Kindling the Soul // Peace River // Photo Journal

“to shine on the outside you have to BURN on the inside”
– Pastor Doug Sauder

Sunday in church that sentence rang in my ears while the muscles in my arms reminded me how sore they were & my heavy eye lids reminded me how tired I was.  But every bit of soreness made me smile.

Saturday’s canoe trip may have taken a toll on my achy muscles and energy levels, but it fueled the fire in my soul.  A little laughter, exploration, and a few deep breaths of fresh air with people you love can be absolutely medicinal.  & I absolutely love the people of Koinonia.

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From fear of spending too much time on myself and missing opportunities to fuel others, I find I don’t kindle my soul enough.  But I’m learning the balance.  I was so refreshed by this exhausting trip.  Crazy, I know!  I nearly didn’t go at all due to exhaustion and injury, but it was definitely the reset button I needed.

Peace river was my kindling.  To get through the last 46 days of school.  To keep serving with a smile.  To keep burning for Christ.

I can do nothing of my own strength.  I have to remind myself of this every. single. day.  The Lord is my sole source of strength, that’s my reset button.

Thank you to my dear friends of Koinonia for reminding me of that, and for supporting me by always pointing me back to Jesus.

I am constantly surrending control back to God, stubbornly trying to take over, and surrending to Him again.  He never fails to take my pieces & need for control and give me peace.

This peace kindled my soul.

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Proverbs 3:5  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (ESV)

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (ESV)

41 people.  20 canoes.  15 miles of river.  5 hours of driving.  1 sweet memory.
3.25.2017

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Disney World // Photo Journal Slideshow

This semester I took my first photography class with Liberty University Online.  This was a dream!  Not only did it strengthen my basic knowledge of photography and heighten the quality of my photos, it gave me a deeper level of joy and gratitude in each photo I take.

My final assignment was to do a slideshow of original photos, and this past trip to Disney proved to be the perfect opportunity to collect some memories!  Photographs are my favorite medium, and I hope that through these photos (which were extremely difficult to narrow down) you get to experience not only the joy I get in taking these photos, but some Disney magic!

Thank you to Michael, John-Marc, Matt, Elliot, & Mitchel for their patience in enduring my endless shooting this weekend!

Liberty University
ARTS 361

the truth about writing

Lately I’ve been desperate to write.  To update this site.  To update you all on some adventurous part of my life.  But it’s been a struggle.  I long for some poetic and profound words to flow and inspire you.  Truth be told, I haven’t felt inspired.

I want to encourage you in some way.  Inspire you to be creative, bold, productive, or unique.  I want to bring you words of comfort.  But I haven’t known what to say.  Truth is, writing is not always writing.

Lately, the blank paper has begun to taunt me.  Without words to put down the white expanse stares me down, tantalizingly challenging me.  It tells me to try, but my words won’t be good enough.  It tells me to try, but I’ll be disappointed in myself.  It tells me to try, but no one will read it anyway.  
I tried switching from paper to digital hoping for a disconnect from the dreadful voice.  Digital seemed easier, faster, more productive by 21st century standards.  No longer having to run my fingers across paper’s sensitive pores, I could simply type away.  Without the emotional connection, detest at my own handwriting, or smudged ink slowing me down.   But the blank screen shouts the same threats.
Even faster than I can get the words down, I stretch my smallest and most fearful finger to the back space key, tapping it repeatedly like a fearful case of OCD locks the door 17 times for assured safety.
Just like that it’s all gone.
It was terrible anyway, so I try again.  This time it flows a little longer and I get an entire stream of thought out and breathe to re-read it.  It’s terrible.  It’s not complete.  What else could I say?  It’s too obvious.  A child could write this.  It’s not original, everyone knows this anyway.  I have better things to do with my time.  The timid tapping begins, each pixel is deleted and the door is locked for the 34th time.
I think back to the times I stared paper down before and conquered it.  How it magically turned into a tool, how I wrote the sweetest poem or blog post or letter that I’m still so proud of to this day.
But I’ll never live up to again.  
I don’t remember what inspired me.  How I got past the blank paper.  How I was content with the words.  These days I listen to and read other words so much that I’m filled up with ideas, stories, and truths.  I get inspired but find myself paraphrasing someone else’s idea and sadly realize I have nothing to add.  It’s not mine to share.  It’s cool, but it’s not me, it’s not new, and it’s not who I want to be.  So I sheepishly stretch out my pinky, tap, and the door is locked for the 51st time.
Truth is, writing is painful.  It’s pouring yourself out and exposing parts of yourself you may not want to.  It’s not all the artistic sweet posts, best selling books, or top charting song lyrics.  It’s exercise, stretching you constantly and making you sore.  It often takes turning off all the other voices and distractions, asking yourself a hard question, and following through with the answer.
Inspiration doesn’t always fall in your lap, you have to work for it.
If you want to be a writer, that’s the truth.  Anything fruitful is going to come after planting, watering, and struggling.  I want to be a writer.  So I’ll keep staring, battling, watering, growing, typing, erasing, re-typing, and struggling, until I get to the writing.  I’ll tame that timid finger, and leave the door unlocked.
2.21.2017

PASSION 2017 // Photo Journal

“Adventure is out there”

This week was one of the most challenging and fruitful adventures I think I’ve ever ventured on.  21 people, traveling and living together, encountering God together, & battling spiritual warfare together.

Day 1: Three packed cars caravanned from Davie, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.  We ran late due to traffic, arrived nearly freezing rain, and finally joined 55,000 other college students to worship in the Georgia Dome.  Later, we had our own devotional as a community group in the house we were renting.

Day 2: Four PASSION sessions in one day is like drinking from a fire hose.  Add in navigating an unfamiliar city and temperatures in the forties, and it’s exhausting.  But God’s Word never returns to Him void, and it overwhelmed my soul like a wildfire.

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Day 3:  We sat closer for the last session and looking up from the floor at the vast amount of people all singing to one Lord and Savior blew my mind!  Having another devotional time at the house refreshed me immensely.  Exploring downtown from a horse drawn carriage and breaking bread together (okay it was pizza) definitely revived my energy.

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Day 4: With a final devotional and meal in the house, we re-packed our caravan and headed home.  A long car ride provided a sweet time for me to rest my body & mind, and process all that God did and taught me this week.

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We faced massive spiritual warfare throughout these four days.  There were disagreements, delays, and unintentional emotional daggers.  But God, oh that is truly my favorite phrase.  But God, crushed us intentionally.  He allowed us to struggle in order to bear greater fruit and the fruit still blooming now that we are home is oh so sweet.

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He taught me to breathe.  He taught me to love at all times.  (Proverbs 17:17)  He taught me to forgive.  He brought me to know the grace and love He pours out on me and broke down the dam in my heart to let that continue flowing through me and into the hearts of others & to instead build a dam of humility, patience, and love blockading the rivers of strife that flow in every human heart.

“If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.  The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”  Proverbs 17:13-14

Despite the challenges we faced I’m so glad we made this trip.  I’m glad we got to know each other more intimately.  Our pain will not be wasted.  I’m grateful we were seen worthy enough to embrace a challenge.  I learned so much about keeping my eyes on other people and caring for them more carefully and vocalizing how I love them.  I also learned to keep myself accountable to my own advice and practice everything I preach.

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“When you know Jesus, nothing in this world can satisfy.” – Beth Moore

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 4:12-14

“Train for the trial you are not yet in.” – Levi Lusko

2017-01-05-05.22.44-1.jpg.jpg21 strangers did not embark on this trip, 21 family members united in Christ did.  We survived this trial because we have trained for it before we knew what it was and we have a common hope in Christ.  Nothing can shake that hope and like natural elements are crushed to produce the sweet fragrance of essential oils, we were crushed to produce a sweet fragrance to our Father.

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This week I learned to be passionate for others through my passion for Christ, to prefer God above all else, and choose to actively love His people every day as He loves me.  If you haven’t faced spiritual warfare yet, you will.  Please train for that trial!  Dig into the Word and be sure you are perceiving life through the lens of the gospel and your hope will endure.  I will not waste my pain because Christ did not waste His and I will love because He loves me.

My dear koinonia family, I love you all so deeply!  Thank you for suffering with me and loving me even during trials.

1.6.2017

4J Ranch // Kenansville Photo Journal

​For a second consecutive year I spent December 31st ringing in a new year camping on a friends’ land (lovingly dubbed 4J Ranch) beyond the reach of cellular data service and social media’s grasp.  I must admit, I found a spot where I could connect enough for a brief post/update every now & then, but during family meals, outings to the shooting range, or truck photoshoots by the lake, my phone did not have the power to blare distracting notifications interrupting time with my family.  This made all the difference in clearing my mind from constant clouds of thought. 

Where the cell service fades, nature revives.  Where the street lights cease to exist, the stars shine brighter.  Where car horns & screeching brakes are no longer audible, laughter grows louder.

In the gentler sounds of nature and family banter I began to reflect on 2016 as I imagine everyone has been doing lately, and I felt freshly washed in peace.  Peace in reflecting on the year and peace in saying goodbye to it.  I’m typically fearful of reflecting like this because I don’t want to get stuck dwelling on the past or open past wouds in recalling past hurts I’ve moved on from.  But now I’ve found myself content in learning from the past and then leaving it behind. (Hakuna Matata)  There is a delicate balance for each individual heart to manage this, there is no formula for it and it’s an overwhelming relief when you find yours. 

In 2016 I learned to embrace opportunities.  With God’s peace, I found fear far less effective against the joys of the unknown.  In 2016 I learned to say goodbyes, and I learned peace in them too.  Peace has definitely been my lesson.  This year I sought the Lord for peace over & over again.  When you take the time and humble yourself in such a way as to pursue God.  The more you begin to know Him, the more you see He provides for your needs and fulfills your hearts desires above and beyond expectations.

Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

It’s a beautiful thing to me, that many of our most precious moments and best memories haven’t even happened yet. There are so many adventures at hand and waiting in the future and while I cherish the memories of the past, I’m excited to take what they taught me onward and at peace with God being my captain in this ever raging sea we call life.

Dear 2017, don’t take me back, push me forward.  Propel me to growth.  To new adventures.  To deeper knowledge.  To new adventures, new challenges, and new trials.

To everyone who propelled me to growth and made memories with me in 2016, thank you.  Without you my writing would be dry and empty as would my heart and I cherish you all. 
2016 // 2017

4J Ranch // Kenansville Photo Journal

1.2.2017

Christmas Moments Photo Journal

Despite the consistently warm weather and lack of snow in south Florida, December naturally ushers in a time of Christmas carols, homemade sweets, parties, and of course, family photos!

This year I had the privilege of taking photos for this family!  They wanted to capture some Christmas adventure at a local tree farm with their kids and it was such a joy to capture this moment for them.

In my photos I strive for two kinds of clarity.

Clarity of art; honing the skill of taking better quality photos, adjusting light to best frame my subjects, and edit in a way that keeps the focus natural as every photographer should.

Clarity of expression.  In photoshoots like this I’m reminded that taking a perfect picture is not about a perfect pose, backdrop or focus, but rather about capturing the moment that accurately depicts a memory.  A perfect picture contains the unique character of the people in the portrait and represents them honestly.

In these boys I see joy in being the leaders and a protective nature over their little sister.  In her, I see a precious passion for God’s creation in her admiration of Christmas trees and ponies as well as her joy in being a Daddy’s girl.  I am always amazed that I can learn all these intimate details about people through my camera lens.

I’ve learned to embrace the photo-bombers, goofy faces, the jokesters and personal character of every photo, and there I see the sweetness of each moment.

My dear friends, thank you for allowing me the joy capturing these special moments with your family not only with my lens but with my heart!
Merry Christmas!


12.10.2016

Through the Eyes of a Child // Disney Photo Journal

It had been awhile since I’ve been to a Disney theme park.  I must say I remember it being fun & magical, but I had forgotten some of the precious details.

This weekend I returned to the most magical place on earth with three of the most magical kids on earth and I found myself not only enjoying the parks with them, but learning so much from them!

Through Alex’s thrill of competition on rides like Toy Story & Test Track, Caroline’s enthusiasm for meeting princesses & singing along to frozen songs, and Theodore’s pure affection & infectious smile, I got to see Disney once again through the innocent, awe-struck eyes of a child.

In these eyes there are no other worries or distractions.  Although there can sometimes be less patience and perspective causing some emotional moments… When a child’s joy is perfectly fixated on one thing, moment, or thrill, it is uncontainable and incomparable.  Through these little eyes I saw more magic than I thought possible.

I found that once I grasped this magical joy it overflowed from Disney to the drowsy ride home and into the little thrills in life at home.  No lines, no fastpass, no magicband required. All I needed was the eyes of a child.

// For Alex, Caroline, & Theodore, I love you //

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9.20.2016