that time i lived a dream

It’s taken me 3 months to write this post.

I’d like for this to be an incredibly well written piece.  I’d love to be witty and awesome and put together the perfect words to describe my love for the people in these pictures and the extreme amazingness of this event even happening.

But the words still don’t come.

Instead – I’ll tell you the story behind a picture in this post and a person who I will never forget…

That night (the one where I got to have a dream come true and meet one of my favorite authors in the history of EVER)  a precious lady stood up during the question time.

“Glennon, what would you say to help people understand the importance of being there for a friend who has lost a child? We lost our daughter, Ansley, seven years ago and most of our friends and family have just fallen away. Now on her birthday and Angel Day- I might receive a card or two. It’s just not enough. Our baby is gone and we need the people who knew her to talk to us about her, but they don’t. Everyone we loved is just silent about it. It makes me feel like Ansley is forgotten. It feels like the world is pretending she never existed.”
The tears came.  From her – from me – from the many women sitting in the church that night and from her best friend who held her hand as she bravely bore her soul to all of us.
Glennon paused.  She asked her name.  And then Glennon asked her to tell us what she would want us to do.
“SHOW UP. Show up right away and then keep showing up. Don’t worry about saying the right thing, there is no right thing. Just say SOMETHING. Just tell us you haven’t forgotten. And say their name. It’s like people are afraid to remind me of her- as if I’m not already thinking about her every moment of every day. Everyone avoids her name- but we still need to hear their names spoken by people who loved them.”
More tears fell.  From all of us.  Tears from hearts that were broken open and changed by a courageous mommy who had lived through unspeakable pain and chose to share the truth with all of us.
Jessica, this amazing mommy, sat down beside her friend and leaned into one another.  The tears came as they do when broken hearts are shared.  Amidst the tears in my eyes, I took a picture.  Honestly – the moment was so intimate and so raw that I almost didn’t.  But as I watched these two friends, I saw the most beautiful display of friendship and love and honesty that I never wanted to forget the moment or Jessica’s words.
In the middle of this post,  you’ll see this courageous mommy of sweet Ansley and her precious friend.  This moment truly means the world to me.  And before the pictures are shared – I want to share Glennon’s challenge that she shared in her post on Ansley’s angel day: (http://momastery.com/blog/2014/07/14/stop-the-world/ )
  1. Please leave a comment here for Jessica. She will be reading today. Let us show her we cared enough to STOP today and say Ansley’s name. Let us tell her that she is not the only one who is feeling the width and depth today of the loss of Ansley. Also, in your comment- tell Jessica where you’re from. It makes the love feel more real when you can see that it’s covering the globe.
  2. Then please, in honor of Ansley and Jessica- call to mind a friend who has suffered a great loss and then reach out to her. If you can’t call her, email her. If you can’t email her, text her. Don’t let your lack of time or the perfect thing to say stop you. Just do it. Stop the world for a moment in honor of her. That’s what we do when we pause in the middle of a busy day to reach out to someone who is hurting. We say “to me, you are worth stopping the world for.”

 

Some of the ladies that made this night happen.  THANK YOU.  You ladies are incredible…

May I just pause and tell you what an honor it was to meet Tisha?  (Glennon’s mom)  I adore her.  And watching her beam with love over her daughter was one of my favorite parts of the night.  I learned so much by talking with her and watching her love for her daughter.

More mother-beaming…

Afterward, they opened up some time to come by and meet Glennon.  I loved seeing the stories and moments shared…

Gardens.  Little amazing miracles, my friends.

Her husband needed a little coaching on how to say “Momastery”

These are some of the fabulous ladies that made this night happen.

 

jackson davis

I blinked… and then he was a SENIOR.  My nephew.  A SENIOR.

I still remember getting the call in 9th grade algebra that he was here and he was just as amazing as we knew he would be.

Jackson is pretty incredible.  And for his senior pictures – I wanted to try something a little out of the box for me (and possibly for senior photos in general).  So we met on the basketball court.  (and just so you know – this guys OWNS the court and I LOVE watching him play.)  He was crazy patient with me and was willing to try everything I asked.  And he didn’t laugh too loudly when I nearly fell over while wearing heels so that I could be as tall as him…

 

on readiness…

“Are you ready for the kids to go back to school?”

In a word, no.

That’s why, over the past week, I haven’t really felt like talking and I seem kind of “off”.  (Which could be linked to also trying to quit caffeine – again.)  It’s why I just looked outside at the Buzz Lightyear water hose and felt my eyes get watery.  It’s why watching my son lose his first tooth this morning actually took my breath away.

I’m not ready.

Not at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I bought all the school supplies and the necessary shoes and such.  I made my kids help me put together a LUNCH SCHEDULE.  (I felt so accomplished over this.  Seriously.  This ADD mom has A LUNCH SCHEDULE.)  And I have turned in all the forms, prayed all the prayers and done all the things.

But I’m not ready.

I’ve asked the ready question all summer.  I’ve made lists of how to be READY.  But I’m not.

And today I decided that was okay.

Because the truth is when they handed that little baby to me 8 years ago in the hospital – I certainly did NOT feel ready.  When I took her home and realized we were actually DOING this and she was ours forever – I did not feel ready.  When she took her first steps, I did not feel ready.  When my “just in case” pregnancy test had 2 lines, I most certainly was not ready.  When I was told at the 20 week ultrasound that the little one in my womb was a BOY and not a girl – I was not ready.  (And I may have nearly hyperventilated because I had SEEN boys at the playground and was worn out by merely observing them.)  When my body had walked through the worst stages of Lyme and I found out I was pregnant – without maternity coverage I was NOT ready.  I could keep going, but the truth is I have never once been “ready” in my entire time of parenthood.

But I have showed up.

Clumsy, not put together, imperfect me has shown up.

I’m thinking for me – that’s all I can do.  For always.  And maybe, just maybe it’s better than being ready.

 

 

kelly & joe: the wedding

 

Amidst stained glass windows aglow with light trickling through, family and friends glowing, and a couple holding hands dressed in a lace-covered white dress and handsome grey suit, the priest spoke our hearts: that this couple we were here to celebrate is telling a story of love.  He spoke of how these two amazing individuals have come together to write an even more beautiful story – hand in hand for the rest of their days.  To know them is to know that it couldn’t be truer.

Kelly and Joe, I have tears in my eyes as I write this…thank you.  Thank you for inviting us into your lives.  Thank you for sharing your love for each other and for your family and friends.  Thank you for all the laughter and joy and graciousness that pours out of you two.  I love you both SO very much.  I will never forget the overwhelming honor of all the “backstage” moments of your wedding.  Hugs with grandma, interrupting an amazing coffee shop and all the smiles of everyone there, watching you embrace as you saw each other for the first time, stolen moments with your precious dog, how you lit up as you greeted each friend and family member and all the joy written over the entire day.  You two are a treasure and I’m crazy honored to know you.  Pieces of my grateful heart are in every image…

 

Now…on to the images.  And to start, here’s one of my favorites of Kelly’s STUNNING dress.

Oh this sweet little girl.  We became friends and it was so precious to see her love for Kelly.  And to catch her checking herself in the mirror…

I LOVE that Kelly had her wedding date stitched into her TOMS as her something blue…

To go ahead and embrace some southern-ness – it blessed my heart to see how Kelly brought her sweet flower girl into all the moments of the day.

To the bridesmaid who kept this as a souvenir from their rehearsal dinner – you are AWESOME.  Don’t let anybody else tell you different.  You made my day.

I could gush about Kelly (and Joe) for DAYS.  (True confession: I  have to all my family and friends)  But I also need to gush about her sister.  It was so sacred and beautiful to watch her joy for her sister.  She was an incredible maid of honor, but it was moments like this – where her love and joy was so palpable, that I found tears in my eyes.  You two are incredible.  (And Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons – I’ll take every piece of advice you have on how to encourage this kind of bond with your kids)

Oh yes.  As little sisters these two dressed up as brides…with magic wands.

I work with my brides to help set up their timelines so that they can have the experiences and memories they truly want for a lifetime.  One of my favorites is when my brides choose to do a special reveal to their dads…

One of my other favorites?  When they do a special reveal to their bridesmaids.  It’s so precious to watch their reactions.

I talked with Joe and Kelly about first looks.  I don’t believe in tapping someone on the shoulder – I believe in an intimate, connected moment.  (Which can be a challenge in a big city.)  We worked together and chose a little park across the street from the church.  The look on Joe’s face and the images that follow are exactly why I LOVE first looks and the memories that accompany them.

Ted (my husband) took these images.  And they may be some of my absolute favorites from the day.

Kelly…I LOVE your excitement…

These two are beyond precious.  I’ll never forget watching this little man pull her down the aisle!

We made a quick stop at Kelly and Joe’s apartment for Joe to open his gift and to grab a picture with their precious dog.

YOU TWO ARE BEAUTIFUL.  (Inside and out.)  And I’m pretty sure that none of these people will forget this moment.  (PS: Heritage Coffee THE best iced coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life and I cannot thank the beautiful and talented videographer, Jessica Lewis, enough for treating me to some.  I cannot wait to see the video she puts together from their wedding day!)

I always take individual bridal party pictures with the bride and groom.  I start with a traditional pose and then for the last shot I just ask them to do something fun or something that is a part of their friendship.  This bridal party rocked and the moments were equal parts hilarious and amazing…

We then headed over to Diversey Harbor where Joe proposed to Kelly…

By the way – I need to say a HUGE thank you to the AMAZING ushers.  You ushed with utter awesomeness.  And thank you for literally holding back a tree so that these shots were possible.

Then we arrived for the reception at the Chicago Cultural Center.  This place has always stopped me and left me breathless.  It was perfect to celebrate their marriage here…

Meet the parents of the groom (on the left) and the parents of the bride (on right).  I am so grateful they would pause and let me capture a few moments with each of them.

Joe’s brother prepared an AMAZING slideshow of pictures presented before the dance floor was opened.  The precious little flower girl and ring bearer saw it as their stage.  Little ones, may you never be afraid to dance like you did this night.  May you always be so brave and filled with joy…

The truth?  Watching the parent dances is starting to leave me with tears in my eyes now.  I realize these moments come all too quickly.  As I document these moments, I realize they are filled with memories of dancing in the living room, teaching them how to ride bikes, helping with homework and  so many more “mundane” moments that currently comprise my days.  These moments remind me of how beautiful it all is…even when it doesn’t feel so beautiful…

The dance floor was rocked, my friends.

Kelly and Joe – we love you!!!

 

The fabulous vendors who made all of these beautiful moments come together:

Dress: Lazaro
Reception – Chicago Cultural Center
Church – Old St. Patrick’s Church
Band: The Connexion Band
Cake: Oakmill Bakery
Florist: Occasionally Yours
Make-up:  Nika Vaughan
Hair: Bridal Beauty Chicago
Trolley: Absolute Dream Limousines, Inc., driver Dan Baxter
Catering: Chef By Request

 

lindsey & rob: anniversary session

These two.

They’ve left me laughing harder than I thought possible.  They bless my heart every time I’m with them.  (Truth.)  And they are a gift to the world.  (You can fall in love with them HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

Lindsey and Rob, I love you both to pieces and you have my heart as you embark on your next adventure.  I’m also counting down the days until I can see you again…

 

Why?  Because we can.  And it was hilariously epic.

This series makes me laugh.  Every.time.

F a c e b o o k
T w i t t e r