Part 4 of my story


I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

I will now continue my story–a story that I hope will inspire you to know that it’s possible to build a confident life, despite struggles. We left off at the story about my husband Wes and the amazing support he has been to me for the past 54 years.

In 1969, a few months after Wes and I came back from our honeymoon, we joined the 65-member Lions Gate Camera Club. It soon became a big part of our life together. We learned how to create good photographs from other members, as well as accomplished photographers who came as guests. I came to love the creative outlet it gave me and worked hard to make the best pictures I could.

Wes and I spent many of our years together searching for good places to photograph—from our own garden to city parks, to national parks, and even to countries abroad. Our focus was always on finding good things to take pictures of. Bringing back good images gave us something to share with others at the club.

Photography was a way of expressing what was inside me. It encouraged me to look out at the world around me and appreciate the things I saw in a way I wouldn’t have if I weren’t always looking for the “perfect” picture. Young children were my favourite subjects. It gave me joy to follow children around and capture pictures of them being themselves.

The club was a place where I could share with others in the love of the hobby. It was a good social outlet. I always had people with whom I could join in conversation about our common interest. When I had an award-winning picture I received praise that made me feel good about myself.

During my first fifteen years at the club, I still suffered much from my mental condition. I was still on the one medication the hospital had prescribed for me, not yet taking the more effective medications that had been developed. It was sometimes obvious that I had mental health challenges. Despite that, I found myself fitting in quite well. I was as one with them.

In later years, I did some professional photography—freelancing for the Burnaby Now community newspaper for a couple of years. I was commissioned at times to do candid photography of young children in their home environment. I had one-person gallery showings. Most of the work I did had a focus on people, probably my most favorite theme ever.

When my mobility issues made it hard to get down to the low level needed to best photograph small children, I started photographing the flowers we brought into our home. I loved to keep an eye on the oft-changing sky and catch the interesting things that developed there—a place where too many people forget to look.

When we look back at the three people we talked about earlier—the emergency room doctor, the psychiatrist in the hospital, and Wes, my husband—I pointed out how instrumental they were in helping me build my confidence. But, as you can see in the story I’ve told you here, we don’t have to wait for such support to enter our lives.

Building self-esteem and confidence depends to a large degree on ourselves and the lives we build for ourselves. There are so many choices of creative outlets in the world. Don’t hesitate to try things, even if they seem difficult at first. With time, you might develop skills that you might at one time not have thought possible.

I gained an interest in something that I enjoyed so much that I wanted to work hard to do well at it. This did a great deal to develop a positive self-image in me.

You should note how I started out very small. I took dozens of pictures of ducks at Stanley Park as I learned to use my camera and before I discovered the kinds of subjects that later became my favorites. I used many rolls of film before my pictures started showing promise.

Rudyard Kipling’s words frequently came to mind:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim.

Remembering those lines motivated me to get out of my chair and take action. Doing so paid off in so many ways, giving me joy and satisfaction. Besides photography, I ended up taking on a lot of different creative projects that made me feel fulfilled. In many cases the work I did ended up serving God in some way.

It should be noted that although doing well will help give us a positive view of ourselves, the Bible teaches us to be humble, not proud of our accomplishments. It’s important to realize that it’s only through God and the gifts he bestows on us that the good work we do is possible.

Do you feel God encouraging you to try something new? Listen to him, because you know he cares and would like you to find fulfillment.

In my next mailing to you, I’m going to interject a devotional I first wrote in 2018. Some of you may have read Don’t Just Think About It, but it bears repeating.