May 29, 2012

good bye

i'm usually not great at saying good-bye. i stay pretty emotionless during the hugs and the 'see you laters.' the reality of the good-bye doesn't typically sink in until days or weeks later.

not tonight.

tonight i am one big blubbering female mess.

for the next six days, T will be on Santa Barbara Island as part of a class trip. not seeing him for 6 days is strange enough, especially since we're used to spending at least a tiny bit of time together every day. but on a little one-square mile island out in the Pacific, there's also no service or source of communication whatsoever. the fact that we won't be in touch at all is absolutely killing me, and i'm not sure why.

maybe it's because i've been psyching myself up for this trip for a few weeks.

maybe it's because i'm afraid something might happen to him, and i won't be there to help.

or maybe it's because i'm absolutely bananas for this guy. 

the tears started on sunday night. it was one of those nights where he was my rock exactly when i needed him to be strong. he was praying over me and encouraging me, and i think it suddenly dawned on me that i would be without that for a while, longer than i have ever been in our last 15 months. 

this afternoon, we spent a few last hours together, and i was dreading the end the entire time. the tears came again when we were laying down, just relaxing and enjoying some quiet moments with each other. i am so stupid in love with him, a love that is deeper than anything i have ever known before. i started picturing the next week without him, and as fun and busy as it will be, it will no doubt be lonely and empty. the stack of cards he handed me will be an absolute lifesaver, and since we always seem to be on the same page, he has a stack of letters from me to read throughout the week too. thank goodness.

i will miss telling him about my day and hearing about his. 
i'll miss his advice when i need it and his perspective on things.
i'll miss his challenges and his encouragement. 
i'll miss his hugs and holding his hand.
i'll miss hearing 'i love you's' every day and laughing my head off.
i'll simply miss being next to him and doing things with him. 
i'll miss my best friend most of all. 

thankfully, we both have God in our hearts, and i am praying for extra portions of His comfort, peace, and strength this week. i'll confess to you that i feel absolutely ridiculous for crying all the way home from san pedro. i thought i was the strong and independent girl. i'm pretty sure now that if anything were ever to happen to T, it would be through God's strength alone that i would survive and carry on. i guess that's what happens when you fall deeply in love with someone.

May 25, 2012

graduation bound // amanda

this week marks CSULB's Commencement Week, which means hundreds of students are tossing their caps in the air and saying goodbye to their undergrad work. some will pursue even higher education (crazy people) and some will start 'real jobs' in the 'real world.' it'll be one more year before it's my turn to graduate, but the thought is already freaking me out! what a huge accomplishment college graduation is.

last weekend, an old friend who i've known through high school and dance asked me to take some senior portraits for her. of course i said yes! despite the crazy wind and the dozens of prom-goers all over Seal Beach, we still had such a blast. i'm so proud of this girl - congratulations amanda! 

May 19, 2012

serve the city

this morning, our church participated in 'serve the city.' it's a day where local churches take on a variety of projects to bless our community. this year, the college group did something a little different. the project was called 'suds & serve.' our pastor's goal was simply to go to a laundromat with rolls of quarters and bless people by paying for their laundry. it sounds totally different from your usual church outreach, right? when he first told our group about the project, i'll admit that i was definitely a little hesitant. who's really going to accept our money? won't we look silly just asking people to pay for their laundry? thoughts and doubts like that raced through my mind, and i instinctively wanted to serve in a different way - maybe a beach clean-up, or helping at the rescue mission, or something else task-oriented. nope, T put his foot down and said we'd be serving with the college group.

so, this morning i dragged myself out of bed, rolled up to church, and had no idea what to expect. we prayed for boldness and opportunities, and then carpooled out to 2 laundromats. still, i had no idea what to do. it's moments like these that i am extremely grateful for T and the ways he challenges me. our group of 5 college students went to the coin laundry, with quarters in our pockets and our bags. almost immediately, T started marching up to people asking them if they wanted change - some accepted, the first few refused, telling us to give it to someone more...(they didn't finish their sentences). we sat down in front, and after a while, we started intercepting anyone headed toward the change machine. i think people thought we were just giving them change, but when we started refusing the $5, $10, and $20 bills they were handing us, they were shocked. no, we said, we want to bless you today by paying for your laundry. please, just take it. and they did, with faces in shock. after an hour, we started feeling pretty comfortable, and readily approached people saying hi, we're from a local church and we were wondering if we could bless you by paying for your laundry today? the responses were amazing.

some people shouted for joy, some hugged us, others just came over and started chatting with us while their loads were washing. a few people stopped and looked up, searching for cameras. no, we're not punking you, we said. the idea that people were just giving away quarters was absolutely dumbfounding to them. what a great idea! some said. we encouraged those who reluctantly accepted the change to pay it forward and to give the bills they saved to someone else they thought may need it. the last family we ran into just moved and was looking for a church. 10:45 on sunday morning! i said. even inviting someone to church is something i rarely do, but i wish i would more often. people left the coin laundry with either a God bless  or a thank you. no, thank YOU i wanted to say back. once again, i was reminded of how awesome it is to serve people and to give, without expecting anything in return.

maybe that's why God places such importance on living out our faith, not just talking about it. yes, it's uncomfortable and different, but it has always been so rewarding to me in the end.

May 17, 2012

wish list

my birthday is in less 2 months. i'm almost 100% that i'll be celebrating my 21st birthday in china, and i have no idea what that will look like! but i am excited!!

whenever my birthday or christmas is around the corner, i always make a wish list. this is this year's wish list, so far.

photoshop lightroom

an iphone

money to take a photography class

a fun camera strap (etsy, anyone?)

new books, about photography or Jesus

of course, there are other little knick-knacks that i love, like coffee mugs, or photo frames/albums, or music. but these are the BIG things i'm saving up for...and maybe someone who loves me will surprise me with them. or a coalition of people who love me, since i'm kind of asking for a lot. 

May 15, 2012


this past weekend, i got to hang out with one of my best high school friends. she came down to SoCal to visit her boo, but i got to steal her for a day first, which was wonderful! we met way back when in 8th grade, but i think it wasn't until after high school that we truly became better friends. her creativity, her transparency, and her heart for the Lord have always inspired me. i remember always thinking in high school, 'i want to be just like this girl!' we've come to a point though where i think we both want to just be better versions of ourselves as we help each other along the way. i'm so glad for the few moments here and there i get with her.

we enjoyed the most delicious lunch at Crema Cafe in seal beach (which you should really go to if you haven't yet)...

...and then strolled down main street before stopping and grabbing coffee before heading back on the road (Javatinis is delicious! and definitely a new favorite coffeeshop). 

and of course we took pictures! if i were honest with you, i'd tell you that jordan is the one who actually inspired me to pursue photography. remember how i said i wanted to be just like her? well she has always been a phenomenal photographer and she taught me so much of what i know! this time we got to take pictures of each other, and i am in love with them.


and for all your CSULBers out there...happy finals week!

May 14, 2012

bitter old me

the very bitter side of me would like to request that no one speak to her about engagements, wedding planning, or happy married life for the next, oh i don't know, 74 hours. please and thank you.

on a side note, a very wise friend reminded me the other day that 'marriage doesn't fix everything.' bless her heart. 

on 'the other side' note, this is completely unrelated to my own personal relationship. it's wonderful, thanks for asking.

May 3, 2012

the day my heart broke

i'm going to be real with you today.

love. hurts.

i don't mean hurt as in people in love hurting each other. not at all. i mean the kind of love where you want things so badly it hurts when they don't happen. wait, let me backtrack. all of this comes from a place long ago...

eight years ago, my dad passed away from colon cancer. i'll be honest with you and tell you that i don't remember many of the details surrounding the weeks and months after it happened. i remember the anguish and deep pain i felt on the day. i'll never, ever forget that. and i realize now how much that day changed me on the inside. i often tell people that i grew stronger and learned so much about God's faithfulness. all of that is true. but that day also broke my heart.

before that day, i was not a very sensitive or emotional person. i thought it was absolutely ridiculous when people cried during movies. i never cried about things like that. i didn't have a lot of compassion on those weaker than me. i wouldn't describe myself as sympathetic or empathetic. i was a bull-headed girl who breezed by others. i was bossy and critical (and i still am, a little bit).

at 12 years old, that day broke my heart, and it hasn't really been fixed since then. most people probably still describe me as strong, joyful, the 'have it all together' girl. that's the girl i try to be, because really, losing my dad did make me stronger, and it brought me a deep joy and reliance on the Lord that i would have never known before. but most people probably don't see the girl who tries to hold back her tears when she is overwhelmed or hurt. that's me too.

suddenly, i became the girl who cried in movies and shows. i cry when characters lose someone they love. i cry when i see people celebrating moments of sheer joy. my heart aches when i see people suffering, rejected, alone, or lost. i so desperately wish they could know the deep love of God, his healing, and his faithfulness. that alone is the only thing that makes me who i am today.

despite all the loss and the grief though, i'm still a girl who hopes and dreams with all her heart. this morning i realized that on that day, 8 years ago, i lost the person my little twelve year old self loved most. my dad was my hero, my comforter, and my protector. in the years following, i often resented God for taking away the strongest male influence in my life. my mom, my two sisters, and me, had no man to lean on anymore. but we slowly learned to lean on God, and we learned that we are strong ourselves.

then, a year ago, God gave me a new protector, a new comforter, and a new hero. the hole in my heart was suddenly filled. nothing could stop me from loving him with everything i had. he was, and still is, every answer to all of my prayers. and every day, i wish he and my dad could have met in this life.

but big love also means big hurt. as a little girl, my dad was the man i loved most. and when God took him, my heart hurt more than it ever had before. now, as a grown woman, T is the man i love most. but that also means that he's the one i miss the most, always, the one who has the potential to break my heart unlike anyone else, and the one i have the biggest hopes for. i think that's the risk in love. by giving all of your heart to someone, you're accepting the risk that they could hurt you more than any other human on the planet. but i can undoubtedly say that the risk is worth it.

May 1, 2012

summer is almost here

i'm sitting in my history lecture right now, totally tuning out. there are only 4 classes left and all i can say is 'thank you sweet Jesus.' this semester has given me a run for my money. 

i posted on FB last week that i am looking forward to to a clean, fresh start when summer comes around. here's what i mean:

in june, i'll be moving out of my little studio and renting a room in a friend's house. i'm so excited for that. i've been thinking a lot about simplicity lately. there was a photo i saw on pinterest the other week that said 'give me a small apartment, enough food to eat, and a job that i love.' amen. we don't need clutter and extravagance and more than enough. we just need enough. i'm excited to save some money and tuck it away for future things. you know, 'future things.' ;] i'm excited to sell the furniture and things i've accumulated this past year and tuck that money away for future things as well. 

this summer, i want to get back into a regular routine concerning discipleship and Bible study. i came to the conclusion that i spent more time pouring into others than feeding myself this semester. in exchange for all the leadership i took on, i completely eliminated any time for myself. so this summer, that's going to change. there needs to be balance, you know? i'm totally stoked about it. 

on the same note, i'm going to be taking a step back going into this next fall. i want to devote more time to serving people, rather than just leading them. 

i'm all about organizing, organizing, organizing. so, in addition to cleaning everything out this summer, i'm also going to reorganize what i already have. i want to start the next school year a little more on top of things. 

speaking of, after summer, i'm going into my last year of college! holy smokes! i can't believe it.

only 2 page flips left til the official end of the semester. halle-lu-jah.