testing... 1,2,3.

my kids eventually age into great photography helpers. it's their destiny if they enjoy eating ;)  anna katherine has become quite the little photographer! she is a fabulous wedding helper except when she tries to tell me "no." that's when i dock her pay and remind her that employees don't tell their employers no ;) mary claire 

my helpers no matter the age are always subjected to a series of "test shots." i am concertarting on lighting and Fstops, while paying absolutely no attention to what is happening on the other side. so it is always a pleasant surprise when i come across test shots on my computer

here is a set i couldn't not document! it's mary claire helping at a father daughter dance.

 sometimes they're so funny that i wish i had taken note of making them in focus!

 here's to a crazy busy week of bunny sessions!

twenty one

twenty one years ago from today was the happiest day of my life! 
happiest because this guy made everything else possible.
three kids, two homes, two dogs and countless cats.
it continues to fly by.
i love this man to pieces!
and weren't we a fashion emergency?!

i scrolled through pintrest for a virtual card i could send to our older children. i found one that said, "if i had a flower for every happy day, i could walk in a garden forever." i was going for the maximum eye roll ~ mom please! ~ factor! 

i found this one and couldn't stop myself! 

it was dress up day

jeff and i sat on the porch last night. he was playing his guitar, mary claire was riding her bike with friends, anna katherine was studying, and i was pondering what a strange day it had been. ever had a "strange" day? 

several strange personal messages today. one from the fire starter and one over an old blog post. i had a high school teacher that if she caught you passing notes, she would pin them to the bulletin board for all to see. i am seriously considering this!

i raced into town from a bridal portrait ~  mary claire had a dentist appointment. except the dentist forgot our appointment after we waited well over an hour. while in the waiting room i realized how out of touch i am with daytime tv garbage drama. i watched half of the dr. phil show and three episodes of judge judy. one episode was about a fraudulent cat breeder, one about a mother suing her disabled daughter for rent, and the other... i couldn't hear over candy crush.

 what are the chances we would sit beside the same lady from 10 weeks ago playing candy crush full volume on her iPad? strange.

after our (near) dentist appointment mary claire and i went out to dinner. we sat down in a restaurant on a school night... very strange. i realized (after eating) i had forgotten my wallet. i found just enough cash in my pocket to cover the bill. i have no idea when the cash was put there. 

but the ending to this strange day was priceless! absolutely hysterical!  my sister called. it was dress up day at school for sarah anne. "guess as to what she dressed up like." "a princess? a famous tennis player?" bingo! a famous tennis player!

except dress up day didn't mean "dive into your dress up box" (like i would have assumed too!) it meant it was PICTURE DAY! 

in our house, this could have been so much worse. our dress up box contains elvis wigs and wrestling masks. what a memorable second grade photo! 

i really, really needed this nightcap!

a little catch up

good morning and happy, happy spring! man the weather here is glorious! for a few short weeks i am in the weird mood for yard work. (we still have a giant mess from three fires in three years!) a few catch ups before i post more about our time in ecuador:

  • bennett enjoyed a nice spring break home. he is taking volunteer fire courses near clemson, so he was back and forth the entire week. he added in a few hiking days with his friends. crazy how mature he has become. i know, it is time. with one exception; he still picks on his sisters on a regular basis. 

  • anna katherine is gearing up for the prom. but not before she has her wisdom teeth removed over spring break. (all four!) she ordered her high school class ring. 

  • mary claire is thrilled the picture bunnies have arrived (groan) i love rabbit pictures, but no so much my dog + rabbits. it's a month of extra small prayers. i pray he doesn't eat them before they are loved on! (this year, i didn't borrow my rabbits. what was i thinking last year!!)

  • jeff and i will celebrate 21 years of marriage on thursday. seems like yesterday!
  • i have been sharpening my spanish skills. crazy that i have four years of spanish under my belt and remember (maybe) a dozen phrases!  two years in  high school and two in college. even though the courses were basically repetitive, it's sad that i remember so little. i purchased an online course with hopes of at least getting me to simple conversation. we shall see!

and now a lot of cute in one little boy!
my nephew 

real life RADICAL

we made it safley home from ecuador! i am thankful for an amazing babysitter (morgan) who allowed jeff and me to enjoy our trip worry free!  acclimating to real-life has taken a couple of days. my old laptop not agreeing with foreign internet providers made communication difficult. (and we were crazy busy.) at the end of most days we wanted to shake out our brains like a sandy beach towel ~ absorbing the wonder of the day. then it was group talk (and guaranteed laughs),  luke warm showers and sleep.  as filling as a thanksgiving dinner!

 it was an amazing experience ~  i may sound cliche, but yes it was life changing. jeff and i have grown in more ways than we ever could have imagined. we have experienced God's presence like never before. so many times i felt like a child getting their cheeks squeezed by an exhausted parent saying, "look at me when i am talking to you!" 
in january i read the book radical by david platt for the third time. this book is a must read ~ a life changer! before we left, i purchased the followup, radical together.  i bought the audio version for the plane ride. 

i was unaware that i would soon see the live performance of this book.

so as i dive into my 2000+ pictures, first i want to share (one of) my many radical experiences. 

this experience was with the quechua youth group.   the youth and their leaders were taking part in a day long prayer fast and worship services. the group met at 7:30 am and traveled by (a public) bus to an old farm on the outskirts of macahchi. 

the farm itself took my breath away! it was a rustic pintrest daydream. the leaders  apologized (?) for the rustic conditions. 

they apologized when the roof leaked and when the fire place popped and for the broken windows. we kept our coats on the entire day, yet i felt like i was in a beautiful dream ~please don't pinch me!

this sets the stage for radical's live performance. 

i was asked to speak about "purity." the day before maureen and i poured through literature, coordinating scripture with the topics. (she is an amazing leader!) i would be alone with my interpreter and i should plan to teach for 3-4 hours (with translation  two hours of material.) jeff and maureen were planning to visit another church where jeff would give a sermon on tithing and maureen would just be her awesome self. and sharon, bless her sweet soul, on this day she was down and out with a migraine.
we gathered. we worshiped. we praised.
we laughed. we cried.

 i experienced their "style" of worship. all so pure, sweet and simple. so powerful, i imagined the windows were shattered by previous powerful worship sessions just like this one ;)  

the drama was powerful. the actress was really crying. there were a few props; a wooden prayer block, magic marker tattoos, and quick wardrobe changes. despite the language barrier  (i wanted to give my translator a break.) i clearly understood the story line. 
worship, singing and dancing. my dance moves brought a lot of attention...
 imagine elaine on seinfeld. but worse ;) 
then it was time for the closing worship.
 for this south carolinian baptist ~ it was time to buckle my seatbelt and hold on tight.
Jesus is in the house!
 this was worship like i have never seen before.

it was amazing.  at s i stood their i wanted to video every minute to share back home. the leaders intentionally pouring into these teenagers. tears flowing, the adults were filling them to the top. every adult prayed with each and every young person. not a short canned prayer, but a personal prayer. 

the song looped so many times as i stood in awe. i was trying to keep my stream of tears in (somewhat of) control.  hearts were being penetrated in powerful ways, mine included... 

as i struggled to keep myself from melting into my own tears, the chapter (in radical together)  genius of wrong, kept coming to my mind. is this what david platt meant when he said to, "strip away the elements of american corporate worship?" 

this worship wasn't taking place in an extravagant building. the roof was leaking on our heads. but i was surrounded by extraordinary believers!

what attracts youth to church? this. intentional Jesus.

 the holy spirit was holding my cheeks saying, "look around you! this what draws youth to the church."

at 5pm, they broke the fast. a sandwich and hot oatmeal.

and this is when you say, 
"yes. this trip was life changing." 

i will never forget this day.
i felt like i had run an emotional marathon on an empty stomach. but pictures (amercian style) were a must! i fell in love with this group!

after a long day, i was invited to their home in the city for dinner. 
chicken soup topped with popcorn! ah-mazing!

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