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Nothing Wasted

Jessica

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a 17-year-old young woman named Jessica Joy. She’s an incredibly gifted singer, songwriter and Christian recording artist. Jessica just recorded and released her first CD, Nothing Wasted. She’ll be performing her CD release concert on Sunday, September 28, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at Plymouth Covenant Church in Plymouth, Minnesota. The concert is FREE, so come one, come all! If my intuition is right, Jessica is going to have a long career in the Christian music industry. Come witness this treasure of a young woman live out her life’s calling right in front of your eyes. Because years from now? You might have to pay big bucks to see her in concert.

I’ve had the incredible privilege of connecting with Jessica on several occasions. I met with Jessica and her mom in January 2014 to chat about Jessica’s call to music and ministry. Then, I had the great honor of joining Jessica in the recording studio in March. We met again last month for extended conversation about the events that led her to record and release an album.

This is the first of three blog posts I’ll be writing about Jessica. Today, we’re going to look back and dig deep into the call on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. On September 22nd, I’m going to share my experience with Jessica Joy in the recording studio. And on September 29th, I’m going to share insights and photographs from Jessica’s CD release concert. I hope you’ll catch all three posts. I guarantee it’ll be a joy to meet Jessica Joy.

Without further ado, let’s move right along!

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When I sat down to talk with Jessica in January 2014, I’d prepared a whole series of questions for her…

“Do you ever doubt your gift?”

“What obstacles have gotten in the way of you recording this CD? How have those obstacles helped you grow?”

“This feels big, unknown, all about faith. How does it feel to know it’s in God’s hands? Do you ever just want to plan it out or change course to something more predictable?”

This is just a sampling of the questions I had for Jessica. But even this sampling makes me realize that perhaps my questions were more about my fears than Jessica’s. Hmmm…maybe this 38 year old has something to learn from a 17 year old?

I should’ve just started with these and left it at that…

“Tell me more about how God’s prompted you in the quiet to follow your dreams.”

“Do you believe this is God’s call on your life?”

It was then, when I put away all the fears and what ifs, that Jessica was able to lay out for me, very clearly, God’s call on her life to become a Christian singer and songwriter.

A CHILDHOOD DREAM

Jessica grew up in a household that was filled with music. Both of her parents are licensed ministers of music, so she heard her parents tell lots of stories about their music ministry. Jessica had a whole host of opportunities to perform and lead worship from a young age. In fact, she knew early on that her future was going to be in music and ministry. When Jessica was eight years old, she wrote an entry in her journal titled “Goals for my Music.” The third goal? “Record my original album by the time I am 17.” It was around this time that Jessica also began writing songs in her journal.

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From then on, there was a “continual calling” on Jessica’s life to become a singer and songwriter. Jessica explained all the “little signs along the way” that were an affirmation of the calling. As each event unfolded, Jessica knew. God was calling. This is what she was meant to do with her life.

LEARNING TO PLAY GUITAR

When Jessica was approximately 12 years old, she wanted to learn how to play the guitar. She kept telling her parents she wanted to play guitar, but her parents had been insisting for years that she learn piano first. So she learned some basic piano and chords, and then found an old guitar in the basement and taught herself enough so she could start putting chords to the songs she was writing. It was then that Jessica’s parents realized how serious she was about guitar. They got her a guitar for Christmas and signed her up for guitar lessons, which very quickly morphed into songwriting lessons as well.

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LYME DISEASE

In May of 2012, Jessica suddenly got very sick. That summer, she often used a wheelchair to get around because of all the pain and fatigue. After a year of many doctor visits and extensive tests, she was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease.

Jessica continues to battle this illness, so she’s had to learn how to manage her chronic Lyme. It has impacted her physical strength and support for singing and performing. She has pain in her hands, which makes it harder to play guitar. And pain in her feet, which makes it hard to stand for lengths of time or walk long distances. But as Jessica reminds us, God wastes nothing. Many of the songs she’s written have come from her battle with chronic Lyme disease. If you listen closely to some of her songs, you can, in fact, hear her pain and all the ways God’s helped her overcome it.

A PROPHETIC WORD

The week Jessica began treatment for chronic Lyme disease, she received a prophetic word from a friend’s mom. She prophesied many things God was speaking over Jessica Joy’s life, including this: “Worship is your weapon…I am giving you the ability and authority to prophetically sing over people – the enemy will release his grip on those I call you to sing over…I have given you an open door to usher in My Kingdom to the Nations.” She also wrote “You are chosen, anointed for such a time as this. I will waste nothing in your life.” This was before Jessica wrote the song “You Waste Nothing,” before she knew she’d record her first CD and it would be titled “Nothing Wasted.” God was speaking blessing into Jessica Joy’s life long before she knew what was to come.

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BEAUTY FOR ASHES

Jessica wrote her song, Beauty for Ashes, and recorded it as her first single in the summer of 2012. She was 15 years old. Remember, when Jessica was eight years old and wrote the journal entry titled “Goals for My Music,” her second goal was “Professionally record a single by the time I am 15.” On a whim, she decided to enter Beauty for Ashes in the Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival Music and Songwriting Competition, an annual national conference for professionals in the film, writing and music industry. She submitted the song in the last five days entries were accepted.

PAIN AND DREAMS COMING TRUE IN TENNESSEE

Jessica traveled to Tennessee to attend a youth convention with her church youth group in July 2012. She was experiencing a lot of pain due to her chronic Lyme disease, which at that time was still undiagnosed. Jessica had spent a lot of time in the wheelchair that summer, and the convention was no exception. In fact, Jessica says her “worst time managing [the chronic Lyme disease] emotionally” was during that Tennessee trip. Every night during the convention, she’d sing herself to sleep with one of her original songs, “Do You Hear Me?” Her singing was a way to cry out to God. “Do you hear me? Do you see my aching heart? Can you feel the pain that’s tearing me apart? This trial feels so long. Oh where have you gone? Do you hear me?” Then, by the grace of God, while Jessica was still in Tennessee, she got word from her mom that her song, Beauty For Ashes, had gotten her in to the Gideon Festival’s Top 10 for songwriting and performing! This was yet another confirmation of the call on Jessica’s life to use her gifts of singing and songwriting.

THE GIDEON FESTIVAL

When Jessica got home from Tennessee, the clock was ticking. The Gideon Media Arts Conference and Film Festival was in just two weeks! Jessica didn’t have the funds to make the big trip to North Carolina, so her friends started a secret Facebook page to help raise support for her to make the trip. Funds were raised for Jessica’s travels. Someone even donated their frequent flyer miles so Jessica could book a flight at no cost.

At Gideon, she was still suffering and in her wheelchair the whole time. But she decided and felt assured that whether she won or not, she was going because God clearly had someone there who needed to hear her song. It turns out, there were several people who were greatly ministered to by “Beauty for Ashes.” Fears and pain aside, Jessica played her heart out. She won 1st place in the songwriting category and 3rd place in the artist performance category.

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AN ALBUM COMING TO LIFE

In the summer of 2013, Jessica’s guitar and songwriting teacher, Andre Rodriguez, suggested she should consider recording an EP. An Extended Play (EP) is a professional recording that includes more than a single, but doesn’t contain enough songs to be considered a full studio album. It’s usually comprised of five or six songs. So Jessica began putting together a portfolio of songs she could record for an EP. Keep in mind, Jessica was still 16 years old at this point. What were you doing when you were 16? Is this girl special or what?

GARNERING SUPPORT FOR A DREAM COME TRUE

Jessica knew that if she was ever going to record an EP, she’d need to raise funds. Because she was an unknown in the music industry and didn’t have a label or agent, it’d be up to her to fund the project. So in September 2013, she drafted a letter to family, close friends, and people who knew her well at church. In the letter, Jessica stated her goal to record the EP album, which made her feel particularly vulnerable since her dreams were now public. The first week, there was no response. Then, she received her first check in the mail. It was $600! Within a week or two, support was, according to Jessica, “insane.” It was then that she knew. She wanted to press forward and try to fund a full album. But God would need even more supporters to step forward for that dream to be accomplished.

KICKSTARTING THIS CALLING

With the EP funded, and a full album now a possibility, Jessica launched a Kickstarter Campaign in November 2013. Her goal? To raise an extra $5,000.00 to completely cover the costs of recording a full album. This was an all or nothing proposition. She’d meet her Kickstarter goal within the 30-day timeframe and receive the funds, or she wouldn’t meet the goal and wouldn’t receive any funds at all. So Jessica shared her Kickstarter page with hundreds, and asked family, friends and church members to spread the word. The Lord spoke. He continued to open doors for Jessica Joy. By the end of the 30-day time frame, her Kickstarter account was fully funded, thanks to the generous financial donations of her supporters. She exceeded her goal by over $1,000.00!

Jessica was well on her way to making another dream become reality. Her calling had been confirmed, yet again. And this time, in a big, big way. A full album, her first professionally recorded album, was now fully funded.

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MOVING IN TO THE STUDIO

While Jessica was raising funds, God was putting together an incredible team of studio musicians. Her producer is from Nashville, and is guitarist for Christian artist, Natalie Grant. The rest of her band all tour professionally with renowned artists such as Owl City, Jeff Deyo, Jeremy Messersmith and Natalie Grant.

Everything was in place. Jessica was ready to record.

In February 2014, Jessica and her mother stepped foot into the recording studio for the first time.

She was just days from her 17th birthday.

She’d written this nine years prior…“Record my original album by the time I am 17.”

A friend’s mom had prophesied this a year and a half prior…“I will waste nothing in your life. You will bring down strongholds by your heart for worshipping me.”

Jessica’s album would be called Nothing Wasted.

Among the 11 original songs on the album? One of my favorites, You Waste Nothing.

God wasted nothing. Nothing. Jessica Joy’s journey was ordained from the beginning. And the journey’s just begun.

Will you join me next Monday, September 22, as I write about my day with Jessica in studio? It was one of the most amazing, incredible and inspiring days I’ve ever experienced. I’m so excited to share a bit of it with all of you. You’re invited, right here, to witness dreams come to life. God’s call on one young woman’s life has become reality, is becoming reality. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Learn more about Jessica Joy and purchase her new CD, Nothing Wasted, at www.jessicajoymusic.com.  She’d also love to connect with you on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! 

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pinksig

 

Introducing the New Vision for this Blog!

On July 11, 2014, I published a post titled “Change is Coming to this Blog!” In the post, I explained that I was working on a new blog mission, vision, tagline, guiding scripture, and core values. I also wanted to define, more clearly, what I’ll be writing about from here on out.

Well, today’s the day, folks! It’s time to launch the vision I’ve had in my mind for the past six months.

But before we get started, let me share a little behind-the-scenes secret. Earlier this week, I woke up in the middle of the night, in my half-awake half-asleep state, and all I could think about was this launch. My worry was that it was too much, too complicated, too wordy. So in my middle-of-the-night state, I vowed that I would keep this as simple as possible. So here’s my best shot at making that happen!

It all started with this – the tagline for my blog had to change. I always LOVED the “extraordinary encounters” part of my old tagline, but as I wrote these past two years, I realized there was something bigger I was trying to communicate through the blog. Three individuals I engaged with in February and March 2014 inspired me in specific and complementary ways. As a result, I knew what I could write about forever, “love what you live. live what you love.” So here it is, the new tagline integrated into my logo!

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As of today, you’ll find the updated logo in the header on the home page of my blog. You’ll see it at the top, like this…

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I have new covers for my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I also have new business cards which reflect the changes to the blog. The business cards are my favorite. LOVE the way these turned out! (Thanks to Shalon Estrada from Pretty Lovely Design for her beautiful work.)

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So you might be asking yourself what all of this means. And why did I feel the need to go to such extreme measures to change one little tagline?

Well, there’s actually a good reason I’m making these changes. Like I said earlier, I want to more clearly define my worldview and what I’m going to write about in this online home from here on out.

In the past six months, I’ve taken a lot of time to define and refine the foundation of this blog. The changes I’ve made will benefit all of us. Starting today, my writing will be funneled through the new parameters I’ve set for the blog. If a post doesn’t fall within the parameters, I won’t publish it. This will benefit you because you’ll know more what to expect when you visit my blog. I’m hoping the posts won’t feel quite as random as they might have in the past. Under this new model, there will definitely be a theme, a big-picture message that’s weaved through all the posts on the blog.

So I made this graphic. I’ll be honest, I kind of love it and I kind of hate it. I spent too much time making it, and unfortunately, it was one of the too busy, too wordy images I couldn’t get out of my mind earlier this week in the middle of the night, but I’m not going to remake it! So here it is. It’s intended to give you a quick rundown of all the new bloggy things launching today. I’ll explain in a minute. For now, just take a peek!

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Let me be clear up front. This vision is BIG. This vision runs deep. This vision has the potential to last the life of this blog. Sure it may need tweaks, refining and rewording along the way, but big picture, it’s good to go for a LONG time.

So let’s get to it! These are the foundations of this blog from here on out.

I believe that God created every human being to fulfill a unique and specific purpose here on earth.

Therefore…

My purpose is to inspire people to discover, embrace and walk boldly in their unique purpose.

Based on the observations I’ve made about life on earth so far, you’re likely to discover, embrace and walk boldly in your unique purpose IF you

love what you live. 

and

live what you love.

You can expect every post on this blog to be written with these qualities, these core values in mind…

Beauty.

Authenticity.

Faith.

Passion.

Compassion.

Depth.

Tenderness.

Strength.

From here on out, ALL posts on this blog will fit into one of four categories as follows:

1) PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR LIFE.

These posts will feature people who love their life. My goal is to observe and interview people who love a particular aspect of their life, or maybe they love everything about their life! This might include their work, their hobbies, the volunteer work they do, or just about anything about their life that they LOVE. I’m planning to be generous with my borders and boundaries on this one. At this point, I’m envisioning everything from Mary Kay consultants to body builders to real estate agents to pumpkin farmers. Everything from muddy race running to blogging to mosaic making. From nonprofit thrift store management to Special Olympics coaching to animal rescue missions. There’s something to learn from people who love their life. I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to learn their secrets. I’ll be writing these posts with the belief that if you LOVE your life, you’re most likely tapping into your purpose.

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2) PEOPLE WHO EMBRACE THE LIFE THEY LIVE.

These posts will feature people who whole-heartedly embrace the life they live. The original vision for these posts is to observe and interview people who love what they live, people who are making the best out of less than ideal situations, people who are living in joy, beauty, peace and love even though life has proven to be challenging. At this point, I’m envisioning a whole host of individuals, including people who have special needs, people living in poverty and extreme poverty, people living with mental illness, people who have suffered abuse, people who have battled addiction, acutely and chronically ill individuals, infertility, stillbirths, adoption, and a whole host of others unnamed and yet to be imagined. Within this category, I would also like to dive deeper into the impact of these special situations on the family at large. Therefore, I hope and pray I’ll be able to interview moms, dads, siblings, special friends, and family members that have been impacted and have found beauty in the ashes. I have a feeling that God has more in store for this category than I’ve imagined. I can see already that He’s going to expand my definition of “love what you live” exponentially through these interviews. I’ll be writing these posts with the belief that God wastes nothing, that your purpose might very well rise up from the ashes.

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3) EMBRACING AND WALKING BOLDLY IN MY PURPOSE.

These posts will be personal reflections on embracing and walking boldly in my purpose. I’m going to work this “love what you live” and “live what you love” out in my own life, and I’m going to share it with you in real time. What does it mean to love my life, even when it’s hard, even when it’s messy, even when it’s less than desirable, even when it’s barely tolerable? What does it mean to live a life I love? What makes me tick? What fuels me, makes me feel lit up inside? What risks will I take? How many times will I step out of the proverbial box or boat? In what ways will I be stretched like never before? And how will I know if I’m living my purpose? I’m not exactly sure how these posts are going to look. Some might look a lot like posts I’ve written before. But I think many of these posts are going to cause me pause. I’m going to need to reflect and look at my life from angles I haven’t before. And one thing’s for sure, I’m going to be jacking up my courage. Big time. Because in order for me to live out my calling, the purpose for which God created me, I’m going to need a lot of courage. And faith. I’ll be writing these posts with the hope that you’ll feel empowered to live, love and discover your purpose if you know someone’s on the journey with you.

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4) LEARNING TO LIVE, LOVE AND DISCOVER YOUR PURPOSE.

These posts will be written for you. And I’m SO excited about that. Among the handful of careers I wanted to pursue for the longest time was psychologist, and one aspect that’s been missing from this blog is getting down and dirty in the trenches to help YOU. So with these posts, I’m envisioning that I’ll step back and draw some big-picture conclusions. What words of wisdom can I draw from interviewing people who love their lives? What words of wisdom can I draw from interviewing people who have chosen to embrace the lives they live, even if they’re less than ideal? What words of wisdom can I draw from embracing and walking boldly in my own purpose? If there was ever a how-to aspect of this blog, these posts will be it. I want to empower you. I want to inspire you. I want to engage in meaningful, authentic communication with you. I’m going to get vulnerable and real, and I hope you’ll be willing to go there with me. Oh yeah, and I’m guessing that I’m going to ask some hard questions. Because nobody ever started loving their live and living their purpose until they started asking and answering some really hard questions.

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Last, but not least, I’ve chosen two scripture passages that will guide this blog.

Psalm 139:13-16 (click here to read the passage)

and

Isaiah 61:1-3 (click here to read the passage)

These are some of the most beautiful pieces of scripture there are. They both speak beautifully into the new mission of this blog. I can’t imagine any better words to guide my writing than these.

So yeah, let’s do this!

I feel like I’m baby blogger with this gigantic God-sized vision. And I have to be honest. This scares me. This is most definitely going to stretch me beyond my wildest imagination. Because in and of myself, I don’t have the power, the connections, the strength, the resources to make these interviews happen. In and of myself, it’s going to be a real challenge to embrace and walk boldly in my purpose, and share vulnerably with you. In and of myself, I don’t have the power to create change in your life. In and of myself, I can’t make this God-sized blog vision come to life.

But as Kristin Welch of “We Are That Family” stated in a recent blog post:

“There will be a big gap between your yes and the reality of your dream. That space is God-sized. If we have all the answers, resources, funding, the perfect plan, it might be our dream and not His. But when we don’t know all of the details or have all the answers, it gives God room to show up.”

God’s assured me with His still small voice that He’s prepared and trained me for this, that He’ll equip me because He’s called me. So I’m choosing to say yes. Because I don’t see any other plan for this blog. And I believe this is what God is calling me to do with this space. I believe He will show up. Big time.

So let’s go.

You and me.

Let’s live and love. And on the way? Perhaps we’ll discover the purpose of our lives.

greensig

Tara Dorn - So perfect for you! Love it!
September 15, 2014 – 3:09 pm

Monica Anderson Palmer - This has been and is going to be amazing and I think I need to just sit in your presence (because I’m fortunate to know you) and let you sink in :) for in all my years on this planet, I need more of what you offer…such a gift you’ve given to me, to others! Deep gratitude for your #heartwords #soulrest #faith #courage #totalinspriationSeptember 12, 2014 – 9:02 pm

Amy - Hi Brittany: Thank you so much! It was great to connect with you on Twitter earlier today. If you read deep in my blog, you’ll discover I actually had another blog at one time, too. It was under a different domain and blog name. I spent hours setting it up, but never published any posts. It just didn’t feel right. I think it felt too limiting right from the start. I let it sit there with no published posts for almost 2 years, and then finally launched this blog. At that point, I had been feeling a call to write for 9 years, so it was time to get moving along! Anyway…point being that as bloggers, we learn as we go. Sometimes we start with one thing and then it morphs into another. Or we realize our initial concept was too narrow or limiting, so we have to redefine ourselves so we can write within a broader scope. So glad you decided to make the change and I hope it works great for you!! I have you “followed” so I’ll be on the lookout for you now! Especially since our missions/visions are in line with one another. :) Best wishes, and thanks for stopping by.September 12, 2014 – 8:41 pm

Brittany at Equipping Godly Women - I love it! I actually went through something really similar myself lately. The blog I had was just too limited in terms of scope, it wasn’t useful enough, and I just felt like I outgrew it. So I actually completely scrapped my old blog and just relaunched a new one a couple of weeks ago. It was hard letting go of something I worked so hard on, but I’m so glad I made the change and I’m not looking back.

I think redefining is a great step when it’s time for a change. Your new header is beautiful too :) September 12, 2014 – 10:30 am

Dressing For You: Restoring the Little Girl Voice (Part 8)

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Dear Little Me,

You make me smile.

This picture? It’s loaded with goodness. And it made me realize who you are, who you’ve always been, and who you’re still going to be.

I want to talk to you about those clothes.

Look at you, girl. You’re dressed up. You’re ready to go…to school.

You can’t manufacture that.

You’re taking this business seriously. You’re taking life seriously.

I wonder if you know that your 38-year-old self’s favorite store is 90% dressy. And 10% casual.

I wonder if you know that when you’re 38, you’ll still be staring at all those fancy dresses in your closet, and they’ll be your favorite thing to wear, but you won’t have nearly enough places to wear them.

I wonder if you know that your 38-year-old self has dreamy visions of getting dirty during the day and dressed up at night.

I wonder if God’s preparing you, already, for the beautiful and mysterious of what’s ahead.

Is there something that needs to be said? That your best self is expressed when you’re fully yourself?

Be open, girl. To truth.

There’s something about you that’s beyond your years. He made you an old dressed up soul for a reason.

Don’t be afraid to look different, to be different, to dress differently.

Don’t let others make you feel you’re dressed up too much.

Don’t worry when you’re the dressiest person in the room.

Don’t think twice when they ask you why you’re still wearing your church clothes on Sunday afternoon.

Keep choosing to wear what makes you feel like you.

Stand tall, girl.

Be confident.

Know you’re this way for a reason.

Know your dress is a way to express what’s on the inside.

And may your insides always match your outsides.

Dressed up.

Ready to go.

Taking life seriously.

Being the best YOU that you can be.

greensig

 

 

 

*This series is inspired in part by a blog post I wrote in January 2014 titled “Go. Like It Matters. Go. Like It’s Your Life.” And in part by Bonnie Gray’s new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace. For more information about WHY I’m writing this series, click here to read the first post of this series titled “Restoring the Little Girl Voice (Part 1).”

Valerie Hubel - I am enjoying this series. I love the perspective of looking back to look forward. It makes me think of what I want to tell my girls and how to encourage them to be freely themselves. I also like it because I knew you back then!!September 6, 2014 – 2:25 am

Laying Down Ribbons: Restoring the Little Girl Voice (Part 7)

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Dear Little Me,

I know you, sweet one.

You want to achieve. You want to do your best. You know how to do your best.

You’re pretty good at achieving, aren’t you?

But girl, you’re worth far more than your achievements.

Your achievements are what you do, how you perform, how well you’re able to complete tasks according to the world’s standards.

Do you see yourself here? You’re quite literally hiding behind your achievements.

You did just about everything, and you clearly did it well. In just one swoop, you made muffins, cookies, a homemade television toy, a stuffed bear, a tote bag, and a multi-page book for children. And it looks like you won awards for them all. Good job, sweet pea. I am proud of you. You can do lots of things well.

But dear, oh dear. Do not hide behind your achievements. Don’t let those blue ribbons determine your worth. You are worth far, far more than a ribbon.

Girl, you don’t have to be the best at everything. Just be the best at some things, or a few things. Or maybe even one or two things.

God didn’t make you to be the best seamstress, and the best cook, and the best child development expert, and the best children’s literature author all at once.

Which one of those things made your eyes twinkle, little one? Which one made you light up? Which one made you smile like no other? Or maybe a better question is this. Did any of those things bring you great joy?

Girl, this is what I want for you. Pick one of those things. Or pick none at all. Find what it is that brings a sparkle to your eye. Find what fills your heart. Find what’s calling your name. Find why you were made.

You don’t have to do everything.

You don’t have to do what everyone says you should do.

You only have to do what you know in your heart you were made to do.

Forget all the rest. And rest.

I see you behind those achievements.

I know you.

You are more.

You are loved.

So put away the awards and achievements.

Lay down the ribbons.

Light up that smile. And let that twinkle shine.

 

orangesig

 

 

 

*This series is inspired in part by a blog post I wrote in January 2014 titled “Go. Like It Matters. Go. Like It’s Your Life.” And in part by Bonnie Gray’s new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace. For more information about WHY I’m writing this series, click here to read the first post of this series titled “Restoring the Little Girl Voice (Part 1).”

Tara Dorn - You seriously need to publish a book with these in them!September 5, 2014 – 9:10 pm

Capturing Her Visions: Restoring the Little Girl Voice (Part 6)

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Dear Little Me,

This picture has all kinds of love in it, doesn’t it? Disneyland, your dad, his extra short shorts and long socks, his nightly news sized video recorder?!

But wait.

See that camera in your hand?

See that camera case around your arm?

Yeah. Those are the things I noticed first about this picture. Those are the things I love most about this picture.

This was the first time a camera appeared in a photo of you. And it was most definitely not the last.

It was 1986. You were 10 years old. You’d just received the camera as a gift six months earlier for Christmas, and you’d used it all winter and spring. This was the first trip you took with that first camera.

Here’s what I see, girl.

You’re 10. Yes, 10. Now let me tell you. Here’s what I know about 10 year olds. Sometimes they think cameras are cool. They might even think cameras are so cool that they ask for one for Christmas. And they might get that camera for Christmas. They might be into it for a day, a week, or maybe even two weeks. But then they’ll put it away and they’ll forget about it. They might forget about it for months, or they might forget about it for years. They might forget about it so long that their younger sibling finds it tucked away in a cupboard and asks if she can use it. And then that younger sibling will think it’s cool for a week or two, but she’ll tuck it back away in the cupboard eventually. So yeah. That’s how 10 year olds manage cameras as far as I’ve seen.

Here’s what I know, girl.

Some adults? They think photography is cool. But yeah. Really? It’s just okay. Like, they realize it’s a necessity of life. You know. Something they should do to mark the occasion. They’ll break out their camera here and there. Or maybe they’ll realize after the fact that they should’ve brought it for this or that. But the truth is, they forgot it. They didn’t even think of it. Or maybe they’ll buy a brand new camera for baby’s birth, but only break it out on birthdays and Christmas. And photographs in general? They’ll take them, but they won’t care so much about how they keep them. They’ll find pics for their Christmas card, but really, they’re happy just getting the job done. They’ll take their family in for a professional photograph once, but once is enough for a lifetime.

Yeah. You’ll see all that, girl.

But through the years, you’ll realize there’s something different about you.

You see, this picture represents the beginning of a long journey. A lifetime journey. You’ll be holding that camera and many others a thousand different ways. That camera will never escape your mind. Never. You’ll always know where it is, and you’ll never forget it when you need it. Let’s face it. That camera is just as good as (or even better than) your purse. Need a purse? Then you need a camera. Don’t need a purse? Then you still need a camera.

You’ll be the girl, the teenager, the college student, the graduate student, the young wife, the mom of 1-2-3, the blogger – who’ll carry that camera everywhere. When they ask you to get in front of the camera, you’ll have to figure out where to put your own. Most of the time, you’ll hide the camera behind your back. Sometimes, if there’s a safe space and the picture is formal, you’ll put it down, off to the side so nobody can see. But you’ll never, ever forget to pick it up again after the picture’s taken.

You’ll be the mom who’ll freak out when the camera’s unexpectedly out of batteries on the first day of school. Because one of the worst ways you could ever imagine starting the school year is NOT being able to take pictures of your kids on the first day of school. Because after school and second day pictures just aren’t the same. And pictures taken by your neighbor are awesome, but they’re just not the same either.

You’ll be the one who goes on a cruise ship and dresses up fancy, and then has to wonder what you’re doing with that big ‘ol camera. You’ll be the one who decides to lug it around anyway, even after your husband suggests you should just leave it in the room tonight. Because you know a moment of inspiration could come like that. And you’d be disappointed if you didn’t have that camera to capture it. So you lug it. Even though you feel like an amateur, camera carrying fool at times.

You’ll be the one who “sees” photographs in your mind. When your camera’s not with you, you’ll experience life through an imaginary lens. You’ll take shots as life passes by, you’ll think to yourself, and you’ll say out loud a thousand times – “that would’ve been a great picture.”

You’ll be one who’s committed to printing pictures, organizing pictures, displaying and storing them in a way that’s functional and accessible for your family.

You’ll be the one who knows and admires a great photographer when she sees one.

You’ll be the one who spends a lifetime dreaming of becoming a photographer. Like, for actual money. Like, for your job. Like, you could do this all day long. But for one reason or another, that dream’s swooshed right under the rug until it comes to mind next time.

Through the years, you’ll be consistent, you’ll be persistent. Never once will you skip a beat with those cameras. They’ll always be in tow.

It’ll take you a long, long time to realize that photography is one of the only things you’ve done and loved for your entire life.

Yeah. There’ll be that, girl. There will be that.

Your love for photography will blindside you one day. You’ll realize it was always, always there.  

Yet, there will come a time when you’ll realize you’re not a professional. And girl, you might start to get a little frustrated. Because you’ll still see those photos in your mind. You’ll know the photos you want to take. You’ll see them as clear as day. You’ll know they’re possible because you’ll have one hour here and another there with the most amazing cameras you’ve laid hands on. Twenty shots with each will prove you haven’t been imagining things. Those shots are possible.

So while you’ll have upgraded your camera 10-15 times through all those years, there’ll come a time when you realize you’ve outgrown all the cameras you’ve ever had, including the one you have.

You’ll take 30-40-50 shots to try for the one you see. But your camera, it just doesn’t have capacity.

This frustrates you. Makes you want to give up and say forget it, I’m just amateur anyway. There’s no proof in the pudding. Those visions? Those perfectly planned photographs? They’re just imagined up anyway. Just take pictures with the camera you have and suck it up. Make the best of it. Make it work. Move on. Be grateful for the camera you have. And just be happy taking regular ‘ol pictures like everyone else and their mother does.

But hear me out girl…

Don’t despair.

When that happens, it’s time to start merging your faith with your love for the photograph.

You must have faith, little girl.

Faith there’s a reason you’ve carried those cameras all of those years. Faith He’ll help you realize the purpose of all that lugging. Faith He’ll put all the pieces together. Faith it will all make sense. Faith He’s given you eyes to see something He sees. Faith He’ll provide the camera to capture what needs to be seen.

Girl. Keep holding the camera. Don’t hide it away. Keep seeing what you see. Keep capturing what it is that moves you, speaks to you. There are stories to be told. And those cameras you’re going to be lugging for a lifetime are your vehicles for storytelling.

Do not be afraid.

Your future is filled with stories, words and photographs.

Don’t forget the photographs.

So girl, you just go. Keep on keeping on with those cameras.

Do what you can.

Believe you can.

Believe that what you see can become reality.

 

pinksig

 

 

 

*This series is inspired in part by a blog post I wrote in January 2014 titled “Go. Like It Matters. Go. Like It’s Your Life.” And in part by Bonnie Gray’s new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace. For more information about WHY I’m writing this series, click here to read the first post of this series titled “Restoring the Little Girl Voice (Part 1).”

Anne Koste - LOVE this post Amy! I love reading all of your posts…everything you mentioned in here sounds just like me. My camera bag IS my purse! : )September 6, 2014 – 4:09 pm

Tara Dorn - Love it! This resonates with me – I, too, always have a camera with me (and I don’t mean a cell phone camera)…ever since my dad first taught me when I was young. Really love this series, Amy!September 5, 2014 – 9:07 pm