I am forever thankful for Arizona

My 32nd year of life was full. Most of it was spent living in Arizona where I learned to step out of my comfort zone in more ways then I would have ever thought. I lived in a city where I knew no one. The app WAZE became my best friend, although it was really important to me to pay attention to where I was because I wanted to learn to get to places without the voice leading me. I wanted to feel like I belonged. 

That year in Arizona was life changing to me. I learned who I was and who I wanted to be. I learned what my weaknesses were and what my strengths were. I was stripped of everything I knew. I was in a city I knew no one, which for me is a big deal. I like my people. I like to be around people. 

I was faced with a choice. A choice to isolate and live in my fear of stepping out or I could use the tools I had to find people. Instagram was a life changer for me. I already loved what the app did and does, which is yes a tool to share what you love, it’s used as a tool to build a business but more then that it was my way to connect with people. Instagram brought me community. The people and friendships that came from this are people I absolute adore to this day. I am seriously so thankful for the people I know from there, you all know who you are!  Instagram was my lifeline to the outside world. This app was a tool to cause me to step out of my comfort zone and my fear of meeting new people. I spent so much time searching for people to connect with. I also used my gift as photographer to connect as well. I would offer photo sessions with models, creatives and others to meet. I figure I could do what I love to connect. Models wanted images. Stores wanted images, so it fit.  Friendships were developed. Real conversation were had. I would even go to all the “cool” coffee shops and ask people if I could photograph them. I created some of my favorite work during this time. Instagram is a beautiful tool!

That time in Arizona was also used to break me in areas that I needed to be stripped of. I learned of areas of my life that I was selfish, areas that I wasn’t considerate of others, areas of pride and I learned how much I was so consumed by what others thought of me that I wasn’t taking joy in who I was and am. These times of brokenness in our lives are good and needed. We are better because of them and those around us feel more loved by us as we learn to be more about others then ourselves.

My marriage grew in ways that I am forever thankful. Matt was my only friend for a while. So all those “marriage fights” couldn’t last long because all we had was each other to hang out with. We learned to better communicate, our friendship deepened and we learned to lean on each other more then ever.

The kids were my side kicks. I would take them with me so I could photograph people. They were MY people and I loved having them along. Arizona was hot, so we swam most days and drank a lot of water and iced coffee! 

We ended moving back home to Albuquerque. It was bittersweet because right around the time we were offered to move home, we finally connected with people who become our friends. We started to feel good about where we were but also loved the idea of moving home to the people we loved and missed. We did move home. We came back unsure why the heck we ever moved but as the months have gone by here back at home we have seen that Arizona was used in many ways and I am thankful. I am thankful that that move impacted us in deep ways, I am thankful for the friendships made there and I am thankful to be home. 

Moving home was an easy transition overall but here were some challenges. In someways it felt good and like we never left and then in other ways it was difficult for me personally. Matt was over the moon to be home but again for me I faced more challenges then I would have ever thought. I mean coming home should be easy peasy right? I ended up facing some hard friendship challenges. I learned more about myself and I really learned who my people are. I have learned how important communication is and how I would rather talk about all the things then let anything weird be shoved aside. Communication brings growth to a relationship. The hard, the awkward, the good… all of it is so important and worth talking about. Also forgiveness and grace are so important. Humans are messy man… so so so messy and like my friend always says “grace grace grace we all need grace.” So true!! As people we need to stick together, forgive, love, laugh, cry, try again, and do life together. Although I have a few friendships that aren’t where I would like them I am believing and hoping for the best. I am hoping for healing and deeper understanding how to love better, communicate clearer, and hopefully we can move on together. Regardless I have amazing people in my life and I want to love well, communicate with grace and laugh a whole lot!!!

So here’s to turning 33. This adulting thing is one crazy journey. I don’t know what is ahead but I am hoping for the best! So much good and so much I am unsure of, but nonetheless Jesus is before me and I am trusting in His goodness. 

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!!! 

Image: Katie Lively

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