The Scarlet Letter

I was shunned today.

For as far back as I can remember, I have known a woman who, though no relation, has always been family to me.  See, my grandfather (Papa) was a preacher and this woman was a vital member of the church.  She had the sweetest soul I had ever known.  She had more influence on me than my own mother.  When I was a teenager, I kept my nose clean just so I’d never disappoint her.  As an adult, I learned in those teenager years, she was going to ask me to move in with her and her family due to my own home being broken.  We were very close and stayed close even after the birth of my three daughters.

When I was 30 years old, I had returned to Louisiana and returned to the church she still attended.  The church where my papa had preached.  For a while everything was as it had always been.  As many times they will, things turned sour.  She called me out one day to tell me my actions were inappropriate.  Apparently times had changed and you just weren’t supposed to show love toward anyone anymore.  Let me elaborate.  Growing up in the church I grew up in, people hugged.  Men hugged men.  Women hugged women.  Men and women hugged.  Kids even hugged. Love and appreciation for the church family you knew was shown.  Times had changed though, and I didn’t get the memo.  Not until that phone call from her that day, 17 years ago.

Since she had always been that person I didn’t want to disappoint, or maybe it was just myself not understanding this more appropriate behavior, I was crushed.  I was mortified. Everything I knew to be an act of true affection was now a vile display of a scarlet letter.  I no longer even knew how to act.  At all.

Shortly after my shame held me back, I visited a church where the pastor who succeeded my papa was now preaching.  After the service, he went to the back doors as he always had, to shake hands and do that ever so despicable act of hugging everyone who came to hear the Word of God.  As I made my way to him, I stuck out my now shy hand to shake his.  He had the most confused look on his face and reached in for that hug.  That hug that melted all those insecurities away. He even knew it was an act of love that wasn’t filthy.  It was pure unadulterated love from one child of God to another.

Today, I saw that woman who I used to look up to.  I hadn’t seen her in 17 years.  She looked me right in the eye and forced herself to look away.  This woman of God who was the sweetest soul I had ever known.  Still, all these years, holding a judgement against me for doing something she was actually a part of teaching me as a young child.  I said hi anyway and walked on.  Not feeling any guilt.  Not feeling any embarrassment, not feeling anything other than how sad it was for her very heart to have that judgment ruling it.

Today I was shunned, but today, her judgement didn’t matter.

 

 

Living for the Call – Part 2

Continuing from part 1 of this post…
It has been 6 years since I put down my camera.  I’ve thought about it from time to time, but with working the regular 8-5 grind, going to college, dealing with things life was chucking hard at me, it would only be a passing thought.  I didn’t have time to think about it much anyway, much less really dig deep into it again.
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend/business partner, about things that make me tick.  What is it I do to escape from the chaos of the world around me.  While discussing hiking and a few other things, photography was thrown into the mix.  I began telling him about my photography past when he asked why don’t I just do it now.  I couldn’t give him an answer.  He said just do it, then.  Later that day, talking with my sister, she told me I needed to pick up my camera again.  Don’t these people understand, I’m done with photography?  A few days later, without mentioning that I used to somewhat have a photography business, a friend asked if I would take photos of her soon to be born newborn.  I told her I would.  She’s never even seen a piece of my work.  What was all this photography stuff people were all of a sudden talking to me about?  Was it a sign?  I’m not sure I believe in signs in that manner.  Either way, it intrigued me and since I couldn’t remember exactly why such little things took it from me to begin with, I began to study up on the latest props and techniques for newborn photography. Before I knew it, I was watching lighting techniques, tutorials, and shoot-offs.  I was then sucked into the vortex.
So, of course, I’m relearning, studying up on the most current trends for portrait photography, specifically newborn photography, figuring out things a little more clearly, and actually looking at it in a different light (no pun intended).  Before, I was focused on all the fun equipment I could get and never really learn how to use it.  (Auto mode queen, remember).  I was focused on never being good enough because I didn’t really feel I was that great at it.  I just knew I loved it.  I also compared myself to the greatest photographers out there and let the small things get in the way of my fun.

Today is a new day.  Today I dig out my camera and today I become a photographer.

Living for the Call – Part 1

What is your calling?  Your passion?  The one thing that interests you so much, you can’t get it out of your head, your heart?  I’ve never really been one to wonder, really.  I’ve always had so many interests, that each one seemed to hold it’s rightful place and percentage in my heart.  I’ve always felt I was a jack of all trades, master of none.  Being a pre-nursing student, medicine pulls hard on my “chordae tendineae”.  (see what I did there?)  I love woodworking, building things from basically nothing, (I’m not good at it). I love to write and am in the process of writing my first book.  I love learning.  Absolutely love learning.  I LOVE learning.  I also love photography.
I love photography.  I have loved it for as long as I can remember.  When I was about 9 years old, my dad owned a Kodak Disc camera.  I wanted it.  My siblings and I were given gifts from my dad.  They both received new items.  I managed to get the used, slightly scuffed Kodak Disc 4000 camera and I thought there was nothing else on Earth that could be any more cool than that.  It rocked!
I believe every picture envied by my family is one I actually took.  Not bad for a kid, right?  In all honesty, since I loved taking pictures so much, I was probably the one who took them all, so I can’t really brag on myself.  I have one I took of my sister mowing the lawn with a push mower, which may be treasured by myself more than by her.  As I got older, I was always the one with the camera.  I really don’t know if I just enjoyed taking pictures or just enjoyed having the pictures.  Either way, I had the camera and there are very few pictures of me in the collection of negatives.
Skip ahead a bit.  After the birth of my first daughter, I was offered an SLR from my husband’s aunt to use as long as I wanted.  I did.  That is what birthed my desire to have my own photography business.  I took pictures of my daughter and a little boy I babysat from time to time, using blankets as backdrops and going to flea markets for photo props.  I learned that SLR’s auto mode the best I could.  I was a 35mm queen in auto mode!  I had no idea what all those other dials were for, all I know is when I would turn that dial to anything other than auto, my pictures didn’t quite turn out as nice.  Sometimes, but hardly ever.  There was no YouTube back then and certainly no Google.
I still loved photography though.  My family supported me in it even though I never made a dime off it.  They just liked my photography.  Auto mode 35mm.  Then I got my own 35mm SLR, had a couple more little girls, and hardly took any pictures of them.  What is it they say?  A carpenter needs new cabinets, a mechanic has a broken down car in his yard?  Yeah, the irony.  I feel it.
Then digital cameras came out.  I acquired a DSLR or two, or several.  Then I decided to open up the whole idea of a photography business again.  Kind of.  I was still the one who took all the pictures everywhere I went.  I still wasn’t doing it in a serious fashion.  I just enjoyed it.  I began to learn more and somewhat got out of auto mode. The Internet was readily available, so I networked a bit, got my feet a little deeper in the water, went on a few photo walks, and got a little creative. I started to take portraits of friends and family members. I began to dream of a photography business once again and rented a home that had a building that was perfect for a photography studio.  It was actually a major selling point for me.

One day, randomly, I captured a picture of my baby niece and cropped everything out of the shot except her.  I had an online photo lab I used and submitted the photo to put on Gator-board.  The day I went to mail it to my sister, was the day I began to make my dream come true.  As I had that big photo in my hand standing in line at the post office, a lady was in awe of it and asked me all about it.  She then proceeded to ask me if I would take her son’s senior portraits.   I ecstatically accepted the challenge.  This was a Wednesday.  She needed them taken by Friday.  We did that photoshoot.  Then afterward, she asked if they would be ready by Monday.  Guess what I did all weekend long?  She got the digitals, but the actual prints, she had to wait a couple weeks.  She almost broke my spirit.  I mean, she did… until she paid me.  That profit made me go all in and never look back.  For a moment, anyway.
Shortly after, I had a maternity, baby shower, newborn photo opp.  I shot the maternity.  I shot the baby shower, and since I trusted the relative of the subject, I didn’t ask for a deposit.  I was even naïve enough to give the photos through email “for viewing only”.  Then I saw the photos posted on social media…edited with junk photo editing software and no skill.  I also never knew when the baby was born and never got a dime from them.  In the meantime, I had acquired several  more shoots, but I had lost my love for photography.  I thought I did, anyway.  Now, I realize I just didn’t like people and their love for posting preproduction freebie photos and ruining my image.  So, I gave it up.

To be continued…

Introduction

Hi there!
So it’s 2020 already?  A week into 2020 has passed already?  How?  Why does time move at such an accelerated pace the older we get?  I almost cringe when my girls mention memories of their childhood as if their childhoods were decades long.  How can they act as if between the ages they were in kindergarten and high school were anything more than just 8 years?  Yet in those 8 short years, they are able to tell stories that would make Marcel Proust’s work seem like a newspaper article. But, here in the now, as this new year, new decade storms into action, it’s time for me to take action with my plans for my life and with loads of consideration, I’ve decided to start this blog and journal my life to the world and to document for self reflection.
I’m a mother of 3 girls who are somehow now grown women, a grandmother to a strong willed, precious blonde haired little 2 1/2 year old boy who loves me more than I deserve, and a woman who has decided to rediscover herself in a way that Antonio Damasio would be proud. I have so many interests, hobbies, responsibilities, beliefs, opinions, ideas, likes and dislikes, and skills I should transform into trades, etc.  The list goes on and on because, well, I’m human.  As this blog rolls on, the facets of who I am will inevitably show, so…
Here I am, in the raw.

Challenge: Finding the Father in God

Like a mysterious pattern, and perhaps further back than I am aware, the fathers in my family have been absent.  My mother’s dad abandoned her when she was just a couple months old, never to be heard from again.  My father did the same to me when I was 9 years old, coming back around off and on when I was 16 until I was 40.  With being married twice, my first husband never cared much about seeing my oldest daughter and my second marriage of 18 years, my youngest two daughters’ dad did the same thing to them.  After 2 years of choosing to be separated from him, he committed suicide, leaving the girls fatherless forever.

A void is undoubtedly left in the hearts of those of us who have experienced this abandonment.  Maybe step-dads can fill that void, I wouldn’t know.  What we are told, though is that our Heavenly Father can and will.  How though?

Years ago I ran across a prayer journal I had kept years prior to that.  Unfortunately I wasn’t very thorough with the information in it or I would have known the answer for myself to this post.  I remember the entry I had read that day.  I had listened to a sermon  and was thanking God for my revelation of what it meant for him to be my father.  It bothered me so much that I couldn’t remember that revelation as I read that journal entry.  I never tried to revisit that question until now.

My youngest daughter came home from a youth retreat today telling me how she had opened up to her counselor about her dad.  She never talks to her friends about the suicide, even to the friends who blurt out how they, too, want to end their own lives.  This was a first for her.  Tension and pressure was released from her body as she and her counselor sobbed together.  Now, wanting to find the meaning of “God, the Father” weighs even more on my heart so I can help her find that in Him.

Here is an excerpt from an article I came across tonight in my quest to find answers and I found it brilliant! :

source

He lovingly corrects us. As the true Father, God’s discipline and correction are always done out of love (Hebrews 12:3-11). Help your kids recognize the ways that God’s Spirit corrects us in our everyday decisions and interactions with others, how we can feel Him prodding us toward decisions that reflect His love and truth, and how we feel convicted when we choose to disobey.

He provides for our needs. Show your kids all the ways God provides for our needs. Celebrate rainstorms and apple trees and lakes full of fish. How much joy the true Father must receive when we enjoy all the good gifts that He has provided through creation (Matthew 7:11).

He gives us His wisdom. We help our kids learn life skills and encourage them in their gifts and talents. But help them see that true wisdom comes from our heavenly Father. His inspired Word is the ultimate source of wisdom and truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17d).

He always welcomes us back. We forgive our children when they mess up, and we try to help them make better choices in the future. Help your kids recognize that this is just a glimpse of God’s role in our lives. He is the ultimate model of forgiveness. We all mess up, but our true Father is constantly on watch for our return, running to us with joy when we turn back to His family (Luke 15:11-32).

Although written for guidance to younger children, it can be adapted for older teens and adults alike.  A journey, I myself, will take.

What have been your revelations of God as your father? Do you still struggle to see him in that light?  What has helped?  What has confused you?