Paradise

Hello friends:) since it’s been a little while since my last post, this one is somewhat of a jumble. But hey,  I ((think??)) it all goes together pretty well, so we’ll see ((this one might be a little rough))! When the new year rolls around we often find things that are telling us that all you need is a week-long experience in paradise to get yourself back to what you need or who you want to be.

Can we please get rid of that idea?
Paradise is found where you make it, and once that happens, it’s time to get the whole life detox rolling.

Personal Paradise// Seek Your Own Paradise
Since winter break has recently come to a close, I’m sure that all of you have seen the media posts saying something like, “missing paradise” alongside a picture of a beach or snowcapped mountain. Maybe you even posted one yourself. Who am I to judge? There’s nothing wrong with missing a worry-free place.
What I have the issue with is that everyone seems to live in the complete denial of the existence of paradise around us ((even when we aren’t in a beautiful place)). Websters Dictionary doesn’t define paradise as “an amazing vacation” or “where you can tan, worry-free all day, getting served strawberry smoothies”. It’s defined as;
-a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect
-a place that is perfect for a particular activity or for a person who enjoys that activity
And I’m pretty sure we find that a lot more frequently than just when we. Maybe I’m wrong-who knows, but sometimes laying in bed with a lavender-scented candle burning feels a whole lot like paradise.
I love the beach and adventures, don’t get me wrong. But let’s break the thought that paradise is only found on vacations or special occasions. Sometimes, paradise is simply sipping Peppermint shakes from Chick Fil A and having lightsaber fights in Target.
And to take that a little farther, if the renewing of our hearts and minds happens a lot easier in paradise, create your own personal paradise.
Stop using a lack of paradise as excuse to resist change.
If you want paradise, seek it for yourself.cropped-img_2297.jpg

A Heart Decluttered ((The Life Detox))
Friends, as I’ve been following my resolution for the past week-and-a-half-ish, I think that I found something that goes hand in hand with living with intention. It’s simple and truly amazing.
A heart decluttered.
What is that? It’s cleaning out your heart that I’m entirely sure is jam-packed full of things that really don’t need to be crammed in. When the new year rolls around, we often find ourselves decluttering our homes and lives, but rarely do we find ourselves decluttering what needs it most.
((OUR HEARTS))
Sometimes we find ourselves so caught up in the crazy beautifulness of life with our open hearts and start letting them fill up with a whole lot of stuff that doesn’t need to be carried around. Many of us keep painful topics so close to our hearts as a way of keeping them on our mind. But if that painful topic is just something that is causing you pain or restricting you from living, take it off your heart.
Declutter it.
Lately, I’ve gotten to reconnect with a few amazing counselors that I’ve had in the past at Kanakuk and it sparked my remembering of a verse that truly is so so great.

Proverbs 4:23 [Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.]

When I was younger, we all treated this verse as a joke, using it as excuses to get out of “kanakrushes”. Now, I am so beyond grateful that it was the first thing I saw when I woke up for those two weeks.
Living with an open heart is ((COMPLETELY)) different than opening your heart to everything.
Please open your hearts, let new experiences shape and wear them, but don’t leave them open to everything. Don’t let heartbreak and painful, toxic memories build up in that little heart of yours. Guard your hearts.
Let those painful situations shape and make your heart stronger. But oh my gosh please don’t let them sit on your heart. LET YOUR HEART GET FILLED UP WITH THE THINGS AND PEOPLE YOU LOVE. Don’t ((not even for a little bit)) let that pain take the place of all the beautiful things waiting to be let into our lives.
And sometimes if a heart-decluttering isn’t quite enough, all we need is a full-life detox; a full-life decluttering, to get us back on track.

The Full Life Detox
Sunday afternoon, I ((unintentionally)) participated in a full life detox. Just like the decluttering, I started with cleaning out things I had been holding onto that were just keeping me back from living with intention. While memories and the objects attached to them cannot physically hold us back, they make it a whole heck of a lot harder to. So into shoe boxes and trash bags went most of the contents of the floor of my closet, and it already felt like a weight was lifted.
Then I took it a little farther.
Often around this time of year, you see the posts on social media where people say something along the lines of, “New year, time to get rid of toxic relationships in my life.”
I was discussing this with a friend recently and here’s the catch, a lot of these relationships aren’t actually toxic. Some friendships are just geared differently. Some are meant to be strong for a while but need a break from each other after that period so fighting doesn’t happen. It’s not anywhere close to a toxic relationship. It’s simply learning to deal with different kinds of people. So stop fighting and take a breather, don’t completely erase the relationship. Matthew 5:9 says, “How blessed are those who make peace!”
Friends, make peace ((with yourself and others)) and let your life and heart get replenished!

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for pushing through the jumble of this blog post:).
Here’s the checklist I have for you to get rolling on the personal paradise//heart decluttering train.

  • Find//create paradise within your life

  • Spend some time alone to discover what’s weighing on your heart

  • GET RID OF THE THINGS WEIGHING ON YOUR HEART

  • Now, physically get rid of things restricting you from becoming what you want

  • Acknowledge friendships that might not be exactly what you thought

with love,
Elle

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3 Things

Y’all, sometimes you just need to take the time to think of all the little things in life that make you smile. And it’s just as important to take that time on the bad days as it is the good, because straight up-there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for. So for a little pre-Thanksgiving blog, I have been thinking about the things that I am most thankful for and how those all came to be.
The way I see it, my life has been broken down into a few solid events that changed my views of the world + shaped who I am today.

Newport Beach, California

[Spring Break 2015]

I have already posted about this wonderful trip, but it truly was the point when I realized that I wanted my blog to be MORE. It was the kind of adventure where you woke up each day excited for what was going to come next. I could give you every detail of that week, but it’s the individual memories that mean more. Brynny, I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for you taking me along with you, this trip was a lot more beneficial than I had ever thought. Somewhere smushed in between bonfires of Reece’s + marshmallows and shopping for graduation dresses, I leaned how much we all affect each other’s lives. It taught me that taking the time to learn about someone’s life could mean more than anything. It was the man on Venice Beach, telling us that he wanted his art to become history, his faith that his sand-art would outlast everything.*see “In a Golden State of Inspiration“* His faith in what he hoped for. [Hebrews 11:1] The way that everyone on Venice Beach was so diverse, but somehow created a culture of it all. What a beautiful mess-in a way, it was a representation of our world. I think that was the exact moment I started to think of our lives as one, big, beautiful mess. It was the bonfire with people I had never met, yet they welcomed me like family. It helped me realize that we all need to take a little time out of our lives to welcome each other. We all need to let His light shine through us. [Matthew 5:16] This spring break taught me that I could use my writing to spread his word, and that was what I wanted most.

Kanakuk Camps

[Majorly summers 2014 + 2015] 

 “Don’t be a cafeteria Christian”.

That’s what has been in my head this week. We can’t pick and choose what parts of the Bible to listen to in the same way that we can pick and choose what to grab from the lunch line. Kanakuk [& K-Life] have played a major part in my life, but the past 2 summers have truly altered my views of life.

2014: It was this summer that taught me how important it was to be strong in my faith & rejoice in times of trial. It prepared me for a year full of daily challenges that I knew I couldn’t handle on my own. At times, I felt [and still feel] like I am drowning. But I know that He will always pull me out. [Psalms 18:16] This was also the summer that began my love for writing. I met someone [who is constantly mentioned in Elle’s Adventures] who showed me exactly what I needed, the chance to use writing to spread God’s word. Her blog started mine & I am so beyond grateful for you, Cas.

2015: This summer, K2 hit me. Hard. Like truck-going-down-a-highway-coming-straight-at-you hard. I had strayed so far from my faith. I was trying to fill the holes in me with everything BUT what they were craving to be filled with-God. All of the sudden I was struck with an overwhelming calm. My past year was such a struggle and it seemed like all the weights from it were completely lifted off of me. God was good and He was all I needed to be complete. I did not need to strive to fill those holes with worldly things [other people, makeup, clothes, etc.] I finally realized the importance of everything I had been taught since I was little. I wasn’t ashamed to say that I was a Christian anymore. It’s who I am and I wasn’t going to hide it anymore. This summer was 2 weeks chocked full of “ah-ha” moments and sweet, pure laughter.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

[November 2014] 

Last year, I was strung up on getting out of KC. And on a boarding school visit, I stopped for an afternoon in Chapel Hill. For those that know me well [or anyone around me for long enough] you know my love for poetry. I am so mesmerized by how 26 little letters can string together + make us feel so much. Then you take those beautiful words and smash them down into tiny chunks that still are so so powerful. Okay so lets continue. On this trip I stumbled into a cute lil used-bookstore with piles and piles of books stacked to the ceiling. And somewhere in this beautiful mess I found a collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson poems. It was ripping at the binding and had a part of a cover page but it was that book that changed how I saw the world. I absorbed those works and started to look at the world as if it was a poem, one full of beauty and mystery. Life was an amazing poem, it was my story and I simply was reading through it. This bookstore introduced me to poetry and showed me that you can find something great in a jumbled mess.

These three events were the kind of thing that seemed so small, so unimportant at the time but ended up changing everything in my life. They led up to meeting the most important people in my life today and helping me grow closer to others. God is so good. So so so good, people. Sometimes I wonder what would have changed if I didn’t do a little thing that ended up making a big impact. What would have happened if I didn’t doodle a Bible verse in my planner that day? Then I wouldn’t have had conversation about God with one of my favorite people on the planet. So thank you, RK, for sending me that friendly reminder of the Lord that day, it still is written at the beginning of each week.

What I am trying to say through all of this [I guess¿] is to savor the moments. You never know what is going to end up turning into something MUCH larger than what it seems. Rejoice in the little things + take a little time to think about what you’re thankful for:)

with love,

Elle