I AM A MOTHER.

Magnolia-Tree-blog
A very special thank you to Ginny Hobbs for taking this photo I treasure so dearly with my poodlechild, Rhett, & my daughter, Bara Faith, underneath our Magnolia tree on our farm.

Three months ago today, on April 26, 2016, my sweet daughter, Bara Faith (pronounced bear-ah), arrived into the world a month early, and last week on July 21, 2016, we stood in front of a judge vowing to love her forever as we finalized her adoption.

Up to this point my blog entries have been about my journey to motherhood during the tear-filled grieving waiting seasons of our infertility struggles, and during the journey of our adoption process.  But now I can say it, what I have longed to say after 5 years of the wanting and waiting… I. Am. A. Mother.

I feel like I have had so much to say along the way about my beginnings days of motherhood, a little bit I have shared on my Instagram for those who have been following our story, but then time blinked and she’s already 3 months. These past 12 weeks have been a whirlwind of so much joy, exhaustion, colic, smiles, feeling like a zombie, tears of joy holding her while dancing in the kitchen that I finally have my promised child in my arms, and more exhaustion.

One thing I keep thinking in the midst of it all is, “I can’t believe all those years ago, I used to not want to adopt.” I look at her sweet face all the time, and as she smiles back at me, I think how grateful I am that God stirred my heart to be open to it and all the beauty that has occurred since taking that step of faith.

I remember in the past hearing/reading about other’s adoption stories and thinking, “Oh that’s nice for them, I could never do that, let alone afford that.” Adoption always seemed like it was meant for “other” people. And I especially didn’t want to do it as a last resort in our journey to parenthood if it became our only option. I knew if we were ever called to adopt in the midst of our fertility struggles that I wanted it to be something we were intentionally choosing. To be able to tell a child one day, “We chose to bring you in our family,” not just, “you were our last resort.” So last year as we stood at the crossroads of, do we try more fertility treatments, or do we open the door to adoption, we chose adoption. I remember standing at the beginning of it feeling it was huge mountain in front of me that seemed impossible to climb. But slowly, beautiful heart by beautiful heart, God sent people in my path to help answer all my hard questions, to send referrals and resources, and not to mention the countless number of people He sent who gave and helped us fund the adoption.

Now I look at this precious face everyday in such awe that God would choose us to be her parents.

That her birthparents would choose us of everyone in the world to give her the best life possible.

That I get this privilege to raise her to know Jesus and share His love with the world. I always want her life story to be one that brings hope to others, and I always want to be an open book to those who might be considering about the adoption process and have questions. If you are someone considering adoption, but need someone to talk to heart to heart about it, I welcome you to email me and introduce yourself and share with me your story. No, adoption is not for everyone, but for everyone who adopts, it is absolutely indescribably life changing. And the best decision I ever made.AdoptionGod’s word says in Psalm 127:3 that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” Thank you Jesus for keeping Your promise when You told me 5 years ago that You would create a baby girl for me. She is my most precious gift.

For all the longing over the years, I’m learning very quickly that motherhood is a hard exhausting job, yet the most rewarding. Leave me a comment below and tell me what your favorite thing about motherhood is that has been so rewarding for you. So far for me, it’s when I walk into a room and she turns her head to look at me and then smiles. Though I didn’t carry her myself, the way she recognizes me as her Momma and shows me through her smile how happy she is as my daughter, it melts my momma heart everytime!

Sig

WELCOME HOME.

Scarlett-Lillian-Blog

So I have a confession to make.

I keep trying to quit photography.

Gulp.  I have feared sharing that publicly for fear of sounding ungrateful because I know clients will read this, and I know on the other side of this computer screen is someone who would love to quit their day job to be able to have a photography business. And I’m sorry if I have made you roll your eyes, my intention is to not appear ungrateful. But my intention is to be truthful to you that being an artist who also has to wear an entrepreneur hat, it’s well, sometimes… just hard… Some days it is downright hard owning a business, and keeping up with nurturing it after you have birthed a dream.

As most photographers do, we turn our hobby into a business because it starts out as just that. A hobby. A love, a passion, that in the beginning, we have to keep pinching ourselves that people actually want to pay us to do this for them.  “This is too good to be true,” we secretly think feeling as if we just hit the jackpot.  “To get paid to do what I love, there’s nothing better!” we feel in the beginning.

Then tax season hits and takes all our hard end money that we confused for profit.  Then that first upset client hits that forces you to evaluate if there are better ways to run your business.  Then your equipment breaks and you have to use any left over profits to upgrade gear. Then photo shoot after photo shoot, editing becomes boring and monotonous, and all that newfound joy getting paid to do our passion becomes… well… a job. My fellow photographers out there, can I get an amen?

So in 2014, I quit cold turkey.  I announced that my husband and I were retiring from photography for good.  After 7 years of shooting, first on my own, and then with my husband, I was worn out and burned out.  Stephen ventured on to find a career in sales, and I needed a break creatively.  I needed a break from the pressure of photography being our only job that supported our married life bills, and how hard it can be to juggle those bills during the slower shooting seasons.  To break up the creative monotony, I tried other things, like a clothing line, and virtually decorating homes.  And while it was fun to try other things, I just never felt like those other things were meant to continue on in the way photography seemed to resonate so deeply in the heart of my clients. So in 2015, I decided to give photography another try, but this time, instead of taking on every kind of shoot, I tried to specialize in just one category.  Senior girls. And I had a blast, a renewed sense of passion stirred inside of me creatively with how every senior session is like a mini fashion shoot in this day and age!  Before I knew it, word spread throughout the local girl squads in each school, and I became booked every weekend in under a year.

But when I wrapped the end of 2015, with our baby on the way through adoption in the spring of 2016, I told myself again, ok, for real this time, I’m going to quit photography. I had waited 5 long years to become a mom, and I wanted her to be my absolute first priority once she arrived.

Then that cheesy quote kept playing out to be true… “If you love something, you must let it go, if it comes back to you, that’s how you know it was meant to be yours all along.”

After her arrival, photography kept coming back to me.  More inquiries keep flooding my inbox.  More texts from past clients hit my phone from those who want to hire me again.  And well, I swear, I kept trying to quit photography. So during late nights rocking my sweet Bara Faith, it left me reevaluating if I should continue accepting bookings. If maybe, my time wasn’t over yet as a documenter of life.

It has all reminded me so much how this act of letting go is like our Christian walk.  God asks us to surrender our ways so that He can bless us with His ways far beyond what we can ever imagine.  I have found over and over again, He asks me to let go of something deep in my heart, sometimes to take it away for good to give me something better in it’s place, sometimes to give it back resurrected as a new creation.

I have been praying, “Lord, if photography is a gift you have given that you want me to keep pursuing that blesses others, then restore my passion. Because I don’t want to do this half hearted. I want to do this because I know it’s absolutely Your will for me to continue.”

And when I opened His word, He answered me with this:WorkForTheLordSo now, after a maternity break soaking up the beginning days of motherhood, last weekend I dusted off my camera and stepped into shooting season again.  With the addition of our sweet baby girl, I was able to take some time off to simply be a mom and transition to the joy (and exhaustion) I have waited so long for. But with this new season, my blog needed a make over to reflect a lot of personal changes (baby, farmhouse, mommyhood, oh my!).  And with it, I am announcing I am now taking on a limited number of weddings and family sessions again in addition to my senior sessionsIf you are interested in booking one of these with me, you can email me here!

For you reading this, I am continuing to keep a camera in my hands, and continuing to write from my heart. Because that’s what has always kept me connected to your heart in each season of your life as well. For those who keep asking me to photograph you, thank you for continuing to trust me to document your life’s most precious memories.  And for those I’ve never photographed, but you have been a loyal blog follower all these years, thank you for continuing to let me share my heart with you, as you have trusted me with yours in return.

Sig

WE BOUGHT A FARM HOUSE Y’ALL!

Fixer-Upper-Farmhouse
Not OUR house, but the Fixer Upper Farmhouse is a big inspiration for the fixer upper farmhouse we just bought and are moving in to right before our baby girl arrives!

Tomorrow, Stephen and I celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary, but we are giving each other our anniversary gift a day early, because today, that gift is, we are closing on our forever home.  Today, we bought a farmhouse!

With our baby girl on the way in May, the last thing we imagined doing… again… was moving. Even though we’ve been in a temporary rental, I was good where we were, already had her room waiting, and the closet full of an overflow of pink tutus. Not to mention, the fundraising we’ve been doing for our adoption, the last thing I wanted to add on top of remaining adoption fees were now moving expenses. Siiiiiigh….

But what’s that saying, when you make plans, God laughs.  And over the past few years, I’ve realized He loves taking us out of our comfort zones. With this now being our 4th move in 3 years, some days I feel like the Israelites taking 40 years to get to the Promised Land, when it should have been a 3 day trip, with my grumbly “Are we there yet?” whine. And although I knew the current house we were in was only a transition home, I’ve just been ready to get to our own Promised Land and finally call a house a “home.”  A forever home, to be specific.  That place where we can plant roots that becomes “our” family home over the decades. We’ve been bouncing around from home to home the past few years, and I’m happy to say THIS farmhouse is where I see us growing old together creating our family history. And this home already comes with so much history because it’s a historic 1951 farmhouse on an acre and a half of land that we look forward to soon welcoming people at…

THE KNUTH FARM

Est. 2016

Who out there is a HGTV “Fixer Upper” fan of Magnolia Farms?  Yeah, me too.  I’m a bit obsessed.  And what started as a daydream of “ohhhh let me just go look on Trulia and see if I can find a farmhouse for sale in the area as cute as Joanna Gaines’ house” turned into, oh my gosh, there’s one available, on my favorite hanging Spanish Moss Oak Tree covered street I always wanted to live on.  But knowing our baby girl was on the way, the last thing I wanted to do was move… again. So I put the daydream aside and continued watching Fixer Upper obsessing over all things shiplap and barn doors and repurposed wood.

Ok, back up… yes, in my past homes, my style has been NONE of the above. When I told my cousin about our farmhouse, even she laughed with “You? A farmhouse? Would have never guessed that one!”  But honestly, there are so many different sides of me, and the foundation of who I am and where my roots come from, as my dad used to always answer when I asked what our family nationality was, “Your bloodline is Southern, that’s all you need to know!” (hence being named after the greatest Southern heroine of them all, Scarlett O’Hara, ha!) And because of it, I’ve always wanted a very Southern home with charm and character beyond the usual Florida stucco cookie cutter home, which has been so hard to find in our area.

And so, though I tried to stop thinking of it, I couldn’t get the farmhouse for sale out of my head and I decided to go check it out one day. One showing led to another and led to putting an offer in knowing there were other offers and we probably wouldn’t get it, but next thing we know, they accepted our offer and oh my gosh did that really just happen?!?!?!?  Paging Joanna Gaines… gonna need some help here to merge my glam sparkly decor into “Farmhouse Chic” as I’m calling it! Hahahaha! Though our past few homes have been ultra girly glam with bold colors, and I loved it for that younger season of my life, this new house will be mostly be lots of clean white, black and pastels. Like our back country kitchen door, I’m turning pastel pink. Because, you know… I still need my pop of pink after all (and trust me, baby girl’s nursery will be abundantly pink to have one room in the house for my obsession). But after years of lots of pops of color, as I’ve grown older, I just want more simple, and I love the look of simple and clean as in these inspiration Pinterest Faves I have pinned.

White-Kitchen White-Living-Room-2 White-Living-Room

Y’all… I honestly did. not. think. we would actually get this farmhouse.  There were so many God parting the Red Sea moments involved with purchasing this house that from day one, I have been telling everyone that this house is a true reminder of how God turns the impossible into possible.

I’m not sharing any photos of our house yet because, well, it is somewhat of a fixer upper and needs to be “Scarlettized” over time. Because my first priority is our upcoming adoption and BECOMING A MOM NEXT MONTH! Ahhhhh….  But as I finish projects, I’m sure I’ll be posting some sneak peeks on Instagram and here on the blog as our life unfolds in the farmhouse. (Stay tuned also for a new blog design update I’m working on too to better reflect and share our farm life!)

Some things I’m really looking forward to about this house… after I get used to having a newborn… ha… is having more animals!  I am a huge animal lover and really want to grow a flock of animals to add to our family. For the longest time, Stephen and I have wanted chickens… I specifically want Silkie chickens, or as I call them, the poodle of chickens.  I also want bunnies… and dwarf goats… and maybe a pig… silkie-chickens--30013 White-Bunnydwarf-goat

And Stephen wants a big dog.  Now that we have the yard for a bigger dog, I just might let Poodle Child have a dog sibling… eventually.  Having been stuck in HOA neighborhoods that didn’t allow us to expand our animal family beyond the ducks and geese I would feed bird seed to every morning out on the lake, I’m excited to now have a piece of property that would allow us to grow our animal family, and for our baby girl to grow up learning to care for animals and grow a vegetable garden with her on The Knuth Farm.

I’m also looking forward to fostering community at our new house.  We’ve always loved entertaining, and our new home came with an in-ground bonfire pit, a basketball court, a trampoline, a built in playground and swing set, and I’m adding a porch swing to the front for long chats with girlfriends over sweet tea or homemade lemonade (because our house also came with 2 huge lemon trees draping over the backyard that I love!)  We are excited for it to be a place we can have friends and their kids over to simply do life together, host bible studies, play, and grow old in. It’s now time to plant to family roots.

Another fun fact… we found out our house was in a movie starring Julia Roberts’ brother Eric. Granted it was a cheesy TV movie in the 90s, but when I heard that, I couldn’t help but laugh. Of course, the house I would pick out, was in a movie. That was just God’s sense of humor right there as He knows my love of watching movies, and uh, being extras in movies and TV shows along my growing up.  ha!

As Helen Keller so famously said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all…” And with all the different houses we’ve lived in over the years, that it indeed has been… an adventure. But I’m looking forward to Stephen and I walking in the door later today, and our hearts finally saying “Welcome… home.”

Sig