Remember When/ Marriage Mondays


Ever wander what happened to that cute young couple that got married years ago that lives in your house?

We do! We've had that kind of year that has seemed very heavy and there hasn't really been much time to be that young fun couple this year, but thanksgiving weekend remedied all that! After  a few days of traveling to Atlanta, then prepping & cooking all day long (yes! We have a whole new appreciation for Mom, who always did most of the work) and then grieving the loss of Carol's mama a bit,  we were in much need of some fun together. My twin's precious motherinlaw provided just that for our family by providing us tickets to Six Flags!!! Woohoo!!! We were sooo excited about this!  So although we were there with  a party of 19 (oh, yes we were!), Allen & I found some time to escape on a few rides together and relive our "glory days"!

I wasn't sure I still had it in me to ride a few CRAZY roller coasters,  but we braved them! Yay for the 40-somethings! We started the day on...Goliath!!! Which is a ridiculous 165 feet in the air and drops at a speed of 72 mph!! Eek! But honestly,  I just told myself it was gonna be great then yelled "This is awesome!!" over & over on each hill! And it was yall! It was awesome! Holding the hand of my high school sweetheart, screaming down insane hills...Oh what a rush!

Then we proceeded to ride the Mine Train! Did I mention that we hit Six Flags on the way home from our honeymoon 22 (ish) years ago?  And yup! You guessed it...we rode the Mine Train then too! was a good bit jerkier than we recalled (must be the ride...certainly not our age-LOL), but we were so glad we recreated that memory. It was so worth every ache!

Then as we walked thru the Christmas lights (shivering,  I might add) and rode a few more rides, our heavy hearts lifted a bit, and we decided that a day at Six Flags was Exactly what we needed! Holding hands on coasters,  flirting on the swings,  and stopping to pose for silly selfies, wrapped up in each other, delighted our souls and rekindled our love! We got to leave the "adult" world behind for a bit and just be kids together...those same kids who explored Cedar Point in Ohio,  who fell in love on a youth ski trip, and who hit up all the coasters at Six Flags as a last hurrah on our honeymoon! Yes, our backs ache more now than then and our burdens at times are heavier than we ever imagined possible, but the love between us is stronger and more beautiful than we could have ever dreamed of too!  Can't ask for more than that, right?!

So heres to "Remembering When"! Don't forget to take time out of your overly-full schedules this season to walk down memory lane together...whether that's by reliving an old memory or creating  a new one by being a kid again...its so important to remember how much fun you once had together and go do it all over again!

We'd love to hear about some of your favorite pastimes together too! Amusement Park hopping? Skiing? Sports? Whatever it is, get out there & be kids again together!

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol

In Sickness and In Health


22 years ago, when we vowed to love each other "in sickness and in health", we never imagined what the years would bring?  Looking back, I wouldn't want to know what the years would bring anyway. I mean, who really wants to know, right?" If we knew how tough things would get, would we sign up for it? Well, maybe. Hee-hee.  No matter how sick or how well tho, Allen & I would choose each other all over again. In a heartbeat!

Speaking of heartbeat,  mine (Carol's) started acting funny this weekend.  The combination of that, a bit of chest pain & lightheadedness led us to call the doc and head on into urgent care.  After an EKG, chest xray and blood work all came out fine, we were sent home.   Of course Allen was right by my side.  Even tho that meant he had to give up his beloved Saturday afternoon and clean up his weekend projects earlier than planned.   Y'all, this man is such a hard worker and I HATE making him give up his weekends...especially after Hurricane Irma gobbled up our last weekend and entire week really.  Anyhow, home we went without much explanation (except musculoskeletal pain diagnosis,  since I had fallen down a few stairs 5 days before).    

Next morning,  I woke with the same symptoms and thought maybe I was imagining it.  So we went to church and while out to lunch,  got a call from the nurse where I was day before, that said my bloodwork came back and my  "D-Dimer" was English terms, they wanted me to go to the ER for a cat scan to rule out Pulmonary Embolism (a blood clot).  Not really what we wanted to hear of course.   So, we finished eating lunch and now my sweet man sits next to me in the ER.  I really don't know how I got so blessed! Not only was he insistent on taking me (yes, I told him I could drive myself..LOL), but he also has been doting on me and taking such great care of me.  I hated for him to give up more of his weekend (Heck! I even hated giving up Sunday afternoon myself! Sunday afternoons are a bit sacred at our house. Its a time we can rest, or read books, or tinker, or really do whatever we want. Its glorious!).  But give it up he did. Why? Because of the "In Sickness and In Health" clause.  Oh...and because he LOVES me. And thats what love does

Love gives up its weekends; 

Love takes you to the ER; 

Love sits in a cold uncomfortable chair in the ER for hours...just to be by your side;

Love tells you its going to be okay when you're scared; 

Love bears all things, believes all things hopes all things, endures all things..LOVE NEVER FAILS. (another part of our wedding ceremony that comes from I Corinthians 13...aka the Love Chapter in the Bible).

This is just what  we do for each other.  Together we have been thru surgeries, hospital stays, 3 labors, a miscarriage, flus, middle-of-the-night ER visits, debilitating back pain, anxiety and depression and much more.  This is just what Love does!

So here we sit,  at the ER. Several EKGs, too many vials of blood taken (ick), and a cat scan later, turns out, we are all cleared.  Not really sure what my body is doing but seems it's reacting strangely to falling down a set of stairs this past Monday.  In the healing process,  it has decided to give me a bit of a scare!  But the whole process was made so much easier with my Love by my side. Cant imagine going thru these things without him.

Remember to always be there for each sickness and in health!

Cheering you on, 


Lessons From "IRMA"

Lessons From "IRMA"

When we decided to evacuate, we weren't sure what that would entail...a long drive, heavy traffic, high winds?  Would we pack enough? What should we take? What should we leave? So many uncertainties.  But 1 thing we knew...that always remains the same....OUR GOD IS GOOD AND WE CAN TRUST HIM!

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Do your kids want the marriage you have?/Marriage Mondays


22 years ago, we never sat down and wrote out goals for our marriage, or what we wanted our kids to say about our marriage, or anything like that, but somehow we just knew that we wanted to stay best friends and enjoy each other for the rest of our lives.  We somehow knew 1 thing was a must...

We knew we had to be very intentional about keeping our marriage strong each and every day!

Although we had not had any training on this,  we just knew what we wanted and went after it (most days anyway. Hehe).  Well,  this year, on our 22nd anniversary (last weekend), it all paid off!!!   Much to our surprise, our sweet (almost children wrote out 22 beautiful things that they see in our marriage in cute little tiny hearts  and left these little notes all around the house for us. What?!!!  BEST. GIFT.  EVER!!!!

We were totally blown away by what they see in our relationship and it has been such an eye opener for us. It makes us want to work even harder to keep fighting for our marriage.  So, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that your kids are watching your marriage, whether you know it or not.  They see the little ways you look at each other, talk to each other and talk about each other (hopefully its good talk :)  They don't miss a beat. So be careful in your marriage and dont fool yourselves into thinking that your little ones won't pick up on sarcasm, or negativity,  or distrust,  or even...dislike. They are watching and catching it all...every smile, every hug, every encouraging word, every date, every love note!

So without further adieu,  we are so delighted to share with you the 22 notes they wrote ( So, so dear to our hearts yall!). Drum roll please....
1.  You snuggle (our favorite!!)
2.  You learn to agree on things (tough one but we try)
3.  You two always support each other (we know we don't always get this right but are so thankful they notice this)
4.  You make each other happy (awww)
5.  You set aside time for each other 
6.  You dont keep secrets (true, true, true!!!)
7. You still date each other 

8.You are best friends (crazy but true...we'd rather hang out with each other than anyone else. We are total besties.  Heehee)

9. You guys are the best example of a healthy marriage (sweetest compliment)

10.  You communicate (we went thru some tough times to work on this one, but thats a whole other post)
11. Your kids want the marriage you 2 have  (Icing on the cake!!!)
12. You look back on memories together
13. You both LOVVVVVEEE each other
14. You hold each other up
15. You believe in each other
16 You pray for each other (none of the others would matter without this one!)

17.  You fill each other with confidence
18. You both work hard to keep your marriage strong
19.You know how to make each other smile

20. You build each other up

21. You both love the Lord (without the Lords love, we wouldn't even know how to love each other!)

22.  You kiss alot  (Haha...we totally made this one be honest, we have been reading these for a week all thru the house and the tape is no longer sticky. Lost # 22. Bummer! LOL)

Are those just not the sweetest things you've ever read?! 

So, whats the take away on all this?  We didn't just share this to brag on our kids (although they are pretty awesome!).  We really wanted yall to take the opportunity to reflect in your own marriage and see if there are things in your marriage that you DONT want to your kids to see exemplified.  We give you permission this week to take time out of your busy schedule - together - and make a top 10 list..

  • top 10 things you DONT want in your marriage and
  • top 10 things you DO want FOR your marriage

What do you want your kids to say about you in 10 or 20 years?  We (obviously) are still growing and learning right along with each of you.  We have to continue to dig deep and communicate thru the hard times and love on each other, even when its tough.  We certainly have not "arrived" and know we will always be growing in our marriage, but we sure do love encouraging each of you in your marriages and sharing with you what we are learning in ours.

Thanks for letting us share and be a small part of your lives. We are so grateful!

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol


 Wanna know the secret to a fulfilling marriage?


"Honor one another above yourselves"    Romans 12:10

This post may sound a bit familiar.  If you've read our Kingdom Marriage Post (see below), you'll recognize this idea...of serving one another, but this post digs a bit deeper and shares a specific example of what this looks like for us (and maybe even for a few others).

You may be wondering 'who the heck are the people in the photo?'  Well...they are my (Carol's) Mom & Stepdad.  And they are some pretty amazing people, if I do say so myself! They have had to learn firsthand how hard "honoring"one another can be through trials.  Let's talk a bit about the world "honor" first tho.

The word "honor" above is translated in some versions as "Prefer one another"...above yourselves.  That says it even better than just honor, we think!

The words before that in Romans 12:10 say to be "kindly affectionate" to each other.  Several commentaries say that refers to "tender affection", like that between parents and children. And many of us know the abundant sacrifices a parent makes for a child (whether we know that because we are parents or because we had parents who sacrificed for us).

I love the way one commentary says it: "The meaning appears to be this: Consider more worthy than yourself; and let neither grief nor envy affect your mind at seeing another honored and yourself neglected."

Whoa!!!So we are supposed to honor one another AND be happy about it.  Delight in honoring one another?! Whew! That's a tall order!  But I am here to tell you, THIS WORKS in marriage, y'all! It just does!  There's no getting around it.  That leads me to tell you about my amazing man and part of the journey we have been on recently.

So what does "honoring each other" look like in our marriage?

 Let me start by telling you 1 of the many ways Allen honors his wife.  For the past 3 years, he has been so abundantly gracious with our money and time, continually giving me up for a weekend (or even weeks at a time) so I can be with my mom who has been battling ovarian cancer. Certainly not a journey we would have chosen, but God has been so good to us in it all. We can't dare complain. She has been quite the trooper in it all, but so many times has had to be in more of a receiving season than she'd ever wished.  Watching my parents go thru this together and learn how to honor each other even more deeply has been such a beautiful process.  They never give up on each other but just keep putting each other first (even when it's hard).  My stepdad continually gives of his time to sit by my mom for hours on end, holding her hand thru so many doctors appointments and as chemo pumps thru her veins.  And my sweet mama continues to cook for my stepdad and take care of him in the midst of her pain and exhaustion.  They are both such an inspiration!

So...back to braggin on my man tho. (Ha-ha)  Last week Allen had to make sacrifices yet again.  He not only gave me up to travel many miles south (to see my mama), but also worked extra hard to be sure I had a safe vehicle to travel in, traveling money and everything I needed for the trip.  I know its not easy for me to leave him as single Dad for the shopping and in charge of meals (along with everything else), but he always handles it like a champ!  Oh, and did I mention that we HATE being apart? Seriously y'all...we sleep like pretzels! LOL. We find so much comfort in each others arms.  Oh! And he never complains! He totally delights in serving me.  He is the definition of "preferring" his spouse over himself.

This man CONTINUES to serve me and my mama by giving me up as much as necessary so I can be my mama's right hand for a few days.  To have the opportunity to be with mama, helping her with paperwork,  driving her around, cooking dinner, and taking her to the beach (A mama's gotta get some vitamin D! LOL) is such a sweet blessing! Three long years ago, we really didn't know how much more time we'd be granted with her. Never dreamed we would get 3 more GOOD years! Wow!! Again, God is so very good to us!  So each moment we get, we will gladly take!

 And sometimes that means my family makes sacrifices...the oldest daughter holding down the fort while I'm gone; the middle homesick daughter being gracious about mom not being home when she returns from camp, and the hubby not having his snuggle bunny at night. Hee-hee (Don't feel too sorry for the baby of the family. He got to party with cousins and road trip with mom! Ha-ha! However, he did make the sacrifice to keep mom company on a trip, not knowing he would get anything good out of it.  Sweet boy!)

But that man of mine is constantly serving & honoring me, and this is just one of the many ways he does. Words cant express how grateful I am for him....for his love, his lightheartedness, and especially for his servant's heart. Its has blessed this undeserving wife time and time again. God knew this selfish heart would need someone to show it the tangible love of Jesus Christ...many many times, before I would pick up on it and begin to give it back.  I am a slow learner at times, but Allen continues to show me love thru my kind moments and my grumpy moments (Don't be too shocked y'all! We all have those, right? Hee-hee)

So we just wanted to encourage all of you to find ways to "prefer" each other. 

We know that wont look the same for all married couples tho. In addition, some days that may mean making small sacrifices and some days it may mean making huge sacrifices. Oh, and if you have a spouse that is a little slow on picking up the "preferring one another" vibe (like I was...oops), hang in there.  Keep on loving that spouse and putting him or her first.   Eventually, they will pick up on the vibe and play the "honoring" game right along with you.  Some of us are slower learners, but when we do catch on, we've got it for life! (Seen the movie Fireproof anyone?) 

So hang in there and keep on honoring each other. Your marriage is worth it!

Cheering you on,

Allen & Carol

Maddy Cloud | Florida State University| 2017| College Senior Session

What happens when you combine style & beauty with a charming personality?  You get Maddy!  She is one of the cutest gals!  Her personality is as large as life and from the time we met her (years ago), to now, she has always been so much fun to be around!  So, you can only imagine how honored we were when she asked us to photograph her for her Senior College Senior Shoot!  What?!!! She just recently graduated from FSU!!!

We knew she would show up lookin gorgeous, so we had to find the perfect backdrop.  Fortunately, we had some sweet friends who recently purchased some new property in our charming little small town of Monticello, and when we scoped it out, we knew this was it!!!  Then when Maddy showed up in this gown, we were just short of shrieking!!! EEK!!!

So who is this girl anyway?  Well, she just happens to be the youngest of 3...all girls...and comes from an amazing family!  Her parents are some of the sweetest people we know...always so overly generous and so kind.  And we have had the honor of photographing her sisters' weddings as well!  We have had a lot of fun getting to know her a bit more at the weddings and especially at her Senior Session!

Maddy is an amazing writer (with her own blog) and a fashion-lover (as if you couldn't tell). To say she is talented, doesn't begin to do her justice either.  She is a sweetheart with such a zest for life and to top it all off, this girl adores her family!  Can it get any better than that?

We are so excited for you, Maddy, as you take on the world! We know you have big dreams and won't be stopped at anything until you reach your goals!  Congratulations on being a recent Florida State University Graduate!!!  (Go Noles!!!) And thanks for letting us be a small part of your new adventure! We loved every crazy minute of it (including helping you climb a huge rock mountain in that epic dress...all just to get the perfect photo! Ha-ha. You're a champ!).    Keep on dreaming and reaching for the stars!  You're destined for great things!

Enjoy the journey,

Allen & Carol

I Only Have Eyes For You | Marriage Mondays

how to have a lasting marriage

Happy Monday everyone. This is Allen bringing you the marriage mondays post this week.  This week, I really want the husbands to read this.  This is something I feel is extremely important and comes from something I've had to deal with personally.
Every man has a built in desire to be respected by their wives. Some men think that respect means that your wife just does everything you tell her to do without question and she is to serve you your food and drink at your command. I'm here to tell you that that is not respect, that is fear!  I for one do not want my wife to ever have to fear me. Why would anyone want that. Trust me when I say that it is way better when your wife truly respects you because you earn her respect by treating her like a princess and honoring her.  

     Don't get me wrong, God designed us men to be the leaders of our homes, but that does not mean a dictatorship.  We are to lead by following God's will for our lives and serving our family.  That's what makes a real man!  Trust me it's not easy and it takes a real man to take the job and not give up.  I'm by no means perfect at this, but that is my aim and I have the respect and admiration of my beautiful wife.
     There is one very important issue that I have noticed and thought needed to be discussed.  The issue is men not honoring their wives with their eyes.  Trust me, it's hard not to look at another pretty woman, especially when they are all over tv and magazines and billboards and the internet.  However, the Bible says that "even if a man looks at another woman lustfully, he has already commited adultery in his heart."  That statement just tears at my heart because I, unfortunately have struggled with this in the past, and I am extremely unproud of that.  Fortunately, I learned that I am not the only man that has struggled with this and I read a book a few years ago called "Every mans battle."  The book is a great read and the best thing about it was that it actually gave me a tool to help me fight the temptation.  It says that whenever you see an image of a woman that is inappropriate, BOUNCE YOUR EYES, before you are even able to make an inappropriate thought about her.  Also put barriers in place that make it hard for you to even seek out such images on purpose.  
Here are some practical ways that I fight this temptation.

  •  One thing is that I allow my wife to look through all magazines that come into our home before I look at them and I have given her full editing privileges to either color in or cut out images I shouldn't see, or even ones that she is just uncomfortable with me seeing.  It's wonderful, because I feel free to look at the magazines later and she doesn't have to worry about me stumbling accross anything.  
  • Another thing I do is turn my head whenever an inapropriate commercial or scene in a movie or tv show comes on.  It doesn't have to be anything explicitely sexy or pornographic, but even if a woman on the show is just wearing something a little too revealing or tight, it still makes my wife feel valued and respected when I turn my head.  I do the same thing when we are together in public and it just builds more and more respect and trust from my wife.

Now there are plenty of times when my wife is not around and an image presents itself. That's when the bouncing your eyes has got to become a habit.  The moment you don't do it, that little tiny rush gets in your head and then it is just a matter of time that you completely give in and fall into a habit of looking, that is extremely hard to get out of. Also, it just totally hardens your heart and you don't have a true peace and it litterally starts tearing your life apart.  

I am so much freeer and at peace now that I am fighting this fight and the more time that goes by that I don't give in, the easier it is to fight and it is actually much less of a snare or desire.  I am also so much more satisfied with the beautiful lady that God gave me and my heart beats hard for her whenever she's around.

Trust me guys, it's worth the fight and your marriage is worth it!  Don't let the world lie to you and tell you it's ok to look. It's a slow fade down a path that leads only to destruction and it is not where you want to go.  TRUST ME!

Cheering you on,
Allen & Carol

Kirsten Whiddon | Chiles High School Senior Session | Tallahassee, Florida

Senior Shoots do not have to be boring!!!  This one was a laugh a minute!!!  We had so much fun with the Whiddon family at Destin, photographing their beautiful daughter and her friends for a senior session.  Let me back up a bit...we have been photographing this family for many years! They have been some of our biggest cheerleaders and fans in our business adventures.  We look forward to photographing them each year.  We always schedule it for the "golden hour" so that they get the most epic sunsets!  And they do.  What's more is that they are the best sports.  Jump shots? No problem for this family.  They are always up for an adventure when it's time to do their shoots.  We absolutely love that about them.  Since they believe in Allen and his vision for their photos, it makes our job so easy, and in addition, it allows Allen the freedom to get the photos he's dreaming of!  Now that's a win-win! 

They are also precious friends of ours, and that makes this senior session even more special! We are so excited to celebrate this young lady and all the hard work she has put in over the years.  It's going to be so exciting to see where God takes her in the future.  Lord knows, she's got amazing parents, grandparents and a sweet brother to be a part of her support team!  And her zest for life, which makes her so much fun to be around, is really going to take her places!

Kirsten, you have worked hard and accomplished much!  It's time to spread your wings and fly, girl! You've got this!  We are so proud of you and so thankful to have had the opportunity to photograph you & hang out with you and your friends.  You keep us laughing!

Cheering you on!!!

Allen & Carol