I'm home! Thank you for your prayers while I was away! More images of my trip to Nicaragua are to come, but before I share my photographs, I need to share my heart a bit. I'm having a hard time jumping back into work like usual. To be transparent, it's hard to go about answering emails and editing photos after the experiences I had last week on my missions trip to Nicaragua. Jesus has wrecked me with His great love all over again, and I would have it no other way. But it sure is a challenge to just jump back into "normal life," after feeding hungry children, after praying for a little girl who was sick from the water she drank, after clothing a naked baby because all they had was a blanket to wrap her in. This world is a great and vast planet full of people loved by God, and I get so wrapped up in my own little world of life and photography and beautiful things here in Raleigh that I forget there is so much need around this earth. Lord, may I never lose sight of what You see every day.
I will never look at my "normal life" as normal again. I will always look at this home that I have as a palace. The fact that I don't have to worry about getting contaminated water in my mouth when I take a shower is luxury. Actually, the fact that I have a shower is a luxury. My floors are not made of dirt. The inside of my home doesn't get wet when it rains. My refrigerator is full of colorful fruits and vegetables, my pantry is full of meals ready to be made. I have medicine when I get sick. I have a closet and dresser FULL of clothes. The truth is, I am one of the world's wealthiest.
The most humbled and grateful I've ever been in my life was driving home from the airport after we landed in Raleigh. I was so exhausted and my spirit was so fragile (still is, actually), and my sweet mom, who had been staying at our house, told us that as a welcome home gift she got our house cleaned and she went grocery shopping for us while we were gone. I couldn't control my tears at that point. After seeing homes built on dirt floors from scraps of metal and trash bags, I was completely overwhelmed at how much we have been given. Why me? Why was I born in this beautiful country full of freedom, so that I can use my gifts as I please? Why am I privileged to have clean water and an education and medical care when I need it? It's an overwhelming thought. And overwhelming gratitude follows right behind it. I don't deserve this, but yet, I have it all.
And that's when I have to stop, and simply acknowledge that God is Sovereign, and whisper "thank you." I can't question the One that has the perfect plan, for He graciously put me exactly where I am. There's no guilt in trusting that He planned exactly where each of His children would be born, would live, and would die. I am here because He put me here, and He is trustworthy! But now I ask, what am I to do with this experience? This wealth? This grace? Yes, He placed me here in North Carolina, with immense wealth... but not without purpose. And He placed you right where you are too.
One thing I know: this life is meant for so much more than just making money so we can be comfortable. We have been put here to share the love and salvation of Jesus. He loved each person on this beautiful earth so much that He gave His own life as a sacrifice... He paid the price for our sins, while He was perfect and undeserving of our punishment. And He rose again to give us victorious and eternal life in Him! It doesn't matter what country you live in or what you have, that truth is for each one of us.
I don't exactly know where to go from here, with this full heart and overwhelming gratitude. First things first, I'll jump back into life. I will continue to work, to answer emails, to edit beautiful photographs. But I will do so with a new perspective. I will continue to pray for my brothers and sisters in Nicaragua. I will listen to worship music and read scripture in a new way, and I just might do all of this with tears for the next few weeks, but that's okay. I want to let this experience continue to change me.
Because the truth is this: no matter where you live, no matter what you have, God is good. And that never changes.