i wanna get witcha and take your pitcha.

*Deep breath in*

Ok, friends. Here’s the truth of it: Imma big fan of taking pictures. Not just Instagram pictures–fancy camera pictures.

For awhile now, I’ve been practicing practicing practicing and learning oodles about photography. But there’s an issue. I’m an anxiety-ridden perfectionist–killer combo, I know. So, the idea of putting my work out to the world makes me want to hurl.

You mean, I could be scrutinized?! People might not like my work? Are people going to roll their eyes at yet another girl with a nice camera who thinks she’s a photographer? Will people think I’m lame?!

Um. Yes. All of those things are likely to happen if they have not already.

But I can’t shake how much I love it. I love learning more about it. I love capturing memories for my friends and seeing their reactions. The rush I get when I take a priceless image is unbelievably refreshing. Admittedly, I feel super discouraged when I look at a poor quality picture I’ve taken–when my metering is off, it’s overexposed, out of focus, or just plain dumb-looking. It’s easy to fall into a “Who am I kidding? I can’t do this trash” attitude.

Then I look back on the last 4 years that I’ve been learning about photography and realize that I’ve gone from taking an engagement photo like this:

DSC_0195// That light. That vignette! God help us all. Two beautiful subjects, and I’ve done them no favors. //

To capturing an engagement photo like this:


// Disclaimer: this is not to say Liz is an upgrade from Danielle…you’re both stunnas. //

Sweet gracious. I have learned so much. In terms of technique, I’m certainly an amateur. Am I quitting my job to become a full-time photographer? Girl, please. I simply want to keep growing in my skills and gain more experience.

There’s still so much I need to understand about this field. I’m grateful to have learned from talented people like my cousin who have inspired me to be bold in this crazy love of mine. Señor and many of my friends keep believing in me and pushing through my self-doubt. And, boy, is that self-doubt screaming its ugly brains out.

I don’t claim to be exceptional. I don’t even claim to be good. But I do feel like I’m improving. And I would love more practice.

Maybe even on you?

So, here it goes. If you feel so inclined, I’d be honored if you would check out my work. Perhaps even schedule a session with me if you live nearby or know that I’ll be visiting. And if you have an opinion, be nice to this perfectionistic soul. I’m just here to learn.


*Deep breath out*

yes, do it with confidence.



I have a love/hate relationship with the enneagram.

If you aren’t familiar with this particular personality assessment, it’s time to get edumacated. At my most basic understanding of it, the enneagram analyzes your basic fears, desires, and motivations. What drives you? What are you like at your worst or best? It is both enlightening and disturbing.

When I took the test for the first time, it informed that I am most likely a type 3 on a 1-9 scale of types. No, that doesn’t mean that being a type 1 makes you the world’s most perfect person. It just gives you the right to belt Nelly’s painfully poor-written lyrics, “I am number 1…2 is not a winner and 3 nobody remembers.”

But back to me. To 3. In all of my tres glory, I am motivated by the desire to feel valuable and worthwhile. I want attention, to be adored, to impress people, to be–oh my gosh, I am a narcissist.

No really. Discovering this was excruciatingly embarrassing. Granted, I have those tendencies when I am at my worst. At my best, I have a desire to achieve, to be successful, can be charming, blah blah blah whatever. All I heard was, “Dear Laura. You’re full of yourself, and it’s time to stop worrying about what people think of you.”

I was especially aware of my three-ness recently when I boldly decided to press pause on my grad school endeavors. That’s right. I am no longer a student at DenSem. I am a stay-at-home wife with a part-time job who has to make a conscious daily choice not to waste all my newfound free time watching Scandal (HOW HAVE I JUST DISCOVERED THIS SHOW). Life is full of hard disciplines, amiright?

Now that the emotional dust has settled and I have entered into my new routine(ish), I feel confident in my decision. My reasons aren’t important right now, and I may discuss some other time. For now, I am focusing on the fact that I made the choice despite the overwhelming pressure I put on myself to do what others would perceive as respectable. Will people see my as a failure? Am I being irresponsible? Will I be perceived as a quitter?

Notice how most of those questions I asked myself were incredibly “3” in their nature. So concerned with others’ opinion, pleasing others, keeping people’s perceptions of me positive. When it came to finalizing my decision, those questions had to be silenced. Not only are they deafening, they’re also defeating.

Dear world of opinionated haters, I’m not here to please you.

That’s not to say I haven’t sought the wisdom of others in this process. In fact, it was through a teary conversation with señor and late-night chats with wise best friends that I felt the freedom to step back from grad school. But to those who have an opinion on how someone should live their life or how a particular person’s success should be measured, I say hush. And to those voices in my head that paralyze and deceive, I say stop talking.

So, yes. I will enter this season with confidence though everything ahead is not as clearly defined as I previously thought. I will make this season worthwhile, intentional, and filled with life-giving pursuits.

Ultimately, I am not what I do. I am not what I achieve. My identity is rooted in a much richer source. And He loves 3’s even when they’re a little unhinged.

long live the adventurers.


If you’ve known us for 15 minutes or more, you know we travel like it’s our job. And sometimes it is for a job. But mostly it’s because we were both born with a strong appetite for unique experiences in exotic places. Or, maybe we just really love breathing recycled air in a pressurized cabin on a regular basis. Either way, packing our bags to explore the world is wired into our DNA. Our future chitlins don’t stand a chance.

Per usual, both of us are about to embark on some serious trips this summer. Some together, some apart. While I’m gallivanting through the Midwest and Deep South for the next few weeks for work and play, Señor will be gettin’ his Asian fix in Beijing for a summer class. Tough break, eh? But don’t cry for me (Argentina) because I’ll be getting a stamp in my passport right alongside him when he’s done with his studies.

That’s right. The Armstrongs are taking on Asia. Together. Again. Like we know what we’re doing.

This isn’t our first international rodeo, but I’ll admit the idea of exploring Beijing without a trusty guide–aka my father who has traveled in China so much he’s basically royalty over there. Rumor has it he and Mao Tse Tung had a secret handshake–is a little unnerving. No one wants to be that tourist who’s all, “Do they give out free stuff at the end of that Great Wall attraction? I want a button that says, ‘I just walked on a big wall and all I got was this lousy button.'” Well-seasoned travelers help you avoid such blunders. Guess we’ll have to navigate these waters on our own.

Luckily, it won’t be for long. After our stint in Beijing, we’ll be headed to my brother and sister-in-law’s place outside Hong Kong for a week. Yes. My family lives all over the world. Once our Asian Vacation Sensation With Adoration and Celebration followed by some Rehabilitation from the Dehydration in–ok I’m done. Following our trip to Asia, we’ll lay low in New England for a bit before jetting off to Chicago for a wedding.

Are you exhausted yet? Because the details of the next month and a half are sending my head into a tizzy. I keep reminding myself that all of this travel is worth it. It’s sad to leave our Colorado home for so long, but we know not every summer will look like this. Plus, the next several weeks are not only full of airline itineraries, they’re also full of hugs from family, late night laughfests and cryfests with friends, and memories so big, they’ll make our future kids think they have the coolest parents ever.

We live for adventures, and Señor is hands-down my favorite exploration buddy. It helps tremendously that we travel well together–a great quality to have in a spouse. Like, REALLY essential quality.

We recognize that we’re kind of anomalies. What married couple in their mid-twenties just picks up and travels like we do when it isn’t in our job description? But our flexible jobs, school schedules, and the generosity of family has opened the door for some of these killer opportunities. But adventure means so much more than traveling across the world. Whether your summer plans include staycations or international destinations, discover something new this summer. Adventure is everywhere.

And long live the adventurers.

of doubt, anger, and sadness.


I will never understand people who say they have never doubted God–his goodness, his plan, his existence. Or, those who have said they’ve never directed even a hint of anger toward him. Are they being honest? Is it possible as a human to not feel such emotions at some point in our faith journey?

If what they say is true, perhaps their faith is greater than mine in moments of heartache.

My heart has been hurting a great deal this week as our closest friends here in Denver lost their baby boy. Two people who love Jesus and have followed him in obedience. The past several months we had with them and their baby on the way are moments I will forever cherish and celebrate.

But now we are mourning for them in a way that is almost paralyzing. I have doubted. I have been angry. I have wept for my sweet friends. I have been asking God what good could possibly come from such a devastating loss. And what good could it do for two people who have been so faithful?

I don’t suppose to understand the fullness of their pain, nor do I assume my grief mirrors theirs. As doubtful and angry as I feel, I am mostly sad for my friends. I wish we could press rewind or wake up from this dream–this nightmare.

This is not how these things are supposed to go.

But since the reality of this situation is upon us, we must decide what to do. We must decide where we will seek strength. We must decide what we will do with our doubt, anger, and sadness. Will we sit in it? Will we surrender it to the Lord? Will we trust that these emotions do not surprise him? Do we know that he can handle the spectrum of our emotions?

Do I trust that God fully meets my friends in the depth of their pain?

I have more questions–many of which may remain unanswered on this side of heaven. They are questions of the purpose, reason, and explanation of this tragedy. They are questions that scare me because some believe they aren’t appropriate. But if these questions are wrong to ask, would God be as powerful as we claim?

For the sake of my friends, I choose to believe that God can handle these questions. I choose to believe he loves my friends. I choose to believe he loves their sweet boy. I choose to believe he sees every tear they shed and anticipates how he will care for them in the weeks and months to come. I choose to have hope. Although doubt is pounding loudly in my heart, I choose to believe with my mind that we will see God’s goodness reveal itself in this tragedy. I choose to believe, along with my friends, that the verse from which they derived their son’s name is true of him today, tomorrow, and forever.

“They will be called Oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61:3



We all experience seasons. Seasons of joy. Seasons of growth. Seasons of loneliness.

Whether distinct or fluid, these seasons begin to define we how reflect back on a given time of life. As of last week, Grant and I just wrapped up our first year of seminary–a season complete. Yet, it is a season not so easily defined.

In many ways, this has been a season of loneliness. We’ve made new friends who have been a joy and reconnected with old friends who have now become like family. But this place is still new. Roads still unfamiliar; people still undiscovered. We love our home by the mountains, but it’s still becoming ours. When I face west, my heart is warmed as I consider the ways in which God has been faithful to us here. Yet, I am still saddened by the loss of past communities we miss so dearly.

This has been a season of learning. And yes, I mean academically. We have been stretched in our capacity to retain information. Visions of blue book tests and research papers haunt our sleep. Fingers crossed that the gobs of content we’ve learned this year somehow sticks in our minds and becomes useful in the future.

By the sheer number of wedding invites we have on our refrigerator door (with more to come!), you would assume it was the summer after college. Christian college students: they can’t be stopped once they walk across that graduation stage. These future dates remind me that we have been in a season of celebration for our friends.

As of the past few days, I’m reminded of how this has been a season of comfort in the midst of grief. Some dear friends of ours out here are mourning the recent loss of their sweet baby boy. We hurt deeply with them. But in the pain, we have found comfort in confirmations of God’s presence. We celebrate the life this precious boy lived within his beautiful momma and the promise of an eternal reunion. We serve a God who loves us so.

This season has been confusing. I have cried in anger toward the Lord for situations that seem unfair–both for myself and others. I’ve spent nights laughing for hours with friends about everything and nothing. I have wrestled with anxiety and sadness and loneliness. I’ve praised God for bringing us to Denver and turned around the next day asking why we’re here. It’s been a season I’ve struggled to hear the voice of God. While I see the prayers of others being answered in this season, I wonder if God has passed me by.

This is real talk, friends. As we continue to reflect on this season and seek to define it, I ask for prayer. For us, for our dear friends who are hurting, and for our future here in Denver. I’m trusting God will continue to reveal our purpose and provide comfort.

Seasons are not always so easily defined. But I am trying to rest in the knowledge that God hears and sees us the same in each of them.


This weekend reminded me of one of my greatest fears.


Letting people in.

I love people. Like, I REALLY love people. I’m an extrovert. Building relationships is my lifeblood. I want to be a counselor. I build emotional attachments to TV characters when I spend too much time by myself watching Netflix. Ope. Just admitted that. Hello!

What I mean by “letting people in” is not a will-you-pray-for-me-I’m-going-through-some-personal-stuff-I-don’t-want-to-discuss kind of vulnerability. It’s the I-need-you-to-walk-alongside-me-in-this-struggle-and-see-it-all kind of vulnerability. But when I truly let people in, they see more than what I think they bargained for: pain, conflicted values, pride, care, envy, genuineness, deceit, love, insecurity.


Why would anyone want to see that? And maybe I don’t want to see it in them either! Let’s all live superficially and be in emotionally distant relationships, ok?! You stay in your corner, and I’ll stay in mine. Let’s meet in the middle when we have something funny to share. Anything beyond the level of “OMG did you see this GIF?” should be kept to yourself.

Ok, no. I don’t mean that–most days. I really want to be known. I really want to know others. To love them fiercely and unconditionally. But gracious, it is hard and terrifying.

I just re-read a poignant, old blog post that accurately describes this fear that I’ve clearly dealt with for some time. I’m learning how to be known and to know others in this new phase of life. It takes a slower pace than I expected. It requires me to let my guard down. If I build the walls higher around me, they’ll only take longer to tear down. The process only will be more arduous and leave more scarring.

But isn’t that the nature of overcoming fear?

Admitting the fear, working toward a solution, taking risks, willingness to accept the process? That’s exactly what opening yourself up to others’ love, critique, and acceptance is all about–the process. We might get burned. People might disappoint us. Our vulnerability is at a level 10, and we only hope those seeing us so completely raw will respond with grace.

Grace allows the muck inside to be seen without judgement. It gives space to explore the uncomfortable emotions. Such grace places value on knowing yourself in the process of knowing others. How can we truly seek to know others and be known if we don’t first know and accept ourselves? Grace makes this possible.

Oh, how we experienced such grace this weekend.

A dear couple who has selflessly invested in and mentored us in ways we could never repay came to town this weekend. Señor and I spent hours being heard. We dreamed, planned, expressed fears, and received prayer. We are so blessed by their presence in our lives. They remind me of the importance of letting people into our life journeys.

It’s worth the risk.

run away with me.


Sometimes, you just need to run away.

From stress.
From expectations.
From routine.
From the chaos of the everyday.

I’m not promoting escape to evade your problems. I’m talking about running away for the sake of renewal.

Lately, it’s hit me like a brick that I can only handle so much. I am a finite being. Elementary yet fundamental concept, is it not?

Señor and I so desperately need renewal. We have been operating on empty for weeks now. Our sleep has suffered. Our bodies are weak. Our relational intimacy has taken a back seat (real talk). And our hearts are weary. We’ve made changes this semester to our daily routines, but it isn’t enough. It’s time for a true and total rest.

So, we’re running away.

Next week we’re spending a few days in the mountains (hooray, spring break!). No phones, no internet–we plan to unplug as much as we can. Also on the docket: exploring, sleeping, cuddling up to Redbox movies, quiet, Jesus time, and lots of conversation about life, the future, and how we can practice intentionality with each other the second half of the semester. Oh, and we’re not going skiing because…well…need I explain my-accident-prone-Midwest-self for the 20th time?

It’s a known fact that señor and I take advantage of any chance to travel–even if it’s just a few hours. In the four years we’ve been together, we’ve traveled to 6 countries and almost 2 dozen states. It’s an obsession. And this is how we feel about it:

DSC_0637(Brought to you by Grant and Laura circa 2010–on our honeymoon in the Bahamas. I just re-discovered this picture, and it is a true gem. No-beard-señor is a rare sight these days. More importantly, we had only been married a week when this was taken, and we are clearly LOVING our lives. The memory warms my heart more than I can handle.)

When was the last time you ran away to be renewed?

healthiness (and other uphill battles).

If you’ve interacted with me much in the past month, you may have seen a crazy look in my eye. It’s midterms. Or, as some may call it: weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Y’all. I’m wiped.

It’s been a heckuva semester so far. I thought that working 20 hours a week, taking 12 hours of class, and being an extrovert who will always drop homework to hang out with people was a good idea. Wrong, wrong, wrong. There’s this thing called rest that we all need. It’s like we’re finite or something. Bananas. I’ve been noticing that God has been forcing me to rest. Take Sunday, for example. I had every intention to work on my 15-page paper that’s due on Wednesday. Instead, I slept in (oh, whoops DST), caught up on blogs, and spent quality time with my husband. It was marvelous. And so needed.

Wellness has been seriously lacking in my life.

Whether it’s what I eat, how I spend my time, or the sleep (or lack thereof) that I’m getting, it’s been hitting me that I haven’t been taking care of myself. To make big changes is always an uphill battle, though, amiright? Here are some recent changes I’ve been working on, though.

Food. Good food.
DSC_4337A few months ago, I shared about cutting dairy out of my diet. It was basically the worst. Sometimes, I get emotional about it. A girl just wants pizza sometimes, OKAY?! I digress. Eliminating dairy was the best decision. I’m finally getting to a point where I don’t dread how I’m going to feel after I eat. I’m learning what works and doesn’t work with my body. Señor and I also invested in the glory that is a Nutri-bullet. Y’all. It is legit. Getchyoself one now. We mix 50% leafy greens, 50% fruits, almond milk, and nutrient powder in a smoothie every morning. We’ve basically felt like rockstars ever since we started. And having a healthy smoothie for breakfast actually reduces my desire for McDonald’s at lunch. MIND BLOWN.

Not-your-momma’s workout videos.
About 4-5 mornings out of the week, Jillian Michaels yells at me, pushes me to my limit, and tells me not to “phone this one in” in one of the greatest workout videos I’ve ever done. She’s so hardcore. I’ve been working with it for a few weeks now, and it has been kicking my TOOSH. No, really. My booty hurts all the time. And my thighs, abs, inner thighs, arms, etc. Working out has never been my favorite. I ran a half-marathon 2 years ago and you would have thought I  just finished first place in the NYC Marathon. I’m still very proud of my accomplishment and like to bring it up when I feel the need to sound athletic. “Oh, you do yoga. That’s cool. I ran a half-marathon once…When?…Oh, not too long ago.” <<<<< what a joke. Working out has always been something I’ve had to push myself to do. But this recent work-out video I’m hooked on is seriously helping. I’m a weakling, and I know it. And señor’s concerned I won’t be able to carry our future babies if I don’t start working out now. Truth hurts. So does Jillian Michaels.

Playing & resting.
It can be hard to find time to play in the midst of grad school. Homework could always steal away your attention. But it’s something I’m working on allowing in my schedule. Last weekend, we had the privilege of watching our friends‘ dog, Lucy. She is my new favorite animal. She also loves attention. So, we played. We played a lot. It felt so good to have a little critter around to be silly with. Honestly, Lucy brought such joy to our weekend. It reminded us to be ridiculous, let loose, and be playful in the midst of all the craziness. It also made me realize that I need a dog or a baby in my life ASAP.

Change can be hard. It’s a total uphill battle sometimes, especially when patterns have been set in place for so long. The reality is that I’m not even a year into this grad school adventure. Starting healthy habits now is critical.

So, if you see me with a McDonald’s bag, back away because I’ve probably earned it.

I’m just kidding. I’ll let you have a couple fries, and we can be friends.

extroversion & solitude.


When the husband is away for Valentine’s Day…

The wife sits at home and watches Netflix for hours on end. I blame auto-play. And a lack of self-control.

This weekend had a lot of potential. Señor was in Texas having brother bonding time while I had the apartment to myself. I could have crafted. I could have worked way ahead on homework. I could have been the domestic dream queen.

Instead, I sat. And sat and sat and sat and sat.

I admit–I was a little pathetic most of the weekend. Grant was away and my typical weekend structure was shot. Sure, I had a few plans. My beautiful friends, Mark and Lauren even let me crash their Valentine’s Day. But some plans fell through and some never came to fruition because of homework. I even made the conscious choice to just stay home all afternoon on Sunday. But I was mostly alone this weekend.

What I didn’t realize is that I totally I needed it.

I can be obnoxiously extroverted. When I make plans to hang out with people, my heart literally warms at the thought. It is energizing and the best part of my day.

I can also be uncharacteristically introverted. I crave time alone. I need space to just think–or not think (though this is nearly impossible, amiright, ladies?). I did not used to always be like this. In college, I thought spending an evening alone made me an old cat lady. Minus the cat thing because I’m allergic. I also hate them. I digress.

Being alone sounded terrifying. Why would I opt for solitude when I could be with PEOPLE. Happy, joyful, make-me-laugh-til-I-pee-myself people! It’s glorious. And it’s also an easy mask to hide behind.

Too much time around people means less time with me. We live with ourselves everyday. Obviously. But how often do we place ourselves in the type of solitude that really forces us to see ourselves fully–the raw, uncensored parts of ourselves that we rarely allow others to see?

This weekend, I realized how uncomfortable I am to just be alone and how I need to do it anyway. It forces me to slow down, take a look at the state of my heart, and quiet my frantic mind. It allows God the space to speak. It forces me to shift my identity back to Him and away from my activities or relationships with others. Solitude evokes a stirring anxiousness in my heart that only Jesus can calm.

Solitude is so hard. But it is so necessary for this extroverted woman.

husband-less valentine’s day.

Señor and I are the kind of married couple who “celebrates” Valentine’s Day by going out to a casual Mexican restaurant two days early, ordering fatty meals, gorging on a one pound chocolate cake, and giggling at all the stereotypical, cheesy couples around us. We’re mature.

We just aren’t ones to make a big spectacle of the commercialized holiday. I remind him every year that I’m not the girl who says, “No, you don’t have to do anything,” and then flips her lid when she doesn’t get a diamond necklace. Please don’t ever do that, señor. Our budget would crumble into a million tiny pieces of shattered money-saving dreams.

Despite my desire to keep it a no-gifts holiday, Grant has been known to sneak in a few goodies. Like last year’s French Press. You sneeeeeaky hubs.


If I’m honest, I always greet Valentine’s Day with a bit of shame over past mistakes. Lemme explain.

In February 2010, señor and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together. We had only been dating for a little over a month, but we jumped in head first. At that point, we already dropped the L-bomb and decided we would probably get married. He wanted a fall wedding: I made him wait for winter. Cruel, I know. Needless to say, we were pretty committed and head-over-heels.

Minus my occasional moments of “OH MY GOSH HOW CAN I THINK ABOUT MARRIAGE WHEN I’M SO MESSED UP!?” Let’s be real–we’ve all been there.

Madly in love, señor wanted to do something romantic and spontaneous for Valentine’s Day. He planned a surprise drive home to my mom and stepdad’s in Ohio where we would enjoy grilled steak and a relaxing evening at home. Super sweet, right?

Well, yes, had I not been a total brat.

I was so not in the mood for a surprise. I griped the whole way there because I had no idea where we were going, whether or not I needed a change of clothes, and how I was going to get my homework done for the next day. Total buzzkill. There was lots of awkward silence in the car and plenty of pent up aggression. Poor us. We had no idea how to argue and express our feelings in a productive manner.

The night improved, thankfully. It ended with a kiss (Or a make-out session. Who can say?) and no hard feelings. I expressed that I was having a freak-out about our relationship which led to me overreact over the unknowns of the evening. It was all silliness. And that ridiculous night has stuck with me 4 years later. I may have scarred my poor husband into thinking that I don’t like surprises or big gestures of thoughtfulness. Au contraire. I love them. I need them. They’re my love language.

It should also be publicly recorded that this was one of the pictures we took before we left for the that fateful, Valentine’s evening 4 years ago. Great photogenic spot, amiright? And disclaimer: I don’t even remember whose bike that was. Awesome.


Why the nostalgia? Because this Valentine’s Day is the first one since being married that I’ll be spending alone. Señor is off to visit his brother in Dallas for the weekend. Clint is in the Marines, and we are crazy proud of him. Here’s another walk down Laura’s-old-pics lane. Just imagine we’re all celebrating Valentine’s Day together, mmk?


While they’re gallivanting around Dallas, I’ll be in one of four places: my bed, the couch, a coffee shop, or friends’ houses bumming off their pity to hang with the married girl who’s alone on Valentine’s Day. But seriously, this weekend is my time to catch up on life–and by life, I mean homework. Because that is my life.

There will also be lots of Chinese food and Netflix marathons. It just seems right.