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Ashley and Adam had the most beautiful style, the most beautiful love, the most beautiful wedding and reception. I adore the entire day. Ashley was beautiful and beautiful in heart and spirit as well and Adam was so fun and full of life and love for his bride. The two of them were electric together, just pure connection. It was my honor as always to be a part of helping them create these memories but it was also my total joy. Such a blessing to my heart and spirit! And their wedding party and friends and family were just wonderful wonderful folks. I had a beautiful time being a part of it all and can not wait to share in future moments with them! xoox
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Benjamin + Amanda
I am humbled by this couple's love for each other and their kindness and amazing personalities. They are simply beautiful together! They met in a common sociology class in collage, becoming friends and have been dating for the past year. Their story will continue on and I'm so thankful that I got to record this portion of it. It was a truly amazing day with 2 truly beautiful people. Amanda and Ben: Congratulations on a life of joy and love! So glad you have each other!
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Amanda and Ben's wedding was held at Heritage Hall in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Very Historical, very beautiful and always a pleasure to be at this venue!
Ben and Amanda's first dance was pretty special. They were beautiful together and it was like the world faded away. For a moment It really did.
Ben and Amanda danced with their family before we opened the floor up. I wish I could post all of the images. I love their hearts.
Kathy and Travis were amazing. Just a fun, wonderful exciting couple to be around and to photograph! I enjoyed every single moment with them and loved how beautiful they were together! This is their wedding story, the short version! :) Their Wedding and Reception were held at Dodson Orchards in Fredericktown, Missouri ... just a stunning venue!
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"Because Your Life is a Beautiful life"
Tim Morgan, our Preacher, was used in my life for a very important moment and he doesn’t even know it. In the span of my life he hasn’t been there that long. But wow the impact already and I just have to tell it. I am so thankful that I heard the message God placed on His heart that morning at the church a few months ago. He preached telling about the man Naaman who had leprosy in 2 Kings 5 and that lesson still has not left me and I suspect that it never will. God brings it to my heart and my mind over and over with one sentence that Pastor Morgan asked in his Sunday Morning message all those weeks ago. Let me set the scene.
Naaman had come to the door of Elisha seeking healing from being a leper because he had heard that Elisha could heal with The Power of God and Naaman apparently desperately wanted to be healed and was determined to make it happen. He was a doer. He wasn’t afraid to take the bull by the horns. Naaman also was considered an important man. He was the “Captain of the Host of the King of Syria”. What a title. He was a high ranking military official and a man of high social and economic standing. The bible says he was a great man, a mighty man in valor (valor means: boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle and heroic courage and bravery) but he was a leper. He had a skin disease that made his skin look horrible and white like death and it would have affected his nervous system and his nasal membrane: the inside of his nose. Leprosy is a fungus, if you can imagine, on the skin that kills it over time. Pieces of your flesh can fall away. I cannot imagine the pain. His skin would have had ulcers and he would have been contagious so no one would have been able to be around him on a close intimate scale and there was a chance somewhere down the road that he could possibly lose a limb to this disease. AND he was still a mighty heroic man very high up in the King’s army. He really was a great man even by our accounts today and he had a horrible disease that he desperately wanted healed.
Naaman, being so use to authority and so use to going through all of the right channels and being able to walk the line and having a picture in his head of what was expected of him because he was use to following orders, had the King of Syria write the King of Israel. Naaman seems to think that if the King of Israel commands Elisha to heal him then he will be healed. He sees it as The King of Israel being over Elisha and in control because that’s what he’s always known in his world - The Chain of Command - so he goes straight to the top. At least he thinks he’s going to the top. He’s cutting out the middle man. He’s not playing games. He wants the healing and he wants it now and he goes right to the source of power. Only he doesn’t know God yet. He doesn’t get it that God is the high authority. He doesn’t understand yet that Elisha is only a vessel for the Lord to work through and that Elisha can’t be commanded any more than we can tell the world itself to stop spinning.
So Naaman goes to his King because he trusts that he can get results and he does get them. The King of Syria writes the King of Israel. So now Naaman thinks he’s gone through the right channels and the proper procedures to insure his healing. He’s done all the right things he thinks and he’s ready for some action. Only things don’t quite work out the way Naaman thought they would. The King of Israel actually gets upset. He was so upset by this in fact, that he mourned over it and showed it publicly, as was the custom, by tearing his clothes and everyone knew he was distraught by his actions. The King of Israel understood a relationship with God and understood the unlimited, unflawed ability of His power as much as we can probably and that we are God’s creation and not His equal. The King of Israel understood that He could not command God to heal Naaman through Elisha. Knowing this and understanding that Naaman and his King obviously did not understand “A Living God” verses a manmade god and did not understand what they were asking, the King was afraid that the 2 nations would come to war over it and he was deeply deeply troubled by their request.
When word reaches Elisha, and he hears that the King of Israel has torn his clothes, he sends him a message and asks why he’s done this, why he’s upset. When the King replies and Elisha realizes what is going on, he sends word for Naaman to come to him directly so he will know that there is a prophet in Israel. Naaman goes in faith and in expectation to Elisha’s house to have Elisha heal him. I picture Naaman having been really excited! He’s heard that this man has the power of The Only Living God to take this horrible disfiguring disease and that he can make him whole and he’s going there to make it happen. His hope must have been off the charts mingled with a little “what if” but mostly just driven in hope and excitement that he was going to be clean of rotting flesh and whole.
When he gets to Elisha’s door though, Elisha doesn’t even meet him. The man surely knows how important Naaman is. He sent for him after all but Elisha sends his servant to meet him instead. Can you imagine? As Americans, whether you agree with our President today or not, you still know the importance of his office, of his position. He is our highest official; specifically our highest military official and we give him our respect and our loyalty because he leads our nation. Elisha is a man that is filled with the Spirit of God. He is a Holy Man. He has the power to heal. Naaman is going to see a very important man and he is a very important man in his own eyes. Can you imagine if the President of our United States sent for you to give you the most precious gift he could give you, something that you had longed for forever and then didn’t even meet you when you arrived but sent his servant instead? What a blow. Then to top it off the servant tells Naaman that Elisha says to go and wash in the Jordan river 7 times to be healed of his leprosy. Picture this. It wasn’t enough for Naaman to show up. It wasn’t enough that he tried to make it happen through all the proper channels and by his superior authority and by the King's final authority, it wasn’t enough that he was placing his faith in a God he didn’t know, now Naaman has to go out and do something to help this healing happen. I bet Naaman was like “Are you kidding me? You want me to do what?”
Naaman isn’t actually a practicing believer. He’s not even a new convert at this exact moment. He hasn’t gone to the temple and sat in on the service, he hasn’t jumped on the internet to read all about it and decide that he likes what Elisha believes in, he hasn’t talked with believers to see what they think. The only step toward Christ Naaman has taken is that he's placed his faith in what he’s been told and he's hoping that he will find freedom and healing from his horrible disease. Now that’s huge and it’s a first step but he’s stepping out on simple faith being driven for an answer and a fix. There is no depth to his faith and nothing to fall back on, no backbone or hard faith that he’s been walking and learning and growing in. This is a first act in his step towards being converted to “life” instead “punishment”. Naaman has simply heard from his wife’s maid servant (captured slave from Israel) that her God is real and that He can heal him through this man Elisha. That’s all he knows and he is desperate for healing. He needs this God to be real and alive. He needs for this healing to be real and this maid servant believes in this God so he’s willing to grasp on to this is desperation because He needs this God to do what no other gods have done for him, ever. Do you see the full picture here?
And now Naaman is knocking at the door and Elisha isn’t even coming out to meet him when he sent for him. Naaman isn’t use to being treated this way. In his world people hold him high. He says jump and they jump. Can you imagine not being greeted? Naaman was angry. He was full of wrath The Bible says because he thought that he would have a face to face with Elisha and that Elisha would at least speak with him and call on God to heal him right then and there. Naaman thought he would walk in and see an instant result. He thought he knew how it all was going to work out. He had a plan and a picture and he thought he got it. But he didn’t. Then on top of it all the command that Elisha gave for Naaman’s healing was crude. The fact that Naaman was from Syria and not Israel, made Naaman believe that Damascus, the capital of Syria, had better waters than Israel. We tend to be very loyal to the places that we live. Naaman would have been no different. His job was to protect Syria after all so of course he was loyal. The Jordan River that Elisha is asking him to dip in is in Israel. I can imagine it being a little beneath Naaman, a little “can you believe this common thing he has asked of me” type of attitude. Naaman of course thought so much more of his own home land and took great pride in Syria. It seems to have made him feel a bit indignant and insulted to have to do such a common thing and he was feeling a bit discarded and possibly mocked by the fact that Elisha didn’t even great him and come out to meet him. The Bible says that Naaman turned away in rage. He was going to leave. The blessing he was seeking wasn’t coming in the package that he expected and he was going to leave ticked off and miss the blessing and the whole story.
What happened next kind of melts me and excites me because I’m a “little people”. I’m not someone that runs the nation or works for the King as the head of his army. I don’t stand before important people with messages straight from God and I don’t heal lepers. I’m the little gal that was taken from her home land and working in the background to make other people’s lives the best they can be by being faithful and loyal and a hard worker no matter my circumstances just like the little maid servant that worked for Naaman’s wife and took care of her and I identify with that maid servant in a hundred ways even though we don’t even know her name. I just love her and that she shared her faith in her God with Naaman's wife and then with Naaman as well. I love that she is the puzzle piece to Naaman’s healing and that even though she isn’t a big person in the bible or the whole scheme of the world she is important in Naaman’s story and the lives of the people in Naaman’s story and now in mine and yours as well. She is a shining light that gives me hope and reminds me that every single one of us big or small in the eyes of the world matter and count and that my life is important even if I don’ t know why in my life time. Years down the line someone could be reading how God changes the life of someone profoundly and maybe I’m one of the puzzle pieces in their story, or even better yet… maybe you are. Fantastic!
So here is mighty Naaman (the important, big, knowledgeable, powerful, known man) and he is done. He’s been insulted and he’s out of there. He’s hacked off and in his temper and his not understanding the full picture and what is being asked of him, he decides he is going to settle for his circumstances and not being healed because now his hope can’t even be seen because of his emotions and his temper. He’s got tunnel vision and he’s storming out. BUT His simple servant who spends his life doing Naaman’s bidding, and is not well known and is not thought of as big and mighty, says “Wait! If the prophet had asked you to do something you thought was great or grand and worthy of your time and effort, wouldn’t you have done it? Then, how much more willing should you be to do this simple thing that he’s asked of you to do? Just go and wash yourself and be clean of your Leprosy.” Naaman listened to his servant. He was wise and he heard his servant and listened and retracted his rage. He was willing to bend. This big strong military man was willing to be reshaped and slowed down and changed. First he listens to this wife’s servant which gets the ball rolling and then when all seems lost, he listens to his own servant. Wow! He was wise and willing to be shown and taught from humble places and he changed his mind and went down and dipped in the Jordan 7 times as Elisha had told him. The bible says his skin instantly became like that of a little child: smooth, healthy, new and healed!!!!!!! Amazing!
This is the point where our Pastor Tim said the thing that helped me even unto this day. He stopped in the story of Naaman and asked us what would have happened if Naaman had only dipped in the river 6 times? Pretty simple question but what a profound thought! That question keeps coming back to me over and over as I struggle with getting stronger with this eating thing that God gave me in my journey to be healed of my past and my shame and my broken body from it all. The dead broken things in my life that have been removed from me in the spirit through my faith in Christ still need to be removed from me in my walking it out and in my obedience. I’ve watched God heal so many things inside of me one by one. He will never be finished with His work in me until the day I stand with Him in Heaven but I clearly see that I am not who I use to be. I see dramatic differences in my thinking and my desires. I also really see the broken places now shinning bright for me to notice. I want them healed. Food had always been the biggest place inside of me, the most broken place that I recognized. It was the one thing I could not control. Until recently I didn’t understand that the first sin was created with food. Of course this is my hardest battle as of right now. I’ve been working on this with The Lord for 13 years now. My healing is not complete but how close He is to bringing me to a 7th dip in the Jordan River! And I’m excited, but what a battle. So I understand what it might have been like for Naaman to suck that rage back up and to realize that maybe it wasn’t all going to happen the way he planned and with the blue prints he’d designed in his head based on what he’d been taught about God. I get it because of the journey I’m walking with The Lord even right now as I write this.
What would have happened if Naaman had not obeyed and carried his part out? It didn’t take great faith; it took “I need You to be real and to help me because there is no other help.” Faith the size of a mustard seed, that’s all it took and it took a change of heart. He thought he was above going into the Jordan River. He thought He shouldn’t even have to carry out an exercise of any kind to be healed. He had done enough. He had shown up after getting backing from the King. The command for him working out his healing didn’t make since to him. He couldn’t understand it. He knew that others had been healed with a word but how unreal that he should have to carry out this act in order to be healed when he had been told a word could be spoken and a command given over his body and total healing could have been applied in and instant. He had faith in what he had been told of God but no understanding yet, no wisdom or walk under his belt that lead him to immediately do what Elisha told him. He had to have a change of heart. Instead of an easy way to gain his healing God gave Naaman a task that seemed ridiculous to him. Why? Well, I don’t claim to know God’s thoughts but I sure can see how God was building faith in Naaman by making him obey Him instead of just handing it to him. God was asking him to step out in faith and He was changing his heart along the way. He was changing Naaman by showing him that he doesn’t see the full picture and he doesn’t know how it all works but God will work it to our good just trust Him and do what He says.
So what if Naaman had given into the idea and kind of had a change of heart and decided he would go and dip in the Jordan but only did it halfheartedly? What if he had only done it “almost” and not “all the way”? What if he had only dipped in the Jordan 6 times instead of 7? What if? Not only would Naaman not of been healed but myself and everyone else who ever read this true account and put their faith in The Word of God would not have learned a lesson from Naaman and been strengthened by his life and these several moments in his walk towards the Lord. He had to step out in a very much “unformed” faith, a very new faith that was just sparking and he had to be willing to put faith in this God He didn’t understand yet at all and who He was but because of that little flicker of faith he was healed completely.
Naaman’s healing from leprosy was so profound to him and such a faith builder that he says in 2 Kings 15 “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel!” and the bible says in vs 17 that Naaman says that he will never offer from that moment on another burnt offering or sacrifice to another god but only to The Lord. That’s a LIFE CHANGER folks. He would of missed out on a life changing event if he hadn’t stepped out in hope and faith. Everything he had ever known in his belief system and in his worship and asking for help had depended on gods that didn’t breathe and think and answer. He didn’t know any other way. God messed his whole world up in a great way and Naaman was forever changed.
God didn’t ask Naaman to run down through all the great things he’d done in this life to be saved. He didn’t ask for an account of his work in the service to The King or how he’d treated his fellow man or his family or how many drinks he’d had and if he’d ever been drunk or if he’d finished any type of training or schooling and God didn’t ask if he’d ever cheated on a wife or if he’d ever hit her or if he’d always had the best thoughts and never said bad things in fits of rage. God simply said prove you have faith by doing what I’m telling you right now.
What a message of hope. No matter what state our lives are in, God is doing something wonderful to heal the dead parts and the broken parts and the parts that keep falling away that the life has drained out of and left white and ashy - if we place our faith in Him, in His son Jesus Christ, in His death for our saving grace and His resurrection to conquer the grave and give us life for eternity with Him. AND what does he ask of us because of our faith? He’s asking us to be faithful completely to Him…not to the 6th moment when He’s asking for 7, not just “for the most part” but ALL THE WAY. Give your whole life, not just a little of it…not just the moments that are easy to give but the things that shake your world up and change it forever. Give the parts that you don’t understand, give the parts that make you mad and make you feel ashamed. Give the parts of your life up to God that need healed and run to Him instead of waiting. What are you holding on too? The dead stuff? The white stuff that hurts you and you need gone anyway? Let it go. Embrace what God has for you even if you don’t understand why He’s asked you to do something. Step out in faith even if it’s just a tiny tiny bit of faith and hold hope that He’s real and that He will help you. He’s got a wonderful plan for your life. He created you for His plan. Embrace it and let Him be a LIFE CHANGER for you.
“And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:27
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This beautiful little family melted me from the moment they stepped out of the car. This was a wonderful relaxed photo session at our home. Acia is 6 months old and her Mama, Brittany, said that the photo session was a gift from her Mama. Tylar, Brittany's husband and Acia's Daddy was great in helping us pose and snuggling in for the family shots. And Brittany was just adorable and such a sweet gal!
How could you not fall in love with this little face! Precious!
When we first sat Acia up by herself it was too cute for words. This picture will have to suffice! = )
When we first placed Acia on her belly and gave her favorite stuffed duck to her she just naturally snuggled it. I just mushed right into the ground lol. My heart is never going to be the same! :)
This child. This... child. Just makes my heart burst.
I don't always save "action" shots but I couldn't pass up this gorgeous grin at her Mama and Daddy.
And this is where the true magic happens. This is where I know this baby girl will always have a special place in my heart along with her family. Her expressions. ADORABLE! I saved way too many but how could I not? Every single one needs to be remembered forever! :)
I asked Brittany about her and Tylar: how long they had been married and where they had met. I loved her answer. "We have been together almost two years now! Married for one in August. Acia was definitely a surprise that we didn't expect so early but we wouldn't have it any other way :) We met through a mutual friend at the time and we pretty much instantly became best friends. He is my rock and I'm glad we were best friends long before we married and had a child. I couldn't ask for a better man."
I was deeply honored to do this photo shoot and so privileged to get to help create these memories for this little family. Truly just blessed. Adorable!
by Shannon Edwards
I whispered through the mist
Through time its self
Do you hear me
Can you see me
Do you know me
The world echoed back
A resounding No
That griped my very
And tore my very
Then a light shown
In the depths of the woods
A light that ran
My fears away
A light that recognized me
And valued me
And I breathed life
For the first time ever
So I memorized
The moment and
Captured it to share with you
A gift for you
The Miley Wedding was beautiful and so full of wonderful wonderful family and friends. The Bride and Groom were from Alaska which completely melted me. With Michael being in the Military, it was a gift to be stationed in Alaska and to meet Megan because of that. I am so proud of our soldier, their love, and that I got to commemorate it and them.
Family and friends flew in from all over the nation to help celebrate with them. Everything, from the moment I joined them at the wedding venue, was beautiful, lighthearted, happy and a true celebration. I am so blessed to have been a part of immortalizing this day and telling Megan and Michael's wedding story. Please scroll down to view their story. (Simply click the images to view a larger version.)
Roman melted me the moment I met him. This little doll was adorable!!!!!! From the deep wonderful giggles and grins to the serious thinking he enjoyed with his cake, we had a wonderful wonderful cake smash session for 1 year Birthday! I loved every single moment with the delightful fellow! So excited to share his session with you all! Just click on the images to see a larger version.
I was editing wedding photos this morning, when I looked out my sliding glass door and viewed the sunshine and the woods before me. I knew it was very cold outside but the sunshine called to me. I suddenly felt the urge to take my camera and go for a walk in the woods. Normally I would be too afraid a bear or wolf would get me and I have a fear of unknown dogs or mountain lions and wild cats that is real. Just this past week though God showed me that He would protect us from the wild beasts and it was fresh in my mind. I don’t go around just being all willy nilly and afraid but a girl in the woods by herself and nothing to kill a wild animal? Come on. Yep, I had to trust God since I was feeling this amazing feeling of venturing into the unknown. I couldn’t imagine what views I would find to photograph because I’d never done this before but I trusted that there was a reason even though it was the dead of winter and the trees were barren. I can find beauty anywhere I thought.
Our world is amazing.
I chose a spot in the road that appeared to be fairly easy to enter upon my journey. Not all places had a set spot to climb through. Many of the spots I first came too had rocky footing or so many small trees that I couldn’t get through without being scratched or scratching my equipment. I didn’t know that from the side lines. The forest is thick with trees from the outside but inside it is thick with small treelings and brushes and plants. I had never considered that. I thought you just walked into the woods. I realized there is no path unless you make a path. Interesting.
Once I found my spot to enter, nothing blocked my path from stepping into my adventure from the outside. No one rushed up and said “WAIT! Don’t go.” No fence magically appeared to stop me. I made a choice and I was doing it. I was headed for big things. Many times when we are headed on a path in our life, whether it’s in relationships or work or what have you, it is the same way. We see the path and we secure a way to enter it. We plan and we take control. No one tells us it’s a right or wrong choice. We just have to learn as we go. I was determined, no matter how cold it was, to see this through. I’d prepared in every way. Boots. Check. Layered clothing. Check. Very warm coat. Check. Fur lined hat with neon print so hunters didn’t mistake me for a bear. Check. Gloves with the tip cut off of the index finger so I can still feel my camera buttons. Check. This girl was prepared for what she knew was going to be hard. In this case, the bitter cold. The only thing I wished I had brought was a scarf. Lesson learned.
Many times we do prepare for what we know will be hard. Many times we don’t know as much as we thought we knew.
I even planned my path looking in. I thought I was headed to a large clearing in the woods where the electrical lines ran across the country land. I’d been back there a couple of times on a four wheeler and in my jeep. It’s the only view I could think of. It was the only destination I could imagine. I’d never actually shot any images there and I thought I could get a great black and white for today’s 365 day challenge. I thought I had God’s plan for this figured out. That’s the truth. I felt the calling. I did the planning. I put the puzzle pieces together in my head and thought I saw the end result. I didn’t ask though. I didn’t ask Him what the plan was. I just thought I figured it out.
I started my journey. He was with me and He was leading me. I knew that. And He was. I stepped into the woods guarding my gear from the brush that I had to walk through. I looked back once just to see the view. I had never seen our house from the woods. I am still in love with our house and ever so thankful for God’s blessings.
Then I started focusing on the details and getting into my journey. I started thinking about how BIG God is and how amazing that He wants to spend time with us. I started looking around for things God might have for me that I might miss out on and I became very focused on getting all the little things just right. All the little things for my photography, because that’s what I thought this was about mind you. At first glance there wasn’t a lot to photograph. Nothing that stood out and said “Photograph me, people will swoon.” I kept watching as I walked in the direction I thought I should be going. The path was hard though. Harder than I thought it would be. There was no clear path. I had to go sideways many times. I could not just go straight ahead. Periodically I looked up and around to make sure I was heading the correct way and that I wouldn’t trip as I continued to focus on details. Many times I got smacked with branches on my legs and arms.
There was still a lot of thick undergrowth to go through. I kept side winding and trying to right myself to the area I thought I was supposed to be going. All the while I was headed down hill and the ground was soft in places from the cold winter rains. My footing was unsure in places because there were many rocky platforms and many were crumbling. Remember, I had never done this. I had never gone off in the woods by myself. Well once this past fall I ventured off the road to photograph a creek bed but I have never just gone walking into the woods. Ever. I only had an idea of how I was supposed to be doing this. Suddenly, I saw the parallel between my adventure and our lives and the journey that we are in constantly making choices and following The Lord. We often think we have to accomplish one thing but God has a different plan altogether.
As I walked, I noticed the moss on the rocks, beautiful. What struck me so strongly was that even in winter, when everything around it dies and the plants and the trees have no fruit or leaves and some die all together, the moss is still green and vibrant, it’s still thriving. God created it to do exactly what it’s doing: live in a hostile environment or a wonderful environment – but to live. That moss was right where God wanted it to be. I thought, “I want to be like moss”. God made moss beautiful in a place that truly doesn’t even begin to get it. The plants and life around it don’t hale it as this strong wonderful life form. The rocks allow it to be there and give it a place to dwell. The rocks help it grow beautiful and strong. But the moss looks out of place in the bitter cold of winter. It looks like it doesn’t belong. Yet, it does. It does belong no matter how it appears. God placed it there in the stillness of the late morning sunshine and cold. Suddenly, I could feel a strength that I hadn’t thought of in the plant world and in God’s design, a true strength from just “being” and I could feel a strength inside of me because God was reminding me to just “be” and that He had planted me where He wanted me to be. The moss was so strong just because God had created it and designed it to “be”. We need to be more like moss. Instead of thinking we don’t belong in a place we need to realize that God planted us right where He desired and He makes us strong so we cling to Him, Our Rock. I took it in like the scent of vanilla from a favorite candle. I knew God was showing me, guiding me, growing me.
I was amazingly aware, all of a sudden, that this wasn’t about the photography. I could take some pictures to emphasize the lessons and what I’d experienced but this adventure wasn’t actually about me finding a brilliant image for today’s posting or to add to my portfolio. What I thought I knew was not at all what was actually going on. The photography was just a bonus and the way God lead me into the lesson. This was about the lesson. It was about a few gems of wisdom, and an afternoon walk with The Lord. I began letting myself hear my thoughts more openly in the stillness of the day. I opened my thinking up and made room for the Lord and instead of talking my way through my walk, I started listening my way through my walk.
There were places in my walk that I could not go around hard spots to get through. The way the trees and brush grew I had to go right through the hard spots sometimes. That too is very common in life, isn’t it? Sometimes, no matter how we try not to go through something, we have to. There were also places I had to go around completely because they were blocked with fallen trees or rocky small bluffs that made it too hard to get through. I kept going though as we do in life. At one point I just couldn’t decide where to place my foot. I was still going down hills and I could see that there were lots of fallen little trees and branches under the leaves along with a rocky incline. My foot could easily slide and I could fall damaging me and my equipment. I couldn’t go around. Both sides were blocked with trees and rocks and unsure footing. If I was going forward without going back, I had to go through this passage. I heard God whisper that He would make my path straight and my footing sure. He brought it to my memory like a childhood friend or family get together. I felt so encouraged and I trusted Him. Where I placed my foot was perfect.
Sometimes on my walk, I looked up and changed my perspective. Many times I saw beauty when I did but I knew I had to keep going forward and I couldn’t let anything cause me to stop. Distractions can be beautiful for a moment. Important lesson. We must continue to move toward the place God has us though, no matter how tempted we are to accept what we’ve already claimed. I could of stopped shooting when I got a great sky/tree shot but I know there was something bigger here even though I didn’t have the full story. I kept going. We need to in life as well. We need to go where God is leading us.
Sometimes when I tried to cross a path there were thorns and they tore at my clothes and tried to scratch my wrists and face. I learned quickly to grab a fallen branch and push the thorns away as I walked past them and to get them out of my path. In life there are so many thorns. So many hurts. So many things that leave scars and hinder our walk. We need to look at what the thorns are in our life. God didn’t lead me to run from them but He showed me a way to move them out of my way and continue on without being devastated by them. Amazing.
And then it happened. I came to a place that I knew this was it. This was as far as God was taking me at the moment. There was a creek that ran through the property. Possibly the same creek I’d photographed in the Fall but in a different location. Someone a long time ago had begun clearing the land though and there was no clear path to the creek bed from the direction I was coming at, that would have been safe because of the huge piles of trees and brush and debris and there was no way to cross over it without icy water and horribly nasty mud invading my boots and feet even if I could. There would have been some real pain if I had tried to make it happen. I wasn't properly equipped and I wasn't ready. I had to know when to stop.
I had to know when I had exhausted this moment and needed to move on to what God had planned. I looked around. It didn’t look like I’d accomplished much. I didn’t find that gem of a photograph, though I'd found many lovely ones and many wonderful memories along the journey but I didn’t stumble upon some hidden village that had been forgotten or accomplish anything that the world would shout for joy over. I sighed. "God, what was the point here?" I still hadn't realized the message was the point. The journey it's self was the point. Though I was taking in so much information, I still was holding on to that perfect image. That perfect capture. Then I saw it. A glimmer of a prize off in the distance. A glimmer of an idea that I couldn’t quite attain. I got a shot of it far away so I would remember where I was going, where I was headed. I will know when I’ve come to the place that allows me to capture the actual beauty that is there but for now God gave me a glimpse. It hit me that Life is very much like this. We may see our goals and may be trying to attain them but perhaps we are not at the right place to achieve them and sometimes we need to go down a certain path to learn the lessons but then God will lead us around to the right place to achieve the dream He has for us.The lessons are the journey. We need to embrace them.
One day when it’s warmer and I can be a little more sure of myself and I'm prepared, I will venture back. I think I saw a better path to my left but we will see if God shows me a better way. And maybe this lesson is done. Maybe I don't even need to go back there. Maybe this last gem of an image is all it will ever be.. a memory. That's ok too. I'm looking forward to where God is leading me.
Going back was harder in places than going forward. It was all uphill and there were large rocks that had to be scaled or climbed around. I noticed that the brush wasn’t as thick though and I soon had a clear shot of my destination; my house. As I climbed out of the woods, I also realized I hadn’t gone to some knew journey on my adventure. I hadn’t ended up at a different place. I was back home where I belonged. I didn’t come out of the woods being famous for my photography or holding the most prized image of my entire career. What happened was better than that. I had a little more wisdom. I had a little more hope. I had a little more faith and a deeper friendship with our Lord. I had a little more understanding and inspiration and a reason to share how great God is. I realized that one day I’ll reach the prize. It’s all in how we get there. I can’t rush this. God’s got a plan. I was literally at the same place that I would have been if I hadn’t gone on the adventure, but with a totally different outlook. God is so good.
I looked back at the woods that this morning I thought didn’t seem to hold much of anything in this season and realized that God can use anything, anyone, anyway to share His love with us and wisdom and He can do it in any season, even the seasons that seem barren. The whole world around us is a lesson ground for growth and change. So blessed. Shine your light. I love you. He loves you more. xo - Shannon
What a beautiful family and what a wonderful way to remember the year and the moment! I loved this little session so much! Such a blessing!
I love sharing how I view the world. Thanks for joining me. It's a fun journey. Love that you are with me in it.
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