I interrupt this feed of weddings, engagements and seniors with a gorgeous event I got to shoot back in April. People, get ready for whimsy.
All this and more is what colors the experience of Susie Davis's (aka my cute mom) Acts 246 Dinner, where women gather to break bread and seek Jesus.
Susie loves people through beauty, and this wouldn't be her event if it wasn't basically all white everything with touches of pink Geranium blooms, vintage linens, vintage china and silverware, and candles in abundance adding a little glitter to ambiance.
It also wouldn't be my mom's event if a local Austin artisan wasn't included and spotlighted in some way. She used these little turquoise ring dishes as parting gifts, which were made special for the dinner by the talented Julie Spako.
But once the tables were set and the candles lit, the real fun began when the guests began to arrive. My mom has childlike exuberance, and I think that makes people feel super loved and valued.
Little sister Sardy (Sara Regan of Davis Music) got some of those welcoming genes too.
Soon though, everyone has arrived and it's time to gather together, share a meal, and share our hearts. There was laughter. There were tears. There was joy, healing and encouragement. It was Acts 2:46.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
Though the sun eventually went to bed, we stayed late into the evening celebrating community (and birthdays) and worshipping under the stars.
If anyone out there needs a worship leader for their event, you can't do better than Sara. She can lead full band sets for huge DNow group. She masterfully ushers the Spirit into a room with a handful of women. She's gifted and anointed.
Being part of this event reminded me of the immense importance of community. I left grateful to have met and photographed so many women who deeply desire Christ-centered connection. Differences like age, interests and home addresses didn't matter. Regardless of it's packaging, every heart in attendance was seen, loved, and held gently in the arms of acceptance, encouragement and understanding.
I also left so grateful for my Mom, who cares for people deeply and loves Jesus with all of her being. If you'd like to get to know her better, I'm willing to bet the feeling is mutual. Encouragement and joy just explode out of her, and if you'd like to get some of that in your life, she hosts a podcast that is guaranteed to leave an impact. She also blogs, writes books, and is better at Insta than I am.
If you'd like to be part of the next 246 event with Susie, she has them regularly and would love to have you! Head to her website for more info.
Okay, this was a fun one. I interrupt my regular stream of human portraits to bring you something a little different!
I got a call in mid January from Jill, who said she found me on Google because she needed some photos of her dog for a magazine. I thought, "Well that's pretty cool!" I love being an equine photographer, Jill sounded so kind on the phone, and we all know how I feel about dogs. So win, win, right?
Wrong. It went more like WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN!
I arrive at Jill's property in Anderson, Tx, to an astoundingly beautiful vista of golden, rolling hills dotted with sparkling lakes. It's 60 degrees and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. It was a perfect winter day in Texas. There's a truck to my left with Labrador Retrievers in abundance, each excitedly barking and whining in anticipation, waiting for their chance to get out and do what they love: derby. For those of you who don't know (I didn't before this), derby is essentially the sport of duck hunting, but the dogs are in the spotlight. I'll do my best to describe it accurately, because it's truly amazing. When I arrived, Danny, a hall of fame winning professional retriever trainer in the states, was running another dog through some drills. A dummy (white thing pictured below) is already hidden about a football field's length away from where Danny unloads the dogs. He brings them to his cue spot, and then at the slightest utterance of a voice command, the dog is careening, I mean booking it, through the tall grass towards the spot where the dummy is hidden. Labs were made to run! Then, suddenly, Danny blows into a whistle once and the dog stops in his tracks, turns, and looks back at Danny, awaiting direction. I literally had to hold back tears watching because if that's not a beautiful metaphor for how we ought to respond to God when He speaks, I don't know what is. Danny has the dog's attention, and he lifts his right arm once. Then, the dog immediately turns and begins to run again, but this time with a trajectory to the right. Danny and the dog are communicating! With his arm Danny says, "a little to the right" and the dog sprints in that direction. Again, Danny and the dog are about half a football field away from each other as this is happening! They repeat this process of whistle, stop, stare, and new direction until the dog finds the dummie and proudly runs back to Danny. Truly, it's absolutely incredible to witness. I was blown away.
So I come to find out that this is why I'm here. Larry, Jill's retriever, has won the Purina Derby Retriever Award, which means she's the best at what I just witnessed in the states! And what's even more amazing, is that Larry is female, and female dogs rarely beat male dogs in this category simply because of the size difference. But Larry is incredibly fast and very intelligent and she, Danny and Jill are and amazing team who happened to beat the odds and win this award, which not only grants Larry the "top derby dog" title, but also a magazine cover of Retriever News!
As I slowly learned more details about the situation, it dawned on me how big a deal this whole thing was and how completely blessed I was to be part of it. What I originally saw as a really cool opportunity I was excited about, was turning into one of the most unique, cool things I've gotten to do in my photography business, as well as a total blessing in my life. I got to meet Jill, who is the loveliest, most genuine, kind hearted person I've met in a while. And I got to meet Danny, who is also deeply warm and kind, and witness how excellent he is at his job how he loves what he does because he cares for and respects the animals immensely. And finally, I got to meet, spend time with, and photograph Larry, who is utterly gorgeous, exuberant, sweet, and wholly happy doing what she gets to do.
As I stood at the top of the hill after the session I had to take a video (below) because I never wanted to forget how blessed I am and how amazing this day in Anderson, Texas was with Jill, Danny, and Larry!
Many thanks to sweet Jill, you have been a joy to work with and it's been a blessing to get to know you. Many thanks also to Danny - meeting you, hearing about your life and watching you do what you love is incredibly inspiring. And finally, many thanks to sweet Larry, because you probably could care less about winning this award because you simply live to do what you love and please the people who love you!
Kenton and I work at Camp Allen summer camp, which basically means we get to fulfill childhood dreams, hang out with really cool people, and eat a lot candy from mid May through mid August. We even live at camp during the summer. It's a lot of hard work with a lot of high payoff. It's also a lot of super fun nights, including our evening at the drive in movie with our Senior Staff. It felt like a summer night from decades past complete with tail gate gatherings, dusty feet, giant pizzas, and a cotton candy sunset.