Below is a piece I wrote for Authenticity Book House and their Devotional for Writers series. Enjoy!
What if we wrapped our writing process in the blanket of worship? This question swirls around in my mind each time I sit down to write.
Below is a piece I wrote for Authenticity Book House and their Devotionals for Writers series. Enjoy!
Be true. I preach this to myself daily. Whether I grab coffee with a friend, get to know a co-worker, or write a book, I must stay true. I write raw and honest stories for those held captive to the lies and fears of the dark ruler of this world.
I am a soldier for Christ; therefore, I resolve to wear my imperfections as his armor protects me. When I embrace vulnerability, I write true so others might find freedom.
I ask myself—do I write to impress others, or do I write to love others well?
Write true to Christ, to his fight for the lost, to grace, to truth.
Let me challenge you—mirror the surrender of Christ to the Father and devote every book, paragraph, and comma to your Creator.
It requires humility, courage, and boldness.
A humble stance.
Do not think so highly of yourself and so lowly of others. Write with the humility of Christ, who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Phil. 2:5–8).
In all his divinity, Christ took on the form of a servant. The President of Reflections Ministries, Dr. Boa, defines humility as “the strength and understanding of one’s great dignity and identity in Christ.”
What does a posture of humility look like in your writing? Do you write out of fear and control? Or do you write out of confidence in your identity in Christ? Remember who you are.
A commitment to courage.
Courage stands tall and peers into fear’s eyes, piercing the depth of its dark soul. Put on the courage of Moses as he freed his people from slavery and stood up to Pharaoh (Ex. 9:1).
What are you afraid to write? Take courage. Write the vulnerable story that leaves you shaking in the knees. What if it frees a reader from a fatal lie? Write for the flourishing of others. Usher in the abundant life Christ promises.
A bold spirit.
Do not give way to a spirit of timidity, but speak with boldness (2 Tim. 1:7). Put on the boldness of Paul who fought for the world to know the saving power of his Holy God. He fought to the point of imprisonment and even to his death (Acts 16:16–40, 23:23–35, 28:16).
Who do you need to be bold for? What has the Lord revealed to you that needs to be shared with others? Don’t succumb to timidity.
We write true to fight for others, out of a devotion to Christ. We take our pens, and we put to death the lies, fears, and sins that hold us captive. We fight for those who know not the comfort of the Father’s love. We challenge and strengthen the exhausted believers. We write for the hopeless. We write for those entangled in sin.
Below is a brief post written for Authenticity Book House and their Devotional for Writers series. Enjoy!
A couple months ago I walked through a dry spell. I dragged my feet like a crippled zombie.
I worked 40+ hours during the week and plus some on the weekends. I slapped on my makeup and exhausted myself over trying to put together a cute outfit. The only place I saw my friends was during an hour in church on Sunday mornings and a couple hours at home group.
Busyness leaves my writing life and spiritual life as fertile as cracked soil of the Atacama Desert. I run dry on inspiration when I get caught up in my to-do list. But when I slow down, drop after drop of inspiration waters my mind.
After February ended with all the conferences, projects, and work deadlines, I resolved to water my soul and created some time of sacred silence.
I turned off my TV to read and spend time in the Word. I signed up for art classes, refused to check my inbox on weekends, and planted the herbs I’ve been wanting to try.
I had lost sight of the value of rest and community. The introvert, perfectionist, task-oriented side of me didn’t realize how much the weariness impacted me as a writer and follower of Christ.
Throughout the Gospel of Luke, we find references of Christ walking away from the crowds to be alone in prayer. Christ took note of the people around him, listening not to just their words, but the condition of their hearts. He dove deep into the well of people’s lives.
Christ accomplished much in his three-year ministry, not because he focused on the task at hand, but because he focused on His Father and the people.
Take note of the world around you. Don’t passively walk through the crowds; soak in the people you meet. Get to know your waiter. Talk with your co-workers. Take out the headphones and rest in the outdoors. Turn off Netflix and open the fresh pages of a book.
As writers, how can we love ourselves and people well? Take note of the moments around us. Check out these three suggestions below.
- Schedule a time of silence. Turn off the computer and TV. Put the phone on “Do not disturb” mode. Use this time to read a book, soak in the words of the Bible, and kneel in prayer.
- Keep a notebook on you. Take note of what you see, what people say, how they inspire you, challenge you and make you think. Whether you go on a walk, drive to work, or grab some food on lunch break, notice the moments around you. What do you see?
- Ask questions. Get to know the people around you. What’s the story of your desk mate at work? How well have you gotten to know the parents of the kids your children go to school with? What’s your barista’s name?
As you take note of the world around you, you become present in the moment. This is a challenge to be intentional, to engage others, to take care of yourself.
This frees you to flourish, not just as a writer, but as a follower of Christ. Taking note of the people around you and the moments that pass by spills into your writing life, allowing inspiration and stories to bloom.
Below you will find a personal article I wrote up from my time with Children's Relief International in Mozambique this past June. I struggle to tell my stories in person. But when I get to sit down, grind through words for hours, erase, delete, and rewrite, then it starts to pour out. I hope you all enjoy this one.
Let me introduce you to our sister in Christ, Ines Guereiro (in the picture above). I met her while documenting our Green Door Project, who builds homes for families in need.
As a widow, Ines and her sixteen-year-old granddaughter spend most days cooking, walking miles to fill jugs with water, and hand-washing clothes.
“After losing my four children, I was looking for hope and protection.” -Ines
With the loss of her family came the burden of loneliness. She ached for shelter, safe and security. A few years ago, a missionary came and shared how she could find eternal shelter. That day Ines accepted Christ.
She now attends Dondo Baptist Church. Here it was mentioned that there was a program called Green Door that built homes for people like her. Because of many generous donors this past spring, CRI was able to put Ina on the list to have a house built this summer.
"It brings me great joy to not have to replace my grass roof anymore." -Ines A Green Door home means families don't worry about termites. The chance of catching malaria decreases drastically. They don’t have to sleep standing up during the heavy rains. Green Door doesn't offer just a home; it offers comfort, safety, and hope. Families can work, provide for others, and receive an education without the stress of managing a mud home.
As the work crew began building, Ines waited with excitement and thanksgiving. The morning we flew out, she woke up for her Green Door home dedication, where Manuel taught Ines how to use keys for the first time.
The mornings I spent talking with Ines, getting to pray with her and hear her story filled me with so much thankfulness for my job. I am honored to get to be a part of her life, share her story, and learn from her. I cannot wait for you all to meet her one day when we get to Heaven.
Below is a short excerpt I recently wrote for Children's Relief International during my time in Mozambique this past month. This Well Dedication rattled the depths of my heart with the strength of an earthquake. I pray this brief piece does so for you too.
“I don’t think I would sleep if I didn’t drill wells for these people. Clean water is not for privileged people like me—it is for everyone.” -Ercylio Greva
After experiencing his first four months of marriage without clean water, the Lord poured a desire into Ercylio’s heart to bring clean water to God’s children. Outside Dondo, Mozambique, you will find the small district of Mount Siluvo with one of our church plants. The women of this area travel three kilometers each morning juggling 20-liter jugs for fresh water.
For eight years the church at Mount Siluvo prayed for clean water. Year after year passed. Yet their faith did not crack in the dry and weary silence. Neither doubt nor fear contaminated the Living Water they trusted. And after those eight years, by the power of our God and Ercylio’s vision, the community of Mount Siluvo sipped fresh water from their own well.
The church gathered outside to dance around the well, while singing praises to their Provider. The pastor, João Mubata and his wife pumped the well for the first time, as crystal clear water poured out. Children splashed fresh water on their faces. As families from all over Mount Siluvo visit the well, the church can now not only offer clean water, but share the good news about Jesus too.
Ercylio and his team have mapped out land surrounding Dondo, Mozambique to bring hope and rest to more families through clean water. Now we are ready to drill more wells.
Let us join Ercylio and let clean water revive the lives of God’s children.
After forty-eight hours of flying, layovers, and an overnight stay in Santa Cruz, we finally made it. The seat belt lights went off. We landed in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I looked around me. My mind felt frozen. I had the jitters and I already dreaded the day I would have to leave. These were my first few moments in a developing country.
We loaded the bus and drove out to our hotel. I hurried to a window seat, pulled out my camera and captured everything I saw. I never thought the air back home seemed polluted, but when I smelled the Cochabamba air, it was freshness unlike anything I had smelled before. We weaved around cars on the dirt roads. Stands with umbrellas cluttered the sides of the streets selling fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat on sticks. Everything seemed so new and so fresh, yet so fitting. It was a whole other world to me, but at the same time it felt so familiar and so much like a new home.
The main roads in the city seemed chaotic like all cities. But when we drove out to our village, everything slowed down. Men herded their cattle through the streets. Boys strolled along on bikes. Women and children worked their village’s convenient-like stores selling bags of water, sodas, and candy. We pulled into the drive away of the home of one of the families we would be working with.
We gathered every morning with the men, women, and their children. I had never seen such eagerness, energy, and excitement to start a church in a village. The energy was contagious. I felt it not just among the adults, but among the kids too, especially my dear friend, eight-year-old Jasmin.
Each afternoon, our teams would meet back at one of the families’ homes to share stories over hot cups of green tea and pastry breads. After we finished our meals, Jasmin and her friends would pull Kendall and me down to the floor. Sitting Indian style, we gathered around with the girls as they taught us Spanish and giggled at our attempts. Kendall brought with her a bilingual Bible stories book. The girls loved it. They would press their fingers to the pages, read the Spanish words, and make us repeat after them. On the last day in the village, Jasmin’s mom let her accompany us on our last visit walk around. Those next few hours play in my mind like a old timey movie reel. So vivid. I could never forget what would happen.
Jasmin led the way. She took me by the hand and guided me and my interpreter, Sindy out to her friend’s house. Once we reached the door, Jasmin knocked and shouted over the wall, asking her friend to come outside. Normally I would talk with the families and share the Gospel story, but this time I took a backseat role and watched Jasmin do her thing. This little eight-year-old friend inspired me. Jasmin began telling her friend about Jesus. Sindy stood by her side to help her with any details she might forget. As the minutes passed, I saw Jasmin and her friend bowing their heads and closing their eyes fiercely tight. Her friend wanted to give her life to Jesus. Sindy stepped back. With a big grin, trying to contain her excitement in a whisper, Sindy told me what happened. Jasmin and her friend turned to us and smiled so big. We all just looked around at each other and laughed.
There was no other way I could imagine ending our time in the village. We headed back to the house, so Sindy and I could catch my taxi back to the airport. I realized that day, some of the most difficult experiences happen for some of the best reasons. As we all hugged and shared stories of God’s work in the village. Jasmin stood near the back waiting to see me. She came up to me, wrapped her arms tight around my waist, and we cried. She handed me the best gift I have ever received, a framed photo of herself. I didn’t know what to say. I had no words. My sweet friend opened my eyes to so much. Her energy and excitement for Jesus revived my life, just like that Cochabamba air.
I have spent the last several months brainstorming, writing, praying, and seeking wisdom as to what to name my new business. Words and photographs play tug-a-war with my heart. The dance between words and photographs has grown to consume my heart. And finally, I get to introduce to you (drum roll please): Written Shutter.
So what does “Written Shutter” mean? Written Shutter combines two powerful forces: writing and photography. With my camera and pen, I gradually sink into each person I meet, layer after layer. Scuba divers sink under the ocean’s waves. They swim against the current and dive deep into the heart of the ocean. In the same way, through words and photographs, I dive into a person’s rhythm. I go against the rushing current and sink into the everyday moments. The interview and the camera are just an excuse to be with the people.
Written Shutter is about kicking back and spending some hours immersing into the depths of a moment. Over the past two years, I have become excellent at freezing over my heart. Vulnerability rattled me like an earthquake. Eventually my walls came tumbling down. Yet, this world-shattering leap of faith freed me. We all tend to mask, deny, or hide ourselves to some degree. My heart is to let my shutter and my pen open the soul of each person.
In my upcoming book to released this coming Spring 2015, I talk about my journeys around the world on short-term mission trips. Sadly, when I signed up for my first mission trip, I did so out of more fascination with an unknown world than a desire to tell people about my Savior. In this book, I share what I learned from the people I met in various countries through my photographs and written words.
Here is a small clip from my first chapter, "Unexposed":
I did not go on my first mission trip to tell anyone about my Savior.
Sadly, the idea of having my own photographs of a foreign life entranced me. Little foreign children scurrying around my feet made me giddy. And having a purse made in a foreign country and not just shipped to the United States with the sticker, “Made in China” got me to sign up for my first mission trip.
One summer, a friend of mine, Hannah, came home after working in Zambia for a month. We grabbed some popcorn, jumped on her bed, and stories rambled from her mouth for hours. She told me two stories I would never forget—two stories that changed my life.
She told me about a little Zambian girl who pulled her aside one day while on the campground. After they found a secluded place, tears began to flood the little girl’s eyes. Her silent sobs turned into raging tears. Terrified of what might happened if she told someone, she cried in my friend’s arms for hours. Eventually, the little girl shared what happened each night after her parents went to sleep. The witch in the village coaxed the little girl outside of the hut. For the next couple hours, the witch would try to force her and other children to eat human meat and sip on human blood, so demonic spirits would possess her.
Is this what happened in all foreign countries? Were they all really this dark? My thoughts exploded like a spilt bag of ping-pong balls. I could not gather my thoughts.
Sitting on her bed, Hannah shared another story. Another day at the camp, a lady ran up during worship time. Foam dripped from her mouth and her eyes bulged, as if she was about to combust. A group of leaders ran over to see the woman. The woman collapsed on the ground, with her hands and legs violently convulsing. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head. Foam gurgled from her lips. The leaders shouted prayers over her. Minutes later, the name “Jesus” mumbled from her lips and everything ceased. Her vibrating body turned into a limp rag. Her eyes closed and her mouth relaxed. As someone squeezed her hand, she began to wake up, as if nothing had every happened.
After she slowly came to her feet, the leaders comforted her. As they sat and talked, the woman began to process this power of a Holy God. After experiencing His saving grace in that moment, she decided to become a follower of Christ.
In both of these stories, the fear of darkness led this little girl and this woman to run into the arms of God. But for me, as I heard these stories, I wanted to see these things for myself. I wanted to see the power of God in this explicit manner. Demon possessions, witches, and cannibalism shattered everything I had ever known. I had to go and see for myself if these stories were real.
If you have any questions or would like to help promote the book, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
One year ago today, I had the privilege of interviewing former Navy SEAL, Remi Adeleke for the non-profit, I am Second. In regards to both interviewing and photography, my favorite part of the job is getting to hear about a life so unlike your own. What was unique about this interview, was that I not only got to talk with Remi about his experiences overseas, but also hear from his wife. Remi and his wife, Jessica, share an inspirational story of mental-toughness and dedication to God. To read more: http://www.iamsecond.com/2013/11/to-serve-a-nation-a-veterans-take-on-second/
Today, about 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, I got to talk with one of our former staff member's at I am Second, Denny. If you have ever seen some of the photo stories of those who walk through Breast Cancer treatment, you have seen how it tear apart a woman's hope and dignity. It leaves me asking, is there light in the midst of such an invasive disease? What amazed me the most about Denny, is that she could answer this question with a resounding "yes." To hear more about her story: http://www.iamsecond.com/2013/10/breast-cancer-and-greif/