Archive for January, 2012

The Illuminated Word Project (January): God and Gardening

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

This year, I am participating in a group project with other photographers across the country. Once a month, we each select a part of the Bible and represent it some way visually through our photos.

We are a diverse group of seven women with different beliefs, and I am looking forward to an ongoing conversation with these photographers and with the people who read these blog posts.

(At the end of my blog post look carefully by the ******s to see the next person participating in the project.)

Welcome to The Illuminated Word Project!

God and Gardening
I am studying Genesis this year with some of the women in my church and our friends. I have also been spending time in our newly created community garden. I have been thinking a lot about gardening.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2.15)

Of all the places in the world that God could have created and then assigned as Adam and Eve’s home, why did he pick a garden? Of course, there is a pragmatic reason for this placement; the garden was an indispensible food source for Adam and Eve.

But I think there is more it this placement than just material provision.

We learn a whole lot more about what God wanted Adam and Eve (and people in general) to do with their lives from Genesis 1.26-28:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. . .” (Genesis 1.26-28)

So people aren’t just survivor-consumers who grow enough food to eat to stay alive.
People are image bearers, a reflection of who God is.

We look like God as we do two big things:
1) We reflect who God is as we fill the earth (as we are fruitful)
2) We reflect who God is as we subdue or have dominion over the earth.

Filling the Earth
First, we are supposed to fill the earth. God is a creative and generous God. And just as he gives abundant life to everything he makes, all of his creatures are able to give life in a limited way. Of course, filling the earth includes having babies and raising kids. But I think it can also mean building relationships and speaking life-giving words because in a way all these activities create or promote vitality.

Subduing the Earth
Secondly, we are called to subdue the earth. Subduing the earth is a little tricky to understand. But check out Genesis 1. God himself formed the world by differentiating it or distinguishing it into different habitats. Then he filled each habitat with inhabitants. He made day/ night (differentiated habitat) then filled it with sun, moon and stars (inhabitants that filled the habitat). He made water and sky (differentiated habitat) and filled it with sky and sea creatures (inhabitants that filled the habitat). He made land (structure-creating habitat) and filled it with land creatures and man (inhabitants).

Did you get that? God formed then filled. Formed then filled.
Do you see the parallel? We are supposed to subdue and fill. Subdue and fill—just like Him. So subdue is akin to form. Creation doesn’t need to be subdued in the sense that it needs to be beaten down to submission. Rather, our “subduing” or differentiating is an extension or further unfolding of His dynamic, creative work. How great is God that he lets us participate in the fun and joy of creative work!

So let’s get back to the garden. God put man in a beautiful garden that would provide for his needs. But there’s more to it than that: God put man in a garden where he could work by differentiating (subduing) and filling it.
We are made to work too. We are supposed to spend our time differentiating and filling.

Gardening and Work
Tim Keller writes, “As a gardener neither destroys the ground nor leaves it as it is, so is our work—whether arts, science, business, technology, finance, academia—we are “gardening” the creation, drawing out the resources and powers of the material universe. We are supposed to do this to create a ‘city’ that glorifies and reflects back to God his own richness and live and love and wisdom (see Revelation 21-22).”

A good gardener, studies the topography of the land, the sunlight, the rainfall, the climate, etc. He also takes stock of the various strengths, weaknesses, and needs of the diverse plants he wishes to grow. He then prepares the soil and creates the structure (the beds) for the plants. He is forming. He then matches each plant to a given location where that plant can thrive. He is filling. His goal is simply to draw out the best and the most from what he has been given.

Gardening and my vocation as wife, mom, and photographer
I do not grow food for a living. I am not a professional gardener or farmer.
But like a gardener, God does not want me to destroy where he has placed me or leave it as it is. He wants me to draw out the best and most of whatever he has given me. I am drawing out a fruitful harvest for his glory.

Where has God put me? He hasn’t put me in a garden—at least not very often. He has placed me in a marriage to Greg. He has placed me as a mom to Emmie, Carter, and Harrison. He has placed me in a neighborhood. He has placed me in San Antonio. As a photographer, He has placed me in a community of other photographers and in the lives of clients.

What I am supposed to do? I’m supposed to form and fill. Form and fill.

I form and fill by turning dirty laundry into fresh and clean, folded laundry ready to be worn again.

I form and fill by giving a dirty child a bath.

I form and fill by reducing the back-log of dirty dishes in the sink and putting clean ones in the cabinet.

I form and fill by prayerfully studying my children. I am learning to give them the freedom to be whom God has made them. I give them opportunities to explore how God has made them. I don’t expect them to be good at everything or like so-and-so. I form and fill by warning them of the dangers of living for their own desires and by urging them to return to God over and over. I form and fill by teaching them about God’s story of rescuing them from their sin in Jesus Christ.
I form and fill by listening to Greg and encouraging him. I don’t just say what he wants to hear. I seek his very best and say the hard things. I form and fill by leaving the computer or the unfolded laundry to spend time with him.

I form and fill as a photographer. God made light. He made color. He makes the relationships. He created marriage. He makes families. He made shape and color. He made time. He has given me the eyes, the mind, the opportunities, the money, the desire, the training, and the experience to become the photographer who I am. He is the Grand Story Teller. These are the resources that he has given me. And then he does something amazing. He lets ME pull from all these resources to create beautiful art that loves people. And it is fun!

Tim Keller rocks me out again as he summarizes what I am trying to say:
“When we take a piece of land and garden/farm it, or preserve it so it can produce its peculiar life-splendors, when we take fabric and make a piece of clothing, when we push a broom [to] clean up a place, when we use technology to harness the forces of electricity, when we take an unformed, naïve human mind and teach it a subject, when we take unprocessed material and turn it into a poignant work of art, when we take undifferentiated tones. . . and. . .create music (even when we pass a comb through our hair)—whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and ‘unfold’ creation further than where it was when we found it—we are continuing God’s work of creative, cultural development. . .. [H]e calls us now to labor as his representatives in a continuation and extension of [His] work.”

You can check out more photos of the Community Garden in my blog below.

*********Please check out all of the six other photographers participating in this project. The next step is Jenny and Stephanie at The Pure Life Project. Just click HERE. *********

My Beliefs
I think it is only fair to tell you where I am coming from. We are all religious people. We are all trying to find life, meaning, value, and purpose somewhere or in someone. What matters is what or whom we believe. This is what I believe. What do you believe?

This is what I believe: WHAT I BELIEVE
This is what I care about: WHAT I CARE ABOUT
Want to get fancy? GETTING FANCY
Have no idea where to start? Want to teach your kids about God? START HERE

The Community Garden

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Our new community garden has been rocking me out lately. We’ve been enjoying beets, brussels spouts, carrots, lettuce, and cabbage. It not just the produce or the super convenient location or the nice weather. It has been the people. Our family has been swinging by the community garden pretty regularly. You swing by enough times and you eventually meet people. It has been nice to run into some familiar faces and get to know them. My kids and I are all learning a little bit each time about gardening. All of the people whom I have met who have had a hand in starting the garden have been very welcoming.

I just want to say thank you to Linda, Gregg, and Karla. I know many, many others have been involved too, but I just don’t know them as well yet. I appreciate the hard work that you have put into making such a wonderful gathering place for our neighborhood. I hope when you all see these photos it makes you happy.

I shared some photos of our time there as part of my Illuminated Word project. I’d like to include some more of our community gardening from three different days.

We thought that daikon radish looked like a curvy lady. . .

Emmie turned herself into a human salad spinner the other day. I don’t think that maternal Emmie dropped a single leaf.

A couple of favorites that I’m reposting. . .

Harrison is pretty sweet on Karla. They made a great team harvesting spinach.

Carter loves any opportunity to hold a sharp object.

We harvested enough to cover the tops of two picnic tables last Saturday. We’re sharing the bounty.

Sarah’s Bridals

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I spent part of my birthday photographing this fabulous bride in a partially vacant hotel.

It was fun working with Sarah. She is down to earth. She’s comfortable in her own skin. She is beautiful. She had a certain “spark” about her. And she listens really well when you are shooting her.

And she brought along her creative mom, Nancy (whom I have known for years) and her super supportive maid of honor, Jacqueline. Jacqueline literally gave Sarah the shirt off of her back. They really appreciated the location and embraced the experience. All three of these women braved a mega amount of dust.
But here’s what happens when you aren’t afraid to get a little dirty. (And do you SEE any dirt in any of the pictures? No. Because brides, it is worth it to get a tiny bit dirty in your dress.)

Thank you, West, for this great shot.

Dear clients, when you trust your photographer wholeheartedly and give her creative freedom and when you let a photographer get to know you, the magic begins for both of you.

Thank you, John, for giving us permission to shoot in your home.
And did I mention that Sarah and her husband, Lane, had the most A-M-A-Z-I-N-G wedding New Years’ Eve?
I can’t wait to tell you more about the big day when they’re ready. Wait for it. . .

Sisters, Kate and Blair

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Meet sisters Kate and Blair. I was thrilled to get to photograph them during a mini session that I did toward the end of the year.

This first shot is one of my favorites of the entire year. I think it captures a bit of Kate and Blair’s personalities and the relationship that they share.
If I were to compile a set of images that defines my style, I would definitely include this one.

This was Blair glancing over her shoulder to see if mom was listening in.

Thank you, Brooke, Kate and Blair, for asking me to photograph you. I hope I get to do it again!

The Rickels Family

Monday, January 9th, 2012

I had the opportunity to photograph the sweet Rickels family a couple of months ago. I’ve been holding onto these because I didn’t want to spoil any Christmas gifts. I’m happy to share them now. I am thankful for this family. I have known them for several years now. I especially enjoyed observing the individual personalities of these two sisters.

I love this shot of mom swinging Caroline in a basket!

Kate’s mind fires on all cylinders, and her smile lights up a room.

I love this shot of Caroline with her lovey. This image reminds me of the book, Knuffle Bunny.

I think that this shot captures Caroline’s independent, “I’m-my-own-person” nature.

Thank you, Rickels Family, for inviting me and my camera to spend time with you!


Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Carter got a new bike for this 7th birthday because he out-grew his old bike.
Greg put the training wheels back on Carter’s old bike yesterday evening at dusk, and we passed it down to Harrison.

Harrison is as happy as a little clam. For him, the bike couldn’t be better.
He said he wished he could ride it inside.
He begged to ride it up to the elementary school to pick up Carter today. I agreed.
Harrison said he felt like he was five when he rode the bike.
He rang his bike bell frequently to get everyone’s attention.

I love the way Harrison approaches life. He just wants to be in the game.


Monday, January 2nd, 2012

I got to ring in the New Year with this bride, Sarah.
I had a wonderful time photographing her bridals in an empty, old hotel.
I can’t wait to share more of her bridals and her wedding day.

. . . Sarah, I think you look a bit like an angel in this photo.

I’m hoping this past weekend sets the stage for a New Year full of wonderful clients and beautiful photos like this one. Happy New Year!