Blessings : the act or words of one who blesses; approval

Words: Damarus

My life has been greatly impacted by people speaking words of encouragment to me. Times when I wasn’t sure I could make it, they said it would be okay. Times when I prayed for Jesus to show His love, His people acted and blessed.

Blessings and being blessed are in the Bible so often! God blessed Adam and Eve in the garden. The Israelites were blessed when they followed God. Issac blessed Jacob. Ruth was blessed when she was willing to go with Naomi her mother in law. And God showered them with blessing…. It’s no wondered we desire to by blessed and receive approval. Jesus created it!

Words spoken in love empower, bring life and a feeling of worth. Death and Life are in the power of the tongue… Proverbs 18:21

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 Sometimes we may be the answer to a friend’s prayer. I believe Jesus speaks to us and we need to be willing to act. If we are His hands and feet, then we need to listen. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not loose his reward. Mark 9:41 For myself, I can struggle to be wiling to say aloud what I am feeling, but we can write! Give a note of blessing if speaking aloud comes hard. Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do. Proverbs 3:27

We long to be blessed and receive approval from our parents, husband or wife, and those of great significance to us. Maybe today Jesus is asking us to be the blessing. It is a challenge to me to be willing to seek out whom I can bless. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Let us try harder to allow Jesus to make us a blessing and not to with hold those words of life from people!

Kombucha

You might be thinking, “What in the world is she talking about?”
Or, maybe you have heard of kombucha, perhaps tasted it, but it’s not your favorite beverage.
Possibly you are a seasoned professional reading this and will realize I am only an amateur when it comes to kombucha!
Whatever the case, I really enjoy making kombucha and thought I would share some information on this fermented drink.

Benefits:

There are a lot of people who start drinking kombucha thinking it will prevent or heal a disease. However, kombucha is not meant to fight ailments. Instead, it just gives us good bacteria and helps our bodies rebalance so they can function properly. Fermented food and drinks are easier for our gut to digest. It is not going to harm anything, even if it doesn’t specifically heal. It will help your gut be able to digest food and work properly, though.
Many people drink kombucha as an alternative to sugary carbonated drinks. It does have some sugar in, but in the fermenting process, the yeast and bacteria in the SCOBY use the sugar for nutrition. When we actually drink it, there is very little sugar left.
Kombucha is suitable for all ages and diets. My two year old brother has drank kombucha since he was a baby and he absolutely loves it! Anyone can add kombucha to his or her diet anytime and obtain a benefit.

There are several components of kombucha. It all starts with the SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). If you are interested in making your own kombucha, you will want to be sure you get a good SCOBY. I recommend buying one from Kombucha Kamp. Next you want organic loose leaf tea. Black tea is the best, but you can also mix it with some green tea and fruit flavored teas. You will also need some basic things like sugar and water. Don’t forget brewing containers- I use a glass gallon jar for the first brew and then divide it into kombucha bottles. You can use pretty much any glass bottle, but I like these because they have a tight seal. Just be sure you don’t use any metal, it will harm the bacteria in your kombucha. And if you want to flavor your kombucha, you need fresh fruit or flavorings.

Brewing is easy. Boil about 12 oz. of water, and add a heaping tablespoon of tea. Let your tea steep for 10-15 minutes, and then pour it into your gallon jar. Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in the tea and then fill the jar with cold water, leaving enough space for your SCOBY and 1 cup of kombucha (this is your starter). If you don’t have kombucha around, you can buy a bottle from a grocery store to use as your starter. Add these two things and then cover the jar with a paper towel and let it sit in a warm location (75-85 degrees), out of direct sunlight for a week- ten days. Then take out the SCOBY and a cup of kombucha to use as a starter in your next batch, strain the rest of the kombucha and pour it into your individual jars. Add fruit or flavorings if you want and then let them sit for about 3 days. Refrigerate until cold and then enjoy your homemade fermented tea!

Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions on the method of making kombucha or just want to know more about it. I have barely even started on this subject! -Ginger

I Am Undeserving

I am so Underserving of the gift of His Grace. In all my weakness and distrust, Jesus has all the right to turn His back to me, but instead He stands with open arms, ready to receive me when I come. That’s Grace!

I continue to fail, and not have faith and believe. I don’t extend grace to that person, when they need it most. I struggle to find things to be thankful for and be thankful for ALL things. I become entangled in life, and the circumstances I am going through and am blinded to the continued gifts He pours out each day. I choose to believe lies and start feeding off of what Satan is trying to give me in my overwhelmed state of mind.

GRACE. ”the love and mercy given to us from Jesus, not because of anything that we have done to earn it, but because God desires us to have it.”

He simply stands, waiting with open arms. Extending grace, mercy and love to His feeble, broken daughter. Ready to swoop her in His arms and shower her in Hope. He could be saying ” daughter, I have been here for you all these times, I have faithfully met you when you needed me, why are you not trusting? ” But instead, He gives grace!

Words by: Damarus

Manual Photography

So, I’m sorry to those of you who really have no interest in photography, but this week’s post is going to be a rundown on how to use manual on your camera. Hopefully these tips are helpful to those of you who are interested in knowing more about your camera. We are also going to include some of our favorite equipment and resources of photography!

There are three aspects of manual. ISO. Shutter speed. Aperture (AKA F/stop). It will take a little to understand how to use these aspects together to create better pictures, but in the end you will be happier! Since I have learned how to use manual, my camera almost never changes off of the “M” on the dial. If I do switch it back to automatic I am always disappointed. So we will dive into these definitions and how they work together.
If you aren’t sure how to adjust the settings, consult your camera’s manual.

ISO- the sensitivity to light of the film in a camera.

I kind of think of ISO as less important than the other two, but it is still very key to getting a great picture. You have probably seen the ISO on your camera. You can choose from a series of numbers. Most camera’s start at 100 and have a variety of ranges. Mine goes up to 25600. Basically, the brighter your surroundings, the lower your ISO should be. Indoors I usually have mine around 400, depending on how well lit the house is. Outside I generally keep it at 100 unless it’s evening and getting dark. Always opt for a lower ISO. If it’s too high, the picture could get grainy. But I have had times when I had to jack it up to 6400 or higher.

Shutter Speed- speed at which the shutter of the camera closes.

Shutter speed is in fractions, like 1/80, 1/200 etc. If your shutter speed is set high, like 1/1600, the shutter will close really fast, not letting much light in. If it’s low, like 1/25, the shutter closes slowly, allowing a lot of light in. You should be able to tell that in a dark setting, the shutter speed should be low, and in a bright setting, it should be high. This is the setting I change the most. I generally set my ISO and f/stop and then adjust the shutter speed so the picture looks like I want it to.

Aperture (f/stop.)- opening of a lens through which light passes.

The aperture is expressed in numbers like F3.2, F8, etc. The lower your f/stop the less of your image is in focus. So if you are taking portraits, and just want your subject in focus, but the background blurry, take your f/stop down. Just be sure you don’t leave important details out of focus. A lot of portrait lenses have the ability to have the aperture as low as F1.8. This will not leave much in focus. But if you are taking pictures of a landscape, you will want the entire picture in focus, so go with a higher aperture.

A Few of our Favorite Things:

Favorite Lenses:
Both Damarus and I totally love our 50mm lenses and highly recommend them if you are into portraits. It has a really low f/stop and does really well at getting a great bokeh effect. Recently I invested in a 17-50mm lens and am very impressed! It is categorized as a wide-angle lens, but it also works great for portraits, having a low f/stop as well. So now I have some competition for my 50mm!

Favorite Developer:
Definitely Mpix. They have super high quality prints for a very reasonable price!

We like making photography fun, so here are some things we like to use to add glamour to our hobby!
Backpack camera bag. Neither of us actually have one of these, but a great friend of mine does and she loves it! It is definitely on my wishlist!
Lace camera strap. I was gifted one of these and love it! There are also lots of more Practical straps for everyday use.
Camera tshirt. Super cute and perfect for gifts for photographer friends!
Lens Thermos. Another wonderful gift idea for photographers!

Written by Ginger

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Words by: Danae F. Sommers

The earth is starting to burst forth in color with all the spring beauty! Isn’t it exciting and refreshing to see that first daffodil or maybe even that little yellow dandelion?! Spring flowers have a way of bringing
cheer to this world.



Let’s take a moment to consider all the many different kinds of
flowers that God has blessed us with. There are Roses, Daisies, Peonies,
Tulips, Sunflowers, Zinnias, Poppys, and the list goes on! All of these are
different in color, require different care, and benefit us in all different ways.
All of these flowers were created by our heavenly Father, to bring beauty to
this earth.

Imagine yourself as one of those beautiful flowers. God has planted
you. Are you blooming for Him?

The common phrase, “Bloom where you are planted” can be
extremely hard to actually live out. Have you ever questioned why God has
allowed a certain happening to take place? Why is life so hard? Others seem
to have such an easy, normal life, and I’m stuck here, among all the rocks
and thorns!

A quote that I saw on a church sign: “Sometimes when you are in a
dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but you have actually been
planted.” Remember, there is always a reason for what God allows to come
our way! It is alright to have a “Winter” in our Christian lives, as long as we
don’t stay there. Lift your “drooping” head and reach out to the Son! He will
fill you with his love. Just as a flower needs sunshine and water to live, we
need Jesus to satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst. Are we reaching out to
Jesus each day in prayer and Bible reading? As we are faced with unpleasant
circumstances, it’s important to use that time to dig our roots deeper into
God’s word.

Are you experiencing growth in your Christian life? If not, take time
to consider what could be hindering your growth. When you plant a flower
seed, you eagerly await the day that the tiny little seedling pops through the
ground. As you continue to water and give it light, it keeps growing. But
sometimes there are those annoying weeds that start choking out the new
plant. Do we make an effort to “weed” out any known sin in our lives?

Sometimes it can seem so small and not a big deal, but just as weeds, sin
will take over before we know it. “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.” -Psalms 139:23-24

Contentment is an important part in being able to “Bloom where you
are planted”. As soon as we start looking around and noticing how much
better others have life, we start taking our eyes off of God. Try writing a list
of “Blessings from God” and soon you will realize how much you had taken
for granted! Take joy in knowing that God has a reason for where you are
planted, the people you are surrounded with, and the circumstances you are
currently in. Paul says in the Bible, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I
have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” –
Phililppians 4:11

Flowers are used for all different purposes. Some are used for
medicinal reasons, others can be used for food, and some are just there so
you can have fun making a gorgeous bouquet for your table. We all have
different callings to fulfill. God might send you across the sea, or call you to
be an encourager right there in your hometown. Whatever God has for you,
do it with joy and pleasure. Find ways to reach out and be a blessing to
others. Let the beauty of Jesus shine through you.

What are practical ways that we can “Bloom”? I have five ways listed
below, but of course it’s not limited to only these.

  1. SETTLE IN TO WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED
    Trust God, and accept where you are.
    2. USE WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU
    Utilize your gifts/talents and be a blessing to others around you.
    3. DETERMINE TO GROW
    Get out of your comfort zone, and draw closer to God.
    4. HELP OTHERS BLOOM
    When others succeed, you succeed.
    5. KEEP AT A DISTANCE WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM BLOOMING
    Don’t hang out with, what robs your joy.

Dear “Flowers”,
YOU are BEAUTIFUL! Spread some cheer to this dark world!
Remember, it is GOD that planted YOU!
So “BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED”!!!

Wow, this is such a good reminder. Sometimes, because we do not look like others we think we are worthless but this is so not true! Each of us has special talents and a job to do in this world. May we all “Bloom were we are planted.”

Thank you Miss Danae for being willing to write for us! We are so grateful for your friendship and for the blessing you are. May Jesus continue to bless you with wisdom as you care for your family and all the people around you.