Anticipating Joy

At the close of February, I want to share two of my favorite love birds with the world: My brother and sister-in-love (as we so affectionately call one another) are having a baby in just a month’s time!! I am so excited to finally become an auntie! And as an added bonus, I was happy to have an excuse to take some maternity photos with them as I’m wanting to grow in portraiture.

These two were incredibly easy and fun to take pictures with – not only because they are so photogenic (personally I think they’re a gorgeous couple – and I’m not biased…!) but they also have a lot of experience with taking photos themselves.  Thankfully, they were willing to go along with my experimentations! You can check out my sister-in-love’s beautiful work as Heartflip Photography here.

I am delighted to share these pictures – and look forward to experiencing the joy of meeting my new baby n…

Two more weeks till the baby’s due date: surprises to come!

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Meet Paul and Elisabeth

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Meet my brother, Paul.

He’s suave. He’s débonnaire. He’s a great actor – really he’s just a big goofball with a big heart.

He has Down’s Syndrome. Which to many would mean a ‘less than’ normal kind of life, but to me it’s always been ‘greater than’ normal -

the extra chromosome adds an extra dose of sweetness, character, joy, cuddliness and lots of extra laughter…

There’s a lot that I could say about how great Paul is – but I guess I’ll just say that I couldn’t imagine a life without him and being home is affording me a lot of extra time around him which I am enjoying so much!

Last Spring I had the chance to take photos before he and his girlfriend (no joke) went out for their Prom night. These two are a.d.o.r.a.b.l.e.n.e.s.s. personified. They call each other ‘babe’ and ‘hon’ … and I get to see Paul’s caring, gentlemanly side…

Elisabeth, on the other hand, is ALL girl. She loves getting dressed up and doting around in her fancy clothes – all the while, she’s all smiles. She loves being adored and being told that she’s beautiful (like every girl I know…) and laughs at all of Paul’s jokes…

These photos give just a little glimpse into their crazy fun personalities! 

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Just a couple nights ago, I had the chance to attend their 5 year anniversary Rotary Club banquet. Paul and Elisabeth, along with 40 some young adults with varying disabilities meet together and volunteer for different community needs projects. I absolutely love the concept that they’ve created: while often these people are viewed as the ones needing the help, this organization believes that they also have something to offer and give to others. Just like the rest of us… we all want to meaningfully contribute to the world around us. 

And being around these kids for just one night will prove that they have more than enough to give - their joy and laughter is contagious… you can’t help but laugh along, and maybe shed a few tears of joy too… everything becomes stinking hilarious to them… I love that they don’t take life too seriously!

There was a talent show as part of the banquet’s entertainment… and Paul and Elisabeth did a duet together – singing ‘Let it Go’ from the movie Frozen! HEARTWRENCHING!! They stole the show that night!

But I think another highlight that I will always remember is the ‘Best DJ of the Year’ Award that went to a young man in a wheelchair who loves to tell jokes and make everyone laugh… I’m not sure what his condition is, but obviously he can’t dance when he goes to the Prom nights. Instead, he’s DJing the music and keeping the party going… It’s so beautiful to see someone like him turning his limitations around, and instead of pouting around about not being able to dance, he goes and does something else with all of his heart! It’s such an inspiration… and this is something that I think a lot of us could learn how to do better…

I love these two and they bring a lot of extra delight to life.

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a magical exploration through the Veluwe heide

Over the last 10+ years I’ve done a crappy job of sharing my photos with the world. I’ve always loved taking pictures… I can’t even remember when I started… I have vague memories of experimenting with my Dad’s SLR when I was just a girl. I’ve gone through the full gamut of cameras over the years: starting with analog and slowly moving up to a fancy Canon 5D. But my organizational skills (or lack thereof) and my disdain of spending hours behind my computer have caused me to have a major #photographersfail when it comes to doing the dirty post-production work of editing, posting photos to the web and all the other little details that come with actually making something of my photography.

I’m determined that 2015 is going to change that.

I’m going to start posting my photos – at least once a week. I want the world to see the way I’ve seen the world through all the travels and mini-photo-adventures with friends… I hope this will become something much more in the coming months – I’ve been given too much over the years to not do something with these photos and resources at my disposal… Although I much prefer snapping away at beauty and capturing the moment – I’m excited to see what the discipline of order and the diligent effort of sharing my photos will bring down the road.

Thus, I begin with this post:

We had a glorious fall in Holland… After predictably short summers, we usually brace ourselves for the rain and cloudy days but this last year was an unexpected gift: unusually warm and sunny weather… On one of these days, my dear friend/fellow-nature-lover/explorer and I decided to go on a bike ride through Holland’s national forest the Hoge Veluwe. I don’t even know how to translate this into English, as I’ve never seen anything like this before in the States: the Heide was in full bloom. In late August/early September, the generally brownish shrub turns a brilliant purple color. It’s incredible. Suddenly, Holland’s rather neutral sand-soiled landscape is transformed into a magical fairytale land, as if we’ve entered another world far far away…

Sonja and I decided to make the most of it and did a photoshoot throughout the magical-purple-land… Hence the stair-off-into-the-distance-poses and… believe it or not, we’re not typically supermodels… but we did have some fun pretending…

(please forgive me for my poor and unoriginal copyright/watermark… I hope to develop this more in the weeks to come…I just don’t want internet thieves to steal my work in the meantime – and a thank you goes out to Sonja for being silly with me and your excellent assistance in taking some great shots! )

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Top 40 moments//memories of 2014 as taken from my iphone

Confessional: I think I reached an all time low a couple nights ago (and I’m only halfway joking…) I’ve been back in America for a little over a month, and as an excuse for being incredibly behind on American pop culture, I spent a couple hours watching Taylor Swift music videos because she’s been referenced so much since I’ve been back… Before two nights ago, I couldn’t have told you if I had ever heard any of her songs before… ! Ack…who am I becoming?!!! I decided to do something more productive with my time, thus this post: A sort of year-in-review not as seen on Facebook, but (mostly) through my iphone4 camera (still going strong!). My trusty phone has been with me almost everywhere, in the everyday moments of life, so I felt like it was a more telling reflection of my year.
Ok, but in all seriousness – the last month has been rather slow paced for me but I’m slowly getting my strength back – And after looking back on my photos from this year, now I know why I needed this: My year has been crazy. C.R.A.Z.Y.
I moved countries – twice. It’s been a year of tumultuous change, movement, and heartache. While I’ve traveled to some pretty amazing places this year – I also cried like crazy on multiple occasions. Life has taken turns that I didn’t expect. Expectations – hopes – dreams, have all been let down – crushed – and let go of… As I sorted through my photos from this last year, I chose a lot of moments where I remembered beauty instead of grief. But often, the two are intimately tied together: In fact, it was the beauty – from nature, music, art, and meaningful connection to God and other people that brought healing in the midst of my grief.
While my life might seem pretty adventurous (and I won’t deny that!) it’s also been filled with disappointment too. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m incredibly grateful for all that 2014 has brought and looking over these photos reminded me of all the incredibly good gifts from a good Father.
These photos are not necessarily the most beautiful – many are unedited and while some were instagram posts this last year – many have  never been seen. While a lot of these photos don’t include people, I could have included so, so many photos of different people who touched my life in some way over this year. I was met by such incredible kindness and grace along the way – 2014 also brought many new friendships and kindred spirits along my path and I look forward to see where these connections and experiences take me next in 2015! Happy New Year World!
Note: As you scroll down, pause over a picture to read a little note about each photo.

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to the women in India

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To all the women who carry bricks forming homes, to all who sweep streets clean
To you who carry trash away, and to you whose hands role chapati day by day.

To all the women who bore a child, to those whom their fathers walked away
To you who mother the orphans, and to you who carry the load of your family.

To all the women who teach children of tomorrow, to all who doctor the sick.
To you who risk picking trash at rail tracks, and to you who lay concrete roads.

To all the women exploited and treated as trash, to all who were sold for cash
To you who become politicians, and to you who take loans to be business owners.

You were created wonderfully, extravagantly, so beautiful you are.
Your flowing Saris reflect the color of your great worth.

To all who feel weak, you are strong.
To all who are forgotten, you are seen.
To all who are scared, your courage inspires.

To all who are dark, you are so lovely.

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