Dear ones, we were so so overwhelmed by the response to this contest! It was incredible to see the family and friends of these three beloved couples coming out from all over the place to vote and support their loved ones. Thank you all for your participation, for playing fair, and for showing so much love for these couples. Let us say that we would give a spot to all three couples if we had the space. We loved these stories and have a special place in our hearts for Kellen and Ashley, Steven and Lucy, and Addison and Rebekah. Sadly, only one couple can win this time around and join us as the couple we get to know and photograph at the next Don’t Give Up project at the end of next month!
And without further delay, the winner is. . . .
Congratulations, Steven and Lucy!!!! Let us just say that we are so excited to get to know you two better, to hear more of your stories, and to get to play a small part in the continuation of those stories. We are so happy for you, and can’t wait to meet you!!
In case you weren’t in on the voting or wanted to read about the three incredible couples who came our way for this contest, we are leaving their info here below, because they just were incredible. but, voting is now over and the couple for the July, 2014 workshop is chosen!
Thank you to everyone who voted and showed such support and love for these dear couples, and to the brave couples who put themselves and their beautifully honest stories out there for us all to see. we appreciate and honor you today, also!
with love, the parsons
these two were submitted to us several times as candidates for our contest, and the more we heard about who they are, the more we fell in love with their spirit and their story, via their loved ones. Here is just a little of what one of their dear friends shared with us and now with you:
With a history of photography and story telling growing for them individually, Kellen and Ashley began their journey together chasing butterflies out of the cemeteries of loss. They moved to the heart of allergy America, farm country California, to be with her mom during her final days. They watched small town life crumble when its rock, Ashley’s mother, started to frail herself. They watched her mother’s community dissipate. Her mom was a giver, and she had given so much to this place. So they ran. They knew that something simple must keep the wheels spinning. They chased the wind as they knew how. They looked for a space in which their gifts would fit. They bought equipment. They started blogging. They moved towards their friends in Portland. They chased storytelling and photography as steadfastly as they were capable of. It is clear to me that in all their searches, they have been acting as the puppy chasing the butterfly. They crave to share the simpleton beauty in the lightness of the world, to offer communities images of true light, but there are so many other wonderful things to look at. These two need the DGU, as they are in it for all the right reasons, and they need the space and the breathe to write and reflect and focus.
Here is an excerpt from their website:
“In 2011, my (Ashley’s) mom passed away from cancer. In her last year of life, we moved in with her to take care of her. We learned—really quickly—what was important to us, what really mattered and. . .what didn’t.
She was outrageously creative; she owned her own business too and people always told her she didn’t charge enough, that she did too much free work. She told me it was her way of giving back.
At her celebration of life, one after the other, people came up and told me how she had changed their lives by working in their houses, giving them free labor, and doing what she did best—listening. I walked away so proud that my mother had made a difference and at the end of her life had left a legacy of loving her neighbor.
Fast forward a few weeks and I was in India. She had always wanted to go. So, I took some of her ashes to India and spread them over the rice fields. Now, she’ll be there forever.
While I was there, I took some photos for a non-profit and was exposed to people who were in need of the simple basics in life. Especially widows. Downcast in that society, they needed someone to look them in the eyes and tell them they were worth something.
That trip changed me. I wanted to be part of changing their future.”
This is why they should come. They are in the business of sharing. DGU is a gift. It is a gift that I would love to see them receive.
our second couple sent such a powerful, personal and honest account of their story, but in essence of time we have had to cut it down a bit. still, these are their own words and some of their own story.
“Steven and I met in college, in architecture club to be exact. The minute I saw him, i told my best friend “I’m gonna marry that hottie!” we started dating shortly thereafter.
Fast forward about a year and i found out we were pregnant; Totally unplanned and unexpected. About 8 weeks into the whole insane pregnancy journey we split up. To date, that was probably one of the hardest times of our life. Emotionally we felt broken, we were scared and had no idea what we were going to do. we didn’t remotely feel adequate to be parents, I mean we were poor college students!
two weeks after we graduated college, our sweet little girl Lilly was born. Life with Lilly was never dull and I enjoyed every moment being a mom and Steven enjoyed being a dad, even if it meant we did that separately. throughout her entire first year of life, he begged for me back, he did everything he could to prove to me that we should be together, not just for lilly but for us. i decided to give it a go and we started dating again right before LIlly turned one. About a month after we got back together, he asked me to marry him. With tears in my eyes and lilly on my hip, my answer was yes. I was ready to be with steven for the rest of my life.
We got married December 2, 2006.. We both had great jobs at different design firms in town and we were happy newlyweds who had a beautiful 18mo old daughter.
April 1, we found out we were expecting again! November 30, Ellie was born. While giving birth to Ellie i suffered an amniotic embolism. At the time I didn’t even know what that was nor had I ever even heard of it. apparently it is a very rare thing and it happens when some of the amniotic fluid leaks into your blood stream. It is deadly, you don’t live when this happens, period. I remember Steven standing beside me holding Ellie and the midwife finishing the whole birth process up and Steven looked at me and asked if i wanted to hold Ellie. I said “no, I feel like I am going to pass out.” I was gone seconds later. They shoved steven out of the way with Ellie cradled in his arms, called a code blue and a team came rushing in with the crash carts. When they brought me back to I couldn’t see anything, I lost my vision for well over 36 hours and they placed me in cardiac ICU for recovery. It was the scariest moment I had experienced. I remember asking for my husband and my mom and repeating to them, “ I can’t die, i just had a baby and what about Lilly.” I was terrified, I didn’t know what was happening and they didn’t know if I would make it through that crazy ordeal. The good news is, I did make it :) The bad news, that had to be the end of us having more children.
fast forward several years. I had started making clothing for my kids. Diaper bags, burp cloths, hair bows…you name it. I am a crafty gal and since no firms were hiring it was a great way for me to bring in some extra money. The business was doing great and I sold my clothes to lots of little boutiques. When selling, they needed pictures of the product. Well, thats when I picked up a camera and started taking pictures of my kids in the clothing I had created. From there other people wanted me to take pictures of their kids. About a year later I got a call from a girl I went to church with. Her photographer backed out of shooting her wedding a couple months before it was to take place. She asked if I could shoot it and I said “I will try.” I charged her $500 and shot her wedding. I threw up 3 times while I was there because I gave myself a migraine from the nerves and anxiety of shooting a wedding. It went great, I loved it and while I thought children’s photography was my niche I soon realized that weddings were something I loved even more!
We decided to take a HUGE leap of faith and have steven quit his job at the firm he worked at for the past 10 years. We decided we needed to spend more time together as a couple and a family and have common goals together, so we rebranded my photography business and became a full time husband and wife team. It actually ended up being the best thing we could have possibly done. It has helped our marriage and family in such tremendous ways. having the flexibility to go to school and have lunch with our kids or go for a bike ride together during the middle of the day when your eyes feel tired from editing.
I am so grateful that time after time and the tribulations we have had, we never gave up. We wanted to, trust me we did but the fact of the matter is we didn’t and because we didn’t, God has blessed us with so much more in our marriage than we could have even ever imagined! ”
“Genuine love is what you feel when you meet this couple. They are one of the youngest married couples I know but they live out thier marriage like they are old souls that have been through it all. A little background: Rebekah “Becca” and Addison have been together since they were 14 and 15. You can tell by the way they care for each other and the looks they exchange that God really knew what he was doing when he paired these two up. They are fun loving and easy going. They are always smiling and both extremely talented when it comes to photography and music. They haven’t had the easiest ride though and I think thats what makes their love so strong. Becca suffers from terrible migraines. She woke up with one when she was pretty young and it never went away. This lead to homeschooling and never being able to sit in a class room long enough to go to college. She found an interest and outlet in photography and made her passion into a career. A few years later Addison joined her in the business to help with all of the logistics of owning a company. He also has quite the talent with a camera and a way with clients that makes them he’s best friends. A lot of Becca’s days are spent in bed trying to get some sort of peace. Addison has been by her side through all of the doctors visits and the rough days. You would never know this when being around Becca or Addison. They have a genuine love for others that shines through the heartache and pain that they are going through that day. Here is a quote from Becca. “I was homeschooled and wasn’t able to attend college because of how out-of-control my condition became. My sweet husband, Addison, actually homeschooled with me…he took one of my college reading level (super heavy stuff!) classes so that he could read to me. God was so good to send that boy into my life when we were just 14 and 15. As cheesy as it sounds, he is seriously my angel. He’s held my hand through 3.5 hrs of MRI’s, days I had to go to the ER, hundreds of days where I couldn’t come out of a dark room, he makes all of the meals in our house, helps me calm down when I’m crying in a panic because of the pain, keeps our business from falling apart…I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am for him. God knew I needed someone as patient, empathetic, selfless, and strong as Addison is.” He’s a godly man for sure. They are truly a unique couple and example of Gods love and they share it with everyone they meet. I think the DGU project would be great for them to experience. The time with others that share the same passion and are also learning life from each other in the same world of sharing peoples stories I believe would do wonders for their hearts. With all that going on they have a hard time finding time to travel together, they put their work and each others health first so money for traveling is slim as well. These two would oh so grateful for the opportunity and I can tell you, you would not regret getting to know these lovely souls.”
To vote for your favorite couple, simply leave a comment in the space provided below with the couple’s “number”.
example: Couple #1, or couple #2, or couple #3
One vote per person! please be fair to our couples and do not double up on votes!
using the numbers will help us when it comes time to tally the votes.
Remember, spread the word! Tell the interwebs all about your favorite couple and how much they deserve to be there!
We will accept votes through the weekend and then share the winner on Monday, June 23, 2014!
Let us stress here: every single story that was submitted to us was precious and important. If overhead costs were no issue and space was unlimited, we would gladly invite each an every one to the workshop to share and grow and experience with us. So please know, no matter who gets the spot this time, we are more than honored to have heard these stories and we will hold them dear and close in our hearts and look forward to and hope for the day we will see all of your faces in person!
with so much love!!!