Category Archives: Music

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muscle memory


Many years ago, I wrote a song entitled “He Knows” based on one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11. Thanks to a wonderful friend at our church, we have a recorded version of the song from shortly after I wrote it, but I never wrote the music out. It was just in my head. And over the years, I played my piano less and less and when I would sit down and try to play it, it just wasn’t there.

It’s amazing how the mind works, though.

We recently moved my piano out of our house into my parents’ and after it was in place in mom and dad’s family room, I sat down and started playing around. Chloe told me to play my song and I told her that I didn’t remember it anymore. She has a copy of the recorded version on her phone and she sat it on top of the piano and hit play. I started to pick it out a bit at the beginning and then … my fingers suddenly took off. There were a couple places that I got stopped up and had to pick out the notes, but the whole thing came back to me. It was the most incredible thing. Mom and Chloe were cracking up at my face, because I was staring at them with wide eyes, mouth hanging open, not even looking at the keys as my fingers played the song completely from memory. Muscle memory.

I am in awe of the way God created our complex brains.

Maybe when I sat down at home to try to play it before, I was blocked for some reason. Maybe I just needed to let my mind and fingers find it at the right time. Whatever the reason, it was a fun moment to share with my mom and my daughter.

how you live


Driving down a country road one fall evening after an engagement photography session in South Haven, this song – Turn Up The Music by Point of Grace (above) – was playing in my car. I can’t remember if it was on the radio or if I had the CD at the time, but it brought tears to my eyes and it filled me with such a peaceful and hopeful feeling.

I remember that feeling very vividly. It was at a time when Jake (my husband) had lost his job because the company he worked for closed its doors, and my little photography business was keeping us afloat. Barely. It was very stressful and I felt anything but peaceful at the time.

“Wake up to the sunlight with your windows open
Don’t hold in your anger or leave things unspoken
Wear your red dress, use your good dishes,
Make a big mess, and make lots of wishes …”

I longed for the peaceful, carefree feeling this song brought out in me. To focus on the little things, my children, my husband, the beauty of nature, letting go, dreaming, taking chances. No regrets! I wanted to feel like that – happy and hopeful.

“Turn up the music, Turn it up loud
Take a few chances, Let it all out
‘Cause you won’t regret it
Lookin’ back from where you have been
Cause it’s not who you knew
And it’s not what you did
It’s how you live.”

I wanted a sense of security again, and I prayed for God’s help. And He provided! Time and again. (HERE is an awesome example of that!)

And here was this song, encouraging me and calming me. It was just one of those moments that has stuck with me. I posted the above video back in September of 2007 with just a brief comment like “I’m loving this song right now.” I probably didn’t say more because of the stressful emotions I was dealing with, but I’m glad I threw it up there that day because it was there for me to find again, to remember that things did get better. The job situation worked out. God took care of us.

And I’ve had many days, enjoying the sun on my face, thanking the Lord for the life He’s given me, letting myself be truly happy where I’m at, taking chances, and feeling so hopeful for the future.

“Wherever you are and wherever you’ve been
Now is the time to begin …”

“Make peace with God and make peace with yourself
‘Cause in the end there’s nobody else.”

I hope you’ll give the song a listen. :)
Oh, and here are a few pictures from the engagement session that night.

And if you want more, here’s their engagement post over on my biz blog, which I no longer update, but it remains online for all the lovely people I worked with.

On to today’s giveaway!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY

Last fall, I whipped up these little pocket calendars to match the ING Journals. I am using one every day to keep track of all our stuff. Here’s your chance to win one in the color of your choice. It’s a 2-year calendar with simple, blank calendar pages. No holidays or cycles of the moon or anything like that on any of the pages since I knew I would be writing all over it with appointments and gymnastics practices and such and I wanted every millimeter of space to do that. ;) They are about 4″x7″ in size.

Enter below. Tell a friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CLICK HERE to see all the GIVEAWAYS on one page!

TGIF! Hope you’ve enjoyed looking back with me this week. The fun’s not over yet! SEE YA’ BACK HERE ON MONDAY!

put it out there



While browsing through my old posts, I came across one written on June 3, 2005, the night I went to see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. I loved that book series and I remember loving the movie. One other thing I remember about that night was going directly to Best Buy afterwards to purchase the soundtrack because of the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield and driving home with windows down and moon roof open with that song turned up so loud. (OK, I’m playing it right now while I write this post and it’s still awesome!) I love how a blog post can remind me of those feelings.

Here’s what I had to say that night:

“I like to read, but I LOVE when books are adapted into movies. I’m a visual person, a huge movie lover. So to see a story adapted for the screen and done well really thrills me. This was adapted really well. I think there were a few things here and there that they changed for movie purposes, but for the most part it was true to the book.

I think the character that I relate the most to is Lena, the quiet one. Afraid to really let go, trying to figure out who she really is, not the most outspoken of the group. That’s totally me. A little reserved, doing what I think others want me to do, wishing that I had the strength to stand up for myself more, a little shallow with my feelings, mostly to protect myself from being hurt, but wishing I felt more deeply sometimes.

These kinds of stories really make me think and they get my creative juices flowing. I began writing a book in 1997 based loosely on my time at the church camp I used to attend for a week every summer in high school. I finally finished the first draft last year, but I’ve done nothing more with it. I feel like pulling it out and working on it now. It’s so fun to read through it and see these characters that I’ve created with little bits of myself and my friends in them and the adventures that they go through and the lessons learned during the week at camp. I’m proud of my book. It needs a lot of work and who knows if it’s something that is good enough to be published. It’s the “Lena” in me that is afraid to put it out there and see what might happen with it. I need to let it go and see what God can do with it.”

Reading this made me smile so big. I had not forgotten about my camp book, but I had forgotten how even ten years ago, I was thinking about publishing, wondering if I should try, afraid to put myself out there. That book, the sweet little camp story, will find its way into book form. Not as it is now, though, because I was being honest when I said it needed a lot of work, but it’s already being re-imagined and rewritten in my brain. It even has a title already, which I’m pretty excited about. But, I’ll try not to get too far ahead of myself. ;)

OK … on to today’s giveaway.

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY

I’m getting so excited for the release of this book! It’s totally my heart and so much of myself is on these pages. This giveaway is for an Advanced Reader Copy of Goodbye, Magnolia. The winner will receive a copy of the manuscript in paperback book form in its still-being-edited, not quite polished to perfection, almost final state. It will be about a month or so before the ARC copy is ready.

If this is the first you’re hearing about my new book, here’s a little bit of the synopsis for you:
Wedding photography is Maggie’s passion. The art of capturing a moment forever in time is magical to her, and she’s worked hard to become the best of the best. Week after week, she works with couples as they plan their happily ever afters, but she hasn’t been so lucky in love. Behind the camera, it’s easy to hide from the pain and rejection of her past. The life she has made for herself is safe and predictable, until the owner of a rival photography studio sets up shop in her small town and comes to her with an unexpected proposal. Suddenly, everything she has worked so hard to build is threatened and her simple, controlled life is thrown into chaos.”

Eeeeeek! I’m giddy. ;)

Enter below. Tell a friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CLICK HERE to see all the GIVEAWAYS on one page!

SEE YA BACK HERE TOMORROW!

10 YEARS!

You’re here! I’m so excited! On February 26, 2005, I started this blog, and for the next two weeks, I will be looking back at the past TEN YEARS of blogging!

Ten years has gone by in the blink of an eye. At least, it seems so at times. I’ve been browsing back through old posts and, while the style of my photos (lots of borders and filters in the early days) has changed, the core of the posts has not. It started with a few posts about my kids and that’s pretty much the same today. I wrote about things we did, places we traveled, movies I loved, following my love of photography into a business, family, friends, parties, scrapbooking, memories, happy times, sad times, publishing my novel. So much of our life.

Ten years is a really long time.

So, for the next TEN DAYS, I will be looking back, sharing old photos and favorite posts, and there will be GIVEAWAYS!!!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY!

I’ve got a paperback copy of my first young adult novel ready to sign. The Truth About Drew was published last May.
It’s a sweet, uplifting, heart-warming story full of friendship and family with a journey to faith and a mystery surrounding a boy and his notebook.
Enter below. Tell a friend! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions at all about the giveaway, feel free to ask.

SEE YA BACK HERE TOMORROW!

hello, monday


Morning is my normal time to blog. But it’s hard to blog when you’re away every day. Last week was one of those weeks …

– Mom and I visited our friend Erinn and her two adorable boys on Wednesday.

– Thursday was one of those “gotta get groceries” mornings that takes for-e-ver followed by bills and budget and balancing the checkbook (all those oh-so-fun things).

– Then on Friday, my hubby had an outpatient surgery very early in the morning, which required me to get up at 5 am, take him to the hospital, go home, take the kids to school, come back to the hospital and wait, wait, wait. My mom was so helpful to go get the kids for us since they had a half day of school. She and my brother Rick took them to lunch at Applebee’s before bringing them home.

OTHER HAPPENINGS:

– After school on Thursday, Zach went right out and got the shovel and cleared the porch off for me. I didn’t even have to ask. I was so proud.

– The kids played in the snow. They never do that anymore, but they went outside on Friday afternoon after they got home from lunch and ran around the yard, tried to make a snowman, did cartwheels and back handsprings (Chloe) in the snow.

– Jake sliced his thumb open while working on his mini terrain stuff. Ick! Thankfully no stitches were needed. We keep teasing that he shouldn’t craft while on pain medication.

– Started reading Dear Mr. Knightley. I’m liking it so far. The entire book is in the form of letters from the main character to a mysterious benefactor who gives her a full scholarship to college. Very interesting so far.

– Carved out a little time on Sunday afternoon to work on my Project Life album. There’s nothing like getting a big order of photos in the mail and slipping them into the page protectors along with all the cute Project Life cards.

– I’m really loving the She Reads Truth app‘s “The Bible In A Year” plan. I’m 7% through the Bible. Yay! Chloe even downloaded the app so she would have the Bible on her device, but she has also started reading through the Bible following along with the plan. Best thing about the plan … I love lists and being able to check things off as I complete a task. This plan lets you cross off each day’s reading as you go, so you can see what you’ve finished and it keeps track of the percentage of progress as well. Love it!

– Chloe spent the night at her BFF Mackenzie’s house. Just before bed, I was browsing pics on Instagram and I saw this video of Chloe singing while Kenzie’s sister’s friend played the ukelele. I could listen to that all day long. Here’s the 15 second instagram video she shared:
[embed]http://apwphotography.com/myblogpics/2015/chloehannahsong.mp4[/embed]

Happy Monday, everyone!

happy things


I’m looking at my calendar today and kind of freaking out that we’re only a couple weeks away from December! How did that happen? I am looking forward to the holidays and the nice winter break we get for Christmas and New Years. We got that snow I talked about the other day with more on the way. The roads yesterday and last night were not pretty. No snow plows were out until after the snow fell and melted on the roads and then refroze to sheets of ice when the temps dropped into the 20s. That seemed a little backwards to me, like they could have at least been out putting down some dirt on top of the ice or something. People were off the road everywhere.

On a sidetone … yes, I know it’s not smart to take photos while driving, especially in this kind of weather. I held it up in front of me (not blocking my view) and pressed the volume button on the side of my phone letting the phone focus and snap a few photos on its own and that was that. I did not look at my phone screen to make sure it was in focus at all and it took me all of about five seconds. My eyes never left the road and there were no other cars around. And I did not look at the photos to see if they turned out until I arrived at my destination. I do not recommend this behavior at all. If my son or daughter did this, I would take their phones away forever. ;)

Kind of a funny story about this bad habit of mine … when we were in Yellowstone, I drove through the park and also had my big camera sitting beside me or in my lap the whole time. It’s mostly slow driving through a lot of areas and I would whip my camera up and take pictures out the window or through the windshield. We were driving like 5-10 mph through one area where a lot of cars were stopped or creeping along to look at a little bear that was off the side of the road. There were park rangers nearby kind of directing people through the area and making sure nobody approached the bear. As we drove by slowly, I lifted my camera and the ranger said, “Driver, please pass your camera to a passenger in your vehicle.” haha!

I didn’t listen very well, though …

Since the snow is not my favorite, I thought I’d share some things that are making me happy this week:

• Zach and I found THIS at the grocery store yesterday! What? Love these. We are SO making them this weekend. Mmmmmm.

5 Hymns on She Reads Truth this week. So many beautiful songs. My favorite has always been It is Well With My Soul. But I really love so many. Including this one:

• We’re only a week away from The Truth About Drew’s Kindle Countdown deal. Starts next Friday (the 21st) at 99¢ for a few days, then bumps up to $1.99 and so on through the day after Thanksgiving when it goes back to regular price. If you haven’t bought it yet in eBook form, this would be a great time to pick it up! One of the most important scenes in the book takes place at Thanksgiving, so this would be the PERFECT time to read the book!

• Finally listened to my first Christmas song of the season. “O Holy Night” sung by Mercy Me. The snow this week has kind of put me in the holiday mood, so it might be time to turn it to the Christmas channel.

• Knitting! I’ve been doing quite a bit of knitting lately. I always get into it more in the colder months. Sitting under a blanket on the couch, knitting away. My favorite winter pastime. I recently finished this great big bulky infinity scarf for myself and, after seeing Elise’s cowl tutorial yesterday, I decided to give that a try, too. I’ve never really knitted in the round before. I have circular needles, but just never tried. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be.

That’s it for today. Have a wonderful weekend!

the music of my heart | all this time

When I was younger, I would sit in my bedroom late at night and listen to songs on my “boom box”. I would tape songs from the radio, especially ones that tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes.

I was a pianist then. I would take the songs I loved and try to pick out the tunes on the piano keys. I accompanied friends when they sang in church. I wrote songs of my own. The piano helped me get out my feelings and my aggressions. I’d play light and fast when I was happy, slow and soft when I was sad and heartbroken, tears falling on the keys.

I loved music and I surrounded myself with it.

But somewhere along the line, that stopped. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment. All I know is I stopped playing my piano and I stopped listening – I mean really listening – to music. Yeah, I would have the radio on the in the car or have a CD in, but it was like I wasn’t really letting the music in. I wasn’t letting it move me in my soul like it always had before.

The last time I remember really loving a song was after I saw the movie “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (Oh gosh! I just looked that up and it came out in 2005.). I loved the song “Unwritten” and I went out and bought the soundtrack after the movie just for that song. I popped it in my car CD player on the way home and turned it up LOUD with the windows down and the moon roof open. I played it over and over. I loved the words, the music, everything about it.

In the past few months, I’ve started listening again, paying attention to the story of the songs, connecting and relating to the lyrics, crying many tears as my heart opens and remembers and heals.

And it hurts, but it feels good to surround myself with the music again.

I want to start sharing some of the songs that have been speaking to me lately, deep down in ways my heart hasn’t been spoken to for a long time. Being open and remembering and letting go of some of those feelings I’ve locked away is allowing me to let the music in again.

I recently shared about the song “Come However You Are” by City Harbor. I probably listen to it ten times a day and really wish I could just put it on a loud speaker on top of my car and drive around playing it for everyone.

“Come with your regrets. Come with the things you can’t change. Come with all your fear and all your shame with everything. Come with the pieces of your bruised and broken heart. Don’t wait. Don’t wait!” OK … this post is not about that song, but I love it and wish I could share the message of that song with everyone I know who is dealing with difficult things in their lives right now and have turned far away from God.

But today, I have to share a new favorite by Britt Nicole. I downloaded her latest CD, Gold, for Chloe this weekend because she loves that song (such a great song for girls, by the way, and for boys for that matter) and I found many songs that I love, but one that really stands out to me and moves me to tears. It’s not really a new song since the album has been out for over a year and I’ve heard it on the radio before, but I never really listened to the words before now.

I won’t type out all the lyrics, but here is the first verse and the chorus of “All This Time” that really got my attention this past weekend.

All This Time by Britt Nicole

I remember the moment
I remember the pain
I was only a girl
But I grew up that day
Tears were falling
I know you saw me

Hiding there in my bedroom
So alone
I was doing my best
Trying to be strong
No one to turn to
That’s when I met you

All this time
From the first tear cried
‘Til today’s sunrise
And every single moment between
You were there
You were always there
It was You and I
You’ve been walking with me all this time

All these years, since the moment all my hopes and dreams came crashing down around me, I know God has been there with me. I love the lines in the chorus – from the first tear cried ’til today’s sunrise and every single moment between. Even when I wasn’t listening or paying attention, when I was wrapped up in my life, when I looked within myself for the strength to get through things instead of trusting Him (which never worked, by the way), He was walking with me all along, loving me through it all.

If you haven’t already, have a listen to the YouTube video at the top. I hope the message and the music will touch you as it has me.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to stop by here and read my blog. It means so much to me, more than I could ever express in words. :)

come however you are


I spend a lot of time in my car. Driving here and there. These days, it’s pretty much the only place I listen to music. For the past few months, I’ve been stuck on Taylor Swift’s last two CD’s on repeat. Before that, it was all of Bethany Dillon’s. Every once in a while, I’ll decide to mix it up and flip over to the radio, ’cause I’m crazy like that. ;) Yesterday, I heard a song on the Christian music station that I instantly loved. Not sure how long it’s been playing on the radio since I haven’t been listening much lately, but it’s new to me. The song is called “Come However You Are” by City Harbor, who are also new to me and I believe are just releasing their first album.

What I love most about this song, besides the beautiful harmony of their voices together, is the message of the lyrics. Whatever you are dealing with, whatever pain or regret or mistakes you’ve made, no matter what your past looks like, you can give it to God. All of it! Right now! Because He loves you more than you could ever know.

Here are the lyrics, but if you’d rather hear the music, I’ve added that at the bottom.

Come However You Are by City Harbor

To anyone walking down a hard road
Worn out with blisters on your feet
To anyone with a heart that’s shattered
Doing your best to hold it together
With no prayer to pray and no song left to sing

Whatever pain you’re dealing with
Let me offer this

Come however you are
Come with all your heart breaks
Come with all the mistakes you’ve made
Lay them down at the cross
Give them to the God who loves you
Hurt, scarred, falling apart
Come however you are

To the girl who never had a father
To the guy who thinks he’ll never
Amount to much of anything
To those of us who feel unwanted, unneeded, unloved and desperately incomplete

Come however you are
Come with all your heart breaks
Come with all the mistakes you’ve made
Lay them down at the cross
Give them to the God who loves you
Hurt, scarred, falling apart
Come however you are

Come with your regrets
Come with the things you can’t take
Come with all your fears and all your shame
With everything
Come with the pieces of
Your bruised and broken heart
Don’t wait, don’t wait

Whatever pain you’re dealing with
Let me offer this

Come however you are
Come with all your heart breaks
Come with all the mistakes you’ve made
Lay them down at the cross
Give them to the God who loves you
Hurt, scarred, falling apart
Come however you are

Here’s a video from YouTube of the song. The only one I could find.
)

I hope this song has blessed you as it has me. Love you guys!

monday’s list


NOVEMBER IS HERE

• Ended a very sad, emotional week feeling like God showed me some things about myself. It’s not pleasant when that happens. It hurts like crazy. But we learn from it and move on all the better for it.

• Chloe had Mackenzie over again on Saturday and then the two of them went to another friend’s house that night for a sleepover.

• Took family pictures for Heidi and Kyle on Sunday. Our annual tradition. I have no idea how many years we’ve been doing this. I should look that up. We got some really cute ones with what was left of the fall colors and it only took us twenty minutes. That’s gotta be some kind of record. Rain and wind knocked a lot of the leaves off this past week. But we found some still hanging and some pretty sunlight. Love the one above right of their son climbing on the log pile. He requested this photo and stopped to pose for me and everything. Adorable!

• Went to our niece Breanna’s 3rd birthday party. Had a fun time celebrating her special day and watching all the little ones run around the house like crazies. Violet is walking all over now and looked so cute in her little party hat. ;)

• After the party, Jake and the kids went to the theater together and saw Ender’s Game.

• I spent a couple hours blowing leaves in our yard while listening to Taylor Swift on my headphones. Never thought I would like her music as much as I do. I really never cared for her that much before I got Chloe “Speak Now” for Christmas a few years ago. There is something about her lyrics, the stories in her songs, that I relate to. I’m a fan.

• Went to visit Heidi this morning to help design her Christmas card. Another part of our annual tradition. We had a great time working on pictures, talking, laughing, catching up. It was just what I needed.

• One of my best friends got engaged this weekend. She has waited a long time and prayed for God to bring her just the right guy and He finally did. I’m overjoyed for her!

• Praying you all have a very happy November as we approach the holiday season.

I Need Thee Every Hour

Came across Sam Robson’s YouTube channel today while reading Annie Down’s blog. My soul has been blessed. Someone commented on one of his videos, “Heaven’s gonna sound something like this.” They took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn’t help but feel worshipful after viewing several of his a cappella arrangements. The one on Annie’s blog is Be Thou My Vision, but I really loved I Need Thee Every Hour, so that’s the one I shared above. :)

Be blessed!

AJAXed with AWP