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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

True Beauty

My niece and I have begun the most wonderful tradition. Every time we see each other (which is not nearly as often as I would like since they live in southern Florida and we live up here in PA) we have a special morning out together, just the two of us. We go somewhere new, have a super fun photo session, and then have breakfast together (or lunch if the morning passes us by). It is one of the highlights of our visits to Florida, and I'm not sure what I enjoy more, shooting this beautiful young lady out in the gorgeous Naples environment, or spending time talking and laughing with this amazing person who just yesterday was this little baby girl who called me "J".

Here are a few of my favorites from our most recent morning out last month. But first, a quick snap of who she once was! This was taken about 7 years ago. Too funny!

Thankfully, my photography has improved over the years to do justice to the beauty that she exudes.

This was the last shot we took, as I dropped her off at school for her basketball game. My guess is that this would be her favorite one, as it truly exemplifies the athletic, natural, simple girl that she is. The scripture seems to fit the image, and I hoped it would remind her of the promise of God's presence and power in her life.
Hannah, may you never doubt your beauty. It comes from your eyes, your smile, and your precious heart. You are one of the greatest blessings of my life. You make all those years of hanging out with your dad worth it! Hee hee!
(JK Billy!)

Keep smiling,

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Fruit of the Spirit: JOY

So I've been working on a personal photography project, as some of you might remember from a recent blog post. Each month, I am focusing on one particular fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). December's focus was on JOY. I figured that would be pretty easy as the month ended with my three kids tearing into tons of Christmas presents- surely I could capture tons of joy there, right?

However, God had something different to show me with respect to joy. And it came on the Monday morning after Christmas.

On this sunny morning, we took our little girl to get her ears pierced. It was one of her Christmas presents, and boy, was she excited! Talk about joy! This was something she'd been waiting a long time for. And she had a whole crowd of family to share in the joy with her. Of course, mom and dad were there, but also Grandma, Aunt Tara, and cousin Hannah who is just the coolest person in B's world! She was beyond excited, beyond joyful!

She sat as still as possible as the lady marked her little lobes, pre-determining the perfect spot for the pretty little earrings.

This was such a wonderful, joyful moment for our Brady girl. She was just seconds away from getting something so special, something that she'd been hoping for for so long. However, what Brady didn't know was that she was going to have to endure a little pain in order to enjoy having a life time of beautifully pierced ears.

The first earring went in with a little pop, and I saw her face crumble. We had not told her about the pain, knowing that she would have been too afraid to endure it. She would have missed out on the joy of having her ears pierced simply because she was too afraid of the pain. So instead, we chose to keep it from her, knowing it would be worth the pain.

And sure enough, after a few tears, and one more pop, my beautiful little girl was enjoying her beautiful new earrings. The pain had been worth it, as we knew it would. She was again filled with joy, sporting pretty little pink flowers in her ears, which sort of matched the color of her tear-stained eyes and cheeks.
That morning with my sweet B got me to thinking about God's joy for us, and it reminded me of the Bible verse that I chose for Brady's life verse years ago.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Our Father knows the plans that He has for His precious children, just like I knew the plans that we had for our precious little girl. And just like that morning and our plans for Brady, God's plans are never to harm us, but to prosper us, to give us hope and a future. His good plans for us sometimes mean enduring pain, physically, or otherwise. His good plans for us don't always feel good. Sometimes we even cry and wonder how any joy can come of this pain.

But we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, (Romans 8:28), and in the end, our tears bring forth great joy and great hope and great blessings. If we only choose to trust Him through the pain.

All that from a morning at Claire's getting a 6 year old's ears pierced? Really?

Yup. God has a wonderful way of teaching me through my precious children, as He whispers to me "See how much you love them? I love you and them so much more."

Have a blessed and joyful day.

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