Daughter of Ministry

For several years now I’ve debated writing this one, a post about what it meant to grow up a daughter of ministry. Family dinners few and far between. Christmas never spent around my grandparents’ fireplace. My own graduation lunch filled with funeral planning because a dear friend of the congregation had recently passed, and the ceremony was to follow immediately after this classic life monument. 

I’ve grown up knowing that one wrong slip from my mouth could cause a church split, along with the love-burden of responsibility that comes with planting a church.  With my parents having both been missionaries, going to YWAM (Youth With A Mission) was a bit of a conveyor belt thing to do, as well as a lifelong dream. Other than that though, I had never quite understood God’s purpose for bringing me there, specifically Hawaii when we had connections at a closer base. But He knew the events of my life up until that point had brought me to a place where I needed to leave, to get out of the alternating spotlight and shadow of being a pastor’s kid. As my own wedding bells were being prepared, a veil of mourning still shrouded my eyes. It was glued over me; no matter how I shook it refused to move.

So He removed me. He took me to a place where I could finally breathe in open space. 

There, I felt my pain. At home, I couldn’t. Life kept moving too fast, and there were too many people for whom I felt I had to be strong. There, I experienced the freedom to choose my own life-path (not that the choice was ever withheld from me by my parents- they’ve always encouraged me to take whichever route the Lord showed me. But as I said, I felt a love-burden). There, I realized the emptiness born of any life not heightened by that sense of urgency, because this was the life I was created for. So I chose to return. And the decision was mine. 

Because I never felt I came before the ministry, but that I was as called to it as my parents, it’s always been a joy, even in the most trying times.  While I rarely had family dinner at home, I had regular dinners with my family of 150 people, equally as intimate. Every Christmas I can recall was spent with this same family, singing praises and exchanging gifts around the church Christmas tree. And now, though I missed my graduation, I am looking forward to a wedding possibly larger than even any I’ve photographed, with all those same 150 and others who have joined us over the years, each of whom I deeply desire to be there, celebrating with us. They truly are our family. 

So to those parents I encounter on a regular basis, if fear of your kids missing out is all that is keeping you from ministry, as the daughter of ministry, it’s worth it. I may not have learned which fork to use, but the lessons and gifts given to me from my parents were far more eternal, and for that I will be ever grateful. 

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Pride’s Seduction

I had a dream the other night about a man. Specifically, Gatsby, but this time he was Marylin Monroe’s murderer (you know how dreams go).

He ran a little enclosed kingdom, with him ever at the center. While there was an overwhelming awareness that he could kill them at any moment, the people threw themselves at him. Something inside prayed he would. Somehow, somewhere deep inside myself, I was one of them, desperate for him to want me, yet aware it would end in death. There was a man working for him, reduced to a dunce from his abuses. Though he loved his master, he fought to help us escape this society of grey. 

I had just been outlined for reconstructive surgery, as women were expected to look a certain way there and I, apparently, had the audacity to break the mold. At the last moment I said no. The doctor was angry. The building was blue and made of glass. 

With a blink I returned to the city below. It occurred to me, then, how a boy can become a dictator: he had been given all he ever wanted. Like a mirage in the corner, his parents could be seen, terrified at the moment their smiles would waver, causing him to throw another tantrum. You know the look in their eyes: that scared, nervous smile, the too-quick, harried response of “He’s so smart. Look at him, such a good boy…”

He had killed Marylin  one night after dinner. Elaborately, with a set of wine, coffee, and her latest script to practice together. Something in all his subjects wanted desperately to be killed by him. It was glamorous. It made you someone. Walking around his house, a girl couldn’t help but dream of being loved by such a man of luxury, even if the one night stand ended in death. Tragedy made the story more romantic.

Every girl knew the outcome of a night with him, yet every girl begged he choose her. Every man envied him, prayed for his camaraderie, all the while knowing it would leave them as vegetables, walking round and round the ditch he drops all his old servants in. 

He survived off the women’s beauty, the men’s vitality. One kept him eternally attractive, the other eternally young. 

I looked back once more before jumping the wall. I knew the other side held life, truth, and my love. Devilishly handsome as ever, he returned the look, but this time the snake inside was clear. He was maniacal, hopeless, selfish, and alone. He wanted nothing of us but his own immortality.

Turning my head, I made the leap, and as feet met ground, I awoke.

Until writing this all out in my morning pages, it didn’t occur to me that this was my subconscious’s way of processing everything we saw in South Beach on Memorial Day Weekend. Throughout the rest of this week, the Lord showed me how my “seductive dictator” is pride, but we all have one. We all have our little hidden sin we keep quiet, letting him pump us full of the pain meds we crave as he digs the knife deeper into our backs.

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I say pride because that’s my struggle, but yours could be different. Idolatry. Lust. Laziness. Selfishness. Whatever it is, it’s never too late to release it to Him and jump the barricade.

“Though the lips of the forbidden woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil, in the end she’s bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps straight to Sheol. She doesn’t consider the path of life; she doesn’t know that her ways are unstable.” ~ Proverbs 5:3-6

“Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. Wisdom is supreme, so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; if you embrace her, she will honor you. She will place a garland of grace on your head; she will give you a crown of beauty.” ~ Proverbs 4:6-9

 

 

So What If It Hurts?

Lines of black
Lead to where
Visions fall flat
Folks forget to care

Lying hazily
In fields of white
Voices scream for meaning
Wishing for wings to take flight

All is starched clean
Perfumed with bleach
While underneath
Rotting sewage lies unseen

Can you taste the disease?
She’s coming on the breeze

Like bitter gall on the tongue
She’ll arrive with the setting of the sun


We’ve become so afraid of getting hurt we’ve boxed ourselves into little white-walled, cushioned caskets of what we think is safe. Minds overflowing with concerns for propriety, we can no longer enjoy the very people we got all dolled up to see and are trying so desperately to impress.

Dear Miami, I watched it happen. While we may have been the city of failures and dropouts, we were also the city of relentless dreamers. Having seen the worst come true, we could stare fear back into her prospective corner because so what if it hurt? At least we lived. There was the mettle that comes with knowing that no matter the outcome, the alternative of living wondering, wishing you had done whatever it was, or perhaps stood against the grain of whatever it was you felt pressured into, was worse than the initial trepidation.

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Beyond this, though, how often are we afraid to speak up or get close and open our hearts because of the mountains of what-ifs? What if (s)he gets offended or takes it the wrong way? What if when they see my heart, it’s too much for them or they criticize it?  What if I get hurt?

While some of these questions do help in building the boundaries necessary for any healthy relationship to flourish, if carried too far they become walls against intimate fellowship in a way that truly is detrimental to our emotional well-being and our Christian walk.

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But still so often we let the fear win. We box ourselves in, and then from that fear, as a mode of both protection and justification we start looking for all the sharp pieces in others that could possibly wound us, neglecting to realize the barbed wire fence we’re slowly building around ourselves. And discontment is birthed.

Darling, don’t let discontment steal your joy in community. We’re all imperfect, carrying residue of our old selves. Look past mine, and I’ll look past yours. Give grace to the ones who’ve hurt you, whether intentionally or not, and return to your circle. Even if they be scattered about the country or globe, return to them. In the Age of Technology, there’s no excuse for scorning community. Granted, be prayerful about the companionship you choose, but when the Lord directs you to a person or people, don’t neglect that, especially not because of pride.

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Sandcastles versus Marble Palaces

There is an undeniable scream inside all of us crying out for something more, a meaning beyond the world behind our eyelids. Like stormclouds gathering, we let the emotions roll in one after the other. Insecurity. Disappointment. Hurt. Bitterness. Perhaps they don’t always arrive in that order, but arrive they do. All are symptomatic of the same thing, what my brother calls “sandcastle pride.” We stop trusting entirely the Lord’s plan for us, and start searching out ways to make our dreams happen on our own. True, any dream worth anything at all requires work, but at what point does work transfer into idolatry?

In the words of one wise nine year old, “Start reading your Bible so you can learn how to get your life back on track!” We are desperate to be alive, yet terrified at what that would mean. Authors make millions off self-help books, either about gaining control or letting go, or doing one to achieve the other. We all dream of a higher existence of some sort, but only once we seek and pursue the Lord’s vision over our lives will we find any sort of the divine calling we crave.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ – this is the Lord’s declaration – ‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

It’s not about the work itself. It can never be about the work or else we’ll fall into either a cycle of obsessive over-achievement or bitter resolve to press on. Neither can it become about whatever earthly outcome, money, or fame, for in the end, once it’s been realized, there will be an inevitable sense of “that’s all?”

I’m not saying we all need to jump up and become ministers; He did make some doctors, filmmakers, musicians, or writers, etc, but there must also be some eternal goal for our lives or else what’s the point?

We all have some daily burden; what’s yours? The daily awareness of what is, and screaming response of what should be? This is your battleground, so wage war! There we find our sense of purpose, of vitality- there we bring bits of His kingdom to earth. And it is in this process of fighting for the “should be,” of fighting for some necessary change weighing on us so heavily it seems that to not strive to bring it about would be a moral slight, that we being to trade the sandcastle for the marble palace.

 

Break My Jaw, Give Me Life

Realizing the girls sipping coffee beside you are suddenly some of your dearest friends as gently as the sun slides into the Pacific’s blanket of blue. Giggling about the boys you secretly (or not so secretly) admire. Dreaming of weddings and shores yet to be kissed by our nation-worn feet. Writing letters. Discovering every flavor of Top Ramen. Waking up at 4:30 AM for morning yoga in Himalaya hiking prep. Phone calls to home. Redefining “home.” Realizing it’s a concept none of us will ever see the same again. Tears on staircases. Sins confessed over lunch. Broken stories and shattered hearts shared as the evening’s breeze drifting from the ocean chills our bones. Discovering our rythms have suddenly found us.

Faith being stretched in ways I could never have imagined. Miraculous healing that could never be faked. And over and over again Christ whispering in my ear “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Outreach is getting closer, and I feel the Holy Spirit working overdrive in all of our hearts. How is this already the end of week seven? While sometimes it feels like I’ve only arrived yesterday, others it seems like YWAM is eternal and home was only illusion. And yet the first quarter is already through. And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Old, weary relationships rebuilt and restored. Shaking in my Birkenstocks one moment, the next utterly wrecked by God’s exquisite purpose for the lungs wrapped inside these ribs. He has expressed and confirmed to me several times now that I am to go home after outreach. Somewhere in my innermost heart, part of me had firmly believed that wasn’t going to be the case, at least not for about a decade or so; that first my ministry would be brought to some unknown nation where I would reside with only the one my heart loves, the people we are ministering to, a camera, and a Bible. But no. I am going home. And I am so stoked.

Until then, I am here, and there is no where else I would rather be. Discovering the reason I have such a hard time with regular photoshoots is because I am built a photojournalist, and that’s simply different. These thoughts are a tangled mess, and I’m having a hard time unraveling them. Through prayer, nineteen years of liver issues that had crippled me in so many areas were healed in five minutes. Insight was given through the Spirit as to why my jaw refuses to heal: it’s my broken hip, so to speak. I’ve used my mouth to speak so much death, and words are my main form of ministry. It’s time only life flows from these lips.

Thus was week seven. Sorry there are so few pictures; it was an insanely busy and beautiful seven days. Until next week.

XOXO

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Return to the Garden

Here You find meweek five (7 of 33)
Broken and restored
Here You hold m
Wholly abandoned to Your love

Fighting and tired
I lay in the mire
You rescue me, wash me clean
Till I am white as snow

Striving against gloryweek five (5 of 33)
Giving fear my soul
On silver plates of agony
Feeding deception’s monster

In righteous fury
On clouds of fire
You race in, a rushing wind
Of jealous adoration, pure and holy

In Your arms I find myselfweek five (2 of 33)
Clothed in righteousness not my own
The beast is slain, set in dust evermore
And You carry me Home.

Here You find me
Broken and restored
Here You hold me
Wholly abandoned to Your love

In Your arms I find myselfweek five (22 of 33)
Clothed in righteousness not my own
The beast is slain, set in dust evermore
And You carry me Home.

week five (5 of 20)
week five (3 of 20)

week five (7 of 20)
week five (12 of 20) week five (13 of 20) week five (14 of 20) week five (16 of 20)
week five (17 of 20)

Psalm 81

When we were wanderingweek five (18 of 33)
Alone and afraid
You rescued us
Kept us from shame

In pillars of smoke
In clouds of fire
You whispered Your name
You gave us hope
Daily, we sang Your praisesweek five (19 of 33)
Adoration was hourly upon our lips
Upon our lips
To the Unknown God who saves
New moon rises
Sound the horn
We were lost and lonely souls
Now we’re found in You, Lord
Then as a storm, fear roseweek five (20 of 33)
Thunderclouds swallowing hope
Stealing breath from our lungs, so from Your arms
We run, run, run
And You say
Darling, come home
Darling, come home
Taste My love once more
Remember when you were lost and lonelyweek five (24 of 33)
In My arms, I carried you to safety
We lived in harmony
My bride and I
I long to drench you
In My love, fill your cup
I long to hold you
In My holy embrace
Remember how I led you
Through the desertweek five (32 of 33)
Pillars of smoke, clouds of fire
Singing joy to you all the while
Why have you gone?
Let Me hold you again
You’re tired and afraid
Let me keep you safe from harm
I’ll keep you safe from harm
Darling, come homeweek five (28 of 33)
Darling, come home
Darling, come hom
Taste My love once more.

You Are a Garden Enclosed, My Sister, My Bride…

The rain gently dances on my cheeks to the music of the girl singing below. The balcony has us lifted above the earth, beneath the stars. In a bag riddled with memories, I let her worship lull me to dreamland. With morning’s light I’ll waken, prepare the coffee, and enjoy Hawaii’s Saturday with women becoming sisters.

Legs are soaked. Drizzling turned to rainstorm, and the sleeping bags weren’t as waterproof as we thought. Open door couch dreaming is chosen instead. Except the fan, all is silent. In the morning I’ll wake with the same sisters, prepare the same brew in the same morning light. All is well with my soul.

Monday morning. Lectures begin, and I’m grateful for the ever-present Kona coffee. Within fifteen minutes I’m in near tears. It’s as if with the dawn, anxiety also wakens. Where do I fit here, I wonder? Am I getting the full experience? What if my lecture phase isn’t everything I dreamed of? Am I doing something wrong? And then the speaker states: “It is not about you. It is about serving Him for His sake.” 

A few days later, “It’s not a task of something we need to do, but a revelation of what we have.” When the speaker said this, it pierced deeper than I could have expected. I thought I understood the depths of Christ’s love for me, at least as much as I could. I thought I had grasped that it would never fail me. Until he said this.

All week we have been learning about how the fear of the Lord is entirely intertwined with intimacy with Him, and how it’s not a “check yes if this applies to you” type of thing, but rather it’s area-specific. While I may fear Him in areas of my physical well-being, but I didn’t in the area of my emotional well-being. Thus, there was a blockage of intimacy within that realm of my heart.

However, it still isn’t about me “doing” anything. In a room full of political activists and injustice fighters, this was hard for all of us to take in, it seemed. Instead, it’s about recognizing He is Lord in every area of my life, and accepting the love He has freely given, along with all the connotations of what that means. If He loves me, He will fight to protect me from utter emotional ruin. I may get hurt, yes, but then He will be there to comfort me and carry me through it. If He loves me, then I must be as intricate and beloved as He says I am.

“You have stolen My heart, My sister, My bride; you have stolen My heart with one glance of your eyes, one jewel of your necklace.” Song of Songs 4:9

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love.” John 15:9

This is a shorter post, but it captures the essence of my week: basking in the love-light of my Redeemer. Take some time to let these words soak in and over you. Remember how intensely and entirely and eternally you are adored by a relentless God.


Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures this week besides the cover photo, but I promise I’ll get more next week!

Until next time!

XOXO