Why wait?

Why do I wait?
Till storms threaten and tempests rage,
till dilemmas pull me in all directions?
Till it feels like everything good is taken from me
and I’m stripped of what I knew and loved?
Why wait till my comforts are gone
and I’ve hit rock bottom,
and I’m broken and barely holding on?

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Why do I wait?
Till the end of the day
when tired eyes droop from a long day,
or till everything goes wrong in a day’s time
and then I finally remember to call on God for help?
Why wait till I fully understand Him
till I can grasp with my finite mind,
this infinite God?

Oh my soul, why do I wait?

Why do I wait to rely on Him
to fling myself into His strong arms,
to entrust to Him this life that I can’t handle on my own?
What holds me back from giving in to blind faith
to trust this God that I can’t see,
but Who sees and knows everything about me?
What hinders my ability to hear and to know,
that He is with me?

Oh my soul,
wait on God.

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But do not wait to go to God.
Go to Him daily. Hourly. Moment by moment.
Till I am full and overflowing with Him.
Till my life is so wrapped up in Who He is
that onlookers will only see Him when they look at me.
Wait on God, because in this waiting
you will learn His character. He is good.
Creation will blend with the Creator. He will call it “good.”

Here, you will find Him.

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This waiting is not restless, useless waiting.
It is useful. It is restful.
Because in choosing to trust, in giving in to faith,
in letting go and surrendering, you will discover His life.
Abundant. Free.
You will find absolute peace in something
so much bigger, so much better,
so much wiser than me.

This waiting does not wait to turn to God.
This waiting runs to God
because this waiting knows that without faith
it is impossible to please Him.
This waiting relishes the moment
and does not fret about the future- shaky though it be.
This waiting does not control- it frees.
This waiting has hope.

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“When I wait, You strengthen my heart.” Psalms 27:14

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Baby Aviella {Africa: Part 4}

Two weeks (to the day) after we arrived in West Africa, my niece was born.

I babysat the older niece during my sister’s labor and delivery. The moment that I got the phone call that the baby had arrived, we were dancing and twirling in the living room. “You can come and bring Talia up to the hospital,” the brother-in-law said. I grabbed a flashlight and locked the house and we walked hand in hand up the dusty street to the Baptist Missionary Hospital. Talia talked non-stop. “Are we donna do see da baby? Is da baby a boy or a dirl?”

Once we arrived at the hospital, I had trouble finding the correct room. We went to the wrong ward, then we found out that they had been moved to a private room away from the maternity ward. Finally, a nurse figured out who I was looking for and led me down a long corridor. “There,” she pointed to a doorway with double doors leading into the delivery room. I knocked, but there was no answer. Moments later, the doctor appeared and told me to sit and wait on a bench in the hallway. “They’ll bring the baby out momentarily.” I got my first glimpse of the bundled up new niece through the glass doors that led to the delivery room.

In that same hallway, I caught this moment of my brother-in-law introducing Talia to her new sister, Aviella Joy.

046O8741The remaining weeks that we had with my sister’s family revolved mostly around this little girl. Sleeping, eating, changing. Oh, and yawning. Because quite frankly, being a newborn is exhausting.

046O9053 046O9499 046O9515 046O9520 046O0926 046O0853046O1396046O1411The neighbors raised eyebrows very un-approvingly at the sight of my putting Aviella in the fufu pounder for pictures. Just for an extra safety feature, my mom stood just out of sight of these pictures, arms extended- ready to be my extra set of hands in case something went wrong.

No one was harmed in the making of these pictures. In fact, Aviella slept soundly through the whole incident.

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When Skies are Grey

When skies are grey, I think of You.
Up there, sketching landscapes, etching horizons, doing what He does best as an artist; creating art and then showcasing it for all to see.

It’s in those quiet moments, when the wind hushes and the noise fades that I find worship to take over. Click. A moment of reverence captured.

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It’s in those unpredictable moments of chaos, when suddenly I take my focus off the pending problem and take the time to notice the light as it hits the treeline just so, spilling golden sunlight all around. Click. Another moment, tucked away in my heart.

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It may sound odd. You may not understand. (And that’s okay.) But this photo thing is so much bigger than me. I dreamed of being a photographer, yes. But I dreamed of doing a lot of things… And then, when a camera was left to me after the tragic death of my brother; it became a means of healing, of processing, of grieving. And then, slowly, of worship.

I don’t worship the camera, no. Or my own ability to take pictures, my goodness no!
I worship the one Who made it all.

The Creator.
The One who made heaven and earth.
The sea and all that is in them.

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I worship Him for making so much beauty. So that even when there are a hundred things clamoring for my attention, I can focus on just one; blurring out the unnecessary.

Hushed, awed, quieted. I click.

046O9374Have you ever imagined what earth would be like like without the sky? Empty. Dark. Vacant.

But no, the sky is not only there; it’s ever-changing!
Ever changing me as I stare up into its vastness.

The One who made it is so much bigger than I am.
I am merely a speck of dust in comparison.
Yet, He cared enough about me, about all of us, to make this world beautiful. Because He knew that beauty, that nature would nourish us. And with bated breath, He waited, hoping to see that this beauty would draw us back and cause us to worship Him.

046O9444And then there are those moments when heaven comes to earth in a tiny, newborn package and you just can’t get enough of worshipping the Maker of life. So I click.

046O3698046O3646 046O3662046O3776I click to the sound of soft music, the innocence of a sleeping child, and hours of light to play with. Because this is rest in its most beautiful form.

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046O3817046O3819 046O3842 046O5635Heaven meets earth, in a cascade of glorious light and all we can do is drink it in. Click. 

046O5638 046O5690You could say that this photographic journey is my way of acknowledging gifts. Of whispering “thank you” to the Giver. Because this life is short and none of us are promised tomorrow. So while I have today, I’m going to be thankful. To click away on this earthly thanking machine.

046O5700And while I’m being thankful for light, for tiny heavenly packages, I’m also thankful for the family, the close friends that complete my life. They too, are a foretaste of the glorious wholeness we’ll experience in Heaven.

Daily, I’m reminded through them that worship is an act of sacrifice.
Of offering up our agenda, for His. Of sacrificing our plans, for His.

Because this life is about Him. Not me.

046O5753 046O9441“You make me happy when skies are grey.”

046O5781To the One who hand-picked the proceedings of my journey, I say, “thank you.” Not because I understand it all. Oh my, no. But because I’m starting to see that, “In this process of being worshipped, God communicates His presence to men.” C.S. Lewis

I’m learning to live in His presence, to worship Him.
To bow my heart, to open my eyes to see all that He would have me see.

046O9512And so, when the storm clouds roll in, and the sky grows grey I can still pause and worship. Because He is the One who calms the storm.

To the last drop

Summer is officially over. Can we have a moment of silence, please?

I’d like to take a moment and enjoy Summer to the last drop, by reminiscing about some of the cup full and overflowing moments that filled my days.

046O4082This summer was a happy one. If there’s one word that sums it all up, it would be- simple.

My life was simple this summer. The simple life is one of rejuvenation, of whittling away at distractions that take away from the meaningfulness of life. It was a summer of opening my eyes and ears and heart to SEE the people around me and to care. Deeply. And to be perfectly honest, that’s not always easy…

But it is possible.

046O2951This summer there were soppy wet beaches to walk along, mile after mile… Until one day the sunshine graced us with its presence.

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There were birthdays (lots of them!) to be celebrated.

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There were rainstorms aplenty, and rainbow umbrellas to protect little people from the elements.

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046O4287There were creek-beds to wade in and fallen down bridges to explore..

046O5837046O7704 046O8418There were sunrises and sunsets, day after day; reminding me that God’s mercies are new every single morning.

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046O7373Then there was the crazy idea of the cousin’s to have a shaving creme fight and really, who wouldn’t want to do that?!

046O7245I’m not sure which was more entertaining; watching him run around laughing hysterically, or watching my mom chase him around, armed with her bottle of shaving creme.

046O7397Oh, it did get messy.

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046O7435And when it was all said and done, we all were completely unrecognizable.

046O7460(The cousin looks much like a roman soldier who went through a carwash, not?)

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Then there was that day when the niece and nephew spent the day with me. All we did was play, play, play all day. We were indians of course, so we built ourselves a tent.

046O8333We cut out paper feathers and wore silly headdresses, because dressing up makes playing one hundred times better. I would know, because I was once a child.

046O8367Meet chief Food Lion (he coined the name himself).

046O8411He was quite the hunter boy, killing several hundred imaginary wild buffalo singlehandedly.

046O8380046O8399There was that morning when after a short rain, a rainbow spread across the sky. It was one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever seen, though the picture doesn’t nearly do it justice. Every once in a while, I have an urge to rip out telephone wires and enjoy nature in it’s simplest form, without distraction.

046O2661046O2060There were new little people to meet, and some, who I’m still waiting to meet.

046O2103046O3017There were sailboats (hand-made by the nephew) to be floated out in the imaginary sea at sunset.

046O3041 046O3050Summer is coming to an end, but I’m excited to embrace the quiet of this new season; to reflect on the goodness of God, to look ahead to what’s coming, and to enjoy this moment, this gift of today.

046O2632The light of summer is fading but fall with its vibrant skies of blue has come. A leaf in the book has been turned and Autumn, with all it entails is just around the corner.

046O0006Happy Fall time, y’all!

Into the wild.

Once a year, we go live out in the wild.
Up in the mountains, with backpack clad backs we hike back in.

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Until we reach our spot.
It’s this spot that we’ve come to year after year until eventually, we tragically outgrew it. (The tragedy isn’t so much in the growth as in the “out-growing”).
So this year, we settled for another wood just Southwest of the one we usually inhabit.
The only slight inconvenience is having to make a daily hike to the swimming hole. I know, it’s such an inconvenience when you have no schedule or agenda to work around.

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046O4364Ah, into the wild wood where rivers rush and nature soothes.

046O4367 046O4378 046O4382Fall was making its subtle appearance, as the newly fallen leaves told us.

046O4385046O5229 046O4629046O4430 Because this place reminds us all of Isaac:

046O4564046O4698Camping wouldn’t be complete without hammock time, would it?

046O4825046O6052046O5928 046O5932 046O4931046O4996Mushrooms were bright and plentiful this year and whole hours were spent mushroom hunting for the sheer fun of it. (And for those of you who are worried, we didn’t eat any of them; not because we don’t like mushrooms but because we hadn’t a clue which were edible and which weren’t. You know how the old saying goes, “Better safe, than sorry”? Well, we obeyed it this time.)

046O4836The dancer cousin and her equally athletic husband were along this time and they amazed us time and again with their agility!

046O5136046O6579 Oh dear, someone snuck some food along from the “outside world.” We ate it, of course, so as not to be wasteful.

046O4865 046O5476 046O5731046O5693046O5709There was much rock throwing by the little people who stood at the edge of the creek and exclaimed loudly every time a rock hit the water. There was also some very skilled rock skipping done by the men (who, ironically, did not exclaim loudly every time they sent a rock skimming along the water’s surface).

046O7031 046O5726046O5785 046O5835 046O5903No food tastes as good as food that has been cooked with care over a campfire. I’m convinced of this. There was much (too much) good food to speak of on this campout.

046O5907046O6230 046O6016 046O5997046O4729 046O5862The little fellow took to saying, “I want to make a picture” (in his unbeatably funny voice) every time he saw me with the camera.

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046O5613046O5562046O6288A shout out to the fit sister who hiked back in sporting an almost full-term belly.

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In that wooded environment, there was lots and I mean LOTS of sparkly light infiltrated down through the leaves. It was gorgeous.

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046O6122 After dark, when the night creatures sang and the campfire glowed, there were marshmallows to be eaten and stories to be told and books like Sherlock Holmes to be read aloud.

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046O6240As always, the last morning dawned much too soon it was time to pack up and pack out. We were all sad to leave behind all the bountiful beauty. But duty calls us back home and next summer, this place will call our names again. There’s no question about that.

046O7110 046O7119 046O7170 046O7008The end.

All these beautiful days

046O0877Hello Summer.

Welcome, long days of sunshine and nights that are warm and inviting.
046O1168Summer is for sitting on the front porch and letting life go by, for picking countless bouquets of wildflowers with the niece. 046O1172 046O1177 046O1185 046O1223046O1204Summer is for going on long walks…
046O1209046O1236046O1227Summer is for laughter and play. And for posed pictures that don’t turn out.
046O1522Summer is for gardening and the nurturing of all things green.046O5080046O5070 Summer as I knew it (in years gone by) meant lots of sunshine and warmth. But this year, we’ve had lots of rain.

So much rain in fact, that gardens have nearly drowned in all the dampness. Lawns have grown at a rate I didn’t know was possible.

Not just an occasional downpour, mind you, but an almost-daily storm complete with lightning and the distant rumble of thunder. I do love a good thunderstorm and I especially relish all the reading time that the rainy weather has encouraged. 046O8736046O3211046O5065

046O4129Summer is for storms, for late night lightning that lights up the sky and thunder that echoes off into the distance.

Just for the record: lightning has got to be the trickiest thing to photograph. Give me a squirmy baby any day and I’ll work my magic, but this unpredictable thing in nature called lightning?! It’s beautiful, but it’s majorly “up in the air” as to when it’ll strike.

I took five hundred some pictures and only twenty-five turned out, ten of which actually have lightning striking across the sky. Go figure.

Oh, but it was still rewarding, those few shots that turned out. The rest are now resting in my needing to be emptied trash.

046O4357 046O4547046O4560 046O3336Summer is for red, white and blue and a fourth of July spent with friends, family and plenty of sparklers!046O3326 046O3360 046O3378 046O3434046O3398046O3463 046O3465 046O3934Summer is for being surrounded by corn fields. It takes me back to my childhood spent up on a Guatemalan hill, where a swaying cornfield didn’t necessarily mean wind, it meant we were likely having a tremor! Oh the adventures that were to be had in those days of corn field trails and beans and tortilla dinners.046O3908046O3939 046O3952046O3944Summer is for admiring the clouds.
They’ve been beautiful beyond description these summery days.
I could literally spend hours staring dreamily up at them as they drift past.

It’s this timeless beauty, this daily, moment by moment changing of the landscapes that ignites the most awe in my heart.

With such beauty looming overhead, how on earth am I expected to concentrate on driving?! Thankfully, I live far enough out in the country that I can park next to the road, perch myself on the hood of my car and capture just a little bit of the heavenlies.

046O4086 046O4096 046O4101 046O4112Summer is for going on roadtrips and driving the long road home, in this journey of life. 046O4117“So with the sunshine and the great burst of leaves growing on the trees… I had the familiar conviction that life was beginning all over again with Summer.” -F Scott Fitzgerald 046O4122

Summer’s already half gone and the other half beckons for me to come venture in for some brand new adventure. I must go. Life awaits.

Spring Festival

It was a much anticipated event at the Children of Promise ministries.

Typically Tuesday nights entail a whole lot of herding kids from one class to the next where they sing energetic songs, where they’re taught Bible lessons, and eat down a snack before returning home on the crowded bus.

But come Spring, we wanted to do something special for them. Something that would make them feel celebrated and loved for the precious people that they are.

046O1451046O1021 046O1455046O1471There was face painting. My creative sisters and a few friends excelled in this department.046O1030 046O1331046O1063046O1371046O1695046O1730046O1854046O1664A homemade photobooth with so many fun props. 046O1163046O1206046O1219046O1622 046O2022 046O1883046O1119Mr. Clown, complete with costume, wig, red-round nose and funky shoes. Oh! And we mustn’t forget, the huge bouquet of balloons. He was popular among the kids.
046O1707046O1527The geniuses who planned the event did fabulously with creating activities for a whole busload (plus some!) of kids. Games that brought the kid out of everyone, even some brave adults.
046O1557 046O1593046O1597046O1567Then there was the little sign that represented a whole lot of sticky sweetness.046O1741046O1805The evening ended with a delicious snack, out on the lawn, underneath a canopy of balloons.046O1810 Happy Tuesday, everyone!