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 the fire pit in the backyard, camping in the Texas hill country, trekking around animal sanctuaries in Australia, playing in the sea on the shores of Mexico or eating the best burnt ends in Kansas City, it’s always an adventure in their company, and I simply hang on for the ride.
We gather for Sunday suppers after worship, where racks of lamb roast in the oven, lettuce and kale out of the garden turn into salads, and chicken tortilla soup slowly cook on the stove. All while countless guests are welcomed at the dinner table and into their homes.
And in a year where I bought my very first house, moved in my mom who began dialysis almost immediately, and then faced difficult decisions like needing to put my dad in hospice care, it was my good friends who stood right beside me. They picked up mom from the dialysis center so that I could travel out of town on photography shoots. They encouraged me, made me laugh and kept me moving forward so that I could continue to build a dream of creating meaningful photography while working a full-time job.
When my birthday neared a few months ago, they asked if there was anything I would like. As impossible as it sounded, 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 shore line.
The 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.