England Bound

It’s been three years since England stole a piece of my heart (or perhaps I gave it away!), and I’m happy to say I will return this September. I have resigned my job, will sell my car, pack what few things I’ve kept, and go back. To what you may ask? Honestly, I don’t even know!  A lot of people have been asking “What are you going to do?” Granted, good question. I’d ask the same. And my answer is quite honestly — I know without a doubt God will tell me when I get there.   Even if it is to find more of my creative voice, then so be it. God will develop that in me how He sees perfectly fit.

I would LOVE to find work with a humanitarian organization and travel doing writing/photography throughout Africa…perhaps with a base in England. Who knows? All I know is this, next, step.

So, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has booked my photography over the past few years. To those who trusted me with their cherished moments. I’ve met some amazing families. Watched love unfold and spark. Held a newborn baby at its freshest moment. Discovered colour in all types of humanity.  *slight tear here* It’s truly been a gift to capture your photos. I’ve realized lately that I reaped way more than I bargained for with photography. Not only do I see this world differently (frame by frame quite literally, ha ha)…. But I feel like it has given me a gift of a voice.  Yeah, it may have made me more outspoken, but perhaps that was needed!  Interesting how God gives you a gift and it develops your character as well 🙂  Imagine a world where everyone lived from their heart?

I won’t be taking any more photography bookings after August 11, 2011… so if you want to sneak in, please let me know before then!

I will continue writing my blog from England, and I will also have  a guest column in my local paper Red Deer Express at the end of every month, should you choose to follow along… 🙂

And for those of you who supported me with my book, you will understand when I say, perhaps I’m going back to England for my own bright red trousers moment. Thank you for your support and words of encouragement. Love to you all on this journey of life…Never give up.  ~Lani


Easter Reflection from Bright Red Trousers

It’s been three years ago that I was living in England. What a dear time that was for me. I remembered a chapter from my book called “That I May Have” and I thought I’d share it with you. As we celebrate that Jesus really is alive and wanting a relationship with us, I hope you ponder the great truths of Who He really is….

And a plug….I still have books available for purchase with all proceeds going to Home of Hope Rwanda! 😉

“That I May Have” Chapter 11 from Bright Red Trousers

No surprise it was raining that morning.  Verity and I had walked downtown to join the annual “walk through High Street” and the Good Friday service. It is tradition throughout England for all churches in the towns to start walking at one point and carry a large wooden cross through the streets and end up at High Street (the main street of any town is called High Street). They sing. People come out of stores to watch or join along route.

The wind was cold, but I had my Starbucks in hand.  We huddled close to the crowd that was listening to the preacher speak about the importance of Easter and what it really means. The Pastor spoke from Philippians 3:8-9 and talked about “having Christ”. It seemed so simple, yet hit me harder than any other Good Friday service I’d ever attended. That is what Christianity is about – having Christ. I went home and, feeling so taken by the morning, wrote the below…

I was a shy 7-year-old farm girl who loved the garden and nice things. Light brown hair and dimples, I adopted at an early age a love for shoes. One day on a trip to the city, I fell in love with some shiny black “heels” that I thought would make perfect Sunday shoes, and I tried to convince my Mom of this. Little did she know I was also thinking – those would look great on the playground.  Unfortunately, the store didn’t have my proper size, but I told my Mom the size I tried on would work – really Mom, they fit fine!  I said through the squeezing pain of beauty.

Mom instructed that these new beauties were to remain on the shelf until Sunday morning, and I solemnly nodded in obedience. However, school mornings came and it was too tempting to not show them off to my classmates. I stuck the treasures in my back-pack, with a plan to take them out and wear them as my “classroom” shoes. Mom would never know.

Day turned to day, and I realized the ache of these new soles were not quite worth the pain. I confessed to my Mom I had worn them at school and that these brilliant heels were actually far too small and hurting my feet.

When I was 16 I fell for a guy at my small-town church. He towered over me at 6’5 and had the ability to draw me in with his athleticism and wit. He walked in a mysterious attraction that captivated me for seven years. I wondered day and night if I would ever have him, or if he desired me, even a tiny bit. My teen-age insecurities held me back in expressing my admiration, and so, for all those years, I lived in the land of wonder. Was I not pretty enough? Was I not brave enough? Was I just not enough?

Right before our friendship ended, I had a faint glimpse of hope that he did have feelings for me. We agreed to meet after three years of not seeing each other face-to-face. Those 48 hours of decision were the happiest and hardest for my inexperienced heart. In the same breath he gave me a yes, he then gave me a no. I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I lead you on, he said. It felt like my heart had been kissed then crushed and those seven years of wishing ended – forcefully and without an explanation.

I’ll have a grande, double-shot, sugar-free, extra-hot Chai latte. Please. I love a good Starbucks. I know I am paying mostly for ambience, but there’s something deeply satisfying about sitting in a plush velvet chair for two hours reading Jane Austen and watching people I don’t know walk through those glass doors. Shameless. I’ll have that.

Being a single, 27-year-old successful young woman, there exist many things in my sights I’d still love to have. I have had heart ache. I have had shiny red shoes that stop traffic. I have had quiet moments on a country road where I felt like God was literally standing right next to me. I have had problems I couldn’t fix and cars that were the same. I have had journeys over-seas and late night intimate talks with friends. I, have had many things.

Having insinuates ownership and property. It is yours. It can go with you, stay on the kitchen table or remain on the backseat of your car. Having indicates you have said “I want this in my life.”

Yet one thing, I am told, is the greatest thing I can ever have.

This past Good Friday the Pastor spoke from Philippians 3:8-9 – “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else counting it all as garbage, SO THAT I MAY HAVE CHRIST. 9 and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.”

What I have or do doesn’t determine my worth or decide who I am. It might be a reflection of my heart and interests, but what sits in my closet, or what to-do list I check at the end of the week isn’t what God wishes me to base my life on. My achievements are worthless in comparison.

So that I may have Christ. I get to HAVE Christ! Suddenly, this Easter my realization of how intimate Jesus wants to be with me became clearer. I get to have Him as a Saviour, Friend, Confidant, Redeemer and the list goes on. And He wants me to. Jesus wants to have me.

The acquisition of life-changing moments with Christ suddenly gained height on the ladder of importance; to the top. He is mine to have.

At the end of my life, may it be said: Lani experienced many great things, and had a life that touched many. But greatest of all, she had Christ.

Pursuit that won’t let go

From now until Christmas I am offering copies of my book for $10 – all proceeds going directly to Home of Hope, Rwanda. Here is another chapter from my book, Bright Red Trousers.

Chapter 16: Pursuit That Won’t Let Go

She looks into her bedroom mirror one last time, dabs the sweet perfume carefully behind her ears and smiles. Perfect. Well, as perfect as it’ll get. Her flawless complexion and tight brunette ringlets would leave any man weak in the knees. But she still tries endlessly. It never hurts. Even though he’s shown her his interest, his affection, his desire, she still tries to make him pursue. Am I lovely to him?

His wire-framed glasses slip down his broad nose for the fifth time since class started. It’s been three minutes. He is staring intently at the synopsis of their next assigned piece of literature, but not digesting what is printed on the cover. He smells the book. Ah. It reeks of adventure and knowledge. The teacher does roll call as per usual. English 30 begins and he has high hopes that this will be the class when Mrs. Reinhard notices his hand and acknowledges that this “nerd”, as the others have dubbed him, may just have some answers. That maybe behind the poor hygiene and second-hand clothing, lies a genius. Perhaps she will ask for his input. Or perhaps, once again, she will choose a student that “appears” brighter. Maybe next time. Maybe next class she’ll see I have something to say.

I am sipping my coffee, waiting for my flight home. My eyes stop on a red-haired boy that looks about 5-years-old, fervently trying to get his father’s attention. “Daddy, Daddy! Daddy! Did you know….Daddy, Daddy!” He crawls around on his seat like he has ants in his pants. “Daddy, Daddy?”  His father, looking everywhere but his son’s eyes, seems to be intent on NOT focusing on his child. Why? I ask myself as I watch this family affair unfold. You’d be blind not to notice that this boy craves his dad’s attention more than anything else. More than the latest Cars toy. More than the red gummies laced with sugar. He is pursuing his daddy’s attention – and not winning.

As humans, it’s in our nature to pursue, chase and desire. Or want the same. We pursue acknowledgement from our boss, the admiration of the girl next door, our parents’ approval, or the fast food we just have to have at 10 o’clock at night. Every day we are after SOMETHING.

The dictionary definition of pursue means to overtake, capture, to follow close upon, to strive to gain or to continue.

Genesis says we were created in God’s image. Man and woman. If God created us like Himself, and if pursuit is in our nature, then why wouldn’t He have that same trait as well?

A line in my devotional has never left me:  Jesus still pursues people.

He passionately engages with His creation.  He came to rub shoulders with us when He could’ve stayed on His throne. He came to dip bread, laugh by the sea and be a carpenter for the first 30 years of His life, so that He could know and save you.

The moment I woke up this morning He was anxiously awaiting my first words, hoping they’d be to Him. He waits with the excitement of a child at Christmas time, or so my imagination leads me to believe, for us to drop a knee and worship him – be it five or sixty minutes of our day.

With pursuit, comes some form of love. Or what will eventually lead to love. Correct? We don’t pursue things we don’t naturally desire or like.

I’ve often pondered the thought of love – Christ’s love and how I am really supposed to love all these crazy, amazing and not-so-like-me people that surround me every day.

The Bible states that we will never be able to fully comprehend Christ’s love, though we can experience it. We can know God, but only in part – as much as we seek to know Him, really. So, on this thought of love and pursuit, what does it really all boil down to?

In Mark 10:51 Jesus is talking to blind Bartimaeus. Bart is so excited to hear Jesus call his name that he throws off his cloak and goes to Jesus.

“What can I do for you?” asks Jesus.

“Teacher, I want to see.”

That’s the question. That is what love, pursuit, and seeking anyone and anything boils down to – what can I do for you? What can I offer, give, contribute, do, help.  That is how Jesus still pursues us. To Him, it’s all about us. And the moment we stop pursuing or giving into a relationship, it dies.

He says very simply and out of complete commitment and passion for His creation, “What can I do for you?” As if dying a brutal death on the cross and going to hell weren’t enough, Jesus still asks what He can do for us.

Pursuit doesn’t give up. It doesn’t let go. It constantly asks “what can I do?”

And that is where a dream becomes powerful. What can I do to make society better? What can I do to solve this problem? How can my life make a difference?

We’re all after something. Every day. For me, sometimes first thing in the morning it’s the toilet. The coffee perk. The thermostat. The snooze button.

I think that when our dreams become the most powerful is when we realize that Jesus dreams for us to. He is still asking “what can I do for you? I want to work with you to make your dream come true!”

So maybe it’s just a matter of figuring out what kind of trousers you need to pull on, where you need to wear them, and then not letting go of them – no matter what.

There is a quote in my quote book that says “The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

But just like the little boy I saw that one day in the airport, don’t give up asking. Pursue. Full heart.  Jesus will work at it with you.

Just do one thing for me? Pursue something. Desire something great. Don’t let life pass you by without pursuit.