Thursday, May 31, 2012

Senior Shots

A few weeks back I took some graduation pics of two high school seniors, Dalton and Chelsea. They are a super cute couple and I am so excited for them as they embark on post-high school adventures!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the shoot at Midtown Park.

Check out Urban Cotton for more of their photos! Congrats your two!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Death and Life

So as I mentioned in the previous post, Zach and I were in Alabama last weekend for a memorial service. Little Noah Crowe, age 4, passed away on May 18th after a courageous battle with brain cancer. (Is it just me, or does brain cancer seem to be surrounding our life right now?) If you'd like to know more about Noah's story, you can read about it at

Anyways, Noah's family is actually quite special to ours. Many years back, when Zach's dad could no longer lead worship at Friendship UMC due to ALS, John David (Noah's dad) was hired to take his place. John David and Zach have kept in touch throughout the years and he's always been someone Zach respected and admired.

When John David called with the news of Noah's passing and to ask Zach to lead worship at his memorial, our hearts broke. This child was only 4 and he had been battling cancer for most his life. It seemed unfair and just... heart-breaking.

On Saturday when we arrived at the church and met JD and his wife Jessica, I honestly didn't know what to say. What do you say to a mom and dad who just lost their baby, their baby who has gone through unthinkable things in the last 2 1/2 years? Just saying "I'm sorry" seemed almost... insulting. "Sorry" doesn't even come close to describing how I felt about the situation or would be a word that would bring them any amount of peace or comfort. What I wish I could have said in those moments was what my heart was yelling.

"This royally sucks! I cannot imagine the pain your hearts must feel and the intensity of the grief that must wash over you every time you walk past his bedroom, see one of his toys lying on the floor, or even see snacks in the refrigerator he never got a chance to eat. I have no idea how you are standing here right now instead of lying in a heap in your bed, but I have the utmost respect for you and admire your strength. It is truly a testimony to your faith and reliance on God. I don't know why God let this happen the way it did, but I do know that he is somehow working for your good- and Noah's, through it all."

I had never been to a funeral or memorial service for a child before.

It was odd, yet incredibly beautiful and such a thorough testimony of Noah's life and impact on so many. Since Noah's favorite color was red and his favorite movie was Star Wars, the family asked everyone to wear red or something Star Wars themed. It was such a beautiful celebration of Noah's life to look at the sea of red (and Darth Vader!) covering the room. Here's our family of 3 rockin' the red for Noah.
One person came to the service in a full-blown Darth Vader costume complete with working lightsaber. It was totally awesome and I know Noah would have been really pleased.
Zach with Darth Vader.
The service began with about 30 minutes of home videos of Noah. Gosh was he a special kid! So brave and seemingly unhindered by all the operations and treatments he endured. He definitely lived life 100%. When the family came in to be seated, my eyes began to fill with tears as they carried in all Noah's favorite things - his favorite stuffed animals, books, lightsaber, 4-wheeler, etc and laid them gently on the edge of the stage. I couldn't help but weep at the sight of small, brown leather cowboy boots, sitting in the center of the stage, waiting to be worn again by their favorite little cowboy.

Oh Jesus, why?!

Noah's mom Jessica began the service and I must say... she's the (excuse me) ballsiest mom EVER. Wow. Words cannot express my deepest respect and admiration for this mother and her courage to speak about the unspeakable while giving God all the praise.

Zach and the band opened with 'Fix You' by Coldplay and a number of worship songs that Noah loved. After the Chaplain for Children's Hospital in Birmingham and the youth pastor from Friendship spoke, Noah's dad JD finished the service. His words were raw and heart-breaking as he recounted Noah's last, painful moments on earth and how he encouraged his tiny son to stop fighting and go be with Jesus. JD's description of Noah's suffering and his final conversation with his treasured son sort of haunt my mind. On one hand, it's overwhelmingly sad, but on the other, it's incredibly poetic and touching. I cannot imagine what it must be like to usher your child into the arms of Jesus, to be the one to encourage them to go where we cannot follow, to a place that is unknown by us, but filled with hope, peace, wholeness, and oneness with God.

JD, broken by grief and loss, was also so filled with hope and passion, a passion to encourage parents to love the their children HARD- every second of everyday and treasure every moment you have. He also challenged everyone to live like Noah, at 100%. Life might have been cut short for Noah, but none of us are promised tomorrow. We all need to live at 100%, making our life count and a true reflection of why we are here until we get to the ultimate place we are going.

Zach ended the service with "Oh Happy Day", Noah's favorite song. As the band played, bubbles (another thing Noah loved) poured down from the ceiling.
Thank you John David and Jessica, for inviting us into this terrible, yet tender moment in your life. Thank you, for letting us celebrate your son and honor our savior through it all. Thank you for reminding us to treasure our Allie and to make every moment count. I don't know if you two want more children, but I hope God gives you some. None will ever replace Noah or diminish his memory, but you were amazing parents. It is so overwhelmingly obvious how desperately you cared for him and how intensely you loved your little boy. I know you feel honored to have been his mom and dad, but I am sure he felt honored to be your child. God has used all three of you in a tremendous way in the lives of so many. Your faith in Jesus and dependency on him has been one of the greatest influences in my life and encouraged my personal faith journey so much.

Please continue to pray for JD and Jessica as they are now in a new place full of fresh challenges and new obstacles. We love you guys and are humbled to call you friends.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Week Away

Wow, was last week a long week...

So to recap, Zach and I did a songwriting road trip last week so Zach could work on his next album.

The week started out in Greenville, SC were Zach wrote with Tara Leigh Cobble. You might remember that name since I mentioned her a few weeks back in my post titled "This is my story and a page has been turned". Anyways, TLC would totally win the senior superlative (do they still give those out in high school?!) for "best all around." She's an author, speaker, musician, songwriter, storyteller, and has one heck of a fascinating journey with Jesus. This was my first time in Greenville and I would have to say it took me by surprise.

We didn't have a lot of time here, but TLC recommended a local coffee shop downtown so we went and got lattes. Yes, this was my first coffee beverage in over 7 weeks and I tried out soy milk. It was divine.

Unfortunately, Zach and I did not get to do dinner in town due to the FAID. We scoured about half a dozen restaurant menus only to find I could eat nothing on them.
Yes, this was depressing for me. Here I was, in a new city, full of places to explore and restaurants with interesting menus and outdoor patios to try out, and I couldn't eat a single thing. Sigh. Unbeknownst to me, this was only the first stop in a loooong line of cities to come that would leave me discouraged, disappointed, and stressed. The latte was fantastic though. :)

Sadly, the FAID leaves me chained to... chains really. :) You know, chain restaurants that are located at convenient interstate exits and serve the same, mass-produced food at each location. These places are usually my nemesis and naturally places I avoid because they are so hideously inferior to "local restaurants". Nowadays though, I long for a Ruby Tuesday, Outback, Bonefish (that one I actually like), or Longhorn just so I can eat drama free!
Anywho, after Greenville we headed to Atlanta. I am so grateful to all our friends and family who let us crash with them this week. Thank you! So much!

Our time here was short, but luckily we did have time to grab a yummy dinner at Seasons 52 with my friend Tanya.

Tanya and I met back in 2005 when I started working at Gensler. I am so thankful for her friendship that has lasted though the years and treasure her bubbly, optimistic spirit.

Being at Seasons 52- Buckhead reminded me how much I love this city, or rather, being spoiled by the conveniences of urban Atlanta life. Since the Charlotte WholeFoods isn't open yet, I took this opportunity to pilfer the GIANT Buckhead WholeFoods. Gosh this place is one of a kind. Whitney Wood Bailey, can I get an amen? :) Anywho, I was pleasantly surprised to find this scrumptious gluten-free, dairy-free treat and devoured these coconut drops!
I was recently introduced to carob by my friend Lisa. It's almost like a chocolate substitute. Very interesting. Lisa and her husband Phil do a lot of raw cooking (with a dehydrator) with healthy, nutritious ingredients. After all this FAID stuff is over I am totally hitting her up for some recipes, like brownies made from carob!

After Atlanta and a quick trip to Canton for Zach to meet with a music producer, we headed to Nashville. Naturally, this included trips to all the local guitar stores. :)

While in Nashville, we stayed with Bob Fischer, a seasoned country songwriter and his wife Helen. His son Robbi actually works on staff at FHC with Zach and I. Anyways, Zach had a blast hanging out with Bobby, hearing his stories and seeing his songwriter history and success, displayed in frames, awards, and trophies around the house.
While there, Bob had Zach sign (with a wood burner) his "songwriter guitar", the guitar he has all songwriters he's worked with or met sign.

I think there are over 140 signatures all over the body of this guitar and include people like Chet Atkins, Craig Wiseman ("Live Like You Were Dying", "The Good Stuff"), Phil Vassar, etc.  I think Zach was truly honored to join them on this one-of-a-kind piece of music memorabilia.

Also in Nashville I got a little break from the FAID. Trying to find somewhere to eat that met all my dietary restrictions was pretty much impossible. I finally gave up trying and stuck with just gluten and dairy free options. This allowed us to go to one of our favorite spots, PM, for some sushi!

We also went to Taco Mamasita's and I had the first taco I've had in over 7 weeks. It was pretty basic - corn tortilla, plain chicken, shredded lettuce, and pico, but it was awesome to me.

I also spent an absurd amount of time in Starbucks this week trying to work remotely. Most of the homes we stayed in this week did not have internet access, so I tromped off to coffee shops each day to stay productive.

Here's Z sitting in the downtown Franklin 'Bucks.
While in Nashville, I also stumbled across the cutest paper and gift shop called Social Graces.
Love these!

On Friday afternoon, Zach and I got back in the car and headed south to spend the weekend with Allie. Our reason for being in Alabama was for Zach to play a memorial service Saturday night (more on this later).

It was so great to spend some quality time with our girl though. She comes to Charlotte in 2 weeks!

Checking out some cool moss on a tree. (I love how Al just found Zach's hat in the car and started wearing it. She's so sporty! :))

Meeting Rocky, Zach's grandmother's new dog.

A Alabama train
Al's so cool without even trying.
On Sunday Zach's mom opened up her coffee shop in Decatur for us, one of our favorite places to eat. Allie LOVES to help Nana run the place and takes every opportunity to take orders and make food and drink.
 Best waitress around

Allie taking our orders...
I love her framed menu
The chefs/ coffee shop extraordinaires!
Allie, learning to make expresso and lattes. This girl is gonna have quite a resume by the time she goes off to college! :)
Thanks to my MIL, I had my first sandwich in 7 weeks and it was GREAT! It was grilled chicken, hummus, avocado, spinach, and sundried tomatoes on gluten free bread. The panini press makes all the difference!
After our tasty lunches and lattes, we went on a boat ride with one of my MIL's new neighbors. The ride was a little longer than expected, but Zach kept Allie occupied and laughing via text messaging. They are so funny together. :)

We loooove our Allie and can't wait to spend our summer together!

Sunday night Z and I went back to Nashville so Zach could have his final writing session Monday before we headed home. He got some great work done on the album this week, but I must confess... I was so anxious to get home! Gosh I am such a homebody. I can enjoy 2 or 3 days away, but anything longer than that makes me ache for the comfort of my own bed, couch, kitchen, and our fair city, Charlotte. I am so thankful Zach is not a touring musician because I don't think I could survive life on the road!