Saturday, February 23, 2013

Choose this day whom you will serve...

In the world of instant gratification and social media, it is difficult to not get self-involved. At least I think it is. Pride is already one of my greatest faults. Having access to something that tells me how many people "like" my work is fuel for self-aggrandizement or self-deprication, depending on the day. (Sad considering how inaccurate it really is.)

What I must remember is who I work for. I am not in the photography business for fame and fortune. I should not seek man's approval, but God's. Any talent I have is from Him and for Him. I post pictures to say, "Check out these awesome and beautiful people I have had the honor to come into contact with through my business" and trust God to provide the clientele, not the pictures.

I desire to encourage everyone I encounter. To be a light and "affect the quality of the day" (Thoreau). I am so thankful for the opportunities I am given to spend time with people, glorifying God with what He has given me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Night Watch

Why are times of sorrow, struggle, doubt times when we find ourselves up at odd hours of the night? We can't sleep, so we toss and turn. A new baby wakes every two to three hours. Children often get sick at night. I, for one, always find myself praying for dawn. All I need is light to give me that glimmer of hope, that whisper of a promise. When someone else is awake, I can cope a little bit better.

But the Lord never sleeps.

I am not going through one of these times. In fact, recently, my daughter has decided sleeping through the night is a pretty good deal, and I agree with her. But as I woke this morning, as I usually do these days, before dawn, I thought I would read through "The Night Watch," a prayer time that falls typically from midnight to dawn. I rarely read these prayers and readings because I am so literal. They are the midnight prayers, the night vigil, and I am up intending for my day to begin. I am glad I made an exception today.

Here are some of the words I read this morning:

Psalm 119:147-148
"I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise."

Why is the author awake? So he can "meditate on [God's] promise"! I rarely think about meditating on God's promises when I find myself awake against my will. But consider if I woke up ON PURPOSE to cry out to God and meditate on His promises during times of great struggle, doubt and oppression. What if we all did during those times for each other or our country?

My dear mentor, who is helping me, encouraging me, and participating with me to memorize scripture, has told me to take a line or a verse from the passage and focus on it all day. What does it mean? How does it apply to situations in life? Today, as I read through Psalm 63 as a part of this prayer time, I found myself reading four verses through again and again:

Psalm 63:5-8
"My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."

Within these verses are promises remembered, refuge taken, praises sung. Notice the benefit for our souls when we meditate on the Lord "in the watches of the night": "satisfied as with fat and rich food." How hungry my soul has become over the years. Too often I neglect that which my soul needs in times of greatest need. It is the Lord who sustains and upholds me.

It is different for me to think of being up during the night as a time to seek the Lord's face and rest in His promises, meditating on all He is - in other words a blessing - but I pray I remember to do just that when it happens because He is not a God of day alone, but He created the night as well.


Ladies and gentlefolk, I greet you on this fine January 30. Another year has passed for the Christians, est. January 30, 2010, and we wish you, each and every one, a fine new year full of blessings and joys.

Our third year of marriage saw quite a few changes including a move (Verity got her own room), Paul's start in nursing school, my finish of six years of volunteer service in the high school group at church, Verity sat up, crawled, stood up, walked, spoke...she's had a lot of firsts this year, including her first birthday!

November also saw a beginning for me, as I relaunched my photography business, now Carey Christian Photography, after nearly a decade. Paul continues to work at Craig Hospital when he gets a chance between classes and studies. God has been very gracious in Paul's hours and pay as well as his schedule. We see a lot of him, which, of course makes us happy. There are days when he doesn't see Verity at all, but those are few. I continue my work at Southern Gables Church with few changes. Verity continues her work shuffling between grandparents' homes and being cute and lovable. She is gracious in the midst of constant change, although she is screaming, a habit we are discouraging at the moment.

She is eating all sorts of foods, green beans being the current and unexpected favorite. Butternut squash, avocado, black beans and chicken sausage also rank at the top. She is always trying to dress herself and telling the most delightful stories, although we cannot understand any of it.

We spent most of the year at home, though got visits from precious family. Verity and I went to Texas in November for the wedding of my cousin Christy. I enjoyed seeing family, though I did not much care for missing the wedding (and causing my mother to miss the wedding) due to illness. But the Lord was gracious and Verity was a saint on the plane going both directions.

As we look forward to all 2013 has to hold, including Verity's second birthday and Paul's graduation in December among other celebrations and challenges, we are thankful for the family that supports us. Both of our sets of parents sacrifice so much to watch Verity while I am at work and Paul studies. We can never fully thank them, so Verity does that for us. We pray they are blessed in abundance as God has used them to bless us in so many ways! We are thankful for our friends who encourage and pray for us. We wish we could see more of people, but when we do we enjoy every minute of connection and laughter.

May your 2013 be blessed with family and friends, hands to hold, words to encourage, voices to laugh with and so much more than we could ever imagine from our great God and Father. If you think of us, pray with us that Paul will be diligent in his studies, learn well, and be encouraged by his wife and daughter. Pray that he continues to enter into life at home openly and finds time to unwind as well as study. Pray for Verity's growth and health, schedule and personality. As she interacts with others, may they be blessed. Pray for me as I work at church, may I be a blessing to the people and ministries there. Pray for me as I hopefully meet new people through photography, that I will be a light shining in their lives, even if only for a brief couple of hours. Pray for me as a wife and mother, that I have the patience, grace, compassion and strength from God above to do everything I need to do and let go of the things I simply cannot do.

Feel free to send us your prayer needs so we can encourage and support you and yours this year!

Love from the Paul Christians!