8.1.13

Harris Family | Portrait Session

But the lesson is vague in the lightening,
Shows a dear with her mind on the moor.
And now something with the sun is just different

Since they shook the earth in 1904.
Tallest Man on Earth - 1904
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Before ice-skating lessons in 1998, my mom stopped into the Christian bookstore across from the rink.  I had on leggings and a emerald green sweatshirt and skates-with-guards.  I was looking forward to being 10-years-old ("just ten more months until I'm ten!"), and my family had recently relocated from the intensity of the Washington DC area to the chill-back-bro area of San Diego, California.  And I mostly just wanted to go ice-skating.  Tara Lipinski already practiced 12 hours a day... this bookstore stop was cutting into my 1.5 hours!  "Kristen, do you know who this is?"  Mom showed me the back of a black and white book.  There was an "old," dark-haired 21 year old in the picture.  I had no idea who he was.  "This is Joshua Harris, he wrote this book and he works at our old church in Maryland now.  And he's only 21."  I had to admit, it was pretty cool that anyone from my old church - whether I knew who he was or not - was on the back of a book at a store all the way in Escondido.  Mom and I enjoyed our little "celebrity siting" moment, and that was that.
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Now, nearly 15 years later, I've seen and heard and talked with the Back Of The Book Guy a lot.  By the time we moved back to Maryland, he was married.  There was a baby.  And another book.  And a baby.  And another book.  And a baby.  And another book.  For over a decade Josh always seemed "the same" to me.  Nice, cheerful guy.  Full of energy and short-guy jokes.  Eager, spirited and good in front of people.  His children were adorable, his wife was always precious and pretty.
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But in the last two or three years, I feel like I've gotten to watch change become different.  Not because I personally know him or his family very well, but even watching from "the outside" there is a change.  His sensational mother suddenly died a few summers ago.  The next summer he began the process of leading a church through it's greatest trial yet.  I've watched Josh weep.  I've watched him collapse in front of thousands of people.  I've watched him apologize.  I've watched him make decisions and take the heat afterwards.  I've watched him honor his mother, through pursed lips and quivery prayers.  There's been a change.  A depth.  Josh is still friendly and eager, but, like Noah & The Whale say "Some people wear their history like a map on their face."
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And I like it.  The hour I spent with Josh, off-stage, out of office, away from ministry and "work", just home, with his personality-full children and clever, perceptive wife was just oh-so-real.  They were running late.  Outfits were in question.  The cat was missing.  Children chased each other.  Dishes were in the sink. Josh wasn't "back of the book" Josh.  He was dad.  He was normal.  He didn't seem 21, he seemed upper-30's.  And real, and a little tired (a lot tired?) and happy.
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There is hurt and experience and delight and unknown that the man I saw in the fall knew, that the man I saw in 1998 didn't.  Shannon is the same way.  Ever lovely and kind, she looks like she has stories to tell.  She has richness in her voice and sweetness in her eyes, but somehow she is tough as nails.  Like a Cape Cod cottage that has withstood the winter winds and summer floods, she lives on with more charm than before.  Emma, who is now older than I was when I "discovered" her father, is gentle, peaceful and calm.  She speaks in complete sentences, asks beautiful questions and seems not just thoughtful and attentive, but extremely constant for a child her age.  JQ is all "boy."  Not just "all sports boy" (he is that!) but all "boy."  He is filled with all kinds of facts and quips and ideas.  He is adventurous, theatrical, competitive and talkative.  He seems like the guy who would cry and mourn for a few days if his team lost the Super Bowl, or would rejoice and celebrate for months (years?) if they won.  He's all in.  In everything.  Mary Kate, the little firecracker, has a magnetic draw and hilarious demeanor.  She does not care what anyone thinks of her.  She is bold and free and incredible.  She has mischief written all over her face (I think it's in her mouth and dimples), but is absolutely impossible not to instantly "click" with.
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(The cat made it! Woo-hoo! Go Wasabi!)
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The time I spent with Josh + his family blessed and uplifted me more than probably any message I've heard him speak, or paragraph of his I've read.  Watching them really belly-laugh, tease and poke fun, figure out who got to hold the cat, interact and just be was special and important.   I love this family more after getting to know them better, in person, in life.
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And there's a lesson in that, isn't there?  No matter what someone is like, or how different or similar they are to you, when you get to know someone, your heart can't help but care for them more.  

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Harris' - you come to mind frequently throughout my days and weeks.  Keep laughing and loving and chasing.  You're a complex and interesting crew of people, and it's really wonderful that God gave you all each other.  You're great together.  I can't wait to watch your stories unfold - and hopefully I'll only be able to know you better and better.  You have my respect + my laughs (especially that Mary Kate!)

10 comments:

  1. oh, Kristen, these are gorgeous. you can just sense the peace & love that they have...it's overwhelmingly evident—even through a computer screen. lovely job capturing this family!

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  2. These are BEAUTIFUL, Kristen. Family portraits as they should be -- full of laughter, fun, joy, and freedom. :)

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  3. Oh this is so fantastic! I am so happy you got the opportunity to photograph the Harris'! I do not know them all personally, but have been a monthly attendant at Covenant life, and I love that you were able to capture (through words and photos) the craziness of this blessed family! Thank you for sharing all these lovely shots.

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  4. The colors in these images are so magical!

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  5. these are GORGEOUS! what a beautiful family! i once ran into Josh and his family in an airport and he was so gracious to this strange girl who just bolted up to him and introduced herself out of the blue :) thanks so much for sharing these!

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  6. stunning, these are lovely.

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  7. Great family photos - so full of life and energy and happiness. Incredible.

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  8. Some of my favorite family photos. Amazing!

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  9. Really loved the WORDS that accompanied this post (in addition to the pictures).

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  10. Heidi E12.1.13

    The as in THE Harris family. Oh wow! I loved reading his books! It's nice to see how he and his family have grown over the years.

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Oh, you've made my day! Thank you for the thoughts and words!