Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Life and Love....

This is one of those times when life comes at you so strong you can't breathe. One of those times when sadness and grief threaten to drown you. One of those time when life is just honestly unfair.

Nick and I lost an amazing friend, and greatly loved woman this week. Jess passed away Monday morning after a two year battle with cancer. And I'm just not sure what else to say right now. Jess' husband and Nick have been best friends since 5th grade, and Nick has been with Steve as he and Jess have fought through this battle. I'm immensely overwhelmed right now with sadness, both for the loss from my personal life, and for Steve's loss.

Over the next few days we will honor her life and her legacy with a memorial and funeral. I don't know how you can limit talking about this selfless woman into a service time. Jess laughed a lot, love even more, and deeply impacted those that came into contact with her. She bore the pain of this sickness with kindness and cared deeply about others. I have a vivid memory of visiting her in the hospital about a year ago after one of her surgeries, and I had just thrown out my back a day or two before. I was moving stiffly still and instead of letting me fuss over her, she tells me to sit down and needed to know what was wrong with me. That was just Jess. She was beautiful, and loved by so many.

I have my own stories about Jess, but nothing that will compare to what will be honored about her over the next few days. Life just doesn't make sense to me sometimes, and this is just one of those times.

Here's to you, Jess. To your legacy of love, and your example of life. To the amazing wife and steadfast friend. To the sister and daughter that was well well adored. We will all miss you so much.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Mia Familia

This is my family:

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We used to be just 6 - and now we're 10 and growing.

My dad there in the middle...he's...well. He's my hero. He is the guy I said I wanted to marry when I grew up. He's the guy that still lets me sit in his lap and pretend that I'm not taller than he is. He is the guy that has worked his butt of for years and years and year to provide the amazing childhood I had. He has raised four daughters into extremely self sufficient, independent women that drive him (lovingly) crazy. He is 50 (shhhhhh don't tell him I told you) and personal trains three guys and can beat the crap out of them all at the same time. He has held me millions of times as I cried about something insanely inane, made me laugh when I've been mad, and loves each of the women in his life with a ferocious protection - even though we're giving him white hairs :)

My momma is next to him. She's the beauty that you'd never know has 4 grown daughters. She is the woman that gave up everything for me and my sisters. She homeschooled each of us, which effectively shut off any personal life she could have had, because she spent all day with us instead. She cheered me on in whatever "I'm going to be a ______ when I grow up" I was having that week. She always told me that I could be ANYTHING I wanted to be. She spent hours upon hours with us, teaching us about being Godly women, and amazing friends, and close sisters. I have the strangest memories of my mom that stick out to me - one of them being when I fell off my bike when I was little and ripped my knee open. I vividly remember my mom FLYING out of the house to get to me. I remember her taking care of her mom, when she was living with us for a time. I remember her making dad take all of us girls out for a day so she could make "meals for a month" (we ate lentil soup for years from that day ;) ). My mom has been many many things to me over the years, and I am so proud of her. She is my best friend in so so many ways, and I cherish her with wild abandon.

My parents have been together for 27 years - 28 this October. And they are still MADLY in love with each other. They have been through more things than I will every really know about, but they have a love that has deep roots. They are my example of marriage, and I could not have two better people to model after.

Look at how cute they are!!

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I could go on and on and on about each individual person, but in the interest of time, I'll try to sum it up! The other women you see in this photo are my amazing sisters. I know I've posted about them many times before, but I just love them a lot so you have to read about them again! They are all amazing, and I'm so proud of each of them, in different ways.

This family of 6 has grown and expanded and shifted. My parents have handled having a lot of "grown ups" in their lives with beautiful grace, and the additions to the family (while probably slightly overwhelmed by us still) have been wonderful additions. I get all misty when I think about life 10 years ago, and then today. Everything is so...different. Not bad different. Just different. But this group of people you see here....these are forever people. No matter where marriages, school, interests...anything takes us, we are 10.

And it's kinda fun to have more boys to torture :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

BethLaurren Photography

NIck and I had a date night tonight, and we went to see "he's just not that into you". I was so excited! Big name cast, adorable story line....it was bound to be a cute movie, and it was! It was funny, slightly painful in parts, endearing, and best of all - it was about love.

Yes, I cried at the end. Twice. See, the girl, Gigi, spends the entire movie learning how to tell if a guy is into her. She had an argument for every unreturned, or never made, call, or a "friend of a friend" story of falling madly in love against all odds. She is told by this guy she meets, Alex, that those kinds of stories are the exception and she, Gigi, is the rule. So she spends the rest of the movie teaching herself to accept that she is the "rule", and there is no "great love story" in her future. Another story line, is about a couple that has been together for 7 years, and she keeps waiting for him to want to get married, and he keeps saying that he doesn't believe in marriage. She ends up leaving him, realizing that she wants a MARRIAGE. Well, you can guess that as all great chick flicks go, these couples both end up together at the end!

But I have to explain this to you. Gigi and Alex come together at the end, and he says that he can't stop thinking about her, and all those amazing things that men say when they're in love. He kisses her, and she looks at him in wonderment and says "'I'm the exception" and he says "you're my exception". THAT! That right there. That is the reason I want to be a wedding photographer. Because for every bride I meet, she is the exception. For every couple that tells me their love story....they are the exceptional story. 

The second love story concludes with the guy and the girl getting back together, and he proposes. But see, the girl comes to a point first where she realizes that the marriage isn't what's important. He treats her well, he cherishes her, he takes care of her, he takes care of her family. He does all the "husbandly" things, just without the ring. Those are the things that are important. It's not the dress, it's not the event, it's not the ring. It's about the man that loves a girl. I love SO MUCH being a very very small part of that kind of a love story. I love seeing that kind of love, and being in the middle of it. 

For every wedding I shoot, and for every bride I meet, I'm in the middle of exception.

Exceptional love.
Exceptional beauty.
Exceptional passion. 

And I love every single second of it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

65 Years Later and Still in Love

We rushed back home on Sunday to be with Nick's family to celebrate his grandparents 65th wedding anniversary! His parents hosted 30 some odd people at their house, and I was so struck by the generations that two people are responsible for. The grandparents are well into their 80's, and their youngest great-grandchild is 2 months old. It's so....humbling to see the love that these two have for each other after 65 years, and the lives that they impact as a result of it.

I ADORE these two people. Grandpa still cries and talks about Grandma like she was his 19 year old bride, and swears that there isn't a more beautiful woman in the world. Grandma pats him on the hand and smiles in adoration as he pulls out his handkerchief to wipe his eyes (for the 3rd time that afternoon). I seriously can't take these two....they are just SO cute and so madly in love.

I look at my marriage, and we're just over 8 months in, and I can't imagine what 65 years from now will bring to us. My parents are celebrating 27 years this year, and even that is....amazing. 27 years is a loooong time. And I'm sitting over here excited about 8 months :) It's so encouraging to see marriages that have stood the test of time, and couples that are still in LOVE. I want to learn everything possible from these kinds of couples, so that I can look back 65 years from now and laugh at myself sitting here now.

Just a few snapshots of the day..

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G'night!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sisters Wedding

I'd love to say that I've recovered from a crazy weekend, but there is no way that would be true! I'm beyond exhausted, and I wasn't even the bride!!! I have newfound respect for the bridesmaids I get to know at weddings - it's so easy to just get caught up in the bride and the work she put in, but MAN there is a lot the other girls do! Haha!!

Okay, well, I guess our weekend started out on Thursday night. Nick and I went to a Johnny Lang concert (which I think I posted on). Friday morning we got on the road and made the 3.5 hour trip down to Indy, complete with the most DISGUSTING Burger King of our lives for lunch. We got to Indy about 2, and flowering commenced at 3 with the arrival of the beautiful (and slightly stressed at first) bride.

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These are Gwen original design - city sophistication meets country chic!

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The final review of the end result!

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We ran from flowers to the church for rehearsal. Abby, I'm sorry about this photo, but Hilary's face CRACKS me up, and let's face it...this was the amount of attention we paid during the rehersal :)

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Dinner, and then MORE flowering for bouquets until close to 1! Saturday morning started early with the salon for hair, nails, makeup etc etc. Gwen's friend, and bridesmaid, Amy, was NONSTOP help to Gwen, and just crashed at the salon. But even sleeping sitting up, she's beautiful!

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I was concerned about Gwen's poodle appearing hair, but it turned out phenominal!

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I was banned from carrying my camera the rest of the day, but I snuck a few of the dancing!

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And that's it! Happy weddings!!!!!! Gwennie did a great job with everything, and it was a beautiful beautiful day. Keep an eye out on my beautiful friend and amazing photographer's Morgan blog HERE!! to see more photos!

Oh and one more photo of Morgan and my baby sister girl.

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