Sometimes (no wait, strike that. ALL the time) I am just truly awed & amazed at the incredible doors that open when you least expect it. Of the people that come into our lives and the places we get to go because of it....all when we least expect it.
Lately I've just been realizing more and more that the best things that happen to us in this life are never the ones that we're tying ourselves up in knots for, striving for, or trying MAKE happen by our own force of will. They aren't the ones where we're beating our heads agains the brick wall just trying to get where someone else has already gone or check another item off their list. And they certainly aren't the ones that we think we're "supposed to do" based on what success looks like for someone else.
No. What I'm starting to learn about this life is that the best things that happen to us are the ones we don't even see coming. The ones we couldn't possibly plan or strive for. They come out of nowhere, land in our laps, knock down our front door... and that's how we know that they are ours. That they're part of our story, and how it's meant to be written. Not just a bad copy of somebody else's. And guess what? Those things that are meant for you, that are actually meant to be part of your story? They are WAY better than anything you thought you were striving for to begin with. World-rockingly, higher-calling, purpose-driven, "oh I can see it now, that's how it all fits together" BETTER than anything you were striving for to begin with.
More than anything what I've been learning, is that when you loosen your grip on how you think it's supposed to go, when you let go of trying to plan every step to get you where you think you're going, when you pry your fingers out of that comparison game ...that leaves you with an open hand.
And the fact is, it's just a whole lot easier for God to give a gift to an open hand than a closed fist.
Today, open your hand to what you're being called to do, not what you're supposed to do.
Open your hand to the better story that's being written for you.
We have been home for the past 12 or so days straight (which is pretty strange for us!) and we will actually be mostly home for the next two weeks as well. And that has been awesome because it's given us a chance to get caught up on those projects we have been pushing off, like finally getting around to making a book of our travels in Germany & Austria this past March.
It's been so fun going back through the pictures & we thought we would share some with you guys as well! We're breaking it up into two parts so it isn't too overwhelming & this part covers our time in Heidelberg & Stuttgart. Over these couple of days we got to walk through castles, roam down cobblestone city streets, sip warm beverages in cafes, eat some of the most amazing Italian food I've ever had (funny enough), visit the Porsche flagship store & museum and....roam through more castles!! You do a LOT of castle roaming in Europe! And I LOVED it! One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to meet up with a long time blog reader, Rici, who came to our Stuttgart stop on the tour and stayed to hang out with us the next day! We had spaghetti ice cream together (don't worry it just looks like spaghetti!), visited a castle (of course!), and got the sweetest card from her! I think it's SO amazing that the internet is this crazy thing that brings us all together & that we can make friends over the years that we finally get to meet in real life thousands of miles from home. It just makes me so so grateful for this blog & all of the amazing people it has brought into our lives because of it.
Speaking of amazing people coming into our lives, we are also super grateful that we had Philipp (who organized the tour) and Jennifer & Conrad from Jennifer Hejna Photography along to adventure with us & show us around. Most of these pictures are from Jennifer & we are SO thankful that she was there to capture so many amazing memories & moments for us! We LOVE you guys!
Looking back through all of these pictures is getting me so excited because we are currently in the process of planning our NEXT European adventure for October! We're heading to a wedding in England & while we're there we're also going to try to hit up some combination of Paris, Scotland and/or Ireland!! So I'm just saying....if there is anyone out there who has been dreaming of doing an engagement, elopement or anniversary shoot in any of those place....we're going to be there the last week of October! I'm just sayin!! We should definitely make that happen! :) :) Wheee!!
Enjoy Part I!
How adorable are Jennifer & Conrad??
Philipp, Conrad & Jennifer hiking up to the castle!
Recently our friends over at the newly launched Lace and Loyalty wedding & marriage blog were posting pictures from their shop, including this amazing grey hoodie with gold foil writing that says "Wifey for Lifey." I instantly fell in love with it & left a note saying how awesome it was. And not more than a few days later a box was sitting on our front porch with my very own shirt as a gift from these amazing ladies! How INCREDIBLE is that??
What's even cooler is that they also agreed to give us one to be able to give away to one go our lucky readers! This makes my heart happy because so many of our giveaways are just for photographers, but this one can be for photographers AND our brides (past, present & future!!)
To enter, just leave a comment in the box below saying hi & we are going to announce the winner on Friday! And...GO!!
And do we have just the thing to kick this week off right!! A while back we were contacted by Deanna to see if we would ever consider doing a maternity shoot for her & her husband Matt. She said that she had always wished that she would have been able to have us there with them for their wedding & that this was the next best thing. Now, how am I supposed to say no to THAT! ? :) Normally, we do tend to just focus in exclusively on "couples" with engagement shoots, weddings & anniversary shoots. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that our version of a maternity shoot could be just that: a focus on a couple who happen to be starting a very big, exciting new stage in their lives! And as long as we kept it about that and focused on their interaction and excitement, who they are together & who they are going to be as a family, then it could still fit very much with our style and what we love shooting! So we said yes!
And y'know what...I LOVED it!
I already knew that I loved shooting anniversary sessions because it shows what a love has grown into. And I think you just see that even more when a man is looking at a woman who is about to be the mother of his child. It's a deeper love. An awed love. A love that deserves capturing.
These two are due next month with a baby girl, in the same month when they will also be moving into a new house. So BIG things on the horizon! And it was just such an honor to capture them right now, right here, right before life changes forever for the better.
Deanna & Matt, we had the best time with you guys! We wish you a lifetime of happiness!
And boy do we have something to send you off into the weekend right: Emily & John's sweet engagement shoot all around NYC!!
We met up with these guys & had the best time roaming around some of their favorite streets, taking pictures, and finishing up at their favorite Mexican restaurant. And along the way we got to hear their amazing story! These two first met when they were both in the tropics for family weddings when they were teenagers. They saw each other, struck up a conversation and then a friendship. And Emily joked even then that that was the boy she was going to marry.
Fast forward a few years and they bumped into each other in passing in college. Fast forward a few more years after that and John was still in Emily's heart. As she says, just like in that movie Serendipity, she just couldn't shake the feeling that she was supposed to find him one more time. And so she took a chance and sent him a message. And pretty soon that message turned into dating, into John moving from Denver to NYC to be with her, and now....a wedding next year back in the tropics!!
How AMAZING is that!!? Incredible, right!!
Emily & John, we had the BEST time hanging out & getting to know you guys and talking about big dreams. And now we are even MORE excited for the big day next year! Until then, here are a few of our favorites from our time together!