Christmas Post Part I

This year I had too much Christmas happiness for one post. Well, I mean, I could have put it all in one post, but I know that no one would read the whole thing. In order that you may actually know all about my Christmas happiness, I have three posts lined up :D

I will start with the shortest one since I am tired right now and my bed is looking at me like it wants to eat me. Without further ado, Christmas Post I:

Christmas Eve Service Choir

The background you need to make this story understandable: I have a dream list, I don't know how to sing (friends tease that I'm not an alto or soprano, but just tone deaf :D ) and I go to a church that does a Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas Eve service/show.

So there I was one Sunday morning at about 10:00 reading through the little bulletin, with various announcements. "We are looking for people to join the Christmas Choir to perform at the Christmas Eve services. 18 and older, no formal experience needed. E-mail Brittany Kauflin for details or to sign-up."
For some odd reason, I really thought this was something I should do. After all, number 25 on my dream list was "Perform Something on Stage." Choir's perform on stage, and I sure wasn't going to be doing a tap-dance solo on stage anytime soon! To the shock, awe, laughter and even horror of my friends, I signed up. Kristen ChristmasChoirSinger Snyder - oooo, that has a nice ring to it.

(me, my new and awesome friend Liz, and my old and awesome friend Lyd on performance night)

The first day of Choir practice came on a dangerously cold Monday. I literally ran inside the church to the room above the bookstore. The people walking in ahead of me grabbed black binders, so I did too.
"Shoot, it's sheet music. I hope I don't have to use this."
I have a number of funny stories about the reactions I got from me being there, as well as the things I said while I was there (by the way, in music when someone is telling you to sing "before" they might be meaning the chord "B4.")
I didn't really know what I was doing. I certainly didn't come prepared with a highlighter and pencil. I wasn't taking sips of lukewarm water throughout the night. I wasn't holding my binder properly (not that I was looking at it anyway.) I was the only who thought fortissimo sounded delicious. But I made my way through the night, and actually had lots of fun.

Fast forward a few weeks, and it was the dress-rehearsal. All of us choir-lings were cheery, festive and taking it waaaaay more seriously then we needed to be, but thats alright :D We shuffled to our spot on stage, I fumbled around looking for the page to be on (turns out the sheet music is awesome - if you know what you are looking at...) and then smiled my head off. I sang too, but mostly smiled. I was having a ball. Like the ball Cinderalla went to? That was the kind of ball I was having on my face. I was just SO happy. The words to the songs were amazing, everyone sounded so good, I was standing next to someone playing a french horn and that's just cool. I loooooved it.

We finished our little singing introduction then got to watch the 40 minute show before we had to sing again. I was very much looking forward to seeing it! But I was a little surprised I was impacted as I was.

There was one scene where Jesus and two disciples were with a blind man. The disciples were trying to figure out why he was blind. Why had God "punished" him with blindness? Was it his fault? Was it his parents fault? Who was to blame?

Jesus' beautiful answer:
“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the glorious works of God might be displayed in him."
{john 9:3}

I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Wow. How amazing is that?

I loved it. As I sit there watching the rest of the play, I couldn't help but think about how God really does put certain things in our lives for reasons - good reasons! Glorious reasons! They aren't cruel punishments, but ways for us to show the world about how good God is! To reflect Him and His name!

Whether you are in a season of suffering or rejoicing, looking or finding, waiting or acting, crying or laughing - or some combination of those, we know that God is doing something. It's not in vain, it's not for no reason and it's not without hope. And it's all to bring Him glory!
I sat there in my white shirt and black pants, bleary-eyed, thinking about my life. Oh, how I want this time to be well spent. I want the "glorious works of God" to be displayed in me.

Through working as a photographer - God be glorified!
Through being a friend - God be glorified!
Through being a sister and daughter - God be glorified!

I needed that 15-second scene to be reminded of what this is all about. I was sweetly reminded of why I celebrate Christmas and why I can sing the songs that I do!

Shortly after that little "moment" we all rose and took our places on stage for the final segment of singing.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

I started tearing up.

"Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary."

My lips started quivering.

"Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Ah, let the tears flow.

And I was a mess - God be glorified!


Brooke and Nathan

For the very first time, I am speechless.
Usually - no always - on my blog, I am the one who writes. I tell you about the couple, share my personal favorite moments of the day, and so on.
Well, today, I am going to let my bride, Brooke, and her now-husband-Nathan guest blog. I get teased a bit for the over-the-top-romantic (also referred to as "cheesy") things I say on my blog, but I stand behind everything I say and personally like all that kind of stuff.
I have met my match.
I cannot come up with anything better to say then what Brooke and Nathan told me about themselves in the "About Us" section of their contract. When I read what they wrote, I got chills. "If this is what they say in a quick formality for their photographer, I can only imagine what they will be like at their wedding!" I wasn't dissapointed - they are an exceptional couple.
But, I will let Brooke and Nathan take it from here:

"[The feel of our wedding is] elegance, simplicity, intimate yet formal."

(This is a quick Kristen interruption. I will post on this a bit later this week, but I did buy all new camera equipment, and this was my first wedding using all of it. I was getting a little tired of Jessica and Jasmine and yourmom raving about the 50mm 1.2, so I had to see for myself. I bought it.
And all of you people who told me it was like butter? Away with you! Off with your head!
It's more like melted butter whipped with liquid silk thoughtfully blended in a bowl made of... clouds. And dripped onto the background of pictures like the background is warm cake. Butter my foot. End interruption)

2. What do you love about your bride?
"Brooke burns with energy."

"Brooke has the most strikingly sophisticated profile and visage I’ve ever seen."

"Her personality complements her formidable appearance with approachability, openness, ease, and energy.
I love this impossible combination."

"Make sure you capture her eyes (if such a thing were possible)."

4. How did he propose?
"('Exactly as I would have wanted!' - Brooke) He intercepted Brooke in New York on a train back to DC from New England."

"He took her to Central Park. They hired a horse and buggy. They trotted into the meadows. He pulled out a book of plays. He read a passage about creation finding its purpose, fulfillment. He told her that with her, creation would become complete. He held her hand and asked if she would marry him. She said yes. They both cried."

"He gave her the most beautiful ring a man ever designed."

We intend to express our Faith in Christ..."

(sorry, me again. I just LOVE the kiss! Adorable :D )

"Make sure you capture the golden fall of her hair. Mountain streams lament for its beauty."

(Hi :D I just had to say - it was ridiculously cold. Coldcoldcoooold. But Brooke and Nathan were determined to get to The National Christmas Tree for at least a few pictures. Brooke kept telling me "It's worth it! Good pictures are worth the cold!" Man, do I have fantastic brides, or what?)

"We love to embrace, even when it makes a walk down the street or a visit to a couch a bit impractical."

"We love the theater, together."

"We love traveling together. A picnic together. An aimless walk in a sculpture garden together. "
"We love our time in God’s Word together."
"Everything that we do, we now want to do together."

"Nathan is the most brilliant man I have ever encountered. I love that when he wears his glasses (Prada) he looks like the most brilliant man I’ve ever encountered."

"I love that when he doesn’t wear his glasses, he looks like a little preppy boy (Roman nose, movie star hair)."

"[The feel of our wedding includes] our enjoyment and experience in fine things – Europe, classical piano and song, roses, white marble, candelabras."

Oh my my my.

The big Christmas tree outside Old Ebbitt Grill made for some wonderful bokeh! Yay!

One of my favorite "exit" pictures of all time:

Also one of my favorite exit vehicles of all time: a classy vintage limo. So awesome!

Alright, after all that love and joy, here is their slideshow! Brooke and Nathan, your wedding is simply amazing - and God was so glorified! It was "overwhelmingly wonderful" :D

And special, special thanks to Kip from Kip Pierson Photography and Andree from Andree Kless Photography for shooting with me! You guys were great!


Garrett and Elise got engaged!

Wow. What a day. Whaaat a day.
I'm trying to figure out how to begin the post.
Should I start back almost six years ago when they started to like each other - as little highschool sophomores? Two summers ago when Garrett kept staring at Elise at our youth-team meeting? Last October when they officially began dating? My little heart-to-heart with Elise when she told me that she couldn't imagine her life without Garrett? Or maybe a few Saturdays ago when Garrett told me 'It's happening the 19th - can you be there?'"

Psh. I don't know. Maybe I can just start the day of. December 19, 2008. It was a wet, dark, cold, gloomy day in Maryland. I woke up early and got everything ready for my 3-hour-drive to Williamsburg, VA. I knew the plan, I knew the place, I knew the time. I just had to get there. After arriving, I met up with Garrett and his whole family and we drove into the amazing, beautiful, historic, wonderful, cozy little town of Williamsburg.

The rained had completely stopped, and the sun was starting to peak through. And Garrett was very, very excited. Ohsoexcited.

He walked me to "the spot" and gave me a few final insructions. And he was off to get get Elise for their "quick walk before dinner." I waited and waited. I sat behind a well. And waited.

AAAAAaaaAAAwwwww happened :D

I've gotten to know Garrett, and Elise especially, well over the last year. They are both hard workers, who love their Savior, their church and their families. I have learned so much from them as singles and as a couple about patience, trusting God, being faithful to the tasks set before you and being adorable when you are in love :D

Looking at these pictures gives me goosebumps. They are so incredibly happy :D

After the got engaged, the first thing I heard Garrett say was "What's that line from Elf? 'I'm in love! I'm in love! And I don't care who knows it!'"

Elise checking out her blingbling. If you were to describe Elise's style, it would be definitley be something like "Beyonce's Golden Christmas" ;) juuust kidding (inside joke)

Oh, and dear friends. As they walked to dinner, the sky turned pink. I LOVE when the sky is pink. It was one of the most amazing pink skies I have ever seen. My heart started to race it was so beautiful.

And since it had rained, the wet streets and buildings reflected the pink-ness everywhere. It was like an old watercolor painting. I can't imagine a better evening to get engaged!

That is so happy :) :) When Elise was walking, she kept sighing these big, long, sweet sighs. Then she would burst out laughing and put her hand on her head and be like "I can't believe this!" Then she would be really, really quiet. Until you heard another long sigh....

After they got engaged, Elise and Garrett had dinner with all their parents and siblings (and me haha) at a splendid old tavern. We even got a special house to eat in! It was totally seperate from the restaurant - we literally sat in an old dining room in a little house all by ourselves, in a room lit by six candles. It was amamamazing.

That food. Oh my, the food. It was miarcle food, I think. It was SO good.

In Williamsburg, the staff dresses and talks just like they did back in 1776 :D It's too much fun! During dinner this man came in and played some lovely tunes for us! I enjoyed it so much!

They also had a little army parade down the street with flutes and drums - cuuuuute!

And one last picture of Elise with her mom - and Matron of Honor :D You two have an amazing relationship. What a joy!

Congratulations Elise and Garrett! Enjoy the slideshow AND the song you picked :D

I hope you two are happier then you ever thought you could be, and I am thrilled that you two are finally engaged - after alllll those years!