Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'm still here!!!

I didn't die. I swear.
But I don't really have a good excuse for not posting.
I guess I just haven't had much time.
So here's a short one to let you know I'm still around. And taking pictures. And enjoying my hilarious kids. And loving my amazing husband.
On a short side note, I realized tomorrow is New Year's Eve just a few hours ago. I'm officially old.
To redeem my ridiculously ancient self, I'll show you a couple of picture of one of my favorite young'uns. There's more to come soon. I promise. (Cross my heart)

Um, yeah. I'm in love with him. And his hugs and open-mouthed slobbery kisses. One could say that I'm wrapped. Hopefully all that cuteness bought your forgiveness...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A few thoughts...

I've been overwhelmed by so many beautiful people in front of my camera and so many thoughts to share that I haven't posted. Yeah, I know. Kind of backwards. So I thought instead of stringing together words in what I hope is a somewhat pleasing manner, I'll just share a few things that struck me in the past week.

When you run into a door, it is most likely the door's fault. Give the door a timeout. (My little lady literally did this. Her exact words after running into said door, "Time out, door!")

Dance. Any time. All the time. And don't worry what other people think - just dance.

Snuggles with your favorite girl, popcorn, and a capella music courtesy of the show, "The Sing Off" is a recipe for great memories.

I need a new computer with more storage... Sometimes our Mac gets upset with all the work I want to do on it...

The elephant noise coming from your favorite little man can entertain you for hours... And yet, if someone my age did it, I would not be entertained at all.

The story of Jesus' birth is kind of scandalous. I never realized it until I tried reading and explaining it to my three year old. More on this later...

Presents do not wrap themselves, no matter how much you wish they would.

Well, there's a lot more to share and more pictures to show, but for now, I'm going to have a chocolate milk date with the cutest little three year old I know. And because pictures make everything better... Here's two of my favorite little people:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Love at first click...

We'd had several phone conversations and played phone tag a few times. And I already knew I was going to love spending time with her. She's the kind of client that makes you ridiculously thrilled to answer your phone. You already feel like she's a good friend.
When I walked in and first officially met the rest of her family, I was in love. Her husband was so kind and gracious. And he's the kind of guy that couldn't begin to hide his love for the two beautiful ladies in his life. (And he's patient seeing as he helped me completely rearrange their living room numerous times)
And their little lady? Um, there are not words. She oozes a nearly lethal combination of cuteness and sweetness. I fell in love, I'm not gonna lie. (I mentioned her to Jayden, so we'll see if anything develops down the road)
So, incredible Moline family, thank you for letting me join your family. Capturing your giggles, snuggles, kisses and stolen glances was such an honor. And hanging out with you? I loved it. Thank you for your hospitality, your willingness to rearrange your furniture and your transparent adoration of one another. You all rock.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I don't really know who even reads this crazy compilation of stories and pictures of my awesome family, thoughts on life and pictures of BEAUTIFUL people who are wiling to step in front of my camera, but in light of that, I wanted to share something special with you...
Several artists within our church got together and tried to help us experience Advent (the season of celebrating and entering into the experience of what it was like to wait for Jesus to come) in a new way. Through their mediums they helped us understand the darkness and what it meant for Jesus to enter the scene as the light of the world.
One of them struck me. Like, I couldn't take my eyes off of it. It was an exhibit called "Secrets". When you went back in to view the piece that was nearly hidden in the back corner, you saw something standing nearly 3 feet tall that was enclosed by fabric. I walked over beside the piece and looked down in. This is what I saw.

Chains and barbed wire came together to create a sea of entanglement. I couldn't get the image out of my head. I walked away and started to wonder what would happen when we got to the light portion of the experience. What are they going to do with that? Is there another piece waiting to replace it? Would the chains be gone?

That's what. Exposed. Messy. Open. Out there. It wasn't completely fixed at that moment. It wasn't clean and neat and pretty. It was a mess, but it wasn't hiding anymore. A light shown onto it illuminating all that had been hidden and somehow also made it beautiful.

I will draw no conclusions for you. That's not the point of this post. It just spoke to me in a way I can't seem to put words around and I just felt like I should share it with you. Thank you, Emma for sharing it with our church. And for prompting me to put it all out there in my own life instead of trying to hide, because with the entrance of the Light of the World, all the rules have changed and I don't have to hide anymore. You rock, lady.

Monday, December 14, 2009


There is so much to post and so little time...
So in lieu of a typical post, I'll share a small snippet. Quite honestly, you might enjoy this more anyway.

Here's a conversation that I had last night with my favorite little lady while we were playing doctor and taking each others' temperature...

Hannah: Can you do the other one? My other armpit has a favor...
Me: You mean a fever or a favor?
Hannah: A favor. (Said in that, "Duh, mom" voice)
Me: Okay, just checking...

I love her. And my little J-man.
Hope this post finds you having a rock awesome day. Stay tuned for more stories, thoughts and pictures...

Speaking of's one of the little lady herself...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Banjos, Guitars and lots of Love

It’s in the way he looks at her. It’s in their shared glances, their warm embrace, the tender placement of his hand on her back. It’s in the giggles, the tender cheek kisses and the stolen glances they shower on their precious little ladies.
It’s love.
Even a couple of hours with them leaves you completely aware that you want love like that in your life. And it leaves you in awe of the beauty of a family. The perfectly imperfect mesh of M&M’s, diapers, music and Elmo’s World that is the stuff of life…
We are blessed to call this precious family our friends. They are ridiculously talented. They are composers, guitarists, banjo-enthusiasts, writers, baristas (okay, well only Devin, but when your spouse works there, you learn how to throw down a good cup of coffee…) and all around awesome people. Their little ladies fill a room with excitement, mad dancing skills and enough adorableness to stop traffic.
They are part of the leadership of our church and I cannot tell you how often I thank God for bringing them here. They have filled our hearts with greater wonder and awe for God. Their humble honesty has provided open spaces for us to stop hiding behind fake facades. Their servanthood has blessed us all. And their children... Well, see for yourself how much joy they’ve brought everyone… (And I love seeing the friendship between my little Hannah and Nadia. And Jayden seems to have a thing for Mardi…this could get interesting.)
So…thank you, precious friends for carving out some time to be in front of my camera – especially on such a special day. Andrea, happy birthday again. I don’t know if I could put words around how grateful I am that God brought you into this world and then brought you to Chicago where I could have the privilege of knowing you.

I am so in love with this picture and these people...

Nadia, you get 10,000 cute points

They have a banjo hanging on their wall. It does not get cooler than that. Except to hear her play it...

So Aun, Anthropologie called and they want you to model...

Girl, you are gorgeous...

More pictures to come, but a certain little man who has my heart wrapped around his finger decided to wake up from his nap. I'm off to play blocks, tickle his belly and kiss him far too many times...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Drum Roll Please...

There are not words. None.
When I first had the idea of doing a free photos session contest as a chance to have people share their story, I was excited. I couldn't wait to see who people nominated and what they would share.
On Wednesday of last week I was starting to doubt myself as a photographer, but I was hoping at least one person would share part of their story. That would be fine. Even if it was just one person...
Five people bared their lives in such beautiful ways, I found tears forming in my eyes. Their stories were beautiful, brutal, honest, exposed and yet full of hope. I was blown away. People were so raw and the beauty in the sharing of their stories stirred up so much within me.
And then I realized...I'm supposed to choose a winner.
Each story was different. And quite honestly, there's no comparing stories. Every person's story is beautiful and unique. So...
They all win.
Yep, executive decision made.
So...Jana, you're parents will be signed up for a free photo shoot on my next trip to Louisville, as well as Jessica and her family. And Megan, that session you signed up's free. And Mary Ellen, your pictures are being taken. And I couldn't be more honored, or more excited.
So ladies, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story. I cannot tell you how completely amazing it was to read each one and to think that you would share so honestly and so beautifully. Thank you for not backing away from the difficult, the painful and the challenge, but in facing it, finding the sacred, the beautiful...the life. Please keep sharing your stories. They need to be told. We need to hear them. And I'm honored that I got to read them and enter into those moments through your lens. Now I can't wait to put you guys in front of mine...

So...if you haven't already, head over to the discussion board on my facebook page and read the entries. And though the contest is over, if you're up for it, share your story. I read them all, probably at least three times. And I cannot tell you how much I love hearing more about your life.
And precious winners, we'll be in touch and be scheduling everything! I'm excited!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


She's sitting in a waiting room. Her life has basically been lived in the doctor's office for the past few months. Today she sits waiting...hoping...praying to know why her body has decided to complicate her life in such a way.
Last night we sat across from each other, Christmas-y red cups in hand and some sort of Holiday mix playing in the background. (I know this, I'm ADD.) I looked into her face and couldn't believe that I had the privilege of sitting across from her. I sat in disbelief that God would give me a friend so genuine, a friend so dedicated, a friend so beautifully honest, and a friend that has faced such a ridiculously rough road for her 20-something years of life thus far and holds within her a beauty that only hardship, forgiveness and God's faithfulness can yield. And as we both found tears welling up as we visited the reality of the unknown in her life and the scariness of it all, we exchanged that knowing glance.
God is here. She will find some way to put one foot in front of the other. She will hurt, she will cry, she will accept help and she will wrestle through all of this with a large group of people who love her. People who realize we need her in our lives. People who realize that she has so much to teach us about the beauty and the sacred in life.
I looked deep into her eyes and told her, "I don't think this is forever."
Right now, she is sitting and waiting to hear for sure what disease is impacting her body. The next few months will likely be filled with new medications, lifestyle adjustments and likely time in physical therapy. The doctors may pronounce that her body is starting a lifetime of fighting itself and has just recently decided to show her. But there is hope. Because quite honestly, God can heal her. And though I don't sense from talking with Him that it will be right now, as odd as it sounds, I believe He is going to one day.
My friend humbles me to the core. You know who you are. So let it be said, thank you. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you that you're such a good friend that I know you're probably reading this because you care about me and for some reason you are gracious enough to read my scatter-brained musings on life. Thank you for the way you love my daughter and show her what love looks like. Thank you for making my family your own. Thank you for the hard work you have done in life to forgive. You have no idea how often I find myself in tears as I see in you the beauty of what it means to be free. You could be so bitter, you could be so disheartened with all that life has dealt you, but are free. You are free to love and dance and ridiculously bless everyone you come in contact with. I want to live so much more like you do. I sometimes tear up as I thank God for all that He has faithfully brought you through. Your life has literally been a living Hell so many times, and yet you have survived and you have wrestled and you have come out reminding everyone around you of the beauty He has to offer. Thank you. Thank you that you'd let me share life with you. I can't even begin to put words around how much you mean to me. Thank you, friend. And thank you that even as you sit waiting for a life-altering diagnosis, you are probably making the entire medical staff laugh and enjoy their day a little bit more just as you are yourself around them. Gosh, I adore you.
Today I sit waiting. Computer at my fingertips, brain unable to think of anything except her. And I wait.
So, if you're reading this, know that there is hope. Because my friend knows this. Know that God is there, because my friend would want you to know that. And laugh, because my friend would recommend it on a daily basis. To aid the laughter, here's a little picture for you. My friend graciously loves my kids and I think she will enjoy this. So friend, this is for you. And hopefully other will enjoy it as well...

As my friend would say...Bring it on. Especially when you've got ear muffs on...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To Theo...

He's consistent. He's steady. He is loving when I give him absolutely no reason to be. He does all the tasks that I find annoying. He makes me laugh when I feel like I can't go on. He is the right brain of all that I do. He never hesitates to find my keys. He is my second shooter for weddings and basically makes it insanely wonderful for me, WHILE capturing beautiful images. He feeds children and reads books in ridiculously hilarious voices that captivate us all. He is amazing.
And I love him.
Thank you, Ted. I don't say it enough, but I have no idea what I would do without you. Thank you for entering my crazy world and loving me enough to stick around even when I don't give you a good reason to do so. Thank you for encouraging me, believing in me, reminding me and teaching me. Gosh I don't know what I'd do without you. You are my best friend, the love of my life and the king of hilarity. I cherish that I get to go through life with you. The fact that you choose me brings me to tears. I love you. I cannot wait for more shared laughs, more sweet kisses (sorry if my brothers read this...) and more joy shared with our crazy, wonderful children. (And hopefully less whining...) Thank you. Thank you for being you in my life. You're amazing.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A little snapshot

I have had a nearly constant headache for three days. Therefore I became non-existent in the blog world. Instead of piecing together my thoughts, here's a few pictures to show you the joy that's been on my computer screen and a sneak peek of what is to come...

One day my headache will be gone. Until then, I'm gonna go resurrect our Christmas tree and make special cookies with my adorable family. You all rock. And don't forget!!! Enter your story for a chance to win a free photo session!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Everyone has a story. Some are full of adventure, some heart-ache, some full of longing, others full of love. And the best stories probably have a combination of all these and more.
I've said it before, but the truth is, I LOVE stories. People's stories to be exact. I love hearing who they are and learning from them and their experience.
I also love sharing those stories with others.
And so, I want to hear some stories...

I am giving away a FREE PHOTO SESSION, my friends. I am so excited it's out of control. And here's your part - you get to share the stories, whether it's your story or the story of a friend that you would like to nominate.

The winner will be the story that moves us the most, whether that's to laughter, tears or a great combination of the two.

Here's the rules though:

The story you share of yourself or the person you nominate must be TRUE.

The session will have to be conducted in one of the following areas: the greater Chicago area, the Louisville area or the Grand Rapids area. (Those are the places we visit most frequently and can accommodate easily. And yes, I seriously hope I can add California to that list one day. California dreamin'...)

To enter, you need to go to my facebook fan page and share your story there. That way it's all in one place! If you're not on facebook though, I will try to keep an eye out for comments on the blog.

All entries must be received by December 4. The winner will be announced the following week.

The winner will receive a free photo session, 1 8x10 of their choice, 25% off a gallery wrap and a cookie. Because, let's be honest, cookies make everything THAT much better. (Unless you're diabetic...)

Can't wait to hear your story!!!
Go enter NOW!!! Right here...

And just for fun, here's a picture from a shoot I did this morning, in Louisville of a little man who's story began 3 months ago...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My heart

Legs crossed. Two and a half pump nonfat mocha with one pump peppermint in a cheery red cup placed nicely within reach. (Working at Starbucks forever ruins you from normal drink orders) Cozy North Face fleece (courtesy of my mother-in-law who longs to help me learn how to be warm in the winter) wrapped around my body. Handsome husband seated with computer in lap next to me, Michael Buble serenading me in the background. Red (and green) aproned baristas steaming milks and pouring shots.
Here I sit. I am blessed.
My mind however continually comes back to the absence. The absence of giggles. The absence of diapers. The absence of wondering what random song she’ll sing next. The absence of chocolate milk dates over a Disney Princess game of Memory. The absence of onesies covering a big-bellied baby that hardly ever stops smiling. The absence of all the interruptions, all the chaos, all the crawling, all the “no sir” and “no ma’ams.” The absence of little people hugs, smiles and “mommy, I love yous.”
You see, this morning my eyes happened to fall on the frame of a precious little newborn covered in brown and blue. It was over. Tears started to form and the mom-dar has been on high alert all day.
The truth is, our time down here has been beautiful. We were able to work hard and serve youth workers, which is a ridiculous honor. (I love people who realize how important, amazing and precious youth are) I was given the honor of taking pictures of some historic events for the organization that runs this conference. I had a date with two of my favorite little girls in the world and they helped improve my fashion sense. (Seriously, if my niece Tay decides to follow through with a fashion line, it’s going to be amazing. Watch for her in a few years) I had eye-opening, engaging, beautiful, sacred conversations with both of my incredible sisters-in-law. I had the privilege of watching one of my brothers teach. I got to meet some of my nieces and nephew’s friends over Frosty’s. And I’ve had time with an incredible man who has wrecked my life with his love and kindness in the most insanely beautiful way. I’ve loved it.
But my heart has forever been ruined by these two precious little ones who currently hold my love hostage. And I love it. My heart will always be entangled with all that concerns them and I love it. It is good to miss them. And it is good to know that they will always own my heart.
So in this moment of joy and sorrow that comes as I see all that I have and all that I don’t, I’m happy. And grateful. I’m a screwball, and yet, God has flooded my life with all this beauty. It’s a good day.

Do you see why I'm so smitten?

Nothing but trouble...and the best kind of trouble in the world. (She had stolen Jayden's paci...)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On the road again...

I'm in the heartland of country music, about 45 minutes from my childhood home. (Okay, ONE of my childhood homes. We moved a lot) We're headed on a midnight train to Georgia...that is if you consider our Toyota Highlander a train. And midnight closely resembles noon. (Can we tell I'm a little nutty from driving?)
We're headed to visit some family, take some pictures and volunteer at the National Youth Worker's Convention in Atlanta, GA. We're thrilled, but my heart is also aching. My little babies are under the tender loving care of my amazing parents. And though I know they're having an amazing time and they'll be in more than capable hands, I miss them. I miss the giggles, the smiles and the random bursts of song. But I am treasuring some one-on-one time with that handsome man I married. (Even though he slept for the first three hours of our trip while I drove. Luckily I still think his snoring is slightly cute...)
So as I can, I'll keep you updated on our travels, what I'm learning and some stories of the amazing people that step in front of my camera. And I'll probably write sentimental, sweet, warm-fuzzy filled words about my precious, adorable, wonderful little kids. Because I can.

And here's a little taste of an adorable family that stepped in front of my camera. There is so much more to come of them, but for the moment, I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. They're precious. (But he's man-precious, of course)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Santa came to visit...

If I could get away with it, I would probably steal him. Okay, not steal him. That's creepy. But I would definitely soak up every ounce of cuteness that he has to offer. And he has a lot to offer.
I basically want Mr. Cam to be my best friend. He's all kinds of precious, full of smiles and giggles, and he may be the second most adorable little boy I know. (I have to hold out for my little Jayden...)
This is my second time hanging out with Mr. Cam and his BEAUTIFUL mommy, Nicole. And I never ever want my time with them to end. (Luckily I work with Nicole on Thursdays at the spa...) You can see how adorable he was at just a few weeks old if you think you can handle the extreme cuteness factor. I'm warning you now, you will instantaneously want another baby after viewing these pictures. You've been warned...

Yes, I'm in love with this Santa

Let's be honest, sometimes we feel this way around Christmas...

Yes, I am in love with him

How sweet are they?!?!?

Santa's helper sacked out...