Friday, July 4, 2014

When The Leaves Begin To Change Preview


I fell the first time I saw him.

Literally, I fell.

I had just started my morning shift at the Blotz Bakery, the kind of place where you left three pounds heavier and with the distinct smell of reused, three day old grease in your hair after visiting. It was a hot, muggy sort of day, where the menus stuck to your hands and the glasses left thick, sticky rings of residue on the table, where no matter how hard you scrubbed, your next customer was sure to know they weren’t your first by the sludge that stuck to their arm hairs. I grumbled. Days like this made it hard to please the uptight owner. Behind her back the employees liked to joke that she was like a pop goes the weasel toy. We could see her winding and winding tighter, the anticipation growing, until one day, we presumed, she finally would explode from her cage and pop up and scare us all half to death with her crazy facial expressions and sudden, startling appearance. I had to admit I enjoyed picturing the image. 

The second booth on the right was filled with teenage boys, about my age, maybe 14 or 15. I could see some of their eyes looking my direction, scanning my frame from twenty feet away, nudging each other and pointing. It gave me the willies. I searched around the diner, desperately looking for a spilled plate of eggs and ham, or an empty coffee cup that just had to be refilled, or for a pair of eyes who could see my predicament and would rescue me from what was sure to be the most degrading moment of my life. Or so I thought. How little I truly did know.

I retrieved the pencil I had hastily stuck behind my left ear in between orders, and approached the booth. “What can I get you boys?” I inquired, special emphasis on the boys, as to imply I was somehow above them, though we were around the same age, since it was clear already that my emotional capacity far exceeded theirs in terms of maturity. There were four males sitting in the booth, two on each side, split into teams of hair color it appeared. Blondes were on the left, brunettes on the right. Though one boy’s hair was more a jet black, if I was being fair. I only noticed because he was the best looking one of them all.

The bulky, uncomfortably overweight one spoke first, a blonde, his stomach rolls gutted by the apparently too small booth. “I’ll take two of today’s specials,” he said, creepily winking at me. “The double bacon with the ham on the side?” I confirmed, writing it into my half-used, grease spotted notepad. “Actually,” he snickered, an eight-year-old waiting on an unsuspecting victim to sit on his carefully planted whoopee cushion; “I’d like you on the side instead.”

My eyes slowly traced up the length of where my fingers were writing, and finally, carefully, met his. They were hungrily round, obstinately big, lustful in an inexperienced, childlike way. A little boy wanting a toy he wasn’t old enough to play with. The other blonde, a tall, gangly thing with more teeth missing than a child awaiting the tooth fairy, chimed in awkwardly, mouth gaping, elbows ribbing his friend, “Don’t you know what she is?” What I am? He pointed to my face, openly, defiantly, for the entire diner and the entire world as far as I could tell, to see. “Look at her face. Look at her nose! She’s a dirty Jew, can’t you tell? You don’t want her.” That was the first time I felt the jab of racism, that solemn, foreboding moment inside a small, greasy diner where I was on the third week of my first job.

I felt my mouth gape open, felt the air coming through my lungs and up my throat, before finally getting caught in my teeth, to die only moments before escaping. I stood there gawking, my pencil still perched mid-sentence, an animal caught in the glare of headlights. The rotund, blonde boy realized his gangly friend was right. He spit at me. Actually spit. It hit on the left corner of my hand, the perched one still mid-order, and began to drip onto my notepad, now mixing with the grease, the less disgusting of the two sticky substances.  

“Get out of here,” he said, the hate from his heart creeping out of his mouth, almost making him shake with defiance. I stood still, eyes locked with his, sure that the sticky floor was what now held me in place, and not my own fear. He leaned across the booth, his girth falling freely on its surface, and came closer to my face. “I won’t be served by a worthless JEW!” he exhorted, now loudly enough for the entire diner to turn. My eyes finally snapped from the angry boy’s to those around me. Faces of confusion. Faces of arrogance. Faces of indifference. Only one face in the entire diner had the traces of compassion on it, from bright colored blue eyes peaking out from under stick straight, jet-black hair, smoothed down with a comb he kept in his back right pocket so he could touch it up every ten minutes.

The notepad fell from my hand then, the grease stains staying, the spit residue trailing out onto the already disgusting diner floor, one, I’m sure, the fat boy thought was better than me. The door was only a few steps away and I lunged for it, a gazelle leaping from a lion, only to be tripped up by my own feet before I barely moved. I fell face-first into the warm spit, and despite my willpower, despite the crowd, despite the shame pulsing in my veins, I sat on the unwashed floor of the loud, busy diner, dishes clanking, people talking, registers ringing, a young girl crying. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bible Thoughts: Showing Perfect Courtesy

Titus 3:2. I keep coming back to it. Why? Because I need it, pretty much every day.

"To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people." (Titus 3:2 ESV)

Whew. That's not easy to do!

I love this verse, because it reminds me to not react. Sometimes (and I hate to admit this) I am quick to get very angry. Quick to want to backbite, or "show up" someone who has wronged me or said something hateful, especially those who do it without reason or provocation. On a daily basis, I deal with people who are just flat out rude, without reason, just because, no matter how nice I may be or how sweetly I may speak.

So, I train myself. I practice self-control. I do my best not to react, but instead to purpose. What does that mean? To me, it means a few things:

1.  I read before I speak. Huh? I know, lol. Sounds confusing. But it means, every morning, before I am faced with the world's not so friendly, I read the Word of God. I read how I am not to complain, how I am to be a light, how I am to practice self-control, how I am to be like Jesus. And Jesus knew a lot more about being mistreated than I ever will, that's for sure.

2. I write before I speak. Most people don't write their prayers, they say them aloud or in their mind, but I write mine. Is this any real surprise? Everything I do is writing related and my heart comes out through my fingers much more often than it does my mouth. It's just who I am. So after I fill my mind with things that help me to be who I should, I write. I write my prayers to God and pray for strength and humility and the desire to be like Him. I write for the things I need so much, because without God and His loving principles guiding me, I am not who I should be.

3. I reflect before I speak. This one takes me back so often to Titus 3:2 and other Scriptures. It's also that little reminder inside me to be like the Lord. That tugging saying, Do what is right, not what is reflexive. Because let me tell you, my natural reflex is not to speak evil of no one, avoid quarreling, and show that perfect (perfect!) courtesy toward all people. Because some people are just so mean it will just about make me cry or blow my top from anger. But then, in those moments, I try to reflect. I try to be more like Jesus and less like Emily.

So, how can we live Titus 3:2 in our daily lives? How can we learn to focus on this perfect courtesy, this amazing self-control, this unthinkable bridling of our tongues? For me, it begins with reading, writing, and reflecting...all before I open my mouth.

May the Lord bless us all with reflective, humble, loving hearts each day, and spirits that show perfect courtesy towards others, especially when they deserve it least.

Monday, April 28, 2014

When The Leaves Begin To Change Preview


The first time I ever held a loaded gun I was six years old. My father, a bulky man in a tight wool shirt that showed he had muscles to spare, put it in my shaking hands on his eighth annual hunting trip, pointed to a proud elk, and with no practice or instruction, simply told me to shoot. "I can't," I cried, a young boy with a heart unscarred by the world. "I don't want him to hurt," I whimpered, my head drooping low, ashamed of myself, knowing he was ashamed of me. My father's dark eyes seemed darker in that moment, now a piercing, brooding black.

“Jack-son,” he seethed between gritted teeth, my one name suddenly sounding like two. He pushed me roughly to the side and jerked the gun from my clumsy hands, not seeing the need to handle it with care, not thinking how easily it could go off and kill his only son. I watched it swing madly through the air as he caught his footing, a real accomplishment considering the empty flask in his jacket pocket.

 “You never think,” he said, straightening his arm, extending it, turning off the safety, pulling hard on the trigger. The sound went off like a gunshot in the night, abruptly shaking me to my core. The elk lost step and began to trip over itself, the right foot flailing behind the left until he hit the ground. The blood fell freely from the bullet hole, one that had hit him right between the eyes. My father grunted, and I smelled the bourbon. “You just shoot.” 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Power Of A Habit

Have you ever considered the power of a habit?

I have. I am a very habit-driven type of person (whether that be for the good or the bad) and always have been. This year, I have been working on kicking two of my most terrible/gross habits: 1) chewing ice (like I am in Antarctica and thirsting for my life) and 2) biting my nails/around my nails out of stress, anxiety, boredom, habit, whatever. Now, mind you, I've been doing both these gross things since I was like, literally six years old probably. Pretty hard to break a habit after twenty years. But I'm working on it. I definitely have failed, but I'm currently on a no-ice streak that has been very exciting for the last week or so. Isn't it sad I get my excitement from breaking weird, awkward habits? :) I know.

But I've also been working on developing some good habits. Since Feb 10th this year, I haven't missed one day of doing my daily devotional time of Bible study and prayer. I've read straight through from Galatians-Jude and also the book of Proverbs so far. Every day, I read at least one chapter of a non-fiction book (I just finished Quitter by Jon Acuff today, which I weirdly only started two days ago). I also read at least one chapter of a fiction book, currently The Counte of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. And I will be on it for a while, since it's over 600 pages, making it officially the longest book I have ever read.

I also have been trying to dedicate (a small or large, depending on the day) amount of time to working on a book. I've written a little more of When The Leaves Begin To Change, my book on the Holocaust, as well as finishing up When The Church Forgets To Blush, my first ever women's devotional book (which my amazing bff Emily Hatfield just finished editing for me!). I even started another women's devotional book called Always Be Ready: A Pocket Sized Guide To Biblical Answers which I hope to have out in the next few months! Lastly, I've made it a point to use my balance ball and either Bowflex or walk on my treadmill everyday.

What, you may wonder, am I striving to accomplish exactly? Growth in positive areas.

So here's an overview of what has happened for me in the few months I've been trying to grow positively in my habits and let go of negative habits:

-Since January, I have really grown spiritually. I used to have to force myself to sit down and read the Bible or to pray, not because I didn't want to, but because I let myself get too busy. Or sometimes just because Netflix had a new season up if I'm being honest. Now, I look forward to it. I think of it when I first wake up. I get excited about what I am going to learn and how God is going to mold me and make my heart more like His own. It's exciting and I desire it. When I first began, I prayed God would increase my desire for this daily time with Him, and He truly answered that prayer. As mentioned earlier, I've also read through nineteen books of the Bible fully so far, just by reading one chapter a day mostly (though sometimes I get carried away) :)

-I've read TWELVE books this year so far! Now, some of them weren't super big, but I am very, very slow reader (I like to absorb) :) so that is huge for me. They were:

1. Who Moved My Cheese?
2. 48 Days To The Work You Love
3. His Needs, Her Needs
4. Love & Respect
5. QBQ
6. The Lovely Bones
7. How To Be Lovely
8. Skipping Christmas
9. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
10. Quitter
11. The Count of Monte Cristo (still working on finishing this one)
12. Rhinoceros Success

I definitely didn't read 12 books last year. I don't even know that I read two or three! Small power of a one chapter a day (sometimes more) daily habit. I've learned so much and changed my outlook in so many ways. And definitely have spent less time watching mindless t.v. shows and more time bettering myself and my thought process.

-I also have more energy and strength and some new muscles since I began working out :) I may even be down a few pounds. Only a few minutes a day makes a big difference. I mostly love the feeling of accomplishment and how stretching on the balance ball makes my lower back pain basically nonexistent. Win!

-I've always loved writing and always will, but it's been so nice to daily try to devote some time to my passion. It's helped me to stay more plugged in creatively and feel more accomplished and excited about what I have coming up. I love how alive it makes me feel!

This post is mostly me rambling about my daily habits, I get that. So what is the point? Well, it is summed up so well in this quote I read recently:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words,
 Your words become your actions,
 Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

To end, I want to tell the story that even made me really reflect on the power of a habit the other night...

I was watching Forensic Files, which is basically where a murder is solved using forensic technology, but rather than bore you with talk of luminol or serology, I'll get to the point. On one episode, a man was tragically and brutally murdered, literally hit with an ax sixteen times. What made this so interesting was what happened next. Several areas of his brain had been penetrated and irreproachably damaged, and understandably so, considering what he had just suffered. Despite this, the one part of the brain that hadn't been damaged was the part controlling his daily habits.

So, unbelievably, I watched as the story described what happened next. This man, unaware of his wounds and what had happened, acting on habit alone, literally got up, put on a sweater, walked down the stairs, made breakfast (and I'm talking eggs and bacon!), walked outside and got the paper, accidentally closed and locked the door behind him, and rummaged around for the hidden key and unlocked the door again. Is your mouth hanging open yet? If not, you might want to reread what you just read. This man, who was hit with an axe, mostly in his brain, SIXTEEN TIMES, got up and did everything he did every single morning. He had even begun to pack a lunch to take to work with him! After he walked back inside the door, he fell down in the foyer and sadly, finally passed away.

Talk about the power of a habit!

Today, and each day, choose wisely. 
Invest in growth in a positive way. 
Remember the power of a habit. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

8 Character Traits Of A Beautiful Wife

1. Agreeable 

Proverbs 19:13 A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. 

Proverbs 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. 

Proverbs 21:19 It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.  

2. Faithful & Trustworthy 

1 Timothy 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 

3. Gracious & Honorable 

Proverbs 11:16 A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches. 

4. Helpful 

Genesis 2:18, 22-24 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” … And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

5. Kindhearted & Generous 

Proverbs 31:20-21 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 

Proverbs 31:26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 

6. Submissive & Respectful

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 

Ephesians 5:22-23, 33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior… However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 

Titus 2:2-5 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 

1 Peter 3:1-2 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 

7. Wise 

Proverbs 14:1 The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.

8. Excellent 

Proverbs 31:10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

 These are the wonderful characteristics every Christian woman should strive to have. I didn't write this article (I ran across it online), but I certainly agree with it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Too Busy To Not Slow Down

Have you ever heard the phrase, "I'm too busy to slow down!" Maybe even said it yourself?

Yeah. Me too!

I want to suggest to you that almost always, we are too busy to NOT slow down. What are some of the first things that may go to the wayside when we are busy? Could it be some of the most important? I definitely think so.

If you want to know if you are busier than the Lord ever intended you to be, ask yourself if either your words or your choices convey the following: 

1) I am too busy to slow down, read my Bible, and pray.

2) I am too busy to spend real, quality time with the ones I love. 

3) I am too busy to be continually involved in some form of self-improvement every day.

4) I am too busy to be getting the exercise, nutrition, rest, and relaxation that I need.

5) I am too busy to be thinking more highly of others than I do myself. 

6) I am too busy to be pursuing my dreams in life. 

7) I am too busy to be living with joy and optimism. 

8) I am too busy to take the time to cultivate friendships. 

9) I am too busy to speak graciously, kindly, and with thought. 

10) I am too busy to serve the Lord with all my heart, soul, strength, and might. 

Truly, we are often too busy to NOT slow down. Try to revamp your life, words, and actions so that you can say the following: 

1) I am too busy to NOT slow down and read my Bible and pray.

2) I am too busy to NOT spend real, quality time with the ones I love.

3) I am too busy to NOT be continually involved in some form of self-improvement every day.

4) I am too busy to NOT be getting the exercise, nutrition, rest, and relaxation that I need.

5) I am too busy to NOT be thinking more highly of others than I do myself.

6) I am too busy to NOT be pursuing my dreams in life.

7) I am too busy to NOT be living with joy and optimism.

8) I am too busy to NOT take the time to cultivate my friendships. 

9) I am too busy to NOT speak graciously, kindly, and with thought. 

10) I am too busy to NOT serve the Lord with all my heart, soul, strength, and might. 

Today, are you too busy?


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bible Thoughts: The Secret Of Living

Have you ever tried to live more than one day at a time?

I know, this seems like such a silly question. But I challenge you to really consider the concept. Now obviously, one cannot physically live beyond the day they are in, but many times (for me many, many times!) haven't we allowed our minds to emotionally or mentally live more than one day at a time?

Maybe you are living in the past, looking back in regret at days you can never change. Maybe you are looking into the future, looking forward to things you imagine will happen, such as children, promotions, a bigger house, or a better paycheck. Maybe you just look slightly forward, to tomorrow and the heavy burden of responsibilities you may bear.

Obviously, there is some benefit in looking ahead, so one can be prepared. We cannot live as if there is only today. It bugs me when people say, "Live today as if it were your last!" I get the concept, I really do. But let's be real. If today is my last day, I'm definitely not going into work. Neither is my hubby. I may even eat whatever I want because, well, it's my last day. But guess what. That leads to us both being fired and unhealthy. Clearly not a good choice.

Additionally, there is some benefit to looking behind, because our experiences from the past teach us and mold us, and if we handle them in the right way, benefit us in our future. But what happens if we spend all our time looking behind? We miss opportunities. We don't invest in friendships or relationships in the now, because our thoughts are on the then. We lose sight of what is to come because we can't take our eyes off of what's already been.

So how are we to live? Let's look at Matthew 6:25-34, one of my very FAVORITE passages in the Bible:

"Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink" or "What shall we wear?" For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the days is its own trouble."

I've been learning a lot from this passage and my reflection on it lately. What is it telling us?

1. Trust God!
He knows your needs and will provide your needs (such as food, clothing, shelter, etc). Just look at nature and how He provides, and realize how much more valuable and worthy you are as His children. Is He going to care for the birds and not His own children?

2. Stop worrying and being anxious!
Where do worry, anxiety, and fear truly come from? A dependency on self and not on the Lord. When we truly do begin to trust in God, worrying and anxiety stop. What is there to worry about?

3. Learn from yesterday, look forward to tomorrow, but live for today.
The secret of living is to do it each day. When you actively focus in on the moment, the day, solving only its problems, doesn't life become beautifully simple? Wearing clothes? Good. No need to worry about tomorrow, because you are living in today. Have a full belly? Great. No need to worry about being hungry, because your need has already been met. Enjoying a warm and cozy place to stay? Give thanks, instead of worrying about how you will pay for your mortgage later in the month.

Why do I share these things? Because they have helped me. I'm the world's BIGGEST planner (long term goals, intermediate goals, short term goals, daily goals kind of person!) and when things don't fit "my" expectations or plans, I sometimes tend to get a little (or a lot) stressed. I may begin to worry... a lot. I may start to doubt God and trust in myself. Not only are these things generally detrimental, let's not forget what is worse than that: they are sinful!

So, since the beginning of this year, I have made a concerted effort to do better. To NOT worry. To TRUST God. To LIVE today. Really live. And let me tell you, it has been amazingly freeing!

I spend a lot more time in prayer and Bible study. I still have lists and goals, but I focus on what I need to accomplish TODAY and today only while it is still today. I can look at my list for tomorrow TOMORROW, when it becomes the new today. I encourage you if you struggle with enjoying the moment and truly living for today to put these principles into action in your life. I hope you will be blessed in the way that I have been!

"I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." -John 10:10 ESV

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Best Way To Organize A Massive Photo Library

Have you ever tried to organize a LOT and I mean a LOT (100,000+) photos, videos, and other media?  I have! If you are like most people, you tend to get overwhelmed when it gets over 10,000 or so. So imagine how overwhelming 500,000 photos would be. YES, 500,000. A half a million. That's how many I had when I started! How did this happen? Let me tell you.

I had a mother who took a lot of baby pictures. I grew up an amateur photographer. I took thousands of pictures when I was dating and engaged to my husband. You can imagine how many wedding photos we had. I also had two old computers (PCs!) that had broken years ago that I transferred all the old info from the hard drives onto my new computer.  Then of course there is social media--photos your friends took of you, videos, etc. All those had to be brought in. To top it off, I went paperless. I scanned in all my old cards, paper momentos, photos, tax stubs, receipts, and much more. Did I mention I'm a writer for a living? Even more paper. So yeah, it definitely got out of control. And therefore, since I am the MOST organized person I have ever met, it started to drive me crazy. I wanted to get it under control.

Part One: Finding The Right Fit
So, I tried to use Iphoto to get my mess under control. Multiple times. Multiple libraries. Attempt after attempt after attempt. What was the problem? Well, one, it kept crashing (grr). Two, I'd often import like 200,000 photos and a TON of them wouldn't import correctly. So I'm left wondering which of my 50,000 non imported photos out of the 200,000 it was that didn't go through. WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT? I know I didn't! Thirdly, I needed to organize the hard drive (everything was on an external) and I really didn't have time to work on sorting 500,000 photos...especially TWICE...and the hard drive would have to be by hand. No. 

I tried everything. I searched, and searched, and searched. I tried Picassa for Mac. Better than Iphoto, but still not what I needed. Tried Photoshop Elements 11. Eh. Kept trying program after program after program. AND THEN I FOUND IT. *Insert dramatic drum roll here*


To give you the long story short, here is why I used it and all the features that made so much more sense to me than any other program.

1) It crashes a LOT less. And who doesn't love that? Also, unlike Picassa, when it does crash, it SAVES what you have done. No frustration of doing the same thing twice here. My mac (though beloved) is old and doesn't do well with big programs and it handles Lyn better than ANY of the aforementioned!

2) It is FREE for a 15 day trial. Which, by the way, was all I needed to get the work done once I finally got an AMAZING program to aide me! And, by the way, if you don't finish, it only cost $20, which is less than eating like one meal out, and it is TOTALLY worth every. single. penny. Oh, and the program takes about five seconds to download and doesn't take up much hard drive space. Even more of a win. 

3) There is no uploading!!!! NONE. Unlike Iphoto, where I have to get everything to transfer over and it won't ever do it correctly (and it takes FOREVER!), I just plug in my hard drive, and boom, there it is. In Lyn. Ready to sort. All my photos. No waiting, nothing not transferring over correctly, just perfect and ready to sort. 

4) It is super quick. When you move something, it pretty much shows it right then or within a few seconds. No major lags and it has a nice refresh button you can push if you need to, but I hardly ever did. 

5) THIS IS THE BEST PART. It saves you from doing the work multiple times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have ALL of my stuff on hard drives and I just think that is smart with the way computers crash these days. I'd rather be protected than sorry and I never miss having it on my desktop, because my comp runs faster as is. So basically, say I move a photo from a "photos to sort" folder to a "childhood" folder in the Lyn program. Instantly, it moves the photo into that folder in Lyn and more importantly, on my harddrive. So instead of having to organize in Iphoto, THEN organize a hard drive all over again (how irritating!!) I just do the work once and viola, everything is perfectly organized.

Part Two: Proper Duplicate Removal
It's safe to say that MOST of my ridiculous amount of photos came from duplicates. From multiple iphoto libraries, to pics I had on my computer and facebook, etc, there were TONS AND TONS AND TONS of duplicates. I tried several duplicate removers. SEVERAL. Some were Iphoto Library Cleaner (hated), PhotoSweeper (eh), Chipmunk (liked it, but confusing layout!), Gemini ($10, good job, but slow and misses some), Photos Duplicate Cleaner (free on the mac store and awesome, but again, misses some), and finally, the glorious UNIK. Never heard of it, randomly discovered it on the app store for $1.99 and oh, how I wish I had found it and spent that $1.99 ages ago!!!! Would've saved me so much frustration. It is THOROUGH, finds EXACT duplicates, and does it quickly. It shows you side by side photo comparison so you see what you are deleting. Items go to your mac trash so you can always retrieve them if you change your mind. Also, you can set it to find duplicates in grayscale, flipped vertically or horizontally, or even what percentage you want the photos to be alike. Ex:100% gives you exact duplicates, 98% gives you almost exact duplicates. It is SO easy and user friendly and most importantly, effective!! As far as serious duplicate cleaners go, I am convinced Unik is the only way to go!

Part Three: Ultimate Photo Organization
I'm pretty sure I tried every kind of photo organization there is during this process, trying to find that perfect one. Where it would be super easy to find things. People say use dates. On one hand, that makes sense, but on the other, some things don't have a date. Like haircut example photos! So I created my own system, on my hard drive, using Lyn. And trust me, with a LARGE amount of photos, this is the ONLY way I have found to have them truly organized and yet super easily accessible when you need them. It may sound hard, but it is actually VERY simple. 

1) Start with dated folders with parentheses describing the time period. My husband and I love to move and have adventures, so your folders might be way fewer than mine! Here are my MAIN categories in order of date:

Head Folder: Photo Organization
Main Folders: 
1987-2005 (Childhood-Growing Up)
2006 (College)
2007 (Dating, KJ at Memphis)
2008 (Engagement, Wedding, Memphis Apartment)
2009-2010 (South Carolina)
2011 (Colorado)
2012 (Kentucky/TN)
2013 (Tennessee)
2014 (Tennessee)
Dateless (Various)

So basically I sorted by years in a way that made sense to me. The detailed descriptions were key for me, because sometimes when you are sorting a bunch you may think "oh, we took that in Denver", not "that was 2011" so it makes it simpler for the sorter. Plus, I just like to remember where I was during that time in my life. You can't put every little thing that happened here, but you can hit the high points. Originally, I was ONLY going to sort by major folder. But, I like to have a differentiation between my actual childhood/baby photos and the ones when I was in high school. So, I decided on subfolders (and LOVE them). Once you have things sorted into MAJOR folders, subfolders don't take long at all, especially if you have them dated correctly and use Lyn's nifty little "sort by date" option. 

After main folders are completed, begin subfolders (main folders are by date, subfolders are alphabetized). Below are mine. Obviously yours will be different, because you have different life events and locations than I do. But for example, here they are.

1987-2005 (Childhood-Growing Up)
Em-Elementary-High School
KJ-Childhood-High School (He had a lot less pics than me, so only one folder here)
Mandy's Wedding

2006 (College)
Alisha's Wedding
FHU Campus (pictures I took ON my college campus)
Makin' Music
Off Campus (pictures I took anywhere BUT my college campus)
Student Ministry (pictures I took at home relating to church group)

2007 (Dating, Kj at Memphis)

2008 (Engagement, Wedding, Memphis Apartment)
Memphis Apartment

2009-2010 (South Carolina)
Angel Oak Tree
Anniversary Trip- 1st
Boone Hall Plantation
Cypress Gardens
Daddy's Celebration of Life 
Exploring Charleston
Folly Beach
GC & WA Apartments 
Holidays 2009 & 2010
Isle of Palms- Dear John 
Living Life
Martin's Point Plantation
Nanny Job
North Charleston C of C
Notebook Filming Locations
West Virginia Visit
Windsor Club Apartment

2011 (Colorado)
Anniversary Trip- 2nd
Anniversary Trip- 3rd
Dinosaur Ridge
Galveston Trip
Holidays 2011
Living Life
Manitou Springs
Moving Trip
Ogden Trip

2012 (Kentucky/TN)
Anniversary Trip- 4th
Holidays 2012
Living Life
Michigan Mission Trip
New Concord House

2013 (Tennessee)
Anniversary Trip- 5th
Book Signing
Bruce (car nickname!)
Holidays 2013
Johnny (truck nickname!)
Living Life
Missouri Visit
Nanny Jobs
Organizational Overhaul (pics of my organizing this year, I did a LOT!)

2014 (Tennessee)
Anniversary Trip- 6th (yet to come)
Holidays 2014 (yet to come)
Living Life (barely started)
Nanny Files 

Dateless (Various)
Hilarity (funny stuff)
Tax Stubs
Used To Own (pics of stuff we have now sold)
Web Related (pics used on my website etc)
Writing Related (author pics, book covers, etc)

Part Four: Bask In The Glory
All this felt seriously tedious when I was working on it. BUT, now that I have completed it I feel so accomplished. I've deleted all my duplicates, organized my hard drive completely (including non photo items under General Organization (tip: my major categories are 1987-2012 Archived Files, 2013- Present Files, Imovie Library, Itunes Library), and have an organized Mac photo program to show for it. Anytime I need to find any pic or scanned document for any reason, I know where to go. It really is awesome. And pretty much necessary. Why take lots of amazing pics if you can't even find them to look at them when you want? I know lots of people use Facebook or an online system, and it's doubtful they would go down and lose all your photos... but what if they did? Not for me. I also have a folder on a separate hard drive that has all those pics, including duplicates (just in case one of those duplicate programs had deleted photos that weren't actually duplicates, it does happen). You should always have a huge backup, unedited, just in case. I'd rather have one messy folder on a hard drive I don't use than to lose all my pics I love. It's there just in case. 

But I have the blissfully organized one for my everyday use.

Why write this ridiculously long blog? In hopes it will help you. I looked, and looked, and looked and read article after article and couldn't find one that told me what I needed. This is not for people with 5,000 pics (though it would work for that too). This is for the serious picture takers who want to organize with style and ease. Thanks for reading and feel free to share if it helped you. Enjoy!!