Just Keep Moving

“Just keep moving”…three words said to me as I struggled in boot camp this morning.  When one does not keep the schedule of discipline, it hurts!  We begin to fall off a little.  What if life gets in the way and we let it?   What if during that time we could have done more to keep up even if it wasn’t exactly the same?  “Just keep moving”…words that inspire for more than just that moment.  Words that say…in all of life…we must stay the course!  That is what life is about. Steady progress.  One day at a time; one moment at a time.  Keeping your life moving in the right direction.  Of course, this doesn’t mean we won’t have setbacks.  I believe they are a guarantee!  But what if every day we did something to propel us toward what God has for us?  What if we ignored the fact that we aren’t where we want to be and focused instead on the progress we have made?  What if we decided that we don’t have to have everything now? That it truly is all a journey and not a destination. This is huge for me!  It is permission to take one day at a time and know that I am moving toward the life God intended for me.  What if we said, “Okay, so if I just manage to do this or that today I will have made progress?”  Movement begets movement.  Creativity begets creativity.  What if, rather than tell ourselves we can’t or don’t know how, we try our best?  What if there is something so great just around the corner if we will just keep moving?  What if we decided there is no room for excuses?  What if we tried for the 50th time and it finally all worked out?  What if we took every fear and replaced it with courage and hope?   What if we gave ourselves the grace to fail; the grace to try and see what happens?  What if when our time is over we have no regrets because of what we didn’t try?  Life stops for no one.  There is no pause button. Young or old, if we are still here, we still have purpose.  We must keep taking steps daily to make progress.  We don’t stop aging.  When I get stuck, and I do often, I try to imagine myself in the future.  I imagine myself with all the excuses and I see what that looks like…pain and regret.  I then imagine myself having taken steps to progress and move forward.  I see what that looks like…victory and beauty.  It’s not perfect and it never will be.  That’s okay.  Nothing and no one is perfect.  So, as God propels us forward in this life we must continue to ask ourselves…”What if…we just keep moving?!”

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Finding The Artist In Me

Give me some paper.  Give me a pencil.  Give me a creative thought to explore and record.  Fill me with Jesus to the brim!  Give me a whirlwind of love and imagination to help me soar through my mind noticing all the details of life.  Help me gather the weeds and place them creatively so that they become something good.  Show me how to connect the vines and brush away the moss and make a place for love and hope.  Give me a thought that turns into another thought that turns into another thought that makes me gather up all these thoughts and place them in beauty and happiness for all the world to see and partake.  Give me wisdom and eyes that see and hands that can record what they see.  Give me visions and fill me with the Holy Spirit so that my hands can do the work of the Lord.  Bathe me in your light and show me the light through my camera lens.  Where I will compose the beauty that is yours and yours alone.  Sharing with the world your message and what you have to say through me.  Filter all the bad and pull it out of me and take it far away and never to return.  Paint the world with brushes of compassion and colors of joy and peace.  Erase only the moments that are no longer needed for my journey, but leave even the heartbreaking ones that will move my soul to greater depths.  Find in me a heart that yearns to serve you with my passions. The very passions you created within me that will always stay strong and never leave.  The music in my soul that cries out to you day and night.  The heaviness of a heart that has been shredded, yet still beats strong in the shadow of your love.  A heartbeat that can be heard, filling my ears with the evidence that I am still here to do your will.  That I am still breathing and aspiring to be your servant.  A book that inspires as I read and a book that I write that inspires as the world reads.  A hearty laugh that holds the attention of many, not for my sake but for the joy and release of pain and suffering that it brings because of who you are.  A holiness that shines from the inside where you live and where you hold me all together at a moment’s notice and always.  Believing that your Word is true and all that you want is to bless me and have a relationship with me every day.  Only love can abound such a wonderful life filled with creativity and awareness of time and my maker.  Show me my uniqueness so that I will change the way others live for the better.  The things only I can touch that will change because of the way you made me.  The gift you give is greater than any gift we could imagine.  I breathe.  I cry.  I laugh.  I sigh.  I dance.  I sing.  I am grateful.

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What If?

What if?  What if?  What if?  Two words that can be put together to encourage or to destroy.  I spent a lot of my childhood and early adult years in a “what if” mode.  It was always negative for me.  “What if” I try that and it doesn’t work?  “What if” someone thinks I am terrible at that?  So many times I tried so hard to ignore the world that called.  It was too frightening.  Too scary to take a chance.  But, now things are different.  It seems that after my sister passed away,  I had this huge desire to live.  I guess it is because life is so very fragile and once you lose someone, especially someone so young, you begin to really understand just how fragile life can be.  So, taking risks and learning to live is what I am after.  I am after the “what if” that says, “what if” I am really successful and prosperous?  “What if” I do amazing things in my lifetime that other people only dream of?  “What if” I become everything that God has designed for me to be?  These are the questions that I ask now.  These are the questions that motivate me to be all I could be and more.  They give me courage and help me to stay on the right track.  I have the ability to change things.  I can be limitless.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I am empowered through the Holy Spirit to enjoy life and live it to the fullest.  I server a might God and He is always on my side.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.  I am His daughter.  I am Royalty.  I know I don’t deserve His goodness, but I receive it fully.  If we are just willing to be open and receive what He has for us we will find ourselves so very blessed.  I used to focus on what I deserved.  That was terrible, by the way.  We all deserve nothing.  So, now I focus on the fact that He loves me no matter what.  Whatever I do is no surprise to Him and He is always going to help me.  All I need to do is be willing.  He will lead my paths and I will obey.  He will open up the Heavens and pour out blessing on me.  All I need to do is hold out my arms and open my heart and receive His goodness.  The pastor asked us the other day to hold out our arms and receive.  I look over and my husband has his arms spread as wide as he can.  Now that is thinking big and treating God like He is a mighty God!  All things work for the good for those that love the Lord.  And we do!  So, this is our year!  We thank God in advance for opportunities, creativity, jobs and money.  We wish to be prosperous so that we might share and bless others.  Blessings!

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Saying “Yes”

Lately I have been saying “yes!”  I actually just realized this.  It really wasn’t intentional, although I have read “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes.  Maybe it was just a planted seed.  Great book by the way!  So, I am thinking about photo shoots I have had recently.  Way more than I had this time last year.  Now, not all are paid shoots, but at least I am shooting.  I think, as creatives, we get ourselves in trouble when we think we have mastered something and then we don’t practice our craft.  We don’t explore and see what else is out there.  Maybe we think “well, I should be getting paid for that so I am not going to do it.”  And, sometimes, that is true.  I am certainly not saying we should work for free.  What I am saying is that we should take every opportunity to make ourselves more knowledgeable and therefore more sought after.  Working on personal projects is not a good way to make money up front, but in the end it will all add up to money if we stay the course.  We must say “yes” to some things that aren’t the “highlight” of our career.  Every job/career has aspects that are not what we want to do, but what we must do.  It is just part of the job.  So, recently, I have said “yes” to changing the way I do things.  “Yes” to doing contract work for someone else.  “Yes” to being willing to just bless someone with the gifts I have been given.  They aren’t mine anyway and they are not for me.  They are only there for me to use to bless someone else.  And…I get to do what I love and bless others.  It is a win-win!  So, I am saying “yes” in 2017.  I am saying “yes” to opportunity, even if it isn’t perfect.  Especially if it isn’t perfect.  Perfection will never come in this earthly life, so I don’t wish to pursue it anymore.  I wish to pursue being the very best that I can be.  I wish to pursue happiness and joy and blessing others.  I choose to give my all in every situation and at the end of the day to be proud of what I have accomplished.  Trying for perfection has never done anything for me except hold me back, crowd me with fear and overwhelm me.  So, when opportunity arises and I see room for growth and blessing, chances are I am going to say “yes!”   I truly believe that we must step out on faith before we will see any of our dreams to fruition.  I believe that we must believe that we can have the favor and the blessings that God has in store for us.  He only asks that we be willing.  He has never asked for us to be perfect.  He knows that is not possible.  He will take the weak and He will make them strong, because of His might and power.  Not because of ours.  So, I ask you to join me!  What will you say “yes” to this year?!  Blessings!

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Listen Up

Today my brother has come into town with his wife. They are looking at houses and will be moving here within the next seven months.  I am elated and thrilled beyond measure!  They have not lived here at all. Ever. He was in the Army and is now a Retired Lieutenant Colonel and once they got married they moved many places, but never here.  So, they will be joining us for dinner tonight and the 13th is my brother’s birthday.   We will be dining at a restaurant that has been a family favorite for years.  Since I was a little girl!  As wonderful as this place is, it is always a bit bittersweet to dine there.  My father, mother and sister have all moved to Heaven and now it is just my brother and I left.  Along with our families, of course. Still feels very odd and daunting at times.  This morning I went to the store to get my brother a birthday card so I would have it for tonight.  I found the perfect card!  It was a laugh out loud moment!  I literally laughed every time I looked at the card as I made my way around the store to gather a few items.  Twinkies for sure.  One of my brother’s favorite treats!  As I made my way to the counter to check out, I just knew I needed to share the card with the employee that was working the counter.  I just knew I would brighten her day!  As she began to ring up items, I laughed a little and said “You just have to see this card!”  I explained that it was for my brother and that his birthday is soon.  I explained that he is quite a bit older than me and I just had to zing him!  Her face instantly changed.  She kept quiet though, read the card and laughed a tiny bit.  I explained to her that we had lost our sister this last year…and before I could finish she said “I lost my brother five years ago on February 6th.  He was misdiagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, that turned out to be cancer.”  I will be honest, my first instinct was…this was my story.  I was telling you about us.  People do this to me all the time.  And, then I realized, I do this, too!  I am so interested in my story sometimes, I forget that everyone has a story.  And to this lady, her story was so fresh at the moment.  Granted her brother had been gone five years and my sister and dad have been gone just months.  But the timing was everything.  Her brother passed on February 6th.  So, to her, this was so fresh in her mind.  Every year I am sure she thinks about her brother and the tragedy of losing someone so young and so needlessly to a misdiagnosis.  So, I listened to the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes that is what we just have to do.  I “listened up.”  Because sometimes what we have to say, even though just as important, does not need to be said at the time we think we need to say it.  So, listen I did.  And I was glad.  I was glad that she had a moment to tell her story.  To tell her side of life as it was effecting her at the moment.  Her wounds were not as fresh, but they were as powerful.  Loss is a hard thing for all and if we can just share in someone else’s grief for just a brief time, we will find healing in our own.

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Photographing a One Year Old

133a4744rsToday’s prompt is about teaching something.  Anything.  So here goes.  There is a lot to be said for photographing a one year old.  They come.  They go.  They turn their back on you.  They are hilarious!  They are happy.  They are cranky.  Oh…and then, they are happy again! I have been very fortunate to have amazing little ones to photograph who do really well in front of the camera.  Let’s take Andrew, for example.  Today I photographed Andrew.  Now I did this session in my home studio with a hand-painted canvas.  My first thought was to use the wood floor and lift the canvas so that it was just hovering at the edge of the floor.  But, I knew from experience that my chances of getting something more seamless and efficient for crawling was going to be to lower the backdrop and make a place for little Andrew to play.  So, that is what we did.  His nana helped to move him around and gave him props and called his name to get his attention while I shot the portraits.   Some of the portraits came straight out of the camera amazing.  And then, there are those that are in need of serious help.  Lighting is good.  Focus is good.   Image is off the backdrop somewhat.  Okay with me.  I know how to fix this. This may possibly require a little cropping.  It also may require stretching the edges of the frame so that all the items in my living room no longer show, just the backdrop.  This is fairly easy to do in Photoshop.  You can use the Marquee tool and copy an area of the backdrop that is in good condition.  Then paste it where it is.  Then you will use the Move tool and stretch the canvas as far as you need to take care of covering up what is showing at the borders.  This works really well when you have a good amount of space to work with.  If you do not and your subject is too close to the border area, then you will need to freeze your subject before stretching the edges.  Use the Marquee Tool to place a box around your subject.  Then go to the Select Tab at the top and select Inverse.  Then, using your Move Tool again you can stretch the outer borders without effecting your subject at all.  This takes some practice, but is relatively easy.  You may also need to check to make sure you don’t have an obvious line.  If you do, then you will need to clone that out.  Easy enough to do.  So, that being said, there are many things to learn and practice when photographing a one year old.  Until you do it over and over again it will be difficult to get really good at it.  And of course, they are all different.  And I think it is also how well they know you.  If you have photographed them before, it is easier.  If you have never met them, then I would suggest getting together with the family before the session so that the child can see you and at least know that you are not a complete stranger.  This will help to build a little bit of a relationship before the big day.  And…if that doesn’t work out, no worries.  Just make sure to let the little one be who they are.  They will be much happier if they are getting direction from one person, not many and not all the time.  I know I get confused when I have four people calling my name at once!  Happy Shooting!

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Determined

The last few days have been a little difficult. I have been tired and when I am tired the doubt, worry and sometimes sadness have a way of creeping in.  I suppose it is just like when our immune system is down and we get sick.  We have compromised something and have fallen prey to the negative.  I know what to do in these times and sometimes I even know how I got there.  For one, I am out of Vitamin D3.  I have yet to make it to the store to get some, and therefore I will take a system hit for that.  Tomorrow I shall take care of that.  Two, I have not been praying as much as I would like and therefore my focus is off.  The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2 …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  So, I suppose my eyes have wandered off from time to time.  It’s easy to do, for me anyway, because when things seem to be going well I seem to get comfortable.  I tend to go about my way and even though I pray during the day, the prayers are not as intentional if all is going well.  I think that is pretty human, so I try not to beat myself up for that.  I know He wouldn’t.  I am determined, however, to be successful in every area of my life.  To me success does not mean that I have to be the best at something.  It doesn’t mean that I have to be several places at once.  Many times it means that I just be still.  That I just talk to God and hear from Him without going about my way or giving Him my list of demands for the day.  To me, it means that I start and finish with Him.  I give Him all of me and do the very best that I can.  And at the end of the day, He has taken care of the rest.  He is more determined than I that I finish the race He has set before me.  He is always for me and never against me.  No matter where I go or what I do, He loved me first and will always love me.  This I am 100% certain.  He has seen me through some very crazy times.  He has never let me down and He never will.  Every day I want to live for Him and be under His care of love for I know that is where I belong.  Someone once said, “Change Your Thoughts and You Change the World.”  Great advice and it definitely will help take care of those areas of doubt, worry and sadness that try to invade the recesses of my mind from time to time.  Fixing my eyes on Jesus.  That is all I need.

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Learning Is A Life Long Privilege

I have always loved to learn.  In school, I was the kid that was excited about homework.  Not always, of course, but most of the time.  I loved to write and learn and read.  When it was time to read a book, oh how that was my favorite!  It really still is.  Just the mention of the word “book” and something inside me jumps to attention.  I am so blessed and so grateful that I can read.  I know there are many out there that cannot and my heart aches for them as I know what they are missing.  Not only are they missing reading about something interesting or fun or exciting, but they are always missing a way of learning.  As I stay along the path of photography that I am on, I find that there is never a moment when I am not learning something.  I know this may sound crazy, but there was a time when I thought that since photography is my passion that it should come easy to me.  That once I learned the basics, I would be set.  Now don’t get me wrong, this was not out of laziness.  And it was certainly not out of a desire to not learn.  That has never really been a thought for me.  It just seemed that something that I am so passionate about should come more natural.  I am finding, that is not the case. I have some natural tendencies; like capturing moments and the personality of my clients.  I am told that I am able to “capture who they really are.”  This, to me, is the highest compliment.  I know it is God in me that makes this happen.  I know I could never do this on my own.  But, that being said, I have to be a willing spirit.  I must do my part.  The further I move into my photography career the more I desire to learn.  I see work that I would love to emulate.   For a while I was striving to become these other artists.  I wanted to shoot just like “so and so.”  I would compare myself and always fall short.  Which, unfortunately, would cause some momentary depression and lack of motivation.  Why continue?  I will never be that good?  If only I could do this or that, I too would make it to the top.  Now I know that is not the path for me.  We all can learn from others no matter what the career path is, but there is a huge difference in comparison and inspiration.  Comparison will only end in destroying the dream God has given us.  We will never measure up to someone else.  We are not supposed to.  We are uniquely gifted.  We are the only ones that hold the unique gifting that God has given us alone.  It may be similar to others, but will never truly hold the same place.  Inspiration, on the other hand, will lead us toward our dreams.  It will give us motivation and insight where maybe it was lacking.  Learning is a life long privilege.  It will lead us to paths we never knew existed.  No matter how young or how old we may be, we can always learn something everyday.  When we cease to learn, we cease to grow.  When we cease to grow, we can’t possibly give to others that which we were intended to give.  Learning…I am in it for life!

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Almost There

Is there really such a thing as “almost there?”  I don’t think so. I know that we have goals that are set; some short-term and some long-term. Some may even be for an extended term.  We measure these goals so that we can see our progress.  Fair enough.  But, when all is said and done and we have completed a goal, most of the time one goal leads to another. Another level, once completed, will take us yet to another level.  So as I read a post today that said we are “almost there” I read that to mean a beginning and not an end.  A whole new chance to go further.  To reach new levels.  To start again or just continue on the path that will make our life amazing.  Each step and each level will bring new joy.  And, definitely new challenges.  So, as this assignment of writing 500 words for 31 days gets close to that 31 day mark, I am excited.  I am not excited that I am “almost there”, but excited because I have made it to a new level with each day that I wrote.  Even on the one day that I wrote under 500 words.  In my mind, that day counts as well.  Why?  Because it still brought me closer to “almost there.”  It was not on purpose.  I certainly meant to fulfill the entire “deal”, but I am still in the race.  The race is only with me, so there is no one to complain if I keep moving or if I don’t.  There is no one to say “you missed 21 words on one day.”  Just me.  Just me saying, “it’s okay, life happens and you have done well!”  Just me making the rules that I follow and the outcome I will achieve.  To last 21 days doing something new is an amazing feat in itself.  It carries with it a discipline I often times do not have.  What have I learned?  I have learned that I can do this.  I have learned that I want to do this.  This is pleasing to my soul.  It helps me to focus and provides me something to be proud of at the end of the day.  It says to me that I have made a choice every day to make a difference in my life.  It also says that by making a difference in my own life I can make a difference in other people’s lives.  And sometimes it is when we least expect it.  Yesterday I wanted to just run from a project.  A sinking feeling grew in the pit of my stomach as I tried to tackle this project.  I didn’t clearly understand how to orchestrate it and was overwhelmed almost from the beginning.  But then, after I finished the project, even though it didn’t go perfectly, I was better informed.  I knew more than before I started and I know what to do and what not to do now.  And, as a bonus, I was able to help someone else who was having similar issues.  Definitely a reason to continue on!  I thank God that He allows me to continue on this journey called life and I give Him all the glory.  I know I can do nothing without Him, but with Him all things are possible.  Blessings!

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Breaking Through The Barrier

Today I faced some challenges.  Not anything major I suppose to most people, but major for me.  I began with a stride in my step and a happy outlook, only to be confused and worried by the project at hand.  It this wasn’t that difficult of a project, but somehow it seemed to cause a stirring in me.  It caused me some mental anguish and some despair.  I would tell you the project, but you might stop reading right here.  So, to save face and to keep you from leaving due to silliness, I will refrain from telling you.  This project was something I had never done before by myself.  I had done this many years ago and had since forgotten everything I had learned.  So, I bought all of the necessary supplies and headed home to tackle this project. Everything in me wanted to “do this myself!”  I read the directions and was still confused. So, I read them out loud.  Sometimes that helps.  This time it did not help much.  So, with a humble heart I incorporated the help of my husband.  We decided that trying to find an online video would probably be the best way to do it.  Why had I not thought of that.  I do that all the time.  Any, I found my video and things became more clear.  When I went into action, things became even more clear.  That’s the way it generally works, I find.  The problem was…I wanted to run!  I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and a desire to just not do it.  Wow!  Fear is so powerful if we let it be.  I kept reminding myself that I had two choices.  I could throw out the anchor and stop the whole process, which in turn would definitely limit what I was trying to accomplish.  Or, I could proceed and take a chance.  If it didn’t work out then I would learn something and then have another two choices to make.  Stop or try again.  If I stopped, well at least I had tried.  If I tried again, well at least I had learned something the first time and then my odds would have increased significantly.  Some might think it crazy that something like this could wreak such havoc.  Perfectionism is a beast.  It pulls at you and tells you that you must not even try because you will never get it right.  It tells you that the competition is overwhelming and what you have to offer is not needed.  But, in reality, that could not be further from the truth.  The truth is that I will never get better if I don’t try.  I will never know what I could do if I don’t take a chance.  I will never be happy with myself if I give up.  The truth is God loves me uniquely.  I am one of a kind and what I have to offer this world is not the same as what anyone else has to offer.  This makes me extremely valuable.  I am driven by a need to be the very best I can be.  So I will and I must chip through that barrier.  One day at a time.  One situation at a time.  God’s grace is new every day.  All I can focus on is that day and that time.  Confidence grows with time and with doing.  Pretty soon, these moments will be laughable and I will be at a whole new level.  To that I say “Amen!  Carry on!”

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