There aren't many photos in my home, mostly just other pieces of art, or, ya know, the frames that cover one wall of our staircase filled with things other than photos like corkscrew willow twigs and old black and white photos my grandmother gave me. I know, super hipster. Either way, the sad fact is that I haven't framed many photos (strange for a photographer, but that's a whole separate blog post). There are a few, though, that have purpose in reminding me to be thankful everyday for the gifts I have been given. I often say that a photo is a tiny "Ebenezer" (a name given to a stone in the Old Testament to mean "Thus far the Lord has helped us" - 1 Sam 7:12). They freeze time and remind us that we are not alone. This is one of those and it sits on the mantle in my bedroom.
This photo was a gift I received in the mail shortly after this little guy's brother was born as a thank you for driving to the hospital in Athens to photograph the first few hours of Andy's life. Honestly, being able to share that day with them was a gift to me in itself. This is "Little E" and as you can tell from the photo, he calls me "PJ". I guess "CJ" was a little too difficult. And actually, since Ethan does, his parents do too. And since his mother and I shoot weddings together a good bit, I occasionally hear an MOB (mother of the bride) call me PJ as well, which always adds a little extra humor to the craziness of the average wedding day.
If you've been following this blog for very long, you've heard about Kaitie's rockstar skilz, as a photog and as a friend. She's also a rockstar mother and wife and the more time I spend with her the more the Lord is teaching me through her how to give of myself. For a friendship with such a short history (we only met a year and a half ago), there exists between us a mutual willingness to share most of what we have been given. Ours has been one that has taught me more about what friendship should look like. Even though we are inconveniently five hours apart, we still manage to interrupt each other's lives every few weeks to ask a question about a camera lens or about a setting in Lightroom, which almost always develops into a "quick" catch up conversation that involves us getting to the root of what we are learning about ourselves, the people around us and the God that we believe is in control of it all.
One of my favorite memories with Kaitie was from the second wedding we shot together. We had just finished the portraits of the wedding party and we were driving to the chapel for the family portraits and the ceremony. I was running through the list of other shots we needed to get while attempting to scarf down my usual wedding day grub (LOTS of sweet tea and Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets, which, by this point, have adjusted to the temperature of the day -- the freezing cold of January). While juggling these things, I did what I usually attempt to do with my assistants and asked Kaitie if I could pray over us. She agreed but the response that followed caught me off guard. She asked me if anyone ever prayed over me.
That short drive was a beautiful beginning to our friendship. Of course before then we had spent plenty of time taking about the details that go along with running our photography businesses and often about how we could serve people well through our work. But being in a conversation with both the Lord and Kaitie was a incredible thing. I remember her specifically praying for my strength and for my creativity and even over protection of our gear - an anxiety I hadn't given to Him before. At that moment I realized I wasn't alone. My Father had provided for me by giving me a friend to share this journey with. And so far it has been a beautiful one.
About a month ago, Kaitie was driving to shoot the first wedding since little Andy was born. On the way she called me just to say "wish you were shooting with me". Of course, in those quick five minutes, we were able to pray over each other and the wedding day. These days, when either or both of us has a wedding to shoot, this has become a routine... and one that I hope we continue.
I am thankful for the people that walk this life with me, daily reminding me that I am not alone and that my Father provides. Friendship does not always come easy, but is so worth it.
Kaitie -- thank you for sharing not only your camera lenses and CF cards, but also your home, your kids, your crazy spunk, your prayers, and your sweet willingness to give of who you are. And thank you for letting me give back to you. I honestly believe I am a better photographer and friend and one day I will be a better wife and mother because of you. It's an honor to walk through this life with you. I'm proud to be "Aunt PJ".
Here's a little glimpse into her world and the three men she gives the majority of herself to. They are all rockstars in my book.
Haha! So typical!!
You are beautiful, my friend.