As I strive to see what beauty is in sight, it’s fun to look over some of the pictures I’ve taken in my first two months here in Santa Barbara. I don’t take photos often, so when I do they are of really special, beautiful moments that I long to capture.
This project is particularly apt because I’m really striving to practice contentment and gratitude in my life, even for just the simple moments. So you’ll find that some of these pictures capture the simple moments I’ve had during this time of drastic transition, but in so doing they allow me to practice gratitude–to hold onto something solid in the midst of the ever-shifting waves of establishing a new life in a new place.
~~ November 17, 2013 ~~
I stopped at this beach–where I now get to play beach volleyball once a week–after my first Sunday at my new church. I took off my shoes and felt the sand between my toes. I was so thankful to finally be beginning my new life in beautiful Santa Barbara. This was a moment of pure blessing for me.
Now that I’m back in California, I get to hang out with my beautiful niece more often, and that’s such a blessing! She’s growing up into such a beautiful young woman, and I’m thankful to get to be in her life! And I love that we get to live this capri-wearing, no-shoes life together! 😛
~~ December 13, 2013 ~~
This was probably my favorite moment of the holiday season. This evening I lead my first event at my new church: an evening of prayer and communion. As I was preparing earlier in the day at a local coffee shop, a group of young girls–hoop skirts and all!–came in to serenade us with Christmas carols. It truly was a joyful experience, a moment of remembering Christ’s breaking into our dull human experience to touch us with God’s divine love.
~~ December 26, 2013 ~~
This is the one picture in my photo journal that didn’t take place in Santa Barbara. I already posted pics of my date over Christmas with my wonderful nephew, but I never included my date with my amazing niece! Molly wanted to go ice skating for our time alone together. We were running a little late and only had a two-hour free skating time to begin with, but about 30 minutes in our feet were already hurting! We lasted through the rest of the time (taking lots of breaks!), and then she helped me find some clothes for working at Starbucks. I’m thankful to be closer to her now too, and especially for getting to build amazing memories like these.
~~ December 30, 2013 ~~
I took this picture while driving back from Thousand Oaks to see my beautiful friend Linda. Linda, one of my dearest friends from Kentucky, was visiting her daughter’s family in LA, and so we met in the middle to spend some time together. The day was such a blessing, ending with the most incredible sunset I have yet to see. Even this picture doesn’t do it justice, but the ocean literally looked like it was on fire, glowing from the brilliant sunset. I still have to pinch myself on days like this–both for the beautiful setting I get to live in and the beautiful friends I get to do life with.
~~ January 3, 2014 ~~
Since September 4th, exactly 4 months earlier, my trunk has had something in it as I roadtripped all over the country. And since the morning of October 12th, almost 3 months earlier, it was completely stuffed! (See the before picture?) So now I appreciate in a whole new way not having to be embarrassed to have people ride me, having space for them and their stuff, and saving tons of gas since my car isn’t so heavy! Most importantly, this meant that I was finally settled again after having been in transition for so long (even my first month and a half while being in Santa Barbara). I do love traveling, but I now have a new regard for home.
~~ January 20, 2014 ~~
Another “finally!” moment–my first In-n-Out burger in I don’t know how long! In-n-Out made the first burger I ever tried (I grew up eating hot dogs–for some strange reason–while my whole family ate burgers), and I haven’t looked back. In-n-Out is one of those simple joys of being back in California. Something you can get few other places (certainly not in Kentucky!) and which just reminds me of home. And I get to enjoy joys like this with people I love as I’m now closer to my family.
~~ The Theme ~~
Together, let’s find the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Let’s embrace those simple moments where all that matters is in the here and now, the simple beauties that capture our imaginations and our hearts.
Let’s reflect together on the ways we’ve been blessed. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic. Maybe the most beautiful things are the most simple.
If I don’t practice gratitude daily, I become discontent, constantly pining after what someone else has or doubting God’s provision for me.
Together. That’s how we do everything worth doing in this life. Together. So let’s do this together too. Let’s reflect, searching for those moments of joy. Of course there will still be pain–and we need this too in order to appreciate the beauty–but for that one moment when nothing is falling apart, let’s give thanks.
Transition has been hard. But it’s helped me appreciate the above moments–really appreciate them–in a way I never knew possible.
Together, let’s give thanks. What are you thankful for? Share your simple moments here in the comments below so we can all hope–together.