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Home. It’s a place where you feel comfortable. Where you can let your guard down and feel at peace with the ones you love. It is often filled with joy and laughter. Even after a rough day, it can bring you cheer. But when you find yourself standing amidst piles of concrete as a jackhammer busts up the slab of your home and the dirt underneath it is exposed, home no longer feels like that safe place. And when you can’t go home, you end up feeling lost.

I think one of the biggest struggles we faced during the water leak was how it felt to stand in our house and it not feel like home. Just the feeling of walking in your house as it is all torn up, the smell of the dirt, the sting of the cold air because the heat hadn’t been on in weeks… it was hard to process. Every time we went to the house during those three months I would cry.

I remember one day in particular when Emma Claire and I had been out running errands and we decided to go by the house to pick up a few toys for the girls to have at the hotel. We walked inside and there was still a giant trench in the entryway by the back door. I had to carry EC over the trench and maneuver around the mountain of dirt that sat at the bottom of the stairs to find a clean spot for her to sit, which was hard to do because all of our furniture was gone and every surface was covered in dust that had billowed from the floor when the workers took a jackhammer to the concrete slab. She was exhausted, so I told her to sit still and that I would get what we needed as quickly as possible. I ran through the house jumping over piles of dirt and trenches in the floor to gather what I needed. I picked EC up and carried her back to the car. As we drove away from our house she started to cry and said, “I just want to go home. I just want to be home. I miss my friends. I miss playing outside. I miss being next-door to my best friend. Mommy, why can’t we go home?”

Much like us, our house was gutted, stripped down to its bare bones, broken, exposed to see what it was really made of. But just like us, it was well cared for, slowly put back together and is now better and stronger than ever before.

Every year, one of our dearest friends travels from Hattiesburg to stay with us for a weekend and take our annual Christmas card photos. The creativity that comes from planning photoshoots with Kelly is my favorite part. We’ve done everything from building mountains in the studio to making it look like time stands still as the world spins around us.

As we made plans for her visit this year, I could think of no better place to take the pictures than inside our house. When brainstorming ideas, I stumbled upon a concept that perfectly described what I wanted this year’s pictures to be.

Zeitgeist: the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

And of course, Kelly made it come to life even better than I pictured it in my head.

After months of standing in the concrete rubble, our home was restored to a place that was once again filled with comfort, joy, peace, love, laughter and cheer.

These images perfectly capture the Zeitgeist of our hearts in 2018.

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