Frozen.

It’s how I’ve spent a large portion of my life.
For years I lived for everyone else’s approval.  And most deeply – for God’s.
I was never enough and I knew it.
God whispered in many ways that it wasn’t true.  But sometimes, a Voice is so good and so kind, and your heart is so callous, that you can’t believe it’s true.
But God isn’t One to give up on us.  And He kept sending me friends and words and moments seeking to help me know the most basic of truths: that I am loved.  As I am.  Fully.  And completely.  No change required.
As you can imagine, years of living under beliefs of “less than” is not always easily undone.  And it has a way of sinking it’s teeth into every portion of our lives.
So when I fell in love with photography – it was more than happy to pop up like a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole”.
Every session I’d wait for approval from my client – chained to their validation – and unable to give this gift AS A GIFT.
So I emailed my sweet friends.  Because I’m learning – most of the time – we’re not the only ones.  And I asked them – have you ever dealt with this? How do I move past the fear?  How do I share my work as a gift?  How do I release myself to create when I’m too scared that I’m not enough?  How do I share this project I love when I’m scared not everyone will love it and when it takes sharing to find what it is meant to be???
A few months later we gathered around the table.  I was aching as I knew this was our goodbye.  These ladies who had helped form me were soon going to be 12 hours away.  We hugged and laughed and shared tears.  And then….
Rachel looked me in the eyes and pulled out a folded piece of paper.  She told me that she had never forgotten my fear-paralyzed email.  She had ached with me over it all.  And she had written me something…my new fear Manifesto.  Here is a glimpse into the words that Rachel wrote for me…that happen to be for ALL OF US.

I believe anything is possible.
I am not tied to any outcome.

My vow is to show up bravely, boldly, flawed, and full of hope,
Not when I receive approval
Not when I look a certain way
Not when I have a grand plan
Not when I get more courage
Not when I’ve gotten therapy for my issues
Not after I’ve done some research.

I choose to believe I am ready now
Because time doesn’t wait.
And I’ve let the chains of ‘someday’ hold me back.
I’ve let the opinions of others dictate my dreams.
I’ve let fear boss me around.
Well, no more.

I will no longer wait to LIVE my life,
to love others and myself,
to make my unique contribution to the world
To shine as only I can shine.

I am ready now
To LIVE the life I’ve been yearning to live.

I choose to believe good things will happen
When I step out in courage and love.

My vow is to show up bravely, boldly, flawed, and full of hope.

I see light ahead.
I see light within.

So today – on this first day of 2018, I introduce to you the beginnings of my women’s project. I’m a little/LOT nervous.  There is a lot to learn as I share these images and stories.  More will come from my time with Rachel and many other amazing women, but for today – here are Rachel’s words for us all. 

I love watching a couple with their newborn.

The sacred fragility of this precious life is written into every touch they share.  There is a holy reverence for this precious one who they now hold in their arms.  You can see the gratitude and the overwhelming nature of this beautiful responsibility woven into every moment.

And I get to pause time with them and help them see the mom and dad they already are.  That the road will never be perfect, but they will find their way because they have LOVE.  And it’s beautiful…

 

 

 

This picture below?  A picture with her mom and her aunt.  Cue all the tears.  What a gift.  Where would we be without our sisters and aunts?

I’m sorry…I couldn’t resist.  Sometimes a shot takes on its own form and it’s just so adorable you post it anyway…

For nearly 5 years, I’ve watched their love grow.  I’ve watched the way Kelly’s eyes dance when she talks about Joe.  And how Joe cannot help but smile when his eyes lock with Kelly’s.  I’ve documented the little glances and brush of hands as their wedding ceremony unfolded and later when heartfelt (and hilarious) toasts were shared.  I watched their embrace on the very day they found out they were expecting their first child.  And most recently, I saw them wrap their arms around their 3 precious little ones and shower their little ones with love.

Kelly and Joe – I still find tears in my eyes when I think of your family.  From Bears shirts at your engagement session to invading coffee shops on your wedding day to watching your love for each other in little glances during your ceremony and the way you held each other in your “Just Us” session.  I am so grateful for you two.  For your support and kindness and that you would trust me with these moments.

And then there’s the way you love your little ones.  Oh Kelly – you are such an amazing mom.  Your love for them spills into every moment.  It’s beautiful.  And JOE!  I look at the picture of your daughter’s hand wrapped around his finger and I see it ALL.  Love.  Strength.  And one amazing dad.
Let’s just say – I love you two.  And I’m forever grateful for every last moment with you!

Call me, maybe…

I look at this next image and then I find tears in my eyes every time…

To see more from our time together, CLICK HERE to view their slide-show.

 

Oh the places you’ll go.

It’s overused – but it’s appropriate here.

Anders, you have a wit and depth that are obvious from the moment someone has the privilege of meeting you.  It shows in all the theater work you do…  Your kindness shines forth and your heart for adventure and the world come together in a sacred embrace.  I cannot wait to see where God continues to lead you and the ways you use your creativity and kindness to help transform the places you go.

Thank you so much for spending your Sunday afternoon with me.  It was a gift to get to know you better (and see your amazing mom) and stand in awe of the man you are becoming.

 

To see more from our time together, CLICK HERE to view his slide-show.

Ten years ago, I sat in a chair and listened as this brave couple shared about the long road to adoption.  They shared about the mountains of paperwork, the milestones reached and the financial investment they had made to meet their child.  They were FINALLY one of the next families in line to adopt internationally.

But a few weeks later, they learned that the country had closed it’s doors to international adoption.

Their dreams were shattered.  We all ached.  Tears were shed.  And yet, we all knew there was a little one somewhere meant to be theirs.

For 4 more years, I watched and prayed and ached with Lisa and Nate as they walked through miscarriages and failed adoptions.

And then…

Carter.  We cried as we looked at this sweet baby boy and saw how he nestled into their arms in the most perfect way.

More years passed with more heartache and loss and yet a beautiful growing baby boy.  But they sensed in the depths of them they had more little ones on the way.  And in the darkest of moments?  Isaiah.  And then finally, Silas.

Out of such great loss, these parents kept showing up, opening, extending and now?  Three precious boys call them mom and dad.

Theirs is a story of great loss and great resurrection.

Nate and Lisa – (and you precious Jarot boys!)  I could cry over the gift it is to know you and be loved by you.  Thank you with my entire life and heart for sharing your journey with me and for giving me the honor of documenting it along the way.  My goodness – you all are the bee’s knees.

 

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