she was purple

A response to the prompt of the day: purple.

Oceans of blue trapped in her eyes.

The passion in her heart burning red.

Colors bleed together to form a vivid purple,

she weaves the lavender through her hair.

There are some people that you meet that are absolutely extraordinary in every way. You look at them and for a second you are in awe, in awe that such a resilient, beautiful soul can exist in such a dark world.

That, to me, is my best friend.

The stories she could tell you, the tragedies she’s seen would break even the one with the strongest mind. She’s been given more in her twenty years than most have been given in forty. Battles seem to come her way more than victories, and the mountaintops are few and far between the valleys.

Yet through all of the challenges and hardships her heart has stayed kind. The average person might grow bitter and callous from the trials, but she remains soft and kind to those around her.

She has been an inspiration to me and so many others through the way that she loves others and perceives the world around her. You can find her in the woods with her eyes wide open, taking in the beauty of the world. Or in a busy coffee-shop, sharing her heart with another to encourage them in their own life.

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How grateful I am for this purple haired, purple hearted friend of mine.

before the fireworks, before the ball drop.

So much can happen in 365 days. Your life can turn upside down in a matter of seconds. And you might find that the person that you woke up as on January 1st 2015 is not the same as the person who bids goodbye to another year on December 31st, 2015. I’m most certainly not the same as I was 12 months ago.

2015 brought heartbreak, but it also brought healing.

At the beginning of 2015, I was drowning in my insecurities. The semester wasn’t going the way I had wanted it to, I was very ill physically, my grades were slipping, relationships were going wrong, and I was very unhappy. I just wanted to get the spring semester over with, but I wasn’t looking forward to returning to a summer job in an office for the whole summer. I was defeated, and very broken. I had put so much of my hope and expectations in people, and I thrived on affirmation of others. I had turned away from finding my identity and purpose in Christ, and I filled it with relationships, business, and feeble attempts to define myself as the “artist” the “photographer” “the girl people would want to be friends with”. I returned home for the semester defeated and depressed.

I was angry for a while. I was angry at God for taking some things away. I was angry at a boy who shattered my self-esteem. I was angry at my circumstances.  But most of all, I was angry at myself for not doing better, for not being a better person. I recognized my weakness and I knew that there had to be a drastic change. And as i looked back at the relationships I had destroyed, the choices I had made, and how far I had wandered… I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I surrendered to His will for me. And that brought healing to my heart. He helped me pick up the pieces of a messy breakup, took away the stains and “ick” i had stored up, reminded me that my identity is found in Him alone, and guided me back home – to where I needed to be. And so the spring brought healing, it brought people from home back into my life, who walked with me through this process of healing. And through the healing process, I was able to enter the summer with a new sense of purpose, a healed heart, and a humbled mindset.

And I am learning that healing is a process that takes time. God is still healing my heart, and He will continue doing so in 2016.

2015 brought loss, but it also reminded me of love.

Towards the end of this year, I had to walk through something I never would have imagined I would have to. I lost my best friend in a car accident, and honestly? It still doesn’t feel real. I remember when I found out. It was 3 AM and I was sitting by my phone hoping someone would call and say, “He’s in critical but stable condition”. I was praying for a miracle. But instead, when the phone rang I heard, “he’s with Jesus.” And my whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt. I still can’t wrap my head around it right now. I understand that it will take time. It hurts a lot, as I look back at all of the previous years that Greg stood by my side in the good times and bad, and every other in between. It makes me nostalgic for the old days mostly, and a little anxious about the days to come. But even during this trial, I have learned so much.

The most significant thing I’ve learned is that I am loved by so many people, and I have so much love to give to a hurt world. During a time of pain and grief, my friends have come together and surrounded each other with support, prayers, encouragement, tissues, laughs, and most of all, love. I have never once been alone during this time. I have some of the greatest friends by my side, even when they are hurting and feeling this pain too. We were close in high school, all of us. But college slowly made us drift apart. In light of this tragedy, we have become closer than we were before. Over this last month, I have cried with these people until I couldn’t see straight and I have laughed with them until my stomach hurt. They have reminded me that I will never have to go through life alone, and that I am always loved.

The day after Greg and Haley passed away, I was absently leaving through a book written by my biggest inspiration, Jamie Tworkowski. His book, If You Feel Too Much (which you DEFINITELY should read if you haven’t), is filled with his thoughts and reflections on life and the hurt and pain in this world. I stumbled across something he wrote when he lost a good friend to cancer. And it resonated with me and brought me comfort. I don’t know how to end this section, so I will end with these words.

“Though the price will be the heartache of loss- for we can’t control when or how an ending comes – what a privilege that God allows us to connect with other people in this life, to be known, and to be loved so we do not walk alone. Perhaps friendship – the deep kind, the best kind – perhaps it is a miracle.” – jamie tworkowski

2015 brought disappointment, but it also brought a deep sense of hope.

My first year in college wasn’t exactly how I planned. And I’m halfway through the second one and it’s still not exactly going how I planned. By the halfway mark of 2015, I was stressing about how I was going to keep my scholarships and stay in school, diagnosed with a chronic illness, about to start a job I wasn’t sure I would enjoy, and stuck in licking county for the whole summer.

But by God’s grace, I managed to keep my scholarships and return to Cedarville this fall and get the chance to room with my beautiful and wonderful best friend. I have began treatment for my illness, and I am doing better than I was. I ended up absolutely loving my summer job, even though it wasn’t the one I had planned on getting. And being stuck in licking county brought some incredible things into my life; one being a group of wonderful 8th grade girls that I got to minister to and mentor over the summer. and another being my boyfriend, who I wouldn’t have began to get to know had I worked at a summer camp like I planned.

All of that taught me that sometimes (well… sometimes it feels like most of the time) life doesn’t exactly work out how we want it to. And that’s because God’s plan is so much bigger and more incredible than we could even imagine! I’m learning that I have to remind myself often that God is in control, not me. So often, I decide what my life is going to look like and tell God that’s how things are going to be. But by His grace, He doesn’t allow all of my plans to work out…instead, He replaces them with something much better. This has brought me such a deep sense of hope for 2016. I have an idea of how I want things to go, but who knows what can happen in a year! All I know is that God will lead me to where He wants me to be, when He wants me to be there.

2015 brought pain, but it also brought purpose.

I watched two sweet women girls in my life lose their fathers, one to a heart attack, and one to cancer. I saw the eyes of the hurting and broken in downtown Columbus, void of hope. I felt the pain and burdens that the young girls i mentored carry, I felt it deeply. I felt the loneliness and longing in the eyes of the underprivileged kids I worked with. I walked through the nightmare of losing my closest friend.

I questioned the purpose for all of these things. I cried and screamed at God to fix it, because it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair at all. But in the midst of the pain, i was reminded that there is purpose even if we can’t see it at first. And more importantly, we have a purpose to love. My eyes were opened to the pain that surrounds me every day, and I realized that I am called to live a life that brings hope and joy to people’s lives. Our greatest commandment is to love. Our greatest purpose is to love, even (maybe especially) those we find it hardest to love. This realization brought change to my life and it brought a passionate feeling of purpose. I used to hate the fact that I felt things so deeply, so much. But now I realize it is a gift to feel things so clearly. It may be painful, but it reminds me of my purpose.

2016, I don’t know what you will bring. But…

All I know is that I am ready for you. I am grateful for everything I have learned in 2015, the opportunities I’ve been given, the friendships I have been blessed with, the memories I have gathered. But I am anxious to see what a new year brings me. I am anxious to see what God will do in my life and in the lives of those I love. I am anxious and expectant.

But perhaps most of all, i am ready for the memories I will make and the time I have been given. If 2015 taught me one thing, it taught me to never take the time we’ve been given for granted. It taught me to hold those I love close, to chase after my passions and ambitions, to love without stopping to deem the person worthy of it or not, to make memories I will treasure, to make this world a better place day by day.

2015, you taught me how to live. And for that, I am forever grateful for this year i’ve lived through, these 12 months I’ve grown, and these 365 days of learning and becoming the person I am today – the person that enters 2016 without fear. Thank you for that.

January, February, March
The days are marching forward
April, May, June and July
They fly like a hummingbird

August, September, October
The year is almost over
November, December arrive
Now the year is gone

Time is illusion
Time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now
Our time is now
Our time is now
Let us sing before our time runs out.

– before our time by Jon Foreman

when we were young.

I’m always searching for the right words. I seem to be always looking inwardly, hoping that maybe by examining my heart and soul just a little bit more, I’ll find the words I’ve been searching for hidden in a cavern of my heart.

And yet, I never find the right words.

I have so many memories and moments I want to capture and freeze, so I can keep them in a heart-shaped box so I can revisit them when life gets hard or the days grow dark. I have so many sweet snippets of life that I hope to preserve for the future.

But the right words never seem to find me, or I never seem to find them.

Life is beautiful, right in this moment. I’m sitting across from three of my best friends and closest companions, listening to Adele’s newest song on repeat.

It was just like a movie, it was just like a song… when we were young

I know that I am loved deeply. By these friends, by other wonderful souls in my life, by my steadfast God. I feel loved and I feel loving. I look at my life, and I see love. I see a world that is preparing for the holiday season, as warm feelings mix with christmas songs in the air. I see people that make me grateful that I am alive. I see the seasons changing. I see myself preparing for a future that I have been hoping for for years. I see love.

Everybody here is watching you. ’cause you feel like home. like a dream come true.

I look at my life, in this moment, in this very second. And it feels like home. It feels like sitting under a warm blanket with a cup of my favorite tea, watching the lights on my family’s christmas tree twinkle. It feels like returning to my familiar little town after a long semester.

But there is a nagging in the back of my head that whispers, “but when will this feeling fade? When will you find yourself alone, afraid, cold, and broken hearted?”

This little voice latches itself onto the sweetest of moments, the best of memories. It’s always there, no matter how beautiful life seems.

It keeps me from enjoying every second, every breath.

I was so scared to face my fears, because nobody told me that you’d be here.

Perhaps it’s because I can’t bring myself to trust that good times will stay. Perhaps it’s because I know the pain of people walking away, and I expect it. Perhaps it’s because I have felt heartbreak before, and I know it’s inevitable. Perhaps it’s because my mind knows that life has as many downs as it has ups.

we were scared of getting older, it made us restless.

Yes, life has its ups and downs. Life has its mountain peaks and valleys. Life has its days and its nights. There is always going to be bad, but there is also always going to be good. So how do I combat this nagging feeling, this voice that tempts me to not appreciate the wonderful moments of life?

I combat it with thankfulness. It is hard to dwell on the bad, on the inevitable low points of life, on the heartache that is to come when I am being thankful for this moment, right here, right now. In fact, it’s impossible to be distracted by the bad that may come when I focus on the good that is right here.

I think that goes well with the season we are about to enter into.

So, for now I will be grateful.

I will be grateful.

for the people that are right here, right now. Distance and time may separate us one day, but right now I am grateful for their presence and unique roles in my life.

for the passions and desires of my heart. God might change them one day and send me in a completely difference direction than I am currently striving for. But right now, I am grateful that He has given me the desires of my heart, and that I am able to chase my dreams.

for the boy I haven’t seen in 3 months that I get to hug in just under two months. God may have a different plan for us, and our future may have a lot of unknowns and uncertainties since distance is already certain. But right now, I am grateful that I have him. I am grateful for and blessed by his support, encouragement, and love. I am grateful for the summer that we had together and for the times we will have together once he comes back home. I am grateful that his laughter and smile lights up my life.

for the best roommate ever. We may only have two years left spending every day together. But right now, I am grateful for her loving friendship. For her advice, her joy, her laughter, her artsiness, her talent, and her beautiful spirit. I am grateful for every silly moments we have shared, and for her endless support. For the light that she brings to my life on an every day basis.

for this place. I may be leaving in two and a half years, the future may be uncertain and unknown. But right now, I am in a wonderful place, full of incredible students and incredible professors who are guiding me to become who I’m meant to be. It is truly my home away from home.

And for this season. Seasons may change and come and go so quickly, but right here, right now, I love the one I’m in. I love the challenges that I have faced so far. i love the joyous moment that I have experienced so far. The weather is crisp and beautiful. Winter may be right around the corner, but I am holding on to every bit of autumn that I can.

Maybe these weren’t the right words, but they are the ones that I found. Maybe I don’t need the perfect words. Because maybe it’s not the perfect words that can capture these perfect moments. Maybe it’s the perfect moments that make the perfect words.

Let me photograph you in this light in case it is the last time that we might be exactly like we are.

Be the cure

There is so much pain and heartache in this world. I scroll through my Facebook feed and see heartbreaking story after story. From accounts of the terrible tragedy in Paris this weekend, to close friend’s updates on their battles with cancer, to news clips of missing and exploited children… The hurt and the pain never seems to stop.

And when you feel things so deeply, so strongly, the weight almost feels unbearable. It makes things seem hopeless. It makes the world seem a lot darker and a lot uglier. I understand how heavy the world can feel.

We can feel the weight of the world. I think it’s almost a gift to be able to feel so much. But we mustn’t dwell there. We mustn’t dwell on the pain and the weight of the world. We mustn’t forget that there is still beauty in this world. We mustn’t forget that there is light and more importantly, that we can be light.

I’m sitting with my closest friends and listening to one of my most favorite albums whilst enjoying a close to perfect raspberry mocha. I just finished an insane amount of homework and paper writing and project working. This is the first moment of quiet I’ve had all day, and I’m savoring every second of it. This is how life usually is – unbelievably uneventful. And I think that’s beautiful.

I think we often forget the beauty and the wonder that surrounds us. I think we look past the good and the beauty in the simplicity of life. 

I think we also forget that we can be the cure for pain. We can be the treatment for tragedy. 

We can feel the weight of the world, but we don’t have to live in the heaviness. We have the ability to be light and to spread our light. We have the ability to combat the evil with unexplainable love and joy. We have the ability to take the broken hearted in our arms and to watch over the orphaned and to give shelter to the displaced and homeless. We have the ability to answer the darkness with light, with stars, beacons of hope. Reminders that even in the dark, even in the hopelessness there is still good, there is still hope.

And sometimes that is hard to believe. I know. We can name so many tragedies and injustices. We can list off all of the terrible things that have been happening in this world. Because we know that the evil has always existed, the hurt has always been there. But we can’t dwell there.

What people need is hope. What they need is action. What they need is support. What they need is love. Words. Aid. A reminder that they are not alone in this. And we can’t be caught up in the pain if we want to help. We can’t be resting in our hurt and sadness for the world. 

To make a difference, we must believe that there is still beauty, there is still light. We must believe that there is something that is worth fighting for. We must believe that there is a hope that shines through the hurt, that there is a purpose that outweighs the pain. 

I am a very little person, and this world is a very big place. There is so much that I want to fix, so many orphans and widows and refugees that I want to take in my arms and hold. So many places I want to go to spread the message of hope. So many lives I want to touch. But I will never reach them all. So will you join me in my belief? Will you take hold of the light and beauty in your life and never let the bad shadow it?

Yes, this world is sick with so much evil and violence and pain and hurt and tragedy and death. But it is not incurable. This sickness can be combatted. I can be the cure. You can be the cure. We can be the cure.

before we go.

I found myself back home, in a place that was so familiar. In the midst of all the lights and the music and the laughter, I was transported back to my days of high school. The days where I was surrounded by some of the best friends of the world, fearless and confident. None of us had any idea where the future was going to take us. But that didn’t scare us.

I look at all of those faces and those smiles, and I am surprised at how quickly two years have passed, and how time is just passing us by faster and faster. Some are engaged. Some are married. Some are living their dreams. Some are still figuring out life. Some are in college. Some are not.

It’s strange to think that just two years ago, all of us were in the same season of life. We were enjoying our senior year of high school, savoring the days before college and different directions would send us to different states and different places.

As I reflected on all of this, I realized how important those people were in my life the last eight years or so. From middle school to high school, many of them had important roles in my life. We walked through some difficult times together. We celebrated together. We cried together. We laughed together. We made memories together, memories that I’m certain I’ll never forget.

Without those people, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t know how to be a good friend. I wouldn’t be pursuing my dreams.  I wouldn’t be confident. I wouldn’t be me.

And the more I thought about that, the more I wondered if those people know. Do they know how important they are to me? It’s so easy to look back on our high school days with a smile, and to move on without a second thought. It’s so easy to lose touch, blaming it on the distance and the business of life and the fact that we are all pursuing very different futures. But how silly is that. How silly would it be for me to move on in life pretending as though these friendships didn’t impact me in a significant way.

I truly believe that God placed those people in my life for a specific reason. And I am beyond grateful that He did.

Even though life is taking us all in separate directions, and we are all forming our lives apart from each other, I believe that these friendships will stay intact. While we might not ever be as close as we once were, I know that we will always have each other. And I know that I will always be loved by these people, and that I will always love them. Some of my hardest days were faced with them by my side. And I will never forget each of their individual roles in my life, as I became the person that I am right now.

I understand that life is going to pull us in extremely different directions. But before it does, I hope that we all realize how significant our time in high school was. I hope we don’t discount how pivotal those memories we made were in our lives.

And perhaps my heart is too nostalgic. Perhaps I look back too often. But I am thankful that i can look back to a time full of smiles, laughter, adventures, and sweet times. I am thankful that I can look back and see beautiful, talented, Jesus-loving people smiling at me. I am thankful that I can look back and see that God put those wonderful people in my life for specific reasons. I am thankful that I can look back and see the beautiful path that brought me to where I am today.

And I hope we thank God for the people He has placed and will place in our lives for just the right moments, just the right purpose. Before we go, I hope we tell those people that we love them and are forever grateful for their lights in our lives.

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to the girl with the piercings

She sat across from me, arms crossed over her hoodie and converse-clad feet kicked up on her friend’s lap. One eye hid under a curtain of hair, and she studied me, curiously. I saw so much of myself in her. Perhaps because when I was her age, I dressed just like she did. Perhaps it was the shy smile she had or the way she spoke in a way far beyond her years.

She asked me about the tattoo on my arm and complimented me on the piercing in my nose. She talked about how much she longed for a tattoo of her own and she showed me the many piercings that lined her ears. She asked about what my parents thought about my tattoo, and became frustrated when she told me her mother’s opinion of tattoos. Her mother was sitting close by, and shrugged with an apologetic smile.

Her mother talked of brokenness and the turbulent life the two of them had in the past. And that’s when I saw it, the pain in the girl’s gray eyes. Her eyes had seen much more than a girl her age should have, and I felt that familiar sting in my heart. The feeling of wanting to take away pain and give her a reason to hope. I talked to her that evening, and I told her about my story. I told her about the roads I’ve traveled and the things I have experienced. I showed her fading scars on my wrists, and I told her I understood. I recounted my times of bitterness and my years of pain. But then I told her that there is hope. There is hope in everything, even in the darkest seasons of life. There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope beyond understanding.

But as I look back at all that I told her, I wish I could change it a little. I wish I could have said these words instead.

To the girl with the piercings,

I’m not going to pretend like I know what you’ve been through. Because fake understanding is painful, no matter how meaningful the intention is. I’m not going to pretend like I know you. Because I don’t. I’m not going to pretend like I know your story or the struggles of your life. I’m not going to pretend like I understand completely. I’m not going to pretend because I wouldn’t want you to pretend if I was the one sitting on the couch and you were the one sitting in this uncomfortable chair across from me.

If you want, I’ll tell you about the experiences I’ve had. I’ll tell you my story. I’ll show you how I got through some things. I’ll tell you about how I found hope. I’ll tell you about the pain and the darkness that turned into hope and joy.

But I understand that you might not want to hear it. You might not think there’s any hope for the situations you are dealing with. And that’s ok if you don’t want to hear about me.

What I want to tell you is that you’re not alone. I promise you that. No matter what you are going through, I can assure you that there is someone going through that same thing. Please don’t isolate yourself. Please tell someone. Please don’t hide behind a fake smile and “I’m fine”s. Please let people help you help yourself.

You might not see eye to eye with your mother and you might not understand her opinions. But your relationship with your mother is one of the most important ones you will ever have. I can’t tell you that my mother and I have always been the best of friends and that everything is perfect. It took work, it took sacrifice and compromise. But now I know I have a best friend, a confidante, and an anchor in my mother. Your mother loves you, I am sure of that. And you might see her as being unfair and old fashioned, but not getting a nose piercing or a tattoo until you’re 18 will not kill you. It will not hurt you. But sacrificing your relationship with your mother over this will hurt you. Trust me, I know this first hand.

Lastly, I want to tell you to hold on to hope. Right here, right now hope might seem like a strange concept, something unattainable. But I promise that there is always hope. Even in the strongest of storms, the darkest of nights, hope cuts through like a ray of light. It pierces through the darkness and the waves. Even when life clouds your view and the storms blind you, hope is still there. It is constant. And it will be your beacon. It might seem far off, but I promise you it isn’t.

So, maybe these aren’t the right words. And maybe I will never find the right ones. But above all, I want you to know that I care. And I believe in you.

With love,

The girl with the lion tattoo and nose hoop.

Your Heart Is A Work Of Art

I want to be rich in moments not money, our love is our inheritance honey.

Jon Foreman

Oh, my heart. I’m finding that whenever I hear cute love songs I suddenly listen to the lyrics more closely than I used to. And I resonate with the words of talented songwriters that put words I could never find to beautiful melodies in ways I never have before. 

And what is the reason for that you ask? 

A boy. Oh how cliche, right? How sappy, how cheesy. But I don’t care about that.

I used to be a pessimist when it came to relationships. I never really was hopeful for things working out for me anytime soon, and the future terrified me. If things were most likely going to end, why bother? Why go through all of that hurt and pain when I could just be alone and spare myself from being let down by another person? I thought I was being smart and looking out for myself. But in reality? I was just hardening my heart. I went through my share of heartbreak anyway. Perhaps that was my own fault, when I went into relationships with such a pessimistic view. 

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully, round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless. It will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. 

– C.S. Lewis 

Perhaps my heart was hardened in my efforts to keep it from being broken. Saying that sounds strange, since I am a person who strives to have a heart full of kindness and grace and love. But I believe it was true. I hardened my heart towards romance and relationships.

Until that day that I realized how important he had become to me. I remember it clearly, the moment I looked at him and I realized how being with him felt like home. Suddenly, I was struck by the fact that I wanted to share the boring, the good, the bad, the adventurous moments of life with him. And that didn’t scare me.

We’ve known each other for years now, and it was unexpected and took me by surprise. But life works out in the strangest, most beautiful ways. And although he may be 7000 miles away, he still makes me smile on a daily basis. He never lets me forget how much he appreciates me. He brings such joy into this wonderful life I call my own. And I enjoy walking through life with him by my side. We’ve made so many great memories together, and I hope there are many more ahead of us. 

And to think that I may have missed out on it all because of a hard heart and a stubborn spirit that I knew what was best for me. (But thankfully God knows what’s best and life works in mysterious ways)

He is not the source of my happiness and joy. No, my hope and joy is rooted in Christ first and foremost. But he does point me to Christ with  his life, his words, and his actions. And he brings so much joy to my life by just being in it. Maybe this time of playing cheesy love songs on repeat will pass. And maybe it won’t. But for now I will keep singing along to Jon Foreman and Jason Mraz and T Swift and such, and remind myself of how incredibly blessed my life is. And how grateful I am that he stole my heart.