Today I had an opportunity to give a gift, and it didn’t cost me anything in a material sense.  Did that make it not a gift?

So, I am thinking about this whole giving thing.

I have a quasi-talent  and passion for taking photographs.  Oh, now there’s a humble statement!  Let me rephrase that:  God has provided me with some equipment, an interest, and the opportunity to be better than I once was at photography.  

Several years ago, as Andy and I were on a walk we talked of my desire to cultivate this passion and make it better.  But I didn’t really think I wanted to become a professional (which is good, because my abilities are far from the levels I expect from a professional, although once in a while I hit the nail on the head in a way that gives me encouragement.)  But I digress.  The point is, one of the things we talked about that day was using the development of this skill so that people we knew were struggling could have access to nice photos done on location.  Specifically we were thinking of single mothers, low-paid or out-of-a-job workers and others who just don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on photos but would love to preserve a glimpse of their families.  This was the planning/goal setting part of proactivity.

It made us happy that day to think that there was a way we could bring a bit of joy into their lives while developing something I have a passion for, and not having to go into business.  I can give/share with others.  It takes some time, but all the supplies are things I have already, and they are not consumables.  And I get to do something that I love.

Sometimes people ask me to take their family photos and insist on paying me for the use of this talent, although I do not think I am at the level that deserves to be paid.  That is fun, and gives me a bit of encouragement.

But the really special times are when I see someone at church and know they are faced with a situation that would make a family photo shoot off the radar screen for them.  I approach them, tell them the truth – I am practicing my photography and would like to practice on them.  I did this once around Christmas time with the dad of four kids in a family where the wife/mom was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer.  I knew she didn’t have the energy to be taking photos of her kids, and with medical bills, hiring someone to do that would be out of the question.  I gave him a disc and he gave her a Christmas gift in a year they weren’t going to be exchanging gifts.

Did a shoot today with a family where the husband is suddenly and unexpectedly out of work.  And yesterday at church, during offering, I was suddenly compelled to offer it to a single mom of two sitting near me.  In both cases the response from the moms was pure delight – they are so willing.  This is the getting out of myself and passivity and making it happen part of proactivity.

But here’s the thing.  I know the shoot I did today blessed me more than it blessed that family.  I know it did.  I had a chance to practice two particular skills that are part of the photo seminar I’m taking on-line.  I got to be around some of the most well-behaved yet curious children I’ve been around in a long time.  And I got to make some beautiful photos – at least some of the ones I looked at already have that potential.  It is amazing for me to have done that – of course, it doesn’t hurt that this family is stunningly beautiful, and even the 5 month old looked at the camera when I called her name!

So is it really giving?  I don’t know.  To me it seems selfish and self-serving because I get willing subjects for an activity I love.  It is the rewarding part of being proactive about this particular issue.

But you know what is true giving?  All those gifts from God in my daily life that I take for granted so often.  Thinking about gifts makes me think about the need to be grateful for what is provided to me.  So the list continues:

549.  Opportunities to take other people’s photos

550.  Snow on the mountains

551.  Deer in the fields

552.  Provision of enough and not any extra

553.  Community where I know people

554.  Free facial

555.  Sunshine days

556.  Improvement in J’s grades

557.  Daniel’s family over for a visit

558.  Dinner with friends

559.  Crisp mornings for a run

560.  J ran a whole mile even when he thought he couldn’t

561.  Tree cut from the mountains for firewood

562.  Working from home with flexibility – this is a perpetual repeat, but it is so special!

563.  New client and the provision that comes with it.

564.  Mick and Kate – safe people

565.  Happy children to photograph

566.  Beautiful family

567.  Stunning photo-taking weather

568.  Insight into what’s bothering J these days

569.  Hopeful academic progress and goals (and maybe even some motivation)

Categories: proactive, Thankful to God | 2 Comments

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  1. A beautiful list! And I don’t think your *giving* is selfish at all! What a blessing to someone who cannot afford lovely family photos~my family has been blessed in the past with that gift and it is so appreciated. Enjoy your photography!

  2. You always have something worth reading. Yours is one of my favorite blogs! And you’re welcome. I would always want to direct people to someone who shares from a godly perspective!

    Guess what, another way in which you and I are alike. I love to do photography for very reduced rates for the same reasons you mentioned. And I often do it for free for the reasons you mentioned. One day, if ever I get to visit Montana, I’m going to need to come and share a cup of coffee with you I think.

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