Emily, becoming-a senior session

There's nearly a decade between us in the sibling line-up. As one of the 'big girls' it was sometimes my job to help the 'little girls' get ready for the day. I'd set tiny, wiggly Emily up on the bathroom sink and carefully untangle knots and smooth back silken wispys until she looked presentable enough to start the day. I had a ache-in-my-throat flashback moment to those mornings as I helped her get ready for her senior shoot with us. We laughed and she wouldn't hold still and she let me braid her hair. It'd been a long, long time since I'd gotten to do that.

Our vision for this shoot was for it not look like a senior shoot. No stiff poses, no plastered expressions. Just Emily at eighteen. That's all. We divided her session into two locations. One to evoke the sense of who she is becoming and one to preserve who she is right now.  Emily isn't one to 'dress up'. She's much happier wearing no make-up, tangled hair and a ukulele strapped to her back than she is in a dress. But I wanted to nudge her outside of her comfort zone. Thus, the lace dress. For this post, I've written her a letter and I truly hope you enjoy it along with the images we captured of this beautiful woman. I'm proud to call her my sister.

Dear Emily,

You are sunlight and storm clouds. You process life in layers, both heavy and light. Your heart beats on a slower, stronger beat than most. You carry the scent of summer on your skin and the glow of youth in your back pocket. If adventure were a song, you'd know it by heart.

Because of who you are, the world will tell you one of two things. One: Let your feelings control, overwhelm and direct you. Or, two: Forsake them. Become hard, smooth, unmovable. It seems that most people either see emotions as a deciding force or a weakness. There is no middle ground. But I want to tell you something different. You can walk in the light of Jesus' grace and see it all as a gift. He made you to feel deeply. Not so you would be forever bobbing helplessly in a sea of emotions, but so you could have your fingertips on His very heartbeat for this world. You were made to touch His pulse. Can you feel it now? That burning joy, the flame of His love, the very ache of His heart to heal. You can be conduit of that to others.

 Definition of conduit

  1. 1 :  a natural or artificial channel through which something (as a fluid) is conveyed

I could make obvious metaphors here about the journey you're embarking on; about paths and valleys and mountaintops and all that. But that's not what you need. Instead, you need to know that you're going to be tested and you have the ability to endure it. The years ahead are life-forming, self discovering ones. You're going to feel confused and overwhelmed. But here's the part where I remind you that you don't have to be controlled by emotions or fear. In Christ, you've been set free, sweet girl.

Yes, set free. Free to breathe in glory. Free to make mistakes (because you will). Free to learn the lessons that come after. Free to laugh and cry and fall in love with your Creator over and over and over. Free to become.

Here you are standing on the brink with The Great and Unknown Wide rippling out in front of you. It's ok to feel a little lost. It's ok to be kind of afraid.

You shouldn’t feel so bad about being afraid of so many things.” “Why not?” “Because if you weren’t afraid never ever, then you couldn’t be brave never ever.” ~ C. JoyBell C.

The truth is: living life, it's much like writing a song. Everyone is born holdinga handful of unique notes tucked in their palms. I believe God gives the freedom and grace that allows each of us to decide how we want to string them together. You're one of the few humans who can hear that song when most have already forgotten they had one to begin with.

So write your song, Emily. Stop worrying over what anyone will think of it, you're really only singing for Jesus, after all. Don't try to copy the same notes everyone else has already played. Bring your own harmony to the chorus. Stand brave in the coming current and allow yourself to lean hard into the plans God is creating just for you. This is your journey. This is your entering into adulthood. This is your becoming.

I can't wait to watch it all unfold. 

Love, Breanne                                                                                      

Jordan & Hannah-the coming adventure

When Jonathan and I were married, Jordan stood proudly (right at the height of Jonathan's elbow) as the smallest groomsman in our wedding party. He's the tenderhearted, comic relief in the Rodgers family. In many ways, him and Jonathan are nearly identical. I've loved having him as a little brother these last five years. In that period of time, we've watched him leave behind boyhood. He's now taller than Jonathan, works faithfully at his job and, in just short time, will be bringing a baby girl into the world with his beautiful wife, Hannah.

 We had an abnormally warm February evening for their photo shoot. The wind gave us a challenge, but there was just enough golden sunlight to capture that sweet moment in time right before the new baby is born. That time of anticipation, weighty conversations and joy. That time right before everything shifts and your world is changed forever.

Lord willing, sweet baby Allison will be here oh-so-soon. Jordan and Hannah will go to sleep one night as 'just us' and then go to sleep the next with a tiny, fuzz-covered, wrinkly human swaddled next to them. And just like that, a entirely new way of living begins. I won't write any long-winded-big-sister advice for them here. Mostly because I'm still trying to figure out parenthood myself, but really because they're living their own story and I can't wait to see how God writes it. They have each other, they're loved more than they know and, most importantly they have Jesus paving each step of this new adventure with His grace.

I believe they're going to be just fine.

The Hickson Wedding

Ashlee and Josh were married under emerald trees shimmering in a Tennessee breeze. It was a warm day, the kind meant to be spent outside rejoicing in the shade.

 If one could pick a word to describe these two it would be fun (or, perhaps, uninhibited and playful). Ashlee's voice rang smooth and southern; it reminding you of the gold-amber shade of honey. She was an image of grace and beauty that adorably crinkled her nose when she really smiled. Josh was full of life and boyish-energy. He was that groom who had absolutely no fear in showing all his emotions throughout the day. With his heart on his sleeve and laughing eyes he made our job, not only easy, but a joy as well. 

We truly enjoyed working to preserve all these memories for them. Even after shooting many weddings, the magic of it all isn't lost on us. We still marvel at the beauty of two becoming one, of a life-moment unfolding. We still believe in the wonder of marriage and hope you do too. 

So, sit back, get comfortable and let the images warm your soul as you scroll through all the golden joy of this day. 

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne's House of Dreams

The Shelnutt Home

"Suddenly the world
Seems a different place
Somehow full of grace,
Full of light"

 -Les Miserables, Suddenly

Those first days home with your first baby.

They're hazy, magical, tiring. It's a quiet sort of holiness that seems to seep into your very skin; weighing you down and lifting you up all at once. Everything feels different but it's, somehow (maybe?) feels as if it's always been this way. You can't describe it really. All you know is that you're living in a blur of endless diaper changes, wrinkled-up downy skin, squeaking-sleepy noises and learning what it truly means to be smitten by another human being. 

When we visited Tennessee last month, I got to watch a bit of this unfolding in Jeremy and Brandi's home. I'm humbled and grateful that they trusted me to do so. From the way Jeremy lights up on inside when he's interacting with Eleanor, to the quiet confidence I saw blossoming from Brandi as a new mama. It was all completely wonderful to document and I'm happy to let you enjoy today. 

A Cincinnati Zoo Adventure

One of the many things Jonathan and I have in common is a love and deep appreciation for the animal kingdom. For as long as either of us can remember, we've been fascinated by beautiful the creatures God has so lovingly placed in our world. 

While we don't wish to force our personal likes or dislikes on our son, we do want to introduce him to our favorite things, because, after all, sharing the things you love with who love is the certainly the best way to enjoy them.