Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Seed Sower

"God never said it was our job to be soil inspectors, but to simply be seed sowers."

My pastor said these words at a recent sermon and it stung me like when you feel the initial burning of hot water hitting your skin.

As people, we judge one another. We may think we're not the judging type... but we are.

We judge when we choose our circle of friends, we judge what someone is wearing, we judge one another's beliefs. We judge if someone chooses buffet style or a seated dinner.

It's not always bad because if we didn't we'd just be walking into danger being best friends with every stranger we met. 

But the unsettling and sad feeling that really ran over and over in my mind was the fact that I did that, or rather do that.

I'm an overly cautious person, not super open to anyone that comes to me.

And I found myself "inspecting" according to someone's past who can and can't be saved.

"But they hang out with so and so..."

"But they post this stuff, so I don't think they're the type..."

"But they do..."


And then my head hung low as if I could almost feel God's questioning eyes on me... "And who are YOU to make the assumption who can and can't be saved?"

Noone is born saved. Otherwise, we wouldn't need a savior.

I think of Cornelius, the Roman centurion who had a dream of God calling him.

Peter doubted a vision that God showed him and didn't want to accept it. But when Peter finally got there... Cornelius and his entire family were ready to hear the Gospel and then proceeded on getting baptized. 

God had everything already placed in Cornelius' heart, even though Peter didn't think a Gentile, much less a Roman centurion--- one of Rome's most elite would accept the Gospel. // Acts 10 //

When God calls out Saul on the road to Damascus... in a vision He speaks to Ananias telling him to meet and speak to this man named Saul of Tarsus. Ananias goes on to question God telling him this man has done terrible things and might not be the best man to choose to do God's work.

But God says I have chosen him, do what I am telling you. Saul's name is later changed to Paul and becomes one of the greatest teachers and apostles of the Gospel. // Acts 9 //

As humans, it's in our nature to judge people on what they can or can't do based on their past or current lifestyle.

But then I was reminded: that's not my job.

My job is to simply love and spread the message. Plant the seed. God is the one who provides the growth.

We don't stand next to a plant and beg it day by day to grow. No, instead we nourish it with water and place it by the sun.

Then just wait and watch.

That's what God calls us to do. He shows us someone that He loves and we just plant the seed (the Gospel message) and nourish (love) the person.

And then we just wait. Talk to God about it. The rest is up to Him.

I love that God chooses us all, He doesn't count us as useless or "past saving" because of our battered pasts or people we've hung out with, or things we shouldn't have done but did anyway.

He loves us and chooses us, He sees what we could be, and sends us someone who can tell us about His love. 

But then it's up to us to choose Him back. And once we accept His grace and love for us... He begins to grow us.

And then He makes us new.

Brand-Spankin' new.

Not like on Amazon where you can buy things that are "Slightly Used", "Good Condition", "Like New".

No. He makes us NEW.

And that my friends is the greatest and most wonderful act of love and kindness the world has and will ever see.

Plant the seed... and watch it grow.

He's counting on us to count others in.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sweet Love | Caitlinn & Sean

Every couple has their own love language. Truly the thing I love most about engagement photography is that in a way I get to see a real love movie played out right in front me.

I simply hold the camera in my hands and before I begin to direct certain actions... I linger and wait a bit to see how the couple interacts with eachother. 

I wait for those in between forehead kisses, playful twirls, and sweet glances at one another.

I didn't have to do much directing with Caity and Sean.

The way that they easily laughed with eachother, went along with my ridiculous jokes, and naturally posed before I told them anything... made them an absolute joy to be around. 

Their love was natural, playful and totally adorable.

I asked Caity what was her favorite thing about Sean and she said,

"I love that he can make me laugh all of the time. I could be having the most terrible day, and Sean will say a few words to me, and it will make me laugh. He knows what to say to cheer you up."

I asked Sean the same thing, he looked at her, caressed her cheek and smiled.

"I love everything about her. But I love her eyes and that she always puts a smile on my face."
And then the world melted. Just kidding... but isn't that THE simplest and loveliest way to describe someone you love? I told you they're adorable. ;)

Caity and Sean are huge hockey fans and love to go watch the games together. They changed into their favorite NJ Devils jerseys and even heel clicked for me at the end of the shoot. 

Now that's an A++++ in my book ;)

Caity and Sean, thank you so much for allowing me to photograph your love. You had me laughing the entire time behind my camera! I wish you endless joy... and most of all laughter, always laughter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

You're An Overcomer

// Thoughts on bullying during heartbreaking times. //

Dear You,

Have you ever been bullied as a child or perhaps felt left out or teased as you got a little older?

The word "bully" has almost become taboo in our day and age.

It's also a very hot topic, considering all of the heartbreaking situations that have been going on around our nation lately in schools.

It's tragic, and to be honest no one should ever have to live through their school experience with such horrid memories.

But we live in a fallen world.

I feel as if everyone at some point in their lives is made fun of or felt left out.

Yes, it begins as early as a 4-year-old child in pre-school (I've seen it first hand). But the sad fact is that it continues on even as adults. It's just polished up a bit.

I would know because I too was one of them. I've been the target of name-calling, and avoiding hallways and classes, lunchrooms, and the much-dreaded recess time was part of my routine when I was younger.

And truthfully it hurt even more because I was quiet and didn't know how to stand up for myself. I hated confrontation and I still do.

I remember the feeling of my stomach twisting itself into knots when the person would hit me with their punch lines... and I would just stand there awkwardly looking away or barely whispering back a few words.

True story: In the 6th grade I'd hide away at the back of the school blacktop by the stairs, waiting for my mom to come pick me up and drive me around to talk to me just so I didn't have to be alone during recess. She was the best.

As I got a little older, I would just avoid and ignore. But it still hurt.

I never really understood why people have the need to comment or push others around.

Today it's been updated by using social media as a means to ridicule someone publicly.

But here's the thing my Mom would tell me that gave me hope: It's not going to be like this forever. This moment in time will pass as everything does, and it will be okay. YOU will be okay.

I carried that with me and I never changed myself to act the same way back.

The truth is there will always be people that bring you down no matter what age... because we live in a fallen world. 

There will always be people that think you're odd because you're different or don't engage in certain conversations or activities.

The thing is that behavior is a reflection of who they are... not you.

But here's what they fail to tell you: it will not be like this forever.

There are so many teenagers and young kids and even adults that believe this lie that their life will always be like this, so there's no point.

No point in going on another day. No point in resisting. No point in having hope.

Don't believe it!

There are so many beautiful and wonderful things planned out for your life... this moment that you're going through will only be a memory someday. It's a promise that's been made to us.

Take it from a girl that thought she would always be the one without a voice... the girl that would go home with tear-filled eyes and held on to the very truth that it would all be okay someday.

The one thing you need to remember is that no matter what anyone tells you: YOU ARE LOVED.

You are not loved for the group of people you associate yourself with... you are loved by the person you were created as.

You are not loved for what you do... You are loved by what Jesus did for you.

You are not loved by your social, financial, relationship status or by how many likes and followers you have on Instagram ... you are loved by the God of the universe that existed before any of those things did.

You were fearfully and wonderfully made.
{Psalm 139:4}

God never said we wouldn't have trouble. But He did promise us if we hold onto Him during these times, we would make it through.

There will always be mean people. But in those times let us remember, that hurt people hurt people.

Unhappy people hurt people.

But the thing is... they're just people.

And they need love just as much as you and I do.

God forgave me... so I need to have the strength and courage to forgive others too.

You will get through these mountains.

You will get through this period in your life.

There will be a better tomorrow.

And one day you'll have the heart and courage to pass on the words of hope to someone else that may need it too.

Hold your chin up high.

The world needs you. Right here. Right now.

You don't change the world by being just like it... you change the world by being a light in the midst of the darkness.

Below is one of my favorite encouraging songs from Mandisa, I hope it encourages and reminds you that you too are an overcomer.

With hope and courage,

// You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight 'til the final round
You're not going under
'Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when he reminds you
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer...//