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The Gift of Limitations

“Much of the beauty that arrises in art comes from the struggle an artist wages with his limited medium.” (Henri Matisse)

When the nearly uncontrollable urge to create something new in my space hits me, (as it does every few months…or weeks) I often like to challenge myself to only use what I have. Like everyone, I can succumb to the craving for more stuff, things I don’t actually need at all. One of the ways I combat that is to force myself not to buy anything when I get the itch to rearrange. It is both frustrating and thrilling to have work and rework things until it’s just right. Most of the time I walk away more satisfied than if I had bought something new. It happened just last night with my office space and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. My limitations have the potential to make room for more creativity if I let them. In many ways, confines are where the an artist can find the most inspiration. I never thought of limitations as a gift until a few days ago. I started thinking that maybe the things we feel limit us are actually where our lives and art can be the most authentic and beautiful.

I read this excerpt from A Million Little Ways, my current and favorite read recently, and it just made everything click: “Our limits can be gifts if we let them be. They might show up like failure, season of life, fatigue, disability, grief, burnout. But the limits tell us important things about ourselves. They help us draw lines for margin. They pave the way for vulnerability. They sometimes show us what our passion isn’t. And that can be just as important as knowing what it is. In some cases, our limitations can actually become our inspiration…Befriend narrow limits. Let them be a reminder to you that your work and your art are impossible without divine resources. You can do nothing on your won anyway. Be relieved to shop up with all of your love as well as your ins unity, your skill as well as your fear. Show up in the world and be who you already are. Show up human. Show up authentic. Show up right where you are…”

When I first became pregnant with Eleanora my heart often wondered how having a baby was going to change my business. Will it limit me? Will I still want to work? Will I lose myself, who I was? The answer to those questions turned out to be yesBut that yes turned out differently than I thought. Through the journey of becoming a mother, God has and still is teaching me the gift of limitations. I just didn’t realize it until now. Elle is a gift, undoubtably. She is a treasure just because she is her own unique person that we are entrusted to love and raise. The gift I didn’t expect ended up being the same things I feared. Since Elle was born I have less time, less energy, less clarity of mind, less freedom. I also have more complications, more responsibility, more clutter, more noise, etc…I expected all those things, but what I didn’t see coming was how God was going to give me more trust, more purpose and less doubt and less wasted time. What I thought was going to limit me, well it did, but it also opened me up to a whole new world of beauty and passion. Now I have a new kind of passion for my art and so much more clarity in my heart for what that looks like. I’m embolden to live it out in a greater fullness. God’s grace is amazing. Looking back now, I see how all these things empty me. I have an undeniably adorable and constant reminder that I am not self-sufficient. I need God, every minute of the day! When I view my new life, my new person as a beautiful gift it opens me up to blessings I might have missed. In having less time I have learned to be more efficient. Less clarity and has made me more focused when I need to be. Less freedom made for more saying “yes” to the important things and “no” to the rest. I did lose myself, but I lost a lot of things I needed to let go of anyway.

It was foolish of me to doubt that God couldn’t still use me within the confines of my limitations. If He calls us to do something, He will equip us. I have no doubt that I’m doing exactly what God wants me to do with my life right now. Am I doing it perfectly or to the degree of fullness that He has for me? No, but I’m growing. It is just like me, fully human, not to be able to see what He has ahead. It’s funny to me now that my finite mind wondered how it was all going to work out. My fatigue and seemingly infinite lack is met by His immense power and overwhelming grace. He put the limits in place to show that His strength perfect in weakness. Of course, Elle is just one of the myriad of limitations in my life. Most of them aren’t nearly as sweet and beautiful as her though!

Paul states it perfectly in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

“Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

I don’t know where you are friends, but I hope these thoughts encourage you as they did for me. Jesus accepted the ultimate limitation of existing in human flesh…and He conquered death. I think He can teach me how to find even more beauty within the boundaries He’s given me. I don’t know about you, but that takes a huge weight off my shoulders. Instead of worrying how things are going to ever work out, we can lean on Him and trust that He is the author of our lives. He knows what He’s doing by allowing our limitations. Maybe He just wants to rearrange our lives, like I did my office, to create something more beautiful than before. Often I don’t feel ready or equipped for what is in front of me. But I can rest in the fact that my limitations don’t limit Him. Anything that helps me see more of God and trust Him more deeply, is certainly a gift.

 

Lauren Kinsey - Jenn, I just had to comment on how beautifully written this was and I can speak to God’s plan when he directed me to your blog tonight. After the day (week, month) i’ve had, this is just what I needed to read. Thank you, dear friend, for writing it.

Lauren | Light, Free & Enchanting

I’m not going to lie, it is a little bit sad to watch people grow up. It reminds me of my own age, and makes me wonder why the years go so quickly. I met Lauren and her sweet class just before Jonathan and I got married in 2010. Now she is graduating! It was such an honor to photograph a few portraits of this sweet, gorgeous girl to celebrate this monument in her life. It has made my heart so happy to watch her blossom into the wonderful, free-spirited girl that she is now. I know God will use her in amazing ways as she enters into this new chapter of life.

Mallory & Kevin | Classic & Chic Charleston Wedding

Mallory & Kevin wed on a beautiful New Year’s Eve in one of the most romantic of destinations, Charleston South Carolina. Everything about their details suited them to a T. Their engagement was photographed at the elegant Swan House Mansion in Atlanta, so it made perfect sense for them to have an equally stunning location for their nuptials. They couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day in the South. It was relatively warm for Winter and perfectly sunny. After enjoying time with their friends and bridal party, they had an intimate first look in Charleston’s iconic Battery Park. They chose a palate of grays and neutrals with soft pink to compliment the classic black-tie affair. Lauren from A Fox Event designed luscious peony bouquets that looked stunning with the bridesmaids peplum-waited gowns. Of course Mallory looked effortlessly classic in her lace wedding gown and fur capelet. Of course, what better backdrop than Charleston’s quaint corners and cobblestone streets? After beautiful afternoon trapping along the historic roads, they said their vows in an old, stately church downtown and celebrated until the New Year in a gorgeous ballroom. Leaving in an old 1957 Bentley was the perfect ending to their grand celebration.

Photography – Jennifer Blair | Event Design - A Fox Event  | Videographer - Hart to Heart Media
Wedding Dress - Marisa | Bride’s Shoes - Nina | Fur Capelet - Eliza J
Earrings - Lauderhills Fine Jewelry | Bridesmaids Earrings - J. Crew
Bridesmaids Gowns - JLM Couture | Cake - Wildflour Pastry
Invitations - Wiregrass Weddings | Catering - Country Club of Charleston
Venues – Lowndes GroveTrinity United Methodist Church & Country Club Of Charleston

Jordan Thompson - Jennifer, these are beautiful!! Amazing job!

jennifer blair - Thank you so much Jordan! You are too sweet! I hope you and your little family are doing well! ;)

Charleston Getaway

A little over a month ago our little family took a trip to my beloved city, Charleston. I love when Jonathan and Eleanora get to tag along with me on work trips. Little E did so well while we were out and about. Unless she was hungry, she was an angel! (Besides the tail end of the car rides and sleeping in her travel crib!) Of course I was shooting a good bit of the time, but we were able to explore a bit as well. It was quite rainy and overcast but that is to be expected for the Winter! It is still one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited. The charm is simply unparalleled. Every street holds something beautiful to find. One of my favorite things this trip was one of the walking tours that went over Charleston’s history. It’s fascinating. Oh, and I can’t forget the food! If you have the chance to visit, be sure to go to Poogan’s Porch for delicious southern cooking, Magnolias for fine dining, Kaminsky’s for coffee and dessert and Brasserie Gigi for succulent French cuisine. There are so many other places we tried, but those have been my favorites. I will be sharing more from the stunning New Year’s Eve wedding I shot while in Charleston, but for now, here are some of my favorite nooks from our explorations.