Instagram: The Real Story

Knowing that I’d be getting off Instagram soon, I gave myself permission to scroll back through my entire feed to remember some of my favorite posts and comments. It was a really sweet, sentimental way to spend a few hours, but one thing I noticed was all the times that my caption didn’t tell the real story of what was happening. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite (and not so favorite) posts, along with the real story behind the picture ::


The Real Story: My eleven-year-old sister had used a pink Sharpie on her lips because she wasn’t allowed to wear makeup yet. (This was my very first IG post. Still no likes or comments. Ha!)


The Real Story: Even if I didn’t realize it at the time, I posted this picture because of my adorable pregnant body and my adorable pregnant outfit. A true selfie.

My darling husband surprised me with the best Mother’s Day present ever :: my very own blog.

The Real Story: In order to surprise me, Logan would wait until after I went to bed to work on my blog. He stayed up all night for days on end in order to make it for me for Mother’s Day.

Valentine likes trees.

The Real Story: Our visit to Muir Woods remains one of the best days of my life, purely because of the magic of that forest. I love this picture because it captures the joy that was in my heart.

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The Real Story: Valentine was 14 months in this picture!!! I still can’t believe what a tiny baby she was. It was almost surreal to see a child that small walking and talking.

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The Real Story: I took this picture the next day when I peeked into V’s room on packing day. Logan had lost his job, we’d just found out the church he was interviewing with was “going in a different direction,” and we had to sell our home. I remember feeling so sad, but also so full of faith that God would provide for us (which he did). This picture captured that paradox of emotions—the sadness of V losing her room, but the joy of seeing her surrounded by the love of a good father.

We know of no joy higher than being loved and loving in return, but a triune God would know that love and joy in unimaginable, infinite dimensions. God is, therefore, infinitely, profoundly HAPPY, filled with perfect joy—not some abstract tranquility but the fierce happiness of dynamic loving relationships. // Timothy Keller, “Prayer”

The Real Story: There were so many times when I felt conflicted about my engagement with social media, but I found a lot of peace in choosing to use the space as a place to share good things with each other, like this quote and this sunset.

Today on the blog I wrote about my style philosophy. My style “rules” are completely personal and sometimes weirdly specific, but it’s the first thing that’s helped me find a sense of contentment with my wardrobe :) Link in profile // 📷 by @jollyandbright

The Real Story: This is my favorite picture of myself.

Valentine :: This is fun.
Me :: What’s fun?
Valentine :: Us is fun.

The Real Story: This, this picture, this conversation, this…this is my greatest idol. C.S. Lewis has a quote about how a good thing is the greatest enemy of the best. The happiness and satisfaction I find in the company of my family is so intoxicating that it is the greatest risk to my exclusive and heartfelt worship of God. It’s a strange thing to have to work so hard to hold loosely that which your soul is screaming to grasp onto with all your might.

Ok, please excuse the self-indulgence, but I’m going to use all of you on Instagram as my accountability today. After rearranging some rooms months ago, this is the current state of our bedroom. (The actual bed is in a window nook to the right of this photo.) By the end of the day, using only what I have on hand, I’d like to make it a restful, uncluttered and pretty place for Logan and me. Here I go!!!

The Real Story: Maybe my weirdest use of Instagram, I really did end up cleaning and decorating this room, but it was cathartic to post this unfiltered picture of my bedroom in order to come clean about the inconsistently between my feed and my actual home.

Valentine was invited to a superhero birthday party today and she wanted to go as Hiro. She took along her bestie Baymax for company.

The Real Story: This sweet girl was absolutely obsessed with Baymax, but hated the movie because she would weep so violently every time Hiro’s brother died.


The Real Story: Completely candid, this photo remains my favorite that I’ve ever taken.

Reading books with other women is amazing. The #agbookclub was one of my favorite parts of 2015 and I’m already looking forward to next year. Today on the blog, there’s a quick survey to hear your thoughts so I can make improvements and a great book list for 2016. I’d really appreciate your input! :: Link in profile

The Real Story: The AG Book Club was something I feel proud of and enjoyed very much. Women are really good at talking with each other, especially about personal things, but what I loved about book club was that we were talking about ideas. This discussion of ideas taught me that everyone has a unique perspective and that I need to listen so much more than I do.

Most fun I’ve had in a long time at Logan’s 11-year-old cousin’s birthday party. The evening was spent riding horses, eating s’mores, letting the cold wind whip our hair in our faces and petting wiry old farm dogs. This farm girl couldn’t have been any happier.

The Real Story: Logan was super attracted to Horse Whisperer Aanna and I was super attracted to his long hair. We were very in love that night.


The Real Story: We had just landed in San Francisco when I got a call from my doctor saying that I would miscarry for a third time. My sister-in-law picked us up from the airport and took us straight to the beach. We sat in near silence on the sand, eating bread and cheese and letting that sunset comfort our hearts more than any words or gifts or service ever could.

Today I’m thankful for some good old fashioned work (ie. filing that stack of papers that’s been sitting on my desk for months). #aggratefulnesschallenge

The Real Story: The night before Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States and I had cried myself to sleep. I was so unsettled that I spent nearly the whole day filing paperwork.

Everyone deals with grief in their own way. When I had my miscarriages, it was hard for me to know how to process my pain, what to do with the hurricane of emotion I was feeling. Writing it all down helped me to process, and then my mom gave me this necklace - and a baby ring for each child we lost - and it was just what I needed to remember without being swallowed up in grief. Today on the blog I posted the story of one of my miscarriages :: Link in profile

The Real Story: I really struggled with whether or not to share this part of our story on social media. I had made a sort of rule for myself that I wouldn’t publicly share about big hardships or struggles while in the midst of them, but once I was well along in my pregnancy with Llewelyn, it seemed like it might be time to open up about our issues with infertility. I’m so glad I did, both for the encouragement I received from others and for the ministry that has taken place once that conversation opened up.

Thank you to everyone who helped try to find Xena these past few hours! She ran away when some fireworks scared her last night, but thanks to some savvy Facebook sleuthing, @mellysimmondsfound the person who had found Xena! So thankful this sweet dog is back at her home-away-from-home and that my sister and her children have their dog safe and sound.

The Real Story: It was awful when Xena ran away. She was the beloved pet of my sister and her children, who were in between moves and going through something very challenging. Logan combed the streets that night, and I sat inside posting on every single Facebook group I could find. We were sick with worry—but then Xena was found! This is still one of the best things that social media ever did for me.

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of my life. I am so humbled and amazed at what God has done. I am praying that he would be honored through this book and in the hearts of all who read it. And I am thankful to each one of you who bought the book, shared about it or wrote kind things about it. Also, to @lululoves6 for this bouquet that made me cry and the florist who went wandering in brush to find the perfect greenery for it. Can’t wait to party tonight 💃🏻 #iamadarling

The Real Story: See above (almost all of which was made possible because of social media).

We’re going to Iowa for Thanksgiving (my favorite place to be for this holiday!) so this giant cup of tea is giving me life while I wash all the laundry just in time to pack it 😜.(Thanks for the beautiful cup, @edendaygreer!)

The Real Story: In the days following the book launch, I physically, emotionally and mentally crashed. This was the absolutely worst day of it. At one point I called Logan at work and said, “I’m so tired I think I’m going to die. I’m not exaggerating.” We didn’t get to my parents house until midnight. The next day was my birthday and I spent most of it in bed. This is my absolutely least favorite Instagram post because of the dissonance between the expression on my face and what was actually going on in my heart, body and mind.

This little elf hopes you have a very merry Christmas Eve Eve.

The Real Story: No one thinks Llewelyn is cuter than I do.

Posted by Aanna on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

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