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Roxie & Claude | Wedding | Tupelo, Mississippi Wedding Photographer

Every wedding I’m a part of is magical and beautiful. I can honestly say that I have loved every one — even the ones in 100* heat I love in their own way! However, I can’t imagine a more perfect way to have ended the 2013 wedding season than with Roxie and Claude’s barn chic nuptials. It was a cold November day, but everyone was amazing. The energy throughout the day was full of love and light.

Guests arrived to a fun, modern bluegrass band from northeast Mississippi and were encouraged to grab a drink from the bar while they waited for the wedding to begin. Roxie’s dad had a medical condition that confined him to a wheelchair, so her brother gladly walked her down the aisle in his stead. Roxie and Claude were literally surrounded by friends and family under a beautiful tree on her family’s farm. It was one of the sweetest unions that I’ve witnessed that was many years in the making. Everyone danced the night away to a rocking band and took breaks to warm up at one of the many bonfires near the dance floor.

As I made my way through the images in the following weeks, I was so excited for the lovely photos I captured of Roxie with her dad as well as the ones with her paternal grandmother. I had no idea how cherished they truly were until I received the tragic news that Roxie’s father passed away three days before Christmas, and her grandmother passed three days later. There are no words sufficient during times like that. My heart ached for this beloved family and what they’ve grown to mean to me over the years as their photographer and friend.

During all the heartache and pain, it has been truly humbling and awe-inspiring to see how they’ve grown and continue to push forward and help others and make a their lives mean something. It’s been precious to see Roxie and Claude’s love grow even stronger as they hold each other and make more than the best out of this life together. They don’t settle for anything. They push to be the best they can be and make their families proud. I know Mr. Perry and Mrs. Edith couldn’t be more proud of the lives they’ve helped shape. The families of love and light.

Assistant photographer credit: Jennifer Hudson

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Roxie & Claude | Engagement | Tupelo, Mississippi Wedding Photographer

It’s been a wild two months in our sleepy little town. I had several blogs ready to post in April, but got sidetracked. On April 28, an EF3 tornado damaged and destroyed much of Tupelo. It basically began in my neighborhood (Bristow Acres), skipped over to historic Joyner and continued north from there. Our house had relatively minor damage, but we did lose 23 trees in our yard. We lost every tree in the back yard and several in the front.

The landscape has drastically changed, and it’s taking some getting used to. Some areas of town are still a huge shock to see, even 8 weeks later. One of those places is at Roxie’s grandmother’s house. That is where these engagement photos were taken. Many of these gorgeous, old trees are no longer standing.

Life has been unpredictable for these two precious newlyweds. But it’s been a pleasure to see their love grow in spite of life’s obstacles. It’s been a blessing to see God’s strength and grace through them. Roxie and Claude, your passion for life and love inspires me regularly. I’m lucky to know you and honored to have been a part of this special time in your lives.

Assistant photographer credit: Jennifer Hudson

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Nine years of recovery – nine years living in the light

9years

I posted a similar photo to this one on this day last year. The reason I post it again this year is because I find it so bizarre that it happened twice: two years in a row I just happened to purchase milk that expires on my sobriety date. We were out of milk, and I coincidentally purchased milk that expires on April 13? Yes, and I think it’s pretty cool.

When my parents took me to treatment on April 13, 2005, they had many questions and concerns regarding success rates and the likelihood of their baby getting better. It was far more common to see individuals with multiple relapses than those with several years of uninterrupted sobriety.

Luckily, however, I was able to find and surround myself with those with successful roads to recovery — and some unsuccessful people from whom I also learned much. This didn’t mean that every person had uninterrupted sobriety, but God provided me with several divine people that helped me stay sober. Some of these people I still know. Some were just passing through. Each made an impact on my life and where I am today.

The world of addiction and recovery is plagued with tales of heartache and devastation. Often, the road to recovery is paved with good intentions, relapse and death. From what I can tell, there are not any accurate statistics on the success of recovery. I know that around my 5 year mark, out of approximately 30 other patients, three of us were still sober, and sadly, one of the 30 died in a drug-related accident. I haven’t kept up with the three to know if they are still sober or not, but it’s pretty accurate insight for those of you unfamiliar with alcoholism and addiction.

I often say that I’m unable to drink responsibly, so I don’t do it at all. It doesn’t bother me if other people do it, but I’m not a social drinker — I am an alcoholic. I don’t read many blogs, but I try to keep up with Glennon Melton’s Momastery blog. She’s very open and honest about her road to recovery, and it’s inspiring.  If you’ve ever struggled with addiction in your life — whether for yourself or a family member — you can read one of Glennon’s most recent posts to have your eyes and heart opened to a raw, direct interpretation of it.

I know many people that aren’t vocal about that part of their lives, and I respect and honor that. But for me, being that I’m an open and honest person to a fault, I can’t help but share. Many times I think, regretfully, that I’ve officially shared too much information. Then someone contacts me to tell me about their struggle, or the struggle of a family member, and I think that maybe my struggle has helped someone. And that makes it worth it to me. That makes me thankful for my addiction and my recovery.

So, on this day — this day that marks NINE years of sobriety for me — I humbly thank God for saving me.

On this day — as we enter Holy Week on Palm Sunday, a time we reflect on resurrection and restoration — I humbly thank God for saving me.

Nine years ago life seemed very dark, bleak, and unforgiving. Today is full of light, love, and forgiveness. My cup runneth over.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

Anne + Rusty | Married | Tupelo, Mississippi Wedding Photographers

Anne and Rusty were married on a warm, August day last year. The rain tried to hold us down, but, luckily, broke off early in the day. The sunny, clear skies provided a lovely backdrop for fun and dancing on the Park Heights rooftop. These two love to have fun together and truly enjoy life. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in the future!

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The Mabi go to NYC | Tupelo, Mississippi Photographers

I’ve never felt the power of prayer and the power of social media so much as when we were in New York for Spring Break last week. I’m amazed by the people that followed our journey pre and post illness. Here’s a recap for those who missed it.

Last week we took the kids to New York City. It was their first plane ride as well as their first time to a big city, and they loved it! We explored and ice skated in Central Park, managed to find a bit of snow to play in and saw the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry. We found a great 2 bedroom apartment a few blocks from a subway station on the Upper East Side that was our home for the week. We only saw it twice a day as we were exploring the city all day, every day.

Long story short, we hit all the major tourist attractions: Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Toys R Us, FAO Schwarz, Serendipity, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Empire State Building (or “Umpire State Building”, according to Jack), Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim Museum (or “Googleheim”, according to Jack, again), Madame Tussaud’s, Cinderella on Broadway (girls), Aladdin on Broadway (boys), Dylan’s Candy Bar, The Discovery Museum, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock, and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Allow me to explain my last “attraction” — When we went to the Top of the Rock on Friday afternoon, Emily very quickly came down with a migraine and felt nauseated. We managed to get a few photos before we had to take her home (hence why she doesn’t look like herself in those). She slept for a few hours before waking up vomiting with pain in her chest and left arm. Josh called his friend from Tupelo that is a nurse in the city. She recommended New York Presbyterian Hospital — it’s where she works, and they have a great pediatric unit. They went to the ER around 11 pm, and she was admitted to the ICU with pneumonia a couple hours later. She didn’t seem ill during the week, but evidently had a virus lurking around the whole time.

Needless to say, we were quite scared and overwhelmed. People talk about how New Yorkers always band together and support each other. Well, we were blessed with double hospitality from native Mississippians living in New York. Thank you to all the people who offered to help (at home and in the city). We’re truly blessed with so many great people in our life. The power of God through prayers was strongly felt. We are ridiculously humbled. I caught myself crying many times over the weekend. Not necessarily all out of fear since we felt like Em was in good hands. It was more in response to the incredible overflow of love from everyone.

Saturday Chloe, Jack and I visited Emily at the hospital. However, we didn’t want them to be cooped up their last day in New York, so while Josh stayed with Em, I took Chloe and Jack ice skating as planned. We had fun and did really well considering we’re from a town that only has access to an ice skating rink because of indoor hockey. That is, until Jack took me down with him in a puddle of inch-deep water. Needless to say, we left shortly thereafter to buy some goodies for Emily. After dinner with her, we made one last trek to Serendipity. We didn’t get a table until 11:30, took the subway home and finally got in around 1 am.

Emily was not released in time to make her flight home as planned. However, she was taken off of high-flow oxygen early on Sunday and was walking around by lunch. I had a family friend help me with all of our luggage and give Chloe, Jack and me a ride to the airport. Josh had a friend deliver and eat dinner with them. It was tough on us to have something so bizarre, scary and unexpected thrown into the trip. But we’re glad it happened at the end — after Em did almost all of the touristy things. She did say that once she started feeling better, she enjoyed the one-on-one time with her daddy and the flight home alone with him on Monday. 

It was a crappy ending to an amazing week, but nevertheless, a great story. It’s been amazing to see people throughout the week who have mentioned the situation. It’s baffling to think that so many people saw our story develop on Facebook. It’s wild and a little weird at the same time. But I honestly believe that she healed as quickly as she did because of everyone that prayed for her. That is one way that social media is truly awesome.

Here are some of our photos from last week. You can find more on my Instagram account.

Here’s to the next Mabus Shenanigan — may it be fun, adventurous, and not involve hospitals!

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Annie - March 21, 2014 - 8:59 am

I love all of these pics! I’m so glad that Emily is feeling better. xoxo!