A couple days ago, I licensed one of my images to a very large corporation. Can’t wait to see how it is used in their advertising. You may see it in your local grocery or in national ad campaigns soon. This is the image. She was such a good little actress to get this shot… Even ate broccoli without complaining!
Here’s another pencil portrait I completed recently. I really enjoy the simplicity of drawing with pencils because it’s fun to start with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil and reduce the subject down to the most basic shapes and forms to create a portrait. I love the idea that pencil and paper are what kids carry to school every day, and that’s all you need to create art.
…about me, that is.
In my 43 years of life, I have often “worried” about what people thought about me. I’ve always wanted to be seen as a “nice guy” who “cared about other people”. But here’s the deal: I don’t care what people think anymore. I don’t care if they think I’m weird. I don’t care if they don’t like how I live. I don’t care if they like the choices I make. I don’t care if they like the people I hang out with. I don’t care if they like my tattoos, or my bald head, or the style of facial hair I choose to wear on a particular day of the week.
I don’t care if they like the way I dress or the fact that I am a geek. I don’t care if they like my shoes or my house or the style of glasses sitting on the bridge of my nose.
BUT…. I do care how people see me as a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m glad that people think I’m weird because I don’t like a lot of the things in this world.
- I’m not crazy about material possessions; I have better things to do with my money than to “own stuff”. I have nothing against you owning stuff, and I’ve owned my share of stuff, but I don’t need it just for the sake of having it. If it doesn’t have a purpose in causing happiness or helping others come to know Christ or if I can’t share it with others, then I don’t need it.
- I don’t like sin, but I don’t judge others for their sin. That is not my job, it is God’s. And if I choose to have friends who “look like sinners”, it’s because I care about them and want them to know Christ through knowing me. The apostle Paul said: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” I don’t like the fact that, as the church, we have somehow gotten the idea that being a Christian means being offended by everything. We are so busy criticizing everyone around us that we forget to love them. When Jesus told us to “Go…” He didn’t mean to “Go be offended by everything!” His Great Commission was to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” His greatest commandment was to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” He said the second greatest commandment was to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” I know God hates sin and we should hate sin, too… but I have never read any teaching of Christ that says we should hate the sinner! On the contrary, we are supposed to love people and teach them about the love of God and the good news of Jesus Christ.
- A lot of the Christians I know think I’m nuts. But I have to say: There is a mile-wide gap between “knowing Jesus Christ is your savior” and “knowing Him as Lord”. Dr. Randy Davis was able to articulate this in a way I had never quite heard before when he said QUOTE: “The ‘lordship’ of Jesus Christ is different than knowing Him as your Savior. When you know Christ as ‘Lord’ then things in your life are different and you live your life for Him.” END QUOTE I know that the act of doing good things does not get you into heaven, but I believe that there should be evidence of your salvation through the way you live your life. If we are living the same way the rest of the world lives, then we are missing the boat. I think that’s what Christ meant when he said “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
- “Holier than thou” isn’t a bad thing… it just depends on how it is presented to the world. If it is a mean-spirited and judgmental attitude towards others then it is wrong. But If it is offering our lives through obedience to the will of God, then it is absolutely right! Being righteous by its true definition is a good thing; being SELF-righteous is a bad thing. Being holy is a good thing when it means setting yourself apart as a holy, living sacrifice to God. Turning that into judgmental self-righteousness is wrong. If I may be so bold, this is what keeps millions of people from coming to know Christ… the self-righteous attitude of many Christians sitting in church pews who have somehow gotten it wrong. Condemning people to hell is not the same thing as loving them to Christ.
- Worship doesn’t sanctify your life; your life sanctifies your worship. Sanctify (v) – To make holy; purify. A buddy of mine, Rob Harris, preached a sermon on this topic years ago and I have never forgotten it. One of the best sermons I’ve ever heard. The fact that you attend church on Sunday doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. If you go to church on Sunday with the idea that it sanctifies the rest of your week then you’ve got it backwards. Instead, the way you live your life all week long makes your worship on Sundays pleasing to God… not the other way around. If you live a sinful life all week, then you go to church on Sunday hoping to make it right, I think God knows better. It’s called hypocrisy and is another thing that keeps people from coming to church.
Well, that is the longest rant I’ve had a quite some time. I just had to get some things off my chest that have really been bothering me lately. I know a lot of people, myself included, who have gotten mixed up over the years. But if we boil it all down, Christ said to “GO” and to “LOVE”. He wants us to care about people, not to hate them. Hate the sin, love the sinner. And understand that “we are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God.” I wish my church had a big, fat banner outside that said “SINNERS WELCOME”. Maybe I’ll suggest that at the next board meeting to see how it goes.
Thought I would showcase some of the materials from a rebranding effort on behalf of Relevant Hope. I’m pleased with the logo design, photos, and design of the materials. I hope it serves them well because they are on the front lines; literally helping people who people choose not to see. Great people doing great work!
Pencil portrait I recently finished for an auction. This is just an example of the type of portrait that will be done when someone wins the bid.
Sleet, ice, and snow mixture about 5 to 6 inches deep on my deck this afternoon. This little beauty came for food at our feeder. Click on the image to see the high-res file.
Just thinking today that I love portraiture more than any other subject in photography. There is just something magical about the photo that captures a part of the soul. Of all the photos I’ve shot over my career as a commercial photographer, portraits are my favorite and this is one of my all time favorites because it is a hyper-real glimpse into the soul of a man and it has made a great impact on a lot of people. This is the first and only time many people have looked into the eyes of a homeless man (a man without a home). I spent several days with this dude and would voluntarily spend more time with him than most people I know. Three days and multiple visits with him changed the way I view people as a whole… People are people first and their circumstances, second. (Thanks Tree Smith and Jimmy Turner for that!)
In one of the photos I shot of smoke, I see a bent and crooked old man… his head bowed in despair. Click on the image to see the high-res version.
I shot on the set of the television show “Vanderbilt MD’s” almost a year ago. I spent 4 days at Vanderbilt hospital shooting episodic and promo shots for USA Network. The show is finally on the air, and I didn’t even know it until I was having a casual conversation and it was mentioned. It was an incredible experience to be on set shooting for the network and then seeing the shots used for the show. Really cool!
I haven’t said much about this, because it bothers me when people put me into a box. I don’t like being labeled as someone with “health issues” because it becomes a focal point of conversation for some people every time they speak to you. People can become a constant reminder of the very problems you try to overcome by reminding you of them every single time they see you.
With that being said, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the notion of “suffering in silence”. Sometimes, it can be as admirable quality when you continue to live in a positive manner despite the troubles you’ve faced. It’s cool sometimes when people say “Wow, I had no idea… you always seem so positive for someone who’s been through all of that.” And, yet, other times I wonder if it is harmful to suffer in silence. Sometimes, I think people need to hear about the problems you are dealing with and the hope you have that gets you through it all.
A little over a month ago, I was driving my daughter to school and myself to work. Somewhere along the way, I remember everything going white, except for a few streaking red lights. The next thing I remember is my daughter saying “What happened?” and as I looked around to see people running at my car, I realized I was off the road. I told my daughter that I wasn’t sure what had happened, and asked if she was okay. Thankfully, she was unharmed. I looked to my left and saw an SUV with the bumper knocked off of it and I saw a telephone pole lying across the road. Then people were asking if we were okay and I noticed that the front end of my truck was all smashed up.
I remember a police officer grilling me about drugs and alcohol. It was roughly 6:45 am and he was asking if I had been drinking (which, obviously, I had not but thought was a funny question). I called and left my wife a voicemail telling her that I had been in an accident. When she arrived, she noticed that I was speaking very slowly as if something were wrong. She took my daughter to school and the police officer came back to talk to me about how “he could have me taken in for a toxicology test” and “he could write this into a traffic citation for driving under the influence of ‘something’ “. He told me he was “going to give me a break” and that I should “consider this a wake-up call”.
Needless to say, I was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, but he obviously thought so. I had a complete work-up at the hospital to determine if I had a stroke, another heart episode, or maybe a seizure, blah, blah, blah… only to find: Nothing. No stroke, no seizure, no heart issue… nothing.
I’ve been here before. Nothing.
I had to go see a neurologist to rule out seizures and he was left scratching his head with no explanation. Given my medical history and the length of time for any doctor to make an accurate diagnosis, “nothing” has become a regular answer that I’ve come to expect until two years ago, when one doctor was finally able to figure it out. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and Hereditary Hemochromatosis. Both are hereditary and both are terrible, but knowing is better than the private hell of not knowing.
I still don’t know what caused the accident and I can’t drive for six months.
So here I am again, at the corner of nothing and something.
Perhaps you are in the same place. Sick of the answer nothing, when you know there is not only something, but a big, hairy, stinking – something.
I guess what I’m getting at but am having a hard time articulating concisely is that, sometimes, keeping things to yourself is the appropriate thing to do but other times it is totally appropriate to let others know of your struggles because you never know who is sharing with you in your self-imposed solitary confinement. There is hope, friends. There truly is a light at the end of the tunnel and it isn’t a train. One day, when this body is dead and wasting away back to the dirt from which it came, I will have a new body free from disease, pain, and sorrow. I am assured of that through the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ, the Great Physician. It is through my faith in Him that this body will be restored.
Do you have that hope? If you don’t, I pray that you are able to find Jesus to be your Savior and the Lord of your life and I ask your forgiveness if my actions have ever caused you to doubt the truth of the Word of God.
As for me, I will continue to laugh with my family and friends about the cards I’ve been dealt. The struggle is still there, and the situation doesn’t change, but the outlook is positive. I give thanks for this amazing life even when it is the constant health issues raise their heads and cry for my attention.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18