Saturday, December 27, 2008

Life 101>> an unillustrated guide

In my Christmas stocking, there was a gift that I had been looking forward to receiving. A couple of months back, I was in a store and saw a book titled, "Life 101 >> an illustrated guide." It intrigued me, so I flipped through the pages. The words of advice paired with often ironic pictures made me laugh. Most of what makes this book so humorous is the image portion; however, if you don't take the words at face value with nothing attached, it offers some nice advice.

Below are some of my favorite lines.

#1 Be Yourself.
#2 Don't blow with the wind.
#3 Try to be positive.
#6 Never be too proud to ask for help.
#7 Think outside the box.
#8 Do one thing at a time.
#9 Life isn't always fair.
#10 Sometimes it takes just one good idea.
#11 Always try to make a good impression.
#17 Keep an open mind.
#18 Beauty is all around you.
#19 Seek and ye shall find.
#20 Preparation is the key to success.
#22 Don't be envious.
#27 Don't be afraid to speak up.
#28 Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
#29 Plan ahead.
#30 Don't get carried away.
#31 You can if you think you can.
#32 If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again.
#33 Forget insults, remember compliments.
#35 Be a good listener.
#36-69 Respect your elders.
#70 Exercise regularly.
#71 The key to life is balance.
#72 An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
#75 Take an interest in the arts.
#76 Don't lose your head.
#78 Stay in touch with your friends.
#79 Be a team player.
#80 Remember to dance.
#83 Expect the unexpected.
#85 Honesty is the best policy.
#87 It is better to give than to receive.
#88 Do one good deed everyday.
#89 Love thy neighbor.
#91 Take time out for yourself.
#92 Be observant.
#93 Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can.
#95 Be a communicator.
#96 Learn to follow instructions.
#89 Always give it your best shot.
#101 Above all, just be yourself.

---

As a believer, my ultimate "Life 101" book is the Bible. I couldn't help but notice how many biblical themes jumped out at me in this list of advice.

Pick one or maybe several that jumped out at you and share your thoughts.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but one area that I need to work on is #92. The image paired with this quote in the book is the picture of a man holding a tray of drinks, walking and headed straight into the deep end of a pool because he is looking elsewhere. My mind tends to race and race and race, and take me several different directions in the course of a moment. I can be in a conversation with an individual but also across the room, solving a problem, eating a snack, checking off my mental to-do list, and planning for tomorrow's event all at the same time. Another knock against me is my terrible memory. I cannot remember names, dates, or details to save my life.

I met a lady once who had a little notebook with her, and as I introduced myself and told her what I was doing, she wrote it all down. I'm beginning to think that such measures aren't such a bad idea for someone like me. It's not that I don't care or don't have a genuine interest in someone or what they are doing; it's just that I allow my mind to be on overdrive so much of my life that too much information is taken in at once and then none of it is retained. So perhaps my problem is not #92, but rather, #35. If I practice both more often and even record some of my findings, I can be a bit more aware.

It's interesting, because most of my friends are highly detailed-oriented people who, when asked, could recount a night's entire events by person, outfit, decoration, sensation, surrounding, and environment. Such an individual would score a high mark on the preference "Sensing," in the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. It speaks of those who are in tune to sensory experiences, details, and the "here and the now"... what is realistically happening at this moment.

I possess the opposite preference, also known as iNtuition. If you tend toward the intuitive end of the spectrum, you are a bit more imaginative and "head-in-the clouds" with your thinking. You see the forest rather than the trees, and the "big picture" rather than the nitty gritty particulars. Correlations, patterns, and connections come easily, and your "big ideas" may be good but may also leave out important pieces of information such as pitfalls, bottlenecks, and deadlines. If you were asked to sum up an evening, instead of listing off a detailed account, you would tend to remember meanings, moods, and the overall picture.

S0, #92 comes naturally for Sensors. In fact, I was recently talking to my friend who is an "S" and she was telling me that she doesn't even have to try to remember details; she just sees them and they are there as information whenever she needs to access them. I marvelled at this concept. To me, I would have to write down the specifics or at least make an effort to assign some sort of meaning to them in my mind in order to ever remember. As an "N," I have to make more of a conscious effort at this, so it is my goal for 2009.

What about you?

I will be posting about personality types soon, so stay posted. It remains to be a fascinating concept and important part of my dealings with people in my life, and it's been awhile since I've posted about it. Stay tuned!

T

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vintage Memories

Today in church, the minister pointed out, "Today is the first day of winter, believe it or not. The good news is, the days get longer from here on out."

Sounds like music to my ears, for two reasons. One, it means we are halfway through the brutal weather, and two, the days will continue to get lighter longer rather than darker sooner, and as a victim of SAD my mood meter will point towards "chipper" more often. There is something about the dark night that puts my spirits under-- when the skies are cloudy all day long and to top it off, it starts to really dim around 4pm, it's hard not to become a bit down. I live for bright, sunshiny days. But then I am also of the belief that we must experience the dark and the dim to truly appreciate the bright sunny bliss (and I am speaking literally and figuratively), so it all works for me.

Tonight was the "Kaiser Christmas." Man, our family is big and growing. Over the past 5 years, we have increased drastically in number due to bringing more spouses and children into the mix. It's a wonderful thing to see how blessed a family becomes in this way over time. I looked over at the "kid's section" tonight while biting into my pizza and noted that it wasn't too long ago that I was sitting over in that area with my first cousins, although there were only about 8 of us and now there is around 15-20 of them.

How time flies, and there is no way to stop it. While at my Grandma's tonight, Kelly and I dug out some old photo albums and began flipping through them. This became a popular activity all at once, and we had huddles of aunts and cousins thumbing through the pages and reminiscing about old times, looking at the aged photographs, and comparing the looks of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to the current generation. I love looking at pictures, and I especially love it when it becomes such a nostalgic activity for those involved. It's so neat to see how times have changed and fun to hear about old memories.

I read a verse in Ecclesiastes 7 the other night that stumped me a bit at the time. I happened upon this verse very shortly after looking back on the "old days" and smiling at how wonderful they seemed to be. Letters in the mail, horse & buggies, bonnets and baskets. Then I read Ecclesiastes 7:10 which says, "Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these? For it is not wise to ask such questions." I was guilty of that very thing. I often look back on the "old days" with too high a smile, and I credit those times with an idealistic perspective of wonder.

After looking into the verse a bit and studying the context around it, I have a new-found understanding of the application. The chapter talks about wisdom. I could write several posts centered around this chapter, but tonight we will just look at verse 10 and the surrounding verses.

I found a commentary explanation that seems to sum up the meaning of v.7-10 nicely:

"The event of our trials and difficulties is often better than at first we thought. Surely it is better to be patient in spirit, than to be proud and hasty. Be not soon angry, nor quick in resenting an affront. Be not long angry; though anger may come into the bosom of a wise man, it passes through it as a way-faring man; it dwells only in the bosom of fools. It is folly to cry out upon the badness of our times, when we have more reason to cry out for the badness of our own hearts; and even in these times we enjoy many mercies. It is folly to cry up the goodness of former times; as if former ages had not the like things to complain of that we have: this arises from discontent, and aptness to quarrel with God himself."

I put the ending sentences in bold as I would like to pay special attention to those thoughts. Those words popped out to me. Today, we might say the times are not the greatest. Daily, we see evidence of continual corruption in our society, as well as an economic downfall that sheds a very dim light at the end of the tunnel. However, Ecclesiastes 7 points out that it is folly to "cry out upon the badness of our times, when we have more reason to cry out for the badness of our own hearts." Convicting? It made me think. Yes, times my be tough, but then, they aren't terrible. And even if we were huddling together in a box on the street without job or food, at that point, what still counts is our hearts. Our current conditions and the state of the "times" is less important than what is going on in our hearts. If all crumbles away around us, yet our mortal bodies survive, what is left? A human with a heart, mind and soul. And where is our heart? Where is it when we are prosperous?

This brings us to the next thought, "It is folly to cry up the goodness of former times; as if former ages had not the like things to complain of that we have: this arises from discontent..." What Ecclesiastes 7:10 is trying to say is that when we look back on the "good old days" with too high a prescription of rose-colored shades, it's a symptom of a discontent heart. Why? The truth is that the former days had its fill of tough times, as well, and should not be viewed as the "ideal" when we have been dealt the present. Furthermore, looking at the previous verses discussed, ultimately, it's not entirely about "the times" but about the condition of our heart during these times. It is not wise to dwell on what we did have or what we could have, but to live for what we do have, and in that, serve Christ fully with our heart focused on Him.

With all of that being said, I do not think it is so wrong to thumb through old photo albums or talk about timeless memories with grandparents and friends. This is a part of sharing and connecting, and I don't believe Ecclesiastes 7:10 is trying to shy us away from such fellowship. It's talking about the ideas discussed above, and how we should have a wise perspective about our lives in order to effectively serve the Lord.

Enjoy the ice land pictures-- water is such a fascinating concept. It's a vapor when heated, capable of absolutely beautiful formation when frozen, and in liquid form it is what keeps our hearts beating.





Love you all!

T

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas TrEAT

I can tell it's nearing Christmas.

Myriad varieties of food are showing up around this house hold. Party mix, puppy chow, chicken chowder soup, fudge, cheese cake, and the list goes on. I count this as one of many blessing in my life currently. Those of you who don't know me so well may not realize my adoration for food. I really enjoy the art of eating, and tend to do so frequently rather than infrequently. I'm one of those types that eats about every 2-3 hours on average during the day, or at least ideally so. When I get busy and concentrate hard, sometimes I forget or just don't make time. Yet it is among my favored activities, and I almost always look at the dessert menu when I'm eating out (just to see.)

Don't get me wrong- I highly honor healthy eating and feel it is so important to treat the body as a vessel to be respected. My take on diets is that I don't believe in them. Let me revise that statement... in some cases, a diet program is necessary to lose the needed weight for some individuals, especially for health reasons. However, in general, I don't go for the "I'm going on a diet to lose 5 lbs" concept. I hold strong to the truth that if we eat what will do our bodies good, such as fruits and vegetables, and pair that with appropriate entrees as well as regular exercise, then we can be healthy. It's about sustaining a healthy lifestyle, not temporary starvation or a cutting off of all carbs or an over-strenuous work-out schedule. The goal is to live within the lifestyle that will keep you healthy, and stay there. Otherwise, after a 3-month diet program, once you finish it, what keeps you from falling back into your old ways? If it's not about changing your lifestyle, then it won't be nearly as effective in the long run.

This may be a poor illustration but let me make a spiritual analogy. If we have someone lost in sin and he decides to go on a "diet" from these activities to become "better" for a few months, but then goes off of this "diet," he may be feeling better, looking better, and acting better, but what if he starts introducing some of those "old habits" back into his life? He may be good for a time, but what keeps him from "gaining back the weight?" However, if he instead makes an entire lifestyle change and allows that to shape who he is and become healthy, then it's a commitment. It is a long-lasting covenant to honor his life with good things.

Let me make one thing clear, though: As I stated before, I always check out the dessert menu. Living a healthy lifestyle does not mean restricting everything that tastes good. It just means having a balanced perspective about what you eat and when, and the phrase "everything in moderation" is a great one to keep in mind.

All in all, food was made available to us on this Earth and must be consumed to survive, so it must be important. I truly believe it is something to be enjoyed, and when it is used and not abused, it can be a wonderful thing!

It's interesting how I will come to write a post and end up in these tangents if only because of my opening thought. Anyway, since tonight's writing session has stolen the topic of food, let me ask you a question:

What is your favorite Christmas-time treat?

It can be anything from hot chocolate, candy canes, egg nog, and fudge to chili or chocolate-covered pretzels. You tell me what you crave most around the holidays.

Love you all!

T

Sunday, December 07, 2008

touched

It has been quite the weekend.

I headed up to Chicago with Holly on Friday morning. We decided to take my car because her new car was not available to her yet, and taking a rental up to the windy city didn't seem like the best idea. After fixing a "low coolant" situation, we headed north.

It was bitter cold. That type of freeze that grips your entire self and makes it almost impossible to breathe. All that you want to do is scream. Anyway, we toughed out the wind tunnel, into and out of a few different stores, after grabbing a late-afternoon lunch at a newly discovered corner Italian cafe.

I love Chicago in the winter. It dawned on me, while there, that I have rarely attended Chicago in the summer time. I always go up in the winter, when lights are twinkling on every corner, people are scurrying to and fro, and the snow is falling softly from the sky, adding a sparkling touch to the city's already-charming nature. It's so festive and fun, lively and musical. Every block introduces a new song, whether pounded out on a bucket with sticks or emitted as a melodic Christmas tune from a department store's speakers.

Holly's brother and sister-in-law live just blocks away from N. Michigan Ave., easily accessible by way of the El. (The title heading above the conveniently placed maps that try to somehow explain this very intricate transportation system call it the "Loop," but I learned this weekend that it is called the "El" because it is "elevated," contrasting the subway system.)

Anyway, their apartment is above a restaurant, more famously known as the location where "Return to Me," was filmed. We met up with her family and enjoyed some Nonna's pizza on the top. Then, we made the 4-block walk in the dark but festive cold to Moody Bible Church. It is such a beautiful church.

Among entry, we saw dozens of familiar faces from my church, including my parents. Our seats were on the side balcony, and we packed in to view the annual Christmas Program that takes place every year. This year's theme was "Jesus- A Savior to All." It may sound generic until you think about it. The program executed this concept by way of display of many different countries and cultures, and illustrated it musically accordingly. We heard a wonderful orchestra, mens' and womens' choirs, bells, the entire chorale, and saw touching drama. Moving picture visuals and narration was also incorporated.

It was during this performance that I realized a truth that I have known for quite some time, but it seemed to affect me differently. Music paired with visuals moves me. Really moves me. So much so that it is not past me to get choked up during a television commercial. There is something so powerful about what we hear that plays on what we see, and we you can easily make an emotional connection with the two (and you happen to be a highly "feeling" individual such as myself), you are moved. It makes logical sense. In some ways, it goes back to my "personality type" fetish- those of a more, "objective, thinking nature," may not be so affected, because their ties to reality grounds them enough not to be come emotional over a simple performance. Such an individual may instead consider the historical data that was relayed in this particular production, or marvel at the details and structure of execution. Yet whenever I see music put with picture, tears come to my eyes. Inspiration fills my heart, and at that very moment I want to go running fast to the "creating board" to construct my own message to the world.

Needless to say, it was an awe-inspiring performance that told the story of Jesus in a fantastic way.

Saturday morning welcomed us with a soft blanket of snow, and somehow, a warmer day. It came and went, and after a quick trip to Macy's, the group plus another couple ate lunch at Weber Grill. Holly and I split a burger, and then we were on our way back to Central Illinois.

I spent my Saturday evening in Bloomington outside of a Walmart, right behind a red Salvation Army bucket with a bell and a group of singers. The ISU Young Group huddled together from 6-8 pm and sang many, many carols. I brought some coffee with me, and started out in the front. It was very cold, but it was a nice view. It was touching to see how many gave. The little mittened hands of a child all the way up to the limping elderly dug in their pockets for change or inserted a crisp $5 bill. The feedback for our singing was wonderful. At one point I ended up in the very back so that those in front could be a "wall" of warmth. The only problem was that my view was blocked, so I had a tall friend nudge me whenever someone contributed. It was neat to see so many giving hearts.

I don't often watch television, as I see it as a waste of good time. However, a few weeks ago I had the News on as I worked, and the Salvation Army commercial came on. I love how it was put together, and all night I thought about it. This would be an example of a commercial that brings tears to my eyes.

The evening was topped off by a warm fire, lots of cookies and baked goods, and a viewing of Miracle on 34th Street in black & white. I have something to say about b/w films. I have never been a fan. I have always felt as though I am missing out when I don't see something in color. To the contrary, I feel as though at times, a black & white photograph is more effective than in color. Yet last night, after viewing the entire film in b/w, I had a change in heart. The altogether vintage nature of this movie, paired with its wholesome themes and Christmas-time message showed me a new way to enjoy the moving picture. It was a wonderful time.

I awoke this morning feeling a bit feverish. Also, my throat was very sore. It was as if I could not swallow. The thermometer confirmed a low-grade temperature, and my swollen glands and raw throat to boot kept me home from church today. It was funny, because I was not the least bit tired, and I should have been. With mind over matter, I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and then awoke feeling quite fantastic, as the 3 Advil had set in. Yet at the same time, I felt as though I was missing out. I don't like "missing" out, and I kept thinking about everyone at church.

Tonight is my favorite Christmas event that our church does, which is Christmas caroling. We go around and sing at several locations, and then enjoy a wonderful chili dinner afterwards.

Tomorrow marks the start of another predictablly busy week with Imagine Artists. Christmas Card Rush is still at high speed, but I think that after these next 5 days, we may be past the best of it. I am going to go chug some Gatorade now, and possibly take a little rest. Being under the weather can hardly keep me away from "work," and I have put in a few hours this afternoon, so I best be off to rest.

Love you all!

T

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Point (ment)s

Today I had two appointments.

Appointment #1 was a perm. Some of you may gasp, I know. It's not naturally curly. Never has been. I have pictures of myself when I was 5 years old, sitting at the barber chair with rollers in my hair getting my first perm. Since then, my hair has not lived without curls. Oh, I can straighten it if I want. But it's not that shiny, glossy "straight" that others can achieve. It's okay. I have come to accept the fact that my hair is curly and forever more will be curly.

Anyway, that was a nice chance to relax for a little bit.

Appointment #2 was a dentist appointment. I do not like going to the dentist one little bit. In fact, it is likely my least favorite doctor that I visit. First of all, the dental hygienists always try to make small talk while they are operating on your mouth, which is nice and all, but it is very difficult to answer any of their questions. I have yet to meet a dental hygienist who is either a) quiet, or b) talks the whole time, deleting any questions that need to be asked. Either way would suit well in such a situation.

Furthermore, it is extremely uncomfortable to keep your mouth open for such a long period of time while they use those drills to inject flavored paste into your mouth in order to polish your teeth. It's a nice deed they are doing, but it is just plain rowdy. I feel as though my mouth has run a marathon by the time it is all over. Before any of this happens, they ask my favorite question: "What flavor of paste would you like today?" And before I have a chance to answer, they list off about 5,000 flavors. I have always wondered why anyone would want the dentist cleaning their mouth with choices such as cookie dough, bubble gum, or passion fruit. I always opt for mint, as I feel it's the safest option and the only way my mouth will walk away feeling clean.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts on that particular activity. Now before you get me all wrong and think that I absolutely despise all dentists, let me light up the truth: that's false. Dentists do a wonderful and important thing, and in fact, I think my dentist is great. It's just the activities that I endure along the way that I don't enjoy so much. But God bless the dentists for all their hard work, and the dental hygienists for being such skilled "people" people.

Today was also one of those days where my phone would not stop ringing. Do you ever have those days? It's as if everyone decided today would be a great day to call. Not so. I was in public a greater portion of it, and by my second appointment I was finally smart enough to turn my phone on vibrate. I counted, and today was a total of 33 incoming/outgoing calls. Yikes. It's safe to say that 75% of those were business calls, but still. It was a social day for me. Now watch. Tomorrow no one will call, and actually, that would be really nice.

It was also very productive today, especially in the latter parts. From 8 o'clock until I began writing this post, I edited a slew of pictures. And maybe I talked to a few friends online, but really, other than the occasional chat session, I stayed on task. My friends joke that I will be the "old cat lady" some day, and I grab that title gladly, but that just to say that my cat hung out with me tonight. Her name is Belle, and she's a calico. She's great. She'd rather be in here than out in the cold, so it's a pretty good deal for her.

Well, I am hungry and it's WAY past my bedtime. I will be getting up in less than 8 hours to walk with my walking buddy, Heather. I best be off!

Love you all!

T

Monday, December 01, 2008

This Time

As I awoke this morning, a shocking realization hit me: when you work for yourself at home, there are no snow days.

Oh, well. At least it gives me something pretty to look at. And I might also note that it makes for very fun pictures. Check the Imagine Artists blog in the next few days for some fun family snow pictures.

I am making time now to write. Sometimes I don't give myself the "time" allotted to write. Whenever I get super busy, it's really hard for me to spend large amounts of creative energy on anything other than what needs to get done. This is actually how I view naps. Let me be the rare person who says: I despise naps. I truly do. First of all, I can never bring myself to take one. There is always too much to do in a day. In the event that I am actually bored or out of ideas, napping is usually not on the list. Naps always make me feel worse when I take them. I wake up disoriented, moody, and sick. Then that night, I can't sleep. So what's the point? There are nights when I get very little sleep and a nap sounds oh so nice, and if my tank really is on extreme low, I can't say I'm against a "catch-up" nap just to survive the rest of the day. But trust me that it is not a common occurrence in my world. Sleeping is for night time; the day is for productivity. I love sunlight and daytime, it makes me feel alive. So why would I waste it sleeping? Anyway, all of this to say, I have real difficulty letting myself relax or wind down with creative activities when I am busy, but nonetheless, I need to allow time for such ventures.

You may wonder why I am so busy. Imagine Artists is in the thick of the "Christmas Card Season," and it's no understatement to say we are fully immersed. I count our preoccupation as a blessing; we could not ask for more business. The snow outside adds a nice touch.

Speaking of blessings... we have many of them. Sometimes I wish I had less material possession because I feel like it would simplify my life. The less you have the option of "having," the closer you are to true joy. Stuff clutters your physical life and your spiritual walk... the more you have, the easier it is to trip over it. As the Christmas season approaches, people often ask me, "What do you want?" Honestly? ...really, nothing. Sure, there is stuff that I "want." Who doesn't want this or that, an ipod touch, an iphone, 6 boxes of chocolate, and that really cool CD. But all that stuff does is take up my time, and does it really make me happy? Or does it make me want more?

I have been thinking a lot about time lately, and how I use it. There are daily necessities that must be met, and often, lifelong necessities that follow suit. And those take time. But when we look beyond what we must do to live as humans, we find a whole bunch of time in space that is a gift of ours. The Lord has entrusted us with this time to do as we please. So are we pleasing Him with it? Does the glory go to Him in all that we do? It's a real challenge. If you ask yourself that question daily, it changes your perspective and your attitude.

With all of that being said, I am going to continue to honor time and close up... I have to make "time" for my bedtime snack. :)

Love you all! T

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Salads, Sunsets, and Soliloquies

Tonight I ate at One World with my parents. This was after the baptismal "supper" that I enjoyed just 2 hours before. Don't worry, there's always room for more. I enjoyed the Bistro salad with chicken (highly recommended, if you ever eat there). I also had a slice of pizza. But then I was still hungry, and we had "$5 off" coupons. So I took home a piece of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Pie. The guy behind the counter said that he almost never finishes that particular dessert; it's far too rich. Well, I really don't know what he was talking about because I had polished the entire thing off before we pulled into our driveway in Morton.

So now I'm sitting here, slightly sick to my stomach and thirsty. And ready to write.

We put up our Christmas tree on Saturday. We usually reserve the Friday after Thanksgiving for this special task, but we got a head-start this year. We have a family room addition with windows on the back of our house. Our tree is very tall, and it sits by the windows, so it seems to sparkle quite brightly. From the 4-way stop in Morton, you can see our tree all lit up from your car, so that's special. Anyway, tonight I was helping my mom assign sparkly ornaments to the branches when I looked outside. There was an incredible, multi-layered, brilliantly colored sunset going on, so I ran downstairs, grabbed my camera, and then outside in my socks. I started snapping away only to see "No CF Card" flashing right back at me. Love that feeling. After scrounging up a memory card, I ran back outside and into the alley that runs behind our house to capture the sky... it only lasted for about 10 minutes, but it was glorious.

This weekend was a wonderful reminder of God's great love. I heard 5 genuine, heart-felt testimonies on Saturday evening. They were all uniquely different stories of how God has worked. One story in particular was deeply moving and emotional. The words used had such a powerful impact that most of the crowd was moved to tears, including myself. This occurred by nothing other than the work of the Holy Spirit in a girl who was willing to be completely open, honest, and genuine. It was beautiful.

Next, I digress into "Sunday's Soliloquy's." I'm kidding, I'll stop with the "day" names (even though that was actually a fantastic title to my next thoughts.)

I'll first explain that I love quotes. I browse them often. The words of others can so often explain my thoughts and beliefs more easily than my own. I like to constantly expand the horizons of my vocabulary, but sometimes the mind of another can concoct a saying more witty, wise, or clever. I think that words can be very powerful. I also think that a picture can be worth a thousand words. Meaning a picture, in my mind, often holds more power than words, but words can also paint a picture.

Here is the quote of discussion tonight:
"We already have so much abundance. We truly do. We need not search too far. It is within. The reason we fail to recognize this is because we haven't quite mastered the art of being. For abundance to prevail, we must have LOVE, gratitude, acceptance and compassion."
-John Welwood

An appropriate thought to dwell on with Thanksgiving nearly upon us. This is a truth that I have come to know more fully over the past couple of years. As I search for "true joy" in this world, I always come back to one thing: Christ. THAT is the source, and nothing else.

What is the art of "being?" It is just that- to "be." To some, this comes easily. We just naturally "are." But to others, the search for "significance" often leads us to idols and insecurities that suddenly put up a barrier to how naturally we can "be" who we are. This is when we lose sight of the "One" who makes us who we are, and the ending characteristics of that quote including "love, gratitude, acceptance, and compassion" seem to evaporate alongside.

When we find our identity in Christ and seek to glorify Him, it is about Him. Joy results. Abundance is evident. But when we seek to find ourselves in society or in others, it is about us. Emptiness results. Worldly abundance may or may not increase, but joy always declines. Which is true abundance?

Whenever I suffer a loss, I always think of Job. I think: If I lost everything that I had- my friends, my family, my house, my material possessions, and my health, all would seem to be gone. But I would still have more than the rich and famous Hollywood Star who does not know Jesus. Regardless of my circumstances, I would still have the gift of salvation, and with that, an abundance of joy. Good news! This means that wherever we are at in life, we can all find joy and contentment in our lives.

Love, gratitude, acceptance, and compassion-- all wonderful qualities. I could do an in-depth analysis, but instead I will just say this: to obtain, we must strive to be Christ-like. When our ultimate goal becomes to glorify Christ, then we think Jesus, Others, Yourself.

Love you all!

T

Monday, November 17, 2008

Veer

A couple of weeks ago, my friend was flipping through a magazine that she got in the mail.

"What is that?" I asked.

"I don't really know. I was going to give it to you," she said, handing the publication to me. "I don't really get it," she confessed.

Upon thumbing through the pages and getting a brief overview of the content therein, my mind was already spinning circles and my eyes were excited.

"I love this," I told her.

"I knew you would," she said. She was rolling her eyes at me.

What was in my hands? A magazine for Veer Visual Elements. It's an online resource for photography, illustration, and type: elements for creativity. The pages give a "stream-of-consciousness" approach to finding a concept to sell a dog snacks, while clearly advertising all of Veer's elements of design along the way. Brilliance, if you ask me. Eye-catching, clever, a little bit odd but in a catchy, "hold me here" kind of way... that's marketing at it's finest.

Ever since I received this magazine, I have read it over and over. I keep reading my favorite lines to friends, strangers in the grocery store, and people I meet off the street. Ok, it's not that bad. Really, I've only shown it to a couple of family members and then some of my friends who happened to need a piece of entertainment, so I'm not exactly backing innocent strangers into corners and waving in their face. However, I do plan on sharing more with you.

The title is called: Achievement, Octane Fever, and Justice. In smaller print: The Possibilities (and Perils) of the Unfettered Creative Mind.

Could that last line summarize my mind in a nutshell? Perhaps.

We move on to the opening pages:

Follow a mind freed by massive choice.

Need a concept for selling dog snacks. Need caffeine. Triple shot, no foam. What's the angle? Taste? Crunchability? "Meaty" goodness? Why buy a dog snack? Why have a dog? (Visit Kristi's blog and you'll really wonder.) A pet is a wild animal curled up at the end of your bed. We love dogs because they don't have cell phones (yet). Dogs connect us to nature.

Dogs are the essential. Dirt, the smell of a forrest, where food comes from. Hunting for food at midnight.

I hunted for neo-retro sneakers at that slick mall. Slick is cool. Nowadays everything has to be cool. Dog bones need to be cool. They need to be... bauhaus. Modernism. Mods on Itlian scooters. Clean living under German aesthetics. Less is more. Less is more what? Image? Can't we just talk? Will anybody listen if we just use words?

Just words. Dog people are down-to-earth. (Except pink-poodle people.) You can say a lot with words. But it doesn't hurt to dress 'em up. Killer cocktail dress? Friendly sweater? A friendly sweater like you'd wear in a Christmas TV special.

Christmas in the mountains. Woolly sweaters. Big smiles. Hungry bears. Would your dog fight a bear for you? Would snack gratitude buy his loyalty? "These snacks will save you from a bear attack." That's a killer value proposition. But really, the only bears most people worry about are the Wall Street kind. Especially accountants.

And it goes on... I wish you could see the layout, photography, and typography, because the size and placement of the wording says a world of a lot more than just reading it from a computer screen. However, these words will have to do.

I really dig the concept, the words, the imagery- all of it. Good job, Veer.

---

Today, I returned to gray Illinois. Actually, the word that was going through my mind when the plane descended out of the bright blue sky from above and towards the ground beneath me was "drab." The trees looked dead; the colorful leaves are mostly gone. The sky had a thin-and-growing layer of pallid clouds that were hanging there, casting a dim light over everything. And then when I stepped out of the plane, that topped all. That was like the cherry on top, to get to feel that ice cold air envelope my entire being and remind me that even though I just enjoyed 80 degrees and sunshine all week long, colder days are on their way.

It's ok, though, really. I love IL, and honestly, it's where the party is most of the time. You can't beat the people that live in the heart of Central IL. You can give me sunny skies, bright pink flowers and 75 degrees every day, but in the end, it's the relationships that matter.

Anyway, my tank is about on empty... I got about 3 hours of sleep last night so I'm going to head that way and hope that I make it there within the next hour or so (making myself move in the direction of "bedtime" is a large part of the battle in my world.)

Love you all, I'll be back soon.

T

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sunny Skies Here

Greetings from the sunny southwest.

Needless to say, my time here in Arizona has been, as usual, fantastic. My love for this area never dies. It is so incredibly beautiful, and it seems as though whenever I come, the weather is flawless. Let me try to fully explain the magnificence: the sky always contains this certain deep blue quality... it looks like a painter just mixed up the color and poured it into the sky. The air is dry, so it's cool in the shade but perfectly warm in the sun, kind of like when you open up the oven to take chocolate chip cookies out of the oven on a cold winter day and your cheeks are warmed. Anyway, I will comment that I enjoy vacationing at such a location, because if I lived in such beautiful conditions all of the time, heaven knows I would not appreciate it near enough.

A few days ago, I watched my cousin's kids in the morning for a little bit. Her oldest was at school, but I had Amelia, who is 3, and Isaiah, who is 17 months. They are both precious. Amelia talked my ear off the entire time. About 5 minutes after arriving, we were sitting on the ground playing with toys when she asked me,

"Do you have a mommy?"

"Yes, I do," I replied.

"Do you love her?"

"Yes. Do you have a mommy?" I asked.

"Yes."

"What is her name?"

"Her name is Aunt 'Cole."

Kids are so precious. Her mom's name is Nicole, but all of her cousins call her Aunt Cole, so of course she assumed that was her name. Later, when I told Nicole, Amelia overheard me and said, "Mommy, I just want you to be my "Aunt Cole" too."

Amelia

Isaiah

I have enjoyed taking quite a few pictures while out here... this time, not so much of events and environment, but of people. I'm out here to take photos of my aunt's family for her Christmas card, so I have had the pleasure of working with all of her kids' families and their kids. I love snapping the individual shots of each child and capturing the personalities that come with it. Plus, out here, the weather is almost always nice enough to be outside, and the lighting is ideal in the shade at most points in the day. It's been wonderful. I will be traveling back home on Monday, back to cold, gray IL... back to my home front. I will be sad to leave such a great place, but it's always nice to be back.

Enough for now. Love you all. Enjoy your weekends.

T

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thursday's Theory

It seems as though I have a lot of scenarios with my blog tied in with days of the week. We've got "Top Ten Tuesday," "Wednesday's Wisdom," and today, I'm adding "Thursday's Theories." Actually, that name just conveniently fits in with my newest idea, inspired by a video clip I saw on Janell's blog from this post. His clever narrative was so inspiring to me!

It would involve looking into the hearts and minds of children. I believe that children are nature's most honest and authentic individuals. Somewhere along the line, age builds a bridge between "the real us" and "who we want to be," and we lose that sense of authenticity that used to come so naturally. As soon as self becomes conscious of others and lets society and insecurities dictate, that "real factor" is a slow but sure fade.

My theory is that most kids possess this innocent and authentic approach to life and its expression... and if you can capture those moments when a kid is so honest, so real, so true... it's a beautiful story.

When shooting (pictures of) kids, my least favorite environment is the one that happens most often: me with the camera, and about 3-5 adults including the child's parent(s) behind me waving hands, toys, candy, and shouting. It usually ends up working itself out, but I would rather it just be me and the child, alone. I love to just let kids "be" and follow them around, get to know them. The most beautiful times come in those candid moments when you are able to capture a little one's steps, faces, curiosity, wonder, and mischievousness. Let a kid show you the image, not the other way around. It's just a matter of being open and catching the moment.

In my Utopian world (I live there as much as possible), I would hand out video cameras to kids, walk away, and let them go. See what kind of footage they could come up with. From there, I think it would be awesome to construct a film about "Through the Eyes of a Child."

I think it could be a powerful story, if not altogether clever and humorous. Within the past year, I was inside of an Athropologie store and picked up a book called Postsecret. Some of you may have heard of this project, but it was the first time I saw it. Basically, the concept is this: anyone is invited to decorate one side of a post card, revealing a secret about one's self, and send it in. Many of these have been published into books, such as the one I viewed. This information is also posted online. It was a very intriguing concept, as some of the mail art and wording ranged from brilliant to shocking to clever to silly to creative. I'm not sure how this concept really fits into my video idea-- I suppose the correlation would be the effort to reveal authentic truths. In either situation, the goal is to catch the honesty that lies inside of all of us. Tell me something real. Show me something true. Narrate a story, reveal a secret, laugh and have fun.

So, don't be alarmed if you are out for a stroll on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the near future and you see a couple of toddlers running around with a video camera.

That might be my determination to bring to production my very first "Thursday's Theory."

Love you all.

T

Monday, November 03, 2008

Impromptu

It has been quite some time since I have come to the blog writing board completely spontaneous. Somehow, in my "old age," I have developed a certain sense of order and formality when it comes to these posts. However, seeing as my natural personality is to write about whatever enters my mind at any given second, this entry will fulfill those tendencies.

I will format this session as I often do my e-mails to others... I call it organized chaos. Or spontaneous categories. Take your pick. At least it's topical this way.

Oh, Snap
Ironically so, I found out a few nights ago that I was about 2 years behind in ordering pictures for my personal photo albums. This is absurd, considering my profession. However, I decided part of my process of enjoyment of pictures is usually about 75% of the way fulfilled by the time I experience life, snap the photo, load it onto my computer, view it, coo over it, bring it into photoshop, play, play, play, and then eventually share via web or other methods. By then, most outlets of my photo(s) have been exhausted and the furthest thing from my mind is to develop the print. But just recently, I decided it was time.

Another evident hobby of mine (most of my friends might call it an obsession) is to look at pictures. I'm not just talking about going through images online or viewing pretty framed prints. I'm talking about good ol' photo albums stuffed full of wonderful memories. I love them. I could look through them over and over and never become bored of their contents, especially when it holds some sort of sentimental value to me. Therefore, when I was reviewing one of my photo albums with a few friends the other evening, I deteremined it was about time to get some of my pictures developed.

Here's the problem. As stated earlier, I was about 2 years behind in this process. Currently, as I type, a total of 870 photos are uploading to Snapfish. That's a lot, yes, I know. But what do you expect. I spend my whole life taking pictures, so actually, this number should be pretty impressive when you evaluate how many hours upon hours of life I have captured in the past 2 years and from that I have only found nearly 900 ways of expressing it. Ok, it still sounds like a lot, even when I put it that way... especially when we round up to 1,000.

I like to think of pictures as snap shots of time that is locked away forever, as instant memory reminders. One photo can bring back a hundred memories, evoke a laugh, cue a sigh, or invite a tear. We've all looked at a picture before and have pointed to it and said, "Yeah, remember when..." Pictures hold so much power as visual reminders, communicators, and connectors.

This Weather
Has really been more than we could ask for. Seriously, I love it. I believe we broke some sort of record today. The way I see it, once the cold weather settles in, that's it, folks, until about May. So let's soak this up while we have it. I went on a walk at about 3:30 with a friend, and everywhere we looked we were awed at the intense, vibrant colors surrounding us. All of the sudden, everything pops. My friend remarked, "Every Fall, I think that I see a new color that I have never seen before in nature." Could be true... maybe God secretly adds another color to the palette every year around this time.

Anyway, I'm not complaining about this warmth but I was hoping that it would be cold this week. Here's why:

I'm Going to Arizona!
Next week. I leave on Monday. So, I was hoping maybe we'd get a few inches of snow and then I would be extremely ready to dive into warmer temperatures. Ok, I knew the likelihood of that happening was pretty slim, but I hoped.

Anyway, I'll be out there for about a week visiting family and conducting some photography sessions, so I am excited about that. Arizona is one of my all-time favorite locations to visit. Let me point out that in the summer, it is terribly hot. However, November is golden. I should be experiencing blue skies and about 80 degrees while I'm there. And the scenery is just breath taking. I recently had family from AZ visit us in IL, and I feel for them. When you live in a beautiful land all your life, whenever you travel, the viewing pleasures you get are inevitably taken down a few notches. Seriously, they see flat land and corn fields on vacation, and I get to go see mountains, cactii, and desert creatures. Yea!

I'll possibly post some stories and photos while there... so be looking for that next week.

Election Day
I have mixed feelings about all of this. First things first, if you wear your "I Voted" sticker to Starbucks tomorrow, they reward your patriotism with a free cup of coffee. So if you need an energy boost before driving into work tomorrow or your afternoon is dragging by, you know where to go (so long as you have voted).

On a more serious note, this presedential decision presents quite a stir in most people's minds and hearts... and rightfully so. Our country could drastically change in the coming weeks and months, and as Christians, we have got to stay on guard. My main encouragement is to stay true to the Word. When I first became a Christian, I had monthly meetings with the elder of my church, and he always asked me the question, "Taryn, how can they tell what money is counterfeit?"

Ponder, ponder, ponder.

"They study the real thing."

That principle applies to so many areas, and I think it is vital in this situation. If we, as Christians, are to truly know and practice what is TRUTH, we must be able to discern what is wrong by knowing what is right. Anything other than truth is counterfeit, and we will be able to actively assess these inaccuracies when we have studied the Word of God.

Satan would love for us to become one of both extremes: either fearful and anxious to the point in which we become paralyzed, or riled up and angry about the way things are handled politically, as if we ourselves could possibly do a better job running the country if things were just handled differently. The devil wants us either fearful or distracted, and either way he has us, our minds are off of one thing: the Truth. And that is his goal.

The idea of keeping our eyes on the truth applies so well to our current situation. Regardless of what happens with who is elected as our forthcoming president, one thing is for certain: God is in control, and He is true, and His Word is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword... and it is living. No matter what is in store for our nation in the near future, let's hold hands as Christians and openly embrace the Truth that is available to us right now. As fellow Christians, we may have different beliefs politically, but one bond we have in common is Christ. That will always trump all else. May this be a time that brings us together stronger instead of it being a tool for Satan to evoke anxiety and annoyance in our hearts.

Continue to challenge yourself and grow yourself in the Word, and memorize it. We all have the opportunity to own Bibles in our homes and worship in churches, a real privilege we have in America. Memorize Scripture and lock it away in your heart so that it lives inside of you and reminds you of the Truth. We may end up with a leader of our nation that makes us uneasy, but the Leader of our life will never fail us.

I'll be back soon...
There was about a 30 second pause after that last subject tangent, and my mind is completley blank, so that's my cue to wrap it up rather than force out another topic that wasn't on the tip of my mind. I'll be back soon, don't worry. Love you all.

T

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Top Ten Tuesday: A Step Back in Time

Believe it or not, I have had this blog since July 2005. I think it goes without saying, but a person changes a lot in 3 years. Looking back, I find it funny and almost silly some of the stories I shared... but, at the same time, it's a reminder of fun times and good memories. So with that introduction, I give to you the first Top Ten Tuesday that we've had in a long, long while.

I went back to the first 2 years (05-06) that I had this blog and extracted interesting one-liners and phrases for today's Top Ten. Please vote for your favorite... perhaps the one that makes you smile, laugh, or think, "What on earth was she talking about?"

July 2005
1. She thinks that I am going through an identity crisis because I claimed to be a tree… She's probably just jealous of my tree-like qualities.

August 2005
2. That paragraph is an excuse as to why when I slammed my car door shut (with both sets of my keys IN my car), my brother made the statement, "Taryn, some days I think you are a blonde."

September 2005
3. "You 3 laugh at so many things that AREN'T funny."

October 2005
4. Her secret dream is to run away and become a professional surfer, "even though I've only done it once," she says.

November 2005
5. I'm 19 years old and I'm already showing signs of extreme aging.

6. She is capable of being the lead role in my future dramatic novel.

February 2006
7. Tracy: Taryn, if we lived in Florida right now, I would invite you to the beach this afternoon.

8. Semis on the highway. I've always thought they should have their own highway. It would solve a lot of annoyances.

9. I like to know that I am going to get fed, and better yet, WHEN it's going to happen. It's called nutritional security.

June 2006
10. “I wonder if there is a bomb attached to it,” I remarked. Kristi stood at a safe distance, and I circled the balloon, trying to eye what could possibly be attached to its string.

Well, there you have it. Vote away! Love you all, T

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Way I See It #1

I started my morning in the dark hours of the dawn. Ever since I stopped working full-time at my job at the publishing company, I conveniently set my "wake up alarm" to 8 am. However, I do fill in when needed for the business, and they needed me today. So I was up at 5:25 am. Had to be there by 7.

It really wasn't too bad, actually. It's just that it's so dark out, and cold. So I decided that since my body has not seen hours so early for quite some time, that I should probably get some coffee. At Starbucks.

So I did, and it's a good thing that I did because it inspired me to add a new section to my blog.

Anyone who has ordered a cup of coffee from Starbucks may have seen the "The Way I See It" quotes on the cups. Or maybe you are an unobservant drinker and never really noticed those clever words hiding underneath the card board sleeve. Well, let me enlighten you.

"Sparking conversation In the tradition of coffee houses everywhere, Starbucks has always supported a good, healthy discussion. To get people talking, “The Way I See It” is a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures that now appear on our widely shared cups."

In case I never become a "notable figure," I'm just going to start my own "The Way I See It" section on my blog. Every week on any given day, I will post a "Way I See It" quote of my own, ready and open for discussion.

Today's TWISI is actually a steal from one source and an inspiration from another:
1. This thought was brought to the forefront of my mind upon watching this video initially posted on Rebekah's blog.
2. I actually first heard these words from Jerry Seinfeld's lips, so I can't take credit.

But it's a good point.

Here it is:

The Way I See It #1
IF the best man is actually "the best man," then why isn't the bride marrying him?

The way I see it, the groom should be "the best man" of the wedding. I mean, it's his day. He's the one who is to wed the beautiful bride. So what are we doing looking at his good pal or his closest brother and calling him the "best man?" It just doesn't really make sense to me. Actually, I am not so sure I'm real partial to the term "best man" as given to anyone in the wedding party. It doesn't seem fair. Like Jerry Seinfeld says, it should just be "The groom, and... a really good man."

Any other thoughts on this topic would be appreciated. I'm open for lively discussion. This is meant to be light-hearted and fun... so sit back, relax, have a sip of coffee, and share your thoughts. It's all about conversation-sparking.

Thanks for tuning in. Love you all.

Noteworthy: I am going to try real hard to resurrect the "Top Ten Tuesday" concept, as well. Keep coming back.

T

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Be Still

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching my little niece who is just over a year old. She is a very small, bright-eyed, and energetic child. Her little body can crawl across the floor faster than I can chase her, and now that she is walking, her speed is increasing all the more. Her name is Tillie. She cracks herself up most of the time, and has a continuous giggle that is contagious and precious.

However, Tillie is a spry bundle of energy and strength. If I had to forecast a gymnast from early babyhood based off of vigor, she would be in the running.

So you can imagine what bath time is like. It's full of splashing fun and lots of laughter. After the bath, there is another step: putting on her pajamas. No problem.

Well, as I did this, I discovered that there was a problem. Tillie does not sit still. She is constantly moving. As I maneuvered her arms and legs through the pajamas, she would squirm and twist and reach for anything to crawl away from the process. It was extremely frustrating and I marveled at her young strength. She was just completely resisting me in every way possible. I had to keep a constant firm hand on her. At one point I looked at her and said, "Tillie, be still." She looked at me for a second and laid motionless, only to squirm away in the next second. My point in all of this being, the process was very difficult because she was moving around and rebelling against what it was I was trying to do.

And that's when it struck me.

So often, we as children of God are so much the same. The Lord has a task that He wants to carry out in us. But we are so distracted. We look every which way, we squirm, we move around, we are out of focus, we rebel, we see a better alternative, we try to do things in our own strength. All the while, the Lord has His hand on us, and every once in awhile, we feel His firm hold. That's when He says, "Child, be still." Do we hear him? Do we listen? Do we obey?

I eventually got the pajamas on Tillie. But it wasn't easy. It could have happened a lot more efficiently and effectively had she cooperated.

Are we cooperating with God? Are we continuing to look at Him for our answers and then obeying Him when He speaks? It's the goal. And we aren't always going to be 100% perfect with it, but in the end, we will be used so much more effectively for the kingdom of God if we just obey. If we just "be still" and listen. If our hearts are right, He will eventually fulfill the work in us that He has set out to do... but oh, how much more beneficial it can be when we just let Him work without restraint. Don't push away. Don't squirm. Don't resist. Just be still.

Tonight I went to the AC nursing home in Morton to sing praises with the young to the old, and with the old. Words cannot describe the renewed perspective that it gave to me. As I looked out into the room at the beautiful faces of the elderly, it brought an instant joy and smile to my face. I love them, and they exude wisdom by just sitting there.

One lady in the front row had on every shade of green possible from head to toe. Her shirt had colorful buttons all down the front. I love that. She sang with joy.

A man in the middle sat, and I watched him during one of the songs. Ever so softly, he clapped his hands to the rhythm of the hymn as we sang. He was feeling the music. I had to look down, then. It brought tears to my eyes.

Another late-arriver sat himself in the front row and grabbed a hymn book. He was dressed in a plaid shirt and had gray crocs on his feet. As we finished up one song, he said, "Well why don't we sing 'The Solid Rock' already," he suggested.

"Good idea," I heard a voice behind me say.

It was. At one point we sang "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder I'll Be There." I paid special attention to the words because I saw excitement on everyone's faces. Suddenly I decided that I was ready. I'll share the last verse:
"Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there."

I wanted to be there. At 22, I wanted to be there now. Then it hit me, as I looked across at the sea of aged faces, that they do, too. They want to be there so badly. Look how many years more they have lived than I. How many seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years of wisdom they had accumulated far surpasses my measly 22 years. Yet we all have the same goal in mind, and it made me excited to think that someday, we will all be there together.

After the singing, I talked to a man who I had been watching during the singing. He word a plaid shirt, hat, and glasses, and sat somewhere in the middle. I wanted to meet him. He was very friendly and asked me about school. So I told him I had been done for a year and filled him in on my life's happenings. He offered me wonderful advice and was a true encouragement to my current endeavors.

It seems as though my posts lately have focused a lot on the very, very young, and the old and the wise. There is much to learn from both.

Love you all!

T

Thursday, October 09, 2008

tag you're it.



I was tagged. And as luck would have it, I'm a "random facts" junkie. So here
are the 7 random facts:

7. My office walls are purple.
6. I currently have a fettish with sock monsters.
5. I strive for and prize authenticity.
4. I'm not a fan of mushrooms.
3. Three things that will always bring a smile to my face: sunny days, coffee, and chocolate.
2. I believe that everyone is beautiful. Our pretenses often hide the ability to see it.
1. Fingerless gloves rock.

I'm tagging Tasha, Caitlin, and Sarah.

I'll be back in a couple days with a thought I've been wanting to post for awhile. Love you all.

T

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Whys

Last night during a sermon, I heard the phrase, "If only we could be old before we were young."

Think of the amount of wisdom we would have already acquired. Every once in awhile, I'll have the thought "what if I started life at the very beginning with the knowledge that I have gained up until this point?"

Imagine the perspective. I look back to as little as 3 years ago, and I am astounded at how much growing has taken place in that small time frame in my own life. You live and you learn. Different stages of your life teaches you different lessons, yet there is an overall gradual process of evident growth that takes place over time.

We start out as children, often with big faith and big curiosity. Tonight I was in a restaurant and overheard a little kid ask, "Why is there painting on the wall?"

The mother answered, "It's there for decoration."

"Why do they need decoration?"

Every answer is greeted with another question, and the one-word inquiry of "why" is a popular exploration. Children never tire of learning, as everything is a new discovery.

Yet as I now write about the innocence and preciousness of a child, I can't help but smile and know that this is the way it is supposed to be. If we went into childhood with all of the wisdom we have after a well-lived 80 years of life, what would become of our rich curiosity, active imaginations, and delightful questions? It's all part of the process. In fact, as we get older, we seem to lose that sense of wonder. It suddenly becomes unfashionable to be one of innocence. That genuine character that can spring only from the feet of a young kid is covered up and masked more and more by society. We would learn much to study a child. We all live in this world, yet younger babes that are more fresh and have not been drowned into the sea of societal pressures and image-building have a healthier glow, one that is authentic and real. One that has not yet been faded, covered, or masked by what face society tells us we must show. Children smile when they are joyful, cry when they are sad, and tell you the truth in no uncertain terms.

It seems as though there is a certain "wisdom" in our childhood that quite possibly comes full-circle by the time we are old. So my original statement of "if only we were older before we were younger" is an interesting thought and would certainly bring us an new perspective, yet I must conclude that in order to get there, we must first begin at the faith of a child.

Love you all!

T

Thursday, September 18, 2008

ReaLife

About two years ago, a certain passion awoke inside of me. I suddenly had a real desire to capture life. I have always been extremely tuned into my surroundings; some might call it being hypersensitive. Nothing in my environment goes unnoticed. My mind is always on the prowl, soaking up new information and reading hidden motives, perceiving facial expressions, reacting to emotions, finding connections, seeking perspective, watching actions. All of this combined creates a certain environment, conveys a certain message, establishes a certain situation. To me, not capturing these instances in life means missing out. And I do not like to miss out.

My motto goes, there is always something to capture. And this image capture always portrays meaning. It is a message locked away in time, always there for future viewers. It is one of the best visual elements that we have in order to get snaps of reality. I like the idea of capturing "real." Posed has its place, but candid life is what we live and know most of the time.

Pictures speak. They say something. As a photographer, you inherently take a shot with your own interpretation in mind. It means something to self. Yet you have to be okay with the fact that your viewers may not always clearly see your vision for the image; your audience comes with hundreds of more translations. And that's ok. Ever sat through an Art History class? A photography critique? Then you know what I am saying.

I relish in the idea of communication through imagery, especially when that is paired with an audio experience. Musical sound, and even often the use of silence, adds a dramatic emotional factor that can change the entire meaning of your visual. Sound plays on emotion and sets a rhythm, a movement, and a mood.

The other day I was in downtown Peoria for lunch, and as luck would have it, I remembered to grab my camera. So I walked around and took some shots. The flooding along the river alarmed me; I guess I did not know how bad it was. The entire area down by Old Chicago and the parking garage is completely flooded. Anyway, I took several candid shots, and will share 3 with you for your own interpretation. Let me know what these images are saying to you.

NOTE: Kristi and I are changing our business from Two Peas in a Palette to Imagine Artists. Disregard the "Imagine" watermark as you view these images. I'll keep you posted on when our new blog and website will appear.




Love you all!

T

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Noah & Oliver Project

My sister is in San Fransisco with her husband who is on business, so we had the pleasure of keeping her two oldest boys this weekend. Although, I count them equally lucky to be able to spend a few days with me. Mutual goodness. The charmed candidates include an 8-year old, Noah, and a 6-year old, Oliver.

I love kids. They remind me of the sheer simplicity and luxury of life back in the good ol' days when the biggest concerns were if you got an A on your spelling test or practiced your piano enough for the coming week's music lesson. Waking up early is natural, cookies after a school is a must, and running around barefoot outside isn't even a question.

Tonight I looked Noah in the eye and said with all sincerity, "I really hope you realize how easy you have it right now." We had been talking about school, so he naturally assumed I meant academics and started rattling off stories about class. Someday he'll know what I was talking about, but somehow, I think that the elderly look at me and think the same thing.

I told the 2 boys that I wanted to feature them, and so I took a picture of both of them and asked them a few questions. They wouldn't quite humor me with deep, philosophical answers to my heavy questions, but then, I have to remember that they aren't college professors and famous football players just yet.

Here is Noah.

He looks a bit rough and tough in this picture. But really, he has a heart as big as it can be. He readily shows affection, and is quick to give you a hug or hold your hand when you need it most. I don't say that lightly, as I am not naturally the affection-giving type, so I appreciate those who know how to give it in appropriate ways, and this kid has it down.

Noah is also very athletic. He has his dad's quick wit and story-telling abilities, and he has his mom's heart and fountain of knowledge.

Favorites:
Food: German Pancakes ("My mom makes those a lot.")
Sport(s): Basketball and Soccer ("Because I can't choose between those two.")
Color: Orange

Here is Oliver.


He is my boy of funny faces. Oliver lives up to his unique name. He is the independent adventure lad, always out searching for frogs, catching lightning bugs, and chasing rabbits. He has a tender heart and a precious smile. His face is animated, his eyes sparkle, and his speech is excited.

I asked him how someone would describe him. He seemed a little confused at first and he was frowning, saying, "I don't know."

But then he thought. After a time, he told me, "God's boy."

"Yeah, yeah," Noah piped in. "That's what I was going to say!"

Favorites:
Food: Cheeseburgers
Sport: Football
Color: Blue
Past Time: Game Cube "at home"

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These boys are a lot of active fun. We have been go-carting, out for pizza, miniature golfing... the whole works. May the Lord bless their talents and budding personalities, and grow them into godly Lights that shine.

Love you all.

T

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Job 1:21

Today was one of those days.

Not that is was exceptionally awful. It just wasn't wonderfully good. It was one of those days when I woke up with a thundercloud above my head, and I felt as if everyone and everything in the world was working against me. And to match, the weather was gray and gloomy.

Ever have days like that?

Somehow, though, as afternoon peaked, I felt myself lifting up a bit. A smile formed, my mocha coffee when down smoothly, and my mind had nicer thoughts.

All I can say is, even in the worst of days, we still have so much. Sometimes I take myself to the depths of Job, and I realize that if I lost everything that I had, I would still have more than a lot of people. Because I have accepted salvation, an indescribable gift given to me by the Father. At our worst, and at our lowest, if we have our heart pointed towards Jesus, then who could really ask for more?

Love you all.

T

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Biker's High

I went on a bike ride tonight with my music. It was wonderful.

It was about 7:20 p.m., the air was cool, and the sun was beginning to set before me. I rode into the sunset with many different melodies and smells entering in and out. The ever-nostalgic "pumpkin" smell of Morton drifted to me at one point, and a hundred childhood memories and feelings swept me away. I will always love that smell. On the bike trail, I smelled anything from musty to fresh to evening to garlic... and it was all an excellent backdrop to my wandering thoughts.

I like the idea of pedaling into a cool night with nothing but my music and my mind... allowing me to be "free" and "timeless" for those 60 minutes that I am gone. In that time frame, nothing else really matters except God's creation around me, and all of the imaginations that are evoked from it.

I went further tonight than usual, and was trying to decide where to turn around when the brush on my left broke down and the landscape opened up into a big field. Before me was the beginning of a breath-taking sky... reds, yellows, oranges, blues, and purples all splashed into the open, making the clouds dance. There was a bench cleverly placed right in front of this scene, and I could not help but hop off my bike and sit down for a second or two... I really enjoy seeing God's artwork in the sky.

On my way home, the sky was behind me, and every so often I would glance back (while trying not to fall off my bike). The picture only got prettier and more vivid in color and beauty.

Today in church, our elder ministered to us and told us how he visited his mother in the nursing home yesterday. He was talking to her and said,

"Mom, Dad has been gone for almost 30 years now."

"Has it been that long?" she asked.

"Yes. You know, he's missed out on a lot in those 30 years."

On this earth, 30 years is a long time, and a lot can go on. Ted said after he thought about that statement, he had to correct himself once he remembered where his dad resided.

"Actually, Dad hasn't missed out on anything. He's been in Heaven for the past 30 years. Given the choice, he wouldn't want to come back. We are the ones who have missed out."

What a perspective. Sometimes being in this life makes us so wrapped up in it that we think those who are gone must be missing it. Yet we have the amazing hope of Heaven before us, and who would trade that for anything? I was talking with a couple of friends this weekend and heard about seeing colors unseen in Heaven someday. Colors that far surpass the sunset that I saw tonight. When I see such extravagant scenes, I cannot help but think that it is just a small glimpse of Heaven.

Love you all!

T

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bailey

This post is dedicated to Bailey.

Let me just preface this: I don't even like dogs. However, drastic times call for drastic measures. And while IN GENERAL, I do not like dogs, it does not mean that I do not make a special exception to this rule if and when a furry friend should win over my heart. In this case, it occurred.

As many of you know, my very good friend and business partner is Kristi Zobrist. I have spent many hours over at her house, and during these visits, there was another living breathing organism who demanded my utmost attention. This happened to be an animal- a dog- named Bailey.

Upon first introduction of Bailey, I had my typical "dog" attitude. Over time, however, I got used to Bailey. Then, I started to started to say "hi" to the dog whenever I saw her. This salutation introduced a friendship, and before long, I was chasing her around the kitchen and patting her on the head.

Bailey showed me how to have an appreciation for who dogs are to pet owners, which is a constant support, a loyal protector, and a family friend. I firmly believe that a dog would do anything to stand by a person's side, and I think that is cool.

I have some great memories with Bailey. She was always there to welcome me at the door... and if she wasn't, I knew she was passed out on the kitchen floor. Upon my arrival, it would never take long for her to come over and nose her way into my business. Normally this bugs me, but with Bailey, it really didn't. Bailey also made me realize that I love the BIG dogs. The little ones are too easy to trip over and are slightly annoying. When I think of a dog, I think of a DOG... an animal that can stand his own, beat up offenders, and take ME for a walk. Bailey qualified.

Before my avid cat-loving friends mistake me for a dog person (because we all know that I'm destined to some day be the "old cat lady"), I'm going to close with the reason for such a post:

Sadly, Bailey's life came to a close earlier this week. It's never easy saying good-bye to a pet, especially one that has been present in such a big chunk of your life. However, if there is a "Doggie Heaven," Bailey is there... and I know it's slightly cheesy and cliche to say so, but Bailey really did touch the lives of many.

May her "family" be comforted in this time of loss... she was a great dog!

Love you all!

T

photography credit to Kristi

Friday, August 15, 2008

Oh, Say, can you See

Just got done watching the girl's gymnastics on the Olympics. Go USA! I'm so proud.

My mind keeps going back to Summer Olympics 1996 when we had the Magnificent 7. That team sticks out in my brain every time I watch gymnastics. They were so great. And now, Shawn & Nastia have done it for us.

I remember back when I was about 9 years old, and I thought I was for sure going to the Olympics. As far as I knew, it was just a matter of time. Looks like my imagination was on overtime, because I knew nothing about gymnastics. Yet for a couple of summers, my neighborhood chum and best friend at the time, Sonja, and I never failed to have our own version of a gymnastics dreamland. We taped the driveway to make a "beam," and made up little routines. Blaring energetic music, we would dance around and pretend to be executing tumbling passes. My dad walked around with a blue forehead from walking into the bar that we used to hang between the doorway in the basement, because our "bar routines" were a must, and we would always forget to take it down.

How times have changed. Now, I'm lucky to do a cartwheel that looks pretty.

Another thought I had tonight: Who even came up with gymnastics? It's a world of technicalities combined with some element of grace and dance. Who decided that the human body could carry out tricks on uneven bars set quite a distance apart, or that we could successfully do full body turns and flips in the air and land on a narrow beam that's several feet tall? Not sure. I guess we could gaze incredulously at all Olympic sports if we wanted to. It just really hit me tonight, though, how very difficult and precise this sport really is.

May those who are some sort of a gymnast live on and be safe, and pull off many graceful moves... it takes all kinds, and let me just say that it's even more apparent now than it was when I was 9 that I am not one who was blessed with such physical talent and coordination.

Love you all!

T

Friday, August 08, 2008

Keep it Timeless

I started this blog back in 05. Hard to believe it's been so long. Blogging is great, but sometimes I am overcome with old-fashioned nostalgic longings and I wish we could all rewind about 100 years in technology. These days, technological advances connects us all instantly in ways like never before, but somehow, it seems like we are getting more and more impersonal.

When I was in Jr. High, my best friend and cousin was Kelly. We had active imaginations. Among our favorite activities was what we called "Creative Time," in which we spent hours upon hours creating imaginary towns, people, sketches, drawings, lives, and productions. She lived just across town, but every week, we sent each other letters in the mail. It was usually a few pieces of notebooks paper with doodles, comics, and stories all folded up and stuff into a Veggie Tales envelope. The excitement of receiving a letter in the mail was big. These days, I receive nothing more than wedding invitations and junk mail, and that is all seemingly going online as well.

Recently, I decided to start writing in a journal again. It's so weird, but I love it. Something about capturing handwriting, sketches, ideas, and late-night spontaneity in one precious keepsake to sit on the shelf for generations to come... it's a tangible treasure. We can turn online journals into something you can hold in your hand if we print out the entries and stick them in plastic sleeves all bound together nicely in a 3-ring binder, but again... where is the uniqueness? The personal connection?

You may wonder why I would enter into such a anti-technological tangent, as the line of work I love and feel I was created to do is centered around that very powerful "T" word. Don't get me wrong. I could write you an essay on all of the perks and wonders of modern technology, but today I just wanted to look back into a past generation and appreciate the little things that we don't take a second look at anymore. Letters in the mail, hand-written journals, a house visit, a walk along the river, a delivery of daisies, and a Sunday afternoon stroll.

Is there a way to capture such timelessness with technology? Absolutely, and that's why I love my line of work. A visual snapshot in time speaks the same language yesterday and tomorrow... here, and in another country. It's my personal goal to continue to keep the balance between the super wonders that technology gives us while sustaining the timeless traditions and actions that bonds us all in ways the online chat rooms and blogging will never be able to do.

Love you all! Keep checking back, the goal is to update once a week.

T

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wordplay

I like words. Throughout the day, as I am working and listening, I often hear words used and think, "Was that correctly used?" Or sometimes, I'll make a comment and then wonder if I used the right word to convey what I wanted.

Thank goodness for the Dictionary application (Mac platform). I love it. I keep that puppy down on my dock and click on it anytime I'm in question. All I have to do is type in the letters and an instant definition and thesaurus function pops up.

I know, I know... that's usually the way dictionaries work. Little things fascinate me. :-) I just like to continue to learn and be accurate in what I think I know.

Another interesting feature that I have in my widgets is the 'Word of the Day' deal.

Today's top ten will list 10 very interesting words that I have discovered throughout this process. I know the definitions, and some of you may, too. However, your job is to pick a word you don't know and give me a definition. NO cheating! It's similar to Balderdash... giving a creative description may just make you the winner. ;-)

1. Guttersnipe
2. Alfresco
3. Labradoodle
4. Subfusc
5. Maelstrom
6. Gimcrack
7. Amalgam
8. Chortle
9. Mizzle
10. Hullabaloo

Good luck! Love you all! T

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Top 10 Things I WOULD Do

Last week’s post painted me as cautious in my activities at best, and unadventurous at worst. This week’s top ten will balance those two extremes out a bit.

Following are the top ten things that I would do. Some, perhaps I have done, and plan on repeating in the future. Others speak of “what dreams are made of” in my world.

1. Order Dessert
Every time. There’s always room. And if there’s not, this is where planning takes place. You must order light and eat less, because chocolate cake and caramel sauce almost always tastes better than meat and potatoes.

Ok, so maybe I’m not that extreme. But, whenever I go out, I’m not above thumbing through the dessert menu, if only to see what my options are.

2. Write a Book
It’s always been a dream of mine and a life-long goal, so even if I’m knocking on the publisher’s door at 75, I won’t be disappointed. I’m not really concerned about when this happens so much as that it does happen. In fact, I’d rather wait until later in life, because if I keep getting wiser with my years, then my book will be smarter, more charming, and full of more stories and testimonies.

3. Karaoke
Can’t say that I’ve ever done it… officially (unless belting out songs with friends behind closed doors counts). But I think it could be oh-so-fun.

4. Hike
A recent interest. A few years ago, this would have never crossed my mind. To me, it was always in the “outdoorsy-types” category… only for those who strap very heavy backpacks to their back sides, sporting the best hiking boots and running up the rocky mountain side while chugging from their water bottle.

However, a few late trips have proved that this activity is very enjoyable. I have hiked beautiful mountains in Colorado and Arizona, and among high points are great exercise, wonderful photo opportunities, enjoying God’s great Creation, and reaching the top with a sense of accomplishment, gazing across the land for a breath taking view.

5. Travel to all 50 States in one trip
I have a running joke with a friend that if we are both not married by 30, we will get in a car and take a giant road trip across all 50 states, stopping along each state line to get a picture. I don’t think she knows that I am completely serious. I’m going to show up at her house on January 2, 2016 with my car packed up and ready to go.

Anyway, I believe we should leave a lot of moments open for spontaneity in this life, because spontaneous fun is most often the best fun. And even though this may be labeled as pre-meditated spontaneous fun, it would be a memory worth making, for which I am sure.

6. Travel to other Countries
Another fairly recent interest. A few years back, I wasn’t too crazy about the idea of running over to other countries and experiencing culture shock. However, as my hobby in photography has risen, I see travels like these as an amazing way to capture some once-in-a-lifetime images. Beyond that, the opportunity to learn from other cultures and become educated about historic events, a variety of people, and a plethora of landscapes sounds so appealing.

7. Hot Air Balloon
This is questionable. I’m pretty sure it would be an amazing experience, but I just know that I would have a bout of doubt before boarding the basket attached to a giant balloon. Yet, my excitement would probably overrule any nervousness and I’d be up, up and away.

8. (Sail) Boating & Biking
What came before the motorcycle? That’s right. I saw a bank sign the other day that read, “Tired of rising gas prices? Come see us for your bike loan.” Aside from being a great form of exercise, it’s a “stop-and-smell-the-roses” approach that doesn’t require a motor and is faster than walking.

Boating– either by sail or speed boat. I’ve done both and enjoy them immensely. I mention this mainly because last week I talked about not really enjoying snow boarding/wake boarding, but I might point out that in order to keep a wake boarder happy, it’s imperative to have at least one or two other bodies on the boat… and sometimes it can be helpful if they don’t want to steal a whole lot of water time.

9. Re-Vamp a House, Business or Shop
I’m not exactly TLC, and quite honestly, I’m not handy at all. My grandpa was, and my brother is, but I must have missed that gene. However, I see many adorable shops and old-fashioned homes with vintage looks or even bright & bold d├ęcor, and it sends my brain rolling. Someday, it would be quite an accomplishment to take a blank canvas and turn it into a work of art. I would be outsourcing a lot of the handy-man work if it was a project which had a huge need of it, but the rest I’d love to handle.

10. Spread the Word
I believe the good Lord has placed within each one of us the ability to do this in different ways. Most of us have talents in which we can share, but a lot of us may be placed in situations where our unique personalities and backgrounds can be of use. It is my goal to always be consciously aware of this fact and not waste a single opportunity or moment to share by what comes most naturally, and even sometimes, in times when it may be unpopular or stretching.

Love you all. T