August 9th, 2011 by sharaleep | 15 Comments »
so this is what 12 years looks like:
i never really pictured the 12 year anniversary. it’s not one of the numbers that stands out as significant or is addressed in pre-marital counseling. there’s no “itch” attached to it and no huge milestone celebration. but something about 12 was different for me. i sat in church sunday morning and was suddenly overwhelmed with gratefulness for 12. you see, cliff and i didn’t think we would make it past 1. we didn’t get that glorious first year that some newlyweds rave about. or second year. or third…you get the point. so being here at 12 is a big deal.
marriage is hard. it’s an everyday choice to…fill in the blank. care. love. listen. stop. serve. forgive.
being in the thick of wedding season has given me even more opportunity to think about what that commitment these couples are making actually means. and if i could say anything to each of them it would be that it is worth it. whether the storm comes tomorrow or 10 years from now, your marriage is worth fighting for. it’s worth those times when you say you’re sorry even if you’re not at fault. it’s worth picking up the socks and throwing them in the laundry for the tenth time this week instead of harping on him to do it. it’s worth listening to the same story she’s told you about that great aunt you’ve never met and never will meet for the third time without rolling your eyes. and it’s worth fighting for through the big stuff too. through lies and deep hurts and life change. i pray for every one of these couples as i drive to their wedding…that they would know that love and commitment is about so much more than this one day. and that as they walk through the tough stuff, there is such great reward waiting for them.
what kind of reward, you may ask? well, here’s what does 12 looks like for us: i worked on friday while cliff watched the kids and got home at midnight after a late reception. cliff let me sleep in until 8 on saturday morning while he fed the kids breakfast, i ironed our clothes and we headed out to a wedding for the afternoon and evening (that’s what “dates” look like at this stage of life). on sunday as a special treat to ourselves, we let the kids watch a movie before church so we could have an hour of peace. went to church, had cheeseburgers in the park, played in the backyard all afternoon, had farmer sausage for supper and watched an episode from the first season of wonder woman after the kids went to bed. glamorous? not even close. but how incredible is it that i get to live this un-glamorous life beside the man who has seen it all. all my crap, all my mood swings, all of the worst. the fact that he chooses everyday to be with me…to serve/give/listen/etc speaks love to me louder than words ever could. and we have three beautiful children who drive us absolutely crazy while filling our lives with so much joy. i am so so so blessed.
on your next anniversary, would you take a minute to savor it and then drop me a line and tell me about it? i’d love that. here’s to celebrating every year like it’s 12
July 31st, 2011 by sharaleep | 6 Comments »
early on in the session, we must have done something to offend this poor dear because she was not happy. and just when we had started to lose hope for “contented baby” pictures, we stripped her down. apparently all she wanted was to be free.
little did i know when i first arrived that this grammy is a mennonite girl. and she can cook. and if that still doesn’t make any sense to you, go buy this and thank me later. all i have to say is: paska.
July 31st, 2011 by sharaleep | 20 Comments »
for those of you who check in here regularly (i do not presume to think there are many, other than my mom…and amber who comments on nearly every post and oh how i love her for it :), you may or may not have noticed that it’s been a little quiet the past couple of weeks. this does not mean i haven’t been working…quite the opposite. i’ve been working hard to balance my professional and personal life and haven’t always been that successful (ask the people whose calls i’ve taken several days to return “sorry!”. oh and you could ask my children too).
the thing is, in the midst of my busiest photography season ever, we decided to move. this was not a decision that came easily and the process of it once it was made was even harder. because it wasn’t just a matter of moving from one house into another. for the past two years, our family has lived in community. “ don’t we all live in a community” some might say. yeah, but we don’t all live in a commune, and as weird as it is to say, that’s kind of what we’ve been a part of. a group of people who came together with a common mission, living together, sharing our stuff and our lives. and it was wonderful. friends became family. we began to challenge each other to live more simply and to honor others and God with the choices we made. we saw people move in and move out, watched babies grow and big boys go to their first day of school. we saw people quit jobs and start new ones, saw (so many) dishes broken, had shelves collapse and saw gardens grow. we got frustrated. with one another and with ourselves. we laughed and cried and were moody and made fun of one another and played silly games and cooked for each other and avoided each other and cleaned up each other’s messes (sometimes willingly. sometimes not.). we saw a wedding (we were all there) and a baby born (we were not all there). we called ourselves a cult as a joke because we knew people were wondering and hoped that saying it first would diffuse their fears (we think cliff’s mom might still think it’s a cult. but i’m okay with that). there was almost always someone around to talk to, to watch a movie or go for a run with. there was grace in difficult moments and celebration in milestones. and love. lots of love. not always the warm fuzzy kind, but the true kind that perseveres and hopes and doesn’t fail.
so you can see why it was hard to leave.
but here we are, a growing family. we were just feeling like it was time. not to pursue a new path but to embrace the place we are in life and run with it. and just as we were talking through that, an opportunity presented itself: the house my grandpa built. the perfect amount of space for us inside and an abundance of space out. and four doors down from my parents (so close i think i can hear my mom dreaming up the next way she’s going to spoil my children:). and in a sweet little town not far from work and friends and community.
it feels pretty special.
i don’t really have many memories of my grandma and the ones i do were of her when she was sick. but as i hung my first load of laundry on her line today, i could vividly picture her doing the same. my grandpa i knew better and all sorts of things about him flooded back as i walked down the driveway and checked out the grapes growing on the vines in the back and heard my dad talk about the number of nails grandpa had used in the kitchen cabinets.
we don’t know how long we will be here, but we’re going to love every minute of it. and our kids…oh our kids. so excited.
and we love visitors! please come by. we’ve already had a few lovely and unexpected drop-ins.
July 29th, 2011 by sharaleep | 4 Comments »
this was my third potentially rainy day wedding of the season and i did my best to fight it. i thought sunny thoughts. i wore shorts the day before. i dreamt sunny dreams. but alas, when i awoke, it was not sunny. not even close. so on went my rain boots once again.
but do you think the rain put a damper on any spirits this day? not a single one. they were so excited about being married. so excited. it could have been snow and i don’t think they would have batted an eye. and the bridal party was amazing – we trudged around with umbrellas and they never once complained. and just as we had lost all hope for that bright shiny ball in space, the sky opened up and he shone down.
these two were brilliant walking down the aisle, but very shy when it came to picture time. still cute, though. still cute.
July 17th, 2011 by sharaleep | 7 Comments »
so i’m starting to realize i’m a gusher. i never thought i was someone who would go on and on about a cute baby or much of anything for that matter, but here i am. a gusher. hanging out with these two confirmed it. thankfully, i had my lovely friend gemma along assisting me, so every five minutes i could turn around and whisper “do you believe how cute this is?” or “oh my word. could this get any better?”. so i guess i’m just going to have to embrace it. and i have a feeling i might convert you into one after you see these pictures. go ahead. gush away.
josh happens to be a musician (if you haven’t clued into that yet) and has some beautiful music available here. i may have been lucky enough to have him play at my birthday party this year, so i also know from experience that he sounds great live. go here to book a show or see where he’s playing.
one last note: this is my assistant gemma. she is pretty. and a lifesaver. and a good light testing subject.
July 15th, 2011 by sharaleep | 3 Comments »
there’s something about seeing love, like really seeing love. it’s big and small and quiet and loud all at the same time. there’s a peaceful tension, which doesn’t seem to make sense but somehow it just fits. pretty amazing. and i get to witness it. especially on days like this.
this little chapel was amazing. you know how people usually rush out of the church at the end of the ceremony to get pictures outside? well, we waited anxiously for everyone to leave so we could go back in.
these two are climbers, so someone came up with a last minute idea to keep the rings from getting lost in the hands of two precocious little boys…
and like that, they were off. another new life begins.
July 12th, 2011 by sharaleep | 10 Comments »
for anyone who knows this family, you will know what i mean when i say “the best”. they are loving and kind and fun and quirky and beautiful (like seriously, how did they all get so beautiful)…the good stuff.
they’ve spent a lot of time in the hospital lately as there was a health scare (which is putting it SO lightly) with “the matriarch” (is it okay if i call you that miss j?). when all seemed to be crumbling, this family united in a way that was so unbelievable and so pure and so not of this world…it was something you don’t see much of these days. it seems that often in times of crisis, people turn on one another and look for someone to blame, but these good people turned TO jesus and drew together so tightly that there was no force on earth or any other place that could break them. their faith was increased instead of weakened. and as they loved God and each other, they saw healing.
so why am i telling you all of this? well, the family was back in the hospital this week. but this time it was a celebration. and i got to be there (i may not have been invited, but that’s what’s so great about this family…they said “come on in”). they just added a little girl to their brood and their boys were on their way over to meet her for the first time.
i didn’t even plan on blogging this, but i felt like a thank you was in order and this was something small i could do to say it. thank you for the amazing example you have set for me of what it means to believe. and hope. and really love. like really love. even this mama, who lost 40% of her blood post-labor the night before, says about 5 minutes after i got there…”and how are you?”. like i said: the best.
July 8th, 2011 by sharaleep | 5 Comments »
sweet. lovely family, abandoned property, golden light, impeccably dressed children…and mosquitos. and blackberry bushes. and drug dealers? or maybe we just imagined those. still, it was quite the adventure! seems it always is when i’m involved thankfully these guys fully went along with my whims and followed where i lead. made for some pretty pictures, if i do say so myself.
i should clarify. though kris is a builder and a newly instated realtor(check him out through landmark realty), he did not build, nor did he buy or sell the home above. just so we’re clear.
July 5th, 2011 by sharaleep | 3 Comments »
after two rainy days, i was ready for some sun. and God obliged. though i’m pretty sure it was for jody and jim and not me. i’m okay with that.
we were trying to get his attention and he was clearly distracted. who else would miss that sweet pose his wife is throwing out?!
thanks for inviting me to be a part of your wedding day. you two are blessed with so much family and wonderful friends. a great way to start a life together.
July 5th, 2011 by sharaleep | 7 Comments »
i know darla’s been holding her breath for the rest of the pictures, so i won’t leave her in suspense any longer. i had such a hard time narrowing down what to share because there were so many lovely details. they had a whole team of little elves working behind the scenes too numerous to mention, though i know darla is thankful for every stitch sewn, balloon blown and bag filled. her vision was simple and grand all at the same time, incorporating her love for all things bird (did i mention their last name is sparrow?) and vintage. from the little embellishments for friends to use to make their guestbook entry unique to the massive handmade chandelier hanging above the dance floor, nothing was overlooked. and franklyn’s beaut of a car (a 1949 plymouth special, if you were wondering) was the cherry on top…of darla’s “make your own sundae” bar complete with fresh waffle bowls. i could go on. but you just want to see pictures, right?
well that about wraps this baby up…if you didn’t get a look at “part one” (getting ready and the ceremony), take a minute. it will be well worth your time. and here is a list of all the amazing vendors who helped add to this gorgeous day:
Earrings: Autumn Equinox
Feather head piece for bride and bridesmaids, chains on bride’s shoulders & men’s feather corsages: Darla (check out her etsy shop!)
Cake: Darla’s dear friend Colleen Currie-Tompke / Cake Topper: Dear Jes (great price and fast shipping!)
Flowers: Janel Sweeny did them with flowers from her parents garden
And everything else was a local thrift store find or made by dedicated friends and family.