Thanksgiving Photo Shoot for a Christmas Card

Dale and Larry Fillmer

Dale and Larry Fillmer

Thanksgiving weekend is just about to wind down and move into the 25 day rush to Christmas.  It was a nice weekend with some nice rain showers and lots of food.  I just finished watching one of the more lousy versions of the Iron bowl (if you are an Auburn fan) over the last few years and it ended in an Alabama romp.  Alabama played well and will have a full plate next week coming up against Florida in the SEC Championship game.

Early on Thursday I did a quick photo shoot for Dale and Larry Fillmer (that would be mom and dad) for their Christmas card.  Here are a few from the shoot that were my favorites (don’t think any of these made it on the card, but these were the ones I liked).  Looking forward to the new series that starts tomorrow at cumc called Simple Christmas.  Something we can all take to heart, focusing on what is important at Christmas and why we celebrate the holiday in the first place, can’t wait.  If you are in the Auburn area, come by at 9am or 11am and see what it’s all about.

I am really looking forward to this Christmas season and all the possibilities of the upcoming new year.  I always look forward to the changing of the new year.  It always seems to bring change and a new time of growth for my family, as it is with many, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in 2009.  Celebrating a Simple Christmas is going to be a great place for my family to transition into the new year.

And the Winner of the Dell Desktop Giveaway is…


Wow this month went by fast.  Yes, today is the day we are giving away the Dell Desktop that we originally posted on November 1st (see I am Giving Away a Free Dell Dimension Computer and 17″ Flat Panel in 29 Days) and we waited all the way until 12:01am on November 29th to announce the winner. All in all we had about 100 responses on the blog directly, with approximately 5-10 of those being qualified entries. I really appreciate all the people who have contacted me directly and I wish I had enough spare computers laying around to give one to everyone, but I only have one.

The Winner is Lisa Pierce with Alabama Rural Ministries (ARM)

Alabama Rural Ministries has a great program and their post (seen here Not Thinking of Myself Today!) is the winning entry.  The mission work for ARM is shown on their website as:

Our Mission

We believe Christ’s love must be expressed in action to people in need. ARM is a hands on ministry, responding to people through Christian love with an emphasis in housing repair and children’s ministry.

Alabama Rural Ministry coordinates home repair efforts and children’s day camps in rural parts of Alabama. We are interdenominational but are connected to the United Methodist Church. All denominations are welcome to come and serve!

For the service that you give is not only supplying the needs of everyone but is an expression of many thanks to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11-12

ARM has focused its efforts in sharing God’s love in two primary areas:

Home Repair – The ARM staff assists teams coming to do home repair by purchasing materials, introducing teams to their families, and serving as technical assistants. Typical ARM projects include repairing and/or replacing roofs, ceilings, floors and walls. We also build steps and wheelchair ramps for elderly or disabled individuals. We match our projects with the skills of our volunteers, maximizing the services we are able to provide. Our service extends to plumbing and electrical work when our volunteers are able to do such work. If you are involved in a group with any of these skills, please consider a trip to ARM to help the elderly and disabled families of rural Alabama.

Day Camps – Teams working with the day camp work with the ARM day camp staff to plan Bible studies, songs, recreation activities and much more! Day camps are run similarly to Vacation Bible Schools and other day camp programs. Our volunteers are able to enhance the children’s experiences through interaction, whether it be fellowship, playing games, going on field trips, or presenting Bible stories and devotions. The children of the Sonshine Day Camp are truly remarkable in their ability to show love to so many volunteers that come in and out of their lives each summer. We invite anyone with a love for children to join us for this amazing experience this summer.

Volunteer teams come from all over the country to do either home repair and/or work with day camps for area children. At select sites, groups may choose to do both types of ministries at the same time!

If anyone has a desire to get involved with them I am sure they would love to receive as much help as they can get, and it is a very worth ministry.

Giving Up Thanksgiving For Christmas This Year?

Deborah fixing turkey

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  I am sitting here about to turn on the Macy’s Day Parade and for some reason thinking about Christmas and New Years Day and beyond.  For some reason this year it seems like we have skipped over Thanksgiving and are bolting ourselves into the Christmas day time. Retail stores are probably trying desperately to bring in people early this year, and around town I started seeing Christmas displays and hearing Christmas music over the intercom before Halloween was over.

I don’t remember Christmas coming right after Halloween last year but it seems to have creeped its way farther up the calendar this year. I like Thanksgiving and would like to take one of these at a time before we go on to the next one, but I realize that Thanksgiving is not a real big commercial season and no one gives presents from Best Buy at Thanksgiving (thank goodness). If there is no commercial purpose for the holiday, it seems that most businesses, TV and radio will just skip over day now. I hate rushing through life. We rush here and there all day every day and I would like to celebrate one holiday at a time. Deb and I are not real big fans of holiday days anyway, it always disrupts the routines of everything, but I would like to enjoy one before going on to the next.

So, today being Thanksgiving I figured I would do the typical what I am thankful for post. A few things I am thankful for.

  • My Savior
  • My wife, family, friends
  • that I have food to eat, a place to live
  • I am able to live in a free country
  • clean water and shoes

Those are nothing earth shattering of course, but still something I am continually aware of and thankful for.  Early this week on Tuesday a friend of mine, Josh, did a great explanation of why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, why it is important, and what was going on at the time.  It was during the Passover Celebration as explained in Exodus, but when Jesus and the disciples celebrated passover supper, Jesus spoke and said:

Matthew 26: 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus “gave thanks” during this celebration dinner, and today we give thanks as well. I do like to remember that this is generally an American holiday (see Thanksgiving is a U.S. Holiday, Think Global) and we should not forget that this is not a world-wide holiday. Last year, Deb and I spent the holiday on our boat (sort of) for a few hours and ended up coming back home after their wifi went down (see here). It’s a year later and we are going to spend the day here at the house with my father-in-law David, (see Deb’s mom’s blog) and watching some football.

The North Star and Long Exposure Star Trails

If you have been following the progress of our tree and tree swing, it now has just about no leaves on it at all, so last night I decided to take advantage of the very dark night out here and do a long exposure of the tree showing the North Star.  This shot was a single frame, 3 hour exposure with another 3 hour noise reduction process.  I started the exposure when I went to bed and it finished around 4am.  Showing star trails are a little easier with a film exposure but this one turned out pretty good. The tree looks like it is leaning over to the side because it was shot with a 14mm lens pointed almost straight up at the sky.  I am actually standing about 5 feet or so from the tree.

You can just see the North Star behind the right side of the tree.  I couldn’t actually see it when I setup the tripod and I was just shooting for somewhere close to the center of the frame.  Missed it to the left by a little but close enough.

The tree is the same one you see in the previous posts, here, here, here, here, and even here.  Some day I will put all the tree shots together in one post.  It is pretty neat to me to see the changes in one single location, sort of like a very long time lapse.  For those of you still wondering, no, I did not sit out there all night with the camera, I just set the exposure time to 3 hours and hoped that a deer or other large animal didn’t tip over my tripod.