Monday's Musings - A Bittersweet Christmas

Don't get me wrong.

I love Christmas. 

I love being with family.

I love giving gifts to our kids. 

Seeing their faces light up. 

I'm very grateful for loving memories from years past. My parents, especially my mom, listened to and watched us in the days before Christmas to figure out what we wanted. She used to look over my shoulder as I perused the jewelry section of the catalogue. If I lingered long on one style of ring, she would make a mental note and then secretly go buy it. They delighted and surprised us kids every year. 

Eventually, we all grew up and have moved on to have families of our own. Now my husband and I get to listen out for what our kids want for Christmas. We love bringing them joy. 

Again, I am grateful. 

But this year, my heart's a little heavy and Christmas is a little bittersweet. We've have probably had our last Christmas with one of our fathers. We're so thankful my husband's dad made it to Christmas since the doctors didn't give him this much time to live. But still, it's sad to think he probably won't be with us next year. However, we know where he's headed and he has peace galore. The hospice nurses have said he's the happiest dying man they've ever met. 

It's because he knows God's in control. Because he knows he's forgiven. 

I've never seen a man with such a purpose as my father-in-law. He's been using his time left here on earth to express his love and gratitude to his friends. To encourage them. To love on them. To bless them. 

It's humbling to watch. 

He's the one dying. Yet, he's focused on blessing others. 

That's because of the birth of a small boy a couple of thousand years ago. A baby named Jesus. Who came to live among us. To give us hope. To give us love. To encourage us. To bless us. To forgive us. 

You see, we have a heavenly father. 

He created Christmas. 

He wanted to add to his family.

He wanted to give the ultimate gift to his new, adopted kids. 

The gift of forgiveness and eternal life with him.

For that, I am grateful. We may not have hubby's dad for much longer here on earth. But we have eternity ahead of us. One day we'll be joining him in worshiping our creator, our heavenly Daddy.

A Daddy who loves to give us good gifts. 

Merry Christmas!


Photo Tip Friday - Taking Pictures That Tell a Tale

Posing for a Christmas morning shot
Well, Christmas is almost here. And for most of us, that means we'll be around a lot of family. 

It also means it's a great time to take pictures and document, document, document! 

So, what makes a good photo during the holidays? Let's look at a few examples. 
People are very important. It's great if you can actually get your kids, nieces or nephews to sit still for a photo. A posed shot is wonderful. However, they usually aren't going to pose for long.

Boy in motion!
That means having your camera ready for live action shots. Here's a picture of my son, excited and in motion! This isn't necessarily a typical shot, but it does tell a story. It's Christmas morning because the presents are under the tree. The oxygen tank meant Grandpap was there. The television is playing a special on Christmas in Yellowstone. And my son is excited in his mismatched socks!
Let's move on to other shots that document special moments. Maybe they involve pets. Here is what I call a "mood" shot. We have one cat who loves sleeping under the tree. I got down on my stomach to take this picture. Isn't he so sweet? You can tell it's before the hustle and bustle of opening presents. This is a nice memory. 

And here's another pet photo. Yes, our cat is actually watching the television while we opened presents to the Nutcracker. :) 

And lastly, here are three of our cats interested in an electronic lightning bug in a jar.                                The picture may be a little cluttered, but it shows the cats looking at the jar in the middle of my son's Legos, which he started building immediately. When he's much older, this will be a reminder for me of the time when he was little. 
So, what shots have you taken that your proud of or that are special to you? 

Leave me your link and I'll be happy to head over to your blog and take a look. 

Hope this tip helps! 

Keep on clicking!

And Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah!


Not so Wordless Wednesday

Today, I'm taking a break from Wordless Wednesday to participate in a blog hop about "the next big thing". . . it's telling you about the book I'm working on and then blog hopping to some other writers in two weeks to hear about their works in progress. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with a blog hop, it’s a series of posts linked to each other across the web. I’d like to thank Edie Melson for tagging me to participate!

In this particular hop, I’m answering ten questions about my latest WIP (Work in Progress). Feel free to post questions and comments!

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?

The Cuff's Pawn

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It was a combination of a character in the book appearing in my mind and then an interesting tree that spawned the story line. 

What genre does your book fall under?

Medieval Fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Good question. I haven't completely figured out who my teenage leads would be, a male and female lead, but I would want Sean Connery to play the part of Gammel. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Usually the follower, can Lucas put aside his doubts long enough to save and return Avelina safely to her father?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m fortunate to be represented by Jonathan Clements from Wheelhouse Literary Group. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took a couple of years for the first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Actually, when I started this book, I specifically wanted it to be different than what was on the market for teenage boys. And I certainly didn't want to try and imitate the greats like Lewis and Tolkein. So there are no vampires, dragons or talking animals in my book. 

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My critique group is who spurred me on to tell the story after they heard my small seed of an idea.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
 There is an element of power that grows with time and my main male character, Lucas, is finding his place in the world. 

Now I invite you to visit these next 5 blogs to meet more authors! They'll be posting their answers to the questions above on January 2nd. 


Monday's Musings

Man Down

One of my kids has been sick. For a while. 

Going to the doctor isn't fun. We can't seem to find answers. 

As his mom, I hate to see him hurting and suffering. I've even said I would take it from him if I could and suffer in his place. But that's not the way it works. 

That's when I thought about how God sees us. He is our Daddy, our Father. 

He hurts when we hurt. I know I hurt for my son. 

But my son's burden is not my burden. I can't take it away. But I'll share all of it that I can. I'll support, love and encourage him to seek God in the midst of this. 

I've been sick and suffered before. So I can point him to God as others have pointed me. 

Then, as he grows and matures and looks back, he can see how he was comforted and then comfort others. 

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corintians 1:4 

So even in the midst of the suffering and weariness, there is hope. There is a reason. There is a point to the trials. Maybe we really want God to just take it away. But in His wisdom, sometimes we have to walk through the valleys for a while. And then, in due time, we can comfort others who must walk through that valley, too. 

What burden can you share?

What valleys have you walked through? 

Are you still there or have you come out on the other side?

Praying for you as you read this.


Photo Tip Friday

Strong Lines  Part 2

Today's tip involves using strong lines in your photography. The last time I discussed it, I focused on using nature's lines. In going through my shots, I noticed that man made strong lines juxtaposed with nature produces some great results. 

So let's take a look at how to use man made and natural settings to create great photography. 

This is a shot taken at the beach. See the white stuff? Yes, it's snow. Part of why I took this shot is because of the great lines. And the snow. And the blue sky. And the dune grasses. It was just eye catching. 

Here's another shot where man's work and nature meet. 

The lines of the fences draws your eyes to the horizon. 

I loved the foot prints, too. 

Here's a different look. 

The silhouette of the church pops out because of the beautiful colors of the sunset. 

What I love about this is how the morning glory just grows up the fencing. 

As a kid, I used think of morning glory as weeds. It was cool that they closed at night. But they were still weeds.

Now, I just love them. They're so delicate and interesting. 

See how the vine snakes around the fencing? Again, it's the juxtaposition that makes an interesting shot. 

And leave a comment if you have a photography related question. I'll be happy to answer any questions I can or find you the answers if I don't know! 

Leave me a link to your blog in the comments if you'd like to show me one of your shots! 

I hope this tip helps. 

Keep on clicking!



Wordless Wednesday

Mary Denman

Thanks so much for dropping by! I do my best to return linky love...but alas, sometimes life gets in the way. But I will do my best. 
And stop by on Friday for photo tips!


Monday's Musings

Stunning Beauty

She was dressed in finery.
Clothes of a stunning, organic nature.
Glowing yellows.
Intense oranges.
Subtle reds.
Accents in green.
Or brown.

Highlighted by blues, 
both soft and bold.
Slight shifts of the fabric.
Flowing lines.
Fluid lines.
Ever changing.
Hard to miss.

The wind and sun, only adding to her beauty.
I watched for an hour. Maybe more.
Enjoying her presence.
Utterly mesmerized.

Many drove past.
No one else seemed to even see the remarkable sight.
They neither slowed down, nor stopped.
But I cherished the fact I could see and study such beauty.

For the finery is fleeting.
Leaf by leaf, the tree began to lose her cloak.
But her beauty is embedded in my mind’s eye.
I am blessed to have spent time alone, watching.
Appreciating her stunning beauty. 


Wordless Wednesday

Thanksgiving is certainly a day to think about our blessings. 
Family and friends and relationships often come to mind. 
For some, it's a day of celebration of being together and enjoying good times.
For some, it's a day of sadness, missing loved ones who can't sit at the table.
So whether or not our table is full, or missing someone, we can give thanks.
And whether that table is fully set with china and silver, or humbly set with paper plates and plastic forks, we can stop and give thanks. 
Through our laughter.
Through the tears. 

I pray that God will bless you this Thursday. 
And that you feel His love. 


Wordless Wednesday

Thanks for dropping by! I do my best to return the Linky love!

Stop back by on Fridays for "Photo Tip Friday"

Happy WW!



Monday's Musings

We are fast approaching Thanksgiving. So I decided to show you a few of the people I'm most thankful. 

Here's my family. That's my wonderful husband of 25 years in the back. And my kids.

You know what I love about my family?

They love each other.

After dinner one night, I had my camera handy and was getting a shot of "the last supper" before my daughter headed off to college. Do you see how much fun they were having? They were joking and laughing. This picture just makes me smile.

And here are my boys wrestling with each other. Yes, the youngest two have to gang up on their big brother. They were having fun.

And I'm thankful for that.

I'm also thankful for music. My daughter just loves to go sit and play. She composes her own songs. I love listening to her. And so does one of our cats! A couple of my kids will just start singing. I love that, too.

I have five kids. My life is busy. But truthfully, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I have much to be thankful for. And a wonderful family is at the top of my list!

Take a few minutes to think about what's important in life and what you have to be thankful for.

And I'd love to hear what YOU are thankful for! 


Photo Tip Friday

Part One - Strong Lines in Nature

Today's photo tip is learning how to use strong lines to create unique shots.

Let's get started.

The shot to the right is of an extremely interesting log that is covered in a beautiful striped fungi. Notice the strong vertical line that I used to show off this log? It's not completely centered, but it does run vertically. And it catches your eye.

Don't feel it has to run straight through the center of the frame. But do use vertical lines.

But let's look at a different use of lines.

This hosta leaf doesn't have straight lines. They're curved. So to make this photograph stronger, I made sure to focus fairly closely. I don't have any edges showing because that would introduce other lines that would be distracting.

Close in on your lines to take a better shot.
 And now to some winter shots.

These are icicles. They lend themselves to vertical lines.

Aren't they just beautiful?

These next two shots involve frozen rain on some small branches.

I felt this shot was most powerful taken horizontally. And notice this branch is straight as compared to the next shot which is a curved branch covered in ice.

Try different angles with any subject. While both of these photos are taken horizontally, they have a different feel to them.

And as a parting shot, notice how simple this picture is. I got down low and looked up, using the deep blue, clear sky as a simple background to set off the twig and the single drop of ice.

This shot uses both a vertical and horizontal element to strong effect.

So start looking for strong lines that stand out in nature, and see what gorgeous pictures you can take.

Go grab your camera and experiment.

Hope this tip helps!

Keep on clicking!


Wordless Wednesday

Mary Denman Photography

Thanks for dropping by.  I'll do my best to return the linky love. And thanks for the comments.

And yes, I actually went into the river barefoot to get some of my shots. My toes were numb. For quite a while.  Happy WW!


Monday's Musings

Some days, my heart is heavy.

Saying goodbye to a pet snake
It may be from big things like watching a loved one dying. Or it could be watching some one we love struggle with chronic illness. And feeling helpless for them. By being separated from our loved one in their time of need. Or suffering ourselves.

Little things can add up too. Disappointment over plans gone awry. Pets that get sick. Children that are sick. Changes in jobs, or location. Losing a friendship. Hurtful words spoken in anger.

While we want our lives to be happy and fun all the time, that just doesn't happen.

I'll be the first to admit that I'd rather be happy all the time. But that's not quite reality.

So what is reality?

Life hurts at times. Deeply sometimes.

But as a Christian, we have a hope that doesn't make sense. You see, we have a high priest who came to earth and suffered for us. For you. For me.

He put on an earthly body and felt our pain. Physical pain during the crucifixion. Emotional pain of betrayal. Hatred at the hands of those he came to save. He offered forgiveness for those who murdered him.

So when we suffer, or are sad and disappointed, it's easy to feel alone. Separated. Cut off.

But remember that there is One we can always cry out to. One who understands. One who understands our deepest pain, hurt and shame. And the One who can forgive and comfort us.

Ephesians 4:14-16
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

So if your heart is heavy, turn to the One who can comfort you. The One who loves you more than you can comprehend.


Photo Tip Friday

Today's tip for improving your photography is to learn to use light more effectively.

Lighting is a huge topic so I'll apply it to fall leaves.

I'm going to start out with a picture where the lighting wasn't right. Sometime you can try and force a shot, but it just doesn't come out how you really want it.

What's wrong with this picture? Well, the leaves in the foreground are dark. There's not much direct sunlight on the leaves. But the background is extremely bright. In some cases, this might work. But it didn't here. There isn't a good focal point.

How about this shot? See the difference in using proper lighting? This shot pops. It almost looks like it's on fire.

Why? Because I got the lighting right. This tree was in a yard on the corner of a road. So, I drove to the side where the sun was behind the tree, illuminating the leaves.

As I've said before, move around your subject to catch the best angle. Whether it's a tree, person or your pet.

This is a close up of the tree. Notice how I isolated the trunk. I like this photo because it has an interesting contrast. The trunk looks almost black and that sets off the brilliance of the leaves.

This is a different take on using light behind your subject to create a memorable shot.

Again, in this case, the sun was behind the leaf. Look at the shadows created. It takes an ordinary leaf and make a very unique shot.

So, when you're out and about with your camera, look for opportunities to let the sunlight create beautiful moments you can catch.

Go grab your camera and head out.

Hope this tip helps!

Keep on clicking!


Wordless Wednesday


Fall Leaves

Mary Denman Photography
Thanks for stopping by!

Comments are most appreciated and if you link up, I will do my best to drop by your site. :)

And, come back by on Fridays for Photography Tips!

Happy Wordless Wednesday!