Monday, June 29, 2009

IPS PWP2 | Washington, DC

So, yes— I spent part of last week up in DC again during the second IPS workshop, PWP2.
Some of my favorite people.
In one of my favorite cities.
During one of my favorite photography workshops.
Learning about some of my favorite aspects of photography.

Seriously, does it get any better than this?

The Senate Journal

More pictures here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"I Am a Missionary"

When I was nine, I felt God call me to missions. Over the years, this calling has taken on a wide variety of applications— from serving my family, to serving the local Church, to coordinating Christian conferences, to directing discipleship programs, to one-on-one mentorship, and more. It is, in its very essence, a call to serve, and I intend to serve for the rest of my life through whatever opportunities God places before me.

When I bought my camera two and a half years ago, I knew that I wasn't pursuing a hobby or a career. My camera would become another tool in my pocket. I didn't know how to do it, or what it would look like, but I knew I was supposed to go after it anyway. I prayed for definition for my photography for two years, without receiving any answers. It was as if God would not allow me to pursue Him about the subject.

But in January of this year, all of that changed. God finally gave me the freedom to pursue Him for direction and definite purpose for my photography, and once I started asking, He answered. Over the course of three months, I received clear direction for photography, discipleship, and business, and I'm doing my best to pursue them. If you would like to read more about what that looks like for me, you can find that document here.

The short version is that I am a missionary. My goal is to love God and love people, and my work is to build God's kingdom. I define it like this:

1. I will influence, mentor, and equip as many people as I can, and as deeply as I can, in as many ways as I can. My goal is to raise up world changers— people who fearlessly and purposefully pursue God and walk out their individual, God-given life callings.

2. I will use my camera to document the faithfulness and redemptive love of God around the world:

⁃ To bring it back to strengthen the faith of His children.
⁃ To support the people who already walk out their callings.

⁃ To motivate others to pursue God and serve God keeps dropping things in my lap.

It's exciting to watch, and even more exciting to live. I repeat Oswald Chambers words to myself almost daily— "The nature of spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty, consequently we do not make our nests anywhere... We are uncertain of our next step, but we are certain of God."

I don't know what God is doing in my life. I can't see. I can feel Him at work, and when I look back, everything is covered with golden fingerprints. But looking forward, it's all "gracious uncertainty." This life is an adventure, and I don't always know what to do with myself. But when God drops things in my lap, I run with them.

All that said...

I'm going to Kenya in July. A woman in my Church is looking to start a foundation to support East African orphanages, and is visiting a school/orphanage in Mombassa to see if this is a ministry she wants to get involved in. She asked me to go along as her photographer to document the trip, as well as to do portraits of the orphans for potential sponsorships. Carol, her daughter Taylor, and I will leave on July 21 and will return August 7.

Please pray for me
as I prepare! We will be at the school for ten days, during which time we will lead devotions every morning for children in two age groups. I don't know much beyond this. I prayed for a long time about going, and told God that if He wanted it to go, to just make it happen. I kept praying, and then all the sudden I had a ticket. So I'm going to Kenya.

I'll update regularly here on the blog, so please subscribe or follow us so you can see what God is up to throughout our trip.

In the meantime, please pray for our preparations. I need to earn or raise enough money for the plane ticket, as well as some in-country and preparatory expenses. Carol, Taylor, and I need to come up with curriculum for the devotion times every morning. We need clear lines of communication between the three of us, and with the school directors in Mombassa. We desperately need prayer for protection and direction, both while we're in Africa, and in our time of preparation here.

And more than anything, I need to love God more.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

IPS Prizewinning Photography | Washington, DC

I spent last week hanging out with IPS again, this time in downtown Washington, DC. New friends, cool coffee shops, day shoots, night shoots, monuments, and time with Instructors/amazing friends, Rowan Gillson and Mandy Novotny.

I love spending time with IPS. I love the combination of photography and discipleship. The next set of workshops will be in September in Manitou Springs, CO at Summit Ministry's location, and it should be a total blast! If you love photography and want to refine your skills, IPS is the way to go. If you love photography and want to learn in a fantastic location right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, you should come to workshops this fall. It just doesn't get much better.

To see some of my shots from the week, visit my photo blog.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today I am home

After four weeks of crazy coming and going, I am finally home. Just for the weekend, but home nonetheless. In less than 36 hours, I enjoyed near-death hugs from siblings and heart-to-hearts with my parents, drank good coffee, danced around fireworks with my siblings like a crazy person, slept long and deep, and spent extended time alone with God.

These are things that make me smile, and draw my heart back home whenever I am away.

And since arriving home, I found a gun in the kitchen pantry, a miniature meat cleaver in the dish cupboard, and clean towels on dirty floors. I discovered mud and rocks in my bathroom sink, found myself playing the role of electrician because no one else knew how to fix a broken light fixture, and cleaned up chocolate pudding smears from too many places.

These things also make me smile, because I live in a family with six boys. And those things are just so.

I realized, once again, that my family needs me. They miss me when I am away, and not only because I can fix broken light fixtures and clean coffee pots. They need me because I'm the big sister. This is one of the reasons that I still live at home, and the reason that I choose to stay involved in my siblings' lives. I know they could get along without me— they have before. But right now, God has me here— in body and soul— and I wouldn't change a thing.

Where else do I get the chance to see change and be change, as I invest in six mighty men of valor and leadership? My influence is more visible in their lives than I— or they— would like to admit. Where else can I pour myself into two women as beautiful and precious, who will one day change time and history by their quiet confidence in God as they walk out His calling?

The oldest sister role is challenging, for sure. But here I am, and there they are, and these things don't change. So I fall on God's grace, and learn love and humility, and change the world from my home.

There is no place that I would rather be.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Saturday, June 06, 2009

IPS Prizewinning Photography | Charlotte, NC

I spent last week teaching an IPS workshop called Prizewinning Photography in Charlotte, NC with my dear friend Mandy Novotny. To say that we had a blast would be an understatement. I can think of few things more gratifying than spending a week teaching about the things that I love— God and photography. Seriously... does it get any better than this??

To see some of my shots from the week, visit my photo blog.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I made some new friends tonight.

It started with a few older friends. While waiting for the other half of a frisbee team, I pulled out my journal and crayons and all of the pens I could find in my bag. The rules were simple— draw whatever you want with whatever color you want, but as soon as you lift the pen/pencil/crayon off the paper, the journal passes to the next person. We doodled for awhile, but the arrival of new people (and a frisbee) distracted my fellow artists, and they went on to play other games.

I still sat in the middle of the basketball court, and soon new friends joined my game. They were younger friends— 11, 10, 7, and 6, to be precise— which made the doodles a lot more fun. And they were brand-new friends, so we changed the rules of the game. This time, we had to share something about ourselves before doodling.

It was simply grand to sit there and watch faces light up, and stories come out, to see trust given and earned and received, just in a short conversation over a page of odd doodles.

It made me think of conversations with God. He tells me about Himself and I share my heart with Him. The more I know of Him, the more I trust Him, and the more I give myself to Him in surrender, the more I see His trustworthiness. And He enjoys this relationship.

It reminds me of a quote by Jerry Bridges— "Has it yet gripped you that when God looks at you today He sees you clothed in the perfect, sinless obedience of His Son? And that when He says, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased,' He includes you in this embrace?" (The Gospel for Real Life)

And these crazy doodles on the slate of my life, these insanely crazy marks that don't make any sense to me, they are beautiful signs of God's love for me, and the fact that He delights over me.

Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. —Zephaniah 3:16-17