Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hi, folks! It's been a while.

Our newsletter went out the Monday after Thanksgiving so hopefully you're caught up on what's happening with us. However, this blog IS for bits on info that don't quite make it to press.

These are photos I just took of my friend Julie, the children's director for Tree of Life Church here in New Braunfels. Isn't she gorgeous?

Anyway, Thanksgiving week was horrendously busy (I worked Wednesday til 6:00 that night and came into the office twice over the weekend) and the following week wasn't much better. THIS week we're having a mini-orientation for a young lady joining as an intern to Spain, so I've hosted her at our house for three days.

Hannah got a black eye on Thanksgiving Day: she and Lanier were throwing a baseball, and she didn't catch it properly. Oops. He felt REALLY horrible. She had a nice shiner for a few days and it burst a blood vessel in her eye, which looked terrible, but she's fine. The swelling and bruising is gone around her eye, and the redness on her eye is fading fast.

Her school Science Fair was this past Saturday morning. Hannah did an experiment using common household spiders. Yup! We put four spiders in mason jars and punched holes in the lids to allow air in and fed them fly larvae and live bugs. Fun! She released them into the Great Outdoors after the experiment was over. Her display was really cool: we painted big red spiderwebs on a blue background and hot-glued fake spiders around the information posted.

Tonight is Wassail Fest in New Braunfels. Hannah, a member of her school choir, will be singing at WF this evening downtown. Monday night she sings at Canyon High School. In addition to all that, we've got final exams, WIM Christmas parties, church events and all the normal stuff of life going on before we drive home for Christmas on the 21st.

So! Life is good! We're busy, but not too busy, and making sure we keep things in priority while circumstances do their best to throw us off-balance and (remember?) steal our peace! I hope this Friday night to curl up on my sofa with Hannah and watch "La Vita Es Bella" and drink hot chocolate and RELAX.

Peace to you!


Friday, October 27, 2006

Hello all! I may or may not have told you this, but I am a writer, but that's not really what I'm going to talk about. I'm going to tell you about a form of writing that I practice called poetry.

Poetry is a mixture of words or phrases that make up a sort of story. They don't have to rhyme but a lot of poems do. I wrote one yesterday and I also wrote one on July 20th; way before I started blogging.

I'm going to type both poems; the July 20th one is first. Here they are:

A Poet's Sensation
I'm in the mood.
I can feel it.
Fighting past my insides.
Screaming to get out.
My stomach is flipping.
A sensation is coming.
My head is a whirl of thoughts and activity.
My sensation is here.
Something is born,
And I am the one to witmess it.
Poetry is like a child.
It must be created,
When it's ready.
-Hannah Cowart
Age:11 years
July 20th, 2006

And the next one is a poem that my teacher told us to write. In school yesterday we read a poem called WHATIF and our assignment was to write a poem similar to that. We were aloud to use some of the author's lines, but I took no such cheap short-cut. I wrote my own original poem and here it is:

The Worries
While I rode the bus today,
Some worries just dropped in to say,
"Hello how are you this fine June?
But what if it rains this afternoon?"
"I know you planned to go to the park,
And watch the fireflies fly and spark
And have a picnic there I see
But listen, listen, listen to me!"
"Worries, worries drop in and shout:
Don't you wish to keep us out?
Well you can't and why you ask?
To keep you worried is our task!"
"What if hail comes down and hits
So hard it smashes you to bits!
What if the pitbull comes and bites?
What if the movie gives you some frights?"
"Oh and wouldn't you be scared so bad?
If chicken-pox is what you had?
So itchy-itchy scratchy ow!
Look at the spots; wow, wow, wow!"
"That's all the time I have today
That's all that I have time to say.
So worry on my little friend.
I'm positive we'll meet again!"

Now if you were wondering about my picture and why my face (if you haven't already noticed) is painted I have the answer to your question. It's because today at school (since this week is Drug Free Week and Mon.= Jersey Day to team up on Drugs; Tues.= Twin Day, I don't know what it stood for; Wed.= Wacky Day; Thurs.= Inside Out Day) was School Spirit Day so I dressed up. The End. :)
Well now I must retire from my typing. It has been my pleasure to entertain you w/ my poetry. Farewell for now!
Hannah Cowart

Friday, October 20, 2006

Peace Thieves

Wednesday: Hannah has dance class between school and church. This Wednesday was my first class on Missions and Prayer (M.A.P.) and I was concerned about getting there early and setting up. I didn't bring lunch with me to work and had to push back eating until I got home with Hannah at 4:00 pm. I'd run to WalMart first to buy groceries and snacks for my class, and it was hot outside and I hit two log-jammed school zones, delaying my speed and increasing my frustration. By the time we got home, I was on shaky ground, warning Hannah that I had a short fuse and needed to eat immediately. I didn't have time to cook dinner, and got Hannah to dance 10 minutes late. More frustration.

However, dance went well, we ate at church, and my M.A.P. class went great! I had about 12 childrens, ages 8-12, who paid attention, asked lots of questions, and enjoyed our first session. I was jumping up and down as we left that night.

Thursday: Hannah was upset because she had lost her ID, which prevented her from going to the first Bible study session she and her friends have started. I had left the coffee pot on that morning, so I was greeted with the smell of burnt coffee when I came home for lunch.

Friday morning: I overslept, Hannah still couldn't find her ID, and I spilled a whole cup of coffee all over the floor and myself while getting ready for the day.

Looking back over these words, I imagine you, Reader, saying, "Rachael you need to learn to manage your time better!" and you'd be right. This is a flaw I realize I have and am steadfastly passing down to my daughter. We'll work on it, I promise.

But all of these things are Peace Thieves. Spilled milk, misplaced homework, traffic jams, the lady returning something in front of me at the checkout line without a receipt, I bet your blood pressure's rising even as you read this part! When we're tired, when we're hungry, when we're hot and sweaty and in a rush, the whole world seems out of whack. But, I told Hannah, I knew it was all me, not the world. And I was striving not to take out my irritation on Hannah, or anyone else.

This morning, we'd been ugly with one another as Hannah unsuccessfully searched for her ID, at the expense of having time to make her lunch. When we were driving, I said, "Do you remember when you lost your ring at the WIM International Conference two years ago?" She said, "Yes." "Remember how I told you about losing my own rings, and how Grandma prayed with me, and she found them? And so I prayed with you, and you found your ring that day?" She remembered.

"Instead of yelling at each other and losing our tempers, we should pray first. I think if God can find a little ring in a swimming pool, He knows where your ID is."

So, we prayed. And felt a LOT better.

My life is great! It's wonderful, I am blessed at every turn. This is reality. Did only bad things happen Wednesday through Friday? No, but that's what we remember!

I recall from scripture how Satan is called Beelzebub, "the Lord of the flies." Why? Because often, his attacks come in swarms, like gnats, or mosquitoes. And we're driven mad without being able to fend them off. So, when those irritating, whining gnats, those Peace Thieves come at me, I stop and pray. There's no better "insect repellant" than the Holy Spirit's "cloud" of peace that comes over me when I pray and glorify Him.

Receive your peace today, and don't let it be snatched away! List the good things, out loud, that happened today and thank God for them.

Love, Rachael

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hey folks,

Saturday, we went hiking at Enchanted Rock with Zach and Cheri Walters, and Lanier. I wanted Lanier to see it before he took off for two weeks back East. It rained, which was a little disheartening, but it let off and we enjoyed the day's activities. I am always amazed at the life teeming within the cracks and crevices of that gigantic monolith. Cheri got some amazing photos of plants and stuff with her Canon point-and-shoot camera. If you click on their name, you'll see a slideshow she made of the trip.

This week, I've got a class at church starting Wednesday night, running for 6 weeks. Hannah's Bible study begins Tuesday morning. Her next orthodontist appointment is Thursday. Saturday is the women's ministry coffee get-together at church, where I'll photograph the ladies hanging out and I'm supposed to bring food. And then there's a whole string of photography appointments I've set up with friends in the coming month--two couples with whom I'm friends are getting married. One hired me to do their group shots and reception, the other, I'm doing her bridal portrait.

Hannah turned in her PTO fundraiser this morning: they sold pies for $10-15. She raised $191. Not too shabby. If she'd remembered to take her order form to church Sunday morning, I know she would have cleared $300. But I have to admit, I was a little discouraging to her because, selfishly, I realized I have to deliver all those pies!

We've gotten three solid days of rain. Not hard, driving rain, but soft, soaking, ceaseless rain. It's great! But sleep-inducing. I'm waiting for the cold front to move in; it was 75 degrees at 7:00 this morning. Yuck.

Be blessed! Be a blessing.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hey everyone it's me again! There is a lot to talk about in my life so I hope you have time to listen.

As you know my braces were a complete success they were accepted at my new school, which I told you about, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, something is happening at school that I think is cool and here's what it is. I, and my friends Janelle Martin, and Sabrina Martinez, are planning a Bible study for my school. I was informed today that we have been approved by the principal and that our dates are in place. I planned it for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our flyer is good too. It clearly sates where to go, what to bring, and when it is. So things are going great on that subject. YAY!!!! :)

Well supposedly I get my bottom braces sometime this month. So pray for me again, b/c I don't like getting braces. They always feel weird and they hurt the first week or so.

Lanier Hall's 25th birthday was a while ago and it was a smashing success. Though the cakes didn't come out as planned, Janelle Balderson saved us by placing one on top of the other (one was thicker but smaller in length and width than the other). We sprayed silly string all over his car and when he blew out the candles, we sprayed him too! My friend Madison Green helped me, but her can went haywire and got all in his ear and it was WET!! GROSS!!!!!! :) But besides all of that, we really enjoyed it.

The weekend of Lanier's party my mom had to go to Tennesee to photograph a friend's wedding. (As you already know.) So that weekend Tamra Becker came to stay with me and Janelle Balderson (a.k.a. the cake saver) did too. That weekend was a LOT of fun. We went to the fair on Friday (there wasn't any school that day), had Lanier's birthday party, went shopping for Tami (Tamra) and more! I was very happy to take a break from my mom, but when she got home, I realized how much I had really missed her.

Well that's all on the subject of my life for now. I'll talk some more another day.

See ya!

Signed, Hannah Cowart

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Annie and Josh's Wedding
September 30, 2006
I went to east Tennesee this past weekend to photograph my friend Annalysa's wedding. Annie and I were in the VSU Art Dept. together back in 2000. She's from Roswell, GA. We'd kept in touch sporadically over the years and she called me back in the winter to say she was "getting mahhried!" I was ecstatic when she said she wanted me to photograph for her.

Josh is from Michigan, so they decided to pick a "neutral" place for the event. Annie's family owns farmland in east TN, Rogersville, to be exact. It's about 30 minutes away from Knoxville. We spent a lovely, lovely weekend, drinking in the rolling hills, white steepled churches dotting the countryside and exclaiming over the spectacular views. There is nothing like the east coast area of the U.S. I hope I retire there one day...

Annie looked like a true Southern belle straight out of "Gone With the Wind." But she defied the traditional paranoid bride's attitude of "don't mess up my dress!" as you can see below:

That dress never had a spot on it! And these photos were taken before the ceremony.

Another tradition blown to smithereens: here are Annie's lovely "flower ladies" artfully strewing petals down the runner.

Immediately after the ceremony, the wedding party broke out the bubbly.
Two of the Loveatt girls, toasting the bride and groom.
Annie's dad, David, worked his tail off for four months to restore this old T-bird so Josh and Annie could make their escape in style. Her brother Evan said the brakes didn't work so great, but they made their way out successfully.

All in all, I shot 1,405 pictures. Man! A record. It was a fun wedding, and in the immortal words of Steve Smith, "a good time was had by all."
I'm still recuperating from the trip, but it was worth every moment, and those who kept Hannah for me back in Texas have my heartful and eternal gratitude. Thanks to Annie and her family for hiring me and letting me be a part of an unforgettable celebration. Love, Rachael

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good morning.

I don't have any photos to post this time, sorry, but I will by next week! The biggest news right now is that I am emailing and blogging from my new MAC computer, recently purchased by WIM for the Media Department!! Woohoo! I'm not thrown by the different keys and mouse so far; right now I'm installing Final Cut and taking the opportunity to blog while it's loading.

Now I have the capability of loading video footage straight from my camera (WIM's camera) to the computer insead of waiting for someone else w/ the needed hardware to find time to do it for me.

I've had a lot of people (here in Texas) ask, "When's your next trip?" Well, I don't know. I don't have any more this year, except going home for Christmas. 2007 is a complete blank canvas for me. I don't know what it holds at all. My daily activities at WIM have increased to being secretary for our org's president, which is interesting work. Also, I've attempted to educate our members on the useful, free tool of blogging. So far I've had one convert. Hallelujah! I'm designing a brochure for our upcoming conference in Mexico (November) and as always, designing and sending out newsletters as they come in.

I saw an amazing thing the other night: Saturday, we had a massive front blow in. Hannah and I had to run to the store for a couple of ingredients for chocolate chip cookies and I was trying to get home before the sky burst open. The clouds were boiling masses of dark, bruised indigo, with the occasional smothered glow of heat lightening, steadily advancing toward our neighborhood. I was delighted. I greatly anticipated sitting with Hannah on the couch, curled up with freshly-baked cookies and a book, reading aloud to her until bedtime, and then sleeping safely in my bed, listening to the deluge outside.

Janelle stopped by to drop off some things and we stood in the driveway, watching the sky. It was amazing! It was almost so dark you couldn't define the clouds anymore, yet the lightening was so constant that it kept each form delineated. Mostly it was the wash of heat lightening, a general illumination, but then it began to get complicated, throwing out fingers of lightening, etching along from cloud to cloud in a slow, gestural sort of way. I was intrigued. It grew more and more intricate, like the gradual finale of Fourth of July fireworks, and the entire producation was soundless. Never a hint of thunder.

And it barely rained at all that night. We got up Sunday morning to find it totally overcast and windy, but still hot and humid. Again it threatened rain that evening, but this Monday morning, I arose to find it bright outside, hardly a cloud left, and a chilly 65 degrees.

So, we didn't get the rain, but we did get the cool. Hopefully it will stay. There was no way to photograph that lightshow without having gone out to a corn field, but I sure did enjoy watching it from my driveway.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wednesdays are always looong days. Why? Because Hannah has hip-hop class from 4:45-5:45, inbetween getting out of school at 3:40 and us getting to church by 7:00. And actually, the dance studio owner told me yesterday that the class time has been moved to 5:15-6:15. Hopefully that's good?

I'd gone home earlier to make dinner, so we had a good meal to suck down in 5 minutes before getting to church. The service was great, and afterwards I was looking for Hannah to get on home. She hadn't even touched her math homework yet and it was 9:00pm.

She ran up to me, saying, "Mom! The youth are going to my school to pray over it! Can I go?" Ryan and other area youth pastors have taken this month to focus on our city's young people. Every Wednesday night after church, they go to different Jr. and Sr. high schools to pray over the campuses.

Here it was, 9:00pm, no homework done, and Hannah wanted to go to her school. I told her no, but in the 10 minutes walking to our car, driving away and approaching our exit, I began to regret my decision. Hannah's tears notwithstanding.

Well, who am I to quench the Spirit? We drove to the school. Parking on the side of the road, we walked across the grass and joined the other shadowy figures near the flag pole. By the time we all joined hands and began to pray, I counted 58 people. A few more walked up, so I would guess about 65 max showed up, from at least 3 different churches.

Hannah was really grateful. She went to bed after 10 with a smile on her face. She was up early to do homework this morning. I kept stuffing her mouth with banana and peach while she worked problems like, "A contest winner must choose between Prize A: $2000 received every year for 15 years, or, Prize B: beginning at 3 cents the first year, the amount is tripled every year for 15 years. Which prize is best?"

Take Prize B. You'd wait a long time, but the payout is exponentially greater. And yes, the pun was intended.

It's a gorgeous, gorgeous south Texas day. It feels like the day before Christmas, there's such an anticipatory feel in my spirit. Why? I dunno. Mayhaps it has something to do with the prayer offered up last night?.....

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hey people! You are again hearing from the person who now has fabulous braces.

Anyway, so middle school is fine and everything is going in order, yadda, yadda, yadda. So I've entered the school's Science Fair for the first time b/c now, as a 6th grader, I'm qualified to enter. My project is going to have something to do with snakes, since they're my favorite animal. The only problem is that I don't know what to do it on, but the Fair is on December 2nd (not any time soon) so I've got plenty of time to think up something and do the project.

So I've gotten some shocked faces
on the subject of braces
which really isn't an issue.
The only one thing
And it's one tiny thing
Is that it's gotten hard to kiss you!
Dedicated to: My family
Well all of this stuff in my poem is true and it really has gotten uncomfortable to pucker my lips. But I'm sure that won't be a problem in a couple of days.

So now you know what my life is like and may I tell you that it's been a wonderful leap into pre-teen-hood. But sadly now I must bid you farewell my good readers and I hope that my life is of interest.

This is Hannah Cowart signing off!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Well, a lot's happened since our last blog, and Hannah hasn't even had a chance to write. Check back later today for her comments and MORE photos (I've been a busy photographer lately!).

These are a handful of shots I got of Grace before she took off for Georgia for a couple of weeks. I'm getting better and better at using my flash (I did think to bring my 550EX this time instead of using the pitiful pop-up flash on the camera).

The one above turned out better than I thought it would. At the time, I thought it was kind of boring, but her blue shirt really looks great. All photos were shot in Gruene (German for "green," and pronounced the same).

Hey, who's that shadowy figure reflected in the window????
This was my favorite shot.

Below, you see three pix taken during our Girls' Night! this past Saturday. Mayhaps we should have called it Girls and One Little Boy Night, because Maximus was there, too. Janelle said we should do Glamour Shots, so we did! I found the coolest fabric ever at Hobby Lobby to use as a backdrop.
Yours truly, a la Elton John, and Hannah and Maddie are posing below.
Maximus loving on his mama. I think Gap or American Eagle should hire me (kidding, just kidding). 'Til next time!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Here are more pictures I shot on Labor Day. It was pretty overcast and I worried it would rain, but never fear--Texas heat kept it at bay (until today, Tuesday). Everything was shot at 400ISO (as were Zach and Cheri's pix).
Krissy, I burned in the corners, vignetting a la J.C. Gotta love those OC photographers! And I used unsharp mask in PS to make the eyes zing.

Lanier took this one of me.
This photo above and the one below used fill-flash. I think they were either -2 or -1.5

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sunday afternoon, my friends Zach and Cheri Walters wanted to hang out. The only thing I really wanted to do was practice taking pictures, and they happily volunteered to be shot!
So, you see our progression of work, taken in downtown New Braunfels. Above, on the sidewalk in the town circle (or square, but it really is a circle).
There are several huge murals painted on the sides of building, all illustrating New Braunfels' German heritage. Since Cheri spent 2 years in Germany as a missionary, I thought it a very fitting environment.

I really liked the concrete ground. Is that weird?
We discovered an alleyway filled with antique shops and restaurants. This was the coolest mural, and I couldn't resist shooting Zach with the Sausage Man. Kinda creepy, huh? Zach totally got into character.

Cheri has the most amazing cheekbone structure in the world. She says her whole family (on her mom's side) is that way. Canadians, eh?

Here I practiced using my flash in bright sunlight to make the subject's eyes "pop," or rather, get rid of the dark shadows caused by the brows. It worked!! I didn't have my external flash, just the camera's normal pop-up flash. But I reduced the flash's power by -2 stops. And I thought Zach's skinny legs in the background were amusing.
The landscaping around this place was incredible!
Zach's a total faker. Such a poser.
Hannah camped out in a cozy spot while we worked.

Love the red door! And the comedian being photographed.
A pirate's life for me.
By then we were dying from the heat. So, off to Starbucks! These are random shots taken by Hannah, or, if I'm in the image, taken by Zach. Do try the Banana Coconut Frappaccino. It's delicious.

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