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Friday, February 28, 2014

Family Newborn Photography ~ Milford, NH

I love when I get to meet families that remind me of my own.
The Crowley's just welcomed their second little boy to the family, and I personally think there is nothing better than a house full of boys!

Even though sweet baby Oliver pretty much wanted to eat the whole time, we managed to get him asleep for a little while!

Here are a few of my favorite from our session.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

When you feel alone

Isn't it the strangest feeling to feel totally and completely alone? 
And I don't mean physically alone.
That's the strange part about it...

I think the times we feel the most alone 
is when we are surrounded by the most people.

I know that I am loved.
But that does not take away the times that I feel completely and utterly alone.

Alone in my way of thinking.
Alone in my view on life.
Alone in my likes.
Alone in my dislikes.

I think we all have times like this.
And I think it is a trap to get us discontented, down on ourselves, unsatisfied, and desperate.

I was recently talking to a friend of mine about some of the ways I feel alone.
I can feel like people want to go out with me one-on-one, but when it comes to the times when they want to have a really good time?
They want their real friends.

I remember feeling this way pretty strongly when I was with a group of women, and I thought I was pretty good friends with some of them.
But what I didn't take into consideration, was that there were also other women there who were...better than me?
Or...more interesting to talk to.
So it left me feeling like the outcast.
It left me feeling like I will never be "big time" enough to fit in with them.

Now, to be clear. No one ever said that to me.
It is just how I was feeling.

And that's when it hit me.

We all perceive people to be things that they very well may. not. be.
I can look at any given person, and make my judgment on who they are based on the way they come across, and that is just plain totally unfair.
What if they are having a bad day?
What if they are the one who feels alone but doesn't know how to express it?

And so that is why I decided.
The next time I feel alone, I need to remember what the truth is.
Remember the other day? I was talking about speaking truth in your heart?
That's it.
That's kind of the answer to all of life's questions.

There is absolute truth. There is.

And those are the truths I need to be speaking to myself. 
In my heart, in my thoughts and then out loud.

Jesus will never leave me.
I am loved.
I am accepted.
I am chosen.
God fights for me.
God sings over me.
God forgives me.
God sees my tears.
God has a plan and a purpose for my life.
God is directing my steps.

This, my friend, is why Scripture memory is so vital in our lives.
Because the times I am feeling the worst? 
Those are often the times that I feel the least like reading my Bible!
And so more than ever I need all those verses I have memorized over my life to come back to my head!
To fill me up. To remind me of truth.

It is way too easy to start thinking that I am alone. 
I am not alone.
And I need to be careful not to fall into the trap of self-pity, which leads me to start becoming discontented, down on myself and unhappy.

The feeling of loneliness is a trap. Don't fall for it.
It's a trap that leads to ugly bitterness, resentment and self-pity. Where is that trap going to leave you? 
Remind yourself of truth tonight. A truth that will bring you joy, peace and contentment.

You are not alone.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Bachelor - A mockery of marriage

I do not watch the bachelor.
I need to start out by saying that.
However, last night we happened to turn the tv on just as the show was ending.
I watched as a girl said excitedly into the camera...
"I just hope I can leave this island an engaged woman!"
And then I saw the first 15 seconds of the preview of what next week would hold (and then quickly turned the channel because of the filth that was being shown) 

And I could not help but think...

This is an absolute mockery of marriage!
This is not real!

Marriage if no joke, peeps.
It is the mother of all promises.
It is a covenant.
It is day after day and year after year of hard work.
Some really great days, and some really bad days.
It is filled with some really sweet stories, and some really bad ones.
It is a decision that has to be made to think of another person as better than yourself.
 To not hold a record of another person's wrongs.
Tto endure hard times, to not be irritable, to not become bitter and to not insist on your own way.

And when marriage is carried out the way it was intended to be carried out, it is beautiful.

It has nothing to do with what a person looks like, how much money they make or how much they make you laugh.
Sure. Those can be added bonuses, but it has nothing to do with what the beauty of marriage is!

As I watched this guy look at a couple of girls bodies (let's just call it for what it clearly is) and I watched a couple of girls acting as if this was everything they dreamed it would be...It honestly made me kind of nauseous. 

It made me think of the last 14 years of my life.
And what those years looked like without an all expenses paid trip to St. Lucia, without make up artists surrounding me, cameras in my face and celebrity status.
It made me think of what marriage really is.

It is a relationship that has gone through some rough days.
Some days of feeling totally sorry for myself, and feeling like Adam just didn't care.
It is a relationship that has gone through some amazing days. Days of feeling like I have the best life in the entire world and a husband who is the best man on the planet.

And the reality of it all is just that...
It is a reality.
Not a reality show.
Do you see the irony in what we call these shows?
What the bachelor is blaring into the homes of America is not reality, people.
Not by a long shot.
I wish that we would stop portraying important aspects of our lives like
as something that comes and goes.
As something that you do just because you think someone it sounds like fun, or makes you look good.
As something that works when you take one beautiful, skinny, rich person and pair them with another beautiful, skinny rich person.
Ugh. If you're gonna do a show like that, can the end result not be marriage?
I mean, call it something else!

A good marriage is a selfless marriage.
A good marriage is a loving marriage.
A good marriage is a self-sacrificing marriage.

It's never all about me and my needs.
It is always all about my husband and all his needs.
It is not 50/50.
It is 100/100.

When I give everything in me to serve, please and love my husband...
and he gives everything in him to serve, please and love me - that is when we have a good, solid marriage.

Let's be teaching our kids what marriage really is.
When 2 people are so focused on pleasing God that the only obvious response is loving their husband or wife with an unconditional love...
That is what marriage should look like.

Sorry ABC. You have it all, all totally wrong.
A happy marriage is a Godly marriage.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Family Lifestyle Photography ~ Gray, Maine

Lifestyle photography is where it's at.
I seriously just love the whole entire concept of it.

It is trying to capture and remember where your life is right now...
Exactly the way you see it every day.
Not posed.
No fake smiles.

Just a day in your life.
A day with your kids.
A day at home.

This lifestyle session was filled with baby bottles, toddler toys, and lots of running around!
If you want to see a what a session looks like with an older family, you can check out one that I did here.

I loved having the chance to spend a few hours with this awesome family a couple Saturdays ago.
Their house was filled with natural light, and the kids were so fun to hang out with!

Thank you so much Christin and Jonathan for allowing an invasion of your home!
It was such an honor to get to know your family!

Mommy Monday ~ How to handle mommy guilt

I am really loving all the responses I am getting for these Mommy Monday posts.
Please feel free to message me with any topics you would be interested in me writing about!

Tonight, I want to talk about Mommy guilt.

I think it would be safe to say that every mom has, at one time or another, dealt with this feeling.
You know exactly what I'm talking about...

*You snap at your kids.
*You get to the end of the day and realize you haven't spent as much time with them as you wanted.
*You let them watch the entire season of Penguins of Madagascar...in one day.
*You are pretty sure they haven't had fruits and vegetables all day. Ok. All week.
*You drop them off at daycare, or a babysitters.
The list can go on and on and on.

It can be any of the above things, as well as a million others that I didn't mention.

I am going to lay two ideas on you that will hopefully help you as far as this whole feeling of guilt goes.

First of all, 

You need to know the difference between guilt and conviction.
Here's what I mean.

Guilt is this horrible feeling that comes over you and makes you feel worse and worse about yourself.
It is totally non-productive. 
It doesn't normally drive you to do things differently, it only seems to drive you straight to starbucks. ha!

Conviction, on the other hand, is "the act or process of convincing."
What that means from a Biblical perspective, is that we are being convinced that what has just been done is right or wrong based on absolute truth. That absolute truth, of course, being God's Word.

What conviction does differently than guilt, is it drives us to understand our weakness in ourselves, and then to understand our strength and power in Christ.

So guilt is self-imposed.
Conviction is Christ-imposed.

Guilt pushes you to focus on YOURSELF, your downfalls, and your weaknesses.
Conviction pushes you to focus on GOD, His strength, and His power.

Guilt makes you want to lay down and not move.
Conviction makes you want to get up and move forward.

Guilt moves your towards yourself.
Conviction moves you towards God.

Guilt is from satan.
Conviction is from God.

Because they can feel similar, the way to really tell which emotion you are feeling, is to see where your ending point is. 
If your ending point is self-centered, and you are are putting yourself down...it is guilt.
If your ending point is Christ-centered, and you are building up who you are in Christ...it is conviction.

Now that we have an understanding of that...

The second thing that is going to help you is this.

You need to have specific, firm expectations of yourself ahead of time.

A lot of times, the guilt we feel is completely based on what we expect of ourselves based on what our friends are doing, what our parents did, or what the magazines and books are saying. It is not even an issue of right or wrong!

Plain and simple?

Get over that.


Look. I think the moms that come to our home school group and set their kids all up with nicely packaged baby carrots, little baggies of celery sticks with natural peanut butter in them. Chicken sandwiches on whole wheat bread are the bees knees.
I really do.
But because that is not an expectation I have set up ahead of time for my kids?
I proudly open that can of spaghettios and say...hey! 
Ya got your tomatoes in there, your cheese, and some carbs.
Wash it down with some chocolate milk. (Not organic.)
And have a good one!

And it's fine, because I am fine with it.

Don't allow yourself to feel guilty over something you didnt want for yourself in the first place!

Now...what about those times when you do something like snap at your kids, or wen you start feeling guilty about them being in daycare?

It's the same principles. When you get upset with your kids and then start feeling bad...use those feelings of conviction to push you to action. Apologize to your kids. Make it right and move on.

If you decided that you want to (or need to) work which means your kids are in daycare and you feel a peace about that? Stay confident in your decision! Don't allow feelings of guilt to come in if it is not a sin issue! 

One more thing.

Speak truth in your heart.

That means you aren't even allowing yourself to think guilt. 
Guilt is such an emotional drain! 
Get rid of it in your heart before it even starts coming out in other areas in your life! 

Say no to guilt. 
It just stinks. 
And it ruins everything anyways. 
Free living, baby! Free living!

Friday, February 21, 2014

As real as it gets ~ When you can't photoshop your life

Let's be real here.
I can photoshop anything before I post it to Facebook, my blog, or my website.
I can make the dishes on the counter disappear, I can make the paint look perfectly smooth and let's not even get started on what I can do to make my body look better!

But. I can't photoshop my life.
And that's just the problem these days.
All the things I see pinned and posted are not necessarily real.

So today.
If you had stopped by my house this is what you would have seen

That is what my floors look like without photoshop. The pizza box on the table is from last week, and the winter clothes are from when I went outside to play in the snow with the boys...yesterday.
That is what the dining room table looks like on a daily basis. And that would be on a good day!

 This is AJ not doing school...

and Riley not doing school.

It's life my friends.
Real. stinking. life.

And I guarantee that many of you have kitchens, and dining rooms that look the same.
So tonight.
I'm keeping it as real as it gets.

You can't photoshop your life.
So you might as well take a picture of it to remember it by, right?
Happy Friday everyone...hope you have a relaxing, enjoyable night!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy Blogiversary ~ Celebrating with a giveaway!

I started blogging in 2005.
I was a 28-year-old girl.
I had a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.
Adam and I were running youth group at our house.
I was training for my first marathon.
And, by the sounds of my writing, I was a bit sleep deprived.
You can see theses posts here.

I decided last year (and I'm still not exactly sure why) on this day that I would attempt to write a post every single day except for Sundays.
I did that for quite a while, and then decided that I would take Saturday and Sunday off of writing.

My goals with my blog are to be able to share my faith in a way that is easy to read, but at the same time is straightforward and honest. Ok, ok...all-up-in-your-grill and blunt.
Call it what you may.
And also to open the door for me to be able to speak more.
I really desire to be able to get more speaking engagements...can you tell I like to talk?

Running a photography business sure makes it a little easier on the days when I feel like there is nothing to write, or I'm just plain tired!
I can just fill a post with pretty pictures and not a lot of words!

Writing every day has definitely showed me that I can do what I put my mind to.
I try to live like that anyways.
Running a half marathon when AJ was 6 months old (long before the days when I could post to Facebook and instagram and get all kinds of inspiration and go-get-ems!) definitely defined me to a great degree.
Running hundreds of miles with my dad in training, and then 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and marathons -it teaches you a lot.
A lot about perseverance.
A lot about doing things you say you are going to do.

And when I say I am going to do something...I just have to do it.
A nice way of putting it would be that I am iron-willed and uncompromising.
haha...or you could just say that I am obstinate, stubborn and willful.

I wanted to thank you for reading my thoughts.
I wanted to thank you for the friendships I have gained all because of this blog!
I wanted to thank you for the messages, texts and letters from people saying that I have helped them see things differently, or that I have encouraged them in some way.

Your kindness means so much to me, and believe me -

there are a lot of insecurities that comes with putting yourself out there the way I have chosen to!

You never know what people are thinking, or saying behind your back.
So when I do get a comment, or an email?

It means more than I can say. And it never gets old!

So as a thank you for your support I wanted to do a giveaway!
I was lucky enough to get this incredible roommate my junior year of college named Amanda.
She and I became super close and I really can't imagine what my year might have been like without her.
She owns this amazing online boutique and I thought the perfect giveaway would be a

$25.00 gift certificate to Luvi's Closet!

(I know that while a lot of my readers are female, I do have some loyal male readers as well! You can still enter, and be the coolest husband, boyfriend, brother or friend on the planet by gifting it!!)
I wish I could win it, because I love her stuff!

So...It's pretty self-explanatory. There are 4 ways you can get points.
Do what ya gotta do, and I will be drawing the winner next Thursday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And did I say thank you yet?
Because really. Thank you for being a part of my life.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Crank it up

Every once in a while I find a song that I have to listen to over and over.
And over.
The last few months it has been Oceans.
Starting this week?
It's been Wake Up.

It is like exactly what I have been talking about with my dreams and bhags.
And about my thoughts on inspiring people to be world turners!

It's the kind of song you have to just crank it up and belt it out...
Well, at least that is what I do. Sometimes I wonder if my neighbors hear me!

Listen to it tonight.
And be encouraged to

We have seen the pain that shaped our hearts
And in our shame We're still breathing, 

We have seen the hope of your healing 
Rising from our souls is the feeling
We are drawing close
Your light is shining through
Your light is shining through

Wake up, wake up, wake up wake up all you sleepers
Stand up, stand up Stand up all you dreamers
Hands up, hands up Hands up all believers
Take up your cross, carry it on

All that you reveal with light in us 
Will come to life and start breathing, 
'cause here we stand our hearts are yours,  
Lord not our will but yours be done, Lord

-All Sons and Daughters 

Yes. This world is hard.
Times are tough.
Struggles are real.
Pain runs deep.

But there is hope.

You are not alone.
In God is all we could ever need.
So belt it out with me...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I'm a skimmer

I'm a skimmer.
Ugh. Sometimes I hate that about myself.
It's ironic, really, that someone who can talk and ramble so ever-loving long is herself a skimmer.
There's gotta be an analogy in there somewhere.

I have gotten myself in trouble with my skimming on more than one occasion.
Although it did come in handy for many English assignments in college.
Well, that and the sweet cards I sent my professor, with my only motive being to express my appreciation for all his tedious, hard work, and the way he poured his life into his work.               *cough-please-give-me-an-Acough*

But I am afraid that the rest of my life becomes far too easy to skim over.
I have found myself lately being the first one to release from the hugs of my taller-than-me boy.
I have found myself hurrying through monopoly with Riley to move on to the next pressing thing.
I have found myself planning dinner while I am reading my Bible without even realizing it.

Those are not things I want to be skimming through.
Really, I shouldn't want to be skimming through any part of my life.
Between reading and studying the book of Exodus, and then going through Judges, James and Psalms in FBI, I realize how much of my life I have no control over.
Then at the same time, I have complete control over how I handle every area of my life.

I know.  I know I'm not the first person to ever talk about this.
I've read all the big time bloggers posts that read like a deep, philosophical thesaurus.
Sometimes, I feel like it just makes my sin look dignified and fancy.

I sometimes have to re-read it 12 times because I can't picture a person sitting down over a cup of coffee with me and actually speaking like that!
If you aren't throwing in a "dude" or "yo" or "ain't nobody got time for that" or at least a joke every once in a while, you may very well have lost me altogether!

Give it to me straight.

If I know the good I should do, and don't do it? It is sin, according to James 4:17.

I love how that verse is there, because it gets rid of any lists of rules and excuses.
It gets rid of the "out" that I feel like I am sometimes trying to find.

If I know I should be hugging AJ a little longer, and telling him how special he is to me, and then I don't do it?
It is sin...for me. Not for you.
Couldn't possibly be.
Some of you reading this may not even have children, so of course that doesn't apply to you.

But sometimes I am allowing things in my life to be off centered, and selfish!
And the fact that there is not a specific verse that says "Thou shalt play monopoly for 6 hours a week" does not get me off the hook if I am pushing off spending more time with my son.                              (but seriously. Monopoly?! Why does it have to be so long? haha!)

Do you get what I'm saying?
With so many voices out there saying so many different things I feel like

I need to just get back to the basics.

I mean like the literal. beginner. 1+1=2 basics.

Am I spending time with God?
Am I putting my family as a priority?
If I took all the minutes I was spending on social media, or tv, or reading and put those minutes into playing games with my kids. Or writing letters to people from my town who are discouraged. Or simply praying more...

Would my life be different?
Of course it would.

But then I realize I am skimming.
I am skimming through my Bible reading.
I am skimming through my dinner preparation.
I am skimming through my friendships.
I am skimming through my relationships with my family.

I am just skimming.

And the result of what I get from that is totally. my. loss.

I am the one who misses out from those long hugs.
I am the one who misses out from the giggles and fun of playing games with my kids.
I am the one who misses out on the blessings that God will give me when I put others first.

So. The next time you find yourself rushing through something...

Just remind yourself of what your losses will be because of that choice.

Choose to take a little more time.
A little more time to focus on what is really important.
Ya know what I mean, yo?

And this picture is just because it is snowing. Again. And I wanted to be reminded of
1. how fast time goes by.
2. beach days will be here soon!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mommy Monday~ teaching your children the proper view of church

So last week I gave you some tips on keeping  your little ones still quiet in church.
This week I will be talking to the mommas with older kids.

If you are reading this, you probably know my views on giving excuses for your kids.
Especially when my kids were littler, I heard a lot of "they didn't get their nap in", or "they are hungry" or "they stayed up too late last night" as excuses for bad behavior.
Now. I am not saying there is not time for mercy and grace when it comes to your kids, but I definitely believe that falling into the trap of giving your children an excuse for every bad behavior becomes just that. A trap.
It doesn't get any easier the older they get, so you may as well break the habit now!

The reason I am bringing that aspect of it up, is because I think a lot of what I see happening with kids in church (I am referring to any school aged child) begins with excuses parents are giving them.

They just can't sit still.
They have a short attention span.
They didn't have breakfast.
They were up too late last night...

And all of these things become excuses for either: why they can't sit still and pay attention in church, or why they can't go to church at all!

So many times, we are setting our kids up for failure without even realizing it!

Listen, I get it. I can't sit still half the time, and I have a short attention span too. Chances are I did not skip breakfast, but I quite possibly could have missed my coffee, and I was most definitely up too late the night before.

It does not give me an out.

Stop looking for outs for your kids!

My view of church is easy to read.
Unfortunately, my face makes all my thoughts far too easy to read! ha! I am really working on that one!

Think about that.
What do your kids think your view of church is?

Do they see it as a place you feel burdened to go to?
Do they see it as a place where you go and act like a fake once a week?
Do they see it as a place that you go as long as you are happy, but as soon as anything doesn't please you enough you pick another church? Or stop going altogether?
Do they see it as the thing you do, only if there is nothing better going on?

Do they see it as a place you absolutely love going to?
Do they see it as one place you actually feel like you can be yourself?
Do they see it as a place that you go for what you can give, not what you can get? And a place you are going to be committed to...like a family?
Do they see it as the only option on a Sunday morning regardless of the good skiing specials going on, sports games or other events?

See the difference?
When I was growing up I am pretty sure we never missed a Sunday.
I never ever felt like I was forced to go to church.
My parents loved church.
They loved going.
We just knew what we were going do do on Sundays, no questions asked.
My husband grew up the same way.

Our parents had a proper view of the church:

Church is a place you go to serve and to grow.

A far cry from the average person's view today!

The way you express your view will shape and form the view your child has.

A few tips to help your child learn the proper view of church:

1. Speak positively about going to church and spending time with your church family. I know there will be days when you are tired, it is cold and you don't want to get out of bed. Life can be like that with any responsibility we have! Just be careful what comes out of your mouth in reference to that.

2. Refer to the church as "family" in front of your child. This will allow them to see what responsibility and accountability goes along with that. When you are a part of a family at home, you have chores and responsibilities. It is the same with a church family! You wouldn't just walk out on your real family, you shouldn't just walk out on your church family.

3. ONLY speak positively about church leadership in front of your kids.
If you feel the need to discuss problems and issues, do not allow your kids to be in the conversation.    If you are putting down the authority of your pastor, do not be surprised when your children decide to disregard any or all of his teaching. A dangerous place to be, especially when my pastor is teaching purity, and honoring parents, and other things I want my children to be learning!

4. Make sure your kids are part of a ministry! We all need to serve, kids are not exempt from this! Riley is 11, and his ministry is to fill the cup of water for the Pastor when he preaches. Seems small, right? But he takes it seriously. He is filling a need, and he sees his value as a part of the family when he does his job. The body suffers when we are not all using our gifts to bring God glory.

5. Have your entire family following along in their Bibles and taking notes. I do not understand the thought process of allowing your child to sit there with his head down, or playing on his iPod during church. It is a place to learn and to grow. I feel like this is telling your children - ok. Here's the boring part, you can just play now! I understand that there will be some parts of the sermon they may not understand. Perfect...it gives a chance to discuss more when you get home! (I have really enjoyed explaining what fornication, adultery and circumcision mean to my kids - haha!)
Most churches provide notes, but if they don't I created a couple versions to print off for your kids to use. You can download the older kids version here and the younger kids version here.

6. Speak the truth in your heart. I love this verse in Psalm 15:2 that says to speak the truth in your heart. It's totally killer. How many times do I allow my thoughts to go towards negative and critical things? Either about myself, or about others. If I am speaking the truth in my heart, I will then be speaking the truth with my mouth. If I am speaking the truth with my mouth, my kids will hear it and will be affected in a positive way.

Let's be the moms that start a new trend.
A new trend of raising kids who love the body of Christ.
Imagine the difference it could make?

Expect obedience.
Expect growth.

If we are expecting our kids to go though phases and stages of not wanting to please God, and not wanting to go to church, then ya know what? I think they very well may.
But. If I am expecting the positive in my kids, imagine the difference!

Let's stick together and make going to church? the cool thing to do.
Here's to raising super cool, God-fearing, successful and awesome kids.
Rock on moms.
We got this.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Something tangible to hold on to

I know I already talked about how important it is to get family pictures
Every time I see pictures of these boys holding my hand and laughing, it just makes me feel so...I can't even describe. Just incredibly happy. 
It makes me realize what I have.
This relationship I have with my 11 and 12 year old boys...it's not necessarily normal.
It's unusual these days to see a boy AJ's age talking to his mom, laughing with his mom, being comfortable with his mom.
It didn't just happen. 
It took a lot of work.
It took some major intentional planning to create the kind of relationships I have with my kids.
I don't take it for granted.
Not ever.
They are incredible kids. 
They are not perfect, but our family is very focused on communication.
If there is anything going on, 
we all gon' know about it, yo.
Ain't no secrets here baby.
I know...I'm so gangsta.

Our house is loud.
Like...super loud.
Adam has a really loud voice, which came in handy when the kids were babies.                                 Now they can literally sleep through anything.
Meaning, we are hoping there is never a fire because they would not hear the fire alarm! ha!
We like loud music, loud talking, loud laughing, and loud singing.
Hmmmm. Maybe I should re think why I get so many headaches.

And then there is this boy,
This boy I fell in love with in the 10th grade.
We are not perfect, but we are perfect for each other.
It takes work. 
Trust me...we are both very independent, strong willed people.
It is hard work to make sure that we are keeping our relationship the way God wants it to be.       
But I can't even imagine my life without him. 

I am blown away lately by the incredible grief that is all around me.
This family from NH who lost their husband/dad totally and completely unexpectedly.
Literally. No warning.
This family who lost their full term baby with no warning.
Just like that. Life can be taken.

I just want to be more thankful.
More appreciative for what I have.
Being able to have something tangible to hold on to is priceless to me.
Just priceless.
These pictures I have of my family mean so much to me.

I am holding on to Jesus. Yes. 
And I am holding on to the gifts He gave me...
I am holding on to my boys.
The boys that make me feel safe. Happy. Complete.

When is the last time you had pictures taken of your family? 
Pictures that captured you all together...just acting like - you?!
Go do it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Electric blanket for the win.

I grew up in New England.
I am used to cold weather, and I don't even mind shoveling.
I enjoy seeing the beauty of the snow, and when I am feeling especially super-momish, I will even go outside and play in it with the kids.
I own a snowboard and really love falling down hills on it.

But now I live in an old house.
And pretty much, my favorite thing to do is cover up in an electric blanket with a cup of coffee.
I am not exaggerating! It makes it really hard, when you are trying to be all organized and hard working.
Basically, it cuts into my trying-to-get-things-accomplished mode that I am trying to hold on to.
It is also really bad for exercise.
I do own a gym membership, but the thought of getting into a cold car and driving to the gym...ya, you get the idea. In fact, the idea of getting out from under my warm blanket to do a plank or two and maybe even some crunches is pretty much exhausting.
Yes, I just said the thought of it was exhausting.

Electric blanket for the win.

I know.
I'm so inspirational.
Marathon...here we come.
Just let me finish this brownie real quick, and..well, at this point I might as well start on Monday, right?

Anyways. The snow is pretty coming down, and my house is covered with white right now.
Which is great, because it's covering the roof that needs to be fixed so you can't even tell.

It's all about finding the good, people.

Just find the good in the freezing cold snow, dang it!
It's gotta be there somewhere.

I am so thankful I am not sweating hot right now.
That's the worst, right?
And I am so thankful that I don't have to carry an air conditioner upstairs right now!

Alright. That's all I got for now.
Time to get out of the library and go upstairs to my bedroom and get under my electric blanket.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rachelle Chase Family Photographer ~ Mommy and Me

I loved this mommy and me session so much.
Little Nathaniel reminds me so much of my AJ when he was little.
Curly blond hair. Big smile. Big eyes. Full of life and adventure. Loves snuggling mommy.
This was my life.
My life that was busy with filling juice cups, reading the same story over and over, changing diapers, snuggling whenever I got the chance...just loving my life.

Sometimes when I am editing a session, I realize that without even thinking about it, I am smiling so big...
That was totally this session.
It was a session filled with snuggles and big grins.
It made me wish that I had images like this of me with my boys when they were little.
I wish that I had taken the time to get pictures of us together...those days goes by way too fast.

Katelyn is such a sweet momma and it is so obvious that she is in love with her little man.
Here are a few of my favorites from our session!

If you have been thinking about getting pictures of you and your babies, please don't put it off anymore! You will not regret it!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Waiting an hour to move an air conditioner

My notebook is filled to the brim.
It is broken into different categories, because my life is a giant mess of totally different departments that do not in any way mesh together.

There are times when I stop and think...what can I eliminate?
What in my life am I able to take out?
And the answer?

The four biggest categories in my notebook are:
My writing.

It's actually annoying to even glance up at that little tiny list of a few words, because it does not even come close to showing what all of it entails.
It's like when you stub your toe so hard, and there's not even a mark to get any sympathy for it! 

I could literally spend hours a day on any one of the categories I listed, and those are only the biggest categories...there are many other categories as well.
(and yes, I know that I just used categories three times in one sentence. I never claimed to be a perfectionist or a grammar fanatic.)

So what is my point?
I know. We all have busy crazy lives.
We all have different categories.
We all have different roles.

I guess my point is that I need to collaborate with more people.
Stop trying to be a one-man-show.
And I think I am probably right when I say that you may have to do the same thing.

Two are better than one.
Iron sharpens iron.
Stir one another up to love and good works.
These are just a few verses in the Bible that remind us how working together is the best!

This is why I am so excited about ways that I am starting to get better at this.
It is so not a good quality to have, where you think you can just do everything yourself.
Honestly, I fall back on that a lot.
If something needs to get done, I just do it.
I don't ask for help, I just try and figure it out.
Could explain all the back problems I have! ha!

This is me: Well Adam, you weren't going to be home for another hour, and I really wanted all the air conditioners out of the windows. So..I just took them all out and brought them down to the basement by myself. No big deal.

Seriously. That's how I live my life.
I blame it on the "Townsend" in me. Thanks mom. ha!

My point.
Things may get done. But they will not get done as well as they could if I decided to delegate.
To collaborate.
To network.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

We are better together!

I hate that I don't just get that automatically!
I hate that I can't just wait the one hour, and have Adam take the air conditioners out of the windows!

So together... I have some plans coming up.
A better website for Epping Lighthouse - Thank you Carla
A written Bible Study - Thank you Crystal
A community service project - Thank you Anna

And it's just better.
Better working together.

What do you have to delegate?
Maybe you need to just stop thinking you can do everything by yourself.
And maybe you really, truly can do everything by yourself?
But think how much better it will be if you work with other people!

I think a big, huge, stupid, deceitful plan satan has, is to get us thinking we are all alone.
Sadly, we fall for it a lot.
But guess what?

We are not alone.

We are better together, and we need to start acting like that.
So I will try to wait an hour to move an air conditioner.
I will try to take some of the burdens I have been carrying by myself and include others in my life.
I will try dreaming with other people who have the same desires and passions I do.

You should try it too.

And although these pictures have nothing to do with this post, but because I think everyone in the world should see how adorable my nieces are, here is Emmi (shot in 2012) and Maelyn (shot this weekend).
You're welcome.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Helping your child sit still in church

When our family is sitting together at church, there is very little that makes my heart feel so content.
I absolutely love having my boys sit with me...but at this point, they are 11 and 12 years old, and they are sitting with me while taking notes of the sermon. This makes for a whole different experience than what we used to do when we had a 2 and a 4 year old with us!

I know a lot of you are in that stage right now and I wanted to give some tips on helping your child sit still in church.

1. Be prepared.
I used to take snacks (that are not in loud packaging!) and different kinds of quiet toys to services with me. I actually had my mom make me a book that was made of felt, and had felt animals that would stick to the book! It is also a good idea to only bring out these specific toys on Sunday. It makes them a little more special so your child won't get bored with the toys as fast. Coloring is a great quiet activity and you can easily grab a couple new coloring books at the dollar store and bring them out just on Sunday! Being overly prepared makes for way less stress on you!
While I am not saying it's totally wrong to bring electronic devices to keep them quiet during church (I never had those things when my kids were toddlers) I don't really think it's a good idea. When do you pick the "age" that it stops being ok? There is nothing more frustrating than seeing kids old enough to be paying attention, with their face buried in an iPod. We are teaching them that church is boring. That church is for adults. That church is all about them and what makes them happy. That they need to just keep occupied until the service is over. 
Yikes. That is road you don't even want to start to go down. 

2. Trial run during the week.
This is a great idea for many, many circumstances in your kids lives.
Set up a little church place in your living room, and explain what happens during a service.
Show them the kind of "voice" they need to talk in when someone else is talking and the church is quiet. Tell them that after the singing time, they can sit on the floor and play with these special toys. Giving them a play by play is going to help you out, and you can refer to it during the service. "remember the kind of voice we practiced this week?" or "remember that as soon as the singing is done, you get to color?" Helping your child know what to expect is going to make them feel like they have a little more control too.

3. Set reasonable expectations.
I am not a fan at all of giving excuses for my kids behavior. If they miss a nap and are tired, they are still expected to obey. But at the same time, I have to be aware of what my child is capable of doing. Know what their limits are! I would have my older toddler participate in the singing part, and then be allowed to play with their toys during the preaching part. For the 2 year old, they could do different toys and snacks the entire hour.
Because every child is different, you are going to have to really know what they can and can not do.  AJ could literally sit still for a half hour straight and not even flinch. Riley? Without practice, could sit still for a half a second. That does not mean that he is incapable of sitting still longer! We need to discipline our bodies, training them to do what they should! (I Corinthians 9:27...a great verse to have them memorize so you can whisper it to them during the service!) This can take some discipline and work, but it goes back to #2. Work at home. Set a timer for 30 seconds and see if they can sit still and not move for that long. Then add to the time the next day, and see how long they can go.
Show them you are being reasonable. I still allow Riley to have a little toy or something in his hands during the service because it helps him to sit still. (if we're being honest here, I do the same thing for myself. haha!)

4. Be willing to follow through.
You have to be consistent and actually follow through with what you say the consequences are going to be! My kids knew what the consequences were. Giving empty threats doesn't help anyone.
Don't threaten them with a spanking. Don't threaten to take something away. 
Give them a second chance, yes. But be in control and do what you say you are going to do.
You can see the difference between..."Stop being so loud! Stop! I am going to spank you if you don't stop. Do you want a spanking? I said stop. Do you understand me? Stop it!"
"mommy told you to stop hitting your car agains the pew. If you hit it one more time, I am going to take you in the bathroom and give you a spanking".
A huge key to your child being in control, is you being in control! 
I had many occasions of trying to quietly taking one of my boys out into the bathroom and have them start screaming...don't spank me!! 
Knowing ahead of time that you are going to give 2 chances, and then take them out to discipline them if they don't obey, keeps you calm. It keeps you less frazzled. It is almost as if you are going exactly by the plan you had set out. Be confident in your expectations and be willing to follow through.

5. Don't assume people are judging you.
I know. Sometimes you can feel like everyone is staring, and that quite possibly they are thinking 
"I have never seen such a rotten child."
Maybe they are.
But most likely? They are not. Either way, it does not affect how you should be handling your child. It ends up causing more stress on you, and you start feeling all kinds of emotions that you don't need to be feeling.
Just let it go.

Lastly, your child picks up on your attitudes, and your facial expressions.
Talking excitedly about church all week, and being excited yourself about going, sets a stage.
It shows your kids that you love being at church and that you are happy to be there.
It shows them you are obeying what God says, and you are obeying without complaining.
If they hear you complaining, and whining about it, it will send all kinds of mixed messages that will affect them later. 
Don't make things harder for yourself than they have to be.

Next week I will be talking about your older children and what going to church should look like for them.

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