My Wimpy Dreams

My dreams, turns out, are way too wimpy. Like, insert the *womp, womp, womp* sounds right here wimpy. Upon this realization, amazingly enough, I didn't cry. :)

It's a little more than halfway through 2018 and also that time when I like to look back and forward all at once. To assess goals, to dream up new ones, and even to stop and awaken the parts of my heart that grow sleepy and comfortable with complacency when things still seem to have a ways to go. 

I'm reading this book right now called "All In" by Mark Batterson. In fact, I've already finished it and am actually going back and reading it a second time. Yes, it's that good and I highly recommend you stop reading this for one moment, go order it on Amazon, and then come back and continue reading my blog post. :)



The one thing that stands out about this book isn't that it gives some new and improved way to do things, to structure goals, to make dreams come true - nope. In fact, the main reason this book is phenomenal because it's actually kicking me in the @#$ in the best way possible and in fact, making me see that perhaps, JUST PERHAPS, my dreams are a bit too small. It's making me frustrated, but frustrated in a good way, frustrated in a way that makes me see that IF I say I know God, do my dreams reflect that? Am I playing offensive or defensive in my career goals, my marriage, hell, even in the my daily THINKING?!? And so far, after evaluating my lovely and structured plans for 2018, the answer is bit of an embarrassed "uh, oops. Dang, I live and dream WAAAAY too small!"

In a way this book has fanned the flame of a a fight that's been awakened in my sleepy heart, a frustration that is birthing much needed change. It's a little scary and a little exciting and a whole-lotta convicting to know that a huge chunk of me FORGOT big time that it's about charging forward to FOLLOW Jesus, not charging forward and dragging Him along to follow me. It's getting me to suddenly dream up new goals that seem impossible to achieve, but moving forward with them because in God's world "impossible/crazy" is actually the norm. 

Today I am reminded that while the idea of "reaching for the sky" is awesome, a life given over in trust to the leadership of the Almighty makes reaching for the sky seem like child's play. His plans are far greater, far grander, and ridiculously more than I can ever imagine or dream of. And while the scared/excited/frustration/fight emotions are certainly still all present in me from this huge reminder, I am finding more confidence and wholeness in what He promises of my life than even what I can dream up of my life on my own. 

P.S. Just so you know, I learned about the book "All In" from the amazing story teller and spoken word artist Hosanna Poetry - someone ya'll need to follow as well. :) 


The first time I was told I was fat...

As I pondered writing this post, I couldn't think of any other title. Because really, how many ways could you nicely title a story about the time that you were told you looked like you gained weight? Kinda limited on your options for sweet sounding story titles, you know?

I consider myself fairly healthy. Yes, I try and eat right, exercise regularly, and absolutely believe  that health is a gift to be treasured. I also believe it means balance which of course translates into moments of yes-I-sometimes-think-chips-look-prettier-than-an-apple." And chocolate? I'm a woman, 'nuff said.

This past weekend I was pulled aside by an individual at a party to be told that though I may not want to hear it, it looked like I had put on some weight. The worst part was the chuckle that followed the comment. 

And BOOM.  Just like that, someone just got bumped off my Christmas card list.

If I wrote cards. Anyway...

After playing it off and trying to graciously explained that weight-lifting causes some extra bulk, I walked away and continued to mingle with other folks at the party. But oh, man, that mortified feeling never quite left me that evening. 

Looking back on that  I realize that what bugged me even more wasn't really just what I was told, but the fact that I was so bothered by it and couldn't pull a Taylor Swift and just shake it off. Insecurity reared it's ugly head and was staring at me in the face with it's taunting grin -  no matter how hard I tried to strain and look away. I even went home and spent time examining my legs for any trace of cellulite. #pleasedontjudgeme

That simple statement of "I looked fat" suddenly had more power and hold over me than the more powerful truths of what God has said about me over and over and over again. That I am made in His image. That I am entirely loved. That I don't have to be a certain way to be accepted or validated. That He actually delights in me and sees me way beyond my physical attributes.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." - Psalm 139:14

Suddenly all that confidence I thought I had, all the truths I knew in my heart and mind momentarily went down the drain as a result of the rudeness of another individual. Yep, it was kinda sad.

And if I felt that bad over that one time comment, I can't imagine what it must be like for women who hear this kind of talk on a daily basis. About their weight, their hair, their skin, what they do, or don't do, how smart or not smart someone thinks they are, what education they need...basically, here is where your deficit is loser! Now go fix it. 

Needless to say, the struggle of surviving through hurtful and abusive words is real for many women.

What I reminded from this experience isn't necessarily that I should just try  not to think about it. Because truth be told, I just don't have that willpower. 

No, it's way  more than that. I am reminded that I can actually forgive the rude words of someone else because I am greatly forgiven by a perfect God for the times I have used my words to hurt, whether intentionally or unintentionally and even forgiven for a lot worse that I have done. I am also reminded that my security about how I see myself needs to be rooted in Christ and no one else because He is the only one whose opinion and love for me doesn't change based on my outward appearance, what I do or don't do, whether I feel awesome or not. And while that kind of love and acceptance sounds crazy and nonsensical, it's also crazy fantastic as well. 

So yeah, dearly beloved woman who might be reading this: I don't know you and you don't know me. And I know you're reflex is probably to kick the person who so lovingly said something awful to you (I had to restrain my foot as well, believe me). But I hope somehow you'd know that there is One who loves you entirely and regards you as way more than your outer appearance.  Take care of your health yes, but also know that He's crazy about you and His acceptance of you isn't swayed by what is seen by the human eyes. 

Sometimes, There Are No Words

Sometimes, there are simply no words to describe God's awesomeness, vastness, greatness. And I think that's ok.

Because in the precise moment I'm left dumbfounded and utterly speechless is when I think I actually understand it the most.

Happy Thursday!

That Ugly Vulnerability Word

There isn't really anything that is exciting about confessing your sin to other people. Well, no, I take that back, it might be exciting for them because yes, there is a chance it serves as a juicy piece of gossip from a slice of your life that is hardly revealed to the outside world. 

I was (and honestly still sometimes am) a little apprehensive of joining/being involved/ with a small group of women I had met at church. There are lots of reasons I wanted to join this group but was scared of it all at the same time. I fight constantly against the desire to take the easy route and to pull out my nice Christian mask. I am more prone to not want to get real with people when things in life are hitting the fan and I am struggling not to spin out of control hard enough for my mask to come flying off. 

It can be pretty ugly.

Basically, I am scared of the grossness that comes from being a vulnerable and broken woman. And if I'm horrified by my own junk, you can bet that the idea of even revealing a smidgen of it to other people makes me want to run off in the opposite direction and barf.

I can't speak for the dudes out there, but I sometimes think that because us women are wired to be emotional, all the challenges of life and all our junk can weigh down on us in a way that's not easy to just "get over" because it's so strongly connected to the mushy, feely stuff and isn't just a physical wound that goes away with some Neosporin and a Band-Aid.

I find it freakin' hard and freakin' great to wrestle with God, to learn more about Jesus, to follow Him. And when I say "follow Him" I don't mean, hey, I got this walk down cold, it's easy now, ya'll wanna try it? More like, I follow Him, wrestle with Him, reject Him, come back to Him, grow, follow, wrestle, reject, come back to Him, repeat, repeat, repeat. Every time, in every season, He meets me with grace and love. It's pretty nuts because I don't have much patience for people like me, so I can't even imagine how many times He could have thrown in the towel with my ways. 

I am excited and still scared and still can be lame about this whole vulnerability thing with others, but at the same time am excited and looking forward to being challenged in this new small group. 

Hope your're encouraged to not be afraid to reveal your junk to God. He's seen me hide and barf a gazillion times and yet, His love remains the same for me even when I struggle - unwavering. 



Happy Thursday, folks. 

Uphill, Downhill, Stuttering and Creatively Running with God

Let Your love be my companion
In the war gainst my pride
Long to break all vain obsession
Till you're all that I desire

-Hillsong United

When I started writing in this blog, I set out with the intention of having it be as honest as possible, sharing my work as a photographer, a woman wanting to inspire and encourage others, especially other women. While this endeavor sounds noble in itself, can I just be honest and say it hasn't always been easy to live up to and has sometimes felt like most uphill battle ever? Like, there were moments it just plain sucked.

As with many creatives and artists wanting to share their work and inspire others for the sheer joy and meaningful-ness of it, sometimes the tangled web of wanting approval traps and tragically chokes even the most innocent of our intentions, blurs our vision of what we hope the end result will be. Photographer, writer, sculptor, painter, videographer, musician, person who builds stuff out of random things you name it, I can guarantee you we have all felt this at one point or another as a creative.

For me, this trapping, cunning web stops the creative flow in my photographs, the click of my camera, causes a writing stutter as the words of my heart can't seem to find it's way to the freeing surface of a page, stops the happy tapping sound of a keyboard, can't find it's way to reach deep into the heart of a reader and encourage them the way I had hoped.

Though I can't speak for everyone else in this world, I believe that the very best of anything and everything happens when the main reason a person is doing it is to honor God, whether it it's big or small task. I believe this because even as a photographer, I recall how many of my favorite photos were a result from when my eyes were simply and freely looking for the beauty in God's creations around me (in people, things, colors, shadings of light, small and overlooked details) - not for the world's approval, not for what it could possibly yield in comments, not for any other reason than for the sheer joy of being free to creatively run. 

Simply put - I found that my best work only happens when I am free from the chains of my pride and instead am clinging on to a loving God who has not only allowed me to capture the beauty around me but also is refining my character in the process as a photographer, a writer, an artist, a woman, an entrepreneur, a human.....and most of all, as His daughter.

God can use anything and anyone to communicate how much He loves the world. Even a rambling and imperfect person like me. It's pretty fantastic.

Happy Monday!

Stubborn Moms and A Stubborn God

My mother is stubborn. And the stubbornness used to be rooted in all the wrong reasons. No, really. Just ask her and she'll tell you herself.

A little background to this post about  my stubborn mom - I am a Christian and so is my family. It wasn't always the case, though, and believe me, being Christian doesn't exclude you from having problems, experiencing loss, hurt, anger, etc. both as an individual and within your family. Our family was no exception. Thankfully, years and years of a faithful and loving God has changed a lot in my family, and even in my mom. My stubborn ol' mom.

However, this past weekend, I found myself thankful that my mom's stubbornness is still very much present, but this time, for all the right reasons. I was set to pick up a few things from my parent's house before heading to a photo shoot and it turns out my mom was home getting ready to head out to lunch with some friends. The day up to that point was a hard one for me, as I was battling a heavy sense of sadness and anger over some things going on in my life that I was not sure how to handle. It weighed so badly on me that it de-railed my thinking and caused me to just start crying in defeat when my mom asked me what was wrong.

I mumbled an answer of struggling with depression and defeat and my stubborn ol' mom simply rubbed my back and reminded me of a God who loves me and the authority I have to still fight off any feelings of defeat or sadness because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. As I sniffled and sobbed like a baby, she stubbornly reminded me that I am a child of a loving and merciful God and that he wants me to live freely, joyfully, and abundantly in His grace - not weighed down by past regrets or chained by any lies hell tries to make me believe. She prayed for me at that moment and told me that I will be just fine. And you know what? I believe my stubborn ol' momma because her words of encouragement were really coming from my loving Heavenly Papa who is just as stubborn about His love for me and will not let go.

I understand completely that many in this world will either find this post rubbish and some will find it encouraging. I certainly hope and pray it's more of the latter. And if you need convincing and a prayer for whatever it is you are struggling with, my stubborn ol' momma and I would be happy to help.

Happy Wednesday!

A Bib, Helmet, and Hope

Whenever I am happily surprised by something, it's really, really hard to contain my excitement. No, really, I'm not even joking - it's actually a little embarrassing especially since I'm supposed to be an, ahem, grown-up.

I've squealed like a pig during a photo session that's going well, almost tripped on my own two feet when trying on a pair of awesome shoes found in the sale section and just when you think I'm really cool, I'll even clap and occasionally spit will fly out of my mouth when telling someone some exciting news or a great story.

Wish list for Christmas: a bib and a helmet

As recently as today, I am reminded about how awesome it is to be excited about hearing great news. Like, actually Googling news that doesn't remind us yet again, of all the bad in the world, but  of some actual glimpses of good and hope.

About a month ago, I met up with a friend for ice cream and a catch up, not knowing this conversation would have a significant impact a month later. In the midst of chatting, we started talking about our faith, the challenges of keeping it strong on a daily basis, and the importance of prayer. She proposed that we commit to pray for the troubles we were seeing in the world, even the stuff that seemed so far out of touch for our own personal lives. One of the things that made it onto the prayer list was the issue of human trafficking both in the United States and around the world. What???

Talk about being super stretched in faith - I have to admit that I was pretty doubtful of how praying for such a huge problem would be effective at all. You see, I like the safe, coffee-house conversations about faith, but to be asked to participate in a challenge and test what I believe, well, that's like a whole new ball game. Like, varsity level, Michael Jordan status.

Thankfully, despite my doubts, my friend reminded me that prayer changes things, that it ushers the power of God to do things we simply can not do on our own. She even encouraged me to check out how the news headlines will change because of faithful and interceding prayer. Well, uh, ok....I guess it can't hurt, I remembered replying. And so began the 30 days.

Yesterday, filled with some hope as well as some hesitation, I Googled "Human Trafficking News" and this is what I found:

Fifth-graders join fight against human trafficking

Chicago Tribune-4 hours ago
Human trafficking is a cause she is passionate about, and when her students learned that children sometimes are forced into such situations, ...

Bordello owner jailed for human trafficking

The hours ago
The Turk was arrested in 2007 after a total of 200 police officers took part in an operation to counterhuman trafficking in Nidau and in Tuggen in ...

Maritime agency thwarts human trafficking in Kota Tinggi

New Straits Times-11 hours ago
JOHOR BARU: The Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) thwarted an attempt by a human trafficker to smuggle 14 illegal ...

Bill would reform human trafficking laws

Legislative Gazette-May 28, 2013
Lawmakers are hoping to reduce the number of human trafficking victims in New York state by passing a new bill that would improve the state's ...

Vallejo rapper sentenced for human trafficking in Contra Costa ...

San Jose Mercury News-May 24, 2013
MARTINEZ -- A 38-year-old Vallejo rapper was sentenced Friday to five years and eight months in state prison for the sex trafficking of women ...

And the good news headlines go on. 

Needless to say, I was beyond amazed, with a renewed sense of hope and pig squealing happiness. Ohhhh, so this is what she was talking about! It was so encouraging to read the headlines of change, of justice being served, of legislation addressing this problem. And it's pretty amazing to see what the encouragement of a friend, a tiny seed of hope, and a little prayer can do. 

Happy Wednesday!