Last week, we returned from youth camp, as well as vacation in Colorado.  I am so grateful for the trip, and it was a great escape, but we are happy to be home.  A couple of days ago, I was looking through the photos we took, and I couldn’t stop laughing at some of them.

If it had been a trip for Drew and me, we would have probably taken hundreds of photos showcasing the majesty of that beautiful state, but vacationing with kids is a different ballgame.

Honestly, though, it’s so worth it.

Here are some lessons we learned on our trip to Colorado with kids…and the photos to prove it.

1. You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit, especially with self-timers.

Seriously, this is the best we got.  You don’t want to see the others.  

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 3.58.19 PM

 

2.  Two (in a cave) are better than one.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.00.39 PM

 

3.  Kids like to climb, which means parents “get” to climb.

And that thrills my heart!

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.09.39 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.02.47 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.10.45 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.12.24 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.11.44 PM

 

4. Nobody puts baby in the corner.

She’s a world traveler.  Who knew?

5.  Kids are idealistic dreamers.

They already knew how they would spend their gold earnings.

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 4.29.01 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-27 at 4.29.15 PM

 

6.  A child carrier is a parent’s best friend.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 3.51.04 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.01.29 PM

 

7. Throwing deuces and popping into photos never get old.

8.  Colorado masters the fear of heights.

9. Snuggles on a mountain are the best.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 3.53.37 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 3.54.06 PM

 

10. Pink ice cream is a good distraction, but it’s in your best interest to just let the kid have a nap.

11.  The Olympic Training Center inspires kids.

And, the documentary makes parents cry.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.20.38 PM

 

12. Kids are expert photographers.

Yes, the last photo was taken by my 2 1/2 year old.

 

13. Dads can move mountains.

14. You might just hear, “We’re all gonna die!” from time to time…

especially if you go four-wheeling.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.05.47 PM

 

15. Pikes Peak is all fun and games until a diaper leaks.

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.18.57 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-26 at 4.16.38 PM

 

17.  Tiny kids in great big places declare the glory of God who created them both.

I wrote a blog post about all the quirky things mothers do and was going to schedule it’s posting for Mother’s Day, and then I got on Facebook.  I observed something that deeply saddened my heart, and I’ve been praying about it all week.

Today, I’m writing to the Church.  I say that, in advance, because change can only happen because of the Spirit’s work.  Ladies, we have some serious issues with each other, even within the Body of Christ, and these issues aren’t anything new.  Look backward with me for just a sec, and then I’ll explain myself.

In the first book of the Bible (Gen. 30) we read about all the drama between Leah and Rachel revolving around child-bearing.  Leah could conceive, yet remained unloved by Jacob, so she was jealous of Rachel.  And Rachel was loved by Jacob, but remained barren. When Rachel finally conceived, she said, “God has taken away my reproach!” which begs us to ask why she felt reproach when she was without child.  We know that in those times, fertility equaled blessing, but Rachel’s inner desire for a baby could have possibly added more pain to the sense of reproach.  However, I really wonder how much Leah’s ability to conceive several times, even having the boldness to say, “God has endowed me with a good endowment,” and naming her 6th son Zebulun, meaning, “honor,” played into Rachel’s reproach, as well.

Ladies, we are no different than Rachel and Leah.  Jealousy, pain, and pride often dictate how we respond to other women in and out of the Body of Christ.  I have seen mothers belittle anyone outside of the “mom club” as they overly emphasize the blessings and hardships of motherhood.  I have listened to envious comments over the time (or money) that they have to invest in other things besides family (career, the community, etc.).  I say this next statement with sensitivity to and an exclusion of those who are genuinely grieving the loss of a baby or infertility (so cover your ears if you fall into that category).  And I hate to say, women without children have the potential to be no different than mothers.  Envy can seep into hearts in the same way that Sarai held Hagar in contempt after Hagar’s pregnancy, and pride can give way to hateful comments that belittle a mother’s role or a specific mother’s imperfections in parenting.  I was the victim of such comments, myself, when I was newly married and unexpectedly pregnant, and the comments came primarily from Christian women.

A competitive breed we are, which shows each of us, at both ends of the spectrum, need Jesus. 

I don’t think the problem lies in a woman’s desire for children.  God created human bodies with the ability to procreate, and He created mothers with the unique general tendency toward nurturing relationships, so we know the desire for children is good.  I also don’t think the problem lies in mothers counting their children as blessings.  When the Spirit resides in a mother, He gives her a heart of gratefulness and a response of praise. But when desire becomes envy, and praise becomes pride (as if we have anything to do with the timing of the natural opening and closing of the womb), we compete, and Jesus is not glorified in that.

Here’s a bigger problem.  Somehow, we took the truth that “children are a blessing,” and transformed the role of mother to those “little blessings” into the highest calling we can attain.  As you know, I am a mom of 3, but may I alarm you by saying something? Though I am beyond grateful for my children, motherhood is not my highest calling.  My highest calling is to be “conformed to the image of Christ,” to BECOME LIKE HIM (Romans 8:29), and God is not limited to using children to conform and transform women.

This is a very freeing truth.  If my highest calling is motherhood, then every imperfection (and there are quite a few) in my parenting heaps shame upon my back and every seemingly good thing I do heaps pressure to succeed again.  Motherhood is burdensome if it is my highest calling because it rests on MY bearing children and MY work toward perfection.  I am also prone to compare my motherhood with the motherhood next door.  I am prone to be envious of women who “have it all together,” and get prideful when I see a woman without children.  For the woman without children, if your highest calling is motherhood, then you have to live with the weight of reproach and emptiness from the lack of children.  You are nothing without them, forever discontented if you do not have children.

However, because, in Christ, our highest calling is being conformed to the image of Christ, then the childless woman is free from reproach and the mother is free from shame.  We are free from competition, united together, contented in the Sovereignty of God, and actively being sanctified side-by-side, hand-in-hand by someone else, the Spirit. Our sanctification stories will look different (because God gets a lot of glory out of His creativity), but each of us will have equally beautiful and eternally purposeful lives.

This is not meant to downplay motherhood or childlessness.  God is absolutely concerned with the ins and outs of our lives, and He sees our grief, tiredness, and desperation.  But, if we understand that our highest calling is something eternal, sovereignly orchestrated by God, more marvelous than the desires of our hearts on this earth, ultimately pointing to HIM rather than US, then we are more prone to rejoice.

What I have pondered this week is what would happen if we women within THE Church began rejoicing over other women living out that highest calling instead of comparing motherhood with childlessness?

What would happen if mothers stopped saying things like, “WHEN you start your family [fill in the blank with something wonderful],” as if children were the sign that “you’ve arrived” and saw the beauty in women (perhaps even their own daughters!) who are more excited about sharing the Gospel than trying to “follow their dreams?”

What would happen if women without children stopped saying things like, “I don’t think she was ready for children,” as if they were more sovereign than God, and saw the beauty of a momma whom God sovereignly chose to refine through her children?

What would happen if mothers didn’t downsize the heartache of infertility and those without children didn’t downsize the heartache of parenting?  What would happen if they chose to pray over each other than pretend to understand?

What would happen if we started rejoicing over lives being actively transformed by the Gospel with as much excitement and anticipation as we rejoice at the news of a pregnancy?

What would happen if we chose to daily recognize that God has graciously adopted the undeserved, whether married or single, mother of 19 children or infertile, and every other phase of life in between as His children to spread the Gospel and His Glory to the ends of the earth as a united force?

Perhaps then mothers would recognize the need for women without children who treasure Jesus, love and serve selflessly, and desire to be conformed to the image of Christ above all else. And perhaps women without children would recognize the need for an overhaul of the current snapshot of the American family with an uprising of moms who treasure Jesus, love and serve selflessly, and desire to be conformed to the image of Christ above all else.  Then maybe, just maybe, we could celebrate on behalf of each other, that God is glorifying Himself by creatively sanctifying us in different ways. And maybe, just maybe, we’d be freed from the silly comparison games we play.

I am praying for a revival in Body of Christ with women who would do just that.  Less games. More rejoicing.

For the past 12 years, I have photographed of some of the loveliest, most wonderful clients in the world. When I took my first step into photography, I was trained on film and laboring in the dark room. I had dabbled in portraiture, and a friend asked me to shoot her wedding. Wedding photography was different then. I brought the film (color AND some black and white to get more “creative”), spaced out the photos, staging them and trying to shoot as precisely as possible, knowing at the end of the (however many rolls of) film, there would be no way of shooting more. I had to understand the technique in order to shoot and calculate the shots. In hindsight, I am so grateful to begin on film. I loved the thrill of not knowing exactly what I shot until I developed it.

 

A couple years later, Drew and I married. My photographer had just recently bought a digital 35 mm, but his wife also shot on film, just in case. It makes me laugh when I remember the relief I felt knowing the film camera was there. A new, exciting digital era was on the horizon, but I was secure in the “comfortable,” in what I knew.

 

About a year later, I bought my first digital 35 mm, a Canon 20D. A huge shift in photography was going on. Posed portraits were replaced by candid. What I once believed was “candid” now looked cheesy. Also, in our student ministry, we could see a shift in the culture through our students. They were desperately craving authenticity. With MySpace, students were sharing the good, bad and ugly, (and that only paved the way for Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media outlet) where they could share even the meaningless details of their lives, hoping for their real life stories to mean something. With the cultural desire for authenticity, along with the technical ability to delete photos straight off the camera, photography shifted, and I shifted with it.

 

2 years ago, January, Drew turned a page in ministry. We had been in student ministry for about 8 years, and God was calling him to a senior pastor position. Though not what we had planned, and honestly the worst timing from an earthly perspective (our colicky Hadleigh was a newborn and causing lots of trouble refinement), we knew it was time. We followed God’s direction to Ovilla, and we have been so blessed by that step of faith.

 

Drew and I (and a team of ladies who pray for me) have prayed over my photography role with the same fervency we prayed over Drew’s pastorate. This time, however, the answer has not been as loud and clear, but rather a gradual process. Over time, God has changed my heart to burn for the people of Ovilla and for the ministry that we have at our church. I still adore photography but have felt a great tension in how to use my time. To be totally honest, I have literally prayed God would give me a fourth child so I would know without a doubt that I needed to end this role and move on.

 

But He hasn’t given me a baby. Instead, He’s taught me a lesson.

 

What I’ve come to realize is my photography business has been giving me the same kind of security I had in that film camera at my wedding. God has been pushing me to something else, to jump wholeheartedly into ministry with my husband, a change so exciting that I don’t realize the depth of it, but I’ve been clinging to the comfortable. Unfortunately, my reluctance in giving up the business has only slowed the process to get on with the thrilling new story God has been writing.

 

It’s time to turn page.

 

It’s a scary thought to try to do something new, especially when you feel led to release your grip on something you love, but it’s even scarier for a Believer of Jesus Christ to say, “Wait a minute!” when Christ says, “Follow Me!”

 

Photography has brought great opportunities for me. I am tearing up as I write. I have never marketed myself well. Every bit of business I have had has been God kindly bringing clients to me, and the best clients in the world, at that.

 

I can’t articulate exactly what my clients have meant to me, but let me say that there is nothing like seeing new parents with their newborn, getting acquainted with that baby for the first time. It makes me remember all the new changes surrounding my firstborn’s birth almost 9 years ago. There is nothing like a family dancing and laughing on a family shoot. It makes me think of my own family, with all of our unique quirks and inside jokes. There is nothing like photographing a senior, seeing potential and beauty. It makes me recall that sweet season of my own life. AND, there is absolutely nothing like being an insider when a groom sees his bride for the first time on his wedding day. It makes me reminisce about my own groom looking at me that way, and I just want to say, “Honey, the best is yet to come!”

 

Every. Time. Memories photographed. Memories recalled.

 

God gave us a great gift in our memory, and since the 17th century (arguably before), men have attempted to make a way to have permanent copies of memories through the photographic process. I have loved taking part in making those permanent copies. It has been my joy to help YOU remember, and you have ministered to me in helping ME remember!

 

BUT, I know you are wondering about specifics. So, for potential clients, this is what it looks like…I am stepping out of photography, but I am committing through the end of this year. However, if you have inquired about a wedding date outside of that range already, don’t you worry. I will not drop a 2015 wedding if you have already been in the process of booking it.  Also, I will continue writing on this blog, perhaps more about life, home renovations, and ministry, so for the 3 of you read this blog, please continue to visit me.

 

I won’t be divorcing the camera, either. For the sake of ministry and story-telling, the camera will continue as my steadfast friend. Who knows, I might even pull out my old film cameras just for fun.

 

With great anticipation and excitement…