This Christmas season I am starting a new tradition. I am putting up a Jesse Tree and working through Ann Voskamp’s latest book The Greatest Gift. The book (which includes a link to downloading your own ornaments) is a study in unwrapping the season of Christmas. I for one am in desperate need of rescuing during this season in which the culture can suck me right into commercialism rather than worship. My head is already spinning. I have printed out my ornaments and Chris brought in my own Jesse Tree from the woods (which looks more like a Charlie Brown tree.)
I would love to hear from others who are also doing this. I wish I had known about this when my children were small. Oh well, onward. Perhaps I will do a Jesse Tree with my grandchildren someday.
You can read more about Ann’s book and this project on her blog A Holy Experience. Warning, if you stop by there, be prepared to stay awhile. Ann’s mixture of writing and photographs are mesmerizing and inspiring.
Yes, it’s 4 in the morning, and yes this is the busiest season of my photography career, but I had to post this image before I went to bed. I love it. I love the relationships shown here. It was Lauren’s senior shoot, but I had to capture her mother and grandmother who were present with her. Aren’t they all so stunning?
Good night all!
These two, they make my job easy. So sweet together and so in love, Mekinnah and Josh are a dream couple to photograph. I have known Mekinnah and her family since she was little and just look at her now, all grown up and beautiful — and engaged! I have the honor of photographing their precious wedding next May.
Thank you both for being so wonderful during our shoot. It was so much fun and I am swooning over these images of you two. See you soon!
I absolutely loved my afternoon with the precious Ansley Janes last week. She is artsy and fun and comfortable in her skin. I just adore her. The day she came was the day after she was baptized at church and she was shining like a new star. She wore the new white converse she had purchased to wear after her baptism to symbolize her new life in Christ. They looked lovely with the white crinoline I keep in my studio for occasions such as this. We played in the studio and and then out in the pasture with Gunsmoke my black walking horse. Such a lovely day.
Blessings Ansley. I am so excited about what God has in store for you. Keep shining.
Here’s to the freedom and joy of just being a girl. Here’s to curled locks that shine in sunlight, dancing shoes, eyelet dresses and velvet chairs. Here’s to climbing atop rolls of hay just because you can, criss-crossing cowgirl boots and twirling your hair.
Here’s to laughter, crinkled noses, sparkling eyes, and dancing free into open doorways.
Here’s to womanhood, fresh from the pages of God’s story, bounding into a full and happy life.
Always know you are beautiful and that is a good, good thing.
Sometimes I just wake up and life looks like this. It’s as if the spinning started in my sleep. Anxiety and angst disorient me the moment I plant my feet on the floor. I don’t want it to be this way. In fact, days before I had a wonderful breakthrough. I had heard some gentle and guiding words from God and I chatted like a bird during our walk the night before. Chris listened patiently as I shared the things I had heard from God and how I felt it was playing out in my world. He smiled a calm but genuine smile as I rambled on about order and how I felt I belonged, really belonged to the Father. He was going to order me. Not my world, but me, in his perfect way. God had told me how to pray.
But today that peace and sense of belonging is far far away. My insides churn as I squeeze out short prayers to God. My house is a mess. Every corner and crevice is cluttered and speaking ugly things to me about my value. I cannot listen. I find my red skippies buried in a disheveled closet and tie the laces while Janey watches me closely. “Let’s go outside” I tell her grabbing my camera on the way out.
I have to find peace.
The path that leads into the woods is overgrown and looks like a picture of my life. Nothing seems clear. I pray again the scripture that I have prayed consistently for three months. “Lead me in paths of righteousness for your namesake.” I don’t know which way to go with my life right now.
So I count the things I do know. I count the gifts he has given me. 1. Red skippies. 2. Red barn. 3. Leaves that curl and wisp over the earth. 4. Leaves lit by sunlight creating a stained glass cathedral in the woods. 5. The cool dirt and how I feel connected to God when I sit right down in it. 6. Puppies and horses. 7. Muscadines, ripe and sweet.
As I begin to concentrate on what I know and what I have, the snide voices hush quiet in the face of worship. They cannot stand in that place. I make my way to the rope swing and Janey follows close behind. She is always with me. I hop onto the swing and the chase begins. I swing and she runs after me, nipping at my skippies. I giggle like a little girl. It’s just me and Janey in the backyard and I am laughing until I cry. And then I really cry. As I whirl around, I cling to the rope and look up. Even though everything is revolving around me, I am tethered to a source that does not spin out of control. I realize this is how my day really began. Yes, things felt chaotic, but I was held, tethered, to a God who does not change.
With this thought in mind, I know that I have to purpose myself to rest in the ride. I don’t have to feel in control or see all the wonderful outcomes in real time. I just have to trust the One who does. I hold onto the rope knowing that it is I who is truly held.
I do not have to be afraid. I can enjoy the ride.
Psalm 62:1,2 ~ “I find my rest in God alone. He is the One who saves me. He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me. He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.”
This week I had the honor of being Ann Voskamp’s speaker host for the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. I was deeply humbled by this opportunity to serve her. If you have read much of my blog posts in the past, you will know I am a fan of Ann. Her first book, One Thousand Gifts, profoundly impacted me. From the first words to the last, I was captured by her writing. She writes in lucid tones of imagery. I could see everything she said, and what she said changed me. If you have not read this book, do not delay. I encourage you to get a copy today and begin your own journey of gratitude.
I loved watching her at the conference with people. Every person that approached her got her undivided attention. She listened intently as they spoke as if they were the only person in line. She is the wife of a farmer and a mother to six beautiful children whom she homeschools. She leaves all this to go speak to those who are strangers to her, and yet she embraces us all as if we are dear friends. If Ann were sitting with me as I am writing this, she would shake her head in humility. Self-glory rolls away from her like water down silky duck feathers. She is pointing to Jesus, always Jesus. She knows he is the source, the only one worthy of her praise. I watched her as she was introduced to speak while the accolades rolled on of her New York Times best seller. She whispered softly and bent low in spirit so that no praise would stick to her. I saw her, beautiful Ann, giving all the praise again to Jesus. And when she stepped up there to speak, I saw boldness and conviction. I saw a women desperate to get the message through. She spoke with the passion and strength of one who has met with God in the quiet places.
Perhaps the thing she said that stayed with me the most was this. ” God is good. You are loved. Game changer!” So simple and so true. I have said this to myself at least once a day since then and I can feel grace doing its good work in me. Game changer indeed.
Before she left the second day, I asked if I could photograph her. She knows that is my heart. She was kind and acquiesced. We stepped outside and the sun streamed down as if on cue. Ann stepped into the light as I lifted my lens, smiling. God is so kind.
This is Ann, full of grace. This is Ann, my friend. I hope to see her again very soon.
If you would like to read Ann’s work on a daily basis, she has a beautiful blog called A Holy Experience. I highly recommend subscribing.
I am always glad when I get to post a wedding. It’s like reliving the beauty of the day all over again.
Laura and Christopher had such a gorgeous day to be wed. We were able to photograph their precious first look and foot washing on the farm of a sweet friend. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it was like God blew us a kiss with beautiful magic hour light as they exited the ceremony. Their hearts shone bright in the streaming sunlight as they kissed and laughed together relishing their new marriage. They are the sweetest couple and I am so grateful I got to spend some time with them. They have the beautiful heritage of both sets of parents still married and in love. They are off to a great start!
Blessings to you Laura and Christopher! Here are some highlights of your day.
(Thank you to the amazing Sterling Graves of Sterling Graves Photography for second shooting with me. You are a gem and a gift.)
Posted on 17. Sep, 2013 by maryanne.
When she is with him, she knows. She knows she is held. Safe. Free. Loved.
She is at peace. She doesn’t have to worry if there will be enough for her. Enough food, enough time, enough love. She knows. She is loved for who she is and she is his.
She can dance on his toes knowing he knows all the steps and he’s got her. She becomes all she was meant to be in his embrace. This is what it looks like when daddies love their daughters.
I loved my time with Alex and Kai and how they showed me again what the love of the Father looks like.
Posted on 07. Sep, 2013 by maryanne.
I love this precious couple. This is Matt and Becky. She calls him Mattie, and I love that too. When he looks at her you can tell he knows just how lucky he is.
I don’t know how they found me, but Becky contacted me several months ago about their October wedding and we met at Octane Coffee to talk about the details. We did discuss the wedding, which I am so excited about, but we also talked about life, love and marriage. They were so transparent about their love for each other and for God. I was smitten with them both and knew this was going to be a joy. We then chatted about their engagement session details, and decided that The Goat Farm in Atlanta might be a great option for them. I had never shot there before and was excited to see what all the fuss was about. It is a pretty popular spot for photographers in Atlanta. We did need to get permission and pay a fee to shoot there, but the light and the scenery made it worth it.
I am looking forward to their wedding at A Place to Share in Villa Rica. Another barn wedding! Yay!
Blessings, Matt and Becky. You shine.