I had a Sunday deadline for a wedding I was working on and I wanted to finish it Saturday morning. Working from home on a Saturday with all kids present equals zero productivity so I wake up early and head to a coffee shop with my laptop while JD and the kids slept. I wanted to finish so I could spend the day with family.
By 8 am I was coming to a stopping point but wanted to get just a little further. At 8:06 I sent a video message to my dear friend and second shooter showing her some of the photos. At 8:07, with clear blue skies and sun pouring into glass windows, the coffee shop fills with sounds of emergency alerts on our phones. This isn’t actually *all* that unusual in Hawaii as it’s usually used for flash flood warnings. I roll my eyes at the thought of a flash flood and look down at my screen. I have to read the words twice before registering what I see.
What in the actual world.
Everyone around me looks as confused and stunned as I feel and several things run through my mind in that moment. 1. Is this real? Where are the outdoor sirens we’ve just become familiar with? They must not be working. 2. It says NOT A DRILL (at this moment I read the text out loud to a coffee shop of strangers just to make sure I wasn’t the only one who received this message. A woman slips quietly out the door. Another woman starts sobbing). 3. I have 12-15 minutes before this thing strikes. I might make it home. I’m going to go for it.
I unplug my computer, grab my coffee and wallet, and walk/run out the door. I put my keys into the ignition, reverse out of my parking spot and call my husband.
“Did you get the message?”
“I’m coming home.”
“Yes come home.”
“I can’t believe this is happening. Get the kids in the hallway.”
“I know. I will. Just come home.”
Next I call both my parents. No answer, and I decide not to leave a message because at this point I might lose it and I don’t want the last sound of my voice to be hysteria.
Text comes from a friend, “GO TO YOUR CLOSETS. Get cover.” Their base sirens are going off. Emphasis on NOT A DRILL.
Shit. This suddenly feels very real and I look out the window to see if there’s a cloud. Call JD again, just to hear his voice and make sure the kids are in the hallway.
“I love you baby.”
“I love you too. Just come on home.”
“I can’t believe this is happening,” I keep saying.
“Just come home. We’ll see you soon.”
Half the cars know what is going on and half the cars are driving with aloha. We hit several red lights and eventually people start honking, because when a ballistic missile is headed your way and there is absolutely no cross traffic, it’s fine to run that red light. Light turns green and my foot hits heavy and hard on the gas. Still no mushroom cloud.
God please just get me home. Please stop that missile from hitting us. Protect us. Please get me home. On repeat. In the name of Jesus.
Texts from friends telling us how much time we have left and I pull into my driveway, sloppily park the car, and run in to see my babies crouched together in our hallway that encloses itself. Wes toddles around all smiles while his favorite people sit at eye level and provide human jungle gyms. What grace. I start to cry a little but without tears so it feels very strange. I am just thankful to see everyone. JD has three mattresses surrounding us in our hallway and I think briefly about supplies but figure there’s no time until impact and I need to hold my babies. Quick texts to our families:
Ballistic missiles coming our way.
We love you so much.
And we tell the girls. We did. We’ve had discussions with them before as their school has talked about the new sirens that have started recently and JD had already told them it wasn’t a drill. And I guess all I wanted them to know in that moment was that God is in control, He loves us, and we might get to be with Jesus today and at least we are together.
“Why are they doing this mama? We didn’t do anything to them?”
No baby but there is evil in this world.
“But why do they want to bomb us?”
Even still, God is in control.
And I believe it wholeheartedly. Blessed assurance that my inheritance is with Him. That peace without understanding is real even as my heart races and shoulders tense. Thankful that we are together and that we will be together. Trusting God with all of it and still praying mightily and loudly for God’s protection.
“It looks like it might be a mistake?”
“Looks like it was just a drill.”
“False alarm.”
The texts come pouring in and we are on our phones. JD searching twitter, me updating families, getting information from military friends. Hopeful that we are in the clear and all is well. Wondering what on earth happened. Waiting for official clearance because it’s all so bizarre. Neither of us expected a false alarm.
My shoulders start to shake and I hug our kids and tell them we’re ok. There’s no missile.
A friend who knows things tells me, “There was never a missile. You were always safe.”
Praise Him.
“Mama tell us what happened… Ok tell us the story again… Again.”
Yes baby, we can talk about this all you want.
The reality of this news is overwhelmingly good. Life is good and so beautiful and we live to see another day. Someone pressed the wrong button. Human error. A mistake. Never a missile.
Time for the good wine and good food and endless snuggles and sunshine and sand and friends.
Praise Him from Whom all blessings flow. And may this never be repeated.
Even as I say this I know there are people for whom this is daily reality. Jesus Come.

Day in the Life {A 30th Birthday}

Two days before my 30th birthday I was having a rough morning. The kind where you just want your own mama to come and make it better. JD was extra attentive, and I was thankful for his presence when he came home for lunch at noon. Or so I thought. He led me outside our house, saying he wanted my help with something. Not finding anything to help him with, I turned around and there was. my. MOM. !!!!!!

An ocean separates us and there are many times, many days when I wish my mama was close by. It was so cool to have one of those moments and then bam! Magic. Mom’s there.

She flew out for my 30th birthday as one of many fine surprises that week. In terms of celebration – no birthday (Well, except my super awesome 21st) has come close. On my final eve of 29, a pins and needles type nerve pain started at my finger tips and crawled its way up to my shoulder. A feeling I’ve had before  (including on my face) and felt very anxious about. The next morning, on my 30th, my arm was still pins and needles and remained that way the entire time. I suffer from anxiety from time to time, and this sensation triggered some pretty frustrating emotions that I battled throughout the day. To make my month long story into a very short one – I saw a neurologist, had a brain MRI, got results and they are normal. Praise Jesus. Photography has been an incredible endeavor for me – but has also led to some pretty gnarly health issues which I’m still working through after a very busy season, including a pinched nerve, carpel tunnel, and some other issues. I’m working hard to take care of myself in order to heal and prevent further injury, including not being weak. (aka- we joined a gym).

My birthday started off with flowers and coffee and a super fun play date with our mama’s group at the botanical gardens where my friend Jen and I celebrated our birthdays with a surprise brunch!!

Next, mama and I went to lunch, a local chocolate shop, and shopping while our friends Kenji and Amy watched the young ones. This part of the day was so special because it was crammed with my favorite things to do with my mom!!

After a quick after school shower and lots of kisses from my girls, my mom and I headed out to meet 13 of my favorite island gals for our very own, private sunset cruise. SO. GOOD. I think every gal on that boat needed a night on the ocean, because we were in heaven. I actually would like to be on that boat right now. There is something so therapeutic about the ocean and sailing its waters. We capped our evening with drinks and pupus at a gastro pub in walking distance. It was perfect.

Even more perfect? The next day my man surprised me with an overnight stay in Waikiki. We met up with one of our favorite couples and enjoyed kid-free entertainment until as late as we wanted. The end.

Enjoy photos from my day – as you can tell, the camera was passed around by friends so that my face wasn’t always in the viewfinder, which was nice. Sometimes I’m more present with my camera, sometimes I’m less – I’m thankful that I enjoyed a little bit of both for 30.


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photographing with friends {mica}.

I met Mica through a mutual friend via the internet in our Foto Fifty group. (Erin. You’ve met her on the blog a few times). We skyped once, so she wasn’t a complete face to face stranger – and certainly not through the year long exchange we had with our group of photographers. When she mentioned she was coming to Hawaii, I insisted she stay with us. And I’m so glad she did because it was just lovely for my soul to have her in our home, hanging out all around the island with cameras in tow. This photography thing is so fun, but with it comes insecurity, burnout, and creative ruts. I’m convinced I would have checked out long ago if it weren’t for the community of people I’ve found through snapping photos. Mica and I talked the whole time. Unless we were watching New Girl with JD or at church, we were talking. She’s doing my sister in law’s wedding in March and I’m SO excited for Monica and Manin to have such a skilled photographer tell their wedding story. Check out her work – she’s unreal.

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Pau Hana.

I was up to my ear in boxes and the thought of cooking dinner was enough to throw me on the couch in an infinite pout session. Couldn’t really justify ordering pizza, as moving across the ocean has sucked us dry in the cents and dollars department, but as is so often the case, the Lord provides. Even if it’s leftover office lunch pizza spread over a sandy blanket at my husband’s favorite surf spot. Small graces are never small.

pau hana 1 pau hana 2  pau hana 4 pau hana 5 pau hana 3 pau hana 7pau hana 6 pau hana 8*photos taken a few weeks ago