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What a pleasure, to meet this gentleman.

Most of the seniors I photograph are girls — including his sweetheart Hayley — but Joe was so kind and comfortable in his own skin that our time together felt completely relaxed and familiar.

I think you’re aces, Joe. I hope you see that in the photos, and that you know it’s the truth.

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Grace & peace,

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If anyone is wondering how to raise up a little boy into a strong man of God, I think this family is a good one to watch.

You’ll see it in the photos — but they do a lot of loving on each other, a lot of exploring and asking questions, a lot of gentle guidance, and Dave & Sydney don’t let their marriage get neglected in the chaos that can come with three little boys.

Every time I’m around them, I find myself filing away wisdom that I see and hear from these parents. And I leave their presence full of joy and hope, and very encouraged.

At one point during our photos, Dave said, “This is what you have to look forward to, if you have all boys.” He said it a little tongue-in-cheek, because the five-year-old had just started a chain reaction of bathroom jokes — but I always do look forward to my own parenting days, after some time around the Claytons. I hope you know that, Dave & Syd.

You are the salt of the earth.

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Grace & peace,

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These photos, and the people in them, make my heart sing.

I’m honored that we serve the same God, and I’m excited for a future with them and others like them. These parents are filled to the brim with grace and trust, and the life they are building together is one continuous, fluid, breathing act of worship. They named their son Valor, and I’m already excited to see the man of valor he becomes.

I’m twenty-four years his senior. My strength may begin to wane just as his is hitting its full stride. This thought makes me smile — because I believe he will be a strong and mighty servant of Jesus. And it makes me want to live my own years with valor.

Thank you for all these beautiful reminders, Dani & Liben. I’m so glad I know you and yours.

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Grace & peace,

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She is delightful.

And man, if she doesn’t have the genes and bone structure of a queen. I’ve known her a while, but had never quite realized the Bombshell status she’s capable of before we took these photos. I’ve always seen her as lovely, but her spirit has always colored my view of her more than her appearance.

She brings open hands, not clinched fists, to life, so blessings can flow in and out and back in. She is quick to celebrate others; she’s not starving to be in the spotlight herself. She’s a breath of fresh air. She makes me smile and makes me hope.

Her initials spell “VOW,” which I find so appropriate.

Vows are serious business. And holy. And beautiful. They’re the driving force behind many great stories, and behind the daily faithfulness that is often as quiet and gentle and unnoticed as the dawn.

I see all these vow-qualities in Virginia. I’m excited she’s becoming a woman, because I have a feeling she’s going to be an incredibly good one.

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Grace & peace,

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Ruby Ann is kind of a dreamboat of a six-month-old.

There’s the round cheeks and the round blue eyes, and the porcelain skin and the long, thick eyelashes.

There’s her early mastery of wearing her mama’s childhood bracelet and resisting the urge to fling it off or swallow it whole.

And there was the moment after her one crying spell during our time together, when her outfit change led to her head getting stuck in her shirt (which, to be fair, I also hate), when she laid her head on my shoulder and took a few deep breaths, and my heart melted into my shoes.

I’m excited to be Ruby’s friend as she grows. I’m excited to see who this peaceful little soul grows into.

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Grace & peace,

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I also forgot to ask Hayley about schools and majors, like Somer in the last post, but that may be because in my head, she’s still a vague youngwoman age, somewhere between 14 and 16, and it’s not time to talk about her growing up or leaving home.

I’ve been her babysitter, her youth intern, and her friend, but recently I was her senior photographer — tasked with making some portraits that hold all the light I’ve seen in her since the babysitting years, and documenting the girl she was and is, and giving a glimpse of the woman she is and will be.

A tall order, for the last 90 minutes of sunlight on a Sunday afternoon.

But I think we did alright.

Hay J, I hope you feel beautiful and strong and delightful when you look through these. Because you are, my friend. You truly are.

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Grace & peace,

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This is my new friend Somer.

I didn’t ask her which schools she’s looking at, or what she thinks she might like to study. Because when I was her age, I got tired of only answering those questions with my new friends. Or with anyone I talked to during my senior year of high school.

But I learned that we know some of the same people. I met her dog Piper, who is roughly the size and weight of a TY beanie baby, with the face of a teddy bear, and she hops like a bunny when set free in the grass. I learned just how beautiful hazel eyes can look, especially when Somer wore purple or black.

I asked if she were a beach girl, and she nodded. And her mom said, behind me — “Me, too. That’s why I named her Somer.”

I’m glad I met you, Somer. (You too, Becky. [You too, Piper.] ) I hope you love these photos.

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Grace & peace,