Author Archives: Melissa Lloyd

I’m an on-location, natural light, creative, portrait photographer focusing on maternity, newborn, family, + children. This blog combines my latest photography work, glimpses into my life, and things that inspire me.

To my babies…

You are loved. So much so that it is hard to contain. Just as you are. In your best moments and your worst. In your laughter and your tears. You are beautiful inside and out. You are joy givers. And life makers. Your faith and grace-giving are examples to live by. Forgiveness for my imperfections comes quickly and with a much needed hug. You bring glimpses of Jesus from your untainted hearts. You make me better in all ways. Without you, I would never fully understand the love of God.

Each of you has brought something unique to my life… something I didn’t know was missing until you came along. Something I didn’t know that I needed until you wrapped your arms around my neck and a part of my heart awakened that I didn’t know was asleep.

Zach, I love that you see the good in people and are quick to forgive. 

And since you are my first and first born’s are the guinea pigs for all parents, I have needed your grace and forgiveness more than a few times. Thank you for loving me in spite of my shortcomings. Thank you for loving me when I didn’t have this “mom thing” completely figured out (and I still haven’t perfected it so keep that in mind for the future). I thank God that you have a laid back personality and will go with my crazy flow at times. I have always wanted to be the very best for you. You are a generous person… spending what little money you have on gifts for family… and volunteering your time to help at church. I love your humor and seeing you laugh. I love that I can count on you more and more as you mature and grow. And seeing you seek after God as you become more man and less boy, makes me so proud. You are a good person. Be the man that God created you to be and the man I know you are. And always remember this: Protect your heart. It is a rare gift to live a life that can see the good in God’s people and quickly forgive their mess-ups. I love you oodles and oodles. 

Joshua, I love that you genuinely care about other people and have such a tender, sweet heart. 

To my middle one…the cream-filling in my sandwich cookie. You show such beautiful concern for the people around you. The first player on the court to run over to someone who is hurt. The first pat on the back to a hurting friend. You share your possessions easily and know that the person playing with your toys is more important than the toy itself. Not everyone has this figured out. Watching you makes my heart overflow. I love that you aren’t afraid to show kindness and you want to include everybody in whatever you are doing. Your desire to make others laugh keeps our home full of silly. You love going to church and learning about the God who made you uniquely you. For that I am thankful. You are so easy to love which is why you have a whole gaggle of friends and are the life of the party… more importantly, you are my life. It is impossible to see you smile and not feel good. And your laugh… your laugh is contagious. I see you love your brother and sister and know that you will love them for a lifetime because when you love it is deep and long-lasting. I love you infinity times infinity.

Maddy, I love that you are my “huggy bear”… always ready to fill my “hug tank”… always ready with sweet words to whisper in my ear. 

My sweet girl. Shy around people you don’t know, but the commander and chief at home. You love so sweetly. Hugging me from the moment you get up in the morning until I “cover you in” at night. Counting the hugs to make sure that our “hug tanks” are always full and giving me extra special “piggy hugs” when I need them most. I love that your socks rarely match and you aren’t bothered a bit by it. You see the world in rainbows and hearts and I pray it is always that way. I love that you insist on sparkly pink polish for your toes and that a bath is not a bath without bubbles. Little girl, you are the jelly to my peanut butter! My little dancer that bounces all over the studio because her heart is full of love…. there can be no other reason for your dancing than this. So easy to please with some time at the playground or hopscotching on the sidewalk. You love freely and wear your heart on your sleeve. Always smiling. Always laughing. You grab my hand to hold as we walk down the street and the feel of your tiny fingers reminds me of how good life is. My love, I will hold your hand forever. I love you more.

children family teen photography san antonio texas throo the lens photographyWhen I think of you, I am in awe that God would put such beautiful love in my life. Undeserved, unearned love from my Heavenly Father… that is what each of you are. God knew we would be perfect for each other before we were created. The ultimate match-maker. The Author of love with a perfect plan. Know this… I will love you forever. No matter what…you are loved. Loved completely. Loved unconditionally. Loved in your successes and your failures. Loved when you are unlovable because at times we are all unlovable. The best I know how… I will love you…

 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14)

by Melissa Lloyd

I felt convicted. I felt a headache-coming-on convicted. Sitting in church, listening to the sermon, I was certain that a spotlight was centered on me. Maybe it was. Maybe it was God’s flashlight shining into the darkness of my junk. Maybe it was me being overly sensitive. Maybe it was mother’s guilt (which I’m certain is a bonafide disability). Maybe the light was the one in my heart flickering on for only me to see and respond to. Regardless, my seat was warming by the minute.

A week later this sermon is still gnawing at me. My soul feels like it has an itchy rash that can’t be scratched. The sermon topic: The Effects of Busy. Busy runs counter to Jesus. Busy is what tests my patience and leaves me questioning my sanity. Busy is a thief robbing me blind of the fruit salad of the spirit. Don’t most of us run through life busy? Ask someone how they are and most will say “fine”. A few will say “good”. But nearly everyone says: “Busy. Busy at work. Busy with kids. Busy with church. Busy with something.” Some even thrive on an over-flowing life plate with a “the most busy wins” view on life… not even realizing the toll it is taking on them.

The effect of busy is really what does the damage. And be honest, busy doesn’t bring out the best in most of us. Eventually, it leads us down a lonely, dark, shadowy road of being perpetually tired, overwhelmed, frazzled, worn-down, and my personal favorite: irritable (and this one comes with a dose of mother’s guilt on the side for free). We have limits. At some point we are left unable to listen to one more heart, pouring out its sorrows in need of a compassionate ear. When you feel like you are drowning in your own existence and assume everyone else is too, there is nothing that gives you confidence in sharing your heart with someone else.

So, when it comes to our own heart condition, we tend to bury those mental reflections within ourselves. We stew in the misery of busy. Alone. We marinate in it like chicken in teriyaki sauce. We tough it out. Suck it up. Bury it in carbs and sugar (my method of choice). Some of our busy is our own doing. We could eliminate some things from our schedules and free up some sanity time. Saying “no” would bring on a power-trip of epic proportions. For others of us, busy is just the season of life we are in and we are looking for a way through that doesn’t involve a padded cell and the poor fashion choice of a straight-jacket. (I think those are one-size-fits-all…. no one looks good in one-size-fits-all. NO ONE.)

And I have to wonder… does this blazing, mind-snatching, can’t-remember-why-I-walked-into-a-room busy cause us to be preoccupied with ourselves and give off an aura of “go away” or “I’m not really interested”? Do we not share our hearts with others because we fear not being heard? Everyone is busy with their own problems, their own hurts, their own doubts, their own fears… we wonder… are they too pre-occupied with their own existence to lovingly deal with my junk? Will I be heard and not judged? We wonder if what we are the only ones feeling this way? Will unloading our hearts and sharing these feelings that we keep to ourselves only result in cliche advice and the feeling that what we have shared is trivial?

It’s a risk.

We definitely don’t want to bother God with the inner-workings of our lives either. He is busy with real problems like starvation, global conflicts, and terminally sick people…you know, the situations that fall into the “credible” category of prayer for a God who has a lot on His plate because let’s be real…this world is messed up.

You feeling like you’re going to lose it if one of your kids complains about the dinner you made… the dinner you didn’t have time to make but cooked anyway… the laundry that does nothing but multiply and the kid that is wearing shorts in 40 degree weather because he doesn’t have any clean jeans, thanks to your awesome ability to wash clothes in a timely manner… the dust that just won’t stop appearing and the jokers who think it is funny to write in it… the ride that of those little complainers needs to his fifteenth activity of the week… the projects at work that aren’t done… the pantry that is empty because you haven’t been to the grocery story… the stories you didn’t read… and “bigger stuff” like health insurance and changing jobs.

Compare that rant to starving kids in Africa and it seems like we are doing God’s work by keeping our stuff to ourselves because it is clear that He has bigger fish to fry. Can I get a hallelujah?!?

But. And here it is…the reality check we (I) need:

Hilton Head Island Vacation 436What if prayer was the antidote to the cyclone effects of busy that push us from the people we want to be to the people we don’t really like?

Unlike us, God is never lacking a compassionate ear. He’s never unavailable. He’s never occupied. He doesn’t have a door with one of those signs that says “We’ll be back at 9am. Come see us!” God doesn’t deal in large and small. God doesn’t get tired, flustered, bored, overwhelmed, worn-out, or exhausted in any way. And Jesus… He just gets it. He has experienced it all in human form and He gets us… all of it. He is limited by nothing. The effects we feel from a life of busy are non-existent for Him.

Busy cannot care down to the minutiae of life and yet the Bible tells us “…God cares, cares right down to the last detail.” (James 5:11 MSG)

  • He has the number of hairs on our head counted. (Luke 12:7 NIV)
  • His ears pick up every moan and groan uttered from our lips. (Psalm 34:15 MSG)
  • Heartbroken?… God cares. (Psalm 34:18 MSG)
  • Get in trouble?… God is there. (Psalm 34:19 MSG)
  • Need a 24/7 bodyguard… you’ll not even break a finger. (Psalm 34:20 MSG)
  • The number of days in our lives are circled on His calendar. (Job 14:5 NIV)
  • He catches every tear we shed and records every hurt we bear. (Psalm 56:8 MSG)
  • Every need we have He provides. (Matthew 6:31 MSG)
  • All of our feelings are something he desires to listen to. (Psalm 34:5 MSG)
  • He invites us to pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 MSG)

That last one is a head-scratcher. Why would He tell us to pray continuously? If God was busy, you’d think He would have said to cut Him some slack and pray with a little ceasing. There would be no time to listen to our unending prayers because let’s face it some of us are a hot mess. But the reality is that there is no asterisk by those words in the bible to say “*pray without ceasing, but only about the important prayer-credible issues because I’ve got more to do than time to do it.” No, He keeps it simple and direct and says to “pray continuously”. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 MSG). He tells us to bring ALL of our junk to him (yeah, I am paraphrasing)… not some junk… not a little junk… not certain categories of junk… ALL of our junk.

Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. (Mark 11:22-24)

When we say that God is busy in the terms we use to describe ourselves, we put Him in a box and limit Him to human standards. WE limit God. Because we can only do so much, we apply that to the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-doing, all-loving, always present, one-true-superhero God of the universe. His word tells us that “if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:15) Whatever we ask. It doesn’t say, “as long as it fits God’s criteria of prayer-worthy”. It says whatever. WE limit Him when we tell ourselves that God is too busy for us and then convince ourselves that we should ration our prayers to the categorically thorny things of this life. And when we do this, we put him in a box and make him small. We close the top of that cardboard cube and resolve to only get Him out when something meets our litmus test of prayer-credible… and, in turn, restrict His power in our lives. We don’t pray about everything because the God of our cardboard carton has constraints in what He can do because WE have made Him no bigger than the box we put Him in. So we, in all of our own glory, decide for Him what we will bring to Him in prayer and what we won’t.

Such arrogance. Such small mindedness.

But…

What if we let God out of the box? What if we let Him be who He is? What if we saw Him in the magnitude that He is? What if we stopped deciding for Him what he had time for and what He didn’t? What if we believed in our hearts that He wanted to hear from us about everything…that nothing is too small or too big…that it all mattered to Him? From the minor to the major. From the tedious to the exhilarating. From the trivial to the heart wrenching. All of it… and more. God uses everything in our lives to transform us into the likeness of Jesus. He wastes nothing. It all serves a purpose. And if it ALL serves a purpose, then it is ALL worth bringing to the feet of Jesus. What if we brought our busy to His feet and asked him for rest (Matthew 11:28)?

We can’t stress Him out… wear Him down… talk His ear off. He isn’t struggling to keep up with us. Population growth on this planet isn’t going to bring Him to a screeching, grinding halt because He can only handle so much. We are but a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow (James 4:14). As important as we think we are and as big as our problems seem, God is bigger that all of it. More importantly than His size, is His love. His love is something that we won’t fully wrap our heads around on this side of heaven. It is His love for us that makes busy obsolete in heaven’s vocabulary. Love knows the hairs on our heads, picks up every groan from our lips, catches every tear we’ve shed, and records every hurt. Love considers all of our feelings something worth listening to… if only we would pray to the One who loves so deeply.

With peace, with confidence, with gratitude, with faith, with all the love that we can muster… the best we know how… pray without ceasing… about our busy… about our need for rest… about our latest screw-up…about our fears…about our human-ness… because God is never busy and He wants to hear it, He wants to help, He wants to give out rest like winning lotto tickets.

As for me, I am going to work everyday on eliminating busy from my vocabulary because busy doesn’t appreciate the beautiful gifts given by a Heavenly Father that deals in love…perfect, patient, peaceful, love.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

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by Melissa Lloyd

Some days I could watch her play for hours. She has a girly obsession with beads and making me necklaces…with all of the necklaces she has made me, I am a well accessorized mama. But watching her play and recording it is almost magical.

Knowing that she will never be this little again…

She will never play the way she did that day again…

Those moments can never be replicated…

I wanted to capture her messy hair, her bangs that needed trimmed, her bare foot with a single freckle on it, her never-ending eyelashes, the sweet cheeks that I never tire of kissing, and those eyes that see right through me…

The sweet thoughts that she shared with me were gifts for that day only

Maybe that is why God tells us to focus on the day in hand…not yesterday….not tomorrow…

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out EACH day and gather enough for THAT day… (emphasis mine)” Exodus 16:4

We are to focus on today…to be present…so that we don’t miss the gifts that we are given every day…because there are gifts…every.single.day.gifts…if only we look…if only we gather…if only we shut out yesterday and tell tomorrow to wait…

God’s gifts rain down like manna from heaven…He gives each day’s gifts that day…tomorrow’s gifts won’t be there today…and yesterday’s gifts are gone…

He begs us to live in the present….challenges us to look for His gifts…and when we find them, the blessing is almost too much to comprehend…all for love…

Not so that we will love Him…

Nope.

All because of HIS love…His crazy, insane, doesn’t make sense, forever lopsided love for us…

Lord, open my eyes to the gifts of today…the gifts of your love for me…

 

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by Melissa Lloyd

There is a red & white lighthouse on the Sea Pines section of Hilton Head Island that has forever captured Maddy’s heart. She is still talking about the light lighthouse and climbing to the top to see the ocean from way up high.

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by Melissa Lloyd

We took a break from the beach and spent an afternoon at The Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island. The trees are amazing on the coast of South Carolina…I could look at them for hours. We walked the grounds and toured the museum. The kids learned all about horse crabs and other native wildlife. As a homeschoolin’ mama, this was an amazing lesson on marine life, geography, and science….and all I had to do was let them explore.

While I have always appreciated a beautiful landscape, Hilton Head Island and the coast of South Carolina took by breath away.

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by Melissa Lloyd

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