{Love Letters} Dear Heart

Dear beautiful heart ūüôā You have been trying so hard lately. But I see the exhaustion in your eyes, even when others only see your smile that you have been so bravely showing. You don’t know what to do about it, because, in my ways, you don’t really have a choice. There are certain things that you need to do and you¬†have to do it!

What if you figured out ways throughout the week (and the weekends) when you can spend small moments of your day for yourself. Doing something you love. Focusing on slowing life down for a few minutes before you again enter into the hectic mainstream of life. Going to a small coffee shop, grabbing some great coffee, and¬†slowly sipping your favorite blend while writing about something you love…about what God has been doing in your life…or editing pictures, or simply talking to me and spending time with me. Don’t you remember how much I love hearing your voice? I don’t care if your voice trembles and tears start to fall as you meet with me and tell me how much you have been struggling with me. I love to see your beautiful smile on the good days. Or maybe it’s grabbing a couple of your closest friends and going on a hike or having a photoshoot and talking about life the whole time. Maybe it’s meeting your best friend for coffee. Or your boyfriend. Or a couple close friends.¬†Talk it out! Pray.¬†Slow life down for a little while. Believe me, Child, that is not a sin.

Take some time periodically to take good pictures! Travel a little bit and have some fun (: I know that you have it in you because I have seen the light in your eyes and I have seen you thrive in those situations.

I know you’re tired, Dear One. You’re tired of the routine of the path that I have currently set you on. Just hold on a little bit longer. You’re almost done! And I have so many amazing things planned for your summer, although not all of it will be fun for you. It’ll all be worth it, I promise.

Take a moment for rest, beautiful One. Rest doesn’t mean always wasting time watching TV, although that is part of it and I know that it is sometimes needed. Take some time to breathe. Worship me. Write a song. Clean your room so you have a better place to work. Realize that, in the big picture, this season of your life is not meaningless! Your life has meaning. It has purpose. I will continue to fill you with joy, fulfillment, and purpose as you continue to seek my heart.

Stop listening to the lies that have told you that you can’t hold on anymore. I know you, Daughter! I know that somewhere, deep down, is the fighter that has¬†always been there. Where is your competitive spirit? Where is the girl who NEVER gives up on anything? Allow me to fill your heart with your dreams again. Stop allowing your fear to put a stop to your currently unreachable dreams. Allow me to whisper to your tired heart today:

You don’t have to live your life defeated anymore.

You’re not done.

You haven’t lost!

I’m not done with you yet. And I still have so much in store for you.

And never forget that I love you and I’m on your side! Things will work out eventually ūüôā My time is different than yours. Look at the blessings I have given to you. Give your aching heart a rest.

{Tiny Steps}

Steps forward, no matter how small, is still progress.

I look at my photography work now and wonder, “Have I even improved any?” Sometimes, I think we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to see that we are, in fact, inching our way forward. It may be slow-going. Painfully slow, in some cases. But it is still going forward! And, after some time has passed, lots of effort and tears and struggles and crawling forward one tiny inch at a time, you will begin to see the progress that you have, indeed, made.

So, I decided to take a look back through some of my images. Every now and then I will include some of my more recent work to see where I came from, where I currently am, and hopefully I will be able to catch a glimpse of where I will be in a few years’ time!

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These images were taken in the summer of 2012 right after I graduated from high school when I¬†first started to get into the art of photography. My Grandpa helped me take and critique these photos as well as several of my first self-projects. He greatly encouraged me as I began taking more and more pictures and starting thinking that this could possibly become a huge part of my life. I couldn’t have guessed how big photography would be in my life in such a short time! I don’t think I have even fully discovered all that God wants me to do with photography as I seek to minister and love on the people that He puts in my path. These are some of the better images from when I first started in July, 2012. Keep checking back to see more images, both from a couple years ago when I first started as well as more recent photos! ‚̧

{Mexico, pt.2} Strength In Weakness

Americans don’t like to admit that they are weak. That they can’t do something by themselves…with their own strength. I am that way. I feel like I have to do everything by myself and that I CAN do everything by myself.

But the truth is,¬†I can’t

I like to pretend that I am strong and that I don’t need any help. But that is a lie. God really spoke to my heart in that area when I was in Mexico. For one thing, He made sure that I had pretty much no strength or energy on my own. I was running on sooo little sleep and I was pretty much always tired. I got 3 hours of sleep the night we left Cedarville and 5 hours the next night…and I barely slept during camp for some reason. Yet, I knew I had to be energetic and fun for my campers, so I knew that I needed strength and energy but I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep for that.

So I decided that every morning (as well as throughout the day as needed) I would ask God for strength for that day. Not the next day. Not even in a few hours, because I knew that I would need to ask for strength and energy multiple times a day, some days especially. God really pulled through to me and He really taught me that He can give me the strength that I need exactly when I need it.

The first day was super chaotic. We were all kinda thrown into being counselors and thrown into the camp as the campers were arriving. One of my 4th grade girls kept crying because she was overwhelmed with everything. I had music practice. I didn’t know if I had a Junior Counselor so I didn’t know what to do with my campers as I was practicing music for chapel. And I was still trying to figure out how everything worked at this camp and where everything was and how the schedule was going to look. But somehow I got through it and God showed up in that time for me.

I think that for me during this camp, God spoke to me through the little things. I could feel when He gave me strength and energy when I had none. There were times, especially at dinner, when I was sitting down and thinking: “I am just so tired right now.” I had had a long day after not sleeping very well. And I knew that chapel was coming up and in chapel all the counselors had to be super energetic and crazy because we always dance around before chapel starts and then there are also motion songs that we dance around while singing. Then, because I was on the music team, I also had to be energetic as I was playing guitar/singing on the days when I was on the stage…and even when I wasn’t, because I am a counselor, I had to have energy anyway! So there were times when I would pray right before chapel and say something like, “God, I have no energy right now. Please fill me up with energy to get through this chapel service!” And He did. And it was awesome to see and feel His presence there.

Why is it so easy to feel His presence at camp? Why is it so easy to feel Him filling me up with strength and energy at camp, yet so hard back here at school? 

#thestruggleisreal #campdepression

{Mexico, pt. 1} Just kidding…

Isn’t it so funny how we always have to know what our plans are? We’re supposed to know what we’re going to do after we graduate. Not only are we supposed to know what we want to do after graduation, we’re supposed to have a¬†detailed plan! Our lives seem to be spinning faster and faster among all our plans, duties, responsibilities, relationships, and general things we do to stay busy. Our culture has prided itself on constantly staying busy…constantly having a plan of what’s next.

I have never really been the kind of person to want to have every detail of her life planned out. In fact, I hate routine….so I have a feeling I would hate having my whole life planned out. But I have definitely felt the cultural pressure to know¬†what’s next. The point is…

We have¬†our plans…but I think God wants us to hold our plans loosely so that when he twists our plans around a little bit, we follow Him with grace and gratefulness.

We had a plan. We knew where we were going and when we wanted to get to our destination. The timing would work out well in relation to when the kids would arrive at camp. We would have time for orientation. Time for getting to know where everything was. Time to settle in a little bit as well as help set registration up and do whatever else needed to be done. That was our plan.

God had a different plan, however.

On the Friday of spring break, the whole Mexico Team met at 7am so we would be able to leave for the Columbus airport by 8am. We even left before 8am! Our first flight to Houston, Texas went fine. Then we arrived at the airport and we had a several hour layover, so we all got food and sat around and ate and talked for the time that we thought we had until our flight would leave a little while later. In a sea of red (because of our matching Mexico team jackets), we all headed over to our gate. When we got there, we discovered that our flight was delayed about 15 minutes. Although we all wanted to get there, we were okay with waiting a little bit longer. However, after several minutes had gone by, we found out that our flight was cancelled due to the Volcano in Puebla going off. Apparently we couldn’t fly because of the Volcanic ash.

We all booked it over to get in line to talk to the people working to find out when we can get another flight to Puebla. After a while, most of us were told to leave the line and stand on the side of the hall so there weren’t so many people in there. Everyone except for the leader and co-leaders stood around talking and wondering what was going to happen while the leader and co-leaders were trying to work on getting us all¬†to camp on time.

While we were waiting, we broke into several different smaller groups to pray together. Also, since our music team had never gotten the chance to practice and we doubted that we would get to because we are now going to be late, our music team sat down (or several of us anyway) with a ukulele (the only instrument we had) and working on singing through the songs and figuring stuff out. It was our first time singing together :p

I didn’t know all of this at the time, but later I found out that some really cool things happened during that time. At first we thought we could get a flight at around 5am the next morning to Puebla. We were like, “Okay, we’ll just stay the night at the airport and then leave on the next flight to Puebla. That’ll be fine.” That flight was cancelled 20 minutes later. Zach, Carissa and Andrew had to figure out how to get us all there now that it looked like no flights were going to be able to go into Puebla anytime soon. They said they could get us there on Sunday. Yeah, that would¬†not have worked at all haha. Eventually, the lady working said that there were about 5 seats open on the next flight to Mexico City, then they could take about 8 of us on another flight and 10 on another, etc. The leaders of the trip were like, “Well, okay..this is definitely not ideal, but maybe this is our only option.” So they began looking into that option. They were thinking about who would they send when, etc.

Then Andrew asks the Lady if she could just look again real fast. The lady agrees and refreshes her computer.

26 seats opened up on a flight to Mexico City the next morning.

No one had any idea where those seats came from. 26 seats?? We needed 25. God is good.

Next, we needed a place to stay. We thought we might have to stay the night at the airport, but Zach, Carissa & Andrew called the surrounding hotels to see if they had rooms available for 25 people for that night. The 12th hotel they called (I believe) was the place we ended up staying at. (It was so nice!) They had 7 rooms available for us, plus they were able to shuttle us to the hotel at night as well as shuttle us back to the airport at 5am the next morning!

That night we ate pizza for dinner, then went to sleep. We woke up early and left for the airport a little after 5 in the morning. We got on the flight to Mexico City.

Something else I didn’t know about until later happened on the flight to Mexico City. Zach and Andrew were sitting across the aisle from each other and apparently Zach mouthed “I lost my passport” to Andrew. Andrew started freaking out because if Zach couldn’t get into Mexico because he didn’t have a passport, he would have to speak at the elementary camp, etc. This went on for 45 minutes. Zach started looking in all the bags that he had with him. Andrew looked over and Zach looked more calm than he had before. He mouthed, “I found my passport!” Andrew asked, “Where was it?!” Zach said: “I was sitting on it!!

We had a good laugh about that (later. lol).

We got to the Mexico City airport but we still had to find a way to get to Puebla, preferably before camp started in like 4 hours. We all rushed to the bus stop and the leaders asked when the next bus would leave for Puebla that had 25 seats available. We were thinking, How long are we going to have to wait for that many seats to be available?

A bus heading to Puebla with 26 seats open was going to leave in about 10 minutes.

Again,¬†God is good! We rode the bus for 3 hours and we arrived at the Camp about the time the campers were arriving. We were all thrown into doing stuff with no time to think or get ourselves ready or figure out how this camp was run, etc. Ideally, we would have had an orientation, we would have gotten to know the staff a little bit, we would have been able to look around and see the camp and our cabins and just get prepared a little bit. But that didn’t happen :p It was a little chaotic, that’s for sure!

I have so much more to say, but I will write some follow-up posts soon. One of the main things I learned on our way to Mexico through this situation is that God has a plan. And it was different than ours.¬†But that’s okay! Sometimes God completely redirects our paths and we don’t need to be stressed out about it because I knew that God would bring us to where we needed to go when we needed to be there. It would have been easier for us if we had gotten there when we were supposed to and it would have been less tiring to have one¬†long day of traveling instead of two! But God is soooo good. He taught us so much through that interesting and unexpected experience and He still got us to where we needed to go! There is still¬†so much to say, but I’ll leave it at that for now ūüôā

Sometimes God says, “I see your plans and they are good…but I have¬†better plans for you! I have plans that will better show you who I am and I have plans for you that will show you that you¬†can trust me.” Sometimes I think I know where I’m going, but then God says, “Just kidding, this is where you need to go!”