Monday, February 28, 2011

Goal #90 COMPLETE: My Look-Book

I had all kinds of cool goals scheduled for February - learn to ski, go rock climbing... but then life got in the way and I found myself without the time, money or physical ability (I was sick with bronchitis for over a week) to complete those goals. Which made me a little frustrated, because I'm a planner and in order to keep on track with Project 101 in 1001, I've got to check off three goals each month. Afraid of falling behind, I scrambled through my List to find a few goals that I could accomplish with little strain on my wallet, schedule, or health.

I stopped drinking coffee for one and then, I got busy finding photography inspiration for a "look-book."

Goal #90 COMPLETE: Create a “look-book” of photography ideas/inspiration

My graphic design professor in college always said, "You can't design in a vacuum." In other words, if you aren't filling your brain with great creative work, you won't have anything to draw inspiration from when you go to design something yourself. This is why fine artists take art history classes and why writers read lots and lots of books. The same rule applies to photography.

As I strive to be a better photographer, I need to learn from those who are already great. I need to see what they're doing - how they're posing their models and what setting/lighting/composition works for them. As I fill my mind with those images, 1) I will have ideas to draw from when I'm on a shoot and 2) I'll start to become a better, more confident photographer (and of more use to my photographer husband.)

This whole idea sort of reminds me of the verse, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45.) What you put in, comes out. 

So here is my look-book, built with handy see-through sleeve pages which will allow me to keep adding inspiration when I find it:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Goal #64 COMPLETE: Africans and Acne

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.

Goal #64 COMPLETE: Give up buying coffee for four weeks and give the money I save to Mocha Club

© Devin Hanson Photography 2008
I love coffee. You might even say I depend on it both physically, mentally and socially. While I have more recently cut back on my purchasing of hoity-toity-Starbucks-and-the-like-lattes, a daily intake of coffee (whether purchased from a shop or made at home) was a must in my morning routine. 

So when I wrote this goal, I was very careful to word it "give up buying coffee." In other words, my plan was to avoid the extra-curricular purchasing of coffee at, say Starbucks, but I could still drink coffee that I already had at home. Cunning such as this was necessary because, honestly - what coffee drinker wants to give up their source of conciseness for one whole month??

Well - my health, vanity and love for Africans (a twisted combination of factors, I know) lead me to not only give up buying coffee, but to (at least temporarily) give up drinking coffee all together.

I'll give you coffee drinkers a moment to collect yourselves. 
Everyone okay? Alright then, let's move on. Here are the reasons behind this craziness:

Health: As much as I love coffee, I know that my daily dependence on the stuff isn't great for my body. Add to that the fact that I do not have a very healthy diet and I knew I needed to cut back. (Tip: If you cut back on coffee, drinking a large glass of water really helps keep away the caffeine headaches.)

Vanity: I have horrible adult acne. Which I'm rather self-conscience about. Frustrated with the cost of so many tried-and-failed chemical remedies and dermatologist co-pays, I decided to turn to natural remedies just to see what happened. I began using the oil cleansing method a few months ago and have seen some great improvements in my skin. While I really like this method and would highly recommend it, some of my acne still persisted. So, I thought "What the hey - I've heard coffee/caffeine can cause acne in some people so why not test the theory?" Not drinking offee really does seem to be working, but after years of dealing with adult acne, I'm hesitant to make a final declaration just yet. 

Love for Africans: The original point of this goal still remains. By giving up the purchasing of coffee for a month, I was able to save somewhere around $14.00. Through Mocha Club that $14.00 will provide fourteen Africans with clean water for one year! That is just incredible. The reality that so many people in this world are dying because they don't have clean water to drink is unbelievable when you look at the numbers: $1 = 1 year of clean water for 1 person. WOW. That is next-to-nothing (monetarily) but is HUGE in the sense that you can literally save someone's life for a year with one dollar. 

What about you? Could anything compel you to stop drinking coffee?

P.S. I don't drink soda either (I've never liked it), so I'm all caffeine-free right now. Four weeks and I'm still alive, so it is possible.

Monday, February 21, 2011

PRAISE Report and Uganda Update

"What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has the eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like." - Saint Augustine

Wow. God is AWESOME! And the way He has used sooooo many of you to bless us as we raise funds for our Uganda trip has just been amazing. Thank you!

Through generous (seriously - wow) gifts from friends/family/church members, one huge garage sale, working lots of odd jobs and selling lots of beaded crosses, Devin and I have raised the funds needed to cover our travel costs to Uganda. Can I get a "Whoop, whoop God!"

All that's left now is gathering supplies for the orphanages and the other ministries that we'll be working with. Devin and I will be stuffing three-of-our-four suitcases full (up to 50lbs) of items for the sweet kiddos in Uganda. If you live near us and that is something you would be interested in helping with, here are some of the items that have been requested by the orphanage directors:
  • Pull-ups (4 year-olds)
  • Underwear (5-9 year-olds)
  • Deodorant (for the teens at the orphanages)
  • Shoes/Sandals (5-16 year-olds)
  • Soccer balls, footballs (with a small pump if possible – they will be deflated before being packed) 
  • Frisbees
  • Markers and Crayons

How to get us supplies: 
  • If you know us and live close - feel free to contact me and we'll work out a way to get the supplies from you. 
  • If you go to church with us - we'll be collecting supplies February 27th and March 6th at Family Bible Church. 
  • If you live in Tucson, you can give donations to my mom or dad this week and next (I'll be seeing them March 5th)
  • If you'd still like to make a monetary donation - that money will go towards purchasing supplies or toward beds and school fees for the orphans. (If you want more information, just email or facebook message me)

Thank you so much to everyone who has already helped us get this far - you all are incredible. Thank you for your open, giving hearts - what a blessing you have been to us and to the orphans in Uganda!

Lastly: a sweet, be-still-my-heart story to leave you with: 
Yesterday, my youngest sister Julia (8) overheard my parents talking about our Uganda trip and how we are trying to purchase some mattresses for the orphans. Julia immediately went back to her room, came to my parents and handed them a dollar bill saying, “This is for the orphan’s beds.” I love that girl’s heart!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Uganda Update: Amazima Ministries

Days 8-9:
Ministry Spotlight: Amazima Ministries

This ministry is extra-special-close to my heart and it seems unreal that I will actually get to meet and serve with the incredible woman who started it.

Amazima means "Truth" in the local Luganda language and this ministry cares for over 400 of Uganda's orphaned children. The ministry also has a feeding program that provides meals to over 1,200 children - children living in the slums who would otherwise have to scrounge and beg for their food. The beaded crosses that I make (see the button on the left side of my blog?) help this same feeding program. One meal for a child in Africa costs only 15 cents and one "We're All in This Together" cross provides 42 meals. I am thrilled to get to meet some of the children for whom I've made these crosses. What an incredible moment that will be!

(from Katie's blog)
Amazima was how I first heard about Visiting Orphans (the group we are traveling with). I stumbled upon founder Katie Davis' blog and was instantly captivated by this young woman's unbelievable story. After spending a summer teaching at Canaan's Children's Home, Katie knew she would not be returning to her home in Tennessee. She had fallen in love with the Ugandan people and knew God was calling her to minister to them permanently. She established Amazima Ministries in 2008. The most unbelievable part (to me at least) is that since her move to Uganda, she has become the mother (legal guardian) to 14 orphaned girls, three of which she will soon to be able to legally adopt. But it gets more incredible then that: Katie Davis is just twenty-one-years old and single.

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12 

Um - YEAH. That verse has "Katie Davis" written all over it, or rather, Katie Davis has that verse written all over her. And we get to work with her. This incredible young women who has allowed God to so fully and completely use her for His glory - we get to stand beside her and serve the people of Uganda. Humbling.

We will spend two days working with Katie and Amazima's feeding program. I. CAN. NOT. WAIT! 

To learn more about Amazima Ministries click here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Goal #44: Dates with Devin (12 of 20)

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 

Goal #44: Go on 20 of the dates listed in the books Dates on a Dime and Coffee Dates for Couples 

For date night a couple weeks ago, Devin and I spent an evening at SoZo Coffee, our new favorite coffee shop in Chandler. While enjoying some excellent live music and delicious coffee drinks, we answered some of the coffee-themed questions from the book Coffee Dates for Couples. Some of the questions would make you blush, so I won't repeat them here, but we sure had fun whispering our answers back and forth. ;-)

The owner of the shop, Scott (above), is an awesome, relationship-oriented guy who loves to sit and chat with his costumers. We always love talking with Scott when we come in. 

The coolest thing about SoZo (besides the great coffee, amazing biscotti, great live-music nights and awesome atmosphere) is that they will give all their profits to charity (once they start turning a profit - they just opened). "Coffee with a Cause" they call it. Another reason we love SoZo.

(Camera phone quality, sorry)
The best part about the night was when Devin was asked to accompany the guest musician on the djembe drum. Then Scott joined in on a second guitar for an impromptu jam-session. They played GREAT together - it was so much fun to watch. 

I love dates like this - dates that are just plain awesome for reasons you couldn't have planned.   

(If you live near Chandler, SoZo Coffee has live music every Friday in February from 7pm-10pm. Check them out - if its Friday, Devin and I will probably be there to say "hi")

Friday, February 11, 2011

Uganda Update: Pillar of Hope

(more about our Uganda trip and who we'll be serving with while there)

Uganda Day 7:
Ministry Spotlight: Pillar of Hope 

I don't have a whole lot of specifics on this particular ministry, but I do know that they work with the street kids in Uganda. And the more research I do on these types of kids, the more I realize that this might just be our hardest day in Uganda.

The orphan crisis, as you probably know, is huge in Uganda. For most of these children, living in a foster or orphan home would be a dream come true. Unfortunately, over-crowding and lack of funds in the orphanages, coupled with a poor cultural understanding of sex and contraceptives, along with a large amount of the population dying of AIDS has left far too many orphans with far too few adults to care for them.

A number of these street children, including some that we will be working with during out day with Pillar of Hope, have taken to sniffing shoe polish in order to get high. The practice of "huffing" is incredibly dangerous and can lead to severe brain damage. The reason may of these children huff is because it causes the senses to be numbed - such as the sensation of extreme hunger and malnourishment. It is a coping mechanism that these children depend on to stop the pain in their swollen bellies. In the process, they are killing themselves. "Tragic" doesn't even come close.

Amidst all of this horror is the ministry, Pillar of Hope. They love these kids like Jesus would, they teach them about Abba Father God, they do what they can for them physically - giving them food, clothing, schooling and medical help when available. (You can send one of these kids to school for just $35. If you're interested I can give you more information - just leave me a comment. Be sure to include a way for me to contact you.)

I wish I had more information to offer you - but I have only just the basics. This day will be a little unknown until we get there, and even afterward I imagine it will be difficult to explain what we'll have seen. Please say an extra prayer for us on this day (March 17th) and pray for Pillars of Hope that God will bless their ministry as they love these cast-aside children.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Uganda Update: Canaan Children’s Home

We are going to Uganda in FIVE WEEKS people! So to celebrate, today I thought I'd give you a look inside one of the main ministries we'll be working with while in Uganda: 

Days 4-10:
Ministry Spotlight: Cannan Children's Home

As mentioned in my last Uganda post, we will be living at Canaan Children’s Home for the majority of our stay in Uganda. I have to confess, it's fun to get people's reaction when I excitedly announce, "I get to living in an African orphanage for a week!" 

In reality, we'll be staying in Canaan's on-property guesthouse. Complete with two rooms full of bunk beds, mosquito nets and probably hot water for at least one of the single bathrooms. Glorious compared the standard living conditions in Uganda. We are so grateful for Pastor Isaac's generosity in making this possible (more on him in a minute).

I truly feel so blessed to be staying at Canaan Children’s Home (which was only possible because of our small group - otherwise, we'd be in a hotel). To wake up and immediately get to spend time with the children all day fills me with such joy. It will probably fill me with exhaustion too... but so what? I get to love on these kids anytime I'm not sleeping and it's going to be amazing. 

We'll be running a VBS-style program for the kids at Cannan and working with their "Papa" - Pastor Isaac Wagaba. This man has an incredible story and I am humbled to have the chance to serve in his ministry. 

About Pastor Isaac:

During the terrorist dictatorship of Idi Amin (1971-1979), Pastor Isaac was among a remnant of persecuted pastors in Uganda. As a result Amin's orders, many churches were being burned and Christian pastors were told to stop preaching the name of Jesus and to convert to Islam. Because Pastor Isaac refused, he was put on Amin's Death List and was eventually captured. He and five other pastors were held for three day in one of Amin's prison camps. Their small cell was covered with human blood. When told to convert to Islam or die, four of the pastors gave in. Pastor Isaac and the remaining pastor refused and were taken outside to be shot by a firing squad. Afterward, their bodies were tossed into a truck and dumped into a mass grave.

However, the shot aimed to take his life miraculously only wounded Pastor Isaac's right hand. While laying in a pit filled with hundreds of Amin's victims, Pastor Isaac heard God say to him, "Isaac, I have saved your life so that you may save the lives of my fatherless children."

"In that state, I got a vision in which a lot of children were coming to me and these children were hungry and malnourished. In fact they were like naked, moving skeletons and the voice went on to say, 'Isaac, I will be the father of those children through you.' Immediately I felt strength in my life and stood up but failed; so I crawled on my knees from the dead bodies. " 
- Pastor Isaac Wagaba

Though in terrible condition due to blood loss and three days in captivity, Pastor Isaac climbed from the grave and found help. 

A number of years later, two orphans were left at his church and he remembered again the vision God had given him. He began taking steps to create a home for orphans and by 1998 he and his wife were caring for 24 orphaned Ugandan children. Canaan Children's Home has been growing ever since. Currently, there are around 150 children being cared for by Canaan.

Are you breathless yet? Speechless at least? Because that's how I felt when I first read the history behind Canaan Children's Home. Wow. Just wow. 

To read more about Canaan Children's Home click here.  

Fundraising Update: We have just about 75% of our support raised! Praise the Lord and a big "thank you" to all who have supported us! You all are incredible and have blown us away with your generosity. 

(If you would be interested in supporting our trip - visit and click the "Donate" link in the upper right corner. Choose our trip from the drop down menu (Uganda- March 12-22) and designated the funds to Jennifer Hanson. Then may Gob bless your sweet little heart and the precious hearts of the people we'll be ministering to because of your support! Thank you.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Goal #45 Complete: Love & Respect

Goal #45 COMPLETE -  Watch the marriage series Love and Respect with Devin or with a small group 

Devin and I had the opportunity to watch this series with our young married's class at church and it was unbelievably good! We are actually borrowing the DVDs to watched it again at home because there was just so much good information to absorb and apply, I felt I needed another go at it. (Yes, I - I needed a little extra help with the concept of respect, it's true.)

The series looks at the principle that a woman's deepest need is unconditional love and man's deepest need is unconditional respect. And wouldn't you know it - that's just want the Bible pointed out 2000+ years ago in the book of Ephesians, chapter 5: "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord" (verse 22) and "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (verse 25). God knew that we wouldn't "get it"and that we needed a command in scripture to help us fulfill the deepest needs of our spouse. 

This love and respect teaching (especially the respect part) is so against current culture, but Dr. Eggerich shows how science, scripture and our human nature back up this principle again and again. This series is truly amazing and I wish every couple could (would) go through it - I am convinced that our marriages would be stronger and the divorce rate would go down if people applied this teaching. Now that I've learned a little about the things that trigger problems in marriages, and the simple principles for fixing/avoiding them, I am heartbroken when I witness those harmful traits in marriages.

I say "simple principles" because it is still a difficult teaching. The principles in Love and Respect take patience, selflessness, awareness, hard work and a whole lot of laying your life down for another. There are still so many parts that I make me say, "Huh? How??" 

Honestly, I'm a chick and I don't get the unconditional respect thing - I absolutely understand why it's so important to a man, I just don't get how to do it very well. As Dr. Eggerich says, "We live in a love-dominated, post-feminism culture. Unconditional respect is a foreign concept to most of us." (paraphrase)

But I'm learning, little by little. In the process I'm realizing that there are times when I can't do this on my own - times when I can not respect my husband in the way he longs to be respected - without depending on God for help. God made Devin with the desire for respect, He made me with the desire for love, so it is only natural that sometimes I just won't get it. Fortunately, God "gets" us both and can help us as we learn to treat each other in a way that honors God and His design of men and women.

"Women need love. Men need respect. It's as simple and as complicated as that."  
- Dr. Emerson Eggerich

If you're unable to see the DVD seminar, these teaching can also be found in Dr. Eggerich's book by the same title.