Kingdom of God

He Knows You

Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm f/2.8  |  f/10, 1/80sec, ISO-640

Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm f/2.8  |  f/10, 1/80sec, ISO-640

When I am surrounded by mountains, I can't get over how big they are and how small I am. It's the same when I went scuba diving a few years ago. I remember being about 20 meters down, looking around the water that went on forever, realizing how small I am in the midst of such a big world.

In those moments I have to remember that the God that created all of these mountains and the depths of the ocean is for me and even created me along with those mountains! It says in Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV):

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

Wow! Such an amazing truth. God created all of us and knows who we are--the true us. He created us--He knit all of us in our mother's womb. He wonderfully made all of us. What a treasure to know, that God is not far or aloof, but intricately made each one of us! He wants to be a part of our lives. He didn't just create us and leave us.

Whenever you feel small in a big world, remember that in God's eyes you are important and known! What else more could you want if you already have the approval of the creator of the world?

-Ashley

Consider the Flowers

The last few days have been intense for us. It would take many blogposts to explain, but mainly we have been trying to get everything sorted for us to remain in our city. We've been working on this process since we arrived in the beginning of September, but it has proven to take longer than two months. Albeit this has been challenging, we are finally at a good spot. We have all the documents, memberships, sign-off's and so on. The only thing that isn't good is that our current visa expires on the 21st (this upcoming Wednesday).

As I've reflected today, what I find interesting is that I haven't found this whole process too worrisome. The constant trips to different offices repetitively (we've found that the lucky number is somewhere around 4-5 times) hasn't been too burdensome. Finding out, after you think you know the process, that you need another letter wasn't too bad. Yes, it would have been nice to know that before, but it's doable. Even people saying no hasn't been tragic (they've all said yes in the end, so it's worked out). 

What is stressful and burdensome is the constant anticipation for an outcome.

The last couple of days, I have wondered why both Joshua and I are so irritable. I was so perplexed by this because generally we get along great. It suddenly dawned on me today that the stress of waiting and anticipating, and a deadline fast approaching can definitely wear on people. It kind of goes back to my previous blogpost about waiting for the perfect wave. We are anticipating, hoping, etc. without any conclusive answers yet. For this situation to resolve would be so nice right about now!

So with all this in mind, as I was posting my photo of the day it reminded me that this doesn't have to pan out for me to have contentment wherever I'm at. We have been living in a state of unknown, but it doesn't matter.

It doesn't change who God is.

In Matthew 6 (in the Bible), Jesus talks about how we shouldn't be anxious about our lives because God knows and will take care of us. He talks about the birds, how they don't store away in barns, but God provides for them. He creates beautiful flowers that don't 'toil or spin'. He created the grass, which is here today and gone tomorrow. But us...we are much more of value than those things. How much more will he care for us? (This is my paraphrase, read the verses here)

It is true. God greatly cares for you and me and is much bigger than our situations. So although I want things to resolve, I will just have to keep living in "unknown land". At least one thing is for sure--even though I'm in "unknown land", God is with me. I'm not doing this alone. I'm so thankful!

Whether you're in a good place today or are anticipating an outcome, I pray you know God is with you. 

-Ashley

Pain. It's everywhere.

There is so much pain all around us. No one is excluded, although some would like to think they were and hide it more than others. 

Up until recently I hadn't really paid attention to it. I have guarded my heart incredibly, not trying to notice other's pain, other's hopelessness, other's sadness. However, after recently opening up about my own pain to some friends of mine, I've now seen other people with new eyes. Eyes that understand. Eyes that are full of compassion. Eyes that can't sit idle, but want to help. 

With everything going on across the world shows evidence that people are in pain. Pain from loss, pain from disappointment, pain from all sorts of things. But what can we do? Can we do anything? 

The only person I know that can help is the creator of all - God. The Kingdom He talks about is so rich. So fulfilling. So hopeful. I know everyone doesn't believe the same as me, and that's fine. But I do believe God's Kingdom is the answer to our problems. Until the Kingdom comes, life will continue as is because there is a ruler (namely Satan) here that hates everyone (although he gets others to think the opposite) and wants them all to be in pain. This enemy delights in their pain and suffering. 

God, bring your Kingdom.

Today's photo of the day is of a sunflower. I love sunflowers--they're probably my favorite flower. When they began to grow up around our home, I was surprised and very happy. To me, they show happiness, brightness, beauty and hope. I think that in the midst of our problems, we can still have hope. Hope in what is to come. 

This post is a lot more serious than any of my other posts, but I feel I have so much rambling around in my mind that I want to express. Feel free to comment below, as I've love to talk more about God's Kingdom. I think this photo is fitting for my Kingdom of God project, too. 

Tomorrow will be a happier post - promise. :)

-Ashley

The Kingdom of God (KoG) Photo Project

As I said in my last post, I am going to start a photo project entitled, "The Kingdom of God'. I started this project a few years ago, with little success. Why? It's an incredibly hard topic!

What is the KoG? Jesus talks a lot about the KoG coming or is here now, so what does that look like? There are quite a few passages in the New Testament that talk about the Kingdom, but even then it's so complex and can be confusing. 

I wanted to start off my project by revealing some of my first shots for what I think the Kingdom of God represents. Let me know what you think!

2014-kingdomofgod_forblog01-pearl.jpg

This to me represents this passage: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:45-46). Apparently the Kingdom is worth searching for and very valuable.

This picture just resembles to me how people in the Kingdom might live. Maybe unguarded, authentic, ready to serve and do things most people won't do, etc. These things are not easy. You have to humble yourself quite a bit!

That's all I would like to share for now. If you have any ideas of pictures of what the Kingdom is, share them with me! Would love to try them.

-Ashley

RedBubble Designs | Personal

So I've recently started my own library on RedBubble, which is simply a website to host independent designs, illustrations, photographs, etc. that you can sell. I really have been wanting to dive into designing different ideas that have come up in my mind and I have really enjoyed this website! It definitely has a unique flare to it, but the great thing I like is that all I have to do is load up my content on the website and it does the rest--it prints, packages and sends the product. For someone who doesn't have the time for that, it's great deal! Of course, they do take a percentage out of each sell. 

Would love to get your feedback on the things I've posted. You can check out my portfolio here or by clicking on the link on the left hand side of my blog (if you're on your computer--mobile viewing will be different). 

And just to throw out there one of the designs I just completed:

This was inspired from the idea of God's love being so deep and tangible. The word "DEEP" falling into the water makes me think of diving head first into God's love and really immersing myself into who He is.

This was inspired from the idea of God's love being so deep and tangible. The word "DEEP" falling into the water makes me think of diving head first into God's love and really immersing myself into who He is.

Thanks for looking! Excited for your feedback.
-Ashley

Photo Projects - I NEED your Feedback! | Personal

As many people have probably already done, they have set goals or resolutions for this new year 2013. I have decided to make some photo project ideas. I've always wanted a photo project to do, but I have never been really good about following through on my ideas. So, I'm hoping that you (yes, YOU) will keep me accountable. :)

These are my two ideas that I think I'm going to begin this week:

1. 52 {Inspiring} Pictures: A Picture a Week for a Year - This is what it says it is, 52 pictures a year, one a week. I'm already behind (the first week of January has already past us - whoops!). I thought about doing the 360 Picture project, but I don't think I could keep up with it. One picture a week sounds more reasonable. Now, one thing I haven't mentioned, is that I will only use my 50mm f/1.4 for these pictures. I purchased this lens last year and rarely use it. I'm hoping that this photo project will help me use it more and LOVE it. I already love it, but I want to use it and LOVE it. :)

2. The Kingdom of God in Pictures: A Photo Book - This project is comprised of photos that I have taken that remind me of or, in my opinion, show the Kingdom of God that Jesus speaks about. He talks A LOT about it, so why not create a picture book out of it!

I started this project last year, actually, but when I got my new computer, my files went with my old computer and I lost it all. :( So I have to start over (not completely - I still have the photos). I never finished this project though! Instead of just creating a book though, I want to post some of the photos online for people think about why I would see that as the Kingdom of God. 

So those are my two ideas. What are your thoughts?? Please tell me! I want suggestions and feedback! Thanks in advance! 

And a post is never a post without a picture....

This was taken in Seattle, WA this past November 2012.

This was taken in Seattle, WA this past November 2012.

Leave a comment below for your thoughts on my project ideas!

THANKS!
-Ashley