a big next chapter!

Every year of our marriage has brought crazy change. often it's been a change of location- whether state or apartment. We really thought 2015  would be different. We love where we've been living- nestled between the river and the heart of downtown, with hardwood floors and space for all sorts of joyful gatherings. Both of our families are close by, we have an incredible group of friends, and feel almost settled for the first time ever.

But sometimes, there's those longings that don't quite feel like your own, but like something bigger.

So, yesterday we moved from this place.  


I love putting a home together. But I've never had one that felt done. This place came close. I was hesitant to share these photos because it's not finished to me. But, it's us spilled out. Ryan and I and our story is unfinished, too. And, like some of the plants you'll see, need a bit of TLC ( : 

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about what makes a place a home. It's not the trinkets, rugs, pillows, light fixtures, or frames- although those things are nice and they can help.  For me now, it's who's in the home with you, and the reasons you're there. The last year there's been a lot of reasons to be and stay here, and while this place will always be home, our reasons have changed. We've been released from the American dream, in a way. There's a time and place for settling down and working 9-5, but it seems now isn't that time or place for us.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a program that made my heart get all excited. It's through Youth With a Mission, with an emphasis on photography. They use photography as a 'voice for the voiceless'. This alone hooked me, but it gets better. Those who go through the program receive photography and theological training, and travel to a place in need to help in whatever way is needed most. Often, this means going to an underdeveloped nation and working in an orphanage, helping build schools, or some other form of service. The entire program is six months- three months of training and three months of service. 

But the timing wasn't right. I told Ryan about it and he didn't quite share my enthusiasm. It was hard, but I let it go. I asked God to either take away my longing for adventure, or to do something with it. I don't do contentment very well, I must confess. Time passed, and I started to embrace the idea of staying here. I hung up more art on the walls. That seemed to make things more concrete, somehow.

Over the next few months, I became more content. Photography started to pick up for me, and the idea of embracing the adventure of staying became more real. Meanwhile, Ryan started to look beyond his desire for stability and long for adventure.  It was like a Freaky Friday situation, but better and real-life. That switch made us both more open to whatever was supposed to be next for us.

Then a few weeks ago it just struck me over the head. We were supposed to go. I can't really explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it, that feeling of knowing. So we decided that's what we would do. We would listen, and we would go. It came when I least expected it, and when I was actually excited at the thought of staying. It's almost funny, really. 


So. Here's the deal. We're leaving for training in April, and we'll be gone for six months. Our hope is that we learn more about how to help people, how to use photography for good, and that we return with the ability to put both of those things in action!

This weekend we moved from our comfortable apartment to a generous relative's teeny cottage to save up for our trip. It's Ryan and me and our two pups living real cozy (and I'll admit... a few pretty pillows and pictures). It's home. 

This year I've done so many things I thought  I'd never do. One of them is this next adventure. It seemed too crazy and impossible. But here we are! Never say never, I 'spose.

Another thing I didn't think I'd do is ask for help. But, whatdoyaknow, here I am. We can't make this happen alone. Ryan and I are saving like crazy and selling our car, so we are going to be able to come up with 1/4 of what we need for all living/travel expenses for the entire six months we'll be away. Plus, every photo shoot I do between now and April will go towards supplies we need (a camera and computer for the mister). For the next three months, pricing will be super flexible for all sorts of event coverage and portraits. Make an offer ( :

Here's a link for donations: 


 And here's a little more info:

There's so much about this mission that I can't pack it all into one post. Ask questions if you want, and I'll be sharing more on the way. Also- thanks for those of you who have been/will be encouraging and supportive. We know, it seems crazy. Also we know not everyone will have good things to say. But if it's crazy to do what you feel passionate about, and feel clearly led to do, then we'll gladly take the 'crazy' label!

We will be getting pretty creative over the next few months, so stay tuned for some fun gatherings! 

Sayonara, sweet 311. The Wilsons are on to new ventures!