Expectation vs Experience

"Do not let what you expected keep you from what God wants you to experience." 
-Steven Furtick, Crash the Chatterbox

Stacey Woods Instagram

What did you imagine for your life, friends? Is that your reality today? I will be honest with you and say that I did not expect to still be where I am now. My life's plans and grand expectations for this point in my life included a bigger house with a pool, far more financial security, more alone time, actual family vacations, less stress, more clients, and maybe a beautiful natural light studio with a gallery and entertaining space. Oh, and a housekeeper. Just keeping it real. :)

But God had other ideas in mind for me first.

I have no way of knowing for sure if all of those dreams will ever become a reality for me, but I choose to believe that God wanted me to experience these warm naptime snuggles for a little while longer. To be home to greet the kids when they get off the bus. To lean on Him a little harder with less money, so I'll know how to rely on Him when we have more of it. He wanted me to stop and be grateful for this tiny (cozy!) house before He gives us a bigger one someday. He wanted to give me a blessing in my struggle. A light during the darkness. A third baby who will change the world right along with her older brother and sister.

Steven Furtick says that "God schedules every season in your life, but He doesn't post the schedule for you to see." Ahh. Isn't that both frustrating and comforting all at once?! It is for me. But then again, I'm still learning to let go.

So today, and every day, I will choose to enjoy these precious moments I've been given during this sweet season of life, while it lasts. I will snuggle them close, and I will breathe in this tiny little girl who wants to lie on my arm and twirl my cross necklace until she falls asleep. And I will be grateful, so very grateful.

Because the next season is coming soon enough. I can feel it. And I hope I be just as grateful in the next season of my life.

How about you? Are you enjoying the season you're in? Do your days look like what you imagined them to be? Would you change anything if you could?

Crack Up Cancer 8

Giving generously is something that I feel called to do. I quietly donate sessions to families that come into my life, when my heart leads me to do so. It happens quite frequently, to be honest. I am certain that I donate more of my work than is financially advisable for anyone running a small business, but I digress. My heart feels good for sharing when I can.

In addition to personal giving, there are a couple of favorite local charities that I love to support.

One of my favorite charitable organizations is Cure on Wheels, specifically the Crack Up Cancer annual fundraiser at the Tampa Improv in Ybor. My clients (and now friends), Jack and Brittany Bevilacqua, founded this annual event 8 years ago to honor Jack's parents who lost their fight with cancer, to celebrate life and greet obstacles with a light heart (as his mom did), and to raise money for local cancer research organizations. What's most impressive is that 100% of the profits from the event will directly benefit local cancer patients in Tampa Bay: specifically Moffitt Cancer Center and St. Petersburg YMCA Livestrong Program.

I'm proud to have donated my photography services to their raffle for three years in a row (congrats, Lesley!), but last night was the first year I was able to attend in person. What an experience!! So many wonderful local businesses and company freely gave their goods and services to be raffled off. And like Jack said, "that makes me want to do business with those people."

Besides the raffle, the event offered several hilarious comedy acts, great company, and a tribute slideshow of survivors, fighters and sadly many who have lost their lives to this horrific disease. I got choked up several times throughout the slideshow, just thinking about my Momaw Bertie and her current fight with breast cancer. About my last visit with her this summer, wondering if it might be my last. I thought about Momaw Grace, who lost her battle years ago, and about so many friends and family members who've been affected in large and small ways. 

Crack up Cancer 8 | Stacey Woods Photography


If you've never been to a Crack Up Cancer event, please reach out to Jack and Brittany and get on the list to be notified next year. Or watch my blog for updates next summer/fall. You won't want to miss this.

Cure on Wheels also holds two annual bike challenges to raise additional funds (this one and this one). You can join in or learn more about this amazing, all-volunteer group of survivors, fighters and supporters at www.cureonwheels.org. Makes me want to grab my kids and our bikes and join them!

Announcing... 2014 Holiday Mini Sessions!

They're back!

Holiday Mini Sessions are here, and I can't wait to see your beautiful faces in just a few weeks. I've chosen a new beach, something special and different and a little closer for the North County folks. It offers natural, largely un-fussed-with landscaping, soft Gulf waters, mossy rocks, lots of greenery, and the prettiest sunsets you ever did see.

Holiday Mini Sessions Clearwater Beach

Get in touch ASAP if you'd like to reserve your mini session. Reservations are extremely limited this year.

If you think you'd rather have a full 1-2 hour Signature Session instead, well then I'd love to see you that way too! I have a few open dates left in September and even fewer in October. (The holiday season tends to book up in reverse!) 

I hope to see you soon!


Go Jump in the Lake

We spent an afternoon last week visiting new friends. Ginger and I have known each other through our photography circles for a few years now, and we were so happy to finally meet in person! My "circle of friends" is intentionally very small, and I'm always amazed at how God brings people into my life who just KNOW what my heart needs at any given moment. Ginger is that kind of friend, truly.

Our kids got along beautifully too... and we joked that they were all inspiring each other to be fearless. They splashed in the lake, jumped off the dock and leapt from the deck of their boat that was moored just a few feet off the shore. Ginger's kids taught mine to kayak, and even my little Charlotte was brave enough to try to paddle by herself (with Parker swimming along behind her). They played soccer, ate popsicles, and swung on the tire swing. We had lunch on the back patio and watched boats go by, as we laughed and talked like we'd been best friends for years... serving each other's children, wiping little mouths and drippy chins, refilling juice and pouring more tea. 

And pouring fresh life into one another's hearts while we did so. 

In her son's room, a sign on the wall reads "Go Jump In The Lake". It's the perfect charge for an adventurous little boy. It inspired me too. Ever since that day, I've been thinking... into what "lake" should I just take the leap? How can I be fearless? Which amazing adventure should I choose? (I have a few ideas already.)

Here is my collection of images from our afternoon, and you can see Ginger's beautiful set of favorites HERE.

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Stacey Woods Photography.jpg
Stacey Woods
Stacey Woods child photography
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Florida Water Sports Photos.jpg

And you know what else? I jumped off that dock into the lake too.

I held Lila's hand, we ran and jumped at the same time, and I yelled all the way down.

It felt amazing. Lila was almost as happy as I was.

Go jump in the lake, friends. Those beautiful waters are good for the soul.

Round Here

The kids are out of school and we've been puttering around the house most of this week.  It's just soul-soothing to me after a busy rush of school activities, soccer tryouts, projects due, field trips and running around, naps interrupted by school pickup and deliveries and errands.  Home is my refuge, and my ideal morning consists of coffee on the patio, ruffling through a book with music playing behind me, redecorating and moving furniture and tweaking rooms to my heart's content.  I surround myself with neutrals and natural textures from outdoors, and find so much peace in simple white dishes and fresh greenery in terra cotta pots.  It helps that the kids are always finding and collecting things from the yard and the beach, and so our home is filled with these little treasures: feathers, beach rocks, seashells, bird nests, and leaves shaped like hearts.  They're the best kind of art, I say.

We've also been staying at home because both the girls have been under the weather: Charlotte is getting over croup and Lila is on day 4 of a mystery fever (I truly hope it isn't a repeat of Parker's mystery fever a few weeks back, which turned out to be pneumonia).  We missed a friend's birthday party today and two trips to the beach this week.  Oh you awful virus, please just go away and leave my babies alone.

Here's to a restful weekend, lots of recuperating and refreshment, and maybe even a nap or two.

Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle details
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle work
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle journalism
Stacey Woods Photography: lifestyle journalism


Our Greatest Treasure | What I Love About Being a Mama

One of my favorite mamas EVER is on the blog today.  Meet Ruth… and Olivia and Maryn.Stacey Woods, lifestyle newborn photographer "Everything has changed. What used to be important seems just silliness now. My every waking moment is focused on these two precious girls and our family."

Stacey Woods newborn lifestyle photography

Stacey Woods lifestyle family photographer"My mom loves to play the piano; she encouraged all of us (6 siblings) to play an instrument.  Since we have grown up, she has continued to expand her talent through lessons and daily practice and is an amazing pianist.  When she visits, I know I can count on daily serenades and even her own compositions."

Stacey Woods, Lifestyle Photographer

I asked Ruth about her favorite characteristic of each of her girls...  

"Olivia: her beautifully kind spirit. I used to pray when she was still in utero that God would allow her to bring joy to everyone she meets--and she does!"

Stacey Woods childhood photographer

Stacey Woods lifestyle photography

"Maryn: her scream! She is not afraid to let her presence be known. She will need this characteristic as she gets older. :-)"

Stacey Woods, newborn photography

Stacey Woods, baby photographer

"I love seeing moms that are calm in the midst of chaos that children naturally create. They give me hope that I too can not worry or not stress about the little things."

Stacey Woods, lifestyle photography of newborns and siblings

I also asked Ruth to tell me about the most important lesson her own mother ever taught her…. and Ruth's answer made me tear up.  And I dare say that it will make her mama proud to read her words….

"To honor your father and mother. She was an only child (after her twin sister passed away from Leukemia at the age of 5) and she remained a supportive daughter to her mother until my Grannie's recent passing in 2011. Her daily emphasis on the importance of family and the sacrifice that daughters/children can and should make to honor their parents has made a life-long impact on me. Family is our greatest treasure."

Our greatest treasure, indeed.

xoxo, Stacey

What I Love About Being a Mama: Sibling Friendships

Undoubtedly, one of my favorite things about being a mama is when I get to witness how much my kids truly like one another.  Not just "we-love-because-we-have-to", but actual friendship.  Snuggling, tickling, laughing, playing because-they-want-to friendship.  It warms my heart to no end to see these sibling friendships developing and growing.

Stacey Woods photos of sibling friendships

I was folding laundry on Lila's bed yesterday, and Lila climbed into Charlotte's crib to play with her, like she so often does. They just began snuggling under the covers and tickling each other and giggling like little girls do. My heart melted into a puddle when I saw them being so loving toward each other, all on their own.

My camera was in my office, but my iPhone was nearby, so that is what I used here. After all, "the best camera is the one that's with you."  ~Chase Jarvis

I actually texted this photo to my two sisters immediately afterward, because it made me think of them. We're still best friends to this day, even as mamas ourselves.

Parents, never underestimate the importance of fostering real friendship between your children! I'm so very grateful for my sisters... the way we have always helped each other through different stages of life, having all of those inside jokes that no one else thinks is significant, much less funny. How we support each other even if we don't agree, how we can call or text in the middle of the night if we need a listening ear or a bit of advice about a sick baby.  How we've comforted and encouraged one another through breakups and boyfriends, marriages and babies, through life and death and sickness in between, through prosperity and heart-breaking loss, through cross-country moves and changes that cannot be reversed. I am sp grateful for our undying friendship and our unconditional acceptance and support of each other.  I know that my sisters always have my back, even though we are scattered across the country.

Our parents gave us these most wonderful gifts: each other.

It is my intention to guide all three of my children to not only love each other, but to truly like each other now and forever.  To give them what I have with my sisters.  And it's a beautiful thing to witness this unfolding before my eyes.

So what about you?  Are your children also friends? Let's talk!  I'd love to know your tips and ideas on how to develop sibling friendship in the comments below!

I'll go first!  :)  There were three of us girls, but only two bedrooms upstairs. So the two who were arguing the most would have to share a room until we learned to get along. We didn't like it at first, but it worked like a charm.  Mom was pretty brilliant like that.

Now it's your turn!


Today is the first day of my new blog series entitled, "What I Love About Being a Mama".  Stay tuned for the next few weeks as we celebrate mothers all over the world.  I'll be featuring interviews with other mamas, special gifts, and giveaways just for my readers!  Be sure and subscribe so that you don't miss a single post!


I also hope you'll join me this Friday and Saturday, April 11th and 12th, for Mother's Day mini-sessions at Honeymoon Island in Dunedin!  I'd love to melt YOUR Mama-heart into a puddle when you see images of your children loving on each other, and loving on YOU.  Register now by emailing me through this website (contact link above) or by calling me at 727-698-0344.  It would be my honor to celebrate you and your children, even if they're grown up and not-so-little anymore.  They'll always be your babies, after all, right?

xo, Stacey