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Life out of death, My Easter story – A Peek Through My Window

Twenty years ago today my world changed. I believe my future self was altered that day, as well as countless others.

Two days before my 11th birthday I danced around our 1100 square foot condo, giddy with excitement over my first real boy/girl birthday party. I say “real” because prior to this, parties seemed to be pretty segregated. You know, because boys were weird. And smelled bad.

But in 5th grade, well things started changing. Those boys suddenly didn’t smell so funny anymore and they didn’t look so strange either… dare I say, cute even. My mom rented out our clubhouse and everyone in all the 5th grade classes were invited. There was going to be food, pop music, and most of all…slow dancing. 😉

I was ecstatic.

But as I danced in our living room, rehearsing the moves I would flaunt in just a few short days….I was interrupted.
My mom asked my sister and I to walk to her room. She needed to talk with us.

It was in her bright yellow bedroom sitting on the edge of her king sized bed, that she told us that our 17 year old brother had died of a drug overdose the night before.
I wish I could say I was in touch with what I was feeling in that moment, but, in true Mary fashion, I was lost in a trance. I stared out the window. Confused and partly numb.

I quickly recalled months earlier when I screamed my first swear word at this same big brother who was laying on a bathroom floor with a bottle in his hand..

“Damn it Josh. Get up! Would you just stop this?!”

Partly, in my 10 year old brain, it made sense….him dying. Everything in our life at this point felt like utter chaos. The only thing that felt safe was my mom and the world I imagined for myself. So him dying seemed to go well with the narrative I was beginning to believe.

Life had little hope to offer.

In the hours to follow, I allowed the tears to fall in the privacy of my room. I felt cheated. I recounted the camping trip my brother and I had taken just 6 months prior to this day. It was the most fun I have ever had. “Why do all good things have to end?”I remember thinking.

I honestly don’t remember much about the next 24 hours. I’m sure my mom was doing her best to hold it together as the flowers and meals started pouring in.
But this I do remember. The next evening, My sister and I were screaming choice words at each other, as sisters sometimes do, and we heard a knock on our door.

It was my dad.

So for the record, my dad didn’t knock. When he heard us kids screaming at each other, he either ignored us altogether or came in guns blazing. And I mean blazing.
But he most definitely did not knock. So we were already caught off guard.

He opened the door slightly and then peeked his head over the threshold. “Girls, can I come in?” He then proceeded to walk in and spoke tenderly to us.
I can’t remember what he said in the room that night but I remember vividly asking my mom if he was possessed by an angel.

Yes, I did say possessed. 😉

To be fair, I really did have some great memories with my dad when I was little, looking back, I suppose he was always relatively distant..more like an uncle really..but he wasn’t ever mean…

But then the drinking started.

And it seemed like the last few years leading up to my brother’s death felt more like a movie that you want to turn away from. You know, the cringy kind. The kind that you know nothing good is going to come from it. You almost want to just turn it off because you already know the ending…and it doesn’t end well.

From the outside our family looked like a lost cause. The family you pray for from afar but won’t let your kids hang out with. The family that you use as an example for why your kids need to listen. “You don’t want to end up like those Ames boys.” And, “What will become of those unruly daughters they have?” We had become the victim of every onlookers pity and ridicule.

But God had another story in mind.

The night my brother died, The Lord encountered my dad. I say encounter because I don’t know what other word to use. When you encounter the presence of Jesus, you are changed in a moment. And that’s what happened.

My dad wasn’t the same person after that. It was like he died. But someone else was born into his place. He was filled with joy. Not happiness…but real, tangible joy. And our home was at peace. Maybe for the first time.

In the coming weeks and months after my brother’s death, our world shifted. We were a ship headed for impending destruction, and then, in a moment, the Lord turned the rudder and we missed the rocks that should have torn our ship to pieces.

In what seemed to be the darkest time of our family’s life, God brought life out of death.

It’s been 20 years since that day. And it’s no coincidence that the anniversary of Josh’s death and my dad’s new life in Christ falls on Easter weekend.
Death is painful. There’s no way to get around that. Death permeates the world we live in and desires to steal the very life within us.

But death is not the end of the story.

And God’s redemption of death is not only beautiful, it’s absolutely mind blowing.

Spring reminds us that the dead of winter doesn’t last forever, and that the beauty waiting on the other side is glorious.

Jesus died so that we may live. We die daily so that Christ can fill the empty vessel within our souls with new life.

Oh Lord,
On this Easter weekend, let me not just remember all that you have done for me and for my family but also to be filled with hope as I look to the future.

You make all things beautiful.

You alone, are the author of life.

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  • Ashley BarrettApril 19, 2019 - 2:57 pm

    Mary thank you for your courage in sharing this story. ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Terry tomberlinApril 19, 2019 - 3:50 pm

    Mary,I would not be who I am today had tjis not taken place!Bless you and your entire family,I love you all. Happy EasterReplyCancel

  • CelestielApril 19, 2019 - 5:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing your heart. What a beautiful , painful testimony.ReplyCancel

  • RebekahApril 19, 2019 - 7:20 pm

    I love how our heavenly father takes ashes and turns them into a beautiful story of redemption.!ReplyCancel

  • TinaApril 19, 2019 - 9:44 pm

    Absolutely Breathtaking 💔💞💞ReplyCancel

  • Ginny millerApril 20, 2019 - 12:45 am

    Mary, I remember those days.  What  a Holy time.. I AGREE THAT  EASTER WAS AN APPROPRIATE TIME… Joshua was special.  
    We love all the Ames forever.   ReplyCancel

Snuggly Babies- Newborn Kansas City Photographer

Guys, I cant even.

These babies are giving me some intense baby fever. I think my husband may start banning me from photographing babies because I keep hinting to him how amazing it is to snuggle babies again.. With my youngest being 6, newborn life is starting to feel a little more removed.  😭 .

Thankfully though, I am never in short supply of newborns to snuggle.

Newborn Photography, Kansas City Photographer

If you are interested in booking a newborn session in the Kansas City area, and want to see a bit more of my work, click below to see more galleries of my newborn sessions:


(OR you may just be needing to see some adorable pictures of babies because, like me, your kids are growing up WAY too fast and you just need need a reminder of how ITTY BITTY they used to be!!!   😩 )




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Summertime Craziness- Kansas City Lifestyle Photographer- A Peek Through My Window

Summertime brings out the crazy in everyone around here!  My tribe (ME INCLUDED) thrive on routine.  Blame it on my ADD, but I need very clear boundaries with my time or else I just end up wandering around my house all day and never actually get ANYTHING done. Can anyone relate?! 😉

So when summer hits and all consistency and routine is out the window, we go into survival mode!  I do my best to try to keep a “normal” schedule (normal is verryyy relative…haha) but on some days I just have to let them let loose and be their primitive, crazy selves. haha 🙂

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Oh the places you will go – Overland Park Children’s Photographer – A Peek Through My Window

I seriously CANNOT believe that my oldest will be in MIDDLE SCHOOL this coming fall!!!  😉  That just blows my mind!!!!

I want SO many things for her. To be bold, yet full of kindness. To be brave, but also full of wisdom. To stand up for what she believes,  and all the while being teachable and humble.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the “fruit” in our children’s lives while their still growing up.  It just looks like a lot of dirt and mud and you wonder if there is really anything growing under that soil.  But one day you will start to see new growth pop up out of that barren ground. And it will give you hope, so much hope…that one day that child will grow up to be a tree with fruit on every branch and her abundant fruit will bless so many in this life. And her branches will provide shade and comfort to many a weary traveler.  And when the storms come, and they will come….that beautiful tree will blow in the wind with elegant grace, but all who look on her will not fear for her, knowing that her roots go deep and her branches are strong.

I remind myself to not despise the small beginnings, because every mighty oak tree started as a seed.

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JoJo steals the show- Leawood Baby Photographer – Kansas City Children’s Photographer

One of my favorite people and lifelong friends came to visit for the weekend and brought along her new little peanut- JoJo.  😉  I never got to take her newborn pictures so I made sure not to miss the opportunity to take some pictures of her before she was huge and going off to college!!!  But seriously though, it happens SO dang fast!!!

Her expressions made me laugh so hard! It’s amazing how even though they are SO itty bitty they can still have such HUGE personalities!

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