Welcoming Little Betty

Any night feels somewhat sacred and holy when you welcome a little one into the world. Last night we got to cuddle a beautiful addition to the Wittmann family—Betty Jane Wittmann—after she arrived in the early hours that same day. She is a little beauty. Congratulations, Mike and Amanda. You done good.

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And Baby Sam at Sunset

It seems strange, in the current cold of Lincoln, Nebraska, to think I was sitting out in the relatively warm sunshine with Charity and her boys a month ago. Strange and wonderful, that is. Though I have often confused the boys’ names, I am paying attention right now and can say with certainty that this is Sam crawling around in the setting sun. Such precious children these boys are! I love them.

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Baby Abe at Sunset

He’s only 11 months old, but you can see toddler Abe and big boy Abe and, dare I say it?, even adolescent Abe in this shot. LOOK AT THIS FACE! He kills me with the cuteness. What’s even cuter than one adorable baby? Two adorable babies! Abe’s twin brother Sam will be featured here soon as well.

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The Love of a Dad

I’m wrapping up editing for the Grossman family and I can’t help but share this shot with you. Pretend you’re listening to Elvis crooning Can’t Help Falling in Love and you’re pretty much living my sweet moment. (Heck, add sterile library lighting and you’re all the way there.)

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Greeting Theodore Bradley

This was the amazing image I witnessed around 1:40am this morning. Incredible. More photos to come later.

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Introducing Carolina Bradley

These images are almost a year late because that’s how things role in the world of foster care. No exposing a child’s face, careful preservation of anonymity as the child is a protected state ward. So there’s a certain joy when one is adopted and we can show her face to the world once more! Adoption was the path to family life for this little girl who I photographed last November as a one week old. Maralee brought her up to my bedroom for a quick photo shoot. I remember having a really bad head cold and feeling overwhelmed with the two little boys who had been placed in our care the previous week, but I knew this was a special moment with a special baby and I shot her one week pictures that night.

Little teeny Carrie. Little girl who is toddling around the house like she owns the place well before her first birthday. Happy girl with the big smile and even bigger eyes. You are loved. You are cherished. God made you and he adores you, little one!

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Redeemer in the Light

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The Morehead Family – 2013

I had grand plans last year of placing all 2013 photoshoot images into a new portfolio to show the public. Yeah, that didn’t happen. A little thing called foster care took over our world last fall and I found myself wrangling very cute, very active little boys instead. I wouldn’t erase our time with them for anything, and certainly not for a new online portfolio. So here you go, friends. Pictures, a year later. Call it a Throwback Thursday if that makes you feel any better. And yes, I know it’s Wednesday.

Without further ado, my longtime friends, the Moreheads. To me they are pretty much family, and it was a great honor to finally photograph them. (Keep viewing through the end for a special bonus treat.)

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This last image. Hmmm… what do I say about this last pic? Sometimes when you shoot in more urban settings you might encounter, say, a strange man doing strange things. You will harness all your photographer/self-defense for women/mom/neighborhood watch skills and you might continue to shoot while also organizing an escape plan if things go haywire. Note, in the background of this last image, a man heaving a trash can into the dugout area of the baseball diamond. His crazy raging was followed by an attempted bike ride before he threw himself and the bike to the ground and, evidently, napped. Just another day in family photography, right?

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Sunshine on a Rainy Friday

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Just in case you ever wonder…

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I really don’t care if a book is written specifically for my kid or not. I’m a fast reader and a quick editor and all my theater talents of days past are now poured into reading aloud for my family. Each time I open a book, it’s my own personal stage. So when I read Max Lucado’s Just In Case You Ever Wonder—the board book edition—to my foster baby this morning, I wasn’t offended that it didn’t fit our little guy’s life whatsoever. I altered the words a bit so they were true and kept on reading.

I wasn’t offended by the words. I was broken by the reality that these words expose.

Just In Case You Ever Wonder is a charming and sweet book meant to remind a child that Mom and Dad love them, always, and are on their side. It’s a beautiful little book with big, gigantic, earth-shattering truths about who we are and who God is.

Long, long ago God made a decision—a very important decision… one that I’m really glad He made. He made the decision to make you.

The same hands that made the stars made you.
The same hands that made canyons made you.
The same hands that made trees and the moon and the sun made you.
That’s why you are so special. God made you.

Can you feel the power-packed punch of these words, oh adult who is reading this blog post? I can! These words clearly aren’t meant just for the little people in our lives, they are meant for us as well.

Lucado writes more of how special our children are, pointing out that “you were made like no one else.” And then I flip the page and land on the sentences that stop me in my tracks, that make me grieve for the foster kids in my city, that make me weep over the brokenness that exists in our world.

And since you are so special, God wanted to put you in just the right home…
where you would be warm when its cold,
where you’d be safe when you’re afraid,
where you’d have fun and learn about heaven.

Does your heart get heavy like mine does? Do you feel the incredible injustice of what it might be like to not be able to live with your parents—for your parents to not be able to provide a warm and safe home for you? It might actually be your parents who are causing your harm, or it might be that they simply can’t protect you from it for now. Either way, a child is deserving of a warm, safe home with the parents that gave birth to them, and the reality of this world is that brokenness exists.

The book goes on to detail how the reading parent will be there for the child. As you grow and change, I will be there. As you get scared—of the monsters in your closet or in your imagination, or the meanies on the playground—I will be there. Basically, as you experience the trials of life, I will be right there to hold you and teach you and love you through it.

[deep sigh]

A parent loving a child and providing the best for this child, this is the way life should be. If this is the way your childhood was, praise God for that. If this is the way your children were raised, or are being raised now, praise God for such blessings. At the same time, know that the provisions of a roof over your head, food in your pantry and a soft place to lay at night are not the reality for many people around you.

There’s a fine line to walk between getting all preachy and just sharing the truths I experience. I see that and I’m aware of it. So let me say a few final things about what I see right now. I see what might possibly be the cutest baby on the planet and he’s rolling around on my living room floor. He’s putting blocks and books and maybe even a little dog hair in his mouth (this after repeatedly grabbing the dog’s tail). He’s sitting up and falling over. He’s making hilarious growling noises and he’s drooling all over everything. He is LOVED. His mom loves him. His dad loves him. His foster mom and foster dad love him. He’s got some good things going on in his life right now and changes are being made every day to ensure he can go home again soon. He is doing well because someone intervened in his world to help. To encourage. To bless. To provide. From police officers to caseworkers to extended family to the friends and family members of us, his foster family, people have intervened. People have stopped, they’ve asked questions, they’ve pursued righteousness and goodness for this little one who cannot pursue such things on his own.

Sure, this world is marred with brokenness. But there’s always the work of redemption. Keep working, keep redeeming your own little corner of this world. And just in case you ever wonder, yes, Someone does love you.