Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010...

The warm glow of the lights and the smell of hot chocolate and bagels fill the air this morning. It was not his first Christmas, but it might as well be. 

This is the year he helped to open gifts, his face lit up with joy, and paper and boxes amuse him. This is the year we will always remember. 

My husband thoughtfully wrapped a present he knew I would enjoy. He gave me a Shootsac! Will got some black "Chuck's" and car keys that make a bunch of noise...no, I mean a bunch. And Tyler got some new Doc's. As I look around my house cluttered with gifts and memories, I think that it's over. But the best Gift isn't. The very first Gift. The most amazing Gift. The Gift that started it all.

Jesus Christ, our Gift of Salvation, that came so long ago to be born in a lowly manger, the Lamb of Christmas, the God-Man born to die, He is our Gift of gifts. He is still here and although a special Gift I accepted long ago, can still be thoroughly loved and enjoyed.

Every time I chose to speak with my blessed Saviour, or read His Love-Letter to me, I can re-open my precious gift from the very first Christmas!

Lord, help me to not lose sight of the most wonderful present ever received...Yourself.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

{Lexi} | thirteen

I had to blog this session...why? Maybe because it was one of my favorites everrr...maybe because I'm obsessed with redheads...maybe it's because this girl reminds me of myself at her age. Not the gorgeousness, mind you (I wish) but more her personality.

I had the privilege of attending {Lexi's} 13th birthday party what seems like eon's ago in August? Her mother asked if I would get a few fun photos of the girls being, well, Jr. Higher's. Anyway, being short on time and daylight, we didn't get very many good ones. Feeling terrible about the fuzziness, noise and lack of light, I offered to come back at a later time and get some more of {Lexi} on her own. Her mom readily agreed and I was ecstatic. Have you seen how gorgeous she is? Tyler, Will and I headed over to Duncanville the other night and got to spend some wonderful time with their sweet family and I got to get me some serious portfolio images :)

So without any further ado, let me post some extras of my fave pics from {Lexi's} shoot!

She was having a hard time being serious at first.

She was just way too fun.

By the end she was getting really good at the 'model' look...I mean reeeeeaaally good.

I got her to laugh for a few though :)

 Check out those uber cool green nails!

Here are a few from our fun night together with the entire fam...

There are 4 girls in this family! And boy were they lovin' on the Wilburstein and he was lovin' it :)

Will got up close and personal with a hockey game, some books and one of the girls. Ashlyn just kept saying over and over, "I can't wait to be a momma!" How sweet is that?

There are 2 boys in this family and somehow I only got a picture of one of them! Sorry Grant, please know that you are loved, over there on your Playstation. This is Garret. He loves his "church clothes" so much so that he gets his Sunday outfit ready...on Monday night. And when he finally gets to church on Sunday, he inspects the men. If he finds they've not met his expectations he asks, "Hey! Where's your tie!?"

I'm so blessed to be part of the Worth Baptist Church and to be able to worship and fellowship with some of the most amazing people. I'm so thankful for the friendship of this family. May the Lord bless them richly for all of their kindness and hospitality!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I love this kid, a year ago and today too...Remembering Will's first birthday party

Exhausted from the long day yesterday, I sit here and type out my remembrance of his day. His first birthday party. I wanted to soak it all in but instead all I could think of was if there was enough food, if everyone was enjoying themselves or if I was doing things too quickly or too slowly. Then there was the other thoughts, was my house clean enough, why didn't so and so come?

And then I think of all the good. The out of town sister-in-law that would've given her right arm to help in any way, the little man's face lighting up when he saw all of the people coming in, the best friends that DID come, Daddy in his pilgrim hat, lots of food and fun and good times with friends.

The party started at 2:00pm Saturday, the 20th of November, but the preparation started weeks before. The invitations were all handmade. Turkeys, Candy Corns, and Pilgrim Hats. A label with all of the party information was attached to the side of each invite with Raffia. The Cake was a giant cupcake! I saw this great giant cupcake pan at my mom's house when I went to visit her in October. I told her that it would be perfect for his party and she said she'd be happy to let me borrow it.

The Cupcakes were carrot cupcakes, regular size and minis with homemade white icing and topped with leaf paper punches in yellow, orange and brown.

The Treats were the cutest little Turkey Cookies that I snagged from Betty Crocker online! They'd be perfect for a Thanksgiving Day activity with older kids. My Mother-In-Law and I whipped up 39 of them in 3 hours two days before the party.

The Guests ages ranged from 2 1/2 weeks to 7 years. They played a game where they had to find "the turkey, potato and corn" (squeaky toys from Target) and they got the prize that was with it when they found it! (an Odessey cd or a Punch Balloon - who doesn't love a good punch balloon?)

All in all I think everyone had a good time. Maybe too good. Poor Will has been "getting" teeth for about 3 weeks now and it seems to have finally gotten to the worst. He hasn't slept a whole night through in 4 days. The last two nights, he has woken up 4 times! He's getting a little on the snotty side because of it and can't breathe when he lays down at night. So he drops his paci to breathe out of his mouth and then cries because he doesn't have his paci. It's. been. miserable. He woke this morning at 12am, back to sleep until 2:30, then asleep until 4am, went back to sleep and then woke up for good at 6:25am. He cried all morning and Tyler came in and said, "if you guys need to stay home from Church today it's ok."

Despite the permission to stay, we got up and started getting ready, only after 4 meltdowns and a total screamfest, we decided to forego church this morning. I tried.

We sat down in the living room and nursed him, he fell asleep. I couldn't quit looking at my little boy. My baby. My sweet little man with his red curls, all asleep in my arms. I love this kid, a year ago and today too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

saturated in eternity

I had a conversation with a teenage girl the other day that really opened my eyes up. We were discussing the matter of "cliques" and I ventured to say that maybe this group needed to reach out a bit more to others instead of always hanging out with the same people. The response came as follows:

"Well, other people have said things about us being a clique, but we [the clique] talked about that and we decided that if we like hanging out with each other then why should we hang out with anyone else? We don't want to hang out with others because we love each other so much." (this was said in a very sweet manner, not rudely or with even an ounce of attitude)

I sat there, hoping to interject a peice of wisdom that would be heeded by the young girl, and not stuffed under the seat to rot and decay where other "jewels" I have given end up.

I started out, "Well, at least you're honest...but what happens if we only 'hang out' with those that we like? We stop being a Youth Ministry and become a Youth Group. Instead of reaching out, we become so exclusive that we don't minister to anyone but ourselves. That's not really the purpose of the Youth Ministry."

I went on to reference a message Tyler had JUST PREACHED on Wednesday night about "Saturated In Eternity." He told the funny story of one of his high school teachers that took a bottle of Eternity cologne on a trip with him. When he opened his luggage at his destination, he discovered that his bottle of cologne had been crushed and the contents of the entire bottle were distributed somewhat overwhelmingly onto each and every single garment he owned! He washed and washed his clothes but nothing could rid the smell of "Eternity" from his clothing. When he came back to school the following week the kids were almost knocked over with the stench. "What is UP!?" they asked their teacher. He told them the story and ended with the line, "I can't help it guys, it seems that wherever I go, I'm just saturated in Eternity."

The main point of this story being that our lives are lived simply from point A to point B. Lasting about as long as a vapor of steam (James 4:14). But eternity lasts, well, forever and ever and ever and ever and well, you get the point. What we do in this life is but for a moment, but living for Christ is a life spent living for others and laying up treasure that lasts for an eternity.

Was I saying that it's wrong to have close friends? Special friendships with people that are encouraging and fellowship with those of a like mind? No, of course not. But I was saying that if those friends were true and real and worth having, those friends would understand if you chose to sit with a visitor on Wednesday night instead of with them. Would understand you inviting someone to your house that isn't normally on your "Saturday Night Sleep-over" list. Would understand giving a hand to a struggling fellow believer or newcomer to our church family. These are the friends that would help you to be "Saturated In Eternity" and these are the friends worth having. And if you don't have these friends, why not reach out and find some friends like that?

Encouraging this young girl to live out the sermon she had just heard on Wednesday was an exciting and yet, humbling experience. Why? Because I know that in my own life there are days and I might add, weeks where I lived 'in the moment' instead of 'in Eternity'. 

We are such selfish creatures.

From the beginning of man, to the end of time, we will either continue to live for self or decide to live "Saturated In Eternity". When I drive through Chic-Fil-A next week will I selfishly take my No.1 with extra pickle and pull off or will I take the time to hand the cashier at the window a tract with the life-saving gospel of Christ? Will I lounge on the couch and spend countless hours on Facebook and Lightroom or will I sit with my child on the floor, sing Bible songs and teach him about His sweet Creator?

What will you change? Will you pray and ask the Father to help you become "Saturated In Eternity" today?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

After The Birth, What A Family Needs...

This is an amazing article that I wish I would've had when Will was born. You can bet that I will be implementing it for my next birth. Everyone is different. Some people want company, others just want peace and quiet alone with their new baby. I was the latter of the two :) A few people kept wanting to just "pop" in on me to visit...They wanted to hold the baby, which was completely understandable, but when I was exhausted and just wanted to rest with my baby, having people over to entertain was just another tiring thing.

I found this on a friend's FB page. Went to her website, copied and pasted with her permission. Please visit her site, Gloria Lemay, Birth Blog, for more information!

After the Birth, what a family needs

Posted on October 28, 2008 by gloria

“Let me know if I can help you in any way when the baby is born.” … “Just let me know if you need a hand.” … “Anything I can do, just give me a call.”

Most pregnant women get these statements from friends and family but shy away from making requests when they are up to their ears in dirty laundry, unmade beds, dust bunnies and countertops crowded with dirty dishes. The myth of “I’m fine, I’m doing great, new motherhood is wonderful, I can cope and my husband is the Rock of Gibraltar” is pervasive in postpartum land. If you’re too shy to ask for help and make straight requests of people, I suggest sending the following list out to your friends and family. These are the things I have found to be missing in every house with a new baby. It’s actually easy and fun for outsiders to remedy these problems for the new parents but there seems to be a lot of confusion about what’s wanted and needed…

1. Buy us toilet paper, milk and beautiful whole grain bread.

2. Buy us a new garbage can with a swing top lid and 6 pairs of black cotton underpants (women’s size____).

3. Make us a big supper salad with feta cheese, black Kalamata olives, toasted almonds, organic green crispy things and a nice homemade dressing on the side. Drop it off and leave right away. Or, buy us frozen lasagna, garlic bread, a bag of salad, a big jug of juice, and maybe some cookies to have for dessert. Drop it off and leave right away.

4. Come over about 2 in the afternoon, hold the baby while I have a hot shower, put me to bed with the baby and then fold all the piles of laundry that have been dumped on the couch, beds or in the room corners. If there’s no laundry to fold yet, do some.

5. Come over at l0 a.m., make me eggs, toast and a 1/2 grapefruit. Clean my fridge and throw out everything you are in doubt about. Don’t ask me about anything; just use your best judgment.

6. Put a sign on my door saying “Dear Friends and Family, Mom and baby need extra rest right now. Please come back in 7 days but phone first. All donations of casserole dinners would be most welcome. Thank you for caring about this family.”

7. Come over in your work clothes and vacuum and dust my house and then leave quietly. It’s tiring for me to chat and have tea with visitors but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to clean, organized space.

8. Take my older kids for a really fun-filled afternoon to a park, zoo or Science World and feed them healthy food.

9. Come over and give my husband a two hour break so he can go to a coffee shop, hockey rink or some other R&R that will delight him. Fold more laundry.

10. Make me a giant pot of vegetable soup and clean the kitchen completely afterwards. Take a big garbage bag and empty every trash basket in the house and reline with fresh bags.

These are the kindnesses that new families remember and appreciate forever. It’s easy to spend money on gifts but the things that really make a difference are the services for the body and soul described above. Most of your friends and family members don’t know what they can do that won’t be an intrusion. They also can’t devote 40 hours to supporting you but they would be thrilled to devote 4 hours. If you let 10 people help you out for 4 hours, you will have the 40 hours of rested, adult support you really need with a newborn in the house. There’s magic in the little prayer “I need help.”

First Posted Aug 2001

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

When darkness creeps in...

I know, it's been a long time, too long. But I needed to take a break from the very serious, emotional subjects so that my brain would be free to roam where it needed to help me decide on what to post about next. *deep breath

And now, I delve into a subject rarely spoken about, much needed, a little embarassing...but, it shouldn't be.

We came home from the hospital and the first night was wonderful. He slept beside our bed in the little white bassinet. I could hear every breath, every groan. I could peek over and see sweet angel dreams playing smiles on his cheeks.

The next day we went to the hospital to have his bilirubin levels checked. Tyler was already back at work. My parents were still in town, so they went with me. He was so orange, people thought he must've had "my skin tone" instead of Tyler's pinkish-white hue.

As he laid in the little plastic bed and looked around the room we were in, I saw him...really saw, how tiny he was. He had lost not just the normal amount of weight, but a significant amount. I cried until I heard footsteps coming down the hall. I quickly dried my tears and listened as the nurse explained what I needed to do in the next few hours. "Cook's will be coming with lights." And I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, he'd just be beside us with the lights at night.

We got home. They set up the lights, but not in our room. They needed something heavy to rest it in. The bassinet couldn't hold them. He had to sleep in his crib. "What?" I wasn't ready for this. I held in the tears as the man showed me the equipment, knobs, switches, lights. As soon as he left, I broke down again.

I had basically been up for 5 days and nights straight now. I couldn't take much more.

The nurse had instructed that since he wasn't eating enough, due to the extreme lethargy associated with the bilirubin levels and lights, I needed to breastfeed him, then pump between feedings, wake him back up and cup feed him what I pumped. So, I was feeding him pumping, cup feeding, waiting about 30 minutes then breastfeeding him again for the next three days and two nights. Elusive Sleep evading me once again. Tyler tried to help. He stayed up the first night in the room with the lights, I would wake up every 2 hours to feed him. I stayed up the second night. Feeling so alone, crying because I couldn't sleep. Finally at about 1:30am I called my mom.

"I don't think I can do this, Mom. I feel so scared. So much responsibility, what if I don't do something right? What if he doesn't get better?" She assured me he would. She talked to me lovingly for a good while, I insisted she go back to bed, I was "sorry for bothering" her. "No bother." This was her job, she replied.

That's when it happened. That night. I had never been so scared. Responsibility, hormones, lack of sleep and vitamins, all ganged up on me at the same time. I cannot describe it any other way, than to say that I was absolutely terrified. Of the dark, of the quiet, of being alone. Everything scared me.

He got better, the lights left. He moved back into our room by Friday night. I thought I would sleep better. I didn't.

The lights would go out and the World would slumber, but I would lie awake in bed. Scared. Too scared to think, to move, to pray even. But I couldn't pinpoint what exactly, was scaring me. "Are you afraid of the dark?" Tyler would venture, "No, but I get scared, almost anxious when it gets to be nighttime." I begged him to sleep close to me. It helped. But the feeling didn't go away.

I would wake early to feed my little man, then he'd go back to sleep in my bed folded gently in my arms. And I would sleep too. We would sleep and sleep. Then wake and play for a few minutes. Then he'd sleep some more and I would rise and try to do housework. My Mother-in-law had come to help so much the first week. I was starting to sleep a little more at night as he would sleep a little more, and felt as if I could do more. So I did. To the point of exhaustion. Then I'd break down again.

It had been a month, I was still sruggling. "Shouldn't this be over by now?" The 'blues' kept haunting me. This depressive state of lonliness, dread, exhaustion and worthlessness would come and go. Not to mention the many other things I was facing physically, just like any other woman post-partum.

I was fearful of people taking Will away, fearful of taking care of him on my own. Fearful of having to talk to people, fearful of having no one to talk to. Fearful of everything. I had no reason to be afraid. I would pray, "Lord, please help me. It's so awful." And I know He heard, and He helped this lonely little child of His to lean on Him. But the dread was still there.

A few times I would even see shadows near me. This scared me more than anything. And so I didn't tell Tyler. Time went on and they stopped. I searched the internet. "Hallucinations are a common side effect of post-partum depression."

Post-Partum Depression.

I had read all about it. I had seen it dicussed in Magazines. But no one ever told me that it could happen to me. I felt ashamed. No one could find out. So I kept "my secret". Only Tyler and my best friend knew I was struggling and even they didn't know how much.

After about four months, I felt normal again. Four months is a long time to be sad. A long time to be tired and lonely and withdrawn. I finally started to talk about it to some other women in my church. I wish I had done it sooner.

Why am I writing this? I don't know. I guess that I'm hoping I can help someone else who may be struggling with something they don't know or believe is real. It's real. When the darkness creeps in, talk to someone. Tell a friend. More than anything I learned how important a daily Bible reading routine is. I needed to talk to my Saviour out loud, during the day, all day long.

I'm so thankful, that I have a Saviour Who cares for me when I'm hurting, Who listens when no one else can, Who fixes the problem and doesn't dismiss my fears. When darkness crept in, my Saviour stayed close.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This Face...

I tried. I really did try to pick a face other than this one, but he's my favorite face.
I love this kid. He has such a sweet spirit and snuggly personality. There's no face in the whole world that I would rather post than this one.

I love his pudgy cheeks...his furrowed brow...his wavy hair...his little turned up nose...his folded hands.

Thanks to the girls over at

for this great opportunity to share a photo of my fave little man...

And to Angie and Amy over at

for guest judging this week!

apeture 1.8
ISO 200

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I didn't document them enough

I think back to things we've done this summer as a family and I have several pictures. Every pictures bring a new and beautiful memory of our life together. But when I think back to the Christmas holiday last year, I have a hard time finding my memories. Life as a new mom. Snuggling with my newborn. Holding him close to smell his sweet milky breath. Why can't I find these memories? I didn't document them enough.

I have a few pictures here and there, but not many. So the other day, I made the decision, "I will learn to use the self-timer and I WILL document memories with my son." Here's my first.

Granted it's not very good, but it's something. Not for anyone else, but for me. I didn't have any make-up on. I still hadn't even gotten dressed. Yet, I will cherish this "10 month-old-mommy-and-me" photo forever. And will hopefully remember to make some more "mommy-and-me's" every once in awhile.

Tyler took these when he saw me frantically trying to work the self-timer in the backyard. (I love that guy!) :)

Get out there and get in some pics WITH your kids :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Silly little egg

He's cracking me up and breaking my heart at the same time.  
 (Please ignore the fact that he is in his diaper)

He's everywhere in no time. This morning I sat him down on his little playmat and went to check my mail, when I came back, he was standing on the opposite side of the coffee table trying to touch the couch on the other side.

His little tongue is doing funny things too.

And my favorite? He says "more, more, more" when he's eating now. No, he won't say "Dadda" on a consistent basis, but he'll say "more, more, more". Silly little egg.

I love this kid. He really is a hoot. But he's growing up so quick. I cannot stop thinking about him as a newborn lately, it must be the change of seasons. It's getting closer and closer. His birthday. At this time last year I was getting "large and in charge" but still working at the daycare. When I got home in the evening I just dropped, I was so tired.

It will be Thanksgiving before we know it, and then the memories of a long night/morning in our bathroom and hospital will haunt my thoughts. Christmas will come and I'll try to remember what last year was like. Such a blur...no sleep and a needy newborn crowded out my brain's ability to function during the holidays.

This year will be different. We'll make our own memories and hopefully, create some brand new Tyler, Tori and Will traditions.

This photo taken in front of my tree last year by my amazing, photographer friend, Elisabeth Carol. Will was a tiny, three weeks old.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I prayed for a friend

They joined the congregation when I needed her most. I had been lonely, longing for a friend after the move away from my home away from home for five years.

After graduating from Bible college in TN, my husband and I were married. We continued living in TN while Tyler worked on his Master's Degree. I worked at a Medical Billing office. Life was pretty good. Alot of our college friends still lived in town, (either married or still in dorms) so we were never short on fun times. Then we moved late August of 2007 to Texas where Tyler took the position of the Youth Minister at Worth Baptist Church. For a year, we made friendships with the teenagers and strengthened the hands of our Pastor and congregation.

But something was missing. I had left behind some very dear friends in TN, and needed someone to talk to. To laugh with. To cry with. No one fit that bill. A year passed and we heard that our Pastor would be interviewing a young man for the position of Music Director. He had a wife. I decided right away that I would do anything to make sure that we got along and prayed the Lord would help us to be friends and not have personality conflicts that I couldn't resolve. I prayed for a friend.

Turns out a month later, Pastor Weaver let us know that Andrew and Rachel would be joining the Worth Baptist Staff and that she was actually expecting a baby!

Excitement turned to the smallest bit of jealousy, I have to admit. I had been begging Tyler for the past year to let us try for a baby. He kept saying no, "we don't have the money," to which I'd reply (and everyone else at our Church) "you'll never have the money." He just wasn't ready. I was.

Rachel's baby bump grew bigger and bigger and so did my heart. We grew to be such good friends during this time. At times I would put my hand on her tummy and talk to the little girl inside, "We're going to be good friends, little one!" I meant it, because I knew it would be awhile before I had my own.

The baby came in March of '09 and as I held her in my arms at 3 days old, I fought back the tears of hope deep down inside. How sweet she was, how perfect. I wanted this.

Little did I know that while I was holding her, that God had already answered that prayer, a little boy was growing inside of me!

Since then Alayna has grown into a beautiful little 1.5 year old. And  my little Will is 9.5 months! Since he came I have gotten into photography bigtime. Rachel is now pregnant with her second little girl, Hannah! I asked her about two or three months ago if I could take some maternity photos, to which she readily answered "yes!" and I will also be photographing her birth around the first week of November!

Here are a few of my pictures of our maternity shoot this week :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

{The Rebarchiks, Tim+Lauren, Ebony} What I've been up to lately

Here's a short post showing what I've been up to in the last month...

I started with a family shoot with the Rebarchiks. We had the best time together, Nancy, her husband Frank, little girl Lily and son, Everett just had fun and acted like the hilarious little family that they are. Here are a few of my favorites!

While I was out on my shoot with the Rebarchiks, my husband and son were at my in-laws house, visiting with Lauren  (Tyler's sister) and her husband, Tim. After I got home, Lauren and I went over the details of her and her hubby's shoot that would take place on Monday afternoon.

We had a blast, and I think it showed ;) I couldn't pick just one!

And last but not least, here's what I was busy doing this weekend. Meet the lovely Ebony!

I met Ebony, while working in a daycare last year. She loves the Lord, loves kids, and fortunately, loves to smile! I was so glad when she Facebooked me and ask to set up a portrait session.

For an updated flow of sneak peaks, please check out my adele photography page on Facebook :) and 'like' it!
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