Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jacqui, with the French spelling. I am a child of God and if there is one thing I know, it is my hope is secure in Him Who holds the universe in His hands. I am a photographer who loves words. I talk a lot and love descriptive adjectives in groups of 3 for optimum impact of course. I talk even more, with higher speeds and more clarity, when I have coffee, which is why I’m known for 4 hour coffee dates. I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Russ, for almost 12 years. Russ is in the Montana National Guard and serves as a Chaplain Assistant and I am very proud of him and the hope he and his Chaplain bring to the soldiers. He is also going to school full-time for a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work, so to say we are a little busy might be an understatement. We signed up for a life of chaos having 4 amazing, all truly different but equally special children. Zion (9), Roan (6), Adelei (3), and Olivia (2). I have lived in Montana my whole life. Currently home is in East Helena which boasts small town pride and a tremendous school system while only being minutes from big city amenities. I am a perfectionist and I take a really long time to complete anything. I think the two are related. I don’t like exercise, but I do love sugar which really isn’t the best combination. I think I was supposed to be a pirate and I am obsessed with steampunk. My love language is Words of Affirmation which could explain my love for words and yes, flattery will get you anywhere with me. And I really dislike crafts, I would much rather design it on my computer or pay someone to make it. When I was little I wanted to be a farmer’s wife, a writer, a chef, a wedding planner, an interior designer, an owner of a coffee shop/Christian bookstore, but I ended up being a photographer who specializes in Family and Women’s Portraiture. My ministry in this world is women, especially wives and mothers. I believe I was gifted with the talent to see women as God sees them and to take pictures reflecting that beauty and that is something I am most passionate about.
Describe your perfect day.
Sleeping in, but having the sun wait to rise until I am ready so I can see it. Waking up without worries, stress, or an agenda. Going on a LONG coffee date with my husband or a good friend. Talking about everything from dreams to struggles and daily funnies without time constraints or interruptions. Eating lunch at a little gourmet café. Doing something spontaneous with my kids and seeing their excitement and surprise and laughing with them. Sitting in the square of afternoon sun in my favorite big chair with a quiet (and cleaned) house reading a novel or napping or day dreaming or all three. Having friends over for a BBQ and campfire and listening to the children squeal as they play hide-and-seek and savoring the taste of watermelon and s’mores. Lots and lots of hugs and kisses from my kiddos. And ending the day watching a movie (or two) with my husband. And since we are talking perfect, we might as well throw in a massage, zero sibling squabbles, calories not counting, and my hair looking like my hair stylist did it.
When do you most feel yourself?
Listening to soul pumping bluegrass/worship music with a steady powerful beat and instrumentation and hauntingly beautiful harmonization while drinking my coffee on a road trip with my family on the back roads of Montana.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Jon Acuff
Isaiah 61:1-3 but most specifically 3b: “…and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Tell us about a woman you admire.
There are so many amazing ladies in my life. I have been blessed with a grove of strong, talented, beautiful women. But, my mom is the one I would like to talk about. First, she had to be mother to me and my sister and brother and that was no easy task. She loves people more than I have ever seen someone love. She has the gift of mercy. Her soul connects to others’ souls and she weeps when you weep and she rejoices when you rejoice. She is the best person to go to when you are hurting or grieving or just got amazing news. Her hugs are truly healing. She was a teacher for over 30 years and the compassion she had for all her students is inspiring. She believed in them 200% and devoted herself to helping them be the best version of themselves. I think we could all learn how to love other human beings from my mom.
What was the last movie, TV show or book that really impacted you and why?
“The Intern” with Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro. I laughed the whole way through and it reminded me how good it felt just to laugh. It also hit close to home being a woman entrepreneur, just like Anne’s character Jules, trying to balance work and home life and wanting to succeed in your business, but not at the sake of losing your precious relationships or even who you were when you first started it. And knowing it’s OK to cry and that you don’t have to have it all together all the time.
Describe your favorite meal.
Shish Kabobs grilled in the summer evening with teriyaki marinated steak, mushrooms, zucchini, pineapple, bell peppers, and water chestnuts. With a chocolate dessert, of course. I just love good, real, gourmet food with lots of flavors and unique combinations with thought put into how it goes on the plate.
What’s one hobby or activity you’d like to get into, if you’d have the time?
I would like to start playing the piano again.
Describe one of your happiest memories.
Last October we went on a weeklong vacation to North Carolina to stay in a beach house and visit my brother who lives there. It was the first time my husband and kids had been to the ocean and it was such an amazing moment watching them run through the waves for the first time. Their laughter and smiles will always be one of my fondest memories.
How would your friends describe you?
I would hope they would say loyal, sarcastic in a funny way, passionate, an encourager. Someone who loves to give hugs and go on 4 hour coffee dates.
What do you value most in a friendship?
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
I would love to be able to sing like I hear it in my head. I also would love to know how to play the cello, the guitar, and the drums. On my bucket list is to become a barista and make those fancy designs in the coffee which would save me a lot of money if I knew how to do it. It would also be pretty cool to learn how to properly do my own hair and makeup.
Coffee or tea?
If anyone knows me, they would know the answer is definitely COFFEE! It truly is one of my favorite things on this planet!
Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate and if the only option is vanilla then vanilla covered in chocolate syrup so it can be mixed together to become chocolate.
Introvert or extrovert?
I used to think I was an extrovert, but as I get older, I am finding I am very much an introvert.
Rural or urban?
I feel I am a walking conundrum. Half of me would love to live in a loft and rock the city life with little cafes and walks downtown and cute shoes. But the other half, the Montana part of me, longs for open spaces, the breeze dancing over grasses in the field, porch life watching the sky change colors in the evening. I think that half has the stronger pull and I can’t wait for the day when we have a home in the country with 360 degree views of Montana.
Dress up or dress down?
Again, a conundrum. I used to love dressing up, but now I find that I go to my favorite yoga pants and hoodie and beanie and slippers and wear that same outfit every single day, all day long. Did I just admit that out loud? But secretly I do wish I dressed up more.
Cats or dogs?
Sunrise or sunset?
I am such a night owl, that I’m usually not functional or even awake at the sunrise time, even though I love the concept of the quiet morning hours. But I don’t usually miss a sunset and I think they are just about one of the best gifts that God gave to Montana.
Detailed or abstract?
Detailed, very very detailed.
Classic or modern?
Neither? I really like rustic vintage.
Call or text?
Text…I have kids usually screaming in the background, you won’t be able to have a conversation with me if you call.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction…imagination and fantasy are just way more fun than real life. Besides, wizards and dragons, need I say more?
Salty or Sweet?
Sweet, with salt on it. Cause we can have our cake and eat it too.
What do you love most about Montana?
Montana is truly a slice of Heaven on Earth, a gift from God if you will. It appeals to all five senses. It is a place where the people are proud and patriotic and hardworking and kind. A place where simplicity rules and people come to rejuvenate their souls. I especially love the hour before sunset where the great big open sky is full of warmth and light and the weeds in the field sparkle like gold.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I have really struggled on how to answer this one. The thing that comes to my mind first is my husband’s two deployments to Iraq, one right after we were married for 18 months and then the second when we had two young sons for 12 months. Those days were dark and they are thankfully a blur now, but going through them, they felt like an eternity. The second thing that comes to mind is starting a business and calling myself an artist. I never expected the challenges and tears and frustrations that come with that, but the successes make it worth it.
But the true honest answer, if I may be transparent, is dealing with depression for most of my life. I have not shared this with many people until now and I have gone back and forth on whether I should even talk about it because I don’t know if I want people to know this about me in such a public way, but it is the truth. Some days getting out of bed and putting a smile on my face is the hardest thing I have ever done.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Having a God Who loves me, my husband who has never left my side, my four beautiful children who remind me to just simply live, my family and friends who support me no matter what, a roof over my head and food on my table, and clean air to breathe. And coffee, you can’t forget the coffee!