To the Creatives

as we create- we take the stage- pick up the paint brush- write the story- sing the song- design the graphics -capture the photo -write the poetry- we do so with a gentle reminder that if our aim is to share our craft, then our job is to not only create, but to continually earn the privilege to paint the strokes and write the melodies of another human being's story.

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I sat through church, a weepy mess this morning, as Jeremy Cowart, and his wife Shannon, talked about their desire to use photography to change someone's life and restore their dignity and God-given belovedness. What started off as a quiet nudging in Jeremy's heart, turned into a one time event to give people in need a make-over and a proper portrait of themselves. The one-time event was so transformative, that another event was held. And then another. Five years later, the dream of one man's heart has turned into an international movement. Through the generous artistic expertise of photographers, hair stylists and make-up artists, Help Portrait has taken 282,295 portraits since 2009. Many of the people have never seen a picture of themselves before.

Many of the people have not felt beautiful, valued, or even known.

And a picture of who they really are?  It changes everything.


Watch the video for this year's event, happening in cities all over the world on December 7th. You can donate clothes, make-up, or your time as a photographer, hair-stylist or make-up artist. Or you can do what I will be doing here in Nashville. Shake hands, give hugs, listen to stories and remind people of who they really are: a person of infinite value, dignity and worth.

When Little Girls Hold Hands

IMG_4042Do you remember? Reaching out to grab her hand. Not being afraid of what anyone else thought. Not even being aware that anyone else existed. Just you and her. On an adventure. Planning an escape. Sneaking upstairs to eat chocolate and swap secrets. We held hands out of instinct. We looked both ways and crossed the street together. We held hands for comfort. We held hands out of love. We held sticky, played with, cried on hands with no shame or fear or insecurity. We were little girls. And we still knew how to love each other without hesitation. We reached out and grabbed the others hand because there was so much we wanted to share. The excitement. The not-knowing. The joy. The smiles. We knew these things were good, but they were better shared.

DSCF0206We weren't self-conscious yet. Wondering if we might look silly. Weak. Weird. Dependent. Wondering if the other hand was better than ours? Worse than ours? Prettier. Skinnier. Smarter. Or from a bigger house. We didn't know how to compare, measure, sum up or judge. We didn't even know to think of the other hands around us. Were we being exclusive? Should we try and make the rounds? Holding every little girl's hands? We did not yet operate out of guilt or obligation or even political correctness. We didn't see skin color or political parties or labels. We only knew the nudging of our hearts.

It felt best to reach out and grab her hand. Because life was way too good to walk alone.

IMG_4525And sometimes we broke free of each others hands for a moment. Because side by side, we felt brave.

Perhaps it was all those sticky finger embraces that gave us so much courage to break free and lead the way for a minute. Knowing she was by our side. Not yet condemning, bossy, mean or passive aggressive. Just our friend. Our cheerleader. Our confidant. Our person. The one we were unafraid to hold hands with on the play ground. We gave each other courage. Not psychotherapy or prayers. We didn't know how to do those yet. All we knew was our hands. We knew how to be present.  How to reach out to the other person in the most basic way.

Here's my hand. Take it. Wrap your fingers around mine. We will do this together.

IMG_4024We would scoot our chairs close. No sense of personal space. We, who shared beds and bathrooms and bathing suits and boys. We gave each other the best gifts we had. Ourselves. Long before we knew how to be guarded, we knew how to be girlfriends. We giggled, cried, dreamed impossible dreams, and then grabbed each others sticky fingers and ran off to explore.

And I watch her now. My little girl who holds the hands of others as if they were precious treasures. And I wonder-

When did I forget how to hold another girl's hand? And how do I get back there?

Back to the place where I just reach out and grab and hold- and give myself to another girl without fear or shame or expectations or guilt. Back to the place where joy ran free and I was compelled to share wonder and delight and mystery with the closest girl in sight. Back to that moment, when little girls hold hands, and the whole world is made simple and beautiful by the innocent touch of the unafraid. That's where I am trying to get back to. Life is good. But it's better shared.

The Table

That table changed my entire life. Because I learned what it looks like to live in the tension and beauty of authentic relationship. Always reminded that Jesus set the example by choosing to inhabit the earth alongside disciples. Companions. Partners in ministry. And he didn't have to. He really didn't. He was smart enough and God enough to do it all on his own. Or- to just meet up with the disciples in a very sanitized, clean setting on Sunday mornings. But he didn't do that either. They traveled together. Slept together. Worshiped together. Healed together. Shared meals and mules (?) together. Jesus showed us a picture of community that went against societal norms because it was needy, dependent, intertwined, messy, and not all Sunday-Morning-glossy. It was real and deep and wide and it mattered. Day in and day out, mattered. Kingdom wise- for Jesus' glory- His local gathering of disciples mattered. They changed the course of history.

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