Thursday, August 28, 2014


    I desire my reach to extend far, deep, and wide in my family. But in that desire I am lacking humility. There is one who's reach began in a life before this, who holds me fast here and now, and who points the way to a life with Him, in Him and for Him. 

     If I truly want my reach to go long I will point my family to Him. I can try to do that by the way I love. 

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Lessons In I-Phone Photography

     I thought I left my I-Phone at the gym this morning. I contemplated buying a new one if it was stolen. Never once did it cross my mind that I could just live without it. It is my camera, my phonebook, my calendar, my shopping list, my connection to my children, in short, I use it all the time. Well, it was not lost, just wrapped up in my jacket with plums the club owner picked to share at the gym.

      The Rule of Thirds
Keep things out of dead center but balanced. The grid lines setting on the phone helps place your subject in a grid other than the middle.

      Negative space draws the eyes to your subject. Below I used the vantage point of the floor, left a lot of light to bring focus to the top where my grandchildren are engrossed in their own stuff.

  Placing my granddaughter on the left side brings the perspective of what a  huge job she undertakes to trim back the blackberries.

      In A Row
Ordinary objects in a row create a story that captivates. I like to keep my eye out for the beautiful, but also the unremarkable lined up.

     Combining light reflecting and objects side by side caught my fancy. Suddenly, what I see every day becomes a piece of art.

     Lining up the grandchildren against the green wall was a stroke of luck. I especially like the dog bowl in the foreground. Snack anyone?

Fill The Frame
The I-Phone can handle about four inches in front of a subject without losing focus. Getting up close to fill the frame creates great texture and detail.

     Fill the object of your picture in most of the frame but leave a little of the surrounding to give context.

      I had to get on Hannah's eye level to catch her soulful need to hide. I left some surrounding area to see where I found her.

There will be four more photography ideas and then I will have documented what I learned from my class. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Reconciling the Extraordinary With Ordinary

    I am still processing an extraordinary week away. In six short days I was gifted an abundance of spiritual experiences which left me emotionally in awe of the love of my Heavenly Father and the children who serve Him. While there, I was thinking about Brené Brown's book "Daring Greatly". Chapter Two talks about scarcity. She poses the question about why we in society feel so bereft of the resources we crave. "I don't have enough time, energy, money, talent, or sleep." She wonders if the narcissistic attitudes of society might stem from scarcity and the fear of being ordinary. I certainly have felt these feelings, especially as I post on Facebook, Instagram, and even when I write a blog post. I have access to view talent of others way beyond my own.

   What I discovered last week is that becoming extraordinary is the product of being in the presence of the Holy Ghost and angels. Let me tell you of some of these manifestations.

  1. The first evening at my brother's house we went to the Salt Lake Temple to do marriage sealings for our deceased ancestors. We had a large stack and not enough living proxies to complete the work. I watched as the temple workers gathered strangers into our project to help us. The temple sealer worked for us until his voice faltered. We felt the outpouring of strength from beyond the earthly veil. We sealed husbands to wives, daughters and sons to parents and I felt joy coming from above. We had to stop before the work was completed.

                                                           Artwork by Annie Henrie

        2. The next morning my sister-in-law rallied me to go back to the temple to finish. Just two of us now, we needed even more strangers to complete this task. There is a "can-do" spirit there that is remarkable. As we left the temple I looked up at the work my father did on the annex to the Salt Lake Temple. He was not a member of my church when he was alive. He was by many standards ordinary, but in truth, he was amazingly blessed with foresight, insight and God given talent.

        3. Later that night I met a family from Germany, visiting to meet their American cousins. These cousins shared the deceased family members for which we labored in the temple. They knew nothing about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They came because of the love they felt from my brother's family when he visited them in Germany. So impressed were they by his kindness that they made a lovely book for my brother featuring pictures of his visits to Germany. Truly they were speaking the language of connection. 

        4. The following day was filled with sight-seeing. My niece mentioned that the Ogden Temple was open to visitors before it's dedication to Godly service. I was asked to accompany them and see if there was a chance we could go through the building. We did not have tickets and we did not have a change of clothes more appropriate to entering a temple. We looked out of place in a sea of Sunday dressed families. As I approached the volunteer at the door I explained that I had non-member visitors from another country. He smiled very big and assured us that open house meant any one was welcome. What an opportunity! I could never have explained my beliefs about life after death or about vicarious work for the dead in a better place. I cannot be assured of what my cousins felt but I had an outpouring of love that assured me that I was accepted and that acceptance reached to every child of God.

         5. Saturday was a family gathering of 54 people. I hustled around after my sister-in-law as she fed what felt like the 5000. Benedikt, the youngest of the German family, asked everyone if they were a Titze. At home he only knew a few people with that surname. Here it was almost everyone's last name or maiden name. Again, I felt the outpouring of divine love and energy. I had a desire to see everyone there. Really see them and connect with them. 

       We stayed until the stars claimed the sky. No one wanted to leave without reaffirming their commitment to family. 

       6. Sunday came with an early opportunity to go to Temple Square to participate in a live broadcast of The Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I literally sat still with the grandeur of their magnificence. Here were hundreds of voices trained to sing with one goal. That goal was to carry the Holy Spirit to every ear and heart. After the broadcast was over they thanked us for coming. What? We had been invited, free of charge, to spend a Sabbath morning with a volunteer choir and they were thanking us?  I have become a renewed fan of this choir. I went through a period of feeling unimpressed with them due to a lack of interest. They have, after all, been around 100 years. I got used to their ever present service. But, there is nothing like a close-up performance. 

     After the choir broadcast we walked across the street. I began to feel the culmination of these extraordinary days creep into my conscious. When Alexander and I walked in front of the Salt Lake Temple I realized how much more context his family had because they actually entered into a Mormon Temple. They could visualize the holy room representing the kingdom of God. They had walked the white carpets of a new temple. They had also fully participated in the open arms of family. If they did not feel the arms of the family long ago passed away, I did. Everything came together for me.

     I wept openly when I departed from them all. I was surprised by my emotion. I know the full meaning of my visit started and ended with the Savior of Mankind. His open arms make it possible for me to open my arms to those I love and even those I know only as strangers. He is Alpha and Omega.
I love and honor Him.

    So, to come full circle, is my life ordinary? Yes it is. But, it is also extraordinary because of the blindingly, beautiful light of Jesus Christ. "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy, or of good report" I acknowledge they come from Him and I seek after these things.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


    The best thing about summer is driving my husband to work at 5:30 am in the daylight. Those days are short and I value each one. As we pulled out of the driveway this morning I lamented to him that the daylight was fading and I was sad about that. "Change is sure" he said. I see hints in the falling leaf and in the smells of coming Autumn.

    There is change in my twin grand babies and also in my brother who I visit once a year. The babies are more social and animated and my brother has a few more aches and pains in his aging body. I hate change! I love change!

    I change my mind every day depending on whether I want to capture a moment of pure bliss or endure a trying challenge.
                                                       Change is sure.

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


While visiting  Salt Lake City my niece Rebecca gave me another journal my mother left behind. She enjoyed writing and prided herself on her ability to write English. In her writing I see the life she led and the people she loved. Her entries are short due to writing in her second language but they express strong sentiments and sweet reminders of the trials and joys of her life.

    Rebecca started the transcribing and so I have posted what she typed at the end of the page entitled My Name Is Marta. No changes were made to word choice or spelling.  Click here to read, please.

Friday, August 15, 2014


   I'm visiting with 2nd cousins from Munich, Germany. They were unknown to us for a long time due to a story family used to tell about how their grandmother took offense at something my Dad said to her when his brother, her husband, died the first weeks of World War Two.

We thought they were unwilling to have a relationship with the American side of the family. But, as it is with the telling of stories, the facts were not facts and now we are spending precious time with the children of the children.

Hopefully, we are telling true stories. One which must be told is the story of how last year my brother, on a visit to Germany, was shown a Bible which listed the names of sought after ancestors. We rejoiced to know of Johnann Heinrich who fathered my great-grandfather, Robert. He was the last name on the pedigree chart, forever. No one seemed to know where to look for the next generation. And then without warning, this cousin who we thought did not want to know us, produced these new connecting links. Everyone has family stories and most are true, but I have learned to question the telling of stories which speak of hardness and unforgiving. They might possibly be renewed and changed to telling of connection and rejoicing.

                    I'm writing with a group of wonderful story tellers and today is Five Minute Friday.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Synopsis

    This week I practiced my habits of happiness with full involvement. There are many weeks that go by when I just cannot get one habit into gear. Moving through yoga stretches has been wonderful this week. I wonder why I resist doing the very things that make my life easier? I am back to using my Lose  It! App and it does make me more responsible to nourish my body effectively.

     Serving in my women's organization gives me many opportunities to meet new people and make new connections. I'm learning that serving has many faces. Sometimes it takes doing physical work to help someone else cope with a difficult situation and often it is being available to listen to the concerns of a valued friend. My study habit has a strong focus as I am teaching in church tomorrow. I do love teaching but still go through hot and cold feelings as I consider what will be appropriate and how capable I am to deliver the message through the Holy Ghost. I do have to rely on prayer to magnify my study effectiveness.

   And, creating is still a major draw. This week I used a puzzle box as inspiration to try my hand at watercoloring. I feel pleased with my efforts and will try to do more.

   My goals are carrying over from season to season. I can, with confidence, revise my opinion that I am unable to finish anything.  Enough about me, what is good with you?

Friday, August 8, 2014


      I'm taking a I-Phone Photography class online. The current project is "fill the frame". Getting up close to an object allows detail to emerge that is otherwise lost to the eye. In the process there is one downfall, clarity. Things get blurry up close. To do this assignment well I have to take my time focusing and allowing my little lens to adjust.

   There is a parallel in my relationship to my Savior. He needs to fill the frame of my life. When I get close to Him there can be a tendency to lose focus. It can turn into a pleading all about me. How can I adjust my lens to encompass His story and His mission?

I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully makes sense.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

More I-Phone Photography

 from my Big Class Photography Project 2
The Silhouette 

A silhouette is the dark shape or outline visible against a lighter background. When shooting, place the subject in front of the light source and touch the I-Phone screen on the light area to focus on the light.

   Isolate your subject so that it does not merge into other shapes. Look for strong, easily identifiable shapes.

The Landscape

A landscape photograph can evoke emotion and tell a story. Bring your horizon line a little higher or lower than the middle and keep the horizon straight. The grid on the I-Phone can really help. This beach scene at Pt. Pobinson was so epic when surrounded by the amazing moving clouds and the contrasting sand. 

While driving along the main highway south after leaving Burton I stopped for my favorite beach house. The subject you photograph should be in the left or right third quadrant, not in the middle. Using the Snapseed camera app I applied the HDR effect for the drama and detail in these photos.

Vantage Point
   Finding an unusual vantage point to shoot your picture makes for great composition. I was under the metal giraffe in town to capture his awesome structure.

    The straight on shot sometimes means getting on the floor. I set the phone on it's side and snapped the scene of two cousins at play. Lots of negative space leads the eye to the subject.

   Shooting from above tells a different story. Here I am standing on my bench showing my open music through the piano light. I used an app to give the picture a vintage look to highlight the age of the Bach music.

  This shot under my house was literally on my back. I love the clouds and my umbrella off in the corner. I love the vantage point assignments!


The assignment to find shapes in my pictures was very interesting. Here Olea climbs the steps of the slide at a playground and stops to see out of the hole. I was fast on the draw to capture this one.

    The Bakery Nouveau just begs for a photo shoot. The circle shapes enliven the heart and the calorie count.

    When Shea and I were walking through town we stopped to admire these tires. Lots of circles here with a sprinkle of triangles.

   This class is bringing me back to my camera and giving me some new adventures. More assignments are coming.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saturday Synopsis

I am an immigrant to the United States. My parents read me stories in German. Many books that American children meet came across my conscious only as an adult. Peter Rabbit is one of those. I cozied up to Beatrix and felt that one day I would enjoy introducing her to one of my grandchildren.

 I purchased a pop-up replica of her journal years ago. Last night my granddaughter convinced her brother to watch Miss Potter with us. I was a little surprised how patient and interested they were with the story of her life. That led to reading Peter's tale. Why do children love that he is naughty? 

After the stories I showed Grace the journal. She asked me to read the text. She wouldn't even let me skip the dates on the headings of each journal entry. 1886 seems so ancient, yet my grandmother was born then.


    My favorite page is where her locket is found. Her picture is set next to Norman Warne. The grief she felt seemed to give her the extra courage move out on her own and buy the farms in the Lake Country. The people honor her for gifting her substantial land to the British land trust upon her death. 

   Whenever I swish a brush through water, watching the paint glide over the surface, I think of Beatrix painting the world inside her head and merging it with the world she loved around her.