Lo Lo McFlo

It's so funny how God works sometimes. I think about how all that I know now was planned out before I was ever a thought or an idea. He's known me since before time, and He placed me in the exact family that only He could know would produce the person I am today. If I was the ruler of my own life, I would never ever have thought to put myself in the family I ended up in, with the mom and dad and siblings that I have now. But that's why He's so wonderfully better than us. He knows much more about us than we know about ourselves, and He know's what we're gonna need and when. I got blessed with my family, mess and all. And I love showing them off to the world. Below you'll find the transcription of an interview I did with one of the best humans I know, my sister Laura. She let me ask her a bunch of silly questions to get only the most beautiful answers that show the grace and wonder that is held within her. 

ANNA : So Laura, what do you want to tell me about yourself? 

LAURA : Hmm.. I guess I'll start off telling you about the things I love most about life. I aspire to cultivate dreams in people and live my life through dreaming. To have faith in the Lord to accomplish something that's impossible to do on my own. Seeing the impossible become possible is probably one of the most incredible things I think we can experience here on earth. So that's what I love about life, that we get to experience those things. What else about me? Well, I love LOOOVEE to cook! Just because I feel like it's the perfect mixture of creativity and organization. I love it because there is so much balance, you can be so free through expression or you can follow a certain pattern, and I love that. 

ANNA : I love that that's the first thing you think of to tell me. You instantly go deep and tell me what you love about life. Most people would be like, 'well, my favorite color is blue...' but you get right into it!

LAURA : Haha! The only reason why I do that is because I think it is so important to live out of passion. And to inspire passion. Because that is what adds value to life and what adds value to people. I like to ask deeper questions, the questions that require deeper answers.

ANNA : What else do you love? 

LAURA : I love to travel and to see other cultures and how they interact. And I love to see where different foods come from!

ANNA : What is it that you love most about this stage of your life?

LAURA : Well the first thing I think of is spontaneity. I feel like this place and season is just a circus of adventure and exploration and finding yourself, but also having fun relationships and doing whatever you want whenever you want! I just love the developmental years. You really step into who you are during these years, as well as figure out who you mesh with friendship and relationship-wise. What you like in life, what you don't, what you're good at... and I also think your 20's are the height of your health. You can run and not sleep and live on pure adrenaline and fun!

ANNA : That is so true! I really love being in my twenties as well. So why BIOLA?

LAURA : Mmm. That has been such an interesting question to think about... I am coming to learn that I am here at BIOLA for many reasons. For one, the Lord has provided for me in crazy ways to be here because He has a bigger purpose for me being here that I am supposed to continuously tap into. I am also learning the weight and privilege that it is to be taught things out of a biblical perspective. It's literally life changing. I will go from a Marriage and Counseling class to Theology, which describes why marriage is impactful in the Bible and what the Lord thinks about it. Then right after that I go to Psych of Family, and the classes all interlace. Underneath it all there is this predominant theme of Christ above all. It teaches me how we should live in regards to this truth over our profession and money and materialism and such. So those are huge reasons why I have come to know "Why BIOLA".

ANNA : Wow dude that is so crazy. There is such a beautiful story in your life unfolding... So Laura, tell me your friendship values!

LAURA : Ok! Well, this is also something I have come to learn more about this year. It is both so simple and yet so radical. One of my professors put it this way: Our value in communing should be to be interested rather than to be interesting. How profound that is! Our society has lost the importance of being interested in people, and instead they fight to be interesting. Through this mentality you lose the beauty of truly knowing others. In my friendships I hope and aspire to be interested in them and try to ask better questions and require deeper answers. To inspire people to gain knowledge of themselves through being friends with me. I want it to be an experience where they find themselves and the Lord more so through friendship with me. I think the value is being able to do life with people, but do it through their perspective, and we learn from knowing others that way.

ANNA : That perspective really is beautiful. Thinking that way really does change everything. Think about how precious each moment with someone would feel like if we lived like that, instead of rushing through it to prove something about ourselves. 

LAURA : Yes! Or becoming something you are not. It's not about you in the friendship, it's about getting to know THEM. You should already know you.

ANNA : What if you don't already know you?

LAURA : Exactly! I think that's where friendship gets messed up. People don't know themselves well enough and haven't found true confidence yet to know the differences that sit within the other person and the beauty of those differences. 

ANNA : So what makes you a good friend?

LAURA : I think my loyalty is one of my greatest attributes in being a friend. Honestly, if it were to come down to a close friend compared to a concert or a party or something, I would always pick to spend time with that person over everything else. It's funny because I'll be writing a paper or something and one of my friends will come and sit down with me and I'll be like, this is my value, this is more worth it, and I'll just push off my homework and not do it...

ANNA : Haha! Where do you think that stems from in your life?

LAURA : My dad probably. Just because I've seen the way he is so invested in us, but could potentially push off other things. Which, I don't really know if that's good or bad! I also think the Bolivian culture has something to do with it. It's the cultures I've been exposed to that have helped me to realize this: things on this earth fade, but people remain. We might as well take as much time as we can to invest in people, even over a job or work or having a steady income. 

ANNA : think about all the beauty and fascination that we miss out on because we're so self-absorbed and stuck in our own bubbles! 

ANNA : What is your biggest deepest dream? I know you have a lot... but what is the biggest one?

LAURA : On a grand scale, I would say to master the ability to combine my love for cooking and creativity into personhood: into rescuing, healing, and restoration. And that looks like the House. Bella's House. I think the reason why that is my biggest dream is because it is tapping into the spiritual realm, by allowing the Lord to completely ordain the entire dream without me tainting it at all with my humanity. To see that come to life and become a reality would rock my world in seeing who the Lord really is. And also my biggest dream is to know the Lord and all He can do, here on earth. The Lord reveals Himself so much to me through dreams, like the cooking one, and that's why I would want to develop the House so that I could help others to realize their dreams and how the Lord is in all of them. 

ANNA : So tell me, who is Bella and what is Bella's House?

LAURA : Well, that's a long story. 

ANNA : Try to say it in five minutes!

LAURA : Ha! Okay. So Bella is a promise. God's Promise. That's actually what her name means, and I think the promise is how the Lord takes brokenness and transforms and redeems it into wholeness. That comes through knowing who you are, realizing your dreams, then having community come along side and help foster your dreams, and finally sending you out to share with others. This Promise leads me to Bella's House. The House is a dream center for girls rescued from Human Trafficking to come and be a part of a community that is already strong and a leadership that is bonded in the unified vision. Through this house, the girls can be counseled through past trauma, hopefully receive healing through that process, and then be encouraged in their gifts and skills for their futures. God says that we are born into Sonship. And I believe once we accept this gift of Sonship, we are given a whole new life. I want, through the House, to help the girls find their identity and purpose, and then give them to tools to go out into the world and impact others with their talents and passions. And Bella is the reason why all of this started. 

ANNA : Tell me about her.

LAURA : She was a little girl my roommate Ashton and I read about about six years ago that we've been praying for this whole time. She got left in human trafficking after a raid where a group of people went in and tried to rescue as many girls as they could, but she was left behind. Since then we've been praying for her that she would find rescue, and even that the Lord would be near to her in the times we sense she's not out of the trade. She has come in the sense of dreams and visions to Ashton and I, literal and figurative ones. How do I explain it... it's acting upon what hasn't been seen. She is our piece of what has not been seen, but our actions have been spurred on because of her. To me, that is faith. I think through this the Lord took faith and put it into a tangible figure for us to then move based upon that one thing. 

ANNA : What age would she be now?

LAURA : She was 5 when we read about her, so she would be 11 now I think. 

ANNA : Do you think you'll see her someday?

LAURA : I do, yeah. I don't know when or how, it could be after we die for all I know, but I really believe that she is not the end goal of all of this, but she is definitely a reward of this dream if that makes sense.

ANNA : Yeah, it does. Wow Laura, I can't wait to see what comes of all of you and Ashton's dreaming for this House and for Bella. 

ANNA : You're stranded on an island. What three things do you bring with you?

LAURA : Oh man. I hate this question, it's so confining! Ok this is gonna sound cliche but my Bible would be one of them. Um... and a magic lamp that grants me three wishes.

ANNA : Haha niiice. 

LAURA : Hmm.. maybe rope? because rope is so useful. And then probably my family. that would be my third thing.

ANNA : That's cheating! it has to be only one thing...

LAURA : Haha gosh this is hard! OH a water purifier! that's what I would bring for sure.

ANNA : Oh I would for sure bring one of those too... good one. So what are your current views on dating?

LAURA : Okay. I have learned a lot about this subject in the past few years. I have been so sought after, and I have also been such a seeker in the dating realm. But I've come to this place recently, finally, where I am content in being open to having fun and letting the Lord teach me a lot from the opposite gender, but not being anxious in finding what I think I need. Because I think what we think we need usually isn't really what we need. I really think the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves in this department. He knows what kind of person we would do best with, and yet He tests us by making us wait for it. And trust me, I feel like I've waited long enough! Haha. I think it's healthy to not date seriously, but be with people and learn from them and relate to them and commune together, while remaining very honest and open throughout the process. I think that's a game changer. As long as your honest about where you are at and you're communicating that, I don't see how going on dates should be a problem. When it comes to serious dating though... that's a whole other answer that I'll have to get to later because I haven't figured that one out yet...

ANNA : Haha I don't know who really has figured that one out...

LAURA : True! I think that learning from the opposite gender is a truly awesome process. I think it reveals more about yourself than it does about the other person, honestly. But I am in a place where I am allowing myself to release my control and letting God have full control of that area in my life. I can honestly say that now, but I don't think I could a week ago! 

ANNA : What would you say your style is most like, in decorating and in fashion?

LAURA : Super caaash (casual)! Ooh, with decorating I love cool colors that make you feel cozy and warm. Lots of blues, whites, creams. When it comes to dressing, I will always choose comfortable over cute and sexy haha! I really like basic colors, black white and grey. Mayybe some blues thrown in there, but nothing else. I really do like simplicity. I think that our culture has robbed us of the beauty in simplicity, and has gone too complex. It says, change your hair, your face, change your boobs, your size, everything to go bigger and better in what isn't the raw and beautiful form that you were created to look like. Clothes are a distraction from that too, they can pull your attention and lose the beauty behind what you're wearing. 

ANNA : What do you do with your freetime?

LAURA : Freetime... what is that? 

ANNA : Hahaha!

LAURA : Can I tell you what I'd like to do if I had more freetime?

ANNA : Absolutely!

LAURA : I would read, draw, and cook. Those are the three things I WISH I had more time to do! 

ANNA : What would you read?

LAURA : All the Light We Cannot See would be the firs book, because everyone's been talking about how good it is. Gosh, I just have so many books besides that one that people have recommended, I would just go through the list I have. I would also spend more time with people. 

ANNA : What would you draw?

LAURA : Logos, I really like drawing logos! Because it's taking such a complex idea and making it simple. I like saying a lot within a little. Also, I would paint. I love to paint. I would hike, run, go to the beach more. Ugh, I would just sit there and do nothing. Or read. Yeah, that's what I'd do.

ANNA : Who are you most inspired by currently?

LAURA : I am inspired by Walt Disney. Going to Disneyland weekly is seriously therapeutic. I don't know how he did it, but I'm not even kidding, he would a way to bring everyone back to wonder. That is a very, VERY complicated thing to do in such an aggressive and progressive society. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. My professor was talking to me about this, how rare it is to stay in a state of wonder, but how life-changing it is. So he inspires me to do that. Also my professor inspires the CRAP out of me! Because he lives so authentically. He lives based upon himself, who he is, and at the same time values others for who they are, and it's incredible. 

ANNA : What's your go-to snack food? 

LAURA : Dangit. Wel here on campus it is...

ANNA : let me guess, bananas. and peanut butter and salt.

LAURA : YES! haha, it is! And toast. I don't know, with bananas you just feel healthy when you're eating them but they're also really filling... and they're light. And green bananas are the best, yellow bananas are disgusting. Green ones are tangy. So good. Toast, because it's also filling, with peanut butter, salt, and honey. A sweet and salty combination. And you can actually make it here on campus.

ANNA : What dish do you currently want to cook? 

LAURA : I want to cook Indian food really bad. Or Ethiopian. I just want to make a spread of all of the different dishes, like lentils and spicy meat and pitas. 

ANNA : Why do you like cooking? 

LAURA : Come onnn. Honestly there are so many components that make it amazing. You've got color, taste, smell, visuals, you've got the creative side of it where you can do so many things with just a few ingredients, and then you get to share an experience with someone. And the wonderful thing about cooking is that it's purely done for the sake of people experienceing it. So it brings people together. Like, think of any event: people always have food because it's what attracts a community. If you have food, you have people. I love what food does to people. It softens them, it breaks them down, and they're happy and together. 

ANNA : I would say half of my marital problems and fights happen because I get hungry haha.

LAURA : Haha! I could see that. It's so funny though, hunger is something we feel because we need something! Food is one of the most important things we need to survive.

ANNA : What do you like most about yourself?

LAURA : I like how the Lord has granted me the ability to maintain a sense of wonder. I think my innocence has allowed me to see beauty in very normal, not-beautiful things. I still feel like a kid so much of the time... growing up is a tricky game. It's hard because we allow people to trick us into thinking that responsibility is what brings maturity. But I think it's the exact opposite. Okay, not in the sense of responsibility, I just mean that I think growing down is growing up. The people that think you're weird and look at you weird for liking things like Disney, they've lost something. they've lost the ability to wonder why they are the way they are, or why God is the way he is. they've lost that beautiful sense of wonder. They become content with what life has to offer. If we don't want to be content with life, then we have to be able to ask ourselves and seek out more, to be in that state of wonder like a child is. 

ANNA : What's your biggest flaw?

LAURA : Oh man, where do I begin. I am irre-frickin-responsible. I forget things all the tiiime! Daily. Like, daily. Important things. I can isolate myself too. That's probably my number one thing, it's that I think I am the best at taking care of myself. I think I'm the only one who lives up to the standard, but also fails at the high standard I set for myself. So I end up not trusting people, not trusting people to do what needs to be done or to stay with me. I'm the only one I can trust, and that's a huge flaw. I count on myself for everything, but then I so easily fail and let myself down in everything. So it's this vicious cycle. 

ANNA : Who is your biggest fan?

LAURA : You...

ANNA : hahaha! 

LAURA : No I'm serious! I look over my life, and the one person who has consistently believed in me the most has been you. You've always fought for me. You've always prodded me to know who I am, and to figure out who I am if I don't. And then share that with people and be confident in that. I've never received that more from anyone else. And that's crazy that that characteristic is what you want to give to other people, it's why you're doing this blog! I think it's because I've seen it throughout all of life that I can be confident about that. It's just in you, it's who you are. Your confidence overflows, and you want other people to do the same. To know themselves. So you push people to know themselves.

ANNA : Wow. This wasn't supposed to be about me... You're so nice. I love you for that, thank you.

ANNA : Who do you want to be like? 

LAURA : Jesus. Haha! Honestly though. The Man was incredible. But if I had to pick a normal person, I would say... honestly anyone that I've read about who drops everything to pursue their dreams and who the Lord helps to get there. Like, I read about this woman who dropped everything and moved to Africa and adopted 12 boys. She's not married, she's 21, she started a House, it's incredible. 

ANNA : Do you wanna be a mom?

LAURA : Oh that's scary... but yes. Do I feel capable? No. 

ANNA : What are your goals of being a mom, or what kind of mom do you want to be?

LAURA : I think above all else I want to be a selfless mom. I want to be one that puts them before me, but knows the balance between how much I can give and giving it all in those moments, and taking breaks too. You can't just go go go and expect yourself to be %100 all the time. And I've been learning a lot about that... we expect ourselves to give at %100 even when we are running on %50. So to find that kind of balance between giving and resting. And to teach that in my kid. Oh my gosh, I can't even think about that it's so crazy to think about having kids someday! 

ANNA : Ha I know! One of my favorite things over the past however many years, has been watching you nanny the three kids Cooper, Inga and Sydney in Colorado. 

LAURA : Why is that?

ANNA : Because you always have the most creative ideas of how to have fun! Can you share some of those with me? and share what kind of traditions you wanna build? 

LAURA : Mmm. Well I want to have a little thing we do. Like our little secret between the two (or however many) of us. It will depend on what they are like though! Like what they like to do the most, I want to harvest that. If they like to draw, I want to create a whole room where they can draw in. Draw on the walls, and create maps and give them to people.. I don't know, things like that. But I also want to teach my kids about what I love, like the beauty of cooking. So we'll have "Fruit Fridays", where we'll go to the grocery store and I'll let them pick any fruit they want out of the whole store, then take it home and figuring out with them how to create something to eat out of it. Mostly deserts I'm thinking, because kids love sweets. Just so that they can love and see the process! I have been in this Psych of Family class and it talks about raising kids. The European culture heavily teaches their children how to create entertainment with the things around them. So I really do not want a heavy influence of technology in the home.. I'd want basic ingredients of fun in the home. Going on bike-rides, making forts, traveling with them, playing outside. Kids just care about if you are there, so if you're there, anything is fun. And I would want to set that kind of culture in my future home. 

ANNA : Okay, last question. Do you have any pet peeves?

LAURA : Oh, I have so many pet peeves. Living with a roommate has helped me realize what annoys me. And they're like the stupidest things ever! One of them is when I can hear someone flossing. The plucking sound? I HATE that! Also, when people clean their teeth. It's such an intimate area of your face, like just do it in private! 

ANNA : Haha I haaaate that! 

LAURA : I hate when people can't look at me in the eyes when they're talking to me. It just gives off the vibe that they're not interested in what they're saying and they aren't fully engaged. Also when freaking people in LA drive in the rain... they drive as if there was a tornado! all over the road! they go 10 miles an hour when its 80! I hate slow drivers, it's ridiculous. When people chew with their mouths open.. wow I have a lot haha. 

ANNA : Literally can't stand slow drivers... 

LAURA : OH. I HATE PHONES. when people are on their phones and they miss all these beautiful things in the world and god conversations and stuff! 

ANNA : Ok, officially taking that as advice. Less phones! 

 

 

Mama Bird

Anna Asbury has been a great friend and leader to so many women, including myself. Though I do love sharing a first name with her, what I love most about knowing her is being able to see the deep well of love she has for Jesus and the graciousness she has towards others. And how could anyone not be proud to have a friend who looks this gorgeous when being pregnant?! 

A MOOS : Okay so, you're very obviously pregnant! how did you find out, and what's the story?

ANNA A : Well, Cory (husband to Anna) decided we should have more kids. Ha! It freaked me out a little bit because I wasn't sure if I was ready to be pregnant again. But we decided to give it a shot. I thought there was no way that I would get pregnant quick, I thought I'd have a good 8 or 9 months to prepare, because I did with Gabriel and Lily. So it's been like 3 or 4 weeks, and I get in the mail this gift registry from Target. I was like, what?? Cory was out of town and it was so weird but I started to feel sick. And I was like, no way, there's no way. So I took the kids and rushed to the store, got the pregnancy test, took the test, barely even looked at it because I just thought there was no way. A little later I took a look and sure enough, it said I was pregnant! 

A MOOS : Haha I didn't know that, that's so funny! What's your favorite thing to wear when your pregnant?

ANNA A : Well it depends on what time during the pregnancy it is! In the beginning, it needs to be flowy, because you just feel so bloated. Then, second trimester it feels better to wear more tight fitting things, because you want people to know you're pregnant. And then third trimester... leggings and stretchy pants haha! And dresses feel really great too.

A MOOS : Oh yeah that floral floor-length dress you were wearing the other day looked so good on you!

ANNA A : Yeah, dresses really do feel good at this point, or really at any stage. It's also best to wear them in the summer, because you can wear them every day if you want. 

A MOOS : What do you feel is different about yourself when you're pregnant?

ANNA A : I am unafraid to say anything! haha. Usually I have a pretty good filter, but when I'm pregnant and I'm feeling something, I have no apprehension about saying exactly what I'm thinking. Sometimes that can be really awesome because I will say things that I may usually be more afraid to say, like I'll tell people about Jesus and I'll go into situations that I normally would feel more apprehensive about. On the flip side, if someone annoys me, they're gonna know!

A MOOS : Haha! So tell me about Kate! What do you know about her so far?

ANNA A : Well, her name is Kate River, and we felt pretty early on that we were going to name her after my grandmother who was a missionary to Kenya. She was also one of the first woman-pastors in Ohio. And I feel that mantle on Kate. The River part was because we believe she is going to carry a peace like a river or a stream, and that who she is is going to be a really peaceful, restful person. That she would carry a strength about her, but it would come from this place of humility and kindness. And that she would be very much in touch with the delight of the Father. I'm also hoping that she'll be a great sleeper!

A MOOS : I hope that for her too! So Anna, you've told be about Kate. Now tell me about you! Who do you see yourself as? 

ANNA A : The first thing I would say about myself is that I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father, and I have really made that my first identity. Secondly, I am a mom. I used to not really like that, or I used to be afraid of that. I thought that being a mom meant I had to give up all of my dreams. But what I have realized is that family is the most important and beautiful thing that I could ever give my heart and my life to. My heart really comes alive in ministry, I love to sing and I love to paint and to worship, and there's parts of my heart that really come alive when I do those things. But what I've realized is that Jesus is about family. He spent 30 years of His life, doing things that no one really fully knows about, but we know He was with his family. We know that 3 years of His life was His ministry, and 30 of it was spent with the family He was born into on earth. And I think that's a beautiful picture of what the Kingdom is supposed to really look like. So for me, though it's taken a while, my first callings that I've loved to discover is being a daughter, a mom and a wife, and leading through serving.

A MOOS : See, this is why I love interviewing people. I have a really small and unintelligent and scared view of being a mom, but hearing you talk about it gives me so much insight that I could never have found on my own or known from personal experience.

ANNA A : Totally, I mean it is definitely harder than not having kids. But I think what our generation has lost is the gift to see the beauty of family. And also that there is no greater thing on this side of time, than to be able to love and raise and give yourself to other people. I have now been entrusted with little ones. I used to think that ministry and love looked like giving up me, giving up Anna, being selfless and being a servant and giving up my life. What I have learned is that I was selfish when I wanted to be seen a certain way, to have certain dreams or to give in a certain way. I just didn't know how family could fit within those boundaries. These dreams are still alive, I still do ministry and serve. But my little people are the best gift that was ever given to me, and I get to build a legacy through what I do. What I teach them will go from generation to generation. The gospel of Jesus is all about creating our family. If I can't learn how to do that with my own husband and kids, then how am I going to do that anywhere beyond them? Because the place here I get my strength is within my home, with the Father, with my husband, and with my kids. Everything else needs to be overflow of that. 

A MOOS : That is so beautiful Anna. I know you are talking about the family aspect of the things that create who you are, but tell me what you would like to do through your life to impact the people outside your immediate family? 

ANNA A : I would say that I want to aid others in finding their identity as sons and daughters. I would hope that my life would be an example of that, and that it would inspire people to discover that for themselves. 

A MOOS : What was the first worship song you ever wrote?

ANNA A : "Where I Belong"! Well, it was the first one that was ever recorded. Cory and I were leading a set and I was sitting there as we were singing on of Jason Upton's songs. All of a sudden I got this phrase as we were singing, "I finally found where I belong", and I just started weeping on stage. It was because I had been searching so hard and striving in my heart for where it was that I really fit. I felt like I had all of these gifts and talents, but I didn't know in what direction to go with any of them. I was searching and searching and wanting a place to belong so badly, but I was looking to my talents and looking to people to say, come belong here! But in that moment I felt the Father say, "You belong with Me. In my Presence is where you're going to find fullness and the most belonging." So I started to sing that, and then we wrote a song out of it!  

A MOOS : I can't believe that was your first song... Because it has really stood the test of time. I feel like it's just as good and powerful as it was when you first wrote it. 

ANNA A : Totally.

A MOOS : So when did you first discover your love for worship?

ANNA A : When I was a really little girl. My parents were both worship leaders, and so it's just been such a big part of my life ever since I was small. I was super little, and my parents would pull me onstage, and we'd sing together. In our house there was always worship going on. I think that's what has kept my heart steady and set on the Lord. I didn't really have a huge falling-out with God. I just have loved to worship Jesus ever since I was little. And when there were hard times and I did fall into sin, there was still a cry in my heart to be close to Him and near to Him. Every family has their negative things, but I am so thankful for my parents who taught me how to worship. 

A MOOS : And in return, you guys are teaching your kids how to worship too. I love seeing that. As far as worship leaders go, who would you say is your biggest inspiration?

ANNA A : I have a few, but I would say the biggest influence would have been the Helsers. When I was 13 I went to my first worship camp with them. They taught me how to worship without this religious mask, just to be myself. I loved their worship because it was so raw, so real and hidden. They weren't big back then. 

A MOOS : Yeah, I feel like they still don't feel big even though they are now.

ANNA A : Yeah, it's because they keep it so intimate, even though their song is one of the biggest in all the world right now. I would say they taught me to lead people into worship in such a real way, to know that it's not a show. And then another is Misty Edwards, because her songs got me through some of the toughest times. Just beautiful, intimate songs of love to Jesus. Lastly is Jason Upton. His worship taught me how prophetic worship is so powerful. How worship sets are more than one fast song and one slow song, that there is a real God who is here speaking right now, who is wanting to be heard and to touch us. I fell in love with real worship through those people. And Cory Asbury!

A MOOS : Haha! Speaking of Cory, what does it look like to share a similar profession as your husband? 

ANNA A : Well it didn't start out easy. We were both pretty selfish when we started out at ages 20 and 21, when we got married. But we've grown up together. At first it was hard because we had to figure out the place where we got fueled internally. The reason why is because a lot of the times when you're doing ministry together and doing things together that are so similar, it's so easy to feel like you're connecting or getting full off of the actual ministry. But then you kind of lose sight about what is really important and how to really connect as a couple. So, it was rocky at first because Cory isn't actually fueled from the big events and the the teaching and discipling, but I am. So there was some tension there. But the tension is beautiful. For instance, when you look at a guitar, the strings play beautiful music because there's tension. And that's Cory and I's marriage. There's a tension because I'm an extreme extrovert and he can be extroverted, but he swings more on the introverted side, which means he needs time alone to get fueled. So in the beginning, there was tension and the music didn't sound very good... but we learned how to play really pretty music together in the last 10 years because we figured out where we get fueled, where we connect. Some of the most beautiful times we've ever had have been when we have time alone with the Lord, and then we come together and we share the overflow of what the Father is speaking to us. We now can even say to each other, hey what's going on, maybe you need to go spend some time with the Father, that tension isn't sounding too good right now! So our story now is mostly about how we have learned in our home about the source and where the overflow of our life with God affects our ministry. If ministry takes the place of the overflow that happens within our home, with our kids, in our marriage, it creates that unhealthy tension. We can connect so much now through our ministry because of that overflow within our home.

A MOOS : What's your favorite thing about your husband?

ANNA A : His compassion! And his tender heart. Cory is very discerning of hearts, and he is very tender with hearing, with our children, with me, and I love that about him. A lot of people see this ferocious, courageous, intense and super joyful guy on stage, or if you have a conversation with him sometimes people can think, oh, he's a little intense. But I get to see the tenderness of his heart all the time. How he'll cry at the drop of a hat, you know, over anything, if God is breathing on it. So that's my favorite thing about him.

A MOOS : That's so cool I love that about marriage! It unlocks things about the other person or yourself that most people probably won't see. It's the coolest thing ever, as if you have a bunch of beautiful little secrets.

ANNA A : It's really fun! One of our close friends who was at IHOP with us came up to me once, and he goes, I think I finally figured you guys out! I've been working this out for a long time... I could not figure out how Cory and Anna work together. But I now know that it's because you two are opposites. And I was like oh yeah, how? Then he said,  a lot of people think that I'm the really tender one and Cory is the extremely intense one. We can both operate that way, but maybe deep down I'm the one that is tenacious. And Cory was actually the really tender one deep down. And we both even each other out. And I couldn't agree more with him!

A MOOS : Me too! So, what is your favorite thing to do with your kids?

ANNA A : I love to read to them. 

A MOOS : What do you like to read to them?

ANNA A : Well, at certain stages it's different. With Lily it's usually anything really. I love books for kids because it unlocks so much imagination. I love picture books because I love seeing all the art, and I love watching my kid's eyes when they look at them and seeing these other worlds come alive to them and inspire them. Now, with Gabriel, we can read these chapter books, where in his head he's imagining these stories and picturing himself in these places where he is the warrior or he's conquering far off lands or in the middle of the mystery. I think as a mom it's such a powerful teaching tool, but also it's just so fun to watch their little imaginations come alive with these stories and see these beautiful things erupt in their brains. That's one of my dearest times with my kids. I love seeing Lily as we read these stories of fairies and castles and seeing her imagine herself as a princess. It's so fun to walk into a bookstore and go, Ok Holy Spirit, what is the book for my child that's gonna speak identity and destiny over them? I also love watching my kids with art. I love seeing how it connects to them and watching them have a beautiful reaction to it. 

A MOOS : Do you think they would ever enjoy just walking through an art museum?

ANNA A : Oh yes I think so. I think it's because I have opened up that world to them and it's beautiful in their minds. They watch me paint, and they watch their mommy and daddy sing together. There's just a creative side that we have opened up to them that has caused them to fall in love with beautiful things, and they notice it. You can see God in everything and hear Him in everything, or you can actually miss Him in everything. So I've tried to teach them that, to cause them to have wonder.

A MOOS : As you were talking that was the word I was actually thinking of that I love about you and your family. I have always loved how you and Cory have decided to set that kind of culture of wonder with your lives. Even at such young ages, it's evident that your kids appreciate the beautiful things and that they always are looking for it. (Anna and I were sitting outside, and at this point we saw a few birds in the trees in front of us.) Oh, look at that bird! It's so beautiful.

ANNA A : Oh, it's a cardinal! I love them. Every time I see one, do you know what it makes me feel? 

A MOOS : What?

ANNA A : It makes me feel like God is saying "I love you" to me. The first time I ever saw one, I felt like God said something to me. He said that every time I see one, it's Him reminding me of how much He loves me. So when I've had a hard day, sometimes I'll look outside and see a cardinal out there, and I'll be reminded how loved I am by God.  

A MOOS : So Anna, Tell me a little bit about She Paints Virtue

ANNA A : Okay! Well, I am almost 31. And at 29, you think you've already discovered all of your gifts, and you just have to pick which one you really want to go after at that point. Well... God had a different plan for me. He decided at 29 that it was a perfect time for me to discover a new gift, through painting! It's really funny, I went to this wine and painting event, and the painting I did was so bad! So I left going, I know I can do better than that. And everyone was laughing at me like, sure Anna, if you say so. But I just had this strong feeling that I could definitely do better! So I went home and I started painting this deer. While I'm painting it, I feel the Holy Spirit resting on me in such a tangible way. I was like, ok, I'm paying attention Lord. By the way it was with Gabriel's six-pack water color set...

A MOOS : Haha! I feel like you went to that painting event and didn't do your best because you weren't working with the right medium. You needed watercolors!

ANNA A : Yeah! And I was trying at that place to paint a picture that someone else had vision for, and it just wasn't working. So, I got done with my deer painting and was shocked with the results. I sent it to Cory and he was like, you did not just paint that... and I was like yes, I did! And I felt the Holy Spirit so strongly when I did, I think there's something more to this. So then we go to Israel right afterwards, it will be 2 years ago in August. While we were there, one of the guys on the trip who's a business guy has a word over me. He starts talking about how the Lord is going to use me in the arts, and he says to me, I don't know what you do, but I feel like God is gonna blow up a business that you're going to steward and you didn't even know that this was in your heart, but God sees it and has given it to you as a gift. And I am like woah... I hadn't even told anyone including Cory about some of the things in my heart pertaining to this, but this guy just brought it all up. So in the next few months I continued to paint, and then I felt like the Lord gave me a name one night when I couldn't sleep. I heard Him say it's gonna be called "Virtue", because what you are doing is you are painting these virtues. Even though you aren't painting specific words, people are gonna see and feel the virtue behind it. They'll feel inspired for justice and courage, and love and hope and compassion. Or they will feel like you are prophesying over them. And what I felt most is that I would do this over children. That I would be able to paint something for children that would be in their rooms and in their homes that they would see daily, and it would speak identity over who they are. So, I don't know exactly where it's gonna go, I have big dreams for it, but for now I'm just being obedient and I'm sending paintings out all over the world and praying that they bring hope and prophesy and life to dark places.   

A MOOS : I can speak for myself in saying that this was an obvious Holy Spirit-driven gift. I have been familiar with painting and lots of different kinds of art forms, and I have never seen anyone pick up watercolor as easily as you did.

ANNA A : It is definitely from Him, the Lord has really taught me everything about how to paint. I want to obviously be diligent to learn more, you know, now that I have this gift I want to steward it well. But the gift is really from Him.

Anna sells original paintings and prints on her Etsy site, and you can check it out Here. The process of the paintings is important and precious to her, and she pours herself into creating as well as praying over the right painting and feel for the pieces she creates. It is so evident that the Lord speaks through each one of her paintings, I encourage you to check them out! You can also follow her on Instagram Here for sneak-peeks of upcoming projects she's working on. 

 

Beach Babe

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking a trip to LA to hangout with my sister and my friend Ashton Strutz. I love these two girls with my whole heart, sometimes it hurts how much I love them! I've seen them go through so many phases of life, and i couldn't be more proud and inspired by who they are both becoming. I lived with Ashton and her family a few years ago, as well as traveled to Africa with her for a missions trip. Both experiences only grew our friendship deeper, and I have come to know Ashton as one of my bestest friends. So when I visited her in LA I knew I had to take some cute photos of her in her element and interview her a little bit about who she is so I could show her off! 

ANNA : So Ash, It's your birthday. The big Two-O! This week we spent some time celebrating your birthday. How do you feel about being 20?!

ASHTON : Eh. I don't know. It's weird because I feel like a lot of my friends freaked out when they turned 20. I know, it's a big deal. It feels like you're no longer a teenager. But because I've seen so many people go through that, I wasn't as freaked out. I think I was more prepared. But then again, I also don't feel like a 20 year old. 

ANNA : Really? How old do you feel?

ASHTON : Haha I have no idea... just younger I guess. 20 sounds big once I say it. But in my head I think I just feel a bit younger. Honestly, I think I just look younger. You know how when you're a kid, and you think of being 16 or 20 and you think to yourself, oh those people are so old! And you paint a picture of what it would look like... now here I am and it's really not like that. So it's not that my personality feels young, it's just weird to think about how I used to think of 20 year olds, and it doesn't feel like that. 

ANNA : Yeah! That's how I feel walking around here (Biola University). When you guys sneak me into the cafeteria, no one second guesses it or looks me over because I literally look like a freshman in college haha! 

ASHTON : Oh my gosh haha so true. But then again, what does a normal 20 year old really look like anyways? 

ANNA : Yeah, good point. Looking back, what things are you proud of in the last year of being 19?

ASHTON : Well, I'm proud of myself for switching my major. And I'm proud of myself for being happy my new classes. I think that I usually like anything I'm learning and find ways to get into it, but there's something about now having psyche and sociology that is so intriguing to me. I feel like I can use those in my life right now, rather than thinking about using what I learn in classes far in the future. And I'm also proud of myself for branching out and doing things that I wouldn't have done before. Like go places with people. I'm also proud of myself for applying for Australia.

ANNA : Of course! How come?

ASHTON : Because it's doing something that is so out of my comfort zone. Going to college was a big deal, but I had some sort of cushion in doing so. Going to Australia, I don't know anyone, I have no idea what it's going to be like. It's really fun to think about, but it's also scary. I just feel like anything that makes me comfortable where I am is being stripped away in doing something like that. 

ANNA : Oh for sure, it is. Tell me more about why you're proud of the relationship-side of the last year of your life?

ASHTON : I think that making lasting friendships is one of the most vulnerable things people can do. Mostly because you're waiting long enough for people to know the true side of you, and they've seen you in a lot of different forms. So in that, you're remaining vulnerable. and then they also recognize when something isn't right with you, and you can't fool them about it anymore. So I think maintaining those friendships has caused me to stretch and grow and change in ways that I otherwise wouldn't have because I have to really keep being vulnerable. And I have to keep hearing what I'm doing wrong, and then I also have to express to people what I need from them and how they've hurt me, which is probably even worse! Only because it's easier to shut down. But good relationships force you to open up and to keep sharing. 

ANNA : Who are you becoming then?

ASHTON : That's a big question! Hmm.. Okay, maybe I'm getting a little cheesy. But there's this C. S. Lewis quote, I can't quote it verbatim but it talks about how we sense that the Lord is building a house. And the house is us. So we're all excited and say 'yay he's building us a house!'. And then he starts tearing down walls. It hurts! And we ask, why are you doing that God, it doesn't make any sense! Then in the end, after all the pain and confusion of the process, we realize that the Lord had in mind a castle instead of a shabby little house that we had imagined. I think that this is what the Lord is doing in my life. I can't really see what He's doing, so in a way that gives me more faith that helps me believe it's much different and better than I could imagine for myself. I don't have as great of an imagination as Him, and it's His plan which makes me really happy because I don't have to control any of that. 

ANNA : Yes! That is so cool. What do you hope for this next year?

ASHTON : I really hope that my eyes will be opened. That I will be able to see different perspectives that I could never imagine. I want to be amazed and I want to be in wonder of the world and the things going on around me. I think I want this next year to be full of awe. I want to see the Lord's imagination more. I think that the world is a much more exciting place than I give it credit for, and I want my eyes to be opened to that. I want moments where I can stand and say, this was really created just to be enjoyed, just for the fun of it. 

ANNA : That seems very present-minded. I don't think you've directly said this yet, so where are you going?

ASHTON : I'm going to Australia! At first, I was debating between there and London. Well, technically I always originally wanted to go to Australia. But then fear kicked in, because all of my friends were going to London to study abroad and it seemed like the logical choice. I thought, maybe I'll just do that. I'll be able to be with people I know, see more countries, it was very logical thinking. Then I thought about it more, and realized Australia has always been my dream. I think I was settling for something that was more comfortable and safe. So I'm choosing the more risky, but bigger dream to go to Australia.

ANNA : But you're also going to London too, right?

ASHTON : Yeah, hopefully! My friend invited me to stay with her for a little at the end of my trip, and I'm hoping to make that a pit stop. 

ANNA : So awesome!!

ASHTON : Okay, this is a side note, but I learned about this thing in my Bible class, and I feel like it's happening! So C. S. Lewis, he's the friggin man by the way, talks about a concept. It goes like this: there's a first thing and a second thing. The first is our number one priority, which should always be God if you're a christian. The other is your second priority, which could sometimes look like getting married or having children. But C. S. Lewis talks about how if you mix up your priorities and you make your second priority your first one, then God isn't your number one. This will mean that your second priority will no longer be God-ordained. So it won't happen the way He would plan it for you. I've been thinking about this, especially along the lines of going to Australia. As soon as I decided to make my biggest dream (which was going there) my reality, I watched as God put everything in order. He has allowed me even more opportunities than just doing my number one priority, like being able to visit Europe as well. 

ANNA : That's incredible. I feel like what I'm hearing you say is that if you do the thing your heart really desires the most instead of what is safe, God will always make a way. He'll also sometimes add extra blessing.

ASHTON : Exactly! It's so crazy.

ANNA : It's so eye opening to me just by hearing your process how good God is and how good He's being to you. I just sense His goodness over this next phase of your life. 

ANNA : So, you're a traveler. What is it about traveling that you love so much? 

ASHTON : I love being able to experience things that I've never seen and see things through different perspectives. That's one of my goals for this next year. I also think traveling teaches me to live in the moment, because the present is just so wonderful and so different than anything I've ever experienced. It also allows me to marvel at the world and the things in it, as well as appreciate what I already have. I end up seeing the beauty of the place that I come from, as well as the beauty of the place I'm visiting. 

ANNA : Wow, that sounds so romantic! How have you been personally marked by a place you've been? 

ASHTON : Well, when I went to Swaziland, I saw so much joy in the people there. They had such a simplistic way of living, and not on purpose. This lead to them not seeking after the aimless things that we as Americans sometimes seek after. They just seemed satisfied with whatever they had. That idea has stuck with me ever since, the idea of trying to be satisfied with what I have. I also love the place! The landscape was so beautiful. I remember that one time we were walking to that older woman's hut with the little girl named Ante... it was so incredible and such a good memory for me.

ANNA : Ahh, Ante! She was so sweet and adorable. I miss that trip.

ASHTON : Me too...

ANNA : How would you describe yourself as a friend?

ASHTON : I like to listen, so I would say I'm a listener. Umm...

ANNA : Don't be modest!

ASHTON : Haha. This is a hard question though! I do like to encourage others. And I like to make connections with things that relate to the both of us. I love when I can relate to someone, because it shows me that we're not alone and it allows me to really appreciate and understand the other person that I'm with. I love to see new things in friendships all the time. I've been friends with Laura and you for a really long time, and I still feel like I'm learning new things about you two all the time. I love that! because there are endless levels to a person, you can never fully know a person, and that's so exiting to me. There are always new things to discover about someone.

ANNA : So who is your best friend and how did you two become friends?

ASHTON : Laura's my best friend! We met when she came to CSCS in the 7th grade. CSCS is a small school, so everyone knew that there was a new girl. We had a class together and sometimes we'd say say hi to each other, or make small talk. But the one time we really bonded was when we were both in the bathroom, and we were washing our hands. Laura went over and grabbed a paper towel and was drying off her hands, and somehow the paper towel got pretty wet. She went to throw it in the trash, but it fell on the floor and made this weird plopping sound. We both looked at each other when it happened, and just busted out laughing, and it was our first moment of friendship together.

ANNA : Haha of course that's how it started, laughing at something insanely stupid ha! What is so great about your friendship, and why has it lasted so long?

ASHTON : Oh man, everything. The one thing that really keeps us going though is communication. We have to talk about everything.

ANNA : You guys could teach a marriage seminar!

ASHTON : Haha! It seriously does sound like that! We just really do have to stay in touch and keep communicating though everything. Also, we both like to listen and have similar humor and we both really appreciate similar things in other people. We also have similar values and like to do the same kinds of things, and we share a common dream.

ANNA : Oh yeah? Speaking of sharing a common theme... tell me about Bella.

ASHTON : Oh my gosh, that is such a big dream!

ANNA : I know it's not a short story, so just do your best.

ASHTON : Yeah. So it started when I read through the book Redeeming Love. It was in 8th grade I think. That was at the beginning of Laura and I's friendship. The book is basically about a prostitute, and I started looking into more stories that pertained to sex-trafficking. I was shocked when I read them, because I didn't even know those kinds of situations existed in the world. I started reading up on the topic more, and I found a story about this girl and her cousin who were kidnapped and then sold into human-trafficking. While in a brothel, they met another girl who was around 8 years old, whom we now call Bella. The two cousins were eventually rescued when their Brothel was raided. However, a few girls weren't able to be rescued because some of the men got away with them, and this little 8 year old girl was one of the girls that got taken. This story just broke my heart. So I decided to start praying for that little girl, and I told Laura about it. I remember we were at Coram Deo, a youth group retreat, and we started praying about it then. As we were praying for her, I started to call her Bella and I didn't know why. It was just the name I gave her so I could call her something as I prayed for her I guess. Laura and I looked up what the name Bella meant, which stems from Isabella, and we found out it means "God's Promise". After that, I just felt so strongly that God was promising that He would redeem her and pull her out. That moment really ignited a fire within Laura and I and we still continue to pray for her and for all victims. This story has led me to really know what I want to do with my life, because of the experiences I have had reading many stories and praying through them.

ANNA : Why do you continue to pray for Bella or others?

ASHTON : Because I don't know where she is or where her life is at. Even if she has been rescued already, she is still a human who needs prayer. She's really been through a lot. I want to pray for her continuously because I know through prayer brings comfort. I think it's the most powerful thing anyone can do for someone. Prayer is giving the situation to God, and that's what I want to do with my life. 

ANNA : Do you think you'll ever meet her?

ASHTON : I do. I know it sounds crazy, but I really do. I believe that the Lord has that in store, and that the Lord will take her out of trafficking someday. And I believe that Laura and I will be a part of that process. 

ANNA : Wow. Ash, I can't wait to see this story unfold. You are so brave.  

ANNA : If you could picture the unfolding of your life, what does it look like 5 years from now?

ASHTON : Well, Laura and I want to open our own "Mission" for human trafficking victims. I don't know if thats going to happen in 5 years, but hopefully I'd be working towards that goal. Hopefully I'll be in a different country, most likely Europe, working towards our House for girls.

ANNA : I hope you are there too! So Ash, what do you believe God says about you? 

ASHTON : I believe He says so much about me. But I think one of the craziest things is that verse that talks about having my name written on His hands. It is just so beautiful and it shows what's important to Him. Also, one of my favorite passages is Isaiah 61. Even though it's talking about Jesus, I feel like the Lord has proclaimed a lot of that passage over my life. The setting of captives free, releasing people from chains. I think the Lord has done so much of that for me and given me so much freedom, that I want now to give that gift to people through my life.   

The Desert Violet

One of my favorite things to do is show off my awesome friends! Jordyn and I have bonded over many things, including Harry Potter, blogging, fashion, Jesus, and lots of other great stuff. If you know her, you're aware of her incredible sense of style and individuality. If you don't know her... you need to! She's one of the most incredible girl bosses I've ever met, and she'll give you enough inspiration to last your whole life :) 

A : So Jordyn! My first question to you is... what is your favorite superhero?

J : Oh, I don't like superheroes. 

A :  Oh, okay, haha well whats your favorite comic book then?

J : Honestly, my whole family loves comic books and superheroes and I'm the only one that really doesn't. I prefer wizards over superheroes. 

A : You know what, me too! My next question for you is: if you could pick any food to eat for the rest of your life, what would you pick?

J : Chipotle. Chipotle all day everyday! haha

A : Oh yes!! How do you take your Chipotle?

J : I always get a bowl, but then the trick is to get a tortilla on the side. Then you can tear off little pieces and make yourself a little mini burrito. It's the best of both worlds.

A : Ahh, very clever, that's a good option. So Jordyn, What do you like most about yourself?

J : Um, if I could pick two different things, because I'm thinking of two different things right now, it would be that I'm very independent. I like to be alone, I like to do my own thing and make a name for myself on my own. The second thing would be how I like to study for fun. I like to read for fun, I'm obsessed with history. Just my thirst for learning is kind of something I admire about myself.

A : I admire that about you too! It's very rare to find a woman like you. Out of all the things you like to study? which is your favorite?

J : I feel like it's kind of a cross between two subjects, one being History and the other being English. I really love both of them, but I guess if I had to pick it would be History. I just really like learning about things of the past. I feel like we forget about the important things like the foundations of the world and the important historical moments that have taken place. I mean, we as humans basically thrive off of what the people before us have previously built, especially through culture. 

A : Describe your unique and influential voice in three words; what do you want the world to know that you stand for?

J : I would say perseverance. And again, independence. Some people give independence a bad rep, but I view independence as empowering and the freedom to be your own person. And then I would say confidence, for sure. It is so important for all aspects of life. If you don't have confidence, then it's harder to succeed. It's always going to be challenging to find confidence, but always necessary I think. 

A : Absolutely, I totally agree with all of those words, they are what I have always seen in you as your personal strengths for sure. Since you like reading, if you were to write a book you'd want to read, what would it be about?

J : If I could write a book... Maybe this is weird but I've never thought about this question before and it's the first thing I could think of haha... but I think if I were to write a book I would travel to different countries and study different women from different countries. I would then write about their ways of life and how they are treated in comparison to other cultures and places. I would most likely just pick one woman from each place and then tell their story. I think I would make it about how women have a voice and should have the freedom to express that wherever they are. It would be like an encouraging book for all women, and I would build the book around that concept and the stories of the women.

A : Uum, I would totally read that book! It sounds amazing! What's one thing you'd like to try that you're too scared to try right now?

J : Hmm... You know I've always wanted to go hang-gliding but I'm so terrified of heights so I've never done it before.

A : Do you think you ever would?

J : I think I will at some point, I'm just so terrified I would have to build up the courage first to do it! I feel like I'm more of a fast-decision making type of person. So I think in that situation I would have to just feel like I wanted to do it and just do it right then and there.

A : I would probably never be able to do that... I'm so scared of heights. It may make a fun date though haha!

J : Haha yeah it just might!

A : Speaking of, what's your ideal date?

J : That is a good question.. I mean I really like wine, so basically anything that involves wine I'd love. Or maybe a Luau... haha in the middle of December.

A : Oh my gosh haha I'm definitely stealing that idea...

J : But honestly I love sitting across the table from someone just having good conversation, so I feel like my ideal date would be something similar. Where we could just sit, drink wine, and just talk about life.

A : What about like a Napa wine tour?

J : Ooh, that would actually be so cool! I really like experiences, so to share something like that with someone would be a cool, intimate kind of date. I mean even if it was like my favorite bookstore where we could sit and read and talk, that would be my favorite. I'm a simple kind of date person. Don't get me wrong, I do love getting dressed up and stuff, but that would be the ideal date for me.

A : I love that!  

A : So Jordyn, what is a character quality that you love about yourself?

J : I think it's funny that I'm super awkward sometimes. I feel like that is something that I would usually say that I hated about myself, but deep down I really do think it's funny. When I'm super awkward I just create a really awkward atmosphere and its like I'm just entertaining myself haha!

A : I know I feel like I can be like that too, and it's just super embarrassing.

J : Yeah, you have to just learn to accept the things you don't really like about yourself sometimes and learn to laugh at them instead.

A : Which can be quite often haha... Okay so since you have an incredible blog called TheDesertViolet, what is your favorite part of being a blogger and which post is your favorite that you've written?

J : Okay... I wrote this piece in my blog about the fashion industry and the makeup industry that I like the most.

A : You know, that specific article is what really made me want to start my own fashion blog, your perspective was just so fresh and inspiring. 

J : Aw, thank you! I love that. Yeah, I really liked that one. I just felt like it was a perspective that I wanted to bring to the table on my blog, because so often people assume girls that wear makeup and go crazy about it are fake or their insecure. Like they have to cover up their face. That isn't untrue in some cases, but also girls like it to have fun. To me it's a way of art, of expressing yourself. That was my favorite to write, to bring a new perspective to beauty. I think it's just so often that it is the opposite, and I want the different kind of perspective to be known and embraced. 

A : Mhmm, I really think you've embodied that well and it was so apparent through that post.

J : Yeah. And to answer my favorite part of blogging, I just love fashion. So anytime I get to work with a company, wether it's clothing or makeup, I just love being able to support them and be able to speak for them. I also love doing photoshoots and taking pictures, or putting cute outfits together. That is the whole reason I started my blog, to put together outfits I love.

A : What's your favorite part of your body?

J : Okay this is going to sound weird, but I love my wrists! Haha I think arms are really pretty and I have a tattoo on my wrist, which may be why I chose to put it there too. Watches are also my favorite so I love to wear them and pair them with my wrist tattoo! 

A : I love that that question just says so much about you that I never knew! Are watches your favorite accessory?

J : Yeah, most likely. I'm just obsessed with them. Like every time I see one, even if I have one similar, I still will want the other one haha, so I have so many of them.

A : What is a big epic fashion failure that you have had?

J : Oh, where to begin! I feel like I have so many.

A : Ha! Why do you think that is?

J : I feel like you look back on your life, and you remember the ugliest combinations you put together and you're like, oh my gosh why did I ever think that was cute?! Now, I wouldn't even consider going out of the house wearing a lot of what I have before. 

A : But you know one of the reasons why you can say that now and know it's fine is because you've been gutsy and tried new looks. 

J : That's actually true, yeah. I have always been gutsy in what I wear I feel like. Oh, I just remembered the perfect failure. My freshman year of high school, I had this whole vellore outfit, like the jacket and matching pants and they were all soft. And it was hot pink.

A : Did it say Juicy on the butt?

J : haha no it didn't! But I went to school with it on like all the time. It was really bad. 

A : What's been a big epic fashion win, or something you were just really excited to wear? 

J : I was honestly so excited about the birthday photoshoot! With the balloons and the fluffy coat. I call it my muppet coat, cuz it reminds me of what a muppet looks like. It was my favorite.

A : Oh my gosh you're so right! That shoot really turned out great.

J : Yeah it did I loved it.

A : What is your dream job?

J : Oh, it would be working for a magazine for sure. Like a fashion magazine. I don't know what exactly I would do, I mean there's so many different aspects I would love to do. Like I'd like to be a photographer's assistant or something... ultimately I would just want to work for Vogue. That would be the dream. Also just doing some editing would be awesome for fashion columns, women's columns, just something that really matters to me. And I do think fashion is really relevant, so.

A : I know it always will be. Everyone is always going to care about what they wear. And that's another huge piece of a culture's identity.

J : Yeah! I really love the history of fashion, i get so caught up in where certain trends started or where things we wear originated. It's just so fascinating. And it's not just for women! It impacts everyone, when you think about it.

A : Oh yeah, it's so interesting! 

A : Okay, a couple more questions. What's a dream you're hoping to accomplish this year?

J : I hope in 2017 that I can really take my blog to the next level. I love to progress in things I put my mind to. If I come to a standstill in life, I get really overwhelmed. So I would really just like to see that progress into something not only fashion-based, but also grow into a place where women can go to just be encouraged and find confidence. 

A : You have such a strong voice for women! That's something I've always really liked about you and your blog. You have such a strong stance to fight for people's individuality and their rights as a human, and their confidence. I really look up to that.

J : Thank you!!

A : Who is a person you look up to?

J : Someone I actually really look up to, and this is kind of random, but as of lately it would be Emma Watson. 

A : Ugh, dude straight up. I can't even begin.

J : I know! And it's not just because I love Hermione. 

A : Okay, she is Hermione in real life tho.

J : She IS! She so is. Like her personality is SO Hermione. I feel like she just walked onto the set of Harry Potter and was just herself with a wand! She's so amazing. She started her own campaign that was all about women's rights and equality, and all over the world people are paying attention to it. That's just something I really look up to, and she's where I kind of found my courage to start writing about it too. Just to see someone who quit acting, where she was making so much money and was really famous, to go to school and join this huge movement. She essentially took a break from everything she was trained her whole life to do to pursue that. Hearing her speeches and what she has to say is just so inspiring. I just really really like her! Someone who makes you want to speak and write about what they are saying you know is doing something really right. 

There She Goes

The day Jon and I pulled out of the Springs in our moving van was the day Katie Decker departed out of Denver, thanks to British Airlines, to make her way to Spain. Luckily I caught her just in time before she left to chat about her new adventure (and to ball my eyes out while saying goodbye to my big sister). 


K : Okay, okay, here we are. Cheers to the New Year!

A : Yes, Cheers! Alright Katie, so where are you going?

K : I'm going to SPAIN! To Europa! Haha. I am specifically going to Mijas, Spain. It is on the southern coast, Costa Del Sol. I'm right on the Mediterranean Sea, and it's this quaint little village on a mountainside ten minutes from the beach! It's really beautiful. 

A : GAH I'm so jealous...

K : It's actually what they like to call "the hidden gem" of España.

A : So why are you going?

K : I'm going... to get uncomfortable. And to experience culture outside of what I'm comfortable and familiar with. I really hope, through this program that I'm doing, to develop more of a vision and idea for what I am called for after. 

A : What do you mean by "called for"?

K : Called 'to' after. So, kind of my purpose. I have an idea of what I like to do, what I'm good at, what makes me come alive, but I really want to figure out how I can take all of that and impact people and the world for Jesus. I'm very strategic in how I live my life, and so I like to maximize what I do. I have a limited amount of time and skill and energy, and I really want to use that the best I can, you know?

A : And what about traveling is going to help you find that sense of purpose do you think?

K : Well, I think the whole thing about traveling is that it takes you into a new environment, so that you have to let go of control and comfortability and everything that you knew, and kind of adapt and respond in ways that really stretch you and challenge you. It opens up your eyes a little bit wider. I really like that about travel. And everyone always says that it gives you "world perspective". Thats a cliche, but I really think that it is really profound because you get so many new and different perspectives that you probably may not have thought of is you stayed living your own life with no one else to influence you. I like to have people influence and push me and sharpen me. 

A : Yeah, definitely. It seems like there is a great sense of adventure in you.

K : Yes, I'm so excited for adventure! 

For her interview, Katie creatively put together a number of "travel attire" ensembles for me to photograph. These are some of her favorite outfits to wear on her world-wide adventures.

The Tourist

A : So When did you first feel the flame of adventure and travel in your life?

K : It's funny because I feel like I've always felt this way. Even when I was a little girl, I was never afraid to try things and to go outside by myself, giving my mom a heart attack running around all by myself. Even as a kid in my own imaginative world I would always want to go somewhere new, I never wanted to stay in one spot. I really think also our parents put that in us too. I mean my first trip overseas was when I was, what, 11 months old? And we went to South America and lived in a tent for a couple weeks? I mean it was crazy. We just always grew up learning how to interact with different cultures and traveling and know how to get around and such, so that was fun.   

A : Oh yeah for sure. Besides that one time when you were 11 months, what other places have you been?

K : Well since our dad grew up in South America, we would always try to go down every couple years, so I've been down there to Bolivia and Brazil with the family. I did an Asia trip with my dad to China, Singapore and Thailand. I've been to parts of Europe before like Germany, England, Wales, the UK. Oh and I've been to the Middle East, to Turkey and Israel. 

A : Which place was your favorite, and which was most memorable?

K : Hmm... I think my favorite was the UK, because it's kind of what I've always imagined Ireland to be like and it's my dream to go there. I also really love the people, I love the quiet lives they live, the close communities they have. It's gorgeous too. Even the pace, it's slower. they have tea time. And the CASTLES! Oh my gosh. 

A : I know, that was fun to see together!

K : Yeah , right! And it's definitely all about who you're with. I think my most memorable trip was to the Middle East, because Jesus has never been as real to me as He was on that trip. Seeing the places He literally walked on this earth, and imagining how He lived His life. I mean, He was a real man! It makes Him feel really close and more real. We read these Bible stories and we think it's some fantastical land somewhere else, but going to the actual places and reading through the stories while sitting where they happened... it's just mind blowing. It gives your faith more deeper roots, and a harder ground to stand on. It was amazing.

Cafe Olé

A : It sure seems like it! Katie, why do you want to see the world? I mean I know you kind of answered this one, but... humor me.

K : Haha, well it's kind of like how I approach what God has for me. In the Bible it says to desire spiritual gifts, and to want all of them. I want all of the world that He has to give to me too! Memories, experiences, people that you might meet. I have this theory that since we are all made in the image of God, and yet all unique, not one is  the same as the other. I believe that each person you encounter has a different piece of God to show you, to reflect, to embody. And I want to encounter all of that! 

A : Dang, that's a great answer! Ha. So then, what are your travel goals? 

K : Oh geez, that's a big question! I guess I want to take advantage of every day. I not care about sleeping as much, or rest, but to really push myself. I'm kind of an introvert, I reeaally like sleep, haha. But I want to give up those things to make the most of where I'm at. And even this program I'm doing I think is gonna test my faith and require a lot of vulnerability, and I wanna give that my all. I want to learn and be teachable, and I hope to come out of this program with new friends and connections, memories, some sweet pictures haha. Practically speaking, I want to come out of this with more of an idea of who "Katie" is meant to be in this world. 

A : Very good, very good. Would you ever date anyone you met overseas on any of your travels?

K : Haha! you can't ask that question! Ha. We will see. that's not part of the plan, but we will see.

A : Would you ever marry anyone you met overseas? And/or move to their hometown?

K : That question isn't even on your list is it! But I mean, yeah. Haha yes. If that's the person that I say I Do to then yes. I would adapt to their culture and live with them there. 

A : On a less uncomfortable note, what is your ideal trip?

K : Definitely getting a group of people together that I really love, that I know will adventure with me. Not too big though, not over 10 people, that gets a little crazy. Maybe 5-6 people. Going somewhere new that none of us has been to before, so that it's all a surprise. 

A : Warm or cold?

K : Warm, obviously! With some type of history, or architecture or beach haha. Or food! But doing it like the locals do it, not like a typical american tourist you know. You gotta get the good spots, the hole-in-the-walls, the hidden gems. And I think to really experience a place you have to be there longer than 2 weeks. So that's the minimum time.

Dancing In The Moonlight

A : Where would you like to go most?

K : Ireland! 

A : Oh, right, or course haha. Why?

K : I don't know, I've never been there but I feel like I'm in love with it already. 

A : Yeah, this has been a dream of yours for so long I feel like.

K : Yeah, for like my whole life! For some reason I've always been so fascinated with it. I've done a bunch of research, like a nerd...

A : Nerds are the best kinds of people!

K : Yeah! haha. I just love their history. I feel like that country symbolizes overcoming to me. They've had such a crazy story of famine and division and plague, terrible things happened to them. But still to this day the people of Ireland have such patriotism and love for their country and who they are and their heritage. I mean, come on, let's not forget about the accent! haha I love it. Just beautiful country, I love green and water. All the good stuff.

A : Mmmm yes so good. How does culture affect you?

K : For me, it gets me excited. It's like eating a food you've never had before. Where yeah, you could have been ok with all the yummy stuff you've been eating your whole life so far, but now there's another taste you've never had before, a new experience!

A : Yeah totally! It's like you've been eating olive oil this whole time, and then you try truffle oil and you're life, my life is changed.

K : Exactly. I mean sometimes it scares me too haha. I got culture shock really bad one time when I was in Hong Kong. It was bad. I was like in my room for days, and so tired. I think it was just a lot to take in at once. It's so different where you can't accept or adapt to it, and it becomes too overwhelming for you. But usually I love it.  

A : How does the places you've been affect you life now?

K : I think a lot of them has made me appreciate what I already have. I mean, in America we live in wealth. We are really rich here. It makes me feel really blessed, and makes me want to not take for granted what I do have. Then I also think it helps me realize I can do things differently too. Its also given me deeper compassion. It helps me understand people who are different from me, and realizing that it's a good thing to be different. We can sharpen each other and learn from each other. 

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful...

A: What is one item that you can't travel without?

K :  An over-the-shoulder purse. Because I don't like carrying a backpack around, they always hurt my shoulders. I also like to be a bit stylish too! So with an over-the-shoulder bag, it hangs right above my hip so I can always see it and its harder to steal. It also is a cute accessory that you can wear and doesn't get in the way when you sit down. And, it forces you to only bring essentials! So you carry lighter. 

A : Where is home?

K : You know, right now, I don't know. That's kind of up in the air currently.

A : You've just come from Chicago, yes? Temporarily living there with Julia, our cousin.

K : Right. 

A : And before that you were here, in Colorado Springs. So when you come back from Spain, where are you going to be? 

K : Yeah, I don't know yet. I guess that's part of what I'm going to figure out.

A : Ooh, exciting! What is your favorite part about yourself?

K : Just one thing? Haha. Well I like that I always want to grow, that I have a willing heart. I like that about myself because I feel like that is what I value in other people. I feel like that means that I can always be growing and can be confronted if I need to be but I can also be ok with where I'm at at the same time.

Taxi!

A : What is a cool cultural ritual that you have observed from your travels that you really like?

K : I have to think about this one. Okay, I haven't experienced this yet, but I really like what I've heard about Spanish Tapas. They're kind of like smaller hors d'oeuvres plates for a meal. But the whole point of it is that you take longer to eat your meal, which is better for your digestive system and it creates more room for conversation. So your taking smaller bites and talking more. The meals they say go on for hours sometimes, and I'm really excited to experience that.

A : What is your favorite means of transportation?

K : I actually really like subway trains! The Tube in London... its so fun! I like going fast and I like figuring my way around on the different trains, it's fun.

A : What is your favorite international job? If you could have a job anywhere, what would it be?

K : I think it would be sweet to plan events all around the world. So, it wouldn't have to be based overseas. But I'd just love to do weddings, parties, conventions, any kind of event all over the place.

A : So cool! So, this concludes our interview. Do you have any last words of wisdom for the young traveler?

K : I think just do it! If you have even the smallest desire to go, do it now and do it quick while you can. You won't regret it. And journal while you travel! So you can have an account of all the little and big things that happen to you along the way. Oh wait! Also, start being an adventurer wherever you are today. There's so much to see and experience all around you.

It's Jess

Hey girl, Heeeey.

A week ago I had Jessi Caldwell over for iced tea and all the snacks we could find from Trader Joe's. Our friendship dates back to when she was 14 and still had braces. I have always admired her for her head full of confidence and big dreams. And can we just talk about that HAIR?! It has no boundaries, it does exactly as it wants. It has the freedom of the sea, just like Jessi and her mermaid-like qualities. We talked all things hair, beauty, friends, and oceans for a whole afternoon, I just had to share what I love about her. 

A : So Jess, what do you love most about your hair?

J : What I love most about my hair, Annie-bananie, is that it has a mind of its own. Like one day, I'll wake up, and it will be like, "today is a wavy day." Other days, I'll wake up and I will be like, where did this volume come from? 

A : So your hair is like the ocean?

J : You know what, you're right. My hair is the ocean. Like one day it's full of waves, and then the next it decides to be calm. And I love how low-maintenance it is. You would think that having a lot of hair would be awful, but I can just wake up in the morning and it just always works out.

A : Jess, what do you like most about yourself? 

J : Haha! I just like keep it real all the time. I'm not one to sugarcoat things, or hide how I'm feeling. And if someone is doing something weird, I'm like, gonna tell them. Hey, you're doing something man. But I also like how I treat situations, and wont hide how I feel. Like the other day, I was talking to my friend and I had somehow made up this story in my head that she was offended at me for something... when in reality I had forgotten to text her back about something. and she just said, classic Jess.

A : Which Disney Princess do you most identify with? 

J : Obviously, %1000 Ariel. I am a mermaid, I actually am a mermaid. 

A : So were you born in a conch shell?

J : Yeah I was. My life under the sea was wonderful, but I wanted something more. But on a serious note, I would totally want to be Ariel, I love her hair. And Eric was a babe. Major babe. I didn't like how she used her body to make him fall in love with her, I just don't think that's real love, but that's beside the point. 

A : Who is your fashion inspiration?

J : I honestly don't know if I have one. I'm trying to think if there's anyone that sticks out to me in that way.. I think that I'd probably say I don't have one, but that all the different friends in my life or people I've met I feel like I have picked up pieces of them. Like so many parts of me are people that I love. Like my hair is crazy and wild, like my best friend DK, shout out to my girl. Or I also have super hippie and boho tendencies like my friend Haley, or sometimes I want to rock a grunge look like my friend G. 

A : What do you have passion for in life?

J : Well, I'm definitely passionate about people. Going into my major being psychology and marriage and family counseling, I definitely am very passionate about people's stories. I just really feel like we need each other and we are all different, and that's amazing. If we were all the same, everyone would just be so narrow-minded and there would be nothing to learn. It's incredible because you can learn so much from someone who is different than you. That's why I'm going into my major, because I believe if people would talk less and do listen more, they could hear things from people that they wouldn't be able to know otherwise. I'm also passionate about snacks.

A : What was a time that you felt really beautiful?

J : Is it bad if I say that on a lot of days I feel beautiful? Am I a dork if I say that?

A : Haha duh you can say that!

J : I think it more-so comes from like on any given day I'll dress how I feel, and when I dress how I feel I always feel good about myself. It'll be like, I went to the gym in the morning and I didn't have a chance to change, but i feel good, you know? I guess a specific day would be when my friend DK came into town and I took her to this tea place. Which honestly you would love it, it's called Platform T in Denver. They have looseleaf tea there, which is also something I'm passionate about. Anyways, I was wearing this long creamy white dress with my favorite shoes, which I'm wearing now, and I just felt like this beautiful greek goddess. My hair was down, it was a wavy day, and I just felt really good.

A : What's your favorite hairstyle right now?

J : I have been really into the half-up, half-down look. I do that with a little braid in the back and let it fall loose and you can see the blonde in my hair best that way. 

A : Who right now do you think is a beautiful person?

J : Honestly, Adri. My Niece. She is the most beautiful person in the world, and she has taught me more in her little 6 years of living than anyone in the whole world. She is just the essence of wild and free. She's not at the age yet where people tell her, your a girl you cant do this. Or oh, I don't look as cute in this shirt as that girl does in it. She is so passionate and daring, and she is just the most beautiful person in the world, I love her so much. -