nathan+samantha

Sam is my cousin so naturally I was excited to have something to do besides be in the family photos on her wedding day. anyone else hate small talk… so I jumped at the opportunity to be her photographer. knowing her day would be full of fun, simplicity, and a whole lot of love. Sam is down to earth, kind, and always so joyful. When I met nathan over memorial day he seemed confident yet humble, truly interested in the people around him, and kind. I was so excited to see what would come of their relationship and only a couple months later here we are, so much beauty and joy.
Nate and Sam, sincerely wishing you so many days as full as this one and so many nights full of this much love.

Venue- Belleview Meadows- Fountain Inn, SC
Florist- Sherry Cooper
Suit- Mens Wearhouse
Bridal Gown- Lulus
Bridsmaids dresses- venus
Makeup artist- Key @key_mari

alexis+regan

alexis was sweet from the get go, when she reached out she just seemed so excited to be married to this man who won her heart. she seemed to have a lot of respect for him and a lot of love for her family. she seemed so at peace and calm on her wedding day and regan he is a truck load of fun and passion. they seemed to complement so well and I have no doubt they will be better together.

venue- villa montez, tyler tx
florals- lindale floral shop
bridal gown- davids bridal
his suit- men’s warehouse

alan+taylor- Yew Dell Botanical Gardens

venue is Yew Dell Botanical Gardens in Louisville Kentucky
second photographer is Monica Becht at Monica Becht Photography
make up by Kelsey Fell
hair by tangled salon in New Albany Indiana
grooms & groomsmen Tux by The Black Tux
brides dress by Regiss Bridal
bridesmaids dresses by Renz Rags on Etsy
flowers by Merci Bouquet
event planner- White Flower Weddings// Tiara Fowler

aaron+stephanie

backyard wedding in bowling green, kentucky

there was so much rain this day, but stephanie & aaron both just took it as a blessing and embraced it in every way. which made capturing this sweet, simple, and beautiful wedding such a joy.

ian+emma

venue: corydon indiana fairgrounds
second photographer: Destiny Smith Photography

this wedding was timeless, intentional, and full of so much fun. emma and ian are the sweetest and I am so honored to have captured their special day

taylor + allie| rustic grace estate

I've met Allie a couple times over the years through a dear friend we share. Allie has always had a humble confidence, a distinct strength, and the sweetest disposition. When I heard she met a guy online and fell in love, I was surprised because it seemed outside of her comfort zone. it was, but praise Jesus she's also quite fearless. When I talked with Taylor and Allie over Skype I saw so much love and tenderness between them. they seemed to fit just right together. 
He also seemed strong, maybe it's because he is a firefighter/paramedic, which is super impressing... or maybe it was the fact that he didn't even mention it. He had a humble confidence, distinct strength, and sweet disposition too... with a side of silliness. puzzle pieces.
Skip forward to their wedding. every decoration was timeless, classy, and simple. every face was tearfully smiling. everyone talked about what a gift it was that they both took a chance on the internet to meet, one in a million they said. 
Allie was intentional in every minute, first looks with grandparents and fathers. Prayer time with all the women that made her who she had become... a daughter, cousin, friend, and a wife. all the while Taylor was outside shaking everyones hand, thanking every vendor (BY NAME) for being there and making this day happen for them.
they loved people well, they honored Christ in their day, and it was an immense joy to capture. thank you Allie & Taylor for yesterday. Have the best honeymoon and enjoy every second together. it's all a gift.

what's she eating? (what my toddler eats)

about 90% of the comments or questions I get on instagram stories have to do with what Eden is eating. We are all in the same boat, trying to get our toddlers to eat, eat well, and love eating well. So since we are in this together I am sharing some of the things I do to make sure eden gets her veggies, fat, and calcium. 

a couple of things about my grocery and eating habits so you know where I’m coming from. We eat about 80% organic. I like grass fed beef thats lean, grass fed and organic chicken, same goes for eggs, milk, fruit and veggies. 
We generally shop at Aldi, and I get most of the brands the carry. The main things I have to watch out for there are artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. I’m not perfect at eating, I’m not a nutritionist (although I have met with several throughout my life). 
When it comes to Eden, I’m not fearful of her eating honey nut cheerios, the occasional donut, or licking tim and I’s ice cream cone… I want her to love food, have a balanced diet, and appreciate all different kinds of foods… thats more or less my goal.

these meals are our normal week day eats. on weekends we have pancakes, donuts, and pizza from time to time. we also have left overs a lot for lunch.

BREAKFAST
oatmeal with fresh fruit (apples, sliced strawberries or bananas is our norm), cinnamon, and sometimes we throw in flaxseed or chia seeds. we also do raw honey sometimes… (because we share a lot and I like a little honey on mine)

Smoothies (EDENS FAVORITE THING)
the goal with smoothies is for her to get veggies and love them, we have 1 every day. Switch it up, use seasonal fruits add some greens and call it a meal. 

edens favorite recipes are:

  • 1 banana, handful of spinach, 10-15 blueberries, 1 cup almond milk. 
  • 1 apple, handful of kale, 1/2 avocado, 1 cup yogurt.

eden will drink any smoothie that has banana in it. so if she’s not feeling it, I just add a banana.

Eggs & toast
eden likes her eggs scrambled, little salt and pepper, and a little cheese (I normally use fresh mozzarella or goat cheese), and I sometimes add spinach. 
I normally make plain toast, sometimes I’ll top it with almond butter.

LUNCH

  • almond butter & jam with apple slices.
  • rice cake topped with almond butter, banana slices, dark chocolate chip, and cinnamon
  • cheese, avocado, black beans quesadilla.
  • we also make annies mac & cheese sometimes

DINNER

Eden loves; spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, rice, chicken, pork, and oddly enough spicy & seasoned foods.
She wont eat it if we aren’t or wont. So she normally have a variation or exactly what we are eating. This actually helps me eat healthier and it makes her feel apart of meal times. 
if you aren’t going to eat a boiled or microwaved hot dog…. why would your child? 
I mean some kids will but mine wont lol. So if you child doesn't like something that you’ve seen kids eat, try it… if you don’t like it, it makes sense that they wouldn’t.

SNACKS

  • sweet potato chips
  • banana chips (unsweetened)
  • veggie sticks
  • cheerios (plain-normally)
  • dried fruits
  • nuts
  • peanut butter balls (search them in pintrest, seriously we make these different each time and they are amazing snacks and healthy)
  • whatever is left over from her smoothies we make into popsicles (YUM)

 

Also, I know a lot of parents take the bland foods approach because they want their kids to like things with no seasoning and sugar… which is all well and good. but I don't like oatmeal plain with nothing, so I try to make things for eden in that mindset. I want her to like healthy foods. I want her to enjoy eating. I want her to desire variety in her diet. so thats that I make and offer. instead of making a meal for her and one for me, we eat the same things. I eat healthier so she will enjoy healthier food and allow her to have the donut hole from time to time. I think food is such a beautiful way to experience life, it’s a way to have change daily, and to celebrate all God has created. so instead of it being a continued battle, keep trying different things and have fun with it. Don’t get discouraged if you have to give your kid cheerios for lunch because she/he wont eat what you made them… it’s ok and you get to try again tomorrow. also, always try eating it first. that may save you from everything ending up on the floor.

 

my prayer for you, sweet eden

eden grace is ten months old. it’s beautiful the way her little personality is starting to shine through even more. she is learning and growing more everyday. 

she is always so proud of herself for new accomplishments, she loves trying new things, and she loves celebrating the new things she tries. she is strong, loves people, and has the sweetest disposition. she has so much joy, if you’ve seen any videos of her you’ve seen thejoyful screaming, the clapping, the smiles and contentment. 

she focuses so intently on the texture, shape, and sounds of things. she listens when we say no but sometimes gentle moves towards something again to see if we really meant what we said.

she loves playing independently but prefers for us to be within sight. she loves all of our friends and family and is ok with them holding her, it’s like she knows when we are comfortable or when we don’t really know people. 

she loves being outside, she can stare at the trees and touch everything on the ground for hours. she loves the dogs maybe more than she loves people haha. she is very reasonable about most things, she doesn't get dramatic about falling down or when someone takes something from her. EXCEPT food. there is no reasoning, no explaining, and no patience when it comes to food. she wants it all and she wants it now… and she wants yours too. but if you give her some of yours she will also feed you some of hers, yes I’ve been force fed soggy cheerios by my child. more than once.

she is such a good sleeper, still no pacifiers and not attached to any blankets or anything. the closest thing is george (the monkey) she likes to snuggle with him while she sleeps, but if he’s not there any animal will do. 

lastly, everything stops the moment she hears music. she loves everything about instruments and they always immediately have her attention, even if she is eating she pauses to acknowledge.

she claps her hands; says yay, baby, and momma. she has 8 teeth.

____________________

Eden means place of delight or paradise. she is that to us. she is a joy is every way. the sacrifices we make to be her parents are rubbish when compared to the pure joy that is our everyday as we watch her grow and become herself.

we named her eden for a constant reminder of perspective and hope. that one day all things will be made new. the sadness and hardship of this life will fade and there will be a new Eden. and we will be with God again in perfect communion. WE CAN’T WAIT.
Grace means unmerited favor. since our marriage Tim and I have gone through a lot externally. finances being the greatest thorn in our side. I am almost convinced that even dave ramsey would be baffled by the amount of curve balls thrown our way. but eden reminds me every day that we have favor from God. that grace is our through Christ that he knows what we need and when we need it and he fulfills it all. Grace upon grace, covering everything everyday. OH WHAT SWEET TRUTH.

the reason I say all of this is because I see her become her name as we speak it over her. 

the other day someone asked her name, and then she said… “I hope she doesn’t live up to her namesake” meaning the garden of eden. I kindly told the elderly lady that the garden did nothing wrong. The garden itself was paradise, a host of all things beautiful. a place where God could dwell in perfect unity with man. the garden was the creative expression of Gods perfection, earth was all the most beautiful things God could create to display his glory and the garden was the accumulation of that created beauty. the garden was beautiful, thats why sinful people like Adam, Eve, you, and I were cast out… but not forever. he will make all things new and right and beautiful again. so I hope she does live up to her name.

___________________

my prayer for you, Eden, is that you would be a host for beauty. that all people would be welcomed by you. the hurting, the struggling, the poor, the fortunate, the wealthy, all races would be loved by you. that you would display Gods beauty, that you would be a host of the nations. that you would point people towards something even more beautiful, Christ. that your joy and your determination would open doors for you. that the curiosity and love you have for life would carry you far to see and experience this world. and that you would be curious about people, that you would listen to their stories and share love and truth with all you find.

that I would nurture your love for the outdoors by exploring, trips, and time outside daily. I never want you to be more entertained by a phone or screen than by peoples stories and long walks through the woods. I pray that the side of you that is detail oriented finds the smallest glimpses of good and beauty in everything, that you never stop learning and figuring out new uses for things.

I pray that your ear for music increases and the joy you have making “music” now would bring your heart peace and delight. When words don’t have enough meaning, I’ve found those words set to music carry the correct weight. so I pray that you would always dance to the rhythm of life and sing your way through even the darkest of days

I hope that you are always so proud of yourself, that you have pure excitement over your accomplishments and those of others. I pray you love to celebrate life with others, that everyday you have a reason to throw a party, and that your sense of excitement never is tamed by social acceptance. 

I pray that your love for food in variety would always increase, that you would love trying new things and sharing the food you have with others. I pray that you would always experience the rest that comes with good sleep. Van Gough said “a day well spent brings happy sleep,” and I hope that you have endless well spent days.

I also pray that on hard days when your problems are bigger than teething, messed up schedules, or diaper rashes that you find comfort first in God… but also in your family. that you always want to cuddle up with me and read books. that you want to tell me about your woes and pray that God would have his way in your life and that he would heal and fix what needs fixing. 

I love you sweet girl and it’s my greatest honor to watch you become who God has so purposefully created you to be. I truly believe that all of these little things about you now are things that God has gifted you with and that as you grow up and, I pray, grow closer to Him; you will see that He is your greatest treasure, your greatest aim, and that He gives life the most precious meaning. 

thank you God for 10 months, amen.

ways being a mom has changed me: in only 6 months

Time
Time is no longer in normal hour or day increments; it's in feeding and napping increments. I feed her, we play, or run errands; while she naps I try to get things done... and then we do it all over again. I've had to lay aside my to do lists and goals (at times) because she can't wait. She can't process or reason yet, because I can I simply serve her.

Priorities
Time leads us straight to priorities because time is the greatest resource and wealth that we all share.

It's hard to give yourself fully but that's what motherhood requires. Now, I have a to-do list everyday and if I doesn't get done, I move it to tomorrow's to-do list, it's not procrastination anymore... it's simply prioritizing. I take less clients, say no a little more to prioritize my marriage, Eden, and still give the work I do accept 100%; that's what I believe is good for me personally in this season. If she's happy, I meet deadlines, and I am full of joy... life that day was successful. 

As opposed to my before Eden- busy worker, always starting new projects, and never leaving myself extra time self. Deadlines were met weeks in advance and finding time for just Tim and I was super easy. Now these things take a little more intentionality.

Celebration
I feel like now everything is worth throwing a party. Eating, holding her own bottle, when we get out of the house, when I finish my coffee, when she learned to roll over, when dad comes home, when she wakes up. Life became a celebration since the day she was born. 

I know I say this all the time but everything about her is a gift, an underserved gift. Gifts are given to celebrate and communicate love, God is the best gift giver. I am forever grateful for each moment and smile he allows me to enjoy with our babe.

Clothes
Probably 95% of the clothes I owned before Eden was born were black, white, grey, or denim... monochrome or neutrals were my jam. I remember when I went out on a limb and bought a red dress, you do weird things after you have a baby... I chopped my hair off and bought a red dress. Eden's eyes lit up and she kicked her feet and waved her hands wildly. I learned that she loved colors, now I'm drawn to them. She loves the contrast of black and stripes so I still got my roots though.

Marriage
This is the last but one of the most important ways I’ve (we’ve) changed. Our marriage, from my perspective, has only become more sweet by becoming parents. It's like we are a team; united in a common goal. We are united in selflessly serving someone else. We are united in loving and cherishing what God has created through us. Our priority is still us being on the same page, growing, and thriving... but we have a constant reminder that things aren't always about us. We've both grown so much individually because of Eden that together we have become stronger and more Christ-like. Becoming more selfless only makes marriage more beautiful and makes it more of a reflection of Christ.

oh motherhood. they say the days are long but the weeks are short. too true. thank you for what you are making me. God is oh so good.

baby things I love as a momma

I’m a pretty simplistic momma, I try to keep Eden entertained in simple ways and with little things. I like holistic approach to all things cry related. Eden has had a lot of tummy troubles but is overall a pretty simple babe. She loves baths & car rides. Still falls asleep wherever she pleases. We can lay her in her crib awake and she put herself to sleep, some times I rocker cause I want to. She mostly has made her own schedule and I just help her with that. With that all being said, there are things that I am SOOOO thankful for as a mom. When she's crying I want to help, and I want that help to be the best help I can give her. When she wants to play I wanna play with intentionality and purpose.

colic calm
it’s homeopathic gripe water…. and its a lifesaver! seriously. I’m so thankful for how quickly it can calm her stomach from gas or anything.

aiden and anais bib/burp cloth
this is a burp cloth that you can snap together to make a bib, Eden spit up more than a little so those little cute baby ones weren’t cutting it.

gentle baby essential oil
all day everyday! I have roll on mixtures with this for her tummy and feet. I defuse it. I use it myself. It’s a blend that helps with mood and overall well being for your babe and postpartum self.

essential oils (in general)
I put a couple of drops of lavender in her baths, I have a lavender and cedar wood mixture roll on for sleep. She gets little messages with it…. We use them everyday.

burts bees everything
I love all of their baby stuff. it’s not too girl or to boy-y. their towels and wash clothes are soft and durable. their clothes are also the softest ever and great quality. Eden skin has never had any adverse reactions to their washes or lotions.

CLOTHES & headbands
a lot of people ask me where I get Eden’s clothes, it’s a 85% chance they are from old navy online. I try to shop small, I would say it’s a goal but sometimes I get lazy or we are short on money. Shopping small is always better quality and most likely funding another momma to stay home SO I’M ALL ABOUT THAT. Eden almost always has on a head band, I love them and all of these are from small shops that I adore. links to some of my favorite little shops are below.
jean&june  alice&ames junepark fawn&forest  rylee&cru fourthandpierce 

amber teething necklace
because I think it works I’m thankful for it, and when your baby starts teething you will be willing to try anything so its worth at least that.

toys
Eden doesn’t have a lot of toys. We have been pretty intentional to not overstimulate her and also for our house not to become a giant playroom (mom fear). She has a fox that has different textures and a little easy to grab rattle that she started playing with under two months of age. everything else is just teeters and security blankets. She is pretty content to have those things, read a book, look at her self in the mirror, or have long "conversations" with mom.

mirror in the car
the one that stripes to the headrest so you can see your babe. I just really love it, mainly because I like to look back and see her normally gazing out the window or sleeping. It’s just a good little thing to give peace of mind while your driving.

box in the living room
one day Tim said maybe we should get a box to throw all of Edens stuff in really quick to clean up. genius! So not we just throw burp cloths, teethers, pacifiers, her toys, and blankets in there to declutter or for quick clean up.

swaddle blankets
you can never have too many. We used them when she was small enough to swaddle, we also use them to just throw on the floor for tummy time. 
little unicorn

Sling & Carrier
For those clingy day or just to hold them close I am SOOO thankful for the invention of baby carriers. I think it's good for momma baby bonding and trust building and they seem to enjoy it. In the Texas heat eden didn't really go for the ergo until recently. But I wore her in a sling for shopping and little chores around the house and she loves it. Link below.
wildbird

baby, mom bod, & marriage

Honestly, these are just thoughts. they don’t flow or really go together. If your reading this, sorry for the mess that is my brain. 

Everything is different now and everything constantly changes. I feel like my sense of time has completely shifted since being a mom. Everything is now in 3 hour increments and all my plans hang on the mood of the cutest and most inconstant little girl. The first 3 weeks I felt like I might completely loose my mind. It seemed she was always hungry, I was always tired, and nothing (and I do mean nothing) got done around the house. As we started to settle in, I could start working a little and planning tentatively. This is hard for my independent and selfish side. I like doing what needs to get done when I want to do it. But now its got to be during nap time. I have had to remind myself a million times that these moments are precious and one day I’m going to look back and want her to be this little. So I am trying to soak it all up. 

Can I just say how much this stage of her life is amazing. Everything to her is a little adventure, she is constantly soaking in her surroundings, learning new things, trying new things, and growing every single day. It’s incredible. I have never in my life stared or taken more pictures of something. As a photographer, that’s a big deal. She amazes me with her sense of wonder, she captures my heart with her gummy smile, she freaks me out a little with how strong she is already.

If there is one thing I could tell myself and that it would be impossible to forget. It would be to slow down and go at her pace. Don’t wish away the season, don’t hurry the milestones, soak is all in. This is the one time in your life that you will only have one child that is an infant. You have the time to cherish each moment and to go at her pace. Allow yourself to be a mom, to embrace this season, and to stare at her while she sleeps. Each moment is a gift, momma, cherish it.

I don’t struggle a lot with insecurity. I embrace beauty and see every person as very different and I think it’s amazing. But somehow now I have a harder time seeing beauty in this body I’m rediscovering. I look at my stomach, with marks of a BIG tummy that used to house a human being, I see my scar from where she came into this world, I see loose skin where it used to not be, my boobs (yes, I said that) are now leaking every couple hours and have been through a lot to help nourish our little one… and some days that’s really hard. On top of all of that, I chopped my hair off to make life a little easier, I think sometimes I hid behind my hair. Now this is me, in all my mom glory… 

There are days that I don’t have to remind myself that this was for her, it’s completely worth it, and slowly but surely things will get to a new normal… but most days it’s a struggle. Tim tells me I’m beautiful and I second guess it only because I don’t think that of myself… I look different. So how can both of us (my former self and current self) be beautiful. BECAUSE YOU ARE! it’s beautiful what God created our bodies to do. It’s actually the most amazing thing I’ve ever been apart of. Working out feels a little different and a lot slower but its happening. I want to be healthy for my little girl and myself. When I do see myself in the mirror and feel insecure I have a couple of times brought Eden into the bathroom with me and looked at us together. She’s the most beautiful little human I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I’m serious. She really is. And while it’s hard for me in this season at times to see myself as beautiful, I wouldn't get to be infatuated with her beauty if I wouldn’t have sacrificed my body for hers. Laying down our lives and bodies is a beautiful picture of what we are called to do as believers, motherhood is beautiful because it’s a sacrifice… everyday of a lot of things. But in your giving and sacrificing you are living out the gospel. that’s the most beautiful this about this new self that you are rediscovering.

It’s funny how when you remove sex from the marriage (for 6 weeks postpartum), add exhaustion, and some very real frustration you are tested in the moments where you need to be your strongest as a team. For Tim and I this resulted in a lot of conversations, apologies, and strategies. We more than ever had to be a team, some nights it was like we were on the gameshow survival and we had to work together in order to win (get sleep). We had to become team mates, which we aren’t super good at because we are both independent, have a hard time admitting weakness, and asking for help. For Tim this resulted in frustration, for me it was major emotional breakdowns. We slowly but surely adjusted ourselves to serve each other, so that our marriage remained the priority. In this season it’s the small things that strengthen your marriage, serving your spouse looks so different; changing the diaper so she doesn't have to get out of bed, making him breakfast cause your up anyway… giving the other a little more sleep time even though you really want them to give you more sleep time. My advice to myself and other new moms is communicate, for crying out loud. You have to be real with yourself and him. A sore, exhausted, frustrated momma is terrifying; I don’t know if there is a point of no return but I feel like I’ve been pretty dang close to it around 3am a time or two. Communicating with your spouse that taking a drive for 30 minutes would bless you, a nap, or not changing a diaper for a couple hours. Ask your spouse what you can do to serve them, even if it means more laundry or less you time. Marriage with an infant is the apex of give and take between the two of you. Remember that you are on the same team, that you are madly in love, laugh a lot, and remember that your best friends. For heavens sake; make out with your husband, pray together, and soak up all the firsts. That little one is a piece of both of you and it’s a miracle that you have each other to lean on during this very short time in your life. 

Momma, you're doing a great job. You’re really good looking, your baby is amazing, and your husband is the best thing that ever happened to you (besides Jesus). In this season that will pass to soon; slow down, watch with amazement, take a nap, make out, and laugh your face off.  These are the golden years.

Eden Grace: birth story

It starts at week 35. We went in for our check up and in our sonogram we learned Eden was breeched. We discussed my OB flipping her and the possibility of a c-section. I went home and researched every natural way to flip a breeched baby and, instantly, that became my full time job. Essential oils, yoga, feet above my head, walking, exercise ball... You name it I was at home doing it. 

At our 36 week appointment she was still breeched, we learned they couldn't flip her because her umbilical cord looked to be wrapped around her neck. With the chance of strangulation our only option was to schedule a c-section and hope that she flipped on her own so we could cancel it.

I continued doing everything to naturally flip her but ultimately wanted her to be safe. I had an very hard time understanding God because I knew that a natural birth is better for mom and baby generally speaking. I was angry because I knew He could flip her. I was confused because once again my plans may be changing and I knew nothing about a c-section. I also felt like I failed before labor even started, like I wasn't going to get to do what one of the things I was created to do. Scheduling a cesarean and writing an alternate birth plan was extremely hard for me. My original plan had zero intervention, showers, exercise balls, positions... the works.

I discussed the plan I had for a gentle cesarean and by grace alone my OB is one of the few in town that was comfortable with my desires. My main goal was to hold Eden immediately; sterile field or not I was holding that baby as soon as possible. 

Week by week went by and nothing changed. Sometimes I would see her sweet head move from one side on my stomach to the other like she was trying to get where she needed to be but couldn't. There were two very real times when I sat in my closet and cried out to God to flip her safety. But morning by morning I would see her sweet head as close to my heart as she could get.

On Tuesday April 19th we woke up at 4am, I showered and got ready because that's one of the perks with a c-section. We arrived at the hospital a little before 5:30am.

They checked one last time; Eden was happy, healthy, and absolutely still breeched.

They took me back to get a spinal and prep me for surgery. Tim held my hand as we waited to hear her sweet cry. Tim looked over the sheet to see her pulled out of me, with tears in his eyes he said she was beautiful. They immediately brought her over for skin to skin and delayed the newborn exam so I could hold her as they finished up. Those moments were some of the sweetest if my life. The hours after were filled with snuggles as well as some of the most intense recovery and weakness I've ever felt. But the pain and my inability to move didn't overshadow the joy and content I felt watching her eat and sleep.

My cesarean was beautiful. 

You may think that's weird; but it's the way our daughter entered the world and she was able to be here safe and healthy with less concern because of it.

Yes, I mourn the birth I wanted for her. That's ok. I pray that in the future I am able to have a natural birth and experience that as well. I am still confident in the decision we made, I am still so thankful for her birth story.

she's here and the rest, they say, is history. 

I debated whether to share our story or not; because cesarean seem to be looked at as a "lesser birth story". It's spoken of in the context of a weak mother who didn't fight for the natural birth she wanted, she's uneducated, or simply selfish and that's why the cesarean happened. If not that extreme, it just seemed that moms that have had c-sections missed out on an experience for some medical reason; they are sad about it and people feel sorry for them. I have become content with sweet Edens birth. It makes me feel strong and brings immense joy. I had to face a lot of fear and die to myself to have that surgery. It was what God saw to be the best thing for me, and Gods plans are perfect. That surgery was always his plan- I can trust Him. 

My encouragement to you as a mom whose birth went differently than planned or the mom wanting to see her birth story written: trust God. Plan. Educate yourself. Trust God. Don't judge others or yourself. The birth of your baby is beautiful. You are stronger than you know and it takes a lot no matter what to bring a baby into this world. Find joy and peace in your story and enjoy each moment with your baby.

It's all a gift.

Last thing: if a c-section is a real option for you (for whatever reason) or you just want to have a backup plan incase; PLEASE research what a gentle birth entails so you can talk to your doctor about how to make it what you hope for. It can really be so beautiful and more personal than what you assume.

28 weeks: simple thoughts

If I stand up straight, I can't see my feet. All I can see is Eden Grace in all her growing glory.

She moves the most in the morning. At about 6:30ish she is up and moving and ready for momma to eat something.

I have some stretch marks on the bottom part of my stomach, I haven't been able to see that part of my stomach so the lotion hasn't been getting there.

I wake up 2 times a night to go to the bathroom. 

Sometimes I wake up around 2:30am and I have to eat before I can fall back asleep.

I have never felt more peace, her little kicks and flips have all of my attention. she is one of the greatest joys in this season. 

When Tim talks to her my eyes tear up. He is becoming the best dad ever. 

Today he told me my belly was in the way of him doing something, we are at that point.

I can rest a mug on my stomach ️ which is great because I sold one of our coffee tables.

Nesting is real and I think about our house 1/2 of my day. Cleaning, organizing, lists.... All of it.

I'm not craving anything; I like carrots and breakfast food the most though. (I think I'm just using pregnancy as a reason to "crave" breakfast all day... honest & shameless)

I have never been so thankful that my style has always been "loose, flowy, and comfortable" almost all my clothes still fit and they are still comfortable just less loose and flowy 

Maternity jeans/leggings are the best thing that's ever happened. I'm convinced of it. If you aren't pregnant and you want to buy maternity leggings... I say go for it!

I'm reading proverbs of the day and Ann of Green Gables to her. Tim is reading her pilgrims progress

the bravest mom I ever knew

Today is the anniversary of Roe V. Wade; I wanted to share a story. It's not my own, I had the privilege to see it unfold what feels like a lifetime ago. Today is the saddest anniversary in American history (purely my opinion), but stories like this one give me hope that life can be fought for and the right choices can be made.

when I was a junior in high school, a very dear friend of mine told me she was pregnant. I remember my mind racing, what was she going to do, how is she going to do life, what in the world… how could this have happened. I sat quietly for a couple minutes and then I asked what she was thinking; she started talking about her room, how she would have to re-arrange things to fit things for the baby. I remember thinking that we were on such separate pages. 

In high school you hear that your life will be over if you get pregnant. That you can’t do what you want anymore. She was a cheerleader, really good at sports, really smart... really good at everything. Everyone always hears "there are options." My friend knew the options; first being abortion which she NEVER even discussed (well out loud with me), second adoption… she understood, she was adopted, and third being becoming a mom. dreaming a new dream.

I remember asking if she was going to keep the baby, she said these exact words “I’m going to be a mom.”I had never seen such bravery in someones eyes. I had never seen such fight in someones face. Like she knew it would be so hard but she was ready to fight for this baby to live and thrive, and that she so desperately wanted this baby. With no plan, no money, in high school. She was becoming a mom.

I remember as she grew and people found out; the judgement, laughter, the people that said things behind her back. I also remember so many people loving her and supporting her, as she was. I remember when she was late for first period because of morning sickness. I remember decorating her room and making space for that little baby. I remember when she found out it was a boy. I knew he would be the cutest thing because she was the most gorgeous girl ever.

I remember I was driving down the road and got a flat tire when she texted me she was in labor. I was freaking out, because then I didn’t know that childbirth took awhile. I was terrified to miss it. When I got to the hospital I saw her laying there, she looked so uncomfortable. I didn’t know how I could help her, I knew I couldn’t. She had that same look in her eyes, so much bravery.

I sat in the hall and prayed and prayed that she would have the baby quickly. I listened to her fight for that little boy to come into this world. It was the most frightening and courageous sound I have ever heard. I walked into the room, there she was arms shaking from adrenaline and pain, holding the most precious little boy I’d ever seen. 

Fast forward over the next weeks; my friend trying to keep up with school, raising a newborn, and still trying to be a high school student. It wasn’t easy. It was never going to be. But she loved that little boy. 

I still see updates of her on Facebook, her little boy is bog now and as handsome as I knew he would be. I still admire her, even more so now that I am going to be having a baby.

Her and I didn’t stay as close as I left for college and worked in a different town. It may even seem weird that I’m choosing to write about this story but it changed my life. Her bravery and her willingness to love beyond herself changed my life. I don’t know if at 16 I would have been as strong as her. On days like today, the anniversary of Roe V. Wade… all the scandal surrounding planned parenthood, I think of her. That if she can do it, then its possible. 

Today even as I mourn so many babies lost, I celebrate stories like this one. I hold onto them with so much hope, knowing that women can be so much more brave than society expect them to be. 

He is my Father, I am a child... having a child.

First, I'm sorry that this is not formatted and all polished. These are raw thoughts in a journal form more than blog form. So forgive my run-ons, tangled thoughts, and my simple wording.

It’s funny how life works.
I have always always always wanted to be a mom. At a little over a year old my sister was born and I was convinced that she was MY baby; to care for, love, feed, and always be around. I love to share life with people, my mom was always amazing at sharing life with us. So I always knew I wanted to be a mom... so my heart could expand and that I could share this life with my family as it grows and changes. That's my kind of adventure, and it's started.

The Lord has blessed us greatly, I had two showers for baby Eden here in Texas. So many things we needed and precious clothes for her to fill. It made everything even more real, holding clothes that I could one day hold her in…. that feeling brings me to tears. We traveled to New Jersey a few days after those showers where I had another shower, mainly gift cards because we couldn’t travel back with a lot. Yesterday I bought over $400 worth of things that Eden needs with more still on those gift cards. We are greatly blessed. 

It’s funny how we can forget the goodness of God throughout the day. Last night my husband and I started “talking passionately” about finances. What he currently makes, school, what I have been bringing in to make ends meet, and how everything is changing soon. We need a little more space than we currently have, so we have to move. Our insurance plan changed, so I thought our monthly payments would go down (actually disappear) for prenatal and delivery but they didn’t. Can we afford to move with an undetermined amount of money? still pay all of our bills? and possibly me stay home with our sweet little one? That’s always been my dream, staying home with my babies to teach and watch them grow. I want to still do the things I love, I feel it’s important for my children to see also. I LOVE photography and creating things. I praise Jesus that I can still do that while being home with my babes. 

We are greatly blessed. We forget, but we are. All in one day, I was blessed to buy so many things that we couldn’t afford at the generosity of others… and in that same day I doubted that God would provide a way for ALL of our needs. I allowed myself to feel alone in planning for our sweet girl. I put my sweet husband on the opposite team. I said out loud “so it’s either me or you… you can’t do ministry or I can’t be home with our children….” foolish, unbelieving woman I can be. 

THAT'S NOT TRUTH, Lauren Elizabeth Michiemo. You know the truth. Do not dwell on things that are not filtered through the word of God and proved true.

Praise Jesus for a new day! That His mercies are new….. EVERY MORNING. (also so thankful that my husband can forgive my rants in moments like those... late at night). I forget that God has provided for our every need… and more. I forget that I LOVE THIS SEASON, that I have never been more thankful for a gift. I am so excited about this little girl. She is my new favorite blessing. I forget that Tim and I have never had it easy when it comes to finances, probably because God is preparing us for a life of ministry where we have little in our pockets but our hands and hearts are OVERFLOWING. I am so quick to forget that God loves us more. Our callings are more important to Him than to us. He moves to provide for us more than we can imagine. We are greatly blessed to be children of God. I guess that’s what I forgot… that not only am I having a child… that I am one. That I can ask great and impossible things of my Father because He is good. I can still be a child raising a child. Who am I to forget that His word is the same for my circumstances today as it has always been. 

I wrote this mainly because MANY of the girls who I have led and have served alongside in ministry…. and even mentored are in the same season as me. Expecting the blessing of a child, maybe even needing a miracle when they look at all that surrounds their little one’s arrival. I do not and will never have the luxury of hiding my faults and keeping these things that God is faithful to teach me to myself. I gave up that when I signed on to be His child and to lead others nearer to Him. This is a reminder to you sweet woman and soon to be momma, GOD IS GOOD. HE CARES FOR YOU. YOU ARE A CHILD. HE WILL PROVIDE.

 

Luke 21:33, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:31-32, Matthew 6:33, Matthew 7:11, Job 38:41, Psalms 34:10, Matthew 11:29-30.

Good Good Father by Tommee Profit & Brooke Griffith, on repeat.... all day!

my plans, birth control, and babies

Most of my life I have prayed for God's will to be done in my life; but really the desire of my heart was for my will to be done, not His. 
Most of the time His will is brought about in my life through surprises, suffering, and unknowns. All things that bring me to my knees, to a very dependent state, and require my trust and obedience.
What I really want is to be a great planner, self sufficient, and for things to work out accordingly, all the while I would genuinely love God but we would have this agreement. 

I may sound crazy but that's how I feel a lot of the time. I can't be so bad of a planner that he always changes my route. Much to my joy and gratefulness, God has called me his child. Which means that our "agreement" looks different. I pray, plan, and leave it to Him. I have to. Or else that girl comes back out. I still plan, really great plans. But God has a way that is higher than mine and wisdom that is greater than I'd ever imagine and I MUST find peace, joy, and comfort in that He loves me enough to determine the steps of my life.

I have a lot of examples; my after high school plan, what I started going to college for, marriage, finances,  and where we would live... All things that I genuinely felt I had really great plans about but as I prayed for His will to be done plans changed and His control over my life has become much more apparent.

I really wanted to share about a specific instance just incase you still are struggling with the goodness of God in the midst of your lack of control. Before Tim and I got married we read and studied about what kind of birth control to use; with our STRONG convictions about conception and life there were few to choose from, if any. But we started one that we felt most comfortable with. Two months into marriage we found out that the second line of defense for this birth control was making the uterus inhospitable to fertilized eggs. Since we believe that conception begins at fertilization, I felt that I actually wanted those... I wanted a hospitable uterus.

I am not against birth control but I think you MUST do research if you are a believer because of the stance you should have on the preciousness of every human life. If you have not IN DEPTH researched every line of defense your birth control uses, I actually beg you to do so.

At that point we started using "other" ways to protect ourselves because in our wisdom we felt like we were not ready to provide and consider a child. For 8 months I have been counting days, temperatures, following my calendar, and we used condoms as needed (if that's too descriptive, I'm sorry, we are married, it happens). This is the most important part so read carefully. 

Every month I would pray that God would have his will in our life, including when we would become pregnant. I would plead with God that as my wisdom says that we are not ready and I am acting upon that limited wisdom; that he would disregard my plans of protection and have his will and his way, if he wanted us to become pregnant. I would genuinely pray "God if it's your will and desire for us to bear children, even if I do not know it now; that is my will and desire too... a child is a blessing and any blessing you choose is welcome in me and through our lives" 

I actually would encourage any woman to pray that (that's a believer) because we cannot put our hope or plans in pills or "birth control". Silly us to believe we can actually control these things.

Anyway on August 17th (I was one day late) Tim kept picking on me that I was pregnant because of how regular I am. Like really regular. To prove a point I took a pregnancy test, I felt the blood rush to my head as a big bold YES was written on the test. I told Tim (who was immediately so excited he couldn't contain himself) and took another for good measure and there it was, two pink lines... Almost laughing at and with me that my plans have been re-routed once again. 

I had a small freak out moment because of; plans, money, the size of our apartment, jobs, plans, money... Oh I already said that. Then I remembered what I have consistently prayed, and I laid my hand on my stomach and whispered "you are welcome here little one" with those words I keep repeating my joy growths and my faith strengthens. 

My prayer is that not only that this story encourages new wives, new moms, or the planners of the world but I also hope it realigns where our hope or "control" lies. It cannot be found in plans or measures taken to prevent things but only in the hands of our Father who is the giver of all God things.

Disclaimer: I am not against ALL birth control. I think family planning is so important, and I believe that you should do what your wisdom considers to be the best plan. But submit those plans to the one who is actually in control. He is good at what he does.

Photography: my “business” philosophy

It was suggested to me that I should to make a business philosophy; how I will make goals and decisions for my business as it has picked up quite a bit in the last few months. I am a creative, left brained individual, but I can be very detail oriented and, actually, a huge planner if need be. I know this isn’t your typical business philosophy or goal sheet but I did want to share my vision behind what I do and where I want to stay as I grow.

Him
I seek to make God’s name great in everything I do, that includes every photo that I take. He is the author of beauty and I desire for you to see your love, family, wedding day, and moments through the lens of His beauty and grace towards you. That every moment is perfectly planned and crafted by God himself and that your life is the most beautiful story ever told.

You
I think you are great. Even if I haven’t met you, I think you are great. I have never met a person that didn’t have great value, unique beauty, and a story worth telling. There is nothing more picture worthy than love; the way a man can love a woman, a woman can love her children, the look anyone can get in their eye when they love something… like no one else exists and they are floating. That’s my favorite things to capture, your authentic and real moments. I love the details that go into making a beautiful photo; the way the light looks on someones hair, the curves of someones face, and the way nature and architecture is the perfect backdrop to tell someones story. I want you to feel comfortable, close, and like it’s the most special day with those you love. Every time some one asks me to do a session of any kind I am honored. being involved in your life for whatever season or occasion really is something that makes my heart soar.

Me
I have to continue to grow; reading books, taking classes, learning technics, and asking the right questions of more experienced photographers. My desire is to grow to make everyones photos as special as they can be, as much as it depends on me. Financially I want for costs and needs to be met for my husband and I; for us to not go into debt for things like school, travel, and future planning. But I also will do anything and everything I can to keep costs down/ to a minimum for my clients. You shouldn’t have to break the bank to have your moments captured. I will always seek to work with you in finding out with plans and sessions will work best for you so that we can both be in a good spot. 

I am still trying to figure out how to market myself (I’m avoiding it because I hate it) and how to be a good steward of the gifts I have been given. the opportunity presented to me has become the greatest blessing to me and I pray that I am able to bless many through it also.

marriage > wedding

 

Weddings are trendy, but is marriage?

I was reading a blog that my wedding photographer did on a sweet couple that had been married for 50 years.... Yes 50 years. That's rare but also incredible. During a short interview he asked on a scale of 1 to 10 how hard is marriage, with sobering remembrance they both answered 10 and smiled. When asked how much they spent on their wedding all she could remember was two flower arrangements and a dress, under $200 spent.

I recently got married and there is so much preparation for your wedding day. Flowers, dresses, colors, food, decorations.... And on and on. So many lovely touches that go into planning your big day. Also something you are aware of is that right now, weddings are trendy. Pintrest, instagram, photographers... it's a trending topic and it's everywhere. With that so many people longing have a wedding how important is it to us to prepare for marriage. 

On a scale of 1 to 10 on how hard marriage is, it's a 10. 

On the other side of the wedding you've been dying to plan is a marriage that is going to take a lot of work. 

Don't get me wrong, if you know me at all, planning my wedding was a blast and I loved it! Pintrest and instagram does a good job at showing all the beauty and personal touches that go into that day. But the planning for your wedding day should be second to planning for your marriage. As much time as it takes to figure out your centerpieces and hours you can spend browsing to find the perfect guest book idea... Go to pre marital counseling, read a book on marriage, go meet with a couple you know that's been married over 20 years... Which may be hard to find. Our generation is one of the majority coming from divorced families, that should bring a reverence to your wedding day.

I experienced that focusing on our marriage during engagement made wedding planning much simpler. There were bigger resolutions to make than steak versus chicken, there was "till death do us part" on my brain. Marriage is beautiful and our wedding days should reflect the holiness of covanant and commitment even more so than the perfect pintrest wedding.

If you are dating or engaged really ask yourself what you are more excited for, what you are putting your time to, and what matters most to you. 

If you are single, praise Jesus for this season, it's the perfect time to search out the meaning of marriage and to take a break from planning your secret pintrest board wedding. (I had one too)

Finding Balance

Once a week sit down with you fiancé and talk through all of your wedding details, you are planning an event so details must be discussed. Meet with a marital counselors or married couples once a week, seek out wisdom for your marriage. Go on a date night often, no wedding discussions, keep your friendship and romance protected from wedding takeover. 

Have Fun

It's easy for planning a wedding to put a strain on your relationship for most couples it's the first big decisions they make together.... Laugh at life. Tim and I took 3 months to pick out bow ties and even argued about it, that's hilarious. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. 

Planning for marriage can be so fun; making grocery lists, talking through morning routines, house decor preferences, and even the nitty gritty talks about sex and marriage are just fun (and something funny) at times. Laugh together. If you feel yourself getting really stressed out or feeling far, hug your fiancé for 3 minutes (just hug). It helps you feel near.

Declutter Social Media

I stopped following a lot of wedding photographers, event planners, and florists while we were engaged, I did keep some but I decluttered. I started following some women on Instagram that were married, were moms, and loved their husbands. Women that were real and vulnerable with their lives, women whose wedding day is a beautiful memory but whose marriage was strong.

My prayer is that we can have a greater perspective, that we may focus on things that are beyond one day. That your marriage will be stronger because of your single, dating, and engagement seasons. I would be willing to bet that as you focus on your marriage that you two will find wedding planning less stressful.