Without a doubt my most favorite family shoots start with a conversation that goes something like this…”We don’t want your regular old stuffy, “perfect” cheesy family photos. We just want the real us, having fun, being silly and sweet, relaxed and full of love.” Yes! Add in that gorgeous warm Florida afternoon light and I practically want to hang these images on my own walls! Funny how when you go for “relaxed and fun” you end up with perfect and amazing with everyone actually smiling actual real un-fabricated smiles because everyone is actually having fun!! What a concept! This shoot took no more than an hour and the only casualty was a few ant bites (those darn Florida fire ants!!!). These images are just so full of love it makes me smile from ear to ear. Enjoy!
If you are reading this and you have cried more than 3 times in the past 24 hours, you smell like a mixture of a boys locker room and sour milk, you are not sure what day of the week it is, you havn’t worn a bra (let alone makeup) in at least a week and you almost always hear crying in your head but can’t tell if it is the baby or just your imagination…then you might be a new mom. If this is you sweet sister, stop, take a deep breath, give yourself a little hug and remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever.
Being a mom is hard. Period. Being a first time mom of a newborn is pretty much as hard as it gets. I’m not talking about those first few days while you are still soaring along on pure adrenalin. I’m talking about that second and third week when you are exhausted and depleted emotionally and physically and your body and hormones are going crazy and all of a sudden you feel totally inadequate to do this mothering thing.
Take heart. You CAN do this. It will NOT always be this hard. Like your new baby rests in your provision, God is telling you to rest in HIS provision for both you and this little one. Here are some very practical pieces of advice and verses to meditate on that I shared at a recent baby shower for a sweet friend (pictured above) who is in the midst of those first few difficult months as a first time mom to sweet little baby Zeke.
Approaching baby’s birth:
~ Do not be anxious – Phil 4:6 (about the delivery/transition/c-section), instead PRAY! Cast every care and concern onto Him. He loves you so much! ~ Keep a big picture perspective – Col 3:2 At the end of the day what matters is not HOW the baby came into the world but that a healthy baby was born!
~ You CAN do it with Christ – Phil 4:13 (He has made you for this very purpose and will enable you to do whatever he has for you!)
After baby arrives:
~ Expect to become a living sacrifice for this new life. – Romans 12:1 As a mom, your life literally becomes a living sacrifice. It is a difficult and beautiful and sanctifying thing.
~ Again, this season is HARD but will NOT last forever. No bible reference here…just speaking from experience! :)
~ In every decision you face, keep a big picture perspective – Col 3:2 You will face many decisions that, at the time, feel like life or death issues – breastfeeding, immunizations, schedules…What truly matters is that you provide a safe, loving, gospel centered environment for this little one. NOT how they were fed or diapered! Take a deep breath. Trust your gut and try not to assign to much importance to the “small” stuff.
~ Keep prioritizing your husband over baby to stay on the same team. – Gen 2:24In the midst of the constant urgent needs of baby, the important needs of your husband and the marriage can quickly be pushed to the side. Make an effort from the beginning to take time to still pour into your marriage and the partner that God has given you. You become “one” with your husband…not your children. haha. Even if it means just going for a walk together to listen to how his day went. Try to make time to still be his wife and friend as your first priority. This will bless you and serve your marriage and family well if you get these priorities in order early.
~ Stay involved with your biblical community – Hebrews 10:25 These are difficult and exhausting times and many new moms feel isolated and alone. Try not to isolate yourself from a biblical community of other women and mothers. They will prove invaluable emotional and spiritual nourishment to refresh your soul and remind you that this is normal and that you are doing a great job! You will need some kind of nourishment from God’s word and that kind of free time will be hard to find. Making the difficult effort to get out the door to be in community with your church will be worth it!
~ Share your burdens – Gal 6:2, Prov 27:9 – We have all been there! You are not going crazy! Let people in on what you are going through and let them love on and help you!
~ Learn from others – Titus 2:4 – Us mom like to try to convince ourselves and others (moms, mother in laws, friends) that we have it all together. Don’t! Ask for help. Learn from others who have done this before! Being a mom is hard! You need biblical perspective and practical biblical wisdom!
~ Do not feel the need to “satisfy” everyone with your parenting style. God will give you the wisdom to make decisions for your family if you ask Him. - James 1:5, 2 Peter 1:3 – You will get all kinds of unsolicited advice, opinions etc. Some will be helpful, some will be downright hurtful. Take what you think will work best for you and YOUR family. Pray through your decisions and don’t be afraid to say,” I’ve decided to do things differently!” God gives us the grace to make certain parenting style decisions for ourselves and he equips you through Him and his word to have the wisdom and discretion you need to be an amazing mom who glorifies God!
Deep breath in. Make yourself a cup of tea. Sit outside in the sun for a minute while baby sleeps. Listen to some worship music to refresh your heart. You can do this sweet sister. God chose YOU to be this little one’s mom. Not anyone else. And the profound thing is that by giving you this little one with many needs, He will show you how he cares for your needs and loves you and will make you into an even more beautiful woman of God through this journey.
I have gotten the pleasure of getting to know and work with Natalie and her husband Steve over the past two years and this photo shoot has been a long time coming! When Nat e-mailed about the shoot it went something like this…(paraphrased and embellished for dramatic effect) “I have four boys…as in loud, tuff, messy, goofy, rough-housing boys. They range in age from 2-16. So…I just want pictures that are real. No docile girly family photo sitting in a wheat field. No matching gingham outfits. No confetti. Just real.”
We were obviously a match made in heaven because REAL is my favorite!
If you havn’t heard me go on and on about Natalie before, then you need to go check out her site Chic Sweets and get cozy with a cup of hot chocolate (or iced tea if you are here in FL where it is a balmy 75 degrees out) and take a spin around my blog where I have featured her delicious work a few times.
Natalie and Steve – thank you for trusting me with your family and most of all for just being you and showing what real,messy, silly, wonderful, family-love looks like.
FACT: Sometimes I am jealous of my client’s photos. haha. Such is the case with this ridiculously, amazingly, unbelievably cute christmas shoot that I just did with my sweet friends the Fennig family. Abby was inspired by a precious shoot to put together a fun Christmas themed shoot of our own featuring christmas plaid pajama-clad kiddos, a white bed and all kinds of fun goodies like feathers, christmas cookies and their favorite christmas book to read as a family. Don’t even ask how this amazing (and heavy!) bed made it out into the middle of a field. Thats a determined mom (and suckered-in dad) for you! Now if only we could have arranged for some snow instead of the 70 degree FL “winter” weather. Warning: you will be tempted to put this video on repeat just to keep listening to the fun Sufjan Stevens Christmas song! enjoy!