Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lord, Set Eternity in my Heart ::: Looking Ahead to 2011

The last month or two, the song "Make Me a Stranger" has particular stuck out to me. I'll be driving around town... and a CD will begin to play it... or I'll be in a conversation with someone ... and the other person will bring up the song:

"Make me a stranger on earth dear Saviour, Make me a stranger more like Thee, Help me keep my focus on heavenly treasures, and not on earthly things it may be..." —Mac Lynch

I hardly know how to write in pen what my heart wants to say, but here goes...

The journey of my life in the last year and a half has been one big rollarcoaster and one change of events after the after.

A year and a half ago I knew where God was calling me. I was ever so certain of what the future looked like. (Well, kinda.) I was certain that it was God's calling on my life to be a missionary. No, I didn't know where or how, but it simply was. I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. For as long as I can remember, my life song (hymn) has been these words: "Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee, Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love, at the impluse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee, Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King, always, only for my King. Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee, Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold, not a mite would I withhold. Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne, it shall be Thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee, ever, only all for Thee."

But then God allowed something heart wrenching to take place in my life. It shred my heart into a thousand bits. I'll never forget going to to the corner of a particular room, kneeling at a worn & tattered chair, and sobbing. "God, WHY? What have I done? I'll do anything..." In my tears, I telephoned my mother, and said, "...but I know that if God can do it for Jim Elliot and Hudson Taylor, he can do it for me." She choked up, and I continued to cry. In the months that followed, God chose not to do "it" for me.

Over the next few months, I began to build blocks of bitterness and fear (of being hurt again) around my heart. I made up my mind (all in silence to the whole world around me) that I was not going to ever feel or love another person again, unless I knew I could truly, really trust them.

Around that time, God firmly closed the door me for to go overseas as a missionary.

In my pain and hurt, I thought, "Well, what else do I have to loose? Looks like I have to dive into portrait & wedding photography now!" At first, it was very, very hard to realize that I would not be going overseas again -- atleast in the foreseeable future, but as the months faded on, as my wedding bookings doubled, and I began to investigate and learn from world famous wedding photographers, my heart began to leap. My selfishness took a leap too. :-P People began to praise me for my incredible wedding photography. My heart soared in the admiration of people's praise. These people believe in me! ...and I held the ridiculous notion that maybe I one day could be the next world famous photographer. Oh, Christian photographer of course!

The work began to stream in. The photo editing became an endless chore. Brides sending me hate mail. ...and my business was failing. FAST. Then one night when I was close to giving up, a relative called me up, and basically said, "Don't quit. You've got it in you. I believe in you!" Just those words alone pumped my heart so full of pride that it left me "floating" for a while. ;-) Yeah, maybe I can become a world famous photographer -- in time!

As the weeks came and went, my business too was failing. I couldn't keep up, and I seriously began to wonder, "Um, can I actually do this?" And I began to question myself if I was really meant to be a photographer in the first place.

Over the last couple weeks, God has had to take me to such extreme places of humility, and extreme embarrassment (on my part). I've painfully realized that my life calling is not to be the world's best, most famous wedding photographer. Which brings me to this announcement for Leah Christine Imagery:

Leah Christine Imagery is no longer booking weddings.
*for an undetermined amount of time

The truth is, is that the Lord has reminded me lately that I am HIS. I am no longer mine. I no longer have the right to dictate my life, and do what I want to do.

In the very beginning of my photography career, God called me to use my photography to aid in the advancement of His kingdom. (NOT my kindom!) And God has restored that vision again.

And so, I am shifting gears. I am changing "lenses." No, I'm not saying that I'll never, ever, ever photograph another wedding again. I'll still take portraiture. But my whole reason for being a photographer is no longer to make a name for ME. I am not capable of being great. HE IS, because HE is great, and worthy, and awesome beyond anything you and I could ever imagine.

Life is short. Eternity is real. Soul's are perishing without Jesus. And tonight, I earnestly cry out, Send me, Lord Jesus, if Thou wilt. I am willing to go overseas again... for Jesus. I am willing to be lonely and alone... for Jesus.

And yes, though it may cost me the most heart wrenching pain, I am willing to have my very heart's dreams chattered again... if it will bring honor and glory to His name.

I'm shifting gears for 2011. I'm giving God the keys to my business. And I am super stoked to see where He's going to take it.

(And a little birdie says that in the last couple weeks, a couple different opportunities have popped up for Leah Christine Imagery to use photography on the mission field in two countries in the coming year. But nothing is final yet. Just hopes and possibilities.) ;-)

Can I geniunely cry out tonight, "For me to live is Christ"? Or is it something else?

"For me to live is _______________"
For me to live is not be the next Jasmine Star (though I love her work and admire how fast she has progressed in only 4 years.)
For me to live is not to have the man of my dreams pursue me to ends of the earth.
For me to live is not to have the best camera equipment.
For me to live is not to have the best of everything.
For me to live is not to have the admiration of all the world.
Here am I, Lord. Send me...
Set eternity in my heart!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Present

Christmas Present: My Family's Tree

This is my family's Christmas tree!

Every Christmas Eve my family likes to pick up Subway sandwiches for supper. After supper is finished, we have a tradition of watching "The Nativity Story." The scene of Jesus' birth sends a chill up my spine and a tear to my eye every time ... to see a visual reenactment of what the GOD of the Ages actually DID do for us — came in human flesh, was born in the humblest conditions—for us, and later died and gave His life--for us, for me. Wow! I marvel once again how the prophecies that had been told for generations of Messiah's birth were all fulfilled. It reminds me that God always keeps and never fails His word. I sometimes wonder what it would've been like have been Mary. Can you imagine being a teenager betrothed to be married, and being visited by an angel & told that the baby you are carrying inside of you is the promised Messiah, and He has been CONCEIVED by the Holy Spirit? Would I have the trust and faith in the Lord to actually believe that? (And Mary simply replied, "Be it unto me according to Thy word." What submission to God's will!) Or I think about all humiliation Mary would've experienced by the comments and gossip spread by everyone around. Then I think of Joseph, and just imagine how he must've felt. I marvel at how when he doubted if he should marry Mary, the Lord came to him and told him to "not be afraid." It reminds me that even when I am uncertain of God's will for MY life, God can reassure me of it, and tell me, "Do not be afraid."

... So back to what I was saying about Christmas Eve! If there's spare time after we watch the movie, we all (Yes — ALL 9 of us) squeeze into a vehicle and drive around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights.

Early Christmas morning the youngest members of our family are already waiting in the living room by the Christmas tree... sporting their pajama fashions, sleep ruffled hair, and all. Some of us older ones take advantage of sleeping in a bit, getting dressed, and looking presentable... much to the younger members dismay. ;-) When we all are finally gathered together, my father reads the Christmas story (Luke 1 and other various passages). Dad then begins singing "happy birthday" to Jesus, but I have to admit that I kind of mumble... It makes me feel like a little toddler in toddler Sunday School class. ;) [Yes, I'm so bad..] :p After the last note is sung, someone pipes up in the family, "Can we open presents now??" And it all begins. Flying bows, shreds of wrapping paper, and happy shrills.

Late morning, around 11am or so, our family enjoys a big breakfast brunch: apple cider (or hot cocoa for some), scrambled eggs, bacon, little sausages, cinnamon rolls, and a special Christmas bread.

We always have our big Christmas dinner around 6-7pm. My family fixes turkey for Christmas, instead of ham. I guess you could say our Christmas dinner is just like Thanksgiving! But instead of pumpkin pie, we have chocolate pie for dessert.

Well, there's a peak into a usual Cross family Christmas!

I'm not gonna lie, this year, it doesn't FEEL like Christmas. Perhaps because there's no snow. Perhaps it's because I have a cold, my nose is incredibly stuffed up, and I'm coughing my lungs up. Perhaps it's because there is no one special close by, and I feel like a hermit. But whether I feel like it or not, it IS Christmas, and I'm jumping in with both feet! (Maybe a giant mug of hot chocolate, and a little more gratefulness will help.) ;)

Wishing you all a fabulous Christmas Eve and a very happy & merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Past

Last Christmas was special. In fact that Christmas was one of the most memorable I had had in years. Maybe even ever.

It was the first time I had ever experienced the holiday season away from my family, and I was feeling a little homesick. Dallas, Texas had already been my new home for three months already, and not knowing how long I'd be there (possibly a couple years at the time), I decided to buy my first Christmas tree for my little place. So I bought a 2' foot tree, and decorated it with white lights, and gold & silver balls. I hung a little red plaque on my front door that said, "Joy", with a sleigh bell hanging from it. I bought an Evergreen scented plug-in to make my place smell "Christmas-y". I bought a dark green stocking with white snow flakes on it; a stocking was something I hadn't had in years.

My Dallas "family" made sure the Christmas holiday was special. I specifically remember the night when they lit the fireplace in the lobby, we all gathered our chairs in a circle, and drank Land O'Lakes hot chocolate (I had picked Chocolate Raspberry cocoa). Mr. B. (my Dallas "Dad") read a story from a book about the importance of celebrating Christmas and keeping traditions, and how our very acts of celebration and tradition ARE acts of recognizition and celebration for Christ's birth, whether or not He was really born during this time of year.

My Dallas "family" and I exchanged a gift among ourselves. We each had a person we bought a gift for. We all participated in stockings and stocking stuffers ... so, so fun! I hadn't done stockings since I was probably 9 years old. I stuck a Reese's tree in every one's stocking. We all got various things like fun socks, chocolate covered espresso beans, and tiny bottles of Bath & Body Works lotion in our stockings.

We celebrated the Christmas holiday; we kept it happy, festive, memorable, and yet low-stress. And all the while, we still kept our focus on the real reason for the Christmas season: a time when we celebrate and recognize Christ's coming to earth as an infant.

Christmas 2009 will always be one that is very special to me. And believe it or not, I miss that Christmas Past... and my little Christmas tree with white lights, and gold & silver balls.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Last night at around 8 o'clock, I took a spur-of-the-moment, over night trip to my favorite little town in Colorado— Manitou Springs. It's a little mountain town just west of Colorado Springs, at the base of Pikes Peak.

After a  two hour drive, I was at my friend's cabin (on property of Summit Ministires) in Manitou Springs.

I love Manitou Springs. As some of you may remember, I almost moved here in June, but God seemingly had other plans.

I'm so grateful for the little 'oasis in the desert' I had last night and this morning. A couple other friends of mine, Julianne and Christina— who are also photographers, and I took pictures of the eclipse at Garden of the Gods — as well as laughed at the stupidity and ignorance of those who decided to turn on their car's headlights and fire off their camera's flash to try to capture the eclipse (Hooollla, is your little pop up flash going to brighten up the sky for you, really?!?). Or the poor lady who decided that she wanted to lay on top of her car's hood to watch the eclipse... she layed out a soft blanket on top of the car's hood, and then slid right off onto the ground  (where's the blooper whistle sound?) — giving the appearance much like someone riding down a slippery slide in a potato sack.

This morning as I headed back home, I stopped off at one of my favorite coffee shops ever — Agia Sophia. They make the best Chai Latte! I took my pottery mug upstairs and found a lovely table to sit at. The morning light streamed through the tall window, illuminating the pages of my Bible where I read Isaiah 41 + 42 where I found such comfort and balm for my soul.

"He pursued them..." — Isaiah 41:3

"...Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away." — Isaiah 41:9

"For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee." — Isaiah 41:13

"A bruised reed shall he not break..." — Isaiah 42:3

"He shall not fail nor be discouraged..." — Isaiah 42:4

"I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand..." — Isaiah 42:6

"The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall... roar; he shall prevail against his enemies." — Isaiah 42:13

Overnight in Manitou Springs

Happy Christmas to everyone! I am rather weary having just come down with a cold—again—having had one just 3 weeks ago; I'm pretty sure caused by the lack of sleep the last couple nights (5 or so total hours of sleep the last two nights). Tonight I am going down to Arvada with my family to sing our hearts out in some Christmas carols with a few other families — always a highlight of my Christmas holiday!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Though I Walk Through the Valley

Make me know Your presence Lord, when I feel so alone.
You know each trial and testing pain, the hurt that is unknown.
Oh, why can I not see Your hand so firmly guiding me?
Oh how can I untrusting be, when You are very near to me?


In all humbleness and honesty, I'm in that black, shadowy valley tonight.

It's so dark, I can't even see His hand.

It's so dark, I can't even see the next step that lays before me.

The air is so thick, I do not feel His presence.

Everything around me is shouting defeat, failure, uncertainty, unfulfilled desires, and pain.

He is bidding me onward through the valley, and I tremble in fear as tears slip down my face. "I don't want to go through this, Jesus. It's too lonely, too uncertain, and too painful. Send me to the depths of Africa and surround me with a million little children to cuddle and love. But please don't let me walk through this valley."

Right now I am reaching out into the thick darkness, and grasping out for His hand with all that I have left.

I need Him.

I need His guiding hand.

I need His strength.

I need His joy.

I need His hope.

Last week, I sang (with several others) in our church's Christmas Cantata titled, "A Child is Born." The following words are an excerpt from one of the songs we sang. A tear came to my eye as the words rang out in the auditorium-- and tonight, I am reminded of the same words...

"His grace is sufficient for me,
His grace is sufficient for me.
Though the storms of life prevail,
And my strengths begins to fail,
His grace is sufficient for me."

"Safe in His arms,
I am safe in His arms 
My Jesus will keep me from fear."

  excerpts from the Christmas cantata, "A Child is Born"


Monday, December 13, 2010

Redlin Family | Portrait Session

Last weekend, I did a family portrait session of the Redlins — my Pastor and his family! These were some of my favorites.

Redlin Family Portrait Session | Teaser Image

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session

Redlin Family Portrait Session