Blossoms of an Artist

I Started an Etsy Shop!

art drawerThe idea to sell my artwork and some of my other creative projects through Etsy has been in my head for over a year. But I immediately faced discouragement when I first began vocalizing it, so I mostly shoved the thought away.

In November, however, I was given an opportunity that I so wanted to take hold of. It was going to cost more money than I had (or would have any time in the near future), but I had such a desire for it that I was ready to start taking the idea of an Etsy shop seriously and see if I could raise funds that way. I began to research, ask friends who had experience, and work on what I was going to be selling.

But because my situation is unique (living with my family and working on creative pursuits from home, with no income to speak of), I faced a lot of setbacks during the process. Starting a business was intimidating. Okay: it was terrifying. I was determined to push through the fear, but running into roadblock after roadblock was becoming more spirit-crushing with every instance. And when the opportunity that had spurred me to start working on this in the first place fell through… I just kind of left everything alone. I didn’t intend to give up. But I did give up.

When I had been working to build the business and began facing discouragement, the Lord had been so clearly and openly supportive of me. He pointed me to the story of the Eiffel Tower; when it was being built, the art community in Paris was circulating a petition to stop the work, claiming it would be an ugly mark on a beautiful area in the city. The builders continued anyway, and created a piece of artwork so widely loved that it has become an icon. He told me this story, and encouraged me to keep building. I wanted to listen. For a while, I did. But eventually I let the discouragement get to me.

Lately I have been revisiting some of our conversations from that season, and seeing what He said and didn’t say… and what I did and didn’t do. Etsy was something He said was good. And something I have ignored. I don’t want that to be the case anymore.

Last week– I opened my Etsy shop. Tessa Maye Makes Things is alive.

logo

I know I will face challenges. But I will face them, as they come, instead of letting them cripple me or keep me from something that could be good. I am nervous. But when I put the final piece of information in and saw my shop go live for the first time? I took a deep breath. I felt relieved, and I felt hopeful. I’m not going to ignore that.

If you want to check out my artwork/projects, feel free to visit the shop! I am brainstorming more ideas for it already. But, if nothing else, I want to urge you: that thing that still invades your mind sometimes? That He placed a desire for in you? That maybe He’s even told you He’d support you in?

Keep building.

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Testimonies · The Basics

On Getting My Hopes Up

I might be the biggest idealist I’ve ever known. Even if I’m just stopping by the store, I get excited about who I could see there and what the experience could be like. Maybe it’s part of my design to be hopeful.

But I live on earth. And it’s beautiful here, but it’s broken, too. So hopes can get crushed. I can’t count the hopes I’ve had that I never saw come to fruition. I get so excited about the possibilities that when things actually happen, they are disappointing. Because they’re flawed and messy and not the joys I hoped maybe they could be.

So I tried to stop hoping.

feet and wishHope felt childish. When something got me excited and possibilities for what could happen began entering my mind, I’d tell myself to calm down. “Don’t expect anything from it, Tessa. Just go and enjoy it if you can. Things will probably not happen that way and you’ll get hurt if you expect them to.” I’d been hurt a lot by my own expectations. I didn’t want it to happen again. So I denied hope a place in my life. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing; I thought I was protecting myself. I didn’t know I viewed hope the way I did:

As an enemy instead of a friend.

Recently the Lord has been telling me that something is a promise. Something I’ve tried to shove out of my mind and heart because it’s too special to tease myself with; something so good and so impossible that dreaming about it has physically made my heart heavy, so that I don’t even like thinking about it if I can help it.

But when He speaks… I know. There are moments when I genuinely don’t know if He’s saying something or not. But there are also moments when I know what He’s saying… and I don’t want to believe it. This has been one of the latter. I know what He’s said. I know He has promised to put this thing in my life somehow.

And it terrifies me.

You’d think that being told an incomprehensible joy is coming for me would fill me to the brim with excitement and gratitude. But I’ve lived my life as an idealist; I know what it’s like to be bubbling over with anticipation… only to be left with a deflated version of what I hoped for. And I just don’t want to feel that hurt anymore.

I used to read in the Bible where it says to rejoice in hope, and I’d think it was an obvious statement; why wouldn’t I be joyful about hope? But I understand now: hope is terrifying. When you hope, you’re allowing yourself to put your energy into believing for something you can’t visualize happening. Hope is risky, dangerous business for my heart to take on.

But hope is not dumb.

I’m afraid to believe His words to me because I’m afraid to get my hopes up. It feels childish to hope for it; it doesn’t make to sense to me to hope for it because I cannot see any avenues for it to come to pass. I’ve always known He wants me to have hope in Him for the impossible, but I guess nothing has ever looked too impossible. This… this does.

But I remember when He showed the prophet Ezekiel a valley full of dried up, long-dead bones. And He asked him: “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel responded:

“O Lord God, you know.”

Ezekiel didn’t know what was going to happen. But He knew that the Lord was capable of doing anything. Even the impossible.

The thing He’s telling me about? I have no idea how it can happen. I don’t understand it, it doesn’t make sense to me. But I know I can trust Him. I can trust Him with all of me. No matter what He’s saying, if I understand it or if I don’t, it doesn’t matter.

I can trust whatever He’s saying because it’s Him who is saying it.

My hope is in Him. And He is capable. And if I believe He loves me, why do I not believe I’m special enough to receive the impossible from Him? He has deemed me worthy.

Hope is not dumb. And I’d rather get my hopes up and be crushed than live without hope.

So I rest in who my Father is. And I trust Him with my heart.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  -Romans 15:13

“Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts though the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”   -Romans 5:5

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”   -Hebrews 10:23

[Reminder: God does not contradict Himself. If what I feel He’s saying is contrary to what He says in Scripture, it isn’t Him.]

 

Life as a Wind Rider

On Reading My Life’s Story

journal and cpr shelfI have this strange habit of staying up until at least midnight because I want to see the memories Facebook saved for me in the “On This Day” app. I’ve been using Facebook since I was about fourteen, so there’s some cringey gold to be found.

But I was also deeply depressed for a little more than two years in high school. And Facebook reminds me of that, too.

Except those things aren’t memories. That’s the wild thing about depression: I am aware, because of photos and journal entries, of the things that happened to me. But I don’t actually remember them. Reading my journal is like reading a novel. I sympathize with my younger self on a human level, but I can’t remember what those moments felt like; I just remember the constant despair or numbness I carried. Looking at photos from that time is like looking at photos of a sweet, familiar teenage girl; it’s like I was friends with her once. Those years are like stories to me, instead of memories. I know they’re my stories. I try to take good care of them.

Lately, the memories showing up in the app have been inside those stories. A song I didn’t remember existed was there yesterday, from when I was sixteen. When I clicked the link and listened to it, I knew every word. It was a song speaking of light, and it had a joyous air in it. Pride for the girl who listened to that song in the dark swelled up in me. I don’t know what made her do it, but I want to be like her when I grow up.

Today, the memory was from three years ago. Three years ago today, I was rejected from the creative arts program at the college I knew the Lord wanted me to attend. I’d auditioned through a video, the first time for me to sing a solo for anyone. A few weeks later, I received a phone call informing me my voice was “underveloped.” I’d been accepted to the college, but not the program I hoped for. I knew I was supposed to go to the school, so I was glad to be accepted there, at least. Yet I also knew I was supposed to make music. Suddenly I didn’t know how those callings could exist together anymore.

I had been scrolling through Facebook when I received that phone call. I don’t vent about personal situations on the internet, but I didn’t know what to do with the news I’d just received. So I typed through my tears:

Didn’t get accepted into the Creative Arts program; my voice is underveloped. Crushed.

People came beside me and exhorted me. Months later, I would go to that college. But my sense of hope in my dreams of making music was gone. My heart was broken over this twist in my story, and my dreams now felt like burdens I’d have to uselessly carry for the rest of my life. It took a long time to heal from this.

Three years ago, I didn’t know that I wouldn’t finish college; that the Lord would lead me to living at home, figuring out how to make music on my own. I didn’t know that my story was to be even more unconventional and wild.

And I didn’t know that I’d eventually love my story that way.

I love that my Father knows me. He knows an easy, conventional story wouldn’t suit me. “Tessa is my unconventional shining star of a daughter.” He declared when He dreamed me up. “She doesn’t do things the way everyone expects her to; she finds new, creative ways that feed her soul and the souls of others like her. She needs a life that reflects that. It’s going to be so unique, such a delight to unfold.”

He’s crafted all of it. Just like He’s crafted me.

I never thought I’d be thankful for that rejection. But I am. I’m grateful for my crazy, messy, gorgeous story full of twists no one can anticipate. All of it is connected, matters, has purpose. I can trust Him with the hardest parts, knowing they’ll make sense to me someday. I can dream again, because He gives me His eyes when I do. Nothing is irredeemable or immovable– not the darkness, not my mistakes, not my circumstances, not my broken heart. It all matters.

It’s all part of the story. The one He made to fit me just right.

Life as a Wind Rider

Another 100 Things to Look Forward To

shoes daisies dandelionsI am thrilled to have written another list of one hundred things to look forward to. These are not just trivial lists I create in attempt to make me feel better about the future. These lists are a pair of corrective lenses for me; they awaken me to all the joys yet to be had in my life, all the things I have the potential to experience. Life gets dark, life gets hard, and it’s easy to get stuck in the cycle. These lists remind me that my Father gives me more than the cycle. He gives me countless expressions of His love, every single time I get to experience something that feels like someone switched on the lights in me, for even a moment.

I’ve written two lists like this one already, which you can find here and here. If you’re stuck in the cycle, I hope you find some of your own hopes here, or that you feel the nudge to begin dreaming again. Dreams are for life. Life is for us.

Owning wind chimes and hearing them fill the air.

Going to a rap concert.

Having another birthday.

Owning a Twenty One Pilots cd.

Having friends over for holidays.

Creating photo-a-day challenges.

Wearing red lipstick.

Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible.

Filling more journals.

Taking hipster-y pictures.

Seeing my brother do what he loves.

Watching the toddlers I know grow up into world-shaking adults.

Baking things with friends.

Sitting in front of a fireplace in the frigid winter.

Recording a Christmas album full of nostalgia.

Being a guest on a fun, comfortable web show or podcast or something of that nature.

Making music in collaboration with wonderful people.

Kissing my husband.

Growing my own herbs.

Becoming a vegetarian.

Feeling no trace of sadness.

Meeting public figures I admire.

Running into people randomly at the store.

Feeling noticed in the best way.

Finding a little community of emotional safety.

Starting an Etsy shop.

Learning new ways to make things.

Making memories with my husband before I know he’s my husband, then looking back on them later.

Writing letters.

Being able to closely observe people play the piano so I can learn chords better.

Seeing animals outside and having small moments of quiet eye contact and connection with them.

Drinking hot cocoa.

Retreating completely on my own for a day or two.

Traveling with my best friend.

Running some kind of advice column.

Watching my children be caring siblings to one another.

Sleeping next to my husband and feeling the security in that.

Having a for-real session of professional author/album/promotional photos.

Having a colorful wall in my home.

Seeing a wedding ring on my finger that someone I love placed there.

Praying with people.

Having solid interactions with kind strangers.

Having mango and watermelon-flavored things.

Refining my wardrobe.

Going on a date to the movies.

Going to a drive-in movie.

Sitting in a nook and reading/writing/thinking for hours.

Singing background for a song on someone else’s album.

Making art that gets me excited when I finish it.

Seeing soul-healing happen in people I love.

Going sledding with my family and with friends.

Becoming braver at making conversation.

Feeling more skilled in things I currently feel like an amateur in.

Spending time in a secluded house in the countryside.

Filming a music video.

Dressing as a fairy and as Mabel from “Gravity Falls” for Halloween.

Reading more fairy tales.

Singing lullabies over my babies.

Being able to pay for things.

Seeing my husband be a father.

Exploring quirky shops.

Getting to know the family I marry into.

Rekindling friendships that became distant.

Having spontaneous dance parties.

Holding the children of my best friends.

Writing an amazing love song.

Taking walks in new places.

Leaving notes for strangers in public places.

Being able to teach people about MBTI.

Going on tour with incredible people.

Holding adorable little animals.

Seeing my children react to seeing animals in zoos/wildlife parks for the first time.

Having confidence in going places on my own.

Exploring a wallpaper center for hours.

Happening upon street art.

Dangling my feet over a dock for a calm while.

Seeing blue birds.

Visiting a butterfly garden.

Knowing someone is in love with me.

Seeing someone be someone else’s muse.

Observing the quirks of others.

Spending more time in my sketchbook.

Having a cat that likes being a sweet companion.

Owning a settee and spending a good chunk of my time on it.

Laughing harder than ever before.

Opening my home to people who need it.

Seeing which genetics my children inherit from me and from their father.

Sharing a pizza with someone I love at a picnic.

Having my passion for music be known by the people around me, instead of being bottled within myself.

Holding hands.

Tie-dying a shirt.

Getting food with people in the middle of the night.

Making connections with people going the same direction as me.

Drinking strawberry lemonade.

Finding new things to write about.

Writing new poems that express what I want them to.

Seeing how people decorate their houses to suit their personalities.

Having a simple breakfast with people I love.

Seeing my family interact with my kids, as grandparents and an uncle.

Doing something a little wild on Leap Day.

Life as a Wind Rider

How I Rode The Wind in 2015 {Part 2}

I started writing lists of dreams I was going to look forward to seeing become reality when I realized life on earth is already kingdom life, and worth living. The Lord allowed me to live out 56 of those things in 2015 alone. I started laughing when I counted. He is so kind, so full of grace. I shared the first half of those lived dreams last week; I’m excited to share the second half today.

Watching movies with dear friends.

From emotional bursts with Sierra because of The Amazing Spiderman 2; to filling an apartment with college friends to watch Finding Neverland; to giggling at How to Train Your Dragon with Meigan, her brother, and his friends; to experiencing Treasure Planet with Karli as we waited for cookies to bake– I had solid movie experiences with my people.

Painting pottery.shakers yay!

I went with Amy and Meigan over the summer. We made lovely pieces, and got to have yogurt with Kayla afterwards. Win all around.

Getting letters from people I love.

My friend, Katie, lives in another state now. Her letters are such bright spots in my days.

Having painting parties.i was home

Sierra and I are pros at painting parties. I love having them with her, and the conversations we have during them.

Playing Loaded Questions.

Such a fun game! I played it with some of my best friends close to my birthday and it was a blast. The week afterwards, I played it with my brother and his friends, and it was equal parts hilarious and horrifying. Oh, man. Those boys… yikes. I just played it on New Years Eve with some wild people, too, which was a wonderful time (I accidentally confessed my celebrity crush to everyone, but eh).

Making more quote signs.Chesterson

I joke that even when I make visual art, I still have to say something; I nearly always end up adding words to my paintings (although I’m working on being a little more ambiguous; who doesn’t love discovering meaning in art for themselves?). Now, since I try to make art as often as I can, I end up painting straight up quotes all the time. It’s a deep breath for me.

Seeing friendships grow deeper.

This has to be one of my favorite things about life. Connecting with the souls of people is one of the biggest parts of kingdom life and it is true life.

Visiting the coast again.glitter tattoos

I visited the beach with Meigan and Candy, and we had a lovely, comfortable day together. We even got matching glitter tattoos (I’m pretty cool, in case you didn’t know), and they surprisingly lasted two weeks. [Photo from Meigan]

Eating an orange creamsicle.

My mom reads my “looking forward to” lists, and she got a box of orange creamsicles because she saw it on one. Do you guys love my mom yet? She’s the best, right? Shout out of shout outs to you, mom.

Driving in tree-filled areas during the fall.

The feeling of leaves jumping down to meet me as I drive is exhilarating and a simple, pure joy.

Hugging people I love.

Hugs are the best. They’re just the best.

Watching more episodes of great web series.

Season two of Green Gables Fables is underway! Oh, Gilbert… precious, precious Gilbert…

Re-reading old cards from friends and remembering how extravagantly blessed I am to have the people who wrote them.cards from my box

I keep a box of cards, letters, tickets, and little memory-laced papers to look through every once in a while. It makes me smile. I smile even more when I realize a lot people don’t write cards anymore, and my friends still do it for me.

Talking to my counselor-friend again.

I’m in counseling again as of last week, and I’m so excited about it. I had to fight some stigma that existed inside myself, but now I’m shamelessly pumped to dive into some soul-healing. You don’t have to be desperate to ask for help every once in a while; I hope you know that.

Finally beating Spyro: Year of The Dragon, 117%.

This was the video game of my childhood, and I’ve beaten it many times, but I would always ask my brother to complete the most difficult levels for me. I played through it again last month and completed it, including the bonus world, on my own. Finally. Adulthood unlocked.

Spray painting objects to make them look modern and trendy.DSC02830

Okay… I attempted this, but I’m going to have to try again. Because it’s been over a month and my chrome Loch Ness monster is still sticky. It lives under my easel on a sheet of newspaper; I took this photo like an hour ago.

Watching people I love perform.

I got to attend a dance performance featuring multiple beautiful, talented friends of mine. And yes, I cried.

Watching sunrises and sunsets.sunset Collage 2015

I ended up watching the sunset almost every night in September this year. I don’t know what it was; I just felt His love in them. sunrise

I didn’t plan on watching a sunrise, but I ended up meeting Meigan and Ashleigh for breakfast so early in the morning that I got to see it anyway. Glory.

Making and wearing meaningful jewelry.

Every item of jewelry I wear means something to me– a friend gave it to me, my grandma made it, it reminds me of a story that matters to me, I got it while traveling, the list goes on. I love wearing stories. Wearing an Eiffel tower necklace after the tragedy in Paris was a big one.

Having more music talks with my dad.

My dad loves exploring the internet to find his favorite music from the past. I love hearing him get excited about it, even if it means sitting through a solid thirty minutes of 70s hits. I can’t hate on The Mamas & The Papas.

Smelling roses and other wonderful smells.peachy bloom

I love things that smell fresh and sweet and nostalgic. I’ve heard that smell can trigger memories more quickly than any other sensation we have; I think I believe that.

Owning the new Chris August album.

My mom surprised me with it! It is so lovely. I recommend him highly. I’ve been listening to him from the beginning and he has not disappointed me; the sweetness and honestly remain.

Attending the weddings of dear friends.weddings 2015

I got to do this three times this year! Holly and Jadon, Amy and Jaron, and Kayla and Bradley all had weddings that were unique to them and that filled the atmosphere with the purest love; I felt the Lord there with each couple. Weddings are so special. They make kingdom life feel even nearer.

No longer having to clean a fish bowl.

I feel like I shouldn’t be celebrating that fact that my goldfish died. But I’m certainly not complaining.

Giving my art to more people. | Making notebooks and greeting cards for friends.collage notebooks

I got to do this many times this year. When I put out a random note saying, “Hey, I’ll make you a collage notebook if you want” a little before school began, I didn’t expect so many people to want them, but it was such a delight to make something inspired by each of those individuals. I think that’s my favorite part of giving art to people– it’s something we’ve shared, having to do with both of our cores.

Giving my textbooks away.

I don’t know what makes me so excited to give away my textbooks, but I love it. I got to deliver a few this year.

Going on a book picnic with my sister.day with Ariel

So special. We didn’t read because we just wanted to talk, although we did go to a bookstore and nerd out about psychology afterwards. I love her so much.

Find the lists these items came from here and here. And here’s to all the dreams we’ll live in the years to come.

Life as a Wind Rider

How I Rode The Wind in 2015 {Part 1}

A year and half ago, life seemed hopeless to me. I knew there would be good things again, but I knew bad things would come back, too. I was beginning to realize life was a mountain-and-valley journey, and started listening to the fear that the mountains were not worth the valleys that would inevitably come back. If I would never be fully better until I was in the kingdom, what was the point of being here?

I didn’t know that the kingdom is already here. It’s in me, it’s in you.

Someone who’d had thoughts like mine, who couldn’t stand to be in the valley any longer and entered the fullness of the kingdom, left music behind. And as I listened, I could hear him. He was telling me I didn’t have to run to eternity to live in the kingdom.

That God was just as near to me on earth as He was to him in eternity.

I chose to stay on earth. And I live in the kingdom now. And no mountains or valleys can mess with the level, steady, gold-paved ground of kingdom life.

After deciding to stay, I began writing lists. Lists not of things I hoped would happen, but things I was looking forward to in faith. Because I knew, after He surprised me with a train trip, that my Father wants me to use my dreams to live. I’ve written two 100-item lists like this, and I continue writing them. I don’t think there’s a better way to look back at this year than seeing all the dreams He brought to life.

Reading more books. I KEEP BUYING BOOKS.JPG

I read some good books this year (although I was in college for half of it, so not as many pleasure-reads as I would have liked). Probably the best were “One Thousand Gifts” (I wrote about it) and “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.” You can check out my Goodreads for all my 2015 books if you’d like!

Going to more concerts.

I attended two little coffee shop concerts– Madison Cunningham, and the local university’s acapella groups. I hope to attend bigger, more festival-like concerts in the future.

Holding babies.

I work in a nursery so I get to hold babies often, but it’s a huge source of joy for me every single time.

Seeing meaningful new movies. | Seeing the final Hunger Games film. | Seeing new Pixar movies.

Inside Out and Mockingjay Part II were huge for me this year. Both so well-done and thought-provoking in their own unique ways. I also got to go to those movies with people I love. Win. There were additional movies this year that I didn’t see in a theater, but that I saw for the first time and was touched by, most of all the new Cinderella movie; I wrote about it.

Getting better at painting. steady life

I’ve practiced acrylic paints more this year, and I’m better than I was, but I’ve discovered watercolor will always be my love. My lettering skills have improved much in both mediums.

Having flowers in the house.

A few times this year, a friend would pick me a flower and I’d let it live in a little vase for a few days. Delight.

Dying my hair red. red hair 3

I finally just went for it, and I might do it again soon because I ended up liking it so much. It made me think about identity and value, too, so I wrote about it.

Writing lyrics again.

I came to realize that I never stopped; I’d been writing daily poetry for over a year. It just isn’t something I can shut off. But now I’m writing words with the intention of making them lyrics once again, and it is… it’s home.

Sketching based on illustrations from the fairy books by Andrew Lang. finished sketch maybe yeah maybe

I finished one and hope to create many more. The name of Lang’s illustrator is H.J. Ford, in case you were curious.

Visiting a mountainous national park. | Visiting the mountains up close. | Going on a road trip.DSC00132

I love everything about the mountains (even though trails with such high elevation are killer for this sea-level girl). I never expected to be able to say I’d done these things so soon, but my grandparents invited us to join their road trip to Yellowstone, so of course we said yes! The thinking and music-listening time was invaluable; I wrote about it. Grateful. He loves to surprise us with joy.

GOPR1151_1435351086771_lowMeigan and I also took a mini road trip to visit our friend, Cooper, over the summer. We got to explore with him and his family, and it was a blast. [Photo from Cooper]

Buying scented candles and lighting them all the time.

I mooch off my mom’s candles so I didn’t really buy them, but you bet I lit them. Discovered tropical scents and clean (rain/cotton/etc.) scents are my favorite.

“Hiking” a calm little forest trail.hiking 2015

I got to explore trails with friends twice this year. Those memories are treasures I hold close. [Photos from Meigan and Bradley]

Sitting by the lake in the summer.

My family went camping in August, and we got to be outside at the lake often. I love the water.

Swinging at my favorite childhood park.

I got to bring friends to the park, and swing and talk with them for hours. It was wonderful. I love that little town and the warm air it always breathes on me.

Being part of more photo shoots with friends.12241346_911838315518760_2097723516758480792_n

Sierra and I explored her college campus to make leaf crowns, and it was glorious. I felt like a woodland fairy. [Photo from Sierra]

Using a journal small enough to carry in my purse.

Being able to write in my journal wherever I am during a moment of quiet is so valuable to me. I’m very grateful to have an easy-to-carry journal, and for all it carries in it.

Going to Generation Unleashed again.with the horse

I went as a chaperone. Such a rich weekend of being able to share love with people and retreat to a spiritually-focused place for a weekend. I shared my notes from it. That weekend was actually when I finally stopped saying no to the Lord, and declared: “Okay. I will leave college to make music.” Wild. I never expected this would be my story. [Photo from Tiffany]

Wearing more pretty dresses.group YAAAAAS

I just love dresses. I actually got to wear one to a fancy dinner this year, which I didn’t expect I’d ever say because I simply don’t do fancy. But my people make everything better.

Taking a tour of the cathedral in my city. | Seeing my best friend again and going on a random little adventure with her.11796289_865882600114332_5610140246423129118_n

Sierra and I visited the lovely Catholic church on the corner of the street in our hometown (on the hottest day of the summer, by the way; we downed an entire pint of ice cream afterwards). We vocalized our struggles, prayed for each other, and found beauty in liturgy. I wrote about it. [Photo from Sierra]

Owning a Wreck This Journal.

My mom just got me one! Now to begin destroying, creating, and discovering. I’m excited about it.

Being reunited with college family.

It helps that I live close to my college town, but I’ve been still able to spend time with people I was terrified to leave. I may have left college, but I didn’t leave the relationships. I’m so grateful I got to keep them.

Throwing darts at paint-filled balloons like in The Princess Diaries.12107101_1012372312156163_4174250602515515772_n

My parents surprised me with the supplies to do it for my birthday! I got to make art with some of my favorite people on earth. It turned out legitimately beautiful. Mom, thank you so much for reading my lists and caring about my little dreams.

Watching fireworks at our annual Fourth of July barbeques.4th of July 2015 Collage

I’ve always loved Independence Day because of how much my dad loves our traditions. Also, please note my mom and my brother making the exact same expression in the top left photo, because I crack up every single time.

Find the lists these items came from here and here, and find part two of this round up here!

Testimonies

Realizations from Dyeing My Hair

red hair drawingI have wanted to be a redhead my entire life. If you look at my childhood drawings, almost every girl has bright orange hair. It has always been an option for me; my parents were pretty relaxed when it came to my appearance and what I wanted to do with it. But I just never took the leap.

A piece of me was afraid that if I dyed my hair, it meant I was trying to fight the way I was made.

You’re probably expecting me to say I had a revelation that caused me to finally dye my hair this year. That didn’t happen. Really, I just came home to a world of complete newness and confusion after the semester ended, and I figured that this time of changes was a good time to implement just one more. So I got a box of hair dye and hesitantly did the deed. My mom helped (i.e., did it for me), because I was still pretty scared. But she’d never dyed her hair before, either, so I’m sure we looked and sounded hilarious. Especially when we misread the directions and dyed only my roots and had to get more the next day. Oh, dear. I’m still laughing about that.

But yes, I am a redhead now, and have been for almost two months. My roots are starting to show my natural color. And I’ve learned a little about what makes me Tessa.

I never hated my hair color, but I never really thought about it enough to know if I truly liked it, because I just knew I wanted red hair so badly. But, the day before I dyed it… I felt a little sad, nostalgic. And because I am much too sentimental, I wrote a letter:

Dear hair:
I’ve never hated you. Yes, you’re too heavy on me sometimes, and you love frizz and static, and right now your ends are split;
And yes, as a child I cut you too short too many times, for painful and kind reasons.
But, when you’re long, I feel more like Tessa;
When I put flowers in you I feel lovely;
When you dance in the wind I think of the Lord;
And when you shine in the summer sun, I simply smile.
I didn’t expect this…
But I even like your color.
No one can agree on it, because no one else has it.
I’ve always wished you were a rusty red sheen, and tomorrow we get to try that.
But I didn’t realize just how much I appreciate you.
The red will take over, but it will leave soon.
I’ll be ready to greet you in all your natural glory when you return.

Strange? Yes, definitely. But it still makes me smile a little bit. Because I remember what it was like to finally be struck with the understanding–

I had been so focused on what I wanted that I didn’t realize I was enjoying what I had.

And that’s something to remember in areas way beyond hair color. Dreaming doesn’t mean right now isn’t glorious, too. Enjoy the present, and enjoy the dreams. Both are for you. Both are good.

It has finally connected for me that my physical appearance in no way makes me the person I am. I liked the way my hair looked naturally, but I like being a redhead, too; every time I see my hair in the mirror, it makes me happy. I’m glad I finally decided to just do it, because I know now that I might actually prefer my hair this way. I thought I would feel guilty about that, but I don’t. Because whatever I do with my outside doesn’t make my insides any different. Changing my hair color didn’t mean I was getting rid of anything that made me myself; the make-up of my soul hasn’t changed.

red hair brown band half face 1When I’m having a down self-image day, it says nothing about who I truly am. I am a soul. I’ve been having quite a few low self-image days lately, and I’m trying to remember that I shouldn’t treat those feelings as truths. I’m Tessa. And being a redhead is an added joy to my life, and other things about myself are added annoyances sometimes. But I’m always Tessa, in wholeness.

And I’m grateful for the way I was made. Because I was made.

I didn’t know I needed to affirm that to myself; I’m glad I finally have.

I hope you like you. I hope you’re in awe that you have a body that allows you to live here and do things you love, that receives hugs and takes scenic walks and is even capable of sparking life. I hope you feel deep in your soul that your body isn’t you, it’s just your carrying case, the contents of which are beyond valuable. And if you want your case to have some decorations? I hope you know that it doesn’t do anything to change the value or make-up of what’s inside it. I hope you enjoy living so much that your outside looks better to you because of what you hold inside it.

And I hope, soon… you realize you like yourself more than you knew you did.

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”  -C.S. Lewis