An Invitation

I belong to a few photography Meetup and Facebook groups. There are often calls for photographs for contests or gallery shows. I occasionally think that would be kind of fun. But just as soon as I do, that other critical voice (OCV) which lives in my head says, “Why bother? Yeah, your work is decent, but there will be so many images that are better than yours, anyway. Besides, you don’t have time to go through thousands of images to figure out what you would enter. Just forget it.” And no matter what anyone else might say about my photographs, the OCV is louder and more persuasive. So I cave and put that little spark out of my mind, returning to my wannabe life.

Since the beginning of this year, the thought of maybe entering something – anything – has knocked on my mental door again. The OCV is ever ready to slam that door, hard and fast, but something different happened this time. I was invited. I was invited by another local photographer to enter a couple of pieces in a gallery showing. Specific photos she chose.

Funny how a real, live, personal invitation changes things. Not to minimize the people who have complimented my work, but this somehow gave me validation. I know – I shouldn’t need that, should I? My photographer approval rating should not come from other people. But in my shallow, not-at-all-confident-in-my-work sort of way, I guess it does. But this? For me, this was huge.

So I called her. And got the details. And did a happy dance. On the inside, apparently. Kind of weird, as I’m a fairly expressive person. John was ready to do the happy dance for me since he thought I wasn’t.

I needed titles for my photos. I also need to provide her with a price. A price?!? Oh my. That’s the worst. I am no more able to appropriately price my work than twirl pirouettes on the tip of the Chrysler Building. One title came easily. The other, not so much. The pricing? Well, I’ll come up with something. Lower than others might think I should. But for the girl with the OCV it’ll be the best I can do.

Reminder Pain

My neck and shoulder have been kind of jacked up the past week or so. Long story, but the bottom line is that I hurt. Quite a lot. Sadly, even my chiropractor visit yesterday doesn’t seem to be helping and usually I feel fabulous when I leave her place.

But this morning, I was thinking about people who live with chronic pain. I tried to imagine how hard it must be to have this never-ending sensation. The difficulty of trying to do many basic things. The frustration of not being able to do certain things. Any of the times I’ve had problems with something – even if it lasted for weeks – there’s eventually been relief. But I know people who never get that.

My mom was rear-ended in her Jeep a couple of years ago and it has caused her some long-lasting pain in her neck and head. Sometimes she’s doing better and other times, not so much. She’s tried a variety of treatments. Today she is going for some acupuncture, as she’s hurting quite a bit.

Another friend posted on Facebook, asking for prayer as she was getting an injection for her neck problems. There are countless others I know with issues, too.

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It occurred to me that maybe I have this pain right now so that I can be mindful of praying for my mom and my friend, as well as others. Maybe God has allowed it as a reminder, knowing my forgetfulness.

So when the pain gets my attention, instead of whining and complaining, I’ll pray. For my mom, my friends, and for me. And I’ll continue to do all the things I know to alleviate my own pain.

The Long Way Around

***Okay, this needs a little back story, as well as some after story. I wrote this probably a year and a half ago as a devotional to share with a small group of ladies. It’s been in the back of my Bible since then and the other day, I thought I should put it here on my blog. It took me a couple of days to get it wrapped up, but tonight I finally did, and posted it. Then I went to read before going to sleep.

I’m currently reading Priscilla Shirer‘s book, “One in a Million.” I just started the second section, entitled “Deliverance.” The first chapter in that section is called, “The Long Way Home.” Lo and behold, she is talking about the EXACT SAME THING as what I wrote here. Even more interesting is that I’d never heard this particular point taught before God shared it with me for this devotional a year and a half ago. Never mind that her book was published in 2010.

Whoa!

God never ceases to blow me away with His careful weaving together of the details in my life.

I am awestruck.***

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After years of Egyptian captivity, when the Hebrews are finally freed from Pharaoh, “God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:17) Instead, God took them the long way around.

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How often do I long for short cuts? Yet, the Lord knows the danger they can pose. For the Hebrews, He knew they might freak out and go back to Egypt when obstacles arose. But am I any different? Isn’t it common for us as humans to look at difficult circumstances and become fearful? What do we do with those fears? I think many of us look for a place to retreat. At that point, it’s not always about our sanctification, growing in faith or closer to the Lord. It’s about comfort. But in order to keep us from fleeing in fear, God will sometimes lead us the long way around.

This reminds me of a sort of humorous issue I used to have with a particular intersection in town. There were two left turn lanes and people would very often be in the left of the two lanes and then jump over into the right lane once they were through the intersection (or as they went through it), cutting people off in the process, so they could make an immediate right turn. I would go in the correct lane to make that right turn like I was supposed to. I would pray and try to be patient and calm, but I couldn’t do it. I could never get through the intersection without becoming angry, critical, and controlling. Since I wasn’t able to handle that, God made me go the long way around. It will always be better to take the long way than to fall – or leap – into sin.

When the Hebrews reached the Red Sea, their perspective was probably that they were trapped; cornered by the Egyptian army. So what do they do? They complain against Moses, and ultimately against God. Notice Moses’ response:

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.'” Exodus 14:13-14

First he encourages them to not be afraid. Fear completely thwarts our ability to think clearly and rationally. Then he exhorts them to stand still. Naturally, that’s the last thing we want to do when we’re afraid. Usually, we’d rather run. In the opposite direction. They had no choice, though. There was nowhere for them to flee. Then he tells them to see. Fear can cause us to shut our eyes – tightly. How in the world can we deal with a threat, or decide what to do, when we can’t see? But that’s not what God wants them to see anyway. He wants them to see the “salvation of the Lord that He will accomplish for you today“. Not salvation that comes from anywhere else, but from God almighty. And notice that He’s the one to accomplish it. Not with their help. Not with anything or anyone else. It’s God and God alone.

Additionally, look at the incredible miracle that God performed in taking them via the Red Sea. They may not have seen the hand of God in such a way had they taken another route. God’s detours can bring amazing, faith-building miracles. And this has been recorded for all of history to be shared with a multitude of generations.

The beautiful ending to this is recounted in Exodus 14:31 – “Thus Israel saw (seeing the right thing) the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord (the right kind of fear), and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.” The long way around may have seemed harder, but ultimately, it grew their faith and trust in God, and in Exodus 15, you can read their song of praise to Him.

So if you feel like your current path is longer than it should be, rest and trust in the Lord, knowing that He has you in His sights all the way. He hasn’t forsaken you, but He has something for you that will be worth it.

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***And now, another edit to this post. I shared this whole story with John this morning and my amazement at the way God wove these two pieces of the story together. Then he got excited as he pulled up his morning devotional from Alistair Begg, entitled “The Joy of Safety” It actually picks up where I left off, with the song of praise to God in Exodus 15. As ever, God continues the story.

Yoga, part 1

I called it Part 1, because I’m anticipating a part 2.

Last month, Creative Live had a sale on their video classes and I kept Yoga for Photographers open in a tab for weeks. I thought it might be a good place to get started with something to stretch my body and improve my flexibility. The last day of the sale, I finally bought it.

pink water bottleToday, I finally downloaded it and got cracking. Fortunately, I sleep in clothes which are conducive to yoga, so I didn’t even have to change. Talk about lazy. It was later in the morning than I’d hoped to do it, and yes, I had other things I should do, but I knew I needed this. Especially after shooting a volleyball tournament on Sunday and being reminded of how inflexible my body really is. I don’t want to go through another season being so stiff and sore.

The first class is an hour long – although she does talk a little bit in the beginning. I made it about half way through before getting kind of lightheaded. Sometimes when I’m up and down or bending over and standing up or other such movements, I get a bit woozy. Since the two things she emphasized were 1) listening to your body and 2) breathing, I decided that lightheaded and woozy was my body’s way of saying it was time to stop now. But that’s okay. I did it. I got started. I’m a long ways from getting well into some of these poses, but I don’t care. I still started.

The really cool thing? I actually feel more energized – even after a short first yoga session. I think the blood and oxygen flow in my body is better and I don’t feel all sluggish (like I often do!). Kind of exciting, really. I also notice my breathing, just in everyday life. So I’m working on breathing better. That’s an area I definitely need help in, as I’ve noticed that I have rather shallow, through-the-mouth breathing, which I really don’t like. Hopefully, this will help that, too.

My Hair

Warning: We’re wading into the shallow end today. Read at your own risk.

003My hair, my hair. I know I’m not the only one, but I am sure fickle about my hair. When it’s short, I wish it were longer. When it’s long, I wish it were shorter. When it’s fluffy, I want it less so. And so on. My likes and dislikes of it are fairly extreme. The weird thing is that the days I think it looks great, no one compliments me. But on days when someone does compliment me, it’s when I thought it was kind of meh. So either everyone else is delusional or I have no idea what actually looks good upon my head. As much as I wish it was the former, I’m assuming it’s the latter.

I’m not excessively¬†vain or crazy into selfies. But I do take some shots of my hair kind of often. I think it’s because I’m trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The weird thing is that when I look back sometimes at pictures where I thought my hair wasn’t so great, I actually like it better after the fact. Clearly, I really don’t know what I’m thinking when it comes to my hair.

5799But I do know this. Every time I get it cut shorter, I get complimented. When it’s longer, I never receive compliments. Recently, I’ve been trying to get the photo mess on my iPhone cleaned up. Apparently 6,100+ is too many for my 16GB phone on top of the other stuff which resides¬†there. Go figure. Anyway, in going through the pictures, I made a little effort to look more at my hair. Good grief, this is sounding terribly narcissistic. Nevertheless, I’ve gone this far, so I may as well keep on going.

I’ve decided that I agree with the people at large. I look better with shorter hair. It’s spunkier, funner (yeah, I know), and just all around better. So I guess it’s time to lob it off once again, but this time, it’ll probably be here to stay. Well, not stay, actually.

IMG_8801One of the reasons I grow it out is so that I can put it up in a clip or pony tail or headband. I don’t even know why any more. I think it’s because I used to like doing that, but really, when it gets long and I do that, I get tired of having to do so, since it’s otherwise a ridiculously big mop on my head which gets in my face. Not only that, the grays seem to be encroaching on the sides of my head nearest to my face. Therefore, when I pull it up, they’re no longer hidden. I just haven’t yet made peace with them, so I keep coloring them and they keep growing in too fast, especially around my face and I have to keep hiding them. Thus, no more hair pulling up, back, or in a headband.

So as soon as the budget will allow, the fun spirals and their less spirally friends are destined for the salon floor.

And if you stuck with me this far, thank you. Now you know just how vain and shallow I can be. Mostly just about my hair, though. Plus you get to see one of my epic bedhead shots. Lucky you!
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When There Are No Good Barns

…you drop back and punt. Or shoot other stuff.

My friend and I were out hunting for a good barn to take pictures of. She especially loves pretty red barns. Alas, there were no lovely, rouge barns to be found upon our random journey. So we pulled over when there was a vast field snow beneath a blue sky. And a few other things caught our attention once we actually walked over to look around.

Vast field.

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Trees, for example,

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unusual creatures hanging out,

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an interesting fence segment,

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Or a bicycle fence shot from the road.

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Iggy

I shared about how I discovered the Instant Gratification Monkey here. Well, the guys who created him over at Wait But Why now have a plush version of him. One which I happily received on Christmas morning.

iggy smallInstant Gratification Monkey is kind of a mouthful. So I called him IG Monkey. Then Iggy.

My hope is that his presence will remind me of those times that I’m not doing what I should be and that acknowledgement will put me back on the path of what I really want to be doing. If nothing else, he’s terribly cute and soft. He also makes a great model.

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