Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Grandma's Christmas Candies

This weekend was beautiful.

The apron of Grandma's
that I remember the most keenly
I spent it at my Grandpa's house, helping him to figure out how in the world Grandma made all her Christmas candy. He wanted to do it this year, to hand out to all the family like Grandma used to-- huge boxes full of chocolate-covered-cherries, Turtle candies made from scratch, various cookies, and almond-bark goodies. We could never have guessed how tiring it would be! How Grandma did this year after year, I will never know. But as I stood in her kitchen, wearing her apron, stirring her pots of caramel, I felt so close to her. It struck me how very many times her smooth, soft hands had touched those well-worn pots and pans. Cooking for others was one of the main ways Grandma showed her love-- pots and pots full of love.

There were some tears-- for both Grandpa and I-- but there was also lots of laughter. And I can't wait to find an excuse for another long weekend spent at Grandpa's :)

My very own Christmas elf :)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Update on the Photography Name Game

Thank you so much to everyone who weighed in on the photography name for me, both here and on Facebook. The favourite ended up being the one I favoured too! But then I did my research... to find that Poiema Photography is already taken! As is Leah Joy Photography. And Moments of Joy Photography (a great suggestion from a friend on FB). But His Poiema Photography is still free. Do I spring on it? I'm worried about it being kind of a strange mouthful.

I want to deliberate over a name because it's important. But I want to begin this journey and I need to reserve whatever name I'm going for in order to get the blog address, the FB page, etc. I want it to be intriguing, and to invite curiosity about what it stands for. I want it to be artsy. I want it to be personal to me, and to what God has spoken over my heart and over my life all these years of coming to know Him more and more. I feel like photography, like writing, is kind of a spiritual thing. Grasping on to little glimmers of His glory to share with the world. Pointing, always pointing, to the whole epitome of this existence...

And I do so love Him. And long to magnify Him in it all. I just can't keep it in...

So, I've been brainstorming and checking each and every idea that comes to mind. All the best ones seem to be taken! But there are a few left that might work... I used a word cloud generator to show me what words I have most often written on this blog, and then came up with some names based on them :) Does anyone have any opinion on the list I've put together below? Or any other suggestions I might consider?

#1-- His Poiema Photography. "Poiema" means workmanship or masterpiece in Greek. And everything I photograph will be little glimmers of His masterpiece as are each and every one of our life stories as they are being played out!

#2-- Poetry of Light Photography (or Poet of Light Photography). It again, plays off the idea that we are God's poiema, His masterpiece, His work of poetry. And photography is all about capturing scenes according to the light thrown on it. And He is the Light shed on all of us...

#3-- Poetry & Grace Photography. Because we are His poetry, and His theme running throughout the myriad lines is grace.

#4-- Hope & Light Photography. Because the word HOPE came up a lot in my word cloud generation. And I am kinda addicted to hope. I run on it like fuel. And the fact that Light drives photography. And He is the light.

#5-- Whispers of Hope Photography. Because this side of heaven we must quieten ourselves to hear the whispers...

#6-- Whispers of Light Photography. Again, we can only catch the whispers now. And His beauty all around us does the whispering...

#7-- Whispered Poem Photography. In that same vein.

Your thoughts? I'd love to hear them. Help me narrow it down!

(In other news, I discovered in all my research on what names are taken and which are not, that there are NO other Leah Keltons on FB. There are MANY Leah Pearsons-- hence the middle name being employed-- but not a single Leah Kelton to be found. 'Til June 1st, that is :) :) :) I am so excited to become Mrs. Charles Kelton! Hey, maybe that should be an option: Mrs. Charles Kelton Photography :) )

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Christmas come Early (And I Need Your Help!)

So... The day has finally come.

I have a beautiful little DSLR camera of my very own :) :) :) Secondhand, of course, because my pocketbook isn't as big as my dreams. But my first "proper" camera, nonetheless. One of my current prayer themes is that the Lord would teach me how to capture His beauty in photos in such a way that I might help make a living for my family. So, this is the beginning of an exciting journey into the land of freelance photography :) I pray I don't lose heart! I can be so afraid of failure that I don't even try at some things...

But there are a few things I know and a LOT of things I have to learn.
For instance, I know I have a true bend toward Natural Light Photography.
I know I like taking photos in Aperture Priority best.
I know my general "style" of photos are light and airy, as well as robust with colour, especially if the sun is out and it's golden!
I know I want to help contribute toward the living of Charles' and my family (starting with our marriage on June 1st, 2013! Woohoo!!) in such a way that I can (mostly) stay home with our kids.
I know I HAVE to use my creativity for my soul to thrive.
And I know I have ALWAYS had a thing for capturing the beauty I see in a way I can share it with people-- whether that be in writing or taking photos. I cannot keep the fragments of His glory I see showered down amongst us to myself.

I'm toying with names for a freelance photography business starting from scratch. Want to weigh in?

Option #1:

Option #2:

Option #3:
(This one probably makes the most sense, but I'm just not that comfortable with naming it after myself!) 

I'm leaning toward Option #1, just as it seems a bit clearer than Option #2, and it doesn't involve my own name like Option #3. Anyone want to give me your opinion? Or suggest other names you think it should go by?

And, while we're at it, does anyone want to have your pictures taken to give me some practice? Get in touch! One has got to start somewhere...

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Soaking it up...

Sometimes I feel so aware of God's presence in my every moment, like even though I can't see Him outright, I can feel His breath washing over me rhythmically in my day to day.

That's not been the season I've been in lately.

I think with all the moving about and making plans and settling in and settling out again, I've just kinda been keeping up with things.

But on Saturday my Mom and I flew down to Arizona for a little mother/daughter trip to use some of her timeshare points up before the end of the year (what a chore!). And the "vacation feeling" just quiets the clamours in my soul enough to tune in and hear that breath of God again.

And it's like coming home, only to more of a home than home...

Again and again and again, it is His beauty that calls me to Him, that draws my heart up close to Him. Again and again and again, I am floored when I catch sight of His glory in whatever form-- the grandeur of the Grand Canyon Mom and I just spent a day visiting, the luxury of the condo we're blessed to stay at this week in Sedona, the laughter of the little children in my life reflecting His heart of joy, the intimacy of sharing deep talks with the woman who gave birth to me and then lovingly raised me. It all just points me to His kindness.

And then the darker seasons I've walked through, the struggles of the soul I've fought with strength nearly spent, the hurt and ache the world constantly throws at us, it instantly fades in the light of realizing afresh what it means to be loved by the King of the world.

I cannot help but be reminded again of the endless hope there is in belonging to Him. At the end of this blink of an eye existence is a whole new reality we only look toward expectantly now, glimmers of it shining through in the experiences of beauty and wonder we can glimpse here and now.

This week is a chance to revel in those glimmers of the hope of eternity, to consume His presence in all the joy and delight and beauty and hope I can catch and hold close to my heart.

And all I can do is bow that heart in awe, and soak it all up in gratitude.

Thank You, my kind and endlessly hopeful King.
May the world know that You are all that You say you are, and may they never go hungry for Your presence again.

My beautiful Mom and I soaking up the majesty of the Grand Canyon

The surreal glory of the Grand Canyon

Soaking up His glory in the sunset over the Grand Canyon

And soaking up His kindness in the luxury of the timeshare in Sedona where we're staying!

May you pause today, and stop long enough to settle your busy mind and heart, and draw up close enough to this gracious God to hear His presence breathing over you. He loves you, He loves you, He loves you. And He always will.

"Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk,
now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness."

-- 1 Peter 2:2-3

Monday, 5 November 2012

A Cruel Harvest by Fran Grubb

I wasn't quite prepared for what I would read in this memoir. It's the story of one woman's horrific childhood abuse and her reconnection with her scattered siblings as an adult. Born into a family of migrant farmers and an alcoholic, mean-spirited, physically and sexually abusive father, as Fran recounts her story I found myself disbelieving that anyone could be so utterly and completely cruel. But hand in hand with that aspect of her story, is her proof of the stunning resilience of the human soul.

It struck me so strongly when I set the book down at the end, that the only thing which kept Fran herself from becoming just as bitter and hardened and desensitized as the hard man who spent her whole life trying to make her so, was Jesus. It's not clear what sort of upbringing HE had, but hers set her up to be hard, insensitive, and abusive, in accordance with how she was treated. And indeed in her early adulthood, she did play out some of the same behaviours. But then she met Jesus. And everything changed. Undeniably.

And THAT is my favourite kind of story there is to tell. It speaks of hope. It speaks of the triumph of love over hatred and light over what seemed endless darkness. That is what Christ does. That is who He is.

And on top of all that, I just adore reading memoirs. Real stories of real people! It's good to know we're not alone...

This book is well worth a read.

* *I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, 28 October 2012


My brand new gorgeous baby niece
Terra Lynne Pearson

Born October 17th, 2012
8lbs 4oz

I got to meet her 9 days later, and couldn't help but hold her for hours, gazing at her as she snuggled in my arms. She is perfection embodied and big brother 3  1/2 year old Tucker is besotted with her :)

Thank you, Jesus, for a beautiful new baby niece to love and cherish!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Legendary Road Trip

It was 6:30am on Thursday the 18th and my friend Jo—the bride—and I had been up all night working away at getting all her wedding stationery done and everything packed to stylize the French villa they’d booked to hold their wedding in the South of France, near Nice. With a hard shove to get the utterly PACKED-as-can-be car trunk closed, we set off from Sweden. In a tired daze, I never could have anticipated the adventure I was setting off on with my two friends, the bride and groom, across this continent called Europe which God has so thoroughly captivated my heart with! Thousands of miles, another lost night of sleep, 2 additional road-trippers, and 7 countries later, I stood breath-struck at having seen just a bit more of His glory and grace than I had before this legendary road trip, and we finished it all off with a stunningly beautiful wedding to boot!

And I am more in love than ever with this beautiful God who calls us by name and takes us farther with Him than we could have ever dreamed from where we began.

Country #1: Sweden
I said goodbye to Sweden from a cozy backseat of a car where I promptly fell asleep. When Jo and Jonas stopped the car at a petrol station 10 minutes away from home, I woke and asked, “How far have we got?” Haha. We were totally lost in time on this sleep-deprived adventure.

I awoke again to whisper goodbyes to this country I have called somewhat of a home for the last 3 years-- a country which I will return to visit, but don’t plan to return to live in now—just as we were crossing the massive 3 mile bridge over the North Sea from Sweden to Denmark. My heart was ready for the goodbye. It has been a long time in coming. But the friends I have made in these 3 years of tremendous growth in my life will be with me forever, wherever I wander…

Country #2: Denmark
In Denmark, we drove onto a huge ferry—like a floating parking garage, really, with a shopping mall up above the cars. We wandered through the duty-free shopping while on international waters, and stood in an alcove looking out over the sea and chatting amongst ourselves. These dear friends and I have grown very close over the last few years and God still seems to be honing and shaping our relationship. We can laugh and laugh, and we can cry, and despite being so utterly separated by our values—I’m a bought and paid-for lover of Christ, and they are Atheist/Agnostic only hearing Him wooing them ever so subtly. But the friendship runs deep, and I wait with bated breath to see them come to know Him and His relentless love of them…

Country #3: Germany
Once the ferry landed in Germany, Jonas, exhausted from our crazy night before packing and creating stationery, collapsed in the back seat of the car which left me as the sole driver. Jo is a brilliant driver, but hasn’t taken her test yet to be able to drive by herself and outside of Sweden. I am a very experienced driver having been at it since I was 15, but I RARELY drive a stick-shift and trying to makes me so anxious!  Nor do I often drive while abroad, or in a car so packed to overflowing that the rearview mirror was completely out of commission. But with Jonas asleep in the backseat, Jo and I worked out a great system and named ourselves “Team Awesome”, as I drove and worked the clutch, and she did all the shifting gears :) As well as keeping me abreast with the varying driving rules from country to country.

We spent HOURS driving down the length of Germany.  Our first stop was Bremen, to pick up Jo’s little sister—my sweet friend Millie—and Jo’s friend Norman. Millie had taken a train from Holland, where she works as an artist and sculpture model, to meet us there. Already at this point, there was not a spare inch to take any more luggage in that car, but somehow we managed to not only add 2 more people, but 3 more bags! The people in the back sat cross-legged and on top of each other, all the leg space taken up by the bags, but we made it that way almost all the way to Frankfurt (where we met up with some friends and shared a bit of the luggage!)—even through 2 hours of traffic jam which had us literally at a standstill, pacing along the road in frustration on a dark German night.

It kinda seemed like the start of a joke: “So, a Swede, a German, an American, and 2 confused Europeans (they grew up all over Europe) were in a car…” :)

I drove the night shift through Germany—my first experience of the legendary Autobahn! With Jonas and I the only licensed drivers in the car, we traded off every few hours. Even with unrestricted speed limits, Germany seemed a very very expansive, never-ending country that night, and though I spent hours in it, I hardly feel like I saw any of it as it was mostly after dark. But the morning brought quite a sight to behold…

Country #4: Switzerland
In the wee hours of the morning, Jonas handed the wheel back over to me, and I climbed in behind the wheel as everyone in the car tried to sleep. As the sun came up, I found myself surrounded by the famed Swiss Alps, the tops glistening with snow and rounded by time. I would say the experience was unreal, but that’s what I feel about the whole entire trip. In the quiet car, as the sun gradually lit the day, I literally whispered my praises to the Maker of this inexplicable beauty and prayed for more of His grace to help me drive the unfamiliar roads safely. I drove through the 2nd longest tunnel in Europe, 11 miles under a mountain, and found myself actually having to remind myself to breathe through the feeling of claustrophobia. We passed stunning ancient Alpine churches on top of clefts in the mountains, and tiny alpine villages tucked up amongst the cliffs. And before I knew it, we were crossing into Italian Switzerland, and then….

Country #5: Italy
Suddenly, we were in Italy, and the border guards were dressed in their funny Italian uniforms and instantly the traffic changed and the other motorists were laying on their horns and motorbikes appeared everywhere and it was all rather chaotic and strange. I was euphoric, even if nervous to be behind the wheel (Jonas soon took over!). We stopped at a gas station for my first ever Italian coffee, which Jo ordered in her perfect Italian, having grown up part-time here and being half Sicilian.

We drove along the Italian Riviera toward France, and stopped for an hour in a coastal town called Arenzano so I could have my first visit to the Mediterranean Sea. Though I’d hardly slept and looked like death warmed over, I floated along on a happy cloud :) I have always always always wanted to visit Italy and though this was hardly a visit, I WAS in Italy. Millie and I waded in to the sea just to feel it on our skin. We wandered through a colourful street market and Norman bought me a pair of Italian sunglasses because I hadn’t any Euro of my own. I practiced my “Frankie&Benny’s” Italian (Amanda, you’ll know what I’m talking about :)) and then all too soon, we were piling back into the car…

Country #6: Monaco
Driving along the Riviera from Italy to France, you can’t help but run into Monaco. By this time, it was my turn behind the wheel again and Jo was awake to be Team Awesome with me :) We took in the sites of her beloved Italian Riviera together, the brightly-coloured terracotta villages built up in the mountains overlooking the Meditteranean, and the ridiculously fast cars showing off their fancy Italian builds. The sun was shining almost too brightly as we passed through Monaco and looked down at Monte Carlo stretched out on the coast below. But it’s a very small country and in no time at all, we were passing into…

Country #7: France
…The south of France! When I signed up for this driving in Europe business, I was under the impression that it would only be on the freeway, so no problem. I could never have expected the numerous roundabouts and snaking mountain village roads of Cote d’Azur! Jo is a brilliant instructor, but I still left that car shaking like a leaf when I was able to pull aside and let Jonas take over once again! The hills were dotted by those tall, coniferous trees that you expect to find in that area of the world, and lavender grew at will amongst the shrubbery of the hillsides. We could eat grapes right off the vines along the street…

We found our hotel in a quiet Provencal village just outside of Grasse, and I sang out Belle’s “Bonjour!” song from Beauty and the Beast as we unpacked the car. French blue shutters on every stucco building, and grapevines growing across the railings— the beauty was UNREAL!

And so was the exhaustion! But it wasn’t time to rest yet…

The Legendary Wedding
The next day we moved into the private villa my friends had rented for their perfect French country wedding. Charles arrived!! But I was so busy running around preparing for the wedding—not only was I the maid of honour, but I was working as the bride’s personal assistant! Ha. So there was a lot to do. But we pulled it all off. It was the most visually beautiful wedding I’ve ever been a part of (and this was my 8th time being bridesmaid :)). Jo and Jonas’ ceremony took place in the front yard of the villa, overlooking a valley in the pre-Alps. The world renown Three Nails Photography was flown in for the event, as well as 40 of Jo and Jonas’ closest friends. After the picture perfect ceremony, where the bride and I sang a duet, we all sat down together on the veranda for a traditional Provencal wedding feast, followed by a gorgeous Baileys-flavoured wedding cake that Millie made herself!

Taken by Three Nails Photography --

 Charles and I had 2 more glorious days in France. We all stayed together at the gorgeous villa dining and enjoying everyone’s company late into the night (though, that sounds more romantic than it was since Charles and I, being not quite married, were sleeping on cots in the corridor—therefore, couldn’t sleep ‘til all the drunk Swedes had finally made their way to their rooms!). Packing a villa with all Jo and Jonas’ friends was such a grand idea. We had a blast hanging out with these people from all over the world whom we didn’t know before, but became friends with by the end! Charles and I walked up into the nearby village one afternoon, taking in the sights and smells of the South of France, and another we spent laying by the villa’s private pool with all the other guests, amazed by the sun and the temps. Amazed by the whole experience, really. We kept pinching ourselves. It was absolutely a dream. 

Now I sit at another airport. Within the span of one week I will have been in 9 countries. One night in France, Jonas, a bit drunk, had sat and talked with me about his beliefs, telling me why he doesn’t believe in God and questioning why I do. Now as I look back at the magical experience of road-tripping across Europe and the few days in France, all I can do is praise this God He cannot see and Whom I can’t help but see. It is experiences like that one that He sends me on that make it all worthwhile—all the hard steps on this journey to Him. All the things that feel like sacrifice (though, what IS sacrifice in light of what He’s done for me?), all the efforts that feel wasted, the prayers that feel unheard, the pouring myself out for people which feels never to do anything, all the aches that never seem to get satisfied and which I cannot, try as I might, explain. It’s moments like those days that make it all make sense again. You don’t have to understand why, Leah. You just have to trust Me and come when I call. And sometimes splendour like a random fairytale in the South of France follows. Or an adventure amongst the red dust of Africa. Or a handsome Brit asking for my hand in marriage. Again and again and again He takes what little I have to give and He rolls it out into more than I could have ever imagined. And again and again and again, I fall in love with Him (and His Europe!)…

Please pray with me for Jo and Jonas. Pray that they will “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). 

And thank Him for His beautiful world, whatever part of it you’re experiencing. Even in the brokenness, He’s left bits of His glory for us to bask in. How good is our God?!

Friday, 12 October 2012

For Someone

Because somebody out there needs to hear this today...
You will not regret listening to these 6 segments of teaching. You will NOT regret it.

Part 1/6

Part 2/6

Part 3/6

Part 4/6

Part 5/6

Part 6/6

Oh Lord, that we will love You even the tiniest portion as lavishly as You do us!
And that we would dwell on Your Word and let it transform our minds and change us...
In Jesus precious name,

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Hope when You're Side-swiped

We just got back to London from a visit to my friends in North Wales. Charles passed their tests to prove his suitability for me with flying colours :) And we had a lovely time in the quiet mountains with the friendly Welsh-- meeting my friend's baby, climbing massive hills, and visiting stunning castles...

But do you know those days when you just feel side-swiped by all the painful things? I suppose the last few weeks I've just been floating on the high of our engagement, celebrating being in love and loved by this beautiful man with his beautiful heart, and looking forward in hope to our future together. The moments have been so sweet. We've cuddled up most every day to do a bible study on Jesus' life together and just reveled in the Word together, we've seen such beauty of His bit of world called Wales together, and just cherished laughter with friends. It's all been so sweet...

But the past 2 days have brought with them 2 bouts of news from 2 countries where I have lived and loved that I just don't want to have to hear. You know that feeling? The kind of knowledge of suffering of loved ones that brings you to your knees begging God to fix it for them, while knowing that this kind of evil and suffering isn't just "quick fixable"-- that's not how He does it.

God, why do the innocent have to suffer this way? God, how does my heart embrace grace for the ones who do such evil against the vulnerable-- against children!? And God, how can someone see another person absolutely ACHING and not want to do whatever they can to comfort them, not callously add to the ache? And how can I comfort and hold someone who is so brokenhearted without being overwhelmed by the depth of their pain myself? It all just hurts. The whole world just HURTS!

Pondering questions like these last night with a dear friend who has known evil and ache herself, she said something like, "No wonder Paul encouraged the church to 'dwell on lovely things' (Philippians 4:8). Otherwise, how do you cope in this world?"

And that is the glimmer of light God has given me to hold on to as I fight in prayer for these people in my life who are so hurting right now. God knew what this world would become with the entrance of sin into it. And He did not leave us hopeless. We have Jesus who will ultimately make all things new, clear this world of all the heartache and evil and suffering and sin. And we can hold to that hope in the midst of the darkness by clinging to glimmers of hope along the way. This is not the final page of this story. The enemy does not win this, no matter how it looks on the days we're side-swiped by all the suffering. 

Thank You, Lord, for hope! Help me to practice dwelling on it when the enemy wants me to only see all the discouragement... And help me to bring it with me to every aching heart I meet. You are hope, You are hope, You are endless hope. We can be free of this suffering someday if we put our hope in You. Thank you, Oh Endless Hope.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable--
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--
think about such things.”
-- Philippians 4:8

 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
-- Philippians 4:7

 [p.s. I stumbled upon this today-- kinda timely :) Have a go at printing one and making a list of all things lovely!]

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Our 1st Engagement Shoot: An Ancient Cotswold Church

My adorable friend Lizzie Smith, who helped orchestrate the whole surprise engagement, took our first set of engagement photos the day after he proposed! She just happens to live in the most beautiful part of England, The Cotswolds, and right next door to a stunning 15th century parish church where I've attended many a Sunday morning service. It was a PERFECT shoot to represent my side of this relationship-- my "English hometown" where we got engaged is in Gloucestershire, where we took these photos. (And later in the week we did a London shoot which is where my man is from, but we're still waiting to see those photos...)

I've posted a few of my favourites here, with a link to the full album below. My darling friend is so talented! And the Cotswold churchyard and ancient church is just the fairytale-esque backdrop our romance demands :)

I love this man so.

 “My goal is that they will be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love.”

– Colossians 2:2

 [See the entire album of our first set of engagement photos here:
Cotswold Engagement Shoot]
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