“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
When we think about the Great Commission, we automatically think evangelism, missions, reaching the nations, etc. And rightly so. But we often forget the tail end of Jesus’ words to his apostles just before the ascension. We forget about the obedience part.
The end result of the preaching of the glorious gospel to all the nations is individual Christians observing all that God has commanded. The Great Commission doesn’t end with baptism, but with obedience.
This means that as mothers, when we teach our children to obey, we are doing Great Commission work. It doesn’t always feel “great” when we are disciplining our two-year-old for a tantrum or instructing our ten-year-old to be respectful. But our Savior has commissioned this work. We are fulfilling his call as we seek to raise disciples of Jesus Christ.
We must ground all our teaching of obedience in the gospel, and we must root our own hearts there too as we remember that only God can regenerate our child’s heart. But when we remember the significance of our Great Commission calling, it will transform how we discipline and instruct our children.
So this Monday, let’s lift our eyes above the difficulties of motherhood for a moment and remember: Teaching our children to obey is a great work, commissioned by a great Savior. And let’s rest and rejoice in the Great Commission promise: “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20).
If you live in the Louisville, KY area (or will be passing through at some point!) you’ll be happy to know that Janelle’s photography business, Summer Nell Photography, is setting up shop here in town. You can check out her new website to view her portfolio and get info on booking sessions for children, couples, and families (including a discount option for seminary students!).
Not only will Janelle provide you and your family with creative, high-quality pictures, but your kids might actually enjoy the photo shoot! And each package comes with complimentary “Milestone Art” for each of your children like we’ve been featuring on the blog these past two weeks.
Here are just a few examples of Janelle’s work from her site:
Hurry and book your session, ‘cause you’re gonna to have to compete with me for a time slot!
You can also visit Summer Nell Photography on Facebook.
Thank you for the many entries you submitted to our 52home at Your Home contest. It was tons of fun getting a peek into your lives through your lenses. And let me tell ya, it made choosing the winners quite the challenging task. But in the end we narrowed it down to three ladies that we thought demonstrated both a variety in presentation as well as creativity.
So, without further ado, congrats to our winners- Jennifer from Roanoke, Virginia, Kelly from Louisburg, Kansas, and Katie from Greenville, South Carolina. Their images will be featured on 52home over the next three weeks. Each winner will receive a print of her choice from the 52home collection. We begin this week with “52home at Jennifer’s home”. I know you will all enjoy!
Hey y’all! Thanks so much for the many entries you have sent in for our 52home At Your Home contest. If you would still like to enter you have until midnight tomorrow (Saturday) night. The winner’s images will be featured on the blog and the winner will receive a print of her choice from our 52home collection. For rule reminders click here.
Did you know that this month marks two years of 52home? That means that you’ve been watching my daily life for quite a while now. And now I would like to see your daily life! So I came up with an idea that has me pretty excited. I’m calling it “52home at your home”. For all you picture people out there, I want to see what life is like at your house. Ants, cereal for dinner, holes in your socks—whatever life looks like for you. You don’t have to have a camera that weighs half a ton; point and shoots or phones are welcome. This is not about skilled photography (although don’t hold back if you’ve got the goods!); it’s about extraordinarily ordinary daily life, and we all have that!
So, get busy shooting! Can’t wait to get a peek into your homes.
It’s been a while since we had a little photography talk. I asked Mike this morning what I should write about, and he said, “Tell them how you’ve started bringing your camera everywhere with you and how that has changed things.”
You see, I have this huge camera bag (it’s bold red, so I do really love it) but it weighs more than I do! And whether I was going on a date with Mike or spending the day at the zoo with the kids, I just couldn’t bring myself to carry it along. I’m already lugging a diaper bag, purse, and extra snacks. Adding a 200 lb camera bag just wasn’t appealing. But when I left it at home, I felt like I was missing so many “moments.”
And then I made a discovery. I found a girl on Etsy who makes purses specially designed for cameras. Purse on the outside, camera-safe on the inside. Fabulous idea! So I saved my birthday pennies and purchased one at the beginning of the summer. And I’m lovin it. My camera comes with me all the time now. And while I still use my red camera bag when I need all my gear, most of the time I only need my camera and one or two lenses.
Now the point of this post is not the purse. It’s about getting your camera out of the house a little more. And for many of you, your camera will probably fit—case and all—right into your usual purse or diaper bag. So toss it into your bag and go out and capture some new memories.
You could document each date night for a year or take a shot every time you and the kiddos go to the grocery store. You could take a picture during your lunch break at work or when school lets out for the afternoon. You never know what “moments” await your capture.
Children are the hardest subjects to capture with your camera. They don’t typically sit still (at least mine don’t—please write me with instructions if yours do) and they normally don’t smile on command.
But for most of you, children are probably your primary subject! So here are a few pointers for taking pics of kids:
To begin with, don’t ask them to say “cheese” (or any of those other annoying little words) In fact, I wouldn’t recommend asking kids to sit still or stop wiggling. This almost always results in an unnatural looking shot or, in my case, kids having a bad attitude.
Kiddos are the most photogenic when they are simply enjoying themselves. So rethink your tactics for taking their picture. Interact with them as you are shooting. Ask them questions that will make them laugh or smile. Have them play games or look at something that will capture their attention.
A photographer friend of mine took pictures for our little fam last year. Caly was three and MJ was not even one—tough ages for shooting. But she was fabulous! She had these little toy people (or maybe they were animals) that she would stick on her head. The kids loved looking at them and watching them fall off. She would snap away as they were completely engaged with the toy. Brilliant!
If I really want a child to look at the camera, I ask them to see if they can see my eye through the lens. This recent image of Tori (after some ice cream!) was taken while she was trying very hard to find Auntie Na-Na’s eye. They won’t be able to find it so you can usually get a few shots in before they give up.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. But try and think of ways to get your children (or others you are shooting) to enjoy an activity and forget about the camera and then start your picture-taking. Your images will improve, I promise. And you will never ask anyone to say “cheese” again.
(I’m done interrupting myself—for the present—and today we’re back to photography talk for everyone.)
Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to appreciate the sun and its usefulness in photography. I know, I should have been more grateful before, but it’s easy to take that big fireball for granted. Used correctly, though, it can take an ordinary scene and turn it into something extraordinary.
There are two times during the day when the sun is the photographer’s best friend: morning and evening. That time of day when the sun is lower in the sky and is that glorious golden color—that’s when you want to be outside with your camera.
Now this time changes throughout the year as the seasons change and some seasons make the morning more convenient while others lend themselves to shooting in the evening.
The sun is rising here at around 5:45 in the morning right now so I’m currently taking advantage of the evening sun. My family is used to doing crazy things for my camera, but playing outside at 6 a.m. would definitely be pushing it.
Learning to use the sun to your advantage in photography takes practice. I used to hide from the sun when taking pictures outside. I looked for the nearest shade and ran for its safety. But not anymore! I’m forcing myself to be more willing to make mistakes, so that I can learn how to use the sun to my advantage. I still don’t know what I’m doing half the time, but that’s all part of the fun.
As a general rule of thumb (‘cause there are lots of ways to do this depending on your desired effect) you want the sun behind your subject at an angle. (This is called backlight, by the way.) If the sun is behind you, your subject is probably going to have harsh shadows on their face, not to mention they will be squinting. Not so good.
Try and position your subject so that you see their hair light up from the sun—almost like their hair is glowing. It usually helps if there are some nearby trees or other large objects in which the sun can filter through.
When using the sun like this, you will have to beware of haze (this can also be used to your advantage—but that’s for another time). You can use a lens hood to help eliminate haze. Or, if you are like me, you can hold your hand above your lens. This usually results in part of my hand making its way into half my shots. Oh well.
Okay, there is tons more I could say about this, but this post is getting long! I stopped reading a few paragraphs back!
Here are a few examples of shooting in the golden hours of morning and evening, to give you some visuals. We will revisit this topic again to talk more about exposure and techy stuff related to shooting with the sun. But until then, the best thing you can do is get out there and practice.
I’m interrupting myself—and my general comments on photography—to answer a question which I’ve received a lot: “what kind of camera do you use?”
Up until a few months ago, I was shooting with the Nikon d70. This past February it died, and I made the upgrade to the Nikon d300s. I love it!
But my favorite pieces of equipment in my camera bag are actually my lenses. The lens is as important—if not more so—than the camera in achieving a good image. I have the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the Nikon 105mm f/2.8. (You can find comparable lenses for the brand of camera that you use.)
My 50mm is on my camera 75% of the time. If I could recommend you buy one thing to improve your photography, it would be this lens. It is a fixed-lens which means it has no zoom. Your feet become the zoom—don’t worry, you get used to it!
Fixed lenses produce sharper images. And that little “f/1.4” means that you can shoot with a very wide aperture. Translation: you can shoot in low light situations without using a flash. There are more advantages than the two just mentioned. Google, and you will find more than you can read.
(This lens has a cheaper cousin known as the 50mm “f/1.8.” It’s cheaper because of that little “f” number again. Not a big deal. Simply means that with the “f/1.4” I will be able to shoot with a tad less light than you.)
My 105mm is fun. It took me many birthdays to save for. It is also a fixed lens (I like those no-zooms). It’s a telephoto lens so I can be far away from my subject while seeing them up close through the viewfinder. It produces a really beautiful soft and hazy background, which I love. It also has macro capabilities so I could take a picture of a single eyelash if I really felt like it. Hmm…don’t think I’ll ever feel like it.
Hope that answers your questions. Feel free to keep ‘em coming.
So it’s time for some photography talk! As I said in my first post, if you hear an expert contradict what I say, go with them.
At first I’m going to share ideas that everyone with a camera—point-and-shoot or slr—can apply. I might get to more technical aspects of photography later on.
My first suggestion is to overshoot. Take tons and tons of pictures. When I was in school my teachers would always tell us that film was the cheapest part of photography, so shoot lots and lots of it. And now that most of us shoot digital, we don’t even have to pay for film! It only costs a little time to delete bad pictures.
Realistically, I hope for one to three really good images for every hundred or so that I might shoot. I know that might sound a little silly, but I’m being serious. The best photographers out there aren’t getting that perfect shot with every click of the shutter. We just never see the dozens of images that they don’t use.
Take, for example, the image that I used for 52home yesterday, the one of the cousins eating ice cream together. I have forty-nine of those. I just showed you one. And after looking through them, I wish I would have taken one hundred and forty-nine! I didn’t love all the expressions in the one I chose, but it was the best of the forty-nine. Imagine if I had only taken ten shots. I would have regretted it later. I’m regretting only taking forty-nine right now!
So next time you go to take a picture, press that shutter a few extra times. When you think you might have nailed it, take 10 more. Deleting later is the easy part! But recreating that moment—probably impossible.