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saved by grace

          I want you to know pain so that you may understand the worth of comfort. I want you to know sadness so that you may know the full worth of a single moment of pure bliss. And I don't want life to be easy, for love to come easy, or for it to last easily. For you would not know the value it bears. I pray that you see hate, heartache, and sin, so that you may see the glory that is in our Savior. 

          I pray that in this darkness you look towards the light and recognize it as our creator. And above all, I hope you know what Christ died for. So that you may not live a life sugar-coated, but a life saved. For just because you are saved, does not mean you are not broken. For just because you are saved does not mean life will come easily. That you will always feel secure and happy. 

          The things you feel on a day to day basis are fleeting and worldly, incomparable to God's grace. You without God are selfish, scared, cowardly, helpless, sinful... And with God you are still all these things, not quite so intensely and they will not overcome you. For he is your shield. And when you go through deep waters, he will be with you. 

          Disciple, this is the love you deserve to know and that we receive only because we are saved by grace.

i'm the kind of girl who

  • has no problem and in fact rather enjoys doing things alone (like shopping, going to the gym, exploring...)
  • wants nothing more out of life than to be a wife and a mother
  • gets deeply attached to fictional characters and stories
  • loves to motivate and make others smile
  • feels emotions deeply and is pretty empathetic
  • would eat Mexican food everyday if she could
  • loves to write lists
  • is highly intuitive about people and situations
  • sings loudly and passionately to all kinds of music in her car
  • loves the power of words and especially in using them as a tool for inspiration
  • has an active imagination and is constantly thinking up of impossible or unlikely scenarios in her head
  • is a dreamer
  • loves to go to the farmers market and the art museum whenever she's in a new city
  • will never be to old for Disney or Pixar
  • is a deep thinker and overanalyzes everything
  • loves rain and thunderstorms
  • is struck by wanderlust
  • loves binge watching movies and tv series
  • is a fan of long drives with no destination
  • will never get tired of Friends episodes no matter how many times she sees them
  • loves cats
  • desperately wants a few tattoos someday
  • is an aspiring writer
  • wants to empower women
  • is a closet sci-fi nerd
  • goes nowhere without a notebook and camera in hand
  • loves the sound of rain and smell of books
  • will never settle on 'what she wants to be when she grows up'
  • is a Hufflepuff, and her patronus is an otter

how to chase your dreams

            I am a firm believer in following your dreams. But let's face it: actually going after what you dream about is absolutely terrifying. After all, you're opening yourself up to the possibility of failing, and you probably fear the heartache of that. So you shake off those dreams, you gather them in a box and stick it in the back of your closet. Those realities are for day dreaming and wishful thinking, because you don't want to carry fear and you don't want to carry doubt. You want something comfortable, you want what's familiar. And you'll never be anything else.

            Here's the cold hard truth, and even if you never heard it, you probably knew it somewhere deep down: dreams don't just happen, life doesn't just work out wonderfully and successfully on it's own, you gotta work for it. You've got to define for yourself what is wonderful and what is success to you and chase after it, because time isn't patient.

            I have this fear. Of failure, of disappointing others, of living a life less than the one I was capable of living. I find myself getting stuck in this cycle, and it tends to feed my anxiety. The part of myself that says I'm not good enough or not worthy enough or sometimes doesn't even care enough to even give myself even that kind of credibility.

         I tell myself over and over to replace that fear with trust and that doubt with faith. And I have my good days. I have days where I want to seize the world around me, days where my curiosity and ambition is bursting and I'm motivated to keep pushing and inspired to keep growing. And then there are my other days. Sometimes there just the days where I'm a homebody and I want to clean my apartment and cook a meal and call it a day, and then there's the ones where I want to wrap myself in a blanket and not deal with a thing, because dealing with anything would mean confronting my fears, too.

            For this very reason, I've adopted the lotus flower as a symbol for my growth. The lotus flower is a symbol for beauty, it grows out of mud and darkness and blossoms into the world.

"Like a lotus flower we too have the ability to rise from the mud, 
bloom out of the darkness, and radiate into the world."

            From my own experience, I've found that in order to pursue dreams, I have to actively surround myself with inspiration. Here are what I have found to be good motivating tools...

  1. Always carry a notebook with you. And write everything down: your aspirations, your fears, your dreams, your grocery list.
  2. Create a vision board. Grab a poster board and a glue stick and collage anything that inspires you. Alternatively, you can grab your journal and start collaging in its pages. You can go even title a board on Pinterest "Vision Board" and start pinning anything that relates to your goals and dreams.
  3. Actively seek motivating tools to push you in the direction of your dreams. Listen to a podcast, read a book pertaining to your journey - or any really that can inspire you. Look to people in your life that are setting goals and chasing them. Anything that will keep your mind and heart focused.
  4. Focus on the journey, not just your destination. I think with anything in life, we focus so much on our destination and how we'll find happiness there, that we forget to take care of our happiness in the moment. Just appreciate yourself and take advantage of everything the world offers you in the here and now.
  5. Stay positive, while practicing patience and persistenceYou're going to have bad days, those days are inevitable, but it's what you do after that defines you and your journey. You're always going to fail on the way to your success, but failing is the best thing that's going to happen to you. Why? Because you'll value your success that much more when you earn it and because it's getting past those bumps in the road - whatever they might be - that make you stronger. 

            It's clear that I am a work in progress, I always will be. But that's the thing, as long as I'm working, I'm growing. And as long as I'm growing, I am no longer settling for a life less than the one I was capable of living...

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

- s.l. 

a love letter to photography

Dear Photography,

            Who would have thought that you would become my nearest and dearest companion. That I would take you everywhere with me. On every adventure, big and small, everyday of my life. You watched me grow up. You were there for me when I didn't even know that photography could be something more than beautiful, but embedded in me, a part of my very being. You were there in my childhood, when I didn't know how to appreciate such a connection. I never realized until many years later that you had a hold of me even then.

          One of my more vivid memories as a child was going canoeing with my family. I didn't know how to swim and I was overwhelmed with the fear that I'd manage to fall in. It wasn't until my dad handed me his old film camera, that I looked through the view finder and other else mattered. I know now that was the spark. Do you remember how awful the pictures were? Blurry, horribly composed...looking back, I have no idea what I was even aiming for half the time when I clicked the shutter.

            My entire life, I've been nothing short of a creative soul. As a child, I did everything under the sun that pertained to creating. I played make-believe, constructing my own little stories and universes, with the imagination of endless possibilities. I loved arts and crafts and I absolutely adored music. As I got older I began to read and write. I learned piano and guitar, and I loved to sing and dance. I did anything to share a bit of that rare beauty with the world.

            But it wasn't until you came along, Photography, that the world made perfect sense to me, that you and I were somehow meant to find each other. As I got older you became not just my way of looking at the world, but a way to hold onto it and an entirely new art form to fall in love with. My camera became a part of me and it never left my side. I set out to learn as much as I could about you and we ran wild.

            You became my obsession and it was because of you that I began to look at the world in a whole new way. You inspired me. You taught me to see beauty in everything, that it was all about perspective. I've gotten so many opportunities out of having you in my life. You've taught me to dream bigger and I thank you for that.

           And just so you know, it's just the beginning for us, my love. I already have great plans for us, just as I'm sure we will find something magnificent and unexpected around every corner. But if there's anything I know, Photography, is that you and I can do anything we set our hearts and minds to. And I don't think any of it would be possible without you, and I love you for that.

Love forever and always,   

hey honey take a walk on the wild side

            Once upon a time, I placed myself in a box. I built up walls and found myself safe between it's four corners that I'd sat myself in. It was here that I couldn't ever fail because I'd set up nothing that was unattainable for me to reach for. But trust me when I say that I hadn't always been that way. Once I'd been a wild child, fit as a queen to conquer the world and everything in it until I'd become struck down by fear. But time and it's endless possibilities didn't wait around. No, it moved on, while I stayed behind in that box protected by it's four corners.

            I've been trying something new: stepping out of that comfort zone - and it's a battle with everything every time I step out. My anxieties and my fears try to eat me up, but I have yet to be disappointed. That doesn't mean it isn't always easy or what I expected, but ultimately it has led only to positive outcomes.

          I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I've gotten so much more out of life as I've lived by that decision. I took myself on an adventure. I told a boy I liked him. I stood up for myself in front of others trying to tear me down. I dared myself to go out and surround myself with new people despite my introverted-ness. A year ago if you would have told me I did all this, I would have stared in disbelief. And although these feats may be but small hills to others, to me they are mountains that I haven't just climbed but mountains that I have moved. I thank God everyday for giving me that courage, and I thank him too for placing the right people in my life at just the right time to encourage me to step farther out.

            I've entered a new chapter in my life and I am so far out of my comfort zone. A month ago I graduated college. I walked the stage with a huge smile on my face, excitement in my heart and butterflies in my stomach. I made it. I always tried to imagine what it would be like as a child and it seemed so far away and so out of this world, because being a college graduate was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. All I know is that sitting in that auditorium, listening to the words of encouragement and well wishes from people I'd never seen before, I'd reached some new sense of clarity. A clarity sometimes I find myself struggling to find again. Because life started again - after all I am still no where near the person I wish to be.

            I remember deciding then and there that I would always do what makes me happy and I would not settle for less than what God had made me capable of. Looking out into the next year, I can honestly say I have no earthly idea what this year will bring me, what city I'll be living in, what people I'll find myself around. I've truthfully been holding on so tightly to this world I've been given in this city I moved to three years ago. Moving to Chattanooga was hands down the scariest but best decision I ever made, but in these three years I've built within it a comfort zone, and my heart keeps telling me - it's time to step out.

Run from what's comfortable. Forget safety. 
Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
- Rumi

- s.l. 

twenty-three things I learned by my twenty-third birthday

  1. be mindful of the things you put into your body. listen to music that encourages you, read books that grow you, drink water and eat healthy
  2. laughing, dancing in the rain, and running barefoot in the sun are some of the best medicines
  3. knowledge is one of the most powerful gifts one can possess, so take every opportunity to learn new things
  4. moving out on your own is one of the scariest but rewarding experiences
  5. gratitude = happiness
  6. always carry a notebook with you, you never know where inspiration might strike
  7. anxiety and depression do not define you, even if you have to take it one day at a time you can overcome it
  8. you have to work in order for your dreams to come true. don't expect everything to just work out on its own, and always know that the more you work for something the more you will value it
  9. take time to write about your experiences. and don't just document the extraordinary, but the little things, too
  10. stay weird. weird is good.
  11. reading is good for your soul, plus you'll be a better writer and creator for it
  12. travel - it'll change you and it'll be some of the best experiences of your life
  13. it's okay to be by yourself sometimes. I encourage it, you don't need another person to validate your choices or your ability to have fun
  14. hold onto the ones you love most while you can
  15. yoga and meditation work and they're two pretty incredible things
  16. don't try to make people they're not. even the ones you love, love them for who they are, accept them for who they are, inspire them but love them. unconditionally.
  17. that being said, don't be afraid to walk away from someone if your heart's no longer in it. you don't need to fight for people who aren't going to fight back for you. you have to put yourself first.
  18. seek opportunity to lift up the spirits of others.
  19. it's perfectly fine - and i encourage you - to be good to yourself. it's okay to take a break from the world and retreat in order to focus on yourself and your wellbeing.
  20. my God is my rock and refuge and my faith is my only constant. 
  21. you can only grow so much inside your comfort zone. stepping out isn't easy, but it's totally worth it.
  22. my theory is that the best things worth having in life should take time and effort, that way you won't take it for granted and you'll gain a deeper love for it.
  23. self worth and love is one of the most important qualities you will ever attain.

oh, but darling, what if you fly?

"What if I fall?"
"Oh, but darling, what if you fly?"
I am in some serious need of soul searching. I believe with all my heart that God has a plan. I trust in this plan, and yet I always feel overwhelmingly lost even when my heart yearns for certain things that have become so evident to me.
I think the problem is I want too much out of life. I have so many dreams, I'm literally bursting with ambition. I have lists and lists of things I want to do, but each one of them has gotten lost in the someday. I want so much out of life that I'm afraid that if I go after one dream of mine, I'll be missing out on another path I was meant to be on. I want so much out of life, I'm scared once I start chasing these dreams they'll lead to failure. The funny thing about it is (and it's not actually all that funny), I know undoubtedly that the path I'm currently on is not the one where God wants me to be. I feel my heart and mind pulling at me all the time. This is the end of this chapter, and I'm being called somewhere new. I'm only kind of lost on the "where" and "what" next.
I am absolutely terrified of failure. My fear keeps me in this tiny comfort zone that I will never ever grow in. Yesterday I was speaking to someone and he looked right at me and pulled the very words out of my brain. "You're scared of failure," he said. "And that's alright, we all are. But don't let it keep you from growing."
I've been telling myself this one way or another and yet somehow it wasn't ever sinking in. I preach and preach all these words that I hardly think could possible apply to myself. I allow myself to think that I'm not good enough or worthy enough for my ideals of success or happiness (which is stupid, I know). Ever since that conversation yesterday, I've allowed myself to truly think about the life I want for myself and how it aligns with the life God has planned for me, and I couldn't help but notice the dreams my heart jumped to...
In less than a month, I graduate from college. I'm going to have a degree in psychology which better went towards a future that I thought I wanted. It was a tiny dream of mine, but I honestly think I did it more to please others than I did for the happiness of myself. I'm not going to allow myself to regret it, but I'm not going to allow myself to continue down this path either. I cannot tell you just how much I have grown in the last three years. I moved to a city where I knew absolutely no one and it was the scariest but best decision I ever made. I've met people that I know will be in my life forever.  My outlook on life has completely changed. For these things, I don't regret the past few years for a second. But this is no longer a part of God's plan for me and I feel that with every fiber of my being.
What I do know is, is that I want to travel. I never want to stop exploring. I want to always have my camera and notebook in hand. I want to be a photographer and a writer.  I want to help people - around the world and in my community, young and old. I want to spread wellness and positivity. I want to lead people to Christ. I want to work in ministry. I want to volunteer. I want to learn another language, collect art, and manage my own business. I want to lead a life that inspires others, and I want to be the change I wish to see in the world.

I know all these things undoubtedly. They've been in my heart since I was a child. They are my very roots to this Earth. But I'm absolutely terrified. It doesn't consist of a perfect story line, nor is it one of those beloved lists of mine that I can follow to a tee. And that scares me. I know that growth will only come in persisting in the things that scare me, and I want to give myself over to these fears and trust in God. Eleanor Roosevelt who is full of all sorts of wonderful quotes  once said "Do one thing everyday that scares you." One thing everyday to bring you closer to your dreams. I'm changing my path. Each day, whether it's one step or twenty I will be sure to follow my heart. This is my promise to myself. This is my promise to my savior. He did not die on the cross so I could live a life less than the one I was capable of living.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
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