My Photography: Letting God Take the Lead

I updated my portfolio last night and I had a moment that overcame me; I was completely overwhelmed and humbled. All those pictures staring back at me – old friends, family members, loved ones and new acquaintances – that have invited me in to their private lives to capture moments that are important and intimate to them. How has this happened?

When I started my photography years ago, I never set out to do this specifically. It was simply a creative outlet that I enjoyed and seemed to sort of have a knack for. I’ve struggled this past year figuring out its place in my life and I’ve given up trying to work it out. I decided that every snap I take, I’ll just offer it up to God and let Him decide where to take me. I have always wanted to find a way to give back to people that I am passionate about…and I have discovered that I truly enjoy giving this gift to my clients and help them capture the moments that mean the most to them. There is so much joy sharing in their joy! This is one thing in my life that I have truly let God take the lead on and it has taken on a wonderful life of its own. That tends to happen when God has control and I’m trusting His plan for me completely.

Then I look to a full calendar ahead and there is still so much more to come in this new season. How lucky am I? Seriously, what an amazing and totally unexpected blessing this has been and I am incredibly thankful for its presence in my life. So for now, I’m just going to keep moving forward and enjoy every shoot I do and photograph I snap.



Our Great Lake

Last week while we were on our vacation, my husband made an off-hand, wistful comment of, “Why don’t we move up here and live on the lake?” I agreed with him – how great would that be? Then I remembered that we literally live 3 minutes from our very own lake. Hm.

Why was that so easy to forget?

As kids, my mom took us to the lake all the time. She grew-up in Lorain and the lake was like her backyard. Sure, we never belonged to a fancy yacht club or owned a million-dollar lakeside mansion. But did we need to?  We visited Put-In-Bay, camped on Kelly’s Island, ate icecream at Huntington and watched 4th of July fireworks at Lakeview. It’s easy to be a  negative-nancy and talk about how dirty, murky and contaminated our lake is, but where is all our pride? It’s great to see so much effort and love going into cherishing our lake, protecting its ecosystem, clearing out the litter and garbage…and I think the time for a lake revival is here!

The water isn’t always bluer on another lake

So thinking about how much we take Lake Erie for granted, I made a promise to enjoy our own beautiful Great Lake more fully and thoroughly. This doesn’t have to mean buying a big yacht and traveling the seas but just delighting in the fact that we have one of God’s great lakes right here in Northeast Ohio.

Yes, summer is coming to an end but we didn’t let that stop us. Today we spent our morning in Vermilion at the Main Street Beach. We had the beach to ourselves and we collected rocks and played in the sand. The sun was shining and all was right in our piece of the world.

Tiny feet are my favorite

Baby’s precious, tiny feet make me happy and I love photographing them!

I’m going to one day miss the pitter-patter of little feet slapping against our wood floors as my kids run about the house. I’m going to miss the first wobbly steps they take on these little feet of theirs, so unsure of themselves but so determined to just…go. Their Frankenstein-like walking, unbalanced but happy they are finally moving. I’m going to miss all the tiny socks that never seem to match each other after the laundry is done. Where do all these socks go? I am going to miss their smooth, chubby feet, not yet roughened from the earth, thick, pink and perfect.

Have I mentioned how much I love babies??

Happy Monday, wherever your feet may carry you today 🙂

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Our Adventures in Michigan

It’s Sunday evening at home and I am gearing up for a new week with laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and reviewing our calendar. We just saw my husband off on another airplane, this time west to Boise for the week. I can’t help feel a little wistful that my vacation is officially coming to an end. Reality begins again very early tomorrow morning and I’m left to face it by myself.

My family just returned from a week in Michigan, enjoying the adventures that “America’s High Five” has to offer. It was blissful, relaxing, peaceful and yet energizing, rejuvenating, inspiring all at the same time. It was perfect. I didn’t want to leave.

We visited Grand Rapids and Saugatuck the first couple of days then drove up to the Upper Peninsula and spent the rest of the week in a cabin on Fisher Lake in Glen Arbor that belongs to a family member of my husband’s. There are so many lakes and bays in this whole area, making the water visible and accessible from pretty much any where you go. Every turn of the road offers a new breathtaking view of the blue, crystal clear lake and I couldn’t get enough of it. Every town is a coastal town, giving the trip a very nautical, seaside feel and I fell in love with the entire vacation. What is it about water that automatically relaxes me? We must go back.

We explored Glen Arbor and Glen Haven, spent time in Leland, a historic fishing town, and Traverse City, one of the larger cities in the area. We didn’t watch a single minute of t.v. and it was truly amazing. The air was so crisp and clear and my kids thrived being outdoors all day long for an entire week. We went boating, kayaking, biking, canoeing and swimming. We played on the beach and visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We went on hikes and read books on a hammock next to the lake. We ate lots of local sea food and not nearly enough ice cream. We shopped at local galleries, artisan shops and vendors. We shopped at a apothecary shop and a lavender oil and soap company that was incredibly inspiring and amazing. We visited museums and historical landmarks. We made a quick stop on the way home in Frankenmuth and were completely overwhelmed by Bronner’s.

It was perfect. I didn’t want to leave. We must go back.

Submission: Reverence for Christ

Many women gasp when they hear the word submission. The truth is that submission is a Biblical concept and without it there would be no Salvation and no personal relationship with God. You see, a very tender and beautiful act of submission occurred moments before Jesus was betrayed. He sat in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to His Father, His God, His everything. As blood dripped from His skin from the anguish of knowing what would be unleashed upon Him, Jesus fell face down on the ground and uttered these words:

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

Submission is a posture of the heart translated through behavior. It is a loving response to leadership and respecting the order which God has placed. Ephesians 5 alludes to God’s order for marriage, stating that a husband and wife should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Submission does not suggest that the wife is a “doormat” as some tend to think. God calls both the husband and wife to submit to each other equally. A beautiful quote by Matthew Henry depicts the purpose of how God created woman, which states:

“Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”

Woman was fashioned from the very side of man, designed with beauty and honor as man’s beloved helper. God gave man the incredible gift of companionship through marriage, thus marking the beginning of an amazing love story. Although man and woman were both created equal in God’s image, there is still order.

You see, Christ leads the church through love and her response is submission to Him. In marriage the husband mirrors Christ as he leads his wife and family through love, her response is submission to him. Why? Because that is the way God ordered it, and God’s ways are perfect!

Submission is tender and beautiful.

— Jennifer Smith, Wife After God

My Pro-Life Ice Bucket Challenge

I knew this day would inevitably come – I finally got nominated to do the ALS Bucket Challenge by my brother-in-law today.  I’ve seen video after video fill up my Facebook news feed and requests to donate to the cause ( I’ve also seen people actually grumble about the videos clogging up with their feeds that would normally be filled with complaints, negativity, celebrity nonsense, selfies, and clutter and noise. I love that this has gone viral and brought so much attention and money to actually HELPING people who really and truly need it.

I’ll admit, I know very little about ALS (or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and I can’t even begin to empathize with the people who suffer from it or the caretakers who lovingly support and care for these people around the clock. I won’t even pretend to be an expert or say I’ve given this disease much thought before this campaign started. So naturally, I wanted to investigate into what I’m exactly donating towards and see where all this campaign’s success was going.

Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t one I could stand behind.

I’ve never been the silent type when it comes to my faith and it’s no secret that I’m adamantly pro-life so this ALS bucket challenge is no different for me. In 2013, contributed over $500,000 to NEALS (Northeast ALS Consortium) and I’m sure that dollar amount will be much higher with all their fundraising success this year.

Here’s where the problem for me lies – NEALS conducts embryonic stem cell research on electively aborted babies past the 8-week pregnancy mark. Research on aborted babies. It actually made me sick to my stomach when I read this. All those unwanted babies, not only treated like disposable garbage by their own mothers but then passed along to be dissected and experimented on without their own consent. All those precious tiny toes and little  fingers, kissable chubby cheeks and bubbly giggles, small hearts that will never beat in this world and curious eyes that will never see their mother’s face. Not okay.

JP2Instead, my donation for ALS will be going towards John Paul II Medical Research Institute, an organization that is dedicated to pro-life ethical research for ALS and many other neurological diseases. People like this are the reasons we are doing this and the reason why research is so important – this is a deadly, scary disease and it affects real people.

But I urge you, no matter where your donations dollar goes, to investigate how and where your money is being used and make sure it aligns with your own beliefs. Don’t donate just to donate but put your dollar into something you truly believe in. For me, it’ll always be LIFE.

Without further ado, here’s my video 🙂


Cozi: our new Family Organizer

Do you ever have one of those moments when you look at your calendar and just feel overwhelmed? Heavy? Disorganized?

I went through that over the weekend when I was single-moming it, had 2 photo shoots, my husband traveling, a project due for my childhood church…and my laptop completely crashed. So  I decided to take control over our family’s schedule because being disorganized is a feeling I am not use to and is highly avoidable.

My husband travels somewhat often for work, usually 2-3 a month or more but never regularly or consistently so I have problems keeping track of his schedule. Fall gymnastics, swimming and story times for the kids are starting back up and I am scheduling photo shoots through the end of the fall season already – so many wonderful blessings in our lives! But so many things to keep track of…

Problem solved!

My husband and I downloaded a shared family organizer/calendar app called Cozi and we paid the extra $29 for the yearly subscription because the extra “Gold” features are worth it for us and I hate all the pop-up ads that kept appearing with the free version.

We haven’t delved into all the detail too much and I’m sure there are so many calendars out there that do the same things, but we had to just pick one. I already love that we are able to create users for each family member (including our pup!) and color code our calendar depending on who’s event it is. It makes it easy to read and see what exactly is going on and reminders can be sent to any of the users so nothing is ever forgotten. As my husband makes changes to his calendar, I am able to see the updates in real-time on my calendar. There are also to-do lists for my ever-turning brain and a grocery list which is so convenient when one of us is doing the shopping.

With the month of September pretty much booked up with a vacation, work trips, photo shoots, weddings and classes, we will be putting Cozi through the test for sure.

Let’s do this!