Thursday, January 5, 2017

Revealing the Truth | {Bringing out the archives}

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As I revisit my blog from time to time I sometimes take time to look back at old "drafts" that have accidentally slid into an archive status. I think I'm going to slowly start sharing them because honestly I don't know why I didn't at the time?

PS. There are the sweetest little chubby cheeks in the video at the end of this post... I can't believe how fast time goes.

August 8, 2012

I know that I may offend some of you. If I do, I am sorry but I really can't keep something this amazing all to myself.

You see, I've had a whirlwind of a month in July. It all started years before, actually when I was only about 5 years old but it was only recently that I really had my "A-HA" moment.

If I try to sit here and try to piece it all together I would be spending hours. Really I just credit it all to Jesus.

You see, he had a bigger plan for my life.

Bigger than living in the Midwest.

Bigger than getting Married.

Bigger than being a Mom of two boys.

Bigger than being a Blogger.

Bigger than having an Art talent.

Bigger than having a knack for Baking.

Bigger than being a Sister.

Bigger than Loving others.

His plan is to let my life glorify him in ALL I do.

And the funny thing is that most of the areas that give me trouble in life end up being what brings me back to him. Trusting him with it all.

If you want the details please visit my Faith page. But the long and the short of it is that I realized that neither people or things will make me happy. Only by fixing my eyes on Jesus through all circumstances will I then have complete Joy!

I can't get enough of Jesus right now. I have been thoroughly enjoying sermons at my church, fellowship with other Christian Sisters, reading my Bible and reading awesome Christian books.
I finally have the truest desire to serve Jesus in all aspects of my life because he is all that really matters. Will I lose friends along the way? Absolutely. Will I have trials and suffering? If I'm human it's a given. But with the author of perfection: Jesus, he can turn all those things into things that glorify him.

I really could go on all night but I'll just leave you with this precious little video of my boys saying a very key verse.

Living for Him,

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Peanut Butter Cookie Apples | Healthy Snack

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In my quest for living a healthier life I have grown to love Organic, Non-GMO foods and being a member at Costco has changed my life in this respect. As you browse through the aisles things jump into your cart with little thought. After all, who could resist health food at discounted prices? I really hesitated to get a membership for years and finally decided that being five miles from a club discount store was too good to pass up. Wow, after almost two years we have saved hundreds of dollars and taken advantage of fuel discounts and rebates. I promise I am not being paid to say this, this is all the honest truth!

This morning my kiddos were hungry for a treat and I decided to offer them some of the Gala apples we purchased last week at Costco. As part of my getting healthy initiative I decided I wanted a treat too but wanted to add a little protein and healthy fat to my snack to help tide me over until lunch. With many a trip to Costco I found myself with a nice array of healthy and/or Organic items in my pantry to stir up quite the delicious snack!! I just love when I accidentally stumble upon the most delicious treat.

Peanut Butter Cookie Apples

Recipe by Robyn Rasmussen blogger at Tips From the Heart
healthy snack

Ingredient List: (All purchased from my local Costco**!)

1 Gala apple halved and seeds removed
1 Tablespoon Organic Coconut Oil melted
2 Tablespoons Organic Peanut Butter Powder
1 Tablespoon Organic Flaxseed
Cinnamon added to liking (I tend to use about 1/2 teaspoon)
Dash of water

Mix all powdered ingredients together, then add to melted coconut oil and stir to combine. Add a dash of water to desired consistency and smash onto apple with a fork. The coconut oil will begin to harden and it makes a delicious crunchy treat!

**I have not been compensated in any way for this post! I really and truly just LOVE my Costco membership! 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Looking back to 2016 | Looking Forward to 2017!

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2016, the long version.

Wow, what a journey 2016 has been! It is funny how we fail to see all the little things building up for greater things later. At the beginning of the year I was struggling through a lot of things. Business, finance, marriage, parenting, body image, and most importantly my faith. I was stuck in the pattern of "Why me?" and "I guess this is just what God has planned for me." Yet, a new found curiosity for living life FILLED with the Word of God was beginning to take over my life.

Mounting pressure: take out the everything between the first and last letter and you are left with ME.

The year of 2015 God started revealing all the yuck in my life, leading to a crescendo as recent as this past month. The noise had taken over. Social ME-dia was the perfect mirror of just that. I wanted a better marriage, I wanted to make the best financial plans. I wanted to choose the way I taught my children. I wanted to make all the decisions. But God had a different way. And for this, I am thankful.

I've shared before that I felt the need to leave my photography business behind. But there was a lot more to that than meets the eye. Originally I wanted to quit because I needed to upgrade my equipment and there is quite a cost involved with that. Then I started feeling a gentle nudge telling me that I needed to do this for my family. Did we have more money before I closed my business? Yes. Did I have a handle on all the house and family time? No. I knew I had to give it all up. But for what, I didn't know the half of it.

As December 24th rolled around in 2015 I was at another low in my life. I had began to see the truth through a new and very dear friend of mine but I had let the photography business and the need to fill my own plans choke out the easier way that God had for me. Every year the photography would push my own family further and further back. "The kids and husband would always be there later", I thought. Furthermore, my husband has a hobby so I could certainly justify my own. Life has to be fair, right? It is these very thoughts and emotions that push the Holy Spirit further and further away and invite your flesh to take over.

The last four seats.

People. I spent Christmas Eve trying to fulfill an order for a client and ended up causing my family to be late to the local Christmas church service. Mind you, my husband was only going along to appease me and then he had to walk in late because of my home business and to top it all off we were ushered to the last four seats left in the church. The front and center so-close-you-get-spit-on-by-the-preacher-front-row. It was as I sat there that I should have known that I had taken it too far. Oh, no, I don't learn that easy. Needless to say and fair enough, that evening was finished off with a bit of a rebuke from my husband.

I am ashamed to think what I must have looked like from God's perspective that evening. That was very much a part of what I would see Christ paying for later. As a parent we get so frustrated when our children throw fits about something when we offer them help. But part of the learning process is allowing them to try their own way, within a safe distance, and then hug them as they come back to us crying. God is the most graceful and loving parent that I could stand to learn a lesson or two from and this is part of my journey.

Friends in low places

Thankfully I have a very loving Christian friend who would help gently get me back on track. We have only missed meeting together weekly about three weeks in the past two years. Meeting weekly has been my lifeblood when combined with reading the Word of God. We spend hours hashing over every detail of our lives and what God is doing in them. We share the deepest details of how we are really feeling and have the most beautiful relationship as sister's in Christ. Although we felt blessed to have each other we continued to pray that God would provide more people for us to meet with who had the same passion for Christ. You see, we have learned the magnitude of what Jesus has done for us and wanted to find others who want to live every detail of their life with the attitude of Jesus.

The Year of Jubilee

January 2016 was a marker for my walk with Christ. I was going through what this year would hold for our family. We were in a really sticky financial situation that seemed to be a never ending dark tunnel. Ironically the very thing that I thought I could do to solve everything wasn't working and the solution my husband had (and I was very against) ended up being the answer to our mess. We began to have discussions about what role my business and my part time job had in our finances. The solution is not anything that needs to be shared with you for the privacy of our family. Let's just say that the Lord used a Jubilee Year to set us free from years of bondage. For the first time ever in our marriage every debt on all fronts had a balance of zero.

As we carefully poured over budgets, expenses and incomes we began to realize that our family and time together would be the most crucial in carrying forth this blessing that God had granted us with. The typical annual reprieve from photography was decided to be a permanent closure of the business. Suddenly all the hours of effort to grow the business over the past three years didn't even matter to me an ounce. This was likely the power of the Holy Spirit. I have never experienced such a clean break from something before in my life. And further more it was decided that I also quit one of  my part time jobs in order to keep things running smoothly at home. All of this felt totally contrary to natural human instinct. We were finally in the position to really start saving up and working towards bigger things but somehow that didn't matter.

In the midst of all of that huge financial change, I would have typically ran to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with all my free time. Who wouldn't want to hang out online with people via the Internet of things? Strangely the Lord was drawing me away from the world and deep into His Word. Once I begin to get an overwhelming urgency to stop something I tend to quit cold turkey. I think some may call this a "conviction".

Facebook: guilty as convicted. 

It began with Facebook. I decided late one night on either January 1st or 2nd to delete my account for good. The reason I quit was actually kind of along the line of conspiracy theory but that doesn't matter because it would turn out to be just the beginning of a long line of answers to prayer. I think there would be millions of people who would admit they spend hours a day on that one site and also agree with a barrage of sins that are easily committed with an innocent profile search, like or post. The very fears that prevented me from deleting my account sooner were soon demolished with a direct answer from God.

My largest fear was losing touch with relatives and friends with the closing of that Facebook account. Not even one week later I had been praying for an aunt of mine and didn't even know why. She was on my mind so I spent time asking God to be with her, whatever was going on. Later on I was talking with my mom and she casually mentioned that my aunt had broken her arm and was really struggling. Here, my family had assumed I had known about it because it had been circulating Facebook. Instead the prompting of the Holy Spirit had made me aware that I should be praying for her and that is really all I needed to know!

A new mission.

Alongside the finances, freedom from Facebook and lack of need to further my photography education and making marketing plans as I usually did during the slow months God gave me a new line of work and this involved reaching souls. The meetings between my friend and I grew into something even more wonderful very soon. She mentioned having a friend join us and it was really such a blessing to have a new person in the group and not long after I reconnected with a co-worker from a previous job who also had an interest to join a study group. Before long our group had grown from two to four and then later adding in a fifth person.

Along with adding people to a group that discusses every facet of life with a Biblical perspective comes a huge amount of stretching, pruning and growth. While we have had our ups we have also had huge downs with an even greater growth in Christ. It is incredible the process that the Lord takes us through to sanctify our hearts.

It's not about you. Really? 

As the year moved along the Bible study group helped me find my groove. I was spending hours watching Christians around the world on You Tube, educating myself on world views, learning about prophesy, dreams, visions, even the basics of the Bible and the lies that we have bought in this world. Over and over again the phrase came up in our group; "It's not about you." I heard the words but it had not yet sunk in. This new perspective on life, through the eyes of a true Christian world view my prayers changed immensely. It went from change this and this and this to CHANGE me! I was craving living a life that was piled high with the harvest of the fruits of the Spirit.

Along with change in my own life came a change in the way I parented. Without a camera as my obsession the biggest desire was to create a desire in my little boy's a heart that sings for Jesus instead of another perfect post for Facebook or this blog. We spent time praying together each morning on the way to school. They began to actually wish that they were staying home with me. Maybe the shift in attention to their needs and wants was creating in them a desire to spend time with me. Those perfect blogs and Facebook posts were now actually a reality but instead of a fake perfect picture we were making memories in our minds and hearts.

Dear God, please let us...

Soon they were pleading with me to homeschool. Being married to a man who has beliefs similar to what mine used to be presents no challenge too large for God. I would tell the boys to pray that we could homeschool and I was also desiring to do this too but I understood it had to be God's plan in order to work. Part of God's plan is honoring your husband, no matter what, unless he is asking you to sin. I could understand his concerns with pulling the boys from school. It isn't the "norm" according to the world and it would be a very large challenge for myself as I am not the most patient person in the world.

Growing closer.

By this time politics were beginning to flare and swirl into a gigantic mess for the world to see. The elections actually ended up bringing my husband and I closer together. We were one hundred percent on the same page, albeit for different reasons. Either way, we were happily chatting about more and more information we gathered that supported our decision that we did not waiver from. I began to see a change in a man who now had a life view much more similar to my new one. I also began to despise Twitter and decided this was the appropriate time to also let that fall by the wayside.

Conversations between my husband and I began to flow even more smoothly than ever before. We had spent many years on opposite teams on multiple fronts of life. It was almost as though I enjoyed disagreeing with him and he would tell me that! I was learning that even when I may not agree I did not have to say that, unless it was a direct violation of my beliefs in Christ. And would you know it, not a single one of our disagreements were!  Soon, when I began to let go of the tiny details God gave our family a gigantic answer to prayer.

Schools out for the  summer forever.

School would be out for the boys in a month and I was growing more and more frustrated with responses from the school and my husband agreed with me on all of my responses. Yet another way the Lord was bringing us closer. I was utterly shocked when I mentioned buying some school curriculum and he told me, "Yes, go ahead." I was thinking he meant to buy this to help the boys get ahead over the summer in our free time. No, he meant HOMESCHOOL. I could not believe the miracle I had just heard. He agreed to let me try it for a year. I respected his wishes and also kept it a secret from the boys until we were ready to share the good news with them. We wanted to make the last day of school less emotional for them and it ended up being really exciting to have a secret together.

Over and over again God was answering prayers and in every case it was in a completely opposite way than I had expected. It was really strange for me to experience so many great things and really not have done a thing besides pray and seek God.

Sum, Sum, Summertime. 

By the middle of summer our life had changed quite a bit. This is usually when I would have been starting to ramp up my photography and working extra hours. Instead I had cut out all extra income and learned that I would be homeschooling in the fall. Once we told the boys it was as if life couldn't possibly get any better.

Soon my husband proposed that we get a newer family camper. I grew up camping and so you would assume that I would have been through the moon when my husband vowed to spend more time together as a family. Instead I allowed my flesh to take over. With this purchase I said that I trusted my husband's decision but I allowed myself to throw a fit over adding a new financial commitment after we had completely paid everything off. I began to allow bitterness to creep in and by August I felt on the verge of a mental breakdown. It was during this time that I also felt convicted by the false persona I was giving everyone on Instagram. Once again social media was helping sin get a deeper root within my soul.

Time for School.

By the time school started up I was able to pull myself together a little bit considering I was now homeschooling, a complete answer to prayer. However I soon lost my joy and was beginning to get frustrated that I no longer felt joyful about anything. I felt like there was a block between God and I. And I thank the Lord that my friend was loving enough to question if I was letting go of everything. She came right out and asked me. By this time the bad attitude had began to seep into our friendship as well. I was beginning to treat her the same way I treat my husband. But when she asked me that it began to get me thinking.

The timing was horrible. I was supposed to be celebrating ten years of marriage and instead I was grappling to understand who I even was as a person. I knew that Jesus is the Messiah who came to save me but somehow I still did not believe it to my core. Everything I tried to do was failing. I was a horrible wife, a horrible homeschooling mother, a horrible friend, at my worst health ever and failing to see any fruit from the hours of reading the Bible and praying that I was doing. Something had to give.

I surrender all.

If there is anything I have learned as an adult, it is that I need to take constructive criticism in a more mature way. I finally decided to search out what this block was between God and I and I believed that my friend had a great question for me, Did I give God everything? What was I holding back? And so began my journey to surrender.

I began to read extensively on how to surrender and what it means to take every thought captive and how to really worship the Lord. Did you know that worship is far more than just singing praise songs and praying? Worship is seeing God for who He is and truly treating Him as Lord of your life. Most incredible to me was that my prayers to show the fruits of the spirit in my life were actually pretty selfish. They are gifts, that He rewards us with for obedience. I began to admit deep rooted sins in my life. Things that I had never owned up to, but had held deep in my heart, to persuade me to act in an unbecoming way. This involved forgiving others and myself and giving every thing to God. I even had a night of writing every sin down that I could think of and then tore them into a million pieces.

But still, I could not feel joy. I pleaded with God at this point and told Him that I would need Him to make it crystal clear to me. I needed Him to show me where to go from here. I figured I must had forgotten something deep inside myself that needed to be forgiven in order to get to the bottom of myself. In typical fashion, God had another way.

He paid it all.

One morning early in November as I was walking to the shower I felt the desire to pray. I often times will spend long lengths of time knelt by my bed in prayer. This morning was what I figured was another call from Him to get on my knees and admit where else I had failed. What happened next was life changing. **Let me warn you, it is unlike anything I have ever experienced before and quite honestly I don't know where I went. But what I know is that it was outside of our current time domain. Before you ask to have me committed to the nearest hospital please understand that God works in very mysterious ways. This just so happened to be the way He chose for me to have a "come-to-meetin'" with Him.

As I knelt down and began to pray the words stopped flowing easily from my mouth. I almost felt as though someone or something had put a cap over my head not allowing any thoughts to escape. I began to assume that it was demonic in nature so I prayed for the Lord to remove this block if it was not from Him. Strangely it did not go away but instead the darkness increased. Even though it is dark when you close your eyes this darkness was even darker to the point of pitch black.

When everything had gone black I noticed a cross lit up right in front of me. As I looked at that cross I could see Jesus in agony and I could see Him paying for very specific sins, my own sins. I began to weep uncontrollably for what I had done to Him. It literally forced me to lay face down on the floor. I felt the depth of the sins that I had committed and will commit yet future and felt the shame of what I had done. But along with that I knew that each and every sin I will ever commit has been paid for specifically. It became personal. And before I was allowed to feel any worse I then experienced Jesus coming off of the cross and He walked right up to me as I lay there weeping. I could feel His warmth and He came right up to me and told me "Robyn, I have already paid for you. There is nothing more you need to do besides trust me, I am here for you!"

For what seemed like an eternity I just sat beside my bed with my eyes closed, tears streaming down my face, trickling down the lines of my smile. I didn't want to forget what just happened. Jesus had just paid for all my sins and then He offered to comfort me on top of it all?!? My body felt as light as a cloud and my soul seemed to look at my body as though it does not belong there. I could hear my children just outside the room and knew I must get up and move on with life. The sensation of what I had just experienced lingered in my mind all day and I wanted to shout it off the rooftops. "I'M PAID FOR!!! IT IS FINISHED!!" Finally I understood what full surrender means. I must trust in Jesus to do it all. This does not mean I sit on my couch and sing all day. This means that I live as a woman who trusts the Lord with her life and spends her time here on earth devoted to the glory of God.

Peaks and valleys,

Soon after this experience I was talking with my dear friend about it and she mentioned that I will have more peaks and more valley's. The old Robyn would have protested such an idea. The new Robyn has taken that to the Lord in prayer. Even within the last month I have already experienced what she meant.

Fresh off the come-to-meetin' with Jesus it was time to take a planned family vacation that involved riding in a truck with my husband, two young boys and a dog for 20 hours each way. Let me tell you, the Lord's timing is impeccable. If this trip had taken place even two weeks before it had it would have likely led to a divorce and one way ticket back to my own place. And it would have been no one's actual fault but my own. But I serve a God of grace, mercy and love who every so gently helped me navigate my way through my thoughts and actions resulting in an incredible trip for both our family and marriage.

Considering our trip went so well, I should have understood that there may be a valley just around the corner. No more than we got our bags unpacked than I began to get a little worried about the regular things in life. I began to plan things out the way I saw best and neglected to visit God about what steps He would have me take. Soon enough it was time to plan all the fun Christmas things and with so little time to remember that God is in control.

In the hustle and bustle I went down the road of planning and then ever so quickly the road of destruction, to the point of an actual miniature fender bender in a parking lot. The damage was thankfully a mere $20 and so minor no claim to insurance was needed. But the bigger fix was my heart. Immediately all of the things I was doing wrong seemed to be magnified. I had neglected being submissive to my husband, I had made plans bigger than people and I had stopped trusting that God had everything under control. Luckily the valley was shallow and the recovery was fast. Within hours I was asking God to forgive me for what I had done wrong and that I was not trusting Him.

There were so many things that I had begun to try to solve on my own. Things that God can totally take care of if I would just let Him.  I finally prayed that I would trust that God would take care of me. Little did I know that He would not only take care of my actual needs but also my wants. Through a series of events we received a gift or two, emails and phone calls at just the perfect times that would take care of all our needs PLUS all of our wants.

The journey is just beginning.

This was just the beginning of many more chapters to add to my own unfinished story. I am not finished being made into something new and never will be. As long as I offer myself as a sacrifice to God, to use me for His good and perfect will, He rewards my obedience in ways that I could never imagine.

Am I going to struggle with making every thought captive? yes.

We tear down arguments 5and every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive in order to obey the Messiah.e 6Once your obedience is complete, we will be ready to reprimand every type of disobedience. 
ISV 2 Corn. 10:5-6

Am I going to struggle with perfection? yes.

 5Have the same attitude among yourselvesc that was also in the MessiahdJesus:e
6In God’s own form existed he,
and shared with God equality,
deemed nothing needed grasping.
7Instead, poured out in emptiness,
a servant’s form did he possess,
a mortal man becoming.
In human form he chose to be,
8and lived in all humility,
death on a cross obeying.
ISV Phil. 2:5-8

Is it hard to be a living sacrifice? yes.

1I therefore urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is the reasonable way for you to worship.a 2Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper,bpleasing, and perfect.
ISV Romans 12:1-2

But what I saw on that cross surpasses every thing I will go through on this earth. My Joy is now made complete in Jesus.

May you be blessed as you look to what 2017 will bring!

1Therefore, having so vast a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and throwing off everything that hinders us and especially the sin that so easily entanglesa us, let us keep running with endurance the race set before us, 2fixing our attention on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, who, in view ofb the joy set before him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. ISV Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, October 17, 2016

Life Upside Down

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"I seriously want to give up on homeschool. Alex is in a funk I cannot break. I am beyond frustrated... How do you keep your sanity while catering to multiple styles of learning. Oh, and correcting nine years of confused parenting? I did some crying out to God today on my knees."

This was the exact words I texted to my bestie last week.The week before had been horrible. The homeschool honeymoon was over. Let me add this texting conversation was only 45 minutes after thinking I should really put up a blog post, one that was all colorful and warm, about how homeschool was going so far this year.

Her response: "You make a lot of mistakes, you eat a lot of crow and you pray a lot! It is worth it though."

And this got me thinking, "Why did I begin homeschooling in the first place?".Ahhhh yes, it was a prompting from the Holy spirit.

It was a little voice of mommy intuition that cried out each time I dropped a pair of sweet brothers off at the local school. When the "what if's" began to surface. And looking into their innocent eyes I would promise them that if ANYTHING ever happened that I would do everything in my power to come and get them and bring them home to safety. But you and I both know that school shootings are now a growing scary list.

It was a loss of values in this great country of America. Having conversations with an eight year old about why some of the kids in their class may have two mommies or two daddies and how this isn't God's plan but that we must still be kind and quietly pray for them to learn the truth.

It was dozens and mountains of heartfelt prayers. A marriage to a man who doesn't voice whether or not he may say a prayer and likely does not was an obstacle I was certain that would only be overcome by the Lord Himself. Car rides to school usually involved a tearful prayer from two small boys crying out to God that if it was the right thing for our family, could we please homeschool?

It was support from an amazing group of Christian women who I meet with weekly who encouraged me to consider praying that I could homeschool. We talk about the world around us and feel pretty strongly that we are given children as a gift so that we can teach them in the way that they should go.

It was the desire to extend a little devotional here and there to daily studies that bring the Bible into every facet of our lives. I didn't want to hope that they learned what was necessary from the coloring sheets and songs on Sunday's. The Bible is the most incredibly written and complete life manual for teaching!

Why did we have such a horrible week? It was likely a beautiful reminder from God himself that even when life is turned upside down He is in the details. We humans are funny that way. We need a reason to remember why we follow His leading in our lives. By crying out to Him I have realized exactly why we  are on this journey of homeschool. Homeschool is an opportunity to live life as he intended for us and for this I am grateful. By falling low I was given the chance to cry and out, pick up my cross and follow Him.

And what did I do with this rough week? I followed it with a week of Joy. Play dates with friends, math worksheets on the couch while all snuggled up to mom, lunch in the park with a book, a trip to the library, movies that teach gratefulness and a breath of fresh air.

Boy am I blessed.

In Him,

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Leaving My Photography Business Behind

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"Be careful of the thorns when gathering fruit and understand when it's time to prune."
-Robyn R. Rasmussen 
This simple statement should have been at the forefront of my mind when deciding to start a business.

If you are reading this blog you have likely become accustomed to reading blogs and searching the Internet for information while being entertained.  Innocently enough my quest for business began much the same way and found it's way out in the photography world starting and ending with photographing food.

Food in it's simplicity and still beauty was and is my favorite thing to capture in pixels. Preparing a beautiful dish and then hunting for dreamy sunlight brings me joy. Sitting on my bigger behind for eight hours a day diligently editing for looming deadlines of holiday cards and high school yearbook deadlines does quite the opposite in the way of my feelings.

Photography to make money is like convincing yourself that sugar-free syrup is delicious. It seems totally possible, as the deep amber liquid flows from the bottle. It is sure to bring a sweet delicious calorie-free morsel to your mouth and then you place the first bite in your mouth it's believable. Then suddenly you get the after-taste. The slightly tangy, distinct, non-syrup, non-sweet taste clings to your tongue. You convince yourself that maybe the next bite will be better but it just never does. Eventually you get used to the unusual taste and decide that this is just the way that having pancakes calorie-free will have to be.

Year after year I was really good at forgetting the bitter taste and digging in for another calorie-free bite only to realize once again that things have not changed. Photography is just as challenging and unexpectedly hard year after year, season after season. Perfection only complicated this process as each year I held myself to yet a higher standard of skills and offerings. And much like diet food in general, my family was not buying it.

On the flip side of dieting you have exquisite four course meals at a five start restaurant in Chicago that you dream of dining at one day. There is an elite list that you desire to top. Soon you find out that topping the list means reaching high goals, long hours and sacrifices.

As I have grown in a deeper understanding of where God has placed me in this fading world I have realized that my focus as a Christian was less than Christ-centered. It was business centered with a Christ flavor. The original focus of my photography was to glorify God but in the quest to make things make sense I lost my footing. Rewarding were the smiles of a mother who has dealt with loss and then watched me photograph her new baby daughter or the gentle reassurance to the mother of a six-month-old when telling her that I would be praying for her as she was up in the night. Rewarding was revisiting children that I have known since babies and now documenting their senior year.

The moment it changed was the moment it was my sole career. I spent hours being encouraged online to make money doing what I loved. And the simple of idea of making money was what brought it all downhill. Money took control. The dollar trumped my family, my values, my weight, my health and most of all my faith.

Finally, 3 years down the road I began to realize with the still small voice of God that I was not on the path He had intended. I was wandering further and he was ready to help me gently turn back. And it was almost overnight that I decided to sell my camera and quit the photography business. I have not turned back for a moment. It has been beautifully rewarding and worth every moment.

Do I love all those clients and experiences that I had along the way? Absolutely yes, I loved every minute of it. Did I get carried away in my quest to make a greater salary? A resounding yes. Where do I go from here? I'm not sure. It is a work in progress. For now, I am focusing on my family and taking photos with my iPhone.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

First Snow of the Fall

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I have to be careful saying first snow of the year... because quite honestly we have had plenty of snow early in 2015. Drawing closer to the Thanksgiving week and kickoff to the holiday season we have been given 8 inches of heavy wet snow. And the family could not be happier!

I was supposed to be sleeping in because I work overnight tonight but much like a kid on Christmas morning I hopped right out of bed and ran out to take some photos of the first snow of the fall.

Our dogs, both Pitbull and Springer Spaniel mix, adored the snow and could run in it for hours. The tiny little puppy ran in circles with snow up to her belly and she didn't mind a second!

The older the boys get the more they enjoy it. Once they dug the snow pants and boots out they were able to completely dress themselves, a HUGE improvement from last year. And, when they went out they were happy to play for over an hour.

As I watch my boys grow I am so excited that we are at this stage in life. Memories in the making!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

PB&J Popcorn: A Healthy Game-Time Snack

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Looking for a healthy football season snack?

Stove top popcorn is a favorite in our home and I thought it would be fun to change it up to make a new flavor. While in Target the other day I found this amazing berry chocolate and started dreaming about PB&J creations I could make. With five ingredients and a couple of minutes I made a yummy and healthy snack.

1/2 cup Popcorn kernels
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2-4 Tablespoons PB2 powder
1 Teaspoon sea salt
4 squares berry flavored dark chocolate.

Popping Popcorn On Your Stove top:
Place coconut oil in a medium pan with lid on medium heat. Once hot, add the popcorn kernels and heat, covered until you hear it sizzling. Then, leaving lid on, shake the pan as you hear the kernels popping. Remove from heat once you no longer hear kernels hitting the sides of the pan. You must continue to move while on the heat in order to keep the popcorn from burning.

Add your seasoning:
Transfer to another dish and sprinkle the PB2 and sea salt over and mix thoroughly. Then spread out on parchment paper.

Add your toppings:
Heat dark chocolate in microwave until melted for drizzling. Spread the popcorn and drizzle over the top.

I have also been known to spread the popcorn out on a baking sheet and sprinkling M&M's and marshmallows on top before sliding the mixture into an oven at 350° until the marshmallows are browned and puffy.

The seasoning is lightly PB flavor with just a kick of berry sweet chocolate. Enjoy your hint of PB&J popcorn!

For more healthy snack tips and ideas you have to visit this page