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nearest and dearest…

It’s been said that when circumstances are at their worst, people are at their best.

Mr. Rogers said it so beautifully, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”


A little over a week ago, at my best friend’s wedding, I saw this wonderfully-woven story unfold. And let me say, there are many important players in this story, and many of whom could probably paint a better picture for you.

Bethany and I met 16 years ago, somewhere between Princess Di’s fatal crash and my (the) first ever Spoonbread Festival in Berea. We were band groupies with guitar-playing boyfriends. Thank the Lord our friendship outlasted those groupie days:). We bounced back together while our  friends were falling in and out of love. She was there with me through my near marriage (just days away) to the wrong person. Soon, I met the right guy:). And, she joyfully stood by us, as her closest friends- Karen and I- married (within a week of each other) our fellows in 2000.

She said she would be the last of us married. Her mother had told her years ago (from experience), “Bethany, you will know when you meet him. You will know. It is different!”

Bethany wanted more than anything to have a marriage like her parents. Anything else to her was not worth having. But, the realistic good friend that I am, very practically encouraged her that, “not everyone, hardly anyone gets a marriage like your parents, and it still will be very wonderful.” In other words, I told my friend to settle… for less.

Fortunately for her, she ignores a lot of what I say. I’m thankful. She waited…

At one point, she very near gave up. She’d rather be alone than married to the wrong person and miserable. She got cats and made me promise to invite her to all our Christmases so she wouldn’t spend the holiday alone as an old lady.

Enter Anthony… a little over a year ago.  She said to me after meeting him the first time, “Oh, Liz… I don’t want to ruin it… but, this could be it… this could be HIM.” At this point, I’d already googled him, knew where he lived, you know- all that best friend, bodyguard business:). For me, it was when she told me about their country road drives in his 1965 Chevy pickup. I said, hang on to this guy- I need to use his truck for pictures:).

BWAE 026_

Months passed, hands held, “I love you”s exchanged and then she said… “Lizzy, I would wait all over again, all these years, I would wait for him.” This is it! Then came the “someday” chats. Oh, did I dream of the day when I had permission to Pinterest for my friend’s wedding.

Just after the year mark passed of their first meeting, Anthony was on his knee at Rock Bridge in Red River Gorge.

BWAE 018_

Days later, a date was set… five weeks away… And, like the thoroughbreds out of the starting gates, we were off! Providentially, within a couple-hour shopping trip to Lexington, Bethany found her amazing dress, her shoes, her jewelry, her gorgeous veil, her mom’s dress, my dress. (sidenote: at the start of the day, I was the photographer… by the time Bethany found her dress, I was promoted to matron-of-honor). What a fun, exciting day!

It was decided the wedding would be at her parents’ home near Berea. There would be mismatched china, lights for the reception in the woods, lovely cakes, an arbor, fabric, chandeliers. There would be nothing else like it. And no wedding had come together more easily and more beautifully. It would be small, but it would be perfect.

We needed engagements photos, wedding invitations (a surprise guest book) and more shopping.


THEN, the week before, I got a text “Anthony has to go to Japan. He won’t be back until two days before the wedding!” WHAT?!

THEN, the Sunday before the wedding, with a groom in Japan, the school year started for teacher Bethany, and the final night of decisions for decorating behind us, her mother Mary pulled me close and whispered, “oh, Liz please pray my daddy does not die this week…” Mary had been helping to take care of her father for the last few years, and his health had dramatically deteriorated in recent weeks.

THEN, Bethany got sick. I was getting sick. My youngest was sick. NO, I said. The party must go on. We have lights and chandeliers to hang, fabric to drape…

THEN, another text came from Bethany on Wednesday morning, “Hey, I know it’s early…my mom just called and grandpa died in his sleep last night.”

Isaacs 007_

sigh… breathe…

and Bethany posted to her facebook page, “Grandpa always promised he would dance at my wedding… and he almost made it.”

sigh… breathe…

The wedding would go on, in her parents’ front yard, just across the driveway from the family cemetery where her grandad would be buried.  The funeral would be held the following Monday, after the dust settled from the wedding. Bethany was sad and felt the weight of guilt of missing her grandad’s funeral.

Her amazing parents had set the stage well… beautiful flowers, no weeds, manicured yard, an arbor built by her dad and uncle just for her wedding. I can only imagine the untold hours those two put into this day. “Whatever she wants…” they said, “she deserves it.”

And Thursday, the decorating began. Bethany dashed off to meet her groom after his travels abroad, and Rhea Marie, mom Mary and I stamped brown paper bags and tried our hand (disastrously) at wax sealing packets of wildflower seeds (while almost burning the house down:)

Friday was a full day of decorating frenzy and weather watching. The forecast called for rain late in the day the next day, the wedding day. But, it will not rain, we said. It must not rain. Rain is predicted all the time and passes, we chimed, leaving clear skies in it’s wake.

All totaled, the day would don some 80 pieces of white milk glass, 14 table clothes, 100 feet of pink table runners, 50 feet of draping fabric, 4 chandeliers, 500 plus globe lights, 5 bushels of popcorn, 50 handwritten wildflower seed packets “Let love grow…”, 5 cakes, 54 place settings of mismatched china gathered from friends and family, hundreds of gorgeous flowers, and more than a couple dozen happy, helping hands.

Lights were strung and chandeliers were hung. Popcorn was popped and old doors were hinged. Chalky words were written, chairs were set, seeds packets were sealed. The wedding eve was ended with a party of Bethany’s closest girl friends (who came from near and far, one from across the country) … but not before…

The host of honeymoon bed and breakfast called to say, “I’m sorry, we’ve double-booked.”

With no room for them at the inn, local Berea hotels booked for the Labor Day weekend and time running out, the groom was scrambling for a solution.

(Is there a bit of anxiety rising as you read this? Fear not, the bride and groom were as cool as cucumbers.)

The wedding morning was full of country breakfasts, as parents of the bride met parents of the groom for the first time, and the bride sharing Starbucks coffee with her friends. (the bride’s drink was free, in case you’re wondering.)


THEN, it happened… she spilled coffee on her shirt. And me and my big mouth said, “You know Bethany, if that’s the worst thing that happens on your wedding day…”

(insert a “bahahahahahahaha!” here)

And off we went, giggling, chatting, driving to Berea. Bethany was exhuberant, and she was nervous. Dark clouds were looming.

popcorn bar

The work continued.  Mary S. popped popcorn; Amanda and Karen finished the tables hands, arms full of china, milkglass, tablecloths and fabric.

At 3:00, Bethany was nipping at her mom’s and my heels, “we need to get ready…”. Rhea Marie was expected any minute to apply Bethany’s makeup.

At 4:00, her mom and I were dressed, her mom had finished Bethany’s hair. We were still waiting on RM and my two second shooters (yes, I was still the lead photographer).

I stepped outside our dressing room, and a quick glance through the kitchen windows revealed scrambling feet shuttling decorations from outside into the garage. It was raining. It was pouring. All the work of three days was being undone in a matter of minutes. My heart sunk. Bethany’s dream wedding was washing away.

Her mother was distressed. Bethany was secluded and unaware of much of what was going on outside her dressing room. We kept it that way as long as we could.

I went into cheerleader mode. We could not give up. The girl that deserved the most perfect wedding day ever was still going to get it. I was determined.

The groom was relaxed and wanted things to go as planned as the radar looked as if it would all pass soon.

THEN, 4:30 came. One photographer had arrived, the other lost on the other side of Berea. No Rhea Marie yet. She was more than an hour late and we were now worried.

THEN, in she came crying, apologizing and sopping wet. Her car had slid off the wet road into a ditch. We were all just glad she was OK.

getting ready bw

At 5:00, Bethany’s makeup was finished and my lost photographer was on his way to the wedding site. Bethany’s dressing room momentarily cleared out as we scrambled for a plan B.

“It’s raining…” Bethany’s eyes watered.

“No, no, no… it doesn’t matter Bethany,” I cheered.
“The rain can come, but you will still be married at the end of the day. You get THAT guy. You’ll have what you’ve always dreamed of. You have an amazing groom waiting for you. You’ll be Mrs. Estep!”

The groom watching the radar was still hopeful that it would pass. So we held out.

And then, the wind blew… HARD, knocking over our antique doors onto that Victorian settee, fabric was falling, chandeliers were swinging.

And everybody but Bethany looked like drowned rats. She looked amazing.

Just outside our door, we could hear the rumblings of the weather watchers, “Worse is coming…”

Mary and Anthony made the call for us to pack up and move to the church down the road. All the flowers, milk glass, etc. were now being shuttled back outside into cars and vans. The troops were assembling and the convoy was forming. The groom needed to see the bride. And, it was settled.  Photographer #1 dashed off to check out the situation at the new location. Photographer #2 arrived. Friend Amy was sewing a piece of Bethany’s granddad’s overalls on the inside of her dress.

THEN, the cakes arrived. We all cheered and screamed in delight at how perfect they were. We needed it, we needed the cakes to be perfect.


THEN, the phone rang. Bethany’s aunt was calling to say there was a power outage at the church. Mom Mary panicked. I panicked. (photographer translation: dark church means no pictures!) So, I ran to the bride, “are you OK if we do it here and we do it now? The rain has cleared for the moment.”

I ran to stop the amazing, hard working, scrambling troops, “we’re doing it here and we’re doing it NOW!” And, they all looked at me like I was an absolute nut!

getting ready 2

But, you know what… many hands make light work. Those wonderful friends grabbed towels and paper towels and started drying off chairs and rehanging fabric. It was a sight I will never ever forget.

For a moment, Bethany was left alone. My oldest son was begging to see her. I said, “son, you have 5 seconds to get in that room and get out.”

What that kid managed to do with his five seconds, I will never forget. I didn’t know about it until Bethany shared with me after the wedding.

My little almost-seven-year old said, “Bethany, you are the most beautiful bride and this will be the best wedding ever!” And off he dashed.


Friends, are you seeing the picture here? Scripture compares the children of God to a bride. We are the bride of Christ. Do you see it? We are not perfect. There is nothing about us that is perfect. Yet despite all of our plans and all of the mess, the mud, the blowing winds, the pouring rain, he waits for us. He knows us. He does not see the mud or the rain, but who we are meant and created to be.

Photographer #1 had not made it back. Bethany’s cousin’s awesome wife Sage made the call to go after her. And she missed the wedding because of it and she hit a deer because of it. But, with no cell reception the photographer couldn’t get in touch with me nor I with her. I didn’t know until it was all over that Sage went to find her.

Bethany was dressed, her dad was waiting, her mom was walking down the aisle with the dapper, young cousin John wearing his Air Force uniform. It was drizzling again. But, Bethany was on her way out the front door, arm-in-arm with her daddy. I was trailing behind holding the veil off the ground.



She looked amazing. We all looked like drowned rats. Really. But, she looked perfect! (Do you see the picture?)Bethany

THEN, we realized the wrong music was playing. I don’t even remember what the song was, but it wasn’t “Cora” from Last of the Mohicans.ceremony1

THEN, I realized the speakers were sitting on the stool that I was supposed to be standing on at the end of the ceremony for the most important photo Bethany wanted. The music guy (young, dapper John) didn’t get the memo about the photo op. The ceremony went on. Cousin Shannon was officiating.

The rain came down. Shannon read his well-prepared message.

Lightning appeared. I looked out and saw a crowd of tender, soaking wet and now-scared-for-their-lives guests shielded with umbrellas. So, I nudged Shannon, “you might want to skip to the vows…” After he got a jab in at me, he moved on to the vows. The audience chuckled. One guest cheered. I cried. Here was my dear  friend… getting married, and I was rushing it.

THEN, just like that… it was over. I started scrambling to get the speakers in the grass and off my stool. Come hell or high water, I was going to get that picture for Bethany. That was the only darn thing of the whole wedding we practiced and I wasn’t going to give up now. There they were… kissing as husband and wife and me looming right behind them to get THAT shot!


And, the wrong song was playing again. I don’t remember what it was, but it was not the Star Wars theme.

On to marriage license signing, photos, eating, popcorn.


Despite it all, Bethany was glowing. She was happy.

I know there are many of you former and yet-to-be brides reading this thinking, “I would die! I would be sick if all that happened to me on my wedding day!”

But no, Bethany did not let it rattle her. She watruck 1s married… to Anthony.


The other part to this picture that I see is Anthony, the groom. When the rain came down, he was steady, and at one point, sweeping rain out of mud puddles. He wanted it to be perfect for her. But, he was steady. At moments when we thought Bethany would lose it, she would ask how Anthony was and what he thought. Once she knew what he thought, she was settled. She let him guide her that day. Do you see it?field



When all the world seems to come crashing down around us, there is ONE who is steady, who is waiting to guide us. Most of us though, get distracted, and the circumstances around us shake us, rattle us to our core. We lose focus. We lose control, and we don’t like it.





Photos went on- families coming together for the first time. There was lots of rain, but there was lots of laughter.


Karen, Amanda, Mary S., Emma, Elizabeth, Sage, Rhea Marie, Rebecca all running, toting, decorating, redecorating (and so much more that I’m sure I’m unaware of).

After pictures were done, Anthony and Bethany headed to the house to greet the guests for the reception. The amazing, willing caterer (Uptown Catering in Berea, KY) moved everything to the garage.

As I walked from the house into the garage, I couldn’t hold the tears back. While we were out frolicking in the field for photos, dozens of hands moved all her lovely decorations into the garage and made it as Bethany as they could. I was overwhelmed with how cheerfully and how quickly and beautifully they went to work.

You can ask any kid there if there was ever a better wedding, and I assure there has not been. The kids had so much fun playing, running in the rain, eating popcorn until they popped. Friendships were made crossing state lines.

the kids

That’s the other picture. Look closely: do you see the fanfare of children cheering as Bethany and Anthony make their exit from the ceremony?  Dirty, messy, sopping wet, darting in and out of the aisle during the ceremony, chasing each other, racing, comparing popcorn creations all night. But, it only made the day better. You could feel it, that it was OK, it didn’t matter- that they were welcome. We were all having fun, and they just needed to remind us.

The rained had passed, the party was still going. Bethany requested we  have cake in the woods, so everyone could enjoy the lights and the beautifully set table. So the convoy readied themselves with cakes and flowers and out to the woods they went.


It was a glorious end to the drenched day. And this is a sight I will also never forget- the bride and her groom, eating their cake just outside the spotlight. They have each other and that’s all that matters. This photo says it all.

abestep 338_


And, just like that they were off… married… happy…



“And so it was, that {they} having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained what God has promised” Hebrews 1:6.



sigh… breathe…

The next morning, with her house a mess, dishes everywhere and lights still in the trees, Bethany’s mom and her friend Amanda, woke to the sounds of the grave diggers readying the grave for Mary’s dad.

It’s surreal…to think that Mary’s moments were so deeply felt with both joy and grief. That while she prepared for this day her only daughter would walk down aisle, she would share it with grieving her 98-year-old father.


After all of it, I told Bethany that I really believed that what she would remember from this day was how many people loved her and what they were willing to do to give the day she dreamed of. In the week Bethany was gone on her honeymoon, I wondered how she processed it all. I worried she would be disappointed. When we finally talked, I was so relieved when she said, “Oh, Liz, all that happened weaves this beautiful picture of the day, of us…” She said one image she will never forget was peering out the window of her parents’ bedroom as she was preparing to walk the aisle, and seeing so many people scrambling and working to dry off chairs, thinking, “I can’t believe they would do this for me.”


Oh, I so wanted Bethany to have the perfect day. Her dear friend Amanda and I got to spend the next evening together as she prepared to head back to California. We laughed. We looked through all the wedding pictures. We said, “if we had it to do over again, we’d have matching umbrellas and we’d have waited a half hour more and ….”

But, really… where’s the fun in that story?


Credit should be given to some amazing, talented professionals:

Bethany’s dress was altered by friend Amy Barrick.

The wedding invitations and the guest book were designed by my dear friend Abbie Darst of Three Little Birds Designs.

The amazing food (It was so good!!!) was from Uptown Catering in Berea, Kentucky. (family friend). I cannot say enough about how flexible and professional and willing this team was! (You can reach them through facebook at their restaurant page: Mario’s.)

The cakes were made by Pam at Batter and Buttercream Custom Cakes in Richmond, Kentucky. (family friend)

 Bethany’s beautiful bouquet was dismantled and reconstructed to perfection by friend Mary Stewart.

The bride’s hair was styled by her mom. My storm-withstanding hair was styled by Hannah McFarland at Younique Salon in Berea.

Video, which I can’t wait to see, was filmed by Jon Maynard, friend from college.

Additional (adaptable) photographers: Johnny Farris and Lisa Hammond.


Annette Leone - September 11, 2013 - 9:31 pm

Oh Liz, you KNOW how much I love your photographs but, MAN, I do love how you recreate things so vividly with your words. Such a beautiful recreation of a day, the emotions and mostly the love. The reflection of how our heavenly Father joined two and ushered one home was beautiful and tender. I am thrilled for Bethany!!! Thank you so much for sharing, it touched on every single emotion. I’m going to go back now and read it all over again:-)


Gary & Barb True - September 12, 2013 - 12:40 am

Wonderful story! Proud of all you girls. Sending Karen off to college at Berea wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but certainly added lifelong friendships that make this old world a better place. Thanks for sharing!


Sheila - September 12, 2013 - 8:00 am

I loved this!


Missy LeMay - September 12, 2013 - 8:50 am

I loved reading the account of Bethany’s wedding. She so deserved the perfect wedding, and she got it. Surrounded by those who love her most! (personal note to Bethany: I’m sorry Star Wars didnt play for you! -So cool- Love you Bethany!) Congratulations to the Bride and Groom!


Pam Hembree-Batter & Buttercream Custom Cakes - September 21, 2013 - 5:10 pm

Wow Liz! You made me tear up a time or two reading this. Such an amazing account of Bethany’s journey. She will so cherish having this to look back on and share with her family. You did an amazing job as a friend, matron of honor, and photographer. The pictures are wonderful and tell the story so perfectly! Congrats to Bethany and Anthony! I hope they have a wonderful life together!


Penny de Tuanama - September 25, 2013 - 9:50 pm

Crying my eyeballs out! I’m so happy for Bethany! So glad we serve such a great big wonderful God who loves to redeem everything! The photographs make everything look like the best of dreams! Beautiful work! Such talent! Love you bunches Liz!


Johnb905 - April 29, 2014 - 5:13 am

I like this weblog so considerably, saved to my bookmarks. kgefeggfekff


we are fans - October 24, 2014 - 3:28 am

I’ve been reading the posts, we absolutely concur as to what Sam said.


Fall 2013 mini sessions announced!!! | Lexington, KY photographer

Fall Mini Sessions

Fall 2013 minis









Please choose your date and time from below and e-mail me at

Friday, October 25 (Berea)







Saturday, October 26 (Lexington location)






Friday, November 1  (Paint Lick or our farm)







Coming Soon!

Costume Minis Oct. 30th. 10am-noon; 4-7pm  at the studio 10 minute sessions. $35 includes one digital image

Christmas Minis Nov. 16th  10am-3pm at the studio 15-minute sessions. $50 session fee (above mini session pricing applies)

school days…

we are back to {home} school…


























We have two first days: we start with our first day back to our Classical Conversations community and our second day is our first day of school at home.  These first pictures were taken before we headed off to CC.






























The boys get excited about CC starting back, but not so much about mom teaching them, so we make it as fun as we can. This year I added a Kindergarten countdown for Walker, but all the boys had their shot at popping balloons.





























and “my one weakness” (if you’re a Lark Rise to Candleford fan) with schooling is well, school supplies… and, er… curriculum… and, er… books… and decorating a school room:). I’m not sure how the rest of you do it, but I was up pretty late every night the week before- not just working on school stuff, but trying to get a lot accomplished before school started and summer was gone.




























When you’re the teacher and the parent, this can double your excitement and your budget, as well as your stress. Like the rest of traditional school moms, I was shopping (online, I might add) for  back to school clothes (OK, it was one outfit for each boy), running through Wal-mart and the Dollar Tree hunting for school supplies (the day after most of the rest of you were settled into your school routines) and hunting on amazon for the perfect first-day of kindergarten book for our not-so traditional school setting (which I should have done WAY before I did). Good thing for me, I purchased and prepared most of their curriculum back in the spring.























And like traditional school teachers, I was decorating a school room (really at the 11th hour… literally…) with school supplies, art supplies, paper lanterns and pennant flags (I just love those darn things!).



















Like many moms, I was up late the night before putting special treats in brand new lunch boxes, and up at the crack of dawn our first morning making a hearty breakfast.



































Like the typical teacher, I was making name tags and making copies and making things feel nice for little ones.







Like many moms, I got my camera ready.

Then, I  blew up balloons and tied them to their chairs. I made a last sweep of the room. And, with three eager boys with uncombed hair at the top of the stairs awaiting my signal,(they’d sat there with their new clothes on for near an hour because for some crazy reason they decided to wake up an hour earlier than normal!), I positioned myself in the schoolroom with the camera and called them down.  I’m really kicking myself for not getting that little three-year old a haircut!)




























The boys were greeted with balloons, new books, notebooks, pencils, maps, treats… and really a new school room. We’ve done school in the livingroom, on the front porch, in the corner of my office and at the kitchen table, but I needed, at least for this season, somewhere to keep it all. So in March, we started converting my office to the schoolroom.  It was used as a dumping ground for most of the summer. But, the few days before, we really kicked in to high gear and got it finished. I think the 17-cent notebook was the biggest hit, of all things.





























Then, I worked on their hair a little, the three-year old decided he wanted to start school, I edited one of last year’s signs for him real quick and we jumped outside for some “first day with mommy shots”. Walker really wanted these because the outfit he really wanted to wear to the first day of CC didn’t arrive on time, so we did more “first day outfit” photos. (Pay no mind to Walker’s face- he was ready to go eat breakfast!)
































I’m not sure how it works in your house, but with these three guys, you cannot do for one without doing almost the exact same thing for the others. So, I had already set Tristan up a spot to “do school” with supplies, lunchbox, etc., but with no real plans of doing preschool work with him. We’ll see how long he’s up for it:).











I found a little first-day interview on pinterest (big surprise, right?) and we got to talk about what they wanted to be when they grew up. And then, the best part of the day happened:




























The day before Walker was asked this question at our first day of Classical Conversations and his response was “a police”. So I asked him if he wanted to write that down. He shook his head, “No, because then I would probably arrest my brother and put him in jail for stealing my stuff, and I don’t think I want to arrest my brother. So, I think I’ll be an ambulance guy and take him to the hospital when he gets hurt. I think God would be proud of me for that, don’t you?” Whoa! Walker, hold up… I went from laughing hysterically to tearing up in seconds.





















































I realize this photo is way out of focus, but I still love it! Liam was the photographer:)



Our first day back was a light day. We pulled out some of their educational games and sticker books, and finished up the last pages of their workbooks from last year (that we’d planned to finish over the summer).



























This shot wasn’t planned, but he still loves that same bear and wanted me to take teddy’s first day photo. My how my boy has grown.









Hopefully, I’ll get my act together soon and post Liam’s first day of kindergarten a couple years ago. And, maybe a schoolroom post, too.






















Disclaimer: this is not how everyday life looks. I like to make the first day over-the-top special, mostly because I see lots of things on pinterest the boys would love and I think I need to do them all:). I tend to make life a little more overwhelming than it needs to be. I find myself looking through other photographer’s blogs or homeschooler blogs or decorating blogs and asking how do they manage it all. They don’t. There are opportunity costs to all that you put your energy into. Something has to give somewhere. For me, this week it was sleep and a little bit of sanity. And maybe your kids eat lots more sit-down, yummy meals than mine do. Maybe you play in the yard with your kids more than I do. Maybe you spent the summer canning the produce from your garden. Was it worth it all? In some ways, yes. My boys felt really special and didn’t fight or grumble their first two days of school. In other ways, there’s lots more important things to spend one’s time and energy on. Sometimes, I have a hard time sorting that out. And, I like to have pictures of everything, which can sometimes be the motivating factor for me.

Grand Finale… Welcome Home, Rakkasans! | Berea, KY photographer

My sister-in-law is the picture of calm and collected… steady…

When her husband has been away for eight months…. when she’ll see him in a couple hours, a few minutes, or in just a few seconds, she’s still steady. She’s glowing… she’s smiling… laughing… but, she’s steady…



We’d never been to their home at Ft. Campbell. Our first stop on the base was just in time to catch our niece’s dance recital. What a treat!


Just as soon as she came off stage, we were off… off to family parking where we loaded onto to buses which took us to the hanger where the arriving soldiers’ plane would land.

As we waited, my SIL and the kiddos worked on signs and played. A couple hours passed and the call was made that the plane would land soon. The hoards of family and friends poured out into the bright sunlight and looked to the skies…


And that’s when baby boy E. made his first escape. Yeah, I know… 3 adults, 6 kids and the smallest one gets away… pretty far away. We pretty much all stopped breathing for about 3 minutes, three very eternity-like minutes… and his uncle Charlie, ol’ eagle eyes, spotted him on some bleachers!

Once the plane was spotted, everyone moved closer to the barricades. SIL was steady as she stood just behind the kiddos hanging over the fence and me with the zoom lens hanging over their heads.



We watched the plane taxi (it seemed like forever!). The crowd cheered when the plane stopped and the honor guard marched toward the plane.

We waited. And waited.

The door opened. The crowd cheered. And cried.

We waited.

The first soldiers emerged. The crowd cheered.



They were so far away from us still, everyone was intently focused on each soldier walking by the crowd, looking for their own soldier.

Finally, I spotted BIL through the zoom lens. Ol’ Eagle Eyes behind me (with no zoom lens) saw him at the same time. We yelled at him… we wanted him to see his kiddos with their signs over the fence… waiting for daddy… (excuse me, I need to grab a tissue… be right back…)

The soldiers filed by us, moving into formation outside the hanger. Once they were all lined up, the crowd was directed back inside the hanger.


We waited. A command was called.

The hanger doors, six men on each door, were opened wide. The sunlight poured. The soldiers marched. WOW!!!


Maybe it’s because I’m a mom, maybe it’s because I’m a mom of three boys… but, I thought about BIL’s mom, who is a mom of three boys, and how she would feel once she got the word that he was home and he was safe. (eh-hem, tissue moment… back to the fun stuff!)

I love these kiddos. They were so excited! Niece said, as the soldiers were filing in, “I’m so happy I could scream!!!” and Nephew One said, “Aunt Liz, I ate my last skittle at the bottom of my jar today. That means Daddy’s home!” He had been counting the days with skittles:).

And the search for Daddy began. Charlie stayed in the bleachers with our boys which was a great place for Uncle Eagle Eyes to be.

After they prayed, the soldiers were released to find their families. We kept looking for Charlie’s direction. He could see BIL and us.



JHC2013 12

We were close. Getting so close. I yell to SIL, “Charlie says he close, like right here…” I turn around, quite startled to find SIL pointing down and laughing, crying with their kiddos hanging off daddy’s neck. really? I missed “the moment”? But, SIL was still laughing (at me) and crying. She has a great laugh, just like her brother.


And, wouldn’t you know, with all that laughing and crying and hugging, we managed to lose the baby AGAIN… right there, with my camera pointed right at him… in a crowd of probably more than a thousand people or more. POOF. Escape artist. (If you scan the photos, you can see baby… and then you don’t)

And Uncle Eagle Eyes came tothe rescue. He prayed. God directed. Found him climbing bleachers again.

OK, back to hugging and happiness and together…


I like the last shot a lot… says “daddy’s home now… here we go”.


Welcome home Rakkasans!

Tim Lawson - May 22, 2013 - 12:05 pm

Awesome! Praise the Lord for Jeff’s safe return. And, Liz…you are amazing with that camera! Rejoicing this morning!


Annette Leone - June 24, 2013 - 11:54 am

Holy COW Liz, what powerful photograhy!!! (We took tissue breaks at the same time!!!!) I loved those kiddos smiles…HUGE!!!!!! So thankful that men of integrity like Jeff, are protecting our country! Thank you Jeff and welcome home and thanks to Tiffany for holding down the fort!!!


life with superheros…| Berea, Kentucky photographer

It’s spring. There is life. And, it is loud… louder in the spring…

so… outside we go…

Let’s be honest…

raising boys is… LOUD…

even when they’re outside…


And what are pint-sized farm-flying superheros without a front-porch, bluegrass uke pickin’?

(I love the expression on little T’s face… it looks like a happy accident, but no, that’s one of his famous faces that I love!)

I’ve been dreaming up these photos for about two years… it’s not quite what I had in mind, but that involves rain (not tornadoes and thunderstorms that we’ve had in recent weeks!) and I just may have to wait on my wishlist:).

I’ve pictured this with primary colors (the ukes came later) and I got lucky that my fellows each love one of these colors. We color code everything for them here. It makes life much easier when they can have the exact thing in their own color:). Can you believe I found ukuleles in red, yellow and blue?!

Back to boy-raising… and honesty…

Where was I? Oh yeah… boys are loud…really, really LOUD!

And, well, farmer daddy and I are slow learners and don’t always have our ducks in row…

Tonight, for instance… after a little photo session, I wanted to give them a treat. So, just a few minutes before bed time, I loaded them up with Ale8 (a real treat, we don’t keep that around) and lemon bars… YEAH, I KNOWnot SMART… they’re louder NOW!  Not only are they louder, they are currently sliding down the stairs on their bean bags… wait… what?! I’ll be back…


OK, I’m back… every one’s alive…

Farmer daddy is putting them to bed while I’m “working”;).

Parents of all girls probably get scared when they think about those who parent all boys… the dirt, the noise, the guns (everyTHING in the house is a gun or a sword. A mama can’t even have a broom be a broom around here), the cars, trucks, trains, tractors, the noise…


But… nail polish and hair bows (well, actually brushing hair) scares me… I’m cut out for this life with boys… most days, anyway:)

I love raising little caped crusaders. Matter of fact, during this little photo fiasco, at one point from all three boys I heard, “Don’t worry mom, I’ll protect you… with my strong muscles… with my yight savor (light saber)… I’ll get all the bad guys…”

Only little boys stand around and cheer when a stopped-up toilet is plunged and  a catastrophic overflow is averted.

We are celebrating and sighing now… while they are yet little and still dependent on us for most things, they are growing and thriving… independently… “L” cleans two bathrooms weekly and is a reading maniac (this is the one I thought I had scarred for life and who might never pick up a book!); “W” & “T” share the chore of putting away flatware and serving utensils; “T” is well on his way to completely dressing himself; “W” is reading now (typing that gets me weepy, that’s 2 out of 3).

Just moments ago, the oldest of the three went to the restroom before bed. (this was when all the cheering and plunging was going on). Quite some time later, he said, “hey, mom…” from behind the nearly-closed bathroom door. I could see a little sliver of him from my desk in my bedroom. “L…,” I snapped, “why are you not in bed yet, why are you still in there?”… “Mom, I was just looking at you… at how pretty you are…” me, hunched over with bad posture typing away, squinting at the screen… sigh…

And, as he came to say goodnight, his two little brothers popped out of their room and lined up to each plant three kisses on my cheek. I don’t deserve those dudes, not a one…

they are forgiving (more so when Ale8 is available)… and they are snuggly… and they like to have fun… and they would prefer that I didn’t yell… I’m working on that…

I’m working on a lot… and  failing a lot

I’m learning treasure troves from them… not just about parenting…

but about being human and sharing life… and nurturing souls… of  super heros…

who may grow up and change the world!

please note that I have a very talented friend who makes playing outside with three little boys look good… for Easter, she made these superhero capes for my fellows, all in their preferred colors with matching seersucker ties. Kelly at Faith and Fancy loves my custom crazy requests… well, she pretends to love them;). And, we love the results!!!

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chris - April 24, 2013 - 4:41 am

these are awesome pics…and i’m a tough critic. keep it up! You’re raising up the next generation of lovers of God.


Danielle - April 24, 2013 - 10:44 am

Looks like a scene (a much better photographed one) from our house on any given day. Boys are loud and they’re rough. I’m learning (slowly) to deal with that too. I loved, loved, loved both the post and the pictures! I was in tears while reading about how pretty your one son said you were. The innocent truth is beautiful and you are beautiful!


Liz - April 24, 2013 - 7:37 pm

Thank you Danielle! I always enjoy reading comments from you :) . I know your little guys have quite grown since I saw them!


Liz - April 24, 2013 - 7:37 pm

Thank you Chris!


Yolanda - April 26, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Oh my. I just love the photos and this post. They are the most precious superheroes I’ve ever seen. And even though I just saw them an hour ago, this makes me want to see them again SOON!