Monday, July 23, 2012

Wedding Photography in Dufur, Oregon

The early morning twilight was creating soft illumination to farm buildings and the rolling hills surrounding Azure Farms outside of Dufur, Oregon. It was 5:00 am and Sarah, her mom, and the hair dresser were just arriving at the house where she and the bridesmaids were going to be getting ready for the 11:00 am ceremony. Some of the girls were up and showering while others were tucked away in sleeping bags trying to ignore the hustle and bustle around them.
There is a gray sleeping bag under the dresses and it is occupied!
Curling irons and cosmetics were wielded with skill and artistry and 2 hours later fresh scrubbed girls were transformed into beautiful princesses.

Meanwhile, it took the guys about 20 minutes to don their tuxes and were wondering what could possibly be taking so long.

Finally the moment came for Joe to see Sarah for the first time in her wedding dress.
Little sun rays peaked out from the clouds creating a dramatic backdrop for a romantic interlude.
And in the other direction was Mount Hood with a foreground of wheat planted just for us to take photographs in! There were lots of prayers for a few clouds to soften the light and God was listening.....
How many attendants did you say there would be?
They built this special stairway just for the wedding. I never imagined something like this.
At 10:00 am we took a break for a yummy breakfast. The best oatmeal ever, fresh squeezed oj, and tons of fruit..... all organic, of course, since that is what Azure Farms is all about.

Family and friends had traveled from near and far to witness the union of Joe and Sarah. The ceremony was deeply meaningful with blessings from each of the fathers and one grandfather, unity sand, signing the family bible, wonderful music (Neil and I always appreciate good music), and one huMONGous kiss to cap it all off. (Good job, Joe!)

The party was full of good food by the Pampered Pallette from Hood River, good music, and camaraderie. The theme of the wedding was lavender and wheat so guess what got tossed as Joe and Sarah were leaving? You guessed it, wheat!
Yum! This was not only beautiful but the best tasting cake ever (by Andrea K.)

The food was delicious, AND beautiful. I loved the way The Pampered Pallette used color. Those are blueberries, strawberries and orange pansies in the tossed green salad.

Swimming was part of the entertainment for the day.

Blessings on both of you, Joe and Sarah, for a long, loving and happy marriage.

"If we love one another He abides in us , and His love is made perfect in us." 1 John 4:12

Friday, July 13, 2012

Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network-working to end family homelessness

Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

For the last four years, I have been volunteering with Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network. We give homeless families, very much like the one shown here, a safe place to sleep at night in area churches and the support they need to get housing. 

What do I do? I sleep (I am really good at that.) :-) More specifically, I am one of the volunteers that spends the night at our church when we are hosting the families in the program. It seems like a small contribution but every little bit helps, right?

When we think of the homeless, we think of drug addicts and the mentally ill, right? We don't think of the family that moved here because the dad thought he had a job lined up only to find that it had evaporated.Or the woman with three teenage children that works as a flagger for a road construction company that got behind in her bills, or the construction worker that got injured on the job and has been off work for six months.. These are people who have been barely scraping by and all it takes is the loss of a job, a major bill, or the breakup of a relationship to make the difference between being able to pay rent or sleeping in their car.

Up until now, Salem Interfaith has been providing overnight housing, meals, a day shelter, and help finding housing to families accepted into the program.  Now they are launching a program called "Family Promise". They are working to put as many tools as they can in each family's toobox. Tools that help them build their resources so they will never face homelessness again: 
  • Financial Literacy - For many homeless families, their difficulty with budgeting was a significant contributing factor leading to their homelessness. Classes and meeting with a financial counselor to be sure they are on track and living within their means.
  • Work - Volunteers will work together to assess and address barriers to employment, provide individualized job search support, and teach job retention skills.
  • Parenting - classes and support groups will cover topics such as : self-care, stress and anger management, communication skills and positive approaches to discipline.
It is easy to feel  overwhelmed by the homeless "problem." But here is an organization that is truly making a difference. Anytime you feel tempted to hand some money to one of those people standing at an intersection with a "Please help" sign, put that money in an envelope and send it to Salem Interfaith. They need $25,000 to fully implement these programs. I am going to be contributing. Can you help, too?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Loving Fiercely

Something was not right. 

Allyson had had some struggles with her pregnancy but all indications were that the baby growing inside her was strong and healthy. He was very much alive and kicking. Then one day, just three weeks before her due date, he stopped moving. Allyson and Jay went to labor and delivery for a "fetal well-being" unltrasound.

Baby Nolan failed the test.
They ran another test and he passed the ultrasound but the heartbeat wasn't spiking as it should. "No need to worry" they were told and were sent home.

Allyson knew something was wrong and the next day she was back at labor and delivery. More tests were run and soon she was being prepped for an emergency C-section.

Soon after, little Nolan entered the world. Unlike the noisy, squalling, little wrinkled turnips that get plopped on Mommy's tummies in hospitals everywhere, Nolan was silent.

He was silent because his tongue was at the roof of his mouth and there was no clear passageway for him to breathe. Nolan has Treacher Collins Syndrome--a disorder in which the facial bones do not develop fully in-vitro and some deformities result, like a cleft palette and very tiny ears. For the full story, go to

Nolan had a tracheotomy when he was five days old and has a feeding tube and a hearing aid but when you look into his eyes, you see a bright little boy, full of life and ready to take on the world. He sucks on his hands, kicks and smiles at his mom and dad.

On June 22, I did Nolan's 4 month portraits andI am very grateful Jay and Allyson said I could share them with you.

 "He is a very strong little guy, with a clearly developed personality and a bright future ahead. Most importantly, God knew him before he was formed in my womb. He gave him to Jay and I for a purpose, and we will
  love him fiercely for the rest of our lives." Allyson Faber