25 December 2010

Merry Christmas Island Style!

We got to enjoy this island special last week and I thought it would be fun to share with you today. The video isn't the best. It was really low lights and I'm new at filming on my photography camera.

Merry Christmas to all! May Christ indeed bring JOY to you this day and New Year.

14 November 2010

5 Months Later

It's hard to believe tomorrow we are at the 5 month "mile marker" of our time back in the U.S. Most of the time it just feels longer than that. I know things have been incredibly quiet around here so I figured it was time for a recap of the past 6 weeks or so. Here are the highlights in no particular order:

-- Mark's been workin' like a beast researching, reading, writing, revising. Progress is slower than anticipated, but to Mark's credit, he's been both writing the 6th and final chapter while also editing and polishing several previous chapters.

-- My photography business has finally taken off. It's all those families looking for Christmas photos/presents. Best place to see some of that work is here.

-- I've also been working a temp job off and on as needed at Baptist Press (BP). It started with me working as the fill-in Event Coordinator for the 2010 Collegiate Journalism Conference in early October that BP puts on every year. The Event Planner was due with her firstborn the day after the conference ended, so they brought me in as a "just in case" person hoping she would still be able to work. There was another BP staff member who was going to still take charge and help me along. But then the Event Planner had her baby 2 days before the conference started and the other staff's grandfather passed away 3 days before the event, so she was out for most of the conference at the out of town funeral. That left ME in charge of a conference hosting around 15 universities from around the nation, including 80+ college students and 30+ faculty/staff/speakers! But, the Lord gave me strength through the long days (two of them being 14 hour days!), as well as wisdom to learn quickly and manage situations well. All in all it went smoothly and I was grateful for the opportunity to work and make money. As a bonus, I got to rub shoulders with some great Christian photographers and journalists. It was personally a very inspiring weekend.

-- Mark's been enjoying the blessing of being able to watch SEC football every Saturday again, and in particular, his Bulldogs. Too bad they haven't had as strong of a season as he first hoped.

-- Fall in TN has been everything I hoped it would be -- colorful and warm. I am still not ready for winter! Go here and here to see more TN fall goodness!

-- The last day of Sept we took a quick trip up to Louisville, KY for Mark to do some research at Southern Seminary. My cousin and his family live there (and he's a student at Southern), so it was fun to see them again after 6 years! I went with my cousin's wife and 3 kiddos (see the two oldest below) to the Louisville Zoo where they have a membership. I could have spent all day there with my camera :)

-- Mark's taken up running since we've been back. He's enjoyed talking to my dad about all things running. Currently, though, Mark's laying low to let his leg injury (shin splints? stress fracture?) heal up.

-- Speaking of running, in mid-Oct. we got to see my dad run in a half marathon. It think it was his 4th, but he ran the first 3 when we were in Scotland.  He did a great job and we enjoyed the chance to cheer him on. He's currently training for a marathon in about a month, though has also had a couple of injuries this month that are hindering his training. We're all praying his body can heal enough to still run it.

(My dad is in the blue shirt with black cap.)

-- The past couple of weeks I've spent more time at Baptist Press filling in for the lady who posts the daily stories/photos on the Baptist Press website. It has been a crash course in some parts of journalism and working in a "press room" (though a very, very quiet one!).  I feel like it's been a valuable experience for me as a photographer. You just never know when I might need some of the experience I've gained.

-- In early Sept. Mark started co-teaching a new Sunday School class for singles. We've both enjoyed the opportunity to serve and reach out to other young adults in our church. Mark's also been teaching a discipleship class on Sunday night on how to study the Bible. He's done an excellent job teaching in both classes and I've taken much pleasure in seeing him do what I know God has gifted him to do.

-- We are still being daily barked into shape by the spoiled prince of the house, Yafo. We love him dearly, but he's very needy - some might even say co-dependent. Especially this week since the fleas were feasting on his poor body. Thankfully a little pill and much cleaning later and he's doing better.

How can I say no to this little face?!

-- Mark's eagerly anticipating a few days at the yearly Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) conference next week in Atlanta. It's so wonderful that we are so close this year!

-- We are looking forward to our two week trip to see Mark's family in just one month! Vacation is calling our name so the official countdown is on!

Thanks for stopping by again despite my irregularity of posting.

21 October 2010

I'm Published!

It seems only appropriate that for my 301st post (since I didn't realize when I posted Mark's b-day post 2 weeks ago (!) that it was my 300th post we missed that celebration - but we'll do it now), that I share with you the very happy news that I am published! It was here on this blog that I first started my photographic journey and you all encouraged me on to keep pursuing this form of creativity. So thank you.

My first published work is in The University of Aberdeen's new Chinese prospectus!
(link is on the right of the page)

 Love this shield!

 Here it is!

Credit given in English in the back of the booklet.

And credit in Chinese (I think the "9" means my photo is on page 9.)

My former colleague in Student Recruitment and Admissions who is the International Officer for China (meaning her "market" includes China) asked me to go with her to the on-campus Chinese New Year celebration this past February to take photos so that she could use some of them for this publication as well as on-line. It's fun to see this project come to fruition.

Let's hope there'll be more in the years to come :)

05 October 2010

Happy 35th Birthday, Mark!

Just a quick shout out to my hubby who is celebrating his 35th year of life today!  I'm so blessed to get to journey through this life together with him.

Love you, Mark!

25 September 2010


In the time that I have been pursuing photography, I have printed out very few of my photos. Partially due to cost, partially due to knowing I'd just have to move them.

So this birthday I thought I'd splurge a little and took some birthday money from my generous mother-in-law (thanks Darlene!) and purchased one of my favorite Scotland photos on canvas board. I really want to go all out and get a larger size, but I decided on 11x16 because it is small enough to move around until the day we finally settle and it didn't require any cropping.

Remember this day?

I went back and forth about which print to have made, but finally settled on this one (though, this photo hardly does it justice!):

Can I just say I'm in love!!

It looks just like a painting (if you click on the picture, you can see the canvas detail) and makes me smile every time I see it. We just need to get it matted, framed, and then hung one of these days. I love the vibrant colors and reminder of dear Dunnottar and the memories of spending time there with Mark and others who came to visit.

I also got a print of this dahlia I took in front of the house this summer and framed it.  I was planning to sell it but am pretty much in love with this one too so might have to keep it for myself :)

It has truly been satisfying to finally see some of my work printed in a way that I envisioned as I took the photos.  I look forward to seeing more printed!

08 September 2010

Wedding Photos

For those of you who want to see 376 worth of wedding photos that I took in July, click on the photo below and it should take you to see the gallery. You can then use the arrow keys to scroll through. Or, close the pop up window and start from the beginning and watch the slideshow. All are good options if you have time :) However, for those of you wanting just one more photo, the below was one of my top favorites for artistic/photojournalistic quality. Not sure exactly what it is, but I love it!

I should make one disclaimer and give credit to my second shooter, Bob Yang. Bob knew the bride from church and was an excellent help that day. I so appreciate his willingness to photograph with me! You will see some of his lovely photos too, though, I'd like to think you won't necessarily know which ones.

02 September 2010

Three Years Later....

***Sorry to those of you got this on Thursday via email or in your reader blog feeds. I was typing it out as my first draft but accidentally hit "publish" instead of "save draft." So while I realized my mistake right away, it was too late. Blogger had already dispersed said new post. Anyways, here it is again with a few updates - today, on the actual anniversary of our departure.

My sheer lack of blogging in the past couple of months is not just your imagination. Google Chrome (my wonderful internet browser - you really should switch) is also picking up on this phenomenon. Blogger used to be my 3rd or 4th on my most used websites tabs. Now it is 6th. To those of you still reading, I am sorry. I just haven't had it in me to blog.

But that's not really why I'm writing this post. I'm writing this post to say it was three years ago today that we (or at least me) said our tearful goodbyes to my parents at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and boarded a plane headed for Aberdeen via Chicago via Manchester before landing on Sept. 5th.

Oh, the memories.

I feel that our lack of internet in our home for the first 2.5 or 3 months of our time in Aberdeen means that there are so many things I never got to record. Like I'm not sure that I ever shared that I actually lost my trans-Atlantic boarding pass in the O'Hare Airport. Imagine with me the sheer terror of being psyched up for this flight for months and months and then realizing it might not be happening. After a couple minutes of frantic searching Mark jogged from our gate (where the discovery took place) back to the security checkpoint (the last place I knew I had the ticket). Thankfully we had plenty of time for all of this to transpire, thankfully I didn't discover as we were about to board, and thankfully some honest and helpful citizen found my ticket around the security checkpoint area and turned it in where Mark reclaimed it. Whew. Crisis adverted. This was just a small reminder that God was looking out for us, each step of the way.

I still vividly remember arriving at the small Aberdeen airport with clouds drizzling some rain. I remember being ecstatic that all 4 pieces of our luggage had arrived. I remember taking it all in as we tried to maneuver our luggage carts to the taxi queue where they had to bring a 5 passenger mini-van-type vehicle to the front of the ranks so we and our luggage could all fit. I remember the taxi driver  being kind enough to let us question him about this or that regarding the city. I think he actually kind of relished it and took us down particular streets so he could show us various things as we drove to the Duthie Park area of town to stay with another student family for the first 2 nights. I'm also pretty sure that Aberdeen introduced us on that trip with its usual antics of drizzle, sun, rain, sun, drizzle, etc.  I remember I was cold!!! There are so many more things I remember from our first few hours and days in Aberdeen, but I will spare you.

So transition to three years later. We now have 2 years, 9 months and 9 days of living in the UK under our belt and have survived around 2 and a half months of re-entry to the US. We have learned a ton about life, life in the UK, life in the US and about ourselves. We changed, we've grown, we've grown up. We've made some great American friends with whom we will always have a deep common bond from having lived together in Aberdeen. And we've also made new British friends that we learned a lot from. And we most definitely learned more about our mighty and awesome God. Most notably, I personally was reminded a multitude of times that I have an incredibly faithful God.

And that is where I find myself today. With more questions than answers, with uncertainties and at times discouragement - but also with hope - hope in the faithfulness of God. I am reminded most of all that we had very few answers when we headed to Aberdeen. We knew only where we were staying for the first 6 nights of our time there, we had no flat lined up, no certainty that I could find all the foods I needed for my diet, no phones, no friends (except two guys Mark had had some email communication with), no church, no jobs, no car, only a few possessions, and very little know-how regarding navigating in a foreign city.

And yet (or another way Scripture often puts it that I love, "BUT GOD") there was our faithful God giving to us each day as we needed. Perhaps some looked at us and said we were crazy and foolish. Some days I looked at us and wondered if we were crazy and foolish. But God. He delights in blessing those who "foolishly" and whole-heartedly follow after Him. He delights in showing Himself faithful to those who trust (at times without having answers to the whole picture) and obey (to whatever it is He asks even when it at times can seem "foolish").

So in the midst of more uncertainty I'm trying to cling again to my faithful God in areas where I could tell you this or that isn't how I want it to be, or this doesn't seem to be going like I wanted, or that isn't what I expected, but I'd rather tell you how I am hoping (albeit weak at times) in the faithfulness of God. I'm clinging to the But God mentality and can't wait to see what is going to happen on the other side! I am excited to see how God will show Himself faithful yet again so He will receive the praise He deserves!

And that's where I am three years later....

17 August 2010

The Ups and Downs

The past couple weeks of life have been full of highs and lows. One of the highs this past weekend was finally meeting several other people our age. We also agreed to co-teach/lead a new singles ministry for 25-35 year olds in our church. Mark's excited about the chance to teach again and we are both excited about the opportunity to serve together in our new church.

But last night we also had a low point of our time here. One of the active youth in the church committed suicide. And while Mark and I didn't know him we had seen him and definitely recognized his picture when my mom showed it to us. The church family is reeling from this tragedy and seeking to serve both the young man's family and other youth/youth workers. I'd ask for specific prayer for my dad as he leads the staff and as they all lead the church to grieve well and still give God glory. It's been amazing to recently see God at work in the hearts of many in the congregation. We pray that this will serve to further God's work and not hinder it.

Tonight there is a counseling time for parents and youth, and others will be meeting to pray. Wednesday night there will be more times of counseling for the youth, Thursday evening is the visitation and the funeral service is on Friday morning.

Thanks for your prayers....

27 July 2010

Thoughts on Being Back

I was going to post this for our one month/4 week "anniversary" but life was busy and I couldn't quite get my thoughts together. But I think this 6 week update will suffice better anyways.

So after 6 weeks of being back in the U.S. I'm still hesitant when I cross the street because I am unsure which way traffic will be approaching me. I almost always still want to look right-left-right, instead of left-right-left. Thankfully my driving doesn't seem to have suffered too much except for the one minor "freak out" moment I had last week when I pulled onto a 2 lane road where there was no traffic. As I pulled out I thought I was going to the wrong side of the road, but turns out I was headed to the right side which in this country is the right side to be on, so it was all okay. Just a mere .5 second adrenaline rush. I'm glad that doesn't happen too often.
I have discovered I miss my local Scottish grocery store, Sainsbury's, way more than I thought I would. I mean, I knew I was going to miss my granola cereal from there, my Frutis granola bars (though, brought some with me and am just now down to my last 3), and my oatcakes (I have still had those too - just down to my last two packets now. Sad!), and we knew Mark would miss his Milk Chocolate Digestive biscuits, but I was unprepared to miss the produce section (especially £1.50 amazing pineapple or £1 for 8 kiwi) or dried fruit and nut section. I am slowly figuring out where I can get the best selection of those items without paying an arm and a leg. Still, I obviously got more used to it than I realized and have walked out of a grocery store dejected more than once.

Just like when you go to a new country for the first time and are more aware of everything around you, I have had that on some level here too. One thing I have really noticed this time being here is the prevalence of obesity. I mean, I have heard repeatedly that obesity is endemic in the U.S. but never noticed it like I have recently. It's not that there aren't overweight people in Scotland, because there are. I just knew or saw much fewer obese people. Its actually quite disturbing to realize how many people here are eating themselves to the grave.

Most other changes I've noticed have been of the imperceptible kind - like I know they are there, I know I am different, I know I think differently than a typical American (or even American believer) but can't quite pinpoint why. Every now and then someone will say something or do something that before moving to Scotland I would have dismissed or not noticed, but now I notice it, think about it and more than likely disagree or find it not quite how I would see things. Maybe at some point I will be able to put into words what those things are exactly. Or maybe not.
I think more than ever before I am now faced with the desire to live "the American Dream." It's more than slightly depressing to be nearly 32 (and 35, if I can speak for Mark too) and have no home to call our own (and living with mom/dad (though we are no doubt incredibly grateful to be here!), no jobs (though I'm working hard on creating a photography one and Mark is definitely still working hard on his thesis), no children, and no "real security" (from a worldly, financial standpoint, that is) to speak of. However, in the midst of struggling through some of these thoughts I saw my dad reading "Radical" by David Platt. He's actually challenging the entire church to read the book so Mark and I have both started reading it.

If you haven't gotten your hands on a copy yet, you need to ASAP! It is phenomenal. Or maybe I should say phenomenally challenging. Reading the book has been a refreshing reminder of why we don't have so many of the things I want right now. A reminder of why we have sacrificed so much for Mark to follow what he believes (and I support) God wants him to do with his life. It's all been for God, Jesus, the Gospel -- they are all undoubtedly worth every last sacrifice and anything that we don't have that I am desiring. I've been exhorted that I indeed have been given much! I have been given the thing I need MOST in this life - a Savior and forgiveness of my sins. And also other needs and wants abundantly provided for. Speaking of which, I've been humbled by how God has provided for us during this transition time. Money has come from some unexpected sources and God is most certainly providing for our needs.  Anyways, I'm sure at some point you'll be hearing more on this book....until then, go read it!

So that's my lengthy and unrelated thoughts on life back in the good 'ole U.S. of A. Thanks to those of you who made it this far!

***Some of these flag photos I took on or around the 4th of July (which really did deserve it's own post) but just never got around to posting. The rest are from my trip to Philly. Oh, and the first one was to record the little note and flags my mom left on our bedside table the very late night we returned "home." It was a very happy sight! Thanks, Mom!

23 July 2010

Crisps and Chips

While we were in the UK we were continually amazed by the flavors of their "crisps." Take for instance, this bag I found discarded on a sidewalk the month before we left: "Argentinean Flame Grilled Steak."
Not sure why it has to be "Argentinean" and how that taste differs to a NY Steak Strip in chip flavors, but it must. Mark's personal fav was the below somewhat healthier option "Sun Ripened Sweet Chilli" (yes, they spell Chili differently).

These are just the beginning of exotic chip flavors. According to Wiki here are Walker's current flavors with corresponding pack colors:

Current flavours and packet colours

  • BBQ Rib (Black)
  • Cheddar Cheese (Yellow)
  • Cheddar Cheese & Bacon (Light Orange)
  • Cheese & Onion (Blue)
  • Jamaican Jerk Chicken (Light Yellow & Green)
  • Lamb and Mint (Dark Green)
  • ManGo-Karting Chutney (Light Brown with Orange)
  • Pickled Onion (Lime Green)
  • Ploughman's (Dark Green)[7]
  • Prawn Cocktail (Pink)
  • Ready Salted (Red)
  • Roast Beef and Horseradish (Dark Gold)
  • Roast Chicken (Orange)
  • Roast Gammon (Dark Pink)[7]
  • Salt & Vinegar (Green)
  • Smoky Bacon (Maroon)
  • Sour Cream and Chive (Cream)
  • Steak & Onion (Brown)
  • Sweet Cumberland Sausage (Dark Gold)[7]
  • Thai Sweet Chicken (Turquoise)
  • Tomato Ketchup (Dark Green and Red)
  • Worcester Sauce (Purple)

Walker's is once again running its "Do Us a Flavour" campaign where the public submits ideas and the company makes them on a limited edition basis - go see for yourself (look under "choose a flavour"). There are some scary flavors there.

Anyhoo, we always thought interesting chip flavors were just a UK thing. Imagine my shock when I was in Target yesterday and saw what I think I remember to be Doritos All Nighter Cheeseburger.  Just not sure how I feel about meals being marked on a chip. It's just, well, wrong. Not that I eat them anyways. I'm just sayin'. 

19 July 2010

Philadelphia Recap

Thought I'd give you a quick Philadelphia recap in photos (what else would you expect by now?). My watermark accidentally ended up on some of these and I don't want to reimport them so I hope you don't mind!

While in Philly I stayed with my long-time friend, Lisa. We have been friends since 8th grade. It was great to see her again and catch up. We saw each other last year when she came to visit us in Aberdeen, but a lot has change since then -- she is now married! I was so sad that I had to miss their wedding in March so it was so fun seeing the pictures from the wedding and watching the video, and in general hearing wedding stories (like the horror one of having to buy a new wedding dress 2 weeks before the wedding). 

On Thursday Lisa and I went to the National Constitution Center. Her husband, Micah, knows someone who works there who was able to get us free tickets (a $20 value including the Ancient Rome & America exhibit) It was a great center and they gave a fabulous presentation about "We the People." Just a fun factoid - the constitution was signed on my birthday - a few years prior :)

They had a hall with statues of all the signers of the constitution. It was actually kinda freaky. I kept thinking they were real people. 

We both got to sign the visitors book that was in the form of how the constitution is. Yes! That's me - in a sleeveless shirt with shorts (I know, you've probably never seen that on this blog - forgive the whiteness). Y'all - it.was.hot! Actually, this day it had cooled down to about 93F instead of being 102F from the previous day! Lisa and Micah don't have central air in their flat (I kept calling it that - too hard to say apartment. Flat is soooo much easier!) and their little room units couldn't keep up so it was about 87F in their place on Wed.  Anyways, we were all thankful for the cool-down on Thursday and afterwards.

I loved how all the flags were hanging in the center of the center :)

And I was rather proud that I was able to find the Tennessee flag without looking at the name plate. 

A view of Independence Mall in Philly

I got to briefly stop by Love Park before heading to see my friend Becky. I had fun hanging out with her family, taking their photos and eating a delicious Rachel-friendly dinner.

After a very long day on Saturday of photographing the wedding Lisa picked me up from the reception. She asked if I was up for seeing Boathouse Row all lit up. Their place isn't far from it so I said sure. It made for some wonderful photos.

As we got out of the car to head in for the night I saw this serene little image. The photo hardly does it justice, but it was just a quaint view and one reason I love Philly. It was nice to be in a city and not see granite :)

15 July 2010


Here's proof that Dad and Mark did indeed catch fish as large as they said they did!

Impressive, huh?!

12 July 2010

Never Say Never

It's hard to know where to even start. I wanted to post something this past week and it just never happened. There are multiple things I could post about, but perhaps I'll focus on the one main one. The thing I said I'd never do. And yet did. Yesterday.

I photographed a wedding.

And guess what?! I loved it! It was an amazing day and I still can't believe how much fun I had! And how relaxed I felt. (Thanks for your prayers!)

The past 6 months or so I've been following various wedding photographers' blogs to be inspired and to learn from their work. Over and over I have read the photographers describe what an absolute joy and privilege it is to be with a bride and groom on their wedding day. Yesterday, in the midst of various moments both happy and mundane, I had the same feelings that I had been reading about for months. I felt incredibly honored to have been asked to be the photographer - the one to share such intimate moments with the couple and family throughout the day. A day that none of them will forget. Nor will I.  A bride and groom have great faith in their photographer. The weight of that did not escape me in the months and days leading up to The Big Day, nor did it when the day actually arrived. Their faith in me both inspired me and humbled me.

As I started getting more and more involved and passionate about photography in the past 12-18 months I was asked repeatedly if I would do wedding photography. At times people assumed that would be the next step for me. I vividly remember telling multiple people I would not do wedding photography. Too much pressure. Too many chances for failure.

Never say never.

The funny thing is that when I was first asked to photograph this wedding I rather quickly in my head and heart knew that I didn't want to do it, especially based on my previous assessment of what I thought wedding photography was all about. I agonized deeply over the decision, asked for multiple people's opinions, and prayed often for wisdom about making the right decision. At the end of those two weeks my outlook had changed and it seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up, but I also knew what I needed to do prepare in various ways so that I could be the photographer I wanted to be on that day. Since that time I've worked diligently to be ready.

Over and over the past few days I knew I had made the right decision. Everything just felt right. Sarah and Matt (the bride and groom) were wonderful to work with, as was the family. And despite the pouring rain and ominous clouds (at least 1/3 of the skyscrapers in Philly were covered with dark, thick clouds as Sarah's dad drove me to their house around 10:45am), God heard my pleas for some sun and kept my heart at rest (I was dying for some of that beautiful natural light to help me make better photos). It was still raining when we arrived at the church a little after 1pm.

But, my friends, miraculously (literally) it began to clear!! By the wedding's start at 3pm the sun was streaming in the large side windows. Throw in some outstanding music provided by stellar musicians, a radiant bride walking down the aisle to bagpipe music (I wish you could have heard it! It was perfect and I was nearly in tears looking through the viewfinder!), and a convicting wedding sermon and it was a recipe for the best first wedding I could have had.

God is good. And I haven't stopped praising Him since.