I read the following words from this beautiful book I’m reading and my mind wonders to an old friend of mine. Natalie.

My sister told me she wished I could see what she saw —  because what she saw was wonderful. She said I was lucky — that I’d been offered a shortcut to what life was all about when some people search for it their whole lives and never know. She said I had a secret — a secret to happiness and that, while people may look at me and pity me, in time I’d feel like I knew something they didn’t.  ~ Kelle Hampton (bloom) and

Natalie and her husband, Dennis, have a child named Gus. He’s beyond special. He’s a gift and a lesson and bundle of heaven all rolled into red curls and smiles so big yours just can’t compete even when his makes yours the biggest it’s ever been.

Gus was given to Natalie and Gus because God only gives the hard lessons to the best students. Dennis and Natalie are more than good students, they are just wonderful people and parents and when you are around this family, you wish you knew their secret.

They are special that way. Their hearts and minds and faith have been tested in a way I can’t imagine and, yet, they are the happiest, most genuine and rich people I now.

I had the pleasure of photographing The Martin family while I was in Kansas for Thanksgiving…and it turns out, I am the one who got the gift in doing so.

This sweet boy is Daddy’s buddy. None of his smiles were as big as when Daddy was snuggling him. It was truly special to see the love Dennis has for Gus and I was mesmerized by how the played together and how they didn’t need a single word between them to have such fun.

Gus 14 Gus 15 Gus 21 and the love between Natalie and Dennis is just as beautiful. They are so respectful of each other. She lets him toss Gus high into the air (too high for even my liking) and she settles into his safety just so. He seems to be her perfect comfort.Gus 29 Gus 37 There’s not a word in my vocabulary for the bond between Nat & Gus. I think that there doesn’t need to be, God must keep such things precious by simply not even allowing us to comprehend.

Gus 242Gus 237 this smile…i do believe it’s the closest i may ever come to magicGus 125 Gus 140This is my favorite picture from our day.

There is such Joy in this image. Such love.

I imagine that Natalie and Dennis know how Blessed they are, but should they ever need a reminder, I’m going to say this picture should do it.

Gus 162

Do you think Natalie knows how pretty she is? My dad calls her “Red” (always has)
Gus 248
SweetGus 252
Gus 267

Gus 258

I want to thank Laura Doney Benitz and Karen Nimtz Gaither for allowing us to use the loft above Flower Peddler.