I’ve tried to think of the best way to sort through my thoughts over my time this summer, but especially my time in Aurora, Colorado. Over the years I’ve realized that photography has been my safety blanket of communication -that if someone just looked long enough, they’d get what I’m really saying. I think It’s my attempt to say something without having to actually say it. To overcome my hesitations and get me back in the aggravating habit (since the new year, I have started twelve pieces and finished one) I’ve narrowed Colorado down to four pictures to help guide my thoughts.
One thing that I love and hate about new experiences is that suddenly, I feel the need to hold it up with the experiences closest to my present life. Does what I do matter and does it matter enough, if it does? Am I where God wants me? Am I where I want to be? This pictures encompasses a lot of those questions for me. Denver is new, it holds luster that wears off, as have all previous experiences and cities before it. I know that. But these questions bubble up without permission when I think about the possibility or the anxiety that I’m possibly wasting what little life we all have to offer to God. I think it’s part of the territory of being human and stuff. It’s been good to seek peace this summer and revisit the Lord’s character that He has given me great things and does not change (Hebrews 13:8), that He supplies my needs (Philippians 4:19), that He has been tempted by doubt and discouragement (Matthew 4:1-11), and that nothing is wasted but pales with what’s to come (Revelation 21:1-5) Colorado was a bit of glitter for me -a piece of glitter that got stuck in my eye-ball and irritated the crap out of it. As a total side note, this picture was the one good thing about waking up at 4:45 AM to make my flight home, only to have my GPS take me to downtown Denver, not the airport, only to actually get there on time but lost my phone at the gate but still managed to make my flight. It was definitely one of those mornings I could have used one of these.
Although my job primarily was to film the different areas Global Encounter was serving at around Aurora, I got to meet a lot of really hilarious and sweet kids from the area while doing so. I’m amazed at how multicultural the area is. One street felt like the midwest ‘burbs and two streets later it felt like I was in a third world country. It was pretty bizarre and wonderful. This lovely gal is from Ethiopia and her name is Hodon. It’s always good for me to be around kids and people from a different culture than my own for many reasons but mainly because kids keep me laughing, they teach me the value of authenticity, and remind me to enjoy the simple things in life. And it’s good to be exposed to different cultures keep me real, aware, and motivated to grow and learn in areas others excel in. The apartment complex Hodon lives in houses at least a dozen different ethnicities and it was astounding to see how well everyone got along and looked after each other. It was great for me to get the tiniest picture of how vast and diverse God’s Kingdom is and will be -and it was a great reminder to keep praying for the nations and for people like the 26 year old girl who moved into Hodon’s apartment complex for the sole purpose of aiding the families while sharing the Gospel with them. Guys, God’s on mission everywhere! It was just cool to see that in action last week.
If you know me longer than an hour you know my favorite hobby is sitting. I’m not outdoorsy or athletic so naturally I tended to think the Rockies were going to be all hype. They were not. Good lord, I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my entire life. It was completely overwhelming to get to spend some time at Estes Park and chase chipmunks and touch icy water, and smell pine needles, and shiver from chilly wind coming off the lakes. I think it was the first time I enjoyed hiking in my entire life. It’s impossible to convey something that felt and looked so specific but I hope you’ve experienced something like that before. I’m amazed at the world, which in turn makes me realize how big and beautiful God is. We went white water rafting towards the end of our trip and one of my raft mates mentioned how even more awesome Earth will look when Christ returns. I can’t even comprehend that in Colorado. Black Jack road in Greenbrier, Arkansas, however, I have the scope of imagination for that. I have a burning desire to go back and tent camp for a week. I don’t even care if I have to hike the whole time. I think the Lord left us places like that to remind us of himself, to create a little space between our unsatisfactory busyness and ourselves and rest in His greatness.
This is not a particularly telling photograph but it means the most to me. During my time in Aurora I had the privilege of meeting some really awesome women who were kind enough to invite me in little snippets of their lives and talk honestly and openly about life. One of my favorite authors, Carolyn Custis James, wrote,
“I have to ask myself how I can possibly expect to know Jesus as he would want to be known if my life remains unscathed by trouble and grief. How can I hope to grasp anything of God’s heart for this broken planet if I never weep because its brokenness touches me and breaks my heart? How can I reflect his image if I never share in his sufferings? And how will any of us ever learn to treasure his hesed and grace if we never experience phases where these blessings seem absent?”
This year I asked God to grow me in the area of grief and He has graciously answered my prayer, even though we both knew I had no idea what I was asking for. God is still working out this thing in me and Cindy and Chara both were continued answers to my prayer as they spoke quite openly with me about the things the Lord totally broke their heart over. Maybe that’s vague but I hope if you’ve never had ‘real talk’ with basically strangers before, you’re missing out. It’s absolutely mind-blowing to be called the sons and daughters of God but then He also gives us the whole community of ragamuffin saints called the Church and wow, is it good. I think I tend to dwell on everything that’s completely rotten about the church and I forget its roots. Its roots are so, so good. I hope that if my life can amount to anything more than a mess, I can point others to Christ in the easy and rough passages of life. It was healing and challenging to spend time with very strong, faithful Believers further along in the race who are dedicated enough to look back and holler some advice.
I felt like I had a bit of a restart button pushed somewhere in the middle of travel and video editing, and fast food, and not sleeping. I’m grateful God moves even in the hustle and flow. This summer easily could have been ten weeks of checking off my sky-high to-do list but instead it was a time of immense growth, both painful and joyful. To quote the late Brennan Manning, “My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.”
Grateful to be loved and shaped by the one who invites me to partner in his mission to redeem and restore the world around me, specifically this summer. :)
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” Romans 11:33-36