Wednesday, January 26, 2011

{on the calendar}

A few nights ago I sat on the couch, in between my Nana and Pappy, as we flipped through the latest addition of our family calendar. My aunt has made this her annual tradition, to compose a calendar with each new year--complete with pictures of the entire family as well as important dates in the lives of each member. Our family is not small, so this calendar is quite impressive…and reminds me that I have A LOT to keep up with!

As we laughed and reminisced about many of the old pictures included, we arrived at a picture of Nana Brock--my Nana’s mother. Pappy leaned over and said, “That Nana…she was a fine lady. Did you know her?” I quickly (and defensively) responded, “PAPPY!! Yes, of course I knew her!” I came into this side of the family later in life (by marriage--after my dad married my step-mom) so his question was relatively justified...but I think my quick response came from the known impact Nana Brock’s life had on mine. She was one of the sweetest, most thoughtful and respectable ladies one could ever meet. And you can clear that by anyone who knew her. At her funeral it was asked that anyone who had ever received a hand-written, personal note from Nana Brock please stand…I’ll have you know, that entire place was on its feet. It gave me chills as I remembered all of the meaningful notes she sent my way while I was off at college. Knowing what those meant to me, and realizing how many other lives she must have touched with similar notes. Thoughtful notes just letting us know she was thinking about and praying for us. And she was, faithfully.

One of my favorite stories involves my friend from high school, Jennifer, who was over at her great-grandmother’s house one afternoon. She was looking at pictures and all of the sudden spotted my graduation picture. She surprisingly said, “NANA! Why do you have a picture of Emily Crawford?!” Nana Brock responded, “Well that’s my great-granddaughter”! Little did we know that Nana Brock was the great-grandmother to us both. Like I said, I was her 'acquired' great-granddaugther as a result of marriage…but still! Wild. That’s one thing about having a large family, you never know who you are related to. Ha! You can be sure we all had a good laugh at that one.

Jennifer went on to marry another one of my high school friends, Jason. I must say, it is still a little strange flipping through the annual family calendar and seeing my old high school friends in there! :) However, I am proud to call them family and love that they are a part of it. I was blessed to recently take some maternity pictures for Jennifer, and was excited that Jason was willing to jump in on a few! And I’ll be even more excited when we can officially add their sweet expected, little Ava Grace, to our family calendar!

Congratulations, Jennifer and Jason…love you guys!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

{seek and surround}

It seems recently I've been hearing a lot about the importance of not only surrounding yourself, but seeking out, great people. Find people you want to emulate and get next to them. Sure, this can (and should) involve seeking out people you admire in the line of work you are pursuing...but my mind immediately drifts to character, and getting to know people with the kind of character I want to possess.

Rodger and Marlene Melton. These are two people who certainly possess this kind of character. Members of my home church, I got to know them mostly while attending Sunday School. Rodger was the leader of the class, and Marlene is his wife. I entered this particular class later in life, not much long after I started REALLY seeking the character of another man, Jesus Christ. And Rodger sought Him, too. I remember walking in each week and growing from the words he would share, and the Word he always shared. Always raw, open, and honest. And he let you be, as well. There were many times I saw him fight back tears as he told us about the way the Lord was working on his heart, and there were many times I saw him fight back tears as I shared the way the Lord was working on my heart. His authentic love for the Lord is undeniable. And Marlene...his partner in that. But it hasn't always been that way, and that might just be what I love most about them. Theirs is a story that speaks the truth and reality of God's redemptive love, through the life and death of His Son. It changes everything, and it changed them. These two love and encourage, they care. They ache for others and they pray for others. They long for people to know the One who is responsible for their concern. They are an humble family. And I admire and respect them with every ounce of my being.

Needless to say, I was honored when they asked me to take pictures of their sweet family.Especially honored since one person in that family is quite the talented photographer himself (which takes me back to mentioning the benefit of surrounding yourself with people you admire in your chosen career. He is definitely one to learn from, check out his work at!) Spread out all the way from Portland to Australia, they gathered together in Texas this year for Christmas, and I had the pleasure of capturing the reunion. We had a wonderful morning and I was reminded of how thankful I am to know such people.

Author Chip Ingram once said 1) we should all pursue great people 2) none of us will ever have the time. He noted that being busy is a great hindrance, and that while we will never truly "have" time in our schedule...we should make time.

Upon winding up the photo session, Rodger asked me if I would like to join their family for lunch. My mind immediately drifted to my long 'to-do' list and I respectfully declined. I somehow thought I'd be hindered by 'losing' that extra hour of my day. I soon realized what a poor decision I made...and will continually think about all I could have gained from that time.