Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween: Pregaming it

Here at the Stanley household, we're all about prolonging holiday-related festivities for as long as possible.

We kicked things off with a halloween parade at Jayci's preschool. A parade which concluded with cupcake decorating, or rather cupcake-eating without a whole lot of "decorating" for the two year old class. But regardless, it was a ridiculously cute affair. Ridiculously.
Even Wonder Woman needs a cupcake break every once in a while right?
With her preschool BFF, the cutest little bee ever!
The chaotic well-organized decorating table.
What? She likes cupcakes, just like her momma.
After that, Jayci napped for two hours in an unprecedented sugar-induced slumber. Then she woke up and refused to take her costume off - so we went to the park in her Wonder Woman alter-ego. And met with some of our sweet friends to pick out and carve pumpkins.
It turns out that Wonder Woman is very fast and never stops running and it's difficult to get non-blurry pictures of all the running.

I pick THIS ONE mom.
My favorite shot of the two cuties. Seriously, Naomi is just the cutest thing ever. Well, her and Jayci are both the cutest things ever.
My beautiful friend Dianne and her beautiful baby girl.

After selecting the pumpkins, we had ourselves a friendly little pumpkin carving competition. According to the facebook "votes," I believe I would be considered the winner. However, I am pretty sure that was simply because people felt sorry for my little bunny with the toothpick holding his "buck teeth" in place. Because clearly, Brad and Dianne have the pumpkin carving skillz among us (theirs are the cool, shaded, glowing ones). Zack and Sabo declared that mine was better than Adams, but his was "gangster." And they said that the reason mine had ants crawling on it and his didn't is that the ants knew to stay away from that gangster pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Festivities at the Fall Festival

Well, I suppose a weekend re-cap on a Friday is better than a Thursday right? Oh, it's worse? Right.

It's like I'm getting farther and farther "into the weeds" (as my friend Megan would say).

That said, I really wanted to post a recap from this year's fall festival at camp; however, seeing as I have 1804 other things I need to get done right now, you will have to settle for a pictorial recap. I'm sorry you will have to miss out on my usual stunning wording and hilarity. Try not to be too disappointed.

Inner city ministry fall festival atlanta
Someone please notice the way Jayci was grinning at J-man. She loves him.
Fall Festival near Macon, GA in RobertaLee was retrieving Jayci for me so she wouldn't jump into the lake. Thanks Lee.
Speaking of Lee, he totally took this picture. He was in my photography class this summer, and he kept reminding me of this fact before begging endlessly to use my camera.
Toddrick was concentrating hard on painting his pumpkin. Well that and he has a serious eye-injury thanks to his older brother. But that's another story for another day.

pumpkin painting at the fall festival for Camp GraceHay rides at fall festival near Macon, GA

Monday, October 25, 2010

Basically my hero

This kid is probably the coolest kid ever. Do you think we could teach Jayci to have sweet moves like him?

But seriously. He's like my hero. Or something.

I Heart Faces: Pink Week

This week at I Heart Faces, they are celebrating pink week for breast cancer awareness. The picture I REALLY wanted to enter is the one I didn't take, but it involved Zack's entire football team wearing pink wristbands and sweatbands in support of breast cancer awareness. It was quite the site, but since I already was noticeable enough at his game, I didn't want to embarrass him any further by pulling out my giant camera too!

Instead, here's a quick pic of Jayci's sweet little friend Nora. Is she not the CUTEST thing ever?! I love her, and her momma is one of my dearest friends too. I love that little birthmark on her cheek - it's just perfect!
I Heart Faces photo contest entry baby picture pink
For more inspiring and beautiful PINK entries, visit I Heart Faces!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A List To Grow On

I can't believe it's already the weekend. I feel as though the week flew by, and I can't even remember what I did.

Here's a few snippets/thoughts/ramblings from the week. Try to contain your enthusiasm at the caliber of this post. For realz.

1-I was feeling feisty and helpful and domestic on Monday night, so I thought I'd try and make dinner for once (please note, Adam does most of the cooking around here). Unfortunately, I had just put the Rice-a-roni on the stove to brown when my friend Danielle called. I might have gotten a little distracted, when all of a sudden I heard the fire alarm beep a few times. And realized I had messed up my super-complicated-extra-fancy-dinner by COMPLETELY charring the rice. I called Adam in defeat and he whipped something gourmet up for us. Reminding me why he usually cooks and not me. Just sayin.

2- My talented baby sister (not the one who recently got married, the other one . . . and don't worry, I only have 2) recently got hired (out of 3000 applicants) as a pastry chef for the Saint Regis hotel in Atlanta. Hello big time. Anyways, I'm totally impressed with her and a little jealous of her glamorous life. She is currently making a giant gingerbread house for the lobby of the hotel. Last week she made dessert for Lucy Liu and then saw Dennis Quaid when he got locked out of his hotel room in his bathrobe. Mostly, I'm excited that I get to eat her goodies for free all the time. And also I'm excited that she promised on facebook (for all the world to see) to make me some pumpkin goodies soon! Pumpkin is quite possibly my favorite ever (but don't hold me to that, I reserve the right to be fickle in my dessert preferences).

3- I apologize for the late invite, but TOMORROW is the Fall Festival at camp. There will be food and fun and food and tours and kiddos and pumpkins and, did I mention, free food? If anyone wants to come, we'd love to have you!

4-I could have sworn I had more to tell you. Unfortunately, my brain won't let me remember what those things are right now. So I'll end there. Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pictures are fun

As I mentioned in this post, I have been taking lots of pictures for people lately. Which is fun, and I don't want those pictures to completely take over the blog. I also, however, don't want my loyal blog readers to miss out on them . . . so I'm compromising with a recap post and a FEW of my favorite pictures. Now remember, with me, "few" might be a relative term.

My sweet friend Libby had a gorgeous little baby boy. He is seriously adorable, and they're a beautiful family.
My cousin Jacob was in town for my sister's wedding, and asked me to take some senior pictures for him.
The Smooklers got engaged. And married, that's why they're now "the Smooklers" -- but I haven't blogged their wedding yet. Patience people.
Valerie and Jon got married. And it was amazing, seriously the coolest little wedding ever.
My friends Suz and Tom also got married. And it was entirely because of me. Ok, maybe not ENTIRELY.
All that, and there's more coming! Someday soon, once I get my act together. Come to think of it, that might not be soon necessarily. But the pictures, those will be soon.

Ok I'm done rambling. Now go leave me some love on my photo sessions so I don't feel like a bad photographer. Thank you and happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One of THOSE days

You know the days I'm talking about? The ones where it's just a totally normal day, like any other day . . . but for some reason you recognize the beauty in your own existence? Jayci has been a joy all day. Seriously, almost no temper tantrums, lots of snuggles, chattering away all day, ASKING to take a nap (umm, who are you? is what I was wondering). We spent all day playing and hanging out and Jayci was just being a fun little girl.

I am sitting on the couch getting a little work done online while Adam takes Jayci to the gym (we're working on her abs right now . . .) and I realized that I needed to document THIS day. This ordinary day. Why? Because I think that sometimes I only write about Jayci's temper tantrums, her obstinacy, her "terrible twos" . . . and I forget to remind y'all (and myself) what a perfectly wonderful little two year old she really is. And how much I love being her mama.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Weekend Recap Posts in a Row

My last post was a weekend recap from LAST weekend . . . but at least this means I'm slightly more on top of things this weekend. Ok, it actually means I'm just choosing to be on top of this rather than to tackle the massive amounts of laundry waiting for me in our suitcases. We went to Florida for a wedding this weekend. And there's nothing I hate more than unpacking and doing laundry up after a trip. I figure since we've been living out of suitcases for months now, what difference does a few days make?

See how I'm basically the master at procrastination and putting things off? Impressive right?

Anyways, Adam's little sister was the maid of honor in a wedding in Florida this weekend - and I was the photographer . . . since Adam grew up with the bride (she calls him 'brother' even!) we decided to make the trek as a family to Destin. Since I wasn't taking enough pictures for the event already (in my sarcastic voice) we decided that it would be a great idea to take some family pictures on the beach Saturday morning before the wedding. Here's a few of my favs:

Is anyone else as impressed with Jayci's ups as I am? Now we just need Zack and Sabo to teach her their moves and she's bound to be a WNBA player someday!
And a sneak peek from the wedding. It was a beautiful, love-filled, emotional, PERFECT wedding! I'll have more pictures up on my new photography blog soon!
*Ps - Jordan and Steven are on their honeymoon right now, but when they get back they will be raising support and then going to South Africa for a year to do missions in an orphanage. Pray for them if you think about it!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Weekend of Fun

I consider it a great accomplishment to get my weekend recap up before the next weekend begins. I realize Thursday is cutting it a little close, but I like to live on the edge. Actually, I don't at all, but whatever.

On Friday, Jayci and some of her friends went to the pumpkin patch. Where Jayci proved her model tendencies with this gem of a pose she came up all on her own. For realz.

Jayci and her friend "baby Nora" - they're the cutest!
Pretty blue eyed girl. Zack and Sabo already said that they think she's going to be trouble with the boys.

Look how cute my preggers friend Emily is! But seriously y'all, she had her baby like a few days after this. Crazy pretty.

Look! I even made it into a picture at the pumpkin patch.
After our pumpkin festivities on Friday, I had a girl's night out with two of my dearest friends and three of the kiddos from downtown. It involved cheese dip and Cold Stone Ice cream . . . so basically, a perfect night!

Saturday we went to Jayci's sweet friend's bday party. Jayci fully enjoyed the princess bounce castle, except she didn't want to be in it when there were other kids in there. So we let her enjoy it while Naomi opened her presents and Adam went in there with her. I think she would have been wiser to jump with the other kids rather than her daddy, because he delighted in jumping right next to her and knocking her over. At one point, the entire bounce house started knocking over from his shenanigans and I had to reassure everyone that it was just my husband and not a disobedient child.

Everyone enjoyed delicious and cute Hello Kitty cupcakes. Jayci especially, because she is her mothers' daughter.

Saturday evening, we left Jayci in Nana and Pop-pop's capable hands, and headed downtown to see Zack's football game. He had been telling us how good he was and we wanted to see it for ourselves. It was a wonderful game and he really was the star. We had posters and I was so proud when he made tackle after tackle, caught an interception, and made a touchdown! I'm pretty sure he didn't have trouble spotting us in the crowd. In fact, he seemed a little embarrassed by our exuberance. That is until his teammates started asking if we could be their mentors too. Cause we're just that cool.

Unfortunately, we were rear-ended a week or two ago, and we have a rental van. It's very FANC-YEE and uses a keyless entry system both to open the doors and to start up. Which is all well and good until the battery dies and you can't get into your van and you're stuck in the middle of a less-than-desirable neighborhood after dark when they turn off all the lights on the football fields. Luckily Zack's mom, uncle, and grandmother refused to leave us alone there. And we had a lot of fun hanging out in the parking lot waiting for the rental car people to let us into our van. Imagine our surprise when he rolled up in a sweet Cadillac, prompting Zack's mom to ask: "where did y'all rent this car from, the street?!" Ha.

On Sunday we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. Mostly because we'll take any excuse to eat. Especially to eat a lot of really delicious good including (but not limited too) turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cheesy mashed potatoes, biscuits, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, cinnamon maple whipped cream, gravy, green beans . . . I could keep going but now I'm hungry and need a snack. But trust me, it was delicious. I'm already looking forward to our NEXT Thanksgiving meal!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Radical Disciple Making

I keep sitting down to write blogs and coming up with a big fat nothing. I apologize for the delay. And I'm feeling like no one reads this blog anymore anyways, so it's probably only my mom who noticed!

I know I still owe y'all the second half of Sarah's wedding, plus I need to give you a weekend update from this past weekend because it was a good one. . . but for now, I feel like I should talk to you about chapter five of Radical. If you've read my previous posts on Radical (here, here and here), you know that I like the book and think it could be somewhat life-changing if people read it and start doing and working on the things Platt talks about. That said, chapter 5 is my favorite chapter of the book. Why? Because Platt is talking about making disciples and the importance of personally investing your life into others. And mentoring? Is a little bit close to our hearts, seeing as we're moving to the 22nd most dangerous neighborhood in the U.S. in order to mentor the least of these. Although, as a side note, I read here today that the study stating the most dangerous neighborhoods is being disputed because recent info shows that Pittsburgh (#22) is actually the most dangerous neighborhood in Atlanta.

As another side note I would like to apologize because I have apparently forgotten how to write in my blogging hiatus.

Back to disciple-making. Platt spends a lot of time in chapter five pointing out what Jesus' ministry looked like while He was on earth. And yes, he fed a lot of people, healed people, taught people, turned over some tables, performed miracles . . . but the most important thing he did (according to him in John 17), was invest his life intentionally and fully into 12 men: "All he wanted was a few men who would think like he did, love as he did, see as he did, teach as he did, and serve as he did. All he needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world" (Radical 88). I cant help but think that if Christians would follow Christ's example and really invest their lives into a few people, then the world would be changed. Literally changed.

I have had so many people tell me that they don't really think anything can ACTUALLY change in the inner-city. And it's true that there are systematic, BIG, overwhelming problems in the inner-city. To quote my friend Tim, "the inner-city is hemorrhaging." I quickly get overwhelmed by the size of the problems and it's easy to start thinking BIGGER to try and find a solution - like more programs, more money, more buildings, more whatever . . . But I truly believe that if we can inspire and motivate people who love Jesus to come love and invest their lives into people in the city, Atlanta can (and will) be transformed.

Unfortunately, making disciples is messy. It's harder than planning an outreach or building a big church building. Harder how? Because you have to make yourselves vulnerable. You have to open yourself up to hurt in order to love and disciple other people. And the truth is that you probably will get hurt. And you wont be able to change or "save" everyone. I have to tell myself that over and over again with the kids we're working with. I mean, even Jesus had one of his disciples who betrayed him. Who didn't get it, who missed the point, and was enticed by evil to follow the world instead of his Savior. And that, I must imagine, hurt Jesus. Because he was fully human. And if Jesus was hurt in the process of making disciples, I should consider it a privilege to have the same thing happen to me.

We believe, wholeheartedly, in the importance of investing our lives in others. In the ability of people spending themselves on behalf of the poor and down-trodden to literally transform a community. Dream with me for a minute and think about what would happen if people started joining with us in disciple-making in our neighborhood downtown. What if people who loved Jesus believed with MLK Jr said: "Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” Meaning that having the most dangerous neighborhoods in the US less than an hour away was a big deal. It threatened justice in the backyards of East Cobb, of Woodstock, of Roswell. And if people decided to do something about it. And if we mobilized and started making disciples of the next generation? What if the 22nd most dangerous neighborhood in the U.S. suddenly became a haven where people loved each other? Where we served our community and they served one another in return? Where the neighborhood wasn't marked by violence or fear but by love and peace. I think people might notice. The WORLD might notice. And be transformed.

"Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying. It is messy. It is slow, tedious, even painful at times. It is all these things because it is relational. Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his flory. He has given us people, and he has said, "Live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them. Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead other to follow me. In the process you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth."

"The plan of Christ ifs not dependent on having the right programs or hiring the right professionals but on building and being the right people - a community of people - who realize that we are all enabled and equipped to carry out the purpose of God for our lives."

"All of a sudden, holiness is defined by what we do. We are now a community of faith taking Jesus at his word and following his plan, even when it does not make sense to the culture around us and even when it costs us."

"I praised God for the beauty of the body of Christ. Brought together from different backgrounds, and having journeyed through different struggles, we find ourselves joined together as one in the life of Christ. Disciple making involves identifying with a community of believers who show love to one another and share life with one another as we live together for the glory of God."

*Visit Marla's blog to read more responses to chapter 5*

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's About Time . . . Sarah's Wedding

I know y'all have been patiently waiting for two whole weeks now - so I figured it was about time I posted some pictures from my sister's wedding. Seriously, my pictures don't do justice to how beautiful it all was. She was stunning. Hash was gorgeous (sorry Hash, but it's true). The ceremony was so moving (evidenced by my ugly cry throughout): it was intimate and special and one of my favorite ceremonies I've ever seen or been a part of. It took place in this really beautiful small old church, and my Opa married them. Sabo and Zack ushered people to their seats, Jayci walked down the aisle holding Samaya's hand, and Sincere proudly handed the couple their rings at just the right time (oh and Jayci was shockingly perfectly behaved. And she walked nicely down the aisle and finished with a little dancing to the cello music up at the front before retreating to sit with Adam's parents for the rest of the ceremony). Opa had the couple face the audience throughout the ceremony, which was a beautiful touch that added intimacy, especially in such a small venue. When opa cried, and Hash teared up . . . I might have lost it a little (Or a lot. Whichever).

I made a conscious decision to enjoy this day without worrying about being "the photographer" (she had hired Our Labor of Love after all, and clearly they would do a better job documenting than i would). I did, however, take a few pictures (I mean, I just can't help myself really - particularly when I'm surrounded by so much love and beauty!)

I was so impressed by how calm and collected Sarah was on her wedding morning -- she's getting her make-up done here.
Atlanta wedding photographer henna tattoo hands bride
Beautiful bride getting ready at salon in Atlanta wedding photographyUmm, hello? My sister is beautiful.
Atlanta wedding photographer make-up artist and bride
Bride getting make-up done before her wedding by Atlanta wedding photographerJayci wearing the little flower girl headband I made her.
Flower girl headpiece by Atlanta wedding photographerSarah reading the sweet love letter (sealed with wax) that Hash wrote her. So cute - I love them.
Reading love letter from fiance - portrait by Atlanta wedding photographerThe flower girls playing together.
Flower girls playing before the wedding by Atlanta wedding photographerDad and Sarah practicing their dance for the reception.
Picture by Atlanta wedding photographer - father-daughter practicing dance
Portrait of bride and her parents before the weddingSarah's bridesmaids helping her get her jewelry on before the ceremony.
Henna tattoo on bride's hand in Atlanta, wedding photographerGetting all dressed and putting the shoes on. It's almost time!
Bride getting ready shot with henna tattoo on hand - wedding photographer in Atlanta
*There is a large break in my pictures between getting ready and after the ceremony - I'll have to fill those in later for you with official pictures from the official photographer.

I just had to include this one of my handsome ushers and ring-bearer. THERE's that smile Sabo - I love it when you smile!Ushers and ring-bearer Atlanta inner-city ministry*You can also see some more pictures I took of wedding details on my parents' company's blog here.


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