Archive for November, 2008
I think I’m falling in love…
I went on a date today. I picked her up around 5pm at her friend’s place. After some deliberation we decided to hit the mall. There were a few things on the list to get, but the objective was primarily just to hang out. We ran into a gazillion people of course and without fail, my lady was the center of attention upon each and every reacquaintance. Usually they gawked at her fabulous leather boots (with the furry tops) or her classy brown tailored pea coat that flared out at the bottom as is of course, best fashion in recent years. Many would continue on about her poise, her articulate language, and even her striking blue eyes. I could tell the girls we ran into were all jealous of her. She even got approached by some folks about modeling.
I bought her a huge stuffed animal from the Disney store…carrying it for her made me feel like we were teenagers at the county fair and I had just managed to squirt more water into the plastic clown’s mouth than any of the other testosterone charged pubescent males wielding a high powered water gun. We bought some clothes from Old Navy and got a couple of Auntie Anne’s famous hot Pretzels.
From there we hit up Luigi’s in Little Silver. It’s a take-out pizza place, but there are a few tables there. Not a place garnering top marks from Zagat for its decor, but it’s pizza is arguably the best in the area next to the Front Street Trattoria in Red Bank. We shared a few slices and an Arizona pomegranate green tea…one of my personal favorites (hers too).
By this time, it was quite cold and the wind was picking up. So as we left, we found ourselves running around the side of the building working our way into a full sprint in that last leg before we got to the car. Here’s the part I love. As we hit the corner of the building and rounded it toward the car, we looked at each other and just started laughing. It was a hearty, full belly laugh like you get only once a year when you go to a Brian Regan comedy show. The kind of laugh that you can’t plan…and you can’t control. The kind of laugh that you dream of having on a first date. It’s the same laugh that I had with Misty so many times. Strangely, this girl is so much like my Misty.
We ended up back at my place and I let her in first while I fought the cold to bring my bags in from the car. As I was walking up to the door with arms loaded (I’m a guy, we aren’t allowed to make multiple trips no matter how many bags we have), the laugh came back. The laugh came back as I saw her licking large circles on the window of the storm door. I couldn’t help but laugh – it was such a sight. What a perfect night with a perfect girl. I mean, she’s not even two years old yet, but she is such a blast to be with…just like her mommy was.
PS – I have been in love with my daughter for quite a while now :)
PSS – Here is one of my favorite Brian Reagan bits. (it’s audio only)
I’m thankful for so many things. I really have been so blessed through my whole life. But I’m going to forgo the laundry list and tell you something that has been on my mind since before Misty died. It’s not an easy thing to say and it’s even harder to really explain. It’s not a passing thought, but a strong conviction…one that no logic or human reasoning could possibly undermine. It’s a confidence in the faithfulness and enduring love of God. But more than a confidence really, it’s a thankfulness. Yes, I’m thankful for many things…but today one stands out.
My wife Misty died of brain cancer. This is the first Christmas I won’t be buying a gift for her in 13 years. Last week was the first time I picked a christmas tree from the tree farm without Misty. This December brings the second birthday for our daughter Olivia, but her first without a mommy. This past Sunday marked 2 months of sleeping alone at night…and two months of every night wishing that I had just a few minutes to talk with my best friend…
All of this because of Cancer. Cancer took the life of my 27 year old wife.
But today, I’m not angry.
I’m not at all bitter.
Today, I’m thankful.
I’m thankful for cancer.
I’m thankful for her cancer. It was because of her sickness that I learned to trust God. I have grown up with an understanding of the traditions, practices and principles of Christianity, but it was this time that really taught me to trust in God. I was taken to the depths where I trusted God intimately and circumstances (no matter how bad they got) did not shake that. I believe that God was very good to me through that time. I think he was also good to my family and many of you. I can’t tell you how many emails and letters I have saying that Misty’s faith has radically changed people’s lives. This is wildly encouraging to me. Seeing that there is a purpose and reason for the pain, makes the enduring so much easier. But why should I trust God? He could have saved my wife, but he didn’t…
Well, I’m convinced that even in the midst of her dying, God was good…not only to us…but also to her.
1) It was Thursday Sept 18th and Misty woke up to a playful Olivia. Misty was with it and played with her daughter and ate breakfast. She had trouble communicating, but even on that last day at home…she knew what was going on and had good relationship with her daughter. Misty had a seizure that morning at around 10am. This put us in the hospital. It was just over 20 hours later that her brain stopped working completely. So, with one of the most devastating diseases a human can have, Misty was given a very graceful departure. Just 1 day in the hospital before her brain stopped. I have friends who will tell you stories of their brain cancer patients….the end isn’t ever quite that graceful. Mist’s departure was painless and quite unlike many brain cancer stories I know.
2) Additionally, it was the very beginning of July that Misty’s MRI showed such bad tumor progression that no one expected her to survive the month. In fact, many patients with tumors less progressed than Misty’s passed away well before she did. For some reason, we were given almost 3 months to spend together as a family. We toured the state of NJ doing everything and anything. I am so grateful for those 3 months home from work to spend with my wife and daughter.
3) Lastly, I believe that God took Misty to a place where she was so intimately trusting in him, that she did not fear death. She was taken to a point of faith that most of us may never achieve. That was a gift to her. How great to be able to be at that place. After being there, I’m not sure she would want to come back to a “normal” life again. I thank God for the gift of faith he gave misty.
Cancer was the trial that God used to perfect our faith…to make us “mature and complete” spiritually. So yes, I’m thankful for cancer.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
I had a fabulous surprise visit from a former student of mine (when I led a church youth group a few years back). She showed up on the arm of this handsome young man that she introduced as her fiance. It was a wonderful surprise.
I love you and am so thrilled that you found a man that will respect you and be a spiritual leader in your marraige and your family. He seems like he will be a great husband and father. You two are wonderful together and I can’t wait to see how God continues to use you guys.
Here are a few pictures for you guys:
A couple nights ago, I posted this:
“Christendom in 2008 is overwhelmingly self-centric. It is common to think that God favors us more if we read the Bible everyday, or if we say our 19.2 minutes of prayer immediately before bed every night. The truth though, is that our actions have no impact on God’s actions toward us and our love has no impact on God’s love toward us. ”
Today, I was gently exhorted that my words were not exactly correct. In my mind, I was painting God as a safe resting place. I was depicting him as a person who is there to turn to, no matter how far you may have gone away. But in my haste, I used some words that are just plain wrong. Let’s look at a couple verses discussing God’s favor.
For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
Clearly, “favor” is something that God gives to people who do in fact serve him with their actions. My intent was really to say that God does not LOVE us any more or less. Love would be a better word than favor.
Secondly, I said that God’s actions to us do not change based on our actions toward him. Again, my heart was really just saying that nothing we can do will separate us from God’s love. While we cannot lose his Love…we certainly can lose his “favor” or his “blessings”.
In the “101” section of this course I want to cover 3 big topics: Framing, Light, and Technique. The goal is to improve the pictures you take everyday with your current camera. Last installment I discussed camera equipment. That was basically if you have a desire to get into photography for the first time, or if you want to get more serious and have some cash to do so. But for everyone who just wants a bit nicer pictures with your existing camera, stay tuned.
First (starting today) we will tackle framing. Here is the outline of what will be covered in the coming installments.
– Rule of thirds
– Shooting People
– Shooting Landscapes
– Don’t forget the background
– Creative Framing
Outline for the Light and Technique sections will be posted later.
Framing: Rule of Thirds
If you spend some time talking to photography teacher, there is no doubt they will likely touch on the Rule of Thirds. This is a pretty simple idea, but if you are really new to photography, it will be new for you. Basically, you imagine the picture you are taking split into three sections and position your subject on one of the lines. This may sound complicated, but I promise this is easy.
First of all, like all “rules”, this is really just a good technique. There are times when it doesn’t work, but it’s a good idea to try it. Ok, so most of us have taken this picture before:
Well, maybe not that exact picture, but we have all taken a picture of a person straight on. Those pictures are fine, but might not be as great as they could be. Now, lets take the same frame and cut it into thirds.
The idea is to move your camera so the person is on one of those lines. Like this:
When to use it? All the time! When shooting a single person I almost always use the rule of thirds. Extreme close-ups may be better in the middle of the frame, but not always. And group shots are often better in the middle of the frame. I also use the rule of thirds on landscapes (that pretty barn you have been eyeing up will be a perfect test to try out the rule of thirds!) This isn’t a science and by no means do you have to be exact in your placement. The point is to just get away from the center (but not too close to the edge).
I know you aren’y convinced that you need the rule of thirds…so I’m going to show you some examples. Here are a few images that I have taken that are good examples of the rule of thirds:
Well, we all are right?
I read this book “The Ragamuffin Gospel” this week…it’s by a guy named Brennan Manning. It was interesting. One of the first things that stood out to me in the book was this – a quote from him:
“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”
Christendom in 2008 is overwhelmingly self-centric. It is common to think that God favors us more if we read the Bible everyday, or if we say our 19.2 minutes of prayer immediately before bed every night. The truth though, is that our actions have no impact on God’s actions toward us and our love has no impact on God’s love toward us. There is no in crowd with God. The truth is that when we ask forgiveness for anything we have ever done wrong, it is forgiven and forgotten by God. He doesn’t hold a record of our screw-ups. This is the part that bugs me…its like I expect him to remember how I often mess up in one way or another. But he wont. Somehow, he wont.
I got a comment on yesterdays post that goes like this:
“It would have been great if you would have just walked up and said something to them. What would the loss be? You would have made a difference. It wasn’t a private fight. :) ”
I laughed out loud when I read this because last time I was in AZ, I had two similar instances.
1) While on line to check in for the flight, a US Airways employee started asking a fellow employee what she was doing. Then he proceeded to belittle her and say how she never does anything. They of course exchanged a few words to each other until I got up to them. When I was close enough to not yell I spoke up: “hey guys, you probably don’t really want to fight in front of the customers”. I wasn’t loud (didn’t want to make him feel dumb or get defensive) I just hated that the one guy was totally making the girl feel terrible.
2) While eating lunch at some crab cake place in the airport (can’t remember the name) this lady made a huge scene over the fact that she paid $17 for one little crab cake. She was really being nasty to the nice waitress. She happened to be in the table next to me, so I leaned over and politely told her that the menu clearly stated 4oz next to the premium selection that she ordered. The rant was over.
But as far as the fight in the hotel..I chose to not say anything. No one was being picked on and my comments probably wouldn’t have made anyone think any more clearly about the situation….just tick them off more. Like as a 15 yr old I told a 65yr old man in Dunkin Donuts to “watch his language” – not sure that really sunk in…haha. I’ve never been good at minding my own business…but I am trying. Baby steps :)
PS…no video for Olivia today because of issues with my work computer. Oh well, I’m pretty happy to be heading home tomorrow.
I saw a couple fighting in the lobby of the hotel I’m staying at. It was such a dumb fight…wish you could have heard it. Anyway, it made me want to remind them that there are really more important things to be focusing on. Ah..what can you do…
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Here is your video for today. Love you honey.
I like to leave my daughter videos when I’m away. Unfortunately, I’m not gonna get to make one today. BUT…I have this old video of when Misty came with me to Washington DC for a work thing I had. This was a “news” video we sent back to our youth group.
NOTE: to save the video, use the right mouse button to click and select “save as” – to save it to your computer.
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Hope you like the video today. It’s an old one of me and mommy.