April 28, 2018
If you have Facebook then you are probably well aware of the flashback photos and status’ Facebook shares. Some take us back to just last year while other memories remind us of who we were years ago.
Each time Facebook shares a memory with me I pause to look at the girl I used to be and when I do I see the longing to be the women I am today. I’m still on a journey of growth but I’ve surprised myself with who I have become. The past 6 years I’ve desperately wanted to be a woman of courage, boldness, talent and spiritual maturity.
Now hear me out my desire is to never stop deepening in my growth in all those areas and more but recently God has stopped me in my path to reveal the development of who he has molded me into. This reflection has brought me to my knees in praise. My God, everything I’ve grown in gives glory to how great you are. I’m growing, I’m becoming and I am realizing all at once that the prayers I earnestly sought after for years are coming to life. Right now in this moment I feel brand new!
These are the things I proclaim:
I will go onto to publish a photography book on the women of Malawi, I will venture out into this world to capture stories, I will develop a member care program for African Bible Colleges, I will never stop being an advocate for unity, I will never give up on becoming a woman of nobal character and I will NOT loose hope of the desires of my heart!
MARCH 10, 2018
They say any sport you do is 80% mental and 20% physical. If you can tell yourself you can do it then you can. After I surprisingly qualified for Malawi’s swim Nationals I decided I would get back in the pool one last time. Four years ago I had to part ways with my college swim career when I was hospitalized with Bacterial Meningitis. After three weeks in the hospital my doctors said is was a miracle I was still alive and that the opportunity to compete at such an extreme level would likely never happen again. Weighing 107 lbs after leaving the hospital I struggled to just feel like my normal self and I let go of any hope of ever competing again. That was right when God brought photography into my life and I am amazed/thankful at where it has brought me today.
When God redeems he doesn’t just heal to a certain extent- no he goes all the way! God restored my body and showed this past weekend he is more powerful than any doctors final say, any illness that cripples us, or hurt we experience in this world. I signed up for 5 races this past weekend and stepped up on the medal podium 5 times - wow God is so good. 80% mental, 20% physical, 100% my God. Every time I stepped up onto the blocks to dive into the water to race I felt victorious because when your a child of God YOU ARE VICTORIOUS. This is a testimony of God’s faithfulness and that he loves gifting his children with good things. All glory to God for every good and beautiful gift comes from above. God does not call himself limitless to limit us - don’t underestimate what God can accomplish in and through you. I have seen him do wondrous things in my life. He is sovereign.
FEBUARY 4, 2018
I am reminded everytime I face a situation that tests my character that my name means grace. I am gracious and because I serve a God that is full of grace I too strive to operate out of the same characteristics that make up who he is.
I recently was given the image of a boxing ring (images are how my God speaks to me) and I asked God, "Where do I stand in this fight?". My flesh was wanting to enter into the ring so I could defend myself but my spirit revealed my stance is not against my opponent but FOR my opponent. God showed me I am not facing the one who bates me into the fight but I stand with Jesus in the corner, waiting to tend to my opponents wounds. My first instinct was disgust, how could I care for someone who has repeatedly knocked me down? And Jesus said, "Follow me and I will show you".
The grace I have been given in my life by God and by others has significantly humbled me. Grace has grown me, moved me, and has only made me fall more in love with Jesus. The extent of grace is unending and because of what it does to us it most definitely has the capability to change us. "Grace upon grace".
My fighting stance is on grace. Putting aside my flesh and stepping into the line of sight from Jesus' perspective. And when I do my heart aches with my God because I begin to see a lost and weary soul that I look upon with such great compassion. The greatest weapon we have against the enemy is love. Love CONQUERS all. Love is MIGHTY. Love is OVERWHELMING. Love is UNCONDITIONAL. Love is EXTRAORDINARY. Love is GOD.
The very definition of love gives perfect meaning to who God is. "The Lord your God himself will fight for you" ( Deuteronomy 3:22 ) out of a deep love for you.
JANUARY 14, 2018
“I will bless you”, four words I heavily felt pressed upon my heart the day after I arrived in Malawi. I’ve traveled so far to accomplish this dream and when I first arrived I felt so far from my family and best friends. I am reminded that sacrifice requires being brave and offering up myself for the sake of the gospel. I may be physically all on my own here in Malawi but I am far from being alone. I’m so grateful to experience the comfort and peace of the Lord. He says repeatedly in his word “surely I will be with you all the days of your life”..and he most definitely is with me.
I honestly feel like I was made for this photo adventure. I have always reflected back on the moment God spared my life 4 years ago. Every doctor in the UCLA hospital said there should absolutely be no reason as to why I am alive. The severity of my Bacterial Meningitis gave them no understanding for my miraculous recovery. But I knew God wasn’t finished with me yet and so I have wondered for years “what are you still wanting to accomplish through me?”. I feel that this is just the beginning of something beautiful that is unfolding. All the pain I have experienced in my life up until this point has pushed me closer and closer to God allowing me to attentively listen to his voice. The voice that has lead me here. The greatest mission I have been on has been the mission God has lead me through my heart. Realizing my weaknesses has only helped me discover how to become strong. He has broken my heart the way his heart breaks. And put a new heart in me and replaced every sorrow with a new song of joy.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair."
ISAIAH 61: 1-3
I am alive! He brought me back to life and continual sustains me with his breath in my lungs. I already feel blessed and to know my God has promised me more leaves me in absolute awe of my Heavenly Father.
DECEMBER 22, 2017
"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." I have underestimated the extent of God’s provision. When he calls you to it he will get you through it. During this season of preparation God has only solidified that he is the GREAT I AM. “I AM WHO I AM.” I look upon him with wide eyes, admiring the Father whom I follow. He has grown me to a greater level of belief in who he says he is. As it says in his word, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8.
To say I have had a few set backs is an understatement but then again who doesn’t when they are a great threat against the enemy. He’s definitely failed again because my God is VICTORIOUS. Where do I begin. I ordered some necessary camera equipment for my trip only to hit a road block. Canon couldn’t get my gear to me in time. So I tried again, found another company to send the equipment but only to hit another road block. I accidentally put in the wrong address and my package was shipped elsewhere and then returned to the company, which took 2 weeks. So I tried again, still in a place of waiting.
The second obstacle I ran into was realizing my passport was expired! Yikes! I frantically ran around last week trying to get a new passport photo and forms filled out! I even sent in a copy of my international ticket to the passport agency to express the urgency of getting a new passport ASAP! I prayed so hard over the envelope I handed to the UPS man and decided in that moment I would hand over any kind of worry with it because my God would BE victorious!
The third obstacle I faced was silence. Yes silence, I began to feel discouraged from the lack of responses I was getting from others to help support this vision. I kept on checking up on any donations but nothing. Checks in the mail but nothing. And as I sat with Jesus one night I said, “I will wait upon the Lord. I will patiently wait for my camera equipment trusting it WILL come in time, I will not grow weary, I will not relent from this dream that I believe you have imparted to me. I will keep on sharing this vision with others over and over and over again. I am on the winning team! You have never failed me and I know you won’t start now. I trust you”.
Today I checked up on my donations (and I’ll admit I held my breath when I did) and due to many generous hearts I have raised $1,620 towards my mission trip! You better believe I shed some tears, maybe even a victory dance! God must shake his head often at me because the money I received was evidence of my provider.
My camera equipment is still on its way! I have all the hope that it will arrive before I leave. As far as my passport goes, my new and improved passport made it into my hands yesterday! So, would you agree with me that God must have a plan for me to go to Malawi? I surely do believe that with all my heart. My God is so BIG, my God is so MIGHTY there’s nothing my God cannot do for me and for you!
NOVEMBER 10, 2017
Last Sunday as I walked through the aisles of my church taking pictures a woman reached out for my hand and told me she felt inclined to pray for me that morning. She then mentioned that she had sent me a passage out of the Bible that God had laid on her heart. I hadn't had a chance to look at my phone but my heart rejoiced knowing that I had been prayed for. I looked up at her and simply said, "thank you I really need prayer." You see I need prayer in my life right now for a lot of reasons; to persevere and finish well at my current job, to raise funds for this photography book excursion and most of all prayer for encouragement. When we walk in the obedience of what God calls us to accomplish the enemy feels threatened and will do anything to try and tear you down. Because whether he likes it or not the kingdom of God is advancing!
The passage that was sent to me was one I thought I was very familiar with but God continually reminds me that his word is alive and reveals profound insight. The story of Esther's incredible courage.
"So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.
Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
My favorite verse out of this passage has always been, "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" But this time around when I read the passage God revealed to me Mordecai's response to Esther. Esther explained that she has not been summed by the King for weeks and simply would not be for a while - the consequence for her approaching the king could very well mean death. Mordecai responds explaining that if she does not help save her people God WILL rise up someone else to fulfill his will. You see Mordecai had such belief in the prophecy that the Jews would be spared by God and if Esther chose not to act in obedience she would perish and ultimately miss out on receiving a blessing from God. Mordecai believed in the sovereignty of God.
Immediately after reading this passage I realized the parallel of the story and my life. God has laid his desire upon my heart to reveal the beauty and voices of his daughters in Malawi and if I do not rise up and accomplish this request by God he will rise up another and ultimately I will miss out on the opportunity to grow and receive blessings from my Father.
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice."
Proverbs 31: 8-9