The Picture of Happiness – Mornings

It’s The Picture of Happiness Month!

Today’s guest is photographer Jenni Lillie, she says:

This photograph is called Joy in the Morning. When there are difficult times in our lives and the darkness seems like it will overtake us, the sun comes back up and at some point there is joy again. Flowers make me happy.

Mornings + flowers = happiness for photographer Jenni Lillie

Mornings + flowers = happiness for photographer Jenni Lillie

Jenni is a wife, mom, photographer and art lover. To check out more of her work, check out her website.

Jenni is a wife, mom, photographer and art lover. To check out more of her work, check out her website.

Seasons of Motherhood

Welcome to Moms’ Month on Dr. Stephanie! This month I will be featuring guest posts from some awesome moms around the country.  They will be sharing tips, tricks, and funny stories about motherhood.  This will be a fun celebration – thanks for joining us!  Today’s author is Megan Schimmelpfennig.  Welcome, Megan!

Photo: Awaken Photography

Hi!  I’m Megan Schimmelpfennig, the lucky wife of Sam, and blessed mom of three children ages 6, almost 3 and 1!  I’m also the founder and owner of my online children’s boutique, Trendy Tots ~n~ Polka Dots.

The definition of motherhood has changed significantly for me over the last two years.  This change started with our move from Arizona to Colorado, and having to leave my job as an advertising account manager in the corporate world for nearly six years.  A week after arriving in Colorado, we were thrilled with the news baby #3 was on the way, and little did I know, I was about to enter a new ‘season’ of being a full-time, stay at home mom.  I feel very fortunate to be able to stay at home with my children, but I’ll be honest, it’s been quite a transition.  Going from striving to meeting and exceeding sales goals and receiving awards for doing so, to striving just to get laundry done, the house picked up and little mouths fed numerous times a day has been no easy feat!  Needless to say, success has a whole new meaning for me.  Some days I feel like the ring leader of a three-ring circus and other days I feel like I’m up on the tight rope trying to balance it all.

By having the awesome experience of being part of a MOPS Group (Mothers of Preschoolers) since moving to CO, I have not only strengthened my relationship with God, but He has made it quite clear this is the season I’m meant to be in, right now, and I couldn’t be happier or more content.  With all the ups, downs, frustrations, challenges and some days very little praise or acknowledgement, I’ve realized I don’t need awards to prove I’m accomplishing great things.  I’m fulfilled when I see my children be kind and loving to each other and make good choices in difficult situations.  When they look at me with their big blue eyes, tears streaming down their cheeks, and they look to me for consolation and I’m here for them.  Being able to impact my children every day brings me immeasurable joy.  I’ve grown to be a more patient mom, cherishing even the time-outs and lessons learned, as I know this season will pass all too quickly.  I look at my patio door and so many times think, “I love those little handprints.  Some day they won’t be there and I will give anything to see them and have a noisy house again.”  During this season, I’ve learned to focus on what’s really important.  I know that for all of us our time is so limited with all that we have to do and the places we need to be, but at the end of the day, it all shakes down to priorities.  Our children are quick to make note of our priorities as well.

One of the things I love about motherhood is God created us all to be unique moms just like our children are unique!  And just as we shouldn’t compare our children to other children, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other moms.  We set high standards for ourselves as moms and seek approval from other human beings.  We sometimes feel like the biggest compliment we could receive is to be told that we are a wonderful mother.  It’s nice to hear, but I don’t believe it validates anything.  Why?  Because we only need to be the mother that God created each of us to be.  That looks different for all of us.  At the beginning of everyday, my goal is to be the mom God has meant for me to be and raise my children to be the person that God created each of them to be!  I find when I keep feeding my soul with His word and listening to His voice, I’m on the right track in sticking with His plan.  I’m thankful motherhood is not a destination, because we would miss so many blessings along this journey.  And through this journey, God gives us His grace when we make mistakes.  He wouldn’t create us to be mothers without leading and guiding us and being our constant mentor.  What a comforting thought!  My wish for all moms is to live in the present moment of the season you are in.  And remember, the days go by slowly, but the years pass quickly and before we know it, this precious season is over.

Do You Compare Yourself to Other Women?

Welcome to Moms’ Month on Dr. Stephanie! This month I will be featuring guest posts from some awesome moms around the country.  They will be sharing tips, tricks, and funny stories about motherhood.  This will be a fun celebration – thanks for joining us!  Today’s author is Jenni Lillie.  Welcome, Jenni!

I’m a wife of a fun and energetic husband. I’m a mom of 4. 2 of those children I’ve had the privilege of holding and watch grow. My passion is photography and I love that I get to do it professionally. I love a good party, but need to refuel by being alone. I’m a great sleeper when I get the chance. I think I could win prizes if there were contests. I love it when I’m organized, but that feels like a challenge to get to that place. I love living in Colorado and seeing the mountains and beautiful sunsets from our windows.

I’ve been pondering this phrase for a week or so…there is no win in comparison. The past couple of weeks I’ve listened to a few talks by a man named Andy Stanley about comparison. They have really stretched me to look at some areas of my life where I compare myself to others. Motherhood and my business are areas where it is tempting for me to compare myself. I sometimes feel envious of other moms and fear I’m screwing up my kids. My husband and I joke that we need to start a counseling fund alongside the college fund.

Being a mom is one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. I fight the feelings of failure and discouragement in my mothering everyday.  Anybody else? Maybe it’s just me. I desire to be a mom who lovingly parents out of who I am and who my kids are. I feel icky when I jump in the comparison pool. I want to be a woman who encourages the kids and moms around me, and not makes comparisons. I also desire to look at the children and moms around me and celebrate their uniqueness and differences. I really want to grow in this. Anybody else?

CREATE Mental Health Week – Photography

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Jenni Lillie. Jenni is the owner of Awaken Photography, which specializes in wedding and family photography.  Welcome, Jenni!

Cut the “CHEESE!”

Photographing kids can be very fun, unpredictable and stressful. When I photograph a family, I can tell right away how their family takes pictures. A lot of times as soon as I point the camera at them they will look at me with a cheesy, fake grin. Sometimes the kids will even yell “cheese,” a prompting born out of repetitive habits and norms.

But there’s a different option out there. If you are tired of the “cheese” smile my suggestion is to “cut the cheese.” Just don’t say it anymore. If you want more natural-looking photos of your kids, do the opposite–don’t demand they look at the camera at all. Follow them around, observe, and snap away. Photograph the details of their day or their lives. Do they have a special blanket, toy or sport? Let them play and get photos of them being themselves. Those will be the memories and moments you cherish.

Finally, it will be more enjoyable and fun for everyone involved to not force the photo to happen a certain way. Removing our expectations frees us to just capture them naturally. There’s always a place for posed photos, so I wouldn’t discard them completely. And when that time comes, get your kids laughing and snap the genuine smiles they have and not the toothy “cheese” grin you may be used to.