Throwback Thursday ~ When They Were All 13

In our house we have tried to mark becoming a teenager in a very specific way. We hate the whole just-wait-until-they’re-a-teenager attitude that is so pervasive even within the church as if we have no choice but to have deep rebellion and bad attitudes from our kids.

Obviously, the teen years are at times tumultuous and emotional because there is a whole lot going on. Growing up and growing pains are par for course but that doesn’t mean it has to look like defiance and sneaking out of windows. We can set an expectation and lay ground work to help our kids know that they are not at the mercy of all the boiling emotion and changes they will experience during this time.

One of the ways Rob and I decided to mark this special time with our girls was to actually carry on a tradition my father did with me and my sisters. The girls are each given a ring as a reminder as the approach the age of boys and relationships that their father is there to guide and help protect their hearts until the right time for them to wear another ring placed on their finger by a young man as they prepare to marry.

We also wait for the girls to get their ears pierced so after a special dinner and getting their ring, Rob takes them to have that done. My part in all of this has been to take some formal portraits of our daughters. We choose to do formal dresses to mark the transition from girlhood to young womanhood in a way that is feminine and special.

Claire turned thirteen in November and it marked the end of this era in our family. It was a bit of a moment as my last child entered into her teen years. She wanted to wait until after her ears were pierced to do her pictures and we finally got the window of time to do them last weekend. Tomorrow I will share more of hers but today I thought it would be fun to look back at all four girls’ 13th birthday pictures.

To say my skills behind the camera have improved through the years is an understatement.

Be that as it may, it was bittersweet to look back at such a significant day in the lives of our girls and remember the innocence between girlhood and womanhood.



Emily loved horses and some dear friends let us come over to their place and include one of their horses in her pictures.



Abby turned thirteen the year that Frozen came out. We were doing her pictures in a local park when this little girl came running across the field with her mother trying to catch her. She was convinced Abby was Elsa and was all starry eyed.




Man, the mix of it being the baby and the official close to a part of life had all the feels.

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Four daughters. Four. Daughters.

Rob gets ribbed a lot about those four daughters…the emotions, the drama, the weddings! And sometimes the weight of raising four women to image God in a world that hates all that God would have for women as good is heavy.

But it is a heavy blessing rich with joy.


I’ve got a project I’ve been working on. I had hoped to share it last week but the final part just isn’t coming together the way I wish it would. My sweet kiddos, specifically my girls, have been quite the troopers though and a few weeks ago agreed yet again to be in front of my camera. It was quite the adventure with the first couple of locations not working out…possible snakes in tall tall grass, gang sign graffiti making me think we should probably move on no matter how pretty the filed, a bee in the van, and wondering if we were trespassing. It’s never boring that’s for sure!

If any of you have pinned this kind of shot before know that the photographer worked hard to get it…I’ve learned that “blowing” face are pretty much the definition of a herp derp and not very photogenic and it’s harder than one would think to get a flattering shot. We had a good laugh before we deleted a bunch of shots and settling on this one being ok to keep.

Sam was with us and cooperated for a couple of shots too.

He doesn’t mind really as long as he gets to play Temple Run on my phone in between pictures.

I don’t do very many group shots of my kiddos. Individually we’re great. Small pairings can be fine too. But for some reason I can have the patience of Job with other people and their kids but a full on session with my five as a whole is stressful for all of us. I’m always mystified that something I have so much fun doing for other people is a hurry and get this over with thing with my own. I’m usually like, Hello? Do you guys realize that people actually give me money sometimes to do this? But about once a year we spend a few days talking ourselves into it and it usually works out. And the result makes my heart smile.

Commit Your Way

Sometimes we begin a journey and have no idea where it is going to take us. Most of the time I think we actually may believe it’s one thing and God surprises us by leading us somewhere new…somewhere we may not have thought of.

This comes to mind as I share a session of a sweet family from our school. Did they realize when their daughter started at the school that mom and dad would both end up teaching there this year as well?

Our family has the joy of walking part of this journey with them. She’s Claire’s teacher and we love her! She is fanning the flame of loving to learn in Claire. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit in his class and his love for the students and what he’s doing is evident. And because older students are always paired with the younger students, both of our older girls have spent some time enjoying their sweet little girl.

Pensacola, children's portraits, downtown Pensacola, photography

They laugh a lot together…delighting in the family God has given them. Her with her little toothless grin just brings a smile to your face.

But what I really noticed was the way they live out God’s instruction to parents in Deuteronomy six. Loving God with all their heart, and soul, and might and teaching their daughter of who God is, His ways and character. And not just in a book learning kind of way but in that “…you shall teach them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way…” kind of way.

Pensacola, downtown, family portraits

So, I’m not sure if they had any idea where God was leading them when they first came to our school…all that He would do for them and through them. But what a lovely journey it’s been so far!

“Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him and He will act. 
Psalm 37: 3-5

The Favor of the Lord

Have you ever known someone for a little while and then the more you know them the more you enjoy them?

That has been my experience with this sweet family.
Amy was Claire’s first grade teacher last year and the more time I spend with her the more I love her sweet smile and gentle spirit.
It’s always such a joy to spend time with her precious family. The devotion between her and her husband and their desire to raise a God honoring family just shines through.
Plus, Mr. J apparently really enjoys my company.
Pace, FL, Milton, Fl, family photographer
He and big sis are just about the cutest too.
family portraits, Milton, FL Carpenter's Park
We had the best time doing their portraits despite the sudden dip in temperature that weekend. And I was thrilled that they were willing to come to Carpenter’s Park for their session. The beautiful scenery was the perfect backdrop for their lovely family.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,

and establish the work of our hands upon us;

yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90:17

Strength To Comprehend

Every now and then we are given the privilege of walking along someone as they travel a difficult road.

We weep with them as they grieve with hope and we dance beside them when God turns their mourning into joy.

And then we join their chorus of praise as God blesses them abundantly more than they could have asked for.

Maybe that’s why looking at these pictures makes me teary eyed. I watched these sweet friends suffer with grace during seasons of loss and wait with hope for a baby to love. I witnessed their indescribable joy taking their son home and I’ve been humbled hearing them pray for his birth mother.

And then, in His generosity God has given them another son due in a few months.

How amazing is that?

It’s also this little fella’s cheeks…or maybe those big brown eyes…that get me when I look at him.

 I know he gives a lot of joy to his Mama and Daddy!

Such a precious family!
family portraits, Pensacola, downtown Pensacola portraits

And it doesn’t hurt that I took my most absolute favorite tummy picture of all time with them, either 🙂

baby bump portraits, belly pictures

 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family  in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-20

Making Memories

It’s been said that a happy family is but an earlier heaven. It’s a beautiful idea that I caught a glimpse of over the weekend photographing this sweet family.

Ft. Pickens, Pensacola Beach, family portraits

It was the first time I’d met Mark but I knew Amy when she used to teach K4 at Trinitas. It is always such a pleasure when I get asked to photograph the same people more than once and having done Mr G’s first birthday pictures I knew I was going to enjoy seeing those bright blue eyes and quick smile again. He’s pretty much always been a handsome fella, hasn’t he?

We had decided to do the pictures at Ft. Pickens and we had a good laugh at how almost creepy the fort seemed when we first arrived…we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

How precious is Mr G picking and giving flowers to his Mom?

Ft Pickens, Pensacola Beach, family portraits
It didn’t take long to see how much this family loves each other…truly a bit of heaven here on earth.
Ft Pickens, Family Portraits, Pensacola Beach
Thanks for spending the afternoon with me you guys!