It was Battle: Engagement Session with John and Bethany last week downtown! This time I (Aurelia) won! The original Facebook album has been updated to show who shot what so go check it out if you are curious. Thanks to all who played along with us but most of all thanks to John and Bethany for joining us for a fun and creative evening in Downtown Springfield!

The Ivaska family has been a part of our Springfield life for close to 20 years! This Fall will mark the 20 year anniversary of our first semester at Evangel College (now Evangel University). Finding a church home in Springfield was a bit overwhelming for us in 1997 but we ended up landing at a “big-to-us” congregation at Grand and Grant called Calvary Temple. Jason and I spent the first 10 years of our marriage with CT and John and Sarah Ivaska became family to us there. We’ve watched these Ivaska girls grow up and now in August this one’s getting married!

Bethany and John we love you both! We are so blessed to call you friends and excited to be a part of your tribe. Please know that Jason and I will encourage your marriage and always point you to Jesus. Thank you for allowing us to pray for you both and capture these images. May the deep joy in these pictures be present in your marriage for all your years together!

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Alyssa Beth | Easter Sunday 2017

“Believing Jesus is anything other than Savior of the world will affect her story deeply.”

Luke 18:17 “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and Me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”

I was overwhelmed by God’s grace today during our Easter service. We sang an old favorite hymn, Because He Lives, oh how powerful the words of that song are to me and my story. I grew up singing that song in a little Southern Baptist church. So when my early story touches my present story, the hugeness of God’s grace is overwhelming. Our pastor preached from John 20 today focusing in on the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus.

Mary Magdalene.

This girl loved Jesus so.

So much that on that first Easter morning though she came to the tomb with other women and though she brought the disciples to the empty tomb, she ended up alone with the risen Jesus.

Those with her left her alone… and the result? She was the first person in history to declare the Gospel to The Church.

Yesterday I revisited the day Alyssa first said “yes” to Jesus. You can read that post here too.

One of the verses I included with that post was Jesus’ words from Luke 18:17. As I was reading the word “alone” in that verse I thought about Mary being alone at the tomb seeking Jesus. She wasn’t afraid to be there. She wasn’t afraid to question angels or gardeners. She was so in love with Jesus she was fearless even in her grief. I want my kids to have that kind of love for Jesus.

I want my kids to know they are completely safe in their relationship with Jesus. I want Him to be the One they trust and love above every other relationship they have. I don’t want them dependent on me or Jason or anyone else for their identity. And Jesus’ words to me as a mother of three kids who have now accepted Christ and followed Him in baptism are “let them alone”. Not abandoned to figure it all out themselves. Not unattended as they learn how to study God’s word. Not isolated from the body of Christ and family. Jesus isn’t telling us to leave our kids. He wants us to stay out of their way as they follow Him and out of HIS way as He leads them. When Jesus called Mary’s name that day He was the only one she could turn to because she was alone-there was no mistaking him for anyone else in that moment. I don’t want to be in the way when my kids call out to Jesus. I pray I direct Alyssa to Jesus always as her source for everything. He will use me to meet her needs for a few more years. But I would be a faithless and fearful mother to try to do what only he can do for her. It’s time for me to let her alone.

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On the days you think you’re losing it more than you realize you’re being restored…

On the days your confidence is not in Him but in yourself – low – weak – tender…

On the days they doubt you – despise you – reject you because of your confidence in Him…

Remember this was yours before it wasn’t. You gave it up, it’s true. But He’s giving it back to you.

So every step you take, dear Bride…

“Wherever you set foot, that land will be yours…” Deuteronomy 11:24

“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you…” Joshua 1:3

“… for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world.” 1 John 4:4

And “take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” John 16:33

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When I consider the most productive seasons in my life I notice a trend – productive times are  surrounded by time invested reading. Words inspire me! So while I am not going to list 100 books in this post… because I don’t have that many picked… who knows what may be published by 2018!? – I’ll show you the short stack. I’ve had these awhile.

Let’s start with 10 (… actually I think I picked 11) unread books currently on my shelf… in no particular order:

  1. Play With Fire – Bianca Olthoff
  2. Anything – Jennie Allen
  3. Undaunted – Chris Caine
  4. Telling True Stories – Nieman Foundation at Harvard
  5. Accidental Genius – Mark Levy
  6. The Lost Art of Dress – Linda Przybyszewski
  7. A Godward Heart – John Piper
  8. The Cost of Discipleship – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  9. The Knowledge of the Holy* – AW Tozer
  10. Give Them Grace – Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
  11. Celebration of Discipline* – Richard Foster

*I’ve actually read a few of these but they are worth reading often. Have you read any of these? What books are in YOUR stack? And what is coming out soon that you are excited to read?

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When your 15-year-old son asks to ruin his pants and a perfectly good t-shirt most Mama’s say “nope”… I am usually “most mamas” but it’s been a long cold spring break. Audrey has been sick for most of it. Aly has been pretending to be a cat every day. And I was just tired in that moment and I didn’t remember buying that particular pair of black jeans so I said yes. And now… Now I want a pair of those pants too! (He will eventually grow out of them… like next month!) I love how daring and creative our kids are. I just have to be ok with some projects being failures – and super tired when they get their best ideas apparently. Nothing is ever a waste if we learn something but there are times we fail… Thankfully we don’t have to wear those failures. 😉 But these are really cool!!

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What a blessing this family has been to us! Cherie asked us to photograph her crew this fall and she used the magic words every photographer wants to hear, “we just want you to do your thing”. Meaning – we don’t have a pinterest board we want you to copy and I am not going to interfere in your creative process… “just do your thing”. So we did that happily and they loved the results. Here are some of our favorites…

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