Tag Archives: Photography

Stealing my Joy

As I was hand-washing two large sinks full of laundry the neighbor started burning her trash sending a cloud of smoke billowing into our yard. “Oh joy,” I thought as I rung out a towel. “All this work washing the clothes, and they’re just going to end up smelling like smoke.”

But my mind wasn’t really on the laundry or even on the neighbor’s smoke. My thoughts swirled around a lady I’d never met who thought that my husband should be with her not with me. She took pictures off my facebook page, posted them on her own page and she and her friends proceeded to slam us, our marriage, and even our ministry.

To be honest my heart hurts for her. This particular lady says she wants to be a missionary, but has not yet been able to go. She seems to want what other people have, a happy marriage and an active ministry. Because that hasn’t happened yet in her life, she has allowed bitterness and jealousy seem to take hold of her stealing her joy, so in turn she wants to steal other people’s joy.

I share this story not to put her in a negative light. She is clearly a hurting individual. We have forgiven her written attacks and have prayed that God will bring people into her life to help her work through the pain that she is obviously going through. I share this story as a reminder that it’s so easy to let someone steal your joy. There are times that I have let her steal mine. In frustration over what she has said against my husband, I let her disturb my peace. At the end of the day, the truth is still the truth. God sees my attitude just as he sees hers. That’s what I’m responsible for, my attitude, not hers or anyone else’s.

This doesn’t mean that people should be allowed to get away with hurting others, it means that God is a defender. He is a God of justice. He sees people’s hearts, motives and actions; and He acts.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.” –Psalms 18:25-27

Having God as our defender doesn’t mean that Christians must be passive and let people stomp all over their lives. We can actively face our problems, but knowing that God is fighting for us our focus needs to remain on maintaining our own personal peace remembering that ultimately God is fighting for us. This week a wise friend of mine told me, “when people throw bricks at you to bring you down, collect those bricks and use them to build a firm foundation for yourself.”

Don’t let someone steal your joy. At times I’m tempted to take pictures down from facebook or just delete my account so that I don’t have to see the hateful posts that a small minority of people write, but doing that would be allowing someone to steal my joy. Facebook helps me stay connected to my family and friends even though I’m oceans away from so many people that I cherish. I love seeing my friends’ children growing up. I love hearing about graduations, birthdays, and even the little moments of life. As far as photos go, I love photography. Pictures have a way of bringing a smile to my face and pulling happy memories to mind. I’m not going to let someone I never met take that joy from me.

The smoke cleared just as I finished the last of the clothes. I hung them up in the clear, warm sunshine; and as I folded them later in the afternoon there was no trace of smoke on them. Trials come. Smoke stings your eyes and threatens your happiness, but it doesn’t last forever. The sun comes out, and it’s stronger then the smoke will ever be.

I don’t know who is trying to steal your joy today. Chances are someone is, but don’t let them succeed. It’s a new day, a fresh start and people can only steal your joy if you allow them to do so.

You can steal my photos but not my joy.

You can steal my photos but not my joy.

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Keep Me Safe

IMG_66366 a.m. the sun barely tinting the sky. The more light appeared the more ice appeared. Elsa’s dreamland, but not conducive to carrying overweight suitcase from our little cabin in the woods to where the car was parked. I wouldn’t have been up if the plan hadn’t been to start our trip that morning from my parent’s house to Chicago (which on a sunny day is a 6 to 7 hours drive). The sun had a way to go before it would win over the ice, which left us no choice but to delay our trip until the roads cleared enough for safe driving.

In spite of the ridiculous cold, something in that icy early morning air felt a bit magical. The world lay in a stunned sort of silence. The beauty of winter frozen in time, but just for a moment. The morning sun threatened to melt the spell.

Since the trip was delayed, I grabbed my camera and stole a pair of my dad’s rubber boots. It’s hard to take a bad picture in the middle of so much beauty. As I snapped away, I spotted a tiny nest dripped in icicles tucked safely in the branches above. “That,” I thought, “is a picture of refuge, a picture of resilience.”

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I’ve been reading through Psalms again. Somehow I always seem to come back to reading the Psalms especially when starting a new phase in life or when going through a difficult period. There’s something so raw and honest in the words of the Psalms. Deep cries for justice and honest searching for life’s meaning. There are also tremendous amounts of hope on each page of poetry. Such beauty in word choice, and deep meaning in each line.

As I’ve been reading, the word refuge keeps surfacing. I love the idea of God as the one safe place in the midst of life’s uncertain, icy storms. He is a shelter when challenges seem overwhelming, a rock of hope when injustice overwhelms. There are no promises of an easy life, but like the nest high up in that tree there is always a place to go for shelter. There is always a place to stay until the sun melts the icy night. “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.” –Psalm 16:1

“Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” –Psalm 5:11-12

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Feeding my Soul

IMG_2564Laying in the sun—palm trees, a pristine pool, tropical flowers. It feels like a different country, almost a different world. The sun feels so rejuvenating and the cold that has refused to go away for the last three weeks has finally started to break up. There’s nothing like a break in the sun after months of working non-stop. Not that I mind. I love my life, the kids at the children’s home, the daily routines. But, with such an emotional job it’s healthy sometimes to get away; and Mombasa is the perfect place to recharge. The food is amazing (yay a break from ugali and beans). The weather is deliciously warm.

For the last three days I haven’t had anyone really need anything thing from me which feels so good after spending the majority of the last nine months constantly on call caring for 17 of the most wonderful kids in the world. Even though I love the kids I work with to death, it’s a physically and emotionally exhausting job. It’s nice to get away from all the pressure, expectations, and endless needs. I’m already feeling so refreshed after just three days, so I know I’ll be able to do a better job when I return.

Travel, new places, cultural, all feed my soul. There is something so incredible about getting to discover or rediscover a new place. Tuesday we spend the day exploring Mombasa’s Old Town. We bartered a price with a great guide who took us all over the city. We saw the spice market, hundred year old buildings, and even ducked our heads into the fish market where we saw everything from dried shark meat to live lobster.

I ate Swahili prawns for lunch fresh shrimp cooked in coconut sauce. It was heavenly. I’m glad I live in such a diverse world. Full of such beauty and flavor. Last night we sat out in the gazebo chatting with our neighbor and new friend from Germany. We talked about life, God, and the challenges and joys of working in ministry. I love those moments. I feel so alive, at peace, full of purpose, and happy in the presence of my creator. He has made such a beautiful world, and I love being able to enjoy different pieces of His work.

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Make Me Believe in Make Believe

We forwent the dreaded naptime and decided to go for a walk instead. It’s my favorite walk up and down the hidden paths of Maraigushu overlooking both Lake Naivasha and Mount Longonot. It’s hard not to fall in love with Kenya on those walks.

We had the seven youngest kids plus the neighbor girl who practically lives here at the children’s home. The kids skipped ahead racing each other and making toys from sticks and dirt clods. I took in the scenery and thanked God that warmer weather was finally starting to show up.

Then we reached the spot. The magical spot. Bushes surround a small fence post opening and through that little opening is an almost surreal scene—a field of golden wheat grass shining in the sun. Trees gracefully sway throughout the enchanted land, and there are no houses or roads for as far as you can see.

“Are you ready to enter Narnia?” I yelled out to the kids as we reached the opening to the field. The kids recently watched the first two Narnia movies and have talked about nothing else for weeks.

“Yes,” they yelled back excitedly. I thought, “I hope this doesn’t disappoint” knowing that the last time I had gone on this walk a tractor was in the process of mowing down some of my precious wheat.

Fortunately, the experience didn’t disappoint. My little munchkins were happy to play along. They ran through the wheat pretending to be centaurs and fauns. It makes my heart happy to see them thinking outside of the confines of this physical world. I want them to dream. I want them to imagine. I want them to believe in the impossible because we serve a creative God who delights in the imagination. Maybe something is not real in this world but what about in the next one? I’m sure heaven is going to simply blow our earthly minds.

I suppose that’s one reason I enjoy working with children so much. The faith and imagination of a child is a beautiful thing. I never want to loose that. I never want to forget what it feels like to dream. I never want to loose my ability to imagine. I always want to be able to bask in the beauty of the King of Kings

Let me see new places

Let me see new places

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Keep Calm… and Wait

Ireland’s 40 shades of green left me speechless at times. The peaceful hills peppered with sheep, castles that appeared to have popped out of a fairytale book, sandy beaches, impeccable gardens, and spongy grass that made me want to curl up on the side of a hill with a favorite book and never go back to the real word. As my friend Treena fittingly said, “it’s a photographer’s dream.”

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We spent five days in Northern Ireland exploring the coast with friends, eating fish and chips, and walking around Belfast’s city center. People were incredibly friendly, and since my friends had a car we were able to see everything from the Newcastle coast in the south to the Giant’s Causeway in the North.

As beautiful as the land was, my favorite part was getting to spend time with friends from college my friend Lindsey and her husband Cris who live in Northern Ireland and my friend Mandy who is living in Russia but was visiting during the same time Treena and I were there.

It was amazing catching up, making new memories, and experiencing the beauty of Northern Ireland together. Before heading to London to catch a plane to Nairobi we crossed the boarder into Ireland and spent the night in Dublin. At night Dublin is alive with music floating through the air and groups of colorful people packing the streets. Before we caught our plane in the morning we saw the sleepy side of the city with most of the shops closed and relatively deserted streets.

Our flight to London went smoothly with only a small delay. We spent the night at my friend Steph’s flat, and it was great talking travel and journalism with her and her flat mates. In the morning Treena and I got up early to catch the tube headed to the airport. Things seemed to be going smoothly. We made it through security, found our gate, and waited to board the plane. Boarding went well. We were able to get seats together (thank you British Airways) even though we had originally been placed in different rows. We found our seats, stored our luggage, and waited for the plane to take off. Tired from the previous day’s travel and from getting up early I dozed on and off and woke up to an announcement that the plane’s fuel levels were high so the crew had to do additional checks before take off. About an hour later another announcement was made asking everyone to leave the plane, take all of their luggage, and re-board at a later time. They gave us vouchers for lunch and asked us to stay in the terminal and wait for further instructions. Finally at 4pm we boarded the plane again (we were originally supposed to depart at 10:45am).

We got on the plane and waited and then waited some more before the pilot informed us that because one of the passengers had failed to show up (and the passenger’s bags were still on the plane) the plane would not be able to take off unless the crew was able to get the bags off the plane in the next 20 minutes. Twenty minutes later we were still on the plane but then told to get off the plane while they switched us to a different plane. Off we went again, another food voucher, more waiting, a little more waiting, and then back at 8pm to board the plane for the third time. We got to our gate in plenty of time to board just to hear that the plane’s crew had not yet arrived so it would be another hour. By 9pm we were finally on the plane and when the plane finally started to move down the runway we all clapped. Even though we ended up leaving close to the time we should have been landing it just felt good to get to Kenya. Customs and Visas went well. All of our luggage arrived, and friends were waiting to pick us up at the airport.

Kenya has been incredibly amazing, but I’ll have to save that for another post. All I can say is that I’m in love with Africa and especially with the 17 kids who live at the children’s home. The experience has been so rich already to the point where I don’t even know how I will begin to start describing it. God has been so good, and I know He is going to teach me so much during this next year.

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Smooth Sailing

I’m finding that trains are the best place to write. They are fairly quiet, comfortable, and are a nice little break in the midst of amazing experiences. I’m taking a bit of a risk titling this blog “Smooth Sailing” because Treena and I are only part way through our journey to Northern Ireland, but the last two days in Edinburgh have been an oasis of calm in a beautiful country. Even as I’m typing, I keep looking out the train window and whispering wow. It’s hard to describe, but the landscape is a lush green with strips of vibrant yellow tucked in between the hills and outlined by mountain crags. As the Scots would say it’s “brilliant.”

 

Train to Edinburgh

 

Pulling into the Edinburgh Waverley train station at 10:20pm and seeing familiar faces waiting for us on the platform was a beautiful sight. Heather and Adrian have the incredible gift of hospitality and my friend and I instantly felt at home. Heather had even put our names up on the door of the rooms we were staying in cutely spelled out with Scrabble tiles.

 

We enjoyed some tea and toast before heading to bed. After sleeping in a bit the next morning, we hopped on a bus back into the city’s center. During the day we saw the Sir Walter Scott Memorial, toured the Edinburgh Castle, had lunch at the Elephant House, and walked down the lovely Victoria Street. Later that evening Heather drove us to Forth Bridge, so we were able to enjoy that view as well.

 

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Sir Walter Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott Monument

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Since starting this blog post we have taken two trains and two buses and now we are on a ferry crossing the Irish Sea. It’s still breathtakingly beautiful. The bus ride along the cost of Scotland was extra stunning. It’s going to be hard to go back to any kind of normal life after this trip. It is just so calming and inspiring being in the middle of all of this beauty.  I feel close to God seeing such diversity in landscape and culture, and it makes my heart happy. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to take this mini trip on my way out to work in Kenya because it reminds me just how big God is and how creative and amazing His creation is as well. I’m just seeing a slice, but it is mind-blowingly beautiful slice. The trip has also reminded me how incredible the body of Christ is as people have hosted us in their homes and have been willing to partner with me on this journey. God is good. He has provided each step of the way, and I’m thankful that this portion of the trip has been smooth sailing.

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An Overdose of Adventure

I was going to title this post “Let the Adventures Begin,” but since this journey began on May 23rd my friend Treena and I have had a little more adventure then even I like. Delayed flights (which resulted in missed flights) hours of  standing in line with very heavy bags, lost luggage, and so many carefully made travel plans ending up in the air.

But, as I’m typing this we are less than an hour from landing in London and since boarding our British Airways flight things have been lovely. We did make some new friends while standing in line for several hours: an au pair from Switzerland, a student from Arkansas, a lady from Spain, and a student who ironically is a freshman at the college where I graduated from. Such a small, small world. Around 10 pm, we all finally got our flights rearranged and then headed to another part of the airport to make sure that our bags would met us at the proper destination. Once that was out of the way we figured we should all grab something to eat together since most of us hadn’t eaten anything since 10 am. Our little band of travelers made our way through the JFK airport in search of the food court which we reached right as many of the venders were closing up for the night or running low on options. But after such a long day anything sounded good.

We thought about just spending the night in the airport since our flight was scheduled to leave early the next morning, but Treena’s husband called around and found us a hotel. By the time we reached the airport it was after midnight, and we needed to head back to the airport around 4 am. Needless to say it was a very short night.

So what started this mess? Things went fairly smoothly in St Louis apart from American Airlines charging me for a second bag after saying on the phone that it would be free. Our flight leaving St Louis was delayed, but not by much, and we had a long enough layover in Chicago to make up for it. Problems started popping up after we reached our gate for our flight to New York. The flight ahead of us was significantly delayed due to the plane’s PA system malfunctioning. Eventually they cancelled the flight in front of us but in the meantime our plane was left sitting at a different gate. When we did finally board, we spent a half hour on the runway before receiving news that the weather in New York city was too bad for us to receive permission to land. When our plane did finally hit the skies we had spent as much time on the runway as we did in the air. Our two hour layover was completely eaten up and our plane for London left before we were able to land.

Missing our flight to London produced a domino effect. We were bumped to a morning flight that arrived well after our flight for Munich was scheduled to leave. From Munich we had planned to travel back to London by train with a stop off in Paris. Sadly, that entire portion of the trip was now impossible. Our relatives at home spent hours looking into options to still make at least some of the Munich/Paris trip work but at such a late date flights and trains were either sold out or ridiculously expensive.

Treena and I have since learned that being “stuck” in London is not such a bad thing. Since starting to write this blog we have spent the last three days in London taking the Tube and seeing some of the city’s most beautiful sights. I must admit I did have a bit of a melt down on Saturday morning after realizing that so many of our plans had fallen through, learning that ticket refunds were out of the question for the majority of our tickets and only partial refunds for the rest, and just feeling plain tired, hungry, and exhausted due to jetlag.

Going outside made all of the difference. That and getting something to eat. People often talk about London being cold and rainy, but we were fortunate to have nice sunny days (a bit cool at times) but overall beautiful. Some of the highlights have been riding the Tube (mind the gap) Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, The Tower Bridge (formerly London Bridge) and the general friendliness of everyone that we have met along the way. We’ve also enjoyed our tea and a lovely English breakfast.IMG_6924 IMG_7209 IMG_7203 IMG_7177 IMG_7166 IMG_7161 IMG_7156 IMG_7145 IMG_7134 IMG_7122 IMG_7114 IMG_7113 IMG_7078 IMG_7074 IMG_7035 IMG_7022 IMG_7002 IMG_6999 IMG_6949

Right now my friend and I are leaving London behind as we are on a train heading to Edinburgh. People say it’s magical and from just the few pictures I’ve seen I believe it. So more to come (hopefully) unless we have more unplanned adventures.

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