Monday, December 3, 2012

Shelf Life

This shelf has been in our family for as long as I can remember. It was made by my Grandpa Al and has housed knick knacks and figurines in every home I can recall from my childhood. When I got married and we got our first apartment, I asked my mother if I could have it and of course she was thrilled that I wanted it.

Here it is in all of it’s fall-themed glory (let’s just say lots of things have improved since then…)


And then when we bought our little house, I pulled out old faithful to display my vintage camera collection


But one thing has always bothered me about the shelf: it’s SO heavy and dark! The moment you enter the room, your eye is immediately drawn to the sucker- especially if you decorate in whites, greys, and creams as I usually do. So what’s a girl to do? I think you know…


A little paint and some light sanding does the trick every time.

We’re pulling down Christmas decorations this week (I made it my goal to wait until after Vesper’s birthday!) so I plan to pull out my beloved white nativity set for display!



Vesper’s 1st Birthday!

Our little girl turned one this past weekend! We had a little gathering of some close friends and family members and we centered her party decorations around her best friend- our Cocker Spaniel, Lucy! Here are a few snippets!


We served up some “lolli-pups”, “pup-cakes”, and of course “Puppy Chow” along with pizza and chips. I made all of the decorations with things we already had, so the party only cost us money for food! But most importantly, she had an absolute blast! thanks so much to everyone who made her first birthday so special! We love you guys!

xo, Chels

Friday, November 30, 2012

One. Year. Old.

A letter to my firstborn on her first birthday:


Oh my little Sparrow Child… where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was completely frantic with worry that you would not be warm enough, eat enough, sleep enough, poop enough, and that I could never be enough to deserve such a perfect little gift as you… I suppose I still have those worries in the back of my mind at times, but you are moving full speed ahead with no regard for my wishes that you would remain small and innocent and full of absolute joy and light forever. Apparently no amount of wishing will keep you in those tiny pink jammies that your Aunt Sarah bought for you, or that perfect watermelon romper that was mine when I was a baby. No matter how many times I ask God to just freeze time so I can remember you just exactly this way- your bright innocent eyes, your tiny mischievous smile, barely-there red-blonde curls, your Daddy’s nose, and sticky hands reaching for my face to plant a sloppy kiss- it just seems to keep pushing on. Even when I ask you to please stop… just wait for mommy… you rush ahead- rolling over, sitting up, crawling, talking, walking, and now running away- my heart held tightly in your chubby little fist.

You are an absolute wonder, my dear. I try to remind myself daily that I can only protect you from so much and that I must let you fall every now and again so that you know how to pick yourself up (and believe me, you do plenty of falling these days. Learning to walk is risky business!) I try not to get wrapped up in worrying who you will become and how I can help to shape that, because the truth is that who you are to become has already been decided without my input, and I have no doubt that our perfect Creator would create nothing less than beauty in His image… I try to let go… when you get hurt and you want me to pick you up but immediately push me away again; when you want to walk instead of be carried; when you want to stand up a little too high; and when you are being less than reasonable and I know that if I could just make you understand, everything would be all right… I try to let go, because the last thing I want to be is a hindrance. I never want to prevent your light from shining because you have so much of it inside of you. I only ever want to reflect that light directly back onto you so that you can see and understand just how truly special you are. I want you to be able to see yourself as I see you- bright and radiant as the sun. I pray that as you continue sprinting towards your future, the world does not shield a single ray of that light and that someday when they tell your story, they will begin, “once upon a time, there lived a brave, beautiful, and completely wild and stubborn young girl who set the world on ablaze…”

But I’m getting ahead of myself… it’s only been a year (Has it really only been a year?) and we have so much more to learn from each other. I know that right now you think I’m mostly just in your way- and I guess that’s partly true. I stand in the way of things that could hurt you and even when you insist on touching or being close to those things, I stand firm because the little wisdom I have gained in my short 26 years of life tells me that little legs quickly get tired, little heads can easily be bruised, little fingers sometimes get smashed, and still I try to remember that little hearts are what’s truly important. You will only fit safely in my arms for so long, Little Bird, so please allow me to hold you before you fly away…

For now I’m going to kiss your booboos and wipe your tears and and smooth your little red-blonde curls. I will scoop you up to hold you tight even when you push me away. I probably always will… Because I spend so much time and energy trying to be a woman from whom you can learn and even though I fail at being graceful or eloquent or witty or organized or successful or righteous more often than not, I know for a fact that the one thing I will never EVER fail at is loving you. It has become as natural and necessary as air to my lungs.

I love you, Vesper Kaylyn. Thank you for making me a mother one year ago… Happy 1st Birthday, my love!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve officially undergone a major transition here at the Ahlgrim Haus. I, Chelsea Ahlgrim- the girl who in college swore she was a liberated woman and would always work outside the home- am officially a stay-at-home mom. Two weeks ago I left behind my  high heels, pencils skirts, and corporate office job in favor of leggings, cardigans, and food crumbs in my hair. And I love it. And I feel so blessed to have been able to do this! I spend every day with my little girl and she brings me so much joy! It’s been quite a transition, but I feel fairly certain that it is EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be.

I’m excited for the impending holiday season because I get to actually enjoy them without the black cloud of returning to work looming over my head. Does anyone else experience that? My holidays and weekends used to be practically ruined every time I considered the fact that I would have to return to work in X number of hours. Now I live what I love.

Is it easy? hell no. In fact, it’s more difficult- physically, mentally, and emotionally- than any other job I’ve ever held. But it’s ten times more rewarding. I got to see my little girl take her first steps. She’s learned four new words/ phrases since I came home, and making her laugh is such an amazing feeling. My husband can come home to a (mostly) clean house, and I’m not too tired to cook dinner anymore. I also have a regular devotional time again. Before, it was difficult to find time to sit and read and be with the Lord because I spent the majority of my day in the office. Now I sit down every morning between 8:30 and 9 a.m. and have a sweet time of rejoicing, praise, and confession with God.

But that’s not the only transition we’ve made. My husband switched jobs and also took on an internship at our church. There has been lots of growth around here recently and I feel as though God is preparing our hearts for even more growth and change. Adding another little one to our family in March will certainly shake things up, but I feel like there’s more headed our way… we’ll just have to wait and see.

So appropriate that this transition has happened during the month of November, when being thankful is at the forefront of our minds. I can’t even describe how blessed I feel- even on the days that are hard.

More updates: I’m no longer able to take sessions for 2012, and I won’t start booking 2013 until after the baby comes next Spring. That is one LONG leave of absence, but it’s something I’ve prayed about and feel strongly about for our family.  I’ll be doing a post soon with many sessions that I’ve not blogged yet! There are lots!

Also, IT’S A BOY! and we couldn’t be happier!


thanks so much to all of our friends and family for their continued love and support throughout all of our changes recently. We love you and couldn’t do it without you!



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pregnancy Updates

How far along: 15 weeks

Gender: unknown (we find out November 2nd!)

Name: We have some ideas, but not ready to reveal yet!

Total weight gain: zero. actually, -10. I got the stomach flu about a month ago, and haven't had much appetite since!

Maternity clothes: Not quite yet. About ready to work that rubber band-fly trick, though!

Stretch marks: Psh. I've had stretch marks since I was 15. All real women have them.

Sleep: Not great. I'm trying to go to bed earlier to sneak in some extra, but between my hips acting up (a pre-existing issue exasperated by expanding joints) a restless pup, a full bladder, and a husband with an early wake up time, I'm just in and out quite a bit. Feeling spurts of energy here and there, but mostly pretty tired.

Miss Anything: Sushi. Sushi, sushi, sushi. And lunch meat. I could murder a Jersey Mike's #2... with such a low appetite, it's irritating to not be able to eat the few things I DO crave! I've given in a couple of times with both- getting tempura sushi and having a mini sub, but I've been pretty good for the most part.

Cravings: sushi, sub sandwiches, strawberries. That's really about it.

Symptoms: rushing to the restroom constantly, aching back, hips, and pelvis, fatigue. That's about it.

Belly Button in or out: In

Mood: kind of gloomy, but trying to remember it's just hormones. There are really great things happening in our lives right now! I have no reason to be sad!

Best Moment this week: Ryan's graduation and dinner with our families. So proud of him, and Vesper got to go too!

Looking forward to: Probably some more sushi now that I've been talking about it :)

Exercise: none until my next appointment. I'll spare you the details, but I was told to refrain for a while.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I don’t know why I’m writing this now. I've only spoken about this a handful of times. Maybe it has something to do with Vesper hitting a growth spurt and feeling a little nostalgic. I just feel like maybe writing this out will be helpful to someone. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe it will make all of you gasp in horror and think that I’m a terrible, terrible person.

Either way, I’m committed to being honest in this space, so here goes.

Let me start by saying that I have never loved a single person or thing the way that I love my little Birdy. She has absolutely become her Mommy and Daddy’s joy! Her bright eyes and toothy grin paired with chubby little hands reaching upward, wanting to be in my arms… it just makes me melt. I’m smitten! But to be completely honest, it wasn’t always that way.

I wasn’t one of those mothers who fell in love with her child the moment she heard those tiny squawks of life. It didn’t happen the first time I held her in my arms, and it didn’t happen the first time I nursed her. It didn’t happen when I brought her home either… In fact, after the first week or so, I began to worry that I might never feel about this child the way every mother describes: unconditional, sun shine-y, puffy hearts and rainbows love. It wasn’t that I hated, resented, or even disliked the kid. I wasn’t even mildly annoyed by her. Far from it. What I was, was absolutely terrified. I was so anxiety-ridden that I could not possibly feel anything but fear.

The first several weeks of her life are mostly a blur to me. I vaguely remember visits from family and friends, a string of home-cooked meals generously lavished upon us- which I barely ate- pain from recovery and from the newness of nursing a newborn who never seemed quite satisfied, and darkness. I spent a lot of time awake when it was dark.

What I do remember is being stuck inside my own head. I remember that Vesper wasn’t gaining any weight and it seemed like she nursed ALL the time. I remember beating myself up because in my mind I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even keep the kid fed properly. Millions of women have done this for millions of years, and somehow I couldn’t handle it.

I remember doubt- How can I ever possibly hope to keep her warm enough? I’ll probably never be able breastfeed and everyone will judge me as I make formula bottles for her. I will never be able to sleep again. I will never be attractive to my husband again, and on top of that, he’s going to think I am crazy because I cry all the time at the drop of a hat.

I remember my irrational fear of leaving the house because wherever we went, she is just going to cry and annoy those around us and they’d see that I am terrible at this and we’d have to leave. Or worse, what if I had to nurse in public?! And what if I flashed a crowd of strangers?!

I remember desperately wishing that visitors would leave because I didn’t want them to hang around long enough to see me fail at this whole parenting thing.

I remember not wanting to be alone with Vesper- not because I didn’t like her, but because I was pretty sure I couldn’t take care of her by myself.

I remember worrying that she could tell that I was failing, and that she would hate me because of it.

I remember seriously considering antidepressants.

And I remember trying to explain all of this to my husband, who (bless his heart) just couldn’t understand and was frustrated that he couldn’t help his poor, sniveling wife. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back now, I can say with quite a bit of certainty that I was most definitely suffering from Post Partum Depression.

This went on for weeks. Sometimes Ryan would come home from work and I would make up an excuse to go out “to the drug store.” I would go buy a Dr. Pepper, park my car in a parking lot, and just cry. I just wanted some time to be by myself and just… cry.

It was a very, very lonely time for me. Here I was with a beautiful, healthy baby girl for whom I had prayed for so long. She was mine. And she was damn near perfect. And I was crying in a parking lot, wishing I could take it all back just so I wouldn’t have to fail her and my husband…

Something you should know about me: I don’t like for people to see me fail. When I was learning to ride a bike, I wouldn’t let anyone help me. My mom would watch me from the kitchen window as I fell over and over and over… but I got back up. And yes, I can ride a bike now.

The irrational fear was slightly lessened when I took Vesper in for her 1 month check up –by myself thankyouverymuch (and almost had a nervous breakdown)- and the pediatrician said a phrase that set me free “she’ll be perfectly healthy regardless of what you decide to feed her.” And then my husband echoed that sentiment, “I don’t care either way if you nurse her or not. I don’t know why you’re putting so much pressure on yourself.” After pumping several times to measure volume, I finally admitted that my body just simply wasn’t producing enough milk to feed my baby girl. She wasn’t getting enough to eat and all I wanted was for her to be healthy. If that meant putting her on a diet of formula, then so be it.

But the big turning point came after a conversation with my sister-in law, Nansie. I texted her before-hand and warned her that I was going to call, but that I was doing the ugly-cry. When I called, she answered even though she was at work. She gave me the best advice I could have been given: get out of the house. “Even if you just go through the drive-thru. Put her in her carseat, and go somewhere. She might cry, but who cares? You’re in your car and you can easily go home. When you’re ready to go out to eat, just be prepared to get your food to go.” She also said, “and get her some pacifiers. You might have to train her to like them, but it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.” And then this: “it’s a dance. You just have to learn to dance together.”

I was skeptical, but I tried. That night, Ryan and I put our sweet baby in the car and went to look at the Christmas lights in town. Then we went to Babies R Us and I got to go into the store all by myself and pick out pacifiers for her. No major incidents.

The next day, I decided to be brave. I put Vesper in her carseat and she didn’t make a peep. Maybe this wasn’t so hard. We went to the pharmacy and as I walked her around in the cart, sure enough, she started to fuss. I could feel my heart racing as I tried to convince her that she liked the pacifier. I fumbled with a bottle and formula and tried to determine if her diaper was wet. I was just about to leave when I turned the corner and saw a sweet old woman standing in the aisle.

“Oh, I just knew it was a brand new one when I heard that cry! I said, ‘Oh Lord bless that baby!’ What is her name?”

I answered, “Vesper. And she’s not too happy with me at the moment.” Feeling I needed to apologize for disrupting her shopping experience.

“And an answered prayer she is!” said the woman. (Side note: Vesper’s name means “evening prayer”- a connection rarely made by anyone!)

And then without even a pause she held her hand over my daughter and prayed for her. A beautiful, simple prayer that asked God to be with Vesper and make her healthy and strong. She asked God to give me strength and rest as her mother and she thanked Him for the beautiful gift that is motherhood.

I had tears in my eyes as I thanked her for praying for us. She just patted my shoulder and walked away.

I’m not going to say that was my ebenezer. My mind didn’t become instantly clear and my heart didn’t have a radical change that allowed me to appreciate all aspects of motherhood right at that very moment. But it was a beginning. I had a renewed sense of hope. I could do this.

I wasn’t ready to take whole days at a time, so I took things hour by hour. I began to feel more comfortable reading Vesper’s signs- hunger, fatigue, wet diaper, repeat. I started to feel things again. We learned our dance together…

And somehow, all of those hours have turned into nearly ten months and Vesper has gone from a scrawny little newborn to a chubby, giggly little almost-walking baby girl-child. And somewhere along the way it happened: I found that silly, forever and ever, puffy hearts love. Or maybe she found it in me… I’m not sure. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure how we’ve kept her alive this long! (Must be the formula!). I just know she's awesome. And I'm her mom. I am the mother of that awesome little thing that is sleeping in the next room.

I don’t think I’m finished learning the dance yet. It seems to change day by day. Pretty soon I’ll be learning a new dance with our second baby, and I already feel the anxiety well up in my throat when I think about it. But this time I know things I didn’t know before. I know that crying does not equal failure. I know a few tricks for getting him to sleep, and a few tricks for keeping my sanity when he won’t because I know that no matter how unlikely it seems, that baby will sleep eventually. And I know that I have the potential to provide nourishment to him whether it’s by breast or bottle. And I know that I have the choice and no one can make me decide based on trends. I know that I will cry and I will worry and I will doubt. But I also know that God is in control, and no matter how many times I fall, He’s going to keep picking me back up.

So I guess we’ll just keep dancing…


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Every year around this time I have to ask my husband at least ten times to please change the channel. I just can’t bear the footage from that horrible day… I can’t believe it’s been eleven years. I recently told a coworker this fact- that I just can’t stomach watching those towers fall over and over against amidst black smoke, sirens, and terrified screams and shouts. I can’t sit and listen to people give their accounts of their last phone calls from their loved ones as a plane went down over a field… I can’t do it. She responded that it was necessary for us to see those things to be reminded of how awful it really was- that we might forget if we don’t see it. Maybe that works for some people. In fact, I know it does. My brother in-law, a fireman, wrote an essay regarding exactly this topic earlier today. He mentioned that he had art placed at the firehouse so that he could see it every single time he walked out of his office. That’s how he remembers. That’s how a lot of people need to remember.

I guess I’m on the opposite end. I don’t need to see it to remember. I don’t need to be reminded in order to recall how I felt that day and in the weeks immediately following. The feeling of my insides being turned to heavy stone and my face being dry and puffy from tears… It’s the same way I feel today and any time I reflect on those events. It’s this strange mix of absolute terror, pride, sadness, anger, and denial. But now, eleven short years later, there’s a new emotion that has begun to surface: joy.

It seems there has been a lot of talk this year about “forgetting.” That maybe we’ve already begun to let the memory of those lost lives fade from our hearts and minds. That somehow it just doesn’t have the same sting as it used to.

I’m forced to disagree.

For those of us that were alive on September 11, 2001, we will never- ever- forget. How could we? You don’t just leave behind that kind of pain. You remember. But maybe you begin to stitch it back together. Maybe you find a way each day to pick yourself up and continue to live, and maybe somehow you find that joy is possible again. Maybe you take that remembrance and you do something with it.

Maybe now that we’ve cleared the rubble, and built monuments, and said speeches, and made art, and written poetry and essay after essay after essay, and seen lives lived not in absence of pain, but through it…maybe we’re starting to feel peace again. And maybe… just maybe... that remembrance has begun to take a different form. It still causes our voices to catch, our eyes to water, our hearts to speed up, and our bodies to go numb, but there’s something else there.

It’s not forgetting that we’re doing. It’s healing. It’s rebuilding. It’s regaining hope and faith… and joy. It’s possible. And we’re doing it. And we will never forget how it felt to have the absence of joy…

Sunday, September 9, 2012


This is a story about vomit. You should stop here...

The Ahlgrim Haus is sick. How sick? I took a shower in my clothes today. That's how sick. So. Much. Puke.

It all started last Sunday while we were visiting my mother in Tulsa. What was supposed to be a lovely weekend quickly turned south as I threw up in a Walmart parking lot. I didn't have a hair tie... I just wrung my hair out and kept walking. Let's all pause and admire my poise. The nausea lasted for almost two days, and other even more disgusting symptoms hung around even longer.

Fast forward to today. Still having said symptoms and unable to handle meat, dairy, or sugar. (This would be the best diet in the world if I wasn't 11 1/2 weeks pregnant.) So here we are enjoying a quiet Sunday. We had breakfast out, we bought a lovely new cream-colored shag rug, and settled in to just enjoy our day together. I had just (basically force) fed Vesper some carrots and milk, gave her a quick bath and set her down to play on our pretty new rug.  Then it happened.

Orange vomit.

Poor baby girl... Then happened again. On the cream-colored chair... and all over me. This is a good time to remind you that pregnancy causes a certain degree of sensitivity to sights and smells...

My husband said slowly, "just breathe, baby..." as he lifted my slick, orange child off of my lap.

I followed a baby around all afternoon with a bucket and a towel. I'm exhausted from being sick and pregnant and my husband is exhausted from taking care of sick people, bless his heart.

I'm resting in God's grace right now and trusting that it's sufficient. I'm also overwhelmed with gratitude by the generosity and kindness we've received just in the last week. Friends offering rides and meals, coworkers helping out- it's truly appreciated. We love all of you!


Saturday, September 8, 2012


Listening To:

All Sons and Daughters
I’m absolutely in love with their sound and the heart of worship they portray through it. Their lyrics speak directly to my spirit.

Dave Ramsey's book Entreleadership
This is a book that my husband recommended to me. I’m finally at a place where I can make my photography business a little more official, but I want to make sure I’m doing it the right way. This book is super motivating and spiritually based. It’s got extremely sound advice so I’m hopeful I can glean some good information from it.

Diana Gabaldon's second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber
It moves a bit slower than the first book, but it’s got the same mystery, action, romance, and science fiction rolled into one book that made me love the first one. It’s a loooong read, but I just love the main characters so much I can’t stop reading it! If you like historical fiction, I strongly suggest you check out this series!
Not much, to be honest. I’ve been sick with a nasty stomach virus and I’m just now able to handle a few things besides saltines and Gatorade. It’s brutal being sick when you’re pregnant. You can’t take regular medicines, you’re already exhausted, and your immune system is pretty weak. I’m glad to be feeling somewhat normal again.

This should come as no surprise: FALL! Oklahoma weather does this silly thing where it gives us a week or so of nice, “cooler” temperatures (80s) making us think it’s just going to keep going down and down and then all of a sudden it just shoots right back up into triple digits! Sneaky… Nothing says Autumn like drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte in 103 degree heat, right? I’m ready to slip on a big sweater, skinny jeans, and boots for some lovely Fall days!

Election years. I just can’t handle the political posts by people who are uninformed or misinformed. The left is so far left and the right is so far right that it really makes my head hurt. Part of me wants to just yell and scream and correct them, but the other part of me just wants to stay completely out of it. I’ll vote come election day, and I don’t need to drag anyone else down on my way to the polling place. Why can’t we be friends?
Family time. Ryan is officially done with college! His graduation ceremony is later this month and that means we get him all to ourselves in the evening! He had previously been doing homework five nights a week and that makes for a sad Momma and Vessie. We like playing games and having dinner and bath time and bedtime together in the evenings now! So grateful for a man who works hard and honors his commitments, but I’m also glad he’ll be around a lot more!
Wanting to Remember
That Vesper clapped for the very first time this morning. She mimics sounds now and says “Dadda,” “uh oh,” and “Ba” (bottle). She’s crawling and pulling up on everything around her and her top two front teeth popped through last weekend! I love seeing that big ol’ cheesy grin with those teeny tiny teeth. She also learned to “high five” a couple of days ago. It’s just a really wonderful age and I want to soak up every minute of it.

Humans of New York is absolutely my jam. The candid style of the photos is just breathtaking! And  you know that there are things you can only see in New York! But the captions are what make the photos really great. Check it out!



We’re thrilled to announce that we’re expecting another little bean due to arrive next Spring! Better unpack those stretchy pants I just boxed up…



Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Just Jesus

I don’t often have posts that relate solely to my faith- although, I’m not sure why, since it’s a huge part of my life. That’s probably another post for another day… today I’m going to share with you one of my deepest, darkest secrets. I’ve only admitted this to one other person in the whole world. The only reason I’m bringing it up now is because the older I get, and the more I grow in Christian community with my brothers and sisters in Christ, the more I firmly believe that I am not the only one with this secret. So here it is:

I don’t really like reading the Bible.

Huh. That seems so much less “deep and dark” typed out on a page. ‘Such an unassuming little phrase. ‘Much less climactic than I expected.

The problem is that it IS dangerous. I’m a follower of Christ- a believer. I should want to read the Bible. I should crave it. I should get so wrapped up in it that I cry and leap for joy all at the same time. If I truly believed the message that it brings, I would desire His word, right? Yes. Right. No argument there. And you know what? I do. I believe that message. I believe it with all my heart. But I still don’t enjoy reading The Word. So where’s the disconnect?

Maybe it’s the weight of this book I don’t truly understand. It’s one thing to read parts of a book over and over and think it’s true. But Christ calls me to base my entire life off of this book. He wants everything I do to be rooted in the truth. He wants me to live with Him and walk with Him and worship Him forever. He already knows me, and he wants me to know him too so that I can understand the weight of his sacrifice. And He wants me to do it through a book that I just can’t get into… I mean, let’s be honest, it’s a little bit slow-moving- even boring at times. I always take the “small doses” approach just to “get the gist of it.” So many “thees” and “thous” and someone who “begat” someone else… come on. Cut to the chase, brother…

Here’s the thing: I’ve been a Christian for thirteen years. I “walked the aisle” at church camp one year while doing the ugly cry in front of hundreds of other teenagers. And then that was it. I was “saved”, right? No additional training needed. God was supposed to take over from there I guess. I don’t know. What I’m saying is that until very recently, I had very little concept of what it meant to hear the gospel straight out of God’s word presented as THE Good News with no additional message needed. What I got were a lot of sermons that made me feel good. They were centered on ME and included verses related to a theme that made me feel good about myself and my Jesus.

My understanding of the Bible was that it was full of individual verses, the purpose of which was to make me feel good and give me answers. There were verses that told me, “God’s going to give you everything you need,” and, “if you have faith (plus care for the poor/ volunteer at church/ read to the elderly/ donate money to charity) I will heap blessings on you,” and of course, “hey, you’re perfect just the way you are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” THAT was the good news. Yes, Christ died for me so that I could live forever, but the best part was that He was going to take care of me now.

And so began a cycle: I began to rate my Bible-reading experiences (which, admittedly were few and far between even in my teens) based on my comfort level after reading a couple of verses. It went something like this:

Did that verse apply to my specific situation?

If yes, great. That was a successful reading. My good deed for the day was done.

If no, God must not be talking to me right now. Surely I did something to anger Him. I mean, that verse didn’t apply to anything going on in my life right now. It didn’t even make sense… Why would God give me such a bland, boring, random verse that doesn’t answer my question about where I should go to college? Ugh… This thing doesn’t even work right.

So here I am as an adult, attending a church that I love and I’m hearing the Gospel every single Sunday. Not a sermon on “The Four F’s of Faith” or “Giving Joy to Get Joy”. The Gospel. And it’s finally starting to click. Oh, THAT is the Good News… That’s it. Jesus is the Good News. It’s not works, it’s not that fuzzy feeling I get when I do something nice, it’s not getting what I want after praying for it, and it’s not a single verse on the page that may or may not clarify whatever situation I’m working through. To quote my pastor, “It’s just Jesus. It’s just Jesus. It’s just Jesus… nothing else.”

We don’t need fluff. We don’t need to fill the void with works. We don’t need self-help books or seminars or debates about theology. We need Jesus. And that’s it.

As it turns out, all of those “random” little verses? Yeah, those are part of one big story. The story. The truth about Christ’s beautiful, holy blood spilled for my wicked sinfulness. Christ crucified. Slaughtered… taking a death that I deserved… and then being raised from the dead. I’d say that’s good news.

I’m not going to say I’m reading my Bible every single day for hours on end. I’m not going to say I don’t occasionally feel a little defeated or confused when I do read my Bible. But what I will say is that I understand now why I read. I remind myself that this story is not about me…
It’s just Jesus…

Friday, June 1, 2012

Six. Months. Old.


Vesper Kaylyn,

How can you be six months old already, Birdy? You’re growing and having so much fun just being your little birdy self! You’ve got two teeth, you still sleep through the night, you looooove green beans, you like your “pinkie” blanket, you like it when Momma sings to you, and when Daddy gives you whisker kisses, and yesterday you rolled over…and over, and over, and over across the room! You’re on the move, little one, and I don’t’ see any sign of slowing down. Daddy and I will try to keep up! Being your momma has completely changed my life and made me more “myself” than I’ve ever felt before. All of those other things that I thought I was were incomplete versions of myself… because in addition to all those things, being a mother makes me complete. I can’t wait to see how God ministers to your little heart and what He has planned for you. I can already tell that your spirit is a sweet one, but also a lively, silly one! You take after your daddy in so many ways! We love you so much, little Vesper Sparrow. Go, baby, go!



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This is gonna be a good life…

Remember this teeny tiny little preemie? Well, he’s a big boy now and he’s absolutely thriving! I was blessed to have the opportunity to photograph my brother and sister in-law with little Shep last month. I can’t believe how quickly he’s growing!



And I must say, I might be a little biased, but he’s a pretty good-lookin kid!DSC_0969DSC_0772


Not surprising, considering he’s parents…DSC_1064-2DSC_1140DSC_1055watermarked

We had a great time running around my dad’s field and snapping photos of Shep being… well, Shep. The usual little boy stuff- running around, picking up sticks, rolling in the grass, eating ladybugs….


Apparently they don’t taste very good :) I can’t wait to see them again! Love you guys!



Friday, May 18, 2012

Prudent Advice for My Daughter V.2: The Good Things In Life

All the good things in life take work.

Let me be very clear about something: I’m absolutely crazy about you and as your mother I want to give you everything that I can. However, you are not entitled to a single thing in this world, young lady. You are beautiful, you are strong, you are smart, you are wildly happy… and you still have to earn what you want. Everything beautiful takes work. Reaping, and sowing… it’s an ongoing cycle. Don’t get discouraged if the process of achieving something is painful. Those blisters on your hands are well worth the rewards. So do your homework. Work out. Fight for your marriage and your friendships. And never EVER give up.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Coming Home

{my grandmother holding Vesper a couple of months ago}
I’m heading home this weekend. Not my current home- real home. Where I grew up and people know me and my family waits with open arms. I get to sleep in my old bedroom and stay up late chatting with my mother. I get to give great big hugs to my dad and brother and hold the sweet hand of my grandmother. It makes my spirit swell that I get to take my daughter along with me so that she can experience all of these things too- all of these people and places and intangible things that I hold so tightly in my heart- things that have shaped the woman that I am today.

When I was a little girl we had plenty of wide open space to run and play and we ran wild all over every single inch of country that we could reach. Sometimes we would get too far away to hear my mother yell for us to come in for supper. So instead, she would take this old iron bell and stand on the front porch and ring it as loud as she could. We would hear that bell from our perch in a tree or our rustic fort in the woods and we would sprint home. It called us. We knew that wherever we were, that bell meant one thing: Home. Comfort. (FOOD!)

Now, as an adult, I still feel something calling me home every now and then. Sometimes I just get too far away and I need to turn back and make my way home.

It’s funny how we spend so much of our lives aching to leave the arms of our parents- to be free and make our own way. But then one day we wake up and realize we’ve been doing this “grown up” thing on our own for far too long. We have jobs and kids and spouses and responsibilities just like we wanted, right? And when did that happen anyway? Weren’t we just yesterday running through fields and forests and waiting to hear that bell call us home- praying it won’t sound too soon? Surely it happened while we were sleeping… all the things we wanted and held in such high esteem seem to have become obligations instead. Somewhere along the way we just… lost our way… we misprioritized and things got turned around… and sometimes it takes a trip home to put things back into perspective.

I’m blessed to say that I can go home because at home, I’m not anyone else but me. I’m my mother’s daughter and the sister to three rowdy boys and the granddaughter of a woman who has more love and kindness in her heart than anyone I’ve ever met. I am the very core of me- the foundation of who I have now become. I’m nobody’s boss or employee or maid or nurse or go-to gal… I’m back at the start- back where things still made sense. I’m just me- the wide-eyed, strawberry-blonde girl who hasn’t got it all figured out- not yet- sprinting toward the sound of that bell that calls me home.

I hope your weekend is extra lovely.



Friday, April 13, 2012

On Becoming a Photographer... A Response

I know, I know. If you’re in the industry, you’ve seen 18 posts like this already. There’s the “Be Nice Campaign” on one end of the spectrum and “You Are Not A Photographer” on the other. But all of this has come from the perspective of seasoned photogs. What about hearing from the little guy? What about hearing from a newbie like myself? Why don’t I take a moment to speak- not for all of us- but for myself at least- Still very much in the learning process, still on the outside looking in… because I think that if you get a say, so do I.

Don’t think that I haven’t noticed. Don’t think I’m oblivious of the bandwagon that photography is becoming. I see it at least once a month. One of my acquaintances upgrades from a point and shoot to a prosumer and all of a sudden thinks “hey, I’m pretty good at this! Look how much I’ve improved!” and conjures up a facebook fan page to start recruiting clients. Photo shoots for $50 bucks a pop? Sure why not!

I get it. You’re horrified. You’re annoyed that people are swooping in and producing mediocre, amateur work and making it look like sessions should always be priced that way- cheap. You’re afraid that when you tell people, “I’m a photographer,” they will have the audacity to think that YOU are one of those bandwagon jumpers. I know that, because even though I’m only a little over a year into this journey and YOU think I’m a bandwagon jumper, I have that same worry: That people won’t take me seriously because I have a small portfolio and I’m still learning, and I don’t have the fanciest equipment and I only offer CDs right now and because of all of that I can’t charge what I honestly think my talent will someday be worth. But all of that is hinged on one little word… YET…

I feel your pain because it’s my pain too. Some of your concerns are valid. But I think you’re worried about the wrong people. The folks who are starting up a business using their iPhones, editing in picnik, over-softening skin, and over-using spot color and vignettes probably aren’t going to last long anyway once they realize the real work that goes into managing a legitimate business- because from what I can tell, being a professional photographer is about 40% talent and 60% business management- much like any other business. No, those folks will be long gone when they start to lose sleep over correct exposure, filing taxes, branding, and establishing an online presence. Don’t even think twice about them. The people you really need to be worried about are newbies like me who WANT to put in the hard work and late nights to become a professional.

Here’s the thing, I don’t think of myself as a bandwagon jumper because I don’t plan to jump off once the road starts to get rocky. Personally, I waited six months before agreeing to do a shoot for a coworker’s daughter (seen here) and then another four or five before actually starting a fan page. I still don’t have a website, and I still offer only one very basic package at which I’m sure established photographers gasp in horror. I’m an amateur. For now, I charge amateur prices, but I work my tail off to offer professional work for those prices. And you know what? I really, honestly, from the bottom of my heart love photography and what it does for my soul and I want to learn as much as possible so that someday, I CAN charge what I’m worth.

See, some of us aren’t so bad. We’re doing our research on insurance and taxes and establishing a business the correct way. We’re learning our stuff so that eventually we can be actual competitors with the rest of you. Maybe part of the annoyance is actually the feeling of being threatened? I’m not sure… all I know that as an outsider stepping into this wildly exciting industry I saw a whole lot of mud-slinging and crawling all over each other to get to the top or tear someone else down. Lucky for me, I know a handful of extremely talented photogs who have been generous in their offers to help me learn the ropes. This has been absolutely invaluable in my photography journey and it’s something that I will never take for granted and I will never forget. In fact, when I finally learn enough that I think I actually might know a few things, I hope that I will have a chance to share the same knowledge.

I know, I know. I need to learn to crawl before I can walk and walk before I can run. And I’m trying. So never fear, my dear professionals. I’m not here to cheapen your industry. I’m here to learn it inside and out. I’m here to uphold the standards of artistry for which you have laid the foundation. I’m learning from YOU… but sometimes you’re not being very good examples.


Jessi & Derek | Love


Jessi and Derek are such a sweet and funny couple! We had a great time running around downtown Oklahoma City and talking to STRANGErs. Jessi never get any bridal portraits done when they were married in 2010, so I had her slip it one for a few shots. Wonderful location and fun shoot!




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stephanie | Maternity

Stephanie Blair Maternity Shoot 033-2

Ryan and Stephanie are very dear friends of ours! They’re the first friends we made at our church and I can’t wait to meet their little girl, Rylan this May!  We had pretty great sunset lighting for this shoot. In fact, the weather was great except for the WIND! But what are ya gonna do, right? It’s Oklahoma. The color of her turquoise dress was the perfect touch of juuuust enough color. All around a fabulous shoot!


Stephanie Blair Maternity Shoot 096Stephanie Blair Maternity Shoot 052Stephanie Blair Maternity Shoot 260-2

Congratulations, Ryan and Steph! We love you and baby Rylan!