The Lord Will Fight For You


Well, hey stranger! 

It's been a minute since an email from me has showed up in your inbox. I hope you had a wonderful month! 

My plan for this email was to write about my thoughts on a book that I'm currently reading, Scary Close by Donald Miller. (It's a phenomenal book. You should read it.)

And then, last night, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw someone had posted about Exodus 14:14. "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." (In some translations it ends with "... you need only be still." As I laid in bed, that verse turned over and over again in my head, almost like the Lord was asking me to open up my Bible and dig into this verse. So I did. 

I looked up the Hebrew word for the phrase to be silent. The word is charash which means to plow. And this caught me off guard. The Hebrew word for to be silent is an active verb. Say what? 

So, I followed the trail a little further and I looked up the English definition for plow. 

"To turn up the earth of (an area of land) with a plow; especially before sowing." 

And I kept on digging. The definition of sow is "to set something in motion." 

By this time I was sitting on my living floor close to screaming because the Bible is SO COOL. Let's recap, shall we? 

Exodus 14:14. "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." The Lord is our defender. He fights our battles for us. Deuteronomy 20:4 says, "For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." The battle is His. And He calls us to let Him fight it. The victory is His, and ours in Him. We are called to be still. Silent. Enter our verb. 

In Exodus 14:14, Moses says to the Israelites, as they are on the edge of the Red Sea, to be silent and let the Lord do the work. As I think about all of the battles I try and fight on my own, it's exhausting. I try to pull something from myself to make something happen or resolve an issue in my life. But I know, my heart truly desires nothing more than to let God actually fight my battles. But how do I do that? How do I be still? Remember, in this verse, be still is translated in Hebrew as to plow. And plow means tilling the ground in preparation for sowing, or setting something in motion. 

God wants us to be patient and let Him fight our battles. He wants us to find rest (Matthew 11:28) in Him. As we dig into His word and prayer, as we grow closer to Him and do the work and live the life that He has put in front of us, this prepares us for the next work God has prepared for us, the "setting in motion" of the next thing He is going to do in our lives. We need only be silent, tending to the earth of our hearts in study of Him. Plowing, tilling, cultivating our lives in such a way that put Him in the drivers seat and us in expectation of what He's going to do. 

In the few verses after verse 14, the Lord commands Moses to stretch out his hand over the Red Sea. When Moses does this, God parts the waters and the Israelites are able to walk to the other side, as the Egyptian army drowns behind them. The Lord didn't call Moses and the Israelites to be on the sidelines. He called them, and calls us, to be in the battle with Him. To remember that He has already won. He has work for us to do as we plow the fields here on Earth and are expectant of what He will do next. 


This post was originally an email that I sent out as part of my Making Room newsletter. You can get that weekly email in your inbox by signing up here

Madi | Portraits in Omaha

"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel." - Unknown

Madi and I met at the OWN IT workshop last year. We hit it off right away, her heart is so so beautiful and bright and energetic. I traveled to Omaha recently to hang out with her and her awesome husband Alex for the week and, of course, we took tons of photos + drank many lattes. 

Madi makes every person she talks to feel instantly seen and known. Her smile is infectious. And she's an incredible photographer! This girl is fantastic.

Five Years | Jacob and Ashley at Home

These sessions are my favorite. (Hi. Broken record here.) 

Jacob + Ashley are celebrating five years of marriage this year so of course we had to celebrate with photos. Also, this is their real-life-seems-unreal home that they moved into a year ago. Serious #homegoals if you ask me. These two are the real deal. (Be on the lookout for the guest appearance by their adorable dog Frank. Can we all agree that human names for dogs are the best?) 

Jacob + Ashley | Ellie Be
Jacob + Ashley | Ellie Be

A Morning in Tulsa | The Fraziers

"Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearl. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies. But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that move-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience.” / Shauna Niequist

Human First

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'. / Emma Bombeck

I've been a photographer for ten years. (Wowza.) I think once you do anything consistently over an extended period of time, it starts to become second nature. It becomes comfortable, like a natural extension of yourself. With something like running a photography business, there is a very real danger of it becoming entangled in your personal life. Like a vine that wraps around anything in its path if you don't prune it back every once in a while. 

Turns out I'm not super great at pruning. 

I started my business in middle-school. (I use the word business loosely.) It was on the side, super casual, a hobby turned money-making opportunity while I was still in school. I loved photography and I loved the fulfillment I got in taking photos. In high-school, I was "the girl with the camera." I would photograph church events, had regular photo sessions with friends, and eventually ended up doing senior photos for half of the people in my grade. (#homeschooled) At this point, I knew I wasn't going to go to college but instead, I was going to pursue a full time career in photography. It was part of my identity. I was, and am, a photographer. 

Late last year, I noticed a tired quality to my photos. They seemed rehearsed, comfortable, safe. I was going through the same motions I had been for the last ten years and I was weary. My Instagram was mostly wedding photos, just because I felt like I needed to market my business somehow. I had been burned out before (I ended up in the hospital with a panic attack so, no bueno) but this felt different. I just felt tired. I had been calling myself a photographer for so long that it was just a cemented part of my identity. "What do you do?" "I'm a photographer!" And that was it. I realized I didn't do anything else. I was a photographer first, business owner second. No wonder I was tired. I had no hobbies, no life outside of photography except for the occasional church event or time spent with friends who weren't in the creative industry. I, for the first time, despised the thought of doing photography for the rest of my life. 

And you know why? You know why I was tired and confused? Because I am a human first. I am not a photographer first. My business should not be my everything. It should be a very small part of who I am as a whole. And it was my everything. It was my entire identity. Pruning shears, nowhere to be found. 

This doesn't mean that my business or my clients or photography aren't important. Photography has shaped my life in such a way that without it, I would be a completely different person. It has been woven into the threads of my life, throughout my growing years, and I would never take that back. I love it. I'm still passionate about people and telling stories. But I believe that it's not the most important thing in my life. 

For the past five months, I have been pruning. Looking at and praying through my life and asking God, "What is the work that YOU want me to do?" Turns out that the answer isn't simply photography. It's a lot deeper and wider than that. My work is loving humanity. I am called to be faithful with today so that means photographing my little heart out, sharing Jesus with the world, and investing in the incredible community that I have here in Tulsa. 

When I take a step back and think of myself in 10, 20, 30 years, I don't want to still be doing photography as a full-time business. I will always be photographing (there's no way it's going away forever) but I hope I will have moved on to other things for those new seasons of my life. As I change as a human, I want to grow deeper and wider and experience different, new, things. Not the same thing over and over again. That's what I believe being human is. Changing. Growing. Not holding on to things that need to be let go. 

I am a human being first. So are you. Whatever it may be that is threatening to take over your life, I'm handing you some shears and giving you permission to cut it back. It may be painful (especially if you're like me and didn't pick up the tools until my work was cut out for me) but it's worth it. It's worth it to put things in their place and prioritize what is most important. 

Hey, human. We're all in this together. 

Photos by Monica Johnson