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The Adventures of Zooma The Wonder Dog

I’ve been sharing little stories on my personal Facebook page about our new puppy Zooma from her perspective and thought I’d start sharing them on the blog as well because I think Zooma would think “it’s hilarious.”

May 3, 2018

This morning I woke daddy up at 6 a.m. by licking his face all over with my tongue.

Mommy says my tongue feels like wet air because it’s so tiny.

Daddy wasn’t very happy with being woke up but took me into the backyard so I could do my potty time.
Back inside Daddy wanted me to go back to sleep but I knew it was time to explore, lick, dig, run and slide across the floor and then chase that big, fat, black and furry thing with the sharp things on her feet. It’s fun trying to see how close I can get to her before she tries to claw my tiny eyes out.

I spent the morning listening to Daddy grumble about how tired he was and how much he needed something called coffee and then I ran up the stairs to find Mommy and my playthings.

DSC_3610_1One of them likes to squeal and scream when I nip at it’s legs. It’s hilarious. The other one shouts “No! No, Zooma! No!” Also hilarious.

When the taller Plaything took me in the backyard for another potty time I found fur and some squishy stuff that tasted good and was fun to roll in.

This resulted in Plaything One flailing and screaming and chasing me around the yard yelling “That’s so gross! Drop it! It’s a dead bunny! Oh my gosh! Zooooommmaaa!”

Plaything One stole my treat and it was back in the house to chase big, fat black beast again while Daddy staggered around with a cup of that coffee stuff and a scowl and then left to clean up the fur and squishy stuff so I couldn’t have it anymore. I heard him tell Mommy he felt awful because he’d apparently run over a bunny nest with the lawn mower. I hope he does that again. That treat was fun and tasty.

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I spent the rest of my day napping off and on, because I’m just a baby and I like to sleep, with a few moments of ripping paper and dragging it around the house in between while Mommy and the Playthings tell me to “Drop it. Drop it. Droooooooop it.”

It’s hilarious.

 

Hopewriters opening their doors this week

 

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Hello!
Quick note just to let you know that the hope*writers opened their doors to new members today! This is a writing forum/learning site that I have recently joined and am learning from!
This community is dedicated to the success and creativity of each member.
It truly seems to me to be the friendliest place for writers on the Internet.
Not only that, they also know how to get some serious work done.
Every week they offer live training for their writers, bringing members behind the curtain to ask editors, agents, authors, and other publishing professionals the questions you want to know.
Here are some of the people who have served the hope*writer community in the past:

  • Ann Voskamp (author, NYT bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts)
  • Lisa-Jo Baker (author, Never Unfriended)
  • Marion Roach Smith (author, The Memoir Project)
  • Mark Lane (cover design, Tyndale House)
  • Melanie Shankle (NYT bestselling author)
  • Mike Kim (marketing consultant)
  • Rachelle Gardner (literary agent, Books & Such)
  • Ruth Chou Simons (author, Gracelaced)
  • Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith (author, Sacred Rest)
  • Seth Haines (author, Coming Clean)

All of these conversations are available inside right now inside hope*writers (and each week they add more!)
Hope*writers provides the training and guidance you need to become a working writer without losing your mind.
They are committed to standing in the gap with you, giving you the tools and perspective you need to share your words without feeling like a cartoon.
So if you’ve ever wanted to write a book, grow your blog, or get your words out of your head and into the hands of a reader, this is the best place for you.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is hope*writers is only open for new members until this Friday.
If you feel like you’ve outgrown Google, ditch the robots and find your writing people! Learn more and get signed up today right here at Hope Writers.
P.S. There is a special limited bonus (they will send in the actual US Mail) for the next few people who join hope*writers. Click to join.

Also, tonight there is a webinar hosted by author Emily P. Freeman (A Million Little Ways). Click HERE to RSVP for that as well!

 

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Even fat moms read the Bible

Recently I didn’t have any models for my stock photography so I decided to make myself a model, as uncomfortable as I was with that idea. I plopped myself in front of the camera with my intention to capture only my hands holding my Bible or at least being able to crop it that way.

But when I looked at my arms in the photos I thought “Oh gosh. I’m so fat. I can’t believe how fat I’ve gotten.”

And it’s true.

I’m fat.

Partially from poor decisions and partially from auto immune conditions I can’t seem to get a handle on. Five years ago I lost 30 pounds in three months and I’ve only recently re-started the lifestyle change that helped me get there, so we’ll see how this latest journey goes, but until then, I’m just fat. Not running myself down. It’s just where I am. Not big boned. Just fat.

Many of the photos in the Christian stock agency I submit to feature young, skinny women reading their Bibles, I guess because the idea is that only young, in shape women need God. Of course I know the photographers or stock agencies aren’t really thinking that when they take or approve the photos but the thought is there, subconsciously, even in my own mind: fat women don’t sell.

We just don’t. Right?

But guess, what, maybe we do because not every woman out there is a size four. Some of us are struggling and we may know we need to lose the weight but no matter what we do it isn’t working. Maybe it’s a medical issue blocking the weight loss or maybe it’s emotional pain but either way losing the weight is a battle and we are in the middle of it.

And what I thought when I saw those photos, after the initial depression and decision that I wouldn’t submit the images, “well, even fat moms read the Bible.”

Though the agency I work with is fairly diverse and offering a few more photos of the old and the fat, I don’t know if some in the Christian advertising world have caught on yet. So many are focused on catering to the Millenials, they’ve forgotten that there are a huge segment of Christians who don’t know what a Instagram is. There is also a segment (notice I left out the word “huge” here) of Christians who are struggling with their appearance in a world where they are told constantly they are only worthy if they shop a certain place, wear a certain size or have a certain amount of money.

DSC_6864This is where we are right now – us women who fight with our weight – and we need to read that Bible as much as the 21-year old skinny girl does. That 21-year old blond may look like she has it all together but she’s in need of a savior as much as the fat mom who cries in the closet with a pint of Haagen-daz when she looks at photos of herself. The only difference is the fat mom may find a bit more judgement because of how she looks and how she has “let herself go.”

Christ loves us no matter our size or what the world thinks of us, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that when a large majority of the Christian images we see in Christian or church publications are of young men or women wearing skinny jeans and hipster hats. Does the Kingdom belong only to the young and fashionable? I tend to think not.

DSC_6932While the youth of today may dismiss what they see as the old fashioned and out of touch ideas of the older generation, the older generation are also a driving force of the Kingdom.

And that younger generation will one day be the older generation and they will one day have to deal with the sagging chests and the expanding bottoms and, as author and speaker Lysa Terkurst says, the missing “thigh gap.”

No matter our size or our age we are all a part of the kingdom of God.

Maybe it is time the Christian advertising industry started to reflect that a little better.

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Photography for parents: Five tips to photographing your children inside your home

The other day I offered tips on where you can take your children outside of your home to capture memorable photographs of them. Today I want to assure you that you can also photograph your children inside your own home, no matter how dark or cluttered you think it is.

DSC_9625The key word in this post will be “light”, because no matter what your house offers in the way of light you will need light to make your photographs dynamic and interesting. Luckily you can almost always find a way to add more light to a situation and document the moment naturally unfolding before you.

Here are five ideas how to capture better photographs of your children inside your own home:

1) Move them to the light. If you can move them without ruining the moment that is even better. One idea is to encourage your child, or children, to move to an area of the house where there is more light before they begin their activity. This can be in a more lit room, near a window, by an open door or next to a lamp. Of course there is no need to share with them why you are asking them to move their activities elsewhere because, like most children, then they won’t do it.

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2) Get more light on the situation.

You can add more light to your scene in a variety of ways. A few ways include adding a speed light to your camera and bouncing the flash off a light colored surface (preferably white so you don’t pick up the hue of the wall or ceiling), increasing your ISO, widening your aperture, or simply opening some curtains or pointing a light in the direction of your scene or subject. Turning the lights on in a room won’t always provide flattering light, but this is an option. In some cases turning the light on in a room will actually cause your photos to look even worse because you will pick up what is called ambient light (the light in the room) and it could give your subject odd colored skin, either too orange or too blue depending on what kind of light is used to light the room.

DSC_1444-EditWhen it comes to flash, I rarely use the flash that came built into my camera as it often creates unflattering, blown out images of subjects with red, glowing eyes. Instead I use a speed light and bounce the flash off of a wall or ceiling to better light the scene. To learn more about using bounce flash you can read here or watch here.

Of course, if your skills are even more advanced you can use strobe lights or another form or off camera flash or lighting, but that is another post for another day.

3) Watch your backgrounds.

Don’t stop the action but if you can stealthy move the distracting element from behind your subjects then do it, even if you have to ninja roll to push the lamp out of the way. Of course, if you are like me and were born without the athletic gene it might be more distracting if you attempt to move the item and lock your back up in the middle of the ninja roll and start screaming in pain. In the instance where you can’t move the item try to move yourself so the object is out of the view of your camera. If you’re knowledgeable in Photoshop then you could also clone the object out of the background.

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5) Get in close or move further back and try different angles.

Don’t be afraid to move in closer to your subjects, but moving further back (if there is room where you are) can capture environmental portraits or show the viewer what is really happening around the subject. Trying different distances and angles can help add unique and eye catching images for the viewer but also help you to really remember the moment and the details around it.

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Bonus tip: let go of your expectations of perfection

This bonus tip is the most important of all the tips and is one you should keep in mind no matter where you are photographing your children. It is also the most difficult tip for me to put into practice, even though I know how important it is.

Children are never going to do exactly what we envision when it comes to photographs of them so we need to accept that our photographs won’t always come out the way we envisioned it in our mind. Sometimes the photo may be even better than what we imagined.

Letting go of my expectations is hard for me because as a photographer I see what I want to capture in my mind and if it doesn’t unfold the way I imagined then I may begin feel discouraged and disenchanted with the moment.

Unfortunately, if we focus too much on our concept of a perfect photo it can lead us to miss precious, camera worthy moments.

Approaching photographs with your children while having the mindset that you are there to document moments, no matter how they unfold, can help make photographing your children more relaxing, enjoyable and memorable for you and them.

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The soldier’s hat

I remember the day Harry gave my son the VFW hat.  We were at a celebration at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars where they were honoring Harry because he was moving from the area to live with family.

I had taken Jonathan with me so I could grab a photograph for the local newspaper, but also so I could say goodbye to Harry, who I had interviewed years ago about his service during World War II. We had visited Harry at a nursing home a few weeks earlier while also visiting my aunt. My son, Jonathan, was 7 at the time.

I told Jonathan that Harry had fought for our country during World War II and to free the Jews during the Holocaust, something we had been talking about one night when he had asked me some historical questions. I remember how horrified he was about Hitler treating the Jews so awful and because of his age, I left out the worst of it, mainly only telling him how much the Nazis had hated the Jewish people and how wrong it was. After I introduced Jonathan to Harry, who was in the hallway sitting in a wheelchair, Jonathan, without prompting, saluted him.

Harry was touched and overwhelmed. As I sat and chatted with Harry, often having to almost shout since he had lost some of his hearing by then (he was almost 93), Jonathan drew a picture of Harry in the war, jumping out of airplanes and fighting in the Phillipines. Again, Harry was touched and impressed with Jonathan.

So, a week later when we attended Harry’s farewell celebration, we were surprised and emotional when Harry asked to see Jonathan and handed him two of his VFW Commander hats. Harry was thrilled to see Jonathan and smiled and talked to him, thanking him again for the salute and the picture.

We were definitely sad a year later when we heard Harry passed away. He had dedicated more than three decades to the local VFE post, where he served four years as post commander, 20 years as post quartermaster, 10 years as district quartermaster and three years as district commander. During his time at the VFW he had been named an All-American post commander, an All-American quartermaster three times, and also received several awards through the VFW.

DSC_4820DSC_4821-Edit-2When Harry passed away the  new post commander, Dan Polinski, told the local paper about the countless times Harry and others of Harry’s generation had stood in all kinds of weather to honor veterans who had passed away. Dan remembered one specific day where the rain was coming down, cold and stinging, against their faces.

“The younger of us, and I use that term loosely, said to Harry, O.C. Spencer, and some of the other World War II guys, ‘Listen, you guys, don’t stay out in this.’ The wind was whipping and it was brutal,” said Polinski. “Harry, and O.C., and all of the old crew — all of the old World War II guys who had stood with this Color Guard guy at many other funerals — just said, ‘No. He would do this for us.’” (Morning Times, Sayre, Pa. August 1, 2014)

I can attest to Dan’s story because I remember those rainy Memorial Days (in fact, I remember more rainy Memorial Days in Bradford County than sunny ones. It seems it always rains when there is a parade or a ceremony to honor veterans here.) I covered a few of those ceremonies for local newspapers and when I first saw Harry, and fellow World War II veteran O.C. Spencer, standing out in inclement or sweltering hot weather, I wondered why someone didn’t get them a chair or an umbrella, or usher them inside. Looking back I know it was because they stood not only to honor the fallen and those who served but to honor our country. They did what so many of us don’t, or won’t, do. They did what they’d done years ago when called to fight; standing when others turned or walked away.

DSC_5342_1We keep Harry’s hats sealed inside the clear plastic case he handed them to Jonathan in and we keep them in an honored spot next to a sealed American flag given to Warren’s family after his great-grandfather passed away. And when we do pull the hats out we not only remember the man who stood at every Memorial and Veterans day service, no matter the weather, in full uniform, honoring those who served and those who fell, but the man who came home from war, worked with troubled youth with his wife for a decade, worked hard at every job he did, and also showed us how to persevere during the toughest times in life.

It’s hard sometimes to look at the local Color Guard during Memorial Day services and not see Harry standing there, rifle propped against his shoulder, back straight, jaw firm, gaze steady. I find myself choking up at the memory of the dedication he showed and how a new generation is missing out on the lessons of perseverance his mere presence there taught us.

What is important, I remind myself, isn’t that he isn’t here anymore, but that he was there at all and that there are people still around who will work to keep his memory and legacy alive.

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She adores him but he’s a bit clueless

DSC_6570-2My daughter certainly adores her older brother. He’s 11. She’s three.

He went with a friend to a gadget club at the local library and while he was gone she found this dress and put it on, telling me how she wanted to look nice for him when he got home.

We had actually gone upstairs to look for her swimsuit because she was determined she was going swimming, even though it was too cold and I had told her I was too busy making dinner to take her out to her small, plastic pool. She’d already turned down her one bathing suit, insisting she needed the new one daddy had got her, when she saw the white laced dress with the pink ribbon. It was a dress she had previously refused to wear for me on more than one occasion.

This day, though, she saw it as an opportunity to grab her big brother’s attention, something she’d been doing even inside the womb. When I was pregnant with her she would begin kicking whenever I curled up with him at night and read him a book before bed. We were all convinced she came two weeks before her due date simply because she could hear all the fun he was having and wanted in on it. She never crawled, only rolled and started pulling herself up on chairs at seven months and walking at nine so she could chase her brother around the house.

“Oh, when he sees me I just know he’s going to tell me how beautiful I look,” she told me. “He’ll say ‘oh my gosh! Grace, you look so beautiful!”

DSC_6516DSC_6497DSC_6528While we waited I had to take the new puppy out to do her business, as the saying goes, in the backyard. My daughter stood at the door and said she couldn’t come out because she didn’t want anyone to see her not wearing pants in public.

I explained she was a girl and girls wear dresses so it was okay if she wasn’t wearing pants with her dress. She didn’t seem convinced but she came out anyhow. I should have also reminded her that she was running around our side yard in the middle of town without a shirt the night before, imitating her brother, so I didn’t know what she was worried about now.

Finally her brother came home, looked at her standing out in the backyard in her pretty dress and said, in a tone of voice similar to a person who has just been forced to watch an hour of NOVA. “Oh. You’re wearing a dress.”

DSC_6529DSC_6543Standing behind her I tried to hint to him that he needed to tell her she looked beautiful. I mouthed the words, “tell her she looks lovely.”

“What?!” he said loudly. “I can’t hear you!”

I mouthed the words slowly again, whispering a little now , but again he squished his face up at me and said “What?Huh? What are you saying?”

Finally I gritted my teeth a bit and whispered loudly at him “tell her she looks beautiful!”

He said, “ooooh!”, looked at her, shrugged his shoulders and said with not much emotion, “you look beautiful.”

It was good enough for her because the rest of the night he was the recipient of the most adoring look from her and she wanted him to carry her and play with her and sit by her at dinner. This adoration was, of course, gone by the next morning when she woke up cranky and told him to stop touching her and that he wasn’t allowed to hug her.

Ah. Siblings.

Always an adventure.

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You want to dig a hole in the back yard instead of playing on digital devices? OK.

This is part of a monthly blog circle where we post 10 photos on the 10th day of the month. To continue the circle click on the link at the bottom of the post.


She had a spade and she wanted to dig for worms in the space where our garden is going to go, at some point, though it will probably be late again like it was last year.  I was a little relieved she seemed interested in finding something to do without us needing to take a trip somewhere that might involve money. It was a tight week financially and I was feeling guilty I couldn’t take the kids to a local arts festival.

A few moments later my oldest pulled a shovel out of the garage and  was shoveling too. He didn’t know why, he just wanted to dig a hole and see what was there, he said.

I had to think about this for a moment. Did I want them to really dig a hole in our side yard? It was where I want to put a garden this year again. Plus it was space where the children and new puppy could run. But then, here they were on a sunny day, outside in the fresh air. They weren’t inside on digital devices or starring at what my mom had called “the boob tube” when I was growing up. I decided I’d let them do almost anything if they were outside enjoying themselves.

DSC_5520I let go of what some might consider conventional parenting thoughts of “we shouldn’t get dirty” and the logical questions of “why are you digging a hole?” and “what will you do with this hole once it is dug?” Instead, I stood and watched them dig their hole. The dug all day until it was so dark they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces.

It reminded me of my childhood – playing and pretending and creating outside until well after the glow of dusk had faded and we could hear the peepers and the crickets in the woods behind the house. My shins would be bruised and my knees dirty and Mom would send me straight to the tub where I often turned it brown with the dirt I’d been playing in.

DSC_5546DSC_5528DSC_5543DSC_5561_1DSC_5571_1DSC_5546DSC_5790They took the digging so seriously it was almost like being on a work site. My 11-year old (the boy) did most of the digging while my 3-year old (the girl) sifted through the dirt to collect rocks, putting them off to the side, along with pieces of glass and some old bones. We were a bit alarmed by the old bones, hoping we weren’t digging up a former homeowner’s old pets, but then remembered this area was where our old dog used to burry the various bones and treats we’d give him.DSC_5953_1

At the end of the day we ran a bath and the kids filled it with bubbles and had a bubble war.

“This has been the best day ever, hasn’t it?” My 11-year old asked as they dried off.

And here I thought it was going to be one of the worst.
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To continue the circle click over to Erika Kao’s blog.

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Five places to capture memorable photos of your children

DSC_3155You’re thinking to yourself right now – I’m sure you are – that your house is too dark for photos of your children and that your flash is unflattering and makes your children look albino (which isn’t bad if you are an actual albino, of course.)

So, where can you take photographs of your children that you will cherish for years to come if you don’t believe you can take them at home? (And actually you can take them at home and I’ll tell you how in my next post.)

There is nothing better than being able to distract your child, and maybe even you, with something fun so you can photograph them while they are in action and you are all relaxed. Here are five ideas where to take your children for some photographs of them that you will want to frame and put on your wall or print out to place in your scrapbooks.

1) A local playground. Here is the key about taking photographs of your children at the local playground: don’t try to pose them. In fact, not trying to pose them anywhere is probably the biggest key to child photography. Strict posing of young children often results in disaster and that disaster usually includes tears. Sometimes tears are acceptable for photographs, if you want to capture the emotion of the moment, but minimizing them is always desirable.

If you want photographs of your children as they really are, let them play and photograph them as they play, whether that’s getting messy in the mud or sliding down the slide. Are you looking for a photograph of them looking right at the camera? Well, then get that camera ready because without a doubt they’re going to need mommy or daddy at some point and they are going to turn and look for you and, consequently right at you. And if they don’t? Calling their name once or twice will, sometimes, result in them turning their face toward you. The moment they turn is when you snap the photo you want because as all parents know, asking for them to stop and pose for you may result in cheesy smiles or, worse yet, shakes of the head.

 

2) A hiking trail.

Not only are you all exploring and experiencing nature but the natural backgrounds and soft lighting created on many hiking trails is the perfect setting for memorable images of your children. If you’re a homeschooling parent, and even if you’re not, you can also make the excursion an educational one by learning more about the plants and trees and animals you encounter.

A couple tips: make sure to protect yourselves from ticks (as Lyme Disease carrying ticks are very prevalent in many areas of the United States, especially Pennsylvania and especially in 2018.); wear protection from the sun; bring water, a snack and a first aid kit; and read up on what those poisonous plants, like poison ivy and oak, and poisonous snakes look like!

One other tip for hiking trails: expect a mess at some point so try to grab your photographs early in the hike if you’re looking for photographs of “clean” children. I have no concept of a “clean child” in my family so this one isn’t a concern for me, luckily, and I just roll with the mud and the wet moments that are sure to occur.

_DSC08493) Museums.

Your local, or even not so local, museum is a great place to learn about history or art and photograph your children. Not only can a museum provide dynamic and interesting backgrounds but it can also provide faces looking up at paintings (great lighting and a good look at the face for the scrapbooks), colorful backgrounds and children engaged in hands on learning experiences.

Visiting a local museum is also a great way to support local art, history, science, whatever the museum features. Tip: be sure to double check for any signs that might prohibit photography in certain areas and again, like other excursions, take snacks (if they are allowed) to be sure you aren’t stuck with photographing hunger-induced meltdowns.

 

4) Small fairs or art shows.

Almost everything about a small, community fair or art show lends itself to stellar photographs of your children that capture their true personalities. There are rides (laughing faces), games (winning faces), food (messy faces), and sometimes animals (sweet faces). Yes, you may have noticed a theme in that previous sentence because capturing the face of your child is what this is all about after all.

As is the case in other locations, be sure to watch your backgrounds so you don’t end up with the creepy looking dude at the fair standing in the background of the smiling image of your little one.

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5) Ice cream stand.

Nothing makes a kid happier than dairy and sugar, unless, of course they are lactose intolerant. Actually, in all seriousness, my son is lactose intolerant and he takes enzymes that allow him to digest dairy, so the lactose intolerant still can enjoy a trip to the ice cream stand and you can photograph your children while they are in one place, slightly confined and entranced by their frozen treat. Fun images to capture are their ice cream mustaches and their first few licks when the ice cream is bigger than their head.

Bonus: if the ice cream stand has a miniature golf course with it! Even more fun photos can be taken while they play through the course a couple of times.

A couple closing thoughts to keep in mind before you head out the door for photographs with your children:

– make sure your camera battery is not only charged, but in the camera.

– make sure your digital camera has a memory card.

– If you are using a phone, make sure you have a full battery charge or bring a car charger with you.

– try to get yourself in a couple of the photographs so your children know you were there too.

And last, don’t worry if your child doesn’t look at the camera in every photograph. Photographs of children not looking at a camera but still having a good time, laughing or loving each other will still provide great memories for them and their family as they grow.

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Tell Me More About . . . Lisa Hurst, writer

Lisa Hurst is the author of a year long devotional she updates each week at 365 Days in the Presence. 

She also kindly wrote a guest post for this blog last year about victory.

Currently living in Athens, Pa., Lisa is a Southern girl (even if she is living in the North at the moment because, as “they” say, “you can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the girl.”). She is the mom of four children and works from home in her and her husband’s business. She is a musician, worship leader, writer, and a strong woman of God.

Thank you, Lisa for letting me feature you on this installment of Tell Me More About…

000015__DSC9221Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from Arkansas. The South has roots deep down inside my heart. In the same breath I am content and flourishing here in PA, while longing for the comforts of “home”. There is such beauty here, don’t get me wrong, but I think most people love their home state most. We all look forward to being able to move back there one day.

My husband and I run Hurst Consulting INC (HCI). We are blessed to be able to work side by side. When we were first married we discovered that we could work well together in a business setting, so deciding to have this business was not a big stretch for us, relationally speaking. We have 4 kids, Noah, Naomi, Micah, and Hannah. We adore them. I really love watching different personalities develop.

What fills your days?

My days are full. Ha ha. After I take the kids to school, I am either volunteering at school, working with Chris, writing, or planning and singing worship. It feels like this is the busiest my life has ever been, but it’s also the most satisfying. I love leading worship. It’s my first love.

000002__DSC9067---CopyHow did you become interested in writing? You are also a talented musician. How did you become involved in music and what inspires your musical passion? How do you use your talent?

Some of my earliest memories involve making up songs and humming tunes. Music has always moved me in a deep, deep place. After graduating High School, I went on to college and earned a Bachelors in Music with emphasis on vocal performance. That is where I really began to walk into my primary calling as a worship leader. The ups and downs of life almost took me over during the college years, and worship became an escape. Now, I take great pleasure in leading others into the Presence of the Lord through worship. I lead worship in several different venues, with a variety of age groups. I guess you could say my days are full of worship.

I began to write during college. When I hit rock bottom and began to search out what it meant to walk with Jesus, I got a devotional that also had a journaling section. That was the best decision ever. Writing became a release to me. Now writing is like a conversation. I talk to God, He talks to me. I just love it!

000001__DSC9062---CopyShortly after I married Chris, God began to tell me He wanted me to be a writer. I said, “You’re gonna have to make that happen. I have no idea where to start.” So, the last 13 years have been a journey toward developing as a writer and taking one small step of obedience after another. Writing 365 Days in the Presence devotional is one of those steps. As 2017 was nearing its end, I began to ask God for a word for my life in 2018.

Every year I ask Him for a word, and every year He gives one and I spend the next year watching that word develop in my life. But this time when I asked He said, “365 days in the Presence”. And I would say, “Ok. Now, what’s Your word for 2018?”. Once again, I heard, “365 Days in the Presence”. Then I saw in a snapshot, that He wanted me to commit to writing a devotional and publishing it weekly through 2018. I agreed and immediately after I went public with the idea, He spoke my word for 2018 to me. How cool is that? He wanted me to first obey a new calling, then He released a sweet word for my year.

What inspires you beyond your writing?

I am inspired by many things, but one thing I love more than most is watching kids and teens learn to hear from God. I wish I had been taught to hear and worship at that age, so it brings me great pleasure and encouragement to lead them into His presence. Kids can hear so easily. It’s truly humbling to listen to how God speaks so gently to their hearts.

000009__DSC9141.jpgWhat is the best part of being a Mom and home-based business owner?

The best part of being a mom and home-based business owner is the flexibility. Being mom is my first calling and priority. Working from home allows me the luxury of helping at school, and dropping off and picking up my kids from school. I like to encourage and pray with them in the mornings on the way to school, and I like being the one they process their day with on the way home from school. That is important and sacred time.

In a final note, I would say that one of the most important things I’ve discovered about being a wife and mother is, I must keep growing and “becoming” even while I’m taking care of everyone else. In other words, I can’t use being a mom as an excuse to not be continually walking with and being changed by God. In fact, I’ve watched my husband’s love for me increase the closer I walk with Jesus, and my kids act more stable and secure when I’m in constant communion with Him and ministering as He leads.

If you know a person, place, book or event that should be highlighted through a Tell Me More About feature let me know in the comments or at lisahoweler@gmail.com