A couple of weekends ago, one of my favorite photo clients invited me back to her home to take some updated family photos. I looked forward to it the entire week leading up to it because the last time I met up with them, two years ago, I enjoyed being with them very very much. In the time following that first session they had remodeled their home (and gotten rid of the amazing french windows in their back room…I cried), the kids had grown a few inches and each had new bedrooms (of which I had to document) and yet their fun and relaxed spirit was still very much a part of them. (Dad chowed down on ribs while I went upstairs to check out the kids new digs. How risky is that before a photo shoot?) Also, still intact were the distinct personalities of brother and sister….much to my delight because nothing makes me happier to be behind the camera when I get to capture the awesome spirits of the kids I meet. I am pretty sure you will be able to determine what the distinct personalities of the little ones are after seeing these photos. If you can’t then I have seriously failed at my work.

(Oh, and a note to little sis who will most likely watch this: I included your favorite photo of our time together in this little slideshow. See if you can spot it! Though you might need glasses on to see it because it’s a little blurry. Hint, hint.)



Music by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors “I like to be with me when I’m with you”

You can view their first photo session with me here.

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  • andrea - i came back to watch this again! ;) love it. just had to say that again. :)
    did you shoot it with your 35?ReplyCancel

  • naomi - their not there….wow…here i go again with 500 comments :)ReplyCancel

  • naomi - i sound like a broken record every time i comment here but, these are gorgeous. you truly captured there spirits. well done :)ReplyCancel

  • Robert Moyer - Well done. You captured “the family” beautifully. ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - great session! Love these. Wish people were interested in home sessions around here. Then again I have zero clients. Haha!ReplyCancel

  • stacey - Love. Smiled through the entire thing. You most definitely succeeded in capturing brother and sister’s personalities. And can I just say that I adore home sessions. They make me so happy. But then you already know this.
    And his HAIR! Oh how I love his hair! I need to show Eli these so he sees that there are more boys out there with longer hair. He’s been threatening to cut it (after getting teased in school, sad) and every time I see a boy with longer hair I try to point it out to him. I told you he belongs in California. :)ReplyCancel

I had some space this morning to post some photos of a piece of my road trip from last summer. This is Fern Canyon, which is along the northern coast of California. It was created when the ocean waters receded back to their present day location and carved out these amazingly lush and green canyons along the coastal mountains. Fern Canyon was one of the most beautiful places I have ever explored and it is not surprising to know that this is where parts of Jurassic Park was filmed. My photos really don’t do it justice, friends. All I can say is get yourself there some day.

Anyway, the road into Fern Canyon is a long, dusty, bumpy drive down to the ranger station and then it’s another slow bumpy drive down to the ocean and the area where you park and walk the short walk up into the canyon. The drive is wild and beautiful…and requires a bit of fiddling with your camera settings until you can get it right…

Here we are at the entrance to the canyon. My friend and I laugh because every time I take photos of our adventures together I get a million photos of her back side. I love a human element in nature scenes so I am often using her to take care of that need. She is so patient with me. :)

Everything is dripping with moisture. And the temperature drops a few degrees once inside the canyon.

These trees are ancient. We explored all the way up into the canyon until the tangle of trees became difficult to climb. There is a trail that you can find and take that will loop you all the way back around to the coast but we decided to turn around and come out the way we entered.

Looking back at these photos stirs up a deep desire to get in my car and drive off on an adventure to somewhere beautiful. I told my husband that one day, when we retire and our kids are out of the house I want to buy a trailer or a motorhome and take off to see America. The more time I spend time in nature, the more it creates this longing to return to it. Sometimes I just step outside my front door and look up in to the giant tree that shades the west side of our house and it gives me that fix I need. Sometimes though I’d give anything to get in my car and take off and go back to Fern Canyon.


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  • stacey - These are gorgeous. Wow. Loved seeing your smiling face in one of them, too.ReplyCancel

    • admin - I know, I purposefully gave the camera to my friend so I could prove that I was on the trip!!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - that green!! All that lovely green!
    Looks like you used a wide angle for these?… Love them!ReplyCancel

To say that September for our family is one of the most chaotic months of the year is an understatement. The fact that I have been absent here in this space is a testament to how little time I have had to cull through photos, much less find the time to sit and write my thoughts. This past month was filled with four family birthdays, a weekend volleyball tournament, camping among the redwoods, a friend’s 50th birthday bash, two Back to School nights, photo shoots, dentist/ortho appointments, haircuts, substitute teaching assignments….all of which required driving on almost every known highway and filling up our gas tanks every other day. I am pooped.

Ok…….so…….I use the excuse of the busyness of the season to explain why I have not posted here much, but there is another reason. Sometimes I come to this space and write a little and I just cannot seem to hit the “publish” button. I am just tired of hearing myself talk. Then I wonder what I truly have to offer. I also get stuck in the cycle of comparing myself to others so that just makes things muddy. I feel…bleh. I scroll through the files of photos I have gathered over the last year, many of which I have not shared, and I am uninspired by them. I feel like I have painted the same piece of art over and over and over again expecting it to ignite some passion in me. I keep picking up the brush and making the same strokes expecting something new and fresh but, alas, there is no spark.  I know this cycle of self-loathing is all a part of the creative’s process….this feeling of discontent, this wrestling with my own demons, this lack of energy. So I teeter back and forth between telling myself to gut it out and practice the discipline of cultivating my gifts OR giving myself some grace to relax and not push myself so hard. Sometimes I error on the side of not pushing so hard, which really, for me, is not good because I will take the “not pushing so hard” to its ultimate slothful, lazy end. Laziness is really my form of avoidance.

So yeah, lately I feel as if my head is cluttered with too much of myself, my ego, my insecurities. Ugh. And the only thing I can think of doing to bring about some peace is by cropping out the noise–the noise of the world and the voices in my head that like to distract me from what I know is true and important. I have to take a moment and stop and listen to myself. I have to sift away all of the needless and harmful chatter, take captive my thoughts, until I find myself quieting into that humble place of surrender.


For me, when I arrive at that humble place I am able to focus in on a simple truth: I was created by the Creator to glorify, not myself, but Him, in all I do. He has bestowed me with gifts and talents, a certain way of seeing the world around me, and a desire to elevate and draw attention to the beauty that is all around us and in us. The main thread of my life story (and for anyone’s life story) should be about the unfolding, the exercising, and the maturing of those gifts (as hard as that process may be) so that they can be used for serving and loving others and extending goodness to those we meet along the way. But ultimately the created should always reflect the Creator–give credit to the authorship from which those gifts came.

But, as a daily participant in the flawed human condition, I am prone to switching the order of glorification. In that process of cutting away the clutter that I spoke of above, what it comes down, for me, is cropping down to another black and white truth: it is realizing that half of my battle over my creativity (and my relationships and my work…basically life in general) is the struggle over who should get the glory. When my life and gifts are all about me me me then I will consistently find myself in a wrestling match, not with God, but with myself and the world at large because there will always be a twisted motive as to why I am creating and there will always be someone who is not giving me the attention and glory I feel I deserve when I do create. It is a frustrating place to find myself in, this battle over glorification. This root of self-glorification creates all kinds of craziness, and sometimes I feel as if I am taking a rubber axe to that root because it seems to be taking a life time to conquer it.


So there you go…now you know why I have not been here in this space much. In a nut shell: I’m tired and I’m tired of myself.

Truthfully I feel a bit vulnerable in hitting the “publish” button on this post. It is humbling to admit my struggle. I fear my words not making sense. I fear being judged by those who do not share my same beliefs. See, even now my ego is vying for power over whether or not I should send these words out into the atmosphere. Even now I am engaging in a cropping exercise. Seriously, I need to be saved from myself.







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  • stacey - First of all, I totally get this. The battle over the glorification. And I agree with M said. You have blessed so many with your words in this space and by just being you, and by just being you it’s obvious that God is getting the glory. Keep it up, T.

    Second, on the whole laziness thing…. I heard a message at church this weekend about how Jesus is drawn to movement. Totally struck a chord with me. Because I think often I have this “woe is me” attitude and think that Jesus needs to come to me, that if I wait long enough He will come to me, if I just sit in my little depressed and sad state He will come save me with some divine intervention. And sure, Jesus can and will do that. But I think most of the time He is drawn to our movement. I need to make an effort, and in that effort He will meet me and bless me so much more than if I just sit still. Does that make sense? Going to try to “move” a little bit more.ReplyCancel

    • admin - I love that “drawn to movement”…yes, I seriously have trouble with getting off of my butt! I’m going to take hole of that drawn to movement phrase…so good!ReplyCancel

  • michelle - As the recipient of the goodness you’ve extended I can say that you glorify God in your very being. You are a blessing, T.ReplyCancel

    • admin - Thank you M. :) You’re words are an encouragement to me. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Naomi - Oh my word. It didnt even post my entire comment!! I went on to say…. you are not alone. Tis only a season, right? As my grandma had written on her little chalkboard— This too shall pass. :) i sure hope so. Ok im done. Ha!!ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - Oops. Sorry for the double comment!ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - Yes, yes and yes. No judgment here. Oh how i can relate. Lately Ive been feeling that this being creative thing is exhausting. The comparing…wanting to do more….wanting to inspire…. But feeling blah as well. Feeling like im taking the same pics over and over and over….same s**t. Different day. ReplyCancel

    • admin - It sort of feels nice to know that everyone feels this way some time or another. I guess it’s just part of the human condition as well. Half of our battle is just realizing it and then deciding that you we want to live a better way. Thanks for your many comments!!ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - Yes, yes and yes. No judgment here. Oh how i can relate. Lately Ive been feeling that this being creative thing is exhausting. The comparing…wanting to do more….wanting to inspire…. But feeling blah as well. Feeling like im taking the same pics over and over and over….same s**t. Different day. ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - that last sentence really speaks to me – needing to be saved from myself. Yes!
    I understand your words here and the struggle you describe. I wish I had some wose words to impart. But I think the wisest words are found in The Word. Xo
    PS – and yes, I’ve missed you in this space. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Juliette - I feel like September pretty much ate me alive and now I’m flying into October and nothing seems to be letting up. I totally hear you on the overwhelm (and the blog neglect, for all the reasons you mentioned).

    Hoping you can find peace with your place & rhythm. I enjoy your voice and often find it an encouragement in many ways. =)ReplyCancel

    • admin - Thank you for your words, J. :) October is quieting down and it feels nice to have some space!ReplyCancel


I spent last weekend camping with a large group of people and there were, for reals, a gazillion kids there. A gazillion. And with every bump and tumble into each other five hundred more kids seemed to poof! into existence like one of those cartoon cloning scenes. The tiny minions were dressed in layers of dust and dirt. Sticks, rocks, and pinecones were glued to their sticky palms. Their nappy hair collected stray ash from the fire pit and their snot trails were the color of mud. Often in the distance you could hear the cry of one or two protesting some parental mandate: you will take a nap! you will sit down and eat! you will wash your hands before you eat! But aside from the occasional tears, the little people swarmed the camp, unleashed with joyous rapture at the ability to run “free” with their own kind in nature’s playground. And I am almost positive that “wearing dirt” was definitely a part of their declaration of semi-independence.

To live for a weekend among such noise and activity may seem like a recipe for a very large headache (and it might have been had you been expecting a relaxing honeymoon under a canopy of beautiful redwood trees) but it was actually fun. It was fun to watch children let loose to safely explore their world, to push and pull at the boundaries of it, to literally taste and touch it (as many of them surely did). It also reminded me of how adverse I can become at getting messy with some of the areas in my own life–hesitating to throw off the tidiness that my own perfectionistic expectations can create. I sometimes find myself preferring to “keep clean” in order to avoid having to deal with the mess later. I tend to take the easier, “cleaner”, safer route which brings me to a destination that I think is fulfilling but really is not when I admit that I have been fooled by my own false sense of satisfaction. I wonder why I feel discontent. I wonder why I feel restless.  My tendency to take the path of least messy has only produced a half-lived life in some of the areas that I dream of being more fruitful and satisfying.

I want to remember that just as it is for children, so it is for me….that sprouted from the layers of dirt grow the seeds of confidence and mastery. Seeds that grow new connections and help form conclusions about my world that are based upon authentic experiences. Seeds that grow from the lessons of self discovery, exploration, cause and effect, and testing the limits of my own strength.

I want to toss aside the fear of muddied snot trails, nappy hair, and grubby hands.

I want to wear a messy face.




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  • Heather M. - yes. i am the same. i totally want to avoid the mess. and yet beauty grows from it too. i needed this reminder. thank you friend.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - I grew up w/ noise and we now have more w/ all the littles. It’s a joy, but I do love coming back to my home.ReplyCancel


I have summer memories from my childhood that I treasure dearly…..

of camping among the giant redwoods with my family, sleeping on an old cot, inside a clanky, metal-pole tent

of floating down the Eel River atop inflated tire tubes

of discovering how Aspen leaves “quake” in gentle mountain breezes

of rising at dawn with my dad and brother and walking down to the river to catch, what would wind up being, my first fish

of paddling out from the Lake Tahoe shore line piled on top of cheap blow up rafts 

of sitting on plastic tri-fold deck chairs out on the deck of a mountain cabin with my dad, listening to a midday summer thunderstorm roll over our heads

making gooey camp drop biscuits in cast iron pans over make-shift camp fires

of hiking along a mountain trail in search of a rumored pond, and eventually coming upon it to find it littered with lily pads–a Monet still-life right before our eyes

of creek walking in old tennis shoes with my fellow summer camp cabin mates, painting mud on our faces and searching for ancient sea-life fossils in the sedimentary layers of the ancient creek walls (we found some!)

of flying off a rope swing into the deep waters of a river bend

of playing card games with my family in the white kerosene light of camp lanterns, fearing the giant June-bugs that drunkenly swooped around us 

of sleeping under the stars with my cabin mates atop flimsy foam mats and tucked inside our old cotton sleeping bags

of jumping off of rocks into chilly sierra mountain water

I cherish these memories more than any possession. They created in me a love and appreciation for nature and an understanding of how much contentment and joy and satisfaction with life can be found in adventures that require little expense. Looking back I realize that my parents did not have the means to fill my life with “things”, buy me lots of toys and clothes (apart from my birthday and Christmas) or fly me across the country or to other worldly destinations. They joined together with their friends and rented inexpensive camp sites, accepted invitations to stay at friends cabins, saved up for me to attend summer camp in the mountains and introduced me to the giant redwoods and the coast lines of California and Oregon. These memories served me well when my husband and I were financially strapped and planning expensive, thrilling get-away vacations were beyond our means. They served me well when I was struggling with other life circumstances–the reminder that being in nature and beholding creation was, and is, life-giving to my soul. I believe that those childhood summer experiences were tiny deposits into my bank of emotional wealth. One by one they built upon each other and created a rich bed of memories, a collective of happiness and contentment, and a well of inspiration for future adventures with my own family.

As I stood on the planks of the lake dock and watched “the littles” launch themselves into that chilly sierra mountain water, relishing the post-summer-rain air and the stillness of the water, I felt this deep gratitude for the moment and the tiny deposit that was being made into their memories, into their developing banks of emotional wealth. If I could scoop up all of the children on the planet I would give them a summer moment like this, wouldn’t you?






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  • skeller - even knowing these are relatively current pictures, and even before reading your lovely words/thoughts/memories, such an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia washed over me as I gazed my way thru these summer pictures. such beauty & simple joy to stash away in your memory (and your kiddos’) memory bank…ReplyCancel

  • Heather - Love this so much, friend. All of it.ReplyCancel

  • stacey - What an incredible place.
    I feel like my kids are now both at an age where the whole making memories thing has become natural and easy and I feel this intense desire (and almost a responsibility?) to make those memories happen. This summer was perfect for that and I felt more happy and content than ever watching my kids play in the lake, or run barefoot in our backyard, or get dirty in the sand. Thanks for this reminder that we are leaving those tiny deposits and just how valuable they are.ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - I couldn’t agree more. Love the pic where bean is sitting and he is standing on the diving board to the left of the photo…if that makes sense. :) they are all gorgeous pics.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - Beautiful. Photos. Words. All of it.
    Bean has gotten so tall! :-)ReplyCancel

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