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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.


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…

Freedom at Passion 2012

10 Jan


15 passenger van
12 students
13 hours driving
3 Hunger Games books finished
4 nights in a hotel
6 girls in ONE room
5 trips to Chick-Fil-A
Too many laughs to count
43,000 college students
4 talented bible teachers
7 gifted worship leaders/bands
27 million modern-day slaves
3 million raised to help END modern-day slavery
ONE awesome God that we serve

It’s hard to put into words what the trip was like. Every year I’m speechless after seeing how great the body of Christ is. This year the focus was on Freedom. It was beautifully woven into every film we watched, every song we worshiped to, every message we listened to and every dollar we donated.

In Christ we find freedom from our bondage to sin. We go from being slaves to sin, to being slaves to righteousness. Like a refreshing dip in a pool on a hot summer day, so was my experience with meditating on going from a slave to sin to a slave to righteousness. I still have much to process through and understand as I have freedom in Jesus Christ, but it was a light bulb moment for me as we discussed freedom.

As we watched the films and listened to personal stories from former slaves, it’s hard to imagine that slavery still goes on in our world today. Slavery isn’t a thing of the past. It was 3 years ago that I was first made aware of human trafficking & of women & children being sold into the sex slavery industry. I was shocked that this goes on today, and that I had never heard of it prior to coming to Passion. At that moment, I knew I could no longer continue to live as if I had never heard of this horrific problem. A problem that doesn’t just happen in other nations or 3rd world countries, but a problem that is rampant throughout the US. There are currently 27 million people trapped in the bondage of slavery. Since first learning of human trafficking. Dan and I have prayed and continued to give money to organizations that we feel God has led us to. This year, the Passion conference focused solely on educating us about human trafficking and modern-day slavery. They had 6 organizations that they raised money for to help with prevention, rescue & restoration in regarding to slavery. God exceeded our expectations with over 3 million dollars raised to help 6 established organizations.

His hand is still upraised
Isaiah 10:4b

goodbye 2011, hello 2012

9 Jan

Our new years eve was eventful, we shot a wedding up north and were back home & in bed by 2am. Much of the night was spent photographing and filming, but what I really treasure about it was the time we could spend together. In between shooting we slipped in tiny moments of creating memories, inside jokes and continuing to grow our love for each other. We even stole a moment after midnight to give each other a quick kiss among a room full of New Year’s Eve Wedding chaos.

Our transition from 2011 to 2012 seems to be symbolic of where we are in life right now. We finished 2011 shooting a wedding, and started 2012 with ministry as we led 12 college aged students to the Passion2012 Conference.

Much of 2011 was learning, growing and laboring over shooting weddings. We grew so much individually, and together as a couple. I grew as a photographer, communicator, director, administrator, and also as a wife, friend, sister and daughter. I labored, sweat, obsessed, stressed and so many other emotions over the weddings we shot in 2011. God taught me many things, most importantly being to listen to His voice in how I am to use the gift He’s given me. 2011 closed with me realizing that weddings in the future will simply be for family or friends, or as a springboard for using the money God blesses us with toward mission trips or donating for His name & His renown.

2012 started with us packing up a 15 passenger van and driving 12 college aged students to Atlanta for the Passion2012 Conference. More on the conference later, but God continues to humble me as I see my desperate need for His grace in my daily life. As a leader I’m beginning to see the depth of my depravity and total lack of ability to serve without His grace & strength. For a girl who doesn’t like crowds, being amidst 43,000 other people set my attitude over the edge more times than I’d like to admit, and then came God’s quiet voice through my complaining, a reminder to be joyful always. Overall it was a time for God to teach me to continue to pursue Him day in and day out, down to the very little and insignificant parts of my day. I feel privileged to have been a part of the conference, a part of raising over 3 million dollars to help end modern-day slavery & human trafficking.

So far 2012 is looking to be another eventful year with so many possibilities on the horizon.

Praying: for the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with AJ & J as they bring their boys home.
Cooking: Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Listening: to the Wallin Jenny’s
Missing: my sister and her 3 beautiful children

grand plans put on hold

27 Nov

We had grand plans of getting in the Christmas spirit by getting our tree and decorating the apartment today. But that was all put on hold with a rainy day. Maybe we’ll get to it tomorrow.

Dan has been meeting with some of the high school kids on Saturday mornings to talk through questions they have on theological issues. Last week they talked about babies and heaven. This week we started with asking if Jesus died for just some people, or if he died for everyone. Then the students wanted to talk about tattoos, drinking, movies and music. So we talked, and listened and talked and listened some more, and looked up what God’s word has to say. I am seriously amazed at how these high school students are making solid decisions to follow Christ day in and day out. They are choosing to stand firm in their faith in their high schools, in their homes, and even when no one else is watching. And I’m speechless that the Lord would allow me to be able to see the growth in these students and how they are glorifying them with their lives.

And just because all posts are more fun with pictures…

baby it’s cold outside

10 Nov

I woke up before my alarm went off today, a rare occurence, but I used the extra 45 minutes this morning to read through Proverbs 31 to prepare for this weekend. We have our annual fall retreat with the high school students this weekend and our focus will be on “How to be a Godly man & How to be a Godly woman”. And our secondary focus will be: night-time-laser-tag, worship, starbursts-skittles-candy-candy-candy, snacks-snacks-snacks, staying-up-late, laughing-talking-laughing-talking, sleeping-on-the-floor…

Yesterday brough the first official snowfall of the season. I laughed as I heard the radio personalities predicting snow flurries…but the joke was on me as I sat at my desk and watched the heavy flurries whip past. The flurries caused my already premature Christmas spirit to rise. So instead of fighting the urge, I embraced it. I did the only reasonable thing in early November, switched on A Very She & Him Christmas playlist.

I have to admit, it is by far the earliest I have ever turned on the Christmas music, and I feel ridiculously silly and full of joy all at the same time. Today brought a few more heavy flakes and cold temperatures, but it wont last for long. The weekend will bring temps back into the 40’s-50’s.

Looking forward to: a weekend filled with zero hours of sleep, but much needed bonding with the girls
Studying: what God calls me to be as a woman and wife in Proverbs 31
Wearing: footie pajamas with the girls all weekend
Wishing: for a puppy named Rocky (confession: this has been a long-time wish that will most likely never come into fruition…but is still a wish none-the-less)

photog happy hour

9 Sep

It was the perfect weather this past Sunday, sunny, cooler and a slight breeze. T and I took a group of girls out for a little photography happy hour. I don’t know how many pictures we actually took that will turn out, but there were plenty of laughs to go around.

here & there

2 Sep

“You will never make a difference there, if you cannot be at peace here. You cannot have a heart for missions, but not for the people around you. A true love of the gospel overflows and overpowers. It will be in everything you do, however drab, however simple, however repetitive”
Rachel Jankovic

Distance and things in life that seem far away add intrigue. Before we got married, I had visions of playing Suzy Homemaker, perfect weekend getaways, and candle lit dinners every night…ok maybe not every night, but at least 5 nights a week. Then the wedding came, and my perfect little picture of marriage was not what life brought. Life brought trials which produced deeper love between us and experiences beyond what we could have imagined.

More often than not, my mind is focused on our future, where will God take us? What will we be doing, who will we be serving, how oh so exciting will it be.

“You will never make a difference there, if you cannot be at peace here.”

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, thinks about such things.
Philippians 4:8

He > i

28 Aug

Oh Lord…
Just as I think my plate is full with lessons your trying to teach me, you reveal yet another aspect of my character that could use a little tending to. Although I’m not sure why this surprises me that you choose to reveal another ugly part of myself,  it makes me cringe to think I still need some teaching  in this area. Just this morning I prayed your would mold me into a woman who carries your name. A woman who is patient, kind, loving, sacrificial. Do you insist on showing me how ugly the opposites of the said qualities look before they are changed by the power of your Holy Spirit? Is this supposed to me motivation for me to change these undesirable parts of my character. Because I don’t really respond well to this type of ‘motivation’.
I mean how many more times is this ugly part of myself and my past going to keep arising?  And leave it to me to perceive confrontation on these things as rejection, dislike or any other number of reactions that cause my mind to wonder.

england…last day

19 Jul

It’s our last night here and it’s beyond what I could’ve prayed for and exceeded any expectations I may have had.


When I first got to Costa tonight she came right up to me and she was different, she carried herself different and had more peace on her face than I had seen in the previous days.

We had some small talk and shortly after she pulled a NT & psalms bible from her purse and said she had read it last night. We walked to the back of Costa and sat and she opened to the verses she had highlighted and we read them together and talked about each one. They were all in psalms, one on forgiveness. One on trusting god. One passage on trusting god when your enemies attack.
It was so amazing to talk scripture with someone who’s eyes were in the process of being opened to God’s truth. I could see that God had been working in her as she opened even more about her time last night and today praying and reading about God. She also said she had listened to two of the messages from the Passion DVD’s that I gave her. She really connected with Beth Moore’s talk about how she was sexually abused as a child and how she had to forgive that person.

I asked her what questions she has about God, or any experiences from her past…she brought up a story of her dad being near death when she was 7 years old and how as he was about to pass away, he said that he was ready to meet God and go home. The question she had was how he could be so ready to die. I asked her if maybe it was because he knew where he was going after this life. She thought about it and agreed. I asked if she believed in heaven & hell. She kind of said she did, but she believed in a version of purgatory where we are judged on the good/bad things we did, basically based on works. I read her Ephesians 2:8-9, that it is by grace we have saved and not by works that we get to heaven or have real life on earth.

I know she is going to commit her life to God.

I asked her several times if she felt like she was ready, and she said she thinks she was almost ready, and I encouraged her not to wait another day, but that it may be too late tomorrow.
I told her I wasn’t going to pressure her into praying, but that I would pray with her that night if she wanted, and that if I wasn’t around, she could pray with Joy or Darren.
It was the most amazing conversation I’ve had with a person who is searching, and is wanting life in Christ, but I’m not sure if it was her time yet, or if she already believes or not.
I love her and saying goodbye was very difficult…she didn’t want us to leave, and we gave each other several hugs, promising to find each other on facebook…

Did  I miss an opportunity?

God is so good.
As we spend out time in small group Mattia shares how Becca gave her life to Christ the past couple days. He is convinced she has committed her life to Christ. Becca is a child of the Lord, and it showed on her face.