Thursday, March 31, 2011

jewelry equals hope

I wrote a post the other day titled Modern Day Slavery.  That single post generated a lot of response mainly because of it's shocking nature.  Those stories must be told to educate the world on the realities that are happening with sex trafficking.  However, as a photographer, I would be remiss if I didn't tell the story of what God is doing here in India.  He is alive and He is doing amazing things.  He has raised up Indians to minister and reach out to their own people.  It's been such a privilege to meet these people and see their hearts of compassion for their own country.

making jewelry4

Being here, it is so evident that this jewelry project is God inspired.  We can't just give a man a fish.  We must teach him to fish also.  These girls must be rescued, but if they don't have some type of skill, something as a means of income, what's keeping them from going back to a life of prostitution? 

handful of earrings

The other day we visited 14 girls ranging in age from 18-21.  Every single one of them were the victims of sex trafficking.  They were rescued by the police and sent to this home.  God rescued them and gave them a new start.  He redeemed them from the pit.

making jewelry5

Over the next few years, the girls will be transitioning out of the house to living on their own.  The timing of this jewelry project is so amazing.  It is giving them a skill set to survive and put food in their bellies.  It's helping them to attain their dreams of becoming a nurse or a doctor.  It is giving them hope.    

making jewelry6

I had so much fun photographing these girls.  We laughed and we talked about cricket.  They touched my heart in a way that I won't forget.  They will forever be in my prayers.  Every time I look at fresh water pearls, I will remember these girls!

After I get back from my trip, I will share details on how you can purchase jewelry from Hope's Gate made by the girls here in India!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

guest post :: jeremy on creativity

Jen asked me about a month ago to write a post. I thought "sure."  Then, as it came closer to the time, I became more and more intimidated with the thought of wtiting for all of you.  Over the last couple years, Jen has done an amazing job with this blog.  More and more people are reading it, and most of you are moms.  What could I say to you?  You ladies are amazing.  I am writing this as a single parent while Jen is away in India.  It has been 2 days and I am already tired.  More coffee please.  (Note: Now he only has 2 days until I return!) 

Jen had asked me to write of the topic of creativity, so here are some of my fresh thoughts on creativity.

"One finished project is better than one thousand great ideas."  Awhile back I read this somewhere and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am the one who has a new idea every other minute, and I must say that when one of those ideas actually takes shape it is an incredible thing.

guitar

Jen has shared her story and how she did not think she was creative.  She always said that I was the creative one, because I had all the ideas.  I was the dreamer, but just because I dream and have more ideas than my wife can handle, does not mean that I am exercising my creativity.  A creator creates.  We all must work and grow in our creativity.  To not exercise our God given characteristic is nothing but a waste, and exercising means finishing.

Yes, this could look different for every person.  For me it is song writing and interior design.  Both came for me out of a practical place.  I started playing guitar and singing songs as a way to connect with God.  I started remodeling houses, because I needed to provide a place for my family to live, and we could only afford old run down houses.  Both have become passions and creative outlets for me.  For Jen it started in the kitchen serving family and friends with great meals.  Then with writing updates to family and friends on this blog, which in turn led to wanting to take better photos for the blog, and we all know where it has taken her, to India exercising her passion for photography while serving the poor.

guitar strings

A couple years back I met an incredible man with a crazy story.  He grew up in Europe and spent 20 or so years homeless in America with a severe drug addiction.  Now drug free he serves the poor in Africa.  He and his wife came and stayed with us in Africa for about a month.  Every day he would play his guitar.  He was good.  One day I sat down with him as he played.  We just chatted about guitar stuff and how long he had been playing.  Then he began to tell me a bit of his story.  He plays everyday and usually plays a new tune each day.  He said that the creative process of playing daily for his Creator has been key for him staying drug free for the last 20 years.  Wow.

I believe that living creatively enables us to live to the fullest, but we must do it.  We must finish it.  Then we will grow.

To practice any ART, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your SOUL GROW. Do it.
Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

changing a child's future

It's been amazing to visit the children's homes here in India who are rescuing kids off the streets.  The impact they are having on these kids is simply amazing.  The number of street kids living in India can be overwhelming.  You begin to think, "Where do I start?"  I love that these children's homes have just started.  A few kids rescued has turned into hundreds of lives being saved from a life of begging and sex trafficking.  That is where the hope lies!

singing2

playing jenga

The other night we visited a children's home with some very, very precious kids.  All of them had been rescued off the streets.  Their smiles were so contagious that you would never even have known that they came from that reality.  The kids sang praises with joyful hearts and even quoted several passages of Scripture.  They are standing on the solid foundation of Jesus!

innocence

I realize more and more that you can't get overwhelmed walking the streets and seeing all the kids that need to be rescued, because that overwhelming feeling can lead to a feeling of hopelessness thinking, "But what can I do when there's so many?"  Instead, you let your heart be moved to compassion and you start with the one, knowing that one less child on the streets is making an impact. 

See my guest post at Hope's Gate where I also share about starting with the one.

Monday, March 28, 2011

life on the streets

streets color

Can you imagine living on the streets?  Can you imagine your "home" being something like a tent that lacks the elements that a house should provide like safety and shelter from the weather?  Now can you imagine being 5 years old and this is your reality?

kid2 color

kid1 color

As we visited the area where the street children live, my heart broke to think of the vicious cycle that so many of these kids fall into.  Without an education, they have very little hope of getting a good job that will put an end to the cycle of street life and prostitution.  These kids and young girls are so very vulnerable.  Gangs prowl the night hours taking whom they want.  The girls find themselves the victims of rape which sometimes leads to pregnancy.

washing clothes color

Life on the streets is tough, and it is evident in the faces you see.  Without visiting the streets, I would not have understood the tremendous impact that the children's homes who are rescuing these kids are having.  There is hope.  More to come on that...

Friday, March 25, 2011

modern day slavery

As we walked the streets of the red light district, I understood all too well our instructions, "Stay close and don't look anyone in the eye."  The craziness and despair that filled the streets was overwhelming...and then we entered the brothel.  The dark and narrow stairwell led us to the top floor where we were greeted by young, beautiful girls who were shy but happy we were there.

in the doorway b&w

It was hard to imagine that these girls led a prostitute life.  However, condoms on the bed, rows of locked money boxes, and girls leaving our little gathering and only returning 15 minutes later, after a customer was satisfied, snapped me into their reality.

money boxes2

A western mind can't fathom their stories.  A young girl sent there to earn money to pay for her sister's wedding.  A Christian woman who was sold something like 14 years ago, so she could repay a debt that keeps growing with interest.  Escape is not even possible as that means death will find her.

praying1 

Most, if not all, of these girls did not choose to be here.  They are trapped in this modern day slavery.  Entertaining 6-7 customers an evening and some that trickle in during the day, only earning $1 - $2 a customer, enslaves them to this life they didn't choose.

henna hand2

We shared the simple but powerful message of Jesus and I believe God used it to speak His love to them.  God's heart breaks over their pain.  As we said goodbye, I hugged one of the girls.  She returned my affection with a kiss on the neck.  Yes, I believe hearts were touched in some supernatural way.

talking & praying
this photo by kelly

Pray for these girls and the many more out there.  Pray that this modern day slavery would be defeated and these girls set free, never returning to this life again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

a stick of gum

Sometimes making a child's day can be as simple as giving them a stick of gum.  
Looking for the little moments to bless today...

handing out gum

chewing gum

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

advanced photography :: still life & macros

assignment : take a photo of something up close and be mindful of depth of field

dandelion

Macro photography is one of my favorite things to do.  I love getting in close and getting detail.  The pointers that I learned in class...
  • put oil, glycerin, or water on objects to make them pop.
  • using hair spray can create a frost effect
  • you can also use glycerin and water mixed together (half and half) to give the same effect.
yellow flowers

I love the practical hands on fun.  The last hour of this class we spent taking photos of jewelry and flowers using a light tent.  (Click here for instructions on making an inexpensive light tent.)  All I know is photography can be an expensive hobby!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

spring break fun

We had a great Spring Break!  Jeremy's parents spoiled us with shopping, eating out, pedicures and, manicures.  It was a perfect break before my trip!

pops and eg

pops and jman

eg and hannah

jman and hannah

Thanks, Pops & Hannah, for a great time!

Monday, March 21, 2011

over the ocean

Well, folks, by the time this post publishes, I am either sitting in the Brussels airport or in the airplane headed for Mumbai.  (I didn't take the time to calculate which.)  I tackled my list, but I did leave some for later.  I had a suspicion that would happen. 

letter

Emma G made me this which I safely tucked away in my carry on so I can look at it when I miss the kids!

I will be blogging some while I am in India but you might also see some days where I don't have a post scheduled.  I know you all understand.  You can also follow along with the Hope's Gate blog for updates and photos.  And if you didn't receive my prayer e-letter click here to see how you can pray for my trip.  (If you want to subscribe to future updates, click here.)

Thank you, friends, for being a part of this awesome journey.  I can't wait to tell you about India when I get back!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

smoothie pops

smoothie pop

I'm forever on the hunt for healthy snacks for the kids.  They love smoothies so I thought I would try smoothie pops.  Thumbs up!  My easy recipe...

1 cup yogurt (I used homemade yogurt)
1 banana
berries & honey (I used a 1/4 cup of each but you could use however much you liked)

Combine all in a blender.  Fill popsicle molds.  This made enough for 4 popsicles with enough leftover for my kids to have a taste!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

a little preview

eating a smoothie pop

This is a little preview to tomorrow's post.  I tried to get her to move her hair for the picture but she insisted that it cover part of her face.  I do believe this girl might have a career in fashion someday.  We had a conversation the other day that went like this...

EG: "These shoes hurt my feet."

Me: "Then why'd you wear them?"

EG: (in a "duh" kind of voice) "Because they're pretty!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

doodling for google

First off, let me admit to you.  I did not get these precious doodles sent off in time.  I didn't read all the directions until the last minute (mommy moment of the day) and therefore realized that I had.to.let.it.go.  That is so very hard for me, because I love completing projects and not sending these in felt incomplete.  However, I realized that the process was so very beautiful and that's where I'm finding my peace about it!

doodling 

jman's detective

The best part about this project was the dreaming that went on beforehand.  With the theme, "What I Want To Be Someday...," we asked the kids to dream about what they might want to be.  Joshua has really been into detective shows lately, so it was no surprise that he doodled a detective.  I also love that his list included "help kids that don't have homes."  Makes a mama smile.

Emma G dreamed of helping the world, helping other people, and helping a community.  We had just come off a family meeting where we discussed many of things, so they were fresh on the brain.  I love the world that she drew and that she's thinking so BIG!

with shades

help the world

Oh, and in case you didn't know, doodling is much better when done wearing 3D glasses. :)

As I think about the recurring theme of helping people in my kid's lists, I can't help but remember the recent events in Japan that have caused massive destruction and taken the lives of so many precious people.  I would have loved to have a list of different ways you can help but time is not on my side as my departure date draws near.  I've seen massive amounts of relief opportunities in the blogosphere as I'm sure you have.  Whether it be praying or giving, may we all find a way to reach out across the ocean.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

some st. patrick's day green

Sharing a little St. Patrick's Day green for you with these photos I've taken in the past.  I love that one account indicates that St. Patrick's Day was intended for spiritual renewal and praying for missionaries.  That's what I'll be doing amongst all the green!

dew drops

leaf

purple & green

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

advanced photography :: sports, action, & wildlife

assignment : take a photo of someone or something in motion actually "stopping" the motion in your photo

jumping
our bradford pear photo shoot

This was, perhaps, my favorite class so far.  A few simple pointers had me inspired that I can get better at action photography!  Here's a few pointers that I found helpful...
  • Knowing the sport you are photographing will help you know what shots to get.
  • Anticipate what's going to happen and be there!
  • Pick a position that will give you a clean background and separates the foreground and background.
  • Follow the ball and be there with your camera.
  • Or...don't follow the ball and get a reaction shot from another player.
  • Timing is key.  If you wait until you see it, it's gone.  Pre-focus on where the action will be.
  • Try shooting with a slow shutter speed to create a bit of blur or try an unusual angle.
The above photo is Joshua jumping off of a small gate at their school.  Don't worry he landed on his feet and no body parts were harmed.  {Smile.}  There's several things I like about this photo, so I will use it as my example!  This was shot with at an aperture of f/11, shutter speed 1/200.  I could have upped the shutter, but I love how you can see the blur of his hands in motion.  The small aperture created a large depth of field which allowed me to get his face in focus as well as the tree behind him.  One key with motion photography is to show the eyes.  The eyes say so much, and I love that you can see the concentration in his eyes as he makes his jump.

I love shooting in manual, but I find with action shots, aperture priority is much easier to handle.  The best way to get better at action photography is definitely to practice, practice, practice!

Oh, and the title of the class had the word "wildlife" in it but really the only thing said about it was that you need a long lens.  I could have said that.  Every time we've gone to Kruger National Park my 200mm lens feels dinky compared to what some of those photographers have!

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