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You Are Enough - Peyton

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P E Y T O N

BASED ON A TRUE STORY

I remember the first time I didn’t feel enough. I was in elementary school, and I realized that I was already a lot bigger than most of my friends, I think I was squeezing into size 10 kids size and most of them were still in 0s or 00s. From that point on, I would catch myself squeezing my hip fat, keeping tack of how far my hip bones were sticking out, and desperately wishing I could look like the girls in seventeen magazines. This comparing myself to other girls stayed with me much longer than it should have. Through failed friendships, relationships, and even a failed marriage, I couldn’t seem to find my worth. I was either too big, too weird, couldn’t find a friend group, or I would tell myself that I wasn’t pretty enough. I couldn’t see what made me special; I didn’t know where to find it. What I wish I knew then was that I have an infinite about of worth, and no one could take that away from me.

The biggest turning point for me was getting separated from my then husband. I dealt with a lot of things people shouldn’t deal with. Emotionally he had taken a toll on me, he manipulated me and treated me like crap, made me do things I didn’t want to do. He cheated on me over and over again—and I always thought I was the one with the problem. Honestly, writing about this season in my life is really hard and will always be really hard. I don’t even know how to say besides I was in so so so much pain. I found God through this pain, though. He used this pain and helped me find light in things I couldn’t have ever found light in before. Because of him, I can show people all I’ve gone through and I can tell people about the joy I’ve created for myself. Yes, created. The feelings of worth and feelings of being enough didn’t just come back to me like nothing happened. You, whoever is reading this, you have to learn that getting yourself back isn’t magic, and you have to fight for yourself every. Single. Day. You have to love yourself in every single way. The most important thing about my story isn’t that I let someone drag me around and tear up my soul. It’s that I fought for myself (who am I kidding though, God was doing more of the fighting for me), and if I can do it then you can certainly do it too. One day, when I finally had enough, I felt this feeling of confusion. Maybe I did deserve better?

This feeling was God telling me how much he loved me, that I was as beautiful as a jewel on his crown, no matter what shape I was in, and I believed him.

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This domino effect started to happen. It started out with a guy who I worked with giving me more grace I had ever received in my life. I was anxious and stressed out every time we worked together, and I was constantly mad about something. I saw that love in him though, and I saw that he thought I was worthy. It wasn’t just me that he thought was worthy; it was literally every person around him. His heart little by little rubbed off on mine. God continually put great people like that in my life through out that next year. The only reason I saw how important they were was because I had been praying for these people for a long time. I was ready to have relationships that thrived off of love, grace, empathy, and compassion for one another. It's work. A lot of hard freaking work. People are only human! On days I was weak, I could still feel the inner “younger” Peyton comparing myself to the women beside me, which was never healthy for relationships. I have really attractive friends, so that will always be hard, but the second I told myself, “They are pretty, but so am I.” Things shifted. I started to follow up every comparison with, “But so am I.” I thought that the girl sitting on the other side of the coffee shop had really nice clothes? My clothes are pretty cool, too. Maybe some girl in the grocery store had seriously, the nicest bod ever. I would remind myself that I have pretty great curves and that I’m healthy, and I too have the nicest bod because I have a body! There’s a quote from a woman who works at Darling Magazine who said, “What if we said: ‘She’s beautiful but so am I,’ instead of, ‘She’s beautiful and how do I measure up to her?’” The more I started to silently, or out loud, compliment the women around me it was a lot harder for me to be negative about myself (and them!). The habit made me a better person all around so you know, why not?

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Besides my friend group, another thing that helped me feel enough was speaking my worthiness into existence every single day. The second I start feeling crappy about myself I scream in my head, “STOP!! YOU ARE SO WORTHY! DON’T THINK THESE THINGS!” Some days this works better than others, but it is all about habit. Along with this… as silly as it seems… social media helped a lot with reminding myself who I really am. It’s easy to send yourself down a black hole on Instagram or Twitter or wherever but following the right people makes or breaks you. I stopped following people that made me feel down and I caught myself comparing my body or whatever to. I followed more blogs like SoWorthLoving (encouraging, encouraging, encouraging. That’s all I have to say about them.), awesome food bloggers like ShutTheKaleUp and LeeFromAmerica (they talk a lot about body love), and whoever else that just makes me feel good. Social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be very wonderful if you use it in the right way.

I don’t like myself sometimes, I think that there are always things in life I should be perfecting, and I’m not always kind. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. This world we live in doesn’t always make it easy, but the right people can make it worth it. So what is “worthy” exactly? Google says it’s, “having or showing the qualities or abilities that merit recognition in a specified way.” To me, it’s asking, “What if I loved myself up to the brim?” It’s also asking, “How do I feel about my favorite person in the world?” This is the feeling, but turning that feeling around on yourself. Feeling worthy is feeling peace. You are enough, I promise. If you don’t feel that you are, find someone who believes it and truly listen to his or her heart.

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Saying it again for the people in the back: you are enough, I promise you.


Absolutely incredible. It cuts deep just hearing the words of Peyton come from a place of pain. But her life has been redeemed. Things have turned around for the better because, well God is good. She has found that vulnerability has opened so many doors to renewal, recognition, and worth. I love that she referenced So Worth Loving. Erin and those a part of the team there have inspired me for quite some time. 

Let us not forget that our stories serve to inspire and encourage others. And Peyton's story definitely does that! Man, I need to be surrounded by people like Peyton. Hopefully this post had an uplifting effect on you. Maybe try what Peyton left us with. It's about knowing the value you possess and repeating the phrase: "YOU ARE ENOUGH." Repeat it. Tell it to those needing to hear it.

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective

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You Are Enough - Sammy

S A M M Y

BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

What does "You Are Enough" mean to you?

“You are enough” is a small sentence that can make a big difference, and should be the anthem of our society. Inadequacy is an everyday battle for me, personally, along with just about everyone on the planet, and to hear the words “you are enough” is to shut down the lies and feelings of not being good enough. It is an anthem of truth to combat the deeply-rooted lies of inadequacy and shame. 

Share a story that affirmed this truth in your life.

A couple years ago, I was intensely struggling with not feeling as though grace could cover the mistakes I had made in the past, and I began to base my identity and value on my past mistakes. I shared this with someone who asked, even though I barely knew them and it was uncommon for me to open up quickly. Her response was, “Your value is set in stone. Nothing good you do will increase your value, nor will any mistake decrease it. Your value has never changed, and is never going to. You have always been enough.” My life hasn’t been the same since then, and not only do and get to remind myself of that truth, but I’ve had the chance to remind others of it, too. 

 

What one encouragement would you like to leave our readers?

- While it may feel as though your value has been tainted, broken, or diminished, cling to the truth that the perfect Father always says “you are enough.”

 


Wow, that's powerful! Ever since I met Sammy a few years back, I have seen her mature and grow into this value she mentioned above. She lives it out so well. I love seeing my friends pursue the very beauty that is within them. How do we begin to see ourselves worthy like Sammy does? How do we affirm that truth in those that we care about?

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective

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You Are Enough - Brandon

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B R A N D O N

BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

What does "You Are Enough" mean to you?

"You Are Enough" means that even when I feel in pieces, broken to the point of despair, I am made whole. No matter what flaws or weakness I see, He sees right through. He loves me "AS IS". I chose to live in this theme because I can see my Father looking into my eyes, reminding me everyday of my worth and value as far more than I could ever comprehend.
 

SHARE A Story THAT AFFIRMED THIS TRUTH.

Last winter I had experienced a spiritual warfare that I did not think I could overcome. On a drive through the mountains, I overlooked the city and saw a vast amount of creation. I pulled over and walked through the brush to a point of scenery to speak to God away from distraction. In fear, I told God, I did not have what it takes to overcome such obstacles. I doubted my gifts, I doubted my strengths, and most of all, I doubted Him. A sense of warmth and peace then overcame me. I started to see every door He opened for me as if a projection film was displayed. It was flashbacks of my life. Whenever I fell, His hand was always extended. When I could not even crawl in tears, He carried me. When I needed someone to talk to, He was waiting there patiently.

With Him, I have been able to serve to impact, pray expectantly, and love unconditionally to those He leads me to. In my imperfections, He makes me perfect. Just as I am, I come to Him.

WHAT ONE Encouragement WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEAVE OUR READERS?

I want to encourage those who are reading this to never feel worthless. You ARE beautifully and wonderfully made in His image to live. You are not a mistake but rather a handcrafted creation that is designed with a divine purpose. Spend time with Him, distractions aside, and most of all be vulnerable to Him molding you. And to remember, You ARE Enough.

~BRANDON


As Brandon has found his worth, we hope that this can inspire you to seek yours. We may think we know who we are. But let's face it, we are constantly changing. Some days are harder than others, as we come up against new challenges that impede on our self-worth. Brandon is a friend and brother to me. I admire how he lives out his life, approaching each day completely raw, real, and relational.

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective

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You Are Enough

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You Are Enough

You Are Enough.

If you have never heard this before, you need to hear it now. YOU. ARE. ENOUGH. Walk in this truth, beloved Storyteller.

I am sure that at this point in your life, you have been knocked down time and time again. Feeling worth it has been the hardest thing to overcome. My friend, that is okay. It’s a very real struggle. To be honest, I go through this myself every single day. My life has seen loss, lies, emptiness, etc. I have faced a broken heart with a departure from falling in love, countless times. But these experiences have shaped me—helped me to live out my story to the best of my ability.

Just know this: that YOU are worth it, YOU are valued, and YOU are loved. This is about the real you—when no one is looking, before your next Instagram post, and when you call that friend at 2 am because you feel like the life is being sucked out of you. However, these things don’t define you. Seeing the worst actually is a chance to strive for the best.

Beyond this image of self-worth is a BIGGER STORY.

See, through Jesus and Jesus alone, you are made enough. For His ultimate love is sufficient beyond anything we can do. As 2 Corinthians 3:5 puts it, "Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God." In pursuing Him, "we are made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:10). See, when our identity is in Christ, He makes us more whole and secure. In fact, He makes us His "masterpiece" and created us anew to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). He sees us as His beloved Son or Daughter. What a beautiful thing that is!

Do you know that you are beautiful? Has someone told you that recently? I may not know you personally. But I bet your life is surrounded by beauty. You seek for wonder and adventure. You adore genuine relationships. And your heart beats for connection, intention, and belonging. I hope you see the light of this day. I hope you hear the birds sing their harmonious tunes in the morning like I do. I hope someone takes you out for coffee and speaks encouragement into your life through their high regard for you.

And so, WE ARE ENOUGH BECAUSE JESUS IS ENOUGH. This is your anthem. Wear it proud and wear it well. On the lower left side of the tee, you can find a small text saying, "Today You Are Enough." It is placed to be read by those wearing this tee as a reminder to take one day at a time. It affirms your worth.

So go. Go live this out, dear Storyteller.

The world needs to hear it more. So do you.

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective

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Let Your Light Shine - Alexia

A L E X I A

BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

ALEXIA IS A FRIEND, A PIONEER, A DREAMER. SHE IS A STORYTELLER WHO WANTS TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN THE WORLD. I ABSOLUTELY ENJOYED OUR TIME SPENT ROAMING AROUND GOLDEN HILL AND SOUTH PARK. ALEXIA, OTHER THAN BEING A NATURAL MODEL, HAS A GENTLE ELEGANCE ABOUT HER. I KNOW SHE CARES FOR THOSE IN HER LIFE AND HOLDS THEM CLOSE. SHE DEFINITELY LIVES IN HER AUTHENTICITY. TAKE A MOMENT TO READ HER INTERVIEW BELOW.

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective


WHAT ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT?

I really love coffee.
I love Jesus.
I love music.
I love photos.
And plants and flowers.
I love nature.

 

WHAT DOES "LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE" MEAN IN YOUR LIFE?"

I feel like it’s really complex—cause it can mean a lot. But I would say, using your gifts and talents that you have. Maybe pursuing your dreams and being available to others as well. And being encouraging.

HOW DO YOU
DO THAT
IN
YOUR LIFE?

 

Meeting friends for coffee and being real with them. Not just surface. Using your gifts and talents, like how you're doing with photography and graphic design. But you also use it for other people and not just yourself.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO TO EXPRESS THAT IDEA?

I want to start serving. Whatever that looks like. I’m not sure what that looks like for me yet. I definitely feel like making connections with people is important. Connecting with people and being real—I know that is in my future.


YOU CAN FIND HER ON INSTAGRAM: @ALEXIA_NATALIA

ALEXIA'S FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE:

"Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."

~ISAIAH 60:1

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective

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Let Your Light Shine - Makenna

Makenna—a bundle of joy, energy, expression. She was super stoked the entire photoshoot. It was confirmation That I chose the perfect storyteller for this theme and this tank. makenna loves who god is turning her into and it's evident as she lives her life out. she loves nerding out to geology & Spending time with the girls she gets to pour into. it shows that you can be passionate in anything. Read below and be inspired!

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective


WHAT ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT?

I’m passionate about a lot of things.

One, obviously, God. He is such a huge presence in my life, and who I’ve been, who I’ve become, and what I’ve figured out to be—my passions in life. 

Maybe other things I can say are hobbies. But right now what I’m actually passionate about definitely comes from what God has placed in my heart and one of those things is definitely geology. It may be so nerdy. But it’s seriously what I’m so passionate about. Earth and how it’s still alive and He didn't just place us here to roam the earth. He created an earth that is still alive and is still moving and working. I learn so much about that and how it all keeps shifting and moving. It’s so crazy. Like these sea stacks out here and the cliffs. I love it! I absolutely love it.

Okay there’s one time, it’s super funny. It was two weeks ago in class in geology. Everyone was zoning out. It was like nine in the morning. And my teacher is talking about ice ages and how the continents get bigger in ice ages and how the ocean shrinks because the glaciers soak up all the water. I was thinking, we have continental shelves. Because we have continental shelves over and the ocean covers it. And it goes out and it just drops down, right? And I raised my hand. Everyone was still sleeping. And I’m like, “Wait, does that mean the continental shelves are just completely exposed during an ice age?" She was like, “Yeah!” I'm like, “That’s so cool!” Everyone in the class was busting up. Because like, who is this nerdy about cliffs and continents...That’s who I am.

My girls, leading my girls. I’m so passionate when I get anytime to spend with them and just do life with them. You know, see where they want prayer. If they just need someone to hang out with or like all of it, you know. Life. I’m so passionate about life.

WHAT DOES "LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE" MEAN IN YOUR LIFE?

Just being real to who I am and not comparing myself to anyone else in this world. Really get to know who I am and expressing who I am and coming into that. Everyone can be the next person, but you really got to tune into who you are to have this—not uniqueness—but just self.

It’s just figuring out more and more about who I am and who God wants me to be and just coming into that and finding happiness in my weirdness and nerdiness. That’s it. Just being as close to the person God made me.

And bringing that light out in others and trying to go deep with who they are. Not who people see them to be. But really get to who they are. Dig! Like, "Oh I’m seen as the stupid person in class." "No you’re not stupid. Don’t let those lies come into you. Who are you? What are you passionate about?" I really love art. I’m really artistic." "Let that define you. Whatever God has placed in your heart and who you are. Bring that out of you. Don’t let what other people see, not let out, who you really are come out." So I love finding out what that is in other people and trying to bring that out of them too.

How do you do that in your life?

Not letting my girls let their grades define them. Just believing in them and who they want to be. Not who people may see them or label them to be.


MAKENNA's FAVORITE QUOTE:

"The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never forget the drops of oil in the spoon."

~Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective

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Let Your Light Shine - John & Sheila

I absolutely love John and Sheila. They have huge hearts. They let their light shine so fully and so simply that even a stranger can see it. Through their marriage and their individual personalities, they seek every chance they get to serve anyone who they meet. they love the kids around them, really honing on the brokenness that needs mending. I hope this interview inspires you. This is living—This is a great example of storytellers who shine their light to the world.

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective


WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?

SHEILA: I work with Junior High and High School kids and I have since I was like 20. So 33 years. I absolutely love them—the good ones, the bad ones, the fat ones, the skinny ones, the ugly ones—they’re just amazing. I would do anything to get them walking with the Lord, keeping them in the right path, and if they’re not Christians yet, for them to find Christ, and get saved, and keep bringing them to the Lord.

JOHN: I want to serve the Lord. And I found my niche serving the Lord through the children. And even as I’m three times as old as them, I can still relate to them. And then watching these kids that are such introverts that don’t know what’s happening, watch them light up, watching their eyes get bigger and yearning for more—more truth, more learning—of Christ. I’ve only been doing it for a few years. Three years with Sheila and a couple years before that. And just watch these kids light up and bloom from little brats, little weeds, to beautiful men and women.

SHEILA: Being there for their good stuff, being there when they’re broken-hearted, and breakups, and grandparents dying, and mom going through cancer.

JOHN: I think it’s easier for us being older, to carry the message, than it is for our interns we have now that are only a couple years older. That because of our life experiences, our trials and tribulations, and how at times we may have failed, to get back up again. And we have these life experiences to tell the children that, “It’s going to be okay guys. And look what God has done for us today. God has taken care of the rest and He will for you too.” Look at Sheila being 50 years old before she got the husband she wanted. You don’t have to get girls at 17 or 18. God has other things in mind for you right now. We don’t know the answers all of the time. Trust God.

HOW DO YOU "LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE" IN YOUR LIFE?

SHEILA: I’m just going to go to him, myself. Nothing makes me happier than Sunday mornings and Wednesday night. He’s standing at that front door greeting every kid when they walk in and kids who have probably never had anybody at church talk to them before. They like hug him, kids I never really had talked to. They love him. You’re like, “What?” That girl has never even smiled before. They come, they sit in the back, they have their hoods up. And then, when they’re leaving, he’ll shake their hand and tell them he loves them. And the next week, they’re hugging him. And when they’re walking in, they’re looking for him. I love that! But then I just hope they see the way we love each other too and can see God through us and just knowing as old as we are, we’re still in church, we love the Lord. I didn’t do the: when I was 20, disappear for five years and never go to church. But it’s like, “You guys, you gotta get connected, you gotta get involved, you gotta minister somewhere. Cause that’s where it is. But even little things like going to the grocery store and just being nice to people. Grabbing some old lady’s cart for her, helping her with her stuff. I just always try to be nice.

JOHN: I try to be a good example every time, all the time. Open the car door, wait, let somebody else in. It’s difficult sometimes cause life is so busy. But, I want to be the best person I can be on a regular basis, whether you go to my church or not, whether you’re another nationality, wearing a different outfit. I want to be all time. And hopefully, I am a shining example. In our daily prayers, it’s “God, soften our heart that we can better carry your message to those who haven’t heard it yet.” And I gotta remind myself everyday that, I’m not perfect. And I need God every single day to help soften my heart, to help carry the message to these kids that…Watching these kids in the high school…some of these kids are undecided. Their minds are messed up. They don’t know where they’re going, or where they should be going, what they’re doing. And I can just tell them, “I love ya. Come on back. I love ya.” And like Sheila was saying, the hoodies are coming down. They’re standing in line to get a hug. And I’m just standing there and looking back three or four rows deep of kids and thinking this kid wants a hug. I don’t know their names. I wish I could remember their names. But this is a child that walked in, the hoodie all wrapped tight, head down, and walked around to get in a corner. And now they’re standing in line with their arms open.

SHEILA: He’s just connecting with people that he could never connect with. But then also Taco Tuesday, we go to the same place every Tuesday cause our little waitress, she’s not a Christian. But sometimes, she’ll jump in and hold our hands and pray with us when we pray for our meal. And she’ll tell us now, “You guys better pray for me this week. It’s been really hard.” And now her mom will come in sometimes and sit with us and have dinner with us. This is awesome. She grew up in El Cajon where we have all been our lives. So we have plenty to talk about. And she’s like, “I can’t believe it. Thanks for being so nice to my mom.” I’ll bring her bath salts because she like to take baths. And she’s just in shock. But she’s like our kid. We’re not doing nothing extra. You’re just being people.

JOHN: But you have a God heart and you accept these people no matter who they are, their statute in life. And that allows them to be more open and accepting. Our waitress didn’t want to hold hands.

SHEILA: It took her a few weeks. And then one night she’s like, “Yes, I need this!”

JOHN: We’re praying she’ll jump in and want to hold our hands for prayer and say “Amen.” I don’t know her background, where she came from but this is a breakthrough. And she’s a 21 year old woman. If we can just carry this little light. A light starts small. A flame starts small and gets big. And if we can just plant this little seed, this little flicker of light into this child, in this case a woman, 21, maybe it’ll start lighting up and glowing inside of her. That’s what I love about these kids. These kids come from a great background. But they’re still broken inside. They’re tired of hearing this God thing beat into them. And I’m just, “God loves ya. We love you and we want you back.” And it gives them a different avenue of it. And they have the authority figure of their pastor or their intern leaders. But then they Sheila and I. “We love you no matter what. You’re okay no matter what. Yeah, and boys suck no matter what.

SHEILA: And when you show up on our grass at 11 o’clock at night because you need to talk to somebody. They’ll text, “Are you up?” "Well I am now.” “I’m at your front door, I need a hug.” So you go get dressed. What do you need to drink, what do you need to eat. And it’s always a boy or sometimes something is going on with mom or something is going on with dad. I just love that they come to us and they’re not going to go smoke pot with their friends from school to make everything go away. They’re coming to just talk it through and be okay. Cause I sure didn’t have that when I was a kid.

~Ben Dulay, Chief Storyteller of 777 Collective

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Bloom

BLOOM IS ABOUT FLOURISHING AND GROWTH, A FLOWER THAT HAS BLOSSOMED UPON THE RIGHT SEASON. BUT BLOOM ALSO CAN BE DEFINED AS A YOUTHFUL OR HEALTHY GLOW IN A PERSON'S COMPLEXION. A BLOOMING STORYTELLER THAT HAS SURVIVED ADVERSITY AND PAIN CAN NOW TELL STORIES OF MENDING, LIBERATION, AND VIBRANT BEAUTY.


We are happy to begin our Ladies' Bloom campaign by tapping into female storytellers and dreamers. It's the start of something new that God has long put on our hearts. As we listen to more women telling their story, there seems to be a similar theme told: this idea of embracing inner and outer beauty in a season God has them in. It is full of lessons such as refinement, listening, and patience. And so we want to highlight these incredible women through form of visual storytelling, what bloom means to them, and how God is using them to bloom in the current season.

And to the ladies out there seeing this, we want to affirm and encourage you. You have a voice, a story to live out. It may feel broken and unworthy to tell. But we are here to help you see it as beautiful and bright.

Below is our first take on Bloom through the eyes of fellow Storyteller Courtney. She inspires those around her, speaking truth into so many lives. Her fun and bubbly charisma is clearly evident through these photos. I wanted to accurately depict her contagious laughter and life. I hope you become inspired by her story.


"This word makes the phrase 'bloom where the Lord has you planted' comes to mind. So often we have a plan for ourselves. What our life will look like in the coming years. And so often those plans are shattered by the Lord. This leaves us frustrated, confused, and angry.

There is victory in blooming exactly where the Lord has us. When we bloom there our roots will be firm, the soil will be rich, and the water ever flowing. The roots will be full of goodness, love, and grace.

I encourage you to realize where the Lord has you now is where you are meant to be, and when you choose to bloom there beautiful things will happen."

~ Courtney, BLOOM STORYTELLER

AND SO LADIES, NOW IS YOUR TIME TO GO, TO PURSUE, TO BLOOM.


Photoshoot Details
Clothing - Maroon Bloom Muscle Tee
Model - @courtneycayyy
Location - Mission Hills & Pt. Loma, San Diego, CA

Based on a true story
~Ben Dulay, Storyteller

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Selah

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Selah

SELAH - to pause or take a moment to contemplate, rest, or be silent. 

Today ended up a little differently than expected. But it was a success. With my new Canon 6D, I got to adventure with this one along the coastline and adore God's beauty around us. Sometimes it's the spontaneity of adventure-seekers that bring us on journeys like these. We so much want the next high, the next big moment. However, how can we know the trivial, if we don't know how to take the small steps?

Selah means to pause or take a moment to contemplate, rest, or be silent. It is used in poetry and song and is found in the book of Psalms. But the exact definition is unclear. What we can take from this reoccurrence in Scripture is that pauses are good, real, and something to be cherished.

 

"Selah to me is a reminder to pause in between the busYness of life."

"I would say that doing the photoshoot was definitely out of my comfort zone originally, but as time went on I began to enjoy it much more, and the spontaneity of it also added an element of excitement as well. Also, I think the location truly embodied the word Selah - with the rhythm of the waves and the smell of the salty air its hard not to feel at ease, like all my present worries were being washed away." ~Itze

Sometimes I think we forget to truly rest and let the power of silence give us room to think. I believe we need to allot time to sort out our dreams and future goals. But we need to value the good that rest brings us. We need to see that it's necessary for our health, our mind, and our soul. We need a little more of what Selah represents. Even music has its rests and its breaks between melody and verse. So that when the music resumes, every note has its place, every resounding sound is in harmony - a masterpiece in itself. 

Let's take a moment and as Itze said, let the present worries wash away.

How will YOU SEEK REST IN your story?

Photoshoot Details
Clothing - Ladies' Selah Tank
Model - @panditaitze
Location - Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA

Based on a true story
~Ben Dulay, Storyteller

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The Simply Beloved Collaborative

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The Simply Beloved Collaborative

Let us just say that dreams come true. Keep that in mind as you read this.

It begun at three in the morning, not exactly the most desirable hour to begin a Saturday. I was definitely anxious about the unexpected. But I had a good feeling about this particular morning. God was going to reveal some things that I had only dreamt of.

Fast-forward to eight am. Aguanga, California - wide, open space, picture perfection. The Simply Beloved had reached out to us and wanted to feature our apparel in their next photoshoot. Of course we were not going to miss out on this opportunity. And so here I was, having said yes, and the day was here. But I was new to this experience. For once, I didn't need to photograph or organize anything. All I needed to do was show up with our Builders of the Never Before collection.

In the next few hours, magic happened. The photographers made it look easy. And the models were naturals. Everything seemed like fate, from the morning light, to the people, to the beauty of it all. I was in awe OF IT ALL. Most important, our story was told, and told accurately. Everyone who had a hand in executing it understood it completely.

See Builders of the Never Before Collection is not just purposed as an anthem to pioneers. It is an active invitation for anyone who wants to be a part of building a better future. Seemingly ordinary moments can change the course of history. We can have a collective love in all that we set our minds to. But let us not forget that this collective love takes people, people that reciprocate this love from within. And so it begins here. It begins now.

BUILDERS
OF THE
NEVER
BEFORE

BUILDERS OF THE NEVER BEFORE ARE TRAILBLAZERS, THEY PAVE THEIR OWN PATH AND STRETCH WHAT WAS THOUGHT TO BE POSSIBLE. IT'S A TWO PART PROCESS. IN ORDER TO BUILD SOMETHING THAT HAS NEVER EXISTED, ONE NEEDS TO DREAM SOMETHING THAT HAS NEVER BEEN DREAMT. BUT NOT ONLY ARE THESE PEOPLE DARING ENOUGH TO DREAM SOMETIMES THE IMPOSSIBLE, BUT THEY ARE ALSO PEOPLE OF ACTION WHO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.

CONQUEROR. BELIEVER. MOVER.

DREAMER. PURSUER.
TRAILBLAZER. 

Storyteller, why do we dream? Why stretch ourselves to greater bounds? I believe in trusting that God will follow through. He sure followed through this collaborative. I believe that He displays His infallible love for us for reasons that become known when we obey His commands. But I understand that my life's story cannot replicate yours. I simply want to echo what The Simply Beloved conveys in their stories: rawness. I hope that this story can be a push of motivation for you to tell your story. Dreams do come true. We do not have to live ordinary lives when we are surrounded by epic possibilities. Help us as Builders of the Never Before better the future.

DOER.LOVER.BEautifier.

SEEKER.
PIONEER.
DWELLER.

Based on a true story
~Ben Dulay, Storyteller

Head over to The Simply Beloved's blog entry about our collab:

http://thesimplybeloved.com/the-777-collective/

Photoshoot Details
Clothing - Builders of the Never Before Collection
Hair & Make-up - @siennahandy
Styling - @randomlyrayna
Photography - @lightsofminephotography, @mrscaptainkoch
Shoot Coordinator - @kawrysuh

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Cali Coast Collective

Purpose
The purpose of this trip was to get away and get energized. What an amazing year 2015 turned out to be, but nonetheless extremely exhausting. And so a road trip was calling our names. 6 days, 15 cities, and 1,530 miles of adventure - yes please.

What Went Down
Our journey began on Saturday, December 26, as we did a straight shot up to Sacramento. By the time of our arrival, we were cold, worn by the travel, and ready to sleep. But the sight of seeing our friends Tyler and Maddie immediately caused those thoughts to dissipate. We were glad they had opened their house to us. 

Day two included church, exploring inner-city Sac, and lots of laughter with the friends we just had made. It was quite brisk. But the adventure was oh so worth it. It had been years since we had been there last. So it felt as if we were walking in new territory.

Day three we grabbed coffee at Temple Coffee Roasters and hit the road. This was probably one of our favorite days. We drove through the southern part of San Francisco, made a quick stop in Half-Moon Bay, and picked up food at Trader Joe’s. Then we drove the expanse of Monterey Bay, Carmel, and the top of Big Sur. The famous Bixby Bay Bridge is what we were waiting for. We got there just in time for golden hour. Oh what a beautiful sight it was. We stayed put there for hours to get every shot possible. And before it got too dark, Ben got his guitar out, hiked above the road, and jammed on his guitar to Jon Foreman and worship songs. Perfection! That night, we slept in our car in a parking lot in Carmel. Man was it freezing. But we came prepared with our below freezing sleeping bags and plenty of blankets. 

Day four was probably the most driving. We drove the entirety of Big Sur and made plenty of stops. One of the cliffs we hiked out to had fresh fruit at the end of it. Someone had to have been there literally minutes before us. Or God had a hand in it. So we left it for the next travelers. We hit the road again to Moro Bay and all the way to Ventura where we met our next friend Scott. He showed us his office space for Clover. We were blown away by the incredible interior design aspects. Let’s just say it had a few hidden features. Ben wished he could work in an environment like that. Then we got shawarma, caught up with Scott, met his friends, and played on the old upright piano at his house. Even his house was decked out with very masculine elements. We have always loved Scott’s authenticity and generosity. We look up to him not just creatively, but in regards to his maturity, confidence, and spiritual walk. God is definitely doing great things in Scott's life right now (congrats on the engagement!). We slept at his house that night.

Day five took us to Costa Mesa. We got coffee at Milk & Honey and then cruised over to Black Box Merch and sat down with our friend Brian to begin discussing expansions to our products. That guy’s heart and willingness to help us is so highly respected. We look forward to future business with him. Then we went to The Camp shopping center and got inspired by all the creativity and hand-crafted goods that we discovered. Sometimes those little hole-in-the wall places are the best surprises. Next, we hit the road again to Santa Monica. We went shopping at a popular spot and saw a Stanford pep-rally. They went all out! Then we visited the Alternative Apparel store in Venice, one of our wholesale providers. It was great seeing and feeling potential clothes beyond online pictures. Literally across the street was a TOMS flagship store. So of course we checked it out. Levi is a huge fan of their brand. And they had their roasting company too. So Ben was sold on that. Then we treated ourselves to Rubio’s and headed over to the Griffith Observatory. Levi had been there before. But Ben went crazy as the whole city of Hollywood was in sight and it was all free to access (free is always good). The day wasn’t ready to end yet. We took a wrong turn and ended up in Universal City. Turns out we were heading right for Universal Studios. We parked, got out, and saw a strip full of lights and King Kong. That was confirmation we were indeed in Universal Studios. Levi wasn’t even born yet when the family last took a trip there! And so, because the randomness of the trip just sky-rocketed by this point, we decided to watch Stars Wars. Like why not? Oh it was so epic. No regrets on that. Once the movie ended, we drove out to Malibu and slept in the car along the side of the road.

Day six, the final day. We woke up sore and tired. Our desire to take pictures of everything had lessened. Plus we weren’t out in nature like the first half of the trip. We trekked to California Donuts in LA and started the day right, full of sugar. Of course we balanced that with Jamba Juice, Ben’s old job of three years. We made our way over to The Grove shopping mall. I see why now that basically every celebrity and resident of Beverly Hills shops there. Next in the line-up was Sam Ash music store. We were impressed by their incredible selection of instruments. Road trips can be weary on musicians at times. So it was good playing with instruments again. Then we agreed that our grand finale of the Cali Coast Collective was going to be Downtown Disney. Once again to all good things free, we took advantage of the free parking within two hours. That’s all the time that we needed. We were exhausted by six days on the road anyways. And so we walked around and soaked in our last stop. Finally, we were homeward bound and made it back safely by 7 pm.

Takeaways
First thing is first. God is good. Oh so good! Just getting this opportunity as two busy people was a gift in itself. But the access of adventure out our front door was truly a blessing. We as creatives should take every chance to discover God’s beauty. And so the Cali Coast Collective was long overdue. We had new gear from Christmas to try out and a Honda Fit ideal for travel. And so nothing was telling us not to go.

On a deeper level, we needed rest. Rest from school, work, restlessness. But also rest from a long year of accomplishments. We needed an excuse to be elsewhere to reflect on this new journey of our’s. We only started 777 Collective on April 15 of 2015. So everything since the launch date has occurred within a few short months. However, God has blessed us with much. From the constant learning, to personal refinement, to collaborations with The Simply Beloved and Kaffee Meister, doors have opened for us. Do we deserve the spotlight? No. Are we perfect business owners, entrepreneurs, and creatives? Definitely not. See, we are two broken brothers with plenty of flaws. This is a dream we thought was years out of reach. But we know that God uses our weaknesses and insufficiencies to tell stories - His stories written for us to tell. We lean on Him when our understanding is so limited. And so although we don’t understand why He gave us this chance of a lifetime, we choose to step up to the challenge.

This road trip allowed us to breathe and take away further growth in our faith. We drew much inspiration from the beautiful sights and beautiful people. We may be young and unexperienced. But something about being called "to go" leaves us feeling older and wiser. And so, we hope that you fellow storyteller get a chance like this. Hopefully you enjoyed seeing our posts on Instagram along the way. Check out these and others we will post later.

Stories need content. Stories need wrong turns and right moves. Stories are true when you have lived them. So your takeaway is this: go live it and live it truthfully.

Based on a true story.
~Ben & Levi Dulay, Storytellers

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Stepping Stones

777 Collective has been a journey of a little over six months since its launch. A lot of opportunities to grow, collaborate, and create have undergone and are always taking shape.

We have found ourselves embracing the creative minds of artists local and out-of-state through everything that we can get our hands on. It is crazy how Instagram itself has helped open many of those doors. That has included participation in a four day Socality conference where my brother Levi and I gained a greater awareness of what running a clothing company really is about - community, changing lives, and making a lasting impact.

People have the capability to inspire you. Real relationships have depth and meaning. The presence of healthy community becomes evident in our lives.

This company has allowed us to see the world differently, and for that we are grateful. I have met interns from Krochet Kids International and even went on a photoshoot with Zoey who helps with their photography department. And this weekend, I will be driving up for The Simply Beloved's photoshoot that will be featuring some of our new products (soon to be released) for their new online magazine. Thanks to Karissa for being such a great connection and encouragement to me. We don't deserve these collaborations. But we are truly blessed by the doors that have opened. God is good.

To us, all we want is to write this story, to look back and see that somehow and someway, we made an impact. And so we are still learning. We are still figuring out what getting a group of flawed individuals together really looks like. But we do know that we are created to create. We can say that so far that this time of growth is working and oh so worth it.

We have brand new apparel soon to come. We wanted to update you with what God has been doing here. I am so incredibly excited to see where this goes during our first holiday season and into this next year of 2016. Keep praying for us and doing whatever that you can to be of support: rep our clothes, spread the word, take pics of our products that we will definitely repost, give us feedback, recommendations, or ideas, ask to model, we are open.

And let us not forget our new Personals page is making its debut in the near future. This will be a place to embrace the community aspect of storytellers and their stories, something we have envisioned since the start of this incredible journey. We simply love people and want to give them a moment to be celebrated.

Stay tuned Storyteller for more things and even a chance to tell a piece of your story. Remember that we are all in this story together. We cannot do it alone.

Make everything count. For you never know what is a stepping stone for a brighter tomorrow.

- Ben Dulay, Storyteller

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Independence Day

Hey there Storyteller, what do you think about on July Fourth as you go about the day spent with family and friends? American flags, Founding Fathers, stars and stripes, barbecues, parades, fireworks, cute themed pictures, traffic, etc.

More than wearing red, white, and blue, this holiday resembles the beginning of a nation 239 long years ago. It symbolizes the journey of a group of revolutionaries signing a Declaration of Independence where it all started. See, ever since America was a little rookie of a country, people owned up to living out their stories. Stories got them across the Atlantic, stories got them to start a new life, stories led to not being afraid to fail and get back up again, and stories to this day are being told about this country. We are no perfect people. We are human after all. But in reflection to humble beginnings, 777 Collective finds inspiration in America’s story. It took a lot of fervor and zealousness to come this far. And as a result, we strive for the same.

So we from 777 Collective hope your Independence Day weekend is full of joy, laughter, and just feeling blessed to live in this great country. Here’s to red, white, blue, and freedom that reigns true.

P.S. Stay tuned for summer tank tops soon to come to our store. Big things lie ahead for us. We appreciate all of your support and prayers!

- Ben Dulay, storyteller

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Chicago

Chicago, the Windy City. Chicago, a dream of dreams come true.

With my recent travels to Illinois, embracing a familiar yet different atmosphere was refreshing.  I took a 37 hour drive out from San Diego. One car, three people, straight through. Arriving on a new coast was an incredible feeling. The cold, crisp air kept me on my toes and each new sight kept my Canon busy. My friends Breezy and Keegan repped some of our gear around the city, making it the first time 777 Collective was to ever make an appearance in this glorious city. Food was definitely a must. Although it was exhausting, exploring Chicago was totally worth it. Worth the drive, worth the fatigue, worth the extensive journey.

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My fellow storytellers,  keep travelling. Seek out chances for adventure, thrill, and good company. To the young opportunist: take risks and revive what has become mundane. And to the old and wise globetrotter: continue on the straight and narrow and fulfill your life's desires. We are all lovers for beauty. So take a chance for what it is worth.

You will see here the Cloud Gate, a large metallic, bean-shaped wonder and also a business building that had our numbers written all over it, 777 Michigan Avenue. All in all, I recommend a visit to Chicago if you haven't been yet. I most certainly will. I got to get more Giordano's deep dish Chicago-style pizza anyways.

What is your recent favorite vacation or roadtrip and explain why?

#777collective #everybodyisastoryteller #Chicago #Illinois #ontheprow

- Ben Dulay, storyteller

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A Story Needs An Audience

Telling stories can be intimidating, especially when you are prompted to tell your story. See, sometimes the weight of our past seems so heavy that we are afraid to even touch the subject. But the whole idea behind becoming narrator to our lives is to admit that we are all imperfect individuals. We have flaws, poor judgements, and insecurities. However, that means that we are not alone in possessing accident-prone characteristics. Everyone has their moments. I don't know about you, but that should encourage us to speak up and simply be who we are meant to be. A life full of comparing and falling short to be someone we are not is just not worth it. Sure it is good to admire those of particular success, talent, and gifting that surround us. The moment we start obsessing over how we need their qualities to be socially appraised is when we lose sight of who we are. Our culture is hungry for appraisal. But appraisal should not solely feed off of social requirements.

Storyteller, let me remind you that when your story is spoken, others listen. Even when you feel like you are getting repetitious and no one cares, others still listen. Why are we doing this? Why are we telling our story in the form of a clothing brand? Well we have an audience. So here is your platform to do the same.

Comment below about a time when your story changed a life.

- Ben Dulay, storyteller

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Day One

Hello World! We are happy to announce Day One of this incredible story we call 777 Collective! If you are reading this right now, you are witnessing the start of a new chapter of our lives. We are but two brothers. Average. Silly. Awkward. But we dream, and for that I can say we are professionals at. I cannot begin to tell you how stoked I am. I am humbled by the creative outlet God has provided in order to embark on this journey. It is going to require significant amounts of prayer, patience, and provision. But I know we can do this together and for that I am rocked to the core just thinking about.

As far as our website goes, become familiar with it:

  • Home - An introduction to this incredible story
  • Shop - Check out our brand-spanking-new products
  • Who We Are - Our purpose and reason for the start-up
  • The Teller - Our blog with the latest news, freshly pressed designs, etc.
  • Connect - The best way to reach us and give us feedback.

Stay up to date with us because we have a few surprises around the corner. Surprises that can get you involved with our effort and make a difference in those around you.

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, & VSCO Grid. Feel free to spread the word on social media, blog about it, and tell your friends. This is not about us alone. There is no spotlight with room for one, but for all. This is a collective effort!

- Ben Dulay, storyteller

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