I confess. I’m a cropper.

I crop out extra people who are distractions… 








I crop out the trash at the entry of an inviting alleyway…











I crop out clutter and the boring in order to highlight the spectacular…










I remove the trucks parked by the cathedral, and I crop out the crowded parking lot by the historical ruins.

I’ll show you the best—all the highlights without the mess.

I do it naturally when I take a picture. A perfect example was the evening we came down from Machu Picchu and we sat in a riverside restaurant for hot tea before boarding the return train to Cusco. When I snapped a picture of Gary with the tropical mountains behind him I was careful to frame it so it wouldn’t show the accumulated trash along the river or the man urinating on the large boulder just below us.

It really was beautiful, if you’re okay with overlooking some mess.

If I don’t manage to frame the picture just right when I snap it, then there’s the convenient crop feature that allows me to eliminate any distractions when I edit the pictures in the comforts of my home.

If you ever look at the picture book that I’m making this week of our We've mastered highlighting the best and cropping out the mess. Here are 3 tips for when you look at others' picture perfect lives and portray the same image yourself.recent trip to Peru and Ecuador, you’ll see the beauty without the mess.

I’ve spent hours cropping pictures. And lucky for you, you don’t have to know about the sick days, the icky bathrooms that never have toilet paper, long bus rides or near misses in the airport.

Like I said, I’ll show you the best—all the highlights without the mess.

If you are like me, you are skilled at “cropping” more than just the picture books. We’ve mastered the art of highlighting the best and cropping out the mess so our lives look picture perfect to those who take a glance.

We crop out the difficult people, the complicated family dynamics, the baggage from our past. We crop out the unbecoming desires of the heart, the roots of resentment, or the anxieties that rob our peace of mind. It’s all still there, we just put on the happy face for the picture book, Facebook, or a friend we see in the grocery store.

We see each others’ cropped images enough that…

  • we start to believe that we’re the only ones with mess.
  • we get jealous of other people’s lives who don’t have difficult people, baggage in the alleyway or boring routines.
  • we feel sorry for ourselves, because mess must be the exception to the rule.
  • and we get tired of keeping up our own cropped image.

As I continue to edit and crop my pictures for the picture book, I’m going to remind myself that….

  1. Everyone has mess.
  2. We need some close people that we share the unedited snapshots of life with. Everyone doesn’t need to see the trash in the alleyway, but we need some people that we trust enough to be honest with about our messes.
  3. There is still beauty even where there is mess.

And just for you, I’ll share a picture that won’t even make it to the picture book. (Sorry, I can’t skip lunch, even if I am walking on the Inca trails at Machu Picchu.)

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