I can almost smell the bacon…

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know about my love for Alton Bay. It started with my dad’s dad and the love for peace, serenity and family fun has been passed down to his great-grandchildren. You can read about years past 2008:here, 2009:here, 2010:here, 2011:here 2012: here, 2013:here and 2014:here But this year’s memories are still fresh in our mind, and I can still almost smell the bacon. See the thing I love about vacation? We don’t use the “d” word. The “d” word being diet, of course. We eat to our heart’s content, and just enjoy everything about being together. I didn’t bring my camera everywhere with me, but I did manage to grab a few pictures here and there! new hampshire photography nh photography photographer family new hampshire children newborn massachusetts alton bay alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle alton bay christian conference center Lake Winnipesaukee lakes region photographer vacation lifestyle

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There it all is. The week is done. The bacon is gone. Well, it is still lingering on my hips..so excuse me while I go grab a water bottle. Until next year, Alton Bay!

Mommy Monday ~ A letter to my future daughter-in-law

Dear future daughter-in-law,

I’m writing this now,  because you are a hypothetical person in my mind, and nothing I say is going to be taken too personally. I have been praying for you every day since my baby boys were baby boys, so I feel like it’s important to tell you what I’ve been praying for.

I have been praying that you will stay pure. That you will stay pure not only in your actions, but also in your thoughts. I have been praying that you will be driven and independent, willing to work hard.
I have been praying that you will be confident in who you are. That you will understand where true beauty comes from and that you will not put yourself down for what you look like, or the way God made you.
I have been praying that you will embrace all the differences about yourself and the things you don’t like about yourself.
I have been praying that you will be a strong leader in your school and among your friends. I have been praying that people will know just by looking at you that you are different, and that you have a relationship with Jesus.
I have been praying that you will have an amazing relationship with your mom and dad. That you will have good role models to show you how incredible marriage is.
I so want for you to feel like when you marry my son, it will be the best decision you ever made.
I have been praying that you will keep your relationship with Jesus your first priority. That you will spend time every single day seeking Him and that you will be delighting in His Word.
I have been praying that you will look to God for all of your acceptance, all of your love and all of your needs.
I have been praying that you will not seek any of those things too strongly in your parents, your church, your friends, and ultimately even your husband. See. I don’t want to pray away any struggles in your life or anything, but I want you to understand how much you need to depend on God I want you to understand that as amazing as my boys are (and they are amazing) that they will never be enough for you, because only God can fill you the way you need to be filled.
I have been praying that that you will have a heart for people. That you will love serving. That you will not become bitter and resentful towards other Christians, or church, or people who have hurt you.
I want you to love church and love spending time serving other people.
I have been praying that you would guard your heart. That when other people hurt you, you will not let it define who you are.

I want for you to understand how to be strong and independent but also how to be submissive and trusting. I want for you to practice now speaking good of other people, so when you are tempted to speak bad about your husband, you will already know the power of life or death that lies in your tongue.
I want you to be willing to fight. To fight for your marriage, to fight for your family, to fight for your faith. I want you to know how to be serious, but also know that you can outright crazy. I want you to be open and honest.

The thing is, these boys of mine? They are too good to be true. I trust them. I trust their judgment. I trust that they are going to be close to Jesus and that they are going to pick an amazing girl.
So I already know you are going to be amazing.

The only thing I ask of you is this. Stay close to Jesus, and love my boy as hard as you can. Laugh at his jokes, give him big hugs, be his biggest fan and supporter. And I will do my very best to let you love my prized possessions and take care of my precious gifts.
Because I know that I am raising them to live with you forever.
And I know that you will take over the jobs that I have been doing for years, because that is the way God designed it. I can’t even wait to meet you when they fall in love with you.

Love,

Rachelle.
(or literally anything else you want to call me. Because I hate awkward “what-do-I-call-my-mother-in-law-situations. Seriously. Just tell me what you want to call me, and I’m cool with it)

ps. you must love the patriots, or you are not allowed to date my sons. ;)

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New England is “all set”

I never really noticed that I used the words “all set” so often until my friend from Tennessee was visiting one summer. If my waitress asks if I want anything else at a restaurant, I am quick to reply “No, I’m all set”. If anyone asks if I need help with something, it’s “nope! All set!” And she started saying how funny it was that we are all set in NH!

I guess it is kind of a New England thing to say, and it turns out it’s kind of a New England way to live.
I do not say that proudly.
I feel like New Englanders can tend towards pride a little bit more because of the hard winters.
Ya know what I mean?
We work hard. We deal with the cold, with the snow, with the mean people and we don’t ever need nobody else for nothin! We are just all set. We think we can do anything and everything by ourselves.
It’s a really bad habit actually, and sadly I have seen so many churches start having this mentality.

Last year, I organized and ran my first Christian Teen Leadership Conference, called Surge. You can read about it here.
My goal was simple:
It was designed to empower Christian teenagers from the New England area who are serious about their relationship with Jesus. I wanted to give them a chance to network with other like minded teens, learn from godly leaders and make purposeful strategies on ways they can be used to change the world.

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The problem with our churches “all set” mentality, is that the local bodies of Christ sometimes forget that they are a part of the universal body of Christ as well. It becomes more of a contest and a my-church-is-better-than-your-church kind of deal with every event planned.
I contacted one pretty good sized church and was told that they do their own teen conference so did not have interest in being part of ours.
Here is the thing…teenagers need to know that they are not alone in serving Jesus. I mean, we all need to know that. But as a teenager, connecting and feeling that camaraderie is so important!! What do you think gets them through the temptations that they face every day? What do you think inspires them to dream big and set huge goals?
Other godly friends, and other godly adults who are showing them by example!!
And what better way to give them those godly friends and godly adults than to bring them together in one place where they can meet each other!

Last year we had 28 teens from many churches and our speakers were from a variety of churches as well.
It’s not about us, people. It’s not about us.

When are we going to figure out that we are better together?
When are we going to figure out that it takes all of us to reach all of them?
Why do we feel like we need to do everything on our own? Is it so we can get the glory? Is it so we can get the recognition and the numbers and the pat on the back?
That is a bad habit that needs to be broken.
Working together is not a bad idea. It’s a good idea.

This year, I started planning much earlier and had things in place a lot sooner.

We have 9 break out sessions for the teens to choose from:

*Dealing with doubt (learning to trust God more)
*Keeping your testimony while playing sports
*Discovering where your treasure is (managing your money)
*Organizing your quiet time to get the most out of it
*Developing a stronger prayer life
*Digging deeper into God’s truths and living them out
*Being godly in an ungodly world
*Starting your own ministry
*Leading peers to Christ and growing them

I am so excited about these sessions as well as my main speaker this year!
It is going to be amazing!

While I started planning a lot earlier this year, I have also faced a lot more struggles.
I have lost several volunteers that I had thought were already in place since last year, I have had some financial struggles and I have just felt so much resistance with all of this.
Even just a couple weeks ago, I was thinking I should just cancel the whole thing.
I know God doesn’t want this! I know that the more of us that stand strong together, the more we can change the world. I am passionate about that, and I will keep on fighting for it.

My challenge to you tonight is this. If you are a teenager, or if you know a teenager who loves Jesus, make the decision to come to this event!!
Really. Stop thinking that you are going to be all set this school year.
Stop thinking that you can just do everything on your own.
WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER! You need me! I need you! We need each other!
Let’s stand together!

And if you are interested in volunteering for this year’s event or next year’s, please email me here for more information!

You can sign up and find more information about this year’s event here.

Threads, Kicks and Frosting ~ Glamour Photography

When my niece told me she wanted a few glamour shots I jumped at the opportunity. I was able to use my studio with some amazing natural light, and she is stunningly beautiful.

Here are some of my favorites!

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Mommy Monday ~ Where are you getting your authority?

Because I have been so passionate about Biblical parenting for so long, I have come across my fair share of parenting advice from all different perspectives. The most interesting to me, is when people (usually “professionals”…you know.) tell parents that what their kids are doing wrong is normal and not their fault. I just read an article that said that when kids lie, we should not make it a moral issue. (excuse me while I wipe off my screen from the water I was drinking that I just spit out all over the place!) And also, giving your kids discipline for lying will just make them want to lie more. We should really just understand that lying is “normal” and sometimes they will find themselves in situations that will make them lie and it’s not their fault.

Here’s the thing. I am not saying that all “professionals” are wrong in what they are trying to teach, but my question comes when their authority is a textbook, a survey, or a study.
The only authority for me is God. The only one.
According to what He has to say, even children are known by their actions. And according to what He has to say in James 1, we are tempted to sin when our own desires entice us and drag us away to act wrong! Based on the authority of God’s Word, your kids are responsible for their wrong behavior. We can’t blame their sin on other things.

The struggle comes when we start to lose sight of our authority! What is your authority? Are you getting your parenting tips and tricks from people’s opinions, experiments, textbooks and surveys? Or are you getting your authority from God’s Word? Big difference.

Lying is a moral issue. It’s sin. And sin is a pretty big deal to a Holy and Just God.
My kids have to know that! They have to know that when they lie, it’s not just a naughty thing they’ve done and they are going to get in trouble.
They have to know that it is sin against God. And God is always going to be their ultimate authority. They should know that God is always going to be my ultimate authority as well!
I can not tell my children not to lie, and then be lying myself.
God holds me accountable for my sin too!

My challenge to you tonight is to make sure you understand where you authority is coming from. Don’t let yourself get so caught up in all kinds of articles that are giving information based on anything other than God’s Word. Stay consistent in that.
It will make a huge difference.

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NH Family Photography ~ Renda Family

I photographed the beautiful Katherine about 3 years ago for her senior pictures. (You can see her session here.) I got an email from Katherine telling me that her and her siblings wanted to surprise their dad with a family photo shoot! I love this idea. The older you get the more you realize the value of family and the value of pictures.

I loved the chance to meet this awesome family at their beautiful home in Milford, NH and see them all interact together!  Here are a few of my favorites from their family session!

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Mommy Monday ~ Take your kids on missions trips

If we are going to be serious about raising our kids intentionally, this has to include showing them how we serve others and showing them how they can serve. We decided a long time ago that when we serve, we want to include our entire family in it. It’s an honor to serve God and to serve others and we are showing that to our kids by living it out and by giving them the same opportunities we give ourselves!

We took the boys on our first missions trip when they were 2 and 4. We went to Canada with a group of teens from our church and led a VBS all week and we did the same trip the following year. The year after that, we spent a week at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

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The next year we went to Haiti, and the following year we opened The Porch.

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We absolutely love serving together. We can teach the boys the importance of acting out our faith. We don’t ever want to get so complacent in our lives that we lose sight of what our purpose is…bringing glory to God. Sometimes that looks like simply showing respect to people we see at church, and other times it looks like going to a foreign country and showing the love of Jesus that way.

if you have the chance? Take your kids on a missions trip. There are plenty of organizations that allow you to include the whole family…it doesn’t have to be just a teens missions trip!! Start them young. You will teach them so  many lessons about love, you will make so many memories, you will teach them how to interact with all different kinds of people, you will learn so much about who God is and how He is working all around the world. We are pretty busy with our ministry here in the U.S. now, but I’m looking forward to another family mission trip in our future!

NH Newborn Photography ~ Baby Jake

I adore newborn sessions. They are always a little bit unpredictable which keeps you on your toes. Baby Jake was an absolute angel and it was so much fun snuggling him. Here are a few of my favorites from his session!

new hampshire nh newborn photography photographer portraits studio baby pictures rye epping exeter hampton portsmouth

new hampshire nh newborn photography photographer portraits studio baby pictures rye epping exeter hampton portsmouth new hampshire nh newborn photography photographer portraits studio baby pictures rye epping exeter hampton portsmouth new hampshire nh newborn photography photographer portraits studio baby pictures rye epping exeter hampton portsmouth new hampshire nh newborn photography photographer portraits studio baby pictures rye epping exeter hampton portsmouth new hampshire nh newborn photography photographer portraits studio baby pictures rye epping exeter hampton portsmouth

My best tip for blogging

I have been a “blogger” for 10 years. I started blogging back when blogging wasn’t even really a thing, and I had no idea what I was doing. I started out really inconsistently writing here and there with pictures of the boys and maybe some of my thoughts thrown into the mix. I wasn’t trying to follow anyone and social media wasn’t even around.

Now you can find a blog on any topic by millions of different people. You can also easily find 5 tips for a successful blog, or 10 ways to boost your blog audience, or you can throw a fun adjective in there like 20 simple easy-to-follow steps to get your blog known.
Pinterest even allows you to find all of those topics in one location on how to be a successful blogger.

While I have looked at many of the different articles that go along with blogging, there is one tip that I have for you that you probably won’t even find in any of those articles.
Here it is:

Don’t become a people pleaser with your blog.

Seriously. It is so easy to fall into the trap of trying to follow all the tips that other people are giving when the bottom line is this: THE OTHER PEOPLE AREN’T YOU!

*If you want to post pictures at 600 pixels wide, go for it. But guess what? If you don’t want to? Then just plain don’t.
*If you want to post on Mondays, Wednesdays an Fridays, do your thang.
But if you want to post on a Monday, then skip 2 weeks and post on a Saturday?
Do it dude. Just do it. And don’t apologize for it.
*If you want to make sure that all your posts end with a clever catch phrase? Make it your own and work it. But if you don’t? Then don’t.

Do you see what I’m saying here?! It is so easy to get caught into the trap of making sure that everything is perfectly set up exactly the way that other people are saying it should be, that you don’t even enjoy it anymore.
When I am already fighting feelings of failure in so many areas of my life, the last thing I need is to feel like I’m not quite making it in life because my instagram feed doesn’t match my brand. I don’t want to get to the point where I am not posting pictures because I was wearing a red shirt that day instead of a pink one which goes with my logo.

I’m not saying I’m against trying to get more followers, or to try and improve the look of my blog. I’m all for pushing and not staying complacent. But the thing is, I think it’s way easier to get so focused on pushing myself to make sure my brand is on point, and my blog post has no more than 600 words, that I am not even pushing myself in areas that have eternal value.
See, when I read my Bible every single day. When I let it change the way I talk to my husband. When I decide to memorize Scripture with my kids…Those things don’t go viral. Those things don’t get me more followers and they don’t get me any likes. But they do earn me blessings from God. I don’t even mean blessings that look like possessions or favor with people or anything like that, although sometimes that does happen. I mean blessings like having peace I can’t even understand. I mean a closeness with God that I long for. I mean joy that no one else can even fathom. But those things aren’t what are in front of me, pushing me every day. And that is what I want more than anything.

So I am not saying don’t try and improve your blog.
What I am saying is try and improve your relationship with God, with family and with people first. Then you can work on color schemes, clever titles and perfect pictures.
Just don’t get distracted. Don’t become a people pleaser with your blog.
Make it about what you want it to be about. And if you make it about you? The people you want to start following you will start following you because they like you. Not because they like your expert blog.
And isn’t that what you want, after all? I know I do.