The Atkins Family

Colorado Springs Family Photography

Dad- Luke

Mom- Justine

Oldest- Shea

Second Oldest- Charlie

Second Youngest- Lucy

Youngest- Craig

Colorado Springs Family Photography

How did you two meet?

Justine: We met in high school our sophomore year. For me, it was love at first sight. I fell hard and fast for the new jock who was so lovable, servant hearted and easy to be around. And of course cute! It took some time for him to feel the same about me, ha! But by the beginning of our junior year we were inseparable and have been together ever since! Luke and I got married about 7 months after we graduated high school. Nathan Peterson’s song “Dancing in the Minefields” is almost word for word our story! We bought our rings from pawn shops and fought hard through a lot of mess but by God’s grace we always came out of it fighting for our marriage and each other. We are dancing in minefields! God brought several mentors and friendships into our life that have encouraged us to fight fair and move towards each other in kindness. We joke with people that we are highly dysfunctional, deeply in love and highly committed ha!

How long have you been married?

14 years

Was it love at first sight? When did you know she was the one?

Luke: I laughed at this one! No, it was not love at first sight for me. About a year after we met I asked her out, and a few weeks after we started dating I knew she was the one. I just knew it was right. Even at 16. Our friends joked with us about it all through our last two years of high school.

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How long had you been married before having kids?

Justine: We had been married 2 and a half years when our first daughter Shea was born! Oh my heart that baby changed our lives!

Most embarrassing parenting moment?

Justine: The first one that came to mind was a time in the grocery store. Need I say more??? I think every mom has a grocery store story. Oy. There was a time when shopping HAD to get done and 3-year-old Craig screamed and pitched a fit the entire time as loud as he possibly could. Oh man if looks could kill. I got in my car and sobbed.

Candid, Jen Lints, Photographers, Family, Sisters, Daughter

Jen Lints Photography, Mother, Daughter, Candid, Love

Colorado Springs Family Photography

3 Girls and a boy, tell me a bit about that dynamic. Has it been hard for Craig or does he love being the only boy? Also how do the girls feel about it?

Justine: This is such a fun dynamic! As a mama I absolutely LOVE having three daughters! They are a joy! I love watching their different personalities and styles! And watching them develop different interest. My favorite part is watching their friendship. My sister and I are closer than the closest sister bond and I hope my girls have that!

Als0, as a Mama, I LOVE having a son! He is the baby of the family through and through. When we told Shea, who was 4 at the time, that she was going to have yet another sibling but that we didn’t know the sex of the baby yet, she burst into tears and begged us for a brother. And she was later thrilled to find out that God had a brother in His will for her! But before you feel bad for the only boy, Craig has 4 boy cousins who live about 3 minutes from us so he does not hurt for boy connections. Craig is so full of snuggles and kisses for his Mama and is also already a little athletic stud! It’s so fun to watch him grow!

Any advice for good ways to relate to your daughters?

Luke: I carve out time to talk and listen to them individually on a daily basis.  This usually happens as I’m making the bedtime rounds. Another good way to spend time with them is to take each on little dates here and there. It does not have to be anything big, sometimes it’s just an errand. I just want time with them and they want time with me. I don’t want my kids to ever doubt they are important to me. I want them to always know I love them and I am here for them. I hope that since I started this when they are young, it will already be habit for the hard, emotional teen years.

Sisters, Bond, Jen Lints Photography, Love

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How do you make time for family time?

Justine: Oh man. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is right?! I try to make sure to block off certain days and times that are just for the 6 of us. So I sit down with my planner (that’s right I still have a paper planner) and block off weekends and nights throughout the year. If I don’t, the crazy busyness of life takes over and everything else, sadly gets our attention.

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What is your favorite family activity?

Justine: Hiking!! And camping! We love being out in nature as much as possible. We also love time with our extended family and friends. We are so thankful for the army of people we have cheering us on through this crazy life!

If there is one piece of advice you could give to new parents what would it be?

Justine: Oh my heart. Give yourself the grace and permission to just focus on your new family and not be sucked into all the world tells you you should be doing. Soak up each stage. Those baby/toddler years are the most exhausting years. Practice kindness in parenting from the very start so that when they start sassing and talking back it’s easier and more natural for you to discipline in kindness and love, instead of in anger. I wish I hadn’t been so reactionary when my babies were young.

And don’t compare yourself to other mammas. The ripple effects are ugly. Trust your mama instincts about what’s right for you and your family as you navigate the different options in the world of parenting. Live in confidence not competition. Women need to rally around each other! And if all else fails, there’s always prayer. Just kidding, always start with prayer. And end with prayer. Maybe just pray without ceasing through it all!

Luke: Always make sure your kids know you love them. And sleep when they sleep, ha!

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What does family mean to you?

Luke: My dad died suddenly when I was 19. Just before our wedding. I was really close to my dad and it was really hard on me when he died. He was a great man. My dad was always intentional about spending time with each of his kids. We were always out doing thing together. I’m so glad I have those memories. Since all of our days are numbered I want to be the kind of dad to my kids that my dad was to me. And I think often about how much he would have loved to know his grandkids. And I don’t want to take my time with my kids for granted. How my dad lived is still the biggest influence and driving force in my life. Even 15 years after his death, the kind of husband, dad and man he was influences the kind of husband, dad and man I want to be.

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