:: on encouragement and hope ::

encourageNational Day of Encouragement. Yes, that is real! It’s a “thing!” September 12th, in fact! It was last Friday, and I found out as I walked out of the gym from my morning workout. There was a giant calendar on the wall immediately left of the women’s locker room and I happened to glance over at it, looking for class times. I quickly scanned the calendar and looked at today’s date, September 12th. It only had one expo’ed in statement, and it read, “National Day of Encouragement.”

I walked out of the gym, beaming from ear to ear, excited that no matter how cheesy it sounded, it was a day marked on the calendar to spend a moment encouraging another human being. As most of you know, I really really like encouraging people. Like really. I love notes and cards and texts and letters. I like making food and pouring wine, and listening to others as they also listen to me share the thoughts and feelings on my mind. I really think we need more of that. Honestly. There is so much to be overwhelmed by and it can be so easy to let the weight of so many situations rest on my shoulders, it is imperative to be surrounded by genuine kind, encouraging and loving individuals. What is encouraging and motivating is the story of that which landed me at the gym on that beautiful Friday morning at 6:15am.

The previous night I watched the season premier of the Biggest Loser, on which one of my dear friends works as one of the Athletic Trainer on set. I would not consider myself a diehard fan of the show, but in this case, I wanted to see her appearances and at least watch the first episode. As I watched minute after minute, I found myself relating with these individuals, the struggle to push through moments of pain and soreness and the feeling of quitting, not just in physical fitness, but in many aspects of life. The fears, the feelings of inadequacy, the emotional roller coaster of drastic lifestyle change. I found myself crying, moved to tears by their stories of sorrow and loss and hardship and yet such powerful waves of hope. The producers of this show have done an amazing job at allowing the audience to be captured and captivated by the stories and heavy emotions of the contestants. It was such a beautiful episode, in my opinion.

As the episode ended, I found myself wishing it was not 10pm and desperately wanting to go to the gym and workout! But instead, I went to bed, gave my body some much needed rest and recovery, and hit the gym bright and early the following morning. As the previews for the coming weeks and the layout of previews for the remainder of the season aired, one of the contestants said a statement while he was standing on the scale that hit home on so many levels. He said, “ I’m starting to let go of grief, and the flip side to that is you open your life to joy.”

I have come to realize and accept that I am an extremely emotional person, so, as per usual, that statement made me well up in tears, agreeing with the contestant and empathizing with the reality that with open hands and the release of grief in a healthy time frame, I have begun to let go of grief day by day, and have been filled with more joy than I ever thought possible in this new season of life. Biggest Loser, you win at not only motivating the physical sides of health and wellness, but also the psychological and emotional sides of wellness, too. Let’s encourage one another; let’s build each other up. And let’s inspire each other to live well each and every day. We can choose to make each and every day national day of encouragement!

: the body :

Photo Courtesy: Letters and Lens Photography

Photo Courtesy: Letters and Lens Photography

This morning I attended my first church service since moving up to my new community! What a beautiful experience to worship again as the body of Christ, this time, on the Central Coast! As I sat in the service, I began reflecting and realized over the past few weeks, that it’s been easy to live on my own strength and to forget how much it has been God’s strength that has gotten me through the toughest of times. It’s easy to forget those nights of crying and moments of such deep sorrow and loss and confusion and desperation. It’s easy to forget the pleas with God for peace and comfort and hope when He provides peace and comfort and hope in the most unexpected moments and places. And when He provides rather quickly! It’s easy when so much is going so well, when a new job is exciting and challenging and exhilarating. It’s easy when a new community is welcoming and warm and inviting. It’s easy when life feels so great, so “together,” to forget that it is He who is the Ultimate Provider of that strength, peace, comfort, hope, and childlike JOY.

Today in the middle of worship, however, the reminder of His power and strength in my life became quite apparent again. As we sang “Lord, I need you, oh I need you, ever hour I need you,” I was brought to tears, remembering the goodness of my God who has provided for me time and time again. I broke down, quietly of course, tears flowing down my cheeks and they wouldn’t stop for the remainder of the song. Those tears held so many emotions: gratitude, joy, grief, and exhaustion (my new roles have kept me busy!). Ultimately, the reminder to turn to Him daily, hourly in fact is what brought those heavy falling tears.

Today, I thank God for instilling in me a strength greater than I ever knew was inside me. I thank Him for providing me with so much NEW: a new city, a new job opportunity, a new community, a new coast, and the reminder that I am strong. I am a woman built and rooted in His strength and that family and friends are along for the ride with me as well. He has provided and paved a way for me to grow personally and professionally. And I couldn’t be more grateful for the amount of peace, comfort, and joy He has blessed me with at the beginning of this new journey.

The sermon today was based on the book of James and patient suffering. Oh, the irony! J But in contrast to suffering, I realized today that He is healing my heart, day after day, and allowing joy to invade every aspect of my heart and soul. I don’t know that I would consider myself in the midst of grief and suffering any longer, and that is victory! Standing in church today, looking around and realizing I knew only one person in the group, I expected to feel alone. I expected to feel sad, having left not only family and friends, but also my church family in Fullerton. While there is sadness in moving to a new coast and starting a new job with a new community and not having every one within an hour’s drive, I was reminded today I am not alone. During worship, I felt anything but alone this morning. And I am so grateful for that. I am grateful to never truly be alone, as I believe in a God who does not leave nor forsake His children. We all matter to Him, and we are all stronger than we think we are. Amen.

:: a new home ::

10387209_10100241692798060_8367219722095797606_nTeaching. Public school. Teenagers. Day one. WOW. Energy is drained, eyes are heavy, feet are achy, back is sore, and my heart is…HAPPY. It is full. What a journey, what an adventure…

Today, I started my first day of teaching Sports Medicine and Health Care courses at PRHS. I was blessed to start off my morning bright and early at 6:30am, sitting across the table at Vic’s Café with a former Bearcat. This promising athletic training student will begin her college experience today as she drives across the country to the beautiful state of Idaho. We sat, laughing, drinking coffee and eating delightful breakfasts, as we shared excitement, mild anxiety, and some nervousness about our new adventures. It’s crazy to believe I only met this sweet gal two weeks ago. It’s funny how God brings various people into our lives, to teach us, grow us, challenge us, stretch us, and encourage us. I can’t wait to hear about what God does in her life as she transitions into college!

After she left breakfast and we said a quick “see you in January,” I had a few minutes before I needed to leave for school. I flipped my journal open and began to write. But before I wrote my first word, I realized I hadn’t written an entry since June. My last entry was from June 12th, which was a few days before I made my decision to accept the position at PRHS to serve as Head Athletic Trainer and ROP Instructor for various health care career pathways. I sat down to write a pro’s/con’s list at Linnea’s coffee house in SLO, waiting to have a long list of “cons” to talk myself out of this new offer. I never made it to writing that list. A few phone calls later, lots of prayer, followed by some tears, I came to the decision that this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I love how God did the work of making a “pro/con” list for me…I never wrote a word on either side of my paper. It has stayed blank since the 12th and this morning, I found it again. This morning and even tonight, I am thanking God for leading me here, to this city and to this new job. He has led me through some of the most challenging, scary, sorrowful, and unknown moments of my life thus far (let along the last 6 months), and He has proven himself absolutely worthy of not only my trust, but my life.

I have now lived in Paso Robles as an official resident for three weeks and two days.  As I prepared for this move and fairly radical life change-friends, family, city, church, job-I didn’t think too much about what the actual move would truly feel like. As friends have asked how I’ve been doing and sincerely caring for and about me, I have been overwhelmed at my own process of emotions. While the word “easy” does not seem to fit, this life transition has felt “right.” I used to think a new location never really starts as feeling like “home.” A home is built, it is worn and added to; stones are removed and then replaced and finally find their proper placement. We all have to start somewhere. While I believe these statements to be true, I am also surprised at the comfort, peace, joy, excitement, and even adrenaline I have felt during this transition. It all happened so quickly–the job, the move, and the overwhelming sense of peace in a new place. I absolutely loved my first week and a half working football camp and meeting my new students. I loved decorating my house and am grateful for the visits, cards, and delightful “parent weekend” I have been blessed to have since I moved at the end of July. If I could only use two words to describe my current state, it would be these: blessed and peace-filled. With excitement, anticipation, joy, and hope, I can confidently say Paso Robles is my new home. Cheers!

Vibrant Exposure: Pages, Pixels & Pens

Vibrant: pulsing or throbbing with energy or activity; vigorous, lively, and vital.

Exposure: the process of allowing light to reach light-sensitive material to create latent image; a single shutter cycle

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Photo by Kelly Franks

Welcome friends and family! This blog has been a long time coming, to say the least. These two terms have multiple meanings, not only in a definition-sense, but also personally. Life is best lived when it is lived loudly, with energy and enthusiasm and excitement. It is also best lived when authenticity and truth are shared, and the darkness is brought into light.

I absolutely love the process of jotting down thoughts and feelings and experiences and have been doing so since I could pick up a pen and write. I literally have over 25 notebooks filled with scribbles, stream of conscious thoughts, detailed stories, and daily recaps of a day in the life of me. And since I exhibit slight hoarder tendencies, I have kept all essays and writing assignments I’ve ever written since middle school.  Needless to say more, I LOVE all things writing.

In addition to writing, I found my love and passion for photography in the past three years. Well, that’s not entirely true. Friends dating back all the way to elementary school would probably best remember me always having a disposable camera on field trips and random adventures, and the number of photos grew exponentially as I hit middle school and high school. The peak of capturing moments on film truly sky rocketed when I started high school. While I have countless photo albums from my cross country days as well as high school yearbook assignments, I did not even begin to understand and truly appreciate the art of photography until June 5, 2011.

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Photo by Kelly Franks

The long awaited arrival of my brand new EOS Rebel T1i DSLR came on that beautiful morning. I ordered it after some extensive camera research; the desire for high quality for a reasonable price, all to start this newly established passion. It was a belated graduation gift to myself after completing my Master’s program at CSUF and up to that point, one of the hardest years of my life. (But that is another story for another day!) As I ventured to different locations to capture life behind a lens, I began to see things differently. Photography is all about perspective; a vision, a point of view. It’s about seeing and capturing the moment. The beauty of photography is that each picture has a story of it’s own. I have a story of my own.

Back to the history of why and how Vibrant Exposure came to be created! The story of how I decided on the name is a memorable one! I knew I wanted a personal blog where I could write about what God was teaching me throughout various stages of life.  But the name?! Gosh, this was going to be challenging. Fortunately, I had one of my favorite partners in crime sitting next to me on a beautiful June evening in a cute little boutique hotel named Las Brisas Del Mar in Santa Barbara. It was a family vacation and I invited Tina to come with us and I am so glad I did for many, many reasons!  I had left Fullerton earlier that week to drive up the Paso Robles for a job interview (another story, for another day).

After a delightful dinner and walk on the pier, Tina and I sat down to enjoy some wonderful fellowship and a delicious bottle of flavonoids- thank you “Bling” wine! One of my favorite traits of this dear friend of mine is that she is always down for whatever the evening holds. I wanted to just relax and catch up on our lives, as she lives in San Diego and we do not get to spend a lot of time visiting each other.  Without any preplanning, I asked if she would want to help me brainstorm the name for my blog. She excitedly agreed! As she scribbled down handfuls of words in the most unorganized but made-sense-to-her fashion, we laughed and reminisced about our high school days of story lining and running and editing. Around 1am, the name Vibrant Exposure was decided upon.

It is a name that captures the current season of my life. A blend of writing and photography, Vibrant Exposure is an avenue to share thoughts, experiences, excitements and joys as well as the challenges and fears, as I continue to grow and change. It is a space of bright life, of living out loud and learning each day how beautiful each season of life is, no matter how many joys and heartbreaks coexist. I hope you’ll enjoy and I hope you’ll continue to journey with me.

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Photo by Kelly Franks