A ramble about collaboration and inspiring weakness

This past weekend held the last of five photoshoots for a portfolio building project that will hopefully stretch beyond the class that is assigning it and will turn into at least the foundation for a relatively big forward career jump. I am utterly exhausted. I am also blown away by the kindness of everyone who has made this possible.

So many friends carved time out of their busy schedules and gave their energy and focus to help me with this. I do not take one second of that time for granted. Other friends supplied resources that I would likely not be able to access easily which made elements of this project possible. Other friends faithfully lifted me up in prayer and sent encouragement, the Lord graciously answered those prayers with the amount of energy needed and enough relief from migraine issues to get the work done.

Collaboration is a beautiful thing to me. It is a challenge, but it is also a blessing that I have to rely on the abilities of others to make many of my images. There are times when more solitary processes appeal to me, I love the rare times when I am able to be completely on my own photographing nature, but something about human connection made between people with a camera in between them blows me away every time. In the images made over the last few weeks I can see my friendships, I can see the little nuances that make up parts of who they are as a person.

On the other end of this work sits the collected sum of the experience, and here is what I know: the learning curve becomes ever-clearer, this thing has been a challenge and a humbling reminder of how much further I need to stretch myself. There’s nothing like a rapid-fire busy period of working to expose weakness, but ultimately that is such a good thing as long as I seek to apply it. One of my favorite things about working as an artist is that I can honestly keep learning about it my whole life. There are so many facets, I’ve only found the very tip of the iceberg and that is absolutely awesome. I’m on the tail end of this project but I’m beginning to itch to do more to grow in the areas where I still struggle… after I sleep for awhile, of course.

Blessed Stressed

It’s only the mid-point of the week and it’s only the first day of October, but things have officially gotten chaotic.

The first part of the week found me a bit panicked because of an alarming lack of work, and now there is a mountain of work to do in what feels like a small amount of time. Do you ever find yourself asking the Lord to provide above and beyond and then you find yourself regretting that prayer because He really comes through with it, ALL of it, the following day? Irony, hilarious. I suppose it goes to show for the millionth time that His plans are beyond my own.

So here I sit on the middle day of the week which happens to be the first day of October with another chance to trust the Lord. The other portion of this week’s story is that the two previous days have marked the return of migraine troubles. Up to this point the semester has been almost entirely migraine free, but Monday night was difficult and Tuesday morning was quite painful.Those could be flukes, I could go another handful of months with minimal issues, but there have been little twinges hitting more frequently lately so in the general pattern of things that probably means that the seas are going to get rough.

The one thing that I expect is that the Lord will lead me through whatever comes, whether it will be more slow times or frantic times that seemingly don’t have enough hours in the day.

Took a few minutes to breathe this evening and found some gorgeous light.

There’s something about these in-between moments, somewhere in the middle of the craziness and the perpetual shuffle, when all that you can focus on is the way that the light is bringing out the subtle variations in all of the colors and the way that the breeze is making them dance around each other. These are the magic moments.

The day began with a lost debit card and an epic trip up some stairs

I don’t know what it is about my college campus, but my ability to perform basic functions (such as walking) decreases drastically as soon as I get out of my car. Also, can someone please remind me to never throw my debit card loosely into my bag when my car’s gas tank is registering as very very empty? I apologize to the man that was patiently waiting quite a long time for my spot while I had a panic-induced tirade through my bag.

The good thing is that I don’t have it all together, but the Lord loves and cares for me and graciously reminds me that He does have it all together.

Also, Philippians 3:13-14 is an awesome passage. Meditating on the more significant aspects of that than just embarrassing moments this morning has been refreshing and challenging in the best ways.

"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

I love the moments when art and worship collide

I was talking to one of my dearest friends about this recently. She and I do very different work and on a few occasions we have gotten to use our crafts in tandem, I love watching her work, but what I love most is that we both get to use what we do within our church.

We took some time to reflect on how vastly different types of abilities can become worship to the one Creator and how He is honored when we use whatever abilities He has given us to bless the church body. How cool is that? Honestly sit and think about that for a few moments, it’ll blow your mind. So that person who can play guitar gets to bless the church, that person with the warm smile and open manner who greets you at the door gets to bless the church, that person who loves taking care of children in the nursery gets to bless the church, and that person who is great at fixing the day-to-day things gets to bless the church. It could go on into hundreds of different facets.

The way that art is able to fit into the grand scheme of things always blows me away, and within the last year it has been so encouraging to my soul to see how God is faithful to grow our abilities and bless the work that is made to bless Him. That applies across the board, no matter the ministry, but specifically in my own life it has been the source of resounding encouragement to keep pursuing this crazy process of capturing light called photography.

The fact of the matter is that I would likely give up photography if I got to a point where I truly believed that I could no longer serve God in any way through it. That doesn’t mean that every image that I make is made for the church, just as with any job, sometimes our work ethic and attention to quality are the sole ways that we worship in our work, but if there was no direct outlet I would have a hard time justifying the rest of it. What is the purpose of creating images filled with the complexities of life and emotion and beauty if they never reflect the God who sustains and heals and creates? Visual art generally makes some kind of statement, generally that statement has more to do with the artist’s view of life than anyone else’s view. How empty is the pursuit of art if it never points to Christ? How selfish can it become if the purpose for its creation is never to direct the viewer’s eye to the Lord of all?

There are days when that much needed reality check smacks me like a pile of bricks. 

There are days when I am filled with more motivation and joy than I know how to handle because an opportunity arises to make images specifically to help others worship and meditate on the God who gives me the breath in my lungs. That work is always more fulfilling than anything else that I make, it reaches to a deeper part of me because I know that it isn’t about me. I get to disappear. I get to instead show tiny glimpses of what God has made, flawed by human weakness as my images may be.

In the moments that I am discouraged and struggling I hope that I’ll cling to this truth, that no greater fullness can be found in pursuing anything other than worship of God. I will strive to be mindful of the fact that God can be worshiped in art.