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Christmas surprises – Barron Family

again, what a privilege to be a part of this family’s journey…if you don’t know the full story, you can find it a few posts below…

these precious quilts were pieced together by a few friends of melissa’s, all quilted by aby dolinger, and crossed the ocean twice to get to this day…the quilts were pieced using bill’s shirts along with other materials.  mel gathered those friends that were a part so that they could see the finished product and pray over them…that when each child and melissa were wrapped up in their quilts, they would find comfort, warmth, and security…and so much more…something you can’t really put words to…

a christmas eve surprise for her kids…to be able to sleep under these quilts and wake up cozy on christmas morning…

katie wendt pieced will’s quilt…

amy franklin pieced the girls’ quilts…

megan’s quilt…

lexi’s quilt…

aby dolinger both pieced and quilted melissa’s quilt…

this afternoon was absolutely incredible.  revealing the quilts to these ladies that helped shape them.  praying for each one that would use them…and then wrapping them up.  aby dolinger is currently stationed in germany, so these quilts really did have to cross the ocean twice…what amazing work.  i also wanted you to see the detail, not only in the material, but the quilting itself.  go back and look closely.  will’s quilt had stars, megan’s quilt had leaves and hearts stitched all over it, and lexi’s had leaves and flowers…i just couldn’t get over the detailing…

which got me thinking about how our God also cares about the details in our lives, that He cares that there would be something tangible for mel and her kids to hold on to that belonged to bill…it’s just so amazing to me that it matters to Him…

amy, katie, and aby…thank you for using your gifts freely, for giving generously.  you’ll never know the depths to which these quilts speak…i’m not really sure any of us will…you’ve been a true encouragement to my heart…

melissa, will, megan, and lexi…as you wrap up in these quilts, may they be a constant reminder of the love your dad and husband had for you.  he will always be with you.  i’m so proud of you all…continue to run with perseverance the race marked out for you…always pressing forward.  i’m truly honored to call you friends…and thankful for the gift you’ve given me in capturing these moments…

 

 

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Christmas surprises – Laltoo Girls!

the beautiful laltoo girls!!  christmas gift for mom…

timing is everything, and getting these four girls together was no small feat!  but…we pulled it off, huh, girls?  we were practically giddy at the idea that these girls could give mom a canvas print for christmas…especially since they’ll really be all over the place after this year…

laura, i can’t begin to tell you how much you mean to our family…and what a beautiful job you’ve done raising these girls.  i can hear you now…”there i go, by the grace of God…” – and to Him be all the glory!  thank you for being such a great source of encouragement as i’ve seen you walk some tough roads.  i’ve also seen you come out on the other side…how sweet it is!  your girls really are a testament to you just keeping on…living each day, one at a time…

so…merry, merry christmas, “laltoo girls”…and much love!!

Wilkins Family

the wilkins family!!  another family to prove that the cold weather could not get the better of us!!  SO much fun running around with these folks…

ok, and i’m sensing a theme now.  gorgeous people all in the same family with twins as the youngest (see my last post!)….hmmm…yeah, definitely a theme.  LOVE IT!!!

so rachel (aka, the mom!), pat (dad), and their beautiful people just moved to our area this summer…and we found out we were actually at ft. benning at the same time, too…man, i just love the military.  it’s a long story, but really just know that if you hear rachel or i say “NBF” it’s our new acronym.  (New Best Friend!)  you know the military…acronyms flying all over the place!  and what girl doesn’t need a NBF when you move to a new area??  of course, i did warn her that she may be sorry in the end.  lol.  seriously…now she’s got a friend she won’t be able to get rid of…

so…my NBF said it had been lots of  years since family pictures were taken, and we were out to achieve just that.  family pics in mostly black & white, which seemed to fit the winter mood.  hats, scarves, gloves… whatever kept us warm.  oh yes, old man winter is upon us, but, of course, that didn’t stop us from a great afternoon together.  just needed to jump more, run more, and move quickly!  and that’s exactly what we did…

thanks so much, wilkins family!  it was so fun to meet my NBF’s family!  y’all were totally great.  the hot cocoa was extremely helpful in the end, too.  i look forward to lots more time getting to know you…

Roehl Family

the beautiful roehl family!!  on an OH so chilly day…i did ask for seasons, but as i see the fall finally giving way to winter, i’ve been reminded to be careful what i ask for…but, that, i suppose, is conversation for a whole different day…loved every minute!!

so, seriously, could you ask for more gorgeous people all in the same family??  it really made this afternoon so easy.  i mean, how could i go wrong with all of the beauty?? and really, what a beautifully blended family this is.  from leah & jr all the way down to the kiddos…little twins, sophie and cj, with their pink noses…with big sister, randi (aka “little bit” during our shoot!)…and even bigger brother and sister, tyler and kaiti who were such the good sports.  Serious rock stars in my book!

and, to top it off, they are out on this beautiful piece of country with lots and lots of land and have a great old farmhouse that’s been renovated …ahhh!!!  LOVED it!!!  just a really gorgeous setting to spend any amount of time…

leah & jr, amazing home and family…what a great day!  thanks so much for having us.  what a privilege getting to know you all.  leah, they’re officially family pictures because you’re in them!!

Mayers Family

the mayers…who NEVER STOP MOVING!!  notice who the leader of the pack is?  yep, you guessed it – DAD!  with the baby, even!!  very, very fun chasing kiddos (and chris!) and attempting to get them all in front of the camera at the same time…

the way things REALLY are 90% of the time…

…and what we’d like you to believe!

when i think of the mayers, i really do think of a family that is always on the move.  vibrant.  full of life.  laughter.  and really a blast to be around.  so it made this afternoon so, SO much fun…

as soon as we got to this great “untouched” part of post, emma immediately starts running.  RUNNING.  and she’s shouting “i want to see the water!!!”  apparently she’s done this a time or two.  and so we were off!  chasing emma.  or adam – because he would suddenly disappear. or chris…with luke in tow!  and i know that this will be the whole time…oh, how i love a challenge!!

and not only do i love that this family is always moving, they love on eachother all the time.  in the silliest of ways, too…you know?  like adam pretending that he’ll send emma reeling down into the water WAY below…and as soon as you want to blame adam, there’s emma, throwing something or other at him – LOVE IT!  feel the sibling love!!  and then there’s the baby…AHHHHHH – sweet little luke!!  i could practically put him in my purse and take him home!  it was so neat to see his brother and sister just really love on him, too…

chris & betty, your family is amazing and so beautiful.  i cannot tell you how much y’all mean to me…

i do pray for you all as you prepare to be on the move yet again…lots of peace and rest, smooth transition…and most of all, i’m praying there would continue to be lots of laughter in your home.  so find yourself another starbucks at fort drum…i’m sure you’ll need another ‘home away from home’…

much love from all us kosas!

 

the Barrons

so i would love to say that i always have the right words for each story i’d like to tell…but i’ll be honest with you…i’m at a loss.  and so i’m praying that jesus would be more, and i would be less.  that you would see what He does…healing hearts one day at a time…the barron family…

 

 

many of you know we’re a military family.  what that means really is that we have friends everywhere…always.  the barron family fits right in there.  we’ve known them for what seems like forever.  melissa and i were really sisters from the start.  i’ve always said that…and so, when bill, her husband, got sick about a year and a half ago, not even a year after retirement, it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that he was dying.  truly.  we had moved to georgia the year before, so not being able to see or hug or even seem to comfort mel and her sweet children in any way was very hard for me…

but…this story is not about me…

it’s about the barrons.  and their courage.  and pain.  and heartache.

and even more than that, this is a story of redemption.  about jesus and all He is to this family.  He is the one who has seen this family through bill’s cancer, his chemotherapy, his struggle to live, and, eventually, his freedom from this earthly battle.  bill knows jesus.  and so he’s living with him now.  knowing that is huge…and yet…

this sweet, broken family now has to continue to live here…without bill.  with a piece of them missing.  they will have to wait to see their husband and dad again.  and therein lies the struggle…

mel has said so many times “why was I left?!  i want to go too!” through many tears…

i really got that this past weekend.  melissa and i were roommates at a pwoc conference with one of her best friends, kris.  as it happened, the program from bill’s memorial fell from kris’ bible.  it was the first time i had seen it.  after i read it, i said to mel, “i’m jealous.”  and i meant it.  i would never presume to understand what melissa and her children are going through…but i do know this.  bill is waiting for them.  and they want to be there, too…but they have to live here now.

mel could have chosen a very different path to walk.  she could have been angry and resentful and bitter.  but, as we were reminded this weekend, we’ve been entrusted to keep living.  entrusted with our children.  and with our neighbors.  and friends.

and so, mel, i pray that you would continue to live life with your eyes wide open.  not sleeping through the hard places.  because the hard places are sacred.  that you would keep moving forward, only glancing back to see how far you’ve come.  i feel like that is what these pictures are all about.  a forward-moving God…reflections of “a new thing…” – even if you can’t see it yet, you choose to believe it anyway…

barron kids…thanks for your patience with me…i love you all.  will, the ever-analytical one…wondering just what i’d do with these photos once i got them home and into photoshop.  megan, you are beautiful, beautiful…know that jesus made you that way.  and lexi – oh lexi, your sweet spirit was a comfort even to me…

thank you again, mel, for the privilege of sharing your story…and capturing these moments…you are loved…

 

 

 

 

 

Alex & Dave

starting the week with such a great couple…the emersons!  alex & dave were such fun to hang out with for another perfect autumn afternoon in northern virginia…

 

i am, admittedly, a huge fan of black & whites.  they often just capture moments that would otherwise be lost because of the color.  but i have to say for this particular session, i had a hard time turning anything to b&w because the colors of this season were so amazing…i could hardly stand it!

to top it off, i got to spend this afternoon with dave and alex.  i’ve known alex since she was 10, but had never met her husband, dave.  i don’t even know where to begin with dave…at first i kept hearing this tiny little “cheese” every time i started to shoot.  then alex and i realized it was coming from between his teeth!!  SO funny.  and alex…she loves, loves to take lots of pictures herself, so was full of great ideas.  we literally chased the sun down til the very last rays, not wanting to waste a single moment…

i have to say that i still wish i would’ve brought my camera into wingstop…where we had to eat because we were all starving in the end.  and dave…well, he was the best sport ever.  even said that he’d do it again…and alex wouldn’t have to drag him this time!

thank you for the sweet memories, emersons!  i already look forward to doing it again…

Wilkinson Family

the wilkinson family!  what an adventure we had!!

ok, it was just so much fun getting to hang out with the wilkinson family again on this perfect autumn afternoon.  they are always up for adventure, and this day was no different.  they own this great property with gorgeous trees everywhere – who could ask for a better setting?  although we did venture out just down the road to this old civil war battlefield/barn…so much FUN!  the keeper/historian even paid us a visit to make sure we weren’t “tomb raiders” of sorts.  i’m just glad they let us stay…

thanks so much, wilkinsons, for a great afternoon!  (and sharing your muck boots!!)  i love your family, love the part of the country you get to live in, and just love any excuse to see your sweet faces.  always hospitable, generous, and incredibly kind.  such a beautiful family that loves jesus and each other…you just can’t help it…makes me always wanting more time with you every time i leave your house.  here’s to lots more years of friendship and adventure!

Villiers Family

introducing the villiers family!

 

being a military family makes the rest of our military families, well…our “family”…for sure!!  and that’s the way i really feel about this precious family.  amanda has held down the fort this last year as stan, her warrior husband, was away…and now that he’s safely home they can finally do those ‘normal’ things…like pictures!  i had such a great time getting to see stan and amanda just love on eachother and their family.  i’m so very thankful for each soldier that is able to be reunited with his family…i can’t even begin to tell you…

and the girls…how they really adore their daddy…oh, it was just so, so sweet.  and their personalities really rose to the surface during this shoot, too…it was just so fun to watch.  christina…much more deliberate…from silly and crazy to just wanting to be DONE  🙂  and little hannah…so go with the flow…truly the baby in the family…you were so great, girls!

thank you again, villiers, for your service and sacrifice…you’ll all heros in my book!

Corn!

i have to say that i love the season in life we’re in right now.  not that i haven’t loved other seasons, but some are just easier and more fun to live in…you know?  don’t get me wrong, every season definitely has its challenges, but there is something sweet right now about our family being able to take off and have a fun afternoon just enjoying a gorgeous fall day together.  everyone’s old enough to go find a bathroom and use it all by themselves…but they’re not entirely independent yet.  so…we gathered a few friends and neighbors and headed on a favorite family tradition…CORN MAZE!

as we ventured out to this corn maze that we go to every year, i realized once again that photography is so, SO all about the light.  i mean, i know it’s about the light…but then to see the same corn change within the hour because the light keeps changing is so amazing.  you can just see the progression.  when we arrived, the sun was still strong, making the corn this yellow and green color…then this softer, more orange light lit it up.  as we entered the maze at dusk in a different field, the corn was almost cold…you could see it and feel it.  but it was still just so beautiful.  i totally COULD NOT GET ENOUGH!!  loved every minute…and it really reminded me (yet again!) of the different seasons in life…full circle, huh?

i LOVE that tyler isn’t too big to play!!

apparently, our grown men aren’t too big to play either!!  LOVE it!

so evidently there was a drought this year, as the corn was not any taller than i stood.  but, as you might be able to tell from the pictures, the dads weren’t about to waste a good trip.  not about to let a little corn deter them from family fun, they succeeded in getting us lost in the maze!  (of course, knowing where they were the whole time!)  after we got out, there was a fire we enjoyed to ward off the chilly autumn air.  their little country store was also so sweet…even if they were out of pumpkin fudge!  such a great way to end an evening.  well, that and mcdonalds on the way home…kettle corn is yummy, but doesn’t make for much of a dinner…

…keep embracing this season!!