The one thing I love about the ocean, is the sunrise and sunset. Being on the East Coast, unfortunately we only get to see sunrises over the water. And we all know that along with a sunrise, means waking up early... But boy, is it worth it.
My family and I go to the beach practically every summer, and I don't usually relax and sleep in everyday that week--I get up for the sunrise. This year I lucked out, waking up to three of the most perfect sunrises I could've asked for. And of course, I took pictures of it! The first day I went picture crazy, the second day I had a plan of what additional pictures I needed to be satisfied, then by the third day I actually sat and enjoyed it (also taking some side pictures...). The sun popped up out of the horizon right at 6:20 a.m., where I sat and watched as a new day was beginning.
It was beautiful. God created it all. Which amazed me that one person could come up with something so beautiful and crazy and complex. Steve Maraboli says, "I love that this sunrise does not define itself by last night's sunset." I've always seen sunrises as a fresh start. No matter what has happened in your past, that does not define who you are today. It is never too late to begin a fresh start. Do no let the issues of yesterday, define you today. Nothing and nobody can define you. Lamentations 3:23 says, "His mercy is new every morning." God forgives us for our wrongs, so that we can start fresh. With that, He hopes we will then go into the world and shine His light onto others, so they can see His mercy through us.
As I sat there watching the sun fully rise above the horizon, a song popped into my head. Beautiful Things by Gungor. The chorus of the song goes "You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of the dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of us.", then in the background of the song, plays these lyrics "You make me new, You are making me new." All to be said, that as we watch the sunrise each morning, know that we don't have to live in our past mistakes or regrets. God didn't create us to be guilty and ashamed of who we are or what we've done. He created us to thrive and live our life to the fullest, proclaiming His name to the people around us.
He made beautiful things out of dust, like the sunrise and sunsets. He also created beautiful things out of us, so that we can live our lives in His image, reflecting His goodness. I may have lost a lot of sleep on vacation, but it was well worth it. Photographing God's creation is my favorite pass time.
Looking back at the date of my last post, compared to this post now, clearly it was a rough semester and I had no time to do anything but school! A lot happened this semester, and I can't do anything but thank God for it all.
In the beginning of the semester, my photography sessions died down, due to all the cold and snow. But I have a couple future line ups and current projects I'm working on, and spring photography is well underway!
So much has happened recently, I graduated with my associates degree, and I am currently in Texas for the Junior College National Track Championships. Of course, to get to Texas, we had to fly. I have only flown one other time in my life, so I was a little nervous stepping onto the plane. I had forgotten how beautiful it was flying. Of course, I was all about the pictures! Looking out the window and seeing the blanket of clouds, knowing that underneath the beauty I saw, was a dark and rainy scene to the people on the ground.
Lately, all we've had is rain. Cold, wind, wet. Anything you don't want to experience in May, is the weather we've had back home. When you look up at the sky, all you see is the ugliness of the gray clouds. But I had never thought about what it looks like above the gray clouds. Above it, is a bright blue sky, and white, puffy clouds. Beautiful.
It made me think about how things aren't always what they seem. It may be ugly and cold in our eyes, but if you break open the seam of the clouds the sun is shining and it is absolutely beautiful. Just because we experience ugly days on Earth, God has promised us beautiful and glorious days in heaven. When I'm up on that plane, and I see the beauty of being in too the clouds, I think about the promises God makes and how if we believe in Him, one day we will be up above the clouds, experiencing only beautiful days with the Lord. Don't let the ugly days get you down, have hope for the future and trust in Gods promises.
At the beginning of the year, I decided to do a 365 photo challenge. Everyday I take one picture, showing a piece of what I did that day. So far I've been very faithful to saving one photo a day, for each day. Doing this, reminds me of all the highlights I've had in each day of the year so far. It helps remind me of the things I'm most thankful for and the major blessings in my life. I cannot wait to look at all 365 photos at the end of the year and think about all the great things that occured.
We're almost half way through the year already... Are you happy with where you're at in life? If you're not, what can you do to not let the ugly days get you down? I pray that in the midst of our dreary spring season, that you find the break in the clouds and that you don't let the gray clouds bring you down.
I love going to my brother's games, because I get to take pictures the whole time! Yes,...I pay attention, but I'm usually focused on what I see through my lens. This season though, I’ve found myself getting caught up in the excitement of the game while he's playing. Since I end up not being focused on the pictures I’m taking, the shots I have of him shooting a basket or dunking the ball, are all the worst pictures. They're off center, out of focus or his whole body isn't in the frame. I can't stand that I do that, but I get so excited in the moment and I lose my focus through the lens.
This past month has been absolutely crazy. Long story short, after the holidays, I ventured out to Missouri for a Missions Conference. It was life changing, in multiple ways. But I won't go on about those stories! One night stuck out to me the most-- 16,000 people in an arena, holding candles, singing praise to the Lord. It was a moment, that as a photographer, I HAD to capture! It was so moving, I needed an image to remember it. I don't even think the picture comes close to justifying the feeling I had in that arena, but some things you just can't capture through a camera.
That week in Missouri helped me to refocus on God and listen to what He really wants for my life. It made me realize that sometimes we get caught up in the excitement (or stress) of life, which causes our focus to drift off to the side, as work to figure things out on our own. I had been so focused on thinking about what I wanted to do in life, that I kept forgetting that it is all about what God has planned for me. I needed to focus on what God wants for me, because His plan is the best plan.I can't do life on my own, so I trust in Him to guide me through.
Is there something you're holding onto that you are having trouble handing it over to God? Let Him take control, put Him in the focus of your life.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" Hebrews 12:2
Yesterday, I road out to a national battlefield where they were having an illumination ceremony, honoring all the soldiers that died, got wounded, or went missing on the bloodiest day of the Civil War. Of course, I saw it as a photography opportunity. During the day, local boy scouts and volunteers helped set up thousands of paper bags with candles in them. I watched as they set up those bags and lit them up, honoring those who risk their lives for all of us.
I've come to really enjoy visiting that battlefield on a regular basis. Its quiet and beautiful, a great place to just sit and reflect on the history. I have this spot that I enjoy going to, where you can see the mountains off in the distance, a big field beneath it, and two monuments from afar. Its peaceful, a nice thinking spot.
Everyone needs that kind of place, you know? You need that place you can go when you need a mental or physical break from life. Walking around, watching and listening to the little kids put up the luminaries was quite amusing. I looked up at one point to find two boys standing around a mini flame of a candle they knocked over. The next thing I heard was their scout leader saying, "Boy scouts are flammable, move!" Of course, I got a picture of the flame, because it looked cool and I now had a funny story behind it.
The luminaries were a reminder of how devastating that war was, and makes us all reflect on how thankful we should be that wars like that are not happening over here anymore. I go to the battlefield to escape the world, but back during the war, I don't think they would do the same. I guess you could say I feel God when I'm at the battlefield. He watched over that war, and he is still watching over us now.
Are you going through a battle in your life? Battles are hard to face alone. Bring all your struggles to God, and like the luminaries, God will shine through you, showing all the greatness that has come from your struggle.
Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
Boy have I been busy lately! My photography gigs finally slowed down, so I can totally focus on school now. Among the business of life, a lot of things have happened in the past month, and I know God is at the center of it all.
When I take pictures of people, objects, or nature, there always has to be a focal point. Whether its a landscape shot, and you focus on the sun setting over the mountains or a photo of a family where the parents are faded in the background and the picture solely focuses on the kids-- there's always a focus. I always know what I'm focusing on through the lens, but I sometimes need to remind myself what I'm focusing on in life.
My church recently did a sermon series, called "I Am Second." The series showed us real life stories about people who had struggles in their lives, but turned their life around-- putting God first and themselves second. We spent six weeks talking about how God needs to be the center of our lives, and our selfishness should never get in the way of His plan. Lately, stuff in my life has happened that I just needed to pray to God for strength-- not for Him to change the circumstances in my life, but to give me the strength to be able to get through what He has called me to do. I decided to stop putting my wants and needs first, and trust in God's plan for my life. Living second. I really believe that is something everyone struggles with at some point. It is too easy to lose focus on what is important in our life.
I try everyday to put God at the center of every decision to make. (Keyword: try. No one is perfect). Even my minor decisions in life: what school to go to, what to major in, what career to take-- I always think about where my focus is in that decision. Am I totally focused on God when I decided who to date or where to go to school? I'm working on reminding myself to put God first. I want people to see God's light in me. I'm putting God as the focus of my lens.
I am second.
Look around you.
Here's my blog!
I used to think Blogs were pointless, and nobody read them. That may still be the case! But I found reading people's blogs actually made an impact on me, so I wanted to do the same. I love photography, and a lot runs through my mind when I'm taking pictures, so I decided to share all my thoughts with you guys!