Ashley + John Engagement.

Ohhh Minneapolis. I love when I get asked to travel to the cities for a session. These two were so much fun, and the February weather couldn't have been any better. The stone arch bridge holds a special place in my heart for capturing engagements, and it always will! 

the power of thought.

I went to yoga this morning. I felt selfish. I left my house uncared for. I left my adventurous toddler with my mother in law to drive thirty minutes for yes, a yoga class. I moved through class with negative feelings and realized that our thoughts have this remarkable power over our life. You can make your world or break it just by thinking. I was hurting because I was painfully aware of the thought that taking time for myself was wrong. This year I transitioned from working full time to staying home with McCoy. If you are a stay at home mom or parent I wish I could give you a thousand brownies..or venti iced coffees. My point is, the act of waking each day and going somewhere gives your soul a purpose. I’ve sort of shamed myself into thinking that I need to be cooking and cleaning all day to prove to my husband that I’m being productive, when he could really care less anyways. 

Thoughts. They make us or break us. Can I tell you something that I’ve learned during this transition? I’ve experienced both. I’ve felt the struggles of having to leave my baby every day to go to work so that heaven forbid our health insurance is paid for. And I’ve felt the isolation of being in a home for 10 hours each day, reading book after book, singing song after song. Frankly, some days I wish the wheels on that stupid bus would just fall off or Elmo would just sleep. But no matter which way the tables are turned for you, I promise that the love you have for your child will be the same.  There is no such thing as ‘I would be happier if…’ because you can choose to be happy now. I felt the heat sink heavily into my hips and I accepted that with every season comes transition and change.

So in this complex and frustrating world, today I show up as a mother, who sometimes sucks at the whole thing. But I will show up anyways. I will be a friend, teacher, and ass wiper to my toddler because I rest in peace knowing that each and every day he has me. And I have him. And that’s just enough to not quit. 

Randi + Jeff Wedding

It's hard to come up with the right words when I try to describe this day. I adore these two. Something about this day was so real. I cried behind the lens during the entire ceremony. I missed my husband. This day pretty much summarizes how love should be, every single part of it. 

Simple. Relaxed. Overflowing. Brave. Intimate.

I am so so excited to introduce to you all these moments of Randi and Jeff's wedding. It was truly incredible.  

journey.

Wow! I feel like I have been away from this space for months.  I’m currently riding back from Colorado, a mini road trip Nick and I had been waiting to go on for months.  I bought him concert tickets for his birthday right smack in the middle of us building our house. His face lit up, a pure motivation tool to make him believe that he can do this; that the fifteen hour work days of building homes and then building ours during the evenings would be completely worth it. This trip was planned as sort of a finale to this year.  Our ‘record year’ if you will.  I’m not going to spend much time writing about our experiences this past year because as hard as it sometimes was, I know that I am forever thankful for that time and someday I will be reminded of its significance in our life.  We drove fifteen hours, drank way too much coffee, and hiked beautiful scenery like I’ve never seen.  After a year of working, business promoting, homebuilding, learning how to care for an infant, my heart had finally settled.  I remember leaving a nine hour work day followed by a client meeting and then a trip to the plumbing store where I sat on ten different toilets to pick out for our house.  It seemed as though every night was similar to this. I sobbed, right there on the Kohler, truly believing in my head that this chapter of our life was never going to end.  I somehow managed to find gratitude in my heart and to feed our baby night after night, but not always myself.  I sat on a tree about a mile up a mountain and thought about that moment. I saw a million beautiful things and heard absolutely nothing, as if my life was silent for a small second. It was quiet and still.  My husband smiled, sat next to me, and we looked at each other graciously believing that we had made it.  Still quiet, I was reminded that this little place in the woods is only part of the journey.  There is still so much mountain to be discovered, much like our life.  This year of our life, the messy and the wonderful, is only part of our journey because entirely, that’s what life is and it never stops which is such an amazing thing.  I looked back down the mountain and then up it.  I saw infinate beauty both ways.  And that feeling, the acceptance of what was behind me and what is still to come, set me free more than ever.  

The Lord, my friends, moves mountains.  And he will move you too.

 

 

 

lifestyle newborn // shay robben.

being welcomed into homes with new life is one of the best parts of my job. i was lucky enough to photograph one of my favorite families and a really great friend as she welcomes her second baby into this world.  Shay Robben, you're just as beautiful as your mama. Xo.

kelsey and ted.

i can't get enough of this wedding. my heart was on fire the entire day and it was a moment where i will be so grateful that i ever picked up a camera - to capture moments like this. congrats to them, i can't wait to see what their future holds!

he takes care.

He placed the tall pink drink in front of me, sliced a pineapple and slid it perfectly onto the rim of the glass.  He smiled. I watched this man behind the bar as he made drink after drink, cutting fruits, squeezing limes, making each and every glass as if it would be for the last customer he’d ever serve. Perfect. Nick started conversing with him and we learned his name was Armando and when he’s not working, he likes to fish, mostly for grouper and tarpan. Clueless to what these were, I sipped my fruity beverage while the two of them exchanged stories and photos. I started thinking. When I arrived here on vacation, I looked at each of the hundreds of employees and it never even crossed my mind that each of them live somewhere, probably have families, and hobbies beyond working a twelve hour day in the boiling sun. I started wondering how the Lord works in each and every person in the world and calls them to work somewhere, fall in love with certain things and certain someones, and how he uses each of us to change the world little by little.  I thought about McCoy and all of the adventures that are ahead of him.  I wondered what he’ll be good at, what he’ll enjoy, and what direction God will lead him.  And then I started thinking about myself.  Someone, who in the last eight months, I haven’t thought about, not even just a little.  Becoming a parent changes you.  Realizing you will never ever be a perfect one changes you even more.  I kept thinking, digging deep into my heart, asking God what direction I should go.  I felt selfish.  How can I think about myself when I have a tiny human to care for? How can I feel okay about taking this vacation when there is so much to be done? When I am a wife and a daughter and when there is an entire family that needs me.  But here I sit, toes in the water, witnessing paradise, and as much as I feel the need to think about others, He keeps bringing me back to myself.  

The art of creating a balanced life comes very naturally when we accept that changes and transition will always be the constant.  Happiness is not something that just happens to you, it happens for you. When, of course, your are ready to take the time and feel it.  The good, the bad, the hard, the holy.  I know the Lord is pulling me in certain directions I just haven’t taken one minute to actually consider them. He wants me to capture moments, raw instants, and he wants me to share them with the world.  I can feel him pushing me to heal people with movement and with breath.  The idea, however, of sitting in front of a room full of people with all eyes on me sort of makes my stomach turn.  And yet I want that feeling more than anything in the world.  And for all of the reasons I keep turning away, He keeps leading me back.

The important thing to remember is this: show up.  Listen, experience, fail, and keep trying.  The more I walk in my relationship with Christ, the more I realize that life has never been about meeting expectations.  It’s for being you, exactly the way you are, and having a little bit of bravery to keep showing up because you owe it to yourself.

He will take care of the rest. 

 

 

  

 

you will and you won't.

It’s been awhile.  Nearly three months since I’ve even come close to opening my journal.  I stare at it each morning, tucked perfectly between five books on my shelf that have also yet to be read.  2015 was a big year for us.  We had a baby, sold our house, and we are in the process of searching for land to hopefully build on this coming year and I’m using all of these things as my excuses for ignoring the words, thoughts, and ideas that I would consistently write down.  Overall, the last seven months have forced me to be in transition mode both physically and emotionally and it’s taken me until now to realize that maybe that’s okay.

On top of everything happening in my life, I find myself wanting to do more.  After McCoy was born and we moved in with my in laws, the amount of control I had over the things that were happening in my life went down to zero.  Because of this, I was forcing things onto my heart that I already loved in order to take back any control that I could.  In return, they attacked me.  My love for health turned into sugar detoxes and intense and painful treadmill runs.  My yoga practice became forced and every benefit I naturally could receive from it would never happen.  I was trying to be a mama to my babe in a house full of eight and I began resenting the people that are so dear to me.  I struggled with myself because I never began writing the book I was going to write.  I never ran that half marathon I was going to run.  And I never brought any change to the world through my words - something I’ve so deeply wanted.

And then New Years Eve, it hit me.  Without transition in our lives there will never be growth.  Whenever we are going through something that we want so badly to end, we have to remember that it is only the beginning - there are so many beginnings, so many blessed moments to start something, change something, to recover from.  A woman reminded me that healing the world begins with us.  With you and me.  A long time ago I had a dream to use my words to make this world a better place.  Another year has passed and I’m still not entirely sure how to do this.  But we need it.  Someone needs it.  And in my heart I will find you.  God has a plan for your life, for mine too.  He does not want or expect us to be in control and until we accept this and place all that we have on him, a cluttered mind will continue.  He wants us to heal.  To live with freedom and grace and trust that a content heart under any and all circumstances is the secret to happiness.  

My New Year’s eve was spent wiping spinach and pears off my baby’s rosy cheeks.  I snuggled into bed and 9:00 and reflected on all of the things I did and did not accomplish this year.  I smiled, realizing that I probably should have changed his diaper one last time before bed, and together we drifted into sweet sweet sleep.  Whatever it is you’re searching for, or praying to happen, or to change, or to stop.  Whatever it is you’d like to accomplish this year.  The truth is, you will and you won’t.  

And that is so so wonderful.  

 

 

 

holiday sale!

i'm currently offering $200 off wedding packages during the month of december! i hope you have a heart filled holiday season with your family and loved ones. 

rock-a-bye-baby.

If you would have asked me two months ago, before our house went on the market, I never would have told you how much I'm going to miss this place.  It was one of those moments where you're really not sure how much you love something until it's gone.  The truth is, I love this place.

Our first home. The home we became husband and wife in. The home where Beretta destroyed a dozen rugs and shoes and hats. The home that made me a mother. Saying good bye is a little bittersweet. My heart is filled with memories from these walls and yet I know someday we'll have a new place with new adventures and new life. 

This past weekend was spent moving our things.  Piece by piece we reflected on our short time together.  Now that we've piled these boxes into our temporary home, I'm hoping to be able to settle them into their new places so that we can feel less like we're camping and more like we're home.  Home; a place where your individual soul becomes a family soul. The place where messy floors mean well nourished belly's. Where art meets simplicity and where love shines always.

Have a wonderful Monday my sweet friends.


Vegan Granola Bars

 

Yesterday, I baked.  I destroyed the kitchen and drank the largest pressed coffee of my life. Coy boy took a solid three hour nap and I savored over these chocolate loves all afternoon.  If you're in search of the yummiest, nuttiest, and most filling granola bars ever, try these.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup mixed dried fruits (I used chopped apricots)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter)
  • 2 tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch sea salt
  • Chocolate topping
  • ¼ cup (40 g) dairy-free dark chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Toast your quinoa in a 350˚F degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, add walnuts and almonds, and pulse on low until they are roughly chopped.
  3. Add rolled oats and pumpkin seeds and pulse just until the oats and seeds are broken up.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl and add the toasted quinoa and remaining ingredients (from sunflower seeds to sea salt). Stir until well combined.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8x8 inch dish lined with parchment paper so they lift out easily when ready to cut. Press the mixture down firmly into the pan, spreading out evenly to the edges. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing into 10 bars.
  6. Melt the dark chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pot of water on low heat, or in the microwave. Dip the top of each bar into the melted chocolate and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Freeze 15-20 minutes for the chocolate to harden. Store bars in the fridge in an airtight container.

 

love from the inside out.

Elizabeth, we need to do an emergency c-section, we’re losing the heartbeat. 

Suddenly the words I never wanted to hear were said to me loud and clear.  They struck my heart like lightening and I could feel my lips begin to shake.  There is a moment during childbirth where you no longer care what is happening the room.  You’re not concerned with the gaping parts of your body or how vulnerable you feel.  Your attention is solely directed at the tiny soul inside of you.  The process you dreamed about for nine months suddenly becomes the kind you refused to allow yourself to think about.  You experienced hours of intense breathing and pain mixed with purpose and love.  You make it nine centimeters naturally, exactly how you imagined it to be, and suddenly everything changes and a storm of failure rushes through your pain filled core.  

I treated labor and the ability to complete it naturally like it was some sort of victory that I needed in my life.  Like it would somehow define my strength as a woman.

I remember being ran down the halls.  I remember the red lights beaming above me, shining off my protruding belly, displaying to the entire hospital that something was wrong with me.  I remember feeling my husband’s grip being stripped from mine.  I remember a cold, bright room filled with what felt like hundreds of hospital staff.  I wished I was back in my delivery room where it was warm and lit softly with light.  Where everything hurt but everything was perfect.  I remember them telling me to breathe.  To keep breathing.  I remember feeling a kind of fear like I never had before.  And I remember in the middle of it all, thinking about my tiny babe, and asking God for protection and strength.  And then it was dark.  

Looking back on that day I see now that in the most vulnerable way, God was initiating me into the strong role that it requires to become a mother.  I’m still learning a million lessons from that moment.  The hours of waiting, each of the painful breaths that in some such way got me through to the next.  How one second of doubt suddenly made me realize the amount of bravery that is actually inside of me.  That sometimes an imperfect situation results in something so purely flawless.  And how childbirth, no matter what the process is like, will never be a measure that is used to determine the amount of strength in a woman.  Childbirth becomes a place in which the hard meets the holy.  Where your plans unfold and where what’s happening is exactly what’s supposed to be happening even though what you might be feeling is doubt.  It’s where life, the real kind, becomes tangible.  Where we are honest with ourselves and our bodies and where patience gifts us with the most delicate souls touching our barest limbs and where every single disappointment and unknown all of a sudden become victories.

We come out winners, always.

Giving birth to our baby was not how I imagined it to be.  It’s something I never wish for any woman. Somewhere between the lights and the noise, however, I found peace.  I knew he was healthy.  I knew I was healthy.  And somehow the kind of childbirth I never ever wanted to experience became the best thing that’s ever happened in my life.  The best kind of victories are the ones that bring warmth and love and the power to believe that God’s plan is the right one no matter what.

Always have hope my sweet friends.  Miracles are coming.

I have so much gratitude for the sweet nurse who grabbed our camera in the middle of all of the chaos.  Being able to look back on the moments where I couldn’t be there and the one’s where he connected with me physically for the first time are something that I will cherish forever.