Saturday, December 29, 2007

Article in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix for Saturday Dec. 29/07

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Article in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix for Saturday Dec. 29/07

Each day of calendar an inspiration

Darlene Polachic, The StarPhoenix

Published: Saturday, December 29, 2007

If someone had told Lisa Braun when she was 15 that she would one day be back living in her hometown of Warman producing inspirational calendars, she would have laughed in scorn.

"My life was pretty messed up back then and I couldn't get away from Warman fast enough. I said I would never come back. But, never say never. God has a sense of humour."

Six years ago, Braun and her husband Roger and their children moved back to Warman, where Braun cares for her family and passionately pursues her gift for photography.

"It's not something I had training for," she says. "I know it is a gift from God. It isn't that I go out looking for pictures, or that I wait for hours for something to happen. God just seems to put me in the right place at the right time."

One example of that is an amazing photograph of a resting, snow-covered deer. "Roger and I were driving to the lake, when suddenly Roger stopped and said, 'Get out your camera.' I hadn't even noticed it, but there was a deer in the ditch with its back all covered with snow. It lay there the whole time I snapped away."

"Another time, we were going to Emma Lake for our anniversary. It was a beautiful fall day, and we were listening to praise and worship music as we drove, feeling like we were travelling with the angels. I said, 'It would be so cool, God, to see a bear right now.' We turned a corner and there was a black bear in the ditch eating berries."

Braun has loved photography since she was a child, but it was only when her youngest daughter started kindergarten that she began working at it seriously. A photographer friend who was booked to shoot a wedding and couldn't, asked if Lisa was interested in doing it. She's been doing wedding photography ever since.

"I don't have a studio," she says. "God's creation is my studio and interestingly enough, I have never yet had a wedding session rained out."

Lisa began taking photographs to Page One Printing in Saskatoon to have them made into cards which she offered for sale on the Thickwood Hills Studio Trail, a self-drive tour of artisan locations. "Page One asked if they could use some of my pictures for a Saskatchewan calendar they were producing. They ended up using six in the 2007 calendar which they sold to businesses for $2 a piece. The business could put their name and advertising information on the bottom and hand out the calendars to customers.

"I asked if I could sell the calendars, too. In three days, I sold 3,000 to about 14 businesses. I said, 'God, can it be this easy?'"

That gave Braun the idea to produce calendars of her own. She had Page One make 10,000 copies of a 2008 calendar containing 12 of her own prairie-themed photographs. In no time, she had sold every one. She decided to do a second calendar for 2008, this one an inspirational calendar with Bible verses superimposed on the photographs.

"This," she says, "is my heart. My heart is for God who gave me the gift. I love to capture what God created and bless others with it. I love putting scripture to photos."

It all happens very naturally. "When I'm taking a picture, certain words from a verse will pop into my mind. I'll already know when I'm setting up the photo exactly what verse I will use and where it will go. It is definitely God-inspired."

One such photo is of a red barn taken on a very frosty day. "I gave the duplicate prints to the son of the woman who used to live on the farm when I was a child. He picked one, and said, 'Mom would love to have a verse on it from your Bible.' I wondered if there was a verse in the Bible that mentions frost, so I looked in the concordance. Sure enough, Job 37:10 says: 'By the breath of God, frost is given.' Reading that gave me chills. I could just visualize God breathing on the earth, covering everything with hoar frost. I can never see frost again the same way."

Braun's calendars have become a popular item for fundraising. Churches, clubs, and schools buy them for $2 each (minimum of 100), imprint their own logo on the bottom, and sell them for whatever markup they want. Generally, Braun says, the calendars sell for $10 a piece.

"Osler Mission Chapel is building a new church and bought 500 to sell. Saskatoon Christian School also sells my calendars as a fundraiser."

Braun's 2008 calendars are available from her website: or by email:

Polachic is a freelance writer.

"WOW! I'm not used to this. This lady had given me a call, stating that she had seen my Inspirational calendar and thought it would make a good story. So, she came over and interviewed me. :-) It was fun! She was a wonderful lady and I enjoyed sharing with her. But there was a couple of things in this article that I felt I needed to clarify:

I never ever would have dreamed that someday my photographs would have been in a calendar, let alone my own calendar with my own photographs. I don't know if I would've 'laughed in scorn' as was written in the article but I definitely wouldn't have believed it at that point. I'm just continually amazed at what God has done in my life and around me. God is so good!

Even though I left home at age 15, I did remain in school in Warman until I graduated in 1987. My High School years were much better than my Junior High years although overall my school years weren't the worst. I had lots of friends and great teachers. I had a difficult upbringing but I didn't have any major issues with the town itself.

The Inspirational Calendar was the very first calendar I ever wanted to create because that was my passion. I love putting scripture to photos. About 15,000 calendars had been printed and OVER 10,000 calendars have been sold to date. Three different calendars were printed: Inspirational 2008, Prairie Scenes 2008 - both of these are filled with my photographs - and then a 2008 SK Scenes calendar which is Page One Printing's version with a variety of SK photographers including myself. So with all 3 of these calendars, about 15,000 or more had been printed originally. There are still more available to be sold. Scott's Parable Christian Store in Saskatoon has also been selling the Inspirational Calendar as well and will still have them available in the New Year.

Thanks for reading and God bless you all!

Friday, December 14, 2007

How does one deal with pain??

Yesterday I came on the scene of an accident near my kids school. It had just barely happened. A mother was holding her son's body in the ditch, another body was laying face down in the snow close by, others were still in the crushed van and a white moving type van was farther on in the ditch. It was horrifying. I was shaking and could hardly drive. I was on my way to the school to pick up my own son, who was at a basketball game, which these players were coming to play.

O God, how does one deal with the pain? Did these kids know you? Did the young man who was dead on impact know you? How will his mother deal with this? How will the town of these kids deal with this? How about the member of the team that were waiting for these teammates to come join them for the game? How does one overcome this, the hurt, the pain, the loss, the questions of why, the guilt, the feelings of why not me - why him, why did I cross the highway???? My heart is so torn for the mom. I could hardly breathe as I drove by with my own son sitting in the seat beside me as I watched her cradle her dead son. How fair is that? Why her and not me? I had been running a few minutes late and if I hadn't, I would have seen it happen - I would have been there.

This morning during my devotions I read Psalm 38:4, 6, 7b, 8,15-17, 21, 22
"My guilt overwhelms me--it is a burden too heavy to bear...I am bent over and racked with pain. My days are filled with health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart....For I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer me, O Lord my God. I prayed, "Don't let my enemies gloat over me or rejoice at my downfall." I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain...Do not abandon me, Lord. Do not stand at a distance, my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior."
How totally appropriate. Even as I'm typing this, the song playing in the background goes, "You are faithful to me Lord, you are faithful to me Lord..." In spite of the pain and not being able to understand why things happen like this all around us, God continues to be faithful. He is there with His strong right hand, upholding us and comforting us. He wants to hold this woman, he cannot bear to see her go through this alone. This mom's pain is going to be unbearable! The thoughts that must be running through her mind. I can't get her off my mind. I went into a fitful sleep thinking about her and the boys, dreamed of her and woke up thinking about her. My heart is sooooo heavy for her, grieving for her, praying for her, wanting to hug her. The pain that I feel is too great - how much more is hers??? I don't even know who she is and I feel such a loss for her.

My soul cries within me, O God!!! My heart is anguished! How it hurts with such pain at the loss of the son. Father, how your heart hurt when you lost your son Jesus on that cross and you had to turn your back on him so that he could carry the weight of our sins into the depths of hell so that we could be freed and live forever. My chest is tight, tears coarse down my cheeks and my breathing is rapid. I cannot imagine! O the pain of those players waiting at the school when they heard the news that their teammates would not be joining them. O the horrified screams of the vehicle behind them as they drove by the van before them crumpled and their bodies thrown into the ditch. O God, how much can one endure? Who are we without you?? We need you so bad. I do not understand why things happen this way. But do I need to understand or do I just need to trust in you God, in spite of the difficulties around me.

I always find it so amazing how God entertwines people's lives. My friend Nora had called me last night about something that I needed to call my friend Anne about today. Had Nora not called yesterday, I wouldn't have called Anne today. Anne had been called last night by another friend, Linda and was asked to pray for me and for those involved in the accident. It really hit home for Anne. You see, a few years ago when she was 16, she was involved in a single vehicle rollover and she was the driver. The van was full of young girls, including her best friend and her sister. They were all celebrating one of the girls' birthday that day. The best friend and the sister both died that night. Anne knows what this mother last night is going through - what she will remember the rest of her life. Anne has not been able to go through that dark journey without the Lord on her side. There's no way that she was able to make it out of the pit of guilt, despair and unforgiveness if it hadn't been for God's help.

You know, God knew exactly who I needed to talk to today and He had it all perfectly orchestrated. That's what I love about God. He knows exactly who you need in your life, at just the right time and who will say what you need to hear at that time. God is so good! In spite of the hurt and pain that each day can bring, God is faithful and He is good and He is always there to walk us through difficult times. Oh how can we not but journey together with Him rather than trying to go through life on our own. God never meant for any of us to travel alone in our life - He is always sending people through our lives to travel with us, to help carry the load. He wants nothing more than for us to give our pain and our sorrow to Him to bear and to lean on Him for His strength. Without Him we are nothing - without Him we can do nothing. In spite of the pain, in spite of the burdens of our sins, in spite of the many times we mess up, in spite of the hardships that happen around us, God is there, wanting to walk us through, wanting to give it all to Him to bear. Give it to Him today, won't you? In spite of the darkness of pain and sadness looming around us, waiting to engulf us in it's never ending claws, God is there, wanting to shed His glorious, heavenly light into our lives, waiting for us to throw our arms up in weakness abandonment to draw strength from Him and to give it all to Him to bear. As we cry out, "O God, how much more, I can't bear the pain!" He gives us His Hand, He reaches down through the heavens and carries us under His wings. That is the best place to be, in His arms of comfort and forgiveness. Go to Him, dear one, go to Him today.