will you?

behind the flag...a love story

sometimes there is a story that stops you in your tracks. 

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buckle in for this one.


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Codi's words will say it best...

"I actually never met Charlie or any of my brother's marine buddies until after his passing...

I can remember him saying that Charlie was his closest friend. They were both M1A1 Tank Crewmen and were stationed together at Fort Knox, KY.  Their unit then got activated and they both were transferred to Camp Pendleton, CA where they trained to be Combat Engineers and were attached to the Mobility Assault Company together. They trained in California before getting deployed to Afghanistan in April 2012.

While deployed, Lynn, Charlie's mom, and my mom, Sandy, would call each other when they heard from "the boys" (Alec and Charlie) so that both moms knew they were safe.

On September 3rd, 2012 Charlie and Alec went on a mission. 

My brother didn't make it out of that mission.

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His truck was hit by a 200lb IED.

The trucks are made to take the impact of an 80lb. bomb. They have never seen anything that big.

They only had 3 more months over there.

My brother absolutely loved his job. That day, he was the gunner, after begging his squad leader, but his typical job was driving the MRAPs (a vehicle made to take the impact of IEDs) while clearing the roads of IEDs. I can recall my brother telling me about Lion (Charlie) during his leave before going to Afghanistan.

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I knew Charlie was my brothers best friend.  It took me over a month to message him, but I had this feeling that I needed too (now I believe it was my brother telling me to reach out to him.) So, I messaged him through Facebook.

 We just causally talked. He told me that my brother was the best friend he ever had. He said they would walk everywhere together, the other would drop whatever they were doing just so the other wouldn't have to walk it alone. We continued messaging until they finally came home in November. For some reason I constantly worried about him.

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I officially met him at my brother's memorial at Ft. Knox, KY.

He and a couple other Marines then came back to our house, before going to their own homes, to see where Alec lived, grew up, and where he was finally laid to rest. 

Charlie and I then began to text, after meeting him. I definitely had a crush on him, but I knew it wasn't okay for me to like him. 

From some crazy reason, in December 2012, he invited me to come to Pennsylvania for a week, and I actually agreed to it.

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So I drove 10 hours to hangout with a guy I've only met once.

I brought a friend with me because I'm not completely crazy!

I kept thinking I had to figure it out

1) who my brothers best friend was


2) why I thought he was so attractive.

So, my friend and I came up and he completely swept me off my feet. I never had a man treat the way he did, and still does. He was such a gentleman. He took us to New York City, because I told him it was on my bucket list. After that, I could tell he thought I was cool too. 

We continued to text/call each other after my visit.  Each month when he went to Ft. Knox for drill, we would meet up, even if it was for 20 minutes. My mom and I then visited Charlie and his parents that summer and we continued to grow feelings for each other. We continued traveling back and forth for a year and a half without even holding a hand, just awkward long hugs (lol) but everyone knew we liked each other.

On March 21st 2014, when Charlie came down to visit he FINALLY asked me to be his girlfriend. I can't even explain the happiness that I felt in that very moment. 

With our long distance relationship we always try to spend every second together, when we get the chance. It doesn't even matter what we are doing as long as we are together.

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On October 18th 2014, Charlie decided to take me back New York City and propose in Central Park. I honestly had NO idea, but I can't even explain how surprised and overjoyed I was. 

I know Charlie is my soulmate. A true gift from my brother.

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It's too perfect to not be planned by God.

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Everyone says its a fairytale, and yes it is - 

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but nobody will understand the struggle we went through to meet each other.

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I thank God every day for him. I couldn't imagine a life without him in it. " - Codi

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codi & charlie, you are a DELIGHT. 

it is stories like this, that humbles my heart as i bring my camera to my face.  

thank you alec.  

thank you charlie.

thank you to all of those who have served and who are serving, as well as the families that love them.  


imagine the wedding...abbie & ben

oh my sweet friend abbie, and her hunk husband to be, ben!

abbie and i have worked together for years, and we have this chemistry together that just KNOWS.  it's just so natural. like, i think in my twenties, i secretly had abbie's style,  it's just changed so much that i forget i once loved to dress up and be glamorous!

we shot abbie and ben's engagement photos last summer in pittsburgh.  we walked and worked :), the cathedral of learning,  the mellon institute, and other great sites in oakland.  

i leave today to shoot abbie and ben's wedding.  

i am so stinkin' excited!!

if this is what we got for engagements pictures, can you even begin to imagine the wedding?  :)))

so excited abbie and ben!!  -xx

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i never meant to!

the thing is, when you are related to me, you HAVE to understand something….

i get overwhelmed easily.  ugh.

and when i get overwhelmed, the pictures i take for family…they get pushed back.

even when you ARE my sweet baby sister that i think the world of.  even when you are the girl i would do anything for, and show my love to in any way possible…..

i still make you wait...

i swear i never meant to!

it's my public apology :)))….so now here's your post and your pictures :)

my sister sherri & nathan...

who love to get dressed up…..

who love to dance…..

who love to run races….

who love the outdoors….

who love romance….

and old literature...

and anything vintage….

and baking...

and Jesus…..

and yep….each other :)

xoxox you two!

advice from a big sister to my engaged baby sister

sherri danae, 

you came out 10 minutes later than your "older" twin sister.  

looking at it now, maybe you have always been trying to catch up in life.  6 weeks premature, you were the sickly one.  the "tiny" one, as everyone started referring to you as.  it wasn't that shannon was so much bigger than you (because she wasn't!), it was just the significance of your pint sized stature…

it always seemed to collide with your health.  asthma that you fought... crazy allergies...it seems that there were about 6 halloweens in a row that you were in the hospital for your  asthma and pneumonia.

dad always said that you came out fighting. 

and if i didn't know your twin sister's heart the way i do, i would think that maybe you had to fight for your own place the whole time that you were in the womb.  i know that was not the case.  for you both are fighters…overcomers…and will not settle for failure….

maybe your feisty spirit was in also knowing you would need to start gathering that strength from the very beginning.

our quiet, sweet, strong sherri.

we could always see your wheels turning in your head full of blond springy curls.  

"uh oh, she's thinking again," we would say!

and then there was the the rhyme we recited..."there was a little girl, who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead….and when she good, she was very good…and when she was bad, she was horrid…"

you had the curl that hung just as the rhyme sang...and although it seems harsh to say or hear, you were horrid when your temper would fly!

no one could fight harder or scream louder than sherri danae.

your strength in that little machine of a body, served you well.

multiple state champion in gymnastics...

ranked nationally in cheerleading partner stunting...

your brains as you excelled in school….

your musical talent as you became a classical pianist and dynamic soloist….

on the outside, you were steel...you did it all, you thrived in everything...

those who love you, know that the outside not always told the complete picture.

the trials you faced, some too personal to account publicly, could have thrown anyone anyone to the curb.

then dealing front stage, with your eating struggle, gave everyone an inside look at some of the battles you faced daily.  watching you fade away…day by day, week by week, was torcher on those of us who loved you.  and as i told you many times, it hurt us deeply.

any struggle that we endure changes us.  we can let it take us over, or we can use it to make us stronger.  your struggle changed you.  it kept you locked inside.  it kept you from happiness, freedom…it kept you searching to put pieces together.  they were pieces that we wanted to place together FOR YOU, but no one could.  you had to do it yourself.  

you had to look at the pain, straight in the face.  

you had to hold your arms out to God to carry your burdens for you.

you had to re-create yourself in every way that you could try. you had to break through the glass to embrace the life in front of you.

today was so special.  

to see a man like nathan love you so tenderly yet so strongly makes my heart swell with love and happiness and pride.  

but i'm your big sister….

do you remember when i used to tell you, "i never want my pain to be in vain, girls!  learn from this…learn!"?

on such a happy, faith filled, hopeful day, that it seems like no cloud could fall on, remember this sweet girl….clouds do come…as does the rain.  and the choices that we make, one at a time, help to weave together the path on which we walk forward.  even as running a race, every step counts.  the steps you take alone and as a couple will keep you on course, and striving for your goal. 

your happiness arrives….a time in life you are able to embrace fully.  a freedom in living that i pray brings you so many blessings and much much joy.  

walk into this fully sherri.  grasp it for all its worth, and with every single breath counting.  you are an overcomer when you choose to overcome.  

i'm cheering you on, dolly.  loving you, praying for you….

congratulations to you and nathan both!

darling, you are so beautiful.


planning their future…brittany & anthony engaged

it was a brisk late fall day when i headed to brockway to meet up with the newly engaged brittany and anthony for their special engagement shoot.

it's hard to believe that i shot brittany's senior pictures (i think only yesterday!), and now she is getting ready to marry the love of her life, anthony.

this easy going,IN LOVE, beautiful couple was such a special treat to spend time with and to shoot.

best wishes you two...

i cannot wait to see what the future holds for the two of you together!



and don't forget to watch their beautiful video!