Blauwkamp | Family

The perfect day for photos. But what was even better was this sweet girl, Eisley. She is such a funny girl! A joyful, happy spirit, not to mention, adorable. The family dynamic here was so much fun!

Take a peak at their session below and leave them some love in the comments.

The Hilgendorfs | Family

This was a gorgeous day and perfect for this sweet family. Also, I adore this family, and their children are seriously so cute. You can check out their session below and leave some love in the comments!

Sean + Lauren | Wedding

It was a beautiful day in May, which was a miracle for Michigan. You just never know what you're gonna get here. But it was warm and sunny. It matched the smile the bride wore all day. 

There were so many aspects of this day that I loved. The details in decorating, for instance, you'll notice the vases. Gorgeous on their own but the symbol on these vases was special, it's the symbol for double happiness. The brides gown was another detail I loved. They also have a family tradition where the bride and groom cuts the cake but someone else must remove the knife. I thought this was an incredible way to honor their grandma and family.

Sean and Lauren have been together for a long time. Their relationship has already given them time and opportunities to choose happiness and love. Now they have the rest of their lives to continue learning how to love each other. I wish them all the best in their journey and many years filled with happiness.

Have a peak at their special day below. You can look at their amazing engagement session, here.

Lena | One Year

This sweet girl came into my studio a little shy but by the end we had the balls out and she was having a good time! I absolutely adore her. She's so stinking cute. But don't let me just tell you about it, check her session out for yourself.

Feel free to leave some love below! If you're interested in a session for your family or your child, contact me here. I would love to chat with you!

The McMeeken's | Family

I just adore this family. I've been photographing them for years now and every time is more fun than the last time. And wouldn't you know it, but the weather opened up on the day we needed to shoot and gave us some sunshine!

Have a look at their November in Michigan session below.

Jeff + Natasha | Married

They are stationed in Alaska in the Air Force and they're in love. You can see it in the photos and I could see it the day I photographed their wedding.

Natasha contacted me the beginning of September with their plans for a small wedding. I had no idea it would be such a fun day! They are so playful together and they share an amazing amount of joy. And honestly, is this not THE best first look, ever?!  A lego cake topper and Dalek bow ties, bow ties are cool. It's the little things. 

Have a glance at their special day and leave them some love below!

The Legacy Project | The Stancato's

They were married on August 1, 2009. They enjoyed several years of marriage before they decided it was time to expand their family. But, as we already know, it doesn't always happen the way we plan it.

For three years they battled infertility. They started how everyone starts and realized it wasn't working. They reached out for help after awhile of no results and tried several methods of fertility treatments, again with no results. They were frustrated. Of course they were frustrated. Who wouldn't be? This journey is one of the most difficult (in my opinion) because there is no closure and you can't control the outcome, no matter how hard you try.

When they weren't getting the results they'd hoped for they reached out to a pastor to talk and receive some encouragement. The pastor told them to just relax and take the pressure off of themselves. This can be easier said than done and is often something said to couples going through this journey. This journey is a battle, and as Lindsay and Tony said to me, "There were times when we held on to the smallest sliver of hope." But that's what keeps us going, you know? Those slivers of hope.

They chose to do their best to relax, and at this time, when their hope seemed to be at it's lowest, they found a book that seemed to fill them back up. It's called The Circle Maker. They say the book increased their faith tremendously and showed them what God was truly capable of and to really live a life of prayer and faith. They started searching the Bible and circling the promises in the Bible that God had made, they started praying specifically for what they hoped for, twin babies, and a house filled with joy and laughter of children.

After they started praying these prayers and really focusing on God, they had a peace about going through IVF (in vitro fertilization). They figured the appointments would take awhile to schedule but they were able to get right in. It took one round of IVF and they were pregnant. Pregnant with twins. They cried tears of joy the day they found out, and they prayed and thanked God for answering their prayers. Lindsay and Tony said of the experience, "We were in awe of God's amazing power and his love for us."

When I asked Tony what was the most difficult part of this journey for him, he replied, "Watching Lindsay go through this." Oh, those husbands, the protectors. I can't express this enough. Husbands that love their wives so much that they hurt for them when they go through pain. It's sincerely beautiful.

Tony and Lindsay have offered this encouragement to anyone going through a trying time, "If you are going through difficulties, we encourage you to find your sliver of hope and hold on to it. God's plans for you are far greater than your own. Often times it's on the other side of our greatest challenges that you find your biggest blessing."

 

The Legacy Project | The Zondervan's Story

September 7, 2001 they eloped and got married. He was in the military and they were in love.

He was stationed in San Diego, CA. They knew going into their marriage that Melinda had PCOS and so there was likely going to be a challenge building their family. They decided to enjoy a year of their marriage before jumping right into fertility treatments. Even though they decided to start with the treatments immediately, they still went through two years and a miscarriage while on the military base.

Melinda told me, "The miscarriage was bittersweet. On the one hand, you see that you can get pregnant, but there's the fear that you'll have a miscarriage every time after that."

They both recounted seeing the heartbeat and how sweet that was, but the hope that they carried was dashed with the loss. In 2004, Patrick was out of the military and they moved to Grand Rapids. Within four months of moving to GR they went to a fertility clinic to restart treatments.

The doctor looked at their chart and informed them that since they had been doing injections every month for two years and it hadn't been successful in producing a living child, they would be looking at the same results, most likely. They decided to try IVF at this time.

During this round of IVF they successfully fertilized enough embryos and they had two successful pregnancies, Isaac and Malia, and one miscarriage. They had always dreamed of big family but the heartache of loss and the thought of going through IVF again was too much. So they decided they were happy with their two children.

However, they thought they would talk to a doctor one more time and just see if they thought hormone injections would work again. At these appointments they do blood work as one of the first steps and they discovered that Melinda was pregnant. Laina, their 3rd child was conceived naturally. They also naturally conceived their 4th child, Cora.

When I asked Melinda what was the hardest part of this journey, she responded and told me, "The gut wrenching pain of disappointment every month." She also told me that she reached a point where she was evaluating if she even wanted to try anymore. The need to protect yourself and your emotions is strong and can certainly overtake you. It can be easy to box ourselves in and harden up to the life happening around us when we're in the thick of it.

Another difficult part of going through this journey were the things that people said during the journey. Well meaning people but when they don't know or don't understand, it has a way of hurting. For Patrick and Melinda, it was things like, "do you not like kids?" Well, the answer was that they did love children, but having their own wasn't an easy thing to do.

I think for all of us, perhaps we could be more sensitive to each other since we don't know the details of everyone's story. I've found myself more sensitive and I don't ask questions that caused me pain or I do my best to preface those questions if I feel they're potentially sensitive. I know that we all have difficult things in the journey of being human that someone else doesn't understand. And I wonder if we slowed down a bit and took the time to see and hear our friends, family, neighbor, perhaps we could love them a little better. Maybe it would allow us to know them a little better, too. And then maybe we would be more sensitive to the possible things causing pain in our lives. I think this is part of a healthy community.

Patrick said that the most difficult thing for him as the husband and protector was watching his wife be in pain. This is so true for every husband I've spoken to about this topic. This speaks volumes to me! Husband's are the protectors of their wives and they love them so well. 

After chatting with Patrick and Melinda, we all came to the conclusion that you should really open up about your battle with at least one person. Keeping this top secret forces you to shoulder the pain on your own, but as Melinda says, "Let people support you." As they say, "It takes a village..." Don't do it on your own.

Patrick and Melinda are enjoying this time seeing their children grow up now. Seeing their personalities come out and seeing the world through the eyes of their kids. It makes the battle worth fighting.