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.

 

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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

week seven (1 of 2)week seven (2 of 2)week seven (7 of 9)

 

 

 

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)

Proclamation

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. So, let’s start with Jesus.

“Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7

YWAM is kinda known for being a vessel God uses to reveal to people things about themselves they didn’t know were there. For me, that meant anxiety shrouded in arrogance.

It meant that when I came before the throne of God, I believed He would only accept me if I felt I was behaving a certain way. However, my head knew this wasn’t a right way of thinking, so my heart in pride believed I wasn’t trying to be this certain way, it was simply the Holy Spirit working in me because I’m such a good Christian and I don’t believe those lies like all the other “believers” in the room trying to earn their salvation (ugh, fools).

When I entered a situation that made me uncomfortable, such as living in a dorm with twenty other girls, I would draw back and search for ways I felt excluded. The reality was that I was retreating myself while they were all being welcoming and loving.

It meant that when Jonny and I began to get more and more serious, I freaked out because of all the what-ifs and pushed him away while clinging to his embrace, putting him through confusing turmoil because of my selfishness. All the while, he never failed to be comforting, understanding, and forgiving.

But God is gracious. In tenderness, He revealed the lies and the disparities cluttering the sanctuary of my mind and soul, our meeting place. Daily, He helps me sweep out and restore it. I’ll never be perfect, but soon this will be one more battle conquered.

Instead of focusing on all the tiny possible negatives, all the tiny what-ifs, daily I’ll engage the small, sweet moments of joy. Instead of wondering if I measure up, I’ll rejoice in each instance of fellowship with the souls surrounding and my Almighty God. Instead of allowing fear to reign in the dark corners of my thoughts, I’ll open the door for Jesus’s love-light to flood.

Love-light that breaks down social barriers and raises shamed adulterers to their feet, because who of us has not sinned? Love-light that opens blind eyes and heals crippled legs, but then says “Go, and sin no more.” Love-light that would be tortured to the point of death, all the while thinking of your face and crying within Himself “She’s worth it.” Love-light that cares more about His bride knowing and trusting Him than about anything we have done or could do, because we are His aloneAnd that overrides anything fear could ever tell me.

Serenity_all rules

Each Friday I hope to post a little update like this, complete with photos capturing the past seven days. And if I forget, I invite you to please hold me accountable.

Serenity_light and shadows Serenity_break all the rulesSerenity_one element

Serenity_moment

Please excuse how out of focus this is; it was just too precious of a moment for me not to capture and share it.

See you next week!

XOXO

Out of the Dust

Last Friday we had our first media day, which also meant our first photo assignments! The assignments were to take two pictures capturing our dreams for this season, and two capturing our passions. Well, here you go!

unnamed

“Beloved.” “Intricate.” “Worthy.” All statements every Christian woman I know has a hard time believing, but is so true of all of us. My first passion: helping people see their intrinsic beauty because they are human.

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Society rushes around us so violently, telling us what to do and what to think, including Christian society. My first dream: learning to stand firm in my own self despite what others may say or think.

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It wasn’t until today that I realized the depth of truth in this statement, but I have always struggled with a mild social anxiety, fed by pride’s denial. My second dream for this season: learn to live without fear and starve the lion of egotism.

unnamed-1

So much of daily life is overlooked for its normalcy. My second passion: discovering and celebrating the beauty of the small things.

XOXO

A Teeny Little One

On my way to YWAM, I stopped in California to see my boyfriend. In short, it was amazing. Spending time with Jonny and his family provided some much needed refreshment, both in physical rest and spiritual rejuvenation after what has been, and now continues to be an insane season.

I had been to California twice before in early high school, but seeing it as a local felt so different. The juxtaposition of old, beautiful, rich history and fresh opportunity with dusty sins and barren, shallow hopes is astounding. Although the drought is fierce as ever, signs of life still remain in hidden corners.

While all of this was lovely, the most touching part of the trip was by far the Monfredas. I can’t begin to express the love I have for and felt from this family. From the moment I stepped off the plane, their hearts were open to me, showing me the purest, most generous tenderness of Christ.

Anyways, here are some pictures from the trip 🙂DSC_0192DSC_0191 DSC_0187DSC_0178DSC_0174DSC_0168DSC_0162DSC_0145DSC_0033DSC_0026DSC_0020DSC_0016DSC_0015DSC_0304DSC_0300DSC_0297DSC_0010DSC_0009DSC_0309DSC_0308DSC_0307DSC_0281DSC_0278DSC_0277DSC_0270DSC_0266DSC_0265DSC_0264DSC_0262DSC_0260DSC_0259DSC_0258DSC_0257DSC_0254DSC_0247DSC_0238DSC_0237DSC_0235DSC_0231DSC_0229DSC_0208DSC_0217DSC_0218DSC_0220

There are probably some repeats from a previous post, and it’s probably pretty clear what my favorite view from the trip was, but either way I hope you enjoy!

XOXO

Hungry Hearts

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying “Holy, You are.”DSC_0264

Do You feel the rush
Hungry hearts
Grateful, we push
Forward to Your arms.DSC_0237

United purpose
Single Spirit
Fragrant roses
We lift our souls to You.DSC_0206

One thousand tongues
Words of fire
We lift our souls to You
Lift us higherDSC_0244

Joy resounding
From the trees, the sky
We lift our souls to You
Lift us high.DSC_0270

Do You hear the sound?
Hungry hearts
We are one thousand
Crying ‘Holy, You are.’DSC_0277