Viewing life from behind the lens of a camera is a beautiful thing. I see faces, expressions, moods, and most of all smiles. Some of those smiles are genuine but for the most part they are the standard “smile for the camera kind.” That’s not what my heart as a photographer is trying to capture. I’m after the moments. Moments that bring a twinkle to the eye of a child. Moments filled with laughter that brings squinty eyes and puffy cheeks. The moments that are remembered as “life.” One day, so unexpectedly, God brought me one of these moments………the kind that change everything about the view from behind the lens.
Last Christmas I was doing my very best to put on a happy face and just make it through the holiday. My heart just wasn’t in it. It would be my first Christmas with one of my children missing from all the fun and laughter of our family holiday traditions. My son was deployed to Kuwait, and the closer I came to Christmas the more the tears flowed. That is, until God placed the most precious little face in front of my camera.
Late one evening I was trying to pass some time away scanning through Facebook. I’d spent the previous days getting care packages together for my son and all the ones in his troop in Kuwait. My heart was sad just seeing the boxes addressed and stacked up waiting for shipment. The reality was beginning to sink in. He won’t be home for Christmas. I scrolled by a post from a Mom who wanted so much to be able to have Christmas pictures made with her children. I knew this young Mom and her children. She had a young son, and twins, a boy and girl, who had just turned two in September. I didn’t understand the “why” of God impressing on my heart that I must respond to her message. After all, I was so busy trying to hurry Christmas along. It hurt too much to give my mind time to think about my son and his buddies putting up that little plastic Christmas tree. However, God was insistent. I was not going to be able to just scroll on past this. I knew in my heart I had seen it for a very special reason.
I sent a reply message and within days my house was a whirling, dancing, jumping place that literally got turned upside down. Little voices of laughter and squeals added with words like, “please don’t pull the tree over on our heads” and many pleas from this exhausted Mommy saying, “Please just sit still and smile for Miss Lisa.” Smiles came eventually, but it wasn’t the smiles that made this such a life changing experience, it was the moments that were captured for this Mom, her children, and the rest of her family and friends. You see, as the flashes were flashing and the memory card was filling up with hands waving in the air, faces turning in a blur, Heaven’s clock was ticking. No one knew. Not her mom, her nurse, her brothers, only God knew there would only be 25 more days.
Christmas passed and the trees were all put away. The lights had come down and the New Years Eve buzz was closing in. The only exciting thing I was thinking about for the New Year was my son coming home in 2013. I prayed God would continue to watch over him and his comrades and bring them all home safe to their families. Then the call came. Early New Years morning my friend is trying to explain, through a voice filled with pain, she’s gone. The flood of questions comes. “What happened?” “Where are they?” “Oh my God, I’m so very sorry, is there anything at all we can do?” Stunned and shocked I try to explain what my ears have just heard to my husband. As the words leave my mouth, God speaks to my heart so clearly. “I knew she only had 25 more days. I knew today I would be holding this precious child in My arms. I knew, and now you also know the reason I asked you to capture those priceless moments.”
Life through the lens of my camera has never been the same. I don’t aspire to be a photographer shooting the top models on the runway or the lifestyles of the rich and famous. I aspire to be a photographer who captures the moments of life for families, friends, and strangers who soon become friends. I aspire to listen and respond when God places someone in my path who has a need to capture some of life’s moments. After all, He is the only One who knows if they only have 25 more days.
Dedicated to Kailynn Seerra