Learn to Take Better Family Photos for FREE!

Recently I was asked to take a look at a website called Craftsy. To be honest I had never heard of Craftsy and didn’t expect to find such an extraordinary resource.

Click here to see the FREE class I took with Craftsy!

Now I wouldn’t call myself a “crafty gal”, but I do admit to occasionally daydreaming about making my own jewelry line or knitting a trendy scarf. The problem is… I wouldn’t even know where to start. The other problem is… I don’t have time to go take classes and learn said craftiness. This is where Craftsy comes in and saves the day!

I was able to take Craftsy’s free Professional Family Portraits class and test it out for myself. It was an easy to understand course broken into four sections. The instructor was very clear and knowledgeable in regards to the topic. A few of my favorite things I learned from the class were the use of lighting and some tricks to light your subjects well (who knew you could just use a white board to reflect light back on your subject?!). I also really enjoyed the section on locations for group photos. He gave good suggestions and ideas for finding the perfect spot to set up a portrait, as well as help in making ANY location work.

One of the best things about taking the class online besides the valuable information, was the ability to start the class and pause the class whenever I needed to. When the kids were in bed or when I had a few minutes during the day to spare I would sit down and watch a bit of the course in the comfort of my own home. It was so convenient! Craftsy is the perfect solution for us busy moms who want to learn but don’t have time to leave the house and attend a class.

Here are a few pictures I took after taking the course. In my photos I tried to focus on lighting (better on an overcast day outside), as well as capturing my child’s personality.

Here is a little more info about Craftsy:

Craftsy offers online crafting classes, taught by world renowned instructors who love the craft as much as you do. Craftsy classes are online, so they are available to you anytime you want for as long as you want, there are no scheduled class times, so you can enjoy them entirely on your own schedule. Each class is taught by an acclaimed instructor and consists of several hours of HD-quality video content… but Craftsy classes are much more than just a video!

While taking a Craftsy class, you can:

Ask your instructor questions, upload photos, and get personalized responses

Participate in discussions with your classmates

Access supporting class materials – including recipes and helpful tips & tricks

Bookmark your favorite moments in the video so that you can easily re-watch them and take notes that you can refer back to anytime

The great thing about Craftsy is that there is a class for everyone! You can learn knitting, photography, cake decorating, sewing, cooking and more!

If you are ready to start learning check out Craftsy for FREE below!

Learn how to take beautiful, professional-looking photos of your own family with Craftsy’s free Professional Family Portraits class. Sign up now for this free Professional Family Portraits class!

Blessings,

Ruth Schwenk

Learn how to take beautiful, professional-looking photos of your own family with Craftsy’s free Professional Family Portraits class. Sign up now for this free Professional Family Portraits class!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Craftsy. The opinions and text are all mine.

Instawhat? Navigating Social Media with Your Kids

Instawhat? Navigating Social Media with Your Kids

I have two middle schoolers now. Two. At one time. It’s intense sometimes. (And fun.)

Since I’m an online publicist, I thought I knew a lot about social media. But, alas, having middle schoolers has awakened me to a whole new side of social media. One that is really kind of scary. Just in the last week, I have read two sobering articles on some of the problems that come with this social experiment – everything from cyber bullying to sexting to hooking up with random strangers.

Someone has said that this generation is the “technology everywhere generation.” No matter where or what they are doing, our teens are usually connected to some social media network. For better or for ill.

So, what’s a parent to do? Like other cultural issues, there are several ways loving, God-honoring parents might choose as an approach to social media. Rather than evaluate each of those, I want to give you two simple challenges: be aware and be involved.

Navigating Social Media with Your Kids

Be aware

When it comes to social media, two kinds of parents come to mind. You might consider yourself “out of the loop” when it comes to online technology. You don’t own a smartphone and you don’t have time for Facebook and you’re fine with keeping it that way. But, unless you’re keeping your kids pretty insulated, I would advise you to become a little more aware of what is going on in the world around you.

Social-Media-Icons

As I type those words, I realize that it can be a very tricky balance. On the one hand, you might be trying to keep healthy social media boundaries yourself. The online world can be a black hole for your precious time – keeping it at bay keeps your life simpler. I get that. Like most things, social media has its pros and cons. But, the reality is that as your kids get older, they are most likely being exposed to social media in one form or another – even if they don’t have their own accounts.

There is another kind of parent though that feels pretty tech savvy. I’m more in that category. I’ve been on Facebook since our kids were little and we were in college ministry. But, your teen does not necessarily use Facebook or Instagram the same way that you do. Don’t assume that just because you know these tools, that you don’t have some learning to do. Because, I’ll be honest, you probably do. To that end, I want to share with you a great resource from my friend, Austin McCann. Austin is our Student Ministry Director. He does an incredible job of keeping the parents in our church equipped to deal with the things that our culture is throwing at our kids. He’s done some great work on his blog to resource parents particularly in this area of social media.

Be involved

Being aware is only the first part of the equation. The second step is being involved. You’re going to have to help your kids navigate this area. Don’t just leave it up to your youth pastor. YOU have to be hands on. And, I’ll tell you, it’s going to take some of your time.

How can you be involved?

  • Do some research. Know which apps your kids are using and how they are using them. Whether it’s a smartphone, an iPod or a personal game system, is there an internet browser available to your kids on it? If so, check the parental controls and filters that are available to you. Don’t assume anything. Your kids might be great kids. But, they are susceptible to temptation just like all of us are. My son is 14 and has chosen to totally get rid of the browser on his phone. He decided it just wasn’t worth it to risk being tempted to look at porn.
  • Have an open door policy with your kids. Put parameters on when and where they can be on their devices. Our kids aren’t allowed to have them in their rooms with the doors closed. Warn them that anything they post or text can be checked by you at any time without warning. I know this might mess with your desire to give them some privacy. Over time, you might be able to give them more and more freedom in this way. But, right now, they’re your kids and their online engagement isn’t really all that private anyway. So, it’s certainly fair game for Mom & Dad’s eyes.
  • Talk with them. A lot. As you go. Listen to their banter in the car. Be the one driving the carpool on a regular basis. Have their friends hanging out at your house a lot. Make sure you’re “friends” with them on Facebook, etc. Read their posts. My 12-year-old daughter and her friends think selfies on Instagram are the greatest. I’ve had to talk with her about that whole phenomenon. I’ve also had some great, teachable moments with her about comments that can get misunderstood in a text or online comment. Those conversations go well, in part, because we talk often about other everyday stuff too.
  • Follow up with them. When you see something online that makes you uncomfortable, don’t shy away from the awkward conversation that needs to happen with your kids. I’d rather be uncomfortable for a few minutes than see my kids fall prey to bullying or sexting or inappropriate images. Our conversation about twerking after the MTV awards was not the most comfortable one I’ve ever had. We don’t watch MTV but I knew my kids would likely see or hear about that footage. I wanted them to have our perspective before they saw it on YouTube or had their friends’ perspectives.

If you’re not able or willing to put this kind of effort into their online engagement, then I might suggest holding off on an iPhone for Christmas. The commitment isn’t just theirs. It’s yours too. And you just have to know that going in. If you do, the social media world can be a fun place. If you don’t, it can be a dangerous place.

Grace and peace,

ShannonMcKee

It’s Not a Game…

It's Not a Game...

If I post about parenting–  but ignore my child’s needs…

If I tweet about marriage–  but am too tired for intimacy…

If my Facebook status is for friendship–  but I’m too busy for my friends…

If I text about service–  but do not respond when my neighbor’s need is clear…

If I Pinterest-pin verses–  but don’t actually read my Bible…

If I say “I will pray”– but forget to follow through…

If I speak about love–  but fail to love in action…

If I– fail to love in daily-real-in-the-flesh-life?

Oh it’s not a game.
Let me live the walk I talk.

For little eyes are watching to see what truly captures my heart.

“…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” ~1 John 3:18

With Love,

Kara @The Chuppies

Don’t Boast When You Post (Choosing Humility Over Self-Promotion)

white daisiesSeveral years ago a fictional man by the name of “Larry Boast” came as a surprise guest to a father/son mentoring club my husband led. Mr. Boast bragged on add nauseam about everything under the sun. Through his exaggerated, obnoxious and overbearing personality, Mr. Boast delivered an invaluable lesson to the boys gathered that night; bragging is unbecoming for anyone, but especially for the follower of Christ.

Chances are we’ve all encountered “Larry’s wife”: the woman who has perfected the art of “subtle bragging” on her children, her husband, her home, her job, her latest purchase, and her latest vacation. Her list of things to brag about seems endless. Like the ostrich with her head in the sand, she is oblivious to the fact that her boasting is seen by all, exposing either her insecurities or her arrogance. She provides a great example for us and our children of how not to act.

Although none of us are strangers to pride, social media has normalized this “mother of all sins” and has even made it socially acceptable. Facebook, Twitter, and blogging (though morally neutral mediums) have opened the “Pandora’s Box” of self-promotion. If honest, we all have a desire to be important, successful and admired, but we do well to examine ourselves and our actions in light of His Word. What does the Scripture tell us about bragging?  

“This is what the Lord says: The wise must not boast in his wisdom; the mighty must not boast in his might; the rich must not boast in his riches. But the one who boasts should boast in this, that he understands and knows me—that I am the Lord, showing faithful love, justice and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the Lord’s declaration.”          ~Jeremiah 9:23,24

When we look to Christ we see perfect humility displayed. Jesus never touted His accomplishments, nor did He announce Himself when He entered a community; people gathered because His works preceded Him. His very entrance into time and space through Mary’s womb was an act of unparalleled humility. Philippians 2:8 tells us that this King “humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” Jesus never flaunted who He was. He didn’t have to; His life spoke volumes.

One has to wonder:  if Jesus had a Facebook page, what would it look like? Would He update it daily with His latest “selfie” or sporting His latest garment purchase? Would He flaunt His disciples’ many accomplishments? Don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting it is wrong to post photos or share good things in our lives. But before we post perhaps we should ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” “Does this draw attention to Christ, or to myself?”

Though Jesus had every right to boast (He is the King of all kings, after all), He didn’t. He never sang His own praises. We should live as Jesus did, content to go unnoticed. When Christ is truly the center of our lives and we find our worth and identity in Him, no self-promotion is needed.

“But as for me (Paul) I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” ~Galatians 6:14

Blessings,

Barb

Photo Credit:  http://www.mi9.com/wallpaper/26-white-daisy-under-sky-wild-daisy-flower-photos_69095/

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