Well, as most of you know, recently I had the amazing opportunity to have my picture taken. With my husband. At the ranch. IN MY WEDDING DRESS!! Most of you know this, because I have since harassed you on Facebook so that you will leave a comment on the blog that has my pictures, which will hopefully enable me to win a very large canvas of one of these pictures. And, quite honestly, more even than the thought of winning, your comments have moved me. Many of you have said that you have never seen anything so beautiful, that you got chills, or even that you were moved to tears. I cannot really take any or the credit for these emotions in you. All of the credit belongs to God.
First of all, I have to thank Aric and Casey Photography. These two are phenomenal. They worked hard, to see my dreams come true. They were moved by the Spirit of God, to have me do things, that I had forgotten were even dreams of mine. And they used their God given talent, to capture His beauty. His creation. His GLORY. Yes, GLORY. His splendor. His amazing gifts to us. And they are so humble about it. They have been given this gift, by God, and they use it for God. I cannot say enough about these two. They love God, they love people, and they love working for God. And, they are absolutely crazy about each other, which is convenient since they are husband and wife. They are truly two people, who shine God’s love, and enjoy showing others the beauty that God has placed in each and every one of us. Amazing. Incredible. Inspiring. That is what they are.
Now, on to what it is that you are really seeing. When you look at these incredible pictures, women, you are seeing exactly what I felt. Our three basic, most innate desires.
1. The desire for a great beauty to unveil.
2. The desire for a great romance.
3. The desire for an irreplaceable role in a great adventure.
When my picture was being taken, that is what I was feeling. I knew that all three of those desires, those God given, God crafted, God placed desires, were being fulfilled. I was completely at peace. Completely content. Completely alive. I could not breathe deep enough. I could not get enough air. I felt more alive, than I have ever felt before. I was free. I didn’t have to strive, I didn’t have to impress, I didn’t have to try. I just was. And, “the glory of God is man fully alive.” What you are seeing in the pictures, is the glory of God, by me, a mere woman, being fully alive. Simply put, because I let God meet my desires. Those that he designed, so that he could meet them.
Ladies, the reason that these pictures move you to tears, or chills, or just raise emotions in you that you cannot begin to describe, is because you are seeing one thing above all else: HOPE. You, without consciously knowing it, are seeing a real live woman, with all of her desires being met. I am not someone in a magazine that you don’t know, and can pretend has a perfect life. One you could never dream of. Many of you know, I have lots of issues of my own. But that doesn’t mean that my gracious Father does not want to meet my desires. When you first saw the pictures, and you lost your breath, you lost it because hope hit you in the chest. For one instant, you believed. If Brooke can have it maybe I can. Maybe all can be well. Maybe I really am beautiful. Maybe I really am irreplaceable. Maybe, just maybe, someone, someday, will love me that way. And longing, intermixed with hope, rose in your hearts, and you were able to put beautiful words to those emotions. But most importantly, truth, if only for an instant was able to rise above the lies. And you could breathe again.
The first time that I saw Aric and Casey Photography’s post, it took my breath away. I saw the hope. The emotions that I felt as I was holding to my husband’s waist for dear life as I was carried across the open field on a horse at sunset came alive again! I felt the hope, the beauty, the romance, the adventure. The feeling that all was well. I felt truth coming alive in me. But then, the lies started to creep back up. And where did they start attacking first? My beauty. I am pretty stable in my romance for the most part, (I did receive a great gift in Dean after all), and in my adventure, my role. My beauty is always where I am attacked first. It is my weakness. So I am scrolling through the pictures, and the hope begins to fade. “I look pregnant. I knew my belly kind of stuck out in the dress, should have been more aware about sucking it in.” These are the terrible lies that began to seep into my mind, and almost instantly steal my hope! My beauty! How dare the enemy of my soul!! But there it was, and even in the midst of all my deepest desires realized, lies. Darkness. I had to fight. It was a terrible thing, to have so quickly stolen. But stolen away it is. And at times, we don’t even fight it. I know that for me, every time I look at a picture of myself that my talented friends have taken, I feel like I am looking at someone else. “Am I really that beautiful?” Not that I am being cocky, or any thing else negative. It is just that, in an instant, the photographer has captured all that I was meant to be. They have captured all the glory, all the beauty, all the value, that God has put inside of me. It is not necessarily my eyes, or even my hair that I love so dearly that is drawing all of us in. It is what Christ has put inside of me, shining out, that draws us in. And in my petty little life, I don’t even stop to recognize it, until it is captured, for all of time, in a picture. Then, I am shocked by it. Awed by it. In disbelief. Could that really be me?
I have the glory of God inside me. I have beauty that he has given. I have a great romance: I am worth fighting for. I have an irreplaceable role. I am necessary.
And yes dear ones, keep the hope alive, for YOU are too.
Maybe you don’t believe in your beauty. Stop and look at the sunset tomorrow then, and then remind yourself, that the creator of that sunset doesn’t even believe it compares to you.
Maybe you don’t believe in your romance. You don’t believe that you are loved. Stop. Listen to the breeze as it whips your hair around your face, and know that the Lover of your soul, is reminding you that you are loved beyond measure.
Maybe you don’t believe you are irreplaceable. Ask your son, or your daughter. Ask the people you work with. Ask your Father. They will tell you. They couldn’t live without you. You are necessary to them.
Please, don’t be like me, and wait for the once a year when you see a picture of yourself that you are not too insecure to trash, to see yourself how God sees you. How friends, and loved ones see you. Stop, and see your own beauty. You are not being conceited. Stop, and see that you are lovable. You are not being too kind to yourself. Stop, and see that you are necessary. You are not thinking too highly of yourself.
In closing, I remember being in Junior High when the movie Runaway Bride came out. When Julia Roberts finally does say “I do” she rides off into the sunset on a horse, in her dress, with her groom. The first time I saw that, something rose up in me, and I wanted to do the very same thing. But life happened. It became silly, and I stuffed that dream. That desire. Until, I was nervously sitting bareback, on a horse, holding tight to my husband, and he was asking “are you ready?” I didn’t know what I was supposed to be ready for. I was supposed to be ready for my dream to come true. I was supposed to be ready for all three desires to be met by one swift ride across an open field in my wedding dress. I was supposed to be ready to be fully alive.
Thank you Jesus, for seeing my heart.
Thank you Jesus, for putting photographers, and dear friends, in my life that love you, and are so talented at capturing your glory in people.
Thank you Jesus, for loving me.
You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are irreplaceable.
Without you, without your heart, we all miss out.
If you want to know where I learned this: Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. Awesome.
Here are a few pictures to soak in. Think about what you see in them. Think about what they speak to your heart: as a woman. Enjoy!