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Category Archives: photography

My Story and Why I’m Saying Goodbye to My Blog of 4 1/2 Years

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The story began on Christmas 1985 when I was just nine years old. I received my first camera as a gift that year. It was film, of course. One of those old-fashioned rectangular Kodak cameras, I’m quite sure. $10? $15? $20 max? Who knows how much that camera cost. I might not have known it at the time, but that camera was undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.

I never once stopped taking photos. I’d claim it’s the only thing I’ve done non-stop, my whole life, since I was a little girl. But that’s not really true.

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The story began in 1988. July 4, 1988, to be exact. I’d just turned 12 and received my first diary for my birthday. I wrote stupid stuff, silly stuff in that diary. Like who came to our house for Easter weekend, all the shirts my crush wore to school, the grades I got in school, and why I thought people should be nicer. $5? $8? $12 max? Who knows how much that diary cost. I might not have known it at the time, but that diary was undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.

I never once stopped writing. I’d claim its the only thing I’ve done non-stop, my whole life, since I was a little girl. But that’s not really true.

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The story began some unknown year when I was a little girl watching Brady Bunch and Little House on the Prairie on burnt red couches in the family room in our basement. I ate potato chips with bermuda onion dip, and cupcakes I dug out from Tupperware in the stand-up freezer. In-between adventures with Marcia and Greg and Laura and Mary, images from a television advertisement for Children’s Christian Fund clung to my soul. A man with a white beard told me stories about children afar living in extreme poverty. He told me I could sponsor a child for just 80 cents a day and asked me why I’m waiting as I watched children walk barefoot through slums. When that little girl stared at me through the screen, my tiny heart wanted to help. I paid nothing. Nada. Zilch. I might not have known it at the time, but the continual running of those television ads were undoubtedly the best present I’d ever received.

I watched those ads intently for years, as long as they played them on TV. I’d claim I’d forgotten about those children, about my deep-seeded passion for children and families living in extreme poverty. Maybe it was just a childhood whim, maybe the nonprofits manipulated my young, tender heart. But that’s not really true. The truth is that the passion lay dormant due to a culture that doesn’t talk much about people living in extreme poverty. Thanks to God’s grace, I was exposed to Compassion International via my favorite blogger, Ann Voskamp, in 2010. In August 2012, we sponsored our first child. In February 2014, I traveled to Haiti with Compassion International. In January 2015, I was invited by Compassion International to travel to the Dominican Republic with two other writers. And in late 2015, I traveled to Kenya with a small nonprofit, Love for Kenya, to spend 10 days with widows and children in an orphanage. Writing and photographing my way through all three trips was pretty much a dream come true.

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I began dreaming about becoming an author in early 2003. The dreaming was private, intense and specific for many years.

I began a blog, Perfectly Unbalanced Supermom, in 2010, but never published a post on it. I was more than ready to write publicly, but that particular blog just wasn’t quite right.

I launched this blog, Divine in the Daily, in July 2012, and have been writing here faithfully for 4 1/2 years. 439 published posts. 91 unpublished posts in the draft box. Four children’s books in the works. A heavy, but hopeful adult nonfiction is somewhere on the horizon. FOUR additional nonfiction books and TWO ebook ideas sit in Evernote as very real and viable possibilities, but they’re somewhere out there in the distance I can’t yet see. Yes, this dream is for an older and wiser woman who’s not that much interested in retirement.

Two years ago this week on December 18, 2014, I left my 14 1/2 year career as a speech-language pathologist to pursue writing, explore professional photography and be home more with my children.

I just wrapped up my second season of professional photography, and it’s been gangbusters, friends. Beyond anything I ever imagined.

This space, Divine in the Daily, has always been sacred to me. But today, I’m here to say it’s time to go. It’s time to close this space down and begin again.

For the past seven months, I’ve felt more and more clear that I need to merge my writing, photography and my passion for missions. I’ve told a few people (quite literally, a few) one of my specific and ultimate long-term visions. If, by the grace of God, I were to ever reach that vision, it would require me to have a complete MERGE of my writing and photography work with my passion for missions. In that ultimate vision, ALL THREE are working together in harmony. I can no longer pretend that my writing operates separate from my photography which operates separate from my interest in missions. As far as I can see, as far as I can perceive, the three are ONE.

Recently, I attended a writing workshop and wrote a seven-year vision. That seven-year vision ALSO requires a merge of all three, writing, photography and missions.

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So. Here we are.

This is the LAST blog post I’m writing on Divine in the Daily under the domain name, www.divineinthedaily.com. Soon, Divine in the Daily will no longer exist.

I have a few more photo shoots to share on my photography Facebook page, and after that, my photography business will no longer be named Knit Woven Made Photography.

EVERYTHING – writing, photography and missions – will be merged into ONE NEW WEBSITE that will provide a foundation which will support the integrated, long-term vision God has given me.

Honestly, I might be crazy. Call me crazy way back to 9 years old when I received that camera for Christmas, or 12 years old when I began writing in the diary I received for my birthday, or crazy watching Marcia and Laura while eating chips and cupcakes on the couch while watching children walk barefoot through slums in faraway lands. I’ve spent a lifetime caring what people think and doing all the “right” things. But I kind of don’t care what everyone thinks anymore. Call me crazy. All the signs keep adding up in the land of crazy. I’ll follow these crazy dreams wherever they lead.

For now, I’m signing off Divine in the Daily. Goodbye. You’ve been good. So good. Thank you to my dear and faithful readers. You are marvelous and faithful and oh so strong.

It’s your story I’m concerned about. What I’ve learned most through this space is that it’s really not about me anyway. The story I’ve shared today? It’s mine. But it’s meant for greater good. So goodbye, farewell, Divine in the Daily. There are greater stories to tell. There’s a better, more integrated vision for the gifts God’s granted me, and that will be best served in another space, another place.

I can’t promise when I’ll launch the new site. I’ve already been working hard behind the scenes, and have much work to do ahead. I need time and space to do everything required to get another site up and ready. It might be a couple weeks, it might be a month. Who’s to say? I’ll do my part. I’ll work as hard and as often as I’m able. Yes, I might be turtle slow, but this turtle’s story goes way, way back. Turtle it will be.

God bless, goodbye and I’ll see you around the other side.

P.S. Stay with me. NO need to unfollow. NO need for you to leave. I’ll be back and will be sure to let you know when everything new is ready to go. So excited for you to join me as I journey to the next chapter of this story.

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When You Don’t Feel Pretty in Your Family Pictures

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Recently, I received an email from a photography client who loved the photos I took of her family, but…ummm…herself? Not so much. She went on to describe WHY she didn’t like herself in the photos and what specific action she needed to take to remediate that problem next time they take family photos. The funny thing is, I thought she looked STUNNING in REAL LIFE and STUNNING in the PHOTOS. I never thought once that something was off with her look, her style or anything about her. In fact, I thought she was beautiful, poised and TOTALLY put together from head to toe.

I sat and started at the email, wondering if there was something I could have done differently to make this mama feel more beautiful when we took the photos, something I could have done differently with posing to make her feel more at ease, something I could have done differently in editing to make her beautiful self pop from the picture even more.

As I sat staring at that email, I realized this wasn’t about me.

Memories came flooding back. This territory was all too familiar. You see, three years ago, I was the one emailing our photographer, saying I liked our family photos, but I didn’t really like any of the head shots we took of me during the photo shoot. I felt uncomfortable and awkward in front of the camera. I shopped for myself last and bought a shirt that worked with everyone else’s clothes, but I didn’t ever really love it. I felt fat in the jeans I was wearing. The bags under my eyes were too big. I didn’t look like myself. I don’t know. I just didn’t like myself in the photos.

We used the family photo for our Christmas card that year, we printed a family 5×7 for our living room, and I put one of the family photos up on my blog’s “Meet Amy” page. But I NEVER used ANY of the head shots of myself from that photo shoot. Never updated the photo on my blog. Never updated my social media photos. Never used them in blog posts. Never used them anywhere.

When I was going through family photos this fall, I ran across the CD from that photo shoot from three years ago. I took time to look through all the photos on that CD because I hadn’t looked at them in three years and I wanted to know if they were really that bad or if I’d simply fabricated a story in my mind.

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Three years later, here’s what I saw…

While the photos of me weren’t awesome, they were also very pretty.

Yes, I said it.

They were also very pretty.

The truth is, there was something INSIDE of ME during and after that particular photo shoot that wasn’t well, something ugly that told me I wasn’t beautiful enough, thin enough, perfect enough in my face. (Okay, I know that sounds weird, but it’s kind of true. Right ladies?) Instead of seeing my beauty, I beat myself up, picking apart every flaw in the photos.

Too fat.

Bags under my eyes.

Uncomfortable.

Awkward.

Ugly, not-quite-right shirt.

Don’t like the way I look.

Three years later and a fresh set of eyes, I could see that I looked pretty in the photos. Totally acceptable. Just right for where and who I was at that time. There was NOTHING wrong with those pictures. Maybe they weren’t perfect, but they were beautiful.

Ladies, for the sake of our own well being, we must figure out how to distinguish between PERFECT and PRETTY. 

Okay, so maybe you’re not going for PRETTY. Maybe you prefer to look beautiful, stunning, ravishing, radical, rogue, hip, cool, casual, fun, friendly, feminine, astute or simply put together.

However you are, WHOEVER you are, here’s what I want you to know if you don’t feel pretty in your family pictures.

  1. First and foremost, the likelihood is that you DO look pretty, you DO look beautiful.
  2. Even if you don’t feel pretty in your family pictures, go ahead and use the photo for your family Christmas card anyway. Go ahead and print the photo and put it on your end table anyway. Go ahead and make the 8×10 canvas and put it up in your bedroom. Go ahead and make a few copies to give your children when they get bigger because YOU are important, YOU are beautiful and YOU are needed in your family and this world JUST AS YOU ARE.
  3. Save the CD. Save the flash drive. Save the proofs. Save the memory card. Just save the photos, wherever they are. Then take another look at them three years later, five years later, ten years later and beyond. You’ll realize you were so pretty, so beautiful, so lovely. And you’ll most definitely wonder WHY in the world you thought anything different.
  4. Give yourself a chance. Give yourself a little grace.
  5. Keep yourself in the picture and call yourself beautiful because you are.

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Amy - Thank you, Jana!December 5, 2016 – 9:08 am

Jana - This is so good, Amy – and so true! Thanks for sharing.December 2, 2016 – 9:13 pm

Africa. When God Says Fly.

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Our timelines rarely coincide with God’s.

We want life to go faster. Or slower.

We wish this would happen. Or that.

We want to press forward. Quicker.

We wish we could go back in time. And do it again.

We dream of better days, longer days, days fuller, days lighter.

We dream, scheme and believe BIG, bold things.

We think maybe, someday.

Maybe.

We have a hunch. Yeah, a hunch. If only, God. If God.

We want to believe those nudges are true. We want to believe it’s the Spirit speaking to our hearts, not earthly, fleshly, egotistical desires.

We just want confirmation that all this living and breathing and dreaming is real. That this life of ours is worth something more, more than mere existence.

We don’t want to simply survive.

We want to thrive.

We want to believe in a God who can do anything. A bigger-than-life God. A God who does things totally unexpected. A God who shows up in places and times least expected. A God who wants to surprise us with His glory, His goodness, His richness, His fullness, His plan for our lives here on planet Earth.

We want to know there’s more. That we’re part of a grander plan. A greater story.

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So when DropBox was simply too slow, when I had to go into church to upload a load of high resolution photographs from an all-church service day, when I “randomly” commented on the Africa photos in the corner of the pastor’s office that June 1st, 2015, then consequently got invited to join a mission trip to Africa, I was shocked.

I thought the dude was crazy. Me? Go on a mission trip to Africa in the fall? Ummm….No?! Not going to happen that quick. Not now. You might work like that, but not me! You don’t know me. I’m a planner. I’m a preparer. I like to do and know things in advance. There’s no way I’d make such a big decision in such a short timeframe. There’s no way I could ever find the money that fast, get child care that fast, get the a-okay from my husband that fast, get a blessing from our parents that fast. You know. There’s no way it’s going to happen that fast for me. Okay?

To be honest, I didn’t think the pastor’s initial invitation to go to Africa was all that serious. I really, desperately wanted to go to Africa in my heart of hearts. Of course, I was interested. As in, yes please? But now wasn’t the time. More like a couple years from now, or give me at least a year to get this thing worked out somehow? But five or six months from now?! Really? Serious? Is this for real?

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I got myself quiet.

And I got thinking about God’s timelines. How maybe we have it all wrong. How maybe I’ve had it all wrong. How maybe my timeline is SO off and SO wrong and SO not God’s. How he’s surprised me before; maybe He’s surprising me again. How I dreamed of traveling to Africa – not to sightsee, but to serve – for longer than I can remember. My Africa dream is so old, I don’t even remember when I started dreaming it. The dream’s just been there. Always. Forever. Then I remembered being invited to Africa by a different party, with a different nonprofit, in May 2014. And how I said NO, I’m already traveling to the Dominican with Compassion. Then I remembered the 2023 trip we visioned to Africa for our 25th anniversary. And I remembered the SINGLE reference to “Africa” on my blog’s Meet Amy page. I thought it was dreamy, but left it there on purpose, without any detail, without any knowing of what that “Africa” might look like. I left it in for hope’s sake. I left it in for the believing in someday, somehow, maybe when I’m much older and wiser and there’s something grand for me to accomplish there.

Is this all mystical-hogwash coincidence, or is this God working His plan?

I began to believe.

I also began to doubt.

I dismissed and diminished the pastor’s invitation to go on the Africa mission trip. I wanted to believe it could be possible. But I didn’t believe it could actually happen.

Reality set in.

I started blogging in July 2012.

Haiti in February 2014.

Expensive new camera in September 2014.

I stopped working as a speech-language therapist in December 2014.

Dominican Republic in January 2015.

Eye cancer diagnosis in January 2015.

Photography business launch in spring and summer 2015.

And now a mission trip to AFRICA in the fall of 2015?

How much more could I ask of my husband?

In my head, I knew it would be much better to discuss this in a year or two. That would be much better timing.

But in my heart, in my spirit, in my soul, I had a hunch this wasn’t about my timing, but more about God’s.

So I left myself open to the slight possibility of going to Africa in the fall of 2015.

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I received the initial invitation on June 1, 2015.

By June 17th, I had a solid and highly justified hunch the trip was NOT going to happen this time.

By July 7th, I’d given my answer in writing. NO.

On July 20th, God performed a BIG miracle.

I ignored that miracle until August 2nd, to be exact. I hadn’t been sure what to do with that miracle, but God knew EXACTLY what to do with it. He took it into His own hands. Clearly, I wasn’t moving this Africa deal forward with enough vigor. He was going to make this happen whether I liked it or not.

And that August 2nd, it was beautiful really. I’ll always remember the way she looked at me with tears in her eyes. (You know who you are, sweet friend.) The moment she knew in her heart of hearts that I was going to Africa.

And in the oddest series of events that occurred over the next 2-3 weeks, I’ll always remember the moment that same friend told me she wouldn’t be going to Africa. With the same tears in her eyes.

But I’d said, I’d written…

This wasn’t about getting anyone’s approval anymore. This Africa deal was between me and God, and God had made that abundantly clear.

By Saturday, August 29th, I said YES to Africa.

Things were definitely still in the air. Things were definitely NOT 100% clear. The near three-month journey from June 1st to August 29th had been rough, rocky and incredibly spiritually challenging.

But…

BUT….

I said YES to Africa.

Because God was in on this from day one.

There was no denying it.

I couldn’t shake this feeling I was supposed to go NOW. To Africa. In the fall of 2015. On this particular trip. For such a time as this.

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I’d given an absolute NO on July 7th.

God performed a series of straight up miracles.

And by August 29th, I said YES.

How could I deny what He’d done?

How could I deny His plans, His timelines?

This wasn’t about me. This wasn’t about my timelines or my pretty little plans or my best case scenario anymore. This was all about God. His Spirit nudging me again and again and again. His clearing the way. His making a way, whether any of us liked it or not. His desiring for me TO GO. To Africa. Now. As in. NOW.

Friends and family, I want to acknowledge that my retelling of this incredibly life-changing story has been incredibly vague. Much more vague than anything I’d normally share in this space. But this journey has been incredibly personal. This journey will become part of my life story, my lifelong testimony. I’ve documented it in a couple unpublished blog posts, and I’ve tucked away the details in my heart. I won’t forget. Someday, I’ll tell and it’ll make perfect sense and feel good and right in the context of a long-lived life. For now, the story will stay between me, two people who know all the details, and a few others who know some pieces. Some things are meant to stay sacred secret, between us and God.

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But this, THIS, is all you need to know.

I planned, wanted, and desired to go to Africa for my whole life, as long as I can remember.

I said NO to Africa twice.

God performed miracles.

And then I said YES.

Which means I’m going to Africa. On a mission trip. Soon!

I’m going to dive straight into details, because no surprise, I’m already running long on words.

  • I’m traveling with a team of 10 to Kenya, Africa.
  • We’ll be gone for 10 days, end of November into early December 2015.
  • All my travel mates are from Minnesota. 5 females. 5 males.
  • We’ve already met twice as a group.
  • Random awesome fact: My first cousin once removed is going on the trip and we had NO IDEA until we arrived at the first meeting and saw each other there! Who knew?! (Okay, so I’m not 100% on the blood relationship. Our parents are first cousins. So what does that make us?)
  • We’re traveling with a nonprofit called Love For Kenya.
  • Love For Kenya is one of our church’s 10 global mission partners, so our church’s mission funds will be covering a portion of our trip.
  • We’ll be staying in huts.

While we’re in Kenya, we’ll be working largely with orphans and widows. We’ll also be doing other ministry, outreach and service projects in the community as we feel called and led through listening prayer. Community ministry might look “as small as” providing encouragement, washing feet, feeding people and giving people clothing, or “as big as” building a home, providing mosquito nets and life-saving medications for a couple hundred people, showing the “Jesus film” to a thousand, and exploring uncharted valleys in an effort to reach people who have never been reached before. We’ll also be heading into the slums one day. It’s hard to say what God has in store. But these details, these possibilities, we know for sure.

The trip is structured, but leaves plenty of room for God to work His plan.

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For those of you who are safety minded, our trip will be led by Pastor Randy who’s led 90 mission trips. This will be his 17th mission trip to Kenya. Crazy cool, right? We’ll be 13-16 hours from areas that would be considered unsafe, and will have access to mobile phones. We’ll be together as a group at all times. And local Kenyan friends and partners will be journeying with us once we arrive in Africa.

I’m breathing deep. Sighing. Wondering how this could be true that I’m telling you I’m going to Africa. Now. For such a time as this.

One more important thing…

I will be blogging this trip, just as I did in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. We haven’t discussed details yet as far as what that will look like and when, but I’ll definitely let you know. One way or another, you will be hearing all about this journey to Africa.

And I’m hoping, praying and planning on piloting a photography project I’ve been visioning and dreaming of since January. I’ve already talked to Pastor Randy, our trip leader, about this and he thinks it’s feasible within the structure of our trip.

Keep in mind, I said YES to Africa on August 29th. So we’ve only had 18 days to discuss details.

Speaking of this whole timeline – being invited June 1st, saying NO July 7th, saying YES August 29th, sharing with you all today, and leaving at the end of November – I could use a little help.

You see, I wasn’t planning on Africa.

We weren’t planning on Africa.

I didn’t know God had this in store for me…NOW.

I didn’t know He had this in mind for me…NOW.

I thought my Africa dreams were possibly far fetched, likely for later in life when things will be far more settled. For our 25th wedding anniversary? Yes. For an awesome 65th birthday when I join 10 wise writers and photographers on some awesome writing-photography adventure? Sounds amazing. But right now? Not so much. Didn’t plan that.

Our timelines rarely coincide with God’s.

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So back to needing a little help.

Here’s what I could use…

A prayer team

If you’re willing to serve on a prayer team for my trip to Kenya, please leave me a message somewhere, anywhere, along with your email address. I would love some warriors to pray for travels, safety, health and God’s mission to be accomplished while we’re there.

Financial support

When I originally published this post on September 16, 2015, I made a humble request. I needed an additional $550 to fully fund my mission trip to Africa. Thanks to the generous gifts of family, friends and blog readers, the trip is now fully funded! I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you. (Updated 11/23/15)

Likers & Lovers, Readers & General Supporters 

I need some lovin’ on this, friends. I need some support. Will you encourage me, love me, support me, read the posts I write, lift me up in your thoughts and prayers? Will you encourage me in my photography journey so I’m ready to pilot the project I’ve been dreaming of? Will you be hopeful and expectant? Will you believe there’s a reason God’s sending me to Africa now instead of waiting until my 25th anniversary or 65th birthday? Will you set aside doubt, worry and disbelief for the sake of encouragement? Will you believe in this journey, this mission? Will you will believe with me and for me? I would so greatly appreciate it.

Thank you, friends. Thank you.

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I stayed up until 1:10 a.m. writing this and I’m in for a long day ahead. After the kids left for school this morning, the doorbell rang. It was our 4-year-old neighbor boy. When I opened the door, he looked me in the eye and whispered “Your butterfly is going to fly away now.” It was truly the most miraculous thing ever to me. I ran to grab my camera. The caterpillar my daughter put in a bucket weeks ago and had been keeping on our porch had just broken from its chrysalis. It was on a fern next to the bucket. Our sweet neighbor boy notified me just in time. We watched its first moments free, its first flight. It was amazing. Miraculous. God’s confirmation for me this morning. Fly, dear one. Fly.

All photo credits (except the butterfly) to Love for Kenya.

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Kenya_smallbuttonThis post serves as the landing page for my trip to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in 2015. All the posts I write about the trip will be listed and linked here, at the bottom of this blog post. You’ll also find this Kenya graphic displayed on the right sidebar of my blog homepage. Click on the graphic anytime, and you’ll be brought right back here where you’ll find all the blog posts in one place!

 

To read other posts in the series about my trip to Africa, click on the title below:

Africa. When STAY RIGHT BY ME is All God Asks.

One More Day and We’ll Be On Our Way

The Sweet Song of Shangilia Orphanage

God’s Good, Good Work

Home. A Blessing and Dream Come True.

Less Productivity. More Connectivity. The Lesson I Had to Learn in Africa.

On Earth, As It Is In Heaven

Good Love and Good Bye

Messy. Slummy. Safari Beautiful.

Africa. The Untold Stories.

Rachel Arntson - What an amazing trip! Thank you for sharing. It makes me anxious to go back again someday. We will see.December 14, 2015 – 12:33 am

Nicole Bobda - Amy, I’m so so excited for you!! Thank you for sharing this, especially about God’a timing vs our timing. I LOVE Africa, but have never been to Kenya. So excited for you to have this experience. I believe it will be AMAZING!! Really looking forward to seeing your pictures and reading about your trip. God is with you!September 18, 2015 – 5:55 pm

Christy Davis - sooooooooo excited for you! God’s going to blow your socks off and I am so encouraged by your YES! :)September 16, 2015 – 7:45 pm

Amy - Thank you, Kris. Your words are humbling and honoring to my heart, my mind and my soul. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read, and to leave words of encouragement. God bless.September 16, 2015 – 6:12 pm

Kris Neff - Beautiful story from an amazing lady! 100% support you in every way! You filled my eyes with tears at your humble nature and such a spirit of loving all humanity. God only chooses the best for his work Amy, he knows what he is doing. Trust and Obey.

KrisSeptember 16, 2015 – 12:29 pm

Introducing Knit Woven Made

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Today, I honor the 10-year-old girl who asked for a camera in 1986, got one for Christmas, and never stopped carrying it around from that day forward.

Today, I pay tribute to the dreams of the high school student, the college student who quietly included photography on a list of possible career aspirations, but quickly decided NO – photography’s not safe, not what’s expected, doesn’t pay enough, is too lofty, too dreamy, too unpredictable, too artsy, too out of the box.

Today, I remember the girl, the teenager, the college and graduate student, the wife, the mom, daughter, sister and friend who always felt a tad out of place carrying that camera around everywhere she went, like she needed to hide something, like she didn’t quite fit in with that thing, like she was always a bit awkward holding that camera at her side when most seemed to go about life as usual without one.

Today, I acknowledge her visions.

Today, I’m proud of the woman who realized she’d grown out of every camera she’d ever owned.

Today, I’m rooting for the woman who stepped out of the box, took a risk, and told her husband it was time – time to make a significant camera upgrade, time to explore this photography dream, time to do it once and for all.

Today, I’m grateful for a husband who said “Yes, let’s do this. But I want you to get good. Really good.”

Today, I’m still surprised by the woman who bought that dream camera and three months later, put a photography dream out there in My Life. Part Two. without having a clue if it would really come true.

Today, I’m overwhelmed by a God who knits us, weaves us, makes us beautiful. Grateful for a God who pursues relentlessly, creates ways where there are none, reminds us that He made us for a purpose, fashioned us for such a time as this.

Today, I’m incredibly humbled (and a little bit terrified) to launch Knit Woven Made, my photography business. The name, Knit Woven Made, is inspired by my favorite scripture, Psalm 139:1-16.

I’m still in exploration mode.

Still doing photo shoots for FREE, and will be through the end of August 2015.

I purchased two domain names for a photography website when the business becomes official:

www.knitwovenmade.com

and

www.knitwovenmade.org

Why reserve .com and .org domains, you ask? Because my long-term vision for photography includes service and giving, loving and encouraging creatively through photography. I’ve dreamed up a non-income generating photography project that would be incredibly meaningful and fulfilling to me as a photographer, writer and human being. So while my future photography website is highly likely to be a .com, I’m leaving open the possibility of a .org. Because I’m no longer limiting God’s ways, paths or plans.

My photography dreams are just as dear as my writing dreams. I believe they’ll work in tandem. It’s my intention to give these writing and photography explorations my full effort so at the end of life, I can rest in peace knowing I pursued my loves, developed my gifts, and fulfilled my God-given purpose.

Before I share a few photos, I’d love to share a few details!

This month, August only, I’ll be doing a limited number of FREE photo shoots. I have 14 1/2 years working as a speech-language therapist and a special interest in special needs, so I’d absolutely love to do more special needs photo shoots. This would also be a perfect opportunity for milestone photographs, and I’m hoping to improve my family posing skills, so if you’re fun, flexible, casual and haven’t had family photos in a while, I might be your photographer! I’m open to just about anything from maternity to special events to low-key graduation photos.

All September and October 2015, I’ll be running an introductory rate of $50 for one 60-75 minute photo session.  

All photo sessions are on location, in the comfort of your home (if I know you personally) or at an agreed upon favorite outdoor destination. I’m willing to photograph anywhere within reasonable driving distance in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul. When you make an inquiry, please include your location so I can determine the feasibility of a shoot.

During our photo shoot, I’ll take as many photographs as I’m able. After the shoot, I will edit out the bad, blurry, and just okay photographs. I’ll leave you with all the good, great and awesome photographs from the session! You will receive a CD with full rights to photographs.

I’ve owned my dream camera for 11 months, but I’ve been taking photographs relentlessly for nearly 30 years. In fact, photography’s the only thing I’ve done my whole life without fail. So while I can’t promise you perfection in these early days, I can promise you heart, hard work, and a bunch of photographs I hope you’ll treasure for years to come.

It would be a true honor and delight to have you click on over to my new Facebook page for photography! I’m launching it today at www.facebook.com/knitwovenmade. When you visit, be sure to “like” the page and scroll all the way through the feed, which includes photos from four of six full-length photo shoots I’ve done, and three blog posts I’ve written about photography. From here on out, I’ll be posting all photography updates on that page. Please feel free to share this post and the Facebook page with anyone you think might be interested!

If you would like to take advantage of a FREE photo shoot in August or want to schedule a $50 introductory shoot for September or October, please leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post, contact me via the Facebook page, or send me an email at amybpederson@hotmail.com.

Thanks, everyone! And may you be blessed, remembering you’re Knit Woven Made.

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greensig

Tom Baunsgard - Congratulations AmyAugust 9, 2015 – 3:18 am

Quiet Confirmation

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I took a risk. I knew I needed to.

I’d been following the fundraising race announcements on the nonprofit organization’s Facebook page for weeks. Something told me I was supposed to go. Something told me I was supposed to race. Something told me I needed to be there. Something whispered. Take a risk. Ask. Just ask if they need a photographer.

My brain told me no. My brain told me stop. My brain told me I should stay home. This is a ridiculous idea. It’s too late. Don’t even go there. I have nothing to offer. I’m not professional. And duh! They already have a photographer. What qualifies me to photograph a race projected to earn $40,000.00 for children who have Down syndrome? What makes me believe I’m good enough to take on this task when I’m still in exploration mode? Where in the world do these crazy ideas keep coming from anyway?

I didn’t know.

I don’t know for sure.

Perhaps it was God’s still small voice.

So I called.

I couldn’t ignore the feeling I was supposed to do this.

I picked up the phone. She answered.

“Hi! My name is Amy. I see you have a fundraising race coming up this Saturday. I have 14 1/2 years of experience as a speech-language therapist, but I stopped working in December to focus on writing and exploring special needs photography. I’m looking for opportunities to do some special needs photography and wondered if there was any chance you needed a photographer for the event this weekend. And by the way, one of my former patients comes to your center for activities quite often. I’m sure her mom would be happy to vouch for me if you need a reference.”

She told me that when the race planning committee met a week and a half prior, the news was that the originally scheduled photographer was no longer able to shoot the event. She wasn’t sure if they’d found a replacement photographer, but she was going to check with the committee chair. And she wanted to know the name of my former patient’s mom. I reluctantly shared the mom’s name, and she knew her right away. “Oh yes, they’re very active here,” she said, and promised to get back to me within a day.

I hung up.

I’d done all I could.

Now it was in God’s hands.

30 minutes after I hung up, I decided I’d better text that mom and give her a heads up that I inquired about photography for the race…just in case they called her for a reference.

When I texted the mom, she responded immediately. “Ha! You are actually already too late! I just got off the phone.” In those 30 minutes between my phone call to the nonprofit and my heads-up text to the mom, the mom just so happened to call the nonprofit for something else, found out I had made the contact, and gave me a “rave review” without me even knowing!

Crazy.

Quiet confirmation.

The next day, the nonprofit called with an update. They’d found a replacement photographer, but could really use a second one. So they invited me to photograph, confirmed that my name would be added to the list of volunteers, and reminded me to pick up a t-shirt at the volunteer desk.

Race day arrived in the blink of an eye.

The air was brisk, chilly. I wore a long-sleeve t-shirt with a short-sleeve t-shirt over it, and figured I’d put the volunteer t-shirt right on top of that. I chose jean leggings and Target Toms. Neither were perfect for a race, but the Target Toms had brought me through long days in Haiti and Dominican Republic just fine, so why not for this, too?

The race was awesome, a photography dream come true. Hundreds of children who have Down syndrome and their delightful family and friends? Free reign to photograph those beauties in a fun, purpose-filled setting? Who could ask for more? Seriously. It was a joy.

After I picked up my t-shirt, I realized I just needed to own this thing. I needed to go ahead and take those photographs. Ten minutes in, I noticed the other photographer in the thick of things at the registration desk, but I knew that wasn’t my place. So I set my mind to do my own thing and just go for it.

I photographed moments leading up to the race. I photographed the race. I photographed special events after the race. And get this…I walked-ran the race, too.

I didn’t plan to walk-run the race, but how silly was that? Apparently, I didn’t know myself quite as well as I thought I did. Me at a race with hundreds of children with Down syndrome and I’m NOT GOING TO RUN with them? How clueless was I arriving in my jean leggings and Target Toms?

So after I took all the starting line and first block photographs of the 5K heat and 1 mile heat, I decided to bring up the rear and run the 5K. I ran. As fast as I could. With my camera. My goal was to catch up to the 5K stragglers. I ran for a long time all by myself. When I finally caught up to the last of the stragglers, I ran up ahead and captured their moment. Then I ran more until I caught up with the next group, and captured their moment. I ran further ahead, group by group, moment by moment. I was the racing photographer and I was bound and determined to photograph this race in real time. Because why not?

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I ran with children who have Down syndrome. I ran with their families. I ran with their friends. I ran with their teachers. I ran with their siblings and supporters. We high fived. We laughed. We stopped for bruised knees. We cheered each other on. It was awesome.

I crossed the finish line by myself. There were no familiar faces cheering me on in the final seconds of the race. There was nobody to hug, nobody to high five. There was nobody there to take a photo to mark my first 5K. But it was truly okay. That day, that race, I didn’t need external fanfare. I had all the fanfare I ever needed. Internal joy and peace that this was totally my gig, my happy place.

Quiet confirmation.

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I took 1,014 photographs that day. I had to triple check the number. I couldn’t believe it was actually true.

For the next two days, I spent nap time and late night time editing the photos, deleting the junk and selecting the ones I felt were best to share with the nonprofit. Three days after the race, I delivered a CD of 419 photos to the nonprofit’s office.

All in all, I was proud of those 419 photographs. I was happy with the way they turned out. They brought me joy. They brought me peace. I knew now. I had confirmation. Given complete freedom to photograph and the right set of circumstances, I really could create the beauty, the art I’d envisioned.

Of the 419 photographs, I was particularly proud of a smaller group of them, and ADORED six so much that I wanted to share on my blog and a new Facebook page I’m developing for photography. I sent an inquiry to the hosting nonprofit and discovered that race participants signed a release for the nonprofit to share the photographs. As a result, the nonprofit has kindly agreed to contact six families on my behalf to see if they’ll give me permission to share the photographs (without any reference to names, of course).

When I received that notice, my heart shifted.

Inquiries will be made. Perhaps some or all six families will give me permission to share the photographs I took of their beautiful children at the race. But there’s no guarantee. There’s a chance that all of the photographs from that day will remain a quiet confirmation between me and God, a quiet confirmation of my call to press forward with photography, especially special needs photography.

Quiet confirmation.

Early last week, the nonprofit organization shared 100 of my photographs from the race on their Facebook page. They included a few of my favorite photos. Let me just say, it has been pure joy to see complete strangers’ response to the photos. God knew this was the quiet confirmation I needed.

In response to a sweet girl’s photograph that was a bit too dark in my estimation, a photograph I knew I could’ve shot better had I more time with her.

“Beautiful. Seriously.”

In response to the photo I LOVED, but critiqued because it was a bit blurry.

“You look great Benny!” and “Go Benny go!”

In response to a photo of a daddy hugging his baby girl that showed the deep emotion I sense from parents of children with special needs.

“This is so sweet.”

In response to the photo of a little boy who toddled towards me at the finish line. He was so cute and so on the move that my best photo of him turned out a bit blurry for my preference.

“Love you Luc!” “Great photo!” and “Love you buddy!”

In response to the little girl that hid behind her mama and ran away from me earlier in the day, the little girl I captured on stage after she was tired and worn out, but still endearing and oh so sweet.

“My princess Aly!!”

Yes.

Quiet confirmation.

None of those people knew me. None of those people had any connection to me. They simply saw the photographs and recognized them as beauty.

Perhaps we don’t need others’ loud fanfare after all. Perhaps quiet confirmation is all we need. Quiet confirmation of a life well lived. Quiet confirmation of a choice well made. Quiet confirmation of a call answered. And warmly received.

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Carol Femling - Sounds like a day that I’d ENJOY!! I’m so glad that you were able to do this, Amy! I’d love to see the pictures sometime. :)June 14, 2015 – 4:47 pm