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As you know…

Stealing a phrase from my brother today, as you know Dictionary.com’s word of 2015 was identity. Chosen based on current events and word searches on the site, they list 7 similar, but slightly varied definitions of the word. My favorite: “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.” Interpretation – Be you, not them.

If you extrapolate this definition further, the word condition means: “the state of something, especially with regard to its appearance, quality, or working order.” Further interpretation – Be you, be recognizable in many ways – the way you look, love, feel and create.

Now, my brother would follow as you know with some statement of fact that most people don’t know, the theory of relativity or leverage ratios or some other thing I may have known, but definitely cannot recall post-college and post-children.

Time and children eat brain cells. It’s true. I’m proof.

But from here on out, I will try to follow as you know with things you may actually know.

There are big trends in the goal setting arena to think of one word to define your entire year as well. 2016 is the year of growth, healing, or whatever else you can dream up. Start with this one word and circle chart your goals directly from it to your heart’s content. I can appreciate this singular focus, but one word seems so confining. So, nobody puts baby in a corner.

I can’t even commit to one book to read at a time, much less one word for an entire year. Last Monday I was reading a book about entrepreneurship, Tuesday I was reading about different methods to hem fabric and Wednesday I was watching a podcast on photography. Potential candidates for my word of 2016 would be scattered and sleepless, not exactly big rocks to fill my vessel with.

In search of a little inspiration, the podcast I watched was about defining your photography style. The photographer suggested identifying 3 words to define your style and then, focus on them each time you picked up your camera, set up a photo and edited a photo.

Her 3 words were simple, honest and bright.

I have a wall in our basement with a gallery of images just taped to the wall in the boy’s play area. I stared at it for a while. Surely, I could discern 3 words, but I found it incredibly difficult.

As you know, style is not the subject of what you photograph, write or create; it is the feeling it emotes, the identity it portrays.

Your style is the distinctive manner in which you do something. Ansel Adams & Anne Geddes come to mind as two photographers with very distinctive styles. Certain writers and singers stamp their art with signature elements.

Even though what I enjoy taking pictures of does not define my style, it surely does unintentionally impact it. My boys inspire me most to pick up my camera. And few of my images of them are styled or pre-planned. You know, because I like not to yell at them or bribe them with candy each time my camera is out. The unintentional influence this spur of the moment manner in which I take images means, when I capture them, I capture bright colors, because little boys wear red, blue and green. And, I capture things boys like to do, like fish or play tractors or climb trees.

I of course am not a professional photographer, just as I am not a professional seamstress or writer or maker. But, that doesn’t mean I lack the motivation to create things with great care and great love. God didn’t ask us to be good stewards of our gifts only if we have professional training or a 4 year degree. If we only pursue the talents we possess with economic value, we leave so many shared gifts on the table.

As I stand in front of my little wall of photos and look at my little muses, my chest does puff with pride. Not because the images are amazing or my style is completely cohesive or honed, but because my little people make my heart want to explode with love. And, the thought that our Father in heaven feels that same way about us inspires me even more.

He thinks we are as radically awesome as I think my perfectly flawed little people are.

I may not have the hairs on their heads numbered, but I can tell you that Jonah has the faintest of birthmarks on his left middle finger. Jamison is easy and sweet with a compliment or empathetic word. And Jack, he challenges me in the most intense ways. He is sensitive and clever and has a sweet tooth like his mama. All radically different. All radically awesome.

So what’s my style? My style looks like a mama who is wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s a style that whispers I captured that 10 minutes of the day in which you were loving on your brother, instead of yelling at him. It’s colorful and organic.

But, it is mine, part of my identity.
And, they are mine, seeking their own identities.
And, we are His, created in His image and eternally grateful for His identity. An identity that is known by love and full of grace and truth.

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