Monday, July 31, 2006

Through a Looking Glass

This last week I've been cleaning off my hard drive (and moving things to my external drive) in preparation for Soulfest and some other upcoming photography. As I've been doing that I've been unearthing some pictures from last fall that I've never sorted through or put up anywhere. Going through them has been really interesting. I'll look through one batch and see that this is obviously the week I learned about the rule of thirds, or diagonal lines, or planes of focus. It's amusing to see myself hold tightly to each of these rules in turn and then start to be able to combine them.

What's even more interesting in my photographs is that I have a hard time photographing big landscapes of busy things. I get overwhelmed and tend to take the standard shot that won't wow anyone. Why is this amusing? Mostly because I got started in photography with concert photography. Think about it - lots of sound, quick movement, crappy lighting, looming security... Not exactly taking pictures of flowers. Why can I be calm and think through my photos in a rock concert and not, say, with a pile of rocks?? Something to think about.

In other news, Bryan has requested an EEEEEEEEEEEE free zone, to which I have to reply - Have you met me????

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Listen Ye Claymates

Evidently my last post used the sacred name of Clay Aiken (bring on the gasp), which brought my poor little blog more than a little attention. Just to clarify so that everything can go back to breathing normally, I am looking forward to Clay's new album whenever it comes. I haven't been obsessively reading rumors, but I'm sure Clay will come up with something that will be fun and enjoyable.

However, I'm REALLY looking forward to Chris Tomlin's new album, but for completely different reasons. I've already heard a couple of his new songs (from the Passion conference) and they are amazing. In a much more substantial way than a pop CD.

In other news, we're down to 3 days until Soulfest and 6 days til I see Chris Tomlin. EEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Icky Sticky

Humidity sucks. Nuff said.

It was only supposed to be mid-80s here today, but it definitely felt well into the 90s with the humidity. I was having trouble breathing when I was out at lunch. Kind of brings down my enjoyment of summer when I'm wheezing.

In better news, I downloaded Chris Tomlin's new single and it's awesome. Not that I expected anything less from him. Made to Worship is like most of his other stuff - fairly simple, but very catchy with good lyrics. Can't wait to hear his whole album in September. Clay Aiken nothing, it's Tomlin's album I'm waiting for!!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's Not Easy Being J

Over the years I've done the Myer-Briggs personality test many many times. Over time I've gone from a borderline E/I to clearly I and gone back and forth from an "NF" to a "NT" (though I'm now solidly "NF"). Each and every time I've been a J.

You can call me Ms. Structure. Last night I started a spreadsheet of accomodation options for each night I'll be in England and Scotland. Options are evaluated on a variety of factors for easy comparison. I'll be able to relax and enjoy the trip when I know the basic structure is set up. Within that I can be spontaneous.

Today I got an email that has kind of rocked my world. Something that I thought was all sewn up and I didn't need to think about anymore suddenly was up in the air again. All those sighs of relief for nothing. All the plans for the next year up in the air again. My stomach feels like it's full of lead and my head's spinning.

As I was walking around at lunch (this goes far beyond what the emergency chocolate can deal with) I was trying to relate this back to the Sermon on the Mount and the other reading I'm doing. I knew I was reacting the wrong way, but it was hard to stop the panic as one by one things that were now thrown into disarray popped into my head.

I'm currently reading through the Psalms. Perhaps some verse calling on God to crush my enemies?? That would be good. Makes me feel better too. Calling down some smiting definitely perked me up.

This afternoon I've been working hard on some other projects that are on a tight deadline and can't wait for me to get over this crisis and my mind has been mulling things over.

I've always thought of these personality tests as just an insight into personality. When you think about it, they are also an insight into weakness as well. Being so thoroughly a J, I don't do well in rocking boats. I need to know the plan and see it working out. I'm not so much for stepping out in faith. I don't like being in limbo. I like decisions made so that I can close that little file in my brain.

As I think about Jesus' teaching I don't remember a powerpoint presentation anywhere with Jesus outlining a day by day plan to being a disciple. In fact, "take up your Cross and follow Me" is pretty vague. Perhaps He has a website with a more detailed plan.

So, I guess being a J isn't really something to be proud of. Something to help understand my own brain and what will leave me uneasy, but also a reminder of where my faith is the weakest. Also a reminder of how very human I am. Scared in a rocking boat when everything is controlled by He who created the world and controls the seas. Seems kind of silly in the big picture.

Someone needs to explain that to my stomach.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Dove Award for Uselessness Goes To

So, tucked away in my desk is a packet of Dove chocolates. Little bites of goodness wrapped in pretty foil. They are somewhat of an emergency measure. When I get in a situation where I feel the need to remove someone's head from their body, I reach for a little piece of chocolate. Whether it's the distraction of the activity or whatever fabulous chemical reaction chocolate does to your brain, I usually get calm enough to get through the moment.

Inside said fabulous bits of chocolate are "Promises messages". You know the ones. Those pithy phrases that didn't quite make the cut for bad bumper stickers. Here are the latest three award winning pieces of inspiration:

"Whisper in the dark"

"There's a time for comprimise... it's called later"

"Be fearless"

Huh? What's the point in that? Are they trying to be fortune cookies? How are those promises? I could dig through my trash and find more of these gems, but take my word for it, they only get worse.

So, what's the point of this? Am I suppose to be savoring my chocolate, read these pieces of philosophy and feel better about my life? Are they supposed to transform me into a better person? Seriously? "Whisper in the dark"???

Why don't they put something useful in there? Like maybe the prison term for hurting someone and hiding the body. Or the number for an anger management counsellor. Or "I will never leave you or forsake you". Now there's a decent promise.

Anyhow, I've been more sensitive to these things since I've started reading Dallas Willard's book The Divine Conspiracy. Great book, and his point about our world flying upside down is very well taken. I have a collection of chocolate wrappers to prove it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


My latest drama (granted, a small drama) is that my drycleaner has lost my shirts. As in "oops - yeah the computer says you dropped them off, but we have no record after they got to the factory". I talked to the manager last night and he wanted the brand of each of the shirts, distinguishing characteristics and asked if I knew exactly what I had paid for them. Being me, I had a hard time telling him what color they were. Black, pink and white maybe??

Does anyone really keep a tally of what's at the drycleaners? I drop off a bag and then wait for the email telling me to pick them up. In this case I was perplexed that I got two pairs of pants back and no shirts (because I always have shirts to be laundered). It takes a whole layer of organization I don't possess to be able give in depth descriptions of clothes I dropped off 3 weeks ago.

So, now I'm going to have to try to replace them. Sigh. I guess I'll have to go shopping. Darn it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's Official

Last night I bought my plane ticket for England. Leaving the last week of September and coming back in early October. Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to go to England. Okay, I admit it, I had every book written on Princess Diana and scrutinized her fashions all the time. I invested the GNP of a small country in Majesty magazines, etc etc.

Now I finally get to see it all for myself. The itinerary includes the South of England, London, Manchester/Liverpool, the Northumberland area and up into Scotland. Particularly excited about visiting some 24/7 boiler rooms and the Northumbia Community. So many places I've read about and now I'll get to see for myself.

It's the adventure of a lifetime and I'm very excited. Can't wait to finally be taking pictures in England (and Scotland!).

If anyone has suggestions, please pass them along. I'm mired in a pile of B&B websites, travel books and tourism marketing material.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Did anyone else see the Food Network "Scoop" special on the development of a new ice cream flavor for Haagen Dazs? I cannot tell you how much I'm craving ice cream right now. The new flavor is "Sticky Toffee Pudding" and it looks amazing.

The only thing I have in the house right now is blueberry lemon sorbet, but that's for my church group. Since the discussion this week is on the truth/lying, I probably shouldn't eat it and then make up a story, huh.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Dumbness and Chatter

I've just finished Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book Life Together. I'd highly recommend it. Not that I agreed with everything in it, but boy did it make me think!

Dumbness does not create solitude and chatter does not create fellowship.

Just one sentence but there's so much to think about in there.

Simply turning off the tv or not talking does not make the type of solitude that Bonhoeffer says is essential to being part of a community.

The second half was particularly striking to me. "Chatter does not create fellowship." Think about that. Just talking to someone does not mean you're building community.

I'm struck by how much of life is chatter. No, I don't think every conversation has to be about theology, but how much of life is inane chatter? How much do I really learn about people when I talk to them? How much do each of my conversations build me and my friend up?

Just spending time with someone does not automatically mean that we're building community.

So, what is the point of chatter and spending empty hours with people? Something to think about.

Blogging tips

I stumbled upon this fantastic list of tips for blogging. Warning, some of the language in the list isn't.... how shall we say... what you'd find in this blog. Lots of good points about making the effort to push your thoughts when you're blogging and not being embarassed not to give your mother your address.

I especially like rule #19:
19. Push the envelope in what you’re writing about and how you’re saying it. Be more and more honest. Get to the root of things. Start at the root of things and get deeper. Dig. Think out loud. Keep typing. Keep going. Eventually you’ll find a little treasure chest. Every time you blog, this can happen if you let it.

Since I'm currently reading Bonhoeffer and Willard and studying the Sermon on the Mount with my church group, that could lead to some interesting results. Stick around.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Whoo Hoo

Relevant picked up the article. My first byline in a while.

Where do I find some partying emoticons?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Products of Stupidity

It was so not worth climbing on a bridge to get mediocre pictures. On the positive side, I normally drive by far too many great sights and sunsets.

Monday, July 17, 2006

NYC Sunset

From Janet's balcony:

Stupid With a Camera in my Hands

This weekend I went to a pretty good photography conference. The highlight was meeting Vincent Laforet, a photojouralist for the New York Times who's done some amazing things. He challenged us to look for new angles and focus on what the story really is.

So, Sunday night I'm driving home and I see a beautiful sunset. I drive over to the river and ditch my car. I grab my camera and take off at a run for the bridge to get the sunset over the bridge. I wasn't getting it right, no matter what I did. Finally, I climbed up the side of the bridge and took a picture over the fencing. While I'm holding on to the bridge with one hand.

Have I mentioned that I'm afraid of heights and water?

Thanks Vincent for changing my perspective and making me even stupider than I already was.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tell Me Why

Can anyone explain to me the attraction of Orlando Bloom?

Don't get me wrong, I can see that he's an attractive looking man - in that delicate sort of way. However, he's boring. I saw Pirates of the Caribbean II on the weekend and while you're clearly aware of each and every scene Johnny Depp is in (because he's a kind of force of nature), I have a hard time remembering any of Orlando's scenes. Was I supposed to be surprised when it seemed like Keira Knightley was leaving Orlando for Johnny? Why not? Of course, I would have been more comfortable if she had left Orlando for a hamburger or some carbs, but that's a whole other rant.

Perhaps it's because Orlando bears a striking resemblance to an old friend of mine who's gay, but I just don't get the hotness. Or maybe it's because I'm not a 12 year old girl.

I Guess I Should Be Relieved

I am nerdier than 31% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Cats and Dogs

No, not the furry kind.

This week we've had fabulous moments where the heavens open up and water gushes down. A few drops come down and you've got mere moments to grab the umbrella before.... whoosh.

All in all, it's pretty fun and it provides a small break in the stifling humidity.

Yep, summer's definitely here!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Girls and Their Toys

Maybe it's because I spend an awful lot of time with techie types, but I'm very excited that my new toy just got delivered. The Epson P-2000.

You know how 90% of new technology gadgets come out are an excuse to put out a new product? You know the ones. They do "everything", except that they really do nothing well. Or they automate some process that is much easier to do manually.

A few weeks ago I discovered this new toy when talking to Janet about her recent photography trip. You can put in a CF or SD card and the files are copied off on to the 40 GB hard drive. There's a screen where you can view the files, or at least check that they really did transfer safely.

Why is this important? Up until now I've had to drag a laptop on any trip where I'm going to take a large amount of photos. In my wisdom, while purchasing a laptop I was convinced that a bigger screen was so much better. While it's a nice feature, my laptop is pretty heavy and it's a pain to lug through airports.

So, I'm pretty excited about my new toy and being able to travel much lighter on photo trips.

Yes, I am a geek. Why do you ask?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Watching The Devil Wears Prada

Here's the review I sent to Relevant Magazine (I never heard back from them).


The Devil Wears Prada is an amusing and entertaining movie, much like the original book. A tale of a naive newcomer in the cut-throat world of fashion and in New York, the movie valiantly attempts to avoid the coming of age cliches of many of these types of movies. Meryl Streep distracts from any shortcomings of the movie with an outstanding and understated performance. Even better, the movie is missing the self-serving narration of the book.

While walking out of the movie I had two instinctive responses:

The first was to look down at my Sketchers shoes, New York & Company capris and Target shirt and sniff. After all, if size 6 is the new size 14, what does that make me? Why can’t I look as fabulous as the women in the movie?

The second was to be judgmental of Miranda Priestly (the boss, the Dragon Lady, the Devil of the title) and to think of the bosses I've had who have been so focused on their careers, power and prestige that they forgot the humanity of their underlings and demanded unreasonable things just to show that they could.

Aren'’t they horrible? Aren'’t I so much better? I always make time for friends and family. I'’m involved in my church. I don'’t have a string of husbands cast to the side as they couldn't compete with the job for my attention. There are no stiletto marks on my underlings when I climbed to the top on their backs. And really, my job matters. It'’s not like I'’m in fashion.

But really, isn'’t it all the same? Whether we are striving for power, prestige, to '“be a better person'”, to be the supermom or even to gain brownie points with God, isnÂ't it all as empty? Pride is pride, no matter what it i’s in.

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Jeremiah 2:13

Whether we'’re digging for a 'healthy lifestyle'”, friends, ministry, success, vanity, hobbies, family, or money, it'’s us trying to create our own salvation. Or, as Dallas Willard would say, it's an upside down world and so everything we think is right side up is really upside down and vice versa.

Is Miranda Priestly really the devil? Does it matter if her cistern is more broken than mine? If I'’m looking for salvation anywhere but God, is it important where I'm looking? If my actions aren'’t to glorify God, does it really matter who or what they are glorifying?

It's easy and comforting to judge those who we see as dramatically off the mark. After all, we're doing better than they are, right? In the end, it'’s a false comfort. The same false comfort as wearing Prada.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


One of my cutest photographic subjects.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Off to the Movies

Since I'm heading back off to the movies tonight (Pirates of the Caribbean II) it struck me that I never posted my response to Cars.

I loved the movie. Not in the "I twirled in the parking lot" way I did after Monsters Inc. or in the "I must see that 7 more times" way I did after Finding Nemo. It was more of a quiet "I really enjoyed that" laid-back response. To me, Cars is a more mature Pixar film. The younger kids in the audience seemed a little bored, but I was enjoying the beautiful scenery and the complexity of the story.

Paul Newman did an amazing job on his character. Prior to seeing the film I didn't understand how just providing a voice could bring so much to a character. Now I get it.

Even Owen Wilson, who I don't tend to like in movies, did a great job at his character.

Mostly though the message of getting off the freeway, slowing down and building a real life really resonated with me. Life isn't just about "Ca-Pow" moments.

I'm really doubting tonight's movie with have that kind of lasting impression. However, I was wrong about the first one and I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cloisters III

These are the last of them.

Redeeming Feature

So, I beat up Radiant magazine pretty badly a couple of weeks (months?) ago about their Gospel According to Oprah article. In fairness, I popped by the site again and, with much hesitation, read their article on prayer.

According to a 2005 study conducted
by The Barna Group, when asked how well one lives out his or her faith principles, 37 percent of people said they do an above-average job, 55 percent claimed to be average, and only 8 percent admitted to being below average. “Americans are generally satisfied with being ‘average’ in their spiritual maturity,” George Barna says. “That betrays the fact that we do not serve an ‘average’ God, or one who is honored by people who are lukewarm about their faith.”

Okay, this is a good start. Though I often find Barna relies too much on trends, he raises a good point. Of course, the questions still seem to be pushing the "working harder at faith" theology, his point about being pleased with ourselves for being average is well taken.

Even more surprising in the article is that they talk to Samie Grieg. Now, for those of you who have not experienced Red Moon Rising, Samie is the wife of Pete Grief, who started the 24/7 prayer movement in England. In the midst of growth and waves of blessing in that ministry, Samie was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Obviously, this is a woman who knows something about prayer. They also talk to people from the International House of Prayer.

All is not perfect, however, as they do feel the need for the obligatory quote from Rick Warren.

So, kudos to Radiant for getting to the bottom of prayer in your slick two page spread. Right next to the uber spiritual summer beach survival guide.

At least it's progress. Why is it that they think that women are so shallow?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cloisters II

The Cloisters I

From my recent trip to NYC

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Stepping Out on a Limb

I love Relevant Magazine online. I tend to hit it every day at lunch to see their news briefs and read an article that grabs my interest. I like the balance of popular culture and "God stuff".

What's my point? (no this isn't an advertisement for Relevant)

I just submitted an article to them. It was one of those things where an idea popped into my head and I just went for it. Wrote the article in about a 1/2 hour, carefully checked the spelling and shot it off to the online editor. Now I can spend the next few days obsessing about how the article could have been better.

I'm just glad I finally wrote something for them and submitted it. I've had ideas and even wrote an article earlier this year, but didn't send it in. Just too scary.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Saturday, July 01, 2006