Sunday, August 31, 2008

HE SAID/SHE SAID was the theme of today's sermon

video

And it was a good one, especially for us married folk. It was a great reminder of many things but most importantly, learning to work with our gender differences. (And boy, are there a lot of them!) Pastor Derek shared a great resource called, "Fight Like A Girl: The Power of Being a Woman" by Lisa Bevere. You can learn more about the book HERE. Pastor Derek's wife was reading it this summer when she was injured in a boating accident. He ended up reading the book to her while she was laid up and it made a powerful impression on him.

Too, the above movie clip is from Firepoof which is due out in theaters September 26th; you'll find details in a previous post by clicking HERE.

Now I have my own fire to tend to... a bonfire! Have a safe and fun holiday weekend.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

BUYER BEWARE

I could should kick myself. After finding a superb deal on a lens, I placed on order with online company that I knew very little about; a quick review at an unassuming price comparison website stated that the company was "reputable" and offered great customer service. (There were 5,000+ reviews, most of them positive.) To top it all off, there was even free shipping! What a deal... or so I thought.

Turns out I was SCAMMED. How did it happen? I didn't use my usual resources to check into the website and fell for the fake reviews and too-good-to-be-true price. I suspected something was up after the sales person tried to use the old "bait and switch" on me saying that "Lens #2" might be a better option for my camera. When I said I wanted to stick with "Lens #1", the sales person seemed almost irritated.

After the phone call, I looked into things further and found a lot of complaints. In fact, a couple of disgruntled customers had even created websites devoted to sharing bad experiences with this particular company. Some of the complaints included being charged fees for cancelled orders (even orders cancelled immediately), bait-and-switch tactics, advertising items not truly available (if the bait-and-switch doesn't work, the customers typically receive emails stating the item is not in stock - yet it remains on the website), appalling customer service (bullying, name-calling, and threatening customers), and selling grey market goods.

UGH.

In an effort to turn this giant lemon into something worthwhile, I thought I'd share a few tips with all of you.

Tips for Online Digital Shopping

1. Even though your debit card has the Visa logo on it and is treated like a credit card at local retailers, do not use it for online purchases. You will receive more protection by using your regular credit card.
2. Check the Better Business Bureau, Google, PriceGrabber, BizRate, and ResellerRatings to learn more about the online company BEFORE engaging in business.
3. Learn more about digital price scams by reading THIS HELPFUL ARTICLE.
4. If you've been burned, click HERE to learn about filing an Internet Crime Complaint.
5. When shopping digital, stick with retailers you know and trust. I have used and love the following companies: Adorama, B&H Photo, Amazon, and BuyDig.
6. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

I should kick myself because I know better. Live and learn and learn some more.

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Proverbs 4:6

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

One of my favorite Joyce Meyerisms

“Sitting in a church does not make one a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes one a car.” ~Joyce Meyer requoting

So what does it mean to be a Christian? I remember asking myself this question several years after a fellow Creative Memories Consultant made mention of her faith and its influence on her life. She and several other consultant friends referred to themselves as Christians which struck me as odd. After all, when speaking about matters of faith people usually referred to themselves by denomination; I had no clue what it meant to be a Christian. Curious, I began to explore different denominations and religions seeking to understand the differences and common themes. Time and again, I was led back to the Bible.

It was around the same time that I discovered Joyce Meyer. My mom had begun talking about God a lot and kept referring to a Bible teacher she'd seen on television. I decided to secretly watch the program just in case she'd gotten sucked into something shady. Surprisingly, the lady made sense and I found myself looking forward to her program each day. Never had I known the Bible to be relevant for today yet it seemed to speak directly into my life. Things have never been the same.

In this day and age the term is broadly used; there seem to be an awful lot of people calling themselves Christians. Have you ever thought about what it means to be a Christian or wondered what it means to be "saved"? If you call yourself a Christian, are you authentically living out that faith? Below is a FANTASTIC sermon addressing these issues and more:

5/11/2008 – Taking Out the Trash, Greg Boyd (48:20 minutes)
What does it mean to "get saved?" Many people (especially people in the United States) see salvation as a one time event and the result of "believing" certain things about God. While belief is important, salvation encompasses much more than that. The salvation that God offers is a continual personal transformation where the trash of our old lives is replaced by the beauty of God's Kingdom. [Focus Scripture: Luke 12:1-5]

Audio - 5.6 mb
High-Quality Audio - 22.2 mb
QuickTime Video (mp4) - 138.9 mb
Windows Media Video (wmv) - 191.1 mb

For I am zealous for you with a godly eagerness and a divine jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one Husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2 (AMP)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

it can't always be sunshine and ice cream

We spent our day at the pool yesterday and sat by a fire last night. It was wonderful. With today being both the last official day of staycation AND our school open house, there was a lot to fit in. Our day began with breakfast at T&T Galley in South St. Paul. (They seriously have the best breakfasts around.) Afterwards, we spent time zipping around town with stops at both the Enchanted Rock Garden and The Malt Shop (after all, we were in the neighborhood). While out and about, we spotted a very cool, very fun looking coffee shop/bookstore/gift shop. After doing a little Googling, it looks like a great place for mom to pick up a latte with her little ones in tow. The place is called Auntie Em's Books and you'll find a couple of reviews for the place HERE and information about Storytime Mondays HERE and Storytime Wednesdays HERE.

After all of the high calorie fun we've enjoyed this week, we may just end up spending our Labor Day weekend jogging. And eating lots of broccoli.

But oh was it worth it!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Would you still marry me if I looked like this?"

Um, no. We wouldn't have even made it to the first date! (My hubby often does this goofy thing with his lip while asking me the above question.) Thankfully though, we are already married (13 years today); I'll keep you regardless of the missing upper lip.

Happy Anniversary, Chico.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

have you heard?

We spent Day #2 of our STAYCATION at the Minnesota State Fair. It was the first time all of our kids met the minimum height requirements, thus no adults were subjected to unnecessary spinning.

Of course, you can't talk about The Great Minnesota Get Together without some mention of food. And we had plenty of it. We also sampled one of the fair's newest items: Pig Lickers (i.e. chocolate-covered bacon sprinkled with sea salt). As tasty as they were, my favorite part was listening to Tilly:

"What are the bacon-things called again? Pigsicles?"

"No, Pig Lickers."

Fifteen minutes later, "We need to find those Piggle Wiggles."

In all fairness, the tongue-twisting was inevitable - we'd also heard about frozen pickle juice on a stick. Between Pig Lickers and pickle juice, fair vendors were just asking for trouble. Here are just a few of Tilly's other colorful references: Piggle Lickles, Pigglesicles, Tickle Pickles, Pigglewickles, and Pickle Lickers.

Just so there is no confusion as you head out to the fair, they are called PIG LICKERS. You'll find them at Famous Dave's by the Grandstand.

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today is monday, correct?

A sure sign it's time for the school year to begin... I'm losing track of the days! We've spent the entire summer purposely avoiding talk of school, now we have ONE WEEK to reprogram the children. I'm quite sure they've forgotten about such things as homework, bedtimes, and Cookie Fridays.

Can you believe it's that time again?

We have several exciting things planned for the week - the hubby has even created one of his itineraries. (You just know exciting things are in store when that happens.) We've officially dubbed this as our first ever STAYCATION... which is just a fancy way of saying we're not really going anywhere but pretending we are by not cleaning or cooking. Of course, we had to start things out right:

Several members of the Little Peeps, getting ready for a gig.

By the way, have I mentioned that my oldest now wants a bass guitar for his birthday? A real one. The hubby is ecstatic. (I think he's secretly hoping to be part of the boys' future garage band.)

Anyway, my fingers are poised in anticipation; stay tuned for all of the fun and tasty STAYCATION details!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

The most often heard quote from the day...

"It's about time."

My hubby's longtime friend/former bandmate was married yesterday. And really, the couple should have tied the knot years ago. (We all knew it would happen, it just took the bride and groom a little longer to figure that out!) Here are a few more shots from the sidelines:

My hubby (to the right) and another longtime friend/former bandmate.

The bride just before walking down the aisle.

The first dance.

It was a beeeeauuuutiful day for a wedding. Unfortunately, the huge amounts of sunshine contributed to huge amounts of LENS FLARE. (So that's what a lens hood is for... gotta get me one and soon.)

I'm off to seek coffee. Have a great day!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

how sad is it

When your undergarments cost more than the cute little dress covering them up? I discovered this horrifying fact while shopping for an outfit to wear to a friend's wedding. I guess that's what happens when you turn forty.

I've noticed a few other unpleasant changes as well. But that's another post.

While contemplating the whole hosiery vs. no hosiery dilemma, I stumbled across this very cool website. (Just click on the highlighted words to the left.) It's chock full of age-appropriate fashion advice. Too, if you haven't already, be sure to check out BigMama's Fashion Friday posts. Because they are good. Really good. And funny.

Because when you get to the age where your undergarments cost more than your outfit, you NEED funny.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

in my quest for new and unusual...

I found an interesting site where you can take a photo like this:

And turn it into something like this:

You can also create 3-D relief charms of your pet! For more information, click HERE. Too, you can also turn a photograph into a lamp or nightlight. The photograph is first carved using some "unique technique" and then assembled with a light behind the image. Very cool. Click HERE for details.

How about a personalized game of checkers? For real. Click HERE to learn more.

On a completely different, totally unrelated note... I shared a prayer request link HERE on July 30th. Fellow cropper/blogger/faithbooking friend Mellissa just received some AWESOME news!! Click HERE for an update on her situation. Thank you all for your prayers!!

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ooh... aah...

In gearing up for fall, I've been looking for fun and unique add-ons to offer my photography customers. Sterling customized jewelry will be one of those options! The necklace featured above is available for only $35 (chain upgrades are also available).

Here are several other styles, all priced at $75:

And two ring options, each priced at $35:

The above pieces work best with single, closely cropped shots. An option for family shots is priced at $55 and featured below:

Any one of these pieces would make a memorable gift for grandmothers, Godmothers, or as a beautiful keepsake for yourself! The average turnaround time is 3-5 weeks; please take that into consideration when scheduling your photo session.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

i had great plans for this tricycle

But the little guy I photographed today wanted NOTHING to do with it inside the house! I did capture this sweet shot:

Umm, yes. He's sticking his tongue out at me. And then there was this one:

Yes, running away from me.

All kidding aside, we had LOTS of fun and ended up with several very cute shots:


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it little bit scary and exciting at the same time

I just received word from NILMDTS this morning... my application has been approved! There's still paperwork to tend to and training to be had but the door is open. Do you remember the reservations and doubts I had before filling out the application? (If not, the original post is HERE.)

Well, I've still got 'em. This just means I need to rely on Him. Completely.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go," says the Lord. Joshua 1:9

Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

our son, the football player

Looking so very manly. Or at the very least, teenager-like.

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a barb is a barb is a barb

I was watching television the other day and saw a political ad involving a comedian-turned politician running for office. It prompted me to dig into things a little further and I was stunned at what I found.

The accusations in the ad were true.

In 2000, funny guy had written a sexually explicit fiction article for a popular men's magazine. The detailed excerpts made my stomach turn; it was extremely devaluing and degrading towards women.

There was a lot of hoopla surrounding the story because a prominent female politician from the same political camp, spoke out against funny guy. She was ripped to shreds for creating a division. (She's since apparently "come around" and is now offering her support.) Funny guy was staunchly defended; his article was considered "harmless" because, after all... he is a satirist - derision, sarcasm, and ridicule are just par for the course.

Seriously???

This situation has had me thinking deeply about the power of words. Perhaps it's because God has put me through the ringer with my own mouth. Is it really a big deal, after all, if he said he didn't mean it? Interestingly enough, a research project led by Western Carolina University psychology professor Thomas E. Ford, suggests that sexist humor may be more than just a joke:
The research indicates that people should be aware of the prevalence of disparaging humor in popular culture, and that the guise of benign amusement or 'it’s just a joke' gives it the potential to be a powerful and widespread force that can legitimize prejudice in our society.
The article in full is HERE. God isn't silent on the issue either. As mentioned before, I have my own mouth issues. Many of them. Here's what scripture has to say about the words we wield:

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32

Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness to God. Ephesians 5:4

"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:33-37 (emphasis added)
No matter how we paint it - a barb is a barb. Try listening to yourself today; really pay attention to how you are speaking to your spouse, your children, a friend. Needling, sarcasm and derision - no matter how sweetly delivered - hurts.

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