Category Archives: Uncategorized

Serve #25 – Kevin & Natasha L.

Serve25_Final

Serve#25

I have tried to figure out how to best write this Serve and I must say that I have been totally stumped. The reason, I think, is I did not want to point out the difficulties that are found on the Nett Lake Ojibwe Reservation, near Nett Lake, MN. As I thought about it more, I realized that nowhere in the world is there a people group without difficulties. So without dwelling on the difficulties, I choose to dwell on the hope and light Kevin and Natasha Land along with three children bring to the people of Nett Lake. I met the Lands in 2016 while on a mission trip with my church NorthRidge Fellowship. I was blown away by how they live out being a light and hope for the men, women, and children of Nett Lake on a day to day basis as they live and make their home on the reservation and serve in the local church. The story does not stop there; Kevin and Natasha are bus drivers if needed, life counselors, Vacation Bible School teachers, worship leaders, but more than that they are friends to the Nett Lake Ojibwe. As I spent time with Kevin and Natasha I knew they were woven into the lives of the people by how they spoke of the community. The love for the people of Nett Lake is in the DNA of this wonderful couple and their children; it is seen in their actions, and heard their words. Kevin and Natasha are people to admire for their dedication and ministry approach to the Ojibwe/native culture.

When I meet people like the Lands I am humbled. Not humbled by their greatness, but humbled by their humbleness and their willingness to serve out of a free flowing heart.

May we all add a more hope and a more light to this world which needs it! Thank you Kevin and Natasha.

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

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            “Tell Your Story”

Serve #24 – Rayanne

serve24_round1_lr~ Serve #24 ~

Guest post by Aimee Libby

Kids these days…”

That’s a familiar phrase we often hear with not-so-great connotations. Well, I’d like to tell you about a particular “kid” who’s breaking the stereotype of this younger generation.

Meet Rayanne.

Rayanne always has a smile on her face. She’s a high school student. She loves music. She loves people. She has a quiet, servant’s heart. How do I know Rayanne, you ask? It’s an interesting story, actually.

A little over a year ago, I was helping put on our annual Ogni Voce special needs choir performance in conjunction with the STMA Stallions Special Olympics team. Rayanne showed up that chilly winter night with several other students who were told they’d receive extra credit for choir class if they stopped in to hang out and sing with our Special Olympics group. Seemed like an easy way to get extra credit, right? Later that night, as Head of Delegation for our STMA Stallions Special Olympics team, I received an email from Rayanne saying how much fun she had with our group. She wanted to know what else our group did and how she could get involved. There was a lot going on and I hadn’t really even met Rayanne that evening, so I couldn’t put a face with a name. Honestly, my first thought upon reading her email was, “Sure, we’ll see how this plays out – probably another teen who’s ‘interested’ but never follows through”. By noon the next day, Rayanne had submitted all of the necessary paperwork and completed the required online certification to become a volunteer coach with our STMA Stallions Special Olympics team. She was at the next team practice with a big smile on her face, ready to assist wherever needed.

Now, some of you are probably reading this and are thinking, “Hmmm, so…big deal. A kid came to something for extra credit – what makes them ‘so great’ for doing that?” What makes Rayanne so great and such an asset to our group is this: She’s always there. She shows up week in and week out. She shows up at all of our team’s competitions and tournaments. She shows up at all of our social/community events. She even checks in regularly with me so she can make sure to align her work schedule with our team’s calendar. She connects with me ahead of events/outings to see where I need her to help out. She eagerly shows up bright and early on a Saturday morning, hours before any other teenager would rollout of bed, so she can support and cheer on an athlete one-on-one for a competition. She’s something that so many people in our day and age, both kids and adults, lack – she’s consistent.

Not only is Rayanne consistent with our group, she continually demonstrates her dedication and heart for our Stallions athletes outside of what is truly expected. Shortly after getting involved with our team, Rayanne started volunteering regularly in the special education classroom at STMA High School where many of our Stallions athletes attend. The high school special education staff adores her and are so impressed by her genuine desire to meet each kid where they’re at. Rayanne is constantly seeking out ways to include and embrace the athletes within the school setting. Anytime I stop in at STMA High School and see Rayanne in the halls or at a school pepfest, she’s hanging out with a Stallions athlete…as friends, not because she has to. There’s no obligation beyond weekly practices for our Stallions coaches, but that doesn’t matter to Rayanne. Her heart shines through the most in settings outside of our regularly scheduled team practices.

By now, it’s probably pretty obvious that I’m a “fan” of Rayanne, but, I have kind of a unique perspective on all of this above and beyond what I’ve shared already. Yes, I’m the Head of Delegation for the Stallions Special Olympics group, and volunteers like Rayanne are invaluable to our team – we wouldn’t exist without them. But, I’m also a parent of an almost-13-year-old Stallions athlete. This perspective is the one that’s the most important in my opinion. I can honestly say, seeing Rayanne with our Stallions athletes puts a lump in my throat and makes my eyes “sweat”. In a world that typically views people’s value and worth by how great their abilities are, Rayanne sees each one of our kids as the unique, joy-filled, perfect individual God designed them to be. She doesn’t get caught up in the often-unpronounceable name of a certain syndrome or disability an athlete may be afflicted with. Nope. All she sees is a person…with personality, incredible abilities, and with so much love and joy to give. That’s all any parent wants. For their child to be seen, valued and loved. Rayanne does that effortlessly, and in the process, blesses so many families within the community.

 

stallions2017_lrAthletes and Coaches

In a world of constant change and uncertainty, our athletes who thrive on routine find comfort and security in knowing they’ll see Rayanne’s smiling face any time they show up to a STMA Stallions event. And that makes all the difference in the world. Her consistency across the board shows athletes and parents alike that she’s the real deal. As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words”. This couldn’t be truer of Rayanne. Her quiet demeanor may not be flashy and scream out to others, but her actions are seen and heard loud and clear.

Rayanne, you’re a one-of-a-kind world changer. Thank you for serving our group in this way. We’re forever grateful for your heart to serve, and that you came out in search of some “extra credit” that brisk winter night.

Thanks for being consistent. No matter what.

 

 

 

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

            “Tell Your Story”

Serve #23 – Landon L.

serve23_finalServe #23

Serve #23 is about a young man named Landon. I’ve known Landon since he was an eight years old and now he’s the ripe old age of seventeen (almost 18). He was a regular cast member along with my daughter, of a local musical theater group, Front Porch Musical Theater. Landon always been a wonderfully polite young man with a chivalrous demeanor; qualities I don’t see often in today’s youth. My story isn’t about that though. It is about his decision to become a part of the Army National Guard, for which he currently holds the rank of Private E2. He is making this decision to prove to himself what he is made of as well as to have the opportunity to figure out how he is supposed to impact the world. Once Landon finishes basic training and additional educational requirements he desires to gain employment in the law enforcement field at the local level, transitioning to a higher government and/or intelligence level, continuing to serve throughout his life.

As we spoke he shared that he also wants to be a role model for others. If a seventeen year old musical theater student can join the army, so can they. He added that whether or not you are joining the ranks of the armed forces or not, there is not a valid excuse for not going after something. His words were, “You are what you allow yourself to be”. Landon also inserted one last encouragement by saying “People need to know that they must work hard for their future”.

Landon I salute your service and am very excited to see what he future holds for you.  May we all follow your lead!

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

            “Tell Your Story”

Serve #22 – Tracey T. the Encourager.

serve22_finalServe #22

I met Tracey Tischler just under a decade ago when I needed a makeup stylist for a high level executive photoshoot.  My original stylist who was booked backed out the day of the shoot with no warning.  Tracey stepped right into the role that morning like we had worked together for many years.  Needless to say I was impressed by her ability to mold into any situation, and talk to anyone no matter their status or job role.  She has a great rapport with nearly all of humanity (I think even if they spoke another language she would still make them feel comfortable).  I think what has brought me to write this “Serve” about Tracey is her ability to talk to anyone, better said her ability to be an encourager.  I have seen her encouragement played out as she gracefully applies makeup to a mother and daughter preparing them for a photoshoot.  The amazing part was watching Tracey apply her art to a little girl who was fighting a battle against Leukemia as well navigating life with the struggles of being a child with Down’s Syndrome.  Tracey gave time to the pair as well as loving words of encouragement.  To Tracey this mom and daughter were royalty, and it was her role, maybe even her honor to care for them.  Tracey much like all of us has a story that defines who she is, but that story does not hinder what she has to offer the world; ENCOURAGEMENT!

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I think a lesson we can glean from Tracey is to be a person of encouragement to a world that desperately needs some.

 

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

            “Tell Your Story”

 

 

Testing!

Sometimes you just need to do a test on a set concept!

Serve #21 -Emerge Mothers Academy

This is my first collaboration combining video and stills in the “Serve” series.  It was an honor to team up and tell this story alongside Josh and Anna Cisewski.  Take a few moments to watch the video and read the story.  It might just change the day for you.

Serve #21

Guest post written by Anna Cisewski

Since its conception, Emerge Mothers Academy has changed the lives of over 120 single mothers and their children. By providing much-needed classes and life-changing community, Emerge is able to partner with single mothers and equip them to be confident women for their children and communities.

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Becca

Becca Erickson founded Emerge with her mom, who was also a single mother. She saw a need for an organization like Emerge after her husband left her shortly after their baby was born. Suddenly alone and with very few resources and little support, Becca knew she couldn’t do it on her own. Looking back, she wishes she would have had access to the kind of support Emerge provides.

 

 

 

Dre Barthel and Becca met at the church they attend, Open Door. They connected and Dre learned more about Emerge; she knew she wanted to be a part of the organization.

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Dre

Becca says that Dre helped open up a new facet of the organization and is able to reach people through different avenues and mediums.

The lives of hundreds of women are being changed because of the vision and passion of Becca and Dre. They serve because they see how important the strength and confidence of a mother is and they want to stand beside those women and show them what a strong mother is.

It only takes a small bit of your love and passion to change the whole world of another person. Where can you share yourself?

Learn more about Emerge Mothers Academy at emergetwincities.org

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

            “Tell Your Story”

Serve #20 – Joanne Kersten

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Serve #20

Written by Scott Whitman

 

Joanne Kersten

Co-Founder WOVEN (With One Voice Energizing Neighborhoods)

North Central University

For professor Joanne Kersten, music is more than an art or vocation, it’s an instrument of hope.

Joanne is a co-founder of WOVEN (With One Voice Energizing Neighborhoods), a program she launched in 2002 with fellow North Central University professor, Larry Bach, in response to the desperate need they saw in the neighborhoods surrounding their downtown Minneapolis campus.

They saw children living under the heavy burden of poverty, abuse and neglect – children who could see no future for themselves, other than what drugs or gangs might offer.

But in the midst of the abuse and poverty, Joanne also saw potential. She asked, “What if we can help these children see something more in themselves?”

WOVEN matches college music students with neighborhood kids in a unique mentoring partnership. The children commit to meeting the attendance and conduct standards of the program, and in turn receive free weekly music lessons and one-on-one mentoring from a college student. These partnerships, which often extend for many semesters, have created a safe-haven for more than 100 neighborhood children since the program began, transforming the lives of many along the way.

Joanne says the process of learning music theory, and the practical discipline of preparing for musical performance, lays a foundation for greater literacy, personal responsibility, confidence and self-worth.

For many of the children, participating in WOVEN gave them a different view of what was possible.

“The program helps them know they can be something else. It becomes a form of drug prevention, or pregnancy prevention. They begin to want something more for themselves,” said Joanne.

“The children – and even their parents or guardians – are surrounded with positive ideas, positive people, and cannot help but be inspired by these talented and energetic college students,” said Joanne.

The benefits go both ways. The NCU students, immersing themselves in the lives of their young charges, learn what it means to serve with humility.

“Our college students come here from their own towns and schools where they were stars. They get thrown into the competitive college environment and often struggle to find their footing,” said Joanne, “By serving as teachers in WOVEN, these students begin to see themselves as contributors with something to offer. It gives them perspective, and a vision for their own future,” said Joanne.

But ultimately for Joanne, and everyone involved in WOVEN, it’s really about hope – finding it, and giving it.

“We all need the same thing, whether privileged or poor,” says Joanne. “Children can live through some pretty dark stuff. God’s made us pretty resilient. But to really grow, children need light.”

Joanne urges us to invest ourselves in shining that light: “Do whatever you can, no matter how simple, to bring people light and hope. Do it for the children.”

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

            “Tell Your Story”

Serve #19 – Joel Hanson

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Serve#19

Guest post by Anna Cisewski

A lot can change in 25 years. For Joel Hanson, worship pastor at Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove, MN, this has never been truer. He is a much different man than the kid he was with a talent for music and a need for fame a quarter of a century ago.

In 2004, Joel became the worship leader at Open Door, but he didn’t quite feel like he fit. To him, his job was to “sing in front of a large group of people and be good at it.” But he discovered that being a worship leader went far beyond the stage and the microphone. He needed to be a pastor, a shepherd.

After three years working at Open Door, Joel’s life seemed to be unraveling. After a series of poor and hurtful choices, the church leaders sat down with him and gave him the option to resign. He left.

But the next day, something happened that surprised him and in the years to come became more significant: the lead pastor, Dave Johnson, called him to ask how he was doing. Suddenly Joel realized that what he had expected of the church simply wasn’t true. He wasn’t ostracized or rejected because he had failed. Dave told Joel that he just couldn’t imagine “not being around the fire of life” without him. So instead of abandoning Joel to the humiliation of being released from a church, he was pulled back in.

“[They] helped me, not put myself back together, because those parts weren’t going to work anymore, but they helped me figure out what I was meant for.”

And then they hired him back. Instead of creating a safe distance, the church asked him to serve with them again. And throughout all of that, they redeemed Joel’s perception of what the church really is.

Now, almost ten years after the second time he was hired as worship pastor at Church of the Open Door, he fulfills his job very differently. Now, he views himself as a shepherd; a leader with the opportunity to partner with other people and equip them to use the profound impact that they have within the church and take it out to their communities.

Joel serves because to him, it’s not about the performance or the fame that he had when he was younger. It’s about the fact that there is a beautiful story in the hope he shares every day.

“I’d rather be known for being a normal human than have to continually prove that I’m someone else. Because God works in the ordinary and that’s the story I just can’t get away from anymore. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to, it’s always true. And to me, that’s the most beautiful part about the Good News, is that is happens everywhere.”

Twenty-five years ago, Joel thought he had to hide behind himself and his music. But now, he doesn’t carry that burden, he feels like a free man. Even in a church, where so many seem to feel the need to put on a clean face and a clean shirt to be accepted, the real and messy parts of life are what matter to Joel.

“What if we just showed up as we are, because that’s the only thing we actually can be and that’s the only place where good can actually happen.”

Have you been exhausting yourself by trying to hide? Take a note from Joel Hanson, tell your real story. You might be surprised by how healing and freeing it can be.

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

            “Tell Your Story”

Serve #18 – Ben & Larry L.

 

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Serve #18

Just a short fifty mile drive southwest of the cities is the rural town of Glencoe where the subjects of Serve#18 live.   Twin brothers Ben and Larry L., who grew up near the neighboring town of Silver Lake, are Army Veterans.  Both brothers served stateside during the Korean War. Their story is one that I hear often from men who grew up in rural towns that dot the Minnesota countryside.

 serve18card_0067-1When asked about their growing up years prior to the Army, they mentioned that they were regular farmboys.  They also mentioned  their reason for serving was because their family members served as well and “We wanted to”.  Both of these gentlemen lead productive lives in the area once their service to our country was done.  Maybe when you look at someone who served our country and stop to think about it…they never really stopped serving.

I am often moved by the strength and courage the men and women who served our country display; there is often a selfless demeanor that pervades each word they speak.  I find myself thankful for their bravery to serve.  Take a few moments to say thank you to a vet or currently active person.  There are stories out there people.  Maybe you need to hear one!

 

Best wishes,

 

Shawn Nielsen

Mobile. 612.750.2593

Studio. 763.498.7375

Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1

Web: http://nielsen-studios.com

Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/

            “Tell Your Story”

The reddish hues of winter.

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A wintery snow is cold and crisp, yet the reddish hue of maple leaves breath life into an otherwise bleak landscape.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mounted Patrol. Minnesota State Fair style.

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2016

 

The Minnesota State Fair is always a good place to take a photo. The buildings often create a great background and the subjects are plentiful. The photo you see here is of a mounted patrol who helps to part the seas of people so that vehicles, parades and animals can travel through the streets. I do not know his name, but I do know he has been at the Fair for many years (as told to me by my wife Cristine Nielsen). Sometimes I think it would be a grand idea to sit down with a man like this and hear the tales of all he has seen in his years at the fair.

 

Best wishes on your day,

 

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1
Web: http://nielsen-studios.com
Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/
“Tell Your Story”

Serve #17 – Morrie M.

Serve17_v1

Serve # 17

This Serve centers around a man named Morrie Melchert. He was a shop teacher and coach from my hometown of Rockford starting in the fall 1968, and retiring in 1999. He always had a handlebar mustache, and many of us wondered what held it up. The story doesn’t end there though. He to me was an instrumental part of my life in 1988. He was my photo class teacher as well as my small engines shop class teacher as well. I would be in error to say I did well in small engines class. Photo class though is where my world began to open up. It was there that Morrie helped me to see that I could express my self through photography. I owe much to this man, this teacher, this molder of dreams. He had a gentle spirit with students. Sometimes he was the smiling guy in the halls that served as an anchor for those of us going through our tumultuous teenage years, and other times he was the coach leading us on to become better people, athletes, students.

He has also faithfully served his wife in their 55 years of marriage, and helped raise 4 children. Morrie also served our country by joining the airforce before becoming a teacher. The years of service that Morrie has given to this world is many, and the impact on my life was and still is substantial.

Just before I took his photo I asked him why he served as a teacher.  His answer was immediate, “I served to teach others to respect, do what’s right, and to improve as a person”.

Thank you Mr. Melchert for being my teacher, coach, and the guy who was the first to unlock my photographic abilities. You changed my life!

 

 

Serve #16 – Mitch P.

 

Serve16_v1

Serve #16 

The man for this Serve is Mitch P. He is a bike mechanic and sales guy at Ramsey Bicycle in Ramsey. He greets you with a warm smile and a genuine heart when he asks you; “what can I help with you with today”? So why a bike shop dude for a Serve? I think it comes down to the fact that deep down inside most of us is a kid that still love to have the wind on our face, and the back to the basics feeling that a bicycle beneath us can bring. When I asked Mitch why he serves the public like he does he said it in these simple words: “Corporate world stressed me out, helping people find a bike, or tuning one already owned is great. Rarely does someone come in with a bad attitude, or stressed out”. He ended by saying; “I like to help people”.

Many thanks go out to bicycle guys all around. You keep us pedaling with smiles on our face.
Also a big thank you to Jeff Comfort for introducing me to Mitch!

So grab a bike, maybe even make motor sounds like you did when you were a kid, and put some roadway behind you on a bike. You may just find the fountain of youth;-)

Serve #15 – Don V.

Serve15_v2

Serve #15

Serve #15 has a small town Americana feel to it. It starts with the long time tradition of the Memorial Day Parade in my hometown of Rockford, MN.  The parade is woven into the fabric of local families, myself included.  This little small-town-parade has the high school marching band, fire trucks, and last but not least, kids carrying flowers and flags bringing up the rear of this meaningful yearly tradition. Stopping on the bridge overlooking the Crow River the band plays a hymn and the children throw their flowers in the river to honor those lost at sea.  It doesn’t just end there.  The parade continues a short, winding path through the streets, followed by the parade watchers, and up to the local cemetery that overlooks the tranquil countryside split by the Crow River. Once all assemble within the boundaries of Elmwood Cemetery, the Lions begin the yearly commemoration by asking the band to perform a couple musical pieces, then one of the Lions reads the names of those that have served and are buried under the headstones that dot the hillside cemetery.

     This year though was a different one.  One of the longstanding local guys by the name of Don V. was not present on his normal corner spot.  He has proudly sat at the corner of Bridge St. and Lieder St. for many years with a Korean Vet hat sitting on his head, waving to other locals and the children all while holding a small flag on a stick.  This year I found him sitting in the cemetery waiting for the crowd to assemble. There is a pride in this man that runs deep.  Maybe it is the farming blood that courses through his veins, or the service he gave to his country as a truck driver in the U.S. Army in the war in Korea, maybe it is being the only living charter member of the Rockford Lions, or maybe it was his years serving as a leader in the local  4H group that was in Rockford, or on the Wright County Fair board. Don served in so many ways that it was really hard to talk about just one.  I asked him why he served, he said, “Because.”  What wonderfully complex and yet simplistic response.  Meeting great people like him causes me to realize that we need to have a vision for the future, to change our communities by being more like this wonderful 84 year old man.

Thank you Don for serving your country,  your family, and the Rockford area.

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1
Web: http://nielsen-studios.com
Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/
“Tell Your Story”

50mm Green

Sometimes it is wonderful to grab a camera, take a deep breath or two and view nature through a 50mm lens.  Loving the country life!

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Serve #14 – Crystal & Anna.

 

 

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Serve #14

Serve #14 is about another goat. This one’s name is Crystal, and she’s the 11 year-old goat my oldest daughter, Anna Rose, raised and worked with throughout her 4H years. This pair made many trips to the Wright County fair, in Howard Lake, MN – nine to be exact. Crystal competed eleven times at the Minnesota State fair in 4H (6), or open class dairy goat shows. I’ve watched my daughter wear her whites and proudly show this regal old doe with determination (when she won senior showmanship), but also with a grace that has grown through the years as she’s become a woman ready to take on the world. The animals young people show, and grow up with, are true gifts in life. They are a means to help young people look beyond themselves, to care for something else. Each turning page in life means something new is around the corner. The next page for Anna is a wedding ceremony set for May 21st.  It’s a big day for all of us. The changes ahead are many, and yet to be written. The memories of watching Crystal and Anna grow together are cherished entries into the journal of life. When I asked Anna what Crystal meant to her at the end of our time taking the photos, she said with flowing tears, “Crystal is all of the memories and adventures at the fairs, it’s all been her.”

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I am blessed to call this young woman my daughter, and am excited to see how she and her husband will change this world.

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1
Web: http://nielsen-studios.com
Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/
“Tell Your Story”

Serve #13 – Joshua, a man of his word.

 

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      Serve #13 Joshua V. is an average guy with a great beard who looks more like a lumberjack than most lumberjacks actually do. However, under that bearded exterior is a guy with a faithful, loving heart. It is the heart of this rugged looking man that I want to point out. When I asked Joshua what his commitment in marriage meant, he paused for a moment reflecting back to his wedding day seventeen years ago. He then went on to say that he “lives out his vows” or as he clarified the “covenant” he shared with his wife during their wedding ceremony. He continues to be passionate about the words of his covenant and does his best as a Christ-follower to live them out.

 

Joshua’s covenant

Scanned Document

 

      Is he perfect? No. Speaking of his marriage, Joshua passionately said, “No matter what we face we will be there to rely on each other.”

He is a man of his word, you can see it in his eyes when he talks about his wife, his children, and his friends.

As we were wrapping up, he said a couple of things that ring powerfully true. The first was, “A marriage needs to approached by putting others’ needs higher than your own.” The second powerful statement Joshua shared was, “Truly being selfless is serving.”

These are powerful words to live by!

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1
Web: http://nielsen-studios.com
Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/
“Tell Your Story”

Serve #12 -Mabel , World War II Veteran

On a recent photo shoot my good friend Scott Whitman and I had the grand opportunity to meet a spunky lady with a great story. While I photographed, Scott wrote down her story. Serve #12 is Mabel S.  

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Mabel defies expectations. She’s full of wit and humor, and maybe just a little spit and vinegar, too. Perhaps what you’d expect from a girl who decided to sign up for the military and leave home to find adventure. With a twinkle in her eye she says, “don’t write that down, it’s off the record.” What makes all that so great is Mabel is 96. In the midst of World War II, Mabel volunteered for the Navy Hospital Corps. As the oldest of six girls, with no boys in the family, she said she volunteered “because I felt it was my duty. It was the thing to do.” Everyone was signing up for the war effort, if they could. Mabel said, “All my boyfriends had already gone into the service, and my girlfriends too.” Her only regret was she didn’t sign up sooner. “I waited until I was in my 20’s,” she said. Mabel and her fellow Navy “WAVES” – the nickname given the “women accepted in volunteer emergency service” – cared for the broken ones, the survivors, when they came home. She said, “The boys on the combat front went through a lot, saw some terrible things. Things you don’t want to think about.” She viewed her own role as more than changing bandages and bed pans. She wanted to give these soldiers hope, help them heal, rediscover their humanity, be normal ‘boys’ again. Of course, Mabel didn’t say it in those words. From her perspective, she was just saying a kind word, bringing a glass of cold water, making a dying soldier a bowl of Jello when his scorched throat hurt too much to swallow anything else. Those simple acts of kindness took on monumental significance in the eyes of the young men who had seen so much. Several were moved to extreme expressions of gratitude. As she put it modestly, “I received more than one marriage proposal, and lots of very overly-friendly letters, which tended to get them in some trouble.” Despite the light and kindness she brought to those injured lives, Mabel still questions whether or not she gave her “full share.” She has the humility of a generation that knows what real sacrifice and service means. She said reflectively, “I never served on the front, but I think I was serving my purpose.” Indeed you did, Mabel. From all of us in the following generations so blessed by the battles you won, and the lives you saved, thank you for your service.

~ Story by Scott Whitman, AgriLife Studios ~

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1
Web: http://nielsen-studios.com
Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/
“Tell Your Story”

Serve #11 – Sean M.

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Serve #11

This installment of Serve is one that no amount of pre-planning could have initiated. You see, I met Sean M. while on a photo-shoot for a medical device company in Florida where he played the part of a healthcare professional. Sean is a Special Ops police officer in the Tampa, Florida area. The story of Sean’s “Serve” is 15 years in the making. The events of 9/11 were the force behind what moved Sean to go through training and become an officer. I think 9/11 affected most of us, but Sean was moved to be a positive influence in this world. He hopes to change the course of people’s lives whom he comes in contact with. As a police officer, he spoke of times when people are in the back of his car with no place to go and the peaceful lyrics of songs on the contemporary Christian radio permeating the squad car help calm the people who have done something wrong or illegal. Additionally, he went on to say that he feels his calling to be a policeman is a calling to change lives for the good.

When you look into Sean’s eyes you see that people’s lives really matter.

 

Best wishes,

Shawn Nielsen
Mobile. 612.750.2593
Studio. 763.498.7375
Email: shawn@nielsen-studios.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nielsenstudios1
Web: http://nielsen-studios.com
Blog: https://nielsenstudios.wordpress.com/
“Tell Your Story”

Serve #10 – His name is Gregg

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Meet Gregg T. He’s a down-to-earth guy with a true heart for people. Gregg was recently brought in to serve as the Adult Minister at a church called NorthRidge Fellowship. In serving the families of this community, Gregg will have the opportunity to counsel those who have life struggles, as well as celebrate with those experiencing life’s joys. During my time photographing Gregg I asked him why he “Serves.” His answer was right to the point: “Each person needs to find God’s grace and discover what their role is in this world.”  Gregg’s answer I think points to a call that all we “humans” should have: to bring out the best in the people we come in contact with. Maybe we need walk alongside a person who is going through a drug or alcohol recovery, or stand with someone who’s in a life-battle with cancer. We never know how important that role could be or what impact we can have.

I’m excited to see what Gregg’s impact will be with the people at NorthRidge Fellowship whose lives he touches.
Shawn Nielsen

 

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