Tag Archive | photography

What’s beautiful?

Multnomah Falls Boulder

Multnomah Falls Boulder

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

“Get a picture of that boulder!” interrupted my husband. The excitement in his voice yanked my attention away from the breathtaking waterfall. I matched my gaze in the direction of his eyes, expecting to find a thing of beauty. Nothing in that direction moved me. We entered into a sort of I Spy game.

“Which boulder? Where is it?” I inquired.

“To the right of that big tree,” he directed.

The hunt went on for quite a while. Part of the problem: what he found beautiful looked like a huge rock to me. I finally realized which boulder took his breath away.

Beauty certainly IS in the eye of the beholder!

I kept my opinion to myself and snapped the picture.

What do you find refrigerator-worthy? My aunt places snapshots of sunsets on her frig.

Most parents display their children’s school work. Like me. Years ago, Chris’ test papers decorated our kitchen. Learning came easy to him, so he earned a multitude of A’s. Each one found a place of prominence on the refrigerator.

Then one day Chris got a low grade. Mostly for not following directions. He presented the paper to me in tears.

“Why are you crying?” I asked.

“I’m afraid you’re not gonna love me anymore.”

“Oh, Chris. NOTHING will ever change my love for you. Nothing.”

Chris mistakenly interpreted my pleasure in academic excellence as a measure of my love. I assured him of my love. But his comment made me rethink which papers were refrigerator-worthy. Only the ones which demonstrated great effort were awarded a spot with the comment, “I love you because of who you are. Let’s celebrate your effort.”

How ‘bout your parenting? Do you feel it wouldn’t qualify for a place on a refrigerator? Are you hard on yourself? Is your child’s mental illness (MI) making you feel like a failure? Do friends, relatives, and educators feed your personal assessment? By judging you on your child’s behavior? You’re probably not alone. Many of us focus on our child’s performance rather than our own effort. No wonder we feel unworthy of joining the refrigerator representatives of success.

Do you think there’s nothing beautiful in how you manage your child who has MI? Shift your criteria from what you can’t control to what’s within your ability to demonstrate. You’ll find beauty in your endless effort, unconditional love, and heartfelt prayers.

Celebrate the impact you have in your home. You light a dark mood with your joy. Turmoil that invades your home can’t rob you of God’s peace. When MI causes conflict between family members, you appeal to the One who can intervene. Trusting the Mediator, who reconciled mankind to God through His death, to heal relationships.

Outsiders define good parenting by what they see. Without knowing the challenges you face. Thankfully, the Bible challenges us to be God-pleasers rather than man-pleasers (Galatians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:4). Align your definition of beauty with the biblical definition. What pleases our heavenly Father?

“For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory (Psalm 149:4).”

He loves you for who you are. You’re a child of the King. Amazing!

“…The prayer of the upright pleases him (Proverbs 15:8).”

Your prayers delight Him. Imagine that.

“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).”

In spite of insurmountable trials, you maintain your hope in Him.

What’s beautiful to God? You are.

What’s beautiful about God?  He’s patient and longsuffering. He’s accessible. He’s on the throne. He’s never changing. He gave His only Son to die for our sins. He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us.

There’s undeniable beauty in God’s power displayed in creation. We find beauty in His Word and promises. We experience it in His sovereignty and power. We depend on His abundant hope and perfect peace. And rest in His unconditional love and faithfulness.

We anticipate the ultimate beauty: His promise of heaven where there will be no more MI or tears.

Reflect on the beauty of God as you listen to Phil Wickham’s song ‘You’re Beautiful.’  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfhb0_tmrbc

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Heads up!

Violin.down  Violin.Up

“Heads up!” What happens if you don’t heed that warning? You take your chances. A ball may be rocketing right toward your face! Athletes need to remain attentive.

Keen attention is required for students. Some demonstrate it and some don’t. Those who don’t pay attention in class risk failing tests. To help distractible students, I seated them beside classmates with extraordinary powers of concentration. The children with tremendous focus provided good examples. The inattentive students learned to follow the lead of their neighbor.

How can an eight year old demonstrate consistent focus? Maybe it’s because he gets lost of practice looking up. His small stature requires tilting the head to look at those in authority. The vast difference in size reminds the youngster of the adult’s greater power.

That gives us a picture of what we can do. Tilt our heads to the heavens toward the One Who has great power. Mental illness (MI) can loom so large in our lives. What if we looked up to God more often? Would our perspective change?

Photography offers a symbol of a transformed viewpoint. My new passion is snapping pictures from the ground. Looking up reveals surprises. Things appear much larger and more beautiful. Like the two pictures of the violin. I took several photos so we could advertise it on Craig’s List. Looking down, I captured a beautifully-crafted instrument in a humdrum context. The picture I took looking up made me smile. Surrounded by the sky, the violin became part of God’s creation.

Likewise, we can view our journey with God’s plan as the backdrop. With that perspective, MI shrinks in its size and power over us. It becomes just part of God’s canvas for our lives.

Come with me as I usher you into God’s Museum of Sovereignty. Stroll with me as we pass by paintings on the walls. Each one depicts a different life. We arrive at the portrait of your life. Pause and study the Artist’s work. At first glance, swirls of dark colors depict turmoil. Linger a bit and let the divine details draw you in. Search for the significance behind each stroke.

Behind the shadows of your trial, you see splashes of His light illuminating your path. Suddenly you spot the beauty of His faithfulness. As you peer closer, you detect glimpses of His purpose. You contemplate the Artist’s meaning behind the characters and scenes.

Trace the stream of your teardrops. They flow down the Mountain of Comfort and dissolve into the Pool of Insight. His power and love become as crystal clear as the water. Gratitude fills your heart. And you smile.

When MI becomes so complicated and you don’t know where to turn, remember the advice: heads up!

Close your eyes and see the violin surrounded by endless sky. Imagine that the violin represents your life. Think of the sky as God’s abundant hope. His endless peace envelopes your life. With eyes still closed, reflect on the sculpture He’s forming in you. He who begun the good work has promised to be faithful to complete it.

We often begin our day praying for no problems. Hoping our day will be perfect. Rather than anticipating His perfection in the midst of trials.

Without a heavenly perspective, MI can certainly hammer us until we hang our head low in hopelessness. The Psalmist experienced such despair. He gave us the perfect example of self-talk in Psalm 42:5 & 11, Psalm 43:5. We can join him by saying, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

There it is. The ‘heads up’ we need. Look up to One Who is bigger than any of our problems.

Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us to look up in our journey.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Reflect on God. He is above all things and thinks of you, above all else. Let Michael W. Smith’s song ‘Above All’ bless you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjYiEyu8Si8