Braxton – Newborn

I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to do this little baby boy’s newborn shoot! Less than 2 years ago I did his big brothers and it was probably the easiest newborn shoot I’ve ever done. Something about those Keith boys…so chill and easy going. Braxton didn’t disappoint. He was awake more than we thought he would be but I don’t think he even cried once! We love the Keith’s and are so excited for their growing family!

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Thank you to my friend Valerie for letting us use her beautiful home!

Hannah

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It’s been one month since we announced that we lost our second baby. This past month has been filled with all sorts of emotions. Grief is a very hard thing to explain, especially when it’s a silent grief that no one knows or sees the effects of but you. This is why I share my story. This is why I open up. There are countless women out there who have lost children due to miscarriage that silently suffer. They don’t know how to talk about it, they don’t want to make other people feel awkward, and often outsiders just don’t know how to handle the subject. So it becomes “easier” for everyone else if we just don’t mention it too much. But I have had so many ladies reach out to me thanking me for sharing our story because it has put words to some of their innermost thoughts that they didn’t know how to express. It has helped them know they’re not alone. So I will continue to put our journey out there. I will continue to try to offer encouragement and hope, when all feels hopeless and wasted.

I really debated sharing this publicly for fear of how it would be received. Would other people think it was weird? Would they think I was dwelling too much on our loss? Will they think I’m holding onto something too tightly and in an unhealthy way? I don’t know. I don’t know how it will be received, but I know that I want to put this out there. I want to let others know that it is okay to walk your grief path in the way that YOU need to, not the way that society expects you to. So with that, I want to tell you about our second daughter, Hannah.

We found out we lost Hannah on October 10th, one month ago. At the time, we didn’t know she was a little girl. We just knew we had prayed for a child, the Lord had answered, and then the Lord took her away. It hurt. It caused so many questions, so much doubt, and so much confusion. For someone who grew up in church and with a biblical foundation and loved Jesus with all of her heart, I found myself surprised by how much I was struggling with the goodness and character of God. It’s humbling to even type that for others to read because it often feels shameful to have such doubts, but they have been real and raw, and I’m sure I’m not alone in the questions. See, I’ve known this whole time that God is good and His ways are higher in my HEAD knowledge of the Lord, but it was having a very hard time transferring to my heart and my belief. I felt like there was a roadblock between my head and my heart and I didn’t know how to demolish it. So many prayers, so many tears, so much wrestling with Scripture and conversations with my husband that left me grieving more. I wanted to believe the truth, but it was still SO HARD. More often than not, we have many “why’s?” that we asked God. “Why did you answer our prayers for a baby?”, “Why did you let me believe everything would go as planned?”, “Why did you take this baby so soon?” “Why would you put us through this twice?” —and the list goes on and on. And God, in His sovereignty doesn’t always give us answers to those questions. He builds our faith on His character, on His track record, on His goodness, His faithfulness, His mercy, His provision. He gives us Jesus, and that is ALL we ever need.

But the sweet Lord knew that my heart needed just one of those why’s answered. He knew it would build my faith in Him more this time to give me one answer than to leave me questioning.

At the time of finding out we lost our baby, my doctor asked me if we wanted to do chromosomal testing. My initial thought was, “What good will that do? It doesn’t bring the baby back and it’s not like knowing what happened with this one will prevent a future miscarriage. We can’t control anything so what’s the point in finding out?” But on faith, we said we would have it done, just seeking some sort of answers. Three weeks went by with no explanation and then I received the call. My doctor told me that they DID find something, which turned out to be what brought the peace from God that passes all understanding. She explained to me that our baby was a little girl who was missing a vital chromosome for normal healthy life functions. She would have to receive medical intervention for the entirety of her life. It was then that I KNEW, deep in my heart, that the Lord had been gracious to her. He saved her from a life of severe medical conditions and ushered her into heaven perfectly healed and whole. He chose to heal her sooner rather than later, and for that I am grateful. If her heart had continued beating and she continued to grow in my womb, we would embrace every part of her condition with open arms. We would love her unconditionally despite all of it. Yet, God’s foreknowledge wanted to give her what was BEST -right now- , and now she is enjoying the presence of Jesus, a gift we are HONORED to give her even though our hearts wanted her here with us. We decided to name her Hannah, because it means God is gracious. He was gracious to allow her to be spared of this sin-filled world and immediately be where we all long to be. In the Bible, Hannah live a very unpleasant life for the majority of her time on earth, but through her bitter circumstances, her life produced a son that changed the course of history. Her pain led to even greater joy. We know that if we hadn’t lost our first baby we wouldn’t have Adalynn. If we hadn’t lost Hannah, we wouldn’t know the joy that is to come. It is through trials and suffering that we understand joy and grace so much more clearly. If we never experienced valleys, we wouldn’t know or appreciate the mountain tops.

Does God always give us answers to our why’s? No, He doesn’t. And He may never answer any of my others. At least not all of them. But even if we had never found out details about Hannah’s life, God knew what He was doing. He knew he was sparing her life. He knew he was protecting her. And if we walk this familiar road again one day and never find a reason for any future losses, whether they be children or anything else, we can rest in the fact that God knows exactly what He’s doing, and we don’t have to. It doesn’t take away the pain, and grief is still very much real; but we can rest in the truth of our Savior and in His deep, abiding love for us.

So if you have walked this road, are walking it currently, or find yourself a member of this club in the future, please know you’re not alone. God cares about all of your questions. He is big enough to handle all of your feelings, even if they are too embarrassing to admit to other people. He sees you and He is not going to waste your tears. Walk through your grief. Get to know the Lord in the midst of it. See Him for who He is when you’re at your most vulnerable state. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

Love you all. Thank you for loving us so well.

A Familiar Road

How do you process something you hoped you’d never have to walk through….again?

I don’t know the answer to that, but our family is walking this road. With uncertainty, confusion, frustration, sadness, and brokenness, we are mourning the loss of another baby.

This week we were going to announce that we were expecting another sweet baby in April 2017. Adalynn was SO excited to be big sister. You could ask her “where’s the baby?” and she would immediately point to my belly. We had told all of our family, all the friends we came into contact with, and all of Matt’s coworkers.

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Little did we know that a couple of months after sharing the exciting news that we would also have to deliver sad news. On Monday I went in for our 12 week appointment. I went by myself because we had already heard the heartbeat twice and thought we were in the clear. Part of me was a little anxious about going to the appointment by myself, but the Lord clearly told me on Sunday morning as I was thinking about it “Do not fear, for I am with you,” and I realized in that moment I wouldn’t be alone. My friend Chelsea was keeping Adalynn for me, so it really was just me and the Lord. I had such peace. Sitting in the waiting room, waiting for the doctor, getting our financial outline for payments and hospital costs/delivery/etc., all I felt was peace. My worry had wasted away and I was able to rest and wait. As I sat in the back room waiting for my doctor to come in, I was reading through Proverbs 3, part of the devotion from my Bible in a Year plan, and these verses stuck out to me:

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord will all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

I was ready to get the appointment over with and share the good news with the world. But God had other plans. My doctor came in and tried to find the heartbeat…all you could hear was my own. We went to the ultrasound room and I knew right away. The baby hadn’t grown. There was no flicker on the screen and no sound coming from it’s little body. The Lord Jesus was holding our baby.

I will never understand why. I will never “get over” the hurt. We now have more babies in heaven than we have on earth. Somehow we have to try to help our almost 2 year old understand that her baby brother or sister is with Jesus instead of mommy’s tummy. But let me say this loud and clear: God gives GRACE. This pain is so raw and so real, and there are so many questions. There are so many moments where I feel angry and hurt that the Lord would take us on this path again. But He can handle all my feelings and is holding us so tightly in this. We are so unbelievably sad. My husband is grieving. Our family and friends are shocked and probably very uncertain about how to talk about this with us. It’s a messy place. But of this I am certain: This pain will not be wasted. The bigger picture is eternity. This life is so short and so small on the grand scale of things. Our babies are better off than if they had had to endure this sin-ridden world. We WILL see them one day again because Jesus took our sins upon Himself, nailing them to the cross, and conquered death. Because of His resurrection, death does not win. Our babies are ALIVE and well, enjoying the presence of Jesus. Having loved ones in heaven makes it so much more real. It is not an imaginary place of far-fetched ideas and fluffy clouds…it is HOME. And I know I can’t wait to be there.

I just want to say thank you to my friend, Brittany Price, who through her grief of losing her husband, obediently wrote the music that is ministering to my soul so deeply right now. Thank you to the Body of Christ that has swept in and taken us to the throne of grace in prayer, the countless people who have offered to make meals and watch Adalynn so we can rest and process. Each one of you has blessed us tremendously. We know we are loved, and by the way you are honoring our little one’s life, we are blessed.

These pictures are from an announcement photo shoot we did last weekend. It hurts to have this physical reminder of what no longer will be, but I am thankful for the joy on our faces and the fun we had taking them. Thank you Jess Wal Photography for capturing a sweet time for our family.

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Please continue to lift us up in the weeks and months to come. I have to have surgery this week and from what I remember from last time, recovery isn’t fun. I’m leaning into Jesus and trusting Him. He is good and kind and worthy to be praised.

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Kenzie + Tyler : Engaged

I had the awesome privilege of going to Panama City to do an engagement shoot for a sweet girl that I used to teach in Sunday school. Fast forward some years and now I work with her mom in the Juice Plus+ company and our paths re-crossed. I’m so thankful because not only are they the sweetest people in the world who love Jesus with all their hearts, they are a gorgeous couple who I know will use their marriage as a tool for the glory of God to bring point people to Jesus. It’s really a win-win. So without further ado, the lovebirds!

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I’m so excited for you guys, Kenzie and Tyler and so proud of how your perspective has been such a God-honoring one! Marriage is SUCH a gift, one that definitely will make you more like Jesus if you continue to surrender to Him! Excited for both of you!

Networking Marketing…for the Birds or for the Brave?

[Note: I wrote this in February but then experienced all the blog and website difficulties…so you’re receiving it later than I planned. However I still feel like it needs to be shared, so I hope you enjoy!]

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time, and seeing that I just celebrated my one year anniversary with the Juice Plus+ company in February, I thought this would be as fitting time as any to get some of these things out there for the world to read. For real, this could get lengthy because I have sooooo much to say.

Disclaimer: This post IS about the pros/cons of direct sales and my experiences with it during the past year. If you want to hear about my journey, read on…but if you want nothing to do with the conversation, please feel free to stop here. I’m not here to convince anyone of anything.

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As we all know, it seems like network marketing and direct sales have EXPLODED over the last few years. One in part due to social media and another because people are catching on. Listen, I’m a year in, so I’m a baby in this world, but the more I learn, the more I am intrigued. For years I have seen (mainly women, admittedly so, and I’ll go into more reason why I believe it attracts women more than men later) my facebook account has been overrun with people posting about this new product and that new product, as well as “if you join my team today, you’ll change your life forever!” rhetoric. I was ALWAYS turned off by it. I mean, literal eye rolls all day long. I found it so annoying when I was invited to purchase a new product from someone I hadn’t talked to since high school. I’m still frustrated when I’m added to groups or online parties without being asked first. That is what feels like you don’t really care about me as a person but literally just want to make a sale off of me, and I’m not down with that.

But here’s the ironic thing: there are many people who would now group me in that category. I am a part of a mission driven company that seeks to inspire healthy living around the world. How does it do that? Through people like you and me, sharing their stories on how Juice Plus has made a difference in their lives. To some, this is the most annoying business model out there. But to others, it is brilliant. Let me explain.

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All around me I see advocates for “shopping local” and “support small businesses.” As well as, “When you buy local you’re not buying a CEO another vacation home, you’re putting food on a family’s table and helping a mom get her kid in soccer.” Yet when it comes to supporting a mom (hi! me!) and allowing her to stay at home with her children by purchasing a product that you want* from her directly, all of a sudden she’s the most ignorant person on your friend list.

*I want to emphasize that you want. I’m not here to make you buy something you don’t have any interest in. If you don’t want what I’m offering, no hard feelings. Let’s both agree to disagree and still be friends in the process. Deal? 

When I first heard of Juice Plus (before I became a rep) I would ask the question, “why don’t they just sell it at a retail store so that it doesn’t carry a negative stigma to it when people find out it’s sold by independent distributors?” And then I learned that this is VERY intentional. If things are sold on the shelves of every convenience store, where is the integrity of the product? Where is the education? Where is the regulation? But when it is shared by individuals, then that gives me an opportunity to step into your life, teach you about whole food nutrition, share a product that is backed by 35 clinical research studies, and partner with you in your health journey. Call me crazy, but ain’t no Publix or Walmart gonna do that.

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Now. Let’s get back to why I think women are the main culprits 😉 to buy into this business world. In my experience, the VAST majority of women (not all, don’t hear me wrong), but most women, wives, and moms want just a few things from life: To feel valuable, to contribute to their world and their family in a meaningful way, to have time freedom to spend with their husbands, kids, friends, etc., and to pursue something they are passionate about. Who doesn’t want to love their job, spend time with their family, and contribute financially to the bills/paying off debt/fun money? Seriously? Who?? Women are seeing an opportunity that enables them to work from home, talk to people all the time, and be with their families. Is that something you can really be mad at them about?

Before I get too passionate, I’m going to bring this back home; to me and my life, and the past year of my experiences.

PROS:

  1. The Juice Plus product makes complete sense to our family. We’re lacking in the 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day we’re supposed to get, and this is a proven way to get that nutrition in our bodies. Check.
  2. I have seen family members and friends health positively change as a result of flooding their bodies with whole food nutrition every single day. Some examples? Matt’s sinus infections are gone. My asthma and allergies have dramatically decreased. Adalynn’s eczema has cleared up and she no longer has to live off of hydrocortisone and steroid cream.With those kind of results, I am compelled to share this with others. What kind of person would I be if I knew of something that could change someones health for the better and I kept it to myself?
  3. Financially, Juice Plus has been a blessing to our family. Have I gotten rich quick? Definitely not. But that’s why I respect this company so much. It’s a gradual building of residual income that directly helps you to see and connect with the lives that are changing as a result of this product.
  4. I have a hobby that I’m passionate about, fits into my lifestyle, and connects me with a community of like-minded people. I have made new friends and rekindled old ones. It has been so much fun sharing health with people that I care so much about.

CONS:

  1. If you can’t tell by my post, the main con I’ve experienced is the smug comments from others making it very clear to me that they think what I’m doing is “less than” their 9-5 job, and that just hurts my heart.
  2. It’s hard work. This business is not for the faint of heart. Just like starting any new business, starting your own virtual franchise doesn’t come without effort. Is it fun? Heck yes. But is it going to happen without being intentional? Nope.

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That’s it. Really. The benefits far outweigh the negatives, and for that, I am proud to be in network marketing. It took me a long time to be able to say that but I finally can. I am proud to be brave and to step out into a world that is made fun of, eye-rolled, and talked about under people’s breath. I am proud of taking a leap of faith to invest in something I believe in. I am proud to show my husband that I am working hard and want to help as much as I can with our finances to pay off student debt and keep our electricity on. I am grateful I can show my daughter what a hardworking woman looks like and to not give up in the face of adversity. I am pumped for the future…for the families whose lives will be changed by whole food nutrition, for my own family’s health and financial freedom, and for others who decide to step out of their comfort zone and willfully become part of the group that is considered annoying, less than, and selfish. Why? Because we know that that is the furthest from the truth. The truth is, individuals in network marketing are brave for stepping out on their own, entering an unknown world, going against status quo, doing what it takes to stay at home with their babies, and living their life for what they are passionate about instead of living in fear of what others think of them.

Has it been worth it? You better believe it. And I’m not stopping any time soon.

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Emmalin Faith – Newborn

As I said in my last post, because of my website being down for 5 months I have some catching up to do. I just wanted to share some of the goodness that has been happening even if it isn’t as quickly as I would normally have it posted. But I just HAD to share these newborn photos. Our friends Brandon and Lindsey are some of our dearest, and we are SO thrilled for the arrival of their sweet baby girl, Emmalin (Emmy). This baby was prayed for and over countless times, and to finally have her here with us is such a sweet blessing! Brandon and Lindsey are some of the best parents, and I know they will raise Emmy to love Jesus and treasure Him above all things. Thanks for letting me document your little love!

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And of course Brandon is a huge Michigan fan so he had to get this picture to document her first Michigan paraphernalia.  IMG_0568

I’M BACK!

Y’ALL.

My husband is a legitimate ROCK STAR. For those of you who don’t know, my website was shut down due to malware activity and for 5 months we have battled malware, hacking, deleted websites, poor customer service, re-hosting, countless phone calls and emails, and HOURS of frustration to get my website back up and running. And by WE, I mean 100% Matt. He has done ALL of the work to get all of my 5 years of files back up and running and I am SO SO SO grateful for his patience and servant heart because there’s a really good chance I would have given up long before he would have.

So all of that goes to say, I am BACK and going to be updating (semi) regularly again! I’ve done several photo shoots over the last few months that I haven’t been able to share that I’m going to start with, and I also have several coming up that should be available soon after they are edited.

Not that you’ve all been wringing your hands wondering if I would ever come back to the blogging world, but now you know why I’ve been absent and that I hope to come back full swing, ready to share my life with you and showcase awesome family’s photos and memories. Thanks for sticking with me all this time!

Now, look at my cute family 🙂 Photo credit: Kelsey Tice Photography.

View More: http://kelseytice.pass.us/therenneys

THANK YOU!

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This past Fall/Christmas season was the MOST FUN EVER. You people rock. Seriously. This is just a small snippet of the families who trusted me enough to take their family photos and Christmas card pictures for 2015 and I can’t say enough how HONORED I feel! To think that these photos are going to be treasured, printed, framed, or just stored on their computer for years to come and then found unexpectedly one day down the road and remembered with fondness of how much their kids have grown blesses my socks off.

Thank you all for allowing me the opportunity and please continue sharing with your friends and family! I would love to create memories for them as well! Happy New Year and here’s to 2016!

Jenna & Matt | Family

Jenna and Matt are some friends of ours from our small group at church. They gave me the opportunity to do my first photo shoot with a puppy! Challenging, but overall pretty cute…and that’s saying something considering I am definitely not considered a dog person 😉

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Nine Months Old |Adalynn Grace

(*disclaimer: I wrote out her 7 month blog post in a word document and somehow it didn’t save! 🙁 So then of course I planned on doing her 8 month one and that’s when she started getting super active so it didn’t happen then either. I’m really sad about it, but here’s to hopefully getting back on track and finish out her first year strong! Who can believe my baby’s almost a year old?! I don’t even want to talk about it.)

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9 MONTHS

Weight: 

15 lbs 15 oz. – 7th percentile! Still gaining, even though it’s slow!

Height: 

26.6 inches – 51st percentile

(The following pictures are when we were still having bouts with eczema when she was 6-7 months old…praise the Lord its completely cleared from her face now and almost completely cleared from her legs!)

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Happy First Father’s Day Daddy!
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This bear has brought more joy to her life than I even knew was possible. She attacks it with snuggles and wrestles it to the ground.

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Hanging out with Nonna while we went to the Braves game with Matt’s family. I think it’s safe to say they had a good time!

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These are the most recent pictures taken right around 9 months to catch us up to speed! Pointing at everything, needing to see and touch whatever she can get her hands on, and always exploring. Such a fun age!

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Sleep: 

Sleeping through the night every night! Praise the Lord in heaven above. She started around 7 months. She usually wakes up between 6:15-6:30. Every once in a while she’ll wake up around 5:45 am but will go right back to sleep. She’s working her way down to 2 naps a day and does pretty well with that. Just depends on what time she wakes up. Goes to bed between 7:30/7:45 every night.

Eating: 

At the start of 9 months we finally moved her down to only 4 nursings a day, every 4-4.5 hours. It has been a much needed change for both of us! She inhales 3 solid meals a day of pretty much whatever I will give her: sweet potato, oatmeal, avocado, bananas (her favorite), blueberries, peas, carrots, broccoli, chicken, pasta, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe.

Diapers: 

Size 3 comfortably

Clothing: 

6 month pajamas, 6-9 month clothes, and 9 month onesies.

Mood: 

A very happy girl. Content, chill, and an observer. She likes to take it all in. She laugh and smiles constantly. She loves to be flown around the house, tickled, and surprised. She’s starting to get timid around strangers and just snuggles mama closely when they’re around. It’s kind of the best.

Loves:

  • When Daddy comes home in the evenings. She straight up SCREAMS in delight.
  • Stuffed animals. She has one giant bear that we named “Mr. Snuggles” and she literally wrestles him to the ground. She also loves baby dolls and snuggles them the same way.
  • Pointing and saying “dot.”
  • Looking at and exploring everything. She is so curious these days.
  • Knocking down blocks
  • Eating
  • The coffee pot. Girl knows whats up.
  • When we look back at her in the mirror in the car.
  • Reading and turning the pages on her board books.
  • Looking at the monitor camera.
  • Her aden+anais swaddle blankets
  • The “itsy bitsy spider” and playing “this little piggy”
  • “Chasing” me around the house. Matt holds her tummy down in the air and leads her face first to chase me through the house. Then we turn around and I “chase” her. She screams and laughs the entire time without fail.

Doesn’t Love: 

  • Putting on her pajamas/changing clothes.
  • Being in the car for long periods of time.
  • Staying up past her bedtime.

Milestones:

  • Went to the beach for the first time in July. She absolutely LOVED it.
  • Starting crawling on her tummy. Hasn’t made it to her knees yet but she gets wherever she wants to go.
  • Got her first tooth (now 2 teeth!) on 6.18.15 when she was 7.5 months old. Two middle bottom teeth.
  • Says “dada” and “dot” constantly
  • Pointing

Looking Forward To:

Every day. She changes so quickly these days that I don’t want to wish away any time. The biggest thing I’m completely ready for is her saying “Mama.”

What I Want to Remember: 

  • The first time she willingly laid her head down on my shoulder to go to sleep. She just wanted to snuggle and I cried.
  • Her crinkly nose smile. She cheeses on purpose these days and is going to be a complete ham.
  • How she loves her blankies when she goes to sleep.
  • The way she touches and pats Matt’s face (his pick!)