Happy Friday!

 

The half marathon is tomorrow... wish us luck! Hope you all have equally exciting and relaxing weekends ahead of you :) 

+ some links for your weekend:

Image via Offbeat and Inspired

Meet a Ruby... Aubree Edwards

 

Today's Ruby is the adorable Aubree Edwards! Aubree and I attended Abilene Christian University together, and had many of the same classes – which meant encouraging each other through many photography, graphic design, and drawing projects! Aubree is currently putting her artistic skills to work and using them to build authentic, invested relationships with the people she meets... God is certainly using her kind soul to express His love!! (Side note, how adorable is her pup, Willow?! Too adorable. That's how much.)


Tell us about yourself! Hii! I'm Aubree and I'm a photographer from Plano, Texas and married to my awesome man, Jared. I work at an electric company as a commercial photographer. It sounds kind of boring, but I LOVE it. It's really taught me so much more about my trade and I get a chance to work with some really great people and awesome equipment (and TRAVEL!). Aside from my day job, I'm a wedding/portrait photographer slash graphic designer. God has seriously blessed me with my job and I couldn't be more excited! 

What inspires you? Well, this is difficult for me to pick just one thing. I find inspiration in so many things! Beautiful photographs of beautiful people with stories inspire me every single time. I love that a photo can tell so much of someone's story. People are fascinating and everyone is different. It doesn't matter who or what the photograph is of, but just as every photograph is different, so is every viewer. Something that can touch every one in a very unique way is beautiful to me. 

What are your gifts and talents? This is a hard question. I don't quite know how to answer it. But I have always been a very emotional person. I feel everything. All the time. Thats partly why I love photography so much. I can take a photo and evoke every kind of emotion. Or I can look at a photo and instantly connect with it. Feelings can sometimes be debilitating and can seemingly cause more problems than not, but I think it allows me to connect with people on a deeper level. I feel what they feel, cry when they cry, love when they love. Empathy is my strength and weakness. 

How do you use your gifts to serve others? When I was in college, I was a bartender. I absolutely loved my job. Not because of the awesome food and drinks, but because everyone from any walk of life could walk up to my bar and just start talking. That was the favorite part of my day. Listening to stories. I don't know if I made any sort of difference in anyones life by listening to their stories, but they definitely changed mine. It's made me even tender hearted towards everyone. I think my ability to feel what those around me are feeling so intensely allows me to just be an understanding friend who is there to listen and empathize with them. My goal is to continually use my gifts of connecting to people to show them the love and acceptance of the Lord. I am by no means good at it yet. I am so selfish and my heart is constantly hardened every time I get hurt. But with the help of the Lord, I hopefully can make some sort of difference. 

 
 

What would you do if you had nothing holding you back from your dreams? I would love to travel the world with my husband, Jared and take photographs of anything and everything. I don't know if I want to do that before we settle down and have a family or after, but I do know I would love to do it someday and publish the photos in a book. 

Tell us about a season of suffering that lead to good things in your life. So it's difficult to pin down a season of suffering that lead to good things. But I can tell you how my suffering has lead to good things! I am married to the most wonderful man in the entire world. He's so thoughtful, silly, kind, weird, nerdy, handsome, and about a million other awesome things that I could write about for days. But he is human. I am human. And we are both very broken and flawed. Through our relationship we have had such heartbreak and such beautiful joy. It has shaped me into the lady I am today. But the thing about being yoked with a human being, is that without Christ firmly planted in the center, we will most certainly fail. Satan is powerful. He is sneaky. And he is convincing. He can and will use anything and everything to bring down a marriage. And the more you strive towards Christ, the more he tries to take you out. Satan has attacked our relationship. And he will do it again and again. But the one surefire way to stop him, is to put your faith in Christ.

 

"May you be richly rewarded but the Lord, The God of Israel, under who's wings you have come to take refuge" 
- Ruth 2:12 -

 

With every attempt Satan will try to break you, Jesus is there a thousand more angels, shields, and love to protect you. If you let him. My suffering has lead to trusting in that power more and more. I am constantly reminded of his power when Jared prays for me. When he is kind instead of angry. When he is tender and sweet with me. When he gently keeps me accountable. None of that would be in our marriage if we hadn't gone through suffering together and chose to take refuge under Christ rather than fall into Satan's lies. 

 
 

Share your proudest moment. One of my proudest moments was very recently. I was in a terrible work situation when I first graduated. I was very bitter and had no passion. I stopped taking photos or designing anything outside of my job. It was draining me. I had already given up in my head ever doing photography on a professional level. That had always been my dream, but no scenario I created seemed to work out. But then I had an epiphany. It doesn't matter. I'm not the important one here. Who am I to question where God has put me? How can I complete any mission from him (or even be still enough to hear what that mission might be) if I'm bitter and unhappy with my current situation? The answer? I can't. I can't begin to be molded into the person God wants me to be if my heart isn't open to it. It doesn't matter if i'm upset with where i am. My purpose isn't to be happy, make money, or to be the best in my field. My purpose is to work for the Lord. To be a tool for his kingdom. To make the absolute best of where I am and to be happy about it. To love everyone around me. Encourage. Not to contribute to Satan's plans. After coming to this realization, I had peace for the first time of where I am supposed to be. My career doesn't matter. My passions and my goals will align with God if I'm listening for his sweet whisper. When I felt this peace for the first time, God threw me a curveball that I couldn't believe. Through a friend of a friend of a friend, I got a text about a commercial photography job. I had no idea what it was, but I ended up just emailing my contact about it. A week later, I had 1 interview and an unbelievable job offer. It wasn't necessarily my dream job, but it was a start. It was the first I had ever felt both terrified and excited about a position. I didn't know if I was meant to take this job or not, but I decided to go for it. And that is my proudest moment. Taking the leap of faith into the arms of God. Trusting that he would lead me exactly where he wanted me. It turns out that I truly do love my job. Even when I feel under-qualified and insecure, I'm happy and excited about the challenges. God is so good!

 
 

"I feel my purpose in life is to..." I kind of just answered this in the answer to the last question, but I'll elaborate a bit more. My purpose is to work for the Lord. To be a tool for his kingdom. To make the absolute best of where I am and to be happy about it. To love everyone around me. Encourage.  It's pretty simple when you read it, but dear goodness it's the hardest thing I've ever done. And I do it so poorly. Every day is a struggle. I think that is everyone's purpose; to love like christ. But the way we are called to do it is unique to everyone. I hope that I can do it through photography. That I can make that connection with people I photograph. Hear their stories and share my love and passion for Christ. But God only knows where I'll end up. I think right now, since it is what I'm doing, that is my current way of living out my purpose. But I think it will most likely change as my passions develop and as I continue grow in my walk.

The certain truth I know is this: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.

That verse is very often used, but not soaked in. In our walk we have one thing that is true. God's Promises. If we don't hang on to them and actually put our TRUST in them, how can we call ourselves followers of Christ? If we don't trust our Father and his promises to us, how can we live out his purpose for our life?  


To meet more Rubies, check out the rest of The Ruby Project! 

All images via That's Pretty Ace

I'm loving... October.

IMG_8225.jpg
 

Sharing what's bringing joy to my heart! This month it's...

Coffee, coffee, coffee. Since making it part of my daily quiet time, my love for coffee has soared to new heights. I've also been using it to fuel my social calendar – any time I meet up with a lady friend, we meet up for coffee (vanilla lattes are my jam right now). I love the warm coziness that comes with each sip, but mostly I love how it's become associated with two things: the peace from God that floods my soul during quiet time, and the incredible conversations I've been blessed to have with friends new and old this month. 

 
 

Training for my first half marathon (though I'm sure Rusty Taco isn't a necessary component!). I can't believe it will be here in this weekend...! With the dipping temperatures, longer runs have become a bit easier. The solitude I get from a good run just can't be beat. It's hard for me to think while I'm running, so I often just pray simple prayers and take in the scenery around me. It's like God built me a little "quiet place" where my mind can't get into it's anxiety mode, and I'm so thankful for that. God has been teaching me so much about how He made me during this time of training, and I can't believe He's blessed me with this body (even when I neglected it for so long). He gives us good gifts!

 
 

Stacks upon stacks of books. Chris and I hit up Half Price Books last weekend and went a little crazy... I'm typically all for curling up with a good book, but the cooler temperatures have me on overdrive. I also prayed back in September that God would give me a desire to learn more about Him. I'm pretty sure that just by the look of my reading list, He took that flame and made it a roaring fire...!

 
 

Prayer. I haven't been keeping up with this as well as I did last month (and I so want to get into "pray[ing] without ceasing"!) but the moments that I have turned to God have been insanely life-giving. This month has brought lots of prayers for the people I'm close to and I just feel showered with blessings in that. Seeing friends and family going through seasons of worry or anxiety has tethered me to the Cross more and more. He's been so good to give me peace when loved ones have told me about what they're walking in, and has provided more than enough love and grace over us in those moments. 

 
 

Fall foods. You knew I would get to "pumpkin things" eventually, right? TJ's pumpkin bread has chocolate chips in it and it has been my go-to treat for group gatherings (and it makes our apartment smell so delicious). Also, organic multi-colored carrots, chopped sweet potato, butternut squash, all roasted in the oven... divine. And don't forget that spaghetti squash. Nature's bounty is colorful and comforting this month and it's been really fun switching up the flavors of our daily meals. 

What about you? What things are you loving right now?

Vision

 

God, I look to you.

I won't be overwhelmed.

Give me vision to see things like you do.

You're where my help comes from.

Give me wisdom... you know just what to do.

 

After singing these words in church last Sunday, I was reminded (yet again) of how often I complicate things, and how good God is to take the ball of knotted yarn I've made in front of me and begin to gently untangle it. He knows just what to do.

#write31days might have been a bit of a #fail here on the blog, but it has gotten me reading my Bible more diligently and more critically. I've loved 1 Samuel so far (it's quite the adventure!). I'm still not done, but I'd love to do a couple recaps of what's going on for you guys. Going chapter by chapter made me feel like I was searching for something applicable that may not have always been there, and several of the beginning chapters have some of the same things going on in them (like the ark getting passed around). 

I'm also going back and re-reading my "liquid gold" post over again. I know these words are truth. I know pursuing this blog with a posture that's towards God, that's about Him and His greatness, is a good path and it's one I feel led to pursue. But that doesn't mean he's going to divinely inspire me for each post. I also need to trust that He made me, and He did a good job at that. Just offering myself and who I am to you in servitude is a beautiful and holy thing. 

Speaking of sharing myself... in the midst of me wrestling with how to motivate my writing here on TPA, I've actually been investing in quite a few relationships offline. I shared a few posts back that I felt so incredibly poured into this summer – each night held a new opportunity to meet someone and either get to know them or rekindle our friendship. It was a crazy hustle and I loved it, but I saw September and October coming as a time of rest. That has been true :) And it's given me the blessing of time to devote to more specific people. I've started a dinner group that meets once every other week, and the authentic and humble friendships formed around our table have been incredibly beautiful. I've started writing up a post on that in more detail, and I'm really looking forward to sharing what I've learned with you guys.

I actually have quite a few posts started to debut next month, and I am so surprised and thankful. I'm trying to get back to simplifying mentally. I have a bad habit of feeling led towards an idea and then over-thinking it... which either turns into fear or selfish pride, which, in turn, leads to me doing nothing. Instead, I'm trying to get back to a place of saying "yes, Lord" and moving more quickly so that I can't let myself get in the way :) I'm learning to get back in the race instead of standing on the sidelines wondering if I should. 

And that brings me to my last note... the half-marathon is this Saturday! I'm excited and also terrified. If you've been following along on Instagram, you may have seen me run my first 10 miles ever in my whole life two weeks ago. I'm just incredibly grateful and humbled by the body God gave me, even after I spent most of my life ignoring or abusing it. Here's to hoping it can make those 13 miles :) If you get a second to say a quick prayer, feel free! One of my favorite things about my runs is that I end up smiling as I'm going, and I love how other people cross my path and instantly light up as well. Please pray that I can keep smiling, all the way towards the end. 

Love y'all. 

Happy Friday

Lesley Graham
 

Y'all. Someone get me on the #write31days train. Take all the grace that's been given and use it to hoist my butt back onto that caboose. Thankfully I have no plans tomorrow (is this the Twilight Zone??) and I'm going to park myself at my computer with Bible in hand to work through Samuel! Hope you all have a lovely and relaxing (or productive) weekend! 

+ some links for your weekend: 

Image via Lesley W. Graham