My Best of 2011

2011 has passed, and today a new year has began. I thought it only fitting to post my “best” of 2011. For most of the year I owned a small point and shoot Canon Digital IXUS 950 IS.

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

My prodigal son & my little grandson come into our lives at the end of February under not-so-great circumstances. It was so lovely to spend time with them and to have my son live with us for 4 weeks.

MARCH – a month filled with stress & sadness. I was rushed to hospital twice in 2 weeks due to problems with my heart, and my prodigal son disappeared again. I only took 30 photos for the entire month as a result, and nothing was really worthy of posting in my opinion…

APRIL

Brisbane City from Southbank

MAY

JUNE

Brisbane City Hall

JULY

Cedar Creek Winery

AUGUST

My last “best of” with my Canon IXUS 950 IS

And the first with my brand new Canon EOS DSLR 1100D, purchased on August 18th 2011.

Since I bought my new camera it has been so hard to pick a favourite from each month, so perhaps a couple or a few?

SEPTEMBER

I have always loved macro photography.

And I rediscovered my passion for landscapes. This is my city, Brisbane, at dusk.

OCTOBER

Having a Canon 55-250mm telephoto zoom lens and a tripod gave me the ability to photograph a full moon for the first time ever (and on manual setting).

The same lens allows me to take shots like this – I call it my “stalker lens”. There is so much about this photo that I love!!

And my favourote macro for October.

NOVEMBER

We took 2 day trips up the D’Aguillar Range to Mt Nebo.

DECEMBER

I took a 10 day R&R trip to visiti my parents on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. My favourite sunset of 2011 from Mt Martha beach.

For Christmas, my husband Michael surprised me with a Canon 50mm portrait lens. I am discovering a whole new world of sharpness in my portraits & learning to use the manual setting.

I LOVE these portraits of my youngest 2 children, Ben (20) & Bec (19), taken on Christmas day. I am incredibly proud of these two young adults.

And finally, I owe this man so much.

We have been married for only 2 years (Dec 5, 2009). Between us we have 9 children – Sarah (27), Amy (23), Daniel (22), Ben (20), Tamsyn (20), Bec (19), Kathryn (18), Jess (16) and Lizzie (14).

The last 2 years have been a rollercoaster ride and we almost didn’t make it. There have been enormous challenges of sickness & not much health, and not a lot of “better” (until recently) & plenty of “worse”. But through his persistence, determination and willingness to make some enormous changes in his own life (and his refusal to allow me to walk away) and through my own soul searching, my decision to focus on thankfulness and writing my Gratitude Journal which has enabled me to see life from a whole new perspective. It has been incredibly difficult for us both BUT we have made it by the grace of God!!

Here’s to 2012… May the new year bring an abundance of laughter, many wonderful memories and, for those photographer friends of mine, many great photography opportunities!!

This week I am grateful for:

65.  Warm Summer days

66.  Time to give thanks.

67.  Time to enjoy His gifts.

68.  Time with friends.

69.  Long deep breaths to calm in stress.

70.  Hugs & good night kisses from the “man-child”.

71.  The celebration of Christmas & remembering the reason for the season.

72.  Shortbread.

73.  Christmas pudding.

74.  Laughter and stories around the dinner table.

75.  Grandchildren and the hope of seeing them one day.

76.  Drives in the country.

 

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The girls didn’t want to decorate the tree until I arrived home from my 10 day R & R break in Melbourne. So we decorated rather late this year!

Of course the lights had to be tested before being wrapped around the tree… and what a great opportunity for some horizontal macro shots!!

Joy to the world…

Let there be peace on earth…

I love the way the light catches the glass  ornament and creates a decoration effect on it.

And I am quite happy with the finished product and I have since dealt with the gaps…

It was great fun decorating and of course I loved the photographing!!

As we all prepare for Christmas, as we plan the day & the meal and buy gifts for our loved ones…  we must never lose sight of the “Reason for the Season”.  If not for God’s greatest gift of His Son to mankind, we would not be who we are today. For without Him we can do nothing.

May God bless you and your family at this special time and may you never forget the ultimate gift given to us so we may live. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Sunset on Mt Martha Beach

On Thursday evening we drove down to Mt Martha beach to photograph the sunset as a rain front was developing across the bay in the Geelong/Queenscliff area.
As we drove down the hill towards the beach, we were greeted by this stunning scene:

Once on the beach, I was in my element. This is possibly one of my most favourite sunsets.

Notice the line of gold on the waters edge in the last image?

And for those who may wonder, there is no editing at all… all my photographs are SOOC unless otherwise stated. The sky and sea colours REALLY were that amazing!!

This week I am grateful for:

55. Holidays on the Mornington Peninsula with my parents

56. Beaches

57. Summer

58. Life to live

59. Love to give

60. Brothers

61. Sisters

62. Nieces & nephews

63. Roast dinners

64. Fresh fruit salad

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

As all my blogger friends in the US celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I am reminded of my decision to live a life of thanks and to give thanks EVERY DAY.

Earlier this year, I came across a brilliant book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and her blog called A Holy Experience. I was challenged to start my own Gratitude Journal which can be found at the top of my blog. I have not managed to record something every day as I had planned BUT I have chosen every day to find something good.

Many of the photography challenges these last couple of weeks have had a theme of gratitude and I have been encouraged to take up the challenge again of recording the things I am grateful for daily, rather than every week. It really is amazing how choosing to live a life of thanks can change your focus. Keeping a gratitude list has been scientifically proven to decrease anxiety, enrich relationships & make you 25% happier! These last few weeks I have seen the proof of that in my own life.

You see, I live daily with chronic illness. I have multiple health problems; 2 heart conditions, Ankylosing Spondylitis, fibromyalgia, nerve damage to my arms and my right leg (from a car accident in 2009), chronic fatigue… I live with severe pain on a daily basis. I am told I hardly complain BUT I used to cry out to God daily asking, “Why me??”

I raised my 4 children alone for 12 years (they are all adults now); my eldest son is a prodigal, my youngest daughter suffers anorexia… and I continued to cry, “Why me??”

My new marriage was falling apart after just 12 months and I was having huge struggles with my 5 step-daughters… and I cried, “Why me??”

I wanted to live daily with Thanksgiving… I wanted to live Eucharisteo!!

MORE THAN ANYTHING, I wanted life to be different, to be happy in the mess of ill health, lost children, a struggling second marriage, problems with step-children… I knew that the only way to be happy was to live in THANKS. So since April, I have been counting. I became slack for a while and only counted one a week but I am getting there! After reading Ann’s blog over the last week of her trip to Ecuador with Compassion, I was challenged again to get back on track with counting the things I am grateful for daily.

Many of the circumstances in my life are still the same. And YES, living in thanks DOES change your life, decrease anxiety, improve relationships and make you happier (maybe more than 25%!!). Living in Thanks, Eucaristeo, Gracias… and I am happy again.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I am thankful for my, now even LARGER, family. I am the middle child of 5 children, and have 4 children of my own, a son-in-law and almost 2 grandchildren (my oldest son has an 18 month old son, and a daughter due in December). My husband is the middle child of 5 children and has 5 daughters of his own.

My beautiful family (taken at my eldest daughter’s Sarah’s wedding on 27th March 2010)

Back – My sons, Ben (now 20) & Daniel (22). Front – Bec (19), me, Sarah (27), Oscar (Sarah’s husband), and my wonderful parents.

My husband and his 5 daughters (taken on our wedding day 5th December, 2009)

From L to R: Jessica (now 16), Amy (23), Michael, Tamsyn (20), Lizzie (14), Kathryn (18).

Michael & me (May 2011) – Photo credit to RAD Photography (my daughter, Bec)

My amazing best friend Nat & her husband Greg (Sept 2011) – Photo credit to RAD Photography (Bec)

 

And also thankful for more:

45. For rain to soak the dry earth.

46. For rainbows after the rain, signalling His promise.

47. For joy.

48. For 5 more daughters to love.

49. For time to breathe.

50. For time to love.

51. For time to laugh.

52. For time to cry.

53. For time to live fully in Him.

54. For blessings in time of need.

Giving Thanks

Last Thursday, my husband and I took an impromptu drive up into the D’Aguilar Range, north-west of Brisbane. It is a beautiful National Park area with remote gorges, open eucalypt woodlands, gum forests, subtropical rainforests, spectacular views and plenty of wildlife.

Here is one of the beautiful views taken from Jolly’s Lookout.

As I looked out on this beautiful scenery, I was reminded of God’s unfailing love, His incredible patience, His blessing of grace and His great faithfulness that is extended to us. We don’t deserve it, but He gives it anyway.

This particular day marked a HUGE turning point for my husband and I in our relationship. And what better way to spend the afternoon than time alone enjoying & marvelling at God’s creation.

We don’t celebrate “Thanksgiving” in Australia but this year, due to my health & difficult family circumstances, I set myself the challenge to look for things to be grateful for everyday. I bought myself a wonderful book called “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp which encourages reader’s to create their own Gratitude Journal. I have included my own here. I am also following Ann’s blog A Holy Experience and I try to link up with her on Mondays & Wednesdays.

Some days/weeks it has been a real struggle, especially with the stressful situations we have experienced as a family. I haven’t managed to write something every day over the last few months, as originally planned, but I am VERY slowly adding to my list.

I am however trying to see positives in every day, even if I don’t write them down. It’s amazing how changing your focus can lift your mood.

Thanking Him for:

37.     For the blessing of new found friendships.

38.     For beauty all around.

39.     For drives in the mountains.

40.     For laughter.

41.     For reconciliation with loved ones.

42.     For new beginnings.

43.     For forgiveness.

44.     For His love, patience, grace and faithfulness even though we don’t deserve it.

Quotography: Sunset

I am struggling to journal at the moment – I have been for quite some time but my peace & comfort come from my photography. It’s my happy place where I can disappear and just focus on capturing God’s creation and my gratitude for the beauty he has surrounded me with.

You are welcome to view my other blog on blogger where I post all of my photography.

The URL is: http://amothersfaithhopeandlove.blogspot.com/

Quotography – Gratitude