my pool of bethesda

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I am crazy for this blog of mine! It has evolved into a series of open letters to my powerful girls. This space will forever be for my heart, and all are welcome.

Today’s letter is addressed to both of my babies.

AnnieKate!

While you were sleeping I had a powerful experience reading a story in John, and I could hardly wait to share.

One day Jesus found himself beside the pool of Bethesda. Many congregated here because they believed it possessed healing qualities — when the water bubbled, whoever was first in the pool was healed!

Jesus addressed a man who had been unable to walk for 38 years! I imagine the man spent much of his time watching everyone else be healed. Jesus asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?”

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The man, not recognizing the Savior, answered, “Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.”

Lights seemed to turn on in my head and their short conversation struck me! This interaction became a lesson on Introspection, Trust, No More Excuses, and always, Faith in Christ.

The man told himself: “I would be made whole, but I can’t.” In other words: I can't walk. I move slowly. Everyone beats me. I've already tried it and when I try I fail. I have made multiple attempts and they did not work.”

Without hesitation Christ says, “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”

The man packed up his bed and walked away! But was he free of every problem every day after?! Nope! Was he "whole" right away?! Nope!

But he could walk!

My lesson from the pool of Bethesda was: no excuses; keep a steady closeness to the Savior, no matter how weak, unfit or unable I feel. He will do the rest.

Girls, in your attempts to “dream big and after you’ve done that dream bigger,” will you kick perfectionism and quick results to the curb?!

In seeking Him who makes you whole, your first miracle might be “getting your legs back.” But others will follow! You may witness one at a time, but over the course of your life - miracle by miracle - He will enlighten your mind and soften your heart, helping you become exactly who you were born to be. And He will do it because He loves you, because He is perfect.

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Sometimes our invitations to “be made whole,” come via another’s voice, and they can be hard to recognize. Your mind might play tricks on you and say, "Well, actually there's this thing I have...it’s hard...and that thing...then this other thing happens...and no one is helping me.... But, yes! When I clear this all up then I will come and ‘be made whole!’"

If you will instead say,

"Yes, I’ll choose faith to be made whole. I will take the smallest possible step toward healing. And when I try and it doesn't seem to work I'm going to try again! And no matter how many times I fall I will not stay there! I know the Savior’s way fills me with happiness that spans the eternities, so I'm going to keep trying so He can mold me into exactly who I want to become,"

you will never be wrong.

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It does not matter how many detours you take, how many times you slip up or fall down,

it is in your turning toward Him, again and again and again, that He makes you whole.

That is saving grace.

One word of caution: beware the differences between shame and guilt! Guilt feels like: I made a mistake but when I say “I’m sorry” I am filled with confidence, unity, happiness — I am healed. Shame feels like: I am bad. I have made too many mistakes, there is no going back. I am not worthy of love, blessings or forgiveness.

Shame lies. And shame never comes from God.

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For now you live in an imperfect world and you will lose your footing. When that happens, hear Christ at the Pool of Bethesda saying to you, “Annie/Kate, Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” He is always helping you, one miracle at a time, even when you don’t see them right away — Bethesda does mean house of mercy or house of grace after all.

Never give up on yourself, your faith, your God. He knows exactly how you feel, all of the time, and He will pick you up as many times as you need.

I love you with all of me.

He loves you always.

Mama

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If someone comes to your mind as you read these posts please feel free to share them. I would love for anyone who needs this to find it.

To subscribe to future blog posts click here.

SEATTLE: I’m coming back in June when the babies are born!!

UTAH: I’ll be there in May.

This is where you book your very own snuggle sesh/hang out/photoshoot!

Click here to ask any questions in the world (though I may only have answers for .00000001% of them ;)), or to share your thoughts with me. I listen better than I talk and I would love to hear your heart!

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(Side note on this Sister Pic my dreams are made of: my girls have been wearing their hand-me-downs for years!!)

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xo, Christina

Portra 400

Ilford Delta 3200

Pentax 645nii

Canon 1V

The sun

A family who says yes to it all, smiling the whole time

Goodman Film Lab

"you were the healer"

There are not many words to describe the way things are transpiring around here - we are mostly trying hard to follow our feelings.

I believe in that practice fiercely: following tender impressions.

But it can be scary because it means I take a step into the dark, or begin at zero, or…who knows what else?! Sometimes it feels like I’ll fall into a dark pit and a monster will eat me! On the other side of softening and submitting, of listening, is an elaborate pile of unknowns!

Sometimes what we cannot see feels like darkness. But that’s only because we haven’t given time the opportunity to shed light on it yet! Who knows but all your favorite colors are up ahead on high beams, shining blinding light you cannot see only because you haven’t stepped into it yet?!!

A month or so ago Annie was bouncing all over “Pa” (my dad) and I asked, “Dad, was I like that when I was little? Was I exactly like her?” (Because in my mind she and I are (mostly) exactly the same…)

My dad responded, “You were always taking care of people; you were the healer.”

In that instant he vocalized (and I learned!) my heart’s greatest desire! All I want is to be an instrument that is used to fill people with light and confidence.

When I die, I want to know I followed every impression, left nothing on the table, left no one behind, reached everyone I was sent to reach, on this, my personal journey through mortality.

I want to be an instrument in the hands of Light.

Here is where our recent changes come into play:

First, we do not have more answers than we do! We ride on faith daily for guidance and assistance. We practice asking, waiting, thinking, working through scenarios, praying, and waiting some more. We listen to the tiny impressions, thoughts, and feelings that come. And we receive answers.

****If you have questions, find a quiet place to pray, to talk, to converse and commune with heaven. Be open about all of your worries, your plans, your thoughts, your goalsdreamshopesfearswishes everything!!!

Then write down your impressions and thoughts and feelings.

Your answers will come, I promise! We are living it and it’s true.

Second, we had a plan, but then something unexpected (a miracle!) occurred so I need to wait for that to work itself out before I start blabbing anymore about plan details ;)

Third, we are moving eventually, so my blog and brand will change, but the idea has become sweet to me! I am ecstatic to evolve with everything this business and I become together.

Next, photography has been a spiritual journey and I want to be true to that.

So,

I feel “brightness” in announcing that my blog will mostly be composed of my spiritual thoughts, stories, experiences, and prayers, including specific things I learn from study. I will be sharing openly my thoughts about my life and what comes of the impressions I follow.

Ultimately, I want to share light - in all its forms. I get to do that through pictures and (very lacking) words (encompassed in big feelings.)

I want you to know you can find answers and help and guidance from Heaven!

I want you to be filled with light and confidence.

If you are aching, I want you to feel love, compassion, mercy, grace, and healing.

I hope you find those things here.

All my love, forever,

Christina

TRAVEL SHOOTS are about to begin around the bend of the new year! Contact me to book your DREAM shoot (I’m serious. Even your husband will say, “that was fun!!”

Bay Area! Nor Cal. Everywhere in CA. Everywhere period :) also SEATTLE, I’ll be back in March! East coast, NYC, North Carolina!! “Dream big and after you’ve done that, dream bigger” 🥰Howard Schultz -Starbucks CEO

to chase the light

These images come from the most sacred photoshoot in which I have ever participated.

An evening of remembering, of leaving some things behind to cling to others,

of grieving and healing, of waves that ebb and flow like tears, like laughter, like sorrow.

Conversations, time, and embraces with this family have forever changed me.

In moments of engulfing darkness they choose - and over again - a fight for light

almost at the cost of life.

I learn what it truly means to chase the light.

gone home, too

I am shooting more and more families like this one, who traveled from all over the states to Newport Beach for a family vacation! Grandma and Grandpa, their five kids, each of their spouses, and all of the grandkids joined in this fun.

Each shoot is beautifully unique to every family and their own story, and when they leave I feel like pieces of me have gone home with them.

@OURRESCUE giveaway

I want to share more photos and HAVE A SPECIAL GIVEAWAY HAPPENING NOW:

The GIVEAWAY is live until Friday night 9pm! 100 PERCENT OF THE PROCEEDS GO TO OPERATION UNDERGROUND RAILROAD - an incredible organization that rescues children from sex slavery. I have purchased the course but am giving it away to another photographer who wants to jump in and start taking pictures!

The course, The Light and Liberation Project, was designed for any photographer wanting to develop their skills. Details are in a quick video made by the photographers in that link. The photogs who created the content are TOTAL ROCKSTARS (one is even a former mentor of mine.) I love these people. If you want a free 2-hour long photography check it out my insta post here!

If you are thinking of delving in to photography don’t give up. Keep going. I am so happy about all of the photos that are being pumped out of my camera. I’m in shock when I go back and look at them. I love them even more as time passes.

This beautiful friend, Krystil, is also a fellow photographer. We laugh and play and chat and hang, plus she orders take-out when I’m at her house and whoever gives me food becomes my instant best friend.

I always tell myself I will only choose 10-15 of my favorite photos from a session, but when it comes down to it I can never whittle them down.

Check out this Portra 800 +1!!!! And this Ilford Delta 3200. I’m crazy about this stuff.

no more excuses

Oprah’s Masterclass podcast is by far my favorite of all the podcasts (with Seth Godin’s Akimbo a verrrrry close second.)

I’m currently listening to Oprah’s interview of Simon Cowell. Here are some favorite lines:

“The good news is, it can’t get any worse from here.”

“When I first started…I was never off the phone. If I had to sit there for a minute I always thought, ‘There is something going wrong here. So I would just hustle - daily. I’m just just sitting there, daily, making it up every day. Trying to make a living…”

“I mean, what a lot of people do, ‘It’s the radio people’s fault, it’s the video’s…’ Ya right! It wasn’t good enough. End of story. You made the decisions. Take it on the chin and learn from it. It’s the only thing you can do. And there is a certain positive you can take from that. Because you’re not kidding yourself. If you start kidding yourself you’re dead. You’re dead.”

I learned very early on not to make ANY excuses in photography. If something wasn’t going right I knew it was me - not any one else. And I have learned to love the hustle.

This is the exact reason I will NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER TELL MYSELF:

“No one will pay me that here.”

I have heard too many people - who have made it HUGE - talk, and they never fed themselves these types of lines, they hustled. And after a lot of years it paid off. I am a witness to that in my business and see where it takes me year after year.

If you need business advice call me - I’m really good at saying, “Stop making excuses. Stop spending hours on social media. HUSTLE - the rocky, muddy, up-hill-battle-with-rejection-after-rejection-after-rejection sort of hustle. And then you will see yourself standing at the top of the mountain looking back at all of your growth! And when you look out the other way you will see another mountain even bigger than the one you stand on - and you will want to climb that one! Because you know you can, and will, with the right amount of sweat equity, patience, and grace.”

Portra 800 for life. Canon 1V and Pentax 645nii (don’t waste your money on that camera - just buy the Pentax 645n - for those of you who are looking ;)) Goodman Film lab.

Call me to book your shoot: 801-473-2272! And if you feel so inclined, please send my website to everyone you know traveling to So Cal!

xoxo

christina

slice of orange heaven

so many feelings

not clear words

lots of pictures

I never know how much to say or not say. But once again, I’m just gonna go for it:

This was a recent response to an email I wrote to a friend (we don’t live near one another and rarely see each other. I recently spent a brief moment with her after 6 years. This was my take away after we tearfully shared difficulty, heartache, and success in all of 20 minutes):

“This observation shook me while driving away from our discussion: I see my own imperfections and those of my family members, and sometimes I think we are living a lesser version of ourselves because of them, but when I see you and your family I am shocked at how all I see (and saw) is how beautifully each of you is living life. I would never even think of, or care, what anyone’s faults might be because all I saw is how everyone is just THEIR OWN BEAUTIFUL SELF. 

I can’t even describe my feelings or thoughts well, except I came home wanting to extend so much more mercy and grace towards myself, and each of us, because I more clearly see beauty in the chaos, growth from imperfection. I see how our efforts…work! Tyler and I were both in tears the night I came home and I told him about each of your babies, and you, and [your husband], and our time together. My mind is flooded with, “How can I ever judge or criticize myself?” In our time together I saw so clearly how beautiful life is even with the messy parts.

[You were right - we just] keep trying. And most of all keep giving thanks for a Savior who creates beauty from my measly efforts. 

I am learning to abide: abide the chaos, abide the Savior’s embrace, abide in the scriptures. (“Abide” is my new favorite word... [Our favorite teacher] mentioned that on [that sacred ]Sunday morning the apostles were at the tomb, as well as Mary, but when the Savior was not inside they left! She chose to abide and [the resurrected Savior] appeared to her. [The teacher] said, “Abide longer in your scriptures, in the temple. When you receive revelation ask, “Is there any more?”) Recently I have chosen to abide [and felt a flood of answers and love and confidence]. I abide in family, even when it’s uncomfortable or I don’t know what to say or do, in study even when I’m tired, in worship when I feel angry or frustrated.

It’s what I see you do and I see how powerful it is and I want that, too. 

You are so wonderful I can’t even say it enough. 

Maybe none of this makes sense in word but it feels precious and important to me, and I want to remember it…

I love you!

Christina”


how i see

To My Girls

I sit and you eat. 

I sit and you talk.

I sit and you laugh.

I sit and you tell stories.

I sit, I watch, I listen, and then I see.

risk

The best things in my life have happened because i have taken a risk, even when some voices suggest it’s not a good idea:

reading the book of mormon

10-day social media fast

buying a camera

charging people for sessions

charging more for sessions

moving to orange county

reaching out to certain people i dreamed of photographing

changing my entire brand

Here is a bit about my next risky move:

I AM NEEDED: my strengths, my conversion, my conviction, my ability to lead, my wisdom, and my voice. Russell M. Nelson

“We love you for who you are.” Dallin H. Oaks

I am needed, and not on social media. 

I have recently learned that social media growth is a by-product of business growth - it is not the catalyst of business growth. Social media has been fantastic in connecting me with like-minded creatives who love to talk life, love, family, and photography,

but when President Russell M. Nelson invited women to take a 10-day social media fast, and simply record what we observed, I had no idea the scope of what that would show me about myself:

I have never felt more human. Within 1-2 days of being off I felt, and acted, dramatically less robotic - my interactions with my children were 1000% more natural. I had to think less, plan less, and work less to engage more - more willingly, more happily, more naturally, more playfully. Life unfolds itself to me naturally when I am not trying to document all of it (especially to meet the demands of an insatiable algorithm). I make an exponentially greater difference in lives when I am not addicted to my screen and the life-sucking scroll. 

I gained clarity in every other area of my life.

My priorities effortlessly fell into place. Social media gives me a faux sense of immediacy. In the last 10 days not once have I felt rushed to complete something, post something, write something - my decisions were made naturally and calmly and the least important item smoothly fell behind.

I stuck to tasks without getting distracted (even though my brain wanted me to “just check facebook really fast…” I did not cave and holy moly I had not realized how much time is spent doing nothing by “just checking really fast!!!”

I have less anxiety (which I did not notice I carried.) The absence of the constant unintentional comparison has brought more fulfillment, more satisfaction, more calm, to my brain and my heart. The social-media/phone addiction is a numbing agent that covers, or distracts me from, the negative things I would normally feel, think about, and work through. Without ever addressing them they fester. For me, without social media, I am exceptionally more at peace, even when life is chaotic.

It has been more deeply instilled in me that I am strong, I am wise, I am powerful, I am important, I am beautiful, I am smart, I have the gifts of discernment and of faith, I am capable, I am a rockstar mom, friend, and neighbor. I am a force.

I deeply enjoy learning about my body - learning to understand it, listen to it, and obey it. I love being filled with light, knowledge, and love, and sharing it! Those feelings are pouring into me as I naturally and deliberately spend my time doing the things that are most important right now: lying on the bed snuggling Kate watching a million shows, lying on my bed alone staring at the ceiling, building a raging photography business, bike rides, beach trips, cooking, answering Annie’s every question about how to spell every word in a paragraph, actively serving in my church and community, and taking quiet time for myself whenever I need it. 

Without social media I live.

So, I will keep staying off. I will pop on sometimes - maybe every 10 days, maybe not. But my time will be spent “building an empire” (as a dear mentor once told me I would, and she was right in every regard.)

I am building an email list to communicate when I will be where, and from there I will send out blog posts (almost) weekly.

I have huge business goals. 

If you come to So Cal and want a casual, sun-filled, light-filled, laughter-filled, love-filled photography session (mom and baby, family, couples, whatever else the heck you want) please come see me - I pour my heart into everything I do and if you don’t mind me falling head-over-heels in love with you I am your girl ;)

love, love, love, 

forever love, 

Christina

I just had a family come from all over the states for an extended family reunion and we took their photos on the beach! Portraits will be painless and seamless and then WE WILL PARTY. Click here to make your beach session happen!

soft

For me it feels better, calmer, to be soft.

I was sitting on the beach this evening talking with extended family. This mom of a beautiful daughter mentioned she had worked for a long time and was hard, but since recently deciding to stop working, she has become soft. Then she said something that felt powerful to me, “And, I don’t know, I think I prefer soft.”

I have felt a similar shift in my attitude - I ran from my family for so long that now that my mind and body have healed I feel myself being pulled into them like a magnet! As I walked into the airport headed for Seattle last week Kate blew kisses to me with my every step farther and farther away. I blew kisses back and wondered, “What am I doing?! Do I really want to leave this?!” So these days I wonder, what does photography have in store for me? Does it bring me closer to the ones I crave most? Sometime it doesn’t and I can finally accept and admit that.

I am praying and working and setting goals to give my greatest attention to the ones who deserve it most, at this time in our lives.

This weekend is general conference. Saturday and Sunday will be spent being soft, being open, listening to communication from heaven (because I know deeply that when I listen it comes.) I will choose soft. My mind, heart, and spirit will be one. In turn I will feel at one with my loves, my friends, my family, the world.

It’s funny how that works - soft can be interpreted as weak, but I will be soft - at one - and I will feel whole, complete, and strong.

Portra 800 forever. And to all of the families who embrace my chaos - I love you. Thank you for making images with me that feel beyond perfect in every regard. xo, Christina