On Giving What You’ve Got

I did a photo shoot for COR the other day which was pretty exciting.  Since we first moved here I knew I’d love to have this chance someday.  I think photography is really important, but depending the direction you go with it can feel kind of like fluff.  Using it instead to expose issues or to bring beauty to someone who has suffered a lot of loss could be powerful and life changing.

When the development director first contacted me about taking pictures of COR’s programs, I was ecstatic.

The morning of the shoot I woke up feeling grim and just thinking getting dressed felt like a big deal. Work all day when I could be enjoying Steve’s day off with my family, lugging equipment, and working with difficult lighting situations didn’t sound very glamorous.

Worse, yet, I was filled with insecurity and wanted to do nothing besides burrow under the covers.  Why did I agree to do this? Now I’m feeling rough…how will I make it through the day? I don’t know if I have the skills. What if I don’t get the shots they need?  I don’t think I’m qualified for this.

There are many days when I am weak and timid and self-doubting, but God is strong and confident and secure. I want to learn to exchange my thoughts for His thoughts about me.

That morning I prayed that God would give me strength, got dressed and headed to the mission.  I got there a few minutes early and my brain was still racing with reasons that I was not cut out for this job. Mostly I was so afraid that I’d send in pictures that were sub-par.

Asking God to please give me a word, I reached for my Bible lying beside me and flipped it open. The story in front of me was the parable of the talents ending with the verse telling us that if we use the talents we have been given we’ll be given more talents, but if we don’t use what we’ve been given they will be taken away.

Doesn’t it just blow you away when God speaks so specifically to what you needed right in a moment??!  It gave me such a rush and  a feeling of protection to know that God knew how insecure I was feeling and gave me the encouragement I needed to hear.

I was praying as I walked inside that I would be faithful with the gifts He has given me and could find JOY in them.  Maybe I felt like I only had a little strength…but I would use that little bit of strength today as long as it lasted.  Maybe I felt I only had a little bit of skill…but I would use that little bit of skill for His glory.

It helped me remember that He would walk with me all day, that He would give me strength, that He was the one who had given me a creative eye and a mind for details and wanted me to do well.

The day went well.  It was hard work, but I was stronger than I expected I’d be. I had an assistant who helped me carry gear and set up lighting and who supported me in lots of ways.  There were situations that required flexibility and creativity, but God gave me ideas for how to work with them. Several people were angry with me for taking pictures, but God gave me peace (after some initial shakiness and more prayer) and I was able to keep moving forward.

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Last evening I put together a small collection of photos to give to the development director and for the first time I realized that the pictures were solid.  What’s really great, is how  these pictures now feel like a gift from God.  They aren’t about my abilities, but the fact that He will use us and give abundance when we’re willing to use the small gifts we have been given.

This is Our World

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This is our neighborhood where over 40% of people live at or below the poverty level (compared to 17% statewide and 15% across the country)

This is a world where more than 90% of families are single parent  families.

The median annual income is $22,000.

Medical care and school systems are very poor, and the crime rate is one of the worst in the entire southeast.

There are some nice houses in this area.  Back in the day it was a nicer area.  Drugs have ravished this community.

If it were possible to take a nice house here and place it in a neighborhood just five miles from here where there are better school, retail within walking distance, better medical care, and more safety, the value would increase by 3-4 times.

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There are impoverished neighborhoods much like this all across the country. The needs are so deep and so extensive. They aren’t the most beautiful, clean, or safe places to live; but they are full of people who are created in the image of God, children who need an advocate, adults who need someone to help them find their way–all people who need Jesus.

There’s this catchphrase that I’ve heard quite a lot in the blogging world.

Do for one what you wish you could do for the world.

For a long while it was just that to me–a nice inspirational line.  As I began to feel my complete inadequacy here–especially in times when I couldn’t do anything at all–it gave me a bit of courage.  We can all be a part of life giving change if we offer the little we have to give. God can take that small investment of love or money or time and use it exponentially for His glory.

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Do for one what you wish you could do for the world.

End of Summer Fun

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There’s nothing like the end of summer to make you really enjoy a good swim.  When you’ve started back to school already, and the days aren’t blistering hot you know those swimming days will be over way too soon.

Michelle and her family came to see us in September, and as usual we packed the time full of fun–partially because there is always such a huge list of things we’d like to do together and partially because the boys will bounce off the walls if we don’t. =D

So there was lots of swimming–three times, at least–and roller blading and playing with Legos and a visit to IKEA, a picnic, an IMAX movie on sharks (the look of wonder on the boys’ faces was just priceless.  Ian sat with his hand over his open mouth for the first 10 minutes and Liam’s mouth was open at least half that long).

What else? Well, there was some downtime and shopping–oh, yeah, Michelle and I must’ve broken a record for time spent in one Goodwill.  Haha.  Our cart was loaded with treasures, and we nearly clothed her family for the winter.

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One evening we walked the Beltline and hung out at the skatepark for awhile.  The Beltline has become one of my favorite places in the city. It’s several mile long paved path that is perfect for being active along with other Atlantans.

 

 

 

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A Warm Breakfast for Autumn

Mornings are telling us that fall is here for real. At our house this looks like slippers on feet and jackets at the breakfast table and faces less ready to smile.

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A warm breakfast in the belly brings its own kind of comfort and sounds like the kind of thing that would be comforting on cool fall mornings. In reality the boys are disappointed that they aren’t eating cereal and frown a little more.

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day they say. Breakfast also happens to be that meal we get to before we’ve quite woken up. I’m trying really hard to get our days off to a healthy start and to cook things the boys enjoy.  They don’t all love oatmeal (and honestly I don’t either). It works for all of our diets, though, and foods like that are rare and worth keeping.

I tried to jazz up oatmeal a little and came up with this combination. It’s a nice fall breakfast: Oatmeal (instant) prepared, sprinkled with chia seeds,  and drizzled with maple syrup.

I convinced the boys to eat chia sees by

1) calling them sprinkles (worked for Ian and Paxton)

2) telling them that Aztec Indians used chia seeds to give them energy to run all day long. I convinced them that they would help them to grow stronger and have more endurance.  (worked for Zachary and Ian)

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I recently won a gift basket from Quaker Oats which included a huge box of maple flavored individual oatmeal packages.  The sugar content is too high for me to consider it a healthy breakfast, so I’ve mixed two packages with 1/2-1 c. of regular quick oats.

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Oatmeal topped with cinnamon, chia seeds, and maple syrup

My goals for food are:

Healthy, tasty, economical, easy, attractive

This dish pretty much covers them all.  It’s not super healthy with the oatmeal being instant (it will quickly turn to sugar in the body), but I’ll let it pass.

Toasted pecans, almonds, or coconut would be a delicious addition to this oatmeal.

An Atlanta family's story: learning to love God and others

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