2019: The year of hope (the beginning)

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For the past 3, (going on 4) years of my life—I have chosen to devote myself to a single word each year that is chosen prayerfully. If you go back far enough, you can find my post on the first ever word I chose (I won’t reveal it here). Choosing ‘my word’ has been a great blessing to me. My words have stretched me, given me strength, and brought me deep joy through their individual journey.

In the past, my words came to me rather quickly. Yes, I did pray and listen—but it never took long for the tiny spirit inside me to react and know ‘This is my word’. This time was different. I had to pray more. I had to listen more. I had to pay attention to my life more. My mind sifted through multiple words and I could not land on the one. It was quite unusual and I questioned if I would know which word I was given soon enough.

And of course, two days before the new year approached, God showed me that my 2019 word was indeed HOPE and that I needed to get on board with Him and delight in this word.

Because—at first, this word sounded boring to me. It was one of the words that kept swirling around in my mind and it seemed dull compared to the others. I kept thinking that ‘hope’ was just a last effort resort to dealing with hard situations. I supposed “I hope…” was an empty phrase that you say when you don’t know how to respond. That is weak, dying hope. My thoughts were wrong, very wrong.

Even in the few days I have had with this word, God reminds me of scriptures He has given us about hope.


“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13


The Bible says Hope sits right next to Faith and Love. It says Hope can make us soar. Hope is surely not an afterthought or a mere ‘wish’, hope is our powerful anchor and my heart is excited to see how this word changes my life this year.

I have insecurities and heart issues that I need hope for. I have questions and confusions about my life that desire the grounding of hope.

Hope is an umbrella, which covers all of my life.

For this word, I am already thankful.

 

Xo,

 

E.

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Photography: Bryson Eller Photography

A Tribute to my Husband

As the month of October approaches, I am reminded of the weekend two years ago when I came to visit you for the first time. I remember the cocktail of emotions that was mixing around inside of me. The excitement, curiosity and infatuation that was growing for you daily–even hourly.

I vividly recall the image of you sitting on our dear friends porch as you waited for me to step out of my car. Being 235 miles apart from each other, this moment had been on our minds for 2 months prior.

Later that weekend, you told me:

“I never want to tell anyone else that I love them.”

And that sentence struck me with both shock and yet, peace. It was appalling to say such a thing–yet a little river of tranquility was running through me. I knew I’d be loving you until death, as they say.

You loving me, is really the best.

You bless me with your love that is passionate and loud. Then again with your heart that is tender. And more with your richness for life. Because of you–I dance much more. I cry for deeper reasons, because God knows love is challenging and heavy. When I decided to be your wife, I was brought into a painting that extended on and on–this journey of marriage.

And though that crossroad was frightful–with me undone to my core–cocooned in fear. You responded with words like, ” You are beautiful. Always.”

I’m unsure where I would be if you weren’t there to help me walk through own personal dark forests. You make loving me seem effortless–and I know, if anything, that it’s not.

I am complex.

I am sensitive.

I have a never ending trail of questions in my mind–and you’re patient to answer them.

I praise God that He has stitched you into my side.

I celebrate you today and everyday. I celebrate that years ago, God dreamt you up and created your strong, romantic heart. I celebrate that he directed our paths and intertwined us in the most wonderful way.

I celebrate all the joy that is to come from being your wife.

Happy Birthday Alexander.

xo,

Liz

 

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^^^^^^ October 2016

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^^^^^ January 2018

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Photography Tale

What is photography for me?

It seems like every person I meet has a camera these days. Social media has put this desire in people’s lives to document, capture and share their lives through photography.

My feelings on that are indifferent.

My photography story unfolds below:

Four years ago I was calling my brother and best friend to meet me after my work shift to “be with me” as I went into the store to purchase my sweet baby Canon camera. It was the most expensive item I had ever purchased that was just for me.

Where did my desire for said camera come from?

I’m really not sure.

It just sort of “fell out of the sky”. I played with point and shoot cameras growing up. I messed around with crappy video programs, but really, writing and poetry has always been my first love–and will always be the most innate artistic part of me. But this isn’t about either of those.

Looking back now, I know my random desire to get into photography was sown into me by God.

Anyways…

While working for my aunt and uncle in Florida as a server, my uncle and I were chatting about this very cheap camera I came across on Craigslist. My uncle was a film photographer back in his younger years in New York (owned his own studio, what a cool cat) and what better person to be standing right there while I was looking at the ad. The memory seems so fuzzy now, but that moment stuck with me.

After that night, some weird, passionate photography dust fell on me.

I began researching cameras and brands. If I was out in public and I saw some one with a camera, I would ask them questions and seek their advice. The thoughts of a camera never stopped. Even as I waited tables at night, if a customer I waited on had a camera on their table, they were going to get railed with questions by me.

After 6 months of saving, bombarding strangers, and researching—I had enough money and knew enough to make a decision. I still hesitated for a while due to the fact that it was such a huge investment for me at the time. So glad that hesitation was overruled with curiosity.

My artist heart was bubbling over with obsession + excitement + challenge.


 

The first thing I ever photographed was my best friend, Hannah. A very careless photo of her sitting on my couch blown out with the flash. Four years later, she is still one of the main subjects I spend time photographing.

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As I think back, I remember how terrible I was and how frustrating it was for me. I think of how I had to practice the beautiful harmony of shutter speed, aperture and exposure over and over.

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I would consider myself an artist who is “all art” and creates simply by feeling–I’m not technical by nature. The biggest challenge for me was (and is) merging the mechanics of photography with the inspiration behind what I want to capture. I don’t think I actually began to master that combination until recently.

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However, what was so wonderful about those beginning years was this:

I allowed myself to my bad. I accepted that it would be a long time before I would have a particular style, or be proud of what I was shooting.

I’m thankful I continued to persist through those thousands and thousands of bad batches of photos. And then eventually, bad got better, then they were okay, then they were…actually good.

I wrote this to remind myself of my humble journey. And there are SO many beautiful gifts photography has brought me (richly documented travels, new friendships, deeper passion for art, and my favorite—my husband.) Photography came into my life in a stable, sweet season. Now—fast forward 4 years, and I have gone through many major life transitions and I’ve found myself in a position where photography has not been my main focus. It’s been drifting away. And I miss it. But through its absence, I have come to understand the ebb and flow of art and life and the big dance that they are.

So, what is photography for me? Above all, it takes ideas out of my imagination and into reality.

There may be a plethora of photographers out there now. And I am just one little seed among that plethora.

Cheers to being a little seed that desires to produce a harvest.

 

XO,

 

E.

“What is your life?”

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

 

My granddad (casually known as Paw-Paw) died a few weeks ago. He was 88 years old.

His death touched me in a deep and peaceful way. I cried at his funeral, of course, but these tears were so full of gratitude. I truly hope that on my day of passing into the next eternity that those around me will feel the way I felt.

Family friends and pastors spoke at his funeral. They grabbed my hand and took me on a journey through his life with their words. They told stories I had never heard before. As they spoke, I kept thinking, “This man was amazing! Thank you God for creating him and letting me be his granddaughter.” They even spoke of certain experiences my granddad had right before he died. I felt so captivated listening to them.

I’ve been to my fair share of funerals before. You can’t escape the somberness they bring in your heart. Even if they were suffering, or their death was expected: our loved one is gone. They aren’t here to experience the pain we feel when they leave us. Their spirit lives only in our memories…I might say it is the hardest part of loving some one. We love them with so much, yet we know we do not own them—we cannot keep them forever.

There were a few characteristics of my Paw-Paw that were mentioned numerous times during his funeral. Virtues that I admired and desired to have more of in my life.

 

My Paw-Paw had a servants heart. He never thought twice about helping anyone. He delighted in helping people. His desire to help did not come from selfish gain, but with humility and genuine concern for whoever was on the receiving end. His heart was so willing to put aside his plans for the day to go and help a family move into their home, bring them a meal my Granny had cooked or just to listen to a problem they were dealing with. I felt so convicted sitting in that church pew listening to them explain this. My heart needs working on in this area. I’m always consumed by my tasks, my goals, my life–that when some one needs help the first thing in my mind is “I can’t because I have to [insert excuse here].” I felt so much respect come over me as this trait was brought up again, and again and again!

He loved people. All people. All ages of people. He didn’t treat any one person better because of what they did, their job, who their family was, etc. He saw people as Christ sees them—worthy. Worthy of love. Worthy of a conversation. Worthy of his time. He knew that a child could teach him just as much about life as a big time preacher. His heart did not judge. Tears well up in my eyes as I reflect on his heart that understood that every person is to be celebrated.

He followed his dreams and goals. My Paw-Paw was an incredible artist. As a fellow artist, he always stirred in me the desire to make art prevalent in my life. He knew the narrow path that is required of an artist. He did not let doubt creep into his heart to the point of giving up. He believed art was his God-given gift and knew that it took self-discipline to pursue it. He believed in what he was doing. He attached his purpose to God and gave God the credit. I believe he reaped a great reward because his heart was alive following his dreams. He accomplished what he set out to do on this Earth. If there is anything to be praiseworthy about, it’s this!

He loved the Lord God with all his heart, all his soul, and all his mind. It did not take long for you to be around my Granddad to hear him mention Jesus. It would take maybe 20 minutes before he was asking you how he could pray for you. Or he would simply say “God has been so good to me.” in a way that made you feel hopeful. His faith was one to admire. He trusted in God through the trials of life and was not scared to mention his goodness. He followed the Holy Spirit and desired to obey what God asked of him. I pray that God makes my faith grow into such beauty.

 

“What is your life?”

That is the question I asked myself as we drove away from the cemetery that afternoon.

I looked around at my family and felt a mysterious refreshment spring up inside of me. I was thankful that we had spent our day together celebrating a life well lived. I could feel our hearts being united and rooted in love for this dear person we were going to miss.

I was present in this day, these moments—spent crying and laughing, dancing through the good times in the course of photographs and stories.

Photographs + stories…two of my favorite things.

 

XO,

E.

 

It is a rare occasion that this side of the fam is all together so I had to bring the camera out. Thanks to my wonderful husband for capturing most of these photos 😉

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it is all too big for me

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“the way i feel much more than others,

the way pain has taken root,

the way skies will not part–

i want the grays to turn to lavenders,

shattered breaths to satisfied sighs.

all, it all, is too big for me.

how does a soldier carry weapons,

when their best is empty metal?

does he hope a brother along his way

will help his bloody hand?

 

i try to understand–

all, it is all too big for me.

 

deep in the overwhelming bigness of life

and its sea of doubts,

is a little pearl named Hope

how i want to find Her 

and string her around my neck.”

 

alas, hope, show yourself. xo