Well this past week has been a bit of a doozy for us. After traveling for Christmas and then again for New Years, we were so excited to finally have a week at home and relax a bit and tackle a long house projects list. We had all kinds of house projects on the to-do list and were ready to tackle them! Bring it on! That’s when we hit a bump in the plan.

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Peace in the Storm | Marriage Mondays

marriage photographers north florida

Words cant really begin to describe what's in my heart and what a tough few weeks it's been. Watching so many people’s lives be so devastated from the Hurricane Michael has been completely heartbreaking.  And then I sort of got so immersed and lost in disaster relief that I let the 1 year anniversary of Mama's death sneak up on me.  I knew it was coming but just didn’t allow myself to focus on it too much. Disaster relief has been such a balm to my soul. Truly! Wednesday I had the sweet opportunity to take supplies to my aunt’s aunt (which well...she claims me as family because well...ummm..she used to change my diapers. LOL. And she's known my grandparents longer than I have. So Yes! She’s family!). It was such an absolute delight to travel to Cottondale, Florida and meet up with her and share all the love (AKA supplies that other beautiful people donated) with her and her family. We got to sit and eat lunch together (thanks to my precious Father-in-law & Mother-in-law, who graciously drove us there & treated us all to lunch) ..and we shared the most precious conversations and tears over a Hardees burger. Imagine that! She shared her horrific storm story with me and also some sweet memories of my grandparents (who have both passed on).  It was such a blessing! Not sure the Cottondale Hardees has ever seen such love and tears in their little restaurant.

But that is NOT the main point of this post. I'm getting to that tho.  hehe.  The next day ended up being the 1 yr anniversary of Mamas death. Ugh! I thought I was mostly prepared for it. Umm. Not at all!!!  The day was full of errands and busyness with a few sweet moments of remembrance sprinkled in between (and I do mean a few...not quite enough for me, as it turns out). I am quite the processor and I really need time to process grief. I am not able to stuff it for long. All that to say that by the end of that day, I was a hot mess...emotionally. I just was in a deep funk! Sometimes that just happens with grief.  By the time my head hit my pillow, the tears were still just a flowin. And here it is..the point of the post...guess what my incredible man did?! HE PRAYED OVER ME!!! Yes, he did!!! And I cant even begin to tell you the peace that flooded my soul instantly! I had been anxious and emotional all day and in that very moment, I felt nothing but peace! Really! It was so beautiful! it is..short and sweet…Husbands, pray over your wives! We need it! We really do! It is one of the best marriage investments you can ever make. And on that note, (prepare yourself for a silly shift)… also… eat ice cream together! Haha. Some serious encouragement and silly encouragement! Heehee. Eating ice cream together is what you would have found us doing tonight. It was a sweet reward for pushing thru some crazy few weeks together.

Just don't forget each other and to invest in each other. Pray for each other and pray OVER each other. It’s huge! Really! And sneak away together when you can and most definitely… eat ice cream together (with lots of toppings)! Especially after a crazy season!

So there it is! Our best marriage advice for you this week! LOL. Keepin it real and…

Cheering you on, 

Allen & Carol

Generosity in Marriage

Generosity in Marriage

The past few months have literally flown by. Between keeping up with our kids busy schedules, our own busy schedules, pouring into friends’ lives and squeezing in some get-away-family-camping time we have been missing the opportunity to post for Marriage Mondays. But…seasons!

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The Four Seasons of Marriage | FALL

The Four Seasons of Marriage | FALL

Fall is a time for new routines,  new schedules,  new rhythyms!  A time to take inventory and have a bit of a fresh start… the Fall Season of Marriage is a time for us to BE INTENTIONAL!  A time to really focus on what we will do to grow our marriage and strengthen our marriage and make it a  priority! 

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 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

Escape Together / Marriage Mondays


On a scale of 1-10, how important would you say getting away together is for your marriage.  We're going with an 11! We can't emphasize enough how vital this is.  With so many people and things needing our attention, energy, encouragement, love, and time it could be super easy for us to push "getting away" to the back burner and decide we dont have time for it, or can't afford it.  The truth is however, that we can't afford not to.  Our marriage is worth whatever effort it takes, whatever money it takes, to make it happen! Our marriage is worth it. Our kids are worth it. We are worth it!

We were reminded of that this week when we got the opportunity to escape for a few days. Allen had a business trip to West Palm Beach, and the kids and I (Carol) joined the fun! Yes...we took the kids...hold up on that tho.  My family lives in that area, so it was a no brainer for us to go along and visit with family.  In the middle of the week however,  Allen and I escaped to stay at The Hilton in West Palm (and the kids got to stay and visit with family. Win-Win!) It was ridiculously beautiful! Allen's conference was right next door at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, so it was perfect. For dinner, instead of staying for the conference dinner party, we decided to go for a stroll to eat at City Place. Then we walked, and walked, and walked! It was so refreshing and relaxing! We got to see parts of West Palm that we wouldn't have seen, had we stayed in at the hotel.  It was so much fun exploring the posh places together and dreaming and getting to have uninterrupted conversations.  As we passed an Aston Martin Dealership, we just had to stop for a photo.  Dream Cars!!!

Then we went back to the hotel and snuggled up in a chair by the pool together, relishing in the perfect night air and our sweet relationship. The next morning,  the conference finished and we decided to go for a drive and explore some more.  We happened upon this gorgeous old church.  I totally squealed...and begged Allen to turn around and find a parking space.  I LOVE old churches!!!  It was truly breathtaking yall!

This was exactly what our marriage needed. No agenda. No plans. Just exploring and dreaming together.  You see, although we have a great marriage, we are still human (duh 🙂) and no marriage is perfect...translating - we have been struggling a bit lately.  In all honesty, we really were just struggling too much to put a marriage monday post together last week.  We tried. We really did.  But then we came to a point that we realized we were going to have to let it go for the week, for the sake of our relationship. We have been super busy pouring into our family, our kids (end of year school projects, ball games, etc), and our photog biz has been kicking! Yay!! All good stuff, but it can easily take a toll if we aren't super diligent to invest back into our marriage. 

So here we are...back at it again!  Taking the time to take strolls together...holding hands of course (heehee), cuddling with each other, and dreaming together. And maybe, just maybe our honesty will be an encouragement to you,  knowing even we struggle at times and have to reevaluate and go have some fun together!

So...heres where the rubber meets the road.  We want to encourage you not only to read these posts, but apply what you're learning to your awesome marriage as wel! What does your marriage need today?  Has it been a while since you adventured together?  When's the last time you held hands while going nowhere in particular? How often do you dream together? Go ahead...we give you permission to plan an adventure together! It could be as simple as trying a new restaurant in the next town over, or going to the beach (or mountains) for the day (or weekend - even better), or going biking together...or playing a mean game of frisbee golf! Haha.  Whatever it is that you both love to do, put it on the calendar and get away for a few hours at least.  Your marriage is worth the investment of adventure and the payoff is priceless!

Sometimes when you're struggling in your marriage you may feel you need to get away FROM each other, when in reality probably what you need most is to get away WITH each other.  Works for us every time!

Cheering you on, 

Allen & Carol