It’s amazing how you can take your hometown for granted, how you can completely miss the beauty of where you live simply because you see it all the time. When … Continue reading Exploring Red Bluff
We asked several of our photographer friends to help us capture Tori’s Celebration of Life on Saturday so that we wouldn’t miss a thing. Here are some of the photos … Continue reading Tori’s Celebration of Life – Part One
My philosophy as a photographer has always been to overshoot rather than undershoot. I’d rather have many unneeded photos that I end up deleting than to not have ones that … Continue reading Photographs and Memories
I found out that I was pregnant on December 6th, 2013. This was welcomed news, but in the back of my mind I was wondering how this was going to impact my ability to serve in Guatemala just two months later. I knew that I would be in the beginning of the second trimester when we left, so in theory I would be feeling well enough and would have the energy to serve; but, I also knew that pregnancy places restrictions on a woman and makes her more “high maintenance” than a non-pregnant woman, so I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to do.
I spoke with one of our team leaders about it and she assured me that there would be plenty for me to do that would still allow me to take care of my baby. What I didn’t realize at the time was that God was planning to use me in a way I never would have expected.
I discovered last summer that my dream job was to do photography for missions organizations…to tell the stories that need to be told and to inspire people to act.
I have had the privilege of doing missions photography in Tunisia, Brazil, Haiti and New Orleans in the past…
…but I didn’t go to Guatemala thinking I would be able to do much with it. We had a full and exciting schedule of service and I was ready to jump right in alongside the team. I hoped that I would be able to take pictures along the way, but it was in no way something I expected to be able to do.
When we got to Guatemala and were talking through the projects for the first few days, our leaders mentioned that they (and many of the team members) wanted shots of several of the group activities that would be going on simultaneously and asked if I would focus on capturing everything for the team during this trip.
I was amazed, humbled, excited, and ready to dive in. I couldn’t believe that I was being asked to use my passion, my gift, my dream to bless the team in such a unique way.
Because I was taking pictures for everyone, they were able to focus solely on ministering to the beautiful children in our care. They were able to set their cameras aside when necessary in order to just be in the moment, while I did something that I love to do and could do even while pregnant.
I may have been unable to help paint the bedroom or the hallway at Mi Pequeno Refugio.
I may have been unable to lift things and carry boxes of food.
I may have been unable to be outside at The Ravine due to the burning trash and smoke.
But, I was able to use my gift to capture the team doing all of these things while still serving the Lord in Guatemala, just not in the way I had planned.
Thank you, Ronne and Courtney, for seeing this gift in me and allowing me to use it.
Thank you, team, for being so supportive and excited about what I was capturing.
I came home with over 5,800 images of our week. I’m currently down to 3,800 images with the promise of a snow day tomorrow during which I can edit. This experience gave me a glimpse of what it really would be like to do photography for missions organizations, and it confirmed in my heart that this is what I was made to do. I can’t wait for what God has in store for me next!
Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This one is new. 🙂
If you had told me a year ago that in the summer of 2013 I’d willingly join a community of people I have never met, and that I’d be sharing openly and honestly with them about my passions, dreams, and struggles, I likely would have laughed at you. But that is exactly what happened this past July (and continues in the present).
In late June, I received an email from Jon Acuff inviting me (and all of his readers) to join him on an adventure. He said it might require a passport and a machete. He sent the email to 250,000 people, and only 2,500 responded.
I was at Christian Retreat Center doing camp photography the day I received the email, and I knew immediately that I wanted to be in on this…that I needed this. It resonated with me. So, even though I had no idea what was about to happen, I said “yes” and dove in.
The first round started on July 15, and my world was changed in some fantastic ways.
Here’s how it worked:
- Jon Acuff created a secret Facebook group and invited those who responded to his invitation to join.
- Each day for 24 days, Jon sent out an email with a challenge for the day at 5am.
- A community was formed that is so hard to describe because it’s so awesome.
- We all worked hard toward our various goals and helped each other along the way.
- There ended up being a “Round Two” so that we could invite people to do “Start 101” while the “alumni” did “Start 201” – and it was awesome. Same format with emails being sent daily (and the theme was “audacious”).
(To read my blog posts about “The Start Experiment”, click here.)
When Jon sent out that email, I was in the perfect position to accept the invitation. I had been unemployed for almost two months. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life in terms of a career. I didn’t know what my dream was. I was just taking one day at a time, hoping that God would give me some direction.
Through the course of Round One, while I worked on being more self-disciplined, I was able to discover what I believe I was created to do: missions photography. I was able to take steps forward and bring this dream a little bit closer to reality. And I couldn’t have done this without Jon’s leadership/mentoring AND the amazing community that he built in The Start Experiment.
This community is real, open, honest, a little silly, loving, supportive, encouraging, non-judgmental. It’s a safe place to share your fears and your successes (“brag table”) without fear. It’s the closest thing to Heaven that I’ve experienced here on earth, by far.
I had the amazing privilege of being able to attend The Start Conference in Nashville in September, during which I strengthened these friendships “in real life” and made connections with people who are doing what I want to do (like Jeremy Cowart). I left that conference feeling so inspired, empowered, fulfilled, and energized.
If you are struggling with finding your dream, or if you know what your dream is but are struggling to make progress, please check out Jon’s website and his books – Quitter and Start. Both of this books have really impacted my life and have given me wise and practical advice about chasing my dream. If you’d like to join our Facebook community, let me know and I can talk to you about it!
If it weren’t for The Start Experiment, I can honestly say I’d be in a totally different place right now in terms of my career and plans for the future. I have gained so much confidence and have overcome so many fears through this community!
I am so thankful for Jon and for his leadership through example.
Preface: Last year I decided to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I never finished this series, so that’s my goal this year. I am re-posting the ones I wrote last year and adding new ones. This was originally posted on 11/21/12 (with slight changes made today).
One of my greatest passions is traveling and exploring God’s beautiful and wondrous creation.
God has blessed me with opportunities to travel to three continents, six countries, and thirty-eight states in my first thirty-one years of life.
I love experiencing new cultures…learning from them…enjoying them…photographing them.
There’s a whole lot of the world left to see (including Guatemala in February!), and I can’t wait to experience it with Brennan!
So thankful that God has created such a diverse world for us to enjoy…
The further into this Start Experiment I go, the more I am filled with wonder and anticipation at what God is doing in my life and in my marriage. The second round is already proving to be more amazing than the first, and I think part of that is simply due to the fact that I have been able to figure out my dream. The other part is that this community of people continues to grow closer together and the momentum continues to build. We’re all in this together.
So far, I am 4.5 lbs down from when I started this project, which isn’t impressive considering that it has been a month. However, I wasn’t as strict as I wanted to be during the first round. I admittedly didn’t try as hard as I should have. But, that has changed. I have newfound determination.
To give myself a visual goal, I hung a dress on my closet door that I want to wear on our anniversary. I currently cannot fit into this dress, but I love it. I really want to wear it on November 6th. But, in order to wear it, I need to lose probably 20 more pounds in the next 83 days. That is a little over 11 weeks from now, and if I lose the recommended 2 pounds per week, I can lose more than 20 by then. That will be about half of my weight-loss goal.
So this is my audacious health-related goal: to lose 20 pounds by my anniversary so that I can wear the black dress.
It begins again: 24 days of focused and audacious dreaming and risk-taking. Round One of The Start Experiment brought me such freedom and courage, and I am beyond excited to see what happens next.
My risks for the first round were focused on self-discipline (physical and spiritual), and I am going to continue those elements through this next round (and hopefully for the rest of my life). I will continue to eat clean, exercise, blog, and spend time with God each day.
As a result of the connections made in Round One, I was able to focus in more on what my dream is and what it is going to take to make it a reality.
I asked myself this question: if I could do anything at all for the rest of my life, regardless of whether I made money or not, what would that be? And the answer is this: I would travel around the world and take pictures in order to tell the stories that need to be told (i.e. missions, disaster/response, capturing God’s Creation, etc.).
That led me to create Essential Harrisburg. I realized that, through this new blog/website, I have an opportunity to grow my skills, increase my audience, share my city with the world, and use this as a way to serve the city in a new way all without having to fly anywhere. I needed to Start somewhere, so I decided to Start in my own backyard.
This leads to what I am risking for round two. The theme is “Audacious” and we were encouraged to be radical, to be risky and do something that really scares us. So, here’s what I’m going to do:
- Continue to work on self-discipline risk from Round One.
- Focus on writing a minimum of 3 posts a week (which includes photography) for www.essentialharrisburg.com in order to generate content like crazy so that I can approach someone from the City to connect with them and share my goals.
- Make contacts with people who can potentially help me obtain my dream job of being able to get paid to travel and do photography/missions.
- (the audacious one) Actually send my portfolio to a potential “employer” and not be afraid of rejection.
The next 24 days are going to be amazing…I just know it. I can’t wait to see what God does through this!
On July 30, 2012, I put a note in my brand-new smartphone (my first one) about a new project that I thought about starting:
One year went by, exactly, before I thought about this idea again. I totally forgot this note existed, and I only found it because I went to leave a note about the same thing.
One thing that the Start Experiment has taught me is that procrastination needs to no longer be part of my life. This is a huge example! A year ago I had an idea to jump-start my “dream” and I totally forgot about it. Who knows where I could be right now if I had Started right then?
Essential Harrisburg is now up and running, and I have probably a year’s worth of content already lined up! I’m trying to find my style and my voice, but I didn’t want to wait until it was perfect to Start. I can always go back and edit along the way 🙂
Please check out EssentialHarrisburg.com and “Like” it on Facebook! Follow it on Instagram #essentialharrisburg 🙂 Spread the word! Send in ideas for content (must be locally owned and operated places only–no chains). I’m so excited to spread the word about my community and learn even more in the process.
Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…
One of my greatest passions is traveling and exploring God’s beautiful and wondrous creation. God has blessed me with opportunities to travel to three continents, six countries, and thirty-four states in my first thirty years of life.
I love experiencing new cultures…learning from them…enjoying them…photographing them. There’s a whole lot of the world left to see, and I can’t wait to experience it with Brennan! So thankful that God has created such a diverse world for us to enjoy…