Next in our circle is Staci Schonbrun with Blue Zebra Photography. You can find her springy post here:
Next in our circle is Staci Schonbrun with Blue Zebra Photography. You can find her springy post here:
I often think about you throughout the day. I think about a lot of little things, like the look of completed bliss on your face as we hug or snuggle; the way you sit at the table just happy as a clam as you work on whatever project you have going on; how you are always so thrilled to show me absolutely everything; the way you love surprises and how much you hate a ruined surprise… so much so that you will want everyone to pretend that it’s still a surprise; the sweet little things you say; even how grumpy you are when you wake up in the morning and I laugh because I think it’s so funny, but it just makes you more grumpy; how talented and accomplished you are at so many things; the way you love so well and think the best of absolutely everyone and everything… essentially, I have so much to think on so often, and I do. And it makes my heart happy. Just the thought of you makes me so very happy. It causes me to wish I could keep you forever.
Last week when we were out, you so wanted me to pick you up and hold you. But I couldn’t because I was carrying something and wouldn’t have been able to hold the both of you. Instead, I told you that you are a big, strong, nine-year-old girl and that as much as I would love to hold and carry you, you are just too big at this point. You kept asking me though, completely exasperated that I would refuse something so wonderful… sure that if you asked a few more times, that I would concede and we would both be filled with joy about it. But I didn’t, and quiet tears started to slide down your cheeks. Not in a manipulative way though, because you were actually embarrassed and so sad about it. I asked about the tears and you said, “I dislike getting older. The older I get, the less you are able to do all the things I love most.” Ugh, it pulled on my heart strings because I feel it too. You were mourning the loss of something you loved much, and you said, “I wish I could stay little , so that you could keep me forever.” Me too, darling.
Every stage of your life I have loved the best and wished in my heart that it could be kept frozen in time… just so I could enjoy that exact you as long as I wanted. But magically you become older, bigger, wiser, different and I love you even more. This precise time in your life though, I really think this is my most favorite. You have such solid ideas with such a determined and inquisitive nature, yet you still depend so much on me and you still want my help and attention always. It feels like a delicate balance of growing up, yet still wanting and loving me as much as a young child loves their mama. Dependent, yet capable. Still oblivious to the hurts of the world, tucked sweetly and safely in our little nest. Innocent and untarnished in any way; a big girl, yet a little girl at heart. I try to treasure this every day.
Unfortunately, you cannot stay nine forever and this magical time in your life must change and evolve into another one. Through it, I will continue to find joy in your beautiful smile, your gigantic and generous heart, and your limitless and grand ideas. Every bit of you is my favorite, favorite.
All my love,
Next in this blog circle is the lovely Carey Pace who has such a beautiful heart for her children and equally as beautiful images. Her post can be found here.
A complete hodge-podge of pictures this month, but this is what home looks like through film and digital in many various and completely random ways.
Next is Christina Benge with Christina Benge Photography. You can find her post here:
Dear Sweet Eva,
This month is your birthday month. In fact, we just celebrated your birthday last Friday and now you are 9 years old. How are you growing up so quickly? This is the very last year of single digits and I’m kind of beside myself about it all. On one hand, I’m grateful that you are exactly you and growing into a lovely young lady who has such a strength of character and is growing into exactly who she should be; but on the other, I’m clamoring inside about the fact that before I know it, you’re going to be big and grown up. In this month’s letter, I thought it would be a great opportunity to set what I’ve been sharing with you aside and tell you all about you at this stage in your life. I want you to know that I see you and notice all these wonderful things about you continually, because I think one of the strong heart desires of a female is to feel known. And you my dear, are likely the person I know best.
Here you are, on your birthday, in the morning before school:
Nine years ago, you changed my life in the most amazing and abundant of ways. Ways I couldn’t have expected and only dreamed of. And since then I’ve had such an honor to cherish and love you, but I also have had the responsibility to help grow and shape you into the woman God designed you to be. I started out a novice and have been trying to go off clues and intuition as to how to do it all. Sometimes I feel as if love just envelopes us and we live in the most delightful dream, and then sometimes I feel as if I’m failing you and that I could and should be doing so much better. Then I try to remind myself that this is the condition of being a good parent, and I truly believe I am one of those to you. When it all comes down to it, I only want the very best for you always and I love you with every fiber of my being. I am so grateful and honored to be your mother; you are the absolute best.
All my love,
Please be sure to continue with the Letters to Our Children posts, starting with Rachel May Clark. I promise there will be beautifully inspiring images and touching words throughout. Rachel’s post can be found here.
Last year I completed a 52 week photo project where I created a set of images fitting within a theme and met some really awesome people along the way. The saddest part about ending our project was the idea of not connecting with these amazing women week after week. So we decided to keep it going into a new project this year called “What _______ Looks Like.” In this project we post once per month and adhere to broad-based themes. Through this project, I plan to shoot things differently than I normally would, and also potentially edit them differently too. This is my wild card.
For February, the theme is shadow. Working on images this month caused me to realize that I often shoot to avoid any kind of harsh shadowing. They are interesting, but anything more than a soft shadow to create shape definition is generally undesirable in my portrait work. I wish I had had more opportunities to explore this quite a bit further, because the more I think about it, the more I wish I had practiced and taken advantage of the days where we were blessed with any kind of strong light.
I am excited to see what the rest of my group has come up with. Two women in particular are phenomenal with using strong shadows to their advantage and I’m very looking forward to their posts too. But to start it off will be Ms. Christina Benge from Indiana. You can find her post on shadows here.
Dear Sweet Eva,
This month my letter might not be everything that I want it to be because I’ve been so sick, but I will try my best and hopefully compensate for any lacking at a future time. Thank you for all the ways you have taken care of me recently. It has warmed my heart immensely to have you constantly wanting to do little things to help make me more comfortable. You have the biggest heart and I just adore that one one of your love languages is doing helpful things for others.
Recently we were able to take a very special trip away together and I’m so very grateful to have had that time with you. The time leading up to our getaway was stressful and busy and it was so wonderful to relax and enjoy our days together without agenda. I have always loved watching the way you experience the world. You exude joy in all of your daily activities, whether it’s catching lizards in Hawaii or searching for buried treasure to even just the simplest times at home. I realized just recently that in any time you are doing something by yourself you are always whistling a sweet little tune. I can’t whistle myself as you know, but your whistling always seems to have such content and happiness behind it, and it gives me joy just having you around whistling your tunes all the time. I hope you will keep hold of that joy that is within you and treasure it always. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in what isn’t going right or what isn’t great, but choosing joy instead will make your life better in every possible way. It won’t keep you from hardship, but it will positively effect everything about you and all of your experiences.
So that leads me into what I want to talk about with you this month and that is your attitude and how it will shape every aspect of your life. I think attitude starts with our thoughts, which then effects our feelings and from our feelings comes our words and our experiences and actions. Then it is those things that can constantly reshape our thoughts, so you see it is a circle of sorts, or certainly can be. I know in times when you’ve had a bad attitude about something and I told you to choose a different one, you thought it was the craziest thing that someone could actually choose it. It does take much practice to recognize that it is a choice and it takes even more practice to learn to adjust it if needed. Having a good attitude is dependent upon how we think about things.
God says this about it:
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. -Proverbs 4:23
This verse above implies that it takes work to do it and that it is a choice we make, but if we can make that choice, goodness will come of it.
He also says this about our thoughts:
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. -Phillipians 4:8
I don’t want to give you a long, complex explanation of why this works because currently it might be a bit over your head, but I do want to ask you to try it out. I promise that if you can shift your perspective, it will instantly make your heart feel lighter and better and even if that is the only benefit, at least you will still have your joy.
I love you dearly, my darling girl.
All my love,
Next in this lovely circle is Rebecca Chalmers. You can find her letter here.
Towards the end of 2012 I was extended an invitation to join a group of photographers in a year long project in which we would write letters to our children on a monthly basis. Initially, I felt really honored by the individual who asked, but once I saw the list of other truly talented and accomplished women who would also be included, I might have blushed and felt super humbled, and extremely grateful. Many of them have no idea who I am, but I know of them and have been following their work for some time. So there’s that, for which I am really very excited. Additionally, this project comes at a really poignant time in my life where writing to my daughter Eva on a monthly basis and purposefully telling her how loved and cherished she is, comes with perfect timing. Even though I do anticipate these to be very personal in nature (featuring controversial topics like faith), I feel it’s a wonderful opportunity to put comfort aside and speak from my heart to my daughter’s and sharing that with the world along the way.
So here it is: one of twelve.
My dear Eva,
Often we say dear when starting a letter, but in this instance I mean my dear Eva. There is no other way I can imagine saying it and you must know from the depths of my heart, how very dear you are to me. I am fairly certain that I have carried you with me my entire life because in the exact moment I met you for the very first time, it felt as if you had always been with me and I could no longer remember a time in my life when I didn’t love you. A while back you asked if I had always wanted a daughter, to which I quickly and assuredly replied yes and you smiled very sweetly. Yes, for as long as I can remember I always wanted a daughter. But more specifically, I always wanted you. I dreamed of you, wished for you, and prayed for you years before you were even born.
As you continually get older before my very eyes, it becomes more and more apparent how little time I have with you. This is why I want to write these letters to you. In part so that as time goes on we can both look back and read these to remember all the little things that are easy to forget and just pass us by. It’s easy to remember the big things, but it is the littlest things in life that make it magical. I think this about love as well. It is easy to remember the big feelings of love because it encompasses us daily and therefore I could never forget how much I love you, but I want to remember how how my heart swells when your little hand fits into mine and how you still want to hold it it as you are soon turning nine years old; or how you still love to be held so tight all the time and always want to sleep in my bed; and how you run home excited to see me each and every day. These are things that maybe you will forget when you become more and more independent and want less to do with your mom than your new and exciting adventures that lay ahead of you. Hopefully along the way I’ll be able to leave you little pearls that you will carry with you always. Really, I want to write you a book but I’ll just try to think of a few at a time.
Pearl 1: You are incredibly special. I know all parents think their children are incredibly special and really the best thing that has ever graced the earth, but you dear are so very special that it is a challenge to put into words. But people and often strangers recognize it and tell you frequently how special you are; how smart or intelligent you are; how well spoken you are; and how talented you are. You have been hearing these compliments for years from everyone around you. Subsequently I don’t believe you will struggle with self-esteem which is great, but at the same time I hope you will not place your sense of worth in what other people think of you, which is a danger in relying on others for your strength of self. It is so important to learn to love yourself and feel confident in yourself even if you come across others who might not understand you. Self-worth is best found through intimacy with God. He is your biggest fan and if you let Him, He will be your most loyal friend and confidant, your wisest counselor, and your greatest advocate . In times where you may feel angst, internal frustration, or misunderstood, God will always have gentle, comforting, and loving words that speak directly to your heart and soul. I hope you will look to Him first because it will save you much heartache later by trying to let the world fill those lacking places. God made you the very special lady you are and will become and He did so with a very specific purpose. Every talent you possess was intended to aid you in this and someday all of it will come together in a most beautiful orchestration. I feel supremely blessed to witness and nurture your uniqueness every single day.
Pearl 2: You are one of the most focused young people I have ever met. You have an amazing ability to remain committed and steadfast to your ideas inspite of any potential challenges or obstacles and regardless of what people say or think. You will come up with at least 5 solutions to each and every obstacle and still have a ton of joy and ambition left in your heart. I think this is an amazing virtue to possess, as people in the world today often give up much too easily on their ideas and dreams, but also their commitments. I have no doubt that you will accomplish the great things deep in your heart because of your tenacity. I want to warn you however, that sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to. In fact, sometimes it goes so opposite of what we want that our hearts become completely wrecked with grief. Right now this is an idea that is really challenging for you, which is okay. I hope in time you learn flexibility, which is an amazing pairing to your level of focus and commitment. Hold tight to your dreams, but know that sometimes the path changes to get there. There have been times in my life where something I so desperately wanted didn’t come to pass, or I failed so horribly at something and thought I could never recover. In the moment, it feels like nothing could make it better. But I can look back on every single serious disappointment in my life and see that something much, much greater was waiting for me ahead. I am so excited to see you reach your greatness.
My darling girl, much of what I now understand of life and love comes from being your mama. Thank you for being such a kind-hearted and loving teacher. I always tell you, but you are the best! xoxo
Love to you always,
Next in this list of amazingly wonderful photographers is Ms. Tabitha Patrick. You can find her post here.