The Bokeh of life.

Those that know me in person know that I have a few passions in my life.  People are one of them.  I love my family.  My husband.  My kids.  My parents and extended family......  I love them all.  I also love the Lord and the privilege to be involved in ministry.  The joy I get from serving Him by serving His people is immeasurable.   I love life.  Especially new life.  Birth and Babies are hugely special to me.  It's creation in it's fullest and most beautiful glory.  And I enjoy this passion through photography.  To take moments that change a life and freeze them in time to be enjoyed over and over is such an amazing privilege.  I do not take for granted the ability to observe and document life's greatest miracles.  I absolutely love what I do.  Who wouldn't enjoy these perfect little subjects?

The Lord so often uses these things to teach me about Himself.  He knows I'm a visual learner... He made me that way!  And He, like any great teacher, uses my learning style to reach me with His lessons.  And I'm learning some big ones right now.  

I'm going to be very honest right now.  Things have been hard lately.  I want to share what the Lord is teaching me through our current season of trial, in hopes that it may encourage someone else who may be dealing with difficulty right now.  

We felt the Lord's call to move northward in July.  We listed our house in October and it just didn't sell.  For a while.  It finally sold in February.  Keeping a house show ready with a husband who works full time and schools the rest of the time, while homeschooling two kids and caring for one toddler, while serving in ministry at our church..... it was a lot to deal with.  And it wore on my nerves.  I was tired all the time.  I was frustrated a lot of the time.  I was let down each time it was looked at and not offered on.  I was discouraged.  During this time, I also discovered I was pregnant.  (Thus explaining some of the mood swings)  As the weeks pressed on, we were feeling pretty excited.  The kids created the nickname "Puffin" for the baby because "it was making Mommy puffy."  Things progressed normally for a while.  I had some spotting while away from home around 12-13 weeks along, but remained hopeful that things were ok.  My body popped early as this was my fourth baby and I was already looking pregnant, so we assumed a miscarriage at this point would be much more intense than some spotting.  But in the back of my mind I worried.  And sure enough, several days later, I found myself in labor.  After a full day in the ER, the doctor confirmed what we feared.  Our baby had passed away.  I was sent home to wait it out.  After a long and painful labor, our baby was delivered in our home.  So beautifully formed at 14 weeks gestation.  The humanity of the unborn baby is undeniable.  I chose to save the memory in my heart and mind rather than in a photo.  Unusual for someone who is a photographer, I didn't take any pictures.  I knew that what I was seeing was the shell of a person who was with Jesus, and also knew that if I had a picture, I would dwell again and again on that which had passed away and not on the wholeness that was the truth in Heaven.  {This was purely a personal decision and each person makes their own in the moment.  There is no right or wrong way to process.  There is only what is right for you.  In my work, I've photographed still babies.  There is incredible value in having those photos and I've been blessed to provide them at times.  But for me... for my heart... I knew it wouldn't be best.  The memory is pure enough.}  

During all of this, our house met it's buyer and we opened escrow.  We also found our next house and opened escrow there.  The process of moving had begun.  As I was trying to process our loss, life continued moving forward at a remarkable speed.  One great joy in the midst of sorrow, my brother was married the day after we buried the baby.  It was such a happy day right in the middle of very difficult circumstances.  It's always so surprising to me to see how any given j

And that's what life is so much of the time.  Total chaos.  And here's where the Lord started to speak to my heart.  

Photographers out there... you know all about depth of field and bokeh.  For those who don't though, here's a brief/oversimplified/non technical at all explanation.  Bokeh refers the points of light in the blurring, or out of focus area, in a photo.  Depth of field is used artistically in photography and helps to draw the viewers eye to the subject of the photo.  For example:

In the photo above, the eye is immediately drawn to the flower in the foreground.  The out of focus area in the background makes the main flower stand out against it.  It is sharp, and the details become less focused the further away from the subject they are.  

This is how I picture life.  The good.  The bad.  The gnarly and chaotic.  It's blurry and it's messy... and beautiful at the same time.  It's the bokeh of life.  What matters is what is IN focus.  With the focus sharp on the correct subject, the overall image is one of beauty.  That blur serves a purpose!  It is to highlight the subject.  And what is the subject of life?  It is Jesus.  His cross.  His sacrifice and love for us.  His cross is the focus of the image of my life.  And I have a choice.  I can tilt my view and focus on the background and render the cross blurred, or I can steadfastly keep my focus on Him and allow the chaos to draw the viewer directly TO Him.  I want my life to be a beautiful piece of art that draws others into the subject of it.  Jesus.  If you zoom in too closely, and get caught up only in the gritty details of life, it's ugly.  Life is so ugly sometimes.  And hard.  There's light parts and there are dark parts.  Highlights and shadows.  You cannot have contrast without both.  Is your life overexposed?  Underexposed?  Is your subject in focus or is it blurred?  Keep your eyes on Jesus.  He gives the painful parts of life meaning.  He makes it worth something in eternity.  And He is carrying me day by day as I swim around in life's bokeh for now.  Some people are adding highlights to their art.  People are getting married, getting new jobs, having babies, enjoying vacations and celebrating milestones.  Rejoice with those who rejoice!  Others are adding shadows right now.  Financial hardship, loss of relationships, sickness, death.  Weep with those who weep.  And whether you rejoice or weep, know that the purpose in both is to draw nearer to and focus our eyes on Jesus.  He is near to the broken hearted.  He is near to me!  And I know that the same hands that hold my heart are the ones holding my Puffin as well.  So as I walk through transition and excitement, heartbreak and postpartum hormones, I'm keeping my viewfinder focused on the Lord.  He gives beauty for ashes!  He creates art with our blurred circumstances.  A photo with the proper balance of sharp focus and bokeh is beautiful.  But a blurry picture is unpleasant to look at.  I cull them immediately in my work.  May my life be one worth viewing and not one to be culled.  

So in your life.... is the right thing in focus?  Keep your focus steadfast on Jesus and He will keep you in perfect peace.  He promises!  

(Example of improper focus)

(Proper focus)

In peaceful, beautiful, loving memory of "Puffin" who was so perfectly formed by our Heavenly Father.  

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