We have this friend. He’s very Irish. So Irish, in fact, that if the temperature warms up above seventy degrees (with a breeze), he claims that he’s melting.
Even though we do not live in Ireland, Amy can still relate. With how much she uses, we should own stock in sunscreen companies. She has such little pigment, in fact, that when Jordan’s Greek skin tans (bronzes if you ask him) in the summer, our friends joke that we’re basically an interracial couple.
Anyway, back to our friend, the Irishman.
He has the best Irish accent. (And for some reason, when you’re an American, people with U.K. accents just. sound. smarter. and. sweeter. Almost no matter what they’re saying. It’s like glasses for the voice. And little children with British accents are like God’s gift to the ears. Every time we watch The Holiday, we seriously consider faking accents when our future kids are born just to see if we can have kids who call us Mummy and Daddy and ask to use the loo. SO CUTE.)
Okay, back to our friend (again). Squirrel!
He doesn’t just sound smart. He is smart. He’s also a pastor. And, one time, we had the pleasure of listening to one of his sermons where he said something we’ll never forget.
What if you got today only what you thanked God for yesterday?
It’s a convicting question that makes us pause.
Even though Amy’s prayer list is so long she almost can’t get through it every day (but faithfully does), Jordan (if our friend is right) would probably only get every other meal. Haha! He’s admittedly not the prayer warrior he should be. But, as he jokes with Amy all the time, “If two become one in marriage, then your prayers are actually mine, too, right?”
1. Amy never likes that answer.
2. Jordan’s kiddddding. He doesn’t actually believe that. He just wishes it was true.
But, truly, one of our favorite traditions is this one. Every year since 2013, we’ve written a blog post to look back at the most massive milestones and biggest blessings of the previous twelve months. Taking a little time to stop and reflect on the things we’re thankful for is good for our souls.
We do these posts to thank God (for sure) just like our friend suggested. We also do them because, as recovering perfectionists, sometimes we forget how far we’ve come until we slow down long enough to remember where we started. Maybe you can relate to that, too. Whether you’re running a business, growing a baby, raising children — or doing all of those things at the same time (in which case GOD BLESS YOU AND GOOD LUCK) — you know the feeling of not even realizing the significance of what you’ve done or accomplished, because you’re so close to it that you can’t even see it. We hope this post encourages you to take a step back this Christmas season, too, take a deep breath, thank God for what He’s done in your life this year, and give yourself some credit for your part in that, too!
So, without further ado (kind of in order), here are our top seven highlights of 2017.
1. Finding Out that We’re Going to Be Parents
This was the most exciting news that we’ve ever gotten to share. As we’re navigating the new third trimester this month, Jordan still can’t stop smiling that we’re having a boy; and Amy, no matter how swollen or unattractive she feels, can’t stop smiling either, because in her words, “It’s impossible to feel insecure or self-conscious when you’re married to Jordan.”
He. Loves. Pregnant. Amy.
On a more serious and sentimental note, among the many things this baby has already done (and you can read about them here) expecting our first son has multiplied our love for each other, deepened our devotion to each other, and opened places in our heart that our heads knew existed, but now that our souls can feel them, we never want to close those doors again.
We can’t wait to meet our little boy in a few more months!
Until then, our plan is to get the nursery as ready as we can, keep taking our morning walks and suck our parent friends dry of all the baby wisdom they have!
In related news, our Instagram “best nine” of 2017 looks SLIGHTLY different than last year!! Does anyone else sense a theme?
We’ll take it! Thank you to each and every one of you who has celebrated with us this year!!
2. Moving Into Our First (and Forever!) House
This might sound silly, but saying goodbye to our condo was one of the (surprisingly) most emotional things we’ve done in our marriage; because, for as excited as we were to get out of 1,000 square feet and have a little more room, that condo was our safe nest for over 2,500 days of our marriage. It’s where we grew up together. It’s where we had so many of our firsts together. To be honest, the first few weeks in our new house, Jordan wanted to re-sell it and move back! That’s how much we missed it. Which just goes to show you that square footage doesn’t make a home. The people you love do.
Now that we’ve settled in our new home, though, we couldn’t be more thankful. One of our biggest prayers for our home was it would be a place where people would feel comfortable and welcome, a place we could constantly share with others, and there’s been nothing we’ve loved more than hosting others, sharing meals and creating new memories together.
3. Releasing Two Brand New Courses (Posing and Business)
No dream we’ve ever reached in our photography business has been as fulfilling as helping other photographers reach theirs. After we released the Shooting and Editing Course this time last year, and saw the real difference it made in real people’s lives, we wanted to do more. So, in the spring, we opened enrollment in our Posing Course and, a few months ago, we welcomed students to the Business Course.
To our online students, thank you. You tell us that we changed your life, but we know that YOU are the ones that actually changed your life. You are the ones who took what we taught and you did. the. work. YOU are the real heroes of your stories. And we want you to know three things: First, that we’re so proud of you. Second, we feel so humbled and honored that you trusted us to be your guides. Third, we can’t wait to see what next year brings. Keep it up, AJ Tribe! We love you!
4. Shooting a Surprise Proposal in Paris
We felt sooo sneaky jetting across the Atlantic under cover and hiding out in Paris for a few days (while posting like we were in the U.S. so Meghan wouldn’t suspect a thing) for this once-in-a-lifetime moment. No pressure, Amy and Jordan! Haha.
Here’s a full, play-by-play recap of how it all went down, and one of our favorite engagement sessions of all time. We’re so excited to photograph Joe and Megan’s hometown Wisconsin wedding next year!
5. Visiting Real-Life Storybook Towns in France and Germany
Growing up, one of Amy’s favorite movies was Beauty and the Beast, so after Meghan and Joe’s proposal in Paris, we rented a car and drove through the French countryside to Germany to visit two of the most sweetest, quaintest towns in the world. Including the one that Disney actually used as inspiration when making the original Beauty and the Beast. You better believe that Amy sat on Belle’s fountain… and we sang the movie’s opening song while walking the streets. If you click here and scroll to the bottom, there might even still be a video of it. Be forewarned: we’ve never claimed to be singers, and never will, so we can’t be held liable for anyone’s medical bills or counseling costs as a result of listening to us. Because there are some things in life that you just can’t UN-hear. Regardless it was a bucket list visit we’ll never forget!
6. Our First Time (EVER!) in the Snow
We live in a desert, so the snow doesn’t come to us. We have to go to the snow. And, in four years of dating and seven years of marriage, we never had. So, when some of our good friends invited us to spend a weekend away with them in a cozy cabin, we were all in. Not to be confused with getting SNOWed in. Because we didn’t. We just got snowedOUT. Don’t let these cute, happy, carefree, effortless-looking pictures fool you. This post (and the video in it) tells the real story. Spoiler alert: we live in the desert, because we were naaauuught built for the snow.
6B. Getting the ENTIRE Demos Family Together for a San Diego Vacation
Okay, we know adding a “6B” is technically cheating our “7 highlights” list, but we couldn’t mention the snow without also mentioning a really special trip to a (much!) warmer place where we felt infinitely more comfortable! San Diego!
This summer, we celebrated Jordan’s parents 35th wedding anniversary, and we got the whole Big Fat Greek Family together IN ONE HOUSE for a week long beach vacation. Not only that, we got everyone in ONE FAMILY PHOTO, which is a huge accomplishment. This trip was actually when we discovered we were pregnant, so it’s extra special to look at this shot and know our first son is in technically in this photo too!
It’s hard to believe that in 2018, there will be THREE MORE SMILING GRANDKIDS in this photo! We’re so thankful for this ever-growing family!
7. Being Covered in Prayer at a Surprise Baby Shower
If we died tomorrow and could only share one image to represent our life, this would probably be at the top of the list. You can read a full blog post about our surprise baby shower here, but the most important part of it to us is what’s happening in this picture. Here’s what we wrote about it a few weeks ago. It can sometimes be hard to put into words what we feel so deeply, but here’s why this moment was the ultimate highlight of 2017…
“But this moment in the one that meant the most to us. Even Jordan didn’t know it was planned. At the end of the party, our friends asked if they could pray for us. We wept as they laid their hands on us and, one-by-one, prayed out loud for God to make us strong when we’re weak; to protect our marriage and our new little life; to give Amy what she needs to love our baby; to give Jordan what he needs to lead our family; to fill our gaps with grace and give us wisdom to raise as little man who will grow up make a big difference in the world.
As we sat there, heads down, eyes closed, tears in our eyes, we felt so undeserving of our friends’ depth of love for us. The realness of it. The sincerity of it. The selflessness and sacrifice of it.
We didn’t know anyone was taking pictures. We thought it was a private moment that would only exists in our memories. But we’re so glad someone picked up the camera and did. Because we want to remember this moment forever.
God loves people through people. And, in this moment, we never felt so close to Him.
People ask us all the time, Where does it come from? The joyfulness. The happiness. Is it actually real?
And it comes from this.
Because before we had anything, we had Him, and we had people… like them.
And if all the material things got taken away tomorrow. Our house. Our car. Our business. Our 401(k).
We’d still have both. Our relationship with the Lord and our relationships with others. And because of that, we’d still have everything.”
Take a look back in time here: