3 Generations strong with Affirmation and Growth; NW Indiana Family Photographer


3 Generations strong with Affirmation and Growth; NW Indiana Family Photographer

Smelling the sweet aroma of compassion 

I met Melissa through a Rising Tide Group that I am a part of here in Indiana.  Melissa makes AMAZING desserts and treats and runs a successful business hosting workshops and spreading her joy everywhere she goes.  When she asked if I could take some photos of her with her mother and grandmother for her mother's birthday I was quite thrilled.  For you see, Melissa is one of the most compassionate, servant-hearted and talented woman I have ever met.  And truthfully, she follows directly in suite with her beautiful mother.  Their hearts beat for those around them and they serve however and whenever they can.  They are simply full of generosity and compassion, so it came at no surprise to me when Melissa mentioned that she has never heard an unkind word come out of her grandmother's mouth.  And upon meeting Sue as well, I believe it to be true.  Melissa, Sherry, Sue.  A beautiful tribe just as full of life as ever.   Three generations strong with affirmation and growth.  


Baking with Joy 

Something incredible about all three of these women?  They all love to bake together and are incredible gifted in it.  Many of Melissa's recipes come from her grandmother here, and her mother continues to help as well.  Three beautiful women, with beautiful hearts, with a giftedness in baking and serving.  Let me just say these are my women.   These are ladies that I adore being around.  But SO much more than the wonderful joys through taste they are able to give, there is such much richer they provide through relationship. 

One thing I firmly believe in, is spending time around the table in relationship with others.  There is something about this gift of quality time, intentional relationship and commonality on some level that stirs up relational growth and stability.  These women get that.  They understand the value within each other because they have taken time to cultivate a relationship that sees each other for who they truly are, the beautiful gift they are to the world.  And I just so wish, myself included that more of us could do this.  That more of us could take time intentionally around the table to talk with and invest in the ones we love.  To fully soak in the presence and gift of life in the room with us, and never let the moments slip by.  Each moment bears weight. May we make as many of them as we can count.  And may we also realize that on the times we aren't able to, there is always another opportunity.  For may we not be covered in guilt, but propelled through hope.  


Letter to Melissa, Sherry and Sue 

You three.  Three generations of compassion and love.  I don't know that I have met three woman as strong, loving and caring as the three of you together.  There is a bond that richly connects you through food, and yet also through the joy of life.  You each love and serve each other so well. You are bold and determined, yet attentive to others and open to listening to new ideas that may come.  I know these memories together, all three together are fading, but may you rejoice in the wonderful way in which it has been spent.   May you continue to radiate through each other for your remaining years and shed light and hope to others around you through your story.  You have an amazing gift of togetherness and I know you completely understand, see and treasure this value.  May you each take hold of all that you are, embrace it dearly and run fiercely ahead, for others need to see all that you have within you. 

Melissa- goodness my friend, you truly are a rich soul.  You make amazing desserts and entertain to a T, but you have much deeper value still.  You are an encourager, a quiet leader, a gentle beacon of light.  You are loyal and trustworthy.  You follow through on your words and check in on people simply because you honestly care.  You go the extra mile with every opportunity to serve and love on others.  You are a true gift and I am so blessed to know you! 

Sherry- I see every piece of where Melissa gets all of her amazing traits from you.  You are strong and yet so compassionate in your leading. You radiate hope everywhere you go.  Sherry you are the true definition of home.  Welcoming anyone with open arms, having them as long as they would like and serving them with every ounce of yourself.  You are a safe place, a trustworthy friend.  You are the best encourager of Melissa and I know she adores you with every ounce of her being.  You are one blessed mama, and people around you are so incredibly blessed by you. 

Sue- Although this was our first time meeting, I can see every bit of the joy Melissa so perfectly described radiating from within you.  You have a heart of gold and a mouth of love.  You so desperately long for and desire to build everyone up and rejoice in the process.  If a person ever were to extend full grace I think you would not be far behind.  You are leaving an amazing legacy behind you, with two generations following your lead.  You are wise.  You are strong.  You are beloved.  


Remembering Affirmation 

In closing, may we remember the importance of affirmation.  May we remember that these moments together are truly a gift, something to be treasured and leaned into instead of brushed aside.  May we feel the weight of the tender moments before us and rejoice in the opportunity at hand.  An opportunity for rich fullness of love and true relations.  It is never too late to start.   Each and every morning is a new opportunity for life, and for life to its fullest.  Let's jump in shall we?


I would love to document your own story of the heart!  Let's create something wildly beautiful together! 



THE Stay at Home Mamas; You are so much more than JUST a mom!

A Stirring of the Heart

So, something has been stirring around that I have heard a lot of within some of my friend circles and it is truly something I feel passionately about that we are moving in the wrong direction in within society. 

There is a current rising trend within stay at home moms as of late to pursue entrepreneurial ventures on the side as well traditional motherhood.  Here me in this, I clearly think there is nothing wrong with that, as I myself run my own photography business.  However, I think that we as women do need to make sure we are specifically called to what we are stepping into and recognize that it is indeed a job, it is indeed a sacrifice, and it does indeed take away from your family life. And if there is not a financial need for it, or a specific calling into it, then is it the right thing to be stepping into?


More than JUST a Mom

Some of my amazing friends were talking to me about how they were JUST a mom, as if they were not enough within our busy new culture being a mom.  But let me tell you, it can be the most beautiful season and the most beautiful thing to JUST be a mom.  You have the opportunity for one on one time with your child.  You are the only one who can love like you do, you are the only one who can build them up emotionally like you can, you are the only one who can care for them and tuck them in and bounce with them and cradle them and nurse them and swaddle them and correct them just the way you do.  YOU are their mothers and you are making an eternal impact, an eternal difference within the lives of your children.  And that is enough mamas.  Shouldn't that be enough for us?

I was recently listening to a podcast, Risen Motherhood, in which they were interviewing Ruth Chou Simons.  What said has stuck with me for several weeks now.  She mentioned that "just because a door is opened, just because you CAN do something, does not mean that you SHOULD."  She has an amazing hand lettering company with gorgeous prints and just released a brand new book.  She has 6 boys and looks like she is doing it all.  But she is honest about not doing too much when her boys were younger so that she could invest the time.  I would highly suggest this 20 minute interview with her to any mamas out there.  It was truly so rich with good stuff! It has been mulling over and over and over again in my head.  Just because we as woman CAN do something does not mean that we always should. 


We Cannot Do It All My Friends 

And I just see this concept being pushed on moms everywhere, that motherhood alone is not enough, that you have to be doing something on the side to be the “cool” mom, the “hip” mom.  Or, it is broadcasted that stay at home entrepreneurs can do it all.  And my friends, it is just not true.  I am here to tell you.  I LOVE what I get to do.  I love the stories I get to document and the amazing families that I encounter, however, please I ask you to forgiveme if I have ever portrayed that this is the IT life.  I have to make a sacrifices, for it truly is a business.  There are MANY nights I am up until midnight, missing time and snuggles with my sweet husband as I edit and get all my business things in order.  I cannot attend all the playdates or church functions or be all the places, because I have a business I am running, and I have to be at home a lot to work.  My husband and mother-in-law watch the kids a lot for me as I shoot sessions or attend meetings.  And for me, this works.  I love beingable to photograph families, making extraordinary of their lives, bringing rich hope to their walls and advocating for orphans around the world.  It is a part of me and bleeds out of me, and I truly think I am a better mom for it.  BUT, goodness you guys it comes at a lofty price.  No one person can do all the things nor should they.  We can only be affective within the few things God has gifted us well in.  


THE Stay at Home Mamas

So friends who are “just” stay at home mommas.  Can we please change the jargon??!  For goodness sakes, can we please instead say that we are THE STAY AT HOME MAMAS.   Let’s form an amazing new tribe for you shall we?  Can we rejoice with you and sing over you and build you up and encourage and affirm this hard task you have before you.  You are being intentional with your children.  You get to spend this time with them, and soak them in.  And not to say you shouldn’t also have girlfriend time and enjoy girls nights out or all those things.  By all means PLEASE do!  You need it sisters!  But also, recognize the weight of the amazing job you have placed before you.  May we as mothers get off our phones, stop comparing to all the things we think we should be of those around us, and instead step into the unique calling we have right between our two feet.  May we be fully present right where we are at, and be all there.  Be all there with your kids mamas.  (I am speaking to myself here too! ) Be all there, abide with the Lord, give your kids attention and love and I can promise you, when you look back, you won’t be upset at all, for all those things you were never a part of.  Let’s get intentional, let’s get small with our focus, and let’s do exactly what we are being asked and just not look to all the things we “should” be doing in the eyes of the world. 

So, whether you are a full time mama, a part time mama, a stay at home entrepreneur mama, or THE stay at home mama.  Consider it a blessing.  Use your influence.  And THE Stay at home mamas.  I see you.  I know its hard.  I know you don’t get the recognition you deserve and that your days are spent teaching and giving grace over and over again.  It is so stinking hard.  But can you be brave?  Can you have the courage to step up and own your job, own your place and be crazy excited about it?! Time is one thing we will never get back.  So, let’s STOP believing we need to squeeze in more things, and instead let's do the things we can in front of us well.  

May we not be defined by our jobs or our thoughts of the type of mother we are, but rather in who we are in Christ.  May our identities rest there and there alone.  May we rock at being stay at home mothers and rock at being working moms.  It is all just as significant.  It is all beautiful and messy and hard.  It is all work and sacrifice.  So, let’s run after our specific missions well and rejoice with our sisters on all platforms.  And in doing so, in joining this mission to be THE stay at home mamas, may we foster healthier families, and more loving homes filled with care and attention.  Families that are chosen, desired, knit together and valued.  Families that change the world start within the family members themselves. 

~Rooting for you, THE stay at home mamas.  

You’ve got this.  You are so deeply loved my friends. 






Born into hearts; The Fankhauser Family; NW Indiana Adoption Story


Born into hearts; The Fankhauser Family; NW Indiana Adoption Story

Unexpected Blessings

This week I have the pleasure of introducing the Fankhauser adoption story to you.  As I began listening to their story, it became very evident to me, that their story was quite unique, quite a bit different than the stories I have encountered thus far, and yet every bit as powerful and beautiful.

Now, the Fankhauser's on top of having a unique adoption story, also have a unique factor in their family in the fact that both mother and father are named Jamie.  :)  So, to be able to keep matters clear I will title Mother Jamie as Jamie (M) and Father Jamie as Jamie (F). Jamie (M) and Jamie (F) have 3 beautiful daughters, Brooke, Brianne, and Ava.  Brianne is now married to Carson. 

The story began in 2000 when Jamie (M) began feeling a call upon her heart to adopt.  Jamie (F) did not feel called to this at first, but in time, he too could not shake the feeling that adoption would be in their path for them.  After lots of prayer, and just having different things happen around them, they felt called to adopt through Romania.  They went through all the steps, paperwork, and all.  However, after they had been matched with a beautiful boy in Romania, Romania closed it's doors to international adoption.  Romania had promised already matched parents that their adoptions could still hold firm, yet after visits to country, visits to DC and meetings with even the Prime Minister of Romania, they discovered that they adoption process was not going to go through.  

Heartbroken and devastated from the loss of a child, after official word had arrived a snowy morning, Jamie (M) received a call from a wonderful woman who was looking for a home for her  baby girl.  

Stepping Forth in Courage

From here a beautiful relationship formed.  And if you have ever met Jamie (M) than you know, that she is one of the kindest, most patient women that you will encounter.  Jamie (M) and Jamie (F) began to form a relationship with this woman.  They got to know her on a deeper level, and truly see the genuine love that she had for her child.  She truly wanted her child.  She wanted the best for her, but with no Father and not much of any family support in the picture, she was considering placing her child for adoption, so that her baby girl might have the best possible life she could.  And, she found that in the Fankhauser's.  And, in 2006, the Fankhauser family welcomed Ava into their family.  Jamie (M), Jamie (F), Brooke and Brianne were in love. They say that Ava was "born into their hearts" and I don't think could be any more accurate.  Ava's older sister's adored her.  Her Father and Mother lavished their love upon her.  She was and is treasured, and valued to be sure.  

Ava has had the amazing chance to meet her birth mother and her siblings. She knows that she in incredibly loved not only by her parents and family here, but also by her biological mother as well.  She is seen, heard, loved, safe, a breath of life to the Fankhauser family.  She truly is a ball of joy and delight.  Ava can tell you all the details of what is going on around her, and make you feel warm and treasured all at once.  She is a special one for sure, and the entire Fankhauser family knows they won a rare jewel the day she was born into their hearts, into their lives. 

And guys, can I just say what a need the world has for people like the Fankhauser's to be willing to bridge the gap for some of the mother's who feel they don't have other options.  Who feel overwhelmed, incapable, alone and scared.  I so appreciate the way in which they said yes to the call placed right in front of them, even admit some hard rejection.  Saying their small yes to their specific calling, thus changing not only Ava's life forever, but also their other two daughter's lives, and Ava's birthmother's life.  The affect ripples and the love is spread in the sacrifice of saying yes to the right yes before you.  

Rooted in Love 

I love the Fankhauser story and how they are so rooted in their love for Christ that they literally went to the ends of the earth trying to adopt their little boy from Romania, but when all fell through, they could continue to trust that God was good, that God had a plan and that He was preparing them for a different journey, still just as beautiful and more rewarding than they could ever imagine.   Not without struggles and heartache to be sure, but beautiful just the same.  And, something I find incredible, is the way the Lord worked over their situation.  As they were in the adoption process through Romania, they were able to provide their hopeful son with a foster family in the waiting process.  When items fell through with the Romanian government, even though Jamie (M) and Jamie (F) were not able to physically bring home their son, they could rest assured that he was well taken care of, within a loving family, and able to be out of the orphanage.  So, truly, they were able to bless two lives through the process.  What could have potentially been seen as a disaster, was used for good.  God had a plan through it all, and that is such a beautiful thing within adoption.  We are not anything miraculous, we just get to be a part of the plan He is setting forth before us, and go out and make ripples of love to the world.  Yes, it requires sacrifice, but the reward far outweighs it all. 

Advice to those who are seeking Adoption: 

The Fankhauser's suggest to anyone seeking adoption to first trust God.  Trust God in it all, no matter how hard.  Secondly, make sure you really are the right family.  Make sure you are adopting for the right reasons and out of a genuine heart.  Adoption is a life long journey, a life long commitment.  So although a huge blessing, there should be proper intentionality placed on it as well.  And finally, make sure everything is solid at home.  Adoption is a large transition.  It is a huge change, stretching family members, resources, time and attention.  Make sure the important relationships are in check before adding more to the mix.  Everything will run more smoothly in turn.


Letter to the Fankhauser's 

The evidences of grace run deep through you.  The beauty of peace washes over you.  You welcome with open arms and satisfy the desires of attention and worth.  You are each warm and kind.  You pay careful attention to love, and to love well.  There is a special connection, a unique gift woven into the fibers of your family.  Your love sinks deeper than just blood and duty, but rather stems out of gratitude, grace and goodness.  You rejoice in each other and smile at the days together.  You are uniquely crafted and yet perfectly designed as one.  You are the perfect fit, the amazing weave.  You are a treasured prize. 

Brooke- Goodness, your love for people and for your sisters runs deep.  You are truly a free-spirit with the kindest heart around.  You make sure everyone is taken care of, without wishing to be in the spotlight.  You are blooming right where you are planted, and the colors shine forth so brightly from the deep roots you have planted.  Keep watering my friend, for your impact to the people around you is a treasured gift. 

Brianne- Your joy, enthusiasm and rich love of hospitality is a so fun to be around.  You welcome those around you with open arms.  You see the incredible details in those around you, you speak truth over them, and rejoicing with them.  You love your husband so well, and have the sweetest compassion towards Ava. Your heart is pure and kind, and I am sure you always light up a room as you enter. 

Ava- Filled with every bit of love, compassion and joy.  You serve so well sweet girl, and pour yourself out for others.  You are this miracle gift to your family.  It is insane how much your parents and sisters (and Carson) dote over you.  You are incredible Ava.  Don't ever lose your spirit of curiosity, and wonder, as it is going to take you on some incredible adventures, and those around you will be blessed. 

Carson- Caring and humble.  You love Brianne so so well, and are truly are the best big brother to Ava I'm sure!! You serve well, and stand firm in tenderness.  You are thoughtful and generous with your words, your actions, and you are such a great fit for this family!  I know the Fankhauser's adore you! 

Jamie (F)- The Best Dad around.  I love how the girls joke with you, and the joy you bring to their faces.  They know that they are each delighted in by their Father.  And the way that you speak to and encourage and uplift Jamie (M) is the most beautiful thing.  Your children understand true love because of the way you treat your beautiful wife.  And you are such a shining example of leading in love and compassion, paving the way for peace within your home. You lead well and your children know their worth and value due to the way you have brought security and attention to them. 

Jamie (M)- There are some people in this life who are just innately special.  Who radiate a genuine sense of beauty about them.  Not by any standards of this world, but by far greater standards.  That of love, and joy, patience and kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  There is something so precious in the way you love on your girls, the way you watch over each person in your family, making sure they are taken care of, provided for.  You truly are the Mama Bear of the family, and I know your girls wouldn't want you any other way! 

Thank you guys so incredibly much for being willing to share your story with me! I know that this connection goes far beyond images taken at the beach, and I just feel incredibly grateful to have experienced the loving kindness of your story and relationship. Be blessed my friends! 



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