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I feel God at work with this little family.

I feel God in the adoption of one son and the birth of another. And how the timing of both still feels like a bit of a surprise. I feel God in the dawn of their new set of circumstances — a new home, a new city, a new job for Austin, a new role of Mother and Father for both of them.

I feel God in the way my path crossed theirs, at a brother’s wedding in Alabama, and how we’re becoming friends. I’ve just got this feeling that we’re going to bless one another in big ways.

Because one way we’ve already done it — they invited me and my camera into the hospital room when this little boy was born. Some of the blessings there were

5,191. the tenderness & awe a man can have for his wife in labor

5,193. seeing that a new friend is tough as nails

5,194. a baby’s first breath and first cry

5,195. Joscelyn’s peaceful smile

5,196. the calm before & after the storm of birth

5,197. Owen’s tiny face

Those are from the running list of blessings I keep. I’m still thinking on when, if, how to share the photos from the hospital room. But for now — know that when I say this little boy is a miracle, and his mother has the power and love of God in her, it’s coming from a new place of knowledge and appreciation.

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Grace & peace,

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They married each other two years and two days ago.

His father officiated, and I cried a little, because Krista had loved Donovan the whole four years I’d known her, and she was finally getting to marry him. And I finally knew that joy, because even though there wasn’t a ring on my finger and I couldn’t talk about it yet, I knew the time and the place that I’d be marrying Lincoln that autumn. It was a good day. I was full of joy. They were full of joy. And after they were Man & Wife, we stole away to take some photos under a willow tree.

Krista and Donovan are high school sweethearts, full of sass and real talk, but they sure know how to treat each other right. They’re doing all the right things, unafraid of big changes — like buying a home and having a child, in the same summer. They’re dreaming of mission work in Africa, with Krista patiently waiting until it’s time to return to the place that has a hold on her heart.

They’re Good People. I’m really glad I get to meet them under willow trees during their Big Life Moments and take some photos. And I’m really excited to meet their daughter. Because I can’t wrap my head around how adorable she’s going to be.

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Grace & peace,

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I think this makes five rounds of photos with this little family.

And each round has been a little different than the one before, documenting two becoming three becoming four, and what they do in September and November and June, and what little clothes and stuffed animals lie around their house.

But this round felt extra different and extra exciting. Because they have a new house, with new paint on the walls. And Jess has the world’s cutest pixie cut, and both the boys have a little strawberry in their blonde. And one of them likes superheroes and puzzles and popsicles, and the other has reached the very exciting milestone of Sitting Up.

It was a good Saturday morning. And they’re a good family.

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Grace & peace,

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LORD, you have searched me, & you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise. You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, LORD.

You hem me in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. Too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens — you’re there. If I make my bed in the depths — you’re there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast….

For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful — I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body….

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me — and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

These are excerpts from Psalm 139, and they remind me that God is like a good mother, and good mothers are like God.

I hope these photos of my new friend Joscelyn are the first of many like them. Because mothers are strong on my heart, and I want to find ways to make them feel very beautiful, very brave, very made-in-the-image-of-God.

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Blessings on your head, Joscelyn. And on the little man you’re growing. God is kind to have crossed our paths, and you’ve already filled my heart with hope several times over. Thank you.

Grace & peace,

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They’re both high school English teachers. With classrooms across the hall from each other. When Lauryn told me this, in her first email to me, it made me think of Jim & Pam on The Office — a workplace friendship that leads to love. That you know all the high schoolers are rooting for.

And in his vows, Aaron said that he didn’t think he wanted to get married until he met Lauryn. I can see why she changed his mind — because I’m not sure if she looked more like Athena or Artemis or Aphrodite on her wedding day.

They married under a flowery chuppah, and over the bluegreen hills of Tennessee, and inside a warm, golden sunset. It was as pretty as a fairytale.

But — it’s not. It’s not a fairytale, and it’s not a Greek myth, and it’s not a sweet subplot on a sitcom. Lauryn and Aaron are two very real people who just began a very real marriage. Like their parents before them, like me and Lincoln, like many, many others. And I’m glad.

I’m glad that marriage is real — not some myth or fairytale that’s too good to be true. Because I promise — the prettiest part of this whole day was the awe and humility in Lauryn’s and Aaron’s eyes. They were very aware of the power of their vows. Their commitment is real. Their sacrifice is real. Their love is real.

And it made the ground holy.

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Lauryn & Aaron — you blessed me by letting me witness your love for each other. Thank you.  So many blessings on your heads.

Grace & peace,

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We took these three days after her high school graduation. After a Tuesday spent on the river with her friends and her newfound freedom.

And she started out in this pretty white dress, but told me that she had jeans and a v-neck t-shirt that she wanted to wear for most of the time.

And when I wanted her to laugh, I quoted Ron Swanson lines from Parks & Rec (or made very accidental Perd-Hapley-sounding statements…).

Meaning — these are photos from a really normal Tuesday with Abby.

Her mama was hanging out over my shoulder, patiently watching or researching walnuts on her phone, and I kept thinking how I wanted to capture Abby — her last-born —  for her, in her senior photos.

I always want my photos to look pretty — but I also want them to look really normal. I didn’t want to make Abby look like a model, or a little girl, or a grown woman. I wanted her to look like Abby. I want her mama to remember how laid-back she was in this girl/woman, in-between season. And how free she felt three days after graduation. And how much we all laughed together on this Tuesday afternoon.

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Grace & peace,

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They are moving to New England soon.

And I’m trying not to think about it — because I’ve known them since I was in high school, and I’ve been taking pictures with them since they were expecting their firstborn.

I will miss them.

But I’m proud of them for being brave and doing what they need to do. And I’m glad that New England is gaining a wonderful little family.

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Carrie & Adam — thank you for letting me share in your life in Nashville. Don’t be strangers! The LORD bless you and keep you, friends.

Grace & peace,

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I love these three. Quite a lot.

They had to leave the park and come pick me up at my house before we took these photos, because there was a slight mixup with my keys that morning, in which sweet Lincoln left with both sets. Oops. And the whole way there and back, Selah Grace repeated variations of, “Selby….puh-ple passie.” Which, through Hannah’s translation, was her condensed story of losing her purple pacifier, because she threw it during a tantrum in the library. Oops.

I love these three because we’ve fallen into a rhythm of sharing Real Life moments. We’ve swapped last-minute pre-marital counseling for last-minute babysitting, and stories of how frustrating work can be, or why we shoulda had a V8 that morning.

And there’s no way I’d rather celebrate Selah Grace turning two, Hannah turning thirty, another Mother’s Day, and another spring returning to Tennessee, than to take some photos with them at the park where Tristan and Hannah married.

This is a good time of year, and I am sharing it with good people. Hallelujah.

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Grace & peace,

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I cannot talk about these people or this day without talking about Jesus.

And that is a beautiful thing.

The venue was lovely, and the blue dresses and pink peonies were lovely — but I tell you what. What I will remember, and what I hope you see in these photos, is the heavenly joy erupting out of Aspen and her mother Audrey all day long. And the laughter of friends and family. And the way everyone invited God to join in this celebration, and the reverence they showed when the Spirit showed up.

I’m trying to think why this is all I want to say about this one — that Aspen and John love Jesus, and that’s all you need to know.

And these hymn lyrics are coming to mind:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

John and Aspen turned their eyes and their wedding day upon Jesus. And now — all that other beauty seems strangely dim.

I love when that happens.

Hallelujah.

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Aspen and John — thank you for your beautiful faith in Jesus, and your faith in me that let me share this beautiful day with you. I’m sure glad that I met you and yours.

Grace & peace,