How to search for BEAUTY in a Corrupt World

Sometimes in the reality of all that is going on in our lives and the world today, you just have to sit back..and take it all in. I do that whenever I feel like I have lost touch of how beautiful this world actually is, minus the corruption, violence and sadness that has invaded our daily lives. God’s creation is so simply amazing. I personally enjoy jumping into my car, turning on some great music and driving roads I drive all the time. I am a photographer so I take my camera and look for things I see everyday and look past the ordinary and search for the extraordinary  Then capture the image on my camera.  The pictures I am sharing, I took on a short drive all within a 10 mile radius of my home.


I have 4 Tips to help you search for beauty in this corrupt world ~

Some Ol Backroad

J.L. Winsted Photography


Search for the old and ordinary, get up close and personal. Then look at it from many angles. 



J.L. Winsted Photography


Scan your surroundings looking for anything that can reflect the natural beauty of the scenery. 



J.L. Winsted Photography


Instead of focusing on an object, look through that object at something else. Then focus on the beauty that lies beyond.



J.L. Winsted Photography


Finally, just when you thought you captured all of the beauty it has to offer…stand up and take another glance..often we miss the most beautiful things when they are right in front of us.



How do you frame your New Year Resolution’s or Goal’s?

Are you ready for the beginning of new year? Is your mind spinning on resolutions and goals? Are you constantly reviewing what you would have changed in the last year? On the dawn of a new day of a New Year we seem to be caught up in contemplating how and when we will make significant changes in our lives. I am not one for making a so called “resolution” but I am all about setting personal goals, short term and long term.

I love the first devotional in my Jesus Calling book by Sarah Young.

“COME TO ME with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to old ways as you step into the new year. Instead, seek my face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on me be aware that I am fully attentive to you. I see you with a steady eye, because my attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely; my thoughts embrace you in everlasting love. I also know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plants to give you hope and a future. Give yourself fully to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My presence.” ~Jesus Calling by: Sarah Young


Pondering on the topic of coming to him with a teachable spirit, I think of the things I would like to learn this year. How to be a better mother, a mother my kids will look up to and be inspired by. How to be a good spiritual leader to my family and friends. These are just a few that stood out to me. As I read on, it states to not cling on to old ways, I then thought of some things I would like to change about myself. A few that came to mind would be to let go of any bitterness, to make myself more open and available to friends and family instead of consuming myself with tasks and obligations I feel are important but really don’t have a lot of significance. Lastly, to work on my patience with the lord and what he has in store for me, as I know he has a special plan just for me using my talents. Overall, I love that the Lord is telling me to start new, refresh my spirit and leave the old way and come into a new way and to follow what his word guides me to do.

The bible passages below speak so strongly to me for all of you out there who are trying to take an inventory of your goals. Please read, study, and remember them…write them down on a note card and post it on your mirror in your bathroom or coffee pot. These are great reminders of what is really important, and what to fix your heart and eyes on.


Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.


The Day After Christmas ~ A little less anticipated then the night before Christmas

Awaking to a silent home the morning after Christmas is almost like receiving a late gift, at least until you step foot out of your bedroom. The lasting aroma of the Christmas Turkey is still lingering as I stagger my way into the kitchen avoiding what seems to be hundreds of little pieces of wrapping paper, tags, plastic wires and tape trying to stick to the bottom of my socks. A quick glance around my kitchen only motivates me to go crawl back into bed as the tower of dirty dishes awaits me. Caffeine is the only answer to my immediate need to give up before I even begin. Filling my cup just about as high as it will go without overflowing, I take a tongue burning sip before heading into my living room. Large black plastic bags full of packaging line my path while I balance on them as if they were my crutch to the couch as I try to avoid stepping on the brand new set of lego’s spilled on the carpet. Plopping my tired, motiveless body onto the couch I cant help but continue to stare at the aftermath of yesterdays joyous holiday. Over in one corner I see the 6 pairs of little socks we purchased for my daughter, all separated from each other with her new pink and purple legos hiding inside each one… moving along the wall a bit further I find my son’s new nerf gun laying on the floor emptied of all 25 foam darts…the darts are nowhere to be seen. Brand new crayons decorate my linoleum floor under my dinner table along with two new toothbrushes. Continuing to sip my coffee all I can think of is getting through this day without loosing my cool.

We always anticipate the day or night before Christmas as being so wonderful and exciting. We fill our kids with anticipation for Christmas morning and if they are lucky we warm them up with a gift or two that night before the big man comes. Sure, If I was a little more on top of everything yesterday I could have avoided this whole disaster..I mean between watching the kids open gifts and bagging up loads of debris, baking desserts, cooking a huge meal that includes an 18 pound bird that needs attention every 30 minutes for 6 hours, serving it then packaging up all the leftovers, making room in the fridge and assembling/programming/un-twining toys for my kids… I could have easily cleaned up more.

Christmas is my favorite holiday and time of year…I just wish the day after Christmas brought a little more joy then it usually does. I want a book that is titled…. Twas the day after Christmas…in the house I wish. Not a piece of trash was showing not even a dish. In fact, be watching…I may write a whole book about the day after Christmas and dedicate it to all you mom’s out there that woke up to exactly what I explained above. Until then…I am off to dig out the new Lincoln logs lodged underneath my couch before my dog mistakes them as his stick.

~Merry Christmas~
Christmas '12

Great Holiday Product~Picture Collage Maker Pro BIG DISCOUNT!

I am excited to do a review of a product perfect for all your Christmas Portrait needs!

Perfect for the holidays!

Perfect for the holidays!

I downloaded this version of Picture Collage Maker Pro within a few minutes. It immediately was ready to go and prompted me to choose the pictures I would like to use to create my masterpiece. I chose a few of our most recent family pictures which then took me to an area I could choose the category and type of template I wanted. I chose the Holiday Category of course and picked a New Years Calendar template to arrange my photo’s on. I really was impressed with how fast this whole process was. I could shuffle or re size the pictures to my exactly liking. I then saved it to my computer. I am able to email, share or print my creation.

Some great features that make this product so useful are:

~ Easy drag and drop functions

~ Ability to re size or rotate the images

~ 24 Christmas templates and over 130 all purpose templates

~ Clip art and text options to customize however you wish!

I would Highly Recommend you purchase this product while it is on sale at 30% OFF then you get the image re sizer program free…Saving you a total of 60% OFF!

Follow the link below to PearlMountain Website to check it out!

Picture Collage Maker Pro


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

My love for Self Checkout’s is destroying me…but it feels so good!

I am not exactly sure your feelings on grocery shopping, but overall I despise it. The only time I can remember enjoying it in the slightest bit was when I was carrying each of my three children and was hungry twenty-four hours a day. Depending on the particular store you choose to shop you have the option to check yourself out or bag your own groceries. If there is one task I have to name as enjoyable about the whole adventure it would be to scan and bag my own groceries. Especially if I am buying a large amount of food to stock our pantry. I am one of those people who love self checkouts, even though when I do them it drives my husband completely nuts. When he begins to argue my request to do them, I simply use the excuse its quicker then standing in that line and waiting….I can totally do this by myself no problem, with time to spare at the end. Secretly, I know half the items we are purchasing either wont even scan or I picked up the one piece of fruit without a bar code on it.

Nevertheless, I approach the small checkout kiosk breathing nothing but confidence, carrying myself like I invented the register and looking at my husband as if  I am a veteran cashier. As I begin checking out the process is going smoothly, I am scanning with one hand, bagging with the other. I was multi-tasking like a programmed robot, no one could touch me. I look towards my husband with a smirk and thought *yah…you wish you were me* when suddenly my item wouldn’t scan.  The soothing beat of the beep had stopped. I looked down and noticed the bar-code was so tiny there was no way that red laser could read it. I calmly began entering the code manually, only for it to be wrong. My second attempt in entering it resulted in an error causing the glowing light pole above the register to turn from a calming green to a panic red shade, notifying the associate on duty that I have no idea what I am doing. After they correct it I proceed to ignore my husbands annoying sighs and eye rolls. Continuing on I notice the bagging area filling up rapidly. Sweat beads begin to collect on my forehead as thoughts race across my mind. ” I cant take any bags off or the scale will think I am stealing, maybe if I stack the sacks one on top of the other it wont set off any suspicious signals to the associate I am peering out of the corner of my eye at.  She was sensing something I could feel it, eyeing her computer screen watching my every purchase just waiting for me to fail. OH NO I have a gallon of milk and a case of water still, there is no way they will fit on the scale. I guess it wont hurt to press the “skip bagging” button once…ok, maybe twice I have the milk to ….WRONG!” Now I have done it, the words “Associate Needed” comes across the screen..seriously again? What did I do to deserve this embarrassment  looking over at my husband again he is mumbling ” I told you so” over and over again, as if my anxiety level wasn’t already rising at a staggering rate. The associate was over in seconds, she confidently steps in front of me with her arm firmly out as if it was armor protecting me from an attack. Swiping her sweet card bungied to her neck so lightning fast I would have thought it was going to spontaneously combust. Seconds later her arm came down, she stepped aside, and all was safe and calm in self checkout land once more. At least until I attempt this task again in the future, and I can venture to guess I definitely will!

See, although my husband thinks I am an absolute nut job for even wanting to check myself out when I can just stand there and have someone do it for me..for nothing. I however have a completely different outlook on it all. As soon as I step foot in front of that scanner I transform into a master cashier with somewhat of a swag to my stance, I organize, scan and bag my items to my exact liking. You cant get that for free! Now there is another version of self bagging gone horribly wrong. All I have to say is Winco. If you know what I am talking about you will follow this scenario knowing exactly what I mean. Paint this picture.

Full cart of groceries, 3 kids (fighting about what snack they get to eat in the car when they should all know that the first place we go after spending $200 on groceries is Taco Bell…I mean come on) and it is time to checkout. I begin to lay items on the belt as if they were hot potatoes, cans being juggled out of the cart Vegas style..ok ill get real… Gangnam style, all while my two year old is robbing the candy shelf within her reach and loading the belt as well. As I see the groceries stacking up on the end of the belt I begin to panic.  I have to load, bag, and babysit the entire time. Two more families pull their carts in behind me awaiting their turn at the challenge. I NASCAR it to the other end of the belt once the cart is empty and begin bagging. Even though I am in a hurry I am trying to get cans with cans, box’s placed tightly in the bags, and keeping all cold items together…pretty soon that plan gets thrown out of the window as I am falling behind and the checker keeps looking at me as if I were standing still. Hurling all kinds of items in the bags, no rhyme no reason, cheese, meat, bagels, chili…whatever gets the job done so I can clear my belt so the family behind me will stop looking at my kids and I as if we were a new species.

Contemplating both scenarios in my head I cant help but smile and laugh at the fact I will repeat this process and crazy need to become a cashier/professional bagger every time I go get groceries. How do you handle these situations?

I am a Wife, Mother, Believer in Christ & Proudly Armed! ~ My personal opinion on media coverage in the shadow of recent tragedy

Dear Society:

There are several intricate details about my inner self that make me who I am. Many are common in society and are accepted with open arms yet many are frowned upon and labeled crazy, ridiculous and lets not forget many see me as closed minded. In the shadow of a nations tragedy I feel this immense tug at my heart and soul to explain what is going on in my mind. Sure I may upset many…but I may inspire a few women out there to not be afraid to voice what they believe, even if it is not popular among society.

Last week was full of unbelievable grief for all of society as a whole no matter what your belief’s are. I will start with the Clackamas Town Center shooting. I am just a tick south of Portland and frequent that mall once to twice a year. I was just getting comfortable on that cold rainy afternoon with my 2 year old, only to come across a facebook link to a breaking news story.  I quickly click on it seeing the words shooting and Portland mall leap off my screen and stop my heart, and terminate my breathe. Reading on I quickly turned on my news channel and began following the tragedy. So many thoughts were running through my mind, in terror I began to question who is the shooter, why would he do this, how many people are hurt or God forbid dead, is he caught yet, WHY? I frantically call my husband at work over and over until he answers trying to relay what is going on to him while trying not to freak my 7 year old son out. I mean how much can he understand with out being scared to death to go to the mall again..Before I could even get my grief out or my mind wrapped around this whole incident I am hearing many media outlets already blaming the gun for the crime. Are you kidding me?? We do not even know the details about who this person or people are and you are taking away from those details to bring up  unprecedented gun control topics? I was blown away. I do not really care if you are for or against gun control at that very second in time, lets just take a minute to grieve those who are involved in this horrific tragedy.

Our most recent heartfelt tragedy in what felt like seconds after would be the Connecticut school shootings. I cannot even fathom what these families are dealing with. Every time I hear a detail, see a picture, or look at my own children I tear up, shake my head and contemplate the reality of it all. It is like waking up in a bad dream, if only it was. I was preparing sugar cookie dough that morning for my kids to bake and decorate the next day when the news broke out. Our school district is on a 4 day week so I had my 7 year old son home with me and my 2 year old while my 12 year old daughter was at basketball practice. I was in such a panic to hear the details I had to have looked like a white faced, teary eyed troll to my two kids at home when I turned the volume up on the television and demanded silence. Looking back now, I bet I terrified my 7 year old son more then I even originally thought. He sat there and watched with me displaying a look of concern and confusion. He kept asking ” Mom did they get him, is he still in there?” ,  “Are they getting the kids out?” , “Why aren’t their parents going in to find them?”  all perfectly good questions for a 7 year old, 1st grader who is concerned for all the kids involved. All questions I couldn’t even answer in the heat of the moment, all I could do is hold his hand and my two year old in fear of what we were about to learn. Glancing at the clock I see that my oldest daughter should be home anytime, and as I begin to look out the window for her arrival I hear a news reporter start recklessly vomiting her opinions on gun control. My blood pressure immediately raised to an obscene level. Is this really happening, the second time this week a tragedy hits and the media has to warp all of its viewers into thinking this is the governments fault for not taking away our second amendment? If I see another report or story stating the words ” The price of the second amendment”  my heart may literally blow up from increased blood flow! I contain so much emotion for these victims and families of all involved every second of the days that follow the incident. I pray for them, the first responders, the government and the school districts nation wide. I know God is with their families and wrapping his loving arms around the children and teachers who lost their life’s. My faith is what keeps me sane, I cannot imagine how I would handle this otherwise. Now, I must try and figure out how to handle this tragedy in my own home with my 7 year old who is not only full of confusion but Gods love.

Our media will never stop relaying their hidden agendas on us, but will you put your foot down and make it known what you believe is true in your heart even if it is not popular or may hurt someone feelings. All I know is that I listen to their opinions so now its time they listen to mine. The second amendment has nothing to do with these tragedies..bottom line! I am a Wife, Mother, Believer in Christ & Proudly Armed!

sandy hook