Friday, February 29, 2008

Film = Bliss

Some of my recent work on film.

[At Riverside in Tulsa]

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[At a retreat on a ranch in Themiddleofnowhere, Oklahoma]

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[Disclaimer: I am a novice photographer and a beginner, at best, when it comes to editing. So for those of you who are way more awesome than I at this wonderful craft...assess gently.]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Heaven's Dawn

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Those who love You
Will not be put to shame
Be faithful to Your promise
Defend the honor of Your name

***

Because of God's tender mercy, the light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

I feel it breaking
Heaven’s dawn
Lights come on

Help us to find the way back Home

All is not lost
O radiant dawn
Light has come and darkness scatters
It fades away, and light will shine again
In the darkest places, it will find a way

Let there be light…
And there was light
Your glory cannot be contained
We are mortal, yet You are in our midst

The more I give away
The more I can see
It all begins and ends with You
You are author, finisher
Lord in the highest
The utmost, the deepest
The widest, most transcendent
So far beyond
Yet somehow…
Within

You are so impossibly close to us
One by one we have been written in Your heart
We find rest in knowing that Your heart beats for us
We are both lost and found in You
Perfectly intermingled in all that You are

You become more so we become less
You reduce us, release us, revive us
You breathe into us
What is mine I will not keep
To live is Christ, and to die is gain
There is none for me but You

We will sing as one
We will burn as one
Perfectly at one with You

May we move in time
With a rhythm that is divine
Sing in tune with a song
That resounds across the Heavens

We could join with the songs of angels
Let it echo around the universe
Circling galaxies and distant creations
Returning more fully than when it was first released

And still, we know
It all begins and ends
With You

***

[Photo by me. (c) 2008. All rights reserved. Only use with permission.]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Perspectify'd

As I was transcribing the recording from a luncheon I covered this week, I heard the speaker say that making a list of what you're thankful for can help you with creativity, bring encouragement and, if anything, apply the right perspective to your life. I could use all of those things, so I took a moment to think it over. Here goes: 

I am thankful for…

-God’s grace, righteousness, love, correction, faithfulness…and so much more
-a college degree of which I can be proud
-no debt to anyone but my parents (and knowing it was worth it)
-a good job that I enjoy
-a safe, cozy place to live
-a beautiful little Ugandan girl named Christine
-a quiet place to play my keyboard and write 
-a car that runs well (and the money to fix it when it doesn’t)
-my new Macbook (a story in itself)
-23 years of a blessed and full life, and hopefully many more ahead
-community and friends who really, really love Jesus
-a new season to which I can look forward
-parents and family who support me when life hits me all at once
-a family that loves me unconditionally
-a family that tells me things I need to hear, even when it hurts 
-a family that fights for me
-the opportunity to write about things that matter 
-always having enough (and often more than enough) 
-the opportunity to be responsible and grow in stewardship
-being able to buy things for others (lunch, a gift, a chai, things like that)
-a wonderful church family 
-my two best friends living within a few miles of me, and being part of each others’ journeys 
-the lessons I am continually learning as I live life beyond undergrad 

***

So tell me...what are you thankful for?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beautiful Christine

She was black as midnight, and her big, dark eyes seemed to stare back at me from the photo on my computer screen, peering into my soul. Her pint-sized frame was covered by a light yellow dress with a big gold bow tied in front. She had what looked like pieces of candy, wrapped in each of her hands. I smiled at the thought of how candy might work to bribe my young nieces and nephew to stand still for photo. This little one will be 4 on Monday. Appropriately enough, Jon Foreman crooned in the background as I studied her:

She’s somebody’s baby, somebody’s baby girl. And she’s somebody’s baby still.


The gnarly trunk of the tree behind her in the photo reminded me that an ocean and a continent separated us. But already, she had crawled into a space in my heart and taken up residence. For what seemed like the hundredth time that day, tears were in my eyes as my heart swelled with compassion for this precious little girl. Her name was on my lips and in my heart.

Christine.

Her name means "follower of Christ." I pray it will be true for all her days. This child could change the world, for all I know.

I did not have any earth-shattering, divine revelation where I knew she was the one I should pick. If anything, I was overwhelmed at knowing which child to sponsor. They all need sponsors. They all need someone to reach out to them. They all need the compassion of our Savior, expressed through His followers that want nothing more than to bring more into His Kingdom and to make sure we take care of one another.

I can hardly wait to receive more information about Christine and to start writing her letters and sending her cartoon band-aids and making sure she knows just how much she matters. I anticipate the day I can fly to Uganda and hold her in my arms (and I will, God willing). To feel her breath on my neck and her heart beating against mine. To swing her around and dance with her and tell her all the wonderful things God has planned for her. I don’t know how long it will be until I meet her face to face, or what kind of woman she will become.

All I know is that something in her eyes stays with me. There is something in the significance of this new journey we are on together that will last for eternity.

I discovered a new little sister today. Her name is Christine, and she is a stunning reminder to me of God’s love, grace and compassion.

Beautiful Christine

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.

[My sponsorship of Christine was inspired by a group of 15 bloggers that went overseas with Compassion International to Uganda, Africa. Each day, they recounted what they saw in words, videos and photographs. To read more about these “Compassion Bloggers” and to find links to their individual blogs, visit here. The blogs I followed, and that inspired me to sponsor, were those of Shaun and Los. To sponsor a child through Compassion International, please visit here. If you do sponsor, please tell us your story here. I promise you will not regret it!]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Compassion Bloggers

Ragamuffin Soul in Uganda

A few of my blog-rollers are over in Uganda with Compassion International right now. The graphic above is specific to Los' blog. In total, 15 well-known Christians bloggers are spending the next several days there, recounting their stories via their blogs and video entries.

The goal: to save kids' lives.

I would not promote something here in this little space if I did not think it was absolutely worthwhile. This is one of those efforts that needs to be noted. There are countless kids out there just waiting for someone to sponsor them. And now some of their stories are being told by these remarkable people. To see a full listing of the bloggers, links to their pages and more information about Compassion and its sponsorship opportunities, you can visit here. It is a very worthy cause, and something I hope to be more involved with someday.

Thanks for listening. =)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Twenty Three Years

Yesterday marked my 23rd year of existence on this planet. Twenty three years of a life that has been filled with joy, family, ups, downs, lessons learned and stripes earned, and some of the greatest friends I have ever known. I remember being so anxious a year ago about where I would be and who I would be with when I turned 23. I imagined I would be in some big city, working as a journalist or publicist, drinking organic coffee and living in some suburban apartment complex. I wasn't too far off, but I had no idea I would stay in Tulsa. It has been a very good, providential thing. I have said it before and I will say it again...our God is faithful.

I am fairly certain that I laughed more last night than I have in quite some time. I found myself surrounded by a table full of those near and dear to me (minus my flesh and blood family), and all throughout the day I was astounded at the way people came out of the woodwork to make sure I felt loved. What a day it was.

The timing of all this is impeccable. I am left with the assurance that I need in the midst of some difficult decisions. The kind of assurance that only comes when God overwhelms us with His love and peace. The kind of conviction that comes when I encounter the living God in all His justice and holiness. The kind of fire that is necessary to separate the pure from the impure. The kind of paradox that can only exist in His Kingdom, and still be perfect and true.

Let us journey on.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Old Blue

After five years of faithfully working and ocassionally cussing at me...my laptop finally gave out. It hardly stays on for more than 30 seconds, but we managed to get it all backed up. Which is good because my life pretty much would have ended if I lost my work that is on there. (It's been too long since I last backed it up...lesson learned!)

So I'm finally caving in and getting one of these. Sure beats a clunky old Dell.

It is a long story earmarked by God's faithfulness, really. I'd tell it all but the details might be boring. All that to say, I am both humbled and grateful at the way He always steps in and provides for me...especially when I think I have it all under control.

Good thing it's not about me, eh?