Monday Confessions, A Photographer's Perspective

I started back to teaching today at the community college and know many other schools start today as well. I know it’s Tuesday, but feels like Monday after the holiday weekend. I told a family member this week that we are limping into fall…one kid is literally limping with a sprained ankle and the rest of us figuratively are limping with exhaustion. It’s a different kind of tired because summer has had no sort of routine. It has been a full summer both in life and business.

Saturday morning I was sipping coffee from my “blessed” Rae Dunn mug and it hit me as I scanned the photo galleries I shot this summer. These are truly people’s lives we get to capture. I realized that this sounds a bit trite, but it’s true nonetheless. I looked at the four marriages we witnessed, the students heading into their senior year, the families who welcomed new babies, families with multiple generations finally together in one spot, or the other special milestones like communion and moving on ceremonies. I even photographed one presidential candidate alongside the sweet older man who mentored him in politics, and who we have since lost to heaven. When a family sends a note saying, “these photos are worth more to us than any money,” it’s a reminder to me of the value of what I do.

I have captured all these things and more this summer, along with raising four kids and one growing puppy. This all might explain my tiredness, but it aligns with my desire to pause time. In a way, photographers get this privilege, to actually pause time in frames. We get to create physical reminders of people and moments. This is a gift I don’t want to take lightly as I head into a new season!

What a better symbol for a new season than a butterfly? Over the last few weeks I have seen quite a few gorgeous butterflies while I have been out on shoots. I hope you have a great week ahead!

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My visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, September 2018

““And if you wish to receive of the ancient city an impression with which the modern one can no longer furnish you, climb--on the morning of some grand festival, beneath the rising sun of Easter or of Pentecost--climb upon some elevated point, whence you command the entire capital; and be present at the wakening of the chimes. Behold, at a signal given from heaven, for it is the sun which gives it, all those churches quiver simultaneously. First come scattered strokes, running from one church to another, as when musicians give warning that they are about to begin. Then, all at once, behold!--for it seems at times, as though the ear also possessed a sight of its own,--behold, rising from each bell tower, something like a column of sound, a cloud of harmony. First, the vibration of each bell mounts straight upwards, pure and, so to speak, isolated from the others, into the splendid morning sky; then, little by little, as they swell they melt together, mingle, are lost in each other, and amalgamate in a magnificent concert. It is no longer anything but a mass of sonorous vibrations incessantly sent forth from the numerous belfries; floats, undulates, bounds, whirls over the city, and prolongs far beyond the horizon the deafening circle of its oscillations.

Nevertheless, this sea of harmony is not a chaos; great and profound as it is, it has not lost its transparency; you behold the windings of each group of notes which escapes from the belfries. ” 
― 
Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

Side view of Notre Dame from down on the bank of the Siene

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

The view out my window, right over my bed. Every afternoon a violinist would play right there in the shadows of the cathedral.

Early morning light

Early morning light

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View in between towers

View in between towers

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

Some of the famed gargoyles and statues

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

The spire that fell in yesterday’s fire

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A gargoyle’s view of Paris

A gargoyle’s view of Paris

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The bells in the bell tower

The bells in the bell tower

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Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Of course “Our Lady” is just as stunning at night!

Yesterday evening, a spark grew into a flame and forever changed the facade of Notre Dame, “Our Lady,” Cathedral in Paris, France. She has seen a lot of human events in her over 800 years of existence, some of which marred her. My hope is that the fire, although drastically changing her, will not forever damage her. Her history is linked to those like Joan of Arc, Henry VI of England, and Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon is said to have revived much of the cathedral, as well as Paris, after being in disrepair . So much beauty and history exists in this same place. It’s often a spiritual place for people of the Christian faith from all over the world. It stands near “kilometer zero” of the French highways, meaning it is the literal center of things.

I am just thankful that I got to see it this past September in the form that it has stood in for so many hundreds of years. When I studied in Italy one summer in college, a professor told us the saying that the church was central to every life in Europe, considered a part of “birth, life and death.” A church was where you were baptized at birth, you celebrated things like marriage in life and then of course, held a funeral at your death. We can look at Notre Dame and think about the many lives it was a part of. We will have to look at this fire as the beginning of the next chapter for her and see what lies ahead. I know many will join the efforts to restore and support the revitalization. The thing about Notre Dame is that it took over 300 years to complete in the first place, so those who embarked on starting the cathedral never saw the finished product. It took a work of faith to build something that one would not see in his lifetime.

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, 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, Merry Christmas

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"Joy to The world! the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev'ry heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing"  ~Joy to the World

May this Christmas day find you surrounded with love, laughter and the truth that Christ came for you too! Now that Christmas is here, allow me to share a few of my favorite images from our fall session with Christina Vance Photography. She's wonderful and I am so, so thankful to have some updated family images that include Benjamin! 

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Happy Friday, Greenhouse Envy

   I hope this beautiful fall Friday has you sipping pumpkin spice coffee and dreaming of the weekend (My reality was more like sipping cold coffee and running errands with kids!) I had the privilege of attending a friend's beautiful baby shower last weekend and her parents home is such a treasure. Her mom, Lynne, has a fantastic gift for creating beautiful spaces and parties for that matter! How much do you LOVE her greenhouse that was created (along with her husband's woodworking skills) by putting together old rescued and recycled windows?! I think this is absolute proof that one man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure :) Happy weekend! 

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#greenhousegoals

#greenhousegoals

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, 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 

Wedding Season Tip: How to prepare your "getting ready" area

Are you engaged or going to be a part of a wedding this summer? I've been photographing weddings for over a decade and in those years, I've learned a few things about what works. A special time of day is the bride getting ready. It's a sweet combination of joy, nerves, excitement and preparations! Generally the bride is surrounded by close friends and family, getting ready to walk down the aisle.  In my experience as the photographer, I wanted to share some ways that you can make the space great for both the bride and the photographs. 

1. Have at least one window available for natural light: Natural light is usually the most flattering and is a great option for helping to light the portraits of the bride getting ready. As you choose the space for the bride to get dressed in, make sure it has at least one window! 

2. Clear the clutter: I know getting ready time is hectic. Usually there are bridesmaids and moms and everyone else all prepping in the same space but when it's time to get the bride dressed, you don't want large amounts of stuff strewn across the room. It's hard for a photographer that has to both clean up the room and style/photograph the bride. 

3. Make sure details are close by: Everything from flowers to rings to invitations need to be ready to go in the prep room. The reason for this is that the details are a huge part of the story of the wedding day and every photographer wants to make sure they're a part of the photographs. If all of these things are close by and ready to go, it makes the photography go smoothly, as well as the mood for the bride. There's nothing like realizing 5 minutes before bridal portraits that the shoes are missing or on one grabbed the bride's bouquet yet. These are important things to be ready with! (True story: 20 minutes before a wedding a bride realized her specific underwear for the dress was not in the dress bag like she thought it was. Talk about frantic and embarrassing to try to get someone to go retrieve that for you!)

4. Temperature: This is pretty self explanatory but especially on hot wedding days with lots of people in the room, everyone is going to feel better if it's not smoking hot in the room. If you can get there early and crank down the AC a few points, even better! 

5. Great attitudes: Every wedding day has its drama whether it be personal or situational. The best way to keep the environment drama-free and a good vibe to leave that stuff at the door the best you can. It can be tricky with so many emotions at play, but it's important to surround the bride with positivity as she prepares for one of the biggest days of her life! 

A beautiful naturally lit room, free of clutter was the perfect spot to slip the bride into her dress with her bridesmaids help!

A beautiful naturally lit room, free of clutter was the perfect spot to slip the bride into her dress with her bridesmaids help!

Monday Confessions

          Rain on a Monday should not be allowed! It's hard to be motivated with a rainy Monday but that's where discipline kicks in. I have found myself in the middle of many tasks today but all along listening to the rain. I sat for a minute earlier and just watched it fall from the sky. It's good to just stop and take life in! I confess I've been hurried and busy and guilty of being addicted to productivity. It's a constant learning curve for me!  Im the middle of my addiction to productivity though, I've been forcing myself to slow down, even if for just small bits of time.

    One of my rest activities (I know, oxymoron right?!) is reading and I have started back in on the Anne of Green Gables series that I liked as a kid. An excerpt I read last night was Anne gathering flowers among the fields in May and she says,

" I'm so sorry for people who live in lands where there are no Mayflowers."

I fully agree as I take in the beauty of these peonies from my mother-in-law's garden! I love their beauty and their scent (the ants I accidentally brought in, not so much :) So even as it pours today, I have some reminder of how the April showers do indeed bring the Mayflowers! Have a  beautiful week friends!

Eastern Shore Sunset, Salisbury, MD

Silk Ribbons by @tornandtied (on Instagram)  Details and set up by @mandaweaver and @littlerustyshop (on Instagram)

Silk Ribbons by @tornandtied (on Instagram)

Details and set up by @mandaweaver and @littlerustyshop (on Instagram)

       This image was just a week ago as I arrived at Providence Farm, Salisbury, Maryland.  I was there for the Seasidebride Workshop hosted by Manda Weaver and a handful of others. It was a great time to get away for the night, make new friends, shoot some styled sessions and think about business. It's hard being both a creative and a business person. I can't speak for all creatives but sometimes the "business" part can suck the life right out of me. I have a long business to-do list, including the update of this very website. In the midst though of all the thoughts about what I need to do though, it was good to just shoot for the sake of being creative. I'm still editing much of what we worked on during those couple days and some things are under wraps awaiting submissions but God gifted us all this beautiful sunset as we were leaving last Wednesday evening! It reminded me of the original creator and how we are in his image. 

"When you're taking on creativity, you're taking on soul work. This is not about what we do - the is about who we are."

Brene Brown on Magic lessons podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert 

Sunset on the Eastern Shore, April 5, 2017

Sunset on the Eastern Shore, April 5, 2017

Monday Confessions, Thoughts on slowing down & a few blogs I'm loving!

     It's surprisingly Monday again and honestly, the last few weeks have been a blur of days. I or someone in my home has been sick for three full weeks. I have personally gone through the flu, bronchitis which then morphed into a sinus infection and horrible ear infection. I will spare you the other details of what I have been dealing with but can I just say that I am ready to be well?! The calendar turned to spring this past week so I am hoping the weather cooperates and we can all get healthy. This winter has truly been the most sicknesses I have ever had as an adult in one season. What is all this illness revealing to me? It has been showing me the need for rest.

    I think we all mistake a full, busy life with a life of meaning, which is far from the truth. We "push through" even when ill and think that there's some imaginary award for being tough. I've been forced to try to rest and recover, but it's been a stuggle. I'm really slow to learn on this one. I've read lots of recent books on this topic, yet I haven't put it into practice. So in this season of basically being forced to rest, I am hoping I am learning more of what matters day in and day out.

"If we want to live a Wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must learn to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth." - Brene Brown , The Gifts of Imperfection

  On a totally separate note, here are a few blogs I'm loving lately! 

The Small Things Blog - I've followed Kate Bryan for years. I love her personal style as well as her home and other things she shares. I've even made this delicious coffee cake recipe she shared not too long ago! 

Image from Small Things Blog 

Image from Small Things Blog 

 

Joanna Gaines (of course! Who doesn't love her?!)

Image from Magnolia Home

Image from Magnolia Home

Young House Love's recent post on lighting fixtures has me itching to do some updates! 

Images from Young House Love blog

Images from Young House Love blog

One Little Momma - accessible style for moms (although I don't think I would try the overalls thing! It's cute on her but I am just not built for it!) 

Image from One Little Momma blog

Image from One Little Momma blog

Emily Ley's recent post on book suggestions!  

Image from EmilyLey.com

Image from EmilyLey.com

Monday Confessions, Recent Reads

    Remember how last week I had all these great plans? Well sickness knocked me down and out along with Benjamin, so our week was altered. I was thankfully on the mend by Friday and enjoyed my birthday very much! Thanks to my husband, family and all the friends who made it a great day. My 35th year is looking promising!

     As for my confessions, today I have been up since 4:30am listening to the crazy wind blowing. It sounded as if the house would blow down multiple times! Instead of my regular confessions today, I am going to share some recent reads with you. I am just sharing my own opinions and if I would recommend the read or not. (Apparently I am still on a pretty big non-fiction kick and sorry if some of these reviews get long! Just skim if necessary :) I realized that I should be posting my winter reads a little more often because there's been so many. Here's a handful I chose and in no particular order, here we go!

 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson; This is a non-fiction work by Bryan Stevenson, recalling his work with those found on the wrong side of the law. His stories are varied but almost all heart breaking. His particular focus as an attorney is to help those that can't afford the proper representation. He has fought for many on death row, some who were wrongly convicted. Honestly, a lot of the stories are hard to read. They're full of sad realities but the thread was trying to find justice for all. Mr. Stevenson continues to champion for those who have been wrongly condemned to death. This book forced me to contemplate heavy questions, such as if I even support the death penalty (that's a whole different topic on it's own). He questions all different areas of the law on things from how we should treat children or mentally ill when convicted of crimes. All in all though, I found myself inspired with this read. It's uncomfortable to be exposed to things in our society that need work. I was reminded that these incarcerated people are humans, with their own stories and complexities. I had the particular pleasure to hear Mr. Stevenson speak just a couple weeks after finishing his book. I found his speech just as inspiring as his book, encouraging us all to get uncomfortable and proximate to issues in our community. My rating: a must read

 

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance:  I have been hearing bits about this book so I grabbed it at the library. It's the story of a young man being raised with Appalachian hillbilly roots and how he now sits on the other side of having served in the US Marines and  earning a Harvard law degree. His writing is poignant at times and in touch with the white working class poor of America. I could find some common ground with parts of his story, although certainly not to the extreme of some circumstances. When I was 13 years old, I served on a youth trip week where we worked in a small Kentucky town. My crew worked on a dilapidated trailer on a Kentucky mountainside, which was home for a sweet family. I learned a lot about the plight of coal mining families as well as challenges to rural life. So much of what I witnessed as a teenager is exactly what JD describes here.

 There was a line his grandfather said to him that stuck with me. His "Papaw" told him, "Our generation has made our living with our hands and your generation is going to make your living with your minds."  You know I always love a good memoir, as well as a story where the underdog wins. (The timing of reading this right after Just Mercy was also intriguing to me because I has just contemplated the struggles of many poorer African Americans while reading Just Mercy. Following up with reading the similar but different plights of the poor white American population made for good contemplation.) My rating: A good read if you know a hillbilly and like a memoir

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: This is a WWII fiction work that I really enjoyed. It was a wartime story so there were lots of hard things still, but the resiliency of the human spirit to survive is always something I enjoy. It's definitely a longer book but there were lots of different characters  and stories developing. I learned a few new things as well, which is always a bonus. My rating: A good read, especially if you love history or WWII or France :) 

She Reads Truth by Amanda Bible Williams and Rachel Myers:  This is another memoir but it's interesting because I was written by two authors. Their stories are woven together beautifully along with the truth of God's word.  I found myself so encouraged both by the women's stories and by the lasting truth of scripture. I already loaned this book to a friend but probably will read parts of it again. If you love the bible and a good written memoir, this book is for you! My Rating: great read

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd: This is a historical fiction work set in pre civil war Charleston, SC. It was also a longer read over decades of time so there was a lot of character development. I would say in the end I enjoyed the characters and historical commentary, but it did start to feel drawn out after a while. I guess I didn't realize but I have been reading all different eras and perspectives on the American struggle to get where we are today. I don't alwa My rating: good read

Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley: This is a great read for women in my stage of life or any similar stage of young adulthood. It's a beautifully designed book and has a bit of a "workbook" style in some sections to help you think through the chapters. I liked her easy and honest writing style but to be honest, the content was similar in vain to some other things I had recently read. Don't get me wrong, it was still helpful and enjoyable read but it wasn't as fresh for me because I had also recently Present Over Perfect and Loving Your Actual Life. My rating:  an easy, helpful read

I am currently in the middle of a few books at once so I need to focus in one them and finish. I get major book ADD when there's so many things I want to be reading! What's your reading style? I can definitely read lots of non-fiction at once, but I guess it's not saying much for my productivity or organizational style is it?! I also always get lots of questions on "finding time to read." I have to say, I really just have to make time like anything else. If I am honest though, if you cut out social media or just "phone scrolling," you can definitely get some books in instead! 

Hope you all have a great Monday and don't blow away out there!

Monday Confessions, February morning

    I woke up to the hustle and bustle of a normal Monday around here, with the exception of the realization that it's my birthday week. I have been all over the place about turning 35 (Hello! It's super, uncomfortably close to 40 right?!!). Some days I am totally fine because it's just a number, but other days I have found myself walking down memory lane wondering just how it has gone this fast?! I was just 30...  It's Monday though, so life goes on and so do my duties! Here goes a few confessions for you...

Shauna Niequist's blueberry crisp was my breakfast of choice!

Shauna Niequist's blueberry crisp was my breakfast of choice!

1.     I had some frozen berries that inspired this berry crisp for breakfast. Plop some greek yogurt on a warm bowl of this and you'll have a heavenly start to your day! I honestly could eat the whole thing myself, but alas, this is not a good idea for 35 year olds :)  This also works as a lighter dessert if you're looking for ideas. (It is considered clean eating too as a bonus) Check out the recipe here on Dinner a Love Story.

2.    I confess I am on my second cup of coffee, but at least the second cup I made was decaf. 

3.    I missed listening to the live stream of IF:Gathering in Austin, TX over the weekend. It's a powerful women's conference full of well known authors and speakers, but that's not all. It's a place for women to be encouraged in their faith and told to live in their own spheres making a difference for Jesus. The messages come not just from those well known people, but every day ladies living for Jesus. Thankfully they are allowing the messages to be streamed through today, so get on a check it out! I had the bluetooth speaker on in my kitchen while doing all my daily duties. I've already been challenged and encouraged while folding clothes and loading the dishwasher!

      I admit that I am often cynical about technology and it's affect on this. Opportunities like this though, make me thankful for all these technological advances! Get on the site and get encouraged today! (Only available through today for free or you can order the digital downloads).

4.   I confess I am thankful for both encouragement and coffee this morning because I am a small business owner in tax season. Can you hear the sigh coming from me? It's no fun, but I try to remind myself that it's a privilege to live in a country where I can own my own business. It's a gift to own a flexible business that allows me to be with my kids daily. So if you find me buried under all these papers and receipts, just remind me of my own words!

5.    How about that super bowl last night?! It was such an exciting game even though I confess I am not a huge NFL watcher. I was rooting for the underdog but those Patriots just kicked it into high gear at the end! I don't even know what to say about Lady Gaga but she sure did put on a show. What do you think? Did you love her performance? 

In a world where you can be a lot of things, lets just try to be kind. That's my goal in life today! A "recent reads" post will be coming on the blog soon as well! Have a fantastic week friends!

Monday Confessions: Comparison Trap

      This is the season where we are supposed to be full of joy, contentment and gratitude for all that we are and have. If I am honest though, I keep finding myself comparing to what others are or have. I know books have been written on this very subject but as today's confessions I am just going to share my heart on this...Being caught in comparison trap is the total opposite of cultivating joy in myself and cheerleading for others (which is what I want to do!). Why is it so EASY to get discouraged when we see others succeeding? Someone else’s successes are not meant to make us feel lesser, but most of the time they do. 

My inner dialogue has lots of things on repeat like “yeah but she still gets to be skinny” or “why can’t I be acknowledged” or a myriad of other comparisons that are meant for me to make myself feel better.  I really don’t feel better though when it’s at someone else’s expense. A lot of us are familiar with the saying, “comparison is the thief of joy.” It sure is! When you start to compare, you easily let your own value and the value of others dwindle. Even today I saw someone get photos published that I was like "why aren't I getting published?" I mean you kind of have to be submitting to get published but these are just minor details right when you're talking to yourself?!  (sarcasm totally intended).

I stumbled across an article that is really worth the full read, but something she wrote really struck me hard. Comparison is a quiet vulture, swooping in to peck its sharp beak at our joy, our camaraderie, and our witness to the world.” Wow, allowing ourselves to compare not only pecks away at our joy, it puts divides between us that were never meant to be there. We can envy people or things from the school car line to the facebook feed. We are only seeing things from our perspective, mind you, and may not even have the full story.

This envy is opposite of what I read this morning, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7  There’s so much here we can pull apart from the truth of God’s word. We aren’t supposed to be walking around comparing ourselves to others, but we are supposed to be rooted and built up in our identity in Christ. God giving another person a gift, is not an affront to ourselves. We must also learn that having a heart of gratitude can quickly stomp out the sparks of envy that start to fly. When we are truly thankful for our own gifts and lives, it helps us to see others in the right perspective. We can even move from jealousy to joy! We can move from comparing to celebrating others! 

“Comparison is folly, and no one wins—or ever has.” We really cannot win at the comparison game,  so we must stop subjecting ourselves to it. When I find envy in my heart or that inner dialogue starts taunting me, I am going to speak truth to myself in this season. I want to fight for my joy and contentment in this time of celebration. What are you doing to cultivate joy this season?

I hope your Thanksgiving week is off to a beautiful start!

(source unknown, not my design, God's words)

(source unknown, not my design, God's words)

Monday Confessions on Tuesday

Hey friends, lateness is my thing this month I guess! I know it's Tuesday but yesterday was the Monday of all Mondays with time change, kids getting off spring break, rough night with an infant, and me kicking off a fresh nutritional plan. I just kept wanting to get my blog up but not getting to it. (Insert me preaching to myself about daily priorities). So here we go...

1. I confess we had a great spring break! It's definitely a lot go work to round up a family of 6 for a few days away but it's worth it for the family time!

We literally had the drive on fishing beach to OURSELVES all day because my kids spring break is earlier than most and we were spoiled with a random 78 degree day in March! Bless us...

We literally had the drive on fishing beach to OURSELVES all day because my kids spring break is earlier than most and we were spoiled with a random 78 degree day in March! Bless us...

Someone loved his first trip to the sand!

Someone loved his first trip to the sand!

This kid not only had his shirt off, he was in the 45 degree ocean multiple TIMES! God love him...

This kid not only had his shirt off, he was in the 45 degree ocean multiple TIMES! God love him...

Their happy place where they might actually play peacefully for a few minutes all together!

Their happy place where they might actually play peacefully for a few minutes all together!

This kid adores the beach and I adore him!

This kid adores the beach and I adore him!

2. I confess that I am writing this with a teething, fussy but cute 7 month old on my lap :) He's chewing on a water bottle my friends because the expensive toys aren't appealing.

3. I confess that I am hungry. I am exploring intermittent fasting and how it affects my system (mama has stubborn baby weight). Trying to just be hungry and not HANGRY (hungry + angry).

4. What I am reading: Taya Kyle's American Wife

5. What I am listening to: The Happy Hour podcast with Jamie Ivey is my new favorite. I know i have a new favorite each week sometimes, but I truly love this gem! It's various topics with all different Christian women ranging from adoption to health to teenage motherhood. It's all women and their stories, their corner of the universe and what God is doing there. I adore it.

6. I confess that I do really just like my coffee with cream and sugar but I am preaching at myself to keep trying the "healthy" stuff in coffee. I have tried cinnamon, coconut oil, almond milk and you name it. So far a little stevia and the almond milk creamer are OK. I am trying friends, I am trying!

Angry baby cutting this short friends, have a great Tuesday!

Monday Confessions, Post-Christmas Perspective

     It's the week between Christmas and the new year. I am on my couch surveying the post-Christmas chaos. I have one kid setting up a lego set, another kid playing with dolls and yet another child that I had to just have a discussion with on thankfulness. So often parenting hits me right where I need to be hit. Giving the "you shouldn't be complaining about what you didn't get and go play with and enjoy what you did get" speech is probably a good thing for all of us. It's easy to look around at what's hard or what's hectic. Instead this season though, I have been challenging myself to choose joy. Choose joy in the chaos or struggles, and trust me we have had them. I literally had a break down and cry moment two weeks ago when it was one thing too many with a sick baby, a car that needed repair and an endless to do list.

    There are things over the past couple weeks that have challenged my perspective. Last Monday I went to the viewing for a friend's mother who was laid to rest far too young from a degenerative disease. One friend just delivered a 34 week baby boy after a very challenging journey to get pregnant and we are all praying for him to come home quickly. Another friend is walking through yet another miscarriage after having been given hope for a healthy pregnancy. It seems unfair. I have a snuggly, chubby baby boy chatting to his animals in his crib right now. It's a gut check. Something about this time of year makes the loss more acute and the joy more sweet. 

   Over the last year I have come to really enjoy and be challenged by the writing of Shauna Niequist. I have deeply been challenged by her thoughts on hospitality and life around the table (more on that another time). I have been enjoying her daily devotional thoughts in her book Savor. On Christmas day I was stopped in my tracks because she perfectly penned what I had been feeling. She writes, "My prayer is that we'll find ourselves drawn closer and closer to the heart of the story, the beautiful, beating heart of it all, that the chaos around us and within us will recede, and the most important things will be clear and lovely at every turn. I pray that we will understand the transforming power that lies in saying no, because it's an act of faith, a tangible demonstration of the belief that you are so much more than what you do. I pray that we'll live with intention, hope, and love in this wild season and in every season, and that the God who loves us will bring new life to our worn-out hearts this year and every year, that we'll live, truly and deeply, in the present, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting for the perfect."

  So as I take stock in 2015 and look forward to 2016, I will be continuing to try to be "present, not perfect" and daily sift through what matters to focus on. I have a huge list of things I wish I had been able to get to more of, like blogging more of my photography work or reading more books but sometimes those things just don't fall to the forefront of what matters that day. I know there are seasons of life and in this one with many little people in my house, one day at a time is my best way to operate. Much love to you all in the new year!

(In case you missed our one family photo from Christmas that was on the iPhone because I reapplied half way to Grandma's house that my "real" camera was still on the kitchen table and we weren't turning back. Two kids are still in PJs, Ben looks thrilled, and who knows what Maxwell was doing...Just gotta' roll with it sometimes...)

Monday Confessions, it's October!

    My dear inter web friends, it's October! Part of me is so happy for this time of year but the other part of me is saying, how on earth can this year be coming to a rapid conclusion?! I love this quote to sum up how I feel a bit....

October also happens to represent a lot of awareness for different groups! So instead of my regular confessions today, I want to make you aware of a group that mean something to me. 

  October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, which is a time to dispel myths about the lives of many living with Down Syndrome. I admittedly did not know much about DS until a few years ago, some of our very best friends had a son born with it. I had other casual friends with kids with DS but I didn't get to spend enough time with them to truly learn. I have learned so much about what this syndrome does mean and what it does not mean through knowing Maddex.

    I don't think I can really roll it all up into one blog post honestly, but I know our little friend Maddex (& his many other friends with DS) have taught our family how to love without reserve. He has shown us that different doesn't at all mean "bad." He has shown us not to underestimate him one bit! He has shown us that perseverance pays off. He has shown us that even if you have to work a little harder for something, you can still achieve it!! 

Here's a photo from the beach this summer with Dex Man waving on the far right...

If you want to learn more about Down Syndrome or give to the cause, the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware is a great place to start! 

Monday Confessions

  We were up and out early with swimming lessons this morning! The twins are getting pretty great in the pool but need to work on form and confidence. Max has a bit of a longer way to go, so we are glad for the opportunity to get in some lessons this summer! So what else do I have to confess today you ask?

1. I confess I am kicking off a challenge in a Piyo group! I am a challenger...being challenged to do this different type of workout to see if it can change my body and push me past the plateau I am living in. It's a combination of yoga, pilates and other moves aimed to get you definition while not stressing your joints. It's a mental shift for a lot of us cardio addicts! So far I am loving it... 

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2. Can I confess to you internet that I struggle to do total clean eating?? It's a goal of mine to stick to this month. I know I am a sugar addict when I let myself be! It's rough, but I am working so hard on trying to eat for nutrition and not for any other reason. Do you need help getting motivating and reaching your fitness goals? You can always reach out to me! emily@emilytroutmanphoto.com If you're already a clean eating freak, what's your favorite recipes?!

3. My kids built bug houses this weekend at the Home Depot kids workshop. We love those workshops if you haven't even been, it's free and fun! The bug houses are a big hit! They've been searching for "pets" all day and finding bugs. It's good to be a kid sometimes :) Who hasn't waited for the fireflies to come out just to catch a few?!

4. We had a great fourth of July. We were sad when our towns parade was canceled but we had lots of fun watching fireworks at night! What's your favorite thing to do on the fourth?

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5. If you're a shutterfly user, they're offering 101 FREE prints now through tomorrow I believe with the code JULY101. I am uploading now! I am trying to be better about getting things off my computer and into real life :)  

6. Any moms out there have good tips on keeping kids clothes organized?! I feel like their closet is a disaster. I have a bin for "too small" and a bin for the winter stuff but it's hard to keep it all straight. I think my issue is confounded with the fact that the boys can almost share a size but they don't share a room. Ever feel like you're just drowning in stuff?! 

7. I confess I am addicted to fresh summer peaches. I can't keep enough of them in the house!! These were my cute summer lunch dates today :)

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8. I have been in a little bit of a book drought. I have a list of suggestions from others so I am just waiting on my holds to come in from the library. I finished a couple books last week but nothing overly inspirational. I am always open to book ideas if you've read something good lately :) Especially with a beach vacation coming in August..I might get to read a thing or two if I am lucky!

9. I confess it's been hard for me to squeeze in the kindergarten prep with the twins. Any moms have fun tricks for keeping fun learning going on in the summer? We've been doing alphabet at the table and different things like that. I guess I just need to motivate myself to motivate them :)

Ok friends, now that you know all my internal struggles, I hope you have a great week :) 

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day from one of the original 13 colonies! I have had the privelege of growing up in Delaware, rich in United States history, both good and bad! If you're not careful you can walk past places with lots of stories to tell, but have no idea that they were important in our nations history. A place I love to photograph is historic New Castle in Delaware, along the Delaware River. Huge efforts have been made to maintain this area as a historic site. It helps that I am a history nerd along with a photographer! 

 

I love the ending of the Declaration of Independence, 

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Do you know what kind of courage and bravery had to accompany these words? I admire the founding fathers and today is a day to remember them. Thankful for the story of this country and a little sad at where it stands today. "Hope springs eternal" though and I believe we can get some things back on track here in the US of A! Happy 4th my friends!