A Little Catch Up

For the first time in almost 7 years, I let my blogging lapse. It’s been a little over 3 months since I last visited this space or even had a thought to begin writing. I’ve actually enjoyed the break and there might be more in the future. I’ve also found that since starting a personal Instagram account that is separate from my business, I’m sharing a lot more over in that space which has kind of almost replaced blogging. I don’t have the energy to write anything in-depth, so I thought a little bullet point update would suffice.

  • The house. Oh this house! We’ve had a love-hate relationship ever since moving in. The previous owners opted to not clean…ever, so we had a pretty gross situation on our hands after we closed. It took me a solid week of scrubbing + professional cleaners to finally get to a point where I’d walk on the floors barefoot. Immediately upon buying this house, things began breaking: air conditioning, pipes, sewer lines, electrical system, toilets. You name it, it broke. In the midst of that, we decided to do a little updating too. Hey, if you’re already sinking gobs of money into repairs, why not just keep your wallet open and do a few fun things too?! So we installed hardwood floors, solar tubes and redid most of the kitchen. And now we are officially done. Done with updates and hopefully done with repairs. At least for now 🙂

    To be honest, I haven’t been in town enough for this place to feel like home yet. It feels like a wonderful place to lay my head, but it doesn’t feel like home. I hope that changes in the months to come because I really do love it and I’m very thankful to be here, even if it’s only for a few days at a time.

     

  • Bahamas! We went to the Bahamas for a week to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a decade! We had to wait until after closing to make any travel plans so as to not throw off bank account numbers for the underwriting of the loan. So with 3 weeks so spare, we made a last minute decision to go to the Bahamas. We stayed on the island of Great Exuma, which is a smaller and quieter island compared to Nassau or Paradise Island. Our hotel was great, the beach was gorgeous and it was a great way for us to decompress and reconnect. We didn’t do much other than hang at the beach, read, drink pina coladas, golf and enjoy yummy food all week.

    Everyone kept asking us if we were on our honeymoon which always made us laugh. Either we’re aging well or we act like newlyweds…or both! 🙂

     

  • Photography insanity. With fall came 21 weddings and elopements for my company to photograph. They were all over the state so consequently every week I was traveling and running from one place to the next. The leaves here in Colorado are just gorgeous in the fall and I have a lot of out of state clients who travel here to take advantage of the beauty. Our window is pretty small for how long the leaves stick around so I wound up packing in as many weddings as possible. One week we had 8 weddings in 7 days. Bananas. It was beautiful but oh-so exhausting. I’m actually pretty mad at myself for allowing things to get so crazy. I live an intentionally slow life with a lot of breathing room and margin, so to take on this much work is really not my norm. I think it was a combination of needing money for the house, trying to prove that “I’m back” after taking most of last year off due to surgery, and pride. Bad combo. Lesson learned.

     

  • My heart. As life is slowing down, I’m starting to get a handle on my emotions, my heart, the pace of my life and my focus. This has been a hard year with David’s health, coming to terms with life after brain surgery, family problems, selling our dream house, living 8 months in a basement, moving to a new town and a new church. My emotions went wild for a few months, dipping to the lowest of lows as depression returned. David was right there with me for a while at the bottom. We hung out there for many months, looking for hope, looking for reasons to keep going.

    Now that we are in our own space again and the cloud has lifted a little I can feel my heart settling, calming, lifting. It’s tempting to say that I’m “returning to normal” but the thing is, there’s no returning to anything. Things are different now. So much has happened in the last 2 years (err, 7?) to shake up my normal that there’s really nothing left to return to. Now it’s about pressing forward.

  •  School. Fall semester at Denver Seminary started at the end of August, right when the pace of my photography picked up dramatically. At the last second, I switched to an on-line class taught by one of the professors who founded my Christian Formation & Soul care program. I couldn’t pass up learning from him! Studying on-line this semester has been helpful since I just don’t have the time to drive to campus each week but it’s also hard in that you don’t have an opportunity to really interact with people in a classroom. I am looking forward to the rest of the semester because we’re going to make use of some video conferencing and I’ll finally have time to focus.

I guess that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll write sooner than 3 months from now. Or maybe not! We’ll just see how the Spirit moves 🙂

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Wilderness Therapy

Last week just felt haaaard. After the failed spinal tap, I struggled to keep optimism and perspective. I was easily irritated, virtually everything sent me into an emotional tailspin and I just didn’t feel like myself at all. Ugliness abounded.
I had an elopement in Vail on Saturday so we thought we’d turn it into a weekend away and try out a one-night camping trip. Most of the day really didn’t go all that well. We were stuck in 4+ hours worth of traffic to Vail, I was almost late to the wedding and stressed to the max. Once we arrived, the skies opened up during the wedding and I shot for an hour in pouring rain with a grouchy bride who wouldn’t share her umbrella. At the end of it all, we seriously contemplated just turning around and going home. The weather didn’t look promising and we were both so down that the thought of driving 2 more hours and setting up camp in a thunderstorm really didn’t appeal to us. 
I’m not sure what exactly caused us to keep going, but we did. We stopped for fuel and kept heading west instead of east. 90 minutes later we were in the Flat Tops Wilderness and utterly in awe of the beauty that surrounded us. It was then that my perspective started to shift.
Every time life gets too hard, a trip into God’s creation almost always seems to be the remedy for us. The last few months have been some of our hardest months and I haven’t felt physically capable of spending a full weekend away in the mountains, so I knew this trip was going to bring some spiritual healing to my heart. And it did. This was wilderness therapy at its finest!

 


 We spent a while driving around looking for the perfect camp site. We 4x4ed up dirt roads and through aspen trees. This was one of my favorite sites, but someone was already occupying it so we moved on.

Eventually we found a great spot! Well, technically it was a great site but there was a dead chipmunk in our fire ring and we didn’t really feel like cooking dinner over it, so we moved to the next site over, which wasn’t quite as good, but still very good!



Also, I *think* we may have finally resolved our tent drama. YAY! We returned the REI tent we camped with back in February because it flapped in the wind and was too loud and small. We noticed that Marmot had just released a new tent called the Tungsten2P. It’s lightweight, durable, easy to get in and out of, very spacious inside and best of all, no flapping noise like our previous 2 tents! A thunderstorm rolled through at about 3:30am and this tent held up beautifully! We stayed dry and had no issues with the wind at all. We’ll keep testing it out, but I think we finally have a keeper!

 I was really happy that I had a chance to bring my camera, tripod and filters with me on this trip. I spent a lot of time taking photos and immersing myself in our surroundings (while also taking it pretty easy, resting a lot, relaxing and going slow). It felt good to get back into landscape photography a little bit.  I’m really happy with how far I’ve come in learning and technical knowhow with night photography. 6 months ago, I could only really dream of taking photos like these, but each time I practice, I get closer to what I am aiming for.

It was right around this time that I started feeling a sense of peace and calm wash over me. There is something about standing under the stars that can put everything into perspective. The anger, doubt, frustration, irritation, sadness and discouragement began to fade away. I know God has everything all worked out. I know that trials are a part of life and that He will use them for His glory. I know that I still have learning to do when it comes to going through difficulties with a godly perspective. But those truths didn’t really sink in and make sense until I was looking out over this scene. It was like I could hear God whisper “I know it’s been hard, but chin up! I’ve got this Beck, and I will continue to carry you through, regardless of how easy or hard it may be. Calm down. Trust me.” It’s hard to stay mad/sad/discouraged when the Creator of the universe is speaking truth over you. Thank you Jesus!

Sunday we just took it slow. Slept in, drank coffee in the cool mountain air, David fished for a little bit and then we headed up a dirt road to explore. We checked out a cool looking trailhead that I definitely want to hike once I’m back to hiking more. We had a picnic in our hammock and then packed up to head out. We took the long way home, avoiding interstates at all costs. Our drive home took just as long as the interstate, but without people, accidents, motorhomes, tourists and stress. It was calm, beautiful and relaxing.

I am so so so so glad we didn’t turn the car around on Saturday. We both needed this trip so badly and I’m very thankful we stayed the course and went through with it. It definitely made me look forward to even more trips like this in the near future!

Winter Camping

Camping in the winter! That’s a new item I can cross off of my bucket list. We’ve talked about it for years but never actually acted on it…until now! We’ve had unseasonably warm temperatures here lately (except for today…it’s currently a blizzard outside ha!), so when we saw that last friday and saturday night were calling for a lows in the mid-30s (that’s really warm for the mountains in February!) we decided to pulled the trigger and headed for the hills. Crazy, I know.

We loaded up just like any other camping trip, maybe adding an extra set of gloves and an extra sleeping bag. 🙂 Quick drive to RMNP and we were in the campground. They keep one campground on the east side of the park open year round to accommodate crazies like us. 😉 To my surprise, there were actually a decent amount of people up there! Quite a few camp sites were already occupied, which completely floored me. I couldn’t believe there were other wackos who had the same idea as us haha!

We picked a great site that had a great views of Longs Peak and Moraine Park. We had two perfect pine trees for a hammock set up and for sunset watching.

 Our tent. Oh our tent drama. I know that I wrote this glowing review of our new tent last year. Well, truthfully that tent failed us miserably. The rainfly (outer covering which protects the tent from getting wet if it rains) made horrible flapping noises with the slightest breeze. It kept us up every night so we ultimately returned it with heavy hearts. We since got the REI Quarterdome 2(pictured above), which also has rainfly flapping issues. So it will be going to back and our hunt for a new tent will continue. *heavy sigh*

Saturday was full of swinging in the hammock, eating a slow fireside breakfast with coffee, reading, sitting in the sunshine and soaking in the views. I had an elopement to photograph, so we headed over to a different area of the park to take photos for my clients. Unfortunately, since Saturday also happened to be Valentine’s Day, the Park was absolutely packed with lovebirds driving around gawking at all the beauty together. It was pretty tough to find spaces for photos that didn’t include tourists in the background! 
We made it back to camp in time to watch the sunset and start a fire. The sunset was absolutely breathtaking! I was really surprised at how well we slept both nights. I was really afraid that I would just be freezing through the whole night. I had visions of me shivering and wide awake through the entire night, but that really wasn’t the case! My sleeping bag is rated to 20 degrees and I bought a sleeping bag liner that increases the temperature by 15 degrees, bringing the rating to almost 0 degrees. Smart layering and a down jacket added extra warmth and helped ensure a good night’s sleep! I woke up in the morning toasty warm and not cold at all! I’m not sure I’d want to head out when it’s 0 degrees, but it is good to know that we can make it through a really cold night!

 I’m still trying to get the hang of astrophotography. I would LOVE to one day be able to accurately capture the milky way. I spent the better part of an hour our first night trying different settings to get a sharp shot. This was my best try, which I still think is lacking compared to what I know can be done. Oh well, it’s good to have ambitions to strive for when it comes to these nighttime creative endeavors!

 On our second morning, we woke up to a pack of coyotes howling less than 100 yards away. I climbed up on the ridge and saw a group of coyotes circling a huge herd of elk. They were attempting to hunt, which I thought was remarkable because coyotes typically won’t try for elk because of how huge they are. It was amazing to watch the elk react. They grouped together tightly, putting the babies in the middle and the bulls on the outer edge. The coyotes chased them up and down the valley but were ultimately unsuccessful. We sat on the ridge and watched for a while as the sun came up.

As we turned our heads to the west and saw the incoming storm. We decided to pack up and get out before the snow set in. We got out just in the nick of time, the snow descended on the Park just 30 minutes later. But we were happy and warm in our car with hot coffee and a bag full of freshly baked donuts 🙂

Spontaneous Joy

We are fresh off one of our best weekends of the summer!

I’m the least spontaneous person that ever lived. It’s so hard for me to roll with last minute invites, cancellations or quick ideas. I need a solid 24 hours to think about things. So when my friend Jenn sent me a last minute text to come hang out Friday night at their fire pit, it took me a minute to get on board. David and I had both had looong weeks and we were just starting to unwind. Turns out, accepting their invite was a GREAT idea. We relaxed all night (when I say all night, I mean aaaaallll night. We went to bed at 3am haha!) with our sweet friends, talking about life and drinking wine. It was perfect! And can I just say that I love that these friends happen to have 4 children, but are so incredibly faithful to continue reaching out to David and I to build and maintain our friendship. In the midst of us navigating how so many of our friendships seem to have changed recently, these guys most certainly will never sail away from us, and I’m so grateful for them!

Saturday, we were supposed to head to Copper with another couple so we could spent the weekend together. We had reserved a 2 bedroom condo for the weekend so the boys could hike a 14er while the ladies spent the day in Breckenridge. But at the last minute, our friends cancelled on us and we were left wondering what in the world we were going to do. David lost his hiking partner and we were both feeling a bit lost as to what to do. We had already paid to upgrade our condo and there were no refunds, so we decided to just roll with it. It dawned on me that it was my sister and brother in-law’s one year wedding anniversary this weekend, so I thought they might like to escape to the mountains to celebrate. Thankfully, they accepted the invite and we spent an awesome weekend with them!

Sunday, we rolled out of bed and strolled Copper Village. Grabbed coffee and breakfast while soaking in the mountain air and sunshine.

View from our balcony
 Haha, I made my sister and her husband get in this giant chair for an anniversary picture 😉

 While my sister and brother in-law hiked, David and I took the chairlift to the top of the mountain. We wandered into this beautiful field of wildflowers and decided we should probably just sit in the middle of them and soak in the beauty. We didn’t move for a loooong time. Just enjoyed the beauty.

We headed back down the mountain with no clue what our plans were. And then we stumbled upon an awesome concert and so we spent the entire afternoon relaxing on a patio and listening some awesome music in the village. I can honestly say it was the most relaxed I’ve been all summer! David and I both enjoyed it so much, neither of us wanted to leave. Yay for spontaneously enjoying good music!
 
Eventually we had to leave our little slice of free music heaven. Somewhere amid all our fun this weekend, I also managed to photograph a wedding and an elopement, so duty called and we left the concert so I could run around the mountains with my clients. David fished while I worked, so he had a pretty good evening too!
This was where I took bride&groom portraits…crazy beautiful 
Seriously!!! How incredible would this be as the backdrop to your wedding photos?! Hands down, some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken. I’m a lucky girl to get paid to take pretty pictures in places like this! It’s a little bit ridiculous.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend thanks to our ability to throw plans out the window and be spontaneous. Rolling with unexpected punches, while really hard for me to do, often has pretty big payoffs. I loved getting to spend time with my sister and brother in-law and I really loved my time with David. This weekend was proof that I need to try to be more open to last minute changes, because who knows what lies on the other side of saying yes! This weekend was full of joy I didn’t expect, spontaneous, family-filled, laughter-filled, beautiful, amazing joy.

This & That

  • First thing’s first. No birth control for this girl. We talked about it, I prayed about it and I just can’t do it. I kinda want to, for the sake of getting my body under control a little bit. But I just can’t.
  • So I know that I’m a professional photographer and all, so you would expect that I would have some pretty stellar way of keeping track of, organizing, printing and displaying all the pictures we take each year. But you would be wrong. Up until now anyway 🙂 I fiiiinally got a system down for organizing all our pictures and creating albums for each year. It took a lot of time and effort, but I did it! We now have an album of images for each year we’ve been married. It was really fun digging back through all our old pictures and picking out our favorites to include!

     
     

  • We’ve had lots of snow here in CO lately. Just one snow storm after another, and I personally love it. LOVE it. It could snow every single day, all winter long and I’d be a happy camper. It’s so peaceful and quiet……*sigh* I would love snow even more if there were no people involved in snow storms. People make snow storms complicated and stressful. People slide off the roads, people get in car accidents, people fire up their snow blowers at 6:30 am, people run to the grocery store and buy all the food as if they might die of starvation if they don’t buy that 6th bag of Cheetos. People make snow storms kind of annoying. 🙂 This picture was taken the day before the storms started. We took a little 6 mile hike in one of our favorite areas and enjoyed some 50 degree weather.

And this was a few days later 🙂
  • Today was my first day back to school! Eeeeek! As I drove for 2 hours through snow and rush hour traffic, I came up with more than enough excuses to turn around and drive home. But I stayed the course, I made it to campus, I prayed against fear and doubt that had been creeping in my heart and I stepped into class. I found a seat, nervously looked around, took a sip of coffee and opened my notebook. As our professor opened up class in prayer, I almost burst into tears. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude…. for second chances, for the gift of education, for the ability to attend class for the sake of learning and personal growth, for the chance to redeem my first experience in grad school. During our 3 hour lecture, I had the distinct impression that my heart was being healed. Right there, in the classroom. I could feel the rough edges being smoothed, the holes being filled. I devoured every word my professor spoke, I soaked up every powerpoint slide, every question he answered, every commentary he made. It was such a different experience from the first time I took this class. Radically different. Praise Jesus!
  • The Broncos lost the Super Bowl. I’m sad. Let’s move on, shall we?
  • I spent the better part of 8 hours on Friday dealing with image theft, copyright violation, DMCA, Cease&Desist letters and the eventual takedown of another “photographer” who decided it would be a good idea to steal my photos and post them on her website and FB page, pretending it was her work. Let’s just say she picked the wrong photographer to steal from 😉 After multiple attempts to contact her and demand she remove my photos from her website, she eventually called me on the phone to scream at me and accuse me of attempting to ruin her business. She accused me of slander and harassment and all sorts of other stuff. It got a little ugly. By pure coincidence, a few other photographers found out she had stolen their photos too. Before long, the whole situation had blown up on social media and within 12 hours, this girl had received over 300 emails from my fellow comrades demanding she remove the photos and shut her entire business down. And as I write this, my photos have been removed, she has issued an apology and her site has been shut down. Man, I love being a part of such an amazing community of photographers who are willing to fight for each other. There is a lawsuit pending against her, started by a few of the other photographers who she stole from. I don’t think I’ll be getting in the middle of that. I have a low tolerance for drama 😉
  • IF Gathering is this week! Woot! Our gathering is smaller than we were originally planning, but I think it’s for the best. It’s going to allow for lots of time to really dig in, connect, fellowship and learn together. And, there’s going to be Panera and an endless supply of coffee, count me in! 🙂

Devil’s Thumb Ranch

Sometimes as photographers we try to capture other peoples stories and we forget to tell our story. You know your story the best. Your story matters too… ” A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today and it really spoke to me! I was thinking the exact same thing this weekend. David and I were photographing our last big wedding of the year and we spent soooo much time and energy working to tell my our client’s story. It made me wish that we documented our own story of the weekend with as much passion and attention.


Because really, this weekend was really special for me. It signified a huge milestone for my business and I just felt the need to reflect on that. Ever since I started my photography business, I have known about Devil’s Thumb Ranch. I’ve always felt like, if I could just photograph a wedding at DTR, I could die a happy girl. It’s this amazing guest ranch up in the mountains. It’s like a little town within itself. It has restaurants, a coffee shop, spa, a little grocery store, hiking trails, lakes, cabins, fire pits, nightly s’more roasting, library, theater…the list goes on.
And they also happen to be one of the most exclusive wedding venues in the state of Colorado. They put on magnificent events here. The backdrop is jaw-dropping for wedding ceremonies and receptions are amazing, held in a restored barn from the 1800’s. I almost got a wedding there about 3 years ago, but they bride decided to hire another photographer. 😦 So when a lovely bride named Erin emailed me 9 months ago and said she wanted to hire me for her Devil’s Thumb Ranch wedding, I could hardly contain my excitement. Finally!

The wedding day couldn’t have been more amazing. The weather was great, my clients were great, the wedding went smoothly. And afterwards, as I walked out of the barn under an open sky full of stars, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief, thankful that a huge professional goal of mine had just been accomplished. What a blessing!

David and I had the opportunity to spend the entire weekend up there at the ranch. So on Sunday, we woke up early and grabbed some breakfast and coffee and went exploring. We walked all over the grounds of the ranch, hand in hand. It was one of the best mornings I’ve had in a long time. It was so nice to just be all bundled up, sipping coffee, talking about life with my love while enjoying the beauty around us. 

We saw horses and cabins tucked away in the woods. Beautiful lakes reflecting the surrounding mountains, creeks and old run down logging shelters used decades ago. We even got to see a horse drawn wagon pass by. Eventually it started snowing, so we headed back home. But it really was a weekend to remember. My heart is just so full of gratitude. To spend a whole weekend at such an incredible place, I just feel so grateful that I get to do this!

 I definitely want to go back to Devil’s Thumb Ranch! It’s pricey, so it would probably have to be something we do for a special occasion, but it’s on my list of places I want to see again for sure!


Open Blinds

I had a perfect morning today. Curled up in my favorite comfy chair with a mug of hot coffee, I wrote in my journal, read my Bible, listened to the chirping of the birds outside and laughed as my cats obsessively watched them. I closed my eyes and felt the stillness of my home, I prayed and thanked God for his blessings. I felt the warmth of the sun coming in through the open blinds.

I loved how the shadow looked like a cross through the window. I felt like Jesus was saying “good morning!” 🙂

It was a morning with was no rushing around, no running out the door, no fretting about being late, no forgetting my coffee as I hurry to my car, no leaving the blinds closed all day because I don’t have time to open them, no rushed goodbye kisses or forgotten lunches.

Today is my first day back to the life I have grown to love and long for. It’s my first day back to just being a self-employed photographer. It’s a blessing that I took for granted for 4 years and now I have it back. My world feels normal again. I can breathe! I have time to do laundry and go to the gym. I’m going to make dinner tonight without having to worry about answering emails while my pot of water boils. I think after I post this blog, I’ll go read a book in the sunshine on my back patio. I could cry I’m so happy 🙂

I am so very grateful for that 2nd job that I took on almost a year ago. We paid off all my hospital bills with the help of that 2nd job. We paid for 2 IUIs with that 2nd job and even paid for a few home improvement projects too. I believe having that job literally saved my life and it gave me a deep appreciation for self-employment. It renewed my love for my photography business and brought me back to a place where I can truly say that I love what I do for a living.

I hardly have words to describe how I feel today. I feel whole again. I feel happier than I have been in the better part of a year. I feel free. And over all of it is a giant blanket of gratitude that this is my life. This is my life! Lucky me 🙂