Lane Andrew Boicelli 3/12/19

Sometimes you never think that the things you hope for will happen. My friend, Cathy and I have always talked about photography as it is a common passion we both have. Back when I started she and I would joke that if she ever had another baby I wanted to be right in the middle of her birth experience with my camera ready. It of course was a joke but little did I know that our joking would come to pass with her getting pregnant. That I would be prepared in my photography journey to document the birth. So as the count down began I had been prepared for the call since the end of February. Checking in once a week and watching her progress. So when I checked in earlier this week I was excited that she was preparing to be induced if progress had stalled. I checked in with her at 9am on Tuesday and they had just checked-in at Sutter-Roseville. She said she would check back with me in 30 minutes. Inductions normally take some time so I waited to check back in about 10 am.

I got no response from her via text. When I finally got a hold of Brandon at 11:15am he informed me that the baby had already arrived. I had missed the birth…so I jumped in the car and headed to Roseville to capture the rest of the day. Lane is a sweet baby with blond hair and the sweetest disposition. He is a momma’s boy although he calms right down at the sound of his daddy’s voice. He was alert and never once took his eyes off Cathy. He has a big brother, who was cautious at first but before too long was wanting to hold him and a big sister who I believe will nurture and care for him in ways only a big sister can. Lane will have a host of family and friends that will love and care for him always and forever.

Welcome to the world Lane Andrew Boicelli. I am so thankful to celebrate your arrival with your family.

Creation has always been the thing that connects me to the Lord. Since starting to do birth photography it has always been my desire to capture the first sunrise and the first sunset on the day that a baby comes into the world. Sometimes it happens sometimes it doesn’t…God was faithful to provide the opportunity on the day that would be Lane’s birthday.

Righteousness will go before Him to prepare the way for His steps. Psalm 85:13

For now that is enough...

I’ve been away from my blog since before Christmas. Most days are filled with job responsibilities and regular household chores there is something in me that seems different not all together me. I keep thinking that things will get back to how they always were. That life as I’ve known it good or bad will return, and all will feel normal. Then I realize my life isn’t normal. It will never look like it did. My life will never have Evan in the spaces he usually occupied. EVER. I go back to those spaces hoping to find him…to sense his presence. It’s hard to describe to people how your mind works after your child has gone. I look at photos and think to myself it feels like he is here. But there is such an emptiness. There is such emptiness in the spaces he once inhabited. There is an emptiness in the world since he left. My words feel hollow…without real form or bones to help them take shape. I was driving this morning, and I had this feeling of everything continues, but yet my heart wants to go backward. I want to recapture what once was and bring it into the future to live with me here. I want Evan to come home. I’m learning to navigate the parts of me that are healing and the parts that are gaping wounds. I’m trying to find and listen to my voice and yet I want to be a voice for my son too so that he is not forgotten. Saturday mark many anniversaries-it’s my Dad’s 2nd birthday in Heaven. It also is 822 days since Evan was taken off life support to give life to 5 others. As I've walked out my journey, I also realize many parents/siblings that are walking out the same feelings, anniversaries, the same emptiness, the same longing that our family has. I say this for understanding. That I can bring you along with me as a conscientious/thoughtful/ observer.

To be mindful that we miss our person(s). That we want to hear their name. That you can't stop our pain. (IT WILL BE FOREVER) That we're not stuck. We are living each moment of each day with a wound that is healing but will always be there for us. Even if you can't see it. That you can show us love by sharing stories about our person. We're doing our best, and sometimes that may not be enough. For now, my soul is healing along with the soul of our family, and that is enough.

Cornhole for Cole

I spent Sunday, April 29th, at The Coleman Christensen Memorial Cornhole Tournament and Fundraiser in Winters. The proceeds of which will go to benefit a scholarship in Cole’s name and projects at Vacaville High School. Coleman, a Vaca High graduate, avid sportsman and hunter, son, brother and Daddy...died unexpectedly in February of 2016. He was dearly loved by all who knew him and was always full of life and energy. I had so much fun and it was so nice to see young and old alike come out to support The Christensen’s, Haylie and Colebie.

The tournament started with 64 teams who then competed in single elimination rounds until the final winner was announced. This event really showed so much of Cole's spirit...love of family, laughter, and community...oh, yes and competition. lol... 

 It looks like this will be an annual event so watch for more details. You can follow CornHoleforCole on Instagram to keep up to date on this fun event. Enjoy a glimpse of the event in this photo gallery!!

The Gift of a Family Through Adoption

Just about a week ago I had the unique opportunity to capture the adoption proceedings for a new friend. This particular adoption was unique in that the family of the adopted child was part of the process and it was something I have always wanted to participate in. The adopting family, The Hemsley's, have two biological children and now with this adoption, they have three adoptive children two of which are siblings. The whole family took an oath of commitment and it truly was an awesome experience. 

One of the sweetest parts for me...well there were a few really...was that UC Davis has this program called Princess Pals at UC Davis check them out on Facebook. These are undergrad med students who dress up and attend special events for kiddos. I've posted the Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/PrincessPalsUCD/

The other sweet thing is that Renee Hemsley, Executive Director, of https://www.hopes-anchor-inc.org/about which is a group that Encourage, Equip, Educate, Engage the Foster and Adoptive communities in Yolo County. She is passionate and fully engaged. Putting hands and feet to the needs of foster and adoptive families. It was a blessing and honor to serve their family as they do what they are called to do. Yolo County has been doing some great things and I'm grateful for my connections in this community.   

Lastly, what made this extra special for me is that this all happened on the day that would have marked my Dad's 89th birthday. It was pretty amazing!!

Tuesday's Child is full of Grace.....Ily Anice Shorter 10/17/17

I had the privilege of photographing the birth of Miss Ily Anice Shorter today. Her momma started labor on Monday the 16th and progressed slowly until about 8:07am today, Tuesday the 17th. At which point progression only had gone to 5.5cm. Suddenly though there was a need to push and her water broke and she went from 5.5cm to delivering Ily at 8:26am. It was amazing and crazy and beautiful. Lori and Jason were the best team..with Jason winning the "Best Doula" award in my opinion. He was calm, loving and the best coach ever. Lori allowed us into a space that is normally reserved for just the parents and the medical staff. It was an honor to be a part of such a intimate experience and to share this moment with both of Ily's grandmothers. Ily was named by her brother Zeke who I might add was so loving and tender when he met his sweet sister today. the wonder, tenderness and kindness he showed to his Momma, Daddy and sister made me cry. I also found out today that she shares a birthday with her Uncle on her mother's side and a great-great grandmother on her father's side. 

I'm sure your folks can't wait to tell the story of the day you were born. It was a lovely one to say the least!

Happy Birthday, Ily!! You are so loved by your family.

 

 

Road Noise

As I continue down the road of grief I am struck by the things that take me from such great joy to weepy tears. I'm not even sure how to quantify it or give it a number on a scale. I spend a lot of time reading and listening to books. As I've shared in other posts I am listening to a book on Heaven and a book on waiting. Both of these areas in my life have been a struggle. Kinda like that kid that wants to be president at the place that they work even before they learn how to count back change at the register.  As I've said in previous blogs Heaven has always been abstract to me and because my faith points me to Jesus and the bible I don't really want to speculate about it. I want to know what the bible says as that is foundational...my center. On top of reading/listening to many books I am attending a faith-based small group on grief called Grief Share.  All these things keep me a float...keep me moving...processing. They keep me reaching out to grasp what is really not something you can grasp. So what it does is give me strength. It gives me Faith to look beyond what I can see and it gives me Hope that what I think and believe are Truth and that at some point it will bring peace and understanding. 

Roads are a funny thing. I've spent most of the summer on the road either on the east coast or west coast but always on the road. I went on a road trip this last weekend and we had times on this trip where the highway was smoothly paved. The road noise was minimal. You could hear the stereo in the car without having to crank it up and the skies were clear....smooth sailing so to speak. We then had places where the road was so rough from years of weather and chains from vehicles that you could not even hear yourself think. You couldn't hear the radio. You couldn't even have a conversation as the noise in the car was so loud and storms that nearly blinded you as you drove down country roads in the dark. Sometimes you turn down a road that you think is the right one and all of a sudden you are at a dead end. You make a plan that you are going to leave at a certain time. You stop just to get food and go to the bathroom no extra stops just to realize it took you about the same amount of time as it did when you enjoyed the journey. Stopped and looked at the sights. Made memories and took your time.

I share all of this because grief is very similar to the road trips I've been on and to be perfectly honest life is this way as well. It takes me to places I didn't want to go. Sometimes I enjoy where I'm going and the effects of it leave me refreshed and my burden is lightened. Sometimes the noise is so loud I can't hear what is being said to me and I zone out. Sometimes I just want to get home...to do it my way. I forget about all the beauty that is around me and if I had just stopped...walked around...and practiced pondering I would have gotten home in just the right amount of time and enjoyed the journey.

Evan, we love and miss you so very much. Every memory is bittersweet and filled with the what if's and why not's. As I travel this road I hope to have less of those questions but for now...It is September and that means that you have been gone 10 months....but really it is for eternity.    e·ter·ni·ty  əˈtərnədē/ ~  noun ~ infinite or unending time. 

http://www.visitcalifornia.com/attraction/sundial-bridge

https://www.amazon.com/Real-Heaven-What-Bible-Actually/dp/0801016134 

https://www.amazon.com/Wait-See-Finding-Peace-Pauses/dp/0781413559

http://albanycarousel.com

Watching a wedding through the eyes of our son.

The day after our 27th wedding anniversary in July we had the honor of helping with and celebrating a dear family friend wed his beloved. It was fun, it was emotional, and it felt like family. It started days earlier for me and several other friends as we helped to prepare for this event. I am always so impressed with when a call goes out for helping hands that the Lord always provides what is needed. From prepping flowers, to gathering ice for the beverages...everyone came together and it made for a happy and joyous day for our friends. 

We have known Brock for most of his life as he and my son Alex have been on the soccer field from the time they were in elementary school. So many great memories of days gone by shuffling Alex, Brock and a bunch of their buddies to soccer games and school functions. It was a great day for all who joined and we are grateful to have been included. 

One of the most precious moment...was watching Brock and his brothers. Brock is the youngest of three and their love for each other and their parents really is a testament to them as a family. I had the privilege to watch this wedding through the eyes of my son Alex. I know in some ways it was melancholy for him as he must wonder about his own wedding and what will that look like for him. I can't speak to what he was feeling or thinking but I pray that the memories and love that he and Evan shared will be enough to sustain him when he does walk through the many life events he will experience. That the love of our family will keep him upright and looking forward. That the friends and relationships that have been the cornerstone of our lives will be what give him courage and strength.

For now I'm grateful for the tribe that God has given us and I am thankful to have shared just a small part of the journey that Brock and Kiana will venture down. So much love coming your way...The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

 

We love you and Best Wishes!!

Hiding in the Cave.

Tonight our family had the honor of watching my son, from another mother, preach his first message. It was from Psalm 57 about David hiding in a cave to escape as his enemies pressed in from all sides. So much truth in all that you expressed tonight. We are so proud of you and how you are walking out your calling. I share in your suffering just as you have shared in ours. I loved the truth you spoke of when you said when you are in the cave...lean into the Lord. He is there. Love that so much. 

As it says in Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." I'm glad that Evan is a part of that cloud of witnesses. So very proud of you and for now I will rest in the cave. We love you all so much and pray always for you. 

P.S. Get to church y'all!!!

The Places You Will Go........

Last week was filled with much celebrating as many friends that I know had their children graduating. There was a variety of ages as we had the future Class of 2029 graduate from kindergarten and the next generation of young adults graduating from high school, the Class of 2017. In between these two graduations I also was a part of a 6th grade promotion ceremony.  It was a weekend filled with bittersweet memories and just a few tears as friends and family gathered to cheer their graduates on to the next chapter of their lives. To the families who I had the pleasure to capture these moments for you...Thank you! I've loved that you have included me in your journey. I wish you a summer full of new adventures and fabulous memories.

I love this quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt.....The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. 

Congratulations and Best Wishes!! Go live your dreams!!!

Snapshots and Memories.....

Today as I do every day I'm always looking...watching to see what the Lord has for me. Sometimes it's something very small. Sometimes it's more of a feeling or a calm that comes to me in the midst of a crazy day filled with busyness. The thing that I find so comforting is that there is always something. This last weekend has been filled with running. Graduations, proms, parades, celebrations and BBQ's. As I've moved through all of these "life" events I was amazed at how often you came to mind, Evan. It was as if you traveled with me to all of these events. If you had been here I know you probably would have had your own things that you would have done. You wouldn't have gone to all of the same things I did but the great thing about now is that you're ever present with me. Even in places that you wouldn't normally be. As I stepped on to the field to watch the graduation of a dear friend from Vacaville Christian Schools; I couldn't help but sense....the senior sunrise and all of the other things that I was so privileged as your mom to experience with you. How lucky I am that I was available to be in those moment with you and Alex. So thankful for your Dad who has always allowed me such freedom to be fully engaged with you guys as you were growing up. To walk along the pathway were your name is forever placed with your class. It was a bundle of emotions and tears but Jesus met me and carried me. He placed me in the path of those who knew you and had fond memories of you. It was a great comfort.

From there to kick off the Memorial Day holiday with the Fiesta Day Parade.....again not someplace you would have hung out with me but I saw and connected with so many people and in those moments of connection and friendship I saw you there. I can remember so many parades you would have been marching for band at VCS and I would walk along with the group screaming and yelling. Such great memories....I treasure them...holding them so tightly. I went from the parade to Prom to photograph some of the seniors as they embarked on their last formal gathering before graduation. It was filled with silly traditions and beautiful guys and gals and it brought about such feelings of nostalgia for me that I thought my breath would catch. So many great memories I have from your high school season....limo rides....gathering of friends...laughter that was heard through out. It was rather melancholy. I was glad that Dad took me out for dinner at Mikunis so I didn't spend too much time in my head. 

One thing that is always certain with you and Alex is that when it comes to family you always are present. This weekend was no different. On Sunday we celebrated your cousin's graduation from high school. Interestingly when I looked up to see people arriving I thought for a split second that I saw you....same hair color...same facial hair...even a shirt the same color as you had but to my great disappointment it was not you. It caught me for a moment and in the hope that others not deem me crazy....it was only my mind taking me to places that it often does only to slam me back to the world in which I am here and you are not. I like for just that brief time to believe....to be in that moment of thinking maybe....... After we got home I went out driving as that is always when I find the most beautiful things...just before sunrise or sunset. Earlier this month Alex took me out to see the sunflowers and although they hadn't bloomed they had sprouted. I was checking on them to see their progress. Just a few more weeks and they will be ready.

Monday was a day of remembering...Memorial Day. We went to see grandpa at the cemetery and I can't help that when I go see him that a piece of you is also with him. The services at the cemetery were lovely...moving...honoring and I'm grateful for all who gave their lives for our freedom. So many emotions as I thought of my dad and really thought a lot about you. I think of so many similarities between you and my dad. As I come to the end of this month I am really filled with a lot of emotion. I've cried so many tears and I don't really see an end to that anytime soon. I keep them in check more...the world is not ready for all this emotion...when tears are tied to sadness and grief there isn't much room for that in this world.  So for now I will continue to be looking...watching....and waiting for the God of comfort to give me purpose in my pain. 

Justin | Class of 2017 | VHS

How can it be Justin that you are going to be graduating!?!?!? but alas time does not stand still as much as I would love for it to. I remember when your family first arrived in Vacaville and driving all of you around to help find housing as your family was moving from the Redding area to Vacaville. We have spent many days riding around since those early days and I am thankful to have been able to watch you grow and mature into the kind of person who values relationships and family. We had the best time running around the Sacramento....from the Capitol to Tower Bridge...doing Senior photos. I'm so glad Hannah came with us and that we could spend these precious moments together before you enter college.

I can't wait to do prom photos next week....Justin I am so proud of you...and all that the future holds as you embark on the next chapter on your journey. I love you and best wishes!!! 

Gwen Turns One.

Little Gwen was one of my Fresh 48's that I did in 2016. Her momma was a trooper as she labored many hours before this princess decided it was time to arrive on the scene. I was so impressed that both Natalie and Aaron seemed at ease during the first few hours after Gwen's arrival. I was thankful for a healthy birth and for two parents who I knew would be all about parenting this little. Fast forward to this year and time has gone full speed ahead and Gwen will be turning one in May. Thank you~Aaron and Natalie for including me in this special family event. There is nothing more special then seeing one of the newborns you photographed turn ONE!! 

Sharing her story from long ago.....

Just a few week ago I was invited to come to Napa to hear the parent of a dear friend give a talk about being a holocaust survivor. I've known this family for well over 20 years but I had never heard this story in its entirety. We joined them and for our first time heard her tell the story. These snapshots are what I captured during The Holocaust Remembrance Day, Beit Abba at The Father's House in Napa. Nadine Sacha http://artistsacha.com is an artist and was originally from Paris, France but now resides in San Francisco. Her story of survival was moving and I'm so glad to have been able to hear it. She has written a book that you can read more about her story.  http://artistsacha.com/my-book/

Cameron James Binion March 14, 2017

When Jennifer posted her 39 week photo the weekend before Cameron decided he was on his way, I sent her a message to keep me posted as to her progress after a stress test. When I didn't hear from her I knew she was in the middle of induction so I just waited...I touched base with her mom and finally Cameron was delivered on the 14th and I was able to go see them the next day to capture these Fresh 48's for them. Congratulations to Clell and Jennifer on the healthy deliver of this sweet boy. Oh my how I love newborns.  

The Greatest Generation lost one of their own in February.

On the last day of February our family said goodbye to my Dad...Harold Dyson Rutter, Jr. He passed away on Sunday, February 12, 2016 at the age of 88 years old, surrounded by loved ones, at his home in Fort Mill, SC.

He was born in Altoona, Pa. on February 9, 1929 to Harold Dyson Rutter, Sr. and Clair Helen (Croyle) Rutter.  He was the first-born son of four children to whom he was very close.  His oldest sister Joyce Arlene (Rutter) Shiplett lives in Kingston, PA; and youngest brother Gene Rutter lives in Raleigh, NC. His youngest sister, Edris (Rutter) Colyer, precedes him in death.

Harold never met a stranger he didn’t like, was a seeker of information, a treasure trove of knowledge and was always ready with a hug or time for a conversation. Upon graduating from Altoona High School, he volunteered and was accepted to the US Navy during WWII for the Submarine Service.  He felt fortunate to serve on three different submarines, the USS Corsair SS435, the USS Trumptfish SS425, and a captured German U-Boat, USS Ex-U2513. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-2513  

He served on the USS EX U-2513

He served on the USS EX U-2513

Following his honorable discharge from the service he attended Penn State University and worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was during this time that he met and married the love of his life Dorla Rose Albright on May 26, 1956 in Winchester, VA. They both enjoyed playing card games, dancing, singing, Mexican train and their family.

International Business Machines (IBM) employed him from 1959 until 1991. During his time with IBM he worked in both New York and Virginia but spent a majority of his career in San Jose, CA as an engineer.  Following retirement and years of global travel, he and Dorla moved to Fort Mill, SC where they made great connections in the American Legion, the VFW in Fort Mill, the Fort Mill Moose Lodge and the Carolina Piedmont Submarine Veterans Base. These organizations of caring peers continued to be a part of his life especially as his health began to fail.

He is survived by his wife, Dorla Rutter, his children; John Hammel and wife Jean of Lake Wylie, SC; Tom Hammel and his wife, Debra of Benson, AZ; Randy Rutter of San Jose, CA.; Dawn Kincade and husband, John of Vacaville, CA. and Shawn Rutter and his wife, Rebecca of Charlotte, NC.  Harold’s family has extended to 14 grandchildren and countless great grandchildren. His grandson, Evan Kincade of Vacaville, CA. precedes him in death.

I want to thank my Uncle Gene Rutter for all that he did as he officiated, organized and helped us honor our Dad in a way that was traditional but also showed the fun, adventurous and loving man that he was and will always be to those who loved him.

We love you, Dad. Thank you for the love that you gave so freely to all who knew you and for your service to our country.

 

 

The World as I see it as I Welcome 2017 and Say Good-bye to 2016

As our family wraps up 2016 and moves into the new year it would not be complete if we didn't take a moment to thank all of you for your thoughts, prayers, cards, emails, texts and most of all your love towards us. This community that God has given us has truly been a life line for us.  Losing Evan has been one of the hardest things our family has experienced and we want you to know that you have been a great source of light and hope for us. 

During the holidays we tried to create new memories while clinging to old traditions as we have faced many firsts already without our son and brother. It was difficult to not have Evan with us during this time of year as it has always been a time that we have gathered to celebrate. Although we tried hard to enjoy the company of family and friends something of course was missing and that something was Evan. Oddly for me when fun was involved and I was in the throughs of laugher or singing loudly or dancing to awesome 70's hits.....a sadness invaded me and tears would begin to fall. I felt a touch of guilt that Evan would not be here on this earth laughing, singing loudly and dancing and that brought sadness to me.

Many will say...he is dancing in heaven...yes I know and maybe in the future when I have wrestled with my feelings of loss maybe I will have the strength to look death in the face and not cry foul....but the reality is he is not here and heaven although real....is abstract to me and selfishly, I want to have him here......to hear his laughter...listen to him sing loudly and dance. The struggle is real for me as when I write this what does it say about my faith...what does it say about my heart....This is just my world and honestly, I just told my family last night...I get inside my head when this happens and it just isn't good......all this while tears are streaming down my face.....I'm glad that God is big enough for these things that I ponder and that he has provided me with a husband and son that are trying their best to love me while their hearts are breaking too.

As I move into this New Year somewhat reluctantly I would like to extent to you all the hope and joy that the New Year brings. We pray that you live each moment of each day with love in your heart. Enjoy those you love....As for me I am expectant to what the Lord is showing and teaching me in this season...I know that I am looking to be more intentional in 2017. Making every moment count....

".....Cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder".  

                                                               Romans 12:12 MSG

Our last family photo taken in Napa for my birthday. 

Our last family photo taken in Napa for my birthday. 

Snapshots from the first week of January 2017

God is in the every day.....be present.

I have been out sorts since about the third of November. As I look back over the last 45 days I'm trying hard to remember some of the everyday things that I stopped and photographed. On the 4th of November 2016 my life and the life of my family was changed forever. At 3:22am we were woken up to the sound of brisk knocking at our front door. When I looked through the shutters I saw two officers and realized that this could not be good news. Unfortunately it was not.....they told me that Evan had been in an accident and they needed us to come to Kaiser hospital. I woke up my husband and my son and we made our way to the hospital. I honestly don't remember much but some of the things I do remember is waiting what seemed like a life time before we saw Evan. I remember the strength with a bit of apprehension that my husband and my son displayed that day and through out our time in the hospital....and I remember how quiet it was...on the drive over...in the waiting room as we waited to see Evan. It was almost as if the Lord was putting a blanket over us....a tangible protection so to speak....so that we did not get to far ahead of ourselves. Anybody that knows me knows that (in my mind) I can go to places no one has gone before but on this day I was under the protection of the Lord who knows and sees all that is going on and I had great Hope about what was before us. Now....does that mean I was not scared...no I was totally scared. Was I not worried...OF COURSE I was worried but what I'm saying is even in the midst of being scared and worried....there was calm....quiet....a presence that only God can bring....from the moment I was woken up by the knock at the door and that has remained with me even now. 

The following moments...hours...days...weeks and now one month from Evan's passing have been a blur. So much love has been poured out on us from all over the planet. We have gotten over 300+ cards, along with emails, Facebook messages, meals, flowers...lots of flowers, more meals, hugs, words of encouragement and the list is endless as to the gifts and love that have poured our way. Really to say thank you seems so small for what has been given to us. I don't want to give this illusion that everyday has been rainbows and unicorns. It is not...I have lived in this community for over 27 years and there isn't one place that doesn't remind me of Evan....I cry frequently in public and in private.....but in that I also feel that presence that came to me that first moment when the knocking came at the front door. I hope in weeks to come to chat more about this journey as I've tried to express some of the things I believe the Lord has placed on my heart regarding loss, relationships, investing in people, and walking out our faith in the midst of great loss and tragedy. I hope to take what God shows me through the every day and move it out so that we can pondering together the beauty that surrounds us. I also want to take some of my son's writings and pair them with my photography to create a beautiful blending of two creatives using what has be placed in us to shine a light and send a smile.

To all of you who have walked with us....We love you. You're our tribe and you will never know what a blessing you have been to us. To those of you who know Evan I ask you to not forget. You carry a small piece of him with you and whether he would admit it or not that piece...that love...was Jesus. Love Well...Care often....Don't be afraid to be a zookeeper. 

Daniel Graves ~ 11/14/15 A Year Full of Milestones.

Daniel is celebrating turning a year old next month, one of many milestones he has reach this year. His parents wanted to capture this moment with a few photos that we took last week at the http://www.coolpatchpumpkins.com/

Daniel was just recently diagnosed with cerebal palsy and is working on fine motor skills. We used his chair to help him with sitting up and placed him in among the pumpkins.  He is so engaging, loves and responds to both Sarah and Jason with smiles. He needs glasses so that he can see details and I think he looks so cute with them. He and I giggled and had the best time together during this photo session.

Sarah shared with our church just recently about her birth experience and the struggles that Daniel is facing as a result. Sarah and Jason are so sweet with Daniel and he is so very precious. I've included their testimony with these sweet photo of Daniel. 

https://www.facebook.com/VCVacaville/videos/1316403748377872/

Thanks Jason, Sarah and Daniel for sharing this part of your journey with me and allowing me to photograph the love you all have for each other. It was a privilege. 

Celebrating a great accomplishment with my other family.....

Recently I had the privilege to accompany a dear friend from grade school and her family to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. We've been a part of each others families since 6th grade and have stayed in touch for the last 40 years. Nadine and I have been through a lot together.....it seems that as each was going through a season the other was either on the other side or just beginning....we've watched our kids grow up and now I am watching her kids become parents. What a great honor to be included with her family and the nation for this historic event.  Nadine's sister, Dr. Renee S. Anderson, is the Head of Collections for the museum and has spent count less hours, days, weeks and years preparing for this museum and grand opening. As family, friends and community leaders came together on that Friday in September we were one of the first of many groups of visitors that would visit this beautiful museum.  I was in awe of the attention to detail that was not spared;  to the detail of the building, to the quotes that were used through out and every piece of clothing and art that was displayed. Not only was it beautiful, rich and sobering.... it was a gift to be included and to share this moment with my friend and her family.

Nadine and I were raise in Va. during the early 70's when friendships like ours were not necessarily easy. Many people were not open to crossing racial boundary but despite the world around us we became fast friends and some of our most treasured and trusted moments have been spent together. To be able to go to this museum with her and her family was very special. I am grateful to have been able to share it with her. The accomplishments made by Renee have been such a source of pride for Nadine's family and to see Nadine as a proud older sister was awesome. 

When we toured the museum it was still a week before the "Grand Opening" and many of the exhibits had not been completed. It still made a big impact on all of us and to walk around with Nadine's mother and see it through her eyes was really amazing. It was difficult for Nadine and early on in the tour she had to step away...we talked about it later the next day and it still was difficult for her to express how deep her feelings were for her people and the harshness and brutality they experienced. My hope is to go back with Nadine and her kids to experience the museum with them now that it is completed. 

These are a few of the photos from our time at the museum with her family. I have included a link to the website for the museum here:  https://nmaahc.si.edu  A special thanks to, Dr. Renee S. (Jackson) Anderson for her hard work as Head of Collections and for sharing such a beautiful piece of history with us and the world.