It's no secret that mustard.seed.photography has become something all it's own. It's 'people' have kindly nicknamed it my little mustard.seed Mission. Because, it is a mission of sorts.
Let me clarify:
Initially, mustard.seed.photography was born out of an overwhelming desire to adopt a child into our family. And that takes money. Gobs, even. And I've never been a 'it can happen for you but it CAN'T happen for me' kind of girl. No. Thanks to Terry and Sue Knight, I'm a bull.by.the.horns grabber.... So my photography serves as fundraising to support our adoption process. *I digress.
But that's just it. That's how God works. He only lets us see just a small part of the puzzle at a time. Then as an act of Faith, as we swim out into the deep end of life, He reveals more and more of His plan to us. But it's a bit.by.bit process. Maybe it's because I'm small. Maybe it's because I need to be enticed to Trust and revealing too much would scare me back into a habit of inaction. Either way, for whatever reason- His ways are perfect and I trust and believe and feel that with all my heart.
The past few months working towards this adoption has revealed the other bits of this mission that I'm on. Lots of self actualization. Lots of inspiration where women and children and family preservation is concerned... The honest silver lining to it all.
Without even realizing it, mustard.seed.photography has become something more... to me. To my clients. The mothers and fathers and aunts and sisters and grandparents who celebrate life through my style of portraiture.
Every session I proof, every single session- a portrait or three will catch me. Grip my heart and bring tears to my eyes. Not because they pretty... not because it was a great capture or fundamentally sound. I am gripped because in a moment, I am overcome with the Story of it all.
We all have story behind who we are... where we came from... where we are heading. Every single client has shared their poignant story behind why this photo session is a true celebration of Life for them. Every.single.one.
Take this little girl for example. She has a real story- and she doesn't even know it. Her mother knows her story. Her mother understands all the tender moments that connect this little girl's days together leading her to that exact moment when my shutter dropped capturing that face of hers. The spunk and certainty she so cleverly displays with those eyes and grin.
Her mother knows each and every event leading to this very.big.Third.birthday of hers...
We all have Stories filled with tender moments of worry punctuated by immense feelings of Gratitude... overwhelmed with the sincerity of Grace... rocked by abundant feelings of Hope.
This mustard.seed Mission is about remembering where we've come from, while celebrating the bounty of what we have right now- existing in a space where we can hold tight to what matters most of all- while looking forward to the Hope that exist on the horizon of each and every day we have together on this planet.
This mustard.seed Mission is about taking a tiny touch of Faith and stepping out in the name of Love. The pictures are just little bits of evidence that we were here Living this Life and Loving each other along the way.
And being the lady with the camera watching it all unfold... handing over the digital images for these families to have and share as they see fit... visually documenting the Blessings in their lives is an absolute honor and sincere privilege. While working to bring my daughter home, shoot by shoot, I am forever touched and changed by the Stories I hear and the families who share themselves with me.
*Let's just say that 8 months ago, I didn't see this coming. :)
Peace, love, and stories.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Oh hello near strangers. :)
My busy 6 weeks is coming to a close. And I just want to sit down and flesh it all out. Not so much about the events- bc they were just Events. But more like my process and growth at this juncture of it all. Yes, prepare for a meaty post. *Ahem* Prepare for a long post. As you've come to expect, brevity has never been my thing. :)
It's funny now looking back over it. To be honest, I dreaded going into 4 weeks of teaching, tons of new photo shoots, etc, etc. It's not that I don't like a good challenge, it's just that I know how much my little nest relies on me being rested, centered, focused and available.
I'm a mom.
More than a teacher.
More than a photographer.
More than a house.keeper and cook.
I'm a mother.
And our bebies are simple.
They don't need much.
They certainly don't need many of the things I work to give them.
They just need me here and happy. Available. Relaxed.
and when those things get put on hold... when THOSE things get paused by Life, everything starts to stretch and pull and show signs of unraveling.
While I was busy Busting It, we got tired. We got sick. Strep throat. Never in my whole life had I ever had strep throat. We got cranky. Bedtimes got to be a nightly fuss.fest. James was emotional at every turn of the day. We had potty accidents. Streaks of them. Jax learned to whine. To beg. To be needy.
In the stretch of weeks I got angry. Lost my temper. Fussed more than I should have. Had to apologize more than ever. Did I mention being deathly ill for 48 hours? Prayed a lot. Wished a lot. Felt pitiful. Dreadfully pitiful. And worked day.by.day to get out of the trenches of being Plain Busy. Too Busy.
But I made it. We all did. *Thank you, Lord! :)
You know, life really isn't about Balance. I've heard that whole schpill for years and years now since becoming a mom. "Find you balance. Remember to balance it all. Don't forget to find your balance, etc. etc." That's one way to look at it- the Whole Balance Paradigm... I feel that there is no such thing as short term balance, anyway. The idea that in this world of technology and in this Boot.Strap.Get.Er.Done.Multi.Tasking culture- Some times you just have to Bust It! Sometimes you just have to grit through it and paddle paddle paddle to get to the other side.
And you know what? That's not a terrible.awful.how.could.you thing. It's during times like these that you begin to notice who you are and what you are capable of. I felt accomplished. In the past 6 weeks I booked my first weddings. I became a product photographer for one of the largest industrial companies in the Nation. I worked behind the camera a lot- learning. learning. growing.
I learned how no matter how much effort I put forth hoping for excellence or perfection, I still needed to acknowledge the God Factor: that everything I have, do, or will do is a gift from Him. Not of my own strength or ability- but from His guidance and Will do I do. Not my merit. But His. I'm not a leaner. I'm a do.it.myselfer. So learning to lean, trust, and rely on someone else during hard/busy/tough times is hard for me. I'm a mountain.top girl. I'm learning how to let.go and trust when Life makes me a in.the.valley girl.
In the past 6 weeks, our desire to adopt became a hard and firm REALIZATION that we could adopt. Not a wish or a dream BUT an actual opportunity that is right around the bend. A real little girl out there- who will end up motherless, fatherless. A perfect little person needing something that WE can give her... something that WE have plenty of... something that WE promise to provide for the rest of her life. How utterly amazing is that!?!? Oh, the joy she provides already when we haven't even seen her face...
my boys... my sweet sweet boys. We grew together. They saw their mother work hard. They saw her give and stretch and reach. They saw her mess up, fall flat, have doubts and regrets. They saw my humaness. But they also saw me say 'i'm sorry.' They saw me value their feelings. They saw me meet their needs even when I was tired. They saw me cope. They didn't go without cuddles, or kisses, or bedtime stories.
Right now I am learning that Motherhood (specifically SAHMotherhood) isn't just about warm cookies and clean houses. It's not about providing everything our kids have ever wanted... our homes lacking nothing. It's not about creating a Risk Free Zone where their homes are little bubbles of Perfection. *How many nights have I laid down feeling defeated by not being able to arrange that kind of perfection that day, that holiday, that moment???
It's about walking through lives and relationships, engaging our kids as we go. Empowering them through our experiences and reactions and actions to walk through this life thoughtfully and reflectively. It's about helping them create a skill set full of experiences that help fortify them when they are out there making their own choices... taking their own risks... making their own relationships.
This past 6 weeks has taught me that I don't do everything right- even when I plan and work and make provisions for Perfect. But in being human, I'm able to flex and fall into what life is all about: Grace. Mercy. Faith. Hope. Kindness. Love. with Family being the compilation and full circle of it all.
***I will say, my ability to Stay At Home to raise my boys is a sacrifice. From the beginning we sat down and made two piles. We took things we enjoy from Our Pile and placed them in Our Boys' Pile. We go without. We pass up. We work towards- in order for our boys to have me home with them. At the crux of that decision is my husband. My sweet, strong, hero of a man who assumed the financial responsibility to keep us safe and moving forward in this life. He stretches. He manages. He rearranges so that we can hold tight to our little Life inside this nest. He does all of this without me even noticing a thing. He comes home available and tuned in to us. Amazing. Even when I try, I still allow things to 'bleed over' into our family time. But he takes it in stride without us knowing anything different. And in addition to the day.to.day he still encourages my dreams and passions- and sometimes that encouragement comes in the form of cold hard cash... say to make that leap some years ago to buy my first DSLR camera, for example. He's generous in all that he does and has the calm confidence that makes you want to take that next step. He makes me want to be Brave. God blessed me way beyond measure when he sent me this man.
***And the most encouraging aspect of all is that even as tiny as I am... as simple as I live... as meaningless as I am in the Whole Grand Scheme of this World, God loves me so specifically that He shows up every single day meeting my needs. He puts people in my life that are the Hands and Feet of Jesus. Through Him, they meet my needs. They Love me. They encourage me. They hold me accountable. They laugh at me and remind me to get.a.grip. He places little miracles in my day showing me that I am special and valuable and beautiful to Him.
All of this looooong post to say this:
If you ever thought you'd like to Do Something- ANYTHING. If you ever had a dream in your heart... If you ever had a God Moment where you felt pulled to do this or that- PLEASE steep that dream in prayers. Say it out loud. Develop it with the people or the person who supports you. AND take that little tiny step of faith towards that goal. It ONLY takes one single lonely step.
I'm telling you right now, all you need is that first step= bc God shows up and gives you EXACTLY what you need to take the next, and then the next. And not only are your needs met, but you Grow in the most unreasonably amazing ways. And as a result of your faith- you can encourage someone else to grab their dream and it's in THAT act of Love, that an entire family could be changed. An entire community. An entire region. An entire WORLD could be changed. Just in that tiny ripple of Faith. That tiny gift of Grace and Mercy you find when you realize that God is here with you.
So... what now?
I take a deep breath.
We enjoyed an amazing holiday weekend full of family re.connection.
I'm doing laundry again. I'm spending time on the floor with my kids. Lots of public displays of affection at inappropriate times. :) I'm taking pics of my own darlings- nothing stuffy or planned... just as our day finds us. And I'm doing the things I love most- cooking, sewing, crocheting, etc. These pictures are of our growing bebe taken yesterday as we were trying on a few of Brother's hand.me.downs...
I love this life. I love it all...
Peace, love, and Reflection.