Death, Resurrection and Life Everlasting


The call came on the day we were leaving Wisconsin.  I had a wonderful trip with my daughter to visit her best friend who had just moved.  It was an unexpected blessing to leave the heat of Florida for the fall-like weather of Wisconsin.  The salty ocean was replaced with the cold waters of Lake Michigan and nights were spent sleeping with the windows open.

We had a late flight that day but the call came early that morning.  Dad had fallen and was being taken to the hospital.  He had spent a day and a half at home alone before calling 911.

The second call came shortly after the first.  Dad had fractured his neck and had a small internal injury that was expected to heal.  The doctors thought he would spend a few days in the hospital and go to rehabilitation before returning home.  My thoughts turned towards dad going home alone.  Mom had died just a year before so he spent his days alone at home.


And this is where home took on a completely new meaning.

After a week in the hospital and a few small complications I left Florida to go home.  My sister needed a break.  My brother had to return to Ohio.

Week two proved to be much more challenging.  Dad began to get weaker and his breathing worsened.  My sister and I spent days going back and forth to Duke visiting with dad.  On Saturday I decided to spend the day alone with dad to give my sister a break.  He got out of bed that day and sat in the recliner.  He fell into a deep sleep and I sat editing (I am a photographer) and watching him sleep.

A dear friend came to sit with me and we left dad to go grab lunch in the cafeteria.

Upon returning the entire team of doctors was waiting for me.  They could not wake my father.  He was rushed for tests and when he returned they had placed a mask on him to help his breathing.

As the mask and machine worked to pull carbon dioxide out of his body he began to wake.  The neck brace and the mask seemed to be fighting for space and dad had a hard time tolerating both.  I made several requests for assistance with the mask.  It wasn’t until evening that someone came.

My sweet friend left and I was alone with dad.  Alone with dad and a hidden book I had sent him over a year ago for his 80th birthday.  At that time mom had been alive and had hidden the book, awaiting his birthday.  She was in the hospital as we celebrated dad’s 80th birthday.

We had searched the entire house for the book, many times, without ever finding it.  I bought another book.  Mom went to be with Jesus and I hoped dad would find comfort through that new book when mom was gone.

Losing mom was so difficult.  It has been a very hard year.

Since my dad had been home alone for so long before calling for help we had to move his bed and a few other things in his room.  And under the bed my brother-in-law found a package addressed to dad and laid it on the chest in his room. This is where my sister found it.  The book we had searched over a year for had been found.  But it didn’t feel good.  That book is powerful.  God had left it hidden for a reason.  With Dad in the hospital and that book showing up, I had a sense of foreboding.

I carried it with me each day to the hospital.  I never opened it.  It never felt like the right time.  But that Saturday after my sweet friend left I began reading aloud to my father.  I read to him from the entry on June20th and then from the entry on January 27th, the day Mom died.

I cried and my dad cried.  Tears ran from underneath the mask on his face.  I began picking random dates and reading to him.  I told him that I knew he was tired.  He had said as much and I knew what that meant.  But I couldn’t be okay unless I knew that I knew where he would spend eternity.  I told him if he wanted to be in Heaven he had to ask Jesus to come and change his heart and his life.  As he cried and spoke through that mask to me he said, “I want to do that.”  And he did.

Dad asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior that night, in part from a powerful devotional called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, a book that I had sent to him a year earlier.  I read him his year-old birthday card that was inside the book and I showed him its original wrapping.  I reminded him how we had searched for that book for a year without finding it.  He nodded and cried.  I wept as he was born again right before my eyes.

And that day, more than a year ago, came rushing back. In the middle of Publix on a normal day: “Buy this for your dad.” I walked past the bookstand and the voice came again.  Still a whisper, but louder. 

In my walk with the Lord I have learned that when He wants my attention he gets it. 

All for my father’s salvation. 

For HIS glory.

A gift for my dad and a gift for me.  Intended for two.  Destined for Eternity.

That evening in the hospital as the pulmonologist tried to replace dad’s mask, my dad shouted “NO!” I looked at the doctor and told him my dad did not want the mask anymore.  I knew what that meant and so did Dad.

Everyone said goodbye to Dad and he told everyone he loved them and goodbye.  But he told my brother one thing more – that he was going to Heaven and that Jesus was his Savior.  That was the only person he told.  How special that his public profession of faith was to his only son.

My sister and her family arrived.  And then they all left except for my sister.  We sat with Dad until 2am.  He took his last breath at 11:22 that same morning.

On Father’s Day, June 21, 2015, my Dad met his Father.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  -John 11:25-26

I will see you soon, Daddy.  Hug mom and praise Jesus!  I miss you.

I wanted to add this from the funeral service program:

Memories of our dad:

 From the rides on the back of our riding lawn mower, Will’s first dirt bike, jumping in giant piles of leaves he somehow got the neighborhood kids to rake, and holding our horses at horse shows, our father loved us deeply.  We loved our Saturday morning trips to work with him and our super-special overnight business trips with Dad.

 As we grew into adulthood, Dad showed his love through the tears that filled his eyes as we left the house or the hugs he gave after a family dinner with him and Mom, letting us know how much love was in his heart.

 He enjoyed his tiny little office where he spent much of the last years of his life.  He painted.  He did crossword puzzles and read and read and read. 

 Just over a year ago, after 55 years of marriage, our mom died and he began to make biweekly trips to the gym, determined to lose weight and feel better.  On his 81st birthday, just 6 months ago, he did 81 crunches on his favorite machine!

 Just a few days ago, tears flowed from our father’s eyes as he called out to Jesus, anticipating an eternity in which we will all be reunited again.  He knew Jesus was waiting for him. 

Until we are together again Daddy, hug Mom and know we will be there.

 Your children, 

Julie, Will and Lyn


The Comfort Zone

My husband will quickly tell you that I like my comfort zone.  It’s, well, comfy.

My bed.

My pillows,

My fan blowing creating white noise.

Teenagers blow that out of the water…..

Not the sleeping part but all the rest of one’s life.  So we work to find ways to fit into their world and they into ours.  One thing we did this year that was TOTALLY different than anything we had done before was a ski vacation.  Utah, on top of that.  Because I didn’t grow up with such vacations I hesitated introducing our pack to said sacred “mommy/daddy” vacations.

Alas, we had a blast!  Fractured wrist and all.

More recently my daughter and I travelled to Wisconsin to visit her best friend as they have recently relocated because of careers.  Girl TIME!!!

I’m not a fan of airplanes but the two hour direct flight wasn’t bad and we had a great time.

I never knew that part of the country was so beautiful during this time of the year.

Lake Michigan…..

The lake looked like an ocean…..

And was clear and cold as ice!  Anna was the only one brave enough to touch the rocks.  I definitely got wet but it was because I slipped!  You won’t be seeing that photo!

The stones in the water and sand were as smooth as those you would find in a creek bed.

Those just had to make the trip back to Florida with us!

And these two had a blast together!  We miss you Anna!!!

We promise you can come to Florida when the snow is four feet high there!!!


Food Photography

Today in our Digital Photography Class we photographed all kinds of food, goodies and treats.  I had a blast with my class!!

I wanted a place to share with my parents what we did today so here is a small sampling of photos I took!

Master Chef Zach made us all types of pancakes.  I saw skittles, chocolate chips, and an array of strange things being cooked inside pancakes.







I love these guys!!!  They are my extended children!

Hello old friend…..

It’s been so long since I’ve had the time to sit and write.  Four kids in three schools this year has been crazy.

And I decided to teach a photography class.  (Let’s just make life a little more nuts!)

I am still working through the grief of mom dying 11 months ago.  We made it through Thanksgiving and now I’m staring down the barrel of Christmas.  Mark Schultz has a new song out.  “Different Kind of Christmas”  I cry each time I hear it.  I know mom is celebrating continually with Jesus.  Christmas in Heaven?  Does it even exist?

I pray that your heart and home is filled with the joy and love of Jesus this year.

I pray that you know God loves you this Christmas.

I pray that even if there is a loved one gone, you can celebrate the life that is missing at the table this year.

I pray that the legacy you have been left is celebrated, enjoyed and lifted up!

I pray God will dry your tears, wipe your eyes and lift your head.

All these things I pray for myself……

Life with Teenagers

Our lives are getting ready to encompass three teenagers.

One 15, one 14 and one 13.

Only our baby girl is hanging out at age 10.

I’m not sure there is anyting in life that prepares you for teenagers unless it is remembering back on your own teenage years and possibly talking to your mom everyday to remind you of what that was like.

Since mom is dancing happily with Jesus now I rely on my dad, my husbands memories, friends and God.

I thought three in diapers was hard.

There are football games, and homework and a new school to get accustomed to this year.  Football practice is five days a week.  Two of my boys leave at 8am and return around 7pm.  It is like having a job and more!



It’s a new season of our lives.  I’m proud of my kids and my two who play football starting as freshmen.  They are tough, talented and blessed.  They attend two different schools and play for two different teams.

HCS vs Westminster-12


It’s a crazy year.

But God always pulls through and provides for us.  Drivers.  Carpools.  Community.

How are you guys handling the new year with new grades and kiddos all over the place?

Winding up for Summer!

Life has been full of end of the year activities.

A football game that ended in a concussion for one of my boys.

A very hurt toe for baby girl.

And several weddings for me.

Today I took my camera out armed with a plastic bag over the lens just to have fun.  I left a small opening in the middle for focusing.  Here’s my setup:





Classy, huh?

And here are the fun photos this produced:

The top of a mushroom…


Our “very fast” guinea pig’s curious nose…


The perch coming out of our bird feeder…


and a closeup of one of those garden balls in my neighbor’s yard…


After a busy month is was nice to take a few minutes to play.  Speaking of which, I think I hear the pool calling!  Have a great day!

Two Weeks and Counting

Here we are in May and live has been a whirlwind the last two weeks.

Recitals, plays, talent shows, concerts, field trips……I almost feel like a homeschooler again.

One thing I wasn’t quite ready for is the emotions that surfaced when photographing this fine fellow:


Graduating from his present school and into high school is a big deal here.  His present school is preschool thru 8th grade.  So he is a senior to so many who are younger than him.  There were tears shed by other middle schoolers as the band performed for the last time Tuesday night.

Next year we enter a whole new era.


I’d love to say something witty here but all I’ve got is “They grow up way to fast!”

We are proud of you buddy!!!

The Last Nine Weeks

Today began the last nine weeks of school for three of my kiddos.  Having them home for Spring Break was great.  It made me miss homeschooling.  It made me love school.  I have two starting high school next year.  Someone pinch me.

High school?  And one will be driving soon….


Live is continuing to move at a rapid pace.  My baby girl will be in 4th grade next year.  My baby boy in 7th grade.

My photography business continues to grow.  I love it.  It’s been life changing!

Where did the little kids go?  I blinked and they were teenagers.  Men.  Muscles.  Hair.

Excuse me while I shake my head in disbelief.

I was eating with my husband the other day and almost stole a 2 year old (not really, but I did want to bring him home for a while.)

So life is changing and I feel like my blog will be too.  We will see…….

In the meantime go check out my fabulous and dearest friend Marian who just reworked her blog!  It’s amazing!  Check her out at her new home!



…the cat’s tail

I was fine today.


I read Scooper’s post – Living Free Through Our Unfixable Days


I found my mom’s obituary in a pile of photographs from NC.  Her face smiling up at me from a piece of newspaper torn from it’s page.  The ache to reach through the veil and touch her hand is all consuming in my deepest grieving.  Knowing I could touch her and see her while in the hospital brought a morbid and twisted, yet sweet sort of comfort.  Until her last breath……when I realized our bodies, no matter what we think of them, are just shells.

Shells on a beach without life inside.

Empty.  Used up.  Done.

And the concept of eternity hits home.  Our lives are just a blink.

Nothing in this world matters except the lives we touch.  The people we help.  The paths we cross.

And the pain spills from deep within me.

It’s a gut-wrenching, unfixable pain.

There is no way around it.  I have to walk smack-dab through it, trusting that on the other side is something besides a balled-up broken woman reduced to a child crying, “I want my mommy.”

The grief is more like a wail only explained and expressed in God’s written Word.

The wailing wall.

I’m there.


It’s there too.  Somewhere.  Calling.  Waiting.  Soothing like a mother’s touch.

I ponder God’s choice to willingly give us Christ.

I wonder how Christ willingly agreed.

The pain and the ache fill every corner of my body.  It’s felt in my bones, muscles and heart.

It’s expressed in solitude when only God watches.

It can not be controlled.  It will not be brushed away.

For this path, I’ve been asked to walk it.  Knowing He only gives us what we can handle.

He must think a lot of me.

And the cry is, “God, my God…..why?  I wasn’t ready.  I needed more time.”

The flood pouring from my soul inexplicable.  All of it boiling down to TRUST:

Day 15 on Facebook:

Grief is indeed a strange animal. It’s back. It’s like my cat’s tail. Sometimes it’s calm and other times it whips violently. In these times gratefulness is something I cling to with my fingernails. My memories of mom are sweet but they have a bite at the moment. I miss her so much.

Tenderness – mom was tender. She was loving. Her touch was tender and filled with love. I’m learning that nothing can replace that touch. I am a better person because of it. I also know that I would have never been ready to lose my mom. Never.

And I have to trust Gods perfect timing and pray for the work he is doing because of her death. I trust.

So I cry out to God and He comforts and loves me.  And the sun shines in the next hour.

For He is good.

What a difference a month can make!


On January 4th of 2014, just about a month ago, we celebrated as the first grandchild in the family got married.  Nana and Grandbo (above) were hamming it up for my camera as I shot candids at the rehearsal the night before.  We spent Christmas at home in Florida and then packed up to spend almost a week in Burlington, NC with my family.  My mom and sister worked tirelessly as they prepared for the wedding.

Two weeks later I got a phone call that mom was in the ER.  She was sick and her tummy hurt badly.

The next day they performed emergency surgery to see why her white blood cell count was so high.

She never woke up.

My mom passed from this world into Eternity with our Lord on January 27, 2014.

One month and I no longer have my sweet mom here to talk to, call on the way to pick up my kids, or to whine to when mommy-hood gets the best of me.

The first week was spent with my family doing all the things one does in preparation for a funeral.

The second week I flew home to Florida.

What I did not know is that I was flying home to a black hole.  One that called to me from a place I’d never been – a place of deep, bottomless grief.

Losing my mom has been the hardest thing God has asked me to walk through thus far in my life.

My reflections on her have become different in the light of God’s goodness and love.  What I once thought of as weakness is now strength.  Silently she walked out Jesus before me.  Often I did not see.  She loved without words.  She loved by serving and doing and being the best mom ever.

How did I ever miss that?

But I did.  Sometimes it was just what moms do.  Other times it was what I had gotten accustomed to and took for granted.  I never want to take kindness for granted again.

I’ve decided to chronicle parts of her life in a small celebration on Facebook.  It’s allowed me to think and write just a little at a time.  I’ve not had the brain power for a full blog post.  I still don’t.  So here is a few FB posts for those of you who haven’t read them:

Monday marks the two week mark of mom going to live with Jesus. So I thought I would try to write something great about her for the next two weeks. Please join me in praising our moms! My Mom was the kindest woman I have ever known. She always put others first.
Day 2 -Today marks two weeks since mom died. Today I remember selflessness. Mom always took the time to play board games with my kids. Whether we were at the beach or visiting Burlington you’d find her taking the time to soak up her grandchildren. Mom, thank you for loving them!
Day 3 – I’ve thought about what to write about mom a lot today. No particular word has come to mind except the overwhelming feeling of LOVE she imparted in my life.Mom loved. She loved gently, silently at times. But always with the peacefulness and quietness of Christ. She was a behind the scenes kind of worker. This is seen in her dedication to the church’s Altar Guild. She got things ready for Sunday morning, only a few knew she did it. She went to the grocery store every Friday. She cooked for our birthdays. She sent cards. She bought me a Holly Hobbie doll figurine on my adopted birthday just because I wanted one. I miss you mom. You made my life better


Day 4 – I have missed mom a lot today. The weather is cold and the kids are home sick and I have wanted to pick up the phone and call her because it’s snowing in Burlington. There was a word on my heart this morning, but try as I may I can’t get it to come to mind again.
So today, I choose funny. My mom had the same quirky sense of humor that my grandmother (her mom) had. I remember at the beach this year that she put on a funny hat and walked into my sister’s room acting like a rapper. OMG did she make us laugh. I have the picture on my phone and everytime mom would call that photo would pop up and I would smile just remembering how funny she was. 
It was just like her to stick out her tongue and for dad to be looking away as I tried to capture a “sweet” shot of her at my niece’s wedding. But no, out came the tongue and dad looked away. OUTTAKE!  (photo above)
I miss your laugh mom. I miss your silliness and your smile. Danielle just said “I miss Nana greeting us at the door no matter what time we got to Burlington.” Thank you again for being such a special mom, grandmother and friend. We still really miss you Nana!!!
Day 5 or my Two Weeks of remembering my mom with thankfulness in my heart. No one can say it better than Kid President today. So go ahead, take a few minutes to laugh, cry and hug your mom! Loving you today mom.


Hug your mom today.  Or call her.  Or give her a kiss.  I was blessed with two moms.  One who gave me life and another who raised me.  Now I am without both.  I know there is a party going on in heaven, but one earth, this child’s heart breaks.