Monday, March 2, 2015

Q&A - Part 1

Thanks, y'all, for the questions! If you have any more questions for part 2, don't hesitate to leave a comment!

1) What is your favorite photo editing tool (if you use one)?

I use Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC. 65% of my editing happens in Lightroom, and it is the program I would recommend to beginners (and most pros use it too!). It makes my workflow sooo much quicker. It is intuitive, yet gives me many creative options. Most pros use both Lightroom and Photoshop.

2) What kind of camera do you have? (And what do you recommend?)

I use the Nikon D610 (he is my camera soulmate), and mine's name is Chris. I upgraded a year ago from the D3100. Despite the mixed reviews Chris gets, I love him. I also have multiple lenses I alternate between depending on the subject matter.
For first timer DSLR-ers, I would recommend the Canon Rebel t5i. But get the body only, and buy a 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 lens separately. The lens that comes with the camera won't give you the crisp focus and blurred backgrounds you dream of.

3) Why do you think dating is the best way to go (I totally agree with you on this!)?

I'm in a conservative Christian school (not extreme conservative, like the Duggars. I totally respect that about the Duggars, even though I do not have their lifestyle in common), and most everyone has intentions to save sex for marriage (even though there is a small handful of folks that already have. But, we all have struggles and sins, and their's happen to be in that area. There is no use in judging or treating/thinking of them any differently because of that.) In middle school, there were only three couples, and now, nearly two and three years later, two of the three are still (surprisingly!) going strong. The other couple broke up after 6 months. There are like four couples in my class of 175, and like five in the senior class. The big thing at my school is asking girls out to homecoming, the Christmas banquet, and prom. It's a fun tradition at my school. A lot of the guy-girl relationships are strictly friendships. I have a lot of guy friends too, and I don't see a problem with that. The extra-conservative courtship crowd does see a problem with that. Most of the guys at my school are great guys! Anywho, off that tangent, at a school where everyone is like-minded, it's not hard to be pure because of the atmosphere. If something happens, trust me, everyone will know about it in under 2 hours. There just isn't that temptation.
I'm not really sure what's wrong with the way my parents, grandparents, and nearly every married or engaged couple I know dated. If I was in a community (like the Duggars) where everyone courted, it would be appropriate to court, and it would work. If I went to school tomorrow and told everyone that I decided to court like the Duggars, I'm pretty sure everyone would look at me like I have lobsters crawling out my ears. I'm in a Christian community that, unlike the Duggars, choses to be in secular culture, but not be refections of the secular culture. When it comes to dating, its what you do, not what you call it. Plus, most conservative Christian dating could probably fit into the "courtship" category.
Anywho, I don't have time to date in high school. I am busy! I will cross that bridge when it comes. When that time does come, I think it will resemble dating more than super conservative courting.

4) What's your best memory from 2014 or something that you will cherish forever?

My trip to the Dominican Republic - especially the relationships forged on that trip. What a beautiful, life-changing week in a beautiful country that I love dearly. I know I will be back. If only I could publicly share photos of the beautiful kids we were with. We came to serve, and we were served by these orphans. It completely blew away all stereotypes of orphans that I had previously. The magnitude of that week is not lost on me, 11 months later.

5) What are you reading in the Bible right now? (Or a devotional book you are going through?) 

I am reading Philippians right now!

6) Are you the oldest/youngest or in the middle of the kids in your family? 

Youngest. :( Ugh, my parents (okay, my mom, not my dad) are sooo overprotective sometimes. :( They (ok, she) were NOT like that before!

7) What has been most influential in your life to keep you living for Christ? 

Hmmmm.... I don't know!

8) What are the biggest struggles for you living in a non-Christian world? (If you don't want to answer this publicly you don't have to! It's a little more personal!)

Right now, I would say that the biggest struggle is denying myself and picking up my cross daily and following Him. Denying myself of choices where a reputation and other's opinions, especially, are the only rewards and choosing to follow Christ. 

If you knew that you only had 24 hours left to live, what would you do?

My Christian-girl answer is seek forgiveness from the many people I have hurt. In school, we had a chapel speaker that made a list of everyone he had hurt and then he went and asked forgiveness. What a COOL thing to do. I want to do it and I know I should, but it sounds too scary!

I would probably go to Cedar Point, if we are honest. :)

Have you ever kept a journal/diary up?

HAHA! I've tried, but failed and I don't think I shall try again.
 My grandma kept one up every day for her entire life from the time she was very young. She saved them, and I was the lucky grandkid that inherited them. I have to wait 20 years to read them. Her reasoning was that in 20 years, all the current conflicts will be resolved anyway. If they were read today, you better believe that drama would be caused! I already read part of her 2014 journal (oops), and I see why I have to wait! :) ;)
What is your favorite food? Color? 

Deep dish pizza, folks. I live in deep dish land, and it's a HUGE deal here!

What is your favorite instrument? (Either to play or to listen to) 

I play violin, but I like listening to the cello on pandora or spotify if I am trying to fall asleep. For homework, I always put JT Mirrors on repeat. Super weird since I don't even like that song very much, but for the past year, that's been my homework song. Probably from habit. I'm listening to it right now, haha.
What is one thing that you would like to do in 2015?

China, to love on orphans. The past two summers, God has closed that door and it has been very disappointing. But I'm hoping He opens that door this summer. I've been taking Mandarin. Could you pray for that, please?

Who's you favorite band?

I'm not a band person. I know, disappointing. I'm a floater and I just hang out with whatever songs are popular.

Personality in three words? 

Introverted, bubbly, happy, and weird. (that's 4!)


I had to get up and get the tape measure for this one! I think 5'2.5"

Favorite Book?

Hmm... Super cliche, but Fault in Our Stars, maybe?

Favorite number?

I don't have one!

Are you homeschooled?

No, I have been at an awesome Christian school since pre school! It would be cool to be homeschooled for a year, and I wish I had as a younger child. There's no turning back. :) I'm lazy and it's hard waking up at like 6:35 every morning.

How old are you? 


What is your favorite thing to take pictures of?

I am a natural light photographer that specializes in seniors, children, families, and engagement. :) (That's a mouthful!

Thanks again for all the questions! Please ask more for my next post (and don't be afraid to ask TMI questions!)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Misinterpreting Scripture?

Today I want to talks out taking verses out of context. 

You've done it. I've done it. Our greeting cards and calendars do it. :)

Don't isolate little verses to fit your agenda. We just can't do that. We MUST keep the author, audience, culture, chapter, book, what the Hebrew/Greek original text says, EVERYTHING, in mind. When we do that, the Bible really comes to life. 

When we look at scripture exegetically, it comes to life and we learn things we could have never picked up on otherwise. 

Let's look at Jeremiah 29:11. I'm sure you know it. It's on my calendar in my room. ;) It's the ultimate Christian motivational verse, yes?

Now read the entire chapter. God's not talking to you, Sally Smith and Billy Jones, in that verse. He was talking to the entire nation of Israel during their Babylonian Exile. Please, please  don't think I am telling you that God doesn't have a plan for your life. He does! ;) But, Jeremiah 29:11 is taken out of context so easily and so frequently. 

You aren't the "you" in the Bible. The whole nation of Israel during this time was the "you" in Jeremiah 29:11. The Bible wasn't written to middle class, 21st century America. We can learn and get to know God intimately through the Bible.  But, we have to look at it from an exegetical perspective as well. It will strengthen your faith when you interpret the Bible like that! It's enlightening!

I'm also not telling you to be skeptical of the Bible or telling you that it cannot be trusted or that it's not straightforward at all. ;) Trust me, we can most definitely trust the Bible as truth. We have concrete evidence. 

I think that the easiest way to misinterpret scripture is to simply isolate verses. I do it all the time! Look at the Bible with fresh eyes. Know it in your heart, but look at passages in new ways. 

Here's a good article that has a couple more examples:

If you know what you believe and put stuff into context, you can tear down arguments where folks use scripture against Christianity pretty quickly. 

Just wanted to say that. :)

Monday, February 2, 2015


My grandma died 48 days ago. The past 48 days have sucked. Not in a dramatically suckish way like Hollywood, but they have been 'meh'. Meh is the best word I can use to describe it. 

Backstory.  Not because y'all really want to know, but because I know I will find this blog in 20 years. :) Feel free to skip and read ahead. 

On Saturday night, December 12 (I think?), she fell and broke her pelvis and maybe back. She was on the floor for hours, helpless. She was able to pull herself to the phone. This is too much for me to imagine. You wouldn't believe how frail she was. She could have survived that, except she hit her head as well. She was on blood thinner, which left no room for bleeding. The next morning, she was taken to the hospital. They found a brain aneurism. (I can't remember when my mom drove down there. I think it was Monday, but I am not positive.) She took a nap on Monday and never woke up. She met Jesus Thursday morning at 6:15 Central Time (my time) and 7:15 Eastern (her time). I stayed home from school Wednesday and Thursday, and missed 5 finals. 

Saturday, my entire day was spent with my friend Christine. We went to Starbucks and studied for finals. We watched a surfing competition on TV. It's so difficult to comprehend how much can change in just a day. Saturday was so happy, and the next morning I was faced with the reality that my beloved grandmother was dying. 

On Saturday night, my grandma tried calling me. My phone was on my lap, but I somehow didn't see. My dad suggested I call her back. But I didn't. Stupid, selfish me. That was when she was lying on the floor. Little did I know that was my last opportunity to ever speak to her. 

I will never forget waking up Thursday morning. I was sleeping in my parents' bed (my dad slept on my brothers top bunk), and my dad came in with the phone. I was groggy and I said something sassy (maybe a little rude) to my dad in my half-awake state. 

"She went to be with Jesus an hour ago at 7:15 where I am, 6:15 where you are." my mother said to me. 

"Oh ok" is all I had to say. I wasn't shocked or surprised. Tuesday night, I stayed up until 3 watching a documentary on N0rth K0re@ (not that that's taboo, but this is the internet and you never know;)) several times, knowing that when I woke up she would no longer be there. She made it through that day but the next morning was a different story. 

I didn't cry that day. I honestly wasn't sad. I was sad, but it just didn't hit me. Even at her funeral, it didn't hit me. The first tears shed were at the graveside service. 

So here I am. 48 days later. It's hitting me. I am feeling so broken. Just sad. 

The first few days after she died, I kept getting feel good messages from friends.

"God has a plan!"
"Trust in God."
"He will turn the bad into good."
"She's with Jesus!"
Those who have lost a loved one, especially a grandparent, are nodding your heads. I'm not angry at God in any way. She was 88. She lived an amazing life. She was so loved and loved others with the love of Christ. Not once did I see her sin! I don't say that lightly!

The one that gets me is "you'll get through this with God."


I don't want to simply "get through this". I never want there to be a day when I can talk about her without tears. I don't want the magnitude of how she changed me to ever be forgotten and lost. Ever. 

"I love you." "I'm praying for you." That's what I want to hear. In the first few days, I got many texts and IG comments were somehow connected to Jeremiah 29:11 and Proverbs 3:5-6. So many did simply say "I love you. I'm praying for you." 

That's not to say I don't appreciate the cliche messages I got. Those carried me through it. Knowing people cared and were praying and thinking about me. I needed those more than anything. And now, 48 days later, those are an enormous source of comfort. I'm not popular in any way, but it is so reassuring to get over a hundred messages from people I'm not even close to. I was overwhelmed checking my phone throughout those first days. 

Y'all, that's the body of Christ right there. We are so used to the joy of serving, and we rarely get to see the flip side. Such a little thing ask text made such a change in my heart. 48 days later, I am humbled. 


After we got back from Atlanta and life had to resume, it became meh. Meh is where I am right now. I'm not the same. Kind of low energy. A little depressed, if we are being honest. Not fluffy rainbow unicorns, but not at rock bottom. 

I know fluffy rainbow unicorns will come in time, as will rock bottom. That's life. 

God doesn't expect us to be happy all the time. The expression "Chose Joy" can be so misinterpreted so easily. I'm not glossing over her death and not letting it go. I don't think sadness is getting out of hand considering the circumstances. That doesn't mean that I'm spewing negativity out or being a Scrooge or a troubled teen, or at a loss for peace. Yes?

I have so many regrets surrounding my grandma. We were very close until a couple years ago. I got "too cool for grandma." I can't remember the last time we talked on the phone. I pray she knew how much I loved her. Before she went into a coma, I texted my aunt asking her to tell Grandma that I love her. Looking back, I should have asked to speak to her. She was in pain, but to tell her I love her would have been worth it to me. 

I saw her for the last time in August. There was a bad storm, so we stayed an additional night, but at my aunt's. The next morning, we went over to her house for 10 minutes. I stayed in the car. Stupid me. Stupid, stupid me. Little did I know...

She wrote sweet letters to my mom, aunt, and uncle. This summer, I really should have told her to write me one. I always meant to, but I didn't realize that time is limited. The time is now, y'all!

Treasure your time. It's not unlimited. Just this afternoon, a girl in my church went to be with Jesus. She was only 15! A week ago, she didn't see it coming. I didn't know her at all, but many friends did. One friend had a grudge against her for three years. They didn't talk during that time. Imagine the pain she must be feeling! I kinda feel the same about my grandma. 


Ok, maybe you didn't read all that. That's cool. It's meant to document this time while it's still fresh. :)

Here is the one take away you should get. 

Make sure people know you love them. Heal those friendships and relationships. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. Give hugs. Send sweet texts. Live like you only have a few days left. 

I dare you to. 

(PS - ignore grammar and spelling. We all know how hard it is to type on your iPhone. :) )