I could not have scripted the past 18 months. There is no way.
When you become so desperate to do Kingdom work, and then that work doesn’t seem to be your calling. You get a little flustered. And flustered is exactly where I was at Designed For Life in 2012. But God is a good Father, and He took my chin in His hands the very first night of the conference and helped me see a glimpse of where He was about to take me.
But I didn’t see THIS place until April 9th, 2013.
“God, I want a little white church…”
“How awesome would it be if these girls could meet me at a little white church turned photo studio! It would be so perfect!”
I must have prayed that prayer a thousand times after launching this blog in January 2013.
“God, I could build a little building in the back-yard that LOOKS like a church! Would that work?” No, wait.
“God, is there a church around here for sale?” No, wait.
“God, should we move into a different house that has an out building? Or room for an outbuilding? What if..” No, wait.
And like a parent who has a beautiful over-the-top-something-better hiding in the closet of your future, He kept telling me to wait.
“Just wait on Me.”
April 9th arrived. It was our very first family session of the year. I had put this family off for months. I had one lens to work with, a portrait lens. It was the only one we kept after selling off everything else we had and it wasn’t ideal for capturing a family of 6, but we had to make it work. I knew where we would shoot the session. It was a quiet little spot off the Greenway trail on the southwest side of town. But the day of the shoot I decided to drive out and check conditions. My kids piled in the van and we drove a few miles south and turned down a road I hadn’t driven down recently. God was setting me up. As I topped a hill I saw this little building sitting on the next hill ahead of me, I must have driven by it a hundred times before but that day was different. I slowed down and stopped in front of it. I think my jaw dropped open as I stared at the letters … a few were missing.
CH RC OF OD
The “F” was hanging upside down.
“There you go. I’m going to give you this place.”
Only a faint outline of “U” and “H” in “CHURCH” and “G” in “GOD” remained…
As I stared at the broken down, abandoned, crumbling, lonely old building God spoke to my spirit, “This is your client. This is My Bride in her own mind. She doesn’t see herself like I do. The foundation of her faith is crumbling. She questions whether she is really truly saved, see the roof, see the holes? And she doesn’t believe she has any purpose. She thinks she is too small to make a difference anymore and so she has abandoned her simple calling to share the story. She is no longer sharing the Gospel and talking about my Son. And where there is no life present the enemy throws rocks, he kicks in doors, he vandalizes and thus the windows and doors are boarded up and there is no light here…. and no purpose. I am going to give you this place for a studio and you are going to do for this place, what I’ve done for YOU and the girls you are working with. You will redeem it, reclaim it, and restore it. I will help you.”
I remember whispering “I see You, Lord. And I believe You.”
My son sat next to me and watched me. I was crying a little because I knew something crazy had just begun. I also knew I wouldn’t be photographing brides in my garage forever. But this? This wasn’t what I had imagined, yet as I sat there and looked at it I wondered why and how it ended up abandoned and falling apart. I knew there had to be a story. And because I knew there was a story to tell, I knew it was perfect.
The Church has a story. And it matters. It must be told.
My kids knew what I had been praying for, and as we sat in the road in front of that 100 year old building A.J. realized what had just happened, “Is that the church we are going to get for a studio?”
“Yes, yes it is.”
And that is where we began this adventure on April 9th, of 2013… and we will pick up from there next time.