Okay, so I'm about to get really vulnerable here...
I've been wanting to create a "Personal" section on my blog here for quite a while and I just haven't gotten around to it...until now, and I really feel like it is the perfect time.
If you're here on my website reading this, you can probably gather that I am a Wedding & Portrait Photographer. For those of you that may not know, I am also a Commercial Photography student at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. I just started my senior year last week. It makes me so sad to think that my time as a student in this breathtaking place will be coming to a close in May. But let's not talk about that right now! ;)
I love Appalachian with all of my heart. I have truly found a home here, not only through the people I have shared living space with over the last few years, but also through the Honors College, study abroad programs, all of my classes, and through the Wesley Foundation.
The Wesley Foundation is the Methodist Ministry on campus. I have been active at Wesley since the first week of my freshman year, which is absolutely crazy to think about...and I get emotional just thinking about the amazing community of people I have there. This year, I am helping with our women's ministry and I will be co-leading a small group every week alongside my dear friend Erica. For that reason, I arrived at Appalachian earlier than usual this year for the Wesley leaders' retreat.
The topic for the ENTIRE three days that we poured ourselves into was basically the fact that our identity is rooted in Christ, and not in anything else that we do. Not in anything else that we do? That is a lot to wrap your head around in three short days before school gets back into full swing. Brad, our campus minister, gave us sheets of paper with scripture to read and questions to answer on our own, then discuss in small groups. Some of the scripture, quotes, and discussion questions really resonated with me, so I want to share them here today.
"The more I read the Bible, the more I felt my comfortable life interrupted. So there I was my senior year of college, still feeling like I had no clue what I'd be doing after I graduated...And the more I read the Scriptures, the more uncertain I became about my plans for the future, or even of the wisdom of making plans in the first place, since God seems to be in the business of messing them up. And folks were asking me what I was going to do when I graduated college." Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution (page 94-95)
"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? -Luke 14:34
The burning question: How have you struggled with discomfort and/or uncertainty regarding vocation? What has our culture told us about our vocation and future plans?
My thoughts: Wow. That is a pretty loaded question. Our culture tells us that faith and belief systems don't matter when it comes to most occupations. A lot of people here are studying things like education, business, psychology...occupations that might incorporate Christian faith "in the right setting." But what about those of us that are Christian, and don't have a Christian workplace, but want to share the love of Christ with others? I always take comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in this. That's one thing that has been on my mind lately. I am not the only college student that has big dreams of pursuing entrepreneurship. I am not the only Christian entrepreneur out there. I am not the only person on this earth that has a heart for Jesus, wants to share it, but doesn't know how to share it through their business and their work. I read the passage from Luke. It seems so funny to compare Christian faith with salt. But salt has flavor. It is representative of usefulness and value. I want to be salty. I want to be full of God-flavors...I want people to see that in me and in my work, and I want other people to want that.
"People always define you by what you do. I started saying, 'I'm not too concerned with what I am going to do. I am more interested in who I am becoming. I want to be a lover of God and people.' I was convinced that what we do is not nearly as important as who we are. The question is not whether you will be a doctor or a lawyer but what kind of doctor or lawyer you will be...' I remembered Mother Teresa saying, 'Do not worry about your career. Concern yourself with your vocation, and that is to be lovers of Jesus.'" Shane Claiborne, Irresistible Revolution (page 95)
The burning question: Have you thought about your vocation (voc same root as in voice) as your calling in God, as who you are becoming? Do you put more value in what you do, or are going to do (occupationally) or in who you are becoming?
My thoughts: THAT QUOTE. Oh my goodness. God placed that quote in my life right when I needed it. Before I go on, I just want to tell you about why all of this resonates with me so much. I absolutely love what I do and I know I chose the right major from the start. However, what I've been running into is that this industry can and will turn me into something that I'm not if I am not careful. It can turn me into someone that craves attention, popularity, and material things, and I know that is not who I am called to be. Honestly, just about any industry can manipulate you if you aren't strong enough to say "That's not who I am." Remember that! Luckily, the Commercial Photography department here at Appalachian seriously feels like family to me. We are all interested in completely different types of photography and have completely different personalities, yet we encourage, inspire, and assist each other constantly. I have also found groups like the Rising Tide Society to lift me up and help me remember that what I do is significant. Because of all of these wonderful connections, I gain strength in knowing that I can fully be myself as a part of the Wedding & Portrait photography industry.
So friends, what I am trying to say with all of this is that you shouldn't be afraid to share the love of Christ with the people around you if you feel called to do so. For me, it has been difficult to figure out how to do that. I will occasionally post a piece of Scripture or a Christian quote on social media, but I have been afraid of diving in too deep for fear of being judged. For fear of losing followers. For fear of losing potential clients. For fear of accidentally offending someone. I just saw a post on Facebook this morning, by Mary Marantz. She and her husband are incredible wedding photographers, and I have had the joy of attending a workshop they hosted. Here is what Mary has to say about FEAR:
"Fear is going to lie to you today and say Don't Move. It's going to tell you that it's safer right where you are, sitting on the sidelines. Make you believe that your place is still somewhere among the shadows. Convince you that it's not quite your turn yet to shine. Fear will lie and tell you that it's just better when you're quiet. That you haven't earned the right yet to make some noise. That you haven't put in enough dues to say out loud that you refuse to play small any longer. Fear will tell you that the world doesn't care what you have to say, so you may as well not say it in the first place. Even though the truth is, your words might just be the very thing this world is waiting on.
Fear is going to lie to you and try to convince you that this place called "there" as in "I'm not there yet" actually exists. Like it's some place you can actually ever get to. Like it won't always be just out of your reach and a fingertip's breath beyond your grasp. It's going to make you think it's an actual place you can find on a map. That it exists somewhere in the cross hair intersection of "waited her turn" and "has now been given permission." But I'm here to tell you, there is no place called "there" and you can spend your whole life waiting on it.
There is no there. There is only right here and right now...and what you choose to do with it."
Doesn't that just make you want to go out and make amazing things happen, and speak what's on your mind?! As another wedding vendor put it, "I would rather be ridiculed before men than denied before my Father!"
Take a look at Justin and Mary's work HERE.
I have been wanting to do a Vendor Spotlight series for quite some time, so I thought I would incorporate my faith into it as well. I decided to create a form for Christian wedding vendors to fill out. Within the first hour of it being live on my site (late at night last weekend), I got several responses. One response was from a wedding vendor I know personally. She left the sweetest, most encouraging note at the end of her form. It was such a small thing, but I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, to the point that I was sitting at my desk at 1 A.M. crying happy tears, so excited for this series, and confident in my choice to pursue this vocation in this occupation.
My goal is not to close myself off to anyone who is not Christian...quite the opposite. I am fascinated by other belief systems and I want to learn about yours if it is different from mine. This has just been pulling at my heart, and I am going to stop fear in its tracks and do what I'm called to do.
If you'd like to follow my Vendor Spotlight series, I would encourage you to check back here to hear from time to time and see who I am lifting up. I'm telling you, these people are AMAZING, and they have such humble and open hearts. Thank you so much for sticking with me and reading this post. It truly comes from the heart and I am so happy to finally have the courage and little nudges I have needed to write about this.
To close this post that I have poured so much of myself into, I will leave you with these words from one of my current favorite worship songs, Simple Gospel by United Pursuit:
Lord, I’ve been told to be ashamed
Lord, I’ve been told I don’t measure up
Lord, I’ve been told I’m not good enough
But you’re here with me
I reach out and you find me in the dust
You say no amount of untruths can separate us
I will rejoice in the simple gospel
I will rejoice in you, Lord
You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kevyndixonphoto.
You can find me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/kevyndixonphoto.
If you are interested in having your own business featured on my blog, you can visit this link to fill out a form: http://www.kevyndixonphoto.com/christian-wedding-vendors-form
If you liked reading this post, you might like to take a look at some of my own wedding work, which is what really fuels my heart. You might like this styled shoot at Ritchie Hill, Christina & CJ's mountain engagement session, or Christina's bridal portraits!
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phillipians 2:1-4