From Ms. to Mrs. // 2018

“Oh you got married?! Congratulations MRS!

Hello MRS. Curran!

How’s married life MRS?!”

Yes! I got married! Yes I am now Mrs. Curran!  This was absolutely the highlight of my 2018, but it was not just a single event or instant change. This transformation has been such a rich journey!

As we wrap up this year & begin to set goals & dream for 2019, I’ve been looking back on what I learned this year and these are just a few things that have stood out and helped me grow.

So this is my initial journal entry of what’s it’s like to go from Ms. to Mrs. and what it’s taught me thus far.

On April 7th, 2018, I married Mr. Michael Curran; my best friend, my greatest blessing, and especially lately, my greatest comforter. He’s also the FIRST to laugh at me when I mispronounce words or get a joke punchline wrong, but he’s the first to pick me up when I’m down, to wipe my tears away, and encourage me in things I can’t see in myself.

Being married has taught me some priceless lessons about Michael, about myself, and about how we function in our life together. There’s a lot I still have to learn and experience, but I’m taking these nuggets with me as we continue our adventure.

Lesson #1 // My identity has changed.

Not only have I gone from Ms. to Mrs. but from Ms. Alibrandi George to Mrs. Alibrandi Curran. I have a new drivers license to prove it!  I am learning to embrace the title of Wife and know that my goals & dreams are now blended with supporting my husband’s.

This new filter has changed my intentions & actions in everything, from job decisions, to ministry decisions, to scheduling decisions, all the way down to my  choice of words.  My words usually affect my husbands’ feelings directly or his reputation indirectly, & with the identity of wife I have to consider how my words, whether to him or about him, support & build him up.

Lesson #2 // Patience is key, especially with myself

When I say patience is key, I mean it pretty literally. Patience is like a key that we carry and can choose to utilize or ignore & waste time and energy pounding on doors and never actually getting anywhere.

I initially set all the bars way too high for myself. The meal prepping bar, the homemaking bar, the working two jobs while being the homemaker bar, & the do over the top thoughtful things to serve and surprise my husband bar. By my own expectations, I have failed every single one. I expected too much of myself and I haven’t had the ability to do all the things I wanted and have failed some of the ones I’ve tried.

But, when pouring out all this failure (mingled with some tears) to Michael, (enter my comforting husband yet again) he didn’t see failure because he didn’t see the bars. He simply saw his wife doing her best and absolutely loved & appreciated it. So when it comes to those imaginary bars of unrealistic expectations, confront them. Do your best, take the time to learn what your husband needs or wants first, and then you’ll still mess up.

When you find that your spouse just wants to have fun & enjoy the adventure of life with you, the bars disappear and you have a lot more fun laughing at your mistakes, learning from them, and finding new ways to embrace your new identity.

It also takes patience to merge two lifestyles.  Your practical habits will collide; no doubt about it.  In marriage, the habits themselves are truly small and typically unimportant.  It’s the communication concerning them that will turn into nagging, frustration, bitterness, or neglect when not handled well.  I’ve found it’s important for me to communicate in all gentleness and love why some habits bother me so I don’t harbor any afore mentioned negativity and so I can receive communication about habits I should strive to change.

Lesson #3 // I’m the most selfish person I know.

When you’re a ‘Ms.’ (or a single Mr. for that matter, just writing my perspective) your daily, practical focuses really do revolve around you.

When you become a ‘Mrs.’ those focuses and goals change even if you haven’t caught on to them yet.  Your ‘I’ is now ‘We’ and that sounds easy enough when it’s, ‘What do we want to cook tonight and what movie do we want to see?’ but it’s the topics that are a lot more subtle where this gets deeper.

Having to stop and merge some very different expectations & desires has made me realize just how much my flesh really cares about it’s own desires and just how sacrificial love needs to be.  I may not always want to do whatever the task or event at hand is, I may not even feel that I need to, but if it’s something that my husband wants, I have to consider how we are going to proceed, not just how I am.

Lesson #4 // I’m not perfect, I need to be constantly humbled

I recently heard this lesson worded best this way,

“marriage is the nicest way to confront your own inadequacies on a daily basis”

Y’all this is so true.

Beyond false expectations or unrealistic goals, there are some ways we just downright fail. I have had to acknowledge that I need help. I need to help my husband however I can, but I have to accept his help too. He has the best role in my life to say, “I know you can, but I’m here so you don’t have to.”

I had lots of help & preparation going into marriage, from family, mentors, friends, scripture, books, etc. but there are things that you have to experience to truly understand and failures only a spouse could point out for you to truly accept & that has been so enlightening for me.  Marriage is humbling and this has been extremely fruitful for me.

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In addition to sharing these more difficult lessons I’ve learned, I must close by sharing that marrying my best friend is the best decision I’ve ever made aside from accepting God as my Lord & Savior.  Amidst all challenges, marriage has been a blast!  Living, traveling, & learning with my husband brings me joy every single day!

I’m only 8 months in, but the amount that I’ve learned in this time has only made me that much more excited for all the lessons and growth to come!  With all the challenges, joys, & growth we’ve seen in 2018, I know God will do even more marvelous things in 2019 and we are striving to pursue Him together.

~ Mrs. Curran
12.31.2018

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Falling In Love Again // PASSION 2018 Photo Journal

It’s becoming one of my favorite traditions.  To pack up the thickest clothes I own, borrow the ones I don’t own because I’m a Floridian, pack them as lightly as possible and road trip with my bunch of crazies, lots of coffee, & little sleep.  It’s always astounding how much love, disagreement, and worship we can cram into four days.

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This year finally felt like we got a groove.  Things ran smoothly and the challenges that remained were mostly internal.  I found even the painful things were given the attention they needed to provide growth & clarity so that the rest was truly fun.  We acted like a team, or better yet, a family, helping each other fight those battles and praying over each other fervently.

This trip reminded me that my biggest issue, the thing that gets in my way, and the thing that I find conflict with the most, is me.

I am my own biggest obstacle between me and God.

Even as I write this I’m condemned by “I don’t have the words”, “I can’t figure out where to take this”,  & “I can’t write what I want to” when all along I know it’s God’s words I want written through me.

In everything I feel opposition, the common factor is me.  Friends & family are my support & protection far more than they are my conflict.  I am my conflict.

  Every commitment I make, every time I fail, every emotion that is too overwhelming to bear, comes back to the fact that I am unable, on my own strength, to do anything well.  I’m learning all over to rely on God, but there was another realization before this one, that made admitting my own failure significantly easier.

Jesus loves me.  Yes this I know.  But have I let the Bible tell me so?  Have I allowed Him to wrap His arms around me?  Have I embraced Him as a being that cares for me and love Him back?  Have I declared in my actions that I belong to Him and let Him take my weakness & make it strong?

God is not something I can set aside and expect to pick up where I left off.  Our relationship needs work just like any other face-to-face relationship does, both ways.  I need to be in the Word.  I need to be praying.  I need to vocalize my love for my Lord.

His name alone is blessed!  (Psalm 113:2)  Who am I to go to Him with constant requests without even acknowledging how deeply He loves me and reciprocating that to Him?

I have fallen in love with my Lord, again.  And I’m astounded by how much He loves me!  Beyond what He did for my salvation and my 21 years of life on earth, last week alone He used 20 hours & 1,200 miles roundtrip on the road to listen to His praise, 25 people that I treasure to wipe my tears, and 6 sessions of speakers screaming His word, all to simply tell me,

“I love you.”

I am overwhelmed by God’s love; unending, unrelenting, unconditional.  I am re-learning to delight in Him, to keep His commands, to see Him in the characteristics He has hidden in the people around me, and to speak to Him as to a friend.

John Piper said it best, “We were reconciled to God the person, not reconciled simply to get into Heaven or out of hell.  We take joy in God the person, not only things He does or makes for us; we use those things to get to know HIM.”

If you truly love God more than His gifts to you, you’ll be satisfied in His will no matter how it aligns or doesn’t align with yours.  “In every act & thing of creation the love of God is made manifest for us to taste Him & lead us further into Him so we can love Him directly.” – John Piper

0230faec-47d0-444f-b572-9a8dffb8823b“The 7th piece of armor in Ephesians 6: is prayer.  God’s house is a house of prayer, not great preaching, great singing, lights, fog or cafés.  We need to take up the weapon of prayer.” – Priscilla Shirer

“Salvation is not based on you, it’s placed on you.” – Levi Lusko

I’m getting out of the way.  I’m letting Jesus love me, speak through me, and work in me because I can’t do it myself.  I’m allowing myself to delight in Him!  & I’m letting love open the gates for His strength to flood me to accomplish His will because my strength is drained.  I am falling in love all over again, and I’m finally out of the way.

“But I will hope continually,
And will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
And Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”
Psalm 71:14-16

1.9.2018

Kindling the Soul // Peace River // Photo Journal

“to shine on the outside you have to BURN on the inside”
– Pastor Doug Sauder

Sunday in church that sentence rang in my ears while the muscles in my arms reminded me how sore they were & my heavy eye lids reminded me how tired I was.  But every bit of soreness made me smile.

Saturday’s canoe trip may have taken a toll on my achy muscles and energy levels, but it fueled the fire in my soul.  A little laughter, exploration, and a few deep breaths of fresh air with people you love can be absolutely medicinal.  & I absolutely love the people of Koinonia.

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From fear of spending too much time on myself and missing opportunities to fuel others, I find I don’t kindle my soul enough.  But I’m learning the balance.  I was so refreshed by this exhausting trip.  Crazy, I know!  I nearly didn’t go at all due to exhaustion and injury, but it was definitely the reset button I needed.

Peace river was my kindling.  To get through the last 46 days of school.  To keep serving with a smile.  To keep burning for Christ.

I can do nothing of my own strength.  I have to remind myself of this every. single. day.  The Lord is my sole source of strength, that’s my reset button.

Thank you to my dear friends of Koinonia for reminding me of that, and for supporting me by always pointing me back to Jesus.

I am constantly surrending control back to God, stubbornly trying to take over, and surrending to Him again.  He never fails to take my pieces & need for control and give me peace.

This peace kindled my soul.

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Proverbs 3:5  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (ESV)

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (ESV)

41 people.  20 canoes.  15 miles of river.  5 hours of driving.  1 sweet memory.
3.25.2017

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Disney World // Photo Journal Slideshow

This semester I took my first photography class with Liberty University Online.  This was a dream!  Not only did it strengthen my basic knowledge of photography and heighten the quality of my photos, it gave me a deeper level of joy and gratitude in each photo I take.

My final assignment was to do a slideshow of original photos, and this past trip to Disney proved to be the perfect opportunity to collect some memories!  Photographs are my favorite medium, and I hope that through these photos (which were extremely difficult to narrow down) you get to experience not only the joy I get in taking these photos, but some Disney magic!

Thank you to Michael, John-Marc, Matt, Elliot, & Mitchel for their patience in enduring my endless shooting this weekend!

Liberty University
ARTS 361

PASSION 2017 // Photo Journal

“Adventure is out there”

This week was one of the most challenging and fruitful adventures I think I’ve ever ventured on.  21 people, traveling and living together, encountering God together, & battling spiritual warfare together.

Day 1: Three packed cars caravanned from Davie, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia.  We ran late due to traffic, arrived nearly freezing rain, and finally joined 55,000 other college students to worship in the Georgia Dome.  Later, we had our own devotional as a community group in the house we were renting.

Day 2: Four PASSION sessions in one day is like drinking from a fire hose.  Add in navigating an unfamiliar city and temperatures in the forties, and it’s exhausting.  But God’s Word never returns to Him void, and it overwhelmed my soul like a wildfire.

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Day 3:  We sat closer for the last session and looking up from the floor at the vast amount of people all singing to one Lord and Savior blew my mind!  Having another devotional time at the house refreshed me immensely.  Exploring downtown from a horse drawn carriage and breaking bread together (okay it was pizza) definitely revived my energy.

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Day 4: With a final devotional and meal in the house, we re-packed our caravan and headed home.  A long car ride provided a sweet time for me to rest my body & mind, and process all that God did and taught me this week.

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We faced massive spiritual warfare throughout these four days.  There were disagreements, delays, and unintentional emotional daggers.  But God, oh that is truly my favorite phrase.  But God, crushed us intentionally.  He allowed us to struggle in order to bear greater fruit and the fruit still blooming now that we are home is oh so sweet.

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He taught me to breathe.  He taught me to love at all times.  (Proverbs 17:17)  He taught me to forgive.  He brought me to know the grace and love He pours out on me and broke down the dam in my heart to let that continue flowing through me and into the hearts of others & to instead build a dam of humility, patience, and love blockading the rivers of strife that flow in every human heart.

“If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.  The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”  Proverbs 17:13-14

Despite the challenges we faced I’m so glad we made this trip.  I’m glad we got to know each other more intimately.  Our pain will not be wasted.  I’m grateful we were seen worthy enough to embrace a challenge.  I learned so much about keeping my eyes on other people and caring for them more carefully and vocalizing how I love them.  I also learned to keep myself accountable to my own advice and practice everything I preach.

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“When you know Jesus, nothing in this world can satisfy.” – Beth Moore

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.  And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 4:12-14

“Train for the trial you are not yet in.” – Levi Lusko

2017-01-05-05.22.44-1.jpg.jpg21 strangers did not embark on this trip, 21 family members united in Christ did.  We survived this trial because we have trained for it before we knew what it was and we have a common hope in Christ.  Nothing can shake that hope and like natural elements are crushed to produce the sweet fragrance of essential oils, we were crushed to produce a sweet fragrance to our Father.

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This week I learned to be passionate for others through my passion for Christ, to prefer God above all else, and choose to actively love His people every day as He loves me.  If you haven’t faced spiritual warfare yet, you will.  Please train for that trial!  Dig into the Word and be sure you are perceiving life through the lens of the gospel and your hope will endure.  I will not waste my pain because Christ did not waste His and I will love because He loves me.

My dear koinonia family, I love you all so deeply!  Thank you for suffering with me and loving me even during trials.

1.6.2017

4J Ranch // Kenansville Photo Journal

​For a second consecutive year I spent December 31st ringing in a new year camping on a friends’ land (lovingly dubbed 4J Ranch) beyond the reach of cellular data service and social media’s grasp.  I must admit, I found a spot where I could connect enough for a brief post/update every now & then, but during family meals, outings to the shooting range, or truck photoshoots by the lake, my phone did not have the power to blare distracting notifications interrupting time with my family.  This made all the difference in clearing my mind from constant clouds of thought. 

Where the cell service fades, nature revives.  Where the street lights cease to exist, the stars shine brighter.  Where car horns & screeching brakes are no longer audible, laughter grows louder.

In the gentler sounds of nature and family banter I began to reflect on 2016 as I imagine everyone has been doing lately, and I felt freshly washed in peace.  Peace in reflecting on the year and peace in saying goodbye to it.  I’m typically fearful of reflecting like this because I don’t want to get stuck dwelling on the past or open past wouds in recalling past hurts I’ve moved on from.  But now I’ve found myself content in learning from the past and then leaving it behind. (Hakuna Matata)  There is a delicate balance for each individual heart to manage this, there is no formula for it and it’s an overwhelming relief when you find yours. 

In 2016 I learned to embrace opportunities.  With God’s peace, I found fear far less effective against the joys of the unknown.  In 2016 I learned to say goodbyes, and I learned peace in them too.  Peace has definitely been my lesson.  This year I sought the Lord for peace over & over again.  When you take the time and humble yourself in such a way as to pursue God.  The more you begin to know Him, the more you see He provides for your needs and fulfills your hearts desires above and beyond expectations.

Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

It’s a beautiful thing to me, that many of our most precious moments and best memories haven’t even happened yet. There are so many adventures at hand and waiting in the future and while I cherish the memories of the past, I’m excited to take what they taught me onward and at peace with God being my captain in this ever raging sea we call life.

Dear 2017, don’t take me back, push me forward.  Propel me to growth.  To new adventures.  To deeper knowledge.  To new adventures, new challenges, and new trials.

To everyone who propelled me to growth and made memories with me in 2016, thank you.  Without you my writing would be dry and empty as would my heart and I cherish you all. 
2016 // 2017

4J Ranch // Kenansville Photo Journal

1.2.2017

Through the Eyes of a Child // Disney Photo Journal

It had been awhile since I’ve been to a Disney theme park.  I must say I remember it being fun & magical, but I had forgotten some of the precious details.

This weekend I returned to the most magical place on earth with three of the most magical kids on earth and I found myself not only enjoying the parks with them, but learning so much from them!

Through Alex’s thrill of competition on rides like Toy Story & Test Track, Caroline’s enthusiasm for meeting princesses & singing along to frozen songs, and Theodore’s pure affection & infectious smile, I got to see Disney once again through the innocent, awe-struck eyes of a child.

In these eyes there are no other worries or distractions.  Although there can sometimes be less patience and perspective causing some emotional moments… When a child’s joy is perfectly fixated on one thing, moment, or thrill, it is uncontainable and incomparable.  Through these little eyes I saw more magic than I thought possible.

I found that once I grasped this magical joy it overflowed from Disney to the drowsy ride home and into the little thrills in life at home.  No lines, no fastpass, no magicband required. All I needed was the eyes of a child.

// For Alex, Caroline, & Theodore, I love you //

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9.20.2016