Thursday, May 28, 2009

Eminija Tree

Me and this old tree just have a thing for one another.
I think a hundred times a month I pass by this tree, and 99 of those times I want to take a picture of it, because it always has a different feel to me, almost like you just know it would be an amazing place to just grab a book and drift away.
I mark the seasons and the passing of time with this old tree. From the lonely winter to the now fresh green spring, into the hot, humid days of summer and finally the changing of the guard with the colors of fall, this tree usually looks the way I feel, like some kind of magic mood ring or something.

This morning I was enveloped by this fog so thick it felt like I was alone in the world.
When I die and find myself up in heaven, I think God is going to have a tree just like this one, waiting for me....once I get tired of flying and zipping all around of course. :) Only there won't be any sound of cars rushing by on the morning commute, and there won't be any fences, just wild lilacs like this one to make the air a little sweeter.

Amanda & Eric

We got to shoot these two on a Saturday and then see them the very next day at a wedding we were shooting. I have to say there's a little more pressure knowing that your future bride and groom are right there with you at the church and the reception, watching. A guy just prays that he doesn't trip and knock over a candelabra or drop his camera in the silence of the vows on a day like that. :)

It was a little chilly out at the park, and I had Amanda in her dress because she just looked too beautiful to pass up taking some shots with her in it out next to the water.
For part of the walk down we threw Eric's suit jacket around her, and she just looked amazingly vibrant and fresh. Her lips were trembling, but she assured me she was going to tough it out and it wasn't a bother. Not once did she complain, and the pictures were worth it. Besides, I could tell Eric didn't mind at all keeping her warm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Danica and Dan

I really enjoy these two. I think refreshing is the word I'd use to describe being around them.
We went to the Falls because that's where Dan proposed to this beautiful young lady. I asked them to show me the exact spot, which in their case is very unique. See, it didn't quite go as planned, with Dan down on his knees in front of these majestic falls.
It was chilly outside, and Danica didn't want to get out of the car. She didn't know what he was thinking, coming out to the Falls to go for a walk, of all things, on such a chilly day. So, Dan did the next best thing. Right there in the parking lot, in the warmth of the car, he asked her to be his wife.
I loved it.
I hear about proposals while standing on top of the tower, or right down in front of the raging white water. But in the parking lot was a first.
They probably thought I was a little off my rocker when I told them we had to shoot it. Looking back, I think they'll really cherish those images, because it's not just about the spot. It's that moment of vulnerability. The anxious seconds before and during, holding your breath. It's the pause in between, that silence that can either lift you up and take your love to an entirely new level, and it's that sickening in your stomach of the alternative, the wind drooping out of the sails that could leave you wondering about the next step, if there even is a next step.
All of the emotion of that moment makes the spot, well, just a spot. What matters is the two people who were in that spot, and the decision of a lifetime.
So here they are, on the road to marriage. Literally, on the road, :)...

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Red Carpet

I was coming home from a late shoot in Sioux Falls and I got the call from my wife that the kids had decided they weren't going to have supper without me. No matter what, they were waiting for their Daddy, so I did my best to get home.

Coming up the road next to our house I looked over and saw them both outside waiting for me, with both dogs decorated in what looked like silk bows of ribbon tied around their collars.

That's pretty cool, I thought. Made my day, seeing them out their waiting for my truck to pop up over the hill. That would have been all I needed right there.

But then I pulled into our drive and was greeted by wife, who pointed out two signs on our doors. On one door was a sign from my girl, telling me to go around to the other door, just in case I might be coming in the wrong way. From the spelling, I'm guessing she was in quite a hurry.

On the other door was their greeting, along with some art work from my boy.

I opened the door to a purple satin "red carpet", and my kids tossing what was left of the flower petals from Mother's Day.

There were a dozen candles glowing and some soft music played in the background, my favorite band. They had sparkling cider in wine glasses, ready for toasting, and what I loved the most, our supper was tacos by candlelight. It was perfect.

I have no idea what I did to deserve it, but it was one of those moments I'll never forget.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Family?

So I'm minding my own business, sitting in my office working, and in walks a bunny, a dog, and a cat. What are the odds, right?
Anyway, I guess it was time for a little cutting loose with the family this morning.
Notice in the progression of the images how the two children are actually smiling, while the "adult" of the bunch, the bunny, really gets into her part :) Eventually it rubs off and the puppy in the center gave me a good howl while the cat meowed. Yep, folks.... that's my family. I take full ownership.

Gotta love 'em. They make even the slow days interesting. :)
Even our real puppy didn't know what to think, so she just barked at them.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Triple D

I have a list of Disciplines that I made, things in my life about me that I know in my heart I need to change or to have under control. Areas that I know I can improve.

I call it my Triple D list because of the title I gave it years ago.
It's called my Discpline-Day-Declaration.
Sounds pretty lofty and righteous, right? Yeah...well, here's the kicker, word for word, this is what I've scribbled at the top of my so-called "Declaration"

• 10/20/2007 - Triple D's, (that's when I created the list)
• tried to start March 20th, 2008
• and now revised September 15th, 2008, because I am a procrastinator who lacks discipline.....
• Today is September 21st, 2008, and I'm starting again, so help me God, because if I go a full year then I'm just stupid....
• and to answer that one, yet again, January 18th, 2009, we start again............
• and yet again, here I am, May 7th, 2009, thinking maybe it's best to tackle 1 discipline at a time??

Did you catch that last one? That's right. You know where I am after 567 days of my Discipline Day Declaration?? I'm working on DAY 3!
The point is, we don't give up. Satan's right there every day, ready and calculating his next opportunity to knock us down. He doesn't want us to succeed, and the rub is, he doesn't even want us to find ourselves on DAY 3! He would prefer that we just quit. Give up the list, throw it away, and consider ourselves unteachable, untrainable, and finally unavailable for Christ to work through us.
The amazing thing is, on DAY 1, Christ used His word to speak to me. On DAY 2 I got to talk about Christ to a couple....
and on DAY 3! WOW! DAY 3! He's already showed me at 5:30 this morning that my words were not complete with that couple, because while I witnessed to that couple, I didn't actually present the whole story, the Good News. He showed me that I needed to finish my witness, to take it a step further....AND THEN! THEN I got to be used by Him to have an amazing conversation, to fellowship with MY DAD, who lives hundreds of miles away!

How Great is Our God! :) He's beyond compare. He loves us THAT MUCH!

In February 2001 the Lord spoke to me through a prophet, and told me that if I would just set aside some time with the Holy Spirit, He had some things to show me, and to never go to Him in study without a tablet, a journal and a pen. Crazy, right?

Up until 3 days ago, 8 YEARS LATER, I fought that, and here are my excuses:

1. I'm a much faster and fluent typist than I am a writer by long-hand.
2. My penmanship stinks and I can't hardly read what I've written, even just after I've written it!
3. A tablet is for scribbling, drawing pictures, putting down abstract thoughts...kinda silly in my mind.
4. A journal is just time-consuming and bothersome and it's soooooooooo SLOW compared to just whipping out my thoughts on the computer.
5. Pens are just flat MESSY for a Lefty. We are always smearing the stupid ink with our hand and that darned binder always gets in the hard!

But you know what I figured out once I finally made myself available and obedient?

I'm a fast typist, sure, but I type too fast and think TOO highly of what I write. Because of that perspective, it's most-likely more of ME that I'm putting into words than Christ. I don't listen for instruction, because I'm too busy pouring out MY thoughts. I don't listen for Christ. (I can still hear my teachers in grade-school..."There's hearing, and then there's listening. Are you listening Danny??"

I don't have patience because I throw-up my words onto the screen, and wham-bam, I'm all done and moving on to the next order of business in my day. Also, when I'm on the computer and typing away to my heart's desire, I am inevitably distracted. An email pops up, I get curious about the origin of some word and go surfing and researching the Net until I find it, and before I know it, I'm just spinning my wheels.

The pen makes me slow down. It makes me much more careful of my words in the journal. It makes me choose them more carefully instead of writing a book, like I'm doing now. And even though I still think it's silly, I draw on that tablet. When I'm on the phone, my wife reminded me that I constantly doodle. If you look on ANY piece of paper in my office, you'll see some fancy doodle or scribbling. I can't help it. It's a part of me, and it's how I keep myself entertained. Don't know why and it sounds silly, but that's just me.

So, when I draw on that tablet, it makes me stop. It makes me open up my mind and my thoughts, and it provides obedience, which then allows room for instruction from Christ!

Isn't it amazing?
All these years, and God had the formula right there under my nose. His way of speaking to me, personally. His remedy. His cure for getting Dan Elliott out of the way so He could speak to my heart. He KNEW and He STILL KNOWS how I'm wired. How I work, and how I think is something He understands much more clearly than I will ever begin to fathom....Because He MADE me.

And He made YOU too! Isn't it a wonderful thing to comprehend that the words in Ephesians 2:10 are real?! It blows my mind :)

"For we are God's workmanship," the word in the original, poema, is where we get the word poem, "created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

His signature is there in all of us. It's in that couple, it's in that little baby girl's eyes in the post just below this one,
In me. In You, and It's a brand new day :)

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Day in the Life of Kayla

We just finished a Day-in-the-Life session for Kayla at Ben and Shari's home. The moment we walked in the door, Ben was busy putting together a new bike for his baby girl, following directions to the best of his new Dad/Superhero-ability.:)

Kayla was bouncing away on her momma's knee, although I think most of the bouncing was pure anticipation of getting her hands on her brand new, pink hotwheel.

We played around in her room, rocking in the rocking-chair that's been in the family for generations. After that there was still time for a few quick stories, and Kayla was intrigued by all the picture books. She helped turn every page, her eyes as big as saucers. Finally after a few minutes in her daddy's arms with a fresh bottle, she slipped off to Neverland.

Kari and I both shoot this kind of session, and I run video at the same time. The result is literally priceless and so much fun. Everything about the images and the video, every moment takes on such a personal and cozy feel. This is home...

It took alot of work to wrap the story up and finish before Mother's Day, but it was completely worth it to see Shari in tears one more time. :) There was a brand-new box of Kleenex ready and waiting.

Gotta tell ya folks, I love what God has given us the privilege to do.
The next few questions might seem a bit off topic, but their relevance actually has everything to do with this story. Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?
Do you know about what He did for us, have you asked Him into your life? Do you know where you'll spend your eternity? He came down here to us. He gave His everything on the cross and died for our sins, and three days later He rose again. He paid our price and gave us a way to Heaven. Do you believe?

The reason I ask is this. If life can be this beautiful here on earth, try with all your might, and you still won't have the right picture of the perfect Heaven and the masterpiece that He has planned.

Here's a few images, from just a slice of Heaven on earth.