Aug 29, 2016

Find your tribe. Love them hard.

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There are some feelings you will never find words for; You will learn to name them after the ones who gave them to you. Maza-Dohta 
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 photo DSC_0001_zpslpovitls.jpgWe have to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, and work.
Or waffles, friends, and work. But work has to come third.
Leslie Knope

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Last Friday, you turned up the music on the stereo when OneRepublic’s new single came out. The rhythm of the music pulsed through the car, and you glanced at me, nodding your approval of the new beat. I didn’t really pay attention to the lyrics, but somehow, I knew that the music would frame the moment into a memory that would stick with me through the cold months ahead. I think you often don't realize the weight of a moment until it's past. We blinked in the afternoon sun that flashed from behind the racing hills like the string of traffic light signals leading to your house. 

Stop. Go. Red. Green. 

Lately, life has been acting a lot like we’ve been approaching green lights that force us to go, to keep pushing, and to keep proving ourselves. Yes, green lights mean growing, new driver's licenses, bigger projects, and bright futures, but they also mean saying goodbye. Weeks like this remind us to cherish the red-light moments, moments that make you stop in your track and breathe a small thank-you for the people who stay, for the home team that keeps rooting for you, miles away. I'm thankful for these lazy days spent in Arrowhead, untouched by the fires surrounding fires; for haunts that were once my mother's favorite summertime destinations, and for moments of grace that wrap you around tight. 

Johanna once told me that she didn't like change. Truth be told, I don’t think anybody really fancies the idea of a close friend being taken by a boy, college snatching the idylls of our childhood, going away parties, or people trading picture frame moments for their claim of 'bigger and better’ things. Yet here we are years later - both students knee deep in our college careers that changes so often it can’t be grasped with both hands, both on the verge of saluting our teenage years goodbye, both taking a breather from jobs and classes and obligations that screamed for us to grow up, both with a few more goodbyes written in our ledgers. The change charged so quickly that we couldn't even hold life in both hands. And life was not going to stay stationary for anyone, and somehow along the way, we accepted the fact.  

And yet, six years race past in a blink of an eye and you turn around and recognize a grace that is so much bigger than ourselves. After six years, we both have a few more bug bites, a few more memories, a few more messy notes in our Bibles, a few more songs added to our soundtracks. 

Find the people who don't walk away, who know you at your worst and love you and then some. Find the people who brew you a cup of tea when you have been bitten by twenty yellow jackets. Find the people who can read your face of stone and speak life into your dreams and push you to reach for the stars. Find people who talk about deep things and shallow things and give you reasons to laugh. Find people who, after a year, six years, or a decade, will never leave your side. 
Find your tribe. Love them hard.
also, yes to this

May 28, 2016

yes, darling, but what if we fly?

What I realized, though, is that all I really needed to know when it came down to it was the direction I was pointing and that I was somewhere inside the large circle of God's love and forgiveness.
Bob Goff
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The Lord posed that question to me about a year ago last April. I was taking a walk around campus during a time in the semester when my head was too fuzzy to formulate a response.

It was more than a question that received a flippant "yeah, okay, God, I get it" answer. This was a "pay attention" question, a question that shook the core of my apathetic heart to wake up.
But perhaps, even more difficult to contend with was God's follow up question: "Are you willing to give up everything — even your desires, hopes, aspirations, passions, talents, time, connections, energy — your dreams that I gave you, to follow me and reach people?"
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I wan't ready to answer, then. 
If you gave me these dreams, 
wasn't it my responsibility 
to chase after them? 
I bit my lip and shook my head with a heavy retort. See, if I were really honest, I would have told you I was scared. I have always been noticed. I've always been the "something's different with that girl," or "something's special about her" go-to-gal. I was torn. I wanted to be apart of the "it" crowd. I wanted to be up there with the doers - the ones who got all the parts in theatre. The one who were sought after by the directors. The ones that us freshman looked up to and knew by name and squealed when they took the time to memorize ours. And if I gave up all this - would I even have a chance to be seen?
 photo IMG_0419_zpsidzodidu.jpgFall semester rushed in, frenzied and leaf-blown with a calendar filled with auditions. Mum always told me, "Theatre's 90% rejection," so I rolled up my sleeves and tried to not let my constant underestimation break my determined heart. Finally, I thought I had climbed over the hill of defeat when I had my eye set on the prize of my dream part. To this day, I can still probably recite the panicked prayer my suite mate and I muttered right before we headed to auditions.
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I would wake up the next morning to callbacks lighting up my phone. This was it. This was my time to shine. I was sure of it. And after three rounds of intense callbacks, the list up for my dream part whittled down to two people. I received overwhelming support, and more than a couple of people were absolutely certain I had secured the part. I imaged how it would play out: I would walk in and scan the cast list and scream with excitement and realize — I hadn't been chosen.
 photo IMG_1149_zpssisr7skm.jpgThose little words still sting a little because they shook the foundation of everything I had hoped and wished for; they turned into a lie that tugged at my heart and bit and chewed every little ounce of confidence I had stored up the past year. 
They were the words that lead me to walk back to my dorm and curl up in the dayroom and ugly-cry on the phone with my mom. They lead me to skip my favorite class and basically go to bed sobbing my heart out that night. It was the last string that had unwound it all. I felt like all the expectations and dreams and aspirations shattered around me, and I wasn't ready to face them again; I flew home for Christmas with fists full of bitterness.

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Now, don't get me wrong, everything wasn't fixed up by a christmas break when I flew back. 
I cried. A lot. I doubted myself. A lot. I wished for texts that didn't come. I still do. I didn't want to go back to florida. Yet, I still did. And like all college students, I still had those weeks that I wanted to wrap myself around in a blanket, when I wished that I could quit life to become a burrito. But spring semester carved a bravery in me that wasn't evident in the fall. 


That prayer carried me through March, the most stressful and demanding month of the year when I faced a writing evaluation as well as a speech platform that determined if the English and Speech departments deemed me talented enough to stay in the program. Basically, I spent the first half of the panicking and coming up with several back up plans [ie quit college and go to Europe]. An hour before I went in to perform for my speech platform in front of the panel, I remember I distinctly heard the Lord whispering, "This is your time to shine." And then, I got it. This wasn't a competition. This was learning to live palms up, learning how to surrender all that I dreamed of and would fight for to have, learning to brush the dust after stumbling, and learning to be brave enough to pursue not what the Lord had in store but simply Him
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The Lord flooded the semester with the best of things - with good friendships that without a second doubt I could count on for anything and everything and coffee dates and real talks and Fine Arts dates and rehearsals and performances and and group projects and memos that officially confirmed my degree and connections that made me thankful for communities that were built into theatre and classes alike. 
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I don't have a magic formula that will get you everything that you want, desire, or stay up all night praying for. I don't have a prayer that absolutely makes God pay extra attention to you or ones that don't really feel like they're bouncing off the ceiling every four to six seconds. I don't think this life was made for that, let alone a relationship with Someone who knows you better than you know yourself. I don't have a prayer, I have a word, though that was pressed to my lungs: Surrender. Surrender. Surrender. 
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Big things start happening when our want of being seen is overshadowed by the glory of a Heavenly Father who can do exceedingly and abundantly all that we could ever wish or imagine. 
Because once we find the courage to fall, 
maybe we'll discover that it's our time to fly.
reading // this

Jan 11, 2016

begin again.

following god isn't glamorous, but it is so beautiful. your hands will get dirty, and your heart will get wrecked. 
But love makes it worth it. 
| julianne wilson |
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Sometimes new year’s —F R E S H  S T A R T S—don’t happen at the strike of a midnight clock. Sometimes they happen after a few shaky lips and getting really brave about honesty. New starts only happen when you sit down and pose hard questions about very old problems. Peeling back layers often reveals the pain and risks your cringing at the brokenness underneath. But underneath, when we lay down our defenses, when we get really real with ourselves and God, there’s h e a l i n g. 
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 "Grace, you always seem to have your life together.” 
“I must be a good actress then, because half the time I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.” 
“But you seem to always have your life so together.” 

The conversation I had with one of my college friends stunned me, because if there’s anything I hate the most, I hate façades. If I got really really honest with you, I would tell you I am a mess half the time. I change five times a day. I wear red lipstick on speech performance days, thinking that the cranberry color gives me confidence. I forget my grading sheets for really important projects. I grumble when the alarm goes off at 6:30 in the morning, and I don't "make time" for God as much as I should. Half the time, I’m consciously counting the beats in my head, trying to determine the right time to make eye contact and say hello when I see someone approaching on campus. I eat too much or not at all. I fancy people who don't know of my existence. I don't drink enough water. I stumble over my words. I cry and rage and rave when I don't get a part in a play. I get irritated with my roommates. I stress over insignificant things. I don't know how to let go when people walk out of my life. I get jealous. I get frustrated. I don't listen to the Lord's leading. I get bitter. I get angry, really angry. And I get hurt. 

 photo IMG_9613_zpsqqs76kiz.jpgNo matter how “together” our lives seem on the outside, we’re all struggling to find something real in a fake world. We become so used to saying the right words to get the right people to think well of us. We swallow two pills of pride each morning to keep our ship afloat, and we learn to bury our fears and failures deep somewhere inside. And if we can’t, we learn the right things to say to ourselves that convince us "grace carries that" and "I don't have to deal with that right now." We assume that running away solves our problems for a spell. 

But running away for a girl who will not accept goodbye is not an answer. And when it comes to God, I say no. I say no to lukewarm living. I say no to clichés. I say no to a shallow faith. I say no to running away. I say no to a fake relationship and shallow “thank you for this day, amen" prayers. 

If you read the Bible, you'll see a pattern in Jesus' ministry. He spoke to multitudes, but the Bible records specific circumstances — specific people that He met individually. Where they were. 
On a rooftop. 
In a tree. 
At a well in a forbidden land. 
Deploringly cast at His feet. 
He meets people where they are. 

And, I think, He met me on a worn-down, ugly, salmon-pink couch in a quiet corner in a hotel lobby. Where hearts are left on the patterned carpet and knees tucked up to our chins are the only defenses against the words that would slip out tonight. New years for me began when an ocean of tears let lose, and I spat out some words that sounded hollow, revealing the ugly bits of my soul. The monsters that I determine to numb everyday. The rooms that hide locked under a key that sometimes I can’t even find. New years began a week after the bells rung and the fireworks lit up the sky. When I cried all my makeup off and sobbed and laughed and cried again next to a soul who I’m so thankful did not judge. Who did not brush me off. Who simply sat there, took my hand, and didn’t run away. 

Those are the people we need at the end of the day. People who will not run away. People who are willing to follow. People who learn to be planters. People who tear down walls. People who are willing to stay up all hours of the night who will show up for you. People who are brave enough to be honest. 

God wants those types of people too. We’re not going to reach people until we get really honest with ourselves. That we’re struggling. That we’re not a perfect. We’re broken. Our love is, in turn, the same: broken. And it hurts. Gosh, it hurts. 
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Love is forgiveness. 
And it's 
And it's basically like putting your soul in a washing machine—it's not some gentle cycle, it's a fierce whipping that rings you out good. It makes the stains fade. 
Best of all, 
It fills the holes. 
Hannah Brencher 

But at the end of the day, it’s what fixes us too. Broken love offered to a Savior who was broken for us. Who took our brokenness and infused His beauty into it. At the end of the day, He graces us with a very real story that we can carry with us and can't run from. He sews reminders of a grace that wins through midnight conversations and quotes from articles and snippets of lyrics. 
He reminds us that He's in it for the long haul. 
The brokenness. The bad. And the ugly. 

Sometimes new years — FRESH STARTS — don’t happen overnight. Sometimes it’s the little choices the day by day decisions, the conscience hour by hour thoughts, that keep you clinging to the belief that He’s never going to stop reaching. And He's never going to let go. 

No matter the pain. No matter the brokenness. No matter the distance that you think you made for yourself between you and your Creator. 
This is where we 
begin again.

ever inspired by // this & her.
portraits by // the ever lovely hannah | SoCal succulents circa 2014
on replay // "called me higher
inspired by // a conversation with my bestie. 
postscript // thank you to all who still keep connected to this little spot, despite my comings and goings. you're all lovely people.