Thursday, April 25, 2013

Celebrating God in Simple Beauty


Life on the Roller-Coaster has been crazy as usual this week.
The prospect of a new job has come up
and while I welcome the transition
it will still be a change and change for me is not easy.
This has been a stressful week for me emotionally.
My uncle is ill and my mother is planning a trip to Arizona 
in a few weeks to help care for him.
My sister needed me for some sister-bonding time.
One of my babies at Concordia Lutheran School needed a mother figure.
And I've been working through some of my own junk as well.

A week like this flat out exhausts me.
And when I'm tired, I get cranky and ungrateful 
and I start throwing pity parties.
I forget all the blessings in my life 
and instead focus on what I don't have.

This isn't anything new.
I've struggled with these issues my entire life.
But now I'm at a place that I realize my attitude is wrong
 and I need to do something about it.

Awhile back, I was playing around on Pinterest
and I stumbled across some LOVELY photographs of home decor.
I followed the Pinterest link to the photographer's website...
and found a Jewel of Great Price: Skies of Parchment
a WONDERFUL blog that inspires and challenges the reader to 
"celebrate God in simply beauty". 
To say the least, 
this charming blog and it's AMAZING author, Clarita, 
have, for me anyway, fulfilled their mission!

In response to Clarita's challenge,
I would like to announce a new "attraction
that I am adding to my blog called, 
"A Tree for the Week: Lessons from His Creation".
Anyone who knows me
knows I "have a thing" for trees. 
I think they are beautiful. 
And I think they are perfect examples of 
"Celebrating God in Simple Beauty".

This week's tree can be found on the property of my workplace:
The Greater Peoria Family YMCA.
The YMCA is located off Willow Knolls Road. 
I doubt it is a coincidence that there are several 
Weeping Willow Trees around and on the YMCA property.

As I previously stated, I "have a thing" for trees.
But I've always had a special appreciation for Weeping Willows.
The branches of a Willow Tree are flexible.
The adage
"Blessed are the flexible,
for they shall not be bent out of shape"
comes to mind.
The branches of a Willow Tree are strong.
They are easily tossed about in the wind,
but hard to break off from the trunk.
Reminds of me the parable of the wise man who built his house upon the rock.
When the raging wind and rain sprang up,
NOTHING moved that house:
for it was FIXED to the rock.
Something new that I noticed about Willow Trees this year
is that they start showing new growth before other trees.
As you can see in the photos,
none of the other trees are turning green yet.
This inspires me to stay sensitive to God
so that I am ready to receive His instruction and direction
WHENEVER He chooses to give it to me.

Lord, thanks for the Lessons.

And thank YOU for reading! Please comment/critique!


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring has Sprung & Love is in the Air!

Happy Tuesday!

I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl!
 However, I absolutely LOVE the different seasons 
and the colors that come with them.

This past weekend, my camera and I 
(along with my mother)
 took a walk around our neighborhood. 
We were intending to get a little exercise 
while enjoying the GORGEOUS Spring weather. 
Well, I don't know how much exercise we got
- we DEFINITELY weren't jogging or power-walking - 
but I did get to capture some 
LOVELY Signs of Spring

Also, I would DEFINITELY say that LOVE is in the Air this Spring Season. 
I was privileged to photograph a newly engaged couple, 
my dear friend, Bobbie and her fiance Fidel
These are not their "official" engagement photos, 
just some "In Love" photos including a photo or two 
that will grace the front of the "Save the Dates" :). 


Thanks for viewing!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Notes on Family

Happy Saturday!!!!

I cannot tell you how EXCITED I am 
that the weekend is FINALLY here. 
It has been a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG and busy week: 
Church Sunday and Monday Evening, 
Working all week, 
Ladies' Small Group Wednesday Evening, 
Editing pics during any spare time I happen to find, 
Cleaning last night,
2 Thirty-One Parties to attend this weekend (I guess the busyness isn't over!)

Despite all the rushing around (and not getting much sleep), 
I found myself feeling a bit 
melancholy and nostalgic
about a subject that is near and dear to my heart
as well as occasionally difficult and painful to discuss:
I fully realize that my last sentence may seem like a 
complete and total contradiction, but it is also
the truth.
 That being said, what follows are 
some random thoughts concerning Family.
These go in no particular order;
I've numbered them only for grouping purposes.

Number 1:
And the sooner you figure that out, the better!

Number 2:

Your family is who you choose to be your family;
 the people you choose to be close to, 
support, confide in, and go out of your way to be kind to. 
They are the people that, if at all possible
you can trust to be there for you no matter what
These are the people you can show your real emotions to; 
who you can tell the truth to 
- even in a yelling match
and they will still love you when the discussion is over.
I'll say it again, 
you get to choose your family.

Number 3:
Your family is human
They are gonna mess up and make mistakes. 
Sometimes REALLY BIG ones. 
At some point, they are going to let you down.
It's gonna happen because they're human. 
As humans, we make mistakes. 
It's just what we do.
But your family is made up of the people who love you IN-SPITE of your mistakes.
So love them in-spite of theirs.

Number 4:
No one's family is perfect.
You aren't the only one who dreads family reunions and birthday parties.
All families have their squabbles and insecurities. 
They all have annoying cousins, nagging aunts, and condescending uncles.
It's just how life goes
Love them anyway. They're your family.

Number 5:
It's a simple fact.
It's what makes family time interesting.

I realize today's blog has been very different from my previous entries.
 But I think it's a good thing. It's a sign of growth
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, my family is sometimes a difficult subject for me to discuss. 
I say that again to demonstrate that I understand the 
wide range of emotions that comes with discussing family. 
I struggle with family issues just like you. 
I have moments when the last thing I want is to be around my family.
Sometimes, they drain me instead of build me up.
Sometimes, they are overly critical and immature. 
Sometimes, I am too
But at the end of the day, we're still family.
And that's enough.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Very HOPPY Easter: A Weekend FULL of Photos

Happy Thursday!

I hope you are having a good week thus far! If you aren't, keep your chin up, TOMORROW'S FRIDAY! :) It has been quite a week for me! My boss has been out of town, so I've been in charge at work and it's kept me running to say the least! And, I'm exhausted! Regardless, I wanted to share the events of my Easter Holiday Weekend with you. It was a weekend FULL OF PHOTOGRAPHY (which, of course, is FINE by me!). Anyway, let's start at the beginning...

Good Friday - AM
          I got to sleep in (which was LONG overdue and completely WONDERFUL!). Then, I set about the task of putting winter clothing and boots away for the Spring and Summer months and getting out cooler clothing and sandals. This was no small chore, but it was accomplished without mishap.
Goodbye, Lovelies! I miss you already!
Good Friday - PM
          Friday afternoon and evening were spent at my dear cousins' home. Their youngest foster child, the adorable Miss Myah, had had an esophageal hernia repaired earlier in the week and completely worn her mommy to a frazzle. In the spirit of family, my mother and I, along with my Aunt Carol, took dinner over to the exhausted Mama Amber. We also picked up Easter baskets for the babies (let's just say, those kiddos did NOT go wanting this Easter!!!!) We were a little disappointed when we arrived at Steve and Amber's home and realized that the oldest two kids, Tiara and Dustin, had not had a very good day and were therefore being denied sweets in consequence for their incorrect choices. However, we conceded that "Mommy knows best" and simply saved the baskets for another time. As for Miss Myah, she was still sore from her surgery, but in a pretty good mood! Just look at her!
I am SSSSOOOO IN LOVE with this little girl! She's our Funny, Honey Bunny! ;)

Even though Tiara and Dustin were denied Easter baskets, they did get some cuddle time with Grandma (or Mawmaw Carol, as they call her).

Saturday - AM
          Saturday morning, after getting to sleep in again (YAY!!!!), was spent working on my Oatmeal-Carton-turned-Headband-Holder Tutorial.

                              See my blog archive for the full tutorial :).

Saturday - PM
          Saturday afternoon was spent doing my first Maternity Shoot (Pics to come later...the Mommy-to-be has requested that they remain private for the time being. She plans to unveil the photos at her Baby Shower in a few weeks.) I was more than a little nervous about this, but beyond excited at the same time. I had done my "homework" and searched Pinterest and several photography websites for poses and prop ideas. I am currently still editing these pictures, but I am generally pleased with how they have turned out thus far! (The Mommy-to-be is pleased as well which makes for a doubly pleased photographer!)
The Mommy-to-be graciously gave me permission to post this photo of her...isn't she LOVELY?!?! I would DEFINITELY say she has a GLOW about her! :)
Easter Sunday
          Sunday mornings are ALWAYS a mad rush at my house and this Holiday Sunday was no exception! I had a full list of people of who wanted me to photograph them in their Easter Finery and pretty much started the moment I got to church. I started with some "First Easter" shots of my precious little buddy, Xander (another set of cousins' youngest foster child). He wasn't in a very smiley mood, but I'm please with the photos anyway!

It was at the conclusion of service that the REAL work began! (When I say "work" I do NOT wish to imply that any of this was a burden...quite the contrary actually! I rather enjoyed myself!) I began with these two handsome guys, my cousins (Father and Son), Brandon and Colton. Needless to say, they were a riot to work with!

Then, we threw some more cousins into the mix! CRAZY COUSINS, Nick, Colton, and Nolan!!!!

Next up was my Beloved Adopted Grandparents, Gene and Linda Smith, and their beautiful Granddaughter, Amie, and her precious daughters, Faith and Ella.

Next, we brought in the other side of Colton's family, his lovely mom, Nicole and her husband Ralph, and Colton's younger siblings, Olivia and Dakota :).

Last, but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, the Kinney's!


Happy First Easter, Myah!!!!

Whew! Sorry for the long post, but like I said, I wanted share my "Weekend FULL of Photos"! Thanks for viewing. Please comment/critique!

Love, Sarah D.