Thursday, November 22, 2012


Eucharistia - is greek for Thanksgiving. When Kyle and I went to Greece last year in an attempt to get away and re-focus on our relationship, we learned a variation of this word very quickly as we would say "thank you" for gifts given and kind words to the people we met along our journey through Greece. I recently re-visited this word when reading the book One Thousand Gifts... a book about being thankful in all circumstances, even the tough ones.

For me, one of the tough ones was this past Monday, when I would have been celebrating my sweet little girl turning 3 years old. I woke up to a phone call from the dermatologist office letting me know that the two biopsies they took off last week were in fact pre-cancerous (again). I was still healing from a wide excision from another pre-cancerous mole and they let me know that I would have to have another one. As I hung up, I saw the date on my phone and just burst into tears.

I was hoping on the 19th, I would be able to wake up and give thanks and stay positive. However, it was quite the opposite. I wanted to stay in bed all day. I wanted Kyle to love me and tell me it was all going to be okay, but he was long gone to work. I wanted chocolate and flowers. I wanted to see my little girl and celebrate her life, not dwell in her death. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and let the day pass away. Not knowing what else to do, and feeling so miserable, I sent out a prayer request to the moms at our church which went something like this,

"I could really use some prayer today. I am feeling really broken and alone. Today would have been Skylar's 3rd Birthday. Birthdays were always a big deal in my family and were something we celebrated for days, which makes it even harder to face my daughter's birthday without her here. It should be a day of fun, love and togetherness. Right now I am depressed, alone and pretty full of tears.  

I was supposed to have a meeting with my counselor this afternoon and she cancelled on me (apparently she sent me an email a few days ago but I didn't find out until this morning when I sent her a text saying I was really looking forward to our session). I got a phone call this morning that I am going to have to have another wide excision because another mole came back pre-cancerous on my shoulder (in a really sensitive spot near my armpit so it's going to be a really sensitive recovery as far as movement goes and not ripping stitches). I also have to have a colonoscopy at the beginning of december to rule out Chron's disease for GI issues. 

I'm thankful that I've been able to catch everything early, but it is just exhausting after everything I have been through with Skylar. I know my body wasn't created to live forever in this world - and obviously Skylar's wasn't either, but it still sucks. I just feel like the rest of my life is going to be full of suffering (my own and others around me) and it makes my heart heavy. I know that the pain of losing Skylar will never go away and it's not going to get better with time. I'm starting to realize that I'll always have the pain, but it's just a matter of learning to let joy into the same space. I'm not sure if anyone has seen The Secret Life of Bees, but I feel like Miss May. Maybe I need to build a wall... 

Anyway, thanks for listening and for your prayers that God would bring love into my life today as well as peace and comfort."

I didn't have any words left and my heart was so broken, I couldn't even pray other than just letting God know where I was and what I was feeling. In those times, it's nice to have other people to pray for you. Within minutes, whether it was my own confession that I had no strength to function on my own or the prayers of many lifting me up, I felt lighter and able to function.

I managed to get out of bed and placed some holiday card orders for clients and worked on editing for Shutter Sweet Photography. For my birthday (in August), Kyle bought me some clays and promised to take me shooting for the first time ever once we found a place where we could... He called me to let me know that he was going to take a break from work and we were going to go shoot some shotguns with friends later in the day. It was a much needed break and a breath of fresh air - I was so relieved to have someone around me and get out of the house.

I can honestly say I had fun. My heart was still sad, but I was able to be thankful for God's creation, for old and new friends, for encouraging messages that moms from our church were sending me, for family, for my relationship with Kyle, the ability to breathe, for my muscles still functioning, and the list goes on. With that thankfulness, the weight lifted.

Today I am thankful that I still have life. I hope you are too. It's hard to give thanks in tough circumstances and it's even hard to maintain thankfulness through daily stresses and life events. For me, I've found that it's the only way to heal. The only way to get past your own suffering and recognize that things can always be worse. Just as Ann Voskamp explains in the book One Thousand Gifts, I see God's gifts all around me and I try to soak them in as much as I can. My hope is that you can see the gifts around you and be thankful for them.

 Peace and HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Month of Travels...

The month of September was full of travels and I can't believe October has already come and gone! This post is full of photos so be sure to click on them to see them full size!

We started on August 31 (my birthday) and boarded a plane with a wonderful couple we had never met before to photograph their destination wedding in the Bahamas. I love my job :)

The couple found my photography website online and after interviewing and several in depth phone calls, the bride let me know she hired us and we were going on a three-day cruise to the Bahamas, leaving from Miami. The entire group of family and friends were fabulous and a joy to be around. Kyle got to go with me as my second shooter (he's starting a new photography website under the name Blue Wall Photography - more for landscapes). Although I have a handful of people I like to second shoot with, I let the bride decide and I was glad she picked Kyle!

We returned on the 4th of September, and a week later, we turned around and boarded a plane to head in the other direction... All the way to Maine to visit Matt (Kyle's brother).  It was an amazing trip and really wonderful to visit Maine for the first time. Kyle and I enjoyed hanging out with Matt and all of his cool grad school friends in Orono. We were able to cram a lot into our 9 day visit, including a backpacking trip along the Cutler coast (stopping in the northeastern most gift shop in the US of course), lunch in Lubec, hiking in Acadia for two days (including climbing Mount Champlain), dinner in Bar Harbor, touring University of Maine's campus, hanging out in Bangor, lobstering in Blue Hill (catching and cooking our very first lobster dinner!), chillin' at Popham beach and Kyle got to climb the highest peak with his brother - Mount Khatadin. I have lots of stories! Just ask if you want to know more...

We just got the tail end of the warm weather in Maine and left just as the leaves were starting to change. I was sad to leave so soon because I could tell the leaves were going to be a brilliant display of color, but we had to get back so I could photograph the reception of the destination wedding, which was held in TN.

The reception took place on a farm in the middle of nowhere TN and it was a dream location for any photographer with perfect weather, complete with a red barn, open green fields, hay stacks, rustic fun and a gorgeous tent. I couldn't have asked for anything better! It was fun reuniting with the families and friends we hung out with for the wedding weekend and we thoroughly enjoyed it. You can view it on the Shutter Sweet blog if you're interested.

Just after that, we left to go to Colorado for another wedding. This wedding was to celebrate a dear friend of ours from college - a roommate of Kyle's. Kyle was a groomsmen and it was so fun to see him wearing suspenders and a bow tie with his buddies. The location was picture perfect as the sun spilled over the mountains in the distance to light up the field where we all gathered. I had so much fun seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We enjoyed it so much, we even talked about moving there, but I am pretty sure we'll be planting our roots in Atlanta for now. However, we did stay an extra few days to go hiking, hang with friends and enjoy Colorado! I saw my first snow of the year (and actually hiked in it climbing a 12,000 ft mountain) which was my first time hiking above the tree line. I was a little bummed how hazy it was from the wildfires, but enjoyed it none the less. Here are a few photos that captured the trip:

We returned home, got settled and then two weeks later had one last wedding to attend for a close friend of ours in Greenville, SC. It was also a gorgeous wedding in a very different urban loft setting which was also a ton of fun - Kyle even asked me to dance since I was an unofficial photographer! We were able to hang out with some different college friends and head back to ATL late that night.

I had every intention of updating the blog as soon as we returned at the beginning of the month, but once we were back, I have been slammed with work and we dove straight into house plans and are moving forward (more to come on the next blog). We'll keep you posted on the progress! Hope everyone had a happy Halloween and I'll be posting again soon - stay tuned.