A graduate of 2020! Another one of my sisters has come to the completion of high school! Congratulations, Allie! May the LORD give clear direction for your future as you serve Him with your time and energy!
Some of her favorite verses are found in Psalm 18: 1-3.
"I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies."
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1: 18
Last month, I met up with this cute family at Berry College in Rome, GA to take their photos! The LORD blessed us with a pretty day and a very cooperative little baby to work with, and I thoroughly enjoyed the morning! ; )
"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." Ps. 127: 3
Earlier this month, I conducted a photoshoot with these cute kids! Their colors fit perfectly with the Christmas trees and I really enjoyed working with them! Thank you, T family, for the opportunity to be your photographer for this session!
In November, I was given the opportunity to photograph this cute family again and really enjoyed working with them! Below are a few photos from the session!
A few days ago, I was so encouraged and brightened by a verse that the LORD brought to mind. The verse was James 1:17, which says:
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
This is a very familiar verse to me - one that I've had memorized for quite a while, yet never took much time to reflect on its meaning or apply it to my life.
It kind of sounds silly, but I have an idiosyncrasy for loving and paying attention to things that match, work out "just right", mental puzzle pieces that fit together and make sense, etc. In general, I really like for things to be perfect - at least, as perfect as they can be in a fallen world - but I would not characterize myself as a "perfectionist", just someone who pays attention to little details and loves visual and mental patterns and connections. Many times, I'll exclaim, "It's just perfect!!", after evaluating something/a situation that has just worked out very well, and wasn't necessarily planned out that way... My day is instantly brightened!
Well, on that particular day, not but a minute after my idiosyncratic exclamation erupted from my lips, James 1:17 came to mind. It suddenly occurred to me that God is the Giver of all of those little "perfect" gifts - each situation that comes together "just right"...each fun time my outfit just so "happens" to match my coffee mug or Bible case...each time something tricky, or time-consuming works out smoothly...each Sunday my fingers play through a difficult piano piece entirely, without completely flunking...each time a Bible verse is providentially brought to mind just at the exact moment it should - these are all reflections of God's perfection, love and sweet gifts He gives to His children. What an uplifting way the LORD chooses to touch us - to shower individuals with little gifts that brighten our spirits and bring such joy in this journey of life! He is not obligated by any means to encourage or bless us, but He so graciously does time and time again. Take delight in knowing that this is one of the many ways the Father shows His undying love for His own. All praise, glory and honor be to the Giver of Gifts, now and forever!
So, I would encourage you today... The next time something turns out just "perfect", thank God and stand in awe of His amazing perfection in orchestrating all things together for His glory!
1 John 4: 7, 8
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
Do you ever struggle with loving others unconditionally? When a family member does something that really irritates you for the 3rd + time that day, do you respond in a loving way - like Jesus would - in patience and longsuffering? What are you "known for"? Does your family see you as gentle and gracious, or cranky and ugly? When difficult life situations arise and you find yourself getting anxious, do you let your emotions dictate the way you respond to others, or turn to Christ in prayer to be able to respond in a gracious way? What spiritual fruit are you producing - sweet, ripe, juicy fruit, or old, moldy, rotten fruit?
These are all questions I've been asking myself for many months... As the oldest sibling of 9, I have had an incredible opportunity to watch my younger sisters and brothers grow and mature and help teach/train some of them up for the LORD. With that title as "oldest sibling" though, there is a great responsibility to be a godly example of what a Christian is to be - in all aspects. In some cases, the oldest one in a family has more of an influence on the younger ones than the parents themselves. What a sobering thought and huge responsibility!
About a year or so ago, the LORD opened my eyes to one of my major faults: not loving my siblings unconditionally, to be able to respond to frustrations in a loving, Christlike way. The example I was setting forth was not the way Jesus would respond, nor was it the way I would want to be treated (Luke 6: 31). Over the past few months, little by little, the LORD led me to Bible verses, quotes and book excerpts, which aided in learning how to love in an unconditional way - overlooking minor irritations and faults in other people. In the paragraphs below, I'm sharing what the LORD has graciously taught me, and because it is so close to my heart, I couldn't help but collect my thoughts together and write a post on this subject. I cannot possibly cover all aspects of how one can show unconditional love towards others, since there is such variety in individual's walks in life, but here is a start.
Why Should We Love Others?
God loved us first and sent His only Son to redeem a people for Himself. No greater love has ever been shown here on earth. If we are true Christ-followers, we will be known by the love we show to others out of the love we have for our Savior.
1 John 4: 9-11
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins, Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (emphasis added)
John 13: 34, 35
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
What is Love?
Love is an action! It is living in a way towards others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6: 31).
"Love is not a feeling. It is an overmastering passion to help and bless and deliver and comfort and strengthen and give joy to others just as the Lord Jesus always did.
According to 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8, love:
How Do We Love Unconditionally?
This is often the most difficult part! We know the why, but not exactly the how behind these truths found in God's Word. There is a helpful acronym I heard a little while ago from a conference speaker, which spells out HEART - a perfect reminder of how love is shown to others.
H - Humble
E - Encouraging
A - Available
R - Reliable
T - Tender
"1. The first characteristic of true love is humility: the pouring of oneself down lower and lower in self-effacement and self-denial. The message of running water always is, 'Go lower. Find the lowest place. That is the only way to true fulfillment.'
There are a few practical ways I've learned that helps me to show love to others - particularly my siblings. Here are some of them:
One last thing I want to mention is, remember to give thanks for the dear people you rub shoulders with day in and day out. Remember that God has placed you in the family and position that you are in for a specific purpose. "Be content with such things as ye have" (Heb. 13: 5), because our sovereign LORD is orchestrating "all things together for good" (Rom. 8: 28), and has you exactly where He wants you! Take heart that God will never leave or forsake you - no matter what - and trust in Him alone. God is the LORD of love and is the ultimate example we have to follow...seek His face and He will guide you by His loving hand.
I want to encourage you to look for ways to show unconditional love to the people you might struggle with, in particular. Ask the LORD to help you to love like Jesus, so others will see Him through you. The next time your flesh wants to respond harshly to conflict, stop and ask yourself, "how would Jesus respond?" There is a reason that the first mentioned fruit of the spirit, is love. It is the most important, most difficult to learn, most rewarding character quality to possess. 1 Corinthians 13: 13 says, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
May the LORD bless you as you strive to love others in a Christlike way!
Just last week...
Our family secretly traveled out to Arizona for a once-in-a-lifetime event. My dad's parents celebrated 50 years of marriage!!! What an exciting visit it was! My grandparents had no idea we were coming out there, and it was decided to surprise them at their favorite restaurant the day we arrived. They were shocked and we were overjoyed that the secret was kept for so many months! A couple of days later, we all headed over to a hiking scenic trail to get some family photos taken in the beautiful AZ sunset. The LORD really blessed that day...the weather was so pretty, everyone was well and healthy, the sun appeared later in the day after a morning of clouds, and the photos captured many smiling faces set up in good positions (something difficult to accomplish at times!). : )
We praise the LORD for Grammy & Pa's example of faithfulness to each other, the LORD, children and grandchildren. The verse that comes to mind is, Proverbs 13: 22, which says, "A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children..." Praise the LORD for the what He has done!
Well, without further ado... Here are some photos!
The entire Nelson family-
L to R: the Brady Nelson family, the Gary Nelson family (my grandparents) and the Blake Nelson family
Here is another energetic family I had the privilege to photograph! These people are so sweet to be around, with three young children and one on the way! : ) Thank you, "N" family, for allowing me to capture your precious family on camera!
Although it was just a bit chilly, the light was great to work in, plus, Heritage Park was a beautiful place to meet. I highly recommend using rocking chairs and/or a step ladder for children! They love sitting in them and it always adds the right height and triangular shapes needed to create a nice picture, whether it be for the group shot, or for individual portraits. Can't wait for the next time I get to use them!
Before the Christmas season began, I was able to photograph this cute family! They are so much fun to be around and full of energy (as I'm sure you can imagine with two active little girls!)... I really enjoyed working with them and hope to have more opportunities to photograph them in the near future!
Thank you, W family, for choosing me to be your photographer for the day! : )