I've always had a love for b&w portraits.
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!"
- Ted Grant
Its been over a year since I left the world of band directing to pursue storytelling.
Over the course of this year or so, I’ve seen and done things that I never could have imagined. Storytelling has taken me a lot of different places this year, but I've also intentionally made time to travel.
For me, this is more than I’ve ever traveled in a year.
With all of this travel I’ve learned that I love to leave. Donald Miller said this:
“Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons.”
I love my new rhythm of leaving and coming back. Here is some of my year of travels below:
Its been a good year.
“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
- Donald Miller
I was invited to come alongside my good friend Payton Ruddock (check out his work, its ridiculously good) and photograph a Lululemon retreat in Marfa, TX. Payton did an amazing job on his blog walking through our day-to-day experience there and leaving his impressions. So instead of doing the same thing, I'd rather write about what I found in Marfa and what I left with.
Two things have been on my mind since I left Marfa.
In West TX, there is plenty of space. Driving through the nothing is entrancing. To be able to see miles ahead of you and miles behind you is the ultimate testament to space. In the morning, you could see each moment of the sun sneaking over the horizon and setting each evening. Miles away, you could watch big clouds march across the sky as daily storms came through. Maria was the perfect setting for space mentally. The pace of life in Marfa is slow, and each day seemed to ebb and flow in a relaxing and natural way.
In Marfa, I truly found space. Physical & Mental space. Both of which I consider Spiritual & Holy.
We all stayed at a property called Corte Del Norte. It was every bit quirky and eclectic as the town itself. From big tables to a large open lawn, I knew this place would soon become a place of community. That community arrived in a big van soon after Payton and I arrived.
Over the course of those next few days, we all began to grow into deeper connection with one another. I kept feeling promptings to go deeper in my conversations and in those conversations we began circling around Truth. What do we believe is true about ourselves? What is actually true?
This season of my life has been marked by these questions to the Lord.
What do I believe about God that isn’t true?
What do I believe about myself that isn’t true?
and the converse:
What is true about God?
What is true about myself?
Knowingly and sometimes without knowing, I engaged in conversation that lived in these questions. Tell the truth.
Telling the truth is hard.
But one moment that has stayed with me. Payton and I were watching the group about to start a meeting to discuss each individual’s personal 5-10 year goals. They participated in what they called “clearing”. Before the meeting started, they were given the opportunity to say whatever was keeping them from being fully present in the meeting. A worry, an emotion, a memory, etc. A few people spoke and some responses were: “I don’t feel great this morning”, and “I’m starting to think about things I have to get done at home”, but then someone said
“I’m worried about this meeting because I don’t think my goals are very good”.
After that was spoken, you could feel the energy of the table open up. What was spoken was what was being felt all around that table. The truth can be hard to say but the truth sets us and those around us free.
Never before have I been around people who live life so open-handedly. What unified us wasn’t a similar faith, but a common belief that connection with one another was worth more than proving we are right.
I arrived tired and restless but left experiencing space and truth. The trip to Marfa was just another example of the Lord journeying with me as I keep asking those questions. I didn't come back with complete answers, but I learned a little bit more about what is true about Him and what is true about myself.
To those who I got the opportunity to sit down and talk to on the trip; thank you. The gift of your conversation and listening to each other’s stories will not soon leave me.
May you know that you are loved and are never alone.
Roman grew up in Uzbekistan to a Christian family in ministry. At the age of 10, he had to leave his home within 48 hours. They fled to Moscow and were told they had to leave. His parents felt that Houston was the place to be so they could start to minister to Russian speaking people.
As a young child, he loved Jesus. When he moved to US, he became complacent, bored of God and bored of life. His life was ordinary and showed no difference between being in the kingdom or not
“I was bored with religion. I no longer wanted to be just a churchgoer who sits on the bench"
About 3 or 4 years ago, he prayed this prayer,
"I want to have "my" stories of how you work in my life and how you use me instead of leading an ordinary life."
God called Roman and his brother to serve among refugees in Houston. The Lord led them to a very specific square in Houston to start a soccer club. Without equipment, a field, money and resources,
“We thought that we were too young to start out own ministry, but we knew God had called us to this”
“Let’s just start and trust God"
God began to open doors and they found a church that let them use their fields and they had equipment donated.
Their goal was to start a club for 20 kids, but on the first day 50 kids came. They were overwhelmed but prayed for more people to help. Soon more volunteers started coming into the mix. The second practice had 80 kids, and the third had 120. Now they have a thriving soccer ministry among refugees in Houston.
“God, use me however You want use me."
He started asking God "What kind of miracle are you going to do today?"
Some shots I ran across from my time on the island.
Sunsets & my Wife.