Colten {Senior 2011}

It was an amazingly warm and sunny day for Autumn when I met with this 2011 highschool senior, Colten! His mom and brother came along for the fun as we wandered the grounds of High Hill Ranch in Apple Hill, and later drove to an old road up in the mountains! Colten is a very steady, calm guy who was great to work with! His passion in life involves mountains and snow... and a very cool snowboard! :) Jodi, Colten's mom asked me to grab a few shots of Colten and his little brother, so we had some fun taking pictures of both boys here and there throughout Colten's senior shoot. It was a beautiful day for taking pictures!

Not Your Ordinary Rollercoaster

The wind is rushing past, bringing involuntary tears to the corner of my eyes; I strive to hold my body core strong yet relaxed with the swift jerking of my body as we race over the track, bending this way, then that. The sounds of laughter are mixed with high pitched adrenaline filled screams. The pull of gravity is strong as we twist upside down, the weight of my body pushing my shoulders into the harness that is the only barrier between me and 60 feet of air and cement below. The pace slows as we reach a straightaway, my brain reminds my lungs to take another breath as I take a moment to pause and look around my surroundings. The moment I begin to relax and focus my attention on the world below, my body whiplashes as the speed jumps again to new highs; all my thoughts now concentrate on where I am and where I am headed. I strain my eyes to look at something other than the track we are eating up faster than I can blink, but everything is a blur. I release one of my hand's death grip off the harness, reaching out to grab the hand next to me, grateful that someone is beside me, that there is one thing that isn't blurring to oblivion; I look back and see the rows behind me filled with faces of friends and family, the ones I love, as we all race along the track at the same breakneck pace. In the face of a seemingly insane situation, my heart is pounding and yet I have peace. I know that the track will bring me safely home, that there is someone behind the controls, with numerous safety measures in place to keep everyone safe, and that there are many who have gone before me.

The difference between this ride and the one at Six Flags is the Maker of the ride, the Master of design; He fashioned my harness, my lifeline, by hand. He even fashioned me. He has His hands on the controls at all times, determining the speed at which we hurtle down the track. I know that NOTHING. not a single little bolt, screw, harness latch, or piece of track is out of place without His knowledge. The faith I have in the Maker is what keeps me from tearing my hair out when those blood curdling twists and turns show up on the track... the faith that I KNOW. that I know, that I know, that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) I take confidence that God will not allow hurt, pain, or chaos to come to my life without a purpose, because even the very hairs of my head are all numbered. I will fear not therefore: I am of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)

Lately my life has been on the twisty, crazy upside down part of the track... and it has been a challenge to keep calm and carry on in the midst of tummy flipping twists! My hair is mostly all still here, as I am pushed ever closer to lean on the one unshakable relationship I have. I am blessed with so many friends and family who are riding with me, but the only One who is completely steady and able to keep my heart is my Savior, the Maker of the ride. Sometimes when the ride gets bumpy and sways from side to side, all of us who are riding get jostled together and instead of leaning on each other, we gripe and whine about the bruises. But when I live for my Lord, instead of others it enables me to love those around me with a better, truer love. I know there are those who are on other parts of the track who don't have the support and friendship I am blessed with, which makes it poignantly clear to me how blessed I am to have the husband, children, mom, dad, brothers, sisters, and countless friends I am so wealthy with. And gives me a heart of compassion for others who do not have the love surrounding them as I do.

When I took my sister to Tennessee on a photography business trip as "one last hoorah" together before her wedding and she got bit by a poisonous Brown Recluse spider and reacted very severely, I saw God's divine providence over us so very clearly by providing swift and successful natural treatment through many medical people in our path... we even managed to have a week long family vacation in Yosemite, followed by her wedding, only 19 days after being bit - she walked down that isle as radiant as she could be, with a wound smaller than a dime that was almost completely healed!
The morning after my sister's wedding we received a call that my sweet sister in law had gone into labor during the night, and my precious little nephew, Landon Scott, had been born almost full term but with complications. The next few days were another blurring twist on the tracks as we embraced God's infinite design of little Landon, who had Trisomy 18. We sang praises to the Lord of all creation as Landon left this earth for a better place. He ran his stint on the track and beat us to the finish. I can't wait to see him again someday!

Each time as another twist or surge in speed whipped my body as I raced through the last of August, all of September, and even most of October, I was amazed at how each and every moment God had perfectly timed. Every single time another major life change came, or the small things like kids with colds/puking/fevers, each of these was timed so perfectly that I knew He was giving me grace to pass through it. He only gave me what I could handle each day... if I leaned on Him, and the grace He gives freely.

I hope as I continue on life's twisting turns and miles of track that I will not ever forget this season, the joy mixed with heartache, hope, and a peace that truly surpasses all understanding.


The Voss Family {50 years of blessing}

They've been planning this for over a year, the Voss Family Reunion & 50 Year Anniversary Celebration... it takes that long to plan the logistics when you are a big family that's all grown up, (I know, I am from one that's still young)! With 7 children, 6 still living, the Voss family has had it's ups and downs they say, but through it all they have chosen to remain committed, steadfast, and accepting of one another with love. Jim and Rita, the patriarchs celebrating 50 years of marriage, have such an amazing testimony of their love for the Lord and dedication to one another that spoke loud and clear to me, even though we had never met in person until the session! I was SO blessed. Beyond blessed. Blown away blessed in meeting this family, to witness their love and acceptance for one another, to hear how the parents' personal witness has impacted their now adult children and even grandchildren.

Tuesday afternoon the whole troop and I met up at Larson's Apple Barn Picnic Area for some family portraits. I have to confess I was a little nervous at the thought of photographing such a large group, having any never met them before and asked for prayer from a few close friends... but my nerves were unfounded and all the prayers were answered! The two hour session just flew by, filled with laughter, smiles, and lots of fun family interactions... concluding with an all out water balloon fight between all the cousins!

Thank you, Jim and Rita, for your example to those of us coming behind you on life's journey of what true love looks like, even in hard times. You show us that love is not always easy, but the blessing of choosing to love even in difficult times it is worth it! I can't wait to share the pictures of your special 50 year vow renewal celebration!!