Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thunderstorms


I was five, and vacationing at the cottage with my family, Leah hadn't been born yet. The day was hot and still without a breath of wind. Cicadas buzzed but the birds were silent. Nicole and I spent the day toddling around in the shallow, warm water. At dinner we ate quietly, sticking to our chairs, too hot to talk or laugh. 

Suddenly, the leaves began rustling. A low, dark cloud was rising on the horizon over the lake. A cool breeze blew through the open windows, clearing out the stagnant air and replacing it with sweet freshness. I remember running out onto the porch with my dad and letting the wind lift my sweaty hair off my neck and forehead. The wind grew stronger, and the sky darkened to black. Thunder rumbled in the distance and lightning flashed. Rain began pelting the hot, dry earth. My dad became serious. He made me go back inside. 

The happy welcoming of the cooler weather was gone. Water starting leaking through the windows and my mom rushed to get towels. The power went out. My dad came in from outside, soaked, and calmly told my mom to take Nicole and I to the back bedroom. The boat was getting smashed against the dock and he had to go try and save it. I was scared now, and didn't like the idea of my dad being out in the storm. 

We heard a painful yell from outside. My heart dropped and little Nicole started crying. We thought dad had been struck by lightening, turns out he dropped the boat ladder on his foot, but we were terrified nonetheless. Finally he came back inside and murmured something to my mom. She nodded, and calmly took Nicole and I by the hands and led us to the side door. "Girls, we're going to the neighbours. They have a basement." I didn't know then that there had been tornado sightings in the area. 

My dad ran ahead carrying Nicole to start the car. My mom carried me. I remember the roaring of the wind and the cold, stinging of the heavy rain. My dad drove quickly down the gravel lake road to my aunt and uncle's cottage, where my parents rushed us into safety. Their cottage was built stronger than our summer home. My heart pounded as the thunder shook the windows and the lightening lit the room. But we were safe here, and eventually, curled up on my mom and soothed by their quiet talking, I fell asleep.

I think that night was the beginning of my strange, emotional views on thunderstorms. I am 21 years old now, but my heart still pounds with nervous excitement when a storm rolls in. Especially on hot, still days. It's a mixture of nostalgia, longing for when I believed that my mom and dad could protect me from anything, and irrational dread. Dread that a tornado will destroy the house and kill the people I love, dread that a tree will collapse on my car, dread that lightning will strike and start a fire… being electrocuted by lightning through an outdoor water tap a few years ago didn't help my anxiety, neither did the fatal tornado that ripped through a town close to mine last summer. 

The warm weather inspired me to write this blog, thunderstorm season is fast approaching. So pardon me if we're ever together during one of these times. I will slightly panic, and I will cling to you with cold, clammy hands. Apologies in advance.

Does anyone else get like this or is it just me? Let me know your thunderstorm stories in the comments below. :) 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Summer 2012 Wish List

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but the weather where I live has been beautiful during these past two weeks! It's almost unheard of for March. The ice is gone, Josh and I have eaten outside every day, we can sleep with the windows open at night, I've even taken April swimming!

Besides having a cold that lasted two weeks, I have been in happy, happy mood. And all this warm weather has gotten me excited for the summer. Every spring for the last four years I make a list in my journal of all the things I want to accomplish in the summer. This year, I've decided to make that list on this blog. I think it's a fun way to bring in the warm weather. I'll probably add to it as time goes on.

So without further ado, I give to you my summer wish list;

-Visit the Grotto in Tobermory
-Hike to Stormhaven with friends and camp there
-Eat a meal at Cobble Beach Golf Club
-Sleep outside more than once
-Set up a hammock near the water
-Stargaze… tons.
-Catch and photograph fireflies
-Have many, many bonfires
-Buy a pretty patio set for the lake deck
-Do a canoe trip in Muskoka
-Get over 30 books and read them all
-Keep on top of my editing and blogging
-Explore Chantry Island
-Explore the shipwrecks in Georgian Bay
-Take a road trip with Josh
-Fly out to BC again
-Make my own lemonade and ice tea
-Eat fresh corn and other garden vegetables
-Attend an outdoor concert


(Photos are not my own. Taken from Pinterest.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tyler & Danielle

I am a terrible secret-keeper. Of course, if you trust me enough to tell me your secret, I will keep it. But sometimes exciting news gnaws away at me and I'm literally bursting to tell it to the world. 

Danielle and Tyler, my sister and brother-in-laws, wanted to wait three months before they told the general public about their pregnancy. Finally the day came. I am SO happy for these two! Babies are so exciting and I can't wait to meet their little creation in October. :D

These are some announcement photos I took the other day at Tyler's birthday party. Enjoy!


Friday, March 23, 2012

When Christianity Gets Ugly

Just warning everyone that this blog post is going to be a big rant. Click away now if you don't want to continue. :P

I am so frustrated. Here's what I don't understand; what on Earth is wrong with most Christians in this area? Please know that I am fully aware that there are some wonderful, kind-hearted, inspiring Christians out there. If more Christians were like them, I'd be proud to have that label on me. However, due to the over-abundance of crazies, you'll never ever hear me say "Yep. I'm a Christian!"

Recently there was a very disturbing Facebook status that appeared on my newsfeed. The post was written by a youth pastor from my area. The status itself, as unnecessary as it was, wasn't that offending. It was the 80+ comments on it that were. It basically stated that swearing is wrong, and you should be able to say what you mean without slandering the Lord's name. 

Okay, I understand where he was coming from. Yes, swearing can be tasteless, especially if you're throwing the words out mindlessly in a professional place, around children, elders, or to purposely offend someone. If the status ended there, with little commentary, I would have just scrolled on and forgot about it altogether. 

But here's what happened; a young girl commented simply stating that swearing is proven to reduce stress. I agree with her. No, I'm not proud of it, but sometimes I find myself slipping up and muttering a curse word here and there. Also, I grew up on a farm in Bruce County. When you have to go out and clean the barn, most people don't say "I'm heading out to rake up some goat poo!" No. It's shit. There is nothing dainty or cute about horse, cow, goat and chicken droppings. It's shit. 

Back to the Facebook status… after that girl innocently made her comment, she was literally attacked by leaders and other youth in the church for what she said. They were quoting scripture and completely judging her and where her heart was at with God. 

This is disgusting. Christians are supposed to be representing God's love to others. How dare you judge another person like that. You don't know their background. You don't know what they've been through. WHO CARES if they swear? Who are you to decide where their "heart is with God." 

I would never use that language around my grandparents, or anyone that I knew was offended by it. I totally respect that. But honestly? I don't think God is sitting up there crying about the fact that I said a "curse word". You know what he's upset about? The fact that you guys have proved your judgemental, prude, religious Christian stereotype. The fact that you have just repelled potential people who were looking for a church to go to. I would never bring my non-church friends to a place where they would be judged by their language and who knows what else. Hell, I would never even show up myself.

Tony Campolo sums up my feelings perfectly. "I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night." 

Oh man. I could go on forever about this. I wish I could post that massive, horrible conversation on here so you could see how truly awful it was. And what's even more terrible is that this is only the tip of the iceberg of what so many Christians have done. 

To the poor girl who wrote that comment. I am so sorry. You should never have been treated like that. Christians, especially Christians with leadership authority in a church, should be accepting, loving, and non-judgemental. Something went horribly wrong there. Please know that they're not all like that. Please know that God is not like that.

I'll end the blog with a quote by my amazing pastor, Bruxy Cavey. He says it best. 
"Never read the bible without Jesus as your interpretive principle. Everything points to Jesus. Whenever Christians have tried to follow the bible rather than Jesus they have come up with things like witch burnings. Because it's in the bible. They thought war was the way of God. They enslaved Africans. Killed homosexuals. They thought an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth was God's way and they should practice it. Whenever they followed the words of God and not the Word of God their prayers were full of judgement, and condemnation, and for the death and the suffering of their enemies, rather than praying for their forgiveness, for mercy, and trying to love them. 
Just following the bible is actually not what the bible calls for us to do. The bible points to Jesus. We're to follow Jesus"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Heaven?

When I was a kid, my sister Nicole and I would cry ourselves to sleep sometimes because we were so afraid of dying and going to heaven. We were scarred by a library book my mom read to us about a little boy who died and turned into an angel. Only, heaven was a place of dark clouds and creepy harps and sadness, because the boy missed his family so much. (My mom ended up calling the library and complaining that this book shouldn't be in the children's section. Yay mom! :P) 

Another reason why we were afraid was because of what was taught in Sunday School. "Heaven will be marvellous! Streets of gold up in the clouds, and you'll get to worship the Lord 24/7!" To us, that sounded like a church service that lasted forever. Which ironically seemed more like hell back then. (And to be honest, doesn't sound like a party now either. No offence.)

Truthfully, up until a few years ago my views on heaven were still skewed. I knew I believed in God and the bible, and I loved him and wanted to live a life like Jesus did, but having to spend an eternity up in the clouds listening to angels sing all the time? I didn't want that… and I hoped God would let me bring my earplugs through the Golden Gates with me. 

I liked my life on Earth how it was. I loved nature and travelling and photography. I loved summer barbeques, dancing like an idiot with girlfriends, pulling stupid pranks on strict bosses with my sisters, crying in sad movies… I loved God and everything that came with him, but I hated the idea of having to leave my messed up but beautiful life behind to spend infinity in blinding white perfection. 

When I was sixteen I went to British Columbia to work at a camp in the mountains called Stillwood. And there, thanks to some amazing experiences and incredible leaders, my outlook on Heaven was fixed for good.

God strives for us to be happy, right? So why would he create a place that is hard for us to be happy in? Look at Earth. Look at it's beauty in nature and friendships and family that God made for us to enjoy. I don't think he would take that all away from us when we join him in Heaven. 

Revelations 21 talks about a new heaven and a new Earth, and I believe that that means we'll be living on a flawless version of this planet. No pain, no war, no sadness, no loss… I picture being reunited with my lost family and friends. Living in a beautiful house by the water with my husband and children. Being able to travel wherever we want, whenever we want. Continuing my earthly passion of photography. Having a close and personal relationship to the One who created all of us and loves us more than we will ever know. 

Nobody knows exactly what Heaven will be like, but doesn't this sound better than the blindingly bright place that traditionalists taught us about as kids? I firmly believe that a God who wants the best for us wouldn't make us spend an eternity there. 


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Formspring

Some of you have been asking me why I disabled my Formspring account. I'm going to explain here so those wondering can get the information at once. :)

I originally signed up for Formspring because I was getting a lot of people emailing me the same few questions about photography; how did you get started, where did you go to school, what camera do you have, etc. And I loved receiving those and being able to help them out! But then I realized that if I created a location where they could ask me those questions publicly, I could put more effort into my answers and everyone that wanted to could view them and discuss.

Once I started my blog, Formspring became a place where I could interact with my readers. I loved answering their questions about life and photography and giving advice when asked. The best part? I could help people who wanted it but were too embarrassed to reveal who they were. 

I started receiving constructive criticism, and I welcomed it. I like hearing others' opinions on my work and writing. I like becoming a better artist because of them.

Then I started getting some un-constructive criticism (is that a word?). I just deleted them at first, I didn't want hateful, rude things showing up on my account. Then the messages started getting worse… degrading my friends, my marriage, my life choices, my family...

I'm a strong person and I can handle cruelty, but when you start involving the people I love? That's when I decided that Formspring was stupid. I think it's cowardly to hide behind an anonymous mask and make harsh and disgusting judgements towards someone you barely know. If you honestly have those terrible feelings, the least you could do is reveal who you are so we can discuss your anger and hatred like civilized people, privately.

I am truly sorry to those of you who did not abuse this website. I made great friends, learned a lot, and will miss your input in my life. 

I've decided to completely eliminate anonymous posting, except on this blog where there is comment approval. And for anyone who still wants to talk, email me at taylorphotography@live.ca. I don't judge. I am against hate. Don't be embarrassed to email me so we can still discuss life issues in a private and confidential location.

Taylor Rebecca