Easter feet ☺️

Do you ever find yourself delighted in the beauty of something so seemingly simple and ordinary?
I’m not saying I think I have gorgeous foot model feet! Lol.. I certainly don’t. And I know there are some people out there who think feet are nasty and ugly!
But when I looked down at my feet this morning, surrounded by a rainbow of confetti shot out over me in celebration, I thought about all the places these feet have taken me. Or maybe all the places I have taken them? Through summer rain puddles and green grass as a barefoot child. Through awkward teenage years that I would never want to relive! Through different countries as I expanded my world. Through heartbreak. And admittedly into some places that I never should have gone. I’ve walked myself into situations only to find my feet slipping and sinking into muck and mire, regret and shame, fearing I would never be able to get them clean again.
And that’s the amazing part to me this Easter Sunday. I remember that my Lord and Savior actually washed the feet of those He called friends. After everything they had walked through, and everything Jesus already knew they would do, He knelt down and washed all the dirt away.
So when I look at these feet of mine they are a reminder of everything Jesus has done for me. When they’ve stumbled, He has picked me up. When they’ve wandered, He has guided me home. When they finally got to walk down the aisle, He had picked the one waiting for me at the end. When they were still with sadness, He gave me joy to make them dance. When they’ve hesitated to go into the unknown, He has given me courage to take each small step.

Every Easter I imagine being one of the women in that garden early in the morning. How heavy their feet must have felt as they walked to the tomb where their friend had been laid. But oh how it must have felt like they were flying as they ran to tell everyone the tomb was empty!
So no matter what may happen to my feet, no matter how scarred, bruised or tired they become, or even if I lose all function of them entirely, they will still be beautiful to my God because not only did He die so that they could be made clean, He also lives so that they can bring this good news!
And one day I will bring these feet to stand before Him. These feet… These ordinary, dirty work feet will be made new by the One who still wears the most beautiful holes in His. And I will know every step of my life was meant to bring me home to be with Him forever.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

Happy Easter!

Martinez Wedding

Some of my favorites from Marisa and Anthony’s big day! Thank you for letting me capture your BEAUTIFUL day, and your BEAUTIFUL family! It is an honor to be able to call you family. Marisa, you are the most stunning bride. Perfect. Anthony, the love in your eyes for your wife is amazing.


Ritter/Nusz Wedding

Well Summer is over, and it has been a while since I’ve updated! We’ve been without wifi for a while, but now I’m back in action and finally getting to post pictures from this sweet friend’s wedding in June. Here a few of my favorites. Thank you for making us a part of your day, Alex and Hunter!


Caprock Canyon State Park

Some of my favorite shots from the canyon are obviously of the free-roaming bison! If you follow the progression of photographs, you will notice this one was enjoying a roll in the dirt. It looks playful, but I know they do this for a number of reasons. Yet when he rises… How majestic! How powerful! And when they got too close to our car for comfort, I no longer thought they looked playful! I have massive respect for these amazing creatures.

Mike & Diana & Benny

This smart and handsome couple (from Chicago! Yay for Illinois!) snatched my holiday sale as well as some really cute shots!


It was such a pleasure to meet you two! And of course Benny 🙂
Many blessings and congratulations on your upcoming marriage!

Holiday SALE!

Need a great shot for your Christmas cards this year? Or maybe you want to make personalized gifts? I will come to you! Let me help you capture some holiday memories.

All mini sessions (half hour) AND edited pictures only $50.00!

Sale through the first weekend in December. Set up your appointment now by emailing me! aceortiz17@gmail.com

Watercolor Cards

My first card set went out, and much to my delight, my patron loved them!

I have always enjoyed making cards for people. Whether it was just to let them know they are being thought of, to say thanks, or to give words of encouragement, I think hand written and homemade says, “You are worth my time. You are loved.” 

Who in your life would be encouraged to get a hand written card from you?

October Print Sale!

Thank you for looking! Click on the pictures for pricing and sizing information.

And I apologize to my John Deere lovers! I haven’t had the opportunity to get out into the fields with the green tractors! I’m always looking for the chance, though.


* The sale is for 2 weeks only!  It is easiest for me to print in bulk, therefore I will be taking your orders only through October 11, 2017, and shipping no later than October 16, 2017 to ensure you receive your print in a timely manner.

* Please email me aceortiz17@gmail.com with the picture(s) name, size, and quantity of each.

*Paypal, Venmo, or check


Love is Like a Cactus

Love Is Like A Cactus

(A poem for Lydia on her 6th birthday)


In a fertile Midwest land, the grass grows so green,

And the fields surround me like a hug for miles unseen.

The rain is no stranger, even in the Summer.

It falls like kisses to the land, saturating it in wonder.

Things grow and grow and grow and grow,

Having everything they need.

And it makes me wonder how things grow in deserts

From fragile little seeds?

Plants must be tough in the South,

A different kind of breed-

A little more hardy, a little more enduring, and a little more prickly, too.

For that big sun beats down on the land,

Scorching everything in its view.

Yet somehow the Myrtles flower and the Cactus blooms,

Maybe they reserve what they need in tiny storehouse rooms?

I grew alongside you in our green land dearly missed.

Your hugs were the fields around me, and the Summer rain your little kiss.

And now I think I know how in the hot sun the Cactus still blooms!

It must be love it has stored up in its tiny storehouse room!

Here I may not have your hugs nor on my cheeks your little kiss,

But in the storehouse of my heart is a love enduring all that is missed.



engagement! Bethany & Luis…& Rocky


This fun couple made my job easy! I had a blast capturing all of your beautiful, joyful, and funny moments. Many blessings to you and your future, friends. And you didn’t think I’d forget my favorite outtake, did you?




😀     😀     😀



new season, new work

Moving to a new city and state has been an adventure, but it’s also difficult to start over when it comes to having photography clients. On the positive though, the transition has allowed me some time to keep being creative and to explore a little more with the boundaries I’ve been accustomed to when it comes to painting. I am a realist at heart! I love to capture the natural beauty around me. When it comes to painting in the abstract, I have never had much success (although the word success may not be the best since it is fairly relative, especially when it comes to art).  I could never get my hands to achieve the images I saw in my mind. So this time I tried something new. I allowed my hands to be a little more free from the rule of the right side of my brain, and I tried to let what I felt translate into colors. I am excited to keep stretching myself and see what else may come of it!

Lily. This new painting is an example of my more realistic tendencies.
But this painting is very new territory for me!


I have done nothing to deserve these opportunities in which God shows me what He’s doing in His people around the world, nor do I deserve the very eyes in which I behold it all; but I am ever grateful.

On September 15, 2014 I embarked on a ten day trip to Tactic, Guatemala with a team of 18 people from my church, Harvest Bible Chapel. Every year Harvest sends a team to serve alongside and experience one of the ministries we partner with. This one is called Impact Ministries. I have never admired a ministry so much! To find out what they’re all about, visit http://www.impactministries.ca

It’s utterly useless to try to convey in words all that is in my heart… Maybe because a considerable portion of my heart is still in the mountains of Alta Verapaz. In a short amount of time, this place and the people have secured an indelible place within me, and I have loved them.





Special thanks to: Doug and Kristin Rowland, for being our leaders. Tim and Candy, for putting up with us and leading us well! Hugo and Claudia (and Julie), for keeping us safe, for being so loving, and for the verse. To Les and Rita Peters, who RADIATE Jesus.. so much so that I just wanted to be around you as much as I could! Every time you spoke it was like a motivational speech! Thank you for being so inspiring.. so much like our Lord and Savior. And to the kids, teachers and Church in the Tactic area, I love you and I’m praying for you!



link to see more pictures of our team while in Guatemala- Harvest team

link to read from our blog while there- daily blog


“Depositen en el Señor toda ansiedad, porque él cuida de ustedes.” 1era. Pedro 5:7



Peace: A Eulogy


Just before Jesus was arrested and suffered his crucifixion, an approaching time which He was fully aware of, He spoke of peace to His closest friends. John, being one of His closest, recorded Jesus as telling them this, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives.”

As the world gives…

The Son of God experienced the worst of what this world gives. It gave Him death. Surely, we have that same inheritance. At one point or another, we know death is a part of each of our lives. Yet Jesus spoke of peace.

Family and friends, loved ones of my Uncle Steve, my heart grieves with yours. The truth is, this life is hard. We experience trial and struggle, loss and heartache, pain and disappointment, illness and disease. For this, we can be glad Steve’s body no longer toils here. But for those of us here now, to where do we look for peace?

Beloved, I don’t have any magic words to cease all our sufferings. And though I would if I could, I cannot open our chests to wrap healing hands around our hearts, or mend the fractures and brokenness. Nor can I somehow fill those places of loss that feel like holes in our hearts, as if very pieces of ourselves were missing. No, I cannot do these things. But I know the One who can.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul, in the midst of great hardship, penned this, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Suffering flows over into each of our lives, yet I have in turn experienced a comfort in Christ which overflows. This is what I have to offer to each of you. Allow me to share an experience with you.

Some years ago, while I was away at college, I came to a particularly low point in my life. My heart was broken. I was suffering feelings of loss, loneliness and despair. There I was, broken and in tears, on the floor in the middle of my third story attic room, alone. In my sadness I closed my eyes and began to imagine what might possibly bring me some relief and comfort. I thought of a hug. If I could just get a hug from someone, someone who loves me, to have them close to me, maybe that would bring relief? I imagined hugging my Mom and Dad, yet that brought me no peace. I moved on to imagine embracing my brothers, my sister, my grandparents, a boyfriend, but still my heart found no peace. Then, when I had exhausted all the possible vessels of comfort in my life, without any announcement, suddenly and unexpectedly, a man robed in white came to my side. He knelt down beside me and gently put His arm around me. At that moment, peace flooded over me. It was a peace I had never known before, but was exactly what I was searching for. I found peace, comfort and healing that day in the presence of Jesus Christ.

And this is the same peace He spoke of to His loved ones, and to which He now offers to each of us. Not that He took away all my troubles or His disciples’ hardships, but that He walks through them with us. Though I don’t compare my grief in that time some years ago with the grief you are feeling today, I can assure you of God’s desire to hold you in the midst of it. If He came to me in my time of need, how much more does He long to hold each of us at such a time as this?

Such a time as this…

We may struggle with questions at such a time as this. Questions of why. Questions of doubts and fears. Maybe even questions of resentment or anger. And that’s ok. It is in our difficult times that we discover whether or not we really know God and trust Him. The God I’ve grown to know, mostly through times of turmoil, has taken and is still making good and beautiful things out of the mess, heartbreaks and things that just don’t seem to make sense in my life. And that is my prayer for us in this time. That although we are hurting, God would use this time to draw us closer to Him, and closer to one another in love. My prayer is that we come to know Him, each of us personally, in a way that grows our faith and trust in Him, so that when troubled times come we may have a peace that surpasses all understanding because we know and trust in a good God. A God who is in control, even when our worlds fall apart and things don’t make sense. In Matthew 10 Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father’s will. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Like you, Steve is worth more than many sparrows to God.

May we come to know and trust in the God whose ways and thoughts are not like ours, but are infinitely higher. May we know and trust in the God who loves us and has a plan for each of our lives- to give us hope no matter what this world gives us. The God who looked upon His world, saw pain and a problem that we were helpless to solve on our own, and willingly stepped down into our darkness to be with us. To make the way FOR us. A way that leads to life everlasting, not just after our time here draws to an end,  but for right here and right now. See, the Psalmist David, one who knew God intimately, wrote that, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

He is close, dear ones. Let us call on Him while He is near. That we may be comforted and have peace, as we take our good memories and loving moments we shared with Steve forward with us. That we may be thankful for the time He gives us to share our lives in love with one another, and hopeful to have every tear wiped away by the Lord Himself in Heaven.

Until then, let us seek to know Him now, the One who brings us the good news of peace. For “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.”

May “grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”



*In memory of lost loved ones. Dedicated to my Aunt Peg, Jenny and Jerry, and all Steve’s family.



Found in Winter

I’m ready for the cold
Let the temperature drop
Let the streams slow down
And the rushing waters stop

I’m ready for the cold
Let the winter enfold me
Like snow on the boughs
Blankets the tallest evergreen

I’m ready for the cold
Pack your white around my heart
So that the distance
From me to you ends at the start

I’m ready for the cold
Alone in the field am I
In snowflakes dress me
Cover the lashes of my eyes

..And In the field the animals sleep..
But underneath..

Underneath a warmth glows
flickering embers of red
my heart still beating
tucked away in its snow white bed

I’m found here in the cold
life and passion stir within
Though covered in snow
Here dwells a jewel never to dim

Come find me in the cold
of its chill I have no fear
I’m clothed in scarlet
But who will see me standing here?

Come find me in the cold
the one who has eyes will see
And if eyes be blind
I remain content here, just me

I’m found in the cold
Birds whistle songs from the trees
I can find rest here
Even the rocks will sing with me

..Singing, I am found
I am found
Here in the cold, come find me
I am ready
I am found



Fertile valley and wild hill
Such is the landscape of my heart
Twist and bend and secret place
You who have known me from the start

What faithfulness, what patience
In my small life You have displayed
Kindness reached His hands to me
As brier pushed my heart away

Tangled mass of prickly plants
Or windblown and battered peak
He who called me by my name
Knew in time His heart would I seek

O, what patience

latest commission: Davenport, IA

Recently I received a commission to make a collection of photos to commemorate someone’s time in the city of Davenport, Iowa. Pictures of downtown Davenport have been done.. a lot. However, I’ve never actually photographed the area myself, so I was eager to find a way to take an extensively photographed area and make the pictures my own. For my first efforts and a short window of time to come up with a finished project, I am pleased with how they turned out.


The requirement was black and white images.





“To love beauty is to see light.”  -Victor Hugo





Rhubarb Festival

Just a reminder to find me at the Rhubarb Fest in Aledo, Illinois!  It’s coming up this weekend, June 7th and 8th, and it’s free! I will be set up on Saturday only. I have a few neat new items! Come check them out, and get some pie while you’re at it!

wallet/card tins

Here is a link to the schedule of events:  Aledo Rhubarb Fest 2013

Spring is Here!


 It’s the first day of Spring! The wind still blows from winter’s storehouse, but the sunshine and blue sky say the chill won’t stay for much longer! In celebration of warm weather on the horizon, I wanted to share a $10 of coupon for my book at blurb.com.

It’s a good little book to keep on your coffee table, as you wait out this lion of a Spring! Or if you know anyone who has a birthday or special day coming up (who likes country photography of course), it makes for a unique gift.

Follow the link and enter SHARE10 to receive the discount!


I truly hope you enjoy.

A Sunset Heart

Sunset light…

It bathes in beauty all it touches.

Everything just looks better… More golden.

Yet what qualities revealed by this golden light don’t just spontaneously appear the moment the sun alights from its zenith. The beauty is always there. We just need to see it differently.

What if we looked at one another as if we were each standing in the sunset light?

What if we chose to see the best in others, like a sunset filter were placed over our hearts?

I’m not suggesting we overlook things that are unjust or wrong, or disregard truth. Nor am I suggesting we paint everything this golden hue simply because it’s easier than dealing with our own integrity of character. However, sometimes people achieve great things simply because there was someone who believed they could.

I want to see the best in others. After all, where would I be if I hadn’t been seen through the eyes of grace and mercy? Oh let grace and mercy be my sunset filter.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”         Romans 5:6-8

the field

After the harvest is complete and the land has given of all it bore, the fields are left. Stripped, empty, shaven and shorn down to the scalp. What good things there were have been given freely and lovingly. Now what remains is a barren space, exposed in the raw to the brutality of the winter wind.


Maybe you’ve felt this way before? It would be a falsity to deny ever having found myself in such a condition. I have been those fields. Stripped of all I had to give. Cut and torn down to the bone. What I once gave so freely was now exhausted and unreplenished. What now did I have to offer? I am a desolate wasteland.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. With empty hands I lifted them to the only One who can make something out of nothing. I have nothing, Lord. But I believe my emptiness is another way for you to show me your power, glory, and beauty. What I cannot, you can.

Then the snow falls on the face of the field. When I had my eyes lifted in hopeful expectation, the cold came in a different form. Instead of the wind lashing across its face, the field is now under the full weight of winter. There is nowhere for this field to go. It must sit under cover and wait. Yet in that close space the quiet steals in, almost shocking in contrast to the howling of the winds. It is here, in the close and the quiet, where the Lord is found…Where my ears can hear his gentle voice.

“Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”          Isaiah 43:18,19

In this heavy space I struggled and pleaded. Please lift this from me. But the more I struggled, the less I could see what was really happening, there in that close and quiet place called waiting.

You see, under the snow, the tired field is insulated from the task of the cold wind. Under the snow, the field that was plucked over is now at rest. Without this rest, there would be no replenishment of what it needs to once again spring up.

I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be fruitful and pleasing to my God. For his kingdom and for his glory. Try as I might. Out of desperation I asked what more needed to be done? What do I have to do to be healed and to have a pure heart? Jesus, I said. You did the work on the cross. You said, “It is finished.” So what now?

Then His words broke through my desperation.

“Wait, my child. You are worried and upset about many things, but only One thing is needed.”

Ah. Indeed it was pointed out to me that I was more akin to Martha than Mary in that moment. I had been distracted trying to prepare my own heart and grow my own fruit. It was as useless as the field trying to grow its own crop without the attention and the work of the hand who very first plants the seeds.

So as I waited there, like the fields closed in beneath the snow, I found I was in the best place I could be- stayed in the healing presence of Jesus Christ. He covered me and hid me beneath the shadow of his wing, drawing me close. It is here in His presence, focusing all my heart and mind’s attention on who He is, where true rest and healing is.

In time, as I’m learning to continually dwell in his presence, I’ve been more and more amazed at just how beautiful my God is, and how loving all His ways. My delight is in Him… And what’s this? In our quiet space when I close my eyes, what do I now see? This field, while still cut close to the ground, is NOT dormant. Watch the small green things and little dark berries pop up. Where it was once empty, new life is beginning to emerge. It may not be in full bloom yet, but knowing this field is capable of growing again brings such relief and hope for what is to come. Where there was always joy found in the Lord, now happiness flows once more. My God is growing fruit. He is making streams in the wasteland.

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.     Philippians 2:13

Beauty in the Beholder

Everything in creation has a name. Everything created serves a purpose. Even weeds. In fact, by the very definition, a weed is simply a plant in an undesired place. I have a growing affinity for these so called mislocated plants. When I venture down a road taking in that which lines my path- white Queen Anne’s Lace and blue Bachelor’s Buttons, or behold a field strewn in the rich hue of Goldenrod, I cannot help but praise the Creator for them.

Queen Anne's Lace & Bachelor's Buttons  For He has made everything beautiful in its time..   Ecc 3:11

  I remember the first time I thought to myself, “How good is God that He makes even weeds beautiful?” These plants that seemingly serve no purpose, or in the esteem of some only serve cantankerously, quite undeniably maintain an inherent beauty. I could intimate what this revealed about God- if even in this sin saturated fallen world His beauty and glory are clearly seen, how much greater is He? How much greater the things that await us? But what did this say about us? You see, I identified myself with the weed. Regarded in the lowest esteem, counted or counting myself as good-for-nothing and many times not even counted at all. What do I have that could possibly make a difference in God’s kingdom and in this world? With nothing to offer beside my very self, I considered the weeds before me. They are beautiful, yes. But I am a weed. I am not enough.

Yet this is called Foxtail, and here is Thistle..”

Foxtail Thistle

But in fact, God has arranged the parts of the body, each one of them, just as He wanted them to be.   1 Cor 12:18 

From nature’s perspective, there is no such thing as a weed. It is man who labels it, and the accuser points his finger. One may be labeled as bereft of value or usefulness, but in God’s kingdom all are valuable and all are essential. These weeds grow to a hymn of beauty, and this reminds me of God’s beautiful purpose for me and an unfathomably sacred value in the life He’s given me. In the lives He gives each of us.  What I lack is not important. He will give me what I need. After all, He gave me my name, and I am called by His. No, I cannot give what I don’t have, but what I do have I give it all back to my Maker. I have a heart that belongs to Him. I am His creation. He made me me. He made you you. In vain I have made comparisons to others- a sweet smelling Rose or a mighty Oak- only to come up short every time. Finally I understand, I am not called to be like anyone else other than Jesus Christ. 

So with all that I am and all that I’m not, with everything I have and everything I don’t, I offer this life back into the hands of my Maker. For it is in His hands His purposes will be accomplished. My dependence is on the One who is able and so much stronger than I could ever be. My heart’s focus is tuned to the One who is the Way. Through love and obedience on my part, He will do more with His part than I could even deem possible. And somehow, He will weave this weed’s short life into His beautiful story.

But now this is what the Lord says- He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.                 Isaiah 43:1

Oh the Weather Outside…

…is a blizzard! So it’s a great time to stay in and finish up my latest commission.

Shakespeare’s Botany: a watercolor series


"So we grew together like to a double cherry.."
“So we grew together like to a double cherry..”


:The marigold which goes to bed with the sunAnd with him rises weeping."
:The marigold which goes to bed with the sun
And with him rises weeping.”

My patron is adding the quotes in calligraphy at the bottom of each flower.

So grateful for the work!

28 Autumns

I have seen 28 Autumns in my life. Of course, I have no recollection of the first few. But every year I am amazed and in wonder all over again. The beginning of change:

If this much beauty can be seen now, I can’t even begin to imagine the beauty that awaits. No eye has seen, no ear has heard…

the biggest little rodeo in the midwest

New Windsor Fair & Rodeo * 2012

…cowboys getting ready…

Benny “BJ” Spencer
Benny- a cowboy’s cowboy-  champion bareback rider from Oklahoma
cowboys overlook the action from the shoot as the bull riding begins

Aiden Buster

Thank you, cowboys and cowgirls, for coming to Illinois!

Johnston- Long Grove, IA

During the last week of August I had the privilege of photographing a farm in Long Grove, Iowa that is over a hundred years old. It is a place filled with wonderful things to look at every where I turned! I really enjoyed being on this farm, even while an intimidating horse kept nudging the back of my head while I was trying to compose a shot and a crazy cat kept climbing me like a tree!


Johnston gallery

Orion Fall Festival

It’s the time of year when you can smell Autumn in the air just waiting for Summer to loosen the reigns. That means it’s time for the Orion Fall Festival, one of my favorite times of the year!

I will have an art booth displaying paintings, drawings, and photographs. Plus, I will be promoting “The Farm” by giving away one free lab fee for a farm book and half off a photo shoot! Come by my booth to enter, or email me if you want a chance to win photographs of your farm.

Orion, IL is a pretty drive just outside the Quad Cities. If you’re looking for something fun to do this Labor Day weekend, I hope you’ll join me! Click HERE to see the schedule of events. There is a lot going on, and so much for kids to do, too!

Hope to see you there!

when all is quiet

Early this morning, while it was still and quiet, my sleepy lids lifted just enough to notice the thick white fog outside my window. *I sleep with my blinds partially open for occasions such as this!   I considered going back to sleep, but I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I hopped out of bed, grabbed my camera, and this is what I found:

I had a moment with what I think was a horned owl, too.* I’m no owl expert, so naturally I googled it. I came upon it suddenly. Our eyes locked..I’ve never been that close to an owl before. Its eyes looked like it had lived centuries longer than I have. Unfortunately, as I lifted my camera it flew away. Maybe the moment is more special that way? It was wondrous.

gallery 5 more