Both August SnapShop courses are booked and begin this Sunday!

August SnapShop Students (DSLR & Phone) – Over the weekend, you should have received an email with information on how to log into the course. Both courses begin this Sunday. The email was sent to the email account associated with your PayPal account. If you did not receive your email, please check your spam folder first and then email me if you still cannot locate it. I want everyone to be able to log in when they are ready!

The next SnapShops will be:

Phone course: October 5 – October 25, 2014 – registration opens August 11, 2014 8:00am US Central

DSLR course: October 5 – November 1, 2014 – registration opens August 11, 2014 8:00am US Central

You can find more information and register for either SnapShop on the course website, click here

flourishSince I’m talking about SnapShops today, I thought I would share a few photo tips using a couple recent pictures. These aren’t so much tips, I suppose, as just more information on how I got the shots with my iPhone. If you are interested in a SnapShop course, it will give you a glimpse into what the courses are like.


I asked my middle son to take the photo above of Chris and I. I began by taking a photo of Chris and walking my son through the process – how I wanted the shot composed and where to tap the screen to get the best exposure so Chris wasn’t too dark. After I walked him through it, I stepped into the shot and asked him to mimic what I showed him. I owe my son a huge thanks…this is one of my favorite pictures of us!

8.14co2-02I was climbing some rocks and the beautiful light coming through the trees caught my eye. My boys were playing chase among the trees and rocks with their cousins. I knew one of them would soon run past where the light was shining down. I positioned myself where I wanted and got the light at just the right angle….then I waited. It was just a few seconds before my son ran by and I snapped the photo just as the light outlined his running body.

8.14co2-03I was actually taking a photo of my oldest and youngest walking together. When my son realized what I was doing, he said he had a better idea for a photo. He suggested I use my timer (I use the one in the Camera+ app) and get a shot of us swinging her. I propped the phone against a fence post on the ground and set the timer. We swung her as the phone camera took the shot. Sidenote: I’m learning my kids’ willingness to be in front of my camera is often reflected in my affirmation of their suggestions and my own willingness to be in front of the camera.

I’m sitting here trying to figure out a way to wrap up this post and it just isn’t coming. So…”yay, for iPhones and kids”…that will have to do!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Natalie - Such great tips! thank you!

  • Sarah - I’m so excited to start your course on Sunday!

  • Carrie - Yay for iPhones and kids!!! :) Awesome.

  • Jess Z. - Hi Ashley…do you think you’ll have another DSLR course before February? I’m due with my 3rd baby then, so wondering if I should try to sign up for the October course, or if I can wait for the next one…thanks!!!

  • Urska - I love taking pictures with the timer. It is the only way I can get myself in pictures with the family. Recently a friend introduced me to CamMe app. It is a timer but you activate it with hand motion. You can stand wherever you wish and then activate from far. You should try it out and your children will have a blast with it.

  • Donna Thompson - HI- just wanted to share with you today- I volunteer at the Naples Zoo twice a week and today a family came in with 5 children. The youngest reminded me of yours- I asked the mom if she was adopted (taking a chance) and she was from China. Had the same surgery, etc. Also her other children were also adopted. I mentioned your blog. I thought it was so fun to talk with her and wish she could have stayed longer. It’s a small world sometimes :)

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - That is an AWESOME shot of you and Chris! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  • Molly Quigley - That ending is just fine by me. :)

  • O'Neill - So excited for the dslr class! I took your phone class and absolutely loved it, it really inspired me, thank you for doing them Ashley. :)

  • Cassidy - It’s beyond adorable that your kids get involved in the pictures beyond simply smiling. That last picture is just precious. (:

  • amanda - love these beautiful captures.

  • Nicole C - I’m almost embarrassed to even ask, but have you tried the Joby GorillaPod for your phone? I use it all the time with my iPhone!

My youngest daughter and I ran into Ikea on Saturday night. It was a super quick pit stop while the rest of the family grabbed dinner. I had a list and a mission. We flew through that store. She laughed, held the shopping list, said “hello!” to random people and helped unload our cart.  A 20 minute trip to Ikea is a record in it’s own right, but I was celebrating something more. We stood outside waiting for the rest of the family to come pick us up and it dawned on me that I had fun shopping with my daughter. It seems like a simple thing, but something so simple seemed impossible just a short time ago.

For nearly the first 1.5 years after she came home, we avoided shopping. Large places and lots of people overwhelmed her. I won’t go into details, but it was a terrible combination for her. With lots of time and lots of baby steps things began to change. I still remember the first time (just a few months ago) we went to Target together and there were no tears involved. It was about a 5 minute trip, but it could have been 3 hours for all I cared. I was so giddy…a glimpse of hope. More slow baby steps. More people. More stores. More crowds. And then this week I found myself at Ikea on a Saturday night in Denver with a bubbly 3 year old shopping by my side. We were laughing and there were no tears involved. If we can conquer Ikea on a weekend – we’ll there really aren’t any baby steps left.

She owned that place. Like a boss.

**and, yes, we are on the road again…celebrating Chris’ parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with his extended family. I’m beginning to forget what my house looks like!

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • danielle - YAY! Congrats little one :) What an amazing accomplishment!

  • Michelle Hill - I just want to SQUEEZE her! I love how glimpses of her personality show through her photos. This little daughter of yours is a strong, inspirational person. she’s accomplished so much in only three years, imagine what she can do in a life time! :)

  • Holly - IKEA is overwhelming for adults! Way to go Little one!

  • Carol - Sounds like she’s ready to go shopping with Nana!

  • TheDenverPack - Yeah! Such big steps :) And I nearly broke into tears after making the mistake of running to Ikea for a few things a couple of months ago! Love her little poses :)

  • Lori - High five little one! and for mama too!

  • jenny - THAT is absolutely adorable! so happy for you both. it is amazing how all of those milestones sneak up so quietly and quick :)

  • Evie - High five to Little One and her Momma! Your hope-filled stories bring me to tears.

  • Laura J - Hip Hip Hooray for both of you! I think back to when she first came home and could only stare at her hands. Your girl is amazing. One of my favorite quotes about this kind of thing is from Mister Rogers.
    A berry ripens in its own good time … and so does a child’s readiness. Just as the one needs water and sunlight, the other needs the patient reassurance of loving adults who can trust children to grow according to their own timetables. — Mister Rogers

  • Natalie - That is so amazing!! Congrats babygirl!

  • Anna - Awesome! I am so happy for you both! Congratulations!

  • Ashley Green - Love her self confident smile! So excited for her and how much she has grown.

  • Molly Quigley - Kid cracks me up in this picture.

  • Amanda Davis - Go Little One! I know her story is so much more complex than ours, but our son has dealt with severe sleep apnea his entire life, and he’s also a bit introverted in general. Shopping trips were insanely difficult, and always brought us both to tears. He never had the desire to do anything, and always wanted to sleep. He finally had surgery in April, and now, he’s the happiest 3.5 year old I know. The first time we went to Target with no tears, and he actually spoke the the cashier and asked for a sticker, I cried. I feel you mama! Our little ones are warriors <3

  • Emily - Woohooo!

  • kimberly oyler - yeah! get it girl!

  • Carrie Rowe - HOORAY!

  • gail mcfadden - just found your site and love it! you are an extemely special family and it warms my heart……

  • Kelleyn - Yeah for baby steps!

  • Maureen - Yay!!!! Way to go Little One. We send a houseful of Cheers and Love from Alaska. You are so awesome!

  • joan - Yay! She is such a doll! Here’s a random question…could you share a list of camping meals you make? My husband and I are taking our 5 kids camping in a couple weeks and I would love some ideas. Thanks!

A few months ago, I sat on my couch next to my friend Haverlee. She is an adorable momma to three boys. Her smile lights up a room and she has been such an encouragement to me for quite a while now. We talked about silly things, serious things, and stuff in between. During the course of our conversation, she shared with me her story. Her story isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. She is walking through the very difficult and painful days of marriage separation. Sunday marked her 12 year wedding anniversary. She shared a bit about the emotions of an anniversary when there isn’t celebrating on her blog. As I read her words, I thought of so many of you that have shared snippets of your stories with me….stories that don’t tie up with a pretty bow. I asked Haverlee if I could link to her post today. I know so many of you are facing very hard roads today, difficult battles that feel uphill. My hope is that you might find some encouragement in Haverlee’s words and the reminder that you are not alone.

Here is an excerpt from her post, click here to read more:

“I’ve found that people can fairly easily talk about those rough patches once they’re back on smooth ground. But I don’t hear people talking about it when they’re stuck in the middle; at least not outside their trusted circle of family and friends. But you know what’s even harder than walking through the toughest time in my life? Pretending I’m not. I can’t and I won’t. I will not put on a mask of perfection when my heart is aching on the best days and feels like it’s being ripped in two on the worst days. I sometimes want to hang a sign around my neck that says, “Tread lightly. Broken heart inside.” “


For those of you that feel the same…wishing others would tread lightly and recognize you have a broken heart inside….I hope you can take a few minutes to visit Haverlee’s blog. Though my words are feeble, know that I think of you often as I write this random blog. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows, but even in the dark times there are moments of joy to be found. My prayer today is that those of you feeling overcome by the dark and the painful, might find moments of grace and be surprised by joy today.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Paige - Father, please help me to be attentive and see friends and family members wearing that sign. Help all that comes out of my mouth be encouraging and loving and empathetic to others pain. I know I have my own. Help broken hearts find each other and be comforted. Thank you for the ones who speak out in the dark. I pray for your peace and comfort for Haverlee and your other children who are hurting this morning.

  • Cindy McAllister - Thank you for sharing this story. I needed to read this today as I am one of those people that has to pretend because I work in a service environment and have to smile outwardly even when I am broken inwardly. I pray God’s blessings on your friend and her children and also for you in your journey to bring JOY to other’s through your words on this blog.

  • Molly Quigley - Thanks for posting this. It’s so true, and nice of you to support your friend in this way.
    I wanted to share with you a way in which you inspired me this summer. You posted awhile ago about taking your son on a trip with just you and your husband for his birthday and how you had just blown out hair and got in the pool anyway. That really struck a chord with me. I have red colored hair that cannot see a chlorine pool. But when I took my daughter on a summer vacation, i made sure it was near the time of the next dye job and swam with utter abandon. She was over the moon with my new found love of the water. We had a blast! Thanks for posting the stuff of your days. I love it.

  • Linda - You know, she is so right. There are very few stories writeen while in the midst of that dark place and that is when we need it the most. I find that I can talk abut that time much more easily now, but at the time I was going through it, I felt that I was the only person in the world in that spot. Thankful that she is brave enough to share from in the middle.

  • Amy Espinosa - As a wife of twenty three years, I’ve been in many dark valleys. It was but a season though, and now that we are both older, wiser, and comfortable in our places, life is beautiful. Those dark times are hard though and I wish that more bloggers would write about the valleys. Transparency at any time in our lives is the key to helping others. We should never be ashamed to write about the real. Thank you Ashley for sharing!

  • TheDenverPack - I remember during my separation and divorce, keeping it together each day for our 2 toddlers, then falling apart every night. Even looking back at it from a place that I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams (almost 13 years later), there are some very sweet moments in the middle of the devastation. Some of those memories include the people who knew to treat me and my 2 girls as “fragile, broken on the inside.” Hugs to your friend.

  • Christina - I love Haverlee! I think what drew me to her on insta and her blog is that she was authentic. I CRAVE authenticity in people.

  • Kathy V - Thank you so much for this post today. I, too, am separated at the moment and celebrated my 24th wedding anniversary as such. It is never easy, not matter what age you are. Friends and family do not seem to understand that everything has been taken from me. My husband has our home (that we built together) and the children. The things I hold most dear. It is not easy and I would love to know where to get one of those “tread lightly” signs.

  • kimberly oyler - i have loved seeing this story pop up in so many different places. that haverlee is a brave one and i’m so proud of her for sharing the hard things.

  • Angela - Thanks for sharing this. I’m laid off, not separated, but I can definitely identify with so much in the post. My friends think I’m kicking back and enjoying the summer and living off of my severance payment, when the reality is quite different.

  • courtney - thank you for who you are. for caring for others so deeply. for realizing there are real PEOPLE here reading…that have needs and hurts. God is using you mightily. thank you for allowing Him to!

  • Courtney Connelly - Oh this rings so true with me right now. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kristin S - Oh yes.

    “pretending I’m not”

    Why do we do that? For me it’s that I don’t want to be “that friend” who is the Debby Downer in the group.

    But I don’t feel that way when others are real so why am I so scared??

  • Michelle - We had a guest speaker at our church this weekend that gave an excellent sermon on this very topic. It was titled, “My Hurt.” I encourage anyone going through a rough patch in life to watch it. The link is:

  • Ashley Green - She is right! We went through a very rough patch with our 3 year old for a really long time. He was hurting and no one knew what was wrong. It was really rough at our house. We kind of withdrew from a lot of things. When the doctors finally figured out he was having migraines, he was a whole new person. We saw him transform before our eyes. When we tell people about it, they are in awe that they didn’t know and don’t totally get to see the wonder of this transformation. Wish we had shared what was going on at the time but it was just so hard because our hearts were so broken for him. Feels like people don’t truly get to see how mightily God moved in his life because they didn’t know what it was like before. Thanks for sharing this!!

  • Christina - You said “even in the dark times there are moments of joy to be found” and I couldn’t agree more. That is exactly what I choose to focus on during these years of many “dark times”. I choose to focus on what is positive and good in each day, otherwise I would crumble and that just isn’t an option. :)

  • Frances Locke - Thank you. I needed this today, so badly.

  • Dawn - I’ve been praying for a way to support a close friend struggling with a painful illness. Thank you for the post, and thanks to Haverlee for the insight and devotional suggestion.