Jamie + Randy | Engagement Portraits | Fraser River Lodge

"and after all my plans, 
they melt into the sand.
and you will be there on my mind through it all."
older -- band of horses
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Jamie was the surprise I didn't know I needed.  I've had a close community of friendships for my whole life.  Considering I and most of my friends were born into the same into church, we didn't have much choice but to become close.  We grew up side by side, doing the exact same things.  As adults now, as people who have started to do their own things, not the same things, we laugh at how different we are.  How unlikely it would have been for us to be close if we hadn't bonded in childhood.

So that's why Jamie took me by surprise.  I met her for the first time in my 20th year.  We roomed in Las Vegas together.  It was pleasant!  We talked most of the time!  But I certainly wouldn't have imagined in a few years we would be in each other's weddings.  It's easy to talk about our differences -- her family of four, my family of nine; her organization, my mess; her directness, my tendency to ramble; her efficiency and time-management skills, my more, uh, creative process for getting things done ;)  You could spend two minutes in our houses and cars and make a list of a dozen differences.

However, as we've been friends for years now, I'm always a little surprised at what we have in common.  Yes, two wedding photographers.  Two young single girls with businesses.  Lovers of travel.  Dated and married sweet, country-raised construction contractors.  Thinkers (not feelers).  Quality time love languages.  Our long talks on trains through Europe, over Skype across the coasts, face-to-face in Southern California, Pennsylvania, Seattle and Langley, and on car rides (traffic! flat tires! lost again!) have been sweet.  We've hurt each other's feelings, but given our personalities we immediately discussed.  It was refreshing.  Somehow our two strong selves appreciate the strength in the other woman, and that has lent itself to a steel friendship.

"They never stop to think 'what's in it for me?' or 'it's way too far.' They just show on up, with their big old heart. You find out who your friends are." Tim McGraw

Jamie brought her main-man Randy to Oklahoma in the fall.  She wanted us to meet her boyfriend, and she wanted to see our world in the midwest.  It meant so much, and she was the first friend of mine to visit our home-built-by-Caleb's-hands, Guthrie and Hoboken.  It was surreal to have one of my friend's in town.  And then when my mom passed away in January, I barely even knew she was coming before she was there in Maryland with me.  Right after the holidays, right in the middle of wedding planning, not a second thought.  She bought plane tickets, made plans to stay in the area, figured out her own ride, and cried in the row behind me during the memorial service.

Jamie was a surprise, but I found a friend indeed; a friend to the utmost.
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We've long processed, imagined and vented about our life vision.  We're both the kind of girls who didn't dream about "having someone to take care of us," as much as we wanted someone to "know us and team up with where we are already going."  Jamie said almost weekly "I'm going to be single until I'm 30."  And, yet, in that natural, weird, "it's happening" manner Rand-dawg became a part of her life and I almost forget he wasn't always around.  Jamz-icles (I'm sorry.  I blame my husband for the odd nicknames.  It's a Morris thing, and he calls them Rand-Dog Hound-Dog! And Jamsicles, like popsicles.  I always called her "Jamz" so these names have really morphed.)  We wanted men to come beside us, as we came beside them, because we were all really go the same way anyways.  For example, I didn't want to try to convince someone of my firm, strong beliefs about family-life, home and children.  My "calling" or passion is ultimately found in those places -- whether it's working for families at weddings, coaching middle school girls or delivering a firstborn son in the hospital.  I met Caleb and he was already there.  He was there more than I was.  And so it went for Jamie and Randy.  Their huge hearts for mission, ministry and business to collaborate together were instant connecting points.  Their generosity, work ethic and logical common sense gave them an eerie similar (and answer to prayer!) springboard to begin life together.  They love giving themselves to people, and only have grander and grander dreams in store.
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If there were ever such thing as a "good pair" it's them.  Talk about balance, skill set, team work, vision, and compatibility.  Between the two of them I don't think there is a single quality missing.  Except laziness.  She'd be the first to say it: "I'm a lot to handle!"  And it's true.  She is no paper-lily pushover.  What I love most about Randy with my dear friend is how well he knows her.  He is not jaded, or delusional.  He is steady, smart, patient and crazy about her -- the real her.  He calls her out, but all I hear from her is "He's such a good man.  He's such a kind man.  How did I come across this man?  I'm so lucky.  I can't believe it."  I can.  She's a diamond in the rough.  And this partnership, this relationship, this joined life is such a good thing.     photo JAMIE_RANDY_PREVIEW9of20.jpg
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Randy, thank you for your easy-going kindness, your time-honored loyalty, your concrete-strength, your sweet soft side.  Jamie, thank you for the memories made, the memories to come, for being next to me during marriage, death, and so many things in between (even though you live a whole country away.)  Go knock this world dead, change some lives, and laugh until Jamie is on the floor while you're at it.  All my love.
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The Whiteside Family | Home Family Sessions

“after all," anne had said to marilla once, 
"i believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those 
on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens
 but just those that bring simple little pleasures, 
following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” 
 l.m. montgomery | anne of avonlea
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The story of her life is charmed, relatable and yet entirely dreamy.  Anne of Avonlea has had a handsome way with words for years.  "...like pearls slipping off a string..."  The best part of her simile is the reality of a broken necklace.  Most women, no doubt, would moan and clench if their real pearl necklace snapped and the beads strolled off one by one.  There's the profundity: life rips apart sometimes, lots of times, but look!  Isn't it neat how the pearls slide off the string?  Simple pleasures,  small instances,  a crocus crown working to stand tall in the snow.  
And, so, here are the simple pleasures that can perhaps be missed in the breaking, the moaning, the frustrating.   The financial issues, the church issues, the relationship issues, the health issues, the house issues, the greater-world issues.  Here is a home, a family, a house and some of their best pearls.  Meet  steel-eyed Nora, and her copper hair.  She's the little lass of the household.  Her mama, Ashley, is an interior designer -- making the world around her beautiful is her speciality.  Nora's pops is a pastor and all-around good, kind man.  
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Currently this sweet family of three have friends living with them.   These friends are doing coffee-shop ministry.  They have given their life to creating comfortable, inviting spaces made for meeting and knowing people.  And, of course, drinking coffee.  "Come in!  Welcome!  It smells good, hey?  Sit for a while.  Come back again soon: bring friends."  Their love of people, all shapes and ages, and well-made coffee aren't just for "work," either.  Little Nora looks at them like I imagine she would look at the midnight stars.  They purposefully teach her the ropes, and she takes their confidence seriously.  She has each and every step of coffee-making memorized, written on her heart.  She copy-cats these two and her infectious pride and adoration is impossible to miss.  They even do yoga together!
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Okay, so the coffee was a little weak.  And the meditation and exercise benefits are a little cut short when a toddler is your teammate.  One pearl, two pearls slipping off the strand.  Simple pleasures, little stories, memories made.
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Special games with daddy fill the house and murmur onto the front porch.  Story time is where imaginations, vocabulary and life-skills begin to engage; where they sprout so green and bright.  Nora is an old-soul, with a watchful mind.  She examines the people around her, and watches -- learns! -- what they do.  She is her father's need to learn; her mother's need for order and systemic beauty.  She wanders off along, and also nuzzles and laughs until she can't breathe. 
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That day has passed, those pearls have fallen, the problems of the morning are gone now, and the joys of the evening are another piece in the jewelry box; the beautiful, shining, display case of a family and their life lived in the nicest, sweetest days.  Thank you for welcoming me into your home and hearts, Whitefield family!  I'll be sure to be back again.  
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to book your own i'm kristen home-family session, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york, or oklahoma to dallas areas
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.)