I am at a loss for words. I am humbled and in awe and so very grateful for these two who gave me a chance. I am ecstatic. My first wedding (hope to write about that, soon)! Having a seventeen-year-old photograph a wedding is definitely not the norm, that's for sure. August 2 was so so full of joy & a sweet, tender love. Garrett and Shelby were wed in the church they cherish so deeply, surrounded by so many dear ones who were rejoicing with them, praising God alongside them.
Garrett and Shelby, thank you, thank you, for giving me a chance, and for asking me to photograph your wedding. Thank you for trusting me, and for this privilege you've entrusted me with. You both have a special place in my heart and I could not have asked for a better first wedding. For now, a preview.
It’s been 5 days exactly, since landing back home. 10,600 miles traveled within a matter of 10 days. Folks ask me how my trip went and I never thought such a simple question would be so difficult to answer. I think, too, it depends on what you really want to know about. I can tell you bits and pieces (you can see the blog here, that I'm working on). But truly, I don’t think I could sum up what the entire adventure was like in a sentence, or two, or three, or an entire book’s worth…the words are difficult to come by, for me at least.
I will never be able to tell you fully, what it was truly like to take it all in and simply be. ...to finally be in that place that I had waited so long for, to walk in the streets and experience life, even if it was for a short bit. How I wish I could, though! Or at least, been able to show you more fully. I feel like even my photos (you can view them here) seem to sell the journey short for what it was. There is something so different about hearing the commotion in the streets and the market, watching the sun quietly grace the mountain and ocean at 5:30 each morning, feeling the wind on your skin and flutter your hair...writing hardly does justice when you try to weave your travels into words. But I remember saying to myself, I am so happy here.
As quickly as we came, it feels also as quickly we left. Yet, it strikes me how quickly I fell into routine and grew to love the people and ministry there...how quickly I started making Messina home. Messina was like a breath of fresh air (but really, a fresh breeze was always there). The work was hard, the days were long, the sleep was short, but I found there was so much joy in that. All because of what The Lord has done for me, and because of what work He is doing there. Oh yes, my emotions were the highest they’ve been in the longest time and I felt shaken to the core numerous times, but the week was so rich, so sweet, and so full of the goodness of The Lord.
Transitioning back into life at home is harder than I imagined. I’m having a hard time remembering my English, and time itself. Oh, don’t misunderstand; I love being back. But it’s bittersweet, you see. It all seems so differently paced and I can’t tell if my health problem is turning better or worse. Things are strange because everything but you seems to be the same; mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Oh, they never tell you that. They also never tell you how much you’ll ache to go back and hug the people you met (which on my part, was very American and not like their culture at all) or how much you'll desire to walk the same route you did for those 10 days, even though you sweat like a pig, both ways. They never tell you how raw you end up feeling or how you slowly start to realize you left your heart in that place.
It’s not that the work we did was glamorous or that we resided at the prettiest of places; despite how Instagram or my camera can make things seem. It’s not that life was perfect and we dilly-dallied in the streets, shared the gospel and just left with no connections, no accountability...No, life that week? It was sweat, it was tears, it was fear, weariness...it was hearing each person’s story of how grace saved them, the conversations we struggled through and the ones over Google Translate, the heart-to-hearts, the songs of praise either hummed, whistled, sung, or played...it was the Gospel that people across the world (that you've actually met!) love and cling to...it was the friendships you spent the week investing in, the opportunities to show Christ’s love to children even though there was a language barrier, it was the love we have for one another because of Christ’s work on the cross. It amazes me. It’s only because of Jesus that we can love others whom we have nothing but that in common with.
I often catch myself going back to the photos of the streets I walked and the people I stood with, and I slowly begin to see how dearly I miss that place and long to return. Whenever I look at a map and see the distance between my town and Messina, I’m overwhelmed. How good The Lord has been & is to me. So grateful and full of thanks. I don’t think I’ll ever have all the words to share, and I think that’ll be okay. I’m so glad you’re even wanting to listen.
these photos are some of my favorites, i think, ever. i had just met Taylor that day, but had known Tiffany for years. it had also been raining that morning, and was scheduled to rain that night. i was at work praying for the rain to cease and sunshine for just a few hours. and that prayer was answered. i think it was neat to watch how these two interacted with such sweetness. they had a genuine love for being together. & there was so much joy. i could feel it. these two are perfect for each other, and it was such a pleasure to be the one capturing this joyous time in their lives. i wouldn't want to do anything else.
congratulations on your engagement, you two!
i'm sitting here in a coffee shop, listening in on parts of talks of grace & the gospel. the movement of people in and out the door and the clattoring of dishes with a faint sound of Mumford & Sons in the background behind the background. i'm not much for coffee, but i do love the shops.
nowadays, i continue learning the exact same things that i was a week ago. a month ago. a year ago. strange, but my pride never imagined i would still be on my knees pleading for more and more grace...pleading for a heart that says with joy, "yet not as i will but as you will, Lord." asking for more and more mercy. more and more trust + thankfulness instead of anxiousness. i didn't imagine a lot of things, for that matter. fickle, fickle, heart! the nights where my soul is anchored down feeling lonely haven't gone away. the days where i come continually with empty hands, wrecked by my unworthiness and selfishness, realizing that i can't do it, that only Jesus can, haven't stopped.
the days ahead scream with uncertainty, and frankly, it scares me. i wish it didn't. my flesh desires worry instead of resting in the sufficiency and sovereignty He promises. it's sin, not the cross to which i should cling. instead of asking for wisdom, I doubt and waiver. hypocrite and double-minded, i am! how easy it is to have joy and trust Him when the times are grand and good. but when the sun goes away and the times become darker, you see how trust and counting the trials a joy are are continual battles, i think.
surrender. this is what Jesus is teaching me. surrendering my longings and anxiousness (philippians 4:6 has been wonderful); the things i grasp and hold on to. the joys of this life are so fleeting, so temporary, yet i still cling, hoping they'll fulfill. i'm seeing how wrong i am and how sinful and foolish this is as I read philippians 3:8. how often i fall short & despair! BUT how good it is that i'm forgiven over and over because of Jesus (Just read Romans 8 or Ephesians 2). i'm learning, once again, how my circumstances are no mistake (because my times are in His hands, thus, He is sovereign) + for my good ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE (see romans 8:28), not mine.
i'm realizing how every day is being used to transform me more and more like Him and it's producing a comfort as i run into the arms of my Savior, and also, a steadfastness. i'm learning, that yes, He is enough. there's comfort and rest in that. praise Him that the same grace that has carried me here is the same grace that will carry me home (just read Isaiah 40). praise Him that there's certainty in the uncertainty & praise him for coffee shops.