I’m going to tell you some things we often do not share openly with a lot of people. But we are finally embarking into a season that has often been in our hearts for years. You will understand what I mean by that sentence as I explain more.
Right now you are reading this because you either know someone who attended, you, yourself attended, or you saw something in regards to what we call the “Kauai Beauty Camp 18”. What if I told you that before we adventured and created this camp; there was actually years upon years of dreams and aspirations for it. Most people do not know that back when Rayla was at the age of twelve and I was at the mere age of seven we had so many of our spiritual leaders began to prophecy and speaks words of encouragement that we would work with young adults and that we would begin a
“camp like structure” for people to truly recognize their beauty. At the time we honestly had no idea how or what it would be like because being so young its hard to grasp the structure of a desire the Lord places in your heart. But deep down inside your very being you know its exactly what you are meant to do. It’s a feeling of divine purpose that only comes from God himself. Looking back I believe that there was also a beauty in “not knowing” how to structure it; because in all honesty… we could have never created or structured the camp without the Lords leading and guidance. It was not by our own understanding this came to life, it was the Lord who birthed the desire in the first place and it was he who watered it and made it possible.
Now with that said, I’ve given you a little bit of the background and heart of where the idea originated. It was through years and years of waiting, hoping, and prayer that we could possibly make this dream come true. But overtime we tried, the door closed and we were called to wait longer. There were times we would cry at our kitchen table and even fight amongst each other because of the feeling of rejection and disappointment. We even began to question if this was even something we were called to do. The opposition we faced on this particular project was unreal. But thats when we realized that if this much was coming against us, then it was something we needed to endure through and accomplish. Sometimes you have to look right in the face of whatever you are fighting and walk right past it. Thats when you gain every victory.
It was the night before we had to meet with our new and upcoming “Secret Senior Society” group of 2018 (which is a exclusive group of young women in our community through our photography business Rayla Kay Photography), that Rayla and I knew it was time to prepare the opportunity of our first “Beauty Camp”. It was scary. To present an idea we had dreamed of for years, and to not know if we could accomplish what we had dreamed of for so long to the ability we saw in our hearts. But we knew inside it was time. So we worked until about 2am in the morning preparing all of the documents, activities, and structure. When we finished we couldn’t believe how fast it came and how easy it was; when the timing was right. So we stepped out in faith and we knew if it wasn’t right the Lord would close the door. But if it was right, we would learn, grow, and experience our first beauty camp. Which is exactly what happened.
It was not long before we boarded the plane with seven beautifully and wonderfully made girls who’s parents were willing to entrust to us for one whole week on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. Emotions of excitement, fear, and anticipation were stirring in all of our tummies as we started to embark on this adventure. When you know something is right inside your being but you have never done something like it before you have all kinds of thoughts. The “what if’s”, the “could be’s”, and the “can we’s” all take place. But we were stepping out in faith and honestly hoping not to fall.
When we arrived to the island we had so many activities, photo shoots, and group discussions planned and scheduled. Our goal was to dig into the depths of each girl’s heart to uproot the struggles and areas in their life that they felt overwhelmed and discouraged in. That’s when this story gets very entertaining. While we were on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. We happened to be at the time period the island was experiencing the worst rainfall it has seen in over sixty years. The entire north side of the island was under emergency evacuation due to extreme flooding. Not to mention there was storms on every end of the island. That took every “plan” every “thought” we had “scheduled” and threw it right out the door. We panicked. Because our schedule was “ruined” or “ideas” where thrown to the way side. We had to stand in the gap and trust in the Lord to make the best out of a very bad circumstance. As a leader we were so worried that this would be the worst experience of our lives and not to mention the girls we took would be completely disappointed. Our hearts sank, in every way. Disappointment filled our minds and we had no idea what to do. So we took one day at a time. We had to rely on the Lord, which is exactly what we needed to do in the first.
Everything looked different then we envisioned, everything played out differently then we had planned. We ran into so many frustrations, so many devastations, so many difficult circumstances. But we had to remind ourselves the goal of this camp was to confront the hard emotions, it was to uproot the areas in the heart that you never want to address. That was the goal, the goal was to go to the places that are messy, that are hidden, that are “not considered beautiful”. So why did we expect it to look like paradise? Because when addressing these areas of the heart, its not pretty. Its absolutely beautifully broken. And thats exactly what we saw, experienced, and confronted head on. Wounds were opened, broken emotions and thoughts were exposed. It didn’t look like what we thought, it actually looked the opposite of what we envisioned. Everyone experienced troubles, everyone experienced disappointment, and everyone experienced and saw what broken beauty looks and feels like.
This camp was nothing we had originally thought it would be. It wasn’t nothing that we envisioned. It was difficult, it was hard, but in time it was rewarding. Sometimes in life we are faced with unspeakable amounts of pain that comes from divisions, decisions, and downfalls. But it is how you address, how you move through and most importantly what your perspective is towards the pain.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” Ps. 23:4
It’s how you look at your valley, how you walk through your valley, and how you allow yourself to heal in your valley that makes a difference. Let me tell you, sometimes its not pretty, its messy. But yet again, its beautifully broken.
These images you will see a beauty you have never seen before. You will see pain, you will see hurt, you will see seven beautifully and wonderfully made women who have been broken in their own way. Who have chosen to move through their rough circumstances, to stand tall in the face of evil and become who they are called to become. WHICH IS BEAUTIFUL, in every circumstance, every situation. As a leader, as someone who has cried with these girls, I cannot be more proud of each and every one of them. I will never be able to look at them and see anything but beauty. We love you, and we feel so blessed to have experienced such a unexpected experience with each one of you.
THE COLLINS SISTERS AND TEAM | Rayla, Rachel, Sherri, Mark, Theresa, and Ariana.
In life, we go through many struggles. Some are bigger than others, but all that matters is that there is a struggle and its effecting the way we live. When you are 17 and worry more about losing weight than school, that's a struggle. When you look at yourself in the mirror and say "ew", that's a struggle. This way of life is very lonely and painful. To some its very easy to get over their struggles and for others it seems impossible. For me, it was impossible, so I thought.
To get through something can take months and for some years. Everyone has different needs and ways of healing when it comes to dealing with these struggles because everyone is going through a different battle. Some say therapy is the best way to heal, and for others its shopping. No matter what struggle you're going through there is some way to heal, it may take a while to find, but it is there.
It had been almost a year and I finally figured out the way to heal myself from all of the pain I had been experiencing. It wasn't until I sat down all alone and thought about ways to truly fix the situation and change my mindset about my life. For me, I surrounded myself with encouraging people and changed my mindset. In the end, I realized there will always be a way out of the pain I feel, and I always have someone to talk to thanks Rachel and Rayla.
It took me a long time to find hope after a traumatic experience. I never thought I would truly recover from everything that had happened. I struggled in my faith and I became numb to almost all emotion. I tried everything I could think of from counseling to never letting myself get enough time to be alone with my own thoughts. Nothing really worked, But after 4 years I have finally found some things to help me.
The first thing being God. I did not really notice what he had planned until it fell into place. He gave me a person who was so strong in his faith that it helped me return to my own. As well as, Rachel, Rayla, Teresa, and Ariana these ladies brought out my real emotions that I hadn't felt in years during this Kauai camp (man I even cried). I believe without the people and especially my family who never gave up on me I do not think I would have broke through all of this. my way of finding hope was never on my own, I had incredible people show me the way to it!
There was a time in my life where I felt as if the only option I had was to give up. Nothing I ever did could bring me the joy that I wanted more than anything to feel again. I was suddenly approaching my lowest point, with nowhere to turn. I realized that having someone to be there for me is what I needed the most. At the time I didn’t realize it, but the people in my life are here to show me the beauty and love that this world has to offer. After realizing what was in front of me, I will never be able to unsee the astonishing beauty that surrounds us every day. The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern for others. One year ago today I would have never expected myself to be as beyond happy as I am today. Perseverance is one of the most difficult tasks to complete, but the result is more rewarding than anything else in the world. Without the hard times that I have had to deal with in the past, I would not be half the person I am today. This life has so many difficult lessons to teach us, but we must realize that these lessons aren’t meant to be learned alone. You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it, and you are so much stronger than you’ll ever know.
When attending this trip I never thought I would have learned so much value stuff along the way. It taught me to love myself in every way possible. It also made me realize things happen for a reason in life and not to take life too seriously. I have become such a better person and more confidence in my natural self after this camp. I also made life friends and memories along the way too! I’m so grateful that I got to have this experience! xoxo
I find that throughout my life I have had so many trials and tribulations with my friends, family, and even myself at times. It's hard to know when you should stand your ground and keep pushing forward or when it's time to throw in the towel and call it quits. There are some times when you need to stand up for yourself, who you are, who you're becoming, and who you need to be. It is hard to decide when enough is enough and this is who I'm going to be especially when the person you're fighting is yourself. In all honesty, a little faith is all you need. Whether it be faith in yourself, in your surroundings, or even in your God. You need to keep your faith.
In this day and age it is so hard to discover who you are as a person when your life is riddled with numbers. Your happiness in the world is defined by how many followers you have, how many likes you get on a post, and even how many friends you have. We don't realize the importance of finding our own personal happiness when we are drowning in something that defines us that never ends. If you continue to find happiness in numbers rather than the people around you, you will never achieve true happiness and discovering yourself will just become more of a challenge in itself. Taking time in a day just to appreciate the blessings in your life truly can make such an impact on yourself and even those around you. Just stop once in a while look around, you would be surprised the beauty and gifts your life has been blessed with that you hadn't noticed because you were so caught up in social media and its influence on you. Just remember that you are so much more than just a number. You are a living, breathing human being. That is the most beautiful thing you can be in this world.
One of the hardest things for me growing up was expressing myself. Through words, clothes, or my emotions. I was terrible at self expression. I found that taking myself out of societies norms were what I needed to become a better version of myself. If you live your life inside of societies version of normalcy you might find yourself having a hard time being your authentic self. Once I realized that getting myself out of my comfort zone was the way to be more myself, I was so much happier. I had to do something completely over the top and obnoxious in order to be comfortable in my own skin. Making this decision got me a lot of backlash and disapproval from people who meant the world to me and honestly it crushed me a bit. However, people take time to adapt to things out of the ordinary. Just like I had to adapt to the idea that I could be a better version of myself if I step out of my comfort zone, I had to understand that it would take them some time to understand why I was making the choices that I was. The saying, "Time heals all wounds" really does ring true in my heart. After about 7 months I finally got back into contact with those people. The place they hold in my life now is so prominent and I have no clue how I survived without them. Have faith in time because it really will heal the wounds of the past.