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  • Aloha!!!

    Hi! This is the photography and lifestyle blog of Sheena Bean of Photography In the Light. I am a lifestyle photographer based in Kauai, Hawaii. I moved here with my family in January of 2015. My husband is the youth pastor at Lihue Missionary Church and we are raising three little world changers, Noakea, Banyan, and Avenlea Wren. This is His story, our story, and little snippets of life on a 562 square mile rock in the middle of the Pacific.

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Elizabeth City, North Carolina Maternity Photographer | Esce

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  Did you know that over 30,000 babies are stillborn in the US every year?

Did you know that stillbirth is 10 times more frequent than S.I.D.S.?  Did you know that 90,000 children die annually in the US before

their first birthday?  I didn’t know either, but when my dear friend Heather tragically lost her son at 20 weeks gestation last year, I suddenly

found out first hand how little I knew about infant loss.  As I spent the ensuing months talking to Heather and hearing her recount

the details of her precious son Greyson’s short life and as I watched her deal with the most searing loss a mother can ever experience,

I realized that there must be so many mammas out there who have gone through pregnancy or infant loss and feel like they can’t

talk about it.  To be honest, until it hit so close to home, I never gave much thought to infant loss or the long-lasting effect it

has on mothers and families.  Now that I know, I feel so much better equipped to be able to comfort and connect with mothers and

families who have gone through such a devastating loss.

In the months following Greyson’s death, I watched as Heather grieved and as she found the strength to have joy through the storm.  When she

called me in March and told me that they were pregnant again, I was absolutely elated!!  I had never heard of the term “Rainbow Baby,” but it refers to

the joy of a pregnancy after an infant or child loss – the rainbow after the storm, so to speak.  We did a really fun pregnancy announcement photo shoot

in May and thought it would be fitting to carry the paint and rainbow theme into this photo session as well.

Heather, I am so blessed to call you a friend.  You have shown me what it looks like to go through the deepest darkest valley and to somehow

manage to still be a light even when dark shadows seem to be all around.  I wish that  I had gotten to meet Greyson and see his perfect tiny

features, but I know that one day I am going to meet that sweet guy in heaven and I’m going to rejoice with you when you are reunited with

your son.  It has been such a gift that you have allowed me to walk beside you in this season.  I am so excited for you and your family

as you await the grand entrance of baby #4.  I know he or she is going to be absolutely and utterly loved on by a lot of people – especially

by his…or her…awesome big sisters.  Thank you for being such an honest, transparent, and wonderful friend; love you, mamma!!

October 4, 2014 - 7:34 pm

Whitney - I LOVE these! So fun! And what a beautiful momma! Wow!!

Proverbs 2: Knowledge, Understanding, Discretion, and Wisdom


I’m reading through Proverbs this month and after reading chapter 2 today I found myself a little bit confused by these four words: knowledge, understanding, discretion, and wisdom.  A lot of the time, at least in our modern English, we tend to use them interchangeably.  And, granted, they are synonyms, but a quick dictionary search and some further Bible reading really gave these words and what they imply a new depth and I wanted to share it with you.  I’ll start with these four definitions from Webster’s Dictionary:

Knowledge: acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition

Understanding: mental processes of a person who comprehends; comprehension; personal interpretation

Discretion: (1) the power or right to decide or act according to ones own judgement; freedom of judgement or choice

(2) the quality of being discreet, especially with reference to ones own actions or speech, prudence or decorum

Wisdom: the knowledge or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgement as to action’ sagacity, discernment, or insight

I noticed throughout the verses that God had some really specific things to say about each of these four words and how He wants us to practice them in our lives.  The words are used in varying orders throughout chapter 2 of Proverbs and I found myself wondering how they were related and what their relations meant to me as a Christ-follower.  I put them in the order I did because I think that you have to have the previous one(s) in order to possess the latter.

Beginning with knowledge, we are told a few things in Proverbs 2, namely, that knowledge comes from the mouth of God.  Now, I know there are people alive today who literally hear the audible voice of God.  I wish I could say that I’d had that experience, but I haven’t, as I’m sure many of you can relate.  Since we aren’t all privy to that audible voice, there must be another way to receive knowledge from the mouth of God, and there is – the BIBLE!!!  Of course it’s a “duh” moment, but if we believe that the Bible is the inspired perfect word of God breathed by the Holy Spirit, it needs to be the first place we go when we need knowledge.  I have a tendency to seek out blogs, or the advice of favorite pastors, authors, or friends when I need knowledge about what to do in a given situation, but the Word of God should always be the first place we go when we need knowledge.  Especially as a parent, there are so many times that I find myself scrambling for bits of advice about what to do or what to say when my kids leave me feeling stumped by their behavior.  Instead of running to an online source or calling a friend to vent my frustrations, I need to go back to the source of all knowledge – God’s Word.  I think that knowledge has to come first in the list of those four words, because we can’t have understanding, discretion, or wisdom about anything without first having knowledge of what it is that God has in store for us.

The second word that stood out in Proverbs 2 was “understanding.”  Once we have knowledge of something, especially as it pertains to something that God is calling us to do or who God has created us to be, we have the responsibility to seek a deeper understanding of that truth.  Proverbs 2:3-4 says that we have to”cry aloud for understanding, and look for it as for silver and hidden treasure.”  I really had to ponder these words, because in 2015 in America, we are definitely encouraged to “cry aloud” for riches more than for wisdom.  We live in a culture that glorify’s money, prosperity, and wealth.  Unfortunately, it’s not just the secular world that lauds riches, the American church has increasingly become more and more guilty of seeking wealth and prosperity instead of the wisdom from above.  You don’t have to look very far or very hard in the United States today to find a church (and remember, WE are the church, not the building in which we meet) that has cried louder for wealth and success than for the wisdom that comes from God.  When I survey my own generation and the attitudes I see in my peers, I cannot help but notice a greater desire for the material things of this world than for the imperishable wisdom from God.  If we want understand that comes from God, we have to set aside the desires of this world and “turn our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Heb. 12:12)  Proverbs 2 tells us that understanding, like knowledge, proceeds from the “mouth of God.”  Understanding comes from the same place that knowledge comes from – the Bible.  Verse 11 of chapter 2 also says that understanding will “guard you.”  This sense of guarding is especially necessary as we proceed to the next step – discretion.

Discretion is defined in two ways, and I want to touch on both of them, because they’re both relevant to the topic at hand.  Firstly, discretion is defined as “the power or right to decide or act according to ones own judgement; freedom of judgement or choice.  And, secondly, it is “the quality of being discreet, especially with reference to ones own actions or speech; prudence or decorum.”  Proverbs 2:11 says that discretion will “protect you.”  I really felt like there had to be more to this whole “protect” idea, so I looked up the Hebrew word for protect and it was “shamar” (shaw-mar).  In the original Hebrew that the book of Proverbs was written in, this word means “to hedge about.”  A light bulb went off in my head when I read the word “hedge.”  One of the definitions for hedge says that a hedge is “a barrier or boundary designed to prevent a complete loss.”  This definition paints a really neat image of what purpose discretion can serve in our lives.

Discretion is such a practical thing to possess, and seeing it as a protective hedge around our lives really helped me understand the importance of practicing discretion.  I tend to be the kind of person who is quick to speak, quick to form an opinion on something, and quick to get my point across.  I often speak without giving enough thought to what I am going to say or how what I say is going to be interpreted.  Over the course of the last 3 or 4 months, I have had it pointed out to be by a few honest and faithful friends that it would be profitable for me to give more thought to the words I say and the way that I present myself both in online and “real life” situations.  It’s can be pretty hard to get criticism from friends, but when four different people in three different states randomly tell you they’re noticing the same issue in your live, it’s a good idea to take heed to their words and ask the Lord if He’s trying to tell you something.  As I have prayed about it and asked God to show me how I can be more aware of the words that I use and the way that I use them, I have realized that He is showing me an area of my life that needs to be refined before we move to Hawaii.  Hawaii has a very strong and established Asian culture.  Amongst the many beautiful facets of this culture is a high value on respect, kindness, and a soft-spoken tongue.  Since I have never been described as any of those things, I have a strong feeling that God is trying to show me an area of my life that needs to change if I want to be a teachable and usable reflection of His love in the new place we are going to be living.  I am always so thankful when God loves me enough to prepare me in advance for the jobs that He has destined for me to do.  The word “discretion” might just be the word I have been searching for as I ask God to prepare me for this next season.

Finally, the forth word that God put it on my heart to write about was the word “wisdom.”  If there were one word that is most often used to describe the book of Proverbs as a whole, it’d be this one.  Wisdom is defined as, “the knowledge or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgement as to action.”  Did you catch the last part of that definition?  The part that says that wisdom has to be “coupled with just judgement as to action.”  I love that part!  That’s what wisdom is all about – ACTION!  If our knowledge, understanding, and discernment doesn’t spur us on to action, we’re missing the whole point!  James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”

 Proverbs 2 tells three special things about wisdom: (1) that it comes from God…v.6  (2) that it enters through the heart…v.10  and (3) that it will save your from the ways of wicked men (and women)…v.12 & 16.  The Bible talks about a kind of wisdom that the world offers and says that it is foolishness.  The wisdom from God, however, is pure, peaceful, considerate, submissive, merciful, fruitful, good, and sincere.  Do those 8 words describe the way that you and I act toward others?  Wisdom that spurs us to action must be rooted in love and display the character of God.  When we ask God for wisdom in how to address the many different situations we encounter in our lives, and when we allow that wisdom to enter our hearts and affect the ways that we walk in our day-to-day lives we get to enjoy the promise that God gives us in Proverbs 2:20-21, “Thus you will walk in the ways of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.  For the the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it.”



The Bean Family Chronicles | “The Long Story, or A Kauai Update”

I titled this post “The Long Story,” because a lot of people have been asking us lately what is going on concerning our future plans, and it really is a long story.  I could make it short, I suppose, and maybe I should, just in case you don’t want to read all of this post to find out the ending…..basically, we’re still planning on getting out of the Coast Guard and moving to Kauai in Feb, 2015.  Now…..for the long (Gods-in-the-details) version.

I feel like I should tell the story backwards, mostly because that’s the way it plays out in my head and it’s easier to remember the things that happened most recently.  Two days ago, we received a phone call from Ryan Smith, pastor of Lihue Missionary Church, formally offering Austin the position of Youth Pastor at the church.  We gladly accepted and will be moving, as planned, to Kauai this February.  So many things have had to happen for this whole thing to be possible, and we find ourselves daily in awe and wonder over how great our God is and how He has been so present and purposeful in every step leading up to this point.

One of the biggest things that needed to be secured before we leave the military was the selling of our house, and, praise be to God, we have an offer and are proceeding with the sale.  We don’t know exactly when the closing date on the house will be, but it is looking like it will be just a couple months before we move which works out perfectly.  We have been slowly and steadily liquidating all of our belongings, with the exception of necessary items that we use on a day-to-day basis.  It’s a little bit comical seeing our once nicely curated walls void of any pictures or decorations and a three seater sofa starts feeling pretty small when it’s the only seating in the house for 5 people, but the physical act of seeing all of our belongings leave the front door has been such a great encouragement along the way.  We still have more things that we will need to offload before we leave, but God has been so good to us and has brought buyers for items that we thought would be hard to sell.  He has really gone above and beyond in making it clear to us that this path He has us following is the right one and we are so thankful for that.

The changing of the seasons always seems to bring a sense of urgency to me, and this summer to fall transition is no exception.  As the leaves slowly change colors and the evening temperatures beckon sweaters and socks, I can’t help but reflect on all the amazing ways that God has directed our paths to lead us to this point.  When Austin joined the Coast Guard, we never planned for it to be a longterm career, but the ease and stability the military has offered our family was not an easy thing to think about giving up.  In retrospect, I can’t help but smile at the idea that I ever thought we would be “giving up” something by getting out of the military.  The things that we have gained through this whole process have easily overshadowed anything we have sacrificed.  The feeling of satisfaction and joy that has come with knowing that we are right where God wants us to be and the excitement and expectation of knowing that He is going to use us to share the gospel and the love of Christ as He works through us to changes lives for his kingdom is such a sweet gift He has placed in our hearts.  It is this truth that we hold on to when the reality of all this change starts stirring fear or worry in our hearts.

For us, one of the neatest things about this story has been the way we can look back over the last 10 years and see how God was playing a role, even back then, in what is happening today.  When we moved to Oahu ten years ago, we had no way of knowing that the people we met and places we visited would be the very seeds that would eventually draw us back to the South Pacific.  While living there, we attended New Hope Christian Fellowship, a large “mega-church” that meets in Honolulu (amongst other locations).  In a church body of over 10,000 members, it is easy to feel lost in the mass number of attendees.  By what can only be described in retrospect as the hand of God, we decided to join a small group and from a list of a couple hundred groups, chose the one led by Ryan and Hayley Smith.  Over the course of the 4 years that we lived on Oahu, the Smith family became precious friends to us.  We spent many days and nights enjoying laughter and fellowship with this special family, never knowing how God was planning on using our friendship later on down the road.

When we left Oahu in 2009, we said a teary farewell to so many dear friends and headed to North Carolina with no idea that our return to the islands would be a short 6 years away.  Over the last 6 years that we have been stationed in Elizabeth City, we have gone from being “gung-ho” Coast Guard, to wrestling with the idea of getting out, to absolutely certain that this is the direction that God is leading our family.  Seeing the way He has changed our hearts and, in turn, the desires of our hearts can only be described as super-natural.  Sometimes there is a temptation to focus on all that we are sacrificing to do this, but I know that it’s really quite the opposite, and I want to give God all the glory for what He is doing in our lives.

We are so excited as we begin to get glimpses of what our future holds.  Being able to work with students and the opportunity to serve alongside Christ-filled people like Ryan and Hayley and the rest of the leadership of LMC gives us so much joy and anticipation about what God is going to do in us and through us.  We were greeted with such warmth and enthusiasm when we visited Kauai and LMC back in June, and we can’t wait to be back on the ground in Hawai’i to see what God has in store for us out there!

I end this post with an encouragement….many people have approached us and shared how they wish that they could do something like this, or they have shared big dreams that God has put in their hearts.  I have told those people, as I tell you now, that the God who we serve is the same God yesterday, today, and forever.  He isn’t doing anything in our lives and our hearts that he won’t do in anyone else’s who wholly offers their lives to His purpose.  If God has put big dreams in your heart or if He has been urging you to make drastic changes in your life, don’t be afraid to give Him the wheel and let him start steering the boat.  Is it scary?  Yes.  Are there uncertainties?  Absolutely.  Is it worth it?  For sure.

If you have been praying for our family, we want to thank you.  We have felt the favor of God with such clarity and resolution over the last year and it is due in large part to dear friends and family members lifting us up in prayer before God.  For those of you who have asked for specific ways to pray for us, please pray that God would be preparing a home for us and for wisdom as we try to decide what household goods we want to ship and whether or not we should ship our car.


The Bean Family Chronicles | A Song, Expanded

You call me out upon the waters

When I first heard your call, I shut it out.  There were so many excuses, so many fears, so many reasons for me not to follow.

The great unknown

Oh, how great that big wide unknown seemed to be.  For every question that you answered, I asked a hundred more.

Where feet may fail

“May fail” seemed like the only possible thing that would happen if we dared to obey.  Every construct that we had been taught to build seemed precariously perched on the edge of an abyss.

And there I find you in the mystery

There are you.  In the middle of all the questions, all the fears, all the weapons that seem to be assaulting from all directions.  There you are.  Strong.  Steadfast.  Never changing.  Always there.  Before me.  Beside me.  Behind me.  Beneath me.  In the midst of the mystery.

In oceans deep

You are a deep ocean.  The depths of your love, I try to understand and I keep coming up short.  Deep in love.  Deep in grace.  Deep in mercy.  Deep in purpose.  I find myself deeply in love with You.

My faith will stand

I am able to stand because you are, indeed, deep.  Praise be to You, God, that my ability to fulfill your commission does not depend on my shallow footing to be successful.  You are a deep well and you stir deep things up in me.

I will call upon your name

I have to.  Upon whom else dare I call.  What other name can save?  What other name promises to come through?  What other name has proven itself faithful enough that I can risk it all to follow?

And keep my eyes above the waves

Sometimes it feels like it’s just my eyes above the waves, and that the rest of me is frantically treading water below as the swells threaten to overcome.  And yet, somehow you….yes, you….you keep my eyes above the waves.  When I’ve wanted to retreat.  When i’ve wanted to nix the whole thing and play it safe.  When i’ve wanted to allow the fears and “what-if’s” to talk louder than your promises, YOU, yes YOU, have kept my eyes above the waves.

When oceans rise

Because that’s what they do.  The tides swing.  My faith swings.  Confidence to doubt.  A bell curve that I find myself sliding up and down.  Oh, that I had faith to believe.  To really believe.  And not doubt.  Ever.  Maybe i’m crazy for thinking it’s even possible.  It has to be, though.  You told me not to doubt, that means it’s possible.  I’m trying, God, really.  Thank you for refusing to let me sink.

My soul will rest in your embrace

Yes, rest.  Sweet, soul-reaching rest.  Hallelujah!  How it’s possible amidst this wild ride, I do not begin to understand.  I don’t have to, though.  You’ve promised it, and, boy, have you come through.  When I lie in bed with my mind running in 50 different directions about all the how’s, why’s, when’s, and who’s, all I have to do is call your name and you give me rest.  Yes, rest.  And, even beyond that, you give me peace.  Hope.  Comfort.  Courage.  Faith.  Love.  Need I go on?  You have been, will be, and are a bottomless well of riches that never runs dry.

For I am yours

Why, it almost seems scandalous to say it.  I.  AM.  YOURS.  Certainly not because of anything I have done to merit that title.  Yet, this is the way you’ve always planned it.  All my days, written in your book before I came to be.  Yesterday.  Today.  Tomorrow.  You already know.  And you’ve gone before.  Why?  Because I am yours and you refuse to let me go.  Oh, that I could fathom the depth and breadth of those three words.  Who I am in you.

And you are mine

And it is this truth that is the genesis of this whole thing.  You in me.  I in you.  Without you I can do nothing.  With you, i’ll never fail.  So what am I left to do but obey.  Where you say “go,” I go.  Before me.  Behind me.  Below me.  Above me.  Everywhere.  All the time.  Never changing.  Always listening.  Seeing all.  Knowing all.  Worth it all.  WORTH IT ALL.

September 25, 2014 - 1:56 am

Laura S - I love you all

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