Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Mercer Family: living || elmer, louisiana family portrait and lifestyle photographer

Jeffrey, Challie, Anabelle, + Abram.
The Mercers.

A few weeks ago; Trevor, my parents, and I traveled east to visit some of the dearest people God ever created. :) They live in the heart of the piney Louisiana woods on 8 sunkissed,wide open acres complete with their very own pond. (Anabelle very much approves of the pond. She fishes, y'know.)
You might have a little head-start on their story if you've read this post of mine where I told about meeting them for the first time. 
Their story is remarkable. Tinged with all the brightest hues of God's unfailing love and protection and provision. Getting to spend a whole weekend with them was a blast. All the experiences were brand new and adventurous and memorable and yet I felt completely comfortable and right at home as if it had been my daily routine for years. 

This first adventure I'll title, "In Which Anabelle takes me to give Goldie her Morning Water but not Food because she'll get fed Later." It was a delightful way to spend the early hours of my day. :)

This is aforementioned Goldie. She is a Golden Retriever. She was Anabelle's Christmas present so she's rightfully her dog (prounounced "doe-guh." We were in Louisiana, remember.)
This is Anabelle herself looking teasingly putout with Goldie for a number of reasons that she was too busy to name.

Between playfully scolding the active "still-a-puppy" who was impatiently waiting for water, Anabelle gave me the lowdown about the whole place. I had only just gotten there the night before and the sun was nearly down then. I hadn't even begun to get a chance to familiarize myself with the place. She happily obliged to fill me in. 
The layout of the land is pretty straight forward. Her playhouse is the Taj Mahal of the whole landscape, clearly. But there are many other hidden treasures if you look close enough and have an experienced guide (which I had, thankfully) at your side. 
"Goldie! Goldie! I filled your bowl up already. Miss Aaallix turned on the hose for me."
"Look Goooldie! I can climb 'own' here too!"
"Over there are the neighbor's horses. They don't belong to us but when I call 'em sometimes they come pretty close to 'ar' fence. Hey, Miss Aaaallix, do yew wanna take PICtures of those horses? Cuz ya can. If ya wont too." 
Be still my melting heart. Her accent is like honey and butter cascading over a biscuit.
Just that sweet.
And just that Southern. 
"Don't eat them berries, Miss Aaaallix. I think they might be *shudder* poy-za-nuss.
 And anything poisonous is bound to taste yucky."
"Is all that your land, Anabelle?", I ask pointing straight out.
"Negative." She quips back.
Negative is her favorite tagline. 
"This line where the grass stops being mowed is where our land stops. But sometimes I kick my ball over the line so I can jump over and see what its like. Sometimes."
"Oh no! Bugs in my playhouse! Get the bug-spray  Miss Aaaallix! These spiders think this playhouse is their home! I'll just have ta kill 'em so they know its not!"
{Homemade bug-spray: peppermint oil and water. But the way she feels? Automatic hero. With a fresh smelling playhouse, I might add.}
"I'd get my pink bb gun after 'em [take that, buuugs!]  if I could. But bug-spray gets 'em pretty good. Did-ja know [got him!]  I shot a bird once with my bb gun? Its a real good gun." 
Midday, clouds came out and threatened a downpour. We drove down many tucked away dusty roads into town to have a magnificently scrumptious BBQ lunch lovingly prepared by Jeffrey's precious mother. After our bellies were full, Anabelle had another adventure prepared for me...a whole new world {pause. don't sing. don't sing. *deep breath* ok.} to explore and tell me about. Her grandmother's gardens were lush and ready to inspect with all sorts of bugs, and flowers, and vegetables, and berries to tempt us.
{a magic place I never kneeeew. CAUSE WHEN WE'RE WAY U-....sorry....}
She reminded me of a fawn or maybe a fairy as she skipped and flitted from spot to spot, each one with a story all its own. There was so much to show me, her eyes couldn't take it all in fast enough, though her mouth certainly tried to keep up. ;) 
"Come 'own' Miss Aaaallix!"
She's always thinking. Always observing. Always analyzing. Always adventuring. And always discovering. 
Please take note: We had a different pair of matching stickers everyday. She would pick them out in the morning and adorn our hands with care before we set off to face the world.
That afternoon is rained and rained. The clouds no longer teased...they delivered their first fruits...and second and third fruits too. So, having gone back to Jeffrey and Challie's, we had to stay put for awhile, unable to continue or begin any adventures at the moment.
Meanwhile I observed Abram.
Having only been able to do so on one other occasion for a much shorter amount of time, I really honed in on getting a close-up view of his world. His autism disables him from truly interacting very much at all. He can't really make eye contact with you when you call his name. Though sometimes he will run towards you because he does realize you're calling him. He doesn't talk like other children his age. Almost complete loss of speech has been a recent symptom as of the past year or so. But even with little to no words or eye contact, you can see in his eyes he is a soul with emotions and feelings and wants and thoughts and preferences. 
One thing that really stuck with me was how he craves and thrives on repetition. It is a comfort to him for things to be exactly the same, over and over and over again. You can see it in his whole demeanor that he feels safe. Whether its watching the DVD menu rather than the actual show because it is a short clip that endlessly loops, or going to the same chair to have the same breakfast at church. He desires things to repeat and stay the same. Which reminded me why God is the perfect Comforter. 
He. Never. Changes.
As much as He loves us now, He will always love us that much...eternally. It will never end. Every single attribute about Him now has been true of Him since before time began and will stand firm throughout all ages. Not as long as the Sun and Moon shall endure. Not until the stars fall from the sky.
Abram's biggest assurance of safety reminded me of my biggest assurance of safety.
Of course, in Abram's world, some repetition is monotonous and a constant struggle. There are so many foods that he can't tolerate, so many things that can make him sick. You can tell everything about him gets frustrating because he can't quite convey to anyone what it is that is going on deep inside his mind.  But there is something there. Always something. Even if he can't ramble on about things he likes, things he's learned, things that scare him, things that excite him like Anabelle can. All those things exist. He can't tell us, but those things are there. Its beautiful and haunting all at the same time.
Anabelle told me about when Abram used to say her name. She told me with such passion and true sorrow...well beyond her years. It grieved me deeply. To see this little person who, at times, could be so joyful and playful not be able to speak freely broke my heart.
There were several achingly beautiful moments over the weekend where we did hear his voice, by the grace of God. The most memorable being when we drove by Chick-fil-a (which is arguably Abram's favorite place) he started sniffling, and then whimpering, and then crying because we passed it and didn't stop. Challie, looking in the rearview mirror at his huge crocodile tears falling down, tried to console him, "Oh Abram! I'm sorry, baby! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
He took a breath and looked out the window for a second and then burst out, clear as day, exclaiming, "Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry!" 
Needless to say, Challie (and my mom and I who were in the car as well) were the next ones to be shedding a few tears. :')
This is the thing....from the environment that surrounds him, the love and mercy and grace and patience is so real and tangible it literally takes my breath away and brings tears to my eyes.
He and Anabelle are loved, truly loved, so unconditionally. Their parents want them. They fight for them. They pray for them. They sacrifice for them. They live for God for them. They would do anything to establish to those children that their hearts have been enabled by the Father to cherish them to the best of their ability.
They love even when it all seems impossible. Granted, its hard. Its a battle. But its a journey that they have entrusted Christ to lead them on. And they won't give up...because He will never give up on them.
Jeffrey. Challie. Anabelle. Abram.
The Mercers.
I cannot tell you how much I adore them. I will never be able to express, even if I write a million blogposts about them, what teachers they are to my soul to "run the race with endurance looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith."
Please, enjoy their beautiful family. Just living the life that God predestined and Christ purchased with His own blood for them.


  1. oh what a sweet family. the children are so precious. I love love love reading your posts. you give us a glimpse into other's lives helping us to truly feel the moments behind the photos.

    Also, the gif. love.



  2. This is melting my heart, miss Aaaalix. ;) Seriously, what a beautiful family! She is just so breathtakingly gorgeous!!


  3. so so so very sweet. love the way you captured their love and joy so sweetly and simply. beautiful. :)

  4. Really nice sweetie you did a great job. Nana

  5. This is really beautiful...not just the photos but the words and people as well. I enjoyed it, but it made me think too; about MY voice...and what/when I use it.
    Thanks! =)

    Xx -Jenny

  6. All of these photographs are so gorgeous! And by the GIF, my heart had melted. :)

  7. ahhh wordyness! these are just beautiful and beautiful and gorgeous and lovely and beautiful. such an adorable family as well!

  8. Amazing photos ;) You are very good photograph ;)

    I follow you beautiful blog. I hope you will follow me back and I will wait for you in my blog

  9. I have not seen the Mercers in quite some time, but I can tell you that they love their children. You have captured that so beautifully here.


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