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Hope Spoken 2014

Last weekend. Wow. I had every intention of writing this post the second I got home. I wanted to unleash everything, my thoughts and excitement about what I learned at the Hope Spoken conference. But. Then I didn’t. I am so overwhelmed by what I took away. I don’t even know where to start! I keep reading through my notes, trying to sum up my weekend with a theme that God laid on my heart, but instead I feel like God whispered (and sometimes roared) ideas to apply in every nook and cranny of my life. Too much to organize into this post… or even two or three.

I like these words from a sweet new friend I met at the conference:  ”…still feeling a bit overwhelmed, but my justification is that anyone who was there and has a heartbeat likely feels the same way…” I know that doesn’t help you understand what happened in that hotel in Dallas, TX last weekend, but it’s validation that I am not the only one who was so moved beyond words.

I want to share. I want to tell every inch of my heart and all that was and has been flooding my mind. So I will just start… one idea at a time. One post at a time. I hope my thoughts are not too scattered for you to follow along.

I want to say, first off, that I was blown away by the rawness and vulnerability from every woman I encountered. None of us are perfect and I never once felt like anyone wanted to portray that they had it all together. The second we were all under one roof we were turned inside out and exposed to all that God had in store for us. One of my favorite tangible experiences was during worship. While the worship was amazing and completely saturated with God’s presence, it nearly made we weep to hear 200-something women raise their voices in song without abandon. 200-something women crying out for the same thing….more of Him.  200-something hearts uniting with Jesus, one by one.  My eyes are hot with tears again just remembering such a precious sound.

I went into last weekend not knowing what I was hoping for. “Open minded,” someone said. “That’s a good thing.” So I went with it. You know how sometimes you feel like your walk is really good? You’re in a good place and there is no immediate turmoil that needs sorting out, you’re just… satisfied. Even though Dan and I are in the midst of dealing with infertility, I still felt satisfied. Looking back it feels a bit ignorant or smug. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to learn something. I wanted God to show Himself in a big way… and He did. Absolutely. But I almost had a feeling of “I don’t have anything that needs healing right now.”

That couldn’t be farther from the truth!

On the last night of the conference the enemy found a way to slip a thought into my head and I allowed it to fester there until it destroyed my joy. It wasn’t till after a conversation with one of my best friends and my small group the next morning that I realized I have a serious insecurity problem. I knew I was insecure about the normal things women feel insecure about…sure. But I am terrified of anger. I am terrified of being someone that others fear. I am terrified of the person I used to be. I’ve come to a place over the last couple of years where God has healed my angry heart,  but the devil uses my scars to tell me that I am still the same person. In response I beat myself up until I believe the lies and I’m convinced that I am worthless. I can see now where I have allowed this time and time again. This is a problem. My friend was in tears trying to convince me of the person she knows me to be… and she knows me VERY well. She doesn’t know the old me. She can’t be clouded by who I used to be, which is my biggest fear with people from my past. She only knows me now.

My small group leader encouraged me to dig into the word and find truth. To meditate on scripture that can replace the lies. A huge theme throughout the weekend for many women was to be still… let God tell you who you are. How He sees you. That is the truth. That is what matters.

Pslam 139:13-14 immediately started flowing through my thoughts. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

And then I read this…

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” Psalm 139: 1-6

It is ok that His love doesn’t always make sense to me. He understands my confusion and loves me anyway. He created me to be beautiful in His eyes. I need to trust in that when I start to doubt my worth. I am everything to Him!

I’m not sure how to wrap up this post since there is still so much that I want to share. I will hopefully continue to process my thoughts and be able to put them down in this blog as the year goes on. One great point that someone made is that these stories and experiences… they are not ours, but God’s. They are His stories through us, and they need to be told.

xo liss


  • Rebecca Wagler - April 5, 2014 - 10:30 am

    Alissa.. Beautiful! Thank you for sharing. Wish Texas wasn’t so far aay. I can’t wait to meet you in June!ReplyCancel

  • amanda - April 5, 2014 - 11:19 am

    lady…you are making me cry! it was a beautiful weekend, and your heart reflects that. those scriptures are power! love you, and will stand beside God’s truth of your new self anytime you need to hear it.ReplyCancel

unedited life

Lent starts today. Every year I see so many people deciding to fast some sort of social media or all of social media as a way of cleansing and refreshing their lives and relationships. If you talk to any of my close friends you know that I agree with this decision, but that is not exactly what I want to talk about here, nor is Lent.

I’ve been thinking a LOT about social media and how it affects my relationships. It is both a hindrance and a blessing! I know there are people who are against all forms of social media, so let me talk about the great aspects first

If you do not already know this about me, I am a full time photographer and I travel a lot for my job. This would not be possible for me if it wasn’t for Facebook and Instagram and God (of course!). Let’s face it… I am not a very business savvy gal. I am introverted and awkward in person if I don’t know you, but I am able to feel like myself when I write! Some of my best connections have been made over social media and I have met truly amazing people! I’ve been able to make and maintain long distance relationships and feel like I am a part of those lives who are so far away.

A very specific blessing for me has been the power of prayer and camaraderie… a familiar story… a common belief. This past fall I shared about our struggle with infertility. The response from all of you was overwhelming! We can and are enriching each other’s lives when we share our stories openly and encourage each other. I do believe that social media has strengthened the ability to connect in this way.

On the other side, I’ve found what I call my “tangible” relationships becoming shallow. These are relationships in my real life. My here and now. Family and dear friends. The ones I can cry to and rejoice with and be the deepest, rawest form of myself with!

A couple months ago, I had a friend fast FB and IG for 20 days. During this time we had a phone conversation that opened my eyes to just how much social media has been a nuisance when it comes to my actual conversations with people. Because I knew that she had no idea what I had been up to, when she asked me what was going on… I told her. Everything. And it felt. so. good. I sent her pictures of a quilt I was making. I told her about new adventures Dan and I were dreaming up. We just chatted about life… about all the things any friends would chat about, but I had a revelation through that conversation. It felt so right because I knew she had no clue as to what I had been up to!

I feel like we have this weird expectation that if it’s online you should already know… taking the realness out of our relationships.

The fact that so many feel they need to give up social media for Lent shows me that there is a very real problem here. Even those, like myself, who see the good in it, want a break. But what happens when 40 days are over and we are sucked back in?

I don’t ever see myself jumping off the FB or IG train. But I do want to change my mentality around it. Lately I have been purposely avoiding going out of my way to catch up with my “tangibles” via social media. I might see something here and there, but I want to regain realness in those relationships. It is my goal to find a balance between social media and life. It will be trial and error, but I want to share with my friends and family what is going on in my life and I want them to share with me. Relationships need to be nurtured. A friend sent me an unedited picture of her boys playing in the sun in their living room one afternoon. There was no reason for her to send it. She just wanted to share with me a quick snapshot of her life. Another friend sent a postcard with some sweet words. Just because. These things are such small gestures in the big picture, but mean the world!

So it will be a long road of undoing and relearning and refocusing and reconnecting, but I am excited for heartfelt and unedited conversations over tea or a long walk or even a hand written letter for those who are not as close as I would like. Will you join me?


  • Lea Ciceraro - March 5, 2014 - 5:58 pm

    Love. Totallllly with you on ALL of this. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words and sharing it with all. I’d also love to get to know you more via text/phone/snail mail/in-person/courier pigeon… Whatever! There’s so much more to a person than the little tidbits that get posted on social media. Calling all my best girlfriends tomorrow… :) xoxoReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:49 am

      courier pigeon! lol. I love it! That will be my preferred method of sending letters. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Wagler - March 5, 2014 - 6:10 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I am thankful for many aspects of social media, but know, as with everything else in life, it requires balance. I try to be careful what I share and how often and I’m always learning. I can’t wait to meet you in person in June :) But for now, online will have to do :)ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:47 am

      I can’t wait to meet you either!! It will be so much fun! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Monique Porter - March 5, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    Oh Alissa, though I don’t know you in person you are tugging on my heart strings with this. I too, have a love/hate with social media; however, I won’t be giving it up but rather being more present and not letting it be the first thing I think to do. I love that you are so honest. You inspire me to also focus on being so much more present than I sometimes am with my relationships. I look forward to meeting you soon!ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:33 am

      Monique! Thank you for commenting! That is my struggle. Finding a way to be more present… Good luck to you! I so hope we get to meet soon! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Jenny - March 5, 2014 - 7:08 pm

    I love this, Liss! I am a believer in letters and cards and I’m always trying to get better and keeping in touch in a more personal way. I definitely need to work on actually calling people… Talking on the phone is not my strong suit! I especially like the idea of unedited conversations. Everything on social media is so carefully crafted. (Perhaps I should have called you to tell you all this!! :) ) Great blog, girl!! xo!ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:45 am

      hahaha! You are so good at sending little heartfelt things in the mail. It gives me the biggest smile when I see a package or envelope with your name on it at my front door!! You have inspired me to start using snail mail again!!ReplyCancel

  • amanda - March 6, 2014 - 8:43 am

    did you decide to fast these things for Lent, as well? i think our trip at the end of this month is going to reach a new dynamic, and i’m super super excited! i am not fasting them this year, but i will fast them during our weekend adventure. excellent post….i like what you said at the end about our “tangibles”. i’m taking this to heart.ReplyCancel

    • Alissa - March 6, 2014 - 11:43 am

      No, I’m not giving them up for lent either. I am so so pumped for our trip!! Spending amazing time with you ladies and soaking up all God has in store for that weekend! I can’t wait! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Grandma VanOstrom - March 12, 2014 - 10:35 am

    I love your blog. You have a gift for expressing your thoughts.
    So inspiring. We’re excitedly anticipating some “tangible” time with you and Dan very soon.ReplyCancel

  • katy - March 12, 2014 - 11:10 pm

    You are so beautiful! I am so excited for your future and all the blessings to come. You are gifted in writing AND photography?! Shine on, girl!ReplyCancel

  • kelsey - March 14, 2014 - 1:35 pm

    alissa-i looooved this! i am a “positive looker” which means that i only want to see the positives about social media-which i totally agreed with you on! but you hit the nail on the head with the fact that i simply don’t take the time to catch up with SO many people because we all feel that if it is out there in a picture or post-the world knows. like right now-thankful for this post-but would love to take 5 minutes to call you and chat about everything going on in your life sweet friend!!! hope all is well!!! you are a breath of fresh air my friend!!!! xoxoxoxoReplyCancel

handmade pottery

alissa saylor photography - natural light travel photographer - nashville,tennessee,michigan,east coast, west coast, midwest

I blogged about this lovely experience over on my photography site, Alissa Saylor Photography. You definitely need to see these stunning pieces by The Handmade Studio!! Morgan’s designs are just breathtaking! They range from perfectly romantic with lace and floral patterns to elegantly minimalistic with an awesome rusticness that you can’t help but swoon over!! Ok, can you tell I’m in love?? Hop on over and check out the full post!


bread day

IMG_8366This year Dan and I want to try to make some lifestyle changes. We are big dreamers when it comes to our future, and we’ve recently realized that we put a lot of things off because we are always planning for what is surely to come! We are certified master gardeners with a dirt yard. Not one single plant planted… not even grass at this point. We let our little lady chicken friends take over the yard. We have visions of wildflower gardens, more chickens, walls of tomatoes and green beans and honey hives filled with deliciousness and maybe even some livestock! We talk about living off the land and being intentional and healthy. But those visions are associated with a hypothetical house in a hypothetical town. We don’t want to get settled in here and start those habits if we are going to move! Or at least that has been our mindset for the last 4 years of living here. That is so silly. This needs to change. It will change this year. We don’t know how long we will be here, but we do adore the home we are in. It has been perfect for us in this season of our lives, but we will outgrow it and we will move. We will buy more land one day and have many more options than we do now in the way of backyard homesteading, but we can work this little piece of land that God has given us now. There is no doubt that both Dan and I yearn to get our hands in the dirt and watch what happens. We have been so pleased with the experience of raising the chickens that we do have. It was a small start and we ache to grow that experience into something bigger. So instead of wishing and planning for the future we will do what we can now.

One of the small goals I gave myself to start this year was to bake our own bread fresh each week and to buy fresh dairy from a local farm. Realistically, if you want to make any sort of radical change in your life you have to set small goals… and master them one at a time. Jumping in and making an overhaul often leads to feeling overwhelmed and unsatisfied and ultimately results in giving up.

I’ve had a few people ask about the bread recipe that I am using. To be perfectly honest, this may not be the best one out there, but it was great for a beginner bread maker like me! It is so so easy and delicious. It is just a plain white sandwich bread. I am usually not a fan of white bread, but I really just wanted to master the basics of bread making before moving on to something fancier and more difficult.

* Because I learn better visually and hands on, this recipe/video from All Recipes was perfect:

One trick that I read about and found works perfect for getting the dough to rise is preheating the oven on it’s lowest setting (usually about 150°). Once it is preheated turn the oven off. Let the dough rise in the warmed oven.

↠ the recipe: 
  • 2 1/2 cups hot water (110°ish)
  • 2 packets yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
Stir together until well mixed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 cups bread flour
mix well
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- add bread flour 1/4 cup at a time mixing well between each one. Keep adding flour and kneading dough on a floured surface until elastic.
- oil a bowl and drop the dough into the bowl turning once to coat both sides of the dough. cover the bowl with a towel dampened with hot water and let rise for about 1 hour. (works best in preheated oven)
- once dough has doubled in size punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough a little more and then separate into two loaves. Put each loaf into bread pans and let rise another 40 minutes.(don’t let them rise in the oven while it is preheating) ;)
- preheat oven to 425° and then turn it down to 375°
- Bake the loaves at 375° for 30 minutes.








I wanted to do a post of all of my favorite images that I had taken professionally in 2013, but as I started going through folder after folder of images I found myself getting lost in the memories of the images. I became overwhelmed with thankfulness for all this year has held for me. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I fit so much into one year’s time. So instead of posting all of the images that are favorites and may be great shots, I decided to post images that are truly beautiful to me. I have taken most of these images on my phone. They are a mix from sessions, road trips, travels, girls’ weekends, and quiet times at home with my hubby. All of these images hold a special place in my heart. They signify friendships formed, life shared, new paths, new territories explored, and sacred moments of time that I want to forever remember. So please forgive the grainy, blurriness and poor quality of some of these images. This is what I want to hold on to from 2013… cheers!

  • Jennifer - January 6, 2014 - 9:28 pm


  • amanda - January 7, 2014 - 2:46 pm

    beautiful. i love seeing all these images together. you are a wonderful person, full of love, talent, and God’s spirit. i’m so happy to call you friend. :)ReplyCancel