PHOTOGRAPHY // THERESA

So in part of my free time I take pictures. Back in May I traveled to Connecticut to celebrate my good friend & former roommate's pregnancy. I loved being able to see her and her bump and of course take some pictures of her and Baby Laine. This little girl will be the cutest. Her parents are the coolest. 











UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

As a newish blogger, I know it's probably social media suicide to take a break so early in the launch. I will begin to post a bit more these next few weeks. I will try try try to reclaim Matron Mondays, Wednesday's Lists & at least one personal post a week.

I have started this post and deleted it many times. I guess it's because I didn't know how to come back after an extended hiatus. What does one say? I know what this one would say. Life has been busy, hard, interesting, fun & above all changing! Here's the biggest change to report today.

I have been working at May Designs for about 3 weeks now!




After 3 years at my last job, I felt like now is as good a time as any to chase crazy & fun dreams. If you had asked me a few months back if I thought I'd be where I am today, I would've said I don't know. Here's the deal. I love social media. Yay for finding fun jobs like this on instagram. I am now a designer with the most creative & fun girls in Houston! 


AWKWARD.


How many times do you hear the self-diagnosis of socially awkward? I went to a college full of kids who were indeed socially awkward. Most of them graduated at the top of their homeschool class. The majority of the friends I have today were home schooled. I wouldn't necessarily label them as socially awkward. What exactly is socially awkward? I swear I can be a bit awkward, and I went to a public high school in the suburbs!

By definition, awkward means lacking social graces or good manners. The synonyms of awkward are no kinder. Who wants to describe themselves as inept, clumsy, gawky, graceless, blundering or maldaroit?

I guess I would.

I keep describing myself as socially awkward, but maybe what I am trying to say is that I am not exactly the most subtle in conversations. I have this innate gift of being blatantly honest and direct to the point. It's only awkward when it gets to be too real too soon. You know those conversations...

This past week I caught myself watching MTV's show, AWKWARD. I got hooked. I have no clue what drew me into the show, but I know I probably should've shut it off. A few things I noticed in the show was the amount of honesty, sarcasm + comedy wrapped into the scenario.

I am not going to dig too deep into this show, but the one thing I took away from it was the main character Sadie. She was the mean girl of the show. The one that made people scared of what she might say. She used her harsh honesty to twist sarcasm into hurting others. My favorite line of hers is you're welcome. 


I realized that the reason I liked her was because I do this! And of course my loving husband was like... yes Ashley, sometimes you're Sadie.

He's right. I do say "You're Welcome" in a sassy way.

I was a bit convicted. As I should be!!!! No one likes a mean friend or wife.

I was at a women's breakfast last weekend and the topic of conversation was fear, insecurity & mean girls. We weren't talking about other girls being mean, but our selves. Why is it that during the entire 2 seasons of awkward I watched I laughed at almost all the mean things?

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Here's a few things I have learned when it comes to using sarcasm:
1. Sarcasm is not a universal language.
2. Sarcasm can be awkward
3. Sarcasm can be hurtful.
4. Not everyone enjoys sarcasm.
5. See 1-4.


Don't get me wrong, I still use sarcasm on a daily basis. I try my hardest to be kind in my words. It's in those awkward situations where the humor of sarcasm really comes in handy. I have learned with some friends, sarcasm is best left outside. What I really need to work on is my satire.

Sarcasm is the use of irony (saying one thing while meaning another) or other rhetorical devices in a biting, hurtful way. There is a difference between sarcasm and satire, although they are related. Satire is the use of irony or ridicule to expose foolishness, but without the “bite” of sarcasm. Satire is gentler; sarcasm is more derisive and sneering.

Sometimes sarcasm can be awkward. Sometimes family situations are awkward. Even text messages that probably should've been sent to someone else are awkward. The one awkward situation I have control over, is what I say. When you use sarcasm, in a hurtful way-- its pretty darn awkward. 










LISTS // MUSIC

I posted a playlist earlier this week. For those who know me in real life know that I am always listening to music. I have so many favorite bands, artists + collaborative albums. It's always hard to narrow it down to favorites. So here is a visual glimpse into my playlist closet. They are in no particular order. If I had to be held at gunpoint to choose a favorite album, it would be  Ben Rector's  Something Like This.  It's definitely my go to album when I don't know what to listen to. 







There are so many more albums I love. But these are my current ones I play the mess out of. I probably listen to the Brandi Carlisle & Les Miserables Soundtrack the most. Or sometimes I will find myself listening to music over at Serial Box. Those guys always have some spectacularly produced tracks. 







+PLAY 01 // SHE IS SPRING

A new season always needs a new playlist. A few friends would describe me as a musicologist. I wouldn't disagree, but I also know I am no expert. I love music. I love how it speaks to your soul, it can be background noise, it can be for meditation. I listen to a variety of music. This playlist is for the girls, or the guys that love listening to the lady folks singing. I tend to listen to guy singers, a lot. There is something about a manly vocals that make me happy.

Don't read too much into this playlist. I made this playlist to spotlight a few of my favorite female artists.






TUESDAY'S STORY // GRANDPA RAMBO


Last week, I took a break from this new blog. It was on Friday, April 20 that I got an urgent text message that led to a frantic phone call about my 87 year old grandpa. I got on the first plane out of Houston to get up to Connecticut to see this guy. You see, this guy is one of a kind. We call him Grandpa Ray "Rambo". It was unexpected. I already had my plane tickets booked to go up Mother's Day weekend, but I forget we are not guaranteed time. 


I make no apologies for sharing this picture. My grandparents have been married 63 years. In those 63 years of marriage, they had 3 children, 6 grandchildren + 1 great grandchild. They have seen 4 grandchildren married. Breast Cancer nor Parkinsons Disease could separate these two. As soon as my flight landed, I went straight to bed + braced myself for a hard day.

My grandpa had been in a rehabilitation hospital for a month or so and suffered a heart attack. They revived him, only to keep him breathing on an artificial lung + absolutely unresponsive. As a family we had to make the hardest decision. This photograph will always be a reminder of what love looks like at the end. Moments after pulling life support, my sweet and faith-filled grandma went to his side and said " I love you Raymond". My grandmother, as strong in her faith as she is in her will, said that even when he was laying in bed of the rehabilitation, unable to move his arms, he would look at her and whisper "I love you".  

For me, the hardest part of this whole weekend was seeing him on life-support and non-responsive. As the first to arrive on Saturday morning, I had a few moments with him. As I looked at my grandpa, I knew that it wasn't long until he could be with the Lord. I cried. I couldn't stay around watching him breathe his last breaths. I didn't want to remember the man who laid before me. I wanted to remember Grandpa Rambo.


I wanted to remember summers at his pool. He would showoff for all us grandkids with his acrobatics and strength. He was well into his 60s and had the stamina of a 20 year old. He taught most of us how to swim. He saved one of us from drowning. He would let us use his snorkel, even when he really didn't want to. He loved his speedos, tanning & summer. He loved his grandkids. My cousin said it perfectly at the funeral, "He wasn't just our grandpa, he was our life." 

I wanted to remember all the times he'd let me sit with him in his chair from the time I was small, until I was taller than him. He would read to me, we would share oreos, we would nap there, he would teach me how to fix a watch. Most of all, he was a man who would share his time with any of his grandkids. 


I wanted to remember his love of laughter + humor. He loved to make people laugh. He used humor to deflect the most awkward moments, even when they were at his expense. About 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. If you know anything about Parkinsons, you know it is a debilitating disease that affects motor skills. The grandpa who used to do handstands could barely walk without falling 20 times a day. No matter how many times he fell (or lost fingers), he would always look at us and smile and make a wise remark. 


I wanted to remember moments like these.


His love for life, outdoors and his family was what I will cherish. Since moving to Texas, most people don't understand where my love for outdoorsman/country living comes from. It comes from this guy. It comes from the man who taught me to shoot a bow and arrow. He trusted me enough to shoot at the target that faced the busy street. I still have no idea how I never hit a car with the lack of skills I had. 



When I watched an 87 year old man breathing his last few hours alive, I didn't look at him with sadness because he was going to die. I looked at him with sadness that not enough people got a chance to get to know him. I will tell stories of this man to my kids. They will hear legendary stories of their great-grandfather. They will hear of the time their great grandad, Rambo, pulled two teenagers out of a burning car. They will hear of the time he won Archery trophies at Sikorsky Aircraft. They will hear of the wild times he had hunting & deep frying his wild turkey, while his wife had a butterball baking in the oven "just in case". There are many pieces of mementos that I will take from his workshop & life. Besides the great memories, I will have a buck hanging in my apartment. Back around the time of my wedding, I got on the phone with my grandma and asked to speak with grandpa. I said, grandpa.. for my wedding, can I please please please have your buck head thats hanging in the family room?. Of course he told me yes.  Of course my grandma thought I was crazy + and silly for that request. Instead of the man I saw on life support, I will look at the deer head and think of Grandpa Rambo, out with his bow and his homemade slugs to catch my buck! 






MATRON MONDAYS \\ LOVE + MARRIAGE pt 2



Hope you had a wonderful weekend! Here is part two of my little interviews with friends who are engaged or newlyweds! I can't believe how many friends are in this stage of life with me. I always get excited with each friend who gets engaged. Admittedly, I am not one of those girls who cries from excitement (laughter/embarrassment--yes), so my excitement is best expressed by a peppering of questions. Since I am so fresh off the wedding planning train, I am always ready to answer questions and help out!

Until then, here are some more really beautiful friends.




What are two things you love about your fiance?

1. He is GREAT with handling all of his finances. Such a comforting feeling.


2. He had never mentioned anything ever about having a crush on a celebrity! So pretty much I have no idea what his "type" is besides me... which is important if you're a girl!
(I obviously have tons of deep reasons that I love him, but those are two that I have been thinking about recently!)

What are the two hardest things about being engaged?

1. Every issue that comes up feels so much more important because we know we will be together for the rest of our lives. The stakes are higher so it's sometimes hard to overlook things like we would when we were dating.

2. Since he has been stable in his job pretty much our entire relationship, he is not as worried about finances as I am. Since I graduate in May, I want to be able to contribute to our finances as much as possible. So I've been putting tons of pressure on myself to find a job before I graduate. I am quickly realizing that I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself and realize that God is in complete control of that (and everything else)!

When is your wedding date?

July 26, 2013 • So we are about 3 months away!

Matt & Allison currently live in The Woodlands, TX. Matt is a Student Pastor and Allison is currently finishing up her degree at University of Texas in Austin. This is a crazy fun year of weddings for Matt and Allison. Allison's older sister got married in January. Matt's older brother, Kris, will be getting married this May. 







What are two things you love about your fiance?


84 days and counting. I am SO ready to be Mrs. Corey David Robinson. In all seriousness, I truly believe the Lord put His very, very best within this man, which is why it comes with no surprise that so many others hold him with as much regard as I do. He's amazing. Never in my life have I met a more humble and genuine individual as he, and it would be my honor to serve him and stand by him 'til the end of my days.


What are the two hardest things about being engaged?

We are so much better together than we are apart. Unfortunately, our entire two-year dating relationship has been long distance, so I'll sometimes find myself curled up in fetal position at the edge of my bed because I miss him so much. Flying out every two or three months to spend only a few days with each other hardly eases the pain of separation.. I miss my best friend. Corey and I are both looking forward to the day when there will no longer be a 1,600mi gap between us. So we just keep reminding ourselves, 84 more days. 84 more days then the world will be all cotton candy and unicorns again. Hallelujah.


When is your wedding date?
July 7th in Los Angeles! 

Mavicar currently lives in Los Angeles while her talented fiance, Corey, lives in The Woodlands,TX. Mavicar is studying to be a nurse and is a super talented worship leader. Corey is a graphic designer & photographer. These two lovelies are great friends with my husband! 

*Special thanks to (my friend) Tessa J. Photography for the lovely picture of Mavicar from their Austin Engagement Session






What are two things you love about being married?

One of the best things of marriage, is quality time with John. We are two busy bees (especially myself) and our time together is so dear and precious. Whether its shopping, cooking, playing cards, long walks, or Saturday mornings in bed when we refuse to set an alarm. I LOVE that the time spent with my husband, makes us fall more in love each day! Its so nice to be able to sit down for dinner and not have to think, oh yea, I have to head back to my house after this... Shoot! Your house is with me now! This time is so important to a marriage. I think stopping to take time to share life with your best friend is one of the best medicines for marriage.

Building our lives together is one of the most amazing things to do alongside my husband. I am a planner and a dreamer and it is so wonderful to talk with John about where we want to be in our lives 5, 10, 50 years from now. Talking about what we want to be when we “grow up” and how we will accomplish those things is so fun. From opening a music studio to creative marketing to dabbling in real estate, sometimes, our dreams are quite diverse. But what I love so much about John and our marriage is that we share our visions. Our dreams become one another’s and we pursue them together.


What are your two biggest challenges of marriage?

During engagement, I remember hearing so much about the challenges of marriage. “The first year is the worse,” “the honeymoon WILL end,” etc. As soon as I would hear something like this I would think to myself, yea, but not for John and me. Not a good idea. Engagement is the puppy love before marriage. You think you can be the exception to the norm and all of these sad stories about marriage could never be about you. But the truth is, sometimes marriage can be a little sticky. And it is okay.

One of my biggest challenges came a few months into being married when I realized the entirety of my vows and what marriage meant. Eternity with every beautiful thing I love about my husband, but also everything that can drive me crazy (I do love those parts as well). I felt anxious, alone (what kind of newlywed thinks like this??) and sad. We want to live in different cities! We want to have kids at different times! We are SO different! Luckily, I married the most caring and patient man in the world. Between him, and time with the Lord, my heart was slowly healed and transformed from being scared of the uncertainty before us, to excitement about our future.

Our other challenge, is work and opposite schedules have been the biggest pain in the butt during our first year of marriage. John often works late nights and long hours at the airport while I work two part time jobs and take a gross amount of graduate classes. At times, our schedules are totally backwards. This leads to us missing one another, which leads to frustration, which leads to bickering, which leads to tears, etc. We have had to be pretty strategic in making sure we spend quality time with one another and have found that we need it to function and to alleviate some of the symptoms of our busy lives during this season.

John & Mina currently live in Springfield, MO. These two lovely people will celebrate their 1-Year Anniversary on June 15th! I had the privilege of attending college with Mina's husband, John. 





LISTS // QUOTES



This week's list, from blogger Moorea Seal, was a bit of stretch for me. A favorite quote in the office is, Continuously amazed, rarely surprised. I'm not one of those girls that are obsessed with quotes. I mean, most quotes I like are from books or movies. The majority of quotes I cherish are bible verses. Unfortunately, I usually don't look for quotes when I am happy. It's when I'm stressed / overwhelmed / anxious / frustrated that I go searching for something to meditate on. Sometimes, its more for motivation.



What a challenge I have given myself. I will trust in the Lord's great love + expect Him to never leave me alone. Trusting and expecting things are definitely not my strengths. My quote that I (used to) live by, is Hope for the best, but expect the worst. My personal favorite, (have) Low Expectations, High Acceptance. Obviously, that mentality is a protective mentality. I can convince myself it is helping me to be more flexible and ready for any situation. I feel like someone read my mail and called me out on that. 

During the whole wedding planning process, I had crazy amounts of anxiety. There wasn't enough time in the day to get everything done. I wasn't worried about the technical wedding, just the marriage part. The fear of the unknown really. I was having anxiety attacks a lot. For me, an anxiety attack was an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, I feel like I am running really fast, my mind is racing and usually I end up crying. I had to search the word. I had to search my heart. I had to pray. I had to stop expecting the worst. 

I have learned over the past few years, that more and more people struggle with anxiety. For me, it's usually the battle of the mind. I know for others, its an assortment of things. The biggest trigger for me is when I go into any given situation with low expectations. Its as if I live waiting for the other shoe to drop. That is most definitely not living in faith. 
What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord. - Psalm 27:14 AMP
Even in trials, as we read in Psalm 27, we are not to expect the worst. How can we not expect the worst when things like the Boston Marathon & Sandy Hook tragedies happen? Those two specific tragedies hit my heart the hardest. How can we not expect the worst, when bad things happen EVERY day? Wait and hope...and expect the Lord. 

I think my biggest trigger to fear and anxiety, is that I continually think I can live on my own strength. Sunday's message rang loud and clear to me. When we are in the trials of life, situations that are out of our control, our stubbornness thinks our strength can outlast God. I kept having this image in my head of what an Occupy My Garbage (sit-in) would look like with God. God always wins, always.  

The service walked through Genesis 43, and the story of Jacob being fearful and anxious about sending Benjamin to Egypt to get food for his famine stricken family. A lot of his inner turmoil came out of his lack of faith and expecting the worst. His family was endangered due to his lack of faith. They were starving and he expected to outlast the famine. A trial is something that drains all of our resources so that we may go to God for what we lack. If we lacked nothing, why would we need God? If we didn't need God, why would he have created us?

Something the pastor said, If God never breaks you, you're not in relationship with him, struck me hard. My inner visual learner kicked in when he said that. Immediately, I began to start thinking of a wild horse that can't trust/need his master if he is never broken. One thing we can expect, is that God will break us. I don't exactly know what that looks like for everyone, but for me it usually has to do with control. When something is outside my control, I get fearful and anxious. God is still continuing to break me of that bent. 

That's right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go. I'm telling you, 'Don't panic. I'm right here to help you. - Isaiah 41:13 MSG

The verse I have memorized the best and longest, is Isaiah 41:10. It was my baptismal verse given to me when I was 12. It's been my life verse, I have leaned on it heavily. When I got to college, I actually read the context of the verse. I wish I had read the full chapter earlier than I did, it would've strengthened me in a lot of situations. You see, in this chapter, we are told we are chosen by God. We (Israel) are His first choice and he tells us fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  

If I'm understanding this right, He tells me He is with me. Why do I expect him to leave me alone? He won't leave me. If were still talking about quotes, I can think of the you can't outrun God, quote if you'd like. Though people have let me down, I can't count on one finger when God has actually let me down. I can count on a few dozen hands when I am sure I have let God down, but who's keeping track? Not God. God has achievable expectations and high acceptance - yay for Grace. 

For now, the whole low expectations, high acceptance mentality I've had for a long time is being cast aside. If I move forward trusting in the Lord's great love + expecting Him to never leave me alone, I don't need to shield myself. If I stop relying on my own strength, I won't feel like I am at an Occupy my garbage with God - He's stronger than me. If I start expecting Him to be who He say's he is, I don't have to be anxious about the rest. 

What causes you the most anxiety? What do your expectations of situations look like? What trials are you in that you have to seek the Lord's resources? What can I pray for you about? Please feel free to
email me or comment on this! 

Have you followed me on Bloglovin yet? It's this nifty thing that puts all your favorite blogs in one place! I LOVE the fact I can flip between blogs without ever leaving Bloglovin's site. 

TUESDAY'S STORY // SHARE HIS LOVE



Over the past week or so, I have this nagging thought when it comes to this blog. I keep thinking about how there are so many stories out there that needs to be shared and how my mundane (well maybe not too mundane) life can't be the only thing people should read about. So I started to think of all my friends that are spread out around the map doing awesome things. So I wanted to start a new series called, Tuesday's Story. If I can give a small glimpse of His heart in this series, my goal is met. 

This first edition of Tuesday's story comes to us from the sweetest, most normal 14-year old I've ever met. I met Makaila at a girl's retreat I was speaking at and knew I just was going to love her! She cheers, plays basketball & loves health and nutrition. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, she has the most precious giving heart. She dreams and loves big. Her Mom & siblings are on an 80-day missions trip to South Africa... 







How my journey started:

It is amazing how much can change in a few short weeks. One minute I am in school.. tired, bored and frustrated with the routine of life, thinking there has to be more! I have always had an adventurous spirit.  I'm fascinated by traveling and other cultures.  One night while driving, I had a conversation with my mom about my desire to travel. Little did I know, they had planned an 80 day missions trip to South Africa. Within two weeks of this announcement we were on our way to South Africa to work with Impact Africa.





What we do in South Africa:


Our work is mainly with Impact Kids. The goal of Impact kids is to reach and educate the underprivileged, orphaned and at risk children, with quality, caring Christian education. We spend many of our days at the preschools showing God’s love to these kids.

Ministry and Discipleship in the squatter camps: Extreme poverty can be found in these camps. They are home to over 250,000 people that live side by side in tin shacks. We go shack to shack sharing the hope of Christ and praying for those in need.



What this journey has taught me:

God’s provision always goes before us when we are in His Will. I have learned on this journey how God has went before us every step of the way. There are incidents and situations that we walk into and we know only God could arrange this, in our own human hands this would not be possible.

 I was a typical teenager that was sad leaving my closest friends, a guy I care about, my cheer team, sports, fun banquets and events. To be honest, my biggest worry was about lack of technology and staying connected with people back home. I wouldn’t trade what I have seen and learned and how it has changed me for anything. We can’t be afraid to risk it all and move out of our comfort zone to see God move. I don’t want to be the typical teenage and consumed with myself and my wants!

He told us to “GO”…I think every teenager needs to go at least once. In Matthew, He already told us to GO into all the world before he left this earth. God wants to use us in our youth, he wants his love to move through us.



A few weeks before I left, my group of Christian friends were talking about how they had to share their “salvation testimony” in school. They all said, " its a private matter, we shouldn’t have to share that." I thought to myself, this just can’t be true. If Christ is alive in us how will those who don’t know about Christ ever hear? I don’t want to live in a church/Christian culture were we just live good Christian lives in our church buildings or Christian schools. He wants us to invite the lost and share his love with those who don’t know him.

One night while it was storming my mom and I just felt overwhelmed thinking about all the sweet kids we have come to know and love. These kids are sleeping in tin shacks with cold rain dripping on them. It is hard to comprehend these kids live like this day and day out, yet they are grateful for the smallest things. They show up with smiles when they have no reason to smile! I want God to continue to change me to always have a grateful heart at all times!

The need seems overwhelming, but love and hope is found in Him alone. Each of us can play a role in spreading his love. I realize though I am just one, I can make a difference!


You can follow Makaila's journey on her instagram feed & #80daysinafrica. Thank you Makaila for taking time in between your safari & working in the orphanage to write this lovely update! I am so excited for all that you are doing! I am also super proud of you! Can't wait to hug you when you get back stateside!!