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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! 


Sharing my Story: Laura Duggleby Photography: NW Indiana


Sharing my Story: Laura Duggleby Photography: NW Indiana


Sharing my story always comes back to identity, many times my lack of it, and the growth of finding it, discerning who I am, what I am called to, and learning to accept that, even if I do not always believe the truth that is instilled within it. 

My parents divorced when I was 6 years old, both to somewhat quickly remarry.  It was a beautiful thing/ is a beautiful thing to have so much family, so many people loving and caring for you.   However, it was not without brokenness and questioning of my identity within the process.

I was also a competitive gymnast my entire life growing up.  I practically lived in the gym, loving  my time there.  But being a gymnast stirs up feelings of perfection and unattainable goals as you are always striving and seeking for the very slimly attainable 10.0.  And to mix in my already Type-A, slightly OCD tendencies, I was destined for loads of inadequacies on my end, never feeling like I measured up for the standards I set for myself, for the goals I tried to reach, or the mountains I was trying to overcome. My identity felt like a failure many days, struggling with an eating disorder and trying to fit in despite my overwhelming awkwardness, introversion and severe acne.  The funny thing is that I actually have some amazing memories from this time in my life, as the friends I did have were incredible, I got to train day in and day out in the gym, and I was the weird kid who actually kind of enjoyed school.  So, it wasn't all bad, but when I went to the heart of the matter, I would sink deep into my thoughts and feelings, and feel overwhelmed every time; alone and forgotten, or as if I just didn't fit in.  

mother loving on her children in their home

College Days

From High School I received a scholarship to compete in gymnastics for Ball State University, I met my now husband and truly began to discover the true meaning of grace over my life. I began to see that even though I was still a hot mess most days, it didn't matter, there was purpose for me even still.  As Josh (my now husband) began pursuing me, I was also able to see more of my Heavenly Father pursuing me.  The pursuit of my heart, being seen and heard and loved in radical ways opened my eyes to an entirely new version of life.  Of course, being in love will do that for you, but this was something much deeper, for as Josh was pursuing me, I was also losing my identity of gymnastics, the only thing I had ever known as I underwent 3 surgeries due to injury and was unable to compete my last two years.  I was being stripped of everything I had ever known, and yet it was being replaced with everything I ever wanted to know.  I was learning to accept my messy, my weird, my awkward self and that propelled me to being able to care and love others in a way I had never been able to before.  For, as my identity in Christ grew, as I discovered more of who I am in Him, that I am Chosen, Adopted, Beloved, Redeemed, it led me to be on mission for others, to help them to see this same thing about themselves, and that brought forth some of the greatest joy I have ever known. 

Girl bent forwards showing detail of her hair

Marriage and Loss

2 Weeks after graduation day, I was blessed to be able to walk down the aisle and marry my best friend.  It was the sweetest memory!  Kissing him for the first time, and knowing that I had someone choosing to be by my side was one of the sweetest gifts.  Little did I know how much I would need this sweet gift a few years later. 

January 4, 2014 we lost our first child due to miscarriage.  I thought I was in the blissful days of life, everything going according to "planned", until the unimaginable, uncontrollable happened.  I went numb.  I couldn't leave the house, I felt as if all emotion left my body for quite a long period of time, around 5 months.  I would cry uncontrollably. I couldn't eat, or sleep right.  I was grieving and as we then discovered that I had PCOS and that we would most likely struggle with fertility issues, I felt as if my dream of motherhood was dying.  I had always dreamed of being that mom with a large family and all her kids into sports, driving a large SUV.  The dream was slipping through my fingers, and I was quickly discovering that no amount of planning or working hard could make pregnancy happen.  It was simply out of my control, and this horrified me.  But one evening, as I was sobbing uncontrollably and quite honestly yelling at the Lord in anger, God showed up for me. 

Portrait of girl looking up straight into lens

Stepping into Photography 

That day, the Lord did two things for me. 1. He gave me a name for our lost child, Olivia Grace.  It was a beautiful piece of closure I needed, not to be able to move on, but to be able to breathe enough, to gasp enough air for life to be worth living and fighting for.  I had battled severe depression throughout this time, even planning out suicidal actions, so this was like fresh water washing over me, a new beginning.  The second thing he did, was whisper to my heart that I needed to get a DSLR camera and start trying to learn photography.  I had always been a photographer at heart, snapping hundreds of photos at every family vacation, getting all the film developed and making crazy scrapbooks from each trip, accompanied by my journal entires along the way.  Processing through writing and images has always been a creative outlet for me.  

But what photography did for me in this season was incredibly healing.  It brought my identity back into the light, both physically and metaphorically.  For, I was able to notice actual physical beams of light shining in our house, and around town.  I became obsessed with looking for and seeing the light.  And as I was coming from the darkest state of my life, this also became incredibly healing for me, as I also began to see the beauty of creation around me.  I began to see hope, to see the beauty within the mess, within the imperfection, within the incontrollable.  And as this began, I became addicted.  I took every online class I could, attended conferences and met as many photographers as I could, to learn and grow and discover this new blooming gift in my life. 

Children playing by tree in yard with sunset, backlit

Discovering my Calling

And as seasons turned and I grew and developed as an artist, I also began to discover the type of images I was drawn into taking.  I love images with shadow light play, or strong uses of light.  I love the documentation of real life, messy, just as it is, not posed or perfect.  I am drawn to the connection between people, and the story that comes from each person.  So, about 8 weeks ago, as I was on a plane to TX to be there for a hard time my family was experiencing, God brought words to exactly what my mind and heart had been trying to process and attain.  Advocating rich stories of hope, making extraordinary of the seemingly ordinary.  This was it.  Identity had been brought full circle for me.  And as this dream and vision continued to narrow, I have felt extremely called to advocate for orphan care and providing a home and family for each child in need in the process.  Why?  Identity.  It all comes back to identity for me.  When I come back to knowing that I am seen, and loved, chosen, adopted, and beloved, that I have value and worth, my mission is to share this with others. And who needs this more than  the abandoned, or alone children on the streets around the world?  The children without homes who feel neglected, forgotten, rejected, ugly, and of little or no value.  These are the ones who need it most, and these are the ones I feel called to show up for?  For practically speaking, I feel called to document rich stories of hope right within the families and couples I know and get to come in contact with, while supporting and uplifting people who are helping on the front lines of orphan care, whether that be family reconciliation, or creating family homes in country, or even adoption.  Because here is the thing, if I can be brought from a place of extreme hopelessness and lack of purpose to knowing that I am held in the arms of my loving Father, with rich purpose before me, than I know it can be possible for others as well. So, today I am sharing my story.  

Another thing that has been insanely helpful for me in my life, is remembering that I am not in control, nor do I need to be in control.  Sometimes things happen in this life that are out of our control, and that is ok.  As I sit back and rest in the fact that I do not have it all together and am out of control at some times, that is ok.  Because God is bigger than all of it, and He is in control.  I don't have to do it all, for He already has.  He is enough, and I am enough in Him, just as I am, without doing a single thing.  I will never be enough for the world, and that is ok.  I will never be able to control the people or certain events around me, and that is ok.  Shoot, sometimes, I cannot even control me.  But Jesus is bigger than all of it, and He says He has got it, I can let go of my grip, and trust Him.  I can trust that I am who He says I am, not who I constantly portray myself to be. 

So, this is me, and this is my story. I struggle every day in identity, however, I also have been given the grace to know this life is worth it.  I am worth it.  I am seen and loved, chosen, adopted, beloved, and redeemed and I hope you know this about yourself as well. I am leaning into the hope despite pain and suffering, despite failed expectations or rejections, I am leaning into hope.  No matter where you stand, or how you feel, there can always be hope.  Lean into it today and let it meet you where you are. 



Living Simply, Accepting your call and Running towards it with Full Purpose: Northwest Indiana Lifestyle Family Photographer


Living Simply, Accepting your call and Running towards it with Full Purpose: Northwest Indiana Lifestyle Family Photographer

Living Simply 

To live the simple life, 

Not void of pain, hardship and mess, 

But rather with space to take in, 

To process. 

With air to breathe and time to notice the little things in life. 

To live the simple life is to accept a few things for yourself, 

And to allow many others to pass you by. 

To make priorities, to hold to values and to set specific purpose before you. 

To live the simple life is not made without sacrifice, 

Yet it holds the beauty and joy of the world in its hands. 

Do you ever feel that you feel pulled in all different directions?  The weight of the world pressing in and too many obligations before you?  Are you trying to be all things to all people?  I know I certainly used to live this way, always saying yes to everything and never no.  However, when we live like this we become stressed out, exhausted and void of purpose, for we have too many reaching for our attention.  So, I would suggest you slow down, set some priorities and make sure you are setting things in motion to keep your priorities a priority.  In doing so, you will see the world in a rich new light, filled with joy and beauty once more. In living simply, accepting our call, and running towards it with full purpose we are able to accomplish far more than trying to do it all.  And in doing so, most likely you will see more success, have more time for yourself and your family, and be more joyful in the process. 


Accepting your Call 

Just as we cannot be everything to all people, we also cannot be called to everything.  Each person's calling is specific, unique. And the thing about calling I believe is though we may have one central theme in life we feel called to, the details of our calling may change in time as seasons change.  

How are you doing in making quiet time for yourself?  Time to process, time to discover what your calling is and if it has changed?  This is something I am consistently working on for myself as well.  


Run Towards your Calling with Clear Purpose

So, you know your calling, you have sacrificed some things to simplify your life.  Now it is time to run full force towards that which you are being called to do.  Maybe it is motherhood, loving your children well and giving all you have each day to them?  Maybe it is your own small entrepreneurial business you are running to bless others in your own way.  Maybe it is encouraging your neighbors or being a beacon of hope to a family member.  Whatever your season and whatever your call, make sure you run towards it with all that you have. 

Do not look to the right or to the left, do not compare your success to the success of another, because how can success truly be measured?  Maybe you will impact thousands of lives, or even millions though your calling, maybe you will impact one.  Would one life be enough for you and your sacrifice?  Would one changed life be a measure of success for you?  

On my good days, when I am free of comparison or judgement upon myself, than yes, one life is truly enough, for who knows how many other lives our one person can affect.  The world can be changed one story at a time, one mission and calling at a time, with each small step of obedience at a time. 



My Specific Calling 

So for me, what does this look like? Within my business I am called to advocate rich stories of hope, making extraordinary of the seemingly ordinary.  

For me, it brings me an extreme sense of joy to take a story, a piece of someone's life, stand behind a camera, and document it in an extraordinary way.  This brings full joy and satisfaction to me, for this is where my talents and my obedience collide.  For me, this is where life comes alive as I see a transformation from something quite possibly seen as mundane or ordinary, to something intriguing, interesting, and of rich value.  Something that leaves you entranced in its beauty and awe.  For beauty rests all around us if we simply have eyes to see. 

So, I will continue to run after my calling.  To document my own family, to document other families and couples in ways to tell their incredible stories and bring hope and joy to generations to come.  And also, to bring tangible reminders of the beauty residing within your story. 

For every life matters. 

Every story is Important. 

There is nothing too insignificant that could not be of value.  There is no calling too small, or to big.  Find your calling and go after it.  I can promise you won't regret it.  Yes, sacrifices must be made, but the joy to be won far outweighs anything placed on the alter I can be sure of. 



What is Your Calling?

So, what is your calling?  

How can you live more simply?  

What things do you need to sacrifice to live a life full of purpose?  

Can you accept your calling joyfully, even if it isn't quite what you had imagined or envisioned for your life?

How can you focus on your call with a clear purpose? 

What are some steps to weed out any shame, comparison, count or guilt you may be feeling towards your calling?

The sacrifice is worth the reward.  Don't wait your whole life to fully live.  

Live Simply, Accept your Call, and Run After it with Clear Purpose.  I'm rooting for you!