The Weight of Glory

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“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Some days, and if I’m being honest, most days, I live under the weight of anything but glory. I live under the weight of people pleasing. I live under the weight of perfectionism. I live under the weight of idealism paired with obligations. I live under the weight of insecurity. I live under the weight of fears of never being enough. I live under the weight of stress, busyness, and worry.

I live under anything and everything except the weight of eternal glory.

This is a sad reality when reminded of the brevity of life and the smallness of this world. Yes, life can be difficult. Heartache is handed to us in fistfuls that seep out from between our fingers. Current events wrack our minds late at night as we feel powerless to do anything to stop ISIS or end institutionalized racism. Love blows up in our faces and we are left picking shards of glass off the floor. Life gets so busy and stressful that we find ourselves with a never-ending to-do list that haunts us as we sleep.

Yet these days are short. There is glory ahead that outweighs all the junk that piles upon us. When the glory of God in its fullness is revealed, it will so far outshine all the muck of this life that we will be consumed with nothing else.

The eternal weight of glory is the very presence of Jesus – enthroned and glorified at the right hand of the Father. The presence of God is a weird thing sometimes. It’s part of that unseen world that we can’t describe in tangible terms. It is vital for being renewed day by day, even as we and our world waste away before our eyes. We get to taste it on this earth by being temples of the holy spirit.

Yet for some reason, I tend to live trapped under the weights that so easily entangles instead of resting safely in the weight of glory. The two weights are the difference between being under a heap of blankets while trying to run a race, and being under a heap of blankets when it’s subzero temps and you’re trying to sleep. One form of weight trips you up. One form of weight keeps you safe.

It’s time to break the habit of heaping on blankets while trying to work out and shivering all night in the cold because I don’t feel like reaching for the blanket. I want to live freer yet safer. I want to be free from the life-sucking burdens and safe because I’m dwelling in the presence of the Most High.

This is what I want:

To live with the taste of eternity ever on my lips.

To live with the renewal of my inward being daily.

To live with the weight of glory on my heart.

The presence of God and the faith in unseen promises means this:

We are able to not.lose.heart.

Friends, take heart.

There is glory ahead.

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Liv takes Las Vegas || Weekend Adventure

 “How was Vegas?” has been the question ringing in my ears this last week as I returned from a quick weekend spent in the infamous Sin City. I cheerfully exclaim how it was a fantastic trip and usually add in a quick blurb about what I did or how strange the city was. So if that is all you want to know, you can stop reading here. If you are someone who has been asking for more information – here’s a look into my adventure in Vegas.

The whole trip was set up in a really odd, divinely matched together sort of way. Originally, the intent of the trip was to attend a training on outreach to strip clubs. Women who are in the sex industry – even those of their own choice – are so close to my heart. Currently, I’m in a season of preparation and praying and waiting, but someday, I would absolutely love to be a part of a relational ministry to women in strip clubs.

So I prayed about attending this training. I realized flights to Las Vegas weren’t too expensive and I gave God a bit of a deal by saying that if He wanted me to go on this trip, He was going to need to provide a place for me to stay. I put a feeler out in some facebook groups of Christian photographers and one fellow photographer who shares a mutual heart for inner city/nonprofit work reached out with a connection. She connected me to Sarah, who moved out to Las Vegas this summer with her husband to be a part of a church plant.

Much quicker than I anticipated, I was all set up to stay with this couple I had never met and to do it for free. After everything was confirmed, I booked my tickets.

A few weeks later, I got an email saying that the training was canceled. My first thought was to just cancel my trip and that’s what I told Sarah I was going to do. Yet when I called to cancel my flights, I realized I was going to lose too much money and it made more sense just to go to Las Vegas.

I had no clue what I was going to do.

I had this idea that had been floating around though that seemed like it may just work. So I emailed every group I could find in Vegas that worked directly with women in sex trafficking or prostitution to see if any would be interested. Through this, I was able to set up a meeting to interview and photograph two women with histories of prostitution who are at Walter Hoving Home going through addictions recovery.

About a week before the trip, I got the idea to visit the YWAM base as well.

And that’s about all I had planned before flying out to Las Vegas.

It was slightly terrifying.

Somewhere deep down though, I knew that even though I’d never really had a desire to see Vegas, I was going to love it.

Here’s How it Went Down: the Highlights

Walter Hoving Home.

This was a ten bed Christian addiction treatment facility where I had the honor of interviewing and photographing two of the women there who had been in prostitution. There women were incredible. Like insanely amazing women who have been through so much in their lives. They both spoke of hope, God, second chances, dreams, and healing. I am so excited to be able to share their stories with you in the future once my project is complete.

The Strip

My hosts graciously showed me around the city and answered all my curious questions. Driving through the strip, it definitely was a sensory overload of lights and sights. There is so much to take in. So much glitz and glam and gaudiness. They took me to see the Billagio and we wandered around a bit – seeing the gardens, chocolate fountain, casino, and water fountain extravaganza. My hosts also told me about the other side of Las Vegas. How in the shadows of billion dollar buildings, people lived on the streets. There are up to 1,000 people who are living in the tunnel system under the strip. The homelessness problem is huge and it’s coupled with meth additions and all the other side effects of instant gratification gone wrong.

YWAM Base

YWAM has a DTS (Discipleship Training School) located in Las Vegas that is centered on worship as well as an Abolitionist training. While they were in major prep mode, they graciously allowed me to come in a tour their facility and chat with their staff about what they do. The base is located in a really rough area of town, the sort of looking neighborhood where you can feel the brokenness and poverty. It reminded me of places that we send missions trips to in Mexico. One staff member took me on a quick walk around the block and she pointed out two brothels on the same street. I heard several other stories of just how open and blatant the prostitution in this neighborhood was. Even as I was leaving, there was a family digging through the garbage bins in the alley, hauling off finds in their truck. The need here is is very real and very out in the open.

Hiking

From a selfish perspective, this was definitely my favorite part of the trip. My heart swoons at mountains. I love views and I love the boldness. Their majesty is my favorite thing in nature hands down. We went out to Red Rock and hiked in a canyon that contained pine trees and a creek in the desert. Fittingly, it was called Pine Creek Canyon trail. We had a fantastic talk about all the spiritual analogies of hiking and being able to just get outside in nature and not be an icicle was a nice relief.

My Hosts

I need to highlight Sarah and Greg. They showed me so much grace, generosity, and kindness. Their faith and their obedience is steady and obvious. Their heart for God and for the people of Las Vegas shone through every conversation. I was so inspired and encouraged by them and blessed beyond measure to be allowed into their lives for a weekend. Sarah and Greg are both on staff with a church plant in Las Vegas and while I was there, I got to meet a handful of the other staff. I was welcomed into their homes and social gatherings and we joked around that I was spending the weekend shadowing what missionaries do on their days off. Which, from my conclusions, is eating 1/2 off sushi and play card games.

There are more things that I could say about Las Vegas. I have typed up this blog post multiple times and am still at a bit of a loss for how to describe it all. These are my meager attempts for those of you who have been asking for more details and for more stories.

For a city that I never had a desire to visit, it certainly gripped my heart mighty quickly. The need there is so huge. The vibe from the city is so strange and different than anything I’ve ever known. This is a place that exists outside of my comfort zone.  This is a place of surprising beauty.

I don’t think God is done with the combination of Liv and LV.

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