Monday, April 6, 2015

Romans 8:28 ~ Thoughts

SO I haven't posted in almost a month. Yikes! That needs to change, as I am brutally failing at this whole blogging thing! Life just happens - and my life isn't all that interesting!

Romans 8:28 has been on my heart lately, and I wanted to share with y'all.

"For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose."

That verse goes on our greeting cards and wall calendars. It is often one of those verses that we are given when rough times roll in. I'm not sure if it's the best verse to put into that context, because it can confuse and disappoint if you do not correctly understand the verse.

If you are reading the isolated verse, it looks like a promise for a good outcome in life. It is not a promise of comfort, health, and prosperity in our lives. As Christians, we are called to take the road less traveled. We are called to live out Matthew 16:24 in our daily lives, which isn't always "comfortable".

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

The "good" described in Roman's 8:28 is not our earthly comfort and success!!!!!!!!!!!! (that's a lot of  exclamation points!!!!!!!!) It is the furthering of His kingdom! We have the promise that everything will be okay in the end, in the very next verse, Romans 8:29 & 30:

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

You see, none of the crap that gets thrown at us in this life can change that. We will, most definitely, be in paradise for eternity, and this life will probably suck at times. The bad that happens to us is used, somehow someway, for the cause of His kingdom. 

Where is the good in stories of martyrs and missionaries, such as Jim Elliot, losing their lives for Christ? We see that so much good that has come out of it, but it was certainly not good for them. I think that's the message Paul was writing in Romans 8. As I mentioned earlier, it gets confusing when we simply isolate verses and take them out of context!

We are secure in our Savior's love, and that is all that matters.

That message is saturated all throughout Romans 8. Just read the entire chapter, and you will understand why Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters. At camp last summer, we memorized it and wow, what an amazing chapter to know!!!

Hope you all had a fabulous Easter and are having a fabulous week so far!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Story - Part 1

I've decided to write a series on my story. Maybe I will find this blog, years down the road, when my story has unwrapped a little more.

My salvation story is pretty typical for middle class American Christian families, so I won't go into that. At a young age, I was told that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that I have to ask Jesus into my heart and then I can go to heaven when I die. So, when I was about 6 or 7, I literally asked Jesus into my heart. Looking back, I had no idea what that meant, or even what it meant that I am sinful. ('Cuz really, most 6 year olds don't :)) I went on with my life, in a Christian school, going to church on Sunday. I didn't start to be challenged, understand, and dig deeper into Christianity until this school year. (ha, you can read all my embarrassing, cliche blog posts! I so want to delete them, but I'm just gonna own them!).

Past the salvation part.

Exactly three years ago, I started following blogs of moms with super cute kids adopted from China. That sounds so weird, and I guess it is! That went on for a while, when it dawned on me that I could do something! God slowly opened my heart to the plight of orphans and I have been blessed immeasurably.

My family tried the adoption route. We tried, but nothing came of it. God made it clear that adoption was not part of the plan, at least for the time being.

Meanwhile, my heart was exploding. I so wanted to do something. I hung out at the adoption advocacy group a lot, and learned as much as I could (which is freakishly A LOT!)  I looked at China orphan care trips, and that didn't work. My family didn't seem to like the idea of getting out of their comfort zone and doing anything, so I just decided that this not-so-little dream of mine really wasn't God's plan. Who knows, maybe something will spark the desire again in 20 years when I am married and can adopt. I continued to be part of the advocacy group and follow blogs.

A year and a half passes. Enter in photography, my new passion, and with adoption moms. :P (Let that speak for itself, hahaha)

Two years pass, and I go to the Dominican Republic for the best week of my life. Playing with orphans, and chatting with (orphan) girls my age was life & heart changing. I came back from that week blessed and even more passionate, but not satisfied. Oh well, I thought.

Three years pass.

My mother got an email, and decided to look at a photo listing for orphan hosting. She usually doesn't read emails from adoption agencies.


We are hosting a an adorable little girl this summer, for about 5 weeks! It is official! And oh, she is the cutest thing with the biggest personality!

WOW! JUST WOW! I am pinching myself, 24 hours later! I did not see this coming!

I will definitely be able to share more information as time goes on. For now, I wanted to share the news.

No, we are not adopting her, and we probably won't. Her medical need has a lot of unknowns, so we will be able to collect information on her and advocate for her until a family steps forward. It will suck sending her back to her orphanage in China, but the benefits of hosting outweigh the heartbreak and disappointment of sending her back.

I know hosting, in itself, is probably not the most exciting thing in the world, but for me it's the start of a bigger plan God might have. Sure, it may not work out to host, and orphan care may end up being a one time thing (but I pray it won't be!)

We would appreciate prayer. There are a lot of unknowns and concerns walking into this, and even though it's "official", it's no guarantee that this will even happen!

The next post in "my story" won't be until it unfolds a little more. Hopefully that will be as the time to pick her up approaches. I am excited to see it unfold. <3

Monday, March 2, 2015

Q&A - Part 1

Thanks, y'all, for the questions! If you have any more questions for part 2, don't hesitate to leave a comment!

1) What is your favorite photo editing tool (if you use one)?

I use Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC. 65% of my editing happens in Lightroom, and it is the program I would recommend to beginners (and most pros use it too!). It makes my workflow sooo much quicker. It is intuitive, yet gives me many creative options. Most pros use both Lightroom and Photoshop.

2) What kind of camera do you have? (And what do you recommend?)

I use the Nikon D610 (he is my camera soulmate), and mine's name is Chris. I upgraded a year ago from the D3100. Despite the mixed reviews Chris gets, I love him. I also have multiple lenses I alternate between depending on the subject matter.
For first timer DSLR-ers, I would recommend the Canon Rebel t5i. But get the body only, and buy a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 lens separately. The lens that comes with the camera won't give you the crisp focus and blurred backgrounds you dream of.

3) Why do you think dating is the best way to go (I totally agree with you on this!)?

I'm in a conservative Christian school (not extreme conservative, like the Duggars. I totally respect that about the Duggars, even though I do not have their lifestyle in common), and most everyone has intentions to save sex for marriage (even though there is a small handful of folks that already have. But, we all have struggles and sins, and their's happen to be in that area. There is no use in judging or treating/thinking of them any differently because of that.) In middle school, there were only three couples, and now, nearly two and three years later, two of the three are still (surprisingly!) going strong. The other couple broke up after 6 months. There are like four couples in my class of 175, and like five in the senior class. The big thing at my school is asking girls out to homecoming, the Christmas banquet, and prom. It's a fun tradition at my school. A lot of the guy-girl relationships are strictly friendships. I have a lot of guy friends too, and I don't see a problem with that. There aren't any "courters" at my school, so close girl-guy friendships are certainly not frowned upon. The extra-conservative courtship crowd does see a problem with that. Most of the guys at my school are great guys! Anywho, off that tangent, at a school where everyone is like-minded, it's not hard to be pure because of the atmosphere. If something happens, trust me, everyone will know about it in under 2 hours. There just isn't that temptation.
I'm not really sure what's wrong with the way my parents, grandparents, and nearly every married or engaged couple I know dated. If I was in a community (like the Duggars) where everyone courted, it would be appropriate to court, and it would work. If I went to school tomorrow and told everyone that I decided to court like the Duggars, I'm pretty sure everyone would look at me like I have lobsters crawling out my ears. I'm in a Christian community that, unlike the Duggars, choses to be in secular culture, but not be refections of the secular culture. When it comes to dating, its what you do, not what you call it. Plus, most conservative Christian dating could probably fit into the "courtship" category.
Anywho, I don't have time to date in high school. I am busy! I will cross that bridge when it comes. When that time does come, I think it will resemble dating more than super conservative courting.

4) What's your best memory from 2014 or something that you will cherish forever?

My trip to the Dominican Republic - especially the relationships forged on that trip. What a beautiful, life-changing week in a beautiful country that I love dearly. I know I will be back. If only I could publicly share photos of the beautiful kids we were with. We came to serve, and we were served by these orphans. It completely blew away all stereotypes of orphans that I had previously. The magnitude of that week is not lost on me, 11 months later.

5) What are you reading in the Bible right now? (Or a devotional book you are going through?) 

I am reading Philippians right now!

6) Are you the oldest/youngest or in the middle of the kids in your family? 

Youngest. :( Ugh, my parents (okay, my mom, not my dad) are sooo overprotective sometimes. :( They (ok, she) were NOT like that before!

7) What has been most influential in your life to keep you living for Christ? 

Hmmmm.... I don't know!

8) What are the biggest struggles for you living in a non-Christian world? (If you don't want to answer this publicly you don't have to! It's a little more personal!)

Right now, I would say that the biggest struggle is denying myself and picking up my cross daily and following Him. Denying myself of choices where a reputation and other's opinions, especially, are the only rewards and choosing to follow Christ. 

If you knew that you only had 24 hours left to live, what would you do?

My Christian-girl answer is seek forgiveness from the many people I have hurt. In school, we had a chapel speaker that made a list of everyone he had hurt and then he went and asked forgiveness. What a COOL thing to do. I want to do it and I know I should, but it sounds too scary!

I would probably go to Cedar Point, if we are honest. :)

Have you ever kept a journal/diary up?

HAHA! I've tried, but failed and I don't think I shall try again.
 My grandma kept one up every day for her entire life from the time she was very young. She saved them, and I was the lucky grandkid that inherited them. I have to wait 20 years to read them. Her reasoning was that in 20 years, all the current conflicts will be resolved anyway. If they were read today, you better believe that drama would be caused! I already read part of her 2014 journal (oops), and I see why I have to wait! :) ;)
What is your favorite food? Color? 

Deep dish pizza, folks. I live in deep dish land, and it's a HUGE deal here!

What is your favorite instrument? (Either to play or to listen to) 

I play violin, but I like listening to the cello on pandora or spotify if I am trying to fall asleep. For homework, I always put JT Mirrors on repeat. Super weird since I don't even like that song very much, but for the past year, that's been my homework song. Probably from habit. I'm listening to it right now, haha.
What is one thing that you would like to do in 2015?

China, to love on orphans. The past two summers, God has closed that door and it has been very disappointing. But I'm hoping He opens that door this summer. I've been taking Mandarin. Could you pray for that, please?

Who's you favorite band?

I'm not a band person. I know, disappointing. I'm a floater and I just hang out with whatever songs are popular.

Personality in three words? 

Introverted, bubbly, happy, and weird. (that's 4!)


I had to get up and get the tape measure for this one! I think 5'2.5"

Favorite Book?

Hmm... Super cliche, but Fault in Our Stars, maybe?

Favorite number?

I don't have one!

Are you homeschooled?

No, I have been at an awesome Christian school since pre school! It would be cool to be homeschooled for a year, and I wish I had as a younger child. There's no turning back. :) I'm lazy and it's hard waking up at like 6:35 every morning.

How old are you? 


What is your favorite thing to take pictures of?

I am a natural light photographer that specializes in seniors, children, families, and engagement. :) (That's a mouthful!

Thanks again for all the questions! Please ask more for my next post (and don't be afraid to ask TMI questions!)