Saturday, March 28, 2009

Learning trust

"Loyalty to Jesus means I have to step out where I do not see anything; loyalty to my notions means that I clear the ground first by my intelligence. Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way." My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, March 28

Monday, March 23, 2009

Elsie the worldchanger

I was pouring myself an afternoon cup of coffee when she came to the kitchen door. "Sis, do you want to see what I found in the water?" I turned to look at my eight-year-old sister in the doorway, her inquisitive eyes saying just as much as her mouth. I couldn't help but smile at her.

Elsie is unlike any other eight-year-old girl that I know. She is equally tomboy and lady. She carried worms around in her pockets before she was two, bestowing kisses on their "heads" before sending them back to their underground homes. Yet she is every bit a girl, one who loves nail polish and lace and well-coordinated outfits and princess movies. She has a quick mind, a saucy tongue, a gentle spirit, and the sweetest, most sincere heart a person could imagine.

I stopped to observe her for a second as she stood in the doorway, framed by the afternoon light. Despite the lingering chill in the March air, she was dressed in navy capris and a short-sleeved shirt that matched her eyes. Her bare feet and calves were covered in mud and scratches from scrambling in the creek all afternoon, and she had dirt smudges on her cheeks.

"Okay," I said. "What did you find?" "Frog eggs!" she exclaimed. as she ran over to a bucket of water sitting atop the table on the back deck. She stuck her hands in the water and carefully pulled out a large, opaque gel-like glob with dark specks throughout. I just stared at her and chuckled. Where did this child come from? I wondered.

She proceeded to tell me all about frogs and their eggs, the kind of frog that produce these eggs, and how the tadpoles grow and leave their eggs. She held that slimy glob with such tender care, and spoke with knowledge and sincere interest in the baby frogs. The neigbor's dog ran over, curious to see what all the fuss was about. She gently held the glob for the dog to look at and smell. Again, I smiled.

As I looked down at her gentle hands with their long fingers and well-shaped nails, I had to wonder what God has in store for her life. If she, as a strong, confident, gentle girl is capable of such love and affection for a slimy glob of frog eggs, what does God have planned for her heart the future? I don't think I can begin to comprehend the things she will be capable of loving later on in life, as her precious heart deepens and expands, and as she comes to know and love God more completely.

In that moment, standing on the back deck staring at those frog eggs, I knew that I want to see as Elsie sees, and love as Elsie loves. One day, perhaps when I grow up, I will be like Elsie, who can change the world because she loves frog eggs.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

When the parents are away...

When the parents are away, the children...
get in mud fights. Without permission.

"What? I can't come inside dressed like this?"

tough guy

When the parents are away, the children...
get in "accidental" airsoft wars inside the house.
resulting in injuries to the eye.

When the parents are away, the children...
practice basketball. as usual.

When the parents are away, the children...
dress in cool clothes.
stripes and camo are a winning combination.

When the parents are away, the children...
go to coffee with Sis as a late birthday gift.
and play Sequence for 2 hours.
Jedi smoked me, in case anyone was wondering.

When the parents are away, the children...
fall off their bikes and scrape up their knees.

When the parents are away, the children...
get haircuts.

sometimes they don't want haircuts.

When the parents are away, the children...
get to run errands with Sis.

When the parents are away, the children...
drive 15-passenger vans all over the place, because a certain newly-licensed driver can't do 5-speed.

Maybe she shouldn't do automatic yet, either.

When the parents are away, the children...
have fun. 'nuff said. =)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thailand: What happens now?

"Thailand was amazing. God worked in miraculous ways. We arrived home tired, but safe and sound. Thanks for your prayers."

I could post that. It would be an appropriate, albeit ridiculously short, summary. It's all true. We are safe. God worked in ways totally outside of my realm of expectation, and He opened up a new understanding of His character. And your prayers made this possible.

But there is more.

Thailand was amazing.
Yes. It was. But it was no conventional missions trip, which makes it difficult to summarize. I have very few stories of my own to share, but then we did not go for the experience, or for the ministry and impact of the trip itself. We went to document God's story of redemptive love in the lives of the girls. This was accomplished, and I have much of that story to share as opportunities arise.

I come away with absolute confidence that our purpose was accomplished. I didn't take as many images as I expected to, but I know that every time I held the camera, I was supposed to hold it, and every time I put it down to hug a girl or to hold a hand, I was supposed to put it down. I look back on those three weeks in Thailand with absolutely no regrets. I know that I was in the center of God's will and in tune with His Spirit in every step I took.

God worked in amazing ways.
God worked in my heart, revealing new aspects of His character. God taught me about love as I observed these precious girls pour their love out on every person around them. I saw God's very present hand of protection as He changed our plans time and again. We never made it to a mountain village, even though we planned to go on three different occasions. We hardly shot anything in Bangkok, which turned out to be another form of protection. God had other plans for our eyes, our time, and our hearts. As amazing as it may seem, we came away from shooting the Bangkok's Red District with a greater understanding of God's holiness, love, and purity.

We arrived home safe and sound.
Well, sort of. I flew straight to Dallas for a photojournalism conference and Hannah had 3 days at home before leaving for a month of language school in Guatemala. We have long-since given up the idea of "settling back into normal life," since our normality looks like crazy schedules and "random" encounters, all with a commitment to impact others for the cause of Christ, regardless of our location or situation.

So... what happens now?

As amazing as the actual trip was, our work is far from being finished. Please continue your prayers as we work on sorting images, writing text, and working with our designer on layouts for the book itself. Pray that we would be faithful to finish the work we have begun. Pray that we would be sensitive to God's Spirit as we work on text and layouts. Pray that God would give us favor with the ministry, and that this project would see publication. Pray that we can accurately capture and communicate God's work in the girls' lives.

Thank you for partnering with us.


Monday, March 09, 2009

The concept of time, and becomeing fully alive

Last week I opened my journal entry with "January 29, 2009." It was, in fact, March 1, not January 29. This is what I refer to as a "brain cloud moment" – a strange and random mental time lapse that results in strange and random confusions. However, this "brain cloud moment" spurred a great deal of thought on the matter and measure of time.

What is time? What is age? What is the measure of time? How do I define it, and how do I define myself when measured against it? Today is the ninth day of the third month... of what year? When does life begin?

Does life begin at the point of conception? Does it begin at the point of birth? Or does it begins at some other defining moment throughout this strange expanse of time that is commonly referred to as "life?"

Perhaps my life began at age 4 when I asked Christ to be my Savior in the back of a minivan.

Perhaps it began at age 9 when God gave me my first rhema in Genesis 12:1-3 and called me to a lifetime of ministry.

Perhaps it began at 12 when I fully surrendered my life to God and began to pursue Him without reservation.

Perhaps it began at 14 when God showed me His face for the first time.

Perhaps it began at 16 when I fully gained a clear conscious for the first time in my life, and I committed to walking uprightly before God and man.

Perhaps it began at 18 when God busted me out of depression by telling me the truth of His unconditional love for me through learning sound doctrine.

Perhaps it began at 22 when I told God that I would joyfully accept any and every thing, person, and circumstance that He brought into my life, and determined to love His plan for me as the best and most satisfying, because it will bring Him the most glory.

Perhaps it began 2 months ago when God finally gave defined purpose to my photography.

Perhaps it began 3 weeks ago when He changed His face from Father to Lover.

Perhaps it began yesterday.

Perhaps it's beginning now.

The glory of God is a man fully alive, and the life of man consists of beholding God.
– St. Irenaeus

Perhaps all of these "life beginning" moments are what it means to become fully alive.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Words and thought

My week has been full of good things and good times. I came back from Thailand. I turned 24. I hung out in Texas with some of my closest friends. I attended the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference. I ways to communicate from good and bad examples.

These are a small glimpse into the random ponderings of my soul, my journal, and my little black book during the last week.

Thinking about thinking about a rough draft outline for our Thailand project.


Quote by C. S. Lewis

'And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And so for us it is the end of all stories, and we can most truly say they lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. And all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: and now they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
_from The Last Battle_

The place that my heart wants to be.

A friend from Thailand.
She retaught me that love for God is better than any other earthly love.

Do not fear the silence in an interview.
Do not fear the silence in a friendship.
Do not fear the silence in love.
Do not fear the silence with God.

One of my closest Thai friends.

A page from my little black books.
The girls wrote out their names to help me with pronunciation, and so that I could remember them.

God re-defined this word in Thailand.

John 3:16
Hebrews 13:5
Joshua 1:5
Isaiah 43:1-5

A call.
A command.
A gift.

Questions and ponderings.

Affirmation of God's kingdom work.

Prayer for myself and those closest to me.

Sometimes I just have these kind of days...

Motivational quote

What defines this?

We are all just people.

Thoughts on success.

Quote by Hudson Taylor.

My heart overflows with this word.

Beautiful love.

Memories from Bangkok.

Prayer for myself.
Source of meditation.

A small slip of paper that stays tucked in the back of my Bible. A reminder of my calling.