Friendsgiving

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We forgot about mashed potatoes.

The rolls weren’t done on time.

There weren’t enough chairs for everyone.

Babies got jealous of each other nursing and cried.

The whipped cream never came out of the fridge.

There was wayyyyy too much leftover ham.

I only took two pictures all night.

But none of that really mattered, because at the end of the night, we were well-fed and happy and warm, and we enjoyed each other’s company like the family we are. It was the most perfectly imperfect night with some of my favorite people. ♥

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere heartspraising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” — Acts 2:42-47

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Small Biz Spotlight: Cromer & Co.

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For years, Christy was one of those photographers I watched from a distance on social media and secretly thought, Man, I reeeeeeeally want her to take our pictures!! I loved her ability to capture genuine smiles and the emotion of a moment, and her candid, comfortable approach toward her sessions was obvious from the photos she posted. I was so excited when we were finally able to use her for the Hendrickson family photo shoot earlier this year, and I couldn’t be happier with the gorgeous pictures she gave us!

I knew when I started my Small Biz Spotlight feature posts that I only wanted to share businesses I could personally advocate for. I’m not getting paid to promote any of these people; I’m just sharing things that I like with you in the hopes that you’ll support those faces behind the businesses too! Over the last few years, I’ve gotten to experience a few of the struggles associated with running your own shenanigans, especially when it comes to marketing and building rapport. And I want to do whatever I can to be a cheerleader for other people like me, and any friends who are working hard on their dream. So, without further ado, say hello to Christy Cromer of Cromer & Co.!


Embracing the Chaos: What made you want to become a photographer? What were you doing before?
Cromer & Co.: “This might sound super cliche but….I’ll say it anyways. Growing up, I always remember my mom having a camera in her hand taking pictures of us. She took pictures of the regular mundane days as well as softball games, dance recitals, birthday parties, Christmas morning, etc. My grandpa also always had a camera in his hand – heck, he even had his own dark room where he developed his own film. So I grew up around it. I remember in high school being interested and taking photos of my friends and activities but it wasn’t until I had my kids that I really became interested. Once those babies were here, I remember this overwhelming since of urgency to capture EVERYTHING! Their tiny feet and hands, their baby mohawks and silly smiles, their giggles and baby fat rolls. I bought my first ‘fancy’ camera when Kasen, my second little one, was about two months old. My obsession with capturing every moment of my kids lives turned into a fun hobby and eventually my side-business.

I was working as a nurse at the Women’s Center in Durant and I had four kids under the age of 6 *I know, I gasped too!* I was working 2-3 shifts per week and I felt like I was missing a lot of time with them. I would leave the house before they were awake and a lot of time I would not get home until late and they were already in bed asleep. I knew I wanted to be available and present for them, more than what I was doing at the time. So I really started working hard to get better with my camera so that I felt comfortable taking pictures of other people. I slowly backed off on my nurse work days and dabbled in photography part-time. Eventually I was able to resign completely and do photography full time.”

ETC: What training/resources/etc. did you use to get started?
C&C: “Honestly, I watched TONS of YouTube videos about my camera. I learned it inside and out so that I could manipulate it and make it do what I wanted it to do. I also studied other photographers’ work. When I became really serious about wanting to do this as my full-time job, I started attending workshops online and in person. The online workshops were mostly all geared towards newborn photography. For the in-person workshops, I found photographers that inspired me and made me want to be better, and the ones who I felt I would connect with the most. They were: Joy Neville’s Tell A Story workshop in Dallas, Kimmy Howard’s Newborn Workshop in Indianapolis, and most recently the Own It Workshop with Wyn Wiley, Ellie Berry & Abbey Moore in Breckenridge, CO.”

ETC: Work-wise, do you consider your business a full-time or part-time gig?
C&C: “This is definitely a full-time gig. To some, it may seem that being photographer is easy, but I spend a LOT of time sitting at the computer either: culling images, editing, responding to emails/texts/Facebook messages, or watching online educational resources. I may only spend one hour with you and your family, but what goes on behind the scenes (aka at my computer desk) is time-consuming. During my busy fall season, I spend almost every available moment at my desk. All of this while still trying to be a mom and wife and friend!”

ETC: Where does your inspiration come from as an artist?
C&C: “I would say it comes from the people in front of my camera. I try to approach each session with the idea that there is no one else like these people in the world. I want to tell a story, whether it’s a couple who are crazy in love and they have a silly way of showing it, a new mom who loves to smell the top of her newborn’s head…maybe it’s the way the grandparents look on as their granddaughter or grandson is saying ‘I do’. I don’t know, I think it is just as important to catch the in-between, unposed moments as it is the posed ones. I honestly believe that a photo of you hugging your grandma at your wedding is going to be way more important to you than the Instagram-worthy posed moment at just the right time during the sunset. Everyone has a story, and it’s important to document each session so that it is a true representation of the people in the images.”

ETC: What do you enjoy most about working as a photographer? The least? Has anything surprised you about being a small business owner?
C&C: “I think what I enjoy most about being a photographer is all of the relationships and connections that have come my way. I have photographed some of my clients for four years in a row now, so seeing them each year is so much fun. Especially when the kids get out of the car and run towards me with the biggest hugs to give. I’ve made a lot of friends through this little business.

The least? EDITING, and all of the hours I sit alone in my house at my computer. It can be a little lonely. I also do not enjoy the ‘business’ side of being a business owner. That’s why I have Cody, he takes care of all of that. I just take care of the people.

I think everyday is a new surprise when you are a small business owner. Honestly, the stress of knowing that this is what provides for my kids and family is stressful. Some days I think ‘Man, I’m really doing great at this whole thing,’ and other days ‘I have to find a new job, this is never going to work out…’ I also tend to overthink everything! That’s why it’s nice to have Cody to help me – he is always talking me off that cliff.”

ETC: Where do you envision your business going?
C&C: “Eventually, I would like for this to be both of our full-time jobs and maybe do some more traveling with it. We also have BIG dreams of opening a venue.”

ETC: What are the top 3 things you’d tell an aspiring photographer?
C&C: “1. SHOOT, SHOOT & SHOOT some more. You will only get better if you practice. 2. Learn your camera inside and out. You should be able to work that thing with your eyes closed in manual mode. 3. Be yourself. It’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison game (trust me, I know this really well). The thing is, no one else has the vision that you do or will take the same photos you can take. I feel that if you stay true to who you are, it will show in your work.”

ETC: Most importantly…cake, cookies, or pie? 😉
C&C: “THIS IS THE HARDEST QUESTION! Can I say all three? I do the happy dance the morning of every wedding because I know my night ends with cake (and bonus points to the couple if it is Red Velvet). I also LOVE warm chocolate chip cookies and it’s almost Thanksgiving so we cannot forget the pumpkin pie.”


And now that you’ve heard a little about her, here’s a look at her work!

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World’s best humans, ranked:
1. Daniel Hendrickson. ♥

I absolutely loved our little mini moment with Christy during the Hendrickson family photo shoot! The more professional pictures Daniel and I take together, the more convinced I am that we need to do it more often. Big thanks again to Cromer & Co. for the beautifully-preserved memories! You can see more of their work on their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Married Monday: Marriage Advice for Dating, Engaged, and Newlywed Couples

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Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Billy Graham, said, “Love is not only ‘the union of two good forgivers,’ but also ‘the union of two good appreciators.'” Can’t say it better than that!

It’s important to remember that marriage is blending the lives of two sinners together. YOU are a sinner. YOU are deeply flawed and selfish. And you are marrying a sinner who is also deeply flawed and selfish. Getting married doesn’t automatically turn you into amazingly perfect, selfless people.

Sometimes, romance doesn’t look like flowers and fancy dates. Maybe it looks like one of you doing the dishes because you know the other one hates doing them. Maybe it’s finding a heart drawn in the fog on the mirror when you get out of the shower. Maybe it’s just putting your phones away for an hour, sitting on the couch, and talking about your week. Your methods of showing affection will deepen in value, and gestures of love take on brand new meaning as seasons of life change.

Never, ever, EVER compare yourself or your marriage to others, especially via social media. You will end up feeling prideful or resentful, and neither is healthy.

Know that for every expectation you have for your spouse, they will have one for you too. You’ll find out really fast how “stuck in your ways” both of you are. But also know that while both of your expectations may be valid, you both need to bend a little. It’s unrealistic and unfair to expect your spouse to do all the changing and adjusting in your relationship while you refuse to adapt a little for them.

Your marriage relationship is a picture to the rest of the world about the way God loves His people. Are you displaying an accurate picture?

You will never completely fulfill each other. I know it may be hard to imagine (partially because movies have given us unrealistic expectations for the things our spouse is ‘supposed’ to do and say), but there will always be gaps that no one but the Lord can fill. Ruth Bell Graham also wisely said, “I pity the married couple who expect too much from one another. It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be to her that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be: ready to forgive, totally understanding, unendingly patient, invariably tender and loving, unfailing in every area, anticipating every need, and making more than adequate provision. Such expectations put a man under an impossible strain. The same goes for the man who expects too much from his wife.”

Guard your heart persistently. There are so many things competing for your attention – romance novels, sex-saturated movies, pornography, flirtatious coworkers – and Satan will use as many as he can to steal your affection for your spouse, in obvious ways and scarily subtle ways. Don’t let him. Protect your marriage.

Don’t forget that you are on the same team! When you face conflict, try to view the situation as “the couple vs. the problem” rather than “the husband vs. the wife.” You are teammates on the same side, not enemies in opposite corners of a boxing ring.

Respect and kindness are gifts. At some point (even if it’s just for one 10-minute argument), your spouse will not deserve them. Give them anyway. They are much easier to give when they are earned, but it is much more powerful to give them when they aren’t.

Learn to pick your battles, because some things just aren’t worth arguing about. Don’t look for reasons to be upset. Instead, think long-term and ask yourself, “Ten years from now, will I be glad I fought for this? How important will it be in a few decades that we didn’t agree about this, or that he did what I wanted?” 

Pride will ruin your relationship. You will become mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unhealthy very quickly if you are too stubborn to ask for forgiveness, to accept a genuine apology, or to ask for help when you need it.

Physical attraction and sexual compatibility are a really shaky foundation to build your life on. They are like lighter fluid on a relationship: it will burn hot and bright for a short while, but when there is no other substance underneath to fuel it, the flame will inevitably fade and fail.

Make having fun a priority in married life, not just in your dating life. Don’t let  new responsibilities and schedules and busyness dampen your spirit and spontaneity. Marriage can be SO FUN, more fun than anything else you do, so decide that fun is important and make time for it!

Learn your spouse’s love language as early as possible, and look for ways to show your affection in the way that means the most to him or her – acts of service, gifts, quality time, physical touch, or words of affirmation.

So often, when someone has a problem with his or her spouse, they talk to everyone else BUT their spouse about it. Don’t do this. If your husband is frustrating you, talk to HIM about it and deal with it together.

The best time to invest in your marriage is before you’re struggling. Read marriage books together, go to a conference, or plan a weekend getaway somewhere specifically to spend time reconnecting. The time and money you sacrifice will be worth it in the long run.

Pray so hard for your marriage. Never stop praying for each other and with each other. Pray as if your lives depend on it, because they do. 


This post is part of “Married Monday,” a series I started in order to expose myths and lies we’ve been told about married life, celebrate moments of joy and growth, chew on hard truths and sprinkle them with grace, and remind others (and myself!) that marriage doesn’t work without Christ in it. I have lots of ideas, but I’d love your input too! What topics would you like to see covered?

Listicle Series: Movies I Never Get Tired of Watching

Want to know how to make me really happy? Gimme a big pile of snacks, plop down on the couch with me, and tell me that we’re going to spend all day watching movies. Some people might see that as a waste of time, but not me. Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time, and watching movies all day would be a day very well spent. There’s something totally delicious about losing yourself in the plot of someone else’s story and getting swept away into their adventure, joy, melancholy, romance, laughter, action, and emotion.

Obviously, it would be impossible to list every movie I love – there are far too many! Instead, here’s a brief list of movies I never get tired of watching, no matter how many times I’ve seen them. Movies I will always stop flipping through channels for, no matter what else is on TV (this is Daniel’s main criteria for a good movie, by the way). Movies I could sit down and thoroughly enjoy at any given moment…….like right now!


My Much-Loved Flicks:

Morning Glory.

The Glass Bottom Boat.

Virtually any Christmas movie.

Inception.

Anne of Green Gables.

Harry Potter.

Singin’ in the Rain.

Mean Girls.

The Dark Knight Rises.

The Sound of Music.

Just Friends.

The Lord of the Rings.

North By Northwest.

Stardust.

Some Like It Hot.

Pretty much all Disney movies. But especially the Hayley Mills version of The Parent Trap, Anastasia, Inside Out, Beauty and the Beast, The Emperor’s New Groove, Swiss Family Robinson, The Princess Diaries, and the Lily James version of Cinderella. And Tangled and Moana and Frozen. And The Absent-Minded Professor. And That Darn Cat.
(Sorry.)


Brb….if you need me, I’ll be curled up on the couch for the rest of the month. ♥

Tell me, what is one of YOUR favorite movies?