Yesterday was a happy mail day.

Instead of walking out to the mail box to feel completely saddened by the lack of real mail (trying to put a spin on “Current Resident” is depressing), I walked out to a package.  Yes, this package was sent to myself by myself.  But there was mail.  FOR ME. (Even though it had my husband’s name on it)

What was in said package?  It happened to be what is already becoming one of my new favorite books of all time, For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker.  (Jen – if you ever read this – I am already praying that one day we meet.  We’ll do a session for you and your husband and it will be glorious and the best of times forever.  Just dreaming in ink, here.)

You guys.  I love this book.  Times infinity.  I feel grace in ways I didn’t know I could and have laughed hysterically numerous times.  The only problem is that I just want to lock myself in my room and read all the things.  Which is a minor problem when my children seem to expect me to care about and listen to them.  We’ll find our way.

Though I’ve already been writing down numerous passages in my journal, one has become my new mantra.  Tell the truth.  So today…when I was asked to be the room mom for my daughter’s class – I told the truth.  (Bless this amazing teacher.)  Here’s how that looked:

Hi there, wonderful teacher!

I would definitely be interested in helping.  Here’s the small draw back: though I wish I were super awesome and organized and positively amazing – I’m not.  I have moments where I’m totally on top of all the things, but those moments are like unicorns and often disappear to show that it was all smoke in mirrors.  I’m learning to adult.  Progress is happening, but awesomeness remains elusive.
I would be more than happy to co-room mom if at all possible.  That way – someone can email me and remind me to SEND THE EMAIL.  (I oftentimes send emails in my mind and not in real life.  I’d love to blame the whole having three kids, but alas, it will probably still be true when my kids are all grown as well.) 

So today – I hope we can gather together and tell the truth.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  I know I’ve spent the past few years hiding in fear.  I think I’m done with that.  For today.  And I hope I have the courage to say that again tomorrow and all the rest of my tomorrow’s.  And when I don’t, I’ll just take all the grace and try again the next day.

And since posts are more fun with pictures…here’s a little sneak peek of some of my favorite people in the world.  Goodness, I love them times infinity…

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Today I crumbled.  It’s been brewing for a few weeks.  Summer slipped away and all the things were here and I wanted to run and hide from ALL THE THINGS.  That’s when the fear and the “holy buckets I can’t do this” and “will my kids be okay?!?!?!?!” began.

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This morning, I sat with God.  And He said some things – or at least I think He did because they sound too smart to be me – and I just thought somebody out there might need these words, too.

Sweet one…here’s the thing.  You are being made new.  NEW.  Not slightly improved upon or polished up a bit or stuck like this forever.

NEW.

Did you catch that other important detail?  I am doing it.  In you.  With every step and every breath.  I AM making you new.  And I am incredibly good at what I do.  And yes – faithful to complete it.  Your role is to simply show up to life.  Sure – it’s good for you to show up with trust and lean into me – but even if you don’t – I will still be at work.  I am faithful and good.  Always.

I love our babies.  Aren’t they magical?

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I had such a splendid time knitting them together as they grew inside you.  They are pretty incredible, aren’t they?  I’ve known them and planned them since before you were born.  Yes.  They were never for a moment accidents.  It may have seemed that way to you, but it’s never been that way to Me.  I’ve joyfully planned them for this time since before time.  (Just like I planned YOU)

So you bet I’m there with them, whispering to them and giving them all they need.  Which includes having YOU as their mom.  Sweet one – you were made to be their mom.  You were the right one for the joy of raising THESE precious souls.  Which means once again – I’ve given you all you need to be their mom.  I’m not looking for Pinterest mom.  These little souls need YOU.  The one who can never find her phone and really does love with her whole heart even though you doubt it.

So breathe deep.  And then go be the you-est you you possibly can.  That’s all.  I’ve got the rest.

 

 

Sweet Little Man,

You.  You are this profound gift.

As I watched you take in the world around you, I fell in love; with both your patience and your love of sleeping.  With the gentle way you take in your surroundings.  And little one – you have amazing people surrounding you.  They are head over heels for you.  As well they should be.  And they already love you with their whole hearts and stand ready to introduce you to the stories of Percy Jackson, the beauty of UGA football and the legend himself, Mickey Mouse.

And your mom and dad?  They are simply amazing.  But that’s easy to see.  It’s written into each one of you precious kids.

You two…

I love you both to the moon and back at least 1,572 times.  Actually, that’s probably not enough.  And here’s the thing: everyone who knows you feels the same way.  Why?

I have a few suspicions.
1.  Your crazy, awesome dance moves.
2.  Your selfie stick.  It’s all the rage after all.
3.  The way you love with your entire selves.  It’s in the way you show up day in and day out for your family and friends.  For your students.  For those you serve.
4.  The laughter you bring.  From camo Crocs to Ranger and Bandit antics.

Thank you.  Thank you for sharing your love with me.  For sharing your amazing family and friends… For still letting me come and document your wedding day, even when you bought a selfie stick and were pretty sure you had it covered…  And thank you for the beautiful story of love your writing in my life and the lives of SO many others.

 


Oh sweet Lindsey…you’re even stunning with rollers in your hair…
These ladies are amazing.  Times infinity.  And Katie…thank you.  Thank you for sharing your wedding day and now your family with me.  Thank you for telling Lindsey to give me the honor of being her wedding photographer.  And thank you for being such an amazing matron of honor…

Kurt and Lindsey were high school sweethearts.  Though they grew apart for a time, they found their way back to each other.  Here’s a little throwback for you…

Mrs. Annerino – you’re a joy.  I was teary-eyed throughout the day as I watched and listened to the way you love your daughter.  (And daughters/son)

Lindsey…HOLY BUCKETS.  Seriously…

I love helping my brides slow down their days and create special moments throughout.  Which meant a special reveal to her dad.  And oh the look on his face when he first saw his beautiful daughter…

Since Kurt and Lindsey live close to Lindsey’s parents…he was able to simply walk over for their first look.  And of course – Kurt walks with style.

A little last minute bustling…

Let’s talk about first looks.  Here’s the thing: I LOVE THEM.  And not because of timelines.  You see, when Ted and I got married – I was SO excited to see his reaction when I walked down the aisle.  But there were so many people – and I couldn’t see him well. I finally arrived at his side – but of course, we couldn’t really talk as our ceremony was happening.

Which is why I LOVE intimate, connected first looks.   (No sneaking up and tapping the person on the shoulder…)  And this moment was just BEYOND a joy to watch unfold and to capture for them.

And of course, we couldn’t leave out sweet Gracie.  (And just check the slideshow to see the legendary Ranger and Bandit.  Yes, they have their own Instagram.)

Just so you know, I adore these ladies.

I asked the guys to sneak up on Kurt.  And they absolutely took it to a WHOLE ‘NOTHER LEVEL.  (Of awesome…)

I may have wanted to adopt her grandmother…

The flower girl and the ring bearer ROCKED it.  As evidenced from everyone’s reactions.

Kurt and Lindsey – I’m sure you both know EXACTLY why I had to include this photo…

When I spoke with Lindsey the day before their wedding, Kurt asked to talk with me.  He explained that though Ted and I were welcome to still come to the wedding, they wouldn’t be needing my services anymore.  Why?  Because they had bought a selfie stick.

All the wows, people.

The Danada House was EXQUISITE.  (As were the flowers and the cake from Marie’s Catering)

These two KNOW how to enter a reception.

Please, oh please don’t miss that small detail at the bottom of the right side photo.  Oh yes – that happened.  We all breathed deeply after seeing it didn’t hit her dress…

The toasts.  Just so AMAZING.

Two things…  I LOVED that part of their decor for their reception included pictures of their grandparents and their parents.  And they gave me the privilege of designing an engagement album to serve as their guest book.  You guys – it was beautiful.

Here’s another little something you must know…  Kurt has been the source of some of my favorite dancing pictures from several other weddings I’ve had the joy of documenting.  Which meant that I couldn’t wait for their reception and all the joy and amazing moves that would happen on the dance floor.  Let’s just say their family and friends OWNED the dance floor.

 

Love you two.  SO much.  I hope you enjoy every last moment in Jamaica!

There are so many amazing vendors who make the details of this day extra beautiful…without further ado, they are:

Ceremony Venue: St. Irene’s in Warrenville, IL
Reception Venue: Danada House
Florist: Bride’s Choice – Mary Kenney
Cake: Marie’s Catering
DJ: Sounds Abound – Rufus Cathey
Make-up: Nicole Kovach
Hair: Lauren Morgan

 

Words fall short.  Epically short.
To say thank you is such an understated attempt at describing my gratitude for being given the honor of documenting your wedding day.  I’m left with a thousand grateful memories.  Watching Sean’s face when he first saw you.  Your amazing bridal party helping stand guard to make your first look perfect.  Seeing the two of you twirl together.  Watching the little glances you shared on your day.  Jan – the selfie stick.  (!!!)  Seeing the way you love your family and friends.  The precious ring bearer and flower girl picking up all the petals she dropped.  My heart is full and grateful and loves you to pieces.
Here’s a glimpse as to why I’m left squealing behind my computer and slightly teary with gratitude for the two of you.

Also, thank you to these wonderful vendors who added love and beauty to their wedding day:

Venue:  The BridgePort Art Center, Skyline Loft
Florist:  Life In Bloom, Rachel Wyfflef
DJ:  DJ J Funk
Dress Designer: Tara Keeley
Bridesmaid’s Dress Designer: Ralph Lauren
Hair and Makeup – Tamara Makeup + Hair Artistry
Shoes – Lilly Pullitizer
Caterer – D’Absolute

Morgan…let’s just go ahead and state the obvious:  You are BEAUTIFUL.  (Inside and out)

I love helping my brides create special moments throughout their wedding day.  One of my favorites is when they choose to do a special reveal to their bridesmaids.  The squeals and the joy that take over the room are unforgettable.

Another moment I love?  First looks.  I love them because of the intimate moment they allow.  I love seeing the way the bride and groom melt into each other.  I love that they have the freedom to talk and embrace for as long as they want.  And…the images are pretty wonderful, too…

Meet “Jan” the selfie stick.

A huge shout out to Chicago Trolley for their amazing transportation!  And for creating opportunities for such beautiful images…

These precious ladies are both beautiful and SO incredible…

Meet the awesome groomsmen…

These groomsmen deserve an award as they stood guard to help us get our moment at the Honeycomb structure in Lincoln Park.  It was worth the wait…

Then we headed over to Burnham Park for a moment.  The view was breathtaking…

 

Morgan and Sean got married at the ever-so-stunning Skyline Loft in Chicago.

The way Sean’s grandmother watched her great granddaughter and gazed at Morgan left me a little teary…

One of my favorite parts of any wedding ceremony is when the flower girl and the ring bearer walk down the aisle.  You never know what’s going to happen.  In this case – as soon as she dropped some petals they both started the work of picking them all up.

And then the ring bearer sprinted the rest of the way…

THESE TWO…  Holy buckets of gorgeous.

Let’s just go ahead and talk about how stunning these details are…  I was in a constant state of swoon.  (Navy is my favorite.  As well as a little sparkle…)  Rachel of Life in Bloom simply outdid herself.

Morgan and Sean – I just adore you both…

 

 

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