Jul 12, 2010 - Raw Thoughts    4 Comments

Things to Hold: Things being Held

This week my friend Susanna came to visit me. She finally got to experience all she’d heard about my family and my home life from our time together in Lacoste. Everyone loved her; she loved being here. Plenty of evidence. Some of the most ridiculous Balderdash definitions were concocted while she was here. Some of the most beautiful piano playing circulated in our house.

Susanna’s adventurous spirit and how she encountered my town breathed some fresh life into my world. We must have met at least 5 shop owners downtown and talked to them for a good while. Good people. We bought some¬† batteries for her 35 mm camera and I taught her to use it. Shot a bit with my own. We found a crazy little restaurant hopping with sweet old folks. The Toot-N-Tell.

What a name. I lent Mason my camera and taught him as well. He and Susanna had an awesome mini adventure and scored a free watermelon from some nice folks.

I was thrilled to teach Susanna and Mason what I know about photography. The technical side really isn’t that bad. It’s complicated, sure. But it can be taught. Which is half the battle. Composition and personal aesthetic are important too. But you need to be able to control the camera and use it as a tool in order to produce the outcome you want.

I’ve been photographing for a while now. Since my sophomore year in high school – so that makes five years.

These were taken the summer before I started attending SCAD. (Just developed this week!)

Lately I’ve been pretty honest with myself. Asking some big questions. My conclusions? Well, I don’t have any real answers yet, but I am wondering if photography is it. Sure I can do it pretty well. I’ve latched onto the technical side and made my images my own. I love what I do. But I love so many things. A friend confessed to me recently that she’s never really seen me as a photographer – but as an artist. Others have had similar responses to my honesty. I just don’t know anymore.

And I think that is okay. God knows. And I trust God with all of me, with all I have and am. I’m learning to live with open hands.

My family and I had some pretty intense conversations over lunch. About where I’m going. I’m smack in the middle of my pursuit of a B.F.A. at SCAD in photography. Now would be the most opportune time to explore other majors and make the switch if I’m going to. What would I switch to? I don’t know! I love so many things! I would love to do it all. Really. Right now I have my eyes on Fibers for some reason. Seems to fit with what I value and love to do… only with fabric and all sorts of materials!

Here’s what I do know.

1. I love to make things. Photographs, paintings, stories, books, letters, spontaneous sculptures, gifts, gifts, gifts! I have been making since I was little. I never grew out of it.  And I love to give what I make.

2. I love people. I have found myself again and again uninspired to make anything if it does not involve other people. Someone to impress (a class, a professor, a boss). Someone to give my creations to, made specifically with them in mind. Someone to share my abilities with – to teach what I know and love!

3. I love teaching and helping people. I love teaching my friends how to make books, how to use cameras, how to construct a better sentence, how to color manage photographs in Photoshop, how to solve math problems – anything! People and teaching go hand in hand for me.

4. I prefer to encounter people one-on-one. Groups are not my thing. I’m learning to roll with it, but I much prefer one individual at a time. I do things 100%. All the time. That includes how I relate to people. Small surface area. Really deep.

5. I love stories, and always have. Whether its the personal history laced into a treasure found on the ground or the tales I share with you on my bedroom floor. People and their stories. Strangers and their mystery. Objects and their history. Kids books. Show and tell. I am a show-and-tell kind of person. That’s what the Gospel is! So fitting.

So, yeah. I’m not sure where I’m going. But I’m not afraid, only a bit nervous and antsy at times. God has me. He has my heart completely. He is the ONE. My salvation is secure, and I have my Father to fall in love with for the rest of eternity. He is the Everlasting Father and He is strong – stronger than any of the best relationships I can conjure up (from reality or imagination) here on Earth. He can’t even fit inside my head.

But He can fit inside my heart. Which is nuts. But the Holy Spirit dwells in me, He speaks to me. He is leading me. From inside. How beautiful. All of these elements which I have listed are pieces of who my God made me to be. Who knows what He can do with them as I learn to let the King of the Universe hold all of me – my past, my future, my talents, my weaknesses, my failures, my loves, my pains, my desires, my dreams, my friends, the things I fill my daily life with, my needs, and ME. I do know one thing that will happen there, in His hands. I will never be the same. God likes to make strong trees out of us. Deeply rooted in His love and goodness and knowing who He is and trusting Him to provide for His children. His love! It is marvelous. I am FOUND in Him. The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures, He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures. I will be like Mary, sitting unashamed at His feet. Basking.

I know I’m weak, I know I’m unworthy

to call upon your name

But because of grace, because of Your mercy

I stand here unashamed.

Here I am, at your feet

In my brokenness complete

Here I am, at your feet

In my brokenness complete!*

When was brokenness ever such a glorious thing? I bring nothing besides it. And my God requires nothing more – He has done it all. Jesus, you are so good. You are making my brokenness into something beautiful.**

* Song is “Unashamed” by Starfield. Love it.

** Lots of music references today. “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. You need this one. Go check it out.


  • Dear Rachel,
    I thought I’d pop in and read your blog and as ever, I am delighted with what I read! You would make such a good fibers girl! Really quite excellent. Sometime I’d like to catch up and maybe discuss the possibility of leading a fellowship group with me next year??? just a thought.

    xoxo CBB

  • Caitlin Betsy Bell! Check your email :)

  • You are one of the most wonderful souls I have ever met. Your faith grows my faith and gives me peace.

  • Dear Rachel,
    You are such a beautiful person! I hope you know that without a doubt. Who says you have to stick with one profession, like photography? It’s good to keep your options open and develop as many skills as you can, and somehow they’ll all come together.
    <3 Lane

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