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Category Archives: Photographer Wannabe

Safe Places and Saving Strength {Nourish Your Soul: Day 19}

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How To Have A White Christmas {German Snow Revisited}

It’s been snowing here these last few days, and I keep thinking about this post I wrote last December. During one of the first snowfalls we endured enjoyed in Germany. So I thought we could re-visit it today. You know, to remember the amazing that is truly White Christmas.

God shook the snow globe yesterday. It fell hard and beautiful, and we watched with wide eyes and gave updates through the day. Look outside! It’s still snowing!

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It’s called Schnee in Deutsch. As in Let’s go build a Schneemann. And Wanna’ have a Schneeball fight?

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The snow falls through the night, and the globe keeps shaking through the morning commute. I watch in the dark from the bus stop. See the different trajectory each snowflake follows.

I get soaked on my way home, even from inside the hat and scarf and gloves and warm winter coat. But I’m walking, so I’m not that cold. The little tiny snowplow attacks the parking lot across the street. And the sandwich vendor on the corner’s shoveling hard when I pass by. Trying to keep up with the falling snow. Trying to stay ahead of it.

But nobody can keep up. The snow just keeps piling.

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Huge snowflakes hit my eyelashes and my cheeks, and pieces of my hair are soaked, poking out from my hat. All I can think is how fast the snow falls. How nobody can get ahead of it.

Then it hits me, that verse I read at the beginning of Isaiah.

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This piling snow, it’s grace from God. I cannot keep up with the clean forgiving He lavishes. My sins, oh how dark like scarlet they are. As red as the blood that flowed down Jesus’ face from His thorn-crown-covered forehead that Friday we call Good.

But His snow-piled grace turns them white even now. I walk in the snow and I am clean in my heart. New. Because He’s turned the dark red stains of the sin in my soul into snow-white piles of undeserved favor. Unmerited grace.

And this is the white of Christmas. I realize it as I traipse through the slush and into my building. The gift of the snow white clean for which Emmanuel arrived.

I don’t have to dream of a white Christmas. I live it every year.

But, it’s nice to have the snow piles outside to remind me.

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How Timber Changes Everything {Thanksgiving 2012 Revisited}

I find myself thinking a lot about last year. Especially lately. Trying to remember or imagine exactly what we would have been doing at this point in our time overseas. We were almost halfway done with our 365-day adventure. About four weeks away from a trip home to Ohio for Christmas. And visiting our dear friends in Vienna for an American celebration of a holiday Germans don’t do.

In honor of that awesome memory we made 365 day ago, I’d like to re-visit this post with you. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Because it reminds me of what I am deeply, beyond-words grateful will all my every ounce of who I am. I hope you’ll find that deep-beyond-words gratefulness in it too.

Also, Happy Thanksgiving, my friends!!

 

We meet our friend at Starbucks in Vienna. She studies there in that amazing city just hours west of Budapest and worlds away from my Amish-land home. We drink cappuccinos and tea and hot cocoa under the Starbucks lady in green. Then we walk.

She takes us to St. Stephens Cathedral. We admire its Gothic beauty and tall towers surrounded by scaffolding. And merchants looking for tourists who’ll pay to make memories from a horse-drawn carriage ride. We take pictures of one side. Then another. And again. My mouth gapes open when we step inside.

It’s so tall. So beautiful.

We walk some more through the city. Make our way to the famous Manner waffle cookie store. Then towards Hofburg. I don’t know much about Hofburg, but I know it houses the Spanish Riding School. And the Imperial Treasury.

I’m not a big museum-goer, but this I want to see. It holds crowns and regalia and treasures of kings. Stuff royalty used back in the day. Hundreds of years ago.

We say goodbye to our friend and then head inside. Picking up an audioguide, we decide it might deepen our appreciation for the treasure we find inside the treasury.

We come upon the first case of royal fortune. A king’s crown and his sceptor. Legend says it’s made out of a unicorn’s horn. I have my doubts. But its intrigue proves hard to withstand. I mean, truly, we behold real royal treasure with our very own eyes. So we gaze and we stare and we try to capture its beauty even though we can’t use a flash and the lights are so dim.

We move through the exhibits. Many of them pull me, and I find myself loving this museum as much as the Georges Pompidou in Paris. Not at all the same. But equally enamoring.

We move past kings’ mantels and royal keys. Some more crowns and a robe. We walk into another room and find a beautiful cross displayed behind glass. Covered in jewels, it catches my eye like the first crown we saw. So I turn on the audioguide and have a listen.

The voice draws my eyes to the less prominent wood laying next to the beautifully adorned cross. It’s shaped like one, too, but it holds no jewels. Just a plain little piece of wood with a hole at the top. It’s encased in metal, but that’s it. Nothing like the big bejeweled one standing up next to it.

It’s a piece of the cross of Jesus Christ, the British-accented man in the device tells me. It had been soaked in His blood as He hung on the wooden cross, the whole from which this small piece came. And my eyes are stayed. I cannot make myself look away from the wood. Can’t force them from the piece of timber that just might know the blood that took my sin-stained self and made me new. The blood of Jesus Christ.

To think the very King Who conquered all that matters may have bled on this lumber that lay right in front of me, well, I cannot fathom.

My family moves on. They find more treasures nearby. I know I should go, too. But I cannot pull myself away from this case. I can think of nothing but the blood that tore me from death and darkness and hate and Satan himself. That very blood might just have stained the wood upon which my eyes now fall. And I cannot peel them away.

I just keep taking pictures. Keep trying to capture the banging beats in my chest cavity with the click of my finger. Trying to grasp the meaning of the blood stains of God.

It’s Thanksgiving Day. We’ll be eating turkey soon with our American friends who’ve made home in this beautiful city called Wien. Eating turkey and talking thanks. We’ll be thinking of home and familiar and all things grateful. And Thanksgiving Day traditions will ride strong.

And tomorrow will be Black Friday at home in the U.S. And crazy will begin. And people will fight at Wal-Mart over an i-Pad 4. And life will continue as it always does.

But I will be different.

Because how can I know the blood of Jesus and not be changed forever? How can I contemplate the wood that bore my Savior’s broken body, that soaked up His very blood, and not be transformed from the very depths of my soul? How can my heart not be remodeled into a thankful that soaks every fiber of my being?

I look for the blood stains on that petrified wood. But I can’t see them. They’re all soaked in. If it actually is what the British man says it is. I wonder. And my heart still beats fast.

Because, whether that piece of wood felt the drips of Jesus’ blood or not, I know what has. My own soul.

The Unspeakable of Flossenburg Concentration Camp

I want to write for their memory. The honor of those who lived such terror. Victims of Hitler’s rage and insanity.

Sixty million people lost their lives because of him.

That’s New York City more than eight times.

But to try with my words feels trite. Not enough. Because it’s all so unspeakable.

Truly UNspeakable.

PicMonkey Collage

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat were their thoughts when they looked out the windows? What did they see? Could they dream of the freedom I feel when I look out a window on a sunshiney day? I cannot imagine…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe SS forced the prisoners to stand in the courtyard for roll call, many times for hours on end. Often they made them watch as they executed someone in the gallows there. Then they had to walk by as they were dismissed.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA bowl, cup and utensil of one of the prisoners. Most of them tied these around their necks so nobody would steal them. For, they did not get any food if they had nothing to put it in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoots worn in the Death Marches at the end of the war. The Nazis marched the prisoners who could walk deeper into the country to try to kill them off before they could be liberated.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is where the Nazi administration stayed. Max Koegel was the last one in charge there. He killed himself the day after he was captured. All I could think as I looked up at those windows was “What the heck were you thinking?” Truly unthinkable.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf these walls could talk, I am honestly not sure I could handle what they would say.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“The men and women who gave their lives for people’s freedom and justice.” (My very broken German translation.)

The building in the background is where Dietrich Bonhoeffer and five other men who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944 were martyred on April 9, 1945. It was eleven days before the camp was liberated by the Allies.

You can read more about Flossenburg Concentration Camp here.

*I imagine I will write more someday, but for now, I will only remember. And I will hope that as I do I will honor those who died. And live differently for their memory.

A Good Friday Thank You Note

Dear Jesus,

I just want to say… thank You for today.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love you.

Always,

Bria

 

Every Seven Days

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The week starts fresh every seven days. And I am oh so glad. I love every chance I get at a new beginning. A whole new Monday morning to start over again. Brand spanking new Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon, Thursday morning, and so on.

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This week, I look forward to making time for my kids like I haven’t done in a while. Finding gifts for my family at the Christkindlmarkt shops. I am anxious to read a new Christmas book that I purchased on my nook. Excited for the crisp smell of winter’s approach.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But mostly, I can’t wait to get my hands on some more of those amazing warm, vanilla-flavored almonds I found the other night on the walk home from dinner. Roasted and candy-coated with a little bit of sugar. Wrapped in the cutest little green paper cone.

What are you looking forward to this week?

How Timber Changes Everything

We meet our friend at Starbucks in Vienna. She studies there in that amazing city just hours west of Budapest and worlds away from my Amish-land home. We drink cappuccinos and tea and hot cocoa under the Starbucks lady in green. Then we walk.

She takes us to St. Stephens Cathedral. We admire its Gothic beauty and tall towers surrounded by scaffolding. And merchants looking for tourists who’ll pay to make memories from a horse-drawn carriage ride. We take pictures of one side. Then another. And again. My mouth gapes open when we step inside.

It’s so tall. So beautiful.

We walk some more through the city. Make our way to the famous Manner waffle cookie store. Then towards Hofburg. I don’t know much about Hofburg, but I know it houses the Spanish Riding School. And the Imperial Treasury.

I’m not a big museum-goer, but this I want to see. It holds crowns and regalia and treasures of kings. Stuff royalty used back in the day. Hundreds of years ago.

We say goodbye to our friend and then head inside. Picking up an audioguide, we decide it might deepen our appreciation for the treasure we find inside the treasury.

We come upon the first case of royal fortune. A king’s crown and his sceptor. Legend says it’s made out of a unicorn’s horn. I have my doubts. But its intrigue proves hard to withstand. I mean, truly, we behold real royal treasure with our very own eyes. So we gaze and we stare and we try to capture its beauty even though we can’t use a flash and the lights are so dim.

We move through the exhibits. Many of them pull me, and I find myself loving this museum as much as the Georges Pompidou in Paris. Not at all the same. But equally enamoring.

We move past kings’ mantels and royal keys. Some more crowns and a robe. We walk into another room and find a beautiful cross displayed behind glass. Covered in jewels, it catches my eye like the first crown we saw. So I turn on the audioguide and have a listen.

The voice draws my eyes to the less prominent wood laying next to the beautifully adorned cross. It’s shaped like one, too, but it holds no jewels. Just a plain little piece of wood with a hole at the top. It’s encased in metal, but that’s it. Nothing like the big bejeweled one standing up next to it.

It’s a piece of the cross of Jesus Christ, the British-accented man in the device tells me. It had been soaked in His blood as He hung on the wooden cross, the whole from which this small piece came. And my eyes are stayed. I cannot make myself look away from the wood. Can’t force them from the piece of timber that just might know the blood that took my sin-stained self and made me new. The blood of Jesus Christ.

To think the very King Who conquered all that matters may have bled on this lumber that lay right in front of me, well, I cannot fathom.

My family moves on. They find more treasures nearby. I know I should go, too. But I cannot pull myself away from this case. I can think of nothing but the blood that tore me from death and darkness and hate and Satan himself. That very blood might just have stained the wood upon which my eyes now fall. And I cannot peel them away.

I just keep taking pictures. Keep trying to capture the banging beats in my chest cavity with the click of my finger. Trying to grasp the meaning of the blood stains of God.

It’s Thanksgiving Day. We’ll be eating turkey soon with our American friends who’ve made home in this beautiful city called Wien. Eating turkey and talking thanks. We’ll be thinking of home and familiar and all things grateful. And Thanksgiving Day traditions will ride strong.

And tomorrow will be Black Friday at home in the U.S. And crazy will begin. And people will fight at Wal-Mart over an i-Pad 4. And life will continue as it always does.

But I will be different.

Because how can I know the blood of Jesus and not be changed forever? How can I contemplate the wood that bore my Savior’s broken body, that soaked up His very blood, and not be transformed from the very depths of my soul? How can my heart not be remodeled into a thankful that soaks every fiber of my being?

I look for the blood stains on that petrified wood. But I can’t see them. They’re all soaked in. If it actually is what the British man says it is. I wonder. And my heart still beats fast.

Because, whether that piece of wood felt the drips of Jesus’ blood or not, I know what has. My own soul.

The Thing About Light

When it’s dark and someone turns on a light, you can’t help but find it. I mean, your eyes, they go right to it.

And in the day time, when it’s bright outside and the light shines onto what would be transparent, the flat surface acts like a mirror. The light shows itself off on the see-through surface.

I want to be a surface like that. The kind that shows off the Light in all of His glory.

By how I live.

How I love my husband. My kids. And strangers on the bus.

By what I say. And how I say it.

What I write and how I deal with success. And failure.

I want my life to show off Who God is.

So that when people look at me, they see Him instead.

How the Lens Changes Things

When I’m having a hard day, I look through the lens of my camera. Somehow when I look at ordinary things from behind my camera lens, they  stop me in my tracks and make me realize the beauty of all that I have. The true gift of the right now in which God Himself has placed me. Somehow, the lens transforms dreary days into beautiful snippets of tiny little beautiful moments that end up making my day. I find myself looking for the everyday pieces of amazing that I didn’t recognize before. Somehow, the lens of of my camera changes the way I look at things and helps me find God’s truth, His beauty.
 
So I start to notice the simple beauty of a bench in the park. And suddenly it’s a gift.
And the amazing of a bunch of tables awaiting connection that will take place over beer steins and brats at a community festival.
When I look through the camera lens, I notice things like a reflection on the water, and I thank God for the gift of right now, for the gift of my man and his love. And it makes me want to kiss the love of my life and capture it for the beauty of the moment. Well, that, and for the sheer fun of grossing my kids out.
I get excited for a bee stopping at a flower and finding nectar for its own beautiful creation. Somehow, even a bee is a gift from God, that I might see it for its beauty rather than fear it for its sting.
When I grab my camera, I start looking for photos, beautiful moments within the whole day, to document. Because, broken up into little tiny pieces, the whole of the moment, the entirety of the big huge incapturable scene becomes so much richer, so much more abundant. Because my camera can’t capture an entire scene’s beauty, but it can magnify the smaller, grasp-able pieces of the scene and reveal layers of beauty that I might have otherwise ignored. In the same way, my soul can’t fit its arms around the whole of a moment. It sometimes struggles to find amazing in the right now. Until I let God uncover the layers in tiny little snapshots of the huge gift He’s given me called life.
The gift of my camera lens helps me count the gifts one by one, right along with Ms. Voskamp and the beautifully amazing community of gift counters who look for ways that Almighty God has graced them in the very right now. So today, I’m joining in the counting. You too? Click on the link and be inspired by others to find the joyful thanks in every right now.