My little sister is getting married exactly one month from today.

I have to admit there are a few salty tears running down my sun-burned face as I write that sentence out.

Allie is a handful of years younger than me, but I look up to her in so many ways. She is one of the most loving, selfless, beautiful, passionate, life-filled individuals I know, and I get to share this life with her as ‘sister.’

A relationship I don’t take lightly.

Allie’s spirited self is about to be linked with Alex…a man who is so deserving of her affection, soul, and life. (And that bar was raised pretty high in this big sister’s mind) Alex’s kindness exudes from everything he does…. he is a gentleman to every lady around him… he doesn’t ever let a thought escape his mouth without fully thinking it through, which makes him a pensive conversationalist. This thoughtful approach to everything he does, made his “Will you marry me?” that much more meaningful. That much more sincere, and evidence of the beginning of a commitment that will truly last a lifetime.

I had the privilege of photographing Allie and Alex in celebration of their engagement, and I couldn’t be more honored…. 

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It was so refreshing to spend those few hours with them, as we rarely get time where it’s just the three of us, and never am I a ‘fly on the wall’ as much as when I have a camera around my neck. (I think that’s part of the reason I love photography so much) Photographing them during our photo session, and watching the overall process of them taking this next life-altering step, has made me hypersensitive and curious about the components of what makes up this crazy little thing called love.

The kind of love that builds up with time, not the kind that is forgotten in a matter of seconds, weeks, or months. The kind of love that keeps an attentive eye on the other. The kind of love that shares vision, dreams, adventure, toothpaste, road trips, secrets, flaws, fears, and foot massages. The kind of love that gets down on one knee and humbly asks for the rest of a life. The rest of my sisters life.

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My dear friend Danette posted a quote to her facebook page today that sums up a component of love that makes it all so much more than dinners out, hands intertwined, and sweet complimentary whispers. It’s the kind that is so big you can’t contain it or explain it, for it exceeds ourselves. It’s the component of vision….

“When two people establish vision in their relationship, they share the knowledge of one another’s identity and calling, as well as their joint vision. They remind one another of these things on a regular basis. And when seasons of difficulty, pain, or loss come up, vision strengthens a relational connection and protects it from being thrown into survival mode. Vision keeps a connection alive.”  (author unknown)

Shared vision and a mutual understanding of the core and calling of a person is possible. I know it’s possible, because it’s a huge part of how I’ve experienced sisterhood with Allie. Yes, we’ve shared bedrooms, parents, dancing, cameras, time, and songs. (Did I mention songs?? 🙂 Always songs. (Most consistently, “Say Goodnight and Go,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” (Only the Marvin Gaye version, of course), and “Sisters”) But we’ve also shared so much more.

Beyond genetics, the “spark” of our relationship rides on the wings of truly understanding each other’s core calling and identity. Knowing how we are wired, what gets us excited, and having a shared and deep love for our Creator and King. And as the quote says above, we remind each other of these things on a regular basis. Vision is a powerful part of the love that Allie and Alex share as well, and it’s exciting to be cheering them on as they get closer to that aisle and shared future.

“Vision keeps connection alive.” Breathing, passionate, hopeful.

But it’s also resilient when the car runs out of gas on a highway, or sickness overtakes a body, or when there’s irritation over cabinets left open for the thousandth time. This kind of love doesn’t have time for toothpaste tubes or differing opinions on directions. It’s just too busy hanging out in the higher planes of living a connectedly beautiful life.

But vision is just one side to a complex “thing” artists, authors, princes and paupers have been trying to figure out for ages.

One of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, wrote much about love before he even experienced it himself. Not that I should feel the need to justify myself, but his audacity in writing about a subject he knew little about, gives me a tinge of personal justification for observing and writing about such things I know little about.

My curiosity and commentary are not claims to understand this massive iceberg of an emotion that Alex and Allie are experiencing…they are simply just that — curiosity and commentary.

What components or characteristics do you see and value in love? What is it? Can you touch it, name it, describe it? Or will it remain a mystery for a handful of centuries to come?

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And as my two readers out there ponder the answers to these huge questions,

Allie, thank you so much for being such an amazing sister….. 

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[Circa 90’s…sometime :)]192_1004540605107_7889_n[Dancing around an Italian restaurant on New Years Eve in Times Square, 2007.]

Allie and I

….And Alex, thank you for loving my sister so well. Welcome to the family!

299994_1901568830252_163806399_n[Post water park run in South Lake Union. Seattle, 2012]