I was given the great privilege of having my work featured at a local boutique called Share and Do Good in Downtown Fullerton for their monthly art walk. The only parameters around the project were to keep the theme "Share Their Stories" in mind. I wasn't sure exactly who the "their" part of that was as I thought about it all year. I knew that God would show me exactly who that was in His perfect timing.
I met Rayna at another photo shoot around April of this year. We collaborated with a few other creatives to help promote one of their jewelry lines and Rayna looked so strikingly familiar and I realized it was because I had seen her face pop up on my "Suggested Friends" section of Facebook so many times. She had also been a part of a team called The Simply Beloved who would use some of my photos for their promotional/devotional work. So we both had an "aha!" moment and realized we kind of, sort of knew each other but not really even though social media can give that false sense of reality at times. But now, we really had a chance to get to know each other and we began to tell each other a little bit more about our businesses, our personal lives and the ministries we feel called to, bonding over our love for local and world missions.
After that first meet, we met back up a couple of months later to catch up and it was as Rayna began sharing about her newly launched business venture that I knew it was THEIR story - Rayna and her best friend Nicole's story - that I needed to share.
ABOUT the Project // ABOUT the Artist: By Alysha Miller
The proceeds raised from tonight's Pop Up Shop are helping fund Rayna's October mission trip to Ethiopia. When planning for this project, I looked into Ethiopian culture for inspiration and saw many beautiful faces with white paint staring back at me. I tried to emulate that through these photos, and represent the culture well.
I also wanted to make it personal and represent the light vs. the dark. I've known dark. I lived in it for 9 years. I remember a time in my life, where I was so manipulated into believing I wasn't even worthy of lifting my eyes up to hold someone else's gaze. The Lord began ministering to me as I sifted through the images, not sure which ones to display but it was both girl's mesmerizing gazes that stood out to me. It made me think of the verse, Matthew 6:22 - "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light."
Which correlates to the verse, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).
It registered with me that the Word of God is what opens our eyes and what speaks life into our lives. In that time of darkness in my life lyrics to a song that my mom would sing in the early morning kept repeating deep down in my soul.
When I was far off, thoughts far from God, He still drew near to me.
I didn’t know why I was reciting these words.
I didn’t even truly know what they meant.
But the words repeated,
“Open the eyes of my heart Lord.
Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see You."
And God honored that prayer, even though it was a half-hearted one.
He opened my eyes to His Word, His Word opened the eyes of my heart.
His Word exposed the darkness in my heart.
And even though I felt exposed and fully seen, I felt His love for me despite my darkness.
Staying in the Word, I have the eyes of my heart opened daily to new things.
I see wondrous, moving, captivating things in God’s Word.
Things I used to find uninteresting.
Things that now I attribute to having changed my life forever.
I am utterly convinced of this; that the Word is alive and true.
And it has the authority and power to break the chains of:
shame, guilt, fear,
pride, sorrow, uncertainty,
It has done so in my life. It can do so in yours. It sets us FREE!
What does it meant to be set free?
It is to fully accept the forgiveness Christ extends to us all.
And to feel empowered by His indwelling Spirit to pursue the life that
HE has set before you.
Let me be real honest,
It's not easy.
There are no shortcuts.
You will mess up.
But you have to get back up
and finish the race set before you.
What about the days I don't want to get out of bed?
What if I fail?
His Strength is made perfect in our weakness.
He won't let you fail.
All the sacrifice, the difficult days, the perseverance,
IS WORTH IT.
WHEN WILL IT BE WORTH IT?
When you do what's hard and trust the rewards to come..