Thursday, April 30, 2009
Saturday - Sunday:
We took off from LAX bright and early with the maximum amount of luggage allowed. 3 checked bags and two carryons each! I travel really light but I brought two bags of supplies for the Young Life crews here so it was a new experience to have a couple of monster bags along with my little carryon and my purse ;) to take care of. Here is a picture of me and Katie, the Parsons daughter.
The first 24 hours in Russia have been incredible! We got off the plane and stopped by the "Club room" that the Parsons built and ran Young Life in during their 20 years here. We were dropping off tents and supplies for them to use and the current leaders had prepared a lunch for us and what a sweet group they have!
Then we went for a short walking tour in downtown Moscow and went by the KGB building and rumor has it that if you try and walk around this building twice you will never be seen again. I've been learning a lot about Russian history and how back in the day everyone was fighting for control and the extreme measures they took to get it were gnarly.
Then we came to unpack and meet our hosts Beth and Carl who are friends of the Parsons and their apt is in the most famous apt building in Russia - "The House of Tears" and it was named that because during the communist era they used it to house the brightest minds in Russia here but then they'd have people hiding out in the walls listening to everything they were saying and if they ever opposed what the gov't was doing they would disappear...thus calling it the "House of Tears" - it's also called the "House on the embankment"
This is the view of the Kremlin from the apt and last night they were doing preparation for the Victory Days celebration and they had huge tanks rolling down the street and you can see them in this shot...
In the afternoon we had two sweet experiences! We were out touring the Kremlin and in one of the chapels they were holding a special service so we hungout to see what was going on and out comes the patriarch from the Orthodox church. He's like the Pope for the Orthodox and after security whisked the big wig away I snuck up on the porch and got this guy to pose with me! :) I forgot his name though.
Then Gary took us to meet with Father Alexander which was unreal. He was one of the only priests who refused to partner with the KGB and then stuck his neck out there to try and get the church here to embrace some western ideas but that didn't bring him much popularity! None-the-less his church is thriving in the center of Moscow. He spent all afternoon sharing stories with us about the past 70 years of the church in Russia.
To finish the day we hitup a "banya" which is a russian bath. Wow! I grew up in the locker room playing sports so being around naked dudes doesn't make me uncomfortable but this took it to a whole new level. It was wild. Essentially we had our own little room to hang in and have snacks and drinks and then they'd heat up the room. Now when I say heat it up I mean like to 180+ degrees! When it was almost ready all of us would crowd around this door - butt naked mind you - and when the door opened everyone would run and the room isn't very big so once the seats filled people would stand and even kneel in every available space. I'm not sure if this is a sight you want to imagine but it's one I will certainly never forget. Then this dude would come in with a fan and start waving all the hot air down on to us and then we'd sit around and get these bundles of dry leaves that had been soaked in water and we'd hit each other with them which stimulates the blood cells close to the skin. After that we'd get out and jump into an ice cold tank of freezing water for about two seconds and then go back to our room for some more snacks and rest. We repeated this cycle 4 times before calling it a night.
We've been trucking around through museums and what-not for most of today but the highlight for me was when I found this lady who makes these Russian hats by hand along with gloves and other goodies so I bought this hat from her!
Today we just flew to Krasnador and we'll be here putting on a Leadership training camp for Young Life leaders across Eastern Europe. The reason I am here is to learn how Gary leads and how he has developed the leaders here. It's amazing to be a part of this and I'm excited to share more whenever I can get back online. :)
Lastly, thank you for all your prayers! The trip has been blessed and I've been praying for many of you too.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Russia has been amazing ... but I've been without the lifeline (internet) :) ... so just this quick picture until I find some more access... Love you all. I shot this right outside the unbelievable apt we are staying in... wow! More to share later...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
I'm going to spend time with a family who is near and dear to my soul. They've become mentors of mine over the past couple of years and I just want to learn better how they love people and invite others into their world.
I really don't know much about the "plan" for the trip which is fine with me but I have my camera and computer and if I can find a few spots with internet I'll post some pics on this facebook page.
We will be there during "Victory Days" which is crazy so look for some fun pictures from that once I get back!
Also, thanks for all your emails and prayer requests. What an awesome priveledge it is to be praying for you and I've already begun and can't wait to get on the plane to go through the rest. God is sooooo good. Remember that! He will get you through whatever it is you're going through.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Our world is uncertain...but God is real.
I have a 20 hour flight tomorrow as I head to Russia and I'd be so stoked to be able to pray for you because I know God answers prayer and works in my life as I pray...so please send anything that I can be praying for. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll download them all before I hop on the plane.
Thank you in advance. It's such a gift to be able to pray for people.
They talked about "Faith and Reconciliation in a time of Global Interdependence" and it really opened up my eyes to the necessity of collaboration and leadership.
Ashley, works with Tom and also does event planning and she just sent me a list of Tom's Rules for Success and they are great! I'll be sending them out to everyone who is part of my new Facebook page....and if you haven't joined yet you should and be sure to checkout the fun video I posted there yesterday.
...and tomorrow I get to go hear what the Dalai Lama has to share about "Ethics in our Time"
Then late tomorrow night I'm heading to Russia!
I haven't even started packing! I'll be there till mid May and am excited to learn about the culture and what God is doing there.
Phew....my mind is spinning!
So much to do - so many places to go. I have lots to learn!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
You can also watch the video by joining my new facebook page.
Personally I don't like that facebook has a limit on my personal page where I accept "friends" but hey it's their gig and their technology has limitations so I needed to create a "Visual Artist" page which can accept more than 5000 friends....but what's silly is that they are now called "fans" - There was a time when I cared about being famous and the whole starDUMB thing which in our world of wedding photography does exist and that is fine but I'm over it. I just want to use Facebook to help people so I need your help in transition over to this page.
So go watch some of the free videos and look for more to be posted here!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I'm gonna chat with him tomorrow about it but I also invited him to join the conversation online because although I certainly have my thoughts I do things like this for the community and I think it's very good of WPPI to respond.
So... again my grief WAS NOT that they send promotional email. There is nothing wrong with that. My problem was that some of the vendors were breaking the Can-Spam laws by not offering the ability to Opt-out.
So it's time for solutions people. How can WPPI monitor and control this or how should they respond to vendors who violate their agreement with WPPI and the law? Post up here b/c they are listening and hopefully they will join the conversation.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
I can't even count the amount of spam messages they send out from vendors who I never visited and don't ever care about...BUT WHAT REALLY UPSETS ME is that many of them don't even provide opt-out option which is THE LAW! I use email marketing a lot and it's great. I have nothing against it except when companies go out and sell our email addresses like WPPI is doing and then the companies that they are selling them to don't abide by the law.
I've emailed Skip about it and he said they are all required to sign a document that they will abide by the Federal Trade Commisions Can-Spam laws implemented in 2003 but many of them don't so it looks like enforcement is up to us.
If they don't have an opt-out you can file a complaint against these companies here...
Keep it real folks. Use opt-in emails and don't send spam!
****I'm closing up the comments here b/c most people are commenting on Facebook so CLICK HERE to comment****
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Easter is my independence day.
I've never felt so much freedom in my life as I do right now. In the past I've let myself be controlled by my business, by relationships, by money, by expectations, by other companies, essentially by my sin...but this Easter was a staggering reminder that it's done. Paid for. Dealt with...which leaves me free.
So I sit here smiling from ear to ear remembering what Christ did for me. It's gnarly. Yes. But it's beautiful and he wants us to rejoice in it.
So let this next year bring a hope and freedom that only God can bring.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
I'll try to keep this short and sweet because I'm not going to say anything that you already don't know but today is a very special day b/c 29 years ago a star was born. Jasmine Star. I met Jasmine about four years ago when she asked me to shoot her wedding. That started a wonderful friendship with her and her incredible husband but it wasn't until I read a book that she wrote about her families life that I began to truly see the astonishing person that she is.
Today she is at the top of an industry that she entered only two years ago. That is remarkable. She is remarkable.
Again, this is no surprise to you but what may come as a surprise to you is how she did it. Humbly, gracefully and with a flawlessness that is unprecedented.
As she sat in my kitchen yesterday she said, "I feel so blessed because I've had the opportunity to watch and see what others are doing and learn from them and then move forward with that knowledge."
I said, "That's wonderful that you feel blessed by that but that gift was not uniquely given to you. Everyone in the world has been given that same gift. They just haven't accepted it (yet)."
So can you do what Jasmine has done? Absolutely! Approach life humbly. Develop an insatiable curiosity. Learn from others. Accept the gift...and then go out and pass it on. That's what Jasmine is doing.
Happy Birthday Jasmine. Today - you are the gift.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
TECHNOLOGY AND ACCESSIBILITY OVERLOAD
I am dying of easy accessibility. Telephones in our homes and offices, cordless phones in our backyards and cars, beepers, fax machines, and e-mail. It’s enough to give you a stroke. If Alexander Graham Bell walked into my office, I’d punch him in the nose. If be called, you can be sure I’d put him on hold. - JAMES M. CERLETTY, M.D., MILWAUKEE PHYSICIAN
THE FUTURE ARRIVED yesterday, when the Starship Enterprise landed in our back yard. Slick gadgets are strapped to every belt, plugged into every socket, and stuck in every ear. Overhead, still more gadgets swim in the heavenlies. As telecommunications rapidly reshape the globe, we sit at the beginning of a universal connectivity unprecedented in human history. Cell phones and pagers, videophones and videoconferencing, telecommuting and fax machines, Internet and e-mail, satellites and the information superhighway. Images of futuristic excitement, to be sure. But what will be the result of this incredible flurry of seemingly unstoppable activity?
Like most modern things, it will be both good and bad—at the same time. The aspect of this development that disturbs me most is accessibility overload. A major unintended consequence of the flood of accessing technologies is that soon there will be no natural excuse for being unavailable. In the midst of our enthusiasm for the telecommunications revolution, we have not sufficiently discerned the horrifying psychic cost of what columnist William Safire calls unrestrained reachability. Don’t get me wrong. I like people. Some of my best friends are people. But I also like my privacy from time to time. “Where were you all day?” your boss or client or bridge partner will say. “I tried to call you five times!” And because virtually everyone will carry tiny cell phones/pagers, you will have no excuse. “I turned off my pager phone.” “You what?!” What will this be like for exhausted pastors who are vacationing five states away and one of their parishioners is hospitalized ? Do we disturb them? Most of us wouldn’t—but some would. What if parishioners die? Do we interrupt pastors’ much-needed vacations by requesting they return for the funeral? When speaking in Toronto recently I found two pastors who had encountered this situation in the previous year. One returned home to do the funeral; the other didn’t. The first disappointed his family and lost an important vacation. The second disappointed his church family and lost an important ministry opportunity.
RX - Because of progress and technology, universal accessibility is inevitable. Etiquette guidelines will not always be easy to apply. Yet somehow, unrestrained reachability must be controlled for the sake of our margin, our family, our devotion, our sanity, and our rest. Be discerning of all accessing technologies, Use them judiciously. Consider deactivating the answering machine if necessary. If you find it overwhelming to come home to eight messages, turn it off. If the calls are important, the callers will try again.
You must keep quiet or say only things that improve silence. - GREEK PROVERB
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I was just on Jeremy Parker's website and saw this cool series of shots!
...and I love how Courtney DeLaura of Peach Tree Studios used Showit to consolidate all of her access points on the web and has good clean consistent branding across all of them. You can see on her home page that you can get to any of her other websites and she even built essentialy four different websites for the different types of photography she does.
This is a huge value with Showit because you have no limit of pages or galleries and you can take your branding and make everything look the way you want it - instead of the way some template designer wants it. This lets you build on what you've done in the past instead of having to recreate your look each time you buy a new template.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
I'm going to share the story that changed my focus and my life through a free video in my email newsletter so if you're not already signed up for that be sure to get on that list which you can do by typing in your email address here.
Today I'm getting together with my friends who I'll be going to Russia with. They took an organization called Young Life out there and I've learned so much from them and am excited and honored to get to spend a couple of weeks learning how this organization uses love and hospitality to change peoples lives.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I can't believe it! I'm finished! Free! This wonderful group in NY was
my last commitment of the year!
That doesn't mean I'm gonna sit around and twiddle my thumbs but I
finally have the FREEDOM to choose whatever I'd like to do!
Later this month I'm going to have the amazing opportunity to go see
the Dali Lama and then the next day I'll be heading out to Russia for
a couple of weeks.
Lots of learning and growing to do! I'm stoked!