Let’s Be Pen Pals

Good morning dear ones. I have been looking forward to sharing this photo shoot with you for a very long time. It literally grew out of the ashes of a dangerous bush fire near our local beach village in the peak of a stifling Summer last January. The flames came perilously close to homes, although thankfully all were spared. 

Each time I drove past this particular section of bushland all I could see was beauty. The traumatised trees stood defiantly in the bare earth, looking naked without bushy scrub at their heels. At first the scorched land seemed too damaged to recover, but  eventually green shoots began to emerge. New life. It was truly breathtaking.

In my obsessively creative mind, a picture began to form of a vintage dessert table nestled amongst the charcoaled aftermath. I wanted to set a scene of contradiction with a table of delicate desserts in striking contrast to the harsh forest. Everything needed to be out of context. An old dressing table laden with vintage cakes and cupcakes and pretty buntings hanging from trees. Elements more suited to a bridal shower than a camp ground. 

Of course dreams in my head usually take a while (often years) to become reality, so by the time I was able to execute this one, fresh new buds of life had turned into spindly clumps of grass dotted over the landscape. Not to be deterred!  It was still beautiful. The day I scheduled the shoot it was raining, so we stood huddled under the shelter of our van boot waiting for a break in the weather. Eventually we had a window straight from Heaven. The sun came out so we quickly moved furniture, hung up buntings, trudged desserts over fallen twigs and hustled into position. We ended up with one hour of glorious afternoon twilight.

Oh my heart. Perfection. 

Dear Miss Mary was my model, with a guest appearance from Bertie the bunny. Both were incredibly photogenic, but I may be a bit biased there.

Keeping the colour palette soft and muted with a feminine touch, I created desserts to match the pastel peach of Mary’s dress and headband. 

I wanted to create an oasis. A tea party in the bush. An atmosphere of discovery and delight in the midst of adversity. One thing I have learnt is that the sweetest moments in life often arise out of the greatest trial. Beauty can indeed emerge from the ashes. 

So often as a mother I wrestle with my own failures. Sometimes on a daily basis. No matter how hard I try I will never get it all right all the time. It’s just not possible, and yet I know I am not alone in being swallowed up by perceived or real mistakes made and opportunities lost. I imagine most mothers feel this way sooner or later. 

Harsh words are spoken that cannot be taken back, frustrations spilling over into anger, the wrestle within to keep from putting self first, feeling like we aren’t good enough and our kids are going to be all messed up. We can get caught up in thinking that if only I were this or that, or could do this better, or was more like that mother…if only I were different, if only I wasn’t the way I am…then I would be a better mother. We let the fire of lies blast us bare. 

My youngest daughter Kitty is quite affectionate, like most six year olds, and lavishes me with hugs, kisses and affirmation of her undying love for me. A few weeks ago she was saying grace before a meal and started thanking God for her mummy, saying that I had a pretty face and was “everything I ever wanted my mummy to be when I was in Heaven before I was born”. I was so touched by her genuine appreciation for who I am simply because I am her mother. She was satisfied that I was good enough, confident that I was capable to be her mother just because I am me. How hard it is to rest in that knowledge and let the wisdom of babes speak truth over us.

So, the next time self doubt creeps into my mother heart, I will trust that the Lord actually knew what He was doing when in His wisdom He made me the mother of my children. He alone will bring forth beauty from the ashes of my failings, mistakes and weakness.  All I need to do is stop where I am and take a good look around me. I might just see that the view from here, although bearing the scars from trial, is still pretty special.


Photography //  Sarah Rickard Photography