How I love this image of my husband and my son, standing at the edge of a storm. To me this is what intercession looks like as we partner with God to hold the storms back for others.
I am grateful for the prayers of others. This week I posted a vulnerable story about living with fear and anxiety. I had many kind comments and emails from people telling me they were praying for me. This brings me so much comfort and I am deeply grateful.
When I lost a baby in 2006 my sister commented to me that she believed that when we pray and carry the burdens of others we each actually carry a little part of that burden so the heaviness doesn’t crush the individual who is suffering. I loved that thought. It reminds me of gym class in elementary school where we all held a piece of the parachute so someone could go under it without it falling on them. They could literally run under its shadow without suffocating in the darkness.
We need each other. The storms do come and threaten to carry us away. It is frightening. God has given us the honor of partnering with him to come to the aid of others. Why would he do that? Our God is so mysterious and beautiful. He is always about relationships. When we come before him on behalf of others, our hearts are more entwined with them and with God’s. In this process, he allows us to walk in the fullness of the journey. We learn empathy and compassion. Our hearts grow with love and we step outside our own selfishness. In truth, we are taking part in our own rescue when we ask him to move for others.
Our own hearts are delivered we intercede for other people.
God never wastes anything. He will use any and every circumstance to bring glory to himself and bring us to wholeness.
Who is like him?
Thanking God for the storms and for those who have chosen to partner with him to hold them at bay
He is good.
Psalm 113:1-6 ~
You who serve God, praise God!
Just to speak his name is praise!
Just to remember God is a blessing—
now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to God!
God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?”
Last week I brought home an answer to prayer. God gave me Astro, a little Paso Fino horse who is capturing my heart.
I lost my Sammy in June of this year and when I did I lost a horse I could ride without fear. I could go anywhere with him and know he was going to take care of me. He was 27 and tired and very sick. I had to let him go. He was a handsome soldier even in his death. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph him that day, even with my phone. I kept those images sacred in my heart and memory.
Now that my birdies have all flown I am home a good bit by myself. I often find myself clumsily stumbling through my days wondering where to invest my time and focus. In an effort to find my bearings I began looking into my own heart, the one God gave me when I was a little girl. Where did I find joy? That’s when I began to pray for another horse to spend some time with like my Sammy.
Last week I got a call from a good friend and neighbor telling me about Astro. Someone was trying to find a wonderful home for a well trained Paso Fino. I was so excited. I wondered if God was really answering my prayers so soon and if this could be my horse. I brought him home two days later. When Johnny saw his pictures he told me he was looking forward to riding him.
But there is something I haven’t mentioned yet.
Last week I had a panic attack while getting my hair done. I have had panic attacks in the past when I was going through an intense season of grief. This is common. This one jumped me out of the blue in a public place. I had no real warning. Suddenly I could not breathe and began to weep. Fortunately, my friend Tracy was doing my hair and took me to the back and prayed for me. I knew God was getting my attention. There are issues I am not attending to in my heart. I have allowed fear to creep into my everyday life. I have greeted the mornings edged in its shadow and gone to bed weary from wearing it like a garment all day long. It is an underlying current that erodes the structure of my life, eating away at peace and freedom.
I saw all of this in that moment crying in Tracy’s office. I knew I had to attend to these things. I have some ideas as to what I must do but I am still praying for God’s specific guidance.
When Johnny was home this weekend I had a migraine that made me want to hide in bed all day. He gently nudged me and said, “hey let’s go ride Astro and take pictures”. He knows my heart. All the kids came home Friday night, but I am convinced he stayed until Sunday because he knew about my current state. He is my empathetic child. I am so proud of the man he is becoming.
It was not long until I was doing the things I love the most — spending time with my boy, riding a horse and capturing the light clinging to their combined silhouettes.
God is so kind, and Astro is a gift. I will take back my life from the clutches of fear, one golden hour at a time.
I will take my own advice and breathe.
God is good and he will never leave me.
Psalm 94:17-19 ~
”Unless the Lord had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death
When I said, “My foot is slipping,
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
I have known this beautiful woman for several years now. I am honored to know her. She walks in both elegance and joy. When she laughs the whole world changes for just a moment.
I love my friend Sandra.
I had to talk her into this shoot. The truth is, she has not even the tiniest inkling that she is so gorgeous. She doesn’t have a clue. I was determined that I was going to show her. We had photographed her with her precious children in the 90 degree Georgia weather the week before and I had the idea then to sneak her away to my studio for a shoot all her own. She eventually acquiesced when I begged here (just a bit).
I wanted to show her what a classy woman she is so I planned the shoot with the hair and makeup artist myself. I was thinking classic so we stayed with a 60′s Jackie Kennedy style. Of course with her gorgeous lips she looks like Angelina Jolie a bit. I was like a kid. I had the best time planning all of this for her. She was moving back home to Michigan two days after our shoot and I wanted to give her a special gift before she left. She had given Johnny several things from her house for his new apartment so I wanted to bless her in return. She is one of the most generous people I know.
Some of you may know Sandra’s story. In 2011, she and her family were on their way to her first 5K race when they were struck by another driver. Sandra’s husband Glen later died from his injuries and Sandra had to learn to walk again. It is hard to type these things. She has been through so much. But I have watched God carry her as she placed her shattered life in his hands. She embodies the grace that God has wrapped around her life and the lives of her children.
That’s what I see when I see her. Grace personified.
This year, Sandra took the opportunity to publicly extend forgiveness to the woman who had struck her family’s vehicle that day. The video of her doing that got around and Sandra was invited to share her story on The View several weeks later. I was so proud of her. She handled herself with the grace and love that only God can give.
Sandra moved home to be close to her extended family where she can rest in their support as she continues her journey of healing.
I will miss you Sandra. I am so grateful that we crossed paths even if just for a little while. Thank you for your obedience to God and your willingness to live out vulnerability and love. You are a beacon of light and hope for those who are searching for him.
Look how beautiful you are!!!
Also thank you for letting me love you back.
Always your friend,
Mary Anne xxoo
I Corinthians 13:3-7 ~
” If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”
There is a sea of sunshine just outside my front door. My pasture is covered in tiny yellow flowers. Not the pasture to my left, or the pasture to my right. Just mine. When I was pondering this thought out loud to Chris this week, he said “God knows who lives here.” My insides fluttered a bit. The thought of God knowing me like that and gifting me with something so uniquely and extravagantly made me feel a bit giddy.
And surprised. Does God really love me that way? Out loud and in front of everyone?
I have been called Mary Sunshine since I was a little girl. My mom and dad both called me this not really knowing the other did. When I met Chris he soon followed suit. I began to realize that anyone who really knew me, knew my secret nick name. But God? Does he call me sunshine too? Yes, I think he does. To be known and loved at this level is the cry of all of our hearts, isn’t it?
And there is something else. This flower is called bitterweed. Not only does this seem ridiculous to me, but it astounds me because my first name Mary means bitter, with Anne meaning grace. I am reminded of the the beauty that has come from the deep pain in my life –the grace that has washed over me but at a great cost. Does it look like this?
If I am careful to release my pain to the only who can heal me will bitterness blossom into beauty? Yes, may it be so.
Bitterness can blossom into beauty. And my Father calls me Sunshine.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort those who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes
the oil of joy
instead of mourning
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”
Deidrick and Brandi were married on August 16th in St Augustine where the ocean kisses the sand.
Oh this wedding. So special. Chris officiated and I was the photographer. I love working alongside my husband. He cries when the bride enters, always. This wedding was no exception. I saw him through my lens trying to blink the wetness away. Brandi was indeed so elegant and beautiful. But to him it is more than that. He is always thinking about Christ and his church being reunited. The church in all her spotless glory coming forward to the happy groom.
I wept too.
Brandi and Deidrick love each other deeply and they love their God too. Their wedding was full of simple love and beauty. It was a sweet celebration and we all clapped happy when they danced. I don’t know how to share all the beautiful images but I will do my best post a few of the best ones.
Love and blessings, Mr. and Mrs. Deidrick Overby. May you know the rich blessing of living a lifetime of love and the pursuit of a Christ who is returning to gather his bride someday soon.
We love you ~
Chris and Mary Anne
There are some days when the warfare is so intense it’s all I can do to be still. The battle within rages and I just want to DO something about it all, but don’t know how or where to start. The arrows fly straight into me, hitting their mark without fail. Grief, sadness and fear grip me. I often cannot see my way out on these days, but I have learned a few things that help. I thought I would share them if you have days like this too.
Just breathe. We cannot live without breathing. This moment will pass and so will the next, until we can get to a moment that feels doable again. When I lost a child in 2006 I had panic attacks around the clock. Chris would often hold me, coaching me to breathe in and out slowly until they would pass. I will never forget that.
Be kind to yourself. I don’t know where we got the idea that being hard on ourselves is a noble thing. It is in fact the opposite. Take a walk. Watch a funny show. Read scripture out loud (the words of life). Call a friend who loves you. Eat chocolate if you need to.
Don’t make any big decisions. This is an important one for me. When my perspective is wonky I cannot make any important decisions. i.e. ”I am quitting my business” or ” I’m moving to California”. On these days I try to busy myself instead with feasible projects like ordering small spaces in my home or just doing laundry. Sometimes passing time and staying productive on a simple level is enough.
Pray. This one may seem like it should have been first, but I cannot always make it first on days like this. I just wanted to give you the same grace. Sometimes we have to level out a bit before we can pray like we want to. God is always present, full of love and compassion and ready to hear you. He loves you deeply and will give you what you need. Often we cannot feel his presence on the dark days. Call a friend who will help you if you need reminding that he is there. I needed this often during my grieving season. I had a friend who would just say over and over to me “God is with you”. I cannot express how much that meant to me.
Mercies will be new in the morning. So rest. I don’t know why these days come, but God will get you through.
Lamentations 3:22-23 ~”Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
To me, this is what freedom looks like. This leaf, done with gathering its own glory is the perfect window in which to view the true glory. When I found this fragile beauty in my yard last week I immediately bent down to pick it up. It held within its tender frame the similar magnetic powers of a newborn child, with vulnerability it’s greatest strength. This paradox sends me swooning and I want to be like this leaf.
Let me be like this Father. Let there be nothing in me to hold on to offense when the enemy of my soul slings it unreservedly in my direction. Let hurt pass right through me so that it never grows into bitterness and resentment, thus rotting my bones. Let there be nothing in me that insults and injustice can stick to, only you who fills the broken spaces.
Yes Father fill the broken spaces.
Help me not to seek my own glory, but rather be a perfect place for others to see you. Pass through me, fill me, your breezes blowing through my tender frame. May I be buoyed up and carried by you, weightless on my own as I throw off everything that hinders me.
Hebrews 12:1 ~”Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us…”
This is a sweet story for so many reasons. I was honored that Chelsea asked me to be part of her special day with Eric. I have known Chelsea for a long time. She and my Annie and three other precious girls have been best friends since middle school. They called themselves the fab five back then and still do. There were many sleepovers and late night walks on the farm over the years. When they graduated high school and went their separate ways they made it a point to stay in each other’s lives. They have lived out intentional friendship and in doing so they have created a bond that will likely last a lifetime. I am so blessed to know courageous and beautiful young women.
I loved hearing Chelsea and Eric’s love story. They met at Winshape, a Christian camp in Rome Georgia where they both worked. They both smiled as they recalled that moment. As time progressed they began arranging their duties at camp so they could spend more time talking and getting to know each other. It wasn’t long before they knew something very special was happening. It was a perfect match. Both of them love the outdoors and an active lifestyle. Both of them love Jesus and people. It is pure joy to be with them.
Eric and Chelsea elected to do a first look, enabling them to see each other privately before the ceremony and then have photographs taken. This alleviated some stress for them and for their guests who would have been waiting a long time in the summer heat after the ceremony when the bride and groom usually do photos. I highly recommend this!
Their wedding was beautiful and so much fun. Both of their families were such a delight.
Oh and the flower girl? She’ll be famous one day. What a beautiful precious child!
Thank you Wegesin and Latimer Families for allowing me to be part of such a lovely day. Blessings and best to you Chelsea and Eric!
Thank you to the fabulous Heather Wall of Heather Wall Photography for being so fantastic to work with. You are a star!
They were married at the lovely Wheeler House in Ball Ground, GA.
Posted on 18. Jun, 2014 by maryanne.
I have been looking forward to photographing Josh and Mekinnah’s wedding for some time now. Their engagement shoot found here was one of my favorites of all time. They are so at ease with each other and such genuine people. I have known Mekinnah’s family for over 15 years. Her mom was the first person to make me feel welcome at our church. She has a smile that lights up a room. I will never forget her kindness to me then as she reached out her hand to me and introduced herself. The whole family is that way. Not a faker in the bunch. They are authentic followers of Christ and they love people. Josh and his family were just as special. Our day together was pure joy for me. I loved every minute of it, and as you can see there is no scarcity of beauty in this group. The best part is, their hearts shine even more beautifully than their outward appearances.
Josh and Mekinnah pledged their love and commitment to each other in the presence of God and their family and friends on May 17th at Silver City Farms. It was a perfect day.
Love you, Josh and Mekinnah. May you have a lifetime of blessings and deep joy.
Thank you to my second shooter Sterling Graves who always does a stellar job. You can find more of his work at sterlinggraves.com.
And now, a million pictures. How could I choose?
Posted on 06. Jun, 2014 by maryanne.
Last night a storm rolled in over the ocean. We were all in awe of the glory. We lined up like sardines on the back deck to photograph it from our individual perspectives. Johnny and Chris and I bravely headed down to the shore to get a few images before the lightning got too close.
I instantly felt my smallness in the face of this storm. Chris and Johnny stood faces to the wind as I took a few shots. The sky was breathtaking, almost literally.
I am grateful to find my smallness, to realize I have no control and that I can surrender to a God who does. I must. He is a God who loves me and has every detail handled. I have been plagued with stomach issues for almost two weeks now and it strikes fear into my soul. Several years ago I battled a bacteria for over a year that could have taken my life. The pain of that season, the memories of bleak hospital stays and the worry that was so thick at that time, all hang around my spirit like anchors endeavoring to pull me under. I have to remember my God is like that storm. He is enveloping, taking me wherever he pleases. He is to be both feared and trusted. He has the power to heal and the strength to carry me.
He is in control and I am not.
Best of all, this King of all kings loves small me.
And you. What are you carrying that you need to cast into the clouds today? It’s all his anyway.
“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.”