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!


Monday, November 17, 2008


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.


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.


"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."



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.


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.


Monday, November 03, 2008


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.