Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Greater Work


It's not easy for a Dad to take his little girl to a Purity Ball, and it's not easy for a daughter either. It's a date to a ball, and it's not like those come around very often. Then there's that level of awkward in the idea of talking about sex and waiting.
Some Dad's in the room have walked the straight and narrow and have never fallen and made a mess of things.
But for alot of Dad's it's a struggle because we are far from perfect and we have made some pretty big mistakes and poor choices. But really I think the idea is about trust, and by that I mean trust in God. If you lower your eyes to men, men will let you down. There are none that are righteous, not even one.
But if you raise your gaze to Jesus, trust Him with your relationships and not yourself or your peers, there's a sweetness to be found, a blessing to be grasped.
Your Father thinks the world of you and wants the absolute best for you. You are beautiful to Him, the apple of His eye, and He wants to always be the rock you run to in the good times and the bad.
I think that's where a Dad can resonate, and I think it's why all these Dad's brush off the awkward unsettling and instead view this a beautiful opportunity in time to teach a truth that is immovable. We feel the same way about our girls. My own girl is the keeper of the dance. She is truly a father's joy, and if I could do anything for her it would be to help her keep her eyes on Christ and not on man.
At this Purity Ball put on by Alpha Center and the Abstinence Clearinghouse, I photographed what I think are my all-time favorite Father/Daughter shots. They were of a Dad, dancing with his girl, and praying over her while they danced. Hoping the best for her, praying the best over her, desiring the best.
Dad's, it's not about us and our baggage, thank God. It's about Him and His righteousness. Oswald Chambers said prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work, and I think that's what I love most about that image. You don't see a man with flaws, you see a teacher demonstrating to his daughter the importance of appealing to Christ on her behalf. She is there, in perfect peace wrapped up in her Daddy's arms as the song plays, hearing his words spoken over her as he presents his requests. Finally, Christ is there, and the Word of God speaks over their entire dance as He calls them both His masterpiece. More than the dance, the dresses, the cake, the speaker, or any of the other words spoken that night, that prayer at that moment was the greater work.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Why Worship?

Why must we worship when life is crashing down? Why must we raise our gaze when there are a world of things that just need to be set straight? Is that an excuse to be irresponsible, to avoid or ignore the issue? Hands and feet, right? God gave us a brain, yes?

I think it's just the opposite. I think when we feel like worship is the last thing we have time for, busy becomes our excuse, and in truth we are effectively telling God, "I got this."
Doesn't that sound overwhelmingly foolish when you look at it on its face like that? "I'm sorry, Maker of Heaven and Earth, One Who Knit My Soul, The Beginning and The End who knows yesterday, today and tomorrow, Great I AM. I need to take this out of Your hands and put it in my own. I need some results here."

Why do we praise Him in this storm? You may as well ask yourself why you call 911 when there's an emergency. That's what you do in trouble. You call for help.
Otherwise next time, when you're moving a heavy load like a dresser or something down the stairs and you trip and fall, when all that weight is coming down on your head, just call out to the other person holding the other end, "I got this. You just stand there and watch. I don't need any help."

Worship isn't just for when we feel all cozy and warm and life is sunny skies with smooth sailing. Far be it. That's like saying language is only of use when there's poetry to write and songs to sing.
A friend recently shared this image and I want to share it here as well. I think you may as well title it: "Top Reasons to Worship"

Lift your eyes unto the hills, and fix your gaze not on what is seen, but what is unseen...
Psalm 121, 2 Cor 4:6-18, Psalm 42
Go read. Soak. Reflect. Ponder....then worship.  You think it sounds silly.  I dare you to try it. 

Monday, January 01, 2018

Well-Meaning



Something to consider this year:
I’ve had well-meaning friends and family who were opposed to my wife and I getting married at 19, opposed to me buying my first camera, opposed to us building our photography studio, opposed to us selling our studio, opposed to homeschool, opposed to us taking our family to Haiti, opposed to coming home from Haiti, and deeply opposed to our faith.
Those were well-meaning people, friends and family not bent on our demise, just trying to look out for us the best they knew how, with advice on life from their perspective.

Today, looking back, every one of those decisions I’m truly grateful for. Not one of them do I regret, and they enriched and blessed my life in ways only Heaven understands.
They were right as rain to me, custom fit decisions that have determined the course of my life for all eternity. To remove any one of them would be - well, you may as well take some colors out of the rainbow and try to sell it to me as just as beautiful.
My point is this: Who are you going to listen to this year?
Sometimes my friend, people just don't know what's best for you, and sometimes those people are you.
The best advice I could ever give: Give your ear to The Maker of Heaven and Earth. Jesus. The One who knit your very soul, and has not only called you His Masterpiece, His Poem, His Work of Art, but knows your entire course, from start to finish. He knows every wind that will blow you off your course. He knows every storm, and He made every sunrise, for you.
Here is my prayer. I’m giving it to you, for when the sun rises on this brand new day:
“Lord, please shine on me
So that I might hear and smell, taste and touch and see and be alive.
So that I might shine like You as a light upon this world for Jesus Christ.
The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has comprehended it not.
The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
Now Lord, where are you working and how can I help?
In Your Name. Amen.”

(Now take your hands, cup them together, and grab hold of a few scoops of that precious first light. Pour some out on your head and make sure to put the rest in your pocket. Give it away to someone else who might need it today, and don’t be stingy. Don’t you go saving it for a rainy day and keep it all to yourself. That’s what you’ve got Hope for :)
God bless you in 2018.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

When We Fall

I can't describe this feeling. I've photographed hundreds and hundreds of seniors, always trying to picture this day with my own son. Then the day comes. Last night, I'm there with my boy, now a young man. My wife and daughter are down below, my wife lifting up a prayer while my girl snaps a photo of me. I'm a speck on the top of a cliff face almost 60 feet up and opposite the cliff face he is on, catching the last bit of sunlight in that golden hour, and as my son is climbing up, at 30 feet he slips and falls.

My reflexes kick in. My finger is still pressing the shutter. There is absolutely nothing I can do. I can only scream his name and watch him fall - from a front row seat.
Pure helplessness.
He bounces from one ledge to the next, and finally drops the last 10 feet in free-fall. He lands flat as a pancake. I see his head hit the rock as he literally bounces off the ground.

I scramble down as fast as I can go. It feels like an eternity. By the time I reach him both the girls have him in their lap.
He is awake. He is coherent. He is talking. Pure adrenaline.
Then he wants to lay down and close his eyes, but I won't let him.
We check his pupils for dilation, he follows commands, there is no throwing up, no slurred speech, no indication he had fallen, except a sore leg, ankle and tailbone. He said his head didn't even hurt. In fact, he was hungry.
Nothing broken. No blood, full range of motion and so we start to move, trying to walk out and make it to the car in case he crashes from shock. It happened to me in Haiti years ago. I remember it too well. We reach the car and he says he feels ok.

So we prayed and we drove home. We ate some comfort food, had some ice cream, drank plenty of fluids and watched him through the night. Kari told us that the moment before he fell she was praying, and heard herself say, "Lord, please just catch him when he falls." It even surprised her. "When he falls?" she thought, and it was then he slipped.

Despite the terror of that moment, it was the most graceful fall I've ever seen. I still can't fathom how, but this morning my son is studying in his room, doing his school, and we are just praising God, grateful for another day, and thankful that He catches us when we fall.



Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Daniel

The last time I photographed Daniel he was just a little boy, all dressed up in a tux and walking down the aisle of for his big sister's wedding - 11 years ago! Now here he is, all grown up, about to graduate and looking into pre-med. He was a good looking kid way back then, so of course I wasn't too surprised when, as we were shooting downtown, a carload of girls drove by and gave cat calls.
His Dad was along for the session, which was a refreshing change (it's almost always just the moms). Dad was talking about how hard this is going to be on him when his son leaves because they do everything together. I can relate.
He still had the picture on his phone of the shot I took of his little boy 11 years ago, and he told me that it's still by far the 'best picture I ever took'. :)

 


















Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Better Half

A quick shout out to this girl. My wife and my partner. She always does the final "whittling" of my images, narrowing down my shots to the best of the best before I work on them. When she does this, I can't be in the room because it's like watching someone hack away with a hatchet at my art. It drives me crazy as I argue and defend every shot and of course what I was thinking when I shot it.
Therefore, we learned a long time ago that I must leave and find something else to do. The upshot to this is that she saves me loads of time in post production.
The downside? Well, because she's along on every session and she happens to look so beautiful, I can't resist taking her picture - at almost every session. BUT, since she does the whittling, she deletes them. She's says it's out of fear that I might accidentally upload them to our clients. In her defense, that actually happened a couple of times. Sometimes I do miss the minor details. Heck, yesterday I accidentally messaged a client who is a doctor, no doubt in the midst of some very doctoral role like saving lives or curing cancer, and thinking it was my wife asked her casually if she needed me to pick her up anything from town.
Anyway, I've decided I'm going to start rescuing and saving these helpless images from the Hatchet BEFORE she gets to erase them from history. And now to my shout out: The stunning image below, does not happen without the girl to the left, and I thank you, Kari Ann, for putting up with the likes of me. You hold the lights, you make kids smile, you model a pose like a Broadway dancer, you shoot from a perspective that I literally can't see, you give direction and you talk to people so warmly and make them forget about me when I go all Rain Man and think of nothing but the light, the comp, the color, aperture, stops and ISO's.