Browse > Home / Archive: January 2018

| Subscribe via RSS

Top Lists You Need to Know as We Enter 2018

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in CHRI

Dear Moms: In 2018, Get In the Picture

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Please hear me when I say this: In ten years, you will not look at these family pictures and wish you were ten pounds lighter.

I’m in the middle of busy season here at the studio…and I mean BUSY. I’m talking living on coffee, no sleep, and haven’t fixed my hair in two weeks kind of busy. My house is a mess, the studio is a mess, and I’m actually loving every minute. I’m enjoying spending time with my amazing clients and friends doing exactly what I love.

I’m putting aside my editing and mile long to-do list to write this letter to you. It’s weighing heavy on my heart today and I really feel like it’s something you need to hear.

Every day I interact with sweet moms who have kids of all ages. You spend so much time putting effort into your photo shoot. Coordinating the perfect outfits, making sure your kids get great naps, begging your husband to cooperate. I see you, and I’m so thankful for that effort. As your photographer I want nothing more than for you to love and cherish your photos. I want them to last forever and I want you do adore them forever, and the most rewarding part of this job is hearing how much you love them.

But, lately it’s been difficult for me to hear how hard you’re being on yourself. Here are a few things I’ve been hearing over and over the last month in different shapes and forms:

“I have been wanting to book a shoot with you, but I’m trying to lose ten pounds first.”

“Please, photoshop me as much as you can!”

“I couldn’t find anything that looked okay on me so I decided not to be in them.”

“Please hide me behind the kids as much as you can.”

“I will love the pictures as long as I’m not in them!”

“I love my pictures, I just wish I was not in them.”

“I get so stressed out when it comes to pictures.”

I see the panic on your face when I ask if you want to be in a photo. I even had a sweet mom tell me today that she absolutely loved her pictures and was recommending me to everyone she knew, but she had a major breakdown about the pictures she was in because she hated how her body looked.


Mommas…..please give yourself some grace.

As an artist, I study you in detail. I think you are beautiful. Absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. But, I think we are talking about two different versions of beauty here. I’m not talking about your perfect outfit or your perfect body. What I see is the way you love your kids. The way you have so much patience and the way they look at you and giggle. That is so much more beautiful than perfect hair or make-up.

Sometimes they cling to you and don’t want to be put down. You get frustrated. I always assure you it’s okay. I love seeing how safe they feel in your arms and when they snuggle into you, I pretty much melt. (Even if it is totally messing up your hair.) Their drool on your shirt? Yes, of course I can photoshop that. But should I? You’ll miss that one day, you know. They adore you.

No matter hard you try, your photos will not be perfect. Life isn’t perfect. And that’s the beauty of photography – capturing the messiness of life as it comes and as it actually is. Because messy or not, you’ll never get those moments again.

And please hear me when I say this. In ten years, you will not look at these photos and wish you were ten pounds lighter. You will be looking at how little your baby is in your arms and wishing you could jump right back into that moment when they needed you so fiercely. You may even think how great you looked with less wrinkles and wish you could go back to that too.

In twenty years, when your sweet baby is grown they will look back and cherish these pictures. They won’t care about the outfit or what you weighed but they’ll be grateful they have something to remember how great of a mom you were to them.

Someday you’ll be gone and your great, great, great, grandchildren will see how much they resemble you and be so thankful for the legacy you left. This is the true beauty of a photo.

And let me just say, I’m speaking to the choir here. I’m not a mom yet, but I’ll be the first to admit I try to be perfect. In a world of social media and instant gratification with likes and comments, it’s hard not to be hypercritical of yourself.

So please, moms.

You literally made a human with that body of yours. Be easy on yourself. Give yourself grace. Take the pictures, even when you don’t feel your very best. Love the pictures, even when you don’t look your very best. You are more beautiful than you’ll ever know.

I promise you won’t regret it.


This article originally appeared at

City On Our Knees – How & Where to Pray in Unity for Our City

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in From Care

5 Ways to Rediscover Your Spouse Over and Over

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Here are five practices that have helped us rediscover each other as we navigate marriage from season to season.

Marriage is said to be a three-stranded cord, a covenant between us, our spouse and God. The funny thing is God is the only strand that’s sure to remain the same. When we said those wedding vows, we promised to love each other well, even as we constantly change and grow. That’s why maintaining an attitude and practice of discovery is essential for a thriving marriage. Today, I’d like to offer just a bit of what my husband and I have learned over these past 12 years of imperfect, but thriving marriage. Here are five practices that have helped us stay in discovery mode with each other as we navigate marriage from season to season.

Daily Debrief –Okay, debrief sounds kind of stuffy, but this is about as informal as it gets for us. We enjoy this practice every evening to wind down and it’s truly become refreshing to us both. This is where we discuss anything and everything that’s on our mind and hearts that day. We talk about what we did, something beautiful we saw, something funny the kids said or a song on the radio that made us cry. Anything is fair game. The goal is to simply cultivate a habit of sharing in life together.

It’s also a space where we touch base about anything from our schedule, budget or decisions that need to be made. Covering those seemingly minor details can go a long way to minimize miscommunication, preventing a snowball of stress and frustration. Truly, practice makes progress with this habit. It may take some diligence (and forgiveness), but is so worth the effort.

Open-Ended Questions – Open-ended questions are a wonderful way to intentionally foster a sense of discovery in our marriages. Open-ended questions tend to provoke more fulfilling exchange than “Did you have a good day?” or “Did you get that project done at work like you hoped?” For us, our conversation went to new places when we learned to say, “Tell me about your day.” Or “What are your hopes for our weekend?”

“Double-clicking” – I first heard this term in a business training many years ago. It stuck with me and is essentially asking a question based on answers. It’s active listening at it best. Consider this example.

Me: Hey honey, tell me about your day.

Him: It was good. I had those two meetings this morning and then I was extremely busy, but productive the rest of the day. I still need to prepare for my meeting with management on Tuesday.

Me: What would you like to see come about as a result of that meeting? Best case scenario? (This is double-clicking. Let’s take it a little farther.)

Him: Well, I’d like to …

Me: That makes a lot of sense. How can I best pray for you and empower you as you prepare for this important meeting?

At the heart of it, double-clicking can be a powerful way to say, “I’m interested in what you’re saying. You’re important to me. I want to learn more about you and all that pertains to you, because I am your #1 partner in life.”

Shared Language– This is something that my husband and I have slowly adopted conversation by conversation. When caring curiosity drives conversation, you’ll find yourself learning things that you never thought you’d know, all so that you can have a deeper understanding of your spouse and all that affects their daily life.

I have learned just enough about my husband’s business so that as he shares with me, I can more clearly grasp his professional goals, challenges and victories and encourage him in those things. He has done the same thing for me by learning about homeschooling or whatever I’m nerding out about at the time. Our conversations can go a lot farther and are a lot more satisfying because we’re willing to take interest in each other’s passions, hobbies and work.

Go first. You’ve expressed interest in your husband, initiated some open-ended conversation and you’ve given him opportunity to share. What’s on your heart that you could share with him about you? If you start inviting him into the dreams of your heart, you give him permission and encouragement to do the same. Going first means taking risk. It’s gently modeling the exchange you would like to grow in your marriage.

I’d love you to share in the comments below how practices like this work for you and your husband. As always, I’d be honored if you’d share this article with anyone you think it would encourage.


This article originally appeared at

Listening to CHRI at home has never been easier.

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Videos

Did you get an Amazon Echo or Google Home for Christmas?
Just say “Alexa enable CHRI” or “Ok Google, play CHRI” to listen to your favourite radio station.

“… and just for fun… ???? (from Christian comedian John Crist)

A Look at Zach Williams’ First Full Year in the Christian Music World

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Artist Spotlight

This year’s Top New Christian Artist reflects on his successful switch from secular to Christian music.

photo credit Eric Brown

Before embarking on a solo career in the Christian genre, 39-year-old singer-songwriter Zach Williams, from Jonesboro, Arkansas, fronted a rock band, Zach Williams & The Reformation, which he launched in 2007.

The unit had built a solid fan base that extended to Europe, but after several tours and an admitted “reckless lifestyle,” he returned home to Arkansas, working as an associate pastor in a local church.

That’s the short version of a longer story that encompasses the artist’s dramatic life change, finding God and turning to spiritual music.

Both of Williams’ first two Christian singles, “Chain Breaker” (in November 2016) and “Old Church Choir” (this year), topped Billboard‘s Hot Christian Songs and Christian Airplay charts and his debut full-length, Chain Breaker, peaked at No. 4 on Top Christian Albums in August. From that success, Williams is Billboard’s Top New Christian Artist of 2017, as well as Top Male Christian Artist.

Williams’ rock background is instilled in his music and, with its sound that leans more organic than a lot of music in the Christian genre, Chain Breaker also peaked at No. 4 on Billboard‘s Americana/Folk Albums list. Additionally, the singer-songwriter received a Grammy nod, with Chain Breaker being nominated for best contemporary Christian music album.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, following more than a year of continual touring, recording and visiting radio stations, Williams stopped to take his family to Disney World. After returning to his home in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee (about 30 minutes south of Nashville), with his wife Crystal and children, he took time to chat with Billboard and look back on his first full year in the Christian music world.

How does it resonate with you to hear that you are Billboard‘s Top New and Top Male Christian artist of 2017?

That’s just unreal, honestly. To me, it doesn’t even seem how it could be possible. So, to hear my name mentioned with people like Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Lauren Daigle, it’s just crazy.

It seems like Christian radio embraced you almost immediately, as you’re also the No. 1 Christian Airplay artist for 2017. Your debut hit “Chain Breaker” was No. 1 for 15 weeks on Christian Airplay and the second, “Old Church Choir,” No. 1 for 16 weeks. Programmers in the genre seem pretty cautious when it comes to embracing new artists. Why do you think you were welcomed right away?

You know, I have thought about that. When we released my first single, “Chain Breaker,” I really had no idea how radio would respond. The thing is, though, my music is intentionally simplistic and my hope is always that it’s also relatable, that it can connect with normal people. I even thought that “Chain Breaker” may have been too simple at first, and the fact that it got traction and went to No. 1 was extremely gratifying.

I don’t know if you realize this but, in talking about Christian radio, you’re just the second artist that has reached No. 1 on Christian Airplay with your first two charted singles, following MercyMe in 2003 (not counting holiday fare).

I didn’t know about that and it just seems sort of surreal. I have visited a lot of radio stations in the past year and everyone was gracious and welcoming, and the fact that they supported me early on means the world to me.

I am not one that concentrates on watching the charts. You just work hard and put out the best music that you can, so when I hear that the songs were successful, what makes me really happy is that a lot of people may find God through my music.

You were working at a church in Arkansas when you were discovered and eventually signed to Essential Records and the Provident Label Group.

Yes, and I was content. I was a pastor at one of the satellite campus churches for the Central Baptist church in Jonesboro, and just happy to sing worship on Sundays and be part of the community. One Sunday, I just happened to be at their flagship church and [songwriter and producer] Jonathan Smith happened to be in church. He asked me to have coffee with him; one thing led to another and we were writing songs together.

“Chain Breaker” was one of the first songs we wrote together, and basically, when Jonathan played it for the staff at Provident, they wanted to sign me right away.

Working in a church, happily married and content, that’s a long stretch from being on the road constantly with a hard rock band.

Yes, I was with the Reformation for seven or eight years with a big enough following to tour Europe several times and, to be honest, I led a pretty reckless lifestyle that included alcohol and drugs… One day we’re driving along, the bus driver is scanning radio stations and all of a sudden I hear Big Daddy Weave‘s “Redeemed.” I knew the song, but this time it stopped me in my tracks and I clearly heard the Holy Spirit speak to me.

I got to the hotel that night, called my wife and told her that I was coming home.

You broke up the band right after that?

Yeah, and it wasn’t pretty. It was my band, we all had a lot of years invested, but I needed to change, so I did what had to be done.

So, from working with a secular rock band to touring as a Christian artist, where the shows, except for the really big tours, are in churches, I was going to say that’s quite a switch. But, since you were already working in a church, was it a natural transition for you?

Yes, but first, let me just say, I’ll play anywhere. I recently did a show at a House of Blues venue, and I welcome that and kind of love it. I want to play in front of people and meet them where they are. The fact that my songs might connect with them, that they might hear God’s word and that it might inspire change in their own life, that’s what it’s all about and that’s always my hope when performing.

For our readers that aren’t necessarily familiar with Christian concerts, do you pray during the shows?

Yes, it’s natural, and that’s what the music is for. God’s worked in my life and having it transcend to all kinds of people, that’s my wish. My only goal is that I am doing what God wants me to do, and that it resonates with people.

There are points in the show when we’re performing worship-style material that lends itself to prayer, like the song “Revival” on my album. It’s more of a worship song.

Billboard‘s Top Christian Artist of the year among all acts is Hillsong Worship, a prayer and worship act, so it seems like that style of music is mainstream now?

It is and that’s a great thing because there’s some really great worship acts like Chris Tomlin who are phenomenal artists.

You co-wrote all 10 songs on your Chain Breaker album. Is co-writing how you prefer to write?

For sure, I love co-writing. It’s a lot easier to not get yourself stuck because you have people pushing you and finishing ideas. I love bouncing concepts and thoughts off of people and Nashville is full of talented writers.

Would you write or record with an artist outside the Christian genre and if so, whom?

Yes, absolutely. And if I had a dream artist living or gone that I could collaborate with, that’s an easy one: Gregg Allman. I’ve been a fan for years. His voice was simply incredible.

You’ve had a great year and topping it off, your album has been nominated for a Grammy. How do you follow that up?

I try to not get caught up in awards and accolades, so I don’t think about it that way, although it’s an extreme honor to be nominated for a Grammy, and I’ll be there.

But, looking forward, if God wants me to just come home and work in a church, than that’s what I’d do. But, for next year I’m just going to continue to work hard, keep writing and hope that anyone that hears my music or comes to a show will also see the message of Christ in me. That’s all I ask for.

CHRI’s Current #1 Song Has an Important Message

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Videos