From My Camera

Dear Whit :: 1 Year Old

Dear Whit,

Today, you are one year old!

How, in the world, has it already been a year? A little over a year ago, as we eagerly awaited your arrival, I wrote out my prayer for you – that you would be happy, healthy, strong, smart, adventurous, and curious about this world. God answered big time –  you are all of those things. (Though, I wish I had prayed a little less fervently about the adventurous and curious part – you have SO much zeal for discovering new things and I can hardly keep up!)

Just in the last few weeks, you have started to seem so much like a big boy instead of a baby. You’re walking – everywhere. And communicating (mostly to the dogs, but whatevs). You love to bark at your puppies. You shake your head no anytime we tell you “No, no.” You dance every time anything with any resemblance of a beat comes on. You have 7 teeth, and you’re working really hard on another one. You love meat and veggies – and you’re not so sure about sweet foods. But, you, you are so sweet and loving.

And you are so loved.

This past weekend, many of the people who love you the most celebrated your first birthday! You are truly such a reason for a celebration – a physical reminder of God’s love and faithfulness and miracles.

We had games and cake and presents. You had no interest in the cake – even though it might have been the best cake I’ve ever baked. For your birthday, we made you a playroom. And thanks to your friends and family, you have a bunch of fun new toys to play with! Thanks to everyone who celebrated our baby bear turning one!

It is amazing how much you have grown and developed in a year. You are such an incredible little human – and I am so proud and thankful to be your mama. It is been a year of joy and love, exhaustion and self doubt. But this world – and definitely my world – is better with you in it. I am so excited to watch you continue to grow into the person God created you to be.

Happiest of birthdays, baby bear.

Love you,

Mama

 

Dear Whitaker :: 7 Months

Dear Whit,

You, my baby boy, are seven months old today.

Seven whole months of your sweet cuddles. Seven months of watching you grow and develop. Seven months of love and delight.

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It’s so neat to see your thoughts and opinions develop. You are babbling up a storm right now trying to convey those thoughts. You say ma-ma-ma, da-da, ba-ba-ba, na-na-na, and (of course) goo. And if that doesn’t get your point across, you scream with all the force of your very strong lungs. Good times.

You are a well-documented fake cough-er and faker cry-er. And sometimes a fake laugh-er, letting out a single Ha. It’s pretty funny. Until you scream.

You’re starting to notice the dogs more and more. They usually make you laugh – when they aren’t doing a walk by face lick. You’re starting to pull their fur and ears anytime they are within reach though – and they have been such sweet dogs and haven’t nipped or growled at you.

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You love love love your jumper and your walker. Anything that helps you move. You’re also an amazingly proficient roller and scooter, making your way around the living room remarkably fast. You can sit up, but you have no interest in actually sitting. You are all about standing. And, you’re starting to pull up – mostly by grabbing the neckline of my shirt, my scarf, or my hair. Good times.

You’re finally getting a hang of the food thing. You love bananas, apples, peaches, pears, avocado, butternut squash, carrots, and broccoli. But, you were pretty offended when we tried to give you chicken and a taste of a french fry.

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This month, you went on your first long road trip out of Texas, to Crested Butte, Colorado. You saw snow and Fall leaves and mountains. It was beautiful. You slept great in the mountains and your hair didn’t stick up – Mama thinks we might need to move to the mountains.

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And, this month, you spent a lot of time at the Purpose Coffee building with us. You love saying hi to everyone, grabbing the tea towel from the roasting room and bringing it to us, interrupting people’s meetings, and banging into all of the furniture. But even more than that, you love spending time with the sweet and pretty ladies that help us at the building.

You keep us on our toes already – but you bring us so much joy. Your dad and I, we love you, little man.

For always,

Mama

Farmer’s Market Baby Shower

There isn’t much I enjoy more than planning a party or helping host a shower. So much so that a friend and I talked about starting an event planning business – and then our husbands told us we were a liiiittle crazy…

Last weekend, I helped host a baby shower – and it might just be my favorite one yet. (Although, I think I say that after every party!) On one of my late night Pinterest sessions, I came across a farmer’s market themed wedding and fell in love. It was so different and fresh.

We decided to use that as the theme for this baby shower, as well. I’ll speak for the other hostesses and say – it was so much fun to plan and think creatively within the off-beat theme. The shower is full of all kinds of vintage and DIY goodness. Sources listed at the bottom of the blog!

Andrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeFlowers :: Selene Schumacher of In A Bind Cooking
Cupcakes :: The Ruffled Cup, Amarillo, Texas
All Other Food :: Homemade!
Advice Cards :: Designed by Angela Lusk
Invites, banners, and signs :: Andrus Williams Creative
Photography :: Andrus Williams Creative
Frames, Candles, Trays, Book Boxes :: B. Whimsy, Dalhart, Texas
Cutlery :: Smarty Had A Party
Flea Market Decor :: Hobby Lobby
Everything else was borrowed from the hostesses

Family Session :: Dalhart, TX

After a photo session, I feel like I get to know people on a different level than I would through just normal conversation. I know what their genuine smiles and laughs look and sound like, when they are comfortable and when they aren’t, and how they interact with each other.

That’s one of my favorite things about photography. Not only the challenge of trying to capture that – but also really getting to know new people and families who I might not have otherwise met. I recently photographed these sweet kids – whose parents I first met when they booked a photo session shortly after I moved to Dalhart. Today, they are among my closest friends.

When I do photo sessions, I generally like to be outside, with green backgrounds and lots of beautiful sunlight near sunset. Since we have done a few photo sessions before, I decided to try a different style. We did the photo session at their home, for a more relaxed lifestyle shoot.

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Catching Up

Well, it’s my 5 year blogging anniversary! I reserved my domain name five years ago and posted my first blog a couple of days later.

When I go through all of my old blog posts, I realize it’s been a full five years! Too often, it’s all too easy for me to focus on my failures and shortcomings. But in reality, I’ve been so lucky and blessed to see and experience and accomplish a lot in those years. It has been harder and better in ways I wouldn’t have thought – but the last five years have profoundly shaped me. And, it has definitely taken me on a completely different path than I could have possibly imagined.

In that five years of blogging, I’ve documented my engagement and wedding; major moves and transitions as we moved from DC to Farwell to Dalhart; lots of cooking and baking; about a billion photos of the sunset, flowers, my little zoo, and our everyday adventures; some pretty amazing and life changing trips around the world; the creation of new businesses; my 30 before 30 goals; and the list goes on…

And, throughout those five years, I’ve struggled with how to use this website as both a personal and professional space. And, really, how appropriate considering my real life issues with work-personal life balance. The equilibrium is constantly changing – and I’m doing my best to keep up!

But, on this five year anniversary, I’m excited to try a new format for my website to attempt to bring better balance. I’ve launched a separate area for work related posts and information; while maintaining the space for my personal blog and online journal. Hopefully with this new direction, I’ll be able to update a little more often!

So, with that said, it’s time for a little catch up. Here are some photos from the recent work that I haven’t been blogging about…

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My Zoo of Miscreants

I have a zoo at my house. A zoo of miscreants I lovingly call them. Three dogs. And a cat.

Andrus Williams CreativeMy mom once said that we are one rescue animal away from being those weird animal hoarders you see on the news. But, let’s be clear, Russell and I have a heart for animals – and we’re quite proud of that. It’s one of the few things that we have in common, and it bonds our relationship a little deeper.

People often think we’re weird for placing our animals’ needs above our own wants. Aren’t they just animals, afterall?

But here’s why they are so important to us. They are innocent, loving creatures who look at us as their master. And it is my opportunity and responsibility to love them and care for them the same way my Master loves and cares for me.

Andrus Williams PhotographyThey are daily reminders that God could see me as a dumb, disobedient annoyance who never learns from her mistakes. Instead, He sees me as a precious soul who is worthy of His love, attention, devotion, and time.

When Dezzie starts begging for food at 5 am every morning – I am reminded that when I am sick or tired or hungry, my God comes to my side. He provides, and He comforts. He answers my pleads and begs.

Andrus Williams CreativeAndrus Williams CreativeWhen Max and Eli have tried to run away, I was reminded that when I try to run away and turn my back on God, He moves mountains to seek after me. And when I return, He rejoices and reminds me that He never stopped loving me.

I am not just some animal who He may or may not look after. I am His. He protects me. He teaches me. He disciplines me. He forgives me. He never forsakes me. He takes joy in me. And every day, I have the opportunity to practice displaying that kind of love for this little zoo of miscreants I have.

They are destructive and disobedient; they try to run away; they try to harm themselves; they are needy and demanding; and sometimes they try my very last nerve. But in those moments, I thank God for loving me unconditionally when I act like that too.

Andrus Williams Creative

June 9 | We Live Here

June 5th marked two years of living in Dalhart and living in this house. When we moved in two years ago, I was not excited – to say the least. After renovating the house in Farwell, loving every inch of it, and spending some of the happiest days of my life in that house, it was hard to move into a new house and a new life.

Two years later, this house and city are starting to feel like home.

So, it was fitting that the photo a day prompt a few days ago was “We Live Here.” As I took the photo for that day, I was excited to feel a sense of happiness and peace that this is the stage where my life plays out.

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Ordinary

I woke up this morning and decided I needed to take my blog back for me. So, that’s what I’m doing. Right now. With this post.

Last September when I decided to start my own business, I tried to turn my blog and website into more of a business tool to showcase what I was working on. (If you want to see that – you still can, here or on Facebook.) Of course, my personal life still crept into the pages of my blog. But, I felt guilty sharing personal work instead of my business work. I have a dozen personal posts lurking in my Drafts folder that I started before the guilt crept in and I stopped working on them.

So, I’m liberating my blog and reclaiming this little corner of the internet for my soul. My blog used to be a space to explore and share what inspires me. And I need that space back.


This month, I’m trying a photo a day challenge on Instagram. Hopefully I make it more than 5 days (my previous record…) Here’s a photo from the challenge.

June 4, Ordinary :: An ordinary little rose in my ordinary little garden.

Rose

A Tourist in Thailand

My last several blog posts have focused on the mission trip that Russell and I went on over Christmas. I hope it’s clear that my heart and soul were touched and changed forever by the things we saw and the people we met while on the trip.

We were also lucky to spend a few extra days in Thailand, experiencing a little more of the country and culture as tourists.

Bangkok

We flew into Bangkok a day early, before the rest of our group arrived. To say we were the typical tourists is an understatement. We traveled by tuk-tuk, we ate Pad Thai, Russell had some clothes tailored for him in six hours, we saw every Buddha in the city, and we sat in a lot of traffic. If we ever go back, I’ll definitely skip Bangkok. One day was more than enough.

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Chiang Mai

Halfway through our mission trip, we traveled from Yangon, Myanmar to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we had a tourist day since it was New Years Eve. Chiang Mai and the surrounding area were really neat – a must see for anyone traveling to Thailand.

We rode elephants, held baby tigers, and let off lanterns. a.k.a., It was the best day of my life. I don’t think I will ever forget what it feels like to feed an elephant, to pet a tiger, and to release a lantern into the heavens, watching it float away and join the sea of thousands of other lanterns.

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Krabi

After the mission trip finished, Russell and I headed to Krabi island for a little relaxation (and a little too much sun). We took a day-long snorkeling trip to Koh Rok, which had, hands down, the most amazingly beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. I didn’t fully grasp the concept of powdery white sand and crystal clear water until visiting Thailand.

ThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailandThailand had been on my list of dream vacations for years, and I’m so glad to have spent time really getting to see so much of the country, while meeting its people and learning about its fascinating culture (oh, and eating its delicious food!).

My Prayers for the Orphanages

I want to start by saying I don’t think they should really be called orphanages. The children may not have their biological families – but they absolutely have families. Mother and father figures who love them, a whole pack of brothers and sisters, and in most cases, extended family members too.

The term “orphanage” always conjured up images of sweet, innocent children living in too little love – or worse, abuse. Visiting the orphanages in Thailand and Myanmar thankfully dispelled that vision. Instead, I saw them living in love and hope and joy and potential and play and fun and kid-ness. And it was awesome.

MyanmarMyanmarMyanmar and ThailandSo, I thank God for the adults who so passionately love Him that they answered the call to adopt these kids into their own families. What strong, faithful, good role models they are – not just for these kids but for all of us who meet them. They have dedicated their lives, their homes, their resources – their all – to serving God by loving and caring for these kids.

As if that wasn’t enough, they are also committed to serving their surrounding communities. They have church services, start Bible colleges, and host shoe outreaches and other fun events. The orphanages are truly resources for their communities, the place where neighborhood kids come to play soccer, where all know they will be welcomed with love.

Because of these loving and faithful adults, kids who once faced insurmountable odds now have a chance at life. And not just for survival – but for success and thriving. Not only do they have food, clothing, and shelter, but they are getting an education, learning skills, being encouraged. Speaking in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – they have a chance at self actualization. What a testimony about God’s provision!

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Despite the manifold praises, there are still so many needs.

Some worry about meeting rent in 6 months, while others worry about where or if their kids will be able to continue their education. Some sit with unfinished buildings on their grounds, waiting for the funds to complete projects that will further their mission and aid in sustainability. We gave shoes and blankets in the community – and the thankfulness for these items showed the clear need for other essentials like these. Kids sleep on beds so hard that they gave me bruises to sleep there for 2 nights.

So, I pray that their needs will be met – and exceeded. That their thoughts and energy won’t be spent on how to meet basic needs, but can instead stay focused on having the biggest impact in others’ lives as possible.

I pray for each of the kids we met and the many, many others we weren’t able to meet. I pray for their futures – that they are able to build on the growth and opportunity they’ve found already, staying steadfast in their faith, becoming change makers in their communities and country. I pray that they will always walk in light and love – and never doubt where that light and love come from.

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I pray for their communities and country. May the hearts and minds of the people of these beautiful countries be softened. May the hold that fear, deception, and superstition have over them be released. I pray that God’s glory will be ever more evident.

I pray for our team that went on the mission trip – that we never forget the passion and inspiration we felt while in Thailand and Myanmar. That we recognize that our trip might have ended but our role in their lives carries on.

And I pray for anyone whose heart might be moved while hearing stories of the trip and the work in this region. Truly, in all of my work and travels, I’ve never seen a place with more opportunity for a miraculous return on investment.

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