Doing well and doing good not only go together, but are among the secret ingredients of true joy. Not the joy that comes from graduating from college, landing your first job, getting married, having a child, buying your dream car or home, or retirement. Those things are joyful, but they are also fleeting. Their elation will last for a time and will undoubtedly be interrupted by life’s unfortunate circumstances. However, true joy gives us the strength to look way beyond our circumstances. It is found when we take everything we are given, and multiply it for the glory of God and His creation so that every day is met without expectation and only gratitude.
…true joy gives us the strength to look way beyond our circumstances.
“Okay, I’m sold!” you say. “Where can I get some “true joy?” It starts with the difficulty of letting go, or the “jump” as I like to call it. Like a first attempt at skydiving. Once you leave the plane, you have gotten over the hard part because you really don’t have any choice in the matter after that. Letting go is the key. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of things you think you need. And most of all, letting go of everything we have including our talents, gifts, time, energy, money, resources, etc. Oh, and the most coveted of all, our love. We want so desperately to be loved, but we are so possessive and unwilling to give it up without some sort of fair exchange. Unconditional love is costly, but delivers the greatest return.
Free Falling Drives Passion
During the “free fall” stage, we begin to detect true joy because it inspires unbridled passion. Now, our day’s expectations are shaped by what we can do to positively impact someone or something and not by what we can achieve or get for ourselves. The deep emotional expression of PASSION is activated and gives our life its greatest sense of meaning and significance.
We have become so use to doing things for personal gain. Our culture drives this aim which only leads to empty purpose and obsession, not passion. If you don’t believe this, just ask “really successful” people what they think about that which gave them the success and was the driver of their daily purpose. Then reread this article.
James Dickson spends nearly his whole day serving and protecting people as a first responder in New York City. When he is not doing that, he is serving and protecting people. He explores ways that he can take his love for skydiving and make it more than a personal 10-minute joy. So, he aligned himself with an organization called Friends of Jaclyn which aims to improve the quality of life for children battling brain tumors and pediatric cancer. Through an event he organized, he made 25 jumps in one day while many others jumped to raise awareness and resources for this cause. Risking life for life. Each and every jump lasting far more than the jump itself, but for the lifetime of a dying child.
In a world that achieves new lows every day in its preoccupation with selfishness and hatred, it is great to see others who choose to go high with passion.
While in Central Park, I took this photo called “Prayer In the Park.” I could not help but capture the peace of this man in meditation. Maybe he was praying for a greater purpose, the healing of a loved one, or perhaps the world. Regardless, it is an amazing gift that we can connect with God through prayer.
The Thieves Of Hopelessness And Despair
The thieves of hopelessness and despair exist to breakdown gratitude and faith. Hopelessness operates like a well-planned heist. First, it shuts out the lights so we cannot see or find gratitude. All gratitude including gratitude for the moment we are occupying and gratitude for the moments of joy we already experienced, however few or far we may think they are. It wants complete darkness and control. It fills the dark room with obstacles like self-doubt, anxiety, and a preoccupation with everything that has gone wrong in our lives.
The Crown Jewel: Faith
The final stage of the crime is to run off with the crown jewel, Faith. In the confusion and sadness of the darkness, hopelessness convinces us that God doesn’t exist or if He does, He just doesn’t care. Then faith is ripped from the typically guarded protection of our heart and soul and the thief runs off with the goods.
The Real Thing: Hope
Except, the thief was unaware that the faith he stole was counterfeit. Just like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in France, the real one is often relocated to unknown location. “True” faith cannot be taken from us. God protects and guards it just like His love.
So, when you think your hope has been stolen, remember that hope still remains.
Day In The Life: Food and Restaurant Photographer Cayla Zahoran. Cayla Zahoran is a food photographer who lives and works in New York City. She works with magazines and restaurants, creating appetizing images. You can see more of her work on her website and follow her on Instagram.
God warned us He would place signs in the heavens. It’s ironic that we spend so much time walking around looking down at our phones when the real action is going on in the skies.
“Amy Langley photographed this “angelic” sunrise in Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii on Jan. 13, 2016. A series of spectacular images of the sun were caught on camera this week from New York to Hawaii, with some saying they see angels, doves and crosses. A photograph of Wednesday’s sunrise in Hawaii caught the attention of seasoned photographer Amy Langley from the town of Koloa on the island of Kauai.” read more at wnd.com.
Sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be the exact place at the perfect time to photograph a miracle. Many remember this amazing story of heroism on the part of the pilot and the orderly passengers who didn’t let their panic overtake their desire to assist one another. The individual who captured this moment just happened to be on a ferry not too far from where the plane landed. What could have easily resulted in a bad outcome for anyone that was in the plane’s way on descent, became an opportunity to capture and share God’s grace.
I Took the Iconic ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ Photo
“I was in New York City for business meetings, running around, trying to stay warm. I got on the 3:30 p.m. ferry to New Jersey, sat down and pulled out my iPhone. As the ferry inched toward the aircraft and approached the wing, I snapped the photo above and tweeted it to my 170 followers using TwitPic.” read more at mashable.com
The photo itself, while not a high quality capture, is an amazing site and stirs quite a bit of tension. Feels so out of place. Like a fish out of water; A plane in water just doesn’t feel right…
I went to bed last night and set my alarm for 5:00 am. What was I thinking? I was thinking I was going to get up and photograph the perfect circumstances God had planned and were forecasted for the morning sunrise over New York. Such anticipation for a great moment. Instead, I woke up closer to the sun’s transit overhead and overwhelmed by a sense of failure. Not because I missed the photo op; but because I questioned my own sense of appreciation particularly at the very start of a new year.
I am a photographer. Given a gift from God. The sunrise is also a gift from God. The two were destined to meet this morning but I got in the way. Call it procrastination. Call it fatigue. Call it plain lazy. But it is what it is. I got in the way of an opportunity to bring it all together. Most importantly for the glory of God and for others who may have enjoyed it as well through my gifts. I learned this morning that I need to move out of the way of myself, and follow the instincts and opportunities God puts in front of me – Faithfully.
How To Destroy Procrastination: Dear You Who Doesnt Want to Do that Hard Thing in the New Year (from A Holy Experience)
Dear Lovely You,
Who doesn’t want to do that hard thing in the New Year, who doesn’t want to get on the treadmill, or go for a run, or sort through the closets, or tackle the garage, or the piles of paperwork, or the project that’s hanging over you like a tonne of bricks, or do that big thing that feels like an impossible thing—
Our circumstances are perfect in God’s eyes. Whether they are overwhelmed with trial and uncertainty, or filled with total bliss, they are a part of our plan. Hence, we should approach them with blind faith that God is with us, all the time.
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Capturing God’s greatest creation in the form of spontaneous or anticipated moments produces a perfect exhibition of just how magnificent a creation we are. Candid photographs depict both our vulnerabilities and potential in ways that simply cannot be posed or staged. And when we think no one is watching – God is… So when God blesses a photographer with this opportunity to join Him for a nanosecond of time and the permission to digitally freeze that moment, we are really freezing a moment through God’s eyes, most of which too often go unnoticed in our daily race or are typically too private to witness.
Deeply rooted in this generation’s fascination with the Selfie (which I often call the Selfish-ie), is a desire to capture a self portraiture we want people to believe is spontaneous and expressive when in fact, it produces the contrary. Without He who breathes life into us, we are just dust. Selfies are really Dusties. However, when a photographer seizes these special moments on film (now I’m dating myself!), we have the ultimate depiction of who we really are. And if we set aside privacy, vulnerability, and embarrassment for a moment, we share a very deep attribute of our grand design that has repercussive impact when shared with an audience.
Coney Island Memoirs – People and Their “Natural” Places
There is something to be said about people and the places they gravitate to. Typically, these are places that have a calling on our heart. Whe never really feel quite at home until we get there. Coney Island, New York was such a place for many.
The Island, originally inhabited by the Native American Lenape people, was called Narrioch (meaning of “land without shadows” or “always in light”). So it is no wonder that people who grew up with an affinity for the Island came to LIFE!
Lifestyle and portraiture photographer, John Ferrentino, seeks to uncover a hidden personality in his subjects which, while often casually posed, capture an element of candor and surprise. A great deal of such a composition is the result of finding subjects who feel very much at home in their current environment. As if they fell asleep in their favorite easy chair, leaving themselves unguarded and one with their setting. Simply blending into the fabric of life. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden – not in the shopping mall! That place that God has destined for us where we can fully experience what He has to offer us in this life. Those frequent patrons of Coney Island enjoyed such a resonance and it is with great pleasure that we honor such individuality in this photo collection. The beauty of the individual in their natural habitat or what I call “A Fish In Water.”
JOHN FERRENTINO – Photographer
Having the sensitivity to find beauty in everything that exists is nothing short of a gift from God. The ability to produce compelling, provocative and beautiful images of all that is around us is a true testament to divine guidance.
I see the extraordinary and the uniqueness in each and every one of my subjects. My commitment is to share a poignant moment with a familiar stranger, letting them become the star! But GOD, in them, is the real STAR and now my gift to them now becomes their gift to me. That mutual appreciation and trust I gain from these amazing, sculpted beings is how I see through God’S eyes.