37. ADVOCATE | with Laura Duggleby
This is the extended series of spoken words shared by women around the world who have been selected or interested in sharing their spoken stories and word from God. It's to showcase the power of faith and how God whispered to them and they listened wholeheartedly in His plan.
I read Laura's story through Rising Tide Society "Blog Love Wednesday". I fell in love with her story and how she went through a series of events to start her business in photography. Laura is a photographer and writer, living in new mercies each day with her husband and two small children at her feet. She lives her days simply, soaking in the fresh country air, chasing chickens and ducks, running free in her wide open fields and escaping to adventure lands on sand piles. She loves to soak in all that is before her behind her lens and read a great book while sipping hot tea. She believes in documenting rich stories of hope, making extraordinary from the seemingly ordinary.
Three months ago the Lord showed up in my life, and asked me to begin advocating rich stories of hope for those in my life around me. For you see, it had been becoming more and more aware to me of the lack of hope, the lack of affirmation, the lack of encouragement and adequacy that not only myself, but also people around me felt for themselves. I have always struggled with my identity, suffering through never feeling like I was enough for certain figures in my family, suffering career ending injuries in collegiate gymnastics, struggling through the loss of a child due to miscarriage, and then there is just the day to day walking around with acne, and always being the "awkward" one at social gatherings due to my anxiety and fear of being liked. But as I consistently sought after the Lord, as I got down on my knees and begged the Lord in His mercy to show up for me, my heart began to experience peace, affirmation, for I knew that I was seen, heard, loved and of high value. For even as I was being stripped of everything I had ever known, 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. As I became more confident in the girl that Christ has destined me to be, then I became more confident to also speak life into other women who also desperately need these same words of affirmation.
And so, this for me, is when the Lord kept speaking for me to advocate, advocate, advocate. To stand in the gap for the lost, the unseen, the hurting and the broken, to bring healing and restoration as He has also so graciously poured over my life. For this is not a gift to be taken in and hidden, but rather to be shared, to be passed on so that future generations might flourish, lives might be changed and people might grow in knowledge of the delight the Lord has for them. For this too, is what I am growing in. I am constantly learning and discovering that the Lord delights in me, He is happy with me. And He sees me. There is hope, there is something extraordinary bursting forth from this extraordinary life of mine.
Specifically, as a photographer, I began stepping into a project of photographing and sharing some incredible avenues of orphan care, beginning with adoption stories as a way to affirm, advocate, and say yes to this large, but small asking of the Lord. Was I scared that people wouldn't get it? Yes. Was I scared that it wouldn't work out, or that I was totally not qualified to share these remarkable stories, yes. Was I afraid of not doing them justice or saying something wrong, yes. But you know what? God has just showed up in radical ways over this season! I have met THE most remarkable families. I have been able to bring storytelling and hope into my images and pictures more than I could have ever dreamed, and I have been blessed through it with joy and freedom more than I could have ever imagined. My hope and desire, is that if even one person is changed and blessed by my images and words, than it is forever worth every scent. We need more people advocating for others each day, affirming and lifting each other up to be exactly who they are intended to be, not what the world places over them. May we advocate for others and adopt others into our lives as we know that we are chosen, valued and far deeper loved than we could ever imagine. We are seen and heard. We are called for such a time as this, such a time as now, and I for one am not going to miss it!
More about Laura Duggleby Photography