Desert Diary #3
We're experiencing quite the phenomenon over in our neck of the woods here in Texas. If you live anywhere remotely close to the coast, you'll be driving along asking yourself, "Is there a fire? Did the smog suddenly become depressingly visible? Or are my sunglasses just super smudged?" No, none of the above. This haze we're experiencing is dust blown more than 5,000 miles across the Atlantic from the Sahara Desert in Africa.
That is surreal. I'm looking out the window at a hazy grey, what should be a blue 9 am sky, here at camp, and it's just mind blowing to think that this dust was once in the renown, rough and tumble Sahara Desert. It is all quite mysterious for me personally, because in the last two days I've done a lot of reading and thinking about desert seasons. I've written about them here before (post #1 and post #2), but honestly, as my personal desert season has continued to linger on, I've quit writing about it and just been quiet. But today, with this Saharan haze suspended above, it just feels right to write.
There is so much I could say about desert seasons in life, but today I'll keep it simple and brief. Seasons of spiritual wilderness, waiting, wandering, whatever you want to call it, can be painful and difficult. Often such seasons can stir questions of doubt and why God? I think to a normal human, this is logical. Naturally, when things start to get weird, we stop and think, "Okay, what's going on here?" I believe this pause is one of the beginning steps God wants of us in a desert season.
Right now, I'm reading a book about Moses that Chuck Swindoll wrote, and it's absolutely amazing. In a chapter I just finished, Swindoll narrows in on Deuteronomy 32:10-12. I don't know what your desert season looks like or what you're going through, but regardless, the following is true:
He found them in a desert land,
in an empty, howling wasteland.
He surrounded them and watched over them;
He guarded them as He would guard His own eyes.
Like an eagle that rouses her chicks
and hovers over her young,
so He spread His wings to take them up
and carried them safely on His pinions.
The Lord alone guided them;
they followed no foreign gods.
The italics are mine - I wanted to make those phrases stick out. This passage is referring to how God acted on behalf of the Israelites during their 40 year desert season (they literally wandered through and lived in a desert for 40 years following their exodus from captivity in Egypt). This portion of scripture comes from a song Moses sang over the people right after Joshua becomes their leader (Joshua will be the one to lead the nation to the Promise Land). Moses sings that in the desert God did 4 things for the Israelites. And today, briefly, I want to say that God is doing the same for you in your desert.
1. He surrounds you.
If you've been in a season of wandering, you know it can be incredibly lonely and isolating. Actually, in the book, Swindoll says that isolation is a really important part of the desert. When every day feels like a losing fight against whatever hardship this season has brought upon you, it is incredibly easy to believe that God has abandoned you. Not so. He has surrounded you. He is all around you - on every side. He is with you in the isolation, Immanuel. But not only is he with you, surrounding you, He is watching over you and guarding you.
#2. He watches over you and guards you.
If you feel God has abandoned you, it is easy to believe He is no longer watching over you and protecting you. I get it. The wilderness presents an every day battle against the lie that God is not good or faithful. But, have you ever considered that this wilderness season is God doing just that, watching over and guarding you? Perhaps in a way we can't understand, this season is the very thing we need most. In a way we can't fathom, this time is God caring for us more than He ever has in the past. Not a day is wasted with the Lord. His law is perfect, reviving the soul. His statues are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7) I believe this time of struggle, this desert, is God watching over and guarding you in a way so intense and loving you wouldn't believe Him if He told you all He is doing on your behalf. You couldn't ask for or imagine the beautiful things He will do through this time in the wilderness.
#3. He carries you.
You're exhausted and disillusioned and every night you fall into bed at the end of your ability to go on. He is carrying you. When your feet fail you and you don't have the strength to move, He picks you up and carries your feeble frame. Look for this. In my wilderness, this has looked like daily bread. Like tiny, perfectly portioned provisions to get me to tomorrow. I'll be utterly at the end of myself and He shows up, right on time, with a love note to tell me He's got me, that He's carrying my heart in His hands, and that He'll bring me home. He doesn't give me any answers or tell me when this time will end, He just tells me He's near, and I've learned that even at the end of myself, that's really all I need. More than answers to my questions or guidance or and end to my desert season, I really just need to know that He is carrying me.
#4. He guides you.
Perhaps you feel directionless. You have no idea where to go to get out of this pressing, yet wholly purposeful, desert season. He guides you. He will give you the daily bread you need to continue trusting. And, when the time is right, He will give you the direction you need to walk on. I believe this will be the last thing He does, because it will mean the waiting is over and it's time for you to enter the next season, the Promise Land, if you will. But don't rush to this step. He will give you the steps you need when it is time. No day is wasted with the Lord. If you don't know His guidance yet, then you don't yet need it.
So my encouragement to you? Enjoy the desert. It truly is a time for romance. He surrounds you, watches and guards, carries and guides you. You have no reason to fear. He is near. Enjoy this season because it is important, even necessary. What do you gain from seasons of lack? Abundance. To understand this, you must experience it. Enjoy the dust, enjoy the barrenness, enjoy and thank God for every moment of waiting. Praise God every night, as the Saharan sun sets on your desert season, because you know He's with you, making the barren beautiful, and this too shall pass.
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Seems so weird to write a post introducing myself, but I figure maybe you'd like to know who you're hearing from in all these posts. I'll start doing short installments of introductions because that sounds like fun, right? So this will be the first of my "About Emily" posts, and I'll stick to the basics!
Here goes nothing.
#1 - I am a believer.
I had to start here because this is what drives every aspect of my life. My faith in God is my root system, so my hope and prayer is that everything that grows out of my life would reflect my love for Jesus. I grew up in a Christian home (actually I'm a preacher's kid), but my faith became my own the summer before my freshman year of high school. That was when I decided I wanted to really seek God on my own, and the moment I did, I found an intimate relationship with Him.
#2 - I'm married!
I've been married to Kenton Boone for almost 4 years now and I love him dearly. He is my greatest cheerleader, encourager, hero, and best friend. We're very different, but we're also super similar if that even makes sense? Our most common date scenario is getting Cane's, eating in the car while we watch one of our shows (right now it's Brooklyn 99 AND I LOVE IT) and then getting fro-yo. Maybe that's sad to admit, but that's a super restful, happy date for us.
Photo by friend and fellow photographer, Shelby.
#3 - I'm a portrait and wedding photographer.
I've been doing photography since 2016, but I went full out, full time, and started my business (Emily Boone Photography) in October last year. I absolutely love what I get to do and growing more skillful in this craft is one of my favorite things and driving forces. My favorite thing about shooting weddings is getting to invest in my couples by being an encourager and supporter in addition to a photographer they can rely on. I also love shooting portraits, couples and newborns, and getting to enjoy the more leisurely pace and atmosphere of portrait photography!
Photos from a styled shoot I did last year.
#4 - I still go to summer camp every summer.
That's right! My husband is a summer camp director at Camp Allen, and for the past three summers we've packed up our lives and moved out to a cabin in the piney woods of Navasota, Texas. Summer camp life is as fun and crazy as you'd expect, and a bit challenging too. While Kenton leads staff at camp all day, I work on my business from our cabin and spend a lot of happy time with my lovely coworkers, Bowie and Howie.
My fur babies in our little cabin.
#5 - Home is my favorite.
Like, my favorite. I love to decorate and fully live in a space. I love and need days where all I do is stay at home. This is something I've known about myself since I was in college at Baylor, but the past three summers of living at camp in a cabin in the woods have shown me how important my space is to me. Having a pretty, special area for me to write, work, and unlock the creative part of my heart is a huge part of maintaining balance in my life. Living in a cabin that isn't ours for three summers has taught me to find that creative space regardless of my circumstances. But it's also taught me that it's okay to do what I need to do to create an environment where I can work and write and dream!
A few moments from our home in Navasota last fall before we moved out this summer.
#6- Exercise and outdoors!
Two of my very favorite things that define who I am and where I came from. I've loved outside my entire life. I grew up water skiing at my Gdad's lake house on Lake Austin, playing horse in my back yard with my sister, and making mud slides at my cousin's home on the green belt in south Austin. I also love and crave activity, and in addition to being an avid hiker, stroller, and equestrian, I've been a member at Yoga Pod in College Station since January and it's been the best thing ever.
Photos from our recent staycation at Gdad's Lake House in Austin.
#7 - We're moving to College Station/Bryan in the fall.
We have been living in Navasota for the past almost three years, but after feeling some nudges from the Lord, we're moving to the BCS area when summer camp ends. We're super excited about the move and I'm thrilled for the doors it will open with my business and community!
Bonus Fact - I hit 26 and suddenly needed glasses.
This one is just for kicks and giggles, but I recently developed an astigmatism (getting older is so fun) and Kenton (in good humor and so lovingly) will sometimes poke fun at my "football eyes." Apparently astigmatism is caused by having eyes that are shaped more oblong and less spherical. Also, everyone says I look like my mom with my glasses on.
Photo from a Doobie Brothers concert with my dad and sister. This was one of my first outings with glasses last year, haha.
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I have a habit of picking up stray dogs. Since moving to an area where people will dump unwanted dogs, I've stopped more times than I can count. It's a really sad reality and it always impacts me tremendously. It's next to impossible for me to pass by a dog on the road and not stop. My family calls me Dr. Doolittle because I love animals so much (more on that here if you're interested). Back in the fall I picked up a cute little lab mix with a limp, and after lots of social media sharing and calling around, I discovered he'd most likely been dumped. Thanks to the Facebook, I was able to find a really sweet couple who wanted to provide him with a new home. It was such a win.
The other day I was driving home from a meeting and had to stop in the middle of a highway to avoid hitting a pup who was wandering pretty aimlessly across the road. I turned around and got out of my car and she came right to me. I opened my car door and she hopped right in. That's usually half the battle. After posting on websites and calling around, it seemed this little girl had a sad story, too. Only this time, I couldn't wait much longer for the social media sharing to pay off and find someone to adopt her. K and I were leaving town and I had no choice but to take her to a shelter.
This little girl is the sweetest dog. She would crumble at your feet when you pet her and she'd lick your hand if you reached out to say hi. This was someone's baby. She had to be. But she had these horrific mats in her fur that indicated she'd endured a major lack of care for quite a while. Yet she wasn't too skinny, so she'd been fed. And she was so very well behaved... it was just a mystery how she ended up in this circumstance. And that really broke me, because I didn't have any more time to give to her.
Dropping her at the shelter was bad. I cried the whole time. I literally couldn't even hide it or hold it in. I was overcome with sadness to add this sweet girl to the 800 (yes, 800) other dogs at the shelter who had sad stories, too. I'd prayed over this dog since the moment I got her, asking that God would help me find her home. Yet circumstances were making it clear this was my only option. I had to leave her there. So through tears I uttered one last covering over her, asking God to redeem her sad story and bring her home, and watched a shelter employee take her away.
Fast forward to about 10 pm that evening when I'm taking Tylenol to try and relieve the terrible headache that was plaguing me because I'd cried so much (I'm just being super real with you. I cried a lot.) I put The Great British Baking Show on my phone to get the day off my mind and I receive an email from Pawboost, a site where I listed her as a found dog. Turns out a friend of a friend recognized the dog and contacted the suspected owner. Moments later I'm talking to a girl who says the dog belongs to her uncle, that her name is Jenny and that she's been missing for a year and a half.
Guys, this story ends with such joy. This precious animal has been reunited with her family after being lost for over 500 days. Who knows where she'd been or who kept her alive all this time, but she's home now. Home.
I hung up the phone and just stared at the ceiling. You heard my prayer, God. God, how sweet you are, how kind and gentle.
It looked like it would end at the shelter. Like her last chance at redemption was me. It looked like this story would end differently than the last dog I picked up. Well, it did.
This dog is home now. And that's a miracle. There's no other way to explain it. How on earth did her owners see my posts about a pet they lost so long ago? Certainly they'd stopped searching. Certainly it seemed it was time to throw in the towel and move on. Give up hope and surrender to the sad ending.
Wow. I'm in awe of You, God. You care about everything. Jesus himself said that not a single sparrow falls to the ground without you knowing about it. You care about animals. You see them all. And if you care about animals, how much more must you care about us, the ones You made in Your own image? The ones who "are more valuable than a whole flock of sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-30).
I know God brought Jenny home because he cares about her. She's part of the work He called "good" in the very beginning. But I know God also brought Jenny home for me. I'm in a season of being lost myself. Kenton and I are waiting on God for some things and sometimes it feels like we're walking aimlessly along the road, trying to get home with no compass. If God can get Jenny home after being missing for over a year, He can get us home too.
But I think God did this for you, too. In a world of violent shootings and broken governments and terrorism, you need to know that God is in the minutia. He's in the tiny details as much as He's in the sky. How insignificant is Jenny's story? She's a dog. And yet He is in her story. He is in your story, too. He is a Good Father, and He sees you and He knows you. He sees your rising up and your sitting down, your coming and your going. He knows the hairs on your head, your secret dreams, the tears you cry. If He can get Jenny home, He can get you home too. I drove away from the shelter with my hope waning. It seemed the story had ended. But with God the story never ends. Even as hope is lost, He is still working. Even when the door closes and the heart breaks and the fears are realized, He is behind the scenes, knitting something all together good and lovely.
I looked up what the name Jenny means because I do that. And knowing God, I knew it would apply here. It turned out better than I could have hoped. The name Jenny means God has been gracious. What are the odds that a girl with a sensitive heart for animals and a desire to spread truth just happened upon a lost dog who happened to have been lost for over a year? And then that girl just happens to find the owners and the dog's name just happens to be Jenny which just happens to mean that God has been gracious? Goodness, He's in every single detail!!! Down to the name of the dog who got lost and now, by His grace, is found! He is a good good Father and He cares about our cares!
But what about the 799 other dogs who are still at the shelter? What about the stories that seem to have ended in hopelessness? What about the many others who are still lost and waiting to be found?
God is in their story, too.
He sees them.
He cares for them.
He sees you and He cares for you.
God, if You're in the tiny details of this dog's life, if You hear my crying prayers, asking for You to redeem the story of this animal, how much more are You in the details of my life and my story? How much more will you bring me home, Father? I have no reason to doubt, no reason to fear. Even as my hope wanes, I know You are behind the scenes, working on my behalf, writing a story for my good and Your glory. You hear my prayers, You see my heart, and You are trustworthy. Thank you God for Your great love and for Your faithfulness.
God, You have been gracious.
Jenny is now home with her family after being lost for a year and a half. No story is hopeless! Pulling over to rescue strays can be hard, inconvenient, and you need to look out for your safety over an animal's safety. However, I hope this amazing story will encourage you to do the hard, sometimes right thing, and help a family reunite with their lost pet. Posting photos on Facebook, in your city's "lost and found pets" Facebook groups, posting on Pawboost or Petfinder, and calling shelters and vets are all extremely effective ways to initiate sweet reunions with pets and their families. Social media can be a drag sometimes, but when it comes to getting lost pets home or re-homed, it can be very powerful! And if you feel called to be the happy ending for one of the 799 dogs at Jenny's shelter, you can go here.
But more than that, I pray this story gives you hope for your story, that God sees you, cares for you, and nothing in your life is beyond His redeeming love and power.
In this post, I allow my inner animal lover to fully emerge, because I really love animals. My grandfather calls me Dr. Doolittle. And I love it. And it's accurate. I love dogs and horses and birds and guinea pigs and cows and whales and basically all animals.
But this post isn't about horses or dogs or goats, it's ...
all about Pet bunnies!!
WARNING: Prepare for an overkill amount of photos and videos. I wanted to paint a very accurate picture of what rabbits are like as a pet and how they can interact with people and how adorable they are. So if you hate cute stuff, then I encourage you to scroll to the next post. But if you do like cute stuff....
Then meet our bunny, William Howard Taft, or Howie.
Howie is part Lionhead and part Dwarf Rabbit, or so the pet store told me. He definitely has a little half lion mane which breaks my heart it's so cute, but nothing about this dude is Dwarf - he's a chunker.
I've had Howie (or How, Bub, Little Bub, Little, or Lit) since June 2013. I was a youth pastor then, and we'd just gotten back from our very first summer camp as a youth group and I'd planned the entire thing. I reminisced with my dear friend Shelby recently, who interned for me that summer, who recounted the story though belly laughs. Apparently, she left me for a weekend to rest after camp, and came back and I had a bunny. All I remember is being in an almost depression-like state after camp because I'd planned it for so long and it went so well and I had no clue what to do with myself when it was over. So... I got a bunny. Bounced back no prob after that. Thx How. But when Shelby got back she was all, "I leave you alone for one weekend and you get a rabbit!" I acknowledge that a young twenty something having a pet rabbit is, perhaps, out of the ordinary or just plain weird. But, what a lot of people don't know is that rabbits are great pets for animal lovers and that having a rabbit as a pet doesn't make you a weird person. I mean, I am totally a weird person, but it's not because of Howie. Weird came in my genes.
That is teenage Howie. I couldn't show you baby Howie without preparing you first. He is LITERALLY (Chris Trager voice) the cutest thing I've ever seen.
So the story is my mom and I stopped by Tomlinson's pet store in Austin on the way home from lunch one Saturday when I didn't have Shelby watching me to make sure I didn't do something absurd like get a bunny. The moment I saw him I loved him. BUT HOW COULD YOU NOT? That tiny white dot on his nose is so unfair. However, we did leave without him, but I kept thinking about him. I was dating Kenton at the time and asked what he thought about me getting a bunny/asked if it was okay, because I knew we were going to get married. Even if he said no, I would have gotten him anyway, because the next day I went back to see if he was still there and came home with my new baby bun.
When he was a baby he had a crazy mane and tufts of hair on both sides of this tail and I died every time I looked at him.
He didn't stay little long. But big How is just as cute as little How.
Howie has been a big part of my life. God speaks to me through animals. He always has. God has used Howie to show me His love many times. He's part of my family. So it's not abnormal for him to be included in life events. These inclusions are super obvious choices for me, but I'm also self aware enough to know they're a little extra and probably peculiar. But I'm Dr. Doolittle, so I super don't care.
Howie had a cameo at our engagement session, which still makes us laugh.
And Little Bub made it to our wedding rehearsal too.... I'm dying laughing at this. My sister Sara told me she had a surprise for me and I get to the lake (where K and I got married) and HOWIE IS THERE BY THE TREE AKA THE ALTAR. So regal.
Howie did NOT make it to our honeymoon in Kauai, but here he is chillin with my dad while we were gone.
While we were in Kauai my parents would let him play in the backyard and he was so bad. My dad could never catch him, so he resorted to throwing a towel on him to snatch him up before he could dart off again.
Okay here's another good one. For one of the Easter services I taught when I was a youth pastor, I brought Howie out at the end. I can't remember what point I made with him, but I'm sure it was a stretch. I just wanted to find a way to bring my rabbit to church. We also had a puppy at church once, and that was AWESOME.
Howie is awesome. He's my favorite little guy. I love him so much, and I have a lot of people ask me about him and what it's like to own a bunny. And I say IT'S GREAT. But there are a lot of little details about owning a bunny that people don't expect. It's not all fun and games, though most of the time, for me, it is. So this blog post has been a long time coming, and I hope to answer all the questions you have about having a pet bunny.
All about pet bunnies
This is a the little garden that Kenton built for me! You can see the Rosemary and Oregano I planted over 2 years ago are really thriving. What you can't see is the Cilantro popping up sporadically and the Peppermint that has totally taken over any free space. When I'd tend to the garden, Bowie would always come over and I'd trick him into eating Peppermint leaves by saying, "You want a treat?" And now he loves Peppermint. Isn't that funny? It helps to soothe an upset tummy and it does improve his breath, but only for a little bit, haha.
On my left side you can also see the Jasmine I planted last Spring that has slowly started to take over the chain link fence. That's exactly what I wanted and I'm excited for the tenants who will enjoy that gorgeous vine for years to come! That little Jasmine plant is special to me, and it's the flower God gave that I wrote about back in October. Also it smells like heaven.
Back to those herbs... maybe this is a little wrong, but I would use all the herbs in that garden to cook and eat except the Oregano. I planted it before I really knew much about it, and we just don't eat Italian food very often. However, I still used that Oregano like CRAZY... in my house! When I couldn't afford grocery store flowers because I chose ice cream over roses (real life) I would fill every extra vase in my house with Oregano and Rosemary and it would make the house so happy. Also, I found that the Oregano, if I picked it right, could last in a vase with water for weeks. It would begin to grow little roots and thrive in a vase for quite a while!
Okay, we took photos on the couches because Kenton LOVES THESE COUCHES. Loves them. And we're grateful for them, because they were a really sweet gift from his parents who basically knew he loved them and let us furnish our house with them. As I look at the details in these photos, I see that this happens a lot in our lives, because that lampshade is one my mom gave me. As are a few of the pillow covers! And those little rocks in the lamp? Those were a wedding gift from the girls in the youth group I lead when we lived in Austin. They each wrote a verse I'd shared with them or they'd learned while they knew me. UGHHH this sweet gift still gets to me. Love you ACFnw girlzies!!!
The big trunk was a Warrenton find a few trips back. It was so dirty I basically sprayed it with a hose and discovered that lovely green color. The frames on the wall hold sketches of scenes from the Rocky Mountain National Park that I found at a thrift store in Estes Park.