Commit Your Way

Sometimes we begin a journey and have no idea where it is going to take us. Most of the time I think we actually may believe it’s one thing and God surprises us by leading us somewhere new…somewhere we may not have thought of.

This comes to mind as I share a session of a sweet family from our school. Did they realize when their daughter started at the school that mom and dad would both end up teaching there this year as well?

Our family has the joy of walking part of this journey with them. She’s Claire’s teacher and we love her! She is fanning the flame of loving to learn in Claire. I’ve also had the opportunity to visit in his class and his love for the students and what he’s doing is evident. And because older students are always paired with the younger students, both of our older girls have spent some time enjoying their sweet little girl.

Pensacola, children's portraits, downtown Pensacola, photography

They laugh a lot together…delighting in the family God has given them. Her with her little toothless grin just brings a smile to your face.

But what I really noticed was the way they live out God’s instruction to parents in Deuteronomy six. Loving God with all their heart, and soul, and might and teaching their daughter of who God is, His ways and character. And not just in a book learning kind of way but in that “…you shall teach them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way…” kind of way.

Pensacola, downtown, family portraits

So, I’m not sure if they had any idea where God was leading them when they first came to our school…all that He would do for them and through them. But what a lovely journey it’s been so far!

“Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him and He will act. 
Psalm 37: 3-5


Pinterest Test Kitchen # 75 ~ Snickerdoodle Caramel Apple Something

Catchy title, isn’t it?

It came about like this. I saw the recipe and pinned it of course. Then last week while I was making my grocery list I wrote down the ingredients, knowing I was changing out oatmeal raisin cookie for snickerdoodle, and then while at the store decided to swap out the regular boring caramels for the cute little round ones. The point being that I was thinking through the recipe several times.

I felt comfortable with the recipe. Felt like I understood it…like I got the essence of it.

Turns out I missed a few key parts to actually making this recipe. Like you are supposed to use the giant cookie squares but that really wouldn’t have made much difference since I only eat raisins in trail mix. But the biggie I missed was that I should have melted the caramel and drizzled it over the cooked cookie bar.

Still, I came home with an empty dish and everyone delighted in the snickerdoodle caramel apple something I made…not cake like at all but not really a bar either. (I still cut it in squares but you definitely had to eat it with a fork.)

What you’ll need:
2 packs Snickerdoodle break apart cookies
1 can apple pie filling (I used my scissors to cut the apples up into smaller pieces)
1 bag of caramel bits (These are the sole reason I was drawn to this recipe…not gonna lie.)

What you’ll do:
Take one package of break apart cookies plus three rows of the other pack and press into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
Top with the pie filling.
Break apart the remaining cookies and tear into little pieces, scattering them over the pie filling.
Sprinkle with caramel bits.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until the cookie is a golden brown and the edges are bubbly.
Allow to cool completely before cutting.

As I said, this was well received but I will probably give the original recipe another shot. You know…actually follow it. Except for the snickerdoodle cookie part. Because frankly, snickerdoodle is much more fun to say that oatmeal raisin.

cookie bar, snickerdoodle, caramel apple

His Love Endures Forever

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever; Psalm 136:1-9

It Was A Party Y’all

Psalm 30 figured prominently in Lisa and Dave’s wedding.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:11-12

It’s a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness to grant life where death once reigned…to restore and put back together that which had been broken.

And for the newly wedded couple and their friends it was literal. These people danced! And the smiles and laughter spoke of garments of praise and gladness.

They had a fantastic dj who really knew how to get the people on the dance floor. A friend out did herself in preparing the food and of course the decorations were just beautiful.

It was a celebration to remember!

I absolutely adore this photo of Lisa’s mother…so happy!

Such a beautiful couple.

DJ extraordinaire on the floor.

Yee haw!

Dancing, laughing, celebrating the good gifts of our heavenly Father…what a gorgeous night!

Test Kitchen #74 ~ Amazing Coconut Pie

I don’t know about you but I rarely get a recipe from the back of a package with the possible exception of maybe cookies.

If I am buying Bisquick it’s usually because I have already found a recipe that calls for it. Same with chocolate chips, and coconut, etc.

But then a few weeks ago I was with a delightful group of pastor’s wives and one of them mentioned the recipe on the back of the Baker’s Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut. She said it was super easy and really delicious and she was right on both counts.

Or at least I am assuming she was since I have made it twice now and have yet to even get a bite!

Amazing Coconut Pie…you mix everything together in a blender and pour it into a pie shell. A lovely creamy almost custardy pie is the result.

What you’ll need:
2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose baking mix (I used Bisquick)
4 eggs 
4 TBS butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla 
1 1/3 cup coconut
dessert, pie, coconut
What you’ll do:
Add everything into the blender except for the coconut and blend for three minutes.
Pour into a greased pie plate.
Sprinkle with coconut.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until the center of the pie is set and the top is golden brown.

Can be served warm right out of the oven or let it cool first.

dessert, pie, coconut

Friends Make Things Better

Cinnamon Reed, Pensacola Real Estate Agent Keller Williams

I was so excited when I had the opportunity to do some head shots recently for a friend of mine. First, because she is a friend and I just love her to pieces. Second, because it was a type of work I had never done before and it sounded interesting.

Social media is a live thing and static old school studio head shots just seem dated and out of place.  We bounced around ideas of what we wanted to accomplish with her session and decided that professional but more personable was the way to go. I think we more than met our goal!

It has been said that if you love what you do and do what you love you will never work a day in your life.

I think of this every time I think of Cinnamon and her work with us buying our house back in August.

Cinnamon Reed, Pensacola Real Estate Agent Keller Williams

The details! And Lawd have mercy, the paperwork! It was never ending…or so it seemed.

Cinnamon Reed, real estate agent, Keller Williams, Pensacola

But Cinnamon was never flustered by the relentless requests for more information.  She was eager and ready to search out answers to any questions we had if she didn’t already know the answer. More than that, she delighted in doing it.

The greatest part of working with Cinnamon was how genuinely happy she was for us, and how much she enjoyed helping us with the purchase of our home.

Cinnamon Reed, Pensacola Real Estate Agent Keller Williams

We couldn’t have asked for anyone better to walk us through the process of buying a home. She made a tedious task enjoyable and less overwhelming than it might otherwise have been.

Keller Williams is blessed to have her on staff and we’re blessed to call her friend.

The Color of Death

Death comes to us in many shapes and forms over our life times. Physical death awaits all of us, but smaller deaths are encountered almost every day.

The death of a dream or a particular life circumstance…death of relationships…death to our own desires and wants.

To be sure death is the last desperate measure of a defeated enemy who doesn’t know he has been defeated. It brings about pain and sadness no matter the when, the where, or the how.

As I sit writing this the full brunt of autumn color is peaking. It’s my favorite time of year with its rich, vibrant hues. I look at the beautiful reds and golds and marvel that these tones only come by way of dying as the trees shed life.

Everything we do as Christians should look vastly different than the way it is done by those who do not call Christ King. Even our deaths and we should look for the opportunity to die.

For the Christian we can face death with the same sanguine and robust tones of autumn. The jeweled colors of grace and dignity should flame bright as we die to our self each day, preferring others more than ourselves, submitting our wants and desires to His good and perfect will, and yes even as we face that final death.

Because for the Christian death, any death, is really just the beginning of a resurrection. And what dies is never better than what comes after.

Beauty From Ashes

I don’t photograph very many weddings. One, they are a lot of work. Two, they are pretty stressful because if you mess it up there is no do-over. That being said there is something fun and wonderful about being a part of that life changing event.

But never in my life have I been as moved and blessed to be a part of a wedding as I was shooting Lisa and Dave’s. From start to finish it was beautiful and humbling and so exciting to be a part of. Partly because I worked along side some incredibly talented friends who came together to create a dream of a wedding for a cherished friend and partly because in a very real way God was telling His story of redemption  and resurrection…of life coming after death…God’s way of turning mourning into joy…beauty from ashes. 
And pretty! My word was it a beautiful wedding! I don’t even know where to start. 
Wait, I take that back. I’ll start with Lisa because I have never seen a more radiant joyful bride.

Lisa’s boys walked her down the aisle and words cannot express how beautiful it was to see them delight in her happiness.

From start to finish the wedding told the Gospel story and everyone joined in singing praises.

After a hope filled homily and being pronounced husband and wife they invited everyone to stay and celebrate with them. And boy, do they know how to throw a party! I think I’ll have to share a part two post with pictures from the dance floor. 
I mentioned earlier about the talented people I worked beside during this wedding. These woman, all close dear friends with Lisa, are so very talented and shared every ounce of creativity they have to make this day stunning. From the flowers to the decor to the food it was simply beautiful.

Despite all the attention giving to details, all the extra sweet touches that made this wedding so lovely it was the atmosphere of joy that really set it apart from other weddings.
Dave and Lisa, your love for each other shines as only gold can after being through the Refiner’s fire. May you be a blessing to everyone around you as you live out a marriage that depicts living breathing grace.

Despising The Gift

It’s the third day of November and the 30 days of gratitude are upon us; that time when blog posts, facebook statuses, and tweets show up every day listing all the things someone is grateful for. There isn’t anything wrong with that in and of itself but my concern is when our words and actions don’t add up.

I’m so glad God has brought you into my life…but we live in our relationships and govern them no differently than the pagans do.

I’m so thankful for my children…but we refuse to accept the responsibility of raising them in a way that honors the One who has given them to us.

I’m so thankful I can be a stay at home mom…but we take no delight in the work we have been given and constantly complain about how hard it is.

We despise the gifts we’ve been given and the way we live reveals this despite the words of gratitude that roll so easily off our tongues, glib and smooth in their perfect Sunday school answer.

Really, I’m not anti gratitude posts and certainly think we can all benefit from taking time each day to acknowledge all the good and perfect gifts we are blessed with, big and small.

I’m just thinking that for the Christian it must be more than lip service. It must have more weight than the casual hat tip to a stranger holding open a door for us.

If we’re truly thankful for that husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend/mentor then we live out those relationships in a way that honors Him.

If we truly see children as blessing from God then we take on the sometimes exhaustive and always constant work of teaching them diligently of the One who has created them and given them life.

If we truly are grateful to be able to stay at home then we don’t squander the time we’re given each day to serve our family nor do we begrudge that work.

Of course it’s easy to talk about being ungrateful when we actually have something we should be grateful for and we aren’t. But what about when life doesn’t match our expectations? When we’re lonely, or childless, or we have a really really cruddy job. How are we thankful then?

And that is the key to genuine thankfulness. Being able to say as Paul did, “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content”. It’s when we are able to face any situation, however difficult, no matter what seems lacking, and still trust God that all is well…that we are made strong in our weakness and that we are able to do all things in Him…that we know genuine life changing gratitude.

Real thankfulness, the kind that declares the glory of our King, is adorned with contentment. So share your list of things your grateful for over the next thirty days. But let your living match up to those words so that you aren’t despising the same gifts you say your grateful for.