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i received a card from the REAL SANTA!

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i got a card from the REAL SANTA!




i’m not even joking.  




a few years back i had the opportunity to meet the kindest man…the REAL SANTA. 




i called him on the phone (yes, i was able to obtain his REAL phone number….now i just need amy grants!!!::)

and i talked to him about visiting us at Brady Street Florist for our vintage Santa pictures. 




the whole time i talked to him, he “ho ho ho’d” and his beautiful, loving spirit gushed out with his every word. 




THIS YEAR, he agreed to visit with us once more. 




and yet again, on our shooting day, i was blessed with the opportunity to hear him love on the children as they whispered their wishes…

he listened attentively, encouraged each child, showering them with praises and sincere interest. 




i watched a grown man, laugh and love on so many children, welcoming them into his arms…without judgement…only love. 

THIS is Santa’s gift to the world. 

what God has spoken on his heart to share.




i know the images speak for themselves in how Santa enjoyed these children. 

but i can’t show you pictures of what santa did for me. 




Santa shared with ME, his delight in giving of himself. 

he didn’t try to show it, he lived it. 

and i realized that this was something that i had somehow let fall on my list. 




yesterday, i was able to speak with someone that needed a gift that i could give. 

they didn’t ask for this gift, but i felt the need all over my crowded, busy, self consumed heart.  

i felt God reminding me of whom He created me to be and why…

and i went to sleep feeling full of divine joy. 




today, as i was going through all of the holiday cards i have received, i picked up this special one again. 

the card that the REAL SANTA had sent to me. 




my heart leaped, and i laughed out loud with gratitude. 

seriously WHO gets a card form the REAL SANTA (not a helper!)??!!

and how blessed am i, that i was reminded by such a special individual that to GIVE is to live. 




you don’t need the real santa to be reminded of this. 

there are examples of this kind of love, living all around us. 

this season is so quickly coming to a close, but the need for us to share of ourselves, lives immensely all throughout the year. 




just a reminder, as you finish your wrapping and bustle…

it just may be, that the biggest most precious gift that you can give this year, is simply…YOU. 




-xx

joelle

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i'm not a jeweler, i'm a photographer :)

i have wanted a watch for about 3 years now.

but i knew the kind i wanted, and i wanted to find a good deal on it.



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i found it yesterday,

AND it was on sale!

i hesitated…like 2 seconds…

then i pulled out my saved birthday money :) and without hesitation now, handed the money over.



i was giddy!

i could hardly wait to get it on my wrist. 

but my wrists are tiny…i used to be too, but that’s another story. :)


i took my treasure home, and promptly googled how to take links out of a watch. 



i found this sweet, bubbly, little korean girl who was giving the most upbeat demonstration.

literally, her dad had bought an eyeglass repair kit at the dollar store (’tis what she said!)

and she popped out those watch link pegs like nobody’s business!

she took the links out, inserted the pegs back in, and 



WAAALLLAAAHH!

her watch fit perfectly…in like 4 minutes. 



so, i got to work…or i tried to. 

i tried a pin, a tiny screwdriver…

she told me to hit the screwdriver on top of the top of it, with another screwdriver head…it was so easy!


it wasn’t.


i bent two pins.

the screwdriver head couldn’t make enough force on the other screwdriver, so i used a meat mallet…


do you get the picture?



i gave up last night…

and had a plan to go to the dollar store to get that eyeglass repair kit today. 



and i did!

i also got a mini screwdriver set…

i couldn’t fail now…



i tried by myself again, and impaled my finger with a pin (bc ummm…the dollar store eyeglass repair kit AND mini screwdriver set were BOTH too big).

i got my blood on my watch AND in a public place ( i was waiting on some take out and was trying to make good use of my time!)



i went to my mom’s…

we tried together…



doesn't sheer determination mean something?

it should!



after trying way too long on something that i actually HAVE a jeweler FRIEND who could do this for me, 

i gave up.



i went to dave rossi’s jewelry tonight, and his brother bob helped me…lickity split. 



i tried explaining how the cute korean girl did it so easily, and how my mom told me that you tube video was not to be trusted…

and he laughed, as he worked with his SPECIAL watch fixing tools!!!  imagine that!



he knew how many links to take out…

he knew how my watch should fit…

no blood was spilled…

and i now am proudly wearing the watch i wanted so badly!



yes, there is a story…

a meaning…



the internet, pinterest, fb, google and you tube ALL make us feel like we should be able to do anything!

and a heck of a lot of us try.



but there are some things that we try, that we aren’t meant to be able to do. 

i guarantee you that mr. michael kors did not have his watch designing team, assemble his watch so i, the consumer could fix it myself. 

and that wasn’t even one of the reasons i wanted the stinking watch!



i wanted it, because i need it, and i waited for the one that i knew i wanted…

and it was worth it!



i love to teach photography…

but it takes time to learn. 



i love to shoot in my studio.

but i have studied photography, posing and lighting, for years and have spent thousands upon thousands, learning to do just that.



i love to interact with people, and to shoot memories for them at PRECIOUS, irreplaceable times in their lives…

family pictures, newborns, senior pictures and more…



you wait for these times…

they are important!



you can look for a sale, but don’t sell out on quality. 

do what you can yourself…

take as many pictures as you can of those that you love…



but when it come down to the real thing, 

recognize the real thing.

save for the real thing, 

understand the value of it, and hand it over to the real professional that can do that real thing for you. 

and you know what?  embrace it.



you won’t regret it…

photography fail?

i always tell people...

i'm better at photographing real people and emotions than something that is not living. 

it's true. 

i'm a born and TRAINED portrait photographer...

BUT, at times i try outside my comforts zone.

it's not a secret how much i love erie, and lake erie. 

these are some photographs that i took while i was there...

instead of capturing other's hearts, i felt my own while i shot...:)

it might not be people...but it is still what moves my heart!

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blame it on the tinsel and the sentimental...

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its strange what you remember isn't it?

 

one of my strongest christmas memories is of our tree. 

it's funny, i never remember decorating it, although i know i did because we have pictures of me doing so.  

i only remember the finished product.  

an ornament stuffed tree, and tinsel. 

so much tinsel.

 

i hated that tinsel.

i thought it was cheesy. 

i loved sitting around the tree, and the lights and the "feeling" but i thought i knew more about decorating a tree.

probably because i was young and thought i was much more sophisticated than my “older” mom, in fashion and taste. 

 

 

in the early years of marriage, and even with our children, i had the “styled” tree.

it was the tree i SHOPPED for. 

i dreamed up the vision and executed it. 

it was glorious.

perfection. 

the kids got older, and i kept my perfect tree.

i got them a tree for all of their homemade decorations and the ones that they were getting to save. 

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the past few years, my taste has changed. 

 

call me old.

call me sentimental.

call me nostalgic. 

 

but i’m hooked. 

 

i go through those homemade and mounds of decorations that we have accumulated over the years, and the treasure is ALL MINE, as i hang , and loop, and remember. 

 

i pile them all on. 

you can never have too many memories…

or class.

so i merge them both. :)

 

and this year i added tinsel.

 

my kids hate it. 

i don’t care. 

 

that tinsel sparkles and shows off the trove of treasures that weigh down the boughs of my tall pine (the tree - it’s fake...but tall pine sounded better ::)

 

i’m sure my kids wish for a simpler, more stylish tree.

yes, they have poked fun at me. 

but i don’t care. 

 

my bountiful, sparkling tree holds the tangible treasures of my heart in the most beautiful way. 

 

one day i'm sure they will see it all. 

it’s strange what you remember isn’t it? :) 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

at home and forever...HE IS ALIVE

it's another one of those nights.  geez they are frequent lately. 

we went to church tonight in lieu of tomorrow. 

but honestly, we haven't been to church in quite a while.

no, we aren't one of those, "only go easter and christmas families," but for various, and complex reasons, we have not gone - in too long. 

we listen online....and on the radio to many pastors and messages....

but tonight, BEING there, and feeling the Holy Spirit in the presence of the place, moved me so much....about 10 tissues full much. 

the music, the authenticity, the truth, the honesty of what christ did for us - His children...

as chris (our pastor) was talking about the crucifixion of jesus and the details...i looked for my notebook that i always carry in my purse.  i'm a "write it down or forget it" kind of girl. 

i couldn't find it so i pulled out my phone and typed into my notes..


 

a month or two back, our bill, had undergone major surgery.  he had at least 3 HOLES/drains in his back to let out, ugh - i guess what needed to come out.  

one sunday afternoon my mom called, asking me to rush over....when i got there...bill was seated, with his back exposed in the the bathroom.  i will never forget what i saw.

to keep it simple, he had a hematoma, it had erupted and was releasing through one of those holes. 

the blood, the fear, the intensity of the moments....and bill sat quietly.  allowing us to dress his wound to get the hospital while reassuring my mom.  

as i  helped him, i remember thinking..."he can't do a thing!  he is relying on us.  he has NO REASON to deserve this.  the ONLY thing(s) he has ever given my mom or her children is love, support, strength.....WHY????   why is he suffering and bleeding like this so much?"

you know what i realized that day?

no matter what physical hardship i have faced, BLOOD has made it more real than ever. 


so back to chris at church tonight.

yes, Easter... Jesus on the cross. 

mary magdalene, His closest friend among others...peter, john...his mother.....all had to sit and witness that horrific suffering and blood.  

blood being poured out.

suffering...

of someone they loved..who had nothing but love on them and EVERYONE.  

blood being poured out...

because He chose to put Himself there.

for you  - for me.

when all He ever did was love and give. 


 

i know what my heart felt watching bill, who is a father to me on earth...

can you imagine watching jesus...a father to all ?


 

it brought me back  ONCE again to the red velvet couch....

my mom stroking my hair...

my dad mixing and adjusting the sound to the song...by don fransisco... dancing...hands raised, fingers pointed to heaven....

"HE'S ALIVE."

my mom and her sisters went on to perform that song at many concerts for years to come...

but this song , my memory and its message made the act and purpose so clear....

and now with bill...and tonight with chris...i see it in a new way.

a way relatable to all...but sensitive to he hearts of those that see and hurt....

and tonight...i'm so grateful that HE IS ALIVE!

 

 

he watered my peace lily....and things look different

i've been quite honest on social media the struggle that i have been going through with depression.  

i never ever EVER could have know what was stored inside the heart and mind of one suffering in a depressive state. 


now i know…


its black...

thick...

pulling  you down under...

its like dying and letting go of all you thought lived and breathed in your life before. 



today, in our daily chatter, charlie mentioned...

"i watered the peace lily"

oh that lucky peace lily!

it sits at the landing on our main staircase.

and like much, much, much in my life, it has been neglected.

 

 

lately, as i pull myself up those 110 year old stairs, and weakly get to the landing, i notice...but really don't care...

brown huge leaves hang onto the steps. 

those steps that desperately need swiffered.

i notice the brown dead leaves and feel a comradership with that sorry plant.

it's dying...and i'ts a PEACE lily...

and i brush by it as it dies...


in the mornings i walk down those steps...to the same landing where it sits....

the steps i walked down to my husband to be over 16 years ago. 

that plant that stands where i paused on my journey down the stairs, to look over all my loved ones gathered to witness our love....then for my soon to be husband to walk up to meet me, kiss my hand and walk me the rest of the way down to be his bride. 

that plant stands where charlie and his family carried me up up up, as we laughed ,in our new old cast iron bathtub to be installed....oh the excitement!

the plant that stands where our immense stained glass window was placed, until we recently removed it for repair.  that same stained glass window that one late evening charlie noticed a self portrait in the glass...a self portrait of the builder and prominent first owner of our home...

the plant that stands where i walked my babies....1, 2 3 to their beds.  sleepily walked them downstairs during the long nights they stayed awake.  the evenings that we carried them over our shoulders playfully to tuck them in bed or to race them to the bathtub....

the plant that stands where my kids must pause for me every christmas morning for the "oh my gosh, look what santa brought," picture.

the plant that sat there -  that kept dying...

even in the perfect light....

in front of us all....

in the spot that had so much meaning in our home and lives....

"you watered the peace lily?" i asked him almost in amusment...

(charlie really doesn't care about houseplants....)

"yes", he said, "and i trimmed off the dead leaves...it looks like it is springing back already."

 

i crawled in bed tonight with those thoughts on my mind....and not unlike most moments of the days and evenings lately, i burst into tears.

the signifigance

depression has a way of making you feel dead and but still slowly dying at he same time. 

it makes you feel hopeless...

everything you see about ME feels and looks unrepairable...ready to be cast out.

 

just like that peace lily

yet, someone- that someone who happens to be the man that i love, stopped, watered it, nurtured it, pruned it...and it is comping back alive. 

 

and i ponder....


am i coming back to life?


it doesn't feel like it yet....well, at moments...precious, scared moments, i get to breathe air that feels possibly life giving.

yes, moments that i snap out of it and laugh with my kids, and kiss them and feel pride...

moments that i lay my head  on my husbands lap for him to soothe me and love me in any way he can to help me.

moments, that i feel loved...moments i am prayed over...

moments i feel important...

unfortunately, unlike the peace lily, the life isn't emerging as quickly....

the pruning, the sunlight, the water...it is healing that poor neglected plant much more quickly than my unsettled heart.

so tonight, as i crawled into bed, and started to wipe my tears away, i thought of the peace lily, and it beginning to thrive again. and i had to shove back my favorite fluffy comforter and just had to come back down to my desk and write about the hope that those greening leaves are bringing to me.

soon, i know,  beautiful white flowers will bloom, and we will brush by them on that landing as we hurry through our daily tasks.  

my prayer...as my heart and life begin to start to bloom again...

may i never brush past what miracle of life has happened...

because i know it is happening and i know it will.

even if you see me...with tears running down my cheeks (as they do anywhere and everywhere i go lately), just know, as i do....i'm being watered, nurtured pruned, loved,...and somewhere deep deep down, i just know those hopeful soft, yet strong white blossoms are starting to sprout.

 

 Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.  Philippians 1:6The Message (MSG)