So happy to share part II of Jenna’s maternity session (catch part I, here).

I first met Brian and Jenna when I shot their engagement photos in Hawaii a couple of years ago. I had thought their love and commitment to each other was strong then. . . there are no words for what it has become. This baby will likely never fully understand just how lucky he is. His parents are crazy about each other. What a blessing that is. What.a.blessing.that.is.

Enjoy.

(Keep those fingers crossed that Brian makes it home in time for the birth! Oh, I’m praying with all of me!)

I’m not sure just what it is about these next two images, but GOSH they make me wild. In.love.

I feel like every inquiry of late has been for birth or maternity photography. I’ve been living in the magical world of all things baby, and boy oh boy does it do my soul gooooood.

This is Jenna. She and her sweet husband, Brian, are expecting their first, a baby boy, in May. I get to photograph the birth as well—my first home birth (Jenna’s too, high five sister;))! Now, everyone cross all your fingers and toes, say a little prayer, and wear your lucky socks, because Brian is currently deployed. We’re holding out every bit of hope that he makes it back in time to hold his beautiful wife’s hand as they welcome their son into the world. Enjoy part I of Jenna’s maternity session. More coming soon.

PS. Can you believe this nursery? I died. It’s even better in person (times 10). Jenna and her DARLING mom worked this magic all by themselves!

Do you remember what it felt like to be 8? I sure do. It felt just like this. Just.like.this.

And this.

And this.

And this. . . and. . .

Above quote by the tap dancing goddess, Eleanor Powell.
Above photo, sweet Mailee, spinning in the sun.

I wish I could pass my life by simply spinning along through the warm rays of the sun.

I’ve been left in awe in recent days as I’ve pondered over just how very much I have been given. This is a refreshing respite from the cold and lonely land of self pity I’ve danced my way through over the past couple of weeks.

People, God loves us. He loves you. He loves me. He wants us to find peace. He wants us to find joy. He wants us to have security, laughter and all the beauty and goodness this world has to offer. But like the little chick, we must break out of the egg on our own. We must push and struggle, and sometimes even kick and SCREAM, in order to break that shell. But once we do. . . we are free. We are strong. We are prepared for the big world that awaits us. God doesn’t make things easy for us. No. Because he loves us too perfectly for that. He knows we need to grow, to progress  . . . to prepare for what lies ahead. . . otherwise where would we end up? Well, what happens to the chick who doesn’t develop the strength necessary to break out of his shell on his own? What happens if a well intentioned master steps in and helps by pulling the shell away? Eventually, the chicken dies, for it has not developed the strength to survive in the outside world.

As my wonderful husband reminds me (as it relates to this analogy, which ultimately belongs to him, not me), “Natalie, we are all big chickens.” (And he’s right.)

Once upon a time, someone asked me if I would die for God. There was no hesitation in my heart, “Of course I would.” The question that followed has never left my soul, “Will you live for Him?”

It’s interesting to think about. And by interesting, I’m sure I mean Earth-rattling. In quiet moments I’ve imagined myself standing up for what I believe, fighting for integrity, truth, purity, light. I’ve imagined myself as the heroine of my own story, willingly making the ultimate sacrifice for all that is good and holy! But God hasn’t asked me to make that sacrifice, what he has asked of me is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He has asked me to truly LIVE for him.

What would happen if I were to translate that same courage, that same commitment to what I believe so perfectly that I would die for it, into the LIVING of my life? How would I approach everything I do? With courage, with faith, with resolve, with a willingness to see clearly and sacrifice as necessary for the people and things in my life that matter most.

I’m in the process right now of drawing the strength and courage necessary to make a couple of very large sacrifices. I’m sure they would seem insignificant to most, but they are nevertheless, gut wrenching for me. But I want to live for my Father in Heaven at all times, and in all things, and in all places, even if that means taking big risks, doing hard things and offering up my heart and soul. . . (the living of my very life) as evidence of my faith in Him.

I believe that true sacrifice — our will for His— brings forth the greatest blessings of heaven. The greatest blessing I could ever ask for, and the greatest blessing that I believe comes as a result of our greatest sacrifices, is that of PEACE.

. . . peace that feels like spinning along through the warm rays of the sun.

Cardie,

I love everything about you. From the freckles that softly brush your nose, to the way you sing yourself to sleep. I love the depth of your soul and your complete clarity surrounding what matters to you and why. I love the way you love me. I love the way you live simply to be loved, cherished and understood. I love how hard you work. I know “it’s” infinitely harder for you than many. Your mommy recognizes this, and son, your response to life fills.me.with.pride. I LOVE YOU. I hope to be just like you when I finally grow up.

I hope you enjoy these images of you, simply being you; I hope you can see and feel the ABSOLUTE JOY in every one.

I couldn’t separate you from the ant hills. You were completely memorized. You noticed everything wonderful. . . about an ant. “Mommy, look how STRONG they are!” “Mommy, look how they stay in a line when they walk!” “Mommy, what would happen if I put my finger in their hole?” And oooonnnnnnnnn and oooooonnnnnnnn. You care about every detail of this beautiful world we live in. Gosh, I love this about you.

You made mommy jump too. . . and of course you insisted on taking pictures. It hurt my back. But you still made me do it twice, so you could get the perfect shot. You’re hard to turn down, son. This will bless you someday. I’m confident enough of this not to squash it out of you. . . even though it certainly doesn’t seem to bless me, today. ;)

You love sand. Every day, you come home with 2 shoes and 2 pockets fulllllll. :) And every day, you dump it all over my hard wood floor. I even love THAT about you. (Sort of.)

This is my favorite picture of you, ever (maybe):

Your spirit has been bigger than your body since the day I first held you in my arms. No doubt about it. Here’s proof of what I’ve seen in you forever:

Happy birthday, my Cardie boy. “Whatever you say, I love you more.” ~M