Archive for October, 2012

The Illuminated Word Project (October): Need

Wednesday, October 31st, 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!

Need

Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15.5f

***After taking a look at my post, please check out all of the other photographers participating in this project. The next step is Ginger Ingley Unzueta. Just click HERE.***

Our October hasn’t been the easiest month. Our family collectively got the sickest that we have ever been with an unusual, persistent flu like illness. The symptoms included: intense fatigue; sore throat; dizziness; headache; nausea; body aches; and runny nose. Even after 5 or so days of being sick, we were experiencing high fevers (like 103+). These high fevers produced enough sweat to drench clothes.

Harrison got sick first.
Greg got it next.

After being sick for 6 days, Harrison got better. Greg seemed to be perking up too. Emmie and Carter were their normal, healthy selves. I took a brief (and miraculous!) trip to Tennessee for a women’s retreat the first weekend of October to return to this:

Emmie sick.

Carter sick.

Greg sicker.

Mountains of laundry.

Empty refrigerator.

Need all around.

My husband and kids were having a hard time standing or walking. Some nights, I carried my kids from the couch to the bed because they couldn’t make it on their own. Greg missed four days of work in one week. Greg is never absent from work like that.

At least two people were seriously sick in my family from Friday 9/28 until Saturday 10/13.

My Hatred of Need
So how did I respond to all of this illness and struggle? I worked super hard. I brought drinks. I made beds. I washed laundry. I set up doctor appointments. I took people to the doctor. I cancelled my normal life.

But I also got angry and discouraged. Even though I was amazingly spared this illness, I felt desperate when faced with the level of need in my family. In terms of the physical needs of my family, I realized that despite using all the tools in my “mom toolbox” to help my family feel better and get well, I couldn’t heal them. Medicine and wet rags and hugs and Gatorade and trips to the doctor can only do so much.

And when I saw my whole family laid out in the den and the room covered with laundry, it became a word picture for me of our spiritual need. I feel this spiritual need daily even when we are well.

Our family life has much beauty in it, but it is still full of radical self-centeredness.

Let me tell you what I mean. You know the drill:

The kids fight.
I forget God.
I blow my top.
I feel guilty for treating them like crap and falling into the same old, sinful patterns.
I feel so discouraged about the direction of our family. I wonder, “Is God at work here?”

You see, I can’t climb inside my children’s hearts and turn them to the Living God. It is sinful for me to try to do what only God can do. I can be sign post; warning light; consequence provider; teacher; friend; fellow disciple; but I cannot be the Spirit.

I can’t even get my own act together. I can’t manage my sin. It just doesn’t work when I try hard to be a better person. God hates it when I try. God doesn’t want me to believe that He is out to lunch so I need to take matters into my own hands. God wants me to wage war with my sin while living in total dependence on Him to fight for me (Philippians 2.12, 13).

Our Collective Hatred of Need
It’s not just me who hates need. We all do. This very issue of need is what makes the gospel so distasteful to so many people. It requires humility. We lose control. We have to admit that we can’t do for ourselves the very thing that we need the most. Self-rescue isn’t an option.

As Martyn Lloyd Jones writes, God’s Word “comes to us and says, ‘There is the mountain that you have to scale, the heights you have to climb; and the first thing you must realize, as you look at that mountain which you are told you must ascend, is that you cannot do it, that you are utterly incapable in and of yourself, and that any attempt to do it in your own strength is proof positive that you have not understood it’ ” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount 34).

To the One who supplies our need, we owe a debt of love and gratitude.
For many, the option to live for yourself sounds better.

The Christian Life Begins and Continues with Need
The Christian life begins with need.
Before the Spirit’s work in us and separate from Christ, I was hopeless. I was dead in my trespasses and sin. Ephesians 2

The entrance to God’s kingdom is being poor in spirit (Matthew 5.3). The very gateway to the Christian life requires you to stoop in humility.

Just as the Christian life begins with need, so also it continues with need.
We cannot do anything apart from Christ (John 15.5).
We stay hungry. We continue to hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5.6).
We never mature as Christians beyond the point of continually needing God.

The Beauty of Need
Q: So why do I continue to resist something which is central to the Christian life?
A: I am a work in progress.
God is teaching me the beauty of need as I think about the following:

1. As afraid as I am of being in need, is living a life of feigned autonomy really better?
God has been kind enough to allow me to know a person who is an expert in feigning autonomy. As I get to know her better, I see a person enslaved to relational score-keeping. She strategically receives and gives favors so as to never end up in another person’s debt. She misses out on community. She is exhausted from trying to fabricate and maintain her own moral reputation. She is a slave to what other people think about her. She viciously fears getting older when she won’t be able to fake her autonomy as well. She misses out on God and His good gifts altogether.

Could any sane person say that this kind of life is better than a life of need? As uncomfortable as I feel when I taste my need, I prefer the purposeful discomfort over the alienation from God and other people.

2. Doesn’t Jesus’ own example of living a life of constant dependence on His Heavenly Father show the beauty of need?
He prayed all the time because He needed the Father.

John 5.19: Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord
John 5.30: I can do nothing on my own.

Here is the ultimate example of what it looks like to live a holy life. Need isn’t something for me to be ashamed of. There is beauty and humanity all over it.

3. Would I see the beauty of Christ without first seeing my need?
Short answer: no
Longer answer: My need shows me the greatness of God. If I have a small view of sin and brokenness, I will have a small view of Christ.

Once again Martyn Lloyd Jones shows the necessity of seeing our need in order to see Christ:
“The Christian should always be anxious to know himself. No other man truly wants to know himself. The natural [a.k.a. non-Christian] man thinks he knows himself, and thereby reveals his basic trouble. He evades self-examination because to know one’s self is ultimately the most painful piece of knowledge that a man can ever acquire. . .. Only the man who has truly seen himself for what he is who is likely to fly to Christ, and to seek to be filled with the Spirit of God who alone can burn out of him the vestiges of self and everything that tends to mar his Christian life and living” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount 291).

Do you want to know yourself?
Do you want to know your need?
When you see it where do you run?

I want to get better at running to Christ.

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

The Pumpkin Patch

Monday, October 29th, 2012

We finally made it to the pumpkin patch. I always try to wait around for a cool, crisp, sunny day, but those are few and far between in San Antonio this time of year. It is also harder now that my kids are older and our days are busier.

I love this girl. I know that I take her amazing-ness for granted.

You never know what Carter is thinking.

Carter gave me a three shot limit toward the end of our time which I respected. Then he did something he NEVER does. He then added a fourth, bonus shot. I guess Christmas came early???

I love these brothers. They couldn’t be more different. I hope that their friendship grows and that they learn to appreciate each other more and more. Emmie was making them laugh. I like how Harrison looks very much like Carter’s equal and isn’t being overshadowed by his bigger brother here.

This is the kid that strategically waited for the others to leave and then kindly asked the woman selling the pumpkins how much his pumpkin cost.
Can you guess why her answer was, “For you, it’s free”?

The Tall Tower

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

While Carter was at a birthday party, Emmeline and Harrison built a very tall tower out of Citiblocs. You can see more Citibloc goodness at our house HERE.

Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Remember that feeling of heading off campus for a field trip with your friends?
Look at their little faces.
Look at how they are spontaneously holding hands.
I absolutely love the story that this photo tells:

Harrison enjoyed his first field trip last week–a walk to a nearby pumpkin patch with his kindergarten class.

New friends.

Greg surprised Harrison and me by stopping by the pumpkin patch after the car auction. We made it into a lunch date.

What was your most memorable school field trip?

Pre-Point Shoes

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Emmie is getting ready for her pre-point ballet shoes by doing foot exercises with marbles. She is one determined girl.

Mr. Roger, your marbles are being put to good use!

What the Angels Eat

Friday, October 26th, 2012

“When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.” Mark Twain

Harrison’s favorite things in life include digging holes (see THIS) and eating watermelon.
He got to do a lot of watermelon eating this summer. I wanted to do a shoot with him that celebrated his passion for this food.

Note the seed on the upper lip. . .

Watching Harrison eat watermelon is a masterclass in how to enjoy one’s passion.

Good, Clean Fun

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Still working on photos from the summer. . .
Emmie and Harrison helped Bampy wash the golf cart. (Carter was in Dallas spending time with Greg’s parents, Nana and Pa.)

Then they enjoyed digging in the dirt.

I love that Emmie who is 9 1/2 still enjoys playing outdoors and getting messy.

Digging is one of Harrison’s favorite things to do.

When Carter got back from Dallas, he caught two of the biggest crappie that I have ever seen on one of my parents’ small lakes.

Jordan’s Bar Mitzvah

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I don’t really shoot bar and bat mitzvahs, but I do for the Gurwitz family. Rachel has been my friend ever she taught my daughter, Emmie, in kindergarten. I have enjoyed seeing their family grow the last few years.

Thank you, Callie, for shooting the rehearsal with me. I knew you would do a great job.

Thank you, Gurwitzes, for the kindness that you have shown me.
Rachel, I appreciate your friendship so very much.

Rene and Rachel

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I’ve been taking a break from shooting weddings, but I still want to share some of the images that I enjoy. It feels wrong for them to just sit on my harddrive. I shot Rachel and Rene’s wedding for West Vita. This couple picked the super cool Welfare Cafe for their big day.

Thank you, Rachel and Rene, for allowing me to be part of your wedding day.

Summer’s End

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

We went to the beach for the day a couple of weekend’s ago. You can read more about our family’s first beach trip HERE.
This beach trip marked summer’s end.

5-4-3-2-1. . .

Blast off! (Love this.)

Added bonus: We met some State Park Rangers who were giving a little class about the different habitats and organisms at the beach.
We also made some friends for the day.

We dug for ghost crabs.

After a brief discussion about beach habitats, the rangers allowed us to use their equipment and explore some too.
This took me back to my days at Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Marine Biology Camp that I used to attend as a kid.

Back for another round. . .

Carter’s explosive enthusiasm wanes quickly. Harrison’s commitment level endures.

2 small regrets: I sometimes wished that my blog showed larger pictures so that you could see more in these storytelling pictures.
Next time, I will ask Emmie to just be in her swimsuit for part of the day. It is way cuter than her shorts and rash guard. They’re practical for the Texas heat but not so cute for pics.

Thank you, Greg, for adjusting your work schedule to take off for the day.
We have more fun when you are around!