Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend Getaway: The Pine Barrens

     Every once in a while it is good to have a getaway. Whether it be a vacation to a faraway place or even somewhere not too far from home, taking a few days away gives your mind a chance to press rewind. I spent the weekend with a few friends by the Pine Barrens in a cute cabin by the lake. I bought a sleeping bag for the first time and boy am I glad I did. The unexpected cold had us all huddled together with 20 layers of clothing and zipped up like Hot Pockets in our sleeping bags. 
     We visited a nearby Winery, told stories, roasted marshmallows, had a classy dinner including homemade pasta sauce (and everything else you can imagine at an Italian dinner ;)...and finished the night dancing around our small cabin. Not your typical outdoorsy experience, but who says you need to follow any specific guidelines right? :) Here are a few photos I took...Happy Monday!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015

     As humans, we often think we need to constantly do and prove things to be saved by God. That somehow there is a way we can "buy" or secure our salvation if we do. Truth is though, there is nothing we can do or say that will make us good enough in front of God's eyes. Not being a "good person". Not giving money to the poor. Not Religion. Not doing good things. Not giving up our favorite candy bar for a month. Nothing we can do, can ever make us righteous before God.  
     You see, though we tend to compare ourselves to one another based on what we do.... God sees us as all the same. We are all separated from Him by our sins.... our bad decisions that affect our daily lives. But see here is the good news... God loves each and every one of us so much, that He provided a way for us to walk back into His loving arms and be truly, entirely forgiven. 
     He sent His own son, Jesus Christ to be born on this Earth as a man, to walk, live, and be tempted in every way that we could be. But Jesus, the only truly righteous man that ever lived... lived His entire life sinless, and walked in total love. He hungered, He cried, He laughed, and He loved... just like you and me. He also feared knowing His time was at hand, but willingly suffered and took our wrongs. Jesus, truly innocent accepted all of our past, present, future sins....and offered His life in exchange for our freedom. 
     But why? If we constantly fail Him, aren't good enough... why would He do such a thing? Because He loves us. He didn't do it to get anything from us. He did it because He loved us and always will. He just wants our hearts. What Jesus did can't be bought.... because it was a gift. It was free, that's why it's called grace. 
     Jesus actually died. He took with him all of my fears, my doubts, my selfishness, and weaknesses to the grave. But a love so wondrous, so amazing, so great.... cannot be contained in a tomb. Jesus came back to life... TO LIFE!!! He conquered the one thing we fear most: death, and He set us free once and for all. He made me a new creation, so that through Him... I no longer need to be perfect, I am set free. So you may wonder, how can I be set free? What do I do?
     Believe. It is never ever too late to call on upon His name. No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter what anyone says about you.... it is never too late in your life to reach for God. Don't wait to have things together in your life... come exactly as you are, where you are. He waits for you with open arms. Happy Easter!

For it is by grace that you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. 
-Ephesians 2:8

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Awakening

     I love the Spring. Besides the much dreaded allergy season that strikes many of us... the Spring is like a long awaited celebration after a season of bitter cold. To me the Spring is like an awakening for the soul. The simple joy of taking a walk outside and smelling the sweet dew after the rain, the bare trees now springing up life again with blooms and leaves, and the warm sunshine rays kissing your cheeks. 
     It's a season of growth, of new ideas, plans that were on hold in the winter season that can now bring new life. How beautiful is it to know that after the Winter will always come the Spring? I believe to truly enjoy and appreciate the Spring, one must know and experience the Winter. It's funny how our lives themselves mirror the seasons and nature, but I don't find it a coincidence at all :). Here are a few projects I have worked on, inspirations, and my thoughts in photographic form. Happy Wednesday! 

50 Waves of Ombré ;)
Sunsets never cease to amaze me.
Jesus + Nothing 
Dolci Italiani = My favorite. 
Beautiful lonely star shining brightly.
My Mamma's delicioussss Easter Pastiera di Grano. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Seasons of Stillness

    In today's world most of us can barely catch up with what is going on today, let alone think about what tomorrow will bring. And yet among all of that busyness we still immerse ourselves in planning out every.single.detail of our future. I mean we are the society of "ME? NO I CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP...GOTTA HUSTLE HUSTLE HUSTLE!!" We have become in a sense so obsessive with having the perfect future, perfect home, and perfect career... that sadly I feel we have completely forgotten how to live in the present. The irony of it all though, is that we can plan all we want but we have no idea how our futures will turn out. 
     There is nothing wrong with fighting for what is placed on your heart and the life you desire. I'm actually all for it but until now have fallen for the same thinking and daily routine. After all, if every one else thinks that formula is the best way to success... it must be the way right? Not exactly. I am coming to understand that perhaps this type of fast pace living isn't exactly what our lives were meant for. 
     There comes a time when all of us go through one or many "seasons of stillness", meaning that you may be going through a period in your life where you feel like nothing is moving. Perhaps everyone around you is "successful", and well you feel sort of left behind. If I were in a classroom right now, I would be the girl in the back with her head down in shame and slowly raising her hand to this truth. I'm guilty of struggling with this a lot. But what we don't realize is sometimes those "seasons of stillness" are the greatest blessings in disguise.
     During these times of stillness, we discover what we truly need in life. I feel as though God sometimes purposely allows things in our lives to slow down or be taken away solely for the purpose of seeking Him. Isn't that when we are most vulnerable? When we feel there is no one left to turn to, and we wish that someone or something would just hear our cries? 
     I know that feeling. That gut feeling and pain in your heart where you just feel helpless, and that it won't get any better than this. But what seems to us like a wasted period of time in our lives... is actually quite the opposite for God. You see what may seem to us as disadvantages, God actually uses to help us grow. Isn't that amazing? Think about it. There are so many things in life that require growing, that we may not even realize. 
     Trees are one of the most magnificent things in nature. With their great branches that stem out, they leave us all in wonder. Yet, trees go through many seasons. In the Winter, a tree may seem "dead". It doesn't have any leaves, and is exposed. Yet, those strong branches that are exposed, are actually the foundation of the tree. Without it, it wouldn't be possible for the beautiful, colorful leaves that grow in the Spring. 
     Beautiful things take time. The beauty that will be revealed in us needs a solid foundation to grow from. And so God seeks our hearts. Our lives were not meant to be perfect... but purposeful. He intended our lives to have a perfect balance of work and rest, and sometimes the only way for us to truly find Him is to go through seasons of stillness. Though we may not like it... we can be rest assured that after the Winter comes the Spring. 
      The most amazing times in our lives aren't perfectly planned. They come just when we thought nothing great could possibly happen to us. If you are in a "season of stillness", take the time to seek Him and see where He takes you. He has the most wondrous plans for us and the best it truly yet to come... I promise. 

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, 
which yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. 
In all that he does, he prospers. 
Psalm 1:3