+ 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.

– – –

[ colin + andrea’s engagement shoot ]
– – –

– – –

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

– – –

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.

– – –

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

+ 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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+ 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..

+ 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 confidantethat 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.

– – –
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.

+ 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.


+ 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.


+ 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.

+ 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

+ 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.


+ 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