Monday, November 20, 2017

Just Keep Marching

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel that you are constantly doing what you're supposed to do... but see no results?

Perhaps you're working hard at a job where no one seems to notice your dedication and hard work.

Or maybe you're a mom who dedicates so much of her time and energy to a home where it often goes unnoticed.

Now imagine coming out of walking the desert for years. People are tired, hungry, and want a place to call home.

You are told that you will take a city. It's all yours, all you have to do is follow a few steps.

Great! So what do we have to do?

March around an entire city for 6 days. Oh, and the 7th day... march around 7 times and shout.

Wait? Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?

This is what the Lord instructed Joshua to do. He was told that the city of Jericho was already given to the Israelites... all they had to do was follow EXACTLY what God was telling them to.

// And the Lord said to Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.

And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus thou shall do six days.

... and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.// Joshua 6:9

Now when people mention battles, usually it means you fight and then take what you want. But marching around a city? How does that even begin to make any sense?

When I sang these words in high school part of my chorus, "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho... and the walls came tumbling down..." I didn't know the story, so I thought there was an actual battle.

But the truth is, God had already given them the victory... all they had to do was obey. Regardless of how ridiculous they probably felt.

I mean can you imagine being a soldier, and literally just being told to walk around the city you're supposed to take? And doing it everyday for 6 days?!

No talking, just walking. No questioning, just doing.

Maybe the people in Jericho might have laughed at the fact that all these so called soldiers were doing was leading in a parade around their city.

The bible doesn't tell us the thoughts of those inside the walls of Jericho.

(We're only told of Rahab, the harlot and her family who was saved for hiding Joshua's messengers.)

But, it does tell us that Joshua and the people did exactly as they were told.

And after they completed all of it, on the 7th day after marching 7 times around the city they shouted... and the walls crumbled down flat.

// And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout for the Lord hath given you the city. Joshua 6:16


... And the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. // Joshua 6:20

You may be walking around a city of your own right now.

You feel pointless in continuing because it looks stupid to other people who are watching you do this with no results.

But I'm telling you to just keep marching.

When it feels redundant. When it feels like your family, your friends, the whole world is laughing at you... just. keep. marching.

God often tells us to do something that doesn't seem very valiant. He tells us to walk through the chunky muddy path instead of the perfectly laid out concrete.

He tells us to do the thing other people usually laugh at.

But I'm telling you to look forward and march on anyway.

God promises that those who persevere will see their victory at the end.

Just keep marching... and it's only a matter of time before your walls come crumbling down too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Love Always Comes Back

The kids all gathered around the colorful carpet as the teacher opened up the story of the day, "Llama Llama Red Pajama".

The story is about a little boy llama who is in his bed about to go to sleep, but begins to miss his mama. Although she is right downstairs, he begins to imagine all of these scenarios of his mama leaving him and never coming back.

He hears the sound of dishes clanking and water running, the phone ringing... but Mama is not coming back upstairs.

He starts to fret and grow impatient thinking she will never return. Finally, he screams and yells and His mama runs back upstairs to kiss him good night and tells him she will always be near, even if he can't see her.

I sat there in a daze, my eyes starting to tear up, so I quickly began to fix some toys and look away so no one would notice.

The story reminded me of God's unending love and promise to us.

Jesus came here to earth to be with us, but He promised before He left that He would be back for us one day.

// And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. // John 14:3

Those of us that would trust and believe in Him as our savior would see Him again, but not to fear because He would always be with us in our hearts.

That no matter how scared we are in certain moments, He would never abandon us because He loves us so much. Just like Llama Mama.

We grow impatient many times in our lives and sometimes start to think God abandoned us. He's too busy and can't hear our cries.

But God never breaks His promises. When you feel alone, just remember you have a Father who is always near and just a whisper away.

He's coming back someday... because love always does.

// I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. // Matthew 28:20

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sweet Love | Stephanie & Michael

Everyone has a story. The day they met, when he finally decided to call her, when she said yes to a casual coffee date. I usually always ask my couples about their story, but for this one in particular, I didn't.

This one is very special to me because they are two of my oldest friends... and I got to play a little part in their love story.

Stephanie and I were in the same grade and have countless tales of us suffering through poor badminton gym days, crimped hair for semi-formals, etc... (sorry Steph, haha I love you!!) But we laughed all the way through them.

Mike was a year older in the same high school, and when we found ourselves in the same Roman history class in college with another mutual friend... eventually we ended up being class buddies. (Mike I still hold you accountable for "my chattiness" in that class! =P)

One day Mike asked about the really pretty girl in one of my photos, and as any typical friend would, I totally gushed about Steph. She was beautiful, loyal, and a total sweetheart.

It became a mission. Through a circle of mutual friends... this was the perfect match and it just had to happen.

But to make the story short, once they met and started getting to know each other... the rest was history.

I along with my other friends have gotten the privilege to see Mike and Steph's love story grow over the years, and it truly is the sweetest.

They went to Europe last summer, and as they walked through the gardens at Linderhof Palace in Germany... Mike proposed.

We celebrated with close friends when they came back, and I was so excited when Steph asked me if I would photograph their engagement.

We strolled through Central Park one early morning and recounted old memories and Mike made sure to carry along our pumpkin prop for the perfect photo ;).

Steph and Mike, I can't promise you that I won't cry when I watch you both say I do next October.

But I wish you countless joy in this new beginning. I hope you'll choose to say "I do" day after day, and remember to always forgive one another, but most of all love each other through every passing season.

Thank you for having me document your love and I can't wait to celebrate with you both next year... Love you!!! ♡

Monday, October 30, 2017

Chipping with Intention

These days my life looks a little sporadic. As in it's completely different than the year before and I'm thrown into a whole other season of newness/busyness/lets-just-roll-with-it.

I've heard the quote, "A job is just a job." And I agree that a job/career does not define who you are. But as I drove home through the dark highway after a really long day of work, I started to think.... and a thought crossed my mind.

Nothing is ever wasted for God.

Is it possible that we can find purpose in the mundane everyday things that we do? Can we take away something from all of the jobs, moments, experiences and interactions that we go through in our lives?

I'm starting to think so.

If God is the God that says He cares about the tiniest details in our lives, I don't think anything is wasted... not even the current job we may think "is just a job".

God sent Jesus to earth to live among us, and even Jesus had a job before He began His ministry. He was a carpenter.

Though a king, during the time He lived on earth he worked with wood and tools and created different things. It was a humble position, nothing fancy like you would expect a king to be.

And yet, Jesus obeyed.

He did His work, and He saw His Father through everything He did.

I admire that.

I've worked in countless settings and jobs, and I'll be honest I always thought it was never important since it was "just a job". I'm just passing through. 

But it brought me to this point: Maybe we can find little sparks in the everyday moments, little things that add onto our character and build us up.

I'm starting to realize that all of my random/ not so random positions, experiences, and interactions with people are actually playing into a bigger role.

Michelangelo the famous Italian sculptor said this, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."

Though most people would probably just a see a giant rock, Michelangelo saw the slab of stone as the finished sculpture he had in His mind. He saw all the potential of what it could be... he just had to chip away at it, and slowly that vision would unveil before Him.

I kind of think of us as that slab of stone. God is the sculptor who already sees what we're going to become. But He has to chip away at us in order for that beautiful sculpture to come out.

And so if the position is making me patient... chip, chip.
If it's making me humble... chip, chip, chip. 
If it's making me more like Jesus... chip, chip, chip times 1000.

See where I'm getting at?

If we start to pay attention to the little things in our jobs and experiences... we'll see that it's making us into the person God needs us to be for His purpose.

We need to be a servant before we can get to the top, so that when we do get there... our hearts will be humble.

A "humility check" so to speak so we don't forget where we came from.

It's hard most days. I feel as I'm just going by and it doesn't matter. But remember, nothing goes unnoticed by God.

So I've started this new thing in the morning, where I thank God for what He's doing in me... even though I can't exactly see what that is right now.

I'm choosing to trust and obey... because I know He's working all things for my good, and His glory.

// And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. // Romans 8:28

May we see His hand in every moment of our lives, and may it help us become more like Him.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Speak Truth Over Yourself

Honesty time: I've been feeling way less than worthy the past few weeks. As if God turned His face from me and walked away. 

I know that can't possibly be true because God loves us and never lets us go. But I just can't shake the feeling.

It's as if He's poured all of Himself into me, constantly giving me different ideas and opportunities... and I just keep shoving them aside. 

I can hear Him thinking, What's the use... she's never going to do what I wanted her to do. Onto to the next girl that will actually carry out my plan. 

I'm a halfway success. Barely there, but not enough to make it all the way through. 

I heard a sermon the other day and I seriously thought God told the pastor to speak directly to me. Because I felt every word directed at me, or rather my situation.

And I thought, you know what I don't think I'm the only one that's feeling like this... so here I am writing this out.

He said: YOU have a place. And God has not forgotten about you. God has a place for you. 

I tried so hard not to cry. (And if you know me well, you know that's impossible)... so the tears dripped the side of my face as I intently clung to his words. 

Why is it that I always think God is against me? Just as my mind started this battle of reminding me of my mishaps and failures... I started to remember certain verses that contradicted every.single.lie I was telling myself. 

Here's how it went:

Barbara: But He left me... I failed Him.

God: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Barbara: I'll never be able to do that. I want to, but I just see no way.

God: Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) 

Case in point: Jesus will NEVER leave us.

Through this, I've realized the importance of speaking truth over ourselves.

And we need to do it constantly because every day is a new day. Don't believe the lies.

We are worthy, we are worth it, He will never leave us, He will never turn His back on us, and He'll never give up on us.

YOU are significant and don't forget to speak truth over yourself, speak truth. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Lifestyle Portraits | Daniella

I met with Daniella at the Ross Dock Picnic Area park for her portraits, and we had the best time. We met a few years ago both working for a school and I always remembered how sweet she was, and our obsession and love for traveling the world. 

The air was crisp, and a few colorful leaves had fallen with their hint of yellow to give us the feeling of the Autumn season ahead of us. We talked about our trips abroad, laughed about different experiences, and talked about future dreams. Daniella is the type of person you could meet once and feel like you've been friends forever. 

Towards the end, we got so caught up with our stories we ended up making a wrong turn... but no worries we quickly turned around and laughed it off! ;) Thank you again Daniella, you are beautiful and totally rocked your shoot!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Year Six

Sideways photo because sometimes life is messy and not the way you planned... but you gotta throw the confetti up and squeal like your teenage girl self anyway! ;)

Today marks 6 years since I wrote the first words on this blog. Craziness right?!

I remember going back and forth... delete, write, delete, write. I didn't know whether this was something I should begin or not. 

I mean what could I possibly share that would add meaning to anyone's life?

I was interested in photography and loved to write, so after a long battle with self-doubt... I just hit publish. 

I'm so happy I did. This little blog of mine has grown me and lead me into so much more than I ever even imagined it would. 

I've met so many wonderful people and got to be a little part of their story, pushed myself beyond my comfort zone, and got to be part of some pretty amazing things. 

It's scary to put yourself out there. Show others your true colors, because that means you run the risk of some people not liking you.

// This is perhaps the greatest risk that any of us will take... to be seen as we truly are. // ~Cinderella  
It's something I've battled since I was a little kid in school, and I still do.

But then someone said something that really got to me, "If you don't have an outlet for your intake... you will stagnate."

Meaning if you keep learning, seeing, hearing... but never putting that potential anywhere, eventually you will stop moving altogether. 

To me that is the biggest risk and scariest thing of all. If God created me with a unique character and gave me specific gifts... I want to use them all.

Even if you think it won't lead anywhere, or your words, ideas, heart can't reach anyone... do it anyway!

Create something to grow yourself and to keep learning. Who you are can't ever be replicated... so share it. 

And whatever you do, never stop learning. Always remember even the expert was once a beginner. 

It's been 6 years... but it's only the beginning. Thank you so much for those of you that continue to follow along my words, the photographs, projects, and ideas I post. 

Even though I can't see who you are... this little home means the world to me, so thank you from my whole sappy-cries-for-everything-I-wish-I-could-give-you-a-big-hug heart of mine to yours. 

Here's to never giving up on your dreams, and most of all on who you were created to be.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sussex County Sunflower Maze

I love exploring new places. I had heard about the Sussex County Sunflower Maze for a while but never made the trip, so this year I finally decided to go before the end of September (they are usually gone by then) with my mom and sister. 

It's a perfect place for portrait sessions, engagements, and family shoots. Although the bumble bees definitely had us running at some points... but nonetheless was so pretty to walk through. If you have time, take a visit and frollick your heart out (we definitely did)! ;)