feel of the ceremony and formality of the occasion. 



Here's my daughter heading back to her seat. Even though the lighting was tough, I love her profile. Again, this picture captures the "feel" of the event. 




After the ceremony was over, we headed to a little reception. But on the way, I took shots of them with family and professors. I had to take some shots on the fly. This is my husband congratulating our son-in-law. Notice there are people in the background. While I normally suggest trying to crop out others in the picture, there were so many people everywhere celebrating that it added to the mood of the moment. But, the focus of the photo is still my hubby and son-in-law.





Here are my two girls. Again, there are some people in the background. But that's okay. They're pretty blurred so they don't detract from my daughters.  






But as you're documenting an event, try and get overall shots. As we were walking, I got ahead of my daughter and hubby and took a shot of them walking. I loved how they were arm in arm. And their smiles. 

So as you take shots when you have family home, get some overall shots. Then move in closer. Take interesting shots of the presents, or lights, or food! Our memories fade in time, and you can use your camera to capture the mood and the people you want to remember. 


As we celebrate the birth of Christ and spend time with family, may you be blessed. 

Merry Christmas! 



Which shots do you like?

Tell me what interesting shots you've taken! 

Hope these tips help! 

Keep on clicking!

12.18.2013

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas



Welcome back! 

Sorry I missed my Friday Tips last week, but I should be back on schedule this week! 
So come back on Friday. :) 

In the meantime, enjoy these shots of my friend's home. 

It's beautifully decorated for the holidays. 

Link up below…

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!


Merry Christmas! Cookie cutter ornament.








12.10.2013

Wordless Wednesday - Nutcrackers



Welcome back for Wordless Wednesday!

Here are some of our Christmas Nutcrackers.

Join me on Friday for Photography Tips! 

Join LINKY below! 




12.09.2013

Monday's Musing - Holding on to God


Anyone who has lost a loved one knows how hard the first year after their death can be. The year is filled with "firsts". First birthday, first Christmas, first anniversary…the list goes on and on. 

I was a bit worried going into Thanksgiving. The commercials for the Macy Day Parade made me cry. My father-in-law LOVED that parade. Especially the Rockettes. 

My big, loving family….
If the commercials made me cry, I wasn't sure how I'd get through the day. But as it turned out, I watched the Rockettes in the hotel lobby where we had just finished breakfast. My eyes misted, but no torrent of tears! 

Then, we headed over to Daddy's to be with my family. My siblings were there. And my nieces and nephews. The house was full of life. And noise!

Of course we missed Mom. She's left a big hole. But she would have wanted us to get together and have fun. Well, we did. The cousins played and played. The adults talked. Or tried to anyway over all the ruckus! 

But you know what the cool thing is? God was good. I made it through. Yes, I cried one night. But I made it. It was hard. But God was faithful. 

Now, Christmas is fast approaching. I know there will be tears. (Okay, I'm a cryer if you hadn't figured it out.) Like when I pulled out ornaments my mom had made for me. Yep. I cried. 

Again, it's okay to cry. But I'm not stopping there. I get my grief out and keep going. Remembering the good times.

And I know if God could get me through Thanksgiving, He can do the same for Christmas. I'm holding on to that. 

I'm praying that God will walk with you through whatever hilltop or valley you find yourself in. May you find Him faithful to walk with you. Guiding you in your life. 

I sure am grateful for His presence in my life. 

Mary


12.06.2013

Friday Photo Tip - Taking Family Pictures at a Special Event

Welcome back to Friday Photography tips! 

Today, I want to talk about how to take great family pictures at a special event or place. 

My family and I visited the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. You can't photograph inside, but you can on the outside. So these are from that visit.

Let's get started. 

I want to show you what a typical shot that people take. This is a very average shot, taken by *cough  cough* one of my kids, who shall remain nameless. 

What do you notice about it that makes it average? 

See how our faces are right in the middle of the photo? The lion had its head chopped off. While my husband's face and mine are right in the middle of the frame, there's a lot of clutter around us. It's hard to focus on one thing.

So, it was my turn to get behind the camera and take a family picture. 

I made sure to get the entire statue in the shot and crop out most of the clutter around them. And, I turned the camera to the "portrait" position, unlike the one above.

Even though the lighting was flat, I'm still happy with it. Why? Because I'd been to the Biltmore House once before, back in the 80's. My mom snapped a pictured of me and my siblings in front of that same lion….It means something to me. Not every shot has to be jaw dropping. Just the best it can be under the circumstances. 



When we first arrived, my youngest started sketching the house. So, I got behind him and caught both him and the mansion in my shot. It's a picture that will remind him in later years how much he liked to draw. Take some shots of "mundane" or "ordinary" life, but make them interesting. We tend to remember the big events of our life, but remembering the details or mundane is pretty cool, too. 






Here's what I call a "mood" shot. I walked up behind my family and just wanted to capture the moment. My daughter was on her cell phone…or mine, actually, prepping to take a picture. My youngest had started sketching and my other son was looking below. He had probably dropped something and was watching gravity work! 

Again, I was just capturing the moment with my family. 


Hubby and son having fun at Biltmore
This is a picture I love! My husband and son had started goofing around while I was taking their photo. I took multiple pictures and I love how you can see that they were having fun. Notice neither of them are looking at me. But you can see the fun in their smiles and laughter. 

Not every shot of a person has to be directly head on. Side shots or shots from behind can be special, too. 

But notice how little clutter there is in the picture. You can see the mountains in the background. I cropped out columns and railings to make the shot just about them. 

So when taking people pictures, focus in more on them. Like the pics of my family and husband and son together. 

But if you want to capture a mood shot, make sure to get enough information around them to make the picture make sense. Like getting my son's sketch pad in the photo with the Biltmore House in the background. 

Is there anything that stands out to you in the pictures? Or one that you like? 

As always, leave comments of anything you'd like to ask about and I may include that in a future post! 

Hope this tips helps!

Keep on clicking!

Mary




12.03.2013

Wordless Wednesday - Giving Thanks!

Welcome back!

Here are a few shots of my family's fun Thanksgiving. We were missing Mom, but it was great to be together!

Come back on Friday for Photography Tips!! 

Join Linky below!