Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bless My Blessings

When I started this blog a couple of months ago, for me it was a means to share God's amazing gifts in my life.  I have always been better at expressing myself in the written form rather than the spoken.  The pictures I took became a way of pausing moments that I hoped could last longer than the vapor of my life.  I decided to take a photography class because I had a really nice camera and no idea how to use it.  It opened up a whole new, visual world for me.  I began asking friends if they would let me "practice" my photography skills on their kids.  I love photographing children because they don't get bothered by a camera, they know how to "play on."  They aren't overly conscious and they carry such a free spirit about them.   Everything they do is without pretension or cause, innocence.  Capturing their images, is capturing a glimpse of God's love for humanity.  Children are some of His most precious gifts to this world.  

Wyatt and Briggs
Having two daughters, I had no idea what two boys would be like.  They kept me running all over the place.  My girls love to stop and pose, these boys loved running free.  I had a blast taking their pictures, I learned to be quick and to never stop snapping shots.  To get them to stay in one place long enough together, I sat them on top of a saw horse (luckily their parents are very laid back).  I love these two pictures because it shows that they are already bonded in a way only brothers can be.  You can tell by their expressions that they truly get one another.

Briggs was everywhere...I was absolutely amazed at how quickly he could disappear.  I loved this shot of him because it shows him still.  I love his hands in this picture.
Those blue eyes...
To get the boys to follow me, I told them there were "surprises" at each place.  Wyatt responded, "can you eat them?"  He is ALL boy...
I have a picture on this blog I titled "sister feet."  I titled this one, "Brother Boots..."

Jed, Quinn, and Kale
These three belong to one of my best friends (since the sixth grade).  Her husband's family, (one of my husband's best friends since birth, a gift of living in a small town), have this amazing "retreat cabin" near Caesar's Head.  He was telling me that it was an old church that was brought by his family via horse and buggy and re-assembled.  Their family still spends many a Spring and Summer together here and it was only fitting that we took pictures of his children there.  While there, I thought of how many generations have and will enjoy something that began nearly a century before...talk about a legacy.

I love how the ancient trees surrounding this home cast a shadow against its side...if those trees could talk.
Big Brother...Jed is the perfect big brother for two sisters.  He is very patient and sweet with them and in older sibling fashion, gets the blame for most everything and takes it well.
Quinn and Kale are twins, but couldn't be more different...
Kale is a miniature version of her mother.  
Her mother is a very talented interior designer.  She used this Louis Ghost chair to bring a modern element to this old cabin.  I absolutely love how it all turned out...
Quinn is her dad's side of the family.  She is very laid back and easy going.  
I fell in love with this picture.  I love how my camera focused on the stalks and faded her out.  
This picture was an unexpected gem.  I was trying to see what the view would look like on the other side of the lake and captured the whole family.  I love everything about it.  This is Stone Lake and the dad has many great, childhood memories here.  
One of the things I love about doing this is getting to see places like this off of the beaten path.  Hearing stories that shape who we become as adults and as parents.  Memories and moments that we can pass onto another generation.  The other thing is that I got to share this experience with one of mine.  Jess came along as my "assistant."  I got a shot of her enjoying a makeshift boat (leaves and sticks) and watching it pass from one side of a creek to another (via drainage pipe)...

Baby Ames
About a month ago, Will's cousin and his wife (a dear friend of mine), had their first baby.  Meredith is an incredibly gifted photographer so I was beyond honored when she asked me to take the first shots of their new family.  
The picture below moved me when I saw it.  I loved how Jack was holding baby Ames and how Meredith was holding onto Jack...all I could think is there is a lot of love in this picture.
...and there is...

This next picture reminded me that there is nothing like a dad and his baby girl (this I know), what a great image to begin that story...
This next picture is Ames with her little hands wrapped around her mom's finger.  That life holding on to the one who gave her life...precious.
Ames is a beautiful baby girl.  She is lying on a blanket that her mom gave her dad while they were dating...
A brand new family, on a brand new path...
...there are few things in life more precious and beautiful.

Capturing these moments has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined.  To get to share in others' blessings just makes my own that much better.  The other night, Jess asked God to bless her blessings.  I get it.  He has blessed my blessings by giving me this opportunity.  All of these pictures tell a story.  These children are loved so much and that alone blesses my heart.  They are being raised by incredible men and women and taught to love and to recognize God...they are so blessed.  

In the meantime, I try to still capture my own as much as I can.  Usually it is with my phone. But it is always good.
Reagan is a master photographer on my phone.  She got this picture of Jess while I was taking pictures of baby Ames.  Wild and crazy, having the time of her life in some imaginary world.  She should still be Ames' size.
This one I took today.  The last day of Winter.  I hope every Winter is as mild as this one was.  Goodbye Winter, hello Spring...

Luke 18:16
"But Jesus called the children to Him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

FYI:  The name of the photography class I took is called SnapShots.  You can get more information on it on ashleyannphotography.com
To see Meredith's amazing pictures of Ames visit her blog, meredithward.blogspot.com

Happy Spring

Monday, February 20, 2012


Dark hours come when we least expect them and usually when we are the least prepared.  One of Satan's weapons he launched at Jesus was simply asking, "If you are the Son of God..." (Luke 4:9).  If?  If can be a dangerous word.  I find myself during the darkest moments listening to Satan himself saying, if He is God then...At times, I find myself crying, why God don't you see me, why have you stopped speaking?   This blog has become a weapon for me in these moments.  It is so easy to let a dark season, day, or hour creep in and steal the very life and joy from us.  Or...we can have something tangible to see God through.  His word, a list of blessings, prayer, pictures...For me it is in these images.  Images taken in an imperfect, broken world. Images that remind me that even in our darkest hours, God is there, God sees me, God loves me and He speaks...
 "Why do you complain to Him that He answers none of man's words?  For God does speak--now one way, now another--though man may not perceive it."  Job 33:13-14

Creek-side Chats...right after I snapped this picture, a dolphin came up out of the water less than two feet from the dock.  
Her face says it all.

We go every year to the Southeastern Wildlife Festival in Charleston.  The girls absolutely love wandering around Francis Marion park and seeing all of the uniquely wild creatures that God created.  They play, interact, and learn to appreciate these magnificent creations.
What is it about girls and ponies??
I fell in love with this guy.  I am going to have this picture blown up and give it a place of honor in our house.  It can be a weapon to use against the temptation to take life so seriously and to be reminded that God created this guy, God has a sense of humor.
I love the cutouts!  They are just plain fun!

I absolutely loathe this picture!  I almost had a panic attack.  Reagan went on her own and asked this man if she could hold this snake.  The best part was as she was struggling to hold it, she asked him if it would bite and he simply nodded his head, yes.  She will be the death of me!
She is fearless!

Will bought me an iphone and I discovered Instagram!  It is a nice change to be in a couple of pictures...my girls will have memories to share of me after all.

Red's at Shem Creek
It was almost 70 degrees Saturday so why not spend the day on the beach?  Jess absolutely loves sand.  I miss the days when I didn't care about getting dirty.  She takes me back to those days.

Reagan went all the way into the ocean, fully clothed, begging us to let her swim.  The water had to be 50 degrees. 

Finding joy in the simple pleasures.
Time standing still, life slowing down, God speaking.

"...If you can do anything, do it.  Have a heart and help us!  Jesus said, 'If?  There are no 'ifs' among believers.'  Anything can happen."  (Mark 9:22-24)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dads and Daughters

I always imagined myself with three boys.  I married a big, tough guy.  God gave us two daughters...God must be crazy.  
Now, I cannot imagine life without Barbies, baby dolls, tears, giggles, more tears, flowers, tutus, smelly stuff...and neither can Will.
Every year, Reagan's school hosts a Daddy/Daughter Dance.  I love that Reagan's earliest memories of dances will be with her dad.  I love that he has the opportunity to teach her how a young man should treat her on "dates."  I love that there is a night at her school devoted to this special bond.  Last night was the night, and after a week of counting down days, it finally arrived...
He surprised her with a corsage.
She loved it!
He gave his littlest one too!  (Thank you God, for florists who remind dads not to forget about the little sister).
He told her they could eat anywhere...she chose the Waffle House.
She enjoyed the dinner...
...and dessert.
And dessert again because dads are cool like that.  This girl is made of sugar!

He came home carrying a sleeping girl in his arms (probably due to hypoglycemic shock).  They had fun and she chatted excitedly about it all morning...good memories.  So, God could be crazy to give us, specifically Will, two daughters or He could just really love us.  He could have known that anyone can raise children, but that it takes a man to raise little girls.