Tuesday, December 28, 2010

+ Losing Everything. +

Nine years old. I handed my mom a couple of my dad's dress socks I'd found and she tossed them into a laundry basket in the back of the big, yellow U-Haul. I stared at my big playhouse in the backyard with my quiet blue eyes and wondered what would be at the next house. Ohio. What would that state be like? My strawberry patch, my rose garden, my green bean plants, my greenhouse. Time to leave, again. Why, I didn't know, but it was time.

Thirteen years old. Brushing pieces of fiberglass insulation out of my face, I tried to process what had just happened. The silence was surreal after the deafening sound of the entire house being ripped apart by a tornado. I didn't know if my youngest brother was still alive, and my body was frozen with the shock of seeing the open sky where walls and a roof should have been. Nothing of mine was saved; all I had were the clothes I was wearing and a pair of my mom's old shoes that I'd found in the dark.

Eighteen years old. I left my parents' house, completely unplanned, and never came back. My sister smuggled a bit of clothing to me over the next week or two, but the majority of everything I owned was left behind. I realized much later that my parents found the notes from my boyfriend that I'd hidden at the bottom of my sock drawer. What I wouldn't give to have those back.

Nineteen years old. I stared at the stack of red luggage in front of me in the parking lot and thought of the condo I'd just furnished the month before and boxes upon boxes of beloved memories left in a near-stranger's garage. Moving across the country by myself for the second time, again unplanned until two days prior, and all I could take was what I could fit on the plane. Again. The numbing emptiness didn't hit me until I was in Memphis on a layover and I thought of how much of my life I'd left scattered across the country. And wondered if I would ever get any of it back. My chest ached.

Twenty years old. Staring at the shattered glass all over the pavement and the seat of my car, I could barely breathe. I had left my car for five minutes, just long enough for my Macbook Pro to be stolen from under the backseat. Everything I'd ever written. Every picture I'd ever taken. Every project I'd ever done for any client. A year's worth of letters I'd written to my sister while she was kept in a "boarding school" of sorts, with a strict no-correspondence rule. I wrote every day and planned to give them to her whenever my parents let her out, or when she turned 18. The two books I was in the middle of writing. That laptop contained the only remnants of previous lives I'd lived; all of it gone. I'd come to terms with losing all my physical things over and over again in the past years, and I had held onto pictures and written memories to keep me sane. Now these were gone too. I felt like my life had just been erased.

I could go on, but it's hard. There are more stories, but I've made my point.

I am familiar with loss.

I know what it's like to stand alone in an airport and wonder what happened to your life.

I have fought through the long minutes in the shower, feeling the hot water burn the back of your neck and not wanting to ever climb out and stare at the reflection of your empty hands in the mirror.

I have cried over the loss of a ragged pink blanket given to me the day I was born, that made it through more than 20 moves - but not the 21st.

Loss is something I fear possibly more than anything else. It induces panic. It reminds me that I am helpless. But there are few times I have ever felt more alive.

I can only assume that God made it a priority to teach me this lesson: I can take nothing with me.

It is true that we do not know what we have until it's gone.

It is also true that we do not know how worthless those things were until we learn to live without them.

What would you still have if you woke up tomorrow morning with all your possessions gone? What would you do if you were given one suitcase to fill in 10 minutes before you moved 3000 miles away? How would you deal with the material faux-foundation being stripped out from under your feet?

I have learned to let go. To hold my hand open. We control nothing. Ultimately, God calls the shots. The shots that leave you sitting in the middle of a cul-de-sac in the middle of the night, in a city you don't know, rain soaking you while you sob. The shots that show you the immeasurable gap between your soul and what you think you own.

I ask you to let go. To live with less. To open your hands. To be thankful for extreme loss. To leave things in order to find life.

This week, get rid of things that you'd rather keep. Create a void. Shake your security. Force yourself to miss something. Bleed it out. And then, seek God.

You'll hear things you've never heard, and you'll breathe in a way you never have.


Monday, December 20, 2010

+ The Heart Leads & The Mind Protects: The Men to Love & The Men to Leave. +

Follow your heart! He broke my heart.

Do what you love most! I'm addicted to ______.

Listen to your gut! I don't trust myself anymore.

How many of these phrases have you uttered? I've said all of them. Countless times. And I've listened to you say them, countless times.

This generation has been the first to shamelessly break traditions, expectations, safe decisions - to pursue passions, listen to today over yesterday and sacrifice everything for what makes your heart race.

I love it, and I hate it.

It's reaping great rewards, and great costs.

Do you see the cost, on the flipside of every push to put your heart first?

In our haste, I believe we have spit out the meat and not just the bones.

This applies to a handful of topics, but I want to talk about relationships. And women, I'm looking at you.

Stand up for yourself.

Put your heart on hold for three minutes, and decide right now to bring your mind back into your relationships.

I don't mean this in an insulting way. I'm not calling you stupid.

I'm calling you to use everything you've been given for the purpose it was intended.

I'm not telling you to be heartless, and to pursue relationships that feel wrong.

I'm calling you to be wise, and to surround yourself with men you respect, not men who just make your heart feel something.

Mind and heart.

It's not one or the other, it's both, together.

I'm pulling all of my past mistakes into the present to tell you that I've been there, and I've learned the lessons the painful way. And to tell you that chances are, you don't understand how valuable you are.

I'm going to make some very blunt, specific statements. Take them to heart.

Do not stay with a man who doesn't hug and kiss you.

Do not stay with a man who doesn't love your friends.

Do not stay with a man who turns you against friends or family.

Do not stay with a man who gives you better sex than friendship.

Do not stay with a man who tells you that love is all you need to make life work.

Do not stay with a man who belittles you, especially through sarcasm.

Do not stay with a man who treats you like a casual acquaintance in public.

Do not stay with a man who regularly talks about how hot other women are.

Do not stay with a man who talks shit about his ex's.

Do not stay with a man who has no expectations for his life.

Do not stay with a man who does not care about his family.

Do not stay with a man who talks badly about his mother.

Do not stay with a man who calls you whore, cunt, slut or bitch.

Do not stay with a man who is quick to accuse you.

Do not stay with a man who halves you, instead of doubles you.

Do not stay with a man where it is never his fault or it is always his fault.

Do not stay with a man who asks but does not give (in and out of the bedroom).

Do not stay with a man who gets angry with you daily or weekly.

Do not stay with a man you do not admire.

Do not stay with a man if you are ever afraid of him.

Do not stay with a man who considers you a liability and not an asset.

Do not stay with a man who won't tell you The Number.

Do not stay with a man who compares you to other women.

Do not stay with a man who does not believe in & live for something greater than himself.

Do not stay with a man who lies to you.

Do not stay with a man who does not regularly encourage you.

Do not stay with a man who never offers to pay.

Do not stay with a man you love when you're with him but that hate when you're not.

Do not stay with a man who would read this list and laugh.

I could go on, and on.

But every single type of man listed here, I have made the decision to stay with, "because of my heart." I tell you this for this purpose only: To beg you to follow your heart, WITH your mind.

You KNOW you deserve better. You KNOW the type of man you want. You KNOW you want to feel like a better woman around your man. You KNOW sleeping around isn't worth it. You KNOW you won't find the right man until you let go of the wrong one. You KNOW waiting will be hard but the sacrifice will be worth it. You KNOW your tendency to pardon things you shouldn't. You KNOW you want to be a good woman.

Use your mind. It was given to you so that you could guard your heart above all else, for it is the wellspring of life.

Love passionately, and choose intelligently.

Let me put it this way.

If you cannot respect a man, you cannot love him to the best of your ability.

You can only love him mindlessly.

The women who love mindlessly and marry men they cannot respect, are the women who endure pain, loneliness, divorce, infidelity, regret, bitterness, abuse, and a lifetime of heartache.


Because they did not protect their hearts with their minds.

Note to men: I just set the bar pretty high for you. Good. You have a world of beautiful, sexy women behind you who want to believe in you, stand beside you, and make your world a thousand times better than it already is. Step it up. Be the man that we respect. We're not asking for perfect men, we're asking for good men. We are ready for you. Be the good man that you are, and win over a woman who wants you like crazy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

+ today. +

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

+ rest +

I'm terrible at resting. I'm terrible at knowing why I'm terrible at resting.

Have you heard that most weaknesses are just strengths taken too far? My strength is diving headfirst into things that wrap their fingers around my heart, and working hard to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. I'm not passive. And I take it too far. I'm proud of the strength, and ashamed of the weakness. I'm ashamed of the cost.

I'm still learning the cost of the weakness. And let me tell you, there is a great cost.

What has it cost me? Health. Peace. Relationships. Friendships. Seeing truth. Hearing God. Seeing God. My memory. Quality of work. Love. Joy. Wisdom. Invaluable experiences. Emotional stability. And on, and on, and on.

I recently watched a documentary called, "Stress: Portrait of A Killer." It's on Netflix, and you should watch it.

I wish I could say seeing the science behind stress and the destruction of brain cells was my breaking point, but I'm a little more selfish than that.

On December 1st, I woke up at 3:30am and realized I didn't have any interest in getting out of bed that day, which would arrive in a couple of hours. Everything on my plate were things I had chosen: A good job (not involving physical discomfort and more than paying my bills), school (which I love) and a major I'm interested in, editing photos that I took because I adore photography, writing the mission for Love Bomb, and a handful of trite activities. None of these were miserable tasks that I'd been forced to complete, none of them were long-hated obligations that I'd been silently swearing against for years.

So why was I dreading the morning?

For the past two weeks, I've been searching for this answer. And I found it. It is because I do not rest.

Skipping a class and sleeping in an extra 2 hours because your entire body aches is not rest. Taking a day off work to catch up on overdue commitments is not rest. Splurging on more coffee at 10pm is not rest. Fighting against the guilt of being a month behind on housework and triumphantly choosing not to do them just yet is not rest.

If you are working relentlessly out of guilt or self-inflicted obligation, stop immediately.

If you think maybe you're working relentlessly because of guilt or self-inflicted obligation but aren't quite sure, stop immediately.

The actions that fill your days should come out of health, joy, love, peace, and heart.

If you've lost your passion, drop everything, and for the love of God: Go find it.

If you are trying to play savior to others, or to yourself, you don't know Jesus as well as you thought you did.

Rest is physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. The cost of not resting affects all three of those areas as well.

I am the poster child for anti-rest. I have taken it upon myself to destroy that quality in me. This past week, I have let go of the majority of my obligations, much to the dismay of the world I decided that I could save. Yesterday, the moment I was off work, I came home and crawled into bed. Yes, at 2:30pm. I slept for four hours. I woke up, read some, wrote a letter, talked to a friend, half-watched a documentary, and went to bed early. I overslept this morning. My entire past 2 weeks has looked like this. Lazy? No. I am resting. I am catching up on 8 years of rest that I never had. I am cooking real food and lounging on the sofa for an hour while I watch trash TV and eat my dinner. Lazy? No. I am resting.

Three days ago, a marvelous thing happened. I woke up from a nap, sat up, and said to myself, "I miss my friends!" I went downstairs, turned on a documentary, sat down at the table, and wrote a handful of letters. While I had my envelopes and stamps out, I wrote a letter to the girl I sponsor in Zimbabwe, and paid some bills. IT WAS FUN. I loved it. These were all things that normally are on my to-do list; things that drip with guilt. And in this moment, I realized why they drip with guilt: Not because I don't want to, but because I am too tired.

My body, mind, and heart have been screaming at me for years, and I just now heard them.

I will throw a brick at the next person who says to me, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," and consider it a service to humanity. I realize this is extremely hypocritical of me, but we preach best what we need to hear most.

I understand that it's hard. I understand that some of you are soldiers on multiple battlefields. I understand that for some of you, being "sister, mother, daughter, wife and friend" is not just some cute little description of you that hangs on a plaque in your bathroom. I understand that some of you are paying for others' mistakes. I have a word for you from God, the one who created you: "Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest." (Exodus 34:21)

I beg of you to rest.

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest spiritually. Know that, “my Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14)

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest emotionally. Know that, "the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." (Deuteronomy 33:12)

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest mentally. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

And if you cannot rest physically, ask yourself the hard questions. Why have you committed to certain people? Why are you consumed with X, Y & Z? Why do you chase after the things you chase after? What are you doing that is your security blanket? What will you lose if you work less? Why will you miss what is gone?

The cost of not resting is great. If you don't believe me, do a word search for "rest" in the Bible. Or go watch "Ink" on Netflix.

Give yourself grace. And rest.

- - -

"Very well then,
with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people,
to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;
and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen.
So then, the word of the LORD to them will become:
Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that;
a little here, a little there—
so that as they go they will fall backward;
they will be injured and snared and captured."
Isaiah 28.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

+ 2011 +

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

+ december & pornography +

Part One: It's December 1st, and you know what that means. Time for Lauren's annual crisis.

For some reason, right around Thanksgiving, I question everything I'm doing and everything I am.

It's like climbing a mountain ever year, and as soon as the snow hits, I slide right back to the bottom of it.

I'm learning that the valley is a good place. I make the closest friends here.

It slows me down, and it forces me to face my imperfections. I become real - something I have a gift for escaping, and have had ever since I was twelve years old, sitting in the car asking my dad, "what is 'me?'"

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, sprawled between my bare mattress and my comforter (I was too exhausted to get my sheets out of the dryer last night when I got home), staring at the ceiling. I felt like I was seven. 23 year old women should have sheets on their beds. Time had stopped, and I gave myself five minutes to hate everything.

To hate that I'm 23 and in an inconvenient limbo between child and adult.

To hate that I'm selling myself short in school. That I'm still in school.

To hate that I'm a workaholic and have missed out on a lot of life.

To hate that I'm not half as good at anything as I want to be.

To hate the way people perceive me, and my inability to communicate who I am.

To hate that I had no interest in getting out of bed in three hours for anything.

To hate that I come to this place, over and over and over.

I'm 23, and still asking what is Me.

In the shower this morning, the shampoo bottle was a million miles away from me. There was a gap between my finger tips and the tile that was making my head spin. Some part of me was infinitely objective, distanced from everything I was in physical contact with. Hello, preposition.

When I find myself here, it is easy to believe that I am the only one. To believe that no one else feels this distance, and that everyone else is in tune with life, except for me.

But it's not true. We all experience this. And we all hate these same things.

I have no guarantee that quitting my job is the best decision or that taking anti-depressants during the winter is a good idea.

When you don't know anything, you fight to find what you do know.

And this is what I knew, at 3:30am. God has never failed me, not one single time. I am loved and protected and he will be my dad. He is worth trusting. I will never be homeless. Joy does not come from things. He knows me better than I know myself. He has given me a compassion that fights to get out of my chest and he will do so, in his way and in his timing. Every time I've worked towards something, I've obtained it. Worrying is pointless. I am blessed. I know that I desperately love people. Every struggle I've been through has always paid off. I've always come out better on the other side. Always. I know that as hard as things are, I love my life.

Desperation and insecurities are gifts. I am thankful for them.

Here's to December and finding out what kind of lessons are learned through meltdowns, failure, freaking out and persistent joy.

- - -

Part Two:

I'm going to make this incredibly brief. There are few men I respect, few men whose writing gets my complete attention, and few men who are still fighting.

Go add this man to your blogroll, rss, google reader, bookmarks - whatever it is you do.


Max Dubinsky's mind is something worth keeping tabs on weekly. He has invaluable perspective.

We do a lot of talking about fairly weightless things. MakeItMad isn't one of them. Make it your job to talk about Max. I want to see his name everywhere.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

+ baby. +

My sister recently posted these of us. Oh, little babies. I didn't realize how much of the same girl I am. I miss the south, and I miss the simplicity of quietness and observing the world move. I wish I was still three years old, and could get away with speaking barely at all and listening to everything. I have little to say, and I feel consistently forced to say more than what I have in my mind and my mouth.

Love simply, speak softly, believe passionately, give sacrificially, move slowly, watch constantly.

Childhood, you were an invaluable gift to me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

+ there's a mess inside my head +

I haven't been writing much, lately. All that is about to change, starting with this.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

+ fitting in, not blending in +

Are you fitting in or blending in?

Think about it.

Their partners-of-sorts are sticking out and standing out.

Words are tricky beasts, and they will form your lives whether you are conscious of it or not.

If you are fitting in, you are a piece that has found the puzzle it belongs to. Your identity compliments and completes something greater.

If you are blending in, you are no longer a piece. Your identity is washed in with the rest and you become unvaluable as an individual.

As kids, we paid a high price to fitting in. And it's healthy. But maturity comes when you push one step further - adding value to your personal brand that makes you stand out, and falling one step back - retaining your original self.

Be invaluable, not unvaluable.

Fit, but don't blend.

- - -

If you need some help, you might want some help in determining which is leading you: expectation, or vision.

- - -

Also, I've changed some things around on the blog. Cleaned it up, and added some new tabs at the top. And a little bio!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

+ It's my birthday! +

It's my birthday!

I have so many thoughts and I'm high as a potato on caffeine so this is going to be difficult to bring down to the ground.

First off - infinite thanks, gratitude, appreciation and crazy love for all the incredible people in my life that have been just catapulting their excitement and love to me since before I even woke up today. I literally do not have half the words to communicate how much all of you mean to me and how beyond blessed I am. I have been given more encouragement and more community than I could have ever dreamed of. God is so good. I wish I could give everyone a supermassive hug and take everyone out to dinner, just for being my friend. I hesitate to mention certain people for fear of leaving others out on accident - but there are so many of you who have gotten me through this past year, sharpened me, taught me, motivated me, inspired me, loved me, cried with me, dreamed with me, explored with me, and prayed with me. I am obligated to thank as many of you personally and publically for enriching my life & making it into something SO full I can barely keep up. Here goes!

I'm going to start with Jamie because she just tweeted at me- hah! Jamie, you are one of the most joyful women I know - you work hard, you just ooze out love and care, and your packages and letters have always come to me at the perfect time. You've made my days so much better and I look up to you and hope that I will accomplish just as much as you do & give as generously as you do when I am a wife and mother. Oh, and your emails lighten my heart. Love.

Kelly M., I consider you a sister. I don't know how or why we've stayed as close and I pray every day that I am as good of a friend to you as you are to me. I love you and can't wait to come see you again in Charlotte. You have been a saving grace to me in ways you probably don't know. God used you to bring me back to him and remind me of the type of girl I want to be, right when I needed it. I love watching you fight to love Jesus more and love those around you and your constant desire to do and be better. You are beautiful.

Katie H. - Oh man, I have so many sisters! God gave you to me as a big sister just when I needed one, and your creativity and enthusiasm puts sparkles into all my days! Hahaha. Thank you for being around constantly and letting me pour out my heart to you at any moment. You are insanely talented & your heart is so real. I love it.

Paige - I'm knocking out all the sisters. You are my baby sister and one of the most special people in my life. You already know that you are one of the funniest people alive and your heart is exponentially bigger than your body will ever be. I cannot wait to see what happens with your life. You inspire me with your strength, your love for God, and your wisdom. I wish I could give you the world. You are one of the most beautiful people God has ever made.

Nate - Living life has changed drastically since you entering it and I'm so grateful for it. Thank you for being a good man and working your ass off and bringing me alongside you. Talking with you every day is a gift in and of itself. I believe we have created more jokes than any two people in the history of the world. Blah blah blah. :)

Josh H - Yo Digeratii! Birthday twin! You rock my world by making me laugh uncontrollably nearly every day and I'm stoked to get to know you more over the next year. Happy birthday to you too, today!

Craig - I count you as my brother and one of my closest friends. I love our freak outs, our bff talks, your crazy motivation for life in general and how faithful you are to be there for me and listen to my rants. I am so glad you re-appeared in my life after years of us both getting our crap together (more or less) and I know that somewhere in the next couple years, a mindblowingly awesome trip will happen together. And I am not talking about drugs, I'm talking about Australia or something. Hahaha. Never doubt your worth, how much you are loved, or how much much better you make my life just by being in it. I love you.

Jesse K - Jesse, I love you. I am so thankful that you've been in my life since I was 10 or 11 years old. No matter what city each of us is in at the time, you remind me of all the good parts of home and none of the bad. I admire your mind. I admire your talents. I would do anything for you and I hope you know that, always. A part of my heart is yours and always will be. I miss our Milo adventures and your hugs. Love you forever.

Lauren S - Did you know that you are the picture of unconditional love? You have been an incredible friend for me and stuck it out when I go MIA for weeks at a time. The mail you send me is incredible and I save every single bit of it. I love you so much & hope we get closer this year. There have been two letters sitting on my desk for a month, waiting for the post office hours to align with my not-at-work hours. I love you.

Cheryl - You kick ass. You've added so many laughs to all my days and let me tell you probably the most absurd and unsharable parts of my life. I'm so glad that you exist and that we are on the same level with our craziness. You just make me so happy. And thank you for introducing me to Jen. Hahahaha

J Money & Josh - I AM SO EXCITED FOR 2011. I already have a solid love for both of you and I'm so stoked to see all the awesome things that come from working with you guys. Thank you both for being phenomenal people. Hugs hugs hugs.

Kansas - I feel like I'm a broken record because I just told you this, but you're so solid and I'm so thankful for it. Thanks for being around for me and being a voice uninfluenced by hormones, hahaha. I appreciate every single time you offer to help me or listen to me. I don't take it for granted.

David - I'm sad you're on tour and I don't get to see you for awhile. :( Big hang outs when you get back. Thank you for fighting in my behalf, loving on me, praying for and with me, inspiring me to be the woman I need to be, and cutting through all the bullshit to help me find who God is and what he wants for me. You are blessed, and I'm blessed through you.

To all the Crimson boys: I love and miss you. Saud, you inject so much joy into my life and I'm down with you being my little brother forever. Josh, I admire your heart. Yates, Nick, Dan - hugs to all of you. Come back alive, please. ♥

Christen - GOOD GRIEF I am so glad I met you. You are an incredible woman and I swear everytime I see you, you just soak me in Jesus & super joy. Thank you for your hugs, your hospitality, and your crazy gifts through the Spirit. You've helped heal me from so much and I cannot express how thankful I am for you. Thank you for welcoming me into your life so quickly and so warmly. Love love and more love.

Patrick - Man, I just love how consistently you cheer me up via Twitter and how encouraging you've been to me throughout the last year. You have such a great heart and you've stuck around and made some of my really awful days way better and my good days even greater. Thank you.

Johnny - I've thanked you a hundred times for your encouraging texts that I get all hours of the day and night. You've kept my chin up during some pretty bad days. Thank you for caring so much and for keeping tabs on me.

Kelly Tonsetic - Thank you for having a relationship with me where half the time I've been bawling my eyes out. I know God better because I know you, and your love is contagious. Everytime I see you I am surprised by how beautiful you are & how joy and a clean love just radiates from you. You should be proud of the woman that you are. The man who gets you will not deserve you.

Sandy S. - Woman, I love you. Your hugs make my weeks bearable and you are so faithful to be a crazy caring friend. Thank you for confiding in me, and letting me confide in you. Your on-a-whim prayers rock my world. I love you.

Inky - Crazy girl, you've saved my ass so many times and made my life so much more fun. I wish I was close to you so I could be a better friend - but I'm coming to Nashville in January! And oh, that will be too much fun. Your texts make my day happier & I am so jealous of your energy and love for life. I admire you for how much you've been through. You're resilient, I hope you know that.

Jessica T. - There aren't words to communicate what I want. I have more love and empathy for you than you will ever know. My heart has broken with yours over this past year and I am going to tell you again how proud I am of you for remaining the woman that you are despite everything else life has handed to you. You are selfless; know that, believe that. I have been blessed by you so much and hope to never, ever lose touch. I love you.

Krista L - Ooo I love you. I know I just told you this, but you are transparent in your love and so genuine in everything you say. You are a beautiful woman & God dropping you into my life was a gift. You are so talented and I am so proud of how hard you work. You inspire me. Your entire life is just pretty and sweet. I look up to you. I am excited to see you tonight.

Bria S. & Laura L: I don't know why I just grouped you two together in my head but it's probably because you both have equal amounts of love, talent and joy. You both know what you've been through and I count myself blessed to have seen the insides of your lives, if only for a bit. You are both proof that women are beautiful in their strength and have a capacity for expressing care & support for others even when you are struggling yourselves. I cannot wait to get to know you both better. Thank you for being friends to me. Dammit, words aren't good enough - hugs to both of you and I wish I could take you both out for dessert.

Tyler - I am so proud of you. You have one of the sweetest hearts in the world and it just makes me beyond happy to see how hard you strive to love everyone around you and love God. You're a good son, a good brother and a good friend.

Phil & Julie Shomo - Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being faithful to do what God has called you to do. Your faithfulness helped bring me out of one of the worst seasons of my life, and you saved me from a lot of pain and bitterness. Julie, I cannot thank you enough for the hours you've spent talking with and praying for me. Your wisdom and your love is invaluable and I will never forget you pulling me aside to tell me that you believe in me. You have helped lay a foundation in my heart that I cannot put a price on. Thank you.

To my lovely girls: Jessica, Lydia & Bahareh. Life is a rollercoaster and thank you, thank you, thank you for staying on board through thick and thin. You are some of the most beautiful women I've ever come across in my life and I am so glad I can call you mine and be included in a group of so much heart, passion, talent & beauty. I cannot even imagine what our lives will look like when we are 25, 30, and so on - I am SO excited. I love you.

To my real sister, Courtney, and my real brother, Kevin: We've been through a lot, yeah? Thank you both for being proof that there is love that supercedes all the fights, pain, struggles, disagreements and hardships of life. I love you both more than anyone else on this earth. I don't know how to put this into words too well, but when we are together and laughing over years' worth of inside jokes, I am the happiest woman. I get to see sides of you that no one else sees and I LOVE YOU for that. I love that I can see the heart of both of you apart from all else. Both of you are incredible people. I cannot WAIT to see where all of us go with our lives and I will be here for both of you, no matter what. I'm sorry for all the times I haven't been the sister I should have, and I'm thankful for the unconditional love you've shown me. You guys keep me on my toes. :) I love you. P.S. You guys are both super-pros at giving hugs & expressing insane amounts of joy. You rock. :P

- - -

I will be adding to this throughout the day, but back to work I go!

My life changed last night at midnight because of this, and I can't wait to share with all of you what it means and how this affects me. I have so much to say, but it will have to come later. Love times a thousand.

Friday, November 5, 2010

+ giving, minimalism, & perspective +

It's Friday! I'm ecstatic! It's been such a glorious week. November is coming through on it's promise to be great! This is going to be such an organizational nightmare of a post, I'm sorry.

I have had an unbelievable amount of energy for no understandable reason - I'm attributing it to the fact that whenever I bike or walk anywhere I sing, "the joy of the Lord is my strength" like a crazy person. Been singing that song since I was a baby and there's no reason to stop now!

I'm crazy looking forward to doing a Love Bomb video update this weekend. Exciting stuff is coming up! I'll also be blogging more for the ItStartsWith.Us blog so you'll see me around over there, too.

ALSO. I'm doing a Minimalism + Giving Project for all you bloggers! I already have several bloggers committed & I'm really excited for this!

If you want to participate, make sure you say so in the comments!

By November 20th, we will all be donating 10+ items of clothing to Goodwill or a local charity of your choice. I've been really convicted by the outrageous amount of clothing I don't wear anymore, and all the excess materialism in my life - and I'd love to do this alongside all of you.

Email me a photo of you + your clothes you're donating by November 20th, and I'll blog you as part of the project!

AND. I just spoke with Goodwill International & was showed their little donate calculator, which is sweet. So if you're donating to Goodwill, list out everything you're donating so I can get a grand total from this whole project to share with them!

I have a tiny little post script about minimalism. I'm getting hooked on it, but I'm not sure it's wise. I want stability, I want permanence, & I'm the woman that makes a house a home. All these being the polar opposite of minimalism. (Unless I'm wrong. Do you disagree? Tell me.) However, none of those things are here and now. So I'm leaning towards minimalism for the next couple years. Is it wise? Do you think it will have long-term consequences? Is it regrettable in anyway? To see how intense I'm talking, read Living With 75 Things and Quitting Your Day Job -- Should I just develop a Lauren-version of minimalism, and tackle it for 2011, including my finances too?

If you have 10 minutes, read this post by Max Dubinsky, called "Welcome To The Human Race, It's Very Uncomfortable Here." Get some perspective. I cried.

Monday, November 1, 2010

+ october re-cap +

October was killer. November will be a different kind of killer. A much better one.

Excited for the death of the former and the arrival of the latter.

However, I'm not going to talk about why October sucked. Paige Baker knows all these reasons, and I am excited as hell for a phenomenal month to make up for it. Instead, I'm going to recap some of October's best moments. And damn. I just realized there are a lot.

- - -

Best photos:

[ colin + andrea's engagement shoot ]

[ lyd, theresa, bahareh + myself in chicago ]

[more coming when I get home]

- - -
Best Of Tumblr:

- - -

Best quotations:

A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others. - Leo Rosten

The praise of the unlettered by those who are highly educated is one of the primary themes of ‘elitist’ literature. But, the importance of the praise given the unsolitary, richly passionate life is that it simultaneously reflects the value of reflective life. - Richard Rodriguez, The Achievement of Desire

Because education seeks to impart past knowledge, when you are trying to create a breakthrough, you have to create new knowledge, and there is no way to teach that. - Peter Thiel

What must you face? What fears haunt you? What failures have marked you? What darkness has consumed you and stolen from you, robbed you, sucked out of your soul the dream God created you to flesh out? Maybe there’s a dream buried deep inside your soul and God is waiting to reconstruct it, to put the bones back together. If he commands you to act and you trust him, you will see all of creation move in concert to accomplish in you what you were created to do. - Katie Holley-ish

We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing. - Mother Teresa

- - -

Best realizations/insights, expressed via my Twitter:

You are a brand. Treat yourself as such. Ground your product, visualize your identity, network your life. Be open to growth.

Your world is what you make it, so make it a world in which you want to live.

Stress is a decision. Decide to not be stressed, because you cannot change what is, and you cannot create time.

We cannot feel what is real when we are asleep.

Withhold your truth until you can speak it in love, lest you embitter what is sweet.

I will never apologize for knowing what I want and what I don't.

Don't ever compare yourself to someone else. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday.

Never let someone else's perception of you keep you from living fully and joyfully. Love always.

Grace is not logical, rational, or fair. And that is why it fixes problems that you cannot.

What incredible people we would be if we talked to God as much as we talked about him.

- - -

Best things on the Internet:

Visual mapping of emotions, via WeFeelFine

Finger-painting with Sound, via YouTube

Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex, via OkCupid

Love Bomb Update, via yours truly

"The Initiated Woman" via Danielle LaPorte

"You just broke your child." A must read. Via Single Dad Laughing

Stats say social media is increasing face-to-face time, via Mashable

"Brainwash", via Seth Godin

TeuxDeux browser + iPhone app to-do list, via TeuxDeux. Changed my life.

- - -

Summary: It was a hard month, but doesn't pruning spawn growth? I learned more about myself in the last 31 days than I have in a long time.

- - -

Crooked mouths, quiet down;
let your fists come undone.
Miscarried love will be reborn.
The war that we're fighting has already been won.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

+ direction, expectation, and vision +

I have had it. Being limited by others is one thing, but self-limitation is something that we must refuse to partake in. There has been much growing under the surface for awhile now, and it's about to sprout. It's going to cause a scene. In my personal life, in my professional life, and everywhere in-between. I'm getting my vision back, and I'll explain this soon, as well as what it looks like. But first, some backstory.

Direction, Expectation and Vision.

As kids, we were most likely given one of these things, and maybe two. The problem with this recipe for life is that it's just like baking: if one ingredient is missing, it won't rise.

The first half of my childhood was marked with direction and expectation.

By expectation, I mean hope merged with well-meaning standards. Expectancy to do well, expectantancy that I was fully equipped to succeed. Let yourself escape from the "my parents pushed me too hard" for a moment and recognize the healthy benefit of expectation. Children should never doubt that they have what it takes to be and become an amazing, fully alive, valuable human being. Complete with glittering stars and confetti.

Direction. Direction is a gift. If we were blessed with 'involved' parents or teachers, they pointed us in healthy directions. They laid out our schooling in a wise and effective way, with our best interests in mind. They recognized our strengths and put corrolating opportunities in our paths, encouraging us along the way. They affirmed both our interests and our bents, and showed us how to manifest our talents in real, tangible ways. They introduced structure to our creative, questioning minds and taught us how the world worked.

But vision, I lacked.

Vision. The ability to see the purpose, the meaning, the big picture. Something that resonates in the depths of your heart that fights when all odds are against you. What makes good men great. There was no ultimate goal, and no driving force that had been anchored in my heart that held me faithful to a consistent path.

Vision can go one of two ways. Vision can be implanted deep into your heart, the core of the being that is You. Or, it can become a sometimes-mocking voice that taunts you with not being enough until you accomplish enough to reach something distant and unattainable. Healthy vision is drawn out of who you are and the purpose of your life. Unhealthy vision is simply expectation on steroids. Re-read that.

I'll cut my parents a break on this. It's nearly impossible to give a young child true vision within
the bounds of his or her education without it seeming like expectation taken too far. Debilitating, can't-live-up-to, never-good-enough expectancy. In order to impart vision to a child, a clean line must be drawn between school (accomplishments) and his or her personal identity. Children define themselves by their schooling - and so they should! It's the majority of their daily life. They aren't old enough to compartmentalize and to separate who they are from what they do and how they do it. Still, if you are influencing the life of a child, make every effort to draw that line, and plant seeds deep into their soul - let go of pruning for a bit.

Let me transition to the second half of my "education years."

My unhealthy vision culminated when I was 14 years old. My parents were ecstatic. Finally, I cared. I was motivated, I pushed myself, and it seemed to them that I had finally found something I loved. Any outsider watching my outrageous 'success' would have assumed years of direction, expectation and vision had finally collided and was resulting in the type of fireworks that are every parents' dream for their child. What they saw was me latching onto success in the political and educational realm - something "clicking" for me internally.

What was really going on was the invisible birth of a new vision. A new love. Unfortunately, it manifested itself in a way that (I believe) caused my parents to withdraw their direction. Perhaps it seemed that it wasn't needed - direction was complete. I became obsessed with politics, teaching, traveling, staffing, speaking, debate, week-long conferences - all at the age of 14. Not because I loved the content, but because I LOVED people. Networking. Connections. Traveling. Seeing new things, feeling new things, hearing new things. I loved the necessity of attention to detail, organization - all infused with Big Ideas. A new love and a new vision was growing rapidly, but the content was all wrong.

This continued throughout high-school, literally 'til the end of the first semester of senior year when I had 43 credits and only needed 21 to graduated. I was at the end of my rope with classes on politics, American history and economics. Yes, they interested me - but so did other things. I was burned out. Two isolated, off-color incidents had pulled me out of both major high-school social networks (within the political & debate realms) and I was left with a handful of things I just didn't care about anymore, revealing the unhealthy vision in all of it's nakedness.

Other things - other people - were pulling on my heart strings, and I was slowly processing through this unhealthy vs healthy vision that slowly been weaving itself through my heart and mind.

I still had the expectation, and I had conflicting visions. And no direction.

So I quit. I spent the second half of senior year working, trying to deal with family issues, found that I couldn't - and left. I dropped everything. I moved out, moved to Phoenix, and started a new life. I made some mistakes, yes - but when we're burned out, we burn bridges. And sometimes when we reach a level of inner turmoil, we have to give ourselves forgiveness in advance, with the understanding that death precedes life. And more often than not, that pain births vision.

The next five years was spent filtering, re-filtering, and identifying vision. Finding the direction that I lost. Turning down the expectation a few notches. Seeking wisdom and fighting to find the correct measurements of these three that will result in something that will rise.

I explain this all to you in hopes that you will somehow be able to pick out some structure points that connect with your story. In hopes that you will begin to draw the line between your expectation-on-steroids vision and your true, heart-and-soul vision. In hopes that you can grasp and appreciate the outrageous task that is parenting, and cut your parents some slack. In hopes that you will make a conscious effort to draw the line between actions and heart in your children, now or later. In hopes that you recognize the lack of direction given to you in your own life, come to terms with it, and now seek it out.

It's never too late, and your life is still as pliable as it ever was. Truly.

Find the sources of your expectation, or lack thereof.

Find the sources of your direction, or lack thereof.

Find the sources of your vision, and your lack thereof.

Reflect, be released, choose love, and move forwards.

Vision is everything - fight for it.

I will post more on vision later; I know that not nearly enough was said about it, and I raised some internal questions that I haven't answered yet. Until then, I will email a copy of Danielle LaPorte's Authentic Dreaming Worksheet to anyone that would like it. Leave your email in the comments. She's a vision addict, and an amazing asset in recovering it.

- - -

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

+ love & 100 strangers project + platonic love + greater things +

I picked my Love + 100 Strangers Project back up this weekend! It's been too long, and I want to finish it so badly. For those of you who don't know what it is, I have been approaching strangers all across Columbus and asking their definition of love. I take their photo, and ask their first name and age. It's amazing what you can tell about a person by their definition of love.

"Love is caring so much about someone."
Jaylen. Age 6.

- - -

Platonic cross-sex relationships. Can they happen? This is so fascinating. A woman named Juliet writes her experience with having a best friend of the opposite sex, and gives some surprising and enlightening statistics on cross-sex relationships over the last century. Her best friend, Jeff, then writes his response; “his side” of the story. I’ve been on the front lines of this change in cultural views of cross-sex relationships and finally am justified in many of my best friend, brother-sister relationships that my family and outsiders have consistently challenged and questioned. Awesome.

- - -

This morning I got this via text from darling Katie Holley. It completely turned my day around.

"What must you face? What fears haunt you? What failures have marked you? What darkness has consumed you and stolen from you, robbed you, sucked out of your soul the dream God created you to flesh out? Maybe there’s a dream buried deep inside your soul and God is waiting to reconstruct it, to put the bones back together. If he commands you to act and you trust him, you will see all of creation move in concert to accomplish in you what you were created to do."

Girl, I love you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

+ gifts: intimate, all-consumed, enraptured. +

Before I get into this post that accidentally turned into a book, look at these photos! As a little girl, I was captivated with water, and would sit in the tub for hours splashing, pouring and watching it. Oh love love love.

In my minds eye, I can see "a perfect relationship." Not in terms of place, time, success, looks, or circumstance - but emotions, joy, trust, honesty and openness. Oneness. Thanks to hundreds of movies, we all have the image of a woman running at a man, full-speed, and throwing herself into his arms - ecstatic and all-consumed with the heart that is before her. Nothing else in her line of sight. Joy painted across her face. It's almost a renewed form of innocence. Love does that.

Anyway, I was thinking about these things as I drove home late last night after hearing a teaching on marriage and oneness at JHouse (such perfect timing for me, somehow - even though I'm as single as it gets) - bouncing images off the walls of my mind. I was a mess when I had showed up at JHouse and Kelly was a doll and spent the first chunk of the service praying and crying with me in an empty hallway.

Forgive me as I piece these thoughts together poorly.

Months ago, someone gave me an image of God offering me a wedding band - he is my husband, my faithful. The whole God is my husband/boyfriend thing has always really irritated me, by the way. It wasn't til I switched out the traditional word for what that relationship WAS to what it MEANT - what I needed and wanted in that relationship - my faithful, my rock, supporter, encourager, helper, provider, lover, companion and confidante - that I realized that yes, this is who God is for me. It gets harder still when we're also told he is our Father, and then that Jesus sticks closer than a brother - a strange sort of family that clearly wouldn't work in human terms. But remove the limitations of relationships defined on earth, and think about what your heart desires. That one heart to cleave to, run to, fall back on, love on and be loved by, trust wholly, to teach you, to provide for you, to listen to you, to lead you, to sit with you, and forever on. The point is that God more than fills that unrelenting need in all ways, and in ways we can't understand.

Anyway, I've accepted that he is the other half in this all-encompassing relationship for me, but in no way has it matched up with that first "perfect, beautiful relationship" I described at the beginning of this post. Some days I've felt let down. Disappointed. On bad days I beg him to show me where that relationship is. Eventually, I think we all get to the place where we decide it's not worth it. If being in a relationship with God is just for the sake of being in one, and having that relationship spot filled, then meh. We could just do without. I could always come back. Oh, that line. (Would we ever want to leave someone that fits that 'perfect relationship' description? Would we ever want to leave when we are crazy-in-love? Food for thought.)

As I was thinking through what Kelly had prayed over me and what we had both heard from God, I got stuck trying to complete this image of God being one who watched over my heart at every minute of the day, and showed up with gifts for me just when he knew I needed them. Why does this not satisfy? Why do I not see the gifts as real gifts? Why do I swallow them down as either "I deserve this," and give him no thanks, or "I don't deserve this, let me work harder," again, with no true thanks. I kept fighting through to try to mesh the image of God's love and provision with my 'perfect relationship' image, and finally I found yet another wall my heart had still standing. It has no name, and a cause unique to no one. It's what develops as a result of flawed relationships with the people in our lives that give to us, added onto the fact that we ourselves have flawed hearts and minds.

This wall - more like chains, or a mask - has kept me from being myself with God when he gives to me. It's kept me from being a woman in love. This mask has kept me from understanding why gifts are given to me and what my response should be, making them not gifts at all. (Isn't that just how the deceiver works? Taking something beautiful and making it into something that it's not?) One of the greatest lies we can ever believe about God is that he doesn't really give gifts.

Gift: something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone; something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned.
Let me put it this way. When a man brings a gift to his beautiful woman that he knows she will love - what is his greatest reward in giving it to her? What does he expect in return? He expects no *thing* in return - this is what defines it as a GIFT. But it is given with a hope - a hope of joy, ecstasy, love, thankfulness, and total satisfaction with him. The hope of that 'perfect relationship' manifesting itself in all of its glory. I finally meshed the images together.

When God gives me a gift, he desires nothing from me - but that I throw myself into his arms and tell him a dozen times over how much I love it, how happy it makes me, how much I love him, and how treasured and loved I feel.

Any man reading this, I am sure, will agree with me. That when he brings his girl any gift, there is no greater reward than to see her eyes light up and be completely enraptured with what he gave, and her repeated thanks - attested by the joy on her face. That it pales in comparison to her giving an expected thank you and offering to do something for him tomorrow in return. Yes, men?

Women (and men), if you feel you don't deserve a gift, know that you've already forgotten what a gift is. Begin to learn to be crazy in love with Him. Be ecstatic when you receive your gifts. Because that is why they are given to you.

I hope this made sense.

This is my prayer - that we learn to be the woman enraptured with our gifts. That we learn to abandon the lie that tells us we have to make up for and repay our gifts, and by doing so, disappoint the giver and devalue the gift. Because don't you know that the gift is given because he wants to watch us be delighted?

I have no theological evidence to support this, but I would humbly submit that perhaps the more often we respond to our gifts in this way, the more he will love to give to us. <3>

- - -

You will be made rich in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity
will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

If you, then, though you are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts
to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:10

Friday, October 8, 2010

+ nirrimi + crave +

It's not very often that I fall in love with an entire photoset. One or two that catch my eye or pull on my heart, yes. But Nirrimi tends to be different. This week has been a week for growing up by growing down. Pushing my emotions further and not allowing myself to say, "I don't know why _____." Anyway, Nirrimi caught and trapped my emotions in this set and I wanted to share.

A reminder to shoot truth and not perfection. I am still so far from where I wish I was.

i crave all these things from my past. icy water slipping over uncertain toes molding to the pebbles on the creek floor. sitting and trying to see as far into the woods as i can. mashing slate and painting faces. making dishes from mud and circling my kitchen cave with them. falling. being hurt. watching bits of green push up from the dirt. hiding snakes from mom. keeping baby mice alive. stripping in a hot bath tub. clover bracelets. pressing flowers. pulling weeds. catching fish with bare hands. making homemade bread. tulips as big as my face. country bike rides. falling asleep by the fireplace. bleaching socks. sledding and frostbite. the sun setting on the city. mountains. deserts. being small.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

+ make the heart swell +

Sometimes I think I need someone in my life to take photos of me so that I can remind myself I know how to dress. I am horrible at seeing myself objectively. Hah.

I have a binge-relationship with Tumblr. I've abandoned it lately, and today I remedied that. Over-remedied.

Sometimes I feel like this blog is my mind and my Tumblr is my heart. Or perhaps this blog is my left brain and my Tumblr is my right.

Anyway. Things I love today.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

+ fix your eyes. +

Mmmmm. Blog time. Let's see what's been going on in my head lately.

Joy is what's been going on. Let's talk about joy!

What is joy?

The dictionary says, "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated."

What does the Bible have to say about joy?

It says a lot. A whole lot.

- - -

"He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy;
he is restored by God to his righteous state." Job 33:26

"You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound."
Psalm 4:7

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." Psalm 126:5

Nehemiah said, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10

- - -

Joy. We all want it. We all wish for it. We all remember the times we had it. Mostly as kids, when we were carefree, or for a brief period when life was overwhelmingly good.

Unfortunately, the majority of us don't have hearts filled and overflowing with joy. We aren'treaping with songs of joy. We are grieving. Because life is HARD. And painful.

It's difficult to have a heart overflowing with joy when we wake up to texts from people we don't want in our lives, when our bodies are shaking with sickness, when we remember what happened yesterday. Joy evades us when the majority of people we talk to in a day drain it from us, when we hate our jobs, when we don't have a job, when we realize how old we are and how far we are from where we thought we would be. With no ability, still, to get there.

I am going to tell you how to have joy. Instantly.

Are you ready?

Here it is.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - 2 Corinthians 2:18

Perception. Vision. The Unseen.

Where are your eyes FIXED? Notice it doesn't say glance. Or look. It says fixed. We fix our eyes on what is unseen. Daily.

Go back and read the joy verses. And the things I listed that suck the joy out of our hearts. Do you see it? Do you see the sharp contrast?

"The joy of the Lord is your strength." The joy OF the Lord. His joy. It comes from him. He is our unseen. He is what we fix our eyes upon. "YOU have filled my heart with joy." When we see God's face, our hearts are filled with joy. Joy comes from Him.

What grieves us? People. Things. Our lives. Our struggles. Disappointments. Hurts. Abandonment. Failures. Worthlessness. Loss.

"But I have Jesus, and I still don't have joy." I've been there. Do you know what's wrong? My eyes were not FIXED on Jesus. Fixation says the eternal is our focus, what we keep in front of us at all times. All times. Locked on the unseen. We lose our joy when we slip from this.

Grief is temporary. Joy is eternal.

When we learn that eternity started before we were born, and not after we die, we will realize that there is an unseen world that exists within our reach. This is the world in which we will find joy.

Fix your eyes on it. Fix your eyes on Jesus. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, our perception changes. We find what we have, not what we do not have. We find what we've been given, not what's been taken away. We find who we are, not who we aren't. We find love, not abandonment. We find that we revolve around our Maker, and not he around us. We find that pain positions us for purpose, and purpose gives birth to joy. The joy that was sown in tears. But we reap only when we learn to fix our eyes on the unseen.

Before I end this, let me remind us of what joy is: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.

Our Jesus is exceptionally good. Exceptionally satisfying. He is the source of keen delight. He is who we should greatly value and appreciate.

When we fix our eyes on this, we experience the emotion.

Fix your eyes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

+ learning, growing, healing, joy, engagement photos. +

what i learned this weekend:

- vintage schwinn bikes have incredibly small posts
- routine relieves stress
- god takes $80 expenses down to $5 when you ask
- god hasn't forgotten what happened to you when you were 8 years old
- i'm way more of a southern belle than i thought
- the holy spirit moves when we do
- there is ALWAYS someone going thru what we are, & god brings them to us when we ask
- there is power quite literally in the name of jesus. speak it more.
- god can use death cab to remind us of his presence in the present AND the past
- i am crazy different, and that's okay.
- when you are real, you are present. learn to be real. (thank you, christen)
- we don't always have to understand our brokenness before god can heal it
- joy is a shield.
- wherever it is that you are, god brought you there. not yourself or someone else.

i took photos for stiffler and caitlyn's engagement yesterday, and they are adorable. sneak peeeeek. Also, if you live in Columbus, I am hosting a $15-20 Portrait Day In The Park at Goodale! Invite your friends, and come if you'd like!

"You did not choose me,
but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit —
fruit that will last.
Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
This is my command: Love each other."
John 15:16-17

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

+ college. oh, college. +

Hi lovelies. I really wanted to write a nice long post thanking Nate (and all of you) for his generosity in making my fundraiser to stay in college the ISWU mission for this week, and explain that I just found out this morning I might be able to stay in college (and consequently found classes and showed up to my first one tonight) so I'm going to pray for the best and trust it works out, even though I'm still working 9-5 at the moment...I also wanted to elaborate on the lessons I learned last year from being in school, and how much I cried today, and how much I appreciate all of you.

But. It's 8:17pm and I have class at 7:30am, and I have to finish editing a photoshoot that is due tomorrow and take a shower and figure out where my class is and what I need between now and then, and put together tomorrow's Love Bomb mission, and I got 4 hours of sleep last night.

So. No pretty post from me. :( Just my simple, honest telling of my attempt to raise $4000 so I can stay in college. And you can help me, if you feel led. Either way, I covet your prayers. I needed them desperately today, and so many of you prayed, and God moved.

Thank you, I love you dearly.

You can go here to view the whole thing, or if you'd just like to help me a bit, you can do it through this widget below.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

+ so overwhelmed. and photos of aubrie. +

Oh. My. Gosh. I do not know what happened this week. I guess all of this was just building and finally exploded today. Way short on money and I'm pretty sure half the people I know are irritated with me being MIA. I really don't understand how the rest of you all keep up. How do you keep all your bills paid? How do you remember to take your vitamins? How do you answer the emails you get and follow through with every person you tell you'll hang out with them? How do you organize the massive piles of mail that come in, and figure out what bills take priority? Etc etc etc.

All I know right now is that I suddenly need exponentially more time, and more money. Just to figure out the nightmare that is my bank account. Bank accounts. Bleh.

Time to work more, and book more shoots. Speaking of, any of you all want some pictures taken? Doing them cheap! Requirement: Be in Columbus. Hah.

I took Aubrie's senior photos this past weekend. I really love how they turned out. It obviously helps that she's adorable and has a beautiful smile and incredible blue eyes.

So yeah. How do you guys do it? How do you stay organized? What do you do when people flip out because you don't have enough time to do everything? Help.

You told me that I wouldn’t find a home
Beneath the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal
And all the while my character it steals

And you, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine

- - -

PS. I am trying to raise money to stay in school! Does anyone have $10 or $50 or $howevermuch they can donate? It would mean the world to me. Help Me Stay In College