Sunday, April 28, 2013

Week 1: A few favorite photos

It's been a week of me rediscovering a love of photojournalism as I started my adventure as the new managing editor for The Grove Sun.

I keep looking at photo assignments and thinking "WWMG" or "What Would Mike Gullett" do....and actually thinking how would Steve Fairchild, John Hacker and Chris Cox also shoot the event.

All of these guys are photographers I've had the privilege to watch and learn from since I started my journalism journey in 1990.

All four approach photojournalism in a slightly different and non-traditional way - and impacted how I see life through a camera lens - and for that, I'm forever grateful.

This week I shot photos at prom (quite fun) and at an extension event for younger elementary students.

Here are a few of my favorites from prom.

I really tried to capture that special first dance moment of the royal couple - while portraying the feel of the entire event.

This was my next favorite one because I loved the action of the games and just how the couple interacted with each other. I tried this shot from a variety of angles and well, this was my favorite of all of the attempts.

This is my other favorite. I hung out quite a while to get it. I wanted to capture the scene of the "candy volunteer" passing out a treat to a party goer.

The other fun pics came from the Farm to You event. On the outset it could seem boring - just a group of speakers talking to kids. However, I think I caught a couple of unique moments - looking beyond the "normal moment."

The first one took place in the "mouth" as students learned about brushing and flossing. I thought framing the pic with teeth and lips showing gave it a unique perspective.

During that station the kids got a chance to "floss" teeth. I thought this showed the kids really getting into it. I wish I could have gotten a bit lower (and the little boy might have had his face up a wee bit more) but regardless, it was a decent shot.

So there you have it. My favorite pics from the week of April 22, 2013.

I'll try to post a few of my select pics each weekend.

Another fun way to share my #lifeofaneditor.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bits & Pieces: Meet The New Editor

“You’re moving where?” is the question I’ve answered most in the last two weeks, since accepting the position as managing editor for the Grove Sun.

After hearing my answer — in the corner of northeast Oklahoma, roughly an hour or so from Joplin, Mo., Rogers, Ark., and Tulsa, Okla. — the next question that followed typically was “so how far is it to Starbucks?” Oh, my friends know me so well — judging by the laughter that would follow.

(For the record, I had a great latte at Cafe Yum on Wednesday that could give Starbucks a run for its money, and the coffee at Daylight Donuts is pretty sweet as well.)

The last two weeks have been a blur of activity — think warp speed — as I’ve accepted this new opportunity, packed up my life in Little Rock and found an apartment here in Grove.

In the midst of unpacking, I even found time to hang out at prom on Saturday night and take a few pictures — which frankly, was a pleasant diversion.

So I thought I’d use this first column to simply answer a few questions I’m sure you’re thinking.

Why the Grove Sun?
This position gives me a chance to jump back into the newsroom and pursue two things I am passionate about — writing and photography. I love community journalism and know how a strong paper can be an asset to its residents.

I’ll be honest and say, that moving to Grove puts me closer to 90 percent of my friends and family (with the exception of those who live in Little Rock), so that’s definitely a huge plus.

I’m a “Joplin, Mo., Metro” girl. I grew up on a dairy (now beef and horse) farm equal distance from Carthage, Diamond and Joplin. I went to school in Diamond, church in Carthage and college in Joplin — and worked in newspapers throughout southwest Missouri.

My parents and brother still live on the farm. I have a nephew, Collin, and a niece, Taylor. I also have several “adopted” kidlets (children of friends) in my life who call me Aunt Kaylea, including the “Palmer Five” and more. This move puts me closer to most of them, but I promise not to bore you with too many pictures.

So you have this seminary degree...
Yes, I went to seminary. It was the best four years of my life. To say it was life changing would almost be an understatement.

I went to seminary to pursue a career in writing for the church. Along the way, I fell in love with working with students — youth first, then children. Since 2007, I’ve worked for two churches within the Arkansas United Methodist conference as a children’s pastor.

Does this mean I’ll cover religious stuff for the paper? Yes. But frankly, I’ll cover it, just like I would cover school, government and anything else that comes across my desk that is newsworthy — with a mixture of justice and mercy.

What’s up with the “ma’am” and “sir” bit?
Remember, I’ve been working with children in the “south” — their lessons in manners rubbed off. So don’t be surprised if I call you sir or ma’am. It just kind of rolls off the tongue now. 

(And yes, I’ll probably answer to Miss Kaylea...that, too, is another southern habit that will be hard to break.)

So what’s next?
Honestly, I’m open to meeting people around Grove, and getting to know the city and northeast Oklahoma. I’ve already started making the rounds, introducing myself.

If you see me around town, feel free to say hi. If you have a story idea or a suggestion or two, feel free to email me at or catch me in person. You can even leave me a message on the Grove Sun’s Facebook page.

Oh yeah, one other thing. Please don’t give me directions to something like I’ve lived here all my life — I’ll just end up lost, and that will just give my friends more to laugh about on Facebook.

Kaylea M. Hutson is the managing editor of The Grove Sun. She can be reached at or 918-786-2228. This column originally appeared in the April 26, 2013 issue of The Grove Sun

Life As An Editor

Well, I've survived.

If you've been following me on twitter, or for friends on Facebook, you may have seen my posts labeled #lifeofaneditor (life of an editor).

That's my new role in life.

On Monday, I became the new managing editor of The Grove Sun, in Grove, Okla.

In the last week (if you think of the week starting last Friday), I've moved my entire life from Little Rock, unpacked enough to get me started, covered prom on my second night in town and hit the ground running on Monday.

Two issues of the newspaper (we publish on Tuesday and Friday) and a Friday magazine insert, this week is finished.

Well, as I type this, I'm already at work on Tuesday's issue - and trying to get my sea legs under me.

But it's good.

I can see lots of fodder for my column - the first one will be posted soon. I've been warmly welcomed by some, and looked at curiously by others.

I told someone I heard the new managing editor (aka me) is a bit of a maverick - but that's not the best definition. I think I'm probably better described as an Frankly,  an enigma - a little bit of a curiosity, and a bit puzzling.

In the meantime - I thought I'd share the front pages from my first two issues - and the page of prom pictures.

Ready or not, here I am. The new managing editor of The Grove Sun. Looking forward to this new chapter in life. It's definitely going to be a fun ride.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Scraps of Life: Plant. Grow. Serve.

Note: this column appeared in the March issue of Christian Family Living, a new publication in Little Rock. Http://

Plow your fields, scatter seeds of justice, and harvest faithfulness. Worship me, the Lord, and I will send my saving power down like rain.” - Hosea 12:10 (CEV)

Spring flowers are blooming and we’re being bombarded with adds full of Easter bunnies, candies and more.

Let’s face it, if you are like me, you can’t walk through a check-out line at “the big box store” without seeing (and thus purchasing and eating) at least one peanut butter egg.

So it’s probably understandable if your dreams are filled with visions of jelly beans rather than spiritual stuff during this time of year.

But Easter is more than bunnies, chicks and beans. It’s a celebration of new life.

It’s the day we remember how Jesus gave us ultimate gift and sacrifice, so that we could have everlasting life.

His death on Good Friday and resurrection three days later shows us how he lived out his promise “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” (John 11:25 NLT).

So amid the bunnies and eggs, how do you keep your focus turned toward Jesus, and less on candy-filled eggs.

Here’s a three-minute retreat you can try at home (or even in the carpool lane) to help you adjust your spiritual perspective.

Start by reading Hosea 12:10.
Plow your fields, scatter seeds of justice, and harvest faithfulness. Worship me, the Lord, and I will send my saving power down like rain.” - Hosea 12:10 (CEV)

1) Plow your fields.
What does your “field” aka, work or home look like? Is it overflowing with toys and endless carpool trips to soccer practice. Or is your smart phone “blowing up” with to-dos, reminders and emails?

Think about how God could use you now, in this specific time and place, to serve Him.

2) Scatter seeds of justice….harvest faithfulness.
What issues are you passionate about? What ministry or faith-based non-profit could you bless with your time, talents or even financial gifts?

If you have children, what projects or activities could you do with them – to help nurture a passion for service in their lives?

3) Worship me.
Think about your best friend – and how much you talk to her (or him). You probably tell your best friend your joys and sorrows, your dreams and fears, your plans and stumbling blocks. Basically, you tell your friend EVERYTHING.

God wants to have that kind of relationship with you – and know everything about you. So take a minute today to simply talk to God. Talking can lead to worship – even in the carpool line.

Refocusing your spiritual life is pretty simple. Be aware of how God is present, in your life today.

Hopefully the next time you see a peanut butter egg in the aisle, it will remind you to stop and look for Jesus in the midst of the Easter hype.

Action Step: Here are a few things you could do to help you gain a new focus:

• Take time out to pray each day. Constantly and consistently talk to God.

• Download a Bible app (I love YouVersion) and choose a reading plan that will work for your life.

• Designate one night a week for family time – eat dinner together, play a game. What you do doesn’t matter as much as DOING something together, as a family.

• Disconnect from the world. Step away from the screens and do something that nurtures your creative side. Take a painting class. Read a book. Go for a hike. Take your kids to the park and fly a kite.

• Find a way to serve others. Volunteer for a non-profit like The Arkansas Rice Depot or Heifer International. Bake some cookies for the families at Our House. Visit someone living in a nursing home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 8, 2013


As I posted on Facebook earlier today:

I can officially announce that I have accepted the position as Editor of the Grove Sun, a small newspaper operated by American Consolidated Media. I will move to Oklahoma within the next two weeks - to start on April 29. (

Thank you to everyone who has been an encouragement to me, in the last month. Know that I accept this position truly believing this this is door God is opening for the next stage in my life.

This opportunity gives me a chance to do two things I'm passionate about - writing and photography. I've worked with some amazing community journalists in the past - and will have them "talking" in my ear as I set out on this new journey.

For those who have asked about the "Road to Deacon," my involvement in Destination: Mission and other future ministry opportunities, I can only say that no door is closed - and I'm making each decision as it comes.

For now, I think the verse that sums up my future is from Micah 6:8: "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (NIV)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, April 5, 2013

Blog Tour: Taylor's Gift (Review)

Some books inspire you, others simply take your breath away with the power of the words found inside the pages.

This is one book that does both.

Taylor's Gift: A Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope retells the story behind the tragic death of Taylor Storch, and her parents efforts to turn a family tragedy into a national conversation about organ donation.

With the help of a co-author, Jennifer Schuchmann, the Storches recount their story - from the skiing accident which led to Taylor's death, to the development of the foundation which bears Taylor's name, to meeting three (and talking to the mom of the fourth) of the five organ recipients.

Along the way, you see how family members and friends reached out to the Storches to help them navigate the sorrow of a daughter dying too soon.

The book is powerful, not only because of the way the family's grief is woven into the narrative, but also because it shows their vulnerability and honesty as they tried to find meaning and purpose after Taylor's death.

Frankly, the book's strength also lies in the way it recounts how the Storches relied on their faith in God to get them through the layers of grief.

Not only does this book introduce readers to the foundation that bears Taylor's name, but it also highlights the impact the organ donation made - by telling the story of four of the five recipients.

The purpose of Taylor's Gift Foundation is to "regift life, renew health, and restore families." Hopefully people will read this book and find their way to or and learn how they can make a difference through organ donation.

This is a strong memoir. I'm glad I picked it up to review. While it was hard to read at times - the grief is intense - it was worth it.

I'll be honest, I was also blown away when I realized that a couple I know - who have walked their own path of grief - appeared in the narrative, playing a huge role in helping the Storches learn how to navigate the loss of Taylor.

In a way, seeing familiar names woven into the story pulled me into the pages in a deeper way.

Ultimately, I give this memoir a solid four and a half out of five. It will challenge you to think about organ donation as a way to "outlive yourself" - and help others.

More About The Book
How does a family go on when they lose their precious 13 year old daughter to a tragic accident? In Taylor’s Hope, the Storches share their story of finding hope in God and watching him bring good, even during the darkest time. Taylor's Gift shows how Todd and Tara allowed the loss of their daughter to bring life to five other people through organ donation, and how they have inspired countless others.

More About The Authors

Todd Storch
After the death of his daughter, Todd Storch left a successful career in media consulting to pursue his God-given passion to promote organ donation. As co-founder of Taylor's Gift Foundation, Todd manages the day-to-day operations.
In less than two years, Todd has spoken to nearly 10,000 people. Through the foundation's efforts, he has contributed to the certification of nearly 2,000,000 organ donors in Texas and over 12,000,000 nationally.
Todd has more than twenty years of experience as a senior executive in radio and digital media sales, and extensive experience helping companies build their digital and interactive divisions.

Tara Storch
Tara Storch is an award-winning sales and marketing professional, an entrepreneur, and a community leader, but most importantly she is a wife to Todd and a mom to Ryan and Peyton.
Along with her husband, Todd, she cofounded Taylor's Gift Foundation to increase organ donation to "regift life, renew health, and restore families."
She and her husband have shared their story on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and other national media.

Online Resources

Find out more about the book here.
Visit Taylor's Gift Online

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Blog Tour: The Action Bible & Devotional (Review)

Every once and a while, something falls into my review pile that well, blow me away.

The Action Bible and the Action Bible Devotional are amazing.

The graphic art - and trust me, it is art - was created by Sergio Cariello, an artist who has worked for DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

Cariello's talent simply shines on the pages of both books. The artistry can match any graphic novel offering out there. It's solid, professional and classy. The writing is just a solid.

This is a Bible that is cool. It gives boys (and girls) who like comics a Bible they can sink their teeth into in a new way.

I've shown both the Bible and the devotional book to families I've worked with as a children's pastor. They love it. Knowing that boys - and parents alike - think this line is solid says even more to me. It has been especially popular with younger- and mid-elementary students.

Knowing that boys want to share the book with each other, is another huge plus in my book. (As shown in an impromptu sit in the hallway discussion between two young boys at church).

I think David C. Cook, the publisher, has hit a home room with these offerings.

What sets the devotional apart, is that it not only includes the artwork from the Action Bible, but it also helps break the story down into five or six steps, to give the reader a chance to dive into it through a variety of methods.

The story of Ruth and Boaz for example, pulls out a key verse, includes a short devo (X-Ray Vision) to relate it to present day life. The other steps help students not only apply it to their life today, but also take action steps to live out the meaning of the text. There's also room to answer questions (aka do a bit of journaling) to help make the process concrete.

In all, I give these resources a solid five out of five. (A rare rating).

I think if you are an adult, looking for a resource that introduces the Bible in a solid, kid-friendly way, then this is what you need.

Honestly, if you are an adult who likes graphic novels, this might give you something to think about - to help you see the Bible in a unique way.

More About It
The Action Bible Devotional
(From The Publishers) Explore a life of adventure with God. Looking for adventure? With a week’s worth of activities for each Bible story, this one-year devotional gives you real-life ways to live out God’s spiritual adventure every day. Each week’s story includes: Key Verse (a highlight from the story you just read), X-Ray Vision (thoughts to connect the story with your life), Your Mission (three ideas to put the themes into action), Your Debrief (three questions to spark some brain cells), Mission Accomplished (your place to make notes). It’s all about faith in action as you dive into life knowing God is with you. So get ready to listen, draw, doodle, create, pray, and discover. The adventure awaits!

The Action Bible 
(From The Publisher)
Here’s the most complete picture Bible ever! And it features a captivating, up-to-date artwork style—making it the perfect Bible for today’s visually focused culture.

The Action Bible presents 215 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easier to follow the Bible’s historical flow—and reinforcing the build-up to its thrilling climax.

The stories in The Action Bible communicate clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic images offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries.

Brazilian artist Sergio Cariello has created attention-holding illustrations marked by rich coloring, dramatic shading and lighting, bold and energetic designs, and emotionally charged figures.

Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world’s most awesome story.

Online Resources:
The Action Bible Website
Buy the Action Bible at Amazon
Buy the Action Devotional At Amazon

Note: As a freelance journalist, and children's pastor, I was provided a copy of the Action Bible New Testament & The Action Bible Devotional by the publisher. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

Celebrating life

It's the Thursday of the first week of Easter (yep, Eastertide last another 45 days). It's a good time to think about life and more.

I love this quote I found recently by Emily Dickinson "I dwell in possibilities."

Possibilities. Or in Easter terms - New Life.

What new things will arrive with the coming of spring? Can you imagine (my word for 2013) what the future might hold if we, as Emily Dickinson eluded to, step into what life could be?

It's fun (and a wee bit scary) to think about all things new. Sometimes the things of yesterday hold us back. Trapping us from even dwelling in today, let alone the future.

But just imagine what could happen if embraced the gifts given to us by God during this Easter season.

Who knows, maybe we'd do a bit more celebrating of life, and a little less complaining. Maybe we would find joy. And just maybe it would be amazing.

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