Thursday, October 17, 2013

30 Before 30

Today I turn 29. That means in 365 days I will be 30. (2014 isn't a leap year, is it?) So in honor of my 30th birthday, here are my 30 goals before 30. I tried this when I turned 28, and it wasn't the most successful thing, so I'm going to try again.

1. Paint my back porch
2. Get new pictures in my entry way
3. Memorize 10 Bible verses
4. Lose 30 pounds - that number seems fitting!
5. Vacation some place new
6. Make my T-shirts from college and high school into a quilt
7. Learn how to keep my car clean
8. Start taking more photos on a daily basis
9. Run a 5K
10. Go on a road trip
11. Go to a concert Complete! 11/8/2013
12. Go without internet for 48 hours
13. Sponsor a child Complete! 10/30/2013
14. Actually do one of the crafts I have pinned on Pinterest Complete! 1/1/2014
15. Learn to crack an egg with one hand  Complete! 1/1/2014
16. Choose my dissertation topic
17. Learn how to roller skate
18. Do 40 consecutive push-ups
19. Maintain an exercise routine
20. Build a snowman
21. Journal daily for a month
22. Get my recipes organized
23. Organize my linen closet
24. Go 1 month without shopping
25. Complete the Daniel Fast for 21 Days Complete! 12/19/2013
26. Try a new aerobic class
27. Try a new recipe Complete! 1/1/2013
28. Read 10 books
29. Create an address book (on my phone?)
30. Continue to be awesome

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Blog Q&A

About 82 6 months ago, my friend Raylene posted in response to a blog award she got, and tagged me to post next. The idea is to post a list of questions that the next blog answers, and you nominate additional blogs to answer questions. Ray picked me, and I'm just now getting around to it. Here are her questions and my answers.

1. If you had a mission statement for your blog... what would it be?
This is the real reason I haven't answered these questions. I don't feel like I have a great answer for this question, and if you can't start strong, then why start at all? This blog started to chronicle my home renovation, but since then it's become more of a blog just about my life. I hope that when people come here they find genuine-ness, grace, and fun. And even though many of my posts don't directly talk about my faith or Christ, I pray that He is glorified through my writing. In my "About Me" section I said, "All I know is that when people look at me, I want them to see Christ. When the talk to me, I want them to hear the Holy Spirit, and when they hang out with me, I pray they find God. Because really, that's what life is all about." And that pretty much sums it up.

2. What is your favorite feature about yourself?
If we're talking physical, it's my red hair. Personality wise, I love how easily I laugh.

3. If you could live in any decade... which would you live in and why?
I think I would make a great pioneer woman -- not like the blogger, although I have a lot in common with her. I'm talking Little House on the Prairie style. Bonnets, long skirts, saloons. It would be good.

4. What are your top 5 favorite things about your spouse?  If you're single... what are the top 5 qualities you are looking for in a future spouse?
If you've been around here for long, you know I'm single. I wrote a whole post about what I'm looking for in a spouse. You can read it here. Ultimately I want whatever the Lord deems is good for me. However, just for fun, here are 5 silly things that I think would be good to have:
1. Not afraid of mice -- I have a huge fear of mice, so it's important that he doesn't.
2. Good taste buds -- I like to cook, so he needs to be able to taste. Important stuff here.
3. The ability to understand taughing -- that's talking + laughing. It's a gift of mine. Ask me to tell you a funny story, and you'll understand what I mean in about 4 seconds -- actually chances are you won't understand me at all.
4. Hair Appreciation - I have a lot of hair. Sometimes it ends up on bathroom floors or in drains, so a nice appreciation of my hair might alleviate any aggravation that could come from finding it everywhere. I mean everywhere.
5. Not Camera Shy - I take a lot of photos. 

5. If you could spend the day with a celebrity... who would it be and why?
Hmmm, I'm not good at staying up with celebrities. I'd choose Miley Cyrus. She's gotten a lot of bad press lately. She could probably use a friend.

6. Favorite disney movie?
Little Mermaid: Red hair, singing, swimming, overly trusting. She's me in Disney form.

7. What is your favorite hobby?
My favorite hobby is baking, but I hate cleaning the kitchen afterward.

8. If you were given the chance... what 1 piece of advice would you give yourself at age 16?
Ooh, this is a difficult one. I think I would tell myself to be as kind as possible to everyone, and take every chance to show Jesus to the people around you.

9. What is your favorite thing about your christian community?
That we actually live life together by eating together, talking about day to day things, and just hanging out with each other.

10. What is your favorite quote?
"Let the things that break the heart of God, break my heart." Thomas A. Kempis

11. What is your biggest weakness and how do you embrace/deal with it?
My biggest weakness is wanting to hit cars in front of me that aren't moving when the light turns green. I deal with it by remembering that my insurance would not pay for me to run over other cars. I also avoid driving a monster truck in an attempt to lessen the temptation.


Monday, September 02, 2013

Happy Housivarsary!

Four years ago today, I closed on my house. It's changed a lot since that day when I put the key in the lock for the first time and walked in to my home. The first thing Momma said was, "you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into." And she was very right. Owning a home means mortgage payments, lawn mowing, bills, cleaning, and all kinds of grown-up things, but I love my house and I am so thankful for it.
When I first bought the house
Since then we've painted it, removed bushes, and added porch furniture.
I started looking at houses in February of 2009. Between February and August I looked at over 60 houses, put an offer on 7, and ended up with the best one. The first time I saw my house online, I called my realtor immediately and told her I wanted to see it mainly because I loved the street it was on. We went to see it the next day.
The kitchen with original stove and scallops
My kitchen remodel might be my favorite -- all for $1200!!
When I first walked in, I was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff in it. The house was well loved, but was in desperate need of updating. Everything in the house was still original from 1951 from the stove to the wallpaper. The family that built the house had lived there for nearly 60 years without changing much. I mentally began painting the walls, relaying the floors, and changing the kitchen. I knew it could be adorable.
My bedroom before - carpet and old drapes
Now -- although I need to get a better photo of it during the day. It's not as dark as it seems.
The next night I took my mom and grandma to see the house with me. We walked through talking about how big the rooms were, what walls could be removed in the kitchen, and how to update the bathrooms. As we were leaving, my realtor called the selling agent to ask a question. It turned out to be an owner/agent meaning that the selling agent was also the owner of the home. In this case, she was the daughter-in-law of the woman who had lived there. My grandmother recognized the name as a family who had adopted a baby from the ministry my grandpa had been part of for years. Grandma told my realtor to ask the agent if she remembered them, and the agent did.
The mudroom before
This is probably the most drastic change. I love the stripes!
I decided that evening to put an offer on the house for $12,000 below the asking price. The next day, my realtor called and said she talked with the family selling the home, and they had received an offer from a contractor for $10,000 over the asking price. This had happened to me multiple times during the house-hunting process, so I was prepared to let go of this house and keep searching.
My living room before - I loved the built in bookshelf, but it didn't get to stay.
New floors, lots of paint, and all new insulation.
This time ended up different though. The family selling the house wanted me to have it after learning that the man who placed their daughter into their family was my grandpa. They said if I could go $4,000 under the asking price, it would be mine. I immediately agreed and started dreaming up ways to decorate and remodel my new home. The sellers gave up $14,000 so that I could have this home.
The office before - that green chair came with the house
That desk is one of my favorite garage sale finds ever!
A month later I was signing papers, getting keys, and becoming the second owner of my house. It's crazy to think that in 62 years, only 2 people have owned 1 home. God's hand is so evident in all of it. I've fed dozens of people within these walls, hosted multiple Bible studies, housed a few youth students, missionaries, and friends who just needed a place to stay. My brother and sister-in-law lived here for 3 weeks, and my other brother lived here for nearly a year. Just about every Wednesday my entire family gathers here for family dinner while my nephews ring the bell on top of the house and build forts in the living room. It is still well loved and I am so thankful for it.
P.S. Today is also my parent's wedding anniversary. 35 years. They are an incredible inspiration of love and faithfulness. God has blessed me beyond measure with the 2 of them.
This is their engagement photo from 1978.
And this is what they look like now. :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cherish's Shower

Last weekend I had the honor of hosting a bridal shower for my dear friend Cherish. She's getting ready to marry Isaac, and they have an adorable story. If you want to read the whole thing, click here, but I'll give you my side of the story.
Nail Polish Favors
I met Cherish through her brother, Bryce. My friend Melanie and I took guitar lessons from him a few years ago, and I mentioned that I needed a second shooter for a wedding I had coming up. He said his sister was into photography, so I met her for coffee, and we ended up shooting dozens of weddings together.

I actually got to use my real silver! I love occasions when I get to pull out my silver. It makes me feel civilized.
Our second summer of shooting weddings, a boy named Isaac started to tag along. I got to know him because we spent a lot of time driving to many weddings. We would sing, dance, and talk the time away. He was a good guy through and through, and I must say that I always had a feeling this day would come. ;)

Wild flowers, photography, and vintage - it pretty much sums up Cherish.
Cherish and Isaac became very close friends over the course of the year, and then through a series of God-timed events they were apart for a summer. That same summer Cherish, Katie Jo, Mary Margaret, Ben and I went to Colorado on an epic road trip. It just so happened that Isaac was in Colorado too. A few weeks later they just so happened to end up in Texas together. And that was the beginning of Cherish+Isaac.

I got a new lamp! caused me to paint a wall blue, but that's another post.
The weekend after returning from Texas, Cherish and I had a wedding to shoot. All throughout the day I kept getting little snippets of information about what had happened. That day, Isaac talked to Cherish's dad about the relationship and his plans for their future. Cherish was literally glowing and she filled me in on the details. I'll never forget it.
That's Corrie. She's the master mind behind the shower.
One of my favorite things about that day was talking to Cherish about what she should call Isaac to others. She wasn't a huge fan of the term boyfriend, so I had plenty of ideas for her. I really wish I had written them down because all I can remember about the conversation now is that we were laughing hysterically on the way home.

Opening gifts!
When Cherish called to tell me she was engaged, I was ecstatic. Like I said, I always had a feeling that this day would come. And I can't wait for the actual day when she gets to become a Mrs. I promise you, Internet, she is going to be a radiant bride. Just wait and see.

The scrapbook Cherish made Isaac
Please note: I did not plan the shower. That was done by 3 of Cherish's close friends: Corrie, Katie Jo, and Katie. All adorable girls full of life and fun. They ironed out all the details, brought all kinds of yummy food, and did a lovely job of throwing Cherish's first shower. All I had to do is get my house clean and steal some cake plates from gma.

Everyone gathered around to celebrate
I could write for days about how much I love this girl. She has so much joy and love. Happiness just radiates from her in her easy laugh and bright eyes. She loves the Lord and people so much, and I am so grateful that I have gotten to witness this relationship almost from day one.

Cherish and her girls
It was such a joy to host her shower, and I can't wait to share photos from her wedding day with you all!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Happy Birthday, Momma!

Today is Momma's birthday, as I'm sure you can tell by the blog title. In honor of her birthday, here are some limericks about mom.....

There once was a lady named Verna
Her name only rhymes with Merna
Which isn't a real word
She likes to call me Bird
There's still nothing that rhymes with Verna

I have this lady who's my Momma
She didn't vote for Obama
Her middle name is Dean
On Fridays she wears Jeans
Her life doesn't have much drama

Today is my mom's day of birth
She's the best momma on earth
She raised two boys
And a girl with poise
Never underestimate her worth

My momma can be kind of crazy
She taught me never to be lazy
She has all kinds of advice
She raised me to be nice
I'm not sure how she feels about daisies

She seriously is a great mom
I'm glad she didn't name anyone Tom
I'm thankful to have her
A rhyming word is fur
She has never visited Guam

Okay, the last one was a bit weak, so I'm calling it quits. Happy Birthday, Momma! I love you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

Do any of you have trouble switching seasons in regards to your wardrobe? What I mean is, do you struggle remembering what to wear in the summer after a long winter of tights, boots, and scarfs? I tend to forget what I wore last year, so I have to make up all new outfits. It takes about 3 weeks of warm (or cool) weather before I start getting into the swing of things. Before I realize that I can wear those shoes with that dress or that I can make that a "summer sweater" by wearing it with shorts. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? There is a good chance that it is just me.

Luckily, I'm starting to get into the swing of summer. That means my legs are shaved regularly enough that I don't have to cover them with a maxi dress, and my toenails are perfectly polished, so I don't have to cover them with ballet flats. Here's what I've been wearing lately....

One of these days, I'm going to take pictures of my outfits with a real camera in my full length mirror, but for now, this is what you get.

Sweater: Old Navy ($9.99 Clearance!)
Tank Top - ????
Scarf - TJ Maxx
Shorts - Maurices
Shoes - Sperrys

This was my first day of classes. I wore MU colors even though I'm getting my doctorate from KU. I was being passive agressive.
Dress: TJ Maxx
Cardigan: Lane Bryant
Purse: Kate Spade

Shirt: Lane Bryant
Sweater Thing: Old Navy
Pants: Half of Half ($2!!!)
Purse: Garage Sale

I love maxi dresses! Love them.
Dress: New York and Company
Sweater: Old Navy (I bought it in high school!)

I wore this to shoot a wedding a couple of weeks ago.
Dress: Half of Half
Boots: Garage Sale
Belt: Cato

This dress was never actually worn. It was one of those moments when I put something on in the dressing room, and thought it was ADORABLE, then got home and realized I looked like a bridesmaid from 1988. It was awful. I literally laughed at myself in the mirror. It was terrible and went straight back to TJ Maxx.

So I'm back in summer mode, and I love having a tan and painted toenails and no make-up. Do you guys tend to wear a lot less make-up in the summer, or is that just me? Maybe it's a teacher thing.  I feel like I'm asking a lot of questions in this post, so I'm going to go ahead and end it here.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Let's talk about being scared.

11 days ago I decided to send an email inquiry about a doctorate program.
A few hours later I received a reply stating that I could apply for a cohort beginning this summer.
3 days later I finished gathering up transcripts, references, and writing samples.
4 days ago I got a call stating that I had made it through the preliminary round.
Yesterday I got an e-mail saying that I had been accepted into the program.
Tomorrow I begin classes.
I was told this was the fastest anyone had ever been admitted and enrolled.

I've been wanting to get my doctorate since I graduated from my master's program, but like I mentioned in THIS POST, I have a hard time with big decisions at this stage in life. Then one day, I was talking to someone at work about getting my doctorate, so I decided to look up the program, and suddenly doors were flying open and I was on the fast track to grad school. I firmly believe that the Lord has had a big hand in this.  Usually it takes weeks to apply, get accepted, and enrolled, so this is definitely out of the ordinary.

Here's the thing though, Internet. I'm a little scared. I told my friend that it was one of the first times in life when I really felt like I could fail at something. This isn't just Geography 101 or reflections over chapter 2. This is a dissertation and case studies and talking to people in higher places than I'm used to. I don't know what to expect, and that scares me. Everyone around me keeps telling me that I'll do great. I want to believe them, but sometimes the little voices inside are a bit louder.

I know I'm not alone in these feelings. It's that moment before trying anything new whether it be walking into a new church, getting a new job, or even hanging out with a new group of friends that brings a whole slew of emotions - excitement and fear mixed with hope and worries. We have all been there.

I'm reminded of 1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you." A lot of times when I read this verse, I focus on the first part, "Cast all your anxieties on Him." And I tend to I ignore the second part of the verse, "because He cares for you." I forget that He cares. He cares about my anxiety. It matters to Him. I matter to Him. I'm not casting my cares into the great abyss. I'm casting them to someone who has my best interest at heart. He catches what I cast off and is more than able to take care of it. I cast my anxieties BECAUSE He cares for me. If He didn't care, I wouldn't be placing my fear in his hands. I wouldn't be able to trust Him.

So even though I'm scared about this whole doctorate thing and even though I have no clue where this is going to lead, I rest assured that the Lord cares for me and is taking care of my anxiety.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The iPhone Chronicles

I am the kind of person who likes change. I love the 4 seasons. I love that education brings a whole new batch of students every year. I love re-arranging my office. I love the excitement that comes with change. Last week, I took on a new change with my phone.

I've had a Samsung Galaxy SII for a year and a half. For some people that doesn't seem like a long time, but I usually get a new phone yearly (part of my contract), so it seemed like an eternity. I honestly loved my old phone, but the battery life had gotten out of control and it had obviously been dropped once or twice (or 12 times). It was time for a new one.

Most of my friends are iPhone users, so I decided to take the plunge. Even though Consumer Reports ranked it #3 of the Sprint Smart Phones....and I don't usually go against Consumer Reports. Last Friday night I got an iPhone 5, and my feelings are decidedly mixed. I am trying really hard to be open minded. There are a lot of things that are simply habits that need to be changed, but there are a lot of things that I'm flat out missing.

Let's talk about the good....

1. iMessage - I like the idea of group messaging, although I hate that it is locked down to other people with iPhones. Seems a little Monopolizy to me. (Yep, that's a word!)

2. Overall Design - I love how sleek it looks and feels. It feels classy. It also makes me feel like I'm part of an elite club of iPhone users. 

3. Apps - There are a couple of apps that I can get on iPhone that I don't have on Droid. So far the only one I care about is the Chipotle app.

Let's talk about what is tripping me up....

1. Ringtones - Customizing ring tones and alerts is a pain. On my droid, I could download a sound that I liked (such as the sound of a whistle) and it asked if I wanted to set it as an alert. It took a minute if that. On the iPhone, I either have to go through an app, use my computer, or something I haven't figured out yet.

2. Keyboard - I used Swype on my old phone. Granted, it caused some auto-correct issues, but that was my fault. And once I changed the settings, I got much better about not sending ridiculous texts. Additionally, I didn't have to switch between the letter screen and the number screen. That has been highly annoying. I used to just hold down the Q key for a second to get a 1. Or I'd hold down the N key to get a comma. I hardly ever switched between keyboards.

3. The Back Button - This is hands down the hardest thing to give up. If I was flipping between apps, I could just hit the back button to go between. If I needed to get to an app that I was in multiple apps ago, I could double hit the home button to get to my active apps just like on the iPhone. However, the back button allowed me to toggle between the app I was previously in. Additionally, inside of apps, the back button worked to get me to the previous screen. On an iPhone it is up to the app designer where the back button goes. Sometimes it's the top, sometimes it's the bottom, sometimes there isn't one.

4. Exiting Apps - On my Droid, I could hit "Exit All" to get out of all active apps. On the iPhone, I have to go into the active app drawer, hold down one app so they start wiggling, then exit each app individually. It's time consuming.

5. Additional Storage - I always added an SD card to my phone, so I could have unlimited storage. My last phone had 64 gigs. I hate being locked into 16 gigs. I love listening to podcasts while I work out. You'd be amazed at how much storage that takes, so it's nice to have options to expand my storage. Not a huge deal, but annoying.

6. Multiple Functions at Once - My iPhone definitely can run multiple apps at once, but sometimes I'm downloading something, and it stops because I open a new app. I don't feel like it's true multi-tasking. I could be wrong here, but I feel like when I have a ton of apps running (like streaming music, checking Facebook, and uploading a photo to Instagram) it gets bogged down. 

7. Settings - My Droid had a menu button as well, so inside an app, I could just hit it and go to the menu. On the iPhone, I have to go into settings, and drill down into the individual apps. Once again, time consuming and annoying.

8. The Headphone Jack - Why does the iPhone put the headphone jack on the bottom? When I'm at the gym, I like to set my phone in front of me in case I need to check Twitter, but with the headphone jack on the bottom, I can't.

9. Screen Size - This one isn't a huge deal, but when surfing the web, I can definitely tell a difference. The iPhone screen is small, and not ideal for the ratio of a lot of web pages. I am not a fan of the huge screens of some Droids, but it is nice to be able to zoom in and see some images really big.

10. Apps Talking to Each Other - I'm sure there is a way to do this on the iPhone, but I haven't figured it out. If I want to send a photo to Instagram, I have to go into the Instagram app on my iPhone. On my Droid, I simply tap share the photo, and every possible app that can share a photo pops up. 

Like I said, I really am trying to be open minded. There are just little things that are annoying me so much! So iPhone users, help me out. Why should I continue to give your device a chance? What exactly do you love about your phone? And Droid users, remind me of the annoying things. I know it's not a perfect phone. I'm trying to be fair and balanced here. Help me out, Internet!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Working Out and Prayer

A few weeks ago I blogged about working out, and how I've started enjoying going to the gym.

The thing is, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I have absolutely no desire to get out of bed, lace up my tennis shoes, and head to the gym. Sometimes the elliptical machine is pure drudgery. There are even times that I'm literally angry about the fact that my sleep is being interrupted. And I don't get angry easily, Internet.

Usually, I have to do something to get my mind off working out. It always includes music and lately it has also included prayer. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea to make a list of 30 things to pray for during my workout - 1 for each minute.  I have a note on my phone that I update from time to time. The last few minutes are all more specific prayer requests from the previous week's conversations. The first few minutes rarely change.

This gives me something to focus on instead of the fact that I don't want to work out. It also helps keep my mind from wandering while praying. Granted, it still wanders. Some minutes get skipped because I lose track of time. Some only get a short prayer and then I'm back to rocking out to my music. Regardless, it gives me a great workout partner for those times when it's just me and the treadmill. I encourage you to try it, and I hope you love it as much as I do....and if you have anything you want me to pray about during my morning workouts, let me know. I'd love to add you to the list.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The part of singleness no one tells you about....

There are times in my life that I absolutely love being single. I have an entire list in my journal of reasons why I love singleness. They include....

"Being able to sleep however I want."
"Eating cereal for dinner and not worrying about making someone else's meal."
"Getting to choose the radio station, TV channel, and things of that sort."
"Naming my own pets."
"No real reason to shave my legs."
"Being able to use all the closets in the house."
"No one hears me talking in my sleep, so they can't use what I say against me."
"Making my own decisions."

That last one seems like a good thing, but sometimes I realize it makes life really hard. I love being able to choose my own paint colors or social events, but when it comes to life decisions, it's not so fun. Big decisions like buying a house, getting another degree, changing jobs, etc, are really tough in their own right, but I add a degree of complexity to it with my singleness.

Sure, I can go out and buy a house, but what if I meet the man of my dreams next month and he owns a house? I could easily go get my doctorate, but why would I incur thousands of dollars of debt, if I'm going to get married in the next few years and want to stay home with kids? It's a whole different take on "what if?" It's more concrete than just worrying about things that could possible happen because odds are, if you are single, you will get married, but that "when" question is always lingering.

It could be tomorrow. It could be next year. It could be never. So do I just continue making life decisions with no regards to my future family, or do I let it paralyze me from living life now?  I know there must be a balance, but what is it?

I know it all comes down to trusting God's timing. I'm extremely grateful that I get to learn this lesson through singleness, but that doesn't make it an easy lesson to learn. I have to trust that God knows who, when, and where. I have to live my life today. It's amazing when you think about it that our days are cut into 24 hours. It just shows that God gives us exactly what we can handle. It's His design. I don't have to know about tomorrow. I've been given today.

So my decisions need not be my own. They are made by taking steps based on prayer, wisdom, and counsel. It doesn't make it any easier, but it does bring comfort.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." -Proverbs 3:5

You know, it's funny. So many times, I try to blog a rant that I'm having in my head, and then I get to writing about it, and it turns into a personal Come to Jesus Moment. I honestly expected to sit here and tell you about the perils of being single, but my fingers had different plans. Yesterday, I planned to tell you about gaining weight, but I took a totally different path once I got to writing. I love that about my blog, you never know where it's going to go.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Weight Loss Episode 16

It's been a month since I wrote a weight loss post. Tonight I finally went back to the scale, and yes, I've gained a little --- 2.4 pounds to be exact. Which honestly is not that much weight. I easily could have gained a dozen pounds, and I think the only thing that kept me from that was my dedication to the gym.

Regardless, when trying to lose weight, the last thing you want to do is gain weight. It's moments like these that I have to remind myself that it's just a number. Sure, it's a little indication of my health. No, it's not good on my heart and joints. Yes, I would like to weigh less. In the end though, it's a number.

I'm reminded of a quote from my very favorite book, The Little Prince.
Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: "What does his voice sound like?" "What games does he like best?" "Does he collect butterflies?". They ask: "How old is he?" "How many brothers does he have?" "How much does he weigh?" "How much money does his father make?" Only then do they think they know him
We do like numbers. In the last 2 days alone, I've been asked 9 times how much weight I've lost. Which doesn't bother me in the least, but it does make me wonder what they thought of me before the weight loss. Did they think I was ugly? Do they think I still have a lot of weight to lose? What will they say if I'm not able to keep the weight off? Don't get me wrong. I know the people asking were simply curious, but if I place my value in their hands, I'm going to come up short.

I've lost 64 pounds overall. My Easter dress this year was 4 full sizes smaller than the one I wore 2 years ago. My waist is 8 inches smaller. All of these are simply numbers, ones that I'm quite proud of, but what I don't talk about are the other things I've lost. I've lost feeling sorry for myself because I was the bigger girl. I've lost hiding behind my weight because it's easier. I've lost my disdain for trying on new clothing. And most of all, I've lost placing my value into the hands of others. I'm still working on shedding some of this excess, but I'm learning slowly.

So here we are. I know this isn't an easy post to read. It requires me to be very vulnerable and hits a little too close to home. I really don't want to write it, but I think it's important because our value comes from God, and not from a number on the scale, a number on a tag, a number on a paycheck, a number on driver's license or a number on a grade card. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, "You were bought with a price, therefore honor God with your bodies."

When I take the time to step away from the scale and think about my value in Christ, I realize that I want to become healthier because it honors my creator. I want to be able to serve Him until I'm double and triple the age of those around me. I want to be healthy enough to do whatever He calls me to do. I don't want my ministry weakened because of my fitness. In the verse above, Paul is specifically talking about sexual sin, but I think it applies to all areas of the body.

I could weigh 450 pounds and eat nothing but greasy, fried food all day long, and God would love me just the same as when I am at a healthy weight and working out everyday. My value in His eyes would not change, so we honor God with our bodies because He values us, not to make Him value us. You don't buy a $40,000 sports car just to let it sit in the yard and rust. You take care of it. Clean it. Maintain it. God put value in me by buying me with a price, therefore I'm going to honor Him with all I have, including my body.

It's not about the number I see on the scale, it's about continuing to get healthy, so I can serve Him better. Sometimes when I gain, I just have to take a step back to remember why I'm doing all of this in the first place, so thanks for listening as I walk through that process.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ben + Cassi

Yesterday, I was extremely blessed to photograph my dear friends' wedding. I've been friends with Ben for nearly 5 years thanks to Raylene & Scott. We've gone on many road trips and gotten in many arguments over board games. (I hate so much to admit this, but usually, he was the right one.) Cassi and I connected in high school. She was in my squad in marching band, and we re-connected a little over 2 years ago through church. In the mean time, we've all been friends spending many nights eating dinner at my house, playing a ton of volleyball, and of course, more board games. Last summer, Ben decided to take his friendship with Cassi to another level. Yesterday, they made the ultimate commitment, and I got to photograph the entire thing.

First, let's talk about Cassi's dress. Her sister made the whole thing! The lace came from her grandma's dress. She also made all 6 bridesmaids dresses. So much talent!

Let's talk about the ring. One day in September, my friend Raylene and I were babysitting together. Afterward, we were at lunch when Ben called her, and said we could go see the ring he was thinking about buying Cassi. Ray and I can't say no when it comes to anything dealing with weddings, so we hopped in the car to go meet them. It was such a fun day, and we could tell that Ben was head over heels for Cassi at that point. 
This photo was taken while ring shopping. Scott is standing in for Cassi, so Ben can practice.
 Cassi picked out the wrap to go around the three stone ring Ben picked, and I absolutely love it. It's so unique and classic.

Hands down my favorite part of photographing the wedding day is getting to witness the first look. It's such a wonderful and real moment for the bride and groom. 

The bridal party was fantastic. They put up with me taking them out in chilly weather just to have some natural-light photos. The boys moved benches for me. The girls didn't complain too much about the wind. The bride and groom even trekked over to some train tracks for me. It was great.

A great thing about photographing friends weddings is you get to spend time with friends all day. And yesterday was extra-awesome because Bryce came in from Hawaii to stand by Ben. These two have been friends for ages, and they can make me laugh like no one else. Aren't they so handsome? 

Plus I get to spend the entire day with my fabulous second-shooter, Cherish, who happens to be Bryce's sister. One day I'll blog about how Cherish and I connected because it's a pretty good story. We've been through so many weddings together, and now she's getting married in September.

A few more of my favorite shots from the day...

Cherish had a cool vantage point for the communion. I wish I had room to show you all of her shots.

I am so thankful that I got to be part of this day. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the flowers, and the dresses, and the location. We forget that a wedding day is so much more than that. It's the start of a new family. It's a huge commitment to love and living life together, and I'm so lucky that I get to photograph that. 

Here's the video montage if you want to see more photos: