Portrait artist, lover of people, and storyteller Meshali Mitchell is joining us on our Spotlight Q & A today! She is immensely talented, and the quality of her work is very personal for me!
For many years when my children were younger, she was the one who would patiently pose us for yearly family pictures. Honestly, I often dreaded the day – dressing everyone, hoping everyone’s attitudes were happy, trying to get the younger boys to be still and give an authentic smile. Sometimes, it was exhausting. And yet, Meshali made it fun and always managed to get a good shot of my crew!
Many of them still hang on our walls at home. (Thank you girl!)
She now owns and operates Meshali Mitchell Photo, which is run out of her home but takes her all over the world!
Her true vision is for the One, and she honors Him with her lens. She also loves quality time with her friends and family, her dog Belle, and big front porches. You should stop by to sit, rest, and stay a while at her website, meshali.co or visit her on Instagram @meshali! But as always, before you go, please leave a comment of encouragement for her below!
- If you could describe this season of your life in one-word, what word would it be? Why?
Restored. I am in a Restoration Season of my life right now. A few years ago, I unexpectedly came across and purchased a little 1886 Texas Farmhouse Fixer Upper. As a creative, I naturally felt drawn to buy it and restore it, seeing past the ashes of what it was currently and desiring to restore it to its original beauty-or to even better than it was before. As I began to restore each room and photograph it, God spoke to my heart about how the restoration of a home parallels with the restoration of a human heart. Room by room and piece by piece. Christ coming in and making all things new. The process of repentance, awareness, the gutting, the rebuilding, the filling, the beauty that comes when we give Him access. He began to speak to me about some rooms of my heart that I hadn’t allowed him full access to yet at the time. As I began to pray, seek Him, and let Him into those places, He continued a deep healing work in me. I’m grateful for all He’s done and all He’s yet to do! Restoration is His promise.
- In terms of your career, before you knew you would be _______________, you almost . . .
I’ve always had a love for people and have been fascinated by stories . . . all people, all walks of life. I love to lean in and see. I went to graduate school to work on my Masters in Social Work, and at that time, my photography business really took off. Because of a demand on my time, I was at a crossroads of what to do with my career. Hands shaking, I prayed, sought counsel, and decided to launch “Meshali Mitchell Photo” full-time. That was in 2009 and I haven’t looked back since. People often ask, “So you haven’t gotten to use any of the education from your master’s degree with what you do now?” And to that I say, “YES.” The skills I learned in classes about social work and counseling have helped me tremendously in what I do in photography. It’s all about people, their stories . . . loving them, hearing them, and seeing them. I’m grateful for every step of the journey God has and is weaving together. Nothing wasted!
- In what ways do you ensure that your career path serves the purposes of God and encourages His people?
My heart is that in everything I do – small or big . . . whatever it is, it all serves Him. I just ask Him daily, “what is it that you would have me do today, Lord?” In my business, in my personal life, all of it.
I believe we are all pioneering something. My career path has been very unique. With each season, it has looked a little different. The Holy Spirit is so creative and has a plan for each of us. This is why we can’t look to other’s paths or callings and “mimic” those. Sometimes there’s no workshop for it. Does that make sense? It’s a day-to-day life of obedience. When people ask me about my photo career, I tell them that is the blueprint truly . . . a lot of grace . . . and trusting and obeying. That’s it.
So, every day, my desire is to seek Him, hear from Him, love people – whatever that looks like. Day-to-day it’s different, but I’m doing my best to walk in that. Some days, it’s on shoots, others it’s writing, others it’s at the grocery store or at Target. But as far as my career path goes, I strive to do it all unto Him.
- Fill in the blank. I am not a very _____________ person.
I am not a very stoic person.
I’m a deep feeler and processor, and my emotions are something I “wear” (or, so I hear) haha! I have had to work on this, A LOT! If I’m feeling or thinking something, I have trouble setting it aside or hiding it. I’ve always admired people who can separate things in their mind and disconnect until they can process through it at a better time. I usually have to talk about things quickly. That hasn’t always served me best. Ha, whether good or bad . . . people around me are usually going to be able to see or sense what I’m feeling.
- Name your biggest strength and your biggest weakness? How has each served you as you’ve fulfilled your purpose?
Sort of piggybacking off of my answer above . . . I believe my emotions + mind (sensitivity) can be my biggest strength and a secret weapon in what I do, though they can also be a weakness. Being intuitive and sensitive to people has served me so well in ways in photography and ministry and has also hindered me greatly at times. The gift of empathy, being sensitive to others, and aware of their feelings and opinions can be a great tool to “see and help” people. But there’s a balance to everything, right? There’s a huge difference in being sensitive and empathetic to others and letting the opinions of others rule your life.
The anchor of God’s Word keeps me grounded in all of this. When I feel tossed or emotional, I go back to the TRUTH of His unchanging, unfailing Word. That grounds me and brings me back to truth, regardless of how I feel.
- When is the last time you laughed so hard that it hurt?
Alright, y’all remember the recent winter storm? Well, I sure do. I was staying with my best friends and had a shoot the first morning things got bad. Despite the snow/ice covered ground, the shoot was still on! Well, they live on a big hill in Tennessee and their front porch is set up high above two flights of stairs. You probably know what’s coming next . . . She and I left for the shoot that morning and attempted to walk down the icy steps, carrying my gear. She was in front of me, taking it easy, step-by-step. I made it down the first three steps and felt like I may be in the clear. Nope! That blasted fourth step got me. Before I knew it, both of my feet came out from under me, my gear went flying, and I attempted to grab onto her sleeve. She stood strong, but I was on the ground. Landed at the bottom but survived! Ha, we laughed so hard, we couldn’t breathe. Something I’ll never forget!
- What has been the most difficult season in your life? How did you get through it?
There was a season I alluded to earlier . . . in my mid-twenties, I hit a place in my life where some old wounds I had not dealt with began to really fester in my life. Being raised in ministry, I had put band-aids over bullet holes for years. There were some wounds of my past I tried to tuck away . . . but pain in our lives demands to be felt and dealt with. I was bleeding out in areas that needed healing. I began to see a great Christian counselor (one of the best investments I’ve ever made). Walking through “those rooms” of my heart that needed healing wasn’t necessarily pretty or easy. It was really hard work actually. God did the work and heavy lifting, supernaturally . . . but the process required my will and obedience to Him and His word. That part isn’t always easy. The gutting process of that season was one of the hardest things I’ve faced but the beauty on the other side of it is worth it. He makes all things NEW!
- If this were your last year on earth, what would you want to spend your time doing?
To be honest, I feel I would be doing a lot of what I am doing now. If I knew that, I would probably be more sensitive to make EVERYDAY count – to live out every single day with as much purpose as possible. In light of eternity, following Jesus and taking as many people with me to Heaven as possible. I would spend as much time with my family and friends that I possibly could. People matter most!
- If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
“Meshali, DO NOT FEAR. Don’t allow fear to rule your life, make decisions, or call the shots. Trust in the love and sovereignty of God. Believe it. Apply it. Walk in it. His PERFECT LOVE casts out fear.”
*These blog interviews are designed only to be fun, informative and introductory. GB Ministries has varying levels of familiarity with each participant so their presence here does not equal our endorsement of or full alignment with theological doctrine or political perspective.