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Hi, I'm Julie ... artist, photographer, potter, etc. I am so happy you are here! I consider this blog my creative journal where I can share my recent work, ideas and dreams, and lots of little details about my life. Please make yourself at home. Whether you are a bride-to-be, a photographer, or just a visitor, I hope you will find inspiration here and even become a friend.

Creative :: HOME :: Contest Finalists ::

**Edited to add **

The winner is Brenda and Brandon Patterson!


Thank you so much to all of you who wrote to me your beautiful stories sharing your definition of "home".  Many of them left me in tears ... and all of them left me completely confused about how in the world to choose a winner.  So I am going to leave it to you ... my favorite blog readers.  Below are the three finalists.  You can read their stories and then leave a comment to place your vote.  Please only vote once.  Voting will end on Thursday, September 29th.  I will announce the winner of the free session on Friday the 30th.

In no particular order ...

-------------------------------------Finalist Number One:  Emily and Tony Walls-----------------------------------------------

As you walk upstairs into our baby boy’s bedroom, you will find a small closet.  Hidden behind the clothes on a blank white wall are grey handprints made with fresh paint and tiny hands almost three and a half years ago.  These handprints are from our little girl, Abby, who is now four.  When we first moved into our home, she was not even a year old yet, and these sweet little hands represent everything near to my heart.

In a few months, we will be packing our bags, leaving the city I grew up in to follow God’s leading in our lives.  As a mother, this move will be very difficult, because in these walls are the memories of some of the greatest moments of my life.  It is here I sipped tea and dined at fine restaurants with Abby.  It is here we have taken imaginary trips to the zoo and barely escaped the attack of wild animals.  Here, we have spun in circles until we collapsed on the floor.  Here, we danced like maniacs just for the fun of it.  Here, we raced on the playground, swung the day away, played princesses, had sword fights, and made shadow puppets on the wall.
This home is a storehouse of memories which include bringing my baby home for the first time, seeing him grow and learn, and watching his sister love and care for him.  Home is where my husband and I turned what was once a middle school crush into a family full of laughter and love.
As I look to the future, I must ask myself a question.  I love this house, these walls, these sweet memories, but is there more to home?  I believe the answer is “yes.” Home to me includes all of these wonderful moments, but home is also where the Lord has chosen for us to live.  I have learned in the past few months that “better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere.” 
Whether a home is earthly or heavenly, whether it is in my hometown or far away, where the Lord is dwelling - that is where I want my family and I to be.
Those tiny handprints on the wall will soon be just a memory in my mind, but perhaps they remind me of something greater than the here and now.  Our small glimpses of heaven come from the abundant grace God gives us everyday through simple things like the sweet hands of our children, the support of our spouse, and the love and fellowship we have with our family, friends, and neighbors.  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. ”  1 John 3:1
Where the Lord leads us, let us be also, and this will be our home.  Thank you Lord for giving us handprints of grace in our lives!

-----------------------------Finalist Number Two:  Summer and Andy Childress----------------------------------

I too have been thinking about what "home" means over the past few years.  After my mom passed away it seemed like my childhood "home" wasn't home anymore.  It's wierd to even go in our house.  Then when my dad re-married and I was washing dishes at her house and she had a little figuring in her kitchen window that her daugher had given her.  It read "Home is where your mom is".  With that being said then my home is in heaven - Amen.
Obviously I do believe that heaven is my home and I can't wait to go there.  God has placed people in our lives that help our time here on earth feel a little more like "home".  I have an amazing husband and two precious boys that make me laugh constantly.  God has blessed me with in-laws that are just the perfect balance.  I often tell my mother-in-law that God gave me her because He knew He would be taking my mother very soon.  Then, there is my daddy and his precious wife Debbie.  I knew that my daddy would re-marry some day but I could not have hand picked a more suitable woman for my dad.
I would love to have a family photo session done that that truely represents what "home" is to us.  It would also make for an awesome Christmas gift to our parents who have taught us the meaning of "home"

-------------------------Finalist Number Three:  Brenda and Brandon Patterson-----------------------
I really am excited about writing on this topic because I know I don't have a traditional way of thinking when it comes to the word home or the meaning of that word. I looked up the definition of the word.  Home: adverb - the place where one lives, noun - the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household. Most people know and believe that home is where you live, the place you go to everyday after work or after a date night with hubby (and that is the definition ) but home means something a little different for me.

I was raised in a divorced household. The divorce happened when I was 3. My father is in the Navy and moved around, and my mother moved to TN. I spent a lot of time going back and forth between them, adjusting to whatever my surroundings were. I lived at a women's battered shelter once, and that was the most uncomfortable place I have ever laid my head. When I was around 12, I ran away for the first time and was gone for about 2 weeks. I slept under a bridge in front of a local high school for the first 2 days and then jumped from house to house after that. Shortly after that, I went to live with my father. My father and step mother separated for a moment and I was sent here to TN to live with my mom. I was very upset about moving here with my mom because this isn't what I knew to be "home". I longed to come home to everyday after school to the parents I belonged to. I desperately wanted a life with stability. I wanted for once in my life to feel wanted and needed. I was so sick of feeling like a burden ... like I was in everyone's way. I just wanted to stay safe in a normal home with normal surroundings. The life I had at my mom's home compared to my dad's was complete night and day. Needless to say I was told I was coming here for the summer with all adults knowing it was going to be forever.

The summer I moved here started my crossroads in life, when I was going to be faced with decisions that would help shape who I am today. I was raped that first summer here, woke up many nights in the arms of people I have never met in my life and in strange places. People told me things about the school I would be going to ... that if didn't have money or certain clothes or a particular last name, I would be nothing.  It scared me but if there was anything I had become a master at, it was adjusting. That horrible summer came to an end and the first day of school was coming around, I had no cool clothes, nothing pretty, nothing that would make a kid in 7th grade think I was something special. I dressed in a black Gin Blossom shirt and the coolest jeans I had.  You could have covered me in a white sheet and I probably would of felt just as pretty. My class had the prettiest girls I had ever seen and I could've just cried. I knew I was never gonna make it. It wasn't 10 min after being there that those very girls came directly up to me and genuinely asked me my name and where I was from. For the first time since being at my dad's, I felt like this was HOME and knew it was forever. Had I known at that moment what the future held for me I would've never left the sides of those girls. Never had I ever experienced kindness in that manner. All through school I still felt like I had to survive, at anyone's cost. I did and would have done any and everything to escape all that I carried deep inside. So I sank into lots of drugs and lots of memory loss. Until he came along, my husband.

My life has been such an extreme of every emotion and I never thought I could meet my match. I always wondered why someone would want me and my baggage for that matter. But when Brandon came into my life I was left speechless and completely broken for him. We spent what seems like 10 years just laying up all night talking. I have never completely emptied myself out to anyone like I did for him and him to me. Little did I know that the Lord was doing a mighty work in refining the both of us in an extreme way. We started living with each other from day one. About 2 years into our relationship we thought that I might be pregnant and it turned out that we weren't. We really didn't want kids at the moment but I grew to the idea and got very excited. Thenmy heart was shattered. Brandon said "God told me that you were my wife and that we have to be married before he would bless us with a baby." So we eloped a couple of months after that. We tried for almost 6 years to have a baby with what seemed like no hope in sight. I sorta felt lied to by God but Brandon sat there the whole time declaring what the Lord spoke to him and now we have a beautiful healthy 4 year old little girl.  The best part is that we get to break the cycle for her ... she will have the joy and gift of both of her parents loving her and each other with everything they have which brings me to my closing.

In closing I first would like to say that I really would love to win this contest, not really for me but for my husband. He gave me life in a world that I thought was dying. This Nov. we will be celebrating our 10 yr. wedding anniversary and no one deserves the privilege of this photo session more than him. It would be an honor to have this memory taken by you to have forever. Anyone that knows him today knows he is a man of virtue and loyalty. Never have I ever been so proud to be something like I am to be his wife. And last, with a little of my background you can understand why I would say home for me isn't so much a place where I could go or lay my head. Home was something that the Lord and I created in my heart. It is in the people that I meet that show kindness to the new kid. Or to the man that showed me I was worthy to be needed and wanted forever. Home was the moment I held our miracle that the Lord promised us 6 years prior, in that hospital bed. Home I guess I would say is in the arms of comfort. The comfort your heart feels when magic moments happen in my life. Thank you Julie, for the opportunity for me to share what I have and thank you for being one of those girls to come up to me that day to welcome me to my home.



What do you think? Leave me some feedback!

Your Name
Oct 3, 2011Brenda Patterson
Amen Emily!!! Thank you all so very much and was so discouraged when I read the stories I was up against. Your stories have made a difference in my life and I am sure everyone elses who read them. And thank you everyone who voted.. I am sure on the outside the story is sad but in my heart, my history and who I am will make this world a better place.. That's what I hope for anyway. Life is what you make it
Oct 2, 2011angie
brenda and brandon
Sep 30, 2011Martha Walls
Tony and Emily All my love to you guys!!!!!!!!
Sep 30, 2011Emily Walls
Thanks Julie for the contest! Congrats to Brenda and Brandon! I enjoyed reading your story. It made me really sad, but the Lord loves to give his children good gifts, and I am learning this everyday. It's easy to doubt God's best for us, but simple reminders like the people who care for you most and even blessings like this photo shoot remind us that he love us no matter what! Congrats to you both. Your story was great!
Sep 30, 2011Carol
Tony and Emily
Sep 29, 2011Annie
Definitely Emily and Tony Walls. I understand about the memories and the handprints and the piece of your heart you will leave in a house, but home is where your family is sent by God. I get it and I loved all the stories, but I think this is the winner.
Sep 29, 2011Derek bruce
Brandon n brenda
Sep 29, 2011Erica
Sep 28, 2011Dan
Sep 28, 2011Gail
Sep 28, 2011Tiffany
Summer and Andy Childress
Sep 27, 2011vince
Brandon and BrendA
Sep 27, 2011Aaron Golden
Tony and Emily!
Sep 27, 2011Jennifer Golden
My vote is for Tony and Emily! Love you guys!
Sep 27, 2011Cynthia
Sep 27, 2011Cynthia
Sep 27, 2011Julie
Sep 27, 2011Darleen
My vote is for Brenda and Brandon for sure!!
Sep 27, 2011Sammie sampley
Brenda patterson
Sep 27, 2011Elizabeth
I am moved and impressed with #3 The Pattersons. It takes courage and great perspective to put your story out in such a very public way. I appreciate her honesty. Kudos to her! I think the photo shoot would be a great way to celebrate 10 years!
Sep 27, 2011Joan
Brandon and Brenda!
Sep 27, 2011Laurel
My vote is Brenda and Brandon. Two of the most beautiful people I have ever met!
Sep 27, 2011michelle
Brenda and Brandon
Sep 27, 2011Travis
The Pattersons
Sep 27, 2011Ashley
Sep 27, 2011Olivia
Sep 27, 2011misty
Brenda and Brandon ..
Sep 27, 2011dodie
I was around when Brenda and she might of had a place to lay her head but never really had a home She has turned her life around because of love and support of her husband and their little girl knows what home really is i cast my vote for 1 deserving young lady
Sep 27, 2011Camie
Sep 27, 2011ramona
Brenda and Brandon totally get my vote. It takes a lot of courage to acknowledge your past and make yourself better for it.
Sep 27, 2011Sarah
I vote for Brenda and Brandon!
Sep 27, 2011Macy Welch
I have to say, I am in tears after reading each and every story. They are so heart-felt, I love how they did not hold back telling you what "home" really is to them. Unfortunately I have to choose just one, and my choice is Brenda and Brandon finalist number 3. You go Brenda, I think it is so great that you are nott afraid of your past. It goes to show how strong of a heart you really have, and I am glad you found your "home". God Bless!
Sep 27, 2011Michele Rae
Finalist number three, Brenda and Brandon. What a moving story.
Sep 27, 2011Kristin Doroshow
Brenda and Brandon! Brenda is a beautiful person, inside and out!
Sep 27, 2011Amy
Sep 27, 2011Brenda
Tysm... I am proud of my story and who I am, I am very in love with my parents because they created the person that I am and all the gifts that I know today. Ty for my life!! I would not even if I could change one thing about my life because it makes it that much sweeter today.
Sep 27, 2011Angel Adkins
Brandon and Brenda for sure!
Sep 26, 2011CK
I loved all three...and also found myself in tears reading these stories. I am going to cast my vote for #3. I am so glad that she found a way to continue on through all of the heartache and breaking the cycle for her child. What an amazing story!
Sep 26, 2011Sarah Broyles
Emily and Tony get my vote!

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