Are you a lifelong learner? Or have you arrived at a point in your life where you feel you've learned all you need to know?
I am a committed lifelong learner. I can say that I don't know it all and I'm very open to growing and learning. I really have to credit Pastor Dan with that as he so often challenges us to be lifelong learners.
I'm always on the lookout for people who share this passion for learning and so I decided to write a series on Lifelong Learners.
And I'm so excited that my first interview is with Iris Nelson. I even had the opportunity to meet her in person when Lori of Lori's Reflections was visiting family in the Phoenix area.
Many of you may know her from her Christian website called Laced with Grace. I am honored and humbled to be one of the monthly writers on this site. Or you may know of Iris from the meme she began on her personal blog Grace Alone.
Iris started Thankful Thursday and I cannot begin to tell you how that has truly helped and blessed me. I am constantly aware of things for which I can be thankful throughout my week since I know I will be writing about it on Thursday. It can really help to change your perspective ...in a positive way.
So, without further ado, let me introduce ...Iris Nelson.
1. Iris, I know that you were born in Germany. Would you mind sharing how you came to the US? Did you have to learn the language, customs, etc?
Yes, Debbie, I was born and raised in Germany (still have my German citizenship as well). Coming to the US I believe truly was a God thing. God placed me here in the Desert to get to know Him. Although I grew up with Christian values, God needed me away from all my family and friends to truly understand what it means to live by grace alone and act upon it.
2. Tell us a bit about your family.
I met my beloved 1983 in Bremerhaven, Germany. He was stationed with the US Army in my home-town. In 1985 our one and only son, Daniel was born on German soil (he has dual citizenship). 1991 was the worst year to date for me personally. In February Daniel and I joined my husband here in Arizona. In March of the same year, my dad passed away after he lost his battle with cancer. I think the worst for me was that I was unable to attend his funeral. But I know that I will see him again in heaven :) - My entire family (mom, sister, niece, nephew etc) live all in Hannover. I wish I could see them more often.
3. Would you share about how you came to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord?
As I mentioned, I grew up in a Christian home (my great-grandfather was a pastor in the Lutheran Church). We went to church every Sunday, and all special church holidays. In my late teens I started to rebel against everything that had to do with faith, church ..My story is like the parable of the prodigal son Jesus talks about in Luke 15. I needed to be away from the comfort of my family to see that I needed Jesus more than anything in my life. I hit rock bottom in 1995. Someone I used to work with invited me to a Christmas Eve service that year. After that service I knew I had to find a church home - and I did. Yes, God took care of me even during my rebellious years - He never let go of me (even though I was unfaithful to Him). He sent people into my life when I needed Him most ...He totally rocks - don't you agree? (btw, yes I do agree)
4. What is your professional background and training? Your work at present?
My professional background is accounting. I still work in the same field, just with different companies.
5. Please share about your love for photography. How did this come about? Do you take classes?
Sadly I have never taken any classes, pretty much self-taught. I do read a lot and look at photos of professional photographers to learn - I am a visual learner ...I always liked photography. I remember getting a camera from my dad in the early 70's. Most of the photos I took early on were from vacation spots in Europe traveling with my parents. When our son was born I took a gazillion photos. But love for it I discovered after our son moved out 2 years ago. My husband and I had to find a hobby we both enjoyed - photography it was. I never thought that I would get this passioned about it. I started with a Sony 'Point-And-Shoot', but upgraded to a Canon last year. Only this year I started to take portrait photos. The funny thing: I am a very shy person. Being shy and directing people to stand where I need them - oh my. Talking about getting totally out of my comfort zone. Another God thing though - He stretches me - He helps me to be confident in what I do. I pray before every session to calm my nerves.
Wow; I don't know about you but I'm so glad that Iris agreed to open her heart and be real. That's another area I'm becoming more passionate about too. So often we look at someone who seems to have it ALL together but the reality is that none of us really do.
It takes courage to step out in faith and get out of our comfort zones. And Iris is ...stepping out in faith!
She's so talented and is depending on the Lord. I encourage you to visit her photography website called Iris Nelson Portraits. And if you live in Arizona, you might consider contacting her for a family or graduation portrait. I had to get that plug in (sorry).
Iris, I'm so proud and thankful to call you a friend. I admire your determination but also how you recognize your dependence upon the Lord. After all, He has gifted you. He will use you for your good and ...His glory!
And thank you for being the first Lifelong Learner interview.
So what do you think of Iris and her photography? I hope to share your comments with Iris to encourage her.