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Recently, with the depletion of internet from my home I have less distracting me from diving into my “to read” list …  and you know what? I kind of love it.

I was gifted a Kindle Paper White for Christmas (Thanks mom!!), and I have fallen in love with it. It is so light, so I always try to carry it with me outside of the house, and now I find myself reading so much more often. WIN. While away in Africa the last two weeks and spending a lot of time in planes/cars, I found plenty of opportunities to finish some really greats reads this month. So if you’re looking to dive into some inspiring page turners, I highly recommend any of these four books below!

Redeeming Love – This book. Oh  my goodness. Back in January my brother’s mother-in-law recommended this book to me, and she was absolutely right when assuming I would love this read. Taking place in California during the 1850’s, this story is a beautiful example of redemption and forgiveness. Angel, a young girl who was sold into prostitution at a young age grew to believe that there were no good men. They all wanted one thing and love did not exist. When she meets Michael Hosea, a man who God calls to save her from her tragic life, she quickly learns that she was wrong about love. It was incredible to see her stubbornness against men fade away as she learned the true meaning of unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace.

 Invisible Thread – This book was recommended to me when getting to know a new client/friend, an avid book lover as well 🙂 I feel like whenever I finish a book I declare it to be a new favorite, but when I say this is my favorite book I really, really, realllllyyyyy mean it. A true story of a successful business women who one day meets a young boy begging for money on the streets of New York. Although she passed by him at first, she felt a nudge to walk back to him and buy him a meal. From there they built a beautiful friendship that saved him from repeating a life of drugs and abuse that he only ever knew from his family upbringing. A true story that inspires you to take a chance on people.

Packing Light – My sister was kind enough to give to this to me as a gift before venturing to Africa. A perfect read as I was about to adventure on a new journey myself. This is a true story of a 26 year old girl, Alison, who quit her job to travel all the States and pursue writing. She left her apartment, a new relationship, and sold anything that could not fit into her car. She dealt with heart break, fear of the unknown, financial stress …  you name it, but she learned to follow her dreams and live a life with less baggage. I loved her bravery and her flaws that she overcame.

Wreckage –  Despite the fact that this book is about a plane crash, I could not stop reading it during my long flight back to Chicago. I have not read a Fiction book in a long time that has had me craving to keep turning page after page, not wanting to stop so I could find out what happens next. I fell in love with the characters and their battle to live on an island and survive before they were ever found, which was not for two years. Yeah … no big deal. Also, I loved the ending. I feel like I have been so dissatisfied when I come to the conclusion of a book, but when I finished this I felt like it came full circle. Please read this, someone, so we can meet for coffee and talk about it 🙂

Find me on Goodreads!

What I wrote below feels a bit nerve wrecking to share with whomever takes the time to read. However, this blog is not just a place to share the lives of those I photograph, but to share my life and the raw emotions that come along with it as well. I am learning to overcome a lot of what makes me want to crawl under my bed and hide from, and maybe this will be relatable to at least one person and an encouragement to not let fear control the beauty of what life has to offer. We’re in this beautiful mess of a life together, friends.

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WOW — I can hardly believe it is down to just 9 days before I leave for Africa. This past Summer, I got to know and become good friends with a group of people who started a non-profit called, Venture Corps. Since getting to know these friends of mine, the talk of this non-profit came up in conversation quite often, and I became curious about their mission. Then back in November, I even had the opportunity to help this team rent a space at Moveable Feast to host a fundraiser. It was fun playing a small role in helping them put together an evening experience for current and future donors, learning about their passion to serve their partners in East Africa, Ronnie and Mary.

When dates were being thrown around for a group trip to Uganda, I realized I could go during my off season with weddings. For the handful of people I am traveling with, there was not a hesitation to book flights when they found out it was feasible to go. However, the process for me to come to the conclusion to go or not has been an emotional roller coaster. I completely exhausted the topic and probably annoyed many along the way, I’m sure 😛  I had many fears about going that I drove myself a little nuts thinking about — feeling unproductive not working, missing out on jobs without being able to meet in person, expensive flight costs, illness, friends seeing some really REAL sides of me (i.e. crabby, tired, emotional) … I feel like I could keep going, but basically I know the biggest part was that it was WAY OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE. It is a part of the world I have never experienced, and I felt scared of getting to know a side of myself I had not yet met.

How did I finally make this decision? Did I work through all my fears and completely come to a place of peace? Nope. I booked this trip BECAUSE of those fears. I truly feel God wants me on this adventure, and since booking He has already begun the change on my heart. It is one thing to experience the adrenaline of booking a flight to Africa, it is a whole other thing to have months to sit and worry. I thought the scary part would be being IN Africa, but it turns out it has felt scarier to leave.

So here I am. Scared but certain that I serve a God who has complete control over my life. Certain that even the hardships I face while I’m away will be conquered. Grateful for the friends I get to travel with, and excited to meet the people Venture partners with, and to be able to photograph in a beautiful part of the world.

I look forward to coming back and sharing with the world all that I have learned and the beautiful backdrops I was able to stand amongst with people I love.

*I will be out of the office February 6-22nd but will have access to email for those inquiring for wedding/portrait services*