Archive for Jan 2012

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January 24, 2012 Flowergirls

I wrote last week about “reluctant flower girls” (see here) and I was reminded about my own daughters as flowergirls and had to share a few oldies!

They have been fortunate to be flowergirls in a few family weddings. They have been little stinkers every time…

The wedding where Eden laid on the stage with her skirt right up, plugging her ears, and then I finally had her go sit down when she started jumping off the top step of the stage during the ceremony.

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Laying in the grass in a white dress.

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At this point the dress is ripped and hair is ruined.

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They did have some cute moments at that wedding too…

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Another wedding….

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Eden picked her nose – and Madi went over to the front pew, laid down and had a nap.

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Kissing the groom.

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Runaway flowergirl.

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And then another wedding where Madi picked her nose the entire service. I was photographing and Mark was performing the ceremony – so neither of us could get at her to stop. Too funny.

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Celebrating life and love,


January 23, 2012 Legacy

I was chatting with a bride this week who had just received her wedding album from me. She said, “I can imagine sharing it with our grandkids someday.”

I loved that. I think sometimes we think of the photos as for right now – the images we can upload to Facebook tonight, share with our friends tomorrow…. but the images we create today build a story about us that will be passed on to generations. What will that story say? What do we want that story to say might be a better question.

At the end of our chat, the bride said “I want our love to be our legacy.”

What an honour it is to document and create heirlooms to pass on for generations.

This video has been passed around online for years – but I love it and wanted to share it here again.

Celebrating life and love,


January 22, 2012 Really, really glad

This weekend we watched the movie “Courageous” and in it there is a line that stuck with me. The wife says to her husband…. “There are days I’m glad I married you. And then… there are days I’m really, really, really glad I married you. Today is one of those days.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself! I am so thankful for Mark in my life. He has been my sanity, encouragement, fellow dreamer, companion and the man I adore for more than half my life now.

Today, is a special day in Mark’s life. It’s a significant birthday… I probably shouldn’t say what age but I will leave it at this… he’s no longer in his 30′s! icon smile Really, really glad

I could go on and on about how great he is… but why don’t I just show you?

Mark is the kind of guy that is hard to upset – even when I “accidentally” bring home a baby goat that I fell in love with.

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Mark goes along with my crazy ideas… when I say “Let’s drive from BC to Cape Breton” – his response is “Okay, when?”

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I love to plan parties – but Mark gets the honour of doing the games and everything at the parties. And he does so with such enthusiasm! Even when Eden invited more kids than we knew were coming and suddenly we had 25 instead of the 14 we planned for at her Halloween in July birthday party. Mark keeps his cool and goes with it.

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Mark is a kid at heart – even when we’re kid-less like on this trip to FAO Swartz in NYC without the kids!

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Or getting a broken koosh ball stuck on his head

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Mark makes time for his girls. When we lived in Hamilton, and he worked in Guelph, we would often meet halfway for picnics after work.

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Mark is a nurse, and is so caring with his girls.

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One of my first memories of Mark is his laugh – always ready to burst out!

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As I looked back over photos of Mark there were so many of him just walking and talking with the girls wherever we are. Love that.

At home….

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And even in Iceland…

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And Mark has taught the girls so much! He’s taught them….

-you jump on the beds whenever you get to a hotel

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-whip cream tastes better from the can

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-how to rap

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-proper attire for a date (and how to dance)

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-while in Cape Breton Mark spent a lot of time trying to teach the girls how to do cartwheels

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-how to make goofy faces (even while at a fancy dinner on a cruise)

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-a love of reading and learning

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-to stop and enjoy God’s beauty

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-that if you give it, be prepared to get it.

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-the value of a best friend

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-how to be a scarecrow

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-that a dad is someone to look up to and admire.

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Happy birthday, Marky Mark!

Love your adoring wife. xoxoxo

January 21, 2012 Meera-January 2

I just had an email from Laura (Meera’s mom)… she had wanted to share Meera’s story in the comments and answer some of your questions, but it got too long so I said I would blog it instead. HEre is a bit about Meera from Laura. And if you have missed our Meera posts – you can view them here and here.

Hello, and thank you. Thank you so much Krista for choosing us to document for your personal project, I am honored that we stuck out to you, in an unfortunate amount of children and families that are sadly experiencing a very similar new and different lifestyle. And thank you to those who are sending prayers and positive energy our way. It means the world to us.

I’ll try my best to have a condensed version of Miss Meeras journey so far to bring everyone up to speed on Meera and her condition. I can simply start with, in July, life was normal. And in August everything changed forever.

We noticed a lump that grew rapidly under her nose, which made her look like little Cindy Lou who from whoville and through a slew of tests from non to very invasive (xrays, ultrasounds, MRI, CATscan, biopsies, bone marrow aspirates, Bone and PET scan, and and ECHO test) we received the devastating news she in fact had a rare aggressive malignant tumor called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. She had to have a ‘port’ inserted immediately in order to administer her Chemotherapy and sedatives for her radiations. She also had to have a gtube (an internal feeding tube) as they strongly believed she would receive mouth sores from the chemo and radiation and might not eat which means healing would be more difficult. (proper nutrition is an important factor in healing-and they were very right about the loss of appetite) Meera has already completed her 28 days of radiation, one of those days was her second birthday, on Halloween. It’s an awful feeling knowing you are doing your best to be a good parent and trying to fix something she doesnt even know is a problem and part of her fixing includes putting her through procedures that cause her such a great deal of pain and sickness.

‘Rads’ were brutal. Her face was so badly burned from it she looked more like a burn victim then a cancer patient towards the end. And the after effects lasted much longer after they were completed as that’s how they worked. So many nights, and mornings were spent cleaning up after she was sick.

The chemo protocol is a 43 week treatment plan that started Sept 7th. The Dr’s decided that it was far too invasive for surgery to remove the tumor and to see how things went with chemo and radiation. They also didn’t want to give us any percentages in terms of prognosis as there’s always that chance of something happening. But they do seem quite content with how quickly the tumor had taken to the treatment even in the first few weeks. The problem with this specific type of cancer is it has a nasty tendency to spread to other places (metastasize) and fast, but fortunately it was only where we saw it, which means we really did the set we could in terms of getting her taken care if right away.

We had to stay at the Ronald McDonald house (which we are eternally grateful for) as Meeras radiations were to be everyday, as well as the post radiation evaluations. Her chemo was also modified while undergoing ‘rads’ as one of the drugs were not compatible, which means her hair already started to grow back. Her hair began falling out exactly one week after her baby sister was born, Sat Sept 24th, and by Tuesday the 27th, she was bald. And now the ‘rads’ are over she is back on the heavy duty drugs and will be loosing her sweet peach fuzz, and I again will shave my head so she does not have to endure the looks alone. She is not in this fight alone.

My apologies if I jump all over the place, and for a lengthy post, but it certainly is quite a fair bit of information to try and squeeze in. Again I do want to thank everyone on following us on our journey through Meeras battle, and Krista for being there with her amazing photography skills and perception. As difficult as some images can look, I feel as if there are far more emotions involved such as strength and beauty. Meera has given me a gift I could never imagined I had, and cherish every single moment we have together, to be honest I always have embraced every moment, good or bad. And I always will. I look forward to sharing more each month, sometimes we do have a chance to be a normal family and have fun with the simpler things in life.

And because you always need a photo… I love this one of Meera with her pink nails, princess dolls… and IV tubes.

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Celebrating life and love,


January 20, 2012 Meera – January

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I will be photographing Meera and her family each month as a personal assignment… documenting their journey through cancer.

A lot of people have asked me “why?” I am doing this assignment. It is something I have wanted to do for years – so many of us are touched by cancer. Too many of us. But not all of us know what a day in the life of someone actually going through it looks like. What the reality of the big “C” word in your life can mean.

When I met Meera and her mom, Laura I just knew they were a fit. Laura is so open to talk about their journey and Meera is just so stinking cute! And as I met with them this week, I was reassured this was the right choice – I love this family already.

The night before I Was to photograph Meera in her home, I got a text from Laura. Meera had been admitted to the hospital – after her chemo that day her blood platelets were quite low and she needed to stay in the hospital. SHe asked if I wanted to reschedule. No way! This is life for them. One thing I really appreciate about Laura, is she explains everything to me and is so informative. And she is so positive through it all. I heard her say a few times “this is our life now.” Just a fact.

I wanted to quickly share a bit of their story as it is so unbelievable to me. I may have a couple dates wrong – going from memory – so Laura, please correct me.

August 21 – Laura is 8 months pregnant with her second child and turns 26!
August 24 – Meera is diagnosed with cancer
September 17 – Roy and Laura’s second daughter Ameena (meaning “faith”) is born (3 weeks after Meera’s diagnosis!)

Laura calmly told me how she asked to be induced, as she was needing to go around Meera’s chemo schedule as well. She had her baby, then stayed in the hospital a couple days until it was Meera’s chemo day in the same hospital so that she could be there with her.

I am a mom of two daughters almost the same age. Remembering to brush my teeth was a challenge in the early days. I am absolutely in awe of Roy and Laura’s strength and great attitude. Love their little “Meera-cle”.

Without further ado – here’s a glimpse into January with Meera.

When I got there, Meera was at an ex-ray so I caught Laura having some cuddle time with Ameena. They were in a private room, but that still meant that overnight the sleeping arrangements were less than ideal – Meera got the bed, Laura got the pull out chair and Ameena got the stroller.

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Grandma was there too – and they’re doing such a great job making sure Ameena gets attention too!

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Meera came back from her ex-rays and didn’t want to get out of her stroller. She sat and watched Dora with her Princess dolls!

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A nurse came in to check her blood platelets. It was so sad – and I debated posting these.. but this is reality. I loved watching Laura comfort her though.

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I should mention – Laura buzzed her hair off when Meera started to lose hers. What an awesome act of love.

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Meera doesn’t always eat – so she has a “button” she had surgically put in where she can be given medication or tube fed. This particular day they could not get her to eat or drink – so it may mean she gets “fed” later by tube.

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Daddy trying to get Meera to eat…

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And all the while, happy go lucky Ameena is chilling out.

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Those legs!! Love her.

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Laura giving Meera some of her medication – Meera thought it was water in there and squirted it in her mouth… she wasn’t too happy to find meds! Love how she pretended to give her princess dolls meds too!

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The main thing I saw though was love, love and more love.

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Beautiful, beautiful Meera.

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Celebrating life and love,


January 19, 2012 Reluctant Flower girl

I love kids in weddings – whatever they do is adorable. The flower girl at Dave & Bea’s wedding was no exception and I had to share a separate post just on her. She was just SO cute! She was pretty shy and hesitant – which made for even cuter photos!

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And then at the end of the night – she decided she would like to perform her flowergirl duties after all. icon smile Reluctant Flower girl

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Celebrating life and love,


I loved this wedding so much – had to break it into two posts as I wanted to share so many images!

Yesterday I shared the ceremony and some images from the first look that you can see HERE. Today, I wanted to share some of the portraits and reception.

We walked in and around the coffee plantation for their portraits. Such a gorgeous location!

After the ceremony, we went back to the house where Bea could freshen up while Dave waited and enjoyed the view. And what a view!

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And then it was off to explore and soak in some of that gorgeous end of day sunlight!

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This photo makes me laugh. Dave has learned Spanish very quickly and being immersed in the language is quite fluent. But switching back and forth gets confusing. Here, he was talking to his own sister in Spanish while someone translated for her. I came up and pointed out the obvious “She speaks english!” which got this big laugh when they realized their error. I am so impressed though at the language skills of so many people there who could effortlessly flip between languages!

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El Salvador isn’t that safe, and as we left the estate property, Aaron and Jeff (two groomsmen) pretended to be bodyguards to protect the happy couple.

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But somehow I think this guy did a better job of protecting and scaring people off…. never thought I’d get use to people strolling along with big guns! But thankful for all the security and that this guy followed along with us.

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Watch these two little boys behind Dave and Bea… you don’t need to speak the same language to see what mischief they’re up to!

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Ha ha – love how the one boy grabs the other one to try to imitate their kiss – and then gets shoved away. Typical kids!

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You have to remember these images of Dave piggy backing Bea when you see the cake!

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We ran into Dave and Bea’s siblings on our way back to the reception – and Dave requested we do an old fashioned, serious pose for an image.

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But this is much closer to their true personalities!

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Reception time! I just loved the reception set up and location on the mountain side – so beautiful!

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And remember how Dave likes to piggyback Bea? Such a sweet cake. Dave was laughing at his “hockey stick” though – he said they had probably never seen one there in El Salvador and thought it looked more like a golf club! Still, super sweet!

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At the reception, they had a couple of fun stations. One, was a s’more station. It was so fun to see the Canadians teaching the Salvadorians how to roast a marshmallow and make the perfect s’more!

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Another station they had was a photo booth with a Canadian flag, and an El Salvador flag – with props form both countries. The booth was a big hit and people were there all night throwing fake snowballs, and pretending to drink from a coconut!

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It was a fun reception with the Canadians introducing the Salvadorians to some fun games (Mad Libs and the shoe game). They were really getting into clinking the glasses to make the couple to kiss, so I asked one of the bridesmaids if that is something they typically do in El Salvador, to which she replied “No, but we’re quick learners!” So fun!

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Dave and Bea – thank you so much for letting me celebrate alongside you and document your story!

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Celebrating life and love,


Dave and Beatriz’ wedding was such a gorgeous celebration – up in the mountains of El Salvador at a coffee plantation estate. They did an amazing job of incorporating Bea’s Salvadorian culture and Dave’s Canadian traditions throughout their wedding. I’ll point out some in the images below – but will likely miss some as there was so many!

This wedding was so much fun to document – not just because of the gorgeous location and couple, but because of their two cultures coming together – both bride and groom fiercely proud of their heritage. And the couple is just smitten with each other and surrounded by friends and family who love them!

I started my day with Bea at the salon – it was a great chance to get to know each other better as I watched her transform into a gorgeous bride.

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We then headed up to the estate for the rest of the day. Such a gorgeous location up in the mountains (the drive was scary though!). Bea got dressed in this sweet little house on the property – and we did a lot of the portraits on the balcony of it overlooking the valley.

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And we can’t forget the handsome groom!

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Dave and Bea did a “first look” before the ceremony. They decided to have their family present also which was fun!

Everyone waiting for the big reveal!

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Doing the first look, allowed us to have portraits with the wedding party, family and some of the couple all done before the ceremony!

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Then it was time for the ceremony! The ceremony and reception were both translated into both Spanish and English.

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Now, I always photograph with an assistant so I don’t have to be disruptive moving around… but when I travel I work alone usually which is fine. Well, Try as I might I could not get an angle to see Bea’s face during the ceremony with the layout. I was very fortunate my cousin (Dave’s sister and a fellow photographer) was there and had a good angle. Without a word – I passed my camera to her, she stood up and grabbed a couple of images of Bea for me. Thanks Kathryn!!! (She also helped get a second angle during the first look – so thankful!)

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A couple of special elements in the ceremony…

Two Salvadorian traditions… the first was coins is presented to Dave, which he gives to Bea. I believe it signifies the groom’s commitment to support the bride.

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And the second tradition, the bride and groom choose a couple who have been significant in their lives as spiritual mentors. This couple presents them with a new family Bible. This presentation was extra sweet for me as they had chosen my Uncle John and Aunt Naomi. Dave and Bea have gotten to know our aunt and uncle really well as they work with them in Panama now. I got to know my aunt and uncle well wen I lived with them in the Yukon for a few months for a very memorable summer! They celebrate 50 years of marriage this year – an awesome example to the newlyweds!

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A Canadian tradition they did was the “sand ceremony” (which is done in place of the unity candle). Bea had ordered coloured sand but it never arrived – but Dave’s sisters were quick to come up with a solution! They used the black sand from El Salvador’s beaches and PAINTED some sand with purple nail polish! I said they were like McGyver… to which I got a blank look. Definitely dating myself.

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Finally man and wife!

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I love the moments of congratulations between parents and their children… and newly added children!

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And this look of adoration from mom to son melts my heart.

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While the couple did a receiving line, I grabbed photos of some of the guests – including the parents of the groom – my aunt and uncle (in the middle) with my parents, and my other aunt and uncle (the mother of the groom’s two big brothers).

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Then when I turned around – I saw that the guests had all cleared and Dave and Bea were having this quiet moment. SO beautiful.

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This post is getting really long – so I’m going to break it into two… come back tomorrow to see the portraits of the bride and groom and the gorgeous reception!

Celebrating life and love,


January 13, 2012 Dave and Beatriz

Many years ago… I babysat three little cousins for two entire summers (their little sister came along afterwards). They lived a few hours away, so I went and lived with their family and would babysit these three munchkins Monday-Friday all day for two summers when I was headed into grade 8 and grade 9. How their parents trusted me with their kids is beyond me. But they did, and we all survived.

Now… fast forward a couple years, and I have photographed the weddings of the two sisters I babysat those summers long ago, and now it was time for their brother to also get married!

First in 2008 there was Kathryn and Aaron’s wedding – complete with a boat ride, canoes, jumping on the trampoline, a wild storm, and their family cabin.

n612767628 1224203 3979 Dave and Beatriz

Then last year, I got to photograph Jeff and Christina’s wedding complete with s’mores, loads of snow, snowmobiles, boots and more snow!

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So it was a complete honour to now document David’s wedding in El Salvador now! But first… let’s start with their engagement photos.

David met Beatriz (Bea) on a missions trip to Guatemala with Living Water Ministries (the people behind those awesome Advent Conspiracy videos!). David was down for just a week from his home in Northwestern Ontario – and Bea was serving there for a year from her home in El Salvador. By the week’s end they both knew that this was more than a friendship. They took time to get to know each other through Skype and emails… and then David came down to El Salvador to see if there was anything in person. Needless to say at the end of the visit things were more official. Soon enough, David had moved to Latin America where he has been since. Our uncle and aunt (John & Naomi) were able to help Dave & Bea get teaching jobs in Panama where they are still working.

I just absolutely love that in the most unexpected location – a foreign country to both – these two were brought together. To see them together, you KNOW that they were meant to be. I can’t wait to share their wedding images and story – but for now… enjoy some engagement photos we took in and around a restaurant one night in El Salvador!

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I asked Dave to spin Bea – Dave is extremely competitive – he whipped her around so fast (and with one arm) I could barely snap as I was laughing so hard. I had to remind him it wasn’t a competition and to be a bit more gentle!

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The best photo bomb… Dave’s sister and brother-in-law ran to sneak in the background of this picture. ha ha!

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0039 IMG 7774 Dave and Beatriz

Celebrating life and love,


January 12, 2012 Two Years Later…

At 4:53pm, it will have been two years since the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti – sending a deadly wake up call to the world that we have a neighbour in need. The poorest country in the western hemisphere practically a hop, skip and a jump away.

May we not forget.

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You can read about my trip to Haiti last April HERE, HERE and HERE.

And here is a video I did to share at church… .

I encourage you to visit HERE today at 4:53pm to read the first hand experiences of people directly involved with that horrific day.

Celebrating LIFE and LOVE and praying for the people of Haiti…


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