Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stepping Out

I have always loved photography. I remember growing up and literally carrying my camera with me everywhere I'd go. My poor friends from back home in Union City, PA sat through countless hours of me showing them TONS of pictures, either from a trip I'd been on or random experiences. I grew to love it because of my older brother Jeff, who is an amazing photographer who works solely with film and has never used Photoshop or any program to edit photos. Please take a look at his site :) 

Anyways, I look back over the past few years and something switched in me when I moved to Colorado Springs. I don't know why, but I completely abandoned my desire and gift of photography. However, lately my desire to experiment and take pictures again has resurfaced within me. 

Last week James and I had dinner with our good friends Brian and Hannah Brooks. If you all don't know, Hannah is an incredibly gifted photographer, who is also extremely selfless and generous. After talking with her about my desire to take pictures again, she invited me to join her while she photographed a wedding this past weekend for Tarah Caldwell and Drew MacAlmon. I was really hesitant and nervous because it meant actually stepping out and embracing something that I've let go, but I took her up on her invite...and had an awesome time! I'm so thankful to Hannah for opening up her job to provide me the opportunity to exercise this love of my heart. If you haven't already become an Audrey Hannah Photo fan...now is the time. 

I've posted some of my favorite shots I took from Tarah and Drew's big day. Please let me know what you think :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Martin-Schaefer Thanksgiving Day 2- SEATTLE!

Going into Seattle was such a great time. I've always dreamed of seeing the Pike's Place Market and going to the very first Starbucks (really the Starbucks part was a monumental experience). It was amazing to see the men in the fish market throw the fish...etc. There was so much to see and do! I also saw the restaurant where Tom Hanks filmed a scene from Sleepless in Seattle :)

After our time in Seattle we all headed to the great IKEA!! Where we dreamed and found a lot of things we "needed" to buy. It's amazing how much you suddenly realize you "need" when you're in a store like IKEA. After our excursion to the city we met up with our friends Sara and Scott Gause for a great dinner. Can't complain at all about this trip...except that we're missing all of the snow Colorado Springs is getting. I'm sad about that. Overall, our time here in Tacoma has been wonderful and we love spending time with the Schaefers.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Martin-Schaefer Thanksgiving Day 1

James and I arrived in Seattle/Tacoma, Washington late Thursday night to a smiling and very welcoming friend, Cameron Schaefer. It has been such a great time reconnecting and catching up with the Schaefer's at our 2nd annual Thanksgiving Celebration. Their sweet baby Malone has grown considerably since we last saw her and she is such a delight. 
Yesterday we had Thanksgiving dinner and once again Marelize surpassed our expectations with nothing less than a feast. We had awesome turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole. Followed later by great conversations, naps and pies for dessert. It has been a refreshing and relaxing time here with the Schaefers and we are sooo thankful for great friends. 
We're heading in to explore Seattle and experience the city life there. I'm so excited because I've never been to Seattle and have always wanted to go. One of my all time favorite movies is Sleepless in Seattle. I love it when Annie goes and watches Sam play with Jonah on the beach...with a wink and a smile :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I'm so excited about it. It's been interesting to see how Thanksgiving has evolved for me. I realized tonight that it's been 4 years since I had Thanksgiving with my family, which is a bit sad for me. Since I moved out to Colorado and met James I've done Thanksgiving with him and his family. Last year we started a fun tradition of going to see the Schaefer's for the holiday, and this year we're getting a dose of both. We'll have dinner with James' family and then fly to see the Schaefer's in Seattle. Maybe next year we can go to Pennsylvania and have Thanksgiving dinner on the farm? Nothing like the country at Thanksgiving.
Looking at my life I realize that I have so much to be thankful for, from my warm bed at night to my God and Savior Jesus Christ. I have been blessed with everything I need. So now I'm going to take the initiative to acknowledge the top 10 things that I am so grateful for:

1. Jesus Christ and salvation that comes only through Him.
2. My husband, who is so amazing.
3. My families (Martin & Rockwell).
4. Wonderful friends from years past and those that I've come to know recently.
5. A great church and community of believers.
6. A good job and great people to work with.
7. Chai tea.
8. Safe and cozy apartment.
9. Reliable car.
10. Food on the table and pumpkin pies in the oven...

Really, the list could go on and on. This truly is such a special holiday and great time of year. I encourage everyone to take the time to thank the Lord for the little blessings in life. I guarantee you'll be surprised at how long the list becomes. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 14, 2008


It may be early for me to be celebrating the holidays, but Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it's really snowing for the first time here in the Colorado Springs. There's something wonderful about the snow. I love this time of year...it's by far the best. I want the snow and cold weather to stay. Thank you Lord for snow, holidays and chai tea. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I voted today for the first time and loved it. In years past I didn't vote because it always seemed overwhelming and intimidating to me, but today was quite the opposite. I felt equipped and ready to cast my vote because of preparation. I researched where my precinct was and all of the voting details, which brought a sense of confidence. There's confidence in education, insecurity in ignorance. 
What a time in history to have a voice and an opinion that matters. Our country is at such a pivotal point and every vote counts! Use the voice and mind God gave you! Happy voting...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Holidays just aren't the same when you become an adult. I woke up today and it seemed like any other normal day, but then I realized that it's actually Halloween. The fact that it took me time to realize it was a holiday was the first sign to me that I am officially an adult. When I was a kid I loved Halloween with all of the candy, pumpkin carving, dressing up in a costume and trick-or-treating. It was so much fun to see how much candy I ended up getting. Oh and what fun it was to become someone or something else for a night! I'm looking forward to the day when James and I have kids so that holidays will acquire the same old fun and kid like excitement again. We'll have little ones to celebrate with...I guaranteed our kids won't let us "realize" it's a holiday.

I remember some of the characters/things I dressed up as for costumes throughout my childhood. Here they are...enjoy!

1. My Little Pony (I had one of those plastic suits that my parents got me from Rite Aid and it fell apart in my kindergarten class so my teacher made me wear a makeshift costume out of paper bags.)
2. MAC Machine (Yes that's right. A "Money Access Center" machine...my parents made it out of a box that I put over my head. 5th grade.)
3. Blonde Joke Book (I pasted sheets of paper with blonde jokes written on them to a box and wore the box. Yes that's right. I wore the box with blonde jokes on them...don't ask)
4. Union City Cheerleader (I remember going to our church for a gathering of parents that would line the wall and hand out candy as all of us kids went by and went "trick or treating". The Christian version of Halloween. Anyways...I was a little cheerleader.)
5. Union City Homecoming Queen (My senior year I was homecoming queen for my high school. That year I dressed up as a terrible looking homecoming queen and went trick or treating with Chewy. Classy I'm sure.)
6. Eastern University Soccer Player (My junior year of college I was a EU soccer player. Boring.)
7. Goth Girl (My sophomore year in college Scott Craig and I dressed up as goth people. That was the night I was introduced to Chai Tea at the Gryphon Cafe....life changing.)

8. Bear (When I was in elementary school I was a big bear. I loved that costume...my mom made it for me. Probably my favorite.)

Ok I'll spare all of you, my faithful readers, with more details. I hope you all enjoy this holiday however you decide to celebrate! Trick-or Treat!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Exodus 14- Parting the Red Sea Revisited...

I love reading the Old Testament. The stories in it are amazing evidence of the power of the Lord; His strength and His faithfulness. My favorite old testament story is when Moses leads the Israelites through the Red Sea.
The story starts with the Israelites camping by the Red Sea because God instructed Moses to take them there as part of their exodus out of Egypt. After their exit from Egypt, it is said that Pharaoh's heart was harden
ed and he regrets letting the Israelites  go. He gathers all of his army together and they begin pursuing the Israelites, because they know they're on their own, a great opportunity to attack them and bring them back to Egypt. So the Egyptians begin their pursuit of the Israelites out in the wilderness (Ex. 14:3). From here there are 3 main ideas that jumped out at me.
1. GLORY- I love how God uses His enemies to glorify Himself. As I was reading, I realized that I limit God and put Him in a box that says only Christians truly glorify the Lord, but this is not true. In Exodus 14 when the Egyptians are pursuing the Israelites God is speaking to Moses and He says, "I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord" (Ex. 14:4). When I read this it seemed totally new to me. The concept that the Lord actually does work all things out for His glory
 really hit my heart. I believe it's also significant that the Lord mentions this 3 times within Exodus 14 (Ex. 14:4, 17,18). 
2. FAITHFULNESS- Not only does God use His enemies to bring Himself glory, but his faithfulness is demonstrated in this story numerous times. First, while the Israelites are camped by the sea they see the Egyptians coming toward them. In the midst of their fear, they cry out to the Lord and He sets the angel of the Lord that was before them, behind them. And He also moves the cloud by day/pillar of fire by night behind them, so there's a barrier between the Israelites and the Egyptians (Ex. 14:19-20). They were totally protected. 
In the midst of this, God tells Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. And the sea begins to part. *Interesting note:  I always thought of this part of the story as Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments where he holds his staff in the air and the Red Sea magically parts instantly. According to Exodus 14:21 an east wind comes and the sea parts throughout the night, while the Israelites are protected by the angel and cloud. 
Once the sea is parted, the Israelites cross on dry land with a wall of water on each side of them (Ex. 14:22). The Egyptians come after them and the Lord causes their chariot wheels to swerve and their driving to become difficult in the midst of the path through the sea. He then commands Moses to hold out his hand to the sea and the waters crash down upon the Egyptians, destroying the entire army and saving the Israelites. He is so faithful to His people!! In the midst of the Israelites' fear, the Lord provides an impossible way out and completely saves them. How often does that happen in our own lives and yet we still struggle to believe He is faithful?
3. POWER- God can do anything He wants. He uses his enemies for His glory. He parts seas and destroys entire armies. Exodus 14:31 says, "When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in  theLord and in His servant Moses." He is a God that is to be feared and trusted. Even when things look ominous, like when the Israelites see the Egyptians coming after them, the Lord provides His faithfulness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bonjour! Parlez vous Francais?

A month ago James and I were able to go to Paris, France for 12 days. Oh the beauty of old brick streets, quaint cafes and beautiful buildings. There's nothing like the architecture of a french cathedral or the Eiffel Tower. Amidst perfect little shops and historical sights is the Seine River adding its touch of charm to the city. The entire experience was breathtaking and very surreal.
We had the privilege of staying with James' cousin Steve and his wife Rikke and two girls Claudia and Rachel. It was the perfect situation because they are so fun and easy to be around. Their apartment was beautiful and literally right across the street from Luxembourg Gardens. What a life...walking out the door of your building into the gardens for your morning stroll or jog. It's truly amazing.
Not only did James and I get to experience the Parisian highlights such as the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre (where we got the see the one and only Mona Lisa...that was a big deal to me! We also saw Napolean's apartment...below is his dining room. Looks just like ours except our table's a bit bigger),

The Pompidou Center,

Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacre Coure, Luxembourg Gardens, The Arc de Triumph
and the Palace at Versailles (where we rented a boat and rowed on the lake in King Louis' garden....lovely).

We also got to escape to the french country side for a few days.
The little town of Amboise hosted us in a darling little bed and breakfast. What a fun break it was to get out of the hustle and bustle of city life into the peace and quiet of France. I loved the little cars, streets, shops and...the chateaus!!!!! They call them "chateaus" but they're really castles from centuries ago. I wonder what it would have been like to live in a castle...maybe someday I'll know this side of heaven. If not...no worries, my name means "God's princess" so I'm hoping for one in heaven :)
Probably one of the best things we did was visit the Chateau de Chenonceaux. It was so beautiful and tucked back in the forest. To get to it you have to walk down a lane of huge, gorgeous trees that takes about 10 minutes. We went in all the rooms and had some of the best ice cream ever outside...what fun!

One thing I really learned to appreciate about Paris is their subway system (The Metro). It was very intimidating to me to learn, but once I did...I loved it! It truly saved us some nights from walking miles. It made me think of that part in
You've Got Mail when Frank says, "Name one good thing that comes from technology." I would have said, "The Parisian Metro!"
I almost forgot to talk about the amazing little church we went to. It is actually associated with New Life and the Ost family. During our time in Paris the spiritual climate didn't necessarily seem "dark" as so many people describe it, but rather "absent". I noticed that my desire for the Lord seemed to dwindle while I was there to where it almost seemed hidden. When we went to this little church the power of the Holy Spirit hit you in the face. I just stood drinking it in as these fellow believers worshiped the Lord in french. It was the exact reawakening my spirit needed. It's similar to when you don't even realize you're thirsty until you start to drink a glass of water. Once you realize how thirsty you are...you can't stop drinking until you're satisfied. That's how I felt in this church. Highly recommended.
Not only was it an awesome experience to see Paris and Amboise, but to do it with James was the best. He is so adventurous and draws me out of my comfort zone. In the midst of it, I'm usually not too happy, but looking back I'm so glad he doesn't let me settle for "safe". We had a great time together and it truly was romantic being in the city of lights with my husband of a year and half!
I suggest that everyone should go visit Paris at least once in their life. If it seems financially "impossible" start saving up now...it'll be well worth it. Au revoir!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Olympics...go USA!

There's something about the Olympics that makes me come alive. I love the Olympics. I love the glorious moments of victory and the agonizing moments of defeat. Words are unable to express the amount of time, energy and dedication the athletes put into their sport in order to display their talent for the entire world to see. Every 4 years the world gets the opportunity to know the athletes' stories and temporarily take them on as their own.
My favorite sports to watch are Gymnastics, Track & Field and Swimming. I love them actually. I am so excited to see the routines and world records that will be broken. There's no doubt in my mind that Michael Phelps will become the world's most decorated olympic athlete, regardless of the new swimsuits. Gymnastics and Track & Field have a tough 2 weeks ahead of them with fantastic competitors from numerous countries, but I'm sure the USA will represent well.
I think one of the things I love the most about the Olympics, is that they bring people together. Amidst things like presidential elections, radical extremists and people fighting over various ideas and opinions...comes a common ground to root for one's country. (Unless you're "anti-China" which is annoying...it's just the location of the Olympics. Look beyond that and support your country!) In addition, what truly ties the olympic experience together is the memorable Bob Costas. I'm naming him "Voice of the Olympics".  
Tonight's the television broadcast of the opening ceremonies and I'm watching the whole thing if it kills me.  The show each country puts together in support of the olympics is always amazing. The lighting of the olympic flame is one of my favorite aspects. The year the man shot the flaming arrow to light the flame was by far the best. I'm sure China will not disappoint. Go USA!