The Hopkins Family - At The Strawberry Farm

Two short years ago we were photographing sweet Andrew as a six-month-old baby. We gave him a strawberry to try as his first food and let the crimson juice run down his chin and cover his belly. It seemed only suiting to take the Hopkins family strawberry picking to celebrate their daughter Abby reaching the six-month milestone. It was a dewy summer evening and we had the farm all to ourselves. 

I met Joy and Matt years ago at church. Although we live on different sides of town and attend different campuses, our paths continue to cross at baby showers and girls' nights - Trina, isn't it about time for another girls' gathering? 

Joy has blossomed into the most beautiful mother. She delights in her children. Patience follows her footsteps. And she's mastered the toddler "diversion to avoid a tantrum" tactic - ha! And Matt still has the same sarcastic wit, keeping Joy and the others that are lucky to do life with him smiling. We joked about how his greatest dream for the evening was to frolic...

We started the evening with a few tears - our hearts have been grieving as a young family in our church lost two boys after a terrible car accident over Memorial Day Weekend. We knew that a prayer service was taking place for the family that evening during our photography session. Joy and I shared how we both had wanted to attend and had considered rescheduling. But something stopped us. We decided that one of the greatest ways we could honor the Eddings family was to move forward with the session, prayerfully. We had our own little prayer service that night in the strawberry fields. We asked God to give Gentry and Hadley strength to face this trial - to feel God's presence as He walks with them through the sorrow. And in great humility, we thanked God for the gift of family.

With an extra dose of gratefulness in their hearts, Joy and Matt walked hand-in-hand through the fields, wiped their tears and gave Andrew another reminder to "only pick the red berries." 

Each moment with our children is a gift, not to be taken for granted. 

Frolic. Such a silly word. But did you know that the word means "to play and move about cheerfully, excitedly, or energetically"? That is exactly how I picture little Dobbs and Reed Eddings running around the fields of heaven. And they wouldn't come back to this mess of a world if they could. Instead, they frolic with Jesus. And wait to be reunited with their Mommy and Daddy. I can just picture little Dobbs running up to Hadley, red berry in hand, saying,"Mama, wait 'til you taste and see the heavenly berries!"

Joy and Matt, thank you for allowing me to document your beautiful family. And for being willing to celebrate your children in such a vulnerable way.