this crazy-beautiful life.

i tried (and tried) to write new posts alllll weekend, and y'all - i got nothin'. [expect poor grammar. just kiddin' - it's an oklahoma thang.] 
when i read this post by my sweet friend, kiki, i knew i wanted to share a similar update.

but then i realized i did not have a "pretty" picture to post with the update. after i ran the daily errands at work this morning, i noticed the magnolia tree had a new bloom. i took a few [okay, that's not true. more like seventeen] pictures and then snapped a photo of myself. my honest thought when i looked at that photo was, "it's pretty, but i cannot post this on my blog. the building is in the background and i am not wearing a cute outfit."

as i walked back inside, it occurred to me: why do i spend so much time & effort crafting a perfect, pretty, picturesque online life?
i am giving off this perceived reality of having it all together, all the time. i wasn't created to curate a seemingly perfect online life - i was created to bring Him glory. my life is messy and sometimes boring and sometimes crazy and it's a lot of different adjectives, but most of all - it's a beautiful gift from my Heavenly Father. when i look at this picture now, i'm reminded how immensely loved i am by the Creator of the universe. even in my mess, He pours His grace & mercy on me every single day and shows me i am beautiful because i am His.

now that i have totally veered off topic, here's how my crazy-beautiful life has been going lately:

youth group  //  when God put these kids on my heart a year ago, i had no idea how much they would change my life. though they aren't my flesh and blood, i treat them as such. there have been nights where i couldn't fall asleep because i was in awe of the ways He was working in their lives. and there have been nights when the words didn't come as freely as the tears did. i've watched as kids give their lives to Jesus, and i've also watched as they struggle with the temptations and hardships this life brings. they've opened their lives up to me, and it's so beautiful, but so often heartbreaking because their home lives are less than ideal. i've learned there are three constant things i can provide these teens: prayer, love, and grace.

singleness  //  yep. still single. this topic gives me so many conflicting emotions. most days, i'm okay with it. and other days, not so much. i can't open instagram without a picture of a left hand adorned with a sparkly ring or a cute pregnancy announcement greeting my eyes. yep, sometimes IT SUCKS. but marriage is not something i take lightly. i have shifted my thinking from waiting on a husband to the notion that if i can better serve God with a boyfriend right now, i'd have one. if He wanted me to be married, i'd have a ring on my finger. in the meantime, i want to live my life; i don't want to waste my energy on things i have no control over. being single is not a disease; it does not define me. i will not let society manipulate me into thinking i have to be at a certain cultural level by a specific time in my life. this is exactly where i am supposed to be. if marriage is in God's plan for me, then so be it. if not, it is well with my soul.

blogging & photography  //  i've had more ideas for the blog in the last thirty minutes than i have in the last thirty days. this part of my blogging journey feels a lot like it did when i first started out in photography. i was frustrated because i wanted my work to look like the work of photographers i admired and aspired to be like, but then there came a point where i had to form my own identity as a photographer. i didn't want to be a second-rate version of someone else, so i researched and practiced every chance i got. these days, when i actually use my camera, there is a kind of freedom on my fingertips. i do not get that feeling with blogging, but it's a process. and there's beauty in that.

community  //  i love my church family, but it's comprised of three groups: youth, adults, and the much older adults. [that's a nice way to put it, right?] i feel like i am missing out sometimes. don't get me wrong - i lovelovelove the wisdom and encouragement from the older generations. it's been vital over the course of the last year. but i am craving a good bible study. and coffee shop talks. and conversations that last until the lightening bugs come out to play. but then i remember that my soul sistah will be here in a few weeks, and i thank God for her friendship and the ladies i've met through blogging. for people who don't blog - the thought of a blog community might sound odd. but for me - it's one of the best communities out there. i'm constantly inspired and challenged by these women. i hope our paths cross this side of heaven some day.


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