A Handful of L.A. Adventures

It’s been an exhilarating 7 months living in Los Angeles. When I scroll through the photos of memories and moments with these new California friends, I’m filled with a gratitude and nostalgia for everything I’ve been blessed to experience.

SAN DIEGO

Just two yogi’s from Cedar Rapids, Iowa who answered the call on their hearts to move to Southern California!

REDONDO BEACH

Exploring with cousin Jason and his fiancƩ Kai.

LAGUNA BEACH

When your favorite volleyball coach is in town, you make the drive to see her and her mom and lounge for the day at Laguna Beach. šŸ™‚

SNAPCHAT’S SUMMER TWILIGHT CONCERT SERIES

This night will always be one of my highlights of Summer 2016 in Los Angeles! Snapchat hosts a concert series on Santa Monica Pier over the summer, and IT IS LIT. The Snapchat ghost was walking around, so I automatically sprinted over to dance with it and get all the pictures. The fun people in the photo are all amazing, driven, awe-inspiring world-travelers I’m blessed to call friends! With the Snapchat ghost from left is Sofiane, sassy Frenchman, Eddie, punny North Carolinian, and Mel, feisty New Yorker.

DISNEYLAND

Sweet Aunt Renee took me with her to Disneyland for a very full day of rides, Princess meetings (mostly on my end, I had to see them all!), and emotional parade and firework shows!

HIKE TO HOLLYWOOD SIGN

It was a must!

BONFIRE ON THE BEACH

Another highlight of Summer 2016! Sorry for doubting your bonfire-building skills, Sofiane. It was lit.;)

SURFING (& SAIRA IN TOWN!!)

BUCKET LIST ITEM #1 WAS COMPLETED THAT DAY. But I’m definitely not done there! It was a blast experiencing this with such an amazing friend, Saira, who came all the way from West Virginia to see me and of course California!

SQUAD. ALL THE SQUAD PICS.

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THESE HUMANS!!!

CCV COLLEGE GROUP CAMP AT CARPINTERIA STATE BEACH

God nudged me to just go to the camp, even though I only knew a couple people. Well, that changed quickly because CCV peeps are amazing and so welcoming. I love this church family.:)

MIXMAG

BOAT PARTY

Another highlight! Eddie is the hookup for amazing events!! Always a blast with you!

SANTA MONICA BEACH

BAE’S

MY B’S!! Bridget and Bekah, where would I be without you two?! Love you baesics!

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

 

Thanks for scrolling through! Always remember to reflectĀ on how beautiful this life is…we get caught up in a comparison game and it sucks the joy out of our own blessings. Please understand this is a highlight reel, and in no way is my life or anyone else’s rainbows and puppies and smiles all the time. It’s a journey of ups and downs, and finding joy in Christ even in the downs is the ultimate goal of it all.

Wishing you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION and FANTASTIC 2017!!!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

What Inspires

“Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress.” -Pinterest

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” -Pinterest

“Do more of what makes you sparkle.” -Pinterest

“Let’s do what we love and do a lot of it.” -Marc Jacobs

My life is straight outta Pinterest, and the trending adage of “pursue what inspires you, do more of what makes your soul happy, get rid of the stuff draining you” has had me wanting to put words to feelings ofĀ what truly inspires.

I finally sat down today to do just that; and how encouragingĀ it was to pause and reflect on what inspires me…makes me wonder if I really did pursue these inspirations intentionally, how would my life change?

  • deep conversations about faith, spirituality, Jesus, trials to triumphs
  • puppies šŸ˜›
  • miracles
  • worship – intentionally focused on praising God in prayer, song, Bible-reading, fellowship
  • adventures – trying new things and going new places
  • willfully breaking through my comfort zone
  • connecting with new people
  • feeling needed and wanted
  • seeing fitness goals reached in myself and others
  • people’s stories that I see God’s hand in
  • when I can tell I’m living out of intention and not habit
  • dancing
  • pretty photography that makes you pause, transports you somewhere else for that moment
  • simplicity
  • strong women with confidence of self in Christ
  • men passionately, ridiculously in love with Jesus
  • random acts of kindness
  • classical music
  • timely quote or phrase in book or blog I’m reading (inspired a lot whilst reading C.S. Lewis:P)

Now that I’ve put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard to articulate, I choose to pursue these inspirations. They are like any trait, gift, or dream God has given us…in fact, I know they lead us a little closer to Jesus’ heart and living out who He has created us to be.

I’m curious what similarities you find in yourself in these items, as well as others, since we’re all so different in what makes us tick. I can’t wait to read the comments below of what inspires you!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

Why I Prayed Last Night To Stay Single

A tad countercultural, yes?

I get asked quite often (now that I’m nearing spinster, crazy cat lady age at 23…feel free to catch the dripping sarcasm with a bucket) if I’m single, in a relationship, talking to anyone, etc.

I’ve challenged myself this month with Thanksgiving and a new year right around the corner to put pen to paper of all the things I’m grateful for. I couldn’t help but write out last night, “I’m thankful for the gift of singleness.”

This is a time to grow in who I am as an individual, not stress about something that will happen naturally if it’s meant to.

I have time to pray for the future hubby, and ultimately, I’m using this time to make Christ my priority and First Love.

That was the core of my prayer. I prayed for God to not bring my man into my lifeĀ until He truly is the sole focus of my heart and life.Ā He’s my best friend, but I also know I’m much too easily distracted by the things of this world. If I’m not in rhythm with Him and His will for me, I quickly get off-track.

If I see life as a dance, I’m currently being swept away in a waltz in the arms of Jesus. When the time, place, and circumstances are God’s, He’ll let the “perfect man” cut in and Christ will remain at the center…as the perfectly cheesy Pinterest photo reminds us. šŸ˜›

dance-with-god

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

 

Mistaking Happiness for Home

Forgive me this intro that sounds more like a bad start to an infomercial, but I have to ask, have you ever felt unsettled? Discontent? Like some purpose you should be filling isn’t being lived out?

I’m curious because it’s how I’ve felt lately. Despite the adventures and blessings that surround me, there’s still an underlying sense that there should beĀ more.Ā I seek and seek and seek some more forĀ this “settled happiness and security” that keeps evading me.Ā 

I realized an important difference this week in how to view that sense ofĀ more. The world says becoming the best possible version of yourself, achieving that lifelong dream, or making a renowned name for yourself are the keys to unlocking your full potential and thatĀ more for you. As if it could be reached if we strive enough.

But what if accepting thatĀ more can not and will not be reached on this temporal earth is the true release from the unsettled, discontent, purposeless fear we’re feeling? Maybe the greatest freedom will be found…

Read over this C.S. Lewis quote at least twice.

“The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why.Ā The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God…Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns,Ā but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”

(Read it again! Gah, it’s sooo good and on point!)

Let us never mistake this world for home. He allows fun and merriment, and glimpses of what we were created for/what we will be returning to one day, but we can also accept that on earth we’ll never feel constant, settled happiness and security!

That will only be depressing to the one who doesn’t have an active hope in God. As a believer in God’s omniscience, He knows best for me, for you, and for our mindsets. He allows that sense of unsettledness, with peeks into happiness and security, like short stays at an inn, so we get a taste of what eternity will be like.

I realized this week and after reading this Lewis quote to accept that more will only be glimpsed and not wholly reached in this life. I must trust Him in the waiting; believe the discontentment has its purpose; and return my gaze to Him when it starts wandering to the securities of this world as my identity.

I hope this encourages you or touches a part of your life as it did for me. Please share any thoughts or questions in the comment section below!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

telling all: body image

Body image: TheĀ subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body.

With complete transparency, this has been one of the greatest strongholds in my life. It started when I was 8-years old and mistaken for a boy by a server at Perkins, despite wearing a pink and purple floral dress. (Side note, neverĀ let your daughter have a pixie cut until she’s…actually never let her get one. It still boils my blood that I looked like round-faced Justin Bieber til 7th grade.)

Add to those feelings of not being feminine enough a lanky height that made me taller than everyone in the class. A never-ending battle with acne and the late development of features that may add to a womanly figure were the sprinkles on top of this ice cream sundae I wanted no part of.

Only by the grace of God putting mentors and women in my life to encourage and challenge me in this was I able to start the healing process after years of self-criticism and others’ damaging comments.

2016 has been the greatest year in terms of dedicating myself to healthy eating and consistent exercise, leading to such a different mental state. I’ve been realizing lately how many years of my life were wasted feeling uncomfortable in my skin, and even if I don’t achieve some cultural standard of “good enough”, I’ll decide to have a positive, self-encouraging body image.

Remember the definition of body image? TheĀ subjectiveĀ picture of one’s own body. We can literally choose how to view our bodies, so why waste time and emotion on feeling bad about it all the time? That was the habit I was in but am slowly but surely changing.

My inspiration for writing this came the other morning as I realized the thoughts for my body had changed. (Yes, I’ve been eating right and staying active, so the nutrients and endorphins may have played a role in the sudden positivity.) It was truly as if a tangible shift had occurred in my conscious thoughts. I felt empowerment. I felt contentment. Content in the knowledge that I have exactly the body God created my soul to be encapsulated in; the body that He’s equipped for a specific purpose on this world that will ultimately bring Him glory.

When I get outside of myself and remember Who I’m living for, it seems a small thing really to fret over that one problem area…okay, or 3;). I don’t have time to waste my emotional energy on shame and jealousy and embarrassment anymore.

Remember, this is not your practice life. Let’s live it less out of habit and more out of intent.

 

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

 

 

Dear Bob & Patti,

I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you goofballs.

Dad, you Facebook message me cat videos and insane political stories every day, and I LOVE it. You keep me current.

Mom, I live off of the pins you send me via Pinterest, and your random Snapchats because you haven’t quite figured out how to use this simplest of social media platforms cracks me up every time.

Dad, I can’t keep up with all the networking connections you send my way! And when I reflect back on the amazing opportunities God has blessed me with, it started with your ridiculous boldness to meet anyone and everyone and proceed to tell them about your writer/actress/singer/lawyer/doctor/journalist/astrophysicist daughter (by the way, I’m none of these things!).

Mom, it blows my mind how two souls can be so similar and understand one another and even sync missing each other at the same time from 2,000 miles away. You gave me this travel bug, though, so it’s really your fault.:P Truth is, sometimes I just crave a Mom hug. I live for our dance sesh’s in the kitchen to “You’re So Beautiful”.

Watching you two as I’ve grown has deepened my faith and resolve to live my life with purpose. You have modeled a marriage founded on Christ for 28 years for me and those around you. That is an absolutely priceless gift you’ve given to the world.

Thank you for loving and living so well. I appreciate you, Bob and Patti, your hearts, your quirks, your Netflix binges that rival any college student, and your walks with Christ.

Oh, and happy belated Anniversary, you lovebirds, you.

stay lovely,
the tall girl

p.s. take the time right now to write a letter to someone you appreciate.

 

When I…

When I compare my raw, behind-the-scenes life to others’ social media highlight reel, I have to force myself to take a step back, breathe, and remember life is messy and beautiful…for everyone.

When I’m tempted to feel down for not having achieved “enough” thus far, I remind myself of the victories I have had (and there is still so much ahead!).

When I look around and self-criticize for not being like others in whatever aspect I’m feeling insecure about that day, I look up and remember He made me exactly as He wanted me to be in His perfect plan and He is continually perfecting me.

When I people-please and then feel empty when I perceive they haven’t accepted me, I rest in knowing God’s acceptance is all that matters because human opinion will always be petty and changing.

When I haven’t posted a blog for months and feel like I’ll never be inspired to write ever again, I give myself grace and crank something out that was laid on my heart over the past few days!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

Has My Dream…Come True?

I barely finished reading the subject line on the email before I was dancing around the kitchen like a maniac. The term ‘dancing’ is used loosely, for it would be better described as a combination of jumping, thrashing, and knocking everything over in a 5-foot radius of my flailing arms. The first innocent bystander to see me in that state was my mom. I pulled her into my crazy dance, then looked her in the eyes.

Tears welled up as I told her, “I’m the top blogger for the month of January on StudentUniverse!” I had the shakes, and I hardly managed to read every word of that email by the StudentUniverse blog manager, describing how my blog posts reached over 10,000 views in the respective 9 and 6 days that the 2 were on the site.

There was even triple the average amount of time engaging with the content than with any other blog content in January.

My dream for the last 2 years has been simple: be a travel writer. Breaking that down, this means being paid to write on my travel experiences. (FYI, the top blogger per month on StudentUniverse is paid a nominal amount as a token of gratitude for sharing their travel smarts!) I’m still in absolute shock that this happened, and my praise immediately went to the Lord for orchestrating this and to my support system of friends, family, and wordpress followers (LOVE YOU ALL), who made this happen! Thanks for clicking on that link, reading through those posts, and sharing with your fellow adventurers!

IMG_7944
Me, Anna, & Sky>>>bƦs&espresso in Israel

In case you missed them, you can get up to speed onĀ Backpacking Like a Boss on a College BudgetĀ OR determineĀ Where to Backpack By Personality Type!

I can’t thank you all enough for reading, enjoying, and spreading the word. There’s someone out there with wanderlust hidden deep down, needing a little encouragement to go out there and see this beautiful world!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

 

 

2016: The Year of Sacrifice

Our new family tradition is to choose just one word to focus on in the New Year, as opposed to a list of lofty goals usually given up on by February.

I started thinking about my word for the New Year around Thanksgiving, and contemplated it while serving at the Missionaries of Charity Mother Teresa Home in Calcutta in December. In hindsight, it seems like an obvious choice for a word to focus on, considering the poverty and destitution I was so exposed to. Truth be told though, itā€™s an uncomfortable word to have. Continue reading “2016: The Year of Sacrifice”

When the Empire Falls

As I hurried down the metro stairs to catch the train out of Paris, I saw the mother with her empty stroller just in time to slow down as I rounded the corner. Her little boy had almost achieved a great victory as his stubby toddler legs escalated the final step.

IMG_1139I couldnā€™t help but stop and beam down at him as I tried to understand his world. Each 6-inch step was a 14-er mountain, one block along an avenue with his mother was a half marathon.

He looked up from his intense focus on climbing, and I immediately started clapping andĀ ā€œcheeringā€ for him. The smile that lit up his face was too perfect. My surprise grew as he flung his arms wide, stumbled/ran to me, and wrapped his short arms around my calves, the highest he could reach.

My day was made. No fancy ordeal, no exotic new sight or taste, just a baby. Trusting without hesitation; innocent and perfect.

The wheels started turning. As the Parisian city skyline faded into rolling green hills of Chantilly, I thought of my travels. How was it possible that this 45-second interaction in a grimy subway station could have such a great impact on me? Even more so than the other events of the weekend, which I had truly enjoyed! Picnicking under the Eiffel Tower, acting like a local at the Sunday open-air market, exploring the City of Light in its high-fashion craze and juxtaposing architecture galore.

We can attain fame and popularity, money or a ā€œquality of lifeā€ we nestle comfortably in, and create an empire for ourselves. So why are there so many depressed and anxious people, searching for whatā€™s missing in their life?

This post isnā€™t to give you my opinion on this, although I of course have one. Itā€™s much easier to read an op-ed, say something like ā€œinteresting perspectiveā€, and then completely disregard and forget about it 20 seconds later. No, this is much too important an issue for that.

Instead Iā€™m proposing a heart search. What is (who are) the most important thing (people) in your life?

But are you living like it?

stay lovely,
the tall girl