The Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

The Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

Real talk?
In 2014, around June, I hit a wall with blogging. I felt so incredibly burnt out, and although I had all of these wonderful ideas for useful content, I had no desire or motivation to write them. As a result, my blog posts dwindled from three a week to twice a week to once a week to… whenever I had new sessions to post. Personal posts became non-existant because I felt as though I had nothing to give.
And so when 2015 rolled around, I thought that would be an excellent time to begin blogging three times a week again… except that it didn’t happen. And while I could offer you a thousand (valid) reasons for this, I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to forget what lies behind and press on towards the beautiful things that lie ahead in 2015. Starting now.

So to begin, I wanted to look back at 2014’s blog posts and celebrate the best of 2014! Because, truly, there were a lot of great times in 2014, and a lot of wonderful posts written.
Here are my top 10 blog posts of 2014:

10. Should I do a Bridal Session?
When I meet with brides, they are often unsure about if they should add a bridal session to their wedding experience. And since I know that they aren’t for everyone, I wrote this post highlighting the pros and cons to help you decide whether or not a bridal session is right for you.

9. Wedding Send Off & Grand Exit Ideas
If you’ve never planned a wedding before, you may not know how many options you have for your exit! Often times, brides would like to be more creative with this part of the day, but they think that they’re limited to bubbles or birdseed. I wrote this post to help you brainstorm ideas to send you off in a beautiful, fun, and unique way!

8. Whitney English’s 2014 Day Design Review
This one is for my fellow entrepreneurs, or anyone who has a crazy schedule and needs more structure in planning their day. Although this was written nearly a year ago, I still feel the exact same way about the Day Designer. I ordered a new one for 2015 and it’s been wonderful at keeping me on track!

7. File Naming & Organization Systems for Photographers
I wish I had read a blog post like this when I was first starting out! It would have saved me a lot of headaches and lost files as I struggled to figure out how stay organized. If you’re just getting started or struggle with organization, this is an incredibly important topic for you!!

6. Making Room for the White Space 
This blog post is really special to me. I remember exactly where I was and what I was thinking about when I wrote it, and I truly desire to live each day with enough white space to savor each moment instead of rushing through them, always franticly grasping at the next big thing.

5. Fourteen Months as a Full Time Wedding Photographer 
This is another really special one. I’ve learned a LOT over the past two years, and every day I feel so incredibly blessed to chase this crazy dream and do what I love.

4. Alaska Travels & Adventures 
Looking back at 2014, this was probably one of my favorite memories. I included it here simply because it was incredibly special to me.

3. Top 5 Things I love about having a Kitten 
Because that little thing has changed my life and I love her. And no list is complete without kittens.

2. “We Lift Our Hands” – A book about Israel
One of my favorite mediums in art school was bookmaking, and this was definitely one of my favorite creations. I loved that it combined SO many things that I loved – bookmaking, photography, experimental image processing, and lots (and lots!!) of patience. I really want to do more work like this in the future.

1. Moments are What Matter
Because this is the heartbeat of my business. Without beautiful, authentic moments that happen between two people, my work would simply be pretty pictures with no soul.

What To Do When You Feel Like You Are Not Making Progress

What To Do When You Feel Like You Are Not Making Progress

You know that feeling, right?

You woke up late and had to rush off to work without taking time to sit, breathe, and ensure your heart is in the right place.
Again.
Another week went by and you didn’t exercise any more, eat any better, or finish that project you wanted to complete.
You made all of these fantastic, productive goals, and then something happened and they just didn’t get done.
You planned on having the best year ever… and so far it’s just been exactly the same as last year.

That feeling when your morning, your week, maybe even your year just didn’t get off to the right start?

Me too.

So what do you do when it seems like nothing is ever going to change? When your goals begin to mock you and you feel like you’re never going to create new habits and make the most of this crazy, one life you have to live?

…Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward, to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Phillippians 3:13-14

Trust me, I know how one bad decision can turn into a habit that quickly feels like something you’re doomed to repeat forever. But I also know that God promises mercy for the past and grace for the future. We have forgiveness for what we’ve done (and not done!), and hope that tomorrow doesn’t have to be like today.

But how do we do that? I mean, practically? Here are four things that help me when I feel like my goals are meaningless and I’m never going to change:

1. Get it all out.
Sometimes it helps to just take a few hours to sit and reflect on the past. To write down your victories… but also your failures. It helps to have the reality of where you’ve been stare back at you in black and white.

2. Say goodbye to the past.
After admitting where you come from, resolve to let it go. Your past doesn’t have to define your future, and today can be different. Really, it can. Give your past mistakes to The Lord, and ask Him for the strength to honor Him today.

3. Focus on today.
Thinking about long term change is incredibly daunting. But you can change today.
Maybe it’s terrifying thinking about planning your entire, glorious wedding… but you can choose your colors today.
Maybe it’s terrifying to think about loosing 10 pounds… but you can go for a walk today.
Maybe it’s terrifying to think about completing that giant project you’ve been thinking about for months… but you work on it for half an hour today.
Just think about today, and worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

4. Know that there is grace for future mistakes.
Because, inevitably, we will fail again. We’ll sleep through our alarms. We’ll neglect responsibilities and procrastinate projects. But know that there is grace for each and every time we fail, and this lavish grace should cause us to seek to glorify God through our lives even more passionately.

So, friends, here’s to forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward what lies ahead.

With love,
Stephanie

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The Top 10 Highlights of 2014

The Top 10 Highlights of 2014

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
– Abraham Lincoln

Let’s be honest, life can have a lot of thorns. Sometimes, it’s tempting to focus on them. Sometimes it’s hard to see much else. And believe me, 2014 had it’s fair share of pain, struggle, and hardship. So many things that I wanted to do and didn’t. So many blog posts that didn’t get written. And while I thought about writing about those things, today I just want to acknowledge the thorns but rejoice over the roses. Because over the past year, there were a lot of roses.

And I have so much to be thankful for.

Thinking back, these are the top 10 things about 2014 that stand out as beautiful roses that I will cherish forever.

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1. I held a tiny baby kitten for the first time.
I know this seems like a silly thing to start out with, but this was seriously the highlight of January 2014. I had never played with a kitten before, and it pretty much changed my life.

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2. Our trip across the country.
This was an absolutely incredible journey made up of so many smaller highlights that, together, honestly make up the highlight of the entire year. 2 weeks, 4,000 miles, 60-something hours in the car, and countless new friendships. Along the way, we saw Carlsbad Caverns, The Grand Canyon, hundreds of miles of cactus-filled desert, the ocean, and several incredible cities. We sat under the absolute best teaching at United and WPPI, reunited with sweet friends, made new ones, and photographed so many beautiful things.
I can’t even begin to explain how this trip changed me.

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3. Luke and I celebrated our one year anniversary.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been married for a year and a half now. It’s been a wild, crazy, and wonderful year and a half, and I couldn’t have found a better man to spend my life with. We celebrated our anniversary in New Orleans (I had never been before!) – walking through the historic streets, drinking coffee at Cafe Du Monde, and looking for alligators in a small boat floating through the swamps.

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4. We moved out of our apartment into our first house.
This is DEFINITELY a highlight! I couldn’t have been more excited to move into a house – I love being able to do laundry without leaving, I love not sharing walls with college boys, and (most importantly! haha!) I love that we were able to adopt a kitten. Speaking of which…

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5. Josie.
This little thing has brought us so much joy, frustration, and laughter. She was the most adorable kitten on the entire planet, and even though she’s no longer a kitten, she’s still just the best. She’s almost constantly getting into trouble and running around like a crazy little terror cat, but when she gets sleepy she’s the most cuddly baby ever. Right now she’s being adorable and sleeping in a basket beside my desk and I just love her. #crazycatlady

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6.  Our trip to Alaska.
In July, Lucas and I went on a trip with my family to Alaska. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places, but none of them quite compare to Alaska. Everything is just so… expansive and grand. The mountains. The fields. The lakes. The wildlife. Everything is just on another level, and I was so blessed to be able to witness it.

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7. Each and every one of our clients.
Together, they make up one of the absolute best things about 2014. Seriously. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today and they hold such a special place in my heart that aches when I think about them.
…I’m getting all teary-eyed just thinking about it.

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8. Our Church and community of friends who have become like family.
Over the past year, Lucas has taught the college Sunday School class at our church, and it’s been incredible watching The Lord bring college students to our tiny little church in the middle of nowhere. Not only that, but God has given us a wonderful community of believers around our age, and they’ve truly become like family. I love them so, so much, and they’re truly the best part about living in Arkadelphia.

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9. Delight.
It may seem strange listing a ministry for teenage girls as a highlight of 2014, but I honestly can’t even begin to express how much it means to me. Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to invest in the lives of girls I’ve never met, pray for a ministry that’s blessing SO many people, and watch it grow into something really special. I feel so, so blessed to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to see how the Lord continues to use Delight in 2015. I just know the best is yet to come.

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10. Travling. So much traveling.
Over the past year, we’ve stayed over 30 nights in hotel rooms. It’s crazy to think that an entire month of our year was spent away from home, but I feel so grateful for the opportunity to see as many places as we did. Our business over the past year took us to California, Nevada, Tennessee, Mississippi, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and SO many places around Texas and Arkansas! While Minzy (our car!) is a bit sad about the 50,000+ miles we put on her this year, I wouldn’t change it for the world!

And while there were SO many wonderful things about 2014, I know that 2015 is going to be even better. So here’s to smiling fondly at the rear view window, but focusing on the road ahead.

A Floral Inspired Bridal Session | Styled

A Floral Inspired Bridal Session | Styled

“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.” 
―Markus Zusah

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A Styled Shoot I participated in at United 2014. Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

Creative Direction, Florals, & Styling – Ace & Whim
Headpieces- Love Sparkle Pretty
Furniture Rentals- www.etablirshop.com

Hair Stylists
Jenya Fowler http://www.jenyamakeupartist.com
Ronda Albanez https://www.facebook.com/ronda.albanez
Jessica Monterrosa Unveiled Makeup & Hair
Lindsey Donofrio with Unveiled http://withlovelindsey.com

Make-up Artists
Jenya Fowler http://www.jenyamakeupartist.com
Patricia Guerrera http://trubeautysb.blogspot.com
Marla Nyamdorj
Jenny Hopwood Unveiled Makeup & Hair

Statements That Define Me – III

Statements That Define Me – III

I believe that each marriage is deep, beautiful, and unique… yet simultaneously universal and timeless.