When I was about 11, I was given my first camera. It was little 110 camera that had an ugly brown case. I loved it. I had gotten a few cartridges of film with the gift, but I shot those in about 2 hours. I just fell in love with the whole idea of putting the images that I saw with my eyes into permanent form that I could share. Most of the time that I HAD that camera, I took pictures with no film in it. I didn't do it for show or ever try to make anyone THINK I was taking real photos. I couldn't afford, at 12, to buy my own film or even BEGIN to be able to process it. I just like looking through the lens, finding my shot, and taking it. At that point, it was about perspective and seeing my images through the lens , even if they would never be printed or shared with anyone else.
At 14 yrs old, I was given the duty of buying my own clothes and supplies. I got a part-time job, but ended up spending my first-ever paycheck on another camera. It was a little better than my first one, but still it was cheap and didn't take very good pictures. Even still, I LOVED it and went through all of my film in about a day! Often times, I could afford to buy the film, but never the processing. When I moved out on my own at 17, I found MANY rolls of unprocessed film. I just LOVED looking through the lens and finding my shot. Sure, on the occasion that I could afford processing, I cherished the photos and kept them very close to me through all of my moves. Even still, it was more about seeing the image in my head. It was my passion.
Through many more years, the Lord birthed this passion in me to make pictures. I have shared before that I never really dreamed of a life beyond my teens. Life, at that point, was just too hard to deal with physically and emotionally. Thinking that it would last for decades was too much to bare, so I didn't. The ONE thing that I let myself daydream about was being a photographer. I would find National Geographics in the library and imagine myself hanging from a rope, trying desperately to get the perfect shot of whatever canyon or mountain I had been assigned. These dreams REALLY were my only dreams that I allowed myself. I remember holding my Senior Memories Book on my last day of high school and filling out the pages. I got to the page that started with, "In ten years, I see myself______________" and I QUICKLY scribbled in the word, "photographer".
At 20, I moved to Georgia. I was in a new state and felt as if I had the WORLD open to me, because I was leaving a lot of the hurt and pain behind me. I was broke and worked as a party hostess at a go-cart track, but (with the help of grants and loans that I am STILL paying off) I entered myself into a degree program for Commercial Photography. I had NO CAMERA, mind you, but the school allowed me to check one out for each assignment. It was a Pentax K1000. It was your basic, commonly used, manual SLR. There were no bells and whistles and no automatic ANYTHING. Still, I just cherished every moment I had with it. I took my first self-portrait on it. I used it to set up and shoot my first studio shots with lighting. I even took my first-ever pictures of my husband on it, although I wouldn't learn about THAT part of God's plan until much later. I can still remember the butterflies I got watching my first image begin to show itself in the developing tray. Although I despised rolling my own film cartridges and processing my own film, there wasn't anywhere that I preferred to be than in the darkroom. (That is one of the things that I will miss when we jump into the digital era!)
My first fully automatic, bells and whistles camera was a gift from my, now, husband. It was one of the first models of a Canon EOS Rebel. It was 35 mm and I cried and cried and cried some more. I don't think that it is ANY coincidence that the Lord delivered this camera to me through the hands of the man that He would use to teach my heart about true love, the kind of love that comes from Him, but that is for another post :o).
We both graduated and soon after married. When we started taking pictures for pay, I felt so at home behind that camera. Dealing with clients, even stressed out BRIDES, was a place that I felt at total comfort and ease. It was one of the things that I was BORN to do and I know this. I did photo shoots within a week (before and after) of each of the births of my first three children! I just enjoyed it THAT much.
When Nathan and I answered the Lord's calling on our hearts into full-time service, our call also came with some realizations. The first was that our life wasn't ours at all. Surrendering to full-time service, for us, translated to sacrifice greater than any we had known; at least for a time. We already had three beautiful children under three and another baby due to make four! Being faithful to our call and completing the specific tasks that the Lord was guiding us to in the way of education, left no room for photography. As hard as it was to do, we sold off our professional equipment to help fund our move to NC in obedience. It was SO hard to do, but we both knew what was required of us and we knew that, even though the Lord had given us BOTH a passion for photography, for us to accomplish THOSE goals at this point of our life would be selfish ambition. SO, the equipment was gone and we moved to NC.
Three and a half years and another baby brought home later, that passion is still very much inside me. I have shared with a few people of this passion to repurchase equipment and begin taking pictures again professionally. It is something that I want to do SO BADLY that I can smell it and taste it! However, we aren't there yet. Nathan will be finishing up his BABS in May and that is wonderful! He still has his graduate work to complete and by then we hope to know more about the ministry that the Lord has prepared for us. To try and scrimp and save to get the equipment, even to restart my business, at this point would still be selfish ambition. Honestly, I don't have the time yet to even be able to enjoy a camera if I had it I am afraid. It is sacrifice. It is hard. It may sound silly to someone who hasn't known me, really taken the time to KNOW me, but it is gut-wrenching at times to not be able to do this. Sacrifice is hard. If it isn't, chances are that you aren't doing it.
Honestly too, this is a sin that I have been dealing with almost daily lately. I know in my heart that I must wait and be obedient, but my flesh remembers that little, cheap 110 camera and how great it felt to even just look through the lens and compose those images in my brain that I KNEW would never even be shared! It is hard not to desire for something that was born in your soul like my love for photography was. It is okay to think fondly of those things and look forward to a time when I can enjoy them again, but to dwell on them and allow my joy to be robbed by the disappointment in NOT having them, is a sin of one of the worst kinds. It breeds discontentment and bitterness. Those are two rotten fruits that I want NOTHING to do with!
Until the day comes when the Lord desires to make those things a part of my life, I will continue to take photos with my little, point and shoot "Mommy Camera". I get clean, focused images of my kiddos and, every now and again, I can get those not-so-Mommy images also. I am praying for contentment in this. I am praying that I will be strong in our united efforts to save money and to provide only what the Lord desires for us to provide for our children. I feel certain that there is blessing on the other side of this learning for me, even if it is just in the growth and the obedience. Like I said before though, sacrifice is HARD. If it doesn't hurt, it probably isn't being done.
I came back this afternoon to add a thing or to. I am happy with my life. I love being a Mommy and I love being a wife! I love even the mundane parts of my job like changing diapers and wiping noses. I wouldn't trade what I have for any amount of money or any job. I don't want anyone to misread my post and think I am NOT content. I do struggle with, selfishly, wanting to pursue my own pleasures and hobbies. In time, I will be able to do BOTH. For now, I can't and that is where the sacrifice comes. Just wanted to clear that up :o)