April 30, 2011

Palm Sunday ... Easter Celebration

Dear Readers,
I have had a VERY busy week! I meant to have these photos up long ago, but there was school to do, a drama showcase in which to partake, and a whole family of people who have needed a share of the laptop. ;) But at last, the work is finished, and I have several new photos to display. Enjoy!

 It looks almost as if it could be in a movie, doesn't it? It took awhile, but I finally found a way to edit it that made it have this quiet film-grain look.

One day, it snowed randomly, and as it was beginning to melt, I took the opportunity to snap a few shots. I don't know how or why, but there was a unique spiral formation in the grass that created this swirl effect as the snow slowly disappeared.

This is my sister's 'alligator skin' purse in the back window of our car. We were driving to our grandparent's to celebrate Easter a week early on Palm Sunday. I looked back, saw it, and clicked the button with pleasure.

In other words, strive to be as Christ-like as possible, and stop sinning! (It REALLY pays off!) =)

 Here is my darling new niece again... isn't she ADORABLE??

 Oh, also, my dad took these photos for me... I was a little preoccupied with cuddling my niece in my arms! ;)
My other darling niece - that's right, the drama queen. She LOVES having photos taken of her!

 She was just calmly eating her lunch, and I just HAD to take some photos of her. She kept making the cutest little faces at everyone at the table!

 What, Katie? A palm frond? Yes, indeed. My relatives thought is was a strange thing to take a picture of, but my mother took the opportunity to explain about my blog. I wasn't completely sure that I would post this, but once it was good and edited, I couldn't resist.

 Lulu (my niece) had a grand old time trying on my grandparent's famous dress-up clothes. It was great fun trying to find dresses that fit her!


 Oh, and somebody had to play the part of the Easter bunny for the egg-basket-hunt. Guess who??

 It was acutely embarrassing, it was REALLY hot to wear, but it was worth it to see Lulu's face!

~ God bless! ~

"For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;
 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; 
therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
 For to this end Christ died and lived again, 
that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living."
-Romans 14:7-9

April 16, 2011

The Loss is Gain

Dear Readers,
For a few weeks now, I have been reading this book by Leslie Ludy called 'Set-Apart Femininity', and it has opened my eyes to many new truths - truths to which my vision had been clouded. It is one thing to know something and believe it, and another thing altogether to carry it out in your life. Leslie Ludy's book has helped me realize the importance of putting Christ first, not just assuming I am because I set aside a certain amount of time for Him every day. She defines true beauty as living whole-heartedly for Christ, and forgetting self completely.

Radical? Yes.
Doable? Surely, with the Spirit of God.
Worth the trouble? ABSOLUTELY!

I was just reading Leslie Ludy's online magazine at her website, setapartgirl.com, as suggested by a very good friend of mine. The things I read were amazing. I was convicted to the core, and encouraged immensely to do some important sacrificing for Christ TODAY! She was writing about idolatry, and how something as simple as watching television or movies could become a kind of idol in our lives. (It isn't that I had never heard that before, but what she said and how she said it cut me to the quick.) She writes,

A woman ... wrote me a letter about how God had convicted her of idolatry in her life - worshipping pop culture through her addiction to movies and television. "What God calls sin I've been calling entertainment," she admitted. Bravo. Rarely have I heard anyone be willing to speak that truth so honestly. ... I've written in previous articles about how God convicted me of this same thing a few years ago. He gently opened my eyes to see that by filling my "down time" with the images and messages of Hollywood, I was participating in something that dishonored Him and grieved His heart. I was wasting countless hours of my life on something opposite of His Kingdom and His nature. Movies and television had literally become an idol in my life - something I was unwilling to give up. Something I couldn't imagine living without. ...I had been looking to worldly entertainment to bring the rest, refreshment, and pleasure that was supposed to be found in my relationship with Christ. In fact, I had started noticing that often when I tried to pray or meditate on God's word, my mind would be distracted by scenes from a movie or TV show I'd recently seen, and I would labor to get my mind back upon Heavenly things.
{End of quote}

I can absolutely relate to that! Truly, I cannot even begin to count how many times I've watched a movie even while God's Spirit was prompting me to leave and spend time with Him instead. Lazily and selfishly, I convinced myself that the movie wasn't that bad and it wasn't necessary for me to stop watching it; besides, I was enjoying myself, and even learning things! Well, Katie - here is the bad news: you are flat-out ignoring God's call! It could have been SO EASY for me to just walk away from that movie, but I gave into the temptation to stay; that silent whisper in my head which kept justifying my selfishness. Once the movie was over, I was sickened in the heart that I had not answered the Lord in obedience. After all the grace and patience and mercy and love He has shown me, still I continue to wander off the road and serve myself instead of my Savior.

Leslie Ludy continues,

...How could I survive without at least a few nights each week to relax, unwind and escape reality for a couple of hours? ... When I thought about it, I couldn't picture my spiritual heroes like Elizabeth Fry, Viba Perpetua, or Gladys Aylward spending every weekend at the movies and rushing out to see Spiderman 3 on opening night. I couldn't imagine Amy Carmichael or Sabina Wurmbrand getting hooked on Survivor or American Idol. They were far too busy living out a real-life drama with the King of the universe; spilling out their lives to bring Him glory, reveling in His abundant mercy and faithfulness; marveling at His unspeakable power, and de-lighting in the joy of His surrounding presence. ...So with the help of God's Spirit, Eric and I completely overhauled our "down time" activities. Time that we typically spent watching movies we now spent in prayer, serving others, and cultivating intimacy with our King. And though it was not an easy transition to make, in the end, the results were nothing short of extraordinary. For the past five years we have lived this way. Worldly entertainment no longer distracts me or eats up my precious time. My "down time" is spent on things of eternal value and my daily "refueling" happens through time with my King rather than time in front of the DVD player. Now that I have tasted the incredible peace and joy that comes from spending hours in God's presence, I have no desire whatsoever to return to the cheap counterfeit and temporary rush of Hollywood. I have truly discovered that in His presence {not in a movie theater} is fullness of joy. ...Making this decision has truly transformed my spiritual life in a way that nothing else ever has. It keeps me from spending hours of my week on meaningless worldly things and frees my time for things that really matter - like prayer. If you find it hard to believe that time in God's presence could be more exhilarating and fulfilling than time in front of the latest movie, I challenge you to try it for yourself and find out what you've been missing!
{End of quote}

I do not know if it is like this for everyone, but I know most of my friends spend a lot of time in front of the television set - including me! I have probably wasted YEARS of time on PlayStation games, action films, comedic TV shows, and animated cartoons. Yes, they were enjoyable, and there may have been nothing wrong with the things I watched in and of themselves, but the fact that they sucked up my time so that I had none left for Christ, or distracted me so that I couldn't even close my eyes to pray without seeing a picture of something I had watched recently, I was on the same road of emptiness the world was blindly stumbling over.

I could easily have plopped down on my bed with the Bible - God's precious Word - and found truth which brings eternal joy, but I chose rather to fill myself up with the temporary pleasure of a laugh-out-loud comedy, the pleasure of which will only come to an end. What about desiring worthless worldly movies over the pure love of Christ can POSSIBLY make sense?? If we are unwilling to give up our favorite movie to spend time with our Father in Heaven, then we are lost. If we think we can get away with withholding anything from the One who did not withhold His rights of deity, His place in Heaven, or even His life for our sake - we who are nothing but wretched sinners - then we better have another think coming!

Evening upon evening these past few weeks, I have known a HORRIBLE emptiness in my heart; a cavernous hole in my being from neglecting the Lord my God. I prayed and prayed and prayed for it to be removed, but it was not until I read these words from Leslie Ludy that I finally understood what had come between me and my Savior. Megamind and Psych, two of my absolute favorite things to watch, had stood up like a wall between me and Christ. I could not find Him because I was too busy staring at a screen of blinding lights.

Have any of you found that this same barrier has separated you from the Lord? Do not waste another second! Go straight to Him and put everything else aside! A hungry person would not bind their mouth shut, nor could they satisfy themselves with mere reflections or mirages of good food. They would unbind themselves and run straight to the real and glorious feast! And so, do not be satisfied with the mirage of pleasure and joy that the world promises, but unbind yourself; run straight to Christ and feast on His pure love, His true Word, His coming promises. Lose your desires, your dreams, your treasures, yourself - and gain Christ. The trade is more worthwhile than we can imagine!

God bless you all! ♥

When God Created Color

Dear Readers,
Once again, I was taking a walk - only around the neighborhood, nowhere particularly special - with my mom. It was a great time of day, great weather, and I had a great companion with me! I'm excited to see what you all think about these photos because many of them are unlike the other shots I have posted in the past; these are vibrant beyond anything from the before! Some of them are new favorites of mine. Most of them took much longer to edit than I had anticipated... And it's really hard to share a laptop with an avid Sims player. But the work at last is done. (Maybe I'll be able to get some writing in now!)

I hope you like the new things I tried! Some of the photos I took on this walk and had edited I decided to take off because they were too bland for my taste - I want photos infused with colorful excitement. My sister recently complained that I never took 'normal photos', that is, ones that weren't slightly crooked. I replied frankly, but with a hint of teasing, 'Well, straight photos are boring. I like them crooked.'

 I'm thinking this is one of my new favorite photos!

I just discovered the most marvelous effect I can give my photos PRIOR to editing them on my computer - it involves breathing on my camera lens so that fog appears on the scene. I discovered this effect accidentally: I was wearing my glasses and sipping hot tea while looking up at a pine tree. My glasses fogged-up when I took a sip, and the tree seemed to disappear in a smudge of cloud. That was when I thought, 'Hey, if I can do that to my glasses, maybe I can do it with my camera! (Sounds a lot like the measuring cup illustration  from my last entry, doesn't it??) I was so excited! My mom burst out laughing because I was so animated! 

 This is the first time I've ever tried this effect on a photo before! (I'll just say that it's REALLY hard to take a nice photo of a crow flying overhead.)

 Okay, this is one of the photos which I most definitely call one of my favorites! I couldn't believe how nicely it turned out when I first took it! (It was one of those, 'Hey, this might look cool; I'll just quick stop and take a shot' moments.) It wasn't blurry like many of my photos unfortunately are. Once it was edited, I fell in love with it. ;)

From the beginning of my photography-life, I've loved fence shots. Getting good ones that focus in the right/desired places is always a challenge for me since my camera is so simple and mostly automatic. It either wants to focus far away, or too close. I retook this photo so many times - I don't know HOW my mother bore with me on this walk! 

 Oh, and this was the other reason taking the fence shots took so much time - I was trying to get a good view through this hole. I learned this technique from a friend. =)

 Path photos are a real struggle for me. I still haven't taken a path photo that was truly satisfying; what I want is to be able to get a good view of the curve in the path, but it always seems so boring from regular height! I want to get lower and look up. Maybe I'm just too particular, because I'm beginning to think this is impossible! I guess I'll just have to keep experimenting, and keep an open mind about the issue.

Ah, yes... This would be the famous kind of characteristic about a tree which my family has called a 'gnome home' for as long as I can remember - it's just a cute little defect near the bottom of a tree where some little gnome could sit down and relax. (No, I don't believe in gnomes, but I do like a few lawn ornaments.)

 This has to be another one of my favorites!

 Now that I think about it, it was a pretty ridiculous layout I had here - I look like I'm trying to picture some defect on the front of the car, lazily and in utter boredom! The brick effect is what I was trying most to get out of this photo.

It's hard to notice, but the photo is actually tipped just slightly - I had my camera propped up on a carefully-crushed sodapop can!

Thank you so much for looking at my photos! I vehemently enjoy capturing God's creation, and it is my desire to give Him all the glory for the gifts He has given me.

God bless you all! ♥

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