Of Dust and Ash Heaps

Girl holding Psalm 113

Psalm 113: 7-8

He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.

Recently, I have been reading a great book, Hope Rising by Scott C. Todd. The subtitle is, “How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in this Generation.” Imagine seeing the end to extreme poverty. While we think it would be an incredible miracle, and no doubt it would, my God is in the miracle business.

As a new school year begins for many children, and parents everywhere celebrate, I find myself thinking about the part education plays in poverty. There are many reasons poverty exist, and one of the biggest contributors to global poverty is lack of access to education. Lack of education and illiteracy keep people, mostly women and girls, from gaining the skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Our fast paced world demands educated and literate people to keep up with advanced technologies which move us forward. Those without proper education are left languishing in poverty.

Here are some facts from Compassion International about the lack of education in developing countries.

  • Worldwide, nearly 80 percent of primary-school-age children attend school. In least developed countries, this figure is around 66 percent.
  • The largest out-of-school population is in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 45.5 million children of primary school age are out of school.
  • Of the 67 million primary-school-age children who do not attend school, 53 percent are girls.
  • Worldwide, only 49 percent of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school.
  • Of the 49 percent of secondary age students who do not attend school, 52 percent are girls.
  • The world’s functional illiterates include more than 130 million children who do not attend school, 73 million of them girls.

In Hope Rising, Scott Todd writes, “Over the past three decades, the extent of global poverty has declined rapidly. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty in 2013 is less than half of what it was in 1990.” It is possible to end extreme poverty, but it will take you and me doing our part. Psalm 113:7 says, God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. God has done his part. Now comes ours. As Matthew West sings, He created you and me to do something.

So, what is it? What does He want you to do? I don’t know. For me, one thing was sponsoring a child. Maybe it is for you too.

Compassion offers children in poverty the chance to change the facts about education one child at a time. When you sponsor a child with Compassion, your sponsorship provides school fees, uniforms, books and supplies – all things that prevent children from attending school. Your money also provides basic necessities for the family so the child does not have to work.

The education facts tell a discouraging story, but Compassion is working to change this. Through its sponsorship program, children attend school and get an education. This allows them the hope of escaping their circumstances and ending the cycle of poverty in their lives.

Your sponsorship helps to raise the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.

To find out more go to Compassion.com or ask me about my sponsorship experience.

If you are in Northern California join me for Change the Story — a brand-new and immersive experience from Compassion. The sights and sounds of life in a poor, developing-world community will come alive as you journey with a child through the challenges of daily life. Space is limited. Make your complimentary reservation to attend this eye-opening experience now. Coming to Calvary Temple Church, Concord, CA. September 19-22, 2014.

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Fresh Salmon for Dinner

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Fresh Salmon for Dinner

A Sea Lion drags his salmon dinner across Morro Bay. Perhaps he wants one of the chefs at a waterfront restaurant to prepare him a scrumptious meal.

These days it seems everyone likes to take pictures of what they are eating or about to eat. Thank you Instagram. The reasoning escapes me. What you’re eating may look great, and I’m sure it tasted wonderful, but I really don’t care to see pictures. Really. You can just tell me that you had a great meal at some fantastic restaurant, and if I’m ever in the area maybe I’ll make a reservation.

Having said that, I want to first apologize for the few foodie pics I have shared, and secondly share with you, not a meal on my plate, but a great fresh salmon dinner that went straight from water to plate. Well, probably not a plate, but the salmon doesn’t get any fresher than this.

Marcie and I were headed home from a trip to Disneyland and decided to take the scenic route and drive up the central coast. We stopped to have dinner at one of our old haunts in Morro Bay. While waiting we took a stroll on the south T-pier. As I was getting ready to snap a shot of a Sea Lion swimming leisurely toward the dock, he suddenly dove. When he popped back up he had his dinner in tow.

As I remember, Marcie had shrimp or scallops and I had a mixed seafood grill for dinner. I didn’t take a picture, but yes, the mixed grill included a small piece of salmon filet.

See more Morro Bay images here.

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Friday Night Lights


Friday Night Lights

Some of you may know that I am a contributor at Lightstock.com. “Lightstock is a two-sided marketplace that aggregates, curates, and licenses stock content to the faith-based community.” Visit the brief About page to find out more.

When you visit my Lightstock gallery you will find a selection of images that could be used in a church bulletin or Web site, worship slide background, newsletter, you name it. There are a lot of uses.

This image of the lights at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, just went live and is available now. Just in time for the end of baseball season and the start of football season. Use your imagination to find all kinds of uses for an image like this.

One of the best parts of selling images at Lightstock is they let me designate a portion of my profits to help bring children out of poverty through Compassion. As a sponsor of a child myself, this is important to me and gives me one more small way to support something I believe in. So, consider using one of my images at Lightroom on your blog, in your publication, as part of your media presentations, or whatever.

That’s all. Enjoy the image. Browse the site.


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We Can Do Better – Christina Fugazi

We Can Do Better - Christina Fugazi

This is getting posted, not because we can do better or I am supporting Christina Fugazi for Stockton City Council, though we can and I am. It is being posted so I can show off. After I spent an afternoon taking a series of shots of Christina in downtown Stockton, the campaign messaging team went to work to produce a mail piece to be sent to voters. This is the front of the piece. The back also has a picture I made that day, but I don’t have it available at the moment.

What I do have is the original picture the mail piece was made from.

Christina Fugazi

This isn’t the first campaign I have done a photo shoot for. Last spring I got a late call to do a last minute shoot for a candidate for county supervisor. More recently I scored a short flight over Stockton when I did a shoot for another city council candidate. There was also one in Lodi, but I haven’t seen what they used the shots for yet.

My taking pictures for these campaigns or their use of my images does not necessarily mean they have my endorsement. Christina Fugazi does, but I am not very free with my endorsements. Maybe I’ll do an endorsement post closer to election day. For now, just enjoy the pictures. I certainly enjoy taking them.

I am also creating Christina’s campaign Web site. Still a work in process, but I would like to know what you think.

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Strike Three!

Strike three

Strike Three!

Way back in the spring of this year I happened to be sitting in front of the parents of the umpire who was calling the Stockton Ports game. The same umpire in this picture from a game last week. At the game last spring I also made a picture which I sent to his parents in Colorado as a gift. They ended up buy a metal print of it, for which I am grateful. The power of networking.

He was umpiring in Stockton again last week and I was able to get a few more shots. The light was low and I shot at ISO 800. In post processing I decided I like it in black and white for a couple reasons. One, the graininess, though not acute, is more pleasing in monochrome. Two, monochrome reduces the background distraction, especially the player on the right wearing the bright orange jersey. Very distracting. The dark grey stands out much more prominently against the light gray background. And, the best reason of all, I just like the black and white version better.

When you are the artist you get to decide. There will always be critics, but criticism is almost always the result of personal preference. As an artist, you get to choose what you want the final image to look like. Of course, you have to keep in mind that your audience (read potential clients/customers) also get to choose.

Here are the two versions side-by-side for comparison. What do you think?


In case you are wondering, I’m going to send a copy of this photo, the black and white version, to his parents too.

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