Uganda on my mind

Since announcing two days ago that I'm returning to Uganda in January, I've been thinking about this land and the people I met there SO much. It truly captured my heart in a way that no other place I've visited has. I find myself yearning to wake up naturally to the first light from the sunrise, to watch the monkeys playing in the trees, to not know or care what time it is, what the wifi password is or what's going on in social media land. I am beyond excited to go back in January and am praying fervently that Matt can come for a bit too, if it's God's will. Join me in praying for doors to be opened and finances to come through if it's what's meant to be! I'm also SO excited to share that The Archibald Project (the rad organization that I went to Uganda with in March and now work for) just opened up applications for three Media Missions in early 2015! You can find all the details here. You guys, I cannot put into words how life-changing and AMAZING the media missions are. To use your artistry and photography to serve the orphan...to see people connect with a child's story through your photos...to see people being moved to HELP and GIVE just because you shared an orphan's story with them...it's unreal. Apply!!

For now, I'm looking forward with MUCH anticipation and excitement to the day I touch down again in the Pearl of Africa. XOXO!

The Archibald Project has a brand new website!

IMG_7299 Oh man, I can hardly contain my excitement over this website launch. EEEEEP! The Archibald Project's brand-new website launched this morning. You might remember that this is the organization I went to Africa with, and now I'm working for them as their Creative Director. When Whitney approached me about helping them build a new web presence, and requested that they used Wordpress, I gulped and said "sure! I can totally do that." What ensued was four weeks of relentless googling, trial and error, learning to code, design mock-ups and edits, more googling, lots of texts back and forth with Whitney full of emojis, more than a few head-on-desk moments, four live chats with the hosting company, many tweets asking for help, a thrown computer mouse (I inherited my dad's project-induced frustration, whoops) and now: a brand-new website.

This was the biggest and most complex site I've ever built. It has sooo many pages, tons of internal links, galleries, it needed three years' worth of blog posts to be moved from their previous site platform without losing any content/comments/likes...the list goes on. So many times I almost picked up the phone to tell Whitney there was no way I could do that...and then I'd pray, usually somewhat frustrated. Those prayers would go a little like this, " Um, okay God. I did not ask for this job. You brought this job to me and I think it's totally unfair that you gave me a job that is having me do something I have NO IDEA how to do so if you could go ahead and direct me to a solution to this problem for the 105th time that would be PRETTY GREAT OKAY." And it always worked! And now, due largely in part to the best personal assistant to ever exist (Google), loooooots of coffee and many, many hours, it is here.

Pour yourself some coffee, put on some good tunes, and spend some time digging through the new site. There are so many stories of redemption and renewal, hope through heartbreak, and families and individuals who are speaking life into abandoned children's lives, who are casting light into the darkness. I'm so PUMPED to be part of this team. Happy Monday!

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Announcing...

8S7A5421_low I realized today that I never formally announced that I've joined the team at The Archibald Project! So, yeah, that's exciting. I'm coming on board as their Creative Director and have SO so many ideas and plans spinning around in my brain that I cannot wait to get to work on. The more I think about how this job came about...the more I'm in complete AWE of our good and gracious Lord. It's unreal how much He wants us to be fulfilled and to be the One who fulfills those deepest desires of our heart.

There was no application for this job. I wasn't job searching. I was acutely aware that my current hodgepodge of nannying work, photography and design wasn't exactly what I wanted to do forever, but wasn't really sure how to get from point A to point B. And things were fine, and life was pretty good, and we pay all our bills, so there wasn't a whole lot of motivation to shake things up...even if I knew deep down that I wasn't living as alive as I wanted.

The job came out of my trip to Uganda in March. And to back up, even that trip was clearly divinely orchestrated for me. I wasn't searching for a mission trip. An overseas mission was not even on my radar. I guess, maybe, in the back of my mind I figured it'd be cool to go on another trip "sometime." And one day, scrolling through Instagram, the post calling all photographers to apply for a mission trip to Uganda caught my eye. And I got that feeling...the heart racing, palms sweaty, whole-self-feels-buzzy-in-the-best-kind-of-way feeling. It was the same feeling I got the first time I hung out with my now husband :) Like you just know, deep in your heart, that this, whatever it is, is MEANT for you.

So I went to Uganda. And I served, and I loved, and I cried, and I laughed, and I grew, and I changed. I was challenged by my teammates, by Nick and Whitney, the team leaders and founders of The Archibald Project (and my new bosses...haha!) I was challenged by the kids and the people I met in Jinja, challenged by their childlike faith, by their unquenchable joy, by their incredible love. I gave it my all; it changed me to the core. And I came home, and shared the experience as best as I knew how...which, honestly, doesn't feel like enough. I still don't feel like I've done the trip justice. But all of a sudden I was talking to Whitney about possibly working for The Archibald Project, "for real." And suddenly "possibly" turned into "we'd like to offer you a position..." And my whole heart was basically fist-pumping the sky yelling "YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"

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I have to raise a lot of support to officially come on board and begin working. And some days, that feels pretty overwhelming and scary. This job with The Archibald Project, it's truly my dream job. To use my passion and talent for design to serve the orphan, to travel with families and document the incredible journey of adopting a child, to travel with other people passionate about story-telling and Jesus overseas to capture stories of our sweet bothers and sisters on the other side of the globe...it makes my heart sing. Except for the fact that I don't really remember including having to raise tens of thousands of dollars in my dream job description.

And yet, it's CRYSTAL clear that this job was handed to me, placed in my path. It is obvious that this is where the Lord is asking me to use my talents and time. He paved the way for me to step away from nannying. He is paving the way for me to scale back on photography. I used to think that there was NO way I could pursue my ultimate dream--travel, design, make pretty things for people, work from home--and still provide for my family. All the photographers I knew who did international, humanitarian photography were already full-time missionaries with their spouse before venturing into humanitarian photography, or they weren't married at all. When I tried to work it all out in my little human brain, it just felt impossible. Like I'd have to choose: marriage, or the chance at my ultimate dream job. And yet, our God is so much bigger than our human constraints. God is so much bigger than amounts of money. He knows my heart, my heart for marriage and my husband and my desire to grow in my vocation as a wife and, hopefully, future mother...and he also knows my desire to be part of something bigger, to tell meaningful stories, to travel, to serve, to love with abandon people on the other side of the globe. I'm laughing as I write this because I imagine how much God is laughing--lovingly--at me. In my mind, it was impossible. But God is bigger than impossible.

I truly believe that God helps those who help themselves.  You can't sit on your couch and eat ice cream and expect the desires of your heart to fall from the sky. God works when we show up. When we show up to our life, each and everyday. When we show up to a life that maybe isn't our ideal, isn't our dream. When we show up to a job that isn't our dream job, but we give it our all, and we give thanks that we can provide for our families, and we do it with a cheerful heart. When we show up to our homes and households, to houses that aren't our dream houses but that we give thanks for anyway, when we show up to serve our family that maybe isn't complete in the way we want or doesn't look the way we hope it would, but we still give every ounce we have and love with abandon. God shows up when WE show up, He works through less-than-ideal circumstances, He uses and any all situations for His good, and He shows up in ways that leave me completely humbled and awestruck to my core.

Over the course of the next few weeks and months, I'm going to be raising support for this wild adventure I'm embarking on. It's outside of my comfort zone, but I truly believe that this is what God is asking for me, and so I'm saying yes. To take this job, to do this ministry, to serve in this capacity, I HAVE to raise the money. Just like my friend Whitney, who is afraid of flying, says about her frequent air travel for The Archibald Project, "One of these days I won't be afraid to fly. But the important thing when it comes to our fears, is that we don't let them hold us back. I'll keep flying as long as I'm called, and in our life and ministry I'm called to fly a lot, like a lot a lot. We believe, Nick and myself, that ministry isn't something that you get a degree in or are paid to do, it's a way of life, a way of loving others more than yourself and sacrificing your own desires to love and serve others, neighbors, family, grandmas, orphans, the poor, the crazy...they're all the same to Jesus so they should all be the same to us. Jesus didn't have a degree to love on the lost, He had a heart united with the Father. So let's all live lives in ministry, loving everyone we come in contact with and pushing through our fears to accomplish this love!"

I love people. I love stories. I love humanity. So I'm going to work hard, every minute of this fundraising process, to push through my fear and feeling of overwhelm to accomplish this task that will allow me to spread that love. And I want YOU to know, if you're considering following along and partnering with me, how much I BELIEVE in this mission, in what The Archibald Project does. When I traveled to Uganda, I naively thought I would go there, photograph some orphans, share those photos, and people in my community would adopt them. And looking back...it's amazing to me how much bigger this story is. The Archibald Project is about SO MUCH MORE than just adoption. The Archibald Project is about getting at the root issues that cause children to become orphans...to come alongside birth parents, along with adoptive parents. To help find resources to help kids and families. Through media, through powerful story-telling, we can change the story. There are an estimated 147 million orphans in the world today. I firmly believe, with my entire heart, that because of The Archibald Project, that story is going to change.

I can't even put into words how excited, humbled, awestruck and AMAZED I am to be stepping into this new role and this adventure. I'm just...I'm speechless. I hope you'll follow along...there are SUCH good things in store.