The Return of Reese | Update

A while back Lord’s Lens Photographer, Sheradee Hurst, shared the story of Reese with us. This special little girl has been sick since birth with Chronic Intestinal Psuedo Obstruction, and she has been in and out of the hospital and surgery. The original post which details her story along with gorgeous photos can be found here. Since then Sheradee has had the pleasure of photographing Reese and her family again as they continue to keep hope. We love to share updates of how God is  at work! Here is more from her blog:

This face, this face is in etched in my memory.  Last time Reese made this face at me, she was a skeptical toddler on a rare day outside the hospital.

Now, Reese is a little older, a lot healthier, and still slightly skeptical of my camera.  Reese’s story touched my heart, you can read it and see photos from her first session here.  Reese was born with a serious digestive condition that prevented her from going outside or in public for a long, long time.  Due to hospitalizations and illness, her first photo shoot was around 18 months of age, and we had to stay inside.  Several months ago, she had a really bad scare, one that prompted her usually calm parents to reach out for prayer.  I posted this on my photography Facebook page, and watched an outpouring of prayers for healing.  And now, months later, here she is……feeling fantastic, and well enough to have an outdoor photo session!

I shot a few of the same things from her first shoot so her parents could see how much she’s grown.  Those little hands folded just the same as her chubby baby hands did,

but her velcro shoes have been traded for ballet flats with a sparkly stone.

I asked her mom as we started the shoot if she wanted me to tuck in her little plastic bag.  That bag is how she is here and able to digest food.  I wanted to be sensitive to that.  Her mom replied, “No, she’ll have it for the rest of her life, so let’s leave it outside of her skirt.”  And so we did.  I’ve thought of her mom’s reply several times since the shoot, as we’ve lived through some changes in my family recently.  Who knew that a 3 year old could inspire us to embrace your earthly characteristics, because they are just that…earthly…and Reese is a little bit of Heaven.

The West Institute | Laramie, WY

It is amazing to see how God has been at work with the photos being taken by Lord’s Lens photographers. Individuals and organizations around the country are feeling the LOVE of God as their photographic needs are met free of charge. One such organization is The West Institute in Laramie, WY. Ardent Photography has had the pleasure of working closely with the organization to highlight the amazing things they have going on.

The WEST Institute,was formed in 2010 to provide Biblical Training and life changing community to students in a one-year program. Shepherds Theological Seminary has a teaching site for the students in Laramie and offers a fully accredited Master of Arts in Church Ministry. Students participate in community activities and outdoor adventures designed to help them apply what they learn to their lives. The academic year runs from August – August each year.

Do you feel called to set aside a season of your life to study the Word of God?  Their Master’s program is designed to make this a reality for many who maybe never even considered seminary an option.  No matter what occupation the Lord may call you into your first responsibility will always be the work of His Kingdom.  Why not take a year to better equip yourself as a minister of the Gospel?  Want to find out more information? Check out their website:

Here are some behind the scenes of the program:

People Don’t Talk | Minneapolis, MN

A few weeks back I came across the following blogpost, written by Lord’s Lens photographer Gina Zeidler based out of Minneapolis, MN. The truth, beauty, faith and just raw emotion contained within it just took my breath away. Thought I might share…

People don’t talk about this.

People don’t talk about their failures. (Or if they do there is usually a happy ending with success or insight.)

People don’t talk about how they are unhappy. That their hearts are aching for something more.

People don’t talk about fighting the fight of faith and how hard it can be.

People don’t talk about how they walk through life looking for something. How they don’t feel. How the wish they were something else.

People don’t talk about needing to surrender control.

People don’t talk about how their whole self worth is wrapped up in a computer screen or what they look like in a swimsuit.

People don’t talk about how they deal with the same distractions, temptations, failures over and over. They don’t talk about the ways, they cope with food, excessive t.v. or internet time. Day in and day out they feel completely helpless and frustrated and disappointed with themselves.

Yet these thoughts and feelings are eating each of us alive from inside. Because we think we are alone. We think that we are the only ones that struggle with that specific thing. We question ourselves “Why do I struggle with this? No-one else does.” “Why can’t I just get it together like everyone else”

I am here to talk about the things people don’t talk about.

I am here to put out truth that I am a failure. I deal with these things daily. I have a hard time. I get overwhelmed. I feel useless. I make mistakes. I make the same mistakes over and over.  I can be weak. I get mad at myself because I expect more out of me. I look for my worth on a screen. I often expect perfection. I am prideful. I sometimes choose mindless activities to avoid.

Why I am saying/admitting these faults about me? Why am I being vulnerable (which freaks me out by the way) by sharing my struggles?

Because I want you to know you are not alone.

I want us to stop hiding behind and stuffing this part of us away. I want you to quit beating yourself up thinking that you don’t have it together and that you are a nobody.  To quit thinking that you are too weak, because Suzy Successful pants is doing this better than you or this better than you. I want you to stop going through the motions and being numb.

So today I am going to share how I felt like a failure. I struggled all day with not having a clear focus and I turned to distractions. My biggest distractions. Food and Hulu. I also added stare-at-your-email-and-panic as a distraction today. Instead of choosing to turn to the LORD and asking for help to use the tools that I have. I chose to check-out. I chose to avoid. I chose to remedy the situation with my own will power. Welp, that didn’t work and I just kept getting more and more frustrated. I kept hearing “Gina, you went through this a week ago and now you are dealing with it again, you failure. You are ridiculous” “Gina you just got off an amazing 10 days on the MTH Tour and came home all fired up and look at you falling down already.” “Who is going to listen to you now? You are a disappointment, a joke” I was holding onto guilt and believing these thoughts. Just trying to remedy through with a new piece of jelly gf toast or another episode of Hart of Dixie.

None of these filled me up. NONE. They never will. I was trying to fill a God shaped hole in my heart with things that will never fill that space.

Today wasn’t pretty. Now typically I would want to create a plan to fix this. To make sure it doesn’t happen again. To make sure that I won’t fail. While I will prepare for a successful day tomorrow, I am keeping in hind sight that circumstances WILL come. I will fail. I will fall on my face. I will give in. That is just part of this world.

Yet If it’s for HIS glory? If it brings me to my knees? I want more of it. If it gets my heart in the right place? I will suffer through it. God is sovereign, he has put these circumstances in my path and he can use any of my failure for good. I just need to let go of my pride and surrender.

Now while I know I need to do this. Doing it is harder than it would seem. Here is where I fight. I fight my flesh. This is where for years I thought that these were my true feelings, the part of me that wanted to defy. The part of me that wanted to check out. The part that wanted the quick and easy fill. Now I am aware that this is the very flesh that can ruin me. This part of me I need to give up. That I am a sinner. I need the Lord Everyday. Every moment.

People don’t talk about sin being strong.

People don’t talk about fighting your own flesh.

But I am talking about it. Because it’s truth and a lot of us are in the thick of it. Struggling and feeling extreme guilt that you are choosing Facebook over your kids. Food over intimacy. T.V. over quiet time with the Lord. Money or possessions over peace.

Truth is powerful my friends. Truth can heal wounds, clear the clutter and bring out joy. We are all struggling in someway or another. So, let’s be REAL and share the good, the bad and the ugly. Because someone has been in your shoes. They might just be in your shoes right now. Your truth will encourage another to be more themselves. More like the beautiful person God made them to be.

I want more of this in my life. More of what that really matters.

Let’s talk about what people don’t talk about.

Child Dedications | Lansing, MI

This photo spotlight comes from Lord’s Lens photographer Marvin Hall. Marvin attends Mount Hope Church in Lansing, MI where he is very active in the music and media departments. Every three months they hold a dedication service and Marvin takes photos for the families involved. Families are invited to bring their children up to the front to have them prayed for. They have pastors and elders lay hands on each child and ask for God’s blessing in their lives and pray a hedge of protection around them. After the dedication, each family is invited back to a spot where Marvin has a small studio set up. He is able to take a photo of each child that was dedicated with their mom and dad. If the family wishes he will also take a photo of the entire family. The families contact information and in about two weeks each family is sent a free 4×6 from that session to commemorate their child’s dedication. What an amazing way to share his gift with his brothers and sisters in Christ all while bringing the glory back to God!

Would you love to have someone come to YOUR church and help capture all that God is doing? Be sure to check out our worldwide list of photographers, who are available to document God’s grace free of charge…

On A Local Level | Get Involved

Maybe you came across our site after being recommended to check it out by a friend. Perhaps you were one of the countless photographers Rick and I sent our heart out to asking them to be involved. It may have even been that late night Google search on ‘how to glorify God with photography’ that led you to our page. As Christians, we know better… If you are here it is because God Himself is calling. Making the decision to answer His call is the easy part right? The harder part is knowing HOW to answer His call.

If you have signed up to be a part of our growing directory, that is a great first step and we appreciate you more than you know. With word spreading about The Lord’s Lens, hopefully we will hear that you’ve been contacted to donate your time and services to the most amazing cause. When this happens we would love to hear all about it and of course share your images and God’s glory with the world. I am here to ask you however, what are you going to do UNTIL then? There is where the real power lies. Seek out God at work, find those that are in despair or need help, find a need and be the Lord’s solution. Pray to our mighty God to use you, then wait to see what unfolds…

I think as photographers we always like to the think about the story. The GRAND, once in a lifetime miracle, happening in that exotic place. Wouldn’t  we would all love to be there to document that?  Many of us WILL be contacted for missions, for miracles and to document amazing stories. You should know though that you have an amazing opportunity to begin serving right here and now, in your own neighborhood, in your own church. Let me ask you this: Does your Pastor know you are a professional photographer? Does your church staff know that you can help them with their photographic needs? More importantly does your church FAMILY know that when in need they can call on you at no cost? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then I think we just found your next step…

We challenge you to get involved on your local level ASAP. Think about big picture ideas, brainstorm things your church may need done everyday, anything that will bring God glory! Need some ideas? Here are just a small sampling of things Lord’s Lens photographers around the world are shooting:

Baby Dedications - Get in touch with whoever is in charge of scheduling baby dedications for your congregation. This is an awesome way to document such an important part of each child’s life. Through your photos you can really highlight the parent’s passion for Jesus Christ, along with their dedication to raise their child to be a wonderful Christian!

Baptisms – What a personal, important and GLORIOUS thing to photograph. Such a monumental time in the life of every believer. There is glory to be shown in these photos for sure!

Events – Vacation Bible School, Easter Programs, Shoebox Ministries… so many amazing events for people to show their love for God (and one another). Photos from these events can be powerful, inspiring, convicting and are SO important when sharing what the Lord is doing on a local level.

Head Shots – Seeing a photo of someone helps us to learn who they are and be able to recognize and relate to them. Does your pastor have a professional head shot to use for your church’s website? How about your youth pastor, elders, deacons etc… This can be a really impacting project that can be done in a day!

Family Photo Day – Everyone would like a great portrait of their family. The reality is however that very few families have the means to be able to have professional family portraits taken. Each one of us has the ability to be able to GIVE this special gift to them free of charge. This is a wonderful way to thank them for their dedication to serving the Lord. Consider holding a Church Family Portrait day, it is a lot of fun and you really will touch so many lives!

Church Families in Need – When we are in need we lean on our brothers and sisters in Christ. So often our church family knows so much more about our trials and tribulations than we might share with the outside world. Photos have the power to document a time in a persons life, to bring happiness to someone who might need it or to tell a story that the world needs to hear. What a beautiful gift we can give to those that we love, all for the glory of God!

End Of The Year Slide Shows – What’s going on in your church this year? Baptisms, baby dedications, small groups, picnics, get togethers, mission trips… A photo is worth a thousand words and what better way to show your congregation what everyone has been up to than an end of the year slide show!

Small Group/Ministries – Finding a small group can be an intimidating process. Wouldn’t it be easier if you knew a few smiling faces and had a glimpse into what you might expect when you join?

Services Offered – Our church has a fantastic daycare program, a seminary school and even a separate service for Spanish speaking members. What better way to let people know about all the special things your church has to offer than through pictures

Mission Trips - There is so much that goes into a mission trip. The camaraderie of those that are serving, the work done for the Lord, the reaction from those who receive God’s grace… Documenting a mission and capturing the story behind it is one of the most rewarding things we can do as photographers.

What are you shooting? Have more suggestions on how people can use their photography to help on a local level? We would LOVE to hear about them and share them here on The Lord’s Lens. Please send your suggestions along with photos if possible to