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fall bucket list

  1. visit a local farmer's market
  2. read a total of ten books
  3. fall in love with football
  4. go to a pumpkin patch
  5. drink apple cider
  6. go apple picking
  7. have a halloween movie marathon
  8. jump in a pile of leaves
  9. make s'mores
  10. dress up for halloween
  11. carve and/or paint pumpkins
  12. go to a haunted house
  13. see a drive in movie
  14. decorate my home with fall decor
  15. read a scary book
  16. go outside, everyday if possible
  17. make soup
  18. have a bonfire
  19. go through a corn maze
  20. go on scenic drives to see the prettiest time of year
  21. practice gratitude, everyday
  22. attend as many fall festivals and fairs as possible
  23. donate and volunteer for a food bank for thanksgiving
  24. spend thanksgiving with my family
  25. visit Nashville
  26. grab a hammock and go and enjoy the beautiful world we live in
  27. drink apple cider
  28. read by the fire
  29. go on a hayride
  30. make caramel apples
  31. go camping

fearfully and wonderfully made

            I really have to constantly remind myself that God loves all the parts of me that I'm not particularly kind to. I'm constantly in doubt of myself, about everything. I let fear and anxiety work it's way in. I allow myself to think that I'm not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, or brave enough. And I allow those thoughts to consume me, until I start to believe them.

             And I can try and distract myself, by throwing myself into worldly things. I'll throw myself into a good book. I'll get in my car and drive, blasting the music on high. I'll busy myself with work. I'll go exploring. But all of these things, are only temporary fixes, they'll hide away the symptoms of shame and fear, but they will not heal me from these demons.

            The only one thing that can truly heal me from this is by following Christ.

            He created me. This God who created all the beautiful and complex things in this world, who created sunflowers, and created galaxies, created me with every perfect intention. How can I fight that? It's an ongoing battle I face - constantly torn between God's love and grace and my lack of courage and self-love.

“I would rather be what God chose to make me 
than the most glorious creature that I could think of; 
for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, 
and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most 
precious thing in all thinking.”

             These words I keep near and dear to my heart. I right them on scraps sheets of paper, I stick them in my car, my journal, my bag, the book I'm reading, as a constant reminder. God made me, of course, and how can I possibly take that for granted?

            I love reading the book of Psalms, because in it - at least for me - you can see so clearly that God is speaking directly to us. In it rests the absolution in God's grace following our doubt,  our anger, our selfishness, and our sins as Christians. All that he calls us to be, we fail daily, and yet he loves us still.

            Psalm 139 is one of my favorite pieces from the bible. When you read it, you are reminded of God's infinite knowledge of you and his absolute love.

Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, Lord...
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you because I have been fearfully and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.
My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written and planned
before a single one of them began.
For me to comprehend how vast their sum is!
If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
And when I wake up, I am still with you.

#shereadstruth: Joseph sold into slavery

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. 
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