He is Able

After a very rough start to 2014, having our world turned upside down by cancer’s vicious robbery of my father-in-law, God graciously reminded us what He called us to very early in our marriage. The Wedding… His Promise…Our Future.

Our charge and gifting to tell The Love Story.

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Just a few weeks after Jason’s dad’s funeral we were back in Illinois photographing Jason’s cousin’s wedding.

Jason’s dad was the middle child of three brothers. The day after Rick passed away we received word that his older brother had also passed away at his home. The bride’s dad, the youngest of the three lost both of his brothers within days in the middle of the wedding preparations of his only daughter. What a difficult time that was for the Stratton family. But God knew what we would need. He knew we needed to celebrate the Bride and He knew Jason and I needed to photograph the story. He doesn’t leave us to sit and ask questions for long. He answers us by putting us right back into the environment where He has called us to serve.

2014-11-25_0002And not just once…

A few weeks later we got word that one of Jason’s other cousins was getting married in April.

“Could we photograph their wedding in Minnesota?”

I will be honest with you all. God moved us out of weddings (on my part) kicking and screaming. Now that I was OUT of the wedding photography business I didn’t want to go back in, not even for family. But we did. It was ordained work. Timed perfectly. I loved every moment of the creation process of these images in the weeks leading up to Easter. God knew Easter weekend was coming and He knew what I was about to see for the very first time.

God shows us the masterpiece before He leads us into the mess so we believe Him when He says…

I am able.

2014-11-25_0005Both weddings were incredible. Neither of the brides had any idea how much they ministered to me this past spring. I needed both of them to remind me through their personal stories about the grand  story we are all telling as followers of Christ. The anticipation, the waiting, the getting dressed, the details, the thoughts, the looks, the smiles, the thrill, and the relief of forever taking the hand of the One who would lay down His life for you at your very worst. They reminded me of how beautiful it is when The Bride is focused on being her very best for Him, because she loves Him. I needed the beauty of both weddings to prepare my heart. Because we were about to see how much work we had to do to get “The Bride” ready to tell her story…

On April 17th I dropped my son off at his youth service at our home church. It was the Thursday before Easter… the night we were “betrayed”. Our little church building is only two minutes from our home church, so I decided to drive by and pray that evening as I often did. The leaves were beginning to fill in so I didn’t see the busted boards until I was right in front of it. Here it was, the inside revealed by would-be thieves and vandals. If they took anything out, we will never know but I was about to see what was was left inside. I knelt down and peeked in while calling my husband. The limited light revealed the hardwood floors and a few pews covered by cobwebs.

I was afraid of what I might find. So I didn’t go in alone.

I left it to go and pick up Jason and a drill so we could put the boards back on. I felt a lot better going in with him at my side. Neither one of us was really prepared for what we would see, but we were not surprised.

 The words just wouldn’t come that night as we stepped in to see what we had invested most of our savings into. I didn’t expect a chandelier or an antique organ or any fancy communion dishes. I sort of glanced around looking for an old Bible, but all I could see was trash, brokenness, decay, and damage. Even the next day when I brought my team out to see it – I could do nothing but stand in the middle of the mess and wonder why. It was like being back in the hospital at the bedside of my dying father-in-law. I felt helpless and completely overwhelmed by how horrible death is. It felt like death in that place but yet, as was the case during Rick’s final days, there was a familiar peace.

God was with us. He never leaves, no matter how big the mess.

I handed my phone to my oldest daughter and told her to take some pictures and while we prayed boldly and loudly for God’s restoration of His property in the entry of that old church, she captured this.

2014-11-25_0013We are all standing there in the light praying – six women. But because of her amazing skills as a photographer who captures reality perfectly, you can’t even see us. I LOVE this picture of prayer. Light breaking into darkness and completely taking over. When looking at a photograph the eye always always goes to the brightest spot in the image. Even if there is no detail at all in that “spot” the eye ignores the rest of what does create contrast searching out the light in the image. Every time I look at this image, knowing my then 6-year-old was holding the camera. Considering that pretty much every other image she captured that day was out of focus, dark, a close-up of her nose, or a crooked image of our feet… it’s obvious God is making a huge statement here.

Light has entered the building. When we walked in, so did God’s presence.

I’m starting to notice a cycle in my personal life. He takes me as far as He can get me to go, and then, if I dig my heels in fear and doubt or just plain stubbornness, He takes me back to a familiar place to show me I can do it. Jason and I shot the last wedding in April with the least amount of gear that we have EVER had. And it was awesome, one of my favorites by far. I’m starting to realize now that it’s not about my ability anymore. God has brought us to our knees on so many levels these past two years to show us that

He is able.

All eyes on The Groom!

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