blame it on the tinsel and the sentimental...

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its strange what you remember isn't it?


one of my strongest christmas memories is of our tree. 

it's funny, i never remember decorating it, although i know i did because we have pictures of me doing so.  

i only remember the finished product.  

an ornament stuffed tree, and tinsel. 

so much tinsel.


i hated that tinsel.

i thought it was cheesy. 

i loved sitting around the tree, and the lights and the "feeling" but i thought i knew more about decorating a tree.

probably because i was young and thought i was much more sophisticated than my “older” mom, in fashion and taste. 



in the early years of marriage, and even with our children, i had the “styled” tree.

it was the tree i SHOPPED for. 

i dreamed up the vision and executed it. 

it was glorious.


the kids got older, and i kept my perfect tree.

i got them a tree for all of their homemade decorations and the ones that they were getting to save. 

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the past few years, my taste has changed. 


call me old.

call me sentimental.

call me nostalgic. 


but i’m hooked. 


i go through those homemade and mounds of decorations that we have accumulated over the years, and the treasure is ALL MINE, as i hang , and loop, and remember. 


i pile them all on. 

you can never have too many memories…

or class.

so i merge them both. :)


and this year i added tinsel.


my kids hate it. 

i don’t care. 


that tinsel sparkles and shows off the trove of treasures that weigh down the boughs of my tall pine (the tree - it’s fake...but tall pine sounded better ::)


i’m sure my kids wish for a simpler, more stylish tree.

yes, they have poked fun at me. 

but i don’t care. 


my bountiful, sparkling tree holds the tangible treasures of my heart in the most beautiful way. 


one day i'm sure they will see it all. 

it’s strange what you remember isn’t it? :) 



coming out of the dark...restored - a THANKFUL heart - personal

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i knew that i would feel when it was a time to speak. 


for i spoke so much in the darkest places of my life, that when light came, i found it difficult to mutter a word.


strange right?


i remember telling someone close to me about why i was speaking in the pain i was going through.  

i was explaining that i am so transparent, that i felt had to explain where i was in my life. 

hiding, looking different.  not speaking. the tears.  so so many tears. 


i also remember explaining that if i spoke truthfulness in my pain, then others would see the truthfulness in my joy. 

i KNEW the joy would come again. 

not because i necessarily believed it myself, but because many people close to me, prayed and believed it for me. 


in complete raw honesty, for over a year…i was completely gone. 

weeks, months, erased. 

looking back i think the whole sadness was emerging for about 3 years, but for the last year or more, it was PRESENT.  all the time. 


i can’t explain all the pain. 

why, what or where it came from. 

of course, i know a lot of what it was, now. 

but overall looking back, it was a multitude of circumstances, trials and relationships. 


i could go on to explain a lot of them, but truly, it is not necessary. 

however,  i will highlight the most important. 

i lost 2 fathers to cancer within ten years. 

2 very different fathers…who loved me very differently, in their own ways. 

but the latest loss, included the pain of watching my mom, and my own children and siblings (extended), be hurt as well. 


let me tell you this…

you can have all the Jesus you can have.

loss still hurts beyond hurt. 

it’s what you learn and do with it, is what is most important. 


age and profession. 

this is big. 

i’m 43 now…

my children no longer NEED me (for bathing, food, care in and out of the day)…

it changes things. 

besides transportation, they can fend for their own. 

not that my love and guidance isn’t extremely important, but your focus as a parent changes…


and work. 

this is huge.

i had come to a point in my life that the only thing i felt “good” for, was my work. 

and when i became hurt by people who i thought loved  my work…when my work, became more like shopping than an experience and viewpoint i would give to people, i became lost. 

lost and unworthy.


in addition, all of this caused family issues…to say the least.


my world in all areas - it was falling apart. 


a dear client who became a friend, saw my state. 

she begged me to be admitted for help.

after weeks in bed, unable to exist, my husband also urged me. 


i sought counsel in a very, very dear man, who had known me over 20 years ago, again in a place of life that i was lost in. 

he so gently, cautiously, and with godly wisdom, helped to lead me out of the black hole that i never knew could be so deep or enveloping. 



a year later…

losses, gains, reflections and realities have been presented to my life. 


my friends, it has been the most difficult time that i have ever endured.

it was such hard work!

not for any glory of my own, but to be real, i want to send the message that getting better, it just does not happen.  

changes, reflection, and work must happen for it to occur. 


can i profess humbly but proudly that i have applied these to my life?

YES! and FINALLY, today, i am changed!


i smile…from my heart. 

i smile with joy.

i cry…even more than ever before. 

but i cry with empathy, understanding and gratefulness that words cannot dare to express.

i mourn and grieve, because losing people you love SUCKS. 

and it hurts, and its takes time to get through it, understand it, and to come to terms with it. 

and i rejoice…maybe a bit early…

for there is so much more work to do…

but the joy i have been given back, i cannot hold back the rejoicing it brings to my soul.

and the joy gives me strength to continue on. 


i understand. 

i look differently. 

where in my 20’s grief took me to the extreme skinny stage (oh a plus in the suffering! :)), in my 40’s, i battle a bad thyroid and am puffy, heavier than i have ever been before (seriously Jesus…couldn’t you have given me skinny in all of this??)) :)

i hate it. 

but i will work the outside now to change too. 


i understand.

through this time, i have spoken, reacted and acted differently. 

to be truthful, even with the pain, i believe it has been the most honest time of my life…

seeing people and relationships for what they truly are, not for what i wanted or pretend them to be. 


i get it. 

i cannot get the time back with my kids or family (or business!), that my sadness kept me, from being present.

or when it kept me from being the person i always was or tried to be. 

the times i couldn’t listen.  the times that i could not be there.

i cannot get it back. 

i regret that, but not for long. 

because i have a chance now to here - all of me. 


today marks 17 years married to the man that kissed my hand and forehead before he would ever kiss my lips. 

the day i said "i do" to the man who had prayed for me to be his wife. 

it marks the day that i said “i do” to a life that held so much prosperity and promise. 

it is the day that i kissed my husband in front of friends and family, in the home that we reside in today, and that i knew that my life would never be the same. 


it sure hasn’t been!


but today also marks the day that i can say... 

“i’m back.  i am better.  i am loved.  and i have so so much to offer to this world, that it better watch out.”


my motto for 25 years has been…”Lord, never let my my pain be lost in vain.”


friends, it hasn’t.


this girl is back.

she is blessed.

and she is grateful. 


happy anniversary charlie. 

happy thanksgiving my dear friends.

and thank you to my Jesus, my Lord, provider and restorer of all things. 

Blessed be His name.

Morgan...Seniors 2018...we laughed :)

"be happy...

not because everything is good, 

but because your can.

see the good in everything." 


morgan is a TRIP.

i think i told her that about 200 times last night. 

we were wind blown, cold, happy, having a great time, and oh...had perfect hair & Make-up :)

this girl is such a perfect combination of sweetness, sassiness, and honesty.

morgan you are a special one girl!
enjoy seeing your previews :))



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Lauren...Seniors 2018...pure joy :)

"a joyful spirit is evidence of a grateful heart. " - maya angelou

JOY is completely what i saw first in her.

well, besides her smile. ;)

lauren walked into my studio the day of her senior session, and her joy just spilled out.

as shannon did her hair and make-up, and lauren, her mom, sister ashely  and i talked about where and how we would make this shoot happen, her dad stopped by.  he couldn't stay away completely and miss such a special day in his daughter's life.   whew.  

seeing the smile and pride he showed, then ducking out to give "the girls their time", i got it. 

this family was secure in themselves and each other.  they loved like - ALL love. 

and lauren was a product of that. 

how i enjoyed her!  she filled my own soul with laughter and helped ME feel carefree :). 

what most spoke to me about lauren was the confidence she held in herself.  

the joy she found in EVERYTHING.

and how she shared and exhibited that joy without reservation. 

a few nights ago, her family sat in my studio, and we played her video up on "the big screen."

i wanted to jump up and down! 

in the images, you can just FEEL lauren's heart!  and it is so so special.  

sitting with the people she loves most, i TOTALLY get why it is that way. 

what a girl...what a family 

lauren...xoxoxo you exquisite girl!

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Averi...Seniors old soul

"she's an old soul whose heart speaks an all but forgotten language."  -JM Storm


i knew heidi casually in high school.  

heidi had the smile and laugh that you could see and hear coming, a mile away. 

a year older than me (i'm totally not rubbing that in heidi!), she graduated and went her own way, and a year later, i went mine. 

OF COURSE, Facebook reconnected us years ago. 

at the time, what i was speaking and sharing was right up her alley. 

her daughter averi needed to hear and be told what what i was sharing. 

but heidi, her husband, her son and averi now lived in north carolina.  

we talked about possibly getting the message there, but life took over. 

fast forward probably 6 years later, and averi is now a senior.  

averi is going into film making for her career.

i think heidi just KNEW that averi and i would click.  

averi is this beautiful old soul...

she gets things and has a sense for things, like she's been around a whole lot longer than she actually has. 

my dad always called me the same. 

averi and i...we just clicked.  


and then we literally did. 

it was magic.  

two creatives...and this is what we got.  


you see, it's not only about pictures!

it's all about "GETTING" the person you are shooting.  (even IF you are different!)

it's about going above and beyond what you promised you would. 

it's about making the experience and pictures JUST AS important to you, the photographer, as it is to the "client."

THIS is my heart, and what i THRIVE on!

meet the beautiful, and one day to be known everywhere and anywhere...AVERI.

-xoxox love!

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Quiet Creek Herb Farm - Mini Session/ families

the owners at Quiet Creek Herb Farm, are as sweet and welcoming as their beautiful farm.  Claire & Rusty just allowed me to make myself at home on their beautiful property, and what a beautiful "picture" it all turned out to be.  

these are some highlights of the first batch of special families that i got to shoot at the farm. 

more to come:!


the snell kiddos

the anderson family


and the martinis...