The Stewart family in Los Cabos 2016

      Meet the Stewarts — they are your cheerleaders, sister, brother, nephew, niece, teachers, mentors, warriors for Jesus, and the forever kind of friends.

      Whether it’s picking pumpkins in local patches, roasting marshmallows over a fire in the backyard, camping in the Texas hill country, exploring animal sanctuaries in Australia, playing in the sea on the coasts of Mexico or discovering delicious burnt ends in Kansas City, it’s one adventure after another in their company, and I simply hang on for the ride.

      We gather for Sunday suppers, where racks of lamb roast in the oven, lettuce and kale harvested from the garden turn into salads, and chicken tortilla soup slowly cook on the stove.  All the while, an endless stream of guests are welcomed at table and into their homes.

      And in a year where I owned my very first house, moved in Mom who began dialysis almost immediately, and then faced difficult decisions like needing to put my dad in hospice care, it was these very good friends who stood right beside me.  They picked up Mom from the dialysis clinic so that I could travel for photography shoots.  They offered encouraging words, made me laugh and kept me moving forward so that I could build a dream of creating meaningful photography while working a full-time job.

      When my birthday neared a few months ago, they asked what I would like to do.  Given everything that was happening, I jokingly replied, “All I want is to sit on a beach, stare at the ocean and drink a piña colada.”  And to think of nothing for a little while.

      Weeks later, they and another friend, Julie, astonished me with that very gift.  In this very space, I recharged by watching waves unfurl, playing like a kid in dazzling blue water, and swimming with colorful arrays of fish along the shoreline.

      IMG_7959The family portrait above is very special to me.  We always talk about making one, as the most recent family photograph hanging on the wall of their living room was taken before the arrival of their daughter.  So I made sure to create one on this trip to the Baja Peninsula.

      I am grateful to this family for so many reasons.  They are stalwarts and stewards of God’s gifts, and a treasure to all of us who are lucky enough to know them.