The Bigger Yes

When I was in high school, I once heard someone mention the idea of a "bigger yes" - something so motivating and so focusing that if you choose to say yes to it, you must, consequently, say no to other things.  But, it is worth it. 

Well, my friends - the time has come for my bigger yes.  

For the last eight years, I have had the joy of pursuing and growing in the craft of photography and the art of running a small business.  It has been encouraging and defeating.  Live giving and life depleting. All at the same time.  I have done well.  And I have bombed.  

I count it a privilege to have served my clients and hope each one has walked away with a pleasant experience.  

But, deep down, I knew this was only a creative outlet for me.  That being a photographer was never going to be enough.  It wasn't my passion-fueled dream.  It wasn't my I-would-do-this-even-if-I-never-got-paid joy.  There was an expiration date on this endeavor, even if I had no clue what that would be when it all began. 

The adventurous rollercoaster ride of being a full-time (in my spare time) photographer has reached its destination.  

I am officially announcing (for the foreseeable future) that I am no longer accepting new photography clients or pursuing new photography opportunities.  

I am, and always have been, a writer and a wordsmith encourager.  And with the few expendable hours in my days, I would like to fulfill them by doing what I have done without pay and with great passion - encourage women through writing and speaking to seek hard after Christ, to be dream chasers, to "mom" well and to love with reckless abandon.  

If you have been a photography client, thank you for entrusting me to capture your family to the very best of my ability.  If you are seeking a photographer for your needs, please scroll down for some of my very favorite friends & photographers :) 

You may still see some photography sessions posted on social media as I fulfill remaining commitments.  Please enjoy them with me!

Otherwise, I hope you will return here with me (and all the along the interwebs!) for what I hope to be a timely word and honest encouragement.  

Cheers to new adventures!!

 

*** Photography recommendations!!

Families: Lauren at LoK Photography

Weddings: Mandy at Mandy Leigh Photography

Seniors: Leah at Leah Barry Photography

The Little Red Dress // A six-year-old Annie themed birthday party

Lemme make one thing clear - this is not a how-to-throw-a-rockin'-six-year-old-birthday-party type of post.  It's more of a hey-we-threw-our-daughter-a-birthday-party-on-a-wednesday-afternoon-and-this-is-what-it-looked-like.  Just in case you came here lookin' to pin some ideas.  I don't want you to get your hopes up.  Mmm kay, pumpkin? 

Our kids get two birthday parties (5th & 6th birthdays) where we do a theme and invite friends and hand-out goodie bags and blah blah blah.  This is what we call a parenting compromise, as store-bought cake + friends = birthday success in my childhood while my husband's version looked more like mom meticulously baking and decorating a cake in birthday child's favorite character, which was eaten and enjoyed after dinner with the family. We have come to see that both have its place - typically I like whichever one we are not doing that year.  

So, back to our kids.  Elisabeth turned six earlier this month and her chosen theme (since, um, December!) was Annie.  Not the old one with that little red-headed orphan - the new one, with the feisty foster kid from Harlem.  

The soundtrack plays in our home weekly and is well loved by the girls and boys. So it only made sense for Elisabeth to pick it.  

(Apparently, though, it is less obvious to party supply stores that little ladies adore this movie since places like Party City only sell red wigs with coordinating dresses....frustrating.  And if you let me take it a step further, even the ever lovable Target hit a bit of a pothole in their poor marketing campaign for their limited Annie collection , when Quvenzhané Wallis wasn't featured - you can read more about that here and here.)

Ok, sorry.  Back to my kid's birthday.  Since we had a huge lack of resources at our disposal, we got creative and simple.  First up was the cake.  Because it is always about the cake! 

Elisabeth requested a two layer, round cake with the dot of the Annie "i" logo.  A sweet momma friend made the cake for us - it was adorable and delicious.  Check out Shelly O'Cakes if you want her to make you one!

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Next up, decorations.  

We went with a red/black/white color scheme - so anything at the party supply store that fit those colors we considered.  Simple red $1.99 table cloth paired with dahlia styled napkins and a Happy Birthday sign we found at Hobby Lobby in the Ladybug party section. I just pulled off the cute little ladybugs.  (Definitely check out the ladybug party decor for some options!)

Then we threw in a little hand-painted NYC skyline, which served as our photo booth backdrop, mixed with silver star & red heart foil balloons. Because Annie is, like, a star and she has a little heart locket (duh!!). 

 

Now, let's talk party favors.  Staying with the red/black/white concept, we chose Oreos, red M&M's and pop rocks (because, again, Annie is like a POP ROCK star) for our sweet treats. Then a red glow stick plus either a locket (for the girls) or a SUV/police car (for the boys). However, next time, everybody gets a locket, because even the boys were asking for them! 

The birthday girl dressed in a sleeveless red dress (read: reusing a Christmas dress, minus the jacket) with her very own heart-shaped locket. 

Guests arrived and were greeted by a brief movie viewing. Then, everyone was ushered outside for food and a quick balloon popping game before coming in for presents and cake & ice cream.  Easy peasy.

And judging by her grins throughout the festivities, I would say, it's not such a Hard Knock Life, after all. 

For way cooler ideas on throwing an Annie-themed party (and some that we used), check out Crazy for Crust's fabulous blog

And for some crazy awesome Annie printables, see TwentyToesDesign etsy shop (we are getting some customized thank you cards!). 

You can find the rose-colored lockets here on ebay.  We scored the coordinating chain at Hobby Lobby for $1.99 (and snipped in two to make two chains.  Score!)

Letting the crazy shine through

After a night of online rabbit trails, I came across the blog of Lisa-Jo Baker.  Her words spoke directly to my heart.  For the next hour or so (and it was a few hours past my bedtime already), I devoured her blog posts and soon found myself reading the first three chapters of her book, Surprise by Motherhood

When I came to the end of chapter three, I was undone.  Tear-stained cheeks and crumbled kleenex were all that remained of me.  I had found someone who spoke encouraging refreshment into my mommy heart and echoed words that were both new and familiar.  

I immediately emailed my husband (who was away on business travel) to tell him two things:

1.  I finally know what I want for Christmas (hint: it was the book). 

2. I want to meet Lisa-Jo  (Not a fangirl type of meet and greet.  But a sit-across-the-coffee-shop-table type of meeting where you see the story of one another come alive in their words and in their eyes). 

So I completely get it if you think my #2 statement of wanting to meet a woman I had no actual connection to outside of the blogosphere was a little weird.  Or crazy.  Or insane.  To most humans, it is. To my husband, it is. But for me, the risk is totally worth the potential reward.  

courage

 

If you have ever met me in real life, you may have seen my "Carpe Diem" tendencies; I sincerely believe life is far too short to live tucked-in like a timid turtle.  

But my courage isn't focused on adrenaline-rushing endeavors like wild rollercoasters, white water rafting or skydiving.  For some odd reason, my courage comes in meeting people, face-to-face, with the hope of pushing past superficial covers and discovering who they really are...at heart level. 

And for the last six months, I have kept this crazy little idea in the back of my brain...like a post-it note in my back pocket, ya know, just in case an opportunity arises.  During that time as well, the Lord has brought me to the place where I have permission to pursue what I love - writing and speaking encouragement to women from His Word.  

Cue googling of conferences where speakers like Lisa-Jo, Jen Hatmaker, and Bianca Olthoff  would be, because what better way to grow in your gifting than to surround yourself with ladies who are using theirs so gosh-darn well.  

But should you cross-reference each of their published calendars (like I may or may not have done), you will find something rather disappointing.  For the remainder of 2015, they do not share any common locations.  

Sad, sad day. 

Unfortunately for them, I don't give up that easily.  I took matters into my own hands and decided to tweet them my request.  

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And it worked!! (ok, maybe not worked as in "we have official plans to hang out" BUT it did solicit a reply.  Thank you for your gracious heart, Lisa-Jo.)

 

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Here's my point, friends. Go for No (That's actually a book; but I haven't read it.  My pastor shared the phrase in his sermon this week and at first I thought he got the idiomatic expression wrong, until I looked it up that is).  

How would these awesome writers, speakers, mothers, and encouragers ever know that there was another writer/speaker/mother/encourager hanging out in Northern Kentucky, so eager to grow in the gifting the Lord has given her, unless they were told?

So hopefully, now they know.  (And hopefully they read about how rad I think they are and would actually entertain this wild idea and we could one day this year even share a coffee/Coke/cookies/chocolate cake kind of conversation.  Ladies - I would totally pay for all the deliciousness too...just in case that persuades you ;)  The honest answer is probably "Sorry, @RQPierce.  We don't actually know you and our schedules are a bit full."  But maybe, just maybe...its a yes. 

Whatever crazy idea lies inside of you - may you find the 20 seconds of insane courage to go for no.  

 

***I will update you all if something pans out of this! Thanks for reading!

The Beginning

I’m beginning to think that there are certain areas of my life, of my story that God wants to use as an encouragement to others. 

To other women who may be tired or downhearted, who may be growing weary in their journey, who may just need to know that they are not alone or abnormal.  That their struggle of marriage, motherhood and womanhood is our struggle. 

And whenever I see these stories being told and re-told, that those are the stories that need to go beyond my one-on-one conversations and find a home on paper, that they may be recounted and shared as God sees fit.

So that is the official direction and vision of this blog – to share our gloriously imperfect & ordinary life with you that you may see the hope, joy and redemption that Jesus offers… to you, to me, to each of us. 

 

Liked all that stuff I posted before? Its right here!