Cyber Resurrection

I’m back!  Back from where?  Well, that’s a funny question, because I’ve been here, in Oxford, the whole time.  My semester away from my computer screen hasn’t been “away” at all – I’ve just been lazy.  But here is some exciting news!  I’ll be writing a lot this semester!  Why?  Because I’ll have a lot to say and (hopefully) a lot of time to write about it!

In exactly five weeks, 35 days, I will be boarding a plane to Detriot, and then another plane to London, where I will spend a few days experiencing that city with my grandma.  After three days of that, I will get on another plane that will land in Athens, Greece, where I will meet my friends and classmates and get acquainted with…well, with everything that will be my life for the next three months.  From there, I’ll get on a boat and cross over a portion of the Agean Sea, and set foot for the very first time on Paros Island, my home.  There, I will study art and swim in the sea and take lots of photos and paint some things and miss Ohio like crazy and laugh and cry and, by grace, know Jesus more than I do today.

Can you believe it?  I can’t.  In fact, just trying to believe that my life is about to go this crazy makes me a little crazy – not that being crazy is any different from my typical, state-side mindset..but..you know, I don’t even know what I’m talking about at this point.  But I am feeling a little crazy.  I’m also feeling apprehensive and nervous and a little sad and unbelievably excited and happy and thankful and curious and sleepy.  All of this is happening in me, a single helpless individual, Lord help me.  And it will only get better…or worse…or whatever any of this means.  And it’ll all be documented right here!  So stick around, or come back, or don’t do either, I won’t mind.

Another thing I hope to do is send out a weekly email to people who wish to know a bit more, so if you’d like to be on that list of people who will read my electronic panic and tears and rejoicing, let me know!  Just send me your email and I’ll gladly add you to my list.

So there it is – the next four months of my life planned out on a blog.  Phew.

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Thoughts on Emotions and Sun Rays

I’ve decided what my favorite emotion is, but I don’t know that I can come up with its name.  Here’s my best effort: inspired with butterflies just before dusk when the light is so perfect and slanted that everything you see would make the most wonderful picture, especially that spider web between the branches of a short, broad, strong tree, when all you need is a fantastic .  Anyone with me?  So often, I yearn for this feeling, wishing I could just be giddily inspired by something, anything, but I’m  usually disappointed, left with a heaviness in my soul and an empty memory card.

How ridiculous is that?!  That the presence or absence of a temporary, fleeting emotion can make or break whatever may be happening in my life at any given time.  As if the angle of sunset could really make that much of a difference in my life, my soul (though it does make an enormous difference in photographs).  I suppose I’m mostly just frustrated that I’m still so wrapped up in things that will die, suns that will set, emotions that will change and so far from the One who is the most constant utopia for my florescent-hating spirit.

I came across this article, this crazy article, about life-longings, about where we, as humans, believe our true meaning and joy and fulfillment and euphoria can be found.  You know what everyone wanted?  To be loved, by others, themselves, society, you name it.  They wanted everything to be “okay”, for everything to fall into place, just like that perfect light angle.  That’s what we, the world, believe will bind us into communion with jubilation.  And it doesn’t change, at least not noticeably, as we age.  Sure, the specifics may go from “I want a boyfriend” to “I want a child” to “I want better relationships with my grandkids in Illinois” – but isn’t it all the same?  We’re never satisfied.

I’m feeling like a broken record, having written on this before (see my post from last October) – My heart tells me to just get over it, deal with the fact that it’s never going to go away, but my soul is pleading “No! Don’t settle for this! You know where joy is!  You know WHO joy is!”  And my soul is right – I do know Who joy is, and I know where it comes from.  Check out this cool list of joy by John Piper.

Feeling so convicted behind this techy safety net, friends, that my joy so often lies in the hands of my emotions, my relationships, my belongings and not my Savior.  Join me in seeking what Piper calls “Paul-like joy” – joy that abounds regardless of circumstance.

A Confession

If blogging was a sport in the Olympics, I’d barely even scrape by with a participation ribbon, just like the summer I was on the swim team (but that was way worse). I’m sure no one reading this now ever thinks twice about the frequency of my blog posts, and that’s the way it should be. But I’ve put blogging up on this pedestal, as if the number of times I write really makes any difference at all in my identity, worth, status, whatever.  What a funny, era-appropriate trap to fall into – cyber-pressure.  Let me confess this, I only started writing a blog because I thought that as a young, Christian woman, it’s what I was supposed to do.  Silly I know.  I really know.  But it happened, and some other things happened as well.  I found the dream-land of internet-based design, art, poetry, photography, music and, of course, those fantastic blog gems of which my heart has grown so fond.  Beauty from ashes, people!

Speaking of beauty, here are some things that have been happening in my life that have been wonderful:

1) I had the opportunity to witness (and digitally document) my stunning friend, sister, Young Life leader and 8th grade math teacher enter into the covenant of marriage this weekend.  It was unbelievable.  God’s faithfulness is real, Jesus is real, grace is real, and this wedding was a crystal clear reminder of those truths.  Thankful for you, Amanda and Nick Tracy.

2) At that wedding, I was blessed to be assistant photographer to Leigh Fabozzi.  She, my friends, is a star.  Though she’s relatively new to taking pictures (not as new as me, thankfully), her eye is so keen and her spirit so life-giving.  She’s so talented and wonderful.  Here’s her blog and website, take a look.  You’ll understand why I was so honored to be able to work with her.

3) I was inspired by pinterest to try this ombre craze.  So yesterday, my mom and I sat down with some hair dye and diet coke and went to work.  It wasn’t the most successful of our endeavors, but it was fun anyway.  I have the greatest mom on earth.

4) At work today, I came across this website, the Good Woman Project.  Please, please, please take a look.  It’s so deeply encouraging.  Lots of truth there, lots of life.

That’s all for today – keep your eyes open for some previews from the past few weddings I’ve had the privilege to shoot.  Get outside.

Tuesday Afternoon

Friends, welcome to Tuesday. I’m really glad to be here, and I hope you are as well. Kristin Shaffer, this one is for you 🙂

As I sit in Oxford’s Starbucks, I’m thinking about the way dreams can impact your day so profoundly. I was plagued with dreams I wouldn’t wish on anyone last night. And this day has been so incredibly frustrating to get through. I pride myself on my dreaming mind, that romantic, breezy, sunset, awake kind of dreaming. My real dreaming, sleep dreams, those are another story entirely. This got me curious: what are dreams? Why the heck is my sleep brain so messed up? Here’s what I found:

Most every dream we have is about ourselves. Even if the people in our dreams don’t look like us, they more than likely represent some part of our conscious or subconscious self (School of Metaphysics, 2002). Essentially, our dreams are made up of little pieces of our awake thoughts, patched together in this pseudo-reality quilt, which more often than not, only sort of makes sense when put into the context of real life. Countless Dream studies have shown that dreams are much more than your inner crazy having a field day while your eyes are closed. Instead, your dreams could indeed be improving or quality of sleep, embedding memories, and even preparing you for danger (Williams, 2007). However, the overall consensus is that the reason for dreaming is unknown. Not even the experts know why the things my brain latches onto manifest themselves in my sleep life.

Here’s the thing, people. It’s so hard to separate myself from the wickedness that is my innermost, unbridled, out of control mind. What a testament to the far reaching sin soak each of us have endured. Think of it, that even our sleep thoughts are wretched! Not even my most helpless, motionless state is worthy of the Blood of the Lamb.

I was feeling pretty sad about all of this, and then I read in Psalm 127:2 that God gives His beloved their sleep. That even sleep, rest, slumber is a gift from our Father. And what was created for the good of His children can and will be redeemed. So here I sit, encouraged and sleepy, and this is my prayer tonight, for myself and for you, Saints:

Precious Giver, Redeemer Lord,

Thank you for rest. I believe that it is good and that I am not. The widespread effects of my sin and the sin of the corrupt world in which I remain have reared their monster heads in my vulnerable sleep. Here, I plead before your perfect throne, for protection against these beasts. That instead of evil, you would fill and embed your goodness in my sleep brain. Allow me to dream the One worth dreaming, Your goodness and Your gospel. Allow it to fill my sleep, unattached to any of my faulty awake thoughts, Jesus. Spirit, surround my mind with the redemption bought with the death of Jesus, and may I truly dwell there, waking or sleeping. You truly are my best thought, by day or by night. Your presence is my light. May You shine in the darkness that is my sin and my sleep. You are a God of redemption, even in dreams. We trust you. I trust you. In His precious Name, Amen.

By grace, my friends, I wish you sweet, Spirit-filled dreams.

Friends

As I get older, the more and more I’m realizing just how much effort relationships really are. I’m not sure when it clicked, maybe this past semester, when I felt super lonely, not because my friends sucked (they don’t, not even a little bit) but because I was waiting around for other people to make the first move. Everyone is busy. Sometimes, you need to take initiative. Not a fun lesson to learn, but I learned it anyway.

The reason I’m writing this is that since it’s summer, all my friends are away – home, doing internships, graduating, moving away…you name it, they’re doing it. Sure, it’s cool, I’m so happy for them, but that means that they don’t live 5 minutes (or less) from my front door – and I don’t love that.

As I’m planning weekend trips to hang out with my friends, I’m reflecting on how easy I thought it was to be friends with people who live close to me. But really, even my Oxford friends take a lot of effort to spend time with. How silly is that. Pretty silly if you ask me, and a little sad. But, we’ll make it work, we all will, won’t we Allison in Nashville? 🙂

I guess the moral of my story (for myself) is not to be lazy anymore, to take every opportunity I have for intentional time, real talk, true friendship, not just existing close to one another. Pardon the cliche, but, it’s my life. And my blog.

Dreaming

I’m back!  After an unbelievable week at Rockbridge with some incredible friends from Fairfield, I’ve returned to my desk to read, write and edit photos.  The latter subject is really what’s on my mind today.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I really really enjoy taking photos.  I mean it.  I got my first “nice” camera two Christmases ago from my parents – one of the best material gifts I’ve ever received (thanks mom and dad!!).  Ever since, I’ve been experimenting and learning about imaging – both digital and film, but definitely more digital – and it’s been so, so fun.  I guess I never saw my “eye” as a gift, until very recently.  My good friend and sister Emily Riggs and her then fiancee, Ben, asked me to help shoot their wedding last September.  I was petrified, clueless, but curious.  It went fine, I got some good shots, and I was ready for more.  I then shot an engagement session, took some pictures of my friends for their house, and this summer, I booked three weddings!  THREE!

Now, seeing as I didn’t really see my taking pictures as a gift until recently, you can bet that the idea of making something of a business out of it really never crossed my mind.  Until yesterday.  And now, here I am, looking at business cards and website templates.  What the heck.  Slow down, Katie D.

But seriously, I’m getting excited.  Here’s the thing.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  Absolutely none.  It may not amount to anything.  But what do I have to lose?

So here we go!  Keep an eye out for Katie Derickson Photography.  Coming soon.

Proximity vs Intimacy

Before I get into the bulk of what I want to say, here’s a quick follow-up regarding the meal I made a week ago:

Praise Jesus my friendships aren’t based on my cooking abilities.  It was awful!  First of all, the main dish I made wasn’t even gluten-free.  The pasta was dry and rather tasteless.  The top of the casserole was super hard, and the “baked potatoes” I tried to make were raw.  We were too impatient to wait for the vegetables to bake completely, so those we raw, as well.  The corn muffins were good (thanks, Agnes!), but the overall meal was pathetically sub-par.  The average response of my friends while eating was “Katie, it’s not that bad”, which told me that it was, indeed, that bad.  I think the worst part of it all, even worse than the morbidly bland pasta, was the realization that I’m not naturally good at cooking!  Something I so desperately want to excel in, I’m not naturally able to.  My mom assured me that cooking is an acquired skill, but for someone as impatient as I am, that was terrible news.  Thus, I hereby surrender my desire to instantly be good at cooking to the Lord, in hopes that He will redeem my feeble attempts of delicacy.  Have mercy on me, Father, a mediocre cook!

Speaking of mercy, let me give you a little taste of how awesome my weekend was.  I had the blessing to spend four sweaty, beautiful, fellowship-filled days at Rockbridge, a Young Life camp in Virginia, with 700 other leaders, worshipping and learning about our Beloved Creator Lord.  Here’s a list of reasons why the weekend was awesome:

1) The cooks at Rockbridge, unlike me, are good at what they do.

2) Sunshine

3) On-point worship

4) Teaching that was out of this world.

5) Uninterrupted time with people I love a lot a lot a lot.

6) Time with my team!

7) Seriously so much laughter

Let me expound upon #4 a bit for you.  If you were with me this weekend, you can stop reading now, because what I’m about to say will pale in comparison to what we actually heard.  But if you weren’t there, prepare for some nuggets of gold.

Another note: I’m about to get real, so…be ready for that.

We had two unbelievable speakers.  Tim Brown, son of God and president of Western Theological Seminary, was our morning speaker.  His evening counterpart, Rick Rogan, Director of Young Life’s Northeast Region, brought a distinctly impactful point of view.  Together, their words made for one of the more convicting weekends I’ve ever lived through.  One gem that stuck out to me most vividly was one discussed by Mr. Rogan.  His question was this: Are you, Christian, settling for proximity to Jesus?  Or are you striving toward intimacy with Him?  My answer was this: I am absolutely, 100% settling for proximity.  I am going to church, leadership, doing contact work, listening to sermons, praying occasionally and calling it intimacy with the Father.  Dagger to my soul, I’ll tell you what.  The rest of the teachings followed suit.  I was so utterly convicted that for a moment, I questioned how a sinner like me could ever be redeemed from such stagnant existence.  Thanks be to God that I’m already redeemed.  But think of it!  I’m trading deep, intense intimacy with my CREATOR for being around people, things and establishments that are “about” Him.  What a foolish thing of me to do!  I was reminded of Jeremiah’s prayer;

24 Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure—
not in your anger,
or you will reduce me to nothing.

This is the God that I’m choosing to run from.  A God whose perfect justice would reduce me to nothing, yet whose mercy secures my eternity and sustains me even in this very breath! How could I believe something else, anything else, is more deserving of my time, affection and intimacy?  I’m a sinner, people.  But praise Him that He knows that and sent His Son, Jesus, for that and that the Blood of Jesus covered that.  Amen?

And that’s what I’m thinking about today.  I hope you think about it too.

Looking Forward

Tonight, I get to spend time with four of my most favorite people of all time.  Who are they, you ask?  I’ll tell you!

1) My mom
2) Katie Rhodenbaugh
3) Emily Pruckno
4) Agnes Calkins

I’m making dinner! And, since Agnes is a self-proclaimed GluTard, all the recipes will be gluten-free!  Here’s a preview of our menu.

Roasted Vegetable Salad via Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef

Corn Cheddar Muffins via Martha Stewart 

Conflicts and a Mustache.

Another dawn, another Monday.  Whether this excites or horrifies you, it’s here.  I sit behind the student desk at work with eyes swollen by sneaky night-ninja allergies, reflecting upon the last three days, wondering what the heck is going on.

I’ve always felt a little conflicted, and I think that’s good.  Not necessarily over any specific subject.  I mean generally conflicted, in everything. As a christian who realizes the sin and pain of the world alongside the joy and celebration of eternity with my Jesus, I don’t really see anything wrong with feeling joy in sorrow, or feeling a little down during celebration. This weekend, I think, demonstrated vividly just how hand-in-hand joy and sorrow really are in the life of someone longing for Jesus to return.

Here are a few conflicts I wrestled with this weekend:

1) Fellowship and disappointment (both within the Body and in ministry)

2) The fact that I think I like Fantastic Mr. Fox the movie better than the book – that never happens.

3) Catcher in the Rye

4) Death and celebration of ETERNAL LIFE

5) Flesh vs Spirit

6) Exhaustion and excitement

So here I am, battling to understand why, and wishing Jesus would just come back right now, but not wanting to leave just yet, and feeling so absolutely inadequate of His grace but trying to live within and through it, and trying to share it with others who so desperately need it, and wondering how the heck to love someone you care so deeply about when they are experiencing pain so profoundly horrifying that you have no chance of genuine sympathy.

O, Lord, how long must the battle rage before You return? You, O Victorious King, are the answer, I know that full well.  But the present evil is blinding. Burst forth in Your brilliant light and truth, Father! Put to rest the transgressions of our flesh and soothe the aching hearts of Your beloved children.  Though the horrors of this world seem monumental in comparison to our feeble bodies, we celebrate the victory of Your Son, Jesus on the Cross.  We sing and dance in expectant jubilation, though we do so with weary bodies. Restore us, Father.

And there’s my weekend.

But today, ladies and gentlemen, is most definitely a day to be thankful.  Why?  Because 22 years ago, the one and only David ‘mustache maniak’ Noble was born.

Praise Jesus for this young man.  Really.  Now, I may be biased, as he is, in fact, my boyfriend, but I really think that he is one of the most wonderful people in the world.  Here are some reasons why:

1) He loves Jesus.  A lot.  I mean it.

2) Because he loves Jesus so much, he loves other people really well and he loves them a lot.  “Other people” includes me, and I’m really thankful for that.

3) He’s hilarious – if you haven’t had a chance to experience his humor, make one.

4) He has a lot of really nice character traits that are a bit cliche but really genuine and awesome.  A few examples: he’s loyal, trustworthy, honest, humble, consistent, responsible, hard-working, gentle, talented, driven, etc.

5) He is super handsome. I mean, super crazy handsome. (See photo above.  Stay back, ladies)

6) Did I mention that he loves me really well?  He does.

7) He’s brilliant, really he is.  He would say otherwise, but that’s just because he’s humble.  He’s so smart.  I really like that about him.

8) He puts up with all of my crap, my sin, my sob-sessions and speaks so much truth to me, even when I hate hearing it.

9) He keeps me grounded.  But he still lets me be a dreamer.  He’s a dreamer, too. I’m getting sappy.  It’s hard not to.  He’s so wonderful.  I could probably write a book about how cool he is.  He’s a rapper, for pete’s sake! Gosh.  I am a lucky girl.

All this being said, happy birthday, David.  We’re glad you’re here.  I’m glad you’re here.