Blessed Renewal

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetJust like the changing colors of leaves and the crispness that fills the air around October, I am filled with the same renewing freshness each January 1. I feel like fall is always a time to reset clocks the same way January is. Why is it that a simple change of a number signifies such a drastic fresh start? It really is no different than the day before. But I have to admit to falling into the same mind set that says “NOW, now is the time to make changes, to start fresh, to reset your clock”. This often comes in many forms and fashions: weight loss goals, spiritual check ins and “no procrastination” rules. But this time, I want to approach the new year a little differently. I found a quote that said “Punctuate it with Hallelujahs” and that resonated inside my spirit….I want to be that woman who punctuates each situation with a hallelujah, a praise, with thanksgiving.

I had the privilege of ringing in 2013 with my breath, Lacey Beth Gebhart and we did something pretty special. We each wrote a letter to our future selves, and then, for fun, to each other. And those were to be read yesterday. And even though more miles separate us than I’d prefer, we read our letters together across the quiet of a telephone line and then giggled at how funny the other was in the letters we had written to one another. I read the letter I wrote to myself and see answered prayers and beautiful manifesto style challenges that remind me of the woman I strive to be.

By the time you read this, you will have one last semester to go before your masters is complete. Dream big about what is next. Whoever you are photographing, remember they are important because they are children of God. Represent their beauty. Take risks. Love with a fiery, bold love. Encourage people daily.

What a timely reading that was. As I enter into this last semester with school, I want to remember why I’m photographing these women. The challenges I set for myself then are so applicable now. For anyone reading I HIGHLY recommend writing a letter to your future self. Lacey and I exchanged letters and set reminders on our phone to mail the others letter…or well, Lacey did…breath fail on my part….This is a tradition I stand firm in and hope to establish in my newly forming family. If you don’t trust your ability to hold onto a physical letter, check out www.futureme.org. Its an amazing website that allows you to write an email to yourself and set the date that you wish to receive it. This could be used for anything from goal setting to accountability.

As I ponder on 2013, I think about the moments that shaped me:

  • I started dating and got engaged to the most amazing man. Saying he is the man of my dreams doesn’t quite do him justice because he is far more than any man I could’ve imagined God would bless me withIMG_0322
  • Finished my first year of grad school and started my second: this has been a rocky balance as I’ve continued working. I began thesis work and learned some really exciting new things such as web design and In Design.IMG_3966
  • Travelled to Paris and was reminded how deep my wanderlust isIMG_3238
  • Interned with National Geographic…an absolute dream come true. It taught me things I wanted to continue pursuing and other avenues that were a dead endIMG_1326
  • Ran my first half marathon and two 5Ks! What an incredible experience. Traveling to Orlando with my girls, I NEVER imagined in a million years I would pay, much less CHOOSE to run 13 miles. It was incredibly fulfilling!IMG_2730 IMG_0856IMG_2609
  • Was visited by so many amazing people and was reminded of the incredible blessing friendship truly is

As I look to this new year, I think upon what is to come. Here are the things I know are slated to happen:

  • graduate with my Masters degree
  • run my 2nd half marathon and at least 1 more 5K
  • GET MARRIED!!!!!!
  • Start an exciting new job with Apple

That right there looks like an incredible year…and those are just the things I know will happen..who knows what surprises may creep in along the way!

Several years ago I quit making resolutions and started making intentions. Soon I’ll share my intentions for this new year. Until then, be blessed and here’s to an exciting new year ahead.

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An Engagement Story

cheekkiss It’s really amazing the story God writes for our lives when we’re not looking. When I visited DC two years ago this month, I had a tugging on my heart that this would be the city I would move to. I fell in love with a graduate program and a city of possibility. I had no idea then that a company I just started working for would give me the opportunity to transfer with them on my new adventure. I had no idea that a year later, I would be in the city I felt led to, sitting in our break room, across from the man I was going to marry.

My first couple of months in DC were challenging. School was crazy and it was a little hard to make friends at work. When I met Steve and his friend Jackie on Oct. 16, 2012, I remember how funny they were, how nice it felt to be engaged in conversation and a glimmer of hope I had that this two people could become my friends. In the weeks that followed that day, Steve would always make a point to say hi and we developed the wittiest banter I’ve ever had with another human being. I realized that I would make excuses to linger around the lockers which happened to be right by his desk and that I’d get little butterflies when he’d talk to me. What I didn’t know then was that God was planting little things in my heart that would take months for me to understand.

I mentioned in a post last month about a conversation he and I had by the Georgetown river front. It was that day and night that made me realize I would do anything to have this man in my life. I called my mom the next morning and whispered “Mom, I think he’s it.” In only a way that mothers can intuitively know things she said, “I’ve been wondering the same thing for a while now”….just two days later I said ok and began a journey that I’ve never looked back on.

What’s absolutely amazing is that within a week or so of dating, he walked me to my car and right there, under the street lights, we looked at each other and realized aloud “This is it.” I used to get some frustrated at people who were married or engaged when they would tell me “When you know, you know.” NO! I would scream inside, I DON’T know! But after about a week of dating, I got it. I understood.

Even in that knowing, the months we have spent just dating have been priceless. We have learned each other in a way that comes only in dating. There were important trips to take and family and friends to meet. There were disagreements to be had and laughs to be shared. There were talks to be had with my dad and a heart bonding that only comes with commitment.

IMG_3288I was invited this summer to take a trip with Steve and his mom to Paris this fall. Steve and I value adventure and this just seemed to be our next big one. While I knew he had spoken with my father months prior, I had no idea if this was actually going to happen on this trip for lots of reasons. I hoped but didn’t know. In the weeks leading up to our trip, he was less vocal about rings and plans and I wasn’t sure if this was from my threats of not wanting to know any details or if he was maybe second guessing lol. On our first day in Paris, we chose to wander the city since we arrived so early. But by 6 pm, we were walking zombies around the city of lights…it was naptime. I think we all crashed so hard, we were left with no sense of time or place. He and I both woke up just before midnight and he asked if I wanted to go for a walk. A walk around Paris at midnight? YES PLEASE! We took the 12 minute walk up hill to Sacre Couer to talk about our relationship, where we had come from and what brought us here.

In after talking for a bit, understanding each other through words and while overlooking the city of Paris, he led me to the steps of

Just moments after he asked...

Just moments after he asked…

Sacre Couer, got down on one knee, and asked me to be his wife. I cried. I ugly cried. You know what I’m talking about. He presented me with the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. All my hoping of this moment was nothing compared to that feeling, that choosing of one another, the joy that comes in the moment of knowing “he is mine and I am his.” The we got to spend and entire week in Paris, being engaged in the most romantic city in the world. It was magical.

One of the most beautiful recollections I have of our earliest days of dating was his pursuit. The journey that led to us dating is full of some bumps, thats for sure. But he pursued me, even when I gave him plenty of reasons not to. Even in my most unlovable times, he still loved me. His pursuit reminds me of the pursuit God has for us. A God that loves me and relentlessly pursues my heart. When I think back on those days, I am so thankful that my God gave me a tangible example of his pursuit for our hearts.

I have never been so happy in all my life. This man is my forever kind of love. My partner, my best friend, my love. I have never known a man loving, more compassionate, more caring, more smart, funnier than Steve. I am so blessed beyond measure with his presence in my life and with the absolute unexpected gift that he has been to me. He is a servant, a Godly man who captured my heart in ways I didn’t know were capturable. And now I get to marry him. I’m giddy like a school girl with a crush.

What a blessed love it is to find a gift like this.

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Post Prego Love

Recently my friend Cara had a beautiful baby boy. She’s the first friend from that friend group to have a baby and a welcome one he was. Not gonna lie…still hard to fathom I’m grown up enough to have friends who are having kids. But I love being aunt Jordan to so many!

I failed on the friend wagon in getting baby Emory anything in the mail before he arrived so post delivery I decided to make a little post Prego gift love for momma and baby.

I can’t take credit for the idea, as I saw it suggested on Pinterest. But I love seeing ideas and making them my own! I present to you the first (of many) post Prego mommy box! (Because believe me, I know there will be more)

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Things I included: a coffee mug for mom to enjoy the rare moment of quiet with a cup o joe, some red nail polish bc what new momma doesn’t need fabulous nails, a little notebook to record notes bc I hear pregnancy forgetfulness is no joke, lots of ghiradelli chocolate because hello, who doesn’t need chocolate when a baby is having a melt down and lastly, an adorable little onesie with a tie on the front.

And I was able to put this all together without breaking the bank. It’s the little things, folks. This is my favorite way to love.

Brings me joy…

To wrap up something pretty and send it in the mail. As a child, my favorite part of the day was checking the mail, even if I had nothing specific coming my way. A catalog could make my world. And a package? Forget about it…pure elation.

Maybe it’s my own love of mail that makes me enjoy sending it so much. This love of mail extends beyond packaging. I have an incredible love of written cards and letters. I never throw then away…yes, I have a box full under my bed and tucked in various drawers. It can take as little as five minutes to put words to paper, a 50 cent stamp (or however much they charge these days) and the effort to walk to the mailbox to completely send love and thoughts in a new way. And because I believe I serve a clever, funny and amazing God, I always tend to receive cards on just the right day, when I need it most. I like to think my cards make it to be in the same perfect timing.

I’ll never forget my 22nd bday…it was amazing for lots of reasons but my fave part was the fact that my dear friends had all written me a letter…talk about joy when I got to open those all at once!!

Anywho, it gives me great joy to send mail. Beyond cards though, and with a bit more effort, packages are my favorite. Not only do I get to send a gift, my favorite way of love, but I get to wrap it up all pretty. I get so irritated when I go to the post office and the post master takes no thought into where they slap the stickers down that mark up my small pieces of art with prices and patriotically colored us postal service tape.

I had the amazing joy of packaging up something special last night in preparation for my upcoming trip to Paris. I thought it would be nice to send a little excitement gift so I put this together:

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May you each find your own unique way of loving and just pour on it everyone you know!! It’s in understanding what brings us joy that we live and love to our fullest…maybe it’s something as disguisably unimportant as mail, but I think no way of loving is too insignificant.

God gave you gifts so why not share!

Around Here

School is in full swing folks and the crispness that accompanies my favorite time of year is rustling through the air…Fall time y’all. I want to give a full recap of summer and life and all that jazz and hopefully ill get the chance here soon but I wanted to give a quick update with some pics. Life is just good : )

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The best 2 letters I’ve ever said

A year ago this fall, I got dressed up like this:IMG_0965

To go have dinner with a man who I had been relentlessly flirting with for a month at that point. I was nervous, excited and had NO idea what the year following would hold.

We had sushi IMG_0972

Then went to a movie and walked around here in Georgetown IMG_0975

He gave me these IMG_0976 (still to this day they’re my favorite socks)

Lots happened between this first date and the moment I celebrate today. Things like this: IMG_2893 Our first picture

Fast Forward to this night: IMG_0190

A night that changed everything back in April. A night where guards were let down, conversations were had and games were changed. This night of talking down by the Georgetown water front led to me saying 2 simple letters in the English language that, when put together, mean my life changed forever.

“Ok.”

Today I am celebrating the anniversary of saying “ok” to the best man I know. He came into my life, turned it upside down in the best way and has changed it forever. I am so blessed, no words quite do it justice. For months now my blog has been quiet, as if nothing has been going on. But in reality, EVERYTHING has been going on….I have been falling more in love with a man who I can’t believe I get to call my own, who has taken me on so many adventures, who IS my greatest adventure.

Here’s to so many more babe! I love you..more than the moon and the stars ; )

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Breath Celebrations

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Today marks the day of birth of Lacey Beth Gebhart…this woman has changed my definition of friendship.

She is amazing and words just done describe what she means to me…and just over one month today, I get to see her and celebrate in person…

All I can say is thank you sweet Jesus for the gift of her friendship, sisterhood, breath status…irreplaceable

Week in Review!

WIRjan19Okie dokey..let’s do this!! I’m finally all caught up!! woo hoo! This past week was really great. The semester is just taking off swimmingly. School kicked off last Thursday and can I just say I am THRILLED!!! I love that I love my degree program so much. I love that by May, I will have work both published in a book and ready to be submitted to film festivals. I love all the collaborations that are happening in classes and the amazing things I know I’ll gain from my peers. With that being said, I present some lovely moments from this past week:

1. I am so super behind on getting Christmas presents delivered into the right hands. I laughed at my aunt when she joked at Christmas she expected to get it by her bday which is next month…In my defense I made really adore IOU cards with a poem and everything about the gift that is soon to come…but she was right…it may make it for her birthday..if that. Anywho, I made this necklace for a friend and of course had just as much fun finding a cute way to package it up.

2. When I was in the great Arkansassy, Rach introduced me to these apples and boy oh boy are they delicious!! Stop what you’re doing and go search for them at the grocery store. And you have to do the jazz hands motion when you get them : ) They’re the perfect combo of sweet and sour.

3. I’m starting a new endeavor in 2013 called “A Letter a Week”. I will have a full post coming your way soon about this new project but this is just a snippet of a mass mailing I did..because, well, I couldn’t stick to just one this week.

4. A very special fella sent me my very own King Cake all the way from Slidell, Louisiana. It was an AMAZING surprise to come home to. He’s amazing and I’m super lucky.

5. THESE. I love stamps. Since I’ll be sending lots of letters this week, they seemed a necessity.

6. No sir. Too cold. No bueno. My thoughts: if the temperature is going to be that cold, then there should be snow. Otherwise, let’s move along to spring. Surprise, surprise I opened my blinds the next morning….

7. To find this. Not that was a wonderful site to behold.

8. My sweet Sam got me this fellow for Christmas and I just don’t know what I did without him! I shall name his Francois and he will hold my glasses all the days. He has a home on my nightstand now.

9. This semester is officially started. Its real folks. Entering into semester 2 of 4. Wowzers. That is cray. Here’s to learning new and amazing and practical and eye opening things!!

Be blessed friends and family…May your week be full of all things good.

Inauguration

So I got to experience one of the coolest things this past Monday. As I’m sure everyone is aware (unless you’ve been living under a rock), President Obama was sworn into office for four more years here in DC (obv, his home lol). Anywho, I couldn’t NOT take advantage of being here in this city and NOT going downtown to witness it, because when I’m ever gonna get to do this again.

My friend Kaitlynn had some extra tickets for downtown and invited me along with her and whoa buddy, what an interesting yet amazing experience. I tell ya…it was like a gridlock of people. I don’t know that I’ve ever been around so many people in my life before. Not gonna lie…it was a little cray cray. Packed in like sardines, couldn’t really see, (or hear for that matter, thanks to all the chatter around). Near the end, we pushed through and made our way closer and enjoyed the closing prayer and National Anthem with mucho enjoyment.

Remind a bit to the Friday prior when Kaitlynn texts me and says “We also have tickets to the ball!!” I almost peed pants. So after an exhausting morning of standing and waiting and pushing through crowds, we came home and got all spiffied up. It was amazing to get all dressed up because I love a good pair of heels and get all dolled up which I never do anymore.

The ball was INCREDIBLE. Amazing performances by amazing performers…Fun was my favorite performance of the night. We were SO close!! Anywho, just wanted to share a few remaining pics from that day:IMG_2438There were just a few people there…lol..IMG_7923 IMG_7949 IMG_7945That person up there would be Beyonce belting the National Anthem. Lip Sync or not she did beautifully! (and either way I don’t get what all the fuss is about. It’s still her voice…sheesh)IMG_7946And to close with maybe my favorite part of the whole event:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/58340183″>IMG 2424-2</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user7252516″>Jordan kennedy</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>