Thursday, August 2, 2012

I wish.

I wish it were socially acceptable to walk up to complete strangers in public places and (for no other reason than that you happen to like the look of them and have a feeling they may be a kindred spirit) tell them hello and you'd like to be friends if that's okay.

I think that would be nice. I'm feeling rather opposed to unspoken social norms at the moment. I really just miss my dearest friends.



ps. Anyone know what movie (or technically, book) that image is from?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What we're reading | Kisses from Katie

This book made me cry. Sob, actually. Literally tears streaming down my face as Rene looked over at me across his schoolwork on the table with a sympathetic, questioning smile.

This book brought many of those moments to our home and local coffee shops in the two days it took me to read it. It also made me want to move to Uganda. Or Romania. Anywhere I can take care of babies and adopt twenty-some children and just love them and hold them and teach them about Jesus.

Because really, this is not a book about Katie Davis. It's not really about Uganda or her amazing story or her fourteen (yes, 14!) adopted daughters. This is a book about Jesus.

Katie, her ministry, her Ugandan family, her stories... they are all woven together and thoroughly drenched through with the rich, beautiful, incredible story of God's love and purpose for us. It's a genuine example of what walking with Jesus and loving others looks like.

Now, I realize that not many of us can quit our lives and move to a third world country. But we can all love people. We can exemplify the heart of Jesus to those around us. We can meet their needs. We can show mercy and pursue justice. Wherever you are. Right now.

That is what this book is about and what it will encourage you to do.

I would highly recommend reading it.

You can find more of Katie's writing on her blog and learn more about what she does in Uganda through Amazima Ministries.



Sunday, July 29, 2012

Keep an Open Heart

If we just miss the place we once called home, we will never build one here.

If we only wish for dear, old friends, we will never make new ones.

If we spend all our time searching for the familiar, nothing will ever become familiar.

These are a few things we have learned by leaving everything we know and love. I believe the concepts are finally sinking in. It makes sense. But it is not easy. When you fill your life to the brim with love and beauty and warmth and comfort, it is not easy to start over. It's only natural to miss that place and those people. We begin to believe that all we have is the missing. We fill our hearts with it. And we close ourselves off to anything new because we are afraid and we know that the new will not feel like the old familiar fit.

And that is how we keep ourselves from being happy and from doing good. With closed hearts.

I've heard a lot of people express the importance of keeping an open mind. But I don't think that's nearly as important as keeping an open heart. It is not my mind that allows me to be moved by compassion, to be understanding, to love others. It is my heart.

Today as I walked home through the city, after breakfast with dear new friends who will become old familiar ones, I realized my heart was opening up a little more to this new life. I didn't see it happening and its sort of scary. An open heart is a risky thing to carry with you. But it is so, so worth it.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why we're here.

In the now almost-seven months we've been here, in the eight months we've had this blog, we've never really shared about what brought us out here. About why we're here.

Yes, Rene got a job. And though those are harder to come by these days, a job in and of itself wouldn't have lured us away from all we've ever known and all those we love. It's much more than that. It had to be.

See, we really didn't want to move across the country. Not at first. But God made it pretty clear that He was the one lining things up. We didn't do a thing. Just obeyed. So here we are.

And this video does an amazing job of showing what we are so privileged to be a part of. Take a look...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy six months!

Jess and I have now lived in PA for 6 months. I let out a deep sigh as I typed that last sentence up.
Half a year in a different world. Half a year away from friends and family. Half a year away from the life I once knew and found oh so comfortable and familiar. To be honest, a big part of me still misses my old life; I don't really know why. I just do.

But believe me when I say that these last six months have been blessed. Here are some things to show you what has happened in the last six months.

We found a place to live (and made it our home).

We adopted Atticus (our wonderful bundle of joy, who's not so much a kitten any more).

We became official Pennsylvanians (& have drivers licenses to prove it!)

We got renters insurance (which was on the "do to" list for a while).

We learned to cook (me more than Jess, and I'm still significantly improving).

We became better friends with each other.

We met people who we think we'll be best friends with (both Jess and I).

We planted our first garden (we'll see what happens).

We learned to endure the weather changing (believe it or not, seasons are difficult to get use to).

We learned to appreciate different types of people (diversity is huge out here, just not in a racial way).

We learned who the Amish are.

We learned who the Mennonite are.

We learned who the Brethren are.

We've met generational locals (people who have lived here for 4+ generations).

We've met people who are just as new (and just as foreign) as us.

We discovered Tomato Pie Café, Chestnut Hill Café, Splits & Giggles, On Orange, and Central Market.

We've learned some of the local lingo. For example...

Shore = Beach

Tunes = Songs

Putzin Around = Messing Around

Out'n the lights = Turn off the lights

We've seen endless forests, electrical storms, thunder storms, snow, leaves changing color, hills, and big rivers.

Jess and I have learned to be the "new people". And I believe that's an incredibly great lesson to learn. Now I know how a new person feels (and how to love them) when they get immersed into a new location (and new culture).

We both have changed; in some cases changed a lot. But they're good changes. Hopefully we'll be able to share more of them here as time goes on.


Friday, June 8, 2012

oh hey internet

You're still here.

I'm glad. Because we have been completely failing as bloggers lately. Completely.

But hey, life takes priority. And I'm pretty sure no one cried because of my lack of updates. And it's okay to blog as little and sporadically as we wish because it's our blog, after all. Okay, enough of my excuses. We're trying to be better bloggers again. Here's what we have been up to…

I (Jess) flew to California for a hectic but wonderful weekend of family time and mostly work.

I shot this wedding….

 With this hilarious bridal party…

And this awesome second photographer

And also shot an engagement session for this gorgeous couple…


And then I came home to lovely, warm, sunny Lancaster and our billion degree apartment that has no a/c unit. (We have since remedied that and I'm not baking as I edit any longer. Huzzah!) 

And I came home to my amazing husband who… guess what he did while I was away? It has to do with his secret identity. This will explain….

I didn't know I was married to Batman either.

In all seriousness through, it feels good to be back home. It also feels good to call Pennsylvania home and really mean it. I missed waking up to this every morning…



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What are you afraid of?

God asked me that question this week. And the answer, well, it was illuminating. Here's a bit of background… Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. always. I wanted to paint, draw, anything that involved creating something. As long as I can remember, I've always felt that it's what I was made to do somehow. In more recent years, I've even had complete strangers pray for me and prophesy about how God would use me as an artist somehow, through painting specifically.

Now ask me how often I paint these days…  Probably once or twice every few months. yes, months.

(Ouch. I hate answering that question. It reminds me of exactly what I'm sharing with you today.)

You're probably thinking "Okay, crazy Jess, why are you not spending any time at all doing the thing you love most and you know you were made to do?"

I am afraid. 

I'm afraid of not being good enough. of failing. I'm afraid of making art that doesn't live up to my own expectations. I'm afraid of not being as good as this artist or that artist. I am so afraid. And I've allowed it to paralyze me.

I've known this for a while, but as of late God has been revealing to me just what this fear means. It doesn't come from humility or insecurity. It comes from pride and self reliance. I am too proud to even allow for the chance that I will fail. And in doing so, I am completely relying on me and not at all on God's provision and direction.

Some big changes are in order. Some of the outward sort. But mostly the heart-transplant sort of changes are needed. I need God to step in, rid me of my pride, and show me again how to trust Him. even when I am afraid.

It may not be painting for you, but we all have something. Something that we have allowed fear and pride to keep us from doing. Something that we have grasped too tightly in our own hands. We are all learning to trust.

What are you afraid of? 



Thursday, May 10, 2012

a twitter link up

One of my favorite things about blogging is the community. Even though our little blog, small as it is and sporadically as I post, I've met some incredibly sweet people who are constantly there sharing their support, encouragement, and inspiration. connecting with those awesome bloggers on twitter is one of the best ways to keep up on that connection. So today, I'm participating in our dear friend Laura's Twitter link up! It's a fun way to make some new blogging friends and keep in touch. Here's how it works...
Meet & Tweet Twitter HOP!

Your host:
This week's co-hosts are:
Kristine @ The Foley Fam
Samantha @ The Peanuts Gang
Hailey @ Baby Baker Love

The Rules

1. Mandatory you follow your hosts
{They are the first 7 in the linky.}

2. Follow at least 5 new people via Twitter
{Or more! Introduce yourself... Its a great way to make new friends!}

3. Spread the word!
{The more the merrier! Grab a button and add it to your blog, 
Tweet or Facebook about the link up.}

Our Reflection

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Our Reflection"><img src="" alt="Our Reflection" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

One lucky link up person will WIN a FREE
solo guest post on Our Reflection blog!

Drum roll please....
Last weeks Meet & Tweet winner is Kim from The Sassy Life

Please link up your Twitter account, not your blog.
Want to be a future co-host? Email Laura at

ps. Heard about the Elevate Blog Conference?

The Elevate Blog Conference was designed to provide an opportunity for bloggers to meet together in an uplifting environment to get to know each other, build relationships and be inspired to take their blogs and businesses to the next level.  The day will be spent hearing from speakers, attending workshops, networking, working on a service project, crafting and enjoying one another's company.  
Lunch and dinner will be provided as well as all crafting supplies. We are blessed to be working with The Shine Project to assemble school supply kits for local elementary schools in Orange County as well as Arizona. We would appreciate any donations that you would like to bring and contribute, but it is not mandatory. If you would like to gather items from friends, family or local businesses to bring that would be wonderful. If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate items to the service project please contact us via email.  We are looking for items such as: glue sticks, markers, pencils, pens, erasers, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, highlighters, & pencil boxes.

When: June 9, 2012
Where: Huntington Beach, CA
Want more details? Click HERE or email ElevateBlogConference{at}