July 1, 2015

The Messy Middle

This isn’t a photo that will usually do well on Instagram. In a world that loves to skip over the messy middle from Before straight to After (emphasis on After), the works in progress in our lives tend to get brushed over. We start to define the worth of our building stages, our not there yet stages, our don’t quite have it all together stages, and our- let’s be honest–  this is how I spend twelve hours of most every day in yoga pants and a messy bun stages, by an index of double taps and a forecast of followers.

But the truth is, my whole life is a work in progress. Every day I am being worked on. I’m learning to live more in grace, to walk in humility, to be braver than I thought I could be, and to let go just a little more. This is a picture of me this morning right after I woke up (#iwokeuplikethis …somehow I don’t think that’s what Beyonce had in mind) standing on our brand new deck that is itself a work in progress. I am standing right there in the proof of its messy middle. And it’s teaching us a ton.


Do you want to know what has taken our contractors the longest so far in this deck going up? It was laying the foundation… the part that most people will never see. The finishing work? The pretty parts? Those are happening really fast now. And from the outside to our neighbors, it probably feels like things are happening over night. But if they didn’t take the time to get that foundation part right, to dig a little deeper and build on something solid….those pretty parts that the world sees wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. And it would all fall apart pretty quickly.

So here’s to the messy middle. To the things that take time. The things that refine us. The things that are worth building first. Here’s to slowing down and taking the time to figure out what you stand for. For that is a far more beautiful thing than any of the pretty Afters could ever hope to be.

You just might be in the messy middle if you..

*Edit at night after you get home from the day job, so that one day you can go full time.
*Look up website templates and re-work your logo or about page about a hundred times on your lunch break
*Watch online videos in between naps and feedings to try to teach yourself this thing you want more than anything in the world to do
*Work or go to school Monday through Friday, only to then shoot a double header come the weekend.
*Follow blogs of people who are doing it to try to pick up whatever you can, and only hope they know how lucky they are to get to do what they love.

If you’re finding yourself in the messy middle right now, just know that we’re cheering for you. We’re SO proud of you. And this work that you’re doing- this tough, messy, in the middle, will it ever happen, get your hands dirty to build something out of nothing work- it matters. It counts. And you are doing something far bigger than you could ever imagine right now.

Go rock it out!

*PS: If you are one of those people who is trying to learn on your lunch breaks or while the kids are napping, we can help with that! Check out a bunch of FREE resources in our Pancake Sessions by going HERE. And we also have full courses on lighting, marketing & posing in our J&M Store if you go HERE!


  1. René Tate

    This makes me think of John entering grad school. It’s our messy middle. Messy middle of flying back and forth from CA to CO. To do what I love just a little longer, until he’s done with grad school and we start to build our forever home and family.

  2. Brooke

    THANK YOU for this… I feel like I’m continually thanking y’all for the encouragement, education and inspiration you provide, but that’s just because you never cease to give it. From someone smack dab in the Messy Middle (full-time job, toddler and almost 6 months pregnant with baby #2), I needed this. And it went straight to my heart. So again, thank you. For everything.

  3. Sarah Bradshaw

    Your “you can do this” posts are my favorites. The reality is that

  4. Sarah Bradshaw

    Oops. The reality is that most of life is lived “in the middle. Learning to be comfortable with that.

  5. Wynona

    You speak to my heart! Thank you for the reminder of how important the foundation is. And seriously, learning and working while the kids are napping. How true! And you look absolutely beautiful inside and out! :)

  6. Sarah Houston

    You guys are amazing!! I’m in the messy middle of trying to go full time-so currently editing till 1 am then going to work for another 8 hrs…it’s messy. Thank you for cheering me on and for those who are going through it too..Justin + Mary are THE BEST teachers-so take the leap and learn from them!!

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