Autumn Stories, the Harris Family || Franklin, TN Family Photography

It amazes me how much can change in one short year, kids grow taller, moms and dads wiser, and sometimes there are some surprises along the way too. The Harris family was back this fall for a new photo session, but this year they came to me no longer a family of four, but of five! Always great fun to shoot, they were the perfect subjects against a gorgeous autumn day in the south. Thank you Jen and Regan for continuing to share your smiles and growing family with me!

 

 

 

 

Priorities of Life || My Story With Pictures

I have priority issues. My should-be’s are piling up by the minute, and while I should be making that growing stack of responsibility top priority, I instead have been outside. Walking around our yard, with a camera around my neck, a burden in my chest, and eyes focused upward in determined resolve to find some life. I am not so different than the worn and battered leaves of gold my lens captures, for this morning we are both clinging to life as we know it. Clinging to things that are dying away, trying with all our might to hang on just a little longer. As the breeze picks up and carries with it a new batch of falling amber, I think about those leaves forced from their branch by the wind of season’s change. And then in the following calm and quiet when breezes have subsided, one small leaf drops simply to the ground below. No wind ripping it from its perch, no rain beating it into submission, but almost as if that one leaf knew it was time to surrender the fight and fall to the soft grass awaiting its arrival. And there standing under branches and duress from this pilgrimage, I have to wonder, am I willing to be that one small leaf? Am I ready to let go and fall, trusting, the grass will give and support my weight? Or do I want to dig my nails into this branch and fight the season, only to inevitably be plucked away by a gust of change brewing just down the road?

So yes, while I should be bleaching bathrooms, stripping bed linens, or eating breakfast before it turns time for dinner, I simply cannot. Not today. Not for this moment. My priorities have issues. The laundry and lunch must wait as right now my priority is life.

 

 

Derailed || My Story With Pictures

Some battles are birthed out of the slightest of strayed steps. Derailment doesn’t often wave a flag announcing its swift approach. You could be moving along at a decent pace, and in a breath be airborne, wheels having left tracks, bracing for inevitable impact. A few weeks ago, we had a Sunday morning at our house scattered with those wayward feet; a snooze button pressed just once more, a duel of wills over a child’s breakfast, a gas tank left on “E” and without warning or purpose it all began to unravel. Frazzled and late, we pushed and huffed and stomped out the door to church. Yes, church. That particular day we had to drive two cars as one of us was committed to serve during second service, so he in the vehicle on fumes and me in with the now sniffling, post-tantrum child, threw gears in reverse away from home, fully aware of the shaky, uneven tracks beneath us.

It is a 17-minute drive from our driveway to church parking lot, and it is safe to say I was stewing over the morning’s events for 15.5 of those minutes. Knowing all the while, the path to peace, the way back onto steady track, lay within my own hands. Hands that at the moment were clenched tight and tense around the driver’s wheel, as if straining to steer much more than the SUV I navigated. Hands that could so quickly pull away from another’s, in a fit of self-righteous animosity. As thoughts flurried about my mind, ‘How did we get here?’ ‘This is not how today was meant to go,’ the simple question arose from the mess.

“Do I want to be happy, or do I want to be right?”

Sigh. My grip loosens ever so.

If one were to look back over my life, my marriage, would the landscape be littered with the debris of derailment after derailment all in the name of being right, being heard, being without fault? Years and countless train wrecks later, it is on this Sunday morning, this 17-minute drive, I have a choice to make. Brace for impact, and choose to brood and blame my husband, my kids for this latest less than perfect. Or release those tightened fists and allow my pride to fall through open fingers, choosing instead joy. Seeing it in type, the choice isn’t even really a choice, but we all know the living, breathing story is hardly ever that clear.  Why is that? How is this even a struggle to decide – bitterness or happiness? When has choosing to be right ever made me happier? How much laughter has indignation ushered unto my lips? Where is joy when the path chosen is wide enough only for one and the bitter I carry with me?

“Do I want to be happy, or do I want to be right?”

The church in view around the bend, my decision settles. Still tardy for service, we unload and little legs scurry to keep my pace. I don’t say much to their sweet faces, but the few words of forgiveness we exchange are enough as we jog across the asphalt to the open doors of the church. I know by way of the tender eyes and loving grip around my arm, they have already forgotten, their hearts too small yet to hang onto the ugly. Having stopped in route to remedy the empty gas tank, the final passenger to our train rushes in behind as the kids are checking into their classes. “I’ll take them,” he offers. “You go find us seats.” No time to tell him of the 17-minutes or of my choice.

An usher leads me to two seats up front, and as I settle in, I close my eyes. I whisper prayer. Again, I choose. He slips in from the aisle next to me and exhales, having survived the last 45-minutes of rocky terrain. And as derailments are born from the smallest of missteps; it is the simplest of gestures that can steer us back to safety. This day, I chose joy. I slipped my arm through his and felt pride fall to the floor below. We exchanged looks and a sentence, and again it is enough. Bitterness and resentment denied in place of humility and submission to each other. And by choosing joy, joy is found.

We went on to enjoy one of the most beautiful days our family has ever shared. The impact of a simple acknowledgement, apology or act of surrender hit me that afternoon as we watched the kids run and play at our favorite picnic spot. From my place on a quilt in the middle of giggles and conversation with my love, I saw clearly how the day could have gone if history had repeated itself and joy was left out in the cold while being “right” became the path chosen. This moment, this gift of a day would have never been written, and happiness would have been passed over once more. But isn’t every day the opportunity to choose? Isn’t every situation, circumstance, trial, a chance for us to make the change and the choice for joy, or the choice to allow the wheels to fall off? I can’t say there are no more derailments in my path, but I can’t help but think the effect of joy chosen strengthens the very tracks beneath us, lowering risk for catastrophe, and motivating us to get on rolling.

Senior Stories class of 2012, Kasey Lynn

Hi there! I have been absent around here for a spell as the pace of the season has kicked in for sure. I wanted to make sure to share some of my favorite images from one of my favorite sessions ever. Kasey, a high school senior in Forsyth County Georgia is without a doubt one of the strongest, well-grounded, and most beautiful people I know. We had an incredibly fun time with her Senior Session, and the afternoon spent amid the mosquitoes, Nancy Drew and horse stables will forever be a sweet experience I am grateful to have shared in.

Kase- what can I say to do you justice? You are the loveliest of lovely, we are all so proud of the person you have always been and continue to blossom in to.

All my love,

-Sarah

 

 

 

 

with the tide

At times my single greatest fight is against the pull to drift. The urge to withdraw, coast out with the tide.

Floating along in the rhythm of life, I am content to stay, remain close to the shoreline, camp out on the beaches of community. Until an off-beat wave appears, out of synch with my rhythm and I drift a spell further from the shore. Waves of hurt in relationship, a stumbling day of work in the office of “Mommy,” or one too many comments laced with ingratitude and I began to feel the pull. The tide of withdrawal building. We are a people created for community, built for relationship. And yet, those very places of life lived closely is where toes are crunched and elbows knocked about. As I hop around on one foot, nursing the ache of boundaries overstepped, instinctually I pull in around the wound- allowing another wave to take me.

Is it really the ugly of a hurt delivered at the hands of a loved one that I drift from? Or the realization that the sting I feel staring into the eyes of ingratitude runs thick because it illuminates my own places of thankless, joyless living? And if so, how does the withdraw do anything but surround myself alone with my greatest battlefield, myself? “We hold all the keys to our undoing,” sings the song…Perhaps I need the process of drifting far enough away from the safety of the shoreline before I can appropriately recognize, it is not the community I am tentative over, but rather what those relationships may reveal about myself. Revelations I’d rather let drift by out of reach, gone from sight amid the waves of life breaking around me.

Just as the tide carries out, it ushers in. Drifting further from the hands of those close, another off-beat wave appears by way of a phone call “just because,” or the sincerity of a few simple words written, this time pulling me back in closer to the beach. Soon, I drift near enough to catch glimpses of smiles, notes of laughter caught in the wind, and tension softens, walls topple over just as quickly as they were constructed, and the sense of home returns. Once again bobbing along to life near the shoreline, back in the midst of those often-clumsy elbows and feet, the lovely and the painful. Resolved to fight the drifting for another day. I float to shore.

S u b s c r i b e