harnessing the power of photography for good

Nicole Adres

{Heal Haiti}

{Heal Haiti}

It’s the morning before I leave for Haiti and I finally feel like my to do list is complete, I’m packed and able to prepare for this adventure for the next 2 weeks.  I’m not sure it’s hit me that I am embarking on my first mission trip and to Haiti at that!  I think once we get settled on the plane it will become reality.  Here are specific prayer requests for the group:

June 5-8
Pray for traveling mercies and for students to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
{2 Chronicles 7:14}

June 9-11
Pray that God would meet practical needs of the Haitians through IMPACT students; pray for divine appointments.
{Mark 9:14-29}

June 12-14
Pray God would bring comfort to the Haitians through the class and use them to inspire the multitude.
{Deuteronomy 6:4-9}

June 15-18
Pray that God would add hundred of lives to the Kingdom of God in Haiti; pray for a safe journey home.
{Acts 2:36-39}

If you would like to follow the Haiti trip, here are a couple ways that you can:

  • To track with us and get up to date prayer requests on twitter:  text:  follow IMPACT195_Haiti to 40404
  • To see daily video/photo/story uploads go to: www.therockuniversity.org, click on Haiti button.

God has continued to bless me with so much support, love and encouragement, I’m blown away by His grace and love He has poured out on me through the Body.  Even though I feel like I didn’t prepare enough for this trip, there are SO many people praying for me, I’ve never appreciated the power of prayer more than now.  Going into the unknown, uncomfortable and unnatural will do that to you.

I am so appreciative, beyond words of the people who have supported me financially, prayerfully and lovingly!  I have received tangible gifts of love, cards, drawings, care packages and more than ever I have felt what it means to bear eachother’s burdens and be knit together in heart.  It brings Acts to mind…

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” {Acts 2:42-27}

{Reaping & Sowing}

{Reaping & Sowing}

It’s been a crazy, at times, never ending two weeks.  I leave for Haiti in a week and while I’m excited I know I haven’t spent as much time on my knees and in the Word as I should be.  It’s amazing how the good things in life can become the detriment of a love, intimate relationship with Jesus.  I realize in a very tangible way who was sustaining me over the past two months and it definitely wasn’t the calendar on my iPhone, it was my quiet time with the Lord.  In many of my IMPACT classes they talk about reaping what you sow, while this is a familiar concept to most of us, it hadn’t hit me until recently what a powerful truth that really is.  Some of the teachers have brought to my attention that what I am reaping today is often what I was sowing weeks and even months ago.

“A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, for that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
{Galatians 6:7b-8}

The time I was so close and intimate with the Lord was what I was sowing a couple months ago and now the word to describe my world is: overstimulating.  Between working 12-15 hour days and not taking intentional sabbath days away, it’s quickly catching up to me.  I can’t tell you how happy I am that I am finally getting away for some silence and solitude tomorrow!  All this to say, don’t become so busy and caught up in the doing that you miss out what counts.  As I sometimes say to myself and people around when it comes to material, temporary things, “You can’t take that with you to Heaven!”  Remember Jesus isn’t going to ask at the Bema Seat (judgment seat of Christ for Christians), “Where’s your Coach purse or your Maserati or your La Jolla Shores beachfront property?”  He’s going to ask if you did any of this in His name…

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” {Isaiah 61:1-3}

As I reflect on leaving for Haiti, this is my heart and I’m sharing it with you, not to judge or bring guilt, but to stir my heart and yours for a life and calling that is bigger than you!  Allow the Holy Spirit to bring healing to your heart and overflow to a hurting world around you.  Just because I am going somewhere tangible to exercise this, souls are no more lost in Haiti than in San Diego, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and many other places I know this blog is being followed.
The Lord has been breaking my heart with His love and I hope you will allow Him to do the same for you.  Please stay tuned for one more post before I leave for Haiti with prayer requests for the team.
I love you and more importantly Jesus loves you so much He died for you so that you could enter into His peace, rest and joy forever!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” {John 3:16-17}

{Heart Surgery then… Haiti!}

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” {Psalm 73:26}

The distractions after wilderness didn’t get much better these past couple of weeks, but what I have learned through this time is invaluable.  More and more I am realizing how comfortable and predictable my actions have been the last 25 years.  The struggles I have continued to go through were only because I wasn’t willing to completely surrender them to the Lord.  We are going through the Experiencing God study in IMPACT and at the back of the workbook there are two pages of names and characteristics for the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.  While doing the study early one morning I came across a Psalm I had never heard, Psalm 73:26 {see above}.

I was reminded how the longings of my flesh and the emotions of my heart will always fail me, but God will be my strength in those times.  It was such an awesome realization to know that this was truly the first time I was going to heed wise counsel, seek the Lord and listen to what and where He wants me to be, not the other way around.  My prayer was that the Lord would take away this obstacle from me, but just like in Daniel when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were about to be thrown into the furnace they responded,”…the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods…” {Daniel 3:17-18}.  Even if the Lord doesn’t take this away from me, He is still God and I will surrender and obey Him through this trial.

I spent the afternoon at Balboa taking some pictures and reflecting on what the Lord has been doing over the last 24 hours, but before I get to that, I want to take you back to about a year ago.

“I pray that you will continue to reveal awesome truths in Your name and time.  Lord, help me to live my life for You and use me to bring others to you without them even knowing what happened.  Lord, I want to be used by You in a mighty way to impact my world around me.” {June 7, 2009 @ 12:33am}

I share this with you to show you how specific God has been in answering my prayers totally unbeknown to me until the past couple months.  Not only am I in a 9-month discipleship program called IMPACT, but the Lord has in the last day called me to Haiti.  Just like IMPACT I was set on not going and already had my mind made up about the upcoming missions trip.

Money is always my “excuse” but even I can’t deny how unbelievably amazing God has provided for me in the past day.  Once I actually came around to the idea that God wanted me to go to Haiti within 2 hours I already had $950 plus what I have been saving and support checks coming in, so I have a total of $1337 out of $1500.  I write this not because of the amount, but to testify to what GOD has done totally apart from anything I have done, which is NOTHING but respond when He called.   I still need the $163 by Tuesday and eventually money to cover my time away from work and 2nd & 3rd quarter of IMPACT {support night details to come}, but little by little the Lord is growing my faith and it’s exciting to proclaim His goodness and power through it all!

If you feel called to support me, please email at n.adres@hotmail.com, but more importantly please pray for the following things:

  • Provision for the trip overall, for those students that are being called to go, but cannot afford to or do not have passports, etc.  Also, for the supplies and materials we are bringing over.
  • Spiritual warfare, Haiti is a country that practices voodoo.  Not only are we going in after the devastation from a few months ago, but there is going to be a battle for souls going on and we will be on the front lines.
  • Leadership of our group as we have less than a month before we leave for 2 weeks.
  • Preparation for those that we will be ministering to and the city of Jérémie where we will be.

This is my first opportunity to serve on a missions trip and I am getting more and more excited to be used in this way!  While talking to my mom earlier today even she is surprised that I am doing this, but the Lord is changing my life literally by the day.  I knew He was going to be rocking my world this year and not even being halfway through 2010 I am believing it more and more each day.  Prayers are my #1 need and I know it’s only because of prayer that I am who I am and where I am today, you are my beloved friends and family, THANK YOU!

“If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” {Psalm 37:23-24}

(take 2) low hung fruit….on the tree of creativity

the mythical tree of creativity, in my neighbors front yard.  i wish i would have known that sooner.   many moons ago, i had this sticker that said “mediocrity sucks.”  it was an ad campaign for the distributor of italian cycling gear, back in early 90’s, i dont remember now who it was.  i guess the ad campaign didnt work too well after all.  i do recall the idea was dont use inferior(mediocre) gear, use theirs.  “mediocrity sucks” has been something ive held on to ever since, with obvious implications to our life with God.   i do think that as followers of Christ, we (i) often settle for mediocrity, saying “its good enough.”

david du chemin says that in the life of a photographer, we often settle for good enough, the so-called low hung fruit on the tree of creativity. he is speaking specifically about shooting in exotic and picturesque locations.  in these locations, its hard to not take beautiful pictures. thats easy!  taking powerful, compelling images of the mundane or the “ugly” parts of jamaica, where toursits dont go…that takes hard work, sweat, and patience.

the GOOD is the enemy of the BEST!

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,   so that you may approve what is excellent

Philippians 1: 9-10

in the greek, paul is saying the “knowledge and all discernment” is an understanding of what is good vs what is excellent.  he assumes we know the right thing to do (choosing between right and wrong), God wants us to understand that the choices we make are often decisions between what is good and what is best.  God wants us to choose the BEST!  this is what paul is praying.  that we would see what is good and excellent, and that we would choose the excellent, the best.

a pastor friend of mine shared with me and a group of brothers who met with him weekly, a perfect example from his life of what paul is encouraging us to do.  he had just finished eating dinner with the family and was looking forward to spending some time with God reading the Word.  as he sat in his easy chair he began reading…his kids finished clearing the table, and his wife began washing the dishes from dinner.  at that moment, God told him to put the Word down, and go help your wife do the dishes.  he was speaking honestly with us that evening, and he struggled with this request for a bit.  his mindset was,  what better thing is there than chilling and reading God’s Word?  nothing!  but God said, right then and there, the best place for him was next to his wife, helping with the dishes….setting an example for his son and daughter, living out what he had been teaching them.  after finishing the dishes and thanking his wife again for the delicious meal she had cooked, he went back to the Word.

at that moment, a choice between helping his wife and reading the Word, one was clearly better than the other.  he chose the best.

photographers and christians often take the easy route, we grab the low hung fruit cause its convenient and within reach.  but like the tree with the fruit way up high, where its hard to reach and takes an extra amount of effort to get to.  the rewards are much bigger, the fruit is tastier and sweeter.

in preparation for the caymans, the task is to not duplicate the photography we did in jamaica.  but to look for what God has for us NOW!

as people who love Jesus, we stretch ourselves as photographers, reaching for the high hung fruit on the tree of creativity…because of this, we will inevitably fall at times.  but the rewards and blessings involved with stepping out in faith, to reach higher and further than we have dared to in the past is far greater than merely settling for just good enough.

i had the pleasure of spending some time today with kimberly, a senior at the rock academy, for their “shadow” work day.  she is interested in journalism and photography, so she got stuck with hanging out with me after not hearing back from national geographic and getty images.  i said a bunch of silly stuff, pretending to know something about photography, i think i fooled her.  but i did get to share something that i feel was worth sharing…at catalyst last week, andy stanley closed this years gathering with a quote from howard hendricks (a professor at dallas theological seminary).

if there is anything that has kept me on track all these (50+) years of ministry…its sticking to this principle:     many things will detract us from our goals, but the secret to concentration is elimination

i was reminded of this quote after reading nicoles blog from wilderness.  as we allow God to work in our lives, His process of sanctification (making us more like Jesus) isnt always easy or fun. but as we eliminate the mediocre, the distractions, and focus on the best… it will only make us stronger and more focused on the race thats before us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

{Shepherd of My Heart}

I got back from Wilderness on Catalina Island about a week ago and since that time it has been non-stop busy, it’s amazing how much we need and desire to do on a daily basis.  After being away from most of civilization: no phone, work and the same group of people for 5 days the second I got back to San Diego I felt as if I was bombarded with so many things!  Wilderness wasn’t a “mountain top” experience for me as I was being told it would be, but more of a time for the Lord to shake my cup and see the overflow of what is really in my heart.  While there were some good things that came out, I was struck how much muck is coming to the surface while I am in the Refiner’s fire these 9 months.
One word I would use for the trip overall was challenging; mostly physical than anything else.  We hiked 22 miles over the course of a week with a backpack filled mostly with camp food and in the heat as well as rain and wind.
At times I truly felt as if I was the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music at the end of the movie where they are walking through the beautiful Alps (I think it was the Alps!).  When I wasn’t mentally willing myself up each hill it was nice to take in the natural beauty of God’s creation, something totally God made and not man made!  During the hardest part of the first two hikes I was really struggling and my own strength just wasn’t enough.  It was at that time the Lord taught me a lesson as I was huffing and puffing up the mountain… My “weeds partner” from one of my first posts, Travis, grabbed my hand even though he was struggling as much as I was and literally willed me up the hills.  It struck me as I was giving him a hard time earlier about “toughening” him up that he was the very one supporting and encouraging me up those hills.  We each have strengths and weaknesses, but all are just as important in the church as well as to each other.

“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”

{Romans 12:4-5}

Once we finally made it to the top, Blackjack to be exact, I was relieved to know we would setup camp there for a couple days.  After emotionally and physically charged days of hiking everything came swelling up and I lost it, I just sat there in one of my friend’s arms crying and crying.  It wasn’t so much the broken kind of Jesus crying, but more of the selfish kind of crying!  I was wet, cold, utterly exhausted and so over being on an island.  It was then that the Lord began to show me how much I love to be comfortable, that I constantly seek comfortable situations, relationships and journeys.  As I sit here and write about this, even more is coming to mind.  My identity has been completely wrapped up in being comfortable…  Jesus didn’t come to bring us a comfortable life, He actually called us to an uncomfortable life.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

{John 16:33}

Our last full day on Catalina we had solo time with the Lord, we were woken up before dawn in complete silence and dropped off one by one just as the sun was breaking through.  It was such a sign from the Lord as all we had seen and experienced in the past few days had been wind, cold and rain.  After getting setup in my “tree fort,” where I would be for the next 10 hours, I immediately fell asleep (I was happy to know I wasn’t the only one later that day!).  Honestly, I slept for about 8 of the 10 hours, but in those times that I would wake up the Lord was faithful to meet me.  Here are some of my insights from that time:

  • Lord, be the Shepherd of my heart (Psalm 23)
  • My prayer going into Wilderness was asking the Lord to break down my walls and heal the hurts in my heart.  This had been my prayer for awhile, but I finally came to a point where I was ok with whatever that looked like to the Lord and not to me.  I knew the Lord didn’t need my permission to do anything, but knowing that I was finally ready to be broken was freedom.
  • Right after that revelation a chirping bird flew into the trees of my solo spot and after a few moments flew off, this represented true freedom and flying free and this verse came to mind, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?” {Matthew 6:26}
  • Ready not to live in the pain of my past or the fear of my future, but in the patient present… willing to be used!

Friday, the last day of Wilderness, was probably the best day of the whole week… showers, civilization, food, my phone and my queen sized, down comforter bed!  And the best part was that there were no uphills in our hike that day, just allllll the way down the mountain.  I was finally able to enjoy conversation with people and take in the beauty around me.  Just as we began our journey with sun, we ended it the same way.  Hiking into Avalon, the resort side of Catalina Island, was crazy!  Other than being so anxious to take a shower it was weird hearing cell phones, seeing cars and people dressed up from their vacation weekend.  I thought I was ready for the world again, but this past week has really proved that to be different.

It became very clear to me how many distractions I have on a daily basis and it isn’t so much with work and IMPACT, my commitments, but more what I do when I get home after a long day.  My life is filled with many mindless distractions and the one thing that comes to mind is: Facebook!  There is absolutely nothing wrong with Facebook and I’ve actually started treating it as an evangelism tool, but I was spending precious time online rather than with my Savior.  All things will pass away, but my relationship with Jesus won’t.  Having an eternal perspective seems easier being out of the world for a week and then being swung right back into it in a matter of hours!  So, I decided to go on a Facebook and distractions fast.  People have asked how long my Facebook fast is and I’m really not sure.  There isn’t a set time period for anything, just until I know my cup is overflowing completely with Jesus and not with Facebook, mindless distractions and the like.

So after that mini novel, thank YOU for all your prayers, encouraging words and verses, support and most of all LOVING me!  I wouldn’t be on the journey I am with Jesus and my IMPACT family if it wasn’t for each of you.  Our theme for Wilderness was loving relationships, so I’ll leave you with this…

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

{1 John 3:1}


It’s the night before I leave for wilderness and I have 13 minutes before I would like to get to bed!  My alarm will be sing songing away at 4am and we have to be at our meeting point by 6am.  Wilderness is code for: 5 days, Catalina Island, backpacking, hiking, camping and contraband (no razors, makeup, deodorant, phones, clocks, nuthin’!)  Needless to say and most of you know first hand, that I’m not exactly the poster child for “Man vs. Wild” although Bear has quite the accent…

We went around during wilderness prep yesterday and said our name and one word to describe how we are feeling about going on this trip and mine was apprehensive.  I’ve a ton of prayers over the past day and feeling a little better, but truthfully I’m still a bit scared of what this next week will bring.  There have been so many people that I know that have done this trip before and while most of them are jealous that I get to go I just think they are plain crazy!

At the root of it, I’m scared of the physical part, but really I know how much God is going to use this to bring deep healing to scars that have been there for so long.  I don’t think it’s something you are ever really ready for, so I’ll be as ready as I possibly can be.  If you are reading this post, please pray for the following things:

  • Physical health and protection for our group.  We have a few aliments going into this week, so that the Lord would pour out His supernatural strength on us all.
  • Spiritual breakthrough and healing.
  • Unity for my wilderness group, that we would truly become family and learn what the true meaning of love is through our 1 John teaching throughout this week.

I’m sure there is so much more that I could write about, especially about the Rock staff retreat that I just got back from and the awesome things the Lord has already taught me and worked on my heart with, but that will have to be written about when I get back.

Love you all and will update when I get back in a week, Lord willing as a changed woman!

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” {Jeremiah 33:3}

hot lights are great for keeping food warm

last monday we took a break from shooting military families and opened up our time for shooters to come and practice shooting under the lights in a “studio” setting.  the lights are constant, borrowed from production.  not the most ideal for photography, but they were free.  plus, part of the fun of photography is learning to shoot in conditions less than ideal, because much of the time, we have no choice.  kind of like what God said to Job,

Job 38:19  Where does light come from, and where does darkness go?

as photographers it would be great to be able to control the sun and moon, to get the most ideal light for each shoot, but we cant.  thats what monday was all about.  having fun while shooting…pluse it was nice to have some folks come and let us take pics of them.

id like to thank hayden for blessing us with his skills and not charging us his normal rate to pose for us.   the lamb sisters for being so much fun to shoot, and victoria and nicole, for blessings us as well.

most of the pics i took were using an old projector hooked up to my computer.  we projected different pics of textures on a screen.  what i didnt see was the images we used had a fine grid texture to it, and wasnt noticeable in camera…oh well, made the pics look more moody and dramatic.

lisa took this last photo below of hayden

hayden relaxing, his work was done

Impact Blogger Nicole Adres

IMPACT 195 is an incredible, nine-month discipleship experience…

IMPACT 195 will help you go deeper with God, become rock solid in your faith, start living with God-given purpose, and get empowered to do something that will impact the world for eternity!

nicole just started impact 195 and has graciously accepted our invitation to share what God is teaching her through  impact 195 with us all… you can learn more about nicole by going to her BLOG

{Weeds} by Nicole Adres

Today (3.31.2010)we had our first “work out faith Wednesday.”  Pretty much a nice way of saying, “IMPACT, you are pulling weeds!”  Before we could get too excited we were reminded about what it really means to serve those around us, that Jesus was the true image of what a servant is and ultimately what we should strive to become.

“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” {Matthew 20:26-28}

As we dispersed into groups some of us headed out to Liberty Station park, which used to be the Naval Training Center (NTC) in Point Loma (a beautiful area on a peninsula of San Diego).  We met the city parks workers, were debriefed, showed where the “comfort stations” aka restrooms were, passed out tools and were on our way.  I was especially excited about my florescent yellow jacket and tool… half hoe, half claw =)

nicole, armed and dangerous…

We began chatting and working away, busy as bees and then spiritual truths started flying around!  Things like, not being able to tell the good plants from the weeds, having help from someone else pointing out which were really the good plants and which were disguising themselves as good plants.  One of my Rock co-workers, Gary, started noticing that the weed roots grow towards the healthy plants and flowers.  It was striking to think that as the weeds grow towards the good, it can be the same with our walk with the Lord, only it’s not plants… it’s sin.

It really hit my heart how easy it is to think that I am the “good plant,” but really, how deep are my roots when it comes to the hidden things and sins in my heart?  As I began to ponder this more and more, I realized that our artificial Christianity can sometimes be disguised as real and we can get so good at playing the game that we look so much like a flower, yet our root is a weed.  Just as I needed my “weed partner” to help point out the weeds I overlooked, so we as Christians need a community to hold us accountable to stay on the right path, God’s path.  What better way for the devil to steal our intimate relationship with God if we are tricked into thinking we are the image of that flower, but only have roots as deep as a weed.

Don’t allow the weeds to overtake your life… as beautiful as a garden is, when one weed sprouts up it infests the beauty and purity that was once there.  It takes much more effort to weed out the bad.  As I was hacking away at a weed, growing very close to beautiful flowers, in the process I cut off one of the flowers to get at the root of the weed.  Don’t let your good spiritual fruit be lost when the gardener of life needs to uproot your weeds!

to see more pics of nicole and her impact 195 class-mates in action, please go HERE