Monday, November 24, 2014

To the Labeled {To My Sisters}

I'm sure some of the words in the picture above are all too familiar. Most of us have worn one, two, three, or more, of these...labels.

This is how we identify ourselves.

You've cried tears because you can't rip off the label. Most of the time you don't even try because you believe that it really is your identity. I mean it's obvious, right? You've been forgotten. You've had your heart torn up and kicked around like a play toy. Your hair, skin tone, makeup, and clothes aren't even a third as perfect as the girl in the magazine...or closer to home, the girl sitting next to you in school. You talk too much, or not enough. You didn't make the grades you should have. You've lied too many times and have been too prideful to believe you deserve any amount of worth.

So here you find yourself. Labeled.

These labels hold us back, and we know it. We can't know our true identity while covering it up with words and phrases like, "scared," "not good enough," and "undeserving." But is this true? Is this really who we are?

Like Satan whispered to Eve, he whispers to you, "It's better this way." Satan is crafty, he's cunning, he's the father of lies (John 8:44). We wonder why Eve ever listened to him, not realizing that we too often listen to him just like she did. He's used the same strategy since the beginning of time and we've become so blinded that we believe him just like Eve did. He even gives us the lie that we aren't blind! He tells us we aren't listening to any lies. You're not believing anything's all right. So we live our lives believing the world would be a better place with us donned in our labels. Satan makes them seem fitting, like he made eating the fruit seem appropriate, and even logical to Eve. She found out quickly it was wrong; eating the fruit wasn't as logical as Satan made it out to be. But what about you? Maybe you haven't realized as quickly, but Satan is lying to you. He's leading you to believe that your identity is in those labels and there is nothing you can do to change them. You are who you are. 

But grace.

But mercy.

But love.

But Christ...

He rips off the labels. He doesn't see them. For all those who have believed in Christ as their Lord and Savior, He is your label. 

"For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." -2 Corinthians 5:21

There's your grace. There's your mercy. There's your love. There's your label. 

There is no grace more amazing, no mercy as forgiving, no love as unconditional, no label more beautiful. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Children Portraits | Peyton and Dylan :: Wilmington, NC Portrait and Lifestyle Photographer

I am so glad I had the opportunity to photograph these two little ones. I mean, just look at them...they're absolutely adorable :). Peyton is a sweetheart and always stopped to smile her beautiful smile for a picture. Dylan is an adventurous little boy; he was all over the place, running, giggling, and being silly. They and their mom were both a joy to be with!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Redemption Story {To My Sisters}

In the last post I introduced myself to you, going a little deeper than a simple "about me," but today I want to go even deeper and share my "redemption story," as I like to call it.

I write this story to let others know they're not alone. I write this story to emphasize God's hope, healing, and power. I write this story to encourage you. I write this story to reveal God's amazing grace in my life.

Now I want to get one thing clear: this story isn't about me. This story is about God and His divine wisdom, faithfulness, everlasting love, and His power to heal.

I can't tell my redemption story without bringing in the healing part I mentioned above. For about 5-6 years I struggled with anxiety. I remember it as one of the hardest times of my life. You see, one of the problems that people who deal with anxiety experience is that they cannot accept the fact that everything is "okay." Those who've never struggled with anxiety may not understand this, but those of you who have/had anxiety know exactly what I mean. You could have told me a million times to stop worrying, but that wouldn't make a difference. I needed healing.

Obviously anxiety would have affected me emotionally and physically, but it also affected me spiritually, and that's where my redemption story comes in. I don't recall when the anxiety began, but one of the first moments that pops into my mind is when I was around 8 or 9-years-old and I told my mom that I wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. While discussing it together, my mom asked me if I believed. At that moment the Devil attacked. Do you really believe? Are you absolutely sure? I doubted my belief in God and those doubts lingered all throughout my struggle with anxiety (which, just to make clear, was more than just doubting my faith in God).

After years of dealing with anxiety, Jesus healed me and the doubts fled. I trusted in Jesus and was ready to publicly profess my faith through baptism. I remember that joyous day. For a while I struggled with the fact that I would be "older" getting baptized (I was only 14, but most of my friends and family had been much younger so that's why I considered myself older). For a long time I was afraid of what people would think. Maybe you're older and have never publicly professed your faith in Christ and you're having the same concerns, but hear what I say next: The day I got baptized was one of the happiest days of my life. Suddenly no one else's opinion mattered, and honestly they should only feel joy for you and the Kingdom, but on that day I knew what indescribable peace meant. I was full of joy! When you trust Christ as your Lord and Savior He gives you that peace, that joy. It's real, and I know because I felt it. I still feel it. Christ is my Hope, Redeemer, and Healer. Life isn't always peaches and sunshine, but no matter what is going on I know Jesus' words are true:

"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." - John 16:22

Don't miss out on this truth! This hope. When I see finally see Him I know my heart will rejoice. Many times on this earth He leaves me overwhelmed and in awe of Him, but I know that feeling can't even compare to what I'll experience when meeting Him in heaven. This hope gives me peace, true peace...don't miss it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Portraits | Sarah :: Wilmington, NC Portrait and Lifestyle Photographer

Sarah Grace with the smiling face. That's what we've always called her. She's a gem. Our family is so, so blessed to be able to call her ours.

She told me she wanted to do a photo shoot all her own! With different outfits! By the lake! She was so excited :). But her excitement then didn't compare to her excitement on the actual photo shoot. She was full of her own ideas for poses and would hardly sit still long enough for me to take her picture. A photographer loves that kind of excitement though ;)