it all started at the beginning of 2011. i downloaded an app called instagram to my iphone 3g (ha!) because it was in the top free app purchases. i thought, hey, why not? i take a picture, put something called a "filter" on it, and share it for the world to see. simple enough.

i posted this picture the day i downloaded it. (in my defense, i was feeling super awesome because i had just purchased my first chanel product, which was probably my last because their bags cost more than i make in a month). at the start of that summer, i started posting more frequently and by the end of 2011, i had a full blown addiction to instagram. as you can tell by these pictures and my feed, i'm a nature girl.

over the span of two years, i have been introduced to so many incredible people through the world of instagram. the funny part is, i have never actually met these people in person. some are from across the globe; others live within hours of me in my wonderful home state. i love how God uses an iphone app to connect me to people who inspire and challenge me in my life, faith, and photography. it's so crazy to see how cell phones have evolved. i remember my pink razr flip phone and thinking how cool it was to have a camera on my cell phone, man. and now look at them! i truly think iphone photography is an art itself. i spend a ridiculous amount of my free time taking pictures and editing. some people say i am meticulous or obsessed, but it's just pure passion that drives and motivates me to create.

on the way home from church on sunday, i decided to check instagram. i noticed a ridiculous amount of likes and comments and new followers. i didn't think much of it and continued to scroll through the pictures. then my heart stopped.

OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH. that's all i could say. my parents were looking at me like i had five heads.

instagram features nine of their favorite photos each week, and to my complete surprise, they picked one of mine. OHHH. MYYY. GOSHHH. i was so humbled and thankful and could only voice three words. you guessed it: OH MY GOSH. for some people, this may not be a big deal. but for me, it's the equivalent of a songwriter winning a grammy or a football player winning MVP. photography is part of who i am. i take my phone with me everywhere, but not because i can't live without it. my passion for visual art in the form of a photograph bursts out of me like a firework. i don't take pictures for other people's approval or likes or praise. even if my work is never seen again, i will not stop exploring His creation because that is how i praise my Heavenly Father. it's not for me; it's for His glory.

after the shock wore off, i put my phone away and journaled this prayer: God, wow. just wow. this is all You, and i will not take credit. You gave me the gift of capturing Your beauty in this broken world. i am humbled and grateful. while this is so totally awesome, all the accolades in the world can't compare to Your love because that is what excites me, sustains me, and fulfills me. may others see Your beauty in my pictures, Your love in my words and actions, and Your Light in my life. thank You so much. i love You. amen.

His love is so wide and deep and overwhelming.
i often reflect on the times my faith was tested or the moments i ran from Him or when i wondered if He heard my cries for help.

He was refining my faith through the fire.
He welcomed me back with open arms.
He was there the whole time.

i have found that in all circumstances, whether the highest of highs or the lowest of lows, He is worthy to be praised. when i am basking in His light, He is good. and when i am struggling to find Him in the darkness, He is still good. every test and trial has brought me to His feet, but so has every blessing and victory. i read this line from charles spurgeon's morning and evening devotion book and it is so on point:
"there must be shadows in the picture to bring out the beauty of the light."


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