In the name of spring cleaning, I emptied an entire desk the other day (and then decided to claim it as my own). Piles upon piles of stuff grew all around me, until finally, my family joined those stacks on the floor around my feet. And you know what drew them in? It wasn’t the bills or magazines or CD’s (or cassette tapes). It was the photographs.

Life can be so crazy. And hard. And fast. Days and weeks and months fly by. My family took a moment to stop and relax, and we ended up sorting through memories and laughing so hard together.

It was therapy.

Because photos tend to capture the good in life. We catch a whiff of where we've been and we long to grasp that feeling again, to pursue better and greater things. Hope is renewed inside of us.

Sunday nights have become a ritual for my group of friends. About ten to twelve of us end up at my house on Sunday night to eat a home-cooked meal and usually catch up on TV or knock a movie off of our growing list.

Family night. That’s what we like to call it.

The glorious weather meant having our first wood-fire pizza of the year in the outdoor kitchen. There was talk about what we would be watching later, but I think the general consensus was that it was far too nice outside to hole up in a basement.

So we spent all night outside. We sat. We talked. We laughed. We enjoyed. Chris and Mike grabbed guitars and started playing songs they’d written. Lexie and I giggled a lot. Bella was a goof. Addison was cute. I sat back, relaxing in the comfort of friends. Then it hit me.

This needs to be captured. This needs to be remembered.

I want to remember these moments. When life has gotten too fast and full of the mundane and unimportant, when I have forgotten that life is good, when I have forgotten that I am blessed, that life is about people and that life is about love, I want something to remind me of a time when my heart was full.

This is life. As it should be. It’s fine to cram onto couches and watch a screen. I love those times. But more than that, I want to truly enjoy the presence of the people I love. Relationships are about sharing life with one another, not just occupying the same space.

I want to remember the times we share, the moments, so wonderful in their simplicity. I want to remember the people I love as they truly are. I take photos of people for a living, but I've forgotten what it means to capture life, unposed and unplanned. I want true and real life to shine through my photos.

Because these are the moments that stay locked in my head and my heart. These are the snapshots that fill the pages of my mind. I want to be able to come across this moment some day in the future and smile, the breeze of days past blowing peace into my heart.

Let's live a simple life, one where we make time, undistracted time, for the people we love. May we capture the blessings we've been given and find the time to get those snapshots off of our phones and into our lives, out of our camera and into our hands.

Whether you keep them in a box or plaster them on your walls, they will be a piece of tangible evidence that life is good. And they will remind you to smile. To remember. To keep going and keep loving. To take a moment and imagine that life can be even better than yesterday.

Note: These photos are raw and imperfect. But that’s what I love about them, because they reflect the life we live… not quite perfect, but beautiful still.