Category Archives: featured

Happy Birthday Mom

45 things (in celebration of 45 years of life!) my mom has taught me since becoming my mom:

  1. You can do hard things
  2. My mommy comes back, she always comes back to get me
  3. Don’t squeeze your candy bars too hard, even when you’re excited
  4. You need to make it home wherever you are
  5. Airports are designed so if you can’t even speak the language you can navigate: you’re fine traveling nationally or internationally
  6. If the coffee is bad it doesn’t count
  7. In addition, life is too short for bad coffee
  8. Valentine’s day is an appropriate time to shower your children with singing cards and really bad poems
  9. Christmas is everything
  10. We must clean this house until it “shines like the top of the Chrysler building”
  11. Slippers are acceptable foot wear for leaving the house
  12. Money spent on LuLaRoe is really an investment if you think about it…
  13. Never regret spending money on things that make you better: coffee and books
  14. Read, read, read
  15. Don’t talk to me before my first cup of coffee
  16. Calling your mom more than once a day isn’t weird, it’s necessary
  17. I’m proud of you
  18. That one time we hiked across Spain in 33 days for 500 miles
  19. Just because no one can name the song after you sing it doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re talking about
  20. When traveling, don’t forget to have some Godiva chocolate, a massage chair, and Treat. Yo. Self.
  21. You can never have enough snowmen in your snowmen collection
  22. You can make a difference, you’re Wonder Woman
  23. Don’t be so hard on yourself, God gives you grace and you should too
  24. “I just want you to know I’m really happy right now”
  25. A vacation is not an excuse to relax and be a bum.
  26. It’s okay to laugh once you know everyone is okay
  27. Lord of the Flies is a pivotal read and a rite of passage. Same with Macbeth.
  28. A day without Near Island coffee, is that even really a day?
  29. Don’t forget to dream about what you want to do when you grow up, even when you’ve “grown up”
  30. Travel is always in the budget
  31. You can’t please everyone, even though you really like to Sara
  32. “I’m an artist, on envelopes, canvas, and everything”
  33. Be the first one ready to do something crazy
  34. Always have time for your family
  35. Self care is not an option, it’s a necessity.
  36. Not feeling it? Dress for how you want to feel
  37. Always be a learner
  38. God takes care of my babies and He is faithful to keep them safe
  39. “thanks mom you’re the best”
  40. Keeping Christmas secrets (or surprises in general) is a stress that one doesn’t need in their life
  41. Leggings constitute as an “emergency”
  42. Being smart is more important then being pretty but hey, it doesn’t hurt that you’re both 😉
  43. Just because people make fun of your attempt to speak Spanish doesn’t mean you should listen to the “haters”
  44. Date your husband
  45. I luva, luva, luva you

 

Thanksgiving: emotional and yes, Turkey day.

Words bled from my pen and my heart onto cards bound for all corners of the Earth today until a hand cramp and a writing callous told me it was time to take a break. I am terribly embarrassed at how long it has taken me to write all the thank you cards that are due from Matt and I’s big day. June is almost over (where did June go? Honestly I didn’t plan for much after the wedding so this month was a surprise. Wait, June comes after May? May 29th comes after May 28th? Huh) and I still have approximately a million thank you cards to write. Let me take this time to say to those reading this that are wondering where their thank you card is… thank you for your patience! It’s on the way, I promise! And I am still really thankful! Really!

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Live, from Sara’s workshop. Can we also take a moment to talk about this desk? I’m obsessed. It’s never allowed to move, mostly because we found out (after purchasing from a swip-swap page) that it’s about 200 pounds and too wide to fit through the door that was suppose to be my office. Note to self: ask for measurements next time. So my office is the living room. Keeps me from being a shut-in I suppose.

As I was writing I was overwhelmed by a sense of thanksgiving. There are so many people represented in our wedding day alone that cause a reason for thankfulness. I read through the cards that people gave us and the kind words of support and love. Who deserves love and support like this? In moments where thanksgiving and blessing come over me like the faithfulness of the tide rushing in, I feel that the only appropriate response is to be brought to my knees and to allow the tears to race down my face in a hot, unforgiving mess.

So much of my life is unfortunately shadowed by doubt and anxiety. The enemy sees this humble servant stumbling and presses on these areas. It has come to be a place where I wonder if I can identify with Paul and the thorn in his side, perhaps my spiritual thorn in my side is this area of weakness? Henri Nouwen said

“Your heart is greater than your wounds”

Praise be to God for that. I am like the man who pleads with God to help his unbelief: yes God, I have seen your faithfulness, felt it permeate through all aspects of my life… yet I am scared. Here I am with my head clenched between my hands and my heart in a fist. Help my unbelief. Let my heart be greater than my wounds.

I must confess: I love being young, in love and dirt poor. It has been only an adventure of a month and has been the greatest adventure of my life. I will forever love to tell the story of how we slept our first few nights in our house with our air mattress in the dining room because it was the only room with AC. I laugh at how we didn’t have propane for 12 days (and didn’t have a microwave) and ate a hearty diet of sandwiches and chips. I love all these moments because when Matt looks at me as we are up to our elbows in the water that is flooding out of our washer and says “I wouldn’t trade a single thing”, my heart flutters. And when I am weeping out of foolishness, homesickness, and stress, he takes my head and places it on his chest and takes my hands and bends my fears into prayers. WE are rich. 13524104_1205470696137828_1078218754_o

Click to see the song Matt and I currently adore.

During this season I finally made time to read Ann Voskamp’s novel, One Thousand Gifts. I have been encouraged time and time again but honestly put it off because I knew it would be convicting and painful (Wow, Sara is sooooo spiritually mature). And I was right, this book was overwhelming and fantastic. I devoured her words in a literary Thanksgiving dinner. Rushed straight to the pie and didn’t stop until I had licked the plate clean and had to put on sweatpants.

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Simply put, praise be to God. I am humbled by this season of being newly married as it is a dose of humility. Until recently, we had no clue how we were going to pay for July’s rent (oh dear Lord, I hope our realtor doesn’t get wind of this). We looked at the numbers in our bank account and the math didn’t add up. In moments like this is my first response to praise God? Often not. I love how in Daniel 3:18, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego have just finished telling off the King “Hey, no way are we bowing down to your idol. We love God, like the true God. Go ahead and put us in a bonfire, God has the power to save us.” (Sara’s summary of it, go read Daniel 3) and THEN he says

“18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:18 ESV

But if not.

But.

If.

Not.

That is true thanksgiving. That is true praise and worship. Looking, literally in the face of death and being able to stand firm and trust that obedience is enough. That obedience is all that is called of us and all of us should be put into that. This is a slap in a face when I’m worried about stupid things like money and furniture and employment. Ann Voskamp expresses the same obedience to thanksgiving in her novel, not simply when it is easy to be thankful, but all the time.

I’m learning that often the road to thanksgiving calls for humility. I’m learning that trusting God looks a lot like obedience. I’m learning that if I keep showing up, I grow in faith, and thanksgiving is a natural outpouring of that. We serve a God of grace. I am thankful to be a servant to a God that picks me up in spite of myself, in spite of my works. This is all the more reason I desire to surrender in obedience to Him. What better way to thank the God of Grace? Obedience is not worship if it is an outpouring of ritual or legalism. I’m talking about the obedience shown in the book of Daniel, true obedience as an expression of thanksgiving for the grace I don’t deserve but am given in full.  I am excited to continue growing until I am in the place that even in the face of the most trying circumstances I can praise God’s will and say “But if not, I will do what I have been called to do.”

Free furniture from our church family? Praise be to God.

Tight budget for this month? Praise be to God.

Job opportunity on the horizon? Praise be to God.

Homesickness? Praise be to God.

New Christian friends? Praise be to God.

115 degrees? Praise be to God.

Praise is not my first inclination.My human nature so desires control and immediate response. But there is so much praise and thanksgiving due to our Papa God. It’s a growing and stretching process but as I have said before,

Praise be to God.

 

 

Here we go again…365 round 2

The year 2014 was big for me. It marked a year studded with transition and change, adventure and misadventure, and I relish in the memories made that year. That year I finished my term in Key Club, I graduated high school, I hiked across a country, I went commercial fishing for a hitch, I moved to Chicago, I had a fun job I finished my first semester of college… It was a big one for a small town girl.

I took a much needed sabbatical from photography after that season. I loved capturing that season of transition but it also was exhausting. It grew my perspective, my photography skills, and my discipline. It was so satisfying to look back at a year of hard work.

This year is huge too. Welcome to 2016! It’s June and the welcome is overdue but this year we are counting a little differently than traditional. I am doing another 365 that started June 4th, 2016. I want to capture the moments of this brand new season of marriage that I would otherwise forget or neglect to notice if I didn’t have the third eye of my camera guiding me. My favorite thing about my previous 365 project is I have a living document showcasing that year. I can remember what I felt most days and my photography often reflects how I felt. I don’t want to miss this. Mind you I will do my best to avoid a million pictures of Matt, and foodies (though they are included, no worries). This is a more relaxed version of my previous project. I am not as crazy about rules and I am using my DSLR, my GoPro, and iPhone to capture these moments. Not all of them are National Geographic quality. Sometimes it’s about the moment, not the moment captured. There is some deep quote about that in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, look it up. ANYWAYS…Enjoy this adventure. I’m loving it myself and I am honored to share it with you dear reader.

Day 1: Moved into our new home. Matt’s dramatically showcasing our funky fans we have adorning the house. He is a very patient model.

Day 2: Sasha and Chad asked me to take some pictures of them. They hate us and moved away this month.

Day 3: Goodnight desert, this is starry sky photo from our sandy backyard.

Day 4: Man of the house, I make him pose everywhere for me. He hates how his hair is kinda funky this day but that smirk gets me every time.

Day 5: I love how there is beauty in the desert still.

Day 6: I was having a bad day so Matt took me to one of my favorite places, Joshua Tree. Shortly after this picture he got stuck on a rock ledge and proceeded to meow like a cat realizing he was trapped.

Day 7: Speaking of cats, cat-sitting.

Day 8: We went on some off road vehicles with friends from church and saw the largest boulder west of the Mississippi (which checks out, it’s a real thing). Had a blast with friends from church having a going away BBQ for friends moving.

Day 9: Our dining room, furniture courtesy of generous members of our church.

Day 10: We got a $50 washer and a $50 dryer that don’t match but work fine and I love it. Tilt-shift photography.

Day 11: Trying to beat the heat and these fans are my biggest fans as of late.

Day 12: We finally got propane! So we celebrated with stir-fry. Duh.

Day 13: Our bedroom to be. If it wasn’t so dang hot. Oh and a bed, we kinda need a bed.

Day 14: I’m obsessed with any cloud cover we get, no matter how small or rare.

Day 15: Slept on the floor at Matt’s aunt’s in Temecula. Can’t complain, the company of family is always a blessing.

Day 16: I’m still ridiculously pale and still get butterflies when he holds my hand.

Day 17: 3 boxes of belongings today! Love the mug collection we have growing. Tilt-shift also.

Day 18: Matt working on figuring out how to install our new AC unit for our room. Our family blesses us in so many ways. His sunburn is really bad.

Day 19: Acclimating bit by bit, I could walk outside today without feeling like I was dying? Progress is progress.

To the Desert

Sitka Spruce dot the land, the harbor and city come into view and the white caps decorate the ocean below. As a family of smart travelers I am usually found in the back of the plane behind the wing. I don’t mind too much unless there is a reunion I am itching to throw my arms around down below in that oh so familiar one room airport. And of course as long as turbulence isn’t extreme, because in that case the back of the plane is experiencing an entirely different flight than those up front catching every motion of the plane on the emotional winds. As the plane descends there is an air of relief with my fellow passengers, 75% at least or more I recognize as community members, friends, my town. Some perhaps have been waiting for this blissfully clear day for days, we have all been there. It’s a terrible rite of passage that sourdoughs here wear as medals of honor with accompanying stories to top one another over coffee at a friend’s house. I find myself breath in relief every time I am about to land at home because it’s a feeling of finally. As we approach closer Pillar and her 6 wind turbines stand in a way that seems strangely natural. Closer still, and Boy Scout beach and the Buskin River come into view and pass. As we touch the runway I can see where the ocean kisses the shore and brushing against the rocks lining the start of the tarmac and the familiar airport of home comes into view.

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I wait patiently (and other times not so patiently) for the plane to unload. That passenger seat belt sign kicks off and the symphony of clicking seatbelts off rings in the cabin. Bags are found, belongings gathered, laughter and meaningful small talk (which in a small town is a real thing) ensue and the door is opened cooling the cabin immediately with faithful Kodiak wind. Unfortunately the further I travel and the longer I stay away the more difficult the season of adjustment to the weather is coming back. In this temperature I would normally be with a sweatshirt, maximum, but here I am bundled like some, dare I say, tourist. Though living in Chicago gave me a taste of my coldest winder yet (I will never forget February of 2015) Kodiak is a chilly that is comforting and unlike any other.

Finally taking my steps off the plane and descending down the stairs I pause for a brief moment and breathe in the freshest air I have tasted in my life. The sea breeze fills my lungs and it’s as if residue from the ocean mist fills my veins, into my very being. This feeing I can never convey but can only show to people by bringing them here. This sleepy fishing town nestled in emeralds of Spruce trees and caressed by the ocean’s constant and needed presence, Kodiak is a forever home sort of place.

In part of my growing pains I am learning to find my sense of place. My sense of place has been completely turned upside down and inconsistent since leaving the house. It’s an exciting time and some of it’s normal but with a long distance relationship, a hometown in rural Alaska, a traveling heart, a move to the city, and an upcoming move upon getting married my sense of place has been found in various moments, various towns, and with various people.

And I am brought to the desert. This island girl is being starved of the ocean she knows but I will be moving with the love of my life, a small price to pay for love I’d say. The beauty of this move to the desert is it meets me where I am. In the midst of a very trying spring semester I broke down with my roommate. Her love for Matt Chandler’s sermons and great wisdom helped me “unslump” a bit and I was able to refocus despite the hard place I was in.

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Simply put, sometimes God ordains the desert. Matt Chandler goes on (check it out right here) and points to the character of God. The desert isn’t abandonment, the desert is for growing seasons.

Matt and I are using the beautiful and rare time we do have together to explore when we can.  Though my visit here is coming to a close the countdown until we are Mr. and Mrs. is quickly ending and we will start our new chapter together. It’s a strange sense of home because there are trails and we can walk and talk like good old times. Back in Kodiak Matt and I were going on a walk every day just about. It’s a sense of home. We’re at home with each other and it’s great to have a haven that feels like where our roots together started. We paused on the trail yesterday and just sat there together and took in the everything and enjoyed just being.

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The desert reminds me how to just be. The desert reminds me to breathe. The desert reminds me a bit about God’s peace too. The silence in the desert is unreal. The ocean, and the ocean I know full well is noisy. It crashes onto the shore and collides with it’s surroundings. It’s beautiful, it shows me how undeniably God exists. The desert is quiet, it’s still. The rocks jet out of dry ground like a field of dinosaur bones. The strange vegetation is still and foreign, growing despite the challenges of elements.

I am thankful for the ordained desert. And though I’ll miss rain smearing across my face and misting up my glasses, though I’ll miss the wind ruffling my hair and my Xtra-Tuffs, though I’ll miss coffeeshops where everyone knows everyone and whether the coffee or the ambience is better is an impossible distinction, I embrace the desert. This is where Matt and I will get started and though I never would dream to move here just for kicks, I am excited for this waiting place to be our place.

To the desert we go.

Day5

Categories, countdowns and coffee.

Palms up, and closed eyes I laid on my bed attempting to void myself of feeling. The past year weighed on my heart as a burden I could not shake, a plague. My chest was in a perpetual state of pain as my heart raged against my circumstances. The loss of my grandparents and my dysfunctional grieving, the anticipating of indefinite long distance from my man, the loss of all I love in Kodiak, Alaska weighed heavily on me as I continued to starve these emotions by feeding my “Say Yes Disorder”, refusing to stop and doing way too much too much of the time. Lying here with boxes strewn across the room surrounding me with simple labels of “home”, “Chicago”, “fishing”, and finally my backpack loaded with what would be my turtle shell for the next month backpacking, I felt the categories continue to define me. I had just delivered a speech on a stage I have spent many long rehearsal hours on, a plethora of costumes and assumed identities and had come to define as a part of my home. This costume was unique in how it was a royal blue robe with matching cap. I talked about how I didn’t want the parents and friends and family backing the students on stage to see us as just numbers. I was tired of being categorized and systematically viewed for value by colleges. These peers are going to be the future.

Yet here I am again, categorizing.

In addition to categorizing there come countdowns. I have felt the weight of countdowns for many years, anticipating mission trips, anticipating planes leaving or coming, anticipating reunions or goodbyes, my life felt like a careful orchestration of categories and countdowns and coffee. Tears ran silently down my face as I laid here desiring the change yet fearing it whole heartedly. My mom came in and as a true momma’s girl, that’s really what I needed. She pulled out Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, truly Dr. Seuss’ most profound work, and started to read. Having my mom as an advisor for the past four years of high school she read this children’s book to us the first and last day of class for each school year. I was raised with wind in my hair, determination in my hands, passion on my heart, and a believe that you can do hard things. But I haven’t seen that Sara in a long while. I grieved for her.

Here I am a year and a half later. It has been a whirlwind and the growing pains have thankfully been plenty and frequent. Since graduation and that tearful encourage fest in my room that day, I have been stretched in ways I never would have dreamed.

I hiked across a country with my mom.

I commercial fished with my man for three weeks.

I moved to the Windy City for school.

I changed my major to Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation.

I juggled two part time jobs and school and activities. *Note to future self: learn to juggle

My man went to Boot Camp and was gone for 15 weeks.

I went to Thailand by myself for a vision trip into the field I want to work in.

My man graduated and I was able to attend the graduation.

I worked my first full-time job.

My man and I got engaged.

I studied abroad in Greece and dabbled in touring Turkey and Italy as well.

And that gets us to about here. It’s been an exciting time, a joyful time,  but also a time of tears, uncertainty, fear, and crying out to Papa God in honest confusion and perceived abandonment. Throughout this season, all 540 days since my sense of place and constants were stripped of me, I have had a revelation that goes back to the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.

Oh, the waiting place. In Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  he described the dreaded and feared waiting place and encourages the reader to have no worry because they’ll get through it.

I live in the waiting place, well I’m in one right now. I frequent them. In the waiting place is the crossroads of happenings, of certain, of consistences. Right now even home is a confusing term. Home is truly Alaska. Where I am a proud resident, where I was raised and so much of me was defined. Where my family is and where my hobbies are. But my man is not there. And I have seen beyond and love the beyond. Chicago is home but it once again lacks my man. And it also lacks my Alaska. But when I hit the pedestrian go lights just as I approach a crosswalk I feel like I own that city. And here I am with my man now visiting the place I will move to come summer it is home because he is here. But Alaska and my city are not. Airplanes, airports, air mattresses, the ocean, shot gun passenger seat, new places, familiar faces, the list goes on with this that are partial homes but missing something.

I believe that life is a series of waiting places. I don’t think we know how to live satisfied and content in the waiting places, the valleys between the mountains, or perhaps that is just anxiety infested Sara talking. But there is beauty, adventure, and joy in the waiting places. I desire to be a careful student of the waiting place and to be a honest reporter of dwelling here.

Waiting places prepare us. Waiting places rest us. Waiting places are God’s tool to slow us down when we refuse to listen to Papa. And thankful the waiting place is not our destination. This blog is a desire to chat like you do with an old friend at your favorite coffee shop with a perfect peppermint latte anticipating Christmas. This is real talk in the realest degree.

The waiting place is hard. If you’d like to join me on this adventure, I’ll meet you

in the waiting place.