Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away.
Is your camera ready? Batteries charged? Space on the card?
Great!! Now let’s go through the basics of how to take better photos for your family get togethers.
You may not think this is a biggy. But it is. We’ve all had someone with a camera, getting in our face, snapping away while we chew food. Not cool! As a professional, I want my subjects to feel at ease. If they think I’ll post an unattractive shot, they won’t relax for me.
So, how do you do this? Promise them you’ll delete bad shots. Take a couple of good shots, then let them view them. They’ll relax when they can trust you.
2) Simplify your background!
Crop out unnecessary parts of the picture.
It does involve some effort. But it’s worth it!
a) Find the timer button on your camera.
b) Get your tripod out, or use a stack of books on a chair.
c) Pick a location that can fit all your subjects. Outside in the yard, on a porch, in the family room. Decide beforehand.
d) Give clear directions to the group to meet at a certain time and have your camera ready. Hit the timer button and run to get in the shot!
These are the kind of pictures that show the whole room or whole table. Maybe a driveway full of cars.
Does grandma make homemade cranberry sauce? Take a picture.
Does she bake a certain cake? Take a picture.
Try the picture from a higher perspective. Or on a table.
Is someone dancing on the Wii? Take a shot from in front of them and from behind. See which works better.
The list could go on. These suggestions should get you thinking.
But what about you? Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving memory? Can you share it with us?
Or what about an idea that might be neat for a picture? Share your thoughts and let’s make this Thanksgiving a year to remember!
My yard, wearing its leaf-woven quilt, had been raked and mulched. A crisp cold wind blew its way down my mountain hollow, singing its prelude to winter. Frost diamonds glistened atop pumpkins destined for decorations on my farmhouse porch. All the vegetables from our garden had been preserved in glass jars and lined spring house shelves, joining sister jars of plump summer blackberries.
The season of thankfulness had arrived. Time to bow the knee and fling praises toward heaven for harvest gifts and blessings bestowed. The calendar confirmed the natural signs. I had decorated the altar table at church with a cornucopia of fall’s offering, wheat sheaves and a painting of an older man saying grace over his bountiful table. I was going through the motions, but my heart was heavy and not even the slightest thanks could penetrate the sorrow barrier binding my spirit.
Earlier that week, I retrieved my tablecloth from the dining room credenza and underneath the heirloom covering were place cards inscribed with family members’ names. I remembered the excitement of finding the beautiful cards in an antique shop and rejoicing over how they would complement my grandmother’s tablecloth. I lovingly picked them up and pressed them to my heart.
The name of my son’s fiancé was on top, the beautiful young woman who died of a brain aneurism shortly after accepting Brad’s proposal of marriage; Gretchen was twenty-eight. Next in the stack was the name of my own precious daughter who passed away after a courageous battle with breast cancer; Brooke was thirty-four. My mother’s name was on the next card, the mother who died six months after my daughter’s death. Tears fell, leaving smudges on the beloved names. How could I have a spirit of thankfulness after such tragedies? I crumbled in a heap of overwhelming sadness.
Through my sobs slowly came a realization: I was so fortunate having had these amazing women in my life, two of them only for a short season. How could I not celebrate with thankfulness their grace and beauty?
It was Gretchen who started the tradition of giving me a flower arrangement for our Thanksgiving table every year. Brooke carried on Gretchen’s custom until her own death. I had not been able to face flowers since Gretchen and Brooke’s passing, and had started serving Thanksgiving dinner on TV trays to avoid the memories made around the holiday table. I decided to renew the floral tradition to honor those memories and in thankfulness for Brooke and Gretchen’s lives.
This year, I will again set our holiday table, and embrace Morgan, the lovely young woman God has graciously brought into Brad’s life. As for the name cards, I will give them a place of honor on the sideboard.
We will once again hold hands, offer thanks for our blessings, for those around the table, and those who have left our sight but not our hearts.
Sweet readers, my prayer for your family as they gather together to ask the Lord’s blessings is for love to permeate the room, and that the heaping bowls of food remind you of God’s provision, that grace abounds, and that the memories of loved ones gone on to glory hover close.
Come, ye thankful people, come
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home!
With a thankful heart,
Dee Dee Parker
Thank you, my precious friend Dee Dee, for sharing your beautiful memories and thankful heart with SOAR WITH EAGLES. I’m praying that our Heavenly Father creates an abundance of joyful new memories for you and your family this Thanksgiving.
Author Dee Dee Parker writes of her beloved Appalachia, captivating readers with her tender southern voice. She has written Josie Jo’s Got To Know, a delightful children’s book that can be purchased at www.Amazon.com or www.josiejo.com. Dee Dee is currently finishing an adult Christmas novella, Peppermint Snow.
Please visit my friend Dee Dee’s website: http://comegohomewithme.blogspot.com
TO GOD BE THE GLORYRead More
We’re quickly approaching the holiday season. This is a wonderful time of year. And a wonderful time for families to get together. Especially for Thanksgiving.
So, have you put much thought into capturing those special moments with pictures? I’d love to encourage you to make sure your camera has batteries, some space for photos and is nearby when your family descends on you.
I’d also love to give you some pointers on how to make the most of your holiday shots.
This week I’ll address why it’s so important to try and record those special moments. Next week I’ll talk about how to take better shots.
Let’s get started and talk about the “family photo.” If there’s anyway you can take the opportunity to get everyone together for a shot, do it! Even if your family gets together regularly, or complains that they don’t want to bother. Encourage them to anyway.
Why? Almost every year for the past 25 years that my hubby and I have been married, we’ve been with extended family during Thanksgiving. Let me tell you, those yearly family shots show the new additions to the family and the kids growing up. Over time, they’ve become more valuable. Life happens faster than we think and photos can help us remember the good times. And, as much as I hate to bring it up, they serve as memories after a loved one is gone.
Has my family done this willingly every year? Absolutely not. Someone else put me in charge of the huge family photo. My family used to balk over this desire to document our gatherings. In the earlier years of getting together, they’d say that we’d taken a shot last year, or a few months ago so we didn’t need another one.
It’s not easy getting 20 some people to agree to do this and then actually getting all 20 people (including babies) to smile simultaneously. Not to mention the logistics…. Then it grew to well over 30 people.
Let’s just say I persevered. And now? They are so grateful and thankful to have the memories preserved. And they pose so willingly! (Well, there’s always one in the bunch who blinks…)
This year, Thanksgiving will be a little bittersweet. Our family picture will probably be the last one for someone we love dearly. I’m thankful I can document the love with my camera.
But what other shots can you take that would be meaningful?
Try and get an individual shot of everyone. Or at least in groups of two or three. Kids grow up quickly. A few months can make a big difference. Document. Document. Document.
The shots do not have to be posed.
Do a bunch of cousins get together, sit at the counter and draw? Take a shot.
Do a some of the girls do their nails together? Take a shot.
What else is memorable? Honestly, it can be anything.
On one side of the family, we have fully set table.
Miss Manners would be proud. So, I take a photo of the place settings.
Who cooks? Take their picture.
Who cleans? Take theirs!
Does everyone watch the parades? Take a photo!
Your family is special and unique. Think ahead this year and think about what memories are made of.
Then, have your camera ready and don’t be afraid to shoot!
Next week, I’ll give you some practical tips to improving your shots. Feel free to share your favorite Thanksgiving memories!
Until next time,
Christmas comes but once a year and when it comes, it brings good cheer! says an old song. If that is true, then I am filled to overflowing with good cheer.
The first of many guests arrived on December 15th, a group of three and a Shih Tzu. By the next evening, three more guests and a German shepherd joined us. Including my husband and me, that brought the number of folks staying at the Howerter Inn to 8 people, two guest dogs and two resident cats.
Good food and good cheer overflowed at our house. Our halls were decked with laughter and joy and an abundance of foods. I know our guests enjoyed themselves because one of them is still here on January 2nd, two others having departed last evening after dinner.
As the long holiday winds to a close, I cannot help but reflect on the past year. Do you ever do this? I mean, reflect on the past year?
If I begin my reflection at last Christmas, 2010, it begins with indescribable joy! After 18 months of unemployment and the selling of our home in April, 2009, my husband was given a wonderful job. He works for and with good people. God proved to the naysayers that anything is possible with God. Even giving a 50-something year old man a very good job. With God, never say never.
God generously and graciously bestowed a new house upon my husband and me. A beautiful house where our family and friends can gather and praise God for His mighty blessings.
I joined an on-line writers group of Christian women from numerous states. We check in daily and pray for each others’ needs. And even though we don’t get to see each other except at the writers conference in May, we have grown close praying for each other. We count on each other to encourage, offer advice, laugh, cry and pray.
The Lord sent me on a lovely trip to Williamsburg in February with my Aunt Betty Ann. Aunt and I had a wonderful time and we still reminisce and laugh about our memories. In March, God allowed me to accompany my daughter to Charleston on a business trip where we toured the beautiful historic city in the afternoons and evenings.
But just two days after arriving home, my daughter’s apartment was broken into and things she had worked hard to purchase were stolen by someone who chose not to work. Thankfully, my daughter’s schedule was changed at the last minute or she would have been home when evil came for a visit. The police detective told me that had my daughter been home at the time of the break-in, she most likely would have been raped and murdered.
We know it was Providence who changed her schedule unexpectedly. God spared her the violence that most certainly would have occurred had she been home. So in the face of evil, God kept His Word and good came out of it. We praise God with everything in us - how can you not?
While at the May writers conference in Asheville, North Carolina, I became very ill. By the end of the conference, I was too ill to drive the 8 hours home. I needed to leave the conference center, however, as there were no available rooms once the conference ended.
I asked God to help me find a nearby place where I could stay and recuperate until I was well enough to drive home. Help came the next morning in a phone call from our friends in Georgia. As soon as they heard how ill I was, they insisted I drive the two hours to their house. And even though they were leaving the next day on a previously planned trip, they stocked the refrigerator with foods I could eat and sent me to an area doctor. I stayed for days until I could make the lengthy trip home. God’s hand was on me.
Living in a new area, I became lonely. I will admit that I was slow to speak to my Father about this. Okay, so it didn’t even occur to me to speak with God about it until I was miserable with loneliness. And as a result, I was lonelier longer than I had to be.
But once I asked God to send true Christian friends to me, they began materializing, one at a time. How often do we miss out on blessings because we don’t speak to God about our situations?
I longed for a critique partner. So I prayed for one. See how I was learning to turn to God with everything? He sent me a gifted writer from Alabama whom I had met at the writers retreat in 2010. We email our work to each other, then critique the writing over the phone.
I longed for a writing mentor, and after asking God to send at least one mentor – if not several - they materialized in the form of talented women writers from West Virginia, South Carolina and Virginia.
From our unemployment experiences, we learned to thank God every single day. Even when nothing has occurred. Even when bad things happen. As I reflect over the past year, it is obvious that God was with my family and me. He protected us, He nurtured us, He encouraged us, He cared for us, He provided for us, He loved us.
Do you know God intimately? Do you have this kind of relationship with Him? I pray that you do. But if you do not, you can. Yes, you can! In fact, He’s waiting for you to invite Him into your life, your heart. Remember what happened when I didn’t ask God for his help? Nothing.
“The opening up of Your Word give light. It gives understanding to the child-like.” Psalm 119:130.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More
“What are your favorite Christmas memories?” I asked my readers last week with the promise that I would post the best one. The stories that were submitted were so special that I wasn’t able to choose just one. So, here for your enjoyment are the favorite recollections of several readers.
From Deb Traverso of Falling Waters, West Virginia:
“I think I’ll sit this one out because my favorite Christmas tradition annoys my son. On a day in December when he least expects it, I crank up the stereo speakers and wake him to the joyful (and VERY loud) tunes of the Muppets singing the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” He always forgives me by at least 11 a.m., when he realizes I can make him lunch. It’s great fun.”
From Jana Sloan Hall of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
“Some of my fondest childhood Christmas memories are centered on the dime store nativity set in our living room. It had a light in the top for the star. Many evenings as my mother was preparing dinner and darkness filled the room my mother, brother, and I would gather around the nativity set and softly sing Christmas carols. It became a holy time. For us, God’s Incarnation was there in our living room. We were filled with awe and wonder. My brother treasures that little nativity set and puts it out each year in his home. I treasure my memories.”
From Twyla Boyer Hajdukiewicz of Long Island, New York:
“One of my favorite Christmas memories won’t bring any awards, but perhaps smiles and understanding. I was single, living in the Pittsburgh area, working full-time, singing in the church choir, and (as a single person) invited with some insistence to FOUR homes for Christmas dinner – two in the North Hills, one in the South Hills, and one in the Mon Valley. It would have taken about 8 hours of driving to go to all of them and though I loved each friend dearly, I wasn’t looking forward to rushing about and spending most of Christmas Day in my car. Well, it seemed God knew I needed rest because I started to come down with bronchitis, beginning Christmas Eve morning. It sounds terrible, but I was actually gleeful about it. I knew that with enough cough drops and Chloraseptic I could make it through Christmas Eve services and that I would have a very good reason to just stay home, which was what I really, really wanted to do. I called each friend and explained that I’d be unable to make it, went to the video store and rented five movies I’d been wanting to see, stopped at Boston Market and the grocery to buy enough Christmas dinner stuff to last a few days, made it to church and through the singing, then went home and spent all day on Christmas being a slug on the couch, watching wonderful movies (some rented, some on tv), sleeping whenever I felt like it, eating roasted chicken, stuffing, potatoes, spiced apples and pie whenever I wanted. It was totally peaceful, totally relaxing, and I enjoyed every second of my respite from the craziness of how the world does Christmas. I got to see my friends later, on different days over the course of a couple of weeks, allowing me to thoroughly enjoy my time with each one in a totally unhurried manner. It’s definitely not the stuff of Normal Rockwell, but it sure was nice for a year to be able to take Christmas off from everything.”
Thank you, Deb, Jana and Twyla for being my guests today on SOAR WITH EAGLES and for sharing your Christmas memories!
I wish all of my readers a wonderful Christmas. As we celebrate with our families and friends, let us remember the priceless eternal gift from our Heavenly Father – the birth of our Savior. Without the birth of Jesus Christ, not one of us would have the hope, the promise of spending eternity in heaven with God, our Father. While on earth, Jesus taught each one of us how to live according to God’s Will, and in doing so, our lives are rich no matter what our circumstances may be.
And so, this Christmas season, whether you face prosperity or hardship, know that God loves YOU so deeply and unconditionally that He has given you a gift that will never break, fade or tarnish. If you don’t know this blessed Jesus, I invite you to seek Him. He is right here, waiting for you. All you have to do is call His name and He will show you how to know Him.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory? One you remember when you sit back with a cup of eggnog and think of past Yuletides? (I’ll bet you have more than one!)
My husband and I both love to recall a certain Christmas when we lived in Philadelphia. Our two sweeties were very little, and were filled with anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Being so young, they were also more than a little fearful that Santa, a stranger they only saw at the department store once a year, was coming inside their very own home.
After the Christmas Eve church service, Daddy Tim drove our little family home and directed me to take the wee ones upstairs and get them ready for bed. He would stay downstairs and get milk and cookies ready for Santa’s snack when the jolly elf arrived during the middle of the night. Sounded like a plan.
In various states of undress, our sweet ones had a total freakout and meltdown at the sound of jingle bells ringing in our kitchen. A leather strap lined with large sleigh bells hung on the door to our basement. Everytime we opened the basement door, they jingled. But this sound was no delicate, brief jingle. Nooo. It was loud and endless, as though Santa was already inside the house and his mission was to see how loud and long he could jingle those blessed jingle bells.
Amidst shrieks of fear and tears and outright screams of horror, someone (with a silly grin on his face, I’m certain) stood in the kitchen shaking the living bejebbers out of those bells and thinking he was oh, so clever. Unable to calm her babies, Mommy was getting more and more miffed.
“Daddy,” I called out sternly from the top of the stairs, “do you hear your children?” The jingling stopped.
“You need to come upstairs now and tell these children exactly who was ringing those sleigh bells if you expect anyone in this house to get sleep tonight!”
In seconds, a child stuffed inside my husband’s body appeared and tried his best to calm his children as the child within him giggled out the true explanation for the shaking of the sleigh bells.
“I’ll hide those bells next year,” I told the man-boy five hours later when the children had finally fallen asleep.
How would you like to share your favorite Christmas memory with us at SOAR WITH EAGLES? That’s right! Write a brief description using 500 words or less of your favorite Christmas in the ”Comments” section for this article. I’ll decide the winners and contact them to write their stories in more detail. Then you’ll see your special memory published here for all to enjoy. Don’t keep it to yourself! After all, this is the season for sharing. Oh, and make sure you tell me how to contact you.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More