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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crazy things happen when I start thinking.

If you are friends with me at all, and this includes Facebook friends, you know that my life has been pretty much consumed with all things Surge.

What started out with a random thought that popped into my head (oddly enough, this is how The Porch started!), has turned into reality.
And this is thanks to my husband who supports all my crazy dreams and some solid friends (many of which are also my family) who push me along the way.
Adam always says that my mind would be a very scary place to be. Ha!
Crazy things happen when I start thinking!

So tonight.
My refrigerator looks like this

(Shout out to Ryan Boccelli and Stonyfield Farm for the yogurt donation!)

My table looks like this

(Thank you 2 Dancing Daanes for hooking us up with the stellar stamp!)
And my mind is a crazy mess filled with more thoughts about more topics than I could ever tell you.

And this morning, as I sat on my bed with my Bible open and my eyes closed, I had to struggle and fight with these thoughts that were threatening to just take over.
Thoughts that had nothing to do with what was in front of me.
And thoughts that involved situations that had happened and were happening that I had absolutely no control over.

And I was reminded of the incredible truth that God is in control.
If there are things going on that I have no control over, than what is it even proving to worry?
And I was able to sit there and feel God's peace pour over me in a way that is so hard to explain, but in that same exact way that He is doing it now.
I have listened to this song over and over this week:

God. The God of the universe is fighting for me. Little, old, unimportant me.
And it doesn't matter what else happens. I am not alone.

And as I have stressed over the boys schooling, finances, editing, emailing clients, emailing teens about surge, emailing family, forgetting to go grocery shopping this week...it just all stopped.

I am not alone.
And my God is fighting for me. always.
I don't even care what else happens.

I am so excited about tomorrow for a lot of reasons, many of the reasons come from thoughts I have had since I was in middle school.
And I can not wait to blog about it next week.

But for now?
I have to go take the brownies out of the oven, finish writing thank you notes for my speakers, email a couple clients back, make a list for my day tomorrow and finish editing these pictures for my post tomorrow.

And I am completely satisfied and peaceful.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Family Photography ~ Cousins Shoot Massabesic Lake

I love being able to capture families loving on each other.
I was so excited when I had the chance to do a cousin shoot!
These sweet kids don't get to see each other very often, so it was great watching them interact together.

It was a beautiful night at Massabesic Lake in Manchester, and you can tell these cousins sure do love each other!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Running when no one cheers

It's kind of an odd concept, the whole road race thing.
I pay money to run. People cheer me on. I finish and go home.

But people really get into it!
I have run a lot of races. Some 5k's and then half marathons and marathons with a couple of 5, 6, and 10 miles thrown into the mix.
And they are all the same...people everywhere, decked out in their brand new running gear ready to do their thang.

Today I ran the Newburyport 10 mile road race with my dad.
As I was running it, I was thinking about the difference from just last week when I had also run 10 miles.
I ran by myself, in my town.
No one cheered me on. I didn't get any high fives, or any kind of water breaks along the way, and no one yelled out - you got this! Good job! Keep it up!

And here tonight as we ran, we had tons of people handing out water, orange slices, playing music, giving high fives, spraying us with water and yelling out constant encouragement.

What a difference that makes.
Having people supporting you, encouraging you and helping you.
When I ran by myself, it was all I could muster to keep running, fight through the pain and make it home! And tonight, it motivated me to keep moving.

Races get me all pumped up.
They make me want to run more, but I gotta say that in all of the hours and hours of running I have done, I have sure learned a lot about life.

And if cheering me one when I am simply run makes such a big difference in my life, imagine how much of a difference it can make if I decide to start cheering someone on when they are going through rough times in life.

It's huge, people. It's huge.
We need each other. Don't think we don't.
Don't fall in to the whole "I'm all set" way of living.
We were created to be relational. To be there for each other. To encourage and build each other up. Because we need it. And maybe I need it today, but you will need it next week. And maybe you need it next week and someone else will need it the following week.

It's hard running when no one cheers.

This week, make it a priority to hand out water and give high fives...metaphorically speaking.

Be the cheerleader for people even if you don't know them.
The people who were cheering me on tonight, didn't know me.
And you what? It didn't even matter.
They gave me what I needed exactly when I needed it and it helped me finish the race.
Let's help each other finish the race.

Here's a before and after of the race tonight :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Vegetables aren't that important

Sometimes life can seem like a big, giant list of things that are too hard for me to do.
And I just can't take it.
Not only do I have to be thinking about how much water I have had to drink and how many fruits and veggies I have gotten in, how much exercise I have done and how much time I have spent on electronics, but nowwwww...I also have to figure out how to do all that for these 2 little humans I'm raising?!
Come on now.
Ain't nobody got time for that!

Add into that mix: how many books they've read, when the last time they've had their nails cut, how much sleep they've gotten, how they test, how they treat other kids their age, how they treat adults, ahhhhhhhh...who has time for all that?!

So basically, here's what I think about it all.

Vegetables aren't that important.

Every night, when I go in to pray over my boys after they fall asleep, I am never all:
sigh. I am so thankful AJ had those cucumbers and peppers today.
And I could not be more proud that Riley ate the corn.

The things that I think about are much, much more important.
The way AJ told me he knows his spiritual gift is service and he just loves to serve.
The way Riley tells me to put the bag down so he can carry it in for me.

It's the things that have to do with my boys character that I am much more concerned about.
Sure, I think I should still think about what they're eating every once in a while, about how they are improving their education, and all those other things.

But what I think is the most important is that they are growing in favor with God and with people.
And so if you are having one of those days (or let's be honest here, one of those weeks, or months or YEARS!) just let it go.
Spend time cultivating the long lasting things that matter:
How they love God. How they love people.

And let the veggies go, dude.
Just let the veggies go.

Friday, July 25, 2014

An entry from the journal of 13-year-old me

I write. A lot.
Like, sometimes I just find random notebooks from years ago that I have written all sorts of things in.
I don't necessarily journal, although I like the idea of it, and I wish I did more.
But sometimes it's fun to just find something and think...wow, I was feeling like that then?!? Weird!

This is from February 2, 1990 (I was 13)

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this day, even though it's snowing.
Thank you for the warm place that I have to live in. 
I saw Andy at the game today, and he LOOKED AT ME! (yes...this was in all caps) 
I'm so glad I have you to talk to about this. No one else would understand.
Please help my face to clear-up...Thanks for listening to me.
Please help my Tony to get saved. He needs you so bad.
I love you!

This makes me smile because Andy was a guy that went to the high school my sister was going to (I was still being home-schooled at this point) and seriously.. he looked at me?!?!?
And "my Tony" was referring to none other than Tony Eason, who was the quaterback for the New England Patriots. I honestly prayed for him every single day. No lie.
And the funny thing is that everything I wrote was never for a show.
It was like my personal journal. I wasn't blogging it. I wasn't instagramming it. I wasn't updating my Facebook status. So I guess I really thought he was "my Tony". And everything I was writing was just pure, straight-up Rachelle.

Here's why I love looking at things like this.
It helps me to remember a few things.

1. I had parents who took me seriously.
My parents let me paste pictures of my Tony on my wall, write "I love Tony" all over my high top balloon sneakers, and they actually took me seriously. They looked at me with a straight face when I asked if I could please have a jersey with number 11 on the front and number 2 on the back (for Doug Flutie, obvi.) for Christmas.
It reminds me that I need to take my own kids seriously, and the kids from The Porch as well.
Things were a big deal to me. They seemed huge, even though now I can see that they were not.
And having people in your life who take you seriously too? Priceless.

2. Jesus has been a friend to me since I was little.

I remember what my face looked like when I was 13. I remember wearing big bangs over my forehead to try and cover up all the pimples. And I remember praying and asking God to please help my face to clear up. It was real. It was a relationship with a Heavenly Father, and I still have it.
It's pretty incredible, and it's why I encourage my boys to pray about everything. Everything.
God wants to have a personal relationship with us. He cares about every single detail in our lives.
If it's a big deal to us, it's a big deal to Him.

3. It is always a good idea to be thankful.
I like looking back and seeing what I was thankful for.
I was thankful that I had a warm place to live. Please understand, that I did not have a nice, warm place to live, as many of you would describe nice. But I grew up in a home that was loving, and that completely met my needs.
I was thankful that a boy, who literally never knew my name, had looked at me.
Wow. That is really digging deep to find something, right? But it was something.
And to a 13-year-old, boy crazy girl, it was huge.
It is always a good idea to be thankful. Because, why not?
Is your house smaller than you wish? Be thankful.
Is your weight more than what you want? Be thankful.
Are your friends fewer than you want? Be thankful.
Just be thankful. 
Take the seemingly meaningless, little, tiny details of life and make them huge.
Make them all huge.

So here you have it. An entry from the journal of 13-year-old Rachelle.
Just keeping it real.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

5 big reasons NOT to homeschool

If you live in the good ole North East, summer vacation has literally only been going on for one full week before Walmart decides to whip out the back-to-school supplies and throw them in the front of the store.
I'm all...say what?! Where the sunscreen at?

But since people are already literally talking about going back to school, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon. And since people are constantly asking me incredulously how in the world I homeschool, I thought I would give you 5 big reasons not to.

1. You start planning your field trips around your trips to the mall. 
-Can't I catch a break? I mean, is it my fault that there is a science center  and opportunity for many other field trips right next to the mall? Rough life, right?

2. You miss out on all the good gossip going around with all the moms in the public school.
-I mean, really. I don't know how I am possibly going to survive if I don't get all the dirt on everyone! Vaguebooking is just not cutting it for me! I need more, people. 

3. You have complete control over what your kids learn. 
-This can be a little overwhelming. And opening every single ever loving science book in the library only to find out that the world started billions, no wait...millions, no just kidding billions of years ago? It's like...who has time to teach our kids the truth these days! Wouldn't it just be easier to let whatever the teacher happens to believe become your kids truth?

4. You start eating snacks with your kids at snack time and can accidentally gain a few.
-Food was designed for comfort, yes? So your math is a little too hard for you right now? Let's pop a bag of popcorn and look over it. You just aced your geography test? Sweet. Let's celebrate with a giant bowl of ice cream. And that's the whole problem- you're home too much. Around food. And there is just no stopping it. Weight watchers, here we come.

5. You start to get really attached to your kids.
-Seriously. It's pretty much like my kids are my best friends.
In our house? We laugh. A lot.  And honestly, who wants that?

So there you have it. Five solid reasons not to homeschool. Anyone have any more they want to add? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Senior session on the beach ~ Rye Beach, NH

I have photographed Kayla and her family a couple of times as well as her sister's senior pictures.
Kayla wanted her senior pictures on the beach, and I always love hearing my clients say that!
The beach is pretty much my favorite place to be and Rye Beach never disappoints!

We had so much fun during our session and Kayla was absolutely perfect at posing and acting totally natural.
She even brought an assistant along for the fun! ha!

Here are a few of my favorites from her session!

Right across the street is a great location with some trees and a perfect place for the sun to go down. It makes it so nice to be able to get a couple different looks in the same session!

I had so much fun working with you Kayla, I hope you have an amazing senior year!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

P.S. There's a dead bat on the stairs

Sometimes life gets a little...hectic.
Please don't ever mistake my talks of busy life to come across as complaining, because I absolutely love my life.
I love my family, my business, my community, my church, my ministries, my whole life.
Except for the animals that sometimes think they own my house.

I mean seriously. Last year we dealt with birds, mice, bats and a hamster.
I figured I would throw the hamster in since he is, after all, a rodent.
Yes. We have a pet rodent.

But things have gotten to the point around here where Adam and I really have to make a strong conscious effort to communicate because we are running in a million directions.

Running a business, running a not for profit, planning a conference training for a 10 mile race, raising kids and trying to live a little can start to get in my head.

But it's like fine. I mean, I'm going crazy a little. But seriously. I'm fine.
So sometimes things happen and I just laugh. Like.
I just can't even.
So the mouse droppings up in the attic?
The 274 moths I kill in my bedroom every stinking ever loving night?
The skunk that continues to get into my trash even though I try to set up booby traps?
The three-legged cat that creeps into my yard?
Ain't no thang, people. Ain't no thang.
We cool.

So when I went up into the attic to look for more of my shoes,
(There is just not enough space for them all. Don't judge. It's not my fault. I love shoes. I was born that way)
I just stepped over the mice droppings and figured. Whatevs. They can run around up here for now until we eventually finish it off. They're not bothering anyone.
And then I turned around and walked back down the stairs and thought...hmm. Something smells funny. But I'm sure it's just my imagination.
But no. No it was not.
Sure enough. There was a furry, turned upside down, dead bat on the bottom step.
Almost as if he was just about to get into my very own personal living space and didn't quite make it.

And ya know what?
I didn't even scream. I didn't even flinch really.
I closed the door behind me, and just kept moving.

And the conversation that I had with Adam as I was leaving went a little something like this.
I have a shoot at 6:30, I should be home by 8.
And p.s. There's a dead bat on the stairs.
Love you! Bye.

And the bat thing rolled off my tongue just as if I had said...dinner is in the crock pot. Which, funny enough. Dinner was in the crock pot. That crockpot, however, had not even been turned on.
So I really could have said...some raw chicken and barbecue sauce have been sitting in the crock pot for the last 4 hours, so now if you eat it, you shall die.
What is up with that? I am so busy that I can't even remember to hit START on the crock pot?!
It's one button!

Ok so really. Adam told me he took care of the bat.
And we had to order out for dinner (so now everyone thinks I didn't hit start on purpose! ha!)
And it's all totally fine.

Just wanted to give you a little sample of what goes on over here.
Good times, peeps. Good times.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Be the first voice

Do you ever think about how many voices your kids hear in their lives?

I'm a lay-it-all-on-the-line kind of a person all the way around.
I'm all. Dude. Here's the line. And here's it all.

So when it comes to the voices my boys are hearing? I ain't no fool!
I know the ones that are competing with the sometimes still and quiet voice of God.
I know them.
I hear them myself!

They remind us that being committed isn't all that important.
I mean, unless it's something really important like your job. Ya know, making more money? Climbing that corporate ladder?
But I mean, let's not get carried away here.
Church every Sunday? I mean, is that really necessary?
I'm already a Christian so I'm going to heaven. The rest doesn't really matter.
And besides...it's my only day that I can go to the beach! duh! God will understand.
And the same goes for what I do with my time during the rest of the week, how much time I spend with God. And on and on.

And then the voices love to remind my boys that it truly is all about them.
I mean, parents can be so insensitive and just don't get what their needs are.
Things have changed since those old people were growing up anyways.

Of course there is the whole, whatever is good for you trick.
You know the one...anyone who dares say that there is an absolute right or wrong is so shallow and bigoted. I mean. I know I can follow my heart (gag) because it is, after all, all about me and my feelings.
I legit just saw this quote:
"Follow your heart regardless of what others tell you to do. It's how you feel at the end of the day that really matters."
Wait. What?

Moving on before I. go. off.

Here's my whole entire point.

Your children were given to you as a gift.
Not a gift to be taken lightly.
But a gift to be worked at. Yep, that's right.
And it's hard work, no denying that.
And with all of that is the responsibility to the one who gave them to you.

So at the end of the day.
I stand before God and explain to him what I have done with the gifts he gave me.

That's why I care so much about what voices my kids are hearing.
Don't misunderstand me.
My kids are free to make their own choices, and as they grow older they get more and more chances to make their own choices.
But it is still my responsibility to be the loudest, first voice they hear.

And when my heart and my mind have been saturated in the only absolute truth there is?
My loud, first voice is going to be telling them the truth.

Peeps. It's not always easy!
The truth is, we are told to love our enemies. We are told to treat others as we want to be treated.
There are times when I tell my boys that. And then they watch someone mistreat me and watch how I act out (or totally don't) what I just told them.
So there is the first voice they hear about a situation? And then the first act they see about a situation.

So I teach my kids what is going down.
I tell them that the majority of boys around them who are their age are looking at totally inappropriate stuff on their iPods, iPads, tv's, phones, whatever.
And then I tell them that it is not good that they do the same.
And then I tell them why.
Sure. They still ultimately make the choice for themselves.
And they know that they ultimately answer to God not just me and Adam for their decisions.

But still.
I will be the first voice.

What about you?
Are you being the first voice?

Silence is not a voice.

So if you choose not to talk about the uncomfortable topics?
Someone else will, and someone else is.
Don't let the other people be the first voice for your children.

Too much is at stake.

You. You be the first voice.
You be the loudest voice.
You be the strongest action.
You take responsibility for these incredible gifts you have been given.
You take the time to know what truth is for yourself, so you can accurately give the truth to them.

Now go be a loud voice.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Passing through ~ Time with family

It's been almost 2 years since we've seen Adam's Aunt and Uncle from Virginia, so we were more than happy to have them stay with us for the night when we heard they were going to be passing through on their way to Maine.

The kids all get along great, and the adults? We put up with each other.
Ha. Just kidding...we love them, and we hated to see them go. 
Thanks for coming to see our new house and for the deep conversations and lots of laughs.
Can't wait to do it again. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I don't agree..

There are certain things in life that people believe because a lot of loud people keep saying them.

That does NOT mean that they are true!

I don't agree that you should follow your heart. Your heart is deceitful.

I don't agree that money makes you happy. The love of money can cause a lot of sorrow.

I don't agree that there is no absolute truth. God's Word is truth.

I don't agree with everything the loud people are screaming at me.
I'm just sayin'.
Don't let yourself fall into the trap of believing everything you hear...
Even if a celebrity is saying it.

So here's my simple challenge for you all this week:
Do the research yourself and then stand on your beliefs based on truth.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sometimes you just need someone to see

Have you ever been in a situation where you just wanted someone to see what you were going through?
You just wanted someone to see. That's all.
Then you feel like it would all be ok.
If someone saw the pain. If someone saw the injustice. If someone saw the struggles.
If someone could just see.

I recently felt like this.
There was an injustice. Something that wasn't fair, something that I just wanted someone to see.
Somehow, I felt like it would make it all better if someone just saw it.

A particular name for God came to my mind... El Roi.
It means this: The God who sees.
Do you get that? 
God sees! He sees.
And He is just. 
He is fair. 
He is good. 
And in those times when it seems like no one sees...it is simply not true.
He is looking for people who are obedient to Him to show himself strong on your behalf.
Why? Because he cares about you.
Amazing and just unreal. 

When there are times it feels like nobody cares. Nobody knows. Nobody sees.
God sees.
And in those times when I just need someone to see? Who better to see than the very God who created me. 
The God who is love. The God who has all power. 

So tonight. If you just need someone to see.
God sees.
He does. Don't let yourself believe otherwise.
He sees. He cares. He knows. And He is in complete control.
El Roi. The God who sees.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Everyone deserves to feel beautiful ~ My Grandmother's story

"Hi dahlin'. How's my girl today?"
My grandmother's sweet voice with a thick New England accent still makes me smile every time I hear it. I grew up hearing it a lot and I think every time I am with her, I hear "Love you, dahlin'" before I leave!

My grandparents raised 5 kids in a tiny house in Brentwood, NH.
The middle child was my dad. 
We grew up pretty close to them until they moved South when I was in High School.

Their salvation story is pretty amazing. 
They were fighting a lot, my grandfather was drinking a lot and there was no peace in their home.
Until that one day when a local pastor visited my grampy and told him about a God who loved him enough to die for him. Told him that God wanted a relationship with him and could turn his life around.
He accepted Christ as his Savior, and their marriage was saved, their family turned around and everything changed.

I am so grateful for the fact that my family has given me such an amazing legacy to follow.
My grandfather passed away a week after Riley was born, but his legacy lives on. 
I still have emails from him and cherish the times we had together. I still remember many times sitting at my kitchen table listening to stories he would tell.

My grandmother is visiting us for a while this summer and we could not be more excited.
She is an amazing woman.
She is incredibly positive. 
She is loving and caring and never thinks of herself.
She is so giving and she loves God.

I believe that everyone is incredibly valuable to God, regardless of age or physical condition.

My sister, Melanie, came to visit from New Jersey last weekend and we decided to give gram a makeover. 

I believe that everyone deserves to feel beautiful - because they are beautiful.

I told my gram about it a couple weeks ago, and she didn't stop talking about it up until the day it happened!

I believe that everyone needs something to look forward to.

She came to my house and we started out with a manicure. Melanie gave her hands a treatment, and then painted her nails. Her hands have always been so soft. I remember that from when I was little. She would sit next to me and rub my hands.

I wish you could have seen her. I should have taken video. She lit up. She talked and talked and talked some more. She told us about the times she was dating my grandfather and they would go dancing together. She told us about the time she and her BFF cleared out a restaurant because they had gone out to eat right after working at the egg factory. 

I believe that everyone needs someone to talk to.

Then I curled her hair. Did her makeup. Put a necklace on her. And brought out false eyelashes...to which she responded "oh my lawwwwd!" I wasn't really going to put them on, but her reaction was so funny!

I believe that everyone needs to laugh more.

And then I gave her a photo shoot.
She. loved. it.
She has said that she feels like a burden, and it breaks my heart to hear it.
The circle of life is a funny thing. I can't imagine the countless hours she selflessly put into her 5 children, grandchildren and great grandchildren over the years. 
And here she is, needing time put into her, and she feels bad.
Because that's how she is. She wants to give, not take.

I believe the fact that God has a perfect plan for us that does not stop when we age.

Just recently, my mom was walking by the room my grandmother was sitting in, and heard her praying. She is a woman who loves God and is still being used by Him, even though it is not in an obvious way.
The fact that people can't see how she is serving God does not change the fact that she is making a difference for eternity by her prayers. 

I believe that God will use anyone.

I proudly introduce you to my beautiful grandmother, Annie.

(I forgot to take a before picture..my mom reminded me after I had done her makeup! So I had to go to my sister's blog and get this picture from the first week she had come to stay with us.)

I believe everyone deserves to feel beautiful. 

And I have no doubt that my gram felt so beautiful after a day of pampering. 
Of life being spoken into her.
Of hugs, kisses and laughter.

I feel so blessed to have her in my life.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Who are you letting influence?

Whether we like to realize it or not, who we choose to hang out with is who influences our kids.

The way I choose my friends is showing my boys how they need to choose their friends.
And when I spend time with people while my boys are with me? Those people are influencing them.

It seems obvious, but I think that it is something worth really thinking about before you plan your next get together.
Your kids are being influenced by who you, the parent, choose to spend your time with.
Your friends attitudes, their language, their lifestyle...all of it.

So who are you letting influence your kids?
Choose wisely.

Friday, July 11, 2014

My beautiful kitchen ~ Before and After

You remember how pretty my kitchen was when we first bought it?
Here ya go...let me refresh your memory.

Don't worry, I will show you that again in a minute.
I mean, who doesn't love every shade of green in the same room?
I know I do!

I knew I loved the kitchen the second we walked into the house for the first time. I saw potential in spite of that hideousness that we saw.

Here's what we did.

-Bought a new refrigerator
-Painted the walls
-Ripped up the floors to find hard wood underneath
-Put up new back splash
-Painted the cabinets white
-Put in butcher block countertops
-Bought a new faucet

And here is the result.

I literally can not believe it's really my kitchen. Seriously.
I keep walking out and then walking back in just to see it again.
I'm obsessed. Literally obsessed.

So thankful for all the people that have helps make it look this way:
-Kathy for painting
-Bob for putting up the backsplash
-My dad for pulling up the floor
-Zach for putting in the countertop
-Maria and Harriet for painting the cabinets

I am in love with my house and I still can't believe God gave it to us.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

5 Tips for blogging consistently.

I decided one day that blogging every day would be pretty awesome.
I don't really know what made me decide. But I really enjoy writing and sharing my life, and I also really enjoyed the relationships that were being developed as a result!

So for the last year and a half, I have blogged every week day with the exception of 2 days.
Both of those days I happened to be in New Jersey. Weird, right?
I have had people ask how I kept it up with everything else I have going on in my life!
Here are 5 tips for blogging consistently.

1. Make a schedule of topics.
I started doing Mommy Mondays, and I found that it made things a little bit easier when my brain would start freezing up. I at least knew what I was going to write about on Monday!
I don't recommend scheduling your topics for every single day of the week, because that can just get stressful. If you have to write about a certain topic every day, it can kind of get you in the habit of writing just to write and I think your readers can sense that.
Get creative! If you love gardening, make one day a week about gardening. Maybe you're into reading and you can post about your favorite book of the week. Your readers are going to start getting to really know you, and the more personal you get, the more real your blog is.
They want to see who you are, what you love and they want to find a way they can relate to you!
I had someone write to me and tell me that she loved diet coke, running and reading her Bible so she felt like we had a connection! Isn't that funny? Who would've thought that diet coke could bring people together? But we are relational people and we like seeing that there are other people we have things in common with!

2. Don't box yourself in.
You don't have to blog every day to still be a consistent blogger!
Maybe you want to do Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Maybe Tuesdays and Thursdays. Maybe only Saturdays!
Just pick what works for you and stick to what you've set. Don't let someone else's schedule become yours.
They don't have your life. 
Only you do, so you know what works for you.

3. Blog ahead.
Sometimes you are just gonna be in a rhythm. Go with it!
Sometimes I will just write some thoughts that come to my mind and save them for later. It makes it so helpful when another day comes along and I am just not feeling it. If I have one already pre-written, it makes things so much easier!
There are also times when I am going to be away and I know it will be harder to stick to my schedule. Blogging a couple posts and scheduling them to post when you want them to is a great option.

4. Be prepared.
Schedule in your writing time. Make every Monday from 11:00-12:00 your writing time. 
Put it right in your calendar and make yourself do it!
Even when you try to be prepared, there are always going to be things that come up that make it impossible to write when you planned. Set yourself up for success!
I have the blogger app on my phone and my iPad because there are times I am away from my computer and it makes it super simple to just write, even use pictures from my phone, and be done!
Setting yourself up for success...this is a great principle for many areas of life!

5. Be confident.
You might be thinking...what does this have to do with anything?
Well, when you decide you are going to put your thoughts and feelings out for the world to read, you just may have people who don't agree with you.
I set my blog up so that I have to moderate every comment that comes in.
I did that because I was getting some negative comments.
It's ok. Not everyone is going to agree with me and you have to be ok with that.
Be confident in what you write and understand that you may have to take some criticism because of it.
Keep your writing real.
Be yourself. Your readers want to see that.
When you are open about you felt when you were hurt, it gives them permission to feel the same way!
I still get surprised when I meet people and they refer to something I said last week...as if I was talking to them! I have had this happen with people I had never even met!
That's what you want to go for. Being so real that people feel like you are just sitting down having a cup of coffee with them and talking.
Be confident.

So there you have it.
I am not a master blogger or anything, but I have been at it for a while.
If you have felt like you wanted to be consistent at blogging and just haven't started, start this week!
I am happy to answer any questions, keep you accountable, be the top commenter of your posts (I love leaving comments on blogs!) or just kick you in the butt and tell you to get moving!

You can do it!
You can be a consistent blogger!
Now go...give me your blog. I want to go read it!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The reason I'm not passionate about photography.

Fairly recently, I saw a photographer who was talking about her business.
I have never met her in person, so this video was my first impression and gave me a general idea of her life.
In her speaking, she said the word passionate a couple different times. 
She said she was passionate about teaching other people how to run a successful photography business.
It stood out to me, because I feel like I hear it a lot when photographer make reference to their work. 
Or to printed images. Or to photography in general.

And here's where I'm out.

I'm not passionate about photography.

Sorry, peeps.
(Click here if you would like to un-book me as your upcoming wedding or family photographer! ha!
But sorry if you actually clicked there because it wasn't for real.)

Don't get me wrong. I love photography. I love shooting. I love capturing families together, and babies smiling and couples getting married. 
I love it all.
But I am just not passionate about it.

Passionate means expressing strong emotions or beliefs.

I do not have strong beliefs about a picture of a mom and her son.
But you know what I do have a strong belief about?
That relationship with a mom and her son.

Totally different. I mean totally.
I am not going to spend hours figuring out how to capture them just right when I could spend hours writing and encouraging that mom on how to build a solid relationship with her son!

This is why I have honestly come to the point in my life where I am not even marketing my business at all, or getting stressed about whether I have bookings or I don't.
I mean, I'm not being lazy. I do think it's important to do things well, and to run things professionally. I think it is God-honoring to run a successful business!
But I just don't want to invest so much time and money into something that I am not passionate about!
I don't want to invest thousands of dollars on workshops. I don't want to invest hours and hours of time on perfecting my website and updating my gear.

I do believe you can be passionate about more than one thing at at time.

I am beyond passionate about relationships... Good, healthy, godly relationships.
I am passionate about teaching parents how to raise godly children.
I am passionate about helping people understand their need for Jesus.
I am passionate about teaching teenagers how to be leaders.
I am passionate about serving others.
I am passionate about ice cream. Whoops...how did that slip in there?
I am passionate about being so busy serving that I don't have time to be complaining.
I am passionate about my relationship with God.

So again. I do believe you can be passionate about more than one thing at a time.
But still. 
I don't want to ever get so caught up in my other *still important* but not as important things, that I suddenly realize I haven't shared the Gospel with someone lately.

I don't want to spend so much time perfecting my website that I realize that I haven't left any hours left in the day to serve.

I don't want to get so busy making sure I am capturing that family session in just the right lighting and just the right composition that I stop encouraging a mom in how to raise those kids.

I want to be so passionate about the things that have eternal value that everything else about my business and the less important things in life just kind of follow along.

And that is where I'm at right now.
I am realizing the truth of this verse.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Do you get the order there?
Where I invest my money the most...that's where my heart is going to be.
Not the other way around.
When I start losing focus of that very fact I have got to slow myself down.

I think it's the same with my time.
If I invest hours and hours and hours of time into something? That's where my heart goes.

I get it. 
Photographs are priceless. And I believe it.
That's why I just put a big order in for pictures of my family to hang on the wall.
I think it's important.
But it is not the most important.

What are you passionate about?
Where is your treasure? 
Make sure you aren't getting side tracked and becoming passionate about the wrong things...
The kinds of things that aren't going to last.

So the reason I'm not passionate about photography? 
Because I'm way more passionate about my relationship with God and finding out what He wants me to be spending my time doing.
And actually? I think that can make my photography even better! 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Christopher & Karen ~ New Hampshire Wedding Photography

I have known Christopher for about 12 years.
He has become really close to my family over the years. He has had many extremely difficult trials in his life, and I have shed many tears and heart felt prayers for him over the years. I remember many times me and Adam would try and encourage him, he always managed to uplift and encourage us!
I was thrilled when he introduced us to Karen, and I had the privilege of getting to know her as well!
They make a beautiful couple and it is very clear that they are going to do great things for God together!
Their wedding was a beautiful, worshipful experience and it was such an honor to be a part of it.

Adam was a groomsman, so I had to find a fill in as my second shooter!
I had Rebekah and Bonnie help me out and they did an absolutely amazing job!
They were able to get some awesome shots throughout the day, and I am very thankful for everything they added to the day.

Here are some of my favorites from their day.

Congratulations to both of you. I could not be more happy to see you together, and I will continue to pray God's blessings and favor over your life together.
Love you both!

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