Monday, July 29, 2013

H O M E is wherever I'm with you : part one

Beginning a story is a rather interesting and somewhat difficult feat, especially when it is one very particularly dear to your heart. When one tries to begin, it isn't uncommon to find that what you thought was the start was really somewhere closer to the middle because there is another story that precedes it. And the beginning of that story is not the true origin of the whole tale either. You can go back and back and back so far until you realize the fascinating ribbon of God's sovereignty winding its way throughout our lives, tying everything together for a perfect purpose since the day we were born. Having said that, I'm not necessarily here to backtrack to May 23, 1995 or May 27, 1986 entirely...although that would be quite an interesting conversation starter. ;)
My goal, instead, is to relay to all of you how it came to be that a boy who grew up in Lawrenceville, Georgia with his parents and little brother ended up with a girl who grew up in Bogata, Texas with her parents and big sister. 
Its such a topsy-turvy, will-o'-the-wisp, believe-it-or-not, against-all-odds, how-in-the-world, only-by-the-grace-of-God story and I lovelovelove it....I've literally been bursting at the seams ready to share it. :)
You see, my dilemma is I could go "The First Meeting" route but I don't feel like that would leave you with a sufficient explanation. Before that Georgia boy and Texas girl even knew that each other existed, both of them fell in love with someone else.
Little did they know it was a mutual love. A love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
He had seen fit to redeem them both individually in very different ways, in totally different places, at different times. He pulled them out of the same Pit of Darkness but their sides of that abyss were not the same...similar in some ways but differing in many other ways. 
Through many dangers, toils, and snares He brought them...lovingly carrying them along like a father cradling his children, like a mother bird guarding her young, like a shepherd bearing a lamb.
So it was that the Georgia boy, no longer shackled in his sin and misery, having moved away from his hometown several months after his conversion to work on a farm in the middle of Missouri, ended up, {after hearing messages online by a powerful man of God} was lead to join a blessed body of believers, in a small town called Kirksville who's pastor had long been a friend and mentor of the man he'd heard on YouTube. 
And in turn, so it was that the Texas girl, who's whole family God lead down what seemed at the time to be such windy paths {little did they know it was one solid path, narrow, paved onward to Glory, and perfectly straight according to God's righteous plan} and she ended up in a darling little church with faithful saints in Mt. Pleasant.
Two entirely different, completely separate places and yet, the pastors of these two churches happened to be long-time friends. But even though God brought GeorgiaBoy and TexasGirl  to these fateful families relatively close to the same time it would take years for them to find out about each other. 
There is another beginning that is an essential piece to this puzzle guiding us where to put the first stepping stone of this "part one." Several years before he and she were acquaintances, much less the best friends they became, TexasGirl became best friends with a girl named Rachel Leigh who's father was the pastor of this church in Mt. Pleasant. It wasn't long before their hearts were knit fast together and they were nearly inseparable; two peas in a pod. The years that passed were pleasant and happy between them and time brought them even closer. They even shared an interest in photography and both pursued it as a career. They just fit, these two. 
Well, Rachel Leigh, being the daughter of the pastor who was friends with the pastor from Kirksville, a college town brimming with young people, {not to mention the church was filled with families with teenage kids}, had many friends around her age in that area. For years Rachel would tell about all of the dear people that she knew from up there. They were precious to her and in time, through much picture and memory sharing, even having not met them, TexasGirl grew to have a deep fondness for these Missourians too. She would look at online albums from Rachel's trips up north to see all her long-distance buddies for hours and hours memorizing everything she knew about each person that she longed to meet for real. And so, we arrive to the early months of 2012 on our timeline.
As you can clearly tell, this story is my story...ours really. Mine and that Georgia boy's. :)

"It's funny because I can't even remember the very first time I heard your name. 

How do you not remember something that would make such a big difference in your life?"

How true. :) I'm not sure at all when I heard about Trevor Clark Ruby for the first time. But somehow I came to know that a random guy {that no one we knew had previously known or heard of before he came to Lakeroad} was a part of the Kirksville crowd. He had been there since sometime in 2009 but for whatever reason I certainly don't remember ever seeing the pictures my friends had posted of him or hearing about him. {Which is crazy! Because I was a faithful Picasa Web Album stalker! And there are quite a lot of pictures of him on Rachel's from several different trips to Missouri that I somehow didn't least not enough to ask who "the new guy" was. I literally must have not noticed him in the pictures at all, that's my only guess.}
I do remember, sometime at the beginning of 2012, Rachel was telling me about another random Kirksville guy I'd never heard of named Asa who was planning on coming to Texas to have her dad {who is also a dentist} do some work for him. We, who both work at her dad's office, were sitting at the front desk. She explained this Asa fellow was an American but with a background of mixed ethnicity...but she couldn't quite remember what kind...Portuguese and Italian? Was there some Asian in there? Spanish? 
She was trying to find a picture of him for me to try and assess my own opinion of his origin, however, finding a picture of him wasn't easy since he has no Facebook and he doesn't post pictures of himself on Google+. While looking, to no avail, she remembered, "He's in Trevor Ruby's cover photo on Facebook."
Because I was multi-tasking {like we always do}, conversing and working at the same time, half of me took that sentence at face value and the other half of me realized that name wasn't familiar to me either. 
"Trevor Ruby. Cool name. Wow. Very cool name." I thought. "But, good grief, who in the world is that?! I've never heard of him...or at least I don't think I have."
Once I informed Rachel of my curiosity about this dude with the suspiciously Hollywood-esque name she began to tell me the fragments of what she knew about him.
"He's just some guy that moved to Kirksville in 2009, after living/working on some kind of farm in some other part of Missouri. And I think Amanda told me he was in jail for some period of time before the Lord saved him. I don't really know much else. I've met him a few times. He's really nice. He's kinda shorter than all the other guys. They call him Tiger sometimes I think...or T-Rube...or something like that." 
As she went to look for the cover photo with Asa in it she let me in on the secret that Trevor was considered to be extremely attractive by lots of her girl friends up there. 
Having found the picture, she turned her phone around for me to see. 
First impression?
No sparks.
No fireworks.
No attraction at all actually.
My honest initial thoughts were,
"He's not attractive at all." 
Rachel couldn't believe my reaction. "Whaaaat?! Really?! That's pretty funny that you think that. Cause its been said by several girls that he's so attractive, if he was tall it'd be unfair cause he might be too good to be true." 
I felt like my eyes were apparently damaged...or I had suddenly lost the ability to spot a cute guy. For whatever reason, this guy was dangerously on the brink of downright ugly to me.  
"Ok, that's not his best picture. He looks a bit different in person. Here. Look at this profile picture." Rachel turned the phone around again. 
It was a candid shot. He had killer aviators on. Dark hair. And muscles. But he was pretty short.
"I don't know." I finally concluded. "He's just certainly nothing special in my opinion. But that's just me."
I quickly recovered from this discovery of a new Kirksvillian and more or less forgot about him just as quickly as I had learned of him.
Spring drew closer. I was getting excited about possibly attending the Fellowship Conference in Denton, Texas for the first time. {It was an annual bible conference that Rachel's family had been attending as many years as it had been going on so naturally I had heard so much good about it!} We weren't positive we would go, because my parents were leaving the next week to go on a 5 day trip for their 20th wedding anniversary, and there was also another conference in Houston at the end of that week that we were planning on going to. I had already gotten over being bummed that we probably wouldn't go to Denton cause it would be too much traveling. Then my parents decided we could go for one afternoon and evening to hear at least one message and get to meet and fellowship with some saints. I remember I was stoked about meeting Abby Hargrave in particular because we had kinda gotten to know about each other through Rachel and she said we would hit it off great. :)
In fact, Rachel had a bit of a lengthy list of people she was dying to fiiinally introduce me to. So even if I was only going to be there a few hours, I was extremely excited.
Admittedly, a large majority of people on that list...were guys. And yes, I already had my hopes up that one, most, or all of them were going to be breathtakingly wonderful...and surely one of them would be a potential future husband, right?! Hashtag: Just keeping my priorities straight. Naturally Rachel also had her hopes up that at least one of them would fall madly in love with me. Hashtag: That's what besties are for. 
{However, be it known that Trevor somehow didn't make it on her "List of people that Allix has never met so I should introduce them to her" ironically.}
So,  after having shopped around in Dallas all day, me wearing a new pink spring dress I had just bought and having a belly full of Chipotle {because thats always the best way to approach a moment of destiny}, my family arrived at the conference late in the afternoon on April 6th and I went in with a handful of names and faces in my head that I was itching to match personalities to. As expected, meeting Abby was stupendous. We had tons in common we realized, and of course she's so precious...suuuuch a gem, I cherished her in my heart right away. 
After the message that night, we heard they were going to have a bonfire. My parents said we could stay for it, so, as the sun set, Rachel and I and several other sweet girls I had just met headed down to the shore of the lake to check it out. By the time we arrived it was dark, the fire was lit, and don't look now but lots of guys were standing around it. 
I had only met the girls on "the list" so far so I was eager to continue checking off.
Before I could lead the way over to the crowd forming around the flames, I realized Rachel, who was behind me, was saying something to me. 
I turned around and saw someone with the same shadowy form of everyone else since it was so dark. 
"This is my friend Trevor Ruby." she said.
He and I exchanged "hi"s and possibly shook hands?? as I tried to wrack my brain to remember this guy. Many names came to mind.....all guys I had seen for years on Rachel's Facebook or Picasa Web Albums. I had heard stories and seen so many pictures I was totally prepared to meet them all {even with some preconceived notions based on Rachel's stories and such.} But this guy. Trevor Ruby. Was that supposed to seem familiar? Was I supposed to know this guy or at least be waiting to meet him?! Not one bell rang in that frazzled buzzing head of mine. He was a complete stranger to me. And standing quite a ways away from the fire, it was impossible to see his face. 
As we stood there he and the girls chit-chatted while I grew antsy to get over to those other people I actually cared about!! He dropped something and seemed to get all nervous, awkwardly laughing, gulped, and shakingly said something about it falling by Rachel's feet as he turned on the flashlight on his iPhone trying to find it.
I, being far less than interested but seeking to enjoy myself and impress others with my quick wittedness and smashing sarcasm, nonchalantly made a joke {that I don't exactly remember other than I thought it was brilliantly hilariously clever at the time} about him looking for whatever it was he dropped. It was directed at him as I tried to be nice and act like I wanted to get to know this...this...whoever-he-was who was not on aforementioned list.
He, obviously having not heard me or perhaps not even paying attention to {therefore ignoring} me, did not respond....nor did he laugh...nor acknowledge my comedic attempts whatsoever.
I officially stamped him in my mind as nothing short of a cotton headed ninny muggins and set off to finally blaze the trail to the fire with or without the others. As a fleeting thought, I vaguely remembered the pictures and the conversation Rachel and I had had months prior. 
"Ha." I thought. "So, that was the hunk, huh. How could I forget." I rolled my eyes at the thought. 
A rather funny common theme occurred as Rachel introduced me to the bonfire crowd. Nearly every guy made mention of me being "That girl from all Rachel's profile pictures." I was practically a mysterious celebrity amongst them...having no Facebook of my own. ;)
The rest of the night was spent soaking up every precious minute with my new found brothers and sisters in all went by so fast like sand slipping through an hourglass. 
Before I knew it, we were leaving. Glorious thoughts of being new pals with Abby, Jase's crazy delicious roasted marshmallows he served me and Rach, Tony and Angela's adorable sibling interaction, and Michael's hilarious and awesome intellectually unique braininess danced through my head as just some of my favorite memories of the night.

But someone who did not even make the smallest debut in this ballet of memories....yep, you guessed right.
That Georgia-gone-Missouri boy. 
Trevor Ruby.

{to be continued...}

~Through Christ's Love 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Nelms Family || paris, tx family portrait and lifestyle photographer

Joey, Jennifer, Jaylen, and little sister Riley are tight-knit, giggly, laid-back, just the right balance of silly and sweet, and these are the images I made one evening of their darling
F A M I L Y.

Thank y'all again for spending an evening behind my camera. It was a pleasure. :)

~Through Christ's Love