My Favorite Fairytale

As for love stories, my parents' is the BEST. I'm not biased or anything...I'm sure you'll agree. ;) The way God wrote His faithfulness through every detail has always been a wonderful encouragement to me. My mom finally documented the fairy tale testimony on their 35th year of marriage and I thought it'd be fun to share this Valentine's Day. 

Kelly: I had just entered college and was still living with my parents in a small Louisiana town of less than 3,000 people located about an hour outside New Orleans. Living in an out-of-the-way place with virtually no good prospects for a husband (or so I thought) and also the aftermath of a disappointing dating relationship, I told the Lord that I was finished with dating. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what He had waiting for me just around the corner.

I had fallen in love with Tim Sheppard’s music through Christian radio and had all his albums. During my high school and college years, I always attended his concerts any time he was ministering in the New Orleans area.

In May of 1981, Tim came to New Orleans again, and there I was, sitting in one of his concerts worshiping the Lord. I thought he was cute, but I wasn’t even sure if he was single. Besides…he would never notice me. I was just another person in a very large crowd of people.

Two weeks later, I received an envelope in the mail. Inside was a handwritten letter from someone claiming to be Tim Sheppard. I thought it was a prank until I noticed that the envelope was postmarked from Dallas, Texas. Later, I found out that Tim had tracked me down by contacting the concert sponsor who brought him into New Orleans. The sponsor just “so happened” to know who I was from the description Tim gave.

Tim said some encouraging things about the way I worshiped, but overall, I would say it was more of a get-to-know-you letter…or so I thought. I decided to write him back, and we began to exchange letters.

After a few weeks, Tim started calling me. Then, toward the end of June, he asked me what I was doing for the July 4 weekend. I told him I didn’t have anything special planned…that I was just going to be with my family and some friends. So, he asked if he could come visit my family and me, and I said…YES!!!

I was so nervous when he flew in to New Orleans that July day! Writing letters was one thing, but what would I actually say to him in person? Would we even “hit it off”?

Well…we did! I remember attending church together that weekend. No one could figure out how Tim Sheppard ended up coming to my little home church, and that he was with me!

After a weekend with my family and me, Tim flew back to Dallas and kept calling me every day for two weeks. Then, he offered to fly me to Dallas to meet his family, and I said…YES!!!

On our first evening together in Dallas, we joined Tim’s parents for dinner. Afterwards, he and I stayed up late to visit, and he asked me to marry him! (He had begun writing me only two months earlier, and we had only actually been together for less than a week’s time!) Tim said his proposal was conditional upon both his and my parents’ complete approval. He was confident that the Lord would speak through them to give us direction, and if any one of our parents didn't have peace about us moving forward, we would either postpone or completely cancel our plans. And I said…YES!!!

Both of our families said YES!!! They believed we were supposed to be husband and wife. We all realized there would be adjustments in marriage that most couples talk through and work out during their engagement. However, since Tim was in full-time ministry, there wasn’t a way for us to spend more time together in person (since I lived over 500 miles away). We did spend countless hours on the phone talking, though. We kept the phone bills as a reminder. :)

We were married on October 10, less than five months from the day I received Tim’s first letter. Now, over 34 years later, I’m as grateful as ever that the Lord miraculously connected the dots for us, and that He also blessed us with our daughter, Jessica, as a perfect completion to our family. She is now 25 and has always served the Lord with us in ministry.

When I was 12 years old, I wrote down my petition to the Lord for a godly husband and often prayed over the specifics of that “wish” list. One of the items on that list expressed my desire to marry an evangelist. (The main thrust of Tim’s music ministry from the 70’s through the 90’s was evangelism!) In the natural, living in such a small, rural area, there didn’t seem to be any hope. In spite of the obstacles, God took a Southern girl from a little country town and brought the man of her dreams all the way from Dallas, Texas, to her doorstep. And he fulfilled every desire on my list. What made the miracle even that much more miraculous is that since Tim traveled full time in ministry, it was challenging for him to pursue a relationship!

Our God can do anything! He will orchestrate divine connections and intersections to bring the spouse of your dreams to your doorstep. He has fulfilled the desires of my heart. If you're waiting on "the one," I encourage you to have faith and rest in the fact that your answer is on the way!


Happy Valentine's Day!

Much love xo

Jess

Ford Family x Photo Shoot

Laughter, authentic interaction, and FUN truly tell the story of a family through photographs. Personalities and dynamics shine when people feel free to be themselves...mission accomplished with the Ford family!

JESS + KENZIE + LANDRY + JUDAH

Look at those eyelashes, tho!

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." - Ronald Reagan

“We don't come to the table to fight or to defend. We don't come to prove or to conquer, to draw lines in the sand or to stir up trouble. We come to the table because our hunger brings us there. We come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity. The table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking everywhere for. The table is the place where the doing stops, the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children. We allow someone else to meet our need. In a world that prides people on not having needs, on going longer and faster, on going without, on powering through, the table is a place of safety and rest and humanity, where we are allowed to be as fragile as we feel.” ― Shauna Niequist

Love these dinner table quotes ^^

Much love xo

Jess

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120715 x The Coads (Baby News Inside)

I've had the joy of photographing the progression of Josh and Rachael's relationship. Engagement, bridal, wedding, 5-year anniversary trash-the-dress, and now another exciting mile marker! Keep reading... :)

Engagement:

Wedding & Bridal:

5-Year Anniversary Trash-the-Dress (I'll have to do a full post on this shoot sometime -- incredible):

Pregnancy Announcement (from Austria):

Followed by...Gender Reveal Party:

The Coads chose to wait to find out if their babe is a boy or girl until they could throw a party with their family and friends. We popped the balloons and turns out, Baby Coad IS A GIRL! "Ellie," short for Elynia Renee, due to join us April 2016.

Much hugging, smiling and celebrating ensued...

Thumbs up to Olivia Boyd (lifeinstyleofficial.com), who planned a fantastic brunch themed soiree. Check out those baby cakes! :)

Enjoying yet another season of life with the Coads. Their family is growing and we rejoice with them! :)

Much love xo

Jess

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Alford Family x Photo Shoot

When the five Schwartz children tragically lost both parents in three years' time, their Uncle Sion and Aunt Shannon became guardians of all five. With three of their own, the Alford home grew to  eight kids between the ages of four and fifteen (WOW).

I had the privilege of photographing the Alfords in 2009, soon after their family doubled in size...from five to ten.

What a difference six years makes! Since then, God has done so much in each person's life individually and together as a family. Four kids are in college now (also WOW) and life keeps spinning joyfully on.

Pastor Sion is an executive worship pastor at Gateway Church and Shannon serves on the Gateway Worship team. She's also become an author, writing her first book, "8 Is Enough." How appropriate. :) Click below to purchase!

Superhero parents! ^^

Grateful to have been asked to capture another season in the Alford family. What a stunning testimony of God's grace and faithfulness!

Much love xo

Jess

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