You Are My Sunshine…

This beautiful nursery rhyme was sang to me every night as a child. it was often times accompanied by a story or a runaway toaster, an little engine, a rabbit running away from a bear and a piglet, or any other crazy personified item from a children’s book created in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The my narrator and songstress of these beautiful things was my mother, Amanda Marie Carroll.

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Last Tuesday was a day just like any other, I went to my three back to back classes, had a wonderful lunch with my best friend Carlie, and then came back and lounged on my not so comfortable futon watching SVU until I received a phone call I hoped to never receive. The call received was around 6:30pm and was from my aunt. My aunt was calling to deliver the devastating news that my mother had passed away that evening, and that she had no other information except that she had collapsed and the medical responders could not revive her.

I simply cried out in fear not wanting to believe the words that had just been delivered to me. I began the process of making those phone calls I’ve never wanted to have to make and I called in friends to be with me and stand beside me during the very awful time. I realized in that moment this was not going to be easy, this was going to hurt, and my heart was going to break, but even when it felt like everything was falling apart I had a foundation that was much stronger than the storm I was driving into.

Let me take you back a few years and explain to you the depth of my relationship with my mother…

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When my mom was just 17 years old she found herself pregnant with a three month old baby, and another one on the way. That little bundle on the way was me, you could call me an extreme surprise. My mom was so young and not in a place to be having children, let alone two. However she had an incredible support system behind her ready to help, and for the first 10 years of my life that system was pretty solid. Through rough nights, and moments when we didn’t think we’d be able to stay with our mom anymore because of different issues, my mom had had her third child and was pregnant with her fourth and she knew it was time. It was time for her to do what she knew she needed to do and that was to give me up to my grandmother. My mom knew that she couldn’t take care of me anymore, she knew that I needed a chance to get the life she always wanted for me, to receive a life that would bring me happiness, and one that would offer me the greatest possible outcome. For that she knew that she had to give me to family that could offer me that.

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Looking back now I see that, that act of selfless love is something that I never saw as selfless until last week. I see that by giving me up my mom loved me in a way that I never thought possible. I always saw myself as her misfit child for her just giving me away as what looked like an effortless act but now I see how truly difficult and heartbreaking that was for her. I see how her heart broke in that moment, and how it took nearly eight years to mend our relationship, but I also see redemption.

As I drove back to school today I thought about how this last week has showed me an absolute up front, and in your face picture of God’s redeeming love. God the Father, THE Holy One, and ULTIMATE lover of my soul sent His son here to die on a cross to forgive and redeem me of my sin, and not just mine, but the sin of THE WORLD! REALLY!?!?!?! Yes, really! He sent His son here to make all things new, and reunite our souls with His if it is something we choose for ourselves. I see that picture when I see what my mom did so many years ago. I see how she had to let me go, knowing that inside she would die, and her heart would hurt everyday just thinking about what she had given up. But she knew that in the end it would be better for everyone.

I got the opportunity to speak at her funeral and it was there that I spoke of how truly brave my mom is. She was brave in every aspect of her life, in how she worked with diligence and agility, how she carried herself through every trial she’s ever experienced, and most importantly how she loved. My mom had a heart that was all in or nothing at all. She was never have done, or only at 99%, and that was just how she operated. As I said it at her service, she got up every morning had her coffee, and put a little bit of salt in it, watched the news, and then she put on her suit of armor. That armor fought off the talk, rumors, stereotypes, and the hatred that she felt from others. My mom carried herself so well and fought for what she felt was best, right, and true. My mom fought, that’s what has truly stood out for me. She was a fighter, and she tried daily to instill that moral into her children. My momma didn’t raise no punks, no doubt there.

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I can see my past now as more beautiful than ever before. I totally miss my mom, I miss her hugs, I miss her jokes, her laugh, and her unwavering passion for me. I have lost the woman who sang to me and read me stories before bed, who got rid of the monsters that were under my bed and in my closet, I lost my defender, and advocate, I lost my mom. She will no longer walk on this Earth, no matter how hard I hope, and pray, that’s not an option. However I do have the option to love, and honor her memory daily. I have the option to celebrate her life, and live my life the way she would’ve wanted me to, ALL IN! I know I can see her in me, and how the woman that she is has become apart of who I am. I am the spitting image of my mom, and apart of me is so thankful for that. I can look in the mirror and see her looking at me cheering me on from the sideline as I continue on in the game of life.

Life will most definitely be different from here on out. There’s so much I will never get to tell my mom now, or have her experience with me. I wont get to have that time of celebrating the wedding that I will hopefully one day experience. She won’t be by my side telling me to push as I become a mother one day, nor will she be here to spoil my hopeful kids, and love them like I’ve gotten to experience with my grandmother. I will simply have to tell others of her beautiful memory, and how she impacted me, and how she is with me always.

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So in the coming years I will sit down have a cup of coffee with creme, sugar, and a dash of salt (i’m not joking), watch the channel 9 news, and watch Bold and the Beautiful and celebrate the beautiful woman that my mom was. I will live my life with bravery as the goal, and honor as my motive, and with my head held high knowing that I can celebrate my mom in this way.

I don’t know why God does what He does, EVER! But one thing I do know is that in all He does there is a rhyme and reason, and I know that apart of this was to show me that my mother loved me, and that she cared enough to give me a better life than what she could’ve ever offered me on her own. She was selfless, honorable, loving, and brave. I can’t thank her enough for who she is and how she’s helped to shape me in this way. I miss my mom more today than I did the day I found out she was gone, and no matter if it’s 100 years from now I will still miss her, but I now have a greater and deeper appreciation for who she is, and how she loved me. I will never deny that fact.

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Mom, I love you and miss you forever, but I know with all that is in me that you are with me always. Whether it’s in a cup of coffee, or the fresh and crisp smell in the air on a fall morning you are with me. I love you more than words, and I pray that one day our souls will be reunited, and we can spend eternity together, but until then, You are my Sunshine πŸ™‚

 

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Golden Hour: Freddy and Emily

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Hey guys, yes, as a matter of fact I have become a blogging fiend, but really I’m just super excited that my Father has made it pretty clear that I need to become more involved in my photography, and that I need to be more vulnerable in sharing it with y’all. So yes here comes my other new, and fun trendy titled blogs. This one is called “Golden Hour”! If you ask any photographer, or at least a vast majority, they’ll tell you the best times of lighting come from either sunrise or sunset. The lighting is just perfect, and crisp, I LOVE IT! I must confess that I heard this term from my beautiful friend, and someone who I would consider a photography and life mentor,Β Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn is amazing, and she really has an eye for beauty both behind, and in front of the lens. I feel so blessed because I’ve gotten to see quite a bit of Kaitlyn’s development as a photographer. For lack of a better word, I basically stalk herΒ blog, and obsess over it. It’s funny because she’s actually mentioned it a few times on her blog that I do that, ha! Yea I’m crazy, but who cares! But yea so Kaitlyn’s awesome, and one time I heard her refer to the times of Sunrise and Sunset as, the golden hour. I thought it was amazing and after shooting my first sunrise shoot this morning I completely agree.

So with all that being said I am so excited to introduce y’all to two of my very lovely friends who allowed me to wake them up WAY TOO EARLY and take their photos. They were willing to climb in ditches, and sit in the middle of an old country back road just to capture these beautiful images! Not to mention we were asked 5 times if we were having car troubles, and one woman even went out of her way to make sure we were ok because she thought we had been hit by a car, because we were all lying on the ground for a photo! If that’s not southern hospitality, I don’t know what is! Well enough of my rambling, meet Emily and Freddy!

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I met Emily my freshman year at Radford, and I can honestly say I loved her from the get go! Emily totally allowed me to be myself without an ounce of shame. She has a heart of gold, and loves to love others so well. Freddy and Emily have been dating for almost 4 years now and I can honestly say that Freddy is one of the weirdest and funniest people I’ve ever met. It’s so crazy to see the two of them together because they compliment each other so well. Emily has the most amazing laugh, maybe that’s a factor as to why we get along so well, we both have really absurd laughs that just ignite a room with joy. Freddy has these insane facial expressions that are hysterical, and totally show his fun and quirky side. These two are so beautiful, and I was blessed beyond words this morning to get to do a for serious shoot with these two this morning.

Emily and Freddy thank you so much for allowing me to capture just an ounce of your love through my wonderful little Canon. I hope you enjoy some of my favorites from our time together, and I pray that I get to capture more of your beautiful souls in the future! Enjoy πŸ™‚

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These two are so funny and so photogenic it’s sickeningly cute!

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This one took a little while to capture but we had so much fun doing so. Who would’ve thought we’d need to apply our geometry skills from high school while taking some fun photos!?

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Emily you’re gorgeous, seriously, Stop it!

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We took these photos at the beautiful Sinkland Farms which is located in Christiansburg, Virginia. If you’ve ever been there you’ll recognize this beautiful spot. It’s a must have for photos.

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These last ones are just so fun and so them it’s beautiful!

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Emily and Freddy, I can’t thank you enough. I hope you enjoyed yourselves getting to run around during the golden hour and get to show off just how awesome y’all are! I love you guys so much πŸ™‚

Chasing the Light: Grayson Highlands

Well hello friends! I’ve missed you guys and I truly miss blogging regularly, but such is life. However I do have some really exciting news!!! I am looking to get way more involved with my photography so I’m excited to bring you the first installment of that new awesomeness! This section will be called “Chasing the Light”! I got the name from a few different venues, I hear a lot of different photographers that I follow use this terminology. In photography LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING, so why would I not use it as a title right, Ha! Now actually I’m also using this because as a developing photographer light is my friend and it helps me to capture beautiful images that I now get to share with y’all!

So without further delay I am so excited to introduce you to this beautiful spot in the middle of the mountains in Southwest Virginia known as Grayson County!

IMG_5355Grayson county is a beautiful little gem placed right in the heart of southwest Virginia. My heart is totally in this beautiful valley that I’ve gotten to call home for almost three years now, and I can’t express the joy I feel when I get to experience it, and explore it. Grayson has so much to offer the world, and it was a beautiful 70 something degree day that I got to spend with some beautiful people with absolutely extravagant souls! I’m ecstatic that I get to share them with you a little bit later in this post. But first let me show you all the beautiful “things” that I found while at this wonderful festival.

IMG_5356 IMG_5347 IMG_5358There were so many colors at this festival it was just unreal! With the overcast skies it made it pretty easy to capture the beauty of all of them! A photographers dream!

IMG_5363 IMG_5353 IMG_5349 IMG_5367 IMG_5365 IMG_5344 IMG_5337All of this pottery was homemade, and each done individually by the vendor themselves! How cool is that?! I wish I was that resourceful and crafty!

IMG_5322 IMG_5326 IMG_5328Don’t even get me started on these beautiful wooden products! Seriously, Thank The Lord I only had $20, because had I had more I would’ve bought everything!!!!

Now onto those beautiful people that I got to spend the entire day with and take lovely pictures of, because each of them is awesome of course!!!

First off is Kristina! This girl is gorgeous, and she allowed me to bask in the beauty of the day, and truly experience the LIGHT, and ALL THE GREEN! it was amazing!

Check this girl out…

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She is so freaking gorgeous… I just can’t even handle it. I was seriously able to just tell her what to do and she had it done with before I’d even finish my request. She’s just beautiful, and believe me she will be on here again!

IMG_5398 IMG_5744This is Adam, he is awesome! I’m so happy he came into my life this year. He’s so funny, and super sweet, and such a ham in front of the camera. He was so shy and I told him to just be natural and he was amazing when he just let loose and allowed himself to be free and himself!

IMG_5986 IMG_5812 IMG_5809This Neal, can you tell that I love him!? Neal is also a semi noob in my life. He’s so funny, and an amazingly bright life in my life. He and I got to emcee together a few weeks ago for one of our schools annual events. I learn so much from this kid everyday and I cannot wait to share more about our amazing adventures together.

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Y’all have met this amazing guy before, and his name is Adam! He’s my super awesome big brother whom I love dearly. Adam is actually from Grayson, and he was our director of this beautiful trip. Adam is amazing and you can believe he’ll be on here again!

Grayson Highlands was amazing, and I am beyond excited to share more of my photography with y’all! It is a major passion of mine that I often don’t share with anyone, and I regret that now. But now I must get some sleep, I’m shooting a sunrise shoot, and 6am comes fast. So enjoy this awesomeness and get ready for more stuff coming soon.