Thursday, January 22, 2009

Restoring Grace |: Thailand

I am a photographer. This is my occupation. This is my profession. This is my calling. Every time I do somebody's portrait or take a landscape through my lens I am overwhelmed with the privilege and honor of holding a camera in my hands. I feel incredibly blessed by the Lord in this calling, and I pray that He gives me the grace to use it to His glory.

I desire to use my camera to document the faithfulness, grace, and redemptive love of God in His people throughout the world. I want to use my images and the stories that accompany them as a tool for discipleship. "Take a look: this is our God. The same God that redeems girls from brothels in Asia, the same God that preserves the faith of His people through persecution in Sudan, the same God that frees children from slavery in Egypt, the same God that calls American street kids to become pastors and evangelists... this is the same God you serve. This is YOUR God. He is faithful. He fulfills His Word. He is trustworthy. And He never fails."

Two weeks ago a friend called and asked me to go to Thailand with her to do this very thing, and after much prayer, God has confirmed that I am to go.

We leave February 4th, and arrive home the 24th. We go a place called "House of Grace," a girl's home and ministry that protects and cares for tribal girls that are at risk of being sold into prostitution in Bangkok. Our purpose is to document, in book, form the transforming work of Christ in the lives of these girls, and in this part of the world.

Our purpose is to gather images and text for a book focused on the transforming work of Christ in the hearts and lives of the girls themselves, attesting to God's faithfulness and loving watchcare over them. Several years ago a book was written about this ministry, and the impact it was making on the prostitution industry in Thailand. This will be a follow-up book. We don't go so much for the impact we can have during this trip, but for the future impact of the images we capture and the stories we tell, both documenting the redemptive love of God.

A friend of mine is the head of a group called Revolutionary Media, a team of artists, writers, photographers, and graphic artists who seek to change the world through beautiful and true media projects. "Rescue the Beauty," a division of Rev Media, focuses on finding truth and beauty in seemingly lost and dark places and accurately communicating Christ in that situation.

Rev Media and Rescue the Beauty has graciously taken on creative sponsorship for this project. This means that Rev Media team members will give logistical, creative, and spiritual support on as many fronts as possible. Project organization. Graphics. Marketing. They can’t go with us to Thailand, but they desire to help us from home. Together we hope this Rescue the Beauty project will inform, inspire, and challenge people every where to confront the difficult and heartbreaking issues of our times.

Want to help? Subscribe to the project blog [at]. Hannah and I will update there as often as possible about our adventures and what God is doing. And please join our support network. Pray. Donate if you can. Send emails of encouragement. As we seek to live on the edge in faith, please support us as much as you can.

I have two prayer requests I would like to present to everyone now:

1. Pray for our hearts as we prepare to go. I know I will see and hear and experience things that are totally new, and even the nature of our trip is heartbreaking. If prostitution was obsolete, I would have no need to go. I want my heart soft and open to what God would place there, yet wise and discerning as well.

2. My primary prayer request would be that I would stay centered on the Gospel in my preparations, in my travels, in my interactions with people, and in my work following the trip. I firmly believe that the Gospel of Christ is the only thing that redeems horror into purity, brokenness into beauty, and sinful creatures into saints.

Thank you all for lifting me up to our God in prayer. Please continue those petitions on my account.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My response to the Inauguration

My response to this Inauguration is the same as my response to the election: In God We Trust.

In God we trust
and the government is on His shoulders
In God we trust
through democracy and tyranny alike
In God we trust
He uses both good and evil men

In God we trust
so we fight for peace and He fights for us
In God we trust
even when He fights us for someone else
In God we trust
even when He looks like the enemy

In God we trust
even though our hearts are bankrupt
In God we trust
for more than just the value of our dollar bills
In God we trust
but there’s no gold behind these notes of reserve

In God we trust
even through our great presumption
In God we trust
even though He favors no nation-state
In God we trust
even when the blessing is a curse
__Derek Webb__

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Measure of Greatness

"If you could meet and photograph one person from the Bible other than Christ, who would it be and why?"

This question was put to me several months ago. I took it down and filed it away somewhere on my hard drive, then promptly forgot about it. I stumbled upon that file today when looking for something else, and I'm pondering my answer to such a question.

At first thought, I assumed I would want to photograph my heroes. Killer-Saul turned Preacher-Paul. David, the weeping, worshipping warrior-king. Peter, the foot-in-the-mouth, impulsive disciple turned passionate, Christ-centered leader. Isaiah, the man of God with a shocking words and a poet's heart. Job and Habbakuk, both men who unashamedly questioned God because they were determined to know Him for themselves, not based on what others said about Him.


If cameras were conceivable then, if I had the ability to visually document these men of faith, if I could tell their story... what would I really see? If I had a camera then, would I even know they would one day be in the Bible? The men and women of faith were just regular men and women that lived their lives wholeheartedly for God. How did anyone know that they were special? It's not like they wore a sign that read, "Take note: future famous man/woman of God."

A few of them were set apart, like John the Baptist, whose father was visited by an angel, or the Apostles, who saw Christ firsthand and personally received their callings from Him. But not all of them, at least, not that we know of. Often times they followed personal callings from God (like most of the prophets), not public anointings and callings. Many were despised and looked down upon. How would I know that they were worth shooting? What set them apart from the other men and women of faith whose lives and work are barely mentioned, if remembered at all?

Then I think about my life, and all of the incredible people that cross my path each day. What sets them apart? What sets me apart? How does one know that a life is worth capturing? What is the measure of greatness?

Thus says our God:

"Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord." Jeremiah 9:23-24

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Worldview & Lensview

world·view (wûrld'vyōō') n.
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.

I've spent some time pondering this word lately. What it means to me. How it applies to my life. What my worldview is, and whether it's Christ-centered or not, and whether or not I really believe in Truth.

Truth is the perception of reality as defined by God. And, as it turns out, God's perception of reality is rarely the same as ours. Insanity is the loss of connection with reality, and believing that a lie is truth.

Do I really believe that what I believe is really real?

What would happen if i really believed that God hears, and answers, my prayers? What would happen if I really believed that the Holy Spirit works in and through me to accomplish God's purposes? What would happen if I really believed that my justification is complete? How would it change/affect my view of how God in and through me? How would it change my view of others?

For the past several months I've followed close to 100 photography blogs. I've known that all of those photographers don't exactly hold to what is right and true in their work and art, but my mindset has been to take what is good and leave the rest. This has worked so far (or so I thought), but I've noticed that as I'm exposed to less-than-God-reflecting work, my own work has (very slowly, mind you) gravitated downward, as well.

I mean this:
When I shoot a bride, I want the images to reflect the holiness and purity of Christ's relationship with His Church. Most photographers focus more on the beauty and sensuality of a bride on her wedding day instead of the purity and holiness of marriage. I've begun to change my thinking, though ever-so-slightly, to focus more on making a good image (like the ones I've seen) instead of capturing the character of Christ. Who am I imitating? Rich photographers taking pictures of rich people? Or the Heavenly Bridegroom's precious love for His Church?

Same applies to portraits. When I take someone's picture, I want to reflect the glory and creativity of God's love for humankind... especially in His redeemed children. I want to capture their personality, their loves, their idiosyncrasies, and everything that makes them who they are as a unique individual made in the image of God. Lately I've found myself trying, instead, to imitate other photographers instead of seeking to accurately reflect Christ in my images.

These ponderings on worldview made me think. And pray. And reevaluate. And see the need for change. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do about all those blogs I subscribe to. Some of them are really good, and don't bother me. Others are Christian photographers. Some need to go. It'll take some time to look through them all and pray about which to continue reading and which ones to get rid of. It's not the images that bother me so much as the worldviews expressed. I want to be Christ-centered in all my endeavors.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The20 Project |: REST


The20 Project |: REST
In conjunction with Revolutionary Media.
Contributing artists:
Kaylynn Marie Clark
Elijah Turrell
Susie Yoder
Christina Dickson
Julianne Peters
Rach Fikile
John McPherson
Sarah Danaher
Writer: Sarah Danaher
Artistic Director: Aaron Dodson
Project Manager: Christina Dickson

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Da Moose

Hannah is one of "my girls." We meet on a regular basis (with a couple of others) for prayer and accountability. She's also one of my close friends. Her passion is contagious. She's a God-follower, a photographer, and a book-lover. I swear, sometimes I think we are the same person, just six and a half years younger. She will change the world one day, of this I have no doubt.

For more pics, click here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Tori Werner

A radiant glow. Love written in a smile. "Where is Miss Tori?" her pre-school kids asked when she didn't come to work. "She's going to marry her prince," was the answer. And so she did.

I happened to be a privileged bridesmaid, but Tori asked me to do her portraits before the wedding day. I'm so grateful for that honor.

Click here for more pictures.

Friday, January 02, 2009


I just finished reading through 2008 in my journals. I am amazed by God. I forgot who I used to be and how much I've changed and grown. God is greater. His Word is more precious. My family relationships are sweeter. My friendships are more Christ-centered. I am so excited for 2009!

Five or six years ago around this time, my pastor sent our Church an e-mail, encouraging us to set wise goals for the upcoming year. He included in it a list of questions by Donald S. Whitney, written to urge believers to reflect on their walk with God, to "stop, look up, and get our bearings" at the start of the year. One question has had a tremendous impact on my life: What is the most humanly thing you will ask God to do this year?
(click here for the full list of questions)

In 2008 I asked God to make me a woman of prayer. He answered this request through some incredible, and very painful, situations.

I learned that I don't know myself; that I cannot discern my own heart or its desires. So I joyfully accept whatever God placed in my path.

I learned to "take a complacency in God," and allow Him to pursue me.

I learned to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me through my feelings because I cannot navigate them (I have a mental picture of being guided through a school of jellyfish, just like Marlin and Dorrie in Finding Nemo. Yeah, so I'm visual like that.).

I learned that if I know my God, I know my story's ending well enough.

I learned the importance of the Gospel in my life as a believer; that the source of all beauty-- and the only thing that redeems horror and pain into glory and might-- is the Gospel.

I learned to obey when I don't understand, and to trust the God that knows all things. "Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life: gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life... We are uncertain of our next step, but we are certain of God." My Utmost for His Highest

I learned that God is greater than my heart; that when God owns my heart, He claims the right to turn it in whatever direction He chooses, even if it hurts, or it's outside of my comfort zone.

2008 was full of good things, great memories, amazing people, and experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world. God led me through pain and impossibilities to further joy and confidence in His ability to guide and direct my life. I can't wait to see what 2009 looks like.

This year I've asked God to give me His eyes and His heart. I want to see Him the way He sees Himself, and to love Him the way He loves Himself. I want to see myself and love myself the way Christ sees and loves me. And then I want to see others and love others the way my Father sees them and loves them. I think this will be a year of even greater change. And I cannot wait!