Friday, September 23, 2016

Staying in the Conversation

I think the title of this blog is pretty ironic given that I haven't written anything on here in over a year.


Tonight is the night.

I have had a bummer day.  It started out pretty fantastic.  My group of leader ladies met at Chik Fil A for chicken biscuits and frank discussion of racism and its effects on us.  We focused on scripture and how do we as women of God respond.  4 or 5 of the ladies shared their experiences as black women, as moms, as daughters, as wives of police officers, as family members of people who've been a part of the recent riots.  It was really powerful, and sweet and deep fellowship.  I left this morning's meeting on a high, for sure.

I just laughed to myself at how quickly that turned around.

My leadership journey in a church has been a pretty bumpy ride.   I think you can put the responsibility for that on a number of things, myself being one of them.  I am, as I've been told, a passionate person with opinions.  That's manifested in my life in a lot of ways - from stepping between family members in fights as a child, to pursuing a business as one of the few local female photographers at the time, to giving up dreams that I held dear for other things God had for me.  God made my passionate self and over time forged it into a spine.  A strong spine.  A spine I'm not ashamed of.  It takes strength to lay down dreams.  It takes strength to stand in the gap for a family member who needs it.  It takes strength to be married for 16 years.  It takes strength to be the new girl on the block and go head to head with the boys and make a name.  It takes strength and courage and faith.  I don't say that to say that my strength separates me from God, not at all.  My strength is born out of and directly from everything He's put in my life and how He's led me through it.  I am only strong because I've submitted to Him in those situations and seen the value of perserverance, and let Him build my character.

Out of that character He's made me a leader.

So in this first year and a half or so of leadership the consistent lesson has continued to be:  perserverance.  Staying in the conversation.

Staying put when my leadership didn't believe I could lead.
Obeying when God said to write my first bible study ever last summer.
Persisting with Nicaragua when I was referred to in some derogatory ways for that persistence because God loves those women in those chairs.
Persisting with women who struggle with deep issues that take time and patience and lots of scripture and prayer to root out.
Persisting with one of my pastors to learn communication styles and learning to respect and value that partnership.
Staying in the conversation about sex offenders in the church when it wasn't super popular to begin with, and learning where I made mistakes in my communication.

And then today.  One of the hardest ones yet.  It's such a long drawn out situation.  It involves multiple people, discipleships, friendships, my mentor and a whole family.  This year I've checked, rechecked, and checked my heart again.  I checked my heart again Tuesday and went to make sure I wasn't making things up and having a narrow ugly view.  I hate this so much because saying what I have said, what I think needs to be said puts me in conflict with people I respect and care for.  But not saying it is negligent, and maybe even sin, as a leader in the church.

To tell you that I came home and laid on my bed for 3 hours and listened to worship music is absolutely true.

To tell you that someone whose opinion I value a great deal questions my character because of this, is true.

To tell you that I don't know what to do except pray is true.

God put me in this situation for some reason.  I didn't go looking for it.  So I believe He wants my voice in it or He wants me to learn  OR maybe both.

I was thinking today about a conversation I had with a girl this week and how I was encouraging her that facing her issues and tackling them wasn't pleasant but it was necessary to grow and to become the person she wants to be.  So do the work, and quit whining. Haha.  Essentially.  This post feels a little bit like whining, except I don't want to whine.  I want to remember today--I need to remember today that all of the other things have been with purpose and that God gave me strength for a reason.

I've been listening to Through All of It a lot today.   I'll leave you with this.  He's the foundation of my life through every circumstance.

I have won
and I have lost
I got it right sometimes
But sometimes I did not
Life's been a journey
I've seen joy, I've seen regret
Oh and You have been my God
Through all of it

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The End of 2015

I've sorely neglected this blog.  It's been a long year.  Lots to do that left no time for deep meanderings online.

I wrote a letter to a friend tonight that turned reflective, and I thought you know, it would be a bad idea to let this year go without some written remembering.  So here goes.

This year I quit my job as a photographer. 

This year I signed up for full time ministry.

In the interests of wisdom I won't write everything down that happened this year.  Just highlights.

January started out with most people I served with telling me that I wouldn't be able to lead Crash well.  I had to change it or it would fail, because of who I am as a person.  It wasn't one person it was many.  Several.  I had a lot of nights where God and I had heart to hearts about Crash.  Is this really really really what I'm supposed to do?  That was a journey of 4 months.  April 1st I signed the paperwork to be a church employee.  That still makes me gag a little haha. 

Here's what I learned in those four months.  If God tells you to do something.  Do it.  Don't listen to the voices that tell you no.  Be kind and be patient to the ones who tell you to stop or that you will fail.  It's not my job to be judge and jury.  Resentment gets you nowhere.  Build a bridge of forgiveness.  Encourage your own heart with who God is and who you are in Him.  Perseverance wins.

April to May was a lot of stumbling around in the dark.  That's what it felt like for me anyway ;)

The summer was I Am and learning that God moves in obedience.  That there is nothing worth doing unless He is driving it.  It was finding my feet under me and seeing life unfurl like green leaves to the sun. 

Somewhere in there Foster Hope and 15 beautiful and damaged girls fell into our lives. 

Nicaragua got off the ground again as God knit Hellen and NI with us. 

We had baptisms, we had lots of Friday mornings, we had hard conversations and freedom.  We had girls understand God as their Father.  We had salvations and growth.

We also had girls leave.  Hearts that felt like failures to me when they went. 

I had to apologize when I made mistakes.  A lot.

Friendships that I had held close changed.  Friendships that I've loved for a long time flourished.  Friends that had drifted a little came close again. 

I look ahead to 2016 and I have no idea.  I have no idea what to do.  Where to go.  I don't know how to bring the understanding of Christ to these 15 young girls from the hardest parts of life.  I don't know how to lead 30 women leaders toward Christ and sharpen them into disciplemakers and sold out women of God.  I don't know how to take Crash and make it a place of hope and life and refreshing.  I am afraid that the burden of a mission field is too much for our little community to carry by itself. 

I stand at the edge of 2016 and part of me wants to lay down this burden and go back to safety and easy with a camera.  The other part of me wants to lean in and run ahead with enthusiasm the race. 

Jesus will you be enough in 2016?  You were enough this year.  More than enough.  I need you.  If you don't carry me, my girls and this crash community into what you have for us, we are toast. 

There is no point to us without you.  Be our Hope.  Be our strength and our direction for the journey. 

You are the point and the process.  Be enough. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015


It's been 9 years. 

9 years since I first picked up a camera and took a picture of a girl in a white dress. 

9 years of learning.  Honing my craft. Pushing myself. 

The images from my first year are so terrible. 
I look at them and laugh and wonder why anyone hired me.

There were things I wanted to accomplish. Some of it I achieved and some I didn't.

This is my gratitude list:

* Join the boys club in my town and become one of the ones at the top. 
* Be published on national, international and local wedding blogs.
* Take part in a reality show.
* Photograph editorials
* Organize and photograph a local fashion show for our VA designers
* Make lots of friends from all over the US of A in the wedding industry.
* Meet a whole lotta great people in love
* photograph weddings from other cultures: Korea, Africa, Poland.
* See my work in print media
* Be voted top photog in the city twice

Here's what I learned along the way:

* Never stop competing against yourself
* Don't compete with anyone else
* Give 100% every time
* Creativity is always possible
* Flexibility wins
* A smile and a listening ear will take you far
* Failure is going to happen.  Grieve it.  Get up and keep moving.
* Make your clients success your success.
* Be kind.
* Be interested.
* Don't get stuck in ruts.  Try new things.
* Work hard. 
* Be your best.
* Stand out from everyone else. 

And now.  Now as I turn my eyes away from the camera and onto ministry. 

Now as the insecurities flood in.  The fears of failure.  The fears of being failed.  As I start to feel that need to compete with other people, or to do what they do.  Or be where they are.  Or be who they are.  It's beautiful to look at these lists and remember.  Everything starts somewhere.  And somewhere is never the at top of the game.  Jesus defines the top in this new arena.  He defines the goals, the wins, the next thing to come.  And I'm not alone this time around.  <3 br="">

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