I’d like you to meet one of our local seniors, Malone Kaak, who came out to our farm a few weeks ago for his senior photos. As I mentioned on a previous senior photo shoot post I don’t normally do senior photos, but this was my other exception for the year. Malone was a great sport and put up with everything we threw his way, I’m sure for his mama’s sake, since moms are really the point of doing senior photos anyway, right. There is one thing I know, moms love photos of their kids. I love the last shot of the two of them sitting on the swing together, that ended up being one of my favorites of the afternoon.
To me one of the many great lines written in the book of Psalms is this four line poem from Psalm 139.16:
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
All of our stories are different, individually crafted by God, but Malone has a great story of perseverance in a world of uncertainty. A story I have related to well over the last few years. If you want to read more about Malone just head over to his mom’s blog and start back a few years into the archives. God has an exact plan for each of us, down to the exact day, and on this day, it was for us to share the afternoon with Malone.
Artificial as this milestone may be, this is actually my 1,000th blog post on this blog! I set a goal a few years ago on My List that I wanted to post 1,000 blog posts, and after about 10 years of blogging, I have hit that with this post. When I think about 1,000 blog posts, it really doesn’t seem like that many, but if you do one blog post a day, never missing a day, it would take 3 years to create that many articles. Since I rarely ever posted every single day, it took me about 10 years to produce 1,000 blog posts, most of which came within the last 4-5 years. I’m pleased to have stuck with it this long, and I’m still learning more and more about blogging, writing, and the topics posted here every day.
Since I’m a numbers kind of thinker it is amazing to see what kind of history you can build when you consistently post over an extended period of time. [On a side note: in actuality this works with just about anything in life that you consistently, and continuously work at over an extended period of time. Anything from the compounding of interest in saving money to a consistent walk with Christ, growing in faith little by little, builds up piece by piece to collectively make something far larger than the size of its pieces. The problem with that, and the great challenge to us today in our immediate satisfaction culture, is that it takes time to build something of value, and we don't want to take the time, or invest the time, to accomplish this. It can't be done overnight or immediately, it is only achieved through building up over an extended period of time.]
So over time, within the 1,000 blog posts, there was over 1 million spam messages blocked, almost 500,000 words written, over 397,200 individual click-throughs using 3,197 tags, and 2,731 comments made. The busiest day over the past 10 years was October 11th, 2011 when I posted The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness from one of the toughest days in Uganda, and the most viewed post ever over the 1,000 posts was (and still is) a review on a damaged kindle screenI wrote years ago. The most commented and heated conversations on this blog came from, what I thought at the time was a rather mild posting of the lyrics to U2’s Hawkmoon, Jesus, I need Your Love, Hawkmoon, which launched into a debate about God, atheism, and homosexuality, which really had nothing to do with the original post in the first place.
With all that said, I would love to know which category is your favorite between the 4 plus 1 of Faith, Photography, Journal, Tech, and then Sidenotes. Just from the traffic I pretty much understand which category the most viewed, but I am always trying to learn more about my beloved blog readers, so I would love for you to chose your favorite category from the poll below.
Even though I have been blogging for 10 years, I am still continually trying to learn how to create the best unique, genuine, and fresh spot on the web I can from my own personal experiences. Thanks to my readers, and everyone who has encouraged me along the way, I put on this shirt today just for you!
Today is that day, finally, where we get some light back in the day. You rarely hear so many people complain collectively about one thing as you do Daylight Savings Time. I’ve yet to run into someone who loves going back and forth each fall and spring, most would rather just stay on DST to give us a little more light in the day. So why do we continue to go back and forth, messing up everyone’s sleep patterns in the process? I am sure the general population doesn’t think about this, but every time we change, the Church body is the one who takes the brunt of the change on Sunday morning (I’ll forgo a long conversation about that). So why can’t we just do what Phoenix and Indianapolis does; just ignore the change, that would be awesome.
DST is another marker in the year though that reminds us all that Spring is on the way. Today, my photo of the day is my wonderfully photogenic niece, Martha, who makes me forget it is still cold outside right now. If you forgot to change your clock or just slept in today forgoing church, don’t worry, we will hold your spot for next week.
This is part two of a post I did last week (part 1) on the faces of Uganda. This set of images was a quick project related to the kids at African Renewal Ministries (ARM), which is the ministry group in charge of the sponsor child program we work with at Cornerstone Church. This is a pretty amazing program for the kids in Uganda and ARM coordinates the sponsorship of over 7,000 children in Uganda right now, along with being a bridge for churches and other non-profit organizations among other things. They are an amazing group, but you can really see the difference they make when you actually go over to Uganda and meet the children in the program in person and see that it really does make a difference to them.
To me, they are in the business of producing fruit… something we all should have on our to-do list as Christians, if I can say that and not make it sound like a checklist. They, and the people who work with them are producing the fruit, described in John 15, for future generations in Uganda. Something not just talked about in John but all over scripture, and to me that’s exciting. Our October mission team leaves in about a week and I can’t wait to get back to see those kids again. Just saying that feels a little weird since I’m not really one for searching out kid-friendly whatever but there is just something about the joy those kids have about life that is contagious, except perhaps when they get caught in the rain, but who likes that.
Today I finally had a chance to process some more photos from the shoot in Uganda. These were specifically pulled out for the kids, and there were way too many to put into one single post so I broke this up into two pieces. I’m not sure what preconceived stereotypes you have in your head when you think about the phrase “Uganda kid photos”, but what I had in mind was the late night 2am TV commercials guilting you into sending money. That just wasn’t what I saw when I was there, and below is a very small sampling of what I encountered while I was there in August. There is no sugar coating their hardships, and they do exist, but as you are surrounded by people who have basically nothing, according to our western standards, you find they are happy, smiling, laughing, and overall excited to see you.
It was quite inspiring to be around people who seemed to genuinely happy in spite of the adversity they face. There are so many things we (I include me in this) complain about every day that I think some days we just flat out lose our joy for life. Perspective helps, but that too fades with time. Ultimately I pray God will at least change my heart for the things He cares about, like the people in these photos. Only about 10 more days before I head back to Uganda with a completely different group of people, a completely different mission and schedule, but I’m pretty sure all of us have a soft spot in our heart for these smiling faces. In some respects this upcoming trip will be emotionally harder as we are scheduled to be in two different children’s prisons in the middle of the week. I know God will be moving with us and the kids while we are there, but I know the entire team would appreciate your prayers as we get closer to leaving.
Keep an eye out for part two of this post with the remaining five or so photos from this particular batch. Have a great weekend.
Our view from the cabin in Estes Park looks out over Longs Peak, which just got a dusting of snow over the last night or two. The temps are above freezing at around 8,000 feet where we are, barely, but it’s cold enough. I don’t get a chance to do self-portraits very often but I did this one below this morning as Deborah and I spent some nice quiet time, me reading and Deb knitting. These two shots pretty much show what we like to do when we are not scheduled to be somewhere doing something. It’s great because our location can change but we can pretty much take a few things with us and enjoy spending the day together on the beach, or in the mountains, or at home in the living room for that matter.
This self portrait was pretty neat to me since I was able to combine the two things I’m passionate about in one moment, studying God’s word and photography (meta data here). Self portraits are really much more difficult than one might think, it just isn’t as easy as pushing the button and your done, to me it’s about telling a story as always. I love looking at different ways to do self portraits since it tells so much about the photographer and the person. One of my favorite is this one my grandfather did, which I posted a few years ago.
Only one day left of our mountain view and it’s back to the heat and humidity. Something I’m actually looking forward to since it’s a whole lot easier to breathe in Alabama than it is in Colorado. Tomorrow we have the baby Luke photo shoot and I’m wishing I had all the cute little baby hats, baskets, and cups that Heather Carson in Auburn uses but we do have several Deborah knitting originals to use.
Apparently I didn’t exactly take 1 photo per mile traveled on this trip to Africa but I came pretty close. I’m still trying to recover from sitting in a metal tube at 35,000 feet for some 20 hours but I’m also trying to figure out how to process what we saw and did on this trip. Last week I was sitting in mud watching some amazing people play soccer. This Friday I am back sitting in my air conditioned office looking out at a green pasture of grass. It’s 100*F outside, (it was much cooler in Africa) so there really is no going outside to “enjoy” the weather, but I am happy to be back home. I keep trying to figure out how to compare life in Buloba to life over here in Auburn but realized, probably yesterday, that there just isn’t any way to compare life in two different cultures that is so drastically different. It is like trying to compare the similar properties of a commercial jet and a bullfrog.
If you have a picture in your head of a stereotype late night commercial where they show photo after photo of people crying and dramatically upset with every unimaginable horror in great detail that just isn’t what I saw in person. Yes, there are humanitarian needs everywhere, but the people I saw and met, and photographed, were people like Joy in the photo above. They were happy, many full of love for their brothers and sisters in Christ, and overjoyed to spend some time with us.
It’s Friday and this week’s feet post comes from Africa of course. This week the feet are mine and Joy. She is an amazing woman from Buloba Community Church who helped with everything from translation to installing rain catches (although I did see her kick a chicken, which, sorry, was hilarious).
This 4th of July holiday weekend seems to have snuck up on me. I didn’t realize it was the holiday weekend until about mid-week, days just seem to be flying by at such a fast pace, can’t believe we are already basically mid-summer. I tried out some test shots on Deb tonight, something she is always thrilled about. I picked up this used lens (10-12 years old by the serial number) for my Uganda trip. I decided last year that I was going to forgo the big expensive, heavy, pro, zoom lenses and opt for shooting with prime lenses (a fixed focal length lens). They are cheap, fast, and extremely sharp, when you shoot them well.
This is Nikon’s Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D classic prime that came out back in the late 1980’s (see photo below), which converts to about 30mm on my DX crop sensor. Not the best portrait focal length in the bag for a crop sensor but it worked pretty well. Not so sure about the focus, it seems like it might be off front or back a bit but it will do the job. I shot some black and white film with it too but of course I can’t see that yet. It hasn’t been easy getting use to using primes, but it has forced me to look at shooting more creatively. Somehow shooting those big fat pro zoom lenses years back made me lazy. Primes may take a bit more work but I love the end result.
Hope everyone is going to have a chance to relax and enjoy the 4th of July weekend. As hot as it was today we may not leave the air conditioned house until the fireworks go off on Monday. Have a great weekend.
So this is still Friday for another 5 minutes, meaning I just did get this post in before it would be totally irrelevant… well maybe that’s already the case anyway, but after reading my rss feeds tonight I realized I hadn’t finished this post. This week has been so busy, or maybe just off kilter a bit, and this coming week seems to be shaping up to be about the same. I never did seem to get any time to get out and shoot at all. I felt like I spent most of the week in my car driving back and forth between the house, Auburn, Columbus, work, etc, and any photos ended up being either in the car or in the house. It was a draining week to say the least. Finally today around 4pm the troubles of the week felt like they faded into the past after reading 2 Corinthians 12:7 when Jesus said to Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” That was an amazing statement to me. Paul was praying that God would take away the thorn in his side and He basically tells Paul no, but, my power resides in you, and is perfect just the way it is. Not sure why that stuck with me today but it did, and I’m thankful.
One cool thing I accomplished this week was to get some prints ordered (photo #3 in line above) and they arrived today. So what you say. Well this is probably the first time in 20 years I have had 4-6 prints made just to put on my own wall. As a photographer one of the great joys of photography is getting to see the finished product, I just wish I had been getting prints made for the last 20 years, a little at a time, but I just never had the time or the money. This year I was determined not to put off stuff like that and it only took me until July to get them ordered. The frames I bought in June 2009 and have been sitting on my floor, literally collecting dust, since I brought them home. Now all I have to do is get them up on the wall. Hopefully I can get that done before the holidays show up.
Planning for my July Uganda trip is in full swing, we will be leaving one month from tomorrow. I can’t believe it’s only 4 weeks before our team leaves for Africa and there seems to be so much left to do before we leave. I am still trying to raise money for both this trip and the October trip so if you are willing to help fund our mission team please check out the details here or you can just make an online donation here. I really really appreciate all those who have given so far, it really does means a lot to me and to our whole team. Trying to prepare all my photography gear to be hauled halfway across the world is a little overwhelming but it’s coming along. I just about have everything put together at this point minus two lenses. One, a used 20mm prime I should have in the next week or two, hopefully, the other (an older classic from Nikon, their 80-200mm) seems to be a total long shot at this point, but who knows. I am really looking forward to the trip, can’t wait to see God at work through so many people.
I am still going through all the different shots from last weekend but pulled this shot out of my Father-in-Law that I just love. I hadn’t seen a news paper in so long that I had to pull out my camera. I love the mix of old and new this shot portrays. To see more shots from the weekend you can go to the Flickr gallery or you can see Deborah’s blog post as well. I will be adding more to my Flickr gallery as I can get them sorted out, but today the photo of the day is my Father-in-Law David reading the newspaper.