from our hearts

Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

The online photography community has been a blessing to me in many ways. I have been able to meet people from all over the world that I would otherwise never know.  I believe each friendship is not by chance, but through God’s provision and plan. One of those special friends is Ashley Meiners Wilson. We have gotten to know each other in a beautiful way over the past year.  I am grateful for our conversations and friendship.

Last week, Ashley suddenly and unexpectedly lost her husband Jon. He left behind Ashley and two young children.  In December, Ashley did a beautiful tribute to her husband as part of our 10 on 10 project.  You can see her amazing work and love for Jon  here.

A group of 28 photographers have come together to show Ashley our love and support.  In times like this there are so few words that seem enough, but we wanted her to know how much we love her and that we are standing behind her.  You can find out how you can help and see our collaboration here. 

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  • Debbie Wibowo - Such a beautiful tribute. All the pictures convey so much love and peacefulness.ReplyCancel

kaleidoscope | march

Last year I became friends with a very special group of ladies and participated together in a 10 on 10 project.  This year we wanted to continue to do a project together, but wanted to do something a little different.  Our new project is called Kaleidoscope.

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Kaleidoscope  is derived from the Ancient Greek (kalos), “beautiful, beauty” (eidos), “that which is seen: form, shape” and (skopeo), “to look to, to examine.”  Hence “observation of beautiful forms.

We are a group of friends, moms, visual artists and photographers from around the world who are passionate about capturing images of the real, the messy and the magical-the wonder of the everyday.  Like a kaleidoscope, our photographs are playful and experimental, ever-changing and infused with light and colour.  Once a month, we assemble a single mosaic comprised of our collective pictorial tiles, one submitted by each of us, that reflect the shared meaning and beauty in our lives.

This month I captured an afternoon strawberry picking. This is one of our favorite Spring Break traditions.  This local farm is such a sweet place to visit. I am always in such surprise over how cheap the berries are when you pick them. The girls favorite part is getting to eat as we pick. I love these special family memories.

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  • melissa - yearning for summer to arrive even more now…but at least i felt warmth while viewing these. :) what a fun afternoon! those strawberries look perfectly sweet and juicy, i’m pretty sure my face and shirt would look like that, too! ;) ReplyCancel

  • ali deck - What a perfect spot to hang out and take pictures!! I love the feel of these, makes me long for warm weather. It has been so amazing to watch your babies grow before my eyes, they and your work is gorgeous. xoReplyCancel

  • Jenna Reich - Ginger, I love these so much! We had a strawberry patch in our backyard when I was a kid and I remember every Easter making strawberry shortcake with the ones we picked. Such a great tradition! And of course, lovely photos. That one of your oldest daughter is striking!ReplyCancel

  • Jackie Tyghem - I love it! I can remember picking strawberries with my mother & grandmother when I was a little girl..and I would eat them too :) lol These are precious..the one image of your oldest in the boots, perfect. xoReplyCancel

rainy morning bowling

It was Monday of Spring Break and it was raining, so we decided to head to the bowling alley with some of the cousins and Aunt Katie. What a fun and chaotic time we had together. The bowling alley doesn’t have the best lighting and some of these images missed focus, yet, somehow they come together to tell the story so well. One of the things I am trying to embrace more often is imperfection. I want to save the snapshots in addition to the more polished pictures, because this is life right now.

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Please head on over to the Cherish this Day blog to see the everyday beauty captured in the lives of some very talented  and special ladies.

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It’s almost been three months since I started the Joy Project; my own version of a project 365.  As someone who has always captured the beauty of every day, I don’t feel like I am picking up my camera more; yet there have still been some valuable observations.

I am really trying to embrace imperfections and messy. I am not necessarily meaning this about life, but about the way I capture our life. Life can definitely be disheveled; often out of order and filled with highs and lows on any given day. I really want to look back on my pictures and be able to relive these moments. I want to be able to feel the days as I do now and to see them years from now with the same fresh eyes I see them with today. This is increasingly more important than a perfectly composed or exposed image.

We are surrounded by family with cousins always in and out of our home and yard. Our home is often loud and chaotic with children interacting and playing.  At other times it is quiet and calm filled with snuggles and intimate conversations.  Most days are slow and savored as we spend them learning about life, playing, and just being together. It is so important to me to teach our children the value of relationships within and outside of our home. To make time for each other and others and not let the busy paced world that surrounds us seep in and take over.

I want to be able to accurately capture the childhood I see my children living. This unique and ever so special season of life is one I thank God for daily. I want to look back on my images and feel the connection to them that I do now.  I feel like each frame I capture is its own note of thanksgiving that I can never find accurate words to express. I don’t want to forget anything about these days and this project reminds me of that constantly. I want to hold these memories and remember each of the details without fail.

I look forward to the growth I will stumble upon as I continue this project in the months ahead.

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You can see more from the Joy Project here.

 

  • before dinner | Ginger Unzueta Photography - […] (see more images from this night and some thoughts on the Joy Project here) […]ReplyCancel

  • Cate Wnek - I love your sentiments here Ginger, and the memories you captured. So true, I feel like I am there. Imperfection is such a beautiful thing!ReplyCancel

  • melissa - this is life…and it’s beautiful! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • kathleen - oh, wow! i love your style. you capture life, so real in all of its imperfect beauty. thanks for the inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne - Wow. My sister sent me your link. I have gone from picture to picture and blog post to blog post. I am in LOVE with your JOY project (365). I am not a photographer. I am a homeschool mom and lover of Jesus. I write often. Since the beginning of the year I have been praying about how to honor the Lord with my writing. I have been praying for longer than that on how to leave a legacy for my children. As I looked at your photos, with tears in my eyes, I knew the Lord was speaking to my heart. Often I write for others, trying to get them to understand topics. Often heavy topics. As I read your notes/captions for your children – it just hit me like a ton of bricks. ALL I want to do is bring God glory, love my husband and children well and impact eternity and each of them for HIM. Thank you for stirring inside of me a longing that I had forgotten and could NOT explain to myself. I am so excited that you inspired me. I am so excited to see how God is going to change my writing! Thank you!ReplyCancel

Everyday Beauty | Student Reviews

The third class of my Everyday Beauty workshop with The Bloom Forum just wrapped up. I am so grateful for each student that has seen something in my work and signed up to be a part of this class.  It is a gift to get to know them each on a personal level and have a glimpse into their world . I always feel inspired as our time together comes to an end.  I love to see their growth, their excitement, and their love for photographing the every day blossom. Today, I would like to share the work from some of the  students in my July and January classes. Thank you all for the friends you have each become. It was such an honor to get to have this time together.

Amy Nowak

Facebook | Blog

The minute I first saw one of Ginger’s images online, I knew I had to find a way to learn from her.  I quickly emailed her and found out that she was teaching the EverydayBeauty class through the Bloom Forum.   I was so lucky to be able to have an active seat in her July workshop, and she taught me so much more than just how to take pictures and find the beauty in everyday.   I love her heart and soul more than anything.  She pours her heart into teaching and her photographs- sharing with us her children, her faith, and her passion for motherhood, family, and capturing the beauty that surrounds us every day.  I could look at her images all day long because I just see so much love in all of them.  That is what I wanted to be able to do.  Ginger taught me how to shoot with more than just my camera.  She taught me to shoot with my heart.   She taught me how to “see” the light.  And as she would say…”even in the darkness.”  She taught me that we are all on our own journey, that we all can tell our story, and that even those small, mundane moments are important and gone before we know it.  It is in these small moments that I have begun to find the real beauty within my family.  I realize that to capture these times is making me a better mother and a more fulfilled person.  I  now feel like I am now part of a very special group of women in photography that has been blessed by Ginger’s gift of teaching.    I can not thank Ginger enough for opening my eyes to Everyday Beauty.  It has been such a blessing for me and my whole family, and I know that years down the road, they will look at these images and be able to drift back into their childhood.  They will be reminded that there are simple moments in life that shaped who they are, and it is these moments that will be cherished and treasured the most.

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Carey Pace

Facebook | Blog

From day one in my photographic journey, I’ve taken “everyday” type images.  Documenting the reality of my children’s lives was always my goal, and has always been all I’ve ever done.  It’s just “all I know.”  However, as artists, there is always room to learn, grow, and evolve our art.  I took Ginger’s workshop hoping to learn a thing or two for my ongoing project of photographing my kids in a beautiful, memorable way.  On the other side of the workshop now, I sit, utterly blown away.  I feel like it is THE best class or workshop I’ve ever taken.

A huge portion of photography is seeing the light and learning to utilize it to create the art you see in your mind.  Ginger touches on that certainly, but the large goal of this workshop is the other portion of photography — seeing what to actually include in the image.  Whether you are someone who has never attempted to take documentary, real life images of your family or someone who has never done anything but, you will walk away from this workshop changed.

She walks you through seeing your children, your home, your life environment through the eyes of a documentarian, and teaches you how to compose and create images that reflect your reality in beautiful ways.  Every lesson and assignment are accompanied with myriad examples, to solidify the written concepts for the visual learners out there (which I suspect a lot of photographers are).  My biggest takeaway from this workshop is becoming much more intentional, purposeful about my compositions.  I’m always photographing, but participating in these assignments and lessons has given me new eyes for how to create my work.  If you are someone who doesn’t know where to begin in trying to create lifestyle photography for your own family, this workshop is a gold mine.

On top of all that, Ginger is one of the most kind and genuine souls I’ve ever known.  She takes her role as teacher incredibly seriously.  She truly wants all of us to learn to photograph our own family beautifully as she does her own.  I appreciate someone who does what they say they are going to do.  Forum posts are made on time, everyone is given thorough, thoughtful, constructive yet encouraging feedback, everything is organized clearly, formatted nicely, etc.  Ginger goes the extra mile for everything.  In today’s world, this stands out.  I could not recommend this workshop more highly.

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Camille Vaughan

Facebook 

Ginger Unzueta and the “Everyday Beauty” workshop was beyond inspiring.  It was obvious from the beginning that Ginger put her heart and soul into this workshop and she wanted to make sure we all walked away seeing life and our surroundings differently.  I have a new understanding of finding the light in my home, not forgetting the details and most importantly capturing and telling the story of my children’s life.  I truly feel like my photography grew by leaps and bounds in those two short weeks.  I also loved how Ginger created such an uplifting learning environment.  She kept the workshop very interactive and the other huge bonus were the new friends that I walked away with that share the same passion I have for photography.

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Cindy Cavanagh

Facebook | Blog

I was privileged  to participate in the “everyday beauty” workshop in July. The information Ginger provided was easy to understand and was complimented by her beautiful images. The attention to detail that she pays to her images shined through during the workshop. No question was left unanswered and her critiques were honest and helpful.
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Hope Davis

Facebook | Blog

Ginger’s workshop goes right along with so many personal projects I am currently working on. I wanted to share one of Chris and Carson I captured yesterday. Carson was having a hard time saying goodbye to his daddy who was getting ready to leave for a mission trip to Haiti. I’m sure I would have missed this tender moment if it wan’t for Ginger’s assignment. I can’t thank you enough Ginger for opening my eyes to everyday moments right in front of me.

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Maria Manco

Facebook | Blog

I am SO glad that I signed for this class.  I am no stranger to taking photos of my child – I have tons.  But this class has helped me to start approaching photography with my heart and think about what is important to me and what details I want to remember forever.   She leads with lots of examples and more than just showing the photo she explains the why – why did she want to remember a certain moment, why did she choose her camera settings, etc.  It was really insightful and inspiring.  We had lessons on finding the light in your own home, composition, perspective, details, story telling, and more.  Ginger is encouraging in her critiques while still making suggestions on things to try or think about for next time.   Thank you so much Ginger for a wonderful class and a great experience.  I feel recharged about WHY I love photography so much – to remember how life feels at this moment.

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Janet Crouch

Facebook | Blog

I first heard Ginger Unzueta’s name while I was taking my first Finding the Light workshop.  Praises rang out from numerous participants about her amazing talent as a photographer as well as her faith and character.

Always searching for inspiration, I looked her up and immediately fell in love with her work!  Her images of her family are stunning and real and I was excited to learn that she was teaching the Everyday Beauty workshop on The Bloom Forum.  I could hardly wait to sign up because I, too, wanted to be able to capture the same mystique that drew me to her website over and over.
The Everyday Beauty workshop became more to me than just a collection of beautiful photographs.  Aside from the many talented photographers I connected with, Ginger taught me how to be true to myself by being able to focus more on enjoying my family and cherishing the times we’re together as I capture the memories that we experience.
There were lessons on lighting and composition, and the importance of being camera-ready; connecting with your subject and capturing details.  Although all of this had been considered at some time or another, Ginger had a way of teaching these concepts, and so much more, by blending them together with personal photographs and inspiration.  I never dreamed I could gain so much from a two week workshop!  It was life changing!
As a grandmother, I would encourage not only young mothers, but mothers of all ages to pick up your camera, take this workshop, and be prepared to view your life and your family in a refreshing new way!
Thank you, Ginger, for spending so much of your time working with this class and for sharing your wealth of knowledge, faith, and friendship.
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Rachel McCalley

Facebook | Blog

What draws me back to Ginger’s work time after time is the way that she is able to capture small moments with her children.  You can actually FEEL how much she loves them in her photographs. When I saw that Ginger was hosting a second “Everyday Beauty” workshop this summer with the Bloom Forum, I could not wait to sign up and begin to learn how to do this in my own photography.

The workshop was AMAZING!  Her critiques were so helpful, always giving me positive yet constructive feedback.  She pushed me both technically and creatively and helped me to try things that I’d always admired in other people’s work but never thought I could do with light.  But most importantly, she helped us to find the beauty in the everyday, the ordinary moments and she taught us to tell stories through our photographs.

And for that, I will be forever grateful.

A friend of mine commented on a photo I posted a few weeks ago.  She said, “You always capture such emotion in your photographs.”  It was probably the nicest compliment I have ever received.  And truth be told I don’t always capture it.  But since taking Ginger’s workshop, I can tell you it’s what I strive for every time I click the shutter.

XO ~Rachel McCalley

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Jin Van Stee
I am so grateful for your wonderful class! The class really inspired me to open my eyes and see the beauty around me. The perspectives, the details, the light, and most of all the connections. Your lessons and photographs are genuine and insightful. I not only picked up on a couple of technical tips but more importantly the gospel behind lifestyle photography – its beauty, its truth, and its soul. 
I have a few favorite images from the class… but I think this one is up there. I wouldn’t have caught it, in the way I did, if not for the class!
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Bethani Giannini

Facebook | Blog

I so loved this class.  The Everyday Beauty class is just that- It taught me how to capture the beauty of my everyday life so that I can remember and cherish those special in between moments in the years to come.   This class taught me how to see and slow down – the little moments of everyday life are some of the most important to capture.  How do you want to remember your life?  What may seem mundane today will be beautiful to you tomorrow, if you’re not aware of it already.  Take this class.  It will change how you look at your everyday.  Not only will you capture those moments, but you will appreciate them more.  Ginger will help you learn to tell a story through your images, to document, and to reinforce the saying “Enjoy the little things in life.  For someday you will realize they were the big things.”

 

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Michelle Shumaker
I just finished “Everyday Beauty” with Ginger Unzueta…and wow!  Where should I begin?  I had made my New Year’s Resolution to explore lifestyle photography.  This class started the 3rd week of January…perfect timing. I have always admired Ginger via Facebook and couldn’t wait for this class to start.  I love photography, but I was stuck in a rut of posed pictures….too much planning and directing.  I was making photography a chore for my kids and even myself sometimes…longing for more emotion in my images (especially indoor).  After taking this class, I feel inspired.  I love the everyday moments…capturing my kiddos as they are at this age, this moment in time.  I have a list right next to my computer of some of the lil’ things I want to remember about my kids at this time…hoping to capture these moments/lil’ quirks.  Like the image below of my son…he always has one sock off, and one sock on at home.  As soon as he gets home from school, he takes off a sock.  I want to remember this.  Thank you Ginger…this class was eye-opening and inspiring…there is beauty and emotion in the “everyday.”  We just have to stop looking so hard and see what is right in front of us.  No perfect outfits, or perfect houses, or perfect smiles….just kids being kids.
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Kerry Chea
We just wrapped up the Everyday Beauty workshop and as part of my final assignment, I brought my toddler and baby to the library.  I got home and reviewed the photos and while there were a fair share of technical imperfections – I found that I had never cared less!  The photos brought such a huge smile to my face, and suddenly I realized what the true gift of Ginger’s teachings are.  I had signed up hoping to learn technical skills, but I’ve taken away so much more in terms of how to think about making memories from our daily lives.  Ginger packs the workshop with practical tips and inspiration from her own work, and creates a very supportive and responsive environment for learning; she is generous with her advice and enthusiasm, but also does not shy away from offering specific suggestions for improving your images.  Thank you Ginger for helping me focus on why I want to become a better photographer!
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Karen Montgomery
Ginger presents an amazing series of lessons and feedback that challenged not only the way I used my camera, but the way I looked at my day to day moments.  In such a short time, I began to capture real emotion in the pictures of my kids.  The growth of my photography and my style from this experience is unbelievable.  Ginger fosters a caring and safe forum for questions, critiques and feedback.  I would recommend this class to anyone who feels like they are constantly getting the same shot when they take pictures, want to capture true emotions of the moment and want to create photos that will preserve the moments we often overlook or forget, but are so important in the everyday!
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Jessie Oneal
I have been looking forward to taking Ginger’s Everyday Beauty Workshop for some time now. It appealed to me for so many reasons. The biggest was to see a little into Gingers mind and learn from her how to capture everyday moments in a beautiful lasting way.
The class outline covered more than I could have hoped for and was so inspiring. I especially appreciate her well thought out assignments as they kept me continuously pushing to look deeper and see things from a new perspective.
Thank you Ginger for sharing your amazing talent with us!
This class has been unforgettable.
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Chelsea Williams
This class was such an amazing experience! Ginger is so inspiring and it is such a treat to be able to get a glimpse into her world. Her critiques are so uplifting and very insightful! I see my life and my kids with such different eyes after this class. What a wonderful experience!
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Kim Kelly

If you are considering taking Ginger’s Everyday Beauty class do not hesitate, in  my opinion it is simply the best!  I feel that it has helped me out of my creative slump and finally find my style of photography!  I have taken many photography related online classes prior to this class and while I learned something in every class I never felt I could pinpoint my style of photography.  This class has given me direction and focus and also the courage to look at things from a different perspective. Ginger shares everything, I mean EVERYTHING,  with her students and you can tell she genuinely wants everyone to succeed.   After the first two modules I felt like I had my moneys worth because the lessons really made me stop in my tracks and reflect on what I wanted to do with my photography journey.  I realized that I needed to stop trying to do what I thought others wanted and start doing what I wanted.  I feel that this new direction will make me so much happier and I now have the confidence to make the steps necessary to get there.  The step by step building of lessons helped me develop a focus that I lacked before and also provided me with a plan for how I will arrange my future sessions.  Ginger is extremely honest in her critiques but sensitive at the same time, which allowed me to post questions freely and also share my work without feeling nervous.  In addition to Ginger the other workshop attendees offered great inspiration and support through the forum style of the class and I cant wait to follow all of them and see how we all grow.

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Ginger Lobb

Facebook | Blog

I was so excited to take this class. Ginger’s photography has been a huge inspiration to me for sometime now.  I love the emotion captured in her lifestyle images. I was at a place where I needed to be taken back to the reason I fell in love with photography. Being able to shoot for myself and feel good about my images is what I was looking for and I felt a great sense of confidence and pride in my pictures after taking this class.

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Holly Donovan 

Facebook | Blog

I received Everyday Beauty as my December birthday gift from my mom. I had no idea how much of a gift, in the end, it would be. This was my first workshop at the Bloom Forum, is was on the top of my ‘to do’ list for photography. I had admired Ginger’s work for months, I could go through her albums for ages. When I heard of the class I knew I had to take it and learn how she produced such inspiring and beautiful work. I could relate to her vision and was in awe at the small everyday moments she captured so perfectly. I started my first 365 a few weeks before, with the hope I would grow from this class and that it would help keep my motivation steady. What I wasn’t expecting was the level of personal attention from Ginger. All of her feedback was genuine and honest, and so much more than just a few words. She left me feeling good about work I turned in, even though there were days I knew it wasn’t my best. Her kind encouragement kept me shooting for my 365 during some very hard weeks at home, not to mention in our very cold climate where shooting everyday can feel like a chore. The techniques from the lessons in this class were exactly what I needed to gain to produce lifestyle images of my children at home. I thought I knew the basics, but I was missing so much. The workshop gave me all of the tools I needed going forward with capturing creativiely composed and meaningful memories and I use them every single day in my work. This class was exactly what I needed at the right time, shooting indoors can be a struggle and motivation can be my biggest challenge during the winter months. At the start of it, I had thought maybe I was taking it at the wrong time, but in retrospect, it was the perfect timing! I practice the lessons every time I pick up my camera. Ginger’s encouragement, kindness, wonderful CC was such a great bonus alongside all of the detailed material which included beautiful examples which were such a big help. Everyday Beaty was one of the best workshops I have taken to date, and that is saying ALOT! So grateful!

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Kaleidoscope | february

Last year I became friends with a very special group of ladies and participated together in a 10 on 10 project.  This year we wanted to continue to do a project together, but wanted to do something a little different.  Our new project is called Kaleidoscope.

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Kaleidoscope  is derived from the Ancient Greek (kalos), “beautiful, beauty” (eidos), “that which is seen: form, shape” and (skopeo), “to look to, to examine.”  Hence “observation of beautiful forms.

We are a group of friends, moms, visual artists and photographers from around the world who are passionate about capturing images of the real, the messy and the magical-the wonder of the everyday.  Like a kaleidoscope, our photographs are playful and experimental, ever-changing and infused with light and colour.  Once a month, we assemble a single mosaic comprised of our collective pictorial tiles, one submitted by each of us, that reflect the shared meaning and beauty in our lives.

I love seeing how each photographer sees her part of the world.  It is beautiful to see these images all together. Please be sure to head on over to our blog to see our Kaleidoscope for February.

This month my image came from a group of images from one afternoon on the lake with some of the cousins. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and the water was inviting.

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  • Jackie Tyghem - Ginger…can I please come live with you? I can feel the fun & the sun through your images. Your blessed to have your children grow up on the lake – its the best! They will forever have wonderful memories of this time!!!! Beautiful pictures.ReplyCancel

  • melissa - relaxed and happy…i always feel that way when i visit you here. xoReplyCancel

  • ali deck - OH the light Ginger!! These are spectacular my friend! They give me such a warm and inspiring feeling….and depressing with our continual snow fall up here in the north!! I’m coming down with Jack. ;) ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - Oh Ginger…these are beautiful…and so carefree. They speak to my summer and water loving heart. Next reunion is in Florida on your coast! XOReplyCancel

  • Bethany Giannini - Hi Ginger!! I second what Jackie said! ;) I always love seeing your photos. Thanks for sharing some sunshine! I’ll take any kind I can get here in Michigan ;) ReplyCancel

  • rowe - what gorgeous memories to capture! i still remember time spent with cousins so clearly… those long days and endless giggles are memories i will cherish forever! how i would love to have more photos of those days… beautiful! florida winters look a lot like the weather here in bali! how blessed are we…ReplyCancel

  • Lissa - I love these Ginger! Your work never disappoints!ReplyCancel

a fun start to reading

Today on the Creative Mama I am sharing a bit about a new curriculum we are using to introduce letters to our 4 year old.   It has been such a great fit for her so far as we continue to combine art with introducing letters.  One of our first activities was using finger painting to create the letter A.

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Head on over the the Creative Mama to read more about this curriculum.

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How do I love you? Let me count the days

I am really excited to share  with you a very special project I was invited to take part in for the month of February.  You can read here how this awesome idea by Davina Fear got started.  There were 25 total contributors who each gave ideas on how to bring more love and connection to the everyday.

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All of the ideas were combined to create a wonderful e-book.

Here is a sneak peek at the e-book. My contribution is idea #11.  I loved reading through the ideas and thinking of little ways that we can continue to slow down and let those around us know how much they are loved and how important they are to us.

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If you would like a free copy of this inspiring e-book please go here.

  • Meg - Just sent you my email for this! ThanksReplyCancel

  • Davina - Ginger! Thank you so much for being part of this project. I’m so grateful for your idea. Saying yes actually ends up being easier than constantly saying no. There’s so much happier energy that seems to come from ‘yes.’ You are wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Christine b - looking forward to getting a copy of this book, you are so generous with your heart Ginger! Thank you!!ReplyCancel

living with grace

A couple weeks ago my four year old daughter went to the dentist and we were told that she had a cavity and possibly two. She is our third child and the first one to have a cavity. I got in the car and immediately my eyes filled with tears. I realize that you may think I am crazy, but I am going to continue to put myself out there and share this story. You might very well be asking yourself why I would cry over something like this. My husband didn’t even really understand my tears, but ultimately I felt like I failed her.

I knew the reality of her being our third child; things have been much more relaxed. She got juice and treats at a much younger age. In addition, when we started homeschooling a few years ago, our nighttime routine got a bit relaxed. I wanted relaxed, don’t get me wrong, but it was almost to a fault. My husband’s schedule for the past few years has been very demanding. He gets home late and travels often.  Homeschooling allows for a more flexible lifestyle and one of the things we have cherished is that the kids can have this time with Dad whenever he gets in for the night. This means that many nights there have been late bedtimes, in exchange for time with Daddy. With the late bedtimes, came a lack of routine; which at times included baths that were missed and teeth that were not brushed. After spending the entire day blaming myself for the cavities, I decided that there had to be a happy medium between a strict night time schedule and no routine. We immediately began implementing a routine at night again that was flexible but consistent. The story doesn’t end here.

As recommended, last week we followed up with the pediatric dentist.  I was in complete shock to find out that her x-rays showed that she not only has multiple cavities, she needs to get a crown put on one of her teeth. Feelings of failure and inadequacy overcame me.  I questioned all my abilities as a mother. I became upset and frustrated all over again. It was truly a spiral of emotions. I was so sad that my four year old would have to go through the hours of sedation and work to get her teeth repaired.  And I was sad thinking of her with a silver cap on her baby tooth for the next 8 plus years. And sadly, I thought to myself, what will other people think.

I left the office and called my mother in tears. All I could think about was what I must have done wrong as a mother. It was later brought to my attention that her having been born prematurely could have attributed to her having all these dental problems. The reality is, it may not have been a factor, but this really got me thinking.  My frustration and disappointment turned into joy and thanksgiving. She was born prematurely yet she has had zero health problems since birth. She spent less than two weeks in the NICU and she is so full of life and love. This was one of the first things we have faced since leaving the NICU over four years ago and I should be counting my blessings.

I started to really find perspective. Then I began to think of grace and perceptions. This is when I felt God’s whisper in my ear. This is when I knew I had so much to learn from all of this. I needed this reminder of how frail we each are.

Admittedly, I worried about what people would think of me as a parent when they saw my daughter’s silver tooth and I became defensive immediately. I didn’t let her drink soda or sweet tea or eat junk all day long. I had not been good about insisting her teeth were brushed twice daily, but I didn’t completely neglect them either.  I kept battling these feelings back and forth in my head. As I sat there worrying about what people would think, I became very convicted of my own tendencies to question parents.

I began to think about how we never really know the story of mothers, children, or anyone we see from afar. I am certain there are even people we think we know, but we truly don’t.  Perhaps you have heard the mom that is yelling across the parking lot at her children and think you’d never do that. Or you see the obese child at the store and think shame on the parents for feeding him/her the wrong foods. Maybe, you’ve seen the child in the store yelling or hitting their mother. Or perhaps you know the child that gets in trouble all the time at school or church. I could go on and on with examples; but you think that would never be you. You think, that would never be my child. Or perhaps, it has been you or your child. Perhaps, you have felt this unfair judgment that hurts deep inside because people do not know your whole story.

Each of us do the best we can as parents to our children, but no matter what our best is, we have to realize we are going to fall short.  Most often I am doing so much on my own, as many other mothers are and I am worn out and tired by the end of the day. We need to give ourselves and each other grace. I know for sure our home is a place filled with love and togetherness. Isn’t that the most important thing?  I have to let go of this idea of perfect. I have to let go of worrying about messing up and accept the fact that I will mess up. Yes, it is okay to strive to do better or make changes, but not giving ourselves grace is a problem. I don’t think I am the only person who struggles with this. The more children we have, the more aware of this I have become.

I don’t want to be a mother that ever judges or challenges other mothers; even if it is only in my thoughts. I see so much of the so-called “mommy wars” too often, especially with the prevalence of social media. I read and see these battles everywhere. I hear the bold messages loud and clear and I can hear the implied messages just as loud. Motherhood is hard enough as it is; we don’t need to judge others or ourselves. I may make choices you would never make and vice versa,  but we should affirm one another; or at the very least not judge someone for being different.

Sadly, I have been the person who was judgmental in my thinking. I had this idea of how life should look or I thought I did. I thought I would always have it together as a mother, but the more children I have the more I realize how messy life will get some times. God has shown me time and time again, how much I need His grace.  I have learned how beautiful messy can be.  And as the dentist explained to me,  I will tell my daughter how beautiful her “silver tiara” is. I don’t ever want her to think she is anything less than enough. I don’t ever want her to think that she is flawed. She is perfect just the way God designed her. I want her to know this now and always. I know this is only one small baby step in demonstrating grace to my children and myself. There will be so many things we experience together, far more serious than a silver crown, and now is the time to lay down the foundation.

I pray that I will continue to grow on this journey of motherhood and that God will continue to mold me into the person He has planned. And I pray that along this road I can encourage others to do this as well. I pray that we can all begin to accept our own shortcomings and the shortcomings of those around us. Most of all, I pray that we can share the love of Christ with all those we are around.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

As I look at this picture I am reminded of what a blessing these children are. I will certainly fail them at some point, but I will continue to do my best to let them know they are always loved.

grace for the mama | ginger unzueta

 

  • Jan - This is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • ginger - Jan, thank you so much for commenting.ReplyCancel

  • Candice Craig - Hi Ginger! I have been following you quietly for about a year now. Love your images and love your heart better! I actually had 4 silver caps in the front when I was 5. Yep- I called it the silver grill. I was really sick as a child & they said all the antibiotics ruined my teeth. Anyhoo I laugh at it now as an adult and know it wasn’t my mother’s fault. Thank you for sharing this post. I agree with you. We all need a little more grace & need to give it a little more freely as well! God blessReplyCancel

    • ginger - Candice, thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. It is amazing to me how God can use something so small to really challenge my heart, but He did and I am thankful. Too often, I let the feelings of “not enough” take over, and this is not anywhere the way God designed any of us to be. Couple that with the feeling like others are watching you and forming opinions and it can build up. I am grateful to know God’s love is abundant and full of grace and hopefully I can share this with my children and others around me.ReplyCancel

  • Maria - Coming from the child that had SEVERAL silver caps on her teeth as a child….I came out of it pretty ok :) However, I can still relate. After our last trip to the dentist, he informed us that Katherine not only needs braces, but HEAD GEAR and a palette extender…a several year process! Imagine my thoughts! I felt right away that it was due to her being a paci baby, many times balancing 2 in her mouth so if one fell out, she could flip the other in. I knew it wasn’t good but it allowed everyone to get a solid night’s sleep. Come to find out later, after being filled with guilt, it wasn’t due to the pacis at all. He said she has a severe UNDER bite, not over bite which can be caused by excessive paci use. He said if anything it would have helped a little. Bottom line is, we have healthy children that don’t have to go for weekly chemo treatments…I’ll trade that any day for weekly dental appts. This won’t be the first or the last feelings of guilt as a mother. Great post and a good reminder to be thankful for life’s blessings.ReplyCancel

  • Sara - Oh, I get this so much. My husband doesn’t always under the deep sense of personal responsibility I feel for my children’s health (and, well, everything else about their well-being and development too). Our son had a speech delay that I blamed myself for because I thought maybe I didn’t talk to him enough as a baby. Then someone pointed out that it was probably neurological and nothing I did or didn’t do, and I still blamed myself because then I thought – what did I allow myself to be exposed to during my pregnancy that affected his brain development? (At four, he’s doing fantastic and I honestly believe he’ll be completely caught up by the time he starts kindergarten). Us mamas are very good at being hard on ourselves. You are so spot on that we need to give ourselves grace – and other mothers. Last week, a friend on Facebook posted about how she told a mother in the grocery store not to tell her child to shut up. And she’s right – parents should be using kinder language with their kids. But sometimes we have horrible days and we make mistakes. The judgmental conversation that ensued on Facebook in response to this person’s post made me feel so bad for this mother that none of them even knew. How do we know she or her husband didn’t lose her job that day? How do we know she didn’t just learn her sister has breast cancer? How do we know she didn’t go home that night and ask her child for forgiveness – ultimately teaching the child a great lesson about making mistakes and admitting them?

    Thank you for this great reminder to give ourselves and all mothers the grace that is needed.ReplyCancel

  • Jamie - Oh ginger! Beautifully written and you are such a sweet momma! My three year old has a cavity. I beat myself up about it as well. She actually doesn’t get juice, just water and I always was a stickler for brushing and such. She must have just gotten my bad teeth. But I also feel like I have done something wrong. Still do. And I just do no want to sedate her. So that is heavy on my heart. Think we are going to baby it and see how it goes. Thank you for this post. For this reminder. You have such a beautiful talent for capturing special moments and also writing about them.

    XoReplyCancel

  • Karie - Ginger, your words are just as beauitful as all your photographs. Bless your heart for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - Being a mom is so hard, and I too find myself trying to point my finger at myself for things that aren’t perfect in our children. Thanks for sharing your heart. It was very encouraging. I know how it must be difficult to accept the crown on your sweet girl’s tooth. Your dentist gave you some great coping tools though– and you’re such a great mom, you will do amazing when the time comes. Hang in there!ReplyCancel

  • Shari S - Very well said Ginger! Totally agree.ReplyCancel

  • Parikha - I’m so impressed by how you were able to turn your own thinking around here – motherhood is so fraught with feelings of guilt, it can be really challenging to pull ourselves out of that rut and see things clearly. Your babies are clearly well loved and cared for, Ginger; a little extra sparkle in her smile will never do anything to diminish that. <3ReplyCancel

  • jude - “there isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.” -mary lou Kownacki

    thank you for sharing Ginger so openly.

    i have to tell you a funny story. when my first baby was 3 months old, and we all went out to supper with my sister with her SIL too. her SIL had 2 young girls every close in age. i remember her arriving at the restaurant and her youngest girl had a massive rats nest in the back of her hair. she was sitting there in the lobby trying to comb it out. i was taken back by this. here i was sitting there with first child all dressed up and hair done in bows and clips (she was born with a mop full. lol) –fast forward about 4 years and i had 3 under the age of 5. including 2 girls with mops of hair that barely get combed, oh if i am lucky once a week. any time my children are out in public they pretty much look like ragamuffins. i don’t think people mean too judge, it is just a lack of knowing better. i find anytime i have it sure comes around full circle. i have to laugh tho. i have given up worrying what other people think. my kids are loved and fed and the grooming part continues to be a challenge to this date. one day they will learn to comb their hair on their own and brush their teeth without intervention. one day.ReplyCancel

  • nikki m - Ginger, you continue to inspire me on a daily basis – your words and your images. You are truly a beautiful person, and I am thankful to know you. <3ReplyCancel

  • stacie youngblood - I love these small reminders not to judge other moms (even in your head) and to find grace in our own perceived failings. I think as moms we are too hard on ourselves (and each other) and finding empathy for others and compassion for ourselves is a gift worth embracing. Thanks for sharing both your words and images.ReplyCancel

  • i love you | Ginger Unzueta Photography - […] on the blog I share a little bit more about grace and […]ReplyCancel

  • April Burns - Thank you so much for sharing, you are such a thoughtful caring person and an amazing mother! You are such an inspiration to others, I hope that you know this. Thank you for being so genuine, xoxoxoxoReplyCancel

  • Sara - Ginger,

    Your words are prefection to my confused mama soul. I too, wonder what people will think. I wonder this more than I would like to admit. From my choice to have four children and leave a large footprint on this earth…to my choice to work full time outside of the home…while doing my best to raise my babies. In the end, we all did he best we could. We’re doing the best we can. Yes, we need more grace. And love. And tolerance. Thank you for your words.ReplyCancel

  • stacy k - Oh, Ginger … thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your heart. I can relate in so many ways.ReplyCancel

  • laughter | Ginger Unzueta Photography - […] arm Tuesday night while playing on the porch with you and Big Sissy. The next morning you had your dentist work completed. The following day we a follow up with the pediatric orthopedic doctor to look at […]ReplyCancel

  • Bethany Giannini - This is beautifully written, Ginger. I am not a mother myself (yet, hopefully) but I hope to be the kind of mother you are striving to be. “I have learned how beautiful messy can be.” This reminds me of “The Ugly Beautiful” in 1000 Gifts (book).

    Thank you for opening yourself up and sharing this.ReplyCancel

summer in january

This week we  enjoyed a beautiful, warm and breezy January day. We packed up our school books and headed out to do our school in the fresh air. We ended up spending the entire day outside. These are the best kind of days.

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  • Life with Kaishon - I am SO happy for you, Ginger! Everyone needs some sun! : )
    The kids are adorable.
    I want to hug them…even with all the mud!
    Cute. Cute. Cute!ReplyCancel

  • Chelsea - Ginger- You are seriously one of the best photographers I’ve ever seen! You have such talent! Wow!
    And those kids…well, they’re just too cute I can barely stand it!ReplyCancel

  • Bethany Giannini - Ginger, I love the story your images tell. You capture life so beautifully. Looking forward to your class tomorrow on Bloom!ReplyCancel

Hand’s Free Mama | a giveaway

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Stafford online and have enjoyed getting to know her so much.  Her heart is full of love and compassion and she is on a mission to share her story in hopes of encouraging other mamas.  This month she released her first book : The Hand’s Free Mama :A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!   I was sent two copies of this book early to review and have decided to give one of the copies away.   In complete honesty, I have not had the chance to read the entire book yet, but hope to sit down with it very soon.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of this book, please share this post somewhere (your blog, twitter, facebook, instagram), and comment below where you have shared.   The contest will close Sunday, January 12 at 11:59 pm. (one entry per person).

You can read some of the first reviews on the book here.

hands free mama

a little Christmas break fun

I love Christmas time.   When we began homeschooling I decided we would always take the month of December off of school so we could really slow down and enjoy family time during this month.  We have had lots of fun doing Christmas activities, crafts, and baking the past couple of weeks    Then there are the times in between the Christmas fun where the kids can just play and relax and well, just enjoy being kids.  Yesterday afternoon was one of those.  Love these images of our girls just having fun.

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  • Laura Morita-Yeun - You, my friend, are blessed. And I love that you know it. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Life with Kaishon - I love every single thing about these pictures. Happiness and joy abound. BEAUTIFUL!ReplyCancel

  • mindy - I would love to know the color you have on the wall. Just getting ready to have my girls share a room and this color is perfect!ReplyCancel

mickey’s very merry Christmas and letting go a little at a time

This week we went on our annual trip to Walt Disney World’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It is a fun night that we spend with our children and their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.   It has been such a special Christmas tradition since we moved home to Florida.   The kids love the beautiful lights, the fake snow, and the hot chocolate stands scattered throughout the park.

I am the mom, the photographer, that takes my “big camera” everywhere.   I rarely leave it at home. I love capturing the everyday beauty of my children and to be honest, I am not confident using the camera on my phone.  A couple of weeks ago I read an article at the Creative Mama, by Courntey Keim entitled Giving Up and Enjoying my Kids.  In this wonderful article Courtney talks about her recent trip to Disney without her camera.   Admittedly, as I read her article I didn’t think it really applied to me, but I thought it was really cool to read about her experience.  (I kept thinking that I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything by taking my camera with me on previous trips to Disney.  And I only ever took one lens.  And I gave up posing my children long ago.)  But, there was something  about her words that kept coming back in my head as we prepared to pack for our trip.   I am so grateful that she shared her own experience and I started thinking that maybe I would try this notion of “leaving my camera at home.”  I realized this will NOT be our only time to Disney (we are blessed to live very close) and the time we spent at the park would be dark (so I wouldn’t be missing out on golden hour at Disney images).  I have taken it with us most every other trip we made to Disney and some of those trips I only took a few images, yet I had lugged my heavy camera around for hours .

Well, I did it.  I left my camera at home and guess what? I loved every minute of the night. I felt a new sort of freedom and even a challenge having only my phone camera. Yes, there are a few images, I know I would have LOVED to use my “real camera” for, but it really wasn’t missed.  I never had to worry about taking my camera on rides or having someone hold it for me.  And I have to agree, without my camera there, I was able to be engaged fully in more of the moments instead of doing all I could to preserve them for the future. I found that one of the biggest advantages of only using my phone was I have all of my photos edited from the night and have enjoyed looking at them since the trip.  I didn’t spend time at home sifting through tons of images and then editing them; I just accepted what I got (even the blurry and grainy images).  This is big for me. I am a perfectionist by nature but there are times I am learning to let go and simplify and it feels good.

Does this mean I won’t bring my camera next trip to Disney?   I can’t promise that, but I can say that next time I don’t have my camera with me, I am slowly learning that my phone can be a pretty good back up. I definitely still believe in capturing the everyday beauty of my children. I love being able to hold onto a little bit of today through photography,  but I am learning there are different ways I can do this.  I truly believe once you know your camera (a professional DSLR, a film camera, a point and shoot, or a phone camera) that you can efficiently capture your children, without missing life and the moments around you.   I do pick up my camera almost every single day, but I know when to set it back down, and continue with our living. This balance is essential.

For me there is so much more to this than simply what camera I chose to use this week. It is just one example of a way that I can let go a bit of expectations I put on myself.   I have been reading a book called Chose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough by Kay Warren.  In the book she talks about perfectionism and the expectations we set on ourselves.

I loved these words by the author:  ”The antidote to perfectionism is acceptance–acceptance of our earthly imperfections because we are focused on the day when imperfection will be no more. If I try to experience perfection here on earth, I will come up short every time. If I keep looking for perfection within myself, I will kill the joy in me.  You and I need to fire our inner critic! When I accept myself as I am instead of who I wish I was, when I accept those around me as they are, not only as I wish they were,  when I accept the world as it is, not as I wish it was, my joy in today as well as my hope for tomorrow can grow.”

These are quite powerful words indeed, especially if you can relate to this battle inside with your inner critic. There was a time when I honestly couldn’t have accepted images from a night I wanted to remember that were anything less than perfect in my eyes.  Today, I am trying to embrace all of the flaws and find a new kind of joy and peace through doing this.

very merry long

10 on 10 | the december edition

“How long does it take for your soul to recognize that your life is full? The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction. The body and soul can synchronize.” -Ann Voskamp

This year has been filled with many wonderful memories.  Countless afternoons have been spent in this same spot in our backyard. There have been so many lovely memories and conversations in this beautiful place.  Conversations with God, my husband, my children, family and friends.  I am so grateful to feel the fullness of life… to feel the love and true joy that surrounds me daily.  I am thankful to really understand why joy is so much more than happiness.  Kay Waren defines joy in a beautiful way in her book entitled Chose Joy: Happiness is Not Enough.  She says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”  It isn’t always easy to practice this way of living, but it is a place where I find a peace that I haven’t always known.  It is a place where I chose to believe that God truly has a plan for my life and I don’t need to fret over the details and the “what ifs”.   I just need to live in this moment today.  This place of joy, is something I have to chose daily to live for and it is something worth every effort lived.

December has been very warm this year, even for Florida.  I have loved our late afternoon and sunset evenings spent down by the lake.  I have used this time to relax and watch my children so content and free.  I have been able to observe and capture this amazing sun in all kinds of ways.  These pictures are full of sun and flare.  (There are even a few where the flare and sunburst did some pretty amazing things.)  If there is a possible way to capture the way Joy feels inside of me, these images would be close.  Something about the sun, the water, and my children come together in a special way.

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I have enjoyed working on this 10 on 10 project each month for the past year with a wonderful group of ladies.  I am so excited that we have decided to continue in 2014 with another project together. This group of women is something special; not only amazing photographers but beautiful friends.  I am so thankful for each one of them.  Please head on over to the blog of Rowe Timson ; she captures her adventurous life in the most gorgeous way.

  • 10 on 10 | December Edition - […] our circle of incredible ladies from all around the world and start with the amazing Ginger Unzueta . Her images are always so filled with GORGEOUS  light and […]ReplyCancel

  • Maria - aaahhh – so, do you take house guests in the “winter” down there in florida? haha! Love these photos. I can’t even fathom wearing a bathing suit outside in December up here!ReplyCancel

  • melissa - just like the sun, your heart is painted on every single image. love these (as always).ReplyCancel

  • Candy - Ahhh….beautiful, dripping light everywhere. Your photos are gorgeous. Jealous of your warm December!ReplyCancel

  • ashley - i love your pictures but i especially love how you always include words to remind me of the bigger picture. thank you so much for bringing all of us together, ginger!! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Bee - Dear Ginger. I can only hope we can meet in person one day. Maybe have a conversation in your backyard together. I love these pictures…they scream joy to me. You continue to be such an inspiration for me in so many ways.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Leimbach - You make me miss Florida even more… These are so wonderful, they make me fast forward 25 years when your kids are looking back at their lives. Most definitely they will say “I loved our times on the lake.”ReplyCancel

30 days of thanks 2013 | week 4

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

This is the final week of my 30 days of thanks project.  You can see the first three weeks : here, here and here.

Day 22/30

I see my daughter here running barefoot, seemingly carefree, and think that I should still be seeing a 3 year old. Where did the time go? She’s 9 now, actually halfway to ten, and I feel like this has been the year with so many questions. She’s right there….somewhere between childhood and teen…wondering about things around her, curious about what is to come. Some days I am really sad, I am, that my time with her (with all my children) goes by so quickly.

Today, I want to give thanks. For each day as a mother. Every phase has been as beautiful as the one before. I’ve learned so much along the way. Today I will celebrate the present and the conversations we now have, the bond we have built in these nine years. And once again, I thank God that I have been blessed with the gift of motherhood.

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Day 23/30

She gets lost in her world as she cares for her babies. She is their mama and they need her love and attention. I remember playing make believe for hours when I was a child. I am grateful for the gift of imagination…dolls, trains, blocks, forts; whatever form it may take. It is something special to create a world for even a moment that is just as you see it. What an amazing gift from our Creator.

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Day 24/30

There are certain friends in our lives that it doesn’t matter how often we see each other or how long it has been since our last visit, it always feels like no time has passed. With these friends there is a comfort and a peace just being in one another’s presence.

I am grateful for these special friendships. Today, I am thankful for a Saturday afternoon spent on the ranch filled with conversations that left me encouraged and inspired, for an afternoon of exploring and running wild in the open, and for friendships that I will always cherish.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

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Day 25/30

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons. -Unknown Author

I often watch my children and am filled with so much joy as I see them enjoying their childhood in such a special way. I feel so blessed that I can remember my own childhood filled with love and beautiful memories. I am so grateful for that time in my life. I feel blessed that I had two parents willing to do whatever it took to put family first.

As I have gotten older, I realize this is not always the case with others, and it breaks my heart. I wish that every child could have memories of being loved and happy. I will not take what I know for granted and pray to be able to give love and comfort to all those I am around.

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Day 26/30

I left my hometown for college when I was 17 and married my husband a little over a year after my college graduation. We then lived states away from our family for the next 12 years. I was the child who never went to summer camp, left home etc. The years away from my family taught me so much about myself, life and love.

I remember one Christmas we were all home and sitting around my parents’ dining room table talking about our thanksgivings and dreams. I will never forget my dad telling us that his dream was to have all four of his children and their families living back home together. I dreamed this too. I prayed for this, but didn’t think it was even a possibility for many more years.

I underestimated the power of our God, because in 2012 this became a reality. We are all living on the same street, raising our 8 children together. There is not a day I don’t thank God for this time in our life. I am so grateful for parents that really taught us that family is a priority. I am grateful for siblings I love and truly enjoy being around. And I am so grateful for these 8 children. I love having them in my home and hearing them all together. It is truly one of the greatest blessings of my life. I pray daily that when our Marine Corps orders come out in the Spring we are able to stay here until my husband retires, but I have faith no matter what God’s plan is, it will be wonderful. I continue to be grateful for each day we get to live with our family as our neighbors.

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Day 27/30

My mother n law is so much more to me than just my husband’s mother. She is honestly a second mother to me and I am so grateful to have her in my life. Her faith in God and her love of others is something I am inspired by daily.

I received a call from her the day I took this image. She had noticed my pots of flowers around the yard were empty or dead and she asked if I would mind if she bought some new flowers and came and spent some time planting. As most of you know, her plate is pretty full with her husband having Alzheimer’s, yet, she continues to give of herself and think of others. She serves with an open and loving heart and it is an inspiration to anyone around.

I am so grateful to be a part of this special family. My husband has three brothers and they each are loving, compassionate men. I am so thankful to have all of them and their families in my life. And I am so grateful my husband was raised in a home filled with so much love.

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Day 28/30

The process of shaping the child…shapes also the mother herself. Reverence for her sacred burden calls her to all that is pure and good that she may teach primarily by her own humble, daily example.
- Elisabeth Elliot

I began to see my parents so differently once I became a parent myself. I took so much for granted as a child. At the time, I didn’t appreciate all that my parents sacrificed for our family and I deeply regret that now.

I am so thankful to have had a mother who gave me such a beautiful example of motherhood through her own daily example. I never questioned if she would be there for me and I always knew I was loved. Family always came first in our home and it still does. I am so grateful for the love my parents share and the example they exemplify through over forty years of marriage. I am so thankful for my loving father who worked hard, so that my mother was able to stay home and be there to meet all of our needs. I always felt secure, safe, and taken care of and I believe this is important as a child. So much of what I know about being a parent, I learned from watching my own parents. I am thankful for their example.

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Day 29/30
My husband and I didn’t have children for almost 5 years after we got married. I remember those early years together. Saturdays were spent sleeping in followed by long afternoon naps. Then I remember having our first baby and I would sleep whenever I got the chance while she was sleeping. This became more rare with our second child, and a novelty when we had our third. It seems whenever I lay down to take a nap these days my mind wanders to what I should be doing and I don’t end up falling asleep.Sadly, a scheduled nap is no longer part of the daily routine for any of our children. Our youngest recently gave hers up when it seemed to make her stay up later and later at night. But I do love that when she needs her sleep, she usually finds a way to get it. That may be in the car, the sofa, the floor, or mama’s bed. You never know where you might find her taking a little snooze. Today I am thankful for naps. Yes, it is something so simple, but it can make a big difference in a day. It can turn everything around.

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Day 30/30

Thirty days hardly seem like enough to give thanks for the many ways God has blessed my life. As I look through the month of images, something is very evident. None of these blessings would be possible without Him. I am most grateful for the gift of Salvation and the life I have only through Jesus Christ.  As I think about all of the blessings in my life, one word comes to mind and that is grace.  Some days it is almost too much for me to understand;  the love He has for me, the way He accepts me just the way I am and the underserved blessings He lavishes on me. But this is our God and there is nothing more I could ever desire. Hillsong United’s song Scandal of Grace beautifully says what I struggle to find the words to share.

Grace what have you done
Murdered for me on that cross
Accused in absence of wrong
My sin washed away in your blood

Too much to make sense of it all
I know that your love breaks my fall
The scandal of grace
You died in my place
So my soul will live

day 30

“The practice of giving thanks…eucharisteo…this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” ― Ann Voskamp

  • Lacey Meyers - I’m in tears! Ginger, it has been a blessing to walk through these last 30 days with you. Seeing how you truly honor your family and our Savior by being so humbly thankful was a gift! I am thankful for you, for sharing and I sincerely hope you put all of these images and words together in an album of some sort! <3ReplyCancel

  • Kristi - Ginger,
    I’ve been a secret admirer of yours for a long time now. I love your photography and your words. I love your unabashed faith in God. Thanks for sharing this lovely project and shining bright with such a beautiful example of gratitude. xoReplyCancel

30 days of thanks 2013 | week 3

Take Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalms 37:4

This verse is such a lovely reminder to me each time I read it.  I find such comfort in these words.  I don’t read it and believe that God will give me everything I desire. No, I read this verse and realize that the more  I take delight in the Lord, the more I spend time with Him and seek His will for my life, the more my desires will be the same as His.

This is the third week of  my 30 days of thanks in pictures project.  You can go back and view week one here and week two here.   I really love this project and the way it causes me to slow down each day and think of the blessings in my life.

Day 15/30
I walked into the kitchen and found our youngest daughter in the refrigerator. This was not the first time that I have found her like this. This will probably not be the last time.It made me think. My oldest child would have never done this. My 2nd..perhaps, but if told no, he probably wouldn’t try again. My 3rd..she is the one that will “push the envelope”– will risk getting in trouble, to get what she wants. I am grateful for each of their different personalities. I love how they are all special and so unique.Today I will celebrate her independence and determined spirit.

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Day 16/30

These two can play for hours together. It’s usually very noisy, rough, and may very well end in one of them hurt or tattling–but their love for one another is undeniable. I am thankful for their relationship. I am so grateful they have each other.

day 16

Day 17/30

In January of 2009 we had a miscarriage. I was heartbroken and devastated. In February of 2009 we were surprised to find out we were expecting another baby which was due in November. Almost two months early, in September of 2009, we welcomed our third child. Those first days with her in the NICU and me still sick in the hospital were some of the hardest I have known. Ultimately, I learned so much during that time.

Today and everyday as I look at our sweet girl, I am reminded of how wonderful surprises are. I am so thankful for all of the unexpected blessings in life. God’s plan is always so perfect, even amidst heartaches and trials.

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Day 18/30

When my oldest was 4 our family dynamic was much different. We had a 4 year old and a 1 year old and my husband was at war in Iraq. Life was crazy most days and a bit of a blur as I think back on it.

Today, life can still be crazy, but its so different having older siblings. Having a 9 year old in the house to help is huge. She is such a great big sister; reading, playing pretend, helping with bath time…it just comes natural to her. I am so grateful for all the ways she helps me each and every day. She is a blessing to our family in so many ways.

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Day 19/30

The past week has been filled with a lot of cloudy days and rain and yesterday morning we woke up to blue skies and sunshine. We postponed school and headed out for a fun morning together. I love a morning of exploring. I am thankful for blue skies and sun.

day 19

Day 20/30

Last week on the news we heard that $1 would provide 10 meals in the Philippines. We talked as a family about what the people were going through and the help they needed. Together, we decided we would have a bake sale to raise money. I shared with our children that every little bit makes a big difference.

Yesterday, was spent in the kitchen preparing our baked goods, which we will sell this morning. I am thankful for my children’s loving and growing hearts. I feel grateful that we have the ability to give, even in a small way. We will continue to pray for the people of the Philippines remembering Jeremiah 29:11 : For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

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Day 21/30

In the middle of the night my husband and I woke up to find the bathroom light on. My husband went to see what was going on but the bathroom was empty. He then went to check on each of our children. One bed was empty. We did not see our baby girl in her bed. He looked further to find her in her closet changing nightgowns. She had had an accident. When finished changing she came and got into bed with us.

In the morning as I lay there watching her sleep, I couldn’t help but think of how grateful I was for “do overs” in life. Sometimes we all know how we should do things (ie. she should have gone to the potty before bed), but we don’t do it the right way. Maybe it is inconvenient? Maybe it is uncomfortable? So we don’t do “whatever it” is, the correct way. But I am thankful for the times we get to try again. When we can learn from our mistakes and make things better the next time. I mess up a lot and pray for compassion and grace, and I want to extend this same type of love to those I am around.

days of thanks week three day 7

“cultivate the habit of being grateful” -unknown

30 days of thanks 2013 | week 2

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1st Thessalonians 5:16-18

Welcome back for week two of my personal project: 30 days of thanks in pictures.  You can go back and read a bit about this project and see week one here.

Day 8/30

Moving back home to Florida has brought many joys, but there are many things I do truly miss. I miss the change of seasons. I especially miss the fall leaves so full of color and the magical feeling of a first snow each year. But, the other night while down by the lake I couldn’t help but think of how lovely the weather really is right now. My son was playing in the water and the sun was just setting over the horizon. While I do miss the seasons, I am so grateful for the weather we have in Florida during the fall and winter. It is pretty beautiful most days. And once in a while we get a snap of cool air, but then you know the warm mild days will be back.

day 8 blog

Day 9/30

It doesn’t matter if Daddy is gone 9 months, 9 weeks, or 9 days…the excitement seeing his car coming home is always the same. I am grateful to share life with a man that brings us so much love and joy, that sacrifices so much for our family and country, and that makes the most of every day together. No, every day is not bliss in 14 years of marriage; but each day spent living and learning together is something to be so thankful for.

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Day 10/30

“Most of our days are filled with routine duties required for life to continue with any sort of sanity. But if we take the time look closely, we might discover that God is using these normal activities to prepare us for future tasks, each duty pointing to His blessing in our lives.” -Priscilla Shirer

Any day of the week you will find me in my home. No make up. Shorts and a t-shirt. Hair on top of my head. Dishes in the sink. Laundry to be done. Teaching my children. This is my ordinary. I am grateful today for my ordinary. For the gift I have been given with such a beautiful purpose to teach, love and guide my children daily. For the right now in my life. I am thankful that God has shown me more blessings than I ever dreamed in these ordinary moments.

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Day 11/30

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” ― Art Williams

When we started homeschooling many people asked me what I was going to do to “entertain” our youngest child while schooling the other children. Some even suggested that I send her to pre-school to make things easier. My husband and I decided that we would have her stay home with our other children. Three years later, I am so grateful for this decision. We have so many memories of us all together during our days. Yes, sometimes, it is a challenge. She is at a busy age, but an age that is so fun to watch and nurture. I love getting to see the older children work with her on skills. I love being able to watch her love of art and learning grow. I love having her with us throughout our days. She learns so much by being around her older siblings….and honestly they even learn quite a bit by having her around too

day 11 blog

Day 12/30

Our home is usually a pretty noisy place. One that is filled with laughter and learning at most times during the day. (And yes, there are bound to be times I hear arguing as well). With three children home there isn’t a lot of quiet. But I wouldn’t trade our life for any other way. I love the noise and I love having our house filled with children. I love when the cousins and neighbors are in our home. BUT to be honest, by the end of the day, I crave quiet. I love order and I am ready to relax. Some nights, I don’t ever find this because I fall asleep getting the kids all to bed. But when I do, it is something I am very grateful for.

 

day 12 blog

Day 13/30

Sometimes, I feel and look just like this when life doesn’t seem to go my way. I want to cry, kick and scream, and just ask why? Today I am thankful to know that even though I may not understand God’s plan always, I do know He loves me and His plan is always best.

“God’s purposes are not for me to understand His plans: His plan is for me to understand Who He is.” -AnnVoskamp.com

day 13 blog

 Day 14/30

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”  -Kahlil Gibran

Even as we teach our children that their beauty is found inside of them, there is something beautiful to me about the magical world of dress up.   Our youngest sits fascinated by make up, dresses, and tiaras.  She twirls and sings and acts out various roles as she plays.  I am grateful for these moments and the beautiful girl I see before me. No, not beautiful because of her dress or her makeup, but because of that shining light in her heart.  That light, that is what I am grateful for.

day 14 blog

“gratitude changes everything” -unknown

What are you grateful for today?

10 on 10 | the November edition

There’s something so timeless and soulful about black and white photography that I really appreciate.   More often than not, when I click my shutter, I am visualizing that moment in black and white. The light and the dark come together in such a fascinating way. Shadows really stand out, as do beautiful highlights.  This month’s 10 on 10 includes 10 black and white images that I captured throughout the month.

10 on 10 3
10 on 10 7
10 on 10 1
10 on 10 9
10 on 10 2
10 on 10 4
10 on 10 8
10 on 10 10

10 on 10 5
10 on 10 6

Please be sure to continue on to the blog of the super talented Rowe Timson. She lives quite the exciting life in Bali.   I always love her images.

  • summer Murdock - Love your b&ws….so beautiful Ginger. Not sure I could pick a fav…because they are all so good…xoReplyCancel

  • Maria Manco - GOREGOUS! My favorite is the one of her loading the dishwasher – it is so sweet!ReplyCancel

  • sandra - Just awesome images.
    Always makes me look a few more seconds in B&W!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Always wonderful.
    SReplyCancel

  • Kirsty - 10 such wonderful moments Ginger – all perfect in their own way – the top one, the hand on the hip though is wonderful, one day she won’t stand this way anymore and yet you’ll still have this… oh, and I’m a little in awe of your stairs gallery too ;) ReplyCancel

  • Candy - Ah, I can look at your work all day. B&W…yes! You both are an amazing fit. I love your work Ginger. xxooReplyCancel

  • Sara Garcia - These are just so gorgeous Ginger. Your work is always so light inspired and filled with timeless beauty. The third and last image seriously both take my breath away. Stunning!ReplyCancel

  • stacy k - Amazing, Ginger! I especially love the book-reading on the steps. Love your vision! :) ReplyCancel

  • ashley - All of these images are great. That one of her at the top of the stairs reading… it’s down right killer.ReplyCancel

  • My Budding Painter » Clackamas Oregon Lifestyle Photographer, Newborn Photographer, Clackamas Oregon Maternity Photographer | Lacey Meyers Photography - […] was browsing through the blogs I follow when Kaden climbed onto my lap.   I came upon my friend, Ginger Unzueta’s blog and an image of her 4-year-old daughter filled the screen… and she was painting.  I know […]ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - Black and whites sing to my soul. And girrrrlllll you’ve perfected them. I love b&ws flooded with light. BeautifulReplyCancel

  • Janine - Beautiful b&w’s. How sweet is that first image! The artiste at work. Also, the one of your daughter immersed in that book in the light on the stairs. I want to fill a wall with frames!! JxReplyCancel

  • Jenna - I’m TOTALLY digging the contrast in these conversions. LOVE the drama! That first one, WOW!!!ReplyCancel

  • rowe - your b+ws are beyond beautiful ginger! i love every single image but those first two just took my breath away… amazing post xReplyCancel

  • Kaleidoscope | february | Ginger Unzueta Photography - […] year I became friends with a very special group of ladies and participated together in a 10 on 10 project.  This year we wanted to continue to do a project together, but wanted to do something a little […]ReplyCancel

  • kaleidoscope | march | Ginger Unzueta Photography - […] year I became friends with a very special group of ladies and participated together in a 10 on 10 project.  This year we wanted to continue to do a project together, but wanted to do something a little […]ReplyCancel

30 days of thanks 2013 | week 1

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. I will sing your praises among the nations. Psalm 57:9

It seems like as soon as October 1st hits, the Holiday and Christmas rush begins.  I think November is a wonderful time to slow down and look around our lives at the many blessings God has bestowed on us. It’s a time to rejoice in all things.  To be honest, I really want to live with a grateful heart all times of the year.  I am documenting 30 days of thanks in pictures for the second year in a row. I loved looking back on these sweet blessings at the end of November last fall so I knew I wanted to do it again.

I have been reading 1000 gifts by Ann Voscamp since summer (I am a slow reader) and it really is a beautiful way to live…to really seek God in all things.  To live a life seeking  the beautiful gifts awaiting us each day. They may not always seem big, but they are never insignificant.   This way of life doesn’t mean we will not face heartache, bad days, rough patches, despair, loss, or any thing else that can bring us down. No,  we will always find valleys in our lives,but you can find beauty and light even in these dark hours. You just have to have your eyes open to it.

Day 1/30

I am thankful that no matter where I look in my home, there are traces of children, traces of life, love and living together as a family. I never want to take these for granted.

This picture is a little reminder of a day painting leaves, because otherwise our leaves here in Florida do not have much color.

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 Day 2/30

I love that many mornings we wake up with one or two or even three extra bodies in our bed; even if it feels super crowded and my sleep is disturbed. I love this because most days it feels like they are growing up way too fast, but this is a reminder that they do still need us..that they still love our comfort, our touch, and our presence. And this fills my heart.

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 Day 3/30

“your lovely even with your scars” -amy grant

I have struggled with people pleasing and perfectionism as long as I can remember. In doing this, many times I have questioned if I am enough? I am starting to see that my oldest daughter struggles in similar ways. Today, I am grateful for the way God brings His message to us through music. We were in the car when Amy Grant’s Don’t Try So Hard came on the radio. It was a such a blessing to be reminded that we are more than enough in the Lord, and that His Grace is never ending. To be reminded we don’t need to try so hard. And what a gift to talk about the meaning of this song with my 9 year old.

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Day 4/30

Over the past six years Alzheimer’s has taken so much away from my father-n-law and our family. But today I rejoice and am beyond thankful that there are still precious moments like these. I am so grateful my children get to have this time with their Grandfather and can see the love that he still feels for them. It’s a reminder that even in the hardest of circumstances, God is still very much there.

day 4 blog

Day 5/30

At first glance this photograph looks similar to many others I have of our four year old–our sweet child who loves to paint. As her mama, I know the story and feeling behind the pictures making each one unique and special. I could capture her like this daily, in her world, in her element. I feel so blessed to get to watch her enthusiasm, her imagination, and her love for creating come alive. I pray she will always have this spirit.

day 5 blog

Day 6/30

I must admit I am not the best doggie mama at times…somewhere between having our children and my husband leaving for countless deployments our faithful friend seemed to get less of my attention. But, I am so grateful for the 14 years of companionship he has brought us. I am grateful that my children give him the love he deserves. We have so many memories with him and I am forever grateful. My children have never known life without him…he is our family♥

day 6 blog

Day 7/30

This week I realized we had reached a milestone in our home. It was the first time in almost 10 years that no one needed a diaper or a pull-up. (not for day, not for night, not at all) I think back over these years of there always being a baby in the home. I am grateful to all the memories…the life that has been lived. Long nights at times. Tantrums. New Words. Giggles. So much learning in the early years. Today I look at our three little people..our three blessings and I thank God for who they are each becoming. It’s hard to realize they are getting older, but I see them in a such a beautiful way with the wings they are growing.

day 7 blog

When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. – Shauna Niequist

You can come back next Friday to see my next week of gratefulness.  And if you are doing a project too, I’d love you to comment. I am enjoying following so many other people on this journey this month.

kids were here | november 2013

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.”
-Humphry Davy

I’ve been part of a bible study the past month called Gideon-Your weakness. God’s STRENGTH- by Priscilla Shirer . It has been such a beautiful and affirming study as a mother to three young children.   It is easy to go from one day to the next taking care of our families with time slipping by much quicker than we realize.  Some days it is easy for me to forget the importance of my purpose as a mother and teacher to my children.  But this purpose that God has given me is more important that I even realized.  

I love when Pricilla Shirer says ” I have  been commissioned by  God to be their mother.  Being a parent may seem like a commonplace human relationship, but I will not be lulled into downplaying it as ordinary.” Later in the study she says “And yet your greatest impact will be done here –in the ordinary rhythms of your daily living”  These statements are so powerful. They reminded me to look at everything in my day with purpose.  They also remind me that these traces of “kids were here”….its so much more than mess.  It is evidence of living and growing together for God’s purpose.  I want never to take this for granted.

kids were here 1

kids were here 2
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kids were here 3
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I participate in this project with a group of 25 other photographers.  Please visit the Kids Were Here Blog to see their images.