USA

Bluebonnets in Texas

One of my favorite things about Texas is the state flower: the bluebonnet. 

Somewhere in Texas :) | 2013

Somewhere in Texas :) | 2013

In the springtime, wild bluebonnets will begin to pop up everywhere on the sides of roads, especially along highways. You will see people parking on the sides of roads, wrangling their kids to capture family photos with the bluebonnets. They're beautiful and just pop when you photograph them! 

I captured this one above on a road trip in 2013 before we moved overseas. I just couldn't resist myself and had to get my husband to pull over the car. :) Sometimes you gotta do, what you gotta do! 

For you more techy people out there who are curious, I shot this on my Canon 5D Mark II, likely with my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8. This was the lens I used almost exclusively for a while before I switched to Primes. It's a great lens and would totally buy one again! 

Hope you're weekend is awesome!

-Ashley

No Words

When I woke up the other day, I was browsing through notifications on my phone and saw several posts circulating about Dallas and the tragedy that had happened there. I began to scour the internet for articles and the more I read, the more disheartened I became. Being outside the US, I had no clue about what was going on. I am just appalled and have no words! My heart and prayers go out to those families who lost their loved ones during these horrific events. 

Canon 5D Mark II; 24 mm f/2.8  |  f/3.5, 1/25000 sec; ISO-400

Canon 5D Mark II; 24 mm f/2.8  |  f/3.5, 1/25000 sec; ISO-400

On a much lighter note, we recently traveled through Dubai on our way back overseas due to a long layover and had this amazing view from our hotel room. Dubai is an interesting place as 80% of the city is expat (foreigners). You can see about any nationality wherever you go! 

Thanks for stopping by and I hope that you find peace amidst the chaos of the world this weekend!

-Ashley

Happy 80th Birthday, Papa!

I think this is one of the best surprise birthday party's I've ever gone to. Joshua's grandfather (whom we both call "Papa"), was turning 80 years old and his grandmother wanted to throw a big surprise birthday for him. We weren't supposed to be here for this party, yet God worked it out--what a blessing!

His grandmother somehow kept this a secret from him for probably six months--maybe longer! She called family from out of state and arranged for them all to come down and be at the party. A couple of times the surprise was almost spoiled, but the party managed to be pulled off.

We all got to the party before 4PM to make sure we were there before Papa and Gram got there. There was a lot of preparation beforehand, although in the photo above, it looks like everyone was just standing around (there was a golf game on and everyone was mesmerized).

Joshua's uncle (picture above) arrived at 9:30AM to smoke all the meat and prep for the big shindig. There was ribs, chicken legs, and sausage--yum!

While waiting for Joshua's grandparents to arrive, we snagged a quick picture of ourselves. :) I rarely am in a photo. Truth be told, I don't like having my picture taken. Ironic, isn't it?

When Joshua's grandparents arrived, Papa believed it was a party with his cruise friends. As he walked into the gate, he began to see faces of not only his cruise buddies, but friends from old. At this point, however, he had no idea that his family from out of state was there. 

Slowly, one-by-one, each family member came out of the house and it was overwhelming for everyone on the porch. Tears freely flowed, hugs abounded, and laughter was in the air. It was such a treasured moment.

2016.06.28-papas80thbirthday-06.jpg

I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. 

Papa kept saying, "This is unreal! I can't believe this is happening!" as he wiped away his tears and laughed with joy. 

Happy 80th Birthday, Papa! We love you dearly and are so happy to have you in our lives. 

-Ashley

Urban Scene

One thing I love to do in a new city is to explore. I enjoy walking with my camera up and down each street, looking for something to photograph. When we went to visit our friend in Portland, we walked the streets for a couple hours and found our way to Stumptown Coffee Roasters. If you're into coffee and you're in Portland, go there! You won't be disappointed (or so I'm told--I'm not a coffee drinker).

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/320 sec, ISO-500  |  Portland OR, USA

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/320 sec, ISO-500  |  Portland OR, USA

On another note--18 days until we leave! Yikes. :) We have so much to do. We have an extensive to do list, but the problem is that it keeps growing. I just added three tasks this morning. We'll get it all done...hopefully. :)

Have a great Thursday!

-Ashley

A Broken World

In the wake of what's happened in Florida, my heart is very heavy. This world is so broken and unfortunately, I don't think it's on the upswing. I'm not trying to be a pessimist, but we're all broken people--this is a reality. We've all been hurt, come from broken homes, have dysfunctional families, have broken friendships, and the list goes on. There is no perfect person in this world. 

Just look at TV. I know this isn't the only problem and certainly isn't the only reason for violence today, but I think it has something to do with it. Some shows are fine, but some images, messages, and world-views have become so mainstream that we are desensitized as a culture. Everything is becoming permissible to watch.

The other day while working at home, I glanced at the TV and watched in horror as a woman with a large butcher's knife killed two people. They didn't leave anything to imagination. I was sick. Why do we want to watch these things?! How is this enjoyable? What good does it do for us? Why put these things into our minds?

Our minds can create enough horror on their own without the help of others. Just FYI, this show was on normal, cable television. We weren't watching a slasher film. 

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/2000 sec, ISO-500  |  Seattle, WA, USA

Canon 5D Mark II; 50mm f/1.4  |  f/5, 1/2000 sec, ISO-500  |  Seattle, WA, USA

I think what Paul says in Philippians 4:8 is relevant: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (ESV) 

This is a high standard, but what a wonderful thing to work towards! Obviously, this doesn't bring the healing we need as a world. Only God can do that! But if we can stop putting evil things in, then what a change I believe would happen.

The world is broken, but God really likes to redeem people and activities. Why don't you be the start of that?

-Ashley

Expecting the Unexpected

Do you ever have those moments where you're expecting one thing and something else happens? I feel like this is the case for me a lot--both personally and photographically speaking. 

I am a driven person, normally (I do have my days of laziness!). I have dreams, goals, and aspirations--and ambitions to meet all of them! Obviously, to meet all of those aspirations is impossible, but I think Proverbs 16:9 (ESV) is true: "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." Plans are good. And it's good to hold these plans, goals, dreams, etc. loosely for God to move them in a different direction, if need be.

This idea is something I'm currently working on. I'm trying to hold my plans loosely and expect confidently that things will work out, but maybe not in the way I'm expecting. I think there is something to be said about someone who has vision for their life and is willing to let God change things up a bit. I'd really like to be like that...and God is giving me many opportunities to try it out! :) 

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/80 sec, ISO-500  |  Portland, OR, USA

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/2.2, 1/80 sec, ISO-500  |  Portland, OR, USA

Photographically speaking, sometimes I will take pictures expecting one thing, and I get another. Sometimes they're good and other times...they're pretty bad (and you'll never see those!). ;) The picture above is an example of an unexpected outcome. I tried to focus on the building in the water, not the water itself. Even though I didn't envision this image, I ended up really liking it!

Life is the same way. My focus is on one thing and I end up getting something a little different. When I think back over my life, I clearly see how when I received the unexpected, I was always more satisfied in the end. In these moments, sometimes disappointment arises (you can read my thoughts about disappointment here), but to know that God has great plans for me, I can rest assured that my life has purpose and God's not wasting any of my time on this earth. It's really not mine anyways!

So, here's to expecting the unexpected. Whatever happens will be good!

-Ashley

Setting Sun

Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm f/2.8  |  f/10, 1/80 sec, ISO-500  |  Near Austin, Texas, USA

Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm f/2.8  |  f/10, 1/80 sec, ISO-500  |  Near Austin, Texas, USA

When we were driving through Texas visiting our family and friends, we stopped in Austin, Texas and saw Joshua's Uncle and Aunt. They took us to this fun Mexican restaurant that was overlooking what you see above(!!). We got to watch the sun set as we caught up on life and ate a delicious dinner. It was pretty amazing. I felt so thankful in that moment to be with them and to see God's handiwork. 

Currently, we're in Houston spending time with Joshua's grandparents and will soon switch to my parents. I can't believe that it's already June 9th--time is whizzing by so quickly! It reminds me that the time we have in our lives is so limited. It's so important that we do the most excellent things with the time we're given. We don't know when our lives will end. I don't know about you, but I still have a lot to do with my life! :)  

Live today to its fullest!

-Ashley