love God/serve people

We have seen His glory

Jesus Tree This Christmas I've been so aware of how incredibly blessed I am to be surrounded by wonderful family and friends who care for me in beautiful ways.  Yet I know how easy it is to still feel alone, even in the midst of family gatherings and holiday parties.  As this Christmas day is almost over (yikes, it's later than I thought!) I just rest in the presence of a God who came to dwell among the people he loved.  The son of God became a man, a humble servant, and conquered death upon a lonely tree so that we might not know the dull ache of loneliness any longer.  This is the glory we have seen and celebrate!

Life is awesome.

It's just crazy that this little person didn't exist, and now he does.  I'm so thankful to know that he will be loved.  I'm praying for all the little people (and big people) who don't have someone to love them and hold them and treasure them.  If you're looking for a good book to stir your heart and a good cause to help make sure that a few more little ones are loved, check out Kisses from Katie. And know that you are loved.

I am not alone

I am not alone

In case you haven't heard, I entered the Prosper community's photo contest and would love love love if you'd support me at http://theprospercommunity.com/contest.html. I'm number 20, so keep scrolling down to vote for me! More importantly, the story behind the photo:

The assignment was to create a self portrait with some encouraging "I believe" statement and its scripture reference. Since it rained the whole time that the contest was open for entry, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. Saturday night the rain finally slowed down and on my drive back from a church event, I noticed that the mist made all the lights glow beautifully! Luckily I had my camera with me, so I stopped in the Georgetown square and set up my tripod. I loved the way the photos came out, but they felt so lonely!

As I was thinking about it, however, I realized that many times in my life I have felt very lonely, even when surrounded by people. Now however, even when I am physically alone, I know that my God will always be with me. My mind quickly went to Isaiah 49:15-16, which has been one of my favorite scriptures since I learned of Jesus' breathtaking love four years ago. It says that even if my mother and father forsake me, my name is written on the palm of God's hand. I love the intimacy of hands, so the thought of my name inscribed on the palm of God's hand strikes a deep chord in me. A year ago, I just about fell over when I realized that my name was physically carved into Jesus's hands with the nails he took for me! Woah. So much tenderness, paid in blood.

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Vulnerability

Today marks the beginning of my 40-day journey through Prosper, a devotional for photographers by Scarlett Lillian, of Scarlett & Stephen Photography.  You can read more about it on the website (and even see me quoted on the promo video!  Eek!), but it’s basically a vulnerable collection of Scarlett’s prayers, struggles, and triumphs throughout her years as a photographer.  I can already tell that God’s going to use it mightily to push some buttons in me concerning my business, but more importantly, my relationship with Him. You are currently reading my first assignment: to write a blog about my heart for Jesus Christ.  I’ve written about God before, especially when it comes to seeing His beauty in nature,  His love on mission trips, or His glorious humility at Christmas time (my personal favorite), but my blog is not really a place where I’ve been very vulnerable.  Consider this my first attempt!

This devotional could not have come at a better time, because recently each day brings some new opportunity or accolade concerning my photography and with the increasing attention, seeds of doubt and fear try to take root in me.  It seems like pride would be the more obvious stumbling block, but the real thing that threatens me is fear of failure.  An ugly voice whispers to me, “What if they expect great things from you and you can’t deliver?” or “What makes you think you know what you’re doing? Now you’re going to disappoint everyone.”  In the photography world (particularly wedding photography), confidence in yourself is a must, so my confession may not be the wisest business move, but I guess that’s what vulnerability is all about.

Fear of failure certainly isn’t a new struggle for me, but you wouldn’t guess it looking at my life.  I’ve mostly excelled at what I’ve done.  Whether in school, sports, or organizations, the more I've achieved, the greater the dread in my heart that I’m just fooling everyone and I’m not actually competent or talented at all.  That fear used to cripple me inside.  But something’s changed.  I met Jesus Christ, and he’s patiently teaching me that he does not despise my weakness or my fears, but loves me unconditionally and wholly.  He loves me in my successes and my failures.  Nor do my successes or failures define me, but only his love, which never changes.  I still struggle with doubt and it’s coming up currently with my business, but I know I’m not alone.  His power is perfected in my weakness, because then His light shines through.  I trust God to take care of me, to show me His eye for beauty, and to give me His love for people.

"And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered." 2 Chronicles 31:21

Pursuit

It's Christmas!  So, like a good blogger, I wrote a Christmas post.  If if doesn't seem very holiday-ish at first, stick with me and you'll see the connection eventually.  Sometimes in the midst of doing photography as my business I lose sight of the brilliant reason I love taking photos in the first place: to reflect the beauty of God in His creations.  However, God was gracious enough to knock me off my feet last night when I saw this photo from my family's hike at Enchanted Rock and remind me of exactly why I do what I do.  (I'll show you the photo now if you promise to keep reading)

I had simply snapped this photo in between goofy photos of my parents, but the simple beauty and symbolism strikes a deep chord in me.  The man's purposeful stride towards his wife reflects the whole message of Christmas: Jesus came to us.  He pursued us because he loves us.  He didn't wait for us to come to him, but made himself nothing, a humble servant and was obedient to the point of death.  But death couldn't keep him down, so now we are free to live in the love of God, all because Jesus came to us.  I'm overwhelmed with that relentless love, the passionate pursuit of God as he defeats sin and reigns as Lord in our hearts.  And this is why I celebrate Christmas, but it's also why I long to take beautiful photos and be a loving daughter and a faithful friend every day.  Because every day I get the chance to worship the God who came to me and gave me life, not just on Christmas!

I told you it was a Christmas post :)  Have a beautiful day!

P.S.  Who wants to take engagement/wedding/senior photos at Enchanted Rock?!!?!!

You are the beauty

I love the way God has given us so many ways to express our amazement at His beauty.  Right now I'm reveling Gungor's new album, Ghosts Upon the Earth, especially the song "You are the Beauty."  While listening to the song, I opened up this photo in Lightroom and decided that I really just couldn't keep either reflection of God's beauty to myself.  But as with any good creation on this earth, a photo or a song is only a reflection, because He IS the beauty!

Honduras!

Ok, so you might want to grab yourself a drink and maybe even a snack, because this is about to be my longest post ever (edit: one of many long posts about Honduras!).  My church, terranova, sent a group to Honduras to help build a church in a small mountain community.   Honduras is a beautiful place, with beautiful people, and I have too much to say/show about this trip for just a few photos and a sentence or two. God never changes, regardless of the continent you're on or the language you speak.  However, I love the way that His love and His work becomes so evident when you step out of a familiar context.  Our time in Honduras may have been short, but it constantly amazes me how God can grow love between people who have completely different lives.  I know this sounds a little dramatic, but my heart seriously leaps for joy at the chance to learn from and grow with people from around the world, so I pray that this is one in a long line of posts documenting my chance to worship the Lord in different places and contexts.

See how beautiful this country is?!  I sat with my face glued to the window the whole three hour drive between San Pedro Sula and La Esperanza.  We did have a nice little detour when we got a flat tire, but it was quickly mended. The whole travel day gave us a great chance to get to know each other and the Hondurans with whom we'd be working for the week.

The first night in La Esperanza we admired our beautiful hotel and did a bit of exploring before going to dinner with Eric, the pastor we're partnering with, Yoamy, his beautiful wife, and their adorable children.  That first dinner was all it took for me to fall in love with their family.  Although I hadn't spoken Spanish in years, I was amazed at how quickly words came back to me.  I was so grateful for that, because it really opened up a door for me to get to know Yoamy a bit.  We headed to bed pretty quickly though, because we knew that we had an early start the next day!

Getting up early the next to have some quiet time with the Lord I was greeted with the beautiful sight of mist covering the mountains.  How awesome is it to read "the mountains and hills before you shall break forth into singing," and then look up to see a view like this?

After eating breakfast, our first morning in Las Mercedes was filled with lots of hard work!  The task was to get all the materials for building the church up the mountain.  Not an easy task, to say the least, but after a few kinks we figured out ways to most efficiently use our strength and do it with joy!

During lunch we got to get to know some of the Hondurans a little better, such as Martin, a local pastor and his wife.  We also got to know a few of the sweet kiddos.  The rest of the day included more work on the church, a beautiful drive back down the mountain and an delicious dinner.  We were pretty filthy (that is not a tan you see on our legs!) and physically exhausted, but so happy to be in Honduras!

Reppin' the llama.