All Posts By

Krystal Irrgang

Well Being

3 Ways To Embrace Change

I will probably be one of the first to say that I didn’t always like change. It used to throw me off and make me respond rather dramatically as a kid. When my dad would get new glasses, I would be so upset and express how much I disliked them. It’s now a few years later and I have learned a few tricks that have helped me to not get thrown off guard. Here are three:

  1. Learn about God’s will and make it yours. When Chris and I first thought about moving to Philly, it was rather shocking and out of the blue. Days before we were quite content with being where we were. We had a nice little home, family close by, and a very good church family. At the same time we decided to look to God for what He wanted and it meant leaving our church and family for the unknown. Because we knew He wanted to us to go, we could rest easy and think of it as an adventure! To this day we have been extremely blessed by being here and have made so many friends and connections it’s crazy! We still feel very secure in the decision we made, though it was a big change.
  2. Make change an adventurous journey. Like I said earlier, because God is in control it has been a lot easier to think about each step of the way as an adventure. We are constantly wondering what God has planned next. Instead of feeling afraid of the future and all of the changes that will definitely come, we anticipate the places that God will take us. Because of how He has provided in the past and brought us through, we know He has much to give in the future. Even if that adventure comes with struggle, so much beauty and depth can be realized, which no one can take away from us.
  3. Fully understand what it means to grow. With change comes growth. No matter the circumstances, growth happens. It makes you evaluate your life and consider the possibilities. It rewires your mind for better or for worse. Instead of growing angry or resentful with the change, think about how the experiences you are going through can rewire your mind for greater things. As sinful human beings it’s easy to get caught up in selfish thinking, but when we consider change, it allows us to look at the road and decide which way we want to go. Do you want to become more like Christ or more self absorbed?

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Now that it is autumn, I am quite reflective. It got me to thinking about how the seasons between summer and winter prep me. Autumn is one of my favorites, and besides loving all the colors, it makes me ponder life and where I am at. It also gets me ready for colder temps and shorter days. Then in the spring we get fresh green sprouts and warmer days. God is so good in giving us transitions between the change. He isn’t one to just throw growth at us where we can’t handle it. Sometimes I think that I can’t handle what comes my way, but when I look back I realize that God prepped me. Just like the autumn.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. – 1 Corinthians 15:10

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Well Being

What It Takes To Make Your Passion Reality

Right now I am in a transition with my photography career. I am no longer sitting in the unknown wondering how in the world I am going to make this dream real, but I am also not on the other side of things calling it my full time job. At this point things are just becoming real and I can still taste the unknown with excitement. I was thinking that it would be a good time to write down a few ways that got me to this point so that I might encourage some of you to take on your dreams and make them happen.

  1. Talk with God about making your passion real. About 3 years ago I asked my women’s Bible study group to add my dreams to the prayer list. I knew I wanted to be a photographer, but the business side of it freaked me out. I knew nothing about it and didn’t feel like I had the social skills to really wing it. So we prayed. I prayed separately as well, for 3 years.
  2. Be extremely patient with yourself. Guys, it doesn’t happen over night. In order for God to cultivate and build you He has to move a lot of parts and rewire your mind. He isn’t going to hand you your dreams up front and say, “run!” until you are ready. I am a perfectionist and want things to be awesome up front. I want to be awesome, but being good at something takes time. At the same time, as a perfectionist, it can be easy to just sit and wait till it feels like things might be perfect, which brings me to my next point.
  3. Make yourself available in challenges. Even though God didn’t necessarily hand me my dreams right away, He did give me opportunities where I had to fly by the seat of my pants sometimes. About a year after really asking God to make things real, I was given a job that required me to learn things about small business where I knew nothing. I had to buy a $9,000 copy machine. I had to come up with a pest control plan for a cafe that isn’t even open yet. God pushed me to help organize a canvassing program and I am NOT a literature evangelist. Accepting these tasks and putting my best foot forward, made it easier for me to see how these new skills could fit into running a photo biz!
  4. While planning your passion, have another job. Having patience is so crucial that I had to mention it twice. It can be easy to complain and wish you were doing your dream job right now! I know how that goes. Thing is, you gotta pay the bills. You need to be realistic and think about what is currently happening in your life and how that will roll over into your future. You can start out with a full time job and then move to part time. Either way, it is important to keep yourself disciplined while you start to make that passion a reality. It actually kept me focused, doing something else, because it taught me about hard work and pulling through. Starting a dream job isn’t roses and candy, folks. It takes pushing forward! Working that other job will give yourself proof that you can do it! Over 3 years have gone by and the money I have made still hasn’t gone into my own pocket. It pays for photo gear, computers, hard drives, and even a new desk. Dreams are expensive.
  5. Value every moment of learning. At each step I had to accept where I was (there is that patience again). When I did this it taught me to value what I had learned and not take it for granted. It made me more aware of the small improvements I was making. Now that I am on this side of the “fence,” I am so grateful and have no need to complain. I am still pinching myself because of the fact that just last week I flew out to Nevada to photograph a new artist who not only paid me to fly out, but she paid me for my time and skill. Even as I felt like I had sorta “arrived” I was learning new things. It doesn’t leave room for gloating, just success!

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Because of God I have a confidence that is growing and challenging me to be better. Dreams don’t have to stay dreams. With a little elbow grease and jumping in we both can do awesome things together. Ya, life is real and it can hand us pretty tough stuff. At the same time God knows what makes us thrive. He understands that need to want to create and develop a skill. He made us that way. If it appears like I left anything out and like this seems to easy or too hard to do, please let me know! Ask me questions. I want to help make your dreams a reality too!

Relationships

What I Learned About Friendship

A few weeks back I was busy cleaning our storefront church, with earbuds in my ears, when Emily came in to grab her mail. I made conversation but was feeling pretty overwhelmed with my own thoughts and I didn’t even notice that she was becoming short with me in conversation. It wasn’t til a week or so later that I really knew something was wrong.

It’s kind of embarrassing but I am going to get real here. I want to do it in hopes that others will learn from it. I was browsing the webs when I came across a photo that our dear friend Jackie had posted. She shared how Emily had stopped by and gave her a gift and took the time to see how she was doing. I immediately got a little jealous, but then something else came over me. Something deeper. In that moment I began to remember how Emily expresses her friendship. Emily is so good at reaching out and saying, “hey we should hang out at a coffee shop on Friday!” or “let’s take a walk on Kelly Drive.” It made me realize that I had not done my part to reach out and be a friend, in a way that she understood, in a very long time. It’s easy for me to get caught up in my own woes or thoughts. It’s easy to go for a time and forget that I have friendships to maintain.

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In that moment I felt like I had royally failed. I wanted to crawl into a deep hole and just be lonely forever. So dumb, but true. The awesome part is that I didn’t act out that temptation in the end. I found myself thinking about how I should connect with her and say, “hey we need to check out that paper store you were telling me about a while back.” So I got up the courage and we set up a time to hang out this past Friday. In the meantime, both Emily and her husband went through some crazy stuff and I connected with her again and said, “instead of going to the paper store, we should just chill at the coffee shop and catch up.”

We met and had the most amazing conversation. It reminded me of why I wanted to be friends with this cool person in the first place. Emily and I are similar in a lot of things and even our husbands have pretty similar ways of thinking. What makes being friends with Emily special, though, is that we aren’t entirely the same. I am very introspective and she is very good at sensing what is around her. In our conversation over tea and white hot chocolate, Emily told me that the day she had come to get her mail at the church, she was hoping that I would reach out and ask how things were going for her. I, unfortunately, was oblivious and didn’t ask and didn’t seem to really care. She told me that she got upset and started to feel like the friendship was one sided.

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I immediately connected all the pieces in my mind as to what was going on and told her that I was so sorry for how I had been, that I am not good with getting hints or reaching out. I appreciated her honesty, even though it was hard for her to do. We realized that day that both of us reached out where it wasn’t easy for either of us and came to a resolution. Emily expressed how it is so easy for her to please people instead of expressing how she really feelings about something. It was pretty awesome to be able to share our strengths and weaknesses with each other and be able to talk about how we were going to work things out in the future.

I am so grateful for all of the women that I have had the pleasure of knowing these last couple of years. Our friend Jackie is another heart that I have felt a true bond with and she gave me this awesome cup yesterday! I feel so blessed to be loved despite my complexities. Haha. I am honored to know such warm and honest hearts. When we take the time to let go of our expectations and reach out to others in a way that might not always be natural, but healthy, it creates bonds that can’t be broken. Sometimes we think that we have to walk on eggshells to keep our friends, but really it’s all about getting down in the dirt and growing together.

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Are there friendships that need mending? Maybe you feel like your friend needs to step up to the plate and do more, but what can you do? Maybe forgiveness is the cure? I am one of the most awkward people and probably not the easiest person to understand or know, but God has been changing my heart. He knows what it takes for us to feel loved and connected. I mean, he made us relational, right?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14

Relationships

With The One Who Thinks Differently

Do you wish for someone to connect with? Do you want to be on the same page with those closest to you? Do you wish your spouse or significant other would just think like you?

Let me first tell you that as single person I wished for that major connection. My personality thrives  on connection and kindred spirits. Not too many people think similarly, so when I meet someone who does, it’s pretty awesome. When I met Chris I was kind of surprised by the fact that I could talk to him for hours and not get bored. You see, Chris thinks very differently. Honestly, at first it used to kinda bother me how differently he thought. I used to be like, “how come you can’t just feel like I do?” Or, “can’t we just sit here and talk about our feelings for a bit?”

At first, it might seem like we aren’t on the same page or that we don’t get along. The thing is, Chris talking about his feelings isn’t always what makes me feel closest. Him being a thinker is actually what really attracts me to him, so when I get all pouty wishing he was more of a feeler, it is really just me being selfish.

Last week, we were driving up to MA, and we got talking. Riding in the car with Chris is probably my favorite thing. It’s where we do the most talking.  We were talking about a situation I wished I had handled differently. When Chris tried giving me pointers, I asked, “Why do I have feel everything, why can’t I just think like you?” I really admire how Chris thinks before he speaks and knows exactly what to say. I was feeling a little sorry for myself and was wondering if there was something wrong with my way of thinking. Chris changed that.

He told me about how he admires my loyalty. He explained how strongly I will stand up for something no matter what flies my way. When I told him how bothered I was by what someone had said, he told me that those feelings were good. That not everyone is in tune with recognizing the signals that something is wrong. He then went on to say that I was only lacking one thing.

“Krystal  you just have to stop and think about why you feel those feelings. Stop and think about what it means before you jump to conclusions and just base everything on the feeling. If you do that, you can do a lot of good.” When I considered this, I then expressed why I was bothered. Chris then said, “If I were in your shoes, I would not have approached that person with as much heart. I probably would have plowed them over with my logic and would have hurt them. You took logic and put a heart to it. Your way of thinking would have spoken to their heart and made them think.”

In that moment I realized what was so powerful about being so different than my husband. In that moment I realized that together we could do something really beautiful for God. If I hadn’t considered his way of thinking, I wouldn’t have fully appreciated my own way of thinking. I wouldn’t have been able to take what I know and improve it. I wouldn’t fully understand how sharing the Truth could definitely be covered in deep Love.

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Well Being

Taking A Chance With Pomegranates

So a couple of weeks ago I talked about experiencing burnout. Then a few weeks before that I talked about how I just never make last minute plans. Well, I thought I would give an update on how things are going and how applying last minute plans has helped to really change my perspective on life and relieve the burnout.

Last week I was standing in line at the market, waiting to pay for my fruit, when I saw these mini pomegranates sitting in a box next to the avocados. I immediately thought about how I have been needing some photo opportunities that didn’t involve calling up a friend and setting up a time. I thought to myself, “Pomegranates are interesting and colorful. Why not give these a try?”

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Usually I would just talk myself out of such “nonsense” because who really has time to sit and eat the juice off of a pomegranate seed after taking the time to take pictures of them? I got a little stressed out about the idea but then realized that I needed to take the chance. Since I have been trying to let go of my fears and just do things that I have been wanting to do, this was my one small chance, which was only going to cost me $3 for 3 of them.

I mean, just a few days before, I had actually gotten myself to sit down in the comfy chair of our living room, with my laptop, and whipped out my credit card to purchase a plane ticket to go see my brother and his family. I did it without Chris’s help. I did it with my own personal credit card. I even felt OK with spending a lot right then and there. So buying 3 pomegranates really wasn’t a big deal anymore. I was on a roll and going places!

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I finally got around to photographing this fruit in the evening of my day off last week. I cut up the fruit and set it up on a large cutting board in the front window, so it could get some of the last light of the day. After getting a few shots, I sat down on my ottoman, close to the floor, and started to pick away at the juicy seeds. Here I was crouched by the window, with a cutting board sitting on the radiator, watching cars drive by. Those annoying little seeds made me sit still and take in the moment. Though it wasn’t a picture perfect moment (the neighbor’s cigarette smoke was wafting through), the stillness was perfect.

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Discovering that taking these little chances could release fear, was so profound. In that little moment of stillness I could see what God was doing for me. After feeling like I just couldn’t make it anymore, I was reminded that, YES, I am making it! While my mind might be tired, God is growing a part of me that has been held captive for oh. so. long. While I could be getting bent out of shape about burnout, God is showing me that fear of failure is slowly loosing it’s grip on me….

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18

What small things are making a difference in your life? What little moments are changing and releasing the fear in your heart?

Devotions

The Bible Stumps Me Sometimes

Have any of you tried to read your way through the Bible? I kinda am right now. For someone who likes to be organized I am in no way going about it in a uniform way. I read a whole book through and then move on to another one somewhere else in my Bible. For instance, right now I am reading Job. Before that, I had just finished up with the minor prophets, then Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. I am not even sure that I am naming those in order of my reading. Either way, I am getting through.

Something else I am doing is using these Bible highlighters that are made out of wax. It keeps the color from bleeding through the thin pages. I have 6 colors that I keep all in order of the rainbow (at least that is organized) and I use them based on different things that I am looking for. I use green for promises, blue for anything about the new & old covenant, pink for God’s compassion & love, yellow for semi interesting ideas, orange for “IT’s AWESOME” or anything to do with the mind, sight, or light, and then finally purple is my miscellaneous wild card (there are so many awesome things in the Bible so I don’t want to make it too orange). Using the highlighters helps me know that I completed something as well as give me something to go back to.

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I have been pretty happy with my system, but right now I am stumped. Being in Job I thought it would really move me, but I find it hard to highlight anything that Job’s friends say because… well… they weren’t really nice. It has left me a little confused. Why does God leave something that isn’t necessarily His Truth and Light to grace the pages of His love letter? Because of my fear of highlighting and coming back later to interpret that one verse wrong, it got me thinking.

I then went out for a run and started to contemplate what I read in Job. It’s at one point in the conversation with the friends that Job goes on a rant about how the good and wicked both die. That we are all in the same boat. No one is discriminated under God’s hands. This made me realize that no matter where I go in life, there will be things to discern. The Truth will not always come prepackaged, wrapped in a blue bow, and addressed to us Christians. We have to do a little wading through the muck to get through to the good stuff. The good will sometimes look like the bad and vice versa.

Sometimes we have to face situations that are like Job’s not-so-friends in order to really understand the true definition of God’s character and His Light. Not to mention that we need to continually ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. Our own minds are tainted by sin! But here is the happy part. 🙂 Because of the experience that Job had, one that the devil put him through, he came out stronger in his faith and was blessed even more than before the trial!

Being stumped doesn’t always mean an end. Sometimes it is only the beginning of a blessing that is so outside of our imagination, that we can only deem it possible when it happens. Keep reading friends!

Well Being

What To Do With Burnout

When it comes to our health, we often don’t notice that there are issues until the symptoms creep in. I remember eating oatmeal every day for almost a year and not realizing that my stomach was becoming more and more irritated over time. It wasn’t till I found myself physically sick each time I ate breakfast, that I knew something was out of balance. The same thing goes for our mental and emotional health. We can push ourselves to the brink until we hit a wall, without even knowing that our minds have been crying out for a while.

About a week ago I finally admitted that I had hit that very wall. For several days I felt extremely lethargic and like my body was a big chunk of lead. I was having a hard time sleeping at night and could barely concentrate on work or build up enough motivation to do simple projects. Each day I felt more and more guilty for not being able to perform as usual. Then it hit me. I remember sitting alone and began to weep. Admitting that you can’t do everything under the sun can be hard. At least for me. What really hit me was that I couldn’t make everything run smoothly. That no matter how hard I tried to make things easier for everyone, there were going to be things that I couldn’t control. Things that only God could work out.

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity. – Proverbs 24:16

Today, I am not completely over my burn out. Parts of it created anger that I am still trying to sort out with God. At the same time, just realizing that I needed to make a change in my life was such a big step. It has motivated me to think differently and balance things out. I have had to force myself to let some things go and just relax. I still nervously clean sometimes. I still want the best for everyone in my life, but I know that I have some things to work out so that I don’t smash my face into that same wall of burnout, time after time, until I need outside help.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Burnout is different for everyone. Everyone has a different threshold. At the same time we all need to pay attention to the triggers. We all want to be awesome at life, but sometimes life is far beyond us and requires teamwork, patience, and faith. Do you have any tips for preventing burnout? What do you do to keep your mind balanced? Are there any triggers that could be warning you too?

Well Being

You Are Beauty

It can be easy to think that we aren’t beautiful enough. Good enough. Smart enough. We compare ourselves with others, even as we get older and have our lives sorta figured out. No matter what age you are as a woman, you are faced with the thought, “am I beautiful?” It has taken me a while to really wrap my mind around the true beauty of being a Christian woman. We can go ahead and love everything about ourselves, even the flaws. But what is it that makes us truly beautiful and is it ok to not like the flaws?

As humans we are built with these flaws. Inside we can find darkness, hatred, jealousy, and self condemning thoughts. We try to cover this all up with acceptance, but it just doesn’t seem to satisfy. There is still this longing for complete purity and beauty. What is it then that makes us beautiful? What are we looking for?

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

It isn’t till we come in contact with Christ that we truly discover our purpose, our beauty. Sin taints our true destiny. It clouds our hearts from what God intended. With God, I have found that my heart has been changing. Inside I feel more beautiful and complete in His goodness. Any time I feel my pride rising or my anger building because of my own selfish desires, I speak with Him. I tell Him to give me a new heart.

I have wrestled with the idea of self care and satisfying my own selfish desires. I am an introvert so I do need a lot of down time to recharge so that I can face the world again. I get it. At the same time I have come to find that the more that I ask God to change my heart, He always seems to put me in situations where I have less down time. You know, me time. It makes me question His involvement in refining my character. At the same time I am realizing that God is trying to stretch me for a purpose. When God first started working on my heart, I had to have longer periods of time alone. Now I need less. My friendships with others have deepened and I have been able to provide for others in ways I never thought possible.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26

Those down times that I thought I needed, were just my ways of coping with the flaws. Yes, we are beautiful in God’s eyes either way, but He wants us to see how beautiful we really are in Him! We were made in His image for a beautiful and wonderful purpose! All we have to do is give Him our sin for His soft, kind heart. If you are questioning whether God really loves you enough to give you His heart, take some time and read about His death in the gospels.

In Him we are beauty.

Devotions

Thoughts From Last Minute Plans

I have had this deep desire for God to strip me of my fear and give me a heart that is open and ready to create. I have been a bit impatient. I still have fears and get anxious about things I had no idea were an issue, but He is working. In His care, He is changing this heart that wants to be free. It isn’t how I thought it would be, but then again God is the one that is creative in knowing how to change my worry wart heart.

DSC_9791So the other night, Wednesday to be exact, my friend Jackie (who is a writer here) posted on Facebook that there was going to be a JJ Heller concert, during a small women’s retreat, about 2 hours west of me. I don’t usually jump at things so quick, but there I was writing on the post that I wanted to go. I thought to myself, why shouldn’t I? So I did. I even bought myself a ticket online. Usually I panic and have to have Chris buy things online for me.  Seems strange for some, maybe, but I get anxiety over new things. It is so engrained in my heart sometimes, that I don’t even know that I am shutting down ideas, opportunities, and risks. God had other plans. He got me to get up the courage to purchase the ticket online and set up a meeting spot so that I could catch a ride.

DSC_9810While I did nervously pick at my nails the whole night and looked at the luminous green sky through the tent flaps (Yes, the concert was under a tent out in the countryside of Lancaster County. Awesome right?), I enjoyed myself. There were so many beautiful and simple things that I learned this night. I thought I might share them with you.

  • God reveals Himself so beautifully through a group of women. Since He is mentioned as a man in the Bible and came to earth as a man, it is hard to picture Him as being like us ladies. I saw it and it was awesome.
  • JJ Heller talked about how when she was younger she always thought of herself as an athlete. Then one day, her success as a basketball player ended and she had no where to turn. She expressed how God gave her something new to do and here we are. It gave me courage to know that God has so many creative opportunities up His sleeve for me, and you!
  • I got to see again the beauty of God being worshipped through a gift that He gave to JJ Heller and her husband. When you are called, it looks so natural. It takes a lot of hard work and challenging days, but in the end it looks effortless. That’s what I love seeing.
  • God showed me that I needed to stop, pay attention to those around me and see how intricate their lives are. I have such high expectations for myself that it often rolls over into my relationships with others. I had the opportunity of sharing this experience with women who are valuable jewels that I now know more. Charity, Beth-Anne, and Jackie – you are a gift from God to me. Even if we have known each other for a short time, I enjoyed taking my simple risk with you.

DSC_9783God doesn’t stop amazing me. I think that when we embrace our creativity and stop putting ourselves in these cookie cutter expectations and take a healthy risk, we can see how creative God is in reaching us. He won’t stop at anything to woo our hearts. For me it was a last minute concert set in the country side, which is my favorite! For you, it could me something else.

Well Being

Doing It Despite The Challenge

Have you been wanting to do something for a while, but just can’t seem to get up the courage to do it? Or do you feel like you just aren’t equipped to do the job? Maybe you are even doing something currently that has nothing to do with what you really want to do. I feel like this most days. The idea of possibly making a mistake or sticking out like a sore thumb in front of others makes me cringe. I don’t want to embarrass myself even though no one will ever notice.

What is it that compels people to move forward? I discovered one such way while reading about Nehemiah, the cup bearer for King Artaxerxes. He was just a servant when he first heard about the condition of his homeland. Somehow he had the courage to confront the king and ask him if he could go back to his home and rebuild. At first you would think it was the courageous act of asking the king that showed his perseverance, but no. I was more amazed by what happened when he was well into the work of building the walls of the city.

People in the surrounding area became angry that the walls were going up and gaps were being filled. Nehemiah stood firm and for what?

And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

And it happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had brought their plot to nothing, that all of us returned to the wall, everyone to his work. – Nehemiah 4:14-15

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Sometimes it can be hard to face opposition or criticism. Even before we begin what we want to do, we fear the “attack.” The thing is that we don’t have to fear. We have God on our side. For a long time I had insecurities that kept me from really being a photographer. It prevented me from doing my best or noticing opportunities. Once I finally realized that God made me to be the person I am, I became fearless. Just this past weekend I was able to do a shoot without worrying what people thought of me or if they wondered if I knew what I was doing. I just went in and tackled the job which was the biggest family photo session I had ever done!

So don’t give up. Don’t assume that you have to hand in your bag of tricks just because you aren’t like the next guy or can’t do something perfectly at first try. One thing that I do now when in a shoot is to tackle one problem at a time, instead of analyzing the whole situation as a complete disaster. God gives us wisdom, gifts, and the desire to do good around us. We can do it!

Well Being

Watching Fear Being Conquered

It is easy to give advice about conquering anxiety or fear. It is a whole other thing to see it happening right before your eyes and being able to capture those moments. Insecurity, pain, and doubt can all play into this cycle of panic. Should I do this? Can I move forward? Maybe I shouldn’t do this? Or, I just can’t. In these moments it is hard to see what could be conquerable or doable.

As a photographer I have the opportunity to see the struggle and triumph collide. There are fears of having your picture being taken, anxiety of standing up in front of 100s of people and singing a song, or like these two stories I was able to witness this past week.

The first is about Jacob. I first got to know him when he came to our house and met our cat for the first time. He backed away up the stairs and didn’t want anything to do with our black and green eyed creature. He further explained his fear for cats and I could empathize with his fear. I explained to him that Mix, our cat, was not to be feared. Jacob then came and made an attempt to pet Mix on the head. Success!

While I was out photographing the canvassers this past week, I had the opportunity to catch Jacob with this cat at a door. You see, this is a photo of victory. While Jacob was knocking on the door, this striped cat decided to come up to him. He quickly started backing away from the door and I thought to myself, “Don’t back away from the door! You have a canvass to make!” So I quickly piped up and said, “He is a nice cat Jacob!!”

Jacob then asked while backing into the tree, “How do you know?!”, and I said, “He is coming up to rub against your leg. It’s going to be ok!”

And this, my friends, is what happened. Fear was conquered.

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My next story is simple and it involves three beautiful ladies deciding to follow Jesus and be baptized. Without going into too much detail these ladies had a challenging summer of going door to door selling books and experiencing rejections and triumphs. As young people it can be hard to face these challenges when they are still trying to figure out life and where they fit in it. The decision to make a visual commitment before friends and family to follow Jesus is a big thing and cannot be taken for granted. I remember sitting in on the discussion about baptism and how the misconceptions of what it means were thrown away. I heard of freedom and guilt being tossed.

Making the decision to be baptized doesn’t mean you arrive. It just means you can’t hide that you want to follow Jesus and that each day is a brand new day in Him. The devil likes to throw in doubt, thoughts of insecurity and worthlessness, and thousands of reasons why we aren’t worthy of the gift that God is offering. Shay, Kelly, and Ellen decided to go forward and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. This is no small feat! Look at the joy. I couldn’t have been more blessed to capture these moments.

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In my heart I know that, I too, struggle with doubt and fear. I know what it is like to let the negative thoughts fly and think that I can’t do something. At the same time I have millions of stories under my belt of how God blessed my life and those around me. This post is to remind you of the fact that through Christ we can do anything. Through Him the hopelessness that we may feel at different times are conquerable. Move forward friend! Do what you were destined to do!

*The featured image is of Jairit who was telling a story of the time she met an angel. Sends chills up my spine, in a good way!*

 

Relationships

Keeping A Bad Attitude Out

I don’t know about you but I don’t like to sugar coat things. Even though I tend to wish for an idealistic life as a perfectionist, I know that life just isn’t what we want it to be. I have been watching the world fall apart and have taken note of how so many families are struggling. This makes me want to stand up and do something. I know that I cannot change the world in a split second, so I decided to look at this issue a little deeper.

The relationship that I have the most influence over is my own with my husband. In this I have full reign in attempting to put out the flames of destruction. In evaluating this part of my life I came up with one very valuable lesson. If you want to have a good relationship, you need to stop blaming the other person for all the issues. I have noticed myself doing a lot of pointing. My emotions flare of up every so often and I blame it on hormones or Chris. Things become toxic and stressful. I always seem to fail in my attempts and apologize one too many times. So what needs to be done?

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One thing that I started to do in my prayer journal is write down a request to God. I know that in and of myself I cannot be a better wife. I need my attitude to change. I cannot do it alone. So I started asking God to protect my home and marriage. I don’t think that we realize how strong the devil attacks us. By writing “protect our home” I was making it plain that the devil was real and not just an idea. I wanted extra protection so that when I was in a state of vulnerability, it was God that was there to step in and change my attitude and not the devil.

Since starting this, I have seen my attitude greatly change. Though things aren’t perfect, our home is a much more pleasant place. Chris doesn’t have to experience more stress when he comes home from a day of work issues. I don’t assume the worst and blame everything on him either. It is a lot easier to recognize when I am acting out in my own selfish nature and be able to ask God for help in removing that behavior.

Sometimes we think that being a Christian is so outside of ourselves. Like it is something that we do in a soup kitchen or at church. It is a lifestyle and it starts with your family and home. The way we live is how others will see us and trust us with what we have to share. I can’t tell you how valuable it has been for me to discover that God is what makes this home safe. He is the one that reveals to me my bad attitude. You have no idea how many times I have asked for His forgiveness or how many times He has granted it and made me new. Sometimes I don’t even notice the change coming over me till I look back and say to Chris, “Things have been pretty awesome lately, huh?”