photographingGOD Photography

Tag: Sister

You Say I Am Orphan; I Say I Am Loved!

By Greg Pai
Inspired By Andrea Mani
Photo Credit: Andrea Mani

This is a time of the year where many feel lonely or empty.  Especially those who have no family to speak of. Our hearts have to place orphans at the top of that list. What we learn from this story inspired by Andrea Mani, is that we are all orphans if we don’t connect with and depend on God.

IMG_7211__© 2015 Andrea ManiOrphans have seemingly perfected that connection and dependence as a means of survival. In fact, they do not see themselves as orphans; They see themselves as God’s blessed children. Experiencing His abundant, unconditional love as no earthly parent could ever offer.

“You say I am an orphan,” the hearts of the unwanted cried out. “But, I say I am loved. Loved by He who made me.” Andrea Mani fell in love just moments after she arrived for what was six months of service. At a little known ministry in Jocotepec, Mexico, orphan children are changing everyone who comes in contact with them – One soul at a time.

IMG_7246__© 2015 Andrea Mani

IMG_7979__© 2015 Andrea ManiThe orphanage cares for twenty-one girls and one boy. “One boy!” you say. Well, eight-year old Chuy (pronounced “chewy”) is one of three siblings and when the orphanage converted over to an all girls institution a few years back, they didn’t have the heart to separate Chuy from his two sisters, one named Milagro (meaning Miracle in English). A victim of physical and emotional abuse, it was only by a miracle that 8-year old Chuy survived those earlier abusive years. Cigarette burns on his body and later, months of being mute, unable to speak. Inevitably, Andrea would take a special interest in Chuy as he faced the journey of healing ahead of him.

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The other children learned not to depend on “man.” God was the provider of everything in their lives and that suited them just fine. It wasn’t long before the children challenged Andrea. “You won’t last two months,” they said. These children were used to people revolving in and out of their lives, often under duress or anxiety.  Andrea not only endured, but also learned why others did not. When a person signs up for this kind of work, they do so assuming they are the “strength” coming to the aid of the “weak.” To the contrary, they quickly learn that the children become inspirational and essential to their own personal journey. Radically changing their heart and perspective. Maybe even feeling inadequate and unnecessary in the ways they expected to make an impact. This is when the process flips on its head and starts to become more of a self-examination of our own lives; a sometimes difficult awakening. However, necessary.

IMG_0828__© 2015 Andrea Mani

Most of these children came from situations too difficult to write about. Even called “rats” by those the heartless of the community. Some had mothers who were prostitutes while exploiting their children sexually for favor. Absolutely tragic. However, how would you know any of this by just looking at them? They are beautiful in every way.  Inside and out, their hearts and smiles radiate.  Yet, they have nothing.  Or do they? Andrea expected overwhelming sensations of abandonment on her arrival. She did not expect what God was about to show her.

IMG_7836__© 2015 Andrea ManiThe children had a life about them that projected pure joy. Amazing as it may seem, the children had a ritual of occasionally going into town and donating their clothing to any one of four impoverished villages in the immediate area. Yes – you read that right. Even though their very limited wardrobes were precious to them, they believed that whatever they gave up would be replenished by God’s own hand.  And guess what?  They were never without. Somehow, newly donated clothes always found a way to their personal shelf (that’s a single shelf). Such faith. I suppose when we have nothing to lose and expect no earthly gain, we are capable of giving and doing our most selfless work in this life. These children are living proof. They see their glass not as a quarter full or three-quarters empty, but overflowing.

We have convinced ourselves that we are somehow more equipped or better off than they are. Hence, we neglect to ever seek or find the orphan in us.

What is orphan about these children. The dictionary says the noun form is defined as a child who has lost both parents. That is innocent enough. Interestingly, the adjective form is used to describe one who is abandoned. Quite a difference. Unfortunately, we have adopted the more negative connotation as the global definition. We have convinced ourselves that we are somehow more equipped or better off than they are. Hence, we neglect to ever seek or find the orphan in us. There is that “difficult awakening” thing again!

At some point, Andrea observed a young girl’s mother (a recovering prostitute) visit the orphanage expecting to take her little girl back home. However, with the best of intentions, the woman realized that her daughter was better off staying because she was unable to offer her the same stability and nurturing.

IMG_7163__© 2015 Andrea Mani

However, I believe that God speaks to us through His beloved orphans. I now see the love of God when I see an orphan. Not an abandoned soul; But a soul that’s whole!

As I documented this story, I struggled with internal conflict and confusion. I love God and He fills my life, but am I abandoned enough to really feel the fullness of His love? Many of us have family and good friends around us who bring us a great deal of joy and companionship. But what is it like to have no one but God? Please don’t get me wrong. Family is a blessed gift from God. A special treasure from above. However, I believe that God speaks to us through His beloved orphans. I now see the love of God when I see an orphan. Not an abandoned soul; But a soul that’s whole!

Minimum Wage? Not!

You can honor God in all you do. Especially in your profession, whatever it may be. Working for God is NOT a religious position. Working for God is the ONLY position. We can seek, serve, and honor God in every aspect of our profession. Often however, it means comprising our selfish ambitions for success and wealth creation for greater and a more impactful purpose. Always, it means performing our jobs at the highest levels and acknowledging God as the giver of all talent, skill, opportunity, and blessing. There is no pot of gold at the end of any rainbow here on earth. Just ask really rich people and they will tell you they are not rich enough. However, heaven holds the ultimate reward. A retirement laced in gold.

Sibling Harmony

Too many of us have a lost or strained relationship with one or more of our siblings. These photos should inspire us to rebuild bridges of love with those whom God intentionally enjoined us with to form our family. A sibling is like an arm or a leg. They have a purpose in our lives and we need to have a relationship with them in order to find our what that purpose is. Brothers and sisters are not dispensable. God wastes nothing. There is a reason God blessed you with family. -Greg Pai

In Pictures: Indians Celebrate Brothers and Sisters Day Raksha Bandhan – Wall Street Journal (blog)

In Pictures: Indians Celebrate Brothers and Sisters Day Raksha Bandhan. Indians on Thursday were celebrating Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu festival that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. In Pictures: Indians Celebrate Brothers and Sisters Day Raksha Bandhan – Wall Street Journal (blog)

thumbnail courtesy of wsj.com

My Public Profession

You know me as a photographer, writer, and Founder of photographingGOD. I also want you to know me as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Yes – that would make me a Christian. However, I want to live like Christ more than any label could offer. Frankly, religion and labels do more to offend me than not. Probably, because man has used them both for his own divisiveness. The current election in the United States is proof positive of that.

All my life, I have loved all people including atheists, non-believers, Jews, Muslims, Christians, other faiths, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, gays, straights, rich, poor, the wrong, the “so-called” righteous, and everyone in-between. Probably because my own background and DNA span many (if not most) of those categories. However, just over four years ago, Jesus saved my life and in doing so, my love for all of God’s people and creation deepened. This is who the true Jesus was. The ultimate Lover with the ultimate Love Story.

photographingGOD was born to share the beauty of creation; Yes – God’s creation with the world. Void of the pitfalls that religion introduces to a conversation between people who may have different faiths and often even different views within a faith. But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that my love for all of you is driven by my love for Jesus and His love for me. My prayer is that you are loved as much as I and if you are not, that I help your journey to it. Blessings…

Amen, amin, آمين, ամեն, амин, amen, 阿門, Aamen, siya nawa, Αμήν, אָמֵן, Ámen, Amin, o’n, アーメン, 아멘, Amém, Аминь, амен, Aamiin, Amina, สาธุ, амінь, Omin

Maya Barnes Phone Home… Not!

Maya is a 14-year-old, somewhat typical, high school student. What possibly makes her less typical is her willingness to disconnect from the digital madness that has consumed our world. Well – at least long enough to understand what she might have been missing. It didn’t happen voluntarily at first. However, she quickly learned to cooperate with her unfortunate circumstances.  Here is Maya’s story in her own words…

Maya Barnes Phone Home… Not!

A week ago, the thought of just putting my phone down for a day made me extremely anxious. But now that I broke my phone, I have no choice but to go without it. It honestly hasn’t been as bad as I expected. I am still able to contact my friends and family when I am at home through my computer, but when I am out… I am completely phone free.

As much as not having a phone has been a little inconvenient, in the way that I can’t contact my parents or friends when I’m outside of home, it has actually helped me focus more on things other than social media and texting. I focus more on school and actually talking to people…actual people and not a screen!

Technology seems to get in the way of people actually interacting and actually seeing the world around them. It may seem as though you are communicating with other people, but you are actually isolating yourself in a way many people don’t realize.

The absence of technology inspired Maya to “blow the dust off” her camera and put her creative potential to work. Check it out. The results are impressive!

Photo Credit: Maya Barnes (Age 14)

How Many People Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?

It takes only one filled with the love of God. We have been given a limitless ability to light up a room (or the world) and love one another. And love is best expressed when we overcome the voice of the world and what the world teaches us, for the voice of the heart which is true and pure.

 

Ever Hear Of Mancala?

Mancala is a game popularized throughout the Middle East and Africa and has been proven to have extraordinary impact on memory and problem solving abilities.

 

Children Are The Hands…

Children are one of the many connections that give us a view to the glory of heaven. The beauty and purity of their nature before the world takes hold of them is a near perfect reflection of heaven’s soil.

Only God!

Family

Wallpaper Download Area

Click the appropriate button and save the wallpaper image to your device. You can then set the image as your lock and/or home screen as normal.

 

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“He Didn’t Tell Me How To Live…”

We have enormous influence on our children even when it seems they are not very interested in us or distracted by the forces of the world. Still, God has tethered them to us and even when they seem least interested, they are learning from us. Let them into our personal world and space where they can watch us at our best. Maybe it’s at the office, or in the kitchen or garden. Or maybe its watching a tender moment with our spouse so they can see what true love looks like. Our world conditions us to “tell” rather “show.” Parents are in a great position to share the awesomeness of life with their children.

Thank you God for tender, loving fathers.
Thank you God for tender, loving fathers.