Looking Back: 10 beautiful years

Have you ever had a moment when time stood still, and you knew exactly what you were supposed to do with your life? A moment when confusion and chaos were replaced with clarity? Have you ever experienced an overwhelming urgency to pursue a dream accompanied with that feeling like you might just burst if you don’t at least try? Has your soul ever been filled with that sweet peace that passes understanding, as you choose to push aside your fear of failure? Have you been in that place where you stopped asking ‘what if?’ and you started figuring out ‘how-to?’

That moment in time came for me at Ashley and Gabe’s wedding, 10 years ago today.

This was the day I knew what I had to do or I would live a life filled with regret.

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At the time of Ashley and Gabe’s wedding, I was recently graduated from college and working as an intern for a local ministry. I was considering going to seminary school to become a pastor, but doors were not opening for me. Job opportunities were falling through, I couldn’t afford more schooling, and I just didn’t know what to do with my life. I remember waking up scared almost every morning as I wondered what was going to become of me. The fear of becoming nothing paralyzed me, and I just felt stuck.

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I had dabbled in weddings since I was a kid… my mother made wedding cakes and taught me her craft when I was 13… I started playing piano at weddings when I was 14… I taught myself to sew and made a wedding dress for my sister when I was 15. I helped friends all throughout college by making their dresses and wedding cakes, but starting a “real” business felt out of reach, impractical, foolish and doomed for failure.

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I had become involved with Ashley and Gabe’s wedding when Lynne (Ashley’s mother) called me and asked me about a wedding gown for Ashley. I had never made a dress for someone other than a friend, and I was so scared I was going to fail.  Nevertheless, I faked enough confidence to convince them I was the man for the job and we set out to design the perfect dress for Ashley.

Somewhere in the process of determining silhouette, neckline, fabric selection and dress fittings, they invited me into the process of planning the wedding, and I got to shadow Lynne and Ashley as they worked through every detail. I remember feeling like I was out of my league. I felt like a fraud, and I was constantly afraid they would find out I was just a poor kid who had never experienced the kind of wedding they were planning. I had never been in a home as beautiful as theirs. I had never worked with such expensive fabrics. I didn’t know all of the possibilities or just how amazing a wedding could be. I felt like I was watching the kind of thing that I had only seen in the movies. Everything felt so foreign to me.

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But I loved it. Every moment. I listened attentively to every word that was spoken, and gleaned every ounce of information that I could. I watched as the beauty around me unfolded and developed. I quickly learned that a wedding celebration can be a work of art that tells a story and reflects the character of the bride and groom. Other than my own wedding, I have never approached another wedding with as much excitement, anticipation and a bit of fear as I did for Ashley and Gabe. I knew it would be special but I don’t think I knew it would be life changing.

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I remember seeing Steve Martin’s ‘Father of the Bride’ when I was only 12 years old. Truth be told, I knew in that moment as a 12 year old that I wanted to be a wedding planner. It just always seemed like an unattainable (and let’s be honest… kind of weird) career move, and so I never gave it real considerable thought. Yet, as I watched Ashley walk down the aisle in the gown (ok… I might refer to it in my mind as a masterpiece) that I sewed for her… and when I saw the flower arrangements I had spent all night creating (and re-creating over and over as they kept falling apart on me), I knew exactly what I had to do with my life. I knew what I was created for. I saw that everything in my life was pointing me towards one direction. I was certain of what I had to do. I closed my eyes that night with my heart filled with an inexpressible joy knowing my life was going to change.

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It didn’t happen over night. I didn’t go and quit my job immediately. I had many doubts return to me (the very next morning actually). It hasn’t been easy. I haven’t floated through life. Nothing was handed to me freely. But, it has been good. It has been rewarding. It has led me down a path of fulfillment I never knew existed. It has introduced me to people I would otherwise have never met.

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10 years. 10 amazing years. Gabe is a talented photographer and has developed a successful business with his brother.  Ashley is famous… seriously. Her award winning blog has landed her attention from Martha Stewart, People Magazine, San Pallegrino and her book ‘Dating My Husband’ has been sent to the editor and will hit the stands in 2015. Together, they are happily married and have 3 of the most beautiful children I’ve ever seen. Lynne and her husband, Gerald, are still sources of inspiration to me and very influential in my life; they also are the owners of the farm where my design studio is located.

And me?  I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I could, and have gone further than I had imagined. I still have dreams.  I still have un-met goals. At times, I still question what am I doing. I often still feel stuck, wondering daily if I will ever get to where I want to be. But that is what gets me up in the morning, and what gets me excited for life.

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Today is Gabe and Ashley’s 10 year wedding anniversary but it is also a special day for me, and so I celebrate. I celebrate God’s faithfulness. I celebrate his mark on both Gabe and Ashley’s marriage and my own life. And, I celebrate the hope and aticipation He gives me for what is to come in the next 10 years of life.

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“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago”  Isaiah 25:1

Happy Anniversary Gabe and Ashley

A Thanksgiving Choice

There is nothing better than waking up early in the morning, and starting my day before anyone else is awake.  It’s quiet.  I’m alone. Life is still.  The world is mine.  The chaos of the day has yet to begin.  I’m free to read, think, dream, pray… and just be still with my Maker.

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But sometimes these quiet moments of reflection and prayer quickly turn to panic as my mind wanders to the hopes and dreams that have yet to materialize in my life, and all of my unmet goals.  I worry. I doubt.  I feel behind.  I compare.  My faith dissolves to fear… my peace is replaced with anxiety…  my joy turns to jealousy…  my healthy ambition changes to a competitive spirit.  I rob myself of happiness as I focus on all the things I want, instead of rejoicing for the things I have.

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It’s ungratefulness that feeds this downward spiral.

It’s ugly… I know it.

I also know it’s a choice and that the only thing I can control in this life is my attitude and the choices I make.

And so today I make a different choice.  A choice to live in thanksgiving for the abundant life we are blessed with.

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I choose to refocus my mind on the things that matter.  I will reflect on what is true, what is noble, what is right… what is pure, lovely and admirable. I will think about those things that are excellent and praise worthy.

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I choose to love others more than I love myself.  I will take my mind off of myself, and my dreams, and look to the interest of others.  I will find opportunities to give and to serve.  I will see others’ needs as greater than my own. I will rejoice when my friends succeed, and cry with them when they hurt.  I will remember that there is no greater love than to give your life for a friend.

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I choose to see God’s faithfulness and his endless provisions over the years. I have never gone hungry.  My head has always been covered with a roof.  A loving mother… a faithful wife… committed friendships… my life lacks no good thing.

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I choose faith.  I will believe in what is unseen, hope for what is to come, and trust God with all that I have.

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I choose to be filled with joy. Prayers may seem to go unanswered; dreams might not have yet come true.  But true joy comes from a thankful heart that finds contentment in the present, whether living in plenty or in want.   In both seasons, I will choose joy.

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Jamie and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.  Our hope is that somewhere in the midst of all the cooking, eating, football watching and time spent with family, that you will take a moment to reflect on the abundant life you are blessed with, and choose to live in thanksgiving.

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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;  His faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100

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photo credit: Matthew Land Studios

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