Kevin & Laura, Engaged!

I met Laura not long after moving to Chattanooga when she shared her story at a church women's event. She spoke about her exciting career traveling the world while working with various non-profit groups such as the Peace Corps and Food for the Hungry. She also spoke about some of the challenges of being single.

Cloudland Canyon Engagement Pictures

When Laura contacted me back in December, telling me she was engaged, I was thrilled! Over coffee in December, she shared how she and Kevin met and had been dating long distance and how he proposed. 

Cloudland Canyon Engagement Pictures

I found myself just smiling watching her face light up talking about Kevin. She didn't even need to use words, her face said it all!

Cozy Winter Engagement Pictures

As Laura shared some of Kevin's story, tears filled my eyes. Kevin lost his first wife to cancer 20 years ago and was left to raise their daughter on his own. Laura shared about the relationship he continues to have with his first wife's family and how they will all be coming to their wedding here in Chattanooga in September. What a beautiful, redemptive story!

Black and White Engagement Pictures, Cloudland Canyon GA
Cloudland Canyon Waterfall Engagement Pictures

Although they met in the DC-metro area, most of their dating relationship has been long-distance, with them meeting in the mountains of North Carolina to spend precious time together. Since they both love the outdoors and Kevin proposed on a hike, it only seemed right go for a little hike ourselves and take their engagement pictures at Cloudland Canyon. 

Hiking Engagement Pictures, Chattanooga and North Georgia

I so enjoyed my time with them. Their sweet friendship, love for the Lord and adventurous spirits will surely make a great foundation for their marriage!

Engagement Ring and Bible
Coffee and a blanket for engagement pictures
Cloudland Canyon Waterfall Engagement Pictures

Congrats on your engagement, Kevin and Laura! I know I am not the only one looking forward to your wedding day in September!

The Lost Art of Journaling

I've mentioned it before, but I am hopelessly an old soul. Progress is wonderful, but sometimes, in the midst of the rush to evolve, simple things that didn't need to be improved upon get lost. Other times, it's not even that intentional. Instead, progress just makes us busier and things fall to the wayside.

I believe journaling is one such thing most of us either intentionally or unintentionally don't get around to. And I think that is tragic. (Yes, I too can look back on my Facebook, Instagram and blog posts and thousands of digital pictures to remember life, but it's just not the same as the handwritten word!)

my kids' journals

my kids' journals

In our home, there are many journals scattered around. I have kept personal journals for my thoughts and prayers for many years, going through periods where I write more and less. I should probably do a better job of hiding ones that are too private, like those from my high school years! 

My most precious journals, these days, are the ones I keep for my children (pictured above). This is a tradition started by my mother (who puts most other journal-keepers to shame). When my brothers and I were children, she kept a separate journal for each of us recording all of our "firsts", funny sayings, mischievous acts and sweet moments.

my mother's journal for me!

my mother's journal for me!

When I had my first child, my mother gave me the journal she had kept for me. Reading through it as a new mom, comparing my baby to myself as a baby, and hearing my mother's thoughts so many years ago, wove a deep connection between the generations and between me and my mother. 

So I do the same thing she does. I don't write nearly as frequently as she did, and always wish I wrote more, but I write. I write to my children. I write about them. And I look back and read about the many things I have already forgotten.

the lost art of journalling, chattanooga photographer

This week, my firstborn, Grace, turned six. Before she woke up on her birthday, I found myself misty-eyed, writing in her journal. And for her birthday, my mother gave her a journal. The tradition continues to the next generation! 

first journal

Future generations, and older us, will be able to glimpse into our worlds through our very own handwritten words!

What's holding you back from keeping a journal? It's the start of a new year - a great time to start something new *wink*!

P.S. Happy Birthday, sweet Grace. You are beautiful, smart, strong and kind. I love you so much!

Grace

3 Tips to Staying Organized This Year

IT'S A NEW YEAR!

Are you the New Year's Resolution making type? I confess that for many years I balked at the idea, feeling like it was just too cliche. Recently, I have come to have a renewed respect for dreaming, goal setting and more generally, personal discipline. 

Organizational Tools

Setting goals and achieving them doesn't have to be a drudgery! These 3 tips/tools have turned something that felt doomed to lead to disappointment into something to look forward to and be inspired by.

Tip #1-Coffee!

Cappucino

Enough said, right?! Your favorite mug and a cozy chair or some time alone at a cute coffee shop are the perfect settings for some reflection and goal setting. And what goals can't be accomplished with the help of a little caffeine? (That is, unless your goal is to drink less coffee!)

Tip #2 - Pretty Things

Chronical Books Botanicals Notebooks

I don't know about you, but I find reflecting, setting goals, planning and getting to work a whole lot more inspiring when I'm using a pretty journal or favorite pen. I'm a list-maker but who says lists have to be boring or on scraps of paper that always get lost? These Chronicle Books Botanicals Notebooks are my favorites! Keep yourself motivated with things that inspire you and make you happy!

Tip #3 - Technology

I'm a confessed "old soul" but I also see the value in technology. Although I journal by hand and use handwritten lists, I have also found several modern tools extremely helpful in my day-to-day life. The first is all things Google (gmail, google drive, google calendar). They run my life.

The second is an app called Wunderlist. My husband and I recently started using it to keep shared to do lists for stuff around the house, things we need to discuss and groceries. I can add to the grocery list as he's shopping in the store!

The third techie tool is audio education, or more specifically Overdrive and podcasts. Both are free (Overdrive works through your local library) and give you access to books and discussions on just about any topic. They keep me "reading" and learning in a season of life where I rarely get to sit down.

I would love to hear your favorite organizational and goal-achieving tips! Leave a comment! Here's to a new year full of dreaming, new adventures, and personal growth!

What Can Change in a Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hamilton Family Picture

As we enter 2016, I find myself marveling at what can change in just one year. This time last year, we were a family of 5. Having a baby wasn't even on our radar (as evidenced by the fact that I accomplished few of my goals for 2015, getting derailed almost right off the bat by a pregnancy and then a new baby in November)!

40 toes

That's a lot of toes I'm responsible for these days :o)...

My kids

But I wouldn't have it any other way!

Are you expecting big changes this year? Maybe a baby is on its way or you are engaged to be married this year? Maybe changes are coming that you couldn't even dream of! 

MAY YOUR 2016 BRING WONDERFUL SURPRISES!

All the Little Things

I love how through photography I get the opportunity to capture the beauty and uniqueness of various seasons of life - birth, first steps, graduation, engagement, marriage, anniversaries, etc. 

The newborn stage is especially precious and fleeting. You blink and it's gone. Some of the most meaningful pictures of those few days and weeks are those of the little details - the soft curl on the top of his head, her long eyelashes resting on a chubby cheek, tiny fingers curled in a tight fist, the belly button that gentle moves up and down with each breath, even the fuzz that covers her back and shoulders. 

Today my newborn is one month old and her newborn days are numbered. In the chaos of life with 4 children under 6, I made myself pause and focus on all the little things I don't ever want to forget. And of course, I did so with my camera in hand.

This weekend, stop for a moment and notice something tiny that touches your heart and at least take a mental picture of it to treasure forever!

newborn details picture