March 20, 2014

My Everyday featuring ... Whitney English

[#1]  Share with us a snippet of your story.

My story started in 1994, when I took my first job for an entrepreneur. I've started over a dozen businesses since then, the largest being both my biggest success and my biggest failure. It was a namesake company that annually grossed seven figures, but also collapsed in bankruptcy, due to a host of factors. If there's anything I've learned from that, it's to embrace struggle, fear, and failure as fuel to propel me forward to better things.

Now, I am the designer of a yearly strategic planner and daily agenda called the Day Designer.  I am also fortunate to be able to pour into ladies by doing small business coaching, consulting, and speaking at a few amazing upcoming conferences and workshops this year such as Stationery Academy, Beautiful Art of Balance, Pursue Workshop and Influence Conference.

[#2] Recently Shannon Ho shared with us her heart behind the upcoming Beautiful Art of Balance workshop. We hear you're a part of it & would love to know what will you be teaching/sharing.

The heart of what I talk with entrepreneurs about is a body of research I call Authenticate. In a nutshell, Authenticate is a personal strategic planning process I developed for creative entrepreneurs. It requires self-awareness, an open mind, a willingness to grow, and a commitment to alignment, which can often take time. It fits in perfectly with the Beautiful Art of Balance workshop, because balance is found in alignment (when your actions match your beliefs), and very often creatives struggle with honoring their art, and valuing their gifts with the same appreciation the world holds for more scholarly skills. When I talk with creatives, I often hear them taking the back seat, offering the roles of importance to those whom the world has deemed more intelligent, athletic, verbal, beautiful, or otherwise gifted in some other way. As stewards of the gifts we have been given, it's our job to see to it that those gifts are used to the best of our ability. Authenticate is about understanding that those gifts are our purpose, our light, and it's our daily mission to let those little lights shine.

[#3] Speaking of balance, what challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?

In trying to balance motherhood and creativity, one of the biggest challenges I've faced is not feeling selfish, or guilty for wanting to pursue projects and creative expressions. When I was running that big company, I remember coming to a crossroads where I felt like I had to choose between using the creative side of my brain or the number-crunching side of my brain. I chose the numbers side, thinking that I could just sacrifice my creativity to the gods of business and I'd be fine. I wasn't fine. I learned, the hard way, that creativity is a gift, and using that gift glorifies the Giver. (A phrase I got from my friend @sweetwaterellie). So now the challenge is, how do I use my creativity to help me find balance in motherhood, and how do I use my creativity to be a better mother.

[#4]  Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
@blueeyedbride, @accordingtonina, @amberhousley.

[#5]  What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?

Family traditions are funny, right? There isn't any one major thing that comes to mind as a family tradition that we are passing down, but there are lots of tiny things. Growing up, we only drank milk from this local dairy that has a chain of fast food stores here, called Braum's. My kids only drink milk from Braum's now. It's totally an Oklahoma thing. My husband has perfected my dad's homemade buttermilk biscuit recipe, and I'm proud of him for adopting that tradition. We've done a good job of new family traditions, I think. Saturday mornings are for pancakes. Books and prayers at bedtime. Tiny things and the important things.

[#6]  If you could give us a peek inside your home, what image would you share and why?

The "perfect" peek inside my home would be me, standing in the middle of a red Oriental rug, dressed to the nines in heels, jeans, and something cute, holding a screaming child while two toddler boys ran around me ankles hitting each other, while I smirk casually, enjoying the moment for what it is. The more realistic look inside my home is me, in my pajamas, no make-up on, trying to catch an extra ounce of sleep while they watch some sort of forbidden and much-over-watched cartoon.

Click on over to the “Beautiful Art of Balance” website and snatch up one of the last few seats! Registration closes March 24th.

*******As a treat to our (Kelli & Vanessa’s) readers:  If you sign up by March 24, you will receive $100 off. And if you and a friend sign up together, you will both receive $200 off your ticket!


Photos courtesy of Shannon Ho Photography 

March 17, 2014

March Wallpaper

Yes, we are half way through the month of March, but we've got a FREE desktop + iPhone wallpaper for you.....
I love the woods and I love the forrest.
It’s not just one thing that makes those places magical, but the atmosphere….the combination of what we see and what we smell. Its the textures….the moss, the flowers and the trees.
This quote really resonates with me this month….as a creative, as a wife and as mother. It’s easy to focus on the big stuff- but it’s the effort we put into the small, day to day and even mundane tasks…that makes the biggest impact. Our attention, our intentionality our thoughtfulness….
I’ve been wanting to scale back on a few things this year….so that I can really pour my heart into the things that are right in front of me- this is my marriage, this is my son, this is our cafe, this is in leading worship at my church ect….Our efforts have a bigger impact than we may ever know….and thats the exciting part!
I’m an advocate for dreaming big, but let this be an encouragement to you that the smallest of things matter….and play an important role in the big stuff down the road.
Be encouraged my friends! 
// a collaboration with Thorn+Sparrow.
DESKTOP WALLPAPER // right click and “use as desktop picture”


March 11, 2014

Creator Series: Shannon Ho | The Beautiful Art of Balance Workshop

[#1] Share with us a quick summary about this lovely photography workshop.

The Beautiful Art of Balance” is a unique, intimate photography workshop and lakeside retreat for the woman who longs for more (and less) in her career and life…one who is yearning to fine-tune her ear to the voice of the Lord and hear His desires on how to balance the two.

On April 10-13 (4 weeks away!), we will escape to a private 10,000 square foot waterfront home on Lake Eufaula in eastern Oklahoma to worship God and learn the ins and outs of owning a successful photography business. 

[#2] How did this workshop develop?

I have had a camera in my hand since the age of 13.  After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in photography and getting married, I opened my home studio, Shannon Ho Photography, in 2002.  In 2009, the Lord began speaking to me about writing a journal that He titled “The Beautiful Art of Balance”.  It was a different journal…one that spoke specifically of the fine balance of work and family and what the Lord had been showing me during my journeys and struggles so far.  A year or so later, I noticed a small seed had emerged…a desire to host a photography workshop to help and encourage women from all I had experienced as a wife, mother, friend, believer, and business woman. However, I’m not a public speaker…I am an introvert who loves one-on-one time, and a girl who couldn’t imagine speaking in front of more than a few people.  Yet, the Holy Spirit kept pressing.  And just as He’d given words to Moses when He felt inadequate, I knew He would give them to me.


Then, the hard times hit.  Over the next three years, my husband and I entered into a ring of high-stress circumstances coming from all directions that would cause many couples to crumble. I was weary, tired, creatively burnt out and emotionally exhausted.  I could hear His voice speaking to me about Leviticus 25… just as God had instructed people to rest their farmland every seventh year to regain nutrients and replenish, so He asked of me.  To trust in His provision before, during and after.  So, I stepped out in faith, with no promised income for that whole coming year.

This workshop is a harvest from that season of rest.

[#3] Will you also be teaching about photography?

Most definitely. We will not only be covering the spiritual side, but I’ll also speak extensively about shooting, pricing, and how we intentionally educate our clients to insure a wonderful relationship that builds trust and ensures that they have lovely art in their home.  We will also have the opportunity to visit my home studio to see how it operates.

[#4] Who is this workshop designed for?

This workshop is designed for part-time or full time professional women photographers who seek to better their skills in shooting, overall business, and who have a desire to seek out the voice of the Lord to find their own unique balance.

It is for the woman who might be struggling to stay afloat whether it be alone or with children sweetly scurrying under foot. And is for the one who just desires to go deeper and to enhance what she’s already built.

[#5] Do you feel like you have balance in your life and business?

Yes and no.

One definition of balance reads: “Mental & emotional steadiness; habit of calm behavior.”

Early one morning, I clearly felt Him say that He wants to take me (and already has) to those hard places in order to produce in me what He wants taught in this workshop.  Those times can feel like a bumpy road of imbalance and fear.  But I think the question is what do we do during those times of imbalance and fear?  Do we allow our minds to feast on those lies that try to implant themselves into our mind? Or do we diligently focus on seeking what God desires out of the situation?  Many times, I choose self-pity and sadness and I allow myself to be overwhelmed which makes me feel imbalanced.  But the times where I choose to quiet myself and truly listen for His voice and seek His heart on situations, I feel more peaceful – more balanced.  I feel privileged that the years and seasons of struggle and success have allowed me to digest, process and gain perspective…and to now be able to give that away to make other ladies’ burdens a little lighter.

Have I arrived at “balance”? I still struggle. But I also know that the more I ask to hear His voice, and the more I expectantly wait for it, the more peaceful I feel.  I still have piles of laundry, stacks of dirty dishes and floors that never look swept.  I still have children who need correction and I still have a heart that needs to repent at the feet of our Father.  But if it wasn’t for the struggle for balance, would the beauty of dependence even emerge?

[#6] How do you handle the “hard days”?

Hard times humble us. They beckon us to depend on the only one who can truly deliver. A few weeks ago, as I carried my almost-three year old up the steps for the tenth time, crying and kicking because of her disobedience, I questioned myself…“who am I to teach these women?”  I sat down, exhausted, and cried. But those are the sweet opportunities where He loves to speak to us. I knew those doubtful thoughts were the enemy’s voice and not the Lord’s - and THAT is where He wants us to be.  To know Him so intimately, that we choose to hear His voice over the lies that are whispered in our ears.  He desires for this habit to invade every decision in motherhood, marriage, work, etc.

[#7] I hear you have an amazing group of contributors ... can you tell us about them?

Yes! I am so blessed to have these women alongside me for a portion of the workshop: 

a) Ashley Ann Campbell | Under the Sycamore | | @underthesycamore
Ashley is an intentional, crafty and creative momma of five who pens the popular blog “Under the Sycamore” and is the creator of “SnapShops” online photography courses.

b) Whitney English | Authenticate Strategic Brand Consulting |  & | @whitneyenglish
Whitney is a passionate and driven woman and mother who inspires creative entrepreneurs to a fuller life of authenticity and purpose.

c) Alissa Mazzenga | | @feasting
Beauty flows from the fingertips of this lovely girl. I’m excited for the workshop attendees to learn calligraphy from such a talented person.

Click on over to the “Beautiful Art of Balance” website and snatch up one of the last few seats! Registration closes March 24th.

*******As a treat to our (Kelli & Vanessa’s) readers:  If you sign up by March 15, you will receive $100 off. And if you and a friend sign up together, you will both receive $200 off your ticket!

March 10, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Staci Landis

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.

The meaning of the name Staci is "resurrection". I remember the day I learned what my name meant. I was a 22-year-old wounded girl who had recently surrendered her life to Christ after years of hurt and struggle. A difficult childhood of physical and verbal abuse from my dad, growing up in church but not living out true faith, being hurt by others and the church, living in sin, and trying to find meaning and purpose apart from Christ.

God was in the process of repairing the brokenness I felt in myself for so many years. For some reason I had never known what my name meant and one day during my bible reading, I found myself looking up my name and it's meaning. When the meaning "resurrection" was next to my name, I began to sob. I finally understood that I didn't have to be defined by my past or by my hurt. I didn't have to be defined by all the cruel names my dad had called me. I didn't have to be defined by the way I felt about myself. I was new. I was in a sense "resurrected" from who I thought I was and who satan tried to make me feel like I would be forever. I felt like God was saying to me, "I chose that name specifically for you because I knew you would overcome. I always had a plan for you through all your pain."

From the moment I completely surrendered my life to Jesus, I have experienced the love of my Heavenly Father in ways that no earthly father could ever show me. God has blessed me with a husband that is kind, patient, loving, funny, adventurous and forgiving. He is my best friend and I know he was one of the gifts God knew I would need in my life to show me that I am worthy of being loved. I do matter. I do have a purpose. All of us do. Our marriage isn't perfect because we are not perfect. Our lives haven't been easy because we live in a sinful world. But the foundation of our lives is our faith and relationship with Christ. Trusting in Him has gotten us through extremely difficult times of job loss, financial struggles, and the loss of almost all of our earthly possessions. The lessons we have learned during some of our most difficult years: nothing is more important than love, people, and the things money cannot ever buy. I don't think I could have understood what that truly means without having lost so much. 

In all of the struggles and triumphs in my life, I have realized that what we place our trust in is the most important decision we will ever make. If we place our trust in things that can be taken away or lost in a moment or even trusting in our own efforts, we will be devastated when they crumble. We will be devastated when we fail. But if we trust in God and His son for our purpose, meaning and significance, we may be disappointed when life hurts, but it won't destroy us. It will make us stronger.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
One of my favorite times of the day is the hour after we wake up and before we start school. We hang out, sometimes read, sometimes snuggle, have breakfast, I have my morning coffee (yes!!), and sometimes we will watch an episode of one of their favorite shows on Netflix. It's simple, but it's one of the times I cherish in our day. We homeschool, so we never make our mornings a rushed event. I feel like everyone relaxes and are ready to start the day with a good attitude; most days. :-) I also love bedtime. We read a bible story together as a family and we pray for our family, friends, and the world around us. It's a great way to end the day. And our children are crazy, so sometimes we get to watch a re-enactment of the bible story. Or some sort of other ridiculous song and dance.

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
It is really tough to name just 3 inspiring women because I have so many people who are inspirational to me for various aspects and purposes in my life. But, here's my 3:

@ayanah Besides her photos being absolutely beautiful, creative, and fun, Ayanah is an amazing mama and friend I met on IG. Kindred crazy people. I mean, her and her husband flew up to meet our family and stayed with us when we were living up North! My kind of lady! Fun, adventurous times for sure and I love seeing her posts of her kiddos in my feed! And she's the queen of amazing black and white images!

@michellenicoloff I love Michelle's love for her family and her love for the beach and the way she captures her surroundings with her family. She is always very encouraging to my husband and I.  Those women who take the time to encourage one another are greatly admired by me! Michelle is one of those women!

@shariweaver She is a breath of fresh air. Her encouragement and love for her family is always something I look forward to in my feed. She is honest and so kind and encouraging to me very often! And her photos are beautiful!

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
The biggest challenge I face are interruptions. I know being a mom means interruptions are inevitable and a part of life, but when I am in a creative zone, I do best when I can focus and start and then have a finish point in what I am doing at that time. When I get interrupted, it messes with my flow of the things and sometimes that can be frustrating because I don't do well picking back up where I have left off after an interruption. Interruptions continually teach me the never-ending lessons in patience and perseverance! It also teaches me to slow down and enjoy life. We all need to take a break from the hustle and bustle we sometimes find ourselves in.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
We are so simple and laid back that we don't adhere to much of anything so traditionally that it couldn't be changed or done a different way if we wanted it to be. We love changing things up and trying new things together. We love movie nights at home with ice cream sundaes and popcorn. We love family hikes and adventures on warm, sunny days. We also love our really lazy days where we all just hang out and do our own things around the house. We do love being together so I guess that is one tradition we uphold. Being together and having fun no matter what we are doing is important to us!

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home, what image would you share and why?
This perfectly represents our home. Our children always move everything in the living room and create large cities and towns and countries with their toys. We've got dinosaurs, Legos, Fisher Price characters, ocean animals, Littlest Pet Shops, etc...all living together in some sort of crazy context of child's play. This picture represents what I see when they are done playing and they leave it and don't clean it up until someone tells them to. Which can drive me crazy at times! I sometimes sit and watch them play and often love seeing the remains of their playtime and childhood strewn across the house because I know there will be a day when they won't play like this anymore. I know I will will miss days like these. I try to purposely choose to cherish the messes when I can and not stress or become impatient on the days I am not so excited to see all of this everywhere. (Mind you, this is only 1/4 of the mess! Ha!)

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
These are my crazy people. This is our crazy life!

Be sure and follow @stacilandis on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

March 4, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Kelsey Cole

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Before I tell you my story, I want to thank you both, Kelli and Vanessa, for asking me to share on your beautiful blog. I am humbled, thankful, and quite frankly, a bit giddy. 

I was born a preacher’s daughter, I had a beautiful childhood, one that I have only the warmest of feelings towards when I remember. Something I do not take for granted. In college I changed my major nearly a dozen times before, through the encouragement of my dad, I left school and entered full time missionary work. My wild heart could not be contained within the pressures I felt to follow a traditional career path, and that one decision single-handedly changed my life for the wonderful. 

I have spent nearly a decade in full time ministry work, met and married my husband nearly six years ago, had two breathtaking children, and now ministry is the family business. Something I always dreamed of. 

The majority of the last ten years we have traveled around the country with our non profit performing arts company. It has been an honor to visit hundreds of high schools and middle schools with our production, No More Victims. No More Victims, and our accompanying workshops, take a stand against the horrifying epidemic of bullying and violence that the youth in this nation deal with on a daily basis. Our mission is to lend our voice to those who suffer in silence. Every life deserves to be beautiful and we are honored to be a part of bringing that message to countless teens across the country. 

I have always been driven, ambitious and willing to take on more than any rational person ever should. Nearly five years ago, upon learning I was pregnant, all of that changed. Early on in my pregnancy I became very ill, lost large amounts of weight, was plagued by horrible panic attacks, crippling anxiety, and my whole world slowed to a stop. I couldn’t work, I struggled just to make it through the day. I firmly believe that myself, my husband, and our marriage, only survived that time through the power of the praying community that surrounded us. However, one of the darkest times in my life produced more magic than I ever believed possible. My Ezra was born and life would never be the same.

My second pregnancy was also difficult, and shortly after giving birth to sweet Hudson, I was infected with a parasite. Before being diagnosed properly, I spent a year laying on the couch, trying desperately to find strength and energy to feed, bathe and clothe my children so that my husband could work. We existed in survival mode, our hearts broken. Dozens of doctors, too many wrong diagnoses, countless failed treatment options, and last February we finally found a doctor who refused to give up until I was healthy. He saved my life. I am still fragile, I get weak quickly, but I am healing. The past years of chronic illness have forever changed me. I recently told my husband that I despise what we walked through, but I like who I am better on this side of the storm. I walked through the valley, often crawled, had nothing to cling to but Jesus, and now understand suffering, compassion and love in an entirely new way. I am weaker than I was, yet stronger in the ways that matter most. There is beauty from pain.  

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Witnessing a lifelong friendship develop, from the very beginning. Seeing my boys learn how to play together, share belongings, put each other first, it just blows me away. Sometimes there are tears, hurt feelings, or bruised egos. But more and more often there is genuine kindness and concern for the other, an older brother teaching his younger brother about life, a little Hudson wanting to copy each and every single thing his Ezra does. Seeing their love develop is my greatest joy. 

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
This question is unbelievably difficult because I am inspired, and encouraged by so many mamas on instagram every single day. But these mamas are so special, I need the world to know!

Lane (@suprtucksmama), a dear friend who I am forever thankful to instagram for. Beautiful, strong, hysterical, a wonderful human being and mama to the one and only, Tuck. Her candid, genuine, powerful and always witty, stories of their daily life, which happens to include their war on autism, will touch your heart, and probably make you giggle. You would never regret following this amazing duo and their journey. 

Lindsay (@herwelshness) is one of the brightest lights in my instagram feed. Her joy filled world exudes from her photos. Scriptures shared, encouragement offered, a beautiful life that inspires all who stop by.  

Robyn (@erobyn), a true gem in the world of instagram. Her photography magical, her tender heart and wise soul evident in each word she shares. I often wish to pull up a chair at her table, sip a cup of tea, and be taught by her gentle spirit.

Patti (@aperfectlily) and her sweet Lily, make my heart burst. Lily has the greatest dance videos instagram ever did see. Patti is filled with adoration for her family, and overflowing with love for the Lord. Her willingness to share honestly about the joys and challenges faced as a special needs mama (on instagram as well as her blog), refreshes my soul. 

Oops... that was four.

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Remembering to take time for myself. Once your title becomes “mom”, life is no longer about you. But to be my best for these sweet boys who need nothing less, I have been learning, slowly, that I must make time for me. So I play hard, but also remember to take time for things that restore me. I say yes to a photo shoot, I take time to write a blog, I crochet (while watching Star Trek. I’m not ashamed). And these things make me better for those who are most important. 

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Our traditions are simple, but oh so dear. Every morning Hudson wakes up first. While his brother sleeps, we cuddle on the couch with his milk, a dozen stuffed animals, and watch Mickey. The rest of the day he is going non stop but those early morning moments, I will never forget. 

After baths each night, the boys know it is time to wrestle. They spend the next half hour, sometimes longer, wrestling with, being chased by, caught by, tickled by, and giggling with their daddy. This is easily their favorite part of the day and watching my babies with their daddy, I could never get enough. 

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I would share this photo because I love our little kitchen, and how it brings our whole family together. We currently live in a house with my entire family. The four of us, plus my mom, sister, brother and his wife. It has been twelve years since we all lived in the same state, and now we are sharing one home. It’s a unique and different way to live and sometimes there are too many people in the kitchen to be able to move, and more dishes than I care to think about. But, giving my children the opportunity to live with their grandma and aunts and uncle, even for a short while, has been more special than I ever imagined. 

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
I didn’t share this on instagram because the quality isn’t all that good. But I will love this photo for always. It shows my boys, their quirky imaginations, and the fact that Hudson wants to be EXACTLY like Ezra. It is also documented proof that they do indeed race a wooden rocking horse and a duck decoy across my living room. On a regular basis. 

Be sure and follow @_cherishthemoment on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

February 27, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Alli Shillito

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
Hi! My name is Alli, I live in Ohio with my sweet little family. I grew up only about ten minutes from where we live now. I met my husband, Bryant, right after high school, we fell quickly & after some adventures we found ourselves expecting a baby. Before we knew it we were 6 years in, two houses & three daughters later. Here we are. Our oldest daughter, Madeleine (Maddie) is 5, Josephine (Josie) is 4 & our baby Violet Ann is 21 months. I pinch myself everyday when I wake up to my family. I always knew that I wanted three daughters. I am a part time photographer, always inspired by my girls the most. I shoot anything from babies, families, and weddings. I am big on smiling, I love to make people laugh. I love the escape my pretty little IG squares bring me.. when I should be doing the laundry that is piling up or after a long day of babies screaming, you can find my scrolling through my own feed looking through those magic moments in my feed.

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
A great thing I think about having three daughters is the unique specialness each one brings to my life.. I have individual favorite moments with each of them during the day. Since Maddie is in kindergarden and gone at school most of the day-- my favorite part of the day with her would have to be at 3:00pm sharp when I am picking her up, everyday with a huge smile on her face, I'm always greeted with a big, running hug-- it still brings tears to my eyes. I love the alone time my middle & youngest girls get together too.. my favorite time of day with Josie is when she is home playing with Violet. Josie is my little "mommy" of the three-- it is so amazing to see how gentle and compassionate she already is to her baby sister.. she truly has the purest, biggest heart! & my favorite time of the day with Violet is when I am nursing her down to nap. Most of the time we can close the door and escape to some peace & stillness for a few moments together. She is a spitfire so I really try to take in those quiet moments with her.. keeping her my baby as long as I can :)

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
Three instagram moms that inspire me .. this is a hard one because I am so inspired by every IG mom I follow. I'm going to pick moms that have daughter(s) like myself..  I am always inspired by these moms, the beautiful smiles they have & their warm hearts you can feel through their images. @nicklepickle /  @jenotchy /  @golden_applesauce

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity? 
I am still learning every day what it means and takes to balance motherhood & my passion. I definitely have those days where I am feeling overwhelmed, guilty, thinking that I should just drop it all to focus on my children, but then I am reminded how very much I love & need this outlet for myself. I hope that one day my daughters can be inspired by my creativity & hard work. I have big dreams of having it all figured out one day, until then you will find me pulling all nighters to edit pictures because I spent a few great days with my kids & did no work at all.

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
Family is so important to us. One thing that I loved so much about my husband was the fact that his family is so amazing & close. We lost my father in law before my daughters were born, but remembering him & having him be a part of our girls lives is very important to us. The traditions & stories we have to honor & celebrate his life are ones close to my heart. My father in law was very involved in giving back to his community & I hope that my daughters will carry on that "tradition" & legacy of his proudly.

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
I love our little home! We moved here last year shortly after our third little one was born. We are slowly but surely putting our own finishing touches around the house.. having three kids has been keeping us busy. :) We seem to find ourselves mostly in the same room together.. lately our best family time has been spent at the dinner table. From homework right after school to intentional meals all together. I'm not going to lie, sitting down together every night is something still new to us, as the girls were younger we would just focus on feeding them, and then ourselves when they went to bed. Now that we are all on same schedules and better routines these family dinners together come much easier.. and with non stop chit chat about anything and everything that is running through their minds.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.
A picture I wouldn't typically share.. I usually find myself posting all kinds of different moments in my feed.. I may not be posting big piles of laundry, a sink full of dishes, bickering with my husband about the laundry & dishes.. its all there, like most of you. I like to keep my feed positive and full of light moments for myself to escape to when all of those other things are piling up. I do save a lot of those fleeting moments for myself & don't even post them.. thats right, for how much I feel like I do post-- there are so many that I don't! just going through my phone I found this one, I took it a couple weeks ago while I was working on my computer and then all of sudden my babies were all on my lap, I had to take a picture with them :) 

Be sure and follow @alliroses on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms

February 25, 2014

My Everyday Featuring ... Latisha Carlson

[#1] Share with us a snippet of your story.
My story… Who I am today is only by God’s grace! My life is far from flawless. I am loved and misunderstand a lot.. sometimes more misunderstood. I am learning more and more that my identity has to be found in Jesus and Him alone, or that silly thing of “people pleasing" creeps in and I get caught up in everyone else's opinions and even my own of who I am… and in the end all that doesn’t even matter! Only JESUS matters. I fall on my face a lot but Jesus keeps showing me His kindness and He sometimes carries me and others He picks me up and dust me off.. I can keep going forward knowing He will finish the work He started. So through my weaknesses, I grow and by His grace I don’t remain the same! 

Rewind 10 years ago… there Matt and I stood. Friends had set us up and all Matt could do is drink water and stare. (I later found out that I was the pretties girl he had ever seen). We both tried avoiding that time, but all to say we have been married for 9 years. Yup, we met, I broke it off three times, got engaged and married all with in a yr! I see that Jesus used that time and the relationship between us to save me from a really ugly time. It was a rough start for sure, but gosh I don’t know where I would be if Jesus didn't have me marry this rad dude! Now I am wife to a man that lives this life in ways like no other. Seriously, he lives life in a way that changes people around him. He finds good in all things. I let emotion lead me, while He is there allowing Jesus to lead. I get really uptight when the house is a mess, while He is laying on the floor laughing with the kids, I frown when all I need to do is smile… I am learning more and more that I don’t live life to the fullest! But, Jesus is teaching me and using Matt to show me to “lighten up”!! Okay, but don’t get me wrong! I do laugh! I have learned to put the cleaning aside and lay on the floor.. its just harder for me then for him, it comes out more naturally! Something that I love and even hate at times… cause it just seems so easy to him. But all to say, being Matt’s wife is something that is a gift. I laugh more. He is always being funny or at least he thinks so.. haha.. no he really is funny! 
My home is something I love. My husband has finally embraced my craze over always changing our home. I sell and buy. I take old and make new. I rearrange often. I love home design! I love helping others design there homes. This last year I was able to help three friends change there whole house and I loved how excited they were. Mid Century steals my heart! I drool over it! I am inspired by it! So if I am not photographing or playing with the kids during the day, I am moving things around. I am posting on Instagram things to sell so I can buy “new “… meaning old mid century pieces! People tell me one day I need to have my house thrift store! 

Matt and I are a husband/wife wedding photography team! I started this business almost 5 yrs ago and now we have become a team. We love telling couples stories through our cameras. We are excited to keep at it. 

My journey to momma hood started out hard. My husband and I faced 3 miscarriages and one molar pregnancy before finding out we were going to have twins! That journey of loosing my babies was hard but Jesus was so good through that season. I went through a whirlwind of emotions for sure. When finding out we were going to be have twins, my heart was flooded with joy and excitement!! People always ask if I was shocked or if I was scared to have twins, and after my journey of loosing three, I had nothing but thankfulness and excitement for my twins!

Fast forward three years and I was delivering my baby boy, Greyson! Awe I am in love with this little guy! He turns two in April!  
The month of December was a journey! To our surprise my husband and I found out that we were going to have another baby! WOW. Shocked we were and then shortly after we had began to get really really excited, I then miscarried! So all in a month, the whirlwind of emotions was a bit nuts, as you could imagine. I personally really got excited. Momma instinct was kicking in and I was ready to for another sweet child, but then it happened, I miscarried yet again! It’s been confusing. Tears have been shed but we are good. For some reason Jesus gave and once again took away and I am once again thankful that my heart is trusting His choice for us in this. He wants the best for my family and I. So now we trust and look forward to the day we meet our four kids in Heaven!

Jesus gives and takes away… so many people struggle with “why would a good God take away”.. but by God’s grace that question never sunk deep in my heart. He knows what is best for me and my family. He knows what I need and when I need it. He knows my heart. So he took four but gave another three. I am thankful for each one, and I look forward to meet the four I have never even felt move in my tummy. 

[#2] What is your favorite part of the day with your little one[s]?
Goodness my day is filled with laughter, big imaginations, Greyson trying to do things his big sisters are doing.. but when our day winds down, the kids jump in bed we have so many sweet times. Lots of tickling. Sweet prayers from my four years old girls. Sometimes I wonder if they are grasping who jesus is and why we talk so much about Him.. and when I hear them pray, my heart is humbled, my heart is encouraged. The prayers that are spoken from the twins teaches me to be more forgiving, more loving, and more intentional to teach them well… and Grey loves snuggles and kisses. During the day he climbs on my lap, grabs my face and makes boy noises and then in between gives me so many sweet kisses and hugs. Awe my heart melts! I love my kids. My world is so much sweeter with them!

[#3] Name Three Instagram MOMS who inspire you.
@jennielusko, @alainaguido, @saratrammel are three moms who popped in my head right away. They may be miles away from me. But Jennie leads a life full intention and boldness and I am so beyond encouraged by her, I don’t think she knows how much I admire who Jesus has created her to be. Alaina has been a friend of mine for 15 yrs and oh my, she is such a sweet friend who loves Jesus so much that causes others to want to love Jesus deeper. Sara, well she is just lovely. She brings so much joy into peoples lives. When we lived close, we spent much of our time laughing. She is faithful and creative. These three I love so much.

@katielivelyphoto She reminds me to laugh more. She loves Jesus so much. I find her constantly taking the time to play and enjoy her son and worry less about cleaning and errands, its good for me to have someone who helps me to remember to be more intentional with my kids!!

@tamararomero she is creative and constantly loving and teaching her two girls. She lives intentionally. She serves her family faithfully, always seeking the best for them.

@stacygarcia loves well. She sacrifices to serve her family faithfully. She brings much joy into peoples lives. I am thankful for her friendship. She understands what it looks like to endure suffering and still trust Jesus. I am encouraged by her faithfulness to Jesus.

@danihampton, @asctofriday, and @jodimockabee, @bluebirdkisses are all moms who just inspire me with there love for there family and there creativity! I don’t know them but I am sure inspired and encouraged by them! 

[#4] What challenges have you faced in balancing motherhood and your passion for creativity?
Gosh, I love my kids and I love photographing people… but I also have to edit my images to send out to my couples and clients, so I think by God’s grace I have found a balance. I know that I come home after sessions and all I wanna do is stick them on the computer and get to editing, but I try to keep my editing during nap times and I try to spread my sessions out so that I am still home laughing and caring to the needs of my kids. Wedding season is a little crazy but I just have to be intentional to stop my work and play, laugh, tickle, read the Bible, listen to my kids hearts, teach them how to love each other better. Stop saying “just a minute”, but rather stop what I am doing to listen to them. I have learned that I need to be intentional in whatever I am doing cause if you aren’t, you are not fulfilled and either are the people around you… your husband and kids! Jesus is intentional and I am called to be like Him, so by HIs grace I am intentional which brings Him more glory! But don’t get me wrong, I have days that cleaning or editing or my selfishness steals moments that I could have loved better… whether my kids, my husband or others. I am a work in progress! 

[#5] What is a family tradition that you love sharing with your kids?
This has been something my husband and I have been talking about. We are working to have traditions that are best for us. We decided that Christmas Eve, we would be generous to others. We want to teach our kids that being generous is important, its dying to self, and there is much joy in serving and giving to others. So thats one we started for the Christmas season. To be honest we have been doing a lot of talking and not enough action.. so we are making changes to bring in “Carlson Traditions”!! The goal is having tent and pizza night on Tuesdays. Snuggles at bedtime has been a daily tradition that I believe my kids will cherish always. So if you think of us, pray for us! Pray we begin traditions! We want to be more adventurous as family too!

[#6] If you could give us a peek inside your home - what image would you share and why?
Oh gosh… so many. Grey holding my face as he says “broom broom” and kisses me… and with this season, the snot is rubbed on me.. but those sweet kisses are worth it, snot and all. Or maybe the girls running to daddy when the front doors opens.. their arms open wide and yelling “DADDY”S HOME”.. with Greyson “da da”…
Or bath time.. I swear by kids would live in the bath if they could. Or morning snuggles, when we all pile up in mom and dads bed.

[#7] Share a photo you wouldn't typically post on Instagram but depicts real life happenings.

Be sure and follow @latishacarlson on Instagram! You can also keep up with the series by following @kelliandvanessa or #myeverydaymoms