Posted in Storytelling Photography

J* Family | Sullivan County, PA photographer

I loved photographing this family at their home in rural Sullivan County.

Their small country farm with their chickens and easy access to hunting land is my idea of an ideal place to live, since I grew up not far from where they live. 

Before I got there, Mom had one specific request; her daughter wanted a photo of her with her chicken.

It was so much fun to watch the children chase the white and gray rooster to make sure she could have her photo taken with her favorite farm animal.

If you’re interested in a storytelling session similar to this, at your own home, be sure to contact me via my contact tab at the top of the page, or at lisahoweler@gmail.com

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Posted in authentic

Just love her

So often I try to figure my 3-year old out.

Why is she napping today when she slept in late, but yesterday I woke her up early but she didn’t want to nap at all?

Why is she throwing a fit about bath time when normally she loves bath time?

Why has she suddenly decided she’s afraid of the dark when I always turn off lights before bed and she’s been fine?

Why does she now have breakdowns over almost everything- usually related to the fact she wanted to “do it,” whatever “it” was and daddy or I did “it” and now her whole world is burning down in flames.

Then, one day, after a particularly brutal series of breakdowns, a thought popped into my mind out of nowhere: Don’t try to figure her out. Just love her.

It wasn’t a conscious thought. It just suddenly came into the tangle of thoughts I was having at that moment as she fell asleep in my lap. Yes, it felt like God was saying it, reminding me that sometimes I need to stop overthinking, worrying, over analyzing and just live and love.

And lately I’ve needed this reminder when it comes to her, not because I don’t love her or loving her is hard but because I keep trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with her when nothing is wrong with her.

She’s three. Her emotions are jumbled inside her and she hasn’t yet developed the mental capacity to recognize them, handle them or make sense of them.

 

I’ve been so overwhelmed with her behavior lately, and my feeling of inadequacy I’m figuring out what triggers her tantrums I’ve heard myself more than once ask “what is wrong with you?!” as if she can actually answer a question she doesn’t even know the answer to.

Imagine my heartbreak when I heard her say in the midst of a tantrum one day “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Why can’t I calm down?” We were in the bathtub, trying to relax her and her eyes pleaded with me as if I could answer her, explain her out of control feelings. I heard my own voice in hers because her words are something I’ve said so many times before. I’ve asked God out loud what is wrong with me when I am in the midst of a mental crisis because my mind won’t stop racing through all the what ifs or the why mes

It is truly a weakness and problem I have. I over analyze. I mentally dissect issues and situations so much that eventually I have completely lost sight of the actual issue and have spiraled mentally into a hundred different directions and in the process thrown myself into a pit of desperation driven anxiety.

Most often I do this with my own health but also the health of my children, my husband and family members.

And when I’m not over analyzing I am desperately trying to escape my panicked What-if based thoughts through meaningless distractions.

When my toddler asked me “what’s wrong with me?!”

I took her gently by the arms and I looked her in the face.

“There is nothing wrong with you,” I told her, firmly. “You are normal. You’re struggling with how to handle your emotions. That’s all. You’re normal, you’re ok and I love you.”

She stopped crying and let out a big sigh.

“Okay,” she said and I hope she heard me, really heard me.

As for me, I don’t know how many times God will have to tell me nothing is wrong me with, that I’m not broken, that He loves me no matter what before I listen, but I hope I’ll keep hearing and keep listening.

Posted in Storytelling Photography

A little snow must fall. . .eventually | Athens, PA Photographer

You would have thought we had never seen snow before the way Jonathan and I quickly dressed ourselves and the baby and headed outside into the cold.

“Quick! Before it melts!” I called as I buttoned Grace’s new Christmas-styled coat.

With a winter that was featuring temperatures way above normal I knew the day could warm up fast and turn our yard into mud instead of a winter wonderland.

I also knew the forecasts were calling for record breaking warm temperatures for Christmas and we wouldn’t be having a white Christmas, so we’d better enjoy the snowy scene while we could.

I placed Grace in the slushy white snow in the side yard and watched her look down at it with a confused look on her face. She’d been too young last year to really notice the snow but this year I watched her poke her finger in it on the grass, my shoe, her brother’s shoe. She seemed to be genuinely puzzled by the cold substance on the ground.

I’m sure it will be another year before she really enjoys the snow the way her brother does, building snow forts and snow men (though we’ve never actually been able to make a real snow man).

As for when we will get any measurable snow again in Pennsylvania – your guess is as good as mine.

Posted in Days with Gracie, Uncategorized

beauty from ashes |

Isaiah 61:2-4To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.4Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.…

Soft hair brushes against my arm and you sigh in your sleep.

I nuzzle my face against the top of your head and breathe in the scent of you. I smell honey from the shampoo we used to wash mashed pears out of your hair. Your chubby hand has somehow found its’ way into my hair and the strands twist around your fingers, trapping me until you’ve fallen into a deeper sleep.

I love these moments. I love the feel of your soft skin, your warm breath, your heart pounding. I love the feel of your life, a life I never expected but that, like your brother, has changed mine 180 degrees for the better.And here we are, at your first birthday. You’ve been here a year and it may sound cliche but it absolutely feels like it was yesterday.

It was the end of a long day when you decided it was time to come see your brother, dad and I.

By the next morning you were in my arms and it felt like you had always been a part of our life.

Your daddy counted fingers and toes but I never did. I knew you were perfect. I knew you were from God and that’s all that mattered. All I saw were your eyes and they were looking into mine.

You, joined with your brother,  have been the burst of energy, the breeze of freshness this stale, jaded, empty soul needed to remind me that life is still good, that God is still on the throne and that beauty comes from ashes.

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