Monday Confessions, on a Tuesday

Hey there internet friends! I am working hard on getting back into my Monday Confessions series. It’s a great place for me to keep up with all of you in between photography posts. I hope all of you find your summer off to a great start. We have hit the ground running with an out-of state wedding the first weekend the kids done school and then traveled to the shore for part of last week in between photo jobs.

I have to say that I am daily wrestling between the need to try to enjoy my kids and to get work done in this busy season. My kids keep saying their really annoying SpongeBob quote, “the inner machinations of my mind are an enigma.” I laugh because these confessions are basically sharing the “inner machinations of my mind!” SO there you go, Patrick and SpongeBob can be deep right?! (Insert kid humor because that’s where I am living these days!)

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  1. I am hooked on Annie F Downs Podcast That Sounds Fun, because it is the summer of the Enneagram. Have you heard of this personality typing yet? What number are you? I would love to hear from those of you also learning about the enneagram. I definitely recommend these episodes, which will take a “number” or personality type for each episode and break it down. It’s not only so helpful with learning your own heart, but also in relating to those around you. It can really help explain motivations and fears. Start here with Suzanne Stabile and her explanations in this episode!

  2. I confess that in seasons when we are all too busy, we are grumpy. Does this happen to you too? May was truly an insane schedule for our family with little time off for anything and both the kids and grown ups were feeling down. How do you build in some rest or put guards on your schedule? I think it’s especially hard when you work for yourself (insert my personality type that thrives on trying to get things done.)

  3. I confess that the older I get, the more I despise how other people drive. Is that weird? Can anyone relate? I have been watching so many aggressive driving behaviors lately on the roads and I am like “hello, can you not see me trying to safely drive my 4 children here?!”

  4. We have been big on BLT sandwiches for dinners lately. It’s perfect for summer with the fresh tomatoes and an easy dinner that doesn’t heat up your whole kitchen (unless you fill your entire house with smoke like i did last time…burnt bacon smell, delicious!! Haha) Anyhow, I would like to share the game changer when I made the herb mayo from the Magnolia Cookbook . Here’s the recipe below from Magnolia Blog, enjoy!

    Creamy Herb Dressing

    ingredients
    1 cup mayonnaise (or 1 cup plain greek yogurt)
    1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
    1 cup chopped fresh chives or green onion
    1 tbsp fresh flat-leafed parsley
    1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
    1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
    2 cloves chopped garlic
    1 tsp ground black pepper

    1 tsp salt
    1 cup sour cream

    instructions
    In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients (except the sour cream) until smooth. Add sour cream and process until blended. If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days. (This dressing can be made the day before. Just cover and chill.) Yields: 2 cups

  5. I met Robin Roberts briefly at the Phillies Game last Wednesday! How fun is it to meet someone in person who shows up every morning on your tv screen? I have admired how she has handled a lot of things, including sickness, publicly.

Monday Confessions, Early Spring Musings on church

“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” ~ T.S. Eliot

Yesterday morning, after hustling to try to get 6 people out of the house and drive the twenty minutes to church, it started to rain. Matt dropped us curbside and as I struggled to open the umbrella with one hand and hold my coffee and bible with the other…I was suddenly wearing the coffee. I started to laugh so that I didn’t cry. By the time we got inside, I lamented to the kids “how are we still ten minutes late?” I was in all my coffee and dry-shampoo-wearing-glory wondering just why is church such an effort. Is it worth it?

It became clear though on the way home, when two of our big kids that had joined us in the adult service were able to give back to us the three main points of the sermon from Luke 6. When our kids said back to us that a true believer in Christ is “fruitful, truthful and faithful,” I felt much better about the shenanigans we endured to get ourselves there. I remember someone saying once that we might not remember every meal that our mom served us through our childhood, but we know we were nourished. We are supposed to look at church attendance in that light, that we might not remember every sermon or point but we are spiritually fed. So as parents, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up'“ (Galatians 6: 9).

So, even if the early spring rain is falling or the coffee is spilling, we are doing the important work as parents. We are investing in our kids spiritually and that takes the long view. I am so thankful that we have our faith to guide us in this parenting gig.

Here are some spring scenes from around our yard yesterday. We are loving all the animals to watch around our new home!

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Monday Confessions, Recent Reads Fiction

Hello blog friends! I hope this chilly first Monday of March finds you well. I had some requests last week to do an updated book recommendation post on here and you can follow my hashtag on Instagram that is #emilytroutmanreads to get updates when I post shorter comments on books. It honestly helps me keep track of what I read and helps when I get asked for recommendations! This post will strictly be fiction and I will try again soon with non-fiction (I promise there’s lots of great non-fiction out there)

Some of you might remember I had a dream trip to Paris last fall with my parents. Part of my book-loving self could not wait to check out Shakespeare and Company book store, right along the Siene river, across from Notre Dame Cathedral. Shakespeare and Company is a famous book store that hosted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, among other well know writers who lived in Paris. It’s just a neat experience to walk into places like that, which have birthed inspiration for so many. I thought I would share a few shots from my Shakespeare visit along with this book post! I bought and read The Paris Wife in Paris. It’s about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley (more thoughts on this book below)!

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“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own making.” My mom’s feet are at the top, making it even better for me. She’s a librarian now and leaves a legacy of a love of reading!

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own making.” My mom’s feet are at the top, making it even better for me. She’s a librarian now and leaves a legacy of a love of reading!

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1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - I adored reading this book in Paris and in general, I enjoy historical fiction. I was seeing some of the places and spaces that she was writing about. I was also understanding the magic and appeal of a life in Paris for the young couple. This is a fictionalized version but I am pretty sure it’s close to truth. It was easy and enjoyable to read until later in the saga, when Ernest starts to stray. It then becomes difficult to root for him as a man…but I would say a good follow up read to this was Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. It’s his own take on some of these early days in Paris with Hadley. Order here if you want your own copy to arrive from Paris :)

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2. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan was a delightful fiction read and also had some Parisian scenes that I appreciated. I took this photo of the book though literally minutes before I got into an accident at my kids school and NO it wasn’t my fault and NO I wasn’t reading at the time…I digress, back to the book review….I loved this read because it shed some light onto Asian culture that is not as main stream as one might think. My husband works at a prestigious boarding school and it gave me a giggle because in some ways it really shed light on what some of the Asian students deal with in their families and with their parents. Some things are based on stereotypes but also most stereotypes are based in some type of truth. I definitely recommend reading this book for the great writing and then rent the movie, which is just as enjoyable!

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3. Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy - If you grew up loving the Anne of Green Gables series, this is a great read for you. It’s like finally getting the back story on Green Gables and what it was like growing up there or why Marilla and Matthew are single siblings living there until adulthood. I admit, I realized I knew scant amounts of Canadian history before reading this and I had to look up some little nuggets of info to help shed light on the story. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount of historical details but I did want to make sense of the times. I really liked this read but some people that are purists to the original series might not like someone adding to it (which is kind of how I feel with the second season of Anne with an E on Netflix. Not my favorite.)

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4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - I also really enjoyed this fictionalized story of the North Carolina marshlands. It weaves together a modern crime being solved while flashing back to the beginning of the story. It was thankfully so well written that the time hoping did not confuse me (sometimes I can’t track with books that jump around in time). It’s the story of Kya, growing up in the marsh land and often alone. It was tender and hard to read at times, but it also just made you cheer for the main character to persevere. It has a fantastic ending in my option and it’s just a great read that takes you to another time and place! I found it recommended on Reese’s Hello Sunshine book club.

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5. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - This was an interesting coming of age story set in New York City with two main characters from completely different backgrounds. I really enjoyed this young adult read for the most part. It was a quick read and an interesting ending. I think it drives home the idea of some people being in your life for a reason, even if only for a brief time and I am not spoiling anything - there are many examples of this in the book. I have to say though, of all the other books I review here, this one probably goes as my least favorite, as in, read the other books first! (If you liked Park & Eleanor a few years ago, you might like this one :)

Monday Confessions, Recipe Round up

This winter has had me inside cooking a ton. It has led me to some great recipes so I thought I would share a few hits here on the blog today. I have even crowd sourced recipes on Facebook and dinner ideas, so I thought I might share some too. I also am starting a bit of an eating change (let’s not call it a diet) for a bit to see if I can get my body to change and feel better. Many of you that have followed me know that I have wrestled with sleep issues for quite some time, so I’m hoping it might help with that as well. None of these are necessarily diet friendly but they are all family friendly!

Super easy Tortellini Soup: Delicious, easy and budget friendly ingredients, especially at Aldi.

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Shauna Niequist’s Berry Crisp: This is delicious and clean eating if you’re on a plan. Can be a great breakfast with greek yogurt or a nice light dessert.

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Ayesha Curry’s One Hour Bread: Bread intimidates me, yet this one was simple and delicious. It was actually simple enough that my 9-yr old daughter helped me make it!

Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Pot Pie: This is a yummy dinner crowd pleaser and even easier with left over rotisserie chicken and pre-made pie shells. It feels like you worked for hours for this hearty dinner but it’s easy as can be.

Paula Deen’s Shepherd’s Pie: This has been a winter favorite of our family for years. It’s especially easy when you have any left over mashed potatoes from another meal or ground beef you need to cook up.

Pot Roast Hand Pies: These are my 9yr old son’s absolute favorite. They’re meant to use up left over roast beef but I actually made them last week with left over taco meat and made it more like a little cheese burger. Again, if you have pre-made pie shells in the fridge, these are a breeze and kids like to help cut out the dough circles for each hand pie. I serve with a veggie on the side and wa-la!

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Joanna Gaines Chocolate Chip Cookies; Self explanatory deliciousness! No diets here :)

Here’s to having a great week and let me know if you decide to try any of the recipes I shared!



Monday Confessions, 5 things to stop doing in order to produce more Joy!

I don’t know about you friends, but January usually finds me trying to slow down and take stock a bit about what’s important. It’s sometimes a forced change in pace. The winter weather keeps us in, the hustle of the holidays are over and things are just generally slower for me in business. I need this “reset” so badly but I also find myself resisting it. So, instead of resolutions of things I need to start, I’ve actually been thinking about some things that I know I need to stop doing in order to allow for more joy in my days!

Listen friends, I am taking this advice as much as I am giving it. I’ve been wrestling with chronic stress and insomnia (see also “Mommy Burnout” by Dr. Sheryl Ziegler) so these are things I need to stop as much as anyone to gain fresh joy and perspective in my life, as well as my health.

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

If you resonate with this blog post, I highly recommend both of these books! I enjoy both of their different writing styles but mostly their messages. They also both have excellent Instagram accounts (for when you’re not avoiding the internet :)

1. Stop over scheduling: This seems self explanatory but we all need to take a good look at our schedules, especially as we head into spring and a new season. Don’t try to jam in too many things for yourself or your family. Kids need margin too. They need free play and even, boredom. I know how much it causes me to get frazzled when I am rushing everyone around and nothing puts disappointment on a kids face like telling him he has to rush off somewhere instead of getting to play outside with friends/siblings.

“Busyness is a byproduct of our culture. It is the sacrifice we make for our religion of more, for our perfectionist tendencies, for our temptation to over schedule, over inform, overprovide.” - Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

2. Stop Comparing: We all know the saying that “comparison is the thief of joy” and yet so many of us live constantly trying to see how we measure up. I think this affects each of us differently, but it can be everything from body image, to clothing style to our home or kids…It is any area of life that we find ourselves comparing and lacking. Don’t do this to yourself. If you find yourself comparing, take a step back and ask yourself why?

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -G. K. Chesterton

3. Stop wasting too much time on internet: See above about the comparing issue….so much of this springs from our internet culture. We don’t all need to know what the housewife in Wisconsin is baking or decorating or wearing today. It’s not that all these things are bad things, but it’s just that it takes up time and mental space that you could devote to other things in your days. Set a timer if you need to or remove apps from your phone. A big help is turning off notifications so that you aren’t getting dinged constantly and beckoned to come look at your phone. I promise more days with less internet will bring your heart joy.

“Deep breath. Are we all inhaling intoxicating Pinterest fumes? An oxygenated reality? And if so, can we call it true inspiration? The definition of inspiration is the drawing of breath, an inhalation, a gasp. A filling-up that offers an abundance of energy for your day, for the task, for that project, for this life.”

- Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

4. Stop acting like you don’t have power to change: I heard a podcast the other day talking about maintaining a family’s schedule and the interviewer said, “it feels more like the family schedule controls me than I control it.” I do understand this feeling for sure, but a question arose while I listened. Are we not in control of what we choose to fill our lives with? We truly do have the power to change things if they aren’t working for our lives or families. If nothing else, America is certainly the land of choice. We have options about schools, jobs, foods, etc. We can change things that aren’t working. Does that mean it’s easy? No, it most likely won’t be easy. I can revisit a lot of feelings from early last year when we contemplated moving…it was by FAR not easy and 2018 was the year that tried to kill me, but now sitting on the other side of that journey in our new home, I can see it was worth the huge change. This idea of the power to change can apply to all kinds of habits, from our health to our housework, so don’t be afraid and start small! One small change can lead to big differences over time.

5. Stop with the frantic: I know all these suggestions here are like a spiderweb that all connects at this point, which they do. This frantic part though, it’s not just a pace but the frantic part is a mind set. Frantic has you thinking, “when your mind has to work seven steps ahead instead of just being where you are, because this deadline’s coming, and the laundry has to get done before that trip, because you can’t forget to pack snowpants for school, and you need to beg for more time on this project. Again…Good things like efficiency and multi-tasking go off the rails so far that sometimes I find myself running in my own house, shuttling things from room to room like my life is a timed obstacle course. This is insane.” (excerpt from Shauna Niequist, Stop Hustling and Get Your Life Back).

I find myself getting like this all the time, worrying about everything from big decisions like education all the way down to what is for dinner. It’s not like we can escape a lot of these parts of life, but we can make room for more slow time and quiet. It’s the opposite of what culture teaches us constantly, which is to dominate, to hustle, and to succeed at all costs. Sometimes “success” needs to just being to slow down and play with our preschooler on the floor. Our souls need a lot more of that type of interaction than the constant hustle. As I am exploring my serious need for rest and a change of pace, this is not only a preference issue but an absolute necessity for me. I need to change out of the frantic if I am going to find health again.

I hope you hear my heart on this Monday morning, we are in it tougher. What are some things you need to STOP doing in order to create more joy in your days?



Monday Confessions, MLK Jr.

Life has brought us to mid-January and a day to reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr’s life and words. It’s interesting how his words always seem timely, no matter the situation. When a life is lived with character and dignity like his was, it has a much more last impact than so many of the flash-in-the-pan type people we see rise to notoriety today. I know that I have reflected on this before but years ago I went to the civil rights museum in Memphis, TN (the site of the former Lorraine Motel when MLK Jr was shot). Visiting there was such a powerful experience and will stay with me. It made me examine my own heart and think of all the ways I can tend to think about people just because we are different. I think also as a young white female in America, it made me face some truths I didn’t like.

I confess, I had never read MLK Jr.’s speech on Washington in it’s entirety until this morning (or if I had, I had forgotten, or quite possibly in the naiveté of my youth, I didn’t understand it’s profoundness.) So many of his urges for change are still quite relevant and necessary in 2019. It had me thinking also of the current work of Bryan Stevenson, lawyer, advocate and author of Just Mercy. As I had the privilege of sitting in a room to hear Stevenson speak last year, it was not only powerful but personal. He urged us all in the room to get proximate to these issues, issues that make so many of uncomfortable or issues we tend to just try to ignore. Proximity to real struggles forces us to deal with them. We can no longer claim ignorance to the injustices going on around us. If you haven’t yet read his book, run don’t walk to the library or to Amazon to get it. EVERY American should be reading this book, in my opinion.

So what can you do today in honor of MLK, Jr? Ask yourself, was there a time when I didn’t speak up and should have? Are there ways I have allowed thoughts or feelings based not on truth of us all being God’s children, but allowed thoughts of prejudice? What are ways I can move towards others who are different than me? How can we contribute to the movement towards a more equitable America for all?

“‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Monday Confessions, 2019

Maybe you were like me and were waking up to the first Monday of 2019 with calendars and to-do’s swimming in your head or maybe you too just need the reminder of the sunrise. I was letting the thoughts swirl and then I looked out my window to see this sunrise. It’s a reminder to me that a fresh day is dawning, full of new mercies.

“Anxiety is an expensive habit. Of course, it might be worth the cost if it worked. But it doesn’t. Our frets are futile. Worry has never brightened a day, solved a problem, or cured a disease. God leads us. God will do the right thing at the right time. And what a difference that makes.” ~Max Lucado

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So as we have new beginnings for the year and for the day, just remember the creator of it all is here with us. We can set goals or make changes, but he’s meeting us with grace all along the way.

Monday Confessions, a few favorite things

December is in full swing and it got me thinking about a few of my favorite things I’ve been loving lately. I thought this is the perfect spot to share, not necessarily as a gift inspiration but maybe as some ideas of things that might encourage you in this hectic but sweet season.

Here’s what I am loving…

  1. Our new home. It has started taking shape as a place that we not only live our daily lives but we are starting to make memories. It’s been a CRAZY year for us in 2018 with making the decision to move, but finally being in our new home and settling in for the holiday season has been sweet.

  2. Come Let us Adore Him devotional from Paul David Tripp. This book has a reading for each day of the month, allowing us to focus on one aspect of the advent season. It also has a bible tie in and a central idea if you want to chat about it with your kids. I am first to be distracted by all the “to-do’s” of the season and daily life busyness, but this is helping me to remember the big picture of Jesus coming to earth in flesh.

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3. Simple Addiction Leggings are amazing. If you are/were a Lularoe fan but no longer have a local rep, these are an amazing and affordable, very similar option. I love the plain black but I do have a fun holiday pair as well.

4. LIIFT 4 Workouts are also a new favorite. I am beginning week 3 of the plan this week and it has challenged me but is getting me back into a good routine. It’s 4 workouts each week and none of them are more than 40 minutes. It’s a combo of lifting and hiit, which is my favorite combo. (Remind me I said that when I get done this post and have to head to the basement for my workout!)

5. Dunkin Donuts coffee is always a favorite of mine and right now if you have the app, they’re doing a great fundraiser with a large hot coffee that’s only $1.49 for the customer, while Dunkin’ donates 50 cents for every coupon redeemed to regional food banks. SO basically it’s win, win. You’re getting a great and inexpensive cup of delicious hot coffee and helping your neighbors in need. “Help Roast Hunger!”

6. I recently got hooked on the show Nashville, I know that I am WAY late to the party. I had heard Kimberly Williams Paisley talking about it on a podcast (she played a character named Peggy in the show). I decided to check it out and got hooked right in! If you love country music with a side of drama, it’s a good show. And I mean who doesn’t love Connie Britton?! (Tammy Taylor for president!)

7. SO earlier this week I lamented on Facebook that I wasn’t excited about our elf returning this week BUT I have had a change of heart over this little guy. I was wisely reminded that our kids are growing up so fast and in fact the oldest two are on the verge of not believing so I am taking this little guy as my nightly reminder to savor the season with the kids. They excitedly wake up each day to see where he is or what he is up to!

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

Our elf “Jerome” hanging out in Macy’s stocking today

8. Have you heard about Iceland's “Yule Book Flood” tradition on Christmas Eve? A holiday where you hop in bed to each chocolate and read books is totally a holiday tradition that I can get behind! What books are on your wish list or your gift list?!

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I hope you have a wonderful week and December is giving you great reasons to be thankful. Share some of your recent favorites with me in the comments!

Monday Confessions, It's been a while

Hello dear friends, I know it has been a while. I wasn’t sure if any of you were even missing these weekly installments of things on my mind in between photo posts, but I have been assured that a few of you appreciate these posts! So I have decided it’s better to just hop back in than to keep skipping. The thing is, I can’t even describe the level of tired I am feeling this morning. It’s been months of moving, transition, changes, surviving and then moving again. My whole family is feeling the tired seeping into our bones. When we decided last April that we were going to put our house on the market, that started the wheels in motion to first the prep and eventual selling of our house. That led to having to move everything we owned into storage and living with family while we found and then waited on settlement for the home we are now in. Then of course that meant moving again on the heels of the holiday season.

I think the very hardest thing is that daily life doesn’t stop for you in the midst of huge changes like this. Kids need need 3 meals a day, clean clothes and a place to sleep at night. It’s hard to keep the juggle of daily life while finding the energy to try to do everything else well. It’s not an excuse, but certainly a reason that this blog has been a big neglected. I have been steadily working photography jobs but have been hit or miss with posting. In this constant sifting of priorities, I am sure that I mess it all up sometimes but as I remind my kids, “I am one person and I am doing the best I can.” I am thankful for this little corner of the internet where I can share my life and work! So without further ado…here’s what I confess today…

  1. I confess that I don’t like time change. Even with the autumn “adding” an hour, it basically has just made my 3 year old away at 5:15 every day and we are all over it. I think the time change has added to my general exhaustion.

  2. I have been awful at self care since we put our house on the market earlier this year. I am slowly getting back into better and consistent routines like workouts, reading, and sleep…sleep has been a hard one. I got a migraine on Saturday evening which I had felt coming because of the stress, lack of care for myself and lack of sleep. My body tells me when I need to take a step back from the stress and find ways to take care of myself.

  3. I just hoped in on a reading plan with She Reads Truth on thankfulness that started today and I am looking forward to leading up to Thanksgiving week. Trying to focus my heart and mind on the right things first in the day, can help the rest to get done.

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4. I got some questions about my hair yesterday so I thought that I would post here. First, thank the fall weather for the humidity going away! Lower humidity makes a huge difference in my hair type. The other tools contributing to good hair days are Aussie 3 minute miracle, heat protectant spray and my Hot Tools 1.5” gold curling iron. Use heat spray before the blow dry and using the 3 min miracle every few days is helping the condition of my hair after summer and color processing. Use the curling iron to curl away from face in a few inch sections. My favorite hair tutorial blogger is Kate Bryan at Small Things Blog.

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5. It’s Veterans Day, which should give us all pause to thank a veteran in our lives. I am thankful for those who have protected our freedoms and been committed to preserving the lives we enjoy.

Service is selflessness--the opposite of the lifestyle that we see so much of in America today. The things that entertain us don't often lift us up, or show us as the people we can rise up to become. The people who appear in this book--and others who did things I can't talk about--are my role models. They quietly live out the idea expressed in the Bible (John 15:13): "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 
― Marcus Luttrell, Service: A Navy SEAL at War

Here’s to Monday confessions being back in the rotation! What are some things you’d like to hear from me? HeHave a great week!

Monday Confessions, Summer of Moving

    Good morning internet friends, how's the heat wave treating you on this second day of July? As I sit and write, we are temporarily moved in with family as we await moving into our new home later this summer.  I can truly say I understand why people put moving right up there with grieving. It's exhausting both mentally and physically. We have everything in storage and will have to move again once it's time to settle on the new house. I am currently mentally preparing to have to do it all again! BUT I cannot say enough that I am so thankful that we sold our previous home very quickly and everything went smoothly. I am also extremely thankful that we have family willing to let us stay for the summer!  

   June was a blur but we were very lucky to escape to North Carolina for the first week of the month before we had to do the big move so I thought I would share a few of those images with you this morning. It's a sweet time for me to try to slow down time and reflect over all that is changing and growing this summer. For those that have followed me for a longer time, my twins turned 9 on Friday! It's amazing how the time passes and yet I am trying to live in the moment even in all the transition. Have a great week and stay cool! 

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Monday Confessions, with Sadness

    It's with a heavy heart I share the news that Gianna passed from earth to heaven on Saturday night, surrounded by her family. I did not feel like this was coincidence as we all sat in church together yesterday morning crying and praying for her family. We were gathered as a church within hours of her passing. It's hard to explain, especially to all the kids who have been praying for her. She got her miracle and healing, but it just wasn't this side of heaven.

Oh what an ache her family will walk through in the days and weeks and years to come, noticing that empty seat at the table. So many would ask why would God allow this sweet little soul, a Chinese orphan with a literal broken heart, to come to know a forever family, only to be taken from them in such short years? I admit, I have wondered this myself. Her family has shown so much faith, even as they wrestled. They are now in mourning, yet it is not without hope. 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34: 18

Gia's mom, Johanna, shared again today the long but beautiful story of Gia becoming a part of their family on her blog if you would like to read it. So it is with a heavenly perspective I will try to live out this week and be reminded that Gods ways are not our ways.

If you have been following the story and felt led to give to help with the extensive medical expenses, go here to do so.

Photo Cred: Gia's family 

Photo Cred: Gia's family 

Monday Confessions

   Hello friends, I know it has been a while and forgive me for that! I have found myself in the buys swirl of life with four young children and a business. How is spring treating you so far? I say spring, but it's basically felt like an eternal winter here in the Northeast but I digress. I thought it a good time to confess a few things about what's been going on with me lately! I'm starting today with a heart of gratitude, remembering that I have so many things that I once had only prayed for. 

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1. If you've been following on Facebook, you've seen me share some posts on a sweet young girl from our church named Gia, who is still currently in the fight for her life in Boston Children's Hospital. If you are a person who prays, please lift her up if you can today. Lots of decisions being made in regards to next steps and her exhausted parents need our prayers! (This is on 3 weeks of being on life support and so many complications). 

Photo credit: Stephanie Leight 

Photo credit: Stephanie Leight 

2.  I confess that I have been trying to find a better routine/rhythm for workouts that just "whatever I can fit into the week." In all honesty though, I have basically just been trying to fit in at least 3 or 4 workouts a week but I know I need to do more to see results. I have been doing a mix of my old favorite T25, classes at the Y and running outside. What's been your favorite workout to keep you motivated lately?

3. I am SO late to the party but I have been watching episodes of Friday Night Lights and The Good Wife on Amazon prime. It's a good mix of high school football theme drama and an intriguing legal show..both serve as great shows to fold laundry to :) And now I totally get the "Tammy Taylor for President" vibe now! What are you watching these days?

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4. I am starting the potty training process with my youngest and I feel like we are both half hearted about it but it's time to try. What worked best for you with potty training? 

5. I am trying to drink more water and am enjoying LaCroix. Are you a water drinker? How do you jazz it up so that you don't get sick of just plain H20? 

I hope you have a great week ahead! 

Monday Confessions, it's March

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     Oh March, you "came in like a wrecking ball" for sure and we have the roof damage to prove it. Was anyone else affected by Friday's crazy storm here in the northeast? It's already later in to the day and I've been working on editing as well as life/house stuff so I'll keep it short but I've been missing my Monday Confessions posts lately! The big excitement around here is that we got a new niece yesterday and I can't wait to meet her, Makenzie Elizabeth! Our kiddos are excited to have another cousin and I am looking forward to some baby snuggles :) 

So here's what's on my mind today...

1. I went to a killer boot camp workout this morning which actually put in to question whether or not I am "in shape" at all! I realize that levels of fitness are different for everyone but whew, she tried to kill us through burpees, squats and weights. I hope that I can get up off my desk chair after writing this! 

2. My most favorite recent book I've read is Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng. It's beautiful writing and characters with a bit of 90's nostalgia and I found myself lost in the story. Definitely put it on hold at your local library or get it on your kindle if you are looking for a good spring break read!

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3. Speaking of Spring Break....my kids break starts this Thursday! They are excited and yet I see snow in the forecast so it's just not the "spring" feeling I was wishing for but we will have to find some fun adventures anyway to make it a good time off. 

4. My favorite Spotify channel lately has been the "afternoon acoustic" or Johnnyswim on repeat. What music or vibe are you loving these days?

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5. I got these TOMS for my birthday and I adore them. Wedges look put together but are still good for a mama chasing a toddler. What are some fashion favorites you're looking at this spring?

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I hope you have a beautiful week full of sunshine and coffee, two of my other favorite things!!

Xo,

Emily 

Monday Confessions, New Year 2018

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     As I sit here on the first morning of a new year, my coffee has gone cold and it's only a whopping 8 degrees out. I confess that I did not necessarily do everything I set out to do in 2017. If I am really honest, I feel like 2017 raced right over me. It truly has been the fastest year of my life. I remember clearly sitting in a coffee shop the week before the end of the year last year filling out these pages of hopes, dreams and goals for 2017...but what I really felt like happened was I just held on tight for the crazy ride!

I think the best way for me to start this year is to look at what the 2017 intentions were and see how I did! These were 5 intentions I set last January and here's my res

1. Self-Care needs to be a better priority - I think this needs to stay a goal for me. Getting back on track with water, exercise, sleep, vitamins and showers :) I am only half kidding here about the showers... being a mom hasn't gotten any easier this year, just different as the kids age. The only way we will all survive is if I survive! I want to get back into a morning workout routine and set weekly goals. 

2. Spiritual focus- I do feel like I made some progress in this area and read through several different series with She Reads Truth.  I know that this element of my life has to stay a priority to keep everything else in balance. 

3. I want to be committed to the creative process this year.... fail, fail, failed on this one. I struggled to just be creative when not forced.  I did get to be a part of a great photography workshop in April that was encouraging and helped me create for the fun of it. It would be good for me to find another workshop to attend in person or online this year. The in person aspect of the April workshop allowed me to make some new friendships that I have valued this year! 

4. Renewal in relationships... I'm not really sure how to "measure" this one but I know it needs to remain a focus for me, especially with my immediate family. Allowing my family to act as a mirror to my own heart is important. I need to grow in how I relate with them and not grow complacent. 

5. Keep reading... I haven't kept a count but I was pretty consistent in reading this year. I read through a lot of non-fiction, which I want to balance out with some fresh fiction this year as well. I  learn so much from reading and if I am honest, many days come and go without adult interaction other than talking to Matt. That can be really hard on my naturally outgoing personality. Reading is a way to feed my brain and soul even if I sometimes find myself isolated in my little family world. 

   I just finished reading Wonder and saw the movie with the kids! If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it and then see the movie too, totally worth it :) Great book to start the year on!

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Monday Confessions, Recent Reads

   We just had what might have been the craziest, busiest week of our year, which is saying something! My brother-in-law got married on Friday in a beautiful outdoor ceremony, in which the whole family was involved. I also photographed another wedding over the weekend and had daylight savings time change. Needless to say, I'm going to be sipping coffee and reading off a to- do list today to keep my head on straight! I have had a few requests for a recent reads post so here's a few!

Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons: Non-fiction

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I really enjoyed this honest read that shares the authors struggle with anxiety and changes of life seasons. It's small and I read through it fairly quickly. It left me encouraged and gave me lots to think about though. If you don't think you'll have time to pick up the book, definitely still go and read her article Why Women are Fading and you will get insight into some of the book. 

The Lucky Few by Heather Avis: Non-fiction

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 Not even kidding when I say the first page of this book is so beautifully written and convicting that I had to stop and read it a few times. Heather and her husband have gone through adoption for all 3 of their children, two children also with special needs, specifically Down Syndrome. I read through this book very quickly and found myself being both challenged and encouraged by her story. Definitely worth the read!

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery:  Fiction

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I picked up this classic again after watching Anne with an E on Netflix earlier this year. Anne is such a great heroine for a young girl and as it turns out, 35 year old women as well! I loved reading through this again because it has been such a long time. It makes you laugh and cry all along while routing for Anne Shirley in her various circumstances. Sometimes revisiting a classic is the best reading, it's familiar and brings warmth to your soul. There's way too many quotes to choose from but this one always stays with me, "Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" 

The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs: Fiction

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     If you want to get in on the Hamilton craze but aren't feeling reading a lengthy biography, this was the perfect solution. It's a historical fiction version of Alexander Hamilton's life that fills in just  enough details while keeping the story going. We all know how Hamilton met his demise, but I always somehow want a different ending! I really did enjoy this read though. I have no idea how much is true or isn't true but it tells the tale of Hamilton meeting and falling for his wife, as well as other dalliances along the way. I liked the blend of the romantic story with historical elements.

 

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker: Non-Fiction

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 I laughed a lot through this one which goes along with the subtitle "wrangling delight out of this wild and glorious life." It's written in an essay form so it's very easy to pick up and put down if you're not wanting to get bogged down in something serious. Jen Hatmaker has been involved in some different agendas and theological controversies over the last few years, so I went into the book with the knowledge that we disagree on some things. I actually think there's tons of value in reading opinions differing from your own. That being said, she kept it fairly light and I really enjoyed it. If you're in the thick of raising a family, it will help make light of life. We have even made some of the recipes from here, because you know she's all about food as well. If you find you like this book, check out the For the Love Podcast with Jen with various guests and topics.

Monday Confessions, Columbus Day

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     I have been absent from my Monday confessions and not by choice. I can only say that I am seeking continually to balance out all my responsibilities as wife, mom, business owner, and teacher. In some seasons I do way better at it than others! Today though I am not confessing my current likes, dislikes or shortcomings, I want to share a story instead.

       The story told by Girolamo Benzoni in his Historia del Mondo Nuovo of 1565 was that at a meal several of Columbus's detractors began to comment that any number of other people could have found their way to the New World and that Columbus's feat was unremarkable because of its simplicity. Columbus replied that it was only easy now that he had demonstrated how it was done, and by way of an example, he challenged anyone present to stand an egg on its end. After all those attempting the feat had admitted defeat Columbus demonstrated the simplicity of the challenge by crushing one end of the egg against the table which allowed it to remain upright.   

      I heard this story recently and it made me smile. A task does always seem more possible once it has been done, but I think of the passion and bravery that Columbus (all his shortcomings aside) had to exhibit to put his life and fate in the hands of a belief that he could indeed sail around the world. Enjoy today with your family and ask yourself, "what dream am I avoiding because it seems to difficult?" Maybe take that one step today towards realizing that dream!

Monday Confessions, Thoughts on Charlottesville

    I was absolutely horrified standing in my local coffee shop early Sunday morning to see the images coming over the newscast from Charlottesville, VA. My heart hurt and those I was standing with all vocalized the horror of such actions by hated-filled individuals. I got my coffee and I had a but of a drive ahead of me, which allowed me to think for a few moments on the events. It led me to thinking of some  my travels as a college girl. There have been two places in the world I have stood, where my feet were rooted to the ground and my heart was pierced, knowing to my core that racism in any form was wrong. One of those places was abroad and one here on U.S. soil.

    The first spot I speak of was in Germany, where on a freezing German winter morning as a young college student, I toured Dachau concentration camp with my travel mates. Everything about that place is somber and makes you contemplative. You can almost hear the screams and you certainly can feel the heaviness of such a place. I remember walking around bundled up in my sweater, coat and warm boots thinking, "how could anyone survive this weather in a thin cotton dress or shirt," as many who were taken there did. As we toured through different areas just taking in the place and knowing what kind of atrocities happened there, I felt it in my soul that racism was wrong. All those who suffered there at the hands of the Nazis had no crime other than simply being different. 

    The second place a couple years later that my heart felt the same murmurings was at the Civil Rights museum in Memphis, TN, which was previously the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. The feelings and stories emerging from that place felt even closer to home. This was how American brothers treated one another. I found myself hurting for our history and wondering how we would continue as a country to move forward with better race relationships, but more than that I was asking myself, "would humans ever learn to treat each other better?" 

    Unfortunately as far back at history is recorded, there are stories of one people group being against another or viewing another group as superior. We cannot though, treat this type of behavior as acceptable. I read an article yesterday that better sums up this idea than I ever could so I will quote Dr. Mohler here. "But Christians must see much more than the lessons of history, though we dare not miss them. We must see claims of racial superiority–and mainly that means claims of white superiority–as heresy. That is not a word we use casually. Heresy leads to a denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the eclipse of the living God as revealed in the Bible. A claim of white superiority is not merely wrong, and not merely deadly. It is a denial of the glory of God in creating humanity—every single human being–in his own image. It is a rejection of God’s glory in creating a humanity of different skin pigmentation. It is a misconstrual of God’s judgment and glory in creating different ethnicities."

      God created us ALL in HIS IMAGE and we do well not to forget that. I know this problem often feels so much bigger than any of us, so what can we do? We can literally love our neighbor. I am thankful to live in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood and have many relationships here. I can also continually teach my children that to treat someone differently based on them being different (race, gender, ability etc) is NOT ok. We can raise our children to be a different generation and we can all pray to root out any kind of deep-seeded misconceptions or prejudices in our own hearts. As these prejudices surface in your mind, confess them and ask God to take them from you. We have to all be committed to doing the work to make it better. May you find a little spot of joy this Monday in loving or serving someone different than you!

Monday Confessions, Early Summer Favorites

  I know it's not officially summer until Wednesday this week but with the kids out of school, it has already felt like summer for a week and a half! I have been in full swing mom and business mode while trying to balance it all out. Unfortunately I still think balance is a bit of a myth, but I've learned to pick a focus for the day and try to get to at least that particular priority. If I am honest, there's always things at the end of the day that will just have to wait for tomorrow! For today's confessions I am going to share five favorite things I've been enjoying so far this summer!

Reading Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: If you haven't read this classic since childhood, I recommend it. (And then watch Anne with an E on Netflix!) I confess that I watched the beautifully done Netflix series and then revisited the book. The opening credits alone to the Netflix series is a gorgeous montage of paintings. Give it a look and check out the book :) 

The sequence is based on eight custom-made paintings by artist  Brad Kunkle , and created by Imaginary Forces, the design-based production studio.

The sequence is based on eight custom-made paintings by artist Brad Kunkle, and created by Imaginary Forces, the design-based production studio.

"Chore" Charts: which are really more like a plan to control the chaos and motivate the kids to keep to a simple routine. I am loving this version that a friend shared with me that covers basic morning tasks to allow kids to earn privileges like screen time. Any type of complicated chore charts, I know we will ditch before the week is out! 

From Erin @ Erin Farell Photography

From Erin @ Erin Farell Photography

Pedicures: Plain and simple a little relaxing and quiet while walking away with pretty toes is always a favorite! Plus, who can say no to the massage chair?!

Doing Something for others: Some advice I heard recently was to "put something on your calendar each week that's not about you and serves another person." I've been putting this into practice the last few weeks, simply trying to think about it on Monday morning. I ask myself, "who is someone that I can serve with a practical need this week?" This is not a brag on me AT ALL and in fact, this practice has been doing wonders on giving me an attitude adjustment when I need it most. It reminds me of others who need the help because maybe they are walking through a rough time. A simple meal or delivery of needed items can be a huge encouragement to someone who needs their spirits lifted among the practical help! 

She Reads Truth summer reading plan I have said for many years that as soon as I neglect my spiritual side, it's not just my faith that suffers. Engaging with the bible and prayer on a regular basis not only feed my soul, but helps my entire being to stay in balance. Having solid and regular doses of truth intake can help me keep perspective in even the toughest situations. All this being said, it also regularly reminds me of my own sin and need for repentance. I know this is a healthy process, especially as I seek to mother 4 children way this summer with everyone home each day. Even the simplest seeming things can instantly get overwhelming while dealing with two 8 year-olds, a 6 year-old and a 2 year-old. Three meals a day anyone?! :) 

Monday Confessions, Summer & Rest

   Summer is officially here in our house with the kids finishing school last week! Along with summer break kicking off, I've been doing a study on rest. I know that may seem silly to have to study about rest, but I am the worst at actually resting. My very name means "industrious" and it can be hard for me to be still. I struggle with the concept and practice of real rest. (The study I have been listening to is Rhythms of Grace by Rebekah Lyons if anyone is interested). It has me thinking about how this summer season can bring about some true rest instead of more hamster-wheel type busyness that I've been prone to lately. I know that I truly need a break for my mental and physical being, as well as the health of my family.  

     As I think through things that I can lay down for a season of rest, one thing is social media. I am going to start with taking a social media break this week. I've been posting a lot with the summer kick off events, but it also affects me when I look at everyone else's imagery. I know over time it feeds how I compare myself to others as well as just impacting my perceived reality of how everyone else is handling life. I have found that even a brief time on Instagram can have me longing for a different countertops or wishing for a trip to Europe. Whatever the envy of the moment, I am going to try to choose not to even allow my eyes to see it or my heart to be affected by it. I know even this small thing will feed my need for soul rest! Will you join me?

"Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
 -Matthew 11:28

 

 

As always if you need me for business inquiries, I'll be checking email, emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com