Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm a Mess

Today I doubt everything. Today I am a mess. Today I want to run and hide.
I am overwhelmed. I am inadequate. I feel alone. I feel judged. I feel stupid. And I feel like running from it all.
But today, I feel that gentle whisper that’s glued to my soul. The deep places of my heart quietly remind me. He loves me. And He is here. And He will carry me when I need it. And He will wipe my tears when I find that taking one more step seems too scary for me. And He said that He goes before me and beside me. And even when everything within me screams failure and impossible and whatever other hopeless words come to mind, He screams beloved, cherished, possible and faithful.
So, with that in mind, I put before you some pictures of two constant reminders of that love in my life. (And I need to put a picture up of the third soon, that amazing husband of mine…) Because when I look at them and my heart gushes like Niagra Falls in the middle of a downpour and I realize that in my imperfection I cherish them this much…I guess He does love me like He says He does. I think He really means it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nicole and Cam

"Amy, I just wanted to call and let you know, I found out I'm pregnant. And it's a boy." She actually found out all that information in one day. When Nicole went to the doctor to find out why she was feeling sick, she received a completely unexpected diagnosis. That was the day she found out she was 6 months pregnant and in a few weeks, an adorable little man would be making his way into her home.
I would have died. When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified. Quite honestly - I cried. (For clarification, I have since learned that Hannah was one of the greatest things that ever could have happened to me) And I found out at the beginning. I had those nine-seems-like-eternity/excruciatingly long months to prepare. And pray. And be overwhelmed. Nicole on the other hand, embraced the quick turn of events in a beautiful (and highly organized - no wonder she helps coordinate weddings...) way. With the help of her amazing mother and friends, she prepared herself to welcome one of the most adorable little men I've ever laid eyes on. Nicole is beautiful, brave, patient and so many other things I would like to be.
She gave me a precious opportunity to spend a little part of the morning together with them. Though he had some hard moments I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched Nicole patiently wrap him up in heaps of love. Enjoy precious little Cam. His photos bring tears to my eyes. And Nicole, thank you so much for letting me spend time with you guys. Watching you two interact reminded me of how thankful I should be for every moment.
(Side note - for any horizontal photos, just click on the photo to see the whole thing. In my lack of technological prowess, I have not yet been able to widen my blog so that these fit.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Recipe for Greatness

1. Find the most adorable little lady you possibly can. (I'm in luck - I live with her on a daily basis.)

2. Whisk her off to a surprise filled day.

3. Have her get her nails done. (Working at a spa does make this easier)

4. Go to the city. Soak in every moment...AKA don't answer your cell phone or even check it

5. Explore.

6. Make up songs.

7. Snuggle at dinner.

8. Get ice cream. Totally get ice cream.

9. Go to the beach and prepare to get wet and sandy. Running full force into the water is a must - hand in hand.

10. Whenever possible - repeat. (As a side note, there will probably be a large-esque cleaning task ahead of you after your sand-filled friend enters the car. But alas, you'll smile every time you find grains of sand in your car - I promise)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Part 2

I took more and more photos and harassed some of my friends into being models for me so I could practice. And I started asking God for a new camera because I was finding that I was at a point where my camera was holding me back from where I wanted to go.
Enter my parents. The people who would bend over backwards to help anyone – yeah, that’s them. Honestly, they probably thought I was nuts. But they listened to my excitement and joy over photography and entertained my dreams of becoming a wedding and family photographer. At least they probably enjoyed the extra pictures of the grandkids… But what they were about to do, I could not have been prepared for.
Before I continue, there’s something you must know. My parents have never had much. My dad was raised in a family and a time period when getting a piece of fruit for Christmas was considered an amazing luxury. My parents have as a married couple have served within the church for years where they have often given their lives and time away for very little monetary compensation. (Though they would tell you that the people have been worth every minute…or at least most of them…hee hee) So I grew up in a family that didn’t have much. We weren’t lacking anything, but we lived a little more simply. Add to this that the past 5 years have been a little difficult for them to say the least. They were caught in the middle of a very difficult church situation and they needed to leave. They put their house on sale at that point. And they waited for God. And waited. And waited. And they’re still waiting.
[Side note: They are not JUST waiting. I could tell you beautiful stories of what they’ve been up to]
As you can imagine, their income is less than what it had been…and the original wasn’t that much. The stock market has….done it’s thing, for lack of a better phrase. So needless to say, you would not see money growing on their trees.
Now back to my story…I call my parents almost everyday. It started because I wanted to check on them. These precious people had been through a lot. And I just wanted to be a loud voice in their lives letting them know that we loved them, we KNEW they were following God, to be a sounding board for all they wanted to process and to flood them with reminders that we were in it with them.
And then it turned. They helped carry me through very lonely times in life. We became even closer than we had ever been. They inspired me by how they handled the difficult things they were dealt. I got to see what a changed, awesome man my dad had become. My mom had become one of my closest friends and we got to talk about God in this awesome way. So…I still call them almost every day because they’re great. (And they put up with my random stories, my crazy ideas and everything else)
One day I was talking to my mom at work. I told her about how I wanted a new camera, but there was no way we could afford it and I’d just have to wait. And it wasn’t one of those – I’m trying to hint here kind of moments. I just tell her most everything. She asked how much one would cost and I told her. No big deal. I let her get back to work and went about my day of tickling adorable baby bellies and dancing the robot with my 3 year old. (Ya know, normal run of the mill stuff…)
A few days later she picked up the phone and asked me for my bank account number. I was thoroughly confused and asked why. She informed me that they were giving me a new camera.
Oh no she didn’t…. I told her no way. It wasn’t gonna happen. My precious, loving mother then said, “Amy, we’re doing this. For weeks now, I had felt like God wanted us to give you $1000. Then when we were talking about I asked you how much a new camera would cost you – you said $1000. And I said, ‘Okay, God, I get the point.’”
I hung up the phone. I had no words. And I walked around constantly feeling the need to pinch myself. God overwhelmed me. And some of the most precious people in my life were a part of it. Even when I don’t have some established business. And even when they could use the money for themselves. I’m overwhelmed by their love. And by God’s. And at this moment, that is all I can say. Because more words would clutter the beauty.

Part 1 (Parte Uno)

I haven’t written about it. Why? Probably because I don’t think words can do the grandiose nature justice. Or maybe because it makes me cry. Or maybe because telling the story leaves me vulnerable and somewhat exposed. But you know what – it’s time to go THERE…
When Hannah was born, we didn’t have enough money to take her to have pictures made. So…I decided I’d just have to learn how to take good pictures. I sat down in Borders and read a book about how to take pictures hoping that I could capture the beauty of this little lady before me. And I fell in love. (even though I still have some highly awkward photos of her from when I was still in the throes of learning the basics)
My gracious in-laws surprised me with a great digital camera. At that time I overwhelmed our hard-drive (and my poor child) with photos of our lives. I started to get better. And I started to love photography more and more.
Secretly, I longed for a DSLR camera. But I made fun of myself and thought I was looking to one more possession to make me happy when it wouldn’t. (Yep, I went for a Christian guilt-trip) So I stuffed it. And realized there was no reason for me to have that nice of a camera when I was just taking pics of our family.
But I wanted to learn. I even looked into jobs at photography studios because I wanted so desperately to learn and to capture the beauty of the moments around me. But I kept it all a secret. Besides – we could NEVER afford it at that time.
Then we had Jayden. Yet another ridiculously gorgeous child was sitting in front of me on a daily basis begging for his beautiful mug to be captured and remembered forever. And so I kept taking pictures and researching how to get better.
Cue my amazing husband. Yep – the guy that believes in me when he has no reason to. The guy that watches and somehow finds the most unexpected and inspiring gift he could possibly give you – even if the cost is beyond what you could afford. For my birthday, I was greeted by a large-esque purple Dora-the-Explorer gift bag (hand-picked by my little lady) that contained a DSLR camera. And then cue my tears. And devotion. I started photographing like it was going out of style. I took so many pictures that I single-handedly caused iPhoto to raise a flag of surrender.
On the fourth of July, I sat nestled under my cream-colored, snuggly, plush blanket with my journal of early-morning conversations with God sprawled in front of me complete with my soy chai in hand. And at that moment I knew – I want to be a wedding and family photographer.
I giggled…like a giddy, slap-happy three year old girl. (And I know this is a fitting description because I live with one of these) And then I laughed out loud. Because seriously – how on earth was that supposed to happen? And how was I ever going to get the camera that I needed? I mean, we had been living paycheck to paycheck until this year when Ted changed jobs and we had finally gotten out of debt.
But deep within my soul I knew. And I loved it. I would have the chance to capture memories and stories in such a vivid way? I was in awe that God would let me do something so beautiful, so sacred. And so I made it my mission to learn everything I possibly could. And to enjoy the ride.

Here's a pic of an adorable little man. There will be more to come soon. But his facial expressions make me far too happy and I thought I'd throw it in...