What's In The Mail? - A Simple Reminder

When was the last time you received a simple note in the mail from a dear friend? I don't know about you, but most of the time my mailbox is filled with bills and junk mail. 

A simple note is a sweet reminder that someone was thinking about you. Someone actually set aside time and wrote a few words that brought a smile to your face.

Often times, when writing letters to our Compassion kids, I have spent a lot of time wondering what to say and what to send to them.

I think we make things more difficult than they really need to be. A simple reminder that God loves them, that we are praying for them, and that we made the time to mail a letter to them is all that is needed to bring a smile to that child thousands of miles away from us.

This month, I decided to do just that, send a simple reminder to our Compassion kids. I selected the card option. Have you seen these yet? I picked this one:

This is one of four cards currently available

This is one of four cards currently available

Inside each card, I reminded each child that I believe they are a special person and that God loves them. I also included the words to Ephesians 2:10:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10

Then I added a photo page with an image I shared on the Compassion blog this month:

God created you for a special purpose

I had to crop this image down to add it to the photo page. But the message of the image is the important part of that simple reminder, God has created each one of our Compassion kids for a special purpose.

If you wish to share this image with your sponsored children, you can access the file here: God created you for a special purpose

What simple reminders do you share with your Compassion sponsored children?

Fundraising for a Compassion Sponsor Trip

Ever since my son and I arrived back home from our first Compassion Sponsor Trip in 2014, my daughter has been dreaming about the day she would have an opportunity to travel to meet the little guy she is sponsoring in Mexico.

A couple of weeks ago, Compassion posted the details for the upcoming sponsor trip to Mexico in January 2017. And I have to tell you...I am really excited about this trip! My daughter wrote out a bit about why she wants to go on this trip:

We recently learned about this trip and we had always planned to go with me and my mom. I have a sponsored child down there in Mexico and his name is Alfredo. He is a young boy living with his parents in lower Mexico. I have been sponsoring him for quite a while now and would love the chance to be able to meet him. The first thing I want to be able to do is pull him into my arms, hug him and tell him how much I love him and how much Jesus loves him. I want to be able to share with him the hope that he has in Jesus Christ and the amazing future he can have.

 

But I won’t be just meeting Alfredo on this trip. During this trip I will be able to go to other centers in the area, meet with the different children that go to these centers, be able to visit a Compassion child’s home and so much more. We will be able to do some sightseeing while we are there but also see the different things that Compassion is doing in Mexico.

 

I believe that God is calling me to see that work that Compassion is doing in these countries. Though it may scare me, I am trusting in Him that He knows what He is doing. I feel that I can become a better advocate by going on this trip. I can learn so much more so that I can get more children sponsored and can share my story with other people who may be interested in Compassion International. God is doing amazing things through Compassion and I want to be able to see first hand what they are doing while going to see my sponsored child in the process and see how much God has changed his life.

So...we have quite a bit of fundraising to do to make this trip possible for the two of us! Recently, we worked with Fund the Nations to sell shirts they designed for us:

My daughter wrote out 'thank you' notes to everyone who purchased shirts to help with this fundraiser. As of this post, we still have just a few shirts left to sell.

My daughter wrote out 'thank you' notes to everyone who purchased shirts to help with this fundraiser. As of this post, we still have just a few shirts left to sell.

Before our first Compassion trip, I had started a Facebook page, Gifts from Our Little Corner, to sell some of my handmade projects:

You can find many more items like this one on my Facebook page, Gifts from Our Little Corner

You can find many more items like this one on my Facebook page, Gifts from Our Little Corner

Just a couple of weeks ago, I started a new Facebook group to sell homemade baked goods to people in our local area:

If you live local, join our Compassion Kitchen Facebook group!

If you live local, join our Compassion Kitchen Facebook group!

As a stay at home mom, I have to get a bit creative in how to earn money to go on these sponsor trips. God provided for our last two trips, and I know that if He wants us to join this next trip, He will provide the funds for us to go. 

If you are wanting to raise funds for a Compassion Sponsor Trip, get creative! God gifts each one of us with different abilities and skills. Tap into those, whether it be jewelry making, canning, photography, calligraphy, art, etc. You are only limited by your own imagination on how you can raise funds for a Compassion Sponsor Trip!

Fundraising for a Compassion Sponsor Trip

 

Have you done any fundraising for Compassion trips? What has worked for you?

My Week of Photos - One Subject, Three Ways

When life gets real busy around here, my goal of taking a photo each day with my DSLR ends up way down at the bottom of my list of things to do. But I do love photography and I still want to get better at this hobby that I love!

So this week, I captured one subject, three different ways.

ISO 3200, f/7.1, 1/60 sec with 50mm lens

ISO 3200, f/7.1, 1/60 sec with 50mm lens

This first photo was taken outside at about 7:30pm. One of my favorite places at home to take photos is out along our fence. We get a lot of great light out there in the evening and the fence makes a good backdrop.

ISO 3200, f/3.5, 1/60 sec with 50mm lens

ISO 3200, f/3.5, 1/60 sec with 50mm lens

This photo was taken in my second favorite place at my home. Our dining room window faces to the east and gets some great natural light in the morning. To mix things up a bit, I took this photo looking down on the roses. I did crop this one in a bit from the original capture. What I find interesting, is the ISO and shutter speed are the same for this photo as the previous photo. Evening versus morning definitely had an effect on what aperture was appropriate for each of these photos.

ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/160 sec with 50mm lens

ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/160 sec with 50mm lens

This one, of the three, is my favorite! This was taken out in my front yard, mid-afternoon. We have a huge shade tree in our front yard. I placed the vase of roses on a bench in the shade and really focused on the one rose.

Overall, I shot about 16 photos, about five in each location/time of day. Of the 16 photos, these three were my favorites. I find it interesting that each one is a different aperture. By focusing on a different view of the roses, I was able to capture a different look with each photo. This was a great little experiment and one I will probably try again.

Have you ever tried something like this? I would love to do this same thing but with a person so I can practice some portrait photography.

My Week of Photos - Back at it

My DSLR and I had a little bit of a break. So this week, we are back at it, capturing daily photos using the Capture Your 365 daily prompts for this month.

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/50 sec

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/50 sec

Exposure: My husband and I went to a local nursery and bought some California native plants for our backyard. When I saw the prompt for this day, I wasn't really sure what to capture. So after we got the plants in the ground, I grabbed my camera and decided to focus in on these plants, all while trying to get the best exposure of the overall setting as I could. I took this photo late in the afternoon. The lighting was really great. I wish I could show you the histogram of this capture! I know this is not the most exciting photo, but the histogram is just about a perfect bell curve! And if you have ever really looked at the histogram of any of your photos, you know a bell curve histogram is a pretty exciting thing!

ISO 100, f/3.5, 1 sec.

ISO 100, f/3.5, 1 sec.

Go Wide: The widest angle I can go with my current lenses is 18mm. Now, I could have jumped in my car and driven down the road a bit to capture maybe the valley or the mountains, but I decided to see what I could capture right in my own backyard. Since the sun had just set, I slowed down the shutter speed for this one. Loving the new solar lights along the fence!

ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/320 sec

ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/320 sec

F/1.4: Couldn't go as wide as the prompt on this one, since my 50mm lens is an f/1.8, so I made do with what I have. Picked up these roses are the grocery store for $2.99 the other day. Took them outside and up against the blue of my daughter's playhouse. Blue and yellow are my two favorite colors.

ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/640 sec

ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/640 sec

Simple: This little frame sits on my desk. A simple little frame with one simple word that makes me happy just thinking about the beach. Maybe I need to go on a day trip to the beach soon...

This wraps up my week of photos! What photo challenges are you currently following?

My Week of Photos - Favorite Portraits

Confession time here...I have not picked up my DSLR this week! I know, I really should be using it every day if I want to continue to learn to take great photos. But sometimes, life just gets really busy and there are times when I am just not feeling inspired to take photos with my DSLR. And I believe it is perfectly fine to take a break from something you love, even if it is baking, reading, or taking photos.

So, for this week's post of My Week of Photos, I want to share with you some of my favorite portraits I have captured. Ever since my kids were babies, I have loved capturing moments of their lives. Before digital came along, I would get my double prints and spend hours creating scrapbook pages to fill albums of our family memories.

Then digital came along...at first, I had no desire to get a digital camera. And now? My iPhone takes better photos than my first digital camera. But at the time, those old digital cameras were better than not capturing any memories at all.

Last night, I spent hours looking at old photos on my computer...reminiscing and laughing until I had tears running down my cheeks at some of the expressions on my kid's faces in different photos. It really makes me realize that I need to make some time to go through and dump the photos I don't want to keep and print out some that I want to put into albums or hang on my wall.

Today, I am going to share with you some of my favorite photos of my kids and some favorites I have taken of other people. As I am getting closer to wanting to possibly start my own photography business, I have struggled with how to explain the type of photography that I love. Talking this over with someone recently, the perfect category for me: lifestyle.

I love to capture moments, not always posed. Real life that doesn't need to be photoshopped and lightroomed to death. Moments that people will look back on that bring smiles and laughter. Moments that warm your heart.

Here are a few of my favorite portraits:

Kelsey with cake

This photo was taken with a Kodak EasyShare digital camera. At this point, I had never taken a photography class and didn't know anything about looking for the right lighting, composition, or anything really. But I entered this photo in our little community art contest and won Best of Show! Wow, I was so surprised!

Matthew and Kelsey

Here is one with both of my kiddos, again with the Kodak EasyShare. This is in the days way before I even knew about editing photos. Looking back now, I can see that this photo could use a little bit of an edit. But the thing I love about this photo are the people in the photo and their obvious love for each other. Their really great relationship continues even today.

Matthew and Kelsey

Once I did start to learn about a little bit of photo editing, every now and then, I would change the tone of the photo. I think changing this photo to sepia really works so that my daughter's shirt pattern doesn't compete with my son's shirt pattern. But again, this photo captures the sweet relationship these two had and continue to have.

Kelsey

Once I finally got my first DSLR, a friend told me to turn the dial to aperture priority. And I sure had fun with that for a while! Our family used to do a lot of Civil War reenacting and this is one of my favorites I captured of my daughter in our camp one weekend.

Matthew

Then I had a chance to take an actual photography class! I learned about shooting in manual mode and lighting and so much more! This was one of the first photos I shot of my son using natural light from a window in our home. And I learned a bit about Lightroom so I could fine tune photos a bit. 

Jazz senior portrait

During the photography class, we had a chance to go out one day to do senior portraits for one young man. This was my first time really photographing someone who was actually posing for photos! The group of us were able to suggest different poses. It was a great experience, especially using my new found skill of shooting in manual mode!

Isa

With my DSLR and my new knowledge of how to use my camera, I started feeling more confident in what I was capturing. And I had plenty of opportunities to try out what I was learning at different events.

Dorothy

It is moments like this that I still love to capture, ones you really can't plan for.

Baylee

I have been second shooter at one wedding so far. This shot was completely unplanned. But when I saw where she was standing, I knew I wanted to try to capture this moment before she walked down the aisle.

girl on the beach

Here is another one of those unplanned shots. I was with some friends at a beach in Southern California when I saw this little girl at sunset. I took a few photos of her and loved what I saw in camera.

yosemite engagement shot

Then, a friend asked me to take their engagement photos...in Yosemite...and they were going to pay me to do it!! Win-win-win!! We spent the whole day wandering around Yosemite and I had the fun of capturing them together. This one was one of my favorites from that day!

Felix's family

But there is one thing I have been able to do that is even more amazing than being paid for my photography...having the chance to travel on two Compassion trips now and capturing moments like this one. In January 2014, my son and I traveled to Mexico where we had the opportunity to meet one of our sponsored children. There were a few people behind and around me when I captured this one, but I love how Felix is looking right at me. His smiling face is one I always remember from this trip.

Compassion kids in Mexico

You would never know by this photo that these kids were a bit skeptical of us when we first arrived. It is still one of my favorite photos from this trip!

Colombia Compassion girl

In February 2015 I had the opportunity to go on another Compassion trip, this time to Colombia! This little girl was at the last center we visited. This photo reminds me of a quote I just read in a new book, Small Matters, by Greg Nettle and Jimmy Mellado: "Jesus is the One who invites you and me to join him in reaching out to children the world has given up on, to take them by the hand, to rejoice for this one others considered lost who has found the way home."

Photography is something I love to do, capturing moments that people will love to remember.