DIY Photography


Sometimes when I’m out taking pictures and I want to get my picture taken, or someone asks me if they can take a picture with me, I have to take the picture myself, which doesn’t always work. I end up cutting our heads off or they turn out really blurry…

I met a woman yesterday while we were listening to a local band, one of about six located around the festival we were at. She asked me if I could dance in the chair and the next thing I know, my calendar was booked the rest of the afternoon practically 😉 Life is GOOD!!

I took this picture MYSELF and am amazed how great it turned out. I didn’t even have to take two 😉 Hope you like it!!!

Caution: Jason’s Been Thinking


And I changed my mind about the book I’m thinking about writing. Oh, don’t worry I’m still going to write it, but I was lying in bed last night, staring at the ceiling, wishing I was on the lake and had an idea. I know, God forbid I actually get the idea when I’ve got pen and paper in hand. I’m the idiot who thinks of things in the strangest places…. it’s amazing the things I come up with sitting at the urinal taking care of business.

Get your minds out of the gutter and FOCUS!!! With all the crap I’ve been dealing with lately with my health (kidney infection, low iron and blood in my urine) and my amazing recovery, I’ve come up with a completely different title of the book and direction for the first chapter. I’ve also been inspired by a holiday Christians all over the world just celebrated, when Jesus Christ rose from the grave and came to live in the hearts of all believers.

I better stop now because if I say too much, like my last name will be part of the title, I’ll give everything away. You’re just going to have to wait and buy it at Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million or Amazon in a couple years. All I can say is wait and see!!!

Self-Confidence


Confidence can be a hard thing to come by in this day and age. We live in a culture where our worth is measured by how we look, our physical ability and by the extension of our intelligence. We judge people, not by their true selves or their true potential but by our estimate of their talents, abilities and intelligence. We base this judgement on their looks and the shape of their bodies. We even measure our own self worth by those same impossible and unrealistic standards. When we’re young we answer the question “Who am I?” by watching how others behave and react to us.

It’s no wonder, then, that we struggle with such poor self images and the resulting lack of self-esteem that confidence in ourselves is so low. We are constantly judging the person we see in the mirror by the perceptions of others and not by the truth that lies within.

There seem to be two main ways that most of us deal with our inner feelings of dislike and sometimes even disgust that we have for ourselves.

1)  We way over-compensate and present a super-confident “Everything is fine with me” image to the world.

Or,

2)  We crawl inside of ourselves trying to get through life unnoticed and, if it was possible, even invisible.

To my mind it is the latter that is the most difficult to live with because it holds us back from expressing what we know our true potential to be. Being overly aware of our physical appearance or condition we develop a fear of pushing ourselves forward, fear of ridicule and of expressing the beauty of who we are, preventing the sharing of our true selves.

“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.”-Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

This may sound obvious, but if we are ever to realize the dreams we have for our lives then all this MUST change. We must develop a new positive self image, an image that sees the person in the mirror as – worthy, talented, beautiful and able to make a worthwhile, valuable contribution in the lives of others and the world. We need to see ourselves as worthy to have the good things in life, that dream home we’ve always wanted, the expensive clothes and the friends.

The real you and the real me

If we are to realize our dreams for life, (and that includes romance) we need to see ourselves as a potential mate, attractive to and worthy of the love of another. Put bluntly we need to see ourselves as sexy.

“What is an important aspect of inner beauty? Self-acceptance.’’ ~ Dr. Lori Shemek

We need to learn how to accept ourselves; we need to stop judging the person in the mirror and start loving. You and I are acceptable just as we are. More than acceptable, in fact. You and I are perfect. Right here, right now, there is no need to change in order to fit someone else’s mold. You and I came here to this life, in the form we did for a reason. The body we are each experiencing life through was chosen as perfect for what we came here to experience. Your body is fit for purpose, perfect for the job it was chosen to do. I know, most of the time it doesn’t feel that way. Nevertheless, I believe it to be true.

To accept yourself is to love yourself. First we must practice non-judgment of ourselves, not that we shouldn’t set goals and judge our progress, of course we should. I am saying, however, that we not see ourselves as a failure if we don’t measure up to some false idea of perfection. Once we stop judging and start loving the bodies we inhabit then we can extend that new way of being/thinking to all others.

So, how can you/I change your/our self-image?

Fill your life with positive images of people who, against all odds and despite the negative advice of those who claimed to have “their best interest” at heart, still went after their dreams. Study the lives of those who, after being told by the “experts” that they did not have what it took, decided to live their dream anyway. Why? Because if they could do it, SO CAN YOU!

Deep down, deep inside yourself you know what you are capable of, you know who are. That dream you’ve had for all these years is more than possible. You can be that person, and you are that person. You would not have that dream if it was not possible for you to live it. Even if you have a disability of some kind the same principle still applies, you would not have that dream if it was not possible for you to live it. Now, if you do have a disability, not only would you have the physical difficulties to overcome but you have all those around you who constantly remind you of what they believe you can’t do. My advice is, IGNORE them!

To start building that confidence you have to not only see your dream as possible, you also need to see yourself as both capable and worthy. Imagine yourself as confident living the life of your dreams with all of your heart’s desires fulfilled. Call it meditation or daydreaming, call it whatever you like, but spend time each day deliberately feeling the emotion of joy that would naturally come from a fulfilled life. Believe/feel, for you have received.

Of course the most effective method to build confidence is to take a deep breath and head out into the world. As scary as it may be, experience is the fastest and best teacher. Yes, you will have days when your confidence will take a dent but believe in yourself. One step at a time YOU WILL GET THERE! Don’t try to do it all in one big leap. REMEMBER: One step at a time YOU WILL GET THERE! 

To quote our friend, and owner of this blog, I don’t need to use his name, do I?

“I struggled with self confidence….but thanks to the job it’s through the roof.”

Finally, and maybe I should have started with this, the reason I decided to write about self-confidence is that I have struggled with a lack of confidence my whole life. You see (this will be the first time I have shared this online) when I was born (in 1972) I was not breathing. I have spent my life having to cope with cerebral palsy. While I am able to walk, getting around is still a challenge. I would describe myself (for most of my life anyway) as the kind of person who would “crawl inside of myself trying to get through life unnoticed and if it was possible, even invisible.”

So you see I have some experience with this. I have been so self-conscious of myself, so lacking in confidence. Believe me I know how debilitating it can be, stopping the real me/you from shining through. It took me so long to decide to share about myself in this post, but I believe it’s time that I shared a) because it will help those who read this, and b) if my friend, Jason can live his life as an inspiration, so can I and so can you!

GO OUT AND LIVE YOUR DREAMS!!!

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from a great friend and guy, Jason Carl Owen. I “met” Jason on Twitter a few months ago and am always inspired by his tweets and his outlook on life. Thank you Jason for inspiring us with your story and for encouraging all of us to live our dreams!!!

Team Bring It!


Wednesday night, my sister and I went to UGA Day in Rome, one of several chances every year for fans to come listen to the University of Georgia’s head football coach Mark Richt and head basketball coach Mark Fox discuss their expectations for the upcoming season. I’ve been to UGA Day the past three years, this year and 2010 and 2011 in Marietta at the Cobb Galleria, and this was one of the best yet.

I’m going to do a longer post about the entire UGA Day experience later this summer after I go to UGA Day in Marietta, but wanted to mention something that let me know the Dawgs are for real this year, despite what the media says.

While Coach Richt, or as he’s known in Dawg Country “CMR,” was talking, he mentioned that the Missouri Tigers are one of the newest members of the SEC, and Georgia’s conference opener is against Mizzou at their place on Sept. 8. CMR seemed to be really pumped about this year’s squad, despite the suspensions and players leaving to pursue more playing time, and he said something like, “When we play Missouri, all I know is we’re gonna bring it and try to welcome the Tigers to the SEC.”

Welcome to the SEC boys!!!

By the way, while I was mingling, taking pictures before the festivities kicked off, one thing I noticed is the SEC has BY FAR the most beautiful women in the country. Don’t believe me, maybe this picture will change your mind 😉

Re-Post: God, Autism and Acceptance


In celebration of National Autism Awareness Month this April, I’m honored to be able to re-publish this amazing post by Chelsea Budde, an amazing mother and friend I met several months ago on Twitter. I hope you enjoy it.

Even before my firstborn was diagnosed with autism in 2002, I knew he was unlike toddlers his own age. His differences were never embarrassing or heartbreaking to me, but were certainly challenging and confounding. I just wanted to know what was “wrong” with him so I could “fix” it. Oh, the naïveté of a new mother – the overconfidence in my abilities and my underappreciation for God’s sovereignty.

While my five-year-old son was in the throes of intensive in-home behavior therapy, my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter was exhibiting some symptoms that caused the supervising clinical psychologist to ask, “When are we going to do an evaluation on her?”. Since my husband and I had spent half of her young life wondering what disorder we could attribute her developmental differences to, there was a certain relief when I realized her behaviors also were consistent with an autism spectrum disorder.

“I know how to do autism,” I thought to myself triumphantly.

But what was I really doing? The vast ocean of theories and speculations dotted with research and anecdotes regarding autism was waxing by the second, and every wave crashed on the shore with unsolicited advice. A mother could feel as if she were drowning.

Thankfully, a crisis of health prevented a crisis of faith. While my husband and I are devout Christians, we had lost sight of God’s goodness throughout the journey. We were so busy attempting to determine what was best for our children that we managed to miss the whisperings of God through the storms of our kids’ lives.

And this was shaping up to be quite a storm. After spending the better part of a Friday between a hospital emergency room and the pediatrician’s office because my son had abruptly lost his ability to walk, we were admitted to our local Children’s Hospital. Our son lay in a hospital bed with what was believed to be Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a sometimes-fatal auto-immune response. As I was packing a weekend bag, pleading with God to heal our son and give us the strength we needed to get through another diagnosis, He communicated to me that our children would go through some trials in this life. Yet my job was to be concerned not about their health or their happiness, but their holiness.

Somehow, this released me from the self-imposed burden of having to “fix” my children. After all, weren’t they made this way by their Creator? And wasn’t He able to prevent harm and cause cure if He wished? And did He not promise both me and my children that He would never leave or forsake us? I was free to accept them just the way they were, shifting my energy from trying to craft who they would become to demonstrating His great love for them.

This move toward acceptance found its way into my professional life as well. After spending seven years as a stay-at-home mom, another mother of a child with autism suggested to me that we make a film teaching elementary school students about autism and how they could be good friends. In a matter of months, we were on our way to incorporating a nonprofit organization, researching and developing curriculum, and producing our first video. First, we focused on creating autism awareness, teaching acceptance of differences and fostering empathy for students with autism in elementary school. Last year, we started taking steps to modify the message for middle school audiences.

Along the way, we’ve met dozens of families with children with autism. We’ve noticed that the families most cooperative with what we’re trying to accomplish are those who’ve accepted their children in the context of their diagnosis. Whether their faith played a role in that acceptance is beyond the scope of our interactions. But it is clear that children raised in a culture of acceptance are more likely to enjoy their peers’ acceptance.

So I urge all parents of children, whether those children are young or grown, to trust in God’s goodness and accept His creations just as they are. You will find the blessings He intended when you see them with His eyes. And as they sense your acceptance of them, they will be more understanding of His plan for them – and so will you.

About Chelsea Budde

Chelsea Budde has lived in Waukesha, Wis., since 2001 with her husband and their two children, ages 13 and 10.  She graduated from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., in 1995 with a B.A., and worked in public relations for several years before leaving to care for her family.

Her son’s and daughter’s special needs have kept her engaged in the community as an advocate and a resource for other parents and professionals.

“Parenting children with autism, mood issues and medical challenges is nothing I would have hoped for, but has turned out to be greatest blessing of my life,” she says.  Her faith in and reliance upon God have sustained her these years, as have the prayers and support of her many friends and family, both in southeast Wisconsin and throughout the country.

As president and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Good Friend, Inc., Chelsea has delivered Good Friend’s autism awareness-acceptance-empathy® message to more than 15,000 people since 2007, including through presentations at six major conferences.  The script she wrote for Good Friend’s “Choosing To Be a GFF [Good Friend Forever]” middle school film contributed to its earning the 2011 Autism Society Media Excellence in Video, Print or News Award, and being named a 2012 ALSC Children’s Notable Video by the American Library Association.

He is RISEN!!!


Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Jelly Bean Prayer


Have you heard the story of the jelly beans?
 
The black ones are a symbol of our sinful heart, cold and hard, not a good start.
 
The red ones would be the blood shed for you and me.
 
The white ones would mean washed white as snow, by the blood of Jesus do you know?
 
The green ones mean growth for our clean heart, so we can tell others of Jesus, now that’s a good start.
 
The yellow ones would mean streets of gold, like the ones in Heaven, as in the book of Revelation are told.
 
The purple ones are to mean like the robe He wore, when our sins on the cross He bore.
 
So the next time you see a bag of jelly beans, you will know what the colors mean.
 
– Another Version –
 
Red is for the blood He gave.
Green is for the grass He made.
Yellow is for the sun so bright.
Orange is for the edge of night.
Black is for the sins we made.
White is for the grace He gave.
Purple is for His hour of sorrow.
Pink is for our new tomorrow.
 
A bag full of jelly beans colorful and sweet,
Is a prayer,
is a promise,
is a very special treat.
 
— Authors Unknown

The Empty Egg


Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.
 
One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students.”
 
Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.” Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness.  But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?
 
As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.
 
“I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’ face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-why that’s very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat.”
 
Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”
 
“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically-all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.
 
That evening, Doris’ kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.
 
The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arm. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine.” Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, “My daddy helped me,” he beamed.
 
Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty.  Surely it must be Jeremy’s she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.”
 
Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up.”
 
The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.
 
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.
 
Happy Easter!
 
— Author Unknown

Do You Believe in Easter?


Edith Burns was a wonderful Christian who lived in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of doctor by the name of Will Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gentle doctor who saw patients as people.
 
His favorite patient was Edith Burns. One morning he went to his office with a heavy heart and it was because of Edith Burns. When he walked into that waiting room, there sat Edith with her big black Bible in her lap earnestly talking to a young mother sitting beside her.
 
Edith Burns had a habit of introducing herself in this way: “Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?” Then she would explain the meaning of Easter, and many times people would be saved.
 
Dr. Phillips walked into that office and there he saw the head nurse, Beverly. Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure. Edith began by saying, “My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?”
 
Beverly said, “Why yes I do.” Edith said, “Well, what do you believe about Easter?”  Beverly said, “Well, it’s all about egg hunts, going to church, and dressing up.” Edith kept pressing her about the real meaning of Easter, and finally led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
 
Dr. Phillips said, “Beverly, don’t call Edith into the office quite yet. I believe there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room.”
 
After being called back in the doctor’s office, Edith sat down and when she took a look at the doctor she said, “Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?”
 
Dr. Phillips said gently, “Edith, I’m the doctor and you’re the patient.”
 
With a heavy heart he said, “Your lab report came back and it says you have cancer, and Edith, you’re not going to live very long.”
 
Edith said, “Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I’m going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just  told me that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having difficulty giving me my ticket!”
 
Dr. Phillips thought to himself, “What a magnificent woman this Edith Burns is!”
 
Edith continued coming to Dr. Phillips. Christmas came and the office was closed through January 3. On the day the office opened, Edith did not show up. Later that afternoon, Edith called Dr. Phillips and said she would have to be moving her story to the hospital and said, “Will, I’m very near home, so would you make sure that they put women in here next to me in my room who need to know about Easter.”
 
Well, they did just that and women began to come in and share that room with Edith.  Many women were saved. Everybody on that floor from staff to patients were so excited about Edith, that they started calling her Edith Easter; that is everyone except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse.
 
Phyllis made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Edith because she was a “religious nut.” She had been a nurse in an army hospital. She had seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had been married three times, she was hard, cold and did everything by the book.
 
One morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick. Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross had to go in and give her a shot. When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face and said, “Phyllis, God loves you and I love you, and I have been praying for you.”
 
Phyllis Cross said, “Well, you can quit praying for me, it won’t work. I’m not interested.”   Edith said, “Well, I will pray and I have asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family.”
 
Phyllis Cross said, “Then you will never die because that will never happen,” and curtly walked out of the room.
 
Every day Phyllis Cross would walk into the room and Edith would say, “God loves you Phyllis and I love you, and I’m praying for you.” One day Phyllis Cross said she was literally drawn to Edith’s room like a magnet would draw iron. She sat down on the bed and Edith said, “I’m so glad you have come, because God told me that today is your special day.”
 
Phyllis Cross said, “Edith, you have asked everybody here the question, ‘Do you believe in Easter?’ but you have never asked me.” Edith said, “Phyllis, I wanted to many times, but God told me to wait until you asked, and now that you have asked…”
 
Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edith said, “Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?” Phyllis Cross said, “Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life.” Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and invited Jesus Christ into her  heart. For the first time Phyllis Cross did not walk out of a hospital room, she was carried out on the wings of angels.
 
Two days later, Phyllis Cross came in and Edith said, “Do you know what day it is?” Phyllis Cross said, “Why Edith, it’s Good Friday.” Edith said, “Oh, no, for you every day is Easter.  Happy Easter Phyllis!”
 
Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Phyllis Cross came into work, did some of her duties and then went down to the flower shop and got some Easter lilies because she wanted to go up to see Edith and give her some Easter lilies and wish her a Happy Easter. When she walked into Edith’s room, Edith was in bed. That big black Bible was on her lap. Her hands were in that Bible. There was a sweet smile on her face.
 
When Phyllis Cross went to pick up Edith’s hand, she realized Edith was dead.
 
Her left hand was on John 14: “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself,  that where I am, there you may be also.” Her right hand was on Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Phyllis Cross took one look at that dead body, and then lifted her face toward heaven, and with tears streaming down here cheeks, said, “Happy Easter, Edith – Happy Easter!”
 
Phyllis Cross left Edith’s body, walked out of the room, and over to a table where two student nurses were sitting. She said, “My name is Phyllis Cross. Do you believe in Easter?”
 
— Author Unknown