Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Reflections: Hope

What is hope?   To me, hope is the belief that no matter how bad life seems in the moment, there are better things ahead of us.   Through the past couple of years, I often couldn't see the joy that lay ahead of us while in the middle of sadness and grief.   Because of my faith, I knew that I was promised better days after the storms of life, and I struggled to hold onto that faith and promise on the darkest days.   Looking back, I know that I would not have made it to this point without that hope and faith.   I still believe that there are better days of joy ahead of us in this life and after.  I just love this song, and I want to always remember the words that have meant so much to me this past year.

Hope In Front Me

By: Danny Gokey

I've been running through rain

That I thought would never end
Trying to make it on faith
In a struggle against the wind
I've seen the dark and the broken places
But I know in my soul
No matter how bad it gets
I'll be alright

There's hope in front of me

There's a light, I still see it
There's a hand still holding me
Even when I don't believe it
I might be down but I'm not dead
There's better days still up ahead
Even after all I've seen
There's hope in front of me

There's a place at the end of the storm

You finally find
Where the hurt and the tears and the pain
All fall behind
{Listen to the song here.}

Lamentations 3:20-23
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

May you find this hope today in the promises of better things to come.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mattox's 6 Month Portraits

We had planned to find a photographer in our new area to take some beautiful new portraits of Mattox and our family to match the portraits we had made of Evan and Brody at about the same age.  We love the photographs we had made by our favorite Charlotte photographer, and these portraits were expensive but worth it to us because they are so priceless.  I am a bit OCD now about trying to have similar pictures capturing all of my children's baby years, and these portraits were some of the most important.  We have a large family portrait from both Evan's and Brody's first year, and I hope they will cherish those always.  I want to have a similar piece for Mattox too.  I also have professionally printed beautiful 8X8/8X10 albums for each baby with about a dozen images capturing them and us together.  They are beautiful heirloom quality portraits in black and white, and I just love the natural look of these simple, timeless portraits.  I just did not think I could get these portraits replicated by another photographer here in our new area because I have really never seen anything comparable.  Plus, these portraits have cost us over $1,000 (we pay for them in smaller monthly payments to make them more affordable), but now that we are raising a family on one income with more mouths to feed, it just didn't seem feasible to pay that again.  Since we have invested in our own more professional quality camera and have tried to perfect our photography skills, we decided to try to take these photographs ourselves.  We used our Canon DSLR camera, regular 18-35 mm lens, an attached flash, a tripod, and a camera remote for the family pictures.  I also decided to take the advice of the professionals and shoot in RAW format because they say it drastically improves quality because the camera will lose some of the quality in compressing images in jpeg format.  I don't know if this is true, but the RAW images are way way a whopping 30 MB each.  Yikes!  That will fill up a camera card quick so I had to upload pictures halfway through our session.  We found a site where we can order the same type of album online for about $100.00.  I was nervous that we wouldn't be able to capture the beautiful photographs I wanted, but all we could do was try.  It took us a few hours with breaks in between for the children, but I really could not be more pleased.  With soft, natural light and similar editing techniques, I really think these portraits are very similar to the professionals.  Whew!  Thank goodness.  This really puts my mama heart at ease!

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