Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words

I recently started taking a photography class at a local college. Last week Monday June 5th was the very first class. We were asked to bring a photo the following week that is important to us. Immediately I knew which photo I wanted to use. I've debated with myself this past week whether or not I should actually use the photo that first came to mind. I thought about taking an easier route, but then I thought sometimes the most meaningful things are said and done when we take the harder path. When it came down to it I decided to go with my first instincts, little did I know the impact it would have.

I sat there last night waiting my turn to show my photo and explain its meaning. Suddenly I became nervous, shaky even. I could feel my heart beating away as if it were trying to escape my body. I prayed for strength.

Finally it was my turn.

The professor walked up to me and took the photo from my trembling hands. I managed to say ''I'm going to try really hard not to cry'' because in that moment when I had to actually explain the photo in front of 20+ strangers I felt all of the emotions that I see and remember when I look at this particular photograph hit me like a ton of bricks.

He told me it was okay, I didn't have to say anything if I didn't want to. That's too easy, I've never taken the easy path for anything. He walked around with my photo in his hand, showing it to each face in the room one by one.

He looked at me and then he looked at everyone else. He said ''This is the power of a photograph''

Finally I managed to speak, it wasn't what I had wanted to say but it got the point across.

I talked about how my brother wanted to visit Montana his entire life, but never got to make it there. I told them of the promise I made the day he died, and how I went there for him. And that this is one of many photos I took like this. Photography is powerful, it captures moments, small fractions of our lives, and each photo tells a story. Not every story is filled with laughter, but that doesn't mean they can't have a powerful impact on someone.

He then thanked me, and I could tell he himself was a little emotional. Then he thanked me for sharing my photo again. He said he understands the special meaning of it because he recently lost someone important to him.

For me this photo reminds me of so many things. They always say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that quote rings so true for me especially in this particular photo. It reminds me of the hundreds of memories I have of my brother. It reminds me of all the hours I worked to save and plan on this trip to Montana. It reminds me of a promise kept, and a promise fulfilled. It reminds me of all the emotions that rushed over me when I finally made it to Montana. It also reminds me of all the heartache I experienced and still experience following his death.  

Photography is important to me, and always has been. The older I get the less it's about just having photos and more about preserving memories, even the heartbreaking ones. Take photos of the good days, but also take photos of the powerful, emotional and spiritual experience's in life because they too are important because they're part of what shapes us.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

We aren't truly living until we know HIM

Little did I know that when we moved here to Semmes I would become such great friends with our neighbor until the day we first met and had a conversation, realizing then we had similar interests. We have shared so many good times together, we have made such amazing memories. We have cried together, we've been there for each other during hard times, we have laughed together.  

I've always believed God places people in our lives for a reason. Sometimes the reason is obvious. Sometimes we don't truly grasp the reason until years down the road when we don't even have contact with that person anymore, or even remember their name and have an ''aha'' moment. Sometimes people are sent to hurt us, to make us cherish and appreciate those who love us maybe just a little more. Some come into our lives and make such a positive impact that they couldn't possibly be forgotten. God placed her in my life to lead me to the path he wanted me to take.

One day she invited us to her church. I didn't realize until today what an impact she would make in my life.  I was more than happy to attend church with her. I was excited! I cried throughout the service. It felt so good to worship HIM.

This weekend was all planned out, or so I thought. I was going camping with my children, and my sons Cub Scout pack. It was rained out. I had already said to myself earlier in the week that I really wanted to go to church Sunday morning, but knew that would be unlikely due to the camping trip. I had even thought about leaving camp early Sunday morning in order to go home and get ready for church. Then came the rain, and my sons Cub master cancelled the campout.  I had no idea in what a powerful way God was working in my life for this day to fall into place. He was calling  upon me, and my heart was listening.

Today I went to church, as I have so many  times before. I took my children upstairs and signed them in. Walking away to go downstairs I could hear my child carrying out a conversation most adults have never even had. There he is 9 years old, wanting to commit his life to the Lord, telling one of the youth directors he wants to be Baptized about a week after his tenth birthday. His tenth birthday is only days away.

I sat there in my row, next to my friend, and her in-laws and her parents sitting on the other side of the room. All people I am blessed to know. I listened to the lyrics of the songs, I took notes during the service, like I have done for a long time. Something felt different. God was calling on me today!

How can I be the mother God wants me to be? How can I become the woman God wants me to be? How can I become the woman I desired to be for so many years? I've always believed and had faith but still I'm not perfect, we all sin and I'm no exception to that. The older I get the closer to God I want to become. I've been to church and been rejected by people who don't know my heart.
When the service was coming to an end they asked if there was anyone who wanted to accept Jesus into their heart to come forward. I have heard those words so many times before and wanted to go up and accept Jesus into my heart, and never did. Why? I'm not really sure.

Today was different.

God knows my heart, he knows all of the things I praise him for. He knows my every flaw and my every mistake, and my sins. Still he was calling on me. HIS love for each one of us is unconditional. With my friend by my side I walked to the front of the sanctuary I was so overwhelmed in the best way possible and tears of joy flowed down my face. I was overwhelmed with God's love. I sobbed tears of joy. Words can't describe the love I felt today. So many people wrapped their arms around me and told me they loved me and were happy for me. Some of them I didn't even know. The amount of love  and support I received was overwhelming. That type of love is how we were intended to live, rejoice in each others triumphs, support each other when we are down. Just love each other. This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life, and I can't wait to see where it leads me.         

Today May 21st, 2017 is a day I'll always remember.
We aren't truly living until we know HIM.