The Story of the Bee + Giveaway
04.15

Pinch Me! Is this really happening?! I cannot believe this day is here. It’s truly humbling to see this dream become a reality, and I am so excited to use this tool to serve you all in greater ways! I can’t wait to share what is all in store for YOU! Later this week I will be sharing all of the new and exciting products for AlleeJ clients, but first, I think it is important for you to know a little bit about the transition from Alexandra Nanny Photography to AlleeJ, and the “why” behind what I do! To celebrate, I’ve decided to do “5 days of giveaways” throughout the week! Be sure to check back each day this week to see the new giveaway and enter your chance to win! More information is at the end of the blog.

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The “Why” Behind ALLEEJ 

February 19th, 2012 I found myself asking “Why”. I was in a spot where I felt completely discouraged, without vision, without purpose, and drained in every aspect. I had started my photography business two years prior to this moment, was a full time college student, and was learning to run a business by trial+error. I decided to attended a wedding photography conference, with hopes to find new inspiration, and hopefully discover my “Why”. I was crying out, and faithfully the Lord listened & responded.

On February 22nd, of 2012, I found myself overcome with revelation of what my purpose, vision, and calling was to be. He planted the idea of ALLEEJ in my heart. He birthed a new hope of purpose and restored my vision with his own. He showed me my “why” and reminded me of his sovereignty. He spoke the story of my why back into my heart, and it felt as new life had been breathed back into me. ALLEEJ is a tool to capture the beauty created within each individual. I have the opportunity to photograph not just the outward beauty of a person, but the inner beauty as well. I get to see what He sees, and capture individuals who are celebrating life, their beauty, and their love. ALLEEJ is an experience that invites you to reconnect with the one you love, to share, to laugh, and truly create memories while I’m there capturing it all. It is an experience that invites you to let go, have tons of fun, and celebrate! I believe that photographs have the power to take you back. They help you to remember, to feel, and to reconnect. I found my why in the photographs that take me back…and in the midst I discovered my purpose: to love, to serve, and to provide you with an amazing experience and an open door to always go back. My purpose is for you.

The Name | ALLEEJ

My precious husband, Dusty, started calling me “Allee Girl” when we began dating in 2010. He combined my first name with my middle name to cleverly come up with this endearing name & it’s stuck with me ever sense. I went from being Alexandra Lee Nanny to Alexandra Lee Joplin in July of 2013, and this presented an exciting opportunity to launch a new name+brand for the photography business!

The Brand | ALLEEJ

I have learned that a brand is not just a fancy new logo, or a nice looking website. More than those things, a brand is an experience, it has a story, and is something that you connect with. My desire with ALLEEJ is to give you a client experience that will thrill you, offer products that are the best of quality, and make sure you know you’re loved and taken care of. My desire is that you know YOUR story is important. Your story deserves to be captured with the best care and attention.

I have a story that I would love to share with you all. It’s a story of love, heartache, passion, pain, and hope. I have a story… and it’s hidden in the bee.

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SECOND STREET CREATIVE | 2ndcreative.com

HUGE Thank-You to SECOND STREET CREATIVE for all of their amazing work. Ryan has put forth so much time and effort into creating a presence that truly represents who I am & what I offer. I couldn’t be happier with what he has created for me, and am forever grateful for taking my vision and turning it into a reality!

 

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GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the launching week of AlleeJ, there will be 5 days of giveaways! Be sure to check-in each day, and enter your chance to win.

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Giveaway Number One is a beautiful journal from Sugar Paper, a matching notepad from Kate Spade, and the most amazing candle from Antropologie, Capri Blue!

HOW TO ENTER:

1. Comment on this post!
2. Like my Facebook, share this blog post to your timeline, and #alleejgiveaway
3. Follow me on Instagram, post a photo of today’s giveaway, tag @alleejphoto and #alleejgiveaway
4. Follow me on Twitter, retweet today’s blog post, and #alleejgiveaway

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You and I.. we all have stories. We all have moments of defining. Moments that are life changing and heart molding.

You may have wondered, what’s the purpose behind the bee? If I can take a moment of your time, this is a story that I believe will bless you as it has me.

I love symbolism and the mystery it holds. Here is a story filled with the intentionality of Christ . A story where the evidence of Jesus’ love is unmistakable. So sit back, grab a snack, and enjoy a read that I believe will truly touch you, as it continues to touch lives around the world.

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PEN-PALS

I attended Lubbock-Cooper ISD all of my childhood. My mother was (and still is) a kindergarten teacher at the school. Her career provided me with some of my favorite memories. Playing with friends who’s parents also taught at the school was sometimes better than recess. We had the whole school to ourselves. The whole playground to do whatever we wanted. As a fourth grader, my friend and I had a ritual of going to a specific teacher’s classroom. We would go to this classroom for my friend to exchange letters with our teacher’s daughter. It was a sweet pen pal friendship between a high school girl, and her greatest 4th grade admirer, who happened to share the same name. The young high school girl always had lady bugs on her letters to my friend. My friend’s signature back.. a bee.

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TRAGEDY

Fast forward 7 years.

Kelsey and I are about to enter into our senior year of High School. Out of all of my friends, Kelsey was the most sensitive, compassionate, goofy, and child-like. She was your go-to if you needed someone to understand, to listen, to make you laugh, give you a positive outlook, or to make you feel like $100 bucks. She loved photography, and took her camera everywhere. You could always count on Kelsey to capture the fun at baseball games, shear ridiculousness at the pool, and the memories you know you’ll want to hang onto. She lived a life building up others. She also lived a life of searching.. searching for the greater purpose.. for the greater love.. for the greater meaning. Growing up, she often asked me questions, needing me to provide wisdom or an answer. Summer of senior year, I realized it all clicked for her. She would ask questions, and be able to answer them with hope and faith in the Lords plan for her life. She had discovered the well that never runs dry. The source of wisdom that you could trust without having to understand.

Throughout the summer, Kelsey prayed every night for her dad to experience the love that she had experienced in Jesus. For a lot of Kelsey’s childhood, her father was not a believer. In 2006 the Lord met him, but there was still much he did not understand and areas he struggled with doubt. That summer, Kelsey also prayed for our High School. She believed the Lord had big things in store for the Cooper community.

 Little did she know.

She was right.

 September 1st, Kelsey discovered a verse in the bible that she really favored. She shared it with excitement to her boyfriend, a man that always pointed her to Jesus.

“Do not be afraid; just believe” – Mark 5:36

 These would be words for her family and loved ones. The passage is about a family who loses their daughter. These would be words to cling to and “Just believe”.

September 2nd, 2008, Kelsey came to school with a brand new outfit (that, of course, she offered for me to borrow), a camera, and a smile that never left her face. In student council that morning, Kelsey asked me to take a picture with her to remember our senior year. Little did I know, that would be our last picture together.

That afternoon, in our senior seminar class, Kelsey was the “first five leader”. She lead the class in roll call, and finished with a quote for the day. She had picked a bible verse in preparation for this day, and shared it with the class.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

 – Matthew 6:35. 

 This would be the words of Christ that we, as a school, would cling to for hope in the days to come.

On her way home from school, Kelsey and her twin sister, Kayla were struck by a dump truck in oncoming traffic. Kelsey was killed on impact, and Kayla walked away with a hurt foot and some scratches.

This heart-wrenching reality absolutely shook the Lubbock-Cooper community. When the Lord had put a stirring in Kelsey’s heart that big things were going to happen at Cooper that year, she had no idea that it would be through her life and her death.

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TRUST

Through the course of the year, Thom, her father, sought out the Lord in a way he never had before. He grieved. He questioned. He doubted. & He discovered. What he found was hope. What he found was truth, healing, love. He found the love & faith she prayed he would experience.

“Oh death, where is your sting!!”

The truth & love of Christ, even in the midst of terrible pain & hopelessness, has the power to spring hope and life back into what was lost.

Thom began writing a book in 2007 about his spiritual journey. To my understanding, Thom always wanted to write and dreamed of publishing a book. He planned to have Kelsey read it one day to understand his past doubts. Her life, even in her death, encouraged the destiny and purpose the Lord created within Thom. The way I see it, her life lead him to his destiny.

In 2011, Thom published his first book: “Tragedy and Trust: Can you still TRUST God after losing a child?”

“This story is the journey of a family and a boyfriend – how they struggled with the issue of trust; how they individually and collectively resolved it. The answer did not come easily, nor did it come quickly. But with faith in God, come it did.”

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Since then, Thom has released two more books, one in 2012, and the most recent in 2013.

Tragedy & Trust is being re-released through Tate Publishing in June! Thom is going to have a signing at Barns & Noble in Lubbock, TX on May 10th if you’d like a personalized copy! 🙂 

Thom now lives a life full of joy regardless of the circumstance. It’s evident in the new smile he wears. It’s a smile of hope.. a hope that only Jesus can give.. and the truth that his earth is temporary. The truth that there will be a joyous reunion one day, and we will all see Kelsey again.

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 HONEY PRESERVE

Kelsey’s life was lived simply.

Kelsey didn’t live exalting herself. She truly lived out her days for the good of others. She always made sure you felt loved, and you knew you were loved.

Which made me think… “To live for yourself is to not live at all. However, to live with a heart set for others, is a life lived to the full.” 

Kelsey was my biggest cheerleader. She taught me the richness in being a bigger cheerleader for others than for yourself.

She taught me the sweetness in friendship that had no selfish ambitions. The richness and sweetness of a simple mind. Simple faith. Complete trust.

The message version of Matthew 6:34 says “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” 

Life is about people. It’s about loving. It’s so easy to get caught up with the stresses, anxiety, and worries of the future that sometimes we miss out on the present day.

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The last picture we took together was on September 2nd, the morning of the day she passed away. This picture is priceless to me, and is a constant reminder to live in the moment. This picture instills the powerful reminder of what I have the opportunity to do on a daily basis. Why is photography so important? Because it captures life in a frame. It preserves a memory, takes you back to loved ones, celebrates life, and so much more… I approach photography with the legacy Kelsey left in mind. She is my inspiration, and a big part of “my why.”  I believe in photography because of the treasure I have in that last picture of us together. I believe in photography, because I believe life is worth celebrating, and your story is worth capturing.

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FEBRUARY 22nd, 2012

 As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, I was on a plane when the Lord gave me the idea of ALLEEJ. I was asking the Lord “why”… “why do I do photography… what’s the point.. what’s the purpose?” and what I saw was a bee. A hand drawn bee on a letter addressed to a pen-pal. Within the bee is an incredible story. A story of love, grief, hope, purpose, and restoration. A story that has defined me, molded me, and encouraged me to seek Christ and know Him more. A story that lead me to my destiny, that made me pick up a camera, and created a passion in me to preserve moments. Most of all, the bee is a story that has consistently shown me faithfulness of God, and the beauty of living for HIM & not for myself.

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 PEN-PALS & JESUS

7 years before our Senior year, Kelsi Cook passed away due to a single vehicle car accident. 7 years after Kelsi’s passing, Kelsey Vines met Jesus just a few feet on the other side of the road. I like to picture the bee & the lady bug having a sweet reunion in the company of the one who loves them most.

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To me, the bee is symbolic of preserving the sweetness of life through photographs. It is symbolic of the Lords promises, love, and faithfulness. 

If you took the time to read through this, thank you. Thank you for letting me share with you. I hope you benefited in some way from Kelsey’s story. I know it has forever changed me.

To Honor Kelsey’s legacy, and all of our after school math tutorial frustrations, I will be donating $15.00 to the KRV scholarship in the name of every Lubbock-Cooper High School Senior who has their pictures taken with me. Live a life that leaves a legacy in your schools. Love people, work hard, and be your classmates biggest cheerleader. I promise, it’s worth it. 

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GIVEAWAY!

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 Today’s giveaway is a precious tea towel & Carmel Vanilla Tea from World Market, paired with a beautiful Jardin Des Plantes tea cup from Anthropologie. (I’m obsessed with the Jardin collection-yikes!).

I believe that with a cup of tea and Jesus you can solve all problems ;).

HOW TO ENTER:

1. Comment on this post!
2. Like my Facebook, share this blog post to your timeline, and #alleejgiveaway
3. Follow me on Instagram, post a photo of today’s giveaway, tag @alleejphoto and #alleejgiveaway
4. Follow me on Twitter, retweet today’s blog post, and #alleejgiveaway

 

 YESTERDAY’S GIVEAWAY WINNER: 2014-04-15_0028

Congratulations, Heather!! Your Notepad+Journal & Anthro Candle will be mailed to you later this week!

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  1. Brandi DeWaters
    April 15, 2014

    This post made me cry – tears of joy of course. I know our sweet Kels is having the time of her life! Her legacy is more present than ever and we love her so so much!

  2. Kelsey Havens
    April 15, 2014

    Wow such an amazing story! I still remember that day, and it’s incredible how God can use that situation to change so many people’s lives and place dreams in people’s hearts. Thank you for sharing!

  3. April 15, 2014

    Wow! I’m all teary eyed reading this while listening to the perfect background music, NEEDTOBREATH…I’m left speechless and totally encouraged by your story and by Kelsey’s story. Your love for photography and why you do what you do is incredible and will leave every one of your clients BLESSED, SO BLESSED!!!

  4. Stormy Smith
    April 15, 2014

    You are such a inspiration and God has blessed you in so many ways, one of them is speaking through to people and touching them with your kind words. I know that you are such a blessing to everyone that you meet and the light of God in you shines everywhere you go. It is such a pleasure knowing you Alexandra!

  5. Tina Dunn
    April 15, 2014

    Thank you for sharing! Love you!

  6. Jordan Homen
    April 15, 2014

    Such a sweet sweet story. I remember getting the news about Kelsie and Kelsey. Such wonderful girls who impacted everyone around them. Loved your blog and learning how her life has impacted yours! 🙂

  7. Kimberlee Cook
    April 15, 2014

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this story.

  8. Nikki Molina
    April 15, 2014

    This is so beautiful! I went to cjhs and I remember her. She was so nice and had such a beautiful spirit. Reading this has made me want to seek a better relationship with Christ. Much love and wishing you the best.
    Nikki, Dallas Tx

  9. Stephanie Guthrie
    April 15, 2014

    I’m so proud of you for allowing the Lord to turn tragedy and heartbreak into joy and inspiration for you and your business every single day. I’m proud of you for sharing your heart, for pushing others to understand, and being a vessel to allow Kelsey’s story to impact so many others. And I’m so thankful that you are one of MY biggest cheerleaders in life. Love you so much, Al!

  10. Callie
    April 15, 2014

    I was a senior when Kelsey’s tragedy happened. I still remember that day and how it impacted no only Cooper ISD but also the whole city of Lubbock. I am so thankful that you decided on doing this blog, I know it will be used to impact lives.

  11. Janci Wilson
    April 15, 2014

    You are an amazing talented young women and I always love hearing your sweet, sweet stories of Kelsey! As I read as you described Kelsey’s cute traits, it reminds me of how very thankful I am to have so many special memories……! You are a very special person Alexandra and it shows through in your work!! I’m so very proud for you!!!

  12. Barbara Thalman
    April 15, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of redemption! Our God is gracious!
    Love the giveaway and would loooove to win!! :):)

  13. April 15, 2014

    Thank you for offering these giveaways and for sharing such a sweet story!

  14. K'lyssa Selmon
    April 15, 2014

    What a beautiful post! A beautiful reminder of a life that, while cut too short, was lived fully. A reminder that Earthly goodbyes are only temporary.

    Thank you for sharing it with us!

  15. Julie Reeger
    April 15, 2014

    What an incredible story!!! Thank you so much for sharing and I cannot express enough what a strong woman of God you are and how evident that is in everything you do!
    🙂 Julie

  16. April 15, 2014

    SUPER PROUD OF YOU, Miss ALLEE! The new site looks wonderful and your heart is all over it. Including this post!

    I only knew Kelsey through all of her friends after she passed and through your project your senior year. I did get the chance to speak with her a time or two about photography at the Cooper basketball games and what sticks the most in my mind was her ENERGY. It just leaped and bounded all out of her and into whatever was around her.

    It was a horrible, horrible day that she left this earth. I still remember all of you grieving and holding each other in the emergency room. I still remember our volleyball game being cut short at Trinity and Stan coming onto the court to let us know there had been an accident. (We didn’t know at the time it was Kelsey.) I still remember the candle light vigil, her funeral and everything that year that was in honor of her that year.

    It’s wonderful to see what a mark she has left on this world. On you. On Cooper. I love that her spirit, carry’s on in every one’s hearts. And what hearts!!!

    MUCH LOVE!!!!

  17. April 15, 2014

    what a beautiful new web site. And a such a beautiful story of a precious friend to you!

  18. April 15, 2014

    What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend, Allee <3 Thank you for the reminder to live in the moment as we also look at each of our own 'bigger pictures'. It's a good balance to have 🙂

  19. Hailey
    April 16, 2014

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon this! It’s such a beautiful story and God’s love is shining so brightly through every single word. I love that He’s so evident in all you do. Thanks for sharing:)

  20. April 16, 2014

    You, your work, your story and your why are all beautiful. Keep “bee”ing who God has planned for you to “bee”.

  21. Holly Cogdell
    April 16, 2014

    I love your heart Alexandra! Thank you for sharing!

  22. Debbie S.
    April 16, 2014

    2Corinthrians 9:13-14 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves men will praise God for the obedience
    that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else
    and in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you,because of the surpassing grace God has given you.

  23. Shari Chambers
    April 16, 2014

    Told only the way YOU can, Allee J.! With heart and gratitude. Don’t forget Grandmom and her bee pin. I have a feeling she was a part of that inspiration as well! Love you.

  24. Janie Speed
    April 17, 2014

    Al….I am sooo blessed to have you as a granddaughter -in-law and so grateful God brought you and my special Dusty together. I know God has plans for both of you beyond anything we could ask or imagine.
    Much love,
    Janie Mom

  25. May 23, 2014

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  27. June 14, 2014

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