For those of you who know me, you can attest to the fact that I’m a dreamer!  I have a huge imagination and find a lot of joy in thinking up different things to do/places to go.  Dreams are a big part of my life, they always have been.  The first 8 years of my marriage were spent making our dreams reality and we carved out a very fulfilling and wonderful life together.  Last October, we had to let go of our life down in Sacramento, we had to let go of our plans we had made, and we had to move up here to Chico to start anew.  I’ve never had a dream this big crushed before and it was devastating to me, to all of us really.  I was so angry with God for taking us away from our happy life.  We had just started going back to church several months prior to having to leave.  We had developed deep, soul level connections with many people in the church and we were lost in confusion as to why God would lead us there only to rip us apart such a short time after.  I guess He saw that we were ready to hear His truth for our lives.  We didn’t belong in Sacramento, we belong up here in Chico with family.  We need to be here for some reason, and we trust it’s a pretty big one.  He’s changed me this past 8 months.  I’ve never depended on Him for comfort, grace, peace and happiness before now.  I’ve never felt the desire or need to seek His counsel and want to live FOR Him.  I’m finally focusing on me and who He made me to be.  I’m searching for His will for my life and have been extra-extra cautious with each step forward.  I don’t want to get hurt again.  I don’t want to have a dream ripped away again.  I still feel lost in my path of Photography.  From day to day it seems as though my confidence is shaken and I question if it’s His will and part of His plan for my life, or if it’s just another self-serving-in-the-moment hobby.  Photography is the only place in my life I still experience fear on a daily basis, but it’s also the only place I experience pure joy and happiness.  I’m afraid to believe in the hope that it’s a viable future for me and my family and don’t know which way to go or where to start.

A few months ago, during a roll in blog-hopping from one photo blog to another, trying to find inspiration and direction, I came across a blog that stopped me dead in my tracks called For the Love.  They had JUST uploaded a video that showed a quick recap from their very first spiritual retreat/photography workshop and I was sobbing from the truth it spoke to my heart.  The video was an answer to a silent prayer I had been saying for months.  The creator of For the Love Workshop had put together a spiritual retreat/photography workshop where a group of Christian photographers came together in worship, prayer, community and classes.  I watched it over and over again, shared it with family and a few friends – crying each and every time I saw it.  There weren’t any details at that time indicating any future retreats but I knew in my heart I had to do whatever it took to go to the next one.  Having the opportunity to spend a week with God, seeking his counsel and guidance for my life as a photographer/mother/wife/daughter re-lit the fire of hope in me.  I am so distracted in the day to day noise that it’s virtually impossible for me to hear His voice answering my pleas to hear Him.  I’ve never been this deep in faith before, and it’s still just skimming the surface.  I’ve never wanted to go to spiritual retreats – they never seemed like the thing for me.  Watching the video and reading the testimonies from For the Love Workshop has stirred up this strong desire and need to go.  I’m torn between my logical and practical side saying it’s not the right time in my life and it’s selfish of me to want to spend the money and time to go to this, but there’s also the inexplicable feeling of need for me to go.  It doesn’t FEEL like a frivolous/selfish goal, it really feels like a need.  I need to go to this workshop/retreat in order to reach the next step in my spirituality, to regain my confidence in my ability to be a professional photographer, to meet others in God to relate and become friends with.  When I found out that they’re having the next For the Love Workshop in Oregon, a 6 hour drive north, I started getting excited at the realization that it is possible for me to go since I originally thought they’d have it in Tennessee where the first one was!  Since discovering For the Love Workshop, I’ve said to myself and everyone around me – if it’s supposed to happen, it will happen!     I pray and hope that this will happen. 

If you want to know more (or have a good cry too), check out the blog and videos:  http://vimeo.com/1036325 & http://www.fortheloveworkshop.com/blog/ (for testimonials on the last workshop),  http://www.fortheloveworkshop.com/index2.php (to view all the pics from the last workshop)

The first weekend in May I made my way up to McCloud, CA  to attend a quilting retreat my mom puts together.  I brought up the portable booth to snag pics of all the crazy quilters and their quilts.  They didn’t disappoint – they all let their guards down and had some fun!  This was the most fun I’ve ever had at a retreat.  Everyone goes up with their friends or family and I’m usually off by myself with my music.  Taking all the pictures gave me a unique opportunity to really get to know everyone and spend some time making new friends.  I can’t wait for the next retreat!!!

This is a Mother-Daughter quilting team.  The Daughter pieces and the Mom quilts them.  These fabric pieces are for a sock monkey themed baby blanket.  We thought it was fitting to hang the strips from the rack as vines.  The Mom started really getting into her role!

Here we’ve got 3 “sisters” in spirit.  They sure fooled me they weren’t blood related!  These ladies were a hoot! 

Another fun pair of kindred spirits. 

My mom  on the left and her BFF that accompanies her to most events within driving distance.  Looks like Beth just got caught doing something!

Being a mom has brought to the surface countless responsibilities and experiences to my life.  Each day seems to be harder and easier at the same time.    As Chloe gets older and really starts experiencing stuff, I find myself suddenly remembering doing and saying the same things when I was her age.  It’s funny (and humbling too) to see elements of yourself in your child.  For me, I was a tomboy.  Was always out playing with the boys and getting my hands dirty.  I was facinated with snails.  I loved being still and quiet long enough to see them emerge from their shells and poke at their little eyes.  I got a kick out of seeing Chloe doing what I did so long ago.    She found this little snail last night sliming it’s way across the sidewalk.  She pet it with her fingers, poked at it with twigs and even gave it a leaf to snack on in case he got hungry.  When he had successfully made it to the dirt, Chloe got up and looked me straight in the eyes to inform me “Mommy, Snails are SO COOL”.  🙂  

Easter Sunday I went down to Rocklin, CA for our annual family get together.   My extended family on my father’s side is pretty massive – my dad’s got 3 older sisters and all of us kids are starting to have families of our own.  This year we were 2 cousins shy of having the whole crew together so we took advantage of it and set up the portable studio in the garage to get some updated portraits of everyone – the kids, grandkids and the new greats!  I came home with almost too many pics to choose from.  It was such a fun afternoon with everyone!  I hope you enjoy the pics!  Thanks for stopping by!

All of the grandchildren with my dad’s folks – missing 2.

Dad and his sisters on the upper left corner… I got a “good” shot of them all looking at me smiling, but this picture captured them more accurately I believe!

Gma Joan and Papa Harold with all the “Greats”!!  Everyone did so well!

Easter morning was special this year for us.  Every year our Pastor Chris here at the Chico Vineyard holds a sunrise service at Upper Bidwell Park.  In years past I’ve been the only one in our family to get up early enough to go out there, but this year everyone went with me.  There’s something about it that draws me there.  It’s very intimate and personal, not like your traditional sunday services at church.  There aren’t any “regular spots” to sit in.  There isn’t any pressure to be just like everyone else.  For me, this is hands down my most favorite service of the year.  This year, I brought my camera and was able to sneak away during a song and get some pictures. 

It was soooooo cold!  The wind is what got to me – doesn’t matter how many blankets you wear it somehow breaks through!  This is Samantha – she’d only lift her head every few minutes to make sure everything was still as it was before.  🙂

This has been a (VERY) rough 2 years for us, but we’re still finding our way through this dark tunnel.  I hope to soon be able to see the light on the other side.  I’m walking in faith that this is the path He intended for us to be on right now.  It’s always darkest and coldest just before the dawn and He will guide our path if we sit and listen.   He has risen indeed!

This week over at ‘I heart faces’ they want some moody black and white images.  They’re asking us to dig deep and show some emotion.  I don’t usually do black and white images unless I’m not happy with the color.   The image below I knew I wanted it in black and white even before I snapped the shot.  This was my dear friend’s vow renewal ceremony at half moon bay here in California.  I was thrilled at how this picture turned out and I can forsee it always being one of my absolute favorites. 

Be sure to check out all the other amazing pictures over at i heart faces by clicking the logo below.  

Thanks for stopping by!

This week I Heart Faces gave us an amazingly cute picture to edit.  I have a mix of several different actions to edit pictures and will outline what I did below the final image.  Be sure to check out all the different interpretations of this picture by clicking below!

Here’s the original:

And my edit:

Here’s what I did:

Lights on @ 100% from Totally Rad Actions
Boost @ 100% from Pioneer Woman
Warm it up Kris! @47% from Totally Rad Actions
Sharpen THIS @ 36% – face only from Pioneer Woman
Eye Bump & Pro Retouch (nose vein and under eyes) @ 100% from Totally Rad Actions
Warm it up Kris! @ 25% from Totally Rad Actions
Texture Overlay @ 100% – no face
Vignette & Blur @ 44% from Totally Rad Actions

Any and all feedback is welcomed, thanks for stopping by!

Yesterday I was able to spend a very low key afternoon with the girls playing outside waiting for everyone to get home from work.  They were totally immersed in their imaginary world and paused a few moments for me to snag some pics.  I’m loving this sunshine!

I’ve recently re-discovered a wonderful site and am excited to start participating in their challenges.  Both for inspiration to keep me shooting with a specific focus and to help me improve with my skills!  The latest challenge is to Focus on Angles!   I feel I’m most comfortable shooting at/with angles, both because it’s such a fun and different perspective and many times it helps me to get all the action in the shot.  With the girls, I found I’m always tilting the camera in one way or another to try and fit them both in the frame. 

This picture was taken on the girls’ first trip to the snow.  I was sitting down and looking up at Chloe while she S-L-O-W-L-Y rolled a tiny little snowball in her hands.  She had her target in sight and was determined to get her! 

Any feedback is welcomed!  If you’d like to check out everyone else’s submissions or submit one of your own, be sure to check out I Heart Faces by clicking on this…

Thanks for stopping by!

Spring is here and it brought some wonderful temps!  Jeff and the girls took me to Horseshoe Lake by Upper Bidwell Park on Sunday.  The past few weekends Jeff’s been taking the girls there while I was working and this was the first time I’ve been able to join them.  WOW!!  It’s the last place in Chico (I believe) that allows dogs to run off the leash.  Normally I get very anxious and tense while around strange dogs (childhood trauma) but they all behaved themselves.  They were all so distracted with running in the lake for sticks (or logs in some cases) they could care less about all the other dogs around.  It was awesome to see so many happy-go-lucky dogs in the same place.  🙂  I was proud of myself for not freaking out and really enjoying the time with Jeff and the girls.  I tried to take each girl to do legitimate portraits, and I was shocked that Chloe was the one to cooperate with me.  I can’t wait to go back again and again!