Archives For blogging

Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera Paperback –
by Bryan Peterson

Well this is my first photography book to review and I am delighted to say I picked a great first one. The Dance between shutter speed, aperture, and exposure is kind of a tough one to wrangle. I’m still learning that end even though I have been this book really opened up my mind. Many other sources go into explaining the why and how, but I have never really understood it. I love that the book goes into detail and then backs it up with photos that not only show the image taken but show the photographer taking it. This inside look actually made things so much clearer for me.

It also includes suggestions on how to create exercises from the techniques laid out. I am looking forward to trying out many of these ideas. One of them was waving quickly a blanket or curtain behind a persons head and then shooting at a slow shutter speed to get a blur behind them. That is pure brilliance and I can’t wait to try it.

It is just so full of good things and imagery. I would give this simple read 4 out of 5 stars. Glad I got it and even more glad to put it’s ideas and expertise into practice in my own work.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


My Whole 30 Journey

February 18, 2016 — Leave a comment

Today is day 31 of my whole30 challenge. If you have been trapped in a bunker somewhere let me fill you in on what I did. For 30 days I ate only good, unprocessed food. No added sugar of any kind, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy, no legumes and no MSG/carrageenan/sulfites/other chemicals. I ate meat, seafood (only shrimp because I don’t like seafood), eggs, vegetables, fruit, oils, nuts and seeds.

I decided to do this challenge because quite honestly I had tried pretty much everything over the years to get healthy. Fad diets, workouts, sitting on a couch and binge watching netflix; nothing seemed to work. I knew a few years ago that my cholesterol was high and my family health history is horrendous. I used to be more active playing racquetball almost daily and basketball from time to time, but then life, business, and age got in the way and I found myself getting injured with simple exercises. Something had to shift and I needed to make sure that my food affected mood was stabilized and I was alive for my kids. Here came in whole30 which was not introduced to me as a diet, but instead a life change and gut reset.

I jumped in head first with no clue how I would feel, if I would make it and quite honestly if we could afford it. The first day I went shopping was with the book in hand and iphone cued to a few websites yet I still felt like I was flying blind. As I went along I started to get the hang of what I needed. I had to read every label on everything I bought and I was floored by how much sugar is in everything we buy. Even some of the meat that I buy with a slight marinade on it has sugar in it. If things didn’t have sugar then they had some form of wheat in it. In the beginning, when I was still trying to figure out how I could possibly make a meal without bread and cheese, I found myself mentally paralyzed.

“Are you kidding?!! I can’t have a french baguette?! What am I going to dip into my cheese covered chili?! Wait… I have to take the cheese off?”

The first week was the hardest and while the book says “don’t say this is hard”, those first 4 days sucked. It was hard because of the raging sugar dragon felt like it was biting my head off. The headaches were bad, but it also showed me with evidence how much my body craves sugar.

After the first week I began to discover the “tricks” of the diet to ensure I didn’t spend our monthly food budget in one week. In the end we spent more on our grocery bill, but because we did not eat out we actually saved money on our month. Many sites say to shop the “perimeter” in the grocery store, but in mine that is where the cheese and bread is so instead I made sure to go in with a goal and get only what I need and get the heck out of there. I love to shop so that was difficult for me.

I had to cook for every meal which at times was a bit more taxing than throwing some cheese on a sandwich, but it was also rewarding. I found myself trying really hard to not only make food that tasted really good and seasoned well, but I also leaned into my artistic side and gave myself a motivation of making the best looking food I could.

Going out to eat I attempted once and it was virtually impossible. That says something I’d say. There is so much garbage in chain restaurant food that the only way to eat it on whole 30 is to buy a dish and take a quarter of the food off the plate to eat and leave the rest to throw out. It is a waste and I actually found it discouraging to even try again.

Before I started whole 30 I used to get major stomach pain whenever I ate things that were acidic like salsa and tomato sauce. I avoided those things at all costs and took digestive enzymes to help sooth my gut. I already knew cheese made my sinus’ hurt and bread made me bloated so to lose them made sense. About a week into whole 30 I decided to add salsa to an omelet. I was ready for the stomach pain. Here it comes… that knife in the gut feeling. However, this time I felt fine. I was convinced it was a fluke to I tried it for a few more days. Still no pain at all. I was beside myself because I actually reset my body. I am not sure if it was the sugar, the dairy or wheat but it was clear the combination of crappy food also gave me a volatile and temperamental stomach. This discovery still excites me.

I had somebody ask me during this whole 30 thing.

“Isn’t switching to organic, grass-fed meats, veggies and fruits going to be crazy expensive?”

My answer was simple:

“It will be a lot less than a triple bypass”

I could go on and on with some tips and tricks, but I think I am going to save that for the rest of my whole 30 blogging journey. I have almost 900 posts on this blog and have been writing on here since 2006. 10 years of writing, but this last month of whole 30 I decided to just do with photos on Instagram so I could try it out with little pressure and be successful.

This is the same reason why I decided not to work out during the 30 days. I knew it would be better, but at the same time I also knew it would be too much and a great reason to quit before I learned anything about myself.

I was scared to death of black coffee or even coffee with coconut milk in it. After the 4th day it seems my tastebuds changed and I was able to tolerate it more. Of course I miss my sugar and hazelnut, but it was doable. I found the last two weeks my coffee intake went down to about 1/4 and it was replaced by copious amounts of green tea.

I have not missed sweets or ice cream at all, except on my wife’s birthday. I have had my fill of beef, chicken and pork so I have not really craved a burger except a delicious bun. I have, however, crave since day one pizza and pasta with garlic break. So good and tasty.

I started to have BreadADD… mirage’s of garlic knots…

Ultimately it became very easy to do, simple to plan and my food tasted great. The way I felt far outweighed my mourning of bread and cheese.

So let me break down how I did, how I feel and what is next.

How I did:
I am really proud of myself for sticking this out, not cheating at all, spending the time to learn and exciting others to do the same.

  • Starting Weight: 269.8/270 lbs (i have a crappy scale)
  • Current Weight: 254 lbs
  • Weight-loss total: 15.8/16 lbs
  • Belt Holes moved: 2
  • Goal Weight: 210 lbs

How I feel:
I was 254 lbs last year, but this 254 lbs is different. This is a healthier 254 lbs. I feel better than i have in 10 years. They speak of tigers blood or feeling like a super hero in the book. I don’t feel like that and I am not sure I ever will. I am not 20 any more, but I do feel great and the feeling and simplicity of this diet has given me new eyes on my health.

What’s Next:
As you can see I am not at my goal weight so it’s very clear I still need a plan moving forward. The book has a food reintroduction process of 10 days to figure out which foods affect your gut now that it’s all cleaned out. I already know which foods mess with me. Sugar makes me crash, bread makes me bloated and worthless, and cheese makes me stuffy and have headaches.

Knowing all this and how whole 30 made me feel I have decided on a few things:

  1. I am going to continue on to a Whole 60
  2. I plan to have a “treat meal” every 15 days because I still want to enjoy things I eliminated. I am however changing the moniker “cheat” to “treat” because quite honestly I don’t need any more negativity than the amount I currently produce.
  3. I am going to have a workout schedule for these next 30 days to tone up and create the energy needed to burn more fat.

And last, tonight I plan to celebrate my 30 days of pure victory with 20 min of bliss with a pizza and garlic knots. There is no way that one meal is going to have me gain everything back I lost. It will, however, be tasty and most likely make me feel like crap an hour later giving me the right amount of guilt to spur on another 30 days of kicking tail! 


In the last two weeks I have had the opportunity to sit in a theater to watch 3 different films…
Here are my reviews of each:

I was invited to see this flick by a buddy of mine and I went in blind because I had not even seen a trailer of it before walking into the theater. It was rated R and I expected some violence and language, but what I didn’t expect was the preview trailer before the film. On the screen came the preview of the movie “unfinished business” and I was subject to non stop cursing from the start and it ended with a full nudity sex scene that was meant to be funny. Sorry Hollywood, it wasn’t funny at all. As a matter of fact it almost spoiled my movie. When you go to a film with an expectation of the content that is in it and then met with a trailer that is more inappropriate than the movie itself, you feel cheated and ticked off.
So enough of that rant. Lets get to the movie review. It started off amazing with a smart james bond type of script. It was slick, creative and heady. As soon as I got comfortable with that Samuel Jackson came on the screen as the bad guy that can be best described as the cross between Russell Simmons, Snakes on a plane, and a Dr. Evil with a lisp. I was so entranced with this film and when Sam Jackson showed up I could no longer take the movie seriously. I decided to sit back and attempt to calm my spy alter ego down. I found myself entertained, but no longer impressed. The violence was over the top and almost cartoony which ruined the smarty spy aspect. At the end of the movie we find out a mechanism in a persons neck could make their head explode. Ok.. That actually does make sense… and then we actually see 200 peoples heads explode. Do they explode like you would anticipate with blood and brains all over and us wanting to throw up from disgust? Nope… they explode with colored chalk dust in a cloud of purple and blue rainbows followed by a mushroom cloud of disappointment. To cap it all off, because I can only assume they wanted to compete with the “coming soon trailer” before it they decided to throw in a butt shot in the last 2 min for absolutely no reason at all.
Conclusion – I tried… I really tried… Sam Jackson and the color chalk exploding heads made a really cool spy thriller into a fantastical dumb mess. – 2 of 5 stars

My wife and I had a date night last week that started off with a nasty, moldy piece of toast at IHOP. It was essential that this movie changed the trajectory of my evening. THANK GOD IT DID! I am a huge fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, having first become a fan with the BBC show “Sherlock”. I don’t have a ton to say about this movie because there is literally nothing about it I could complain about. The story was based on a true one and while I had heard pieces of this, it was amazing to watch what happened. The acting was extraordinary! The script was well written, believable, inspiring and obviously a labour of love. I didn’t want this movie to end. It is not a traditional war movie because it is centered around a bunch of code breakers. This movie is a masterpiece.
Conclusion – If you don’t see this film I will come to your house and smack you. 5 of 5 stars

Do you see the picture I chose for this post with the girl, Jupiter, falling from a building and screaming that somebody would save her from the pending doom? That is exactly how I felt watching this movie. I really wanted to see this movie. I really wanted to like this movie and I really wish I had bought a coffee to bring into the theater because my friends to the left and right of my both fell asleep. The PG in the PG-13 rating for this movie I’m sure stood for PIECE OF GARBAGE! Visually it was mind-blowing and memorizing even if the laser guns never seemed to hit anything or anybody. As I was being entranced by the visual effects, the space ships and the intergalactic steam punk world I was bombarded by quite possibly the worst script ever written in movie history. It was like that scene in the wizard of OZ where Dorothy was told to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. The Visual effects were designed to attempt to distract us from a script that was obviously written by a panel of 4 year olds. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, as we were all woken up from our slumber in the utter boredom, it became apparent we were watching a Space twilight movie. Every time there was a cool fight scene I would sit up excited to finally get into the movie, only then to find myself scratching my head wondering why something so beautiful was so boring and contrived. There are three major bad guys who individually have a climactic scene. Oddly enough though the scenes end with nothing climatic ad all and cut to another place in space. As a movie watcher you are tossed around, jumbled up and forced to ingest this story on account you don’t want to waste your $9 by walking out.

Caine is falling in love with Jupiter, but Doesn’t believe they have much in common. Jupiter disagrees…

Caine Wise: Your Majesty, I have more in common with a dog than I have with you.
Jupiter Jones: I love dogs

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! “I LOVE DOGS” as she leans in and tries to kiss him? all this script convinces me is to write a PSA to all the kids out there. Ahem… KIDS… DON’T DO DRUGS and STAY IN SCHOOL or else you will write dumb crap like this!

There is even one scene where she asks CAine “do you want to bite me now?” He doesn’t bite her, thankfully, but this MOVIE sure BITES!

Conclusion – I could literally talk about every every moment of this ‘dog dung wrapped in a beautiful package’, but It’s best I put it simply. DO NOT see this movie! Let me give you some recommendations of other crappy movies instead so you can grasp how bad this was. Battlefield earth, Leonard part 6, BioDome, Catwoman, Rabid Grannies. Are you tracking with me here? 2 hours & 5 min you will NEVER EVER get back.  0 of 5 stars

Shadow God

March 18, 2014 — Leave a comment


One of my favorite things in life is taking a hike. Not up a mountain where I’m too dead to enjoy it but a hike nevertheless. I guess you can say I prefer lazy, I don’t need an oxygen tank, hiking. I see God in the walk, in the elegance of the trees, in the shade of the overhanging foliage and in the bazillions of creatures all around.

I have a love-hate relationship when my family is with me while hiking though. I love having them with me but the older ones seem to lag behind and yell a lot scaring all the cool woodland creatures away. Any chance at seeing a hawk or scurrying animal are pretty much gone when those two boys are with me. Our two little ones are just the opposite.  They run so far ahead that when they trip over a rock I am no where near to catch them or even help them back up. They are just moving too fast and are not able to hear my warnings. I’ll be honest because I get frustrated. I want them to listen to my experience in hiking. In taking it all it. My knowledge about birds and my caution about things that can trip them up. My goal isn’t making it so they don’t enjoy themselves. As a matter of fact sometimes having a bit of structure makes things even more enjoyable. My goal, in reality, is to teach them to shadow their father so they stay safe, take the right paths, and don’t miss the lessons and treasures.

The most simplified way of explaining Shadowing God is that it is the concept of walking with Him. It is very similar to my walk with my kids. There are times we get ahead of God. We jump into things we shouldn’t because we are 20 steps ahead of Him. We don’t heed the warnings of the Holy Spirit. When we trip up, we have isolated ourselves from the Church and God and there is nobody there to pick us back up again. Other times, like my oldest, we lag behind and we drag our feet. We yell so loudly we can no longer hear the still small voice of God. He asks us to catch up so we don’t miss what He is doing.

The Bible says His word is a lamp that lights our path. Sometimes that path is so dim we can’t see our hand in front of our face. It’s those times when we need to shadow closer and put our hands on God’s shoulders. The farther we get away from God and His voice the harder it is to see clearly. Other times our path is very clear and full of light. There will always be an ebb and flow to our walk with God but regardless of our situation one thing is clear…
It’s best to STAY CLOSE.

John 15
English Standard Version (ESV)
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

So in this text we are compared to branches that grow on a vine. It uses the word Abide:

Abide means: to endure, accept, remain, dwell, continue

It’s essential to understand that abiding is “being” not “doing”.
Staying close is about being constantly in the presence of GOD.

Sometimes when you start at a new job your boss asks you to “shadow” a more experienced employee. The reason is because your goal is to not only learn from this person, but emulate them. The more you shadow the more you become like that person and exhibit “good fruit”.

Our “fruit” (good deeds, attitudes, etc) comes out of relationship with God.
listen carefully… our Relationship with God does NOT come from the fruit.

Colossians 2:6-7
New Living Translation (NLT)
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to
follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him.
Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will
overflow with thankfulness.

As we ABIDE… as We stay close then we will overflow with the goodness of the
almighty. As our roots grow down deep into Him the less we will be shaken and the more we will become like Christ.
This doesn’t me there are not things to do… What I’m saying is it starts with getting to know our GOD and being faithful to Him.

Mark Batterson said “Faithfulness is not holding the fort… it’s storming the gates of hell”

The Bible makes it clear it wont always be easy. There will be trials and persecution and there will be such amazing joy.
Who we are and what we do comes from God.
We love because he first loved.
We give because He gave.
It starts and ends with God…He is not dead…He is alive:

Acts 17:28 “for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own
poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.”

It is important to recognize that our walk is not for you and your buddy Jesus.
We were meant to Shadow God together. This is not a personal walk. It is a communal one.

1 Corinthians 11:1
“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”

In other words “shadow me as I Shadow God”
We need each other. We need the Church and the body because it is a realm where an invisible God is made visible. Church is not a country club where you pay your dues and get what you want. We don’t do membership at Ember because we realize that there needs to be a mindset change in the church away from the country club mentality. Instead it needs to move towards the reality that God calls us to sell all and follow Him. The reward is not in us getting things we want, but in getting to be with a loving God.

The church community is so important.
It’s a place where we abide in the shadow of the almighty!
It’s a place where we share our lows and our greatest triumphs!
It’s a place where we learn to embrace our diversity and find oneness as we take a bite of bread and drink wine.

One of the most paralyzing things in our walk and one of the main reasons why Church has become less about God and more about us is we Love the big event and are not good with ordinary.

I have great parents and they are also good grandparents. Over the years we have had many discussions with them about grandparenting. They were convinced that big outlandish events were how they should hang out with our children. While the events and trips were cool it became something that was not maintainable. Over time it became paralyzing because the “amazing” trumped the “ordinary” and the idea of just sitting down and reading a book with the kids seemed too miniscule.

We have forgotten how important “ordinary” is.

Acts 9:36-42
36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means
Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she
became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper
room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was
there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So
Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper
room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other
garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all
outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha,
arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he
gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he
presented her alive. 42 And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many
believed in the Lord.

Tabitha, maybe a widow or rich herself, took care of the broken and poor widows.
In verse 36 it says that this WOMAN was a disciple. I love that because once again we see the heart of God for the marginalized.
She used her talents and walked with God. She didn’t wait for a church event or for the leaders to create a clothing drive. She instead loved those around her and in front of her on her own. She considered the widows her friends and community.
When Tabitha died the widows lost a friend and their protector. God considered her healing to be urgent. This was the first resurrection performed by an apostle and I am convinced Luke and God wanted to show us that her faithfulness, being good at ordinary, and her love for the broken was storming the gates of hell!

She says nothing with her mouth in this chapter, but she said so much in how she shadowed God. She saw Jesus in the mundane task and in her broken community. She chose to abide and the fruit and transformation of her whole community came from that.

Shadowing God is not about our devotions…It’s about being devoted
It’s not about our intentions… It’s about being intentional
It’s not about our worship… It’s about the object of your worship.

Don’t underestimate the value of being ordinary and shadowing God. It is in our obedience in being “ordinary” that God fully shows how He is Extraordinary.

Jesus A Theography Review

March 11, 2014 — 1 Comment

A Theography
By Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

I had the Privilege of hanging, along with a small group of people, at an event to hear Leonard Sweet speak. The man is brilliant and I am honestly in awe of his brain. Full disclosure here…I received this book about a year ago and have not had the chance to review it. I also have every intention of reading it over again, not because I have forgotten about it, but because it is such a good read.

This is like an adult version of the Jesus storybook bible, but without pictures.
Jesus says, “The Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39 NLT). This book draws our eyes to the attention of the narrative of scripture. That it isn’t just a bunch of stories jammed into a book and is instead one story broken up into parts.

This book gives the reader so much insight as it jumps from genesis to revelation. It is a compendium of THE STORY which gives is insight into the character of Jesus and His revelation through scripture.

It is not a short book and requires thought, but I think it is an amazing companion the the bible. It helps the reader truly appreciate the voice of God in the word as they are given new eyes in the “STORY” of Jesus.

So with that said… I will be reading it again.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from booklook to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”