Thursday, August 23, 2012

Express Yourself.

So I have been editing lots of photos of my boys lately. I have come to the conclusion that while my Matthew is just a tiny clone of my husband allllllll the way, he has my ridiculous facial expressions. He has amazing control of his eyebrows. Anyone who's ever gotten the stank eye from me can tell you he comes by it naturally. He is also extremely loud. We've often joked that he doesn't really have a volume control, and I can't tell you how often I have to ask him to use his "inside voice." Everything he does is just crazy expressive. And I LOVE it. Actually, it's one of my favorite things about him.

This got me thinking. What's so bad about being expressive?! Why are people so afraid to be seen and heard? I love that my boys aren't afraid to be different. I love it because just like anything else, outside of a relationship with Jesus, it could be crippling in life. But with Father breathing His plan all over Matthew's little life, it can only bring blessing. As for me, I'm raising three boys that are wildly expressive. They will no doubt be leaving massive impressions on the world as they grow. I hope you will too :)

these taken over a dinner at Chilis, never a dull moment :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

listen closely.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Highschool was full of all sorts of craziness, but mostly all my memories are wrapped up in my best friend, Robbi. She was like another sister to me. We spent lots of time together, went on summer vacations, had frequent sleepovers- the usual girly stuff. It was pretty awesome. We were crazy impressionable and changed ourselves to stay in with current culture. This made for some super awkward phases- grunge, preppy, hippie... we tried it all. One such phase was when she obsessed over dolphins and I obsessed over manatees. Our rooms were clad with posters and stuffed animals. We sported WWF (world wildlife fund, not wrestling) t-shirts and I even had a manatee charm that I wore around my neck. It's sort of comical when I think of it now, but even still I've got a soft spot for those gentle giants being maliciously ate up by the props of boats infringing on their shallow waters.
It was during this time that I learned a valuable life lesson... stay tuned. This is where it gets juicy.

I have always had this thing for tuna fish. It's like a weird comfort food for me. I guess it's from the old campbell's tuna casserole days, I don't know. But even in highschool I loved it. Robbi on the other hand, did not. She would always cringe. And one day, she scolded me with all the reasons why tuna fishing was bad for dolphins. She included details of dolphins stuck in nets and all sorts of horror stories- to which I quickly argued that they had totally fixed that with dolphin-friendly legislation. She wasn't buying it, though. She innocently asked me "What do you think that grey is in the can?!" I was horrified. Was I eating helpless wounded dolphins mixed into my tuna???? I never questioned her, not out right anyway. After all, she said it with such conviction that is had to be true. I didn't eat tuna for months. Until...(dun,dun,dun) until my mom laughed out loud at my disgust and said "Bekah, tuna skin is grey." Cue blushing embarrassment. I hadn't considered that, not for a second. How silly. For the record, Robbi is still one of my most treasured friends, and I've said many many more "cool" things to her than this. We are now much older and wiser than our highschool selves.

The moral of this story? You can't always believe what you hear, even when especially when, it's coming from someone you love immensely. When people we love to pieces tell us things with intense conviction behind their words, it's so easy to swallow the pill without reading the label. Society is getting wild. And people are saying all sorts of things. Make sure you take it all to Jesus and see how He weighs in. You might be surprised at how laughable some of it is.

Hope this finds you checking your sources... Happy Wednesday :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Today was a special day in our house. My Justin is 32 today. He is 2 months younger than me, and he never lets me forget it :) I could write about how cute the kids were last night begging me to wake them up early so they could make breakfast. Or how adorable Jere's little scribbles were on their homemade banner. But I want to say more than that. Today, I want to say thank you. Thank you, Jesus, for partnering me with this incredible guy. Thank you, Justin, for being such a happy place for me.

You may not want to hear all of the great things I have to say about my hubbs. But if you're going to understand me, and this journey, and how I'm handling it, then you have to understand my relationship with my very best friend in the whole world. I thought today would be a great day to let you in on US.

Justin is hilarious. He breaks out into wild fits of laughter over the silliest things. I love to laugh. He is so fun and corny and full of puns. I mean, FULL, I've never known anyone to be so quick with them. It stands to be one of his best and worst qualities, as it seems to be pretty constant, even when I want to be serious. He is so predictable, but never boring. He has sort of a 'why-mess-with-a-good-thing?' attitude about most things. He buys the same shirt in 5 colors, wears one cut of jeans, and will prefer vanilla icecream with chocolate sauce till the day he dies. But he is always on a mission to surprise me, with gifts that blow my mind, things that I'd never expect. It goes to his predictability because I know he will always go above and beyond. In contrast, unless I make it myself, I'm awful at giving gifts. Just awful. When it comes to stress, he is stellar. He has an uncanny ability to walk out of his work environment and sink right into family life without letting it bleed over. It's a trait I've always been envious of, and more and more I am crazy thankful for it. My only fault with his stress handling tendencies is that he is so protective of me, to the point of keeping me in the dark of things sometimes. It's awesome, and not awesome- equal parts. He is a fantastic dad- modeling too much greatness for my boys for me to even list it here. But I can say without hesitation that I'd love for all three of them to be just like him when they grow up. In so many ways we are exact opposites, but just in all the right ways. He is firm where I'm soft and gentle where I'm harsh. He nudges when I need to be pushed, and is always able to reel me back in when I've gotten off track. My favorite thing: he always tells me what I need to hear, and rarely, I mean RARELY goes for what I want to hear. That is priceless and amazing in a partner. There are people who come into your life and change everything. They love you, in spite of you, and that changes you. Justin is such a sweet expression of Father's love for me. He is literally re-presenting Jesus to me on a daily basis. It doesn't get more real than that. I will love him till I die.

 Happy Birthday, Jus. You are my very favorite. My best friend forever.

Monday, August 20, 2012

just Us. Me and Jesus.

I have been so swallowed up lately. And I'll be honest, I have neglected this blog so much. Between birthday parties and cakes and weddings and school prep, I've just put this on the back burner. My heart is full of good things, and hard things too, that I've been anxious to share. But in truth, the longer I waited to post, the easier it was to put it off. And before I knew it I was staring at a massive snowball of blank "pages." A month's worth to be exact :/ My heart is heavy today, and has been for the last week. And so I've been reluctant to dive in with a Debbie-Downer attitude. I'm not depressed or anything like that. I'm just saddened, grieved in the deepest parts of my heart for the things that I'm anxious to see happen in our midst. I am still struggling to find the balance between staying content in a different environment without adopting the culture and forgetting where I came from. I'm not talking about Texas life. In talking about Kingdom life. There is so much to be learned in a community of people that walk in worshipful discipleship. There's also much to be learned alone- in the quiet of God's presence. That *has* to be enough for me.

My kids bring a lot of joy. And simplicity to my life. My Matthew is a constant reminder of what childhood should be- imagination, and wonder, and fun. At 7 years old, he cries if the day doesn't include enough "playing." Last week I took him to get a new pair of shoes, and he picked out the yellow ones. I knew my husband would cringe when he saw them, but I had to let him be his own person. He isn't his brother, he's different, and it's awesome. He was so proud of those shoes and begged me to photograph them. His grin says it all.

Sometimes, in my grown up over-analytical outlook, there's a part of me that's screaming for simpler times. Like when new kicks was all it took to make the world right again...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hokus Pokus Focus

So. I haven't written in a while. I've been sort of stuck in a busy bubble, and haven't been coping with it very well. I recently encountered a photography crisis, and it pretty much had me close to tears for a straight week. I guess it's because once you get bitten with the camera bug, it becomes an extension of your artistic expression. I felt like I'd lost a limb- as I was convinced that there was something terribly wrong with my camera. Not so. Operator error. What you're about to read is my humble confession about all of my blurry out of focus photos. Eek. So embarrassing. Here it goes...

Focus Points. Yes, so very simple and super elementary in the realm of learning your camera's functions. Well, I totally neglected it. I would half-press the shutter button and wait until my subject came into focus and snap a picture. By some amazing coincidence this led to more good photos than bad ones. At least until a couple of weeks ago :/ I'm assuming that as I am forming a style, I'm getting more deliberate with my framing and such. The result was entire batches of super weird pics. I was baffled. I scoured blogs and forums for answers to why my camera had completely flaked out. Today, yes... today I found the answer. There are a given number of focus points on your camera model. My D3100 has eleven. I completely ignored the tiny red highlight on the focus point being used. Basically, the camera could be focusing on someone's hand an I'd be trying to get it to focus on their eyes and I'd end up all frustrated. Or, even worse, I'd be fooled by what looked like a great shot on my LCD only to find that on the computer it was out of focus. And I was completely in control of which focus point was being used, I just didnt know it! Today, since learning this- I have taken non-stop tack sharp photos with my 35mm 1.8, and I'm freaking OUT. In a good way. It was that simple.

Ever find yourself in a blur? Life gets so crazy sometimes- we start to feel like nothing is going right and we tend to blame Jesus for not properly equipping us. Maybe it's not that at all. Maybe you have just the right equipment, and it's YOU who needs adjusting. Maybe it's as simple as re-evaluating your focus points. I hate to be a burster of happy self-centered bubbles (actually I quite like it) but if you're focusing on how things are affecting you then you're missing it completely. And it's no wonder that things are so fuzzy. I am hearing this, deep in my heart today. Thanks, Jesus.

I hope this finds you honing your focus, seeing life through the mind and heart of Jesus, and with clarity.
Happy Tuesday :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Jere has a new fascination with swings. At two years old, the big kid swings at the park seem so high for him. I'm always nervous he'll flip off backwards, or even worse, flip to the front and faceplant into the rocks. I worry too much. Yesterday I caught him doing something that made my stomach curl. While on the swing, with his tiny feet dangling freely, he would let go of the chains. He'd quickly grab them again, but I caught a glimpse of that daring personality shining through again. I thought to myself... He's so brave. That's terrifying and awesomeAs a mother, you never want your children to be bound by fear. But you also know that a complete lack of fear can lead to reckless abandonment of common sense. And so, I didn't intervene. I just watched. And guess what?? He survived his few moments on the swing and when it became too much, he asked for my help. Its true what they say, that we learn from our kids. God is teaching me so much through my boys. I am learning to let go. I am learning to be a little more daring. Braver. 

This week I posted a couple of pics onto the fan page of a photography blog I follow. And... I didn't die (even though I was super nervous about it, and only three people liked my photos, and they were my friends). But I did it. I put myself out there, did something brave, brave for me atleast. I have been functioning at half of my potential for a long time now, because I was afraid. If you had asked me just a month ago, I would have told you I have a lot of hobbies- I like to sing, I try to write, I take pictures, I sew, I homeschool my kids, I fiddle with all sorts of stuff. But today, I am coming to terms with some things. I am a teacher, a photographer, a singer, a writer. Pretending like I'm not called to be all of these things is just not ok. I have so much faith in the One who is equipping me, and I can't continue to ignore His purposeful gifts. I read an interesting quote on Joyce Meyer's facebook page today. Hopefully I don't flub it up. "Stop living emotionally, and start living on purpose." Amen to that.

I hope this finds you letting go, being brave, and living on purpose :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Prop Shop: Mason Jar

Ok... So this isn't much of a tutorial, but more of a fantastically simple idea. I've done it. I know YOU can do it. I've said it before. I love props for photo sessions for all sorts of reasons. I think they bring personality and character to your photos. They give your subjects a chance to show off a part of themselves, and most importantly- they are a beautiful distraction. I cannot tell you how valuable this has been for me as a newbie. The minute I pull out my bag of tricks {and I always have one} the atmosphere changes, the guards are down, and folks feel more comfortable. Give a teenager a pretty flower to look at and then show her how amazing she looks in your camera- the rest of the shoot is a breeze. Really, it's that simple... sometimes. I also carry jelly beans for child bribery which takes care of the rest :)

So, today's suggestion?? A jar full of flowers. Say, what?! Yes. I'm so serious. Flowers are pretty by themselves, but throw them in a jar and they take on a life of their own. The possibilities are endless! I did this shoot a month or so ago- engagement photos for some friends. When she told me she'd be sporting red shoes I flipped out a little. I had been hoarding tons of ideas for red props.

What you are looking at is an old canning jar out of my pantry, with a piece of baling wire wrapped and twisted into a heart as a handle, and a $5 Wal-Mart bouquet of flowers, trimmed with twine. It's that easy. This turned out to be my absolute favorite shot- the way the tiny heart is peeking around their intertwined fingers... aagghhh, I LOVE it!!

Fun thought of the day... maybe those things that you wish you could do, but keep convincing yourself that you can't- maybe you're making too much out of them. Maybe it's as simple as putting yourself out there and throwing some flowers in a jar. 
I hope this finds you trying something new, putting your own creative spin on it, and surprising the pants off of yourself. Happy Friday :) 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

super me

I am so happy to be the mother of three wildy imaginative boys. I spend countless moments listening to their retelling of dreams and made up stories. I watch from behind the door frame while they play and pretend and I LOVE it. There is something that comes alive in children when they are free to imagine things. I remember how incredibly liberating it was as a kid, to escape to a world where I could be anyone or anything I wanted. I wasn't hindered by money or circumstance or my own insecurities. I think that God-given imagination is where dreams are born. I was a dreamer. I am a dreamer. Even at 32, I daydream and imagine things all the time. Sure, my dreams are less about unicorns and prince charmings, and more about walking in freedom and wholeness, but it all stems from the same thing. There is a place in all of us, that cries out to be the very best that we can be, even to a wild end. And as I get older, I realize more and more that there is a resounding theme to all of this. It's not so much about super powers and make believe, or even what I can do if I work hard enough- it's all about Jesus. The moment we encounter Jesus, we realize that He is the only one that can make these things a reality. And I'm not talking about a goofy Christian-life-is-an-easy-life mentality. If anyone ever told you that, they were lying :) I'm talking about the reality of God's hand on every part of our lives, and how that translates to greatness. The more I give over to Him, the more He gives back to me- whole, made over, thriving, SUPER. Sort of has a Philippians 4:13 ring to it, doesn't it? I can do anything. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

big arms= big hugs.

I have to get back into the swing of writing. Vacation ruined me.

Today can be summed up in just a few thoughts. This may sound silly to some of you, but I'm just being honest. No matter what my day holds- good bad or ugly- sinking into fresh clean sheets can set the world right again. I slip into bed and forget everything that ails me. And if the day was particularly brutal, then I pull the sheets up over my head and breathe in the tent-like goodness. It's sort of like comfort food for my brain. I can't let myself believe I'm the only one that feels this way about Gain-scented cotton.

No Gain? No soft cotton sheets? No worries. I'll do you one better. No matter what my day holds- good bad or ugly- sinking into the arms of my Jesus can set the world right again. He puts my crinkly sheets to shame with the way He swoops in and makes all of this make sense.

Hope this finds you doing just that, sinking, clinging, thanking, loving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm Going Home

I have been away for some time now. A week and a half exactly if you're being literal. But maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm talking about the way I got *away* from the plan, the vision, the goal. Away in my mind. Away in my heart.

I just spent a super refreshing week in Texas and four-ish days in the Smoky Mountains. Am I sad to see it end so quickly? Sure! But mostly I'm just chomping at the bit to get home. Vacation always starts to make me crazy by the time it's over. I start thinking about what's waiting for me at home. I have big plans for my flowerbeds, and the pile of fabric in my craft space is begging to be made into something amazing. Oh, and pictures. I have something like 4 or 5 family shoots to do.

But on the heart front, it's God plans that I can't get out of my mind. I was gently reminded this week- several times- of the way my Dad called us and carefully placed us where we are. I was refocused and nudged to get out there and DO something. Somewhere I had adopted the mentality that if He set it in motion that I could sort of coast through- like hopping on God's bandwagon and taking a ride should be enough. I grabbed at the edge of Jesus' cloak and laid down. He's had to drag me through this move. Technically I've been going along with what He's doing. But I've been hitting my head along the way- getting the sense knocked back into me every.single.time. It's painful. Imagine where we'd be if I had grabbed His cloak and ran behind Him. I would have seen what He sees, jumped over the rocky spots, and been a help rather than a hinderance. Yes, folks. I hate to admit it, but I was slowing things down. I am so sorry for that.

They say 'home is where the heart is.' I am setting my heart on things above and soaking up God's presence in the center of His will.

It's good be home :)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Food for thought

I am coming out of a week of pure amazingness in Texas. It's no secret that I love soaking up the sun at the beach and filling my belly with legit Mexican food. This trip was of a distinctly different flavor though.

I drove to my old stomping grounds with high expectations. I needed to hear things from God's heart. I needed some tangible lessons to take home. My Dad never disappoints. (not talking about a person here)

This is what is racing through my mind and heart today- sacrifice. More importantly, obedience and sacrifice and the way they work together. I believe our move to Virginia was largely in part an issue of obedience. The church touts "Obedience is better than sacrifice" as an excuse. It's true, God desires my obedience more than He desires a sacrifice of MY choosing. But when I hear those words I hear His heart differently, paraphrased. Cheerful obedience is better than a sacrifice given begrudgingly. Ouch. More often than not, obedience is a sacrifice. Will you obey with a smile, simply soaking up the sacrifice as a point of growth? Or will obedience be secondary to the sacrifice that you are "bearing" for all the world to see? Yup. I said it. I want to be outwardly obedient and inwardly sacrificial.

How's that for soul food?

Friday, June 22, 2012

32 today.

Today is my 32nd birthday. I'd love to say that I have some amazing life tidbits to share, or even some wisdom to impart, but I can't think of any right now. I've got my eye on the prize. Texas.

We are on a road trip to visit the friends and family that we moved away from almost a year ago. We are making the 20-ish hour trek from Virginia in a car full of luggage, guitars, and boys. It's fun and exciting and crazy. The are-we-there-yets have already started and we're just 3 hours in.

So, fancy wisdom? I'm fresh out. What I can share though is an interesting observation, a realtime glimpse into my world.

I am sitting in the passenger seat, with a camera around my neck. I am determined to take some great pics chronicling our trip. And I just made a funny discovery. My hubby and I look at the world through completely different lenses. Yeah, I probably already knew it, but today it's striking me as wildly hilarious. For the past 3 hours he's been prodding me to take pictures of city skylines and architectural awesomeness. And I can't stop taking pictures of the clouds. Yes, clouds. I'm still a dreamer.

For the record, I love that we see things so differently, because that's why we make sense. Without each other he'd be missing everything up there and I'd be missing everything down here.

Just a few miles back, Justin relented to the fact that I was more interested in the sky and pointed out a beautiful shot. I was busy typing away and had put the lens cap on. As I struggled to get my camera situated, quietly scolding myself under my breath for not being ready, he said "You're about as ready as a fifth grader getting married." To which I laughed hysterically.

Happy Friday, y'all :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

claim and conquer and all that jazz

Today I conquered THIS.

What you can't see is the depth of this pile, the way it covers the massivity of our king size bed. We affectionately call it Laundry Mountain. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that this is a recurring problem in our house. I don't mind the washing, or the folding, or the putting away of clean clothes. It's when you put them all together that my brain instantly turns to mush and I am ruined. This sort of snuck up on me this week, it doesn't take long in a house of five. But today I had to buckle down and get it under control.

I wish I were a graphics genius, because I would have worked some magic on this photo and added a tiny version of myself scaling this beast. Instead, you'll have to use your imagination. Just picture me there, somewhere around my favorite yellow shorts, climbing with all my might, throwing my arm up over the edge, planting a flagpole right on top. Only, this isn't an American flag or even a flag bearing the Blankenship family crest, it's a white flag of surrender. And then, keep imagining tiny me, sitting proudly on the top of that crazy mountain looking out at the view, with a sweet sense of accomplishment. I climbed. I conquered. 

I know what you're thinking. You got to the part where I said 'flag of surrender' and spaced out. Isn't surrendering on the list of what-not-to-do-when-conquering?? Imagine my surprise when God started speaking to my heart about this while I was up to my ears in socks and undies. See, we're trained to think of claiming and conquering as acts of valor and bravery, and to think of surrender as the inferior option- the weaker choice. But God doesn't care what we know or think we know, His ways are so often the exact opposite of what society is spilling.

He says that you can't conquer without surrendering. The two work hand in hand. Doesn't make sense?? Sure it does. 

There isn't a thing in this world that I can conquer on my own, not without completely surrendering it to Him first. I couldn't take control of Laundry Mountain without surrendering to the truth that my own time management was to blame. I can't conquer negative attitudes without relentlessly going to Jesus and being honest about the ugliness in my heart. Surrender isn't weakness. There is strength that comes in recognizing that we are not strong outside of God's grace, His purpose, His hand directing our steps. So yeah, I scaled Laundry Mountain and threw out my flag. God, forgive me, for getting so wrapped up in my own head that I dug myself a hole, or in this case, built myself a mountain. 

I hope this finds you scaling all sorts of big things, coming out on top, and waving your white flag :)

P.S. My new 35mm lens is my fav, sweet aperture makes those blurry backgrounds that people are crazy for *wink wink*

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the art of distraction....

.... or of being distracted.

I haven't posted in a week or something close. It's not because I haven't had anything to write about or haven't been up to any amazing craftiness. I've just been incredibly busy. In my life that usually translates to undeniably distracted All.The.Time. My mom used to tell me stories of how easily distracted I was as a child. She would ask me to do something super simple, to which I whole-heartedly agreed, only to find me ten minutes later mesmerized by the TV somewhere between point A and point B. She would laugh about how hard it was to get angry because it really was just an innocent distraction. My heart was always eager to please, but my busy brain got in the way. Now, as an adult, I am constantly baffled by the very same trait in my own kids. I can hear my momma's sweet voice in my mind retelling those stories, and it diffuses whatever annoyance I have with just a sliver of resolve to train them to hone their skills :)

I learned something from my mom about distraction. Not only was she incredibly gracious to my own wandering mind, she was also relentlessly distracted by my sisters and I. We have often said that we don't remember her shewing us away so she could work, or telling us she didn't have time to play with us, or even shushing our silly childish questions. We remember her dropping everything to play. listen, answer. Being distracted isn't always a bad thing. In fact, I think some of the things society frowns upon as being time wasters, are simply the things that we should be chasing after anyway. It's become so cliche to say "stop and smell the roses," but isn't that some serious wisdom??

It's funny how losing someone can shift your thinking so quickly. Just a year and 3 months ago I lost my sweet momma. We lost her to cancer. This will probably sound strange, but I'm so grateful for the first bout of cancer that she fought and won, because it threw my sisters and I a healthy dose of reality. I think we soaked up so much life from my mother in the years after that, so many amazing memories. We became crazy distracted by her, and her life. And now that she's gone, I am crazy obsessed with the art of being distracted the way she was.  I am counting these things less as distractions and more as gentle redirects from Jesus, reminders that these are the things that really matter.

Like just now, I took a ten minute break from writing so that Jere could hold my thumbs. It didn't make or break my day, but it was awfully important in his little two year old world.

So, what have I been up to?? I've been at the farm, hauling my basket of scraps down the the creek so I can make fabric roses while the boys play. I might have spent less time flowering and more time watching, but who cares? I've been soaking up the sight of Jere's tiny camo boots and playing with the new lens on my camera (distraction courtesy of my amazing hubby) by taking pictures of my TOMS. This is the life of a happily distracted momtographer.

I hope this finds you grabbing life by the horns, getting distracted along the way, and loving every minute of it. Happy Wednesday :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prop Shop: Chalkboard

So, it's my personal opinion that props make photos better. I'm not talking giant-show-stopping props, but the ones that add to the story. Especially if they have a little personality *wink wink. And being that I've been offering my services for FREE while I learn my craft, I don't have much of a prop budget. So, I make them. I have decided to make prop tutorials a regular part of this blog. Yay for you! And for me, because it keeps my creative juices flowin. Today's tasty morsel- this paper rose chalkboard. I used it in engagement pics, but the possibilities are endless. Don't you love it?!

Ok, so here's the deal. I started with this... a pile of craft paper I saved from a package, the cardboard box ends from the same package, a can of chalkboard paint that was hiding in my craft stash, red acrylic paint (this one's obviously totally changeable- have fun with it), paintbrush or sponge brush,a little bit of twine, a hot glue gun, and a roll of duct tape (not pictured, because it wasn't planned. super mom improv right there). If you're like me, then you need a project like this every now and then to convince your skeptical husband that all the so called "trash" that you're saving for craft projects is legit. 

First, I cut my cardboard piece down to size and painted it with the chalkboard paint. (There's two pictured because I plan on making another one later, but you only need one piece for this) I think it's helpful to note that I use trash bags as drop cloths for tiny paint projects, because once the paint dries, I can still totally use them and no one is the wiser. While the paint dried, I made the roses. (I tried simultaneously gluing the roses as I shaped them. Failed. So this is where the duct tape comes in.)
After I had about 10 of these made, I started positioning them on the frame where I wanted them. And then I filled in the tiny gaps with a couple of tiny roses. (This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you need a visual, just take another peek at the finished product.)
Then... the hot glue gun. This uses loads of glue, so just get ready. I found it worked best for me to actually put the glue on the rose and then position it, not the other way around. 

Once all of my roses were glued, I just brushed on some red paint. This isn't an exact science. Actually, I loved the way it looked to just have them sort of dusted with paint. Just keep painting till you're happy with it. 
After the paint dried, which was fairly quick, I turned it over and glued a piece of twine as a hanger. I added duct tape for good measure. A malfunctioning prop halfway through the shoot is NOT how I roll. This twine totally came in handy- short enough to hide behind the frame, but long enough for the over-the-shoulder shot.

Hope this finds you making use of something useless, and dreaming up all sorts of awesomeness of your own. If you make one of these and use it in a pic, I'd love to see it!! Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

headless ninja turtle

You don't have to be at our house very long to see that it's been hijacked by rambunctious boys. Just on the walk from my room to the kitchen for my coffee this morning, I tripped over three nerf swords, one annoying race car with sound effects, and a headless ninja turtle. By the time lunch was over we had blazed through half of a loaf of bread, a pound of deli meat, and a gallon of water. I filled the dishwasher with our breakfast and lunch dishes. And the laundry... oh, the laundry. I emptied the hampers from the weekend and sorted it into 5 loads.

This is what happens when you have three sons. It is the evidence of their presence in our home and hearts.  When I go out with the boys in tow, people don't have to ask me if I'm a mom, or if I'm a mom of boys. Duh. They see it all over me and all around me. And even if I'm out by myself, which rarely happens, I don't forget the realities of my life. Atleast not for long. All it takes is a glance in the rear view mirror to see french fries shoved into the seat behind me, or a gummy bear melted into the floor mat, or the headless ninja turtle that makes appearances everywhere. When I think about who we were pre-babies, I laugh a lot. They have rocked our world.

Do you ever wonder what people see when they look at your life? The reality is this. I am more than a crazy crafter, caker, quilter, photographer. I am more than a mom and a wife, even. I am a lover of Jesus. I want His presence to ooze out of everything I do. I can't stand the thought of people hearing my life screaming anything else but Jesus, Him crucified, His freedom, His redemption. I want my actions, my attitudes, my everything, to be the evidence of His presence in my home and heart. When I think about who I was pre-Jesus, I laugh even more. And then I cry, real tears are the overflow of my grateful heart. He has rocked my world.

I hope this finds you thinking about what you're oozing. Happy Tuesday.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend Update: Cake, Car, Crazy Cute...

Whoa. This weekend was a doozie. A wedding. A barbecue. A birthday. I am pooped. For the sake of being true to posting on a somewhat regular basis, I will just make today a post dedicated to our tiny person. He turned 2 yesterday. Honestly, I just want to go park it on the couch next to my man. But I think these tell a story. Pictures are great.



Crazy Cute.

I hope this finds you bouncing back from your weekend :)

P.S. Coming this week.... a prop tutorial, and what NOT to do when you want to take some pics in low light!

Friday, June 8, 2012

operation: get prepared.

This is for all of the people out there trying to pretend they have it all together, while everything seems to be telling a different story. This is for me. This is for you.

I have been having a week full of preparation fails. Do you know what I'm talking about? I'm trying to do the right thing, be wise and all that jazz. I'm trying to anticipate what's coming and intercept it with my awesome skills. But I'm coming face to face with a harsh truth. As the number of children under my care increases, so does my capacity to love them (and everyone said Awwwwww.) What's unfortunate is that my ability to do anything else seems to be exponentially decreasing. Can I get an amen? I'm finding that making "mental notes" is for the birds. I've changed too many diapers and slept too few hours to actually keep track of things on brain power alone. I am that girl, the one that walks away and straight forgets what I just mentally promised myself not to. Blah.

Monday: I took photos of some friends, and I was prepared. Well, I thought I was. I came with all sorts of coordinating props, totally had a PLAN. And then, after our long ascent to the top of the hay field, I realized I'd completely forgotten my book of ideas and had to try and remember them. Boo :/ Two hundred plus pictures later, we were all smiles, until I got home and realized that I hadn't checked my settings and shot all of them in JPEG. Boo. Again.
Tuesday: I spent the entire day playing with photos and mapping out blog posts while the laundry and dishes reached towering heights. Fail.
Wednesday: I kicked it in gear. I woke up, spent time with Jesus, and whipped this house back into shape. I'm talking clean bathrooms, clean laundry, folded laundry, and zero dishes. WIN.
Thursday: I played all morning with a blog post that I never finished, and then got too busy to post. I went and picked up my model and headed to the farm for more pics. I neglected to get all of the directions I needed, so I spent 10 minutes parked on a country road, then drove up a private drive and parked in front of a house for another 20 minutes that was not the right one. Fail. Jump past a successful afternoon and sweet dinner with my family. While making said dinner, something caused a chicken juice overflow in the oven and I made one of my infamous "mental notes" to clean it after the oven cooled down.
Friday/ Today: I spruced up the house with a little pick up action before I started on my little guy's fancy birthday cake. Guess what I found? Oh yeah, that scorched chicken juice that I whole-heartedly meant to clean up last night. Fail. Now, I'm sitting, waiting on my hubs to get home so I can go to the store to pick up the items that I need for this cake, the items that I forgot to put on the list. What's wrong with my brain?!

What I neglected to offer in this timeline is the fact that somewhere in there I committed my Saturday to take pictures of a wedding and then rush off to a barbecue, all on the day before my sweet boy turns two. I forgot to plan him any sort of party, not that he'll really care. But I care. Now I'm rushing around to squeeze in birthday cake construction among all of our other weekend activities, so that we can at least do cake and ice cream for him Sunday. Preparation Fail.

Do you ever find yourself in these sorts of self-inflicted predicaments? It's ok. You're in good company. Today, in the midst of my retelling and reliving of all the goofy mistakes I made this week, I keep returning to this. Proverbs 16:9 (this version from the Message) We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it. Isn't that the truth?? Aside from healthier eating habits, more water, and more brain food, I NEED JESUS. With all my planning and good intentions and the subsequent flubbing up, I have to remember that I am just in need of grace and guidance. I can make all the plans in the world, but if I'm counting on myself to make it happen, it won't. I'll forget. I'll come up short every.single.time. All the brain food in the world can't change that. I need God's hand to be all over everything that I do.

I hope this finds you making plans and looking to Jesus :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

churched. by Heinz.

Do you remember the Heinz campaign from the 80s? Good things come to those who wait. Fancy fact for today- Matt LeBlanc from Friends actually starred in one of those! You Tube it. Anyway, that's what's on my mind today. Waiting. And good things. If you're reading this as a photographer, by any definition, then you probably know where I'm going with this. I take sooooo many photos trying to get that one amazing picture.

Like this one for instance. I took 249 photos of Linz just for THIS :)

I almost missed it. I didn't even realize I'd taken this photo until I got to editing.

Isn't that just like some of life's most magical moments? It happens to me all the time. I get really close to missing the great stuff, because I'm just not paying attention. I'm clickin' through life unaware of the awesomeness around me. I've gotta stop and look around sometimes! That's the trouble with waiting, isn't it? Waiting is tough. They say good things come to those who wait. It doesn't say good things come to those who are waiting. Ha. That's a bit of a buzz kill. I'm  in a season of waiting. And I am believing for the good things that come out of it.

My hubs and I are youth pastors in a small town. We are waiting for God to get crazy up in here. We are waiting for the Holy Spirit to stir hearts. We are waiting for what's next. It feels like we've been waiting forever already. In worship tonight we sang these words "And I will not forget, I won't forget Your promises." Then it hit me like a brick to the gut. That's the trouble with waiting, it's the forgetting that's the trouble. If you're like me, and find yourself waiting, begrudgingly, then maybe... just maybe, you're forgetting something.

I hope this finds you soaking up life's magical moments, waiting for good things, and not forgetting.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

simple things.

There are days when I get overwhelmed with little things. That's easy to do, but silly. It's the little details that make life amazing and it's the simple things that can make it miserable too. A while back I made a poor attempt at reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. I failed. I'm no book critic, but the writing was a bit much for me. There's a part of me that longs to live in hipster awesomeness. I want to be trendy and cool and speak in poetic awesomeness all the time. But if I have to read a sentence or a paragraph four times to make sure I got it, then I'm probably missing the point. Bearing that in mind, I did glean some sweet wisdom from the perspective in this book. Being grateful for the simplest tiniest things in your life can make a world of difference, give you new perspective, yada yada yada. I got hung up on one paragraph in particular where she was talking about the way the sun glistened off of the soap suds as she washed dishes by hand. I have never looked at something as mundane as dishes and had such a beautiful thought. It was sort of inspiring. It sort of spoke to my heart in a wow-that's-kind-of-weird-and-cool-at-the-same-time kind of way.

I do love to focus on details, on the tiniest things that will be forgotten in a moment. I love to relish them for what the are- precious tiny elements of a larger, more moving purpose, a memory. Like the way my boys' jean pockets are always full of rocks. Or the look on my Jere's face when he jumps on the trampoline. I could get super annoyed that my Matthew is only happy in his special socks and his rubber boots, sure. But gosh, I'd much rather just soak all of it up, for the boyish goodness that it is.

I had the privilege of taking some pics of one of my sweet prego friends and her adorable family. I found myself hung up on the details. I think it made the whole shoot more special.

Isn't that how we should look at life? I never want to be so caught up in the big picture that I completely miss the small things that work together to get us there. I never want to resent small beginnings. But then again, I guess the same could be said for being too detail-oriented. After all, a bunch of pictures of baby shoes wouldn't do much for anybody, would it?

I hope this finds you enjoying the little stuff for what it is, small precious glimpses of the greatness to come.

Monday, June 4, 2012

weekend update. second chances.

When I started blogging again I did it with the intention of sort of logging my journey as a photographer. I wanted to show you the transformation, and I guess I wanted to be able to physically "see" it as well. I've realized, pretty quickly into it, that this is more than that. I promise not to abandon my roots here, and I'll stay true to what I set out to do. But man oh man, there's so much nonsense that Jesus is working out in me every day. I think you're supposed to see that too. How embarrassing for me :/

This weekend was nothing short of crazy gorgeous. I'm from Texas, where the sweltering heat starts before summer and lasts into fall. Virginia is so mind-boggling to me. A few days into June and I've been wearing a cardigan because the night air is so cool. It's weird. So what did I do with my two days of breezy amazingness?? Spent them inside with an attitude that was lacking a lot of Holy Spirit goodness and brimming with selfish ugly ooze. Ouch. You see, somewhere in the last couple of months I decided I didn't like it here, and started sabotaging my own life. Have you ever been there? My husband, who is sometimes more rough around the edges with his delivery than I'd like, basically told me to stop complaining or stop talking altogether. I'm not gonna lie, I found it incredibly irritating. I quickly punished him with a 5 minute silent treatment, mostly because he told me that he didn't believe I'd be able to do it. And then, ohhhhhhh then, my heart started aching. I spend a lot of time in God's presence, asking Him to weed out such instances. And when that ugliness makes an appearance, it's always heart-breaking. Luckily, this was Saturday morning, and I had some time to redeem the weekend- GRACE :)

Some time with my Bible, some time with my Father, and then a lovely evening and afternoon with my men. And Sunday, shew, it was a really good day. I got some very specific answers on some things that I've been bringing to Jesus daily, and that's always a cause for celebration. In the midst of all of it, I did a crafty update- a very timely one. Something old, given new life, new perspective, a little... personality. 

BEFORE. This chair was in one of the barns at my mom-in-law's farm. I climbed into that dark, dusty hole and fished her out. I looked at this chair and saw all sorts of potential.

First I cut away the old seat- it was super sketch. I wiped it down really well, and then did a red paint "wash" on it. I just mixed a little water with some acrylic paint to bring a little life to the red that was already there. I feel like I should stress that this is a prop, so I'm not expecting this paint job to hold up to harsh elements. In fact, I'd love for it not to. Personality.

Then I parked it in front of the TV where my man was watching golf, and settled into cutting 2 inch strips of fabric for the seat. You can find the tutorial for a scrap fabric woven seat here. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the fabrics chosen, except that I wanted lots of color and approached it sort of like I would a crazy scrap quilt. According to the tutorial, she used 12 strips. I used 14. 

Here's where I started to freak out a little. After weaving the opposite direction, the bottom of the chair became a mess of strips and knots and aaaaggghhhh... but I just kept working anyway. I was pretty confident it would work out in the end.

Bam. AFTER. I heart this. 

Truth is, I needed this perspective. I needed the ultimate Authority on creativity to take a look at me and see all sorts of potential. I needed Him to fish me out of the dark, dusty hole I had been digging for myself. And I needed Him to refresh, repurpose, renew. I needed a second chance. Whether you're on your first, second, third... or whatever chance, I hope this finds you bracing for grace and embracing God's purposes in your everyday.

Friday, June 1, 2012

RAW is better.

My day started with me racing to the door to greet the mail only to realize I'd busted a hole in the crotch of my skinny jeans while pouring myself into them this morning. I've felt sort of off my game ever since. Too much? Maybe. Just keepin' it real. Life isn't all peaches and roses, and I think you've got to be honest about it sometimes. More importantly, you have to laugh about it. I did. And then I changed my pants.

Ever get tired of putting on that face? I do. I get tired of pretending that I've got it all together or that I'm ok with the fact that I don't. Every once in a while I freak out. Raw emotion. Love it or hate it, it's emotion in it's purest form. We've all been crazy angry and sputtered out words we would have otherwise kept under wraps. (I'm not talking about ugly overflows of the heart here, but just honest feelings) We've sobbed in response to something seemingly small, just because we were so delicately teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely a fan of restraint and not a fan of being led by our emotions. But that's another post entirely :) I like raw emotion because it's real. Fake people, fake emotions, fake interactions- blah. I have a relationship with a real God. He sees my emotions for what they are, and loves me in spite of all that I really am. He knows me in the raw. Shew. I am so wrapped up in His grace. It's where I always have to return whenever life smacks me in the face with a reality check. I'm so grateful for that!

As I discover my photography style, I am finding that I'm drawn to capturing real moments full of raw emotion. I have a hard time with posed photos with cheesy smiles. I love a pic where everyone's smiling just as much as the next guy, I'm just not any good at capturing them. Those aren't the photos I get crazy for- I am so in love with candid shots. I'm not talking about the one where you're turning your head, growling, and your eyes look like they're rolling back into your head. Everyone hates those. I'm talking about pictures that tell a story. Whoever said that a picture is worth a thousand words was spot on. It's not so much about a picture being more important than a story, or more valuable than a verbal recollection. I think it's more about the things that we don't say. A candid photo, taken at just the right moment, says things that go unsaid in day to day life.

I hope this finds you being you, being real, RAW.

my boy, in the raw. i want to bottle that cackle and listen to it when i'm 100.

P.S. In case you were wondering, I do shoot RAW. This isn't because I'm going all photog snob on ya. It actually boils down to a simple choice. I want to decide what stays and what goes in editing. I don't trust that my camera knows best. And I certainly can't depend on myself to get all my settings right ;)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

water-wha??? oh, yeah, riiiiiiiiight.

Yesterday I told you I'd post some early pics today. I lied. Instead of scouring through all of the albums I've created in the last 6 months, I spent hours creating a watermark. Seriously. You know that cool logo thingy that fancy photographers have on their photos so no one swipes them? Yes, folks. I decided to make myself official. I wasted the better part of my day trying to make something trendy and true to who I am. And because I know that you'll be anxious to see the fruits of my labor, I'm posting a picture of my tiniest little person sporting said watermark.

To be fair, you should know that I'm not the most techno-savvy individual and that's probably why it took me so long to finish. In fact, as self-sufficient as I pretend to be, I count on my man to update my itunes library and fix all my computer issues. I was a much more capable female before I got married. I'm willing to admit it, and own it. You should be too.

This brings me to my photography tip of the day. If you're not into snapping photos, don't stop reading. It's been my experience that Jesus teaches me things through my hobbies. This one sort of bleeds into everything. Wait for it.... 

It's ok to need somebody. 

Whew. That was almost painful to type because it goes against everything I've believed about myself for so long! In a society that says we are supposed to stand on our own, especially as women, it's tough to sort out the truth from the lies sometimes. I'm embracing the inevitable and asking for help with my photography- constructive criticism, mentorship, and plain ole' down home advice. I've been doing the same thing with life in general, trying to let people into my world, lean on them, trust them. It's not nearly as difficult as it sounds. It's actually sort of refreshing, that moment when you reconcile that it's ok not to be perfect and have everything figured out as long as you're moving in the right direction. And let's face it, it's so much more fun to travel in packs. 

If you're looking to put together your own snazzy watermark, I found this tutorial to be super helpful. I hope this finds you reaching out.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

a budding photog.

I made a discovery this week. Well, maybe before giving you details on that, I should first give a back story. Several months ago we purchased a Nikon DSLR. I'd be lying if I said I aspired to do anything with it except take sweet pics of my quilts. Lame reason to buy a fancy camera?? Yup. But alas, I'm all about honesty. I follow all these blogs with quilts draped over fences or hanging on barns or nonchalantly positioned near a field of poppies. I love poppies.

So, my first real experience with this camera was when my Dad and my stepmom came to visit in December. I took loads of pictures of them on the farm. It's easy to take amazing pictures on an amazing farm. Then I put the camera away. I pulled it out every once in a while, snapping photos of my crazy cute kids doing what they do best- being rambunctious little boys. And then, I put the camera away, again.

I went to Texas in April for a two week visit. While I was there, something crazy happened. One of my photog friends made a comment to me, saying that she saw the pictures I'd been taking and they were "really good." I laughed. And then, my mind went crazy. Isn't it funny, how powerful words are?? Sweet Jennifer, she had no idea the can of worms she was opening for me with those kind words. Or maybe she did :)

I came home and immediately began obsessing about taking pictures of my kids. We held our first photo shoot on the farm in April. I've dabbled since then, taking every chance to take pics and every single willing model to let me "practice" on them. I now spend hours editing photos a few times a week and I live and breathe PROPS. Ugh. I think of everything as a photo op. It's really odd.

And this brings me to my discovery. I happened upon an article on a photography forum talking about "momtographers." Ha. I am a momtographer!! It's a bittersweet discovery, as this article was defending them, because of the ridiculous haters out there writing articles about how bad we are for the photography business. There was much ado about undercutting "real" photogs with cheap prices, and about inexperience, and about their lack of professionalism.

So. I have a new mission of sorts. I am a momtographer. I am proud of it. I am growing and learning and getting better with every photo that I take. I want to log this journey for every other mom out there that doesn't think she can learn something this late in the game. And... I'll probably throw in a few crafty projects too. This is how I roll folks. I learn by doing. I learn by making mistakes. And I never regret it!! Tomorrow I'll post a few of my early photos. And later this week I'll post some of my more recent stuff. I pray this inspires and encourages. That's why we do what we do, right? Peace out, y'all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I blinked. And 6 months flew by.... I think an update is in order. I will have to sit down and pour out my heart tomorrow, because today's free time was all used up "playing" with my Etsy shop, laboring over making a banner that looks halfway decent and fits into their 760px by 100px space. It is beyond me.
Long story short, I feel God stirring big things in me, big things in my family, big things in this community. And it starts with Matthew 25 and the parable of the 5 wise virgins. I can't get it out of my mind and heart. Lord, don't let me be found foolish.