Our Best Year, Yet!

It’s been two whole years since I’ve written my last blog post. The Bathons have been a little bit busy….Haha! I would like to say that I will be more consistent here, but I think we all know that is not going to happen, especially with all of the exciting NEW things our little family has going right now. I figure this will be a good space to share when I get the chance to sit down and actually write.

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As it is for most of you, this is my time of reflection and goal setting for the upcoming year. I try to sit down when I can and reflect on what God has done in the past year and pray about changes and growth for the next year.

When thinking about 2018, I get very emotional. We thought 2017 was the year of big changes, but we had no idea how much growth we would experience in 2018. And man, are we thankful!

It has been an emotionally tough year, but we can honestly say it has been the BEST year of our lives.

God has placed so many amazing friends in our lives and strengthened established relationships this year! We have felt so much love and support. We will never be able to thank them enough for standing with us and praying continuously.

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In March, we were blessed with our four day old, sweet little boy. Back in November of 2017, Jer and I felt called to become foster parents. A short, four months later, we got the call that would change our lives forever. A 6 pound, baby boy was waiting on us to come pick him up from the hospital. We had no idea what to expect, as we had never experienced parenting let alone having only 2 hours to “prepare.” 🙂

We walked into the hospital room and there was our son…Now, I didn’t know if I would be able to have him in my care forever, but he was my son. Whether he became a Bathon or not, he was my son. Amongst the unknown, one thing was clear. He was my son.

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Fast forward 9 months, we still have our sweet boy in our care. We have loved watching him grow. He is smart, strong and has such a sweet personality. We can already see an empathy gifting in him, even at a young age.

I’ve watched Jer become a father overnight. I’ve watched him fall in love with our little man. We’ve grown together as husband and wife. God has directed and protected our little family every step of the way.

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Even though our lives are a little more crazy, I’ve never been MORE in love with my husband. Our hearts have grown in ways we never thought they could.

This little boy has changed our lives.

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Our lives are by no means perfect, but God has given us so much joy and it’s hard not to share it! We said from the beginning of our foster journey that we were going to celebrate every moment we get as a family.

Our life is really messy, but it’s so beautiful because of Jesus.

God’s growing us. We definitely don’t handle confrontation as well as we should, we get angry and passive aggressive, but God’s working on all of this in us. He’s growing our hearts in love we never thought could be there. HE does that! Not because of our “perfect” circumstances. We have JOY because Christ loved us so much that He died on our behalf and rose again so we can live with Him forever. I get the question all the time, “Why are you so happy all the time?” Well guys, THAT’S WHY: JESUS!

We’re not some “special” couple or family. God stands in our mess and lifts us up! And we’re so glad we said yes to His calling on our lives.

This year has been filled with joy beyond what we can comprehend. It’s been scary, but God has wrapped us up in a tight hug reminding us constantly of His goodness.

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We are so grateful that our family of three is still together!

Here’s to 2019, friends! May you look to Jesus for it all!

Circa 2016

Reminiscing Fully Focused’s journey in 2016…

This has been the biggest year for Fully Focused so far! Yay!

This year included so many great changes for my business. To my clients, you make my job lovely. I love capturing your beautiful moments and milestones.

In starting Vision Colletive, we gained lifelong photog friends. I can’t wait to talk more photography & Jesus with all of you! I am excited to see our community of photographers growing in Southern Illinois!

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives. You have sure changed my life for the better this year!

2017 is going to be another year of growth in business, relationships and with Jesus! We are going to keep creating and relating! Photography is universal language. Let’s use it wisely.

Here’s to being “Fully Focused” in all areas of 2017!

-KB

Fall Photos for the Stearns Family

I’ve been taking pictures of the Stearns family for 5 years now and their shoots only get more exciting each time! They have beautiful land in Pomona so photo setups are everywhere you look!

I love this family and how much fun they have when they are together! They are always laughing!

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Fall weather, lawn games and mums everywhere… If you can picture this perfection, you are picturing the Jackson wedding! A beautiful ceremony followed a perfect morning of fun with the wedding party. From the first look, the ceremony and the reception, all aspects of their big day was relaxing and a perfect representation of the couple!  That evening, a full moon shone light for those wanting to roast marshmallows and hotdogs around the fire. You could tell Nicole and Brandon simply loved all of their favorite people around them on their big day. Thank you Brandon and Nicole for letting us be a part of your lovely wedding!

Vision Collective

What can I say about this group of people? These are people I never expected. People I never thought I could become so close with in such a short amount of time… People that meet weekly to talk about photography, about Jesus and share life together… I’d say, why didn’t we think of this sooner? This community has changed my life.

The first time Vision Collective met, there was instant connection. I mean we all love photography, sure, but these people weren’t just photography lovers. These individuals wanted to use their passion of photography to acclaim the name of Jesus and allow real relationships to form through pictures. It’s so exciting to see Jesus working through this craft.

This group…I love these people. The idea of Vision Collective is so simple – people doing what they love and just doing it together.

I remember in June of last year, fighting the idea of starting a group. I didn’t think I was capable, or that me of all people could start something like this. I am the type that gets really nervous talking in groups bigger than five. I told myself that I could never do something like this. I told myself that I would look stupid, that I’d screw up…I’m thankful those lies didn’t win. Thank you Jesus for not letting those lies hold me down.

God kept telling me that I could. He didn’t let me forget about this photography idea. He did not give up on me even though I really wanted Him to. I wanted Him to forget the whole thing. (funny right?)Vision Collective (1)

It cracks me up to think that I thought God would just forget about it. Well, he sure didn’t forget. He kept pushing me until I finally shared my idea with my husband and sister-in-law.

When I finally shared my idea and spoke it into existence (instead of it just being in my head) things started to come together and I gained more confidence in the idea.

I didn’t feel paralyzed and felt that I could now be held accountable by my husband and sister-in-law. I will never be able to explain my greatfulness of their dedication to seeing me through the proper steps of planning and prayer.

Six months of planning, planning, planning… Then on January 28th, our first meeting… I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It made perfect sense. It was easy to have real conversation with people I met 2 minutes prior.

To have people feel like instant friends was so driven by God. That’s the only explanation.

I started this group because I felt the nudge to do so and because photography is such a huge part of my life. I saw that there weren’t many creative communities in the area. I wanted to do life with other photographers, to learn from them and bounce ideas off of one another.

I wanted community. I felt a lack of it in my own life. God answered that prayer and worked on me in a ways I didn’t expect. He gave me Hannah, Ryan, Kristen, Tina, Delana, Kaitlyn, Jared and Mario. These people are so special to me.

God  wasn’t asking me to join, He was asking me to start. I’m so glad that I eventually did. I’m grateful that our God constantly runs after us and equips us with the things we need.

Remember how I said I was an anxious person? That first meeting I was the polar opposite of my anxious self. I had God-given confidence, allowing me to present my ideas well and with clarity (happy dance)!

I wasn’t nervous. I just talked about what I loved: Jesus and photography. I still almost tear up when I think about those first stories we shared at our first Vision Collective meeting.

So what about the members of this group? How can I even start to write about them? These are some of the coolest, most passionate people I have ever met in my entire life.

They love this little thing called photography, but they don’t stop there. They use photography as a service to others. The coolest combination, right?

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My friends are my prayer partners and they are constantly looking for ways to help. They are servants. The ideas they shared that first night at group are ingrained in my brain:

“I want to use photography to tell people that they’re beautiful.”

“We want to be actively involved in the homeless community in Carbondale and use photography to help.”

“I want to take pictures of people that can’t afford it and give them prints for free.”

“I want to learn more about my camera so I can do newborn shoots.”

“Let’s use photography as a tool to help other communities flourish and start over.”

“I think photography can be used to serve the SIU campus and join together it’s artists.”

“I want to be in community with other photographers, serve Carbondale and glorify Jesus through all of it.”

How awesome are my friends? How inspiring are their ideas? God has given them each desires that we are now celebrating together! As a community, we get to join in on every step of the process! Different, yet with one focus.

Thanks to my friends for pushing me to be better in my craft, better in my service and better in my worship.

Pray for us that we will continue to stay true to our vision, exalt our Creator, share the Gospel and meet more and more creatives in Southern Illinois!

We look to Jesus as our ultimate creative. Look around us! Have you seen Giant City or Ferne Clyffe?

Vision Collective trusts that God will always be working in our area! We love you, Southern Illinois!

 

Article Offbeat

Where are you on your Jesus journey? Are you just starting out, heard the Gospel since you were born?

Wherever you’re at, I think there is an innate feeling in all of us that desires to do something different. We’re all just a little too scared to try it.

Even though I started following Jesus when I was 5 years old, for years I thought that my story wasn’t as exciting or inspiring as other stories. But over the past 4 years, God has been slowing teaching me that YES my story is exactly what it is meant to be.

My story may not have a crazy plot change in my high school or college years. I may not have had a tragic event where I encountered Jesus for the first time. But my story is important too.

Every walk is a continued process of Jesus bringing us more and more to life and constantly learning more about His character.

Along that walk there are stages. And even though it really freaks me out, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the time to start REALLY serving with the heart of our King! It’s time to serve with the talents we’ve been so undeservingly given.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a God that is insightful and trustworthy. He reveals the parts that are most in tune with His design and plan. If we trust his character, He will always come through.

In Scripture, God doesn’t promise that He’ll give us every, little piece to the puzzle, but He does promise that if we have faith and boldness He will come through (Matthew 28:20).

We’re not called to easy work, we’re called to Jesus work. I love how Douglass C. Mann says in his book, The Art of Helping Others, “To flourish requires others, to find contentment by being connected in relationships.” He continues to discuss how comfort isn’t found in solitude, but in relationship.

Many times we think that as artists we need to be by ourselves to fully dive into our creative worlds. I’ve found that this solitude only creates deeper solitude, not creativity. This solitude doesn’t create a lifestyle of imagination or originality, but in fact stifles God’s original design for our own lives. We were designed to be in relationship with others. Our souls are satisfied because of Gospel delight.

The work we do as creative followers of Jesus calls us to constantly plunge deeper into the water, discovering and gaining insight. These discoveries have so much purpose and let us decipher how we are going to love people best.

And if we choose not to love, we are not bearing the attributes of Jesus.

In this world, we need a push of boundless love and less conditional relationships. Why not jump into our communities with love?

Instead of escaping the things we don’t like about out communities, why not add parts that we think are missing? Why not start simple things that will create great change.

Why not start something new? Why not create the change for the area?

Do you see a lack of creative community in Carbondale? Start a group that meets to express creativity!

Want to get outside and enjoy Giant City State Park? Start a hiking group.

Do it! You are gifted for ministry! It doesn’t have to be extravagant or perfect. But you CAN do it! You really can.

Find something that you love and do it with other people. Make it different and don’t be afraid to be a little offbeat.

Marketed by Mission

In a world full of “ME” messages, how will you be known?

How do you market yourself? By market, I mean what’s your favorite way to spend your time? What are you constantly dreaming about or thinking about?

Are you marketed by fashion? By art? By chemistry? By exercise?

Are you marketed by how many RTs you get on Twitter or likes on Instagram? I’ve worked professionally in Marketing and Social Media, so I understand the time that is put into marketing yourself or a company.

In fact, this post itself is being marketed. I’ll share it on social media, hoping people will read it. But all of these things mean nothing if I write to be well-known.

I don’t want to be marketed by my writing, intelligence, who I hang out with or my hobbies.

I want my life to be marketed by mission. I want to tell stories of the goodness and sacrifice of Jesus and to be in community with people who will share life with me.

In fact, Jesus himself was a marketer and an artist. Matthew 15, Mark 7 and John 2 are all perfect examples of how Jesus portrayed the artistry of storytelling. He used His words to help people get out of their own heads. Art will do that to you, allowing you to see things a little differently.

Jesus used storytelling so people could become thinkers, so people could picture what Jesus was saying in their own way. He helped listeners understand principles like grace, wisdom, love, healing without solely using those key words. He painted pictures with the stories that He told.

He used this artistry to create beauty and to relate with others. They were leveling tools. Create images, paint a picture, relate with others…

I want to create and reveal truth like Jesus did. Instead of frittering away the gifts I have been given, I want to use them for the Kingdom.

A life that uses what I love to grow community, discipleship and the Kingdom…

Most of the world’s messages are not Kingdom messages, but inconspicuous messages that have a way of isolating us and insulting our communities.

I don’t want to share those messages. I want to be known by my mission of loving Jesus, encouraging others and leading people to Him.

During my blogging journey so far, my writing and mission have become more clear than ever.

If I stop focusing on being heard and more about what I’m feeling led to write, the more creative I will become.

It’s not about me.

The more I focus on what I feel that Jesus is calling me to do, the more generous I become.

I’m not writing so people will care about what I have to say. I’m writing so people will LEARN to hear out what I have to say. I want to help people listen to the Gospel and encounter Jesus rather than interrupting.

In fact, most of today’s marketing messages interrupt.

Don’t interrupt. Create intrigue. Create a world you want to be a part of. Create discipleship.

People want to discover. So let them.

Discovery is often found in weakness. Allow people to discover their weaknesses and lead them to Christ. He meets us at our point of desperate weakness.

So stay in your field and be faithful where you have been planted. There are dangers in jumping fields without instruction.

Serve with excellence. Market yourself as a servant.

What is your land? In what area has God empowered you to create change and shine for His glory?

When I think about the field I have been placed, I feel super inadequate. Like SUPER inadequate. How in the world could I do any good? I’m pretty ordinary.

I may be pretty ordinary, but I serve an extraordinary God. So extraordinary that He could love someone like me. I get even more pumped about ministry when I think this way. I know that I’m not in control. I realize that what I do does matter and it’s about what God will do through me.

We rule with the hear of a servant, but we serve with the heart of the King. This faith we have in Jesus is an intentional confidence in God’s character.

God wants the combination of His steady, constant calling and personal counsel in Scripture to characterize us. When we are developing in maturity, He keeps us alert for whatever He will do next.

Welcome God’s glory in a way that shows non-believers that the promises of God will come true for them.

I am grateful that I am loved by God regardless of my performance because I don’t exactly get this right all the time.

What’s cool is that I am constantly being shaped. He’s helping me discover what I’m good at, suited for and passionate about. He’s constantly teaching me more about how to lead effectively with love.

I’m a work in progress. God is consistently bringing me more to life. I am understanding more of the complexities of His love, reign and character.

Today’s messages may make a Gospel focus more difficult. I fall into those difficulties at times. In my creative community, I want to see the world for what it really is and then figure out how to best help it. This art that I so love is my way of seeing the complexity of the world. The more I practice the more I become aware.

I want to be marketed by mission.

P.S. Since we’re talking about mission, now is the perfect time to check out our new photography group: Vision Collective!

Vision Collective is a photography community in Carbondale, IL. We love Jesus, we shoot together, share life together and serve the community!

Check out Vision Collective’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for more info! Our first meeting is January 28th at 7 p.m. at the Carbondale Underground Network.

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