Monday, December 26, 2011

Your Thoughts About Me

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/26/11

This photograph was taken in the midst of great sadness, yet portrays to me the wonderful knowledge of God's ever present help. We stopped at this little beach (east coast of Mauritius) on our way to the airport where we would put our new friend on a plane back to Germany. Our hearts were heavy with mixed emotions. The reality of the tears and pain caused by the death of her new husband on the 3rd day of their honeymoon, against the joy of being there for her while witnessing God's mysterious work, overwhelmed me.

As I took in this beautiful scenery, God spoke to me clearly through the words of Psalm 121. When I looked to the mountains, God whispered to my heart that He is not only my Helper - but our grieving, young friend's too.

Then my gaze shifted to the sand and Psalm 139 came to mind. His thoughts towards us are so precious and numerous. How can we even entertain the smallest idea of Him deserting us?

photographer: Cecile Sander, Mauritius

Monday, December 19, 2011

Beaded Necklaces and Dreamy Hair

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/19/11

The picture I submitted was from my husband and my last foray into another unknown. We recently took a trip up to South Sudan with one of our missionaries who works there. We were headed to a refugee camp called Kakuma. It is on the border of South Sudan and Kenya. Kakuma means NOWHERE! Need I say more? Fifteen kilometers of refugee homes and churches, NGOs and food distribution sites. But that's another story.

These women are from the Turkana tribe. They were on the way to the town near the refugee camp. These ladies know how to do jewelry! Piles and piles beaded necklaces laddering up their necks. And the no maintenance hair was dreamy! They just shave off the sides, braid the top and go! Inspiring!

photographer: Vera Steury, Kenya.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Now You're Just Showing Off!

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/12/11

I recently had the opportunity to serve with Women of the Harvest holding retreats in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. We welcomed missionaries from ten countries to a time of refreshment, counseling and pampering. These are the women one reads books or watches movies about, those I admire so greatly. They are a diverse, intelligent and inspiring sisterhood, pouring out their lives to bring the Good News to South America. Their stories were inspiring and heart-breaking in about equal measure.

The retreat speaker, Linda Swanson, taught on the topic of our identity in Christ. Whatever our other roles or titles-wife, mother, teacher, student-or what we are called by ourselves or others, we are first and foremost beloved by and beautiful in Christ - “God’s favorite daughter.”

Our amazing group of volunteers – as diverse and diversely talented as the attendees - spent a few days after the retreats visiting the spectacular series of waterfalls at the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. We stood in the spray and marveled- How Great Thou Art.” We took a boat ride to the foot of the falls and laughed and screamed and worshipped.

And wondered how anyone could look on such majesty and not believe in a Creator. The thunder of the water as it cascaded over and over; the energy of the air, the swallows that soar right through and into the torrent to their nests behind the falls. Then there would be a rainbow in the mist and I’d think, “OK, God, now you’re just showing off!”

I believe God creates beauty for His own pleasure and for ours. He intend for us to understand His nature by observing what He can form on the earth and in our hearts. We were reminded at the falls that He loves us so much that our world is full of joy and pain, laughter and tears and seemingly unlimited wonder.

photographer: Susan De Graaf, USA.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yellow Dress Girl

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: Picture Praise, 12/5/11

I always had my camera with me in Kenya, not only due to its value, but also because I didn’t want to miss a great picture. One quiet afternoon, I decided it would be my best chance to fit in my daily journaling. I sat on a rock close to my hut and started writing. A little girl, who lived in the orphanage where we were staying, had been playing a few yards away. I watched as she hopped off the rock and headed down to the soccer field. I had a quick thought that the color of the blue door behind her would contrast her yellow dress. I picked up my camera, took a picture of her as she walked in front of the door, and went back to journaling.

photographer: Kelsey Lane, USA. "I am a 16 year-old who has always loved living in Denver, Colorado. I am a cheerleader and a junior in high school at Front Range Christian School. Every year, my youth pastor offers the Kenya trip to whomever feels called to go. I asked God if I should go, thinking there wouldn’t be a reply, but there was. And it wasn’t a very specific answer; God said, 'Go to Kenya, I want to show you something.' I asked him again and again throughout the following weeks and each time I got the same response. So I told my youth pastor I wanted to go and started fundraising."


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