love speaks silently...and smoked almonds leave oil stains...:)

totally...no disrespect....


i went on a brief shopping trip with my mom yesterday and bought the most mismatched, but most comfiest pair of pajama leggings and shirt that i could find.  


i needed to treat myself.  ( i understand how sad this sounds!)

i wore them today until about...ummm...3pm. 

i showered, went to my meeting and came home to put them directly back on. 

i've eaten a few small meals, but mostly snacks with them on. 

coffee...(that counts as meal a right?) and smoked almonds. 

i've slept (yes slept into well past 9:30 or wa sit 10:30???...i was up until 2am editing!)  i did  edited, had a meeting, and then had a a dinner of almonds -smoked.  

i just looked down...(to my every growing un-bra'ed chest) - sorry people...i'm raw. 

it looked like i was a nursing home patient in need of a bib!!!

what the wha wha????

again, no disrespect. 


i've just lived through loving and losing a man who lost his dignity to a degree...


but me? 

what is my excuse?

overworked?

hungry?

lost?

sad?


 

ok, yes all of them.   


my new mismatched jammies get thrown into the wash tomorrow.

 

but until then, my mind has been swirling. 

i'm not sure i have a lot to say, but i have alot that i have observed:


 

love speaks silently. 

not with looks touches or words...but with actions. 

actions and pre-meditated thoughts of covering your spouse with care and love, even right before your "i do's" are muttered.

love speaks with preserved intimacy. 

asking others to leave in last moments of life..to be alone with your love...your spouse...

looking intensely and searching into your mate's eyes for understanding and reassurance....in last  moments. 

not taking your last breath until it is best (because you love her and know what is best for her), until she has momentarily stepped away from your bedside....

committing two families to be one...forever...and trusting those you love most to fulfill those wishes. 

speaking i love you's and wisdom to those you love most...even when it is dang stinking hard...


so truth... does not be left unsaid. 

and neither does living again...after the viewing, burial and days to come after....

all of this is silent love.  silent, but STRONG, and truthful love. 

this kind of love, forgive me, SUCKS like H. E. double hockey sticks (as my beloved 7th & 8th grade history teacher, Mr. Kim Gallagher shared with us).

walking into a house without HIM there...makes me weep. 

thinking of how i loved him...makes me bawl.

seeing things that would have hurt his feelings or pride, makes me wince, try, and yes, again...cry.

but seeing my strong momma...

spending time with her, 

hearing her wisdom, 

sharing her pain, 

trying to work out these feelings..

working on solutions, 

introducing her back into LIFE, not caring for someone, except Jesus, to BRING life...

it is NEW...

a bit happy...

and yes, joy is found there - here.


my comfy pajama top, embarrassing, i'm still wearing,  is still not looking like ME.

but it will wash. 

my heart is still struggling, not feeling like me, but it will strengthen and grow...

and even in these worst of times, i feel strength and hope.

i KNOW, only given from my heavenly father...

yes, life will find New again..hope, joy, trust and love.

it's just a matter of hanging in there...

praying...

and trusting.

"But blessed is the man who trusts God, the woman who sticks with God. They're like trees planted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers - Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season. " _Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the day after. loss..hope...living..thanks...

 today is the day they talk about.

the day after the friends come and pay their respects and the services are done. 

i've been in the prescence of heaven's gates opening for "a soldier coming home."

i've seen, watched and heard things that i wish i hadn't and they have changed me forever.

but again, it's ok.

my family has been poured into, prayed for, loved on, and has been blessed with an abundance that leaves us speechless (well, except me ::)

emotions, places, people, age, life experiences, and the fact that i have my mom's heart on my mind and in my heart...it is all different. 

but its ok today.

i've learned an abundance over the past few weeks.

today's the day that "normalcy" is supposed to begin...or at least try to. 

things won't be "normal" for a very long time.

and yes, that is ok too. 

 

there are so many things to share....

so many things i want to shout from the mountaintops...but then again, hold closely & privately to my heart...

in the raw, truthful, only way i know how to say it, i want to tell you this:

my stepdad bill, whom i was blessed to inherit as my own on may 23, 2008...he made an INCREDIBLE difference in this world. 

his faith, humble heart, wisdom, and unfailing love to those he loved (especially my mom), has left an everlasting, deep impression on not only my soul, but those who have known him.  

how BLESSED i am to have this heritage and legacy in my life...

bill and my mom built it with the most simple tool of all...faith in jesus.  

and now...thanks...

thank you friends.

who have loved us, emailed us, facebooked us :), texted us, hugged us, prayed for us, visited with us, and treated bill like a hometown hero. 

thank you specifically to dr. kruk and his pa, chelsea.  

although bill doctored for his cancer in pittsburgh, dr. kruk and chelsea were ON CALL, showing support, loyalty and an empathy that you crave in healthcare.  how appreciated these two people are!

thank you to home health.    specifically Kathy Graham.

kathy, you are loved and treasured by my mom and us. your support, friendship, care and protective care for bill has meant so much.  and thank you for being someone for my mom that was only a phone call away.  

thank you to dubois hospice.  

diane, debbie and michelle.  your on call support and care is GREATLY appreciated. 

thank you to jennifer jackson of Brady Street Florist.

we know that you went beyond and above for us.  the roses that adorned bill's casket, we had no idea that they would be so symbolic and would touch us so much.  they were MAGNIFICENT.  we appreciate you, your friendship, your expertise and talent. 

and thank you Baronick funeral home and crematorium, inc. 

jeff, you and frank - i have no words.  you came to transport our beloved bill, with a hug, and a beautiful quilt to cover him.  that alone was touching.  but the DOWN TO THE DETAIL service you provided for us, there are no words that could express our appreciation.  jeff, you were on our side, when we didn't realize we had a side.  what i mean, is that you would not settle for anything less than what out hearts needed and what was the absolute most organized, beautiful, and for lack of a better word - presentation, than we could have ever hoped for.  

to the city of Dubois, and 3rd ward hose house firefighters, and women's auxiliary...

i know that bill served with you and were friends of yours, but thank you for extending such kindness to our family.  the the firemen, thank you for your presentation and condolences.  your good-bye's and respects brought us to tears.    to the 3rd ward women's auxiliary, you touched my mom and us in your service, in ways that i may not ever be able to articulate.  you served our family, gave to us, cleaned up after our meal, and were so patient and kind....thank you thank you thank you...

to reverend dave naugle and pastor tim micheaux, 

thank you for your support, visits, friendship, support and prayers.  

and to my family and our beloved friends...

nays, bill, aunt michelle, uncle mike, aunt darla, mum mum...kim marie, kay kay...the extended swingle family, and to the betz, salvi, watt and ramsey families...thank you.

for your visits, love, food, prayers, visits, prayers, and more prayers. 

nays, bill and aunt michelle, thank you for sharing your talents and music so freely and beautifully.  you made a HUGE difference in our lives and in our goodbyes. 

a chapter has ended in a way...

but only in a way, that a new one has begun.  

never forget that our God is faithful.

and when you relive is lived dedicated to Him...

lessons and blessings are overflowing...

Philippians 3:7-14The Message (MSG)

7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.  

I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

he is their son...gotcha day 06.14.17

so many blessings...

again, i sit in front of my computer and shake my head at the way God has orchestrated people and events in my life.  

this one is a tear jerker.  that's your warning :)

the holes family lived across the street from us for about 6 or 7 years.  

during that time, their daughter, gretchen, became an important extension to our family.

after having our 3 babies in 3 years...i needed help!  

gretchen would watch our kids and help out with me.  

when she would babysit, we would come home to a cleaned up house, dishes done, cookies that had been made with the kids, and cards and pictures that she helped them with.  she NEVER ever ceased to amaze us with the responsibility she showed and the love and care she gave to our children.  and she was just a teenager!  we loved her so much, we wouldn't share her name with anyone, because we didn't want our beloved gretchen "taken" by another family for babysitting :)))

the holes family moved...not far away, but when they aren't across the street anymore, it was easy to just lose touch.  

a little bit ago, (the mom), suzi, contacted me.  after raising 5 girls, her and her husband austin, had opened up their home to foster children.  they were getting to adopt their first son, and asked if i could be there to memorialize it.  

yesterday was "GOTCHA DAY" for one very special little boy. 

and after all of this time, again, at such a pivotal time for this family, we were re-united again. 

introducing to the world:

 

 

what does one say at a time like this?

these past few weeks, and especially days,

have been hard.

emotional.

hard.

uplifiting.

hard.

full of life.

hard.

good-bye's, not whispered, but courageously spoken. 

hard.

wonderful.


as our bill prepares to begin his journey to his heavenly home, he and my mom's home here on earth has been filled with so so many visitors, so much prayer, so much singing, and with overflowing love.

two times now, my charlie has sat and blessed us all, with hours of his music.  

playing hymn after hymn, the great Cathedral songs, Andrae Crouch and more. 

we have sat around bill's feet and sang, cried, talked, and prayed. 


cancer is HORRIBLE.

the pain and suffering - despicable. 

to watch someone you love (honestly, how many of you out there KNOW this firsthand?), suffer at the hands of this body eating, bone breaking disease, is horrific.

but when there is hope.... 

no, not hope.  

...when you KNOW where and what you are going to, when your last breath leaves, i believe much more than hope enters in.  

an understanding....a peace...YES, even in the suffering.  


so the music, and words and visits have been amazing. 

and bear with me as i and my family try to heal as we journey, and i share much of what we have experienced. 


but today....i learned, as much as it is important to serve and give to bill....

my mom, has suffered as well.  

she would never tell you that.

she would tell you that it is an honor to get up at he break of dawn...to bathe bill...to shave and dress him, and to put cologne on him.  

to make him feel as if he is living, not dying, regardless of what his body feels like.  

to wake at all hours, to care for him to serve and keep him comfortable...yes, my mom needed "fed" in a huge way. 

today she was. 

cindy and joe...our blessed cindy and joe came to visit...from arkansas. 

cindy and my mom have been friends since 7th grade acapella chorus.  

i've often shared, that our families created the very first "life group."

we spent every important date together, and too many to count in between. 

cindy, joe, and their 3 children, dawn, tim, and joanna, were more like siblings to us than friends. 

to cut things short, life happened. 


in '83, my family moved from pitt, to the dubois area. 

while we still visited almost as much, in '88 joe, cindy and their family moved to arkansas. 

no more visits. 

the adults still talked, but us kids, we, were growing up. 

as God orchestrated, when my dad passed in 2006, he was living in the same city as cindy and joe in arkansas, and they along with their oldest daughter and my precious friend, dawn, were there for me to walk into the funeral home for the first time with my dad there. 

joe sat behind me at my dad's service in arkansas, as i spoke...

 and as we prepare to say goodbye to our bill, cindy and joe made it back to dubois.  the first time since 1988...for my mom. 

what does one say about a friendship like this?

what does one say, to look at the people that felt like another set of parents for more than half a life? 

no words...only tears...hugs, laughs, and prayers...

as cindy loved on my mom, joe grabbed my hand. 

the hand of a man that i TREASURED...who watched me grow, prayed with and for me, played, sang and danced with me, and now, holding my hand, loved me. 

and cindy, who saying goodbye, held my face as my mom does and whispered her prayers and love. 

what does one say?

when the people who love your mom so, thank and bless the man who has loved her?

i have no words...except..

"i'm blessed.  oh surely...i, she, he and we are blessed, over and over."

there is so much living to be found...

in the road to eternity that we call dying. 

thanks be to God and for the living.

 

 

 

introducing CLICK

Joelle Watt Studios

Student Ambassadors - CLICK

our Click group is a group of Seniors, but myself, along with  others from the area, will be mentoring them.

in turn, these students will accept to be mentors for girls younger than them as well.

we have a board of directors, events planned, and much more!

keep an eye out for our CLICK group!

 

 

mother's day...all kinds of mixed feelings...

growing up in church, for mother's day, must feel somewhat like the child of a hallmark store owner.  

you celebrate and capitalize on a holiday that not everyone receives happiness from.  

as a photographer over the years, i've witnessed much the same.  

i've photographed still born births...

images of moms who are are passing... 

children in foster care...

parents who have lost their beloved children...

and yet we try to wrap it all up in a bow and call it mother's day??

 

 

i think i still will...but no bow needed.  

there are all types of mothers....

 

mothers who birth us, raise us, and pray for us. 

mothers who step in with all the love as if they did do all of the above. 

there are mothers who smile, mothers who care, mothers consumed with too much life and problems and issues of life, to know how to care and love. 

 

but a mother is a mother.

and today, i celebrate the best of them.  

mothers that i have had the opportunity to witness being incredible, loving, WHOLE...and even more...

 

and even mine... she is PRICELESS. all i can do is stand and call her blessed. 

and my mother in law, who loves me as her own, and again, i find myself blessed. 

 

but mother's day is for the women who love the children with fierceness.  

with a strong, loyal and protective heart.  

and women, caregivers...mothers who above all....LOVE.

 

happy mother's day

 

 

 

 

Kati's story....the first in the "My Story" series....

 

Kati....who has lived in Hawaii for the past 3 years....

My shoot with Joelle Watt...

when I think back so many emotions run through my head.

Do you ever wake up and put your warm feet on the cold morning floor only to feel the warm breathe leave your body as you gasp feeling shocked and breathless? 

That's how I felt when I saw my pictures, awake, refreshed, breathless.

It had been a bit of a rough year and a rough Christmas when my very best friend and dear sweet brother called me. I was fighting back tears entirely overwhelmed and homesick as I scrubbed dishes and cooked Christmas dinner for those who are my friends at my base a million miles away from home, knowing I couldn't see my family that day and if tomorrow was bad, my birthday the next day would be worse. Much to my surprise my sweet brother called and wished me a merry Christmas and asked how much room I had in my suitcase....He paused for quite awhile and told me he'd just tell me the surprise he and his sweet wife sherri were getting me for my birthday:

a photoshoot with Joelle! Instant tears, squealing, running around the kitchen shrieking and crying. To say I was excited is a desperate underestimation. 

-Now back to the shoot.

My parents named me  Katelyn.  

Katelyn means pure.  

If there is anything I have been in life, it's not that.

I tried as hard to be exactly the opposite, and God let me run till I tired out...devastated and alone... because of my choices.  A million miles away from home and in my devastation, He calmly called to me.

He welcomed the prodigal.   

From then I've been slowly and surely growing and leaning on Him.

That has brought an understanding of how strength can be perfectly encompassed in a shell of weakness and how beauty is found in Him and not anything else.

To see myself through others' eyes is something special but to see myself through the eyes and lens of Joelle was unlike anything else.

God has spent a long time showing me my strength and worth that is found in Him... and that's something He'll continue to show me the rest of my life.

My mom and I talk almost every day which is truly a testament to God's changing power in my life. It's funny how someone I so entirely resented and disdained is now my best friend and one of my biggest role models.

My momma has told me since I got saved from my wildness and complete life of sinfulness that I'm a trophy of God's grace;

How undeniably beautiful is it to catch that strength and that knowledge of God's grace through the lens of Joelle's camera.

My photoshoot with Joelle was incredible.

Every woman should be able to see their strength, their beautify, their unadultured, raw womanhood perfectly portrayed in a picture... 

this was my session with Joelle Watt. 

-Kati

joelle's read:

it's odd first, to comment on what somebody has written to you about their life, their perception of their shoot, and lastly, how they ended up feeling.  

the other oddity- this is my brother in law's STUNNING sister, and his very best friend.

so my take...in honesty...and through my lens...

i knew gorgeous kati for many years...and of the struggles she so humbly opens her heart about.

what i did not know, was the strength, the humble heart, the depth, and the change in her. 

to see this incredible woman in front of my camera...confidant in every way, because of who only Jesus helped her to become, was like riding the best smoothest roller coaster.  

the emotions, truths, beauty, pictures, honesty, and FAITH, brought us to a point that, please don't think this is weird...we were one as we shot these images.  

 

kati girl...strong, cliff jumping, fearless, confident, humble kati....

I LOVE YOU

even more, i LOVE the story HE has written for you, and to have even a tiny part in it.

-xoxoox

joelle