Archive for June, 2012

The Illuminated Word Project (June): Story

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

This year, I am participating in a group project with other photographers across the country. Once a month, we each select a part of the Bible and represent it some way visually through our photos.

We are a diverse group of seven women with different beliefs, and I am looking forward to an ongoing conversation with these photographers and with the people who read these blog posts.

Welcome to The Illuminated Word Project!


***After reading below, please check out all of the other photographers participating in this project. The next step is Gail Pomare of Aroha Photography. Just click HERE.***

Karen and storytelling
Meet Karen. Some of you may already know her or know about her. She is one of the best visual storytellers I know. She takes countless photos of her family. And when you read her blog, you get an honest taste of what her family is like. Her photos remind you of the beauty in everyday life.

Her work reminds me of the importance of story.

I just got to meet Karen in person when I visited her in Oregon. Ever since I took her photography class three years ago, I have wanted to meet her in person. This past weekend, we took photos together. We ate lots of great food together. We drove around together. We edited images together. We went jogging together. We dreamed about the future together. We played with her kids and hung out with her husband together. (I hope to blog more about our weekend together very soon.)

We asked each other a lot of questions about life and about photography.
And we started to piece together each other’s story. I got to see flashes of God’s mercy and kindness woven through Karen’s life.

I will leave it to her to decide how she wants to tell her story. All I’ll say is that as I heard more and more pieces of her story (and believe me, we both covered a lot of ground), her current situation made more and more sense to me. In other words, I got a better understanding of the person that she is now as I learned more about who she used to be. I couldn’t begin to get to know Karen at this place in her life until I learned her story or her context.

The Bible and Story
It took me a while as a Christian to get the importance of story. I used to want to put God and His Word in nice and neat categories—even though I now realize that is impossible. I wanted to extract certain passages about different topics (like marriage, the church, Christian growth, money, God’s will, etc.), reorder them, and then file them in my mental filing cabinet. I thought that this filing system would give me guidance and help me make good decisions. But that is not how the Bible works.

As the intro to The Jesus Storybook Bible makes clear, the Bible is The Story about Jesus. I know that may sound super basic and obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me. Most of the Bible is narrative, not ethical principles. And any time you read ethical principles, they flow out of historical narrative.

Listen to what Sally Lloyd Jones writes, “Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done. Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes. . . . They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book or rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s like an adventure story about a young Hero who came from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne, everything to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that have come true in real life.

You see, the best thing about this story is—it’s true.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”

Now, of course, Sally Lloyd Jones didn’t come up with the idea that the Bible is one, unified Story about Jesus. Jesus himself said it as he interpreted all of God’s Word to two travelers after he rose from the dead:

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24.27).

Back then when someone said, “Moses and all the Prophets”, it was shorthand for the whole Bible.

my story and The Story
So in order to understand the Bible, you have to see Jesus. But God takes it even further. He builds on this idea of One Big Story about Jesus when He teaches us that our stories are embedded in The Story of God’s Word.

This idea of our lower case “s” stories embedded in the upper case “S” Story is all over Scripture. You read it in places like:

Colossians 3.3-4: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

II Timothy 2.11: The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him.

And Paul practically beats you over the head with this notion that our story is embedded in Christ’s Story in chapter one of Ephesians. I mean, how many times can someone pack phrases like “in Christ”, “in him”, “in the beloved”, “through him” to drive home the point?

Here are some ways God’s Story connects to mine:
God created the good world. Therefore, I am His creature responsible to Him.

The world came undone as a result of sin. Therefore, I live in a world broken by sin and full of suffering. My heart turns from God. I hurt people. People hurt me. Life is now the way it is supposed to be.

God is remaking the world through the death and resurrection of His Son. Christ died for me. I get credit for His perfect life. I am a new person with a new desire to live for God and not for myself. I’m a work in progress. I am a daughter of the King.

I still have a lot to understand about this idea that my story is embedded in His Story. I think it will take a lifetime for me to understand the importance of my story as it relates to God’s work. And I know that I will need God’s wisdom to see how other people’s stories relate to Him. (I’m starting to realize that this job of connecting stories is much of what I want my parenting to be about.)

This is what I am beginning to see. If my story is part of God’s overarching Story then. . .
1) My Heavenly Father is writing my story. My story is not the result of invisible, impersonal forces.
2) My life has purpose and direction.
3) Suffering will come my way because my story is patterned on The Story of the Suffering Servant.
4) The ending of my story is glorious—not because of my “goodness” or striving, but because I am connected to The Resurrected One.
5) The borders of my life will be greater than my own self. God will increasingly draw me into the lives of other people and His work around me.

I think Ed Welch (a Biblical counselor) summarizes the importance of story well:

“In order to understand people, you have to think about their story in the context of God’s story.
‘You are not your own, you are bought with a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Life lived large. I have found that there is something about knowing that Jesus is the King and his Kingdom is on the move that compels me into action. In my counseling I have noticed that I am increasingly prone to preambles such as this. “Okay, we are no longer ordinary people. Our King has rescued us, now we belong to him. Our job is to figure out how to be his wise children today – and it will probably be the opposite of what we think.”

You can link to his article HERE.

My Beliefs
I think it is only fair to tell you where I am coming from. We are all religious people. We are all trying to find life, meaning, value, and purpose somewhere or in someone. What matters is what or whom we believe. This is what I believe. What do you believe?

This is what I believe: WHAT I BELIEVE
This is what I care about: WHAT I CARE ABOUT
Think Jesus Christ is irrelevant to your everyday life? JESUS CHRIST CHANGES EVERYTHING
Want to get fancy? GETTING FANCY
Have no idea where to start? Want to teach your kids about God? START HERE

Jenny + Kendall

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

My cousin, Jenny, is getting married to Kendall this November. My younger son, Harrison, is so excited to help Jenny and Kendall as ring bearer at their wedding.
We all wanted to celebrate their upcoming marriage with an engagement shoot.

I love how Kendall is looking at Jenny in this picture. Precious.

Every photo shoot is an adventure in some way. This shoot involved some massive amounts of newly hatched caterpillars that were crawling everywhere–even on our clothes.

I LOVE rainbow flare!!!

Thank you, Jenny and Kendall, for allowing me to photograph this part of your story. My whole family enjoyed hosting you guys at our house for the weekend. See you in November!!!

casa de Tarjetas: Lifestyle Shoot

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Ready for a mega post? If you’ve been on my blog or website before, you’ve probably already run into the Card Family.

You can see more of them HERE.

Jonathan and Heather invited me to photograph their last Sunday afternoon in their home.

Their house had sold, and they were preparing for the next architectural project and season in their family’s life. You see, Jonathan is an architect who re-purposed this space as their home. If you are into architecture and/or history, you can read more about this space HERE. This home used to be a cabinet shop and automotive garage. It was recently featured on “Bang for Your Buck” on HGTV.

This is the sign and mailbox on the exterior of the house. The painted letters remind me that I am in San Antonio. And the use of “Tarjetas” instead of “Card” for their family name makes me smile. I met this family 9 years ago and affectionately nicknamed Heather “Tarjeta” because of her last name. I think my nickname has stuck.

This is the view from the bedrooms down to the main living area & kitchen:

Ellis Anne, the oldest kid in the Card family, shared her “special box” with me. We enjoyed looking through it together.

After William woke up from a nap, he got dressed. Then he showed me his lassoing and riding skills.

Seeley Grace went through 5 wardrobe changes while I was there. We picked a special outfit to surprise her family. It was a cross between a flamenco dancer and a butterfly fairy.

Seeley Grace loves to take care of her babies.

I love this photo of Ellis Anne.

She hung out some in her room and leafed through the American Girl Doll catalog.

Seeley Grace, Ellis Anne, and Heather enjoyed coloring together. Seeley wrote her name for the first time.

When the girls got on their swim suits for fun, William followed suit (no pun intended). He had to do a major wash up after drinking a messy smoothie.

Seeley and her dad do dishes together some.

They enjoyed roasted vegetable quesadillas and a salad for dinner.

Not a technically perfect photo, but an emotionally perfect one.

Thank you, Cards, for trusting me to tell this part of your story. Thank you for sharing the afternoon with me. I can’t wait to see what life at Casa de Tarjetas II is like. I’m glad my story and my family is connected to your story and your family.

Slideshow for my Grandfather, Howard Nisbet

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Because it is Fathers’ Day, I want to share the slideshow that Greg and I made to celebrate the life of my grandfather, Howard Nisbet. I called him Gran Gran.

To view the slideshow, click HERE.

Magic: Harrison’s 5 Year Birthday

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

We celebrated Harrison’s 5th birthday this spring at our home.

Spikey Mikey, the magician, came to help us celebrate.
You can learn more about Spikey Mikey HERE.

Spikey Mikey has a real gift. He gets kids. He makes everyone laugh. He does great magic tricks, and he works hard.

I love seeing the delight on these kids’ faces!

The suspense just about killed Harrison.
(This is one of my favorite story telling shots of the year.)

Before the magic show, the kids enjoyed some centers in the front yard.
Center #1: Hot wheels, animals, and sidewalk chalk

Center #2: K’Nex

Center #3: Play doh

Center #4: Collage

Collage-ing was by far the biggest hit. Harrison and his friends have been building elaborate structures made out of recycled materials at school. My friends at Central Market helped me out with some apple boxes.

Harrison chose homemade ice cream sandwiches as his birthday treat.

By the time the party was over, Harrison was “done”. We all had a good time. Thank you to our friends who came to help us celebrate. Thank you, Spikey Mikey!