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Life is a Highway

2012-06-04_019We have now been “retired” wedding photographers for well over a year now. I don’t miss it anymore. In fact we have not booked family portraits for months now. We may take those on again soon but for now my work at The Grace Mask is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and Jason is quite busy being a super hero at Black River Imaging. (At least I think he’s doing super hero work… and I know many of his customers would agree.) We are LOVING our Saturdays and our evenings at home. Sometimes we do absolutely nothing but hang out at the house all day long on Saturday. It’s wonderful! This year A.J. will be 13, Audrey will be 7, and Alyssa will be 6. We are having a blast with our kids. They are so very smart and fun and creative. We share a lot of our family activities through Facebook and Instagram but I have missed writing personal stuff here at this site.

So much has happened in our family within the last 2 years. I do believe God had us sort of muted during that time so that we could simply rest and trust in Him. Of course, The Grace Mask blog launched in January 2013. I’m sure if you know us at all you know about that amazing venture. But most of the content at The Grace Mask is written by others. I simply edit it. It’s been a very long time since I have regularly written blog posts especially personal ones about being a wife and mom. I miss that. But in 2013 I was in listen mode. I was nowhere near share mode. When I think about 2013, I think about faith steps and trusting God in the midst of circumstances that we simply did not understand.

In 2013 we bought an abandoned church building at a tax sale.

2013 was also the last full year we had with Jason’s dad.

We will never forget 2013, we didn’t need to blog about it.

Jason’s dad passed away in late January this year. January was one of the hardest months of our entire marriage. Now almost 6 months later I believe we are ready to share life again.

So we’ve worked on this domain to transform it into a site that is more of a team effort compared to our Facebook profiles and Instagram feeds. In late 2011, we made our very first 101 Goals in 1001 Days list. We wrote it all out in a few hours. We did manage to meet about a quarter of those goals but many of the goals were just not in God’s plans. And that is OK! We still accomplished so much, including the purchase of an abandoned church… which was not on the radar in 2011. We also had no idea that we’d lose Jason’s dad to cancer in less than 1001 days. So we spent about 6 weeks thinking and praying over this new list. And yes, some of the goals are silly or easy. But some of the unmet goals on our original list are on our new list and some are going to take a lot of effort and faith. This site is personal and our kids are the intended, future audience. This is for them but you are welcome to come along for the ride. Many of the old posts are still visible because they are still good encouragement.

Life is a Highway by John Mellencamp was playing on the radio the moment Jason gave me his class ring one chilly November evening in 1995. In that moment I believe we both started looking at life as a path we would walk together. We are still walking and now, we have 3 adorable followers walking along behind us.  So if you followed us a few years ago as wedding and family photographers, welcome back! And if you are a new friend, glad to have you along. The pictures you’ll see here are not meant to be professional-looking – most of them will be posted from our phones. But I believe you will still enjoy our work! It is our hope that through this site you will see us…

Living in the full joy and peace of God’s grace. Knowing that as we work, play and serve we are showing His love to the world.”

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#90 Girls’ Day Pedicure

I will not forget the look on Audrey and Aly’s face the day we walked into my friend Brandy’s new salon. I probably had the same look on my face too for a moment.

Wow! This place is SO NICE!


But when I recognized my friend’s beautiful smiling face welcoming us in I knew we belonged. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how we can look at a scene and feel like we don’t deserve to be there, like we don’t belong… and then you see the smiling face of a friend and you can breathe again.

As Brandy showed us around her new place my girls’ eyes were wide. They had not witnessed such a place before. Everywhere they looked girls were being pampered. But when we turned the corner and Audrey saw the pedicure stations she found her voice.

“What’s THAT!!!”


As Brandy explained the treatment to my nearly 7-year-old, Miss Audrey Brooke’s attention turned to the huge selection of nail polish, “I need this.”

After my simple hair trimming appointment was over and we drove home the girls went on and on about their experience in a “fancy salon”. Especially Audrey…

“Mom, I want to sit in one of those foot chairs and let someone paint my toe nails for my birthday.”

So I scheduled it and we put it on the list. And today was one of the best days I’ve had as a mom of two little girls.

Oh we have painted nails MANY times on the living room floor. In fact, Aly even enjoys treating us to foot rubs. But this was unlike anything they have ever experienced and each of the girls reacted uniquely.

Before we arrived at “Brandy’s fancy salon”… (That’s not really the name of it… you know it as Ashley Lauren Salon.) We stopped at the grocery store across the street and picked up a few necessities: Chocolate and Welch’s Sparkling RED Grape Juice.


The girls were loving it already.

The staff welcomed us and allowed the girls to choose one nail color out of a smaller selection (at my request… We would have been there for an hour if my 5 and 7-year-olds had to choose from 100 colors.) Audrey chose a bright teal blue and Aly picked out a bright red shade with stars. Then they picked out a color for mom – bright orange. When we sat down in our chairs and put our feet in the water I settled in to watch my girls experience their first pedicure.

Watching Audrey was like watching a spoiled princess. She was certainly kind and polite but was thoroughly enjoying the pampering. She chose a chocolate and ate it then she sipped on her juice. Then she chose another chocolate and ate it. She played with the massage settings on the chair and I think at one point I looked over and she had her eyes closed with a big smile on her face but mostly she looked like this the whole time…


Aly was completely different. Her little face never stopped smiling and she watched EVERY single move the nail tech made. She never turned on the massaging chair and she ate all of her chocolate in about 5 minutes. She spent the rest of the time watching. When the nail tech looked up or asked her a question Aly shyly smiled and spoke quietly. It was fun to watch her joy at receiving the gift.



Both girls loved every minute of it. Audrey wants to go back next week.

We may have to check this goal off a few more times in the next 1001 days. Thanks Brandy!!

Angela D Holman - What a treat! I think nana needs to start a list! :) Love you all very much

Alice Stratton - That was so nice to do for the girls. I would like that but live too far away.

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#83 Get AJ a Road Bike


That’s me in the foreground smiling.  AJ is in the back on his new-to-him road bike.  I’m not smiling because I get to mark this one off our 101 list.  I’m smiling because now that I’ve marked this one off the list I will be able to enjoy more moments like this one with AJ.

I’m finding that it’s not so much about what you do in life as much as it is about who you do life with that makes a difference.  I can’t think of anyone else I would rather be with doing the things I love than the people I love the most.  I’m looking forward to many more awesome miles ahead!

Big thanks to Jared Meyer at Life Cycles for the awesome deal on AJ’s bike.  Hit him up if you need a new bike… especially if you want to go fast!


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