Life Lessons | One

Life is all about learning. It seems like there are always things left to be discovered and discovered by me. It's just when I think I've got life figure out, I think I know who I am, or I think I have the right thing to say in a given situation that my train gets completely derailed. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

A good friend of mine lost his mom. She had been sick for some time, and he had just purchased a ticket to fly back overseas to see her 30 minutes before receiving the phone call of her death.

When I received his text telling me what was going on, my heart sank. He is basically here without any of his family, so I felt the immediate need to rush to his apartment. I had no clue what I would say to him or what I could do to comfort him, but I knew that I needed to be there for him, whatever that meant. Once I arrived, I realized that words weren't necessary. If they were required, I would have failed miserable as a friend because I had none. Thank goodness that he just needed me there, to sit quietly while he made phone calls and arrangements.

God had given him peace, as he sometimes does in times of crisis. God had mentally prepared him for this moment, so he was able to accept God's comfort too. More importantly, she was a believer, so she is enjoying a much better place and is free from the pain she experienced here on earth.

I learned that living life alongside people is a powerful thing; it's what God has called us to do. It's almost always messy and usually calls us to be a better version of ourselves, but it is one of the most rewarding things on this earth.

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

I want to be a better version of me; the person that is only possible with God by my side. "Dying to self" is a difficult thing, but it is something that God has called each of us to do.

Selflessness. I'm up for the challenge, are you?


Sal & Raina's Engagement

Sal has become a good friend since last November when he first moved to New Orleans. This past weekend I took a road trip to attend his engagement party in Dallas. You see, he's Jordanian and engagements are a big deal. I'm still having trouble completely wrapping my head around everything, but his engagement involved a party, a ceremony with the exchanging of engagement rings and jewelry, singing, dancing, and lots of food. And there was Arabic...lots and lots of Arabic spoken. I pretty much didn't understand any of the ceremony, so it was good that I was focued on taking photographs of everything.

I had a great time; it made me feel like I was traveling internationally. In a way, I kind of did. The whole thing was a great experience, and it was even better just being there to support Sal. Also, I was finally able to meet Raina. She's even more beautiful in person than the pictures I'd seen. I'm looking forward to getting to know her, and I'm so happy for the two of them.

Like I said, it was eventful, so two posts are definitely required. Check back tomorrow for part two.


Whirlwind Weekend

I went on a whirlwind trip to Dallas this weekend, and I'm completely sleep deprived at the moment. I hope to have some pictures from Sal's engagement party up tomorrow; until then, here's Joe being Joe.


Hannah: Take Two

I couldn't resist posting these pictures of Hannah. Gorgeous!

Tomorrow...pictures of Holli.


Bywater Artistry

As I mentioned yesterday, the Bywater of New Orleans is such a unique place. I took pictures of all of the fun art that we saw along the way. There's graffiti, stencil art, and two amazing murals. I also took a picture of an alligator, just for my friend Sal. He adores them, and I couldn't resist (not that he reads this blog).

On a different note, I didn't realize...
1. That we had walrus
2. That we needed to save them

Have you seen any amazing graffiti in New Orleans? If so, I'd love to hear what and where.


Sisters: Holli & Hannah

I spent Saturday afternoon with Joe and his cousins, Holli and Hannah. You may remember that we had a session with Hannah awhile back. This time, we wanted to capture the sister element. We chose to shoot in the Bywater because there are so many unique and quirky things there. I LOVE  taking pictures more than almost anything else, but I also appreciate the discovery of new things here in New Orleans. Even the places that we've been to before change because the graffiti changes.

Enough talking...time for photography.


Forgotten God

I just finished Francis Chan's Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, it was a very challenging book. I wish I could give you this great summary of the whole thing that would make you want to run out and buy it, but I'm an artist and my brain doesn't work that way.

In the last chapter, there is a great paragraph that really summed up some of it for me:

I don't want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn't be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if He doesn't come through, I am screwed.

He goes on to talk about 1 Kings 18, with Elijah and the prophets of Baal. He says his favorite part is how the prophets say, "The Lord - he is God!" They didn't complement Elijah on his great prayer or speaking ability; they recognized God and His power.

It's a great reminder and ties in with a Scripture I read earlier today. John 7:18 - He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

Who are you working to gain honor for?

Read the book; I'd love to hear what you learn. I have to give a shout out to Jim at Cornerstone Church for such a cool cover design; I like it more than most I have seen in a long time.


Girls' Night

If you know me, then you probably know I was a tomboy growing up. I enjoyed the outdoors, and spent every day after school outside. I played street basketball with all the guys in my neighborhood, and I wasn't half bad. There were many skinned knees, but I didn't really mind. It made me feel tough, playing with the guys and not crying when I got hurt.

Some of these things are the reason that friendships with guys came naturally for me. I always thought girls were too high maintenance. They were always really sensitive, and they hold grudges for all eternity. That was just way too intense for me, so I liked my place as "one of the guys." It took me a long time to realize that I didn't REALLY want to be "one of the guys." Go figure; I'm a girl and need to act like one. :)

It has been a process, but God has really shown me what a blessing it can be to have great girls in my inner circle. I cherish the fun I have with them and the crazy things that we can laugh about together. Plus, they know the real secret about me...I'm such a sap! Shhhhh, don't tell anyone! Most importantly, we can challenge each other with what God is teaching us and share how we can pray for one another.

Anyway, here are a couple photographs of the food that McKenzie made from our Girls' Night last weekend. I find it amusing that I didn't actually take any pictures of the girls; what was I thinking?