2017 Graduates - Senior Portraits for UNC, Duke, NCCU, NCSU, and more!

Here's to the Class of 2017! It took a lot to get to where you are now and that kind of hard work and determination deserves some recognition. We're doing a limited run of graduation sessions this year (before I myself hang my hat up and head back to school for a few years!) and would love to help preserve your memories!

Here's how it works: in groups! Pull together your squad and let's make this special. You know your ins and outs, your quirks, your loves, and what makes y'all y'all. Let's make that shine in a 1-hour portrait session with you and all your favorite people! Life's just more fun when you're together.

It's just $350 for a full hour of dazzling photos and fun for up to 4 graduates!  The package fee includes location planning, creative brainstorming, and ultimately delivery of 80-100 digital photos with printing rights, guaranteed to arrive before your graduation (but the goal is within 2 weeks of the shoot!). You're welcome to add on additional folks to the shoot at the rate of $50 per person. The more the merrier!

So whether you're a graduating ...

UNC Tar Heel in Chapel Hill;
Duke Blue Devil, NCSSM Unicorn, or NCCU Eagle in Durham;
member of the NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh;
or high school senior at one of the Triangle's many fantastic high schools,

... this one's for you! Take advantage of this opportunity to capture some awesome photos of you and your crew. This is a time to celebrate and be proud of - this is your moment!

Email me at calvaryandco@gmail.com to secure your spot with a deposit today! (If these dates don't work, let me know and we'll make it happen!)

Wednesday, May 3

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Sunday, April 30

7:00 AM

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2:45 PM

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5:15 PM

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Friday, May 12

7:00 AM

7:45 AM

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2:45 PM

4:00 PM

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Additional dates and times available upon request.

William + Whitney: Married in Dunn

This young couple has a special place in my heart. When I first met them, they were students at the North Carolina School of Science & Math in Durham, NC. It being my own alma mater, I was connecting students to our local church by leading a small group and Bible study every week. That's how I met William & Whitney. Fellow Unicorns, separated only by a few years.

Even back then, these two were inseparable. They would walk to church together (all 1.5 blocks), eat together, throw a ball together (only one of them would end up playing college-level softball - ahem, Whitney), and support each other while away from home at school. And they were high-schoolers. As a friend on the outside looking in, I knew that some day soon God would unite these two in marriage at the foot of the cross. But I never guessed I'd be there to witness and document the moment!

After NCSSM, Whitney went off to play softball in the mountains at Appalachian State and William stayed in Durham to study at Duke. I had the privilege of introducing William to some Campus Outreach staff at Duke, where he jumped in to serve his fellow classmates and point them to Jesus. Somewhere in the mix, William also started serving with me to lead the very small group I first met him in! It was wonderful to get to know him more over the years and see how much his love for Whitney grew and developed into a 'lay-my-life-down-for-you-every-day' kind of love. I was over-the-moon when he told me they were getting married and wanted me to photograph their wedding.

They tied the knot on May 17th and now, they're happily married and living just on the edge of Duke's East campus. Whitney is finishing up her last year of Speech-Language Pathology at UNC and William is joining staff with Campus Outreach to continue teaching Duke students about Jesus and his saving love and grace. And he's currently raising support, so please reach out to him if you have a heart to support college ministry! We're supporting him, so you should too! :) Just email will (dot) gilmore (at) campusoutreach (dot) com.

Point is: I love these two. You don't give up your birthday to shoot just anyone's wedding, you know?

Now, on to the pictures ...

Luke + Colleen: Engaged in Baltimore

With a 39-week pregnant wife, I booked an engagement shoot for a young couple in our church.

Thankfully, Eliza held off and wasn't born until two weeks after this shoot - but Colleen and Luke were ready and willing to help me deliver a baby in the middle of a photoshoot if necessary. They're very dear, understanding friends - and I am so glad we were able to get together to take some fantastic portraits of them hanging out around Baltimore!

Without further ado (6 months after the shoot - that's what having a baby will do to you), I give you: the future Smiths (coming June 2015).

 

7 Things Better Than Hanging Out With A Screaming Baby

On Tuesday and Friday nights, I turn into SuperDad.

My wife puts on her scrubs, grabs her stethoscope, and heads off to take care of Baltimore's bruised and battered. Meanwhile, I don my cape (which is spit-up-proof, poop-resistant, and endlessly tear-absorbent) and take over as Primary Caregiver for a 3-month-old baby girl who is nearly always a delight.

Except, of course, on Daddy nights.

Most of these nights begin with a smiling little girl who so cordially allows Daddy to fix a plate of food for his dinner. As I sit down to eat and relax, the nightmare begins. What ensues can only be described as a mix of Saw 5, Home Alone, and Sharknado. I'm basically driven insane.

Which is why I'm really not SuperDad. I'm not nearly tough enough or selfless enough. If I was SuperDad, I wouldn't admit that there are 7 things I'd prefer over quality time with a flailing, squawking little mini-me. Alright - on to the listicle. These are my confessions.


7 Things Better Than Hanging Out

With A Screaming Baby

 

1. Taking your daughter to a Taylor Swift concert.

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One of my greatest fears these days is that by the time my daughter is old enough to appreciate Taylor, the American musical genius won't be popular anymore. I mean, sooner or later, Taylor is going to settle down. And it's kind of awkward when you're married with kids and you're singing about your ex-boyfriends and how you're never ever ever ever getting back together. Keep it together, TSwizzle, for my and Eliza's sake.

 

2. Proving your self-worth by beating a team of 12-year-olds at lasertag.

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True story: happened over Christmas with some buddies from church. When the fog of war lifted, we realized we were sniping toddlers.

 

3. Camping out for a year's worth of free Chick-fil-A.

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Been there, done that, got the coupons. But that's a story for another day.

 

4. Hoarding all the sheep and demanding all the ore.

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Settlers of Catan

I've just revealed my secret strategy to maintaining a 12-game winning streak in Settlers of Catan.

 

5. Outdoor grillin' - when summer comes.

This warmer weather has got me doodlin' new ideas for the outdoors

A photo posted by Kyle Steed (@kylesteed) on

Only because I saw Kyle Steed share his doodle the other day. And we recently bought a grill for our newly-acquired patio. He's a talented artist and a brother in Christ. 

 

6. fending off dysentery on the oregon trail.

Recently, I made it to Oregon for the very first time. Sure, I lost two members of my squad to snakebites and cholera (RIP Sara, my dear sweet wife). But most of us made it - without resorting to cannibalism! You can play this old school game right here in your browser.

 

7. Tracking a musical pony all around the world. I mean, geocaching.

I enjoy geocaching. Yes - I am a geek. But it's a great way to explore the outdoors when traveling. A few years back, I placed a neighing horse figurine in a cache while visiting Florida. It has managed to travel all the way to Germany. Here is my Neighing Nag cruising on the autobahn!

 

In summary, I love being a Dad.

It just drives you a little crazy sometimes. But how can you not fall in love with this sweet little face?

Being anxious about being anxious.

Everyone deals with it to some degree. For some it's fleeting, for others it's paralyzing. I know that it comes in all shapes and sizes, but it's a common human experience. It touches all of us. I'm talking about worry and anxiety.

Worry has been a weight that I have carried with me for a long time. It started out when I was a perfectionist child, needing things done just-so, fretting over details. In my adult life now, it shows up in new ways. I am a dad now (7 weeks in!), so it's par-for-the-course to wake up at odd hours of the night to check to make sure my daughter is still breathing. Irrational, I know! But it's an instinct (and a worry) that is sewn into the fabric of every parent, from what I've gathered.

I'll give you another example. My wife and I and our newborn baby, Eliza, just moved. Almost two weeks ago, we packed up our apartment in one neighborhood and moved to a row-home in South Baltimore. (Cue the Jeffersons theme music.) After the U-Haul was unloaded and the dust settled, Sara realized she couldn't find her wallet. But we knew it had to be somewhere buried in a box or tucked into a bag, so we didn't stress too badly.

We began to unpack, ever on the lookout for Sara's wallet (containing her driver's license, credit card, debit card, and a slew of other important bits of info). As the days passed and the boxes dwindled, the anxiety ensued. Keeping a close eye on our accounts for fraudulent charges just in case, we were still convinced the wallet was somewhere in our home. A week passed with no luck. We decided to give it another day or two of searching before resorting to the process of canceling cards, heading to the MVA, and replacing a perfectly good wallet. Without much hope and at our wits' end, I cried out in prayer to God. Lord, I know this is so trivial. It's silly that I'm even bothering you with this, but I know you meant it when you told us to cast all our burdens on you.Nothing's too small, right? Well - here is our burden for today. Sara's wallet is missing. It's going to suck to have to replace it, so will you help us find it? I believe that you care for us, even in these small trivial things! Lord, guide our hands and help us find what we are looking for.

Have you ever been there? Sounded like that? I felt so foolish asking God for help with my first-world problems when 132 innocent children were just murdered in Pakistan. Our situation is small potatoes. But here is what I have to remind myself: God is big. He covers over all sins and hears every prayer. He can simultaneously meet my needs as well as those of a mother and father grieving for their child. He loves specifically. We should not hesitate to ask our Father for anything, big or small, weighty or trivial. He gives good things to those who love Him! While I will always carry my worry and anxiety with me, I can manage it by reminding myself of God's true love and care for me, my family, friends, and even those I do not yet know. In scripture, God teaches:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
— Matthew 6:25-27

So, about that wallet. I prayed for help, trying my hardest to believe God would listen and, with compassion, grant common grace to our situation. But I knew my prayer was imperfect, tainted by my skepticism and disbelief in God's ability and desire to deliver. A small part of me doubted that God cared about this tiny, insignificant inconvenience in our life. And why would he answer a prayer that wasn't even offered in full belief and hope of an answer? Surely He'd just ignore my little plea.

 But God answered my ramshackle prayer.

We dropped by our old apartment today to collect mail not yet forwarded to our new address. In with the pile of junk mail and Christmas cards was a package.

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And in that package was my wife's wallet. Everything accounted for, nothing out of place. Some kind soul in Baltimore City found her wallet, no doubt on the street, dropped in the flurry of moving activities. And they turned it in at the post office, who then mailed it back to us, free of charge. That's not at all what we would expect from our city. But I'm learning that when God has His hand in something, my expectations go out the window. He hears us and he delivers. This is our most recent Christmas miracle.

So, let me state this plainly. God is for you. He loves you. He has given His Son's life for you. If He has already handled your spiritual and eternal needs, won't He then care for your physical needs? His love is unlike any other in this world. It transforms hearts and changes lives. Jesus will make you new if you ask Him to dwell within you. Your worry and anxiety will fall away like sand through your hands when you see the great love that your Father has for you. He is sovereign and reigns over everything in this world. I hope you hear and believe that right now. Lord, change our hearts. Give us over to your gospel and your grace. Let us believe in you and your son Jesus with full hearts and open hands, ready to follow you wherever you may lead.

40 Days of Thanksgiving

Our church has a years-old tradition of creating a 40-day devotional of thanksgiving leading up to Turkey Day. This practice aligns us as family as we pray to God for the same things and learn from the same passages of Scripture together outside of our weekly worship service and sermon. Sara and I have gained so much from this devotion and prayer guide, so I wanted to share it with you. It's such a simple and easy way to give thanks to God daily as we prepare our hearts in this season of thanksgiving. You can download the PDF here!

Each day is framed by a verse of Scripture expounded by a member of our congregation. I have been especially encouraged to read through these homegrown devotions written by my brothers and sisters of Jesus Our Redeemer. I'm not in the same discipleship group or gospel family as most of these folks, so I find it enriching to hear from the hearts and minds of my brothers and sisters. God has specifically used these daily passages to lift me up and remind me of the Gospel and correct my broken and self-seeking heart.

I shared last Sunday at church (through a handful of tears) that Danielle Marchetti's devotion written for Eliza's birthday (October 29!) was so impactful for me as I reflected on God's provision for us in our church family. She expressed her gratitude that God had given her and Andrew such a wonderful home and family of support at Jesus Our Redeemer, even when they were hesitant to join a church plant and start over with relationship-building. God exceeded their hopes and expectations in their new church, and he has done the same for me in Jesus Our Redeemer. Scripture calls us to draw together and unite under the name of Jesus to build each other up:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
— Hebrews 10:24-25


24 hours of fatherhood.

If you haven't heard it by now, I'm a Daddy.

Just a little over a day ago, Sara gave birth to our first child - a beautiful, miraculous creation who we have named Eliza Lee. She had some respiratory issues right out of the womb, so they rushed her off to the NICU right away. This left both of us feeling like none of this was real - like the whole 26-hour labor process was just a dream.

But it's settling in now - we're Mom and Dad to this beautiful little girl. Our hearts are different - God's doing something in us through this scary but joyful time. Eliza has been in out in the world, fighting it out for over a day! God has been gracious with us. He's already strengthened Eliza so much, helping her regulate her temperature on her own (!) and helping her get her oxygen on her own (no nasal cannulas! !!!). We are a grateful family. And we are hoping to get Baby Eliza out of the NICU and into our arms within the next few days.

Eliza Lee Lane, born October 29, 2013 at 3:28 AM. 7 lb, 5.8 oz of hope, joy, and peace.

Eliza Lee Lane, born October 29, 2013 at 3:28 AM. 7 lb, 5.8 oz of hope, joy, and peace.

Throughout all of this, there is a lot of opportunity to panic. And we have panicked. I've been frantic at times. The scariest time in my life was yesterday, during delivery, when Sara was delirious with pain and Eliza's heart rate dropped way below normal. A team of 8 nurses, midwives, and doctors rushed in, fear on their faces. In this period of what seemed like hours (but may have just been minutes), I felt so helpless, crying and holding Sara's hand - pleading with God on my knees for the life of my wife and daughter. I've never felt so helpless. That's the worst part about watching your wife deliver a precious gift of a baby. But in the midst of my worry and my panic, God reminded me of my helplessness in all of life - that there is nothing I can do without his sustaining strength and endless wisdom. As I prayed through tears with the most intensity I ever had yesterday, crying out for the health and lives of my girls, God was showing me the way he feels about us, His children.

1 John 3:1 says "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." Yes - I've been a father for a while now (9+months), but I've just met my daughter and started a relationship with her as her Daddy. Likewise, God has been the Father of all of humanity since the very beginning of time. He created us and made us in His image. But just as I've only recently begun this relationship with my daughter, where I hold her close and guard her and show her my love, there comes a point in our lives when we can choose to let God be our father. Rather than run ourselves to the ground trying to do it all on our own, we can submit to His will and take on His name, calling ourselves children of God. It's such an easy thing to do - just call out to Him and surrender your life through Jesus' name. That's it.

As a new father, I pray that Eliza will one day call on the name of Jesus and join in the family of Christ. That day will truly be a joyful one. In the same way, I pray that for all of you - that Jesus will be your one and only trust. I pray that you will join in God's eternal covenant and ask Christ to be Lord of your life.

Thanks, guys. We love each of you and we so appreciate your prayers for Eliza. You are such good brothers and sisters to Sara and I. Our hearts overflow with joy and gratefulness for you! Stay tuned for more updates and photos. :)

Picking the low-hanging fruit.

Like the fun-loving, middle-class people we are, 38-weeks pregnant Sara and I led a caravan of like-minded friends out to a local farm to pay to pick our own produce. Only in middle-class America.

I jest, but it was a ton of fun. My wife is a big lover of fall, and so am I. But let me assure you - autumn has always been our favorite season. Even before it was trendy. We are actually thinking of giving our daughter the most sought-after October initials: P.S.L. (Petunia Sapphire Lane). Given the chance, I will eat pumpkin pie for every meal. Not as a dessert, mind you. As my entire meal.

This little weekend trip out to the country was exactly what these city-living sojourners needed. What follows here are a few outtakes from our trip (including some new shots of sweet Sara's baby bump). Happy Harvesting!

Alex + Andrea: Wedding

When I tell people how I met my wife, fell in love with her, and married her within 14 months, it's not uncommon to get a few questions and raised eyebrows regarding our relatively quick dating, engagement, and nuptials.  I usually take a deep breath and point out that it only took the good Lord a week to Create all of us and everything we know, so it's perfectly plausible that He was working to make this happen.  Because when you know, you know.

So when it comes to quick engagements, I'm a big fan.  And I think Alex & Andrea have taken the cake here for this one.  They got engaged and were married less than two weeks later.  With the help of friends and family, they made it happen and tied the knot!  I was fortunate to be invited to capture their humble, honest ceremony at Loch Raven this August (I happen to work with the groom's sister).  Congratulations, Alex & Andrea.  May your marriage be held high as you both seek to live your life for one another!

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Ms. Swift - whatever you do, just please don't pull a Miley. Please.

If I had a guitar, there would be teardrops on it right now.  See, I heard today that Taylor Swift is giving up country music; she's a pop princess now.

Now, rather than go on about how broken-hearted I am and how I knew she was bound for greatness with her 2006 debut, "Tim McGraw", I will bite my lip, try to keep my eyes clear, and admit that we all saw this coming.  Say what you will, but Taylor's got talent.  From Teardrops to the goat song, the girl is made of gold.  And she has won me over again with her new release, "Shake It Off."  I expected to hear her new pop release and hate it.  But there's just something about her laughable self-awareness in this video that makes me love it.  This video shines with acknowledgment that she is an awkward white girl trying (and sometimes failing) to fit in.

Let me know your thoughts.  (P.S. - please forgive the somewhat gratuitous booty shaking.)



The Faults in "The Fault in Our Stars"

I recently found out that I am the only human male ever to have read John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars."  Other than John, himself.

I picked the book up after it circulated through the hands of my coworkers (80% of whom lack a Y chromosome).  As they each oohed and aahed over this seeming literary masterpiece, I felt compelled to take a stab at it.  As I tucked the book into my bag to take home, they started waging bets on which page or part of the book would cause me to break down into a bucket of tears.

Well, now I've read it.  And let me be perfectly clear: no tears.  The book left me, well, wanting.  So, rather than add to the glowing reviews of this #1 New York Times Best Selling book and point out its strong-suits, I thought I'd just take a moment to highlight what I believe to be the Faults in "The Fault in Our Stars."

Augustus "Gus" Waters.  Thirty pages in, I nearly dropped the book and stopped reading just to get this guy out of my life.  Yes - he changes a bit as the novel progresses, but he's downright deplorable from the get-go.  He lacks any measure of humility and offers himself as God's Gift to Young Girls With Cancer as he sits right there in the Literal Heart of Jesus.  Cool your jets, Gus.

Plotless.  Nothing happens.  Nothing at all.  This book should be called, "Cancer-stricken teens try to fall in love while [SPOILER ALERT] dying."  That's really all there is to it - the end.

Predictable. Was anyone surprised anywhere, at any point, during any scene, on any page while reading this book?  Didn't think so.  I think this was the biggest disappointment to me.  I love it when a book's plot twists and leaves me astonished, wondering how the author slipped it all by me.  That's entertainment - a story that transcends your expectations and stretches your reasoning skills as you seek to get a step ahead of the author and figure out what they've actually got planned.  The trouble with TFIOS is that there are no twists at all - the book is 100% predictable.  I just expected more from it.

Holland was a bust.  I had high hopes when Gus gave Hazel his wish and planned to take her to meet her role model and life-guru Peter van Houten.  There was a lot of potential with this plot line!  Two star-crossed lovers defy all odds in a trip around the world with new adventures and thrilling experiences!  Take that, cancer!  Instead, the whole trip was a total bust; van Houten was a cranky old drunk and the whole trip just reeked of sadness and missed opportunities.  This is probably about where Green lost me.

Making out in a Holocaust Museum. Classy move, right?  I found this scene to be very unbelievable and even disrespectful.  Two teenagers start making out in the midst of a memorial to Anne Frank and everyone cheers.  Yes - that's exactly how it works in real life.

Peter van Houten.  This guy is a creep.  In any other situation, a grown man popping up in the backseat of a teenage girl's van would end up on Dateline's "To Catch a Predator."  I know you feel me.

An open letter to my wife and unborn daughter

Sara (and my little baby girl Lane),

As a husband and dad, there is so much that I hope for and pray for when I think of you.  You will always be my first priority on this earth.  You are God's most precious earthly gifts to me!  I know that God will continue to teach me how to cherish you and love you and lead you.  Please pray with me that I will listen to Him.  I am a selfish and broken man sometimes, so I ask God for the grace and the power to listen and learn from Him as I seek to lead you both and remind you of His good plans for us.  I love you both so much - so much that I sometimes (mistakenly) think I love you more than God can.  I'm wrong about that.  His love for you far exceeds mine.  He has, however, put me here on earth to mirror His love for you and point you to Him.  May God grant me strength every day to do this for both of you!

But when my own strength fails and I neglect to draw the strength God so willingly lays out to me, don't give up hope.  Remember God's word and the truths that he speaks about you within it.  You are two very beautiful, very precious, wise, clever, and intelligent women.  You have immeasurable worth and are royalty - daughters of the King.  It is truly my honor to love you and lay my life down for you every day as your husband and daddy.

Yours always,

Christopher

I'd also like to supplement my frail words with those in the video below.  These words are ones that every woman needs to hear and believe.  In a world that regularly fails to tell women the truth about themselves, this video does an excellent job of clearing the air.

The O'Brien Family - Christmas

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I had the pleasure of doing a family portrait session for our pastor and his wife this winter.  I've known Brad and JM for a number of years (I once lived with them for half a summer), so it's a joy to be with them and their little girls!  Sara always says that she hopes we're blessed with girls as cute as CG and Elsa Lou some day.  These images were taken in middle-of-nowhere, PA while we were on a church family retreat.  Enjoy this sneak peak at this beautiful, Jesus-loving family from Baltimore!

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Stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

I took the backroads to work today. And I'm very glad I did.

We got a nice snowfall yesterday, so my office was operating on an hour delay this morning.  I dropped Sara off at work (the hospital) and made my way to work according to my regular schedule.  I was really hoping to get a leg up on some work projects with this 'extra hour,' but God had other plans.

On my commute in, I could see a bad wreck and traffic on the highway ahead.  I made a quick decision to take the back roads.  As I drove along through Baltimore County, I noted how quiet things were.  Very few people were out and about.  Since schools were out, most families were probably tucked away in their homes, taking advantage of the unexpected gift of a day together.

This tranquility took a hold on me.  I found a quiet spot and pulled over to park the car.  I got out and walked.  Well, trudged.  The snow was icy, but I had on my boots.  I kept walking until I reached an outcropping of trees.  I kept going, moving through them.  When I cleared the trees, I found myself at the edge of a meadow.

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As I surveyed the scene, my breath slowed and I began to thank God.  He covered the hills and trees and world around me with snow.  I can learn a lot from that.  A heavy blanket of snow gives all of us reason to pause.  In fact, it forces us to.  It forces us to let go of our appointments and busy schedules and reevaluate.  It might be as simple as crafting a backup plan for our kids' daycare, but a heavy snowfall makes us stop.  I believe God has a plan for this pause and we can learn from him in it.

You see, God is sovereign over every part of our lives.  He created us and everything around us  (well, except gerbils).  Subsequently, he controls the seasons and the weather.  We learn this in the account of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible.  Here, Job's buddy, Elihu, reminds him of the truth of God's nature (when everyone around Job was telling him lies).

By the breath of God ice is given,

and the broad waters are frozen fast.

He loads the thick cloud with moisture;

the clouds scatter his lightning.

They turn around and around by his guidance,

to accomplish all that he commands them

on the face of the habitable world.

Whether for correction or for his land

or for love, he causes it to happen.

“Hear this, O Job;

stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

(Job 37:10-14, ESV)

This Scripture reminds me to stop and consider the wondrous works of God.  This is a daily routine for a Christian - to stop and consider the wondrous works of God.  God is already working around us.  He has plans and wonderful things in place and he chooses to use us for his good purposes (even though he doesn't need us).  Sometimes, I get too caught up in planning and executing to stop and consider the wondrous works of God.  I fail to see the forest through the trees.  But thankfully, God made me stop and consider his wondrous works today.  He turned my eyes to the forest and taught me in the loving, personal way he does with his children.  So thank you, Father.

On Church Planting

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20

Ever set foot in a Christian church? If so, I bet you've heard this one.  Many call it the Great Commission - or Christ's command to go and teach others about Him.  It's a verse that God brought to me as a young Christian, and one that I continue to come back to.  Packed in these four verses is a summary of the Gospel - that Christ died in our place when we were wayward, broken souls, becoming the propitiation for our sins and offering us free grace and salvation.

This is why we Christians do what we do.  Christ is our lifeblood.  He gave himself up for us and when we realize that, our only course is to give ourselves up to His name and for God's glory.  He died for us so that we can live for him.  And this great news is why the Lanes are in Baltimore.

To recap, Sara and I moved here last year.  I landed in November of 2012, Sara came in February of 2013.  We decided (independently, pre-marriage) to leave the lives we'd always known in NC to help form Redeemer City Church, a new gospel-centered church in the city of Baltimore.  Our church family is small, but focused.  It's not easy, but we choose to live in a costly and sometimes dangerous place because we believe in the truth of the Bible.  We long to see our neighbors in Baltimore know Jesus and enter into the life-changing covenant that Sara and I know through Christ.

Please join our mission by praying for us.  Sara and I are in a big time of transition - from singleness to marriage, living along to living together, from college to professional life, from the South to the North, from rural to urban, from familiar to new.  We recognize that this is a hard time, but it is a good time.  We are excited that God has placed such a task in our hands, that He has entrusted us with building His kingdom in one of America's greatest cities.  Thank you for supporting us and praying for us on this journey!

Taylor & Melissa - Crenshaw Hall Wedding (collab with Blest Photography!)

The best wedding photographers in the world?  Blest Photography. Seriously.  They shot our wedding back in July and we were so pleased.  Cole & Ashley are servants of Jesus and they love their clients so well before, during, and after your wedding day!  They also do some family portraits, styled shoots, and are making their way into the mission field with their photography, as well.

Cole recently asked me to assist with a wedding that he was a groomsman in.  It was quite an experience, but I had a ball getting to know Taylor & Melissa while documenting their day with (half-the-time) Cole and Ashley!  Check out their post for shots from the day (click through on the photo below)!

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Introducing the Lanes!

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Married.  Praise God for that.

I've wanted Sara ever since the day I laid eyes on her.  Seriously.

She makes my heart sing and my head laugh.  I will always look back on July 20th as the happiest day of my Christian life.  Such joy and fulfillment God gives me through her!  I look forward to sharing more and more about how God grows me and sanctifies me through my marriage with Sara. 

Palmer & Brett - Married!

P&B - you two are lights in a dark world. You bring laughter and joy to most any situation and we're all grateful for that. You are good, very dear friends and I'm glad I got to celebrate your big day with you! Palmer & Brett stand among my Commonwealth friends - that hidden group of folks I hang out with in the summers and the occasional (alright, annual) Oyster Festival in Urbanna.  I enjoy sneaking away for a brief respite in Thomas Jefferson's home state from time to time. And nearly every time I do, one of these two host me.  Whether it's Brett's grace and instruction on the green or Palmer's benevolent spirit of hospitality at the rivah cottage, everything about these two makes you feel right at home.  Here's to many more New Year toasts on the banks of the Rappahannock, Palmer & Brett!

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Mark - Graduate Photos!

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Mark is one of the brightest, most clever minds I met at Carolina.  He was one of my residents during my sophomore year - that is, I was his RA.  He gave me a hard time initially, but with time, a tender friendship blossomed.  This fellow loves a good laugh and he knows how to elicit them from the company around him.  Mark - you've taught me a lot. I'm grateful for your friendship and I hope we bump into each other in the D.C. metro area. Baltimore isn't too far - come visit my new church!