Archive for March, 2011

March 28, 2011

Raising the Bar

Warning: This post is rant-y and wrought with generalizations. Oh well.  In no way am I professing to have this all figured out. But, I have observed a few things.

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Men, I love you. Really I do. And I hate to throw in a “but”, ahem… but…  Maybe it is just my own misfortune, maybe it’s this Fatherless Generation of ours, I dunno, but I feel so often like a truckload of Peter Pans has been dumped into our society.  It’s not even about the video game obsessions; it’s the general skirting of personal responsibility and feeling that the world owes you something. It totally doesn’t.

And women, I love you too, in an entirely different fashion sure, but love nonetheless. Ladies, can we stop this giant pendulum that keeps swinging from being fully dependent on men to discarding them completely?  Honestly, there is nothing wrong with desiring a man, you were created to actually, desperate is ugly though, and danergous.  And there is nothing wrong with being strong and independent, but there is no need to toss aside femininity and despise any and every male.  

And my gosh, it doesn’t help that we are all entirely oversexed.  Like, it is every-freaking-where.  All the time.  And it’s expected.  All the time.  Ugh. Look, I get it, it’s the bees knees right? Yeah. But it has an ordained context.  It is not a tool of manipulation to get or keep a relationship.  It is not a good way to pass the time on date number three.  Gosh. You know what? Guys, don’t expect it, don’t push it.  And maybe ladies, stop giving it out like it’s a hug.   

I want… ha, I want a lot of things. But mostly I want to call us all to a higher standard.  Can we raise the bar a little please?  Women, can we hope for Something More for ourselves?  Can we expect love and give respect, ask for commitment before we give ourselves physically?  And men, will you set aside your appetite for instant gratification?  Will you allow yourselves to be called to greatness? 

Look, I say all of these things while working on my own issues and with full awareness that nobody is perfect and we are all in process. I say all of these things in love, knowing that there are plenty of men and women out there that these statements do not apply to.  I would like, (love) to be married again someday and honestly, I don’t refuse to compromise, but I do refuse to settle.  Our generation entitled and materialistic though it may be, is also wise, resourceful and strong; and I believe in Us.  And yes, some of you men are certainly a scary combination of overbearing and underachieving.  But some of you are an awesome combo of compassionate and powerful.  Ladies, yes some of us are desperate beyond comprehension and bitter to the core.  But we were made to be full of passion and wonder and grace and strength and tenderness. 

My heart breaks that so many miss the beauty of relationship and what God has for them.  We might have few good examples, there are some though.  The Bible is a pretty good starting point.  Understanding your identity is key, and learning about God’s heart is the best way to do that.  And yes we live in a fallen, broken world, but we make our own choices.  We can choose to spend time with people who are good examples.  We can choose to learn and grow and let Him change us. 

I had dinner with Ron and Nancy a few weeks ago and it was lovely of course.  The cool thing was, they’ve been married for 37 (!!!) years and he did not stop complimenting her the whole night except to listen to how her day went and kiss her a couple of times.  I sat humbled with a goofy smile on my face, happy to hear such kind affirming words poured out in such love.  Finally Nancy said (grinning from ear to ear and eyelashes batting as usual) “Honey, that’s all very nice, thank you, but I don’t think we want to make Amber sick.”  My reply, “No, let him go on, please. He is raising the bar.  Let me believe that there are men out there like him.  And couples that end the day like this.”

I know that it is easy to give in to the temptation to be nothing more than a product of our environment.  But also, I know that there is Greatness in everyone.  No generation, no sex, no one is beyond redemption.  We can overcome the struggles of our past.  We can rise above heartbreak that threatens to crush and fear that threatens to suffocate.  We can raise the bar for ourselves and future generations. I believe we can find and grasp So Much More.  And I hope we will.

Ok, that’s all, (for now).  ::stepping down from today’s soap box::

Love, love.

March 22, 2011

Catchlights

If we have ever discussed photography at all, I have probably mentioned catchlights.  I don’t remember the first time I heard about them, but I know the concept has captivated me ever since.  They are that tiny flash of light you can see in a persons eyes.  They can sometimes make the difference between a good portrait and a great one.  They are reflections of the lightsource, a literal representation of the how we can be both windows and mirrors.  Sometimes a whole scene can be found in that tiny fraction of a photo. 

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When I take photos, headshots especially, I say over and over, “turn towards the light, now a little more.” A well lit face makes a huge difference.  And the easiest way to get a well lit face is a great lightsource.  Because I use natural light, a huge window or an open sky are my best friends.  Cloudy or rainy days usually mean we’re going to be standing inches from the window to get the right light.  And actually, you can tell if the light on a persons face is good by checking the size and position of the catchlights in their eyes.    

I have such an affinity for light.  It distracts me, sometimes enthralls me.  I love how turning a face even the slightest, moving it a fraction of an inch in the right direction can illuminate the eyes.  Unflattering shadows can be eliminated if the right angle is caught.  Sometimes a tilt of the chin is all it takes to fill in all the dark spots.  I could go on for days about all the ways to use it and find it and reflect it.  And I could go on for days about all of the big and little metaphors that photography holds.     

This one is my favorite though.  Look closely at a catchlight and you’ll see both the lightsource and the photographer.  You might be able to make out a bay window or puffy clouds in my photos, if the light is grand and the angle is right, you will be able to see me, sometimes just a silhouette, sometimes more.  Catchlights are pretty much dependent on three things: The size of the lightsource, proximity to it, and how directly the subject is looking into it.  If there is a ton of light and the person is looking directly at me, like in this photo, you will be able to make out details like the color of my shirt and the position of the camera. 

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I’m quite certain I don’t need to play out this entire illustration for you, but I do so love the beauty of it.  So much like my relationship with Him, if I am not “finding the light”, seeking Him, shadows can fall, bad habits or sneaky lies can creep in.  If I am not being intentional about what I take in and getting close to the Light when things get dark, His image will barely be visible at all.  Moving my face towards Him though, changing the angle even a fraction can send Light into all the right places.  And if I am positioning myself correctly, looking right at Him, He will be reflected more clearly.      

 

March 11, 2011

Hearing God

It occurred to me the other day while writing about hearing from God that maybe some of you might not know what I mean, and maybe some of you might want to know what I mean.  And there are tons of resources out there for you, I will link plenty, promise.  But also, I will tell you a little about what I mean when I say I hear from Him. 

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As I’ve said before, it seems to me that I have known Him to be in me, outside of me, caring for me since… forever.  Honestly, I don’t have a great explanation of that except to say that during some rather traumatic instances in my childhood I experienced Peace and Love. 

Someone asked me recently about my first experience of hearing God.  I believe it was when I was about five years old.  My mom, sisters and I lived in a tiny apartment in the projects.  We were po, couldn’t even afford the last half of the word.  I had this beautiful white canopy bed with a pink gingham top though.  I’m not sure where it came from, but I know the mattresses came from beside the dumpster.  Anyway, I remember God speaking to me in that big beautiful bed one night.  He said “I love you” and I said “I know.”  I would like to say that I remember saying I love you too.  I’m fairly certain I did, maybe.   But I digress…

Church and religion were not a huge part of my childhood, Jesus was though.  We attended a few different denominations, mainly Nazarene and Baptist, very sporadically.  Somewhere along the way I picked up the “Jesus Loves me this I know” concept and never let go.  I believed because… because I needed to.  He felt real, was, is to me.  (So much so that when my sisters and I eventually ended up living in West Texas with my aunt and uncle and going to a tiny little Church of Christ, I found myself totally baffled and a little bit heartbroken that the sweet people in church there didn’t believe that He walked and talked with them.  Lucky me, I found a Vineyard Church not long after we moved back.)  Digressing… again…

Hearing God is more like experiencing God for me.  It's more like connecting with His presence than simply hearing Him.  I’ve never heard His audible voice.  He often shows me things, pictures or visions in my head.  He sometimes highlights things around me, or words.  Occasionally He will download a thought, a concept or an idea into my head… It doesn’t always or even usually happen at church.  Sometimes in my car, or in the shower, in bed, while I’m doing dishes and yes, sometimes when I’m praying. 

How do I know it’s Him? That’s kind of what I mean when I say it’s an experience for me.  Generally if He says or shows something, there is a feeling of great peace or maybe excitement.  Sometimes there is unexplained warmth.  Because when He speaks, things happen and atmospheres change. 

When I first started trying to understand hearing God I was told, (by I can’t remember who, maybe Heather? Whoever it was, thank you!) that if I heard something especially wise or encouraging, it was probably ok to go ahead and assume that was God.  He doesn’t say things that aren’t Loving.  I’m not saying He doesn’t say things that are hard, He is always Loving though.  So sometimes I get words, or unexplainably understand concepts, or inexplicably see things.  I feel Him, but also, I know Him because I seek Him.  That’s my best explanation. Check out the links at the bottom for a better one.

Recently someone said “Wow you are really tuned in” when I shared something He said.  Another friend said “So what? Like, you just go around praying all the time?”  It’s not that I’m praying constantly, though maybe I should.  It’s more like an ongoing conversation that we have.  Because that’s what He wants.  Because that’s what I want.  Because I am grateful for all He has done for me.  Because He has saved my life so literally many times.  Because He is gracious and merciful and unfailing.  Because I have experienced the sheer wonder of His great Love through a few awesome encounters, I do my best to follow Him, turn to Him, look for Him and hear Him. 

My best advice for how to do that is to get still, get as quiet as you can and listen.  Doing this is something in the middle of really easy and very hard.  He speaks and He created us with the ability to hear Him.  This world is kind of a mess though, even on good days life gets in the way.  I get that.  My mind is cluttered to say the least.  Usually before I can calm myself and stop running through to-do’s, I have to make a list.  Getting it out on paper helps me focus on Him.  Also, I’ve been known visualize myself in my own mind, pushing away all the clutter and boxes that crowd the space He should be in.  Hey whatever works right?

For way better explanations and much more insight:

Go here: Freedom Classes  and click on Hearing God

Go here: Gateway Sermons browse by sermons and click on Frequency

Read this: Post about Hearing God

Read this: Great article about Tuning In

 

This is the thing, He loves you.  He created you.  He wants to meet with you.  And His words will do So Much More than anyone else’s.  Listen to Him.  And I pray that you will hear Him.  Let Him whisper, let Him illustrate, let Him show you LoveFinding time and space and having the ability to quiet the busyness of our minds can seem impossible. I promise you though- It is so worth it.

 

 

March 6, 2011

This Glimpse

Sometimes when the shutter clicks I know I’ve captured something, a glimpse of something amazing.  Sometimes there is a wonderful exchange that happens. The person in front of the camera decides that they trust the person behind the camera enough to be… open, bold, vulnerable, humble, real… themselves.  And the person behind the camera, (that’s me, I have the best job in the whole entire world!) gets to capture that essence, honor it and show the world how beautiful it is.  If it is a really great exchange though, there is a glimpse of Something More. 

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This magic little exchange has a few key elements.  Trust is one, easy enough to understand I guess, a person needs to be able to trust me if they’re going to be all figuratively naked in front of my lens.  This exchange also takes belief, at the very least a momentary awareness of the wonder that is the inherently universal and innately unique beauty inside.  And this exchange, if it is a really great one, involves not just my spirit seeing somebody else’s- if we allow space, it involves the One who created the moment. 

Recently I had the privilege of photographing four amazing women.  They all came with their own stories of redemption, ready and willing to sit right in front of my lens and be themselves.  And we all intentionally made room for Him to shine during the session.  It was spectacular.  The whole shoot was full of honesty and creativity.  Each of them bared part of themselves, shared pieces of their hearts.  And boy did He show up.

And fine I will go ahead and say it, one of these women was especially, well, uniquely I’ll say, inspiring.   She is a New Friend.  I don’t know her super well but I know that she is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and a really great hugger- an extraordinary women as far as I can tell.  Also she is an extremely gifted storyteller.  The best thing about her though- she knows who she is and Who’s she is. 

I don’t know her entire journey to Freedom.  But I know that the smile on her face is that of a woman who knows her Father is the King.  And the light in her eyes is that of a woman who believes she is Loved beyond measure.  Momentary or not, in this hundredth of a second, she was exquisitely, supremely herself and openly, humbly His all at the same time.   And as the shutter was clicking my heart saw it, knew what Freedom looked like.  To call it inspiring would be an understatement. 

Coincidence maybe that this also happens to be the woman who taught the first Freedom class I ever attended.  She told me (and a whole room full of people actually) the story that began to help me Think Differently.  My journey to Freedom got fast-tracked that night with the Tale of the Acrobat.  I thought initially that this photo was maybe just special to me because of that coincidence.  I think maybe there is Something More to it though.

Sure, this magic exchange has happened plenty of times before and after I even knew what Freedom Ministry was.  And sure, I’ve photographed people who’ve known what their True Identity was.  There was something about this glimpse though… Her Freedom and Beauty is emerging more and more, no doubt.  And as they say, "Free people free people". And I guess my definition of Freedom has changed.  So this exchange was a clearer picture of Freedom than what I’ve seen before. 

Most of the time if I really get somebody, really capture their essence, it is a child.  I have few photos of adult’s boldly staring into my lens and baring bits of their soul.  And even fewer photos of people with glimmers of Freedom shining in their eyes.  They say that the photographer can be seen in every photo every photo they take.  Maybe the special thing about this photo is that there are three storytellers in it.  There is me doing my best to tell a story with my camera.  There is my New Friend telling some of her Freedom storyAnd there is God telling His very big Freedom story. 

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I wish I had a few perfect words to wrap around why this capture is so extraordinary.  Instead I have lots of imperfect ones, and a heart that desires even more than it did before to be Free-er.    

 

 

 

 

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