Valentine Pink

I approached the register with hands full of art supplies and stood there for a few moments while the cashier stared out the wall of windows behind me, suddenly captivated. Apologetically,  she motioned towards the counter and admitted she was distracted by the sunset. I gasped as I turned to see that in the few minutes I’d been inside the sky had turned brilliant shades of pink and orange. It was a worthy distraction even if it was framed by a strip mall.

There was no one in line behind me so the cashier asked if I would mind her stopping to take a picture while it lasted. I gladly obliged and stepped out of the way so she could get a better view. After snapping a couple of photos and pocketing her phone she apologized, claiming it was cliche’ to love sunsets but she just couldn’t help it. I smiled and said I was just as guilty and I didn’t think it cliche’ at all. I told her that I feel like sunsets are God’s gifts to us, evidence that we are seen and loved. And maybe it was the hot pink hues turning me to sentimental mush, but maybe it was Jesus whispering to my heart as the words left my mouth.

“They’re like valentines.” 

She probably thought I was silly because she left my comments unacknowledged and quickly sent me on my way. But the exchange has stayed with me and ever since each sunset has felt special. God paints the sky with Valentine Pink, unconstrained by Hallmark holidays. We can know His love through something as simple as a color. So, pay attention. And next time the sky glows don’t apologize for pulling over to take a picture.

Valentine

 Some Valentines come more than once a year.

 

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My Mississippi River

Is it possible for a river to be a part of you? If I go more than a month without seeing my Mississippi River, I begin to ache with longing. Every time I visit her, she is different, but it’s a comforting kind of change. I expect this from her. She is quick, she is slow. She is high and she is low. And with every ebb and flow, new treasures are unearthed. She carries things in her current and then lays them to rest at her shores. These are her gifts to me.

My river treasures

My river treasures

Her strength is fierce but she has always been gentle with me. When I am flailing and forget how to breathe the sight of her steadies me. She is there to listen to me whisper things I can’t speak to anyone else. She keeps my secrets, anchors them for me until I am ready to let them go in her current.

My secret keeper.

My secret keeper.

Where I meet her she carries piece of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas, but most just call this “mud”. Here, she is rejected as anything more than a source of commerce. She has widened and lost the allure of purity. She is both the Divider and the great Uniter of these States, and she flows, content without recognition.

But I see her. And she sits with me.

She sees me.

She sees me.

Snapshots

Why is it that when someone takes an unannounced blog hiatus, they feel the need to provide excuses or somehow explain the absence? It’s an unspoken pressure – and I know I’m not the only blogger who feels it.

So yes, I took an unannounced hiatus. All I know to tell you is that my inspiration fled for a time. But it has returned. My hands are itching to write once again. I can feel the fountain of words bubbling beneath the surface, and I am relieved.

But until the time that those words find their way these digital pages I thought I might share a few pictures with you – my blog followers – of what I’ve been up to for the last two months. You can actually see where my renewed inspiration comes from.

Jordan and I visited Houston with some dear friends of ours. We took a day trip to Austin, TX where the photo below was taken in this great crafty antique shop on Congress. Austin is a great city!

Me, Jordan {sister}, and Arielle

We had some grand adventures and tried new things (as always) like Coconut water that we got from a Malaysian Restaurant! Jaclyn (our friend in Houston) knows all these great places for great food! We wandered around Chinatown seeing odd sites and avoiding Durian Fruit every time we turned around. Jaclyn and her husband Orlando are as fabulous as my big sisters. And if you know me, you know my big sisters are pretty spectacular.

Jordan, Me, Jaclyn and Arielle

If you have been on Pinterest for any length of time it’s likely that you seen this idea to give 60 memories for a fathers 60th birthday. This was inspiration defined! Our beloved Poppie turned 60 years old at the end of October and we managed to gather notes and letters from friends old and new, co-workers, church members, neighbors, and family.

Jordan stamped all 60 envelopes

I was absolutely overwhelmed to see the ways my father has effected so many lives. I plan on publishing what I wrote to him here on the blog sometime soon. This project produced many tears and much laughter, and our Poppie was so very blessed by it.

Tears as they were read aloud.

At the beginning of November Jordan and I decided to take a spontaneous trip back up The Natchez Trace where these adventures happened. This time were were going camping and hiking!

Me at the Parkway Entrance 

We had a great time hiking all 13 miles of trails in Tishomingo State Park. Even though most of the leaves had fallen, it was still beautiful!

Our shadows on Swinging Bridge over Bear Creek
We did a lot of smiling

We also listened to this song a lot on this trip. I love this group. You can download it for free here.

And finally, over this past Thanksgiving weekend, I turned 23.  I had an amazing time with my family and got some great gifts (Thank you Jordan for Bonhoeffer on Radio Theatre). As an excuse to get out of the house Jordan and I took my niece, Leah, and got manicures (in pale neutral shades).

Of course we did. 

I’ve got to tell you guys that my niece is one of the most amazing teenagers I’ve ever met. It shouldn’t surprise me, because she has some great parents. I enjoyed every moment with her, as you can see from the pictures below.

A very happy birthday indeed
We got our “no evils” a little out of order

And y’all. This chick is gor-ge-ous. If my future children are even half as beautiful as my nieces, this family is going to have to take stock in the weapons industry.

Photo from my shoot with her this weekend.

I can’t tell you the last time I’ve enjoyed my family so much. And still am. We made some lovely memories.

So the loveliness continues. I love the holidays. I love cuddling under a blanket (new new fluffy, fleecy one!) with some tea to watch old Christmas movies. I’m looking forward to an entire month of these kind of indulgences. It’s the simple things…

milktea with honey #favorite

Family Portrait Sessions

The holidays are returning and bringing with them the promise of cooler weather! Finally! Because God is blessing us with a string of gorgeous days, it’s the perfect time for family photo sessions before Christmas.

Just as I did last year I’m offering my services to do family
portraits for a reduced fee. For $80 per session you will receive:
Up to 2 hours with me at 1-3 locations of your choosing
(Consider the State Capital parks, LSU, or fields/property in Central)
20-40 edited photos which will include group portraits, individual portraits (of each child), and couples portraits of your choosing
A CD of your photos will be provided to you with high quality images
In order to keep costs low, I do not process your photos. You can have them printed using http://www.Shutterfly.com or at most drugstores and superstores. It will take me approximately a week to edit all your photos and you will be able to preview them either through a private facebook album, your email, or on my blog. I will deliver your photos to you once they’ve been edited.

I will be available on weekday afternoons (after 4pm) through the end of October, and on weekends, both Saturday and Sunday, through the early part of December. Photos make great Christmas gifts, and Shutterfly offers some really neat photo-related gift items, as well as hundreds of unique Christmas photo cards.
***Special Christmas Mini-Sessions***
For those of you who don’t want to do a long portrait session on location but would still like a nice family portrait in front of Christmas decor for a card, I am offering an in-home mini-session which will include:
Up to 30 minutes with me in/at your home
(in front of the Christmas tree, or outdoors if you have that option)
Up to 5 edited photos with poses of your choice
A CD of your photos will be provided with high quality images
I will be providing these shoots for the reduced cost of $35 per mini-session. This offer is only valid November 27th through December 15th to allow you time to order Christmas cards (unless you, like Wal-Mart, put up your Christmas decorations at Halloween. I’m not judging!). The delivery of your photos will be expedited and you should receive them within 2 days of your shoot.
You can contact me through facebook message, email, or phone if you’d like to discuss scheduling and details. Contact me soon! My schedule is going to fill up quickly!

** The photos in this post were taken during Christmas mini-session last year.