Core

Perhaps the greatest harm the church has caused in me was to teach and train me to see people as naturally sinful and in essence, evil. That from birth, due to our inherit nature, we are enemies with the Creator God. That the God who is infinite in his goodness, his power, and his knowledge sees us all as souls worthy of eternal damnation.

I still struggle with this every day. It affects my attitude, my words, my worldview, my behaviors. But I believe to see people in this way is the worst way to interact with other people. It’s the worst way to view ourselves.

We all want, for the most part, to be people of integrity. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone has inside of them a deep sense of goodness. Deep down in the core of who we are as a people is a sense of grace. I believe this because I believe that everyone has the image of God – the Divine – in them. I have recently learned that I have to speak to that part in a person for me to really connect with them. It takes courage because I have to be vulnerable myself to actually speak to that part in a person.

I first have to believe it, however.

We are all constantly living in the space of struggle. There’s all sorts of things pulling and tugging at our hearts. It’s easy to forget as we interact with others. Especially if they are being particularly unpleasant. But there is that sense of an inner-child within us all, I think. It’s that part that I am constantly trying to look for.

It’s my belief that this is the way that God sees us all the time.

Fred Rogers once said this:

I remember one of my seminary professors saying people who were able to appreciate others—who looked for what was good and healthy and kind—were about as close as you could get to God—to the eternal good. And those people who were always looking for what was bad about themselves and others were really on the side of evil. “That’s what evil wants,” he would say. “Evil wants us to feel so terrible about who we are and who we know, that we’ll look with condemning eyes on anybody who happens to be with us at the moment.”

I encourage you to look for the good where you are and embrace it.


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/core/

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Sleeve

Pause for a moment.
Look around you.
I want to ask you some questions.

Where are you? What do you see?
Are you near a window? Are you in a basement? Are you at a coffee shop?
What kind of light do you see? Is it a sunny or cloudy day? Are you in a room with mostly artificial or natural light?

How does that light make you feel? Where are the shadows? What is the mood?

If you were to take out a camera, or even your phone, what would you take a picture of to capture the mood of where you are right this very minute? Of how you are feeling? What story could you tell with the light that is present?

Pay attention to the light around you throughout a day. See what it reflects off of. See what it shines through. Notice the warmth or the coolness of the light. Notice if it seems harsh, like direct sunlight in the middle of the day, or soft, like the last hour of light around sunset.

These are the details that we are aware of, yet they still go unnoticed most of the time.

If you’re out and about, notice how light falls on the faces of those around you. How it reflects in their eyes. How it illuminates their hair at just the right angles.

There are stories already surrounding you. They are written by the light. We just have to notice them. Capturing them is what photography, to me, is all about.

Add human beings to the mix and we have infinite stories all around us. Lives intertwined with one another. Sometimes only for fractions of a second, and for some a lifetime of moments and memories.

And time ticks on. Moments pass. We all grow older. Emotions come and emotions go. And so do the people in our lives. Babies are born, while others leave us.

Meanwhile, we carry around with us a device that can stop time. It captures the stories provided to us by the human soul’s dance with light.

My challenge to us today is to try and notice the stories around us. And then maybe try and capture a moment that tells a story. It doesn’t have to be anything remarkable. Just a moment that you happened to notice in your day that you wanted to capture. You don’t need to clean up your desk. You don’t need to make your bed. You don’t need to put on makeup. You don’t need any special lighting. You don’t need to know all the technical details of your camera. Let everything be real, as it is. It’s good enough.

If you really want to push yourself, look for an emotional moment you want to capture. Photography allows us to wear our heart on our sleeve without ever saying a word. Because photography shows us and everyone we share our photos with the moments that we notice. The stories that speak to us. Photography therefore allows us to express our true emotions. It allows us to be vulnerable. If we let it, it helps us to be whole and live into our true selves.

If you’re willing, share some of your photos or even your Instagram with me.
I’d love to see what you notice.

Here are some moments I noticed last evening on a walk with my two sons:

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT

Ezra in the trees

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT

a nice day at BT


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sleeve/

Churn

Outside my window the sky is a wonderful shade of blue. The bark and branches of all the trees are glowing orange with the warmth of the morning sun. Yet, despite what it looks like, it is not warm. In fact, today broke the low temperature set in 1899. It is fifteen degrees.

Easter has come and gone. Eggs have been hidden and found. Hymns of hope and faith have been sung. But the signs of resurrection and life remain dormant.

The few flowers that courageously followed the calendar have been punished for their excitement. Their short lives have been snuffed out by the bitterness of a winter working overtime.

So I wait.

I let the longings for new life sit uncomfortably in my belly.
The desire for warmth, for color, even for soggy earthwormy mornings churns in my being as I look at the extended forecast.


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/churn/

 

Faceless

I love documenting details from my life. Whether it be journaling or taking photos and videos, I love to have things to look back on to remember what life was like. Part of the the joy of it all for me is also being able to share my documented moments with friends and family online.

I take lots of photos of my girls as well, but due to privacy laws I am unable to share photos or detailed descriptions of them. So I have a handful of what I would consider very good photos and I am unable to share them publicly with anyone. Moments of laughter, love, surprise, and connection. But I am unable to share those moments with you.

My friends and family, and the online community I share things with, know that we have eight teenage girls, but most have never met them and do not even know their names. They remain nameless and faceless. They remain abstract and fantastic.

But I have the photos. I promise you they have names and faces. Oh how I wish I could show you.


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/faceless/

 

Invisible

Some quotes from Brene Brown about choosing to be seen:

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.”

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”

It’s a scary thing to be vulnerable, but’s a courageous thing to be vulnerable. It’s how we grow as humans who are wired for connection. We don’t want to simply fit in, we want to experience that deep sense of belonging.

But that requires us to make intentional steps to cultivate empathy, humility, and vulnerability. We all carry shame around with us, and it’s about learning how to work through that shame in healthy ways, for instance, by talking with a therapist, that we can push past our desires of trying to keep those darker more shadowy places of our heart invisible.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/invisible/

Blush

Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD.

– Jeremiah 8:12

I recently decided to take a sabbatical from all things Trump on Mondays. Mondays have become my detox days. After long weekends with our teenagers, Mondays become moments of respite.

I told a couple of my friends recently that I think one of the reasons that I started therapy is that Trump is president of the United States. It bothers me at a very deep level that he is whom our country chose to lead us, and to represent us abroad. I feel a little sick to my stomach every time I hear the words “President Trump” on the news or on NPR.

When I stop to think about why it bothers me at such a core level I come back to the fact that the reason he is president is very much because of white evangelicals. I used to count myself as one of them. Proudly so, even. But I do so no longer, and yet they are still the people whom I know the best. I might not count myself as a part of their tribe anymore, but I know that tribe very well. In many ways it still is what I understand as my spiritual “home.” A place that I have left, but still remains very familiar. Although, these days, I am not welcome there anymore (at least if we shared notes about our faith and what we believe.)

I hear famous pastors and evangelical leaders defending Trump. They defend his leadership and overlook his continuous detestable conduct. It causes me to think back to Jeremiah. What must it have been like for him? To witness the downfall of the nation of Israel? To be alone? To have his people be the cause of their own destruction? Have they no shame? No. In fact, they did not even know how to blush.

That sounds familiar.

The news is too much for me, anymore. I have to step away from it. So I use Mondays for a day of reflection and introspection now. I go to therapy on Mondays, too. I need that space for cleansing myself. Reorienting myself. Reminding myself of what is important, digging deep into my story, and how to blush.


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/blush/

Patience

Patience and faith are intertwined.

My wife and I work with teenagers. Much of the work we do with them doesn’t have immediate results. But we believe in the work we do. We believe in focusing on the means of our work and having faith that in the end, there will be fruit. We may never see it or know of it, but we trust in the process.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Human nature is fickle, teenagers especially so. And I’m still learning about how deep nurture touches even the most nuanced elements of who we are as individuals.

Real change takes a very long time, lots of repetition, determination, lots of repetition, patience, and lots of repetition. You have to believe change within yourself is possible. You have to have faith in yourself, the process, and that the hard work is worth it in the end. You have to believe that whatever trauma you’ve endured, if you work hard, you can overcome it. It might take a while. But if you’re patient with yourself, it’s possible.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/patience/

Captivating

Today I went to therapy for the first time in my life. It was an interesting experience for me. I took many counseling classes in grad school where I learned about how to be a good therapist. I learned a number of various theories about how to approach people to help them. I’ve never been on the other couch before.

It was an intake session, so the questions were broad and of the get-to-know you sort. She asked me questions that made my brain feel like it was sparking all over the place. A random memory here. A sudden insight or thought here. It was a challenge trying to decide what to focus on and bring up and what not to bring up knowing I only had about 45 minutes to do so.

Where do I even start? Do I just pick a thought or memory and run with it? Do I try to piece together a bunch of thoughts and memories to give her a condensed narrative of my life? Is that even possible?

I do think this will be very good for me. Just the process of telling a stranger about myself was in and of itself therapeutic without even needing to discover any insights or come up with goals or strategies for my future.

Apparently my life was captivating enough for the therapist to not fall asleep. So there’s at least that.

I love that my first day of therapy is also the day that my book of photos by Jamie Livingston came in the mail. I wrote about this yesterday, but I got this book months ago and have been waiting impatiently for it ever since.

The book is 768 pages. 9 photos to a page.

Here’s what it looks like.

His whole adult life in pictures. The viewers are left with the task of de-coding them into a narrative. Each picture is a story in itself. The page of nine pictures is as well. Then when you combine the whole thing together you get a glimpse into the various moments of Jamie’s life.

It’s incredibly inspiring to me. I love everything about it. Deeply captivating.

I am sure I will become very familiar with this book over the course of my own adult life. I hope to also take pictures of the moments that surround me like he has. Sometimes I do that on my http://andrews.photos blog.


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/captivating/

Wonder

The way of wonder opens doors and builds bridges. It works from a place of awe. It responds to beauty with admiration and with gratitude. Wonder seeks out the unexpected and unfamiliar with excitement and with hope. It asks questions that don’t have answers. It’s does not grow anxious. Wonder works from a place of humility. It remains courageous in the presence of the divine, the miraculous, the mysterious, the paradoxical.

The way of what-if builds walls. It works from a place of fear. It doesn’t appreciate the beauty around it. It avoids the unexpected and unfamiliar, lives with a sense of dread and doubt. It believes there are answers to every question. What-if is often uneasy and insecure. It covers up its imperfections with prideful assumptions. It makes claims for the divine. What-if avoids the miraculous, the mysterious, and the paradoxical.

Wonder is happy and communes with joy.
What-if is stoic. And lives alongside misery.

Wonder shines bright, bringing others along with it.
What-if is filled with shadows, and pushes others away.

Wonder seeks out paths of possibilities.
What-if looks for dead ends.

Wonder dreams in peace.
What-if tosses and turns in restlessness.

Seek out wonder.


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/wonder/

Uncompromising

My life (and my home) is consistently filled with amazing women. Currently, my job is to live with and teach to seven complex and impassioned young women. Sarah, my full-time coworker and life partner, is the strongest and hardest working woman I know. Our assistant Tara, who works with us 45 hours a week, is a dedicated and humble woman with a huge heart. Our senior assistant is a devoted and loyal woman who has worked at Boys Town for decades. Our consultant Lori is an indefatigable genius who has been our loyal support and mentor for almost a year now. And my mom Cindy and my aunt Mary Ann are two of the most generous and selfless people I know, and they go above and beyond to help Sarah and me with watching Micah and Ezra from time to time, oftentimes at a last minute’s notice.

There’s a common thread among the amazing women in my life. It’s that they are all uncompromising in their values to love and care for others. They are women of compassion, empathy, strength, optimism, fortitude, and integrity.

They are people whom I look up to and am shaped by. I celebrate them today, and am grateful.

Happy International Women’s Day! 


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/uncompromising/