Saturday, July 30, 2016

My Project 52 {Week 31} -


{Week 31} Bike under the Daytona Beach Pier ~ July 27, 2016


Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Maid of Honor Speech -


Today has been 3 months since Kimberly & Ben got married!!! It's absolutely flown by. 

 In honor of that beautiful day, here's my Maid of Honor speech (as promised!). 
I successfully made it through without fainting plus I made half the room cry and everyone laugh! 
Thank goodness, because I spent more time writing that speech than most of my college papers. haha.
Began w/heart meds and followed by a good cry and hugs from two of my best friends who came after me. 

All gorgeous images by the one and only, Meghan of A Still Breath Photography!! 

My Maid of Honor Speech: 

Hi Y'all, I'm the Maid of Honor, my name is Jean Marie and I'd like to say that summing up
almost 28 years of friendship and my personality into 3 pages is a wedding miracle
You can thank Kimberly for the 5 minute limit. Hahaha. 

Well, sometime in October of 2015, my sister came into the kitchen for dinnertime and said:
"This guy asked to friend me on Facebook and I've been writing him back and forth;
he's really nice AND he believes the same things I do!!!" 

Now. 

Contrary to my personality, I'm the super suspicious online person, and I do not friend strangers.
Kimberly, however, thinks that's totally fine. She friends strangers alllll the time, and I'm always on her for this, 
so while Mom and Dad were like "Oh that's neat.", I was saying: "Kimberly, he could be ANYONE. 
His picture means nothing. It's probably even fake. He could be a stalker from Jamaica!!"

Well later on in that day, she comes rushing into the kitchen and says "YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE THIS.",
and I'm like "CALLED IT. STALKER." but then she says "No. He's the Kenyon's COUSIN." 
Our beloved childhood friends the Kenyons. Well. That immediately changed the game. 
I immediately liked him. I actually said "Aww! The Kenyons!! 
There can't be anything wrong with him then. Tell us everything!!" and so it goes from there. ;) 

Ben, I'll start with you. 

You have been very very prayed over and for. You, even with any imperfections you have, 
are the "above and beyond what we could dream or ask of God"
You are who we prayed would cherish and love and bring our Kimberly joy every day. 
I haven't ever told you this (I cry every time I tell this story, haha)
 but I prayed SO MUCH over meeting you for the first time. 
There was soooo much anxiety going into that first meeting at the airport 
with our whole family. Everyone was on edge wondering if this was going to work out
or be like the most awkward thing ever

So I prayed for weeks that God would be VERY clear, 
that He would give me instant peace if it was a yes, and instant closure if it was a no. 

So when you came out of the gate, I did something I rarely do: 
I stood back and melted into the background. 
I watched you meet Daddy, Mama, and then Kimberly, 
with her hand lightly pressed into yours,
her eyes shining, standing on one foot, so giddy and so nervous. 

And then you turned to me, last. Your handshake was firm yet gentle. 
You looked right into my eyes with kindness written all over your face.
I looked back into your eyes with my hand still in yours and instantly, I knew

Peace flooded through my heart and soul. I knew instantly that you were kind. 
That you were God's son. That you were peaceful and joyful. That you were gentle. 
That you liked to smile. That you were a gentleman. 
That God had sent you for my sister. 

Remember we went to the Food Court at the airport for Chick Fil A? I hurried ahead to find us a place,
and Mama comes bustling up in a flurry of nerves and takes my elbow,
"Oh my goodness, Jean Marie! Tell me what you think of him. Do you like him? Is this good?
I don't know if this is going to turn out." and I laughed with total joy and said, 
"Oh, he's THE ONE. He is IT. They are getting married. God's given me complete peace about it. 
I'm 100% sure. What kind of chicken sandwich do you want?" 

Good thing Mama was holding my elbow because I think she almost fell over in shock. Hahaha!

From that moment, I knew without a doubt you would marry. 
In fact, the second day you were here, I started writing my Maid of Honor speech in my head.
I stood back and watched my sister fall head over heels in love. 
There is a peace she's never had with anyone else but us that she has with you. 
You are her Home. You are her Love. And now you are her Husband. 
Ben, no one has loved her more than us ... until you. 

I've always wanted someone for Kimberly who would fit into our little family, 
who loved just being together with us. And you do. 
I've always wanted someone who wouldn't treat me like the little sister 
that wasn't wise in her own way, and you never have. You listen and respect my heart. 
I can't think you enough or tell you how much that means to me. 

You have captured my sister's heart, affection and respect and those are not easily earned. 
You have our respect and all of our love and we are so glad God brought you to meet and love our girl.
Thank you for making my food life so much more exciting, for wearing your penguin socks to church,
and for chasing Kimberly on the beach like a kid and reminding me that sometimes changes can still feel like Home. 

Kimberly, Thank you for the years of enduring friendship. 

The memories of our childhood are sweet - endless hours of Playmobile and dolls, 
climbing trees, building tent forts, riding bikes, signing in the backseat when Dad told us to be quiet,
making up stories and throwing raw chicken to the gators at the zoo - our childhood was wondrous
and wildly beautiful, and seemingly without much conflict except when you'd sell me out for giving
my boiled egg to the dog at breakfast. You never could tell a lie or keep a secret. 

Then we grew up, and childhood slipped into our older years of riding horses in anticlimactic weather, 
kayaking the Tomoka, ice skating in pairs, and finding our peace again and again in our beloved Ocean.

No one has ever believed me that my petite, quiet, introverted sister loves danger and has no fear
Many times on vacations she led me on adventures where I proclaimed:
 "We are going to die" every five minutes. Ben, watch outShe is not boring. 

"No Trespassing" signs make her eyes light up with joy. 
The minute she turns to you and says "IT'S UNDISCOVERED LAND! This will be SO.FUN.",
that's your warning that while it might be fun, it will probably not be safe OR legal. 

While I would chatter on about being shot or eaten by a bear or the inconvenience of whyyyyyyy 
she chose THE most rushing part of the freezing rapid river to cross, she would lead me laughing.
Up mountains. Across rivers. Down steep and slippery valleys. 
I'd complain for awhile, but then she'd turn to me with the whole world alight in her laughing eyes,
and suddenly every step was worth it just to see that. 

Kimberly, you are my only sister, and although we are so very different now, 
we've bonded, shared, lived, known more of each other than anyone else. 
You've encouraged and cheered me on when no one else understood. 

I think you've prayed over every session in my photography business. 
We've cried hysterical tears of laughter at 3am on sleepless nights 
and we've teamed up when Mom was out of town to run the house. 

We've heard the midnight sorrow in grief and loss 
and we made each other laugh when no one else could. 
 You are brave, my sister. Strong, brave, beautiful, passionate, pure and true. 
I've always looked up to you and I'm so very proud of you. 

I'll always love you with the fiercest part of my being. You are part of my own heart. 
I'm so happy for you and Ben. 

I think it's incredibly fitting that this wedding is in April. In the Springtime. 

Because watching my sister fall in love has been like watching Spring come again. 
Her smile when she looks at Ben is all the church bells ringing,
 all the love songs crooning and all the birds singing. 
The most radiant look I've ever seen on her face crosses it often,
 with a secret twinkle in her eyes that I've never known. 

It's magical and stunning and joyful and everything I've heard about falling in love is TRUE; 
it's the most amazing thing to watch your sister unexpectedly fall into. 
It is startling and splendid and all the joys of dreams and hopes and prayers being answered
in one fell swoop, and God did it allAll the glory and honor and praise belongs to Him. 

The years have been hard .... so many times when we thought we could not endure ....
when we did not WANT to endure .... when JOY had vanished .... when HOPE did not sing ....
when prayers faltered .... when dreams did not come true .... when PAIN held on .... 
when courage was tested far beyond our wisdom. 

Yes, the years have been hard. 
Harder than we ever could have imagined....but LOOK where we are: The Marriage Feast. 

This is a taste of what all our hearts long for: The Marriage Supper of the Lamb,
the reunion of Christ with His beautiful Bride: His Beloved and Redeemed Church. 

We have known too much to be innocent of the future. We do not expect fair mountains without deep valleys.
We know God doesn't promise us an instant easy life, even in the bursts of delighted love. 
We do know that He promises us Himself and that He is all we will ever need.

Remember the faithfulness of our God, for He has borne us safely thus far, 
He has walked the paths before, and He will lead us on forever in this land until we reach our Home.

Today is a testament to the promise that He hears our prayers and the prayers of the saints around us,
that He redeems the years; that He delights in bestowing blessings upon our heads, 
that He loves us with an unchanging and undying love. 

He truly has made everything beautiful in its time. 

I love this quote by John Piper: 
"Marriage: The roots are deep, the Covenant is solid, Love is sweet, Life is hard and God is good." 

In closing, as Grandma always used to say when we said goodbye: 
"Love you, love you, love you."

To Ben & Kimberly!" 

With love and so much joy, 
- Jean Marie - 

My Project 52 {Week 30} -


{Week 30} Wednesday, July 20, 2016 ~ iPod Photo

"Life is like a bowl of cherries...." Except when it's not. But sometimes it totally is, haha. 

Thankful for good, honest, a little teary but so special late night talks in the kitchen 
with Daddy while eating cherries. He's one of the best men I've ever known and I'll love him forever.

- JM -

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

4 Months -


 4 Months ago today I flew home from China (a very very long day of travel). 
I came home without CJ. The plan, of course, wasn't to come home with anyone
The plan was to love, and to love hard. 

The plan....didn't go as expected. Oh, I loved hard. 
But I didn't expect to grieve and agonize so much over leaving 
such a joyful little person back in China. 

I came home from China with empty arms. And it aches. Big time. 

I usually can't talk about him without crying. 
Sometimes I wake up in the night grieving the absence of him 
and the missing the weight of him in my arms. 
I can't think about handing him to the Nanny. 
The whole room cried with me as his wails followed me out the door.

"他是我的儿子
Tā shì wǒ de érzi" 
He is my son.

But he isn't. But "love I never knew...filled my heart when I met you" (Josh Garrels) 
I was filled with a love I couldn't identify. It was a love that the Heavenly Father speaks over me. 
I spoke it over my Courage Boy. 

Courage, dearheart. 

I love you a million times more than you know. Your family loves you. 
And most of all, Jesus loves you more than you could ever dream or imagine. 

- JM -

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My Project 52 {Week 29} -


{Week 29} July 12, 2016 ~ Cow Appreciation Day at Chick Fil A ~ iPod photo

Mama & Judy & I went to Chick Fil A dressed like *adorable* cows and got our free sandwiches! 
It was SO.MUCH.FUN. I loved every minute of it. 

Pulling off being a cow for a day really isn't that hard when you have cows
 at the end of your streetand trade "Moo's" with them on a daily basis. 
Plus, I loved making people laugh the rest of the dayafter I refused to take off my spots. 

*People staring* 
Me with a wide grin: "MOO." 
*People laughing* 

Oh Happy Days. 

- JM - 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

My Project 52 {Week 28} -


{Week 28} July 7, 2016 ~ Feathers in the sky ~ Malabar, Florida 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Project 52 {Week 25,26,27} -


{Week 25} Friday, June 17, 2015 ~ I made Pavlovas from scratch for Mama's Birthday!
 They were delicious! I bought lemon curd (imported from England), and topped them with fresh berries. 

{Week 26} Saturday, June 25, 2016 ~ Playalinda Beach, FL ~ PEACE in the water. Shot on my GoPro

{Week 27} June 28, 2016 ~ Ponce Inlet, Florida ~ The most beautiful evening for my Golden Birthday! 

- JM -