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A new season.

I thought this post would be really easy to write. I’ve been waiting to write it for six years.

Mike accepted a position at Northside in Columbia South Carolina in April, 2009. We got married in July 2009, moved into our first apartment and embarked on an adventure together. I had been doing a lot of traveling in college, lived in Argentina for a year, majored in international studies, and had no qualms about moving 10+ hours away from my hometown. Not long after, we found our first home and bought a dog… Buckeye. A nod to our beloved Ohio.

We made wonderful friends in Columbia. I started my business and connected with amazing families. We worshiped and served and traveled with our church family…whom we adopted as our own. We welcomed our daughter into the world and she was embraced by so many. Then we packed our belongings and moved to Barnwell.

Mike started seminary. We moved twice in twelve weeks. I watched Mila learned to crawl, walk, & run… mumble, babble and now speak in full sentences. We met new students, new families, & made new friends. Again, we were welcomed into many homes and “adopted” as family. God strategically gave us relationships with others who would be our home-away-from-home. We cooked meals together, rocked on front porches, went on wagon rides, and lived life together. We’ve enjoyed the South Carolina sun, the short drive to the beach, quick vacation get-aways (we honeymooned at Hilton Head, so we’ve loved reliving those memories now as a family), watching watermelon trucks drive by (or buses!), hearing the sweet southern drawl, and embracing the one-of-a-kind hospitality.

In and out of those beautiful memories, there was an underlying feeling of loss for me. It is a battle I’ve fought for a long time and only felt the safety to share with a handful of people. Surrendering our lives and ministry wholeheartedly, and yet hoping for the day when I can call my mom when I’m feeling sick. Eagerly anticipating weekend getaways at our family cottage, celebrating nieces and nephews birthdays & seeing our siblings and parents for the holidays (and only having to travel to see one family instead of splitting holidays between the two & having to choose). I’ve wanted Mila to have a deep relationship with her cousins, aunts & uncles, grandparents…give those family members the opportunity to watch her grow up. I have always wanted to be available for them too.

Now, it’s here. We are moving back HOME.

I started this post by saying… I thought it would be easy. My heart is devastated and overjoyed at the same time. I can hardly believe this season I’ve waited for… is here. We’ve planted roots, made relationships and have so many cherished memories…experienced many of life’s milestones. We cannot deny that they’ve made us part of who we are. We cannot pretend it doesn’t feel like dislocating a shoulder. However, I know deep in my bones that the Lord has paved our way and orchestrated this beyond my understanding. Life seems chaotic right now… but nothing is chaos to Him. What a relief!

We want to say THANK YOU to so many of you. Countless friends have watched Mila so I could work or go for a run, stayed with her overnight so we could have a quick trip away, visited us in the hospital when Mila was sick, brought us meals after she was born, invited us to your homes for holiday dinners… the list goes ON and ON and ON. Your faces flash in my mind as I type this, and those memories have been burned on my heart forever.

Down to the “nuts and bolts” of our remainder in South Carolina… We will be here through October 5th. (If you are a client and would like a final session, shoot me an email.) Mila is being dedicated at our church here in Barnwell at our 8:30am service on September 14. If you are able to visit with us & support us, we would LOVE to have you. (I’ll remind everyone again as it comes a little bit closer!). The next 8 weeks are going to fly by… so if you’d like to catch up between now and then…lets do it. Email, fb, text, whatever & we will get together!

Here are some business dates I have on the calendar that might interest you…

  • 30 Minute Mini Sessions at the Canals at the Riverwalk : August 16th. Only a few spots available!! INVESTMENT: $99
  • 30 Minute Mini Sessions at the Statehouse in Columbia: September 13. INVESTMENT: $99
  • 30 Minute Mini Sessions in Barnwell: September 20th: INVESTMENT: $99
  • ANY full session (1 hour) booked before we move is only $200! (Savings of $150)
  • ANY prints ordered through your personal gallery before August 16th are 50% OFF!! (I will not be renewing my membership with my lab, and this is your last chance to get professional prints! HUGE SAVINGS!) USE COUPON CODE: FINALSALE

Blessings to all of you & know you always have a place to stay with us if you find yourself in Ohio! Our home will always be open to you.

***THANK YOU TO JESSICA HUNT for taking these pictures for us!! She has been our family photographer since Mila was born (literally, in the hospital with us!) and we have been so grateful to have portraits to fill our home.

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Caroline at home: Newborn Session

 

Chris and Courtney are our dear friends and they recently welcomed Caroline into their home. She is a gorgeous baby girl and I know they are so excited to watch her grow up. They already show how much they cherish her and it is clear she is well loved. I have been so excited to share these photos with you… taken when she was just 8 days old. Congratulations to the 3 C family…. Caroline Rose is just perfect.

 

 

 

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A lot to say.

Mila is talking up a storm. I knew she was catching on and repeating¬†everything I say, but lately it seems to have gone through the roof. Her comprehension and communication skills are astounding to me. My parents spent a week with her alone while Mike & I were in Haiti, and as life-long teachers, they kept saying over and over how well she’s doing. I don’t think of her as doing anything uncommon, but it does seem that she is grasping language development at a very early age. I’m thinking about beginning to teach her some Spanish vocabulary since she is picking up words with barely any reinforcement. But for now, I simply want to remember how well she’s talking as a ONE YEAR OLD… (she’s not 2 yet!)…If you ask Mila how old she is, she says “2!”:)Not quite yet sweetheart. Don’t grow up any faster than you have to!

Here are some things she’s said recently…

  • “Mama, rock rock a little bit…”
  • “Sun is hot, hot, hot!”
  • “Sit with mama…Mama do it with me…” She has started to ask if she can sit with me every time we get into the car. She knows that she has to sit in her carseat, so she starts laughing when I say no.
  • Every morning she stands up in her crib and says ” Mama… COME HERE!! Mama… WAKE UP!”
  • “Watch apple banana song on the TV! (teeeveeee!)”
  • When we pray together she normally says… “Jesus….I pray…for {insert name}…bless them! Jesus name, Aaaamen!”
  • She can answer 5 catechism questions right now. 1) Who made you? God! 2) Who loves you? Jesus! 3) What did God make? All things. 4) How many are in the Trinity? 3! 5)What is your purpose? PRAISE JESUS! (She throws her hands in the air and shouts it!)
  • We were in Target yesterday with our friends Aubree & her daughter Emma and Mila kept wanting to “Share crackers with Emma” and would hand them over to her cart. Precious.
  • When we were on vacation last week, her twin cousins would start crying & she would go up and tap their shoulder and say “It’s ok, no crying Levi… no crying Judah.”
  • She can fake cry & laugh on command. It’s hysterical!
  • She knows literally hundreds of words; some that really shock me at her age, and she easily adds adjectives to describe different objects. (Loud trucks!!, Green turtle, yucky bug, old milk/new milk, big sailboat!, soft blankie…)
  • She can almost count to 12 and loves when I sing the “clock song” we made up together to help learn her numbers
  • She knows all of her colors
  • Her favorite word is still “Myself!” She is very determined and I love that about her.
  • She loves to tease and give the wrong answer to a question and then say “no….!” And give the right answer. (Ex: What color is the bus Mila? “Purple? NO….!” What color is the bus Mila?” “YELLOW, Mama!”
  • She loves to sit on the counter and eat a snack and watch me cook. She loves to help and mix whatever I’m making. She always asks to help “cut it up” but knows she can’t use a knife.
  • If she is upset, you can say “Mila, no whining. No crying.” She repeats it “No whining, no crying” and composes herself. (THANKS MOM!)

Aside from words, here a few things that she’s doing…

  • She is sort of a self-proclaimed vegetarian right now. She doesn’t eat meat if she knows it’s on her plate. It has to be mixed into her food.
  • She tends to love a food, eat it to DEATH, and then not want it anymore.
  • She favorite snacks are yogurt covered raisins, teddy grahams, strawberries & bagel with cream cheese.
  • She still loves flying! We found a window seat in the airport and at a restaurant during our layover and she couldn’t take her eyes off of all the activity going on. She would get our attention when she saw a plane take off! After both of our flights, we were waiting to get off the plane and she said “No mama, again!”
  • She loves to color. She will put her paper on the floor and lay down with her face right up again the sheet of paper. She loves to color with yellow and pink highlighters. Sometimes she will mark her hands or legs by accident and she’ll say “Uh oh mama! Mila did that!”

  • She loves to play with water! The hose, the pool, fountains, the sink, the splash park, cups of ice…whatever!
  • She loves to plant! She will help grandpa & pop pop with her own little shovel or bucket and plant seeds in the ground. She is very patient and wants to help.
  • She still loves shoes. ALOT.
  • She is extremely brave. We went to a new park on vacation and she tried almost everything, climbed on everything and even wanted to go down a 20+ ft slide with me and loved it!
  • If she doesn’t like something, she usually tries it over and over until she’s SURE she doesn’t like it. I love that about her. She doesn’t write something off immediately and tries things several times before deciding.
  • She is very tenderhearted. If she is in trouble, she only needs a few seconds in time out to change her behavior. She immediately says I’m sorry and gives me a hug.
  • We have found the first movie that she loves…. FROZEN!! I downloaded it on my laptop and she knows how to start and stop it and is learning how to find her favorite part! Now maybe we can take some road trips in the car!

HERE ARE SOME PICTURES FROM OUR FAMILY VACATION AT LAKESIDE!

 

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Melissa & TJ: San Souci Farm Wedding

Photographing Melissa & TJ at San Souci Farms was nothing short of a classic, southern country wedding. I was amazed at the location and absolutely loved how all the details fell into place. Melissa got ready in a lodge that was recently built for wedding parties, the ceremony was outside overlooking hundreds of acres of land & the reception was in a gorgeous open air pavilion. I am honored to share these photographs and thankful for being a part of such a stunning day!! Congrats to the newlyweds!!!

GETTING READY

Loved Melissa’s dress so much!!

BRIDESMAIDS!

PORTRAITS WITH BRIDE & BRIDESMAIDS…

Melissa, you are stunning.

These bridesmaids has so much fun together.:)

Exchanging gifts… & no peaking!

GROOMSMEN

CEREMONY

 PORTRAITS with BRIDAL PARTY

BRIDE & GROOM

RECEPTION!

A FEW MORE PORTRAITS…

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Grand Guave, Haiti: 2014

Will be sharing stories from our trip soon, but I was anxious to get some pictures posted! We had an amazing time and are so grateful to have been able to serve with Hands and Feet Project and the Sutton and Moore families. You are an unspeakable blessing to the Haitian people.

PS. I chose to not travel with my nice equipment for this trip and I dug out my 2008 point and shoot camera. I’m pretty happy with the pictures considering. I actually could have gotten pictures with a higher resolution just using my phone! Ha! How technology has changed….

Arriving in Grand Guave & our first trip up the mountain in the army truck:

The view from E Condo (stage 2 of Hands and Feet Project for missionary housing and orphans 18+ who are learning a trade/skill and have house moms):

Working on the second branch of the building…

Happy members of our team (Top: Perry Family, Bottom: Bob & Kaye…married 55 years!)

Couldn’t get enough of this view!

Morning devotions

Some new friends at Hands & Feet…:)

Loving this AMAZING gazebo!!! (called a shacoon (sp??)

Preparing to celebrate 5 graduates from the 6th grade. A HUGE DEAL IN HAITI!!!

Women cooked all morning (at least 6 hours) before food was served

We took each other’s picture…

Boys spilling out of their dorm while they watched the World Cup

Riding up the mountain in the pick up truck with at least 15 people in the back…!

Part of E Condo

We went on a walk through of mountain trail

E Condo:

A clear view of the ocean

US!:)

Saw the inside of a local bakery:

Construction workers from E Condo & Grand Guave sites challenged each other to a soccer game!

Dinner out at Mondy’s

A beautiful sunset on one of our last nights

Last day was spent at the beach relaxing after a long week of work & serving together!

Mike preached at the English/Creole service on Sunday night and was invited back to their annual pastors conference! (someday!)

Beach day!

How stunning is this water?!

A local caught some lobsters for us when we arrived at the beach, cooked them while we swam and we ate them together by the water. They were HUGE & DELICIOUS!!!!

Point & Shoot failed at a clear picture, but here is our wonderful team!

Headed home!!

Faith (3) & Glory (2) Sutton

Ending with this last shot (before my camera died) in Port au Prince on the way to the airport…

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W E B S I T E
P I N T E R E S T
T W I T T E R
F A C E B O O K