If I’m being honest, my temptation this year was to skip my yearly recap. Bury all of the hurts, struggles, droughts, disappointments, hardships that the year brought…bury them deep away in my heart where no one could see them again and then run as hard and as fast away from 2014 as I could.
That’s what the devil wants me to do, see.
He knew the state of my heart prior to me sitting down at my desk two nights ago to take a look back on this past year. And he was preying on it…knowing full well that if he could get me to just push all of it down deep inside, that I would step into 2015 with a heavy, heavy heart. And see, I just can’t bear the thought of that. As I move into 2015, I am desperate for a light heart…one that can only come from The Lord. To get there, I knew I needed to take a good look back to make some peace, fight for joy yet again and find some final meaning and purpose in everything that went down this year.
This year, to recap, I’ve focused my attention onto three main takeaways: what I have learned in these past 12 months; how I have grown; truths that stuck with me. I firmly believe that nothing in our lives is ever wasted and that God works all things together for good.
* Photo above by MorningWild Photography
1. Some of God’s Greatest Blessings Come From Great Inconvenience. If you’ve been following along here or on Instagram, you might know that we lost our beloved dog, Frank, to heart disease a couple months ago. He died in my arms at home and it completely shattered my heart. In fact, I am sometimes still brought to tears when I talk about him or look at pictures of him with our family. We found him in 2009 on the side of the road and tried so hard to get him adopted, as we already had two dogs in a small home and a baby on the way. After a few months of trying, we gave in and decided to keep him. He was an extra mouth to feed, he shed A TON and he cost us a lot of money from his heartworm treatments, his intestinal surgery from eating a toy and his pricey medications as he ailed. Taking him in and caring for him for the five years that we had him was quite inconvenient. Yes, it was. But love wins. Love wins 100x over. He loved us so well while we had him with us. Knowing the inconvenience he would bring as he lived and the heartache that would ensue when he died…I would pick up that oaf on the side of the road again in a heartbeat.
2. Purpose > Pretty. I like pretty things. I do. I like to photograph them and I won’t apologize for it. But, I like photographing people and things that bring great meaning and purpose more. Love. Joy. Hope. Healing. Relief. Awe. Redemption. Elation. Appreciation. These are the things that make me feel alive and fire me up when I am behind a camera. So much more than the peonies and the perfect shade of peach and the perfectly placed wedding gown.
About a month ago I received the following note from a woman that I photographed with her young daughter earlier this year:
“Dear Cheyenne and Geoff,
I hesitated at first, doing a photo shoot of “just” the two of us. We have been going through a divorce this year. I was worried that the empty space where he used to be would be palpable. That it would hurt, solidifying our status as a family of two in pictures. What you gave me was much more than just beautiful images. You gave me hope. A feeling that we still count as a family. That “just” us is enough. You captured the love between us. And for that, I am forever grateful.”
Yes, yes, yes. 100x yes. More of this in 2015…so much more.
3. True Rest Comes From The Lord…Not My Feather Bed. There’s a limit to how much comfort and help that the lovely things in life can bring me. A cup of hot tea in my favorite chipped coffee mug. Fresh flowers and cool breezes. Sleeping in on top of my feather bed duvet. An quiet afternoon filled with coffee, chocolate and a good book. No doubt, all of these things can aide in lightening my mood….but only temporarily; only at surface level. To find true rest, true healing, true comfort….through the fight of exhaustion, grief, anxiety, unknown, stress, sickness this year…it could only be found through The Lord. I can’t even count how many times this year that I collapsed at His feet full of despair and desperation. Most often, He filled me up and set me back on my feet to keep walking…to keep fighting. And sometimes, when I had no fight left in me…none at all…I took comfort in knowing that my God was fighting for me and on my behalf. I could rest in knowing that His promises are real and true and that He knew what He was doing; He was in control.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28.
In the process of reflecting for this recap, I was pleasantly surprised to see how little of my piece of paper that my challenges took up in comparison to my successes, which were nearly spilling off the sides. Yes, in the moment, those hardships felt big….even all consuming at times. But I have countless memories of happy times and things to be utterly grateful for. This year went a lot better than I thought it did from first glance. I would be remiss to not record our highlights from our family and business in this space.
+ Post-dinner dance parties with a 4 year old and almost 2 year old.
+ Thursday night couch times watching Parenthood with Geoff and a bowl of chili.
+ So many Frank hugs.
+ Laughing harder than I ever have before with Boone as he unexpectedly blew a raspberry on my neck as I was putting him to bed. We were both in hysterics.
+ Pouring my heart out, crying, laughing, sleeping, eating and resting at Faith Retreat 2014.
+ Pigtails. She has hair long enough for pigtails. Best.
+ Sounds of shrieking and laughter from a front yard leaf fight.
+ Having women in my life to laugh with, be vulnerable with without fear of judgement, raise my kids alongside and reach out to in times of desperation that pray with and for me.
+ Dressing our toddler daughter up as an undercover pet detective for Halloween.
+ Boone yelling, “Merry Christmas!” out the car window while driving through McAdenville to see the lights at Christmastime.
+ Crew learning to pray, “Dear God……pray……Boone….Mama…Daddy…..Jazzy….Ellen……………………..Amen.”
+ All of the travel! Seeing my baby girl experience the ocean for the first time at Myrtle Beach. Celebrating Geoff’s 31st year of life and 7 years of marriage at our favorite spa – The Grove Park Inn in Asheville (y’all…so good). Laughing until my stomach hurt playing catchphrase on vacation with friends in Banner Elk. Hangout time at our favorite coffee place in Savannah. Hauling all three dogs and 2 kids in one car for a weekend away at Rocky Creek Ranch.
+ SO many laughs, hugs, kisses, cuddles, loves.
* Photo above by Paige Jones Photography
+ Launched our rebrand.
+ Photographed 13 weddings, 21 portrait sessions, 24 mini sessions, 3 live births and a fashion feature for Charlotte Wedding Magazine.
+ Mentored 5 photographers.
+ Had speaking engagements at AIGA (“The Client Experience”), Wedding Photographic Society Roots Workshop (“Branding and The Client Experience”), Elevation Fourward (“A New Brand Built On Purpose”), Cultivate Retreat (“The Journey Through the Drought”) and Appalachian State University (Issues of Contemporary Photography class).
+ Shot film
+ Had our work published in The NC Knot Magazine, The GA Knot Magazine, Carolina Bride Book, Carolina Bride Magazine, Charlotte Wedding Magazine and featured on the Style Me Pretty Blog, Inspired By This Blog, Oh So Beautiful Paper Blog, Weddings Unveiled Blog, Carats & Cake Blog, The Lovely Find Blog, Town & Country Blog and Ever Ours Blog
+ Cultivated genuine relationships with existing and new photography and industry friends.
+ Further developed our editing style.
+ Hired a studio manager and new CPA.
And there you have it. 2014.
I’m hopeful that 2015 will be a great year…a banner year. With that said, I am much more interested in continued heart change than I am circumstance change. While I certainly am not wishing for hardship, I have open hands, a light heart and am ready for whatever the Lord may bring in the coming year.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” – Isaiah 43:2
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