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LIVE above THIS

12 Jan

since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. when Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
colossians 3:1-4

working on living above this world right now. I like things in this world, and i find myself wanting more of things in this world. but God tells us to set our affections on heavenly things, where our life is truly found. as a follower of christ, i can’t love both the world and love God…they are at odds with each other, and my increasing desire for one will decrease my desire for the other. i’m not just supposed to have a heavenly perspective, but to live a heavenly life right now. my earthly nature inclines my heart and mind towards earthly things…but God is faithful and so worth my affections and my focus.

when christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

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dying to self

11 Jan

Sometimes I wonder what I was really like back when I was single, and had little to no real responsibility in my life. I had no one to care for except myself, I spent hours alone, and spent my money on myself. As my joke goes with the mr…I did what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted.

It wasn’t until I was married that I started to more easily notice the sin in my life. When my life was joined with my husbands is when my sin started to come out…or maybe just when I started to notice it more. It’s as if when we first got married, we are both rough around our edges, jagged in our selfishness and stiff and stuck in our fleshly ways. God uses this relationship of man and wife to sand us down, smooth us out to be more like Jesus. God is glorified through our marriage as we die to ourselves in learning to love God and love each other, serve each other and help each other.

And when Lucia was born I began to have to die to myself even more, mostly in a physical way. Little ways of sacrifice, like sacrificing my sleep to wake up and feed her, and sacrificing time with the mr. to care for her needs. And I love taking care of her, and being her momma, loving her, but repeatedly I have to die to my own wants. At this stage it’s mostly physical things I have to sacrifice, but I just know that in the very near future it will be more. It will grow to be lying down my selfishness, my frustrations, my desire for other things, all to learn how God wants me to be a godly wife, a better momma, and how to grow as a follower of Jesus.

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds
John 12:24
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And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18
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All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him
2 Corinthians 3:18
the message

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momma yaya

21 Dec

We first met Toya, or as we like to call her, Momma Yaya, just over two years ago in Haiti. We traveled to Haiti on a missions trip, and Toya was our group leader for the week. Our hearts were forever changed after that one week in Haiti. Our friendship with Toya started that week, and has grown ever since. She’s a strong, passionate, faithful woman of God, and is currently serving the Lord through being a missionary in Cameroon Africa.

I admire her passion for the Lord, and the way she truly listens for God’s voice in her life. She doesn’t settle for a stagnate walk with God, but intentionally seeks His will for her life, even when it means it’ll be uncomfortable. She currently works with young women in Cameroon to teach them abstinence and what it means to be a Godly woman. She teaches them practical things like making soap and cooking, this helps them make an income for themselves and prepare for being a wife. She also goes to the local prison and counsels inmates, and works with the local orphanage. I’m challenged and encouraged by her faith.

One of the memories with Toya that stands out from our time in Haiti was visiting an orphanage. It was a last-minute visit, and only 4 of us could go. We went to the orphanage, there were about 30 kids there, ranging from babies to 17 year olds. They were so excited for us to visit them, they hugged us, sang songs, and asked us questions. As we left that night they crowded around us, hugging us, touching us and telling us they loved us. My heart instantly broke for these children, no parents to love them, protect them, teach them and care for them, no family to be a part of. That night my heart was churning from the experience, I was wrestling with God on some things…I talked to Toya about it and I’ll never forget what she told me…how she can’t wait to see the family that God has for us in the future, that she can’t wait to see our ‘rainbow’ family, kids from all over, looking all different ways. Her words have always stayed tucked away in my heart. And now, as we started our family with Lucia, I can’t help but wonder what our other children will look like.

So when we heard that Toya would be in the states for a few weeks, we had to make it work to see her. She was staying with some friends in Chicago, so we set a date and made the two-hour drive last Saturday. It was so good to see her, catch up with her and have her meet Lucia. The body of Christ is a beautiful thing, we first met her over two years ago, haven’t seen or talked to her since (except for a few emails) and we picked up right where we left off. We shared stories of how God is working in our lives, we ate good food, laughed and listened to each other. I’m so thankful for moments like this, genuine relationships that God puts in our lives to encourage and challenge us.
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thanksgiving week

23 Nov

This week has been an adjustment. Monday I went back to work, and the first day was tough. Not tough on me, but hard on Lucia. The adjustment of being with momma all day, every day, to now being with daddy all day has been hard for her. The first day was the toughest, but she’s been slowly getting better day by day. I am trying to focus on not worrying about Lucia, or obsessing over her schedule and whether she’s eating-sleeping-pooping-or-whatever-enough. I have to let go of having complete control over her schedule, and it’s been a process of God teaching me that instead of obsessing and worrying, I need to pray, and give it ALL to God.

God is teaching me to lean on Him, and I’m learning to not be consumed by obsessing over schedules, and to let go of feeling the need to control EVERYTHING. I know this is a life long lesson for me to continue learning, but slowly, day by day, I am trying to grow in this area.  So Monday was hard, but Wednesday was better, and hopefully today is a bit easier.

We had a low-key Thanksgiving this year, Ben came over and I made a feast of food for the three of us. We ate, relaxed, watched football, and even squeezed in a mini-photo-shoot of our family of three. This year I am beyond thankful for our growing family. I am humbled every day just looking at Lucia, and am so grateful for her! Tomorrow we will get together with my side of the family to celebrate Thanksgiving. So tonight I’ll be peeling 10 pounds of potatoes to make mashed potatoes for the feast. Tomorrow will be the first time a lot of the family will see Lucia too. It’s strange, now that we are a family of three I am looking forward to the Holiday’s in a whole new way.

job

7 Feb

The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
Therefore, men revere him, for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?
Job 37:23-24

blind spots

31 Jan

A couple days ago I read this post. Immediatly I felt a love/hate relationship forming with the subject of blind spots. The post explains how we all have blind spots during driving, and if we fail to check our blind spots while driving, we can harm ourselves & others by causing accidents. Simple enough. Check your blind spots before you switch lanes.

And then there comes personal blind spots. Things that we don’t see in our lives, that could hurt us or others around us. Blind spots in our communication, friendships, as a wife, as a daughter of Christ. That’s a nice idea…blindspots that others see but we don’t. I read the post and went about my day.

This morning on my way to work I started to think about it again. Blind-spots. Blind. Spots. Blind. Something in my life that I’m doing but cannot see that may be harmful or hurtful to those around me. Is God urging me to ask the people around me to tell me what my blind spots are as a wife, friend or in my communication? Can I ask someone to tell me what I do wrong and what I need to change? And I guess if I ask I must be willing to change, humbly accept their words and then pray and ask God to help me change.

I don’t know if I can do that, ask someone what they think my weak spot is. It might be just a little too humbling. Do I have the guts to ask the people closest to me these hard questions?

This was just a wee bit heavy to think about during my 8am commute. I know I need to pray for God to open my heart about what my blind spots are in communication, serving, loving others & and as a wife. I can’t get defensive and hurt, self-pity doesn’t lead to a transformed life for Christ. I have to ask God to help me be humble and open my eyes to see those areas, because after all, they are called blind spots because we really can’t see them.

And just to throw in a pic with this post…this is from our time in Haiti a couple years ago…loved meeting this sweet little girl.

to ethiopia?

24 Jan

What I’m about to write is close to my heart. So close to my heart that I’ve only shared this with a few people, like so few that I can count those people on just one hand. I’ve kept it close to my heart and fairly quiet because I don’t know if it will actually come into fruition or not. And I’m trying not to get my hopes up but trust in God’s will for this possible opportunity.

AJ & J are traveling to Ethiopia sometime in the next few months to bring home their sweet little boys that they’ve adopted. They’ve always thrown around the idea of having me come with them, and I have always said how much I would love to experience that and share in such a precious moment with their family.

See, I have this dream for using the gift of photography that God has given me for something bigger than just senior portraits and weddings. Not that I don’t enjoy those photographic opportunities, but I’ve dreamed larger, and far beyond those things. I dream of working for a missions organization and to travel to visit different missionaries around the world. It’s been a dream I’ve had for years, to not just visit the missionaries to encourage and care for them, but to document their ministry. To photograph the people they work with, their stories and their life. To capture the heart of what their ministries are about & the cultures that they have sacrificed so much to carry the name of Jesus to. To equip them through photographs & videos to be able to visually explain what they do on their mission field and the people they work with day in & day out. This is my dream. To travel with Dan, encourage missionaries and document their ministry through photographs & video.

So when I think about traveling to Ethiopia to photograph and share in part of the adoption process for AJ & J, my heart swells with excitement. It would be a dream come true to photograph the country of Ethiopia, the orphanages, the people, the culture and all of the beautiful threads woven in between that hold this country together.

About a month ago Dan and I started talking more seriously about this opportunity. We both agreed to pray about it and see where God leads us. I kept my prayer fairly simple but specific. “God, if you want me to go, please provide the funds, through booking weddings.” Up until this time I had received no inquiries about shooting weddings in 2012. In the next few days following my prayer, I received 5 emails from interested brides. Now, I’m not saying that this is God shouting “YES-GO to Ethiopia!”, but I do believe that this could be a few doors opening in the direction of me traveling to Ethiopia.

So I patiently wait for the answer, only time will tell if it all comes together. Funny how the more I think about it actually happening I get a little nervous. And so I wait, nervous yet excited about what the next few weeks could bring.

siena house

23 Jan
 I spent Thursday night making 2 huge pots of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup. All the while praying for the mouths that would eat the soup. The next night we braved the blizzard and drove the soup over to Siena House just a few miles from our apartment. The Siena House is a local home/shelter for women & children who are trying to get back on their feet after either losing their homes or jobs.
 
We walked in the back door to find piles of shoes lying on the floor. As we stepped over the shoes we saw the tiny kitchen to our left and bedrooms to our right. Straight ahead was the hallway leading to the rest of the home, and a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old, packing clothes into her suitcase, smiling as I walked by. I smiled & said hello, she continued to pack up her clothing and returned the hello. To her, this was her normal, strangers walking through the door day in and day out, and moving from house to house. I wondered, has she ever had a place to call home, a room to call her own, a home where there aren’t new strangers moving in and out daily?  My heart broke for her. I don’t know her exact circumstances in life right now, but my heart hurt for all of the kids she represented. Who don’t have a place to call home, don’t have both a mom & dad to care for them, love them, protect them.  All of the kids, who on a Friday night, are packing their pint size suit cases, moving to different shelter week after week. The list of unfortunate circumstances could go on and on, but after that simple hello, seeing her dark little face, not even knowing her name, I was thankful for the opportunity to care for her in a small way of making a meal.
 
There were a total of 11 moms & 11 children staying in the Siena House that night. We were hoping to stay and help serve the meal, but our new friend Patty, who runs the kitchen, said she had it covered and didn’t need any help. So we were in & out in less than 10 minutes. As we drove home I couldn’t help but thinking about that sweet little girls face and all the children she represented. She reminds me of the little faces I saw the night we visited the orphanage in Haiti. Those little faces that smiled back and me and said, “I love you, I love you” as I tried to hug each one of them. My heart ached as I thought about them roaming the streets of Haiti with no one to protect them. The millions of children that are hurting and growing up in families without stability and the love of Jesus Christ.
 
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,  and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Isaiah 58:6-12
 

how far can I lead?

17 Jan

We (can) preach the Gospel of Christ no further than we have experienced the power of it in our own heart.
George Whitefield

You can only lead some one as far as you’ve gone yourself…

sunday morning

15 Jan

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-becuase anyone who has died has been freed from sim. But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Romans 6:5-7, 17-18