Photography has been a transforming journey for me, but it is so much richer than just a love for my camera and captured memories. For some people a camera simply snaps a picture, but for others it somehow captures and expresses their experience of the world around them. It speaks to me of depths that words cannot convey. It touches my soul and utters truths about God, art, and the beauty He has created. In some strange way I feel so very alive and connected to God capturing His beauties with a camera in my hand and creating with a mouse at my fingertips.
It didn't start with a camera and a mouse, though.
I want to tell you a story. It may not sound like anything profound, but it most certainly was in my life. It was one of those deeply personal moments that struck right at my core and forever changed me. A number of years ago now I attended a week-long school in Colorado through New Way Ministries. It wasn't a typical school where you just sit in a classroom and listen to lectures. The purpose was for spiritual direction - to learn more about what it means to experience God, become more Christlike, and to gain a deeper understanding of what true community is.
In addition to some class instruction, personal reflection, worship and small group discussions, each of us had an individual spiritual direction session with one member of the faculty. I was privileged to have mine led by Larry Crabb, a godly man who desires to know God and be open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading, especially when in conversations with others. There were many things about our conversation that encouraged and challenged me, but one stands out far above the others. I shared some thoughts that I was having at the time. The content of my words did not matter so much as the response to them (I actually can't even remember what we were talking about at that moment or what it was I said!). I will however, never forget the words Larry spoke next. They were straight from God - in an instant His Spirit reached deep inside me and bulldozed a wall.
I immediately started to sob. Tears were streaming down my face and my shoulders were shaking. My eyes still dampen as I recall that conversation and what happened in my heart. It is crazy what God can use - those four words revolutionized my worldview and started me on a journey that brought me here today.
Poetry, language, music, art, dance - they are expressions of our souls. They help us to know and convey who we are and what matters most to us. They are not just meaningless hobbies and time consumers. I used to love art - specifically drawing, painting and sculpting - the sound of charcoal scratching against a surface, watching the watercolors dance across the textured paper as the tip of my brush pierced a drop of water, the feel of the wet clay between my fingers, the joy at having created something that I poured my heart into... there was so much I loved about it. Poetry and writing were also endeavors that I enjoyed. I have wonderful parents who always encouraged me, who sought to recognize the gifts in us and give us the tools to further them. I took additional classes and had a box brimming with all kinds of wonderful art supplies.
But somewhere along the way I let it go. I no longer picked up my pencils to sketch, paints dried out in their tubes, and blocks of paper yellowed with age. I can't even tell you exactly why. It's not that anyone ever discouraged me or that I didn't enjoy it. I think part of it was just that I grew up - time to stop playing games and wasting time, do "real stuff", practical things.
What I didn't realize was that I left a very real part of my heart in that neglected box of art supplies. Those four words made me recognize in an instant what I had done. It was me trapped in there. It wasn't about pencils or paint, but about a creative ability that God knit in me that I was disregarding. It is a part of the fabric that makes me who I am!
When I came home I saved for a DSLR camera and signed up for photography classes. It was not pencils and paints (though He did later use those as well, in a very different way), but God was once again breathing His creative breath into my soul. I have not arrived anywhere - He is still leading me down this path and growing me constantly as a result. I never set out to make photography a business, but God has morphed it into something much more than I would have ever imagined through the challenge, encouragements, love and support of those dearest to my heart.
So here I am - and so very blessed to be learning and loving who He has made me to be and what He has given me to do!