Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Bucket List

A few days ago, I was riding in the car with my husband, on our way to a much-needed one night getaway in the mountains. We were going to go shopping, go on a fancy dinner date, and in general just get away and relax for a while.

Then I saw a billboard for a family that has made their farm into a drive-thru safari. I thought this was a pretty cool idea, and it got me thinking about how I would love to go on a safari one day. I've heard of people doing bucket lists before, but I have never put much thought into the things that I would want on my bucket list.

Before I knew it I was reaching for a pen and paper and the list just started flowing.

-Go on a safari
-Go to grad school so I can get a job that I love
-Visit Africa
-Get to see a Broadway show
-See a bear out in the wild


I even added some items that I had always wanted to do when I was little that I have already completed, just so that I could cross them off my list. Yes, I'm a nerd like that.

-Work for one summer at the camp I went to when I was a kid
-Play soccer at the college level
-Get married

I came home excited about this list and scheming ways to make some of these things happen. But today, my perspective on my bucket list changed a little. I was over at Ann Voskamp's blog reading what she had to say about the idea of a bucket list. If you are one of those people that doesn't like to click links that might distract you, I'll eloquently clumsily try to give you th general idea of her post (but, really, check it out in her words because they are so much better!)

We spend our lives in the pursuit of new and better experiences, so that at the end of our lives, we can look back on all the memories that we made along the way with no regrets as to how we lived our life. The goal of a bucket list is to cross off everything so that by the end of your life, you have had all these wonderful experiences. That's all fine and good, but my problem is that the more I sit and think about what I want to do some day, the longer my list gets. My list of wants only makes me think about what I haven't yet done, instead of encouraging me to be thankful for experiences He's already gifted to me.

How much better would it be to have an empty bucket list? To get to the end of your life and there be nothing left, because you were so poured out in service to Him and to others? Instead of compiling a list of all the things that I want to do someday, I think instead I will work on writing down my list of experiences that I can already give thanks for.

That list looks quite different.

- I am thankful that I got to spend two summers in high school learning how to minister to people who didn't even speak my language.
-I am thankful that I had the opportunity to lead the little girl I took care of for a year in college to the Lord.
-I am thankful that I have been blessed with a family that cares so deeply and loves so selflessly.
-I am thankful that even though I am not in grad school, I have the opportunity to encourage my husband to reach his dream of doing what he loves.
-I am thankful that I have been allowed to see the end of another summer and the beginning of another fall.
-I am thankful that I have a job when so many others do not.

This list could keep going (and it does, in my gratitude journal). And isn't that really the point? Not to accumulate a never ending list of what I may never get, but to store up my treasures in Heaven instead.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sunday Snapshot: Baby Blues


This weekend I had the privilege of taking pictures for my friend's little girl. I was there the day this little sweetheart was born, and it almost makes me feel old that she is turning 2 already!! I honestly love so many of these photos that it was hard for me to pick a favorite.

I love everything about this picture. I love the mystery of not being able to see her face, I love how she is almost on tiptoe on one foot, I love that her shoes are ladybugs, and I LOVE the light streaming in through the slats in the bridge.

I'm horrible at remembering settings, so I have no idea what my shutter speed was. I just set my ISO and put my camera on aperture priority and let the camera pick the shutter speeds.

ISO: 200, 50mm, f/3.5




 This was probably one of my favorite shots of the whole day. I love how the focus is on the bow, but you can still see her giggling. She had just pulled her dress up over her head in true little girl fashion.



She was looking for ducks in the creek under the bridge in the picture below, and I think I surprised her when I popped out with my camera!



This little one sure is cute. You wouldn't know it from these pictures, but she is usually so intense and pensive that it's a challenge to capture a smile. It didn't take long for me to make her laugh though by just getting down on her level and rolling in the grass with her. Her mom and grandma were surprised and very pleased that she was so happy during this session.



Bubbles really are a girl's best friend. Except when they spill on your dress, which happened shortly after this shot!


I love how intense she is for such a little girl.
This is another favorite... Her mom told her we were done, but when we turned around to leave, she plopped down in the grass for one last round of bubbles!  Thanks for stopping by!

Check out more great Sunday Snapshots at www.nihaoyall.com

Ni Hao Yall

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beach Time!!

I figured it is way past time for me to start actually writing here, and the best place to start is the pictures from our beach trip back in June. Yes...JUNE.. it's been a while people!




























Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Good Memory Never Goes Bad


Last week was a hard week. In the interest of keeping it real, I'm going to do my best to write about it here. Let me start by saying that I have been blessed, incredibly blessed, with the most amazing family anyone could ever ask for. I have a big family, and we are spread out in different states, but we are a close family. My mom's family gets together every year for one huge vacation with all the aunts and uncles and cousins, we do holidays together, we play silly games, and mostly we just have fun together. We don't even need a reason.


This past weekend we all gathered together again, like we have countless other times, but this time it was different. This time there were tears, there was sadness, and there was lots of grief. I watched my brothers and my cousins carry a casket down to the front of a church. This casket shouldn't have been needed for a long time, because the body it carried wasn't old. My Aunt Tina, who was one of the most fun people I have ever known, went home to be with Jesus last week. She battled cancer for almost ten years, but to look at her you would have never known. Just last month she was playing kickball and organizing contests for us at the beach.



I saw people, young and old, stand in line for hours to say goodbye. I saw kids, who knew my aunt as their school librarian, crying so hard they couldn't look up. My aunt was a loveable person. You couldn't know her without loving her. It was impossible. Nothing I could say here would do her justice. But, I do know that when I die, I want that many people to come to my funeral. I want to live a life that is so poured out for others that the funeral director has to cut off the viewing line after 3 hours. I want the church to be packed out, standing room only, of people who were touched by the way I lived my life.


I want my kids to be able to stand up at my funeral and say that the best thing I ever did for them was encourage them to know and love the Lord. I watched my uncle stand up, in the middle of Tina's favorite song, to praise the God who is still faithful, even in the midst of the hardest thing he will probably ever have to face. I want my faith to be like that.


There are some things that I will always remember about that day. Seeing my family come together for each other like they never have before was one of the best things. 


 Our family will never be the same without our most fun member. This post may be sad, but it is not hopeless. I know that we serve a God who has already conquered the grave. I know that one day I will get to see my Savior face to face, and I will get to see my aunt again. That's a day I am anxiously awaiting!





Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Snapshot


These are two of my favorite boys. I got the honor of taking some pictures of these two handsome young men a few weeks ago and I've just now gotten around to posting them. 


 I love the freckles...

I think they could both be models with no effort whatsoever!

Check out more great photography here.