Saturday, September 28, 2013

Recipe of the Week

When The Sojourn came out on Thursday, I proudly handed out a copy to all of my friends who work in Baldwin, so they could see my pictures of Baldwin's food. Due to this, one of the managers gave me a sensational idea: a girl at the school where she used to work would take the available food and come up with a new recipe every week!

Challenge accepted.

Of course, I am by no means an expert cook, especially since my experience falls mostly on the baking side of the spectrum, but I will try to come up with new fun (and hopefully yummy) mixtures of food in Baldwin; some desserts and some not desserts. Probably mostly desserts. And probably some of what I come up with has been done before, but the difference is that I am going to take pictures and publish it! Woohoo! Aren't you excited??

At the very least, it is something fun to do in the midst of classes and papers and tests. we go!

 This first concoction was a collaboration between my roomie and me. Grilled pita bread with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and cookie crumbs inside and honey drizzled on top. It tastes kind of like a s'more Poptart, but better because well, it didn't come in a box.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Where's the Beef?

Where's the beef? Or really I just want to know, where's the food? Because the title of the blog is food, faith and photography, sooo where is it? Well here's the thing. I LOVE food. Perhaps a bit too much. But I love the fact that I can bake things and then photograph them and therefore use my different skills for one purpose (and also to give myself an excuse to bake). However, I do not bake much while I'm at college because, well, I don't have my mommy to buy me baking supplies.

However...(get excited)...I did do an assignment for The Sojourn where the writer and I went into the dining hall (my former place of work!) and tried a bunch of different combinations of foods. The idea was to come up with ways that students could keep their palates interested and not get bored with the same foods all day, every day.

We discovered some pretty exciting combinations-especially with cereal. We learned how to make rice crispy treats at the self cook station with some marshmallows from the ice cream bar and rice crispies.

Another favorite with cereal is to mix cornflakes and honey and cover some vanilla ice cream with the concoction. The idea is to make something like fried ice cream, but what the heck, just take any kind of cereal (I used Lucky Charms) and any kind of ice cream (although vanilla or chocolate would probably work best) and mix it all up! When we did this for the paper, the writer still had his mind set on rice crispy treats, so he grabbed rice crispies, but when he tried it, his face lit up and he got so excited with how good it was! So if you are bored or looking for something fun to eat, grab some cereal, ice cream and honey and mix it up!

If you're around IWU, you should grab a Sojourn and find more recipes, or find it online:

Here are some of my other favorite photos, just in case you're hungry:

Rootbeer Float
Peanutbutter and Jelly Pita Bread

Turkey Wrap

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Just for Fun

As a photographer for The Sojourn (IWU student newspaper), I shoot a lot of photos that never get published. And since the other weekend was Res Life week, I have a lot of fun photos of the boat race and the pudding tug of war. For the world who wouldn't otherwise see them (or probably care), here are a few highlights from that weekend.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Masks & Lights

Since my senior show is coming up at the end of the year, I am always on the lookout for project ideas. It can't just be any project; this is my senior show. It has to be something worth while. I want to create something that will touch people and communicate what I am learning. I want to be able to move people with my photographs, to show them something that will take their breath away and make them stop and think. I suppose that is a lot to expect, but if you don't expect a lot, you certainly won't get much.

I still have several months before I have to start really working on this, but as I read my Bible this morning, I was inspired by the talk of light. John 3:21 says "Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he done has been done through God." Ephesians 5:13-14 says "Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible." Paul charges us to "live as children of light."

My mind is going all over the place with images I can create for the theme of light. Photography literally is the graphing of light. I am not going to take the time to explain all of my crazy ideas (which will probably all get thrown out and turned into something new), but I had a thought about light and water, because I love the way light plays off of water. So I took some images I have from my masquerade kick and overlaid a texture of light and water. I think they look pretty cool and maybe a little bit creepy, so I thought I'd share them. Because everyone likes to see things that are cool and creepy.

God as my Guide

Time for an update on this journey as a follower of God! Being a senior in college, I thought I knew what was going to happen this year. I was going to work as a supervisor in the dining hall, take a class just for fun with my roommate, and live just as comfortably as I did last year. But God had other plans, so here I am at the start of my senior year, with no idea what is going to happen next.

After spending the summer with GO Ministries in the Dominican Republic, I decided to learn Spanish. When I decided this, I was not positive that I would try to go back next summer, but it's something I felt God wanted and it is after all a good idea to know another language. So I dropped the class my roommate and I were taking together this year and signed up for Spanish instead. I also had not planned on buying any books this year...that plan changed with the uber expensive package of Spanish books and materials I had to buy, but these are sacrifices one must make.

Dropping an elective to take Spanish (which does meet the intercultural requirement I hadn't taken yet) was not really that big of a deal. But quitting my job was.

It's not like I didn't have another job; in fact, I had a job that God kind of threw at me to replace my old one. Over the summer I received an email from the art center at school asking me to be an assistant in the photo lab. I had forgotten that I had even applied for that job over a year ago! I certainly had not been looking for another job, and I was about to decline it when my sister (God bless her) asked me if I had prayed about it. And since it really did not matter to me either way if I took the job or not, I saw no harm in praying about it. And it turned out God wanted me to take this job.

I thought I could work all three (my job in the dining hall and the photo lab and as a photographer for the school paper), but as I started my new journey with God, I started to think he wanted me to quit the dining hall. 'What do you mean, quit my job?!' I thought. If anything, I would quit the photo lab, because I did not really know what to do there, whereas at the dining hall, I'd been there for over two years and knew all the people and what to do. I got the most hours and the most pay there, and there was always potential for more hours. And as a college student planning on spending the summer on an unpaid internship that costs thousands of dollars to go to, more money is always a plus. But here's the thing, which is probably obvious to everyone but me: God did not call me to Indiana Wesleyan to work in the dining hall. He called me here to learn photography. And to build relationships with the people I meet here, and since I tend to avoid relationships by working all the time, quitting was probably the best option. I don't want to work my life away my last year of college; I have next year, and all the years after that to do so. Let me take advantage of the relationships I have while I still have the opportunity to build them.

So quitting a job in the dining hall and taking one in the photo lab may seem like an obvious choice, but for me, the unknown of a new job and life without the old one was an epic decision. It meant less money, more time in which I must face people, learning a new job, and telling my supervisors that I had to resign. But after I did, the release of pressure off of my shoulders was so great! I felt that I could breathe again. So I don't know what this year will look like, but I am heading down a new path with God as my guide, and hopefully some exciting stuff will take place!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Finding God in the Stained Glass Masquerade

 Having grown up in church, God and Jesus have always been present to me and always been a pair I believed in without question. I never needed to question it because it had always been so. Until I reached college and had all these different ideas thrown at me, from Christians and non-Christians alike. I no longer knew what to believe except that God existed. This was a fact that could not be questioned, and through those first three years of uncertainty, God’s existence is what I clung to.
The summer before my senior year of college I finally got to experience traveling abroad. I was so excited to get my first stamp in my passport! The reason for this travel was that I was going for four weeks to be a media intern for a mission’s organization in the Dominican Republic. I remember admitting to one of my art professors before I left that I did not feel as close to God as I thought I should, and he answered that I’d better figure that out before I went down to serve! I knew he was right, but still it was hard because I felt that I was forcing something on myself that I did not want. It’s not that I had an annoying friend who went to church and always begged me to come and told me about God and tried to convince me; I was that friend to myself. I was like Smeagol and Gollum, one having all the answers and knowledge and trying to tell the other this is how it should go, and the other not wanting to listen or believe. I didn’t want to hear about God; I knew about God, and I knew how it was supposed to go but still it did not go that way and I began to believe that religion was something we all made up to make us feel better. Even as I write this I am surprised to recognize some of these thoughts because I never thought I would be the person having them. But I did, I did think that Christianity was made up and that even though God was real, I would never feel him in my life because real live faith just didn’t exist. I consoled myself by saying I just was not a good enough Christian and if at some point in my life I did get serious about God, then maybe these powerful transformations I heard about would really happen. If such things really did happen and were not all the masks we put on to show we have it all together.

I was obsessed with this idea of the mask.  I imagined everyone in my church was wearing a mask, trying to pretend that because we knew God, our lives were not struggles for us and we never struggled with sin. But I knew the truth. I knew they were all pretending and I began to hate them for it. And I hated that I could not be honest with them because I had changed from the happy little girl who loved Jesus they had watched grow up into someone who struggled with hatred and eating disorders. I could not admit this to my perfect congregation and I had to put on a mask to hide my struggles. This made life more miserable and Christianity more fake.

But like I said, I went for a month to the Dominican. I was expecting that showing up there would automatically solve all of my problems, God would become so real and awesome to me like when Paul saw him on the road to Damascus that I would have to fall on my face and surrender everything to him. And then I would be back on track and fall in love with God again and have faith in what I believed in, easy peezy lemon squeezy. But that’s not how it happened.

My first week in the Dominican, nothing happened. Like, nothing. I couldn’t even see how God was involved at all in the work we were doing, because we were just doing the same things that any secular humanitarian organization would do. But then I thought of something. The difference between a mission’s and a humanitarian organization is not in what they do but in whom they do it for. I actually just thought of that right now, what my first thought was back then was that, maybe I should read my Bible. I brought my Bible, of course, because that’s just what you do when you go on a mission’s trip, but I had not once even thought to open it the first week while I was there. And I guess if you want to have a relationship with someone, like, say God, you’re going to have to spend some time with him.

So I opened my Bible and began to read. And what I learned did not come from what I was reading, but just occurred to me while I was reading: that if I want a deeper relationship with God, I’m going to have to work for it. He’s not just going to blow my mind away and force me to follow him. Where is the free will in that, after all? No, he wants me to come quietly and consistently to him. The main word that played over and over again in my head that month was “intentional.” I am going to have to be intentional about this relationship. I am going to have to intentionally take time to talk with God and read my Bible whether I feel like it or not. I can’t just wait for the divinely inspired moments to take out my Bible, turn to a page and magically receive the strength to keep on living for the next few weeks. Everyday I must intentionally make time to read my Bible, even for just a few minutes and talk to God.
So for the next week, I did. And I kept waiting for my “Damascus” moment. I thought that God was going to show up and rock my world because I was being obedient and consistent in reading my Bible. And it didn’t happen. Not to me. One of the girls who came down that week found the real God and became a Christian, and yeah I was a little jealous of the spiritual high she was experiencing. But I just kept reading my Bible. And then one afternoon I was alone in the dorm and had some extra quiet time with God. And I drew a little bit closer to God that afternoon and learned some things that I would have missed had I not been quiet and still before him. Like when God shows himself to Elijah, he first sends the storm and the earthquake and the fire, but God is not in the fire. He comes after in the still small whisper. Sometimes you just need to fall on your face before God and let him be who he is.

I began learning things that week that would be obvious to any Christian. I learned that only God could fulfill the desires of your heart. Duh. But this is like a truth that I have always known but never internalized. Like a parrot repeating memorized phrases but never knowing what they meant. The best way for me to explain this is to relate a story of when I was learning Spanish for the first time. I remember how excited I got the day I realized that a memorized phrase, “y tu?” was a combination of the words for “and” and “you” and that is why it meant “and you?” It no longer had meaning because somebody told me it did, which was all true and I knew without a doubt that “y tu” meant “and you,” but now I knew why and it was something I learned for myself and could internalize and I still remember now after I have forgotten most of my memorized Spanish phrases.

One of the themes this summer was about telling your story of what God had done in our lives. I told my story of how I grew up in church, went every Sunday morning, night, Wednesday night and everything in between. It felt like a great build up to a climatic moment in the story, but then I just ended there. Because I did not know what came after that...but now I have a new chapter to my story! Ask me now how I know about God and I will tell you!

But you see, the story doesn't end there (unfortunately for the reader, as this is an excessively long post). 

Because what God started actually in an airport with a man from one of the teams on the way down to the Dominican did not end with a hug from mom and dad on the way home. Growth does not end when you return home. I was given a book to read while I was in the Dominican, which I did not actually read then. But I am reading it now, and I think the timing is just right. It is called Not A Fan by a pastor named Kyle Idleman. But I am getting ahead of myself.

When I came back to school, I went to the little church I had just started going to at the end of last semester. I believe this was my fourth time there. When I saw the topic for Sunday School, I groaned because it was something I knew and I wanted to learn something new (not knew!). The topic was “how do we know that Jesus is God?” I already know Jesus is God. But something strange happened to me in Sunday School that day. You know that “Damascus” moment I was waiting for all summer? This is the day it happens. And it’s still not that bright light shining, blowing my mind away, but this is God doing something big in my life and finally opening my eyes to see. You know what, maybe my “Damascus” moment happened years ago when I was a young happy Christian, and this was just the scales falling off of my eyes. It was strange; we were just going through the Scriptures where Jesus claims to be “I AM,” and suddenly it made sense. This was another one of those “y tu” moments. Where I had known this all my life but I felt like I was hearing it for the first time, and I thought, “Yeah, that does make sense! That is a logical argument why we should believe that Jesus is God.” And I thought that if I wasn’t already a Christian who already believed all of this, I could nod my head to that argument and maybe think about believing. Which is exactly what I did.

It was later that evening, in the setting sun, sitting on the fountain with my book, Not A Fan, that I finally realized why I believe what I believe. Why I am a Christian. Certainly any modern day Pharisee would pick up a book like that and imagine coming out of it as a follower rather than a fan. So after that night’s reading I decided it was time for this Pharisee to say she was not a fan. But this is not just “Pharisee Julia” talking. This is the Julia who has been slowly learning more about the God she has always claimed to know, and has been (slowly) building a relationship with. Reading it that night, I felt like there was a whole God out there I knew nothing about. And to a Pharisee, that is terrifying. Reading some of the Scriptures Kyle was pulling out as to what a follower looked like, it was overwhelming. With all my church schooling, I honestly had no idea what a follower’s life would look like. How in the world do I give up the world when I happen to live in the world, for God? How do I give up my home? Does that mean I must sell everything, stand on the street corner in sackcloth and proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God? Seriously, I didn’t know. So I thought I could ask God. So the prayer begins, Jesus, help me to know how to follow you. And then the question: why? Why? Why? I didn’t know I had to have a reason! Because I’m a Christian and that’s what we do. Why? Because people think I’m a Christian so eventually I’m going to have to start acting like one. And then I gave up the masquerade.
Coming from an empty slate, why do you want to be a follower of Jesus? And I went back to what I had always believed: that God exists, and that God is sovereign. No matter what, God is God and that alone makes him worthy of praise. That needs no why, that is. That is my starting point for the logical argument, and the reasoning on side B is because it is a truth. From there we can move on. Let’s look at the arguments we talked about in Sunday School today: Jesus claims to be “I AM;” he is claiming to be God. Jesus rose from the dead and we have lots of evidence of that. Let me say, that based on this, I am convinced that Jesus is who he says he is, that Jesus is God. And if Jesus is God and God is Sovereign, then to follow God means to follow Jesus. And that, dear friends, is why I, Julia, am a follower of Jesus Christ.