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Catching Up

January is almost gone. Yes, another month passed and it seems as if the older I get the faster things go. I’m not sure how it works, but when I was in Jr. High, it seemed as if time almost stopped. I remember looking at the clock tick forward, on school days, and watching and watching and watching… tick… tock…….. tick. Now, I have a daughter who will be 17 in a matter of months.

I know there are many of you out there laughing and thinking to yourselves, “he better buckle up.” I know. Laugh. Enjoy.

I’m on the ride of a lifetime. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so blessed. I have a wonderful wife, beautiful children… a job. I get to partner with one of the world largest Christian Humanitarian Relief groups known as World Vision, to help make a difference in the lives of children all over.

I’m buckled up.

I’m trying a 366 photo of the day project this year. Here are a few of the ones I’ve liked so far.

You can view the entire gallery by clicking the link below.
Picture of the Day 2012

As February nears, I will be sorry that my Starbucks January mug with free coffee will expire. With that in mind, I’d better head out and fill up my cup.

peace.
johno~

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I really wish…

Well, it’s a new year and although I had planned to publish something on January 1, I suppose it’s good I didn’t.

I really wish I didn’t have that little voice inside bad talking me all the time. I’m not sure if you know what I’m talking about or not… It’s the voice that says, “no one cares to read this… you published and “mispeled” that last word… idiot. How can you even think that you have something good to say? If you write that, people might think your drunk…” and so on and so on.

I so enjoy writing. I’ve only ever wanted to write and share my thoughts to someone out there in www land or perhaps leave behind a boat load of things to share at my memorial. who knows. I just become overwhelmed with the idea that there are people or perhaps even one person that might misunderstand my writing and think different of me. (again, I ASSUME it’s negatively different) I’ve discovered that I want to please people and I’ve come to know it’s my kryptonite. It shuts me down… silences my keyboard… silences my thoughts.

I don’t want to say, “I don’t care what people think.” because I do. Perhaps I shouldn’t… but I do.

I’m a minister, husband, father, friend. I’m tired of keeping things to myself in fear of, “fill-in-the-blank” this year. It’s time to remove the tape. I hope to write like never before. Perhaps there will be epic posts, perhaps most similar to the B films of the 50′s. Whatever may come, if you are reading this, buckle up. I think this will be the most critical year of my, almost, 42 years of life. I can in no way see that things will remain the same as they have been for me.

So here we go… three days into the new year and it begins… again.

peace.
johno~

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June Desktop

Well another month has come and gone… So it’s time again for another desktop. I asked in a tweet, “what should it be?” The two responses I got were, “Sunset” and “Warm.”

So, I dove WAY back into some of my first photos. This was taken not long after I bought my first point and shoot.

It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst… I just hope everyone knows, you don’t have to have a really expensive camera to take nice pictures.

Anywho… Hope you enjoy this months “retro” desktop. You can download it by clicking HERE!

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True North Helping Hands and I

Well, I turn 41 in just a few days and I will have the pleasure of spending it in Ensenada, Mexico shooting photos for a ministry group that helps build schools for displaced indigenous people. True North Helping Hands. Unfortunately my family will not be there with me. Last year, I was in Uganda on my 40th birthday and Hannah was there with me… not this time. It seems to be the trend that the older you get the less important birthdays are. What once was, “YEAH! I’M OLDER!” becomes, “yeah… I’m old… er.”I still believe that my 40′s are going to be the best years of my life… and of course I’ll stand firm on that… until I turn 50.Yet, one thing I know, I’m living a wonderful life. I have a beautiful family and I know they give more than I can ever know.So, if you think about it, lift my family up in prayer while we are apart.I hope to have some images to share with you soon from my trip to the Dominican Republic with World Vision. They have posted some of them on their Child Ambassador website HERE.peace.johno~

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What am I thinking?

I’m not sure I’ve ever done this to a photo before or not… However, I keep thinking there should be a thought attached to this picture as in, “What am I thinking?” I love the old retro feel of this picture, but I just can’t put my finger on it. What about you? If you could give this picture a photo bubble with her thoughts or words, what would it be?Remember, this little girl belongs to a Christian family and it is an Easter photo.peace.johno~

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My King

Today is Good Friday. Hard to imagine good in so much suffering. However, in His death, He crushes our sin. That’s Good News.

Isaiah 531 Who has believed our messageand to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,and like a root out of dry ground.He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.3 He was despised and rejected by men,a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.Like one from whom men hide their faceshe was despised, and we esteemed him not.4 Surely he took up our infirmitiesand carried our sorrows,yet we considered him stricken by God,smitten by him, and afflicted.5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,and by his wounds we are healed.6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,each of us has turned to his own way;and the LORD has laid on himthe iniquity of us all.7 He was oppressed and afflicted,yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,so he did not open his mouth.8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.And who can speak of his descendants?For he was cut off from the land of the living;for the transgression of my people he was stricken.[b]9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,and with the rich in his death,though he had done no violence,nor was any deceit in his mouth.10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,and though the LORD makes[c] his life a guilt offering,he will see his offspring and prolong his days,and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.11 After the suffering of his soul,he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,and he will bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]because he poured out his life unto death,and was numbered with the transgressors.For he bore the sin of many,and made intercession for the transgressors.

Peace.johno~the above image is an original painting I made for the Renovatus church. Combined in this painting are images from Jerusalem, Dominican Republic, and Arizonia and an image of my faceif you would like to see a full resolution, CLICK HERE.

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Multnomah Falls, Oregon

I wish I could say a lot about this shot. It’s not the best it could be, since I forgot to bring my tripod and thus, ended up handholding my camera with image stabilization on, just praying to get that flowing blur on the water and not the trees and rocks.I must say, there was a lot I did wrong taking this photo and perhaps that might be a conversation on, “Important things to keep in mind when shooting waterfalls… and panoramics… and long exposures… and wet locations… and tourist.”But, for now, the photograph is three horizontal shots stitched together with a lot of detail post work in photoshop, using onOne photo tools 2.6.I’m not sure what it is that really grabs me, but I like it and I think it’s worth sharing. Perhaps it’s the retro feel that helps forgive the camera shake and the blur in the photo. Anytime I can save a photo with blur, I’m happy. It just might be that I got to photograph a beautiful waterfall that makes me happy.Needless to say, never give up on a photograph that’s not perfect. With a little time and TLC, you might be able to squeeze something wonderful out of it.For what it’s worth, never give up on something that’s not perfect… Take some time with it and you might be very pleased.Peace.johno~

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Well, here we go again.

It’s time to pack my bags again. This time I’m off to the Dominican Republic with World Vision. My wonderful family has allowed me to share my gift of photography with others and I’m very grateful for them allowing this… Especially my son Adam who will be turning FIVE on March 21st.This map represent where I’ve been and where I’m going. I thought about putting a, where I would like to go… but, I didn’t.It’s funny… When I was a child, my mother would always say, “If it be the Lords will, we’ll see you later.” Or, “I’m planing on seeing you if it be the Lords will.” I suppose she has this Bible verse on her mind when she says it…

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”James 4:13-15

I find it funny that I think of this only when I have big travels but shouldn’t this include everyday? It’s almost like only praying to God for the BIG things and thinking He wants little or nothing of the small things in our lives. How arrogant we can be somethings.So, having grown older and wiser I would like to say, “If it is the Lord’s will,I will do this or that on the map this year and everything in between”LORD, I don’t know where this is going or how it all works out but lead me Lord into the path that never fails.I hope to be able to blog while on my trip, but I know that it’s not always possible to do so.Now I’m off to pack and gather the few things I need before the 19th.peace.johno~

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Happy Thanksgiving.

World Vision ADP GuatemalaIt’s been my 40th Thanksgiving. It’s been a very different year for me. I’ve experienced wonderful joys and difficult sorrows. I have so much to be thankful for. If I were to begin writing about all of them, I’m sure my season of life would end before I was able to pen every one.However, today, I am blessed to be caught up in the hands of grace found in Jesus Christ. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a powerful family that lifts me up in prayers that covers my multiple sins. I’m blessed to have shared over 18 years of thanksgiving with my wonderful wife and I’m thankful for beautiful children.Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Find Him in the difficult places where He is seeking to restore. Go there and be with Him.Peace.Johno~

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Blurred.

It’s the only thing I can think of… blur. This last month has been a blur full of ups and downs. I’m so thankful for all those who have stood by our family in thoughts and prayers. This last Monday it had been 30 days since my wife’s mother passed away. Blur.

A mix of things moving so fast and the kind of blur that comes when you first wake up in the morning when you’re trying to read your alarm clock, hoping it says 7:15 AM and not 9:15 AM.As far as writing this blog, I feel like it’s 9:15 AM and I’m late. Your heart races to get ready to go because you realize you should have been somewhere an hour ago. Skip the shower, not the brushing of teeth. Forget breakfast, the most important meal of the day… I’ve got to go. Every attempt to arrive at your appointment is full of detours, red lights and that fellow driving in front of you that seems to have no plans to be anywhere until December 12th… 2012!That’s how I’ve felt. So here I am, back at the keyboard typing away wondering, “Where in the world do I start?”Why not with photography? I’m reminded that not every image looks good sharp. True, everyone wants sharper images and they spend lots of money to get that result, but there is something to be “looked” at in images that are blurred. I’ve posted a few images that I would consider more “artsy” than anything else. These images are ranked in my top images. (Which means I have them saved as desktop screen images).I’ve heard and seen a lot of frustration with images being blurred or out of focus (OOF). Some of these OOF and blurred shots could really be something more if you spent a few moments thinking of new ways to see them. This could be converting the image to black and white, over saturating the colors, adding film grain or square cropping the image.I would love to see some examples of images you’ve reworked. True, some images will not cut it, but you never know unless you try.This is what I’m trying to do with my blurred month. I’m really hoping to get something usable out of the entire thing. I’m hoping for beautiful art and not something I just throw away.peace.johno~

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TOMS one for one

I’m always looking for a good cause… Something unique to support that makes a difference for issues relating to poverty and justice. Not long ago, I looked into a company called TOMS shoes. What a great idea! TOMS shoes, of course… sells shoe. However, when you buy a pair, they donate one pair for a child in a third world country. That’s right, BOGO! You buy shoes and someone else who really needs shoes, gets a pair too… Every time you look at your feet you can know there’s another pair out there somewhere on a child who otherwise might not be able to afford shoes. It’s cool.So, are you looking for a new pair of shoe’s? Try TOMS shoes. A great way to give and receive all at once. For every pair of shoes you buy, TOM’s shoes will donate one pair to a child in a third world country. They are on the edge of having donated ONE MILLION pairs of shoes and think that goal could be reached by September. How great that would be.Click on the image below and you’ll jump over to TOMS shoes. You could be a part of ONE MILLION people who stepped in to make a difference in the world. Hannah and I are enjoying our TOMS shoes and we know you will to. So take a moment to visit the site, read the story, pick a style and make your mark. I know it’s overwhelming sometimes to think about the number of children who don’t have shoes… Don’t get so caught up in the tragedy, get caught in the hope. ONE FOR ONE. Sounds like a good deal to me.Have a great day shopping… and making a difference.TOMS Shoespeace.johno~

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International Guild of Visual Peacemakers

I’m trying to use my powers for hope and not hurt. Photography has been a wonderful tool for me to help bring awareness to many about the world we live in. I’ve been very blessed to travel to several third world cultures, independently and with World Vision using photography to tell a different story… a story of hope. Everyone is created equal in the eyes of God… I’m amazed at how so many never see that.Later this week I will be meeting with a friend who will help me define some ideas for a website on how to help people “see” better the opportunities to serve people around them. However, until I get my peas in a row, there’s a group of photographers with a similar core value that I have who want to use photography to help redefine the world we live in through the images we receive.I would encourage you, if you are a person who takes photos and has a soul for poverty and justice issues, that you check out the International Guild of Visual PeacemakersVisual PeacemakersStop by and look around. It’s brand new, but has good potential to bring humanitarian photography into new light.peace.johno~CONTEST UPDATE!I realized I didn’t give a deadline for my contest, so I’m shooting for this Friday, August 27th at 12:00 PM, Pacific Time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s OK… I forgive you. Check out my post here for the story and the contest.

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Lead, read or get out of the way.

I’ve always felt like a leader, but… the weight of just following or doing nothing drags me down to the pace of a snail… I would really rather watch TV and I hate that. So what makes a good leader? How do you fight against the drag that keeps you down and out?Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says, “You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate with and the books you read.” He also says, “Readers are leaders.”So I began to wonder… how have I changed in the past five years? What books have I read and what kind of people have I met?I can’t think of a bigger insult in life than attending my twenty-year class reunion and hear from my old classmates, “JOHNO! You haven’t changed a bit.” Would that depress you? Sure, I want the same heart and spirit, but I hope I’m a different person than the one I was in High School. I want to hear, “I knew you could do this.” or “I’m glad you followed your heart.” Perhaps that’s why I didn’t go to my twenty-year class reunion.I admit I’m better at the “meeting people” thing than I am at the “reading” thing, but I try. I have several books stacked next to me, as I type this post, that are unread. “Safely Home,” by Randy Alcorn, “From Eternity to Here,” by Frank Viola, (Thanks Jerry) and Donald Miller’s book, “Through Painted Deserts.” I can image that each one of these books holds incredible wonders that could shape or change my life. I believe this, since I’ve read several books from all these authors before. Each one has challenged me to rethink, imagine and grow in my understanding of life and things around me.Each of the books I’ve read, outside of “Schindler’s List,” (which was a better movie than it was a book), have helped carry me through the story of my life, I am reshaped by the words these writers form. I am crafted into a sculpture of art and beauty. Each book I read is like the chisel that crafted the statue of David or Venus… (although I wish I had the statue David’s body… That’s one obvious thing that has changed over the years). Through the books I’ve read and the people I’ve met, I am better at the end of each day. Can you imagine life without written words or people? Neither can I. My best guess is… that would be hell.I believe this is one of the best cases for Christ that is overlooked. Christ came to redeem everyone and to establish a people to be in community with Him and one another. In Christ, those people are known as the “church.” Our very nature our design was to be in community with one another and not alone. Even a hermit carries “great works” of literature or someone else’s, “8 important things you need to know,” survival guide. He doesn’t come to that knowledge alone. We were not meant to be alone.So, what will you read today? Who will you meet? The outcome of these questions will decide on who you and I will be tomorrow. Who will lead and who will get out of the way.Peace.Johno~1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.(Source: Jerold Jenkins. www.jenkinsgroupinc.com)

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Don’t change your photography, pick it up.

I most likely will never be known as one of the top “photo blogs” for student or aspiring photographers and that’s OK. In a world where it seems as if everyone owns a camera of some kind, it also seems as if everyone is now a photographer, and I’m OK with that too. So, in the world of “Big Brother” with cameras everywhere, what makes your image different from anyone else?I can’t tell you how many Sunset images I’ve seen in my life time, but there once was a time when a good sunset photo made me “oohhhh” and “awwwwww.” But now, from expensive DSLR’s to small compact point-n-shoots, everyone shoots sunsets and it’s hard for me to fall in love with something that everyone has. Like it’s lost value. I sometimes feel like an adult who walks over a penny, because, it’s a penny and not worth the effort of bending down to pocket the small value. However, when a child sees a shiny or even a dull copper coin they act as if they’ve hit the jackpot… The gods have smiled on them and they know it’s going to be an incredible day. With a small amount of effort and a ton of enthusiasm, they bend down and pick it up the coin. At the end of the day, their efforts truly have paid off and my pockets are still empty because I didn’t take the time to act of something of value. There is value, we just have to “pick it up.”Taking better photos can simply be, taking a moment of time to “pick up the pennies.” I recently watched a video by a guy who shot an entire model shoot with an iPhone, which proves you don’t have to have great equipment to do good work. Any device that captures an image will do. You just have to make an effort and think a bit different. The guy with the iPhone used hot lights to light his model and a touch up artist for the final product… I’m not saying you have to do all of that, but make some effort to see what you want to photograph from a perspective that’s different from the next guy.Here are a couple things you might try.Shoot from a low angle.Bend down and pick up the penny. You’d be surprised by the difference an image makes when you “get down.” Most people walk around shooting pictures from their physical eye level and because of that, many people with cameras miss incredible photo opportunities. Break from the average five foot nine photo shot and get on your knees or better yet, put your ear to the ground and click away.Go wide. Here’s an example of three images that I stitched together using photoshop.There’s plenty of free software that can help you “stitch” a photo together. Wide angle lenses are fun, but can be expensive, unless you pick up a bunch of pennies. In order to get that wide angle shot, take three or four photos across your subject and then use your favorite photo program or the one that came with you printer to stitch them together. You’ll end up with something no one else has… because no one else took the time.Sure it takes a small amount of effort, but that effort will make you stand above the rest and you’ll start feeling better about your photography. Just my two cents worth… you can take it or leave it.peace.johno~

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Lucky Penny

I remember that Sunday morning well. It was the day I discovered I was selfish and that a mother could be disappointed in her son.I wasn’t a bad kid… As a young boy, growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, very near East Compton, we attended a little conservative church in Paramount. It’s hard to think of anything as “little” or “conservative” in California, but these were the 70’s… it was a little different back then. The church we went to was a church’s, church. You know, like a man’s, man. Everything about it was classic 1950’s Andy Griffith church. Wooden pews, pulpit in the middle of the stage… a wooden hymn board that logged attendance, offering totals and the page numbers of the songs that would be sung during the morning service. It even had the Jordan River painted on the wall above the baptistery… (I recently traveled to the Jordan River and I must say, that painting above the baptistery looked nothing like the Jordan river in Israel). Lastly, sandwiched between pulpit and pews was a wooden table with the words, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”Among the many things we did during service, each week our little church took part in the Lords Supper. The “Lord’s Supper,” in my opinion, was and is today, one of the hardest things for any child growing up in church. It’s the time where confirmed believers get to hear about and remember Jesus’ sacrifice. Believers break unleavened bread, which represents Christ’s broken body on the cross and drink grape juice from a cup, which represents Christ’s blood that was shed for us. I’ll not go into much more detail theologically here… There’s far more theology and doctrine in the small definition above than I’m willing to give. However, I would like to share with you the view of a young boy who sat week after week in wooden pews on Sunday morning during communion.It seemed as if breakfast came WAY to early on Sunday mornings… There was hardly any time to enjoy a bowl of cereal and watch cartoons. Which was fine, because Sunday morning didn’t have the cartoons like Saturday morning did… but that’s another story. Anyhow, after our quick breakfast, my mother would gather my two sisters and I to the car and we would begin our journey to church. On occasion, only if we had time, we would stop by the corner market on our way to church and grab a treat. I’m still not sure why we stopped, but on occasion, we did. I remember walking into the corner market that housed nine foot tall shelves of candy, chocolates and treats. I knew they were nine feet tall because they towered above my head like the felt images of David standing against the giant Goliath that I had seen in Sunday school. My mom would reach to the top of these nine foot shelves and grab a roll of mints or a pack of gum, usually juicy fruit, buy it, and then race back to the car and head towards church.I admit, I like Juicy Fruit gum, but my favorite was “Fruit Stripe” gum. You know, the one with the Zebra. “Fruit stripe chewing gum for kids in five juicy flavors: cherry, lemon, lime, mixed fruit and orange?” Yup, that’s the one. It was always a treat to get Fruit Stripe gum. But this Sunday, the day I discovered I was selfish, there was not stopping at the corner store. It was just a drive to church.We went to Sunday school, made our formal greetings between class and church service and then the songs began, which meant no talking, it was time to take your seat. I knew the routine… Two songs, prayer, song… communion, sermon, song, a long prayer and then we get to go home and play. I made it past the two songs, prayer, song part of the service and like clockwork, my stomach knew that there was about to be food passing by known by all as communion. Ugh! An unfed stomach can make a lot of noise in a young boy. Especially when he opens his mouth. Oh the cruelty of passing around crackers and grape juice in small cups for adults and not for kids. I would have believed anything you told me to get my hands on one of those delicious morsels of unleavened goodness. And the mini cups of grape juice… I mean, how cool were those little cups? We didn’t have anything like that at home.As my childhood nerves were about to be shot, at the anticipation of communion, my mother suddenly distracted me with more pennies than my two small hands could hold. She told me to hold these pennies for the offering that would soon be collected AFTER communion. She told me that if I behaved I could keep some pennies for myself and we could go to the store after church.I wish you could have seen it. I sat there more quite than a tree that falls in the forest when nobody is around… like the sound of one hand clapping… I didn’t move or say a word. My hands clenched those copper gems of Abe Lincoln as they seemed to burst between my short fat fingers. I knew I had about a million dollars… just enough to buy some Fruit Stripe gum. The cracker and juice cup passed without me breaking my gaze on my new fortune… and then it happened.The check was due and the plate, which was passed around for the offering, was headed down my row. My mother held before me the collection plate, which was shiny like gold with red felt on the bottom center. She gave me the “look” which was the green light to place some pennies into the collection plate. I’m not sure if it happened quickly or not, but it seemed like a loooong time to me. This beautiful round metal plate hovered in front of me like a UFO waiting to lock its tractor beam on my pennies. I placed one of my clinched fist over the red target and dropped them… “CLANK… CLANK! The two pennies I had managed to drop, one at a time, hit the side metal rim and bounced into the middle where other coins, pieces of paper and even some DOLLAR bills where.My mother gave me the “look.”I placed my other hand over this round treasure chest and dropped a couple more, hitting the felt and making much less noise than before.I didn’t think it was possible, but my mother gave me the “look” again and it was worse than the first.It suddenly clicked in my small head that she intended for me to give most of what was in my hands to this plate and keeping only a few pennies for myself. I looked up at her as she held the shiny gold plate, I sat back in my seat and put my hands in my lap… holding all the pennies close, minus the four I had dropped into the offering plate. Who could be mad at me? I didn’t even get the cracker and juice cup… why did I have to pay for it? I had bigger plans… something better than crackers and tiny cups of grape juice. (although, I really like grape juice) I would soon have my own pack of Fruit Stripe gum.Then my mother passed the plate on.I knew what I had done was wrong. My mother’s look was different. Moments before she had given me something with expectation. I think she was looking forward to seeing me dump a handful of pennies into the offering plate. When I didn’t… well, her disappointment showed and I knew it in my heart. I clutched my pennies… I thought, “I’ll share some of my gum with my friends.” My head sank low into my chest. My two fists full of coins seemed more heavy than before. My hands were sweating and the tight grip I had began to ache my fingers. I wasn’t sure how I could hold on to them much longer. Then something else happened. My mother opened her purse and pulled out a brand new package of Fruit Stripe gum. My hands were so full, I couldn’t have grabbed for the package of gum even if I wanted to. Something was happening and I could feel it in my bones. I was selfish.Now, I know there shouldn’t be any talking when the preacher is preaching, but my mother started talking to me in church. I’m not sure if there was anyone else in that little white church building at that moment, but my mom said to me, “God has given you everything… He wants you to be a giver back. When you hold things too tight, God cannot give you anything else because your hands are closed.” I’m not sure if she sang it or spoke it, but she told me that, “Love is like a lucky penny, hold it tight and you won’t have any. Give it away and you’ll have plenty. You’ll end up having more.”I wish I could have dropped every single penny to the ground. It might not sound like much of a story, but it was a colossal shaping for a young boy like me. It changed my story.I’ll never forget that moment in church. By the grace of my mom, I was given a chance to give more of my plunder to the offering after church. I was also given an orange piece of Fruit Stripe gum. I think I ended up with the whole pack, because no one else in my family likes it. Because of that day, I want to always remember to give. Every time I give with an open hand, God gives me more than ever before.Let’s be givers. Not because we get back… Let’s give because we were made to be givers.Peace.Johno~CONTEST ALERT!So here’s the deal… are you living with closed fists or open hands? It’s time for you and I to share what gifts God has given us.The contest I’m offering is this: you tell me what gifts God has given you and how you can share them and I’ll add your name in the drawing bucket. If you win, you’ll get two prizes. One for you and another you can use for a giveaway on your blog or just give it to a friend.THE PRIZE – TWO (2) original unframed, signed photographs from my recent trip to Uganda.Here’s what to do:Leave a comment in this post with your “name” and “your gift/talent” that you would share and I’ll add your name to the bucket. Comment as much as you like, but only one comment will be selected with your name. If you would like a double shot at winning, then send one of your friends over here to leave a comment. If they win they just might share with you the second prize. If you would really like one more “extra” shot at getting your name in the hat, join me on twitter. lightexposure. If you’ve already hooked up with me on twitter, then retweet this post and I’ll throw your name in one more time.I hope this is clear, but if it’s not, shoot me an email.

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I’m illegitimate.

Just the other day I received an email from a single mother who thanked me for sharing about my life as a child who grew up with no father. Yes, I am illegitimate. A child of the 70’s which seems to be better than a child from the 60’s… or not. I was born and grew up in a time when women’s rights were coming to their peak. Women burned their bra’s in the streets and held up high, black and white signs for N.O.W. and equal rights… No wonder it could be easily overlooked that an unwed woman could give birth to a child and it not turn a conservative head. The time of “Leave it to Beaver” was gone and family dynamics were changing fast. There would now be sons and daughters who would grow up with no father in the home.My heart goes out to all the single parents I know. It is and never will be easy for a single parent fulfill rolls that God intended for both male and female. My mother had to be “all things” to my sisters and me growing up. Not only did she have to provide for us financially, she disciplined, cooked, nurtured, kissed our scrapes and bruises… She fulfilled more than was ever asked of her and she did the best she could.I learned a lot from my mother and I learned nothing from my father. Well, other than, “how not to be a father,” since he was never in the picture… but, there were other men who were. I’m not talking about the small handful of men my mother dated early on in my life. Yes, my mother dated and brought home a few candidates for us kids to meet and approve. None of them survived the premeditated assaults by my sisters and myself. These candidates never made it past the “black smoke” and our plans of destruction were as plotted and planned as D Day itself. It was bloody, literally sometimes and in the end, every name was crossed off as not good enough.No, the men I’m talking about are the men that I saw when my mother took me to church. Most of them were married and had families but they took the time to notice a little boy who had no father. I cannot list the countless men who exampled right “manly” or rather, Godly behavior to me. What I saw and heard in them was a life that was meant to be so much more. They took their time and pointed me in a direction and gave me a push. I imagine that some didn’t even know I was watching… but I was… I was watching and it shaped my life of what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. It lead me into a relationship with Jesus. Now, that’s life.What about you? Have you been shaped by people around you? Have you watched or been thankful for someone who shared their story, pointed you in a direction and gave you a push? If there was ever a time for good examples and encouragement now is the time. Think about it for a moment… Do you know you are being watched? How are you living your life? What’s important to you right now?How you answer could change the world. It might of already happened. You might not know it was something you said or did, but it could make a difference in the life of one person and that’s powerful.The picture above was taken in a small village near the boarder Congo. In a culture where women take charge of children care, nurturing and such, I saw this man holding a sleeping child. I’m not sure if this man was ever held by his father, I never was, but what I saw shaped my life. I want to be a father who has the time to hold a sleeping child. To me there was so much peace in the father pictured above. I want to be that kind of father and I know his children and the children of that church will too. I don’t know if he even knew I was watching, but he made a difference in the life of a 38 year old fatherless child.Peace.Johno~

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Don’t you wish you could?

Not long ago I wrote about getting the right ingredients in your photography to help make a successful image. But, that’s not true for every shot. There are some things you cannot plan. Instead, they just happen. When you do take that shot, you might not even know what you have until you take the time to look closer. Photos can change your life and maybe… no one else’s.I remember a story told to me a while back about a man who was visiting a museum. He sat on a red cushioned bench in front of a masterpiece that covered the ivory painted walls. There was very little clutter to distract him from the brushstrokes of the creation that captured him for hours. One painting… hours of awe and enjoyment… as he gazed at the creator’s detail in every brush stroke of color.After hours of enjoyment, another man, in a gray flannel shirt, worked his way though the museum and found himself next to the man on the red cushioned bench. The man in gray, who just arrived, stared a few seconds at the painting. His body screaming impatience, his converse tapping and shifting, said to the man on the red cushioned bench, “Well, I don’t see anything… Do you?” The man on the bench who had been living every brushstroke for the last few hours said to the impatient fellow, “Don’t you wish you could see something?”Some my photographs are like that… I see something wonderful and no one else does and I want you to know… that it’s OK. It’s art… story… it’s personal. One of my favorite photographs of ALL TIME is the one above. I will tell you right now, it is a bigger story to me than the image you see and that’s OK. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time I shot this picture, other than I was taking a picture of a child on a dirt path. Since then, I’ve found some wonderful connection to this photo that really encourages me to help make a difference in the lives of children all over the world.Many details pour from this image and challenge me to think different about the world I live in and I discovered them weeks after I took the picture. Details you may or may not see.It’s the Chicago Bulls shirt and pink flowered shorts. I don’t know if this is a boy or a girl and it doesn’t matter… It’s the determination and resilience of this child to move forward on this dirt path… despite a very traumatic injury to their right knee. It’s the large smile and the look that is locked on to its target. It’s bare feet. It’s a dirt path that leads to a blurred figure of another child in the distance. There’s always another one, but the one I see is the one I can help. Help this one then you can help the next one.How many details can you find?Two years ago I started partnering with World Vision to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world. World Vision has opened my eyes to things globally and locally. This photo is a reminder to me to make a difference “one child at a time,” everyday. Our family choses to do this through sponsorship of a child through World Vision.I love sharing this photo… I used it as one of my limited prints to raise money for my mission back to Africa… It wasn’t a big hit at all. As a matter of fact, it failed miserably as a fundraiser. It’s a nice picture but the story and the details are what make this a masterpiece… to me.I wish you could see it… Don’t you wish you could?peace.johno~

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Risk

One of the risks of writing out your thoughts is this… you wrote them out for others to see. That’s right! It’s in print, black and white, posted in cyberspace and retweeted around the globe in moments to “friends” and “followers.” It might have sounded like a good idea at first to write it down and publish it, but then it hits you smack-dab-in-the-face. “What was I thinking?” or “Why did I write that?” Or, perhaps what you wrote speaks in such questionable tones, the reader cannot tell if you are serious or joking.Not long ago, I was watching children play at a local water park in our community and my curious son was among them. The park was full of children and water fun features. There were canons that fired streams of water back and forth that made even the six-year-old, toothless buccaneers, scream, “arrrr,” as they sprayed one another in battle. Other children danced like fairies under columns of water that bloomed at the top like daisies then rained down like the April showers from their heads to their toes.As I watched the children play, I noticed my son Caleb investigating several holes in the ground around the saturated playground edge. These “holes” were not as populated as the many other hydro features… They reminded me of the holes that fired poisonous darts, from the jungle walls of obscure tiki faces, at Indiana Jones. As I watched his curiosity, I noticed jets of water were shooting up from these holes, and like dominos and they were rapidly approaching an unaware Caleb. As he peered into this hole in the ground a jet of water shot up and exploded into his face with such fury, it made the destruction of the Death Star look like a 1950’s B-movie… and I got a picture of it.He will never live this down… I’ve got it and I’ve posted it on my blog. I know… shame on me for being so cruel as to not shout, “LOOK OUT SON!” Instead I watched it like a train wreck or freestyle cat juggling… I just couldn’t turn my head or stop clicking away with my camera.Like my son in the water park, “mysterious holes in the ground sometimes explode in our faces,” as our fingers strike the keyboard or pen hits the paper and we publish. If we’re going to a water park, chances are we’re going to get wet. If you write, chances are your going to write something that someone doesn’t get or doesn’t like. There are many other writers here, some play in different parts of the park, some are more safe than others and some just watch the train wreck. Sometimes we get it in the face, I know I have lately. Curiosity does that but we must not forget where we are.After the dowsing of his nasal cavity, Caleb shook his head, laughed, screamed, “COOL!” and continued to play and explore with a little more insight to those “holes in the ground.” We all get it in the face sometimes. Shake your head off and scream, “COOL!” and move on to the next adventure or story. It’s OK to write something and change your mind. It’s OK to be misunderstood… it makes for better stories sometimes. Don’t miss going to the park because you’re afraid to get wet. Go prepared, shake it off, laugh and have a good time.”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”– Jesuspeace.johno~

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The WINNER IS…

Number 4 according to RANDOM.ORG.I assigned a number, starting at one from the very first comment being number 1, to the final comment being number 31. I entered the minimum number and the maximum number at random.org and clicked “generate” which gave me the number 4.The fourth comment made was in the first post by Patty.Congratulations Patty! You’re the winner of the Uganda basket in this weeks give away.I can even had deliver it, since I will be in Portland tomorrow.If you didn’t win this time, don’t worry… I’ve got more to come.Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement.johno~

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I’m lazy

It’s been one week of posting here on my new blog. I have to tell you that it’s been a huge blessing to hear your thoughts in person and through the wonderful world wide web. Your comments have challenged me to think differently and fresh… but I have to admit something… I’m lazy.

Proverbs 20:4 CEVIf you are too lazy to plow, don’t expect a harvest.Proverbs 26:14A door turns on its hinges, 
but a lazy person 
just turns over in bed.

I believed I was lazy, as I hit the snooze button for the 3rd time, but I’ve been in denial. I thought I had overcome it but, I’m not sure I have. I was talking to a friend a while ago, who also works in youth ministry, and he was telling me about all the things others were doing in their ministries and how he couldn’t figure out how they accomplished so much. I told him, “It’s because you’re lazy and they’re not.” I think it was a slap in the face to him, since he gave me that look of, shock and the “did-you-just-slap-me-in-the-face-by-calling-me-lazy?” look. I could identify it because, it sounded like me and I’m lazy. It’s not something we like to talk about much, let alone say it to someone else.I realize that many people want to be successful, have purpose, adventure and story… I do. Yet, many people don’t want to do what it takes to get there… Myself included… Sometimes.I’m trying to change. I realize there is much to say and many good conversation to be had, but who has the time? I mean, we’re so busy doing… doing… doing… um, well… playing Farmville? Have we confused mindless things of laziness for being busy? Have we figured out how to make ourselves look busy when really we’ve just faked ourselves into thinking we’ve had an overwhelming day?When it comes right down to it, I’ve found out that I would rather read someone else’s blog than write one or watch an adventure movie instead of living one. That must change. God has given me wonderful gifts and I’m surprised He’s not taken them away from me yet for not being the good steward of them as He intended. So, I’m asking for your help to hold me accountable and scold me when I stop doing ministry, blogging or photography. Believe it or not there are many devotions, thoughts and photos I’ve yet to share from my trip to Uganda this year… It’s been months and I need to get on it.I don’t expect to blog everyday like my challenge for last week… but I also don’t expect not too.I’ve found that we are all on this journey together. With your hand on my shoulder, I know I am not alone. Let’s try a little harder, give a little more effort to share together our images and thoughts and we might just might find inspiration to change the world.Peace.Johno~If I counted it right, there are currently 27ish names in the bucket from people who left comments this last week. It’s your last chance to make a comment to be entered in the gig for a basket from Uganda. Since this post is going out late in the day, I will announce the winner on Monday. Special thanks to Brenda whose comment, “we reap what we sow” helped inspire this post.

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A taste for photography

If you have cable, you’ve most likely watched the Food Network or at least been stopped on the channel as they show delicious entrees that make your mouth water and your stomach growl. I admit, I like the food channel. I use to watch it regularly, but, I soon became frustrated. I couldn’t understand why my food looked and tasted nothing like what was shown. They take this and that, in pre-measured cups and dishes… drop here and there… place everything into one oven… pull some masterpiece from another oven… and TADAAAAA! Frustrating to say the least.Yet, taking a closer look at the food network, you might realize there is much more going on than the one hour show can air. Research, trial and error, adjustments to ingredients, etc. The deal is, it takes time. I found that I’m not the kind of person who wants to take the time to perfect a masterpiece when it comes to food. I try to accomplish my dish in 30 minutes before my wife gets home for dinner and I find that I’ve rushed it to fast, cut corners and have finished half the wine intended for the recipe… and I don’t usually drink wine. Sure there’s iron chef… those guys crank out 7 dishes in one hour on live TV… But, I’m no Iron chef, I’m more like tin can chef. I buy the ingredients and want it to look just like what I saw on TV. Sometimes I get close, but for the most part, I fall way short.Photography can be like cooking in many ways. I get many compliments on my photography and I thank you for your encouragement. But, on the other hand I hear many tell me how they “wish they could take better pictures on their cameras” and I’m here to say, “you can… It’s just going to take some time.” My friend Jason is the master BBQ’er. I wish I had the patience to smoke meat like he does… I think about cooking on my BBQ a few hours before we eat… Jason thinks days before, smokes meat all night for the next day and ends up with a masterpiece that make me want to lick my computer screen when he post an image of his dish.There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to photography, but for the most part it’s not a frozen dinner you pop in the microwave for 3 minutes and eat. Good stuff doesn’t come in a frozen entree that takes 3 minutes to warm up.I want to give an you an example of the photo above as it came out of my camera. I shoot in what is called “RAW” format and very rarely in jpeg, (if you would like to know more about what RAW is, google, “shooting in RAW” and you will find a lot on the topic from people smarter than me). Like going to the market to find all the right ingredients, when I shoot photos, I look for the right “ingredients” that will add to the final product in the end. I try my best to plan for as much as I can, so when I go to the “kitchen” I have everything I need to make the shot what I know it is or can be. So, here is my sunset shot from last night as it downloaded to my computer.There’s a bit of a difference between the first shot and the second… It took some time to make the first shot look like it does. All the ingredients were there. As I stood on the edge of the river, I knew I was going to like this dish.Photography takes time, planning and patience. Much of the splendor of your image will not be right out of the camera… it will be in the kitchen as you combine ingredients and bring the flavors out.peace.johno~DON’T FORGET: Only two days left to post comments and be entered into the drawing to win a basket I packed over from Uganda like a pack mule. Post your comments here and you could be a winner.Here’s a picture of the basket.

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Quotes that make me go, Hmmm, I like.

I’ve got a busier than normal day today. I’ll be taking some teens up the Columbia river for some sun and fun. I know it will be most of my day and my feeling is, better blog now… computer and water are not good roommates.I’m one of those guys who likes quotes. I find a good one and I write it in my journal or on a dry board next to my desk… Jerry commented on the post yesterday with a quote from Ravi Zacharias and I thought, “Hmmm, I like. I need to add this to my list of favorite quotes.”Do you have a favorite quote? It would be hard for me to narrow my favorites down to a handful, but I’m choosing one of my favorites for todays post. Hope it becomes one of your favorites or at least in your top 100.“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”– Pablo PicassoPeace.johno~Remember, make a comment here on the blog and I’ll add your name in the drawing to win a basket from Uganda, Africa. Jerry gets two spots for inspiring todays blog.

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What about all those people who didn’t know God?


Sitting over coffee, which is how I prefer to sit, I was listening to her say to me, “What about all those people long ago who didn’t know about God or Jesus? You know, the Aztecs, Incas? What about the little aboriginal boy in the outback? Are you telling me God is sending them to hell because they worship other gods?”Have you ever been in my seat? How’d you answer? How would you answer? Like a sizzling piece of bacon… might not be the best response.I’ve heard this same question from many my agnostics and atheists friends. It’s as if that question is carved into their thought like every public bathroom wall has carvings of phone numbers begging you to “dial for a good time.” I have to admit it’s a frustrating question for me because it involves people from long ago, that I don’t know and most of them, I’m pretty sure all of them, have been dead for quite a while. I often find it unfair to be placed in a judgment seat that has been reserved for the Creator of everything I know and don’t know.After a sip of coffee, (more like several gulps of coffee, two refills, 53 cries out to the Lord in prayer for help), I said to her, “why are you being so judgmental?” I think I caught her off guard. I believe her questions had been intended that I was the judgmental one.“I’m not Jesus. He is merciful and gracious in ways I can never understand and I find it uncomfortable that you would want me to tell you if these people, that I’ve never met, are in hell. So let’s not talk about them… let’s talk about you and me. Right here. Right now.”This is what we have to work with. Right here… Right now.There’s a story in the bible about Paul, the apostle, who spoke to a group of people that had worshipped lots of idols for a long time. They were from Athens, home of the Clash of the Titans, and among all their idols to their gods, they even had an idol noted to, “an Unknown god.”The following is a portion from the book of Acts chapter 17:22-31 CEV. Paul, starts right there by saying, “I see that you are very religious…” He doesn’t blast them by telling them who’s in and who’s out. He starts by calling them religious and he finishes by saying,

“Since we are God’s children, we must not think that he is like an idol made out of gold or silver or stone. He isn’t like anything that humans have thought up and made. In the past, God forgave all this because people did not know what they were doing. But now he says that everyone everywhere must turn to him. He has set a day when he will judge the world’s people with fairness. And he has chosen the man Jesus to do the judging for him. God has given proof of this to all of us by raising Jesus from death.”

I love how Paul doesn’t get all caught up in the “what about all those people who worshipped our idols?’ fiasco… (interestingly enough, he says God forgave all this because people did not know what they were doing). Rather, he says, “But now…”Since we are God’s children… Right here, right now… you and I are asked to turn to Him.I believe Jesus will judge the world with fairness according to His word… but in all fairness when it comes to judging, let’s not spend our time judging people we’ve never met.Peace.Johno~special thanks to Evolnosaj68 for getting me out of the candy bin and reminding me to blog from the heart. This was not easy to write about. I’m sure there are a lot of opinions on this subject. Let’s just remember that Jesus commanded us to, “Love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.”

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I didn’t know…


Not long ago I was given a Bible that highlights every scripture in the Bible that deals with poverty and justice issues. There are over 2000 orange highlights and I’ve even found a few they forgot to mark. One of those scriptures I found was in Proverbs 24:11,12… It reads,

Don’t fail to rescue thosewho are doomed to die.Don’t say, “I didn’t know it!”God can read your mind.He watches each of usand knows our thoughts.And God will pay us backfor what we do.

I think the verse that really grabbed me was verse 12… “Don’t say, ‘I didn’t know it!”I’m amazed at how many people don’t know that poverty exists in their back yard. It really doesn’t take a lot of work to find, but it does take getting out. Out of our homes, offices, social clubs… Stop by your local elementary school and ask the administration if they know of any children who came to school today in need. I’ll bet a pretty penny they have a list of children who came to school with no breakfast and no lunch. I know some might want to begin to rant and rave about the parents, but I’m not talking about parents… I’m talking about children going hungry in our neighborhoods.We’ve walked by to many in need and it’s time to slow down and see. God is watching.In 2008 I was in Uganda, Africa and we set out to visit the “neighbors” next to the church property. I saw only one house. It was draped by the green leaves of banana trees which appeared to be a tsunami wave about to engulf it. We visited a grandmother who lived there. She begged for help with her two grand boys who refused to go to school. I was at a loss to provide that type of care, but several of the locals promised to visit and become the Uncle to the boys. After praying, we stood up to leave and dove into the sea of green. It was a jungle. It was nothing but banana tree after banana tree and then I saw a child playing… As we drew closer, I could see her home and her mother preparing dinner. They were over joyed to see visitors coming their way. I thought, “Where did this place come from?” I mean it was just there in the middle of nothing. We visited and moved again further into the bush and there we found people. We found homes full of life. As a matter of fact, it seemed as if the wave of green was now a sea of ebony. Laughter broke the silence and smiles appeared like stars appearing in the early evening.Only steps into the forest there were so many people. You could never see them from the road as you traveled… only when you stopped to look in the most unlikely of places.When I returned home, I saw those banana trees. I took a “different” route to work. I walked different paths…If you are looking, you will find it. If you can’t see it, give me a call and we’ll take a trip together.peace.johno~Thanks to Desiree for giving the encouragement to write this. Her name will be entered into the contest twice today.

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