Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BE MINE


I know Valentine’s Day seems silly. I know how obnoxious it is to be told by the whole culture that, as some sort of weak, candy-ass proof that you love her or him, you have to buy flowers and chocolates—the exact same stuff that every other person is buying, on the exact same day, for the exact same reason, which in any sane world would be universally appreciated as the very opposite of romantic since the whole thing about romantic love is how special and personal and private it’s supposed to be two people and only those two people!
[Sigh] I get it. I get the problem with Valentine’s Day. We experience Valentine’s Day like it's been ordered by the government. It just feels extremely unnatural. And intrusive. And mostly insultingly obligatory.
Please consider this advice as totally excellent and correct:
Do. It. Anyway.
Happy Valentine's day!



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

DO YOUR THING; FORGET THE REST


2017 has gotten off to a pretty fantastic start. I've been working with the coolest people, and really having the best time creating. You know those times when work doesn't feel the least bit like work? Yeah, that's how I'm feeling. Motivated, inspired, enthusiastic. 

I came to the realization a long time ago that I'm much happier, and create more freely, when I pay less attention to what's going on in the blogging and photography industries. Work my butt off and release good work into the world, and not worry about what's going on in the world around me. Don't get me wrong, I love online inspiration (I really like the internet. Really. Like a lot), I love learning from other talents (and supporting each other - such a crucial thing), and I love reading about new ideas + researching + learning + bettering myself as an artist and creator. But also? Moderation is key. Too much and I think it all starts to cloud our vision, and distracts us from who we really are as creatives. We all start to follow the same path and that gets boring, repetitive, and not very exciting (and certainly not very creative) - and it sort of squashes our potential, and all the good things we have to offer, and our abilities to think outside the box. I try to collect bits of inspiration, knowledge, tips, and tricks when I can, without getting too caught up in thinking, "Well, this is how the industry says I should do things, so I better freaking do it this way!" And, maybe it has to do with my personality type, but that kind of thinking makes me feel really limited. It's kind of suffocating, and not at all inspiring. I don't want to spend time + energy (that I could be using for clients and rad projects) trying to keep up with everyone, or worrying about trends, or the next big design thing, or a lot of rules, or what's "in" and what's "out." And I have absolutely no desire to start comparing myself to others. That is not my cup of tea, at all. I just want to work, collaborate with awesome people, create cool stuff, and have fun doing it. And if it resonates with others, that's amazing - seriously. And if not? That's cool, too. I'm not here to please everyone. And you know what? That's a really freeing/awesome/wonderful thing. I'm just here. Creating. Collaborating. Making mistakes. Trying again. Having fun. And not really putting energy into what other people think.

I'm just doing my thing, without worrying too much about approval from others.

And really, none of us are here to please anyone, or change ourselves to fit a certain mold. And I think the world is so hard on people about that - trying to conform others to do things a certain way, or have a certain creative process, or be a certain type of person, or creating unhealthy competition between people, instead of creating a community. Not all competition is bad - sometimes it's healthy, needed, and can inspire us to be better - but there's definitely a fine line. And so much of the time, people get trampled, attitudes get real crappy, and everyone spends so much time trying to prove themselves, that everyone starts to lose perspective. Phooey! It can all be a massive bummer sometimes, and all I can say is: just do YOU. It can be scary, but it's worth it. Take people's opinions, rules, and snark, and just push it off a cliff. You have amazing potential, talents, skills, and ideas - don't let anyone tell you differently. Find a good support system that let's you be freely you. Be that support system to someone else. Create stuff you love. Do what's best for you & your clients. Period. The end.

Do your thing, and forget the rest.






I BELIEVE IN JESUS


Writing about my beliefs on this blog is incredibly vulnerable, to say the least. People email me, quite often, always supportive of my faith, but I anticipate daily THAT one person who will one day send me a scathing note about my stance on something. Faith is a very personal thing. Like one's political views. I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable or out of place being here. Not to mention - I would never, ever want to be one of those people who shoves my beliefs in your face. But I realized a few years ago, that if it’s important to me, I should talk about it. This post is a novel, but honestly, it barely scrapes the surface of what my heart believes.

I believe in Jesus, and that died He for me. I believe in His grace, forgiveness, and love. I believe Heaven will be a beautiful place with no sorrow or pain. I've witnessed miracles. I've seen God work in my own life, in the lives of those close to me, and in the lives & hearts of people all over the world. I believe that His heart for the nations is huge. I believe that I will never fully understand how much love He has for me, and for the world. I truly believe that He speaks to us through many things - the wind, the roar of the ocean, the rustling of leaves, the sound of rain, children’s laughter... through the hug of a friend, a stranger’s smile, a helping hand, a beautiful sunset, a really good dream. His Love is all around us, speaking to us through the little things, in the smallest moments. 

I think so many Christians put God in a box, when really, He is so much more than we could ever comprehend and His Love knows no bounds. I think some Christians allow themselves to become incredibly narrow-minded. A lot of people have this idea that Christianity is a bunch of rules, and nothing else. If you slip up, or make a mistake, you’re a horrible human being. That God only loves a certain type of person. That you have to act a certain way or be perfect to be a Christian. That Christianity gives you the right to be judgmental, hateful, spiteful, hypocritical, intolerant, and arrogant. That God is an angry, unjust, neglectful, despicable, prejudice God... do I believe these things are true? Absolutely not.

The Jesus I know, what I believe Christianity is, can pretty much be summed up in a few words: compassion, selflessness, and most importantly - love. Jesus is all about showing compassion and kindness, and He has a heart for nurturing people. He looks at us with love and is there when we fall, when we hurt, when we have joy. This may sound silly, but when I think of Jesus... I sort of envision him as a loving, peaceful, warmhearted hippie. When He was a man on this Earth, He loved on people. He nurtured their hearts. He was a great storyteller who adored being with people. He was a good Samaritan who gave, and gave, and gave. He was incredibly upset with the haughty, judgmental people of the church for shunning others who (they thought) were “below” them. The poor, the sick, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the thieves, the beggars. (even some of the children were an annoyance in their eyes) To them, these people were “low-lifes”. They didn’t fit in, they weren’t “good enough”. And that broke Jesus’ heart. To know that these people, His children, were being neglected, ridiculed, tormented, and even killed... just because they were “different” - I can't imagine how sad that made Him. You know what He did, though? He went to them. He sat and talked to them. He listened. He showed them compassion. He embraced them, healed them, helped them. He treated them like they were human beings, like they were equal. Because no one on this Earth is better than anyone else. None of us are perfect. Jesus loves me, and He loves you, and He loves your neighbor next door even though they're loud and obnoxious. He loves the mailman, and the single mother working three jobs, and even the politician who makes shady choices. He does not forsake people, or strike them with lightning when they’ve made a mistake. He is understanding and kind. He loves us, and I believe that Christianity is about spreading that Love to the world. If Jesus walked this Earth today, He would give his time and energy to feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and helping those in need. He would reach out. He would bridge gaps. He would bring us together. He wouldn’t show hate, be judgmental, ignore people who were “different", or be part of hateful protests. All of those things are heartbreaking to Him. He created us all. He does not see gender, race, or looks - He sees our hearts. He doesn’t care about wealth or social status. And (as much as people want to think so) I believe He doesn't choose political sides. But - He does fight for good. He fights for love. He fights for you

I love to imagine Jesus hanging out with all of those people... the ones who were told by others that they were scum. Jesus spending time with them sent such a message to the rest of the world... that everyone is special in His eyes. That we should love our neighbors as ourselves. He set the ultimate example. While the judgmental and the rich touted perfection and were too prideful to admit that they were flawed just like everyone else, these people... the "different" ones... they were willing to admit that they weren’t perfect, that they had problems, that they struggled every single day, and that they needed love. I picture Jesus reaching out to them - listening to their stories, holding their hands, and speaking words of light, hope, truth, and love over them. Who cares what anyone else thought? Jesus certainly didn’t.

He chose to look past the dirt on their faces, their flaws, their mistakes, and their wrongdoings - because they were close to His heart. That’s what love looks like. He loves... truly, simply, wholeheartedly, unconditionally. 

And don’t you think, as Christians, we should do the same? Shouldn’t we all be like that? Regardless of our beliefs, shouldn’t every single one of us show that same compassion and love to everyone we meet? I think so. I am far (FAR!) from perfect, and I may have days when I don’t want to show kindness to everyone... but I want to try, every day of my life.

So, if you see a “Christian” or certain “churches” protesting a soldier's funeral or a gay marriage, or saying hateful things against others, or telling you that you’re not good enough, that you're going to hell... please know, that is not who I am, nor will I ever be that type of person. And let me make this incredibly clear - that is NOT what a Christian really looks like... it is the opposite of what Jesus has taught us and it makes me unbelievably heavy-hearted that this is the image of Christianity that is being portrayed to the world. A faith that was built on love, compassion, and selflessness - has been turned, by so many, into a "faith" that is filled with judgment and hatred. There are "Christians" who have twisted our faith to their advantage, to use against others, and it is wrong. This is a false image that is royally screwed up... know that!

I want to be someone who exudes that wholehearted love I was talking about. I hope people see love through my words and actions. I hope people see someone who is genuine and caring. I hope they see someone who is always willing to listen and offer encouragement. I hope they see authenticity and compassion.

Please know, that whoever you are, wherever you come from... you will always find kindness and love here. xo.




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

JESUS GIRL


Look at the beautiful verses written to us Jesus girls tucked around Romans 8:26 … 


“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1, NIV). 


“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit …” (Romans 8:9a, NIV). 


“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b, NIV). 


“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37, NIV).



Thursday, January 26, 2017

MAYBE IT'S OUR JOB TO REMIND PEOPLE...






"IT'S SO EASY TO FORGET WE ARE LOVED WHEN WE EXPERIENCE DISAPPOINTMENT. IS THERE ANYONE LEFT TO REMIND US SOMEONE CARES? DOES ANYONE STILL LOVE US?

MAYBE IT'S OUR JOB TO REMIND PEOPLE OF THAT."

***

I felt such an urgency after reading this to post here. Like someone needed a reminder. Something to calm their heart. So here I am, to remind you that someone cares. That you are loved beyond measure. That you matter. That you mean something special to someone. That you bring a smile to someone's face. That you have made a difference. That you bring something so very good to the world and the people that surround you. That kind word you said the other day? That small, but selfless, thing you did? That compassionate look you gave? That changed someone, and it was carried and passed on to the next person, and the next, and the next. Like a small burst of light. You did that.

I know you are tired. I know you are discouraged, afraid, overwhelmed, weary, burnt out, drained, homesick, heartsick, hurting, bruised, lonely. You feel unworthy. Not good enough. Like nothing you ever do will truly matter.

But it does. It matters so much.

Despite all those feelings, despite beating yourself up every single day, please hold onto the hope that someone out there is rooting for you. That someone wants you to succeed and to feel joy. That someone wants you to see your own worth. To see what they see. Hold onto that. Tightly. And keep going.

You will be okay. You will.

I believe in you.

*The quote at the beginning of this post is from An Anthology of Madness, by Max Andrew Dubinsky. This book. It's a super quick-read, but such a powerful one. It's honest, painful, authentic, and moving. It makes you feel about 27 different emotions - sadness, hurt, anger, all of them. I felt defensive, I felt uncomfortable, I felt compassion and empathy. And I felt hope. This book grabbed my heart and took it for ride - and, in some small way I can't quite describe, it also started a healing. A healing of wounds that I had pushed to the very back of my heart - that deep, dark place where my most painful experiences live, that I ignore most of the time. I was going to say that this book brought a light to that place... but instead, it felt like someone came and sat in that darkness with me and simply said, "I understand. I'm screwed up, too. It's okay, you're not alone." Thanks, Max, for sharing your world, and your words, with us. May we all help others - may we all truly see and love others - in such a genuine, honest way. 
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