My ever changing Sundays

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Sundays are different to everybody, for me as a kid they were meant for going to church. Sometimes I loved going, others I dreaded it.  Sunday school was fun for the most part. In high school, I went to church about every week but I mostly helped in kindergarten, and second grade classrooms. I had so much fun being apart of teaching about Jesus to a room full of adorable little kids with a heart for God. My mom was a Sunday school teacher, so that’s how I initially got involved, and then the hours counted towards community service for my high school. I did enjoy going, but I probably needed to be more involved in a high school group, but those were less appealing.

It was either my Junior or Senior year of high school when my parents changed churches, so I followed suit. I didn’t like the new church as much, but my parents did. I started dreading going to church almost every time, my heart wasn’t in it. When I hit my first year of college, we had chapel 2-3 times a week, and church. I thought it sounded great at first, but I grew tired of it, feeling forced to go all the time. I didn’t have a good attitude, and outlook about it. Looking back I realize what an amazing opportunity it was to grow & be with people who desired the Lord. I do have regrets for not seizing the opportunities I was blessed with, but I was lost & guess my heart wasn’t truly willing.

This past year my Sundays consisted of working at a restaraunt downtown. I slowly stopped taking Sunday shifts, but not to go to church, to hang out with friends. A friend from work, and I used to go bar hopping on Sunday nights, our “Sunday fun days.” Then when I got into a relationship, Sundays became our date nights. Sundays lost their previous meaning for me, it just became an ordinary day where I didn’t think of God at all.

I’ve spent more than enough time lately dwelling on the past and things I cannot change, so I’m actively trying to start fresh, and focus on the present. I haven’t consistently been to church since my first year of college, which sadly was about 6 years ago. I have been to church since but again not with a willing heart, and it was usually because my family went. I shamefully admit it was only a few times a year, maybe for Christmas, Easter, and times I accompanied my best friend. But I didn’t desire to go every week, I didn’t go with an open heart, I didn’t really focus on the message, and let it sink in. I definitely did not think about it much the other 6 days of the week. I went about my life, doing the same things. I honestly didn’t think I needed church, or didn’t think it was for me anymore, and a part of me felt like it was too hard to keep going because I would have to change my ways. I would often feel guilt when going to church, feeling uncomfortable, and who wants that? Nobody wants to be out of their comfort zone, and feel guilt, but often times that’s what we have to go through to grow. I kept ignoring it, and just gave up.

Fast forward to the end of June, the night before I ended up breaking up with my boyfriend I went to church with my friend. It had been a long time since I had been, it was a new church. I actually wanted to go, it was something that had been weighing on my heart in the last couple months of my relationship. I was hesitant to tell him because I knew he would think it was weird. It felt so good being there, being around people who needed, and wanted Jesus in there life.

I was finally at a point in my life where I was no longer ashamed to admit I needed Jesus in my life. I felt convicted, refreshed, safe, not feeling lost for a moment. I was so tired of feeling lost, but I didn’t realize what I needed to no longer feel that way. Only God knew exactly what I needed, and He knew the perfect timing. It was definitely God who put this desire in my heart. I used to think church was only for those who have it all figured out but it’s absolutely not the case. Nobody will ever have it all figured out we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of be Lord, but by His grace we are redeemed.

I’m so thankful to my best friend, she knows who she is! 🙂 She has always been a great example in my life of following Christ, and living by faith. I’m so blessed to have had her as friend for all these years. Even through times when I wasn’t the best friend in return, and when I wouldn’t tell her everything because I knew she would judge me, but honestly I deserved it, and needed to be held accountable to my actions. I’m so glad we are able to go to church together, and grow, it’s been fun trying different churches. I’m excited to continue going to church, this time with a willing heart, a desire to grow. I thank you Jesus for changing my heart, opening my eyes, and taking me back no matter what I have done, and how far I strayed from you. I thank you for your mercy, and endless grace.

Photography: Comfort behind the lens

When I lived in California I would go to Del Mar beach as much as I could, with my camera in tow. I was taking a photography class so I finally had an excuse for taking so many pictures. Being behind the camera has always made me feel safe, I remember feeling lost, restless, confused and just walking along the beach thinking. The fresh air and the sound of the crashing waves calmed me, I felt a sense of peace near the ocean. I let my camera lead the way, following whatever caught my fancy. I often walked near the train tracks taking pictures from up above the beach. It may sound unusual but the sound of trains/coasters relaxed me, a sense of distraction from my thoughts.

I found beauty, and joy in everyday surroundings. A coaster may not be much to some people, but to others it signifies hope, hope in a new day, a fresh start, hope of meeting new people, hope of a better day when they reach their destinations.

Photography gives me a feeling of hope, focus, contentment. The world around me seems less scary through my lens.

I would spend hours at the beach staring off into the vast ocean in awe of God’s beautiful creation. I loved the reflection of the sun glistening on the warm sand, as the waves crashed over the various colored stones washed ashore. Looking back at these photos it makes me appreciate the small things, the joy i found watching the birds leave their little prints in the sand as they wandered the beach. the simple satisfaction of watching the waves continuously swoosh back and forth for hours.

A gorgeous sunset over the pristine blue ocean. I remember my exact feelings of loneliness, and not knowing my place in the world. Life passing me by, as I stood still. In a moment it all shifted, with a change in perspective, and a press of a round black button the world stopped. Those insecurities disappeared in that moment.

Photography: Multiple Interpretations

  
One of my favorite photographs I took a few years ago when my Canon Rebel XSI was brand new. I like looking back at the photo, and guessing this man’s journey. Was he taking a stroll on the beach contemplating life? Missing a loved one? Was he sad dwelling on past memories? Was he lonely?Was he longing for something or someone? Or maybe he was simply just out taking a walk, enjoying the beautiful day. I love photographing people in their natural state, not posed or staged, just free to be exactly who they are in that moment.

New Perspective- Photography on Horseback

  
There is beauty all around us, up above our heads, below our rubber soles, right in front of us, we look, but do we truly see? 

   

  
I have been riding my horse lately, it had been almost a year, I had forgotten how much I love it. I’ve been around horses all my life, my mom had me on a horse as a small munchkin.

I’ve always felt a strong connection with horses, feeling safe, yet aware of the risk, trusting this 1000 pound animal with your life. Being on a horse is extremely exhilarating, freeing, captivating, and literally breathtaking. A beautiful escape into a carefree perspective, the everyday doubts, worries, unbearable stresses just fade away into the sand.

  


I’ve been getting my horse acclimated to dogs barking, kids playing, sirens blaring, and to my frequent stops, taking pictures of the beautiful nature. I love the perspective from the back of my four legged 1000 pound companion.

It is necessary in life to find something that refreshes, and recharges you, a hobby that gives you clarity, and new perspectives. Horseback riding and photography are outlets for me to step back, think, and process life’s obstacles. What are your outlets?

All photos are taken by me.

Flawed, but loved

imageLife isn’t meant to be done alone, I am dark, weak, broken, bruised, sick, I’m selfish, and often forget to spread love; I’m in desperate need of His grace, and mercy. We all are flawed, yet God still loves us. How can we not love everyone no matter what they do, when God has showed us unconditional love. Remember to love, even when it hurts, even when you think someone doesn’t deserve it, because we don’t deserve God’s love but He does anyways. Remember to listen, to be there for each other, lift each other up not bring one another down.

Red journal entry

My journal entry from a few years ago.

“I feel alone, lost, and confused. I’m weak in these moments, I need the one I can rely on, look to for courage, someone who makes the judgmental thoughts disappear only bringing love. The type of love that will make the birds swoon, the oceans roar, and leave my heart content. I want to lend a hand without thinking twice, be there for someone when they need it the most. I want to push away the attention from myself, and let the serving of others bring me joy. I want to feel an unexplainable happiness, letting it show. I want to break out of my cage of sadness, self-loathing, and live life to the fullest, sending love.”

I’ve always needed God, but I didn’t always have an open heart. God’s love is enough, it’s all I need right now. Have an open heart, my friends.

  
 Pictures I took in Canon Beach, Oregon about six years ago.

The red journal

I found an old journal of mine during my move recently, it’s been quite entertaining reading my thoughts on love and relationships over the years. I know I don’t know a whole lot about relationships, but I’ve certainly learned valuable lessons, that I hope to never repeat. Hopefully by sharing these, some people can relate and take comfort in knowing we aren’t alone, we all go through trials that make us stronger. It’s almost embarrassing how much time I wasted on guys who didn’t deserve a second of my time. Have you ever been in that situation, where you look back embarrassed that you put so much effort into someone that clearly wasn’t right for you?

One of my journal entries:

“A boy who doesn’t respect me, doesn’t deserve me, I can do better. I had fun, but I think I had to force myself, if you’re not feeling it at first, you cannot force the situation. I think I’ve just been lonely, I liked what I felt with him, knowing I was wanted, and he made me feel pretty. I have to remind myself to stop putting my self worth in the hands of a boy. I need to love myself on my own before I can let someone love me, otherwise how do I know the right reasons for being with someone? Will I ever find the right one? Will I ever open my heart? Will I meet someone worth the effort of a relationship again?”

I spent so much time worrying about the wrong guy wondering why it didn’t devolp further, but why did I care so much. I’m too emotional to a fault sometimes, I should have just moved on quicker when I knew it wasn’t right. Have you ever let the fear of being alone keep you in the wrong relationship? I was relying on myself, thinking I knew best, but what I know now, is that I knew nothing. This particular guy that I was pouring my emotions into was hung up on his ex, because she was still his best friend, he didn’t want to get back together with her but didn’t want to lose her from his life. He never fully let me in, but he expected me to be all the things he wanted, and needed. He made me feel I was never good enough, he judged me for drinking occasionally with my friends, that I didn’t go to church, he constantly compared me, and said I wasn’t Christian enough for him. He didn’t encourage me to be better he brought to light the ways I would never measure up. I tried changing myself for him, I let his opinions get to me, he messed with my head. My mistake was changing for a guy, he never encouraged me to pursue God, he just made it seem like I was in a different dimension than him. He was one of the most confused people I have ever met, he thought he was the greatest Christian guy, but he was forgetting that we are all human, sinful people in need of God’s grace. He never should have made me feel inferior, but I never should have given him the time to.

  

Stay strong and beautiful

  
Just a little encouragement to start your week. I came across this tank top at a store called Basement Marketplace, it inspired me to write. How often have you looked in the mirror, and thought “I feel ugly, I have pimples on my nose, my hair is frizzy, and I have love handles from all that ice cream, and laffy taffy?” Okay, maybe you haven’t thought that exact thing, but I sure did this weekend. Sometimes I wish there were less mirrors in the world, think how much happier everyone would be, if they didn’t have to constantly keep up with outward appearances. I’ve always felt so much happier and content with myself when I don’t look in the mirror, when I’m doing something to make others happy. Being less focused on myself, and focused on more important things.

We all are different shapes, colors, and sizes, but does that make anyone less beautiful than someone else? No, we are all beautifully, and uniquely created if people tell you otherwise, than they aren’t people worth surrounding yourself with. It’s about accepting your differences, and everyone else’s, and seeing the beauty in all of it. When you have a moment doubting yourself or feeling “ugly” try skipping the mirror, go lend a hand, step out of your comfort zone, and you’ll be amazed at how it feels. Knowing it doesn’t matter what you wear or if you have pimples on your nose, nobody notices, because we all have our own insecurities, and struggles. We need to take our negative opinions, and insecure thoughts, putting that energy towards making someone smile or laugh, turning the negative into a positive.

Last week my best friend, and I volunteered at church cleaning the campus for the new school year. She, and I had some last minute hesitations, because we didn’t feel like cleaning. I was feeling bloated, and crampy, and would rather have watched movies on the couch. Once we got there, and were put to work we forgot all about ourselves, our attitudes immediately changed. It was refreshing to be apart of a community with a group of others working to better the environment for kids at school. I was sitting on the ground in the 90 degree weather scrapping gum off the sidewalks, and it didn’t matter that my makeup was melting off my face, my armpits started sweating, and getting smelly. (okay, that part did bother me a bit) It was knowing that we were apart of something so much more than us, helping others regardless if you are comfortable or not.

I was able to meet new people I wouldn’t normally have a chance to meet. We can stay strong, and beautiful the minute we stop thinking of ourselves so much, putting our strengths to use helping others in need, sharing our stories, and encouraging one another. It’s easy to let the negative thoughts, and the insecure moments of body shaming control our every thought, but we are stronger than that. I dare you to try going a day without makeup or without looking in the mirror, and lend a helping hand to someone. Whether it be big or small, for a stranger or a friend, step outside yourself and make a difference. Help remind someone that they too are strong, and beautiful just by being themselves.

Matters of the heart

I never thought I would become so dramatic, but anyone who has been through a breakup or relationship struggle knows the pain. It doesn’t matter if you were the one to decide to end the relationship, it still hurts all the same. I’ve never hated logic so much in my life, my breakup was a logical decision at the time, but all the feelings are still there. We had foundational issues, and we are on extremely different paths, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still love him. I find myself looking at old pictures, and reminiscing, I need to stop! I go through days where I feel strong, confident that I can move forward knowing I made the right decision… But other days I feel broken inside, missing him so much, missing what we had. I pray for the strength to stand in my decision, knowing it’s best for both of us.

Do you ever have that gut feeling, when you know you made the right decision but yet sometimes your weak moments get the best of you? I’m not strong enough to get through this heartache and confusion on my own. Without praying to God, and reading His word everyday, I would still be in a relationship that I knew didn’t have a future. Solely because it was comfortable, and we still love each other. I’m weak. It’s a constant battle of feeling lonely, and trusting God, that His plans are far better than my plans, wants, and desires. I have no idea what His plan is, but I have to trust that all this pain I feel will eventually disappear, but not without me praising Him through this struggle. Wherever you are in your journey, whatever your hurdle may be, know you aren’t alone, and that it will get better.