Colbie Caillat has a new song called Try that has become a hit. It starts out really soft and slow, talking about makeup and hair, getting your sexy on so “they will like you.” Then it builds up and shows all these women taking their makeup off to reveal pretty much flawless skin, and still pretty hair (except for the one chemo patient lady). It’s a “feel good about yourself the way you are” type of song — original, huh. Anyhoo, this song has been shared a lot around Facebook and has 14 million views so far. Whew, quite popular so far!

Well, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say I think it’s a dumb song. I can understand Colbie singing to other fellow female celebrities who struggle with the constant pressure to stay thin and look pretty so they can make a buck… but the whole song comes across as simplistic. Why try, try, try so hard? Why don’t you just stop brushing your teeth twice a day, too, and shaving your legs, and just stop wearing bras? Who needs bras anyway? You have to try so hard to find one that fits well.

The other thing I’m tired of is this constant theme of there only being pressure on women when it comes to beauty standards. What if this song had been sung by men from mens perspectives? Would we see them go from clean-shaven, showered, fit guys to unshaven, stinky, slobs with beer-guts? Catch my drift?

Hey, I’m not for holding women to Hollywood standards of beauty, either. I think that our society is messed up in many ways when it comes to women. But coming from a homeschool background where we didn’t try very hard to look sexy or pretty, I have to say that I find this song mildly offensive. It’s conveys s subliminal message that gives leeway to women everywhere to just forgo the shower and ditch the mascara and pretty clothes. It’s also saying that if I put on pretty clothes and makeup everyday then I’m trying too hard. By whose standards? Are the only two extremes here doll myself up like a hooker or go au natural and baggy sweatpants?

At the end of the day, yes, do stop try, try, trying so hard for other people. Stop trying to look like a photoshopped version of Colbie Caillat. But have some respect for yourself, and dress the way you want to dress, take care of yourself in the ways that make YOU feel good. If you love makeup by all means wear it everyday. If pretty dresses and heels make you feel confident and sexy, go ahead and dress up. If jeans and short haircuts do it for you, be my guest, do what makes you feel best. I have no problem with women wanting to wear makeup, not wear makeup, have long hair short hair, whatever. Just stop setting the beauty standards for everyone else, and stop letting them be set for you. People need to just start setting their own.

Personally, I find makeup enjoyable. I will put it on because I have respect for myself, and it makes me feel relaxed and happy. Do what you want to do, not what other people want you to do. That message should have been communicated better in the song, but I feel like Colbie botched up the communication part of her song.

And remember, self-confidence looks good on everybody, so get yours on.

Oh, and one last thought. If you really want a good way to gain some perspective about beauty standards and “relax” yours a little, I recommend browsing on the “Nu Project” for a while — it helps to see other people’s bodies sans clothes and in all their love-handled glory if you have body-image issues. I do find the body beautiful in its au natural form, as well. Just a fair warning; the site contains nude images, so don’t look it up if that is offensive your your standards, speaking of standards, and please don’t look it up if you are underage and don’t have parental permission. I’m not trying to start an issue here, but just trying to point out that I have no problems with nudity in art, and also have no problems with nudity in photography. I don’t recommend looking at it for pornographic purposes (solo sexual gratification — I have issues with that), but as an objective way to view the human body. It CAN be helpful to view the human body sans clothes if you have body-image issues, as I have had in the past before.


Food Photography

Working in a restaurant has gotten me champing at the bit to get a camera again. Give me a 70D with a 100mm macro lens, and I would be in heaven. Of course, I would have to take all evening to just enjoy photographing food, and I can’t do that anyway, but with the extra cash I save up from this job, I can’t wait to actually get a camera again and taking photos of the incredible food that is being served up at the Bistro.

Food photography is tricky. Most people just snap a photo of what looks appetizing in real life, but the end result of the photo is usually a snapshot of greasy food. Appealing, not.

One of the biggest tricks when taking food shots is to use lots and lots and LOTS of natural light. It can be hard in most dimly lit restaurants to get enough light to actually take a good photo (as the guest). Find a window, and have the light be to the side or coming in from behind or above you. use some white poster board to bounce light back onto the food by facing the poster board towards your light source. Sometimes it’s also fun to place a vibrantly colored poster board directly behind the food to add a splash of color, too!

Food shots are also best done with a camera that can achieve the “bokeh” effect — where one part of the food is in focus and the rest is blurry — this is best done with a DSLR and a lens that has an aperture as big as f/2.8. A T3 Rebel Canon body and 50mm macro lens can achieve that if you are on a lower budget for camera equipment. I want a camera body that can handle lower light situations, so I am going to save up for the 70D.

One last tip is: try different angles. Get up high, get down low, get up close. Food rarely looks good when you take in the whole plate at standing eye level. Be creative with your angles, and I mean that in reference to photography ;-).

Anyway, enough talk. Here are some of my favorite food shots from over the years of being a photographer. Hope they give you some insight into the world of food photography, and they make your mouth water, too!




Final Farewell

Final Farewell

This photo I took captures many of the emotions I am feeling right now. It’s the salute of a final farewell set against encroaching shadows — It is a farewell to all that is old and dead, a farewell to the fakery and the masquerade of false friends, a farewell to the darkness of their slavish mindsets and their poisonous words and murderous acts. There is hope, there is color and vibrancy, there is freedom in what lies ahead, but behind are only the things that live in the dark, and I will not return to them. Farewell, shadow people.

Sofia, First of Her Name


Sofia Rebekah. First of her name in our family, anyway. Alternately called: Fifi, Squee-Wee, Chunky Monkey, Princess Pootkins…

That last nickname came about because the minute she was born we could all see the striking resemblance. So striking, that we assumed she was a boy for the first 15 seconds of her life. Nope, turns out she was all girl. But the physical resemblances remained: the quizzical eyebrows, the sparkling eyes that become crinkly when she smiles, the thick, dark hair, the little gap in-between her two front teeth. We’re also pretty sure that she’s going to grow up to be a warrior princess because she has HUGE feet and BIG proportions.

She’s always happy (except when she’s really, really ready for bedtime), she loves food (just look at her!), is a smart little booger, and she does deep baby-squats like nobody’s business.

I love having two little girls close in age, and I love all the things that make Sofia uniquely different from Kristina, and vice versa.

So, Happy Birthday, Sofia… We can’t wait to watch you dive into that birthday cake tonight. Here are some pictures from yesterday, and some pictures of her big sister, just for good measure.

Life Scars

The hero of the movie slowly pulls off his skin-tight shirt.

“Oh, Darling!” She gasps… the camera zooms up and focuses on our hero’s muscly back; he’s hot, sensitive… and he’s got scars. Visible ones. They should be ugly, but somehow they just make him sexier.

He gives her the a smoldering look. Then they kiss passionately and fall in bed. Fast forward, we know the rest.



Yesterday, Roo was running next to me on unsteady toddler legs, tripped, fell, and face planted right in the gravel, scaring the crap out of Mommy, I might add. Daddy cleaned up her wounds and comforted her crying; when she let us get a closer look at the damage, we saw that she had scraped up her nose pretty good, and gotten a fat lip, as well as scrapes on her forehead. She looks like she got into a tussle with a baby grizzly bear. She’s forgotten about it already this morning, but the bruises and scrapes are still there, and now they are starting to scab over and heal, but I will have to to keep reminding her to not pick at her scabs and cause bad scarring.

It made me think, though, that if I have to teach Kristina to not pick at her own wounds, will I stop picking at my own internal scabs and cause worse scarring?

Unlike the heroes in the movies who get tortured, and attain some hot life scars to show off to their sexy girlfriend, to make her even more madly in love with him, most of us do not have visible scars. When you are in a car accident, and you get lacerations all over your body, you will heal, in time, and have scars to show… but what about when you are in a train wreck of a church split and people stab you in the back over and over and over? You can’t exactly show those scars on the outside as evidence of the viciousness of fellow “Christians.”

And those scars? Those real scars on the inside? Those are the ones that we carry with us for the rest of our life. And most of us will hide them away to pick at the scabs in private, creating deeper and deeper scar tissue. What once was a minor scar becomes any ugly lump of scar tissue on the inside because of our habits of picking at it. I am not without exception, for I have done this, too.  These scars are not visible, and they sure aren’t sexy like the ones that heroes get in movies. They are ugly. They go deep. And we pride ourselves on keeping them bleeding so the scar tissue becomes even deeper.

But, I am weary of this. I am weary of others, who have it so engrained in their psyche to keep it all inside that they know nothing else other than to keep picking at their bleeding wounds. All the ugliness eventually shows up on the outside, too, but it takes time to manifest, and it takes getting burned by these people to realize that they have festering wounds that they keep picking at inside their own souls.

The harsh reality, the reality that is SO hard to teach to our children is that this life WILL give you wounds. People will hate you for little to no reason at all. People will lie. People will slander. People will falsely accuse you. Church leaders will disappoint, and, in many cases stomp on your hands as you are hanging on the edge of a cliff. The people you were told to trust as a child will beat you, abuse you, ridicule you, and make you dependent on them like a druggie dependent on his life-killing addiction.

You have a choice. I have a choice. And I have chosen to say, “no more.” Here is my heart on my sleeve. I am not ruled by my emotions, but I will not hide my emotions either. I will not hide my wounds so that I can keep them bleeding. I’m not doing this to impress anybody or win friends, because being open, honest, and letting yourself be known doesn’t make you easy friends. But it will show you who your real friends are. There are only a handful people who matter to me more than anything else in this world, and I will work to build up my precious relationships with them.

Life happens. Shit happens. Wounds are inevitable. Scars are inevitable. Friendships come and go. People everywhere disappoint. But I don’t want to become completely jaded and retreat into the fortress of my soul. Instead, I want to realize and recognize when I am headed that way, and recognize the effects that bottling my hurts and my complaints up on the inside will have on me and my loved ones. Because when you choose to turn those wounds into bigger and bigger scars by picking at them, you will ruin every real friendship, and destroy all the things in your life that can give you genuine happiness. It WILL become your obsession to the point where it is all second nature to you. And for a lot of people, there is no real healing when they reach that point.

I pray that God helps me to never forget the One who ultimately bore the scars for us; it should be a daily remembrance for me as I go through my own silly struggles and trials, but I forget about what He suffered for me all the time. God did not take away Jesus’ scars. The stripes that healed left visible scars. On His hands. On His feet. On His side. And probably on His back where it was flayed open by the whipping He took.

But Christ is a living testimony now to the truth that those scars, though they never go away, serve as a humbling reminder that we, too, can overcome every wound that is given us in this life. Our scars can become beautiful reminders of His eternal love instead of only ever being ugly, scabbed wounds. But only with His help. Only with His help.

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 5.04.24 PM

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.