there ARE such things as stupid questions.

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there ARE such things as stupid questions.

Y’all.

I love love LOVE learning what people have learned in their years of life. It’s just incredible how different (yet similar somehow) that people’s stories are. It makes me want to ask literally every single human to tell me what their life take-aways are. I think maybe I just might…

Today’s wisdom comes to you from Ashley Boyd, the sister of Brent (my brother in-soul-law) and a third of the #NYEinNYC trio. Ashley is a complete and total adventurer. She has traveled the world wide, and when Rach and I asked if she wanted in on NYC, she said yes within minutes of us asking. #ADVENTURER

I’ve known Ashley for about as I’ve known her brother and if I know one thing about her, it’s that she’s loves her family, and she loves her friends. Okay, that’s two things. Ashley’s lessons learned are such a great reminder to me that relationships matter, and they matter infinitely. And on a less infinite yet very practical sense, so does getting my oil changed.

1. Live loved. Fight to receive love, it's different and often harder than giving love. 

2. Laughter is truly and hugely important. 

3. There ARE such things as stupid questions, and in some cases you shouldn't ask them. 

4. On the flip side, asking good questions is an art form. (My closest friends ask the best questions). 

5. Moving your body will always make you feel better, especially when all you want to do is take a nap. 

6. Genuinely, the joy of the Lord is my strength. 

7. Comparison actually is the thief of joy. 

8. ALWAYS put your phone down at dinner, even when eating by yourself. 

9. Don't start dating someone during your first semester of college. 

10. It's ok, to not be OK. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to feel. 

11. Basing decisions solely off feelings is not always wise. Facts matter. 

12. Being intentional with friends and/or strangers is ALWAYS worth it, even if it feels exhausting. 

13. Be well prepared for EVERY interview. 

14. People do strange things. 

15. Worship unashamedly. 

16. It's crucial to forever remain teachable. 

17. Handwritten thank you notes are extremely powerful. 

17. Fight long and hard for important relationships. 

18. Pain is never meaningless. 

19. Time heals, but God both heals and restores. 

20. Harboring anger or unforgiveness is exhausting. 

21. Heartache is a horrible kind of pain. Sometimes the simple acknowledgment from others that heartache sucks, is all that is needed. 

22. Travel when possible. Getting to know the locals and their culture is one of the greatest gifts in traveling. 

23. Getting your oil changed in time matters. 

24. Traveling long distances to see loved ones is worth the sacrifices made to get there. 

25. Your body actually starts to hurt more, the older you get. Adults weren't lying! 

PS. The pic above is of Ashley, the horse whisperer, working out at a ranch in Colorado. No big.

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complaining is the adult version of whining.

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complaining is the adult version of whining.

You know that expression ‘strike while the iron is hot?’

Well I’ve done exactly the opposite of that.

I have officially failed at writing about my New Year’s Eve trip to NYC. Which is such a dang shame because the trip was da boooomb dot coooom. Life just got so busy, you know? If you were really invested in my soiree in NYC and waiting for the second installment with bated breathe (which I know undoubtedly describes all four of you out there that read my blog), there’s a small chance there might be two more posts about NYC coming your way - I asked Rach and Ashley to each write a little diddy about our trip. But I’ll be honest, it isn’t looking too hopeful. What can I say, 2016 just kicked right on off.

Since writing about NYC has been a total bust thus far (here’s a one word recap in case I never mention it again: itwasamaaaaaaazing), I’ve been real laissez faire about writing anything. But I decided tonight, that’s just lame of me. I said I was going to write about my trip, I didn’t (which once again serves to remind me of my life lesson number 19: underpromise and overdeliver), but that doesn’t mean I should just up and stop writing altogether. So all that to say, the NYC ship has sailed, but the what-life-lessons-have-you-learned-throughout-your-life ship is pretty firmly anchored at port. 

Allow me to introduce you to Brent. 

Brent’s married to my sister Rachael (okay, we’re not biological sisters for you fact checkers out there, but we may as well be). By the way, Brent is married to the NYC Rachael, not the previously blogged about Supper Club, is as young as she’ll ever be Rachael. Common mistake though. So since Rachael is my sister, Brent is in effect like my brother (in technical terms I think the husband of your soul sister may be your brother in-soul-law? I'm not sure). Anyway, you get the point. We’re close. In fact, the three of us call ourselves The Three Philosophers. We love to philosophize in our free time. So for example one of us (Brent) will casually send the group a text in the middle of an average day and ask some sort of weighty, insanswerable question like is healthcare a right or a privilege? See I told you, just a couple of everyday philosophers, the three of us. Since we philosophize on the reg, it came as no shock to me that many of Brent's life lessons are rather deep and philosophical in nature. All of a sudden I'm questioning what the word 'philosophy' even means. I'm going to Google it. Alright, I'm back.

Below are the 27 things Brent has learned in his 27 years of life on planet earth. I think I love all of these. Expect, of course, for number 22 which I'm ethically opposed to because you know, animal rights:)

  1. No one can predict the future.
  2. The world is driven by money.
  3. You can’t change someone if they don’t want to change themselves. But you can set boundaries.
  4. Politics can easily become people's religion - the means by which they, their loved ones, and their country will be “saved." 
  5. No worldview is without questions it can't answer.
  6. Don't put anyone on a pedestal - you will be disappointed.
  7. It takes a ton of hard work to be great at anything.
  8. You can love someone and disagree with them, even if the world says you can’t. 
  9. Two wrongs don't make a right.
  10. Practicing for five minutes a day will take you farther than you think.
  11. It's way harder to do the right thing.
  12. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's right.
  13. Fads determine a lot of our beliefs, opinions, and tastes.
  14. I value stability and consistency.
  15. Brokenness in families is the rule not the exception.
  16. Teaching a man to fish is better than giving a man a fish, but it is much harder for both parties involved.
  17. People say things on the Internet they wouldn't say in person.
  18. Complaining is the adult version of whining. 
  19. It's easy to drift towards bitterness. Joy takes effort.
  20. Don't bottle things up. Talk.
  21. Don't take yourself too seriously. 
  22. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
  23. Sometimes you gotta go all in or you will get hurt (like when doing a back flip or asking a girl out).
  24. Today's "insurmountable" problems are often forgotten tomorrow.
  25. Science is the best explanation of our natural world that we have at the present time. It is ever-changing and often incomplete. 
  26. Differentiating facts and opinions is an important yet often neglected skill.
  27. Everyone wants to dance, some are just scared to.

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i'm as young as i'll ever be.

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i'm as young as i'll ever be.

Remember how a few days ago I made the claim that I was going to write fourteen posts about my trip to NYC? Well, exhaustion has finally caught up with me and the only thing I really want to be doing is snuggling up under my puffy white comforter and sleeping until the weather is warm again. So until I’ve caught up on some shut eye (I know you don’t ever technically catch up on sleep) and have something to say other than 'I'm sooo sleepyyyy', I’m going to defer to my friends and share some of the things they've learned in their lives so far. 

So without much preamble, here is the second installment of one of my favorite things I’ve ever asked people: what have you learned in your (fill in the blank with your current age) years of life? Here are the 29 things my dear friend Rachael has learned in her 29 years of life. She’s learned some good stuff, y’all. Number 28 is pure gold. And so is number 20.

(PS. It’s so incredibly interesting to me to see what each person finds remarkable and worth noting based on their own individual journeys through life. It’s such a testament to how incredibly unique and rich each of us are as humans).

1. Speeding tickets and car accidents aren't as huge of a deal as I think. If I’m safe, it will be okay. 

2. Wear sunscreen, and don't go tanning.

3. It’s sometimes better to hold my tongue than to tell my mom what I'm really thinking and my husband sometimes, too.

4. Reading is fun.

5. Commit to friendships.

6. It’s cool to follow your morals.

7. It’s okay to say “no.”

8. It’s okay to say "yes" and get pulled outside your comfort zone.

9. I am valuable.

10. Timing is important, and things will work out (like singleness, getting married, having kids…).

11. When a hurricane comes, don't freak out.

12. Moments are more valuable than things.

13. Be present!

14. Exercise so you can eat what you want.

15. Zits are no big deal.

16. Be open to other cultures by forming relationships.

17. Daddy’s are the best, and I'm so thankful for hugs I get from mine and the time I get to talk to him and be heard.

18. Water is healing.

19. God never leaves my side.

20. It’s okay to be wrong.

21. I will make mistakes.

22. Generosity is something that's hard for me that I want to get better at.

23. Community is freakin’ important.

24. Don’t be scared of change.

25. It’s good to be patient, and give things time.

26. Stop and smell the roses.

27. Pursue what's important.

28. How ever old I think I'm getting, I'm as young as I'll ever be.

29. Live with gratitude (Kac helped me learn that!).

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stephen + kaycee  |  the raleigh rose garden  |  raleigh, nc.

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stephen + kaycee | the raleigh rose garden | raleigh, nc.

In 2012, I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina (undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets of a city in the entire U.S. of A) to be a part of the Raleigh Fellows Program. The Fellows Program is a nine month, post-graduate fellowship that intersects life, work, and faith in an initiative to set a solid foundation for post-grads before they transition into the workforce. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always had a hard time explaining the Fellows Program to people. It just feels like one of those things that you have to experience to understand. Which I recognize is pretty much anything in life slash just a really unhelpful thing to say to the 99.99999% of the world that hasn’t been a Raleigh Fellow. So my apologies for that crappy and vague summary. But my real point is to tell you about the people I shared those nine months with, the nine other hilarious, intelligent, spunky, ambitious, maturing, unique, sassy, God-loving twenty somethings that all somehow ended up being Fellows in Raleigh at the same time as me.

Sweet Kayc was one of those nine people.

To say the ten of us were a motley crew would be an understatement; our director dubbed our Fellows class as ‘Rocky Road’ if we were to be an ice cream flavor. (I think the previous classes were vanilla bean and other equally benign flavors). As a collective, we were chaos in the best - and sometimes worst - of ways. And I sure brought my fair share of mess to the group. I was in the weirdest place emotionally and internally than I think I have ever been in my entire adult life.  I was coming off a reallyyyy tumultuous year when I moved to Raleigh, and I just felt so far from myself. In fact, I remember not being sure I knew what it even meant to be myself anymore.

Turns out, lots of us were messes in lots of different ways that year. But something that is very true of us ten - that I can now say being three+ years out - is that the Lord has been so very faithful to grow each of us. We were a messy class, but one full of grace. It’s so neat to think back to our year and to see how far we’ve each come and the sweet changes and blessings in all our lives. Five of us are married (Kayc is up next!), one of us is plowing their way through med school, one of us is about to graduate as a registered dietitian before potentially moving to Belize, two of us (that happened to marry each other!) are in seminary in Canada, another one of us is adventuring through life in the great northwest, yet another is working for a college ministry in D.C. It’s crazy that for nine months the ten of us were pretty inseparable (not always by choice) and now we’re scattered all over, but our lives forever changed because of those nine months we spent living life together. People change us. I’m convinced of that more than I’m convinced of most things. And though I don’t spend my day-to-day (or even month-to-month or year-to-year) with the Fellows anymore, their impact on me is forever a part of who I am, it's in my DNA now. My year in Raleigh has forever changed my story. And for some of us, the day-to-day impacts of that year are more obvious than for others. 

Like for Kayc, who met her fiance Stephen during our Fellows year. These two have been dating since the end of our Fellows year in 2013 and are getting married in just a few weeks! BAAAH! I didn’t get to know Stephen all that well before I moved from Raleigh, but this I know to be true: him and Kaycee are such a compliment to the other. Kayc’s energy and infectious laugh is such a match for Stephen’s quiet, enduring strength. They bring out the good in the other person. You can tell that instantly with these two, even at 6AM:) 

So in honor of their upcoming wedding, here are a few of my favorite snaps from their engagement shoot this past fall. Congratulations, Stephen and Kayc! I am so so excited for you two. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you both for all the days of your lives.

Thank you guys for letting me be a small part of your story. And thank you more so for being a part of mine.

so much love to you two on your wedding month and always, tusch

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welcome to new york, it's been waiting for us  |  part 1

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welcome to new york, it's been waiting for us | part 1

One. December 30, 2015. 6:32AM. Long Term Parking, JFK International Airport. Row A-19. 

This is the first in presumably a 14-part series on my most recent 60-hour escapade in the city that never sleeps, currently being written by a girl who feels like she may never sleep again. Fourteen posts feels ambitious, but why the heck not, you know? (I’m in the stage of sleep deprivation where I feel pretty darn invincible so fourteen posts feels like pssh please. If someone told me I was a cyborg, chances feel high that I’d believe them. And go outside right now and try to fight the robots. Just to give you some perspective of where I am mentally right now.)

Anyway, before I kick this thing off here’s what you need to know. Three girls (me, Rachael, and Ashley), one dream (and by that I mean Rachael has wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in NYC since she was 12, and Ashley and I are just suckers for adventure and travel), and one hella long road trip to New York City babyyyyyyyyyy! The trip was truly wonderful in every way. I took 14 polaroids to commemorate the experience so consider each post an elongated caption. Alright, here goes.

To kick things off, here are 10 notable (semi-notable) things that happened on our way to the Big Apple:

1. Traveling is all about flexibility and adaptability. And by that I mean, you may have bought your $80 cross-country, round trip bus tickets in October but you gotta be ready for that day-before-your-trip Google search that reveals that 98% of people report having had a negative experience with the bus line you chose. It also is worth noting that 96% of people wouldn’t use said bus line again. Which begs the question, who are these 2% of people that despite their negative experience would venture to do it again? I’m left to assume it’s someone like Daryl from The Walking Dead. Ain’t scared of nothin’. Alright well point being that we made the epitome of a game time decision, decided to eat the $80 cost of the bus tickets we'd already bought, forgive ourselves for the total lack of foresight in not having realized the bus we were scheduled to take was sketch mc-freakin-sketch, rented a car (got double charged for the rental, but that’s a different story Hertz has already heard a lot about), and geared up for what would be a 14.5 hour - through the night - road trip to NYC from Atlanta. So to recap, for two months we thought we were bussing to New York, but we ended up renting a car last minute. The moral here is you gotta stay on your toes, people. Gotta stay on your toes.

2. People do weird stuff on the roads of America at night. We saw a cyclist just beat bopping along the interstate (yep, interstate) outside Washington D.C. circa 2:30AM. No reflectors, grey clothing, going with the flow of traffic, which I guess is your best bet if you’re choosing to bike on the interstate. Also, did I mention their was a majooooooor fog situation going on out there? To put all the pieces together, it was dark, it was late, it was foggy, it was cold - which doesn’t really affect visibility but just sucks - and IT WAS THE FREAKIN' INTERSTATE, and this fellow was just riding his bike like he was on a beach cruiser on Kiawah Island. 

3. Beef jerky is the ultimate snack. Truly. Not just car snack, but snack snack. We may or may not have blown through five bags of premium jerkey in less than four days. We felt a little like cave people, but what better way to connect with your ancestors than to gnaw on some dried meat?

4. Car naps beat bus naps. Especially sketchy bus naps

5. Versas get amazing gas mileage! Which was nifty seeing as to how the toll roads up north ROB YOU BLIND. Seriously, a $15 toll just feels unethical. 

6. Rachael would rather her husband have spaghetti for arm/armpit hairs than spaghetti for nose hairs. Ashley and I stronglyyy disagree. But to be clear, our collective preference would be for regular human hair.

7. So about the parking situation at JFK. In an effort to try and save $18 on parking, we decided to not park in the official JFK lot and look for some supposedly cheaper parking we found online. Thirty minutes later and somewhere around 22 loopty loop turns on the crazy roadways (quite literally), we were back at the entrance to the JFK parking lot. There was no mystery cheap parking lot - I hate when the internet lies - and to get back to where we started was nothing short of an act of Congress. The northern roads were not our friend this morning. 

8. uberPool is a thing. Think carpooling but with Uber. We had a lovely expereince with our driver whose name I cannot pronounce (or remember) and a Brooklyn native, Euthoria? Eurethlia? Regardless, I'd recommend the 'pool.

Other than some naps, some laughs, some stops, some jerkey, some songs, some more jerkey, some Serial (not for me, I was out cold), some more jerkey, and a nighttime driving tour through foggy northeast America, that about sums up our 14.5 hour car trip, which started at 3:30PM on December 29th and had us arriving at JFK around 6:00AM on the 30th. 

Stay tuned for the second installment, coming your way (potentially) sometime soon.

love and sleeeeeeeep, k

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always ask for a bag of to-go chips.

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always ask for a bag of to-go chips.

So a week or so ago I blogged about the 27 (and a half) things I feel like I've acquiesced so far in my twenty-seven years of life. I've been so intrigued by this whole idea,  these lessons that we learn that stick with us throughout our lives, that I've asked my friends what they feel like they've learned in their varying years of life. 

In the spirit of Christmas (well not so much Christmas, mostly just vacation and free time), I'm about to share the first of what I hope are many life lessons coming to you from the people that have most intimately shaped and influenced by life. 

First up is Holly. 

Holly is my longest standing roomie. If you know me then you may know I've had circa twenty roommates in the last nine years (not counting summer roomies). So Holly has pretty much reached master class roommate status; we're going on 2 years, 4 months strong:) In an effort to tell the whole story which really just means the honest story, I have to tell you this: I very recently hurt Holly. Inadvertently, but very real-ly. And the way Holly handled the whole thing I think has been the most groundbreaking thing that's happened for me in our friendship in our six or seven years of knowing each other. I like to think I have an easy time talking about my feelings and that I'm usually pretty considerate of other people's, too. If I'm honest (which I'm trying to be), I think pretty highly of my ability to communicate openly and honestly within relationships. Such was definitely not the case recently. And let me tell you, Holly handled the whole thing like a champ. And by champ I mean, she was honest, humble, gracious, and forgiving. The Lord really used my major communication snafu with Holly to expose and break down some deep, DEEP seeded layers of self-righteousness and pride in my heart, areas in my life where I consciously or subconsciously have come to believe that I'm basically the shit. I, in fact, am not the shit and have been so reminded that any character trait or personality trait or any goodness in me that I like or that others like is a result of Him cultivating that in me. Instead of that always leading me to God worship, it recently led me to self-worship, and unfortunately Holly was the recipient of the collateral damage caused my total thoughtlessness.

The point in me sharing all of that is to say this: number 26 on this list is no joke. I've seen Holly live it out in her life, and I'm a better human for it. And really, I've seen Holly live out all of these things she's learned (perks of roommate-ship). There's always a bag of to-go chips at our house if Holly has had Mexican in the last few nights, she (we) do love a good Friends episode anytime, anywhere, and she always sticks to her word. If she says she'll be there, she'll be there. 

So without further adieu (sorry, that was a way longer adieu than I had anticipated), here are 26 things that Holly has learned in her 26 years of life...

1. DishwashING detergent and diswashER detergent provide very different results when used in a dishwasher...

2. Always ask for a bag of to-go chips. And drinks for that matter.

3. No high school can adequately prepare you for the rigor of college.

4. Nobody really cares what your GPA was.

5. The only score that really matters is your credit score.

6. Don't stop playing sports.

7. Spending money on experiences is always worth it.

8. Finding your identity in Christ is the only one that holds up.  Finding it anywhere else will only disappoint.

9. Friends and Gilmore Girls will never get old.

10. Showing up is one of the best gifts you can give.

11. Do it — even if you're just doing it for the resume. But realize you have some heart change that needs to happen.

12. If he's not asking you out, it's because he doesn't want to.

13. Just use the gel pens — even if they're too pretty, and you don't want them run out.  They'll just dry up instead.

14. Quality not quantity.

15. Using olive oil sounds fancy even though it's the lazy way of cooking. (Most of the time for me at least. For example, pasta tossed in olive oil). 

16. Be nice to the secretaries. They hold all the power.

17. Learn to read an actual map.  Don't always rely on technology.  It will fail you sooner or later.

18. Memorize at least a couple of phone numbers (like your mom's).

19. Say thank you. Out loud or in a note. Gratitude goes a long way.

20. Keep your word.  If you said you'd go to the party, go!

21. Spend time with people — even when you're tired.

22. As a working adult, leave the house before 7PM in the winter, or you won't leave.

23. Always keep a coat in your car.

24. FOMO is real. Don't let it get the best of you.

25. Write stuff down — post-its and napkins are fine.  Just write it down.

26. Be honest about how you really feel — with yourself and with others.

PS. Those lovely, airy flowers were photographed by Holly. She happens to be a super talented photog.

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the mott's  |  grant park  |  atlanta, ga.

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the mott's | grant park | atlanta, ga.

I'm a little behind the times on blogging (and by a little I mean, A LOT), and nothing proves that more than taking a picture of a newborn a few weeks back and then seeing how much they've grown and changed in just a few short months (umm, also A LOT). 

I snapped some pics of the Mott's in Grant Park for their Christmas card a little bit ago and the point wasn't to take pics of Norah - which I think that should always be the point - but it happened anyway. Truth be told, I love pictures that aren't really supposed to be the point. I love in between moments maybe more than big moments. Maybe. I'm undecided. But anyway, here are a few pics of the sweet babe just being a babe. I love this sweet little family so much.

PS. Mezacalito's was AMAZING, Liz.

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don't try to pop pimples that you know are unpoppable.

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don't try to pop pimples that you know are unpoppable.

So the sister of a certain high profile human that I may or may not fancy whose name starts with an H and ends with an arry Styles wrote an article on her 25th birthday about what she's learned so far in her quarter century of life (not to get all dramatic, but Harry Styles might be the kindest human I've never met). And also sidenote: I really can't believe I've lived over a quarter of a century. I know most people live much longer than that, but it still just feels like such a feat, you know? It must be the word 'century' making me feel like all epic and stuff. 

Anyway, said sister had some great things to say and some great life hacks. I'm not sure I have many of those, by way of life hacks I mean, but her blog post really got me thinking, what have I learned in my 27+ years on this earth? 

Well, I'm still figuring that out. And honestly, I don't trust anyone who says they already have. But point being, I decided to write out 27 things that my life experiences have so far proven to me to be true. I'm not sure why but when I started writing, I wrote as though I was talking to my younger self. Honestly, I wish things were reversed and younger me were the one writing to older me. I bet younger me would have had some great nuggets of wisdom :) 

Alas, here goes. Here are 27 things (Life hacks if you will? You probably won't because I'm not confident I know the definition of the word 'hack' in terms of life and none of these may actually qualify as hacks) that I've learned in my twenty-seven years living this crazy beautiful thing called life:

1. Life is going to try and turn you into a cynic. Don't let it.

2. Don't try to pop pimples that you know are unpoppable. Seriously, don't. They won't pop, and you'll just have an acne scar to show for it.

3. Genuinely read all the books you're assigned in middle and high school. You won't regret it when you're an adult. They're classics for a reason (I'm looking at you, East of Eden).

4. When you're stressed or upset, ask yourself will this be a big deal to me in 5 years? If the answer is no, then fight to let it go. If the answer is yes, then fight for it.

5. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.

6. Learn to sit in silence. You'll appreciate the serenity and solace in the midst of this noisy world.

7. Write stuff down. Pen and paper style.

8. Have money directly deposited into a savings account before it ever has a chance of making it into your spending account. Then treat your savings as though they're Fort Knox.

9. Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. (This is straight from Jim Elliott, but it's just so damn good).

10. Be generous. With your money, with your talents, with your time, with who you are. On that note, live simply. Stuff is just stuff. Don't ever let material possessions own you. We need far less than we think to live a joy filled life.

11. When you're in Pre-K and nap time rolls around - TAKE IT. For the love of all that is good in this world, take a freakin' nap. Adult you will regret every time you passed up the glorious chance for an extra snooze. 

12. Ask. Ask once, ask twice, ask again until you understand. Ask the questions no one else dares to ask. Ask yourself the hard questions you may think you don't want to know the answers to. Ask the Lord what He thinks and what He's up to and what He says about stuff. Live a life of learning. You aren't inherently born with knowledge or understanding, so ask.

13. Don't be afraid to be the only one. Rosa Parks wasn't. Jesus wasn't. Juror 8 in the movie 12 Angry Men wasn't. (Thank you high school movies that were shown in class so you had no excuse not to watch them, unlike the books previously mentioned in number 3).

14. This nugget of wisdom is thefted as well from an anonymous genius**, but I think it's just brilliant: be kind whenever possible. It's always possible. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. 

15. Never underestimate a child. In so many ways, they are far wiser than us adults.

16. Start exercising (apart from team sports) and eating healthy as soon as you can in life because the Freshmen 15 is no joke, my friend. And neither is that thing you hear about your metabolism slowing down in your mid-20's. It's just a fact. A sad, sad fact.

17. Relationships are worth fighting for. In fact, I'm not sure there's much else on this earth that's more worthy of being fought for.

18. On that note, you know how they say 'Show me your friends and I'll show you the man?' Actually, who says that? Was that Jesus? I'm about to Google it. Okay, so I'm apparently misquoting it, and it also was not Jesus who said that. I'm really not sure who said it first but anyway, I think it's pretty true. Surround yourself with amazing people. Not only will they make you into an amazing person, they'll make life pretty amazing, too. 

19. Underpromise and overdeliver. (Heads up: you're not so naturally gifted at this).

20. Take criticism. It will help you grow. Posture yourself so others will feel as though they can even give you criticism. And when they do, receive it. Even if you think they may be wrong, receive it and weigh it. It may or may not be truer than you care to admit. 

21. Make the next good decision. You don't have to make the next 10 good decisions, just make the next good decision. Life is a cumulation of your moments, not of your intentions.

22. Life's unfair. In both directions. The only thing that's fair is that it's unfair for everyone. 

23. Quirks and idiosyncrasies aren't what you want in middle school but as an adult, it's the people who just own who they are that are the very coolest. 

24. Celebrate what is praiseworthy in others. Everyone has an incredible story. Listen to it and celebrate it. Even people you think you don't like or that you just don't care for, if you take the time to listen, you'll have to admit they have a pretty incredible story. Anyone made in the image of the universe's Creator (i.e. every human on the planet, even the seemingly crummy ones) are a creative masterpiece. Celebrate that.

25. Vote. Not only will you get one of those cool 'I Voted!' stickers and feel all good about fulfilling your civic duties, it's a privilege denied to many. You honor those who can't by treasuring the opportunity that you can. 

26. Don't start smoking. Or doing drugs. Or doing anything that just seems like a bad idea. I have no idea how you stop once you start. The people that do are just amazing. It's just easiest to say nope to dope (and other bad things) right out of the gate. Self-control is not overrated. Seriously, to be self-controlled in an indulgent world, that may be the bigger feat than making it to 27. 

27. Floss. And wear a helmet. Just do it. Gingivitis and traumatic brain injuries both sound like the pits. Gingivitis I'm sure tastes like the pits, too.

27 and 1/2. It won't always be this hard. He's making everything new and everything beautiful in its own time. 

**Everything I know, I've learned from someone else. Seriously.

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welcome to the world, baby jack!

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welcome to the world, baby jack!

He's here, he's perfect, get used to it. 

This little tyke made his grand entrance on November 6, 2015 at 4:55PM weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces. He and his mama were total rockstars at the whole delivery thing, as to be expected. I can't wait to snuggle with this sweet nug (twice!) this week. 

Welcome to the world, Alfred John 'Jack' Fernandez, III! May the Lord's favor be upon you always in this crazy beautiful world. 

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hello. how are you?

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hello. how are you?

I think I've always loved music. For someone who has the musical intelligence of an Adidas sandal and whose greatest triumph on a musical instrument is learning how to play 'Hot Cross Buns' on my recorder in the 4th grade, I have such a deep appreciation for music. It's a language like no other, and it tells stories in a way that makes you literally feel it in your bones. Music is in a league of its own. 

And Adele is in the most exclusive of those leagues. 

When I first heard her new single 'Hello,' I didn't immediately recognize that it was her but I did immediately Shazam the crap out of it before it went off the radio because I HAD TO know the name of the angel that was serenading me. Once I found out it was Adele (duh), I YouTubed it and listened to the whole thing. 

I had a similar experience listening to this song as I did when I saw the statue of David in Florence. I was awestruck. Literally awestruck. Something was happening in me that I couldn't quite define and I was just so moved, I think to worship. This clearly isn't a worship song, but there is something so deeply beautiful, so deeply personal, so deeply something about the experience I had when I listened to it the first few times. I can't even articulate. Even though she's saying words, Adele is somehow telling the story with her voice. This song is one that I can't lyrically relate to - really at all. I've never tried to repeatedly call my former lover to apologize for breaking his heart only to then have my own heart accosted with the old wounds of lost love. The lost love part I can relate to. Repeatedly calling said lost love to apologize, not so much. But it didn't matter that the lyrics didn't apply to me. What mattered was that this song somehow still did. 

Adele is a storyteller of the most incredible kind. Her voice is like instrumentation, the sound itself tells a story. The same way Michelangelo could tell a story with stone. They are the storytellers that can tell a story without using words, evoking feeling and emotion through another language that all our human souls can somehow understand. The story Adele tells with her voice and with the minimal instrumentation of this song - the story of a love lost, of a broken heart, of wishing things could somehow be different, of longing for a reality that can never again be a reality - is a story I related to on a soul level. 

John Steinbeck said that if a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. A great story is about everyone, he said. Or it will not last. "The strange and foreign is not interesting -- only the deeply personal and familiar."

And that's it. That's why I love this song. 'Hello' is somehow a story about me. Adele is somehow telling me my own story that I couldn't even have told myself. 

 

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mr. and mrs. revelle  |  the governors club  |  chapel hill, nc.

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mr. and mrs. revelle | the governors club | chapel hill, nc.

Disclaimer: I'm not quite sure what photographers blog about when they blog about their work (though that's something I could easily find out I guess), so it just felt right to give you a heads up that I'm not sure what direction most any of my blog posts are going when I start them. So here goes...

People sometimes tell me that Rachael and I look like we could be related. And to that I say, oh my gosh THANK YOU. Let's be honest, Rach is a total beaut. Inside, outside, and in between - whatever in between means. She's just all around beautiful. She looks like Katie Holmes, which is not a bad person to look like. Rachael and I (like Jamie from the previous post!) also met in graduate school. That orientation lady that talked about meeting your best friends in grad school was apparently RIGHT ON THE MONEY (if anyone can name the Friends episode where Chandler says that, I'll buy you a smoothie. Seriously, I will).

Besides being one of the most adventurous, honest, loyal, fearless, thoughtful, snail mail loving, squeeze-every-single-drop-out-of-life people that I know, Rach is one of the biggest fans of me as a creative; she trusts my talents, often times more than I do. And for that I am forever grateful. Doing anything creative I feel like can be super scary because it's super vulnerable. You're putting yourself into your art, whatever that is, and you're putting it out there for people to see and inevitably make a judgement about. But with Rachael, she's such a safe and honest place for me. She pushes me to be creative in a fearless and fresh way where there's a 50-50 chance that whatever I come up with might totally suck or it might be the best thing I've ever done. That's the best kind of creating to me; the kind with no pressure and no guarantees but the potential of something incredible. 

On Thomas and Rachael's wedding day, I was the videographer. I've never actually videoed anything other than my dogs being cute and myself on Dubsmash (does that even count?!) But Thomas and Rachael asked me to capture their special day. Fearless, I told you. While Rachael's Aunt Dotty photographed the day and while I tried my best to video it, I managed to snap some shots in between. Since photographing wasn't my main gig, the pictures I took were in between videoing, mostly the in between moments. They weren't of anything formal or really anything posed or staged; they were just sort of these normal life moments when you're just doing something normal or waiting for the next thing to happen. I LOVE those moments. Not so much when I'm living them (though I think I'm growing in that), but I love photographing those moments. Those moments are real life. Even on the most magical of days. 

So all that to say, here are some snaps from Thomas and Rachael's wedding day :) The whole day seemed so very them to me.  It was beautiful and poised and somehow effortless and simple. Just like Thomas and Rachael. If Rachael is a kite, then Thomas is her string. If she's a boat, then he's her anchor. They're a pretty complementary pair, those two. And their wedding day was incredible. Plus, it was a Supper Club** wedding, and those are just so darn special - though one of us (no need to mention names, Jenny) got married the month before Supper Club was a thing ;)

I love you, Mr. and Mrs. Revelle. I can't wait to come see your sweet home in sweet Carrboro with your sweet little fig tree and your sweet vaulted ceilings. Thomas, welcome to the Supper Club Husband's Club. It's an elite group. And Rach, I promise I'll call you back tomorrow!

**Supper Club is a group of six of us - Jamie included! - who are best friends from grad school. I'm telling you, that orientation lady was obviously a prophetess. So now that's three of us down, three of us to go. Sarah is quite serious with a dashing British lad, but Kac and I are very much single in Kac you know anyone whose looking. See what I did there?! 

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aj + jamie + {sweet baby boy}  |  whittier mills park |  atlanta, ga.

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aj + jamie + {sweet baby boy} | whittier mills park | atlanta, ga.

So you know how in movies there's this meet-cute, this scene where the guy and the girl meet for the first time, and it's epically special even if it's the most ordinary of circumstances? Well Jamie and I have a pretty epic friend meet-cute. I'm biased, clearly, but I think it's one of the best friend meet-cutes of all time.

It was the first day of grad school and one of my friends was dropping me off at orientation. I was getting all nervous like 'Oh my goodness, what am I doing, I don't know anyone in there.' Christy, my trusty chauffeur, looked at me and said, 'Make it your goal to make one new friend today. You just have to make one.' I respond pretty well to challenges - embarrassingly so given how competitive I can be - and that sounded simple enough. So I walked into this huge auditorium and as expected, I didn't recognize anyone. A little to my dismay, the auditorium was way bigger than I anticipated and people were dispersed all over it. There was really no reason to sit up close to someone because there was plenty of seats to spare. I was literally paralyzed with options of where I could sit. In a brilliant moment of clarity, I decided to ask the Lord to show me where to go. This doesn't usually happen to me where I get such a clear answer, but in this case I did. I felt like the Lord pointed out this girl in the back of the auditorium that was sitting by herself. For literally no other reason than I felt like the Lord pointed her out to me, I made my way to the seat next to her. Well not literally next to her. You've got to have spatial and social awareness in these situations and since I didn't know this girl, I left the obligatory space between us and sat two seats over from her. Can't seem too overeager out of the gate, you know? Once I sat down, it took me about five minutes to come up with something to say (I ended up asking a question I'm pretty sure I already knew the answer to like, 'Oh are you here for orientation, too?'). Fast forward to the end of the day, and Jamie and I had signed up for all the same classes together. Literally every.single.one. It was pretty much best friend love at first sight for us two and for the next two years of grad school, you'd be hard pressed to find one of us without the other. 

Since the moment of our friend meet-cute in August 2010, Jamie has been one of my dearest friends. At our orientation, some presenter on stage told us to look around at the people next to us because we were sitting amongst our future best friends that would stand beside us on our wedding day. Ummm, not likely I thought. Well, turns out it was very likely because in September 2012, I got to stand beside Jamie and AJ as they walked into the covenant of marriage. And now I get to stand beside them as they become parents. And my heart is overjoyed. 

If you know Jamie, then you know that she was made to be a mother. Her presence is  incomparable and like no one else's I know. She has a peacefulness and gentleness and rootedness about her that is so life giving. And though AJ and Jamie are different in lots of ways, AJ shares that same peacefulness and gentleness and rootedness that Jamie has. These two. Together they are just so dang life giving. And in a few days (or hours!), they will experience the ultimate form of life giving, when they welcome their sweet baby boy into the world. I love them both so very much and can't wait to meet the little one they have created. 

Baby Boy Fernandez (or Charlie, as I like to call you since your name is shrouded in total and complete secrecy), I love you. Your parents are amazing, I know that first hand. And so is the community of people that is so eager and ready to love your little face off once you get here. You are and will always be so so incredibly loved. 

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will + liz + {baby norah}  |  atlanta, ga.

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will + liz + {baby norah} | atlanta, ga.

When I stop to think about it, I don't think my momma has too many pictures of me when she was pregnant. I wish she did because it might make the fact that I was once upon a time tucked inside her belly not seem so mind blowing. I mean, it just doesn't make sense, you know? That all humans - every.single.one of us - was once inside someone else's stomach. CRAZY. 

That feeling hits me every once in a while, my mind being blown feeling. And it hit me on this day, when I walked into Will and Liz's house to take maternity photos. I can't believe Liz has a sweet baby girl growing in her stomach. A little girl with a heartbeat, with ten fingers and ten toes. With arms and legs and feet. And a precious soul that is being hand crafted by her Creator. Oh my goodness, WHAT?! It's just all really mind-blowing and surreal in the best way. Pregnancy is amazing and mysterious and incredible. And worth celebrating to the nth million degree. 

I've known Will and Liz since I was a sophomore in college, but I've known known them since right before they got engaged in 2010. I don't know how to not make this sound so cliche and mega cheese, but it's just been so sweet to live life with them these last 5 years. So much life happens in 5 years. So much. I'm so thankful that Will and Liz being parents is now a part of that. It's crazy to think that in a month or so, a whole new little person will be out and about and sharing life with all of us. A little person that used to be in Liz's belly. Gah, I just can't wait :) 

I love you, Will and Liz. A lot a lot. Norah, I already love you, too. And I'm so excited to meet you, little nug. If you're anything like your parents, you're going to be so faithful, so kind, and so very strong.  

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