I spent a lot of time around cameras as a child. I often went to work with my Mom, a (then) portrait studio manager, and watched her in action. I fell in love with the art of photography.
Some where in my memory boxes I still have the photos of my first "photo shoot" stored away. I was about 10, and my little brother was my subject. I posed him, added props, and did everything I learned from observing in my Mom's studio. I even made sure my subject was "centered."
I eventually found my own style for photography. Every artist has their own unique style; we are all intertwined copy cats of each other too. I became a portrait studio manager. I was promoted to studio manager 3 months after being hired, and it was my very first "real" photography job. I had been taught well as a child how to be a good (studio) photographer. I grew up with those cameras. I knew how to center my subject, to add variety to each pose, be creative, and make sure each picture was in focus. I was passionate about what I focused my lense on, and that made a difference too. Without meaning to, I "booted" the current studio manager out of her position. My sales averages were doubling & trippling hers. I was being sent to other stores in order to bring up their sales averages for the week, and I would tripple their weekly goals in one day. Of course I was promoted to studio manager.
I knew from the beginning that the most important factor in a photograph was the person aiming the lense. That's why I knew how to take a good portrait.
I learned more about photography in college, and I left the basic rules of portrait photography and learned how to be a photo-journalist. I learned how to tell a story with the photos I produced, how the slightest change in angle can make all the difference in a good picture or a beautiful picture, and how to lead my viewer's eyes to my main focal point.
I learned how to operate my lense, and how to use the manual settings in order to change the focus in the picture. I learned how to make people see exactly what I wanted them to in a scene through depth of field, and I learned that as a photographer, I control what images are captured in my lense.
If I don't like what's in front of my lense I can change it without having to change the object. Objects aren't always easy to change. But it only takes a second for me to change what I view through my lense or how I focus that view.
I learned that it takes more than "point and shoot" to create a good image.
I am learning in my own life that I have the camera in my hands. I can set the camera on auto and point & shoot if I want. Auto is the setting for people who choose to let the objects be in charge of what they see.
Or, I can change the settings to manual and decide for myself what I want to be seen through the lense.
"Life is such" when people hurt us. We have two choices in any enviroment we're put in: We can set our camera on auto or manual.
When we choose to use manual we give ourselves the ability to change what is viewed through the lense. We can't change the people we see in our lense. But we can change how much focus we put into them or if we even want to focus on them at all. We can change how we view them by simple changes in our angle, focus, and style.
In this photograph I chose to do a "depth of field" shot. I didn't blur the images behind & in front of the stamp with an editing program. I used my manual settings to put the focus where I wanted it; though, I can still see the surroundings, and they are also important to me. But I wanted my focus in this photograph to be on the "forever" stamp. Slightly above & to the left of the stamp you can still see a marriage certificate and mine & my husband's names are carefully displayed as well. But the sharpest point of my photo is the forever stamp. I wanted the focus of this photograph to be on the "forever" of my marriage.
I didn't adjust the objects in order to get it focused like that. I adjusted my focus. We tend to look at people in life and we think they need to change in order for us to have peace within ourselves or to overcome the hurts they may have caused us.
I have learned a lot in my lifetime about photography. But the most important lesson that photography has taught me is that I don't have to change the objects in order to view a beautiful picture. God already made this world beautiful, even with its ugliness in the mix. I can change what I view through the lense by changing the controls I have in my own hand.
I don't need to change people who hurt me. That's not even my job. If I have a problem with what I see in my lense then I need to change myself. I can't change people. The grace of God gives me the wisdom to know that. But I can change how I view them. I can change what kind of focus I want to put on them. I can change how I see them in my lense simply by changing myself. My subjects don't decide what I see...unless I have my camera set to auto. We are "auto"matically born with flesh that chooses to allow the subjects who hurt us decide where we aim our lense & how we focus on them.
A simple switch to the manual setting, and I decide where I aim my lense and how I focus it. I decide to make everything that I see in my lense beautiful, even when "ugly" is a part of the composition. When you know how to use manual properly you can even make "ugly" look beautiful.
Life is beautiful when you keep your settings on manual...because you choose to adjust yourself rather than the objects around you. You realize that adjusting yourself is all you need to do.
(All photographs in this blog © of Tara Cameron.)
Hurt. Angry. Afraid. Weak. Depressed. Cold. Timid. Anxiety. Outcast. Embarrassed. Abandoned. Afraid...afraid... afraid...
These are just some of the ways they made me feel. Dear God, here is my shame. I give it to you.
Here are my feelings of violation. I give it to you.
Here are my feelings of belittlement & being degraded. I give it to you.
Here are my feelings of worthlessness. I give them to you.
Here is my hurt. I give it to you.
Here is my anger. I give it to you.
Here is my fear. I give it to you.
Here is my depression. I give it to you.
Here are the walls that have made me cold. I give them to you.
Here are my timid and anxiety filled nerves. I give them to you.
Here are my feelings of being cast out. I give them to you.
Here are my feelings of embarrassment that my feelings of shame have brought on. I give them to you.
Here are my feelings of abandonment. I give them to you.
Here is my fear... my fear...my fear. I give it to you.
Please forgive them for what they've done to me. Dear God, never hold them accountable for their sins against me. Please wipe it off their record permenantly. I forgive them. I ask you to forgive them to with no conditions... wipe it all away.
I forgive myself for allowing myself to carry the shame that I didn't cause. I forgive myself for allowing myself to feel guilty for sins I didn't commit against me. I forgive myself if I ever hurt anyone because of the person I became. I forgive me. I forgive me. I forgive me in spite of me.
If I ever held resentment for you for allowing bad things to happen to me, then I forgive you. Dear God you have always kept me. I understand that mankind does evil to the innocent because evil co-exists in this world with your goodness. I understand that you give man free will to choose right and wrong, and because of that, some have done evil to me. You allowed them to. I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you.
"I want to be beautiful" the little girl said to God one night at bedtime prayer.
The little girl danced in front of the mirror in heels that didn't fit and Mama's Sunday hat... "I want to be beautiful" she sang.
Little eyes flipped through magazine images while she waited with Mama in the doctor's office for her check-up. "I want to be beautiful" she thought.
...The young lady stood in front of the mirror examining her new curves... "I wish I were beautiful" she said to herself.
One night in a dream she heard a voice say, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised....
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies...
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come...
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness...
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all...
Hear me my daughter this eve'... wake up and be beautiful."
When you ran up to me this morning, grinning ear to ear, and jumped right into my arms...
When I looked into your beautiful blue eyes, saw those dimples on each cheek, and those tiny pearly whites...
When you babbled endlessly in my arms, "Mama...Pray-Lor-wd... Mama..."
And oh, when you hugged me, patted my back and said, "Awe...."
And then came your sister, huge grin when she saw my face...
Another angel climbed into my arms...
(Did God really bless me with these adorable twins?)
When I just sat there staring at your beautiful faces, huge grins, blue eyes...
...and when I realized that those huge grins weren't for any reason except that you were in your Mama's arms...
I realized that God was just being gracious enough to give me a glimpse of heaven.
I realized that even though this world is lost and cruel... good things still exist.
Good things like you make living in this world worthwhile until we can finally go home.
Good things like you give me something to look forward to when I die.
If heaven is as great as I've always heard, you truly must be a glimpse of it...
I am so blessed to be able to hold pieces of heaven in arms everyday. I know now why Jesus loves the little children so much...
I wonder, is this how he feels when he holds me and looks into my eyes? One day, I will run to him, grinning ear to ear... and jump into his arms.
Matthew 24:36-44 (King James Version)
36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Psalm 118:24 (KJV)- "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in
What a beautiful scripture! As I was listening to one of my twins laugh at himself (in his highchair) this morning this scripture came to mind.
In a family of eight, every minute of the day is definately not filled with the cute laughter of an adorable 1 year old. There is often arguing amongst the "big kids" and two crying one year olds periodically through out the day. They too have begun to bicker among each other. They fight over toys and Mommy's lap.
Daddy is at work during the day and school in the evenings. He doesn't get much time at home right now. Needless to say, I'm often here alone with my six kids from morning wake up to bedtime. Does it get stressful? Of course.
But there is nothing more beautiful than the peace of God when we're weary, and regardless of any daily circumstances, everyday is a day to rejoice in the Lord!
Do bills and finances get stressful in this mix? Absolutely not. Do they try? Of course! We are by no means rich. But there are two wonderful "Daddy's" in our home who take care of us. God, and my husband. Yes, money gets tight and bills can be overwhelming. But I don't worry about them. Because I know that my husband is doing everything he's supposed to do in order to take care of his family, and I know that I'm being faithful to God. He will be faithful to us. So why worry? God takes of us. He has never let me down, and neither has my husband.
Rejoice in the Lord instead of worry! Because he has made this day!
These are just a couple of the things I wake up everyday rejoicing to:
...the sounds of six children! I've gotten head shakes in public, and comments like, "you poor girl" or "you sure have your hands full." People mean well. But sometimes I feel like saying, "Are you kidding me? I am so blessed!" Children are a blessing from God, and I love having a large family. They give me daily joy. I couldn't have been more thrilled the day I found out I was having twins in my last pregnancy.
People look at me and say, "I couldn't handle it. I don't know how you do it." I tell them that you adapt with each new child just like a fish adapts to water. Do you think God doesn't know what he's doing? Of course he does!
He built us with adaptation in mind. I'll be honest, when I brought twins home from the hospital it was a culture shock. I was used to bringing ONE baby home from the hospital. But two babies.... that was a whole new world for me. My first week with them involved a lot of crying (from MY eyes,) stress, sleepless nights, and severe feelings of being overwhelmed & fatiqued.
Imagine waking up 2-6 times a night to feed and change your one newborn baby. Now double that, in between feeding/changing the first baby. I also had no help. Dad had to work, and he also went into his own little "shock mode" that involved completely shutting down when it came to the babies (totally normal for the men.) I literally stayed up all night feeding and changing babies. My mind and body went into shock. I didn't know how to handle it. But God did, and he got me through it.
I adapted, and my children are the best blessings God has ever given me. Everyday is a day to rejoice when you wake up to these blessings!
I have a good husband who takes care of his family. There are not a lot of men out there who are willing to do this. It sounds so simple and natural. But it is an unfortunate fact. He has loved me since I was 15, and he has loved me with loyality and perseverance. I can't say my life has been easy since we met. There has definately been many trials through out the years.
He even stood by to pick up the pieces when I strayed right into an abusive marriage with someone else at 18. I walked down the wrong road because I walked away from God at one point in my life. But God's mercy led me home, and my husband's (and God's) mercy & unconditional love restored what had been broken in my soul due to the abuse. I have a husband who stood by with gentle hands for every panic attack, tear, insecurities, and bad dreams while I healed from a marriage that broke me. There is rejoicing in the blessings of a good man!
I could list my blessings all day. My children and husband are at the top of my list. I would not trade either for the world. Our life isn't perfect. Our finances aren't perfect. Our marriage isn't perfect. Our parenting isn't perfect....
But we serve a perfect God who makes everyday with him perfect. That makes all the difference! It makes everyday worth rejoicing, regardless of circumstances. Circumstances are only surface deep. But God lies beyond the surfaces. He lies in the roots where beautiful flowers grow from. They let off sweet scents that give the world around them an inner peace inside. The scent of a flower doesn't stop its aroma just because "junk" lies all around it. It's roots make it beautiful regardless of what is waiting above the ground. Everyday is a day for rejoicing when God is in your roots!
(A photo I took at my sister's house (below.)
If you've never heard of babywearing, let me introduce you to one of the best things you can do for your baby! It's not just one of the many fads out there. There is actually a science & health benefits for you and your baby behind babywearing. You can read more about the benefits here
. There are many places on the web to read about babywearing, just hit "google."
I won't go into depth myself, because this post is meant to inform you of some of the different types of slings available. If you live in my area, I offer free babywearing classes to Moms and Dads (Yes, lots of Dads wear their babies too, including Dads like Brad Pitt!) (If you don't know what area I live in, you'll have to contact me privately.)
Here I will show you some photos of me wearing my favorite slings & I will explain what each of them are:
Here I am wearing a homemade wrap. This is a simple piece of material, cut a certain width & length. Those sizes vary. There are specific ways to "wrap" your baby and you need to learn them before attempting to do so. You can find wearing instructions for every type of sling on youtube, or attend a babywearing class in your local area.
This sling is good for wearing baby for long periods of time. Slings are like shoes. You wouldn't wear heels to go hiking. You'd wear hiking boots! It is the same concept with slings. You want to wear a sling that fits your activity. Though, wraps are very versatile regardless of how long you're wearing one.
They do have longer learning curves. So it may not be the best sling for a beginner. It can actually discourage babywearing if you try to start out in one, because of the learning curve. But some people have a preference for them, and anyone is capable of learning. It's really not that difficult once you learn how! And it's not difficult to learn once you become familiar with it.
Here I am wearing my twins in peanut slings (I refer to them as monkey slings.) I'm actually wearing two different slings here. A peanut sling doesn't look like this. I just put one over each shoulder & crossed them in order to wear my twins at the same time. These are one shoulder carries and are good for wearing baby on your hip, rather than holding them on your hip & not having your hands free. Though, there are several different ways to wear a peanut sling. These slings are not good for extended wearing periods. They're for short wearing periods, a quick trip into the store, etc. I got my monkey slings on Hugamonkey.com. You can learn more about them there.
Here I am wearing a Mei Tai sling. These are Asian inspired slings. They are similar to the way you'd wear a wrap, without the "wrap" part. If you're interested in the wrap and a beginner, this is probably the best way to start out. This sling is typically a square (or sometimes contured) shaped/cut material with four straps, top & bottom. You simply tie the straps around your body (see middle picture.) I am wearing one cut for an adult & my 1 yr old is wearing a mini, child version sling that matches mine, with her doll inside. These are good for little girls who want to be like Mom with their dolls (any sling is really.) This particular sling was homemade. And if they're big enough, even siblings can wear their little brother or sister in this sling. Here is my 10 year old wearing his little sister.
Here is my contured Mei Tai sling. It was from an online boutique. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the website anymore.
These are just my personal favorites, and I wear them all. There are Do's and Don'ts to babywearing! There are safe & unsafe baby slings and safe & unsafe ways to wear your baby. So it is important to be educated on babywearing through a class, online, or a babywearing friend!
Babywearing is as natural for your baby as breastfeeding, and it's origins go back thousands of years & to all cultures.
Thanks for reading!
They are the shadows you see lingering in the dark.
They will cover your body, try to muzzle your mouth & suffocate you.
They will try to take over your mind and make you think you're losing it.
They have even talked many into ending their own lives simply through their presence.
They are real.
But so is my God!
When your chest feels tight and evil's presence is all around... call out His name, "Jesus!"
When your mouth feels like liquid and you think you can't open it, push with all your might and shout His name!
Worship the Lord better than David did!
Claim your promises because He promised them to you!
Claim His Word because he wrote it for you!
Claim His name because you belong to Him!
Claim His blood because it was shed for you!
Claim His power because He is in you!
Put on your armor.
Grab your weapons soldier.
Open your ears for the sound of your commander's orders. Listen. Obey.
Don't forget your canteen because you have to stay hydrated. Drink up soldier, drink!
Stay close to your wingman, and watch his back.
THIS IS WHAT ALL YOUR TRAINING WAS FOR!
Soldier, this is WAR!
Remember your marching formation, get in step with the jody, keep the rhythm with your brothers and sisters, move as one!
"Quick time", 120! Move! Move!
"Double time" 180!!...
♪ "I'm a soldier...left! left! left!... in God's army.
And I'm marching...left! left! left!... claiming VICTORY!
I will not give up...left! left! left!... I will not turn around.
I'm a soldier...left! left! left!... marching heaven bound!" ♫
"Troops who march in an irregular and disorderly manner are always in great danger of being defeated."
-Vegetius: De Re Militari: A.D. 378
Be ONE with the KING! VICTORY is OURS!
There's nothing like the peace of God when you're a mother of six!
Last night I babysat two babies, 2 & under. And for the past few days, I've also been taking care of a 5 month old baby to help out his Mom.
And if that doesn't paint a picture for you, pencil in my 1 year old twins, and also my 5, 7,8, and 10 year old. (Though, on this particular evening the 7 & 8 year old were spending the night elsewhere.) I still had 7 kids, even with two of them gone.
In the midst of the chaos, my husband said, "I don't know how you do this." I knew he was referring to chaos. In this particular scenerio, two 5 month old babies crying, two twins running around who need a "dwink" & want mommy to hold them (with one baby already on my chest in a moby wrap & another in my arms,) a 5 year old who's still hungry & whining, an adorable two year old who only speaks "monkey" and I can't figure out a thing he needs... (heehee, really!)... etc, etc.
And I thought to myself, "What chaos?"
That was the defining moment I realized that I'd been given a very divine gift of true peace from God.
Is there such a thing? And why do some people seem to have this gift & others don't?
First of all, let's see what the Word says about peace. Scripture is a very important tool to apply to our lives. It's not something you should skim over or just ignore all together. The Word is a manual for living our lives. It's important to always read the instructions before attempting to put it together yourself! (To name just a few scriptures on peace:)
Psalms 29:11 says, "The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace."
"Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them."
"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
"And all thy children [shall be] taught of the LORD; and great [shall be] the peace of thy children."
"And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."
"For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. "
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
And this one really brings it home:
"And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
My WHAT has made me WHOLE?! FAITH makes us WHOLE, and when we are WHOLE.... there is... PEACE.
Why do some people have this gift of peace? Because they have true faith, which makes them whole. To have true faith, one must WALK in that faith, everyday. True faith isn't a building you go visit every Sunday.
True faith is waking up every morning with Jesus on your mind...waking up and talking to him.
True faith lives in holiness according to His Word, and studies His Word so that it can imprint itself on the heart.
True faith desires to and sets themselves a part from the carnal world.
True faith believes in the power of prayer, intercession, and carries a burden for other souls.
True faith stumbles, but gets up, dusts themselves off, and keeps marching on.
This faith makes a person whole. If you're not whole in your life reasses your faith. When you've found what you're lacking in faith, DIVE right into it and never look back! When you're whole inside and out, the divine peace of God can't help but consume your life.
Maybe you do walk in faith & find yourself needing some peace. So you're still wondering why you are experiencing this lack of peace. I have two things to say about it: Tell the devil to shut up! And go back to His Word and hold him to it! He's a man of His Word! So pray the Word and scriptures of peace into your life today!
When my home is full of chaos... crying babies, arguing siblings, tattling, whining... LIFE, it does not consume me.
I have a peace inside me that says, "Deal with one issue at a time. Stay calm. Prioritize (Feed crying babies first, etc.) Praise them continually. Correct them with love. Pick your battles. Use your inside voice. Don't forget to breathe!"
That peace makes every bit of chaotic, rambunctious craziness in my life the most beautiful gifts in life, to me. I can look at the chaos and smile. I can look at it and say, "Wow. Life sure is beautiful. He sure has blessed me!"
I'm not perfect. There's no question about that. But I get up everyday and try. I get up everyday and march on. And God gives me peace.
I'm not just a housewife or a Mom. I'm a T.I. training soldiers! And when it gets dark outside, when my little soldiers are sound asleep in their beds, and the tick tock sound of the clock is deafening... I talk to God.
I also spend time chasing my dreams and thinking about my goals, needs, and desires. I find that they are always "What ever you want me to do Lord, here I am" kind of goals. But they're mine. Because my desire and passion is to serve Him. I serve Him by also serving others.
I do my best to follow the path He guides me down, and I never forget to stop and watch the butterflies. Because those butterflies are His little sprinkles of peace upon my soul. I absorb every drop. And I march on... in peace. Amen.
Some have hurt my heart and made me cry.
Words, and even silence can devastate a soul sometimes.
Still, I stand.
Endless nights in prayer, endless weeping, humbling myself before God and those who do me wrong, and often, not even understanding why...
Still, I stand.
Hurricanes blow my way. The devil and his demons taunt my soul and try to whisper in my ears...
Still, I stand.
Those spirits try to attack my marriage, my children, all those I dearly love... in desperate attempts to knock me down.
Still, I stand.
Sometimes I get weary and discouraged as I walk this path to righteousness. Sometimes I feel like I can't make it anymore and that I was never meant to win this race. Take back your thoughts devil.
Because still, I will stand.
Sometimes I feel unworthy and insignficant. Take back your thoughts devil.
Because still, I will stand.
And there are times I feel like I can't ever do anything right, that I'm so clumsy on this spiritual road. Take back your thoughts devil.
Because... I will stand.
Oh, you think you'll overcome my spirit with doubt? You can have back your doubt... I'll stand.
And do you really think sending guilt and condemnation from my past this way, will break me? Keep your nonsense! I've been forgiven! Regrets are for idle saints.
When you're stumbling on your own walk and thinking of taking that other road my brothers and sisters...think of me, and know, I stand. Think of me and know, you too, can stand. Find your salvation again in knowing that His soldiers can stand, because they're covered in His blood!
And when my Maker has called me home, honor my written wishes, and don't hold a funeral for me. Have a singing, shouting, and dancing worship service in His honor, because you've been given your freedom!
Celebrate my homecoming the way you'd celebrate any soldiers! Wear colors of freedom, and forget any garments in black...
And when someone stands behind a pulpit to give a word in my memory...
...just simply say, "She stood."