one frame: kelsey & john wed

The light — it draws us in. Kelsey & John's wedding was dreamy — Queen Mary, perfectly bright and lovely on an overcast Long Beach day.


overcoming anxiety, one attempt

Heavy heart, tightened stomach, today was a day of anxiety. It seems I often have the most anxiety over the small things, collected.

Little mountains of stress like pestilent anthills form until there are too many to manage.

I am no longer in control, or feel that I am. Soon, all my eyes see are the anthills. Reality begins to slither away and my stomach tightens and head aches. I'm not in control. A feeling of fear overcomes ... and then, hopefully, eventually, relief.

I realize I never was nor should be in control. At least not to the extent that I believe I should be. Loosening my grip on the reigns of my life isn't easy nor is it simple to let go and somehow will my stomach to untighten or my head to stop pounding, but the symptoms ease as truth sets in and the Lord gently removes the reigns from my hands, saying "I'll take these." (I can imagine him slightly, kindly and cheerfully, snickering, "You never had them in the first place" as a way of comic relief). 

Tonight, may the Lord grant me peace as my mind attempts to grasp that He has everything under His control. 


Drop Your still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease:

Take from our souls the strain and stress;

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Your peace.


Breathe through the pulses of desire

Your coolness and Your balm;

Let sense be mum, its beats expire:

Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,

O still small voice of calm!

—   L.B. Cowman

Blessings to you and yours this evening.

What or who are your anthills? What do you need from God this evening? How do you feel asking the Lord for something?

*Photo taken on Maui in Summer 2011.


they told me i was crazy

If I were going to Europe, it would seem slightly more understandable. But no, I was about to embark on a three-week solitude retreat without technology, friends or leisure reading material. I was spending my entire vacation and travel savings on quiet and less than luxurious surroundings in Washington state. 

I was scared they were right.

I was about to spend two of the most precious equities of our day: time and money. Without any guarantee it would be worth the risk.

I decided to go anyway.

Two weeks before I left, my mind was racing.

What if I hadn’t discerned correctly? What if this was a waste of time? What if my travel savings would be used on a miserable experience … when I could have gone to Europe?!?

The questions were endless, sometimes leading into panic. “What if I, I … I?”

All of my questions surrounded this one letter, a pronoun — me. I was concerned about my time and money. My energy. Me. Somehow I had forgotten the original purpose of this three-week solitude retreat. I had forgotten that it was about what God wanted to do. That it wasn’t for me. (In our culture this is practically a sin.)

It was for God. For us — my relationship with Him.

Moreso, I had forgotten who He is — loving, kind, merciful, purposeful. Could I really think that God would use time and resources on something pointless? Why not prompt me to use this money elsewhere?

I realized I was asking the wrong questions — questions I was taught to ask.

The lies of our society entangled myself in the awe of time and money — that time and money had a higher value than trust in God and stepping out in faith.

The lies of perfectionism and productivity were wrapped into these dirty little fears and doubts. This trip must be productive in some way or else it isn’t worth it. What will people think of me? The lies of our society entangled my trust in God.

Slowly, but steadily I began to turn my questions around. What if God uses this trip for His good? What if God has been calling me to this trip? How will God work on this trip? If I’m this deep in, God must be up to something.

I’m not sure how I would have reacted had I returned and decided it wasn’t worth it, but I don’t think that’s how God works. I’m positive that years later, I would discover the benefits of stepping out in faith, defying societal and cultural standards, denouncing the power of a guarantee on my investments and giving up some of my most precious equities of time and money to His use. The practice of surrendering alone can bring one to new heights in their relationship with the Lord, whether immediate grief or joy follows.

For me, I knew within the first few days that surrendering to whatever God had for me on this trip was worth it, but it took years to get there. One year later, I’m still unpacking the goodness of God from those three weeks alone with Him and I'm positive that will be the case for the rest of my life.


Where is God calling you to step out in faith during this season of your life?

I'd love to hear what you think about stepping out in faith and how society impacts our daily choices, even in following God. Join the conversation and leave a comment below.

*Photo taken on my three-week retreat in Gig Harbor, Washington. Summer 2012.


erin & ethan: proposal

She said yes. When Ethan messaged me last week, I had high hopes for what it meant — he was proposing to one of my dearest, bestest friends ... really, my sister. I've known Erin for as long as I can remember. Literally. (Our moms were pregnant together.) My hopes were confirmed when we talked later that night and for the remainder of the week, I was nervous to call or text Erin in case I would somehow let the surprise slip. Luckily, no one let the surprise slip.

With the perfect cover, Ethan planned a date that ended on the Balboa peninsula at the Bay Arcade, where they spent their first date two years ago. With the ring slipped in the prize counter, Erin and Ethan played skee ball and air hockey after a ferry ride over from the island. Eventually they made their way to the counter, where Erin found a much prettier prize than she ever expected.

Erin and Ethan, Congratulations! I am beyond excited for the two of you. I have loved watching your journey as a couple and it was a blessing to photograph your engagement and celebrate with you! Erin, you will always be my sister. Ethan, I am so excited to have you as a brother! The two of you make not only an incredibly gorgeous couple, but a couple whose story will continue to bless and minister to others. I love both of you — individually, together and for each other!


look and listen

Lately, I've had too many words. As a verbal processor, my words often tumble out too fast. My lips are loose with canons. Sometimes, fireworks — colorful, good, joyful. Sometimes, otherwise. There are days like today where it is better to stop talking, stop writing. And, to look and listen. 

So I invite you to pause. To look and listen. And today, as John Muir recommends, keep close to nature's heart.

Look and listen today. What may God have for you in pausing?

*Photos taken on a day trip to Big Bear in May 2013.