This is where Nathan Clendenin shares photos, projects and other thoughts

U2 and the Boston Marathon Bombing

I’m not usually one to weigh in on big national events. I don’t usually think fast enough to say anything relevant within the timeframe that people are still thinking about it. But this morning I woke up in a U2 mood. As “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” came on, I had one of the revelation moments that I absolutely love about music. You’ve heard the song hundreds or even thousands of times. But at that moment something in the lyrics clicks and you “get it.”

I have climbed highest mountain
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

When I was first introduced to Bono and his crew in high school, I was drawn to this song. But something bothered me about it. It wasn’t until college that I put my finger on it. If Bono (or whoever the character in the song is) has searched for God all over, why hasn’t he found God yet? There are promises in scripture like, “Those who seek shall find, and to those who knock the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7). I see now that’s not what he’s trying to say.

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

After spending a year in South Africa with my wife Rebecca, I gained a different picture of the Kingdom of God. A fuller picture, if you will. I always thought the Kingdom was pretty much like saying, “Heaven” in that it was a distant place you’d someday reach after death, if you believed in Jesus. But in that year, as we saw the Kingdom of God advancing right in front of our eyes, the Lord’s Prayer came to life, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” We say the Kingdom advancing in into dark, dirty and broken places. We felt the darkness lifting, we saw the smiles begin to crack, and we sensed that new life was coming to being in the people we visited. The Kingdom of God became less abstract, and more tangible, though still a bit mysterious. For more detail on that along with some real stories check out our post on Mamelodi Stories.

I believe in the Kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well yes I’m still running

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it

The “aha” moment I had today with this song (in my own humble interpretation) is that Bono is talking about the longing we have for God’s Kingdom to come into this world, because clearly it hasn’t come yet. He’s found God, had religious experiences and it’s all real, but he hasn’t found what he’s ultimately looking for, because it’s not here yet. There’s still a deep longing to see the world get along and to see justice in our lands.

When we see events like what happened at the Boston marathon, it reminds us that this world is not what it is supposed to be. We look for answers. We look for someone to blame. But really we should pray harder, and as the last verse of the song clings to the promises of the gospel, so should we. Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come to earth, so that one day things will be here like they are in Heaven.

“You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains, carried the cross of my shame” is a statement big enough for me, for you, and it’s definitely big enough for a murderous bomber. Because really, when I’m honest with who I am and stop pretending, I’m only a few choices away from being a bomber myself.

Praise You Lord for Your mercy. May Your Kingdom come to Boston, Lord. May Your Kingdom advance in our hearts, making things here on earth like they are in Heaven.

As you see the coverage, look for those redemptive moments. Look for those helping, because I believe many people have already been praying, and God is already answering. It’s there if you have eyes to see it. Feel free to link to posts or coverage that shows that redemption in the comments.

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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under Events and tagged , , , and posted on April 16, 2013 at 9:16 am.

India Day Five and Six


While reading and looking, consider listening to the beautiful voices sing a traditional farewell song by clicking play above.

This is my last night here at the rural village of Bhogpur before I travel back to Delhi to catch a flight back home. I’m excited to be returning to my wife and boys and a normal routine, but I’m definitely feeling sad about leaving the children here. Fortunately, I’ll get to re-live lots of my time here as I edit the video I’ve been shooting here for Bhogpur Children’s home. Before I leave, we’ll have shot 10 interviews (not counting informal ones with about 15 of the children), all kinds of activities including soccer, volleyball, playground games, school scenes, devotions and anything else happening.

On Friday we visited a nearby town called Rishikesh, which is probably most famous internationally for it’s Yoga. The Beatles spent some time there writing most of the White Album. We were there specifically to find a leper colony, since the children at the home all have parents with leprosy. According to law (and societal forces), anyone with the disease can only live in a colony, which determines that one’s life will consist of begging and little hope of anything else. While visiting the colony in Rishikesh, we asked to pray for one of the women who wasn’t feeling well. She denied us saying, “There’s no hope for me. Don’t waste your breath.” The children at the home are given a chance to break out of that hopeless cycle. After seeing some street children in Rishikesh, and visiting the colony, Psalm 40 was on my heart.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
-Psalm 40

This trip has been a confirmation of my calling (which didn’t need much confirmation actually) to tell stories of the great things going on in the world. Stories of redemption. Stories where God gets all the glory.

My heart is full. And I’ll be leaving part of it behind (which means I guess I’ll have to come back with Bec and the boys!).

A woman with lepracy stands outside her room at the colony in Rishikesh where she's forced to live apart from society.

A woman with lepracy stands outside her room at the colony in Rishikesh where she’s forced to live apart from society.


Rishikesh, international center of Yoga and a Hindu holy city.

Cricket Boys

Boys get goofy after a game of Cricket.

Girls Portrait

Me and my Helpers

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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under Travel, Work and tagged , , , and posted on April 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm.

India Day Three

Didn’t take as many photos since I was shooting almost all video. But here are a few from Wednesday. And a couple from Thursday early morning.









Day Four Early




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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under Travel, Work and tagged and posted on April 4, 2013 at 6:37 am.

India Day Two

I’ll be shooting a lot more video from here out, but here’s some from today! I am loving it here. The pace is much slower and while I’ll be busy the rest of the week, there’s plenty of time for horsing around with kids and wandering a bit here and there.









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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under Travel, Work and posted on April 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm.

India Day One














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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under Travel, Work and posted on April 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm.

Shekait Tesfa Mikael and Her Beautiful Family

Our wonderful caregiver, Shekait, or as we call her “Miss Kait,” is from Eritrea. Many of her children live here in North Carolina, but her daughter lives in London. When they visit, it’s a big deal, and I was very happy to take some family photos for them. View more of them here.

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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under General and tagged , , , , and posted on October 10, 2012 at 9:04 am.

Camping. Unplugging. Messing Around with Photos.

Last weekend SJ and I tried camping with our friends Bobby and Marcus. It rained. We slept in puddles. Except for fellowship with Bobby, and watching the boys eat marshmallows (cooked in the rain) in the tent, it was quite an adventure.

We tried again this weekend up near Blowing Rock, NC, at the Julian Price park, this time with Bec and Henry along (and my sister joined us the following day).  It was perfect weather on Friday night. The best cool fall sleeping weather imaginable.  And Henry thoroughly enjoyed his first time camping. We snagged a hotel for Saturday night, and it was quite nice to wake up to rain on Sunday and not be in a tent!

Besides being great family fun, I enjoyed unplugging all weekend, and playing with photos just for fun.  Enjoy the photos below!

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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under Henry Owen, SJ, Vacation and tagged , , , , , , , and posted on October 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm.

Steal Like An Artist


I love books. I have a lot of them on my shelf that I’ve started but not finished.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon isn’t going to be one of them. It’s just what I’ve been hoping to discover – its all about finding yourself as an artist.

That’s one of the goals I set this past January with no real idea how to go about it. This book is going to help. Sweet.

Here are a few quotes, only a fraction of the plethora of inspiring statements that I wish I’d have thought of.

“Garbage In, Garbage Out: you’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.” p. 15

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.” -John Cleese

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.” -Jessica Hische

I’m about halfway done and eager to finish. Then probably re-read with a pen to make real actionable notes.  Thanks Carolyn for the recommendation!

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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under General and posted on July 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm.

Henry Owen at 36 Weeks

I’m sitting here looking over my computer screen at my son, Henry Owen, born just 5 days ago. I think I’m in love now. I also think I’m reeling from his unexpected early arrival and the weight of fathering a family of four. I certainly don’t have many complete thoughts or profound statements to share, but I do have a few words and of course some photos.


Rebecca woke me up around 6am on Wednesday morning with, “Don’t be alarmed, but there’s some spotting going on down there.” She immediately called her friend and OB Jen Thompson to get her thoughts. Jen said it could be normal but if it continued to definitely get checked out. It continued. So we called our nanny Ms. Kait to come early and hopped into the car. I was wearing what I had picked up off the floor that morning, though Rebecca did have a motherly instinct to bring our birth plan documents and even a onesie. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the next day I was schedule to fly out early for a wedding in Idaho. Needless to say we were concerned about me being away if something was going down.

On the way to the hospital to get checked out, Rebecca felt a few contractions, though mild. She only recognized them because they were familiar from SJ’s birth 2.5 years ago. When we got into triage at Duke Hospital, midwife Eve said, “We’ll get you checked out and back home in 30 minutes.” When she checked Rebecca she was already at 5cm dilated! HAHA!! We both burst out laughing! They moved us from triage to checking us into our birth room.

Don’t miss more photos below.

Labor and Delivery

You may already know that Rebecca and I are big proponents of natural, non-medicated birth. Rebecca’s body was designed to give birth and I was blown away once again at how well she did. As her husband, I am so proud of her endurance, strength and especially her joy in giving birth! Her confidence, poise and inner beauty lit up that birthing room and set a tone of quiet strength that everyone else followed. I wasn’t the only one praising my wife—our nurse and midwife remarked that Rebecca was their ideal patient and were just as excited about the experience as I was.

Rebecca, whether God blesses us with more biological children or not, you are in inspiration to me and to all women who strive to let their bodies lead them in natural child birth. I love you. Let’s keep having adventures together!

Back to how the day unfolded: The first few hours were spent scrambling to put everyone on notice and put plan B into motion for the Idaho wedding to be covered (more on that below). My sister was instrumental in caring for SJ after Ms. Kait went home and in bringing us some things from home since we were ill-prepared when we left the house.

Labor progressed pretty quickly and at one point I had bets going for a 3pm delivery. I was off, but only by a few hours, since at 6:03pm I reached out and caught my son, Henry Owen, and handed him into his mother’s arms. It was a beautiful experience. I think because we had done it before, we knew more about what to expect, which allowed both of us to be even more connected to one another and to the entire process. An added bonus was right before second stage labor, Rebecca’s OB friend Jen showed up, suited up and was present to witness the birth and pitch in.

Awesome Staff

We can’t say enough great things about the staff we had on our team at Duke. The midwife practice has exemplified “people over practice” throughout the entire process, starting with Rebecca’s first prenatal visit when pregnant with Samuel. Our midwife Sue allowed us lots of space and offered guidance where asked or needed. Our nurse Jennifer Justice was also a rock star. When Michelle and best friend Bill Ross laid hands on Rebecca during labor and prayed for us, Jennifer joined in with us—all of us praising God for new life. Jennifer even visited us in our post-delivery room the next day, still on a high from the experience of Rebecca’s labor and Henry’s birth. Though my loyalties remain with UNC, I have to give props to the Duke Birthing Center.

Late Pre-Term Baby

Henry is technically a pre-term baby which means his lungs and sucking reflex could have been dangerously under-developed. Thankfully they were not and he’s been breathing, eating, pooping and peeing like a champ since day one. The only difference really is that we are working to create a very calm environment for him over the next month so he can sleep and grow. That’s pretty much all he’s been doing so far, with a few minutes of awake time here and there where he makes all kinds of funny faces.

What does it mean to love two children?

When I witnessed SJ and Henry meet for the first time and looked at both of their faces, it hit me what loving two children might mean. My love for SJ did not diminish, but instead my heart expanded. In fact, my heart is still expanding as I get to know my new son, studying his features, listening to his coos and serving him 24/7.

Plan B is Bittersweet

Of the weddings I am shooting this year (around 15), I was most looking forward to Ashley and Anuj’s. Not for the idyllic Idaho scenery, not for the adventure of a new place with new people. I was looking forward most of all the celebrating with Ashley, who I’ve known for close to 20 years, getting to know her husband and their family and friends and most of all serving them with a documentation of the day’s emotions and events. Only witnessing the birth of my son would have trumped that experience, and as it turns out it did. I am extremely grateful for God’s timing that labor started before I got onto a plane and would have been away for four days (Rebecca is even more grateful)!

I had a lot of peace letting go of shooting Ashley’s wedding mainly because I knew that the backup photographer, Carolyn Van Houten, would do a stellar job, would be able to handle any issues that came up, and wouldn’t be phased by the pressure of knowing that this wedding was a big deal to me. She absolutely rocked it, and if you want to see for yourself, check out the preview on the Cana Collective facebook page.

Carolyn, thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to be fully present at the birth of my son, not worrying about anything related to Ashley’s wedding. Thank you for your flexibility in dropping everything to go to Idaho, for taking care of every detail and not the least for rockin’ the shoot and serving Ashley and Anuj well! Cheers to Carolyn!

Now it’s time to sign off and get some rest, for a few hours at least. As I glance back over at Henry sleeping quietly, I feel at peace. Maybe getting this story out there was what I needed.

More photos of my adorable new son will certainly be posted soon and often (I say that now…). If you want to get an email when I post something new, go to the subscribe page and sign up.

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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under General, Henry Owen and posted on June 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm.

Rebecca at 36 Weeks

It’s rare I get a weekend free in June with all the folks around here getting married and stuff, but we took this rare occasion to get away to our favorite place in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Mountains around Blowing Rock, Valle Crucis and Banner Elk. It being a babymoon, we also took a few photos of child #2 in the gorgeous weather we had. Sunny and 70 is a good rule for me. We’ve got plus or minus a month to go! Then you’ll be seeing lots of baby photos up here once again.

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This entry was written by Nathan Clendenin, filed under Vacation and tagged , and posted on June 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm.
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