Family

*Today’s post is written by friend and frequent contributor Debra Dickey. Debra is like family to me! Thank you, Debra, for sticking by me all these years closer than a sister.*

Last evening, I had the rare and lovely opportunity to get together with my favorite great-aunt and one of my delightful cousins over dinner, combined with a wonderful two hour visit.  O????????ur conversation of course began with checking on everyone’s children, asking about their lives and their jobs, bragging over their one great-grandchild, all interspersed with comedic tales of my aunt’s recent surprise birthday card party.

We commiserated and laughed and recounted memories of times, family, and events past.  We recalled fun visits at each other’s homes, vegetable canning stories, traveling up north together with the eight of us in one car–what a hoot!–and our recollections of that summer trip.  We had an emotional conversation about two of the brothers of that generation being part of two wars, our losing one to his war, and the other coming home to live with a devastation that would plague him throughout his life.

We talked about the love that is very visible in our families, and the integrity that abounds within our heritage.  We chuckled over early reputations that came from hard-scrabble upbringings and a rough living that made those good folks as we came to know them, who they were, and how those enigmatic layers added character and such great stories to our family tree, and how truly proud we are to be a part of this renowned family lineage.

We caught up on recent news being celebrated and current situations troubling us, and we ambled back in time with ‘dating’ stories and ‘movie star’ photographs that we love.  As our thoughts understandably turned to our mutual appreciations regarding our families, time and distance just slipped away as if we were all standing at the same point in our lives if only for a moment.  Extraordinary.

Our family can create these moments.  Our family has history.  People in our family take time to share these stories that we pass around.  They remind us of the legacies that we connect with, the ancestries that we define ourselves with, and the shared roots that are the light of our heritance.  Heirlooms of kinship.

As we ended our evening, we were reluctant to go — promising to do it again soon, but not quite knowing when soon may come.

I had such a wonderful time that I could hardly fall asleep. These are people of my heart and my soul, and getting to spend time with them is a bona fide adrenaline rush!  Like all of us sharing the same skin for a while in an exquisite timepiece connection.  Beautiful.

Fun times, fun people, fun family!  All of which I always look forward to, and none of which I would trade for anything.

Day 15–Loving what I do

Sarah and Jordan Crowder of Phoopla Photography & Design

Sarah and Jordan Crowder of Phoopla Photography & Design

*Thanks to my sister Sarah Crowder for writing today’s post about how the love of her life has supported her in her journey to do what she loves for a living. Check out her photography business home page and her Facebook page, too.*

I am grateful for every single day. When he tells me all he wants is to see me happy, I know it’s true. So today like every day for the last 12 years, I am eternally grateful for a beautiful family & an amazing man whose love & support knows no bounds. Today as I celebrate the 1 year anniversary of one of the biggest, most exciting & scary steps of my life, I’m taking a moment to think of what I’m grateful for. To start, what is the definition of Gratitude? Wiki says : Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgement of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

I have a lot to be grateful for in my life but especially in this last year of new beginnings. When you’re married with two kids, your family is taking that big step, too, so I guess I should say our biggest, most exciting & scary step.

One year ago today I turned in my two-week notice to the corporate job I had held for eight years along with all the stresses & all the securities to pursue my passion for photography as a full time job! How was I able to do this & why would I do this?! Let me tell you a story about a great man – my husband. He’s not only the best father to our two girls; he’s also the most supportive husband I could ask for! His love for all us crazy girls never ceases to amaze me. 12 years ago, I was a single mom struggling to make ends meet, my daughter’s birth father was no part of her life, & I had lost my faith in men. Then I met Jordan. He loved me & most of all loved my little girl. I could go on forever about how he restored my faith in men and how he loves & accepts our daughter as his own-how biology plays no part in this family. But back to me quitting my job!

The Crowder family

The Crowder family

After dating for years & a long engagement & finally a beautiful wedding, we were blessed with a second beautiful baby girl, Lola Belle! I loved getting photos made every month of my older daughter but dreaded the beat down of the commercial photo studios. When Lola was born, for my first Mother’s Day, Jordan bought me a professional camera and told me to follow my dream to capture all the special moments we were experiencing as a family.

One of Phoopla's action shots

One of Phoopla’s action shots

Soon friends & family were requesting we take photos, cover weddings & capture their special moments! It’s been quite a ride of long nights, years of working 6/7 days a week, numerous sacrifices and he’s been by my side the whole time, assisting me supporting me & even through the tough times still cheering me on (not to mention telling me to quit the job that was killing me!).

I love my job now. No more dreaded meetings, conference calls, belittling bosses….  I don’t even like to call photography a job because it’s truly my passion! I love having more time with my family & capturing special memories for other families! Having the freedom to work from home alongside my husband is something I am grateful for every single day. When he tells me all he wants is to see me happy, I know it’s true. So today like everyday for the last 12 years I am eternally grateful for a beautiful family & an amazing man who’s love, & support knows no bounds.

Day 11–Five thankful people

*Special thanks to Mary Agrusa for writing today’s post for our “28 days of love” project. Be sure to check out her blog as well.*

 

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

Photo courtesy of Phoopla Photography & Design

Photo courtesy of Phoopla Photography & Design

Five categories of people who should give thanks to God are listed in Psalm 107. Which one(s) are you?

Verses 1-3 state that anyone who is redeemed should thank God because He is good and His love never ceases.

Verses 4-9 describe those who were lost, wandered aimlessly and had no hope. Hungry and thirsty, they cried out to God for help. He heard them, led them to safety and cared for them. They’re to thank God not only for His unfailing love, but also for supplying their needs.

Verses 10-15 refer to those in prison literally or figuratively of their own making. Their bad choices produced severe consequences. They’re instructed to give thanks because God set them free from their incarceration.

Verses 17-22 cover those who as a result of their rebellious actions suffer serious physical and psychological illness. Their lives spiraled downhill toward the grave. They cried out to God, He heard them and sent His word that healed and rescued them. They’re to give thanks to God publicly and sing songs of their deliverance.

Verses 23-32 tell of those caught in a ferocious storm. Violent winds and crashing waves tossed them about mercilessly. They cried out to God, Who with a whisper, stilled the storm and guided them to safety. They’re to thank God for His love and praise Him in the assembly of people.

Where ever you find yourself in these groups the end result is the same. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love never fails.

 

28 days of love

Photo by Phoopla Photography in Dallas, Texas

Photo by Phoopla Photography in Dallas, Texas

Starting February 1st, I’m stoked to announce that almost 27 of my favorite people will be serving as guest writers for the blog. They were asked to submit posts related to love and gratitude and to run in any direction with that topic. I can’t wait to read the variety of posts as they come pouring in, and I’m really grateful to all the writers who’ve agreed to take a stab at it and join me in this endeavor.

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I believe very strongly in focusing our minds, hearts, and eyes on what we have to be grateful for–to focus on the solutions, not the problems, and to choose gratitude over grumbling.

Love is a touchy subject for many people. Some people never feel that they’ve been loved at all, or they beat themselves up for mistakes they’ve made that have cost them relationships with people they loved. Or they have been victims of abuse by people who “loved” them.

I’m hoping that, by reading 28 different perspectives on love by people from varying walks of life, you’ll find something to relate to, some hope to hold onto, or inspiration to love others well. And ultimately, I hope that this month, you’ll come to believe that True Love has been there waiting for us all the time–we just have to open our hearts and our eyes.

So happy loving, folks!

It’s about time!

Photo by Sarah Crowder of Phoopla Photography

For the first time in four years, I’m going on vacation.

Four years is considerably too long for a person to go without taking a real break from real life for a really long time (well, at least for a week). But life happens–at least, my life happened to me, and I found myself pinching pennies, getting divorced, and working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Thankfully, when James and I moved in together, he decided that I’d spent way too long taking care of other people and working myself into a tailspin. When I searched for a job after relocating back to my hometown, he suggested that I look for something that would give me flexibility, a lower level of stress, and bring me some level of happiness.

It took me a while to climb aboard the S.S. Wallace, kick up my heels, and hold onto a tall glass of lemonade (or a nice cold beer) and let go of the ingrained notion that if I weren’t making more and more and more money, I must be doing something wrong. Choosing to make less money–by choosing a job which brought me happiness and plenty of flexibility–proved to be the right decision for me at the time. Later, when I started working part-time instead of full-time, I decided to spend the extra time going back to graduate school.

Now, having just finished my first semester of school and feeling pretty darn proud of myself for pulling excellent grades, I’m heading off to the beach with my new handsome husband to kick up my heels and grab a glass of lemonade (hold the beer. . .  I’m pregnant :).

I couldn’t be more grateful.

P.S. Please forgive the temporary lack of posts while I build sandcastles, fish right along the beach, and consume as much delicious seafood as possible.