Do You Need a Do Over?

About two years ago, I found myself in a place in my life where I was pretty broken and battling some feelings of depression. I kept it to myself and even my closest family had no idea I was feeling this way. I didn't want anyone to know.

During that time, at my place of work there was a spare office that no one was using and so I moved my computer into it without even asking for permission from my management. The reason I did that was because most of the time I was sitting in there fighting back tears. (And losing that battle more often than not.) Occasionally one of my peers would stick their head in and say "Hey what ya doing in here?" to which I would reply "Oh I think I'm getting sick so I'm just doing everyone a favor and separating myself from the group." But the truth was, I didn't want anyone to see me crying. And when it was time for a company meeting, I'd do my best to push all the tears in and put on my best fake smile--holding it as long as possible until I could get back to that office and be alone again.

I needed a Do Over.

And by the grace of God, he gave me one.

I tend to write too much so if anyone reads this and wants to know the rest of my story, please contact me and let's setup a time to chat more. I'd love to meet you and have a heart to heart.

And if you are currently in a place in life right now and YOU need a "Do Over" too, I've got good news...

Here is the Do Over you've been waiting for...

Photo I shot of my pastor, Joby Martin, preaching his guts out at Eleven22 on Easter Sunday.

Photo I shot of my pastor, Joby Martin, preaching his guts out at Eleven22 on Easter Sunday.

You Love Me Through and Through (VIDEO)

In all honesty, this isn't a post I am necessarily eager to share. Everyone is their own worst critic and I don't even like hearing my self sing let alone watching myself sing. But in this last couple years I have been working towards pushing my musical talents further which is something I regrettably neglected for a while. I'm still finding my voice a little bit but slowly and surely I've been gaining some more range and control over it. It's nothing earth shattering compared to some singers out there, but it's mine and it's a talent God has given me and so I want to grow that gift and use it for His glory.

This is a very simple song written by Will Reagan and his band United Pursuit. Only 4 chords and basically two verses. But there is tremendous meaning behind these words that can touch your heart if you've got ears to hear.

The message? God loves you exactly AS you are and exactly WHERE you are. He loves us through all of our junk. Just like any good dad who loves his kids unconditionally. Don't ever let your past mistakes make you feel excluded from God's love. He knows about them and He knows the ones you'll make again in the future, and He loves you anyway. Through and through.

My hope is this blesses you.

Austin + Grace | Riverside Engagement Photographer

I'm starting to feel a little old. I've known Grace since she was just shy of her toddler years. Her two older brothers and I grew up doing all kinds of dumb stuff together. (If you're following along with me on here, one of those brothers is the one who just saved Sunny Clementine out of a hopeless situation a couple months ago. Checkout the story after viewing this!)

Grace is a sweetheart and a total free spirit. I was just meeting Austin for the first time when we did this shoot but right away I could tell he was a good match for her. He was making her giggle and laugh during the whole session. Throughout the shoot I also started to learn more about the tremendous heart he has for God which goes perfectly with the passion Grace has for spreading the love of and compassion of Jesus.

Congratulations to these two. And keep an eye out down the road for their wedding pictures when they tie the knot!

Religion Sets Rules. Jesus Sets Free.

If you were to go around and ask random people on the street to describe what they think it means to be a Christian, there's a good chance that many of their answers would say something like "to be religious." But...if you were to go around asking Christians the very same question, most likely none of them would use the word religious at all. In fact, they may intentionally avoid the word altogether.

So why is that?

The reason is because being a Christian isn't actually about just trying harder to follow all the church rules and be a good person. That is exhausting. Being a Christian is really about just one thing—having a relationship with Jesus. No matter what you have done in your life, good or bad, He just wants you to know Him. Yes the bible has some important instructions on how to live your life that should be taken very seriously, but it also says in Romans 3:23 that no matter how hard you try you will never be able to hit the mark. (ALL have fallen short.)

That's why we don't just need a life coach....we need a savior.

Being a Christian means that you understand this so instead of just trying to work on a religion, you work on a relationship with Jesus. If your identity in Jesus comes first, even if you don't fully understand everything or always get it right, the rest will begin to fall into place. That is why you can be a Christian without being "religious." The bible even says that Peter and John were "ordinary uneducated men" with no special training in the scriptures (Acts 4:13). In other words, they had no religion. They just had Jesus.

An absolutely amazing picture of this was shared by Pastor Joby Martin at Eleven22 this past weekend. The sermon titled "Take Up Your Mat" describes the account of the man who had been disabled for 38 years that Jesus miraculously healed. After healing him, Jesus instructed him to pick up the dirty mat he had been laying on all those years, and carry it with him. When the man was seen by the Pharisees (religious people), instead of being excited by the fact that the man they all knew had been sick and disabled for so long was now suddenly healthy and walking around, they accused him. What did they accuse him of? Breaking a rule. They told him it was unlawful to carry a mat on the Sabbath. They were more concerned about the rules of their religion then they were about the miracle.

If just trying to follow all the church rules is what you think of when you hear the word Christianity, I beg you you to take the 45 minutes and watch this message. It could change your perspective entirely. And it might change your life.