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Friday, September 26, 2014

Little Love


Shirt: Forever 21

The other day, I had a man call me at work to tell me he saw my article on road closures, and he was curious what roads would be best to travel, he wanted to go on a weekend trip to Arizona with his wife. I gave him an update, "You rock!" he said. I love that.

The other day, I was at Coffee Bean in line with the other 347 other people who decided they wanted coffee, and the cashier had my tea ready and said it was paid for. By a (creepy) secret admirer that works there, but whatever, it was free. I love that.

There are leaves falling outside, it'll be only 85 degrees in Las Vegas tomorrow and I've got boots on today, I love that.

My sister told me about a wonderfully beautiful Spotify playlist, Acoustic Afternoon. I listen to it all day long, and let if fill the room, while I dance and laugh at myself. I love that.

School has been a bit hectic, but I've read some great poetry, and I am learning something new everyday. A friend got married last weekend. I learned how to use Photoshop and take care of orchids.

I love all of that.

So despite the times when nights seem darker and people seem harsher, I've got all these little loves. Constant reminders that there is so much more good than bad.

Also, I have today off. I slept in, didn't brush my hair, and I'm writing at a coffee shop. I'm connecting with all of you who read this. Seriously, I love that.

Happy Friday, lovelies. xoxox

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Early morning thoughts


This morning I woke up at 4:49 thinking I had heard something outside. I sat awake, the dark penetrating my entire room. I decided to get out of bed, and check everything. Doors locked, window shut, no sign of anything changed, peace.


I walked back up to bed and sat there for a little while. One of my favorite, favorite things is the morning. Waking up with the sun, being present as it takes it’s rise. I went back to sleep, knowing I only had less than two hours before I would want to be awake.


And so, it is 6:47 as I write this.

I sit at my computer, coffee next to me, warm and sweet. The tumbling noise of the dryer would typically annoy me but it soothes me this morning. The air outside looks still and warm. And of course, the sun is up. I close my eyes for a few seconds: I am so grateful for the simplistic beauties of today.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. Things that I want to do, places I want to see. Everyday I try to do one thing that is completely for me. I know that sounds like I spoil myself every day, but I read this quote, “I am mine before I am anyone else’s.” And I just thought to myself: how often do we actually treat ourselves how we would like to be treated? We often give to other’s, our family, friends, co-workers, but how often do we say, I want to do this, so I am going to do it for me?  


It’s the common theme I see among people’s lives every day. It’s written on their pages. This sadness that everything they do, is for someone else. We are taught at a young age to be kind to others, to share, to love, to sacrifice, and to respect others. And then at some age, we realize that we have done those things for everyone except ourselves. We only realize that we are important when we decide to treat ourselves like we are important.

“I am mine before I am anyone else’s.”

I do little things, like time when making my cup of coffee for myself, and putting an extra teaspoon of sugar because I just want it that day. I take long walks and leave my phone off. I wake up with the sun. I go get a manicure, I take a bubble bath, I turn on a funny movie, I tell myself, “You are your friend. Kind, special, beautiful, one-of-a-kind. I love you.”
We have to love ourselves before someone else can. We have to take care of ourselves before we can mentally, emotionally, and physically take care of someone else. And we have to set the bar for the kind of love we believe we deserve. If for years you tell yourself you are not worth nice dinners, good conversation, living a healthy life, loving who you are; who else is going to do it for you?

Love yourself. And in return, it makes it so much easier to love others. Love yourself, and in return people will find that it's impossible not to love you too.

Happy Wednesday, xoxo.


Stop by Anne's blog, Love the Here and Now to share what you are wishing for this week.
And Emily's blog, Ember Grey, to share what you are grateful for. xo.

 

Friday, September 12, 2014

13 things for Makalea



A lovely girl turns 13 this Sunday and her name is Makalea. I used to babysit Makalea when she was still little enough to just cuddle up next to me and watch a movie, when she would show me all her toys in her closet, and new sparkly lip glosses. Now, Makalea is turning 13 and entering her teen years. 

As I write this I find myself shocked that time has passed so quickly. That enough time has passed for this beautiful little girl to turn into a beautiful teenager. 

So, because the years are sometimes tough but all-the-time wonderful, I am providing a list of 13 things I wish I knew when I was 13. 

1. Your mom and dad always love you. Even when they don't let you go out, or embarrass you in front of your friends, or insist that the first boy you go on a date with has dinner with the entire family, they love you. More than you can probably ever comprehend. 

2. The girls you think are breathtakingly gorgeous with not a single flaw still have their own issues. The girls you think are perfect still go home and wish they could change things about their lives. Nobody has it all figured out.  

3. On that note, there is and will always be only one you. So even if you don't get the blonde hair, or the cheerleader body, or the skin that gets a golden tan, you are beautiful in your own way, a way that is uniquely you. Embrace that. Focus on being a better you instead of a better copy of someone else.

4. When you say "no" to the first boy you say "no" to, and he is rude or tells his friends nasty things about you, find it in yourself to ignore it. Because I can promise you, when you are twenty writing a list to a special 13 year old, you will not remember a single one of those boys as a good part of your life. In fact, you probably won't remember them at all. 
 
5. Take chances, take risks, and try new things. Teach yourself a new language, or an instrument, explore any talents you have or anything that you are remotely interested in.
 
6. Enjoy not having a job. Enjoy not driving. Enjoy being a teenager. There is plenty of time in life to be an adult, and there is absolutely nor reason to rush it.
 
7. Strive to do well in school, even if people make fun of the "goody-goods." Be kind to the kids in class that everyone is making of.(Side note: the "hot" guys end up being trouble, and the guys who appear awkward always end up being handsome and kind.)
 
8. Always remember that makeup is to enhance your beauty, and not make it look like you are going to a circus. You don't need makeup anyways. Also, don't over-pluck your eyebrows. Or let your friends box color your hair.
 
9. Eat the cupcake. Drink the milkshake. The joy of being a teenager is that eating junk food just comes with the title.
 
10. You are going to have friends that betray you, they may lie, or say or do something hurtful. Take those moments as a positive. They weren't meant to be in your life. And remember that just because someone hurts you, doesn't mean you need to hurt them in return.
 
11. Put down your cell phone and live a little more. Don't post things you will regret later. Look at people's eyes instead of your phone screen. Don't spend your entire weekend in front of the T.V or computer. Life is so good, be present.
 
12. You never outgrow your parent's hugs, kisses, and unconditional love. Don't fall in to the teenager trap of being "too cool for everything." And don't wear mega push-ups bras, low-cut shirts, or short shorts. Trust me, the guys who are into that are not the guys to be into.
 
13. Above all, love yourself. Fall in love with the amazing person that you are. Don't be too critical of yourself. Tell yourself each day that you are beautiful, special, kind and smart. I wish I would have known that. I wish I would have spent more time enjoying life instead of analyzing my face, hair, and body in front of a mirror. Don't try to change too quickly, and don't rush the years, them move quickly on their own. Spend time laughing, smiling, dancing and loving.
 
Happy Birthday, gorgeous girl. I hope this year and every year that follows brings you happiness. I hope you carry yourself in a way that makes you proud. Know that wherever you are and however old you get, you are still that little girl you once were with faraway dreams, and no cares in the world. Know that you are always loved.
 
Here's to celebrating you, sweet Makalea. I hope 13 is as wonderful as you are.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life is with Haley Jo

I am all for meeting new people. I believe everyone, everyone, has something to teach us. I also believe that there are some people that represent much more than just their single life. They are these vessels of love, light, and faith. These people better our lives without really even trying. They are who they are, and that is plenty.

As I write these things, I think of a new friend of mine, Haley Jo.

Haley Jo was a name I had heard. Nothing but a name for months. I heard bits and pieces of her spending time in Jinja, Uganda, I heard she was walking in blind faith, trusting God, I heard, I heard, I heard.

So, on a calm day off I decided to look up her profile on Instagram. I read her blog. I cried, I laughed, I became so happy to know there was a Haley Jo in the world. I emailed her, and instead of simply hearing from others about this fearless human, I heard about Haley from Haley. I got to listen to her open her humble heart. Her abiding love for Jesus, and in return how she aims to love everyone as He does.

Haley signed up for a three month internship with SoleHope, in Jinja, Uganda. After the three months ended, she came home, only to buy a one-way ticket back to Uganda to continue serving the children there, loving others and sharing God's light, and trusting His plan for her.

She is currently spending most of her time at Arise and Shine Uganda Babies Home, attending clinics through Sole Hope, and living with and helping a family in Uganda.

Thank you, Haley Jo, for making me so proud to be apart of something larger, thank you for reminding me that there is so much beauty to witness when we choose to surrender and love. Thank you for being you, the world needs more of it.

 

Life is with Haley Jo



What are the most important parts of living a meaningful life?

1) To me the three most important parts of living a meaningful life are giving, suffering, and sharing. Of course, these three things don't "make" a meaningful life. You choose if you want your life to be meaningful or not. One can give, suffer, and share their journey with everyone that comes into contact with them and not live a meaningful life. I think the utmost important aspect is wanting your life to be more, wanting to leave a legacy that traces back to Jesus, and knowing deep down that your existence can change the population of the Kingdom. Once you truly know that- give everything, don't hold back and don't ask questions. You don't need to know where your money is going, if they will sell your donations, or if that person is REALLY hungry or not- we aren't asked to question, we are asked to just give.
Suffer hard, knowing that you don't suffer the trenches alone. Even when you walk through the shadow of death, still He is with you. (Ps. 23:4) That suffering will allow even greater triumph. Life will taste sweeter, laughter will silence sorrow, and joy will pierce through fear, worry, and anxiety.
And share it all. The dirty, hard, stinky, bitter, and often times hard-to-swallow pills. Share all the happy and all the sad. All the good and all the bad. All the tears and all the belly laughs. All the Indian food and all the avocado. All the fears and all the secret dreams. Everything. We need each other more than anything, and if we actually SHARE our lives with each other, we see more, feel more, live more, and ultimately love more. And when it comes down to it- A life without love has no meaning. A meaningful life is one that loves.






Who do you look up to?

2) Who do I look up to? That's a loaded question. There are so many people I look up to. I have been seriously seriously blessed with some fantastic mentors, and women role models. From the parents who raised me to the girls in my very first small group (where I named Jesus my Lord and savior) to watching Christine Caine speak at Catalyst to living in a home of some of the most giving, wise, and wonderful people in the world here in Uganda- I look up to so many God-fearing, do-ers. I want to be a do-er when I grow up.

What are three non-essential things that get you through the day?

3) Easy. Peanut M&M's. Coffee, duh. And avocado. (Anything that goes in my belly, clearly).

What does the world need more of?

4) I don't really know what the world needs more of... but I can tell you what we need less of... I think we need less cynics. Less people saying "no", less people saying "you can't". We need less fear, and more people willing to risk the ocean. Less hate, and more people willing to love beyond comfort. Less finger pointing, and more unifying despite differences. Less questioning, and more doing. I think we just need more Jesus.

What is your personal mission statement?

5) As cliche and mushy-gushy as it sounds- I just want to love people. And not love as in walk down the streets smiling at everyone, talking to strangers, and giving to the poor. I've done that. That's easy. I want to love the Hitlers and Bin Laden's. I want to love the mothers I see neglecting their children. I want to love the fathers that sexually abuse their babies. I want to love the people that I want to hate. Humanly, I don't actually want to at all. Not even a little bit- but I want Jesus, and He says "forgive them for they know not what they do"- and He asks me to love them as He does. And I fight my flesh every single day to love them the way He does. Unfortunately, most of the time my flesh wins- but when He does, I get closer to that untouchable heart of Jesus and let me tell you... It's more satisfying than anything this earth has to offer.

Tell about a moment in your life that has shaped your belief system. A single moment that your heart holds onto forever.

6) I am going to be honest with you- I don't think I've had a life-changing moment. Maybe I have, but not one that particularly sticks out. Moments have changed my life but it's usually the kind that should change anyone's life: Skipping school my senior year to go to the hospital to be with my mama and feed my grandma after watching Alzheimer's slowly take her mind away. Being baptized with my whole family. Living in Uganda seeing & experiencing a completely new culture first hand. Feeding babies on the floor of an orphanage. All of these, and more, have changed the course of my life in significant ways. But I wouldn't say any of them were monumental. It's the daily grit that has the biggest impact on you & your heart. So if you are waiting for something huge, a giant tsunami, your probably missing your biggest "moments".

What is your favorite quote?

7) Ah, My favorite quote is probably 1 Peter 2:9, "that you may declare the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light". Declare those praises, and step into that light. Darkness cannot exist where there is light.

Life is...

8) Life is going to be exactly what you expect it to be. It will be hard, and sad, and sometimes you will want to quit- but if you expect to come out on the other side: you will. If you expect to be joyful: you will. If you expect The Lord to move and shake and use you to pieces? He will.

6 months ago when I applied for a 3 month internship in Jinja, Uganda on a whim- I had no idea what was ahead of me or that, now, I'd be writing this in my bed, in my house, with an amazing family I met 2 months ago, still here in Uganda. I had no idea what my future looked like, and honestly still don't. But through the process of obeying Jesus (which let me tell you... It's a process)... I am still here. And I'm so happy to be. It's not that insane in my mind- but I think that's because I already expect insanity from Jesus. Kinda like Noah and the Ark. He just looooves proving us wrong- and when I said "I can't" He said "HAHA you're so right. But I can." So here I am, living in Uganda, not sure how long, not sure why, not really sure what I'm supposed to do... It's not an easy task, but it almost never is. I'm here strugglin' just like you are wherever you are. Following Jesus isn't supposed to be easy- it requires faith that surpasses all understanding. But I'm sure that I just need to follow Him and love everyone that falls in my path- and He will do the rest.

All of the beautiful photos in this post are from Haley Jo's blog, wearethehandsandfeet.blogspot.com.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Hard Work is Necessary

 
early morning thoughts
 
I am currently going to school full-time, writing a blog, and working 30 hours a week at the Las Vegas Sun. I have dreams of travelling, freelancing and writing about life: what makes life incredible, stories from strangers, how to live deliberately and beautifully. I don’t want to write about struggle, but instead the rise after the fall. The people who work hard to see a better day despite the cards that have been dealt to them. I’ve got big plans, which means school, internships, and frankly, working my ass off.


There are times where I wake up and think, “Okay, I should just drop a class. I should take time off of work. I should look for a job that will be super easy and requires me to think and do as little as possible.” ( I know that sounds crazy, but I am serious. You all know this feeling after a hard day.)


This past Friday was one of those days where I just thought “What am I doing?!” I woke up tired. My room was a mess because I have had no time to clean it. I desperately need to go grocery shopping. I’ve got a ton of homework, nearly 300 pages in reading, and a job that requires me to be all there, all the time. My “me” time was riddled with the stresses of my everyday life.
My “quiet” time involved me sitting still for all of 26 seconds, and then having my mind go over “the list.” I need groceries, I’ve got that assignment, I should probably email my professor, did I ever call her back?, I should try to exercise…” We all have “the list.” We all had have a desire to burn the list, and hide out in our rooms with the curtains drawn and lots of comfort food. Basically, life has just been a little tougher than usual.



So, like every other time the going gets tough, I search for the tiny door in this huge room of opportunity. I am searching for the tiny door with the “emergency exit’ flashing overhead. In fine print it read: “if things get tough, open this door. warning, alarm with sound.”


And so it’s been a battle. An internal struggle that has me asking myself, “Are you even going to be able to do all the things you want to do?” I’ve got two choices: decide whether I want to stay in this room of opportunity or charge for the door, crawl out, and take a deep breath.


What people forget to mention is that once you exit that door, it locks from the inside. Sure you’re out, but you don’t get your chance to go back in.


Hard work is hard. There are lots of people who choose paths that are comfortable, offer quick rewards and cause them little to zero pain. The art of life is to serve and help others. The art of life is to better who you are, and in return you better the world. The art of living a meaningful life does not happen in one day.


Being successful, being someone who plays a vital role in society, is hard but so worth it. My path in not lined with lights, there are no signs guiding me in one specific way. Not everyone is kind and not every moment is bright, but I have to say that as I write this, I realize my path is meant for me to walk on. That despite the days I continuously eye the exit door, I am beyond grateful to be in this chaotic state.


Struggle makes every triumph more rewarding. Darkness makes every stream of light shine a bit brighter. And passion burns a whole lots deeper when you power through people doubting you.


Life isn’t supposed to be mediocre. Nothing worth having is supposed to be simply handed to us. You fight for happiness, you strive for success, you become the “crazy” person who believes you can change the world.
 
I don’t live in fear of not succeeding, I live in fear of getting in my own way. And what do I tell myself when I feel myself getting in my way, when I feel myself walking towards that door?

Step out of your way and into the light. There’s life to be lived and your future is completely up to you.
Happy Monday xoxo
Stop by www.embergrey.com to read what others are grateful for today.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Sweet mama

 
Happy Birthday to my beautiful mama.
 
 
 
I’ve got this picture, of my mom at 17 in a white tank top, hands throw bank and laughing hysterically.
 
I took a picture of my mom this past weekend, dancing and laughing. I mean, its been 28 years, and nothing has changed. How wonderful is that? My mom carries herself in a way that lets you know: it’s not about age, it’s simply about who much you love and laugh.
 
 


 
This past weekend, we celebrated early. I drove home to Pahrump. We ate lots of good food and told our favorite family stories over cupcakes.


My mom shares bits of wisdom with all her kids (there’s four of us.) We were talking about how quickly time passes, how suddenly things happen, and she said to my brothers and sister, you never know how people are going to remember you, so you have to love and speak to people like it’s your last day.


Mom, people will remember your smile. How you made each place brighter by just being apart of it. People will remember your laugh- how it made the whole room come to life. People will remember your heart, your honesty, your love for scarves, tea, and warm conversations. People will remember that each day you made them feel a little better about themselves.
 
 


Each day, I am thankful for you. But especially today. Because 45 years ago, the most wonderful person was born. Life isn’t always easy so thank you for showing me that if I am appreciating the journey, every destination will be special.


Thanks for showing me how to find peace in chaos, to find comfort in the uncomfortable.
I am so glad that growing up means growing closer to you.
I am so happy that my life has you in it, I know many people would say the same.

Thank you for being the beautiful, witty, loving, person I know. Happy Birthday, my sweet mama. I love you with my whole heart.

Monday, September 1, 2014

What you see

when you're actually looking...
 
 
 


As school starts back up, I become busier than ever. I try to carve out some quiet time, some time to remind myself that this season only last for so long, that being in school is an incredible gift even thought sometimes it seems like quite the burden.

So while I tucked away the text books, and turned off the alarms on my phone, I decided today I would do something for myself.

I have been wanting a camera for a longgg time. I take pictures of everything. I take pictures of things that don't make sense, like cracks in side walks, weeds that I claim are actually flowers, and endless candids. I love photos of people when they don't know they are being taken.

I have taken pictures on my iPhone forever. Well, not forever, but like, 3 years. I must say, Apple knows how to make a great phone camera. But I wanted something that would capture every moment beautifully, I wanted a real camera, a big, heavy camera that hangs around my neck and makes me look like that person, you know, who takes pictures of weeds and cracks in sidewalks.

So I bought a camera, and today I went on a walk. The same walk I've gone on fifty times, but this time it was different. I noticed things in a way I hadn't before. I held on to moments by freezing them in a little snapshot. I took my sweet, sweet time. If something interested me, I took a photo of it. I didn't care that the idea of a walk is to keep moving forward, sometimes you've just got to stop and take in the beauty around you.

 Everyone is constantly rushing, claiming there is never enough time. We've got plenty of time, we've just forgotten how to appreciate it. We've forgotten what it's like to enjoy the goodness of a moment. Today, time travelled beyond any set measure. I saw beauty in things I hadn't before.

What do you see when you are actually looking?

Today I saw how the trees are constantly dancing, with the wind, by the wind, they have a rhythm with the weather.

Today I saw that no matter how many cracks are in sidewalks, that still carry people to and from where they need to be. Things don't need to be absolutely perfect to work just fine.

Today I saw how the sun peeks through leaves, trees, and hedges. I watched it dance upon my skin as I moved from the shadows.

Today I saw how I am healthy and able, my feet can move in whatever direction I plan to go in.


Today I saw happy people, cheerful families, all enjoying this September air.

I saw a bird house. I saw flowers. I saw an empty bench, broken branches, chalk drawings, endless light, endless smiles.

Today, I realized that we take the same paths every day, we talk to the same people, we know our cities like the back of our hands, but how many times do we actually look at all these things?

What we see when we actually take the time to notice the beauty around us reminds us that no matter how familiar life begins, there are still magical things to uncover, in places we always saw, but never really appreciated.
 
 



Happy Monday everyone xoxoxo
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