Cultivating Her Soul

On Tuesdays on The Pearl Press are all about soul. Or as we like to say, “cultivating our soul.” In the spirit of soul, today I am going to share with you what God has been doing in my life personally. And I figure I might as well tell you through one of the ways in which I cultivate my soul; photography.
I know photography in this day and age is a controversial thing. I know that I should “be in the moment” and that taking pictures with iPhones doesn’t really count or whatever.

But here’s the thing…
When I stop to snap a photo, I am in fact forcing myself to be present in that moment. I am sapping the photo because I realize this is a moment that will change me. Here, I am learning something from whatever it is that I am looking at.

And when I look back through these photos or see them scattered around my home with bits of string and little clips (which I do quite often) I return to those moments and the lessons I was learning there.
For me, photography is a way of learning and growing and changing and cultivating my soul.
Here are some snaps I have collected recently and the lessons I have gathered with them.

In Mexico, we have to soak everything fresh in a mix of water and disinfecting drops. Sometimes it’s daunting because I just want to eat…especially after a long and exhausting grocery trip.
I snapped this photo after one of those trips when I was more than starving. As I hovered above the bucket of soaking fruits and veggies that I longed to devour, I was reminded of this: Yes, moving my life to a foreign country has required a lot of changes and even some inconveniences and sacrifices, but it has also been so rich and bright and colorful. I know that this season though challenging will change me for the better and will add color to the rest of my life and flavor to my story.

My landlady LOVES flowers and plants. Maybe even more than I do. I am forever thankful for this. There is this rose bush right at the bottom of my stairs. One day as I sighed with relief to finally be home for the evening, I caught a glimpse of this little scene. I am constantly reminding myself to “bloom where I am planted.” What can I say, I speak flower. I saw this gorgeous, blossoming rose next to this tight, tiny little bud, and something clicked. I knew then why I needed to bloom where I was planted. For all of the tight, tiny little buds around me. They are longing to bloom, trying to bloom and perhaps all they need is to see me gather the strength and the courage to open my face to the sun. Perhaps that will give them just enough strength and courage to do the same. Wouldn’t you know, later that day, there were two pure white, fully opened roses soaking in the sun right next to each other.
Need I say more?
Bloom where you are planted.


To lie in a hammock beneath the trees away from the hustle and bustle that is Guadalajara. To observe the way the sun looked in between the tree branches.  No plans. No agenda. No time frame. On that Saturday in February, this is precisely what my soul needed.
Be aware of what your soul needs. How do you refresh and recharge? Don’t be afraid to clear the calendar and just be. It may seem irresponsible or selfish, but in the long run it might be the best thing you can ever do for others, your work, your ministry.

I remember that I took this picture with tears in my eyes.
I was tired. So tired. Frustrated. Angry.
I have always loved ivy. I guess it just thrills me the way that it spreads itself out on such hard, industrial surfaces but somehow it remains soft and green and lovely.
This day I was learning that the most beautiful things often grow in the most desolate, difficult places. That true beauty doesn’t allow any circumstance or environment to change it.
So. I made a choice. To thrive in my own difficult place. To stop allowing anything or anyone to take away from the beauty that is within me. To remain a beautiful soul in spite of all else.

Stop looking down at the ground.
Look up.
It’s much prettier.
There’s a lot we are missing simply because we won’t pick our head up and look to the sky and to our good, kind, gracious Creator above.

In the last few years I have learned about myself that from time to time (or perhaps as often as possible) I need to be near the sea. When I am withering and fading away, saltwater air and blue-green water will refresh and revive my soul.
Recently I planned a trip of this sort with friends at the end of what would be a long month and leading into an even longer one.
It was indeed exactly what I had needed.
And along the way, God continued to remind me of one simple word.
Because as simple as it is, I just can’t seem to remember lately.
That He loves me in spite of me, and that I too should love just like that.
Myself and others.
Somehow it was easier to soak in this reminder in the context of the sea and its surroundings.

This sweet baby rose reminded me of the simplicity and the endless impact of kindness.
The ability of one human to see into the eyes and the soul of another and to recognize that in this moment, rules and rates don’t matter. That the rose might in fact cost 30 pesos, but today it is free for the sake of extending kindness and reminding another soul that they are seen and heard and valued.
On this particular day I was on the receiving end of that. A sweet soul offered me this rose when I expressed my love for flowers but my need to save money and not purchase them. She simply plucked this little beauty from a bunch and told me to enjoy.
And when you experience that sort of free, unsolicited, kindness, how then can you not pass it along?
Today remember to offer kindness of that sort to whomever you may encounter.

The taller that you stand, the higher you reach, the closer you will be to the sun. Stop slumping over. Stop blending in with the rest of the shrubbery. Stop withering in the shade. Be a tree with deep roots that never ever stops growing and reaching and soaking in the Son.

This photo captures an entire year of feelings for me.
Eleven months in this tiny classroom in Guadalajara, Mexico.
17 three-year-olds
Struggling. Hurting. Growing. Striving. Desperately praying. Breaking. Stripping. Shattering. Laughing. Smiling. Falling. Standing. Aching. Waiting.
And all for this.
So that I and each of these little ones could become. Bloom.
All so that we could look more like Jesus and represent Him well.
Because that’s always what it’s all about.

Looking more like Him and showing more of Him.

Today snap a photo of something
that you have collected along the way! 
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