Thoughts on 2016 and My 2017 Word of the Year | Personal

I know 2016 has a bad rap. Lots of people blame it on the election, celebrities who died, or tragedies around the world. While I know these things are important to many people, they are not the reason my year was so hard. As I write this post, please know that I understand life isn't all about me. My tough year isn't the center of the universe. Some people have faced things I could never imagine enduring. Everyone's journey is different, some more difficult than others, but we all face life's challenges. 

2016 was hard because I lost my grandfather. He had ALS and diabetes. He declined in health very quickly in the last year of his life. He couldn't speak for the last two weeks. He left behind my Granny after nearly 66 years of marriage. I did not cry once after Papa died. I still haven't. It's weird to admit that, but my emotional energy was completely consumed with our daughter since early on in my pregnancy.

2016 was hard because I went through the most excruciating pain during our pregnancy and anticipated loss of our sweet girl. If you haven't followed along with June's story, you can find that here and here. I spent many days in bed and cut myself off from most of my friends and family because I couldn't deal.

2016 was hard because I had to give away a lot of business. I had many requests for weddings that would take place late in my pregnancy or during my maternity leave. Fortunately, those couples were in great hands, thanks to planners I could trust. Sadly, this prevented me from adding to my wedding count for the year. It could affect my business growth for years to come.

BUT...

2016 was beautiful because my grandfather is in Heaven with God. He served Jesus his entire life, led many to know Him, and provided a Godly example to his family. His death brought us all together. I miss him.

2016 was beautiful because our daughter was born and she lived. Despite her uncertain future, her presence is the biggest blessing of my life. She is the best baby I could ever want. She makes me a better person and has enriched my marriage. I would live through every ounce of pain a thousand times over just to have her here. She has helped my Granny heal from a broken heart of losing her husband.

2016 was beautiful because I was blessed with the BEST couples during my wedding season. They were encouraging, kind, generous, and allowed me to use my gifts to serve them. I was rewarded richly, both personally and in business, by working with them. I was fortunate to expand my circle of vendor contacts/friends and even had some of those weddings published.

Looking back on 2016, I would have to use the word PERSPECTIVE to best describe it. I gained an appreciation for life and learned to view the hardships as blessings. I learned to be more understanding of where people are and what they are going through. I think this year has made me more kind. While I'm not perfect in any sense of the word, 2016 bettered me through it all. This brings me to my word for 2017:

Trust.

This year, I will trust in the Lord more. I will trust my husband more. I will trust that my business will grow as much as I will be able to handle. I will trust June's doctors. I will trust myself more.

Looking forward to the next twelve months to teach me, grow me, and make me a better wife, mother, business owner, and friend. Cheers to 2017!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
 Yours Truly Portraiture

Yours Truly Portraiture

Thoughts on Being Pregnant | Week 36 | Maternity Session

I just typed Week 26. Then I thought to myself, "That doesn't seem right." Week 36?! Early on in my pregnancy, I thought it would take forever to get this far. Instead, it has flown by. It's just like the first day of 9th grade when my principal, Mr. Biehl, told us to savor every moment of high school because it would be over in the blink of an eye. I didn't believe him, but man, he was so right. People have told me the same thing about marriage, pregnancy, aging, and more. They were right. Life has disappeared before my very eyes. I'll wake up in about two years and be 87.

Cal and I have had our pictures taken by a very small number of photographers. Daytona is one of those. She has a way of making Cal feel comfortable. He's a good looking dude, but isn't one to show off for the camera. Thank you, Daytona, for bringing out his inner model. :)

A special thank you to my friend, Sharra. She glammed me up as a gift. I am so grateful someone was willing to tackle this mop and mug.

I'm thankful for these photos. We will look at them for the rest of our lives and remember the good and the bad about our pregnancy. I don't know if I'll keep doing these posts. I wish I could tell you how much it means to us that everyone has prayed and sent their well wishes. My hope in the future is that I can be a support to any mom who might share some of the same experiences. Of course, I will share if that mom asks me, but until then, I'll be waiting until she needs me, whoever she may be.

Thank you again for following our journey. As we prepare for our daughter to arrive in about a month, please do me a favor. Hug your babies. Kiss them. Let them be messy. Soak up every hard day and every good day. We aren't guaranteed perfection in our children. I guess that's a good thing because we adults are far from perfect.

Dress: Pinkblush Maternity

Thoughts on Being Pregnant | Week 34 | What Pregnancy Has Taught Me

Some of you may have noticed I did not write a post last week. It just didn't happen.

Over the last 34 weeks, I have learned a lot about the world. And people. And myself. Being pregnant was never something I needed to make me feel whole. Motherhood hasn't been an end goal for me. And yet, I now find myself identifying as a mom to this little girl, and that's both a scary and a joyous thought. 

I have learned that our society teaches parents to relish in complaining about their children. How many countless times have we vented on social media about our kid's poopy diaper or the sleepless nights or the terrible twos? I always found this rather curious before my pregnancy. And now, I think of the mom who won't ever have the chance to get upset because her son has wet the bed again. I think about the dad who won't ever get to clean the crayon off the hallway before his wife gets home. I know social media is a great way to connect with friends who might be able to support us through our tough times, but I know it is also so easy to use it as a tool to gain pity.

Being pregnant has taught me how to love my husband better. I see the sacrifices he makes for me and baby. I see him differently. I love him more. 

Being pregnant has taught me more about God's love. Not how much he loves us, but how he loves us. I would literally take my daughter's place if I could. Any pain or trial she will face, I wish it could be mine. God did that very thing for us. I would be happy to go more in depth about this with you, if you'd like. 

I have learned that if you stand up for yourself, people will listen. From the get go, I didn't want advice. I didn't want to hear birth horror stories. I didn't want others to tell me how to raise my child. Looking at our difficult situation, I'm thankful I voiced my wants so early on. 

Things baby girl got to do this week:
-We went to see the Navy ships on July 4th! I wasn't allowed on the carrier (the whole no-pregnant-women-on-board thing), but I enjoyed checking it out. Who knew an aircraft carrier was so gigantic! Even living in Hampton Roads my entire life, I've never seen one up close.
-We had maternity photos taken by my dear friend, Daytona. I cannot wait to see them. I will treasure those photos forever.
-The kitties have been extra snuggly lately. Niles has been cuddling on my stomach more and more...I think because it's getting bigger and bigger. I know they are just animals, but at the same time, they are more than pets.

 My precious furball, Niles. Sorry, it's super blurry.

My precious furball, Niles. Sorry, it's super blurry.

I'm trying to enjoy the last several weeks as we prepare for her birth. I could really use your prayers. Pregnancy itself is terrifying, but I'm mostly dreading labor. Every time I go to the doctor, they ask if I'm having contractions. WHY ARE THEY EVEN ASKING THAT QUESTION?!...I've only been pregnant for like three months, right? As always, thank you to everyone who prays for us and sends sweet words. Cal and I appreciate our community.