For as long as I can remember, my identity was placed in what I did. (For all of you Enneagram lovers, I’m a 1.) I needed to control my narrative, and the easiest way I found to do that was to make sure I was performing up to everyone’s expectations, and exceeding my own. I needed to matter; I would be known by doing something wonderful and different.
I changed my major every year at Baylor- from Public Relations to Business, Business to English, English to International Studies. I didn’t yet know who I was, what I would be best at, or what I even really wanted. By my junior year, I had decided on a tentative plan to move to Argentina to teach English, maybe even join the Peace Corps. That was different. Then, I accidentally fell in love with a good guy friend and suddenly I had my “ring by Spring.”
Here I was, just the status quo, when for so long I had worked to be admiringly abnormal.
So obviously, I convinced Dan to forget about our college degrees and move overseas to start churches. That was laudable, and adventurous! We aimed for Italy and landed in Seattle, spending two years helping grow a new church, before moving back to Texas. Several years later, I was a stay-at-home mom to 3 young children and (I’m sorry to spoil it for you) no one knew me and I wasn’t doing anything exceptional. I was my worst fear- typical.
And then motherhood began to change me.
The parallels between how I saw my children and how God must see me, ushered in this deeper freedom in my soul to stop fighting for identity and embrace the one I was already given.
But it was a process. Some days I found great contentment; other days I longed for something that would be more important in the world’s eyes. To be honest, it still is a process.
We had begun the licensing process for foster care, when I found out I was pregnant with our 4th child. That new dream was put on hold, too. My pregnancy was higher-risk due to a blood clotting disorder I somehow developed, and the additional bills were mounting.
To help with the expenses, almost on a whim, I started a newborn and family photography business.
I had become so passionate about documenting the lives of my children. I wanted to tell their stories; I wanted to remember everything remarkable, funny, special… I wanted them to look back at photographs one day and see how fabulous and exceptional they had always been, even in the seemingly insignificant moments. Now, maybe I could give that to other families as well.
And you know what? I came alive.
My own journey had sown these gifts inside me to share with others.
And it matters.
Maybe not on the scale I had my eyes set on at 16, or 22 even. But every time I photograph a family and help them see all there is to truly see, it matters. I have the incredible privilege of honoring other people’s stories by photographing what is real and true about who they are as people and who they are together.
My passion is “Day in the Life” photography, a very documentary approach to family portraits. This approach gives me extended time with families, and reminds me of the extravagant gift of togetherness and belonging we have in our lives.
So that’s my abridged story. I found that I didn’t really control my narrative after all.
The footnotes might include that my current muses are my husband Dan (handsome, bearded, and addicted to golf) and our four loud, personality-rich kids: Norah, Beckett, Rory, and Eden. I part-time homeschool my kids through a classical school. I am an espresso snob (thanks to Seattle). I love to read, but don’t make near enough time to. I have brilliant, intentional family and friends. I put on my wedding dress every year on our anniversary (because it’s fun! And beautiful.). I always have my camera close by.
And I’m delighted to help contribute to Austin Moms with my photography.