Bluebonnets in the Heart of Texas

If you live in Texas, springtime brings the much anticipated bloom of the bluebonnets in nearly every roadside ditch and field.  My husband and I took a drive on country roads out to Fredricksburg and back one lazy Saturday in April, and I felt nearly drawn to tears by the gorgeous, lush sea of blue flowers paving our way.  It’s no wonder bluebonnet photo sessions are a necessary part of living here!

This beautiful family is the reason my husband and I moved to Texas.  Pastor Ezra and Kendra Stanton started Mission Church in Round Rock.

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Shout out to Kendra of Citizens of Beauty for modeling her beautiful family, as well as Pastor Ezra of Mission Church.

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Sunday is Coming

How the disciples could have endured the two nights of utter darkness when they questioned all they had believed for the past three years, all they had given up to follow a man who just died, if they only knew that Sunday was coming.  Faith, doubt, faith, doubt: It was a rollercoaster ride Jesus took them on, and this was the ultimate plunge over the top, a bottomless, terrifying spiral down.  How could one of their best friends betray the man they followed as God?  How could he betray them, too?  (Luke 22:21-23)

 

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Peter, carrying the heavy burden of his guilt, even knew what he had done when Jesus looked him in the eye (Luke 22:61) and bitter sobs wracked his body.  He had been through a lot in his life, but he had never felt the deep heart shattering sorrow of hurting—no, betraying—his best friend.  And he could not save him, could not rescue him, and no, he really didn’t want to go to prison or die with Jesus like he thought he could.  His courage was a flash of fire, but it disappeared when he realized what that meant.  His mother-in-law came to mind, his family’s faces looked him in the eyes, living life screamed at him and he ran—a blanket of smoke smothering his lungs.

Darkness not only filled their souls, it filled the sky, too.  Black ominous clouds covered the land in the middle of the afternoon, the sun disappeared, and a cold wind began whipping around the grasses and stirring up dirt.  People clutched their cloaks tighter around their shoulder, hair stinging their dusty tear- streaked faces as they stood at a distance watching the limp men hanging on the crosses.  Jesus was there in the middle.  His body was limp too, blood dripping from his side.  Hope died.  The brief reign of darkness began.  There was no room in their minds for the promise that Sunday was coming.

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They forgot that when Jesus said it, it happened.  They forgot creation was at Jesus’ beck and call.  They forgot the miracles.  They forgot the dead people raised to life before their eyes.  They forgot Jesus said, “Three days.”  Because they didn’t understand.  They didn’t understand the promise that Sunday was coming.

So they sat in hopeless mourning for two days—Saturday was the Sabbath, so they could do nothing besides gather together and talk about what had happened.  Perhaps they were just silent, wells of tears were dry.  Their heads hurt like their brains would explode, yet sleep was elusive.  Candles filled the room to futilely chase away the darkness, as the sun did not rise that morning—maybe it never would again.  It seemed as though this Sabbath would never end.  Someone suggested they talk about planning for the next day’s fishing trip, but no one wanted to even think about fishing; it only brought up memories of Jesus.  And then someone broke down into a body shaking sob.

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Everyone wanted this nightmare to be over, to wake up the next day and realize it was all a bad dream.  That Jesus really wasn’t dead.  That they really could hope their sins were forgiven and that the promise of eternal life was really theirs.  That their lives would mean something for eternity and that their three years with the Messiah would make a difference in the world.  They didn’t realize there was just one more night.

Then Sunday was coming.

 

A Backwards Glance

Am I the only one who still has Christmas decorations up on the 7th day of January?  This beginning of the new year is melancholy for me because I dread taking down Christmas; packing it up, putting it away.  And as I glance back at a few Christmas photos I took of the calm moments of the season, I wanted to share a journaling I wrote a few weeks before Christmas.  It still applies in January, or February, or…

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We’ve crossed over the threshold of the end.  Stepped into December, ready to shed off the soggy, freezing and muddy coat of 2016, drop it on the floor, enter into the warm, comforting holiday season; Christmas giving us a greeting kiss on the cheek.

Despite living in the sunny south state of Texas, the wind is moaning around the corners of the house today, the drizzly rain sliding like tears down the kitchen window.  I took a moment to enjoy the soft trickle of steaming hot coffee slowly pouring out of the French press, filling my mug.  Immediately I reached out and wrapped my hands around the warming ceramic.

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The house, likewise is warming my soul this morning, the Christmas tree lit, its white happy lights greeting me awake.  Besides the wind, it is silent, peaceful, the steady hum of the fish tank pump melding into the background.  I could have a morning like this every day; slow, relaxed, pressing my “to-do’s” to the back of my mind despite their constant fight to spin me into a stressed-out tizzy.  I look up at the folksy calendar adorning my kitchen wall, with a painted pine tree atop a hill of fallen snow.  It says in white, “All is calm, all is bright.” I smile as I think of how I could preserve the page and frame it to hang every Christmas.

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And this is the ideal moment God whispers, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Like the knarly winter coat, drop it all away and be still.  Know. I Am.

How much harder to do this in the imperfect everyday chaos.  I run out the door late, drink my breakfast in the car, shout at the cars going so slow, C’mon! And the other day I tipped over the French press on the floor of the passenger side because I was in such a rush to get out the door and have my coffee, too.  My car smelled like coffee for days.  Old coffee.  A reminder to slow down, allow myself more time.  Be still in this moment.

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In the stillness, there’s a knowing, a deep knowing there’s more, profoundly more to my life than a rushing to my stressful 8:00-5:00 job. There’s actually a plan in place written by the Lord who created me.

More importantly in the still, he wants me to know him, not his plan for my life, Him.  I AM, he says; this is what he wants me to know.

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He is sovereign above the chaos of the world, all knowing over my life, the shepherd of my soul, a firm foundation upon which I need to stand, the steadfast anchor of my soul.  He is good.  He is love.  Fierce as a lion, sacrificing and innocent as a lamb.

His plan was sending his son Jesus as a simple baby—entering humanity like we all do.  Becoming like us, to connect with us like no other god ever could or would.  Loving us ultimately at the cross, yet starting in a feeding trough.  Giving us Christmas.

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I wonder how God felt—planning this amazing gift for the world, wondering if we’d accept it or not, whether we’d actually like it or want to secretly return it without the receipt.  And that joy as he watched the unwrapping of the gift—Mary and Joseph, the barn animals, the shepherds, finally the wisemen—and he held his breath, smiling.

Hold also your breath this season, stop and watch the coffee pour, the rain or snow fall, the cat curled up under the tree, the kids’ laughter through the house, the cinnamon rolls baking, a hug from your family, or if you’re alone, also, be still and know God loves you.  He has since the beginning.  Unwrap his gift to you and don’t return it.

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All is calm, all is bright… As you hang up 2016 on the coat hook and take on 2017, wrap the wonderous love of God around you, unafraid of what the new year will bring.

“Be still and know I AM God.”

City of Roses Family #1

I had the opportunity to visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest over Labor Day weekend to attend a dear friend’s wedding (engagement photos here).  It was a blessing to be able to have mini sessions with three families whom I have photographed for the past few years.  This is Family #1!

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I can’t believe how quickly little ones grow up!  I miss you my friends and it was wonderful to spend some time with you!

Texas Charm

My husband and I moved to Austin, Texas in February, and our transition from the Pacific Northwest to the hot beautiful hill country of central Texas was made possible with the help of this amazing couple.  With our intent to rent a house being immediately discarded due to high rental cost and quality of options, champion realtor Ivy Stanton found us a perfect brand new home and walked us through the buying process from the moment we set foot on the property to the final signing of the papers.

If you live in the Austin area and are thinking about selling your home, Ivy and her husband Ed offer concierge, trustworthy service and complimentary professional staging.  And please know I am not being compensated in any way to write this post, it is truly a joy to know this couple and we feel so welcomed in Texas, thanks first to them.  I am honored that they asked to have a photo session with me.  Enjoy!

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What a story we have about this journey to a new land, one that has had blessings poured out upon us each unknown step of the way.  If you ever need your faith in God to grow, move out of state to a new settling place!

And if you live in the Austin area, I’m now booking for portraits and family photos!2016-07-23_0007

2016-07-23_0010Here’s a link to Ivy’s website: www.ivystantonhomes.com

Kissing in the Rain

I can’t say enough how excited I am for this amazing couple to get married!  Alyssa is one of my dearest friends and I am thrilled that she found a great guy in Brandon!  It was SO MUCH FUN to do this engagement session on location of their wedding venue in Portland, Oregon, despite the cold, pouring rain (c’mon, it’s Portland, after all!) and I cannot wait to see these two start their happily ever after!

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Creatures from Home

How sweet to be welcomed for a trip home by a family of adorable white-tailed deer.  In all there were seven furry ones (two families?) who visited this afternoon in my parent’s back field.2016-02-25_0001.jpg
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(My mom was not happy with them being around the garden, soon to be blooming in a few months.)
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Check out the chickadee in flight to the bird feeder!

To Be Born Early

Rhys just couldn’t wait! He decided to join the world several weeks early (I’m so glad we were able to take maternity photos when we did!) and I can’t wait to share his newborn photos!

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Just in Time

We scheduled this fun, leaf-tossing family session just in time, before little Rhys James decided to enter the world extra early! I had the wonderful opportunity to meet the newest little family member a couple days ago, and mom and baby are doing great! 2015-11-07_0001.jpg
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From Tall Trees Towering High

When I was a kid, autumn was magic (any season was, for that matter).  I haven’t lost the wonder in the brilliance of those trees turning from green to red, nor of the spark of delight when I kick up browned leaves under my feet as I walk through the street.  Discarded leaves smell like earth and mold.  Flower blooms hang on for dear life through maybe two more days.  I realize it’s time to wear my gloves again as the morning chill reaches into my fingers.

I wrote this poem when I was young, I know there’s more to it, but this is all I can remember:

“Autumn leaves drifting, drifting down

From tall trees towering high

Onto soft beds of brown

Underneath the clear blue sky.”

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