Teenagers are Awesome

The best description I can give for my latest Senior Portrait Session is…..fun, endearing, hilarious…and….did I mention how fun it was?

This is Connor, and he did such a great job during his Senior Portrait Session.  He is an incredibly talented individual who plays violin (so do I, so this was just really cool in my humble opinion), sings, and the list goes on.  He is just super talented!

One of the best parts, though, is that his mother was a part of his session.  As a parent of three teenagers myself, I was really excited about this, as the relationship with your teenagers (or children, for those of you who still have little ones) is vital for their future.   It is just really neat, though, to be able to have semi-adult conversations with your kids when they are teens and to continue to get to know them.  It isn’t that parenting teenagers is easy all the time, because honestly, it is not always easy.    Building parent – teen relationships is something of great value to me personally, and I enjoyed capturing their transparent and easy going relationship during the session.  As a photographer, I desire to capture natural interactions between people.  Heather and Connor made my job very easy, and made me laugh out loud so many times!

What are some ways that you connect with your teens and/or children?   How do you experience JOY in your home?  We have found that spending intentional time with our kids to be effective.  It doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive.  We have been making it a priority at our house to have a 10-15 minute family check-in time each evening.  We try not to talk to much (which can be challenging), and try to just listen and ask questions.  Then, we ask each of our teens how we can pray for them and support them.   Game night can also be a great way to connect in a simple way to just laugh.  (Spoons, anyone?)  We are a work in progress, because it is really easy to brush off this time when we are exhausted.   However, we also know the benefit of having a positive and supportive relationship with our kids.   Keep working on it  one step at a time, one minute at a time, and sometimes one second at a time.  Just keep trying!  🙂

A Girl, A Horse, and A Dream

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The latest portrait session has a special place in my heart.  I met Christina during my senior year of college, soon after I was chosen to be the new background vocalist for one of my college’s rock bands, called “Fortress”, which she was also involved with.   During the summer I needed a place to stay for a few weeks while I earned more money for college by mowing grass, and she graciously opened her home to me.  Not only is she beautiful, she is also a welcoming, loving, and hospitable person, and lives life with energy and joy.  As we shared about what we have experienced in our lives over the years, several things really stood out to me- having hope and having the courage to dream.

We all walk through a variety of experiences, both good and bad, in our lives.  The important thing, though, is to always hold onto hope no matter the circumstance, even when it seems like there is none left.  Eventually, God reveals His perfect plan for our lives.  Sometimes He reveals His plan quickly, and sometimes it seems as though an eternity will pass before it comes to fruition.  While we do not know why this is, we do know that we can trust Him.  Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

It is always o.k. to dream.  Dream big, dream small, dream the impossible, but dream!  No one is ever too young or too old to dream and pursue the “impossible”.

 

We build our futures based on our dreams and plans.  Dreams can motivate us to move forward, knowing that something great is coming.  I enjoyed listening to Christina share about her dreams, which are inspiring.  She dreams of owning and operating her own horse farm someday soon, which will be absolutely incredible.  She has a passion for working with horses, which was evident during her session.  She has a natural rapport with these beautiful creatures, both big and small, and she knows how to relate to them.   I can’t wait to hear how the story continues!

*Makeup Artist: Rachel Mills (Beauty by Rachel Lauren)

 

Why Belle Eve?

grandparents

     Legacy.  They left an incredible legacy and an indelible mark on my life.  The people in this photo (circa 1941/1942) are several of the most influential individuals I have ever known.   They are my grandparents (my momma is the baby).  It is through my relationship with them,  the example they consistently set for me, and the accountability they provided that has contributed to the person I am today.  Sadly, they are now gone from this earth.  My Papaw, as we called him, passed away in 1997, just a few months before the birth of my first-born.  He was a man of incredible strength, faith, and integrity who was often quiet, unless an Indiana Pacer game was on T.V.  At that point, he would become quite lively, full of excitement about his team.  I loved hearing him shout with excitement.   He would speak to me with conviction and I knew that when he spoke to me about something, I  should listen to his wisdom.  He was the one who always had his camera ready at every family event, snapping pictures of all of us as we gathered for holidays.  He was a servant who worked hard and even in retirement, would find ways to serve God and his family.  He was just the most incredible man, and I dearly wish that my own children could have had the opportunity to know him.

Fortunately, they did have the blessing of knowing my Mamaw, as we called her.  She was just the strongest woman I’ve ever met, a Godly woman of strong Kentucky stock.  She just loved all of us so much.  She loved everyone, and would remind me as a teenager when I would occasionally voice my “hate” for someone, that we have to love people, even the ones who make us angry and wrong us.  “After all,” she would remind me, “Jesus loves them.”  She would be the one in my life who would just deliver the truth I needed to hear about Jesus, about loving others, about forgiveness, and about getting my act together.  She would remind me to “keep my nose clean”, as she would all of us.  In one of the last conversations I had with her, she insisted that I had better keep following the Lord.  Even with the dementia, she wanted assurance that I was going to stay on the right path.  “We have the gift of Christ in our lives, Joy, and it is a free gift!” she sang out with joy and excitement.  That is who she was, always caring about others.  It’s hard to put into words the deep respect I will always have for my grandma, who is now with the Lord.  We lost her in September of 2014, and even though she had lived for 97 years and had a long battle with dementia, it was very painful to lose her.  And yet, I celebrate her life.  I see her when I wake up and hear the birds, because she and Papaw loved to watch the birds in their backyard at the feeders and flitting in and out the bird “apartment house”.  I see her  when I work on my garden  and when I hug my children, because I know that the love she shared with me and the rest of my family was something special.   I am reminded of her daily, because I have a special part of me that is from her, and I carry that both in my heart, and in my name.

The truth is, when I decided to begin a photography business, I wanted to give my business a name that reflects something that I value.   The legacy we leave for our children is one of the most important things to me, aside from my relationship with the Lord, my husband, and my kids.  It was very fitting to use my Mamaw’s middle name and part of her first name (which is also my middle name), because above all things, I desire to encourage positive family relationships somehow through my contact with the people I photograph.   Fortunately, I was blessed by an amazing couple of grandparents who embodied an incredible legacy.  Eventually, I will leave a legacy as well, and it is my hope that I will also leave behind strong values, and strong example of who Jesus is, and a powerful example of love.

We Have Some Great News!

We are so excited to be moving forward in our business!  We are now a recognized and licensed business based in Yorktown, VA!   Stay tuned for an exciting promotion to celebrate!  1DSC_1462 (2)

Hope and Joy

 

Recently, I had the privilege of photographing a really awesome family in Colonial Williamsburg.  They were such a joy to work with, and I loved hearing them reminisce about the time when their kids were little and loved one particular tree in Colonial Williamsburg, which we found!  I love how they have such a zest for life, and an intangible joy.  Working with them made me stop and consider my own life and my own family.  How often do we truly demonstrate a zest for life and true joy?  Why?  Where does this come from?  Well, I believe that true joy is something that is a result of having the Lord in your life.   Life is such a precious thing, and yet it can be way too easy to wallow in difficulty and sadness continuously.

Please don’t get me wrong- sometimes life can be so incredibly painful.  I understand.  I have walked in shoes I never imagined that I would journey in, and wondered while walking if I would ever get through the journey.  I know that sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend painful experiences.   I also know that everyone processes pain differently and that it often takes a great deal of time to get through it.  And, of course, there are different levels of “pain”, some of which I know, some that I am unfamiliar with.  I also know that there is always hope.  Even when it seems as though you can’t get through any more, there is still hope.  And, hope leads back to joy.  That doesn’t necessarily mean situational happiness, but just that contentment and peace that are there because you know that God has it all in His hands, even when the path you are walking on is dark.    What’s the alternative?  Well, unfortunately, I have chosen the path away from joy, in which I just camped out in my misery with the painful experience, even when it was over.    That, believe me, is not a very good /healthy place to remain.  It affects your relationships, your marriage, and time with your kids.

I look at life very differently now than I did before I had a family of my own, and before I experienced painful circumstances.   I spend more time cherishing little moments and appreciating each blessing, no matter how insignificant they may seem.   As I sit here typing, I am listening as my husband watches the Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots game.  He loves football, and to me, that is just the greatest thing ever!   I see my son outside making huge snow balls and throwing them so that our 95 pound boxer will chase them.  And he is laughing.  I love that!  Let’s not forget the beautiful snow, too.  It is lovely as it highlights the landscape, if only for a few days.

I know that God is faithful, and that we are never truly alone.  I remember the times that God carried us, and I celebrate life now by “diving in” with more purpose.   I really enjoy “diving in” to my family!  These are a few of my favorite family activities for spending time with our kids.

  1. Game night.
  2. Take a walk on the beach. (Hopefully by March!)
  3. Family devotion time.
  4. Watch the sunset.
  5. Dance. *I’ve been known to break out with crazy moves from time to time.  😉
  6. Dinner around the table.
  7. Movie night.
  8. Singing while my husband plays guitar.
  9. Cleaning house together. (I know that sounds crazy, but I love accomplishing tasks together!)
  10. Just chatting. (I love listening to my kids as they express what they think or what they are excited about.)

Choose hope and joy! 🙂

Later

 

In my previous post, I mentioned being the mom of teenagers.  Below are a couple of photographs of one of them.  We have three, and when I think about it, I am not sure how we went from being a houseful of two toddlers and a Kindergartener to all teenagers.  My mother told me it would go fast.  Other moms told me it would go fast.  But, as you  know, when you have small ones who have constant physical needs at any time of the day or night, and you are exhausted from the previous night of very little sleep and you have to work and put a smile on your face the next day, at times you kind of hope that the era of hardly any rest passes sooner than later.  The days of no sleep linger on as you attempt to function the best you can without appearing as though a zombie took over your body.  Well, I am here now at “later”.   Yet when I look at my children I still see the little ones that they used to be.

“Later” is a good place, and a challenging place.  It is so incredible to be able to have meaningful conversations with your teenaged kids and to continue to develop relationships with them as you guide them in life.   We parent them differently now than when they were small, which requires a lot of listening, truth telling, and at times, tongue biting.  We are learning.  Are there moments of frustration still?  Yes.  Are there tough times that you have to figure out with them?  Yes.  And, by the grace of God, you keep walking and loving them and hoping.   Nothing is ever completely idyllic.   We are learning and growing as people our whole lives, and we will never be perfect.  It’s by His grace each and every day.

As cliché as it may sound, kids grow up so fast.   Enjoy time with them, and make it purposeful.  Each small moment you spend with them will impact their lives in mighty ways.

 

Fall Family Session

 

Simple moments with family are some of the greatest treasures in life.  A chilly, fall day, crisp with bright sunshine, complete with prancing, dancing little girls full of giggles and anticipation were the background for this special family session.    As a mom of teenagers, watching this loving family through the lens of my camera reminded me of those sweet days with my three “babies” from not so long ago.   Simple moments.  Meaningful moments.   Childhood is such a magical and amazing time that manifested itself in really adorable ways during this session.

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