Dear Ancestor

20181120_133732I saw your image in one of the best museums in the world.  You didn’t look happy, but I was happy to see you.  I am sure your world had been turned upside down because you wouldn’t even look up in your pose.  It is as if you said I will do this job but I won’t be proud. I won’t show you how much this has hurt me.

He painted your image fully dressed standing behind a table surrounded by your work utensils, bowls and pitchers. Some title this image the Kitchen Scene, not even admitting that there is a person in it, while others call it the Kitchen Maid, or La Mulata, La Cocinera. They should call it, You Stole My Life Now You Want Me To Cook

It was 1618 and you had probably been ripped from your home and all you knew. You wondered if you would ever see your family or homeland again. You probably didn’t.

I am grateful that you existed and fought that end of the battle for me. I will tell your stories and remind our people of the sacrifice you made.

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And I thank God for you and that He had someone paint you to remind us of all you missed out on like having your family near. Like when you are having a bad day at work and there is no one to complain to. Like being able to quit your job and go work for someone who respects you. Like being able to do what you were created to do. The simple things we take for granted and consider them a right when they are really a gift from God.

When the man was painting your image, it was probably irritating, but it left a beacon of light for us 400 years later.  I am grateful.

 

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The Route Might Be Clear

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I stood at this sign over a month ago. It was one of those fun photos you take when you are on a girl’s trip.  You are on Route 66, the historical highway and it seems like the possibilities are endless. It was fun.

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A month later I am standing on Michigan Ave and I see this sign. Wow.  It didn’t even hit me where I was or how crazy cool it was to there.  I had been invited to an on campus interview at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a graduate program. It was an honor to be there and talk about the possibilities.

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Chicago has a different vibe from the city where I currently live.  There was a moment when it started snowing.  Instead of the panic that insues in my part of the country, folks walked around taking pictures. We walked around taking pictures.

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All of this to say, God has incredible things planned for your life, you just got to Trust Him.  It is God when it is something that you can’t do on your own or with the help of your people.  Where is He leading you in 2018? There is lots of work to do, lets get to it.

 

 

 

 

8, 9, and 10 of my 17

Here are some more of the things I accomplished in 2017.

8. I learned to create digital art.  This was not easy nor did it come quickly. I changed colors, added images, deleted images and even created some from scratch. More importantly, I learned to look at it as digital art. I worked with Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

What I learned here is that you have to create your own path and don’t get side tracked by what other people can do. Do you.

 

9. At first, I was intimidated at the thought of creating light photography.  And my first few experiments did not work out. But, when it did work out, I loved it. Learning to do this photography was a blast. I enjoyed the experimental aspect of of itand trying to get the light to do what I wanted it to do.

 

10. I learned to photography with an Alien Bees Flash Unit.  This flash creates a flash of light that separates a subject from the background making the image very crisp. But the real learning happened when the Alien Bee didn’t work, but I still needed to created portrait studio quality images.  I learned to manipulate the settings on the camera to give almost the same quality of image. It broadened what I could do photographically.

 

I learned a lot in 2017. It made me a better photog and gave me the opportunity to take some amazing photos.  I also added new depth to my art.  If there is something you are really good at, look for some ways, maybe even unconventional, to add depth to it.  It will allow you to look at the world around you with new eyes.

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Comfortable is Not Your Calling

Do you find that in a day that is designed for 10 things, you do 20 because you are wonder woman or captain america? You are tired, but you can handle it. Let me just say that this is not your calling, One of the things you have to learn to say is NO.

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God will not call you to be so busy you don’t have time for this gift He has given you called life. I think we get so wrapped up in other people’s callings that we wear ourselves out trying to accomplish things that we were not meant to do. Learn to say no so some stuff that looks good so that you can get what is better.  One of the things I prayed for was a spirit of discernment. Lord, teach me what to do and when to do it.

Since I have let go of other people’s callings, God has taken me places I never would have imagined. I stopped trying to be what others wanted me to be. I began to embrace the things God called me to. I have found myself doing several things I never thought I could do.  In the next two weeks I will meet new challenges as an artist, as a photographer, as a writer and as a jesus follower. I am amused and scared at the same time.

 

One of my ahha moments this year was that God has a different idea of what success looks like that does not always match mine. Sometimes God just wants us to try some new stuff.  Some of us are so caught up in the same ol same ol that we won’t try anything new without a good reason. (I know from which I speak)

I have been on this journey with God for a while.  I have not looked up to Him and said “Lord, I’m bored.”  Kinda like a kid on an amusement park ride, there have been days I have asked to be taken off the crazy ride or to slow it down.  It is like when you start trying to teach your baby to walk.  Some of them find it scary because they fall and their legs are so unsure. Once they get used to it they appreciate the new ability.

God is the same way. There is so much He wants to teach us, but we get so scared we sit in the floor and say “I am not ever going to do that, it is too scary.” But God knows that once we trust Him and get the hang of it, we will love it.  He created us for it.

Over the next couple of weeks I have some amazing challenges before me.  There will be the tendency to sit in the floor and say “I can’t do that.” But I am going to put everything I got into it because success is not defined by me or determined by me.  I find my confidence in Christ because He called me to it.

Confessions of a Single Photographer

Over the past weeks I have had the privilege of photographing couples. I have met young couples and old couples. Some married a few years, while others have been together for decades. Some with children, many without. Their children were grown and gone.

I learned a lot about the condition of their couplehood by the way they looked at each other. While many would have us believe that marriage is something that is on the way out, I have seen something that disagrees with that stance. When people get an idea of what it is really all about, they will embrace the idea.

As a professional photographer, I meet a lot of people. I can snap hundreds of shots in a day. Many people put on their “taking a picture” mask.  It is my goal to crack that mask and get to the real person underneath. Some days I am successful, some days not. While trying to crack the mask on folks, I learned something with couples.

After having couples do a few tradition poses for their portraits, I ask them to look at each other. This moment tells me what these two people think about each other. They can hide everything from me and the camera, but when they look into the eyes of their love, truth comes forth. In most cases this is where the giggling starts. He giggles. She giggles. We all laugh. The photo shoot is pretty fun after that.

Now there were some couples who looked at each other and nothing happened. (I am single so it did take a few times for it to register that there was something going on in that marriage.) I just smiled and moved on. I felt sorry for them because they were missing out on what the others had.

The only thing better than taking the photo was watching the couples look at the photos of themselves. I remember one woman repeated over and over “Look at me and (his name).” The sight of their love for each other surprised her. She was overwhelmed by the sight of it.

I don’t get tired of men telling their wives they are beautiful. I do get tired of women blowing it off. I watched a man badger his wife because he thought she was beautiful, but she didn’t value his opinion. Yet, I love watching the love stories play out.

The Lord has allowed me to see all types of stories played out. I have watched a curmudgeon turn to jelly at a glance from his sweetheart and a wife who was ill, reach up and kiss her husband out of love. They all had their role to play in the relationship. The ones that were most secure where the ones that knew what role they played in the relationship.

Moments like these make me wait with anticipation for the man God has for me. I want to giggle at the sight of the man who loves me.