Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pictures. Cause it's been a while.

Something that I miss about blogging- probably what I miss MOST- is the chance to periodically look through old posts and remember the girls and what our family was up to and the dumb thoughts I not only had but shared with the world. Journal keeping is probably one of the best things a person can do. After we die, our written words hold so much value for our loved ones. And I just love having a detailed account recording of these days with little ones.

Do they always hold hands and play joyfully in flowered patches of soft grass?
Um... no.
We go from peaceful loving sweetness to screaming in unison "THAT WAS MINE!" in no time at all.
But here and there I will over hear them address and solve their conflicts on their own and it's really really nice.


 Maddie started 1st grade today. Here she was at 7am, so excited. I admit I am not in the early rising routine myself! For years Seth has had a dark quiet house in which he gets ready and goes to school while I (lazily) snuggle a baby back to sleep in our bed (they don't spend the night there- just get up early for a diaper change and then want some juice and snuggles before a couple more hours of sleep). But today, that all changed. EVERYONE was up.

 Breakfast. Brush teeth.
 Get dressed. Get hair done.
 Do you have everything you need? Don't forget your Bible!

 Don't get demerits on your first day!!! Don't talk out! Don't run! Remember to go potty on break! Don't you want to just stay home with me and be little forever? no? Okay I don't want that either. Get out. Be good. I love you. Bye.

And after all that I may have walked over to the church with the younger girls for a few more pictures. She seemed to be doing just fine. A whole 400 yards from home with her Dad as principle and she still managed to be fine. Impressive, I know.

We decorated with a nautical theme for the beginning of this year. I didn't take pictures of the whole room but there was a photo op with a head cut out that I got a shot of each student with.

And a few non-students slipped in there.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Do you remember me?

So let me introduce myself:

I'm Kayte. I'm a once faithful blogger who has completely forsaken her blog and blogger friends. I feel badly...sometimes. But I also sometimes think it's okay- I keep up with most people via facebook or email. But just in case you're missing random, mundane updates from me, here you go!

  • Very busy summer. I probably always say this but this one really was BUSY. June we had 2 seniors graduate from the church academy and then Seth immediately left for summer camp leaving me and the girls home with a car rental (yeah for a CD player!!!) and more time than we knew what to do with. Something about leaving me home alone with the girls results in trips to all the expensive places we normally don't go to. So we hit up Chuckee Cheeses and Rough-n-Tumble and had a great week but were SUPER glad when Dad got home.

Then we went a family conference in July together and had a crazy great time. Then a couple weeks later, youth conference in CT, which I came along for and drove the girls around CT to thrift stores and IKEA and Starbucks. I also had lots of great fellowship with a certain teenage girl at the hotel and on the car ride.... the car ride during which got trapped in a heavy heavy rain storm on the way home and I couldn't see 2 inches in front of the car. That was not a fun part. Everything else was great.

And in between, we've had sick girlies, revival meetings at church, school record keeping at the church (you should see what 18 years of student work books looks like!), a couple trips to Syracuse (an hour away) for my Mom's doctor, the state fair and Chipotle. I'm sure I'm forgetting lots of stuff but what we did NOT do that we had planned to do:

School work (I really did intend on finishing up the work Maddie stopped half way through at the end of the year.....)

Family camping trip. No time. No money. We're hoping the girls have forgotten. Don't say the "c" word around them.

Visits to the park. But fall is upon us and still a nice time to get outside more.

  • Photography biz growing steady. See for my recent sessions. I love it. It's hard work. It's all the "extra" I can manage right now. Hence the major neglect of the blog.

I think that is all the family has been up to. Seems like a lot more but when you actually type it out, I don't know where the last few months have gone! As usual, I'm looking forward to school starting purely because I love the routine. I love summer too. I LOVE warm weather and all the crazy trips and adventures are fun and break up the routine that does get tiresome by the end of the school year. But I love fall. I'm not looking forward to what comes AFTER fall but we'll just forgot about that for now.

Maddie is going into 1st grade this year and is very much looking forward to getting back to school work. She asks several times during the summer to do school work but I just didn't follow through. ={ She will get to join the other academy students at school 3 days a week and then will be home with me 2 days. I'm thrilled for her to get to do that- she's so excited. And I'm looking forward to more time to devote to Eden's pre school.

Eden is her same girly silly self. She just learned the meaning of the word "emotional" the other day. It was ironic to Seth and I that the word the suits her to a tee was one she wasn't familiar with.

Leila is 22 months and talks really well. She gets frustrated quickly so I'm working on training her to use that new found vocabulary to express herself rather than yelling. Although I have to admit it's humorous to listen to her scold her older sisters. She's like a little {impatient} parrot.

Me: Maddie please come here. 
Leila: MAD-DEEEEEEE!!! NOW!!!!
As for me, I'm like most moms of little ones: tired and not sure I'm doing anything well. =) I'm on a(nother) organizational kick. I give myself an A on keeping up with the daily stuff like dishes and laundry. I'm like a laundry freak. I do it constantly and never have a pile looming over me. But I'm totally slacking on the deeper cleaning things and find myself with items hanging around with no place to go. Can you believe I JUST bought a mail sorter? All this time I've been annoyed at the pile of mail sitting, getting shoveled, lost, etc on the kitchen counter. I needed an hour long session on pinterest to finally realize- DUH. Mail sorter. So I bought a cute magnetic one at Target for $10 and feel enormously victorious every time I see it and the bills nested safely in it.
So that is all for now. Am I talking to myself at this point?




Monday, June 4, 2012

Book reviews: The Heavenly Man & Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

My husband came home with these two books recently and we both enjoyed them so much, I wanted to share them with ya.

The Heavenly Man is an autobiography of a Chinese man who came to know Christ through remarkable circumstances. An account of modern day miracles, it is humbling and shocking to read of the extreme persecution he and many, many other Christians endured in China. When you consider that all these things took place in modern days, you'll realize anew the privilege we enjoy here in America to worship God in freedom, and I for one, realize anew how much that precious freedom is becoming in jeopardy. If you (as I embarrassingly admit) ever feel like you've sacrificed for God... if you ever feel like woe is you for what you've endured for His name, then you can read this book and like me, can evaluate your life and know you have known nothing of real sacrifice. My life is really quite luxurious. My burdens are really very light. And the attitude toward the burdens we do have!! Oh my goodness. We ought not pray for God to remove our burdens, but pray for stronger backs.

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret is a biography written by his son. I cried my way through this one. I don't want to make it sound like a depressing book, because it isn't. But it convicted me. Really, both these books leave me feeling like all my STUFF- worldly temporal STUFF does not add to my life but rather detracts from it. Only what's done for Christ will matter. As I flipped the last page of Hudson Taylor's biography, I really was burdened about my duty as missionary here in NY. All the silly things we devote our energy to.... *sigh*

Hudson Taylor was called to a very difficult field of service. China is still a hard mission field (of course, I don't know if there is an "easy" one!) but during the days of Mr. Taylor, the suspicion of foreigners and political instability, added to the physical difficulty of the land and times, made China a place where he risked his life, his family's lives and the lives of every co laborer with them. And as history records, many many missionaries, and their children, have been martyred in China, particularly during the 1800s. and early 1900s. (But as you can read in The Heavenly Man, Christians face martyrdom even today!) Hudson Taylor buried a wife and 3 children on the soil of China. Yet, he was known for his joy. His quite peace. The "Spiritual Secret" the title implies was that of learning to rest in Jesus. Though his life was filled with labor and burdens so heavy, I almost wanted to stop reading of it all because I could feel how heavy they were just by description, yet his heart was light and free, as he simply would abide in Christ. For many years, he struggled and strove within himself, constantly frustrated by the distance he always saw between him and his Saviour. Never gaining the victory over self. A life of spiritual failure despite every human effort. The more he grappled after holiness, the more it eluded him. When this conflict threaten to depress him and bring him to defeat, he received a letter from a dear friend with a phrase that changed it all for him. "But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One." And at this, his demeanor all changed. He rested in the promises of victory through Christ, no longer leaving success to his own efforts but leaving it all on Christ.

Of course, I don't do this experience justice. And in all honestly, I'm inspired by this thought but don't claim to fully understand it yet. I know we shall not attain unto a sinless state here on earth- and that is not what Hudson Taylor was professing. But he did gain a victory in this life. Perhaps in our current terms we would say he had a filling of the Spirit at this time? The book never puts it into those terms, however. A quote from the book:

I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. The vine is not a root merely, but all- root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit. And Jesus is not that alone- He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wish for or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth!
That, my friends, is worth pondering.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Magnetic Chore Chart


A while ago, I was inspired by the project Maria shared on Raising4Princesses, and when I finally decided to get my crafting act together and make it, I was so surprised to realize it had been well over a year since that post!

But better late than never, some people say! Those people have obviously never waited for a pre-schooler to bring them a tissue for the snotty faced baby, I imagine. Because if they're late with that tissue, it's all over the couch and your shirt anyway. This has nothing to do with chore charts. Unless snot clean up is one of your children's chores. Which it very well may be.

In actuality, I don't think of this as a CHORE list in our case. There are chores like laundry and cleaning the bathroom that the girls do help me with that I did not list here. The purpose of this chart was to simplify their daily routine. These are not necessarily chores, but responsibilities that are to be done every day. My hope is that I give the same redundant instructions a little less. But you can customize with any list that is helpful to you, of course. I almost made one for myself! =)

I had seen a similar tutorial on Pinterest that started with sheet metal from the hardware store. I looked for such a thing, but what I found was very heavy and a lot more money than I was willing to pay (about $10 a piece). So, in keeping with Maria's idea of the cookie sheet- she used a large cookie sheet for 3 girls, I bought 2 small (13 x 9 in.) cheapo cookie sheets at WalMart for $1 each. Much better price and the perfect size.

Depending on what craft supplies you have on hand, that may be the only purchase necessary (and if you happen to have a grungy old cookie sheet- use it!) The cookie sheets I have did not attract the magnet. Maybe because they are air bake? Who knows.

1. Select, measure and trim scrapbook paper to fit the cookie sheet. My 12x12 scarpbook sheets needed to be trimmed to a scant 9 in., and then I cut about 1 inch strip to make up the extra inch for the 13 in . side. If you look very close you'll see the seam, but I really don't feel like this project requires perfection.

2. Cover the entire surface with Mod Podge, place your scrapbook paper down, and apply another coat of Mod Podge. This is pretty simple. Maybe step-by-step directions are insulting your intelligence! lol
The kiddos can do almost all of this project for themselves!
3. Type your list of chores and print on colored, regular weight paper. Cut out and apply with more Mod Podge.

4. Trim with ribbon. Mod Podge holds in down quite nicely!

5. Decorate magnets with whatever your heart fancies. Again, mod podge it up!!

6. Attach ribbon loop with hot glue.

7. Find a place to hang it where the 18 month old won't destroy it.

8. Explain each responsibility to the girls and put it into practice the next day. Instead of listing each thing for them to do 5,00 times until you feel like a broken record player, simple say to take care of their responsibilities. Black are morning duties, and pink are night time duties. As each one is accomplished, a magnet is placed by it. Magnets hang out on the top or bottom "handle" until being used.
Maddie selected this mod print with blue strips. Good combo I think!
Eden found the pinkest paper she could. =)
9. Take a picture and blog about it.

10. Make up a dumb step so that you can end on a nice even number like 10.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The latest bitty baby

Just sharing the link to my latest newborn session.

I just really REALLY like this newborn photography stuff.

I love the newborns themselves.

I love the soft light falling on them and highlighting their squishy features.

I love coordinating blankets and accessories.

I love the newborn's parents with excitement, fatique, nerves and love evident on their face.

I love the prospect of a big portrait that came from MY camera could eventually hang on a wall.

I love that the baby in these pictures is cherished. Because every one should be.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Loving the Little Years {Book Review}

On a day when I was feeling run down and less than successful in life, a friend posted on FB about this little book and how much she liked it. It has been some time since reading a parenting book so I went ahead and asked my library if they could get it for me. A few weeks went by and now I have the book in my hands.
I LOVE love LoVe LOVE love love LOVE ♥ love this book.
It's a different kind of parenting book- for one thing it is very short. Each chapter takes about 5 minutes to read and is a little gem. The general theme is about attitude- ours and our children's attitudes. It's not a book that will make you feel like you and/or your children will never match up and be like the author and their children.
I repeat: This book will not beat you up.
I am only one third of the way through and I feel so ENCOURAGED.
If I could buy this book for every friend of mine with small children, I seriously would. I literally considered that for a moment. It's a thought that I've never before contemplated but I want all my mommy friends to feel the encouragement that I feel right now.
And it's not encouraging the way of "your kids are bad because that's what kids are so just accept that and life will be a lot easier". It's encouraging in the way of "God has given us a tremendous job to do and by His grace, we CAN do it."
A quote from the author, a mother of 5 children, ages 5 and under: "I didn't write this book because mothering is easy for me. I wrote it because it isn't."
I am reading this book in small pockets of time here and there, which is not how I prefer to read. I'm afraid I don't retain as much without sitting down and digesting a book from beginning to end, so I have stuck a piece of paper in as my book mark and am jotting down phrases to help me remember some key thoughts. These are the things that have spoken to me, and addressed issues we have in our family, so I'd really encourage you to get the book for yourself, because I'm not giving a thorough review here. And as I said, I'm only 1/3 the way through.
- Attitude is everything. An organized mental state goes farther than an organized pantry (or whatever)
- Celebrate the progress.
        This was big to me. So often our children struggle with some bad habit that we deal with over and over and over again and when they finally do gain victory in that area, we've already moved on to fixing the next problem area. They go from one issue to the next without any break so we forget to say 'hey, You no longer color on the walls at every chance! That's awesome! We made PROGRESS!'
- Repetition is normal.
        She didn't exactly say it that way... her point was that everything from Bible verses to math facts to tying our shoes is learned through repetition. I don't know why I ever got this crazy idea in my head, but I used to actually be under the impression that if I gave a clear rule and consequence, enforced it 100% and followed through 100% of the time, my children would only need to be trained to do or not do something a couple times at most. It was a huge source of frustration for me, especially with my first toddler. The fact is, we ALL have to learn through repetition. It's not a sign of failure on my part or my child's. Some children or some lessons need more repetition than others. It's not permission to slack off and just let them get away with bad behavior and maybe my tactics need stepping up if it's really not getting through, but I'm not going to be shocked and discouraged when they need to learn the same lesson again and again. I had learned that the key to learning is repitition in college when getting my education degree but had failed to transfer that principle to the obedience and character traits I want my chidren to have.
- Use stories for explanation.
       This is one of those things I know but wasn't putting into practice! Children love stories and if you use a story to illustrate good or bad behavior, they can almost finish the ending for you! One example the author used was with likening horses with emotions. I'll try to explain:
With 3 daughters, there are emotions galore in our house, and they are still young!! When people start talking to me about when these girls are all teenagers at the same time I want to stick my fingers in my ears and sing the alphabet. The all go into hysterics on occasion, especially when overly tired, but one of my little girls is extra prone to emotional meltdowns. And once she gets going, it's sooooo hard to put the breaks on. 
Rachel Jankovic, the author whose 5 children include 4 girls and 1 boy, told her daughters a story about some lovely ladies who were given beautiful horses to ride. They wanted to ride their horses to the wonderful castle with flowers and rainbows and all that girlie girl stuff. But sometimes, the horses would decide they wanted to go to the yucky muddy swamp with bugs in it! The lovely ladies had to learn how to steer their horses to go to the right place. The horses, of course, are our feelings, and sometimes they want to get carried away and take us somewhere we don't want go. The horses (feelings/emotions) aren't bad.... they just need to be controlled.
I thought this made perfect sense to me, and for Heaven's sake I do not want to see my daughters grow up to be women with no control over their emotions. Those women, whom we are all thinking of someone like that right now, are miserable and so is everyone around them. I was skeptical that my young daughter could follow a metaphor but gave it a try at the next emotional episode about to happen. (I didn't have to wait long to test it out!)
Just as I could see the tears forming and the corners of her mouth getting heavier, I told her the story of the horses. Not only did she follow along but added to the story, with bits and pieces from Beauty and the Beast where the horse in that story takes them to the dark scary castle. Did it instantly shut the hysterics off? Well, we had to really work on getting that horse to go where we wanted but I could see her actually trying and actually feeling a little bit successful about not getting into the depths of despair where there is no turning back. She enjoyed having control. And it surely worked better than the standard "Stop. Crying. Right. Now!" So I'm hooked and will be utilizing stories as often as I can.
- Thanksters and Cranksters
     A fun way of consciously choosing to be thankful instead of cranky- and it's not a game for just the kids. Ahem. Pointing to myself right now.
I feel like I stumbled on this book at just the right time. I needed it's encouragement and practical little tid bits.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photography aspirations as of now


I know I've slacked off with my Project 52... what you don't know is that I have been diligently trying to win the award for the most Sporadic, Inconsistent Blogger in America. I think I've got a real chance! But just because I'm not sharing as much doesn't mean I have been shooting less. Well, technically I may have been shooting slightly less since it's been pretty busy around here and my children have starting running and hiding from me when they see me with a camera in hand. =) Thankfully, I have a few "practice" sessions coming up soon. Two such sessions are with newborns that are soon to be born. In this post I'm sharing some images from the last two newborns I had, about a month and a half ago. Photobucket

I am still forming my plan to go into business at one point... I think possibly this year but I'm not going to rush anything. I really really enjoy newborn portraiture, both looking at other photographer's images and taking my own. I have a lot to learn, and have read that it takes about 15 newborns to get the hang of it. I'm at 3 (I took some of my newborn nephew last fall, even though I had my camera for a grand total of a week! Those are less than great!)


There are many things I need to sort out... a need a better website and branding, I need a few more equipment staples and much more experience before I can call myself a professional. And of course, I need to accomplish these things with limited time and even more limited funds. But the wonderful thing is I feel no pressure. I'm not looking to support my family with this so I can take my time and keep my life's priorities in tack.


BTW, I love pictures of mommies and their babies. Most mommies don't feel very photogenic a week after birth but I think these are treasures.

I also love naked babies but have learned that not everyone does. Crocheted diaper cover is on order.=)

I also like a few shots featured the umbilical cord stump but got a "ewwww!" from a young woman (not a mom yet) so maybe it's not for everyone. =)


Everyone agrees that cute hats are good though!


The cutesy prop stuff is a big hit with moms and snubbed by fellow photographers. Funny huh?


Personally, I really enjoy baby on black images... it reminds me of babies still in the womb. Unposed and natural.

  Photobucket Photobucket

But I'm not opposed to giant gift tags either.


And this next one was mom's favorite:


Seth is completely supportive of this endeavor. He commented that a diversion is good for me. =) I feel like this will work really well with our life, both family and ministry. I only need a sitter for a couple of hours to shoot and then can do the rest of my work during naps or after the girls go to bed, or during the occasional "Daddy Date". And I enjoy it. I can get a little frustrated if I'm trying to learn something and it's not clicking but the funnest kind of fun does involved some sort of work. Ie. playing golf, though a challenge, is more fun than non-challenging fun like watching TV. And I also have to say I've realized through this what a incredibly supportive network of family and friends I have! They've let me take their photos, or their children's, even though I have not exactly known what in the world I was doing. They've been so generous with their time and just made me feel like they actually think I can do this. I was not expecting such a positive response, and felt a little embarrassed at first but have been quite overwhelmed and feel very grateful.

So there is the run down of my photographer aspirations. We shall see where it goes!

Oh btw, that first image with baby princess is featured in a youtube tutorial with a talented photographer/photoshopper in Ireland using it to demonstrate some photoshop techniqes. Click here to see it. Kind of fun to have a complete stranger like an image enough to ask to use it. And I did re edit using that method but didn't take the time to upload that one!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Modesty is About Who We Are, Not What We Wear

For about a year I struggled with the issue of modesty. It's been an additional year since I arrived at some conclusions on this topic, and you just can't wait to hear all about it, right?

Thanks for pretending, anyway! ;)

First, some background:

I've been going to church for a long time. 19 years in fact. And all this time, I have attended conservative church. And it's not that I sat around as a 9 year old girl and thought, you know, Kayte, you belong in a conservative church. No, of course not. A conservative Baptist church in the neighboring city sent a rusty, old white bus to the ghetto that I called home to bring kids to church who otherwise wouldn't get to go.


Thank God I was reached as a young girl. Thank God my parents let me go. Thank God my home pastor put a priority on putting gas in that bus when church finances were non existent. Thank God that mess of a bus always ran on Sundays mornings. Thank God I was reached by a church that preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank God I had Sunday School teachers who took an interest in me. Thank God the church family made me feel like I was important to them. Thank God my pastor gave me a solid foundation and always pointed to the Bible as the authority. Thank God for my conservative, loving, wonderful church. Thank God! Thank God! Thank God!!!

As I grew up attending church and attending Bible college, I've sat in many Bible classes on lots of subjects. One such subject that I've heard quite a few lessons on is modesty. Specifically, modest apparel for women. As a young teen, I resisted some thoughts presented to me. I really didn't want to look any different than any other girl in my public school. Because as any teenager with an over dose of peer pressure, I wanted to be different like every one else.

At one point, our youth group went to a youth meeting with lots of other churches and the preacher began preaching quite fervently on ladies' dress. And I'll be perfectly honest with you and hope that it doesn't sound like I'm boasting: I was super tender hearted. If the preacher said God didn't like x,y or z, and I wanted to please God then I'd go right along with that. Did I have a Bible based reason for this decision? Not precisely. Did the Holy Spirit direct it? Well... I did feel the Holy Spirit ask my heart a question: What do you care about more? As the part of me that wanted to just fit in at school wrestled with the part of me that wanted to do whatever God wanted, I decided on the latter. So looking back, I have no regrets. Because the more important issue of letting God have total control over even super vital issues like my clothes (as temporal as clothes are, they were paramount to me at the time!) helped me grow in my walk with the Lord, regardless of the lesser important issue of the specific of clothing choices.

Fast forward several years. I'm married, and an assistant pastor's wife. I'm still dressing and believing in the same way since that sermon as young teen. A group of ladies from our church attend a ladies conference and a lady gives a lesson on women's dress. I've heard that same talk, repackaged, many many times. I sit there and think she's doing a good job. But... come to find out, my mother in law, our pastor's wife, when asked by a lady in our group what she though about that lesson, said she respectfully disagrees.

Wait a minute? Why? What do you mean?

Funny thing about my mother in law. It might have been tempting to assume you knew how'd she'd think or feel about specific issues but when you asked her straight up what she believed, she'd often surprise you! She really didn't like to teach ladies in general but if pressed, she'd give you an honest answer of what she genuinely saw in the Bible. You may not agree with it. But one thing you'd have to admit is that she wasn't reprocessing what someone else believed. Which I will also have to admit, I was.

Was it the fault of any of the teachers in my past that I was really just regurgitating someone else's thoughts on modesty? No. It was my fault. I am really one of the blessed few who hasn't had fleshly, agenda-oriented pastors or spiritual leaders. Was everyone of them perfect? Nope. God only has imperfection to work with. But He gave us a perfect Holy Spirit and sometimes, we leave Him out, don't we?

So here I've found myself in my early 20s and my mother in law's reaction has sort of rocked my little Baptist boat. We had lots of conversations about the subject in the following months. I can't speak for her, so ya'll will just have to wait until Heaven to ask her for her side of those conversations. I was struggling and praying for God to direct me- from His Word and His Spirit. I wanted to start with a fresh canvas, with no pre-formed assumptions. It's been a couple of years in the making, and true to the promises in the Bible, He helps us when we ask.

I'm sharing this story, and the conclusions I've finally arrived at, because I just know that if I was looking for help about this, so must someone else. I'm not writing to offend, or set myself up an an authority on modesty. I really just want to encourage someone who may be feeling as I did, or maybe someone who has never given any though at all to modesty. Or maybe someone who had been conscience of modesty at one point but has become frustrated and fed up with endless "do's" and "do not's" from the mouth of man.

The following is the only verse in the Bible with the word "modest" in it, although there are many verses that pertain to modesty.

I Timothy 2:9 "In like manner also, the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, of costly array; But which becometh women professing godliness with good works."

Modesty Defined from Webster:

Humble, unobtrusive deportment, as opposed to extreme boldness, forwardness, arrogance, presumption, audacity, or impudence.

Moderation, decency.

Synonyms with purity, chastity.

By looking up the definition of modesty, I can find many more key words to investigate: humble, forwardness, pride (arrogance), moderation, decency, purity, chastity. With a concordance in hand, this provided a lot to study. Lest this post become a novel, I will simple list some verses that are particularly helpful to me on the subject of modesty.

I Peter 3:2-6
Micah 6:8
Titus 2:4-5
James 4:6-10

If you actually do look those verses up, you might notice something: none of them say a word about specific articles of clothing. T-shirts, jeans, skirts, sweaters, socks, bloomers. Not a mention of any of it. And since clothing has changed dramatically since Bible days, God would have quite an extensive list if He did included specifics. We would have to have instruction about not just t-shirts and sweaters, but togas, robes, and all the other clothing options of every culture in every country since the beginning of time.

What we do find is principles to apply to whatever clothing is customary at the time. Does culture affect what is modest or immodest? Yes and no. Yes because "no man lives or dies to himself". Example: back in the olden days, it was scandalous for a women to expose her ankle in public. So, although there is no Bible verse declaring ankles sinful to show, I believe it would have been immodest to do so if we lived during that time. Looking back at the definition of modesty, it would have "bold" or "impudent" at that time. I think that would have been a hindrance to a Christian lady's testimony. But is it immodest in 2011? I don't think so. Because society no longer considers ankles inappropriate.

Does that mean then, that if society decides that being topless if socially acceptable, we wouldn't be immodest to take part in that trend? No because there are parts of the human body that are supposed to be covered up or you're considered naked. There are lots of places in the Bible that give us the idea that we're not supposed to run around nude. Even young children, who've never done a Bible study of nudity, innately cover up those parts which we call private. And private is what they should be.

Where have these studies and definitions left me?

Modesty pertains to purity, humility and appropriateness. These are beautiful words. These words are character traits, not items hanging on a rack to be worn and taken off again. I cannot go to Penny's and buy a garment called purity. My point, and ultimate conclusion is that modesty is who we are, not what we wear.

Does that mean a woman (or man for that matter!) can put on a string bikini and say "It's okay; I'm modest on the inside!" No. No more than you can walk around slapping people in the face with fish (Veggie Tales reference!) and say "I'm really a kind, sweet person on the inside!" Who you are on the inside manifests on the outside.

Right here someone is saying to themselves "But God looks at the heart!" Yes He does. And aren't we glad he does. He looked at the heart of young David and saw that even though he wasn't as big and tall as his brothers, he was the man fit to be king of Israel. The issue of judging people by their appearances is a worthy topic and I'm not at all saying that we can know what is going on in the heart and mind of someone based on their clothes, hairstyle, or whatever else. But if God is Lord to our inside, the outside comes with it. Even Coco Chanel, a fashion designer not a Christian speaker, said that a woman's attire is nothing more than a representation of her heart.

You can go to some one's closet and without ever meeting them figure out a good deal about them. Perhaps you'll learn what kind of work they do. If you find a whole bunch of bright cheerful patterns, you can probably assume they aren't a shrinking violet. You can see if they are sporty, or trendy, or put a high priority on comfort. Of course you can't judge everything about them from just their clothes. But we can't deny that what we choose to associate ourselves with, and what image we decide to project to the world says something about our inner person. Not everything, but something.

Because modesty is who we are (or rather should be) not what we wear, we can't just slap on a potato sack that goes from our chin to toes and say "Okay great; now I'm modest. Wow that was easy." I'm afraid that is a common practice: Here, quick, put this on and you'll be a good Christian like me. And now you and I can stare at the women who aren't wearing potato sacks like ours and look down on them. Where is the humility in that?

Where you draw the line between string bikini and potato sack will be something for you to pray and seek God's direction over. I believe a Daddy or husband also get a say, but that's a whole different post and one that would be sure to get cyber tomatoes thrown at me. And truthfully this one may as well, but I get stopped regularly by complete strangers complimenting my girls outfits and many a mom has asked me where I find my girls skirts because they literally can not find a skirt for a little girl that doesn't let her tushy hang out the bottom. So I have to conclude that a lot of people are looking around at excessive sexualization and nudity in American culture, and thinking this can't be good for our girls.

Purity, humility and appropriateness are qualities to be cultivated in our heart and revealed in our conduct, our thought processes, our words, and even our clothes. Can we be Christians in every arena our life? It's much easier to give Christ lordship over just Sunday. To box Him and His ways into one specific piece of ourselves. But what He deserves and demands is all of us.

Have the clothes in my closet changed much during these past couple of years? No, not really. The real change has been the motivation and the understanding of what modesty actually is, and is not. Modesty doesn't hang on a clothing hanger. In a way, I wish it did! That would be far easier than developing that character trait, which then in turn dictates what clothes I put on this flesh that carries my spirit around this earth. Modesty is about who we are, not what we wear.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to look better in pictures- instant slimming trick!

I've been looking around for posing tutorials lately (I have a young man willing to let me take his senior pictures- sooooo looking forward to that!) But being that my typical subjects have been children, posing has not really been part of the equation. Because frankly, kids don't care if they look good and even if they did, don't cooperate well enough to pose too much! But with teens/adults who want a flattering portrait, I have some studying to do. And I have found a little tip that I think helps a whole lot, and is a good thing to keep in mind whenever YOU are being photographed. You'll look thinner and your bone structure will be enhanced.

Here is a clear as crystal explanation of the idea behind this post:

My husband has been my wonderful test subject many times over. =) He's awesome.

So here is your typical, stand there and look at the camera pose:


And then I asked him to lean his ears toward me. By leaning his ears toward me, his jaw protruded and created a stronger jawline. He does not have an ounce of flab on him but if he did, this will instantly slim him.

It feels a little awkward and it even looks sort of odd in person, but when you go from 3D in person to 2D in the camera, it looks good! Don't go overboard and make a duck gesture, but pulling your jaw away from your neck HELPS YOU LOOK BETTER.

I think the difference would be MUCH more noticeable on someone who isn't bone skinny as Seth is, and he already has a strong jawline. I am also thin but do not have a strong jaw line. I have a mushy jaw than blends into my neck without much definition. (Unfortunately, I wore a turtle neck when doing this experiment! The blonde hilights went a little too deep, I think!) But I think showing in on a female is helpful, because this little change really makes a nice impact on ladies.

Me, normal:

Jaw out slightly:

Jaw out, head tilted away from shoulder:

And to show you what NOT to do, head tilted toward the shoulder: This creates a heavier look. The goal you want to keep in mind is keeping your skin taunt. Double chin issue? Keep the skin taunt!

Did you pay attention to the jawline? It's a subtle difference but it does help. So next time you're going your picture taken, pull your law out just a tad!! It's more flattering!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hello... anybody there?

I'm not around here much these days... most of my friends catch up with my day to day life on facebook but I do have a few friends only in blogland whom I miss....

A low down on the girls:

Maddie is doing really well. Her asthma is very well controlled right now. She is convinced she is a big kid. She is a complicated little mix of tom boy, and affectionate much ball. She is extremely helpful to both Seth and I; I probably depend on her more than I even realize.

Eden is getting to a big girl as well. I think Maddie has sort of always been a big girl but Eden was a wittle bitty toddler for a bit longer. But as she nears her 4th birthday, I kind of want to freeze time and keep her little a while longer. She may have been the cutest toddler/preschooler on the planet.

Leila is a hand full! She is also very funny and clever, and literally cracks me up with her mannerisms and how she interacts with everyone. She shrugs her shoulders and tilts her head in the funnest of ways. She is a CLIMBER though and has the bruises to match. She falls off of something at least once a day. That is terrible, I know!! *sigh*

In other news, my husband had a snow sledding activity planned for today but it wound up being a MUD slidding activity instead. lol But I'm not complaining a bit about this ultra mild winter.

I had the opportunity to photograph 2 adorable newborns last week and LOVED it. It's difficult in some ways, takes lots of time and patience, both for the shoot and later in photoshop, but I really really loved it. I kinda of missed the babies once they left. =) Anyway, I would like to develop this hobby into a part time business if possible, so I have created a facebook page and a pathetic looking blogsite that needs a lot of work, but is at least a source of information for anyone interested in having portraits taken.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

A little editing fun

It's no secret I have a lot to learn when it comes to editing. I've been forbidding myself from using actions... not that I think actions are bad... it's just that I want to concentrate, force myself even, to learn how to actually use photoshop on my own. I want to apply changes to select areas verses an overall effect ,which most actions do.
So here is an image I've been playing with... let me know which is your favorite edit. They are somewhat subtle differences. I really find myself drawn to cream and dreamy looking photos so that is what I'm attempting here.

SOOC- original image (a bit underexposed):

"Clean" edit- cropped, stray hairs removed, under eye circles (thank you asthma) diminished, chapped lips somewhat smoothed, brightened a tad, white balance warmed a tad, added a flush to her cheeks:


Creamy Edit 1- applied to background only:

Creamy Edit 2- applied to everything but subject's eyes:

I actually enjoy the editing process... in the world of digital photography, half of the process takes place after you have set you camera down. Ideally, the completed look of the image is already envisioned before the shutter is clicked and the editing simply follows suit. In this example, I did (unfortunately) underexposed in camera. My excuse was that is was 35* out and we were both cold! I'm learning though that underexposure really costs you something when it come to nice skin tones.... no amount of tweaking in photoshop can make up for a well exposed image from the start.