Day 8: Treasure

IMG_3512  Chocolate covered strawberries. This is my absolute favorite thing in the world. They make my life heavenly on any given day.

They remind me of the first time I was in Vegas with my Nana. They had chocolate-covered strawberries in the room as complimentary and I had no idea they existed prior to that. You could say it was love at first bite. Not only do they taste amazing, but they bring back happy memories of a time that once was. That is something I will always treasure.

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Day 4: Bliss

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The end of the Lower Sauma Ridge hike. Learn about American Samoa’s National Parks

I like hiking. I don’t care for the exercise portion. I enjoy the moments that come when the hike is complete. I enjoy the blissful sceneries. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. I enjoy the secret pools like the one picture above at the end of a trail. I enjoy the hidden beaches. I enjoy nature. I enjoy being able to say “Oh yeah! I did that hike” followed with a story of my personal adventure.

This is why I chose this photo for Developing Your Eye’s “Bliss” challenge. Part of it was to post a caption and the link was optional. I just thought of it as an opportunity to advertise our beautiful National Parks, which truly are blissful experiences.

Day 2: Street

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The “street” bridge connecting Ofu & Olosega

If there is one thing about American Samoa you must know, you can not get lost. There is one main road that goes around the entire island. We have some of the most amazing views while driving. This is from a trip to Manu’a I took a while back. Probably not taken on the best of days, but still beautiful none the less. I took it from the back of a truck while we were driving from one island to the other.

Day 1: Home

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View from Maugaoali’i taken July 9, 2016

When I use to live in America, I use to get a lot of questions about where I’m from. I was proud to say American Samoa. Regardless of the ignorant stereotypical replies I would receive, I enjoyed showing off photos like the one above. I love my beautiful island home. The scenic hikes are just the icing on the cake. American Samoa is about the Samoan culture, the history, my heritage, my people. No matter where I go, American Samoa will always be home simply because this is where my heart is.

When I think of home, this is what I think of. #DevelopingYourEye

Discovering Me via Social Media Freedom

The last time I was here was December of 2015. Before that, I was here in August of 2014. Coincidentally enough, the amount of time I’ve spent away from blogging are my two of my four favorite numbers 16 and 7. It took me 16 months from my August 2014 post to finally return in December 2015. After that, I was too caught up again in life (or maybe it was social media) to commit to blogging. I was lost in trying to live a life to please others.

During the second week of June, I decided it was time for me to get rid of my biggest distraction, social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat had taken over my life and I was literally using these tools to advertise myself (basically), cyber-stalk (in the most non-creepy way possible), covet, set a foundation for gossip and relinquish boredom. I didn’t realize I began to depress myself because I was too busy looking at what everyone else was doing instead of living the life I was meant to live and being more productive. My breaking point hit when I found myself upset my family and friends would do things without me and also frustrated with my boyfriend because he wouldn’t post anything about our relationship. I decided I needed to disappear from the social media realm for a week at most to get my head on straight.

It has been a month since my “social media freedom” and it has been awesome. I’ve gotten hooked on books again, focused on my goals and less involved with the unnecessaries. My circle has gone back down to those who care enough to call or text. The motivation I now have to do what needs to be done has risen. The need to advertise myself and portray “social media” me is diminishing slowly. The cyber-stalking has disappeared (obviously because I have no way to seek out what people are doing). I no longer compare my relationship to others. The news I read is actual news about what is going on in the world. Best of all, I feel happy.

Discover happiness in freedom, or sitting on top of a container :)

Discover happiness in freedom, or sitting on top of a container 🙂 PC: Sati

For the next ten days, I’ve personally committed myself to the “Developing your Eye” photography challenge to get me back on the blogging track. I need to do something small before I commit myself to bigger things. In this process, I hope to reignite my love for blogging and “develop an eye” for the beauty that surrounds me through people, places and personal objects.

Christmas Reflection 1 – Strength in Joy

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Christmas is my favorite season of the year. The spirit of rejoicing and giving that comes with it is contagious. Although it has been commercialized in many ways, the true essence of Christmas is still very real in my life. There are three more days until Christmas so it has been impressed on my heart to write a personal reflection each day on Christmas.

I was inspired to share my own Christmas reflections after reading my Christmas devotional on the Bible app. Initially, I was going to journal this then I remembered stumbling over my blog and how encouraging it was reading my previous posts so here I am blogging again. Below is an excerpt from the Chris Tomlin devotion that inspired me:

“When God sent His son as a baby, no one knew the birth of this child set into motion God’s epic plan to redeem mankind. Today, this is not only where His story begins, it’s where our story begins, too. While we were yet sinners, God decided to send a Savior for us. And while He did it in the smallest of forms and the unlikeliest of ways, His perfect plan was unfolding all along. Two thousand years later, it’s easy to see the bigger picture. Looking back, it’s easy to trace the fingerprints of God’s larger purpose at work.

When we reflect on the past, we can see God’s faithfulness more clearly. We can remember how He’s come through for us and how He’s uniquely woven His plan into our lives.” -Chris Tomlin

SO here I am remembering the past in order to see God’s faithfulness and renew my trust in Him.

I read through Luke 1: 26-56, which is when Jesus’ birth was foretold to Mary then she visits Elizabeth to share the news with her. It is such a beautiful story of strength and joy.

Why strength? In the age we live in today, many are very concerned with people and their opinions on their lives. During my time as Miss American Samoa, it was ALL that I was concerned about. I wanted to portray the title the way everyone else saw fit. Going back to Mary, she displayed strength that I truly believe was not her own but from the Lord. She was basically a teenage girl who wasn’t married, but about to be pregnant. If it’s somewhat shameful in our society today, just imagine how much more in the Bible times. YIKES!  Yet, she didn’t complain. She was scared I’m sure, but her response is one that has been used in sermons all over the world…

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.”  – Luke 1:38 (NLT)

I have read this story many times, but this statement hit me hard for the first time. I was sitting here thinking, “WHAAAAAA!?!?!” She was about to be pregnant without a husband yet HER FAITH! Her faith in the Lord and His plans blows me away. The story continues after this with Mary going to visit her cousin Elizabeth who the Lord had also blessed with a child to pave the way for Jesus. When Mary gets to Elizabeth, the Bible says Elizabeth’s baby leaped within her and the Holy Spirit filled her.

42. Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43. WHy am I so honored, the the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44. When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”
-Luke 1:42-45 (NLT)

This is when the joy factor comes into this story. They rejoiced in the Lord’s plans. Although I’m sure they knew it would not be an easy road, they rejoiced none the less. Mary even has a song of praise she says after Elizabeth said what she said.

I thought to myself. Do I have that kind of strength to trust the Lord? How many times have I rejoiced in the Lord knowing the journey is about to get “interesting”? How many times have I relied on the Lord’s strength and submitted to Him when He asks me to do something unheard of?

To be honest, I don’t have that kind of strength. That kind of strength comes from spending time with the Lord and cultivating a relationship with Him that I’ve lacked. The relationship that I relied on for the past year is now wavering and because of that I’m falling a part. It’s interesting how the Lord always brings us back to Him when we start to stray. He allows the consequences of choices hurt so He can heal. Like Mary, we need Elizabeths in our lives to remind us that we are highly favored by God and that we should remember we are blessed because we believe in what God is going to do. I’m reminded I can find strength when I rejoice in what the Lord has planned. I’m reminded I  can find strength by believing His Word. I’m reminded I can find strength in His joy. If there is anything I love about Christmas, it’s the JOY that surrounds the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Thank You Jesus for allowing Your joy that brings strength to fill the world especially during the Christmas season. I pray that everyone especially those who are hurting during this time can experience the same gladness Mary and Elizabeth had by remembering Your perfect plan and that Jesus is the reason we rejoice every Christmas season.

Joy to the world/ the Lord has come/ let earth receive her King/ let every heart prepare Him room/ Let heaven and nature sing/ Let heaven and nature sing/ Let heaven/ Let heaven and nature sing.