light + shadow

During the recent total solar eclipse, our home state of Oregon was flooded with a million visitors all hoping to see the eclipse in totality. We weren’t in the path of totality here in Nicaragua, but we did see a small corner of the sun being covered. As a photographer, of course I looked through every beautiful image of the eclipse that I could find posted on social media. There were incredible images captured at some of our favorite places around Oregon. But the ones that made me take a second look? Surprisingly they were pictures of the shadows that the sun’s light cast onto the ground as it was being shaded by the moon.

And it made me think …

To see light the most beautifully, you have to learn to love the shadows.

We have to choose to look for the light when all we see are shadows. I love how the light that is found in darkness is the most dramatic, and often times the most beautiful.

And isn't that just how it is in our lives? I am learning that it is through pain and hardship that Jesus becomes enough. I’m learning to look for his beautiful light in the shadowed places.

If we choose to focus on only the One who spoke light into darkness, to live for only his renown, then that same powerful, beautiful light will pour into those painful, dark places of our souls. He will light up every shadow and create something of beauty.

ohran-light-shadow-R.jpg

thicker ink

“Sometimes God uses thicker ink to speak a little more loudly.” I read these words a few years back and they resonated with me. When God starts to speak something new to me it starts as a little whisper. A single word. Then maybe a few soft words that seem to be written in pencil. Pretty soon the whisper gets louder. Changing from pencil to ink. And soon the ink gets thicker. It becomes a restless stirring in my soul that I can’t escape.

This restlessness is stirring up in me again. It goes along with words that God spoke to my soul at the end of last year: RISE UP. These words aren’t just a “catchy” phrase. They’re an invitation. A challenge. They’re prophetic. They’re a declaration.

The Holy Spirit has asked me pointed questions with these words. Challenged my soul in ways that I’ve never been challenged before.

He’s asked me if I will RISE ABOVE and love how Jesus loves – when it’s painful and costly and undeserved. If I will RISE UP, trust what he has promised and see with eyes of faith – when the seed has just been planted and the harvest hasn’t even sprouted a single tiny shoot yet. Will I see what isn’t there? Will I see what God sees? Will I push past opposition and RISE UP speaking words of truth? Because we can expect opposition when we RISE UP to shine our light. Will I worship in the dark?

Isn’t that so like our amazing God? How he can powerfully use two little words sparked with his Spirit to bring us closer to himself? Because that’s always his plan. To bring us back to himself.

I am grateful for how he speaks. For the living water that he generously pours out and how it saturates the barren places of my soul.

It’s all I can do to stand sometimes when he is speaking this loudly. I find myself needing to be bowed low in humility. How desperately I need him to create a new, fresh and flourishing heart inside of me. One that loves more like he loves, and sees more of what he sees. It’s with tears streaking down my face, and with hands lifted in surrender, that I choose to RISE UP and declare: “Lord, I only want you. More of you and less of me.  Your name and renown are the desire of my soul.”

I see the ink getting thicker again.

r i s e

R I S E  U P
 

If you don’t rise up, help will arise from another place. Perhaps you were born for such a time as this. Esther 4:14


I love this word from Esther. I love that even with the very real possibility of losing her life, she was courageous and chose to RISE UP - whatever the cost.

A couple of years ago, a beautiful friend spoke this verse over my life when I was facing something that felt far too big for me. I had to choose to either RISE UP and face the fear I felt, or allow God to use someone else. There has never been a moment that I have regretted RISING UP and choosing to say yes - whatever the cost.

Several months ago God whispered to my soul to RISE ABOVE when I needed to love when it cost me more than I felt like giving. To love like He loves me. 

God is challenging me - inviting me - to RISE this year. To RISE UP and live this one short life like I believe he is real and that he is powerful. He’s been speaking to my soul to RISE UP with courage and with a deeper faith – a faith that has eyes to see the invisible and trust him for the impossible. Because my God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all that I dare dream or imagine. And so I say yes - whatever the cost.

Just look at some of these definitions of RISE. They are words that I am declaring and speaking over my life ... for such a time as this.

RISE …  acceleration, growth, multiplication, to raise up, upward movement, rising, soaring, arise, rise up, increase, flourish.

Let it be, Lord.

Will you RISE UP this year? Will you say yes and face your fears with courage and boldness? Will you believe for the impossible in your life? Let’s RISE together.

whatever comes

More of you Jesus, and less of me. This song is my prayer for this new year:

Lord whatever comes
Make me steadfast, make me rooted
A cedar planted firm
Deeply grounded in your goodness
Whatever comes
Lord whatever comes
Be my bedrock, keep me steady
Loyal to your throne
Whatever stands against me
Whatever comes
Be my bravery when I am trembling
Be my courage when my heart is caving in
Be the fireside when I am wandering
Be my father
Whatever comes
Lord whatever comes
May my soul be strong as iron
Bending only when
I kneel before the I AM
Whatever comes
Rend Collective

 

 

send down your rain

We thirst for your presence
Send down your rain
Here in this moment, a holy embrace
Fire of heaven, come surround
We bow down in reverence on this holy ground
Spirit of God, fall upon this place
Fan every heart into a burning flame
We long for you, call upon your name
Spirit of God, have your way
More of you and less of me
God, this life will bring you glory          
Phil Wickham

This song has been on repeat in my home and in my heart. Such a beautiful prayer.

Send down Your rain.

catch fire

We've had so many fun campfires on our beloved Oregon beaches over the years. I love hearing the waves crash while gathering around a warm fire with beautiful friends, laughter, fish tacos and 'smores. 

The words "catch fire" have been on my heart all summer long. You know when you just can't escape something and it pops up in front of you everywhere you turn? "Fire" has been that word for me for months. I even read a couple of books over the summer that peaked my interest because the title contained the word "fire". 

What I'm finding is that this fire that I am craving so much is the burning fire of the Holy Spirit. I'm desiring more of the Spirit of God. I'm longing for His power to fill me. For Him to overcome me and empower me to live out this life in a way that shines the light of Jesus. Ever brighter, Lord.  I want a fire deep into my bones. And I'm declaring it today because my God says that He gives His Spirit without measure. Do you want some of that fire for yourself? Are you hungry for more? Just ask.

Can you feel it, friends? 

God is up to something! He is sparking the hearts of his children and He desires for us to live our lives as a raging wildfire for Him. Filled with His love. Filled with His light. Filled with His power. 

Let's proclaim Jesus! Let's be light in the darkness. Let's light the world because we are reflecting the light of Christ. Let's catch fire.

 

We call out to dry bones
Come alive, come alive
We call out to dead hearts
Come alive, come alive
Up out of the ashes
Let us see an army rise
We call out to dry bones, come alive
God of endless mercy
God of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter
Bring us back the wayward son
And by your Spirit breathe upon them
Show the world that you alone can save
You alone can save                

Lauren Daigle

 

 

 

fresh and flourishing

I love how a couple of simple words can hold so much beauty and truth. I want my faith, my attitude, my marriage, my children, my home to be fresh and flourishing.

I am daily learning how good it is to be deeply rooted in the One who changes me. Who uses the desert places and the rain for my good. He is the one who gives the most beautiful gifts: love, hope, joy, peace. Those are the things I want to be rooted in. 

The righteous flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar ... they are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. Psalm ninety-two twelve and thirteen

 

rivers in the dry wasteland

Ruby Ranch Nicaragua.

It's what our hearts have burned for the last few months. It's where I can already see the promise of "rivers in the dry wasteland" being fulfilled. It's a place that God is moving mountains for as we speak. It's a place where hope is poured out. A place where beauty and brokenness meet and lives are changed.

There is a little chapel on the top of the hill at the ranch. As we sat on the wood benches there last April, I knew that our lives would never be the same.

I am overwhelmed and humbled by the beautiful way that God works. How he lights a little spark in our hearts and as we step out, as we risk the ocean and say yes, he fans that little spark into a raging wildfire for His glory. He covers us with his feathers when the fear is creeping in. He pours his peace into our hearts and whispers for us to trust him. As we do, he overwhelms us with how he can move mountains. 

We are praying bold prayers for Ruby Ranch Nicaragua. For this place that has captured our hearts so completely.

For cold, beautiful, flowing rivers in the dry wastelands of hearts and souls that need hope and love so desperately. Let it be, Lord.

 

 

into deeper waters

I love the words to the song "Oceans".

Spirit lead me 'til my faith is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
Hillsong United

Risk. It's a word loaded with meaning. It sounds good. It sounds daring and adventurous. But it's a completely different thing to walk out. To leap off of cliffs into unknown things. To step into deeper waters. To truly risk requires faith.

It starts with a willing heart. Surrender. A bowing down with open hands before our God to say "Here am I. Send me." Use me. I am Yours.

When we arrived at the airport in Managua, Nicaragua, last April, our friends greeted us with "Bienvenidos a Nicaragua. Prepare to have your hearts changed." And even though we knew God was leading us to Nicaragua, we had no idea just how much our hearts would be changed. How much God would ask us to risk.

Our family is moving to Nicaragua.

We are closing our construction and photography businesses. We are selling most of our belongings. We are stepping into deeper waters.

There are so many questions. So many unknowns. I know there will be struggle and hard times and lots of real life ahead. 

But I also know there will be so much good. That there is an un-explainable peace in our hearts. There is a fire in our bones. We have to say yes.

So we are risking the ocean. We're launching into deeper waters so that God can do more. More in us and more through us. 

Take us deeper, Lord.

 

 

 

 


 

all in

I am learning that in there is no courage without fear. They go together. But we get to choose which one we listen to most. We choose which one we let lead us. 

In this season of so many unknowns, I am having to daily choose to listen to the voice of courage - the voice of the Spirit - instead of the voice of fear. I am clinging tightly to this promise:

I will go before you and make the crooked places straight. Isaiah forty-five two

I will choose courage. I will choose to trust the leading of my faithful God. I will choose to rest in his rich love. I choose to step into the vision that He has given. 

I choose all in.

speak life

This truth is challenging me today:

Love speaks to who they are becoming.
Bob Goff

During a hard season in our marriage several years ago, God challenged me to love and pray for my husband for the man he is becoming. To declare truth over his life and leadership and over our marriage.

I can honestly say that our marriage survived those hard times only because God changed my heart. He asked me to speak beauty and truth and to see beyond what was in front of me at that moment. 

Every time I ask, God helps me to see my husband and my children with his eyes and his heart. But I have to remember to ask. I have to choose that I want to live that way.

I choose to declare big, bold truths over each of their lives because I get to speak into who they are becoming even when I don't see the fruit yet.

What would happen if we spoke words like these over our own lives, over our husbands, and over our children: "You are loved, redeemed, called, free, salt and light, strong and courageous, the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, a display of God's beauty, you are a leader of leaders who is destined for impact." 

I think we would have changed marriages and homes.

Words kill, words give life. They're either poison or fruit - you choose. Proverbs eighteen twenty-one (msg)

 

walk on waves

"Sometimes all that I can see is the storm ragin' around my soul
That's when I hear You telling me to leave my fear behind and just let go
Surrender all my life to Your control
You call me to deeper waters, You say 'Don't be afraid'
To trust where You will lead and walk on waves with You
And though I hear the thunder You say just have faith
To reach out and take Your hand and walk on waves with You"

                                                                                                             Austen & Lindsey Adamec

 

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you." Isaiah forty-three two

There are times when I have to claim and stand on this beautiful truth with all I've got. In the deep water He is with me. He who holds the oceans in the palm of His hand will help me rise above the waves. He will overcome the fear and doubt and overwhelm me with His peace. And for that, I am grateful.

salt + light

These words ...

Oh the beauty of the King. You make righteous those who seek.  
You have written and redeemed my story.  
Let my heart overflow with passion for Your name.  
Let my life be a song, revealing who you are. 
You are salt and light. You are love's great height. You are deep and wide.

Lauren Daigle

And these ...

"You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world."  Beautiful words from the book of Matthew.

I am a little obsessed with beautiful words. One of my treasures is a few pages of handwritten quotes that my grandmother loved. I am constantly reminded that our words hold power. Something that I need to be reminded of as a mother almost daily. Our words hold the power of life and death. They can destroy or they can build up. That's both humbling and amazing. I love the images that come to my mind when reading those words in Matthew. We are to be salt with not only our words but with our lives. Salt has the ability to transform and to change. And beautiful words do that. They bring healing and freedom. They bring life. I want my words to season those around me for good. I want to speak truth and hope. I want my life to season those around me too. To build up my husband and my children. Let's speak truth. Let's proclaim Jesus and help bring freedom to the captives, and give hope to the hopeless. Because we only get this one short life to change our little corners of the world.

We are all broken. That's how the light gets in. 
Ernest Hemingway
 

And then there is light.  I might be even more obsessed with beautiful light than with beautiful words. That quote above, talking about how light seeps in through cracks. It makes me think of a cracked and broken jar of clay. Not something that I would desire or could probably even use. Because cracks usually mean that something is broken and worthless. Kind of like me. I am sinful and broken. But ... Jesus. His love is deep and wide. He redeems and restores. He uses my brokenness for good. To make an impact in this world. I want to shine light brightly for His glory in this life. I know that I have no ability to be the light of the world in my own strength, but when the light of his love fills me, He can use my cracked and broken pieces and make them into something beautiful. He floods my soul with his light. And then he can shine through me into darkness. To light the world.

a little mustard seed

Go let it be done for you as you have believed. Matthew eight thirteen

This. It's challenging me right now. 

Such powerful words that Jesus is speaking. Am I living my life like I believe my God is real? Am I living in such a way that believes that nothing is impossible or too big for Him? Am I truly living like God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above and beyond what I could ask or think? Because it will be done for us as we have believed. If I have faith even the size of a little mustard seed ... mountains will move!

Jesus, increase my faith! I desire bold mountain-moving faith. I want to believe you for far greater things than I can see right now. I want to risk the ocean! Help me to live my everyday with an atmosphere of expectancy. Because impossible is where you begin.

adventure awaits

Why Nicaragua? 
We have been asked that many times. And honestly, sometimes our answer sounds a little crazy.  God began putting Nicaragua on our hearts over and over again all last year. It was everywhere we turned. From reading a story online about the Smith family who moved to Nicaragua and started Nica Vida Surf, to seeing it pop up everywhere in books or things we read, to meeting new friends at a bbq last summer who take teams to Nicaragua every summer. It was everywhere. I think God was trying to tell us something. Meeting the Barons and hearing them share about Open Hearts Ministries was when we decided that we were going. I can't even put into words how loudly God spoke to my heart as we sat with them at dinner and heard of the vision for Ruby Ranch Nicaragua. I knew it was for us.  So we are headed to Nicaragua to see for ourselves where God might be leading us. We know that God is drawing our hearts to Nicaragua and we have to say yes. We are joining our friends, the Herring family, on this trip. Here is a little info from a newsletter we wrote together:


"The past year we have been drawn to Nicaragua through various connections and decided to take the step and go with our families to serve in various ways.  
First, we plan to experience the culture of Nicaragua by staying at Nica Vida in Popoyo. We are excited to spend time relaxing and connecting with family, God and the local community.  While we're there we will have the privilege of giving out water filters in the community.  Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the need for clean drinking water is great.  
Our next stop will be Open Hearts Ministries in Managua.  We will be visiting Club Esperanza which is a preschool and kindergarten, after-school club for older kids, and a feeding program. We are also excited about Ruby Ranch! The ranch is a place designed to minister to inner city kids, giving them a chance to enjoy creation and the love of Jesus.  
The last part of our trip we will be connecting with the founder of Tree of Life 84 in Estelli.  We are hoping to find a way to support this future orphanage in any way we can and catch a vision for how Christ is working.
We hope to expose our children to new cultures, find ways to connect among our family, and learn to love and serve people throughout the world."


So ... yes.  We're headed to Nicaragua. For one month. I know it will be one of the most life-changing things we have ever done, and I can't wait. Our heart is to experience and see other people and cultures, and to serve in whatever way God puts in front of us while we're there. We hope to hear from God and see where he might be leading us. There are so many unknowns, but one thing we know for certain is this ... God is drawing our hearts to Nicaragua.

And I can't wait!

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy thirty-one eight

 

 

for such a time as this

I've decided that in both the good and the struggle, 2016 is going to be amazing.

It's a year for courage and boldness and believing for the impossible.  
For giving God every opportunity to do what only He can do.
For being present, for pouring out, for loving well, loving wildly.

It's a year for claiming this truth to the fullest: "I have spoken over you ... Found. Whole. Loved. Free!"
And for this verse from which I just cannot escape ... "Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created." Esther four fourteen

For such a time as this.