lie locks

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Here's the deal darling. You're full of really good stuff. And not to sound wild. But I can promise you that stuff is what you've had the most attack on in your life, and you probably don't even see it as your 'good stuff' - because the enemy wants to coat your calling in fear and lock you out of it with lies so you cannot possibly step into all its glory.

Imagine standing in front of a door. 

On the other side is the pulsing life and powerful calling God has created for you to step into.

But the door in front of you is covered in so many locks, it seems impossible to open it up.

Those locks are lies, those locks are fears. Which are also lies, because fear is a liar.

What lines have been pounded into your brain since you were young?

I say 'lines' because you might not even recognize them for what they really are

Which are, lies.

But they are. 

And I hope you know

The Enemy does not show mercy because of age.

He placed a bullseye on your life when it began, because God placed purpose over your life BEFORE it began.

So while you think of your stuck-on-repeat lines, I'll tell you a few of mine.

"You're so emotional."

"You're too sensitive."

"You're not good with words."

"That's not realistic."

Some of the biggest lines/lies that have taken home in my head and heart are that I'm TOO emotional, sensitive, and I feel too much - while simultaneously being inadequate at communicating those feelings. So I've spent most of my life trying to water-down those natural instincts - without realizing those were the very things God hand-crafted me to possess. 

I grew up with brothers, and quickly learned that if I wanted to be welcome around them and their friends, I had to leave my gentle pieces behind. So I trained myself to shut off parts of myself depending on who I was around. Laying down 'sensitive' and putting on the 'sarcastic and strong' when I needed to. Up until last year, I wouldn't easily let myself cry, because that came across as "too sensitive" and weak. I grew up as a dancer, and I think the reason I loved it SO much was because that was the only place where I could fully express everything I was feeling inside, and not be judged for it or feel like I was being "too much" because dance is entirely about expressing emotion. I'm not saying all this for pity's sake, I'm saying it to say - I know what it feels like to feel like you have to hide parts of who you are just to please other people - and I don't want you to feel like you have to live like that.

So now I'm looking at where I am. What I'm doing. And how now that I'm leaning into my sensitivity, being unafraid of depths, I feel strongest - and I feel able to be closer to others. Now that I've sorted out that gentle does not mean weak, or boring, or invisible, but it means a controlled strength. I'm able to thrive in that.

 If you've been keeping up with my posts, you might remember me talking about 2 particular weeks where God was "teaching me through tears." This process began after the most powerful revelation of God's love that I've experienced in life so far - and it was like that encounter unlocked me to feel more deeply than I've ever felt. He produced situations that set me up to experience the depths of joy and even the depths of sorrow. The depths of beauty, and even the depths of pain. I look back now and they seemed like emotional  training courses, pulling me closer to Him. God has been training me how to more usefully express, or translate my emotions - for the benefit of myself and others.

That's why I've been writing so much again. Writing songs (which, no, are not ready for your ears yet) is making ME understand different realities and how to interpret them more clearly - putting them to music, and enabling others to feel things too. And the poems and blog posts I write, they're not just to inspire you, but clarify things for myself too. Every little thing that makes me feel some sort of way - I now take the time to feel it, and write about it. From the little snips I put on my Instagram to these longer posts - I don't write them to seem like I have everything figured out. I write to HELP us all figure things out - and GET things out. I don't even post everything thing I write, but at least I'm getting them out. I'm an internal processor and my hard drive is honestly full. I've been hoarding emotions, and it's time to clean up my heart house. 

So the very qualities that have been under attack all my life - my sensitivity, emotional tendencies, and confidence about them - are the very things God placed in me to help me thrive for His glory in my calling.

Let's breakdown another lie:

"That's not realistic." 

One of my favorite lines, written by a dear friend Arielle, says, "I serve a God who does not care much about my 'logical'."

And it is SO true. Faith is NOT logical. It says in Hebrews 11, "Now FAITH is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." It would not seem LOGICAL if you were to walk into a coffee shop and see a man staring into thin air, exclaiming he was certain there was a giraffe in front of him. But yet, we are called to have assurance about what is not even in front of us yet. We are called to be the "crazy" ones.

Now, I don't think God wants us to pray for giraffes to appear in front of us, but I DO believe God WANTS us to dream big dreams, and give those dreams to Him to fulfill. As my pastor, Peter Haas, said last week - "God wants us to pray prayers that match HIS size" - which is LARGER THAN LIFE! 

So all you dreamers, it is a lie that you dream too big.

It is a gift - so just ask God how to unwrap it for His glory!

One last lie that deeply, deeply, embedded itself in me - probably one of the biggest 'lie locks' on my door - was "You're so selfish." Which is a hard lie lock, because at one point or another - it was in fact truth. But because of grace - even former truths are now lies in God's eyes because of Jesus. 

Someone - very close to me - told me this when I was a young teen (which is probably exactly what caused them to say it, let's be real) and it has stuck to me ever since. I spent years and years living in the lie that every move I made was endlessly selfish and the word 'confident' was replaced by 'prideful'.  For the longest time, I operated from this fearful, and broken reality, not seeing the new thing God was doing. I couldn't see that that former selfish part of my character had been washed in God's grace, or that my confidence was actually gifted to support my duty of being a leader. Blindness to grace left me paralyzed as I stepped back into leading worship again.

(looking back, leading worship is a part of my life that has been under attack since as long as I can remember - but that is also a sign that it is a true calling. The enemy won't attack something, or someone, unless he sees it as dangerous.)

I remember going up to a friend after church one day - just a few months ago - sobbing about how afraid I was to be leading worship again because I was continually paralyzed with the fear that it was only a matter of time before I fell back into selfishness and pride. It felt like vines were choking me. It made me believe the wildest things - like once when I accidentally sang a part someone else was assigned to sing, I immediately thought I was SO selfish for doing that and that person whose spot I ran over thought that too - WHEN THE ENTIRE THING WAS AN ACCIDENT AND THE OTHER PERSON HADN'T EVEN NOTICED. Satan had me so wrapped up in myself and my fears, that I wasn't able to flourish in a position God had hand-crafted for me. He later taught me that THAT is self-righteousness. Not necessarily being prideful about ourselves, but even dwelling on the BAD things about ourselves - because that means we aren't focused on Christ, His grace, or His power. We are only looking at ourselves and our lack.

Now all of this to say, this doesn't mean I haven't tripped into moments of selfishness or pride since then (hello human) but it means when I do fall, I am not stuck in that guilt hole. Being a leader, not just on stage, but in life, means I have to watch myself. But it also means I don't operate from the chained position of "I'm a selfish person." or any other negative claim. I operate from the liberating position of "I am redeemed." I'm now realizing, this whole time I was wrapped in fear of leading, I wasn't afraid of falling, I was afraid of STAYING DOWN when I fell. I wasn't understanding the grace that pulls us back up - one of the most basic principles of my faith. 

With all the help of the Holy Spirit, and none of my own, I came to realize that this role of leading (not just songs on a stage, but in life, with my words and actions) that I'm stepping into IS God's calling for me - but because Jesus steps with us into our calling, it's automatically dripping with God's grace. The old me is not allowed. Anything of our past, any fear, any lie, is simply not welcome once we walk through the door. That doesn't mean we're perfect on either side of the door. It simply means when we step into our calling, we're stepping into it dripping with grace. This grace we are already standing in right now - we get to take it with us wherever we go.

So what are your lie locks?

"You're not emotional." // "You're not smart enough." // "You were a mistake." // "You aren't a leader." // "You're too quiet" // "You're too loud" // "You're unwanted" // "You're not attractive" // "It's hard to understand you" // "You're not creative" //  "You're too much" // "You're not enough" 

If you don't know your lie locks ... ask God to draw them up inside of you, so that they may be drawn OUT.

So that your door may be unlocked, and you can step through it, dripping with grace and freedom, into your sacred, brilliant Kingdom purpose.  

Can you hear it? Can you feel the bass pulsing through your chest, as you wait in front of the door to your heavenly calling? I can feel it too. I feel like I'm feeling it for you. It's the beat of your favorite song pounding from the other side. It's the beat of your potential flourishing, the chorus of God's dreams for you coming true. Babe, I would throw this door wide open for you if I could - bust it right down if I had the power. 

But only God has the power to unlock these kind of locks. And He's just waiting for you to ask for the keys so we can get straight to dancing on the other side. 

 

 

 

 

 

to him, for you & me

Somehow you resurrected in my thoughts.

In all honesty 

I forgot you were alive until just tonight.

Not to be rude. 

Just to say

I erased you from my memory

so thoroughly.

I’m sorry. 

You just hurt me so strongly

without even laying a hand on me. 

Because I put so much hope

in something that was not even in front of me.

You were too far away to hold my body

so instead

you pulled out every last heart string.

I willingly let you unravel me

til I was beyond frayed.

 

When you told me every beautiful thing

that no one had ever said. 

You shouldn’t have.

Because I had not grown into enough of a woman 

to realize your sweet words wouldn’t satisfy me

and you had not grown into enough of a man

to realize your selfish love would leave me hurting

 

My father gently warned me

that you were not for me

But I screamed at him saying he did not understand 

When the one who didn’t understand was me.

 

So when it unfolded as he predicted 

I did not fight. I did not flee.

I buried. 

I buried you.

I buried me.

DEEPLY.

So deeply I forgot you existed. 

I forgot how I loved you.

But a latch has come undone

and the memories are flooding over me.

 

You were the first to call me babe.

You were the first to say beautiful things about me. 

You wrapped me in your assurance

You tied my name into your future

and promised to catch a plane just to see my face.

Because that was the thing.

You were not here next to me.

You were on the coast, across the country.

 

We started as convenient bliss

but passion made promises 

unable to be kept 

because of unhealed insecurity 

that lead straight into our heart-wreck

 

And suddenly. 

No more phone calls until 3am.

No more phone calls at all.

I can barely remember your voice.

But I remember ‘coffee dates’

Which was simply you sitting with your coffee somewhere across the country  

while I was sitting thousands of miles away with my cup of tea

as we talked to each others love-struck faces through our screens.

I remember phone calls in hotel stairwells.  

And parking lots.

Wherever I was

Wherever you were.

I would always pick up.

One Christmas I spent more time escaping to phone calls with you

than the people giving me love right there in the room. 

 

You cannot give me that time back.

And neither can I.

It was all your fault

And it was also all mine.

 

You were never here. 

But my heart had a way of tricking me

telling me

That was all I deserved.

I did not deserve a hand to hold

a chest to lean into

kind eyes to see all of me.

 

So I settled for an invisible love

that has shaped my mind and heart

to believe I don’t deserve the full

that I should be satisfied with just a part.

 

It turned from belief that I didn’t deserve ‘whole’

To belief that ‘whole’ love did not exist for me. 

That it will always be invisible. 

That there will never be a hand to hold

eyes to get lost in. 

or heartbeat to memorize. 

 

So now I can see

When I let boys close

I adapt the same habits

That you started in me.

I just feel what I feel

and don’t expect much in return.

 

You see

A boy will be standing in front of me 

And I will be loving him with all of my being 

while he is doing nothing to love me. 

Cause it feels as familiar as loving you 

from across the country. 

 

So I am brilliant at convincing myself

there are real things in front of me 

when actually there is nothing true to see.

 

This part of me is useful when God says 

not to see, but believe 

but when it comes to loving a man

It winds up hurting me.

 

So I am writing this to you

But I am not writing this for you

Because it does not matter 

if you ever read this. 

This is not an attempt at revival.

We’re still a book that will never have a sequel. 

Just one deeply lived story.

However short it was

I know it was lived to the depths.

 

But this re-telling of our story.

It is not for you

It is for the new hearts in front of me

reading this

needing this

It is for the new woman inside of me 

writing this 

finally seeing things.

 

May we learn from your ‘too little’

and my ‘too much’

May we learn from our youth

even though you were older than me.

We were both not old enough to see.

 

Thanks for letting me love 

You never stopped me from doing that 

You were practice, I see 

Now I will wait 

For the one who sees me. 

 

He will see me right in front of him 

not just through some screen. 

We’ll be able to sit across from each other 

sipping countless cups of tea.

or I guess he could like coffee.

 

He will have the hand I get to hold

The breath I need to borrow 

The eyes that tell me things his words cannot.

 

And I know I will want to be things for him 

that I never thought of being for you 

I will be his biggest cheerleader 

and his strongest teammate 

The one he wants to tell his sweetest victories

deepest wonderings 

strongest struggles 

and silliest joys to 

I’ll be the one he gets to chase Jesus with.

The one who will embrace his imperfections 

As he embraces mine. 

 

Because we will both see the other and just know

we

make

so 

much 

sense.

 

So thanks. 

And goodbye. 

I didn’t mean to wake you up.

You can go back to rest. 

No need to reply.

The Aisle

 
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I’ve been wondering 

As girls do

And I suppose boys too

 

But I’ve been wondering 

where

and who

and how is

you know…

the one that is my ‘to have and to hold’

 

I used to write a note to him

Whenever I thought of him 

This stranger

or unknowingly already a friend?

But now

I just talk to God about him

 

I praise God for whoever he is

How he loves God 

and how God loves him

 

I like to ask God:

Let him know I love him today

Let him know You love him too

Tell him You are for him

Tell him I am for him too

Would You give him a little note

telling him we’re thinking about him?

 

Because I feel like I am playing hide and seek

And me my Father are on a team

On our way to find this man

While he is on his way to find me

 

It is not a hurried game

And I am not hiding

It is not a hunt

We are joyful, and laughing

Me and my Father

Taking our time 

Even forgetting about the game

Getting lost in each other instead

 

And God gave me the sweetest image

Of himself, walking with me

Walking me to whoever this other man may be

Slowly. Tenderly.

As a father walks his daughter down the wedding aisle

Ceremonially slow.

At a speed you would never walk in life normally.

A sacred speed.

Savoring the steps.

Holding on to me. 

 

I feel like I’m walking down the aisle.

But this aisle is not short 

And this aisle is not straight

Yet I am grateful for its intricacies 

its purpose

its beauty

 

I have my Father

And He is walking with me

We are together

And I know when we reach the end of the aisle

My Father will not leave me

I do not know who is at the end of the aisle

But I know He will be 

 

It is the sweetest thing

knowing He’s in it for the long haul

He has always been in it for the long haul

He will always be my first love

How gracious that He would let another man step in to love me too

Yet I know my Father will always love me more

That I know

And that I’ll hold

 

How special The Aisle is

That the groom does not get to share it with me first

My Father does

Then once I reach the groom

We get to go back up the aisle

A place my Father has already been with me

 

So darling daughter of the Father

My sister 

You have an aisle to walk too

And your Father is right here

Walking it with you

If you want to know //

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If you want to know, I'll let you know:

I don't know all the things.

But I'll let you know the things I do.

 

If you want to know, I’ll let you know:

Everyone is not permitted admission to your heart.

You should love all.

But that is an outward flow. 

Do not allow whatever comes along the current to rush IN to your soul.

Do not let it be flooded by well-wishers in disguise.

Do not even let it be dripped on

By less than magnificent things.

Your heart. Your soul.

Is a sanctuary for the King of Kings.

Decorate it carefully

And dutifully

With wisdom

Patience

Truth

Honor

Humility

Purity

Peace

And other things that are fit

For the sanctuary of His spirit.

Then it will become so full

of His true treasures

That they'll turn into an outpouring current 

Which will be far stronger than anything  

That could try to come rush in against it.

 

If you want to know, I’ll let you know:

We were born broken.

We will feel broken.

But It is a lie that you must continue to live in that brokenness.

It is also a lie that you are the one who is supposed to get yourself out of it.

 

If you want to know, I’ll let you know:

We look for so many things to help us feel whole.

No matter what or who that is

It will not work.

It will not work.

It will not work.

It might work for a while.

But it will wear off

And wear us down all the more.

So ask your Father to piece together the brokenness

smooth out your rough edges

and fill in the cracks

the gaping caverns of your soul.

Even if someone else offers to hold your heart.

They simply will not be able to. 

Tell them no thank you, not yet.

And be wise enough

To let first, your Father alone

make you whole.

 

If you want to know, I’ll let you know:

Before you believe someone who says

"You are the most beautiful"

"You are more than enough"

"I never want to leave you"

"I don’t mind your brokenness" 

You must know it is your Creator who said those things first.

And we must not just know

But we MUST believe it with every ounce of our soul.

Because any other human

And their words

Can be taken away

But God

And His words

Cannot be.

 

If you want to know, I'll let you know:

I don't know all the things.

But I'll let you know the things I do.

 

Carrying Color

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I like to think there are outside colors and inside colors. 

But ultimately, I'm learning the inside colors bleed through.

My outside colors are often shades of neutrals. 

Not too bold or distracting.

And if you took a look inside of me

I would like to think my insides are a pulsing, vibrant, emerald.

I would also like to think that emerald is starting to seep its way out of me.

Someone once asked me to think of my favorite color. And why it was my favorite color.

She asked, "If this color was a person, what characteristics would this person have?"

I said gray.

I chose it for its adaptability. Its ability to be both soft and deep.

Gray felt so chill, easy-going.

That's who gray would be.

The girl who asked me the question then said, "The color you chose and why you chose it describes the qualities you see in yourself as a person."

Woah. 

I did see myself as those things.

I still do, in some ways.

But you see. I cheated a bit.

Gray is not really a color, but in fact a transitional 'color' between two nonexistent absences of color, black and white. 

So if you asked me my favorite color today

I would say green.

The shade would probably change day to day.

But EMERALD.

That is my shade today.

It is bold

deep

and vibrant.

Some days it might be sage green.

A gray-green.

It's softer

lighter

it whispers.

But overall, I would choose green.

For most of the same reasons I chose gray.

Green is still adaptable.

Green is still calming.

There is soft, and there is deep.

But there is something in green that is not in gray.

There is life. There is true color.

Pulsing, growing, thriving.

Sometimes quietly, sometimes boldly.

I like that.

What color are you carrying?

Maybe for you, that color isn't shades of green.

Maybe it is whispers of peach and rose

Maybe strong, reliable, comforting blues

Or deep, quietly emotive gradients found in a sunset.

What color are you carrying?

Whatever it is.

It looks so good on you. 

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Let's Talk Plants.

All I used to want in my world was black. white. gray. 

I was hesitant towards color. 

But last winter my soul got a paint job.

Things were lonely, dull, and dark to say the least.

I didn't know why back then, but I now know. 

I was craving real life. 

I remember sitting in my living room alone one morning, looking to a corner of it and thinking, "I want that corner to be a little jungle."

So I bought one small palm tree. 

It was refreshing. beautiful. comforting to care for, and exciting to watch grow. 

But I started craving more. More green. More life. 

Slowly but steadily I began ushering in the greens, and if you step into my home today, you won't see a jungle corner. You will be confronted by a welcoming committee of roughly 20 plants spread throughout my living room. There are a few more sprinkled into the dining and kitchen areas, then a second jungle once you reach my bedroom upstairs. In totality, I think I have almost 40 plants throughout the house.

To me, these plants are portable life. 

Plants are the physical "Bios" kind of life, one of the Greek words for 'Life' used in the bible. To me, this Bios life points back to Creator, which points straight to His "ZOE" life - which is the uncreated, eternal life of God! 

God created us that we may not just have ordinary life, but embrace His ZOE life! God BREATHED His ZOE life into Adam at creation, and although that buddy messed things up a bit, JESUS stepped in so we are able to embrace that true life again! 

1 Peter 1:23 says "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of IMPERISHABLE, through the LIVING and enduring word of God." 

By us embracing HIS life, He becomes our REAL LIFE - and we can express Him through our living! 

He has colored my world with the most brilliant greens. 

He has colored my world with LIFE.

Once you let Him in ... once you let LIFE in,

You might start with one baby palm tree in the corner of you living room.

But then you will soon see 15, 20, 30 plants and counting. 

You will have a corner of life

Then a room of life

Then that life spills into your other rooms 

And soon enough

You will be hand-delivering that life to others outside your home!

In the past two weeks, I've given away two of my plants to friends because my heart wanted to give them a dose of life. A dose of freshness, and physical reminder to the spiritual LIFE God has in abundance for us to embrace. And just this weekend, I bought a gang of seven plants for my best friend's new apartment, because I SO VERY MUCH want it to be a place of LIFE for her. It was wonderful, even as we were buying the plants and I explained to the cashier they were for Kaylie she exclaimed, "Well! What a perfect gift! The gift of LIFE!"

I'm not talking about plants anymore, I'm talking about TRUE LIFE from God.

We are not called to keep this LIFE to ourselves!

Live YOUR life to show HIS life, because there is vivid color God longs to bring to others through you.  

Carry life. Carry it so obviously that people will ask where you got it.

And you can point to the ultimate Gardener.

He is the gardener of my soul!

Wow.

He wants to be the gardener of YOUR soul. 

He wants to plant in you His life, and watch you TRULY flourish.

Our God does not leave us to be lost in a forest.

Seed by seed, our desire for real life with Him creates a beautiful jungle IN us - that we might not be lost in it, but found, familiar, and HOME there with Him. 

Stephany By Design

Styled portrait session with Stephanie Shoemaker

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He's in the waiting

I wanted to write this post because I feel like a lot of the people who speak about patience and waiting are the ones who are on the "other side" - and have received what they were told to wait for. When it comes to relationships, there's the hip and happily married girl who's telling you - just wait! Have hope! You're going to find YOUR GUY! (Easy for her to say now that she's got him, right?!) Discouragement and comparison just sneak their way in!

But I'm hoping that because of my position of being smack dab in the midst of waiting, I can be a relatable source to where you're at and what you're going through in the realm of patience with a world telling you that everything you want can be yours NOW. Note: this can totally apply to more than just a future spouse - maybe you're waiting for your dream job, to receive your calling from God, or maybe it's something else! For a second I thought maybe I shouldn't write this, maybe I don't have as much validity as someone who's "made it" to the "other side" - but nope. Those are lies.  And there is so much value from what is found in the waiting. In your patience. The seeds that are sown and grown before a harvest.

Now, you may or may not know how much I love a good analogy. And I believe one of the ways God speaks to me is through spiritual analogies, real-time parables, if you will. He orchestrates somewhat of a production to get his point across to me. So, the following is just that - setting the scene at Joshua Tree National Park in California. 

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I was recently visiting my old roommate in Arizona, and on the third day of being out there, I felt all this creative energy built up in me that I wanted to release into a desert-inspired photoshoot. (Hi, I'm from the midwest, this is a really exciting endeavor for me.) So I showed Kaylie some image examples of environments I wanted to shoot in, and she, having already been to Joshua Tree before, recommended we take a trip there to accomplish what my heart was itching to capture. 

So great! We set out - and after a few hours of driving and a pit stop at In-N-Out (talk about the best kinda DAILY BREAD, am I right?) we reached the sign "WELCOME TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK!" We were in! ...Or so I thought?

Now at this point, I was the one driving the car because we had switched positions at our last pit-stop, so it was me - girl who had never been here before - who was in charge of directing the journey for the time being. We drove on the main road without saying anything for a good couple minutes - my eyes darting from side to side at the landscape around me. It looked pretty good! Your typical "can't find this is the midwest" desert scenery. So after a bit, I proceeded to ask Kaylie, "So...do I just pull over kinda anywhere, or do I wait for a parking area or, how do we do this?" to which she replied, "Oh! We're not even really in the park yet! We should just keep going." Which sparked confusion in me because we had FOR SURE passed the WELCOME TO JOSHUA TREE sign a good couple miles back. But okay! I kept driving.

The following is the raw and naked example of my lack of patience, which was startling for even me to experience. What felt like driving for 20 minutes was probably not even 5, and I found myself asking Kaylie, "Are you SURE we shouldn't be stopping? I'm definitely seeing some scenery I'd love to have in a photo. I feel like we're missing things!" to which she would replied "I'm sure! The good stuff, the stuff you showed me you were wanting, is way further into the park. I promise!" The rational fact that she had been through this entire park before was nowhere to be found in my mind. I was so concerned on what I might be missing out on. 

Also, being the driver of the car was NOT helping. Keeping my foot on the gas and hands clutched to the wheel when everything in my being said LOOK! STOP THERE! PULL OVER! - it was a tormenting self-control exercise. Driving by the things I thought would look great. The things I thought I wanted. But I was (ever so thinly) trusting in Kaylie's word. 

Finally - after about 15 minutes and a 4th round of "Are you sure?" "I'm sure" back and forth between me and Kaylie, I had us pull over. Just to get some peace. 

But once we got out of the car we started snapping some photos, I realized this wasn't actually what I wanted. It had all looked okay when zooming through the road, but standing here, these pictures were quite flat and uninteresting. 

So we got back into the car, and I had Kaylie get back behind the wheel. It took SO much pressure off of me. The voices inside that said "STOP HERE - LOOK THERE" were silenced as I wasn't the one in control anymore. There was a new driver to get us where we were going. One who knew where to go, and even more, knew what I was looking for even when I had not seen it myself, but merely showed her what I wanted. 

The next place we stopped was GREAT. It had aspects that I didn't even know I was looking for, full of the most interesting looking cacti and gentle hills  in the background. We had a good time capturing each other in this environment. But eventually, we knew we needed to move on, and there was more in store. 

Now, something I failed to mention before was how we had each brought 3 different outfits to take photos in while going through the park and its various scenery. And If you're REALLY paying attention, you'll remembered we've made two stops. That means two outfits, and one more to go. 

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So we got back into the car, encouraged from that good stop, but ready to push forward onto what was to come. From the beginning, because of the reference photo I had shown Kaylie, she knew I wanted the environment to have massive boulders that we could post up next to and make all my desert Vogue dreams come true. Yup. I said it. Desert Vogue dreams I didn't even know I had. 

As we were driving along Kaylie pointed out, "Look! Up ahead! There are the boulders! Do you see them?" I looked to where she was pointing and realized 2 things. 

1. I could see them, I knew they existed, but they seemed SO. FAR. AWAY!

2. Because we were 'so far away' they didn't really catch my eye because they looked like a very small pile.

But the question was, "Do you see them?" So. My answer was. "Yes!" They indeed existed.

We kept driving, and after a few miles and bends in the road later, I knew we had gotten to where we were supposed to be. I saw the whole picture. It was not a small pile of boulders, but massive rocks surrounding both sides of the road, with cacti and green palms mixed in to the terrain. It was all the things I had gotten glimpses of before, and EVEN MORE. My excitement was SKY HIGH. We pulled into a parking area and I proceeded to whip out my last - and FAVORITE - outfit. I distinctly remember confirming with Kaylie, "So we're SURE. This is the final stop. This is best? This is the place where I'm gonna be using my favorite outfit." And Kaylie replied, "Yes. This is it. We're almost at the end of the park." 

And that was all the assurance I needed as I went into the car to start changing my outfit. 

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The air felt different at this last location. A cool breeze had picked up, and even though we were hanging out in the desert while it was pushing over 100 degrees...it was not at all miserable. The entire time we were exploring it was blissful and freeing. This final environment paired with my favorite outfit caused me to loosen up the most - my confidence kicked in as I leaned into the boulders like old friends. The best was truly saved for last, and these were BY FAR my favorite photos of the day.

All this to say, I feel like what the Lord was trying to teach me through all of this was to trust His leading and timing. In the same way that Kaylie had been to Joshua Tree and was guiding the trip, God already knows every road and bend in my life while I'm just driving though it for the first time. It feels better and is easier to be patient when we get out of the drivers seat and let Him take us through. Because of free will, we're able to stop where we think looks good, but He'll always call us back to the promise that He has the best in store for us. When we think we know what we want the 'picture' to look like, He is gently smiling, knowing how wide our eyes will get and how much our hearts will swell when we reach what He has for us.

This lesson at Joshua Tree just snapped me back into purpose and patience. I know God has given me this gift of singleness right now. I know there are so many things I want to grow more deeply in to become more whole before I can find a man who is also whole. Not perfect. But whole, and ready. 

That's something else the Lord taught me this week. Don't look for your better half, just look for another whole person. And make sure you are whole yourself. Do not strive for perfection, but for WHOLENESS. Being READY. Athletes don't go into the game with an injury. Don't rush into a situation you aren't healthy enough to handle yet, or that wound/sickness is just going to get worse.

Trust God. Grow in Him. He will not let you miss what He has for you, and you will certainly not miss it if you are constantly in communication and oneness with the Creator of your soul. He is a good Father who gives good gifts, and He waits until we are ready to receive them because a part of His goodness is His timing. So hop into the passenger seat and trust the One who was, who is, and is to come. 

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Woman, where are they?

    Just this past week, God put a story from the Bible on my heart. It’s one I’ve definitely heard before, but I never searched much further into. Found in John 8, it tells about a woman caught in adultery who was then brought in by the Pharisees before Jesus and a crowd in the temple. The Pharisees were completely shaming her and were ready to stone her for what she had done, as was the penalty for breaking the sacred law taught by Moses. They asked Jesus what He thought should be done to her - thinking they could trick Him. But the truth they didn’t see was that Jesus came to refresh the law with grace. And that’s exactly what this story shows. 

    Jesus answers the pharisees in verse seven, saying, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    This was an amazing answer, and one that turned the tables on the Pharisees, making them look completely foolish. Because even though they were seen as holy teachers of the law, none of them could honestly say they’d never sinned. Jesus was just kind of saying… come off your high horses, guys!

    So after the Pharisees left, more frustrated and embarrassed than they thought they would be, Jesus asks the woman, (v.10) “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” to which she replies, “No one, sir” (v.11). And the statement that follows next is what hit me in a new way as God refreshed this truth for me. Jesus says, “Then neither do I condemn you.” He not only says it, but declares it. The voices she heard condemning her were gone. And Jesus' voice was a sweet sound of protection and grace. 

    In this story, it was revealed to me that the Pharisees are a lot like the voices of the world. There are so many voices who make it their duty to shame you, or confuse you about how you should see yourself. They are quick to put you on trial, and give you disqualifications that say, “You shouldn't even be living!”.  I think it's also worth noting in the story that after Jesus challenges them, saying the one without sin should cast the first stone, they didn’t all leave at once. It says in verse nine, “At this, those who had heard began to go away, one at a time, the older ones first.” THE OLDER ONES FIRST. Why is that? I believe it's because there is such an epidemic of PRIDE, especially in younger hearts. As the oldest ones were the first to back down, it was harder for the younger ones to grasp… Woah… maybe I’m not on the right track. Maybe I don’t know everything there is to know. Maybe there’s some truth in this grace replacing condemnation. It was harder for them to set down their stones of pride and know-it-all-ness. And I can say young hearts struggle with pride, because I am a twenty one year old woman myself. I'm a young heart who has had to lay my pride before God.  I'm not saying this to provide a label or excuse for people to hold to, but calling it to attention as something we should be aware of and intentional about combatting. 

    And maybe just as the pharisees brought this woman to trial, even YOU feel quick to put yourself on trial for some things, letting past shame or mistakes cling to you. But Jesus enters in to say that He has gotten rid of all that. Because He is here to shower us in forgiveness, grace, and newness. Jesus calls off the world. Jesus disqualifies their claims. He says - who are they to accuse you? And that leaves you the space to life your eyes… and realize no one is condemning you for your past anymore. Not even Jesus. He calls off your condemners. Leaving you forgiven and free, with a chance to walk into new life.

    I’ve been so grateful for the refreshing reminder of this story last week, and just this morning I was listening to a sermon, when a little bit into it, the pastor started talking about this EXACT same story. So that’s what prompted me to write all this. This pastor addresses so many other good points and goes a bit more into the mysterious part of the story where Jesus is on the ground writing in the dirt with his finger. I’ve included the link to that message bellow, which I think could be so eye-opening and freeing for so many others, as it was for me. 

https://youtu.be/treNkfcbaSU

Blessings as you go forward, forgiven and free ~

// Zoey Jean 

photos by Max 

photos by Max 

To be with Him is to be home

We can only run so far 

So fast 

So hard

Before we find ourselves

Stumbling down

To our knees

 

We can only run

So far

So fast

So hard

Before a part of us

Quietly begs 

To go back home. 

 

You will find yourself tired

thirsty 

dry

and empty. 

 

You will find yourself walking

then wandering

then jogging

And finally sprinting in circles 

Thinking you can run your way out of them

 

Run your way out of 'lost'

Run your way out of 'tired'

Run your way out of 'broken'

Run your way out of 'lonely'

 

But human.

You and I 

Are not built 

To run like this

 

Human.

You and I 

Are not built to last

Too long on our own

 

No

We are meant to have a home.

 

If you know anyone best,

It is surely yourself. 

So you will know the moment

When together your mind and body will heave,

"We are done.

We are tired.

We are lost."

 

You will hear yourself say  

"I remember this place 

Where I could rest not just my head

But my whole body

My soul

My being 

And it was called Home."

 

 

I am not talking about your home

Geographically 

I am not talking about your home

Logically 

 

No, I'm speaking 

Of another Being 

Who is our home

Who created our beings

And left a bit of himself

Inside us

So we will always know

The way back home

 

 

Paige Culley

Here are some shots from my recent portrait session with Paige! It was non-stop raining this whole day, but she was a champ and wanted to shoot anyway! I'm so grateful for her willing spirit and good energy! Such a cool human! 

If you're interested in booking your own portrait session like Paige's, email zoeyjeanphoto@gmail.com // 

Bryce + Hailey in MPLS

Recently, my friends Bryce and Hailey (+ Hailey's brother Wes!) came to visit Minneapolis! I had the best time hosting them and taking them around my city for the two days they were here. It's so sweet when friends are visiting, because it makes me think outside the box of my day-to-day patterns, and come up with fun things for us to do - like going to the Foshay tower downtown! Bryce & Hailey love creating and capturing with cameras like I do, and the city scenery made for some particularly rad shots! I even played around with some double exposure techniques to mix things up.

Enjoy the shots - and go explore your own city! 

the gentle things

Lately 

I’m being intrigued by the delicate. 

Drawn to the meek things. 

 

The sweet whispers.

The small notables. 

Honest moments.

Soft spaces.

 

I’m being intrigued.

Because I have a growing desire to be gentler 

In a world that is telling me I must always speak up, speak out

and stand for something. 

Right now, I am standing for the gentler things. 

As I am learning that gentle does not mean weak

or boring

or invisible

But it means a controlled strength. 

The art of undeniably being

 unapologetically feeling

fully knowing the power behind who I am as a created woman

without forcing it on anyone else. 

 

A moment ago I glanced out my front window

caught my reflection

and thought about what someone would see if they peeked into my home, with the most innocent of curiosities. 

 

They would have seen me. 

Blissfully alone at my dining room table

Eating my favorite vegetables that I just cooked up for dinner. 

Staring out into my living room

Blankets thrown across the couch from my afternoon nap.

Further into my kitchen they would see a sink full of dishes I had to take care of later.

If they stuck around they might even witness me singing my heart out over the volume of the rushing water and banging of bowls and pans as I cleaned.

I hope they would have seen that I was not lonely.

But maybe they would not.

Maybe I would be the only one to know how much these simple, comforting, routine moments meant to me.   

And maybe that’s alright.

 

Because I’ve learned to love this space I’m in.

This space of coming down from my tower. 

The tower that I stood on top of, shouting to let other people know who I am.

You see, I wasn’t asking people to tell me who I am. 

No, I was sure of who I was.

But why did I so desperately want everyone else to know too?

Why is it not enough for me and my Father to know.

Why was I trying so very hard to let people know 

WHO i was

Instead of Whose? 

 

I am learning. 

I am learning to only shout for things worth the volume. 

And I am learning the value of a whisper. 

The sweet intimacy of soft spoken words. 

 

So I am being intrigued. 

By gentle.

Quiet.

And meek things.

 

Because I believe I have a heavenly Father who is waiting to give me much.

But how can He 

when I have already packed myself with so much, ‘much’?

Like a child trying to stick all she can on a piece of paper covered in glue

when there is simply no more room to adhere the feathers and beads.

That is me. 

The little girl who wants every sparkling, colorful, pin and ponytail in her hair. 

But who I am learning to be

is the little girl who just wants her daddy to braid her hair. 

To set aside my sparkles and clips.

To sit nicely. 

And have Him do something that I am just too small to do on my own.

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I am falling in love with being small. 

Embracing the delicacies.

Collecting the gentle things. 

So that there is all the more room for Him.

And others.

And for my smallness to be able to fit just perfectly 

Wherever it might need to be. 

// all photos styled & shot by Zoey Jean // 

New truths, new hopes : 2017

Just yesterday I was asked if I wanted to go on an inexpensive trip to Ireland (that departed in less than 24 hours) and part of me immediately jumped at the situation, saying YES and not caring about the outcome. Not caring about the details. Not thinking about how it might affect my photo projects, or bank account for that matter. I did this before with a trip to San Diego, and everything was great! I knew that I was built for situations like this.

But then I did something I admittedly don’t do as often as I should. 

I asked God to reveal what answer was the best. Which answer was more wise.

And over the next few hours of my day I didn’t FEEL like I should be going there. He was gently telling me the answer was no. I didn’t need to go on this trip. Because I felt like my reason for going there was to show other people that I am the person that says YES. That I am the person who welcomes the unknown and figures out life as she goes along. Which - I am! But why was I trying so hard to prove what I already knew to be true about myself? 

Denying that chance to go to Ireland didn’t seem like a big deal, but honestly… it was a pivotal moment. I know I would’ve looked so fun, cool, and carefree running off to Ireland for New Years on a whim. And I do believe I am those things. It's not bad to think you're fun, cool, or carefree. But. Suddenly… I don’t feel the need to prove that to anyone anymore. I know who I am. But I don’t need to try so hard to let everyone else know too. And I can say I’m perfectly happy about that. 

That is a truth I want to stand in for the new year. That I know who I am, and who I want to be, and I should spend less time letting other people know what that is, and more time just BEING that, and being open to becoming even more. 

I want to leave you with my hopes for 2017, even though they’re just a handful. I’m leaving plenty of room for surprises. 

HOPE: “The feeling that what is wanted can be had.”    

I hope to get more tattoos created by my friends.

I hope to go places that I want to go, not so that other people can see that I went, but so that my heart and mind can grow to be even more beautiful because of it. 

I hope to fervently serve others 

I hope my heart gets stretch marks from all the right kinds of loving

I hope this new year is a little (lot) less about me. 

I hope to become more gentle, but never lose my spunk; to be undeniably dedicated to the cause of spreading Light into the world through the way I live my life.

The Kinda Tour - Minneapolis

Last night (11.5.16) I had the insane opportunity to photograph my favorite band LANY at Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis, MN //

This was so special, being able to channel my passion of photography towards a band that means so much to me. The experience was all so brilliant - taking the familiarity of operating a camera and combining it with the flow of knowing every word to their songs and being able to enjoy each moment while documenting it was truly special.

Oh and Halsey made a surprise appearance at the end and sang ILYSB with the boys. It was a dream land. Trying to imagine any concert that could top this experience.

Enjoy the shots. And go tell LANY I'll be their next tour photographer //  

- Z 

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* "Hella Obsessed" hand lettering by Emily Poulin 

 

 

Whale Talk

I think sometimes we need to feel like we’re surrounded by life in order to live more. It makes sense. Even as an introvert - I find myself waking up and having days where I need to go out and be surrounded by other people, even if it’s just the bustle of a coffee shop. Even if no one is talking to me. Even if I’m not working my brains out, editing photos or answering emails. Just to be in a space where energy is flowing - THAT is life-giving. 

 

I am confident that no other female on the planet would like to make the following analogy towards themselves - but I’m gonna say it …

 

I feel like a beached whale.

 

Not in a “Wow why don’t these jeans fit me like they used to” way, or “Oops can’t wear crop tops this season” feeling … I literally feel out of my element. Stuck on the beach. Out of my ocean. So close to it… right next to it… but unable to get back into the flow of its life-giving energy. 

 

I feel like I’m spread out, laying on a beach - and not in a vacation sort of way. In a beached whale sort of way. If you didn’t know, a beached whale is usually dying or already dead.

 

Not exaclty California dreamin'.

 

*Please note, I’m talking about my dead energy, muted emotions … I have a good quality of life, and this is in no way me hinting into wanting to end my physical life.* 

 

So. 

 

Would I rather be where I’m at, immobile on this ‘beach’ instead of being over my head and drowning? 

 

This whole whale analogy made me quickly realize I didn’t have much knowledge on whales, and prompted me to hit up Google to type in questions like, “can whales drown?” and “why do whales beach themselves?” 

 

I really hope the guy sitting next to me at this coffee shop isn't glancing over my computer as my eyes pour into articles on the most morbid times of a whale’s life. Sorry dude. Google is my college. It’s where you get to learn about anything you want, exactly when you want, FOR FREE. Move over. 

 

Anyway. 

 

It brought to my attention that whales can in fact drown. They’re mammals after all. They don’t breathe underwater, Zoey. They live underwater, but they NEED to come up for air. Therefore they can drown by holding their breath for too long, or getting water in their blowhole. 

 

Then. They can beach themselves for a list of various reasons - it can be intentional or not. But. The fact is they are already dead or dying when they do so. 

 

Yikes. This blog has turned from educational to morbid in one foul swoop, and I’m becoming very self-conscious of the fact that I am sitting in a coffee shop writing a piece about whales and how I can very much relate to them.

 

With all that being said … to answer my question above: “Would I rather be where I’m at, this idle “beached whale” or … this struggling drowning, “didn’t pay attention to how long I was diving, now I’m drowning” whale?

 

My answer:

 

I want to be a happy whale. I want to be a normal whale! I want to be a whale that is IN its element. Swimming in my ocean, chillin’ with my pod. 

 

KEEP WITH ME ON THIS WHALE THING. 

 

I think we forget that option. You can be a normal whale. A really cool, mighty, graceful, freaking WHALE. (Person). 

 

So watch out. Don’t stay underwater too long. Don’t dive down too deep that you forget to come up and breathe! 

 

And beware of the beach. One of the reasons whales beach themselves is because they get confused or misinformed, and all of a sudden the water is too shallow and they get stuck on the beach and can’t get back in the ocean. 

 

Find your flow. Don’t get too shallow. Don’t get stuck in the depths. Come up to breathe! Find your pod. Slap your tail on top of the water when there’s danger. (okay, too far?) 

 

Thanks for reading about me and whales. I think it’s helping me get off this beach and back into the ocean. Which is the difference between us and whales. We have legs. We can dive back in. 

 

Go get ‘em tiger! (err…. whale?) Person. We are people. Be a cool, mighty, graceful, person. YOU. 

Pink, White & Blue .

Excited for my photos to be a part of Greta's branding process as she begins a new singer/songwriter career. This shoot was a combination of the softest colors and a touch of tomboy. 

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Northern Minnesota Roadtrip

Just a week ago, a group of friends - old and new ones - all jumped into cars and made our way up to Palisade Head in northern Minnesota. The purpose was for an H Influencer Meet-Up, but ultimately, it was just a time to be with friends, experience life together, and get our hearts & minds stirred up in all the creative opportunities in front of us that day. 

Here's a look at the photos I captured throughout the day: