• Homeschool,  Photography,  Photography Lessons

    Photography Lessons By Rachel Dawn: Episode Two

    For today, we are going to explain the assignments (yes, it’s more than one). But you’ll have the next two weeks to get the assignments finished. The best way to learn photography is to work through every assignment. If you missed Episode One, be sure to head on over to that post first. It will help you better understand all the assignments for Episode Two.

    First Assignment ~ Journal Your Why

    Your first assignment is to write a little blurb in your journal about why you want to learn photography. It can be one sentence or an entire page. I want you to remind yourself now, so that when you’re tempted to quit, you’ll look back and encourage yourself.

    Second Assignment ~ Draw and Label Your Camera

    Your second assignment is to label some parts on your camera. You can draw a picture of your camera (or use the print out below) in your journal and label the following things:

    1. How to put your camera into Manual Mode

    2. How to change the shutter speed

    3. How to change the aperture

    4. How to change the ISO

    5. How to change the white balance

    There are many more buttons on your camera, but for this course, these are going to be our main focus. It’s important that you familiarize yourself with where these buttons/dials are on your camera so that when I mention them later, you’ll know exactly where they are. For more information and hints for where to find these items on your camera, watch the video down below.

    It’s important that you have your manual for this assignment. Manuals usually have a diagram of the camera with all the buttons and dials labeled. This should help you find the buttons and dials I mentioned.

    NOTE: To print the outlines, first save the photo as a PDF. Then print.

    Also, keep in mind, this isn’t an art class. You don’t have to draw a perfect camera diagram to scale. Just make it so you know what it means. Be creative-think outside what’s normal…be different. The important thing is that you learn your camera! 😉

    Third Assignment

    This is my favorite one! Take four photos and get them developed. I know I haven’t taught you anything about the camera yet, but that’s the point. I want you to see your growth from how you took photos before the course to how you will take photos after the course. For the photos you take, I recommend you do it in a variety of places-inside and outside. Have fun with it. Then get those four photos developed and put them into your journal. To see my recommendations for where to print photos, go check out the first photography lesson. Also, remember there is no editing for this photography course.

    Photography Lessons By Rachel Dawn- Episode Two
    The capital M on the dial means that the camera is in manual mode.
    The fraction shows the shutter speed. The decimal shows the aperture. Can you find what else is on the list?

    Conclusion

    That concludes the second episode for this photography course. I would love to see your assignments! Feel free to message me your assignments over on Instagram @byracheldawn, or use the hashtag #photographylessonsbyracheldawn. I won’t grade them. =-) But I would love to see them.

  • Homeschool,  Photography,  Photography Lessons

    Photography Lessons By Rachel Dawn: Episode One

    For the first photography lesson, we’re going to be covering all the tools you’ll need for the entire course, and why you need them.

    Camera

    For this course, you need a DSLR camera. In simple terms, it means that you need a camera that has a removable lens. I work with a Canon camera and lens, but the brand doesn’t matter. To find out what camera I recommend, go and check out my blog post Cameras: Which One Should I Buy?. But keep in mind, I know great photographers who work with Nikon, Sony, and Sigma. I’ve also asked a few other photographers to share their recommendations as well. It’s good to get other’s perspectives.

    Kathleen over at The New Girl in Nashville says,

    A great camera to start with as a fashion photographer is any full-frame camera. A full-frame camera gives you more control over the images you shoot; the ability to crop images to fit any type of editorial is much easier. I recommend an 85mm lens for fashion portraits and a high-speed zoom lens (70-200mm) for runway shows or any shoot where the models are using movement. I recommend spending money on a high quality lens and looking more for the camera body that fits within your budget. Camera bodies are always changing, but lenses will last a lifetime!

    Camera Nikon D850 here

    85mm lens here (another option a lot cheaper here)

    70-200mm lens here

    Kathleen Clipper Photography
    Maria over at Maria Ann Photography says,

    Hi, My name is Maria and I’m the photographer behind the lens at Maria Ann Photography. My photography journey started after the birth of my first daughter, ya know, a momtographer. 🙂 In 2010, after my last baby turned one, I realized that my babies were growing up way too fast, and it was at that moment, that I decided I wanted to take my photography to the next level. I also wanted to capture amazing memories for other families too. The very first camera I purchased was the Canon Rebel T3 which has been discontinued. The T3i is comparable to it, but one step above mine.  I currently shoot with the Canon Mark III (which I absolutely LOVE) and my back up is the Canon 6D.”

    Maria Ann Photography
    Jennie at Jennie Tewell Photography says,

    “My camera recommendation is going to be for the aspiring professional photographer. There are a lot of great cameras out there that are a little less expensive, but if you are wanting to go the professional route, I would definitely recommend a Canon 6D. I’m a Canon girl, but I’m sure there are other brands with a similar camera. It is an amazing camera, and will be fully capable to use professionally. It is a full frame, which I feel is a must, but also has a quick auto focus and works good in low light. You can find them super affordable if you look for a used one too! “

    Jennie Tewell Photography
    Brittanie over at A Quiet Soul says,

    “Even entry level cameras are 100x’s better than what we had 15 years ago! I love Canon & recommend you buy a DSLR camera body – the best you can reasonably afford. Skip the kit lens and get a prime lens according to your taste. I recommend one of these three: 50mm 1.8 (the most versatile), 35mm (great for wider angle shots) or 85mm (best for close portraits). A creative eye works much better than all the expensive gear.”  

    A Quiet Soul

    Camera Manual

    When I first taught myself photography, I learned from two resources. The most important resource was the camera manual. (The second was blogs!) Yup. I know. Who really reads the manual, right? Well, you will. LOL. Every camera comes with a manual-a book of directions telling you all about your camera. This is important because while camera brand doesn’t necessarily matter for this course, the manual does matter because it tells you exactly where everything is on your camera. When I mention specific buttons, you’ll get out the manual for your camera. You’ll look it up, and find out exactly where that button is on your camera. The important thing to remember is that I can’t tell you where every button is on your camera, but your manual does.

    Camera Strap

    This is basic, I know. And honestly, if you wanted to go without the strap, I get it. But I wanted to mention it because using the camera strap incorrectly for so many years has caused permanent damage to my neck and upper back. I go into more detail about how to use a camera strap in the video below. But I encourage you not to use your camera strap to hold the weight of the camera. The best way to hold your camera is in your hands. Use the strap only when absolutely needed. I promise, it will save you from a lot of pain down the road.

    Notebook & Pen

    The notebook and pen is to keep track of your progress. You can print out your photos and use washi tape to post them in your notebook. For printing your photos I recommend online printing labs. Mpix and Artifact Uprising are great places to get your photos printed. The best part is you don’t have to leave your house to do it. You can also write down any important things your want to remember about your camera. I will also be making some printables along the way that you’ll want to put into your notebook for reference. Over time you’ll love looking back to see how you’ve grown in your skills.

    Computer & Printer

    You’ll need a computer for downloading your images. You also need a computer to send them to print through an online printing lab. But keep in mind that there will be no editing in this photography course. You don’t need photoshop or lightroom. The first step to becoming a great photographer is to learn your camera. Then down the road, an editing class would be great to help you add a little more pop to your photos. The printer will be used for any charts or printables I make for you to print off and put into your notebook.

    Patience

    Rome wasn’t built in a day. So it makes sense to say you won’t become an incredible photographer in a day. It takes practice. Work. Lots of work. When you’re tempted to give up-because you will be-I encourage you to remember why you wanted to learn photography in the first place. I wanted to learn photography because I wanted to share our heritage with my great grandchildren. I imagine myself sitting with them and looking at photo albums. Telling them stories of life and God’s goodness. That’s what pictures remind me of. I see God’s story wrapping it’s way around my own- and I want to share that with my great grand children.

    Conclusion

    That concludes the first episode of the photography lessons here on the blog. I’m so excited to share the next episode with you. I can’t wait to see you grow and improve in your photography skills. And before you go, tell me why you want to learn photography! When you know your why it helps you stay motivated to learn!

  • Encouragement,  Watercolor

    On Being Broken

    I revisited a pit this week. Yeah, I know, that sounds weird. But stay with me. 

    I was feeling low. Emotional. Just not myself. I didn’t want to hang out with me. Make sense? 

    My thoughts had been going back to someone else’s critical, hurtful words. That was the pit. 

    You see, I had poured my heart out to someone. I was craving encouragement and wisdom.  I needed someone to see my whole story, but still see me as valuable. 

    We all have our dark closets.

    I thought I could trust her. I opened the door. The things you’re afraid to say out loud-those are the things I said. I was searching for hope-for someone to let me lean into them. I wanted someone to pray with me and for me.

    But instead of encouragement, there was judgement. Instead of hope, accusations. Over and over, I listened to how I wasn’t good enough. I fell short. I missed the mark. My life’s circumstances-my story- made me unfit and unable to discern what was right. She said if I did life like her, things would be different. 

    Her words made the pit.

    But my heart jumped into the pit.

    I spent months there. 

    Questions plagued me. Am I enough? Maybe I’m not a good mother? Maybe all my baggage is too much? What if I’m doing this all wrong?  Can God do something with me? Why am I alive? Do my kids really need me? 

    And this week,  I found myself looking down into that pit again and remembering all I had felt.

    Broken. 

    I’ve never doubted my worth more than when I listened to her. 

    But I will not listen to those lies again.

    This is me refusing to jump into that pit. People will think what they’ll think. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. My identity is found in Christ Jesus alone-not in what others think of me.

    I am not enough. But Jesus is. I make mistakes. I sin. But thank God he saves from sin, and makes beauty out of ashes. He has the power to work through every mistake. My baggage is part of my story.

    What she saw as my weakness-God sees as an opportunity for his glory.

    I’m alive for the glory of Jesus Christ. To know him. To enjoy him, and to point others to His incredible grace. And for as long as God allows I will speak truth. I won’t ever stop. I’ll shout it out loud till the day I take my last breath. 

    I am not enough!! But Jesus is!

    Maybe right now, your standing near the edge of a pit. I’m not sure what your pit is, but let me speak truth into your life. 

    You are not enough, but Jesus is. You are not what others think about you. Your baggage does not define you. God sees your whole story and still says you are valuable. You are made in the image of God, and you were put on this earth for a purpose that only you can fulfill. God wants you. You matter to him. 

    So, grab my hand.

    No really, grab it. I’ll be the voice that speaks truth to you. Lift up your head. Turn your back on that pit. I’m turning my back on mine, too. Refuse to listen to the lies. Remember the truth. Together, let’s walk away with our heads held high because even though we are not enough, Jesus is.

  • Family,  Family Relationships,  Watercolor

    The Seasons of Marriage

    I remember being a little girl and dreaming of my prince charming. Playing with makeup and fluffy dresses, I pretended to be a princess. Back then life was a fairytale.

    When I grew up, I still thought life was a fairytale. I met Josh and thought he was the one. My prince. The man that would complete me, fulfill me, and be everything that I needed.

    I married him.

    My fairytale shattered.

    Less than a year into our marriage, I lay on our overstuffed green striped chair in the living room crying. Was this going to be my life forever? Would he ever understand me?

    If I could write to my younger self-to the girl crying in the chair, this is what I’d tell her.

    Walk with Jesus.

    I know it sounds cliché. But he is your anchor. More than anything, you need Jesus.

    When your husband doesn’t see things from your perspective, walk with Jesus. Ask Jesus to open your eyes to see life from His perspective.

    When you are tempted to cast blame, and point out all of your husband’s short comings, walk with Jesus. Replace the blame with kind encouraging words.

    Marriage is made up of seasons.

    Some seasons are sad. Some are full of unspeakable joy. And most of the time, seasons are not forever. But no matter the season in your marriage, keep walking with Jesus.

    I know. The theme is redundant-this always walking with Jesus. But there is no hope apart from him. Your problems are often God’s furnace…he’s making you and your husband into gold-burning away the dross. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Let the brokenness fall away and give yourself over to Jesus completely.

    So, sit up in that chair. Wipe your eyes. I’m going to tell you something that will make your head spin. You ready?

    Jesus rescues you. He’s the real prince. He lived and died to prove how much he loves you. The day you make your marriage about Jesus is the day your marriage becomes a beautiful portrait of the Gospel.

    And surprisingly, I still see that life is sort of like a fairytale. My fairytale version of marriage shattered, but Jesus picked up those pieces, melted away the dross (he’s still melting some of the dross away), and he’s making our marriage a picture of the Gospel. Jesus came and loved me in my darkest moments. He died in my place. But he didn’t stop there, he gave me more.

    In fact, one of the greatest gifts he’s given me is Josh. My husband. My best friend. Josh forgives me for my darkest moments; and I forgive him for his darkest moments. He loves me no matter what; I love him no matter what.

    And now that I think about it, that sounds like an incredible fairytale to me-Forgiveness and Unconditional love.

    So remember- walk with Jesus.


  • Family,  Family Relationships,  Watercolor

    Loving Unlovable Children

    I started a blog post about this early last week. It was almost finished, then I deleted it.

    Here’s the truth about loving your kids when they’re unlovable.

    It’s hard. It hurts. Sometimes there are lots of tears. Sometimes there’s anger at yourself-your kids. Love doesn’t come naturally. When do we ever want to hug the person who rolls their eyes at us? When do we ever want to chase after the heart of a person who consistently reminds us of our mistakes? Does it ever become easy to love your child when they throw that temper tantrum in the middle of Target?

    I’m not having a light conversation here, this is real stuff.

    The stuff of motherhood often makes us want to run to our bed and cry. Cry because we’re lost and we have no idea what we’re doing. How do you do this? How do you love them when you don’t even know if your doing this mom thing right?

    Well, I could give you a list of how-to’s to deal with them. In fact, my first draft was just that. It was a how to guide-but seriously, how can you write a how-to guide for every mother in the universe. We all have our stories. We’re inside our lives struggling through things like the terrible twos, depression, wondering if we’re enough- all while trying to raise these tiny humans.

    We have our stories. You have your story.

    Maybe you’re at the end. Maybe you don’t know what’s next. You read your story and feel hopeless because motherhood is hard. You’re wondering what in the world to do. How do you do this mom thing? How do you love these kids when they aren’t lovable? And even when they are lovable, how do you do it? How?

    As I write the question, I’m screaming it out in my soul. “God, write it on the sky!? Please, God I beg you. I can’t do this alone.”

    Then a quietness suddenly fills me, and I realize something.

    The inaudible voice says something like a whisper in my heart, he says, ” It’s impossible to know how to love your children unless you first experience God’s love for you.”

    Have you ever experienced God’s love? This isn’t a touchy feely kind of love. It’s the real thing. Tangible. Life-changing. Turn your world upside down kind of love.

    Recently, I’ve been reminded of his love.

    There’s this story in the Bible-it’s one of my favorites. It’s about a woman caught in adultery. Yeah, that’s right. She’s caught having sex. And she’s brought out in front of the people-the people who have been judging her for her whole life -and they all pick up their stones. They snarl at her. Look at her like she’s worth less than the dirt they’re standing on. Disgust. Loathing. Condemnation fills them. And there she is in the middle. Maybe she has a sheet wrapped around her body. She’s shaking. Her shame evident to the entire world.

    And the people look at Jesus and they ask him, “What are you going to do with this sinner?!”

    As if Jesus should be taking up his stone. But he bends down and randomly starts writing in the sand. The Bible doesn’t say what he wrote. But finally, Jesus looked up into the eyes of the people who surrounded this woman and said, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Can you imagine the woman? Her head down in shame afraid to look at anyone. But then suddenly she hears something drop to the ground. She glances carefully over to the sound and sees a rock. One by one, the stones fall to the ground and finally no one is left but Jesus. He is the only one who can throw the stone. But he didn’t.

    He doesn’t throw stones at you either.

    No, Mama, you aren’t perfect. And sometimes it feels like everyone is throwing stones at you. But take heart, the One who matters doesn’t throw the stone. He looks at you and says, “I forgive you. Now go and sin no more.” He forgives you. He loves you more completely than anyone else in the world.

    Instead of crying on your bed at night wondering what to do, go to the One who never throws stones.

    When you are in rapture over His love, you’ll be more ready to love your children.

    When you understand God’s love, you see your child’s hunger for sin as a longing to fill himself with something other than God. You’ll begin to see them as searching souls who desperately want to fill themselves up with emptiness.

    But here comes the most beautiful part of motherhood.

    Mama, you get to show your children how much God’s love has changed you.

    You get to tell them why you do right. You get to show them how beautiful it is to be forgiven and loved no matter what you do.

    So, Mama, if I could tell you how to love an unlovable child? This is what I’d say-

    Fall in love with Jesus everyday. We can’t do this without him. And no matter what your story is, He’ll lead you to love them just the way they need you to.

  • Bathroom,  Fixer Upper,  Watercolor

    Bathroom Remodel

    It’s finished. Sigh of relief. Fixer uppers are no walk in the park. But when we finally crossed the finish line for this project, a spark ignited somewhere in this “design soul” of mine. This fixer upper journey is more than remodeling a house-it’s telling a story about us. Our family. God’s goodness. The adventures-the hard and the easy-that shape us and make us grow. Houses are stories.

    Before

    This photo was taken before the wallpaper peeled off, the water stains set into the carpet, and those black tiles started falling off in the shower. It was bad. For as long as I live, I don’t think I’ll ever grasp what motivates a person to lay carpet in a bathroom. (Gag.)

    Before beginning the remodel, I knew I wanted a clean look with straight lines and neutral colors. My goal was mid-century, contemporary and a little boho. Ha. I wanted to accent the bathroom with some of the same rose pink that was in the bathroom when we moved into the home. Overall, I kept the same color scheme with a more contemporary look.

    After

    My main focus in the bathroom was the vanity. We have wood beams in our living room and I wanted the same wood color to run through out the entire house. This vanity was perfect because of it’s straight lines, added warmth, and the black quartz top. I wanted strong contrast between the vanity and the walls; this vanity added the pop I was looking for.

    For now, we’ve decided to leave the door in it’s raw color. It may change as we finish more of the house. But I love how the different color wood stains look together.

    So, that’s a wrap. Bathroom remodel is officially finished. I can’t believe it. For more of what the process looked like, head on over to the demolition blog post.

  • Family Relationships

    How I Taught My Tween Daughter About Sex

    Okay. Okay. Deep breath, you guys. The “sex talk” doesn’t have to be an awkward conversation. I promise. In fact, it can be the talk that draws you closer to your children. Say what? No really, it can. Here are a few things I did before I began teaching my tween daughter about sex.

    Build A Relationship

    Have you ever had someone give you advice without first showing that they care about you? Yeah, I have. It’s no fun. I rarely listen to someone who hasn’t first built a relationship with me. Before you ever talk to your tween about purity and sex, build a relationship with them. And never stop.

    Building a relationship with your child is crucial. Without a good relationship, your child won’t care what you teach them about anything-especially sex.

    I tell my children often, “You can talk to me about anything? Boys you like. What you’re feeling. What’s right or wrong in a certain situation. Anything at all-you never have to be afraid of asking me anything-even if you’ve done the wrong thing. I love you no matter what. Don’t ask your friends. I know more than your friends. You’re friends are learning just like you. So if you have questions, come and ask. I’m always here.”

    Be Approachable

    So many friends of mine have told me that their parents never taught them about sex. They just “figured” it out-whether from a porn magazine or a tv show. One friend even said that it wasn’t proper to talk about sex in their Christian home -so they didn’t talk about it. Ever.

    Being an approachable parent is important. I want my kids to come to me before they go to anyone else. I want to be their safe place. When they’re scared, I want them to share their fears with me. When they have a crush on a boy or girl, I want to know. When they have questions about sex, I want them to ask me. Be your child’s safe place.

    Set the Limits

    We talk openly about our body parts around here-long before having “the sex talk”. I have two girls and two boys, so words like boobs, period, and penis are used out loud. I don’t shy away from using the correct terms for the correct body parts. I treat the subjects respectfully, teaching them boundaries. The home is a place you should be able to talk about anything. But the home is the limit. Just because you say those words at home doesn’t mean you should say them else where. Our children shouting the word PENIS in the grocery store aisle is something we want to avoid. I also let my children know that they shouldn’t teach their friends about these specific things. We leave that stuff for moms and dads because it’s their job to teach their kids.

    Evaluate Yourself

    So before teaching your daughter about sex, ask yourself what kind of relationship you have with her? Does she know you are a safe place? Does she know you love her? Do you show it? Are you approachable? Are you making her aware of the correct terms for her body? This isn’t about sex yet-it’s about educating. Assume your children doesn’t know these things. Tell them. Also, remind them every day you love them, and be open about telling them about their body.

    Notice Your Daughter

    While your kids grow, there will come a point when it’s time for the “sex talk.” I think this time is different for every child. Some kids mature faster than others. But as a parent, it’s our job to notice when that time is here. Maybe it’s when your daughter hears something at school that you wish she didn’t hear. Maybe it’s when you notice her body is changing, and she’s starting to talk about boys. Either way, it’s our job to look for the signs. Ask God for wisdom to know when to approach your child. We have to be aware of what’s happening in their lives. And we need to do it intentionally.

    I recently noticed that time was here for my daughter. I’m going to be honest here-at first I was terrified. But I faked it. Ha. Yes, I faked it. I asked for advice. I prayed. I made mistakes along the way, and I prayed some more. Ha! A lot of the time, I wondered if I was doing it right.

    Talk to Your Daughter

    Then a woman, who has grown children, shared a book with me, Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle. This was the book I used as a guide to have conversations with my daughter. We went through it slowly-we haven’t finished it yet. The book is written in two parts. The first part is directed toward the parent, and the second part is directed toward the child. What I love most about the book is that it mentions important topics like the body changing, sex, molestation, pornography, modesty, and homosexuality. Some of these topics may need you as the parent to give more of an explanation. If your child is anything like mine, sometimes it takes more than one conversation for them to comprehend what your teaching them.

    Books

    Ask Your Daughter Questions

    As I was teaching my daughter, we’d stop often. I’d ask her questions like, “What do you think about that?” “Explain sex in your own words.” “What does God’s Word say about modesty?” “Why do we want to be pure?”

    I tried my best to address her heart. We, as parents, can give a list of rules to our children; but rules often fail to reach the heart. I long to see my children desire to live a pure life because they’ve experienced the Lord Jesus working in their lives. I don’t what them to do it because I said so. I want them to do it because Jesus is crazy in love with them.

    Chase your child’s heart. Love them like Jesus has loved you. Unconditionally. With abandon. Relentlessly pursue them.

    No one ever told me chasing my child’s heart meant choosing bravery over timidity. But it does. I asked my daughter recently, “Did you ever feel awkward talking about sex and all that stuff?” Her answer: “No, I love talking to you.”

    You never know the difference you make as a mom. I know I didn’t.


  • Personal

    Reading God’s Word: What do I do?

    Lately, I’ve been in a dry season. I don’t feel like reading God’s Word. The holidays blurred by in a whirlwind frenzy. In all the chaos, I’ve been missing my daily time with the Lord; I’m being honest here, I have no desire for it.

    But someone once told me that the more you do something, the more you’ll love it. I’m not sure if that goes for everything. I can’t imagine ever loving beets or oysters. But I have found it true when I read God’s Word. The more I read it, the more I want to read it. The hardest part is beginning.

    So I thought I’d share what my personal time with the Lord looks like. Maybe like me, you need to start spending time with God again. Or maybe you’ve never had a quiet time with God before, but you want to start. Either way, I hope this encourages you to spend time with the Lord everyday. But where do you begin? What tools do you use to spend time with the Lord? What does a quiet time with God look like?

    The Tools You Need

    These are the tools I use in my daily time with God: 1. A journal. 2. The Blue Letter Bible App 3. A commentary 4. The Bible. The Blue Letter Bible App and commentary are optional. You don’t have to have them to spend time with the Lord.

    The Process You Use

    To help me know what to do when I spend time with God, I use the acrostic SOAP. Each letter stands for a step you do in your time alone with the Lord.

    The S is for Scripture

    If you have never had a daily time with the Lord, there are a few books of the Bible I recommend. Any of the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John are great places to begin. These books give you a description of Jesus and how he lived. Another book I recommend for the beginner is I John. It’s a short book that explains what a believer’s life looks like.

    Now that you’ve chosen what to read, it’s time to open up your journal. Write the Word SCRIPTURE near the top of your journal page. Pretty simple ;-). I suggest reading about 10-15 verses. As you read, look for ideas in scripture that grab your heart. Whether it’s encouraging or convicting, write the verse that speaks to your heart under the word SCRIPTURE in your journal.

    The O is for Observation

    The letter O is for Observation. Under the SCRIPTURE portion in your journal, you are now going to write OBSERVATION. This is the time you “observe.” Some questions to ask yourself in this step are: Who is the author of the book? Who is the book written to? When this scripture was written, what was going on in history? What is the scripture about? What do certain words mean?

    A commentary can be useful in answering these questions. A commentary is a book that explains the Bible. I use the Wiersbe Bible Commentary. But remember that commentaries are not the inspired Word of God. You don’t need a commentary to have quiet time with the Lord. Although I have found that it can be helpful to understand scripture.

    Another tool you can use to answer your questions during Observation is the The Blue Letter Bible App. I recommend you download the app to your phone, and explore the features. I use this app solely for defining words in scripture that I don’t understand.

    The A is for Application

    The letter A is for Application. Go ahead and write the word APPLICATION underneath the OBSERVATION portion in your journal. Now you apply what you’ve learned from Scripture to your own personal life. How do you need to change because of what you’ve read? What specific area of your life needs to change and why? Make sure to write it down.

    The P is for Prayer

    Finally, the letter P is for Prayer. Write the word PRAYER underneath the APPLICATION portion in your journal. Write what’s on your heart. But keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be a long prayer. Your heart’s motives are most important. Adore him for who he is. Confess to him your sin. Be genuine. Thank him for all he’s done. And ask for him for anything. Write it down.

    Encouragement for the Road

    Spending time with God doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy. Jesus wants your heart. The real you. Go to him as you are, and he’ll change you into the person you are meant to be. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Growing in Christ is a journey that doesn’t happen in a day.

  • Photography

    Cameras: Which One Should I Buy?

    Around Christmas time, people come to me wondering what camera they should buy? Before telling them what I recommend, I always ask them why they want a camera. Usually people will answer in a few different ways: “I want to take pictures of my kids.” “I want to take pictures of the places I travel to.” “I want to pursue professional photography.”

    Based on their answer, I give them my recommendation. The question I’m going to answer is, “What kind of camera should I buy if I want to take pictures of my kids?”

    Watercolor

    The Camera Body

    My first camera was a Canon Rebel. It was nothing super fancy, but it was all I needed. Before getting into photography, my main goal was to take great pictures of my kids. I wanted to preserve our heritage through photography. I wanted to capture memories. My personal experience with the Canon Rebel won me over completely. I learned how the camera worked, and how to shoot in manual mode. I learned to love photography. Funny thing is that almost 10 years later, I still have it. I gave it to my daughter to learn photography. In all that time, it has never let me down. That’s why I’ll always recommend a Canon Rebel camera.  It’s easy to use and not too overwhelming to learn. But this is only the body.  I prefer to choose my own lens.

    The Lens

    Different lenses are used for different reasons.  That is an entirely different blog post for a different time. But since we’re talking about portraits of kids, my go-to lens is this fixed lens. It’s important to know what a fixed lens is. A fixed lens doesn’t have the ability to zoom.  You have to use your feet.  Some people aren’t interested in a lens that has no zoom.  It’s a preference.  But I think the inconvenience of having no zoom is worth it when you look at the image. Also, the more you practice using a fixed lens the more you get used to moving around instead using zoom.

    In closing, I’d encourage you to remember why you want to buy a camera. The one you choose has everything to do with what you want to photograph. Keep that in mind when you go shopping. And have fun!! Buying a new camera is so exciting! Let me know what you bought in the comments below! Also if you just bought a camera, go and check out this blog post about posing children.