Saturday, October 1, 2011

Goodbye, Beautiful Summer

Well, today is October 1.  As much as I've wanted to hang on to summer, it's gone.  I am not a fan of fall, but I don't really give it a fair shake.  See, really the only reason I don't like fall is because it's just the beginning of my real enemy, winter.  I hate winter.  I hate cold, snow, thick socks, heat pump heat, ice on the windshield (and the locks and the road), bare trees, frozen pipes, and snowmen.  Winter makes me angry, and I'm getting mad just thinking about it.  The only good things about winter are cute boots, Christmas, and not having to shave my legs as much.

  I've already decided that I hate this upcoming winter just as much as I've hated every other winter in my life. But I'm going to try to give this fall a chance.  I'm trying to focus on the good things in fall.  I'm going to try to take the girls to the Peaks of Otter for the 'peak of foliage' and hopefully line up some photo shoots for them there.  I'm going to enjoy a bonfire or two, have some pumpkin spice creamer in my coffee, go to the corn maze, maybe cook up an acorn squash.  I'll try to enjoy it.

Before I do that, though, I wanted to leave you and myself with some images of one of the most fun things we did this summer....the Just the Girls: Real Beauty Tea Party.  A friend let us borrow her backyard and our littlest girlfriends had a blast dressing up, drinking tea, and rocking the runway.  We didn't worry about school or cold or appointments or responsibilities...the only thing we worried about was who was going to get to wear the long, white gloves next!

  Be good to us, Beautiful Autumn.  And goodbye, Beautiful Summer!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beautiful...Brain Bleed?

We've had a traumatic week at the Real Beauty 'Headquarters'!  One of our very own Beautiful Photographers, Faith, fell off a ripstick (skateboard) over the weekend and injured her beautiful brain.  I won't bore you with all the big medical words, mostly because I don't remember them, I'll just say that some of the Beautiful Girls spent the entire night and part of the next day in the ER and then the neuro ICU because Faith's beautiful brain was bleeding.  Don't worry, she's ok...but pray because even though she is not in the hospital anymore she still has to be very careful and still, and not get bumped around.  She'll have another scan on Tuesday to make sure nothing has changed.  It's all her mother can do not to wrap the kid in bubble wrap for the next few weeks.

  There was and is an outpouring of love and prayer for Faith from friends.  Advice, meals, and offers to help the family came immediately after the accident.  We even had an offer to bring games to the hospital in the middle of the night while we were waiting, waiting, waiting at the hospital.  That's some love there.  But the sweetest story I heard  is about Faith's own little brother, AJ.  Here is his picture, and below you can see his sweet story, from Cindi:

Nobody expects to be sitting in the neurological intensive care unit with one of their children. This past weekend was certainly one of the most stressful I’ve had! I have to say, though, that I can so clearly see God’s hand of protection. Also, I can see how many amazing, incredible, helpful, prayerful friends we have.

All of the kids were in the hospital room when the neurosurgeon came in to talk to us about Faith. A.J. was listening to how serious the situation was and was very upset. He was crying and telling Steve that he wished it would have happened to him – he wanted to take Faith’s place. Then, last night, he put a little note on Faith’s pillow. It told her that he hoped she felt better soon and to look under the piece of paper. He had put his wallet with all of his money….everything he has…..there to give her. If you knew the story behind his wallet, you would know how much he loves that thing. So to give the wallet with the money is even more precious. To see one of your children be willing to give up his own life and possessions for another is……….wow……I don’t even know how to describe it. I can see him being a great missionary someday!

It got me thinking about Jesus’s death on the cross. The knowledge of Jesus dying on the cross for me is always here in my head. But I don’t often think about what it took for him…..his willingness to take MY place and give up His own life for me. A.J. loves Faith. She’s his sister; he lives with her and wants to protect her and have her be OK….so it’s easy to understand, to comprehend. But WHAT AMAZING LOVE it is for Jesus to willingly lay down his life for us!! I keep thinking about it – I’m so undeserving of His love and sacrifice…..and so tremendously thankful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beauty in Motherhood....Always

We had so much fun on the photo shoot with the beautiful Robin and her four children.  Yes, that's Robin...the slim, young woman in the middle there and yes, all four of those cuties gathered close are her own three sons and one daughter.  Don't they look perfect?  Doesn't Robin look like a peaceful, beautiful girl whose four children listen to her every minute and obey her every word?  Look at those smiles!  That's a happy family.

Uh-oh.  Ok, we staged this a little.  Just a little, there was no actual fighting going on, but there was a fit on the ground and some screaming.  During our walk with Robin, everything was not rosy and perfect the whole way.  Her daughter got hot and wanted to be carried.  The middle son kept running ahead, the older one just wanted to stop and draw, the young one's shoes were a little too big and he kept falling down.  And none of the boys were all that excited about letting Aubrianah take their pictures.  But look at Robin.  She's still beautiful.

  That's the way it is with motherhood.  When my son was little, his fits were legendary.  He was strong-willed and self-motivated.  But he was also hysterically funny and super-smart (he still is, and he's also now compassionate and helpful.)  I remember feeling like the most incredible mother in the world when I taught him to read, and the worst mother in the world when I spanked him for hitting me in the head with a toy truck.
  I didn't feel so beautiful when I found out my daughter's ankle had been sprained for months and I didn't even know it, or when I kept my infant son out in the sun too long and his face blistered, or when I yelled at my daughter just yesterday, or when I have to take out the trash again because my now adult son apparently has not been taught responsibility well enough by...yep...his mother.

  Those kids have power over our beauty, don't they!?  Mine do.  They disobey or do something embarrassing, I'm an ugly mother.  They do something amazing or have a perfect day?  I'm beautiful again!  What's wrong with that thinking?

  I don't know if thinking about this is hard for you, it is hard for me.  I've spent over eighteen years being all about these two kids.  They are my job, they are who I am.  But I'm about to get fired....or, at least, I've been downsized.

  As I look back at the last eighteen years, though, and think about all the things I didn't do a good enough job on, or the times I lost my temper, the times they disobeyed me or screamed or hit or sassed me, the things I could have taught them and didn't....I realize that those times that I didn't (and don't) feel beautiful, were actually making me MORE beautiful.  And they are making my children more beautiful, too.  The experiences and trials and hard times are what strengthens us, and strength is beauty.  The dumb things we've done and the ability to look back on our mistakes give us knowledge, and knowledge is beauty.

  Let's get back to Robin.  She's in the midst of it, four very young and sometimes disobedient children, a husband, a job.  Robin is a great mix of patience, kindness, and discipline with her children.  She's such a beautiful mom already!  When she gets finished raising these four, she's going to be STUNNING!