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For the Identity: My WHY Behind my Work

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For the Identity: My WHY Behind my Work

"Reshape the identity of people back to that of their creator, instilling value and hope. "

 

Bringing People Back to Truth 

This is it for me.  This is why I step into the realm of photography time and time again for me, for my children, for my clients.  I want to bring people back to the truth of who they are, their true beauty and amazing awe that makes them exactly who they are created to be.  I want my clients to be able to see themselves, and say yes, this is me, this is my child, and this is the value I hold for my life.  I stand behind advocating rich stories of hope, making extraordinary from the seemingly ordinary.  This is my mission statement and what I do with my work.  But, to go deeper, I advocate for these beautiful stories for the very fact of renewing hope into the lives of my clients, and truly anyone and everyone who may see my work.  I remind each and every person that there is extraordinary resting within the ordinary they claim rests there.  I teach people to hold firm to that which they have planted, and rise up into the bloom set forth in motion.   I want my clients to resonate so strongly with their images that joy spills over, and love resounds in their soul.  Love and gratitude for all that rests within their lives and the season that they are in, messy, broken and all.  For beauty still resides.  And I desire for my work to encourage connection.  Art moves your soul.  When you see something that you are drawn to, you naturally want to be more like it.  And this is what I strive for in my work.  My work resonates the hope of true, strong, valuable identity in Christ and for that hope to draw my clients in to a greater self-esteem and value, and thus moving them to more positive action within the world. 

 I want to remind each and every person that there is extraordinary resting within the ordinary they claim rests there.

Let's talk self-esteem

Goodness friends, is this just me, or does self-esteem affect every single aspect of your life?  I know when depression, self-hatred, anxiety and the doubt creep into my life, I also become self-absorbed, prone to cast people aside, I become more easily angered, and cut off people closest to me.  When I have a false perception of my identity, everything else in my life shifts and my purpose is lacking.  I am doing little or no good to bring hope to those around me and truly my purpose falls void.  But, it is because I am not seeing clearly, my perception is off.  But, when I truly see myself for how the creator God sees me, as holy, righteous, redeemed, valued, worthy, and beautiful.  Well, then things shift for me,  They shift into a place of confidence.  I no longer need to beg for the approval of my husband, my friends, social media, or those around me to lift me up.  I no longer need to rely on my children behaving a certain way in public in order to build me up.  I no longer need to have everything fall the way I want it to in life in order to please myself and lift myself up.  I can be ok with inconvenience.  I can see my children as the joy that they are.  I can see my husband as a delight instead of a servant for my needs.  I can REST in the delights of the Lord, for when our perception is set straight, so is our ability to love and serve others well.  And when our identity is seen for what it truly is, then we are overcome with the purpose set before us.  We can dwell within the value we hold and pass that along to those around us.  Because, more than anything else, I think we are living in a generation that is DESPERATE, I mean DESPERATE for hope.  Desperate to rest at the feet of Jesus.  A generation that is desperate to stop striving and running and going, going, going, and posting, and prepping and mothering and tidying, and baking and dressing for the approval of others, and simply to be seen.  It falls flat and void, and is just plane exhausting. It fails it's desired task of being enough, being worthy and being of value.  So, I am calling it quits.  I am saying, be done with the fame game.  Just let it go, and let's learn to rest in all the creative gifts you personally are given and the AMAZING identity that YOU personally sit within.  Let that be enough, and my goodness, your mindset will change, and your life will be free and full of joy.  

 I no longer need to rely on my children behaving a certain way in public in order to build me up. ...I can be ok with inconvenience

Joy to Fill the Days

And this is what I deeply want for my clients dear friends.  And, you might think I am crazy to put so much expectation on a photo.  But, I can tell you, so much can be pulled from a single photograph.  Feelings, emotions, connection, imagination, documentation, hope, joy, sorrow.  Photographs bring us to a special space.  A space to reflect and sit in whatever emotion it folds for us there.  Maybe it brings healing, maybe it brings hope, maybe it brings reflection or joy.  But truth be told, it brings something.  And there is value in that.  Every life has value, every life has meaning and we are here for way more than self glorification.  So, may we spend our days loving others well and reflecting on the true identity which rests over us.  Let's make more images true to ourselves, true to our identity, true to the hope that rests within us, true to everything good and lovely and beautiful.  I know it sits within you, even if you think you are ordinary, I guarantee there is extraordinary there.  Let me show you. For the identity.  For the love.  For the hope.  For the world.  One clearer fixed identity at a time. 

~Laura 

*If you would like to have your family documented AND help support education costs for boys in need in Rwanda, walking alongside KEFA Project those are happening THIS Sat. Sept. 16th. on our property on the farm! 7:00am, 7:30am and 7:30pm timeslots are still available. If interested 

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Sharing my Story: Laura Duggleby Photography: NW Indiana

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Sharing my Story: Laura Duggleby Photography: NW Indiana

Identity 

Sharing my story always comes back to identity, many times my lack of it, and the growth of finding it, discerning who I am, what I am called to, and learning to accept that, even if I do not always believe the truth that is instilled within it. 

My parents divorced when I was 6 years old, both to somewhat quickly remarry.  It was a beautiful thing/ is a beautiful thing to have so much family, so many people loving and caring for you.   However, it was not without brokenness and questioning of my identity within the process.

I was also a competitive gymnast my entire life growing up.  I practically lived in the gym, loving  my time there.  But being a gymnast stirs up feelings of perfection and unattainable goals as you are always striving and seeking for the very slimly attainable 10.0.  And to mix in my already Type-A, slightly OCD tendencies, I was destined for loads of inadequacies on my end, never feeling like I measured up for the standards I set for myself, for the goals I tried to reach, or the mountains I was trying to overcome. My identity felt like a failure many days, struggling with an eating disorder and trying to fit in despite my overwhelming awkwardness, introversion and severe acne.  The funny thing is that I actually have some amazing memories from this time in my life, as the friends I did have were incredible, I got to train day in and day out in the gym, and I was the weird kid who actually kind of enjoyed school.  So, it wasn't all bad, but when I went to the heart of the matter, I would sink deep into my thoughts and feelings, and feel overwhelmed every time; alone and forgotten, or as if I just didn't fit in.  

mother loving on her children in their home

College Days

From High School I received a scholarship to compete in gymnastics for Ball State University, I met my now husband and truly began to discover the true meaning of grace over my life. I began to see that even though I was still a hot mess most days, it didn't matter, there was purpose for me even still.  As Josh (my now husband) began pursuing me, I was also able to see more of my Heavenly Father pursuing me.  The pursuit of my heart, being seen and heard and loved in radical ways opened my eyes to an entirely new version of life.  Of course, being in love will do that for you, but this was something much deeper, for as Josh was pursuing me, I was also losing my identity of gymnastics, the only thing I had ever known as I underwent 3 surgeries due to injury and was unable to compete my last two years.  I was being stripped of everything I had ever known, and yet it was being replaced with everything I ever wanted to know.  I was learning to accept my messy, my weird, my awkward self and that propelled me to being able to care and love others in a way I had never been able to before.  For, as my identity in Christ grew, as I discovered more of who I am in Him, that I am Chosen, Adopted, Beloved, Redeemed, it led me to be on mission for others, to help them to see this same thing about themselves, and that brought forth some of the greatest joy I have ever known. 

Girl bent forwards showing detail of her hair

Marriage and Loss

2 Weeks after graduation day, I was blessed to be able to walk down the aisle and marry my best friend.  It was the sweetest memory!  Kissing him for the first time, and knowing that I had someone choosing to be by my side was one of the sweetest gifts.  Little did I know how much I would need this sweet gift a few years later. 

January 4, 2014 we lost our first child due to miscarriage.  I thought I was in the blissful days of life, everything going according to "planned", until the unimaginable, uncontrollable happened.  I went numb.  I couldn't leave the house, I felt as if all emotion left my body for quite a long period of time, around 5 months.  I would cry uncontrollably. I couldn't eat, or sleep right.  I was grieving and as we then discovered that I had PCOS and that we would most likely struggle with fertility issues, I felt as if my dream of motherhood was dying.  I had always dreamed of being that mom with a large family and all her kids into sports, driving a large SUV.  The dream was slipping through my fingers, and I was quickly discovering that no amount of planning or working hard could make pregnancy happen.  It was simply out of my control, and this horrified me.  But one evening, as I was sobbing uncontrollably and quite honestly yelling at the Lord in anger, God showed up for me. 

Portrait of girl looking up straight into lens

Stepping into Photography 

That day, the Lord did two things for me. 1. He gave me a name for our lost child, Olivia Grace.  It was a beautiful piece of closure I needed, not to be able to move on, but to be able to breathe enough, to gasp enough air for life to be worth living and fighting for.  I had battled severe depression throughout this time, even planning out suicidal actions, so this was like fresh water washing over me, a new beginning.  The second thing he did, was whisper to my heart that I needed to get a DSLR camera and start trying to learn photography.  I had always been a photographer at heart, snapping hundreds of photos at every family vacation, getting all the film developed and making crazy scrapbooks from each trip, accompanied by my journal entires along the way.  Processing through writing and images has always been a creative outlet for me.  

But what photography did for me in this season was incredibly healing.  It brought my identity back into the light, both physically and metaphorically.  For, I was able to notice actual physical beams of light shining in our house, and around town.  I became obsessed with looking for and seeing the light.  And as I was coming from the darkest state of my life, this also became incredibly healing for me, as I also began to see the beauty of creation around me.  I began to see hope, to see the beauty within the mess, within the imperfection, within the incontrollable.  And as this began, I became addicted.  I took every online class I could, attended conferences and met as many photographers as I could, to learn and grow and discover this new blooming gift in my life. 

Children playing by tree in yard with sunset, backlit

Discovering my Calling

And as seasons turned and I grew and developed as an artist, I also began to discover the type of images I was drawn into taking.  I love images with shadow light play, or strong uses of light.  I love the documentation of real life, messy, just as it is, not posed or perfect.  I am drawn to the connection between people, and the story that comes from each person.  So, about 8 weeks ago, as I was on a plane to TX to be there for a hard time my family was experiencing, God brought words to exactly what my mind and heart had been trying to process and attain.  Advocating rich stories of hope, making extraordinary of the seemingly ordinary.  This was it.  Identity had been brought full circle for me.  And as this dream and vision continued to narrow, I have felt extremely called to advocate for orphan care and providing a home and family for each child in need in the process.  Why?  Identity.  It all comes back to identity for me.  When I come back to knowing that I am seen, and loved, chosen, adopted, and beloved, that I have value and worth, my mission is to share this with others. And who needs this more than  the abandoned, or alone children on the streets around the world?  The children without homes who feel neglected, forgotten, rejected, ugly, and of little or no value.  These are the ones who need it most, and these are the ones I feel called to show up for?  For practically speaking, I feel called to document rich stories of hope right within the families and couples I know and get to come in contact with, while supporting and uplifting people who are helping on the front lines of orphan care, whether that be family reconciliation, or creating family homes in country, or even adoption.  Because here is the thing, if I can be brought from a place of extreme hopelessness and lack of purpose to knowing that I am held in the arms of my loving Father, with rich purpose before me, than I know it can be possible for others as well. So, today I am sharing my story.  

Another thing that has been insanely helpful for me in my life, is remembering that I am not in control, nor do I need to be in control.  Sometimes things happen in this life that are out of our control, and that is ok.  As I sit back and rest in the fact that I do not have it all together and am out of control at some times, that is ok.  Because God is bigger than all of it, and He is in control.  I don't have to do it all, for He already has.  He is enough, and I am enough in Him, just as I am, without doing a single thing.  I will never be enough for the world, and that is ok.  I will never be able to control the people or certain events around me, and that is ok.  Shoot, sometimes, I cannot even control me.  But Jesus is bigger than all of it, and He says He has got it, I can let go of my grip, and trust Him.  I can trust that I am who He says I am, not who I constantly portray myself to be. 

So, this is me, and this is my story. I struggle every day in identity, however, I also have been given the grace to know this life is worth it.  I am worth it.  I am seen and loved, chosen, adopted, beloved, and redeemed and I hope you know this about yourself as well. I am leaning into the hope despite pain and suffering, despite failed expectations or rejections, I am leaning into hope.  No matter where you stand, or how you feel, there can always be hope.  Lean into it today and let it meet you where you are. 

~Laura 

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Chosen; Northwest Indiana Lifestyle Family Photographer

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Chosen; Northwest Indiana Lifestyle Family Photographer

Chosen and Loved

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last."  John 15:16 

Lately I have been so reminded of how I have been chosen, we each have.  And as I reflect in the beauty and peace of this truth, I am reminded that deep down, we each so deeply long to be seen, to be heard, to not be forgotten in this world.  We long to be loved and accepted and CHOSEN. 

Chosen for goodness, 

Chosen for grace, 

Chosen for purpose,

Chosen for calling, 

Chosen for mission, 

Chosen for love, 

Chosen for acceptance, 

Chosen for success, 

Chosen for victory, 

Chosen for value, 

Chosen for identity. 

You, me, together we are by grace CHOSEN.  

And there is no place I would rather be. 

 

Rest Secure

As we are chosen we are also held within the beautiful arms of Christ.  With Him, we are enough.  No need for crazy fame or perfect lives, for we are enough just as we are.  And even through our mistakes and failures (Which believe me, I seem to run to), He still chooses us time and time again.  We can rest secure that He is there and He sees the rejection around us, He hears the lonely cries we desperately weep through in the darkest hours of the night, He knows the despair and failure that runs through our veins.  And yet, He still chooses us.  We are still enough.  We still have value and purpose.  Because the fact of the matter is that as we surrender ourselves to Him, it is not really us working anymore, but rather Him through us. He is alone our source of strength and wisdom and satisfaction.  And that for me is incredibly freeing.  I may fail in my own strength, or my own plans, but the Lord has a purpose.  And in that I can rest secure. 

 
 

Truth over Feelings 

So, looking practically into accepting that we are chosen in our lives each day, I try to remember the truths over my feelings.  Feelings can be so misleading  and can simply distract from the call at hand.  Not to say they are not also good for leaning into intuition and seeking fellowship with others, but they can also lead into paths of deep deep destruction of our minds and thus our actions.  So, here are some practical ways to continue to accept the that you are Chosen for such a time as this: 

1. Repeat truths each morning in front of a mirror.  

This may seem a little silly, but guys there is something about speaking truth, OUT LOUD to yourself, in front of a mirror.  I am able to accept it better and hold onto it better throughout the day.  (When I actually do it.  Speaking to myself as well! ) 

2. Surround yourself with good people. 

Good, genuine friends are so key.  Friends that aren't afraid to go into the hard places with you as well as call out the lies you may be telling yourself and speak truth over you,  Let's be honest that there are seasons where the darkness is so dark that we simply are blinded to the truth of the light and need others around us to lift us into the light.  And that is ok.  Keep good people around you and don't be afraid to approach them for help! (And friends, maybe you are like me and genuine friends are hard to come by, because you don't speak easily to people or put yourself out there enough.  But let me say this.  Pray.  Pray that God will bring that person to you and I believe He will answer!  Pray and be available for an answer.) 

3. Write down the times that God has shown up in your life/ He has chosen you! 

When I am feeling incredibly rejected or unwanted, I try to go back to the times when the Lord has shown up in my life. It reminds me of His faithfulness, His goodness, His truth and how He holds firm to His promises. 

4. Advocate for Yourself! 

Be on your knees before the Lord and ask Him to remind you of how you are chosen and what you are chosen for.  Do not give up on yourself or the plans that the Lord has for you.  For He is good, and although our ways are not His ways, He is so so good.  Remember that He wants the best for us and advocate for yourself! 

5. Cling to the Hope of Christ Always.  

Even if you don't feel chosen, remember that Christ was chosen.  He was chosen to come and rescue the world.  He had an incredibly hard task, the hardest asked of any human, and yet His reward was the most beautiful of all; redemption for mankind.  Just because the road is full of rejection and hurt of the world, cling to the hope of Christ. He just may have something far greater than you could ever imagine in store for you.  You are CHOSEN. 

 
 

Adoption Project

Because of this idea: Chosen, my heart is drawn ever so closely to orphans around the world.  My heart bleeds for them, as I feel every child deserves to be Chosen.  Every child deserves a fighting chance to have the best life possible.  I feel I am chosen to advocate these rich stories of hope and bring awareness to others so that it might spur forth change in the lives of others.  There are so many beautiful ways to help orphans around the world.  Maybe it is adoption, or maybe it is supporting an organization that aids in orphan care and family reconciliation.  Maybe it is  aiding in education around the world.  And maybe your call is far beyond orphan care.  But even so, would you partner with me to pray for these children around the world?  Pray that hope might come, that each child in need might be Chosen, taken care of and given a fighting chance at life.  

And even within your own space, how can you bring hope to those who feel forgotten, abandoned, or don't feel chosen?  What is your part?  

 
 

What is your Part?

Would you like to help be a part of reducing poverty around the world while also getting gorgeous images of you and your family?  Would you like to come alongside me and celebrate the beginning of a new school year and education here, by also stepping in and helping a child in need receive education as well?  Let's celebrate education together!!  If this is you, keep a look out on my social media handles as I will be announcing all the details coming VERY soon!!! I cannot wait for you to be a part!! 

Let's each do our one thing, our small part to change the world! 

Places to follow along: 

Thank you so much for following along as I combine family and couples photography with humanitarian efforts around the world!! I am so grateful for this space and for each and every one of you!! So rooting for you friends!! Let me know how I can encourage you on your journey! 

~Laura 

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