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Greer Family 2014


I had such a great time shooting for this family, these kids were amazing.  When Rebekah first connected with me, she mentioned that her kids were creative and into learning new things.  Then she went on to say that they'd taught themselves to play the ukulele, write novels, and love to longboard.  Um, awesome!? I couldn't wait to meet them and spend some time together.  This was an especially important moment for Rebekah and Kevin as they were preparing to send their oldest son, Wes, off to college this fall.  It was an honor to capture some of the sweeter moments with this family, as well as finding moments where the kids could be, well, themselves, in front of the lens.  What a super fun evening, complete with lots of laughter and candid memories forever held still in these photographs.  Here are a few highlights from our shoot:

fill the well


Here is the thing, friends, I have shown up to the page so often over the last few weeks, only to allow fear and anxiety to push me back up out of my chair and away from the keyboard.  I must have things to spill, life to be shared, truths that I've learned that I want to pass on, and yet when I attempt to, I find myself empty and unable to put anything out there.  Why is this?

I've asked myself this question a lot lately, and what continues to circle like a scavenging bird above my head is this phrase, "Fill the well."  Fill. The. Well.  I have been running on empty from place to place, person to person, thing to thing.  I haven't stopped to fill back up.  And I become a terrible version of myself when this is the case.  I'm running ragged, barely caring for myself enough to drag a brush through my hair and considering it a miracle to have finished a load of laundry that includes enough clean clothes to cover me for the week.

With all of the changes we've encountered these past few weeks (the move, Emerson's new school, major schedule adjustments) I've made it my job to make sure the kids feel normal as quickly as possible.  That is good and worthy work, but it's come at the expense of losing myself a little bit in the midst of it all.  And if I'm honest, these most recent life experiences are simply the latest in a series of events called Life.  Life is messy. Life keeps us on our toes.  Life evolves day after day, year after year, refusing to let us settle too deep into a routine.

There is always something that needs our attention, our time, and our energy.  Some of these things are good and worthy like our people and our work, but others are there to suck our energy while giving us nothing in return - like a diagnosis or a conflict we're facing.  Sometimes there is one large obvious crisis we can point to and blame for our weariness, but often its just a mountain of tiny things that have slowly and silently stolen our joy.  I think there are many who struggle with filling the well.  Some of us are parents, some of us are students, pastors, painters, writers, homemakers, CEOs, small business owners - the reality is that no one is immune to this danger.

My favorite artist/writer/friend (she is my friend, in my head - she just doesn't know it yet) is Julia Cameron.  Her book, The Artist's Way, changed my life many years ago.  I recently acquired her new book, The Artist's Way for Parents, and though I'm only a few chapters into it (I HAVE NO TIME, people!  This is the issue at hand!)  ...Anyway, I assumed we would dive deep into how to make sure the kids I'm raising are borne of a vivid and rich creative environment, complete with plenty of opportunities to paint and be messy and write imaginative stories.  I think that part might be coming soon, but she starts this book off by going for the parenting jugular: Self-Care or rather, our lack of it.  She begins her book by asking us parents to be generous, with ourselves.

What I love about my bestie Julia is that she breaks down this impassible, terrifying Mountain of Self-Care and instead tumbles a tiny stone of possibility around in her palm.  She makes care feel possible.  I can get so far from myself in an attempt to "BE ENOUGH" for others, but she reminds me to take 15 minutes and walk around the block alone.  Alone alone.  No little people tagging along.  No phones.  Nothing but me, myself, and I.  Gosh, how often do I do that?  (Answer: hardly ever.)  And yet, when I do, I discover it does wonders for my soul.

There are more things like that I can be doing, little things, accessible things, that have the power to fill up my well.  This week, I am leaning into doing more of them.  Because you know what?  I cannot be a great loving creative and generous person if I'm not being those things to myself, first.

Perhaps you are feeling a bit rundown and maybe, just perhaps, you feel you don't have an ounce of kindness left to give.  It might be that you, like me, are feeling like every bit of goodness and fun and joy has been used up and the well is very, very empty.  I know that feeling.  And, it's okay.  Because there is good news I was so recently reminded of that I will share with you... the well can be filled up.  And, it really doesn't take much.  Give yourself 15 minutes today, just ---- try this with me, okay?  Fifteen minutes of generosity for you and you alone.  Take a walk.  Take a bath.  Hideout in the bedroom with the door closed and read a chapter of your new book.  No interruptions.  Just kindness.

Here's to filling the well!

dear emerson: first grade


This season feels oddly familiar as we are simultaneously preparing for last minute transfer to a new school and packing up a house to move.  Last year we were moving into a smaller, more economical town home with hopes to save for a home we could call our very own.  In that season, you began Kindergarten in a tiny village elementary tucked away in a darling old neighborhood.  Little did we know then that your year there would hold such precious memories.

Within the span of a year you discovered both the joys and the pains of being a big brother to an independent and fearless baby sister.  You navigated the struggle of sharing and developed the art of patience at not always getting things your way.  You also learned to cope with anxiety and doubt as you walked bravely into your classroom filled with new children and a new teacher.  You found your friends, you expanded your confidence, and you found your voice.  Last year was a milestone that paved the way for the path ahead.  

This year, right around the same time, we are once again packing up our belongings and preparing to resettle.  This time we are moving our family into a new neighborhood and into our very own home.  All the while we are also preparing to begin your year of First Grade at a new elementary, once again filled with new children and a new teacher.  I can tell you are unsure of how this will all play out for you.  I can tell that you are nervous, and that you miss your old friends, and especially your old teacher.  I know this change is calling out your natural tendency for worry and fear.  As your mama I can sense that you are uneasy.  I wish I could ease that anxiety for you, my son.  I too struggle with it even now as an adult and if there was a way to remove that element from your life story, I would.  But I can't.  So all I'm left with is the things I've learned along the way. I'm not sure I can offer you wisdom, but I do have my story and all that I've collected and I want to give you everything I can to help ease the struggle. And yet ---

Even as I type that, I can sense that it's something I need to let go of.  Because it is not my job to ease your struggle.  Who is to say that your struggle isn't in fact good and important and necessary?  As your mom of course I want to do everything I can to remove pain and ache from your path - but wisdom whispers to my heart that that is not my job.  My job is to love you.  To love you purely and selflessly and wholly and unconditionally.  I get the honor and the privilege of loving you - you bright and wondrous spirit, you.  My boy - you are full of light.  You are tender and unsure of yourself until the moment comes when the room needs your voice.  Over this past year I have seen you come into yourself more than ever - I watched you love and give and raise a holy ruckus over the stories of your friends in Ghana.  I watched your heart for our local church grow and deepen.  I saw an appreciation for your faith heritage expand into your awareness like never before.  So much of my parenting you is simply letting my love for you flow and just getting out of the way so that you can fill up the space you were meant to fill up.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.  

I know you are uneasy about beginning again at a new school.  I know you will feel nervous as you walk up to that new playground, spilling over with kids who have lived and played together for years.  I know how it will feel to be unknown, unneeded, and different.  I pray every single moment I can for one, Lord I'm not greedy just give us one, one true good friend who truly "gets" you.  One kid who takes the time to really see you, who speaks your quirky imaginative spirit language and who can befriend you and make this year one of joy and laughter and inside jokes.  And I pray for your teacher, that he or she is kind and patient and also able to really see you for you.  You want so desperately to please and you are so hard on yourself when you don't do it perfectly the first time.  And so I also pray for grace.  

Sweet boy, I pray you learn to give yourself grace even now, at age six, because oh my what a gift that will be to your growing and future self.  Learn to love your glorious holy messy brilliant self now and save yourself the heartache of figuring it out later in life.  Grace and love. Grace and love. It is the mantra of our hearts for you, my boy.  Because you are not the one we worry about when it comes to making good choices.  You are our rule-follower.  You want to do it right.  And - you are the one we want to color outside the lines, to get a little messy, to learn to embrace the failures that will come and the lessons they provide.  

And so, first grade is at hand.  It will be full of your greatest challenges: there are fears to be faced, mountains to be climbed, stories to be discovered, and (with grace and love) new friendships to be forged.  May God be with you, young Skywalker.  Daddy and I know you have what it takes.


Eiland Family // Expecting


Friends, meet Delwin and Ashlee, two of the most inspiring and devoted newly weds just, well, ever.  These two are so precious in their love for one another, they can't even look at each other without bursting into smiles.  And when they got in touch with me to take some photos, they had a very special reason.  They wanted a creative way to share with their friends and family that they were expecting a little Eiland!  Talk about FUN!  I was thrilled to shoot for them and capture some of the love and excitement of this season on camera.  The sun came out to play and the wildflowers were everywhere, the hardest part of the entire experience was keeping their secret quiet until they were ready to share it.

Well, Eiland family, you know I am just thrilled for you both.  Your baby (girl!) is going to grow up with such a breathtaking example of love and faith and joy in the two of you, I know she will be blessed.  May she be full of confidence, securely marching forward in her unique goodness as you raise her to know who she is, why she is, and all the amazing things she is capable of.  May you both be brought closer together as you jump into the beautiful challenge of parenting well.  You will fall so in love with one another on a whole new level as you watch each other change diapers and sing middle of the night lullabies and swaddle up your daughter again and again and again.  It is such a sweet and fleeting season, that newborn time.  I pray it slows down enough that you can take it in and hold it in your memory forever.  And - just wait til you smell her head - baby newborns smell just like heaven.  Heaven, and cupcakes. Mmmmm!

tell your stories: a preview


Earlier this week I got to shoot some photos of my friend Joy for the Tell Your Stories art project I'm working on.  Our friend Melissa opened her gorgeous home to us and we had so much fun setting up the heart of the project and playing in the dreamy light.  All of it left me very very inspired for the line of story I want to travel for this new series.  I can't wait to share it with you!  For now, I am working on editing and planning but just had to share a few of these shots with you.  I mean - isn't she lovely?!

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