Tag Archives: personal

twenty-six years

my dearest husband,

TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY!! it’s the day we celebrate you + your life and everything you mean to this world!

this past year has been one of your best. you traveled from coast-to-coast – from mountains to riverbanks, desserts to waterfalls. you’ve gotten back into “high school” shape and ran your first 10k race (one of my proudest moments of you)! together, we moved into a new neighborhood and you thrived at the greater opportunities to build community. you challenged yourself and those around you to become better individuals. you stretched your intellect and knowledge through school work, church outlets and life circumstances. every day, you strive to be the best husband, friend, son, brother that you can be… and for that, i am eternally grateful.

my love, i am SO thrilled + honored to share this life with you. i am continually awed by your wisdom, your intuition, your perseverance, your strength and your ability to love deeply. i pray that your 26th year is amazing – full of growth and new adventures. i cannot wait to see what the next 365 days hold!

ps, you are so handsome. thanks for letting me take pictures of you as we adventure :)

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the don’t give up project

This has been a long-time coming, and it’s hard to get it into words, but I want to share with you about 72 hours from last August, and how it is continuing to mold me…Approximately six months ago, I started an intentional journey. I got on a plane in Detroit (I actually missed my first flight by 2 minutes… worst feeling in the world), and headed west. The destination was Divide, Colorado, and I was heading to spend a few days in a large mountain lodge with about 20 strangers.

I didn’t know what to expect.
I didn’t know what to feel or
how to handle myself.
I felt inadequate and nervous, but
I knew,
within the depths of my soul,
that this trip was

I was attending a workshop/retreat with the Parsons. Jeremy + Ashley are an awesomely fun, totally-in-love, photo-taking duo based out of Kansas City, MO. I have followed their work since 2008 and I am continually inspired not only by their photographs, but their life, in general. For the past few years, their work and their approach has taught me and affirmed in me that there is a different way to be a photographer. There’s a different way than just trying to be your own boss or take pretty pictures or have the best equipment or be the hippest + coolest artist. Their approach has taught me that it’s ok to care and to feel. It’s ok to adventure and it’s ok fight for good and for beauty. The past couple years, they’ve been inviting other photographers to journey with them… to discover a better story about themselves and about others.

So on August 7th, 2012, I met up with a handful of strangers at the Colorado Springs airport and hopped in a van to the mountains. This wasn’t a “how-to-shoot-like-us” workshop. This wasn’t a “tips and tricks” seminar or conference. This was a retreat… an experience. A time to get away, to reevaluate ourselves, and to connect with other photographers who have similar dreams and goals. We spent three days laughing, crying and encouraging each other. We read stories together and shared our hopes and our fears. We embraced whimsy, watched the sunrise and wandered through the aspen trees. We drank lots of coffee and ate the best food I have ever eaten. Oh, and we took a lot of pictures, too. :)

I learned a lot about myself in those three days and I gained a greater understanding for WHY I want to spend my time photographing individuals, weddings and life events. But, I’m continuing to figure it out. I’m still writing my own story and striving to be a better author of it every day. I’m grateful to be on this journey and to be able to share this crazy life with wonderful family, friends, and all the amazing individuals who invite ME into THEIR stories to photograph them.

Why am I telling you this? So maybe, you can better understand where I’m coming from as a photographer, as an artist. Or maybe, you can connect with these words and will invite me into your story. Or maybe, you’re a photographer and you feel like the Don’t Give Up Project was created for you. If so, you’re in luck, because my friends, Jer + Ash are traveling to the great lodge one more time this March. And maybe, just maybe, you’re meant to be there.
Jeff + Erica were there to videograph our days together. They put together a really lovely film that you can see by clicking here.The second afternoon, we followed Jeremy + Ashley as they photographed Jayden + CarolineThis is Stephanie. She has a heart of gold.On our last day, we woke up before the sun and ventured outside to photograph our amazing chefs for the week, Dave + Jessi.this is jeremy + ashley. just two people trying to live a good story and share it with others. so thankful for them.

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drew + alyssa

Oh gosh, where do I begin? These two individuals have literally been a godsend to Jonathan and I. Though we have a ridiculous amount of mutual friends and acquaintances, we didn’t officially meet Drew + Alyssa until July 2011 at a wedding I was photographing. They had us at “hello” and life hasn’t been the same since!

The fact that they have only been present in our lives for the past 18 months really boggles our minds. “How have we only known each other for this long??” is something we often catch ourselves wondering! We have shared numerous meals, games, late nights and dance parties. Alyssa and I have drank way too much coffee together and traveled hundreds of miles for adventures near and far. We share similar values, interests and life goals. These two are both such an encouragement to us – spiritually, emotionally and with life in general.

I recently heard someone describe their friends as “champions” of their relationship. And you know what, I think that is the perfect description for Drew + Alyssa. These two really are champions – for their marriage, for our marriage and for others’ marriages – and that is a BEAUTIFUL thing. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that they were placed in our lives to be two of our champions – to fight for us, to encourage us and to have a crap-ton of fun together. I am beyond grateful and humbled that God would choose to place such an incredible couple in our lives.

So, today, I get to share with you some of my favorites images, ever. ;) These are the images from a rainy, chilly, autumn day when we ran around town celebrating love, marriage and friendship. Drew + Alyssa wanted their session not just to be about photos, but about the two of them. We spent a significant amount of time figuring out what the session would look like and determined, it was going to look be full of “normal” activities for them – drinking coffee in the living room, getting fancy for a date at the park or the pub, and being casual for an evening around the neighborhood. We started as the sun rose and finished as the sun set. It was a magical day and I was honored to capture this time in their lives. :)

Annnnd so, because these two are always up for anything, I’m switching it up and sharing a slideshow… with one of their favorite songs. Enjoy!

drew + alyssa // married! from jennanibal on Vimeo.

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three years

What a blessing it is to share this life with Jonathan… to dream, to grow, to travel, to enjoy this crazy adventure together. I couldn’t be more humbled and joyful to have this man by my side. And today, we celebrate 3 years of marriage together!There were a lot of things I thought I had figured out when we got married. I mean, by the time I walked down the aisle, we’d known each other for 17 years and had dated for almost 5 years… and yet, somehow, 3 years into marriage, this man still continues to amaze me!

Our third year has been a learning year, a transitional year and a growing year. In the past 365 days, we’ve witnessed our best friends marry each other (score!). I moved on from my part-time position and became a full-time photographer (yay!). We moved out of our first apartment and into a house with a pretty rad couple to experience what it means to live in community. We helped start an urban farm with our GR “family”. We welcomed my brother + his wife to the Mitten state and were overjoyed to meet our sweet niece Lexi a few months ago. We made new friends, strengthened old relationships and learned more healthy rhythyms of caring for each other, our loved ones and those around us. This past year has had more mountains than valleys and for that I’m truly grateful.

Now, what would be a photo blog withought a few photos? :) In June, a few weeks before we left our first home, we invited our dear friend, Alyssa, into our home to commemorate our time and space in the place we spent our first few wonderful and challenging years of marriage….
Year THREE – you’ve been good to us. Jonathan, I am beyond grateful for who you have been, who you are and who you are becoming as a husband and as a man. I love you to the moon and back and I am honored to walk through this life with you. With that said, and with God in our side, I say, bring it on, number four! :)

a look back… YEAR ONE // YEAR TWO // ps, that wedding photo? my awesome friend ABBY took that one, and all the other wedding photos you’ll ever see ;)

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alexis – a don’t give up story

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since picking up a camera – it’s that every image tells a story. However grand or insignificant the story may seem – there’s one to be told, shared, enjoyed, remembered… in every image. This is something I’ve been learning and processing since day one of being a photographer. I know how to technically and artistically make an image, but being a storyteller is something I’ve been recently figuring out and I think it is one of the most important parts of who I am. As I journey through my own story, I’m so grateful for the chance to come along others, watch their families grow, marriages blossom and lives continue to unfold. This past season, I’ve especially learned a lot about what it means to be storyteller and I’ve had the joy of spending much time with families and couples, young and old. I can’t wait to share more of this storytelling process and journey with you as time allows, but for now, I have a really wonderful story to share with you… one that hits very close to home…

+ + + + + +

We were overjoyed when my brother, Peter, called last spring to announce that they were expecting another baby. This was to be their fifth child and they could not wait for his/her arrival. Having had a couple difficult pregnancies before, my sister-in-law, Nicole was put under the care of a high risk doctor. Unfortunately, in May, at about 18 weeks, there was little movement and doctor’s struggled to find a heartbeat. The baby’s fluid was dangerously low, to the point where doctors told my brother and his wife to “expect the worst.” One doctor even asked if they would prefer to terminate the pregnancy because it was highly probable that the baby would not live to see the light of day. Their answer was immediately, “no” – not only because they believe that God is author of life, but because they also were not just going to give up on this child. This baby, for however long they were given with him or her, was theirs to take care of and love and cherish. So, Nicole was placed on full bedrest and monitored for weeks (did I mention she had four other children at home??).

After many big + little miracles, we were able to watch this sweet babe continue to grow and levels begin to stabilize. They found out they were having a baby girl and with every passing week, we praised the Lord because that meant we were potentially one step closer to meeting her! The initial goal was to make it to 24 weeks… and every week after that was a bonus!

The stakes were high even as this girl got close to full term (a miracle in itself!). People around the nation were praying and we were hoping and believing for the best. At 36 weeks, it was unclear whether or not it was a good time deliver, so they let her stay in for a few more days…

On September 5th, almost 20weeks after the doctors told her parents to give up, a healthy + happy baby girl named Alexis entered the world! She is a sweet, gentle girl, who is loved to pieces by her parents, four siblings and a plethora of family and friends. I can’t wait to watch her grow and see how her beautiful story develops! :)

+ + + + + +

Friends, I believe this story is a testament to life and perseverance. I don’t know what trials you are facing in your life, in your relationships, with your health, your job or your loved ones… but don’t give up. We are only given one life, one story to share with the world. Fight + persevere through the tough days, snuggle + laugh on the sunny days and never, ever give up on believing in truth and love. This crazy life is worth fighting for and I hope this sweet babe can be a solid reminder of that to you today…

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