Saturday, November 5, 2016

Who We Are


I saw this picture the other day in a video. It was taken almost 7 years ago and just a candid snapshot, but something about it made me stop and think about how I've spent my adult life. This is my resume; right here. Standing in the sand in México, covered in dirt, trying to do everything I can to have a conversation with a family that speaks a complete different language than my own. Sometimes you look back at life and wonder how you got to where you are. This was one of those moments. 

I never thought I would spend my 20's working through a language barrier that I had no clue how to speak when I began. I didn't think that I would teach people how to build houses. I didn't think that I would work out of the country, and especially not in a country that I previously had no connection with. And I definitely didn't think that I would stand before thousands and tell them about Jesus and a faith I was only trying to work through and understand on my own. 

You see, I am nobody special. I am no pillar of the faith. I am no great architect. I am definitely no linguist. I am dirty and broken and a hood-rat and totally rough around the edges and completely within. This journey is one that I have fought with my whole life, and have been totally beaten and bloodied from the war. 


I still look back at these pictures and know that I am nothing but willing. That is what I am though; with my whole heart. And to be honest, I don't know why. Except for the fact that deep down in the recesses of my soul I believe that the creator that made me also has the best life set out for me. And no matter how much I don't understand or how much it hurts, I know that there is nothing that I could do to write a truer story on my own. And that is the story I will fight with all my whole life to live.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

What I do with My Days!

We all have a story to tell! Check out how we're equipping you to tell stories that need to be heard and join us in our work in the Amazon this December 1-10, 2016! Hit up Photoserve Amazon for more info!!


Friday, August 19, 2016

Little Boy in Aleppo and Why Photography Matters


For years I wondered, "Why Photoserve?" Why give all of our time and efforts and energy to create an organization that shares the stories of those unheard around the world. On nights like tonight, I know exactly, "Why Photoserve." Because tonight an image stopped me in my tracks. Tonight a video brought me to tears. Tonight I sat in a hotel room overlooking Philadelphia and wept for the innocent victims of the war in Syria and for those that are now considered refugees because they have lost their homes to war. Tonight, an image brought light to a war that has been going on for years. Tonight a video made a reporter cry. Tonight, this boy made us care.

Please take the time to click on this picture and watch this video. It is not the image that captured me, but the video that brought me to tears. This is one of the most touching reports I have ever seen http://cnn.it/2bzGHZw

















This little boy’s name is Omran and tonight, the world learned his name. Omran’s story is a picture of what happens every day in Syria. However because of his story, for a moment the world stopped and cared. Some will even go on to do something with the emotions that they feel. They will use their voice to raise awareness. They will give to programs that are fighting on behalf of these children. They will do something more than just sit and stare. 

And Omran’s story reminded me why I believe so much in the power of photography and why we do what we do. On my most challenging night, I want to push through my struggles to create an organization that fights for them; for Omran. I want to become a better photographer, for them. I want to learn to tell better stories, for them. I want to capture hearts and minds, for them. Because I know that if I can create something that makes another person stop in their tracks and make a change to better someone else’s life; then my life’s mission is complete.


To find out more about what you can do to help thousands of kids just like Omran that are fleeing the war in Syria, check out http://bit.ly/refugeeWV and consider becoming a Refugee Responder. You will be a part of helping to provide immediate relief for families affected by this war and helping to establish “Child Friendly Spaces” within refugee camps to give these kids a safe place to play, to take classes and to receive art therapy to walk through all that they have experienced. There is something that you can do to step in and remind these children that they are not alone, they are not forgotten and we will fight for them. http://bit.ly/refugeeWV

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hillsong : Week 1


"Thoughts on being on tour with a band, when you have no idea how to be on tour with a band."

My first week on tour with Hillsong was a blur. So much was new and unknown that I can't remember feeling so lost and out of place in a long time. I didn't want to forget my first impressions navigating this world so I wrote down my thoughts from my first three days on tour. Although so much of this has become familiar now, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to share my first impressions of this experience with you!


So I'm out on tour with Hillsong right now and this whole experience has been Bonkers! Even that sentence alone is the weirdest thing to me, "I'm out on tour with Hillsong." What? Why?! Because Hillsong is using their voice to get people involved with World Vision and helping the refugees that have been displaced because of the war in Syria. World Vision is working in countries surrounding Syria to provide food and water and creating safe spaces within refugee camps for to learn and work through what they've experienced with art therapy. I'm here on this tour with Hillsong helping World Vision get others involved with the work that this band has been so touched by. 

And... my first week on tour was the weirdest! I could not feel more like a fish out of water in this world. I realized as I was talking to a friend the other day that I would have felt more comfortable leading a group of strangers through a foreign country than on this tour. And that is because everything is foreign to me and everyone speaks a tour language that I am just now finally learning.

Day 1 for me was like being a kid in school and having no clue what to do. I followed around my fellow World Vision rep trying to take in as much as I could and attempting to not feel totally lost. Thankfully my World Vision counterpart is keen to this rockstar scene and showed the ropes to me. Honestly, at some point it just became humorous because even life's basic tasks were unfamiliar to me!  

This is a whole different world and you have to learn the way it works and the lingo to operate here.  Until I got the routine down, the first few days were rough! Let me give you an example of the questions I found myself asking the first three days just in case you ever find yourself on tour with a band:

- How do we know where to go? gaff tape - seriously, in the arena gaff tape is key. It leads you everywhere and is put down every morning by production like arrows on the floor to lead you where to go.
- Where do we eat? Catering
- Where do we shower? Female staff room
- Where do you get your towels? The box in the hallway
- Where do you put your towels? I'm still not positive ;)
- Where do we sleep? In a bus (that changed multiple times for us the first 3 days)
- How do I get into my bunk? Stair step from bunk to bunk
- How do we get onto the bus? Passcode on the door / That is written above the door

And on. And on. And on....

And then I got the run down on bus life etiquette and all the bus rules and about "bus food" after the show and how this bus is like our tour family.  And despite the constant lack of sleep that seems to go hand in hand with this tour, I'm excited to get to know these people and become a part of this crazy tour family.

It's so strange to be grown and to find yourself in situations where you have absolutely NO  again. You feel like a little kid wading their way through the hallway on the first day of school. But it is so good for my spirit to be humbled and to be in situations where I have to learn all over again. This is growth. And this will never be totally new again. It's already becoming familiar; so I wanted to take the time to write this experience down for when it is no longer brand new.

God has led me into a lot of places in my life, especially during this season of "Confidently Wandering." This isn't an experience that I ever thought I would be in, but I'm so grateful that I am. I want to take in new experiences like water; to grow where I am lost and to become stronger in my weaknesses. This tour has definitely brought out all of the above in me.


























Saturday, June 4, 2016

Rocking horses + Skeleton keys


Dear Jesus,
When I said lead me anywhere, I did not mean Algonquin, Illinois. Yet somehow that is exactly where I am. At a quaint little B&B in the middle of nowhere Illinois. 

I came here for work and basically that's all I wanted to do. Get on an airplane, get in a rental car, get to my hotel, shut the world out and work. Yet when I put the address in my GPS, it drove me here to this cute little B&B in the middle of nowhere. 

No.

That was not the plan.

And as I walked in I became more and more sure that I was in an episode of Punked.

Rocking horse  ✔ 
Kitty cat  ✔ 
Lots of guests that I have an assigned time to eat breakfast with  ✔
Wanting to shut out the world = not happening...

So rather than having coffee and running out the door to work this morning, I sat down for 45 min with a table full of strangers and had fruit and quiche and coffee. Inside I was dying.

As we went around the table and shared where we're each from, I didn't want to. I wanted to have my coffee and go. But everything in me knew what a perfect opportunity this was to share my work with Work Vision and Photoserve with six strangers that in my wildest dreams, I would have never known otherwise. And as I shared briefly, they started asking questions. All the right questions. And before I knew it, we were all talking.

An hour and a half later, the woman sitting across from me is in tears telling me how the first photograph she saw at 5 years old changed her life. The man to my left is sharing about how he uses his free time as a doctor to practice medicine in the mountains of Peru. And each of them are coming to the little church that I flew here to work with, so that they can walk through World Vision's child friendly space and refugee experience. It was beautiful; really. And all this from a conversation I never wanted to have in the first place.

Whew, engaging is exhausting. But it is so, so good. The most valuable connections, relationships and partnerships take work, but sometimes I just want to shut the door and be done. However in the strangest ways and in the places that I would never choose to be, God sits me down and reminds me that He is here. And that if I'll make the effort to be present too, there is far more work that He wants to do.



Friday, June 3, 2016

Something Greater


Home was nothing that I intended it to be.

It was filled with laughter and giggles and "kan-jam" and friends and graduations and slumber parties and worship and family. It was seeing my friends' kids doing new things and throwing a football and chasing the older ones. It was playing basketball with my younger brother and staying up for hours talking to my sister on her graduation night. It was helping my twin sister figure out what to do with a tired baby and driving around in the middle of nowhere, forever to talk about life. And it was processing with my friends and family and learning from the seasons of life that we are in and helping one another grow.

But home wasn't any of the things I intended it to be. I intended it to be hours of work that I needed to get done and a crossed off to-do list that now is only piling higher. I intended to accomplish SO much more than I did. So I sat down on this plane this morning at 7am feeling defeated. And then I got this text.

"This trip counts as a waste if you measure it by the amount of work you completed on your computer- I humbly submit that you measure it by something greater...."

Something greater. 

Wow. In all of this, I was totally missing this perspective. This... Perspective


There is a lot of work to be done, and I am ready to hit the ground running, but that text this morning reminded me that I was missing all of the value in what I did get to see and do and experience. I almost totally missed the value in it all!

With the ongoing struggle of our work/life balance only growing, I know that I'm not the only one that walks away at the end of the day feeling defeated by what they didn't cross off of their to-do list. Yet for this week, the measuring stick that I was using to gauge the value of my days was off. For those of you having a day or a week like me, I would offer you the same advice that I received this morning, "I humbly submit that you measure it by something greater."

Monday, May 2, 2016

Rahab


I stopped writing over the past 3 years. I stopped being still and started flailing. I didn't have time to sit still or even really a place to sit still anymore; I was in survival mode. I miss sitting still. I miss connecting with myself and with God and seeking inwardly. A part of myself has been missing these last 3 years. But I'm trying to pick up old practices that brought me so much life before. Today, I stopped and read this...

"And she lives among the Israelites to this day..."

This line is about Rahab, a prostitute, and is found in Joshua 6:25. It talks about the Israelites taking over Jericho and destroying everything there. Sparring nothing except this prostitute and her family, the Israelites burned everything in this town. Verse 25 says, "Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives, who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho."

They didn't save Rahab because she was a prostitute.
The also didn't NOT save Rahab because she was a prostitute.

They saved Rahab, because she realized that God was the one true God and she risked her life to help hide spies to complete God's mission.  In Joshua 2:11 Rahab tells the spies, "No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below."

We tend to focus so much on the fact that Rahab was a prostitute, but this defining factor for Rahab had nothing to do with her heart and what God was telling her. I can't help but think that God used the fact that Rahab was a prostitute as an example to help us understand who He will use in His story. It could have been Rahab the teacher or Rahab the homemaker, but it was Rahab the prostitute. To me this speaks to the fact that God will use anybody if we're willing to be used. I love the line that says, "She lives among the Israelites to this day." Rahab's decision to serve God despite the possibility of this costing her life, saved her and her entire family and changed the course of the rest of her life.

In a city that was totally destroyed, Rahab didn't allow her past to keep her from the new role that God had for her and she didn't allow her fear to stop her from stepping out and risking everything for what God was speaking into her life.

What a beautiful inspiration Rahab is to me.