The Fan Fab Four!

IMG_9373I haven’t done one of these post where I tell you about some of my favorite people, I also realized last week that I never posted about my time in Central Asia, and that’s just a giant fail on my part! But no worries friends it’ll be here tomorrow, but until then I wanted to bring you some awesome women from that trip! Meet some incredible ladies that I had the privilege of living with, growing with, and loving. These women are all so vastly different, but together they were so perfect and taught me so much about life and what it means to walk in the light of truth and grace. It’s beautiful and they’re even more beautiful than the words I could ever write in this blog post, so instead just have fun with it and enjoy meeting the ladies of the fan fab four!

IMG_4652These women are seriously the best, and I can’t give enough thanks for them. World, meet Annie, Soumya, and Laura! These are just three of my six roommates. These women challenged me in incredible ways and really showed me what it means to live a life with purpose. Each of them are crazy amazing, and helped me to grow a lot this summer.IMG_4616First off we have Laura! This girl a ball of joy and I love her so much. Laura was my roommate and I can’t think of many nights that we didn’t lay in bed talking for hours. Laura is a naturally hysterical person. I would laugh for hours at the things she did, and would nearly pee myself on a handful of occasions. But aside from this beautiful women’s wit is her gentle and kind heart. Laura knows how to dish out the truth and call things like they are but she’s also so knowledgeable and loving. Throughout the course of the summer there were some hard things that happened and I knew I could count on Laura not to judge me but instead to love me through the hard things. This girl loved me so much to even love me and see me through some dark days and I’m so thankful for her.

Laura, you’re a rare gem that I’m so thankful that I’ve found in my life. Your passion for life is impeccable and infectious and so so so beautiful. You are so full of life and you breathe it onto others. Continue to be you and never apologize for it. You are the literal best and I love your England, baby!

IMG_4505This is Annie, and we’re basically the same person. I always knew that if a situation came up Annie and I were basically thinking the exact same things. But aside from that we both have a huge passion for loving others and allowing them to be their true selves around us. This girl and I have a lot of similarities in our struggles and through that together we were able to confide in one another and love each other through the ruble. Annie has such a heart for others and it’s beautiful. She saw beauty in the brokenness of Central Asia and she loved the people there so well. It made my heart so happy to be able to walk beside her in the crazy season of our lives!

Annie, you are amazing and your sassy, spitfire, take no prisoner attitude is something I love about you. You’re always saying what everyone else is thinking and I love it. You’re incredibly beautiful and I cannot wait to see you again and reconnect on life. You’re the best!

IMG_4963Lastly we have the sweet Soums! Soumya is a beautiful gem that popped her way into my life a little over a year ago and I’ve thought she was pretty cool ever since. Soumya has a calm spirit that I truly admire and something I aspire to have. She understands grace and walks in it daily, and it’s probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I learned a lot this summer from this girl and I’m so excited that I get to have her as a fun sized bonus in my life!

Hey Soums, thanks for every conversation and moment of clarity that we shared together. It’s beautiful to know that I’m not gonna loose you in my life. You’re such a wonderful sister and I love you. Keep being you and remember that even when it’s hard to trust, and love. Cause even if not He is still good!

IMG_9378I learned more this summer from these three women then what I could ever write out in this simple blog post. But my hope is that in my words you can see the beauty of these ladies. They are three of the most genuine human beings I’ve ever met and I’m forever changed and a better person because I know them. I look at them and I see eternity. I see joy through trials and I see four incredibly broken women who are being redeemed daily because of a love that is so much greater than all of us. I see the love that I’ve always longed for from a sister fulfilled in these three women. My hope for you readers is that if you know these women personally you would only get a more beautiful view of their hearts, and if you don’t know them personally my hope is you would find a friend like them like I have.

IMG_9514These ladies inspire me to love others well, and to remember that the love I have received is the love I’m called to give. I have seen and experienced grace first hand and it’s one of the most beautiful things I think a person could ever experience. In part I have these women to thank for that. So to each of them I say thank you, thank you for putting up with my crazy life, my volume problems, and my bluntness and loving me through it! Y’all are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and I can’t express my thanks enough for y’all. So continue to strive for redemption and love others well! I love each of you more than I could ever express and I hope you’ll stay in my life for a very long time.

IMG_4659IMG_9377IMG_8399IMG_8243IMG_8580IMG_9574IMG_7625IMG_4606Y’all are the literal best, heres to the fan fab four!

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Thursday Thoughts: Fighting for Joy

zxyxxPicMonkey CollageHey Friends, first of all so sorry you didn’t get a new and exciting post yesterday for Tuesday Confessions. In getting adjusted to school and everything I completely forgot to have something for you. My b, loves! But today on the blog is something I’ve realized is really important to me recently. It’s something that I think really defines me as a person but also as someone who is human, someone that struggles, but most importantly it helps show that I’m being refined and renewed day by day. That topic is joy. Joy is something that I never realized I truly lacked until this last year. It’s not that I don’t think I ever had it before but more so that I lost it sometime ago. I lost it in my suffering and I never knew how to get it back. Until recently I don’t even think I knew what it truly meant to experience joy and also to even rejoice with others. However this lesson is something that has come ridiculously clear that it is something that I’ve needed to learn. So today friends we get real and raw about the beauty and necessity in choosing joy and rejoicing with others!

So think about it, life, it’s hard and sometimes to be blunt it blows. Seriously you study really hard for a test and yet you still fail, you get into a huge fight with a friend and you’re now x-friends, or the worst someone near and dear to you passes away. In all of these situations we see different situations that could cause frustration, pain, and suffering. No matter the situation anything can bring a person to their knees and give them a loss of joy. When I look at my life I see where there have absolutely been moments where I have an epic loss of joy and where I see no light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s in those moments where I must trust. I have to trust that there is a plan that is greater than me and that it is at work in my life. I see that now that by choosing to follow that plan joy doesn’t always come easy but it does come. That’s the point friends, it does in fact come in one way or another!

To neglect joy you will be left with regret and pain that no one can ever fix, regardless of their efforts. Now choosing joy isn’t always easy. Recently I’ve seen that in a friendship I have. It’s really hard some days, but through choosing it I’ve come to find that I am so much happier and all around better to be around because of that choice. I have chosen to rejoice with their friend in their joy even when it feels like I shouldn’t. If you were to only be happy in a friendship when things they did benefitted you it wouldn’t be a friendship at all it would be slavery! Seriously, if you’re only friends with someone because they benefit you they’re a slave to you. I hate to say it but I definitely lived this way for a long time. And now that this friend has found happiness that has nothing to do and they’ve asked me to rejoice with them, I can’t even for a second say that it’s been easy. It’s been a daily fight for joy, but in those moments when I choose to allow joy to engulf me and radically turn things around it has left me awestruck! I see the beauty in seeing others happy and being able to rejoice with them has helped me to feel joy. It’s truly amazing.

Now just because I find joy one day doesn’t mean it never goes away again, because like I said before It’s a daily fight for joy! So I’ve found various ways to remind myself of this beautiful thing called joy and they’re super easy. The main way I do this is by starting my day saying that I’m going to choose joy. I will choose it in every situation, and I will run gracefully toward it with all I have. So in this I talk to close friends about my struggles and through them I have accountability in it. Another way is through my phone. Yep, this simple gadget helps to remind me by me setting positive and encouraging backgrounds as my lock and home screen. I look at my phone so much that this really does help. Currently my backgrounds consist of the two photos below. The “Today I choose Joy” one is my lock screen and the other is my home screen. Both really help me to see the beauty in joy and also in walking in a graceful way towards the freedom that joy brings me. It’s something that I long for so many to experience and that I want them to understand that by choosing that daily it will be another key to the door to true and infinite freedom!  slide22be499ff00a6deaf820157f7a3c4d0522Choosing joy is a fight, but it is a fight worth getting in the ring for. Joy is something that sustains and brings life to every person it touches. So please fight for joy and when you find it never let it go. It not only helps in your own redemption but it helps in restoring hope that could have been lost in any of life’s crazy antics that it puts us through. But in all remember that there is always hope, there is always joy, and when found one is set free.

My Life Monday

Readers, this last week has been so awesome but I know that I won’t have weeks like this again for a long time because school is getting ready to start. It’s been a week of fun, reconnecting with friends, because students are finally coming back, and puppy sitting like a boss! This week I got to keep some friends pups for two and a half days and it was great. It was just fun cause they’re little dogs who were both cuddle addicts and since I can’t cuddle with a real person due to my singleness cuddling with the pups totally sufficed, haha! Totally joking, with a tad bit of sincerity! But besides that I finished the 6th Season of One Tree Hill, and I’m squealing at my next chance to watch that incredible show, and hopefully finish it very soon. I know I’m gonna cry when I finish it, there’s just no way around that.

Whewww, I’m so ready for school to start back up it’s not even funny! This summer has been quite a whirlwind and filled with adventures that I never thought would come my way, but they came, and my life was wrecked in the best way possible because of them. This coming week will be filled with a lot of starts in my life and I’m super excited about them. I will have some leadership training, along with training for my new super chic job at Chic Fil A, ha! See what I did there?! Then I get to begin what is known as “Blitz Week” with my awesome team here on campus with The Company. Blitz week is essentially where we all go crazy to get contacts and promote The Company on our campus. As long as I’ve been with The Company I’ve never gotten to really take part in this week and I must say I’m super pumped about it. Nervous, but still pumped.

Onto my life….

-Well I’ve begun the process of completing a goal on my Senior Year Bucket List (the full thing will be hitting the blog this Thursday) of reading a book every month. This month’s book was, “Just Do Something” by Kevin DeYoung. It was interesting, convicting, and healing in a lot of ways. I have a great deal of thoughts on the whole thing, and all in all I’m really thankful I read it. Definitely put the phrase “Reject Passivity” into perspective.

-When I find a song I love I will listen to it on repeat, FOR DAYS! I’m not joking! My current obsession has to be “Leave the Night on” by Same Hunt. It’s wonderful, and perfect for blaring down these back country roads of Southwest Virginia!

-Puppies and babies are the best cure for anything in my book! Seriously if I’m having a terrible day or I’m sobbing uncontrollably just give me a pup or a sweet babe and I’m instantly better. I might not stop crying but I will honestly be so much better off. I don’t care what judgement comes my way from that statement, but it’s true.

-I’m such a words person… seriously, and I love journaling. In a lot of ways it’s so freeing to me to get to just put all my thoughts out there in a place for only my eyes. It’s my safe place. This week I made myself a new journal and I’ve been going crazy. Almost every night I’ve been writing out my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly! It’s all in there. Essentially it’s an intense journey into my soul.

-I’m pretty obsessed with people. I wish I were an introvert, but I’m also really glad I’m not one. My friend Kaitlyn makes fun of me all the time because there are people in my life who I’m obsessed with and I realized this past week that so many of them will be back in my life, and lets be honest tears will probably be shed.

-I want to go on a hike, like bad! Just let me go to the highest point in the area and look out over creation. Just thinking about it causes me to well up. Seriously, it will give me such a rush to see someplace new and exciting because recently the wanderlust in my heart is just intense!

So that’s it for now readers, check in tomorrow to see one “disease” that I unashamedly (I use that word a lot) suffer with. It’s gonna be great! But until then please enjoy one of the babies that I’m just downright obsessed with!

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Thursday Thoughts: I’m about to be a Senior in College!

Yep, I said it! In just a little over a week I will be starting my last year of college. I’m pretty much in a whirlwind of emotions and don’t really know where to begin. I can think back to my very first day at Radford, EVER! It was the most beautiful Fall day and the campus was glowing with excitement that comes with all things Fall in the New River Valley. The trees were changing colors and the true beauty of this area was coming full in full swing. I remember getting out of the car and stepping onto the campus and immediately looking at my grandmother saying, “Nonna, I’m going here!” She was shocked that I said that.

Growing up I believed one of two things would happen for me, One I would be a Virginia Tech Hokie or I would be an Ohio State Buckeye! Those two schools screamed my name and they were places I longed to be, but man am I thankful that on that visit to VT I decided to just make the extra 15 drive to Radford and tour the campus. This campus has done nothing short of change my life.

People aren’t joking when they say college changes you and helps you to truly find who you are. I look back at who I was before high school and I can honestly say that I’m shocked I had friends, and that I even made it through. I was so lost and confused about what life was all about. I was a typical adolescent who believed I was invincible and could do no wrong. But now I see all these changes that have happened in my life and I see where I’ve experienced grace and redemption in an abundance. And I see most of all how I am truly blessed to have been able to find all of this.

So now here I am 21 years old getting ready to begin my senior year and all I can think of is all the changes that are getting ready to come my way. But I don’t want to think about those changes just yet, I want to focus on the here and now. The here and now is that I’m getting ready to begin a new chapter in my life, one that will be filled with new adventures and beauty that I’m ready to take by storm. This year will have a lot of different emotions and will also bring a lot of changes that I’m overjoyed for. It’s gonna be crazy and exciting and beautiful and I’m honestly at a loss for words! (and we all know thats rare, haha)

So now friends get ready for the greatness that is about to be my senior year of college and I’m so excited to document so much of it here and share in life with all of you. So now get ready cause next week on Thursday Thoughts I’ll be telling you all about some of my goals and aspirations for this next year in my Senior Year Bucketlist! It’s gonna be great so check it out!IMG_8726

Thursday Thoughts: Assisting Kaitlyn Phipps Photography

One thing that I have admitted and been very vocal about recently is my love of photography and how it is something I’d love to grow and turn it into something. Capturing  images of people at their happiest moments is something that brings me such joy. And knowing that there is a potential for me to be able to deliver that to people sends shivers through my veins. Those shivers are good though. Like the shivers you get when you see the person you love and you finally get to embrace them after a long time. It’s life changing all in itself.

So with my first wedding coming up in just a few short months I went to my sweet friend, Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn is an up and coming photographer and man is she talented?! Seriously Kaitlyn has this eye for capturing life as people live it. She just wants people to experience life when she photographs them and when she’s shooting a wedding or engagement shoot or anything with their significant other she just wants them to remember why they fell in love and she just wants them to do it all over again! And that is exactly what I would want in a mentor when it comes to photography.

So there was a wonderful opportunity coming up and it was to assist her in shooting my friend Becca’s wedding and Kaitlyn offered me the chance to do this. I was overjoyed when Kaitlyn asked me and I knew it would be a great learning experience and that it would help me to see the behind the scenes of a wedding from the photography standpoint.

So some things I learned from the whole experience is that to be honest I KNOW NOTHINGS! Ha, and man was that humbling. I totally thought I had it all together, but that was so far from the truth. Kaitlyn taught me so much that day whether she knows it or not. She taught me that as the photographer you have to be ready to roll with the punches, because every wedding day has it’s own set of punches. Kaitlyn taught me that being organized and being ready to snap that camera at any given moment is the second most important part of your job. While the most important part is to remember that your job as a wedding photographer is to help remind the people who your photographing remember why they first fell in love. That is the point of what WE as wedding photographers do! We capture love. And that is the most important lesson I learned from Kaitlyn.

Matt and Becca’s wedding was absolutely incredible! From the moment I showed up and Becca gave me the biggest hug, to the sparkler send off! Kaitlyn did an excellent job of being professional throughout the day and at the same time just being plain awesome.

Kaitlyn, thank you for teaching me just a few of the ropes of wedding photography an what it means to capture life and reminding people of why they fell in love. You’re so wonderful and I smile knowing this is not the end of our lessons together! You’re an incredible teacher and your passion for this industry is beautiful. You are an incredible photographer, friend, and sister. I love you friend. You’re the best!

imageGotta have this blurry picture, because as photographers we have blurry lives and we roll with the punches!

I’M BACK!!

IMG_8738Oh hey ‘Merica!!!! I’m backkkkkkk! Gosh, my heart is full right now. I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop on campus, with my current favorite song blasting in my head phones, just basking in the beauty of my life right now! I am so excited to catch y’all up on all I’ve been doing the past two months, and letting you in on some updates that will be coming to the blog! It’s gonna be so awesome so let’s just dive right into it.

Well I just got back from my most favorite place in the entire world, Central Asia! That land has my heart like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and just knowing that I’ve gotten to go there and teach English and share about my life to the students there overwhelms my heart in the greatest ways possible. I’ll go into greater detail about that later this week, but know that I am forever changed because of that incredible place and it’s even lead to a few enhancements that will be coming to the blog!

Gosh, have I ever mentioned that I reallllyyyy love blogging? Well even though I often times forget to do so for long gaps of time I really do love it. So to avoid the long gaps of no blogging I’m going to get some accountability up in here for y’all! So for that I’ve come up with some new titles, if you will, that make it so I literally HAVE to blog!! YEAAAAA, I’m so excited about this, so here we go!

Every Monday there will be a new “My Life Monday” post. These post will basically be a recap of the previous week that will go through, my general life including photography, my travels, and so much more. I’ve just come to realize that y’all do enjoy hearing about my crazy life and all that comes with it, and I’ve finally come to a place where I think it’s totally cool to share about it! Now here’s my favorite thing I’m doing, I got the idea for this while I was in Central Asia, and it’s literally the bomb.com, do people still say that? TUESDAY CONFESSIONS!! This will be a new segment on the blog and I’m oozing with excitement for this. These confessions will be different every week, it could be Confessions of a World Traveler, Confessions of  Thrifting Addict, and so much more. It’s gonna be great so stay tuned. Wednesdays will be reserved for blogging about any shoots I do (Golden Hour, Chasing the Light), so these won’t necessarily happen every week but they will be used for something. Thursday Thoughts will also be a new segment. This will be a super simple post just sharing about things I love and what my thoughts are on them. One thing I love to do is talk and share my thoughts with others and also hear theres. So this segment will be about that.

So all of these post will begin next week and be forever in effect. I’m so excited to share my life with y’all and let you into the crazy whirlwind of it all! You guys are the best, and I can’t thank you enough for sticking with me through my crazy times of forgetting to blog, and just being lazy. But seriously y’all are the best and I’m excited to share this with y’all. How many times can I use the words “excited” and “y’all” in a single post?

Well before I leave you today I’ll leave you with some awesome photos from my time in Central Asia. Be looking for some post about that this week. It’ll definitely be more than one so get ready 🙂

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The Reason for it All

IMG_1747IMG_1226 IMG_3124Hey friends! It has been an extremely crazy time in my life, but it’s finally finals week here at Radford, and I couldn’t be more excited for this. This semester, scratch that, this year has been the most taxing on me in every sense of the meaning. Emotionally I have experienced more this year than I have in a long time, and I think I’ve just come to realize that there will be days when I don’t understand, and when I won’t enjoy the hand I’ve been dealt, but deep down I’ll know that it is for a much greater purpose than I could ever imagine. Every tear, bad day, and moment of insecurity will all become meaningless when its all said and done. That friends is the reason for it all.

I am a striver. I constantly want people to love me and approve of me. I have definitely felt some liberation from the approval aspect but that bit that I hold onto still has a strong pull on my life. Throughout the last year of my life I have felt extremely unlovable. Like my personality, because of how strong and heavy it is, is undesirable to others. People have tried to convince me otherwise of this but nothing ever seems to work. I have read books on books on books of how different personalities and different people are needed to create a well oiled machine, but I always feel my contribution to that machine will break down the entire operation. I just never feel good enough. But recently someone shared with me some information that I desperately needed to hear, even if I didn’t necessarily like it…

1. Maybe I’m not supposed to know the plans for me life

2. Maybe I’m not supposed to always fit the mold of the world

3. Asking the question of, “Why did this happen to me?” might not always get answered, or at least not in the way you thought it would.

4. Sometimes we need to forgive even if we’re not actually ready.

These four bits of information have continually been repeated into my life in the last few weeks, but most specifically the last two. My main question recently has been why. I sat in a car in a parking lot on campus with my best friend a few nights ago and just bawled because I want to understand why!? Why did I lose my mom in the middle of my college years when I really needed her? Why, after making it a conscious decision to remain single for a whole year am I still single? Why do I feel like everyone has just walked away? Why? Why!? WHY!? Do I sound like a brat or what!? Seriously, even as I write this I can think of 20 more “Why” questions? But my question should not be “Why?”, rather it should be a response of, “I’m just going to trust, even when it hurts, and especially when it’s hard!”

Someone recently shared with me a story of a girl who was called into an extremely difficult situation that she was far from prepared for, but she was told that maybe, just maybe; right here and right now in the fire and the ruble of your broken life; YOU WERE CREATED FOR A TIME SUCH AS THIS! hearing this left me on my face! What if in it all this is my “WHY!” I was created for such a time as this. A time of intense growth, and a time of intense trust!

This trust was proven to be needed just a week ago. I shared recently of how I experienced grace in the greatest way possible when I felt like a relationship of mine was being mended. Well a little over a week ago I felt some extreme conviction in regard to that relationship. I had been so mean to this person. I would cold shoulder them and ignore them. I hated being around them because I was holding back so much of what I honestly wanted out of everything with this person. Well this conviction got so strong that I was moved to tears lying in bed one night that I knew what I had to do. The next day I saw this person and I pulled them aside and I let it all go. I begged for forgiveness for all of my wrong doings in our whole relationship, I revealed some truth that needed to be shared, and then I did it… I told them that I forgave them. In that moment did I want to do that? HECK NO! But, I knew I needed to.This person forgave me without hesitation, and reaffirmed me in all I did that day. They told me they were proud of me and that I was brave. That word brave… it has such a deep meaning in my life. It has implications like nothing I’ve experienced recently. I knew that in order for this weight to be lifted I had to be brave, I had to recognize the true reason for it all.

I’m not writing this post to say I’ve gotten it all figured out, or to share my “ah ha” moment in it all, but rather to remind myself, and you that I am human, that I am woman, that I am emotional, that I have passion, that I mess up, that I suffer, and that all in all IT’S OK! I am daily being renewed by a force much greater than you and I combined. I am being restored to an eternal glory that I was indefinitely created for. That my friends is the reason for it all. That is why I feel joy through my pain, and freedom in my suffering! That is why I can stand before the world today knowing that all in all I am more than a conqueror through Him who loves me!

I have recently heard a song that encapsulates my thoughts in the greatest way possible, here are some of the lyrics,

“As Your love In wave after wave Crashes over me, For You are for us You are not against us Champion of Heaven You’ve made a way For all to enter in…You make me brave, you call me out beyond the shore and to the wave. You make me brave, no fear handle now the promises you’ve made…”IMG_2267