Relaunching Images From The Journey

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a photoblog in 2009-2010 that was an offshoot of this blog. 

The primary reason I entered photography was to stop and discover the innate beauty of God’s world — to explore the “extra” in the ordinary. The photoblog was a place where I could reflect on some of these images.

Ten years later, my life is full. And in its fullness, I’ve neglected the habit of pausing, observing, and reflecting. It’s time to make a change. As part of this change, I’m restarting the photoblog.

St Paul says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” My hope is the photoblog will become that place again in my life.

So why use a photoblog and not just use social media? I currently post a lot of photos on both my professional and personal Instagram accounts. But social media is designed for self-promotion and images stream quickly by in one’s feeds. 

A photoblog seems to be a more conducive platform to slow down and reflect. And while this might seem sappy and overly romanticized, I like to see my blog posts, both here and in the photoblog, as similar to messages in a bottle in the vast ocean of the internet. I don’t know if anyone will ever see my posts. But perhaps a serendipitous Google search may bring someone here at just the right time in their life’s journey. 

So I’m relaunch the photoblog. If you’re interested, you can find it at imagesfromthejourney.com. I’ve also created a link in the “My Photography” page of this blog.

Waxing Nostalgic – My Blog

The Offramp Splash PageAs my time at the Vineyard and professional ministry drew to an end in 2003, I began blogging. Originally, several of us who left the Vineyard and started a faith community started blogging through our new community’s website, “The Offramp.”

Some of those blogs remain, untouched for several years. I keep them on the righthand bar and visit them occasionally. They bring memories of good times with good friends. For example, here’s a post by Debbie from June 2008. It highlights a walk she had with Chris, who was eight at the time. Reading it again reminded me of simpler times with younger kids, being part of their lives as they discovered and interacted with the world around them.

I have enjoyed my blogging experience. Back in 2010, I wrote this about my blog:

“I began this blog in March 2003 as our family left professional ministry and embarked on a journey of theological exploration. This blog has recorded our joys and struggles as we explored a different form of Christian community. It has allowed me to deconstruct and reconstruct my theology and wrestle with my new identity outside of professional ministry. It has marked special events in our family’s life. And recently, it has recorded our family’s journey into the Holy Orthodox Church.”

That post in 2010 was my last post on this blog. Or so I thought.

After joining the Orthodox Church, I struggled with what I should post on this blog. Entering the Orthodox Church signaled the end of our faith community and our exit from the Emergent Church/Home Church conversation. I was also experiencing difficulty with some aspects of Orthodoxy, but didn’t feel it was appropriate to openly post those struggles. As an Ortho-newbie, I became aware that I had less and less to say.

I was also struggling with depression, unable to reconcile years of calling, training and experience with no longer being in ministry.

So I sensed the need to go silent, to immerse myself in Orthodoxy and to let God bring some much-needed healing.

So after much prayer and thought, I said goodbye to my blog in May 2010.

Two years passed and I began sensing the need to write again. So in April 2012, I revived this blog. I will admit that I haven’t posted consistently the past four years. Months would pass between posts. Life had changed and its ebbs and flows would drift me back to this blog and then pull me away again.

I know my decision in 2010 was the right one. But looking at that two-year gap brings pangs of regret. There were significant moments that I wish I had processed and recorded on this blog.

There were vacations, celebrations, holidays and daily life. My firstborn, Michael, graduated high school in 2010. This was one of the proudest moments of my life. And it symbolically transitioned our family into a new phase as our first child stepped across the threshold into adulthood. Dan died in December 2010. I miss his voice and laugh. Danielle entered high school. Michael was admitted to the emergency room with a collapsed lung, which scared the hell out of me. Maribeth moved from California, and our family still misses her dearly. Chris saved and bought himself a bike. Michael, Danielle and Chris generously collected their monies and bought Cathy a bike for Christmas. And at the end of 2011, our family bought our first house, packed over 20 years of our life and moved to Pomona.

The other night, our family had a fun dinner at a local restaurant. As we were leaving, our kids walked out to the car ahead of Debbie and me. As we strolled out behind them, she leaned over and said, “Everything’s changing.”

This is something I’ve been sensing for months and has only been heightened as my fiftieth birthday draws near. I’m sensing the need to prepare for the next phase of my life and for whatever it brings. As I pray and ponder, there seem to be a couple of important facets to this preparation. First is redeveloping my intimacy with God. I mentioned in an earlier post about this urge for intimacy that occurred earlier this year during Lent and has only grown.

The second is remembering my past. I have started reading through my old journals as well as rereading my old blog posts and those of my friends. I believe I’m compelled by more than nostalgia.

White KeysThe recent activity on this blog is the expression of those two facets. I’m making room to pray and reflect. The activity and noise from daily life easily obstructs the internal currents of the soul. Writing clears the debris and increases my sensitivity to my inner life. It’s not always a pretty picture. But it is a necessary task.

I genuinely don’t know how this blog will develop in the months or years to come. Thirteen years of my thoughts, my reflections, and my life have been recorded here in over 700 posts. In some ways it has become an important part of me. And if I’m right, it will play an important part of my future. We shall see.

Quotes on Prayer

Here are some great quotes on prayer that are worth reflecting upon that I extracted from Fr Stephen’s post on prayer:

Prayer is a matter of love. Man expresses love through prayer, and if we pray, it is an indication that we love God.

Only if prayer is living communion with God does it make sense to strive for unceasing prayer. The commandment to “pray always” is tantamount to saying: “Live!”

Indeed prayer is the sound (whether spoken or not) of God within us.

Milestones

Well, this is interesting. I’m quickly approaching three minor and one ginormous milestone.

First, after posting several iPhone Photos to my Flickr account this evening, I realized that I’m one image shy of 100 posted iPhone Photos. When I began the endeavor, I didn’t predict how fun it would be to take photos with my iPhone everyday. Not every photo is great. But learning to look constantly at life with different eyes is a wonderful exercise. You can view the entire set of iPhone Photos in my Flickr account HERE.

Second, I’m quickly approaching my 75th image on my photoblog, “Images from the Journey.” This has been a more serious endeavor of developing my skills at digital photography by trying to capture the beauty in the world around me along with some simple reflections about the image.

Third, this post is my 599th post on this blog. I know 600 is a random number, but it’s the nearest 100th and I thought it worth noting. I began this blog in March 2003. A lot has happened in the past six years. But as we say in the Orthodox Church, “It’s unto our salvation.” And quite frankly, I wouldn’t change a thing because I’m actually enjoying the person into which God is making me.

So what’s the major milestone? I think I’m going to save that one for the 600th post! See you then.

Lenten Reflection

Steve Robinson points to a great Lenten reflection worth reading. Take a few moments and enjoy it HERE. Here’s a little sample.

“This Lent I am going to attempt to walk through life like I walk through church in hard soled shoes, or in the kind of shoes that squeak on the polished wood floor. I am going to try to walk softly, deliberately, prayerfully aware of the noise I am making, prayerfully aware of how my actions resonate with and disturb others; I will be quietly ashamed and a little embarrassed.”

New Photoblog

images-from-the-journey

I love looking at good photography. Images can communicate in ways that words cannot. A few years ago I bought a Canon PowerShot A620 with the intention of developing basic skills in digital photography. I admit that I’m not great, but I’ve had a lot of fun taking pictures. Recently, I was gifted with a Nikon D40x. The move from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR is very exciting for me and has injected me with a lot of enthusiasm to take my basic skills to the next level.

So… in anticipation of the photos I’ll be taking, I’ve started a simple photoblog. I’ve already posted  a couple of images that I took over the last couple of years on my PowerShot. I’ll probably be posting several more of these older shots during this time that I learn to use my Nikon as well as learn to use Pixelmator and Capture NX2.