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I feel like a lifetime has passed since I last posted, even though it has been just one week. In that short week, I traveled to New York City and back. There, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday and the New Year.

It was an amazing trip, and I was feeling overwhelmed as I tried to figure out how to post about it without going overboard. {If you want to see almost all the pix from the trip, check out the five {!} albums I added on Facebook. :)} While browsing some of my favorite blogs this morning, I had a somewhat brilliant {in my opinion} idea: I will post about my trip under topics; such as my clothing/the outfits I wore each day, decor inspiration, and entertainment/food/shopping. So, I will begin tomorrow with the clothing post. :)

As for today…

Well, it almost seems as though a deep and thoughtful post is required of me, seeing as how I just turned thirty. Wow. Thirty.

I’ll give it my best shot here…

I am amazed and humbled at what my life looks like as a thirty year old. God has been so very good to me. At the same time, I’m not sure quite how to express my feelings about how my life looks right now. I never want to appear ungrateful or unhappy, because the truth is that I am happy and thankful beyond words. The blessings I have experienced are too numerous to list here.

In spite of feeling extremely blessed, or maybe because of that, I am not satisfied or fulfilled. That is a pretty raw and vulnerable statement, but it is truth. I want to do more, to give more, to achieve more.

My hands are a little shaky, because I feel the urge to dig deep and share more right now. Feel free to run the other way, or at least stop reading if you don’t want a look into my soul and a glimpse at my dream.

Ten years ago this March, I started photography school, and a new chapter of my life began. It was clear from the beginning that I had the talent and people skills to succeed. The question then and now, ten years later, was: Can I run a business? I honestly don’t know. Nothing about the business aspect really appeals to me. And yet, I love the rest of it.

I have a good solid job, where I work in a quiet office during the week. I am free to bring my laptop and work on photography stuff. I have very kind and flexible bosses who give me any days off that I request. For a long while, I was weirdly ashamed to tell people that I have a “day job” because I was afraid that it made me seem like some sort of failure as a photographer. And maybe it does. But I am mostly happy working here, and I feel blessed to have the steady paycheck.

But do you want to know what my dreams look like? In my dreams, in the corners of my mind occupied by beautiful fantasies, I own a cool little building {much like the one used as a backdrop in the photos of my last post} that is part thrift boutique and part hang out spot.

I would employ members of my family to work and have it open pretty much around the clock. Imagine: a place here in Oklahoma City where you could shop after 10pm, other than WalMart! :)

I would cover the walls with my photos and other cool art pieces. I might even be inspired to create some art with a paintbrush again — which I haven’t done in years and years.

I would use a tiny little part of the building as a natural light studio. Because, oh yes, I would still be a photographer. I would shoot artsy and beautiful portraits for very cool people. And perhaps my name would spread, and I would make connections with the right people, and end up doing random commercial portrait assignments of important folks.

I would find some cool old dress forms and mannequins, and I would create whimsical and cool outfits to display and sell. I would get to spend hours combing through thrift stores and garage sales; because after all, that would be part of my job – to find unique and thrilling items to sell at my own shop. My sister Mandi would help me with this part of it. :)

Another part of it would be the entertainment aspect. Growing up, my house was usually the gathering spot, where everyone felt welcome. I loved it, but it sucked when I wanted to get out of the house – because I knew the other options I had for hanging out were never as much fun, or they closed at 9pm {like thrift stores and the library – I was such a cool kid ;)}. As a teen and in my early twenties {heck, even to this day}, I always wished there was a place to go and just hang out. Sort of like a coffee shop or bookstore, but with clothes and art and such! :) And very laid back. Just a place. To go and chill. Not somewhere you had to buy a drink or food, but where you could hang out like you were getting dinner or a drink. Make sense?

I could create that place. I know I could. There would be stacks of magazines {I’ve got ’em! :)} and books, a tv where there was always a good old movie or tv series or music videos playing, maybe a ping pong table or something random…like a shuffle board table! :) Board games would be a must. And, of course, the shopping. There would be cool clothes and great art on the walls.

It would be a cool place where cool kids {I use the term loosely – after all, I am a 30 year old kid} could hang out…an alternative to going out and getting wasted or sleeping around or the countless other things “kids” do when they are bored.

I close my eyes and I can picture it. I take a breath, and with each inhale and exhale, a new idea is formed for what I could do in my little space. But I have no idea how to make it happen.

When I try to imagine how it would actually happen, all I see are the dollar signs that it would require. And so, I work. I shoot weddings and portraits, and I come to work at my quiet office job from eight to five on Monday through Friday.

And in the corners of my mind that no one sees, dreams bubble below the surface and burst into brilliantly colored shapes and forms.

So, as I look at my life, I am not entirely happy or satisfied. In fact, I am somewhat ashamed of what I have not accomplished. Because I want more. I want to do more and give more and be more. I am filled to the top with exciting ideas and a renewed determination.

And this is the year. 2011 and 30 – two numbers that will mark a jumping off point in my life. Just you watch and see.

~abi~

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Kriea ArieJanuary 5, 2011 - 8:19 pm

I cant wait!

Kristen MalloryJanuary 6, 2011 - 1:54 am

I am inspired by your words! I encourage you to FREAKING GO FOR IT GIRL! The world is yours for the taking! Ain't no shame in having a full-time job either…your work speaks for it self, period.

Bethany LarieJanuary 9, 2011 - 1:37 am

I agree with Kriea, Abi. I cant wait. I will continue to pray for you. Your dreams are attainable and you are sooo the person for this sort of thing!! It will be Fabulous, like you.. anything I can do at all give me a call.. any prayer things. U ROCK IT GIRL!!!!!

~abi~January 12, 2011 - 2:27 pm

thank you, girls! i can't wait either. :)

how i got all this for 3 cents

Yesterday, I walked into Tiffany’s The Dollar Jewelry Store and filled a little hand basket with these lovely baubles…

IMG_0691

I took them to the checkout counter, the nice lady there rang them up for me, I paid her three pennies, and I left.

The End.

Just kidding.

Let me explain.

Last month, these lovely people asked me to once again do their holiday photo’s.

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This is the superbly good looking staff of LifeChurch.tv’s NorthWest campus.

Cool people refer to NorthWest as The N-Dub.

I had the pleasure of doing this fun session for them.

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{Scott}

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{Deidra}

lcholly
{Holly}

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{Robert}

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{Stephen}

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{Anna}

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{Vince}

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{Matt}

LCNW087
{Stephy}

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{Kendra}

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{Jo}

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{Jason}

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{Brian}

So what does this session have to do with me getting a bunch of fun jewelry for three cents? Well, let me tell you…These awesome people know me so well…They gave me a gift certificate to the jewelry store! {Because everyone knows, I love my accessories!} And after using the gift certificate, all I owed was three pennies.

Yay! Thank you, N-Dub staff! <3 ~abi~

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. sarah .December 29, 2010 - 10:07 pm

Wow, you're not kidding! That's one good looking church staff!!! Great photos, Abi!

Joni Bain PhotographyJanuary 1, 2011 - 7:06 am

They gave you a gift certificate to the Dollar Store? That's hillarious! Love their pics! I love when people coordinate w/ colors.

my ridiculously good-looking family

Last week, my incredible sister in law Ashley came to visit us. I coerced my amazing photographer friend Kelly Beane to come and do a quick session of my awesome family. {Check out her sweet website!} Here is one of my favorites…

fam

standing, left to right: Amber, Abe, Mom, Dad, Ashley
sitting, left to right: Laila, me, Jace, Daxon, Mandi, DJ

And I just have to note this, because it makes me so happy:
A good portion of our outfits were thrifted. These are the thrifted items: Amber’s poncho, red jeans, and gold belt; my dress and vest; my mom’s sweater, Daxon’s sweater; Ashley’s shirt and red leather skirt :); DJ’s pearl snap shirt…and maybe more, I’m not sure on all Mandi’s family’s clothing. :)

So, there you have it. My ridiculously good-looking family {if I do say so myself} decked out in some fun clothing. :) Happy Holidays from all of us to all of you.

God Bless!

~abi~

ps A huge THANK YOU to my wonderful family for being willing to go along with my “styling” of this session and for cooperating so nicely. :) Also, to Kelly, for taking time out of her extra-busy schedule to capture us!

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Kathleen MillerDecember 28, 2010 - 5:03 pm

GORGEOUS family Abi! I love to read your thoughts toward them…so loving and special!

And KathleenDecember 28, 2010 - 5:12 pm

You hair color is out of control beautiful! I LOVE IT.

. sarah .December 28, 2010 - 6:07 pm

BEAUTIFUL family!!! :) Good to see you all again…

A3DLifeDecember 28, 2010 - 9:25 pm

My top and pants, Jace's Gap wool slacks – ALL THRIFTED!!

Kelly BeaneDecember 29, 2010 - 5:56 am

I love the Martin family so much and am honored I got to photograph your family! You all are so encouraging, inspiring and loving to me and I'm blessed to know you all! Much love!

happy birthday, amber

I still remember it as one of the saddest days of my life. My parents and I had driven my sister Amber down to Oklahoma City to go to college. And we left her. For the first time in my entire life, I was not going to be living with my older sister and best friend. I cried. For a good portion of the 10-plus hour drive back up to our home in Iowa, I cried.

Amber and I had been through it all together, so far. We had shifted from homeschooling to a small Christian school, back to homeschooling, and into an even tinier Christian school, together. We had suffered through the same oppressive clothing rules and strict religious standards. We had the same friends, shared the same stories, laughed at the same silly things.

At the time, the day we dropped Amber off at college, it seemed like some sort of ending or separation. But really, despite my teenaged fears, that separation never occurred. Amber and I eventually moved into an apartment together, then rented a house with some other girls, and now we live in a house that Amber owns. She is still and always will be one of my best friends.

Today is Amber’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you guys a little bit about who Amber is, and just use my blog to publicly say a big Happy Birthday to her!

Amber is, first and foremost, a strong Christian girl. She has a close relationship with God. I often walk into a room and see her reading/studying the Bible. She has always been a good influence on me in this area.

Amber is a wonderful mom to my niece Laila. Laila is not Amber’s biological daughter, but the bond of love between them is stronger than blood. Over the past few years, I have watched {closely, since I live with her} Amber learn to parent a teenager. i would say that she has been highly successful!

Amber is fun and funny. She teaches/coaches middle schoolers, and she always has a humorous story to tell about their antics. She is the first to want to go on an adventure, whether it be camping or exploring an old abandoned house.

Amber is beautiful, inside and out. I have already mentioned her spirituality, but Amber also places a high priority on fitness. She works out on a regular basis, and attempts to keep the rest of us in shape, too! :)

Amber gives great advice. You might have to hit her to get her attention and make her listen to you, but once she does, she gives great advice. Just kidding about the hitting…We have lived together so long that she has learned to tune me out when necessary, since everyone knows I can talk..and talk..talk. I like to tease her about not listening to me.

All in all, Amber is an amazing human being. I am proud of her and happy to have her as a confidant, friend, and sister.

amber
{Amber also models for me on demand.}

Happy Birthday, Amber!!! I love you so much!

~abi~

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Kelly BeaneDecember 29, 2010 - 5:51 am

Amber is an amazing woman. I admire all she does in her life and the mother she is to Laila. Happy Birthday and lots of love Amber!

life lessons from a thrift store

Yesterday, I made my way over to a nearby thrift store to do a little shopping on my lunch break. This has become a normal way for me to pass the time and avoid the fast food trap during the noon to one hour.

My family is doing pictures today. As the unofficial stylist for my family, I chose the color scheme and decided to search the thrift store for appropriate clothing for all of us.

As I was browsing, I came across a dress with an interesting print in black and white that caught my eye. It didn’t fit the color scheme for our session, but I knew I had to have it for myself.

IMG_0484

I could tell by looking at the tag that it was truly vintage. And when I looked it up later on Google, I was pleasantly surprised to read about the designer, Edith Flagg. According to Wikipedia, Edith was a survivor of World War II and was an active part of saving multiple Jewish people during that time. Her story is pretty interesting, and I even found a video with an interview of her by her grandson.

So, this is the dress that caught my eye with it’s interesting print, and then revealed a fascinating story to me…
efdress1

efdress2

I could get deep here, and talk about the life lessons that could be learned. After all, I was shopping for family, choosing to buy “used”, at Goodwill no less; and I discover the story of a woman who truly changed the world and helped others…

Pretty cool, huh?

~abi~

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ScottDecember 21, 2010 - 5:29 pm

Very cool! – Sherie

Kelly BeaneDecember 21, 2010 - 6:44 pm

so very awesome!