life & light : my first photography workshop


[originally posted here]

i’ve toyed with the idea — largely due to having received so many requests — of having a workshop that would teach folks how to use their DSLRs the way they were intended to be used. it’s a real need. i mean, more and more of us have taken the plunge and purchased a nice DSLR camera, with high hopes of having better pictures to show for it, and then it somehow disappoints a bit. we realize that a good camera doesn’t automatically lead to great pictures. truth is, we have to learn how a camera works, what exposure is and how you achieve it, how to compose an artful image, how to meter and focus, etc. etc. if we don’t know how to do those things, the “Auto” setting is all that remains available to us, but “Auto” — though smart in certain ways — is not ever going to be a great photographer. because of this, i like the idea of spending a chunk of time equipping people to learn how to use the fantastic camera they’ve invested in, empowering them to take shots of their families and personal lives in a way that they can feel good about.

but there are lots of workshops out there to teach the technicalities, both online and in camera stores, and from other photographers. you don’t have to look far to learn how to use your DSLR.

so if i’m going to do something like this, i want to bring my unique self to the table, offered up as a gift to those who might feel inclined to receive me. and i think my particular gift, my niche, is this: to notice ordinary moments and to capture them in a way that let’s you see their beauty. this is the feedback i get the most often, and it’s also the gift that lays behind my two specialties of family photojournalism and birth photography. it’s how i photograph my own family, too.

that is what i hope to offer to you in this workshop. i want to invite you to sit in my living room around my wood stove on a wintery day. i want to offer you pastries and coffee while we sit down and have a conversation not just about the technicalities of DSLR use, but also about our lives. i want to take time together to practice gratitude and noticing and light.

i want to talk about how to use a DSLR with technical skill for the larger purpose of celebrating the life that’s unfolding around you, in all its glorious ordinariness. 

here’s what i’m envisioning it will look like: the first part of the day will be spent learning the how-tos of DSLRs while we sip our hot beverages, then we’ll move into conversation about telling a story with our photos and “finding beauty.” we’ll have a yummy lunch together while we talk more. then the afternoon will be space to practice what we’ve been learning and discussing, through a few different invitations.

because i want to keep this highly personal and want to give each participant the attention he/she deserves, space is limited to 6. so if this resonates with you, listen to that, get in touch with me, and register now.

i am so stinking excited.




12 hours after putting this workshop “out there” online (facebook, blog, email), it was completely filled up.

i feel like i’m onto something here. like i’ve stumbled onto a path that is right, which utilizes the unique giftings and competencies (photography, hospitality, seeing deeper beauty, encouraging women) Father has given me by His Spirit. i suppose this is because the entire vision and most of the details came flooding into my head space during a community worship session, and i had the distinct feeling it was from the Holy Spirit.

doing this sort of things — as cheesy as it might sound — really makes me feel really alive. if the glory of God is man fully alive, than i hope this brings Him glory.

feeling so blessed today.

photography: becoming a specialist

after spending more than 10 years with my eye pressed up against the viewfinder of an SLR camera (first it was 35 mm, then digital), after pointing it in the direction of so very many things, places, and people, some things have come started to come clear.

you look at my portfolio right now and you’ll see i have been a generalist: weddings, engagements, families-who-are-posed, mini-session portraits, babies, kids, graduation and anniversary parties,  multi-generational family groups, seniors, boudoir, and birth.

what a lovely, lovely world filled with a billions of beautiful faces and thousands of good reasons to celebrate and document those celebrations. i’ve seen the fresh love and creative pinnacle of a wedding day, the flirtatious adoration of an engaged couple, the traditions of families stopping to commemorate, the sensual daring of a woman who’ll be photographed in her undergarments to give some joy to the man she loves, and the tentative coming-into-self of a graduating senior. i have loved it all, each in its own way.

today, feeling now so blessed to have been allowed to witness and document so many sorts of breath-taking people and their moments in time, i feel i can now step back and ask myself: out of all of this varied glory, what is the one thing that resonates most deeply, that brings me so much life that i want to spend as much time around it as possible?

i might have answered this question differently 5 or 8 years ago, had i bothered to ask it of myself, but i didn’t. so today, the answer to this question is this:

that which is raw and ordinary, which is family, which is life. 

more specifically:

family photo-journalism

(the kind where no one gets especially dressed up, and they probably stay home and just do the sorts of things that families do while i just happen to be present to make note of it on film)



birth stories

(the sort where women – and their men – are transformed as they undergo the process of giving life to a new little person, and are brave enough to allow me into that space to witness it through my camera’s eye)


mmmm, yes. those things get my heart pumping. these are the ones that i look forward to doing more than any other sort of photography job.


what if those two things became unapologetically my specialty? what if i began to say “no” to other sorts of work so that i could indulge in and master these two sorts? what if i gave myself over to that which i really love, and that which i think i do best?

there’s a degree of risk. will it shrink my client base too significantly? will it disappoint certain folks? will i be going back to square one to re-establish myself within these new parameters?

yup, risky, but it feels right.

this is the new plan, friends. website and blog and facebook page will begin to reflect said changes very soon (well, maybe after my maternity leave).

i’m very much looking forward to this new chapter of my photography career.

*i am sort of test-driving this post here on my “personal” blog before i post it to my professional blog.

dancing in hard places


several years ago Jesus showed me that the way it was going to be with He and i was something like dancing in a wide-open field of wild flowers, joyful and free. and that’s the way that it was, just on the other side of a long season of suffering and then being healed by Him. He gave me respite and new life.

several months ago, one morning in the prayer garage, He gave me another picture of us dancing, only this time we were dancing on a massive expanse of rock, cracked here and there, an occassional flower bravely blooming in those cracks. “we’re still dancing together, but this time we are dancing in harder places,” He whispered to my heart. my Jesus, how i love you. for continuing to dance with me. and for giving me a forewarning.

right now, this word feels like it’s being proved true. this season feels very much like it’s about dancing on rocky ground.

it’s not circumstantial so much. we’re settled comfortably in our home, we adore our hazel girl, we have good work to do, we have strong relationships and good health. but in a much deeper place, a place a watching world doesn’t see, He is turning up soil of our marriage and the soil of our calling, and pulling things up for us to have a look at. that has not felt pleasant.

as i whined to Him about it a couple of weeks ago, He reminded me of that picture of us dancing on harder ground, and He reminded me that it isn’t without purpose. that the reason it feel so unrelentingly difficult is precisely because it is deep, transformational, and foundational.  it is important work, and work that He has not for one second lost control of, lest we despair. no, He’s directing it. and the resistance is in my weariness, my weary heart that says “really, do i have to do this sort of hard work again, God? didn’t we already spend years in therapy and prayer rooms working through all my junk? didn’t we get it all taken care of?”


because after a honeymoon season wears off, there’s stuff that gets exposed: about intimacy and hiding, about reacting to the other based less on who they actually are and more on soul impressions you’re falsely putting on them, about honoring and loving one another even when you’re angry or disappointed, and about judgements, with-holding, and selfish motivation.

and because once you start stepping into your life work and calling, which happens to be ministry, there’s stuff that gets dragged up there, too: about unworthiness and fear, about abdicating responsibility and wanting to hide, about functioning under the pressure of living a life that is watched, about feeling like a phoney, about feeling like you have to prove yourself, about lacking self-discipline and vision.

none of this goes away easy. none of it is a quick fix, and if we tried to make it so, it would come out sideways somewhere else, i am sure.

so i’m giving Him permission — as i call to mind how gentle and true His scalpel has been in the past — to go ahead and keep uprooting, keep applying pressure, keep pursuing my heart until He accomplishes His will in me. i will go there. i might cry about it from time to time, but i will go there with the One who has never released me from His gentle lead, no matter what sort of terrain we’re dancing on.

and the best part is knowing that on the other side of this, we’ll be standing on SOLID GROUND that you find only after you’ve struggled through the swamp land. what will be left standing will be enduring and we will be able to trust it confidently. that’s worth it.

born // birth photography

i am so very excited to begin photographing births this year! after having my own photographed, and knowing what sweetness it has been to have those images to look back at and to aid me in reconnecting with my experience of giving birth to hazel… well, i want to be able to offer that gift to other women, too. in the interest of full disclosure, i will tell you that i have not yet photographed a birth, though i am confident in my capacity to do it well both because i have the right gear (read: camera/lenses that perform well in low light without a flash!) and because being with people in the midst of significant emotional/spiritual/physical experiences is something that i do well.

so, if you’d like to join the three other beautiful mamas who are already having me photography their births, and allow me incredible honor of photographing your birth, please choose any of the following three packages and knock the price down by 50%. we can, of course, sit down and talk it over before you officially commit. 🙂 (note: offer good for only the first two respondents who end up booking me. some restrictions may apply). spread the word!

package A – 

  • labor/deliver coverage through 1.5 hours after birth  (up to 8 hours, 50+ images)
  • maternity session in last month of pregnancy (1 hour, 30+ images)
  • newborn session within 1 month of birth (1 hour, 30+ images)
  • CD of all edited images w/ copyright permissions for printing AND web-sized, watermarked images for sharing online (facebook/blog)
  • slideshow on DVD (3 copies) and posted on private youtube link

 package B – 

  • labor/delivery coverage through 1 hour after birth (up to 6 hours, 50+ images)
  • your choice of maternity OR newborn session (1 hour, 30+ images)
  • CD of web-sized, watermarked images for sharing online (facebook/blog)
  • slideshow on DVD and posted to private youtube link

package C – 

  • labor/delivery coverage through 1 hour after birth (up to 5 hours, 50+ images)
  • CD of web-sized, watermarked images for sharing online (facebook/blog)
  • slideshow on DVD and posted to a private youtube link

optional add-ons

  • complete, boxed set of 4×6 “proofs” — $
  • additional prints made through my pro lab —
  • rights to all edited images w/ copyright permissions for printing — $


  • we’ll sit down before you book me and we’ll talk about all your expectations and hopes for how your birth will go and how you see me (the photographer) moving in and out of your birth experience. it’s a collaboration.
  • i take the role of a mostly silent, unobtrusive observer. my goal is that when your birth is through, you will have almost no memory of my presence, and certainly not any memories of me uncomfortably close up with a camera.
  • i schedule no more than two births in a month (with due dates at least 2 weeks apart) in order to maximize my ability to be available. i will be on call around the clock for the ten days leading up to your due date and ten days after.
  • all photography will be done with available light only. you don’t need any flashes going off to distract you as you labor, nor blinding delicate new-born eyes.
  • i am happy to photograph any kind of birth: hospital, c-section, home birth, or birth center. for now, i am only taking on births within 20 minutes of Grand Rapids, MI.

*****UPDATE 2/11/2016 :: I have removed the specific pricing from this blog post. I currently have only one package and the price structure is quite different than it was when I began shooting births in 2012. For current information please visit

it’s time to be photographed

the winter is past now. spring has sprung. and with it, my appetite to get outside, camera in hand, and create breath-taking photographs of people in the soft new light.

spread the word to family and friends (seniors, couples, families, babies, friends, siblings): now is the time to start thinking about booking a portrait session.

i’m open for business from now until baby comes, and again in july and until winter becomes dismal.

ps: mention this blog post when you (or your friend) contacts me to make an appointment and get 15% off

pps: some recent work (just a couple)


an update on settling in

so far, it’s felt more like another visit than a move.

because we don’t have a place to call our own, only the hospitality of family and friends to shelter us. because i don’t have a job other than some photography sessions lined up, which means my time is rather unstructured. and because my husband hasn’t been here for these first 10 days of my time in MI, so it’s been only me, again in this familiar place with familiar people, but  missing my other half. i can’t wait until he returns on monday night.

but i am marked by peace. wrapped up in a thick blanket of it. even with so many pieces yet to fall into place, i am utterly at rest! i know that He’s doing it, and i’m not anxious or fretful about it all.


tim has [another] interview with Hope Network next week. this time for a position that we think is the best fit out of any of the others he’s looked into. Hope wants to hire him, they just want to be sure to put him in a position where he’ll be most fully utilized and not wasted (he’s over-qualified for many of the other positions). this new position would be one-on-one with [developmentally disabled] clients, helping them work on personal goals for their behaviors, work, and life. tim would be perfectly suited for it, i think.

i am still unsure what’s going to happen in the arena of employment for myself, though there are a few intriguing possibilities that i’m exploring, each in different areas. it could be working for a non-profit organization devoted to feeding hungry kids, doing health counseling out of a wellness center, or picking up more photography work, both freelance and for my own business. but i don’t feel in a rush about any of it, and i know God has something good.

AND, this thing that i have not yet mentioned publicly, is that we have been offered and have accepted a part-time job with the Stockbridge Boiler Room. a position made just for us. this has been an unexpected and very wonderful blessing! my part of the job has to do with hospitality: organizing food supply, overseeing volunteers, and cooking for the weekly Love Feasts, as well as co-teaching a course on forming communities of hospitality this fall. and tim’s part will have to do with college campuses and prayer in the Grand Rapids area, very much in keeping with what he’s been doing with Campus America. there may be more, but we’re still in the process of discerning what, precisely, is the work God is giving us to do here. (btw, read jenn’s latest post about the SBR family here).


right now we’re at justin and marguerite’s house in the southeast part of GR, and probably will keep this as a home base for the month of august, while the SBR is on sabbatical for the month anyway. tim and i are spending one week at the hytta (site of the first few days of our honeymoon) and another at a cottage with the Roost family, which means only two weeks of the month will we be in the city anyway, and we might as well rest with justin and margo for that time.

for september, we’re feeling the nudge to get ourselves down to the Stockbridge neighborhood by one avenue or another, so we’re looking into a few options for where that will be, precisely, while we wait for closing on our house. wherever we end up beginning in September, it will hopefully be quite cheap and quite close to the Boiler Room. the reason this matters is that things will get started up afresh with the SBR in the beginning of September and we know that being close will be important for our full participation.


this has been easy. coming back into regular time with my family has felt great, and it’s been particularly nice to live with justin and marguerite and sweet baby claire. the SBR and Crossroads family has also been amazing. so many hugs and “welcome-homes”. and how nice it has been to be able to part ways after hanging out and say, “see you tomorrow” or “see you soon!” last week i got to participate in a day of reflection and a day of dreaming with the abbot, the prior, and all the interns of the SBR. it’s was so fun to hear about the road they’ve traveled while i’ve been gone, and to listen to God together for where He’s leading us all in this upcoming year.

before we came here, one madison friend got a picture in prayer of our return to Stockbridge as being like jumping on a trampoline. we jump on, are caught and cushioned, then catapulted up and out toward God and His purposes for us. The deeper in we jump with the community, the higher up we’ll be sent into God and His plans for us. i love this picture and sense it’s truth.

and, it has been pleasant to find the memories of Madison friends and family flit through my mind from time to time, and feel a swell of appreciation for the gift we have in them, and how beautifully we were loved and then sent by them. there are great relationships behind and before us!

thus ends this rather newsy update. the deeper things of the spirit and heart will wait for another, separate post.

ps: we are being tempted by a dog (as pictured above). can’t quite decide if we’re “dog people,” but do love the idea of a contented, companionable, part-pittbull dog living in our midst. we have no idea how to be dog parents. any advice is welcome.

moving ahead with my photography

(i also posted this here, but wanted to throw it up on this blog as well)

it’s time to stop and reflect a moment on what’s transpired and what comes next for “brooke collier photo“, because there’s been so much motion in the growing of this little fledgling business of mine, and for those of you who read or care, i’d like to share some of it.

what’s transpired for brooke collier photo?

is a year full of rapid growth and learning. most of it happened because i started networking. i took on assisting gigs with kevin and kelsey, talked shop for hours with patricia, passed on some of my knowledge to kelly, read a multitude of photography blogs, and practiced by taking daily photos.

i feel so pleased that my work is becoming more truly “brooke-ish.” i think that i’m starting to get my own look/style in photographs. i feel more confident in my technical skills than ever before.

and, especially, i feel so grateful for the photography community both locally in madison and across the US. there’s such a spirit of collaboration and support, which is such a nice change of pace from the cut-throat competition that exists is so many other industries.

and, of course, it also feels great to have finally taken the plunge into having a photography business that is actively TRYING to grow and expand, rather than passively waiting for a few friends to notice that i take pretty pictures and hire me to shoot something here and there. marketing and networking are challenging for me, but it feels brave and exciting to go ahead and go for it!

what’s coming next for brooke collier photo?

we’re moving to Grand Rapids, MI, tim and i. we’re moving back to re-join this funky and delicious little prayer community on the west side; a place where i have known jesus most potently and tasted the impact of the kingdom of heaven. we’re so excited to take up residence there, and to undertake some of the work of that community. and, i am looking forward to resuming the work of photo-documenting the life of the neighborhood and ministry, as well as doing something like help portrait there.

i’m looking forward to booking MI weddings for 2011. brides, if you are out there, look me up and we’ll sit down and talk over a delicious beverage and begin to imagine our collaboration for creating a set of lovely images of your wedding. or, if you now brides-to-be, let them know that i exist and point them here.

one thing i hope to do this year is pay it forward by freely sharing some of the little that i know with someone else in the industry who knows a tad less than i do. no need to be competitive or hoard trade secrets, right? share! i have been given so very much this past year by photographers who are a few steps ahead of me, and i want to pass it on.

i’ve discovered this year that i really love doing senior portraits. i’d like to do more of them, and am hoping to find a couple of great seniors in Grand Rapids who will be ambassadors for my senior portrait services in their high schools by first allowing me to photograph them, and then spreading the joy.

“i crave photography,” wrote one photographer on her blog (i wish i could remember where i read that). i resonate with that. making images is something that i crave, something that gives me so much energy and happiness. and i want to have this thing in my life for a very long time. the thought of being able to grow it so that it is more and more my only job is… well, it almost seems too good to be true.

thanks for reading, for being along on this journey with me. i hope to see some of you in front of my lens this year.

(leave a comment and say “hey”)

Farewell to Big Oak Child Care Center

Dear Parents,

I’m a bit sad to sit down and write this letter announcing my departure from Big Oak next month. My husband and I have accepted an invitation to move back to my home town of Grand Rapids, MI where we will be joining in the life and work our friends in a small prayer community in a broken neighborhood. In that place, I’ll be cooking still — only this time for 100+ poor and homeless folks who come to the weekly “Love Feasts” (free community meal)! We’re really excited for this move and know that it’s a good choice for us.

Still, if I could pack up Big Oak in its entirety and take it with me, I would! Cooking at Big Oak has been one of my all-time favorite jobs. I want to thank you all for your overwhelming support, encouragement, and cheer-leading as I’ve experimented with some different ways of feeding your kids this past year. I look back at this year and smile at what a lot of progress we’ve all made in forming food awareness and healthy habits in your kids. I feel confident that this trend will continue even after I’ve left because of the administrative support found in Ann and Nicole and all of the teachers. The whole team is on board with this!

My last day will be in the third week of July. Between now and then I hope to train my replacement (as soon as he or she is located), and jot down some favorite recipes to leave behind so they can continue to be used at Big Oak.

Keep up the great work persistently encouraging healthy food choices for your kids. Their little minds and bodies will reap the rewards for years to come.

Many blessings,

Brooke the Cook

discerning our calling

SmoothiesEggs-1The wedding, special and anointed as it will be, is such a small piece of what we’re preparing for here. Because, really, we’re preparing to be married to one another for the rest of our lives. And that’s worth probably 20 times as much attention as the decisions about paper products and rings.

We have a future together. We’ve been dreaming and seeking the Lord about what that future will be. Or at least the next steps.

We know there’s a calling on our lives to live a form of discipleship that isn’t for everyone – a form that means forgoing traditional employment and being present and ready for the surprises of a new form of church that the Spirit of God is putting in the collective consciousness of our generation. We are clear on this much: our vocation is, for lack of a better word, ministry. More specifically, it is pastoral, communal, missional, and incarnational. These may seem like so many theological buzz words, but they are trying to get at the heart of the thing. We’re settling into the reality of our shared calling to missions/ministry, and learning how to live into that beautifully.

But the trouble with following Jesus is that He rarely, if ever, unfolds His entire plan in one breathtaking view. And He never hands out cover-all instruction manuals. Instead, He asks us to keep step with Him, relationally and in love, though we have limited sight. He says, “Do you trust me? Walk with me.” And that’s often all we get to know. We’re at the mercy of this Man of tender compassion who is reconciling the world to the Father through Himself.

So when we sit down and say that we’re trying to be obedient to Jesus by pursuing life as a part-time missionaries, we do so somewhat sheepishly because there is a lot about the particulars that we don’t know and cannot predict. We just know that He’s calling us to keep big gaps in our schedules and an ear to His mouth, inclined to hear and promptly obey when we hear Him speak. There have been many many moments of confusion and frustration around what we’re doing here, but there’s a constant reassurance to keep the course anyway. We will keep pressing into Him for guidance and direction, with hearts readied to obey, because that’s where the joy is.

Here is what we see: we see a generation rising up that is hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for something to live and die for in discipleship that is whole-hearted and uncompromising. We see that the Holy Spirit is planting dreams in our collective consciousness, dreams that are potent and alive. We see a new form of church emerging that is simple, accessible, small, and equilateral. It is shining and pure; it is the new wine skin of the Church that Jesus is building. We see a generation that is willing to live on little among those with little so that the shame of poverty may be reduced, a generation who is willing to reorganize their lives to steward creation well, and to go into all the nations with the gospel of Christ.

Most of all we sense that the Father is working to convince His kids that they belong to His heart and that He loves them with an everlasting love. We see the spirit of adoption being poured out on many as they encounter the love of Jesus and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We see that Jesus is readying His bride for His return.

And we say, “Jesus, we want in!” This is what He’s given us grace to embrace, individually and as a couple, as our vocations: participation in this new thing He is doing, though it cost us much. We long to see His Kingdom come in our world.

We don’t hope for what we already have, but for what we do not yet have. And as we hope, we wait for it patiently (Romans 8:24-25). So, we are hoping for something that is both a here-and-now and a not-yet Word. There is much that is yet far-off, and the images ahead are fuzzy, not yet in focus. But He’s setting us on stepping stones here and now, confirming and affirming to our spirits through many means that each of our steps is in conjunction with His.

What does this look like, practically speaking?

24-7 Prayer[1] is a group of friends scattered around the world committed to the marriage of Prayer, Mission and Justice. This is the context God has put us in to journey deeper into this vocation He’s assigned us. We are involved in 24-7 Prayer USA in three different areas (here’s some copy-and-paste action from their websites):

  • Boiler Rooms: A 24-7 Boiler Room is a simple Christian community (one might even say Church) that practices a daily rhythm of prayer, study and celebration, while caring actively for the poor and the lost. A 24-7 Boiler Room exists to love God in prayer and to love its neighbors in practice.  These purposes are contextualized in community and expressed in a defined location.
  • Transit: a 9-month opportunity to live as part of a Boiler Room community, experiencing a monastic lifestyle of prayer, study and action. 24-7 Transit has been tailor-made to equip disciples for the two great adventures of life:
    – the inward journey of spiritual formation
    – the outward journey of social transformation
  • Campus America: an effort to mobilize [unceasing] 24-7 prayer on all 2,614 university, college and seminary campuses in America in 2010. It’s an invitation to a generation that really could change the course of many thousands of lives, impacting the poor, and spreading the good news about Jesus. What happens as a result of such an unprecedented wave of prayer is really up to God.

Both of us are a part of the core leadership team for an emerging boiler room here in Madison. After a year of meeting to listen to God and build solid relationships, we are venturing out into more practical expressions[2] of our values[3] in the form of regular prayer rhythms, hosting pilgrims in need of rest, and weekly open gatherings for prayer, worship and teaching, alternating with meal-sharing.

The Madison Boiler Room hosts students for nine months at a time who are called Transit Students. As a Transit mentor, Brooke will be discipling four college-aged Transit girls weekly, being present for them in this deeply transformative, beautiful and difficult, year. It is both a small thing and a profound thing, this commitment to be available and attentive to the spiritual formation of these young women.

Brooke and Tim are dreaming about a call to the poor, believing that there is a special place for the poor in the heart of God. We’re pressing into God to give us assignments that will bring us into places where broken and hurting people await the restorative touch of His love. Maybe it will be through volunteering with homelessness organizations, or jumping on board with a team of area intercessors committed to praying the kingdom into one of madison’s poorest (and more crime-ridden) neighborhoods. We hope it will mean frequently sitting down to home-cooked meals with them, not in a social services model, where one is the giver and the other the recipient, but in authentic friendship that invites them into supportive social structures again. We want our home and our church community to be open-handed and have [literal] open doors to the “least of these,” and we recognize a special grace on the two of us to pioneer that effort on behalf of the entire boiler room.

At the beginning of 2009, Tim accepted the role of State Coordinator for Wisconsin in the Campus America project. He is building a state-wide team of student organizers and older-generation prayer supporters across the state, providing guidance for setting up prayer rooms on campuses, traveling to meet with and encourage students, networking them with one another, the Campus Wisconsin blog and other resources for encouragement. He’s also organizing a couple of state-wide gatherings in the 2009-2010 academic year.

In addition to all of this, Tim is working as a job coach for developmentally disabled adults and Brooke is a cook at a small day care center down the street, as well as assisting area wedding photographers from time to time.

Do you know how many days there are pangs of desire in our heart to have a steady, full-time, salaried job with benefits? Do you know how much it eases our anxieties to think about having earned income that is sufficient to meet our expenses, plus afford an occasional vacation? (Oh, it’s tempting!) That’s the track we were individually pursuing before He pursued us right outta there. We would both rather “earn our keep” any day, and we have been always and ever wiling to work. We’ll work part-time no matter what, at jobs that are not prestigious, because it’s an intersection point for people in our city who may be hungry for Jesus. But whenever we go back to God with the question of working full-time again, all we hear is “No”. It seems that in our line of work there’s something to be said for having time and energy to be available and ready, something that a full time job detracts from. We’re beginning to wonder whether we’ve been irrevocably called out of the standard American career track, contrary to all common-sense wisdom. And if not irrevocably, at least for a season of undetermined length.

Now here is some serious financial transparency: Our combined regular, adjusted gross income is approximately $1,450. On this we can get by, as long as we have our student loans in deferment, have no health insurance or health care, never travel, and don’t have any savings. Haha. Obviously, that’s not a great set-up. Our estimated budget, were we to add on those other things that we’ve been doing without, would be about $2,100. That’s discrepancy of about $650/mo.

So here it is again: following Jesus in spite of things not making sense of lining up, in spite of them seeming irrational, irresponsible, or even impossible.

And I (brooke) hope to get better at this thing. I hope to learn how to much more quickly return to a place of confident waiting on God, rather than so often ringing my hands together and scheming to make things work out for us. I’m glad to have such a patient teacher in my Papa God.

[1] (USA) or (international)

[2] The 6 Practices of the Madison Boiler Room are as follows: Prayer and Worship, Witness, Justice and Mercy, Hospitality and Pilgrimage, Discipleship (Learning), Creativity, Sabbath and Celebration.

[3] The Madison Boiler Room is a Christ-centered family of friends pursuing authenticity in relationships, unity in the church, and restoration in the world through prayer and practice.