We officially became residents of Blacksburg on July 7 of this year. It’s been almost four months since we moved here, and I’ve done a terrible job of journaling the process, sharing some life updates and what Blacksburg is like. Although, because of the nature of our lives in the moment, I can’t promise constant updates, but I’ll finally be sharing images soon from all of the beauty and fun that has happened in front of my camera since we’ve moved… including five weddings that I haven’t shared, a mountaintop elopement, a few engagement sessions, a family session, and some other things that happened in the couple of months before we left.
Until then, I wanted to take you on a tour through our apartment and share a little bit of life with you. So, sit down with me and sip on coffee just as if we were catching up at a coffee shop why don’t you?
In case you didn’t catch the original post about moving to Blacksburg, going back to it here might help give you some insight about where we are, and what we’re doing.
Blacksburg is different from Norfolk, there’s no doubt about that. There’s positives and negatives about the city change that we made, but we’re choosing to embrace the positives. We live right across from campus – I literally mean, right across. We can walk there in a matter of 3.5 minutes, and we’re about 4.5 minutes from downtown… on foot. We have an amazing location for Noah and for what we’re doing through the BCM at VT. We have a top floor apartment in a three floor building that’s located right behind the ministry building, allowing us to be at work in about 45 seconds after shutting our door to leave. Our apartment is small and humble compared to our old house, but as we’ve grown to live in it and love it – it’s brought a unique freedom of knowing we don’t need a ton of things, or space. It also keeps me from acquiring things that I don’t need, and being intentional with how I spend money. It keeps my heart from latching onto new pieces of furniture or things that I think would be “pretty things” to add to the house.
The weather here has been incredible for the most part with significantly less humidity than Norfolk, oh and there are leaves… so many leaves changing and they’re incredibly beautiful. We can see mountains all around us, and there’s an amazing farmer’s market that we love going to on weekends when we’re in town and not traveling to shoot weddings. There are always dogs (Noah loves dogs), lots of food, farm produce, coffee, tea and just so many things to see. Noah has fallen in love with Blacksburg. He loves going on walks, loves walking to Virginia Tech to yell “echo” in the arches that create an echo. A few of Noah’s favorite walking adventures include touring Cassell Coliseum to visit the giant bronze Hokie Bird he affectionately calls “heeky beeb”, walking around lane stadium or throwing acorns down the hill behind it, or traveling to the library that is 1.5 blocks from our house. He’s become a serious extrovert, attaching himself to people that he sees repeatedly and it’s just so precious to watch, especially when those people are my closest friends, family and students. Speaking of, he also loves our students, and it seems like they love him right back. It does so good for my heart to see the two-way love happening.
BCM at VT has been so great. Working on a team in campus ministry has been invaluable. We’ve loved watching the gifting of our teammates, the way things can come together when you have different personality styles coming together and just in general the ability to live life with staff members who have the same heartbeat that you do for ministry. We’ve enjoyed a mentorship from our supervisor and having less responsibility as a whole (no longer in charge of maintaining a building, parking lot, raising mission funds or general funds for the ministry, etc). We’ve been able to really lean into and enjoy writing bible studies with both of our hearts renewed for the word of God. This semester, Scott and I have switched off week-to-week writing bible studies on the book of Jeremiah which has just been overall incredible in general and we’ve been thankful to have been able to dive in so deeply with scripture.
This pregnancy has been pretty similar to Noah’s pregnancy where I was sick for a large part of it. I can’t remember exactly when the nausea stopped for Noah, but finally, at week 26.5/27, I’ve stopped throwing up and have been able to stop taking nausea medication… just about 1 week before my third trimester begins with our precious little boy that will be joining our family in the new year. Pregnancy has been tough, especially with moving and not having a place to call our own home for one of the worst months of it. I tried desperately this time around to make it through without any kind of medication, especially since my insurance is unconventional and we pay out of pocket for prescriptions. However, nothing worked on the nausea, and to keep myself from dehydration, I went to the doctor to get the same medication that worked for me last pregnancy. As long as I was faithful to medication, it largely worked and I could resume life, even though it was very tiring.
Without an official room for this baby or a place to start putting things together for him, it’s been a weird preparation process. It’s mostly mental, mostly savoring my last moments with Noah as my only child, and excitement as I begin to think about what it means that our family is growing by a whole human being. Babies are hard to view as blossoming and contributing family members for the first year of their life because personality and development takes awhile. Seeing Noah and how he’s developed has really made me excited for what another person could be like, and what our second son will contribute to our family. I can’t imagine having more fun and laughing more than we do now – but I’m sure another little crazy boy will enhance the love, laughter and fun that we have. As for now, we’re planning on sleeping him wherever we can make room (our room, the dining room, really… wherever he fits) until Noah can regularly sleep through the night without crying and until baby #2 can sleep through the night without crying. We might end up not being able to wait on either of those, but we’ll see.
As for photography… this is where a little shock may come into play. I’ve enjoyed the weddings I’ve photographed this semester, and am seriously convinced that I work with the best human beings on the planet. My couples are just all so great, and they trust and believe in me. I’ve served some of the kindest people this semester and it just makes me realize how much more that I love the service part of what I do. The service and artistic pieces of my job are my absolute favorite. However, I would be lying if I said photography was going smoothly or was easy.
Over the past few years, photography has been a blast, but has also been difficult on our family life. Traveling on the weekends to photograph weddings isn’t a huge deal when you don’t have small children. However, last year and this year have been very difficult for Scott and I as we have had to pack up our family on most weekends to land somewhere to photograph a wedding. The costs of babysitting, airbnbs (Noah doesn’t sleep very well and needs his own space), and gas has lowered the profit margin from my business while also adding stress and difficulty to our family as we try to also pursue other things that are meaningful or that we love (like Scott’s seminary and our calling in ministry).
That, alongside of some of the difficulties of being a business owner and our move to Blacksburg has landed us in making the decision that I will be temporarily (for now) stepping back from taking on a full wedding season. That means that I am accepting 5 or less weddings for 2018. Those weddings will also only be within a 1-2 hour radius from Blacksburg so that I won’t have to worry about traveling very far from a small baby and my needy toddler. While this was a very difficult and hard emotional decision for me, I stand by believing that is is the best thing for my family, myself and my faith. I still still be taking on local family sessions, portraits, seniors, anniversaries, babies and anyone else that wants a portrait session, I will keep myself at 5 weddings in the area, which means there is only one spot left for 2018.
We’re still not sure what this means for 2019, or how this will play out in 2018, but I’m sure that I’ll update you as soon as I know and as we navigate through this as a family. Ministry at VT, my marriage and motherhood will be my primary focus in 2018. I’ll still write here on the blog from time-to-time and share some of my latest work on Facebook, the blog and Instagram in order to keep up my love of what I do. I’ve been so grateful for the support of the years, and will just need your support in a very different way as we discontinue seeing this business as a primary income source/primary occupation for myself and begin walking through it as a small supplemental income source on the side.
I hope that my industry and photography friends don’t pity me while reading this, or even see this as a failure on my part. I don’t pity me, in fact, I am finding more joy in life currently than I have in the past two years. I’ve found more clarity, more honesty of soul and more authenticity. I no longer believe that business owner life as a full-time job is a good fit for me, but am thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned along the way. I also feel like our family is entering a new chapter, if you will, in our lives and I think that stepping back from a full wedding season every year will really allow us (especially Scott) to live out our calling in ministry. If you want to hear more about what we’re doing at VT, or even interested in financially supporting us or receiving newsletters, I’d love to hear from you.
Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you back on here as I share the work from this fall and my heart as we await for our second son to arrive in late January.