Sunday, August 28, 2011

I heart faces-white challenge

I haven't been too active on I heart faces. Summer has been very busy. When I heard this week's challenge was white, I immediately thought of this picture. My sweet girl. Be sure to check out I heart faces and see the other fun entries!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cultivating Confidence-Nicole's Story

Everyone wants to be loved.
I wanted to be loved.
I searched for love from all the wrong people.
Some were "best friends".
Some were boyfriends.
One person I didn't find love from was myself.
For me love equaled confidence and self esteem.
Middle school and high school I hated myself. I hated the way I looked. I didn't like being me. In middle school my "best friend" told me that pretty much everything about me was wrong. That validated what I was feeling. I also had a "best friend" tell me that a boy that I liked me and wanted to talk to me. Then when she saw that I was excited she laughed and told me she was just kidding and wanted to see how I reacted. Those were just a couple of the things that made my self esteem plummet in middle school.

High school came around and all I longed for was a relationship by a guy who didn't have to love me because I was family but because he wanted to love me. But I wasn't good enough. I was on Homecoming Court starting my sophmore year thru my senior year. I was Class President my sophmore to senior year and Student Body President. Even having titles like that I never got dates.

My first real boyfriend was at the end of my junior year. He was voted most handsome and very popular. It didn't last very long. He told me he loved me and then a couple days later he broke up with me. I was heart-broken. I asked why he told me he loved me if he didn't want to be with me and he said, "I knew that was what you wanted to hear". My second boyfriend told me he loved me. He cheated on me. I asked him why he told me he loved me. He said, "It was extreme infatuation" and took it back. I saw that I was not lovable and something was wrong with me. Another guy I liked but never dated came over one night and sat down on my bed and said, "I know you have always wanted to be with me and I like you, but I am afraid something better is going to come around." WOW. Awesome. At this point of time the Lord started to work on my heart. I told him I hadn't waited around for him and didn't need a guy like that.

After all of my bad luck with guys I decided I just wanted to be friends with guys and meet new people. I met a guy and we hung out. Once he found out I was still a virgin the calls stopped. I called him and asked him why he didn't call anymore. He told me that he couldn't be friends because of my virginity. This was the time I began to change and started listening to what the Lord was trying to get through to me. I didn't need a guy for me to feel loved, beautiful, important, or successful. I didn't have to give a part of me away to be loved. I was loved by my family, friends, and the Lord. I finally saw myself as beautiful but not because someone else thought I was but because I finally got a glimpse of how God saw me.

I am loved. The Lord has blessed me with an amazing husband that is more then what I could have dreamed of. He loves me for me. I look back now and the guys who I dated weren't the real thing, they were stepping stones. I praise the Lord for allowing me to finally find love in myself so I could allow someone so great as my husband to love me. I know what true love is.--the love of our Lord and Savior, the love of my husband, kids, and family. I pray that I can teach my daughter to not find her confidence and love in people, boys or things, but that she will look to the Lord, who will show her what true love is.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Maddie-2012 Guyer High School Senior

This is Maddie. She is my 2012 senior rep for Guyer High School. I had originally picked a vacant lot to take her photos and much to my dismay it was bulldozed of all the beautiful trees and long grass just two days before. I just knew the natural setting was perfect for her natural beauty. Luckily, we weren't far from on my favorite locations. She is so beautiful and inside and out! I am thankful our paths crossed. Have I mentioned I love photographing seniors? Be sure to spread the word!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cultivating Confidence-Emily's story

My daughter, Ava, is four years old. She is a beautiful child, and was born with the best possible combination of genetics. She has dark hair, blue eyes, and her daddy’s long legs. Ava is like most little girls and loves to watch princess movies. Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, we’ve got them all. Second only to princess movies is her love for her own reflection in the mirror. I fix her hair every morning while she smiles at herself, and it’s one of my favorite times of day. A few months ago, I caught her standing on a stepstool in her room, frowning at her reflection and twirling her hair. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me she wished she had yellow hair like Rapunzel.

Becoming a parent is a profound experience, and there are so many aspects to raising a child that I feel completely unprepared for. This was one of those times, and I quickly reassured her she was beautiful just the way God made her. Still, the comment bothered me for the rest of the day. The thought that a sweet four-year-old is looking at herself in the mirror critically, and thinking that she doesn’t add up to some cartoon breaks my heart.

I started thinking back to when I was growing up, and about how much energy I wasted worrying about looking like someone else. Wanting to ditch my thick glasses to have perfect vision like this friend, or straight teeth like that friend, or long hair like another girl. Waking up at 5:30am to fix my hair just so, or put on eye make-up exactly like the picture in the magazine. Worried about what this person or that person might think of my new clothes.

I was brought up in a church home and have known about Jesus my entire life, but it was only after forming a personal relationship with Him in high school that I discovered true happiness. I began to spend more time in my Bible and less time in the mirror, and I realized I did need a makeover: a makeover for my soul. True peace comes only from Him, not from approval from anyone else. If we waste our time chasing a cartoon view of beauty, we’ll never achieve that and we’ll end up empty.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still wear sparkly eye shadow, paint my nails, and layer on the highlights. You will rarely find me without big earrings in, and I won’t even walk to my mailbox without a coat of mascara on. But now I do those things now because they are fun to me, not because they make anyone else happy. 1 Samuel 16 says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I still get out of balance some days, and I can spend too much time worried about how I look. I compare myself to someone else and wonder how I could change to attain some silly, unrealistic level of perfection. But I’ve noticed that when that happens, I’m focusing way too much on me. How I look, what other people think of me, who I can impress. When I spend time focusing on Him, and time working on making my heart reflect Him and His love for me, everything else falls into place. And that’s the message I should be passing on to my daughter.