Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Definitions



TRAVEL :: to go from one place to another. journey. to proceed or advance in any way. to move in a fixed course. wanderings.


JOURNEY :: the traveling from one place to another. a distance, course, or area traveled. a passage or progress from one stage to another.


PILGRIMAGE :: long journey, undertaken as a quest.





Blessed is the man whose strength is in [God], whose heart is set on pilgrimage. — Psalm 84:5




Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.Mark 6:31



:: just a few of the thoughts swirling around in my head as I go to sleep tonight ::

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

[wanderlust]

::wanderlust::
a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

Today I just want to jump on a train and go somewhere.

Today.


Grab my suitcase with a few clothes, put my camera on my back, and just go.

I don't want to leave. Leaving is different than going. When you leave, you may not come back. But when you go, it's just going. And I would come back, of course... someday.

Right now, though, I just want to go.

but i can't

I have work to do here, now, in this place. I can't leave, and I can't go.

Not yet, at least.



I wonder why I am so ready to go, so ready to jump up and move on to the next thing?

Ready to go, ready to travel, ready to explore, ready to wander.

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love."

I guess the "traveler's itch" isn't always a good thing, is it? I suppose that maybe I need to learn to sit and rest more often, learn to enjoy the staying, as well as the going.

So I'm trying to sit down and rest as I wait, instead of standing by the railroad tracks, waiting for the train. I'll probably enjoy the waiting more if I rest while I do it.



[photos by the amazing Hannah Copeland, aka, "Moose"]

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Journal Entry | Resting

My youngest brother, Jedi, is on the phone with his new best friend, whose name he can't remember. My sister Amie is a nanny for Wesley's family (the boy on the other end of the phone), which is how the two boys met. At the moment, they are trying to play long-distance tic-tac-toe, but seven-year-old male communication can't conquer space. Yet. They finish their conversation, and Jedi skips outside.

I love living at home.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table sipping on a cup of English Breakfast tea. Beef is in the crock pot, rice is on the stove, and corn is almost finished. Jedi pops his head in the back door— "Oh my gosh, it smells like the best thing ever." And back out he goes again. I wonder why he came in...

I'm relearning rest. Again.

I've spent the past two days processing. Analyzing myself, praying through weaknesses, getting counsel from friends. I realized that I'm on the verge of burnout... but in a different way than before. Mental and emotional burnout is different than physical burnout. Harder to identify, harder to deal with, harder to heal from. So I'm relearning rest, and building rest into my life— now— so that I don't burn out later. Like, next week. Or tomorrow.

Here are some ideas. I'm already working on more. What helps you to rest? Do you have any more suggestions for me?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A rose by any other name...

I love names. I love their meanings. I love it when parents name their children with purpose. Love knowing that my name means "Princess," and that my name constantly reminds me of my right standing with God because I am redeemed from spiritual "rags to riches" in Christ Jesus.

This morning I sorted through some Kenya files, renaming specific portraits with the children's names for quick and easy identification.

Oh, what names! People don't use names like this anymore. And I absolutely love them.

Names like...

Farhiya, which means "joy."


And Gift. Wouldn't it be amazing to have a son named Gift?


Or Innocent. Yes, that's his real name. Isn't that precious?


And her name is Rukia. I love the way it sounds.


One day, when I have children, I want to name them with meaning and purpose. Like these children.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Monday



Now, this song isn't exactly how today has gone, but I like it an aweful lot, anyway. Probably because I've had these days before. Here's to Monday, and to a fabulous week.

Ho-Hum | Nate Hale

Now don't get me wrong, life is great and everything,
But there are just those days
When you get stuck in a rut and everything feels the same
You do it over and over.
And whatever it is, it's the feeling that you get
When you're walking through a cold rain.

And you say "Ho-hum, ho-hum, and oh, well."

And since when did everyone trade in their native tongue
For this demonic monotone
This week is getting kinda dull, yeah, it's fading into gray.
I need this pace to change.
I just want to sleep, want to sleep this day away
Wake me up when it's over.
I just want to sleep, want to sleep this day away,
Wake me up when it's over.

Ho-hum, ho-hum, and oh, well.
Ho-hum, ho-hum, and oh, well.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Grace


Grace Mazira.

Grace reminds me of Amy Carmichael. She is mother, friend, and confidant to every person she meets.

Grace met Ngao when she was attending YWAM's Discipleship Training School (DTS). She was a student. He was an teacher. They weren't supposed to fall in love. But they did, anyway. And she has followed him, and supported him, and worked alongside of him through thick and thin.

Eighteens years of service in YWAM. Raising a young family in a border town between Kenya and Sudan, falling asleep night after night to the sound of gunfire outside her window.

She gives her heart to every single place that she has ministered, and, consequently, experiences the pain of leaving home and adopted family every place that she leaves.

She was in a plane crash, once, and survived, only to get right back on another plane later that day because someone had a need.

She worships with her whole heart. She trusts, even when she cannot understand. She loves Jesus more than life itself. And she is one of my heroes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ngao


Ngao Mazira.
Modern-day Hudson Taylor and George Mueller rolled into one person, in Kenyan form.

He was raised Muslim.
Converted through a serious of radical and miraculous events.
Served with YWAM for 18 years.
Worked on the Sudan/Kenyan border, during which time he flew at night into bombed-out Sudanese villages to rescue injured people and bring them to Kenya for care.
Loves nature. New the name of every animal we saw on the Safari.
Wants to see the Mississippi River before he dies.
Dreams of getting the school self-sufficient enough to "retire" from work in Mombasa to move to Sudan to work for the rest of his life.

Loves Jesus more than anything.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The bead lady


"It is enough. I am grateful," said the Bead Lady. Her sincerity melted my heart. She rested quietly on the green couch in Ngao & Grace's sitting room surrounded by mounds of paper bead necklaces and bracelets and earrings, glistening like bits of shiny rainbows.

Her name is Sophie, but I call her the Bead Lady. She is one of many holy saints that I have met on this trip. I wish I had the time to sit and listen to all of her story.

Sophie is a pastor's wife. Her husband's heart is to reach the Muslim community, and because of his work, his salary is very low. Sophie makes paper bead jewelry to augment their meager income so that her husband can do the work of God. She started out doing jewelry on her own, but now she employs six young Muslim girls to help her. As they roll paper, and coat beads, and string necklaces, she talks with these girls about Jesus Christ and how He loves.

The Bead Lady is a holy saint, like those men and women of old I hear in stories. She is sincere in her gratitude, and clothed with humility. And she is one small reason that I am glad I came to Kenya.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kenya Introductions



I just finished sorting, editing, and exporting Kenya. I love that place. I love the people. I hope to go back... someday.

As I said before, I want to share it all with you. The smell of spices that hang in the air. The sound of 364 children singing and playing and shuffling their feet, mingled with cows and car horns. The beauty of the landscape, the red-brown dirt, and the resilient spirit of her people.


And those stories.

I wish I could tell you all of the stories that I know, and I wish that I had the time to gather more of them. That, at least, is something that I can share with you. And I will.

To-do lists? Really?



Last night I sat down with my to-do list, and realized that the unwritten list was three times longer than my written list. And the unwritten list is the one that's important.

Blast.

IPS. Portrait edits. Wedding edits. Kenya pictures organized. Kenya pictures compiled for slideshow. E-mails answered. Website design started. Logo design brainstorm. Photography class schedule. Photography class content. Tutoring sessions planned. Italy in the works. Business counseling session. Portrait sessions scheduled. Clients contacted. Thailand project. New business cards. Plane tickets. Art show prints printed. Marketing ideas, via Twitter & Facebook.

Oh, help. I need it.

Sometimes I wonder if my to-do list is more distracting than it is good. If, perhaps, in my quest for productivity and excellence, I end up reducing my ability to influence. If I truly want to love God and love people, does a to-do list help or hinder?

Hmmm. Add "p0ndering to-do lists" to my to-do list.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New times



I started a new journal yesterday.

New journal. New chapter. Renewed passion.


Every new journal signifies a new chapter, a new step in this grand adventure I call life.

My new journal is blank. Completely blank. No lines, no boundaries, nothing to limit or direct.

Blank.


White space unnerves me. An empty canvas intimidates me. I'm not sure what I think about a blank journal.
I just have to wonder what God will write in the course of this blank journal/new chapter.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Publishing, proclaiming

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns." —Isaiah 52:7

This is my calling.

And now the question, how on earth do I walk this out, now?

And then again, why on earth do I yearn for other things in life to fall in place when I have such clear definition for my life right now?

Why do I want marriage so much, when I have this life, when I see God's hand at work in me, when I know I can't do this later in life?

How can I make the best use of this time, now, since this is where I am called to life, now?


Saturday, September 05, 2009

On the road again...



I'm sitting in the DCA airport, trying to post this before I have to rush onto the plane. I love airports. They make me so very happy. A friend recently asked me if I ever get "saddle sore," since I'm on the road so much. Yes... and no. Every time I pull out a suitcase to fly somewhere or set my alarm for 4am to drive somewhere, I think, "I don't know how much more I can handle." But all of that dissipates as soon as I get on the road or board the plane.

I love going. I love coming. I love being, and I love being away. I love the journey almost as much as I love the destination. I suppose it's only natural that I, a child of God on my way from this pseudo-reality and on to my real Home, should love the journey. Psalm 84:5 says "Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." I think, then, that I am blessed.

Wonder where I'm going? My fabulous and amazing photography workshop school/group— the Institute in Photographic Studies (IPS)— is having a reunion for any former students. My favorite out-of-town people, all converging on the same little town at the same time, in a breathtaking location (Manitou Springs, Colorado)... who could dream of missing such a place? I'm excited.

I'll be without Internet for the next five days. If you need to contact me, call or text. If you don't have my number, then e-mail me and I'll get to you when I can. Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Friday, September 04, 2009

NEED


I'm sorting through my images from Kenya.

Joy. Need. Emptiness. Fullness. Questions. Contentment. Fear. Love.

So many emotions pass before my eyes in these images, and pass through my soul with the memories.

What do you do when confronted with need? How should you respond? The world is full of needs. I am incapable of meeting all of them. How do I know which needs to work for, which needs to share with others so they can meet, and which ones to just let fall, and hope somebody else catches them?

The more I think and pray through this, the more I am convinced that the Gospel of Christ is
the only thing that redeems horror and pain and fear and rejection and abuse into something beautiful and joyous and praiseworthy. It is the only thing that changes lives, the only thing that can change this world.

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" — Mark 8:36.

What does it profit a person to give them clean water, and leave them without the Living Water that will cure their thirsty soul?
See John 4:1-42

How does it improve a village to give electricity, but leave their hearts in darkness?
See John 8:12-30

How do I best communicate the Gospel of Christ to those in need?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Eyes & stories


A good portrait is all about the eyes and what they say. It’s the eyes that define the person— tell the loves and the disdains, the joys and the sorrows, the emotions and the barriers. It’s the eyes that draw us or push us away. Sometimes that means a portrait may not even show the eyes, but that, too, tells a tremendous story about the person. The eyes are, truly, the window to the soul. Which is why just one well-made portrait “can accomplish the same thing that 100 hours of documentary work, reveal a person’s true character.” (Scott Strazzanta, Chicago Tribune)

Portraits are my work. I spend my days storytelling with my camera, in a similar way that photojournalists spend their days storytelling with their cameras. The difference is that I tell about the person’s soul, and the role of the photojournalists is to tell the story of the context in which the soul lives. They both have a vital role in the world of stories. But they are very different.

What story do you tell? What story do your eyes tell?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Driving to New Jersey looks like...

Today. It has been a very long today.

I left the house (with Mom, Elsie, & Jedi) at 6am, with 3 hours of sleep and one hamburger patty in my fuel tank.

I drove for 14 hours. With very few stops.

I discovered with absolute glee that today is September 1st— which means Starbucks is selling Pumpkin Spice everything. Add a quad grande ristretto pumpkin spice americano to the fuel tank by 6:15, thank you very much!!

I listened and laughed heartily at witty descriptions of love's mishaps in the form of an audio book entitled
"Damsel in Distress," by P.G. Wodehouse. Listened because it kept me awake. Laughed because the author is a genius, and because sometimes I felt I could relate.

I drew paisley flowers and geometric butterflies in my journal to occupy my hands while the story occupied my mind. Then I passed my journal to the backseat, and Elsie & Jedi took their turn.




I learned that New Jersey is actually a beautiful State... once you get off the main road.

I prayed big things for a friend.


I remembered just how much I love to drive Volkswagens.

I drove home at dusk down a windy country road with the heat on and the windows down, blaring Mozart.

And all day long I remembered my need for God

A good end to a good day, I think.

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