Archive: December 2009   |   View all recent posts

12.31.09Personal

Happy New Year!




W
ith the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2010, Karen and I thought we would share some New Year's quotes and thoughts with you. We hope you are anticipating good tidings, many blessings and good will for 2010. Karen and I do not make resolutions to be broken but we do make plans for the new year and a few of ours are:
to serve others better, have more heart, be better listeners, observe more, to love more and to live one day at a time.
Thank you all for making 2009 a memorable year. May 2010 be a year of hope, of peace and joy and may your heart be happy.

Happy New Year!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
Albert Einstein

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given;
While angels sing with tender mirth,
A glad new year to all the earth.
~Martin Luther

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~Benjamin Franklin

It wouldn't be New Year's if I didn't have regrets. ~William Thomas

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling;
He who makes one is a fool.
~F.M. Knowles

“Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”
William Arthur Ward

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it.” T.S. Eliot

“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time.” T.S. Eliot

“Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.” T.S. Eliot

“There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.” T.S. Eliot

Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear, and with a manly heart.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Let this coming year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do but couldn't find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You'll look ten years younger. Don't be afraid to say, 'I love you'. Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.
Ann Landers

Nothing is worth more than this day.
Goethe

Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past. Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.
Brooks Atkinson

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.
Henry Ward Beecher

When we once begin to form good resolutions, God gives us every opportunity of carrying them out.
St John Chrysostom

You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance. Psalm. 65:11

Here are some photographs we hope will encourage and inspire you.















12.27.09Children/Families

Greensboro Baby Photography - Addison




W
e've known Heather for quite a few years now and had the pleasure of photographing her beautiful wedding in the fall of 2008 and then recently had the pleasure of photographing Heather and Yates' beautiful baby girl, Addison. We are looking forward to documenting Addison's first year with "Watch Me Grow" and will be sharing more photos of Addison throughout the year. For now, here are a few of my favorites from our first session.

A baby girl is a treasure rare;
A sweet pink angel, a little doll,
Nothing else can quite compare.
Her smiles and coos will bring you joy;
She'll fill your hearts with love and pleasure;
So cherish these special infant times,
With your little girl, your precious treasure.
~By Joanna Fuchs~












12.24.09Personal

Christmas in the Slate Kitchen




T
he kitchen is a gathering place in our home. Karen enjoys cooking and baking so around the holidays our home is filled with the fragrant aromas of breads and cookies ...

Karen invited Lindsey, Layla and Adalei, Christy and Bradyn over to bake cookies. It was more about the fun, fellowship and time together ... boy did Bradyn and Layla enjoy it! They cut out shapes with cookie cutters from Rice Krispie Treats and then decorated them. By the way, Adalei, now two weeks old, slept through her first annual Christmas bake in Nana's kitchen.

Christmas is about many things... some like cooking in their kitchen while others enjoy getting out in the crowds doing last minute shopping. It's a time for family and friends, a time we get excited about receiving a special gift from someone.
Christmas to me is about giving ... giving from the heart. Giving when it hurts, sacrificial giving. So many times we give out of obligation but when we give to those who are truly in need, that's when the Christmas magic works it's wonders. I'd like to share with you a little Christmas story that means a lot to me. I hope it warms your heart as much as it does mine.

Merry Christmas and God Bless

"CHRISTMAS WOOD"
(AUTHOR UNKNOWN)

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible; instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though; I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.

But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.

Pa was already up on the seat reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed.. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?" "I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips.. They're out of wood, Matt."

That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.

When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. "Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunnysacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?

Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, and then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the a sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.

She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.

In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time.. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.


At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, "'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and I have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough.

Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and I were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunnysacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.

For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensen's, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night; he had given me the best Christmas of my life.



















12.19.09Personal

Things That Warm My Heart




I
t's cold as whiz out today and we got our first snow last night. As usual down south, it has paralyzed the city. Though my hands and feet are chilled to the bone my heart is warm with thoughts of our little ones. Lindsey and Neil have Adalei all settled in and Layla is becoming the perfect big sister. She loves to hold Adalei. Anything Lindsey needs Layla is ready to help. Layla asks some really sweet questions that tell me she is working hard to figure this sister thing out. Adalei is so pretty ... I love to get close to her and listen to all the baby sounds and rub my nose against her face.

Nick and Christy had a Christmas party last night, Karen is recovering from the flu so I stayed with Bradyn. We had a great time playing super heroes and decorating his room. When he finally got sleepy I read him a couple of Bible stories, and laid beside him. After about 10 minutes I thought he was asleep but then he rolled over, looked at me and said ... "papa, I love you" ... a million dollars wouldn't have had as much impact on me as hearing Bradyn's words.

















12.14.09Weddings

NC Wedding Photography - Ben and Laura Leigh




D
ecember weddings are so very pretty! Beautiful poinsettias everywhere and lights sprinkled all about add to the festive decor ... and happy faces everywhere you look. Who had the happiest faces this past weekend? Ben and Laura Leigh and for a good reason ... it was their big day to tie the knot! We started the wedding coverage Saturday morning with the girls getting hair and make-up done at a private residence and finished late that evening with a lovely reception at Graylyn in Winston Salem.

As I share some of my favorite photos, I hope you can feel the joy and love Ben and Laura Leigh have for each other, their family, and friends.

Best wishes to Ben and Laura Leigh now and for years to come. Thank you for allowing us to join you on your most special day!




































 
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