Posted in everyday musings, Photographers, photography

Photographers: enough of the emotional blackmail already.

We photographers can be a depressing bunch. I mean how many more ways can we remind people they need to get photos of their family members because soon they’ll all be dead.

Dang, people.

Yes, it is true we want to have photos of family members before they pass from our lives but enough with the emotional blackmail already. How about we just suggest people capture their memories in photos or video so they can share the memories with each other in the future? How about we stop depressing people into buying packages or spending more money than necessary by using fear tactics.

“Grandma will be dead next year so you better buy this $300 canvas for your wall.”

“Grandpa has been in and out of the hospital. You’d better spend that full tax refund on 18 different poses of you all together and the digital files that you’ll have to take a loan out to get. He will probably be dead in a few more days and you’ll want those memories of him forcing a smile for my camera.”

I think one reason I can’t push myself to market myself as a family photographer is I can’t bring myself to play the mind games of marketing small businesses 101. If I see one more Instagram post that talks about how glad a photographer was that she took photos of a relative at the last family gathering because a few months later they were dead and then ends with a sales pitch, I will scream. If you want to say you were glad you took the photos and then end it there, fine. But the sales pitch too?

No.

Please.

Stop.

I swear family photographers are becoming the car salesmen of the creative world.

Tell families they’re going to love capturing their moments together, fine. Tell them they will love looking back at the photos of their children as they grow. Tell them they will treasure these memories as the years pass.

But, please, stop threatening the deaths of their family members so you can line your own pockets.

It’s depressing and morbid.

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Posted in everyday musings, Faithfully Thinking

Faithfully thinking: I may not think, speak or do things like you but God can still use me

“To be honest, I don’t know why I even write anymore,” I thought to myself one morning. “I don’t know much about anything and I’m full of very little wisdom. I’m a mom and a wife and I take photos for myself and that’s about it. I’ve never written a book, I don’t have a thriving business and last school year I was called a bad parent and it makes me try too hard at this blasted homeschooling thing.”

Cleaning the house? Don’t get me started. Actually, if you did get me started I would be completely overwhelmed and would end up in a fetal position crying and still nothing would get cleaned.

Cooking? I try my best but I often find myself imagining that cardboard with salt would taste better than my dinners.

Parenting? Last week my daughter bit her brother in the shoulder because he was sitting in the chair she wanted and my son is addicted to Minecraft. I have a huge “Fear of Missing Out ” (FOMO) problem but it’s mainly focused on my children because I already know I’m missing out and I’m so tired every single day of my life I don’t even care.

In other words, I’m a mess, or so I feel most days.

My one comfort is knowing I’m not alone, that I may be a train wreck but somewhere in this world there is another mom in another house feeling as inadequate as me.

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And despite how we feel, the truth is we are loved, we are worthy and we can be used by God even when others have written us off. I express doubts often and recently, after three weeks of trials stacked one on top of another on top of our family, I tossed out a few words of doubt on Facebook about whether or not God even cares for us.

I received an admonishment from a fellow Christian who told me: “Repent of your thinking” because nothing comforts a person dealing with trials by telling them they’re falling short in their Christian walk.

Those scolding comments are something that tends to make me pause and decide I’m not worthy to talk about faith or Christ, wonder why I even thought I should, and lead me to withdrawal within myself and vow to keep my inferior opinions to myself. The truth is, though, we are all on our own journey and on that journey we are going to stumble more than once.

DSC_5409Maybe God can use me even if I have doubts and I express them and I say things that don’t fit your idea of what a “good Christian girl” should say or should be. Maybe I show my weak moments when you hide yours but that does not exclude me from being used by God.

Maybe I show my weak moments when you hide yours but that does not exclude me from being used by God.

Those comments that don’t sound “Biblical” to you or don’t fit your personal narrative, those comments I throw out there in a moment of frustration or under the heavy burden of trial after trial after trial in a short amount of time, don’t dismiss me from God’s list of people who can be used for His Kingdom.

As I heard Pastor Steven Furtick say in a recent sermon: “There is nothing wrong with you that isn’t right with God.”

If you’re like me and feel your imperfect attitude disqualifies you from speaking your feelings about faith and God, let’s remind each other God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called and maybe what some of us are called to do is let our messy moments show so others know they’re not alone.

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To can also see my photography at www.lisahowelerphotography.com or Lightstock.

Posted in motherhood

This is every day. This is special.

She crawls into my lap and I ask her if it’s time to go upstairs for a nap.

“Not yet.” She says.

She leans against me, asks to nurse and I place my arm around her and under her head. I know she’s going to fall asleep in my lap and I don’t want her to. I want to lay her in bed and lay down next to her so I can stretch out aching legs and rest sore muscles.

I look at my phone as she settles against me and into the daily routine of cuddling and dozing. I resign myself to the fact she’ll soon be sleeping and I’ll be stuck here, on the couch, sitting up and unable to stretch, afraid to interrupt her nap and face a night with a cranky toddler. I shrug and turn on the music on my phone, knowing she likes to fall asleep to music.

Your heart is a history book
With pages to fill
If you haven’t found your voice
I know you will

She twirls her fingers in my hair while I stare at my phone, scrolling pass Facebook posts, scanning but not really seeing, hearing but not really listening.

I barely notice her movements.

I don’t think much about it.

It’s normal.

It’s every day.

It’s what we do each day around the same time.

It’s nothing special.

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in
I know you will

I feel her caress my hair and out of the corner of my eye I catch her watching me as she nurses.

Her eyes study and see.

I look at her and a smile tugs at the corner of her mouth as she nurses.

I log out of Facebook and the phone is placed to the side.

“I love you,” I whisper.

She smiles and lets out a quiet, tired sound mixed between a sigh and a giggle.

I want to take it in.

I want to take her in.

I want to freeze the moment and not miss it. I want to see her.

Failure is a photograph
You can put up on your wall
You don’t have to think like that
When you fall

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in

 

Suddenly posts about politicians or healthcare or essential oils or what food will shorten your life if you eat it seem much less interesting.

 

I want to feel her hands in my hair, her body warm and solid in my arms, against my belly, against my chest.

Oh the places you will see
The world is full of mystery
Like a city on a hill
You’re gonna shine
I know you will

You don’t need to let the rainclouds
Underneath your skin
Love sings louder than the darkness
Let the light shine in
I know you will
I know you will
I know you will

I don’t want to forget h

ow it feels to be loved without strings.

To be loved without conditions.

To be loved without preconceptions.

To be loved simply because you are a source of comfort, peace, courage, and tenderness to the small, beautiful creature who calls you mama.

I notice her movements.

I see the small fingers.

I feel the soft touch.

I hear the slow, rhythm breathing.

This is routine.

This is every day.

This is special.

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Lyrics by JJ Heller. Images by Lisa R. Howeler