Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

When I was 13 years old, my whole world was turned upside down....or at least it headed WAY down south!!  I had to leave the country of my birth - "the true, north, strong and free" or in the words of Doug and Bob McKenzie, "the Great White North" - to reside in the desert southwest.  I went from way past the northern border of the US to almost the southern edge of it!!

But my world wasn't  turned upside down by the climate - I was excited to live in a land with not an ounce of permafrost in it!  It wasn't the difference in demographics or the school system - I knew I could navigate those.  No...what turned my world upside down was a relatively small portion of my day which, in my junior high reality loomed LARGE!!

That's right....Middle School Lunch Hour!!

See as a new student, I knew how to play the part in all the classes, but as we approached lunch on that first day, I felt that sinking, "oh crap" feeling.  Who would I sit with? What would I do?  Was there any place else to hide?

All these nervous thoughts raced through my mind and in the very blood pumping through my thirteen year old body.  That is until I heard the words..."Hey, would you like to sit with us at lunch?"

At those words time stopped....fears melted...a smile (full of braces, of course) broke out on my face.  Ahh...the power of an invitation!!

There really is incredible power in an invitation!  It can fill our souls with delight, bring a sense of peace or become the electricity that gives us confidence.  Why?  Because an invitation carries with it two hidden messages that our hearts can hear beneath the words that are spoken:
1)  "I was thinking about you"
2)  "I want you to join me in something that is important to me"

In other words, an invitation lets us know we are pursued and that we belong.

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to a birthday party of a local author.  She and I have had coffee a handful of times over the last two years, but her invitation to me told me that I was counted among her friends.  What an honor!  Then there is a family who has invited my family over for dinner in a week or so.  It won't be anything fancy, but not to worry...better than food, their invitation says to us "you are worth getting to know".  And recently I had a group of three other women invite me to be part of a weekly gathering they have had going on for a couple of years.  That invitation says to me, "There is always room for others to belong and today, we pick you."

Ahh...the power of an invitation!!

I will never forget those 2 girls who invited me to eat lunch with them on my first day of seventh grade in Arizona.  They changed my world when they issued that invitation.  And the crazy thing is??  Sometimes I find myself in situations where I look across the room and see another person all by herself....and I recognize the look on the face.  It is the look of a scared junior higher, looking out over a crowded cafeteria wondering if anyone will talk to them.  It is that "oh crap" moment all over again.  (I know, because it still happens to me too!).  In that moment, I know what to do...I take a deep breath, walk across the room and proceed to give an invitation.

May we all give an invitation to someone this week who needs to know that they are worth knowing and they belong!!  (hint:  that is pretty much everyone!)

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some Good Eats {My Family}

It has been a rainy few days around here and the only thing I have been photographing are volleyball tournaments (indoors)!!  While that rain is falling out my window, it always leads me to be a little domestic and try my hand at some baking. an attempt to find protein bars that are 1) good, 2) not super expensive, and 3) my kids will eat is what I've discovered.

Basic Recipe is as follows:
(Preheat the oven to 350 degrees)

In one bowl, mix together.....

1 cup whey protein powder
1/2 cup spelt flour
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup wheat bran (or oat bran)
1/2 cup ground flax seed (I buy it in bulk, already ground)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup Agave nectar
1 cup dark chocolate broken into pieces 
(again, I buy the mini chocolate chips in bulk and use those)

Should look a little like this...

Then in another bowl, mix together...

2 cups Greek Yogurt (I use the HONEY flavor because it adds a little more sweetness)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla

Both bowls will look a little like this...

Then...add the yogurt mixture to the dry ingredients can mix it with your hands if you need to.  (But don't forget to wash them first!!)

Put it all into a 9x13 baking pan.  (I put a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan and spread it around with a paper towel...but if you have some cooking spray, that probably works is just that when I have cooking spray around, my kids think it is fun to use it WAY to much!)

Now, you will need your hands for this part....pat the mixture down in the pan until it is even on top.  Put it in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

When they are done, take them out of the oven and let them cool.  THEN, cut them into squares (I can usually get 24 out of a pan) and place them on a cookie sheet.  Put them back into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.  

When done, take them out of the oven and let them cool. I put ours in an airtight container and leave them on the counter because they only last a handful of days at my house.  You should put them in the fridge if you are going to eat them slower!!

However, I warn will watch your kids (or yourself) devour them!!  They taste like oatmeal chocolate chip bars...and feel free to tell your children that....only they are so much better for you!!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

Last Friday was a T.O.U.G.H. day for me.  I am pretty sure that "seasonal affective disorder" thing was at its high tide, and all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and cry (which I did...a little).  Actually, what I really wanted to do was call a friend, go over to her house in my sweats with no makeup on and share a big, warm cup of empathy (or tea...or a little of both!).   But the problem is, I couldn't think of anyone to call.**

We moved here almost 4 years ago and I could not think of anyone here that I could call....and then that made me sad too!  (Maybe it is good that I didn't intrude on anyone that day...what a bundle of fun I would have been!!)  However, it did get me thinking about how we make friendships...deep, connecting adults.  It made me ponder why I have such close friends from the past - people I can share my heart with even though we now only connect over the phone and haven't lived in the same state for years.  How do we forge new friendships as we get older?  How are they built?

I think one of the key ingredients to building any friendship is TIME.  We really need to log time together - talking, listening, doing an activity - especially as we get older.  See, when we are young, we have all the time in the world OR another way to look at it is we are all forced to spend a portion of our time together (ie. elementary school, junior high, high school, even college to some extent).  When we spend that much time together, we now have shared experiences, shared culture, shared stories, shared enemies (ie. our chemistry teacher!), and a shared identity.  Because of all this "sharing", these friendships often offer more grace, because they have seen us in so many different situations.  As Emmerson said, "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."

But when we meet one another as adults, we don't have any of that, and it is tough to create over a 5 minute conversation once a week at church, or 15 minutes of polite office chat at work, or even going out for drinks at a local bar while being distracted by the 14 televisions that are broadcasting every sporting event being played at that moment (who knew water polo had it's own channel??). create real, deep, lasting friendships, we need to give each other time - and quality time at that.

The challenge as we get older then is to be intentional about giving our time to someone else that we'd like to get to know.  We are no longer held captive by our school system and demands on our time become a siren's call to us, but at some point (if we want to be connected) we must choose to give our time to one another, it will not just "happen".

So what does it look like?  It might mean inviting someone over to your house for coffee (even though your place is a mess...remember, you are building a friendship, not creating a model home!).  It might mean having that person and their family over for dinner (even if you are not the best cook!).  It might mean taking a trip together.  It might mean saying "yes" to an activity that really doesn't totally interest you but is really important to the other person.  It might mean planning or it might mean spontaneity, but it will mean choosing to give the other person time (and probably lots of it)!

I like this quote..."If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone.  A man should keep his friendship in constant repair." (Samuel Johnson)  Repair and building friendship takes time, time and more time.  It may be inconvenient but our lives would be less rich without it!!

**(I'd like to make a small disclaimer....I do have friends but many of them were working or were busy while I was having my small breakdown moment all simply got me thinking about how to make friends!)

May we all have, and more importantly, be good friends!

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Busy Weekend {Seattle-Tacoma Photography}

January is usually a bit of a slow month around here for me...which is a welcome slow down!  As the weather gets nicer and light returns to our part of the country, there will plenty of family sessions, seniors and weddings...but this weekend was filled with volleyball and a sweet little birthday.  I thought I'd show you a snippet from each!

This is my sweet daughter!!  Way to rock it, M!! (We had a tournament this weekend from which none of us emerged with our voices in tact!)

I also had the privilege of photographing this little one's first birthday!  She is loved and cared for by an amazing couple I had photographed in the past.  However, right now, they are her foster parents (really wanting to be her forever family!!) so because of not wanting to violate any privacy issues, all I can show you is her sweet little hand enjoying her first slice of cake!

It was an honor to be invited to her birthday.  I hope some day I will get to post a set of images with a wonderful Red Thread story!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Breathe Some More....{inspiration for Thursdays too?} I know that yesterday was Wednesday and I already did a Breathe post.  I also know I should hold on to this link for next Wednesday and make it my Breathe post then.  But I can't....because it is WAY too good...and some of us need to watch this, hear this, and take it in right now.
(There is one small swear the way, so make sure little ears are not too close!!)

It is a 20 minute talk by Brene Brown on The Power of Vulnerability.  It may be the best 20 minutes you spend this week...

May we all be deeply vulnerable and lean into joy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

Do you ever feel like all you can see are your flaws?  When you look at life, do you sometimes only see brokenness?  I have had times (sometimes years) where I look around and see everyone around me succeeding, looking good, and having a purpose but when I looked back at me all I could say is..."what in the world am supposed to be doing here?"  (I have to say that those moments were far more frequent when my kids were little and it felt like the greatest accomplishment of the day was getting out of the grocery store without someone throwing a temper tantrum!!)  

You might relate to that...and you might not, but I love the following story about brokenness, usefulness, and the surprises along the journey.  Enjoy!

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots , each hung on the ends of a pole , which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water , at the end of the long walk from the stream to the house , the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily , with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course , the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection , and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure , it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself , because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The old woman smiled , "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path , but not on the other pot's side?" "That's because I have always known about your flaw , so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path , and every day while we walk back , you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are , there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lots of Love {Scottsdale Family Photography}

Once upon a time, there were two people who had lots of love to give...

Along came four very adorable (but sometimes punky) children who could grow tall and strong in that love.  They wondered to themselves, "Who will come love us with a really big love even when our parents think we are being punky?"

Then one day, the two people met the four children and they squeezed their love into those four kids....

...and laughed at all their jokes, played silly games with them, took them on trips, fed them delicious food, and bought them things the parents never would.  They had so much fun with those four kids...and when they started to become punky...they sent them home!  {The end.}

The four children being charming, sweet and lovely..

...then a little punkiness is in order...

And I guess a photo shoot wouldn't be complete without total punkiness..

Sometimes grandparents don't believe that their sweet amazing grandchildren could ever be even a little mischievous or sneaky...but I caught it on camera!!

So..if you haven't guessed already this is my family - my in-laws, my niece, nephew and my kids.  We had a fun family photo session when were in Arizona for the Christmas holidays.  It is always a privilege to photograph the love between grandparents and their grandkids!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Breathe {inspiration for Wednesdays}

Blame it on the fact that I am a "word" girl.  I love words...and think the world and cultures are made up of words!  But I love it the most when a good writer will string together words like delicate pearls on a necklace -  conveying meaning for sure, but also beauty, and totally befitting to wear upon your soul!  I collect quotes...I have scraps of paper here and there on my desk and in my books with some poetic insight scrawled upon them.  Sometimes, when I am reading a particularly great book, I need to read the sentences out loud, even if I am alone, because to keep them silent and trapped in the pages seems almost a tragedy.

For this "wordy" reason, as I come to the turn of a year, I most often do not make resolutions, but spend a handful of quiet moments over the course of a few days and try to listen for the word or words that emerge from the depths of my heart.  I wait for a verb to dance its way up from my depths and then test it to see how it resonates with my mind and what I see around me.  From this comes my New Year's "Resolution" - or rather my word for the coming year.  

This year, my word is ENGAGE.  Its first meaning is"to occupy oneself; become involved".  Seems simple right?  But I think it is the word that sprang up from within me because I have noticed this last year of how much I much in certain situations I do not give my entire self to people or the situation at hand.  Sometimes it happens because I am trying to only half-live by "multi-tasking", and sometimes because I deem the difficulty level to be too much.

Either way, I stop engaging the moment at hand and drop into some form of hiding or ease.  I can feel myself do it at the end of an intense workout where I just quit instead of pushing through the toughest part; I can feel myself do it when I don't "stay in" a conversation long enough to fully understand the other person.  I finish their story for them, make assumptions and disconnect.

The word ENGAGE calls me out of those habits and into a place where I fully show up to whatever situation is at hand.  ENGAGE tells me..."wherever you are, be ALL there" and to "immerse myself in the particulars" of the moment.

Choosing a word for the year gives me the umbrella under which I can walk through the next 365 days; choosing a verb gives me an action to "engage" in with any and every circumstance.  And choosing a verb also helps give breath to how I want to feel in all areas of my life this year.  This year...I choose to ENGAGE.

What is your word for this year?

Breathe, smile and go slowly.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Kiss Me: Erin and Kevin {Phoenix Engagement Photography}

Erin and Kevin were part of the family session from yesterday, but since they are newly engaged, I thought they deserved their very own post.  Do they make a cute couple or what??

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that ring!!  Kevin is an architect and his good design eye is evident in his choice of ring!!  Way to go Kevin!!

Alright, so I did another ring picture like this, but in the process I caught these sweet looks on Erin and Kevin's faces.  I could tell they are not the kind of people who would scream "Take my picture!!", so having me direct and hover around them created this sweet moment between the two.


Have you ever been with two people and you could just sense they were made for one another?  That is how it was with Erin and Kevin.  Both of them have a calm quietness about them...and I sense that there is lots of deep conversation that happens between them.  Just thinking about the two of them together makes me say "This is good!"

These two even have their own "Red Thread" story.  As far as I understand it, they connected a few years back over the internet, but that connection never went anywhere.  Fast forward a few years and they met in person at the church they both attend....and well, here they are planning a wedding!  Now that is the strength of the Red Thread!

Erin and Kevin, it was a privilege to photograph the two of you!  I wish you all the best as your two lives become one!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

One, One, One, One....One Big Happy Family! {Scottsdale Family Photogaphy}

What is the best way to start a new year (especially one that is 1-1-11)??  With one of my favorite families, of course!!  I have known the H Family for at least 13 years and I have to say that I have never had a dull moment with them.  They are always full of laughter, fun and deep conversations!

I had to start with this first picture because I believe it shows everyone in their element...J & R (on the left) always add a little silliness and fun to a gathering...B (dad) looks like he is engaged in a deep theological conversations...E & K (on the right) are newly engaged and just love being together...and B (mom) is wondering how she ended up with such wonderful, but motley crew!!

These two are responsible for this wonderful tribe!!

Oldest daughter and her husband have an amazing depth to their souls...we have had many a great conversation with them.  But there is always a fun spontaneity to them....I like that J still makes R's toes curl when they kiss (bottom left) AND that R returns the favor (bottom right)!

So glad we chose downtown Phoenix as our backdrop.  So many options...

I cannot tell you how much I love and respect this family!  They have been good friends to us through the years...and I am excited that K is now joining the family!  (By the way, we did a few engagement pictures of E & K while we were all together and decided that I couldn't post them here.  They deserve their own come back later in the day tomorrow!!)

Love you H Family!!  It was an absolute privilege to get to photograph you and hang out in the process!!  Enjoy this sneak peak of the pictures...there are plenty more great ones to follow!!